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No.607 (County of Durham) Squadron was a fighter squadron that took part in the fighting in France in May 1940 and the Battle of Britain before moving to the Far East where it operated over Burma from 1942 until the end of the war.
The squadron was formed in 1930 as a day bomber squadron in the Auxiliary Air Force. It became a fighter squadron in 1936, and was equipped with the Gloster Gladiator from 1938.
At the start of the Second World War the squadron was based in the north-east of England. On 16 October, when the Germans were reportedly about to attack the fleet at Rosyth the squadron was ordered up to Drem, but this was short-lived.
The squadron was still using the Gladiator when it became part of the Air Component of the BEF in November 1939, and took its biplanes to France. Hurricanes began to arrive in March 1940, and the last few Gladiators went just as the Germans began their offensive in the west in May 1940. A very intense period of combat began, with six or seven sorties per day for some of the squadron's pilots.
After two weeks the squadron was forced back to the UK, where it re-joined Fighter Command. The squadron spent several months recovering in the north.
15 August saw the heaviest fighting of the entire Battle of Britain, when the Luftwaffe attempted to bring Luftflotte 5 in Norway and Denmark into the battle. No.607 Squadron was one of five fighter squadrons based in the north-east that intercepted this force and prevented it from doing any damage and inflicted such heavy losses on the Germans that they didn't make another daylight attack from Scandinavia during the Battle of Britain.
On 1 September the squadron moved to the Sector Station at Tangmere, replacing No.17 Squadron. No.607 stayed at Tangmere until 10 October, when it was replaced by No.145. The squadron thus took part in the last week of the assault on Fighter Command, all of the fourth phase of the Battle of Britain (the daylight attack on London) and the start of the final phase of fighter-bomber attacks.
From Tangmere the squadron moved to Scotland, staying there until August 1941. It then moved back to the south of England to operate as a fighter-bomber squadron. Its first sortie came on 18 September. On 9 October 1941 the squadron became operational with its Hurricane fighter-bombers and was allocated to the 'Channel Stop' – the campaign to prevent German shipping from using the channel.
In March 1942 the squadron began the move to India, arriving at Alipore on 25 May. It flew a mix of defensive patrols and escort missions, at first with its Hurricanes, then with the Spitfire from early October 1943.
The arrival of Nos.607 and 615 Squadrons and their Spitfires at Chittagong allowed the British to shoot down the Mitsubishi Ki-46 'Dinah' that the Japanese had been using for photographic reconnaissance over the Arakan. The new aircraft was also used on ground attack sorties, including an attack on a Japanese force at Pa-An on 1 July 1945 when Burmese guerrillas guided the squadron onto a large force of retreating Japanese troops.
The squadron disbanded in the Far East on 19 August 1945, and was reformed in the UK as part of the new Auxiliary Air Force in May 1946.
December 1938-May 1940: Gloster Gladiator I and II
March 1940-June 1941: Hawker Hurricane I
June 1941-March 1942: Hawker Hurricane IIA and IIB
June 1942-September 1943: Hawker Hurricane IIB and IIC
September 1943-March 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VC
March 1944-July 1945: Supermarine Spitfire VIII
March 1930-August 1939: Usworth
August 1939: Abbotsinch
August-October 1939: Usworth
October-November 1939: Acklington
November-December 1939: Merville
December 1939-April 1940: Vitry-en-Artois
April 1940: Abbeville
April-May 1940: Vitry-en-Artois
May 1940-June 1940: Norrent Fontes
June-September 1940: Usworth
September-October 1940: Tangmere
October-November 1940: Turnhouse
November-December 1940: Drem
December 1940-January 1941: Usworth
January-March 1941: Macmerry
March-April 1941: Drem
April-July 1941: Skitten
July-August 1941: Castletown
August-October 1941: Martlesham Heath
October 1941-March 1942: Manston
May-August 1942: Alipore
August-December 1942: Jessore
December 1942-January 1943: Feni
January-April 1943: Chittagong
April-October 1943: Alipore
October 1943: Amarda Road
October-November 1943: Alipore
November 1943-February 1944: Ramu
February-March 1944: Nidania
March-April 1944: Rumkhapalong
April 1944: Wangjing
April-July 1944: Imphal Main
July-November 1944: Baigachi
November-December 1944: Sapam
December 1944-January 1945: Tulihal
January-April 1945: Tabingaung
April 1945: Dwehla
April-May 1945: Kwetnge
May 1945: Thedaw
May-August 1945: Mingaladon
Squadron Codes: AF
1939: Fighter Command
November 1939-Summer 1940: Air Component, BEF
Summer 1940-March 1942: Fighter Command
May 1942-September 1943: Fighter squadron, Burma
September 1943-August 1945: Fighter and ground attack squadron, Burma
September 1939: No.13 Group, Fighter Command
Before August 1940: AAF
By August 1940: No.13 Group, Fighter Command
From 25 May 1942: No.166 Wing
1 July 1944: No.170 Wing; No.221 Group; Third Tactical Air Force; Eastern Air Command; Air Command South-East Asia
|Gloster Gladiator Aces, Andrew Thomas. A look at the wartime career of the only biplane fighter still in RAF service during the Second World War. Covers the Gladiator's service in Finland, Malta, North Africa, Greece, Aden, East Africa and Iraq, where despite being outdated it performed surprisingly well.|
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