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Thread: War-Time squadron codes

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    Default War-Time squadron codes

    Hi,

    Just before war was declared the peace-time squadron codes were changed. How was the codes chosen for the squadrons, what was the process behind it. Example, 218 Squadron pre-war codes was SV, this was coded to HA. Why HA ?

    TIA

    Steve
    No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron Association Historian
    No.623 squadron Research

    ~~IN TIME ~~

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    I wouldn't waste too much time in attempting to find a "system" of allocating code latters to units. The whole point of these letters was that they were random, and could not be "de-coded" without access to the RAF's big, secret book of unit identification codes, probably kept in a big safe at the Air Ministry! They probably just had a big box filled with little cardboard squares, each having a two letter (and later this could also include a letter and a number) code, but excluding those squares with codes already in use. I can just imagine an airmen being ordered by an officer to randomly take out a square at a time (without peeking!), and then arbitrarily pair it with the next unit requiring a new code group. Incidentally it was quite possible for a code group to allocated to more than one unit, so long as they were not both in the same theatre, but one sometimes hears of this getting complicated should aircraft from, say an RAF home command being sent out to the Middle East. Normally you would expect this unit to give up its oldcode and either get a new one locally, or not have a code group at all (thinking of the 205 Group squadrons here!) AL off the top of my head I am afraid.
    David D

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    The original intention was to keep changing these codes to help confuse the enemy, but this only happened to a few squadrons. Generally after some time spent without carrying unit codes at all, such as in the Middle East or Coastal Command (which adopted its own system midwar, then abandoned it). I think that it was 616 and 92 squadrons that used the same codes in 1939/early 1940 because one of them didn't change from their prewar codes.

    Units going out to the Far East generally retained their European codes, which were then allocated to another unit. For example 607 Squadron retained their AF, but it was then used by the Air Fighting Development Unit. When the US sent fighter units to the Middle East after Torch they reused codes still in use in the UK as a confusion to the enemy.

    If you are further interested in the subject the book to look for is Combat Codes by Vic Flintham and Andrew Thomas.

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