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/

Air Force News – Official opening of the International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC) – 12 April 2018

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The International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC) in Lincoln, England will be officially opened today, as part of an ongoing series of RAF 100 commemorative events.

IBCC logo

The IBCC is an interpretation centre and memorial to the service of RAF Bomber Command during the Second World War, located on Canwick Hill, overlooking Lincoln in England.

International Bomber Command Centre

Lincoln was chosen as the site for the IBCC because over a third of all RAF Bomber Command stations (27) were based in the county during the Second World War earning Lincolnshire the nickname of the ‘Bomber County’. The IBCC consists of three major parts.


The Spire Memorial and Walls of Names, erected in 2015, reflects the connection to the Lincoln Cathedral, the first major landmark that many Bomber crews saw when returning from their nightime missions. The Spire is based on the dimensions of the wingspan of a Lancaster bomber, being 31 metres (102 ft) tall and 5 metres (16 ft) wide at its base, making it the tallest War Memorial in the United Kingdom. The Spire is encircled by walls carrying the names of 57,871 men and women who gave their lives whilst serving in or supporting RAF Bomber Command. It is the only place in the world where all these losses are memorialised.


The Chadwick Centre, named after Roy Chadwick who designed the Lancaster Bomber, includes an education suite, interactive exhibition , reference library and research room.


The Peace Gardens include a Memorial Avenue, with geo-located trees for each of the 27 Lincolnshire stations, an International Garden with planting beds representing the 5 continents and 62 nations involved with the Command, and an amphitheatre for outdoor education.

You can find out more about the Centre here: http://internationalbcc.co.uk/

On this day – RAF100 – The centenary of the formation of the Royal Air Force – 1 April 1918

RAF Flag

The Royal Air Force (RAF) was formed on this day one hundred years ago.

The RAF was founded on 1 April 1918 by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) under the Air Ministry, which had been established three months earlier.


The RFC had been born out of the Air Battalion of the Corps of Royal Engineers (RE) and was part of the British Army. The RNAS was its Royal Navy equivalent controlled by the Admiralty.

Gotha 2

In 1917 Germany deployed long range Gotha bomber aircraft (above) against Britain. In response to those raids General Jan Smuts was authorised by the Imperial War Cabinet to conduct a review, the outcome of which became known as the Smuts Report (see below).

Smuts recommended that the air service should be treated as a separate force from the Royal Navy and the British Army and be solely responsible for conducting warfare in the air.

Smuts Report

Following the report, Parliament debated and passed the Air Force (Constitution) Act 1917 (see below), which was given Royal Assent by King George V on the 29 November 1917.

Air Force Act 2

A few months later on the 1 April 1918, the RNAS and RFC were merged together to create the Royal Air Force (RAF), the world’s first independent air force.

The newly created RAF was the most powerful air force in the world on its creation, with more than 20,000 aircraft and over 300,000 personnel. The squadrons of the RFC kept their existing numerals, while those of the RNAS were renumbered from 201 onwards.

RAF poster 2

After World War 1, the RAF was greatly reduced in size and during the inter-war years was used to police the British Empire in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

DH9soveriraq1920 30 Sqn

The RAF underwent rapid expansion during the Second World War, initially responsible for the air defence of Great Britain, playing the key role in the Battle of Britain, as well as the strategic nighttime bombing campaign against Germany and Italy, including targets like the Ruhr, Turin and Berlin, as well as the provision of tactical air support to British Army operations in North Africa, Italy, Burma, France and Germany.

Band of Brothers Robert Taylor

During the Cold War, the main role of the RAF was the defence of the UK and continental Europe against attack by the Soviet Union, including responsibility for the UK’s nuclear deterrent up until 1969.

Vulcan 2

After the Cold War, the RAF was involved in several large scale operations, including the 1991 Gulf War, the 1999 Kosovo War, the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, the 2011 military intervention in Libya and support for enduring operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

Tornado 2

You can find out more about RAF 100 events here: https://www.raf.mod.uk/raf100/



Air Force News – 12 (Bomber) Squadron RAF to transition from Tornado to Typhoon and integrate with Qataris

UK Minister for Defence Procurement Harriet Baldwin announced on Thursday 14 December 2017 that 12 (B) Sqn RAF, currently equipped with the Tornado GR4 at RAF Marham, will transition to Typhoon and integrate with the Qatar Emiri Air Force in preparation for its introduction into service with the QEAF. The new Squadron will be based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.

Record exercise for RAF Typhoon force

12 (B) Sqn disbanded in March 2014 only to be reformed in January 2015 at RAF Marham after the decision to disband 2 Sqn RAF was cancelled in order to allow the retention of Tornado to participate in Op SHADER, the air campaign in Iraq against ISIL (on 1 April 2015 the “new” 2 Sqn RAF became the fifth Typhoon squadron and the “old” 2 Sqn RAF rebadged as 12 Sqn equipped with Tornados).

12 (B) Sqn RAF has a long and proud history, including being the first fast jet RAF Squadron commanded by a woman, Wing Commander Nikki Thomas, who took command when the Squadron was reformed in 2015. Some more information on the history of the Squadron is shown below:

Formed: 14 February 1915

12 Squadron RAF Badge

Badge: A fox’s mask – approved by King George VI in February 1937. Based on a suggestion when the squadron was equipped with the Fairey Fox, an aircraft of which they were proud and the sole operators.

Motto: ‘Leads the Field

Battle Honours: 18

Western Front 1915-1918, Loos*, Somme 1916, Arras, Cambrai 1917*, Somme 1918*, Hindenburg Line, France and Low Countries 1939-1940*, Meuse Bridges*, Fortress Europe 1940-1944, German Ports 1941-1945, Biscay Ports 1940-1945, Berlin 1941-1945*, Ruhr 1941-1945*, France and Germany 1944-1945, Rhine*, Gulf 1991*, Iraq 2003*.

(Honours marked with an asterisk, may be emblazoned on the Squadron Standard)

Roundel:     12 Squadron RAF Roundel

You can find out more about 12 Sqn here: https://www.raf.mod.uk/rafmarham/aboutus/12sqnhome.cfm

Air Force News – Battle Honours awarded to Royal Air Force (RAF) Squadrons for operations in Iraq and Libya

II AC Sqn Standard.jpg

The UK Ministry of Defence announced on 11 October 2017 that Her Majesty The Queen has approved the award of Battle Honours to squadrons of the Royal Air Force.

The Battle Honour “IRAQ 2003-2011” was approved for 27 operational flying squadrons and eight Royal Air Force Regiment squadrons for their service during Operation TELIC in Iraq. Those with the right to emblazon the Battle Honour on their Standard are:

  • No 7 Squadron RAF
  • No XXIV Squadron RAF
  • No 33 Squadron RAF
  • No 47 Squadron RAF
  • No 230 Squadron RAF
  • No 1 Squadron RAF Regiment
  • No 26 Squadron RAF Regiment
  • No 34 Squadron RAF Regiment.

For Operation DEFERENCE and Operation ELLAMY in Libya, the Battle Honour “LIBYA 2011” was approved for 13 operational flying squadrons. Those with the right to emblazon the Battle Honour on their Standard are:

  • No II (Army Cooperation) Squadron RAF
  • No IX (Bomber) Squadron RAF
  • No 47 Squadron RAF.