No 3 R.A.F. Beach Squadron, consisting of 105 and 106 Beach Flights was formed for the Normandy invasion (Operation “OVERLORD” ), but was held in reserve in England and did not take part in the landings. It started from scratch as No. 3 R.A.F. Beach Unit in August 1943 and was renamed as No. 3 R.A.F. Beach Squadron in April 1944.
No. 3 R.A.F. Beach Unit
On the 21st August 1943 Wing Commander L H Wesson arrived at R.A.F. West Kirby to take command of the newly formed No 3 R.A.F. Beach Unit. Straight away, unit personnel moved to Scotland for training. 105 Beach Section were attached to the Army’s No 9 Beach Group working with 2 Battalion Herts Regiment commanded by Lt. Col. J R Harper. When No 10 Beach Group was formed on 15 September 1943 under the command of Lt. Col H S Cooper, 106 Beach Section joined with that unit.
On 15th November 1943 No 3 R.A.F. Beach Unit Headquarters together with 104 Sub Area Beach H.Q. moved to new Headquarters located at Doonholme House, Alloway, Ayr.
No 54 R.A.F. Beach Balloon Unit were attached to 105 Beach Section and No 55 R.A.F. Beach Balloon Unit were attached to 106 Beach Section.
Early in March 1944 No 3 R.A.F. Beach Unit moved from Ayr in Scotland to Putney, London and then on 20th March the Unit moved to R.A.F. Old Sarum, Wiltshire at which date they ceased to operate with 104 Beach Sub Area, being replaced by No 4 R.A.F. Beach Unit.
On 28th March F/Lt Taylor (officer of 105 Beach Section) was posted to No 4 R.A.F. Beach Unit. (Promoted to Squadron Leader, Taylor was to command 107 Beach Flight on Gold King beach.)
No. 3 R.A.F. Beach Squadron
On 17th April 1944, in common with Nos 1, 2 and 4 Beach Units, the title of 2nd T.A.F.’s No. 3 Beach Unit was changed from “Beach Unit” to “Beach Squadron” and the Beach Sections became Beach Flights.
S/Ldr J A Lawson, commander of 106 Beach Flight (who had been commended for bravery in the London Gazette No. 36309 dated 31st Dec ‘43) was posted to 89 Embarkation Unit on the 1st May, and F/Lt J L Seymour followed him from 106 beach Flight to 89 E.U. eight days later. (Ted Inge, who knew ‘Lofty’ Lawson when they were both at No. 3 Embarkation Unit, Liverpool was to find S/Ldr Lawson in charge of 89 Embarkation Unit when he joined the Unit in Arromanches.)
Later that month, F/Lt H. Palmer, from 105 Beach Flight and then F/Lt E S Archibold from 106 Beach Flight went to No. 1 Beach Squadron. F/Lt R M Ashton from 106 Beach Flight went to No. 4 Beach Squadron as did F/O W L Smith who was swapped with F/O G Taplin from No. 4 Beach Squadron. F/O Smith had only been with No. 3 Beach Squadron for a month, having been posted from R.A.F. Chigwell for Signals Duties on 15th April. He became the officer in charge of No. 4 Beach Squadron signals section.
Despite these movements, the Squadron was not losing strength at this time. All the officers transferring to other units were replaced.
The Squadron was not used in the Normandy landings. However, on the 14th June, eight days after D-Day, F/Lt A R Kelly together with the Landing Section of 105 Beach Flight was sent to Normandy to operate with No 2 Beach Squadron and on 28th June the Provost Sections of 105 and 106 Beach Flights were also posted for duty with No 2 Beach Squadron in Normandy.
The C.O., W/Cdr Wesson left the Squadron on 26th June for temporary duty with 2nd T.A.F., B.U.C.O. (West). [B.U.C.O. was the Build Up Control Organisation that handled the movement of units from England to the Continent]
No. 3 R.A.F. Beach Squadron was disbanded with effect from 24th July 1944.
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