No.18 Squadron

A Pegasus rampant
A Pegasus rampant
Animo et fide - With courage and faith
11 May 1915

The Squadron was formed at Northolt on 11 May 1915 before moving to France in November as a fighter-reconnaissance unit. By 1916 it had re-equipped and flew reconnaissance and day bombing missions. The unit’s personnel were involved in the development of two armament advances. Members of the squadron armoury invented the double drum for the Lewis machine gun and Captain Norman invented the Norman compensating fore sight. In December 1915It returned to the UK in September 1919 and disbanded on 31 December 1919.

On 20 October 1931 the squadron re-formed at RAF Upper Heyford as a light bomber unit. It moved to France at the outbreak of the war. After a severe mauling by German air and ground forces the remnants returned to the UK. On the 19 August 1941, while on a bombing mission, Blenheim R3843 F-Freddy dropped a box containing a spare artificial leg for Wing Commander Douglas Bader. In October 1941 the squadron split in two. The aircraft and aircrews went to Malta and the ground echelon remained in the UK.

The Mediterranean-based element built an impressive record with its daring daylight attacks on Axis shipping until January 1942 when the remnants moved to Egypt. This part of the squadron disbanded on 21 March 1942. The UK half received its first new aircrew and equipment on 12 March 1942. The new squadron moved to North Africa to taking part in Operation Torch. On 4 December 1942 Acting Wing Commander Hugh Gordon Malcolm led a low-level attack on Chouigui airfield. The squadron, which had no fighter escort, reached and successfully attacked the target but was then entirely wiped out by German fighters. Wing Commander Malcolm’s aircraft was the last to be shot down. For this and previous acts of heroism he was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. In August 1943 the moved to Sicily and later in the year crossed to Italy. It continued to provide interdiction bombing and coastal shipping attacks for the rest of the war.

On 1 September No 621 Squadron at Ein Shemar was renumbered No 18 Squadron. It disbanded two weeks later. On 15 March 1947 No 1300 (Meteorological) Flight at Butterworth, Malaya was renumbered No 18 Squadron. This also disbanded quickly on 15 November 1947.

On 8 December 1947 No 18 Squadron re-formed at RAF Netheravon as a transport unit. Its Dakota aircraft took part in the Berlin Airlift. On 20 February 1950 the unit disbanded. On 1 August 1953 the unit reformed as a jet bomber squadron. In 1956 it moved to Cyprus during the Suez crisis and took part in 32 attacks on Egyptian targets. The squadron disbanded on 31 January 1957.

C Flight No 199 Squadron was renumbered No 18 Squadron on 16 December 1958. The squadron operated Valiants as a part of the v-bomber force. It disbanded on 31 March 1963.

No 18 Squadron reappeared when the Wessex Trials Unit was renamed on 27 January 1964. It was the first squadron to be equipped with the type. The unit disbanded on 16 October 1980.

O 4 August 1981 the squadron re-formed at RAF Odiham as the first Chinook squadron. In April 1982 it was committed to the South Atlantic Task Force.

In May 1983 the squadron returned to RAF Gutersloh, Germany to support the British Army. In January 1991 the Squadron deployed to Saudi Arabia as part of the Chinook Squadron (Middle East) to support the coalition forces in the Gulf War.

With the draw down of forces in Europe in 1992, the Squadron lost some of the Chinooks and gained a Puma flight to form the first composite support helicopter squadron. In July 1997, after withdrawal from Germany the squadron became an all-Chinook unit at RAF Odiham.

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.

Exercise Eagle’s Eye in October 2004 provided the Squadron with an opportunity to take part in a larg

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