208 Squadron

Unit history

No. 208 Squadron was formed, as such, in April, 1918, on the formation of the Royal Air Force. The Squadron, at the time of its formation was serving in France, and prior to its birth as No. 208 Squadron, it bore the number plate of No. 8 Squadron RNAS. Sir Geoffrey Bromet was the Squadron’s first Commanding Officer when it was No. 8 Squadron RNAS. In September, 1919, the Squadron returned to RAF Netheravon where it was disbanded, only to re-form again at Ismailia, Egypt, in February, 1920. From then until it disbanded once again, in early 1957, the Squadron served in the Middle East. During this period the Squadron was called upon to serve in many areas of operations which included, during World War II—North Africa, Greece, Palestine, and Italy. Before, and after, World War II, the Squadron saw service in Egypt, Turkey, Palestine, Cyprus, Jordan and Malta.

No. 208 Squadron was one of the first operational squadrons to serve in the Middle East and was the last fighter squadron to leave the Canal Zone in Egypt. During the years 1920 to 1957, the Squadron operated in a variety of roles and with a varied selection of aircraft. Although the Squadron was disbanded in early 1957, it was re-formed again at Tangmere, Sussex, in January, 1958. In March of that year, the Squadron, now equipped with Hunter F.6 aircraft, once more left the United Kingdom for service overseas — destination Cyprus. The Squadron Standard was presented to No. 208 Squadron on November 18, 1955, by Air Vice-Marshal Sir Geoffrey Bromet, KBE, CB, DSO (Retired) at Royal Air Force, Abu Sueir, Egypt.

For many years, 8 Squadron had met all Middle East Command calls for air support and ground attack and its size increased in line with the workload until it had reached the optimum size for such a squadron; sixteen Venom FB.4s and four Meteor FR.9s. Revised operational plans now called for a second ground attack squadron. In January 1959 a number of Hunter pilots were posted to Khormaksar to reformed 142 Squadron but they were soon transferred to Eastleigh in Kenya where a sufficient number of Venom FB.4s were stored in the MU. Flying commenced in February of that year. In March 1959, 208 Squadron disbanded and on 1 April, 142 Squadron was renumbered 208, still flying Venoms out of Eastleigh. This situation continued until May 1960 when the last Venoms were withdrawn and broken up. Shortly before that, in April 1960, the unit’s pilots had been flown back to RAF Stradishall to collect twelve ‘new’ Hunter FGA.9s and a T.7. These were flown out to Kenya on 1, 2, and 3 June 1960 and were operated mainly out of the civilian airport at Embakasi in support of No. 24 Brigade. Second line servicing was carried out at Eastleigh. After a year in Kenya, 208 Squadron moved up to assist No. 8 Squadron in the protection of Kuwait in July 1961, moving to its new home base at Khormaksar once the crisis in the tiny oil-rich state was over. Here the squadron remained until May 1964 when it departed Aden for the sanctity of RAF Muharraq.

Due to the Squadron’s long association with the Middle East, the Squadron Crest depicts the Sphinx, and is a reproduction of the Sphinx at Gizeh in Egypt. The motto of the Squadron is “Vigilant” and Squadron colours are pale blue and yellow the blue for the sky, and the yellow for the sands of the desert.

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