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.
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
Photographs Copyright © Paul Radford 2011