No. 605 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.605 (County of Warwick) Squadron went through two incarnations during the Second World War, first as a fighter squadron that took part in the Battle of Britain before being destroyed during the early part of the war in the Pacific in 1942 and second as a home-based intruder squadron.

Like most of the Auxiliary Air Force No.605 was formed as a day bomber squadron, but became a fighter squadron in 1939. It was initially given Gloster Gladiators, but began to convert to the Hurricane just before the start of the Second World War. On the first day of the war the squadron had six Hurricanes and ten Gladiators, but the biplanes were all gone before serious fighting began. The squadron began the war at Tangmere. It moved to Scotland in February 1940, and remained there until September, apart from one week in May 1940, when the squadron moved south to fly patrols over northern France.

Mosquito Mk.II or Mk.VI of No.605 Squadron
Mosquito Mk.II or Mk.VI
of No.605 Squadron

15 August saw the heaviest fighting of the entire Battle of Britain, when the Luftwaffe attempted to bring Luftflotte 5 in Norway and Denmark into the battle. No.605 Squadron was one of five fighter squadrons based in the north-east that intercepted this force and prevented it from doing any damage and inflicted such heavy losses on the Germans that they didn't make another daylight attack from Scandinavia during the Battle of Britain.

On 7 September 1940 the squadron moved to Croydon (No.11 Group), and remained there for the rest of the year. It thus took part in the fourth phase of the Battle of Britain (the daylight raids on London) and the final fighter-bomber phase.

From December 1940 the squadron provided fighter escorts for bombers operating over northern France. It moved to the Midlands to provide defensive cover in March, and remained there until it was posted overseas in October 1941.

The squadron was soon caught up in the disastrous first months of the war in the Far East. It arrived at Singapore in January 1942 and was almost immediate evacuated to Sumatra.

The squadron was involved in the Allied evacuation from Sumatra to Java. In February 1942 a party of fifty volunteers from the squadron returned to the port of Oesthaven on H.M.A.S. Ballarat and spent twelve hours retrieving some invaluable equipment that had been left behind when the port was evacuated two days earlier.

More normal duties followed, and from 17-27 February the squadron took part in the air defence of Batavia, alongside No.232 Squadron. By 28 February the two squadrons were at less than half strength and it was decided to keep No.232. Volunteers from No.605 filled the gaps in that squadron and the rest of the squadron was evacuated. No.605 ceased to exist in March.

The squadron appears to have been split in two during its trip to the Far East. A detachment from the squadron is recorded as having operated from Hal Far, Malta, from 10 January-27 February 1942.

No.605 Squadron reformed at Ford on 7 June 1942. This time it was formed as an intruder squadron, initially equipped with the Boston. Operations began on 14 July 1942, and the squadron was used to interrupt German operations in France, lingering over Luftwaffe airfields. In February 1943 the Bostons were replaced with the much more capable Mosquito. Intruder missions continued until the end of the war. The squadron moved to Belgium in March 1945, and to the Netherlands in April.

On 31 August 1945 No.605 was renumbered as No.4 Squadron. A new No.605 Squadron was formed in the Auxiliary Air Force in May 1946.

Aircraft
February-October 1939: Gloster Gladiator I and II
August 1939-December 1940: Hawker Hurricane I
December 1940-August 1941: Hawker Hurricane IIA
August 1941-March 1942: Hawker Hurricane IIB
July-October 1942: Douglas Havoc I and II
July 1942-March 1943: Douglas Boston III
February-July 1943: de Havilland Mosquito II
July 1943-August 1945: de Havilland Mosquito VI

Location
October 1926-August 1939: Castle Bromwich
August 1939-February 1940: Tangmere
February 1940: Leuchars
February-May 1940: Wick
May 1940: Hawkinge
May-September 1940: Drem
September 1940-February 1941: Croydon
February-March 1941: Martlesham Heath
March-May 1941: Ternhill
May-September 1941: Baginton
September-October 1941: Honiley
October 1941-January 1942: Palembang
January-February 1942: Tjililitan
February 1942: Tasik Masala (Ground echelon)

January-February 1942: Hal Far
February 1941: Takali

June 1942-March 1943: Ford
March-October 1943: Castle Camps
October 1943-April 1944: Bradwell Bay
April-November 1944: Manston
November 1944-March 1945; Hartfordbridge
March-April 1945: B.71 Coxyde
April-August 1945: B.80 Volkel

Squadron Codes: HE, UP

Duty
1939-May 1940: Fighter Command
May 1940: Brief spell with AAF
May 1940-October 1941: Fighter Command
January 1942-March 1942: Far East – Singapore, Sumatra and Java
January 1942-February 1942: Detachment at Malta
June 1942 onwards: Home based Intruder Squadron

Part of
September 1939: No.11 Group, Fighter Command
Before August 1940: AAF
By August 1940: No.13 Group, Fighter Command
6 June 1944: No.11 Group; Air Defence of Great Britain; Allied Expeditionary Air Force

Sources

Many thanks to Harold Rogers for allowing us to post this account of his experiences of National Service in the RAF in 1951-53, including a period on Malta with No.605 Squadron.

Books

Gloster Gladiator Aces, Andrew Thomas. A look at the wartime career of the only biplane fighter still in RAF service during the Second World War. Covers the Gladiator's service in Finland, Malta, North Africa, Greece, Aden, East Africa and Iraq, where despite being outdated it performed surprisingly well.
cover cover cover

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (30 March 2012), No. 605 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/605_wwII.html

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