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Post Info TOPIC: RAF in the Mediterranean during WWII




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RAF in the Mediterranean during WWII
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I am trying to determine the various RAF Groups, Wings, and Squadrons that were assigned to RAF Malta, RAF Middle East, and the Northwest African Air Force (NAAF) of the Mediterranean Air Command under Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder in 1943.

NAAF consisted of:

Northwest African Tactical Air Force under Air Vice-Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham

Northwest African Strategic Air Force under Major General James Doolittle

Northwest African Coastal Air Force under Air Vice-Marshal Hugh Lloyd

Northwest African Air Service Command under Major General Delmar Dunton

Northwest African Photographic Reconnaissance Wing under Col. Elliott Roosevelt

Northwest African Training Command under Brigadier General John Cannon

Northwest African Troop Carrier Command under Brigadier General Paul Williams

I know all of the USAAF wings, groups, and squadrons in these commands but I don't know the various RAF groups, wings, and squadrons that made up these commands after the February 1943 reorganization of the Mediterranean allied air forces at the Casablanca Conference by Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and their staffs.

Coningham's NATAF consisted of:

Tactical Bomber Force under Air Vice-Marshal Sir Laurence Sinclair

XII air Support Command under Major General Edwin House

Western Desert Air Force under Air Vice-Marshal Harry Broadhurst

No. 242 Group under Air Vice-Marshal Sir Kenneth Cross

I am trying to understand the command and organization structure of the RAF in the Mediterranean during WWII.




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Air Commodore/Moderator

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Don, welcome to the forum.  Quite a subject you have chosen there!

One book that you might find useful: 'The Source Book of the RAF' by Ken Delve.  It is pretty detailed but might not give all the info that you are looking for.

There is also this site, if you haven't already seen it:

http://www.rafweb.org/Index.htm

It covers that area pretty well but you will need to register.  I use it regularly and find it very helpful.

Hope that helps.

Laurie


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Posts: 16
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Hi Laurie,

Thanks very much for suggesting the book and website. I,m not familiar with the book but I have seen the website you provided. I was hoping that the kind of RAF organizational information I am searching for would be freely-exchanged, common, public domain stuff. Perhaps things are different in the UK?

Thanks again for your suggestions.

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Air Commodore/Moderator

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Don, you're welcome.

The setup in the Middle East during WWII is not something that I am too familiar with.  Not sure if there is anyone else on here who might be able to help.  I take it you have tried 'googling' for info on this?


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Don

Welcome to the forum, as Laurie has said a tough subject! smile.gif

Three routes I would take in this order:

Please bear in mind that the UK are somehow reluctant to pass some information on unlike The USA, Canada and Australia.

1. The Air Historical Branch of the [AHB] RAF, Sebastian Cox used to be the head honcho here

2. The Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon, London direct your question to The Archivist, I'm not positive on this but I have since heard that there is a charge here for research information where up until fairly recently it was for free.

3. Air Britain

........a couple of longer shots would be

a. The Imperial War Museum at Lambeth [The Archivist]

b. The Imperial War Museum ar Duxford Airfield, Cambridgeshire who have a pretty good collection of Land Warfare of Africa but parts cover the Air War

All the above can be Googled, I wish you luck, perhaps if you do get any positive feedback you could let us know of the source[s] in case a similar query arises in the future


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Hi Laurie,

I haven't done a very comprehensive search but I was able to find the four wings and their squadrons assigned to Doolittle's NASAF. The Wings were:

No. 205 Group RAF
No. 231 Wing RAF (Wellingtons)
No. 236 Wing RAF (Wellingtons)
No. 240 Wing RAF, RCAF, SAAF (Wellingtons)
No. 330 Wing RAF (Wellingtons)


I also read on another website that some RCAF squadrons made up another wing that was detached to NASAF for several months in 1943:

No. 331 Wing RCAF (Wellingtons)

What I don't know is if No.331 Wing was separate from, or a part of No. 205 Group. I suppose they could also have been the RCAF component of No. 240 Wing as indicated above.

Also, No. 242 Group under Air Vice-Marshal Kenneth Cross was one of the four major components of Coningham's NATAF but I am unaware of the wings, squadrons, and aircraft in this group. Another major component of NATAF was of course the Western Desert Air Force (WDAF) under Air Vice-Marshal Harry Broadhurst who took over for Coningham when he was promoted to commander of NATAF on Feb 18, 1943. On October 23, 1942 WDAF consisted of:

Western Desert Air Force (WDAF)
23 October 1942
Subordinated to 'General Headquarters RAF Middle East' (GHQ RAF Middle East)
=============================================================================

Western Desert Air Force HQ
Desert Air Task Force (USAAF) (administrative control of US attached forces)
South African Air Force (SAAF)

Air Ambulance Squadron

3rd SAAF Bomber Wing
No.12 SAAF Sq (24x Marylands)
No.21 SAAF Sq (24x Baltimores I,II & III)
No.24 SAAF Sq (24x Douglas Boston III)

232th Bomber Wing
No.55 Sq (24x Baltimores I,II & III)
No.223 Sq (24x Baltimores I,II & III)
82nd USAAF Bomber Sq (12x Mitchell B-25C)
83rd USAAF Bomber Sq (12x Mitchell B-25C)
434th USAAF Bomber Sq (12x Mitchell B-25C)

285th Recce Wing
No.40 SAAF Sq (Tactical recon) (18x Hurricane I)
No.60 SAAF Suvey Sq (Photo recon) (8x Marylands and others)
No.1437 Flight Squadron (Strategic recon) (8x Baltimores II)

No. 211 Group
============

No.7 SAAF Sq (16x Hurricane IID)
No.6 Sq (16x Hurricane IID)
64th USAAF Sq (18x P-40F Warhawks)
65th USSAF Sq (18x P-40F Warhawks)

233th Wing
No.2 Sq SAAF (16x Kittyhawks I, II & III)
No.4 Sq SAAF (16x Kittyhawks I, II & III)
No.5 Sq SAAF (16x Tomahawks)
No.260 Sq (16x Kittyhawks I & IIb)

239th Wing
No.112 Sq (16x Kittyhawk IA)
No.250 Sq (16x Kittyhawk IIA)
No.260 Sq (16x Tomahawks)
66th USSAF Sq (18x P-40F Warhawks)

244th Wing
No.145 Sq (16x Spitfires Vb)
No.601 Sq (16x Spitfires Vb)
No.73 Sq (16x Tomahawks IIb)
No.92 Sq (16x Spitfires Vc)


No.212 Group
============

243th Wing
No.1 SAAF Sq (16x Hurricane IIc)
No.33 Sq (16x Hurricane IIc)
No.213 Sq (16x Hurricane IIb)
No.238 Sq (16x Hurricane IIb)

7th SAAF Wing
No.80 Sq (16x Hurricane IIc)
No.127 Sq (16x Hurricane IIb)
No.335 Sq (16x Hurricane IIb)
No.274 Sq (16x Hurricane IIb)

I imagine the WDAF structure above was similar to that in 1943 but I'm not sure. Also, I don't know which other RAF units were in NATAF's Tactical Bomber Force and XII Air Support Command (if any) and those in RAF Malta, RAF Middle East, and the various other commands in my previous message. So, that's what I found on my own on the internet. I'm hoping you RAF experts will blow me away with your expertise and info.

Thanks again!





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Posts: 16
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Hi JohnC,

Thanks very much for these potential sources. Much appreciated indeed!



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Master AEOp

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Interesting topic, Don; I wish you luck with researching and 'trying to understand' British Forces Org & Admin during that war.  It was a case of 'propaganda be my friend' of course, everything heavily censored.  But after the war the new breed of historian (dedicated to the truth even if it hurts) hit the fan.  The 30 or 50-year rule of official secret silence may be over, but......
I've just read John's reply, good stuff John, thanks from me too.

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Air Commodore/Moderator

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Don, you have quite a bit there.  I'll have a look through the books that I have here and see if I can add anything.

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Posts: 16
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I think there were two RAF wings and one SAAF wing in the Tactical Bomber Force of NATAF but I don't know their Nos. and aircraft. FAF 8 Groupement (French Air Force) was also assigned.

I think No. 38 Wing may have been attached to the NATCC (Troop Carrier Command under Brig. Gen. Paul Williams) but with what squadrons and aircraft?

Nos. 680 SAAF & 682 RAF Squadrons and FAF 2/33 Squadron were part of the NAPRW I think(?)

Air Vice-Marshal Hugh Lloyd's NACAF (Coastal Air Force) apparently had three RAF wings but what were they and what were their squadrons and aircraft?

This is for the spring and summer of 1943.







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