No. 84 Squadron RAF

No. 84 Squadron of the Royal Air Force is at present a Search and Rescue Squadron based at RAF Akrotiri, it uses the Bell Griffin HAR.2 helicopter. It is currently one of the two operational parts of the RAF Search and Rescue Force left in service (the other being the RAF Mountain Rescue Service) after the stand-down of the UK effort on 5 October 2015.[2]

No. 84 Squadron RAF
  • 7 Jan 1917 – 30 January 1920
  • 13 Aug 1920 – 20 February 1953
  • 20 Feb 1953 – 31 October 1971
  • 17 Jan 1972 – present
Country United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
TypeFlying squadron
RoleMulti-role helicopter support
Part ofBritish Forces Cyprus
Home stationRAF Akrotiri, Cyprus
Motto(s)Scorpiones pungunt
(Latin for Scorpions sting)[1]
AircraftBell Griffin HAR2
Battle honours * Honours marked with an asterix are those emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
Squadron badge heraldryA scorpion, reflecting the squadron's long association with the Middle East. Approved by King George VI in December 1936.
Squadron codesUR (Apr 1939 – Sep 1939)
VA (Sep 1939 – Mar 1941)
PY (Jan 1945 – Dec 1946)
(Wessex and Griffin)


World War I

No. 84 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) was formed on 16 February 1917 at East Boldre (Beaulieu)[3] and moved to France in September 1917.[4] It flew the SE.5a over the Western front, at one time based in Bertangles, France until it returned to the UK in August 1919.[5]

Between the wars

The squadron was disbanded on 30 January 1920.[4] Its aces included Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor VC, Hugh Saunders and Walter A. Southey.[6]

The squadron was reformed on 13 August 1920 at Baghdad in Iraq, moving to Shaibah in September, where it remained for the next 20 years.[5] Its initial equipment was DH.9As (until January 1929) and these were replaced by Wapitis (beginning July 1928),[5] Vincents (December 1935)[7] and Blenheims Mk.Is ( February 1939).[8]

One of the squadron's artefacts is a pair of pink frilly knickers known as 'Jane's Panties'. These were presented to the squadron in 1936 by Jane Newman (a debutante from Australia) who was rescued by 84 squadron when her aircraft crashed in the Western Desert.[3] This story may more accurately relate to the location and rescue by Vickers Vincent aircraft of 84 Squadron of Imperial Airways Handley Page H.P. 42E G-AAUC Horsa which forced landed on 29 August 1936, in the Arabian Desert south of Salwa Wells in Qatar, having overflown Bahrein airport. Miss Jane Wallace Smith, an American novelist is named as the presenter of the undergarments to the Squadron.[9]

World War II

The Squadron flew its first combat operation of the war on 15 August 1940, when six 84 Squadron Blenheims, which were being ferried from Iraq to Aden to reinforce the Blenheim squadrons based there, encountered an Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 near Kamaran Island and shot it down.[10] It moved to Heliopolis in Egypt in September 1940, operating from forward bases at Fuka and Qotaifiya for operations against the Germans from October 1940.[11] The Italian invasion of Greece in October 1940 resulted in Britain diverting much of its aerial strength to support the Greeks, and 84 Squadron was moved to Greece in November 1940.[12] The squadron operated from Menidi near Athens, initially bombing Italian forces on the Albanian front, but as the Italian offensive stalled in December 1940, switched to attacks against the port of Valona and the airfield at Berat, both in Italian-occupied Albania.[13] In April 1941 German forces invaded Greece, quickly over-running the Greek and British defences, and the few surviving Blenheims were evacuated via Crete on 21 April.[14]

The squadron moved to RAF Aqir in Palestine on 27 April as a result of tensions between Britain and Iraq.[15] When hostilities broke out on 2 May, with Iraqi forces threatening the RAF base at Habbaniya, west of Baghdad, 84 Squadron supported the forces sent to relieve Habbaniya,[16] and when Germany and Italy sent air reinforcements to Iraq via airfields in Vichy-French Syria, carried out attacks on these airfields.[17] Operations against Iraqi forces continued until 31 May when the pro-German Iraqi Prime-Minister, Rashid Ali fled and an armistice was signed.[18]

It operated in Greece, Iraq, and the Western Desert before moving briefly to the Far East.[19] No. 84 Squadron flew the Vultee Vengeance dive bomber from Assam in North-East India but, contrary to some reports, not the Commonwealth Boomerang fighter from New Guinea during World War II (this was done by No. 84 Squadron RAAF). The squadron re-equipped with the Mosquito in February 1945.[20]

In March 1942, eleven members of 84 squadron commandeered a lifeboat and sailed away from Java to escape the advancing Japanese forces. They made land 47 days later in north-western Australia. The lifeboat was named 'Scorpion' in honour of the Squadron Badge.[21]


In November 1946 the squadron re-equipped with the Bristol Beaufighter which they flew until March 1949.[5][22]

In 1949 No. 84 Squadron flew Bristol Brigands[23] during Operation Firedog.[24]

The squadron was disbanded on 20 February 1953, but 204 Squadron was renumbered to No. 84 Squadron on the same day. The squadron was the transport squadron for the RAF in the Middle East until 1971. Its Vickers Valetta flight was detached to become No. 233 Squadron RAF on 1 September 1960 at RAF Khormaksar to provide general transport for the British Army in the Aden Protectorate. The Squadron was re-equipped with Beverly C2 at Khormaksar with a detachment at Eastleigh, Kenya being firmly placed there during the Southern Rhodesian wobble 1965(UDI). In late 1967, the Beverly was replaced by the HS Andover, and when UK forces left Aden the Squadron moved to RAF Sharjah, then in the Trucial States (now UAE). The squadron was disbanded at Muharraq on 31 October 1971.[5]


The squadron was reformed on 17 January 1972 from 1563 Flt and a detachment from 230 Sqn[5] with Westland Whirlwind HAR.10s at RAF Akrotiri. The squadron was also based at Nicosia International Airport to aid UNFICYP operations and operate search and rescue.[25] It later (December 1981) replaced the Whirlwind with the Westland Wessex HC.2[26] and later still (June 1984) with the Westland Wessex HU.5C. It was the last squadron to use the Westland Wessex.[27]

No. 84 Squadron was the first RAF contingent into Beirut in the Lebanese Crisis of 1983. This resulted in the evacuation of the peace-keeping element from the city.[28]

In January 2003 the squadron has been assigned to British Forces Cyprus at RAF Akrotiri in the search and rescue role using the Bell Griffin HAR.2. In recognition of this role the aircraft are always unarmed and carry a light blue band around their tail, matching the blue berets of UN peacekeepers.[29]

84 Squadron is the only serving squadron never to have been based in the United Kingdom.[27]


The squadron's badge, approved by George VI in December 1936 is the scorpion,[27] and its motto is Scorpiones pungunt, Latin for "Scorpions sting".[30] As a result, a single pet scorpion named Frank is kept as a mascot at RAF Akrotiri.

The squadron is allocated the ICAO designator AKG and the callsign GRIFTER.

Aircraft operated

According to Jefford, the following is a comprehensive list of aircraft operated by 84 Squadron.[31]

Notable squadron members



  1. Pine, L.G. (1983). A dictionary of mottoes (1 ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 206. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X.
  2. "Sea King completes final RAF UK operational sortie". 5 October 2015. Archived from the original on 21 February 2016. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  3. Allen, Tracey (13 January 2017). "The RAF's overseas squadron". RAF News (1410). High Wycombe: Royal Air Force. p. 21. ISSN 0035-8614.
  4. Halley 1980, p. 122.
  5. Halley 1980, p. 123.
  6. Shores, Franks & Guest (1990), p. 346.
  7. Philpott 2008, p. 185.
  8. Philpott 2008, p. 186.
  9. Neate, Don. Scorpions Sting: The Story of No. 84 Squadron Royal Air Force, pg. 31
  10. Shores 1996, p. 52
  11. Shores, Massimello & Guest 2012, pp. 66, 70
  12. Shores, Massimello & Guest 2012, p. 74
  13. Bevington-Smith 1981, pp. 28–29
  14. Bevington-Smith 1981, pp. 31–32
  15. Shores 1996, p. 166
  16. Shores 1996, pp. 175–176, 178
  17. Shores 1996, pp. 181–183, 186–187
  18. Shores 1996, pp. 192–3, 195
  19. Laming 1994, p. 65.
  20. Laming 1994, p. 66.
  21. Pitchfork 2008, p. 60.
  22. Parry, Simon W (2002). Beaufigher – in focus. Walton-on-Thames: Red Kite. p. 41. ISBN 9780953806126.
  23. Wilson, Keith (2015). RAF in camera, 1950s. Barnsley: Pen & Sword. p. 70. ISBN 9781473827950.
  24. "THE POST WAR ERA" (PDF). Royal Air Force. Royal Air Force. pp. 203–209. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  25. Green 1976, p. 13.
  26. Halley 1980, p. 382.
  27. "84 Squadron". Royal Air Force. Royal Air Force. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  28. Ashworth 1989, p. 162.
  29. Ashworth 1989, p. 163.
  30. Pine, L G (1983). A dictionary of mottoes. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 206. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X.
  31. Jefford 2001, p. 53.
  32. Above the Trenches, p. 371.
  33. Above the Trenches, pp. 346–347.
  34. Above the Trenches, p. 151.
  35. Above the Trenches, p. 179.
  36. Above the Trenches, p. 194.
  37. Above the Trenches, p. 331-332.
  38. Above the Trenches, p. 346.
  39. Above the Trenches, p. 108.
  40. Above the Trenches, p. 262.
  41. Above the Trenches, pp. 258–259.
  42. Above the Trenches, p. 312.
  43. Above the Trenches, p. 90.
  44. Above the Trenches, p. 235.
  45. Above the Trenches, p. 196.
  46. Above the Trenches, p. 361.
  47. Above the Trenches, p. 213.
  48. Above the Trenches, p. 104.


  • Ashworth, Chris (1989). Encyclopedia of modern Royal Air Force squadrons. Cambridge: Patrick Stephens.
  • Bevington-Smith, Eric (August–November 1981). "The RAF In Greece 1940–41". Air Enthusiast. No. Sixteen. pp. 26–32. ISSN 0143-5450.
  • Bowyer, Chaz. Mosquito Squadrons of the Royal Air Force. London: Ian Allan Ltd., 1984. ISBN 0-7110-1425-6.
  • Green, W; Swanborough, G (1976). Royal Air Force Yearbook 1976. Bromley: Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1980. ISBN 0-85130-083-9.
  • Jefford, C.G. RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Laming, Tim (1994). The Royal Air Force Manual. London: Cassell. ISBN 1-85409-190-5.
  • Neate, Don. Scorpions Sting: The Story of No. 84 Squadron Royal Air Force. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1994. ISBN 0-85130-222-X.
  • Philpott, Ian. The Royal Air Force 1930 to 1939, Volume II Rearmament. Barnsley, UK: Pen & Sword, 2008. ISBN 978-1-84415-391-6.
  • Pitchfork, Graham (Air Cdre (Ret'd)). The Royal Air Force Day by Day. Stroud, UK: History Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-7509-4309-3.
  • 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.
  • Shores, Christopher F., et al. 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.
  • Shores, Christopher (1996). Dust Clouds in the Middle East: The Air War for East Africa, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Madagascar, 1940–42. London: Grub Street. ISBN 1-898697-37-X.
  • Shores, Christopher; Cull, Brian; Izawa, Yasuho (1992). Bloody Shambles: Volume One: The Drift to War to the Fall of Singapore. London: Grub Street. ISBN 0-948817-50-X.
  • Shores, Christopher; Cull, Brian; Izawa, Yasuho (1993). Bloody Shambles: Volume Two: The Defence of Sumatra to the Fall of Burma. London: Grub Street. ISBN 0-948817-67-4.
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