For more than three years the pilots of RAF’s 253 Squadron flew Hurricanes in combat from locations as varied as northern Scotland to the deserts of North Africa. In the first of two parts Tom Spencer recounts the unit’s history.

Fighter Command rapidly expanded after World War Two broke out and quickly assembled squadrons with any available equipment. The re- formation of 253 Sqn was a perfect example. It re-formed at Manston, Kent, as part of 11 Group on October 30, 1939, intended for the long-range fighter role. Commanded by Sqn Ldr E D Elliott, most of the squadron were from an entire course of ab initio pilots at 2 Flying Training School (FTS).

With a national shortage of fighters, 253’s initial equipment was the Miles Magister trainer which, with its open-cockpit and low top speed, was hardly suitable to train men who would soon be trying to halt the battle- hardened Luftwaffe.

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