Au Revoir, No. 617 Squadron
March 29, 2014 72 Comments
The RAF stood down No. 617 squadron the other day as they withdrew their Tornado GR4B aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth. They were tasked with a maritime strike role using the Sea Eagle missile. Usually we don’t really note things on the squadron level but No 617 is rather special.
It was originally set up on 21 March 1943 at RAF Scampton with personnel from the RAF, RCAF, RNZAF, and RAAF (UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia). It was set up in great secrecy to carry out one mission, codenamed OPERATION CHASTISE. The objective was the three dams that provided hydropower and flood control for the Ruhr valley. The mission, which was extremely difficult technically, was accomplished on the night of 17 May 1943. This mission is where the squadron got its nickname “The Dambusters”. After the raid, the original commander Wing Commander Guy Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross. The squadron motto, on the crest shown above, was personally approved by King George VI.
For the rest of the war they continued with the specialist and precision bombing mission, which included sinking the Tirpitz in a Norwegian fjord.
After the war they replace their Lancasters with Avro Lincolns and then English Electric Canberra jet bombers. After their return from Malaya they were stood down for a time and then returned with the Vulcan strategic nuclear bombers, in its various missions.
They carry the following battle honors;
Second World War
- Fortress Europe 1943–1945
- The Dams 1943
- Biscay Ports 1944
- France and Germany 1944–1945
- Normandy 1944
- Tirpitz, Channel and North Sea 1944–1945
- German Ports 1945
As a unit who has even had a movie made about it, there is of course an appropriate march, as well
Their website is here:http://www.dambusters.org.uk/
The good news is that No. 617 Squadron is scheduled to come back as the lead squadron with the F-35 Lightning II