No. 65 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.65 Squadron had a varied wartime career, which included participation in the Battle of Britain, a period spent practising deck landings and spells as a figher-bomber squadron in Normandy and as daylight bomber escorts.

The squadron converted to the Spitfire in March 1939. A spell at Kirton-in-Lindsey almost perfectly overlapped with the fighting at Dunkirk, but the squadron had returned to the south coast in time to take part in the first part of the Battle of Britain.

Supermarine Spitfire I of No.65 Squadron
Supermarine Spitfire I
of No.65 Squadron

The squadron moved to Scotland in late August 1940, and remained there until November. The squadron played a limited part in the early offensive sweeps over France, beginning operations in January 1941 but moving to Lincolnshire in the following month. This didn't entirely end the squadron's participation in these raids, but did mean that the short-legged Spitfires had to stage through airfields closer to the south coast.

In October 1941 the squadron converted to the Spitfire V and moved south to Westhampnett. It remained in the south for the next year, using its new Spitfires on low level attacks on German transport links in France.

In October 1942 the squadron returned to Scotland, where in January 1943 it practised deck-landings on the training carrier HMS Argus. This was followed by short spell in Cornwall (March-May 1943) where the squadron performed a mix of bomber escort and standard fighter patrol duties.

In the following month the squadron joined the Second Tactical Air Force, the RAF's contribution to the close air support forces required for the upcoming invasion of Europe. In December the squadron converted to the Mustang III (its longer range made the Mustang a better ground attack aircraft than the Spitfire, allowing it to linger for longer over the battlefield). In the months before D-Day No.65 Squadron took part in the intensive air war against German targets all across France, before on 25 June becoming one of the earliest RAF squadrons to move to Normandy.

In September 1944 the squadron was withdrawn from the continent and moved to East Anglia. With the Luftwaffe virtually defeated Bomber Command was able to return to daylight bombing, and the long range Mustang was needed to escort the heavy bombers over Germany.

After four months in East Anglia No.65 Squadron moved to Scotland yet again, this time to provide long range fighter escort for the strike wings operating against German shipping off the coasts of Norway and Denmark.

Aircraft
March 1939-March 1941: Supermarine Spitfire I
March-October 1941: Supermarine Spitfire IIA and IIB
October 1941-August 1943: Supermarine SpitfireVB and VC
August 1943-January 1944: Supermarine Spitfire IX
December 1943-March 1945: North American Mustang III
March-May 1946: North American Mustang IV

Location
August 1934-October 1939: Hornchurch
October 1939-March 1940: Northolt
March-May 1940: Hornchurch
May-June 1940: Kirton-in-Lindsey
June-August 1940: Hornchurch
August-November 1940: Turnhouse
November 1940-February 1941: Tangmere
February-October 1941: Kirton-in-Lindsey
October-December 1941: Westhampnett
December 1941-April 1942: Debden
April-June 1942: Great Sampford
June 1942: Debden
June 1942: Martlesham Heath
June 1942: Great Sampford
June-July 1942: Hawkinge
July 1942: Great Sampford
July-August 1942: Gravesend
August 1942: Eastchurch
August-September 1942: Gravesend
September-October 1942: Drem
October 1942: Lympne
October-December 1942: Drem
December 1942-January 1943: Arbroath
January 1943: Machrihanish
January-March 1943: Drem (East Lothian)
March-May 1943: Perranporth (Cornwall)
May 1943: Fairlop (nr London)
May-July 1943: Selsey
July-October 1943: Kingsnorth
October 1943: Ashford
October 1943: Gatwick
October 1943-April 1944: Gravesend
April-May 1944: Ford
May-June 1944: Funtington
June 1944: Ford
June-July 1944: B.7 Martragny
July-September 1944: B.12 Ellon
September 1944: B.40 Beauvais
September 1944: B.60 Grimbergen
September-October 1944: Matlask
October 1944-January 1945: Andrews Field
January 1945: Peterhead
January-February 1945: Banff
February-May 1945: Peterhead
May 1945: Andrews Field
May-September 1945: Bentwaters

Squadron Codes: FZ, YT

Duty
Fighter Command: 1939-43
2nd Tactical Air Force: 1943-44
Bomber Escort: 1944-45

Books

Spitfire Mark I/II Aces 1939-41, Dr Alfred Price. Slightly different to many books in the Aircraft of the Aces series, Price splits his material, concentrating on the wider picture in the first part of the book before looking at eleven of the top Spitfire aces in the last two chapters of the book [see more]
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Spitfire Mark V Aces, 1941-45, Dr Alfred Price. A well written and nicely balanced look at the combat career of the Spitfire Mk V and of the men who flew it. The Spitfire V fought in more theatres than the more famous Mk I/II, including over France in 1941, on Malta, in North Africa and even in northern Australia. [see more]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (9 June 2009), No. 65 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/65_wwII.html

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