The History of No. 264 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Many thanks to Pierre Lagacé.

His blog:

This story sparked my interest in part due to the obscure aircraft they used; the Boulton Paul Defiant.  This was an interesting, but badly flawed design, hearkening back to WW I tactics. More on this aircraft HERE

The History of No. 264 Night Fighter Squadron of the Royal Air Force

This is the story you will find on the RAF 264 Website. There are three versions.

Geoff Faulkner wrote version 3 in July 2004.

This is the original that I will use as a template for my ongoing research on unsung heroes, correcting typos along the way and adding photos.

“Whenever mention is made of No. 264 (N/F) Squadron the talk invariably turns to the Squadron’s claim of 37 enemy aircraft destroyed on the afternoon of May 29th, 1940, and though the survivors of this famous action KNOW that the figure is correct, there is no corroboration of their claim in the “Royal Air Force 1939/45”, Vol.1.”

There is nothing strange about this however.  For since the end of the war, we have witnessed a continual reduction in the claims of the “Fighter types” until by now, the absolute minimum must have been reached.  Any further reduction and, on some days, it could only mean that our chaps shot each other down.  And the proof that our figures are up the creek is, we are assured, to be found in German Records.  The Nazis, it seems, never lost any records when they were on the run, except those at Belsen, Dachau, etc.  Had none destroyed by bombs, and never stooped so low as to “cook the books” when it suited their purpose.  Strange, too, that all, those gallant lads who failed to return from Ops. and bomber escorts across the Channel went down empty-handed.  However, to get back to the point, if you believe those things then you accept the fact that “264” did not destroy 37 enemy aircraft on May 29th.

But do we believe them ?……..

Do we hell!

The R.A.F. historians approach the problem from the other end. They quote their own pilots first, and in some cases, add what was witnessed from the ground and then follow up with the enemy records.  The beginnings of history for No.264 Squadron can be traced back to a time when it is admitted that our own record keeping was not too good, to 1918, and, as a result, knowledge of its work is limited, to coastal and sea patrols in the Mediterranean. That it did serve for a few months is well-known, but it appears to have been disbanded by the end of the year.

Gone and forgotten, the Squadron remained off the active list until war came again, and towards the end of 1939 it began to re-form at Sutton Bridge — a well-known Armament Training Camp before the lights went out.

It was here in December, that Cpl. C.S. Bourne, of Kinestanding, Birmingham joined them, and they were then employed in a training role and had 3 Magisters on strength.

“From Sutton Bridge” continues Cpl. Bourne, “We moved to Martlesham Heath to crack on with our training, Fairey Battles were added to our strength early in 1940, then Defiants, and it was here that S/Ldr. P. Hunter took over. My promotion to Sgt. came through before we became operational and moved to Duxford to work alongside No.25 Squadron.

The war moved from Norway to the Low Countries and France, and I remember only too well the early hour in the morning, it was around 5.00 hrs. And we were waiting for the dawn patrol to return, when the C.O. informed me that I was to be ready to fly to Manston in an hour’s time with 2 fitters, 2 riggers, some armourers and a few ACH/GDs, to set up an advanced base for the squadron.  Lobbing in at Manston we were soon caught up in the organised chaos and to try and describe just the difficulties caused by the shortage of petrol bowsers would take pages.  From here our crews were doing 3 sorties a day and then returning to Duxford at night.  Always raring to go, I can well remember the day when they shot down 37 enemy aircraft – and the day when practically the whole of “B” Flight failed to return, I remained at Manston until the evacuation of Dunkirk was complete, then left the squadron on posting to Kirton Lindsey around September, 1940.”

Much more at SOURCE

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