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No. 103 Squadron RAF
103 Squadron Crest.png
103 Squadron crest.
Active 1917 - 1919
1936 - 1945
1954 - 1956
1959 - 1975
Country United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
Motto Noli me tangere
Latin: Touch me not

No. 103 Squadron was a Royal Air Force squadron which was formed in 1917 and was disbanded and reformed many times until it was disbanded for the last time in 1975. The motto of 103 Squadron was "Noli me tangere" (Touch me not).[1]


103 Squadron was formed at RAF Beaulieu, Hampshire in 1917 equipped with DH9 aircraft.[1] In May 1918 the Squadron was transferred to France and flew reconnaissance and day bombing operations on the Western Front during the Great War. The Squadron was disbanded in March 1919.

The Squadron was reformed in 1936 at RAF Andover in Hampshire as No. 103 (Bomber) Squadron, a light bomber Squadron flying Hawker Hinds.[1] The Squadron was then posted to RAF Usworth in County Durham. In 1937 103 Squadron was re-equipped with the more advanced Fairey Battle bomber.

At the outbreak of the Second World War the Squadron was deployed to France as part of the RAF Advanced Air Striking Force. On the 10 May 1940 German forces invaded France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The Squadron was heavily committed during this period sustaining many losses. In mid June 1940 the Squadron withdrew from France for RAF Abingdon in England.

103 Squadron was then transferred to RAF Newton near Nottingham and reverted to the control of Royal Air Force No 1 Group Bomber Command. In October 1940 it was re-equipped with Vickers Wellington bombers. Operations were carried out with this type on targets on mainland Europe. The Squadron moved in to the new airfield at RAF Elsham Wolds in July 1941. In August 1942 the Wellingtons were replaced by Handley Page Halifax bombers. These were in turn replaced in late October 1942 by Avro Lancaster bombers which 103 Squadron flew on many operations to Germany and occupied Europe for the rest of the war. During the Second World War 103 Squadron flew over 6000 operational sorties at a high cost in both men and machines.

At the conclusion of the Second World War the Squadron was disbanded. It was subsequently reformed at RAF Gütersloh, West Germany in November 1954 and was part of the 2nd Tactical Air Force. During this short period the unit flew the English Electric Canberra bomber. The Squadron was again disbanded on the 1st August 1956 and reformed at RAF Nicosia, Cyprus on 1 August 1959. From then onwards it became a support unit with Bristol Sycamore H.R.14 helicopters operating in search and rescue, casualty evacuation and internal security roles. 103 Squadron was disbanded on the 31 July 1963 and reformed in the Far East at RAF Seletar, Singapore on 1 August 1963. At that time it was equipped with Westland Whirlwind Mk 10 helicopters. In 1969 the Squadron was posted to RAF Changi and subsequently moved to RAF Tengah in 1971. The Westland Whirlwind was replaced with the more modern and capable Westland Wessex helicopter in 1972. 103 Squadron was disbanded for the last time on the 1 August 1975.


  • G G Jefford, RAF Squadrons, second edition 2001, Airlife Publishing, UK, ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Public Record Office AIR 27 103 Squadron files.

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