56 Squadron Stations/Airfields

From Location Detachments/Comments
18 Apr 2008 Waddington, UK On 18 April 2008 No 56(R) Sqn disbanded as the F3 OCU and the number plate was passed to the Air C2 ISR Test and Evaluation Squadron based at RAF Waddington.
27 Mar 2003 Leuchars, UK Moved to allow RAF Coningsby to be prepared for Typhoon operations.
31 Jul 1992 Coningsby, UK Adopted the title of 56(Reserve) Squadron and became the RAF's Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) for the Tornado F3.
8 Jul 1976 Wattisham, UK Jul 76: "The Squadron flew 8 of its 10 Phantoms to RAF Wattisham on 8 July 1976."

14 Apr - 12 Oct 77: Wethersfield (airfield resurfacing)

13 Oct - 15 Nov 77: RAF Luqa, Malta

Annual detachments to Akrotiri and RAF Valley for training.

12 Oct - 13 Nov: Akrotiri, Cyprus

30 Jun 1976 Coningsby, UK Jul 76: "The crews had been at RAF Coningsby, where they had begun to work up in the Air Defence role, as No 56 (Designate) Squadron from 22 March 1976... On 22 June 1976, AOC 11 Gp declared No 56 (Designate) Squadron Limited Combat Ready."

Jul 76: "On 30 June 1976, the Squadron's first day as a Phantom Unit, Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh visited RAF Coningsby, and Her Majesty reviewed the Squadron and Squadron Standard on Parade."

31 Jan 1975 Wattisham, UK Jan 75: "5 Mk 6 and 1 T5 were flown back on 21 Jan, 2 Mk 6 on 22 Jan, and 6 Mk 6 on 30 Jan."

Apr 76: "On the 27 April the Squadron detached 4 Mk6 aircraft, a T5 aircraft, 7 pilots and 21 Ground Crew to German Air Force Station Wittmundhaven.  No 71 (Richthofen) Wing arrived with 4 F4F Phantom Air Crews, and their Ground Crew."

Jun 76: "A small parade was held 29 June to effect the handover of the Squadron Standard to the new No 56(F) Squadron... On 26 June, the final Squadron dinner as a Lightning Squadron was held."

11 May 1967 Akrotiri, Cyprus May 67: "On 11th MAY, No 56 (F) Squadron officially replaced No 29 (F) Squadron as the All Weather Air Defence Force of NEAF."

30 Jul - 1 Dec 68: Nicosia, Cyprus (runway work at Akrotiri)

Annual detachments back to the UK to conduct training on the RAF Valley Missile Practice Camp.

Jan 75: "January was the end of an era for 56 Sqn. In addition to the redeployment [back to the UK], the squadron has had 30% of its officers and airmen posted, and has lost its Target Facilities Flight, the only Fighter Squadron so equipped in recent years."

10 Jul 1959 Wattisham, UK 7 Aug - 15 Oct 59: Nicosia, Cyprus

15 Jul - 18 Sep 60: Stradishal "whilst work is in progress on the Wattisham runway."

14 Aug - 16 Oct 61: Coltishall; "R.A.F. Wattisham closed down for the "annual" runway repairs"

Jan 63: "...confirmation was received that the Squadron had been selected to carry out the Fighter Command Formation Aerobatics commitment and that the Squadron is to be withdrawn from operational flying on the 1st March, 1963."

Mar 63: "Formation aerobatic manouvres consisted of barrel rolls and loops in 'Arrow head', 'Swan neck', and 'Vic' formations, and several rolling and looping formation changes."

Jun 63: Squadron once again declared operational and taking part in exercises.

Jul 63: "Throughout the month Flt. Lt. R.J. MANNING and Flt. Lt. E.E. JONES worked up aerobatic sequences in a Hunter and Lightning respectively in preparation for displays later in the Summer."

24 May - RAF Waterbeach - No. 54 Sqn standard presentation
3 Jun - North Weald
8 Jun - Queen's Birthday Parade Fly-past
16 Jun - 25th Paris International Air Show
19 Jun - RAF Lakenheath USAF Open Day
5 Aug - Upper Heyford[?] - Single aircraft
27 Aug - RAF Gaydon 'press preview'
3-5 Sep - RAF Cranwell Staff College
12 Sep - RAF Wethersfield
14 Sep - Battle of Britain Day
    RAF Biggin Hill(10 aircraft)
    RAF Wyton (five aircraft)
    RAF Gaydon (five aircraft)

Sep 63: "On 15th the Station was 'At Home' to the R.O.C. and the 'Firebirds' took to the air for the last time."

5 Oct 64 - 11 Jan 65: Akrotiri, Cyprus  (4 aircraft)

28 Feb - 9 Jun 66: Akrotiri, Cyprus (4 aircraft)

9 Jun - 1 Jul 66: Nicosia, Cyprus

11 Apr - 10 May 67: Akrotiri, Cyprus (4 aircraft - advance party)

10 May 1950 Waterbeach, UK Jun - 16 Jul 55: Wymeswold "Due to works services on the runway at Waterbeach"

Jul 55: "The Squadron were the first aircraft to land on the new runway surface at Waterbeach, which proved to have an unpleasant bump in it."

Jul 55: "During the Wymeswold detachment, one of the officers discovered a statue of Capt. Albert Ball, V.C., in the grounds of Nottingham Castle, and it was suggested that a parade should be arranged in his honour.  The parade, which took place on July 15th, was the first to be held in Capt. Ball's honour by the squadron."

Jun 59: "The Squadron's ensuing move to Wattisham marks the end of another chapter in the Squadron's history. This 8 years has been an enjoyable and interesting stay as well as a period of astonishing advancement into the realm of high speed flight. The Squadron began their stay at Waterbeach with Meteor Mk 4's. Later it was the Squadron's unhappy lot to introduce the Swift Mk. 1 into service with the Royal Air Force. This met with many set-backs, but better times came as the Squadron was re-equipped with Hunter Mk. 5's.  These were superseded by the Hunter Mk. 6.  The Squadron is now looking forward to their new venture at Wattisham.  They are hoping for a little more luck and success when introducing the "Lightning" into service with the Royal Air Force in the coming year."

Mar 1948 Thorney Island, UK End Apr (after 26th) - end Jun 48: Lubeck

Annually for approximately one month: Acklington for training

Apr 1947 Duxford, UK Apr 47: "As the runway at Duxford was not yet completed flying took place from Debden."

4 Sep - 30 Oct 47: Lubeck, Germany

5 Nov 1946 Wattisham, UK Nov 46: "On the 5th, this move [to Wattisham] was completed. Wattisham had not been used for eight months, since, in fact, the Americans moved out, and so a great deal of hard labour was required to get the living sites inhabitable and the dispersals organised. Owing to the bad state of the long runway flying was still carried out from Boxted ... this entailed a long drive morning and evening"

10 Nov - 20 Dec 46: Acklington for training

16 Sep 1946 Boxted, UK Sep 46: "This place Boxted is much better by far than Bentwaters, on that we are all agreed.  Now that we have eventually arrived here there seems to be some talk of going to Wattisham."
1 Apr 1946 Bentwaters, UK Apr 46: "No 56 Squadron re-formed in 11 Group, and No 124 Squadron took over that number.  All past 56 Squadron records and trophies have been collected and we find that we have a high standard to maintain."
25 Mar 1946 B.152 Fassberg, Germany 26 Mar 46: "Today we learnt some very tragic news - the 56 (Punjab) Squadron are to be disbanded on paper and sent back to Fighter Command, wef. 31st March, 1936. We then take over teh number plate of 16 Squadron, who are disbanding at Celle."

31 Mar 46: "Sunday. The last day of being associated with 56(Punjab) Squadron. For many of us this day marks the end of our long service with the 56th (Punjab) Squadron.  We have all been proud to serve with this most famous fighting formation. While the necessity for such a changeover must not be doubted, since it must have been made with a great deal of forethought by those in a position to do so, one cannot but regret to lose the number "56"  We can only hope that when "56" Squadron is reformed again, that the personnel servicing in it, will be as proud as we have been.

Unit reduced to numbers only basis, and number plate returned to Fighter Command w.c.f. 1st April, 1946."
28 Feb 1946 Gatow, Germany  
23 Jan 1946 B.152 Fassberg, Germany  
1 Jan 1946 B.170 Sylt, Germany  
24 Oct 1945 B.152 Fassberg, Germany  
6 Sep 1945 B.155 Dedelstorf, Germany  
25 Aug 1945 B.164 Schleswig, Germany  
23 Jun 1945 Copenhagen, Denmark  
24 May 1945 B.152 Fassberg, Germany  
9 May 1945 Warmwell, UK  
27 Apr 1945 B.152 Fassberg, Germany 26 Apr 45: "FASSBERG which was the German equivalent of CRANWELL was ploughed up by the Huns but the satelite field provided a useful strip of about 1500 yards. Hundreds (literally) of aircraft litter the place in various stages of repair and disrepair from completely serviceable HE 177's, JU 86P's, ME 109's, FW 190's and JU 88's to burnt out shells.  Each Squadron have a hangar which will be very good for working on the aircraft in bad weather."

8 May 45: "After vague rumour (What's a stronger word?) this is VE-DAY! Rather an anticlimax really, in GERMANY. BUT --- after the C.O., being very fed up, had told all the types to remain bed-borne and do whatever they wished, information arrived that 80 Squadron was on its way back. In a space of minutes, camp beds were flying along passages, loot was shooting up to dispersal., and in general the party types came to."
12 Apr 1945 B.112 Rheine-Hopsten, Germany 11 Apr 45: "The Squadron moved with the wing to RHEINE/HOPSTEN, an aerodrome that has seen many aircraft shot down by Tempests nearby. All under canvas and close together, which is a change from VOLKEL. Everyone seems happy to have a change after six months there, and fine weather puts a rosy complexion on camp life."
1 Oct 1944 B.80 Volkel, The Netherlands 1 Oct 44: "The Squadron moved to VOLKEL in HOLLAND, we are really in the war now with guns all round us. The Hun smashed this place up considerably but it is usable."
28 Sep 1944 B.60 Grimbergen, Belgium 28 Sep 44: "At last we move to the continent to B.60, Grimberghen near BRUSSELS.
24 Sep 1944 Matlaske, UK  
29 Apr 1944 Newchurch, UK 29 Apr 44: "We heard to-day that the Squadron is to go on re-equipping with the Spitfire IX aircraft, and at the same time to take over the job of 501 Squadron, who are at Hawkinge, which comprises of Weather Reccos., Shipping Reccos., Air-Sea Rescue, and will give us a vary good chance to give easy operational experienceto this very young squadron, most of whom have done no operations at all.

13 Jun 44: "We were all rudely awakened at dawn by a strange noise and to our startled eyes there suddenly appeared the first jet propelled pilotless bomb. It was this country's introduction to this new horror and it was an eerie sensation to see it ... At dawn four sections were sent off to examine the launching sites of the flying bomb and report any activity. During the day the C.O. made four attempts to reconnoitre fourteen of the launching sites and examine them for activity.  On three occasions the sections returned due to bad weather, but on the fourth attempt were successful.  No activity was noticed."

18 Jun 44: "F/L. P.L. Batemen-Jones on Convoy Patrol intercepted and destroyed on Flying Bomb. This was the Squadron's first."

25 Jun 44: "Four aircraft while escorting the Ansons ran short of petrol and were forced to land on the Beach-Head in Normandy.  These were the first aircraft of the Squadron to land in France."
8 Apr 1944 Scorton, UK  
31 Mar 1944 Ayr, UK  
8 Mar 1944 Scorton, UK  
24 Feb 1944 Acklington, UK Training
16 Feb 1944 Scorton, UK "a desolate, cold and most uninteresting spot, and discovered that for the time being it had to take part in Exercise 'Eagle' as a "German" Unit."
5 Oct 1943 Martleham Heath, UK 4 Oct 43: "We now start a novel experience of being a lodger Unit on an American Aerodrome."
24 Aug 1943 Bradwell Bay, UK  
22 Jul 1943 Manston, UK 7-15 Aug 43: Martlesham Heath
5 Aug 43: "Orders received that all pilots are to go on an airfiring course at Martlesham Heath for two weeks, leaving tomorrow."
24 Aug 1942 Matlask, UK  
30 Mar 1942 Snailwell, UK 9 Apr 42 - "A wet day with low cloud and poor visibility. No flying. A visit was made to the Greene King Brewery at Bury St.Edmunds. Col. Oliver received the party, which consisted of nearly all the officers in the squadron. After a most interesting tour during which the whole process was explained the party adjourned to the tasting room. Here a sample of very excellent bitter beer was handed out. This was followed by some ten year old ale, originally brewed as an experiment. This turned out to be rather stronger than a good vintage port. The flavour was excellent, and somewhat reminiscent of a rather vicious sherry. The tasting took a considerable time and the party finally got back to a late lunch at 2 o'clock. Some exercise was taken in the afternoon."

30 May - 7 Jun 42: Manston (A Flt); Tangmore (B Flt)

7 Jul 42: Ludham "to take over the duties of No. 610 Squadron."
26 Jun 1941 Duxford, UK 16 Feb -13 Mar 42: Honiley
23 Jun 1941 Martlesham Heath, UK  
19 Dec 1940 North Weald, UK 12-16 May 41: Hunsdon "for Night Flying Operations"
30 Nov 1940 Middle Wallop, UK  
2 Sep 1940 Boscombe Down, UK  
28 Feb 1940 North Weald, UK

Often flew missions via Manston

29 Apr - 10 May 40: Martlesham Heath (A Flt)

10-12 May 40: Gravesend (A Flt)

16-18 May 40: Vitry-en-Artois, France (B Flt); evacuated 19 May via Norrent Fontes (aircraft).  Ground element evacuated 20-22 May taking troop ship Mona's Queen from Boulogne.

18-23 May 40: Biggin Hill (A Flt)

31 May - 3 Jun 40: "The Squadron flew to DIGBY for a rest..."

4 Jun 40: Wittering
13 Dec 1939 Martlesham Heath (A Flt)
North Weald (B Flt)
Oct 1939 Martlesham Heath  
12 Oct 1927 North Weald, UK  
7 May 1923 Biggin Hill, UK  
1 Nov 1922 Hawkinge, UK Two flights reformed; third flight returned from Constantinople 23 Aug 1923.
26 Sep 1922 Kilea, Constantinople One (remaining) flight
1 Feb 1920 Aboukir, Egypt No. 80 Squadron re-designated No. 56
Two flights disbanded 23 Sep 1922
30 Dec 1919 Bircham Newton Disbanded 22 Jan 1920
15 Feb 1919 Narborough, UK  
22 Nov 1918 B�thencourt, France  
29 Oct 1918 La Targette, France  
27 Oct 1918 Esnes, France  
15 Oct 1918 Lechelle, France  
25 Mar 1918 Valheureux, France  
21 Jan 1918 Baizieux, France  
18 Nov 1917 Lavi�ville, France  
5 Jul 1917 Estr�e Blanche, France  
21 Jun 1917 Bekesbourne, UK  
31 May 1917 Estr�e Blanche  
20 Apr 1917 Vert Galant, France  
7 Apr 1917 St. Omer  
14 Jul 1916 London Colney, UK  
8 Jun 1916 Gosford, UK  

Information taken from raf.mod.uk website and, with kind permission, the 56(R) Squadron archives.  UK Crown copyright.