202 Squadron Association

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Index constitution NOTICES UPDATE Squadron History Mucky Duck Recollections Linebook Items of Interest Requests

The Squadron arrived at Gibraltar on the 10th  September 1939. The flying was difficult, surrounded as they were by neutral Spain who were quick to re-enforce their neutrality with anti aircraft fire, should an allied plane encroach their sovereign territory. The fact that the government of the day was supportive of the German and Italian Fascist governments and they saw the defeat of Britain as an opportunity to return Gibraltar to Spanish rule, played no small part in their enthusiasm to protect their airspace.  Initially, the Squadron patrolled around the Spanish coastal areas and out into the bay of Biscay, searching for axis shipping.  


The Squadron was complemented by aircraft from No 3 Anti Aircraft Co-operation unit flying Fairy Swordfish. For night time operations the Royal Navy lit up a "runway" across Algeciras Bay. The SS Dumana, which had been chartered by the Air Ministry for use as a Wing HQ for the Squadrons serving at Malta arrived and again served as the Wing HQ for 86 Wing and as an Officers mess. The Squadron continued operations throughout the winter of 1939, maintenance however was still being carried out at Kalafrana in Malta and this ensured that aircraft availability was at times minimal. At some points the Squadron assets were down to only three airframes available for patrols.


When the French forces ceased hostilities with Germany and retired from the war, the Vichy French were requested, by the Allies, to surrender the French fleet or, to steam into neutral ports for the duration. The refusal of the Vichy government to do this led to the destruction of part of the Fleet in Oran Harbour by British warships. The Squadron had played a part in this historical event, a Squadron London, from Gibraltar, over flew Oran on the 3rd July 1940 and provided the aerial reconnaissance photographs that enabled the location of numerous French ships to be plotted prior to the bombardment. Due to the increased patrol areas that had to be covered following the French retirement, two Sunderlands of No 228 Squadron arrived to supplement the Squadrons duties. (202 and 228 Squadron's histories where to be come entwined again some 24 years in the future). Malta was by now a besieged island and it was impossible for the Squadrons aircraft to go there for maintenance, the Squadron had to send their aircraft back to England for all major maintenance activities.

Squadron History Navy Co-Operation Malta Gibraltar Castle Archdale Meteorological Search & Rescue


The Squadron continued patrolling throughout the year, losing four valuable aircraft and one full crew, the others being found and rescued. One of these was an aircraft that was again involved in disagreements with the Vichy French Forces, this time in Casablanca. The Squadron had been tasked to maintain a watching flight on the Vichy forces at Casablanca during an attempt by the Free French Forces to retake Dakar on the west coast of Africa. While on patrol, the crew of K9682 piloted by Flt Lt McCallum sent out a distress signal, a search was instigated by other Squadron aircraft in the patrol but no trace could be found of them. However after a short time news arrived from Casablanca that the crew had reached the safety of the African coast. Only one London successfully attacked and disabled a submarine, this was K5913, piloted by Flt Lt Eagleton. They spotted and depth charged an Italian submarine, forcing it to the surface where it was captured by a Royal Navy destroyer. On the 27 October 1940, the Swordfish of No 3 AACU, which had been attached to the Squadron on it's arrival were now subsumed into the Squadron and used for patrols within the confines of Gibraltar's approaches.


The 4th  of June 1941 saw the last London arrive back off patrol, on the 24th  April 1941 the Squadron had received the first of it's replacement aircraft, two Consolidated Catalina's, although lightly armed and with only two engines, the "Cat" was to provide sterling service to the Squadron on long Atlantic patrols which could last up to 24 hours. These long patrols meant that the squadron had occasional encounters with enemy aircraft, in particular the Focke-Wulf Condor, the very effective German maritime patrol aircraft flying in from the French Coast. The Squadron had a number of "incidents" with submarines, but unfortunately, for one reason or another were unable to sink them, they did however manage to call on escorting Navy ships to complete the task. 202's force was strengthened by the addition of a number of Sunderlands, the first going on patrol on the 26th December 1941. The Sunderlands remained with the Squadron until 20th  September 1942.

1942 saw operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa underway, the Squadron was constantly on patrol as Gibraltar became a major staging post for the operation and the consequent increased naval and other military traffic required a constant watch on the approaches for enemy activity. A Squadron aircraft found and sunk U-620 on 13th February 1943 as it waited in ambush for the many convoys that crossed between Gibraltar and Africa. Another year was to pass before the next successful contact with an enemy submarine The crew of G/202 were involved in the sinking of U-761.


On the 3rd of September 1944, the Squadrons stay in the Mediterranean area came to an end. The Squadron was ordered back to the United Kingdom, to Castle Archdale, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.


For their services in the Mediterranean and Biscay theatres of operation


The Squadron was to receive two new Battle Honours


Mediterranean

North Africa