No. 12 Squadron and Wickenby

Motto: "Leads the field"

Badge: A fox's head - a reference to the Fairy Fox; a high speed day bomber of the 1920's

Code Letters: PH & GZ ('C' Flight 1943)

Group: 1 Group from June 1940

12 Squadron RFC (Royal Flying Corp) was formed on 4 February 1915 at Netheravon in Wiltshire. In September of that year the squadron was sent to France and was equipped with BE2's. The squadron was engaged on army co-operation duties until the Armistice in November 1918 and was to remain in Germany until 1922 when it was disbanded.

The squadron reformed in April 1923 at Northolt as a bomber squadron equipped with DH9's, Fairy Fawns and Fairy Foxes. The polished silver metal cowlings of the Fairy Fox aircraft gave the squadron its nickname, "Shiny Twelve". In 1935 after the Italians had invaded Abyssinia the squadron moved to Aden to reinforce the Middle East Command.

By 1938 the squadron was equipped with Fairey Battles and when war broke out 16 of these aircraft landed in France as part of No. 76 Wing of the Advanced Air Striking Force. During the summer of 1940 Flying Officer D.E. Garland and Sgt T. Gray - pilot and observer respectively - were posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. Garland had led a low-level attack on a metal bridge over the Albert Canal at Veldwezelt causing great damage with bombs.

The squadron then moved to Finningley in June 1940, then to Binbrook in early July. In August it began attacking shipping in the German held channel ports. In November the squadron began to re-equip with Wellington Bombers and training was begun. In April 1941 12 Squadron sent 28 aircraft on the first of the 1,000 bomber raids the target being Cologne.

During the winter of 1942/43 No. 12 converted to Lancasters at Wickenby and thereafter continued to play a prominent role in Bomber Command's offensive until April 1945.

12 Squadron suffered the second highest percentage losses in Bomber Command (highest was 57 Sqn) and the highest losses in 1 Group

Total Raids Flown: 427 Bombing, 51 Minelaying, 6 Leaflet (Lancasters 282 Bombing, 27 Minelaying)

Sorties and Losses:
5,160 sorties, 171 aircraft lost (3.3%) (Lancasters 3,882 sorties, 111 aircraft lost - 2.9%)

Wickenby 2001: Looking back towards the control tower from a part of the old runway