No. 601 Squadron RAF

No. 601 (County of London) Squadron is a squadron of the RAF Reserves, based in London. The squadron battle honours most notably include the Battle of Britain, and the first Americans to fly in the Second World War were members of this squadron. Reactivated in 2017, it is a specialist squadron "tapping into the talents of leaders from industry, academia and research to advise and shape and inspire [the RAF]".[10]

No. 601 (County of London) Squadron
Active14 October 1925 – May 1945
June 1946 – 10 March 1957
Country United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
Part ofRoyal Auxiliary Air Force
Nickname(s)The Millionaires' Squadron[1]
The Millionaires' Mob[2]
The Legion[3]
Post 1951 Squadron insignia
Battle honoursFrance & Low Countries, 1940*
Battle of Britain, 1940*
Home Defence, 1940–42
Fortress Europe, 1941–42
Malta, 1942
Egypt & Libya, 1942*
El Alamein*
El Hamma
North Africa, 1943*
Sicily, 1943*
Italy, 1943–45*
Anzio & Nettuno
Gustav Line
Gothic Line
Honours marked with an asterisk* are those that are emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
Squadron Badge heraldryA winged sword[1][4][5]
Squadron CodesYN (Jan 1939 – Sep 1939)[6]
UF (Sep 1939 – Apr 1942, Apr 1942 – Aug 1945)[7]
1 & 3 (Apr 1942)
RAH (May 1946 – 1949)[8]
HT (1949 – Apr 1951)[9]



601 Squadron was formed at RAF Northolt on 14 October 1925 when a group of wealthy aristocratic young men, all of whom were amateur aviators, decided to form themselves into a Reserve Squadron of the RAF after a meeting in White's Club, London.[11] The original officers were picked by the first commanding officer, Lord Edward Grosvenor, youngest son of Hugh Grosvenor, 1st Duke of Westminster. Grosvenor tested potential recruits by plying them with alcohol to see if they would behave inappropriately. Grosvenor wanted officers "of sufficient presence not to be overawed by him and of sufficient means not to be excluded from his favourite pastimes, eating, drinking and Whites".[12] The Squadron was initially known as "the millionaires squadron", a nametag gained because of a reputation for filling their ranks with the very 'well-heeled'. Most of these affluent young pilots had little regard for the rigid discipline of the regular service; they lined their uniform tunics with bright red silk and wore blue ties rather than the regulation black. They played polo on brand-new Brough Superior motor cycles, drove fast sports cars (the squadron car park was said to resemble a Concours d'Elegance) and most of the pilots owned their own private aircraft.

Second World War

The Squadron became a day fighter unit in 1940 and operated both the Hawker Hurricane and the Supermarine Spitfire. Aircrew attrition and transfers to other units, war quickly took its toll on the pre-war personnel and as replacements were drafted in from all walks of life and all parts of the Commonwealth to cover casualties and promotions, the Squadron became as cosmopolitan as any other.[13]

Postwar operations

The unit reformed in 1946 as a fighter squadron within the Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF), initially equipped with the Spitfire, followed by the jet powered De Havilland Vampire and the Gloster Meteor twin-jet. The squadron disbanded along with all other RAuxAF units during the defence cuts of early 1957.


Reforming on 20 April 2017 at RAF Northolt, 601 Squadron is now a Specialist Support Squadron of the RAuxAF. The 3 principal roles of the Squadron are to provide advice to the Chief of the Air Staff and the RAF to help address important issues; to provide access to new networks that the RAF has not traditionally been connected with; and to develop advocates for the RAF.

Aircraft operated

Aircraft operated by no. 601 Squadron, data from[14][15][16]
From To Aircraft Version
May 1926June 1926Avro 504K, N
June 1926October 1930Airco DH.9A
November 1929June 1933Westland WapitiMks.IIa, VI
February 1933August 1937Hawker Hart
August 1937November 1938Hawker Demon
November 1938March 1939Gloster GauntletMk.II
January 1939March 1940Bristol BlenheimMk.If
March 1940March 1941Hawker HurricaneMk.I
March 1941January 1942Hawker HurricaneMk.IIb
August 1941March 1942Bell AiracobraMk.I
March 1942April 1942Supermarine SpitfireMk.Vb
May 1942January 1944Supermarine SpitfireMk.Vc
June 1943August 1943Supermarine SpitfireMk.IX
July 1943June 1944Supermarine SpitfireMk.VIII
June 1944May 1945Supermarine SpitfireMk.IXb
December 1946December 1949Supermarine SpitfireLF.16e
November 1949September 1952de Havilland VampireF.3
August 1952March 1957Gloster MeteorF.8

Squadron bases

Bases and airfields used by no. 601 Squadron, data from[16][17][18][19]
From To Base
14 October 192518 January 1927RAF Northolt, Middlesex
18 January 19272 September 1939RAF Hendon, Middlesex
2 September 193930 December 1939RAF Biggin Hill, Kent
30 December 19391 June 1940RAF Tangmere, Sussex (Dets. at Merville and Saint-Valery-en-Caux, France)
1 June 194017 June 1940RAF Middle Wallop, Hampshire
17 June 194019 August 1940RAF Tangmere, Sussex
19 August 19402 September 1940RAF Debden, Essex
2 September 19407 September 1940RAF Tangmere, Sussex
7 September 194017 December 1940RAF Exeter, Devon
17 December 19401 May 1941RAF Northolt, Middlesex
1 May 194130 June 1941RAF Manston, Kent
30 June 194116 August 1941RAF Matlaske, Norfolk
16 August 19412 January 1942RAF Duxford, Cambridgeshire
2 January 194225 March 1942RAF Acaster Malbis, York
25 March 194210 April 1942RAF Digby, Lincolnshire
10 April 194220 April 1942en route to Egypt
20 April 194223 June 1942RAF Luqa, Malta (aircrew)
23 June 194225 June 1942Maryut, Egypt (ground- and aircrew reunited)
25 June 194229 June 1942LG.13/Sidi Haneish South, Egypt
29 June 194224 July 1942LG.154, Egypt
24 July 194229 July 1942LG.173, Egypt
29 July 19425 August 1942LG.85, Egypt
5 August 194211 August 1942LG.219 Kilo 8/Matariyah/Payne Field, Egypt
11 August 194222 August 1942Helwan, Egypt
22 August 194226 September 1942LG.154, Egypt
26 September 19427 November 1942LG.92, Egypt
7 November 19429 November 1942LG.21/Qotafiyah III, Egypt
9 November 194212 November 1942LG.13/Sidi Haneish South, Egypt
12 November 194214 November 1942LG.155, Egypt
14 November 194225 November 1942LG.143/RAF Gambut West, Libya
25 November 19424 December 1942Msus, Libya
4 December 19428 December 1942El Hassiet, Libya
8 December 194221 December 1942El Nogra, Libya
21 December 194231 December 1942El Merduma, Libya
31 December 19429 January 1943Alem El Chel, Libya
9 January 194320 January 1943Hamraiet Airfield, Libya
20 January 194317 February 1943Darragh North, Libya
17 February 194326 February 1943RAF Castel Benito, Libya
26 February 19431 March 1943Hazbub Main, Tunisia
1 March 19439 March 1943Ben Gardane South, Tunisia
9 March 194311 March 1943Hazbub North, Tunisia
11 March 19434 April 1943Bu Grara, Tunisia (Det. at El Hamma, Tunisia)
4 April 194312 April 1943Gabes Main, Tunisia
12 April 194316 April 1943La Fauconnerie, Tunisia
16 April 19437 May 1943Goubrine North, Tunisia
7 May 194321 May 1943Hergla North, Tunisia
21 May 194315 June 1943Ben Gardane North, Tunisia
15 June 194313 July 1943RAF Luqa, Malta
13 July 194317 July 1943Pachino, Sicily, Italy
17 July 194325 July 1943Cassibile, Sicily, Italy
25 July 19435 October 1943Lentini West
5 October 194318 October 1943Tortorella
18 October 194326 November 1943Triolo
26 November 194318 January 1944Canne
18 January 194423 April 1944Marcianise, Italy (Det. at Madna)
23 April 194412 June 1944Venafro, Italy
12 June 194417 June 1944Littorio, Italy
17 June 19443 July 1944Fabrica, Italy
3 July 194424 August 1944Perugia, Italy
24 August 19444 September 1944Loreto, Italy
4 September 19444 December 1944Fano, Italy
4 December 19443 May 1945Bellaria, Italy
3 May 194514 August 1945Treviso, Italy
10 May 194628 March 1949RAF Hendon, Middlesex
28 March 194910 March 1957RAF North Weald, Essex

Notable pilots

For more pilots who flew with the Squadron during the Battle of Britain, see List of RAF aircrew in the Battle of Britain.

Commanding officers

Officers commanding No. 601 Squadron RAF, data from[23]
From To Name
October 1925Sqn Ldr Lord E. Grosvenor
1931Sqn Ldr Sir Philip Sassoon, MP
19311934Sqn Ldr Nigel Norman
July 1934March 1936Sqn Ldr R Shaw, DFC
March 1936December 1939Sqn Ldr B S Thynne
December 1939June 1940Sqn Ldr Loel Guinness
June 1940July 1940Sqn Ldr Sir Max Aitken, DFC
July 1940August 1940Sqn Ldr W F C Hobson
August 1940August 1940Sqn Ldr E F Ward
August 1940December 1940Sqn Ldr Sir Archibald Hope, OBE, DFC[24]
December 1940April 1941Sqn Ldr J A O'Neill, DFC
April 1941December 1941Sqn Ldr E J Gracie, DFC
December 1941March 1942Sqn Ldr E J Jones
March 1942April 1942Sqn Ldr J D Bisdee, DFC
April 1942July 1942Sqn Ldr R G A Barclay, DFC
July 1942August 1942Sqn Ldr J D Bisdee, DFC
August 1942March 1943Sqn Ldr A V Clowes, DFC, DFM
March 1943March 1943Sqn Ldr G H F Plinston, DFC
March 1943June 1943Sqn Ldr J S Taylor, DFC
June 1943September 1943Sqn Ldr Stanisław Skalski, VM, KW, DSO, DFC and two Bars
September 1943March 1944Maj M S Osler, DFC
March 1944July 1944Sqn Ldr J H Nicholls, DFC
July 1944January 1945Sqn Ldr Robert Wilkinson Turkington, DFC
January 1945May 1945Sqn Ldr C T Stimpson
June 1946June 1948Sqn Ldr The Hon. Max Aitken, DSO, DFC
June 19481950Sqn Ldr Hugh Dundas, DSO & Bar, DFC
19501952Sqn Ldr P H M Richey, DFC
1952January 1957Sqn Ldr C C MacCarthy-Jones[25]
January 1957March 1957Sqn Ldr Peter Edelston, DFC, AFC[26][27]
April 2017January 2018Wg Cdr John Chappell, MBE, AE, VR
January 2018To DateAVM Malcolm Brecht CB, CBE

Note: Sir Philip Sassoon was Member of Parliament during his Squadron Leadership of 601 Squadron.



  1. Moyes 1976, p. 272.
  2. Hunt 1972, p. 67.
  3. Moulson 1964
  4. Rawlings 1978, p. 472.
  5. Halley 1988, p. 417.
  6. Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 14.
  7. Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, pp. 100–101.
  8. Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 138.
  9. Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 53.
  10. "Defence Secretary celebrates UK's partnerships at Airpower 2017". UK Ministry of Defence. 13 July 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  11. "Battle of Britain history of No. 601 Squadron". Royal Air Force. 2004. Archived from the original on 5 October 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
  12. "601 Squadron: Millionaire flying aces of World War II". BBC News. 14 December 2010.
  13. Archived 6 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  14. Rawlings 978, pp. 475–476.
  15. Halley 1988, p. 418.
  16. Jefford 2001, p. 99.
  17. Rawlings 1978, pp. 474–475.
  18. Halley 1988, pp. 417–418.
  19. Jefford 2001, pp. 230–249.
  20. Christopher Shore; Clive Williams (15 July 2008). Aces High: A Tribute to the Most Notable Fighter Pilots of the ..., Volume 2. Grub Street Publishing. p. 335.
  21. "P/O B. P. Legge". Battle of Britain London Monument. Archived from the original on 6 January 2009. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  22. "F/O H. C. Mayers". Battle of Britain London Monument. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  23. Rawlings 1978, p. 477.
  24. "From All Quarters". Flight. 75 (2610): 148. 30 January 1959. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  25. Moulson 1964, pp. 172–177.
  26. Moulson 1964, p. 176.
  27. "Deaths Announcements: Edelston". Daily Telegraph. October 2009. Retrieved 10 October 2015.


  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.`
  • Hunt, Leslie. Twenty-one Squadrons: History of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, 1925–57. London: Garnstone Press, 1972. ISBN 0-85511-110-0. (New edition in 1992 by Crécy Publishing, ISBN 0-947554-26-2.)
  • Jefford, C.G. RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Moulson, Tom. The Flying Sword: The Story of 601 Squadron. London: Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., 1964.
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 2nd edition 1976. ISBN 0-354-01027-1.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1978. ISBN 0-354-01028-X.
  • Robinson, Anthony. RAF Squadrons in the Battle of Britain. London: Arms and Armour Press Ltd., 1987 (republished 1999 by Brockhampton Press, ISBN 1-86019-907-0.).
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