Puma Squadron Marks 100 Years

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Yesterday (12.01) marked 100 years since the formation of 33 Squadron and the iconic day was commemorated with a formal parade in the hangar that has been their home since 1997.

The Squadron was formed in Filton on 12 January 1916 as part of the Home Defence and has continued to contribute to combat and humanitarian operations around the globe over the past century. Currently 33 Squadron A Flight are deployed in Afghanistan in support of Operation TORAL, the ongoing NATO training mission.

The Squadron is no stranger to serving overseas, having spent many years much of World War II operating over Europe before moving to the Far East. From operating the Bristol F2b as part of the world’s first dedicated Night Fighter Force during World War I to flying the iconic Spitfire during the later World War II years, the Squadron has continued to deliver excellence with the most capable aircraft. They currently operate the extensively upgraded Puma 2 helicopter, which provides essential lift capabilities for combat, training, disaster relief, humanitarian and air security missions.

Squadron personnel were joined today by several of their former Commanding Officers for a formal centenary parade in their hangar. The Vice Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, Mr John Harwood DL, kindly agreed to act as the Reviewing Officer for the parade of over 80 RAF personnel. Also amongst the distinguished guests was Michael Percifull, a former member of the Squadron who was also celebrating his 90th birthday today.

Following the parade there was a short memorial service in the hangar where all those who have served on the Squadron over the past century were remembered, particularly those who made the ultimate sacrifice. A centenary painting was also unveiled, taking pride of place in the main entrance to the Squadron.

Group Captain Simon Paterson, Station Commander at RAF Benson where the Squadron is currently based, said: „I was delighted be part of the historic centenary parade for 33 Squadron today. It is not often in your career you can say you’ve been part of such a significant event. The Squadron has such a colourful and extensive history that it is only fitting their centenary was marked with such gravitas, particularly as they continue to deliver excellence on operations in Afghanistan.”

Wing Commander Mark Biggadike, the Officer Commanding 33 Squadron who formally handed over the Squadron and its heritage to his successor Wing Commander Andy Baron at the parade, said: „Today has been a day that I will never forget. It has been an absolute honour to command the Squadron for the past two years and I can think of no better way to complete my duties than to celebrate and commemorate our centenary with so many of 33 Squadron past and present . 33 Squadron has achieved so much over the past century and I am certain that they will continue to deliver excellence to Defence for many years to come.”

Source: RAF

Editor: Nikki Hamilton
Photo: RAF / 33 Squadron Puma.

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