8 Sqn Sentry

8 Squadron

VIII Squadron

8 Sqn Crest

Badge:

A sheathed Arabian dagger - approved by King George VI in December 1943, and adopted in recognition of the units long association with Arabia. The weapon is sheathed to symbolise the guardian duties of the Squadron.

Motto:

Uspiam et passim - Everywhere unbounded

Key Dates:

  • 1915 - Formed at Brooklands
  • 1956 - Took part in the Suez crisis
  • 1995 - Operation Deliberate Force (NATO, Balkans)
  • 1999 - Operation Allied Force (NATO, Kosovo)
  • 2001 - Operation Veritas (NATO, Afghanistan)
  • 2003 - Operation Telic (Iraq)
  • 2009 - Operation Afghan Assist (NATO, Afghanistan)
  • 2011 - Operation Unified Protector (NATO)/ Operation Ellamy (Libya)
  • 2012 - Operation Olympics

Current Aircraft and Location:

Current Aircraft: E3D

Current Location: RAF Waddington

Battle Honours:

Western Front 1915-1918, Loos, Somme, Arras, Cambrai 1917, Somme 1918, Amiens, Hindenburg Line, Kurdistan 1922-1924, Aden 1928, Aden 1929, Aden 1934, East Africa 1940-1941, Eastern Waters 1942-1945, Burma 1945, Kosovo, Iraq 2003.

(Honours marked with an asterisk, may be emblazoned on the Squadron Standard)

The History of VIII Squadron:

No. 8 Squadron was formed at Brooklands, Surrey on 1 January 1915 before moving to St Omer, France in April with BE2Cs where it became an Army Co-operation unit. During the Great War, the Squadron specialized in the spotting of anti-tank guns, and in June 1918 was attached to the Tank Corps for this purpose. Shortly after this, Captain FMF West was awarded the Victoria Cross for his outstanding dedication and bravery in pin-pointing enemy concentrations in the face of intense opposition and severe injury while flying an Armstrong-Whitworth FK8. After the end of the World War I, the Squadron briefly went to Germany as part of the occupation forces before disbandment in January 1920.

Reformed as a day-bomber unit with DH9As at Helwan, Egypt in October 1920, the Squadron began a long association between the unit and the Middle East and, during the 1920s, was one of the Squadrons responsible for the air-policing of Iraq. In 1927, the Squadron moved to Aden and was re-equipped with Fairey IIIFs. By the outbreak of World War II, 8 Squadron had received Blenheims and was involved in the action in Somaliland against the Italians before moving to maritime reconnaissance duties with little success. The Squadron was again disbanded on 1 May 1945, but was dormant for only 15 days when the Liberator-equipped 200 Squadron at Jessore, India was renumbered. This respite was brief, and after a short period of supply-dropping flights in Malaya, it was again disbanded in November 1945.

Another short rest saw the Squadron reform in Aden in September 1946 with Mosquito ac equipped for fighter-bomber duties. These were superceded by Tempests, Brigands and then Vampires in 1947, 1949 and 1953 respectively. During the Suez crisis in 1956, the Squadron, now flying Venoms, moved to Cyprus before returning to its base at Khormaksar, Aden. During 1960, 8 Squadron and its Hunters moved to Bahrain to protect Kuwait against Iraqi aggression. After another disbandment in December 1971, 8 Squadron was reformed again, this time with Shackletons at Kinloss on Airborne Early Warning (AEW) duties before moving to nearby Lossiemouth in late 1973. This ac type gave sterling service until 1991 when the Squadron was re-equipped with its current mount, the Sentry AEW1, and moved to Waddington.

No. 8 Squadron and the Sentry ac were immediately involved in the monitoring of UN sanctions in Libya after the bombing of Pan Am Flight 101. The Squadron was also involved in various operations in the Balkans including Operation Maritime Monitor and Operation Sky Monitor enforcing UN sanctions in the region. Of note, an 8 Squadron Sentry was responsible for coordinating the rescue of Capt Scott O’Grady, USAF, who was shot down by a Serbian SA-6 in Kosovo. No. 8 Squadron became an integral part of NATO’s Operation Deliberate Force in July 1995. The Squadron then remained in the region to take part in Operation Allied Force over Kosovo until the September 11th attacks in 2001 moved the focus to the Middle East.

The Squadron was heavily involved in initial operations over Afghanistan as part of Operation Veritas and continued providing overwatch until required to support Iraq operations in March 2003 as part of Operation Southern Watch and Operation Telic. When 8 Squadron returned to the UK after the operations in Iraq it marked the first time that the Sentry fleet had not been deployed since being introduced into service in 1991. In October 2009, 8 Squadron merged with 23 Squadron as part of the reduction in the size of the fleet which also saw the number of airframes reduce to six.

The Squadron headed back to Thumrait in December 2009 for 3 months and commenced a second stint supporting operations in Afghanistan, this time under the banner of NATO’s Operation Afghan Assist. No. 8 Squadron also deployed at short notice in March 2011 to oversee the evacuation of UK nationals from Libya as part of Operation Deference and remained in theatre as the conflict developed into NATO Operation Unified Protector. This conflict ended in October 2011. The Squadron was involved in the air security plan for the London 2012 Olympics and was airborne as a contingency for the opening and closing ceremonies but, thankfully, was not required for the remainder of the event.

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