No. 238 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.238 Squadron was a fighter squadron that took part in the Battle of Britain before moving to the Mediterranean, where it took part in the fighting in North Africa, the invasion of Sicily and the invasion of Italy. It was then reformed as a transport squadron, and took part in the invasion of Burma.

The squadron was reformed on 16 May 1940 as a Spitfire squadron, but converted to the Hurricane in June. The squadron was posted to Middle Wallop in late June, and remained there during the first two phases of the Battle of Britain - the period of convoy battles and the German attacks on RAF bases near the coast. From 14 August to 10 September the squadron was posted to St. Eval in Cornwall, thus missing the main German assault on Fighter Command, but it returned to Middle Wallop on 10 September, at the start of the period of daylight raids on London.

In May 1941 the squadron began to move to the Middle East. The ground echelon sailed around the Cape of Good Hope, while the aircraft embarked on HMS Victorious for the trip to the Mediterranean. They were then flown off to Malta where they refuelled, before flying on to the Western Desert.  The aircraft arrived before the ground crews, and operated with No.274 Squadron until the two halves of the squadron were reunited. Independent operations resumed at the end of July 1941.

The squadron was used for bomber escort missions and fighter patrols from then until after the battle of El Alamein. During the pursuit that followed El Alamein Nos.213 and 238 Squadrons took part in a daring operation when they were moved to a position behind enemy line. In two days in mid-November they claimed to have destroyed nearly 300 vehicles, and they were then removed on 16 November before the Germans could react.

After this dramatic operation the squadron was pulled back to provide part of the air defence of Egypt, where in September 1943 it converted to the Spitfire. In March 1944 the squadron moved to Corsica, where it flew fighter sweeps across northern Italy. In August 1944 the squadron covered the Allied landings in the south of France, moving onto French bases soon after the invasion. It remained there for two months before being withdrawn to Naples. The squadron was disbanded on 31 October 1944.

No.238 Squadron was reformed on 1 December 1944 at Merryfield as a transport squadron. Originally it was to be equipped with the Albemarle, but in January 1945 it was given the Dakota instead. Extra transport aircraft were urgently required in Burma, and so on 14 February the first ten Dakotas departed for India. The squadron dropped supplies to Allied troops and evacuated battlefield casualties, and played a part in the reconquest of Burma. In June 1945 it was moved to Australia, where it began to provide support for the British Pacific Fleet. The squadron was disbanded on 26 December 1945.

Aircraft
May-June 1940: Supermarine Spitfire I
June 1940-September 1941: Hawker Hurricane I
September 1941-January 1942: Hawker Hurricane IIB and IIC
January-May 1942: Hawker Hurricane I
May 1942-September 1943: Hawker Hurricane IIB and IIC
January 1943-April 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VB and VC
September 1943-October 1944: Supermarine Spitfire IX
June-October 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VIII
January-December 1945: Douglas Dakota

Location
May-June 1940: Tangmere
June-August 1940: Middle Wallop
August-September 1940: St. Eval
September 1940: Middle Wallop
September 1940-April 1941: Chilbolton
April 1941: Pembrey
April-May 1941: Chilbolton
May-June 1941: HMS Victorious
June 1941: Takali
June-July 1941: LG.07
July-September 1941: LH.92
September-November 1941: LG.12
November 1941: LG.123
November 1941: LG.12
November-December 1941: LG.123
December 1941: Bu Amud
December 1941: Gazala No.1
December 1941: Msus
December 1941-January 1942: Antelat
January-February 1942: El Gubbi
February-May 1942: Gambut
May-June 1942: LG.121
June 1942: Gambut West
June 1942: Gambut 2
June 1942: Sidi Azeiz
June 1942: LG.155
June 1942: LG.76
June 1942: LG.07
June 1942: LG.13
June 1942: LG.15
June 1942: LG.21
June 1942: LG.105
June-September 1942: LG.92
September-October 1942: LG.154
October-November 1942: LG.172
November 1942: LG.20
November 1942: LG.101
November 1942: El Adem
November 1942-January 1943: Martuba
January 1943-January 1944: Gamil
January-February 1944: LG.106
February-April 1944: Mersa Matruh
April-May 1944: Poretta
May-July 1944: Serragia
July-August 1944: St. Catharines
August-September 1944: Cuers/ Pierrefeu
September-October 1944: Le Vallon
October 1944: Naples (Ground echelon)

December 1944-February 1945: Merryfield
February-March 1945: Raipur
March-December 1945: Parafield (1st)

Squadron Codes: VK (Hurricane I), KC (Spitfire 1943-44)

Duty
1939-1941: Fighter Command
1941-1944: Fighter Squadron, Middle East then Italy
1945: Transport Squadron, Far East

Part of
8 August 1940: No.10 Group; Fighter Command
11 November 1941: No.258 Wing; A.H.Q. Western Desert; Middle East Command
27 October 1942: No.243 Wing; No.212 Group; A.H.Q. Western Desert; Middle East Command
10 July 1943: No.219 Group; H.Q. Air Defences Eastern Mediterranean; RAF Middle East; Mediterranean Air Command

Books

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (11 July 2011), No. 238 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/238_wwII.html

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