No.101 Squadron

Issuant from the battlements of a tower, a demi-lion rampant guardant
Issuant from the battlements of a tower, a demi-lion rampant guardant
Mens agitat molem - Mind over matter
12 July 1917

No 101 Squadron was formed at Farnborough on 12 July 1917 as the RFCs second specialised night bomber unit. Within two weeks the unit was despatched to France. In March 1919 the unit returned to the UK and on 31 December 1919 it disbanded.

No 101 Squadron was reformed on 21 March 1928 at Bircham Newton as a day bomber unit. For almost eight years the unit was the only twin engined day bomber squadron in the RAF.

In January 1935 the squadron received the first Overstrands. These were the first aircraft to have power operated movable gun turrets. At the outbreak of the Second World War was involved with training and did not undertake its first bombing mission until 4 July 1940. No 101 Squadron took part in the first of Bomber Commands1000 bomber raids against the Third Reich. Later in the War, the squadron pioneered Radio Counter Measure operations with specially modified dual role Lancaster bomber/Electronic Counter Measures. These 'Airborne Cigar' operations accompanied bombing missions over Germany and severely disrupted enemy night fighter and anti-aircraft defences. A major contribution was made to enemy deception during the D-Day landings. These operations carried considerable risk and with the loss of over 1,100 men, the unit suffered more casualties than any other squadron.

In May 1951, the unit was selected to receive the Royal Air Force's first jet bomber, the Canberra. No 101 Squadron later had the distinction of being the first jet bomber unit to use its aircraft in anger when operations were mounted against Malayan terrorists in 1955. On 1 February 1957 the unit disbanded.

On 15 October 1957 the squadron reformed at RAF Finningley as a V-bomber unit. In 1963 the potential of air-to-air refuelled long-range bombers was shown to the world when three of the Squadron's Vulcans, supported by Valiant tankers, flew direct to Australia in less than 18 hours. This record was to stand for nearly a quarter of a century.

The Squadron's Vulcans hit the headlines in 1982 when, with the support of a number of Victor tankers, 101 Squadron aircraft participated in the bombing and anti-radar missile attacks against the Argentinean-occupied airfield at Port Stanley during the Falklands campaign. The 8,000-mile raids involved the most complex air-to-air refuelling plans ever undertaken. On 4 August 1982 the unit disbanded.

The Squadron reformed on 1 May 1984 at RAF Brize Norton as a flight refuelling unit.

On 8 April 1987 the squadron celebrated its 70th anniversary with another 16 hour record breaking flight to Australia.

In August 1990. following the invasion of Kuwait by Iraqi armed forces. No 101 Squadron deployed to the Gulf with the initial detachment of Jaguar GR1s on OPERATION GRANBY. The entire Squadron remained in the Gulf region. Based at Thumrait, Seeb, Bahrain and eventually Riyadh until after the cessation of hostilities. It returned to RAF Brize Norton in March 1991. Throughout the Gulf conflict the Squadron supported not only Royal Air Force aircraft but also those at the US Navy and Saudi Arabian, Canadian and French Air Forces.

As well as supporting deployments of fighter, strike attack and strategic transport aircraft to operational theatres worldwide, 101 Squadron remains an integral part of the United Kingdom's Air Defence Force

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.

Following the disbanding of sister VC10 squadron, No 10, No 101 became the sole operator of the type in October 2005.


FE2b/d 1917 - 1919
DH9A 1928 - 1929
Sidestrand 1929 - 1936
Overstrand 1935 - 1938
Blenheim I/IV 1938 - 1941
Wellington I/III 1941 - 1942
Lancaster I/III 1942 - 1946
Lincoln 1946 - 1951
Canberra 2/6 1951 - 1957
Vulcan1/2 195

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