No. 615 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.615 (County of Surrey) Squadron was a fighter squadron that took part in the Battle of Britain and the early sweeps over France before moving to Burma, where it performed a mix of offensive and defensive duties for the rest of the war.

The squadron was formed as an army co-operation squadron in the Auxiliary Air Force in June 1937, but became a fighter squadron in November 1938. It was originally equipped with the Gloster Gauntlet. Gladiators arrived in May 1939, and it was these aircraft that the squadron took to France in November 1939.

In April 1940 the squadron began to convert to the Hurricane, but the process wasn't complete when the German offensive in the west began. A very intense ten days of combat began on 10 May, with some of the squadron's pilots flying six or seven sorties per day. After ten days the squadron was withdrawn to the UK, leaving its Gladiators behind.

The squadron was based at Kenley from 20 May to 29 August 1940, so took part in the first part of the Battle of Britain. It was present for the convoy battles of the first phase, the coastal battles of the second phase and for the first five days of the third and hardest phase of the battle, the assault on Fighter Command. After that the squadron was withdrawn to northern Scotland for a rest. On 10 October it moved down to Northolt, so took part in the final phase of the battle – the period of German fighter bomber attacks.

In February 1941 the squadron began to fly offensive sweeps over France, before in late April moving to North Wales where it provided defensive fighter cover. This lasted until September when the squadron moved back to southern England, flying a mix of bomber escort and ground attack missions.

In March 1942 the squadron departed to India, finally re-assembling in late June. In December 1942 the squadron moved to the Burma front, where it flew a mix of defensive and ground attack missions. In May 1943 the squadron was withdrawn to prepare to convert to the Spitfire but the new aircraft didn't actually arrive until October.

The squadron returned to operations in November, resuming its offensive role over Burma. From August 1944 to February 1945 it was withdrawn to provide fighter cover for Calcutta, before returning to Burma in February 1945 to resume its offensive duties.

The squadron was disbanded on 10 June 1945, but on the same day No.135 Squadron was renumbered as No.615. The newly renumbered squadron was equipped with the Thunderbolt fighter and was training for the invasion of Malaya, but the Japanese surrender meant that this operation wasn't needed. The squadron was disbanded on 25 September 1945. No.615 was reforme din the Auxiliary Air Force in July 1946.

Aircraft
May 1939-May 1940: Gloster Gladiator I and II
April 1940-February 1941: Hawker Hurricane I
February-April 1941: Hawker Hurricane IIA
April-July 1941: Hawker Hurricane I
July 1941-March 1942: Hawker Hurricane IIB
September 1941-March 1942: Hawker Hurricane IIC

June 1942-October 1943: Hawker Hurricane IIC
October 1943-August 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VC
June 1944-June 1945: Supermarine Spitfire VIII
June-September 1945: Republic Thunderbolt II

Location
June 1937-August 1938: Kenley
August 1938-September 1939: Old Sarum
September 1939: Kenley
September-November 1939: Croydon
November-December 1939: Merville
December 1939-April 1940: Vitry-en-Artois
April 1940: Poix
April-May 1940: Abbeville
May 1940: Moorseele
May-August 1940: Kenley
August-October 1940: Prestwick
October-December 1940: Northolt
December 1940-April 1941: Kenley
April-September 1941: Valley
September-November 1941: Manston
November 1941-January 1942: Angle
January-March 1942: Fairwood Common

June-December 1942: Jessore
December 1942-May 1943: Feni
May-November 1943: Alipore
November-December 1943: Chittagong
December 1943-February 1944: Dohazari
February-March 1944: Nazir
March-May 1944: Silchar West
May 1944: Dergaon
May-August 1944: Palel
August 1944-February 1945: Baigachi
February-April 1945: Nidania
April-May 1945: Chharra
May 1945: Chakulia
May-June 1945: Cuttack

Squadron Codes: KW

Duty
1939-1941: Fighter Command
1942-1945: Fighter squadron, Burma Front

Part of
September 1939: No.11 Group, Fighter Command
8 August 1940: No.11 Group, Fighter Command
1 July 1944: No.170 Wing; No.221 Group; Third Tactical Air Force; Eastern Air Command; Air Command South-East Asia

Books

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.
cover cover cover

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (6 April 2012), No. 615 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/615_wwII.html

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