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No. 136 Squadron RAF
Active 1 Apr 1918 - 4 Jul 1918
20 Aug 1941 - 8 May 1946
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Part of RAF Third Tactical Air Force, South East Asia Command
Nickname(s) The Woodpeckers
Motto(s) Latin: Nihil Fortius
("Nothing is stronger")[1]
"Nothing too though" (squadron use)[2]
Engagements Arakan Campaign 1942–1943, Burma Campaign, Battle of Imphal
Squadron Badge heraldry Upon the side of a stem of tree erect, a green woodpecker.[3]
The woodpecker was chosen as the squadrons original call-sign was "Woodpecker"[1]
Squadron Codes HM (Dec 1943 - May 1946)[4][5]

No. 136 Squadron RAF was a short-lived RAF unit that saw no action in World War I, but upon reformation became the highest scoring unit in South East Asia Command during World War II.[6] Shortly after the war the squadron was disbanded.


Formation in World War I

No. 136 squadron was officially formed on 1 April 1918 at Lake Down, as a service unit -not a training unit[7]-, working up for the Airco DH.9, using a variety of aircraft.[8] Following Air Ministry letter C4519 of 4 July of that year however it was disbanded, together with 12 other such units. Plans to reinstate the squadron in September as laid out in Air Organisation Memorandum 939 of 13 July 1918 came to nought as Air Organisation Memorandum 999 of 17 August 1918 cancelled these.[8]

World War II


The squadron was reformed at RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey, Lincolnshire on 20 August 1941 as a fighter squadron, flying Hawker Hurricanes and became operational on 28 September, doing shipping patrols and scrambles. This lasted only one month as the squadron was scheduled to move to the Middle East] on 9 November to support Russian forces in the Caucasus and so protecting the vital Middle East oil fields.[9]

On the road to...

En route however the destination was changed to the Far East, following the news of Pearl Harbor and the sinking of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse.[10] On arrival in India the squadron was redirected to Burma, arriving there at Rangoon in early February 1942. However, because of the fast advance of the Japanese forces it was necessary to withdraw the squadron back to India again, 26 February to Dum Dum and a day later Asansol, and before the squadron had chances to become really operational. Attacks by the Japanese forces and accidents had the squadron with only six flyable Hurricanes left by this time.[11]

India and Burma

Regrouped as an operational squadron on 31 March 1942 around Alipore, still on Hurricanes, the squadron provided convoy patrols and air defence of the Calcutta area, but in December it began operating detachments over the Burmese front and by the end of the month it moved to Chittagong to continue these operations from there. Returning to India at RAF Amarda Road in November 1943 for a training course,[12] the squadron meanwhile had converted to Spitfire Mk.Vs in October and returned to the Burmese front with them in December 1943.

Ceylon and the Cocos Islands

In January 1944 the Spitfire Mk.Vs went to another unit[nb 1] and were replaced with Spitfire Mk.VIIIs. In July the squadron moved to Ceylon, flying from Ratmalana and later from Minneriya. At the end of March 1945, the Squadron ground echelon had left for the Cocos Islands and the squadron's aircraft began flying upon completion of the airstrip there a month later.[13]


After the Japanese surrender the squadron re-located to RAF Tengah, Singapore in October and from there went on to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in November 1945, where they received Spitfire Mk.XIVs and where it remained until 8 May 1946, when the squadron embarked for India. Arriving in Bombay, the squadron was disbanded on 8 May 1946 by being renumbered to No. 152 Squadron RAF.[8]

Aircraft operated

From To Aircraft Variant
Apr 1918 Jul 1918 Various
Aug 1941 Nov 1941 Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIb
Oct 1941 Nov 1941 Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIa
Apr 1942 Mar 1943 Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIb
Mar 1943 Oct 1943 Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIc
Oct 1943 Feb 1944 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vc
Jan 1944 May 1946 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VIII
Feb 1946 May 1946 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XIV


Squadron bases

From To Name
Apr 1918 Jul 1918 Lake Down
Aug 1941 Nov 1941 RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey
Nov 1941 Feb 1942 en route
Feb 1942 Feb 1942 Rangoon
Feb 1942 Feb 1942 Dum Dum (Dets. at Mingaladon, Akyab and Ratmalana, Ceylon
Feb 1942 Mar 1942 Asansol (Dets. at Mingaladon, Akyab and Ratmalana
Mar 1942 Jun 1942 Alipore, India (Det. at Maidan)
Jun 1942 Aug 1942 Red Road Maidan / 'Angel' (Det. at Vizagapatam)
Aug 1942 Sep 1942 Alipore (Det. at Vizagapatam)
Sep 1942 Dec 1942 Dum Dum
Dec 1942 Jun 1943 Chittagong
Jun 1943 Nov 1943 Baigachi
Nov 1943 Nov 1943 Amarda Road
Nov 1943 Dec 1943 Baigachi
Dec 1943 Dec 1943 Ramu 2 /'Lyons'
Dec 1943 Dec 1943 Alipore
Dec 1943 Dec 1943 Ramu 2 /'Lyons'
Dec 1943 Jan 1944 Ramu 3 / 'Hay'
Jan 1944 Mar 1944 Rumkhapalong / 'Rumkha'
Mar 1944 Mar 1944 Sapam
Mar 1944 Apr 1944 Wangjing
Apr 1944 Jul 1944 Chittagong
Jul 1944 Dec 1944 Ratmalana, Ceylon
Dec 1944 Mar 1945 Minneriya, Ceylon
Mar 1945 Apr 1945 en route to Cocos Islands
Apr 1945 Oct 1945 Cocos Islands
Oct 1945 Oct 1945 HMS Smiter
Oct 1945 Nov 1945 Tengah
Nov 1945 May 1946 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
May 1946 May 1946 Bombay, India


Commanding officers

From To Name
Aug 1941 Jul 1942 S/Ldr. T.A.F. Elsdon, DFC
Jul 1942 Dec 1942 S/Ldr. A.W. Ridler
Feb 1943 May 1943 S/Ldr. A.W.A. Bayne, DFC
Jun 1943 Mar 1944 S/Ldr. A.N. Constantine
Mar 1944 Oct 1944 S/Ldr. E.O. Watson
Oct 1944 Jun 1945 S/Ldr. D.G. Soga
Jun 1945 Oct 1945 S/Ldr. A.J.H. Kitley
Oct 1945 Dec 1945 F/Lt. J.D.R. Cameron
Dec 1945 Dec 1945 S/Ldr. M. Paddle
Dec 1945 Jan 1946 S/Ldr. D.M. Finn, DFC
Jan 1946 May 1946 S/Ldr. C.B. Smither, DFC




  1. Rawlings claims the Spitfire Mk.Vs went to No. 132 Squadron RAF, but given the fact that it was stationed in the UK at that time this seems unlikely.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Rawlings 1978, p. 275.
  2. Jacobs 1994, pp. vii, 2, 216, 219.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Halley 1988, pp. 209-210.
  4. Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 50.
  5. Flintham and Thomas 2003, p. 78.
  6. Jacobs 1994, p. 214 and inner frontflap text.
  7. Sturtivant and Hamlin 2007, p.7.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Jefford 2001, pp. 107-108. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Jefford2001" defined multiple times with different content
  9. Jacobs 1994, p. 12.
  10. Jacobs 1994, p. 14.
  11. Jacobs 1994, p. 50.
  12. Jacobs 1994, p. 156.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Rawlings 1978, pp. 275-276.
  14. Jefford 2001, pp. 63 and 270-271.


  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937-56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Flintham, Vic and Andrew Thomas. Combat Codes: A full explanation and listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied air force unit codes since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
  • Franks, Norman L.R. Hurricanes Over the Arakan. Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1989. ISBN 1-85260-262-7.
  • Franks, Norman L.R. Spitfires Over the Arakan. William Kimber & Co Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-7183-0682-1.
  • Franks, Norman L.R. The Air Battle of Imphal. William Kimber & Co Ltd., 1985. ISBN 0-7183-0552-3.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth 1918-1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jacobs, Vivian K. The Woodpecker Story. Durham, UK: The Pentland Press Ltd., 1994. ISBN 1-85821-235-9.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE, BA, RAF(Retd.). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Sturtivant, Ray, ISO and John Hamlin. RAF Flying Training And Support Units since 1912. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 2007. ISBN 0-85130-365-X.

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