No. 248 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.248 Squadron was formed as a night fighter unit, but spend most of the war serving with Coastal Command, ending the war with the Banff Strike Wing. The squadron was reformed on 30 October 1939, with an official establishment of 18 Blenheim 1fs, although the first actual aircraft didn’t arrive until December. With no radar the Blenheims were ineffective as night fighters, and in February 1940 the squadron was transferred to Coastal Command, at which date it was equipped with seven Blenheim VIfs.

This first period with Coastal Command was short-lived. The squadron moved twice, before rejoining Fighter Command at Dyce on 22 May. The squadron was used to provide fighter patrols over the east coast of Scotland, before returning to Coastal Command once again on 20 June.

The squadron spend a short period of time flying reconnaissance missions over the Norwegian coast, before in July 1940 it moved to the Shetlands and began to attack enemy shipping.

In January 1941 the squadron returned to Dyce and provided escorts for coastal convoys as well as flying reconnaissance missions. In June it moved to Bircham Newton, where it converted to the much more capable Beaufighter. Operations resumed on 14 August, and this time the squadron combined convoy patrols with anti-shipping strikes off the Dutch coast. In September a detachment moved to Cornwall to cover the western approaches to the Channel, before in February the squadron moved back to Scotland for long range patrols over the North Sea.

In July 1942 sixteen aircraft flew to Malta, arriving on 10 August. They were used to escort one of the vital relief convoys to the island, carrying out a number of attacks on enemy airfields in Sicily, and then left their aircraft on Malta and returned to the UK.

The squadron reunited at Talbenny in September 1942, from where it flew fighter patrols over the Bay of Biscay in support of Coastal Command's anti-submarine aircraft. This was part of an effort to intercept German U-boats while they were crossing the Bay of Biscay, but this first Bay Offensive came to an end when the Germans discovered a way to detect the signals from the Mk.II A.S.V. radar.

In December 1943 the squadron converted to the Mosquito which it used for fighter-reconnaissance missions and anti-shipping strikes off the French coast. The squadron was also used to protect the D-Day convoys against U-boat attack. By August 1944 the advancing Allied armies had driven away the last targets in this area, and the squadron moved to Banff to join the Banff Strike Wing. Anti-shipping operations lasted to the end of the war, with the last sortie flown on 4 May 1945. The squadron accounted for two U-boats. U-821 was sunk on 10 June 1944 to the north of Ushant, while U-251 was sunk in the Kattegat on 19 April 1945, with the help of aircraft from Nos.143, 248 and 333 squadrons. The squadron was renumbered as No.36 Squadron on 30 September 1946.

Aircraft
December 1939-February 1940: Bristol Blenheim IF
February 1940-July 1941: Bristol Blenheim IVF
July 1941-February 1942: Bristol Beaufighter Ic
February 1942-June 1943: Bristol Beaufighter VIc
June 1943-January 1944: Bristol Beaufighter X
December 1943-September 1946: de Havilland Mosquito VI
January 1944-February 1945: de Havilland Mosquito XVIII

Location
October 1939-February 1940: Hendon
February-April 1940: North Coates
April 1940: Thorney Island
April-May 1940: Gosport
May-July 1940: Dyce
July 1940-January 1941: Sumburgh
January-June 1941: Dyce
June 1941-February 1942: Bircham Newton
February-May 1942: Dyce
May-August 1942: Sumburgh
August-September 1942: Takali
September-November 1942: Talbenny
November-December 1492: Pembrey
December 1942-January 1943: Talbenny
January 1943-February 1944: Predannack
February-September 1944: Portreath
September 1944-July 1945: Banff
July 1945-May 1946: Chivenor
May-September 1946: Thorney Island

Squadron Codes: WR, B, DM

Duty
1939-1940: Night Fighter
February-May 1940: Coastal Command
May-June 1940: Fighter Command
June 1940 onwards: Coastal Command

Part of
15 February 1943: No.19 Group; Coastal Command
10 July 1943: Detachment with AHQ Gibraltar; Mediterranean Air Command

Books
The Strike Wings - Special Anti-Shipping Squadrons, 1942-45, Roy Conyers Nesbit. A history of Coastal Command's Strike Wings, dedicated groups of anti-shipping squadrons that devastated German coastal shipping during the Second World War, but at a very high cost, written by someone who flew in the same role after the war and with a great use of eyewitness accounts and both Allied and German sources. [read full review] cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (20 July 2011), No. 248 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/248_wwII.html

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