No. 30 Squadron RAF

Number 30 Squadron of the Royal Air Force operated the second generation Lockheed Martin Hercules C4/C5 from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire. As of 2018, it is no longer on the RAF's list of squadrons or on RAF Brize Norton's list of squadrons.[3][4]

No. 30 Squadron RAF
Squadron badge
Active24 March 1915 – 1 April 1918 (RFC)
1 April 1918 – 1 April 1946 (RAF)
1 November 1947 – 6 September 1967
10 June 1968 – 8 December 2016[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
BranchAir Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Air Force
TypeFlying squadron
RoleTactical air transport
Part ofNo. 2 Group
Home stationRAF Brize Norton
Motto(s)Ventre a terre
(French for 'All out')[2]
Battle honours * Honours marked with an asterisk may be emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
Squadron badge heraldryA date palm tree, signifying the squadron's long service in the Middle East. Approved by King George VI in May 1938.


First World WarEdit

No. 30 Squadron was formed for service at Moascar in Egypt on 24 March 1915 (1915-03-24), but was not allocated aircraft until seven months later when a detachment flew out from Farnborough. Initially the squadron consisted of a single flight of BE2s at Ismailia Airfield.[5][6]

On 24 August 1915, the Mesopotamian Half Flight, a unit of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) stationed in Mesopotamia (Iraq) was formally attached to 30 Sqn. For several months the Half-Flight, under Captain Henry Petre, had been flying operations in support of the Indian Army, against Turkish ground forces, during the Mesopotamian campaign. In early 1915, the Australian Government received a request for assistance for air support from the British Government of India. The AFC was still in its infancy and could only provide enough aircrews and ground staff for half a flight. All aircraft were to be provided by the Indian Government. Captain Henry Petre was appointed commander, before the half-flight sailed for Bombay. The Australians were augmented by personnel from the Indian Army and New Zealand.[7]

On 20 April, the half-flight left India for Mesopotamia (Iraq) to provide air support to Indian and British troops against the Ottoman Empire (Turkey).[8]

Upon its arrival in Basra on 26 May, the half-flight took delivery of two Maurice Farman Shorthorns and a Maurice Farman Longhorn.[9] These three biplanes were already obsolete and of a "pusher" design, so-called because the propeller faced backwards behind the cockpit. In particular, they were not suitable for desert conditions: their top speed was only 50 mph (80 km/h), while the wind (known locally as the shamal) often reached 80 mph (129 km/h). Secondly, the warmer air reduced aerodynamic lift, rendering the Farmans unable to take off on some occasions. In addition, the Longhorn was a second-hand aircraft with persistent mechanical problems, meaning that it spent many hours undergoing maintenance.

Nevertheless, the half-flight was immediately put to use on reconnaissance missions. Shortly afterwards, the Indian Army captured the town of Amarah, and the half-flight moved there on 9 June.

On 4 July, the half-flight's equipment was augmented with two Caudron G.3 aircraft, which were still not up-to-date, but generally preferred to the Farmans. On 30 July, one of the Caudrons was forced to land in enemy territory due to mechanical problems. It was later reported that the crew — Lieutenants George Pinnock Merz and W. W. A. Burn (a New Zealander) — were killed by armed civilians in a running gun battle, over several miles. They were Australia's first military aviation casualties. The main body of 30 Sqn remained in Egypt for several weeks.

During September, the obsolescent Maurice Farmans operated by the Australians were supplemented by three Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) Short 827 floatplanes and their crews, under Squadron Commander Robert Gordon. Because the Tigris river was too shallow for the seaplanes to use at that time of year, they were converted into wheeled aircraft. On 27 September, Kut was captured and the Half-Flight moved there.

In October, four BE2c and their RFC crews arrived in Mesopotamia. With the Australians they were designated "B" Flight of 30 Sqn.

The flight suffered an increasing number of losses with at least two crews being taken prisoner, after being shot down or suffering engine failure. The Indian Army met with stiff opposition outside Baghdad, and were forced back to Kut on 4 December, where the city was besieged. Ottoman forces eventually broke through and nine Australian ground staff from the half-flight became prisoners of war. Like the rest of the Allied POWs, AFC personnel taken prisoner in Mesopotamia endured a punishing forced march to Turkey proper and only four of them survived captivity.

Westland Wapiti Mk.IIa J9409 of No. 30 Squadron flying over Mosul, Iraq, in 1932.

By 7 December, Petre was the only Australian airman remaining in Mesopotamia, left No. 30 Squadron and flew the only remaining Shorthorn to Egypt. He and it were incorporated into the first full squadron to be formed by the Australian Flying Corps: No. 1 Squadron AFC.

After breaking out of Kut, Allied forces met with stiff opposition outside Baghdad, and were forced back to Kut on 4 December, where they were again besieged. Ottoman forces eventually broke through and nine AFC ground staff became prisoners of war. Like the rest of the Allied POWs, they endured a punishing forced march to Turkey and only four of them survived captivity.

In April 1916, the squadron carried out one of the earliest air supply mission when it air-dropped food and other supplies to the garrison at Kut which was besieged by the Turks.[10]

The rest of 30 Sqn carried out bombing and reconnaissance missions until the end of the war with a variety of aircraft including SPADs, DH-4s and RE.8s.

1920s & 1930sEdit

In 1919 the squadron was sent to Iran as part of the Norperforce.[11] This was followed by a posting to Iraq, for which it was re-equipped with DH.9As but by 1929 these in turn had been replaced by Westland Wapitis followed by Hawker Hardys (a tropicalised, general purpose version of the Hawker Hart light bomber) in 1935 and Blenheim Is in 1938.[6]

Second World WarEdit

Republic Thunderbolt Mk. II HD298 of No. 30 Squadron taking off from Chittagong, 1944.

In August 1939, as war loomed, the squadron moved back to RAF Ismailia in Egypt and carried out escort missions in the Western Desert and provided fighter defence of Alexandria.[12][13][a] In November 1940, it was sent to Greece to operate its Blenheims in both the bomber and fighter roles, but in March 1941 the squadron was redesignated a fighter unit. After the fall of Greece and the Battle of Crete the squadron returned to Egypt and was re-equipped with Hawker Hurricanes and employed on night defence of Alexandria and shipping protection patrols before moving on to operations in the Western Desert.[14][15]

When the situation in the Far East worsened the squadron was ordered to reinforce allied forces in Java, but by the time the squadron left Egypt, Java, had already fallen, and the squadron was ferried by the aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable to Ceylon arriving on 6 March 1942, just in time to assist in resisting the Japanese carrier strike against the island.[16] This raid took place on 5 April 1942 with 21 aircraft being launched from its base at RAF Ratmalana whilst under heavy fire from Japanese aircraft. Seven of the squadron's Hurricanes were lost, with five of its pilots being killed or dying later of wounds received during the battle. It claimed 14 Japanese aircraft shot down, together with six probably destroyed and five damaged, out of a total claim for the whole of the island's defences of 24 shot down, 7 probables and 9 damaged. In fact, the Japanese lost seven aircraft, with a further 15 damaged.[17][18]

In February 1944, it moved to the Burma front flying escort and ground attack missions and in May 1944 was re-equipped with American Republic P-47 Thunderbolts, which it took back into action in October until May 1945.[19]


Vickers Valetta C.1 VW838 of No. 30 Squadron at Manchester Airport in 1953.

After the Japanese surrender the squadron remained in India and its Thunderbolts were replaced by Hawker Tempest F Mk 2s in March 1946. No. 30 Squadron lost its aircraft on 1 December 1946, before being disbanded on 1 April 1947 at Agra.[20]

On 24 November 1947 the squadron was reformed at RAF Oakington, Cambridgeshire in the transport role, operating as a unit within the Royal Air Force Transport Command. It flew the Dakota on many humanitarian supply flights during the Berlin Airlift. Re-equipment with the Vickers Valetta came in December 1950. The heavier four-engine Blackburn Beverley was flown between April 1957 and September 1967. From November 1959 30 Squadron operated out of RAF Eastleigh in Kenya before moving on to RAF Muharraq in October 1964.[21]

Lockheed Hercules (1968–2016)Edit

The Squadron temporarily disbanded in September 1967 but quickly reformed at RAF Fairford in June 1968 equipped with turbine-propeller powered Lockheed Hercules transports, maintaining the units transport role. the squadron moved to RAF Lyneham in September 1971.[9]

Lockheed Martin Hercules C5 ZH883 of No. 30 Squadron in flight, 2007.

The RAF transport fleet is in a period of flux and the Hercules C4/C5 fleet is a major part of this. The RAF ordered 25 of the aircraft with first deliveries in 1999.[citation needed]

During 2008 'A' flight was based at RAF Al Udeid with the Hercules C.4.[22]

The first generation Hercules C1/C3 fleet is due to be replaced by 25 Airbus A400Ms at which time RAF Lyneham closed. This will see RAF's transport aircraft concentrated at RAF Brize Norton with the C-17 and tanker fleets.[citation needed]

No. 30 Squadron flew its last Hercules flight on 8 December 2016.[1] It was believed it may reform on the Airbus Atlas, but this has not happened so far.

Aircraft operatedEdit

Battle honoursEdit

On the squadron standard

Egypt, 1915: Mesopotamia, 1915–1918: Egypt & Libya, 1940–1942: Greece 1940–1941, Mediterranean, 1940–1941, Ceylon April, 1942: Arakan, 1944: Burma 1944–45


Iraq, 1919–1920: North West Persia, 1920: Kurdistan, 1922–1924: Iraq, 1923–1925: Iraq, 1928–1929: Kurdistan, 1930–1931: Northern Kurdistan, 1932: Gulf, 1991: Afghanistan, 2001–2014: Iraq, 2003–2011: Libya, 2011


There is a Royal Air Force (RAF) memorial in Crete to the airmen of 30 and 33 Squadrons who died during the Battle of Crete. The memorial is located (35°31′31″N 23°49′43″E / 35.525363°N 23.828619°E / 35.525363; 23.828619) behind the roadside hedge between Maleme and Tavronitis overlooking the (35°31′36″N 23°49′32″E / 35.526625°N 23.825604°E / 35.526625; 23.825604)[23] Iron Bridge across the Tavronitis River and the end of Maleme Airport runway.

Another memorial was unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire in September 2008.[24][25] The stone is emblazoned with the squadron's battle honours on the reverse side.



  1. ^ Some of its Blenheims had been converted to Blenheim If long-range fighter configuration, with an under fuselage gun pack.[13]


  1. ^ a b "No 30 Squadron". Air of Authority. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  2. ^ Pine, L.G. (1983). A dictionary of mottoes (1 ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 247. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X.
  3. ^ Royal Air Force (21 December 2018). "RAF Squadrons". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  4. ^ Royal Air Force Station Brize Norton (21 December 2018). "RAF Brize Norton". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  5. ^ Lake 1999, p. 201.
  6. ^ a b Ashworth 1989, p. 96.
  7. ^ Warner, Guy (2010). "Only a sideshow? The RFC and RAF in Mesopotamia 1914-1918". Royal Air Force Historical Society. High Wycombe: Royal Air Force (48): 9–10. ISSN 1361-4231.
  8. ^ "RAF - 30 Squadron". Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  9. ^ a b Halley 1985, p. 61.
  10. ^ Halley 1985, p. 60.
  11. ^ Cecil John Edmonds (2009), East and West of Zagros, Brill Academic Publishers, OCLC 593346009, OL 25432016M
  12. ^ Halley 1985, pp. 60-61.
  13. ^ a b Shores, Massimello & Guest 2012, p. 16.
  14. ^ Ashworth 1989, pp. 96-101.
  15. ^ Shores, Massimello & Guest 2012, p. 310.
  16. ^ Shores, Cull & Izawa 1993, pp. 385–387.
  17. ^ "Early day motion 502 - No. 30 SQUADRON RAF AND THE BATTLE OF CEYLON". UK Parliament. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  18. ^ Shores, Cull & Izawa 1993, pp. 395–397, 401–404.
  19. ^ Ashworth 1989, p. 101.
  20. ^ Lake 1999, p. 202.
  21. ^ Fairbarn 1991, pp. 55-56.
  22. ^ Cotter 2008, p. 34.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Memorial listing | National Memorial Arboretum". Archived from the original on 4 April 2016. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  25. ^ "30 Squadron RAF Memorials of Past Campaigns and Incidents". Retrieved 20 July 2017.


  • Ashworth, Chris (1989). Encyclopaedia of Modern Royal Air Force Squadrons. Wellingborough: Patrick Stephens. ISBN 1-85260-013-6.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
  • Cotter, Jarrod (2008). Royal Air Force celebrating 90 years. Stamford, UK: Key Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-0-946219-11-7.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
  • Everidge, J. (1920). History of No. 30 Squadron. Finsbury Park, London: Macaire, Mould & Co for the Squadron.
  • Fairbarn, Tony (1991). Action Stations Overseas. Yeovil: Patrick Stephens. ISBN 1-85260-319-4.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
  • Halley, James J (1985). The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force (2 ed.). Tonbridge: Air-Britain. ISBN 0-85130-083-9.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
  • Hamlin, John F. Flatout – The Story of 30 Squadron Royal Air Force. Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 2002. ISBN 0-85130-308-0.
  • Lake, Alan (1999). Flying Units of the RAF. Shrewsbury: Airlife. ISBN 1-84037-086-6.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
  • de Normann, Roderick (November–December 1996). "Mespot Squadron: No 30 Squadron in Mespotamia 1916–1917". Air Enthusiast. No. 66. Stamford, Lincs, UK: Key Publishing. ISSN 0143-5450.
  • Shores, Christopher (2005). Air War For Burma: The Allied Air Forces Fight Back in South-East Asia 1942–1945. London: Grub Street. ISBN 1-904010-95-4.
  • Shores, Christopher; Cull, Brian; Izawa, Yasuho (1993). Bloody Shambles: Volume Two: The Defence of Sumatra to the Fall of Burma. London: Grub Street. ISBN 0-948817-67-4.
  • Shores, Christopher; Massimello, Giovanni; Guest, Russell (2012). A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940–1945: Volume One: North Africa: June 1940 – January 1942. London: Grub Street. ISBN 978-1-908117-07-6.
  • "Sqn Histories 26–30". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. Archived from the original on 18 March 2012.
  • Tennant, Lieutenant Colonel J. E. In the Clouds above Baghdad. London: Cecil Palmer, 1920.

External linksEdit