RAF Valley based Search & Rescue Training Unit becomes 202 (Reserve) Sqn

raf 202 reserve

With the recent disbandment of UK military Search & Rescue the RAF Valley based Search & Rescue Training Unit (SARTU), a unit of the Defence Helicopter Flying School will be formally numbered 202 (Reserve) Squadron at a ceremony at RAF Shawbury, the home of the Defence Helicopter Flying School.

No 202 (Reserve) Squadron will become the maritime and mountains training element of the Defence Helicopter Flying School, based at RAF Valley in Anglesey and operating the Griffin helicopter. The squadron will deliver basic maritime and mountain flying skills to Royal Air Force and Royal Navy aircrew and will also deliver a full operational search and rescue training package in support of 84 Squadron, based at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.

Formed on 1st April 1918, 202 Squadron originated as 2 Squadron Royal Naval Air Service in Eastchurch on 17 Oct 1914 . During WWI it was equipped with a variety of aircraft, operating in the reconnaissance role as well as conducting bombing and escort duties. During the inter war years, 202 Squadron began its association with sea planes and in 1929 was designated a flying boat Squadron operating in the Mediterranean in the anti-submarine role.

At the breakout of WWII, 202 Squadron moved to Gibraltar and was equipped with a succession of larger and more powerful sea planes to patrol the Mediterranean approaches, observe shipping and direct Naval support onto enemy ships and submarines.

At the end of WWII, the Squadron relocated to Northern Ireland and re-roled as a weather reconnaissance unit operating over the North Atlantic prior to the advent of weather satellites.

The Squadron’s role changed once again in 1964 when it became a Search and Rescue unit, operating the Whirlwind and Sea King aircraft across the East coast of the UK. Whilst primarily maintaining a UK based presence, in 1982 “C” Flight 202 Squadron was deployed to the Falkland Islands immediately after the conflict and formed 1564 Flight. This Flight and 202 Squadron ceased Search and Rescue Operations in 2016.

202 Squadron CrestThe Search & Rescue Training Unit (SARTU) has taught mountain and maritime flying skills to RAF helicopter crews destined for Search & Rescue duties since its inception in 1962. More recently, all RAF and RN helicopter pilots and crewmen pass through its doors and receive instruction in the same founding principles of mountain and maritime flying in order to enhance their skills as futuresupport helicopter operators.

Squadron Leader Andy McGreevy, Officer Commanding 202 (Reserve) Squadron said: “It means a great deal for all of us on the former Search & Rescue Training Unit to be allocated such a historic numberplate. Formed over a hundred years ago as No 2 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service and then re-formed on the birthday of the Royal Air Force as 202 Squadron, we can all be proud of it’s joint heritage in both training and operations. This is particularly relevant now, given our role in training RN and RAF crews in the arts of maritime and mountain flying. We have a vital role to play within UK defence, and 202 (Reserve) Squadron has an exciting and challenging future ahead.”

Editor: Sqn Ldr Williams

Photographs: Cpl Devine, SAC Watts, Mr Forshaw

202 (Reserve) Squadron winch training.

The Squadron standard being handed over.

Griffin at RAF Valley.

202 (Reserve) Squadron winch simulator training.

202 Squadron Crest.

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