RAF No 85 Squadron hurries

RAF No 6 Squadron

Motto: Oculi exercitus (The eyes of the Army)

Formed on 31 January 1914, again at Farnborough, it transferred most of its aircraft to the other squadrons in August 1914 and did not arrive on the Continent (Belgium), itself until October. However, it was soon on the move as the British Army retreated back into France. It immediately adopted the role of a corps squadron, which it maintained throughout the war.

Following the Armistice it was transferred to Iraq, arriving in July 1919. Operating in the Army Co-operation role in Northern Iraq, equipped with Bristol Fighters, the squadron remained there for ten years before moving to Egypt in 1929.

At the same time it re-equipped with Gordons and assumed the bomber role, Harts replacing these in 1935. Following problems in Palestine, the squadron relocated there in 1938 reverting to the Army Co-operation role with Hardy's, adding Gauntlets and Lysanders later.

It eventually left Palestine and started operations in the Western Desert, with Lysanders, in September 1940, although the squadron HQ remained in Palestine. Gradually Hurricanes replaced Lysanders in the tactical reconnaissance role, being fully equipped by June 1941. However, in August, these were replaced by Lysanders and Gladiators with some Blenheims and Hurricanes being added later, but all were removed again in January 1942 when the squadron assumed maintenance duties.

Receiving Hurricane IIDs in April 1942, the squadron now took on the role for which it would excel - 'tank busting', its Hurricanes being fitted with two 40mm under the wings. This role is commemorated in the nickname and its unofficial badge - 'The Flying Can-openers'. Converting to rocket firing Hurricanes, it fought through Italy and over the Adriatic and Balkans, returning to Palestine in July 1945.

It eventually replaced its last Hurricanes in late 1946, although it had operated some Spitfires since late 1945, becoming the last squadron to operate the type as first line equipment. Following Israeli independence in 1946, the squadron moved to Cyprus where it re-equipped with Tempests. In November 1947 it went to the Sudan, returned to Egypt in May 1948 and then continued to move around the Middle East until 1956 when it moved back to Cyprus. During these moves it had re-equipped with Vampires in 1949, Venoms in 1954 and the Canberra in 1957.

On 13 January 1969, it was reduced to cadre and returned to the UK, the first time it had operated from there since 1914; where on 7 May 1969 its badge and standard were handed over to a new No 6 Squadron which had been in formation as a Phantom unit at Coningsby in the tactical reconnaissance and ground attack role. However, on 1 July 1974, No 6 (Designate) Squadron began forming at Lossiemouth as a Jaguar unit and on 30 September 1974 the Phantom unit was disbanded with the squadron number-plate being transferred to the Jaguar unit. In November 1974 the new No 6 Squadron moved south to RAF Coltishall, where it remained until April 2006, when it moved to Coningsby. However, plans for the withdrawal of the Jaguar were accelerated and the squadron was disbanded for the first time in its history on 31 May 2007. The unit reformed as a Typhoon unit on 6 September 2010 at RAF Leuchars, with their Standard being presented on 8 September where it took over the Northern QRA from the Tornadoes of No 111 Sqn in early 2011.

Standards:

Award of Standard originally announced on 7 Sep 1943, effective from 1 Apr 1943 but presented:-
lst - 31 January 1954 AM Sir Claude Pelly
2nd - 31 October 1980 ACM Sir Keith Williamson
3rd - 1 Apr 2006 ACM Sir Jock Stirrup

Battle Honours:

Western Front, 1914-1918: Neuve Chappelle: Ypres, 1915: Loos: Somme, 1916: Ypres, 1917 Amiens: Hindenburg Line: Egypt & Libya, 1940-1943: El Alamein: El Hamma: Italy, 1944-1945: South East Europe, 1944-1945: Gulf, 1991 Iraq, 1919-1920: Kurdistan, 1922-1924: Palestine, 1936-1939: Iraq 2003:

Squadron Codes used: -

ZD Nov 1938 - May 1939
XE allocated May 1939, but probably not carried
JV Sep 1939 - Jul 1943, Jan 1946 - Oct 1949
EA - EZ Aug 1986 - Current

Aircraft

  • Hawker Hurricane MkIs
  • Hawker Hurricane MkIId

World War II events

1938 - In one incident two of the Hawker Hardys were shot down by Hostile Arabs rifle fire at Hebron. WOP/Air Gunner Jock Haxton DFM had to hide in a friendly Arab village disguised in Arab Clothing part of which he recently presented to the Squadron History room.

1939 - At the outbreak of the Second World War, the Squadron was at Ramleh and Haifa with a mixed bag of aeroplanes namely Hawker Hardys, Gloster Gauntlets & Gladiators and Westland Lysanders.

1941 - Eventually a Flight was equipped with Hawker Hurricane is to operate with the 2nd Armoured Division while two flights were stationed at Tobruk with Lysanders. An incident reminiscent of the Great War occurred at this time when Flight Lieutenant McFall, carrying out a Lysander reconnaissance, located the enemy unit and then landed beside our gun batteries to direct the fire.

1942 - The next major change in Squadron aircraft was to Hurricane 2Ds in April 1942. These aircraft were used extensively against tanks and earned the Squadron its nickname of "THE FLYING TIN OPENERS". An emblem symbolising the Flying Tin Openers is carried on the Jaguar today. W/Cdr R C Porteous DSO, was the C.O. from February.

1943 -S/Ldr D Weston-Burt DSO took over in January to be succeeded by W/Cdr A E Morrison-Bell, DFC, in May.

1944 - During this period, the Squadron never stayed in one place for long and in February 1944 when equipped with rocket firing Hurricane 4s they moved to Taranto, Italy and were employed against both land and marine targets. The Squadron transferred to the Balkan Air Force sometimes operating from airstrips in Yugoslavia.

Battle Honours

Battle Honours gained for the Second World War were "Egypt and Libya", "El Alamein", "El Hamma", "Italy 1944-45" and "South East Europe 1944-45." This year saw the command change three times. In May it was S/Ldr J H Brown DSO,DFC, who was killed in action. Then S/Ldr R H Langdon-Davies DFC, in August, followed by S/Ldr R Slade-Betts, DFC in November.

1945 - Peace came- but not for No 6 Squadron

 

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This webpage was updated 25th January 2019