Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation
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No XI Squadron
Forming at Netheravon from a nucleus supplied by No 7 Squadron on 14 February 1915 equipped with the Vickers FB 5 Gunbus. Following training, the squadron relocated to France July 1915 beginning operations as a fighter squadron, exchanging its Gunbuses for FE 2b's in June 1916 and Bristol Fighters in June 1917. With the end of hostilities No 11 joined the Army of Occupation until September 1919 when it returned to Britain disbanding on the last day of the year.
The squadron reformed on 13 January 1923 at Andover from personnel of the Air Pilotage School but acting as a communications unit until September 1923, when on re-equipment with DH9As it moved to Bircham Newton. Further types followed, Fawns in April 1924 and Horsleys in November 1926, but in November 1928, these were handed over to No 100 Squadron and 11 left for India, arriving at Risalpur in January 1929 equipped with Wapitis.
Army Co-operation was now the order of the day as the squadron settled into life on the North West Frontier. However, following re-equipment with Harts the squadron carried a trial reinforcement flight to Singapore in January 1935 and again in January 1937, a similar flight to Egypt being made in April 1938. July 1939 saw the arrival of Blenheims and a month later a move to Singapore but in May 1940 the squadron moved west again to Egypt. In June it went to Aden from where it carried out attacks against the Italians in Eritrea. Returning to Egypt later that month, it was on the move again in January 1941 when it joined British Forces in Greece. Following the withdrawal of British troops from Greece, it went to Palestine from where it took part in operations to occupy Syria from the French and then in August to Iraq where it took part in the occupation of Iran before returning to Egypt in September 1941.
Yet another move took place in March 1942 when the squadron went to Ceylon remaining there until January 1943 when it moved into Burma. Still equipped with Blenheims, which in September were replaced by Hurricanes, the squadron carried out close support missions in support of the 14th Army until June 1945, when the squadron returned to India to re-equip with Spitfires in preparation for the invasion of Malaya. he Japanese surrender prevented this taking place and instead the squadron was transported to Malaya aboard the Royal Navy Carrier HMS Trumpeter, from which they flew to Kallang, remaining there until May 1946. The squadron was then on the move again, this time to Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Air Forces of Occupation but on 23 February 1948 the squadron disbanded.
No 11 re-entered the Order of Battle on 4 October 1948 when No 107 Squadron, a Mosquito unit based at Wahn in Germany was re-numbered. Vampires arrived in August 1950 and in August 1952, No 11 became the first unit to receive Venoms which it continued to operate until disbanding again on 15 November 1957. Its next re-incarnation occurred on 21 January 1959 when No 256 at Geilenkirchen was re-numbered. Now a Meteor night fighter squadron, it soon received Javelins FAW 4s and later 5s, eventually taking over the FAW 9s of No 25 Squadron in December 1962 but on 12 January 1966, the squadron disbanded again. Just over a year later on 1April 1967, No 11 reformed again at Leuchars as a Lightning unit moving south to Binbrook in 1972. Re-equipment took place again in 1988 when the squadron became a Tornado F3 unit, becoming the first such unit to operate from RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire, where it remained until 31 Oct 2005 when it disbanded once again, pending its reformation as a Typhoon unit at RAF Coningsby in 2007, taking place on 29 March.
Squadron Codes used: -
"Shiney Twelve" came into existence for the first time on 14 February 1915 at Netheravon. Following its work up it moved to France, still equipped with a variety of aircraft, in September but soon standardised on the BE 2. It was employed as a corps reconnaissance squadron subsequently using RE 8s (from August 1917). The squadron became part of the Army of Occupation, eventually being the last RAF unit to be based in Germany, until 27 July 1922 when it disbanded. Less than a year later on 1 April 1923 it was reformed at Northolt in the bomber role, equipped with DH9As with Fawns following soon after. In June 1926 the squadron became the first and in fact only unit to be equipped with the Fairey Fox, a fact commemorated in the squadron badge. At the time of its entry into service, the fox was actually faster then the contemporary RAF fighters. Hawker Harts replaced the Foxes in 1931 and in late 1935 the squadron moved to Aden to take part in the Abyssinian crisis, returning to Britain in 1936.
On the outbreak of war in September 1939, No 12 became part of the AASF equipped with Fairey Battles, which it had received in 1938, and moved to France. When German forces invaded France in May 1940, Battles of the AASF, including No 12, carried out low level operations against bridges and other tactical targets. It was during one of the operations that Flying Officer Donald Garland and Sergeant Thomas Gray of the squadron were awarded the first air VC's of World War Two.
Evacuated to Britain the squadron continued to operate its Battles over France from the UK but was soon re-equipped with Wellingtons, joining in the night offensive against Germany. It continued to take part in these operations as a Main Force squadron (in No 1 Group) until the end of the war, having re-equipped with Lancasters in 1942.
The squadron remained in being after the war, re-equipping with Lincolns in 1946 ands Canberras in 1952. It was with these that the squadron went into action again in 1956, this time in the Suez Campaign. No 12 disbanded for only the second time in its history on 13 July 1961 at Coningsby. It was here just less than a year later that the squadron reformed as part of the V-Force equipped with Vulcans, which it took to Cottesmore in 1964 before disbanding on 31 December 1967.
It was nearly two years before the squadron reappeared, this time at Honington in anti shipping strike role being the first RAF squadron to be equipped with Buccaneer S Mk 2s. It continued to operate in this role with Buccaneers, latterly from Lossiemouth, until 1 October 1993. On the same day that the Buccaneer equipped No 12 disbanded, a new Tornado equipped No 12 took over the numberplate in the same role and still based at Lossiemouth. It continues to be based at this Scottish airfield in the same role, which it shared with No 617 until they both disbanded on 1 April 2014. It reformed at RAF Marham on 9 January 2015, again equipped with Tornados and at the same time became the first operational RAF Squadron to be commanded by a female officer, Wg Cdr Nikki Thomas BEng. It was due to disband in 2015 but was reprieved until 2017 following the government's decision to continue operations against IS in Iraq.
Squadron Codes used: -
Like so many other units formed at this time, No 13 was a corps reconnaissance squadron, forming at Gosport on 10 January 1915 and moving to France the following October. Initially equipped with BE 2s, it received RE 8s in April 1917, operating these until Mar 1919 when it was reduced to cadre and eventually disbanded on the last day of 1919.
Reforming on 1 April 1924, the squadron was still carrying out Army Co-operation duties but was now equipped with Bristol Fighters at Kenley. It continued in this role throughout the 1920s and 30s being progressively re-equipped with the Atlas, Audax, Hector (in 1937) and the Lysander in 1939. It was these aircraft that No 13 took to France as part of the Air Component of the BEF in September, but it found that the Lysander was inadequate for its intended role in the face of fierce German fighter opposition and by the end of May 1940 the squadron had been evacuated to Britain.
Coastal patrols in the North West and Army Co-operation training became the squadron's main activities until mid 1941 when it re-equipped with Blenheim IVs. It still carried out army support operations mainly in the form of low level bombing, training in gas spraying and the laying of smokescreens, which it carried out operationally during the Dieppe landings. It also took part in the first 'Thousand Bomber Raid' on Cologne in May 1942, but most of its work during this period was of a training nature.
With its re-equipment with Blenheim Vs it eventually went into action in Algeria in November 1942 carrying out both day and night raids but the day raids were soon halted following heavy losses by Blenheim squadrons. In October 1943 the squadron converted to Ventura and assumed coastal patrols and convoy escort duties but in December 1943 it moved to Egypt and re-equipped with Baltimores. It moved across the Mediterranean to Italy in February 1944 becoming operation with No 3 Wing SAAF in April. It changed roles yet again in May taking on an interdiction role and re-equipping with Bostons in October 1944. With the war in both Europe and Japan over, the squadron moved to Greece in September 1945, disbanding there on 19 April 1946.
The squadron assumed he photographic reconnaissance role on 1 September 1946 when it was reformed by re-numbering No 680 Squadron in Palestine. Equipped with Mosquitoes, it soon moved to Egypt and in 1952 acquired jet aircraft in the form of Meteor PR 10s, which it operated until May 1956, having moved to Cyprus in January, when it received Canberra PR 7s and began converting to the PR 9 in August 1961. In September 1965 it took its aircraft to Malta to become the resident PR squadron there, briefly returning to Cyprus in 1972.
With the withdrawal of British forces from Malta the squadron returned to Wyton in the UK in 1978, where it disbanded on 5 January 1982. It was nearly eight years before the squadron reappeared on 1 January 1990 as the second of two Tornado reconnaissance units to be formed, moving to join it colleague, No 2, at Marham on 1 February 1994, where it remained until disbanding as a result of the 2011 Strategic Defence and Security Review on 1 June that year. It reformed as a Reaper equipped unit at RAF Waddington in early 2013.
Squadron Codes used: -
For many years No 14 was the sole flying squadron in Palestine, but it began life at Shoreham on 3 February 1915. Unlike many of its contemporaries it did not go to France but left for the Middle East in November 1915. It operated in a corps reconnaissance role supporting operations in Palestine, Arabia and the Western Desert and acquired some fighters in May 1917, but these were formed into No 111 Squadron that August. The squadron moved to Greece in October 1918 but by February 1919 it had returned to Britain where it disbanded on the 4th of that month.
Ironically it was No 111 Squadron that was re-numbered No 14 on 1 February 1920 at Ramlah in Palestine. It would remain in Palestine for the next 20 years operating in detachments at Amman and Ramlah equipped successively with Bristol Fighters, DH9As, Fairey IIIFs, Gordons and in March 1938, Wellesleys. The entry of Italy into the war saw the squadron move to Egypt, back to Palestine and then to the Sudan, where it carried out raids against Italian bases in Eritrea.
The squadron re-equipped with Blenheims in September 1940, which it took to Egypt before returning to Palestine. It later took part in operations in Iraq and then returned to the Western Desert and re-equipment with Marauders in August 1942. With Marauders the squadron carried out coastal patrols, mine-laying and maritime reconnaissance operations as well as bombing missions, moving to Algeria from March 1943.
However, the squadron flew its last mission on 21 September 1943, effectively disbanding. It reformed on 24 October 1944 as an anti-submarine unit at Chivenor equipped with Wellington XIVs, beginning operations in February 1945 and continuing until disbandment on 1 June 1945. However, the squadron reformed the same day at Banff in Scotland when No 143, equipped with Mosquitoes, was re-numbered No 14, remaining there until 31 March 1946. The next day a new No 14 appeared in Germany at Wahn, when No 128 was re-numbered. Again flying Mosquitoes, these were retained until 1951 with the arrival of Vampires and then Venoms in 1953. Its role changed to that of day fighter when Hunters were received in 1955 continuing in that capacity until disbandment on 17 December 1962.
Once again a new 14 Squadron arose, this time at Wildenrath from No 88 and was now flying Canberras in the Interdiction role. Another disbandment and re-formation occurred on 30 June 1970 when No 14 (Designate) Squadron took over the numberplate and No 14 became a Phantom FGR 2 ground attack unit at Bruggen in Germany. However, Phantoms were merely a stop-gap measure for this role and the squadron converted to the Jaguar on 9 April 1975, continuing to operate this type until 1 November 1985 when Tornadoes replaced the Jaguars. With the closure of RAF Bruggen, the last RAF air base in Germany, in 2001, the squadron re-located to the UK and was based at RAF Lossiemouth where it remained until disbanding as a result of the 2011 Strategic Defence and Security Review on 1 June that year. However, it immediately reformed when the element of No 5 Squadron, which operated the Beechcraft Shadow Mk 1 aircraft was renumbered as No 14 Squadron.
Squadron Codes used: -
Formed at Farnborough from a nucleus provided by No 1 Reserve Squadron on 1 March 1915, it moved to France in December. Equipped with BE2c's the squadron undertook typical Corps activities such as artillery spotting and photography. It continued in this role until the end of WW1, re-equipping with RE8's in June 1917. The German offensive of march 1918 saw the squadron undertaking ground strafing but it was soon back into its normal Corps role finally returning to Britain in February 1919 where it disbanded in December of the same year.
Its next incarnation began on 24 March 1924 when it reformed within the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Martlesham Heath. The squadron carried out trials with weapons of various types using a wide range of aircraft, although should war come, they would become a day bomber squadron equipped with the Hawker Horsley. The squadron reverted to being a full time bomber unit on 1 June 1934, now based at Abingdon and equipped with the Hawker Hart. Its OC at this time, Sqn Ldr T W Elmhirst, was responsible for adopting the form XV for 15, which the squadron has retained up to the present day.
By June 1938 the squadron was re-equipping with the Fairey Battle, and it was with these that it moved to France as part of the AASF in September 1939. However, it would not suffer the fate of many of its fellow units as it returned to the UK in December, where it re-equipped with the Bristol Blenheim. Therefore, it was from Alconbury and later Wyton that it would operate during the crucial period of the Battle of France. The Battle of Britain over, the squadron soon re-equipped yet again, this time with Wellingtons from November 1940.
However, it operations with Wellingtons were short-lived as the following April, it became the second squadron to operate the four-engined Stirling, initially from Wyton, and then Bourn, from August 1942 and Mildenhall from April 1943. For the remainder of the war, XV operated as part of Bomber Command's Main Force, remaining at Mildenhall until 1946, re-equipping with Lancasters in December 1943 and Lincolns in February 1947. From 1 February 1949 No XV was linked with No 21 Squadron, remaining so until 20 September 1953.
In January 1951, XV became one of the units chosen to operate the B29 Superfortress , known in the RAF as the Washington, in the atomic delivery role pending the introduction of the English Electric Canberra. These arrived in May 1953 and XV operated them until April 1957 when the squadron was disbanded for the first time since 1924. However, it demise was short as it became the second Victor squadron in the RAF on 1 September 1958 at Cottesmore. With the handover of Britain's Nuclear Deterrent the V-Force was gradually reduced and XV Squadron disbanded on 1 October 1964.
Six years later on 1 October 1970, a new XV Squadron came into being equipped with Buccaneers at Honington before moving to Laarbruch in Germany in January 1971. XV's Buccaneers and crews were absorbed into co-located No 16 squadron on 1 July 1983 and on the same day a new XV Squadron began training at Laarbruch equipped with the Tornado GR Mk 1, officially reforming on 1 September 1983. Disbanding again on 18 December 1991 it was revived yet again on 1 April 1992 when the Tornado Weapons Conversion Unit at Honington was re-numbered No XV (Reserve) Squadron, having previously been No 45 (Reserve) Squadron. The unit still operates in this role but is now based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.
Squadron Codes used: -
*Honours in Black are those the squadron has a been granted the right to emblazon on the Squadron Standard, but does not do so.
Honours in Red are those actually emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
Honours in Blue are those the squadron has not been granted the right to emblazon on the Squadron Standard
Squadron badge image on this page is courtesy of Steve Clements
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This page was last updated on 10/02/17 using FrontPage 2003©
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