No. 100 Squadron RAF

No. 100 Squadron RAF

No. 100 Squadron of the Royal Air Force is based at RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire, UK, and operates the Hawker-Siddeley Hawk.



World War I

No. 100 was established on 23 February 1917 at Hingham in Norfolk as the Royal Flying Corps' first squadron formed specifically as a night bombing unit and comprised elements of the Home Defence Wing. The unit was mobilised and crossed from Portsmouth on 21 March 1917 to France and was first based at St Andre-aux-Bois, where it received twelve FE2bs aircraft on complement. These aircraft had been withdrawn from other units where they had been utilised in daylight roles, so modifications were required to adapt them for 100 Squadron's operational role.[1]

On 1 April 1917, the unit moved to Izel-le-Hameau and took a further four aircraft on complement, in the form of BE2es. The squadron began operations on the night of 5/6 April 1917, when eleven FE2b aircraft attacked Douai airfield, where Manfred von Richthofen's 'Flying Circus' was based; Richthofen referred to this raid in his book, 'Der Rote Kampfflieger'. One hundred and twenty-eight 20 lb (9 kg) and four 40 lb (18 kg) bombs were dropped; four aircraft hangars were reported as having been set on fire and one of the attacking aircraft was lost.[1] On 17 November 1918, 100 Squadron moved to RAF Saint Inglevert.[2]

On 4 March 1918,[2] the squadron was sent to Ochey, near Nancy, to form the nucleus of the Independent Air Force under Major General Hugh Trenchard. In August of that year, the unit converted to Handley Page 0/400 heavy bombers and therefore longer range sorties over industrial sites in Germany became possible. The squadron continued to conduct these types of raids throughout the rest of the war; an aircraft from the unit was the last in war-time to return to base (on the night before the Armistice) from a raid.[1]

Inter war period

Vickers Vildebeest Mark III torpedo bombers of 100 Squadron approaching Tavoy, Burma. 11 February 1939

After the end of the war, the squadron remained on the continent until September 1919 as a cadre before transferring to RAF Baldonnel, near Dublin and re-forming to full strength, re-equipping with Bristol F.2 Fighters in an army co-operaration role. In this role, Close air support operations were flown during the Irish War of Independence. Following the end of hostilities the squadron was moved to Spitalgate, Lincs. in February 1922 and re-assumed the bomber role, this time with Vickers Vimys and DH9As.[3]

In May 1924, the unit was re-equipped with the Fairey Fawn. With these aircraft, the squadron performed air-mail carrying services during the General Strike of 1926. In September of that year, the squadron took Hawker Horsley aircraft on complement and in November 1930 moved to Donibristle, Fife, converting to the torpedo bomber role. Its revised official designation as 'No. 100 (Torpedo-Bomber) Squadron' came later, in 1933.[3]

A further re-equipment came in November 1932, when the Vickers Vildebeest came on complement and with this aircraft the squadron was deployed as part of the operation to defend Singapore, arriving at Seletar in January 1934.[3]

World War II

The squadron was put at readiness shortly after war was declared but, for the period to December 1941, there was little involvement operationally whilst still based at Seletar. In November and December 1941 detachments were sent to Fisherman's Bend, in Victoria, Australia. Intended replacement aircraft (Bristol Beauforts) for the remaining squadron were not forthcoming and, as part of operations against advancing Japanese forces, the unit's obsolete Vildebeest aircraft were used in strikes against enemy shipping. Because of this, during January 1942, the squadron lost most of its aircraft in engagements with Japanese fighters. Despite several attempts to remain operational as a combined unit along with No. 36 Squadron RAF, as Japan made advances in the Far East theatre, most personnel eventually became prisoners of war.[4] Others were evacuated to Australia. (In February 1942, No. 100 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force was formed at RAAF Richmond, near Sydney, from a nucleus of 100 Squadron RAF personnel. Despite this link, the squadron was an RAAF squadron throughout its existence.)

On 15 December 1942, No. 100 Squadron RAF proper was re-formed in the UK, at RAF Grimsby, near Waltham, as a night-time heavy bomber squadron and was part of No. 1 Group, RAF Bomber Command. In January 1943, the squadron received the first of its new complement of Avro Lancasters; the first operation of the squadron was on March 4, 1943 against a U-Boat base at St Nazaire. A few days later the squadron was involved in a raid against Nuremberg in Germany and from then on, in support of Bomber Command's strategic role against Germany, took part in every major raid.[5]

At the end of 1943, the squadron had completed the second largest number of successful operations of units within No. 1 Bomber Command and had the lowest 'loss' rate. On the night of June 5, 1944, the squadron bombed heavy gun batteries in support of the D-Day invasion.[5]

For the last month of the war, the squadron moved to Elsham Wolds in Lincolnshire. In the latter stages of the war and post-war, the squadron was involved in the humanitarian Operations Operation Manna|Manna and Exodus.

Post war & to date

Between 1946 and 1950 the squadron was based at RAF Hemswell operating Avro Lancasters and later Avro Lincolns. The squadron left Hemswell in 1950, relocating to Malaysia where it was involved with Operations Firedog and Musgrave. In January 1954, the unit deployed to Eastleigh in Kenya during the Mau Mau Uprising. Returning two months later, the squadron was re-equipped with English Electric Canberras, moving to Wittering in Cambridgeshire. It was disbanded on 1 September 1959 but re-formed at Wittering on 1 May 1962, equipped with Handley Page Victor B.2s, which, from early 1964, carried the Blue Steel missile nuclear weapon. Disbanded again on 30 September 1968, the squadron was re-formed as a target facilities unit in 1972, utilising Canberra aircraft at West Raynham, in Norfolk, before moving in 1982 to RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire. In 1991, the squadron converted to HS Hawk T.1s, which are now used for training and front-line support roles.In 1994 the squadron moved to RAF Finningley.

Decorated personnel

Squadron flag

The squadron flag which depicts a skull and crossbones was apparently stolen from a French House of ill repute in 1918. It was later embellished with the squadron name and the motto Blood and Bones. The original flag disintegrated while being looked after by a Flight Lieutenant Trillwood during his time as a Japanese prisoner of war. The flag was originally red but was replaced by a black flag after the war. Following the 90th anniversary of the squadron, a replica of the original flag was presented to the squadron by Arthur White, a navigator with the squadron during the Second World War, in 2008.[6]

Aircraft operated

See also


  1. ^ a b c Stamford, Lincs., U.K.: FlyPast, Key Publishing Ltd 'The Boneyard' , April 2007 No. 309 Pages 15-18
  2. ^ a b "Saint-Inglevert" (in French). Old Anciens Aerodromes. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Stamford, Lincs., U.K.: FlyPast, Key Publishing Ltd 'The Boneyard' April 2007 No. 309 Page 18
  4. ^ Stamford, Lincs., U.K.: FlyPast, Key Publishing Ltd 'The Boneyard' , April 2007 No. 309 Pages 15-19
  5. ^ a b Stamford, Lincs., U.K.: FlyPast, Key Publishing Ltd 'The Boneyard' , April 2007 No. 309 Pages 20-21
  6. ^ "War veteran sees red with replica sqn flag". Excalibur (Forces & Corporate Publishing): pp. page 28. March/April 2008 
  • "No. 100 Squadron". Flight, 28 October 1955, pp. 673–676, 678.
  • White, Arthur. Hornets' Nest: History of 100 Squadron, Royal Air Force, 1917-94. Worcester, Worcestershire, UK: Square One Publications, 1994.

External links

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