No. 221 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.221 Squadron was a Wellington-equipped maritime patrol squadron that operated from Britain until the start of 1942, then moved to the Mediterranean where it spent the rest of the war.

The squadron reformed on 21 November 1940 at Bircham Newton and was equipped with the Vickers Wellington. Convoy escort patrols began on 23 February 1941, and these were joined by shipping reconnaissance missions off the Dutch coast from March. In May the squadron moved to Northern Ireland and began a period of anti-submarine patrols. Between September and December 1941 the squadron operated from Iceland, where it continued to serve in the anti-submarine role.

In January 1942 the squadron was posted to the Middle East. Its aircraft were flown out in January and February, while the ground crews followed by sea. The aircraft were attached to No.47 Squadron until the ground crews caught up with them. In March the reunited squadron began to fly a mix of shipping reconnaissance, strike missions and anti-submarine patrols over the Mediterranean.

A detachment of torpedo-armed Wellingtons from the squadron operated from Malta until being absorbed by No.69 Squadron on 26 August 1942. During this period the squadron was involved in Operation Vigorous, an attempt to get a convoy from Alexandria to Malta. On the night of 14-15 June four torpedo-armed Wellingtons from the squadron were sent to attack an Italian Battlefleet that had put to sea to intercept the convoy. Although the Wellingtons found their targets the Italians put up a smoke screen that prevented them from scoring any hits. A force of Beauforts from No.217 Squadron was more successful later on 15 June, crippling the cruiser Trento.

In July 1942 the main part of the squadron received a flight of Liberators from No.120 Squadron, which remained with it until 29 October. During this period the squadron's main role was to locate and illuminate Axis convoys to allow other forces to attack them, although the squadrons own torpedo-armed Wellingtons were also used for attacks on convoys.

By May 1943 most enemy shipping had been cleared from the Mediterranean, and the squadron spent an increasing amount of time either bombing Italian ports or on anti-submarine patrols. By September the anti-submarine patrols became a full time role, but this phase only lasted until March 1944 when the squadron moved to Italy. The squadron then flew a mix of shipping reconnaissance and anti-shipping strikes over the Adriatic. This was followed by a move to Greece in October 1944, from where the squadron flew a mix of bombing missions, anti-submarine patrols and supply drop missions over the Balkans.

The squadron moved to Egypt in April 1945 and was disbanded on 25 August 1945.

Aircraft
December 1940-June 1942: Vickers Wellington IC
January 1942-January 1943: Vickers Wellington VIII
January-December 1943: Vickers Wellington XI and XII
September 1943-August 1945: Vickers Wellington XIII

Location
November 1940-May 1941: Bircham Newton
May-September 1941: Limavady
September-December 1941: Reykjavik
December 1941: Limavady
December 1941-January 1942: Docking

January 1942-March 1942: LG.39
    January-August 1942: Detachment to Luqa
March-June 1942: LG.89
June-August 1942: Shandur
August 1942-January 1943: Shallufa
January 1943-March 1944: Luqa
March-October 1944: Grottaglie
October 1944-April 1945: Kalamaki/ Hassani
April-August 1945: Idku

Squadron Codes: DF

Duty
27 October 1942: No.248 Wing, No.201 Group; RAF Middle East, detachment with No.247 Wing, No.201 Group
10 July 1943: No.248 Wing; AHQ Malta; Mediterranean Air Command; detachment with No.328 Wing; No.242 Group; North African Coastal Air Force; Northwest African Air Forces; Mediterranean Air Command

Role
1940-1941: Maritime Patrol, Home Based
1941: Anti-submarine patrols, Iceland
1942-1943: Anti-shipping, Mediterranean
1943-1944: Anti-submarine patrols, Mediterranean
1944: Anti-shipping, Adriatic
1944-1945: Bombing, anti-submarine, supply drops, Greece and Balkans

Books

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (22 February 2011), No. 221 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/221_wwII.html

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