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Coastal Command 1939 - 1941

Coastal Command 1939 - 1941
Author: David Duxbury (Guest)
Time Stamp:
00:04:35 Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Post:
Well, here are the fruits of about 3 hours of hard labour this morning; probably a little TOO detailed for speed, but fascinating to compile these lists in this way.

COASTAL COMMAND ORGANISATION & STRENGTHS, 1939-1941.

These notes are based on the Royal Air Force Narratives "The RAF in the Maritime War", selected volumes. They are not intended to give all details of the squadrons administered by the Command available in these volumes, but to provide the general sizes of these units together with actual strengths where the latter are available. As with the earlier Bomber Command document, I have organised this data under the normal Group structure. Please note that, unlike squadrons of other Commands, it was almost normal practice for Coastal Command squadrons to be dispersed on a semi-permanent basis, with detached Flights being very common. However this practice seems to have died out to a great extent by the middle years of the war. I have attempted to get around this problem by a certain amount of simplification, so anybody wishing to know more should consult the information to be found on this site, or other reliable sources. Overseas deployments by detached flights were also very common under Coastal Command, and this has also provided me with some complications. These tended to involve mainly the longer range flying boats, and later also Wellington units. Please note that Photographic Reconnaissance units came under Coastal Command from very early in the war, and part or all of this "Force" could be listed under the Operational Groups, or outside them, so may appear after the numbered Groups in the relevant tables.

I have provided all operating bases for each type, but where the number of stations exceed the number of squadrons involved, it can be taken that there are detached flights about! However if the number of Squadrons exceed the number of Stations, it may be taken that these stations are lodging more than one Squadron.

On a purely arbitrary basis, I have decided to list the types of Squadrons within each Group in the following order: Coastal Strike (including torpedo), Fighter, General reconnaissance (land-based), Long Range Maritime/Anti-sub, Flying Boat, Miscellaneous, PR. I have included FAA and US Navy units under these same broad headings, with Swordfish following other Coastal Strike aircraft, for instance.

Organisation & Strengths, Coastal Command 10th September, 1939.

10 Group

2 Sqdns Ansons (UE 18+6); 217, 502, .A T. Warmwell, Aldergrove, Carew Cheriton.

3 Sqdns Sunderlands (UE 6+2); 204, 210, 228, .A T. Mount Batten, Pembroke Dock.

16 Group

2 Sqdns Vildebeest (UE 12+4); 22, 42, .A T. Thorney Island, Bircham Newton.

3 Sqdns Ansons (UE 18+6); 48, 206, 500, .A T. Detling, Guernsey, Bircham Newton, Thorney Island.

18 Group

5 Sqdns Ansons (UE 18+6); 220, 233, 269, 608, 612, .A T. Thornaby, Leuchars, Montrose, Dyce.

1 Sqdn Hudsons (UE 18+6); 224, .A T. Leuchars.

2 Sqdns Londons (UE 6+2); 201, 240, .A T. Sullom Voe, Invergordon.

1 Sqdn Stranraers (UE 6+2); 209, .A T. Invergordon.

Organisation & Strengths, Coastal Command 1st November 1940. Note that for this date, no actual UEs or strengths of squadrons are explicitly stated, but there are consolidated tables for the whole command under general headings which tend to suggest that the UEs at least were similar as those stated for September 1939. However it will be noted that IR figures, particularly for the GR and Fighter squadrons, seem very low when compared to Bomber Command, almost insignificant. Please also note that the total UE of No.1 PRU was 15 aircraft, although again individual figures for types or sub-units are not available.

These combined totals are as follows:

22 GR & Fighter Sqdns, total IE 402, total IR 14, actual strength 464, average availability 187.

7 Flying Boat Sqdns, total IE 36, total IR 15, actual strength 58, average availability 14.

1%BD FAA Sqdns (812, %BD 700), total IE 12, actual strength 12, average availability 9.

15 Group (HQ Plymouth)

1 Anson/Beaufort Sqdn; 217 .A T. St Eval.

1 Blenheim Fighter Sqdn; 236 .A T. St Eval and Aldergrove.

2 Anson Sqdns; 48, 321 Dutch, .A T. Aldergrove, Hooton Park, Port Ellen, and Carew Cheriton.

1 Anson/Whitley Sqdn; 502 .A T. Aldergrove, Limavady.

%BD Hudson Sqdn; 224 .A T. Aldergrove (other half under 18 Group)

2%BD Sunderland Sqdns; 10 RAAF, 210, and (%BD) 201, .A T. Mount Batten, Oban. Other half of 201 under 18 Group.

1 Lerwick Sqdn; 209, .A T. Pembroke Dock, Stranraer.

1 Stranraer Sqdn, 240, .A T. Stranraer.

"B" Flight of PRU, Spitfire and Hudson, .A T. St Eval.

16 Group (HQ Chatham)

1 Beaufort Sqdn; 22 .A T. North Coats.

1 Swordfish Sqdn; 812 FAA, .A T. North Coates. UE 8?

1 Blenheim Fighter Sqdn; 235, .A T. Bircham Newton, Thorney Island.

2 Blenheim GR Sqdns; 53, 59, .A T. Detling, Thorney Island.

1 Anson Sqdn; 500, .A T. Bircham Newton, Detling.

%BD Hudson Sqdn; 206, .A T. Bircham Newton. (Where is other half? St Eval??).

18 Group (HQ Pitreavie Castle)

1 Beaufort Sqdn; 42, .A T. Wick.

2 Blenheim Fighter Sqdns; 248, 254, .A T. Sumburgh, Dyce.

1 Anson Sqdn; 612, .A T. Dyce, Stornaway.

1 Anson/Botha Sqdn; 608, .A T. Thornaby.

1 Battle Sqdn; 98, .A T. Kaldadarnes (Iceland).

3%BD Hudson Sqdns; 220, 233, 269, and %BD 224; .A T. Thornaby, Leuchars, Wick, Leuchars (rest of 224 under 15 Group).

1 Hudson Sqdn (non-op); 320 Dutch, .A T. Leuchars, still training.

1%BD Sunderland Sqdns; (%BD) 201, 204, .A T. Sullom Voe (other %BD 201 under 15 Group).

1 London Sqdn; 202, .A T. Gibraltar.

%BD Walrus Sqdn; 700 FAA, .A T. Sullom Voe.

"A" Flight of PRU; Spitfires and Hudsons, .A T. Wick.

Organisation .A T. Strengths, Coastal Command, 15th June 1941. As with previous table, Squadron UE and actual strengths not given, but consolidated figures for whole command are. Here is what they have to say.

26 GR & Fighter Sqdns, total IE 495, total IR 25, actual strength 518, average availability 281. Note that average serviceability is over 50%.

9 Flying Boat Sqdns, total IE 65, total IR 7, actual strength 64, average availability 17. Note, average serviceability is just over 25%, an inherent problem with aircraft subject to the vagaries of the sea, and the harsh salt-laden environment.

2 FAA Sqdns, total IE 18, actual strength 18, average availability 7. Also the 3 Meteorological Flights had a total UE of 5 IE, 3 IR, although total UE of the two PRU Flights not stated clearly.

Of the four squadrons in the process of formation, (120 Liberator, 404 Blenheim, 407 Hudson, 330 Northrop) the total IE was 61, total IR was 8, actual strength was 26.

15 Group (HQ Liverpool).

1 Sqdn Beaufighter; 143, .A T. Aldergrove.

1 Sqdn Blenheim Fighter; 254, .A T. Aldergrove.

⅔ Sqdn Ansons; 48, .A T. Hooton Park, Port Ellen (Islay). Other ⅓ under 18 Group.

2%BD Sqdns Hudsons; 224, 233; .A T. Limavady, Aldergrove; %BD of 269 in Iceland (rest under 18 Group).

1 Sqdn Whitleys; 502 .A T. Limavady.

1 Sqdn Wellingtons; 221 .A T. Limavady.

1 Sqdn Northrop seaplanes; 330 Norwegian, Sqdn forming in Iceland.

1 Sqdn Battle/Hurricane; 98, in Iceland.

1 Sqdn Liberator; 120, .A T. Nutts Corner (still forming).

1 Sqdn Sunderlands; 204, in Iceland.

3 Sqdns Catalinas; 209, 210, 240, .A T. Lough Erne, Oban, Lough Erne.

1 Sqdn Short C and G Class flying boats; 119, .A T. Bowmore (Islay).

16 Group (HQ Chatham).

2 Sqdns Beaufort; 22, 86, .A T. North Coates.

1 Sqdn Swordfish; 816 FAA, .A T. Detling, Thorney Island.

1 Sqdn Blenheim Fighter; 248, .A T. Bircham Newton.

2 Sqdns Blenheim Fighters (both RCAF, forming); 404 , 407, .A T. Thorney Island. Note that 407 also converting to Hudson!

1 Sqdn Blenheim GR; 59, .A T. Detling, Thorney Island.

1 Sqdn Anson/Blenheim GR; 500, .A T. Bircham Newton.

%BD Sqdn Hudsons; 206, .A T. Bircham Newton. Rest of unit under 19 Group.

1 Meteorological Flight, Blenheim GR; No.1403 Flight, .A T. Bircham Newton.

18 Group (HQ Pitreavie Castle).

1 Sqdn Beauforts; 42, .A T. Leuchars.

1 Sqdn Swordfish; 812 FAA, .A T. Hatston.

1 Sqdn Blenheim Fighters; 235, .A T. Dyce, Sumburgh.

⅓ Sqdn Ansons; 48, .A T. Stornaway (rest Sqdn under 15 Group).

2 Sqdns Blenheim GR; 114, 608, .A T. Leuchars, Thornaby. Note, 114 on loan from Bomber Command.

1%BD Sqdns Hudsons; 220, and %BD 269, .A T. Wick (other half 269 in Iceland, under 15 Group).

1 Sqdn Hudson/Anson; 320 Dutch, .A T. Leuchars.

1 Sqdn Whitleys; 612, .A T. Wick.

1 Sqdn Sunderlands; 201, .A T. Sullom Voe, Invergordon.

1 Meteorological Flight, Spitfire, No.1406 Flight, .A T. Wick.

"C" Flight, PRU, Spitfire/Blenheim, .A T. Wick.

19 Group (HQ Plymouth).

1 Sqdn Beaufort; 217, .A T. St Eval.

1 Sqdn Blenheim Fighter; 236, .A T. St Eval, Carew Cheriton.

%BD Sqdn Hudson; 206, .A T. St Eval (rest under 16 Group).

1 Sqdn Blenheim GR; 53, .A T. St Eval.

1 Sqdn Sunderland; 10 RAAF, .A T. Pembroke Dock.

1 Meteorological Flight, Blenheim GR, No.1404 Flight, .A T. St Eval.

"B" Flight, PRU, Spitfire/Blenheim, .A T. St Eval.

200 Group, Gibraltar:

1 Sqdn London/Catalina/Swordfish; 202 Sqdn.

West Africa:

1 Sqdn Hudson; 200, .A T. Bathurst.

1 Sqdn Sunderland; 95, .A T. Freetown.

Perhaps another instalment next week, but they get bigger and bigger!

David D


RE: Coastal Command 1939 - 1941
Author: Mike Johnson (Guest)
Time Stamp:
04:36:14 Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Post:
Many thanks, David.


RE: Coastal Command 1939 - 1941
Author: von_Shagmeister
Time Stamp:
12:47:14 Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Post:

Excellent work David, keep it up. Personally I'm particularly interested in 1943.

Best Regards

von Shagmeister


RE: Coastal Command 1939 - 1941
Author: Chris Charland (Guest)
Time Stamp:
03:01:24 Thursday, August 25, 2005
Post:
Hi Chaps

I thought Id add my 2 cents (or 2 pence) worth.

The following gen was current at the end of September 1944.

Cheers%85Chris

Coastal Command Groups

**********************

No. 15 Group R.A.F. Coastal Command H.Q.- Liverpool, Lancashire

No. 16 Group R.A.F. Coastal Command H.Q. - Gillingham, Kent

No. 17 Group R.A.F. Coastal Command H.Q. - Edinburgh, Midlothian

No. 18 Group R.A.F. Coastal Command H.Q. - Dunfermline, Fife

No. 19 Group R.A.F. Coastal Command H.Q. - Plymouth, Devonshire

No. 106 Group R.A.F. Coastal Command H.Q. - Benson, Oxfordshire

No. 247 Group R.A.F. Coastal Command H.Q. - Azores

Coastal Command Stations * Satellite airfields in brackets

*********************************************

R.A.F. Station Aldergrove, Antrim - No. 17 Group

R.A.F. Station Alness, Ross & Cromarty - No. 17 Group

R.A.F. Station Ballykelly, Londonderry - No. 15 Group

R.A.F. Station Banff, Banffshire (Fraserburgh and Dallachy) - No. 18 Group

R.A.F Station Benson, Oxfordshire - No. 106 Group

R.A.F. Station Bircham Newton, Norfolk (Docking) - No. 16 Group

R.A.F. Station Calshot, Hampshire - No. 16 Group

R.A.F. Station Castle Archdale, Fermanagh - No. 15 Group

R.A.F. Station Chivenor, Devonshire - No. 19 Group

R.A.F. Station Davidstow Moor, Cornwall - No. 19 Group

R.A.F. Station Dyce, Aberdeenshire - No. 106 Group

R.A.F. Station Felixstowe, Suffolk - No. 16 Group

R.A.F. Station Gosport, Hampshire - No. 16 Group

R.A.F. Station Greenock, Renfrewshire - No. 18 Group

R.A.F. Station Haverforwest, Pembrokeshire (Templeton), No. 17 Group

R.A.F. Station Helensburgh, Dunbarton - No. 18 Group

R.A.F. Station Killadeas, Fermanagh (St. Angelo) - No. 17 Group

R.A.F. Station Langham, Norfolk - No. 16 Group

R.A.F. Station Leuchars, Fife - No. 18 Group

R.A.F. Station Limavady, Londonderry - No. 15 Group

R.A.F. Station Mount Batten, Devon - No. 19 Group

R.A.F. Station North Coates, Lincolnshire (Donna Nook) - No. 16 Group

R.A.F. Station Oban, Argyll (Connell) - No. 17 Group

R.A.F. Station Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire (Angle) - No 19 Group

R.A.F. Station St. Eval, Cornwall - No. 19 Group

R.A.F. Station St. Davids, Pembrokeshire (Brawdy), No. 19 Group

R.A.F. Station Silloth, Cumberland (Great Orton) - No. 17 Group

R.A.F. Station Squires Gate, Lancashire - No. 17 Group

R.A.F. Station Stornoway, Hebrides - No. 18 Group

R.A.F. Station Sullom Voe, Shetlands (Scatsta) - No. 18 Group

R.A.F. Station Sumburgh, Shetlands - No. 18 Group

R.A.F. Station Thornaby, Yorkshire (West Hartlepool) - No. 16 Group

R.A.F. Station Thorney Island, Hampshire - No. 16 Group

R.A.F. Station Tiree, Hebrides - No. 15 Group

R.A.F. Station Turnberry, Ayrshire - No. 17 Group

R.A.F. Station Wick, Caithness (Skitten) No. 18 Group

Coastal Command O.T.U.s

***********************

No. 4 O. T.U. R.A.F. Station Alness, Ross & Cromarty - No. 17 Group

No. 5 O.T.U. R.A.F. Station Turnberry, Ayrshire - No. 17 Group

No. 6 O.T.U. R.A.F. Station Silloth, Cumberland - No. 17 Group

No. 8 O.T.U. R.A.F. Station Dyce, Aberdeenshire - No. 106 Group

No. 131 O.T.U. R.A.F. Station Killadeas, Fermanagh - No. 17 Group

No. 132 O.T.U. East Fortune, East Lothian - No. 17 Group



RE: Coastal Command 1939 - 1941
Author: Colin Cox (Guest)
Time Stamp:
08:14:00 Friday, September 23, 2005
Post:
Just out of interest, in the course of your labours have you found any reference to 500 Squadron being posted to RAF Harrowbeer, in Devon, in October 1941? I am part of a group doing resarch into this WWII airfield and have found refs that suggest that this may have been the case, can you add to this at all?


RE: Coastal Command 1939 - 1941
Author: David Duxbury (Guest)
Time Stamp:
22:12:56 Sunday, September 25, 2005
Post:
Colin Cox,

Sorry, all I can say is what I find in "RAF Squadrons" by C G Jefford, that 500 Sqdn moved from Detling to Bircham Newton 30/5/41 (with detachments to Carew Cheriton and Limavady), then to Stornaway on 22/3/42.

David D


RE: Coastal Command 1939 - 1941
Author: Greg
Time Stamp:
22:34:01 Sunday, September 25, 2005
Post:
>Just out of interest, in the

>course of your labours have

>you found any reference to

>500 Squadron being posted to

>RAF Harrowbeer, in Devon, in

>October 1941? I am part

>of a group doing resarch

>into this WWII airfield and

>have found refs that suggest

>that this may have been

>the case, can you add

>to this at all?

Colin, without wanting to "teach my Granny to suck eggs", have you checked the ORBs (Operations Record Books) at the National Archives in Kew for both 500 Squadron and RAF Harrowbeer - either one of those documents should give you a comprehensive answer to your question :)

Hope that helps, and again i hope i'm not pointing you in the direction of ground you know about and have already covered.

L/O

Greg

"You can take the boy out of Wales,

But you can't take Wales out of the boy..."