After World War II
Pilots continued to become tour-ex; although no longer at war, mapping sorties were considered to
be operational missions, and finally the CO, Sqn Ldr Harris St.John received his posting, leaving on
the 21st. He handed command of 4 Sqn over to Flt Lt Ogilvie, who was to act as a caretaker until the
arrival of the new CO; something in fact which was never to happen.
Fulfilling all expectations, the weather closed in on the 21st, and the Hague flypast had to be
Another, final, move was in the offing, this time to B-118, Celle, in occupied Germany. The wing
commenced movement on the 28th, after a "display of strength" over the airfield.
Celle, being a former operational Luftwaffe base, was a shambles. The buildings were all
suffering from varying degrees of bomb damage, and the airfield was littered with wrecked German
aircraft. The first priority was to clear up the mess. The first week of June was devoted to this,
and eventually flying could recommence on the 8th. Sharing Celle with 4 Sqn were their old friends
2 Sqn and as their roles were very similar, opportunity was taken to do some familiarisation flying
on each others aircraft. No. 2 Sqn were currently operating the Spitfire FR.XIV, a more powerful,
Griffin engined variant. On a more serious note, there were real fears of a possible German
resistance movement, and lectures on anti-terrorist measures were given to all personnel. Although
the war was over the base was to be kept on a war footing for the foreseeable future.
The next three months were spent on an aerial survey of Germany and formation practices for
flypasts, which were invariably cancelled. Pilots continued to become tour-ex and were posted back to
the UK. Flt Lt Ogilvie retained command of the Squadron and there was no news of a new CO. Finally in
mid-August 4 Sqn received the news that it was to disband.
With a recurrence of hostilities highly unlikely the RAF was reducing the large forces at its
disposal on the continent, and judged that only one recce squadron was required. These were to be 2
Sqn and 16 Sqn. To give 2 Sqn some high-altitude capability, 4 Sqn was to be absorbed into 2 Sqn as
the High-Altitude PR Flight. It was thought that this measure would keep old friends together, at
least until they were demobbed, but with the rate of change of personnel over the last few months,
4 Sqn was virtually a different entity from what it had been even three months previously.
Accordingly on 31 August 1945, 4 Sqn disbanded, so bringing to an end an unbroken career
stretching over twenty-six years.
Shortly after VE day the Squadron was disbanded, but on 31 August 1945 No.605 Squadron was
renumbered No.IV (AC) Squadron; the role of the Squadron changed from Photographic Reconnaissance to
Light Bomber. It was in this role that the Squadron celebrated its first peacetime New Year at
Gutersloh. With its new home came a new aircraft, the Mosquito FB VI.
The transition from war to peace saw the departure of many members who had served together
throughout the war, as demobilisation got under way. To quote the Operations Record Book for May 1946
"So many old friends have gone and so many new faces appeared this month, that the old place seems
quite different". New faces, however, were not arriving in sufficient numbers to replace the old ones
and, for a year, the Squadron's numbers continued to be depleted. Nevertheless, training in its new
role continued satisfactorily.
In September 1947, the Squadron sent four aircraft to Udine in Italy to join a detachment which
was to cover the evacuation of British troops from Pola, a town at the southern extremity of the
Istrian peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. The peninsula was to be handed over to Yugoslavia, and Pola
was to be evacuated by the British as a result. The impatient Yugoslavs however, moved in overnight
prior to the agreed date of handover which necessitated a more rapid exit by the British garrison
than had been anticipated. The evacuation was a success in spite of this, and all troops embarked on
Royal Navy ships without major incident. Instead of covering the evacuation, the detachment formed
part of a formation of twelve aircraft which flew over Trieste, still a British responsibility, where
rioting had broken out. This show of force, flown at first light on 16 September, was to continue
throughout the day and until the following day when the situation was brought under control. The
Detachment left Italy on 18 September for Gutersloh.
After two years at Gutersloh it was time to move again, this time to Wahn. Life during the
immediate post-war years was fairly leisurely. The training included air-to-air and air-to-ground
firing, low-level navigation, formation practice and participation in both Army and Air Force
exercises. The Squadron trained hard, but there was still time for sport and visits to Army units
nearby. Also, National Servicemen were now swelling the ranks of both aircrew and groundcrew, albeit
On 18 September 1949 the Squadron flew to its new base at Celle where it was to remain for less
than a year before moving to Wunstorf on 10 July 1950. The Squadron, almost immediately after
arriving, started converting to Vampire FB V's. Although the aircraft changed, the role had not and
the high serviceability rate of the Vampire impressed everybody, particularly on exercises.
The Squadron's last move was to Jever where it arrived on 1 March 1952. The last few months at
Wunstorf had seen new pilots arriving and an intensive period of training was undertaken in order to
qualify them as Section Leaders.
One of the proudest days in No.IV(AC) Squadron'shistory arrived when, on 20 November 1953,
it was presented with its Standard. The presentation was made by Marshal of the Royal Air Force,
Sir John Slessor, who had commanded the Squadron in 1925. It was a fitting climax to 41 years of
In November 1953 the first batch of Vampire IXs was received. Within a short time however, the
Squadron was to be equipped with Sabres and, in March 1954, the first group of pilots left Jever to
begin the conversion course. First impressions were "that for a single-seat fighter, it is an
exceedingly complicated aircraft". Complicated or not, it was a great improvement on the Vampire
and the pilots soon appreciated this very versatile aircraft. By the end of May the last Vampire
had left and the Squadron possessed fifteen Sabres.
The Sabre was not to be long with the Squadron and in August 1955, conversion to the Hunter
was completed. By February 1957 the Squadron was equipped with Hunter F6s. It was at Jever, which had
been the home of No. IV Squadron for nearly nine years, that the Squadron disbanded on 30 December
1960. The Squadron Standard was not to be laid up as No. 79 Squadron, based at Gutersloh, was
destined to become the new No. IV (AC) Squadron. Thus, on 1 January 1961, the Squadron was reformed
and took Jever as its base on 1 March. This marked a return to the reconnaissance role and the
Squadron was initially equipped with Swift FR5s (a legacy from 79 Sqn) but rapidly exchanged these
for Hunter FR10s.
In late 1969 the Squadron moved to Wildenrath, Germany, with the unique Harrier jump-jet.
After a lengthy period at Gutersloh, the Squadron moved to Laarbruch, and later re-equipped with
second-generation Harrier Gr7s before moving to Cottesmore with its sister 3(F)Sqn during April
Despite the disruption of relocating, the Sqn continued to maintain their commitment to
Op DELIBERATE FORGE on a rotational basis with the other 2 Gr7 Sqns, until they were tasked with
the draw down from Gioia del Colle in April 2001. The Sqn then focused on a period of training
until they were deployed to Kuwait in support of Op TELIC (IRAQI FREEDOM) in February 2003, where
they were employed in the close air support and reconnaissance role.
The Sqn returned from Op TELIC in April 2003 and rapidly rebuilt skill sets for the European
theatre. However, the desert beckoned again and Joint Force Harrier (JFH) was soon on the move.
In August 2004, the Force deployed to Kandahar Airfield to support NATO troops in Afghanistan
for Op HERRICK. In March 2005, whilst deployed to HMS INVINCIBLE for Ex MAGIC CARPET,
No IV(AC) Sqn conducted the UK's first strike mission from an aircraft carrier into
Kandahar Airfield. The Sqn's primary role in Afghanistan remains close air support (CAS)
and reconnaissance with a secondary commitment of training NATO Forward Air Controllers.
On 31st March 2010 20(Reserve) Squadron disbanded and IV(Army Co-Operation) Squadron
renumbered to become IV(Reserve) Squadron before moving to RAF Wittering.
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