No. 228 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.228 Squadron was a flying boat squadron in Coastal Command that served in the Mediterranean from the summer of 1940 until the summer of 1941, but spent most of the rest of the war operating from Britain. The squadron was reformed on 15 December 1936 at Pembroke Dock to operate the Stranraer flying boat, but production of this aircraft was delayed, and the squadron's first aircraft, a Scapa, didn’t arrive until 4 February 1937. By 1 April the squadron had three Singapore IIIs, one Scapa, one London and only one Stranraer, and it wasn't completely equipped with the Stranraer until August 1938. Three months later the first Short Sunderland arrived.

While the squadron converted to the Sunderland it was used to deliver a number of aircraft to No.230 Squadron in Singapore. In May 1939, now completely converted to the Sunderland, the squadron moved to Alexandria, but at the outbreak of war the squadron returned to Pembroke Dock. Detachments were based at Invergordon and at Sullom Voe, and the squadron flew patrols between Scotland and Norway.

The squadron's best known exploit during this period was the rescue of the crew of the Kensington Court, a tramp steamer that had been torpedoed seventy miles off the Scilly Islands. One Sunderland from No.204 Squadron and another from No.228 managed to land close to the one overcrowded lifeboat and between them rescued the entire crew.

On 30 January the squadron became the first in Coastal Command to take part in a successful attack on a U-boat, U-55. The submarine was attempting to escape from surface ships of the Royal Navy, but a Sunderland from the squadron managed to track it until the submarine's batteries were exhausted and the U-boat's captain was forced to abandon ship and scuttle her.

In June 1940 Italy entered the war, and in response No.228 Squadron returned to the Mediterranean. Most of the squadron was based in Egypt, a detachment operated from Gibraltar, and the squadron used Malta as an advanced base. In October the squadron's maintenance base was moved from Pembroke Dock to Malta, where it remained until March 1941 when it moved to safer waters at Alexandria. During this period the squadron concentrated on fleet reconnaissance duties and on anti-submarine patrols. In November 1940 Sunderlands from No.228 were amongst the aircraft used to watch the Italian fleet in the build-up to the Fleet Air Arm's dramatic attack on Taranto.

In April 1941 the squadron took part in the evacuation of British and Commonwealth troops from Greece, flying them directly back to Egypt. Nearly 900 people were rescued from Greece by RAF aircraft, mainly by No.228 Squadron's Sunderlands (Amongst them were the King of Greece and the majority of senior Allied commanders).

In June 1941 the squadron moved to West Africa, but by this point it only had two serviceable aircraft and after a few patrols it returned to the UK. The ground crews, who were travelling by sea, reached West Africa only to be ordered to continue on to Pembroke Dock. By the time they arrived the squadron had moved to Stranraer, where it became operational again. In March 1942 it moved to Oban to begin anti-submarine patrols, and these were flown until the end of the war, from Lough Erne after December 1942 and from Pembroke Dock after May 1943. The squadron was most successful during this final phase of the war, sinking three U-boats from its base in South Wales, three in 1943 and the last one two days after D-Day in the Bay of Biscay.

The squadron was disbanded on 4 June 1945.

U-55*

30 January 1940

-

U-383

1 August 1943

NW of Cape Ortegal

U-563@

31 May 1943

SW of Scilly

U-607

13 July 1943

NW of Cape Ortegal

U-970

8 June 1944

Bay of Biscay

* With Royal Navy (see text)
@ With No.58 Squadron RAF and No.10 Squadron, RAAF

Aircraft
November 1938-August 1942: Short Sunderland I
March 1942-November 1943: Short Sunderland II
March 1942-February 1945: Short Sunderland III
February-June 1945: Short Sunderland V

Location
December 1936-September 1938: Pembroke Dock
September-October 1938: Invergordon
October 1938-June 1939: Pembroke Dock
June-September 1939: Alexandria
September 1939-September 1940: Pembroke Dock
September 1940-March 1941: Aboukir

August 1941: Half Die

August-October 1941: Pembroke Dock (ground echelon)
October 1941-March 1942: Supermarine Stranraer
March-December 1942: Oban
December 1942-May 1943: Castle Archdale
May-June 1945: Pembroke Dock

Squadron Codes: DQ, UE

Duty
1939-June 1940: Maritime Reconnaissance, Home Based
June 1940-June 1941: Maritime Reconnaissance, Mediterranean
June 1941: Maritime Reconnaissance, West Africa

March 1942 onwards: Anti-submarine Warfare, Home Based

Part of
September 1939: No.15 G.R. Group; Coastal Command
15 February 1943: No.16 Group, Coastal Command

Books

Short Sunderland Squadrons of World War 2, Jon Lake. A look at the service carrier of the most successful British flying boat of the Second World War, and a key component in Coastal Command's battle against the U-boat. Covers the introduction of the aircraft, its role in the Battle of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, West Africa and other theatres.
cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (2 March 2011), No. 228 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/228_wwII.html

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