No. 31 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No. 31 Squadron spent the entire Second World War operating as a transport squadron, based in India. In the inter-war period it had been involved in the constant low level fighting on the North West Frontier, but in April 1939 it converted to the Vickers Valentia (inheriting its aircraft from No. 216 Squadron), and began to operate as a bomber-transport squadron.

For the first eighteen months of the war the squadron remained on the North West Frontier, but in March 1941 it was one of the squadrons rushed into Iraq to help defeat a German inspired coup. After helping with the defence of Habbaniya, the squadron took part in the fighting against the Vichy French in Syria, before returning to Karachi. A detachment from the squadron was used to fly supplies to bases in the Western Desert over the winter of 1941-42, but the Japanese entry into the war ended that, and the squadron moved east to the Burmese border.

The squadron would spend all but four months of the war against Japan operating over Burma. Early in 1942 it flew supplies to the army retreating to the Indian border. The squadron took part in the fighting at Imphal, flying in supplies and evacuating casualties from the besieged town. That four month break started in July 1944, when the squadron was moved to Calcutta for a rest from front line duties and to practice towing gliders.

The squadron returned to the front in November 1944, and took part in the final campaign in Burma and the advance to Rangoon. A brief pause followed, but in the immediate post-war period the squadron took part in fighting in the Dutch East Indies.

April 1939-September 1941 or February 1942: Vickers Valentia I
April 1941-November 1943: Douglas DC-2
April 1942-April 1945: Douglas DC-3
September-December 1942: Lockheed Hudson IIIA
March 1943-1944: Douglas Dakota I
May 1943-1945: Douglas Dakota III
February 1945-September 1946: Douglas Dakota IV

27 October 1938-December 1939: Lahore
December 1939-February 1941: Peshawar
February-26 March 1941: Lahore
26 March-September 1941: Drigh Road
    Detachments to Shaibah, Basra and Habbaniya
September 1941-18 February 1943: Lahore
    December 1941-February 1942: Mingaladon
    February 1942: Akyab
    February 1942-April 1942: Dum Dum
    April 1942-February 1943: Lahore
18 February-21 May 1943: Dhubalia
21 May-21 June 1943: Khargpur
21 June 1943-July 1944: Agartala
11 July-1 November 1944: Basal
1 November 1944-1 January 1945: Agartala
1 January-6 February 1945: Comilla
6 February-15 May 1945: Hathazari
15 May-August 1945: Kyaujpyu
August-1 October 1945: Mingaladon

Squadron Codes: ZA (Valencia)

1939-1945: Transport Squadron, India


Lockheed Hudson Aircraft in WWII, Andrew Hendrie, Crowood Press. A look at the development of the Hudson, and its career with the RAF, USAAF, RNZAF and RAAF. Covers the anti-submarine and anti-shipping uses of the Hudson, as well at its role in Air-Sea Rescue and special operations. The text is supported by a good collection of first hand accounts.
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Hitler's Gulf War - The Fight for Iraq 1941, Barrie G James. A compelling account of one of the more obscure but important campaigns of the Second World War, presented from the point of view of the British, Iraqi and German participants in the Iraqi revolt that threatened to hand the Germans a commanding position in the Middle East. [read full review]

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (17 September 2008), No. 31 Squadron (RAF): Second World War,

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