216 Squadron

216 Sqn Crest


An eagle, wings elevated, holding in the claws a bomb - approved by King Edward VIII in May 1936


CCXVI dona ferens - '216 bearing gifts'

Key Dates:

1917 - Formed at Manston.

1940 - Involved in the evacuation of Greece

Current Aircraft and Location:

Current Aircraft: Voyager

Current Location: RAF Brize Norton

Battle Honours:

Independent Force and Germany 1917-1918*, Egypt and Libya 1940-1942*, Greece 1940-1941*, Syria 1941*, El Alamein*, El Hamma, North Africa 1943*, Mediterranean 1943, Manipur 1944, North Burma 1944*, South East Europe 1944-1945*, Kosovo, Iraq 2003.

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

The History of 216 Squadron:

Number 216 Squadron can trace its roots to 'A' Squadron, RNAS, which formed at Manston on 5 Oct 1917 with four Handley Page 0/100s. After moving to Ochey in France as a strategic night bomber squadron, it was redesignated No. 16 Squadron, RNAS, on 8 Jan 1918. When the RAF was formed on 1 Apr 1918 was renumbered No. 216 Squadron, and soon afterwards became part of the Independent Force under Major General Trenchard flying Handley Page 0/400s.

After the War, the Squadron formed part of the mail service set up for the occupation forces before moving to the Middle East flying passengers and mail between Egypt and Palestine. Throughout the remainder of the Inter-War period, No. 216 flew a variety of transport types (DH10s, Victorias and Valentias) and pioneered the trans-African route, which was taken over commercially in 1936. When Italy entered World War II in June 1940, the unit flew both Valentias and Bombays on transport and bombing duties respectively from Heliopolis in Egypt, and was involved in the evacuation of Greece and later supported the besieged airfield at Habbaniya, Iraq in May 1941. Later that year, the Squadron briefly flew DH86As on casualty evacuation flights and Hudsons as well as the trusty Bombays before standardising on Dakotas in April 1943. As well as 'scheduled' services, airborne force operations were flown and detachments to India (in support of Chindit operations in Burma), Yugoslavia (supporting Tito's Partisans) and others as far apart as Nairobi and Karachi occurred during the remainder of the War.

The Dakotas remained on strength until late 1949 when they were replaced by Valettas, and a move to Lyneham in 1955 was followed by introduction of the Comet jet transport in to RAF service a year later. Later versions of the Comet were flown until the Squadron was disbanded (for the first time) on 30 June 1975. After a brief reformation as a maritime strike squadron with Buccaneers in 1979-80, No. 216 Sqn was 'reactivated' (it was never officially disbanded) in its current form on 1 November 1984 at Brize Norton with Tristars. As a dual role tanker/transport squadron, No. 216 has been part of many of the UK's subsequent operations, and took a leading role in Operation Allied Force with three aircraft based in Italy in support of NATO aircraft. Further operational detachments covering Afghanistan and Iraq have seen 216 operating in support of both RAF and US Navy aircraft in the air-to-air refuelling role as well as troop-carrying.

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