Squadron Histories

No. 402 "City of Winnipeg" Squadron

Currently 402 Squadron operates the CT-142 Dash 8s, affectionately nicknamed "Gonzo" using these aircraft in air navigation training role. However "402 Squadron" has its roots in the early 1930's and throughout its history has distiguished itself in a number of capacities. Learn more by following these links.

No. 405 Squadron

No.   405,   THE   FIRST   BOMBER   SQUADRON   of   the R.C.A.F. overseas, was formed at Driffield, Yorkshire, on 2 April 1941, and equipped with Wellington II aircraft.  The unit carried out its first operation (an attack on the marshalling yards at Schwerte) on the night of 12 June 1941 and from then to the end of the war in Europe it was actively employed on offensive operations over land and sea, participating in most of Bomber Command's heaviest and most telling assaults on targets in Germany, the occupied countries, and northern Italy.

No. 409 "Nighthawk" Squadron

MIDNIGHT IS STILL NOON FOR NIGHTHAWKS - by FLIGHT LIEUTENANT F. J. HATCH RCAF Air Historical SectionNo. 409 squadron, formed at Digby, Lincs., on 17 June 1941, was the second of three Canadian night fighter units organized overseas that year (No. 406 came into existence on 10 May and No. 410 on the last day of June). No. 409 adopted the nick­name "Nighthawk" and took as its motto the Latin expression media nox meridies noster (Midnight is our Noon). The squadron's badge depicts a crossbow against the background of a black cloak symbolizing its oper­ations of fighting at night.

No. 410 Squadron June 1941 - June 1945

No. 410 (Cougar) Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force has the distinction of being the top-scoring night fighter unit in the Second Tactical Air Force in the period between D-Day and VE-Day.  Its record book shows 78. ¾ enemy aircraft des­troyed, two probably destroyed and eight damaged, of these 85 victories, 60 were won in the 11-month period between June 1944 and the end of April 1945.

No. 411 "Grizzly Bear" SQUADRON

FROM DIGBY TO DOWNSVIEW - By FLYING OFFICER L. R. N. ASHLEY AND FLIGHT CADET G. TATE, Air Historical Section Formed as a fighter unit in England in 1941, No. 411 (Grizzly Bear) Squadron today is the Toronto-based County of York auxiliary squadron.Of the eleven RCAF day-fighter squadrons that served overseas in the Western European and Medi­terranean theatres in the Second World War, five were formed in the United Kingdom during 1941 under the terms of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. One of these units was No. 411 Squadron, which bore the badge of the "Grizzly Bear" with the motto Inimicus Inimico (Hostile to an Enemy).

No. 412 "Flying Falcon" Squadron

The No. 12 "Flying Falcon" Squadron has one of the longest and most successful histories of a Canadian fighter squadron in the Second World War . Sixteen D.F.C.s, seven bars to that decoration and four mentions in despatches testified to this unit's outstanding record. Its Spitfires accounted for 106 Luftwaffe aircraft destroyed, 11 more probably destroyed and 46 damaged in combat.

No. 413 "Tusker" Squadron

THE TUSKERS’ TALE - By FLYING OFFICER H. A.  HALLIDAY Air Historical Section(Reference: The Roundel, September 1963, Vol. 15, No. 7)number 413 Squadron was the most widely-travelled, and at one time the most widely-dispersed (with detachments located 5000 miles from the parent unit), of any RCAF squadron during World War II. Its main function, that of maritime reconnaissance, was com­memorated in the motto, "Ad Vigilamus Undis" (We Watch Over the Waves), and its elephant's head emblem won for it the nickname "Tusker."

No. 414 Squadron

While the Second British Army was advancing from the beach-head in Normandy to the shores of the Baltic Sea, its reconnaissance requirements were supplied by No. 39 (R.) Wing, R.C.A.F., in No. 83 Group of Second Tactical Air Force. The three squadrons which comprised this wing during the last months of the war all stemmed from the original Canadian overseas air unit, No. 110 (City of Toronto) Army Co-operation Squadron, which arrived in England in February 1940. No. 110 was later redesignated No. 400 and provided a nucleus from which the second R.C.A.F. Army Co-operation Squadron, No. 414, was formed. Nos. 400 and 414 then supplied nuclei for the creation of the third unit, No. 430.

No. 417 "City of Windsor" Squadron

The story of No. 417 (City of Windsor) Squadron is unique in the annals of the Royal Canadian Air Force. The only Canadian fighter squadron in the Mediterranean theatre during the Second World War, it carried the emblem of the maple leaf from the banks of the Nile to the plains of northern Italy, and, flying with the famed Desert Air Force, it fought in support of the Eighth Army in its campaigns from Tunisia to Venetia. The squadron badge, a sword and fasces crossed in front of a palm tree, graphically summarizes its career, "supporting liberty and justice" from Egypt to Italy.

No. 418 Squadron

INTRUDER - BY SQUADRON LEADER A. P. HEATHCOTE Air Historical  BranchIt is one of perhaps a thousand nights on which Bomber Command operated during the Second World War. The vanguard of a bomber stream bound for an industrial centre in the heart of Germany crosses the Dutch coast. Air gunners scan the darkness for signs of an enemy who, sooner or later, is bound to be there.

No. 419 "Moose" Squadron

BEWARE OF THE MOOSE - No. 419 Squadron Operated Continuously in Bomber Command For More Than Three Years.

423 Squadron

One of the units, which added to the counter-punch against the U-boat, was No. 423 Squadron, the first R.C.A.F. Sunderland squadron to come into existence in the United Kingdom. Ordered to form on 18 May 1942, it went into action eleven weeks later, and from then on, for nearly three years, was to scan the Atlantic from Reykjavik to Gibraltar. Its first haven was at Oban, Argyll, on the west coast of Scotland, and its parent formation was No. 15 Group, of Coastal Command.

No. 425 "Alouette" Squadron

(Reference: The Roundel, Vol. 9, No. 4, May 1957)

BY FLIGHT LIEUTENANT A. P. HEATHCOTE, Air Historical Branch.

THE ALOUETTES - As April 1943 neared its end, the Alouettes concentrated on prepara­tions for a move to another theatre of war. Over Duisburg on 26 April they had bidden adieu to the Reich for a period of nearly eight months. Now they were to operate against one of the junior Axis partners, Italy, and that meant their whole­sale transfer to North Africa. Their preparations for the move involved, among other things, outfitting with tropical kit and, in a flying way, acceptance-tests of 20 Wellingtons Mark X (Tropical). After a short embarkation leave, a ground party consisting of five officers and 312 airmen entrained at Thirsk station on the first leg of the long trip to the Middle East. Not included in the draft were No. 425's original flight commanders, Squadron Lead­ers Georges Roy, D.F.C., and Logan Savard, both of whom had recently been posted, the former to No. 424 (Tiger) Squadron, the latter to No. 429 (Bison) Squadron. Savard was lost during a raid on Mulheim in June (Wellington HZ312), three weeks after taking com­mand of the Bisons. Roy eventually took over the Tigers. He became a prisoner-of-war after being brought down during a raid on Bochum in October 1944.

No. 430 Squadron

No. 430 Squadron was formed on New Year's Day of 1943 at Hartford Bridge, a satellite of R.A.F. Station Odiham. The first commanding officer of the new unit was Wing Cdr. E. H. G. Moncrieff, A.F.C., who had recently come overseas after a long period of service as chief flying instruc­tor and C.O. at No. 12 S.F.T.S. (Brandon, Man.) where his outstanding work had been recognized by the award of his decoration. Nos. 400 and 414 Squadrons provided a nucleus of experienced personnel for the new squadron, which soon reached a strength of 16 pilots (all officers) and 240 ground staff, including a small army liaison section.

No. 433 "Porcupine" Squadron

On september 25th, 1943, No. 433 (Porcupine) Squadron officially came into being. Though it was one of the later R.C.A.F. heavy bomber squadrons to be formed, this unit was to compile a highly respectable record with regard to bomb-tonnage dropped, operational sorties flown, and individual heroism displayed.

No. 434 "Bluenose" Squadron

Of all the R.C.A.F. squadrons which served at home and overseas during the Second World War, few had a sterner introduction to the meaning of the word "ardua" in the motto of the Royal Air Forces than did No. 434 "Bluenose" Squadron. It was engaged on operations with No. 6 (R.C.A.F.) Group of Bomber Command for a period of just over 20 months, from 12 August 1943 to 25 April 1945, and in that time it lost 484 officers and airmen killed or missing on sorties against the enemy.

No. 436 "Flying Elephant" Squadron

THE FLYING ELEPHANTS - By SQUADRON  LEADER A. P.  HEATHCOTE Air Historical Section Summer, 1944. As the invasion of Normandy neared its climax, some 6000 miles to the south-east another Allied offensive was under way. With the coincidence of time, however, any similarity between the two ended. Granted, "Overlord" involved supply problems of staggering magni­tude and complexity; but by com­parison, the campaign to kick the Japanese out of India and Burma constituted nothing less than a logis­tical and geopolitical nightmare.

No. 438 Squadron

The history of No. 438 Squadron dates back to 1 September 1934, when the formation of No. 18 Bomber (Non-Permanent) Squadron at Montreal was authorised. It was not until the spring of 1936, however, that the unit was actually formed at St. Hubert under Sqn. Ldr. W. Dubuc, and arrangements were made to recruit and train personnel. Late in 1937 the squadron was re­numbered 118, and two years later, after war had broken out, it moved to Halifax for training and operation as a Coast Artillery Co-Operation unit, using Atlas and Lysander aircraft. In August 1940, No. 118 was redesignated a fighter squadron but the actual transition did not occur until 1st December, when "A" Flight formed at Rockcliffe with Goblin two-seater fighters.

No. 443 "Hornet" Squadron

The war history of No. 443 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force covers a period of almost four years. It began at Dartmouth, N.S., in the last days of June 1942 and ended at Uetersen, Germany, in March 1946.

NO. 3 (NAVAL) WING

BRITAIN'S FIRST STRATEGIC BOMBING FORCE - By Mr. R. V. DODDS Air Historical Section(Reference: The Roundel, July-August 1963, Vol. 15, No. 6)The famed No. 6 (RCAF) Group, which played such a vital strategic bombing role during World War II, (* ROUNDEL, Apr. '63.) was not the first Canadian bomber force. More than a quarter-century previously a long-range bomber formation, most of whose pilots were Canadian, was attacking German industrial targets.

No. 6 BOMBER GROUP

No. 6 BOMBER GROUP - By FLYING OFFICER  H. A.  HALLIDAY Air  Historical  Section"We in Bomber Command have always regarded our Canadian Group and Canadian crews outside the Group as among the very best."Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris, KCB, QBE, AFC.(Reference: Roundel, April 1963, Vol. 15, No. 3)

Thousands of Canadians who served in the RCAF during World War II remember with nostalgic pride No. 6 Bomber Group, the largest RCAF formation overseas. Hundreds of currently-serving of­ficers and men fought with the group, and many of them later rose to very senior positions. Among these are Air Chief Marshal F. R. Miller and Air Marshals C. R. Slemon and C. R. Dunlap, now chairman of the chiefs of staff, NORAD deputy commander, and chief of the air staff, respectively. So highly regarded did the group become that the Royal Air Force reserved the designation "No. 6 Group" for Canada, should another, similar organization ever be established.

THE ALEUTIAN CAMPAIGN

The Aleutian Campaign of 1942-43 marks the first time that units of the RCAF served under American operational command. This alone would make it worthy of our atten­tion but there are, of course, other reasons for taking a backward glance at this rather obscure cam­paign which was conducted in an obscure part of the world.

War on the Front Doorstep (The threat of U-Boat Attack)

During the two World Wars the attention of the Canadian public was generally focussed on the major battles that raged far from home. However, it should not be forgotten that during World War II a serious enemy threat developed on Canada's doorstep in the form of German U-boats. The Canadian Home War Establishment was deeply involved in the Battle of the Atlantic, with the brunt of the fighting in Canadian waters being borne by the Royal Canadian Navy and the RCAF's Eastern Air Command.