No. 229 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.229 Squadron was formed as a shipping protection squadron, but spent most of the Second World War as a single-engined fighter squadron, taking part in the Battle of Britain, the fighting in the Middle East and the invasion of Europe in 1944-45.

The squadron was reformed on 6 October 1939 as a Blenheim-equipped fighter squadron, and began shipping protection patrols on 21 December 1939. During this period the squadron was also used for radar trials and underwent night training, but in March 1940, before this could be put into use, the squadron converted to the Hawker Hurricane.

In May 1940 the squadron sent one flight to reinforce the Hurricane squadrons struggling against the German invasion of the west. The flight remained in France for eight days before being forced to escape back to southern England. A period of defensive patrols over the east coast followed, before in September the squadron moved to Northolt, where it remained for the rest of the Battle of Britain, putting it very much on the front line.

In December 1940 the squadron moved to Merseyside where it remained until May 1941 when it moved to the Middle East. The pilots and their aircraft embarked on HMS Furious and were flown off to Malta in two detachments fifteen days apart. On Malta each detachment refuelled and then flew on to Egypt. The squadron arrived in the Middle East in the middle of a period of crisis, and the two detachments were thrown into the fight as soon as they arrived, remaining separate until September. The first detachment was attached to No.274 Squadron and helped cover the evacuation of Crete. In June this detachment moved to No.73 Squadron in Egypt. The second detachment was itself split in three, and operated with Nos.6, 208 and 213 Squadrons.

The squadron finally began to operate as an independent unit in September, flying fighter sweeps over Libya. In March the squadron moved to Malta to reinforce the island's fighter defences, and on 29 April 1942 it was absorbed by other units already on the island.

The squadron reformed on 3 August 1942 at Takali, Malta, this time as a Spitfire squadron using aircraft provided by No.603 Squadron. The squadron took part in the last months of the siege of Malta, before in January 1943 going onto the offensive, flying fighter sweeps over Sicily. Fighter-bomber aircraft arrived in May, and were used to cover the landings on Sicily, but the squadron was then retained on Malta for defensive duties and didn't move to Sicily until January 1944. On 1 April, after three months on Sicily, the squadron was withdrawn and transferred back to the UK, re-assembling at Hornchurch on 24 April.

The squadron was used to provide fighter escorts for day bombers during the D-Day invasions. It then moved to East Anglia from where it flew armed reconnaissance and bomber escort missions over the Low Countries. In December the squadron received the Spitfire XVI and used its new aircraft on fighter-bomber sweeps. A number of these fighter-bomber sorties were aimed against the German V-weapons, including a large scale attack on a block of flats near Haagsche Bosch believed to be the headquarters of the V-2 rocket firing troops that took place on 24 December 1944. On 10 January 1945 the squadron was renumbered as No.603 Squadron.

Aircraft
November 1939-March 1940: Bristol Blenheim IF
March 1940-September 1941: Hawker Hurricane I
September 1941-April 1942: Hawker Hurricane IIC
August 1942-March 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VC
January 1943-March 1944: Supermarine Spitfire IX
April 1944-December 1944: Supermarine Spitfire IX
December 1944-January 1945: Supermarine Spitfire XVI

Location
October 1939-June 1940: Digby
June-September 1940: Wittering
September-December 1940: Northholt
December 1940: Wittering
December 1940-May 1941: Speke

May 1941: HMS Furious

May-July 1941: Idku
July-September 1941: LG.93
September-November 1941: LG.12
November 1941: LG.111
November 1941: LG.123
November 1941: LG.12
November-December 1941: LG.123
December 1941: Bu Amud
December 1941: Gazala
December 1941-January 1942: Msus
January 1942: Antelat
January-February 1942: Gazala 3
February 1942: LG.102
February-March 1942: El Firdan
March 1942: Gambut
March-April 1942: Hal Far

August-December 1942: Takali
December 1942-September 1943: Qrendi
September 1943-January 1944: Hal Far
January-April 1944: Catania

April-May 1944: Hornchurch
May-June 1944: Detling
June 1944: Tangmere
June 1944: Merston
June 1944: Tangmere
June-July 1944: Gatwick
July-September 1944: Coltishall
September-October 1944: Manston
October-Novemebr 1944: Matlask
November-December 1944: Swannington
December 1944-January 1945: Coltishall

Squadron Codes: RE (Blenheim, Hurricane I), HB (Hurricane IIC), 9R (Spitfire)

Duty
1939-1940: Blenheim equipped shipping protection
1940-1941: Fighter Command
1941-1944: Fighter Squadron, Mediterranean
1944-1945: Bomber escort, armed reconnaissance and fighter-bomber, European Theatre

Part of
8 August 1940: No.12 Group, Fighter Command
11 November 1941: No.262 Wing; Air HQ Western Desert; RAF Middle East
27 October 1942: Air HQ Malta; RAF Middle East
10 July 1943: Air HQ Malta; Mediterranean Air Command
6 June 1944: No.11 Group; Air Defence of Great Britain; Allied Expeditionary Air Force

Books

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (3 March 2011), No. 229 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/229_wwII.html

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