No. 1 Squadron RAF: Wikis


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No. 1 Squadron RAF
I Squadron badge
Official Squadron Badge of No. 1 Squadron RAF
Active 1 April 1911 (RE), 13 May 1912 (RFC), 1 April 1918 (RAF) to 1 November 1926
1 February 1927 - to present day.
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Role Close Air Support and Reconnaissance
Part of RAF Air Command
Base RAF Cottesmore
Motto Latin: In omnibus princeps
("First in all things")
post 1950 aircraft insignia RAF 1 Sqn.svg
Aircraft BAE Harrier GR.7
Battle honours World War I
Western Front 1915-1918*
Ypres, 1915*
• Neuve Chappelle
• Loos
Somme, 1916*
• Arras
Ypres, 1917
• Lys
• Amiens
Somme, 1918
• Hindenburg Line
Independent Force and Germany, 1918*
World War II
• France and Low Countries, 1939-1940*
Battle of Britain, 1940*
• Channel & North Sea, 1941-1945
• Home Defence, 1940-1945
Fortress Europe, 1941-1944*
• Arnhem
• Normandy, 1944
• France and Germany, 1944-1945*
• Biscay, 1944-1945
• Rhine
South Atlantic, 1982*
Gulf War
Kosovo War
Iraq, 2003
Honours marked with an asterix* are those emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
Squadron Badge heraldry A winged numeral "1"
Squadron Codes NA (Nov 1938 - Sep 1939)[1][2]
JX (Sep 1939 - Apr 1951)[3][4]

No. 1 (F) Squadron is a squadron of the Royal Air Force. It currently operates the Harrier GR7 from RAF Cottesmore.

The squadron motto is In omnibus princeps (Latin for "first in all things"), appropriate for the RAF's oldest squadron and one that has been involved in almost every major British military operation since World War I. This includes World War II, Suez, Falklands War, Gulf War, Kosovo War and Operation Telic (Iraq).




1878 to 1918

No. 1 Squadron's origins go back to 1878 when its predecessor, No. 1 Balloon Company, was formed at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich as part of the Balloon Section.[5] On 1 April 1911 the Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers was created. The battalion initially consisted of two companies, with No. 1 Company, Air Battalion taking responsibility for lighter than air flying. The first Officer Commanding was Captain E M Maitland.

On 13 May 1912, with the establishment of the Royal Flying Corps, No. 1 Company of the Air Battalion was redesignated No. 1 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps. No. 1 Squadron was one of the original three Royal Flying Corps squadrons. Maitland continued as the new Squadron's Officer Commanding and he was promoted to major several days after the establishment of the squadron. On 1 May 1914, Major Charles Longcroft was appointed as the new squadron commander. Apart from a few weeks as a supernumerary in August and September 1914, Longcroft continued as the squadron commander until January 1915.[6] It was also in May that the squadron airships were handed over to the Navy as it was been decided that the Navy would take over all airship activity.[7]

27 December 1917: No.1 RAF Squadron with Nieuport 17s and Nieuport 24s at Bailleul. See [8]

The squadron was reformed as an aircraft squadron in August 1914, and equipped with a mixture of Avro 504s and Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.8s, crossed over to France on 7 March 1915. It operated mainly in the reconnaissance role, with a few single seat fighters for escort purposes. It retained Morane Parasols for reconnaissance, until becoming a dedicated fighter squadron on 1 January 1917, flying Nieuport 17s and Nieuport 27.[9]

The obsolete Nieuports were replaced by more modern S.E.5as in January 1918. On incorporation into the RAF on 1 April 1918 the squadron kept its numeral; No 1 Squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) was displaced to become No. 201 Squadron RAF.

Between the wars

The squadron returned to the UK from France in March 1919, being formally disbanded on 20 January 1920. On the next day it reformed at Risalpur in the North West Frontier of India (now part of Pakistan), flying the Sopwith Snipe. and from January 1920. It moved to Hinaidi near Baghdad in Iraq in May 1921, to carry out policing duties, retaining its Snipes,[10] although it also received one Bristol Jupiter engined Nieuport Nighthawk for evaluation.[11] It remained in Iraq, carrying out strafing and bombing against hostile tribal forces until November 1926 when it was disbanded.[12]

In early 1927 it was reformed at Tangmere, Sussex as a Home Defence Fighter Squadron, equipped with the Armstrong Whitworth Siskin.[11] After receiving the Hawker Fury Mk.1 in February 1932, the squadron gained a reputation for aerobatics, giving displays throughout the United Kingdom and at the Zurich International Air Meeting in July 1937, where its display impressed but it was clear that it was outclassed by the German Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Dornier Do 17 also displayed at Zurich. The squadron re-equipped with the Hurricane Mk.I in October 1938.[13]

Second World War

On the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 the Squadron was deployed to France as part of the RAF Advanced Air Striking Force. In October it flew over enemy territory for the first time and soon claimed its first victory, shooting down a Dornier Do 17 on 31 October.[14] Further successes were made during the Phoney War, until the Battle of France erupted in May 1940. Within a week the squadron was bombed out of its base at Berry-au-Bac, north-west of Paris. A series of retreats followed, ending only with a return to Tangmere on 23 June. (The autobiographical book Fighter Pilot by Paul Richey, a pilot with 1 Squadron during the Battle of France, is widely regarded as a classic of air warfare literature.)

In August 1940, the squadron entered the Battle of Britain and was heavily engaged until 9 September, when the Squadron was transferred to 12 Group, and was sent to RAF Wittering to refit, rest and recuperate.

It returned to 11 Group in early 1941 and was employed in fighter sweeps and bomber escort duties. In February, it began "Rhubarb" (low-level sweeps over occupied territory) and night flying missions, and was re-equipped with the Hurricane IIA. The Squadron carried out night intruder patrols until July 1942, when it was re-equipped with the Hawker Typhoon fighter-bomber and relocated to RAF Acklington, Northumberland where it reverted to daytime operations.

The Squadron was equipped with the Spitfire IX in April 1944, and in June began anti-V1 patrols, shooting down 39 flying bombs. Later in the year it reverted to bomber escort duties. In May 1945 it converted to the Spitfire Mk.21, but these were only used operationally to cover the landings on the Channel Islands.[15]

Post war

In 1946 the Squadron returned to Tangmere and took delivery of its first jet aircraft, the Gloster Meteor. In October 1948 Major Robin Olds, USAF, under the U.S. Air Force/Royal Air Force exchange program was posted in and flying the Gloster Meteor jet fighter, he eventually served as commander of the Squadron at RAF Station Tangmere, the first non-commonwealth foreigner to command an RAF unit. During his time with 1 Sqn he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

The Squadron was then equipped with the Hawker Hunter F.5, which were flown from RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus during the 1956 Suez Crisis. The squadron disbanded on 23 June 1958. However, on 1 July 1958 the squadron was reformed by re-numbering No. 263 Squadron RAF at RAF Stradishall. It then moved to RAF Waterbeach from where, flying the Hunter FGA.9, it operated in the ground attack role as part of No. 38 Group RAF. The Squadron continued in this role for the next eight years, operating out of Waterbeach and then RAF West Raynham. Flight Lieutenant Alan Pollock of No. 1 Sqn was responsible for the infamous and very unofficial flying display on the 50th anniversary of the RAF in 1968.

The Hawker Harrier

A 1 Sqn. Harrier GR.7 at Aviano Air Base, Italy, in March 2007.

The squadron became the world's first operator of a STOVL aircraft with the arrival of the Hawker Siddeley Harrier in 1969, declared operational the following year. A detachment from No. 1 Squadron was deployed to the British Fleet during the Falklands War, operating from HMS Hermes and flying ground attack missions against Argentine forces.[16][17] It replaced its first generation Harriers with Harrier IIs from 23 November 1988, being declared fully operational on the Harrier GR.5 on 2 November 1989.[18] During the Kosovo war the Squadron flew over 800 sorties as part of NATO's Operation Allied Force.

No. 1 Sqn left the "home of the Harrier" at RAF Wittering for RAF Cottesmore on 28 July 2000. Cottesmore is now home to all operational RAF Harrier squadrons - No. 20 (Reserve) Squadron, the Harrier Operational Conversion Unit remained at Wittering.

Aircraft operated

Year of introduction

Commanding officers

Date appointed Name
13 May 1912 Major E M Maitland
1 May 1914 Major C A H Longcroft (MiD)
28 January 1915 Major W G H Salmond
19 August 1915 Major P B Joubert de la Ferté
24 November 1915 Major G F Pretyman, DSO
24 December 1916 Major G C St P de Dombasle
20 June 1917 Major A Barton-Adams (MiD)
3 August 1918 Major W E Young, DFC
21 January 1920 S/Ldr. J O Andrews, DSO, MC & Bar
18 September 1920 S/Ldr. J B Graham, MC, AFC
10 November 1922 S/Ldr. G G A Williams
8 October 1923 S/Ldr. E O Grenfell, MC, DFC, AFC
25 May 1924 S/Ldr. E D Atkinson, DFC, AFC
19 April 1926 S/Ldr. C.N. Lowe
11 April 1927 S/Ldr. E D Atkinson, MC, DFC, AFC
19 March 1928 S/Ldr. E O Grenfell, MC, DFC, AFC
27 July 1931 S/Ldr. C B S Spackman, DFC & Bar
21 November 1933 S/Ldr. R W Chappell, MC
1 October 1934 S/Ldr. C.W. Hill
31 January 1936 F/Lt. T R McEvoy (acting)
1 December 1936 S/Ldr. C.W. Hill
12 April 1937 S/Ldr. F R D Swain, AFC
15 January 1938 S/Ldr. I A Bertram
17 April 1939 S/Ldr. P J H Halahan, DFC
24 May 1940 S/Ldr. D A Pemberton, DFC
10 November 1940 S/Ldr. M H Brown, DFC
23 April 1941 S/Ldr. R E P Brooker, DFC
3 November 1941 S/Ldr. J A F MacLachlan, DSO, DFC & Bar
31 July 1942 S/Ldr. R C Wilkinson, OBE, DFM & Bar
30 May 1943 S/Ldr. A Zweigbergh
3 April 1944 S/Ldr. J Checketts, DSO, DFC
29 April 1944 S/Ldr. H P Lardner-Burke, DFC & Bar
11 January 1945 S/Ldr. D G S R Cox, DFC & Bar
21 April 1945 S/Ldr. R S Nash, DFC
9 January 1946 S/Ldr. H R Allen, DFC
26 October 1946 S/Ldr. C H MacFie, DFC
Date appointed Name
7 May 1947 F/Lt. N H D Ramsey (acting)
15 July 1947 S/Ldr. T R Burne, DSO, DFC
4 February 1949 Major R Olds USAF
1 October 1949 S/Ldr. T R Burne, DSO, DFC
10 January 1950 Major D F Smith USAF
18 August 1950 S/Ldr. J L W Ellacombe, DFC & Bar
21 November 1952 S/Ldr. R B Morison, DFC
27 July 1953 S/Ldr. D I Smith
1 December 1953 S/Ldr. F W Lister, DSO, DFC
1 June 1955 F/Lt. H Irving (acting)
8 August 1956 S/Ldr. R S Kingsford
5 July 1958 S/Ldr. L de Garis, AFC
1 December 1958 S/Ldr. J J Phipps
1 January 1961 S/Ldr. P V Pledger
1 January 1963 S/Ldr. F L Travers-Smith
28 December 1964 S/Ldr. D C G Brook
1 November 1966 S/Ldr. G. Jones
20 September 1968 S/Ldr. L A B Baker
10 April 1969 W/Cdr. J A Mansell
21 May 1969 S/Ldr. L A B Baker
4 August 1969 W/Cdr. D Allison
1 January 1970 W/Cdr. K W Hayr, AFC
6 January 1972 W/Cdr. E J E Smith, OBE
3 December 1973 W/Cdr. P P W Taylor, AFC
9 July 1976 W/Cdr. J G Saye
17 July 1978 W/Cdr. R B Duckett, AFC
26 March 1981 W/Cdr. P T Squire, DFC, AFC
23 December 1983 W/Cdr. J D L Feesey, AFC
13 June 1986 W/Cdr. I M Stewart
3 October 1988 W/Cdr. I R Harvey MBE, BSc
17 May 1991 W/Cdr. C C N Burwell, MBE
29 April 1994 W/Cdr. D Walker, AFC, BSc
18 March 1996 W/Cdr. M A leakey, BSc
26 November 1997 S/Ldr. I Cameron (acting)
9 January 1998 W/Cdr. A Golledge, DSO, BSc
26 October 1999 W/Cdr. S M Bell, BSc


  • List incomplete



  1. ^ Bowyer & Rawlings 1979, p. 11.
  2. ^ Flintham & Thomas 2003, p. 51.
  3. ^ Bowyer & Rawlings 1979, p. 59.
  4. ^ Flintham & Thomas 2003, p. 81.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Ash, Eric (1998). Sir Frederick Sykes and the air revolution, 1912-1918. Routledge. p. 39. ISBN 0714643823.  
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Halley 1971, p.10.
  10. ^ Halley 1971, p.12.
  11. ^ a b Halley 1971, p.15.
  12. ^ Halley 1971, pp.12-15.
  13. ^ Halley 1971, p.16.
  14. ^ Halley 1971, p.20.
  15. ^ RAF - 1 Squadron
  16. ^ Ashworth 1989, p.26.
  17. ^ Evans 1998, pp. 74-75.
  18. ^ Evans 1998, p.123.
  19. ^ Halley 1971, p. 28.
  20. ^ Shaw 1971, pp.245-246.
  21. ^ Shaw 1986, p. 188.
  22. ^ Franks and O'Connor 2000, p. 244.


  • Ashworth, Chris. Encyclopedia of Modern Royal Air Force Squadrons. Wellingborough, UK:PSL, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-013-6.
  • Bowyer, Michael J.F and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937-56. Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Evans, Andy. BAE/McDonnell Douglas Harrier. Malborough, Wiltshire, UK: The Crowood Press, 1998. ISBN 1-86126-105-5.
  • Flintham, Vic and Andrew Thomas. Combat Codes: A Full Explanation and Listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied Air Force Unit Codes Since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlif Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
  • Franks, Norman and Mike O'Connor. Number One in War and Peace: The History of No. 1 Squadron, 1912 - 2000. London: Grub Street, 2000. ISBN 1-90230-455-1.
  • Halley, James J. Famous Fighter Squadrons of the RAF: Volume 1. Windsor, UK: Hylton Lacey, 1971. ISBN 0-85064-100-4.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918-1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE,BA,RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing, 1998 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1969 (new edition 1976, reprinted 1978). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.
  • Shaw, Michael. No. 1 Squadron. Shepperton, Surrey, UK: Ian Allan Ltd., 1986. ISBN 0-71101-581-3.
  • Shaw, Michael. Twice Vertical: The History of No. 1 Squadron Royal Air Force. London: Macdonald & Company Ltd, 1971. ISBN 0-35603-799-1.

External links


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