617 Squadron, RAF
"The Dambusters"

The Company's affiliation with this famous World War 2 Bomber Squadron began in 1989 with an approach from Norfolk-based Philip Back DFC, a former Pathfinder pilot and subsequent Prime Warden of the Company during 1990 and 1991. At the time, 617 Squadron were based at Royal Air Force Marham in Norfolk and equipped with Tornado GR1 all-weather bomber aircraft. The Squadron Commanding Officer at the time was Wing Commander Bob Iveson.

The 617 Squadron Badge

The Squadron's illustrious history is well known. Its now legendary raid against the German Dams in 1943 using Barnes Wallis's amazing 'bouncing bomb' was immortalised in the 1955 film 'The Dam Busters', starring Richard Todd and Michael Redgrave. The Squadron also successfully attacked and sunk the German battleship 'Tirpitz' in November 1944 using the Tallboy 12000lb bomb (also designed by Barnes Wallis). This formidable reputation has been enhanced by other operations over the years, such as pioneering the use of new Thermal Imaging Airborne Laser Designator equipment during the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, adding Maritime Strike to its specialist skill set in 1994 with the Sea Eagle missile.

In 2002, 617 Squadron was re-equipped with the Tornado GR4, enhancing the Squadron's night capability and enabling the use of advanced weapons such as Storm Shadow - a precision attack and stand-off cruise missile that the Squadron introduced into Royal Air Force service. 617 Squadron undertook the first operational firing of a Storm Shadow missile in March 2003, coincidentally the 60th Anniversary of the Squadron's formation.

To celebrate this Anniversary, Her Majesty the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prime Warden and the Clerk of the Company were all invited to attend as official guests at the Squadron's home base at Royal Air Force Lossiemouth. Celebrating not only the 60th Anniversary but also a successful Operation TELIC deployment to and from Iraq. The Prime Warden was even treated to a ride in a James Bond style 'Girocopter'!

Tornado GR4 model
Tornado GR4

Since 2003, 617 Squadron has continued to participate in Operation TELIC over Iraq, on a rotational basis with the other Tornado GR4 squadrons, operating in the armed overwatch role from Qatar.

The Squadron continues to train with the latest equipment and techniques, maintaining their reputation as being at the forefront of the RAF's precision bombing force. During 2009, many of the Squadron deployed to Op HERRICK in Afghanistan as part of the RAF Lossiemouth Wing effort, led by 12(B) Squadron. The Tornado GR4 has now replaced the Harrier GR9 in Afghanistan as the leading ground attack/strike aircraft, and the Dambusters are due to deploy again to Op HERRICK in Spring 2010. Their primary role will be to operate in the armed overwatch and reconnaissance role in support of UK and Coalition troops in the region. The Dyers Company is proud to be affiliated with the Squadron and looks forward to developing closer links in the future.

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