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No. 644 Squadron RAF
Active 23 February 1944 - 1 September 1946
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Type Inactive
Role Transport, SOE supply and Airborne Assault
Base RAF Tarrant Rushton, Dorset
Motto Latin: Dentes draconis serimus
("We sow the dragon's teeth")
Aircraft Handley Page Halifax
Insignia
Squadron Badge heraldry In front of an incresent, a Pegasus rampant[1]
The Pegasus signifies the Squadron's association with the Parachute Brigade[2]
Squadron Codes 2P (Feb 1944 - Sep 1946)
9U (Feb 1944 - Sep 1946)[3]

No. 644 Squadron RAF was a unit of the Royal Air Force during World War II that undertook glider-towing and supply dropping missions as well being employed in the paratroop role.

Contents

History

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Formation and World War II

An increasing need for transport and airborne assault squadrons became apparent when the build up for Operation Overlord got under way. Therefore personnel and aircraft from No. 298 Squadron RAF at RAF Tarrant Rushton were formed into the newly formed No. 644 Squadron on 23 February 1944. Operations also included supply dropping to SOE forces and glider towing during the operations Overlord, Market Garden and Varsity. They also carried out supply drops over Norway and even some tactical night-bombing missions towards the end of the war.

Post war

Following the end of hostilities in Europe, 644 Squadron helped to transport the 1st Parachute Brigade to Copenhagen on the 8th May, where they were to oversee the surrender and disarmament of the German forces in Denmark. On the following day they carried the remainder of the 1st Airborne Division to Norway for similar duties. Ever since the Normandy invasion, No. 46 Group RAF had been involved in a "shuttle service" of ferrying freight to the front line and removing either wounded or freed prisoners of war to Britain. Although most of the armies were more or less static now that the War was over, RAF Transport Command's responsibilities increased, and so No. 38 Group RAF received orders to assist in this capacity. In addition to the transport of freight and prisoners of war, No. 644 Squadron also flew service personnel to Greece, North Africa and Italy. In July, the Squadron lost a Halifax over the Pyrenees. In November 1945, the 6th Airborne Division was despatched to Palestine to help police the worsening political crisis that was developing in the region, and 644 Squadron were ordered to lend them their support and so accompanied them to Quastina in Egypt. On 1 September 1946 No. 644 squadron disbanded by being re-numbered to No. 47 squadron RAF.[4]

The squadron today is represented by No. 644 Volunteer Gliding Squadron, which has the same squadron crest though with a different motto.

Aircraft operated

From To Aircraft Version
Feb 1944 Nov 1944 Handley Page Halifax Mk.V
Aug 1944 Mar 1945 Handley Page Halifax Mk.IIIa
Mar 1945 Sep 1946 Handley Page Halifax Mk.VII
Aug 1946 Sep 1946 Handley Page Halifax Mk.IX

[1][5][6]

Commanding officers

From To Name
February 1944 March 1944 S/Ldr. A.G. Norman, DFC
March 1944 November 1944 W/Cdr. V.A. Pope
November 1944 June 1945 W/Cdr. E.L. Archer, AFC
June 1945 September 1946 W/Cdr. W.H. Angle

[5][7]

References

Notes

  1. ^ a b Halley 1988, p. 443.
  2. ^ Rawlings 1982, p. 243.
  3. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, pp. 84, 104.
  4. ^ Squadron history on rafweb
  5. ^ a b Rawlings 1982, p. 244
  6. ^ Jefford 2001, p. 102.
  7. ^ No. 644 Squadron history on pegasusarchive

Bibliography

  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937-56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918-1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE, BA, RAF(Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.

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