Squadron Royal Air Force
Per Noctem Volamus - 'Throughout the night we fly'
> Units and Formations
Formed: 8 Dec 1914, St Omer
Disbanded: Mar 1915
Reformed: Apr 1915
Reformed: 1 Apr 1924
Disbanded: Apr 1982
Reformed: Aug 1982
Sqn Code: WS
Squadron was based at:
Saint Omer :: 1914 -
RAF Upavon :: 1924 -
RAF Scampton :: Oct 1936 -
RAF Manston :: - 1939
RAF Honington :: 1939 - Sep 1942
RAF Waddington :: Sep 1942 - Apr 1943
RAF Bardney :: 14 Apr 1943 - Jul 1945
RAF Waddington :: Jul 1945 - Jan 1946
Salbani :: Jan 1946 - Apr 1946
RAF Binbrook :: Apr 1946 -
RAF Cottesmore :: 1964 - 1969
RAF Aktrotiri :: 1969 - 1975
RAF Waddington :: 1975 - Apr 1982
RAF Honington :: Aug 1982 - 1986
RAF Bruggen :: 1986 - 17 Jul 2001
RAF Marham :: Jul 2001 -
BE2C :: Mar 1915 -
RE8 :: - 1919
Vickers Vimy :: 1924 - 1925
Virginia :: Jan 1925 - 1936
Heyford :: 1936 - 1939
Wellington :: 1939 - 1942
Lancaster Mk I, Mk III, Mk VII :: Aug 1942 - Jul 1946
Lincoln :: Jul 1946 - 1952
Canberra :: 1952 - 1959
Vulcan B2 :: 1962 - Apr 1982
Tornado GR1 :: Jun 1982 - 1999
Tornado GR4 :: 1999 -
9 Sqn was formed at St Omer in France by then Capt Hugh Dowding on 8 Dec 1914 by renaming the Wireless Flight of RFC Headquarters (part of 4 Sqn RFC). A core RFC duty in the early stages of the Great War was to help range artillery onto its targets. Klaxons and Semaphore were impractical amidst the noise and smoke of the battlefield and finally the airborne wireless was proposed as a solution. Thus the flight of 4 Sqn was increased and reformed at St Omer as 9 Squadron RFC.
The Sqn disbanded in Mar 1915, being absorbed into other RFC Squadrons. In Apr 1915 it reformed at Brooklands committing to France with BE2C and subsequently RE8 on reconnaissance duties. After participating in the occupation of Germany it disbanded in 1919.
9 Sqn reformed on 1 Apr 1924 at RAF Upavon with the Vickers Vimy night bomber, moving to RAF Manston. In Jan 1925 it began to re-equip to the Virginia, then the Heyford in 1936. 148 Sqn was reformed in Jun 1937 at RAF Scampton from C Flt of 9 Sqn.
In Feb 1939 9 Sqn moved to RAF Honington, equipped with the Wellington and employed this type in anti-shipping sorties in the early stages of World War II. In Sep 1942 the Sqn operated Lancaster bomber and became part of Bomber Command’s strategic offensive against German targets from RAF Waddington.
Re-basing at RAF Bardney, 9 Sqn specialised in dropping large bombs, most notably the the 12 000 lb Tallboy. During 1944 9 Sqn had been in the lead in an earlier bombing development, as only one of two sqns to operate with the 12 000 lb Tallboy bomb. Successful targets with the Tallboy included the Dortmund-Ems canal bridges in Jan 1945 and the Tirpitz in 1944.
9 Squadron’s Wellington aircraft and crews were the first to hit the enemy, the first to get into a dogfight, the first to shoot down an enemy aircraft, the first to be shot down by one and, towards the end of the war, the first to hit the battleship Tirpitz with the Tallboy 12,000 pound bomb - an achievement by the crew of a Lancaster on her 102nd Op with the squadron - find out more in 9 Sqn books.
9 Sqn was equipped with the Lancaster, Avro Lincoln and Canberra before disbanding in 1959. It was involved in both Malaya and Suez during 1956 with the Canberra.
On reforming in Mar 1962 it was equipped with the Vulcan B2, which it manned until Apr 1982. After a two month disbandment it reformed to be the first RAF Sqn operating the new Tornado GR1. In 1991 it dropped JP 233 and 1000 lb bombs during the Gulf War. It followed previous RAF operational firsts by becoming the first front-line GR4 squadron in 1999.
During Lancaster ops from RAF Bardney, 9 Sqn had lost 85 of the type. The Sqn is commemorated in the RAF Bardney memorial.
Photos of 9 Sqn memorial at RAF Bardney
9 Sqn history on RAF Website
A navigator's story on 97 Sqn website (also on 9 Sqn)
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