RAF Banner with Crest.

49 Squadron


Squadron badge


"Cave canem" ("Beware of the dog").


A greyhound courant. The greyhound is indicative of speed.


HM King George VI, April 1937.

History of 49 Squadron:

No.49 Squadron, RFC, was formed at Dover, Kent, on 15th April 1916, and in November 1917, went to France as a day-bombing squadron equipped with DH4s. It arrived in France in time to take part in the Battle of Cambrai and made its first raid on 26th November. No opposition was encountered on this occasion but three days later the squadron ran into the Richthofen "Circus". The fighting was severe but No. 49 lost only one aircraft.

The ordinary routine of day bombing continued until March, but during the German offensive the squadron did a good deal of low bombing to check the enemy's advance. In April, following a move up to Dunkirk, No.49 was re-equipped with DH9s and with these raided such places as Ostend, Thourout, Zeebrugge and Bruges. Eventually the squadron moved south again and in June, from Fourneuil, near Beauvais, it was engaged in intensive low-flying attacks on ground targets as well as long- distance bombing raids. In one week, from 10th to 17th June, it shot down seventeen enemy aircraft.

In July the squadron moved south to the French front, where attacks were made on enemy communications, but it returned to the British front in August in anticipation of a counter- offensive on the Somme front and once more it was detailed for low bombing. This work so depleted the squadron in both aircraft and personnel that Nos. 49 and 27 Squadrons had to join forces and go over the lines in one formation. Until the Armistice the squadron was thereafter engaged in high-altitude day bombing in the face of intensive opposition. Many successful raids were made on important objectives, and many enemy aircraft were destroyed.

In May 1919, the squadron was posted to Germany as part of the Army of Occupation. Post-war disarmament led to its disbandment in July of that year, however, and not until 1936 was it re-formed at Bircham Newton, as a bomber squadron with Hawker Hinds. When war came again No.49 was flying Hampdens from Scampton, Lincolnshire, and in April 1940, helped inaugurate the RAF's sea-mining campaign. Soon afterwards it began to drop bombs as well as mines, and in August 1940, one of the squadron's pilots, Flight Lieutenant RAB Learoyd, won the first Bomber Command VC for his part in a joint low-level attack by Nos. 49 and 83 Squadrons on the Dortmund-Ems Canal.

In 1942 No.49 Squadron converted to Manchesters, then Lancasters, and in October led No.5 Group's epic dusk attack on the Schneider armament and locomotive works at Le Creusot. In 1943 the squadron took part in the first "shuttle-bombing" raid (when the targets were Friedrichshafen and Spezia), and the famous raid on Peenemunde. Among the targets which it attacked during 1944 were the coastal gun battery at La Pernelle on the Normandy coast, and the V1 storage sites in the caves at St. Leu d'Esserent on the River Loire, some 30 miles north-west of Paris. In December 1944, it took part in a raid on the German Baltic Fleet at Gdynia and in March 1945, was represented in the bomber force which so pulverised the defences of Wesel just before the crossing of the Rhine that Commandos were able to seize the town with only 36 casualties.

The Squadron remained with Lancasters until it was re-equipped with Lincolns in November 1949. In November 1953 it was detached to Kenya for reconnaissance and bombing missions during the Mau Mau uprising returning to the UK in February in 1954 before being disbanded on 1 August 1955. On 1 May 1956 No. 49 reformed at Wittering with Valiants and took part in Nuclear bomb trials at Christmas Island in 1956/57, a Squadron aircraft dropping the first British hydrogen bomb during these. With the grounding of the Valiant force, the Squadron disbanded on 1 May 1965.

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