No. 224 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

No. 224 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

No. 224 Squadron (RAF) during the Second World War

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No.224 Squadron was a Coastal Command squadron that began the Second World War as a maritime reconnaissance squadron, before becoming one of the most successful anti-submarine warfare squadrons from 1942 until the end of the war.

The squadron was reformed on 1 February 1937 at Manston with personnel from No.48 Squadron. Two weeks later it moved to Boscombe Down where it received its Avro Ansons. These aircraft were replaced with Lockheed Hudsons in May 1939 and the squadron became operational with the new aircraft in August. It then moved to its war station at Leuchars and began to fly patrols over the North Sea looking for German ships as well as providing convoy escorts. On 8 October a Hudson from the squadron reported sighting a German force consisting of a battleship, a cruiser and four destroyers off the south-west coast of Norway, although bad weather prevented the sighting from being followed up. Anti-shipping operations were added to the squadron's duties after the German invasion of Norway.

In April 1941 the squadron moved to Northern Ireland to fly anti-submarine patrols, although without success at this early period. In December it moved to Cornwall to fly patrols off Brest (where a number of powerful German warships were trapped) as well as attack shipping off Brittany. On the night of 11-12 February aircraft from the squadron were patrolling off Brest at the start of the 'Channel Dash' - the audacious German operation that saw the Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen escape from Brest to Germany. The ships came within radar range of one aircraft, but didn't show up and were able to begin their successful mission undetected.

In February 1942 the squadron moved to Ulster, then in April to Tiree. In July it became one of two Hudson squadrons to convert to the Liberator in an attempt to help No.120 Squadron close the Atlantic Gap. The squadron became operational with its long range Liberators in October 1942 (as opposed to the Very Long Range aircraft being used by No.120).

This move marked the start of the squadron's prolonged period of success against the U-boats, with two victories in 1942, four in 1943, three in 1944 and one in 1945. The two successes in 1942 were of particular significance, as they involved the sinking of the only two U-boats to come close to the slow moving invasion convoys heading towards North Africa as part of Operation Torch (U-216 on 20 October and U-599 on 24 October).

On 8 July an aircraft captained by Sqn Ldr Terance Bulloch, one of the most decorated pilot in Coastal Command, spotted and sank U-514 off Cape Finisterre, with a series of salvoes of rockets.

On 8 June Flt Lt. Kenneth Own 'Kayo' Moore, a Canadian pilot serving with the squadron, became the only Coastal Command pilot to sink two U-boats in a single sortie, both attempting to attack the convoys moving supplies and reinforcements to the Normandy beaches. U-629 was sunk just after 2am and U-373 later in the same day, both with depth charges while attempting to fight it out on the surface.

After the liberation of France the squadron moved to Scotland, and spent the rest of the war attacking U-boats and shipping off the Norwegian and Danish coasts. This period saw U-867 sunk on 19 September 1944 in the Norwegian Sea and U-1106 on 29 March 1945 in the Atlantic.


20 October 1942

North Atlantic


23 October 1943

S of Iceland


29 April 1943

off Cape Finisterre


8 June 1944

Bay of Biscay


8 July 1943

NE of Cape Finisterre


24 October 1942

NW of Cape Finisterre


3 July 1943

NW of Cape Ortegal


8 June 1944

SW of Ushant


19 September 1944

Norwegian Sea


29 March 1945


February 1937-August 1939: Avro Anson I
May 1939-July 1941: Lockheed Hudson I and III
May 1941-July 1942: Lockheed Hudson V
July 1942-October 1946: Consolidated Liberator II and IIIA
March 1942-October 1946: Consolidated Liberator V and VIII

August 1938-April 1941: Leuchars
April 1941: Limavady
December 1941-February 1942: St. Eval
February-April 1942: Limavady
April-September 1942: Tiree
September 1942-April 1943: Beaulieu
April 1943-September 1944: St. Eval
September 1944-July 1945: Milltown
July 1945-November 1947: St. Eval

Squadron Codes: QA and QX (Hudson), XB (Liberator)

1939-1942: Maritime reconnaissance and anti-shipping
1942-1945: Anti-submarine warfare

Part of
September 1939: No.18 G.R. Group; Coastal Command
15 February 1943: No.19 Group; Coastal Command


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  • 1917 - The airfield site was already being used by trainee pilots from HMS Daedalus (RAF Cranwell).
  • 1918 - Airfield formally purchased.
  • 1924 - Wing Commander (later MRAF Lord) Tedder arrived as Station Commander.
  • 1936 - Dambuster Guy Gibson learned to fly at the station.
  • 1940 - Became an important fighter station during the Battle of Britain.
  • 1941 - Pilot John Magee, poet of 'High Flight', was killed while flying from the station.