No. 204 Squadron RAF


No. 204 Squadron RAF
No 204 Squadron RAF
Active 23 Mar 1915(RNAS) - 15 Oct 1915
31 Dec 1916 - 31 Mar 1918
1 Apr 1918(RAF) - 31 Dec 1919
1 Feb 1929 - 30 Jun 1945
1 Aug 1947 - 20 Feb 1953
1 Jan 1954 - 1 Apr 1971
1 Apr 1971 - 1 May 1972
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Motto Latin: Praedam mari quaero
("I seek my prey in the sea")[1]
Battle honours Home Waters, 1915
Western Front, 1917-18
Atlantic, 1940-45
Norway, 1940
Arctic, 1941
Insignia
Squadron Badge heraldry On water barry wavy, a mooring buoy, theron a cormorant displayed[2]
The badge is based upon a photograph made by Aircraftsman T.E. Shaw (Lawrence of Arabia)[3]
Squadron Codes RF (Apr 1939 - Sep 1939)[4]
KG (Sep 1939 - 1943)[5]
T (Jan 1954 - 1956)[6]

No 204 Squadron was a Royal Air Force squadron formed in 1918 near Dunkerque, France, from No 4 Squadron Royal Naval Air Service, which had already been formed in 1915 and reformed once in 1916. The squadron served during World War I in the roles of bomber, scout and fighter unit. After that war the squadron was reformed as a flying boat unit, a role that it continued till the end of World War II. After World War II the squadron was reformed as a transport unit and as last role it performed duties as a maritime reconnaissance, shipping surveillance and search and rescue unit.

Contents

History

Formation and early years

A replica Sopwith 1½ Strutter flying at a 2006 air show
The Shuttleworth Collection's Pup in flight
Sopwith Camel at the Imperial War Museum

No 204 Squadron RAF was originally formed from the Dover Defence Flight on 23 March 1915 at Dover as No 4 Squadron RNAS, flying a variety of aircraft. It moved to Eastchurch on 3 August 1915 and the unit was redesignated there as No 4 (Naval) Wing in October. The squadron was reformed on 31 December 1916 at Coudekerque[3] from 'A' Squadron of No 5 (Naval) Wing and was originally equipped with Sopwith 1½ Strutters for the bomber role, but in March 1917 these were replaced with Sopwith Pups and the unit converted to the scout[3] role. June 1917 saw a conversion to Sopwith Camels and the squadron began its role of fighter squadron. Unlike some of its fellow naval units No 4 remained in the coastal zone, flying escort to RNAS bomber aircraft and carrying out offensive patrols along the coast. On Monday 1 April 1918 the squadron, like all other RNAS and RFC units, was absorbed into the newly formed RAF, being stationed at Bray Dunes near Dunkirk at that time.[1] Towards the end of the war No 204 squadron began providing escorts to bombers of the Independent Air Force and carried out ground attack missions against German troops and columns. The squadron stayed for a few months at their last station in Europe, Heule near Kortrijk, Belgium after the Armistice and eventually returned to RAF Waddington in February 1919, disbanding there on 31 December of the same year.[1][3]

During its war, the squadron had produced nineteen aces, including such notables as Charles Hickey, Albert Enstone, Ronald M Keirstead, John EL Hunter, Alexander MacDonald Shook, Adrian Tonks, Arnold Jacques Chadwick, William Craig, Robert M. Gordon, Langley Frank Willard Smith, Charles Allen, Henry Gordon Clappison, Geoffrey Hemming, Thomas Nash, and Osborne Orr.[7]

The interbellum

Two Supermarine Southamptons

No 204 squadron reformed on 1 February 1929 as a general reconnaissance flying boat squadron at RAF Station Mount Batten, Devon (formerly RAF Cattewater)[8] near Plymouth, equipped initially with five Supermarine Southampton flying boats. At that time the squadron had yearly cruises to train the crews and to provide photographs for the 'Coastal Air Pilot'.[8] 1930 saw a cruise to Dublin and Queenstown, while 1931 brought the squadron to Oban.[8] The squadron took three of its aircraft on a cruise to the Mediterranean in 1932 and in 1933 made a similar flight, starting with four aircraft and flying to Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the Baltic states.[8]

A Supermarine Scapa

In August 1935 the first Supermarine Scapa arrived to re-equip the squadron and next month No 204 Sqn moved to Aboukir, Egypt during the Abyssinian crisis, while the last Southampton left the squadron by October of that year. The squadron stayed awhile in Egypt, flying patrols to check on Italian shipping. Returning to the UK in August 1936, Saro Londons started replacing the Scapas in October and five of these were taken to Australia in December 1937; due to propeller problems[9] these did not return to the UK until some six months later, in May 1938. In June 1939 conversion to Short Sunderlands began and No 204 squadron was fully equipped with eight of these flying boats by the end of September of that year.[9]

A Saro London II of No. 204 Squadron RAF shown fitted with a dorsal fuel tank

World War II

A Short Sunderland

At the outbreak of war No 204 Squadron began patrols over the English Channel and the Western Approaches. When Germany invaded Norway in April 1940, British forces were sent to support the Norwegians and the squadron was moved to Sullom Voe, Shetland to patrol the North Sea and Norwegian coast. The squadron remained in Shetland after the subsequent withdrawal of British forces and the collapse of Norway, but in April 1941 came a move to Reykjavík, Iceland. The stay in Iceland was a short one though and in July 1941 the squadron was sent to Gibraltar and the following month even further south, to Bathurst, The Gambia in West Africa. For the rest of the war the squadron flew anti-submarine patrols along the coasts of West Africa, disbanding at RAF Station Jui in Sierra Leone on 30 June 1945.

Post-war

Transport

Douglas Dakota with open hatch at the 2008 'Flying Legends' air show at Duxford, UK
Vickers 664 Valetta T.3 'N-B' of RAF College Cranwell at Blackbushe Airport

On 1 August 1947 No 204 squadron reformed at RAF Station Kabrit, Egypt as a transport squadron and flew with Douglas Dakotas, the military transport version of the well-known Douglas DC-3, until these were replaced by Vickers Valettas in July 1949. On 20 February 1953, the squadron was disbanded by being renumbered to 84 Squadron.

Maritime reconnaissance, shipping surveilance and search and rescue

Eleven months later the squadron reappeared as it was reformed on 1 January 1954 at RAF Station Ballykelly as a Avro Shackleton maritime reconnaissance squadron. Several overseas cruises were undertaken, amongst them a successful one to South-Africa to convince them to buy Shackletons for themselves,[10] a trip in 1956 to the Middle East in a transport role and a detachment to Australia from August until November 1957, to support a Nuclear trials task force. The squadron ceased operations at Ballykelly on 1 April 1971. On the same day the squadron number was transferred to the Majunga Detachment Support Unit at RAF Honington and the newly reformed squadron became responsible for the various detachments operating from Majunga, Tengah and Masirah on Search and Rescue (SAR) and shipping surveillance duties.

204 and the UN sanctions against Rhodesia

A Shackleton, possibly of 204 sqn, performing a mail drop over Beira street, September 1971, photographed from aboard HMS Minerva

In 1965, Ian Smith's minority white government of Southern Rhodesia made a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in what is now known as Zimbabwe, leading to United Nations sanctions against what was up until then a British colony. One of the major thrusts of this action was to try and deprive the country of oil. Being land-locked, Rhodesia relied on a pipeline through Mozambique from the port of Beira. Up until 1972, the sanctions were applied by the Royal Navy working with the RAF, which undertook reconnaissance flights of the Beira Straits from its airfield at Majunga in Madagascar. The RAF was located at the airfield close to the port of Majunga on the north-west coast of Madagascar. No 204 Squadron was a unit tasked with this responsibility, just prior to the evacuation and closure of the station in March 1972. It operated a detachment of two Avro Shackleton MR.2s. The last flight with these took place on 17 March 1972 and the squadron was disbanded shortly after on 28 April 1972.

Aircraft operated

From To Aircraft Variant
Mar 1915 Oct 1915 Various
Dec 1916 Mar 1917 Sopwith 1½ Strutter
Mar 1917 Jun 1917 Sopwith Pup
Jun 1917 Feb 1919 Sopwith Camel
Feb 1929 Oct 1935 Supermarine Southampton Mk.II
Aug 1935 Jan 1937 Supermarine Scapa
Oct 1936 Jul 1939 Saro London Mks. I & II
Jun 1939 Sep 1943 Short Sunderland Mk.I
Jun 1941 Mar 1943 Short Sunderland Mk.II
Oct 1942 Jun 1945 Short Sunderland Mk.III
Apr 1945 Jun 1945 Short Sunderland Mk.V
Aug 1947 Jul 1949 Douglas Dakota C.4
May 1949 Feb 1953 Vickers Valetta C.1
Jan 1954 May 1958 Avro Shackleton MR.2
May 1958 Feb 1960 Avro Shackleton MR.1A
May 1959 Apr 1971 Avro Shackleton MR.2C

[3][10][11][12]

Squadron Stations

From To Station
23 Mar 1915 3 Aug 1915 Dover, Kent
3 Aug 1915 15 Oct 1915 Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey, Kent
31 Dec 1916 1 Apr 1917 Coudekerque, Belgium
1 Apr 1917 2 Jan 1918 Bray Dunes, France
2 Jan 1918 6 Mar 1918 Walmer, Kent
6 Mar 1918 13 Apr 1918 Bray Dunes, France
13 Apr 1918 30 Apr 1918 Téteghem, France
30 Apr 1918 9 May 1918 Cappelle, France
9 May 1918 24 Oct 1918 Téteghem, France
24 Oct 1918 11 Feb 1919 Heule (near Kortrijk), Belgium
11 Feb 1919 31 Dec 1919 RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire (as a cadre)
1 Feb 1929 27 Sep 1935 RAF Mount Batten, Devon
27 Sep 1935 22 Oct 1935 RAF Aboukir, Egypt
22 Oct 1935 5 Aug 1936 Alexandria, Egypt
5 Aug 1936 2 Apr 1940 RAF Mount Batten, Devon
2 Apr 1940 5 Apr 1941 RAF Sullom Voe, Shetland
5 Apr 1941 15 Jul 1941 Reykjavík, Iceland
15 Jul 1941 28 Aug 1941 RAF Gibraltar, Gibraltar
28 Aug 1941 28 Jan 1944 Bathurst/Half Die, Gambia (Dets. at Gibraltar; Jui, Sierra Leone and Port-Étienne, Mauritania)
28 Jan 1944 1 Apr 1944 Jui, Sierra Leone (Dets. at Half Die and Port-Étienne)
1 Apr 1944 8 Apr 1944 Half Die, Gambia
8 Apr 1944 30 Jun 1945 Jui, Sierra Leone (Dets. at Half Die, Port-Étienne, Fisherman Lake, Liberia and Abidjan, Ivory Coast)
1 Aug 1947 22 Feb 1951 RAF Kabrit, Egypt
22 Feb 1951 20 Feb 1953 RAF Fayid, Egypt
1 Jan 1954 1 Apr 1971 RAF Ballykelly, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland
1 Apr 1971 28 Apr 1972 RAF Honington, Suffolk (Dets. at Majunga, Madagascar; Tengah, Singapore and Masirah, Oman)

[1][3][10][11]

Commanding officers

From To Name
Mar 1917 27 Jul 1918 Squadron Commander BL Huskisson
27 Jul 1918 10 Nov 1918 Maj. E.W. Norton
10 Nov 1918 21 Nov 1918 Maj. L.S. Breadner
21 Nov 1918 10 Dec 1918 Maj. E.W. Norton
10 Dec 1918 10 Jan 1919 Maj. P. Huskisson
10 Jan 1919 31 Dec 1919 Maj. R.S. Lucy
1 Feb 1929 9 Dec 1930 S/Ldr. F.H. Laurence, MC
9 Dec 1930 1 Jan 1934 S/Ldr. K.B. Lloyd, AFC
1 Jan 1934 1 Oct 1936 S/Ldr. A.W. Fletcher, DFC, AFC, OBE
1 Oct 1936 19 Oct 1937 S/Ldr. V.P. Feather
19 Oct 1937 18 Mar 1940 W/Cdr. K.B. Lloyd, AFC
18 Mar 1940 14 Aug 1940 W/Cdr. E.S.C. Davies, AFC
14 Aug 1940 22 May 1941 W/Cdr. K.F.T. Pickles
22 May 1941 28 Feb 1943 W/Cdr. D.I. Coote
28 Feb 1943 24 Mar 1943 W/Cdr. P.R. Hatfield
24 Mar 1943 19 Sep 1943 W/Cdr. C.E.V. Evison
19 Sep 1943 17 Aug 1944 W/Cdr. H.J.L. Hawkins
17 Aug 1944 12 Jan 1945 W/Cdr. A. Frame
12 Jan 1945 30 Jun 1945 W/Cdr. D. Michell
1 Aug 1947 15 Jan 1948 S/Ldr. H.S. Hartley
15 Jan 1948 22 May 1950 S/Ldr. R.A. Pegler
22 May 1950 1 Oct 1952 S/Ldr. L.W. Davies
1 Oct 1952 20 Feb 1953 S/Ldr. H.H. Jenkins
1 Jan 1954 25 Jul 1955 S/Ldr. G. Young
25 Jul 1955 3 Jun 1957 W/Cdr. W. Beringer
3 Jun 1957 23 Jul 1958 W/Cdr. A.D. Dart, DSO, DFC
23 Jul 1958 1 Jun 1960 W/Cdr. J.C.W. Weller, DFC
1 Jun 1960 14 Jun 1962 W/Cdr. R.D. Roe, AFC
14 Jun 1962 1 May 1964 W/Cdr. C.K.N. Lloyd, AFC
1 May 1964 7 Mar 1966 W/Cdr. J.J. Duncombe, AFC
7 Mar 1966 17 Jun 1968 W/Cdr. P. Kent, MBE
17 Jun 1968 14 Apr 1969 W/Cdr. O.G. Williams
14 Apr 1969 1 Apr 1971 W/Cdr. E.P. Wild
1 Apr 1971 1 May 1972 S/Ldr. D.E. Leppard

[3][10][11]

References

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d Halley 1988, p. 264.
  2. ^ Halley 1971, p. 5.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Rawlings 1978, p. 320.
  4. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 13.
  5. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 61.
  6. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 127.
  7. ^ http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/england/hunter2.php Retrieved 5 March 2010.
  8. ^ a b c d Halley 1971, p. 59.
  9. ^ a b Rawlings 1982, p. 133.
  10. ^ a b c d Rawlings 1982, p. 134.
  11. ^ a b c Halley 1971, P. 68.
  12. ^ Halley 1988, p. 265.

Bibliography

  • Ashworth, Chris. Encyclopedia of Modern Royal Air Force Squadrons. Wellingborough, UK: Patrick Stevens Limited, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-013-6.
  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937-56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Halley, James J. Famous Maritime Squadrons of the RAF, Volume 1. Windsor, Berkshire, UK: Hylton Lacy Publishers Ltd., 1973. ISBN 0-85064-101-2.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918-1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE, BA, RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Lewis, Peter. Squadron Histories: R.F.C, R.N.A.S and R.A.F., 1912-59. London: Putnam, 1959.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1969 (new edition 1976, reprinted 1978). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.

External links


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