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No.654 Squadron was an Air Observation Post squadron that supported the First Army in North Africa and the Eighth Army in Sicily and Italy.
Air Observation Post squadrons were created to provide airborne observers for the artillery (see No.651 Squadron for more details). Most of their aircrews came from the army, and they used light aircraft (most Austers) which flew above their own guns using the altitude to spot targets over the horizon.
No.654 Squadron was formed on 15 July 1942 and sailed for North Africa on 20 November. Once in North Africa it was used to support the British First Army during the campaign in Algeria and Tunisia (as did the first OP squadron, No.651).
The squadron then transferred to the Eighth Army and accompanied it during the invasion of Sicily in the summer of 1943. The squadron then moved to Italy, where it continued to operate to the end of the war. The squadron remained in Italy until it was disbanded in 1947.
July-September 1942: Tiger Moth II
September-December 1942: British Taylorcraft Auster I
December 1942-October 1944: British Taylorcraft Auster III
June 1944-June 1947: British Taylorcraft Auster IV
December 1944-June 1947: British Taylorcraft Auster V
July-September 1942: Old Sarum
September-November 1942: Firbeck
November 1942-February 1943: Bottisham
February 1943-May 1945: Dispersed bases in North Africa, Sicily and Italy
May-September 1945: Udine/ Tricesimo
September 1945-March 1947: Ronchi
March-June 1947: Campoformido
Squadron Codes: -
1942-1943: Air Observation Post North Africa
1943: Air Observation Post, Sicily
1943-45: Air Observation Post, Italy