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Updated: 14 Feb 05

A number of front line squadrons of the Royal Flying Corps were formed in and operated from Saint-Omer in France. The first RFC personnel and aircraft arrived in October 1914. For the rest of the Great War St Omer served as a repair depot and major aerodrome as well as headquartering RFC Headquarters.

At the outbreak of the Great War the RFC had four aircraft-equipped sqns, 2 Sqn, 3 Sqn, 4 Sqn and 5 Sqn; all but 5 Sqn flew from Dover to join the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France on 13 Aug 1914. 5 Sqn joined a few days later.

After flying initial recce flights and acting as observers over the Battle of Mons on 23 Aug 1914 the RFC joined the Race to the Sea as the French and the BEF sprinted west to prevent the German army outflanking them. This was the background which led to the establishment of the HQ RFC at St Omer on 8 Oct 1914.

The 4 initially deployed RFC Sqns arrive within a few days and St Omer was to act as a focal point and transit camp for the RFC for the following four years. Amongst the squadrons which formed here were 9 Sqn and 16 Sqn. More than 50 squadrons operated from Saint-Omer during the war. Of Lincolnshire-related sqns these included 8 Sqn (From Apr 1915), 10 Sqn (from Jul 1915), 25 Sqn (Feb - Apr 1916), 56(R) Sqn (Apr 1917-??) At the formation of the RAF on 1 Apr 1918 there were more than 4 000 personnel stationed here.

A St Omer memorial to the British Air Forces was unveiled on 11 Sep 04. A full account is on the 3(F) Sqn Association website :: click here


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