RAF 37 Squadron

Motto: Wise without eyes

Originally formed as an experimental unit at the Experimental Station, Orfordness on 15 April 1916, it was absorbed by the station in May, thereby losing its individual identity. However, a new 37 formed on 15 September 1916 as a Home Defence unit to cover the South-East. With headquarters at Woodham Manor it operated from landing grounds at Goldhanger, Rochford and Stow Maries. The squadron had one success with a BE12 brought down the Zeppelin L48 over Suffolk on 16/17 June 1917. The squadron moved to Biggin Hill in March 1919 where it received some Snipes but on 1 July 1919 it was disbanded by being re-numbered No 39.

No 37 came back to life on 26 April 1937 when 'B' Flight of No 214 Squadron was expanded to squadron status. Equipped with Harrows at Feltwell it was now operating in the bomber role. Wellingtons were received in May 1939 and six of these were immediately in action on the outbreak of war. The horrendous losses sustained in these early daylight operations led No 37, together with the rest of the 'heavy' bomber force to turn to night bombing, however, in November 1940 the squadron was transferred to the Middle East.

Initial operations were carried out from Malta but by mid November the squadron was settled in Egypt. From here it carried out missions over Libya and a detachment operated from Greece over Albania and later Bulgaria. During May 1941 its Wellington's were involved in support of the operations around Habbaniya following the Iraqi uprising, after which it returned to operations over the Western Desert and Italy. It moved west following the 8th Army advances to Libya and later Tunisia. The squadron left Africa in December 1943 when it moved to Italy, where in October 1944 it started to re-equip with Liberators. The Liberators were used from December 1944 to bomb targets in Italy, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Albania as well as drop supplies to Yugoslav partisans and mine the Danube. The squadron remained in the area after VE-Day but moved to Palestine in October 1945 , a move which was short-lived as it moved back to Egypt in December. The squadron disbanded Shallufa on 31 March 1946.

Having originally been reformed from No 214 Squadron, it is ironic that on 15 April 1946, No 214 was re-numbered 37. It was now flying Lancasters but just under a year later on 1 April 1947 the squadron disbanded again. A new 37 Squadron formed from an element of No 38 Squadron at Ein Shemer in Palestine on 14 September 1947, equipped with Lancasters again but now in the Maritime Reconnaissance role. The squadron began moving to Malta in April 1948 and by 19 May was fully re-located. Shackletons replaced the Lancasters in August 1953 and in August 1957 the squadron was again transferred, this time to Aden. It continued to operate in the protectorate until the run down to withdrawal began and it disbanded at Khormaksar on 7 September 1967. To date the number has not been revived.

Battle Honours*
Home Defence, 1916-18: Norway 1940: Dunkirk: Channel & North Sea, 1939-40: Fortress Europe, 1940: Malta, 1940,1942: Greece, 1941: El Alamein: Italy, 1943-45: South-East Europe, 1943-45:

Squadron Codes used:
37 Apr 1937 - Apr 1939
FJ Apr 1939 - Sep 1939
LF Sep 1939 - Mar 1946

 

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This webpage was updated 25th January 2019