History of the Association
The 609 Squadron Association was initiated in 1965 by two young ex 609 Squadron pilots who thought it wrong that such a famous squadron should disappear without trace, having been disbanded by the government in 1957.
The original intention was, at a minimum, to have a memorial. But the first move had to be the raising of cash. These two pilots started contacting other ex 609 people in Yorkshire and they in turn put them in touch with others. Within a few months they had phoned pilots and ground-crew not only in the UK but throughout Europe and as far as Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. In no time there were over 140 who had joined in and the basis of the association was there.
Air Vice Marshall Geoffrey Ambler, who was our second commanding officer, accepted our invitation to be President and a committee of six came in to being under the chairmanship of David R Shaw, one of the two pilots. Malcolm Slingsby, the other pilot was vice chairman.
It was decided that the Leeds/Bradford airport was the perfect place for the memorial as the squadron had been formed there in 1936 when it was called Yeadon Airport. The airport committee agreed and with their full support the memorial was unveiled in 1966 by Harald Peake, the first commanding officer. This memorial is still proudly in position. Following events included a lunch at which fourteen of the squadrons commanding officers spoke and which surely must be a record for any squadron.
This was followed by publication of the book `Under the White Rose' written by Frank Zeigler the Squadron`s intelligence office for much of the second world war, and based on information supplied by association members, it is a complete history of 609 up to 1957. And later the opening of a squadron room at the Yorkshire Air Museum near York which is now being constantly up dated and is well worth a visit.
The association still meets twice a year, in the summer for an Annual General Meeting at different service venues and in the autumn for an informal gathering at Yeadon within a few yards of the original squadron base in 1936. Membership is still around the one hundred level and although many are relatives of serving members, new members are joining from the new 609 Squadron at RAF Leeming and others who have a strong interest in 609 (West Riding) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force.
A newsletter is published several times a year for members.
A famous squadron which fought throughout the second world war without break and which was the first Spitfire squadron in the RAF to be officially credited with the destruction both 100 and 200 enemy aircraft is being remembered due to the work of the 609 Squadron Association.
Written by Dave Shaw - Vice President & Co-Founder of the Association
AIM OF THE ASSOCIATION
THE 609 SQUADRON ASSOCIATION EXISTS TO :-
1. To maintain the memory of a famous Yorkshire Auxiliary Air Force fighter squadron and of those who risked their lives and died in the defence of their country against invasion. Originally Yorkshiremen but later with the help of many European pilots whose countries had been invaded and who came to fight with us.
2. To erect and maintain suitable memorials to 609 (WR) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, so that future generations could remember the sacrifice given by this dedicated team of men, including ground-crew who kept the aircraft flying by working round the clock in dangerous situations.
3. To remind all that 609 was started at Yeadon as a team of Yorkshire civilian volunteers who achieved such a standard part time that they became one of the most famous Battle of Britain Spitfire squadrons, and later went on to aid the freedom of Europe.
© 609 (WR) Squadron Association