No. 249 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.249 Squadron was a fighter squadron that took part in the Battle of Britain, where one of its pilots won Fighter Command's first Victoria Cross, before moving to Malta and the Mediterranean.

The squadron was reformed on 16 May 1940 as a Spitfire equipped fighter squadron, but it converted to the Hurricane before going operational on 3 July. At first it was used for defensive patrols,  but on 14 August the squadron moved south to Boscombe Down, in No.10 Group territory. The squadron was thus involved in the most dangerous part of the Battle of Britain, the German assault on Fighter Command (the third phase of the battle, 24 August-6 September).

On 16 August Flight Lieutenant J.B. Nicolson of No.249 won Fighter Command's first Victoria Cross, and the only V.C. of the Battle of Britain. His aircraft was badly damaged and on fire, but rather than bail out he took the chance to shoot down a Bf.110. Only then did he parachute from his burning aircraft.

On 1 September the squadron moved to North Weald, in No.11 Group, arriving two days before the airfields suffered heavy damage in a German raid. Despite this damage the squadron remained at North Weald until May 1941, taking part in the fourth phase of the battle (the daylight assault on London) and the last phase, the fighter-bomber raids.

In May 1941 the squadron was moved to Malta by aircraft carrier, and formed part of the fighter defences of the beleaguered island for the rest of the siege. Spitfires arrived on Malta in February 1942, and by the end of the year the tide had turned.  In November the squadron began to fly fighter-bomber missions over Sicily, and in October 1943 it moved to Italy. From there it flew sweeps over Albania and Yugoslavia. In September 1944 the squadron converted to the Mustang. In April 1945 it moved to northern Yugoslavia for one month, to help push the Germans out of the country. It then spent a short time in northern Italy, before disbanding on 16 August 1945.

Aircraft
May-June 1940: Supermarine Spitfire I
June 1940-February 1941: Hawker Hurricane I
February 1941-March 1942: Hawker Hurricane IIA and IIB
May-August 1941: Hawker Hurricane I
February 1942-September 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VB and VC
June 1943-November 1943: Supermarine Spitfire IX
September 1944-April 1945: North American Mustang III
April-June 1945: Supermarine Spitfire IX
May-June 1945: North American Mustang III
June-August 1945: North American Mustang IV

Location
May 1940: Church Fenton
May-July 1940: Leconfield
July-August 1940: Church Fenton
August-September 1940: Boscombe Down
September 1940-May 1941: North Weald
May 1941-November 1942: Takali
November 1942-September 1943: Qrendi
September-October 1943: Hal Far
October-November 1943: Grottaglie
November-December 1943: Brindisi
December 1943-July 1944: Grottaglie
July 1944-April 1945: Canne
April-May 1945: Prkos
May-June 1945: Biferno
June-August 1945: Brindisi

Squadron Codes: GN

Duty
1940-1941: Fighter Command
1941-1943: Fighter Squadron, Malta
1943-1945: Fighter Squadron, Italy and the Balkans

Part of
8 August 1940: No.12 Group; Fighter Command
11 November 1941: HQ RAF Malta; RAF Middle East
27 October 1942: AHQ Malta; RAF Middle East
10 July 1943: AHQ Malta; Mediterranean Air Command

Books

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (20 July 2011), No. 249 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/249_wwII.html

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