No. 243 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.243 Squadron had three incarnations during the Second World War, first as a fighter squadron at Singapore, second as a fighter squadron in the Mediterranean and finally as a transport squadron in the Pacific.

The squadron was reformed for the first time on 12 March 1941 at Kallang, and was one of a number of fighter squadrons in Malaya and Singapore to be equipped with the poor Brewster Buffalo. When the Japanese attacked all of the Buffalo squadrons suffered heavy losses, and by the end of January 1942 No.243 had been merged into a mixed force of surviving aircraft. The squadron was officially disbanded on 20 January 1942, and the surviving fighters evacuated from Singapore a few days later. They continued to serve with the composite unit until it was destroyed.

The squadron was reformed for the second time on 1 June 1942 at Ouston, using No.242 Squadron's Spitfires. The new squadron was operational on 12 June, and performed defensive duties until the end of September. It then passed its aircraft on to No.232 Squadron, and in November sailed for North Africa.

The squadron became operational again with the Spitfire in January 1943 in Algeria. It spent the rest of the Tunisian campaign flying sweeps and providing fighter escorts for day bombers. In June the squadron moved to Malta to perform the same duties over Sicily. The squadron moved to Sicily soon after the invasion, and then into the Salerno beachhead.

In December 1943 the squadron was withdrawn to convert to the Spitfire IX. In April 1944 the new aircraft were taken to Corsica, from where they were used on ground attack and escort missions over northern Italy and southern France. In August 1944 the squadron helped cover the invasion of southern France, and like many squadrons involved in that invasion disbanded before the end of the year, in this case on 31 October 1944.

The squadron was reformed for the third time on 15 December 1944 at Morecambe. On 17 December the new squadron embarked for Canada, where it trained on the Dakota. In January 1945 the squadron began to move across the Pacific to Australia, from where it operated a number of communications flights linking British bases in the South West Pacific. The squadron's main duty was to support the British Pacific Fleet, and by the end of the war it was operating regular scheduled services. Hong Kong was added to the list of destinations soon after the Japanese surrender. The squadron was disbanded on 15 April 1946 in Australia, and the large number of Australians serving with it were demobilised in situ.

Aircraft
March 1941-February 1942: Brewster Buffalo I
June-September 1942: Supermarine Spitfire VB
January 1943-March 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VB and VC
June 1943-September 1944: Supermarine Spitfire IX
January 1945-April 1946: Douglas Dakota IV

Location
March 1941-January 1942: Kallang

June-September 1942: Ouston
September-November 1942: Turnhouse

December 1942: Philippeville
December 1942-January 1943: Constantine
January 1943: Bone
January 1943: Tingley
January-May 1943: Souk-el-Khemis
May 1943: La Sebala II
May-June 1943: Mateur
June-July 1943: Hal Far
July 1943: Comiso
July-August 1943: Pachino South
August 1943: Lentini West
August 1943: Panebianco
August-September 1943: Catania Main
September 1943: Cassala
September 1943: Falcone
September-October 1943: Tusciano
October-November 1943: Capodichino
November-December 1943: Gioia del Colle
December 1943: Kabrit
December 1943-January 1944: Aleppo
January-April 1944: Ramat David
April 1944: Alto
April-July 1944: Poretta
July-August 1944: Calenzana
August-September 1944: Frejus
September 1944: Montelimar
September-October 1944: Le Vallon
October 1944: Gragnano (ground echelon)

December 1944: Morecombe

December 1944-February 1945: Dorval
    January-March 1945: Detachment to Merryfield

February 1945-April 1946: Camden, N.S.W.

Squadron Codes: SN (Spitfire), VM (Dakota)

Duty
1941-1942: Fighter Squadron, Singapore
1942-1944: Fighter Squadron, North Africa, Sicily and Italy
1945: Transport squadron, Pacific

Part of
10 July 1943: No.324 Wing; No.211 Group; Desert Air Force; North African Tactical Air Force; Northwest African Air Forces; Mediterranean Air Command

Books

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (12 July 2011), No. 243 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/243_wwII.html

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