No. 218 Squadron RAF
No. 218 Squadron RAF was a squadron of the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

. It was also known as No 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron after the Governor of the Gold Coast
Gold Coast (British colony)
The Gold Coast was a British colony on the Gulf of Guinea in west Africa that became the independent nation of Ghana in 1957.-Overview:The first Europeans to arrive at the coast were the Portuguese in 1471. They encountered a variety of African kingdoms, some of which controlled substantial...

 and people of the Gold Coast officially adopted the squadron.

World War I

The squadron was first formed at Dover
Dover is a town and major ferry port in the home county of Kent, in South East England. It faces France across the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury; east of Kent's administrative capital Maidstone; and north-east along the coastline from Dungeness and Hastings...

 on 24 April 1918, going into action a month later in France. The unit flew Airco DH.9
Airco DH.9
The Airco DH.9 - also known after 1920 as the de Havilland DH.9 - was a British bomber used in the First World War...

s in daylight bombing raids, and during its 5 months of wartime service, it dropped 94 tons of bombs over enemy targets in France and Belgium, flying a total of 117 sorties. In 1919, the unit was disbanded, having claimed 37 enemy aircraft during the war.

World War II

With the onset of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the unit was reformed on 16 March 1936 from elements of 57 Squadron
No. 57 Squadron RAF
-History:57 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps was formed on 8 June 1916 at Copmanthorpe, Yorkshire. In December 1916 the squadron was posted to France equipped with the FE2d. The squadron re-equipped with Airco DH4s in May 1917 and commenced long range bombing and reconnaissance operations near...

 at Upper Heyford
Upper Heyford
Upper Heyford may refer to:*Upper Heyford, Northamptonshire*Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire*RAF Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire...

 with the Hawker Hind
Hawker Hind
-See also:-Bibliography:* Crawford, Alex. Hawker Hart Family. Redbourn, Hertfordshire, UK: Mushroom Model Publications Ltd., 2008. ISBN 83-89450-62-3....

 and requipped with the Fairey Battle
Fairey Battle
The Fairey Battle was a British single-engine light bomber built by the Fairey Aviation Company in the late 1930s for the Royal Air Force. The Battle was powered by the same Rolls-Royce Merlin piston engine that gave contemporary British fighters high performance; however, the Battle was weighed...

 in 1938, and on 2 September 1939, the unit moved back to France, where it began dropping leaflets and flying reconnaissance missions. But by June 1940, having suffered heavy losses while bombing German troops going into France, it was evacuated to England, where it re-equipped with the Bristol Blenheim
Bristol Blenheim
The Bristol Blenheim was a British light bomber aircraft designed and built by the Bristol Aeroplane Company that was used extensively in the early days of the Second World War. It was adapted as an interim long-range and night fighter, pending the availability of the Beaufighter...

. In November, it rearmed with Vickers Wellington
Vickers Wellington
The Vickers Wellington was a British twin-engine, long range medium bomber designed in the mid-1930s at Brooklands in Weybridge, Surrey, by Vickers-Armstrongs' Chief Designer, R. K. Pierson. It was widely used as a night bomber in the early years of the Second World War, before being displaced as a...

s, and began bombing a wide variety of enemy targets with the longer-range Wellingtons. In December 1941, it began rearming with Short Stirling
Short Stirling
The Short Stirling was the first four-engined British heavy bomber of the Second World War. The Stirling was designed and built by Short Brothers to an Air Ministry specification from 1936, and entered service in 1941...

s and continued its bombing raids against everything from infantry columns to V-weapon sites. In July 1942, the unit moved to Downham Market
RAF Downham Market
RAF Downham Market was a Royal Air Force airfield in the west of the county of Norfolk in the United Kingdom which operated during the second half of World War II.-History:...

 and in March 1944 to Woolfox Lodge
RAF Woolfox Lodge
Royal Air Force Station Woolfox Lodge is a former RAF aerodrome next to the A1 road in Rutland, UK. The airfield is split between the parishes of Empingham and Greetham. It was open from 1940 until 1965....

 in Rutland
Rutland is a landlocked county in central England, bounded on the west and north by Leicestershire, northeast by Lincolnshire and southeast by Peterborough and Northamptonshire....

. In August 1944, it moved to Methwold
RAF Methwold
RAF Methwold was a Royal Air Force airfield in the west of the county of Norfolk in the United Kingdom which operated during and after World War II.-History:...

 with the Avro Lancaster
Avro Lancaster
The Avro Lancaster is a British four-engined Second World War heavy bomber made initially by Avro for the Royal Air Force . It first saw active service in 1942, and together with the Handley Page Halifax it was one of the main heavy bombers of the RAF, the RCAF, and squadrons from other...


The diversionary bombing campaign Operation Glimmer
Operation Glimmer
Operation Glimmer was the codename for one of the deception operations used by the Allied forces during World War II in connection with the Normandy landings . In conjunction with Operation Taxable, this was conducted by aircraft of the Royal Air Force and small ships of the Royal Navy to trick the...

 was undertaken by the Short Stirling bombers of No 218 Squadron aiming for Pas de Calais. The Squadron was directed by the civilian physicist Sebastian Pease of Bomber Command
Bomber Command
Bomber Command is an organizational military unit, generally subordinate to the air force of a country. Many countries have a "Bomber Command", although the most famous ones were in Britain and the United States. A Bomber Command is generally used for Strategic bombing , and is composed of bombers...

's Operational Research Section to ensure that the deception was authentic. It is to the credit of the pilots and navigators of 218 Squadron that the German shore batteries actually opened fire on the "ghost" fleet that they created. The German 2nd Panzer Division and 116th Panzer Division remained at the Pas de Calais for at least fourteen days after the invasion.

In December 1944 it moved to Chedburgh
Chedburgh is a village and civil parish in the St Edmundsbury district of Suffolk in eastern England. Located on the A143 around five miles south-west of Bury St Edmunds, in 2005 its population was 650....

 as a transport unit. It ceased wartime operations in May 1945, just before the German surrender. Afterwards, it began performing a number of relief efforts in Europe, ranging from rescuing POWs to transporting food and other supplies.

218 Squadron's awards include a Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 awarded posthumously to Flight Sergeant Arthur Louis Aaron
Arthur Louis Aaron
Arthur Louis Aaron VC DFM was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces....

 for his "most conspicuous bravery" during a raid on Turin
Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 909,193 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat...

 on 12/13 August 1943. Despite his aircraft being badly damaged and suffering casualties, he brought his aircraft in to land at Bone, Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

 now Annaba
Annaba is a city in the northeastern corner of Algeria near the river Seybouse. It is located in Annaba Province. With a population of 257,359 , it is the fourth largest city in Algeria. It is a leading industrial centre in eastern Algeria....

 airfield in North Africa where he later died of wounds.

Post War

The unit was linked to No. 115 Squadron RAF
No. 115 Squadron RAF
No. 115 Squadron RAF was a Royal Air Force squadron during World War I. It was then equipped with Handley Page O/400 heavy bombers. During World War II the squadron served as a bomber squadron and after the war it flew in a similar role till 1958, when it was engaged as a radio calibration unit...

 between February 1949 and March 1950 and also for the period June 1950 and June 1957.

The squadron was reformed - as 218(SM) Sqn. - on 1 December 1959 as one of 20 Strategic Missile (SM) squadrons associated with Project Emily
Project Emily
Project Emily was the deployment of American-built PGM-17 Thor Intermediate-range ballistic missiles in the United Kingdom between 1959 and 1963....

. The squadron was equipped with three Thor
PGM-17 Thor
Thor was the first operational ballistic missile of the U.S. Air Force . Named after the Norse god of thunder, it was deployed in the United Kingdom between 1959 and September 1963 as an intermediate range ballistic missile with thermonuclear warheads. Thor was in height and in diameter. It was...

 Intermediate range ballistic missiles, and based at RAF Harrington
RAF Harrington
RAF Harrington is a former World War II airfield in England. The field is located west of Kettering in Northamptonshire south of the village of Harrington across the B576 road, now the A14.-USAAF use:...

 in Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire is a landlocked county in the English East Midlands, with a population of 629,676 as at the 2001 census. It has boundaries with the ceremonial counties of Warwickshire to the west, Leicestershire and Rutland to the north, Cambridgeshire to the east, Bedfordshire to the south-east,...


In October 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis
Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation among the Soviet Union, Cuba and the United States in October 1962, during the Cold War...

, the squadron was kept at full readiness, with the missiles aimed at strategic targets in the USSR.

The squadron was disbanded on 23 August 1963, with the termination of the Thor Program in Britain.
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