No. 656 Squadron RAF

No. 656 Squadron RAF was an Air Observation Post unit of the Royal Air Force in India and Burma during the Second World War and afterwards in British Malaya. Numbers 651 to 663 Squadron of the RAF were Air Observation Post units working closely with British Army units in artillery spotting and liaison. A further three of these squadrons, 664–666, were manned with Canadian personnel. Their duties and squadron numbers were transferred to the Army with the formation of the Army Air Corps on 1 September 1957[2][3] With this it became 656 Light Aircraft Squadron Army Air Corps.

No. 656 Squadron RAF
Active31 Dec 1942 – 15 Jan 1947
29 Jun 1948 – 1 Sep 1957
Country United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
RoleAir Observation Post Squadron
Motto(s)Latin: Volans et videns
(Translation: "Flying and seeing")[1]
Squadron Badge heraldryIn front of two gun barrels in saltire, a Chinthe head[1]
Aircraft flown
Reconnaissancede Havilland Tiger Moth
Auster AOP.6
Auster AOP.9


Formation and World War II

No. 656 Squadron was formed at RAF Westley on 31 December 1942.[4] It embarked for India in August 1943 and went into action during the Burma campaign with the Fourteenth Army. Several officers were decorated, among them Captain Edward Maslen-Jones who was awarded DFC and MC.[5]

The squadron was to take part in the Allied invasion of Malaya, but the Japanese surrendered before this took place and the squadron disbanded on 15 January 1947.

Reformation and Operation Firedog

The squadron reformed from No. 1914 Flight RAF on 29 June 1948 at Sembawang in Malaya and served in British Malaya to support Army and Police against Communist guerillas before it went over to Army control in September 1957. 656 Squadron performed a total of 143,000 operations in Malaya during Operation Firedog.

Aircraft operated

Aircraft operated by no. 656 Squadron RAF, data from[6][7]
January 1943August 1943de Havilland Tiger MothMk.II
January 1943March 1943AusterMk.I
February 1943August 1943AusterMk.III
November 1943June 1945AusterMk.III
October 1944June 1945AusterMk.IV
February 1945January 1947AusterMk.V
June 1948May 1951AusterAOP.5
July 1950April 1956AusterAOP.6
September 1955September 1957AusterAOP.9



  1. Halley 1988, pp. 445–446.
  2. Halley 1988, p. 444.
  3. Jefford 2001, pp. 102–105.
  4. Maslen-Jones 1997, pp. 4 and 172.
  5. Michael Ashcroft (13 September 2012). Heroes of the Skies. Headline. ISBN 978-0-7553-6391-9.
  6. Halley 1988, p. 447.
  7. Jefford 2001, pp. 103–104.


  • Flintham, Vic and Andrew Thomas. Combat Codes: A full explanation and listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied air force unit codes since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
  • 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.
  • 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 Ltd., 1988 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Maslen-Jones, E.W., MC, DFC. Fire by Order: Recollections of Service with 656 Air Observation Post Squadron in Burma. Barnsley, UK: Leo Cooper/Pen And Sword Books, 1997. ISBN 0-85052-557-8. 656 Squadron Association
  • Warner, Guy. From Auster to Apache: The history of 656 Squadron RAF/AAC 1942-2012. Barnsley, UK: Pen And Sword Books, 2013. ISBN 978-1-78159-098-0. 656 Squadron Association
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