12 Squadron

12(B) Sqn Crest


A fox's mask - approved by King George VI in February 1937. Based on a suggestion when the squadron was equipped with the Fairey Fox, an aircraft of which they were proud and the sole operators.


"Leads the Field" - suggested by its reputation for daylight bombing development.

Key Dates:

1915 - Formed at Netheravon.

1926 - Sole operator of the Fairey Fox.

1941 - Fg Off Garland and Sgt Gray received posthumous Victoria Crosses for a raid on a vital bridge over the Albert Canal.

1998 - Took part in Operation Desert Fox in Iraq.

    Current Aircraft and Location:

    Current Aircraft: Tornado GR4

    Current Location: RAF Marham

    Battle Honours:

    Western Front 1915-1918, Loos*, Somme 1916, Arras, Cambrai 1917*, Somme 1918*, Hindenburg Line, France and Low Countries 1939-1940*, Meuse Bridges*, Fortress Europe 1940-1944, German Ports 1941-1945, Biscay Ports 1940-1945, Berlin 1941-1945*, Ruhr 1941-1945*, France and Germany 1944-1945, Rhine*, Gulf 1991*, Iraq 2003*.

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

    History of 12(B) Squadron:

    No. 12 Squadron was formed on 14 February 1915 at Netheravon from a nucleus of crew and aircraft provided by No. 1 Squadron. In April 1916, the Squadron moved to St Omer, France equipped with BE2Cs primarily in the long-range reconnaissance role. By April 1918, No. 12 Squadron had added night bombing and strafing to its repertoire. After the Armistice, the Squadron moved to Germany as part of the Army of Occupation and by November 1919 was the sole operational squadron in Germany until July 1922 when it was disbanded. The Squadron reformed in April 1923 with DH9As spending a short time at Northolt before moving to Andover where it became engaged in the development of bombing techniques. It was during this time that the squadron received the designation 12(B) squadron, for Bomber, to denote its primary mission. In 1926, the Squadron became the sole operator of the Fairey Fox, an aircraft that outpaced many contemporary fighters and revolutionised bomber tactics.

    In 1935, flying Hawker Harts, the Squadron moved to Aden in response to the Italian invasion of Abyssinia. They returned home in 1936 and re-equipped with Hinds. At the start of World War II, No. 12 Squadron departed for France as part of the Advanced Air Striking Force equipped with Fairey Battles. In May 1940, Fg Off Garland and Sgt Gray, his observer, led a flight of aircraft in an attack on a vital bridge over the Albert Canal. All of the aircraft were shot down by fierce enemy ground fire, but one end of the bridge was destroyed and both Garland and Gray were posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, the first of the war for the RAF. After the British withdrawal from France in June 1940, the Squadron began night attacks on enemy shipping and re-equipped with Wellingtons. Two years later, Lancasters were taken on strength and these lasted until August 1946, when Lincolns replaced them.

    During 1952, No. 12 Squadron received Canberra jet-bombers, and these were used in support of Operations Firedog (Malaya) and Musketeer (Suez). In July 1961, the Squadron was disbanded but reformed a year later at Coningsby with Vulcans, in which they won the 1964 US Strategic Air Command bombing competition and completed several around-the-world flights. The Squadron once again disbanded in late 1967 before reforming again in October 1969 with Buccaneers.

    After a period of relative stability performing the maritime strike mission, No. 12 Squadron moved to Lossiemouth from Honington in 1980. In January 1991, No. 12 Squadron was hastily deployed to the Persian Gulf to support strike operations with the Pave-Spike pod, providing an airborne laser designator for the RAF's Paveway Laser Guided Bombs dropped from Tornado GR1s. In 1993 Tornado GR1Bs replaced the squadrons Buccaneers, though the squadron continued in the maritime strike role until 1998. During December 1998, the Squadron took part in Operation Desert Fox, the four-day air campaign against Iraq. Deployments to the Gulf continued, flying the upgraded Tornado GR4 from 2001 and included major contributions in 2003 as part of Operation Telic as well as supporting the first free elections in Iraq for 50 years in January 2005.

    In 2006 and again in 2008 the Sqn provided armed overwatch for UK and US ground operations in Iraq. Shortly afterwards, as British troops withdrew from the country, the Tornado fleet based in the region also returned to the UK, marking the end of a long era of the aircraft in theatre. At this time it was announced that the Tornado GR4 was to replace the Harrier in Afghanistan. Specifically, 12(B) Sqn were asked to be the first GR4 Sqn in theatre, so after several delays resulting in an extended work-up period, in Jun 2009 the Sqn trailed 10 jets to Cyprus, 8 of which continued to Kandahar. For over 4 months they successfully provided support to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), including Close Air Support for, amongst others, British, American, Canadian and Afghan troops in all parts of the country. On the 16th Oct 2009 12(B) Sqn returned to Lossiemouth after having handed over to a Marham-based GR4 sqn.

    Between subsequent Op HERRICK Deployments during 2011, 12(Bomber) Squadron was deployed in support Operation ELLAMY. Op ELLAMY was the codename for the UK’s participation in the military intervention in Libya under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 which stipulated that "all necessary measures" shall be taken to protect civilians. This saw 10 aircrew deploy to Gioia del Colle to bolster the Tornado component during the peak of operations. The remainder of the Squadron was held at readiness to move to RAF Marham to launch Storm Shadow raids on hardened Libyan targets. These missions required three air-to-air refueling brackets on the outward journey and one further on return to Gioia Del Colle.

    Text size: