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No.254 Squadron was formed as a shipping protection squadron, and spent the first half of the war on largely defensive duties, before becoming a torpedo bomber squadron with the North Coates strike wing from 1942 until the end of the war.
The squadron was reformed on 30 October 1939 and was equipped with the Bristol Blenheim fighter. Convoy patrols off the East Coast began in January 1940. Reconnaissance missions were added in April 1940. The squadron also provide fighter escorts for anti-shipping strikes. In May 1941 the squadron moved from the east coast to Northern Ireland, where the convoy patrols and reconnaissance missions continued.
In June 1942 the squadron moved to Scotland, where it converted to the Bristol Beaufighter. The squadron was to provide the torpedo bomber element for the North Coates strike wing. Torpedo training began in August, and in November the squadron joined the wing, becoming the first 'Torbeau' squadron to become operational. It flew its first attack mission on 20 November 1942, and continued in that role until the end of the war. That first attack was unsuccessful, and the wing paused operations until April 1943, by which time extra training had greatly increased its efficiency. The squadron's targets were normally surface vessels, but in the last few days of the war a number of U-boats were attacked and sunk while attempting to escape from Germany.
The squadron continued to operate the Beaufighter until October 1946, although a number of Mosquitoes joined the squadron in April-May 1945. The squadron was renumbered as No.42 Squadron on 1 October 1946.
November 1939-March 1940: Bristol Blenheim IF
March 1940-July 1942: Bristol Blenheim IVF
June 1942-October 1943: Bristol Beaufighter VI
October 1943-October 1946: Bristol Beaufighter X and XI
April-May 1945: de Havilland Mosquito XVIII
October-December 1939: Stradishall
December 1939-January 1940: Sutton Bridge
January-April 1940: Bircham Newton
April-May 1940: Hatston
May-July 1940: Sumburgh
July 1940-January 1941: Dyce
January-May 1941: Sumburgh
May-December 1941: Aldergrove
December 1941-February 1942: Dyce
February-June 1942: Carew Cheriton
June-October 1942: Dyce
October-November 1942: Docking
November 1942-June 1945: North Coates
June-November 1945: Chivenor
November 1945-May 1946: Langham
May-October 1946: Thorney Island
Squadron Codes: QY
1939-1942: Convoy patrols, shipping protection, reconnaissance
1942-1946: Torpedo bomber, North Coates strike wing
15 February 1943: No.16 Group; HQ Coastal Command