UK Beach Squadrons April – August 1944

In April 1944, Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 R.A.F. Beach Units, assigned to 2nd Tactical Air Force for Operation “OVERLORD” were renamed Beach Squadrons and their constituent Beach Sections were renamed Beach Flights.

On 5th April the Air Ministry directed that personnel were to wear War Service Dress (Blue) on operations on the Continent. This meant that the men of the Beach Squadrons stopped wearing khaki battledress and were issued with new R.A.F. blue battledress instead. The units had already been authorised to fly the R.A.F. Ensign on the Continent.

Nos. 1, 2 and 4 Beach Squadrons continued with their preparations for Operation “OVERLORD”  alongside their Army and Navy colleagues. The invasion forces were now concentrating in Southern England. Nos. 1, 2 and 4 Beach Squadrons were all to participate in Exercise “FABIUS” at the beginning of May 1944, the final rehearsal before the Invasion.

No. 1 R.A.F. Beach Squadron had returned from Exercise ‘LEAPYEAR’ held in the Burghead area and then travelled down from Inverness to new locations in Hampshire (HQ and 101 Beach Flight) and West Sussex (102 Beach Flight). For Operation “OVERLORD”, 101 Beach Flight were to sail from Portsmouth and Newhaven with Naval Assault Force S, some landing ‘First Tide’ and some ‘Second Tide’. 102 Beach Flight were to embark at the Port of London and land ‘Third Tide’.

No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Squadron remained based in the Hampshire area. For Operation “OVERLORD”, they mostly embarked at Portsmouth and Southampton to sail with Naval Assault Force J, but some elements sailed from Tilbury.

No. 4 R.A.F. Beach Squadron was located in the Southampton area. For Operation “OVERLORD”, while some elements of the Squadron embarked there to land ‘First Tide’ with Naval Assault Force G, the bulk of the unit switched location to the Ipswich area later in May and embarked at Felixstowe to land ‘Second Tide’ as part of Naval Assault Force L .

No. 3 R.A.F Beach Squadron remained in reserve based at R.A.F. Station Old Sarum.

Nos. 1, 2 and 4 Beach Squadrons were in Normandy from D-Day, 6th June until the end of August 1944. At this time, with no further need for them foreseen, all four 2nd T.A.F. Beach Squadrons were disbanded.

To learn more about the four 2nd T.A.F. Beach Squadrons, click on the links (above) for each of the Squadrons.