Sponsored Squadrons at RAF Hornchurch in World War 2

An unusual aspect of the Battle of Britain was the sponsored squadron. RAF Hornchurch had its share of these. A sponsor didn’t pay for specific Spitfires. They contributed an amount, which was the equivalent of the cost. The RAF then designated a squadron’s number with the name in brackets. Sponsored squadrons reflected the patriotic feelings of British cities and countries in the Empire. India, which was in the throes of Gandhi’s Quit India movement, contributed a great deal towards the defence of Britain.

Eleven squadrons served in Hornchurch during the war. ‘The Few’ flew from Hornchurch and suffered many casualties whilst defeating the Luftwaffe. Less well known was the international financial support Britain received in this crucial battle. Of Hornchurch’s eleven squadrons, seven were sponsored from across the Empire and Britain (see Addendum).

Financial resources were provided in a great world-wide rush of good feeling towards Britain and were very important to our ultimate victory. This is an unglamorous but important aspect of the Battle of Britain. Nazi Germany’s repulsive government provoked fear, not respect, and these sponsored squadrons demonstrate this truth vividly.

Addendum: sponsored squadrons

Squadron 74 (Trinidad)

Squadron 122 (Bombay)

Squadron 222 (Natal)

Squadron 264 (Madras Presidency)

Squadron 266 (Rhodesia)

Squadron 600 (City of London)

Squadron 603 (City of Edinburgh)


For Hornchurch’s Battle of Britain squadrons and casualties see http://www.rafhornchurch.thehumanjourney.net/squadrons.htm

For a list of RAF Hornchurch squadrons see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Hornchurch

For a critical analysis of ‘The Few’ in the battle of Britain see https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/the-few-who-saved-britain-were-even-fewer-than-everyone-thought-5369212.html

For Squadron 74’s WW2 service history see http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/74_wwII.html

2 thoughts on “Sponsored Squadrons at RAF Hornchurch in World War 2

  1. Unfortunately, you have some facts wrong. Both No. 600 Squadron and No. 603 Squadron were both pre-war RAF Auxiliary Air Force Squadrons and were not funded by towns. No. 603 was formed in October 1925, firstly as a bomber squadron, then changed later to a fighter squadron. Strangely, you have omitted No. 65 Squadron whose aircraft were funded by the East India Company in 1940


    1. Thank you for your comment.

      I reviewed the squadron 600 just now and it was indeed a pre-war squadron but it is also cited as being: ‘City of London’. I include sources in my blog. In essence you claim that the source is incorrect, which is possible, but I think that I’d need compelling counter evidence before I’d edit the blog.

      Squadron 65 isn’t cited as being part of the group of sponsored squadrons at Hornchurch. Once again I will gladly edit it if you offer evidence.


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