No 84 Squadron was formed at Beaulieu in January 1917 with various aircraft types and was later equipped with SE5 and SE5a fighters at Lilbourne. The Squadron crossed to France on 23 September 1917, and was based successively at Flez, Vert Galand, Bertangles and Bouvincourt in the 1914 – 1918 War.
On 30 November 1918 one of the Squadron’s pilots, Captain A W Beauchamp-Proctor, was awarded the Victoria Cross; his original citation is still held by the Squadron.
During its 15 months of active service on the Western Front, the Squadron destroyed 129 enemy aircraft and 50 enemy balloons, driving down another 132 enemy aircraft out of control. After spending just over a year with the British Forces of Occupation, the Squadron was disbanded on 30 January 1920.
Eight months later, the Squadron re-formed as a bomber unit at Baghdad using DH9As. By 1928, it was based at Shaibah, which was to be the base for the next 12 years. At Shairbah, the Squadron’s DH9A aircraft were replaced in turn by Wapitis, Vincents and Blenheims
WORLD WAR 2
For the Western Desert Campaign, No 84 Squadron moved from Iraq to North Africa, flying Blenheims Mk 1 and 4f with the Desert Air Force. The Squadron also took part in the campaigns in Greece, Iraq, Syria and Persia, returning to North Africa again for the ‘second push’ campaign which started with the battle of Alam Halfa. On 3 January 1942, the Squadron was withdrawn from active service for re-equipment and transfer to the Ear East.
THE FAR EAST
During January and February 1942, No 84 flew its new Blenheims to the Dutch East Indies, being based initially at Palembang in Sumatra. Raids against the advancing Japanese army were carried out from Sumatra, from Batavia and finally from Java, where at Tilatjap they were finally overrun. All were taken prisoner, except for a small party consisting of the CO and 11 aircrew, who escaped in a 28-foot ship’s lifeboat named HMRAFS ‘Scorpion’. This crew sailed from Java to Australia in 44 days, living largely on 960 cans of American beer found in the boat.
Meanwhile, No 84 was being reformed in India, and re-equipped with Vultee Vengeances. The Squadron then remained in India for the remainder of the war, and went on to serve in Malaya and Singapore, flying Vengeances, Beaufighters, Mosquitos and Brigands.
THE FIFTIES AND ONWARDS
On 20th February 1953, the Squadron moved to Fayid in the Canal Zone, and became a transport Squadron operating Valettas. In January 1956, shortly after being awarded its Standard, the Squadron moved from the Canal Zone to Nicosia where it remained until being reformed in Aden in January 1957, taking delivery of its first Beverley in 1958. The Beverley became the faithful workhorse of the Middle East Air Force during the troubles in Aden and Kuwait.
As Aden closed down the traditions of No 84 Squadron were being maintained in the Gulf, now equipped with six brand new Andover Cl’s which moved into Sharjah at the end of August 1967.
In December 1970 No 84 Squadron moved from Sharjah to Muharraq where the Andovers operated in support of army units in the Trucial States and Muscat and Oman. It also flew scheduled routes between the Gulf stations and took over responsibility for VIP flights from the COMSAR Squadron.
On 30 September 1971 the Squadron disbanded at Muharraq. Three aircraft returned to the UK and two flew to Masirah, forming a detachment of No 46 Squadron based at Thorney Island.
On 17 January 1972 the Squadron reformed at Akrotiri with Whirlwind Mk 10 helicopters, and was split into two flights – ‘A’ at Akrotiri and ‘B’ at Nicosia. ‘A’ Flight is a multi-role unit, primarily responsible for’ SAR duties in Cyprus but also has a commitment to troop support and communication flying; ‘B’ Flight operated in the support role with the United Nation Forces in Cyprus.
In March 1981, the Whirlwinds were retired from service and replaced with the Westland Wessex. Then, in January 2003, 84 Squadron finally ended Wessex operations with the retirement of the last four of the type in RAF service. From 1 April 2003, the Wessex was replaced by Griffin HAR 2 helicopters.
THE SQUADRON TODAY
84 Sqn’s role in Cyprus is primarily to provide Search and Rescue cover for visiting fast jet Squadrons, though similar cover is also provided for civilian incidents within the Cyprus area of responsibility, involving shipping or land incidents.
This is a very large area, extending half way to Crete, Turkey, Egypt and the Lebanon. As a secondary role, 84 Squadron carry out Support Helicopter tasking for both resident and visiting British Forces. The Squadron can be called on to assist the civilian authorities and the most significant task in this role is assistance in fire fighting operations.
The Griffin helicopter is developed from the Bell 412 EP. These aircraft are operated by 84 Sqn under a Commercial Owned Military Register (COMR) contract which effectively means that the aircrew are military but the groundcrew are now civilian contract engineers.
Recent operations have shown the diversity of tasks that the Squadron can be called on to carry out. In December 2000, 84 Sqn was called on to rescue the crew of a Cypriot launch, sinking off the coast of Limmasol – the crew were awarded Republic of Cyprus gallantry medals for their efforts.
In June 2001, 84 Sqn helped in fighting a large bush fire which threatened Episkopi Garrison; three crews were needed as fire fighting took place over two days.
In July 2001, WSBA suffered the worst night of rioting in the history of Cyprus when demonstrators attacked the police station at Episkopi – the Divisional Commander of WSBA Police commended the 84 Sqn crew who evacuated injured police officers from the scene to hospital.
2006 saw the Squadron heavily involved in Operation Highbrow, the Lebanon evacuation, during which they also conducted their first night winching MEDEVAC from a vessel to TPMH using the Griffin.