264 Squadron History

1          No 264 Squadron was originally formed by the amalgamation of N0.439 and 440 Flights in August 1918!. It was equipped with Short 184 Seaplanes being based at Suda Bay, Crete and at Siros, on the Greek mainland. Their task was to patrol the shipping route and defend the convoys on their way to Salonika. It saw little action and was disbanded on March the 1st
1919.

2          No. 264 Squadron, Royal Air Force, was re-formed at Sutton Bridge on the 30th  October
1939, and was named the Madras Presidency Squadron, as the Bolton Paul Defiants with which they were equipped were provided by a gift of money from the Presidency of Madras. The first Squadron commander was Squadron Leader S H Hardy.

3          In December 1939, the Squadron, now at full strength, moved to Martlesham Heath for training and trials. As this was the first Squadron to be equipped with Defiants, it was natural that there should be a number of teething troubles with the aircraft, mainly with the hydraulics
and engine installation. These trials and training continued until the 20th March 1940, when six crews became operational.

4          On the 21st March 1940, two sections of three aircraft and their crews moved to Wittering for operational duties. The role of the Squadron at this time was day fighters, but it was realised that the Defiant would be at a disadvantage against enemy day fighters and there was a movement to make the Squadron assume the role of night defence.

5          The two operational sections undertook a number of Convoy patrols over the North Sea and
Channel during March with aircraft operating from Bircham Newton and on the 24th  March
1940, Squadron Leader P A Hunter assumed command of the Squadron.

6          There were no operational flights in April 1940, but the battle of day or night policy was beginning, for during this month, extensive tactical trials were carried out with day fighters; night flying practice, and air to air firing was carried out by the whole Squadron.

7          In May the whole Squadron moved to Duxford for operations, and while one aircraft came to readiness every dusk and dawn, the rest of the Squadron continued with intensive training in day and night tactics.

8          May 1940 saw the great retreat of the British Expeditionary Force in France towards Dunkirk and the Squadron commenced patrols over the Channel. On the 12th May the first offensive patrol was carried out over Holland and two enemy aircraft were destroyed. The tactics used by the Squadron were designed to lead the enemy into thinking that they were single seater fighters; one section of Defiants flew with two or three sections of Hurricanes or Spitfires.
These tactics resulted in fair success, twenty-four enemy aircraft being destroyed up to the
28th May.

9          The 29th May was the Squadron’s first red-letter day. In patrols over the Dunkirk-Calais area, twelve aircraft in two sweeps destroyed two M.E 109’s, fifteen Me 110’s, nineteen Ju. 87’s and one Ju. 88, a very creditable total of thirty seven. The following telegram was received that evening. “The Air Officer Commanding in Chief sends sincere congratulations to No. 264
Squadron on their magnificent performance in shooting down over 30 enemy aircraft to-day without loosing a single pilot, one of whom brought his aeroplane back safely minus both elevators and one aileron.”

10        The enemy had learnt his lesson from this beating, and the next day the Squadron lost seven aircraft but destroyed nine enemy aircraft. Thus, at the end of their first month’s operations, the Squadron had destroyed sixty-five enemy aircraft for the loss of fourteen Defiants. The Squadron was then withdrawn from day operations.
11        June and July 1940 was a period of rest and training for the Squadron, the emphasis being placed on night flying. A few patrols were carried out, but no interceptions were achieved. Constant speed airscrews were fitted to the aircraft in place of the old variable pitch ones and the resulting increase in performance was very pleasing.

12        The first awards came to the Squadron in June, for the magnificent achievement during the first months of operations, one D.S.O., two D.F.C.’s and four D.F.M.’s.

13        At the end of July, the Squadron moved to Kirton in Lindsay for convoy and night patrols.
The Prime Minister and Chief of Air Staff. (C.A.S.) visited the Squadron.

14        August saw the first night interception, unfortunately no claim could be made. The target was a
He.111 which fired first then went into cloud.

15        On the 22nd August the Squadron moved to Hornchurch. The role of the Squadron was still unsettled. 12 Group seemed loathe to withdraw a possibly useful Squadron from day operations to make it night only. Radar control was virtually nil, and as the Defiants had no A.I., success at night was improbable. Day operations therefore continued and on the 23rd of August the Squadron had its first brush with He.113’s and one Defiant was damaged.

16        On the 24th  August the Squadron moved to Manston to take part in the big show. The first scramble came at 0700hrs, and before the Squadron could form up, the airfield was attacked by Ju.88’s and Me.109’s. A series of individual combats took place. The C.O. Squadron Leader Hunter was last seen chasing a Ju.88 at full bore towards France. The score for the morning was 3 Ju.88’s destroyed and one damaged, one He.113 destroyed for the loss of 3 of our aircraft. Squadron Leader G D Garvin assumed command.

17        The Squadron was very heavily engaged in day defence for the rest of the month, and the total tally for August was 18 enemy aircraft destroyed and 3 damaged, for the loss of 16 of our aircraft. It was now obvious, if it had not been before, that the Defiant could not operate
effectively as a day fighter and on the 1st September, the Squadron moved back to Kirton in
Lindsay with a detachment at Northolt for the night defence of London.

18        Night patrols occurred on most nights during September, but although a number of enemy aircraft were seen in searchlight beam, evasive action took them out of the light before the fighters could get within range.

19        On the 15th September the enemy first used R/T jamming, and this, combined with ineffective ground radar made things very difficult for the fighters.

20        Due to various difficulties at Northolt, the detachment moved to Luton to continue its task, while another detachment was sent to Ringway to assist in night defence of Liverpool and Manchester. Night patrols continued throughout September and October without success until
the 16th  October. On this night Pilot Officer Desmond Hughes obtained the first confirmed
night kill, one He.111

21        Night patrols continued throughout November. On the 23rd  Pilot Officer D. Hughes saw two searchlights intercepting, and on investigation found a He.111. The first burst from his turret guns destroyed one engine, but unfortunately the turret jammed. Hughes then manoeuvred the Defiant to bring the guns to bear, and nearly collided with the target. After a long chase during which the target lost 10,000 feet, he lost it. The target was traced by radar out to 8 miles from the coast when it went out of scan. Claim, one probable.

22        Squadron Leader A T D Sanders assumed command of the Squadron on the 24th November and on the 27th November, the Squadron was moved again, this time to Debden.

23        During December, 98 night defensive patrols were flown; two enemy aircraft were sighted in searchlights but avoided them before our fighters could attack.

24        At the end of 1940, the Squadron’s total score was 84 destroyed, one probably destroyed and
3 damaged for the loss of 30 of our aircraft.

1941

25        No.264 Squadron was becoming known as “the most moved Squadron”. On the 1st January it moved to Gravesend. Continuous bad weather made patrols impossible. Luckily, bad weather over “the other side”, limited enemy activity. Time was spent on servicing, ground lectures and visits to other stations and the few Radar Stations in the area. On the 15th  January the
Squadron moved once again, to Biggin Hill. The score for January was 1 Ju.88 damaged.

26        February was an uneventful month, weather limiting activity on both sides of the Channel, only
89 patrols were flown and no enemy aircraft sighted.

27        During  March  and  April  the  weather  improved,  especially during  the  full  moon  periods, enabling the Squadron to destroy five aircraft and claim a further three possibly destroyed. 220 patrols were flown during these months. Squadron awards during the period were 1 D.F.C., 2
D.F.M.’s and two bars to D.F.M.’s.

28        On the 14th April the Squadron moved again, this time to West Malling. This was to start on offensives at night. Previously night fighters had been used only for defence. On one occasion one of our aircraft had been followed into the circuit by a Ju.88, which luckily did very little damage. As a result of this intruding Jerry, it was decided to try some of our own.

29        On the 2nd  May, A.O.C. 11 Group visited the Squadron and presented the Squadron with its crest that had just been approved by His Majesty.  “WE DEFY” became the Squadron’s battle cry. With this cry, intruding sorties started on German airfields in France and Belgium. These sorties were eagerly sort after as a change from the somewhat tedious and unsuccessful night defence patrols. At the end of this month, the Squadron had added six confirmed kills and three damaged to its claims.

30        The moon period of June was ruined by bad weather, and although 116 patrols were flown that month, no sightings were made. On the 16th June Squadron Leader P J Sanders D.F.C. assumed  command  from  vice  Squadron  Leader  A  T  D  Sanders,  who  took  over  No.85
Squadron.

31        Rumours were starting to circulate of airborne Radar set, which would enable a fighter to home on an enemy aircraft out of visual range at night. These rumours were largely substantiated by the arrival of mysterious civilians to see the C.O. These civilians turned out to be representatives of British Movietone News. A short film was made on the Squadron for inclusion in a newsreel. No interceptions were made during June, July, August or September.
Morale was running a little low when on September 26th the first Defiant Mk.2 arrived on the airfield. The protrusions of aerials all over the wings, confirmed the rumours of a few months
ago, – A.I. was here.

32        A.I. Mk. 6, pilot interpreted was hoped to end the frustration of long night patrols during which there was little hope of shooting the enemy down unless he was caught in searchlights. During September and October radio mechanics worked hard to eliminate the teething troubles of the A.I. The first contact gained was at first under one mile range; the target turned out to be a Do.217 which crashed without a shot being fired at it. No other enemy aircraft were sighted during those two months.

33        During November and December, bad weather over the Continent hampered enemy activity and time was devoted to P.I.’s with A.I., a novel experience. Range was found to be very limited, but the Defiants were quicker in completing their interceptions than either the Beaufighter or the Havoc.

34        On  the  18th   December Squadron Leader C  A  Cooke D.F.C. assumed command of  the
Squadron. Boulton Paul Ltd presented the Squadron with a magnificent silver salver on the
18th December. This was received by Fl. Lt. S R Thomas (note: it has not been seen for many years).
35        It was now becoming apparent that even with the help of A.I. the Defiant was not fast enough to cope with bombers at night, and a visit from the C.in C. Fighter Command on the 1st January lent conviction to a rumour that the squadron was to be equipped with Beaufighters.

36        Snow, frost, and low cloud prevented all but very limited operations during January, February and March. By March the Squadron was feeling the need for faster aircraft. Four times that month, targets in firm A.I. contact ran away from the fighters. However on the 17th April one He.111 was destroyed. This brought the confirmed kills up to 97. On the 30th  April the Squadron moved to Colerne.

37        On the 3rd May, the first new `twin’ arrived. Not however a Beaufighter, but a Mosquito. Four Defiants  were  left  at  West  Malling for  operations while the  rest  of  the  Squadron were converting at Colerne. The Air Gunners, who had done such stirling work on the Squadron, were posted away and the Radio Observers arrived.

38        On the 14th May, Wing Commander M M Kerr A.F.C. assumed command of the Squadron and Squadron Leader C A Cooke took over A’ flight. Training and conversion proceeded smoothly until the middle of June, when “old friends”, the Defiants – plus the Air Gunners were re- posted in, just for the “moon period”.

39        The first operational sorties in Mosquitos were flown in June, and one Do.217 was damaged.
During July the first Mosquito Night Fighter kill was achieved by Sqn. Ldr. Cooke, – 1 Ju.88. The Squadron was visited on 16th of July by H.R.H. the Duke of Kent.

40        August saw the first night “scramble”. Range on the A.I. was still limited and the accuracy of ground control uncertain. One crew had its first experience of a “head on” interception when a visual was obtained on a He.111. After a turn about, the target was out of A.I. range. The first low level anti-minelayer patrols were carried out this month by two aircraft based at Exeter, operating under C.H.L. control. One Ju.88 was shot down south of the Needles during this patrol; the target was at 500 feet.

41        By the end of August the whole Squadron was operational on Mosquitos and all the crews liked the aircraft very much.

42        During September, the travelling circus arrived at Colerne. This consisted of a Ju.88, He.111, Me.109 and Me.110. These aircraft stayed for a fortnight and everyone on the Squadron was able to fly against them in comparative trials. There was very little enemy activity in the sector this month; most of the flying was on the comparative trials and P.I.’s.

43        No enemy aircraft came over the sector in October, so time was spent on searchlight co- operation and P.I.’s. Six engine failures occurred this month, and although one aircraft had not gained safety speed after take-off, he lost height down the valley towards Bath and then climbed up safely. No aircraft was lost or damaged.

44        No operations were flown during November or the first three weeks of December. Enemy activity over the United Kingdom was dwindling to a very small amount; it was time that the Squadron switched again to the offensive. On the 28th December, six aircraft were detached to Trebalzue (now called St Mawgan), to carry out day patrols in the Bay of Biscay. During the
few remaining days of the year, 37 daylight Bay of Biscay patrols were completed.

45        At the end of 1942, the Squadron’s tally stood at 99 destroyed, 4 probables and 4 damaged.

1943

46        Clearance had now been obtained for Mosquito aircraft fitted with A.I. to operate over enemy territory and on The 18th  January three aircraft were detached to Bradwell Bay for day and night intruder work. The Trebalzue detachment had a windy time this month; the average wind
speed being 50 m.p.h. The intruders did quite well during this first month, damaging five railway engines and two repair sheds at night.
47        At the beginning of February, the Trebalzue detachment moved to Portreath as the former airfield was being enlarged. 59 Bay of Biscay patrols were flown, but no enemy aircraft were sighted.  12  daylight  Ranger  Patrols  over  enemy  territory  yielded  a  score  of  eleven locomotives, two power stations damaged and a beat up of Lorient.

48        March 1943 was quite an eventful month, even though only 42 sorties were flown. These consisted of day and night Ranger Patrols. 24 locomotives were damaged or destroyed, 3 enemy aircraft were shot down, 4 Power Stations were damaged and a Railway Repair shed was left in flames. Three of our aircraft failed to return.

49        On one Day Ranger, Squadron Leader Constable-Maxwell came back 400 miles over enemy territory on one engine.

50        On 16th  March all detachments were recalled to the main base and Wing Commander W J Allington D.F.C., A.F.C. assumed command of the Squadron.

51        April saw a further change in the Squadron’s role. We moved again, this time to Predannock (pronounced Pradnock), and were to assume responsibility for day and night patrols over the Bay of Biscay. Air Commodore Basil Embry flew with the Squadron on five occasions this month, and on 17th, we were honoured by a visit from Her Majesty Queen Mary, the Queen Mother.

52        During May, the Squadron was ordered to carry out Day and Night Rangers again. On the first day Ranger, two of our aircraft were attacked by F.W.190’s but fought them off without damage. This was the first experience we had had with these new fighters. 52 Day and 16
Night Rangers were carried out, resulting in claims of 14 locomotives damaged. Seven air defence night patrols were flown, but no enemy aircraft were seen.

53        The Squadron’s role was changed again on the 1st  June, to day fighters carrying out “Instop Patrols”. These were coastal patrols off France. As a favour, owing to our A.I. we were permitted to carry out a few of these patrols by night.

54        On the 14th June, four of our aircraft were attacked by six F.W.190’s. In the ensuing mix-up, one F.W.190 was damaged, no damage was sustained by our aircraft. On the 19th one Ju.88 was destroyed and another probably destroyed.

55        On the 20th June, an Instop patrol by night of four aircraft, led by Wing Commander Allington shot down a B.V. 138 on the way to patrol off Biscarosse. Later on this patrol, several aircraft were seen on a lake. Four B.V.138’s were set on fire and destroyed and one B.V.222 was damaged by fire. Strong accurate flak was experienced and one of our aircraft was hit but not seriously damaged. As the section left the area a large explosion was seen. This, it was later learnt, destroyed two A.V.128’s. the section then proceeded to Ushant via Isle do Soin. Four motor mine sweepers were attacked, three being sunk and one damaged- altogether a most satisfactory patrol.

56        On the 25th June, the Squadron escorted His Majesty, flying in a York back from North Africa.
Unfortunately, His Majesty took off an hour late, and meeting another York at the rendezvous at the correct time, the Squadron escorted it safely home. His Majesty arrived one hour later un-escorted!

57        July was a most confusing month. On the 4th  the Squadron role was changed to purely defence. This was changed on the 13th to exclusive Instop operations, the Squadron to be re- equipped in part with Mosquito Mk.VI. These aircraft arrived on the 14th, and half the Mk.II’s were ferried away. On the 15th, the Mk.11 arrived back again and the Mk.VI’s were sent back to the other Squadrons. The policy now was to carry out one Instop per day and to resume
night defence and Day Rangers. On the 19th  July the role was once more changed. Night defence was no longer our pigeon, Instops were to be increased to eight per day, and six Mk.11’s were exchanged with six Mk.VI’s from 151 Squadron.

58        On the 25th July, four aircraft on an Instop patrol, turned to investigate some explosions at sea.
They found a Wellington jettisoning its bombs. The Squadron later learnt that four Ju.88’s had attacked the Wellington and the tailgunner had fired 3,000 rounds of .303 at them and driven them off. Our aircraft were immediately examined but no damage was found. Despite the frequent policy changes this month, 149 Instop patrols were flown.

59        On the 8th  August the Squadron moved to Fairwood Common. AI Mk.IV was fitted to all aircraft, and Night Intruder patrols called “Flower” operations began on enemy Bomber and night fighter bases. On the 27th August, Sergeant W Kent dropped the first Squadron bombs on enemy territory at Laion and Jukincourt.  “Distil” (anti-shipping) patrols were also carried
out, one enemy armed trawler was sunk and one damaged.

60        The Squadron was now exclusively Night defence and “Flower”. On the 1st September the first enemy jamming of Gee was experienced. The aircraft operating on “Flower” used Middle Wallop, Castle Camps and Ford as advanced bases. Many airfields, railway bridges and power stations were attacked.

61        During October bad weather over France restricted operations, only two aircraft being able to reach their targets. There were seven “bullseyes” this month on Bomber Command aircraft returning from Germany, and results were improving considerably.

62        The bad weather continued throughout November and December. On the 17th November the
Squadron moved to Coleby Grange only four operations were carried out in November.

63        By this time the Squadron aircraft were getting old and tired and on the 17th  December, we moved again! – to Church Fenton to re-equip with Mosquito XIII’s fitted with AI Mk.VIII. There were no operations during this month.

1944

64        January and February saw the Squadron re-equipping and training. Beaufighters fitted with A.I. Mk.VIII were attached for training the navigators. By the 11th March the Squadron was fully trained and assumed again the role of Night Defence. 4 Aircraft were detached to West Malling for this purpose. On the 14th March Lucero jet was fitted to a Squadron aircraft. On the
19th  there was a small raid on a Lincolnshire coast, and the Squadron claimed 1 Do. 247 destroyed.

65        It  was  not  the  lot  of  the  Squadron to  have a  static  policy,  and  in  March  we  assumed responsibility for “Blackmail” patrols. These patrols consisted of carrying a Dutch Wireless Operator over Holland to contact the Dutch Underground. During March, 95 air defence sorties were carried out and also 15 “Blackmail” patrols,

66        Enemy operations during April were hampered by bad weather. On the 20th, one He.111 which was dropping `Window’ was shot down, but that was our only success this month. On the 22nd April Wig Commander E S Smith assumed command of the Squadron. 59 Night fighter defence sorties and 5 `Blackmail’ patrols were flown.

67        May brought yet another move to the Squadron. On the 6th we went to Hartford Bridge. 147
Night defence sorties were flown, two enemy aircraft, a Ju.188 (?) and a Me. 410 were destroyed and 4 `Blackmail’ sorties were flown.

68        On the 6th June 1944, the tide of war turned, Operation Overlord commenced. 6th June was D Day for the greatest Amphibian Operation in the World’s history,- the landing of Allied Forces on the continent. The Squadron in a Night role sent 6 aircraft to an airborne pool off Cherboug. These six aircraft were constantly relieved so that continuous cover over the beaches could be
maintained. There was however, no enemy activity over the beaches at night until the 10th of June when one Ju.88 and 1 F.W.190 were destroyed. The Squadron maintained cover over the beachhead from dusk to dawn from D-Day to D day+37. During this period 22 enemy
aircraft were destroyed at night, four probably destroyed and three damaged.
69        On the 14th  of July the Squadron was visited by His Majesty who held an investiture for
Squadron personnel who were recipients of recent awards.

70        No 264 Squadron now led the field in kills at night. The enemy were now launching V1’s in ever increasing numbers to do the maximum amounts of damage before the launching sites were over-run by the Allied forces; and the Squadron was withdrawn from the beaches and put on to “Anti-Diver” patrols.

71        From the 14th to the 23rd of July, when they returned to the Beach Head patrols, the Squadron flew 97 “Anti-Diver” patrols and destroyed 19 V1 `Buzz’ bombs.

72        On the 26th of July the Squadron moved to Hunsdon. The night air over the beaches was full of aircraft, – mostly friendlies, and on the night of the 29th July, seventeen interceptions were made, only one of which was an enemy aircraft, this was destroyed.

73        Successes continued in August, seven enemy aircraft being shot down before the 11th, when the Squadron moved to A.L.G. in France. One of our aircraft was shot down on the 11th August by United States anti-aircraft guns. (Later called friendly fire!!). Very low cloud over France for the rest of the month prevented any further operations.

74        The success of Bomber Command’s strategic bombing and the daylight offensive of American heavy and tactical was now being felt in the Night Fighter world. On the 3rd  September the Squadron moved to B6  (Calomes) and on the 4th to B17 (Caen) and although patrols were
flown as far as Brussels no enemy aircraft were seen. There was practically no enemy air activity by day or night, and it was found possible on the 25th to withdraw the Squadron from France for leave in England.

75        On the 16th October the Squadron returned from leave and took up residence in Predannock again. Mk.V111 A.I. was on its way out and being replaced by A.I. X. there were no operations during October and November.

76        On the 30th November the Squadron moved again to Colerne. The Navigators were busy with the A.I. Mk. X ground trainees, and bad weather kept all the aircraft on the ground. On the 22nd December the Squadron moved to Odiham still with the old aircraft, to carry out patrols in the Solent Estuary. 12 of the patrols were flown during the rest of the month, but they were uneventful.

77        During a small quiet New Years Eve Party, news was received of the impending move back to the Continent, to Amiens. Thus ended a most successful and eventful year for the Squadron.

1945

78        For the first days of January, patrols of the Scholdt Estuary continued uneventfully, and on the
9th January the Squadron returned to the Continent, not to Amiens, but to B51 (Lille). Still with the old aircraft and A.I. patrols started over the Rhine Area. Severe snow, fog and frost limited
flying.

79        The bad weather continued for the first fortnight of February then at last came a thaw. 64 sorties were flown over the Rhine, but there were no Huns about. Thick cloud and heavy icing limited flying for the first three weeks in March, but the weather was fine when the big Allied push across the Rhine started on the 23rd. Large-scale night patrol activity was provided to cover this advance, but the Germans would not fly. On the 25th  two Ju. 88’s were attacked behind the German lines, one was destroyed and the other, probably destroyed. On the 30th, one F.W.190 by a Mosquito on N.F.T. During the 10 days flying this month, 186 patrols were flown over the front line.
80        The push of the Allied ground forces had gone ahead so fast, that the Squadron had little to do, due to the distance of the front line from Base. During April, 202 patrols were flown, mostly after the 20th, when patrols were started over areas 450 miles from Base. On the 20th  one Ju.88 was destroyed over Berlin at low level. On the 21st, two Ju.290’s were destroyed over Berlin, and one Ju.88 probably destroyed. The Squadron also claimed one aircraft in the Berlin area on the 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th.

81        A new boundary between the Allied and Russian forces curtailed operations as no aircraft were allowed to cross the Elbe. On the 26th     the Squadron moved to Gilse/Rijen. The squadron kills now totalled 146.

82        On the 1st May, visuals were obtained on a Fiesler Storch and a Me.108, but owing to their low speed our fighters overshot. On the 4th  May news was received at 21.00hrs of the German capitulation. A salute of 5 verey cartridges from 12 pistols was fired to mark each complete year of war. The squadron then adjourned to the Mess for a small party.

83        On the 7th  May, one year to the day, and in 10 moves since Church Fenton, the Squadron reached Germany, with a move to Rheine. The Squadron then helped with the evacuation of ex Prisoners of War. One of these PoW’s Flight Lieutenant Greenhouse, an old ex-Squadron member, added two Me.109’s to the Squadron’s score on the trip that he was shot down on
the 13th May 1940.

84        On the 16th May, the Squadron moved back to Gilse/Rijen and there was no more flying for the rest of the month, except for a few prestige formation flights.

85        Life on the Squadron was like a clock that was running down. On the 7th June the Squadron moved to Twens and various rumours of the future of the Squadron was spread around. On the 25th Wing Commander E G Barwell D.F.C. assumed command.

86        The main Squadron’s occupation was now cricket and many games were played against the Army and  other  Squadrons. On  the  17th   July news  was  received of  our  impending re- equipment with Mosquito Mk.XXX and A.I.X. This good news was followed by a black day on the 31st when official news came through of our disbandment.

87        The life of the squadron drew to a close, and the aircrew and groundcrews who had helped to make this Squadron the top scoring Night Fighter Squadron of the war, were posted away.

88        On the 25th August 1945 the Squadron was disbanded. The last entry in the Form 540 reads: “So ends the life of No. 264 squadron, formed on 30th October 1939, having made a score in German aircraft of 148 destroyed, 13 probably destroyed and over 40 damaged. Campaigns supported were, the Low Countries, Dunkirk Evacuation, Battle of Britain, Battle for London, Bay of Biscay, Normandy Beach Head and North west Europe”

“WE DEFY”

89        On the 20th November 1945, No.264 Squadron re-formed with the personnel and equipment from No.125 (Newfoundland) Squadron. The Squadron we equipped with Mosquito XXX with A.I.X and was commanded by Wing Commander V R Snell and based at Church Fenton. Normal flying training continued for the remainder of the year, and four aircraft were detached to Luebeck.
1946

90        In January of this year, Squadron Leader R D Doleman DSO, DFC., assumed command of the Squadron. February saw  the  first  detachment to  A.P.S.  at  Spilsby where  the  Squadron performed well and returned to Church Fenton on the 9th. Detachment of four aircraft at a time to Luebeck were resumed in March, when the first Mosquito XXXV1’s were delivered to the Squadron.

91        During April 1946 weather limited flying, more Mosquito Mk. XXXV1’s arrived and the XXX’s were flown away. By the 1st  May the Squadron was completely re-equipped and training continued. There were three Bullseyes” during May and the Squadron achieved fair success. During June there was not much flying due to a shortage of manpower.

92        On the 1st  July, Squadron Leader A J A Roberts DFC assumed command of the Squadron and on the 22nd, the Squadron moved to Linton on Ouse. There were three “Bullseyes” this month, but the Squadron achieved very few kills.

93        In August a further four aircraft were detached to Luebeck. On the 26th  September, the Squadron was reduced to a cadre basis, leaving only 8 aircraft. On the 15th October Bomber Command staged their biggest Bullseyes since the war. The Squadron flew five aircraft and claimed 28 kills. During October continual cross-countries were carried out at night.

94        1946 ended very quietly with very little flying. During November the weather was bad for most of the month and serviceability was poor. In December the first peacetime low level PI’s showed that the altitude line would have to be removed and after various experiments the noses were sprayed with aluminium, this cured the trouble and low level practices continued.

1947

95        January, February and March of this year were remarkable for bad weather. Snow fell almost continuously for three months and very little flying took place. A thaw occurred in April, and before the Squadron moved to Wittering on the 21st a little air to air firing was carried out. On the 28th April the Squadron detached to Acklington for A.P.S.

96        The Squadron returned to Wittering at the end of May, and the final A.P.S. results were: Air/Ground 54.3%, Air/Air 3.1%

97        In June the Squadron’s flying task was raised to 100 hours per month. Another Luebeck detachment occurred this month. These detachments were popular with all the crews who went on them.

98        Three Bullseyes in July resulted in moderate success, and the A.1. Serviceability for this month was remarkably good. In August meteorological flights were made, a responsibility of the Squadron. One aircraft every other day did a climb to 30,000 feet and a short cross- country to bring back what Met information it could.

99        The Squadron took part in the Battle of Britain fly-past this year, and practices for this took up most of  the allotted flying hours for September. On 20th   September, three  aircraft were detached to Malta to exercise the G.C.I. there at night.

100      Another detachment of three aircraft to Malta occurred in October and the whole Squadron spent a day on liaison visit to Longtoft G.C.I.

101      The servicing and manpower problems was now becoming acute and it was sometimes difficult to find a serviceable aircraft for the Met flight commitment. During November and December the position did not alter, and a detachment to Malta had to be cancelled because of the lack of serviceable aircraft.
1948

102      During January there were two Bullseyes in which the Squadron was most unsuccessful. A.I. serviceability was very bad due to a lack of spare, the average range this month was 1.5 miles. At the end of the month, the Squadron moved to Coltishall and Squadron Leader W Stewart assumed Command.

103      Squadron training and Met. flights continued, and in March the commitment was raised to 160 hours. In April the whole squadron moved to Luebeck for 14 days. Serviceability improved, as did A.I. serviceability. A maintenance Unit discovered a hanger full of A.I.X spares which had been forgotten.

104      In May, V.H.F. V.R.B. trials were undertaken by the Squadron, these were continued in June.
During July the Squadron achieved a measure of success in two exercises at night, due to improvements in A.I. serviceability.

105      During August the first trials with a B29 were carried out at 30,000 feet. The average rate of climb to that height was 21 minutes, but when the B29 was cruising fast, it took some time for the Mosquito to catch it up.

106      Exercise “Dagger” took place in September and the Squadron claimed 23 kills in 21 sorties. “Dagger” was the first big exercise to test the air defences of the Country. The Squadron also took part in the Battle of Britain fly past this month, and sent two aircraft to Turnhouse to take part in an air display there on Battle of Britain Day.

107      Towards the end of October the squadron went to Acklington for A.Ps. and returned in the middle of November. The scores were Air/Ground 20.2%, Air/Air 3.4%. Bad weather limited flying for the rest of the month.

108      The Squadron took part in Broadcast Control trials in December. This was a new technique of controlling Fighters in mass raid conditions.

109      Bad  weather  and  poor  serviceability limited  flying  during  January  and  February.  During January only two aircraft were serviceable for a Bullseye, therefore they were not limited to three kills as normal. 13 kills were claimed by those two under Broadcast Control. One aircraft went to Malta in January and one in February.

110      Only three aircraft were serviceable during March and April, one of which went to Malta. With A.P.S. looming ahead, the prospects did not look bright. In May the serviceability was even worse, the average for the month being 1.9%. Very little flying was carried out to try and improve the state.

111      In June the Squadron went to A.P.S. the result being: Air/Ground 19.8%, Air/Air 5.6%, Air/Air (Night) 11.8%. This was the first time the Squadron had fired Air/Air at night and the results were somewhat startling.

112      At the end of June and the beginning of July exercise “FOIL” took place. This was the second of the big annual Air Defence Exercises. The Squadron claimed 49 kills during the exercise. During the latter part of July, four aircraft were detached to Wahn for a week, leaving the Squadron without a single serviceable aircraft.

113      During August, a further series of Broadcast Control trials were carried out, using a modified system adapted as a result of lessons learnt in “FOIL”. Later this month all Mosquitos were grounded with undercarriage trouble.

114      The Squadron took part in the annual Battle of Britain fly-past in September, and then went to
Tangmere for exercise “Bulldog” in which 19 kills were claimed.

115      In October two aircraft were detached to Fayid for a Middle East Air Force exercise “Gestic”.
All remaining aircraft at Coltishall were pooled into one Squadron due to poor serviceability
under the command of Squadron Leader Stewart. Crews of three Squadrons took it in turns to fly the aircraft.
116      In November the Squadron moved to Church Fenton as the runways at Coltishall was being extended preparing for re-equipment with Meteor Night Fighters and in December, 3 aircraft were detached to Malta. There was very little other flying.

1950

117      In January, Squadron Leader W E Thomas assumed control of the Squadron, and the bad weather enabled the Squadron to prepare for A.P. S.

118      In February the Squadron went to Acklinton for A.P.S. the scores were: Air/Air day 9.8%, Air/Air Night 7.1%. We won the the Wing Servicing trophy with an average serviceability of
99.526%. After the months of frustration due to poor serviceability, this was a tonic indeed.

119      Rosebud trials were carried out in March, these were trials based on a method of Night Air/Air identification. One aircraft was also detached to Malta. Met flights and Rosebud continued in April, and eight aircraft were detached to Tangmere for exercise “Stardust”. Twelve sorties were flown in this exercise, resulting in 11 kills.

120      Normal training continued throughout May and June. In July the Squadron took part in the Royal Air Force Pageant at Farnborough, playing the part of a Bomber Force attacking the airfield. Due to poor serviceability, flying was limited to rehearsals for the pageant and the pageant itself.

121      During August the Squadron undertook a “fabulous” commitment. The Squadron increased to
12 U.E. aircraft, and there was much work preparing for “Emperor”. Very little flying took place during September to conserve the aircraft for “Emperor”.

122      For exercise “Emperor” in October, the Squadron moved to its exercise base at Driffield. Eight aircraft were available throughout the exercise. 48 Night sorties were flown and 54 kills were claimed. This was the highest score of any Night Fighter Squadron during the exercise. After the exercise the Squadron moved back to Coltishall after an absence of 11 months as the runway was now completed.

123      In November, 4 aircraft were inhibited due to low manning levels on the Squadron. One aircraft was detached to Malta and one aircraft to Leuchers for special radar trials under the direction of Sir Robert Robson-Watt.

124      Met. Flights and the necessary preparation for them, hampered Squadron training during December. With 4 aircraft inhibited 2 A.O.G. and one on Met. Flights coupled with poor serviceability and low manpower, very little flying could be carried out.

1951

125      1951 had a poor start with poor weather and serviceability in January. All the aircraft left on the Squadron were very old and petty unserviceablity, seriously limited flying during the first three months of the year. In February two Meteor Mk. 7’s and one Meteor Mk.4 arrived on the Station and duals and a few solos added spice to the Squadron life.

126      There were two Bullseyes in March in which the Squadron had moderate success. These aircraft were detached to Malta in April, and during April and May what flying there was, was mainly low level PI’s. Normal training continued through June and July, and in August the Squadron moved to Linton on Ouse as its permanent base.

127      Exercise “Pinnacle” took place at the end of September, and for the first phase, the Squadron was utilised as part of the Bomber Force. The second and third phases yielded 16 kills. Bad weather and the Vale of York fog limited flying during October and November.

128      Squadron Leader J Lomas DFC, AFC., assumed command of the Squadron in November, and the first of the new Meteor Mk.11 Night Fighters arrived. The re-equipment with the new fighters was completed in December, but conversions were hampered by the short runways at Linton.

1952

129      Conversion to Meteors continued during January on the short runways at Linton, and in February the Squadron moved to Leuchers while one of the Linton runways was being lengthened and ORP’s and ASP’s were being built. Training progressed well at Leuchers and, thanks to the good weather factor, the whole Squadron with the exception of the new arrivals, were operational by the end of March.

130      In April the Squadron split to a two Flight basis. There were 12 Meteor Mk.11’s, one Meteor Mk.4, one Meteor Mk.8 and one Meteor Mk.7 on the Squadron. The first Air/Air firing was carried out in May, and considerable trouble was experienced with the guns and BF1’s which were of a new type. The first Bullseye since re-equipment occurred in May, and with only 5 aircraft, 13 kills were claimed.

131      In June, 8 aircraft were detached to Wahn for 2nd T.A.F. exercise “June Primer”. This was a most successful detachment, a large number of kills were obtained both on Air Defence and Intruder sorties. The new crews were left behind at Leuchers to continue training. While the main part of the Squadron was away, the one remaining operational crew was brought to readiness for anti-mine laying duties in exercise “Mariner”. This crew found a submarine at night, which was reported by the Navigator as being “12 o’ clock 5”

132      During July there was frantic preparation for APS. Many air firing sorties were carried out, but the results, both in scores and fun (?) efficiency was poor.

133      In August the Squadron moved to Acklington for APS. Squadron stores and all servicing equipment went straight to Linton, as we were returning there after APS. For the work on the airfield was now finished. After a mediocre start the scores started to mount and the final result was 6.3%. We later learnt that this was the highest score of any All Weather Fighter squadron this year. At the end of this detachment, the Squadron once again took up residence at Linton on Ouse.

134     In September, four aircraft were equipped with “Lunch” to home on to R/T jamming transmissions. Trials were carried out with Canberras with “Orange Putter” – a tail warning radar. We never really found out what the Canberras learned from this trial, they were most secretive about it.

135      One day in September a B26 Invader of the USAF landed at Linton. This was a result of a Bar conference at Wahn during “June Primer”, when a vague invitation was given to an American B26 Squadron, “Come over and see us sometime”. These B26’s were from a Night Intruder Wing at Laon in France. A low level night exercise was arranged on a Squadron to Squadron basis. This exercise was most enjoyable, and another was arranged for later in the year.

136      October, and “Ardent”, the first big exercise since we were re-equipped. Every night we started with 100% serviceability and did not drop below 9 serviceable aircraft at any one time. A mixed bag of kills, including a fair number of Canberras, totalling 66, the highest of any All-Weather Squadron. The CO visited Laon and arranged another low level anti-intruder exercise for this month.

137      In November there was a Command weekend exercise. During the Day phases of this, the Squadron claimed more kills than the two Day Squadrons on the Station claimed together. The total claim for this exercise was 42 kills. Four aircraft went to Coltishall for a “Lightning” anti- E Boat exercise at night.

138      The AOC 12 Group inspected the station in December, and expressed his satisfaction at the high state of training and general efficiency of the Squadron.

1953

139      In January 1953, Major C S Borgesen and Lieutenant Hoy-Hansen of the Royal Dutch Air Force were attached to the Squadron for two months. These officers were to be the first Commanding Officer and Nav/Rad Leader of the first Danish Night fighter Squadron, No 724. During January and February serviceability continued to be good in spite of the lack of manpower that was becoming serious.

140      In March two aircraft were detached for two nights to Leuchers for barrage jamming trials.
The results of these trials were inconclusive due to the unserviceablity of Caledonian Sectors high-powered transmitter and erratic functioning of “Lunch” equipment. Trials were also carried out on the feasibility of fixing Night fighters by using a “Flange”, and the possibility of doing Flange interceptions on radar jamming aircraft. These trials were reasonably successful, but the system could not be made to work efficiently, unless more Flange Stations were in operation.

141      2nd TAF staged a large exercise in March named “Jungle King”. Due to the lack of success of
2nd TAF fighters against Canberras. On the night the Canberras extended their flights to bomb a target in the UK. Eleven sorties were flown and 10 Camberras and 6 Lincolns were claimed
as kills. During March the gun stoppages rate was reduced to 1:1300, the Squadron was the first of the All Weather Squadrons to reach the Command target of 1:1200.

142      There were two Command exercises in April in which the Squadron was very successful. The
Air Firing effort was intensified for the detachment to APS in May.

143      The Squadron moved to Acklington in May for APS being there at the same time as No 141
Squadron, promoted a certain amount of rivalry, and at the end of the detachment, we were able to stick “L”’s on all their aircraft. The results were: Air/Air 7.3%, Air/Air mixed 8.5%, Ingpen 7.0%. This result was the highest of all All Weather Squadrons so far, only No151
Squadron remaining to shoot.

144      In March, an old member in 1943, Wing Commander W E Gibb achieved the World’s height record, in an Olympus powered Canberra of 63,688 feet.

145      In June the Commanding Officer, Squadron leader J Lomas DFC, AFC,, and his Navigator Flt.
Lieutenant B N Hanratty were killed when their aircraft struck a hill in cloud during a `Rats’ Exercise.

146      In July the main part of the Squadron was detached to West Malling for the Coronation Review flypast before Her Majesty at Odiham. Squadron Leader H M Tudor DFC assumed command in time to lead the Squadron in the flypast.

147      One week after the flypast, the Squadron detached 9 aircraft and crews to Wahn for 2nd TAF exercise “Coronet”. Very nearly 100% serviceability was maintained throughout the exercise. The  Ground Crews  and  Aircrew worked hard and  long  hours in  the  most concentrated exercise  since  re-equipment. The  Squadron  role  was  primarily Night  defence  but  some intruder flights were carried out, and there were many tussles by day with “enemy” Rats.

148      Unfortunately, this is as far as the History goes, although I know we were re-equipped with Meteor Mk.14 Night Fighters around October 1955, If anyone can supply information from the last date, I’d love to hear from you.

Further 264 History documents

264 Squadron History

264 Squadron History No 3

Photo Archive