No. 45 Squadron RAF

45 Squadron is a flying squadron of the Royal Air Force. The squadron, which was established on 1 March 1916 as part of the Royal Flying Corps, currently provides flying training using Embraer Phenom 100s and operates under the command of No. 3 Flying Training School.

No. 45 Squadron RAF
  • 1 Mar 1916 – 1919
  • 1 Apr 1921 – Jan 1970
  • 1972 – present
Country United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
TypeFlying squadron
RoleMulti-engine pilot and weapons systems operator training
Part ofNo. 3 Flying Training School
Home stationRAF Cranwell
Nickname(s)'Flying Camels'
Motto(s)Per ardua surgo
(Latin for Through difficulties I arise)[1]
AircraftBeechcraft King Air B200
Battle honours * Honours marked with an asterix are those emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
Squadron badge heraldryA winged camel, commemorating the Sopwith Camel used for a large part of the First World War, and the squadron's long association with the Middle East. Approved by King Edward VIII in October 1936.


First World War

Formed during World War I at Gosport on 1 March 1916 as Number 45 Squadron, the unit was first equipped with Sopwith 1½ Strutters which it was to fly in the Scout role. Deployed to France in October of that year, the Squadron found itself suffering heavy losses due to the quality of its aircraft. This did not change until it transitioned to the Sopwith Camel in July 1917. Transferred to the Austro-Italian front at the end of 1917, 45 Squadron there engaged in ground attack and offensive patrols until September 1918 when it returned to France and joined the Independent Force.[2]

During the course of the war, some thirty flying aces had served in the squadron's ranks. They included future Air Vice-Marshal Matthew Frew, Cedric Howell, Geoffrey Hornblower Cock, future Air Commodore Raymond Brownell, John C. B. Firth, Kenneth Barbour Montgomery, Mansell Richard James, Norman Macmillan, Peter Carpenter, Richard Jeffries Dawes, Norman Cyril Jones, Ernest Masters, Henry Moody, Thomas F. Williams, William Wright, James Dewhirst, James Belgrave, Edward Clarke, Alfred Haines, Thomas M. Harries, Alan Rice-Oxley, Earl Hand, Sir Arthur Harris, 1st Baronet, Charles Gray Catto, John Pinder,[3] and future Group Captain Sidney Cottle.[4]

Inter-war period

The squadron returned to England in February 1919 and disbanded in December 1919. In April 1921 it reformed at Helwan, Egypt. Assigned Vickers Vernon bomber-transports, the unit provided troop transportation and ground support and mail services throughout the Middle East, notably in support of anti-rebel operations in Iraq and the Palestine. The unit transitioned to DH9As in 1927,to Fairey IIIs in 1929 and to Fairey Gordons in 1935. At some point the unit adopted the nickname "The Flying Camels". The Squadron Badge is a winged camel, approved by King Edward VIII in October 1936. The badge and nickname derive from the Sopwith used by the unit in World War I and its long service in the Middle East.[5]

Second World War

At the start of World War II, 45 Squadron converted to Bristol Blenheims. From mid-1940 it took part in the North African Campaign and on 11 June, was one of three squadrons that participated in the Allies' first attack on the Regia Aeronautica (Italian air force) base at El Adem: 18 Italian aircraft were destroyed or damaged on the ground, for the loss of three British aircraft.[6] The following day, the squadron participated in an attack on shipping at Tobruk, damaging the Italian cruiser San Giorgio.[7]

During late 1940 the squadron supported Allied ground forces in the East African Campaign, while based at Gura, in Eritrea. During its time at Gura, the squadron suffered losses – on 2 October two Blenheims were shot down by an Italian ace, sergeant-major Luigi "Gino" Baron; among the aircrew killed was 45 Squadron's CO, Sqn Ldr John Dallamore.[8] His successor was acting Sqn Ldr Patrick Troughton-Smith.[9]

After returning to North Africa, the squadron operated against Italian and German forces in Libya, Egypt and on the Mediterranean. From mid-1942 the unit was deployed to Burma and India, for service against the Japanese. Three aircraft from the Squadron participated in the first Allied bombing raid against Bangkok.[10]

Malayan Emergency

After the Second World War, 45 Squadron served in the Malayan Emergency, flying out of RAF Station Tengah on the island of Singapore. There the unit engaged in ground attack operations against Communist Terrorists (CTs) engaged in a Chinese backed insurgency. Dubbed Operation Firedog, these operations lasted for 12 years until the successful conclusion of the war. The unit also engaged in operations to quell unrest on the Sarawak coast in British North Borneo during this time period. While operating in Malaya the unit initially flew Bristol Beaufighters.[11] From 1955 the squadron was based at RAF Butterworth in Malaya flying de Havilland Venoms under the command of Squadron Leader Geoffrey Cooper.[12]

1960s to 1980s

After re-equipping with Canberra B.15s in 1962, the squadron became involved in the Brunei Revolution and the subsequent Confrontation with Indonesia until its resolution in 1966. The squadron disbanded in February 1970 after the UK's withdrawal from East of Suez.[2]

On 1 August 1972, the squadron was reformed at RAF West Raynham, equipped with Hawker Hunter FGA.9s, as a ground-attack training unit. The squadron disbanded in July 1976 at RAF Wittering after this role was taken over by the Tactical Weapons Unit.[2]

In January 1984, the squadron number, as No. 45 (Reserve) Squadron, was assigned to the Tornado Weapons Conversion Unit (TWCU) at RAF Honington. As a 'Shadow Squadron' or war reserve, the squadron's war role was as a fully operational unit composed mainly of instructors, and assigned strike and other duties by SACEUR in support of land forces on the Continent resisting a Soviet assault on Western Europe, by striking at targets assigned by SACEUR, beyond the forward edge of the battlefield, deep within enemy-held areas, first with conventional weapons and later with tactical nuclear weapons if a conflict escalated to that level. The squadron's twenty-six Tornado aircraft were allocated thirty-nine WE.177 nuclear bombs.[13]

On 1 April 1992 the unit was disbanded and TWCU title dropped, with its aircraft and personnel becoming No. 15 (Reserve) Squadron, whilst maintaining the same training role.[14]

1992 onwards

In July 1992, the No. 45(R) Squadron identity was resurrected and adopted by the Multi-Engined Training Squadron (METS) at No. 6 FTS, RAF Finningley. The new 45(R) Squadron moved to RAF Cranwell in October 1995, and in 2003, replaced its BAe Jetstream T.1s with Beechcraft B200 King Airs serviced by Serco. In 2018 the squadron converted to Embraer Phenom 100s.[15]

Commanding officers

1 March 1916 to 31 December 1919

  • 20 to 27 March 1916 Captain C E Ryan
  • 27 March to 24 April 1916 Major L A Strange
  • 24 April 1916 to 24 April 1917 Major W R Read
  • 24 April to 18 August 1917 Major H P Van Ryneveld
  • 18 to 24 August 1917 Captain A T Harris (acting)[16]
  • 24 August 1917 to 16 July 1918 Major A M Vaucour (killed in action on 16 July 1918)
  • 16 to 23 July 1918 Captain R J Dawes
  • 23 to 28 July 1918 Captain N C Jones
  • 28 July to 21 October 1918 Captain J A Crook
  • 21 October 1918 to 3 February 1919 Major A M Miller
  • 3 February to 26 September 1919 Captain J W Pinder
  • List incomplete

1 April 1921 to 18 February 1970

  • List incomplete
  • 1 November to 20 November 1922 Squadron Leader T F Hazell[17]
  • 20 November 1922 to 14 October 1924 Squadron Leader A T Harris[16]
  • 14 October 1924 to 30 November 1925 Squadron Leader R M Hill
  • List incomplete
  • 15 November 1928 to 4 March 1932 Squadron Leader F J Vincent[18]
  • 1932 to 1935 Squadron Leader H W L Saunders[19]
  • 14 September 1935 to 1937 Squadron Leader A R Churchman[20]
  • List incomplete
  • March 1940 to 2 October 1940 Squadron Leader John Walter Dallamore (killed in action)[21]
  • 2 October 1940 – ? Squadron Leader Patrick Phillip Troughton-Smith
  • 1944 to 1945 Squadron Leader George Oswald Leonard Dyke DFC
  • List incomplete
  • 24 November 1947 to 1948 Squadron Leader F L Dodd[22]
  • 23 July 1948 to 1950 Squadron Leader E D Crew[23]
  • List incomplete
  • 27 August 1951 to ? Squadron Leader I S Stockwell[24]
  • 1956 to ? Squadron Leader G S Cooper
  • List incomplete

1 August 1972 to present

  • List incomplete
  • February 2005 to April 2007 Squadron Leader JDR Bowland
  • List incomplete
  • June 2014 to August 2016 Wing Commander D Catlow
  • August 2016 to Present Wing Commander R Tombola



  1. Pine, L.G. (1983). A dictionary of mottoes (1 ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 170. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X.
  2. "No.45 Squadron". Royal Air Force Museum. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  3. "45 Squadron". The Aerodrome. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  4. Above the Trenches: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the British Empire Air Forces 1915–1920. p. 122.
  5. "RAF Badges - Nos 1 - 100 Squadrons". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  6. Playfair, Vol. I, page 112.
  7. Playfair, Vol. I, pages 110, 112.
  8. Håkan Gustavsson, 2015, "Biplane fighter aces, Italy, Sergente Maggiore Luigi 'Gino' Baron", Biplane Fighter Aces from the Second World War (4 June 2015). (See also the Italian language Wikipedia article on Gino Baron.)
  9. "Patrick Troughton-Smith". Unit Histories. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  10. Air fighting, Auckland Star, Volume LXXIII, Issue 8, 10 January 1942, Page 7
  11. "Armourers of the Royal Air Force attach rockets to a Bristol Beaufighter aircraft of 45 Squadron prior to its flying a strike operation on a communist terrorist target in the Malayan jungle". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  12. "Air Commodore Geoffrey Cooper - obituary". The Telegraph. 16 February 2015. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  13. "RAF nuclear frontline Order-of-Battle 1984". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  14. March, Peter R. (1998). Brace by Wire to Fly-By-Wire – 80 Years of the Royal Air Force 1918–1998. RAF Fairford: Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund Enterprises. p. 158. ISBN 1-899808-06-X.
  15. "1st Phenom flight under military register for UK military flying training system". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  16. "A T Harris". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  17. "Royal Air Force: Appointments". Flight. XIV (731): 791. 28 December 1922. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  18. "F J Vincent". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  19. "H W L Saunders". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  20. "A R Churchman". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  21. J.N. Houterman. "Royal Air Force Officers 1939–1945 – D". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  22. "F L Dodd". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  23. "E D Crew". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  24. "I S Stockwell". Retrieved 13 September 2013.


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  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1980. ISBN 0-85130-083-9.
  • 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, C.G. RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing, 1998 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Jefford, C.G.The Flying Camels: The History of No. 45 Squadron, RAF. High Wycombe, UK: Privately Printed, 1995.
  • Lewis, Peter. Squadron Histories: R.F.C., R.N.A.S. and R.A.F. 1912–59. London: Putnam, 1959.
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1964 (new edition 1976). ISBN 0-354-01027-1.
  • Playfair, Major-General I.S.O.; Molony, Brigadier C.J.C.; with Flynn, Captain F.C. (R.N.) & Gleave, Group Captain T.P. (2009) [1st. pub. HMSO:1954]. Butler, Sir James (ed.). The Mediterranean and Middle East, Volume I: The Early Successes Against Italy, to May 1941. History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military Series. Uckfield, UK: Naval & Military Press. ISBN 1-84574-065-3.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1969 (new edition 1976, reprinted 1978). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.
  • Shores, Christopher F., Franks, Norman L. R., Guest, Russell. Above the Trenches: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the British Empire Air Forces 1915–1920. Grub Street, 1990. ISBN 0-948817-19-4, ISBN 978-0-948817-19-9.
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