RAF No 1 Squadron emblem

RAF No 1 Squadron

Motto: In omnibus princeps (In all things first)

Formed from No 1 Airship Company of the Air Battalion on 13 May 1912. Became part of the Naval Wing when responsibility for airships was handed over to the them on 1 January 1914, but on 1 May 1914, it was renamed the Airship Detachment RFC and a new No 1 Squadron was formed.

It's aircraft were allocated to the other four squadrons which, moved to France in August 1914, with No 1 eventually following in early 1915. Originally equipped as a reconnaissance squadron, it gradually started using fighters, becoming a pure fighter unit in January 1917. It remained in France until March 1919 when it returned to the UK, being disbanded on 20 January 1920

Reformed in India, 21 January 1921, it moved to Iraq in May 1921, being disbanded again on 1 November 1926. Its next incarnation was at Tangmere from 1 February 1927 at a fighter squadron, where it remained until moving to France as part of the AASF, in 1939. During this period, the squadron claimed over 100 aircraft destroyed for the loss of 17 Hurricanes and two pilots. Returning to the UK the squadron fought in the Battle of Britain, carried out fighter sweeps over France and intruder operations over enemy airfields in France.

Hawker Hurricane MkIIc RAF 1 Squadron

In 1942, the squadron re-equipped with Typhoons and Spitfire IXs in 1944 and operated in the fighter bomber role until the V1 campaign opened and it reverted back to the fighter role. After this it took on the bomber escort role, re-equipping with the Spitfire FXXI in 1945. The squadron entered the jet age in 1946 when it re-equipped with Meteors.

However, in 1947 the squadron adopted the role of Instrument Flying Training Unit for No 11 Group. It carried out this task for less than a year before becoming a Meteor unit again. Converting to Hunters in October 1955, the squadron disbanded on 23 Jun 1958. However, on 1 July 1958 the squadron was reformed by re-numbering No 263 Squadron at Stradishall. As a ground attack unit, No 1 was transferred to No 38 Group, Transport Command on 1 Jan 1960.

The squadron made history in July 1969, when it became the world's first operational unit to fly V/STOL aircraft when it introduced the Harrier to service. The squadron remained at Wittering flying the Harrier GR1, GR3, GR5 (from 1988) and now the GR7 (from 1992). In 2000, the squadron became part of the joint RAF/RN 'Joint Force Harrier', within No 3 Group, moving to its current base at Cottesmore in 2001. In the Strategic Defence and Security Review of October 2010 it was announced that the Harrier force would be withdrawn from service early and consequently 16 aircraft from Nos 1, IV and 800 Squadrons made a final formation flight on 15 December 2010 and No 1 Squadron formally disbanded on 28 January 2011.


Award of Standard originally announced on 7 Sep 1943, effective from 1 Apr 1943 but presented:- lst - 24 April 1953 AVM Sir Charles Longcroft and 2nd - 27 June 1983 MRAF Sir Dermot Boyle.

Battle Honours:

Western Front, 1915-1918: Ypres, 1915: Neuve Chappelle: Loos: Somme, 1916: Arras: Ypres, 1917 Lys: Amiens: Somme, 1918: Hindenburg Line: Independent Force & Germany, 1918: France & Low Countries, 1939-1940: Battle of Britain, 1940: Channel & North Sea, 1941-1945: Home Defence, 1940-1945: Fortress Europe, 1941-44: Arnhem: Normandy, 1944: France & Germany, 1944-1945: Biscay, 1944-1945: Rhine: South Atlantic, 1982: Iraq 2003: Kurdistan, 1922-1925 Iraq, 1923-1925

Squadron Codes used: - NA Nov 1938 - Sep 1939 | JX Sep 1939, Jun 1940 - Apr 1951 | 01 - 14 Used on Harriers

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This webpage was updated 30th June 2023