No. 23 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

At the start of the war the squadron was equipped with the Blenheim IF, and it retained this barely adequate night fighter for the next year and a half. From the start of the war until December 1940 the squadron was used as a defensive night fighter squadron, although as its Blenheims were not yet equipped with radar they had very few successes.

Douglas Havoc I (Intruder) of No.23 Squadron
Douglas Havoc I (Intruder) of No.23 Squadron

The Blenheim was better suited for the night intruder mission, and on the night of 21-22 December six Blenheim's IFs of No.23 Squadron took part in the first night of Operation Intruder, attacking German bomber bases in Normandy. For the next two years the squadron would operate as an intruder squadron, attacking German targets in occupied Europe. During this period the Blenheim was replaced by the Havoc and then the Boston III, before in July 1942 the first Mosquito NF.Mk IIs arrived.

In December 1942 the squadron was transferred to Malta, to fly intruder missions over Sicily, Italy and Tunisia. In December 1943, with the Allied armies in Italy, No.23 Squadron moved to Sardinia, and expanded its range of operations to include northern Italy and the south of France.

In May 1944 the squadron returned to Britain, and on 1 June it joined No.100 Group. This was the group dedicated to supporting Bomber Command's heavy bombers over Germany. For the rest of the war No.23 Squadron flew night intruder missions, mostly over Germany, aimed at disrupting the German night fighter defences.

Public Relations Release, No.23 Squadron, February 1944 (top half)
Public Relations Release, No.23 Squadron, February 1944 (top half)
Public Relations Release, No.23 Squadron, February 1944 (bottom half)
Public Relations Release, No.23 Squadron, February 1944 (bottom half)
Alexander Lawson's Log, 23 Squadron, Sardinia, 3 December 1943-14 January 1944
A. Lawson's Log, 23 Squadron, Sardinia, 3 December 1943-14 January 1944

Aircraft
December 1938-April 1941: Bristol Blenheim IF
March 1941-August 1942: Havoc
February-August 1942: Boston III
July 1942-September 1943: de Havilland Mosquito NF Mk II
May 1943-September 1945: de Havilland Mosquito NF Mk VI
August-September 1945: de Havilland Mosquito 30

Location
16 May 1938-31 May 1940: Wittering
31 May-12 September 1940: Collyweston
12 September 1940-6 August 1942: Ford
  12-25 September 1940: Detachment to Middle Wallop
6-14 August 1942: Manston
14-21 August 1942: Bradwell Bay
21 August-13 October 1942: Manston
13 October-11 December 1942: Bradwell Bay
11-27 December 1942: On way to Malta
27 December 1942-7 December 1943: Luqa
  3 September-5 October 1943: Detachment to Signella
  5 October-1 November 1943: Detachment to Gerbini Main
  1 November-7 December 1943: Detachment to Pomigliano
7 December 1943-8 May 1944: Alghero
8-19 May 1944: Blida
19 May-2 June 1944: Returning to UK
2 June 1944-25 September 1945: Little Snoring

Squadron Codes: YP

Duty
1939-December 1940: Defensive night fighter
December 1940-December 1942: Night Fighter Intruder
December 1942-December 1943: Night Fighter Intruder, Malta
December 1943-May 1944: Night Fighter Intruder, Sardinia
June 1944 onwards: Night Fighter Intruder, Britain, No.100 Group

Books

Blenheim Squadrons of World War Two, Jon Lake. This book looks at the entire RAF service career of the Bristol Blenheim, from its debut as a promising fast bomber, through the deadly disillusionment of the blitzkrieg, on to its work in the Middle East and Mediterranean, where the aircraft found a new lease of life. Lake also looks at the use of the Blenheim as an interim fighter aircraft and its use by Coastal Command.
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 Mosquito Fighter/ Fighter-Bomber Units of World War 2, Martin Bowman. The second of three books looking the RAF career of the Mosquito covers its use as a night fighter, first on the defensive in the skies over Britain, and then as an intruder over Occupied Europe and Germany, and finishing with a look at the "Mosquito Panic" [see more]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 May 2008), No. 23 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/23_wwII.html

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