No. 1 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

No. 1 Squadron was one of the first four squadrons formed at the birth of the Royal Flying Corps in 1912. For most of the 1930s it was based at Tangmere and equipped with the Hawker Fury. In October 1938 it reequipped with the Hawker Hurricane, taking that aircraft to France in September 1939 as one of two fighter squadrons allocated to the Advanced Air Striking Force.

Once in France the squadron was moved frequently. Even before the start of the Blitzkrieg the squadron moved six times, even moving on 10 May, the first day of the German offensive. In the six weeks after 10 May, the squadron moved a further five times, ending up at St. Nazaire covering the British forces withdrawing from western France.

On its return to Britain the squadron replaced its lost aircraft, and was placed in No. 11 Group. It took part in the first part of the battle of Britain, until on 9 September 1940 it was moved to Wittering to rest.

On its return to the south of England in December 1940, the squadron began the first of three periods of intruder operations over occupied France. The second covered the first half of 1942. The third spell of intruder missions lasted from January-June 1944.

The first period of intruder missions came to an end in the spring of 1941, when the squadron began a year of night fighter duties. With no radar, the Hurricane did not make a particularly good night fighter, and interceptions were rare.

The second period of intruder duties ended in July 1942 when the Squadron moved the Northumberland to convert to the Typhoon. After six months of preparation, the squadron was ready to use its new aircraft against German fighter bomber raids. In February 1943 it moved back to the south coast to operate against these fast low level raids.

After nearly a year on this duty, No. 1 Squadron began its third spell of intruder operations. During this period it also converted to the Spitfire Mk IX. The intruder missions ended in June 1944 at the start of the German flying-bomb campaign. No. 1 Squadron was one many squadrons moved to south-east England to deal with this new high speed threat.

Finally, with the end of the flying bomb campaign No. 1 Squadron joined the air war against Germany, carrying out long range bomber escort missions in support of the renewed daylight bombing campaign.

Aircraft
October 1938-February 1941: Hawker Hurricane Mk I
February 1941-January 1941: Hawker Hurricane Mk IIA
April 1941-January 1942: Hawker Hurricane Mk IIB
July 1941-September 1942: Hawker Hurricane Mk IIC
June 1942-September 1942: Hawker Hurricane Mk IIB
July 1942-April 1944: Typhoon IB
April 1944-May 1945: Supermarine Spitfire IXB
May 1945-October 1945: Supermarine Spitfire F.21

Books

In All Things First - No.1 Squadron at War 1939-1945, Peter Caygill. A very details day-by-day history of the RAF's premier single engined fighter squadron during the Second World War, a period that saw them take part in just about every aspect of the air war, from the Battle of Britain to providing daylight bomber escorts over Germany. [read full review]
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Hurricane Aces 1941-45, Andrew Thomas. This book covers the later career of the Hurricane, starting with its final months as a front line fighter in Britain in 1941 before moving on to look at its career in North Africa, the Mediterranean and over the jungles of Burma [see more]
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Hurricane Aces, 1939-40, Tony Holmes. A look at the men who flew the Hawker Hurricane during the first two years of the Second World War, when it was arguably the most important front line fighter in RAF service. This book covers the Phoney War Period, the German invasion of the West, the Battle of Britain and the early use of the Hurricane in North Africa and from Malta. [see more]
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Group and Duty
September 1939-June 1940: Fighter squadron with Advanced Air Striking Group (France)
June 1940-September 1940: Fighter squadron with No. 11 Group
September-December 1940: Recuperating at Wuttering
December 1940-Spring 1941: Intruder missions over France
Spring 1941-Spring 1942: Night fighter duties
Spring 1942-July 1942: Intruder missions over France
July 1942-February 1943: Converting to Typhoon
February 1943-January 1944: Fighter squadron operating against low level fighter bombers
January 1944-June 1944: Intruder operations
June-Autumn 1944: Anti-flying bomb campaign
Autumn 1944 onwards: Long range bomber escort duties

Location
17 August 1928-29 September 1939: Tangmere
9-29 September 1939: Octeville (France)
29 September-9 October 1939: Norrent Fontes
9 October 1939-11 April 1940: Vassincourt
11-19 April 1940: Berry-au-Bac
19 April-10 May 1940: Vassincourt
10-17 May 1940: Barry-ac-Bac
17-18 May 1940: Conde-Vraux
18 May-3 June 1940: Anglure
3-14 June 1940: Chateaudun
14-17 June 1940: Nantes/ Chateau Bougon
17-18 June 1940: St. Nazaire
18-23 June 1940: Northholt (U.K.)
23 June-1 August 1940: Tangmere
1 August-9 September 1940: Northolt
9 September-15 December 1940: Wittering
15 December 1940-5 June 1941: Northolt
5 January-7 April 1941: Kenley
7 April-1 May 1941: Croydon
1 May-1 June 1941: Redhill
1-14 June 1941: Kenley
14 June-1 July 1941: Redhill
1 July 1941-8 July 1942: Tangmere
8 July 1942-9 February 1943: Acklington
9 February-15 March 1943: Biggin Hill
15 March 1943-15 February 1944: Lympne
15 February-3 April 1944: Martlesham Heath
3 April 144-22 April 1944: North Weald
22-29 April 1944: Ayr
29 April-20 June 1944: Predannack
20-22 June 1944: Harrowbeer
22 June-11 July 1944: Detling
11 July-10 August 1944: Lympne
10 August-18 December 1944: Detling
18 December 1944-8 April 1945: Manston
8 April-14 May 1945: Coltishall
14 May-23 July 1945: Ludham

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (19 April 2007), No. 1 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/1_wwII.html

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