RAF No 18 Squadron emblem

RAF No 205 Squadron

Motto: Pertama di Malaya (First in Malaya)

When No 4 (Naval) Squadron moved from Dover Eastchurch an element of the squadron was left behind. On 2 August 1915, this element was redesignated No 5 (Naval) Squadron, but in October it was absorbed into RNAS Dover. On 31 December 1916, 'B' Squadron, No 5 (Naval) Wing was redesignated No 5 (Naval) Squadron. It was a bomber unit equipped with Sopwith 1½ Strutters, which it used to carry out raids against the Belgian ports of Ostend, Zeebrugge and Bruges as well as attacks against German airfields. In April 1917, the Sopwiths began to be replaced by DH4s, a process completed in August, having adopted the day-bomber role in July.

From February 1918, the squadron was attached to 5th Brigade of the RFC and was soon in action during the German spring offence beginning on 21 March. During this period it was often bombing airfields that it had occupied the previous day, such was the rate of the German advance. On 1 April 1918, it was transferred to the RAF becoming No 205 Squadron, but otherwise its operations changed little until the end of the war. In August 1918, it received its first DH9As and by the next month it was fully equipped with this new type. Remaining in France after the war, the squadron was reduced to cadre in March 1919 when it moved to Hucknall, where it disbanded on 22 January 1920.

The squadron reformed at Leuchars on 15 April 1920 as a fleet fighter-reconnaissance unit equipped with the Parnell Panther, but when it was decided to operate aircraft with the fleet in independent flight, it was disbanding by being redesignated No 441 Flight.

In 1927 the RAF formed the Far East Flight placing Group Captain H M Cave-Browne-Cave in command and in October it began its flight to Singapore. Arriving in February 1928, it then undertook a flight across to Australia and then around the coast of the continent before flying back to Singapore, where on 8 January 1929, it was redesignated No 205 Squadron. It was the first RAF squadron to be permanently based in the Far East, its Southamptons being used to carry out patrols around Malaya as well as conducting survey flights. Singapores began to arrive in April 1935 but the Southamptons were not fully replaced until February 1936. On the outbreak of war in Europe it began patrolling the Indian Ocean, using advanced bases in Ceylon and the Nicobar Islands.

Catalinas began to replace the Singapores in April 1941 but the latter soldiered on until October, so by the time of the Japanese attack in December, it was fully equipped with the former. Having suffering heavy losses during operations to locate the Japanese invasion fleets, it withdrew to Java and finally in March 1942 to Australia, where it disbanded on the 31st of the month.

It reformed in Ceylon on 23 July 1942 from detachments of Nos 202 and 240 Squadrons. The squadron remained based at Koggala on the island for the rest of the war and afterwards until September 1949, although it operated a number of detachments at various advanced bases during this period. Catalinas remained its main equipment until June 1945 when these began to be replaced by Sunderland Vs.

In September 1949, it returned to its original home, Seletar in Singapore and during 1950 and 1951, it operated a detachment at Iwakuni in Japan from where it patrolled the Korean coast. Other detachments were also operated from China Bay, Kai Tak and Changi. From 1 January 1955 to a November 1958 the squadron had No 209 linked to it. In March 1959 the squadron HQ moved to Changi and the Sunderlands at Seletar became a detachment. At the same time the squadron began converting to the land based Maritime Reconnaissance role at Changi on Shackleton MR Mk 1 aircraft. In May the Shackleton element was fully worked up and the squadron flew both it's and the RAF's last Sunderland operation on the 15th of the month. The squadron continued to provide maritime surveillance and SAR cover around Singapore and Malaya until the withdrawal of British forces from the area, disbanding on 31 October 1971.


Award of Standard originally announced on 15 Jan 1952, effective from 1 Apr 1951 but presented:-

Squadron Codes used: -

KM Apr 1939 - Sep 1939
FV Sep 1939 - Mar 1942
205 May 1958 - 1966

Aircraft operated

From To Aircraft Variant
Dec 1916 Jul 1917 Sopwith 1½ Strutter  
Apr 1917 Sep 1918 Airco DH.4  
Aug 1918 Mar 1919 Airco DH.9A  
Apr 1920 Apr 1923 Parnall Panther  
Jan 1929 Feb 1936 Supermarine Southampton Mks.II
Apr 1935 Oct 1941 Short Singapore Mk.III
Apr 1941 Mar 1942 Consolidated Catalina MK.I
Jul 1942 Mar 1945 Consolidated Catalina I Mk.Ib
May 1944 Sep 1945 Consolidated Catalina Mk.IVb
Jun 1945 May 1959 Short Sunderland GR.5
May 1958 Nov 1962 Avro Shackleton MR.1A
Apr 1962 Oct 1971 Avro Shackleton MR.2C


  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937-56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Flintham, Vic and Andrew Thomas. Combat Codes: A full explanation and listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied air force unit codes since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth 1918-1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE, BA, RAF(Retd.). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 2nd edition 1976. ISBN 0-354-01027-1.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.
  • Shores, Christopher F., et al. Above the Trenches: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the British Empire Air Forces 1915-1920. Grub Street, 1990. ISBN 0-948817-19-4, ISBN 978-0-948817-19-9.
  • Smith, Colin. Singapore Burning. Penguin Books, 2005. ISBN 0-14-101036-3.

Web References:

  • History of RAF Organisation: http://www.rafweb.org/Sqn081-205.htm
  • Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/
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This webpage was updated 30th June 2023