No. 258 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.258 Squadron was a fighter squadron that served in Britain until 1941, when it was moved to the Far East. After taking part in the disastrous defence of Singapore, Sumatra and Java the squadron was reformed in India, and spent the rest of the war fighting on the Burma front.

The squadron reformed at Leconfield on 20 November 1940. On 5 December it received No.263's Hurricanes, and defensive patrols began on 6 January 1941. In the same month the squadron moved the Isle of Man, before in April it moved to the south of England.

Between then and October the squadron spent most of its time providing fighter cover for coastal shipping, although in May and June it took part in a number of sweeps over occupied France.

In October the squadron began to prepare for a move to the Middle East, but after the Japanese entry into the war it was diverted to Singapore instead. The ground echelon reached Selatar (near Singapore) on 13 January, and the aircraft followed on 29 January. By now the situation in Malaya was becoming desperate, and after only ten days of operations the squadron was forced to evacuate to Palembang. After a short period on Sumatra the Japanese landed near the airfields, and the squadron moved again, this time to Java. Once there its remaining aircraft went to No.605 Squadron, while the squadron's surviving personnel were evacuated to Australia on 23 February 1942.

On 1 March 1942 G Squadron, a unit based at Ratmalana and Colombo Racecourse on Ceylon, was renumbered as No.258 Squadron. Once again the squadron was equipped with Hurricanes. The new squadron's combat debut came in the following month during the Japanese carrier raid on Colombo. Between them Nos.30 and 258 got thirty-six Hurricanes into the air, losing fifteen of them during the fighting (along with four of six Fulmars). Eighteen victories were claimed. After this early alarm things quietened down, and by the start of 1943 it was clear that the threat to Ceylon had gone. The squadron moved to Calcutta in January 1943 and spent ten days operating over Burma.

This was a temporary move, and the squadron returned to Ceylon for another seven months, but in August 1943 it returned to the Burma front permanently. Operations began on 1 September 1943, and the squadron was used on fighter sweeps and to provide bomber escorts.

In May 1944 the squadron was withdrawn to convert to the Thunderbolt. The new aircraft made their combat debut on 7 December, and the squadron flew a mix of bomber escort and ground attack debuts until June 1945. The squadron then began to prepare for the invasion of Malaya, but this operation wasn't needed, and the squadron was disbanded on 31 December 1945. 

Aircraft
December 1940-April 1941: Hawker Hurricane I
April 1941-February 1942: Hawker Hurricane IIA
March-April 1942: Hawker Hurricane I
March 1942-November 1942: Hawker Hurricane IIB
November 1943-August 1944: Hawker Hurricane IIC
September 1944-January 1945: Republic Thunderbolt I
November 1944-December 1945: Republic Thunderbolt II

Location
November 1940: Leconfield
November-December 1940: Duxford
December 1940: Drem
December 1940-February 1941: Acklington
February-April 1941: Jurby
April 1941: Valley and Penrhos
April-June 1941: Kenley
June-October 1941: Martlesham Heath
October 1941: Debden

January 1942: Seletar
January-February 1942: Seletar and Kallang
February 1942: Palembang
February 1942: Kemajoran

March 1942: Ratmalana
March 1942-January 1943: Colombo Racecourse
January-February 1943: Dum Dum
February-August 1943: Dambulla
August-November 1943: Comilla
November-December 1943: Dohazan
December 1943-January 1944: Chittagong
January 1944: Hay
January-February 1944: Hove
February-June 1944: Reindeer
June-August 1944: Arkonam
August-October 1944: Yelahanka
October-November 1944: Arkonam
November 1944-May 1945: Ratnap
May-June 1945: Kyaukpyu
June-August 1945: Ulunderpet
August-September 1945: Baigachi
September 1945: Zayatkwin
September-December 1945: Kuala Lumpur

Squadron Codes: ZT (Thunderbolt)

Duty
1940-1941: Home based fighter squadron
1941-February 1942: Fighter squadron Far East
1942-1944: Fighter squadron, India and Burma
1944-1945: Ground attack Burma

Books

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 July 2011), No. 258 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/258_wwII.html

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