The 39 Squadron Standard has been lodged in the Rotunda at College Hall Officers’ Mess, RAF Cranwell in a short ceremony following Squadron’s disbandment in July 2022.
The lodgement ceremony was attended by members of 39 Squadron who handed over the Standard to RAF College Cranwell, where it will be housed in the Rotunda until such a time that the squadron is resurrected. The standards are consecrated items, and therefore the only persons who may handle them with bare hands are the monarch or the clergy.
After 15 years of continuous operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, it is with a comforting sense of accomplishment and pride in having done our duty that Number 39 Squadron lodges its Standard back on British soil, at the home of the RAF. Another historic chapter is closed on the Winged Bomb, but the Zeppelin Killers remain ready to rise again and answer the call of duty! Die Noctuque – By Day and Night.
Group Captain Wigglesworth
Officer Commanding 39 Squadron
Number 39 Squadron, was originally formed as part of the Royal Flying Corps during April 1916 as the first of the Home Defence squadrons. It came to prominence following William Leefe Robinson’s successful destruction of a German Airship; an exploit for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross and the squadron gained its nick name ‘The Zeppelin Killers’.
The interwar period saw 39 Squadron deployed to Risalpur on what is now the North West Frontier between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Here they were tasked with policing the tribal areas by airborne observation and intervention if needed.
During World War Two, 39 Squadron spent the majority of its time on the shores of the Mediterranean flying the Blenheim, Beaufort and Beaufighter. Initially as a strategic reconnaissance squadron, then as an anti-shipping squadron based out of Egypt and finally, based out of Italy conducting raids against infra-structure and supply lines in Yugoslavia.
1958 marked the start of 50 years of 39 Squadron flying the Canberra, tasked primarily with tactical and strategic reconnaissance. Over the years both the airframe and the equipment on board the Canberra saw continuous upgrade with the PR9 ultimately being deployed to Afghanistan on Operation Herrick before the unit’s disbandment in 2006.
In January 2007, 39 Squadron became the RAF’s first Remotely Piloted Air System squadron, with its headquarters at RAF Waddington but based at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, flying the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper. When 39 Squadron disbanded in July 2022, it had flown MQ-9 for more than 90,000 operational hours.