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No. 115 Squadron RAF
Official squadron crest for no. 115 Squadron RAF
Active 1 Dec 1917 – 18 Oct 1919
5 Jun 1937 – 1 Mar 1950
13 Jun 1950 – 1 Jun 1957
21 Aug 1958 – 1 Oct 1993
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Motto(s) Despite the elements
Decorations 142 DFC and 2 Bars to DFC, 68 DFM, 6 BEM, 4 DSO, 4 MBE, 3 AFC, 2 AFM and 1 Bar to AFM plus 1 CGM.[1]
Battle honours Independent Force & Germany, 1918*;
Channel & North Sea, 1939–1943*;
Norway, 1940*;
France & Low Countries;
German Ports, 1940–1945*;
Rhur, 1940–1945*;
Fortress Europe, 1940–1945*;
Invasion Ports, 1940;
Berlin, 1940–1945*;
Biscay Ports, 1940–1943;
Baltic, 1943;
Normandy, 1944*;
France & Germany, 1944–1945;
Honours marked with an asterisk* are those emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
Squadron Badge heraldry A dexter hand erased at the wrist holding a tiller.
This unit laid great stress on the importance of navigation and the hand on the tiller is taken to be symbolic of this.[2]
Squadron Codes BK (Apr 1939 – Sep 1939)
KO (Sep 1939 – Mar 1950, Jun 1950 – Apr 1951)
A4 Nov 1943 – Oct 1944 (only used by 'C' Flt)
IL Nov 1944 – Aug 1945

No. 115 Squadron RAF was a Royal Air Force squadron during World War I. It was then equipped with Handley Page O/400 heavy bombers. During World War II the squadron served as a bomber squadron and after the war it flew in a similar role till 1958, when it was engaged as a radio calibration unit. The squadron disbanded for the last time as an operational unit in 1993, but reformed in 2008 at RAF Cranwell as 115(R) Squadron, part of 22 Group, operating the Grob Tutor.


Formation and World War I

Handley Page O/400 as used by 115 Squadron

No. 115 Squadron, RFC, was formed at Catterick, Yorkshire, on 1 December 1917 from a nucleus provided by No. 52 Training Squadron.[3] At the end of August 1918, after having been equipped with Handley Page O/400 twin-engined bombers, it joined the Independent Force in France. Its first raid was made in the night of 16/17 September when nearly 4 tons of bombs were dropped on Metz-Sablon. For this raid the squadron was congratulated by Major-General Sir Hugh Trenchard and the OC 83rd Wing described the raid as "the finest piece of work which has ever been done by a new squadron". Its most successful raid was made against Morhange airfield when five O/400s, making double trips, dropped 6½ tons of bombs on their objective. During its service in France, No. 115 made fifteen raids, the longest being to Baden and dropped 26 tons of bombs.[4] From November 1918, 115 Squadron was based at RAF Saint Inglevert.[5] The squadron returned to England on 4 March 1919 and disbanded on 18 October 1919 at Ford Junction.[4]


Harrow of No. 115 Squadron RAF

The squadron was reformed from "B" Flight of No. 38 Squadron RAFat RAF Marham, as No. 115 (Bomber) Squadron on 5 June 1937.[6] It was now one of only two units to operate -temporary- the Fairey Hendon monoplane bomber, but these were soon replaced by their intended equipment, the Handley Page Harrow. As these proved unsuited in the bomber role they were replaced from March 1939 with Wellingtons.

World War II

Engine testing on a Lancaster B Mark II of 115 Squadron at RAF East Wretham, 1943

Crewmembers inspect tail of 115 Squadron Lancaster Mark II which had its rear turret sheared off by bombs dropped from above during a raid on Cologne, June 1943

In the Second World War the squadron took part in scores of raids and also played an active part in Gardening (minelaying) for victory. In April 1940, while flying Wellingtons (and while on temporary loan to RAF Coastal Command) it gained the distinction of making the RAF's first bombing raid of the war on a mainland target-the enemy-held Norwegian airfield of Stavanger Airport, Sola. Sixteen months later, in August 1941, it undertook the initial Service trials of Gee, the first of the great radar navigational and bombing aids. As a result of its subsequent report on these trials Gee was put into large-scale production for RAF Bomber Command. Hercules engined Lancaster IIs replaced the Wellingtons in March 1943 and these were replaced by Merlin engined Lancaster Is and IIIs in March 1944. Around this time the squadron relocated from RAF Little Snoring to RAF Witchford. The squadron was retained as part of the post-war RAF and received Lincolns in September 1949. The squadron was linked to No. 218 Squadron RAF from 1 February 1949 until 1 March 1950, when the squadron was disbanded at RAF Mildenhall. By the end of the war, it had the distinction of being the squadron with the most operational service, most losses by any one single unit and the most tonnage of explosives dropped.

Post war

The squadron was reformed on 13 June 1950, it became a Boeing Washington unit at RAF Marham, again having No. 218 Squadron linked to it. Canberras replaced the Washingtons in February 1954 and continued in use until disbanding on 1 June 1957.


The squadron came back on 21 August 1958, when No. 116 Squadron RAF at RAF Tangmere was renumbered. It was now a Radar Calibration unit operating Varsities, Valettas and briefly the Handley Page Hastings. Argosies began arriving in February 1968 and when the last Varsity was retired in August 1970, the unit was solely equipped with this type. 115 moved to RAF Cottesmore in 1968 (or possibly earlier). The Squadron moved to RAF Brize Norton in 1976. Andovers were added to the strength there in November 1976 and the last Argosy left in January 1978. In 1982, No. 115 Squadron was moved to RAF Benson,[7] the Andovers continuing until disbanding there on 1 October 1993,[8] the squadron's role being subsequently subcontracted to private contractors.

Flying training

The squadron was reformed in 2008 at RAF Cranwell as part of the reorganisation of the RAF's elementary flying training units, including the withdrawal of RAF students from the Defence Elementary Flying Training School at nearby RAF Barkston Heath. While three other dormant squadrons, 16, 57 and 85, were reinstated to carry out ab initio elementary flying training, 115(R) Squadron was given the task of the Central Flying School (Elementary) Squadron of conducting the flying stages of the training of new Qualified Flying Instructors (QFIs). There are two courses run at the Squadron; for new instructors, the 'Main Course' includes 3 weeks of ground school and 80 flying hours, taking approximately 6 months in all. The 'Refresher Course', for previously qualified instructors of any background who have either spent time away from instructional duties or are changing the type of aircraft they instruct on, is 2 months long with 40 flying hours. The majority of graduates of the CFS courses will then work on one of the RAF EFT Squadrons, the University Air Squadrons or with the Army and Navy EFT Squadrons (674 Squadron Army Air Corps and 703 Naval Air Squadron respectively) at RAF Barkston Heath.[9]

Aircraft operated

From To Aircraft Variant Remark
Jul 1918 Mar 1919 Handley Page Type O O/400
Jun 1937 Aug 1937 Fairey Hendon Mk.II (on loan from No. 38 Squadron RAF)[2]
Jun 1937 Sep 1939 Handley Page Harrow Mk.II
Apr 1939 Nov 1939 Vickers Wellington Mk.I
Sep 1939 Aug 1940 Vickers Wellington Mk.Ia
Apr 1940 Mar 1942 Vickers Wellington Mk.Ic
Nov 1941 Mar 1943 Vickers Wellington Mk.III
Mar 1943 May 1944 Avro Lancaster Mk.II
Mar 1944 Nov 1949 Avro Lancaster Mks.I, III
Sep 1949 Mar 1950 Avro Lincoln B.2
Aug 1950 Feb 1954 Boeing Washington B.1
Feb 1954 Jun 1957 English Electric Canberra B.2
Aug 1958 Aug 1970 Vickers Varsity T.1
Oct 1963 May 1964 Vickers Valetta C.1
Jan 1967 Jan 1969 Handley Page Hastings C.2
Feb 1968 Jan 1978 Armstrong Whitworth Argosy E.1
Nov 1976 Oct 1993 Hawker Siddeley Andover C.1, E.3
2008 Grob Tutor T.1




  1. Collins and Halladay 1982, p. 35.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Moyes 1976, p. 161. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Moyes1976" defined multiple times with different content
  3. Air of Authority
  4. 4.0 4.1 Collins and Halladay 1982, p. 3.
  5. "Saint-Inglevert" (in French). Old Anciens Aerodromes. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  6. Collins and Halladay 1982, p. 5.
  7., accessed March 2009
  8., accessed March 2009
  9., accessed June 2012
  10. Halley 1988, p. 192.
  11. Jefford 2001, p. 60.


  • Collins, Dick and Jim Halladay. Despite the Elements: The History of Number 115 Squadron, 1917–1982. Brize Norton, UK: Nettlebed Press, 1983.
  • 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, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 2nd edition 1976. ISBN 0-354-01027-1.
  • 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.

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