No. 321 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.321 Squadron was a Dutch manned squadron that went through two incarnations during the Second World War, the first as an anti-submarine squadron, the second as a maritime patrol squadron, and in both cases built around aircraft that escaped from Axis attacks.

The first incarnation of No.321 Squadron was formed at Pembroke Dock, using personnel of the Royal Netherlands Naval Air Service who had escaped from the fall of their country. It was equipped with the Avro Anson, and was used to fly anti-submarine patrols. This incarnation of the squadron survived until 18 January 1941, when it was merged with No.320 (Netherlands) Squadron.

Consolidated Catalina coming in to land, Sri Lanka
Consolidated Catalina
coming in to land,
Sri Lanka

The second incarnation of No.321 Squadron emerged after the Japanese invasion of the Dutch East Indies. On 2 March 1942 four Catalina flying boats of the Royal Netherlands Navy reached relative safety on Ceylon, having escaped from Java. They were used to fly patrols over the India Ocean, along with five extra Catalinas that arrived in May (this time from Australia). The impromptu unit was officially designated as No.321 Squadron on 15 August 1942, and was based at China Bay, Celyon.

This squadron was used to fly patrols all around the India Ocean. Its headquarters remained at China Bay throughout the war, but detachments were based in South Africa during 1943 and at Masirah and Socotra between September 1943 and December 1944 (flying patrols over the entrances to the Red Sea and Persian Gulf).

In July 1945 the squadron's aircraft moved to the Cocos Islands, from where they were to support the planned invasion of Malaya. The Japanese surrendered before this invasion was carried out, and instead the squadron was used for relief flights to Java and Sumatra.

In October 1945 the squadron moved to Batava, and on 8 December 1945 it became part of the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

Aircraft
June 1940-June 1941: Avro Anson I

August 1942-February 1945: Consolidated Catalina II
November 1942-December 1945: Consolidated Catalina III
April-December 1945: Consolidated Catalina V
December 1944-December 1945: Consolidated Liberator VI

Location
June 1940: Pembroke Dock
June 1940-January 1941: Carew Cheriton

August 1942-October 1945: China Bay
    July-December 1945: Detachment to Cocos Island
October-December 1945: Kemajoran

Squadron Codes: HH, QQ, UU

Duty
Role
June 1940-January 1941: Anti-submarine patrols

March 1942 onwards: Maritime Patrols, Indian Ocean

Part of
27 October 1942: No.207 Group; Middle East Command
10 July 1943: Detachment with AHQ East Africa; RAF Middle East; Mediterranean Air Command
1 July 1944: No.222 Group; Air Command South-East Asia

Books

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (11 November 2011), No. 321 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/321_wwII.html

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