No. 609 Squadron
Badge: In front of two hunting horns in saltire, a rose. The white rose was adopted to show the connection with Yorkshire, whilst the horns are indicative of the squadron's role.
No 609 Squadron was formed on 10 February 1936 at Yeadon as a day bomber unit of the Auxiliary Air Force. It began to receive Harts in June and these were replaced by Hinds before the squadron was redesignated a fighter unit on 8 December 1938. No fighters were received until the arrival of Spitfires at the end of August 1939, with war only days away.
After defensive duties in the north, No 609 moved to south-east England in May 1940 and flew patrols over Dunkirk to cover the evacuation of the BEF. It remained in the south throughout the Battle of Britain and began taking part in offensive sweeps over France in February 1941. In April 1942, Typhoons started to arrive and began operations on 30 June, being used mainly for defesive patrols. Day and night intruder sorties began to be flown in November and on joining Second TAF in March 1944, No.609 adopted rockets as its main weapons. In preparation for the invasion of Europe, the squadron attacked enemy communications and radar stations, moving to Normandy in June to provide the 21st Army Group with air support. After the breakout from the beachhead, the squadron moved forward to the Low Countries and for the rest of the war flew armed reconnaissance sweeps over Germany. On 15 September 1945, the squadron was disbanded.
Reformed initially at Church Fenton as part of the post-war Auxiliary Air Force on 10 May 1946, No.609 was designated a night fighter squadron. Moving to Yeadon in September 1946, it did not receive an operational aircraft until June 1947, giving up its Mosquitoes in 1948 on becoming a day fighter unit. In October 1950, Vampires were received to replace Spitfires, but in December the first Meteors arrived and these were flown until disbandment on 10 March 1957.
REFORMATION OF 609 (West Riding) SQN RAuxAF
609 (West Riding) Sqn was reformed on 1 Oct 99, the Sqn ‘number plate' being resurrected and awarded to the Air Defence Support Squadron, RAuxAF (ADSS), which itself had been formed just over a year earlier on 1 Jul 98 at RAF Leeming near Northallerton in North Yorkshire, a major base and home to a Tornado F3 Wing.
The ADSS had been raised as one of the new RAuxAF Support Squadrons within the Royal Air Force and its role was to provide trained personnel to augment and support the RAF during prolonged operations, both in the UK and overseas, during times of crisis and war. The concept was that the Sqn would be manned by Reservists of many different trades: administrators, suppliers, caterers, survival equipment specialists, RAF Regt gunners, flight operations assistants and ground equipment technicians to name several and this pool of trained manpower would be available to assist the regular RAF. A small team of permanent staff carry out day to day running of the unit, together with the trade training of the Reservists.
The role and concept remained the same when the ADSS became 609 (West Riding) Sqn, but over the next few years some of the broad spectrum of trades were abolished and new Force Protection (FP) disciplines were introduced. It was in the FP role that 609 Sqn personnel went to war, when the Sqn was mobilised in Jan 2003 in support of operations in the Gulf and since then other personnel have been mobilised for permanent service to join regular RAF Sqns overseas.
Today's Squadron recruits almost exclusively RAF Regiment Gunners and are integral part of No 2 FP Wing together with their regular counterparts.
There are no aircraft today but the spirit of those wartime days lives on in the present Squadron. As one of the most famous, if not the most famous of Auxiliary Squadrons, there is a proud tradition to live up to and today's personnel relish this challenge with enthusiasm.
For further information on the Sqn and recruiting matters see https://www.raf.mod.uk/recruitment/lifestyle-benefits/life-as-a-reserve/.