Famous Squadrons – 617 Squadron RAF – ‘The Dambusters’


617 Squadron, Royal Air Force (RAF) was reformed on Tuesday 17 April 2018 at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort in South Carolina as the first British frontline Squadron equiped with the F-35B Lightning II. It is the fourth occasion since the Squadron was formed that it has been re-raised.

617 Squadron F35B

The squadron was originally formed under great secrecy at RAF Scampton during the Second World War on 21 March 1943. Known initially as ‘Squadron X’ it also included personnel from the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) brought together for the specific task of attacking three major dams that contributed water and power to the Ruhr industrial region in Germany: the Möhne, Eder and Sorpe.

617 Patche

The plan was given the codename Operation ‘Chastise’ and was carried out on 17 May 1943 using Barnes Wallis’s revolutionary ‘Bouncing bomb’. The Möhne and Edersee were breached, causing catastrophic flooding of the Ruhr valley but the Sorpe Dam sustained only minor damage. 53 of the 133 aircrew who participated in the attack were killed and over 1,600 civilians are estimated to have died in the flooding resulting from the attack.

617 Sqn

Known since that time as the ‘Dambusters’ the Squadron is one of the most famous units in the RAF. 617 Squadron went on to participate with 9 Squadron RAF in Operation ‘Catechism’ in 1944 to successfully sink the German battleship the Tirpitz, as well as take part in the 1991 Gulf War and 2003 Iraq War.

617 Squadron RAF Badge

Motto: ‘Apres moi le deluge’ (After me, the flood)

Battle Honours: 10

  • Fortress Europe 1943–1945*
  • The Dams*
  • Biscay Ports*
  • France and Germany 1944–1945*
  • Normandy*
  • Tirpitz*
  • Channel & North Sea 1944–1945*
  • German Ports*
  • Gulf 1991
  • Iraq 2003–2011*

* Honours marked with an asterisk may be emblazoned on the Squadron Standard

You can find out more about 617 Squadron RAF here: https://www.raf.mod.uk/our-organisation/squadrons/617-squadron/

Famous Squadrons – 450 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) – ‘The Desert Harassers’

450 Sqn RAAF Operation Bowler

450 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) was formed on 16 February 1941 at RAAF Williamtown near Newcastle in New South Wales as the first Australian squadron established under Article XV of the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS).

450 Sqn Kittyhawks

Nicknamed the ‘Desert Harassers’, the Squadron was one of the most famous RAAF units of the Second World War and derived its nickname from taunts made by the German propaganda broadcaster ‘Lord Haw Haw’ who, during the squadron’s operations in the Western Desert branded it a band of “Australian mercenaries whose harassing tactics were easily beaten off by the Luftwaffe”.

450 Sqn crest

Motto: ‘Harass’

Battle Honours: 10

  • South-East Europe 1942-1945
  • Egypt and Libya 1940-1943
  • El Alamein
  • El Hamma
  • North Africa 1942-1943
  • Sicily 1943
  • Italy 1943-1945
  • Gustav Line
  • Gothic Line
  • Syria 1941

450 Sqn Bombing up a Fighter Bomber

450 Squadron’s war ended with the surrender of German forces in Italy on 2 May 1945. It was disbanded at Lavarino in Italy on 20 August 1945.

450 Sqn Plaque

The 450 Squadron ‘number plate’ was inadvertently given to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) after the Second World War. Although Canadian squadrons were numbered from 400 to 449 during the war, an unusual twist of history resulted in the number 450 being allocated to a Canadian heavy transport squadron. Nevertheless, Canada received permission to adopt the number and 450 Heavy Transport Helicopter Squadron was formed at RCAF Station St. Hubert, Quebec on March 29, 1968. Whilst the Squadron inherited the 450 number plate it did not inherit the above Battle Honours.

You can find out more about the 450 Sqn RAAF Assocation here: http://www.450squadronraaf.org.au/