No. 219 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.219 Squadron was a night fighter unit that took part in the Battle of Britain then spent two years on defensive duties before moving to North Africa during 1943. It returned to Britain in 1944 to join 2nd Tactical Air Force and operated as an offensive night fighter squadron during the invasion of Europe.

The squadron reformed on 4 October 1939 at Catterick and was equipped with the Blenheim 1F fighter. Its initial role was to protect coastal shipping, but it was soon used for night patrols, with detachments scattered around the north in an attempt to increase coverage.

Most of the squadron's contributions to the Battle of Britain came at night but it made a rare contribution to the day battle on 15 August, the day that saw the Germans make their only major daylight attack on the north of England from Scandinavia. The squadron's Blenheims were used to intercept part of a German formation that crossed the Yorkshire coast, but they proved to be too slow to catch the Junkers Ju 88s being used on the raid - one chase lasted for 160 miles without success.

In October 1940 the squadron moved south where it was used in an attempt to protect London against the night raids. At the same time the squadron began to receive the new Bristol Beaufighter, getting one of the first five to be issued to night fighter squadrons. 'B' Flight of No.219 Squadron became the first Beaufighter unit to be declared operational and on the night of 25 October Sgt Arthur Hodgkinson shot down a Dornier (either a Do 17 or Do 215), the first enemy aircraft to be shot down by the Beaufighter. This was something of a false dawn, and the Beaufighter didn't really come into its own as a night fighter until 1941

No.219 Squadron remained in the south of England until June 1942, serving as a defensive night fighter squadron, before returning to the north in June 1942.

In May 1943 the squadron left for North Africa, becoming operational at Bone in late June 1943, and scored its first victory in North Africa on 30 June. Although the Germans and Italians had been thrown out of North Africa they continued to send occasional raids across the Mediterranean, including one against Bizerta on 6 September in which the squadron shot down four Heinkels. In September 1943 the squadron moved to Sicily to help defend the island against night raids from the Italian mainland.

In January 1944 the squadron returned to the UK, joined the Second Tactical Air Force and converted to the Mosquito.  The squadron flew intruder missions over France and the Low Countries, as well as covering the D-Day beaches in the period after D-Day. The squadron moved to France in October 1944 and remained there for the rest of the war, not returning to the UK until August 1945.

October 1939-December 1940: Bristol Blenheim IF
October 1940-May 1943: Bristol Beaufighter I
May 1943-January 1944: Bristol Beaufighter VI
February-December 1944: de Havilland Mosquito XVII
June 1944-September 1946: de Havilland Mosquito 30

October 1939-October 1940: Catterick
October-December 1940: Redhill
December 1940-June 1942: Tangmere
June-October 1942: Acklington
October 1942-April 1943: Scorton
April-May 1943: Catterick

June 1943: Casablanca/ Cazes
June 1943: Maison Blanche
June-August 1943: Bone
August 1943-January 1944: La Sebala

February-March 1944: Woodvale
March 1944: Honiley
March-April 1944: Colerne
April-August 1944: Bradwell Bay
August-October 1944: Hunsdon
October 1944-June 1945: B.48 Amiens-Glisy
    February-June 1945: Detachment to B.77 Glize-Rijen
June-August 1945: B.106 Twente
August 1945-May 1946: Acklington
May-September 1946: Wittering

Squadron Codes: FK

1939-1943: Defensive night fighter squadron, UK
1943: Defensive night fighter squadron, North Africa and Sicily
1944-1945: Offensive night fighter squadron, 2nd TAF

Part of
8 August 1940: No.13 Group; Fighter Command
10 July 1943: Bone Sector; North African Coastal Air Force; Northwest African Air Forces; Mediterranean Air Command
6 June 1944: No.11 Group; Air Defence of Great Britain; Allied Expeditionary Air Force


Bristol Beaufighter, Jerry Scutts (Crowood Aviation). A detailed look at the development and service career of the Bristol Beaufighter, the first dedicated night fighter to enter RAF Service. Superceded by the Mosquito in that role, the Beaufighter went on to serve as a deadly anti-shipping weapon, and to earn the nickname "whispering death" over the jungles of Burma.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (22 February 2011), No. 219 Squadron (RAF): Second World War,

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