A dragon-ship under sail, oars in action
History of 232 Squadron:
No 232 Squadron was formed on 20 August 1918 from Nos.333, 334 and 335 Flights of the seaplane station at Felixstowe and was engaged in anti-submarine and reconnaissance patrols until the Armistice. The squadron disbanded on 5 January 1919.
On 17 July 1940, B flight of No.3 Squadron at Sumburgh was redesignated No.232 Squadron. Hurricanes were flown on defensive duties in the north of Scotland and on 16 December it was brought up to full strength. In April 1941, the squadron became non-operational for transfer overseas, embarking on 10 May. No.232's pilots were at that engaged in ferrying duties and its ground echelon remained afloat until disembarked on 6 June. Becoming operational again in north-east England, the squadron finally left for the Middle East in November. By the time the convoy arrived in South Africa, the Japanese had attacked the Far East and No.232 was diverted to Singapore. On 13 January 1942, the ground echelon disembarked at Singapore but the squadron's pilots were embarked in HMS 'Indomitable' two days later and flown off to Java on 27 January from a point 50 miles south of Christmas Island, as the Singapore airfields had become untenable. Air and Ground echelons were reunited at Palembang in Sumatra on 2 February but the Japanese landings forced a withdrawal to Java on 15 February. No.232's Hurricanes were serviced by No.242 Squadron until they merged with the latter unit while the squadron's ground echelon was evacuated to Ceylon, where it dispersed among other units on arrival.
On 10 April 1942, No.232 reformed at Atcham with Spitfires and became operational on 30 May. Moving south in August, the squadron flew its first sweep over France on 17 August. In November No.232 sailed for North Africa, being joined by its aircraft from Gibraltar at the end of December. Fighter patrols and ground attack and escort missions occupied the squadron for the rest of the North African campaign and in June 1943 it moved to Malta to cover the landings in Sicily. Moving to captured airfields there, the squadron covered the Salerno landings before moving to Italy in September. In December, No232 moved to the Lebanon for local air defence duties, and after re-equipping with Spitfire IXs arrived in Corsica in April 1944. After providing fighter cover for the landings in southern France, the squadron moved there behind the invasion force but early in October left for Naples where it was disbanded on 31 October 1944.
On 15 November 1944, No.232 reformed at Stoney Cross as a transport squadron with an establishment of twenty-five Wellingtons XVIs. On 6 January 1945, its aircrews were transferred to form Nos.243 Rear Echelon and No.1315 Flight and its Wellingtons passed to No.242 Squadron in February. In their place came Liberators which left for India on 14 February. These were supplemented by Skymasters for maintaining a Ceylon-Australia service, while other transport flights were carried out in South East Asia by Liberators. The Australian service terminating at Sydney began in August but the Skymasters were returned to the UK in February and March 1946, being replaced by Lancastrians. Conversion training was carried out in the UK while Liberators maintained services in India until the Squadron disbanded on 15 August 1946, civil airlines having become established on the air routes in South-East Asia.