201 Squadron

201 Squadron Crest


A seagull, wings elevated and addorsed - approved by King Edward VIII in May 1936


Hic et ubique - 'Here and everywhere'

Key Dates:

1914 - Formed at Fort Grange.

1915 - Sub Lt Warneford shoots down airship LZ37 over Belgium.

1982 - 201 Sqn Nimrods take part in the Falklands War.

Battle Honours:

Western Front 1915-1918*, Arras*, Ypres 1917*, Somme 1918*, Amiens, Hindenburg Line, Channel and North Sea 1939-1945, Norway 1940*, Atlantic 1941-1945*, Bismarck*, Biscay 1941-1945, Normandy 1944*, South Atlantic 1982, Gulf 1991, Iraq 2003.

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

History of 201 Squadron:

Number 201 Squadron can claim to be one of the oldest British military flying units as it can trace its origins back to the formation of No 1 Squadron, RNAS at Fort Grange on 16 October 1914. Almost immediately the unit was retitled No 1 (Naval) Squadron, and the unit finally crossed the Channel, after period on coastal patrol duties, during 1915. Its duties were as varied as its aircraft with Avro 504s, Gunbuses, Tabloids and Bristol Scouts being used on reconnaissance, photography, bombing and artillery spotting flights mainly around the Ostend/Zeebruge area.

During the night of 6/7 June 1915, Flight Sub-Lieutenant RAJ Warneford sighted the German airship LZ37 and set about catching up with the craft. He managed to do so near Bruges, and, after climbing above the ship, dropped 6 20lb (9.09kg) bombs onto its frame. There was a violent explosion that turned his Morane on its back, but after fighting to regain control, Warneford saw the airship in flames on the ground. His joy was short-lived, as the engine on his aircraft failed and he was forced to crash-land in enemy territory. Some running repairs were made to the engine, but on his next attempt to return home, Warneford was forced down by thick fog near Cap Gris Nez. For this fearless solo attack he was immediately awarded the Victoria Cross.

In December 1917, the unit standardised on Camels and was soon involved in the mass air-combats of the German offensive of spring 1918. With the amalgamation of the RFC and RNAS into the RAF on 1 April 1918, the unit became No 201 Squadron, RAF and began to concentrate on ground-attack sorties.

A second member of the Squadron was awarded the VC when, in October 1918, Major WG Barker DSO MC attacked and downed two enemy aircraft whilst undertaking a solo patrol in his Snipe. He was immediately attacked by a Fokker biplane, which he disposed of, but by this time Major Barker was in the middle of a formation of enemy aircraft and their attacks seriously wounded him. As he lapsed in and out of consciousness, Barker managed to shoot down a further two aircraft before crossing over the lines and crashing, breaking his left arm and badly wounded by gunfire in both legs.

Like many other units, the Squadron was disbanded on the last day of 1919. A decade later, No 201 reformed with Southampton flying boats and based at Calshot. These had been replaced by Londons by the time of World War II, and the unit found itself patrolling the Shetland-Norway gap. The following year, No 201 received Sunderlands and commenced anti-submarine patrols over the Atlantic until the U-boat menace had been defeated. The Squadron also joined the successful Channel blockade prior to the D-Day it also had the distinction of carrying the final Coastal Command patrol of the War on 3 June 1945.

The Sunderlands soldiered on, even taking part in the Berlin Airlift, until 1957 when the Squadron was disbanded. No 201 reformed at St Mawgan on 1 October 1958 with the new Shackleton Mk3s and moving to Kinloss in 1965. The 'Shacks' remained until 1970 when the unit received its first Nimrods, and these have seen action in both the South Atlantic, Gulf (twice) and Balkans conflicts.

In the aftermath of the October 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review an announcement was made to cancel the Nimrod MRA4 project.

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