No. 269 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.269 Squadron began the war as a home based coastal reconnaissance squadron, but spent the second half of the war serving overseas, first as a anti-submarine warfare squadron based on Iceland and then as an air-sea rescue and meteorological squadron operating from the Azores.

The squadron was reformed on 7 December 1936 from C Flight of No.206 Squadron, and inherited that flight's Avro Ansons. The squadron was based at Abbotsinch, near Glasgow, for most of the pre-war period, but as war loomed in 1939 the squadron was moved to Montrose, on the east coast of Scotland. From Montrose the squadron flew patrols off the east coast, before in October it was moved to Wick, close to the north-eastern tip of Scotland.

The Ansons were replaced with Lockheed Hudsons in March 1940, and the squadron switched from reconnaissance to anti-shipping duties, spending the next year operating against enemy shipping on the far side of the North Sea.

In April 1941 the squadron moved even further north, this time to Iceland, where it flew medium range anti-submarine patrols, helping to fill the mid-Atlantic gap, as well as protecting the Russia convoys. On 27 August 1941 the squadron was responsible for an almost unique occurrence. U-570 was caught on the surface, hit by depth charges and was forced to the surface. This was her maiden voyage and the crew were so un-nerved by the damage and the loss of lights that they insisted on surrendering. The U-boat was escorted into port, and officially entered the Royal Navy as HMS Graph.

Their first U-boat sinking came on 2 October 1942, when aircraft from the squadron combined with a convoy escort to sink U-582. In May 1943 the squadron took part in one of the most important convoy battles of the war, sinking two U-boats (U-646 and U-273) during their failed attack on Convoy SC 130 (17-19 May 1943). This and the similar failure against convoys ON 184 and HX 239 forced Donitz to pull his U-boats out of the North Atlantic. The squadron remained on Iceland for nearly three years, before in January 1944 it returned to the UK, where it began to train in air-sea rescue.

The Hudsons were joined by a mix of Spitfires, Martinets and Walruses, and in March 1944 the squadron moved to the Azores. The Hudsons were able to fly there under their own power, but the shorter range aircraft had to be flown onto the island from an escort carrier.

The squadron performed a mix of services during its two years on the Azores, including air-sea rescue, meteorological and target towing. The Hudsons were joined by a number Vickers Warwicks from October 1944, and the squadron operated all five aircraft types for the rest of the war. The squadron remained on the Azores after the war, and was disbanded on 10 March 1946.

Aircraft
December 1936-June 1940: Avro Anson I
March 1940-March 1941: Lockheed Hudson I
March 1941-July 1945: Lockheed Hudson II and III
January 1944-July 1945: Lockheed Hudson V
February 1944-March 1946: Supermarine Spitfire VB
February 1944-June 1945: Martinet I
February 1944-March 1946: Supermarine Walrus I
October 1944-March 1946: Vickers Warwick I and VI

Location
August-October 1939: Montrose
October 1939-May 1941: Wick
    April-May 1941: Detachment to Kaldadarnes
May 1941-March 1943: Kaldadarnes
March 1943-January 1944: Reykjavik

January-March 1944: Davidstowe Moor
March 1944-March 1946: Lagens

Squadron Codes: UA, HK (Warwick)

Duty
1939-1940: Coastal reconnaissance,
1940-1941: Anti-shipping strikes, home based
1942-1944: Anti-submarine patrols from Iceland
1944-1946: Air sea rescue, meteorological and target-towing, Azores

Part of
September 1939: No.18 GR Group; Coastal Command
15 February 1943: RAF Iceland; Coastal Command

Books

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (12 August 2011), No. 269 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/269_wwII.html

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