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No. 85 Squadron was a squadron of the Royal Air Force.

History

In World War I

No. 85 squadron was formed at Upavonmarker on the 1 August 1917; the station was home to the Royal Flying Corps Central Flying School. Shortly afterwards the Squadron moved to Mousehold Heathmarker near Norwichmarker under the command of Major R A Archer. During November 1917 the Squadron transferred to Hounslowmarker in Essex and in March 1918 Major William Avery Bishop VC, DSO, MC, took command and carried out his orders to prepare and train for front line duties in France. On 1 April 1918 No. 85 Squadron was transferred into the new Royal Air Force. Following this period of training the Squadron deployed to France during May 1918. Equipped with the Sopwith Dolphin and later the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5A, it flew fighter patrols and ground attack sorties over the Western Front until the Armistice was signed.

On 21 June 1918 there was a change of command and training methods following the arrival of the new CO, Major Edward "Mick" Mannock DSO, MC. Rather than fight as individuals the Squadron was taught to act as a unit during combat. During a patrol on 26 July 1918 accompanying Lt DC Inglis over the front line Major Mannock failed to return depriving 85 Squadron of its leader. On 18 July 1919 Major Mannock was awarded a posthumous VC. No. 85 Squadron amassed 99 victories during its short involvement in the conflict and returned to the UK in February 1919, the squadron disbanded on 3 July 1919.

In World War II

On June 1, 1938, the Squadron was reformed from the renumbered elements of "A" Flight No. 87 Squadron RAF and placed under the command of Flight Lieutenant D E Turner. The Squadron were based at RAF Debdenmarker in Essex and commenced training using the Gloster Gladiator (the RAF's last biplane fighter). On 4 September the first Hawker Hurricanes began arriving in numbers.

The war clouds began to darken the horizon once again and another trip to France was beckoning for the young men and their Hurricane fighters. No. 85 received the signal ordering their immediate mobilisation on 23 August 1939, the aircraft making up both "A" and "B" Flights were kept at a state of constant readiness, by 1 September the Squadron had completed its preparation for the impending move to France. On the outbreak of the Second World War the squadron moved its 16 Hurricanes to Boos as part of the Air Component of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) 60th Fighter Wing. Their primary role was to give support to the Fairey Battle and Bristol Blenheim units deployed around Rheims and to provide vital air defence cover for their bases. Initial sorties however involved patrols over the English Channelmarker and a move to Merville was instigated in late September. By 1 November another move saw 85 based at Lille Seclin, however to maintain its patrols over the Channel sections were detached to Le Touquetmarker and St. Inglevert. During one such patrol over the Boulognemarker area, 85 scored its first victory of World War Two when Flight Lieutenant R.H.A. Lee attacked a Heinkel He 111 which crashed into the Channel exploding on impact.

December 1939 saw a Royal visit from his Majesty the King accompanied by the Duke of Gloucester and Viscount Lord Gort. The onset of winter proved to be an additional challenge as bitterly cold weather prevented flying, caused damage to aircraft and took its toll on the health of the airmen who were living in fairly primitive conditions. When the German invasion (Blitzkrieg) commenced in May 1940, 85 found itself locked in a bitter contest with the Luftwaffe, with attacks on their aerodromes commonplace there was no respite from operations. In an eleven day period the Squadron had accounted for a confirmed total of 90 enemy aircraft; there were many more claims that could not be substantiated. The final sorties saw 85 giving fighter cover to the Allied armies until its bases were finally overrun and the three remaining aircraft retired to the UK. During the intense battles over France the Squadron lost seventeen pilots; two killed, six wounded and nine missing, this figure included their new CO, Squadron Leader Peacock but had once again had acquitted itself well in the face of many adversities.

The Squadron re-equipped and resumed full operations early in June. After taking part in the first half of the Battle of Britain over Southern England, the Squadron moved to Yorkshiremarker in September and in October following a change in role commenced night fighter patrols. For the remainder of the Second World War No. 85 Squadron continued its nocturnal pursuit of intercepting enemy raiders, it had a brief period providing Bomber Support as part of No. 100 Group RAF and even took part in the famous anti-diver patrols intercepting V1 flying bombs.

Entering the jet age

the end of war in Europe the Squadron remained active as night-fighter unit and flying operations continued into the jet age with new aircraft types such as the Gloster Meteor, Gloster Javelin and English Electric Canberra. In its final reformation on 19 December 1975 No. 85 Squadron was a Bristol Bloodhound Mark II surface to air missile unit; operating from several key bases in the United Kingdom and Headquartered at RAF West Raynhammarker in Norfolk. The Squadron continued to play a significant part in Air Defence operations as part of 11 Group RAF Strike Command until the 1990s. The collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the end of the Cold War period heralded wide sweeping changes in the United Kingdom's Air Defence needs. 85 Squadron was disbanded on 10 July 1991 and the Standard bearing the squadrons battle honours was interred and is in the safe keeping of Ely Cathedralmarker.

2007 marks the 90th Anniversary of No. 85 Squadron, its Association will meet in June to celebrate once again the rich history gained throughout the many years of service to the Nation and the Crown.

No. 85 Squadron has recently reformed as 85(R) squadron, based at RAF Church Fenton, teaching Elementary Flying Training in the Grob Tutor.

Commanding Officers



See also



References

Notes

Bibliography

  • 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. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1969 (new edition 1976, reprinted 1978). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.
  • Robinson, Anthony. RAF Fighter Squadrons in the Battle of Britain. London: Arms and Armour Press Ltd., 1987 (Reprinted in 1999 by Brockhampton Press, ISBN 1-86019-907-0.)


External links



From
To
Name
Aug 1917
Mar 1918
Maj. R.A. Archer
Mar 1918
Jun 1918
Maj. W.A. Bishop, VC, DSO & Bar, MC, DFC
Jun 1918
Aug 1918
Maj. E. Mannock, VC, DSO and two Bars, MC & Bar
Aug 1918
Jan 1919
Maj. C.M. Crowe
Jan 1919
Feb 1919
Maj. J.O. Leach
Jun 1938
Aug 1938
F/Lt. D.E. Turner
Aug 1938
Nov 1938
F/Lt. A.C.P. Carver
Nov 1938
Jan 1940
S/Ldr. D.F.W. Atcherley
Jan 1940
May 1940
S/Ldr. J.O.W. Oliver, DSO, DFC, CB
May 1940
May 1940
S/Ldr. M. Peacock
May 1940
Jun 1941
S/Ldr. P. Townsend, CVO, DSO, DFC and Bar
Jun 1941
Oct 1941
W/Cdr. A.T.D. Saunders
Nov 1941
May 1942
W/Cdr. R.K. Hamblin
May 1942
Jan 1943
W/Cdr. G.L. Raphael, DFC
Jan 1943
Mar 1944
W/Cdr. J. Cunningham, DSO, DFC
Mar 1944
Oct 1944
W/Cdr. C.M. Miller, DFC
Oct 1944
Jan 1945
W/Cdr. F.S. Gonsalves, DFC
Jan 1945
1948
W/Cdr. W.K. Davison
1948
S/Ldr. Gardner
Oct 1958
W/Cdr. L.G. Martin
Nov 1958
Mar 1960
W/Cdr. G.A. Martin, DFC, AFC
Mar 1960
Dec 1961
W/Cdr. S.J. Perkins, AFC
Dec 1961
W/Cdr. D.A.P. Saunders-Davies

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