No. 230 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.230 Squadron was a flying boat squadron that served in the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean during the Second World War. The squadron was reformed at Pembroke Dock on 1 December 1934, but didn't receive its first aircraft, a Singapore III, until April 1935. In October 1935 the squadron moved overseas for the first time, spending ten months in Egypt during the Abyssinian Crisis. It returned to the UK in August 1936, before two months later taking its five Singapore flying boats out to Singapore. The sea-borne ground echelon didn't catch up until January 1937.

In June 1938 the squadron began to convert to the Short Sunderland and was fully equipped with the new aircraft by the start of the Second World War. The squadron was used to provide patrols over the Indian Ocean and the approaches to Malaya and Singapore. In October a detachment was posted on Ceylon, and gradually expanded until by February 1940 the entire squadron was based there. The remaining Singapore-based personnel went to No.205 Squadron.

In May 1940, with Italy clearly about to enter the war, the squadron was moved to the Mediterranean where it flew reconnaissance sorties for the Mediterranean fleet and anti-submarine patrols. The squadron was based in Egypt, but from June began to use Kalafrana, Malta, as an advanced operating base.

The squadron was involved in both the triumphs and disasters of 1941. In March the Enigma code breakers alerted Admiral Cunningham that the Italian fleet was about to put to sea. No.230 Squadron flew reconnaissance sorties partly to confirm the news and partly to provide a cover story for the impending British attack. On 27 March one of their Sunderlands found the Italians, and on 28 March Cunningham won the Battle of Cape Matapan. In contrast in April the squadron was used to help evacuate refugees from Greece during the German invasion. The Sunderlands of Nos.228 and 230 Squadrons were able to rescue just under 900 people from the Greek coast, amongst them the King of Greece and many of the senior Allied commanders. In June the squadron was given the task of administering the Dornier Do.22s of No.2 (Yugoslav) Squadron which had escaped from the German invasion of their country. This task continued until February 1942. In the previous month, on 9 January, the squadron claimed its one U-boat, sinking U-577 in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In January 1943 the squadron returned to the Indian Ocean, with its main base at Dar-es-Salaam, Tanganyika and detachments on Madagascar. In June the squadron was split when detachments were sent to the Mediterranean to provide air-sea rescue services in areas beyond the range of the Walrus as well as some transport duties. Its main success in this role came when aircraft from the squadron rescued forty two crewmen from seven Flying Fortresses that crashed into the sea off Bone after the attack on the Messerschmitt works at Regensburg.

In February 1944 the squadron moved further east, to Ceylon. In May-June 1944 two aircraft (DP180 and JM659)were detached to Dibrugarh to support Wingate's second operation. In June they evacuated 500 casualties from Lake Indawgyi to the Brahmaputra River. One of the two aircraft sank in the Brahmaputra River and had to be left behind.

In February 1945, a detachment moved to Calcutta to transport freight into Burma and casualties back out, using an inland lake as the Burmese end of the route. In April 1945 the entire squadron moved to Burma and was used to attack Japanese coastal shipping between Malaya and Burma. In December 1945 the squadron finally returned to Singapore, but only for a short period, and in April 1946 it returned to the UK.

June 1938-January 1943: Short Sunderland I and II
April 1942-March 1945: Short Sunderland III
January 1945-February 1957: Short Sunderland V

January 1937-February 1940: Seletar
    October 1939: Detachment to Penang/ Glugor
    October 1939: Detachment to Trincomalee
    October-November 1939: Detachment to Colombo
    November 1939-February 1940: Detachment to Koggala
February-May 1940: Koggala

May 1940-June 1941: Alexandria
    December 1940-April 1941: Detachment to Scaramanga
June 1941-July 1942: Aboukir
July 1942: Kasfareet/ Fanara
July 1942-January 1943: Aboukir
January 1943-February 1944: Dar-es-Salaam
    June-November 1943: Detachment at Aboukir
February 1944-April 1945: Koggala
    May-June 1944: Detachment at Dibrugarh
April-May 1945: Akyab
May-August 1945: Rangoon
August-December 1945: Redhills Lake

Squadron Codes: NM, Q, B

1936-1940: Singapore-based flying boat squadron
1940-1943: Mediterranean-based flying boat squadron
1943-1945: Indian Ocean based flying boat squadron
1945: Anti-shipping squadron, Burma

Part of
September 1939: RAF Far East
11 November 1941: No.234 Wing; No.201 Group; RAF Middle East
27 October 1942: No.201 Group; RAF Middle East
10 July 1943: No.216 Group; Mediterranean Air Command
1 July 1944: No.222 Group; Air Command South East Asia


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 (3 March 2011), No. 230 Squadron (RAF): Second World War,

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