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No. 86 Squadron R.A.F.

Description of the Squadron's BadgeA gull Volant, carrying in the beak a flash of lightning
Squadron's Motto:Ad libertatem volamus (We fly for liberty)
Formation date:
Brief History:
Disbanded 4/7/18, Reformed 30/10/18 and disbanded 11/11/18. Reformed 6/12/40 and Disbanded 16/4/45. Reformed 6/1945? and transferred to Transport Command and disbanded 16/4/46
Battle Honours:
Squadron Bases & Airfields Equipment Used and Dates
Gosport, Hampshire 06/12/40 Blenheim IV: Dec 1940 - Jul 1941
Leuchars, Fife, 02/02/41 Beaufort I: Jun 1941 - Jul 1942
Wattisham, Suffolk, 03/03/41 Liberator IIIa: Oct 1942 - Aug 1944
Ipswich, Suffolk, 04/03/41 Liberator V: Mar 1943 - Feb 1945
North Coates, Lincolnshire, 01/06/41 Liberator VIII: Feb 1945 - Apr 1946
North Coates, Lincolnshire, 12/05/41
Leuchars, Fife, 12/09/41
St. Eval, Cornwall, 13/12/41
St. Eval, Cornwall, 10/01/42
Thorney Island, Hampshire, 16/02/42
North Coates, Lincolnshire, 21/02/42
Leuchars, Fife, 22/02/42
Wick, Caithness, 09/03/42
Skitten, Caithness, 18/03/42
Thorney Island, Hampshire, 31/07/42
Aldergrove, County Antrim, 18/03/43
Ballykelly, Londonderry, 04/09/43
Reykjavik, Iceland, 24/03/44
Tain, Caithness, 05/06/44
Tain, Caithness, 28/06/44
Oakington, Cambridgeshire, 01/08/45
No.86 Squadron was formed on 1 September 1917 at Wye but did not become operational before being disbanded on 4 July 191 8, to provide reinforcements for active units in France. It began to reform as a ground attack squadron on 30 October 1918, but this was suspended when the Armistice was signed two weeks later. No.86 reformed on 6 December 1940 at Gosport and began convoy escort duties off the East Anglian coast on 28 March 1941. In June, re-equipment with Beauforts began and minelaying sorties started on 15 July. After flying reconnaissance and air-sea rescue missions for three months, the squadron’s crews passed through a torpedo training course and anti-shipping strikes began on 11 November with the first torpedo-bomber operation taking place on 12 Dec­ember. A detachment sent to St. Eval on 13 December was joined by the rest of the squadron in January 1942, and anti-shipping patrols were flown off the French coast until March, when the squadron moved to northern Scotland. Patrols and strikes off the Norwegian coast continued until July when No.86 sent its aircraft to the Middle East and moved to Thorney Island where it was reduced to a cadre on 26 August 1 942 . Fresh aircrews began arriving early in October, Liberators being received for the conversion training of No.160 Squadron. By the end of the month, No.86’s own crews were converting and the squadron flew its first patrol on 16 February 1943, from St. Eval. In March, it moved to Northern Ireland to fly anti-submarine patrols for a year before moving to Iceland. In July 1944, the squadron returned to Scotland for the rest of the war and on 10 June 1945 No.86 joined Transport Command’s No.301 Wing. Trooping flights to India began in October and continued until disbandment took place on 25 April 1946.
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Posted: 5 years 3 months ago by fionasmith #4864
fionasmith's Avatar
Hi both, my great uncle Denis Crowther was a member of 86 Squadron and was also based at Tain in 1945. Could we see the photograph from Dinah Ballantyne taken of the crew at that time as my uncle may well have been in it! Email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Many thanks!
Posted: 8 years 1 month ago by Gary #4165
Gary's Avatar
Hi Dinah
I'd love a copy of that photo for this site could you send it to
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As for P/O McCarthy it's not so easy to find information on someone if you aren't a relative, but not impossible. would probably be your starting point but it will cost you 30 pounds to get the records.
You can also go to the Public Records office in Kew or to their online catalog and this link will help
Posted: 8 years 1 month ago by Dinah Ballantyne #4164
Dinah Ballantyne's Avatar
Hallo - I feel a bit of a fraud as my interest is 'family history' but in m y research have become fascinated by all I have read. How can I find info on P/O Navigator RE McCarthy, 86 Squadron? I have a photo of the crew dated Tain 1945 taken beside a Liberator which I would be delighted to send. Kind regards, Dinah Ballantyne.