World War 1
The squadron was originally formed at Coudekerque, near Dunkirk, on 28th July 1917, as No. 7A Squadron, RNAS, and from the beginning its role was heavy night bombing. On the 9th December 1917, it reformed as No. 14 Squadron; RNAS, and on 1st April 1918, the same day the Royal Air Force was formed, 200 was added to its number "14" and it became No. 214 Squadron, RAF. Equipped with Handley Page twin-engined bombers, they flew from coastal airfields in France, mainly engaged in night attacks against naval and army targets in Belgium, but also bombed targets in France. At the start it operated under the Dunkirk Naval Command, then from March to June in the 7th Brigade under the control of the Army, and lastly, from 4th June to the Armistice in the 82nd Wing, again under the Naval Command. In April and May 1918, it assisted in the Naval blocking operations at Zeebrugge and Ostend. An interesting event during its wartime career was the night of 24/25th July 1918, when it dropped the RAF's first 1,650-lb. bomb on the enemy. (see note A) Posted to Egypt in 1919, No. 214 disbanded the following year.
World War 2
214 Squadron was next resurrected in 1935 at Boscombe Down as a bomber squadron again. Later it arrived at the newly built Feltwell airbase from Scampton on April 13th 1937. From here it flew Harrows from April 1937 to July 1939 but began switching to Wellington I's in May 1939. The squadron then moved to Feltwell satellite station, Methwold in Sept 1939 and remained there untill moving to Stradishall in Feb 1940. It is interesting to note that Methwold was nothing more than a field with some tents at the time. 214 Squadron officially entered the war on June 14, 1940 flying Wellingtons and the first raid was a fire raising attack on German forests by 2 Wellingtons on 14/15 June 1940.
In September 1941 214 Squadron was honoured by being adopted by the British Malayan Federation and had "Federated Malay States" officially incorporated in its title. The FMS put up the funds to raise the squadron and equip it.
For the most part of the Second World War the squadron served in No. 3 Group and over this period flew some of the bloodiest missions of the war against naval, industrial and other targets in Europe. Many never returned. 214 Squadron provided completely unbroken service throughout the war in Bomber command (though not on Ops for first nine months) and had the highest percentage of losses of 3 Group. It also played an active role in Gardening or minelaying operations.
In April 1942 214 Squadron converted to Stirlings. It is little known, but the nucleus of the recently re-forming 215 Squadron destined for the Middle East, was to a large extent, made up from experienced crews pulled away from 214 Squadron beginning sometime in the fall of 1941 and continuing untill the spring of 1942.
In Oct 1942 214 Squadron moved to Chedburgh then on to Downham Market in Dec 1943, continuing with Stirlings until January 1944 when its tour of duty with No. 3 Group ended. The squadron was later transferred to No.100 (Bomber Support) Group where it was subsequently re-equipped with American Flying Fortress aircraft. Here it was engaged in radio counter-measures (detection and jamming of enemy radio and radar equipment) until May of 1945.
In June 1943 'C' Flight of 214 Squadron was detached to form 620 Squadron.
On 27 July 1945, 214 Squadron disbanded. Later the same day, 614 Squadron, a Liberator unit at Amendola Italy, was renumbered 214 Squadron and moved to Palestine in August where it converted to Lancasters before being renumbered 37 Squadron on 15 April 1946.
On 4 November 1946, 214 Squadron reformed at Upwood as part of post war bomber command, later re-equipping with Lincolns in February 1950. A detachment of these was based in Kenya during the Mau-Mau uprising and the squadron disbanded again on 30 December 1954.
On 15 June 1955, it was reformed at Laarbruch with Canberras for photographic reconnaissance duties but was renumbered 80 Squadron on 1 August 1955.
On 21 January 1956, 214 Squadron reformed at Marham as a Valiant squadron of the V-bomber force and in September 1956 was detached to Malta for attacks on Egyptian airfields during the Suez campaign. In April 1962, it became a tanker squadron and was disbanded on 28 February 1965, with the grounding of the Valiant force. * See FIRST CONTACT on the Articles page for an in depth look at In-Flight refuelling.
On 21 July 1966, 214 Squadron reformed at Marham with Victor tankers which were used for refuelling both fighters and bombers during long-range moves and in maintaining fighter patrols beyond their normal range. It disbanded on 28 January 1977.
The aircraft that dropped the big bomb was an HP 0/400 piloted by Sergeant LA Dell with Middelkerque being the intended target of the attack. The following account of the effect of this raid as extracted from the records of the 5th Group, Dover Patrol: "...[The bomb] functioned successfully and all the lights in the town immediately went out and AA fire (which had been intense) stopped and was not renewed although a subsequent photograph showed that the bomb had dropped in a field about half a mile east of the town. The crater caused by the bomb had a diameter of over 50 feet and the spread of earth displaced covered an area over 100 yards in diameter."