No. 26 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.26 Squadron began the Second World War as an army co-operation squadron equipped with the Westland Lysander. At the start of the war it took its Lysanders to France, where most of the Lysander squadrons suffered very heavy loses. No.26 Squadron would appear to have returned from France relatively intact, which would explain why while most Lysander squadrons were dispersed around Britain No.26 Squadron remained on active duty on the south coast. While the fighting continued in France the squadron was used for a mix of reconnaissance, bombing and supply missions. After the fall of France the squadron flew coastal patrols, especially over the potential German invasion ports.

On 18 August a German air raid destroyed three of the remaining Lysanders on the ground. Two weeks later the squadron moved to Gatwick, where it performed ack-ack calibration and balloon spotting duties.

This period ended with the arrival of the Tomahawk in February 1941. After a period of training, in October 1941 the squadron began to fly low-level daylight intruder missions over northern France, but the Tomahawk lacked the performance for this duty, and in January 1942 was joined by the Mustang I, a superb aircraft at low level. The squadron flew intruder missions and reconnaissance missions with its Mustangs until July 1943, when it was moved to Yorkshire.

After a period in Scotland the squadron returned to the south coast to take part in the D-Day landings. During this period its Mustangs were replaced by Spitfires, which the squadron used to spot for the naval bombardment on and after D-Day.

In December 1944 the Mustangs were restored, and for the rest of the war the squadron flew tactical reconnaissance missions, especially over the Netherlands. In April 1945 it briefly returned to the naval spotting role, helping in the final attack on Bordeaux. At the end of the war the squadron was moved to Germany, before being disbanded on 1 April 1946.

February 1939-May 1942: Westland Lysander I, II and III
February 1941-January 1942: Curtiss Tomahawk I, IIA
January 1942-March 1944: North American Mustang I
March 1944-January 1945: Supermarine Spitfire VA, VB and VC
December 1944-June 1945: North American Mustang I

11 October 1927-8 October 1939: Catterick
8 October 1939-April 1940: Abbeville/ Drucat
April-15 May 1940: Dieppe
15-19 May 1940: Authie
19 May-8 June 1940: Lympne
8 June-3 September 1940: West Malling
3 September 1940-14 July 1941: Gatwick
14-18 July 1941: Weston Zoyland
18-22 July 1941: Leconfield
22 July-22 November 1941: Manston
30 November 1941-7 February 1942: Gatwick
7-23 February 1942: Weston Zoyland
23 February 1942-12 January 1943: Gatwick
12 January-27 February 1943: Detling
27 February-10 March 1943: Stoney Cross
10-11 March 1943: East Manton
11-13 March 1943: Red Barn
13 March-7 April 1943: Stoney Cross
7 April-21 June 1943: Gatwick
21 June-11 July 1943: Detling
11-16 July 1943: Martlesham Heath
16-21 July 1943: Detling
  19 July 1943-3 March 1944: Detachment to Ballyhalbert
21 July-28 December 1943: Church Fenton
28 December 1943-12 February 1944: Hutton Cranswick
12-28 February 1944: Scorton
28 February-30 March 1944: Hutton Cranswick
30 March-10 April 1944: Peterhead
10-21 April 1944: Dundonald
21-26 April 1944: Ayr
26-28 April 1944: Hutton Cranswick
28 April-6 October 1944: Lee-on-Solent
6-10 October 1944: Hawkinge
10 October-1 November 1944: Tangmere
1-4 November 1944: Manston
4 November-8 December 1944: Tangmere
8 December 1944-14 January 1945: Exeter
14-21 January 1945: Harrowbeer
21 January-3 April 1945: North Weald
3-13 April 1945: Harrowbeer
13 April-1 May 1945: Cognac
1-23 May 1945: Harrowbeer
23 May-18 August 1945: Chilbolton

Squadron Codes: RM, XC

1939-May 1940: Army Co-operation
May-June 1940: Reconnaissance, bombing and supply missions over France
June 1940-October 1941: Coastal patrols and tactical reconnaissance
October 1941-July 1943: low-level ground attack and tactical reconnaissance
July 1943-April 1944: unclear
June 1944: Spotting for naval gunnery during D-Day invasion
December 1944 to end of war: Tactical reconnaissance.



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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (pending), No. 26 Squadron (RAF): Second World War,

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