No. 24 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War

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No.24 Squadron, S.A.A.F., was a medium bomber squadron that operated in the Western Desert, Sicily and over Italy between 1941 and the end of the Second World War.

In the spring of 1941 it was decided to move No.14 Squadron, SAAF, and its Maryland bombers, from Kenya to Egypt. In order to avoid confusion between this unit and the Blenheim equipped No.14 Squadron, RAF, the South African unit was renumbered as No.24 Squadron.

In May 1941 the squadron began to operate alongside No.39 Squadron, RAF. The two squadrons first role was to attempt to protect the final stages of the evacuation from Crete, where on 25 May the squadron lost its first aircraft, although on 31 May the squadron did claim one Ju 88 and one Bf 110.

The squadron's main role in North Africa was as a tactical day bomber unit, attacking German and Italian troops, bases and airfields. In this role it took part in Operation Battleaxe (June 1941), often operating in squadron strength.

Douglas Boston IIIs over Tunisia, 1943
Douglas Boston IIIAs
over Tunisia, 1943

In August No.12 Squadron, SAAF, arrived from Kenya, and the two squadrons were formed in No.261 Wing. They were soon joined by No.14 Squadron, SAAF and in October the wing was renumbered as No.3 (S.A.A.F.) Wing. At about the same time No.24 Squadron withdrew to convert to the Douglas Boston.

The new aircraft was used for the rest of the campaign in North Africa, flying the same sort of missions as the Marylands. In July 1943 the squadron moved to Malta to support the invasion of Sicily, then in August to Sicily to support the invasion of Italy. Finally it moved to Italy to provide direct support to the Allied armies.

The last Boston sortie was flown on 8 November, and the squadron then received the Martin Marauder. The Marauders were used for longer range attacks, operating against German road and rail links behind the front line. The final Marauder sortie came on 25 April 1945.

After the end of the war the squadron used its Marauders as transport aircraft, before moving to Egypt in October 1945, disbanding on 6 November 1945.

Aircraft
March-November 1941: Martin Maryland II
November 1941-December 1943: Douglas Boston III
December 1943-November 1945: Martin Marauder II and III

Location
March 1941: Nakuru
March-June 1941: Shandur
June 1941: Wadi Natrun
June-November 1941: Fuka
November-December 1941: LG.112
December 1941-January 1942: LG.130
January 1942: LG.21
January-February 1942: Kasfareet
February 1942: LG.76
February-June 1942: LG.21
June 1942: LG.97
June-September 1942: LG.Y
September-November 1942: LG.99
December 1942-January 1943: Soluch
January-February 1943: Alem el Gzina
February-March 1943: Sertain
March-April 1943: Zuara
April 1943: Senem
April-June 1943: El Djem
June-July 1943: Soliman North
July-August 1943: Hal Far
August-October 1943: Cuticchi
October 1943: Misterbianco
October 1943: Manduria
October 1943-June 1944: Tortorella
June-October 1944: Pescara
October 1944-June 1945: Iesi
June-October 1945: Rivolto
October-November 1945: Shandur

Squadron Codes: T

Duty
August-October 1941: No.261 Wing
October 1941 onwards: No.3 (S.A.A.F.) Wing
    No.3 (S.A.A.F.) Wing, Air Headquarters Western Desert
    No.3 (S.A.A.F.) Wing, Tactical Bomber Force, Northwest African Air Forces

Books

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (4 November 2009), No. 24 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/SAAF/24_wwII.html

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