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.
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.
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.
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.
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*
- 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/