34 Sqn RAF Regt History
34 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment
Formed on the 19 November 1951 as a light anti-aircraft (LAA) squadron, 34 Sqn RAF Regiment first operated over seas when it moved to Al Hamra, Eygpt and from there it launched a number of operational detachments to the Suez Canal Zone. The Squadron subsequently moved to Cyprus in 1956 to counter the EKOA terrorist campaign. Operational detachments continued in Libya, Aden, Iran and within Cyprus itself, including the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the subsequent bloody partition. Re-rolled in 1975 as a Field Sqn it was equipped with Land Rovers, machine guns and mortars. In 1982 however, it was re-rolled further after being equipped with the Combat vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) (CVR (T)) range of light armoured vehicles, now known as a Light Armoured Squadron.
Following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, 34 Sqn deployed to the Gulf region to provide ground defence for RAF forward bases in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Then from 1992 until 1996 the Squadron's primary responsibility was the internal security of RAF Akrotiri and its assets. In 1993, the Squadron reverted to its field roll. During this time, 34 Squadron carried out detachments to undertake security duties at Mount Troodos and Mount Olympus. After 40 years service in Cyprus, 34 Squadron handed over operational responsibility to the 1st Batallion Royal Gloucester Berkshire and Wiltshire Regt on 31 Jan 1996. By April 1996 the Squadron had settled into its new home at RAF Leeming, North Yorkshire.
In September 1996, the Sqn carried out Ex VOLCANO at Damblain Airfield in France. The Exercise’s aim was to practice the co-ordination of the French Air Force and Royal Air Force under the auspices of the French British European Air Group. The Squadron's role included using Rapid Air Landing procedures to secure and hold the Airfield.
Deploying in January 1997, 34 Squadron supported Op LODESTAR to Banja Luka, in the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. For the following 6 months the Squadron was responsible for the security of the Headquarters Multinational Division South West and jointly responsible for the Banja Luka Area of Operations. Throughout the Operation, 34 Squadron assisted in a series of humanitarian aid projects, significantly improving the quality of life of those hit hardest by the ongoing conflict. 34 Squadron was presented with the Wilkinson Sword for Peace in 1997, jointly with 1 Squadron RAF Regt, for the combined efforts in providing humanitarian support throughout Op LODESTAR.
In October 1997 the Squadron carried out a Tactical Air Land Operation (TALO) demonstration at Keevil Airfield, Wiltshire. The aim of the Exercise was to illustrate to the visiting Joint Service Command Staff Course how quickly the assaulting force could secure an airhead, prior to future offensive/defensive action.
With rising international tension in the Gulf, 34 Squadron took the lead roll in securing Ali Al Salem from potential terrorist and conventional ground attack in February 1998. By the end of the month the entire Squadron had deployed on Op BOLTON, providing security for the Airfield. After a demanding and extremely productive detachment, the task was handed over to II Squadron RAF Regt in June 1998.
This was then followed in July 1998 by providing a demonstration of Field Squadron capabilities at the Royal Tournament at Earls Court.
During February 1999 a Section deployed to the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia assisting the Support Helicopter Force on Op AGRICOLA. In July a Flt from the Squadron again deployed to Macedonia to assist in the security of forward air elements of KFOR, the Kosovo stabilization force.
34 Squadron again took on the Op BOLTON task in May 00, then spent 8 months on operations, split into 2 half squadron detachments of 4 months. The beginning of 2001 was dominated by Op PENINSULAR, the military assistance to the civil powers during the Foot and Mouth epidemic. 34 Squadron was instrumental in the formation of standard operating procedures for military units working through the crisis. Some of the Squadron worked in the Leeds HQ but the majority deployed throughout North Yorkshire to assist with the cull of animals on infected premises. This also involved monitoring the decontamination of each of the farms after the animals had been removed. The Squadorn was awarded the Commander-in-Chief's Commendation for the efforts of all the personnel involved in Op PENINSULAR, the first time the award has ever been made to a formed unit.
34 Squadron then underwent Northern Ireland training in preparation for an Op PENNANT detachment in November 01, however, due to the events of September 11, the Sqn was instead put on standby to assist with future operations against terrorism, and Op PENNANT subsequently was cancelled.
In November 01, ‘B’ Flight deployed to Thumrait, Oman, in support of counter-terrorist Operations in Afghanistan. The Flight provided point defence for the aircraft at Thumrait and was then followed by Officer Commanding 34 Squadron and ‘A’ Flight deploying to Kabul International Airfield (KAIA) in Afghanistan during January 02. The task was made all the more challenging by the extremely austere environment that was encountered. The Flight's tasking included the construction of defences and providing security for the Air Point of Departure (APOD) despite the constant high threat from the Taliban and the extremely large numbers of mines. The Flight also carried out section level foot patrols in Kabul City, aswell as integrating some joint patrols with the 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment. The Flight was also responsible for providing protection for the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, when he visited. The Squadron was reunited in April 02 with the return of ‘C’ Flt from Kabul and with ‘B’ Flt from a short spell in Kenya protecting a detachment of Canberra PR9s. The Squadron then undertook another 4 month roulement in Ali Al Salem this time as part of Op RESINATE (SOUTH) - this finished in October 02.
On January 16 2003 the Squadron again found itself on Operations in the Gulf, this time as part of Op TELIC and the liberation of Iraq, deploying to Basra International Airport as a part of 3 Commando Brigade. Returning in April, 34 Squadron found itself re-deploying back to Basra International Airport in the September, to support Op TELIC 2. During this time the Squadron was responsible for the protection of the APOD and the Headquarters of the Multi National Division South East (MND(SE)), with an Area of Responsibility (AOR) covering approximately 500km sq. The Squadron returned to the United Kingdom in January 2004 and quickly turned round to deploy on exercise to the jungle of Belize.
In 2005 the Squadron deployed to Basrah Air Station, for the third time, for a four month period. Now on Op TELIC 5, 34 Sqn provided not only Force Protection to Air assets and the MND (SE) HQ, but also an Airborne Reaction Force – enabling the Medical Extraction Teams and the Divisional Weapons Intelligence Section. The Squadron’s snipers were allocated to the Al Amarah Battle Group providing vital overwatch support during Op TITANIUM.
During 2007, the Squadron returned to Afghanistan, in defence of Kandahar Air Field, providing Force Protection to NATO assets. During this deployment, the Squadron secured wreckage of a crashed Nimrod, which sadly killed all crew.
Deploying for the forth time to Basrah, 34 Squadron undertook support to Op TELIC 10. Starting in the September of 2007, the Squadron covered the first six month tour of operations in this theatre by the RAF Regt. Following the UK forces’ hand over of Basrah City to the Iraqi led army, the Squadron was required to patrol the area alongside the Army. The Squadron snipers developed a heli-sniping capability during this time and experience was shared amongst the whole Squadron to help counter the significant threat from Indirect Fire. During the 6 month tour, the Contingency Operating Base was subject to over 300 rockets.
In May 2009 the Squadron was deployed back to Afghanistan on Op HERRICK 10, providing Force Protection to Kabul International Airport and Camp BASTION. After 6 months, the Squadron returned to RAF Leeming, just in time for Christmas 2009.
After a short amount of leave and a skiing expedition, Mission Specific Training was to begin again, only 3 months after leaving Afghanistan. Deploying in October 2010, further incorporation of the RAF Regt at Camp BASTION was effected by 34 Squadron. Working alongside the 3/25 and 1/23 Battalions of the United States Marine Corps, the Squadron patrolled both in it’s designated Areas of Responsibility and jointly with the USMC. Concurrently, a Flight from 34 Squadron was deployed to KAIA in support of Op EMPEROR. All Squadron elements returned to RAF Leeming in May 2011.
When back in the United Kingdom, 34 Squadron builds on it’s capabilities, training and developing working practices both with weapons and communications systems. Alongside this natural progression in ability, gunners and instructors are almost continuously deployed in support of other Field Squadrons undertaking Mission Specific Training, and indeed the Training Wing at the Depot, RAF Honington.
No 34 Squadron continues to support the UK Defence Mission, fighting on the ground for control of the air all over the world.
The Sqn motto is: 'Feu de Fer' meaning 'Fire from Iron'
AWARD OF THE QUEEN'S COMMENDATION FOR BRAVERY
CORPORAL STEPHEN HURST, 2nd OCT 2000
34 SQN RAF REGT DETACHMENT, ALI AL SALEM, KUWAIT
On 2 October 2000, Corporal Hurst was commanding a Resident Field Squadron Section on a routine patrol in the vicinity of Ali Al Salem, Kuwait. Whilst patrolling the desert the patrol inadvertently entered a hazardous area containing a large number of unexploded bomblets. Displaying a calm methodical approach, Corporal Hurst withdrew his men and vehicles from the minefield with the utmost coolness. Subsequently, Cpl Hurst recorded the position of each bomblet and led the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team commander into the minefield. Corporal Hurst was awarded the Queen's Commendation for Bravery for displaying calm and confident leadership in extracting his patrol from a sizeable minefield. His quick thinking and professional actions were an example and an inspiration to his men in a difficult and dangerous situation
RAF Regt Badges
Gallery of RAF Regiment badgesGallery