Mediterranean Beach Units

Following the successful completion of Operation “BAYTOWN” and Operation “AVALANCHE” there was a review of the requirements for an R.A.F. element that could be included in beach organisation for further amphibious assault landings in the Mediterranean theatre.

Wing Commander R.D. George, the R.A.F.’s Senior Movements Staff Officer at Northwest African Tactical Air Force Headquarters, played a major part in the review and reorganisation of the R.A.F. beach units. He spent a great deal of time interviewing personnel and making recommendations on the organisation and duties of R.A.F. beach units.

Nos. 68 & 69 R.A.F. Beach Units returned to the U.K via North Africa. The R.A.F. Components of the Beach Bricks formed in the Middle East and the Auxiliary Embarkation Units formed in North Africa were disbanded at the end of October 1943.

In their place a new R.A.F. Beach Group was formed for the Central Mediterranean Force. The new R.A.F. Beach Group had a Headquarters and three constituent Bricks, numbered 81, 82 and 83. It was under the administrative and operational control of Northwest African Tactical Air Force (N.A.T.A.F.).

The R.A.F. Beach Group was based in the Naples area from November 1943 and kept itself busy waiting to see what operations it would become involved in. It was not required for Operation “SHINGLE”, the assault landings at Anzio (D-Day 22nd January 1944). The Anzio beach-head was within reasonable range of existing bases for fighter aircraft. Advanced Landing Grounds were not required there and therefore R.A.F. beach units were not needed.

At the end of January 1944, the R.A.F. Beach Group of the Central Mediterranean Force was renamed No. 5 R.A.F. Beach Unit and its sub-units, Nos. 81, 82 and 83 Bricks became Nos. 109, 110 and 111 Beach Sections. These changes of name were made to conform to the naming standards adopted in the U.K. where the R.A.F. beach units current at that time were Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 Beach Units made up of Beach Sections numbered from 101 to 108.

No. 5 R.A.F. Beach Unit remained in the Naples area in the first quarter of 1944 and then assisted with the move of U.S. XII T.A.C. units to Corsica from April 1944 to the beginning of July, working in the Corsican ports, Ajaccio, Bastia and Porto Vecchio. Ultimately, No. 5 R.A.F. Beach Unit was to take part in the amphibious assault landings in the South of France in August 1944 (Operation “DRAGOON”).

No. 5 Beach Unit was the last of the R.AF.’s European beach units in existence, returning to the Naples area to be disbanded in October 1944.