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No. 608 Squadron RAF

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Title: No. 608 Squadron RAF  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Lockheed Hudson, Pathfinder (RAF), Operation Husky order of battle, RP-3, Adrian Warburton, List of Bristol Blenheim operators, German submarine U-98 (1940), RAF Sumburgh, Don Finlay, Westland Wapiti
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

No. 608 Squadron RAF

No. 608 (North Riding) Squadron RAF
Active 17 March 1930 – 31 July 1944
1 August 1944 – 24 August 1945
10 May 1946 – 10 March 1957
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
Part of Royal Auxiliary Air Force
Nickname "Thornaby's own"
Motto Latin: Omnibus ungulis
(Translation: "With all talons")[1]
Battle honours Channel & North Sea, 1939
Baltic, 1941–42
Mediterranean, 1942–43
Sicily, 1943
Anzio & Nettuno
France & Germany, 1944–45
German Ports, 1944–45
These seven honours are all emblazoned on the squadron standard
Honorary Air Commodore Viscount Swinton (1934–1957)
Donald "Don" Osborne Finlay
Squadron Badge heraldry A falcon's leg, erased, belled and fessed[1]
The falcon's leg indicates the squadron's readiness to go into the air at any time and attack tooth and nail[2]
Squadron Codes PG (Oct 1938 – Sep 1939)[3]
UL (Sep 1939 – 1942)[4]
6T (1944 – 1945,1949 – Apr 1951)[5]
RAO (May 1946 – 1949)[6]

No. 608 (North Riding) Squadron was an Auxiliary Air Force squadron of the Royal Air Force during World War II. It flew during its existence as a bomber, fighter and reconnaissance unit and was the only RAF squadron to be equipped with the unsuccessful Blackburn Botha torpedo bomber.


Formation and early years: Wapitis and Demons

No. 608 Squadron was formed at Thornaby-on-Tees, North Yorkshire as No. 608 County of York (North Riding) Squadron, on 17 March 1930 as a day bomber squadron within the Auxiliary Air Force. Its initial equipment was the Avro 504 N and Westland Wapiti, which the squadron flew until they were replaced with Hawker Demon fighters in January 1937, when the squadrons role was changed to that of a fighter squadron. In May 1937 the name of the squadron was changed to No. 608 (North Riding) Squadron.[1] Shortly before the second world war broke out, on 20 March 1939, the squadrons role was changed yet again, now into that of a general reconnaissance unit flying under RAF Coastal Command and they were re-equipped for that role with Avro Ansons.

World War II

Reconnaissance with Ansons, Bothas, Blenheims and Hudsons

So the squadron started its role in World War II flying the Anson and in June 1940 began to re-equip with the Blackburn Botha torpedo bomber. These were found to be unsatisfactory however and by December 1940 the squadron only had its old Ansons on strength. These soldiered on till February 1941, when Bristol Blenheim Mk.IVs arrived, soon to be replaced with Lockheed Hudsons, which the squadron flew from bases in Scotland, North Africa and Italy until 31 July 1944, when it was disbanded for the first time at Pomigliano, Italy.[7][8]

Pathfinding with Mosquitos

The squadron was reformed on 1 August 1944 at RAF Downham Market, Norfolk as a Mosquito squadron in No 8 (Pathfinder) Groups Light Night Striking Force. It continued to fly in this role, carrying out night attacks on Germany, until disbanding on 28 August 1945 at Downham Market.[7][8]

Post-war reformation: Mosquitos, Spitfires and Vampires

No. 608 squadron was reformed on 10 May 1946 at Thornaby in its original role as a light bomber squadron in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. It had however no operational aircraft before being redesignated as a night fighter unit in July 1947, when it received Mosquito NF.30s. These were flown until the squadron changed role yet again, this time to that of a day fighter squadron, receiving Spitfire F.22s in May 1948. From December 1949 these were gradually replaced with de Havilland Vampires, which the squadron flew until, along with all the flying units of the RAuxAF, it was disbanded on 10 March 1957.[7][8]

Aircraft operated

Aircraft operated by no. 608 Squadron RAF, data from[2][7][8][9][10]
From To Aircraft Version
June 1930 January 1937 Westland Wapiti Mk.IIa
January 1937 March 1939 Hawker Demon
March 1939 April 1941 Avro Anson Mk.I
June 1940 December 1940 Blackburn Botha Mk.I
February 1941 August 1941 Bristol Blenheim Mk.I
March 1941 July 1941 Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV
July 1941 July 1944 Lockheed Hudson Mk.V
March 1943 July 1944 Lockheed Hudson Mk.VI
June 1943 July 1944 Lockheed Hudson Mk.IIIa
August 1944 April 1945 de Havilland Mosquito Mk.XX
October 1944 April 1945 de Havilland Mosquito Mk.XXV
March 1945 August 1945 de Havilland Mosquito Mk.XVI
July 1947 January 1949 de Havilland Mosquito NF.30
May 1948 January 1951 Supermarine Spitfire F.22
December 1949 July 1953 de Havilland Vampire F.3
May 1951 June 1951 de Havilland Vampire F.1
April 1952 March 1957 de Havilland Vampire FB.5
April 1956 February 1957 de Havilland Vampire FB.9

Squadron bases

Bases and airfields used by no. 608 Squadron RAF, data from[2][7][8][9][11]
From To Base
17 March 1930 14 January 1942 RAF Thornaby, North Yorkshire (Det. at RAF Bircham Newton, Dyce)
14 January 1942 5 August 1942 RAF Wick, Caithness, Scotland
5 August 1942 27 August 1942 RAF Sumburgh, Shetland, Scotland
27 August 1942 14 September 1942 RAF Gosport, Hampshire
14 September 1942 29 October 1942 RAF North Coates, Lincolnshire
29 October 1942 9 November 1942 en route to North Africa
9 November 1942 14 November 1942 RAF Gibraltar
14 November 1942 6 August 1943 RAF Blida, Algeria
6 August 1943 4 September 1943 Protville Airfield, Tunisia
4 September 1943 23 October 1943 Borizzo Airfield, Sicily (Det. at Grottaglie)
23 October 1943 23 June 1943? Montecorvino Airfield, Italy
23 June 1943? 31 July 1944 Pomigliano, Italy
1 August 1944 28 August 1945 RAF Downham Market, Norfolk
10 May 1946 16 June 1951 RAF Thornaby, North Yorkshire
16 June 1951 12 July 1951 RAF Leuchars, Fife, Scotland
12 July 1951 10 March 1957 RAF Thornaby, North Yorkshire

Commanding officers

Officers commanding no. 608 squadron RAF, data from[9][12][13]
From To Name
March 1930 1932 S/Ldr. W. Howard-Davies
1932 December 1934 S/Ldr. I.W.H. Thomson
December 1934 December 1938 S/Ldr. G.H. Ambler
December 1938 May 1941 W/Cdr. G. Shaw, DFC
May 1941 November 1941 W/Cdr. R.S. Derbyshire
November 1941 February 1943 W/Cdr. P.D.R. Hutchings, AFC
February 1943 December 1943 W/Cdr. C.M.M. Grece, DFC
December 1943 July 1944 W/Cdr. D.O. Finlay, DFC
August 1944 November 1944 W/Cdr. W.W.G. Scott
November 1944 April 1945 W/Cdr. R.C. Alabaster, DSO, DFC
April 1945 August 1945 W/Cdr. K. Gray
July 1946 1950 S/Ldr. W.A. Brown, DFC
1950 1952 S/Ldr. F.A. Robinson
1952 1955 S/Ldr. G.A. Martin, DFC, AFC
1955 March 1957 S/Ldr. H.D. Costain




  • Bowyer, Chaz. Mosquito Squadrons of the Royal Air Force. Shepperton, Surrey, UK: Ian Allan Ltd., 1984. ISBN 0-7110-1425-6.
  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Flintham, Vic and Andrew Thomas. Combat Codes: A full explanation and listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied air force unit codes since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE, BA, RAF(Retd.). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 2nd edition 1976. ISBN 0-354-01027-1.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald & Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1969 (2nd edition 1976, reprinted 1978). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.
  • Wilkinson, Louise. The Kipper Patrol: The History of 608 (NR) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force and Thornaby Aerodrome, 1930–1957. Dartford, Kent, UK: Pneuma Springs Publishing, 2009. ISBN 1-905809-45-X.

External links

  • Squadron history on MOD site
  • Squadron histories for nos. 605–610 sqn of RafWeb's Air of Authority
  • BBC WW2 People's War-608 sqn 1
  • BBC WW2 People's War-608 sqn 2
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