No. 34 Squadron RAF Regiment

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No. 34 Squadron RAF Regiment
Active 1951 - present
Country United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
Type Air Force Infantry[1]
Role Force protection (No. 2 Force Protection Wing)[2]
Part of Royal Air Force Regiment
Garrison/HQ RAF Leeming
Motto(s) Feu de Fer (Fire from Iron)

No. 34 Squadron RAF Regiment is a field squadron of the RAF Regiment in the Royal Air Force. Its mission is protection of RAF bases from ground attack. The squadron's current HQ is at RAF Leeming. The motto of the squadron is "Feu de Fer "(Fire from Iron).[3]

History[edit]

Formed on 19 November 1951 as a light anti-aircraft squadron, 34 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment first operated overseas when the Squadron moved to El Hammra, Egypt and from where it launched a number of operational detachments to the Suez Canal Zone. The Squadron subsequently moved to Cyprus in 1956, where it became involved in the EOKA terrorist campaign. Operational detachments continued in Libya, Aden, Iran and within Cyprus itself, including during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the subsequent bloody partition.[4] Re-roled in 1975, as a Field Squadron it was equipped with Land Rovers, machine guns and mortars until being subsequently re-equipped with the Scorpion range of light armoured vehicles in 1982.[5] For many years it was located at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.[6]

Following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, 34 Squadron deployed to the Gulf region to provide ground defence for Royal Air Force forward bases in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.[7] The Squadron re-roled back to Field Squadron in 1993 and in February 1996, after 40 years in Cyprus, the Squadron returned to the United Kingdom[8] and its present home, RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire.[9] 34 Squadron completed a 6-month peace-keeping deployment to the Former Republic of Yugoslavia as part of the NATO-led Stabilisation Force in 1997, with a further deployment, once again, to the Gulf, in 1998, on Operation Bolton in Kuwait.[10] With rising international tension and the Royal Air Force detachment’s close proximity to the Iraqi border, 34 Squadron took the lead role in securing the base from potential terrorist and conventional ground attack, whilst working closely with American and Kuwaiti security forces.[11]

Early in 1999, elements of the squadron assisted the Support Helicopter Force on Operation AGRICOLA in the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia. 34 Squadron personnel were responsible for providing the security for Puma helicopters in a forward operating base (FOB) near the Kosovan border.[11] In the middle of the year, an element of the squadron again deployed to Macedonia to assist in the security of forward elements of KFOR (the Kosovo stabilisation force). From early 2000 the Squadron prepared for a return to Ali Al Salem in Kuwait for a successful 8-month tour from April to December.[11] The early part of 2001 saw the Squadron heavily involved with Op PENINSULA assisting MAFF with overseeing the slaughter assembly and disposal of animals affected by Foot and Mouth Disease in North Yorkshire. The Squadron then undertook training in readiness to deploy to RAF Aldergrove in Northern Ireland towards the end of 2001.[4]

The Squadron deployed to Basra, Iraq and the Gulf area four times during Operation RESINATE & Operation TELIC with a further 4 deployments on Operation HERRICK in Afghanistan. Whilst on deployment in Kandahar, 34 Squadron, with elements of the Royal Canadian Dragoon's, secured the crash site of Nimrod XV230 in hostile territory, which unfortunately had resulted in the loss of all on board the aircraft.[12] The final tour of duty in Afghanistan ended in November 2014 when the Squadron paraded through the town of Bedale in North Yorkshire (the nearest town to the base at RAF Leeming where 34 Squadron are located).[13]

In 2006, the former RAF Regiment Survive to Operate (STO) headquarters were restructured into Force Protection Wings (FPW's) and 34 squadron along with 609 Squadron and the RAF Police at Leeming came under 2 FP Wing.[14]

In 2016, 34 Squadron became part of a Joint Expeditionary Force that will see the Squadron taking up peacekeeping duties for NATO and the United Nations. Preparations for this had been ongoing throughout 2015.[15]

Operational losses[edit]

In October 2009, Acting Corporal Marcin Wojtak of 34 Squadron was killed by a bomb blast whilst out on patrol near to Camp Bastion in Helmand province.[16]

Structure[edit]

With a strength of 164 personnel, including specialist engineering and support staff, the Squadron's firepower is provided by a wide range of infantry weapons including sniper rifles, general purpose machine guns and light and medium mortars. Fully air portable, the Squadron's cross-country mobility is mainly provided by Land Rovers, although motorcycles and all-terrain trucks complete the transport capability. Battlefield communications systems and a highly effective range of surveillance and night observation equipment complete 34 Squadron's inventory to make it a flexible and powerful force capable of deploying anywhere in the world to defend British air assets or to take part in wider military action.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Heyman, Charles (2007). "14:Miscellaneous". The British Army - a pocket guide 2008-2009. Barnsley: Pen & Sword. p. 218. ISBN 1-84415-280-4. 
  2. ^ "2FP Homepage". RAF Leeming. Royal Air Force. Retrieved 21 June 2016. 
  3. ^ Pine, LG (1983). A dictionary of mottoes. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 75. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X. 
  4. ^ a b "34 squadron Royal Air Force Regiment". Royal Air Force. Royal Air Force. Retrieved 21 June 2016. 
  5. ^ See David Lee, Wings in the Sun: A history of the Royal Air Force in the Mediterranean 1945–1986, HMSO Books 1989, 224.
  6. ^ "The Discovery Service". discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk. The National Archives. Retrieved 22 February 2017. 
  7. ^ Coupland, Peter (1997). "5: October 1984 onward". Straight and true : a history of Royal Air Force Leeming. London: Leo Cooper. p. 116. ISBN 0850525691. 
  8. ^ Pitchfork 2008, p. 26.
  9. ^ Coupland, Peter (1997). "5: October 1984 onward". Straight and true : a history of Royal Air Force Leeming. London: Leo Cooper. p. 115. ISBN 0850525691. 
  10. ^ Pitchfork 2008, p. 32.
  11. ^ a b c "RAF - 34 Squadron RAF Regiment". www.raf.mod.uk. Retrieved 22 February 2017. 
  12. ^ Haddon-Cave, Charles (28 October 2009). "An independent review into the broader issues surrounding the loss of the RAF Nimrod MR2 Aircraft XV230 in Afghanistan in 2006" (PDF). .Gov. p. 5. Retrieved 24 September 2016. 
  13. ^ Minting, Stuart (13 November 2014). "Homecoming RAF Squadron parade through Bedale". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 21 June 2016. 
  14. ^ Heyman, Charles (2015). "RAF Regiment". The Armed Forces of the UNited Kingdom 2014-2015. Barnsley: Pen and Sword. p. 171. ISBN 978-1-78346-351-0. 
  15. ^ Sibley, Jonathan (22 April 2016). "Gunners go global for NATO force role". RAF News (1393): 9. ISSN 0035-8614. 
  16. ^ "RAF Leeming Servicemen killed in Afghanistan is named". The Northern Echo. 2 October 2009. Retrieved 21 June 2016. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Pitchfork, Graham (Air Cdre (Ret'd)). The Royal Air Force Day by Day. Stroud, UK: History Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-7509-4309-3.