No. 17 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War

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No.17 Squadron S.A.A.F. went through two incarnations during the Second World War - a short-lived period as a transport squadron in 1939 and a longer period as a maritime patrol squadron.

The first incarnation of No.17 Squadron was formed on 1 September 1939 and was equipped with Junkers Ju 52/3m transport aircraft taken from South African Airways. This version of the squadron only lasted for three months, before on 1 December it was merged with Nos.18 and 19 Squadrons to form No.50 Squadron.

No.17 Squadron was reformed on 8 October 1942 at Zwartkop. It then moved to Aden, where it was equipped with Bristol Blenheims, using them to fly anti-submarine patrols for five months. In May 1943 these aircraft were flown to Egypt and distributed to other units, while No.17 Squadron's pilots were dispersed amongst transport units.

The squadron came back together in August 1943 when it received its Lockheed Venturas. These were used to fly anti-submarine patrols from bases in Palestine, before in April 1944 the squadron moved to the western Mediterranean - first to Gibraltar and then quickly on to Bone. For the rest of the year the squadron flew anti-shipping patrols off the southern French and northern Italian coasts as well as carrying out bombing raids on coastal targets.

In January 1945 the squadron was split, with the ground echelon moving to Algeria and the aircraft to Egypt. The squadron was non-operational from 23 February in preparation for conversion to the Vickers Warwick, but the end of the war came before the squadron could convert to the new aircraft. A number of Wellingtons were used until the Warwicks arrived, but were left behind when the squadron returned to South Africa.

Aircraft
1 September-1 December 1939: Junkers Ju 52/3m

January-May 1943: Bristol Blenheim Mk.V
August 1943-February 1945: Lockheed Ventura Mk.V
May-September 1945: Vickers Wellington Mk.XIII
May 1945-March 1946: Vickers Warwick Mk.V

Location
8 October 1942-: Zwartkop

January-May 1943: Little Aden
May-October 1943: Bilbeis
October 1943-March 1944: St. Jean
March-April 1944: Ramat David
April 1944: Gibraltar
April-July 1944: Bone
July-November 1944: Alghero
November 1944-January 1945: Rosignano
January 1945: Alghero
January-February 1945: Algiers
February-September 1945: Gianaclis

Squadron Codes: T (Ventura)

Duty
September-December 1939: Transport Squadron
October 1942-April 1944: Anti-submarine patrols, Eastern Mediterranean
April 1944-January 1945: Anti-shipping strikes, Western Mediterranean

Books

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (2 November 2009), No. 17 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/SAAF/17_wwII.html

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