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No. 72 (Bastoland) Squadron Royal Air Force in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- No. 72 (Bastoland) Squadron Royal Air Force during the Second World War -

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No. 72 (Bastoland) Squadron Royal Air Force

   Number 72 Squadron formed at Netheravon, July 1917, was based in Basrah, disbanding in September 1919.

No 72 (Basutoland) Squadron was reformed 22nd February 1937, when 'B' Flight of No 1 Squadron at Tangmere was increased to squadron strength. It flew Gladiators at Church Fenton until April 1939 when Spitfires were delivered. At the outbreak of WWII, No. 72 was in the north of England on air defence and convoy protection. The squadron moved south to support the evacuation at Dunkirk in June 1940. During the Battle of Britain, No 72 spent the early days at Acklington as part of No 13 Group, before moving south during September to aid the main defence force. In September 1942, the Squadron moved to Gibraltar to support the Tunisian campaign before moving on to Malta in June 1943 with the updated Spitfire IX, used to support the Allied Eighth Army as it advanced through Sicily. In 1944 it was in Corsica, then moved to France. With German surrender the squadron moved to Austria. It was disbanded there in December 1946.
Airfields No. 72 Squadron flew from.

  • RAF Church Fenton, Yorkshire from 3rd September 1939
  • RAF Leconfield, Yorkshire from 17th October 1939
  • RAF Church Fenton from 1st November 1939
  • RAF Drem, East Lothian from 1st December 1939
  • RAF Leconfield, Yorkshire from 12th January 1940
  • RAF Church Fenton from 13th January 1940
  • RAF Acklington, Northumberland from 2nd March 1940
  • RAF Gravesend, Kent from 1st June 1940
  • RAF Acklington from 5th June 1940
  • RAF Biggin Hill, Kent from 31st August 1940
  • RAF Croydon, Surrey from 1st September 1940
  • RAF Biggin Hill from 12 September 1940
  • RAF Leconfield, Yorkshire from 13th October 1940
  • RAF Coltishall, Norfolk from 20th October 1940
  • RAF Leuchars, Fife from 29th November 1940
  • RAF Acklington, Northumberland from 15th December 1940
  • RAF Gravesend, Kent from 8th July 1941
  • RAF Biggin Hill, Kent from 26th July 1941
  • RAF Gravesend from 20th October 1941
  • RAF Biggin Hill from 22nd March 1942
  • RAF Lympne, Kent from 30th June 1942
  • RAF Biggin Hill from 7th July 1942
  • RAF Morpeth, Northumberland from 4th August 1942
  • RAF Ayr, Ayrshire from 12th August 1942
  • RAF Ouston, Northumberland from 26th September 1942 to 8th November 1942
  • RAF Maison Blanche from 8th November 1942


15th Aug 1940 Eagle Day

15th August 1940 

If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.

Those known to have served with

No. 72 (Bastoland) Squadron Royal Air Force

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Pigg Oswald St. John. F/O. (d.2nd Sep 1940)
  • Smith William .
  • Winter D. C.. P/O.
  • Young Mervyn F.S.. F/Lt.

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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William Smith 72 Squadron

I am the Grand Daughter of William Smith (Bill), and I have been learning the stories today of his time in service in the RAF WW2, Squadron flying Spitfires from Biggin Hill. I have heard some totally mind blowing events, and I am so proud of my Granddad! I feel now, I have to try and do something for him... He has just recently lost his wife, and I would love him to know we all care, and honour him as a person/ Granddad, and a war hero, as many of you are. I would love to find out if there are any events, I could bring my Granddad to in relation to the Spitfires, or 72 Squadron of Biggin Hill. He has not managed to attend such things in the past, but I will make sure we get him there now. His ultimate dream would be to go up in a Spitfire! I have been reading that there is only 3/4 two seaters in the uk, but they are not licensed to carry paying passengers. Would anyone be able to let me know if there is any possibility that a old servent of the RAF, would be able to attend a display, or get a flight in one of these planes. I am so desperate to spark his spirit again, I would appreciate any information on where to bring him for a reunion, or see Spitfires flying again.


F/O. Oswald St. John "Ossie" Pigg 72 Squadron (d.2nd Sep 1940)

Oswald St John Pigg was born in Jarrow in 1918 and was the son of the Reverend John James Pigg and Mabel Tyson Pigg of Chatton Vicarage, Northumberland. He went to the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle. Rev John Pigg, was curate at St John's Church in Grainger Street, Newcastle, then chaplain at Durham Prison and vicar of Chatton in Northumberland.

F/O Oswald St John Pigg served in the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain. He joined the RAF in March 1937 on a Short Service Commission and was posted to 72 Sqn at Church Fenton on 27 November 1937. On June 2, 1940 he shot down a Ju87 over Dunkirk, then crash-landed, slightly wounding himself, at Gravesend. On 15 August 1940 Oswald shot down a Bf109. The 22-year-old had been involved in an aerial fight and he died when his Spitfire, P9458, was shot down by a Messerschmitt 109 at 11:15am on September 1, 1940. His aircraft crashed and burned out at Elvey Farm, Pluckley. Oswald lies in the Cemetery at Durham, St. Oswald’s Burial Ground and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.

Vin Mullen

F/Lt. Mervyn F.S. Young 129 Sqn, 72 Sqn

Mervyn Young with 129 Sqn at RAF Ibsley in the summer of 1943

A good friend of mine was based at RAF Hornchurch in 1943 - Flt Lt Mervyn Young of 129 Sqn & later 72 Sqn in Italy & Europe. He flew Spitfire DV-R (Serial No MH384). Mervyn told me that he was inspired to become a fighter pilot after watching the Howard Hughes Movie Hells Angels about WW1 Fighter pilots. He said his flight commander ‘Wag’ Haw had the same thoughts after seeing the movie.

He flew many missions in Europe including Ram-rod missions in support of the daylight bombing raids, mostly B17’s including the famous Memphis Belle at one time. On one sortie his No 2 Sgt Carmichael was shot down & killed but in 2003 his aircraft was recovered & in Sept' 2003 Mervyn was among the memorial parade with full miltary honours for Sgt Carmichael; lost on a sortie over Belgium & located 60 years later, the fateful sortie was flown while Mervyn was based at RAF Hornchurch.

Sadly Mervyn passed away in March 2006, I enclose a photo taken at RAF Ibsley in his Spit' DV-R (MH384) complete with his mascot logo of Jiminy Cricket.

David Perry

P/O. D. C. Winter 72 Squadron

D.C. Winter served in 72 Sqn. I have a hand written combat report for this officer dated 15th August 1940. He reports shooting down 2 ME110s 30 miles east of Farne Is. He was in Green Sect. of "A" Flt.

John Hughes

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