No.9 Squadron

A bat
A bat
Per noctum volamus - Through the night we fly
08 December 1914

The Squadron was formed on 8 December 1914 at St. Omer, France from HQ Wireless Flight. This was the first operational squadron equipped with radio for artillery spotting and was originally known as No 9 (Wireless) Squadron. On 22 March 1915 the unit was disbanded but not before its flights had been dispersed amongst the existing artillery observation squadrons.

On 1 April 1915 No 9 Squadron re-formed as a radio-training unit under the command of Major H C T Dowding (later ACM Sir Hugh Dowding, AOC-in-C Fighter Command). In December 1915 it moved back to France to undertake reconnaissance and bombing missions. On 30 July 1919 it was reduced to cadre and returned to UK where it disbanded on 31 December 1919.

On 1 April 1924 the unit reformed as a night bomber unit. No 9 Squadron took part in the first offensive bombing sortie of the war by the RAF against shipping at the port of Brunsbuttel. From then on, the Squadron saw continuous service until the end of hostilities, 6 years later. Although many members of the unit undertook acts of heroism perhaps one should note that of Flight Sergeant George Thompson, on New Year's Day 1945. He was the wireless operator on a Lancaster that was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire over the Dortmund-Ems Canal. Part of the Lancaster's fuselage was set on fire, trapping the mid and aft gunners in their turrets. Flight Sergeant Thompson went back to free them, beating out the flames with his hands. The aircraft crash-landed safely in Allied occupied Europe but Flight Sergeant Thompson died of his injuries. In recognition of his bravery and sacrifice, he was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

Perhaps the unit’s most famous exploit was the 12 November 1944 attack, with No 617 Squadron, on the German battleship Tirpitz. Using the new 'Tallboy' 12,000 lb weapon the raid resulted in the sinking of this ship.

After the end of the European war No 9 Squadron was allotted to Tiger Force for combat in the Far East. The Japanese surrendered before the squadron reached India in 1946 but it undertook photographic survey work for several months before returning to UK in April of that year. In May 1952 it converted to jet bombers. During 1956 the Squadron took part in operations against Malayan terrorists and against Egyptian airfields during the Suez crisis. On 13 July 1961 the unit disbanded.

On 1 March 1962 the squadron re-formed at RAF Coningsby with Vulcans as part of the V-bomber force. In January 1969 it transferred to the Near East Air Force operating from RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus. It returned to UK in 1975. It disbanded again on 9 April 1982 but reformed at RAF Honington as the first Tornado squadron. On 1 October 1986 the squadron moved abroad to RAF Brüggen in Germany. Here the unit formed part of the biggest Tornado wing in NATO.

Following the invasion of Kuwait in 1990 No 9 Squadron aircrew and engineers deployed to the Persian Gulf. The unit’s aircraft dropped three hundred 1000lb bombs during 200 operational sorties. With the withdrawal of RAF units from Germany No 9 Squadron moved back to RAF Marham in May 1998.

During 2003 men and machines from this unit participated in OPERATION TELIC as part of the Ali-Al Salem Combat Air Wing. Coalition forces, led by the United States overthrew the Iraqi regime, led by Saddam Hussein, in a short campaign.


BE2a/b 1914 - 1915
Bleriot XI 1914 - 1915
Maurice Farman S7/S11 1914 - 1915
504/504A 1915 - 1915
BE8a 1915 - 1915
Martinsyde S1 1915 - 1915
RE5/RE7 1915 - 1915
Bristol Scout 1915 - 1916
BE2c/d/e 1915 - 1917
F2b 1918 - 1919
Vimy 1924 - 1925
Virginia V/VI/VII/VIII/IX/X 1925 - 1936
Heyford III 1936 - 1939
Wellington I/III 1939 - 1942
Lancaster I/III/VII 1942 - 1946
Lincoln 1946 - 1952
Canberra 2/6 1952 - 1961
Vulcan 2 1962 - 1982
Tornado 1/4 1

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