RAF squadron assignments

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Jan 31, 2021
Does anyone have a suggestion for an online site or printed reference which lists the Groups to which RAF squadrons were assigned to during WWII? As well as the Wings squadrons were assigned to, if any, and the Commands to which the Groups were assigned?

The publication Air Combat Units of World War II lists this sort of information for USAAF groups during the war (although it does so only with the year and not the exact date), but I haven't come across a similar publication that does so for RAF aircraft units.

If anyone can point me in a good direction for a consolidated source for this information, it would be appreciated. :)
 
Does anyone have a suggestion for an online site or printed reference which lists the Groups to which RAF squadrons were assigned to during WWII? As well as the Wings squadrons were assigned to, if any, and the Commands to which the Groups were assigned?
No, as far as I am are there is no such reference. From memory books like Royal Air Force Handbook by Bowyer lists the wings and groups but not the subordinate units. The many published histories have "snapshot" orders of battle, but not for example a day by day listing of Fighter Command July to October 1940. Is there anything specific you were after?
 
Does anyone have a suggestion for an online site or printed reference which lists the Groups to which RAF squadrons were assigned to during WWII? As well as the Wings squadrons were assigned to, if any, and the Commands to which the Groups were assigned?

The publication Air Combat Units of World War II lists this sort of information for USAAF groups during the war (although it does so only with the year and not the exact date), but I haven't come across a similar publication that does so for RAF aircraft units.

If anyone can point me in a good direction for a consolidated source for this information, it would be appreciated. :)
Hi
'The Source Book of the RAF' by Ken Delve (Airlife 1994), has ORBATs for Nov. 1939, May 1941, Apr. 1942, Apr. 1943, July 1944 and July 1945 (plus pre and post war ORBATs). Sample page:
ww2prod011.jpg

Also 'RAF Flying Training and Support Units since 1912' by Sturtivant & Hamlin is also informative. Sample page:
ww2prod012.jpg

Other general useful books are 'RAF Squadrons' by Jefford, and 'Flying Units of the RAF' by Alan Lake. There are other books with much of the detail you seek for different theatres of operations or Commands etc., it depends on what you are after.

Mike
 
Hi
'The Source Book of the RAF' by Ken Delve (Airlife 1994), has ORBATs for Nov. 1939, May 1941, Apr. 1942, Apr. 1943, July 1944 and July 1945 (plus pre and post war ORBATs). Sample page:
Careful with that source. It is RAF squadrons / units only. It doesn't include RAAF, RCAF and SAAF squadrons operating under RAF control. For example 3 RAAF and various SAAF bomber and fighter units operating in the Mediterranean theatre.
 
Careful with that source. It is RAF squadrons / units only. It doesn't include RAAF, RCAF and SAAF squadrons operating under RAF control. For example 3 RAAF and various SAAF bomber and fighter units operating in the Mediterranean theatre.
Hi
Some are missing but those that use the RAF numbering system in the 400 series do appear in the ORBATs .

Another useful book is 'The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth 1918-1988' by James J Halley (Air-Britain, 1988).

Mike
 
Hi
Some are missing but those that use the RAF numbering system in the 400 series do appear in the ORBATs .

Another useful book is 'The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth 1918-1988' by James J Halley (Air-Britain, 1988).

Mike
Yes, but the 400 series squadrons were Article 15 squadrons i.e RAF squadrons intended to be manned by personnel from the Commonwealth countries.

Squadrons like 3 RAAF were squadrons from their respective Commonwealth air forces effectively loaned to the RAF and operating under RAF command. So examples were

3 & 10 RAAF
162 RCAF
All the SAAF units incl 1,2,12,16,17, 21,24,31,34,40,60 etc at different times.

SAAF units in particular formed a significant part of the various Mediterranean commands as the war went on. Over time some RAF squadrons became SAAF squadrons just to further confuse things.
 
Try googling "raf groups WW2 orders of battle" (but without the inverted commas). You should get returns for each of the Commands (Fighter, Coastal, Bomber etc) that are listed by Group and by year. Alas, it doesn't detail down to the Wing level…but it's a start.

Orders of Battle are certainly helpful, but only provide a snapshot as of a given date. I'm interested in tracking down the movements of squadrons between groups and when they occurred.


No, as far as I am are there is no such reference. From memory books like Royal Air Force Handbook by Bowyer lists the wings and groups but not the subordinate units. The many published histories have "snapshot" orders of battle, but not for example a day by day listing of Fighter Command July to October 1940. Is there anything specific you were after?

I suspected there wasn't. :(

I'm interested in the dates squadrons moved between Commands (and Wings, if possible), which, to be fair, doesn't seem to have happened often. The time period I'm looking for is August 1942 through May 1945.


Hi
'The Source Book of the RAF' by Ken Delve (Airlife 1994), has ORBATs for Nov. 1939, May 1941, Apr. 1942, Apr. 1943, July 1944 and July 1945 (plus pre and post war ORBATs).Also 'RAF Flying Training and Support Units since 1912' by Sturtivant & Hamlin is also informative.

Mike

That Sturtivant & Hamlin one looks interesting. I'll have to see if I can track that one down. RAF Squadrons by C.G. Jefford is one I've used already. It's a great reference for listing when squadrons were formed and disbanded, and the bases they operated from, but doesn't give any information about their higher assignments unfortunately.



As a general note, I have come across a website which might have the data: Air of Authority — A History of RAF Organization. The group and command data, however, is for paid members only, and I'm reluctant to sign up for a membership without being able to at least some samples of the information on offer. At first look the site appears good, If anyone has any knowledge of this site, do post it.
 
Hi
'The Source Book of the RAF' by Ken Delve (Airlife 1994), has ORBATs for Nov. 1939, May 1941, Apr. 1942, Apr. 1943, July 1944 and July 1945 (plus pre and post war ORBATs). Sample page:

Mike

It turns out I've seen that book and made notes from it, but had forgotten I had done so. Thanks for the reminder. :)

I'm also realizing that it seems for Groups in the U.K., these were mostly geographic arrangements. So if a squadron transferred to an airfield in another Group's designated geographic area, it became part of that Group.


Lastly, the website RAf Commands — which I had been aware of previously — does have some information on the Commands. I had missed the link to that section in previous visits.
 
And another complication. Bomber Command didn't have "Wings". It had "Bases" from Spring 1943. Each comprised a principal airfield with one or two subsidiary fields. And each airfield would have one or two squadrons.
 
It turns out I've seen that book and made notes from it, but had forgotten I had done so. Thanks for the reminder. :)

I'm also realizing that it seems for Groups in the U.K., these were mostly geographic arrangements. So if a squadron transferred to an airfield in another Group's designated geographic area, it became part of that Group.


Lastly, the website RAf Commands — which I had been aware of previously — does have some information on the Commands. I had missed the link to that section in previous visits.
Hi

Also for the 2nd TAF, the airfield number in UK became the Wing number, eg. 140 Airfield became 140 Wing. Chapter 16 in Volume Four of '2nd Tactical Air Force' by Shores & Thomas, give the movements of the squadrons between Wings in most cases. Another source is the three volume WW2 RAF Official History 'Royal Air Force 1939-1945', Richards & Saunders, the appendices give various detailed ORBATs. For example Volume III 'The Fight is Won' has:
WW2OHorbats003.jpg
#
WW2OHorbats004.jpg

WW2OHorbats005.jpg

While Volume II 'The Fight Avails' has the ORBAT for the Med. for 1941, 1942 and 1943 (example pages):
WW2OHorbats006.jpg

WW2OHorbats007.jpg

There is a lot of information around just not necessarily in one place.

Mike
 
Hi

Also for the 2nd TAF, the airfield number in UK became the Wing number, eg. 140 Airfield became 140 Wing. Chapter 16 in Volume Four of '2nd Tactical Air Force' by Shores & Thomas, give the movements of the squadrons between Wings in most cases.

I've gone through Shore's book specifically on 2TAF from 1970, which I presume is a different, though similar, book.


Another source is the three volume WW2 RAF Official History 'Royal Air Force 1939-1945', Richards & Saunders, the appendices give various detailed ORBATs. For example Volume III 'The Fight is Won' has:

For anyone interested, that history is available online at the HyperWar website:

Royal Air Force 1939–1945 Vol. I: The Fight at Odds
Royal Air Force 1939–1945 Vol. II: The Fight Avails
Royal Air Force 1939–1945 Vol. III: The Fight is Won


There is a lot of information around just not necessarily in one place.

Mike

I'm also realizing I have more information on hand than I thought, just scattered around in a lot of difference places. I should sort that out. :D
 
Hi
Yes, the new '2TAF book is enlarged into four volumes and updated. Volume Four was published in 2008. Sample page from Chapter 16:

Mike

Ah, thanks. I wasn't aware there was an updated work. I'll have to track it down and give it a good look.
 

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