23(F) Sqn

RAF Wattisham
20 Feb 1976 - 30 Mar 1983

23(F) Sqn

No. 23 Squadron formed at Fort Grange, Gosport on 1 Sep 1915 under the command of one of the RAF's most experienced operational pilots - Captain Louis Strange. After a brief period attempting to counter German airship flights over London, the Squadron moved to France with its FE2Bs initially employed on escort duties. By early 1917, Spad single-seaters had arrived, and were being used on offensive patrols. By the end of the War, the Squadron had converted to Dolphins, and flew these until disbanded at the end of 1919.

On 1 July 1925, No. 23 Squadron reformed at Henlow with Snipes, but these were replaced shortly after with Gloster Gamecocks. In 1931, the Squadron was tasked with carrying out trials on the new Hawker Hart two-seaters, taking the production version, known as Demons, on strength in 1933. It wasn't until late 1938 that the squadron received its first monoplanes in the form of Blenheims, and these were used as night-fighters in the early days of World War II whilst based at Wittering. In 1941, Havocs replaced the Blenheims, and these were used with great success in the intruder role, until themselves replaced by the Mosquito in mid-1942. At the end of the year, the squadron moved to Malta in support of allied operations in the Mediterranean before returning to the UK in 1944.

In September 1945, the Squadron had disbanded, reforming a year later at Wittering with Mosquito night-fighters. By late 1953, Venom night fighters had joined the Squadron, before Javelin all-weather supersonic fighters replaced these in 1957. In 1964, the Lightning replaced the Javelin, and it was with this classic aircraft that the squadron continued until Phantoms were received in late 1975, this coinciding with a moved to Wattisham in Suffolk. After the Falklands War in 1982, the Squadron occupied Port Stanley airfield until reduced to a Flight of four aircraft in 1988, reforming at Leeming with Tornado F3s. Defence cuts following the end of the Cold War saw the unit disbanded in March 1994. No. 23 Squadron was again reformed, this time as part of the Waddington AEW Wing in 1996, sharing not only the aircraft with the already established No. 8 Squadron, but operational duties in Europe and the Gulf.

The Squadron was officially disbanded on 2 Oct 2009.

  • 23(F) Sqn Crest

  • 23(F) Sqn Aircrew Ops Patch

  • 23(F) Sqn Montage

  • The Red Eagle Patch

    Supplied by Daz Talbot
  • 23(F) Sqn silver printed black zap.

    Supplied by Chris Turner
  • This one shows the 'Mini-bus' hired for a days R&R by an intrepid bunch at RAF Luqa in 1976 - note the 23 Sqn Red Eagle Zap on the bonnet.

    Supplied by John Lyons
  • (l to r) John Lyons, Dave Hortop and Al Bourner on det at Luqa, Malta in 1976

    Supplied by John Lyons
  • And again.....!

    Supplied by John Lyons
  • This shows said intrepid bunch from 23(F) Sqn taking a 'wine break' during the day on Malta. Johns' memory is not as good with names as it used to be but he knows some - maybe there is someone out there who can fill in some of the blanks?
    From left to right :-
    Maltese driver (who thought we were all mad as it was raining!), Sam Mullen, ? (MCS or Nav Inst) , ? , John Lyons, John Cooper, ? , ? , ? , Mick ? (Rigger), Dave Hortop, John Hastie, Tony Goodwin, ? , Al Bourner, Tom ? (Elect).

    Supplied by John Lyons
  • This the 1977 Malta detachment with our high flying boss, Wg Cmdr. Bill Wratten. Its also the detachment where on one day the flying programme went out of the window. We were asked to loan our camera’s to the Nav’s so they could take photos of the TU-22 Russian ‘Blinder ‘ bombers that we were asked to intercept that were transiting from Russia to Libya. Brad Badgery is standing front row, between and behind the 4th and 5th persons seated. John Rowe is in the middle hiding behind a sheet of paper.

    Supplied by Alan ‘Brad’ Badgery
  • Sqn photo taken during the first trip to Cyprus for APC in 1978 after the Turkish invasion in 1974.
    (Large Image has some names on)

    Supplied by Daz Talbot and Graeme Barton
  • This is the 23 Squadron detachment to GAF Hopsten around 1976, all holding a welcome drink and info sheet after the flight in the C160 Transall. Brad Badgery is 4th from right in the raincoat. The SNCO I/C was Dave Jessop. Notable appearance by Jim Tweddle, (where is he Now), and J Barton.

    Supplied by Alan ‘Brad’ Badgery
  • A Sqn photo taken on Golf Dispersal at Akrotiri in 1982, the last APC before moving down to the Falkland Islands.

    Supplied by Dave Grimwood
  • A Sqn photo taken back at Wattisham in March 1982.

    Supplied by Dave Grimwood
  • XV421 / B taxing into Golf Dispersal in 1978.

    Supplied by Pete Mears