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No.544 Squadron was a photographic reconnaissance squadron that was split between bases in the UK at on Gibraltar when first formed, before concentrating in the UK in October 1943.
The squadron was formed on 19 October 1942 and was one of five squadrons formed from the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit. The new squadron was split into two very different flights. B Flight was based at Gibraltar and was equipped with Spitfires, which it used to provide coverage over North Africa, helping to support Operation Torch and the campaign that followed. B Flight was also used to watch airfields in Fascist Spain.
A Flight was based at Benson, and in October 1943 was involved in experiments in night photography, using its Wellingtons. These became operation either in December 1942 or January 1943, but were soon replaced by Mosquitos, which continued the night time work.
In October 1943 B Flight at Gibraltar transferred to No.541 Squadron, taking its Spitfires with it. A new B Flight was formed at Benson, and like A Flight was equipped with Mosquitos.
The two flights now operated both by day and by night, providing cover over Germany and occupied Western Europe. In February 1944 the squadron began to use San Severo in Italy as a very forward operating base, and provided cover over the south of France, southern German and Austria. In the same month B Flight moved north to Leuchars, from where it flew over Norway.
During the D-Day landings the squadron was diverted to short-range operations over Normandy, but it soon returned to its long range duties.
In October 1944 the squadron gained a minor transport role, when Mosquito XVIs equipped with drop tanks but with their cameras and guns removed were used to fly between the UK and Moscow during the Moscow conference. A similar courier service was provided during the Yalta conference, with No.544 flying the leg from the UK to Italy. The squadron was also used for Operation Haycock, flying diplomatic mail to Greece, Italy and Egypt.
After the end of the fighting in Europe the squadron was allocated to Tiger Force, the RAF contribution to the invasion of Japan, but in the meantime it was used to fly survey flights over Holland and Belgium. The end of the war in the Far East mean that that Tiger Force was no longer needed, and the squadron was disbanded on 13 October 1945.
October 1942-March 1943: Vickers Wellington IV
October 1942-March 1943: Avro Anson I
October 1942-March 1943: Martin Maryland I
October 1942-October 1943: Supermarine Spitfire IV
March-October 1943: de Havilland Mosquito IV
March-October 1943: Supermarine Spitfire XI
August-October 1943: Supermarine Spitfire IX
October 1943-March 1945: de Havilland Mosquito IX
April 1944-October 1945: de Havilland Mosquito XVI
April-October 1945: de Havilland Mosquito 34
October 1942-October 1945: Benson
Squadron Codes: -
1943-1945: Photographic reconnaissance
15 February 1943: No.16 Group; Coastal Command; detachment with Coastal Command Gibraltar
10 July 1943: Detachment with AHQ Gibraltar; Mediterranean Air Command