RAF No 18 Squadron emblem

RAF No 12 Squadron

Motto: Leads the Field

'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.

Standards Battle
Award of Standard originally announced on 7 Sep 1943, effective from 1 Apr 1943 but presented:-

  • 1st - 23 June 1954 - MRAF The Lord Newall.
  • 2nd - 21 February 1975 - AM Sir Nigel Maynard.
  • Battle Honours*

  • Western Front, 1916-1918:
  • Loos: Somme, 1916:
  • Arras: Cambrai, 1917:
  • Somme, 1918:
  • Hindenburg Line: France & Low Countries
  • 1939-1940: Meuse Bridges: Fortress Europe
  • 1940-1944: German Ports
  • 1941-1945: Biscay Ports
  • 1940-1945: Berlin
  • 1941-1945: Ruhr
  • 1941-1945: France & Germany
  • 1944-1945: Rhine
  • Gulf 1991:
  • Iraq 2003:
  • Squadron Codes used: -
    QE Allocated Apr 1939, but probably not carried
    PH Sep 1939 - Apr 1951
    GZ Nov 1942 - Jul 1946
    FA - FZ Aug 1985 - Apr 1996

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    This webpage was updated 30th June 2023