Bomber Command No.18 Squadron
No. 18 Squadron
Motto: "Animo et Fide" ("With courage and faith").
Badge: A Pegasus rampant. The Pegasus was chosen to commemorate the unit being the first to co-operate with the Cavalry Corps on the Somme in the First World War.
Authority: King Edward VIII, May 1936.
No. 18 Squadron. RFC, was formed at Northolt, Middlesex, on 11th May 1915, from No. 4 Reserve Squadron and in November 1915, went to France equipped with Vickers FB5s for fighter-reconnaissance duties. In April 1916, the squadron was re-equipped with FE2b's and with these its employment then included artillery observation, day- and night-bombing and cavalry contact patrols. No. 18 was the first squadron to get into direct communication with Army headquarters by wireless.
In the summer of 1917 the squadron was re-equipped with DH4s and began heavy day-bombing and long-distance reconnaissance. It continued with DH4s until October 1918, and then wound up its war ops on DH9As. The number of enemy aircraft claimed as destroyed by No. 18 Squadron during its active service on the Western Front totalled over 200 - a fine record indeed for a squadron engaged mainly on bombing and reconnaissance. It is of interest to note that the double drum for the Lewis gun was invented by members of the squadron armoury in December 1915, and that the Norman compensating foresight was invented by Capt. Norman while he was serving with the squadron.
After the Armistice the squadron went to Germany and operated a mail service between Cologne and Lympne. It returned to England in September 1919, and at the end of that year it was disbanded.
Re-formed in October 1931, No. 18 Squadron resumed its day-bombing role and at first flew Hawker Harts. These were replaced by Hinds in 1936 and when war came again, in 1939, the squadron was flying Blenheims.
Following the outbreak of war the squadron went to France as part of the RAF Air Component of the British Expeditionary Force, and in the course of reconnaissance and bombing missions during the early stages of the blitzkrieg in May 1940, suffered heavy losses, it was withdrawn to England on 19th May and was subsequently engaged in bombing both land and sea targets, On 19th August 1941, whilst en route to a target in Northern France, one of its Blenheims (R3843 "F-Freddy", a Mk. lV), dropped by parachute, to St. Omer airfield, a box containing a spare right artificial leg to Wing Commander Douglas Bader, the fighter ace, who had been shot down 10 days earlier.
The operational echelon of the squadron was detached to Malta in October 1941, and by the following March most of it had either been lost on operations from Malta or Egypt or absorbed into other units in the Middle East. However, on 4th March the squadron started to re-form in England and by the end of April it was operating over Europe again. By late 1942 No. 18 Squadron, equipped with Blenheim Vs began to operate in North Africa again and in that theatre it remained until it supported the allied advance through Italy.
Bomber Command WWII Bases:
- Upper Heyford : Sep 1936-Sep 1939
At the outbreak of war No. 18 was in No. 1 (Bomber) Group. Soon afterwards it was transferred (with RAF Upper Heyford & No. 57(B) Sqdn) to No. 6 (Training) Group & thence to the Air Component of the BEF in France for strategic-reconnaissance duties. Following the invasion of France & the Low Countries, bombing again became its primary role.
- Beauvraignes, France : Sep 1939-Oct 1939
- Méharicourt, France : Oct 1939-May 1940
- Goyencourt, France : May 1940
- Crécy, France : May 1940
- Lympne : May 1940
- Watton : May 1940
- Gatwick : May 1940-Jun 1940
- West Raynham : Jun 1940-Sep 1940
- Great Massingham : Sep 1940-Apr 1941
- Oulton : Apr 1941-Jul 1941
- Horsham St. Faith : Jul1941-Nov 1941
- Detached to Manston during late Aug
- Oulton : Nov 1941-Dec 1941
- Horsham St. Faith : Dec 1941
- Wattisham : Dec 1941-Aug 1942
The operational echelon was detached to Malta in Oct 1941 & from there went to Egypt in Jan 1942. In late March most of what then remained of it was absorbed into other units in M. East. Meanwhile at Wattisham the sqdn was re-forming with new crews.
- West Raynham : Aug 1942-Oct 1942
Transferred to N Africa Nov 1942.
Bomber Command WWII Aircraft:
- Bristol Blenheim I and IV : May 1938-Nov 1942
- Following the 1938 Munich crisis No. 18 was allotted the code letters "GU". Its WW2 codes were "WV".
First Operational Mission in WWII:
- 16th October 1939 : 2 Blenheims made strategic reconnaissance of Siegfried Line and 2 other Blenheims made photographic reconnaissance of part of NW Germany.
First Bombing Mission in WWII:
- 17th May 1940 : 5 Blenheims bombed advancing enemy armoured columns on Le Cateau-Cambrai road. 2 other Blenheims FTR, 1 of these crash-landing in Allied territory after being attacked by enemy aircraft in target area.