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No. 203 Squadron RAF
Active 1 April 1918 - 31 December 1977
October 1996 - present
Country United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
Motto Occidens oriensque
Latin: "West and east"

No. 203 Squadron RAF was originally formed as No. 3 Squadron Royal Naval Air Service. It was renumbered No. 203 when the Royal Air Force was formed on 1 April 1918.


First World War

The squadron served as a fighter squadron on the Western Front, and was equipped with the Sopwith Pup followed later by the Sopwith Camel. In 1920 the squadron disbanded.

In 1929 the squadron reformed as a reconnaissance squadron operating Supermarine Southampton flying boats.

Second World War

Shortly before the start of the war the squadron was re-equipped with Short Singapore IIIs[1] and in 1940 with Bristol Blenheims. The squadron flew patrols over the Red Sea and Mediterranean from Basra, and in 1942 the squadron re-equipped with Martin Baltimore aircraft. In 1943 the squadron was posted to India and was re-equipped with Vickers Wellingtons to fly coastal patrols. The squadron converted to Consolidated Liberator aircraft in November 1944 and began anti-shipping patrols over the Bay of Bengal.

Post war

The squadron returned to the UK in 1947 and re-equipped with Avro Lancasters. In July 1954, the squadron was flying Neptune MR.2s from RAF Topcliffe, along with No.s No. 36 and No. 210 Squadrons as part of No. 19 Group, RAF Coastal Command.[2] The squadron remained a Maritime Reconnaissance squadron for the remainder of its existence operating Avro Shackletons and then Nimrods. The squadron disbanded on 31 December 1977 at RAF Luqa in Malta, by which time it was part of No. 18 Group within RAF Strike Command.[3]

The Squadron was reformed in October 1996, when the Sea King Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) at RAF St Mawgan in Cornwall was redesignated 203(R) Squadron as a reserve unit. In 2008, 203(R) Squadron relocated to RAF Valley in Anglesey, maintaining its role as the Sea King OCU and operating the Sea King HAR Mk 3.


  1. ^ WWII aircraft of No. 203 Squadron RAF
  2. ^ Rawlings et al, 1984, p.219
  3. ^ John D. Rawlings, 'The History of the Royal Air Force,' Temple Press Aerospace, 1984, p.206-207


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