No 13 Squadron was formed at Gosport on 10 January 1915, taking its BE2Cs across the Channel in October, initially employed on corps reconnaissance duties. No. 13 Squadron lays claim to pioneering bombing in formation when, during a raid on Achiet-le-Grand in November 1916, nine of the Squadron's aircraft bombed German anti-aircraft defences. In April 1917, RE8s replaced the BE2s and these played a major role in the battles of Arras and Cambrai during that year. When hostilities ceased, the Squadron remained in France, before returning to the UK in 1919 and disbanding. Reformed at Kenley in April 1924, the Squadron resumed its army co-operation role with Bristol Fighters and played a major role in developing co-operation between land and air forces. Atlas', Audaxes and Hectors were subsequently used, before Lysanders arrived in 1939.
As part of the BEF in France during the early part of World War II, No. 13 Squadron carried out tactical reconnaissance missions, before returning, a much depleted force in May 1940. The following year was spent on anti-submarine and anti-invasion patrols before Blenheims arrived and the Squadron returned to army co-operation duties. During 1942, the Squadron provided diversionary attacks for the 1,000 bomber raids, and on one occasion even contributing to the main force itself. By the end of the year, the No. 13 Squadron had moved to North Africa, supporting the First Army throughout its victorious campaign.
During the allied invasion of Italy, the Squadron was tasked with shipping protection, and claims to have destroyed one submarine during these missions. After the War, the Squadron was disbanded briefly before reforming in Palestine with reconnaissance Mosquitos. In 1952, Meteors arrived, and later moved to Akrotiri, Cyprus. In 1957, the Squadron began a long association with Canberras and moved to Malta in 1965. As the RAF withdrew from its Middle East bases in the late 1960s, No. 13 remained in Malta until transferring to Wyton in 1978, continuing to fly Canberras until disbanded in 1982. No. 13 squadron reformed with the new Tornado GR1A at Honington on 1 January 1990, and moved to its current home, Marham, some four years later.
On Friday 13th May 2011 at 1030, XIII Squadron from RAF Marham took to the parade square for their final parade prior to their official disbandment on 1 June 2011. This was a historical occasion and a milestone in Royal Air Force history.
Note from Brian Crook;
XIII had PR9s at Akrotiri, then moved to Malta in 1966 when the Vulacns went to Cyprus. No 39 also had PR9s in Malta throughout the 60s and early 70s in Malta, and then right through until 2006 at Wyton/Marham. XIII had meanwhile given up their PR9s and reequipped with PR7s in Malta in the mid 70s, through until Oct 78 when we left Luqa for Wyton as the Services pulled out of Malta. We were the last RAF Squadron to serve in Malta, a history of military aviation on the island going back to 1918. XIII then became a Tornado recce squadron.
Thanks to David John for permission to reproduce his aircraft photographs on the RAF Luqa Remembered website. Not all of these aircraft are 13 Squadron, pretty obvious of course, but I will post them also in the 'Aircraft' gallery. Great photographs and his kindness is very much appreciated.
Taken by David Rose at RIAT 2013. XH134 is taking to the air again in 2013 after being restored to flying condition by Midair at Kemble (Cotswold Airport). Aircraft has been repainted and display authorisation has been achieved. Time of writing (15 September 2013) - first display is Jersey during the coming week and then Goodwood the week after. Planned to display with two hunters in 2014.
Shhhh, don't ask!
Brian Crook - XIII Squadron
Brian also has a couple of photographs of 39 Squadron PR9's on the 39 Squadron photo gallery page. There's an odd few of 58 Sqdn below, I don't think they are Brian's but great photos!
December 2012 - Some great Canberra photos added, thanks Brian.
Joe is director of Reach Ltd. Medex-Aerospace, organiser of the Malta International Air Show and is on the European Airshow Council.
XIII Squadron converted to PR Tornado's after they left Malta and were based at RAF Marham.
On Friday 13th May 2011 at 1030, XIII Squadron from RAF Marham took to the parade square for their final parade prior to their official disbandment on 1 June 2011. This was a historical occasion and a milestone in Royal Air Force history. More information on the MOD website