RAF No 616 (South Yorkshire) Squadron

Motto: Nulla Rosa Sine Spina (No rose without a thorn)

On 1 November 1938 No 503 Squadron re-located to Doncaster and was re-numbered No 616 (South Yorkshire) Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force. It was originally equipped with Hind light bombers but from 15 November it was re-designated a fighter unit. It re-equipped with Gauntlets in 1939 and Spitfires in November 1939.

It began the Battle of Britain in its home county of Yorkshire but in mid August it joined the main battle when it moved to Kenley. Fighter sweeps over the continent began in April 1941 receiving Spitfire IIs in February 1941 and VBs in July 1941. In April 1942 it received the high altitude version of the Spitfire, the Mk VI and from September 1943, the Mk VII.

However, before the last Spitfire had left a new aircraft was arriving in the form of the RAF's first jet fighter, the Gloster Meteor. These arrived just in time to meet the threat posed by the V1 flying bomb, for which the squadron was retained in Britain. In February 1945 a detachment of the squadron went to Belgium, with the whole squadron moving to Holland in April 1945 and when the war ended the squadron found itself at Lubeck, where it disbanded on 29 August 1945.

With the reactivation of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, 616 was reformed on 10 May 1946 at Finningley as a night fighter unit equipped with the Mosquito NF 30. It became a day fighter unit again in 1948 and that December received the aircraft that it had introduced into service four years earlier, the Meteor F 3. Meteor F 4s arrived in April 1950 and F 8s in December 1951, but along with all the flying units of the RAuxAF it was disbanded at Worksop, where it had moved in 1955, on 10 March 1957.

Squadron Codes used: -

QJ Apr 1939 - Jul 1941
YQ Jul 1941 - Aug 1945, 1949 - Apr 1951
RAW Jul 1946 - 1949

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This webpage was updated 30th June 2023