RAF No 73 Squadron
Motto: Tutor et Ultor (Protector and Avenger)
Formed at Upavon on 1 July 1917, it trained as a Camel fighter unit and moved to France in January 1918. Initially conducting fighter patrols and escort duties, following the German 'Michael' Offensive of March 1918, it found itself carrying ot ground attack sorties as well. It later developed tactics in co-operating with tanks, which it continued until the end of the war. It did not remain on the continent long after the Armistice, returning to Yatesbury in February 1919, where it disbanded on 2 July.
The squadron reformed, again in the fighter role on 15 March 1937, moving to Debden in June. At the same time its initial equipment of Furies were replaced by Gladiators. In November the squadron moved again, this time to Digby where in July 1938, it converted to Hurricanes. With the outbreak of war the squadron joined the Advanced Air Striking Force in France to provide defensive cover to the AASF's airfields. As the German advance continued after May 1940, the squadron moved further back towards the coast until 18 June, when it returned to Church Fenton to recuperate and re-equip. It spent most of the Battle of Britain here in the night fighter role, moving to Castle Camps in September.
The squadron was now earmarked for service in the Middle East and in October it ceased operations and on 13 November it boarded HMS Furious and left for Takoradi in West Africa. The ground echelon had travelled separately and they arrived in Egypt at the end of November, with the air echelon flying the Takoradi Route, arriving at Heliopolis on 6 December. For the remainder of the North African campaign, the squadron flew shipping escort patrols, ground-attack operations and night fighter patrols. New equipment arrived in June 1943, when the squadron received Spitfires and these were taken to Italy in October. The squadron converted to the fighter-bomber role in April 1944, operating in this role over the Balkans for the remainder of the war. A detachment was sent to Greece to help put down a Communist take over from December 1944 to January 1945. In April 1945, the squadron moved to Yugoslavia remaining there until July, when it transferred to Malta.
It now became one of Malta's permanent units and converted to Vampires, in Cyprus, from August to October 1948. Venoms replaced these in November/December 1954 at Habbaniya, to where the squadron had moved in May 1953. Two years after this, with the withdrawal of the RAF from Iraq, the squadron moved to Cyprus, where it converted to the Canberra in May 1957. When the Akrotiri Strike Wing was replaced by Vulcans, the squadron finally disbanded on 3 February 1969.
Standards Battle Honours*
Western Front, 1918: Maine, 1918: Lys: Amiens: Arras: Hindenburg Line: France & Low Countries, 1939-40: Battle of Britain, 1940: Egypt & Libya, 1940-43: Mediterranean, 1941-43: El Alamein: El Hamma: South East Europe 1943-45: Italy 1943-45:
Squadron Codes used: -
HV Oct 1938 - Sep 1939
TP Sep 1939 - Nov 1940
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