20 Squadron

20 Sqn Crest


In front of the rising sun, an eagle, wings elevated and perched on a sword - approved by King George VI in June 1937. The rising sun is intended to commemorate the unit's long association with the East. The eagle is perched on 'Talwar' indicative of the Squadron's work with the Army in India.


Facta non verba - 'Deeds not words'

Key Dates:

1915 - Formed at Netheravon.
1917 - Sergeant T Mottershead was posthumously awarded the VC.

    Battle Honours:

    Western Front 1916-1918, Somme 1916*, Arras*, Ypres 1917*, Somme 1918*, Lys, Hindenburg Line, Mahsud 1919-1920, Waziristan 1919-1925, Mohmand 1927, North West Frontier 1930-1931, Mohmand 1933, North West Frontier 1935-1939, North Burma 1943-1944, Arakan 1943-1944, Manipur 1944*, Burma 1944-1945*, North Borneo 1964, Gulf 1991.

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

    The History of XX(R) Squadron:

    Formed at Netheravon on 1 September 1915 from No. 7 Reserve Squadron, the unit deployed to France in January 1916 with FE2Bs in the fighter-reconnaissance role. The Squadron devised the 'flying circle' where patrolling pilots flew a continuous orbit in formation while their gunners fires outwards, covering each other.

    A year later, Sergeant T Mottershead was posthumously awarded the VC for saving the life of his observer, Lt WE Gower after their stricken aircraft had crash-landed and caught fire. Lt Gower managed to escape the burning wreck and with assistance dragged his pilot from the wreckage. However, Sgt Mottershead died four days later from his burns, and he became the only RFC NCO to be awarded the Victoria Cross during World War I.

    In 1917, the Bristol Fighter arrived, and with the Squadron constantly refining their tactics, 56 German aircraft were accounted for in April 1918 alone. In May 1919, the Squadron left the continent for India and assumed army co-operation tasks along the North-West Frontier. The trusty 'Brisfits' were finally replaced in 1932 by Wapitis, and then Audaxes three years later. Lysanders replaced these in late 1941, and these were joined by Hurricane 'tank busters' in mid-1942.

    In July 1947, No. 20 Squadron was disbanded whilst in India, reforming briefly as a target squadron during 1949-51. The Squadron was reformed at Jever in Germany in July 1952 with Vampire fighter-bombers, these lasting barely a year before Sabres arrived for interceptor duties before these aircraft were themselves replaced by Hunters. The Squadron was disbanded at the end of 1960. No. 20 Squadron reformed in July of the following year at Tengah in Singapore, again with Hunters, but in the ground attack role. The Squadron spent six months during 1962 in Thailand as a counter to communist incursions from Laos, and in 1964 was involved in operations in North Borneo, but disbanded again during 1970 following the withdrawal of RAF units from the Far East.

    By December, No. 20 Squadron had reformed at Wildenrath with Harriers, but these were replaced during 1977 with Jaguars. During 1984, Tornado GR1s arrived and these remained until under 'Options for Change' the unit disbanded in May 1992. Later that year, the Squadron numberplate was assigned to the Harrier OCU at Wittering.

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