No. 231 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.231 Squadron served as an army co-operation and reconnaissance squadron from 1940 until 1943 when it briefly joined Second Tactical Air Force before being disbanded at the start of 1944. The squadron reformed later in the year in Canada and was used to ferry US and Canadian built aircraft across the Atlantic.

The squadron reformed on 1 July 1940 at Aldergrove from No.416 Flight as a Lysander-equipped army co-operation squadron. The squadron spent part of its time in exercises with the army, but was also used to fly patrols along the border with Eire. At this date there was a real fear that the Germans would use their paratroopers to invade Southern Ireland, and there was also a genuine threat of IRA co-operation with the Nazis.

In September 1941 the squadron began to convert to the Tomahawk, reflecting the realisation that more powerful aircraft were needed for army cooperation in the face of the Luftwaffe. One Lysander flight was retained until July 1943, while the Tomahawk began to be replaced by the Mustang in April. By 1943 the danger of a German invasion of Eire had disappeared, and in March the squadron moved to Yorkshire, although a detachment remained in Northern Ireland until July.

On 4 July 1943 the squadron finally flew its first offensive operation of the Second World War, a fighter sweep over occupied Europe. The squadron joined No.128 Airfield, Second Tactical Air Force, on 22 July 1943 by which time it was fully equipped with them Mustang. The squadron flew a mix of shipping and weather reconnaissance, defensive patrols and ground attack sorties over Northern France, but was disbanded on 15 January 1944.

The squadron reformed for a second time on 8 September 1944 at Dorval, Canada, from No.46 Group Communications Squadron. Its main role was to ferry US and Canadian built aircraft across the Atlantic, but it was also used to administer a number of trans-Atlantic passenger and freight services, including a Coronado flying boat route between North America, West Africa and Largs. The squadron also used a number of No.46 Group's land planes for these transport flights. In September 1945 the squadron moved to Bermuda, where it disbanded on 15 January 1946.

Aircraft
July 1940-July 1943: Westland Lysander II and III
September 1941-July 1943: Curtiss Tomahawk I and IIB
April 1943-January 1944: North American Mustang I
September 1944-January 1946: Coronado I plus mix of transport aircraft including Douglas Dakota III, Dakota IV and Skymaster

Location
July 1940: Aldergrove
July 1940-December 1941: Newtownards
December 1941-February 1942: Long Kesh
February-November 1942: Maghaberry
November 1942-January 1943: Long Kesh
January-March 1943: Nutts Corner
March-July 1943: York
July 1943: Dunsford
July 1943: Weston Zoyland
July 1943: Dunsfold
July-October 1943: Woodchurch
October 1943-January 1944: Redhill

September 1944-January 1946: Dorval
    September 1945-January 1946: Detachment to Bermuda
    December 1945-January 1946: Detachment to Full Sutton

Squadron Codes: VM (Lysander)

Duty
1940-1943: Reconnaissance and Army cooperation
1943-1944: Mustang squadron, Second Tactical Air Force
1944-1945: Ferry squadron, based in Canada

Books

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (3 March 2011), No. 231 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/231_wwII.html

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