No. 656 Squadron RAF


No. 656 Squadron RAF
Active31 Dec 1942 – 15 Jan 1947
29 Jun 1948 – 1 Sep 1957
CountryUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
BranchEnsign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
RoleAir Observation Post Squadron
Motto(s)Latin: Volans et videns
(Translation: "Flying and seeing")[1]
Squadron Badge heraldryIn front of two gun barrels in saltire, a Chinthe head[1]
Aircraft flown
Reconnaissancede Havilland Tiger Moth
Auster AOP.6
Auster AOP.9

No. 656 Squadron RAF was an Air Observation Post unit of the Royal Air Force in India and Burma during the Second World War and afterwards in British Malaya. Numbers 651 to 663 Squadron of the RAF were Air Observation Post units working closely with British Army units in artillery spotting and liaison. Their duties and squadron numbers were transferred to the Army with the formation of the Army Air Corps on 1 September 1957[2][3] With this it became 656 Light Aircraft Squadron Army Air Corps.


Formation and World War II

No. 656 Squadron was formed at RAF Westley on 31 December 1942.[4] It embarked for India in August 1943 and went into action during the Burma campaign with the Fourteenth Army. Several officers were decorated, among them Captain Edward Maslen-Jones who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Military Cross.[5]

The squadron was to take part in the Allied invasion of Malaya, but the Japanese surrendered before this took place and the squadron disbanded on 15 January 1947.

Reformation and Operation Firedog

An Auster Mk.V, restored in wartime colours.

The squadron reformed from No. 1914 Flight RAF on 29 June 1948 at Sembawang in Malaya and served in British Malaya to support Army and Police against Communist guerillas before it went over to Army control in September 1957. 656 Squadron performed a total of 143,000 operations in Malaya during Operation Firedog.

No. 1914 Air Observation Post Flight was formed within 656 Squadron.[6]

Aircraft operated

An AOP.9 at Farnborough, September 1956.
Aircraft operated by no. 656 Squadron RAF, data from[7][8]
From To Aircraft Variant
January 1943 August 1943 de Havilland Tiger Moth Mk.II
January 1943 March 1943 Auster Mk.I
February 1943 August 1943 Auster Mk.III
November 1943 June 1945 Auster Mk.III
October 1944 June 1945 Auster Mk.IV
February 1945 January 1947 Auster Mk.V
June 1948 May 1951 Auster AOP.5
July 1950 April 1956 Auster AOP.6
September 1955 September 1957 Auster AOP.9



  1. ^ a b Halley 1988, pp. 445–446.
  2. ^ Halley 1988, p. 444.
  3. ^ Jefford 2001, pp. 102–105.
  4. ^ Maslen-Jones 1997, pp. 4 and 172.
  5. ^ Michael Ashcroft (13 September 2012). Heroes of the Skies. Headline. ISBN 978-0-7553-6391-9.
  6. ^ Lake 1999, p. 100.
  7. ^ Halley 1988, p. 447.
  8. ^ Jefford 2001, pp. 103–104.


  • Flintham, Vic; Thomas, Andrew (2003). Combat Codes: A Full Explanation and Listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied Air Force Unit Codes since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
  • 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.
  • Jefford, C.G. (2001). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912 (2nd ed.). Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Lake, Alan (1999). Flying units of the RAF. Shrewsbury: Airlife. ISBN 1-84037-086-6.
  • Maslen-Jones, E.W., MC, DFC. (1997). Fire by Order: Recollections of Service with 656 Air Observation Post Squadron in Burma. Barnsley, UK: Leo Cooper/Pen And Sword Books. ISBN 0-85052-557-8.
  • Warner, Guy (2013). From Auster to Apache: The history of 656 Squadron RAF/AAC 1942-2012. Barnsley, UK: Pen And Sword Books. ISBN 978-1-78159-098-0.

External links

  • 656 Squadron, Army Air Corps
  • Squadron histories for nos. 651–670 squadron on RAFWeb
  • 656 Squadron Association