No. 131 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

No. 131 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No. 131 Squadron (RAF) during the Second World War

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No.131 Squadron was a fighter squadron that spent most of the Second World War operating from Britain, flying a mix of defensive and offensive duties, before moving to the Far East where it never began fully operational.

The squadron was reformed at Ouston on 30 June 1941 as a Spitfire fighter squadron. It became operational in September, performing defensive duties from Atcham. In February 1942 the squadron moved to Wales, and flew defensive patrols over convoys in the Irish Sea. In May the squadron moved to southern England, and began offensive operations for the first time, taking part in offensive sweeps across France.

Defensive duties resumed in January 1943 when the squadron moved to northern Scotland to provide fighter cover for the vital naval base at Scapa Flow. During this period the squadron also carried out some deck landing training on the carrier HMS Argus, which was based in the Clyde and used as a training carrier by the Fleet Air Arm. No.131 Squadron's training was in preparation for possible amphibious operations, but these never actually took place. In June the squadron moved to south-west England, where it resumed its offensive sweeps, this time over north-western France. The squadron also provided fighter cover over convoys around the coast of the south-west.

In March 1944 the squadron converted to the high altitude Spitfire VII, which it used on bomber escort duties. This was followed by a move to Friston in August, from where the squadron provided escorts for day bombers. This lasted until mid-October when the squadron became non-operational, in preparation for a move to the Far East.

The move began in November, and the squadron was reunited at Amarda Road by 5 February 1945. It had been planned to give the squadron the Spitfire VIII but these aircraft were instead used to equip the squadrons of the Royal Indian Air Force, and on 10 June 1945 the squadron disbanded.

On 26 June No.134 Squadron at Ulundurpet was renumbered as No.131. This squadron had been using its Thunderbolts over Burma, but in June it was training for the upcoming invasion of Malaya. The Japanese surrender meant that this never took place and instead the squadron was able to make a peaceful move to Kuala Lumpur. It was disbanded on 31 December 1945.

July-September 1941: Supermarine Spitfire I
September-December 1941: Supermarine Spitfire IIA
December 1941-September 1943: Supermarine Spitfire VB and VC
September 1943-March 1944: Supermarine Spitfire IX
March-November 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VII

February-June 1945: Supermarine Spitfire VIII
June-December 1945: Republic Thunderbolt II

June 1941: Ouston
July-August 1941: Catterick
August-September 1941: Ternhill
September 1941-February 1942: Atcham
February-March 1942: Llanbedr
March-April 1942: Valley
April-May 1942: Llanbedr
May-August 1942: Merston
August 1942: Ipswich
August 1942-September 1942: Tangmere
September-November 1942: Thorney Island
November 1942-January 1943: Westhampnett
January-June 1943: Castletown
June-August 1943: Exeter
August-September 1943: Redhill
September 1943-February 1944: Churchstanton
February-March 1944: Colerne
March-May 1944: Harrowbeer
May-August 1944: Culmhead
August 1944-February 1945: Friston
February-April 1945: Amarda Road
April-June 1945: Dalbumgarh

June-August 1945: Ulundurpet
August 1945: Bobbili
August-September 1945: Baigachi
September 1945: Zayatkwin
September-December 1945: Kuala Lumpur

Squadron Codes: NX

6 June 1944: No.10 Group, Air Defence of Great Britain, Allied Expeditionary Air Force


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File:Squadron Leader N G Pedley, the CO of No. 131 Squadron RAF, about to set out on a sweep in his Supermarine Spitfire Mk VB from Merston, a satellite airfield of Tangmere in Sussex, June 1942. CH5883.jpg

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The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (416968) Warrant Officer Malcolm Clair Keightley, No. 146 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by , the story for this day was on (416968) Warrant Officer Malcolm Clair Keightley, No. 146 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War.

416968 Warrant Officer Malcolm Clair Keightley, No. 146 Squadron, Royal Air Force
KIA 24 April 1945
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 31 March 2015

Today we pay tribute to Warrant Officer Malcolm Clair Keightley, who was killed on active service with the Royal Air Force in 1945.

Born in Keswick, South Australia, on 17 December 1922, Malcolm was the son of Herbert and Amy Keightley. The young Keightley attend the Unley Central School in 1935 before attending Adelaide High School from 1936 to 1938. A keen sportsman, Keightley played football, cricket, soccer, and tennis and enjoyed hiking and swimming.

Following highschool, Keightley worked as an accounts and sales clerk before enlisting in the Royal Australian Air Force on 8 November 1941. He began training as a pilot and in January 1943 embarked for overseas service. As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme he was one of almost 16,000 RAAF pilots, navigators, wireless operators, gunners, and engineers who joined Royal Air Force squadrons throughout the course of the war.

Once in Britain he undertook further specialist training until completing his training. In March 1944 he was transferred to India, where he was posted to No. 146 Squadron, Royal Air Force. Based in Calcutta, No. 146 Squadron was a fighter squadron flying the single-engine Hawker Hurricane until June 1944, when it flew the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt.

It was on an operation over southern Burma on 24 April 1945 in which the P-47 Thunderbolt piloted by Keightley crashed. Suffering fatal injuries, he died aged 22.
His body is buried in the British and Commonwealth Rangoon War Cemetery in Yangon, Myanmar.

Keightley’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with some 40,000 Australians killed in the Second World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Warrant Officer Malcolm Clair Keightley, and all of those Australians who gave their lives during the Second World War.