No. 249 Squadron
Aircraft: Hurricane Mk.I
Motto: Pugnis et calcibus – ‘With fists and heels’
Badge: In front of a bezant, an elephant passant. Both the bezant and the elephant imply associations with the Gold Coast, of which No 249 Squadron was one of the wartime gift squadrons.
- Leconfield – 18 May 1940
- Church Fenton – 8 July 1940
- Boscombe Down – 14 August 1940
- North Weald – 1 September 1940
No. 249 Squadron was formed on 18 August 1918 from Nos 400, 401, 419 and 450 Flights at the seaplane station at Dundee for coastal patrol duties. A sub-station was set up at Strathbeg in September and Short 184 seaplanes were flown for the rest of the war, the squadron disbanding on 8 October 1919.
On 16 May 1940, No. 249 reformed as a fighter squadron at Church Fenton, initially with Spitfires, but after a few weeks re-equipped with Hurricanes. Becoming operational on 3 July, it flew defensive patrols and moved south in August to take part in the Battle of Britain.
No. 253 Squadron
Aircraft: Hurricane Mk.I
Motto: Come one, come all
Badge: The back of a dexter arm embowed, fessewise, in Mogul armour, the hand holding an Indian battle-axe. The squadron became the Hyderabad gift squadron and the badge was suggested by the Nizam of Hyderabad as appropriate.
- Kirton-in-Lindsey – 24 May 1940
- Turnhouse – 21 July 1940
- Prestwick – 23 August 1940
- Kenley (A) – 29 August 1940
- Kenley (G) – 16 September 1940
No. 253 Squadron was formed on 7 June 1918 at Bembridge, Isle of Wight, as a coastal patrol unit. Two flights (Nos 412 and 413) of seaplanes operated from Bembridge Harbour while two more flights (Nos 511 and 512) flew from a nearby airfield at Foreland with DH6s. After flying anti-submarine patrols until the Armistice, the squadron disbanded on 31 May 1919.
On 30 October 1939, No. 253 Squadron reformed at Manston and was originally intended as a shipping protection unit with Blenheims. None were delivered, however, and the squadron began to receive Hurricanes in February 1940, becoming operational on 3 April. In May 1940 one flight was sent to France to reinforce the hard-pressed Hurricane squadrons while the second flight flew daily to French airfields from 17 to 23 May. After re-equipping in Lincolnshire, No. 253 took part in the Battle of Britain from the end of August.
No. 257 Squadron
Aircraft: Hurricane Mk.I
Motto: Thay myay gyee shin shwe hti – ‘Death or glory’
Badge: A chinthe sejant. No 257 Squadron was the Burma gift squadron in World War Two; the chinthe is a Burmese effigy.
Hendon – 17 May 1940
Northolt – 4 July 1940
Debden – 15 August 1940
Martlesham Heath – 5 September 1940
North Weald – 8 October 1940
No. 257 Squadron was formed at Dundee on 18 August 1918, from Nos 318 and 319 Flights at the former seaplane station built there by the RNAS. It flew anti-submarine patrols off the east coast of Scotland until the end of the war and disbanded on 30 June 1919.
On 17 May 1940 No. 257 reformed at Hendon as a fighter squadron. Initially it flew Spitfires but during June exchanged these for Hurricanes, becoming operational on 1 July. The squadron was based in south-east England throughout the Battle of Britain.
No. 263 Squadron
Aircraft: Hurricane Mk.I; Whirlwind Mk.I
Motto: Ex ungue leonem – ‘By his claws one knows the lion’
Badge: A lion rampant, holding in its forepaws a cross. The lion represents the squadron’s association with Scotland, the cross comes from the flag of Norway.
- Grangemouth – 28 June 1940
- Drem – 2 September 1940
No. 263 Squadron was formed on 27 September 1918, in southern Italy form Nos 359, 435, 436 and 441 Flights at the former RNAS station at Otranto and its sub-station at Santa Maria de Leuca. For the rest of the war, it flew anti-submarine patrols over the Straits of Otranto to prevent U-boats passing into the Mediterranean from the Austro-Hungarian ports on the Adriatic. It was disbanded on 16 May 1919.
On 2 October 1939, No. 263 reformed at Filton as a fighter squadron. Equipped with Gladiators, it was sent to Norway in April 1940, in an attempt to give air cover for British and Norwegian forces. Operating from a frozen lake, it had all its aircraft rendered unfit for action within three days and returned to the UK to re-equip. In May, the squadron arrived back in Norway, this time further north and flew patrols until the Allied forces were withdrawn from Narvik. Its aircraft embarked on the carrier ‘Glorious’, which was sunk en route to the UK by German surface ships.
On 12 June 1940, ground staff began to arrive at Drem to reform the squadron, which was intended to be the first with Whirlwind twin-engined fighters, meanwhile some Hurricanes were received.
No. 264 Squadron
Aircraft: Defiant Mk.I
Motto: We defy
Badge: A helmet – indicative of the squadron’s readiness to fight.
- Duxford – 10 May 1940
- Fowlmere – 3 July 1940
- Kirton-in-Lindsey – 23 July 1940
- Hornchurch – 22 August 1940
- Rochford – 27 August 1940
- Kirton-in-Lindsey – 28 August 1940
- Rochford – 29 October 1940
No. 264 Squadron was formed in August 1918, from the seaplane station at Suda Bay, Crete. No. 439 Flight at Suda Bay and No. 440 Flight at Syra (Siros), 150 miles further north, flew anti-submarine patrols over the shipping routes to Salonika and Aegean Islands until the end of the war. The squadron disbanded on 1 March 1919.
On 30 October 1939, No. 264 reformed at Sutton Bridge as a fighter squadron and received its first Defiant two-seater fighters in December. These it took into action for the first time during the German invasion of the Low Countries in May 1940. The new turret fighters had some initial success but lacked forward-firing armament and manoeuvrability. Losses were heavy in daylight operations and the squadron was switched to night fighting at the end of August where its flexible armament was of more use.