Commonwealth countries made a huge contribution to the RAF’s operations during World War Two. Among them was 266 Squadron, the only Rhodesian-manned unit in Fighter Command, which established a fine reputation in the skies over Western Europe.
Formed on October 30, 1939, Spitfire Is arrived in early 1940 to replace 266’s interim Fairey Battles. It became operational in May and was in action over the Dunkirk beaches on June 2, 1940. Moving south 266 saw action in the Battle of Britain during August when in little more than a week it claimed nine destroyed, six ‘probables’ and 11 damaged for the loss of six pilots killed and five wounded.
On August 21, the unit moved to Wittering to rest and reform. Through the autumn and early winter months 266 maintained readiness. It flew sector patrols and convoy escorts into 1941.