No. 502 Squadron RAF

No. 502 Squadron RAF

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No. 502 Squadron was a Royal Auxiliary Air Force
Royal Auxiliary Air Force
The Royal Auxiliary Air Force , originally the Auxiliary Air Force , is the voluntary active duty reserve element of the Royal Air Force, providing a primary reinforcement capability for the regular service...

 squadron
Squadron (aviation)
A squadron in air force, army aviation or naval aviation is mainly a unit comprising a number of military aircraft, usually of the same type, typically with 12 to 24 aircraft, sometimes divided into three or four flights, depending on aircraft type and air force...

 that saw service in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

Formation and early years


No. 502 squadron was originally formed on 15 May 1925 as No. 502 (Bomber) Squadron, a Special Reserve squadron at RAF Aldergrove
RAF Aldergrove
RAF Aldergrove was a Royal Air Force station situated northwest of Belfast. It adjoined Belfast International Airport, sometimes referred to simply as Aldergrove which is the name of the surrounding area...

, and it was composed of a mixture of regular and reserve personnel. On 1 December 1925 the name No. 502 (Ulster) Squadron was adopted. The squadron operated in the heavy night bomber role and as such it was initially equipped with Vickers Vimy
Vickers Vimy
The Vickers Vimy was a British heavy bomber aircraft of the First World War and post-First World War era. It achieved success as both a military and civil aircraft, setting several notable records in long-distance flights in the interwar period, the most celebrated of which was the first non-stop...

s from June 1925, re-equipping with Handley Page Hyderabad
Handley Page Hyderabad
|-See also:-Bibliography:* Barnes, C. H. Handley Page Aircraft Since 1907. London: Putnam & Company, Ltd., 1987. ISBN 0-85177-803-8.* Clayton, Donald C. Handley Page, an Aircraft Album. Shepperton, Surrey, UK: Ian Allan Ltd., 1969. ISBN 0-7110-0094-8....

s in July 1928. Vickers Virginia
Vickers Virginia
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Andrews, C.F. and E.B. Morgan. Vickers Aircraft since 1908. London: Putnam, 1989. ISBN 0-85177-851-1....

s arrived in December 1931, but in October 1935 the squadron was transferred to the day bomber role for which it received Westland Wallace
Westland Wallace
The Westland Wallace was a British two-seat, general-purpose biplane of the Royal Air Force, developed by Westland as a follow-on to their successful Wapiti. As the last of the inter-war general purpose biplanes, it was used by a number of frontline and Auxiliary Air Force Squadrons...

s, Hawker Hind
Hawker Hind
-See also:-Bibliography:* Crawford, Alex. Hawker Hart Family. Redbourn, Hertfordshire, UK: Mushroom Model Publications Ltd., 2008. ISBN 83-89450-62-3....

s arriving in April 1937. Shortly after this, on 1 July 1937, it was transferred to the Auxiliary Air Force, the Special Reserve being disbanded.

In Coastal Command


On November 28, 1938, No. 502 (Ulster) Squadron became part of RAF Coastal Command
RAF Coastal Command
RAF Coastal Command was a formation within the Royal Air Force . Founded in 1936, it was the RAF's premier maritime arm, after the Royal Navy's secondment of the Fleet Air Arm in 1937. Naval aviation was neglected in the inter-war period, 1919–1939, and as a consequence the service did not receive...

, and was re-equipped with Avro Anson
Avro Anson
The Avro Anson is a British twin-engine, multi-role aircraft that served with the Royal Air Force, Fleet Air Arm and numerous other air forces prior to, during, and after the Second World War. Named for British Admiral George Anson, it was originally designed for maritime reconnaissance, but was...

s in January 1939. When war broke out, the squadron was used to fly patrols in the Atlantic off the Irish Coast. From October 1940, the Squadron flew with Armstrong Whitworth Whitley
Armstrong Whitworth Whitley
The Armstrong Whitworth A.W.38 Whitley was one of three British twin-engine, front line medium bomber types in service with the Royal Air Force at the outbreak of the Second World War...

s. It was reported that on 30 November 1941 the squadron became the first Coastal Command unit to make a successful attack on a U-boat with air-to-surface radar, sinking U-Boat U-206 in the Bay of Biscay
Bay of Biscay
The Bay of Biscay is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea. It lies along the western coast of France from Brest south to the Spanish border, and the northern coast of Spain west to Cape Ortegal, and is named in English after the province of Biscay, in the Spanish...

. This report has been countered with newer information that the U-206 was more probably sunk by the minefield, "Beech," laid there by the British after August 1940, and that the squadron's attack was actually on U-71, which escaped without loss.

In January 1942 the squadron officially moved to both Norfolk (RAF Docking
RAF Docking
RAF Docking was a RAF Station of the Second World War a few miles from Bircham Newton in Norfolk.It was a satellite airfield for the RAF Coastal Command station at RAF Bircham Newton and was mostly used for overflow from there....

) and Cornwall, where a maintenance base was set up at RAF St Eval
RAF St Eval
RAF St Eval was a strategic airbase for the RAF Coastal Command in the Second World War . St Eval's primary role was to provided anti-submarine and anti-shipping patrols off the south west coast of England...

. Until 1944 the squadron's main role was to carry anti-submarine patrols. In January 1943 conversion to Halifax GR.Mk.IIs
Handley Page Halifax
The Handley Page Halifax was one of the British front-line, four-engined heavy bombers of the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. A contemporary of the famous Avro Lancaster, the Halifax remained in service until the end of the war, performing a variety of duties in addition to bombing...

 began, the first patrol by this type being flown on 12 March. In addition to anti-submarine patrols, now also attacks on enemy shipping off the French coast were made. In September 1944, with the French coast back in Allied hands, the squadron moved to Scotland at RAF Stornoway
RAF Stornoway
RAF Stornoway was a Royal Air Force station near the burgh of Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, in the Western Isles of Scotland.- Beginnings :...

 to carry out attacks on German shipping off the Norwegian coast, remaining there until the end of the war. It was disbanded on 25 May 1945.

Into the jet age


With the reactivation of the Auxiliary Air Force, no. 502 was reformed on 10 May 1946, again at RAF Aldergrove, but now as a light bomber squadron, equipped with Mosquito B.25s
De Havilland Mosquito
The de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito was a British multi-role combat aircraft that served during the Second World War and the postwar era. It was known affectionately as the "Mossie" to its crews and was also nicknamed "The Wooden Wonder"...

 from July 1946. In December night fighter Mosquitoes replaced the bombers, but in June 1948 the units of the by now Royal Auxiliary Air Force
Royal Auxiliary Air Force
The Royal Auxiliary Air Force , originally the Auxiliary Air Force , is the voluntary active duty reserve element of the Royal Air Force, providing a primary reinforcement capability for the regular service...

 all converted to the day fighter role, 502 receiving Spitfire F.22s
Supermarine Spitfire
The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries throughout the Second World War. The Spitfire continued to be used as a front line fighter and in secondary roles into the 1950s...

 for the purpose. Jet conversion began in January 1951 with the arrival of Vampire FB.5s
De Havilland Vampire
The de Havilland DH.100 Vampire was a British jet-engine fighter commissioned by the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. Following the Gloster Meteor, it was the second jet fighter to enter service with the RAF. Although it arrived too late to see combat during the war, the Vampire served...

, which were supplemented by FB.9s in July 1954. The squadron continued to fly both types until, along with all the flying units of the RAuxAF, it was disbanded on 10 March 1957.

Aircraft operated

Aircraft operated by no. 502 Squadron RAF, data from
From To Aircraft Version
June 1925 July 1928 Vickers Vimy
Vickers Vimy
The Vickers Vimy was a British heavy bomber aircraft of the First World War and post-First World War era. It achieved success as both a military and civil aircraft, setting several notable records in long-distance flights in the interwar period, the most celebrated of which was the first non-stop...

 
July 1928 February 1932 Handley Page Hyderabad
Handley Page Hyderabad
|-See also:-Bibliography:* Barnes, C. H. Handley Page Aircraft Since 1907. London: Putnam & Company, Ltd., 1987. ISBN 0-85177-803-8.* Clayton, Donald C. Handley Page, an Aircraft Album. Shepperton, Surrey, UK: Ian Allan Ltd., 1969. ISBN 0-7110-0094-8....

 
December 1931 October 1935 Vickers Virginia
Vickers Virginia
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Andrews, C.F. and E.B. Morgan. Vickers Aircraft since 1908. London: Putnam, 1989. ISBN 0-85177-851-1....

 
Mk.X
October 1935 May 1937 Westland Wallace
Westland Wallace
The Westland Wallace was a British two-seat, general-purpose biplane of the Royal Air Force, developed by Westland as a follow-on to their successful Wapiti. As the last of the inter-war general purpose biplanes, it was used by a number of frontline and Auxiliary Air Force Squadrons...

 
Mk.I
November 1935 May 1937 Westland Wallace Mk.II
April 1937 April 1939 Hawker Hind
Hawker Hind
-See also:-Bibliography:* Crawford, Alex. Hawker Hart Family. Redbourn, Hertfordshire, UK: Mushroom Model Publications Ltd., 2008. ISBN 83-89450-62-3....

 
January 1939 November 1940 Avro Anson
Avro Anson
The Avro Anson is a British twin-engine, multi-role aircraft that served with the Royal Air Force, Fleet Air Arm and numerous other air forces prior to, during, and after the Second World War. Named for British Admiral George Anson, it was originally designed for maritime reconnaissance, but was...

 
Mk.I
August 1940 November 1940 Blackburn Botha
Blackburn Botha
-See also:-External links:*...

 
Mk.I
September 1940 February 1942 Armstrong Whitworth Whitley
Armstrong Whitworth Whitley
The Armstrong Whitworth A.W.38 Whitley was one of three British twin-engine, front line medium bomber types in service with the Royal Air Force at the outbreak of the Second World War...

 
Mk.V
November 1941 February 1943 Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.VII
January 1943 March 1945 Handley Page Halifax
Handley Page Halifax
The Handley Page Halifax was one of the British front-line, four-engined heavy bombers of the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. A contemporary of the famous Avro Lancaster, the Halifax remained in service until the end of the war, performing a variety of duties in addition to bombing...

 
GR.Mk.II Srs.IA
December 1944 May 1945 Handley Page Halifax GR.Mks.IIIA, VI
July 1946 December 1947 de Havilland Mosquito
De Havilland Mosquito
The de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito was a British multi-role combat aircraft that served during the Second World War and the postwar era. It was known affectionately as the "Mossie" to its crews and was also nicknamed "The Wooden Wonder"...

 
B.25
December 1947 June 1948 de Havilland Mosquito NF.30
June 1948 January 1951 Supermarine Spitfire
Supermarine Spitfire
The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries throughout the Second World War. The Spitfire continued to be used as a front line fighter and in secondary roles into the 1950s...

 
F.22
January 1951 March 1951 de Havilland Vampire
De Havilland Vampire
The de Havilland DH.100 Vampire was a British jet-engine fighter commissioned by the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. Following the Gloster Meteor, it was the second jet fighter to enter service with the RAF. Although it arrived too late to see combat during the war, the Vampire served...

 
F.3
March 1951 March 1957 de Havilland Vampire FB.5
July 1954 March 1957 de Havilland Vampire FB.9

Squadron bases

Bases and airfields used by 502 Squadron, data from
From To Base Remark
27 January 1925 27 January 1941 RAF Aldergrove
RAF Aldergrove
RAF Aldergrove was a Royal Air Force station situated northwest of Belfast. It adjoined Belfast International Airport, sometimes referred to simply as Aldergrove which is the name of the surrounding area...

, County Antrim
County Antrim
County Antrim is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland. Adjoined to the north-east shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of 2,844 km², with a population of approximately 616,000...

 
Det. at RAF Hooton Park
Hooton Park
RAF Hooton Park, on the Wirral Peninsula, Cheshire, was a Royal Air Force station originally built for the Royal Flying Corps in 1917 as a training aerodrome for pilots in World War I. During the early/mid 1930s, it was one of the two airfields handling scheduled services for the Merseyside...

, Cheshire
Cheshire
Cheshire is a ceremonial county in North West England. Cheshire's county town is the city of Chester, although its largest town is Warrington. Other major towns include Widnes, Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Macclesfield, Winsford, Northwich, and Wilmslow...

27 January 1941 12 January 1942 RAF Limavady
Limavady
Limavady is a market town in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, with Binevenagh as a backdrop. It lies east of Derry and south west of Coleraine. It had a population of 12,135 people in the 2001 Census, an increase of some 17% compared to 1991...

, County Londonderry
County Londonderry
The place name Derry is an anglicisation of the old Irish Daire meaning oak-grove or oak-wood. As with the city, its name is subject to the Derry/Londonderry name dispute, with the form Derry preferred by nationalists and Londonderry preferred by unionists...

 
Dets. at RAF Wick
Wick Airport
Wick Airport is located north of the town of Wick in Caithness at the north-eastern extremity of the mainland of Scotland. It is owned and maintained by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited....

, Caithness
Caithness
Caithness is a registration county, lieutenancy area and historic local government area of Scotland. The name was used also for the earldom of Caithness and the Caithness constituency of the Parliament of the United Kingdom . Boundaries are not identical in all contexts, but the Caithness area is...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

; RAF Chivenor
Royal Marines Base Chivenor
Royal Marines Base Chivenor is a British military base used primarily by the Royal Marines. It is situated on the northern shore of the Taw estuary, adjacent to the South West Coast Path, on the north coast of Devon, England....

,
Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

; RAF St Eval
RAF St Eval
RAF St Eval was a strategic airbase for the RAF Coastal Command in the Second World War . St Eval's primary role was to provided anti-submarine and anti-shipping patrols off the south west coast of England...

, Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

 and RAF Reykjavik
Reykjavík Airport
Reykjavík Airport Reykjavík Airport Reykjavík Airport (Icelandic: Reykjavíkurflugvöllur, is the chiefly domestic airport serving Reykjavík, Iceland. The airport lies two kilometres from Reykjavík's city centre. Possessing rather short runways, it normally only serves flights within Iceland and to...

, Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

12 February 1942 22 February 1942 RAF Docking
RAF Docking
RAF Docking was a RAF Station of the Second World War a few miles from Bircham Newton in Norfolk.It was a satellite airfield for the RAF Coastal Command station at RAF Bircham Newton and was mostly used for overflow from there....

, Norfolk
Norfolk
Norfolk is a low-lying county in the East of England. It has borders with Lincolnshire to the west, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea coast and to the north-west the county is bordered by The Wash. The county...

 
Det. at RAF St Eval, Cornwall
22 February 1942 2 March 1943 RAF St Eval, Cornwall
2 March 1943 25 March 1943 RAF Holmesley South, Hampshire
Hampshire
Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England in the United Kingdom. The county town of Hampshire is Winchester, a historic cathedral city that was once the capital of England. Hampshire is notable for housing the original birthplaces of the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force...

 
Det. at RAF St Eval, Cornwall
25 March 1943 30 June 1943 RAF St Eval, Cornwall
30 June 1943 10 December 1943 RAF Holmesley South, Hampshire Det. at RAF St Eval, Cornwall
10 December 1943 11 September 1944 RAF St David's
St David's
St Davids , is a city and community in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Lying on the River Alun on St David's Peninsula, it is Britain's smallest city in terms of both size and population, the final resting place of Saint David, the country's patron saint, and the de facto ecclesiastical capital of...

, Pembrokeshire
Pembrokeshire
Pembrokeshire is a county in the south west of Wales. It borders Carmarthenshire to the east and Ceredigion to the north east. The county town is Haverfordwest where Pembrokeshire County Council is headquartered....

, Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 
11 September 1944 25 May 1945 RAF Stornoway
RAF Stornoway
RAF Stornoway was a Royal Air Force station near the burgh of Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, in the Western Isles of Scotland.- Beginnings :...

, Western Isles, Scotland
Det.at RAF Wick, Caithness, Scotland
17 July 1946 10 March 1957 RAF Aldergrove, County Antrim

Commanding officers

Officers commanding no. 502 Squadron RAF, data from
From To Name
May 1925 November 1926 S/Ldr.
Squadron Leader
Squadron Leader is a commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence. It is also sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure. In these...

 R.D. Oxland
W/Cdr.
Wing Commander (rank)
Wing commander is a commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many other Commonwealth countries...

 A.C. Wright, AFC
Air Force Cross (United Kingdom)
The Air Force Cross is a military decoration awarded to personnel of the United Kingdom Armed Forces, and formerly also to officers of the other Commonwealth countries, for "an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying, though not in active operations against the enemy"...

S/Ldr. C.L. King, MC
Military Cross
The Military Cross is the third-level military decoration awarded to officers and other ranks of the British Armed Forces; and formerly also to officers of other Commonwealth countries....

, DFC
Distinguished Flying Cross (United Kingdom)
The Distinguished Flying Cross is a military decoration awarded to personnel of the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and other services, and formerly to officers of other Commonwealth countries, for "an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against...

W/Cdr. F.P. Don
March 1932 W/Cdr. R.T. Leather, AFC
March 1932 1934 W/Cdr. L.T.N. Gould, MC
1934 W/Cdr. J.C. Russell, DSO
Distinguished Service Order
The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.Instituted on 6 September...

November 1937 S/Ldr. G.V. Tyrell, MC
November 1937 December 1940 W/Cdr. L.R. Briggs
December 1940 November 1941 W/Cdr. T.C. Cooper
November 1941 September 1942 W/Cdr. F.C. Richardson
September 1942 August 1943 W/Cdr. J.C. Halley
August 1943 May 1944 W/Cdr. N.M. Bayliss
May 1944 October 1944 W/Cdr. C.A. Maton, DSO, SAAF
October 1944 November 1944 W/Cdr. K.B. Corbould, DFC
November 1944 May 1945 W/Cdr. H.H.C. Holderness, DFC, AFC, RCAF
July 1946 S/Ldr. W.H. McGiffin
S/Ldr. D.F.B. Sheen, DFC & Bar
Medal bar
A medal bar or medal clasp is a thin metal bar attached to the ribbon of a military decoration, civil decoration, or other medal. It is most commonly used to indicate the campaign or operation the recipient received the award for, and multiple bars on the same medal are used to indicate that the...

, RAAF
1956 S/Ldr. N.G. Townsend, DFC
1956 March 1957 S/Ldr. J.H. Pearce

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