No. 204 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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Short Sunderland I of No.204 SquadronNo.204 Squadron was a Sunderland squadron in Coastal Command that spend most of the Second World War flying anti-submarine patrols off the coast of West Africa. The squadron was reformed at Plymouth on 1 February 1924 as a flying boat squadron. It began to convert to the Short Sunderland in June 1939 and was fully equipped with eight aircraft by the end of September. At the start of the war it began to fly patrols over the channel and the western approaches.

Short Sunderland of No.204 Squadron at take off
Short Sunderland
of No.204 Squadron
at take off

The squadron's best known exploit during this period was the rescue of the crew of the Kensington Court, a tramp steamer that had been torpedoed seventy miles off the Sicily Islands. One Sunderland from No.204 Squadron and another from No.228 managed to land close to the one overcrowded lifeboat and between them rescued the entire crew.

In April 1940 the squadron moved to the Shetlands to fly patrols off Norway. On 8 April one aircraft from the squadron became the first British aircraft to make contact with the German naval forces taking part in the invasion of Norway, but sadly the report gave the wrong heading for the German ships, and helped to convince the Navy that the Germans were attempting a breakout into the Atlantic. The squadron had more luck on 9 April, finding the Hipper at Trondheim.

In April 1941 the squadron moved to Iceland, then in July to Gibraltar. Finally, in August 1941 it moved to Gambia and began to fly anti-submarine patrols off West Africa. Although no U-boats were sunk, the RAF presence in West Africa convinced the Germans to withdraw their U-boats from the area. The squadron was disbanded on 30 June 1945.

Aircraft
October 1936-February 1937: Saro London I and II
June 1939-September 1943: Short Sunderland I
June 1941-March 1943: Short Sunderland II
October 1942-June 1945: Short Sunderland III
April-June 1945: Short Sunderland V

Location
May 1938-April 1940: Mount Batten
April 1940-April 1941: Sullom Voe
April-July 1941: Reykjavik
July-August 1941: Gibraltar
August 1941-January 1944: Bathurst/ Half Die
January-April 1944: Jui
April 1944: Bathurst
April 1944-June 1945: Juio

Squadron Codes: sss

Duty
1939-1941: Home Based Coastal Command
1941: Coastal Command, Iceland then Gibraltar
1941-1945: Anti-submarine patrols, West Africa

Part of:
September 1939: No.15 G.R. Group; Coastal Command

Books
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. cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (7 February 2011), No. 204 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/204_wwII.html

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