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Compiled and Copyright © Paul Radford 2011

The 202 Squadron RAF and can be found in the Anglican Cathedral, Cathedral Square, Gibraltar. The Squadron Motto is Semper Vigilate - "Be Always Vigilant" and the crest is "A Mallard Alighting" as a reference to the naval and flying boat history. The memorial takes the form of a wooden board incised with black lettering, affixed to the internal wall of the Cathedral, listing all those lost from the squadron when based in Gibraltar. A list of all men from 202 Squadron who died in World War 2 can be generated from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

Like its sister unit, No 201 Squadron, No 202 can trace its history back to the early days of naval aviation. It was formed at Eastchurch on 17 October 1914, and employed a motley selection of types on operations against Belgian ports and anti-Zeppelin patrols. The unit was swallowed up by No 2 Wing, RNAS in June 1915, but reformed from 'B' Squadron, No 1 Wing, RNAS, on 5 November 1916 at St Pol in France with Farman F40s which were used for reconnaissance over Belgium. These were replaced by DH4s in March 1917, and even after the unit became No 202 Squadron, RAF on 1 April 1918, it continued its bombing and patrol duties over southern Belgium. After the Armistice, the Squadron's aircraft were dispersed amongst other squadrons and No 202 disbanded in January 1920.

The Squadron briefly reformed in Egypt between April 1920 and May 1921 before inter-service rivalries and economies eventually won. On 1 January 1929, No 481 Flight flying Fairey IIID floatplanes out of Kalafrana, Malta was redesignated No 202 (Flying Boat) Squadron. Flying boats in the shape of Scapas did not arrive until 1935 but these were replaced two years later by Londons. The Squadron was placed on a high state of alert during the Spanish Civil War and Munich Crisis, but both incidents passed uneventfully. Within days of the Second World War starting, the unit moved to Gibraltar and took over a number of Swordfish floatplanes. Both types were involved in a series of clashes with the Vichy French Forces and these continued until 1941 when the first Catalinas arrived. After participating in the invasion of North Africa in the autumn of 1942, the unit moved to Lough Erne, Northern Ireland and began anti-submarine patrols over the Atlantic before disbanding on 12 June 1945.

On 1 October 1946, No 518 Squadron based at Aldergrove with specially modified Halifaxes was renumbered No 202 Squadron. Its aircraft were flown on daily weather reconnaissance patrols over the North Atlantic until the Squadron converted to Hastings' in October 1950. The Hastings continued until 1964 hen the first weather satellites became available and the Squadron disbanded. A month later, the unit was reformed following the renumbering of No 228 Squadron Leconfield and the unit took over its search and rescue duties with Whirlwind helicopters. In 1978 the aircraft were replaced by Sea Kings, and a central maintenance facility was established at Finningley.

When RAF Finningley closed in 1989, the central element moved to Boulmer and on 01 Apr 2008, the Squadron Headquarters relocated to RAF Valley. Today, the Squadron operates a series of three Flights, of two aircraft at a number of stations around the coast. Detached Flights are currently based at Boulmer ('A' Flight), Lossiemouth ('D' Flight) and Leconfield ('E' Flight).

All Photographs Copyright © Paul Radford 2011

Last updated 16 August, 2019

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