On the formation of the Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918, No. 7 Squadron RNAS became No. 207 Squadron, RAF, moving back to Netheravon in England for re-equipping with the more advanced version of their O/100, the Handley Page O/400, returning to France in July as part of 54 Wing and continuing to fly night raids against railway targets. It moved to Germany as part of the Army of Occupation in January 1919, serving there until August, when it handed its aircraft to No. 100 Squadron RAF and returned to England where it disbanded on 20 January 1920 at RAF Uxbridge.
The squadron re-formed on 1 February 1920 at RAF Bircham Newton. Its Airco DH.9As saw service in Turkey in 1922, when it was deployed to Constantinople under the command of Arthur Tedder as part of the British intervention in the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922); the Squadron returned to England in September 1923. It re-equipped with Fairey IIIFs in December 1927, and with the radial engined development of the IIIF, the Fairey Gordon in August 1932. In 1935, as a response to the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, it was sent to Sudan. The Gordon's Armstrong Siddeley Panther engine proved unreliable in desert conditions, however, and they were replaced with Vickers Vincents. The following year, the squadron, again re-equipped with Gordons, returned home to RAF Worthy Down, joining RAF Bomber Command. It re-equipped with Vickers Wellesleys in 1937, only for them to be replaced with Fairey Battles early the following year. Based at RAF Cottesmore, the squadron took the role of an Operational Training Unit.
On 19 April 1940 the squadron's training role was assumed by No. 12 Operational Training Unit (OTU), allowing 207 Squadron to re-form on 1 November of that year as part of Bomber Command's No. 5 Group. At RAF Waddington, the squadrons's crews were assigned the task of introducing the ill-fated Avro Manchester into service. Later moving to RAF Bottesford, the Manchesters were replaced by the much improved Avro Lancaster in March 1942. The squadron relocated to RAF Langar on 21 September, owing to the Bottesford runway surface breaking up and needing urgent repairs. In October 1943, 207 Squadron became the first occupant of the newly opened RAF Spilsby bomber station.
The squadron was scheduled to form part of the Tiger Force against Imperial Japan. With the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki the Tiger Force plans were dropped and in November 1945, No. 207 Squadron relocated to RAF Methwold in Norfolk.
After moving to RAF Mildenhall in 1949 and briefly replacing the Lancaster with the Avro Lincoln, the Squadron was disbanded on 1 March 1950.
Re-formed on 4 June 1951 at RAF Marham, 207 flew the Boeing Washington until March 1954, when it was replaced by the English Electric Canberra, which remained in service with the squadron until it disbanded on 27 March 1956.
On 1 April 1956 the squadron re-formed again at RAF Marham and was now equipped with the Vickers Valiant. Later that year no. 207 took part in the Suez Campaign. The squadron took over the training of Valiant crews from Gaydon in December 1961 with the establishment of the Valiant flight simulator there. On 1 May 1965 the squadron disbanded with the grounding of the Valiant fleet.
207 Squadron was re-formed on 3 February 1969 at RAF Northolt by redesignating the Strike Command Communications Squadron, which had been till 1 January 1969 the Southern Communications Squadron based at RAF Bovingdon. It was equipped with Devon C.2s, Basset CC.1s and Pembroke C.1s, with the squadron first retiring the Bassets in 1974, and its last Pembroke being transferred to No. 60 Squadron in Germany in November 1975, leaving 207 with 14 Devons. Detachments of the squadron were located at RAF Wyton and RAF Turnhouse. 207 Squadron was once more disbanded on retirement of the remaining Devons on 30 June 1984.
On 12 July 2002 one of the Flying Training Squadrons operating Shorts Tucanos at No. 1 Flying Training School, RAF Linton-on-Ouse was renumbered as No. 207 (Reserve) Squadron. The squadron was later disbanded on 13 January 2012 as a result of the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review.
In the Summer of 2019, 207 Squadron will reform as the Operational conversion unit (OCU) for the newly acquired Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, based at RAF Marham.
No. 47 Squadron Royal Flying Corps was formed at Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire on 1 March 1916 as a home defence unit, protecting Hull and East Yorkshire against attack by German Zeppelins, being equipped with a mix of aircraft, including Armstrong Whitworth F.K.3s, FK.8s and Royal Aircraft Factory BE.12s
On 1 April 1918, the Royal Flying Corps became part of the Royal Air Force, and the fighter flights (by now equipped with the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5A) were detached to form 150 Squadron. 47 Squadron, now divested of its fighters, and solely equipped with Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8s, was used mainly in the Corps Reconnaissance role, but were used to bomb the retreating Bulgarian forces following the Allied offensive of September 1918.
After the end of World War I, in April 1919, the squadron was sent to Southern Russia to help General Denikin's White Russian forces in their fight against the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War. While the RAF's ostensible mission was purely to provide training to Denikin's forces, No. 47 Squadron was included in the mission in order to carry out operational sorties. It was equipped with a mixture of aircraft, with flights equipped with Airco DH.9 and DH.9A bombers and Sopwith Camel fighters. The squadron's flights operated independently, carrying out bombing and strafing missions against Bolshevik forces.
No. 47 Squadron was disbanded on 7 October 1919, being re-designated 'A' Squadron, Royal Air Force Instructional Mission, South Russia.
On 1 February 1920 the squadron was re-formed at RAF Helwan in Egypt when 206 Squadron was re-numbered. It was a day bomber squadron equipped with the DH.9, re-equipping with Airco DH.9As in 1921.
In October 1927 the squadron moved completely to Khartoum and in December it discarded its aging DH.9As in favour of Fairey IIIFs, becoming the first Squadron to receive this aircraft. The squadron co-operated with the Sudan Defence Force, regularly carrying out border patrols, while a flight of IIIFs was fitted with floats, flying patrols over the River Nile and the Red Sea. The Squadron replaced its IIIFs with Fairey Gordons (effectively IIIFs powered by a radial engine) in January 1933, continuing its operations in support of the Sudan Defence Force and floatplane patrols over the Red Sea.
In July 1936 the squadron re-equipped with the Vickers Vincent, although some float-equipped Gordons were kept until June 1939. In June 1939 the squadron started to operate the Vickers Wellesley monoplane, retaining a flight of Vincent's for Army co-operation purposes. To counter Italian forces entering the war the squadron moved north to Erkowit and flew its first combat mission of the Second World War against Asmara airfield in Eritrea on 11 June 1940.
The squadron moved to Egypt using the now old Wellesleys in anti-submarine patrols around the eastern Mediterranean, while in July 1942 it acquired a detachment of Bristol Beaufort torpedo bombers from 42 Squadron. It flew its first anti-shipping strikes against enemy convoys supplying the Afrika Korps in Libya on 8 October 1942. It carried on operating Beauforts on anti-shipping as well as convoy escort duties until 1943. In June 1943 the Squadron, by now based in Tunisia, re-equipped with Bristol Beaufighters. Now better equipped at striking against enemy shipping, they carried out armed reconnaissance in different areas of the Mediterranean and Aegean sea looking for shipping to attack.
The squadron moved with the Beaufighters to India in March 1944, re-equipping with de Havilland Mosquitos in October that year. This was not a success as the Mosquito was almost immediately grounded owing to failures of the wooden structure due to the hot and humid Indian climate, and it re-acquired the Beaufighter in November. They were soon supporting operations in Burma in both day and night attacks with rockets. The squadron partly re-equipped with Mosquitos in February 1945, with both its Beaufighters and Mosquitos being heavily used to support General Slim's 14th Army in its attack against Mandalay. It completely re-equipped with Mosquitos in April 1945, continuing operations against Japanese forces until the end of the war. After the war it moved to Java to operate against Indonesian nationalist forces but it was disbanded at Butterworth on 21 March 1946.
On 1 September 1946 the squadron was re-formed at RAF Qastina in Palestine when 644 Squadron was renumbered. It was now a transport squadron using converted four-engined Handley Page Halifax bombers. It soon returned to the United Kingdom where it flew the Halifax from RAF Fairford in the Army support role. The Squadron moved to RAF Disforth in September 1948, where it became the first RAF Squadron to receive the Handley Page Hastings four-engined transport. The conversion process was rushed as the aircraft were needed to support the Berlin Airlift. When the blockade ended the Squadron returned to the United Kingdom, moving to RAF Topcliffe on 22 August 1949, operating in support of airborne forces, moving to RAF Abingdon in May 1953. In May 1956 the squadron became the first to re-equip with the Blackburn Beverley heavy-lift transport, the large aircraft were used on Transport Command trooping and freight routes. The squadron also supported operations in Cyprus, Kuwait and East Africa and carried out mercy flights related to floods, droughts and natural disasters. The Beverley was withdrawn and the squadron disbanded on 31 October 1967.
The squadron was re-formed at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, on 25 February 1968 to operate the Lockheed Hercules, moving to Lyneham in September 1971. During the Falklands War, the squadron airlifted supplies to Ascension Island and, later, air dropped men and supplies to ships of the British task force in the South Atlantic. To make the trip from Ascension to the Falklands, several Hercules were given additional fuel tanks and fitted with refuelling probes. 47 Squadron also prepared to fly elements of the Special Air Service(SAS) to Argentina for the aborted Operation Mikado.
The squadron's Special Forces Flight were involved in the 1991 Gulf War, as well as regular airlift missions, the Hercules also flew missions behind Iraqi lines, landing on ad hoc desert air strips to resupply SAS fighting columns.
The squadron supported UN and NATO operations in the Balkans in the 1990s, delivering aid to several besieged cities. It also supported coalition forces in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Following the 2012 closure of RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire, the squadron has been operating from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
No. 206 Squadron was formed on 31 December 1916 as No. 6 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service, a fighter unit operating Nieuport 17s and later Sopwith Camels over the Western Front before disbanding on 27 August 1917. The squadron was reformed on 1 January 1918 as a bomber and reconnaissance unit, operating Airco DH9s. With the establishment of the RAF in 1918 the squadron was renumbered No. 206 Squadron, RAF, being used for photo-reconnaissance in support of the British Second Army and for bombing support during the Allies final offensive. Following the Armistice it was used to operate an air mail service for the British occupying army in Germany, before being deployed to Helwan, Egypt in June 1919. It was renumbered as 47 Squadron on 1 February 1920.
The squadron was reformed at RAF Manston from a flight of No. 48 Squadron on 15 June 1936, with Avro Ansons as part of the new RAF Coastal Command. It moved to RAF Bircham Newton on 30 July that year. It initially operated as a training squadron, but later assigned to maritime patrols.
On the outbreak of the Second World War, the Squadron entered into a routine of patrols with its Ansons from Bircham Newton with detachments at other bases around the United Kingdom, including RAF Carew Cheriton in South Wales and RAF Hooton Park on the Mersey.
In March 1940, the squadron began to re-equip with the Lockheed Hudson, flying the first patrols using the new aircraft on 12 April. It converted to the Boeing Fortress Mk.II in July 1942, allowing long range patrols over the Atlantic, moving to the Azores during October 1943, before returning to the United Kingdom for re-equipping with the Consolidated Liberator Mk.VI, later augmented by the Liberators Mk.VIII. The Squadron's Liberators were based at RAF St Eval until after D-Day, when the unit moved North to RAF Leuchars. The squadron was disbanded on 25 April 1946.
The squadron was reformed on 17 November 1947, flying Avro York C.1 transport aircraft, but again disbanded on 31 August 1949 after performing an epic role in the Berlin Blockade. It was soon reformed on 1 December 1949, flying Douglas Dakotas, the military transport version of the well-known Douglas DC-3 airliner. This lasted only till 20 February 1950 however.
Reformed yet again on 27 September 1952 as a maritime reconnaissance squadron, it was equipped with Avro Shackletons and based at RAF St Eval in Cornwall. The squadron moved to RAF Kinloss in Scotland in July 1965 and was re-equipped with the jet-powered Hawker-Siddeley Nimrod in November 1970. It continued to operate the Nimrod until disbanding on 1 April 2005.
On 1 April 2009, the Heavy Aircraft Test & Evaluation Squadron at Boscombe Down (Air Warfare Centre) gained the 206 Squadron number plate, as 206 (Reserve) Squadron. Currently split between RAF Boscombe Down and RAF Brize Norton with 'B Flt' C130 specialists moved from RAF Lyneham in June 2011 to their new home at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire to continue the Hercules Test and Evaluation process.
Nov 1943 - Jul 1944 RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire
Jul 1944 - Sep 1944 RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire
Sep 1944 - Jun 1945 RAF Metheringham, Lincolnshire
Jun 1945 - Oct 1945 RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire
18 Apr 1943 - 9 Jan 1944 RAF Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire
9 Jan 1944 - 17 Apr 1944 RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire
17 Apr 1944 - 28 Sep 1944 RAF Dunholme Lodge, Lincolnshire
28 Sep 1944 - 30 Jun 1945 RAF Strubby, Lincolnshire
30 Jun 1945 - 18 Jul 1945 RAF Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire
Aug 1916 - Aug 1919 RFC Narborough, Leicestershire
Jan 1937 - Jun 1946 Old Sarum, Thorney Island, Aldergrove, Ballykelly
Dec 1947 - Oct 1950 RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire
Aug 1956 - Feb 1961 RAF Gutersloh, Germany
Mar 1916 - Oct 1919 RFC Beverley, Yorkshire
Feb 1920 - Mar 1946 Egypt, Sudan, India
Sep 1946 - Oct 1967 RAF Qastina, Fairford, Topcliffe and Abingdon
Feb 1968 - Present RAF Fairford, Lyneham, Brize Norton
A Chesterfield Hero
619 squadron was formed out of elements of 97 Squadron at RAF Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire on 18 April 1943, initially equipped with Lancaster Mk.I bombers for the first month of operations, as part of 5 Group in Bomber Command. It was reequipped with Lancaster Mk.III bombers for the rest of operations. Their first mission was flown in the night of 11 June 1943, when 12 Lancasters were sent to bomb targets in Düsseldorf, and the last bombing mission was flown on 25 April 1945, when 6 Lancasters tried to bomb SS barracks at Berchtesgaden. The last operational mission was flown a day later, when 2 Lancasters laid mines in the Oslo Fjord near Horten. After that mission the squadron ferried ex-prisoners of war back to the United Kingdom from Belgium (Operation Exodus). The squadron operated out of various Lincolnshire stations, before being disbanded at RAF Skellingthorpe on 18 July 1945.
Members of the squadron were awarded 1 DSO, 76 DFCs and 37 DFMs. The squadron was mentioned 10 times in despatches
Mar 1915 - Dec 1919 RFC Farnborough, Hampshire
Mar 1924 - Jul 1957 Martlesham Heath, Abingdon, Coningsby, Honington
Sep 1958 - Oct 1964 RAF Cottesmore, Rutland
Aug 1970 - Feb 1991 RAF Honington, RAF Laarbruch, Germany
Aug 1992 - Mar 2017 RAF Honington, RAF Lossiemouth
Here are the main squadrons which Roy flew with over his RAF career with brief histories.
My eternal thanks go to my old mate Pete Allam for the following history of 227, the crest is obviously not genuine and just intended to fill a space since 227 never had a crest.
April 1st 1918, that most auspicious date in the history of air warfare, marked not only the formation of the world’s first independent air arm the Royal Air Force, but coincidentally it also saw the first appearance of No. 227 Squadron. The new unit was formed as a day bomber squadron and initially operated former RNAS Caproni Ca.42s from Pizzone, Italy, but the fledgling squadron did not become operational prior to the Armistice and disbanded on 9 December 1918.
The squadron number then lay dormant until the exigencies of another world war forced its reawakening, 227 Squadron going through three active incarnations during the Second World War.
History repeated itself on July 1st 1942 at Aqir, Palestine when 227 re-formed but again did not become operational, this time losing its Bristol Beaufighters and personnel to other squadrons. On 20 August 1942, the squadron finally became operational when a detachment of Beaufighters at Luqa, Malta was re-designated as 227. Escort missions, anti-shipping patrols and maritime reconnaissance became its staple and after sterling service in the Middle East and Mediterranean Theatres, the squadron was withdrawn from operations and disbanded in July 1944.
No.227 Squadron was re-formed for the final time on 7 October 1944 as a heavy bomber unit within Bomber Command’s 5 Group equipped with Avro Lancasters. 'A' Flight formed alongside 9 Squadron at Bardney and 'B' Flight with 619 at Strubby, the two flights carrying out four operations from its twin temporary bases until moving as one to its main wartime home at Balderton near Newark in Nottinghamshire. With squadron codes ‘9J’ and call sign ‘Jointstock’, 227 operated with distinction as part of Bomber Command's main force until the war was nearly over, relocating to Strubby in early April 1945.
The post VE-Day reorganisation of Bomber Command ahead of the proposed creation of ‘Tiger Force’ for the Far East, saw 227 transferred to No.8 Group’s Pathfinder Force at Graveley in June. However the dropping of the two nuclear bombs in August and the end of hostilities saw a rapid reduction in the size of Bomber Command and 227 Squadron disbanded at Graveley for the final time on 5 September 1945.
No. 15 Squadron was first formed at Farnborough Airfield on 1 March 1915 as a Royal Flying Corps training unit, commanded by Major Philip Joubert de la Ferté. It was mainly equipped with Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2cs, supplemented with a few Bristol Scouts, and moved to France on 22 December 1915, undertaking a reconnaissance role in support of the Army. It operated in support of IV Corps during the Battle of the Somme in summer 1916, suffering heavy losses from both ground fire and German fighter aircraft. It was praised by Douglas Haig for its work in support of the Fifth Army in the Ancre salient in January 1917.
It was again heavily committed to action in support of the offensive at Arras in Spring 1917. It re-equipped with the Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8 in June 1917, retaining the "Harry Tate" (a rhyming-slang term for the aircraft) until the end of the First World War. For the great tank attack at the Battle of Cambrai, No.15 Squadron was specially tasked with checking the camouflaging of the troops, guns and dumps assembled before the attack.
The squadron moved back to the United Kingdom in February 1919, and was disbanded at Fowlmere on 31 December that year.
It reformed on 20 March 1924 at Martlesham Heath as part of the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment, mainly carrying out test flying of bomber aircraft. No. 15 was again reformed in 1934 at RAF Abingdon as a light bomber squadron equipped with the Hawker Hart. Its Commanding Officer of the day, Squadron Leader T W Elmhirst, DFC, instigated the squadron's tradition of writing its squadron number in Roman numerals. It received Hawker Hinds as a temporary replacement for the Harts before re-equipping with Fairey Battle monoplanes in 1938.
Still equipped with Fairey Battle light bombers, the squadron flew to France in September 1939 as part of No. 71 Wing, Advanced Air Striking Force. After returning to the UK, the following year it re-equipped first with Bristol Blenheims and again with Vickers Wellingtons before becoming one of the first Short Stirling bomber squadrons. One famous Stirling was donated by Lady MacRobert in memory of her three sons killed in RAF service and named MacRobert's Reply. In 1943, the squadron converted to Avro Lancasters.
In 1947, the Lancasters were replaced with Avro Lincolns, before the squadron adopted the nuclear strike role with Boeing Washingtons in 1951.
XV Squadron re-equipped with the English Electric Canberra B.2 bomber in June 1953, whilst at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, later moving to RAF Cottesmore, Rutland and then to RAF Honington, Suffolk. The Canberra was used in combat in the Suez Crisis and dropped the most bombs in the eighteen days of conflict. The Squadron disbanded in July 1957.
On 1 September 1958 it was reformed as the second Handley Page Victor squadron, stationed at RAF Cottesmore. In 1962, it was one of the many squadrons ready for action during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Deploying to RAF Tengah in 1963, it was on hand as a show of force to deter Indonesia during the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation. Following this, it was disbanded on 31 October 1964 upon withdrawal from overseas detachment. It was then intended to be reformed with the BAC TSR-2 and then the General Dynamics F-111K, but with both acquisitions cancelled, these plans were not carried out.
In 1970 the Squadron was finally reformed with the Blackburn Buccaneer S.2B at RAF Honington, shortly afterwards moving to RAF Laarbruch in Germany. From 1971 their task at RAF Laarbruch, assigned to SACEUR, was the support of the army in a European land battle, first in a conventional role, and later in a tactical nuclear delivery role, if required. RAF planning staff expected the squadron's twelve Buccaneer S2B aircraft to suffer attrition of one third their strength, leaving sufficient survivors, with those held back in reserve from the conventional phase, to deliver the squadron's allocation of eighteen WE.177 nuclear bombs.
In 1983 the squadron exchanged their twelve Buccaneer S2s for the same number of Tornado GR.1s, for use in a similar role from early 1984. Because of the UK's commitment to SACEUR, this involved the use of the "Designate" process whereby a Tornado squadron was formed and worked up at Honington and once operational moved to Laarbruch and assumed the No.15 Squadron identity from the Buccaneer unit. This made the squadron the first Tornado unit in Germany - a force that would grow to eight squadrons - and remained in the nuclear delivery role for SACEUR with an increased allocation of 18 weapons owing to the Tornado's ability to carry two bombs. The squadron's nuclear delivery role assigned to SACEUR continued at this strength until 1991, when it disbanded.
In 1992 No.45 (Reserve) Squadron, the Tornado Weapons Conversion Unit based at RAF Honington changed its "shadow" identity to No.15 (Reserve) Squadron, remaining at RAF Honington until 1993 assigned to SACEUR in the role it had performed when based at RAF Laarbruch. The squadron's equipment of twenty-six aircraft and thirty-nine WE.177 nuclear bombs was unusually large. Relocation to RAF Lossiemouth in 1994 brought reassignment to SACLANT in the maritime strike role, armed with a variety of conventional weapons and eighteen WE.177 nuclear bombs. After the closure of the Cottesmore-based Tri-National Tornado Training Establishment (TTTE) in 1999, 15(R) Squadron assumed responsibility for both conversion to the Tornado and weapons training.
The squadron disbanded on 31 March 2017 in preparation for the retirement of the Tornado GR4 in 2019. The squadron aircraft and crews will be absorbed into front-line squadrons at RAF Marham who will carry out refresher training when required. The squadron completed its final operational flying on 17 March 2017.
1 Apr1918 - 9 Dec 1918 Pizzone, Italy
1 Jul 1942 - 20 Aug 1942 Aqir, Palestine
20 Aug 1942 - 1 Jul 1944 RAF Luqa, Malta
7 Oct 1944 - 9 Apr 1945 RAF Balderton, Nottinghamshire
9 Apr 1944 - 5 Sep 1945 RAF Strubby, Lincolnshire
1690 Bomber Defence Training Flight
Sep 1918 - Feb 1919 RAF Chingford, Essex
Mar 1941 - Sep 1950 Martlesham Heath, Abingdon, Coningsby, Honington
Jan 1955 - Apr 1962 RAF Gaydon, RAF Wittering
Dec 1916 - Aug 1917 Western Front
Jan 1918 - Feb 1920 Helwan, Egypt
Jun 1936 - Apr 1946 Manston,Bircham Newton, St Eval, Leuchars
Nov 1947 - Aug 1949 RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire
Dec 1949 - Feb 1950 RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire
Sep 1952 - Feb 1950 RAF St Eval, RAF Kinloss,
Apr 2009 - Present RAF Boscombe Down, RAF Brize Norton
59 Squadron - Broken Wheel Squadron
In modern-day terms, a BDTF might be referred to as an 'aggressor', 'adversary' or 'opfor' unit. The BDTF's task was to provide realistic targets for trainee bomber crews. They would intercept the bombers using various tactics, providing not only the gunners with a means of honing their gunnery skills (albeit only with 'camera' guns) but also giving bomber crews as a whole the chance to learn how to perform as a cohesive team in detecting and dealing with enemy fighters.
No. 138 Squadron RAF was originally to be formed as a fighter unit on 1 May 1918, but formation was suspended until officially formed on 30 September 1918 as a fighter-reconnaissance squadron at Chingford, and was disbanded there on 1 February 1919.
During World War II, it was reformed in 1941, from the expansion of No. 1419 Flight, and was the first squadron of the Royal Air Force Special Duty Service. In February 1942 the squadron's Lysander flight and a number of its Whitleys were hived off to make the nucleus of 161 (Special Duty) Squadron. Based initially at RAF Stradishall, in March 1942 it moved to its permanent home at the clandestine airbase at RAF Tempsford. The squadron dropped supplies and agents for the SIS and the SOE to Axis occupied territory. From October 1941 there served several all-Polish volunteer crews. Between 1 April 1943 and November 1943 the squadron included Polish Special Duties Flight, as C Flight. It carried out this role until March 1945 when it was reassigned to Bomber Command, operating under No. 3 Group. It was disbanded on 1 September 1950.
On 1 January 1955 the squadron was reformed as the first squadron to be equipped with the Vickers Valiant strategic nuclear bomber, based at RAF Gaydon and later moving to RAF Wittering. It flew them from Malta during the Suez Crisis of October 1956, and crews from 138 were seconded to the Bomber Command Development Unit which was to evaluate new equipment and procedures such as Rocket Assisted Take off Gear (RATOG) and the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) scramble. The squadron was finally disbanded on 1 April 1962.
59 Squadron formed at Narborough in 1916 during the First World War, as a reconnaissance squadron. Equipped with RE8 aircraft, it departed for France in 1917 only to be caught up in the bloody air war of April 1917 when it sustained very heavy losses – life expectancy was then no more than 23 days. It was during the Great War that Captain Carbery of 59 was responsible for the capture of an enemy artillery gun and the wheel, which still exists, became the centrepiece of the squadron badge. The Squadron achieved a unique reputation for their excellent photographs, copies of which were continually being demanded by various units owing to the very valuable information obtained from them. 11 MC’s, 12 DFC’s (& 1 Bar), 7MM’s and 1 DCM were awarded to the Squadron during the Great War. The first Commanding Officer of 59 Squadron was Major Robert ‘Bob’ Egerton, MC. He took command in August 1916 at Narborough but died in an airplane crash France in December 1917.
During the Second World War it was attached to RAF Fighter Command (1937–1940), Bomber Command (taking part in the Millennium II raid on Bremen) and Coastal Command (1940–1945). After the war, 59 Squadron was attached to Transport Command, flying troops to India from September 1945 until 15 June 1946, when the squadron was disbanded.
On December 1st 1947 at RAF Waterbeach, half the crews of Number 51 Squadron were designated to reform as 59 Squadron. At 0800 the move from Waterbeach to RAF Abingdon commenced where upon arrival of their commanding officer, Squadron Leader E.V Best A.F.C at 1000, the squadron officially reformed, as a Long Range Transport Unit flying Avro Yorks. A detached flight would later take part in the Berlin Airlift (1948–49). The squadron disbanded again on 31 October 1950, then reformed at RAF Gutersloh, Germany in August 1956, when No. 102 Squadron was re-numbered 59, flying English Electric Canberra B.2s and B(I).8s. No. 59 Squadron was last disbanded in 1961, when it was re-numbered to No.3 Squadron.
Apr 1918-Jan 1920 RAF Netheravon, RAF Uxbridge
Feb1920-Sep 1938 Bircham Newton, Worthy Down, Cottesmore
Nov1940-Apr 1962 Waddington, Bottesford, Langar, Spilsby, Methwold, Mildenhall
Jun1951-Mar 1956 RAF Marham
Apr1956-May 1965 RAF Marham
Feb1969-Jun 1984 RAF Northolt
Jul 2002-Jan 2012 RAF Linton-on-Ouse
2019 RAF Marham