No. 35 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.613 (City of Manchester) Squadron had a very varied wartime career, beginning as an army cooperation squadron and flying coastal patrols, air-sea rescue missions, tactical reconnaissance and fighter-bomber missions before ending the war as a night intruder squadron.

The squadron was formed on 1 March 1939 as an army co-operation squadron in the Auxiliary Air Force. A shortage of aircraft meant it was originally equipped with the Hawker Hind bomber, and even when army co-operation aircraft did arrive late in 1939 it was in the form of the obsolete Hawker Hector. It was only in April 1940 that the squadron finally received the Westland Lysander. In the following month the German offensive in the west began, and the squadron used both its Lysanders and its Hectors. The first operation came on 26 May when both types were used in an attack on German field guns near Calais.  The squadron was engaged in light bombing and supply drops until early June.

Late in June a detachment from the squadron began to fly dawn and dusk coastal patrols to guard against German invasion. The detachment was soon joined by the entire squadron and this duty was performed until November 1940.

During 1941 the squadron was used to support training, flying a mix of radar calibration, air firing training and gas spraying training as well as taking par tin army training.

In August 1941 the first Tomahawks arrived, and were used alongside the Lysanders into 1942. Mustangs began to arrive in June 1942, and by the end of the year the squadron had standardised on the new aircraft. On 5 December the squadron went operational with the Mustang, flying reconnaissance mission along the French coast. The squadron also took part in Rhubarbs, fighter sweeps across France.

No.613 Squadron attack on SS Barracks, Egletons
No.613 Squadron attack on SS Barracks, Egletons

Early in 1943 the squadron moved north to take part in army exercises. In April 1943 it moved to East Anglia and began to take part in Lagoons, anti-shipping strikes off the Dutch Coast. No.613's Mustangs operated alongside Beaufighters from Coastal Command. These operations continued into the summer of 1943. In the same period the squadron also flew on Instep missions, escorting Mosquitoes operating over the Bay of Biscay and in patrols over the Frisian Islands, searching for German minesweeping aircraft.

In October 1943 the squadron was withdrawn from operations and began to convert to the Mosquito. Fighter-bomber operations began in December 1943. These included at least one of the famous precision missions flow by Mosquito squadrons, when on 11 April 1944 Wing Commander R. N. Bateson led six aircraft in a raid on a five storey building in The Hague being used to store the principle register of the population of the city. The raid was a success, destroyed the records that were being used by the Gestapo to trace the local resistance.

In May 1944 the squadron began to fly night intruder missions. In November it moved to France, where it remained for the rest of the war. The squadron was renumbered as No.69 Squadron on 7 August 1945. A new 613 Squadron was formed in the Auxiliary Air Force in May 1946.

May-December 1939: Hawker Hind
November 1939-June 1940: Hawker Hector I
April 1940-April 1942: Westland Lysander II and III
August 1941-August 1942: Curtiss Tomahawk IIA
April 1942-October 1943: North American Mustang I
November 1943-August 1945: de Havilland Mosquito VI

March-October 1939: Ringway
October 1939-June 1940: Odiham
June-September 1940: Netherthorpe
September 1940-July 1941: Firbeck
July-September 1941: Doncaster
September-October 1941: Andover
October 1941-April 1942: Doncaster
April-August 1942: Twinwood Farm
August 1942-March 1943: Ouston
March 1943: Wing
March 1943: Bottisham
March 1943: Ringway
March-May 1943: Wellingore
May-June 1943: Clifton
June-July 1943: Portreath
July-October 1943: Snailwell
October 1943-April 1944: Lasham
April 1944: Swanton Morley
April-October 1944: Lasham
October-November 1944: Hartfordbridge
November 1944-August 1945: A.75 Cambrai/ Epinoy

Squadron Codes: ZR (Hector, Lysander), SY (Mustang, Mosquito)

March 1939-June 1940: Army Cooperation
June 1940-November 1941: Coastal patrols, air-sea rescue
December 1941-December 1942: Various training tasks
December 1942-November 1943: Tactical reconnaissance, escort, ground attack
December 1943-May 1944: Fighter-bomber squadron
May 1944-August 1945: Night Intruder Squadron

Part of
September 1939: Air Component, BEF
6 June 1944: No.138 Wing; No.2 Group; Second Tactical Air Force; Allied Expeditionary Air Force


Return Flights in War and Peace, the Flying Memoirs of Squadron Leader John Rowland, DSO, DFC. The memoirs of an RAF pilot who started with war in Army Co-Operation before joining Bomber Command, where he flew 50 missions, ending the war as a flight leader. Covers the experiences of a Bomber Command pilot in the second half of the war, when targets became rather more varied than earlier [read full review]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (6 April 2012), No. 613 Squadron (RAF): Second World War,

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