No. 443 Squadron (RCAF): Second World War

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No.443 Squadron (RCAF) was a Canadian fighter squadron that served with 2nd Tactical Air Force from 13 April 1944 until the end of the war in Europe, supporting the Allied campaign in north-western Europe.

The squadron had originally been No.127 Squadron, RCAF, which had been a Hawker Hurricane squadron based in Nova Scotia. Early in 1944 its personnel moved to the UK, arriving at Liverpool on 31 January. From there they went to the RCAF depot at Bournemouth. On 8 February the squadron was renumbered as No.443, and on 13 February the personnel joined it at Digby, Lincolnshire. There it formed part of No.144 Wing, along with Nos.441 and 442 Squadrons, which had been formed in the same way.

The squadron was initially equipped with the Spitfire VB, before in March swapping to the Spitfire IX. It moved south in mid-March, but before becoming operational made a brief move north to Hutton Cranswick in Yorkshire. All three squadrons in the wing made this move one at a time, first No.443, then No.441 and finally No.442. They were almost certainly visiting Hutton Cranswick to train at No.16 Armament Practice Camp, which was based there at the time.

The squadron flew its first operation on 13 April, five days after returning from Yorkshire. Before D-Day it was used on escort missions and to provide fighter cover for the attacks on German targets in northern France.

On 4 June Nos.441, 442 and 443 Squadrons attacked the German radar base at Cap d'Antifer, achieving nine direct hits with 500lb bombs and destroying the Wurzburg radar.

On D-Day Nos.441, 442 and 443 Squadrons formed No.144 Wing of 83 Group. They became the first RAF units to operate from a base in France after D-Day, when they used the first completed airfield to refuel after a sweep on 10 June. They then repeated the sweep before returning to Britain. The squadron moved to France on 15 June 1944.

No.443 was the only one of No.144 Wing's squadrons to stay with the 2nd Tactical Air Force to the end of the war. No.441 returned to the UK in September 1944 and No.442 in March 1945, in both cases to help escort Bomber Command's bombers on daylight raids over Germany. In contrast No.443 Squadron remained on the Continent from 15 June 1944 until 15 March 1946 (apart from a short break at Warmwell, Dorset, in the second half of December 1945). The squadron flew sweeps over the battlefield, attacking any Germans seen moving by daylight.

After the war the squadron remained with the occupation forces, before being disbanded on 15 March 1946.

Aircraft
February-March 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VB
March 1944-March 1945: Supermarine Spitfire IX
January 1945-March 1946: Supermarine Spitfire XVI
January-March 1946: Supermarine Spitfire XIV

Location
13 February-18 March 1944: Digby (Lincolnshire)
18 March-27 March 1944: Holmsley South (Dorset)
27 March-8 April 1944: Hutton Cranswick (Yorkshire)
8 April-22 April 1944: Westhampnett (West Sussex)
22 April-14 May 1944: Funtington (West Sussex)
14 May-15 June 1944: Ford (West Sussex)
15 June-14 July 1944: B.3 St. Croix
14 July-28 August 1944: B.2 Bazenville
28 August-21 September 1944: B.26 Illiers l'Eveque
21-30 September 1944: B.68 Le Culot (Belgium)
30 September-22 October 1944: B.82 Grave
22 October-4 November 1944: B.58 Melsbroek
4 November-18 December 1944: B.56 Evere (Belgium)
18 December 1944-3 January 1945: Warmwell (Dorset)
3 January-2 March 1945: B.56 Evere (Belgium)
2-30 March 1945: B.90 Petit Brogel (Belgium)
31 March-11 April 1945: B.78 Eindhoven (Netherlands)
11-13 April 1945: B.100 Goch (Germany)
13-30 April 1945: B.114 Diepholz
30 April-2 July 1945: B.154 Reinsehlen
2-5 July 1945: B.152 Fassberg
5 July 1945-15 March 1946: B.174 Utersen

Squadron Codes: -

Duty
-6 June 1944-: No.144 (RCAF) Wing, No.83 Group, Second Tactical Air Force

Books

 

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (3 January 2022), No. 443 Squadron (RCAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RCAF/443_wwII.html

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