No. 119 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.119 Squadron had two incarnations during the Second World War, first as flying boat squadron originally formed to operate three Short S.26 class flying boats, and then as a land plane squadron operating against German E-boats.

On 21 September 1940 'G Flight' was formed to operate the three Short S.26 flying boats 'Golden Fleece', 'Golden Hind' and 'Golden Horn'. These civilian aircraft were given turrets and bomb racks, and used for maritime patrols, the first of which came on 15 December.

On 13 March G Flight was turned into No.119 Squadron. Two 'C' class boats, 'Clio' and 'Cordelia' joined the 'G' class boats, and remained in use until October 1941 when they were withdrawn for use as transport aircraft.

In August 1941 the squadron had moved to Pembroke Dock, where it soon found itself without aircraft and non-operational.

The squadron began to reform as an operational unit at Lough Erne on 14 April 1942, originally operating the Consolidated Catalina. The first aircraft arrived in May, and in August eleven crews went to Canada to ferry new aircraft across the Atlantic. The last of these aircraft arrived on 15 September, but by this point the squadron had returned to Pembroke Dock and was preparing to convert to the Sunderland.

Sunderland patrols began on 20 November 1942, but only continued for a few months, and the squadron was disbanded on 17 April 1943.

No.119 Squadron reformed on 19 July 1944 from the Albacore Flight of No.415 Squadron (R.C.A.F.) when the rest of the squadron went to join the Canadian group of Bomber Command.

The new No.119 Squadron formed part of No.155 (GR) Wing of Coastal Command, and carried out patrols off the Dutch coast, hoping to catch German E-boats and R-boats. In October 1944 the squadron moved to Belgium, to bring it closer to its targets, and added the German's new midget submarines to its target list. In January 1945 radar equipped Swordfish arrived to replace the Albacores, and the squadron scored some victories over the midget subs. The squadrons last patrol came on 11 May and it returned to the UK to disband on 25 May.

Aircraft
March-October 1941: Short S.26/M
April-August 1941: Short S.23/M
June-July 1941: Consolidated Catalina Ib
May-September 1942: Consolidated Catalina IIIa
September 1942-April 1943: Short Sunderland II and III
July 1944-January 1945: Fairey Albacore I
January-May 1945: Fairey Swordfish III

Location
March-August 1941: Bowmore
August-November 1941: Pembroke Dock

April 1942-October 1944: Lough Erne
October 1944-May 1945: B.83 Knocke/ Le Zoute
May 1945: Bircham Newton

Squadron Codes: W, U, R, Q, NH

Duty
Coastal Command

Books

Bomber Offensive, Sir Arthur Harris. The autobiography of Bomber Harris, giving his view of the strategic bombing campaign in its immediate aftermath. Invaluable for the insights it provides into Harris’s approach to the war, what he was trying to achieve and the problems he faced. Harris perhaps overstates his case, not entirely surprisingly given how soon after the end of the war this book was written (Read Full Review)
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Short Sunderland Squadrons of World War 2, Jon Lake. A look at the service carrier of the most successful British flying boat of the Second World War, and a key component in Coastal Command's battle against the U-boat. Covers the introduction of the aircraft, its role in the Battle of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, West Africa and other theatres.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (3 December 2010), No. 119 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/119_wwII.html

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