No. 210 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.210 Squadron had two incarnations during the Second World War, both as home-based anti-submarine warfare squadrons, achieving most of its successes during its second incarnation. The squadron was reformed as a home-based flying boat squadron in 1931. In the pre-war years it took its aircraft overseas twice - to Gibraltar during the Ethiopian crisis of 1936, then to Algeria from September to December 1937 where it formed part of an Anglo-French force created to protect neutral shipping from attacks by Italian submarines supporting the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War.

In June 1938 the squadron began to convert to the Short Sunderland and was fully equipped with the new aircraft by the end of the year. Its first operational flight of the Second World War came on 3 September 1939 and in the early months of the war the squadron flew patrols over the northern exits from the North Sea, with detachments at Invergordon and Sullom Voe. In July 1940 the squadron moved to Oban to begin patrols over the Atlantic. In April 1941 it converted to the Catalina, and in February 1942 it moved to the Shetland Islands. 

In the summer of 1942 a force of Catalinas from Nos.210 and 240 Squadrons were posted to the Kola Inlet and Lake Lakhta near Archangel, in an attempt to provide some anti-submarine cover for the Russian convoys. The very next convoy, PQ.17, suffered the heaviest losses of any of the Russian convoys after being ordered to disperse. The Catalinas based in Russia played a major part in the safe arrival of the fourteen ships to survive the disaster. In the aftermath of this disaster the entire squadron was posted to Russia as part of a larger search-and-strike wing, although the Catalinas remained based at Invergordon unless they were called into action, in which case they could land at their Russian base. The first operational sorties under this system were made on 11-13 September, and saw the Catalinas remain airborne for 18 hours before reaching Grasnaya.

In October 1942 a detachment from the squadron moved to Gibraltar in preparation for Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. The rest of the squadron moved to Pembroke Dock, then in April 1943 to Hamworthy. The Gibraltar detachment survived until December 1943 when it became part of No.202 Squadron, and at about the same time all remaining operational aircraft in the UK were transferred to No.302 Ferry Training Unit.

On 1 January 1944 No.190 Squadron was renumbered as No.210 Squadron. The renumbered squadron flew anti-submarine patrols from the Shetlands for the rest of the war, disbanding on 4 June 1945. This led to the squadron's most successful period, in which it sank four U-boats between 18 May and 18 July 1944. One of the squadron's pilots also won the VC during this period. On 17 July Flying Officer J. A. Cruickshank flew his aircraft in an attack on U-347. Despite being severely wounded he continued to fly the aircraft until the U-boat had been sunk before handing over to the already wounded second pilot. Despite being badly wounded Cruickshank survived to receive his medal in person.

U-601

 25 February 1942

 NW of Lofoten Islands

U-254

 23 September 1942

 Arctic

U-241

 18 May 1944

 NE of Shetland Islands

U-476

 24 May 1944

 SW of Lofoten

U-347

 17 July 1944

 W of Narvik

U-742

 18 July 1944

 w of Lofoten Islands

Aircraft
June 1938-April 1941: Short Sunderland I
April 1941-March 1944: Consolidated Catalina I and Ib
August 1942-December 1943: Consolidated Catalina IIa and III
March 1944-June 1945: Consolidated Catalina IV

Location
October 1938-July 1940: Pembroke Dock
    October-November 1939: Detachment to Invergordon
    November 1939-May 1940: Detachment to Invergordon and Sullom Voe
July 1940-February 1942: Oban
February-October 1942: Sullom Voe
October 1942-April 1943: Pembroke Dock
    October 1942-December 1943: Detachment to Gibraltar
April 1942-January 1944: Hamworthy
January 1944-June 1945: Sullom Voe

Squadron Codes: DA, J (Catalina IV)

Duty
1939-1943: Home based anti-submarine warfare
1944-1945: Home based anti-submarine warfare

Part of
September 1939: No.15 G.R. Group; Coastal Command
15 February 1943: No.19 Group; Coastal Command
10 July 1943: AHQ Gibraltar; Mediterranean Air 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 (15 February 2011), No. 210 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/210_wwII.html

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