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No. 31 Squadron (SAAF) was formed in December 1939 by amalgamating No. 13 (B.R.) Squadron, redesignated "A" Flight, and No. 14 (B.R.) Squadron, redesignated "B" Flight. They flew as a Coastal Squadron with Natal and Eastern Province Commands sharing their HQ with No. 32 (Coastal) Squadron. They flew Junkers Ju 86's and one Blenheim Mk 1 which was allocated to "A" Flight, on 10th of June 1940 this aircraft attacked the Italian ship Timaryo, which was forced to run aground. The Junkers were replaced by Avro Ansons. On the 1st of Sepetmebr 1940 "A" Flight was redesignated No. 31 Coastal Reconnaissance Flight flying from Durban and "B" Flight was redesignated No. 33 Coastal Reconnaissance Flight flying from Port Elizabeth. On 1 July 1942 No. 31 Coastal Reconnaissance Flight was disbanded and renamed No. 22 Torpedo Bomber Reconnaissance Squadron.
In January 19444 No. 31 Squadron (SAAF) was re-established as No. 31 Heavy Bomber Squadron at Zwartkop Air Station and departed for North Africa in January 1944 arriving at the SAAF Base Depot at Almaza. The aircrews converted to the Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber at No. 1675 Conversion Unit at Lydda, Palestine. In April 1944 a base camp, Kilo 40, was established forty kilometers north of Cairo, being joined by No. 34 Squadron under the controll of No. 2 Wing, SAAF.
The first operational sorties were flown on 27th May 1944 against the German-occupied island of Crete. In June 1944 the squadron moved to Foggia in southern Italy as part of No. 205 Group, RAF. The squadron took part in a large-scale air offensive against the petroleum industry in eastern European countries supporting Nazi Germany and in mine-laying sorties along the Danube river and later the Ploesti oilfields of Rumania. The Squadron (with 34 Sqn) is most famous, along with the USAAF squadrons, and RAF 178 squadron, for flying During the uprising of the Polish resistance under General Bor Komorowski 31 adn 34 Squadron s flew supplied to Warsaw, suffering heavy losses in August 1944.
After the end of the war in Europe the squadron flew troops and POW's to England until 5th December 1945, being disbanded on the 6th December 1945.
Airfields at which No.31 Squadron (SAAF) were based:
- Port Elizabeth
- Zwartkop Air Station
- Kilo 40, near Cairo.
Frederick George Coates
Taken in 1943 or 44
Foggia December 1944
Feb 1944 course 26 ab 41 air school South Africa
Back row: Bates, Atherton, Stanger, Martin, Fretwell, Matthews, Boughen, Horder
Middle row: Magee, Billington, elly, Stevens, Seddon, Ross, Greg, Coates
Front row: Crenchley, Besoick, Cooper, ?, ?, Collins, Noonan, Andrew, Murphy
Kneeling; Aitken, Lyne
F G Coates, Foggia Sept 1944
Celone Foggia Sept 1944
Arthur, Ken, Ray, John and Freddie at 24 air school, Nigel, South Africa.
Admin block, sisters mess and car park, No 3 RAF Hospital, Tel Litwinsky Oct 45
Playing poker at 24 Air School in South Africa 1943.
I have recently obtained these photos, taken by my father, Freddie Coates during his time with 31 and 34 Squadrons, SAAF Group, 205.
If you have any Photographs you would like to share please get in touch.
List of those who served with 31 Squadron (SAAF) during World War Two.
- Frederick George Coates Read his Story
If you have any names to add to this list, or any recollections or photos of those listed, please get in touch.
If you have a story which you would like to share, or a website dedicated to a soldier or regiment please get in touch. Add Your Story
Allied Forces Index
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