No. 500 Squadron RAF


No. 500 (County of Kent) Squadron RAuxAF
Active16 Mar 1931 – 11 Jul 1944
1 Aug 1944 – 23 Oct 1945
10 May 1946 – 10 Mar 1957
CountryUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
BranchEnsign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Part ofRoyal Auxiliary Air Force
Nickname(s)County of Kent
Motto(s)Latin: Quo fata vocent
(Translation: "Whither the fates may call")[1][2][3][4]
Battle honoursChannel and North Sea, 1939–41
Biscay ports, 1941
Atlantic, 1941–42
North Africa, 1942–43
Mediterranean, 1942–44
Italy, 1944–45.[5]
These honours are all emblazoned on the squadron standard
Honorary Air CommodoresThe Duke of Kent[6]
Anthony Eden[7]
Denis Spotswood
Squadron Badge heraldryA horse forcene[4]
The white horse of Kent was adopted to commemorate the squadron's association with that country[2][3]
Squadron CodesSQ (Apr 1939 – Sep 1939)[8][9]
MK (Sep 1939 – Apr 1944)[10][11]
RAA (May 1946 – 1950)[12][13]
S7 (1950–1951)[14][15]
Post-1950 squadron roundelRAF 500 Sqn.svg

No. 500 (County of Kent) Squadron AAF was a Royal Air Force flying squadron. It was initially formed in 1931 as a Special Reserve squadron and in 1936 became part of the Auxiliary Air Force, at this time based at Manston and Detling.

During the Second World War, the squadron served in both Coastal Command and Bomber Command. In the coastal role, the squadron undertook operations over the English Channel in 1940–1941, before moving to North Africa in late 1942. It undertook anti-submarine operations in support of Operation Torch and then continued operations in the Mediterranean, operating various aircraft types during this period. In July 1944, the squadron disbanded before being reformed as a bomber squadron in Algeria in August, later operating in Italy in the final years of the war.

Following the war, the squadron was disbanded in October 1945. In May 1946, it was re-formed as an auxiliary squadron within Fighter Command. Initially it operated in the night fighter role and then later as a day fighter unit equipped with jet aircraft before being disbanded in 1957.


Formation and early years

The Squadron was formed at RAF Manston on 16 March 1931 as the first[16] Special Reserve night-bomber squadron with Vickers Virginia Mk.X aircraft. On 25 May 1936 the role changed to day-bombing and the squadron became part of the Auxiliary Air Force, flying Hawker Harts, later replaced with Hawker Hinds.[2][4]

To Coastal Command

On 7 November 1938 the squadron saw another role change as it was transferred to RAF Coastal Command and became a general reconnaissance squadron as part of 16 Group. It re-equipped with Avro Anson Mk. I twin-engine monoplanes from March 1939.[3] The outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 saw the squadron deployed on patrols and convoy escort operations off the coast of Essex and East Anglia, transferring to operations over the English Channel in January 1940.[17] The Battle of France saw 500's aircraft being involved in increasingly heavy action, covering the evacuation of British and French troops from Dunkirk, and attacking German-held harbours.[3][18] In the night of 30/31 May a 500 Squadron Anson crash-landed at the squadron's base at RAF Detling on returning from a raid on the Channel ports. The aircraft caught fire, and Corporal Daphne Pearson, a member of the WAAF was awarded the George Cross for rescuing the pilot from the burning aircraft before it exploded.[19] On 1 June, three of the squadron's Ansons were patrolling off Dunkirk when they came under attack by as many as nine German Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters. The Ansons had been modified to improve their armament by adding two beam machine guns, and one of the Ansons claimed two Bf 109s shot down.[20] While the squadron further modified the armament of some of its Ansons in August for use against German E-boats by adding a 20 mm cannon firing through the floor, it was increasingly deployed on convoy escort duties.[21][22]

In April 1941 the Ansons were replaced with Bristol Blenheims which were deployed on anti-shipping and air-sea rescue duties, as well as night intruder operations over German-occupied Europe.[21] The squadron moved from Detling to RAF Bircham Newton in May that year and converted to Lockheed Hudsons in November 1941.[21][23] In March 1942, the squadron moved to RAF Stornoway in Scotland, with detachments at Limavady in Northern Ireland for anti-submarine patrols over the Western Approaches.[21] It moved again in at the end of August to RAF St Eval in Cornwall, but this was only a brief stopover before moving to Gibraltar on 5 November 1942 in preparation for the Allied invasion of French North-West Africa.[21][23]

Mediterranean operations

The Allied landings saw 500 Squadron being very heavily deployed to protect the invasion shipping, making many attacks against German submarines attempting to interfere with the landings.[21] On 8 November, half of the 500 Squadron ground crew landed along the beaches of Algeria, Oran and Arzeu, after having been dispatched to the Clyde River to board the SS Strathallan. The Strathallan made a second trip, also carrying 500 Squadron members but was sunk by a U-boat off Oran. Meanwhile, also on the first day of the landings, the squadron flew patrols in their newly painted, desert colours, Hudsons.[24] These were mainly over the invasion beaches at Oran, with one of its Hudsons slightly damaged by gunfire from a German Heinkel He 111 bomber.[25] On 11 September the Squadron established an advanced base at Tafraoui near Oran, Algeria,[21] and on the same day, one of the squadron's Hudsons claimed a Junkers Ju 52 transport shot down near Alboran Island.[26][a] On 13 November, a 500 Squadron Hudson attacked the German submarine U-458 with depth charges and machine gun fire, badly damaging it and forcing it to return to base.[28] The next day, six 500 Squadron Hudsons attacked the German submarine U-595, which had been damaged earlier in the day by aircraft from 608 Squadron north of Oran and was unable to dive. U-595 survived, and four of the Hudsons were hit by anti-aircraft fire from the submarine, but as a result of the damage, U-595's commander deliberately ran the submarine aground.[29] Also that day, U-411 was sunk by one of the squadron's Hudsons west of Gibraltar.[30] On 15 November one of the squadron's aircraft bombed and sunk U-259. The explosion badly damaged the Hudson, forcing it to ditch, with only two of the aircraft's crew being rescued.[31][32] Two more U-boats were attacked that day,[33] and another on 16 November.[34] On 17 November, an attack by three 500 Squadron Hudsons badly damaged U-331, which signalled surrender, but the submarine was sunk by a Fleet Air Arm Albacore torpedo bomber, which was unaware of U-331's surrender.[31] On 17 December, one of the squadron's Hudsons attacked an Italian submarine without result, while another shot down an Italian Cant Z.1007 bomber.[35] On 27 December, one of the squadron's Hudsons attacked the German submarine U-73, but was badly damaged by anti-aircraft fire from the U-boat, and was forced to ditch.[36]

The squadron's aircraft continued to fly anti-submarine patrols over the Mediterranean, sinking U-83 on 4 March 1943.[37] On the night of 23/24 April, a Hudson was badly damaged while attacking U-453, the pilot being killed. The aircraft was flown back to base by its radio operator, where the surviving crew bailed out.[38] In late September 1943, and working closely with the Special Operations Executive (SOE), who were also stationed at La Senia developing underwing rockets and radar for the Hudsons, a Hudson and crew from 500 Squadron was chosen to fly into occupied Corsica at Ghisonaccia Gare aerodrome, with the orders to "establish squatters' rights" under the command of Colonel McKenzie of 458 Squadron.[39] Later, from December 1943, the squadron's Hudsons began to be replaced with Lockheed Venturas. This process continued until the squadron was completely equipped with them in April 1944.[21] The squadron operated from a range of bases over the Western Mediterranean, including bases on Sicily, mainland Italy and Corsica.[21][23] On 17 May 1944, the German submarine U-960 launched an unsuccessful torpedo attack against the American destroyer USS Ellyson off Mers-el-Kébir, which resulted in a large-scale air and sea operation to hunt the submarine, involving five American destroyers and saturation air cover from the Wellingtons of 36 Squadron and the Venturas of 500 Squadron. Early on 19 May the submarine was spotted by a Wellington, which directed the destroyers USS Ludlow and USS Niblack as they carried out a sustained series of depth charge attacks that drove the submarine to the surface. The submarine was then bombed by a Ventura of 500 Squadron and shelled by the two destroyers before being sunk by Niblack.[40][41] The squadron disbanded on 11 July 1944, handing over its Venturas to No. 27 Squadron SAAF.[2][42]

Back in Bomber Command

The Squadron was reformed on 1 August 1944 at La Sénia as a bomber squadron, employing many of the personnel of the squadron's previous incarnation. It operated Martin Baltimore light bombers as part of the Desert Air Force, flying from bases in Italy by day and later by night for the remainder of the war in Europe. In September 1945, No. 500 Squadron left Italy and headed for Kenya, being renumbered on arrival 23 October 1945 at RAF Eastleigh to No. 249 Squadron RAF.[2][43][44] During World War II the squadron members had been awarded with 1 GC,[45] 2 DSOs, 21 DFCs, 1 bar the DFC, 9 DFMs and one CGM. Beside these, the squadron was mentioned in dispatches 25 times.[5]

Gloster Meteor preserved wearing the postwar unit markings of No. 500 Squadron.

To Fighter Command

The Squadron was reformed again on 10 May 1946 at RAF West Malling, equipped with Mosquito NF.19s and later NF.30s, as a night fighter squadron in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. Later, following an Air Ministry decision to convert all RAuxAF units to day fighter roles, the squadron became equipped with Meteor F.3s.[46] The squadron disbanded finally on 10 March 1957, along with all other flying squadrons of the RAuxAF.[4][47][48]

Notable squadron members

Aircraft operated

Aircraft operated by no. 500 Squadron RAuxAF[49][21][50][51][52]
From To Aircraft Version
March 1931 January 1936 Vickers Virginia Mk.X
January 1936 May 1937 Hawker Hart
February 1937 March 1939 Hawker Hind
March 1939 April 1941 Avro Anson Mk.I.
April 1941 November 1941 Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV
November 1941 April 1944 Lockheed Hudson Mks.III, V.
December 1943 July 1944 Lockheed Ventura Mk.V
September 1944 February 1945 Martin Baltimore Mk.IV
September 1944 October 1945 Martin Baltimore Mk.V
February 1947 August 1947 de Havilland Mosquito NF.19
April 1947 October 1948 de Havilland Mosquito NF.30
May 1948 October 1948 Supermarine Spitfire F.22
July 1948 October 1951 Gloster Meteor F.3
July 1951 February 1952 Gloster Meteor F.4
November 1951 March 1957 Gloster Meteor F.8

Squadron bases

Bases and airfields used by no. 500 Squadron AAF, data from[2][21][50][51][53]
From To Base
16 March 1931 28 September 1938 RAF Manston, Kent
28 September 1938 30 July 1939 RAF Detling, Kent
30 July 1939 13 August 1939 RAF Warmwell, Dorset
13 August 1939 30 May 1941 RAF Detling, Kent
30 May 1941 2 April 1942 RAF Bircham Newton, Norfolk
2 April 1942 31 August 1942 RAF Stornoway, Western Isles, Scotland
31 August 1942 5 November 1942 RAF St Eval, Cornwall
5 November 1942 11 November 1942 RAF Gibraltar
11 November 1942 19 November 1942 RAF Tafaraoui, Algeria
19 November 1942 3 May 1943 RAF Blida, Algeria
3 May 1943 6 January 1944 RAF Tafaraoui, Algeria
28 September 1943 January 1944 RAF Ghisonaccia Gare, Corsica
6 January 1944 11 July 1944 RAF La Senia, Algeria
1 August 1944 24 August 1944 RAF La Senia
24 August 1944 14 September 1944 en route to Italy
14 September 1944 15 October 1944 Pescara, Italy
15 October 1944 9 December 1944 Perugia, Italy
9 December 1944 10 May 1945 Cesenatico, Italy
10 May 1945 28 September 1945 RAF Eastleigh, Kenya
10 May 1946 10 March 1957 RAF West Malling, Kent

Commanding officers

Officers commanding no. 500 Squadron RAuxAF, data from[21][54]
From To Name
March 1931 July 1931 S/Ldr. S.R. Watkins, AFC
July 1931 July 1933 W/Cdr. L.F. Forbes, MC
July 1933 May 1935 W/Cdr. R. Halley, DFC, AFC
May 1935 April 1936 S/Ldr. G.M. Lawson, MC
April 1936 October 1936 F/Lt. W.G. Wooliams
October 1936 October 1939 S/Ldr. G.K. Hohler, Aux.AF
October 1939 June 1940 S/Ldr. W. LeMay, Aux.AF
June 1940 March 1941 W/Cdr. G.H. Turner
March 1941 July 1941 W/Cdr. M.Q. Candler
July 1941 April 1942 W/Cdr. G.T. Gilbert
April 1942 April 1943 W/Cdr. D.F. Spotswood, DSO, DFC
April 1943 April 1944 W/Cdr. D.G. Keddie
April 1944 June 1944 W/Cdr. C.K. Bonner
June 1944 July 1944 W/Cdr. C.E.A. Garton
July 1944 August 1945 W/Cdr. H.N. Garbett
August 1945 October 1945 W/Cdr. Matson
August 1946 February 1949 S/Ldr. P. Green, OBE, AFC, R.Aux.AF
February 1949 March 1952 S/Ldr. M.C. Kennard, DFC, R.Aux.AF
March 1952 August 1954 S/Ldr. D. de Villiers, R.Aux.AF
August 1954 October 1954 S/Ldr. D.M. Clause
October 1954 March 1957 S/Ldr. D.H.M. Chandler

See also



  1. ^ Owing to the location, far from German supply routes, it is possible this may have been a neutral Spanish aircraft en route between mainland Spain and Spanish Morocco.[27]
  1. ^ Hunt 1972, p. 327.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Moyes 1976, p. 262.
  3. ^ a b c d Rawlings 1982, p. 225
  4. ^ a b c d Halley 1988, p. 388.
  5. ^ a b Brooks 1982, p. 156
  6. ^ Hunt 1972, p. 314.
  7. ^ Brooks 1982, p. 138
  8. ^ Bowyer & Rawlings 1979, p. 14
  9. ^ Flintham & Thomas 2003, p. 51
  10. ^ Bowyer & Rawlings 1979, p. 72
  11. ^ Flintham & Thomas 2003, p. 90.
  12. ^ Bowyer & Rawlings 1979, p. 138.
  13. ^ Flintham & Thomas 2003, p. 184.
  14. ^ Bowyer & Rawlings 1979, p. 95.
  15. ^ Flintham & Thomas 2003, p. 156.
  16. ^ Hunt 1972, p. 313.
  17. ^ Rawlings 1982, pp. 225–226
  18. ^ Brooks 2019, pp. 49–50
  19. ^ Brooks 2019, pp. 50–51
  20. ^ Brooks 2019, pp. 51–52
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Rawlings 1982, p. 226
  22. ^ Brooks 2019, p. 226
  23. ^ a b c Halley 1980, p. 302
  24. ^ R.Brooks 'Kent's Own' / Squadron Records / Logbook F.Bennett, 500 Squadron
  25. ^ Shores et al. 2016, pp. 65–66
  26. ^ Shores et al. 2016, pp. 98, 100
  27. ^ Shores et al. 2016, p. 98
  28. ^ Blair 2000, p. 99
  29. ^ Blair 2000, p. 100
  30. ^ Blair 2000, p. 113
  31. ^ a b Blair 2000, p. 101
  32. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-259 from 5 Nov 1942 to 15 Nov 1942". Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  33. ^ Shores et al. 2016, p. 117
  34. ^ Shores et al. 2016, p. 121
  35. ^ Shores et al. 2016, pp. 204–205
  36. ^ Shores et al. 2016, p. 220
  37. ^ Blair 2000, p. 213
  38. ^ Shores et al. 2016, p. 532
  39. ^ J.Pullen and C. Chapple 'RAF 100 Cookbook' / Squadron Records / Logbook F.Bennett, 500 Squadron
  40. ^ Rohwer & Hümmelchen 1992, p. 277
  41. ^ Blair 2000, pp. 525–526
  42. ^ Halley 1988, pp. 388, 549
  43. ^ Halley 1988, pp. 318, 388.
  44. ^ Brooks 1982, p. 136.
  45. ^ Brooks 1982, pp. 46–47, 68–69.
  46. ^ Bowyer 1984, p. 113.
  47. ^ Barrass, M. B. (2016). "No. 500–520 Squadron Histories". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  48. ^ Jefford 2001, p. 96.
  49. ^ Moyes 1976, pp. 262–263
  50. ^ a b Brooks 1982, p. 157
  51. ^ a b Jefford 2001, pp. 95–96
  52. ^ Rawlings 1976, pp. 454–455
  53. ^ Rawlings 1976, p. 454.
  54. ^ Brooks 1982, p. 155.


  • Blair, Clay (2000). Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunted, 1942–1945. New York: Modern Library. ISBN 0-679-64033-9.
  • Bowyer, Chaz (1984). Mosquito Squadrons of the Royal Air Force. Shepperton, Surrey, UK: Ian Allan Ltd. ISBN 0-7110-1425-6.
  • Bowyer, Michael J. F.; Rawlings, John D. R. (1979). Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Brooks, Robin (January 2019). "Annie Get Your Gun". Aeroplane. Vol. 47 no. 1. pp. 48–52. ISSN 0143-7240.
  • Brooks, Robin J. (1982). Kent's Own: The History of 500 (County of Kent) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force. Rainham, Kent, UK: Meresborough Books. ISBN 0-905270-54-1.
  • Flintham, Vic; Thomas, Andrew (2003). Combat Codes: A Full Explanation and Listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied Air Force Unit Codes Since 1938. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
  • Halley, James J. (1980). The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air Britain (Historians). ISBN 0-85130-083-9.
  • Halley, James J. (1988). The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Hunt, Leslie (1972). Twenty-one Squadrons: History of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, 1925–57. London: Garnstone Press. ISBN 0-85511-110-0.
  • Jefford, C. G. (2001). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife Publishing. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Moyes, Philip J. R. (1976). Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd. ISBN 0-354-01027-1.
  • Rawlings, John D. R. (1982). Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.
  • Rawlings, John D. R. (1976). Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd. ISBN 0-354-01028-X.
  • Rohwer, Jürgen; Hümmelchen, Gerhard (1992). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945. London: Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-85367-117-7.
  • Shores, Christopher; Massimello, Giovanni; Guest, Russell; Olynyk, Frank; Bock, Winfried (2016). A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940–1945: Volume Three: Tunisia and the End in Africa: November 1942 – May 1943. London: Grub Street. ISBN 978-1-910690-00-0.

External links

  • Official squadron history
  • Bases of no. 500 squadron
  • History of No.'s 500–520 Squadrons at RAF Web
  • Aircraft and markings of No. 500 squadron on RAF Web