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Short History of No 112 Squadron - by kind permission of the Defence Public
Relations RAF Internet and Roger Lindsay's Extrract from Cold War Shield Vol 2.

                      Short History of No. 112 Squadron.
     Motto: Swift in destruction
     Badge: A cat sejant.
     No. 112 Squadron was formed on 30 July 1917 as a home defence unit at Throwley 
for the defence of the London area.   Day and night interceptions were flown against 
enemy bombers until the end of the war, the Squadron being disbanded on 13 June 1919.

     On 16 May 1939, No. 112 reformed aboard the aircraft carrier 'Argus' at Southampton 
for transportation to the Middle east, arriving in Egypt ten days later.   Gladiators 
were received in June 39 and when Italy joined the war a year later the Squadron flew 
fighter patrols over the Western Desert.   In January 1941 No. 112 moved to Greece to 
provide air defence and fly offensive patrols over Albania.   When the Germans invaded
Greece the Squadron provided fighter cover for the Athens area until evacuated first to 
Crete and then back to Egypt.   In July 1941 No. 112 was re-equipped with Tomahawks for 
fighter sweeps over the desert and then the Squadron received Kittyhawks in December 
1941 beginning fighter-bomber missions in May 1942.   The Squadron provided support for 
the 8th Army during their campaign in the Western Desert and after the Allied victory at 
El Alamein No. 112 was moved to Tunisia.   In July 1943 the Squadron was moved to Sicily 
and on to Italy in September 43 receiving Mustangs in June 1944.   No. 112 provided air 
support for the Allied armies in Italy for the rest of the war and after a period of 
occupation duties in northern Italy, the Squadron disbanded on 30 December 1946.

     112 Squadron reformed at Fassberg on 12 May 1951 and was actually issued with its
first Vampire FB.5, VV687, on 6 April 51, more than a month before it officially existed.
This was because of the influx of Vampires needed not only for 112 but also for another
new squadron No.118, together with Nos.14 and 98 Sqns already at the base. In fact 112
was little more than a cadre initially, with the first officer to join the squadron,
Fg Off W.G. Holmes, only arriving on 12 May 51, and the CO, Sqn Ldr Ian D. Bolton, DFC on
the 24th May 51, while by the end of the month aircraft strength stood at the single
Meteor T.7 and 6 of the planned 8 Vampires which remained the UE for more than a year.

     In June and July 51 the training programme was initiated with only 54 ground crew
and 7 pilots, one of whom was Plt Off Keith Williamson, fresh from his graduation at
Cranwell, who was destined to have a long and momentous career, rising to become the
Chief of Air Staff, as Marshal of the RAF. Battle Flight was established and in
September 51 the squadron detached to Sylt for its first APC where they were visited by
the C-in-C, 2TAF, AM Sir Robert Foster, KCB, CBE, DFC. With heavy hearts 112 left
Fassberg for RAF Jever on 7 March 1952 which was to be its home for more than a year
and where its first few days were spent flying local sector familiarisation sorties.
On 16 April 1952 it went on another APC to Sylt, where it obtained average scores of 7.6%
against flag targets towed at 180 knots and 8.9% at 220 knots, before returning to
Jever on 15 May 1952. Three days earlier two French Air Force NCO Vampire pilots were
attached to the squadron for a couple of months training under a scheme intended to
widen their experience, and on 20 May 1952 112 flew to Twenthe on an exchange with 326
Sqdn R.Neth.AF with ground crews and support travelling in Dutch Dakotas. During
their brief stay at Twenthe 112 Sqn maintained its Battle Flight alert duties,
although only 4 of their Vampires were scrambled, on the 23rd. 'Blackie', the
squadron's Labrador dog mascot, also took part in the Dutch detachment, but did
the journey by road rather than Dakota!

     From 23-26 June '52 the squadron played its part as interceptors during June
Primer when good serviceability allowed 7 of their 8 Vampires to be in action, the
highlights being the successful interception of 10 USAF B-50s flying at 27,000ft,
and later tackling three of the giant American B-36 bombers at low-level. In the
same month Fg Off Holmes was posted to 77 Sqn RAAF to fly Meteors in Korea, much
to the envy of his squadron colleagues because only a relatively small number of
RAF pilots were chosen to fly combat missions in Korea with either the Australians
or the Americans.

     At this time 112 was notified that its UE was to be doubled to 16, but instead
of the anticipated brand-new FB.9s there was dismay that the extra Vampires were FB.5s
formerly used by 26 Sqn and among the oldest in the command, at least one of which was
described as 'a very antiquated specimen' by Flt Lt D.A.Blair, the Flt Cdr who
collected it. RP practice featured in preparation for a deployment to the UK prior to
which the squadron planned to send 5 Vampires to Wahn between 12 /13 July 1952 as a
contribution to the big NATO flypast over Brussels, however, during take-off from Wahn
on the 13th July 1952 WA343 flown by Plt Off Jonklass hit the slipstream of a preceding Vampire
causing loss of control, resulting in a bad crash in which the aircraft was written
off, though thankfully without harm to the pilot. This was the first aircraft lost
by the squadron since reformation but tragically it was not the last. The next day,
14 July '52 the squadron flew en masse to RAF Odiham for a two-week UK detachment,
in good weather, that saw participation in ground support sorties for the Army in
Wales, under the exercise name of Cats Whisker on 23 July 1952. Sadly a fatal accident
occurred on the 27th July 1952 when Plt Off Colin Robert Donaldson, 20, was flying No.2 to
Keith Williamson during a dogfight with Meteors from Odiham at about 7,000ft, when
he appeared to lose control. His Vampire, WA283, dived vertically, seeming to make
an unauthorised mock attack on an Avro Anson communications aircraft flying at
1,300ft, and never pulled out, crashing 2 miles from Haywards Heath in Sussex.
Three days later, somewhat subdued by this accident, the squadron returned to Jever.

     The autumn air exercises occupied the squadron in the closing months of the year
together with more weapons practice, but the new year brought a variation to the usual
training when 112's Vampires were enlisted to take part in some taxying and take-off
and landing trials on PSP (perforated steel plate) runways at RAF Butzweilerhof from
29 January '53. On the same day, a new arrival on the squadron, Fg Off A.J.A.Sagar in
WA114, had run out of fuel and baled out near a pumping station at Maaseik in the
Netherlands. The reason he was short of fuel was because he had inadvertently left
his flaps down! The PSP runway trials proved to be very hard on tyres and wheels
causing replacement of both during the several weeks of the trials and among those
assigned to record the effects was RAF photographer John Beaumont who recalled his
time with 112.

          "The squadron had been at Jever for about 10 months before I arrived, and
          the work was routine until we were detached to Butzweilerhof for the
          testing of take-offs and landings on PSP, which was combined with the
          squadron's normal duties. In my time there were about six squadron
          detachments, and we never seemed to settle on home ground for very long.
          The detachment to Filton in the spring of '53 was memorable because some
          of the lads, self included, had a weekend pass and hitched a lift to
          Heathrow on one of the BOAC Boeing Stratocruisers that were being
          spruced up in readiness for the Queen's Coronation in June. It wasn't
          as large a detachment as some, although we took all necessary equipment
          which was transported there and back, together with ground crew, in a

     Meanwhile on 17 March 1953 during a practice for the impending visit by HRH the
Duke of Edinburgh, Fg Off R.A.Hancock had an engine problem in VZ115, misjudged
his approach, and passed the runway caravan going in the wrong direction at about
200 knots. The aircraft disintegrated in the resulting crash on Jever airfield and
Hancock was lucky to survive with little more than a broken arm. Soon after, on 1
April 1953, during a detachment to Odiham, another Vampire, WA233, was lost while on an
air test when the fuel pressure warning light came on about 6 miles from base when
the aircraft was at 2,000ft. The cockpit filled with smoke as the pilot, 26-year-old
Flt Lt B.R.A.Cox, headed for the airfield where he overflew the control tower which
reported seeing flames coming from the belly of his aircraft; on the downwind leg
the pilot felt the engine die as all the instruments failed including the radio,
and he was unable to lower the flaps or undercarriage and therefore made a
wheels-up emergency landing beside the runway where the aircraft burned out.
Flt Lt Cox was later commended for his coolness during this alarming incident.

     Another APC detachment to Sylt began in May 1953 and lasted a month; John
Beaumont remembered it well:

          "The weather was perfect, flaming June as I clearly remember and conditions
          were ideal. We worked alternate 12 hour shifts from noon to noon allowing
          good opportunities to relax on the beaches, many of us indulging in the
          novelty of stripping off for the first time. The nearby resort of
          Westerland was popular with German families, and one of the beaches, the
          Abyssinia, was reserved for nudist bathing. There were two photographers
          on the squadron and our work was to load and unload the G45 cameras,
          keeping a record of the pilot, aircraft, and time of each sortie, after
          which the film was developed and delivered to the aircrew room as soon
          as possible for debriefing. It was always screened in its negative
          state, adequate for assessing results, because to print it would have
          taken valuable time and added unwanted complications".

     For some weeks it had been known that 112 was to relocate from Jever and this
began on 1 July 1953 when the advance party loaded the pack wagons and set out for
the barely completed airfield at Bruggen, one of the new NATO 'clutch' airfields
sited between the rivers Rhine and Maas, close to the Dutch border. In the next
few days the move was completed with the squadron's aircraft arriving on 6 July 53
when the pilots were delighted to discover that the runway length, at 2,700 yards,
was considerably larger than that at Jever. The new base made a favourable
impression on everyone, including John Beaumont:

          "Bruggen was brand new and 112 was the first to occupy it, with the
          well-equipped main photographic section run by a Cpl Saxby. There
          were good facilities for spare time activities that the station
          commander encouraged, even photographic competitions (but no horse
          riding which I had enjoyed at Jever). However, the perimeter fences
          had not been completed, making it easier and quicker to bypass the
          Guardroom and nip over to the Gasthof, (run by the Noltes and their
          son Herman and daughter Sophie) near the Elmpt border post - until
          the SPs got wise and did spot check patrols. I remember being hustled
          into the ladies' loo by Herman Nolte on one occasion until he gave
          the all clear.

          Within three weeks of arriving at Bruggen we were off on another
          detachment to Florennes, near Dinant, Belgium for exercise Coronet,
          shared with the Celle wing. It was the height of summer, we were
          under canvas and it was very uncomfortable because the weather was
          either hot or very wet making working conditions most difficult at
          times. The latrines were open plan dug-outs surrounded by a canvas
          screen and not user-friendly because of the abundance of stinging
          nettles. The washing facilities were spartan to say the least. We
          were warned not to attempt to bathe in the nearby lake because of
          the pollution caused by the numerous, submerged, decaying bodies
          remaining from the war".

     Preparatory to taking part in the exercise, which began on July 53, the
squadron had taken advantage of the new air/ground weapons range at Monschau
for some practice, which was put to good use during Coronet when simulated
strikes were made on the French airfields Rheims and Laon, the latter
containing USAF F-84s and A,26 Invaders. On the 27th the squadron's Vampires
had what was described as 'an enjoyable fight with F-86s', and on the 30th
the Vampires intercepted some Varsity navigational' trainers from Flying
Training Command that were operating as enemy bombers, and had the
satisfaction of claiming five of them as shot down. Having logged 124
sorties during the exercise 112 returned home to the luxury of Bruggen next

     In August some of the pilots were posted to become the nucleus of the
newly established No.130 Squadron which formed at Bruggen on the first day
of the month, also equipped with Vampires. In September 53 the squadron took
part in another exercise, Monte Carlo, and in November 53 returned to Sylt for
APC, by which time it was known that the squadron would be re-equipped with
Sabres, this desire being reflected in the squadron's Christmas card message
'All we want for Christmas is our wings swept back'. Also while at Sylt in
November 53 the new CO, Sqn Ldr Frank M. Hegarty, AFC had taken over, and had
begun to organise lectures and ground school for the new Sabres while
arranging for the ferrying away of the Vampires after their return to
Bruggen on 18 December 53. The first Sabre for 112 arrived on 29 December
'53 and on the same day 4 Vampires were ferried away to 19 MU. More Sabres
arrived and 'A' Flt pilots began the conversion course with the SCU but for
several weeks both types were operated, until the final Vampire, WA331 'A',
formerly assigned to the CO, departed on 21 April 53.


     In their original overall Aluminium silver finish when the squadron
reformed in 1951 it's Vampires carried the 2TAF unit identity letter 'T'
in black aft of the fuselage roundel with the individual aircraft letter
ahead of the roundel, also repeated in black on the nose wheel door, eg
VV687 T-C, WA337 T-G. A little later the Fassberg lightning flash in
seen was added on each side of the nose, and a small squadron badge
superimposed on the centre of the flash, and at the same time the fin
bullets were painted green, eg WA372 T-H, WF586 T-B. The CO's aircraft,
WA331 T-A was later further embellished by having the entire fins and
rudders painted green, on which a large white disc was added to the
outer surface containing the black 'Helwan Cat' motif from the unit
badge; the wing tips were also painted green as were the code letters
on the fuselage, and the Sqdn Ldr's pennant was applied on each side
of the nose below the cockpit. With the move to Jever in '52 and the
introduction of camouflage the Fassberg flash was removed from the nose
of the Vampires but the markings initially remained otherwise unchanged.
However, in November '51, before the squadron moved, consideration was
given to the idea of reintroducing shark's teeth markings which had been
a feature of 112 Sqn's P-40 Kittyhawk fighters in the Western Desert
during World War II. This idea may have been suggested by Flt Lt Robbie
Robinson who had recently arrived as a Flight Commander and who had
flown with the squadron during the war. The finalised design was
positioned beneath the Vampire's nose and comprised red lips, white
teeth, and black interior to the mouth, with the addition of a red,
black, and white eye on each side of the nose above the shark's teeth.
With the move to Bruggen in July '53 the squadron code 'T' was
changed to 'A'; eg of camouflaged aircraft included: WA372 T-H (no
sharks teeth), VX462 A-G, WA144 A-U, WA235 A-L (all with shark's teeth).

     Sabres were flown until
Hunters arrived in May 1956.

     On 31 May 1957, the Squadron disbanded but was reformed again
on 1 August 1960 at Church Fenton as a Bloodhound ground-to-air missile
unit.   The Squadron later moved to its operational base of Breighton
but was disbanded on 31 March 1964 only to be reformed on the 2 November
1964 with Bloodhound 2s, moving to Cyprus in October 1967 where it
disbanded on 1 July 1975.

112sqnpic037.jpg, 3404 bytes

A de Havilland Vampire FB Mk 5 in 112 Squadron markings