No. 253 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.253 Squadron was a fighter squadron that fought in the Battle of Britain, before moving to the Mediterranean, ending the war operating from a base in Yugoslavia.

The squadron was reformed on 30 October 1939 at Manston as a shipping protection squadron. It was intended to equip the squadron with Blenheims, but none were received. Instead in February 1940 the squadron became a fighter unit, and began to receive Hurricanes, becoming operational on 3 April 1940.

The squadron was soon dragged into the fighting in France. One flight moved to France in May. The second flight remained based in Britain, but operated from French bases during the day from 17-23 May. Like most Hurricane squadrons that fought in France the squadron lost of its aircraft, and after being withdrawn was moved to Lincolnshire to receive new aircraft. 

Spitfire Mk.IX of No.253 Squadron
Spitfire Mk.IX of
No.253 Squadron

The squadron moved to the sector station at Kenley on 29 August, eleven days after the airfield had been badly damaged in a German raid, and five days into the third (and hardest phase of the battle), the German assault on Fighter Command. The squadron remained at Kenley for the rest of the Battle of Britain, taking part in the defence against the daylight raids on London and the final fighter-bomber phase of the day battle.

In February 1941 the squadron moved to the Orkneys to help with the air defence of the islands. It remained there for most of the year, before returning to England in September to fly convoy protection patrols off the East Coast. The squadron moved south to take part in the raid on Dieppe, and then began to prepare for a move to North Africa in support of Operation Torch.

The squadron departed for North Africa in October 1942, and reached Maison Blanche in Algeria on 13 November, a few days after the invasion. The squadron was used to provide fighter cover for the army during the advance into Tunisia.

The first Spitfires arrived in March 1943, but they soon disappeared, and the squadron continued to use its Hurricanes until September. The Spitfires returned for good in August 1943, and the squadron would operate four different marks of the aircraft before being disbanded.

In October 1943 the squadron moved to Italy, and in February 1944 to Corsica, from where it flew bomber escort and anti-shipping missions over Italy and the south of France. In April 1944 the squadron moved back to Italy, from where it provided bomber escorts over Yugoslavia and took part in anti-shipping missions in the Adriatic.

In April 1945 the squadron actually moved to a base at Zadar that had been captured by the Yugoslav partisans during the German retreat from the country. After the end of the war the squadron quickly returned to Italy, spending the next year at Treviso. It moved to Austria during the winter of 1946-47 before returning to Treviso, where it was disbanded on 16 May 1947.

Aircraft
December 1939-May 1940: Fairey Battle I
February 1940-August 1941: Hawker Hurricane I
July 1941-September 1942: Hawker Hurricane IIA and IIB
January 1942-September 1943: Hawker Hurricane IIC
March 1943: Supermarine Spitfire VC
August 1943-November 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VC
September 1943-June 1944: Supermarine Spitfire IX
November 1944-May 1947: Supermarine Spitfire VIII and IX
March-May 1947: Supermarine Spitfire XI

Location
October 1939-February 1940: Manston
February-May 1940: Northolt
May 1940: Kenley
May-July 1940: Kirton-in-Lindsey
July-August 1940: Turnhouse
August 1940: Prestwick
August 1940-January 1941: Kenley
January-February 1941: Leconfield
February-September 1941: Skeabrae
September 1941-June 1942: Hibaldstow
June-July 1942: Friston
July-October 1942: Hibaldstow
    August 1942: Detachment to Friston

November 1942: Maison Blanche
November 1942-January 1943: Philippeville
January-February 1943: Setif
February-March 1943: Jemappes
March-April 1943: Maison Blanche
April-June 1943: Jemappes
June-August 1943: Lampedusa
August-October 1943: La Sebala I
October-November 1943: Montecorvino
November 1943-February 1944: Capodichino
February-April 1944: Borgo
April-July 1944: Foggia
July 1944-April 1945: Canne
    September-November 1944: Brindisi
April-May 1945: Prkos
May-June 1945: Brindisi
June 1945-September 1946: Treviso
September 1946-January 1947: Zeltweg
January-May 1947: Treviso

Squadron Codes: SW

Duty
1939-1940: Shipping protection (planned but never implemented)
1940-1942: Fighter Command
1942-1944: Fighter squadron, Mediterranean
1944-1945: Bomber escort and anti-shipping, Corsica and Italy

Part of
8 August 1940: No.13 Group; Fighter Command
10 July 1943: North African Coastal Air Force; Northwest African Air Forces; Mediterranean Air Command

Books

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (22 July 2011), No. 253 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/253_wwII.html

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