45 Squadron RAF

Unit History, WWI, Iraq, Palestine, WWII, Malaya

     Number 45 Squadron formed at Gosport on 1 March 1916 and moved to France in October with 1½-Strutters in the scout role. These aircraft were outclassed almost from the start, and it wasn't until mid-1917 when Camels arrived that losses decreased to an acceptable level. At the end of the year, the Squadron transferred to the Austro-Italian front to carry out offensive patrols and ground attack sorties. In September 1918, the unit returned to France and joined the Independent Air Force as long-range bomber escorts, remaining on the continent until February 1919 when it returned to the UK and disbanded at the turn of the year. On 1 April 1921, the Squadron reformed at Helwan in Egypt and began an association with stations in the Middle and Far East that lasted almost 50 years. In early 1922, the Squadron received Vernon bomber-transports and used these to great effect in Iraq where troops would be transported to trouble spots and then the aircraft would be used to bomb rebel villages. In quieter times, the aircraft flew the Cairo-Baghdad mail route. In April 1927, the unit became a bomber Squadron and received DH9As, although 'air policing' in Palestine continued. In September 1929, Fairey IIIFs arrived, these remaining until 1935 when a combination of Harts, Vincents and Gordons replaced them. With the outbreak of World War II, the Squadron and its newly arrived Blenheims moved to the Western Desert and after flying border patrol sorties it took up bombing raids when the Italians joined the conflict on June 1940. From 1942, the Squadron was based in Burma and India, spending almost as much time working up on new types (Vengeance dive-bombers and Mosquitos) as in the front-line. After the War, the Squadron moved to Malaya and spent the next 12 years anti-terrorist missions (Operation Firedog) with Brigands, Hornets, Vampires, Venoms and Canberras. In January 1970, the Squadron was disbanded, but reformed two years later at West Raynham as a Hunter ground-attack unit tasked with providing future Jaguar with post-Tactical Weapons Unit training. With the Jaguar fleet at full strength by 1976, the Squadron was disbanded until 1 December 1983, when it was assigned as the 'shadow' designation of the Tornado Weapons Conversion Unit at Honington until 1992 when it was re-assigned to the Multi-Engine Training Squadron and its Jetstreams at Cranwell.

     The Squadron Badge is a winged camel, approved by HRH King Edward VIII in October 1936. The badge commemorates the aircraft used for a large part of World War I, and the Squadron's long association with the Middle East. The unit has the following Battle Honours: Western Front 1916-1917*, Somme 1916, Ypres 1917, Italian Front and Adriatic 1917-1918, Piave, Independent Force and Germany 1918*, Africa 1940*, Syria 1941, Burma 1942*, Arakan 1943-1944*, Burma 1944-1945* (Honours marked with an asterisk are emblazoned on the Squadron Standard).


Peter A. Weston, Lancaster Radar/Radio/Navigator, 186 Sqdn, Stradishall, East Anglia (World War Two)/ 45 Sqdn (Malaya)/ 209 Sqdn (Korea), RAF

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