No.23 Squadron

An eagle preying on a falcon
An eagle preying on a falcon
Semper Aggressus - Ever in the Attack
01 September 1915

At the beginning of September 1915, Captain Louis Arbon Strange was posted to Fort Grange, Gosport, Hampshire to form No 23 Squadron. Whilst working up, Second Lieutenant J C Slessor attempted to attack German Zeppelin L15 on the night of 13 October 1915. This was the first night interception over the United Kingdom. By March 1916 the Squadron was deployed to the Western Front, where it flew offensive patrols and ground attack sorties.

The Squadron returned to the United Kingdom in March 1919 and was disbanded at Waddington on 1 December. No 23 Squadron re-formed at Henlow on 1 July 1925.

In the early years of World War 2, 23 Squadron undertook shipping protection and intruder missions. The Squadron converted to Mosquito IIs in July 1942 and moved to Luqa, Malta whence the long-range intruder missions were flown to targets in Sicily, Italy, Tunisia and southern France. In December 1943 the Unit moved to Sardinia.

In May 1944 23 Squadron returned to the United Kingdom and joined the newly formed 100 Group, Bomber Command and a move to Little Snoring. Thereafter, the pattern of bomber escort and night interdiction missions continued until the end of the war and the Squadron disbanded in September 1945.

Returning to East Anglia, No 23 Squadron re-formed just one year later. In September 1951 conversion to jet powered aircraft took place. With the appearance of the Gloster Javelin FAW7 in 1959 the Squadron began pioneer work in in-flight refuelling.

Following a move to Leuchars in 1963 No 23 Squadron converted onto the English Electric Lightning F3. Re-equipped with Tornado F3s in November 1988 the Squadron’s aircrew participated in OPERATION GRANBY (the Gulf War) in 1990 before the Squadron was disestablished in February 1994.

In 1995, it was decided to form a second operational Sentry AEW/E-3D unit to complement No 8 Squadron. No 23 Squadron was selected and re-formed at RAF Waddington on 1 April 1996. No 23 Squadron shares the seven RAF E-3D aircraft with No 8 Squadron.

During 2003 men and machines from this unit participated in OPERATION TELIC. Coalition forces, led by the United States overthrew the Iraqi regime led by Saddam Hussein in a short campaign.


Various types including Bleriot XI 1915 - 1916
F.E.2b 1916 - 1917
Spad S.7 and S.13 1917 - 1918
Dolphin 1918 - 1919
Gamecock 1926 - 1931
Bulldog 1931 - 1933
Hart/Demon 1933 - 1938
Blenheim IF 1938 - 1941
Havoc/Boston III 1941 - 1942
Mosquito II/VI 1942 - 1945
Mosquito 30/36 1946 - 1952
Vampire 5/10 1951 - 1954
Venom 2/3 1953 - 1957
Javelin 4/7/9 1957 - 1964
Lightning 3/6 1964 - 1975
Phantom FGR.2 1975 - 1988
Tornado F.3 1988 - 1994
Sentry 1996 – current (June 2006)

Reference Sources

The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force
James J Halley Air Britain (Historians) Ltd 1988

RAF Squadrons
Wg Cdr C G Jefford Airlife 2001

Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their aircraft
John D R Rawlings Crecy Books 1993

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