No.615 (County of Surrey) Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force)
Chronicle of a fighter squadron of the Royal Air Force.
From the Battle of France to Burma
(1939 – 1945)
The No.615 Squadron
is a fighter squadron of the Auxiliary Air Force, a kind of club of the well-to-do of the British population (and in particular London), who has the distinction of having participated in the Battle of France. Indeed, the unit is transferred to France as early as 15 November 1939.
During these long months of winter 1939 / spring 1940, pilots participate in a long series of flights to provide protection for British ships.
No.615 Squadron is finally transformed on Hawker Hurricane in April 1940. This modernization very late and the B Flight is ordered to join the airfield of Abbeville to discover this new aircraft on 10 May 1940 …
In reality the awakening will be brutal and one of the pilots will even take off aboard a Gladiator Gladiator to try to intercept the German bombers … During these ten days of May 1940, the No.615 Squadron will intervene mainly in the second line due to the lack of training of its pilots and the low number of Hawker Hurricane available. However, the fighting will be fierce as seven men will be lost (three killed, two captured and two injured). No.615 Squadron leaves France in panic on 20 May.
It is not, however, the end of the French period. In the face of the critical situation of the BEF, some of the pilots are ordered to retrieve old Gladiator Gladiators to ensure the protection of the ships participating in Operation Dynamo. Fortunately for them, patrols will eventually take place over British ports.
Once the situation of No.615 Squadron stabilized and the arrival of various reinforcements (pilots and aircraft), the squadron is back over France from 8 June to witness the final collapse. The last mission took place over Rouen on 30 June 1940. An additional pilot will be killed during this month.
Chronology of events :
No.615 (County of Surrey) Squadron was created on 1st June 1, in the Auxiliary Air Force, at Kenley Air Force Base under the command of Arthur V. Harvey Squadron Leader.
10 November 1939
The transfer order toward France (Merville) is announced. The departure takes place five days later when sixteen Gloster Gladiators take off from Croydon at 11h30 to land at Merville at 13h00
10 May 1940
Beginning of the Campaign of France. The Squadron is based on the continent until 20 May, and continues to operate from the English coast during June.
Review of RAF squadrons based in France by King George VI, General John S.S. Prendergast Vereker, Lord Gort (B.E.F. Commander) and Prince Harry, Duke of Gloucester (B.E.F. Liaison Officer).
Airfield of Lille-Seclin, 5 – 6 December 1939
Collection : Imperial War Museum.