XIII Squadron Disbandment
On Friday 6th May 2011 at exactly 13 seconds past the 13th minute of the 13th hour, XIII Squadron took to the skies for their final flight prior to their official disbandment on 1st June 2011.
To mark this historic occasion, the six Tornado GR4 aircraft flew in a ‘dagger’ formation, to reflect the squadron crest; a dagger behind a lynx’s head. Families and friends joined fellow squadron members to watch the historic flight which also flew over RAF Honington and RAF Wyton, two of the Squadron’s former bases. As the six Tornados taxied back to the hangar a Lancaster Bomber flew over in tribute to the squadron.
Officer Commanding XIII Squadron Wing Commander Howie Edwards said on the day: “Today is a poignant day in XIII Squadron’s history, its fourth disbandment in the 96 years since its initial formation at Gosport on 10th January 1915. The crews landing today mark the end of a very busy period that included intensive operations over Afghanistan and more recently their involvement in enforcing the UNSCR (United Nations Security Council Resolution) 1973 over Libya. On a personal level I feel great pride in having the opportunity to command such a prestigious unit, and I would like to thank the men and women of the squadron for making it such a success.”
On Friday 13th May 2011, XIII Squadron took to the parade square for their final parade. This was a historical occasion and a milestone in Royal Air Force history. The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton KCB ADC BSc FRAeS CCMI RAF, was the Reviewing Officer on this very poignant occasion, having previously served as Officer Commanding XIII Squadron.
XIII Squadron has continued its long and distinguished record since arriving at RAF Marham in 1990 and its involvement in Gulf War 1. Notably, 2009 saw XIII Squadron conducting the last Tornado sortie over Iraq in support of Op TELIC. In the summer of 2010, XIII Squadron deployed on its inaugural Op HERRICK detachment in Afghanistan providing Close Air Support and a Combat ISTAR capability during a very busy fighting season. Finally, just a few weeks from disbandment, XIII Squadron were at the very fore of Op ELLAMY over Libya, delivering deep strike capability through the employment of the RAF’s Stormshadow missile.
Officer Commanding XIII Squadron Wing Commander Howie Edwards said: “Without a doubt today is an emotional day for all of us who have been part of No XIII Squadron. As the Squadron Commander I feel it both an honour and a privilege to have commanded and led such a fine team of men and women, as well as to have been part of an exceptional Squadron with such an illustrious heritage. Today is a tribute to the XIII Squadron family and it is with mixed emotions that we bid a fond farewell to a truly remarkable unit that has served with great distinction around the world”.
Station Commander RAF Marham Group Captain Rocky Rochelle said: “I feel both sad and proud today – sad that we have lost such a significant squadron, however, hugely proud that during the current Squadron Commander’s and my tenure, XIII Squadron have been tested like no other squadron, primarily last summer during surge operations in Afghanistan and currently in support of Op ELLAMY, knowing full well their fate. No XIII Squadron will take their place in history as one of the true greats and will be sorely missed on future operations”.