Monday, 25 August 1941

No. 1419 Flight becomes No. 138 Squadron

For months, almost as far back as March when the Flight had been forced to add an extra digit for the Canadians’ administrative convenience, several senior officers had been manoeuvring for the creation of a Special Duties unit of squadron strength to service the increasing level of demand by SOE. Air Marshal Harris, who as Deputy Chief of the Air Staff (DCAS) had effectively blocked any expansion of SD air operations, had departed for the USA in June, leaving his post to AVM Norman Bottomley.

Teddy Knowles had been promoted to Wing Commander on 27 June, and would continue to command the unit, now to become No. 138 Squadron. In the First World War it had been a bomber squadron, disbanded with the peace. Knowles had played a full part in the Flight’s operational schedule. From now he would fly fewer operations, not least because he was running out of operational flying hours.

For those at Newmarket little would change for some time: the squadron was to be operated on an ‘enhanced Flight’ basis. This meant, in effect, that expansion would be gradual, with only one or two additional crews available for operations. Meanwhile, General Sikorski had been agitating for the creation of a Polish SD Flight intended create an ‘air bridge’ to supply the Home Army in Poland. Nor was the Czech government-in-exile to be left out. The joint pressure resulted in Bottomley allocating one Polish and one Czech crew to 138 Squadron. On 11 August two Polish crews had been sent to OTU for conversion, and a Czech crew followed. They would be tasked as all the other members of the squadron, according to the operational needs, not just to targets in eastern Europe.