RAF No 18 Squadron

Motto: Animo et Fide (With Courage and Faith)

Formed from a nucleus of No 4 Reserve Squadron at Northolt on 11 May 1915, it moved across the Channel the following November. Here it operated in the fighter-reconnaissance role, initially equipped with the Vickers FB5 'Gunbus', which were replaced by FE2bs in April 1916. It changed role to that of day bombing in May 1917, when it received DH4s, retaining this type until DH9As arrived to replace them in October 1918. The squadron joined the Army of Occupation in November 1918 and remained until September 1919 when it returned to the UK where it disbanded on 31 December 1919.

Reformed on 20 October 1931, again in the day bomber role, it was equipped with Hawker Harts and operated from Upper Heyford. 'C' Flight formed the basis of a reformed No 49 Squadron on 10 February 1936 and in May 1939, No 18 received Blenheim Is, with Mk IVs following in February 1940. Forming part of the Air Component, the squadron was heavily involved in operations against German invasion forces, but ten days after the fight began, it had to be withdrawn to Britain. Following its return it continued to operate against invasion barges and associated targets until the end of the year.

It now took part in 'Circus' operations acting as 'bait' for large formations of escorting fighters hoping to lure the Luftwaffe into the air. The squadron moved to the Mediterranean in October 1941, operating from Malta until January 1942, when the five remaining aircraft were flown to Egypt, handed over and No 18 was disbanded on 21 March 1942.

However, a ground element had been left in Britain when the bulk of the squadron flew to Malta and on 12 March 1942, three new crews arrived to start the build up of a new No 18. The squadron went into action on 26 April, still equipped with the Blenheim IV. These were replaced with Mk Vs in September and in November the squadron flew out to Algeria following the 'Torch' landings. It remained in the area accompanying the Armies through Sicily and into Italy with Boston IIIs replacing the Blenheims in March 1943, later replaced by IVs and V, before the squadron disbanded at Hassani on 31 March 1946.

No 18 resurfaced on 1 September 1946, when No 621 Squadron at Ein Shemer in Egypt was re-number. It was now operating in the Maritime Reconnaissance role equipped with Lancaster GR Mk 3s, but 14 days later it disbanded again. On 15 March 1947, No 1300 (Meteorological) Flight equipped with Mosquito Met Mk 6s at Butterworth in Malaysia was re-numbered 18, but again disbandment followed soon afterwards on 15 November 1947.

Less than a month later a new No 18 Squadron was formed at Waterbeach, equipped with Dakots, it was immediately involved with operations in the Berlin Airlift. Disbandment followed the lifting of the blockade on 20 February 1950 and three years later on 1 August 1953 it was reformed yet again, this time at Scampton and was equipped with Canberra B Mk 2s in the light bomber role, disbanding again on 1 February 1957. Its next incarnation came on 16 December 1958 when 'C' Flight of No 199 Squadron was re-numbered. It was now flying Valiants in the ECM role, which it continued to do until 31 March 1963.

Its latest role is that of a Battlefield Support Helicopter unit. This began on 27 January 1964 when the Wessex trials Unit was given the Number 18. It moved Gutersloh in Germany in Aug 1970, where it disbanded on 20 November 1980. It reformed again in the same role but now equipped with the Chinook HC Mk 1, the first RAF squadron to equipped with this type, on 4 August 1981 and remains as such. It moved to Germany again in August 1983 but returned to the UK in August 1997.

Standards:

lst - 14 June 1962 HRH The Princess Margaret. 2nd - 3 February 1989 ACM Sir Peter Harding.

Battle Honours:

Western Front, 1915-1918: Somme, 1916: Somme, 1918: Lys: Hindenburg Line: France & Low Countries, 1940: Invasion Ports, 1940: Fortress Europe, 1940-1942: Channel & North Sea, 1940-1941: German Ports, 1940-1941: Malta, 1941-1942: Egypt & Libya, 1942: North Africa, 1942-1943: Mediterranean, 1943: Sicily, 1943: Salerno: South East Europe, 1943-1944: Italy, 1943-1945: Gothic Line: South Atlantic, 1982: Gulf, 1991: Iraq 2003:

Squadron Codes used: -

GU May 1939 - Sep 1939
WV Sep 1939 - Oct 1942
B Carried on Wessex
BA - BZ Aug 1981 - Current

 

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This webpage was updated 25th January 2019