RAF in France 1940, (Fighting against Odds)
Tue May 10, 2011 17:58
86.160.19.255

In May and June 1940 the RAF tried desperately to stem the advancing German Panzer tanks and Infantry with very little help, with exceptions, by the French they were trying to protect.

Britain was anxious not to squander its precious aircraft by using them as a sort of fire brigade at the beck and call of the Allied land forces. The RAF wanted to ensure that its bombers were only used to cause maximum destruction to the enemy, although strategic bombing of targets in Germany was only authorised on 15 May 1940. Fighters based in France and England were to be deployed against the enemy as long as it did not impair Britain's ability to defend herself. On 10 May 1940, 416 of Britain's total number of 1,873 first-line aircraft were stationed in France, but on 20 May it was decided to bring back to England the remaining 66 fighters so that they could continue the war from English airfields.


Number 1 Squadron fought desperately along with the other units, some of the pilots dying in the attempt to fight against the great odds, such as the Australian ace, Leslie Clisbie with around 16 victories. Paul Richey and Billy Drake and others fought harder combats than they were to see in the rest of their combat careers.



501 Squadron with Ginger Lacey, Hawkeye Lee and others of the Squadron became part of the Advanced Air Striking Force (AASF) and moved to France where it saw extensive action, stationed at airfields as Bétheniville, Anglure, Le Mans and Dinard. After the retreat from France through Saint Helier, Jersey, its battle-hardened pilots were re-organised at RAF Croydon
Active RAF Squadrons on 10 May 1940:

Squadron Base Aircrafts Squadron Base Aircrafts
No. 1 Berry-au-Bac (France) Hurricane I No. 2 Abbeville (France) Lysander I, II
No. 3 Merville (France) Hurricane I No. 4 Monchy-Lagache (France) Lysander I, II
No. 5 Fort Sanderman (India) Wapiti IIA No. 6 Ramleh (Palestine) Lysander I, II
No. 7 Finningley Hampden I No. 8 Khormaskar (Aden) Vincent, Blenheim I
No. 9 Honington Wellington IC No. 10 Dishforth Whitley IV, V
No. 11 Ismalia (Egypt) Blenheim I No. 12 Amifontaine (France) Battle
No. 13 Douai (France) Lysander I, II No. 14 Amman (Palestine) Wellesley
No. 15 Alconbury Blenheim IV No. 16 Bertangles Lysander II
No. 17 Hawkinge Hurricane I No. 18 Meharicourt (France) Blenheim IV
No. 19 Horsham St Faith Spitfire I No. 20 Kohat (India)
Audax
No. 21 Watton Bleinheim IV No. 22 North Coates Beaufort I
No. 23 Wittering Blenheim IF No. 24 Hendon various communication types
No. 25 North Weals Blenheim IF No. 26 Dieppe (France) Lysander I, II
No. 27 Risalpur (India) Wapiti IIA, Hart, Tiger Moth
No. 28 Kohat (India) Audax
No. 29 Debden Blenheim IF No. 30 Ismalia (Egypt) Blenheim I, IF
No. 31 Peshawar (India) Valentia No. 32 Biggin Hill Hurricane I
No. 33 Mersa Matruh (Egypt) Gladiator No. 34 Tengah (Singapore) Blenheim I
No. 35 operational training unit - No. 36 Seletar (Malaya) Vildebeest III
No. 37 Feltwell Wellington IA No. 38 Marham Wellington IA, IC
No. 39 Heliopolis (India) Blenheim I No. 40 Wyton Blenheim IV
No. 41 Catterick Spitfire I No. 42 Thorney Island Beaufort I
No. 43 Wick Hurricane I No. 44 Waddington Hampden I
No. 45 Fuka (Sudan) Blenheim I No. 46 transfer on carrier Glorious to Norway Hurricane I
No. 47 Khartoum (Sudan) Vincent, Wellesley No. 48 Thorney Island Anson I, Beaufort I
No. 49 Scampton Hampden I No. 50 Waddington Hampden I
No. 51 Dishforth Whitley IV, V No. 52 operational training unit -
No. 53 Poix (France) Blenheim IV No. 54 Hornchurch Spitfire I
No. 55 Ismalia (Egypt) Blenheim I No. 56 Garvesend Hurricane I
No. 57 Rosieres-en-Saneterre (France) Blenheim IV No. 58 Linton-on-Ouse Whitley V
No. 59 Poix (France) Blenheim IV No. 60 Ambala (India) Blenheim I
No. 61 Hemswell Hampden I No. 62 Tengah (Singapore) Blenheim I
No. 63 operational training unit - No. 64 Church Fenton Spitfire I
No. 65 Hornchurch Spitfire I No. 66 Duxford Spitfire I
No. 70 Habbaniya (Egypt) Valentia No. 72 Acklington Spitfire I
No. 73 Reims (France) Hurricane I No. 74 Hornchurch Spitfire I
No. 75 Feltwell Wellington I, IA, IC No. 77 Driffield Whitley V
No. 78 Linton-on-Ouse Whitley V No. 79 Biggin Hill Hurricane I
No. 80 Amriya (Egypt) Gladiator No. 81 Amiens (France) Tiger Moth (communications)
No. 82 Watton Blenheim IV No. 83 Scampton Hampden I
No. 84 Shaibah (Iraq) Blenheim I No. 85 Lille (France) Hurricane I
No. 87 Lille (France) Hurricane I No. 88 Mourmelon (France) Battle
No. 92 Northolt Spitfire I No. 94 Sheikh Othman (Aden) Gladiator
No. 97 Driffield disbanded May 20 without aircrafts No. 98 Chateau Bougon (France) Battle
No. 99 Newmarket Wellington I, IA, IC No. 100 Seletar (Singapore) Vildebeest II, III
No. 101 West Raynham Blenheim IV No. 102 Driffield Whitley V
No. 103 Betheniville (France) Battle No. 104 operational training unit -
No. 105 Villeneuve-les-Vertus (France) Battle No. 106 Finningley Hampden I
No. 107 Wattisham Blenheim IV No. 108 operational training unit -
No. 110 Wattisham Blenheim IV No. 111 Wick Hurricane I
No. 112 Helwan (Egypt) Gladiator, Gauntlet II No. 113 Heliopolis (Egypt) Blenheim IV
No. 114 Conde-Vraux (France) Blenheim IV No. 115 Marham Wellington IA, IC
No. 139 Plivot (France) Blenheim IV No. 141 Grangemouth Defiant I, Gladiator, Blenheim IF, Battle
No. 142 Berry-au-Bac (France) Battle No. 144 Hemswell Hampden I
No. 145 Tangmere Hurricane I No. 148 Stradishall Wellington IC
No. 149 Mildenhall Wellington I, IA, IC No. 150 Ecury-sur-Coole (France) Battle
No. 151 North Weald Hurricane I No. 152 Acklington Spitfire I
No. 185 operational training unit - No. 201 Invergordon Sunderland I
No. 202 Gibraltar London II No. 203 Sheikh Othman (Aden) Blenheim I, IV
No. 204 Sullon Voe
(Shetland Is) Sunderland I No. 205 Seletar (Ceylon) Singapore III
No. 206 Bircham Newton Anson, Hudson No. 207 operational training unit -
No. 208 Heliopolis (Egypt) Lysander I, II No. 209 Oban Lerwick I
No. 210 Pembroke Dock Sunderland I No. 211 El Daba (Egypt) Blenheim I
No. 212 Heston Blenheim IV, Spitfire I No. 213 Wittering Hurricane I
No. 214 Stradishall Wellington I, IA, IC No. 216 Heliopolis (Egypt) Valentia, Bombay
No. 217 St.Eval Anson, Beaufort I No. 218 Mouscou Femme (France) Battle
No. 219 Catterick Blenheim IF No. 220 Thornaby Hudson
No. 222 Digby Spitfire I No. 223 Khartoum (Sudan) Wellesley
No. 224 Leuchars Hudson No. 225 Odiham Lysander
No. 226 Reims (France) Battle No. 228 Pembroke Dock Sunderland I
No. 229 Digby Hurricane I No. 230 Alexandria (Egypt) Sunderland I
No. 232 not operational - No. 233 Leucchars Hudson
No. 234 Church Fenton (from 22 May) Spitfire I No. 235 Bircham Newton Blenheim IVF, IF
No. 236 Speke Blenheim IF No. 237 (Rhodesia) Nairobi (Kenya) Audax, Hardy
No. 240 Invergordon London II No. 242 Church Fenton Hurricane I
No. 245 Leconfield Hurricane I No. 248 Gosport Blenheim IVF
No. 253 Kenley Hurricane I, Battle No. 254 Hatston Blenheim IV
No. 263 Turnhouse Gladiator No. 264 Martlesham Heath Defiant I
No. 266 Martlesham Heath Spitfire I No. 269 Wick Anson
No. 271 (Transport) Doncaster Harrow, Bombay, Ford 5 No. 273 China Bay (Ceylon) Vildebeest, Seal
No. 500 Detling Anson No. 501 Bethenville Hurricane I
No. 502 Aldergrove Anson No. 504 Debden Hurricane I
No. 600 Manston Blenheim IF No. 601 Tangmere Hurricane I
No. 602 Dyce Spitfire I No. 603 Turnhouse Spitfire I
No. 604 Northolt Blenheim IF No. 605 Wick Hurricane I
No. 607 Vintry-en-Artois (France) Hurricane I, Gladiator No. 608 Thornaby Anson
No. 609 Drem Spitfire I No. 610 Biggin Hill Spitfire I
No. 611 Digby Spitfire I No. 612 Dyce Anson
No. 613 Odiham Lysander, Hector No. 614 Odiham Lysander
No. 615 Abbeville (France) Hurricane I, Gladiator No. 616 Leconfield Spitfire I

Note: Squadron Nos. 400 to 499 were squadrons of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force and Royal New Zealand Air Force. Not all numbers were used and unfortunately there are no detailed information available.

Overview of RAF squadrons equipment and location:

Aircraft UK France Egypt, Palestine, Iraq India, Ceylon Aden, Kenya, Sudan Singapore, Malaya Gibraltar Norway Total
Hurricane 16 8 - - - - - 1 25
Spitfire 19 - - - - - - - 19
Gladiator 1 - 2 - 2 - - - 5
Blenheim IF, IVF 9 - - - - - - - 9
Defiant 2 - - - - - - - 2
Vildebeest - - - 1 - 2
- - 3

Wellesley 1 - 1
- 1 1 - - 4
Blenheim 9 6 7 2 2 2 - - 28
Battle - 8 - - - - - - 8
Wapiti - - - 1 - - - - 1
Beaufort 4 - - - - - - - 4
Whitley 6 - - - - - - - 6
Hampden 8 - - - - - - - 8
Wellington 8 - - - - - - - 8
Hudson 4 - - - - - - - 4
Anson 5 - - - - - - - 5
Lysander 4 4 2 - - - - - 10
Audax - - - 2 - - - - 2
Valentina - - 1 1 1 - - - 3
Tiger Mouth - 1 - 1 - - - - 2
London 1 - - - - - 1 - 2
Singapore - - - 1 - - - - 1
Lerwick 1 - - - - - - - 1
Sunderland 4 - 1 - - - - - 5
TOTAL 102 27 14 9 6 5 1 1 165

The RAF squadron strength was between 6 and 18 aircrafts.


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