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109 Squadron

109 SQUADRON

Squadron badge

Motto:

"Primi hastati" ("The first of the legion").

Badge:

A panther rampant, incensed. The black panther indicates night hunting and the attitude of the animal symbolises attack.

Authority:

HM King George VI, January 1944.


History of 109 Squadron:

No. 109 Squadron was first formed in 1918 and the only other information available concerning its early history is that its role was bomber training and that it disbanded in 1919. On 10th December 1940, the squadron was re-born from the Wireless Intelligence Development Unit (WIDU) whose headquarters were at Boscombe Down, Wilts. Using Anson and Wellington aircraft it was engaged during the next two years in development of radio counter-measures and also new radar aids, notably the blind bombing system known as Oboe. In August, 1942, No. 109 moved to Wyton to become one of the original units of the Pathfinder Force.1 In December it converted to Oboe Mosquitoes and on 2Oth/21st made World War 2 history by flying the first Oboe sorties over enemy territory - on a calibration raid against a power station at Lutterade in Holland. Eight nights later, on 31st December/1st January 1943, it made history again when it pioneered Oboe target marking for a following force of heavy bombers; the target was Düsseldorf.

The squadron remained an Oboe Mosquito marker unit for the rest of the war and from mid-1943 had a friendly PFF rival in No. 105 Squadron. One of No. 109's most outstanding successes was on 5/6th March, 1943, when eight of its Mosquitoes led Bomber Command's devastating assault on Essen which laid waste more than 160 acres of that city and heralded the Battle of the Ruhr. Included among the squadron's many other wartime claims to fame is the claim that the last bombs to be dropped on Berlin were dropped by one of its Mosquitos at 2.14am on 21st April, 1945. On 30 September 1945 the Squadron was disbanded.

Among the scores of decorations won by No. 109 Squadron personnel was a Victoria Cross. It was awarded posthumously to Squadron Leader BAM Palmer, "in recognition of most conspicuous bravery" while flying a Lancaster of No. 582 Squadron (mainly with a 582 Squadron crew) and acting as Oboe leader of a Lancaster force against Cologne on 23rd December 1944.

On 1 October 1945, No. 627 Squadron at Woodhall Spa was renumbered 109 Squadron and flew Mosquitoes as a target marking unit until conversion to Canberras began in July 1952. During the Suez Campaign, it was based in Cyprus and on 1 February 1957 was disbanded.

1. Initially No. 109, although associated with the PFF, was established independently of it.

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