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The Royal Air Force Regiment was formed for the same basic reason that the Army formed its own Air Corps and the Royal Navy its Royal Marines and Fleet Air Arm. In theory there should have been no need because the major user of the particular element, be it land, sea or air, should be best able to provide the necessary support for the others. However, in practice no one Service has ever had sufficient resources and, human nature being what it is, priority always seems to be given to one’s own.
In spite of promises, the Army was unable to give RAF airfields the protection so crucially needed when the threat developed in World War Two and, against stiff opposition in many quarters, the Royal Air Force decided to ‘go it alone’ and form its own Regiment.

Click on the Links Below for further World War II and Post War information


Battle for Meiktila      Cassino 1944    Greece 1944      Europe 1944     Post War Years     1980's

After the evacuation of Dunkirk, the invasion of Norway, Greece and the failure of Allied forces in Crete to successfully defend the airfields which led to the fall of the island, it became clear that the Army with it's resources severely stretched might not be able to cope with the added burden of defending RAF airfields and installations. It was decided to form a new corps to specialise in defensive operations to secure the airfields from attack and so by Royal Warrant from George VI on the 1st of February 1942 the Corps of the Royal Air Force Regiment was officially formed.

The roots of the Regiment go back even further than that to the 1920s with the introduction of the RAF Armoured Car Companies in the Middle East.


Two captured German Sdkfz 222 armoured cars, in service with an RAF Regiment squadron in the Middle East in WW2

No.1 AAC was formed at Heliopolis, Egypt in December 1921, for service in Iraq. No.2 ACC was also formed at Heliopolis on 7th April 1922 for service in Transjordan, and remained at Amman. The Armoured Car Companies were incorporated into the RAF Regiment in 1946.

At it's formation the Regiments task was essentially defensive specialising in LAA sqns comprising anti-aircraft guns, Bofors 40/60 and ground defence (field) sqns comprising 7 officers, 178 airmen organised as 3 rifle flights plus support with armoured cars, anti aircraft flights and 3 inch mortars. As the war progressed the Regiment adopted a more aggressive role. On the 15 September 1943 RAF Regiment sqns and their weapons were air transported to Cos and Southern Italy. Regiment sqns were also landed at Salerno and later became involved in the battle for Monte Cassino. In the European theatre of operations, the Regiment landed sqns on Juno beach in the early hours of D Day +1.

Marching through the near-deserted streets of London en-route to Buckingham Palace

 As the European operation continued on its drive towards Germany, the Regiment undertook a number of tasks ranging from airfield defence, mine clearing, airstrip construction, escort duties and then racing ahead of the second army to occupy all airfields in North West Germany. They were the first allied unit to enter Denmark and also one of the first allied units whilst on escort duties to enter Paris.

The first RAF Regiment parachute sqn was formed during operations against the Japanese in South East Asia and Regiment sqns were soon involved in the heavy fighting on the Imphal plain in 1944 as part of the "forgotten” army. When the Japanese forces started to retreat, the Regiment sqns were then tasked with seizing airstrips as the 14th army advanced, much the same as their fellow Sqns were doing in Europe. At the end of hostilities in the Far East, the Supreme Allied Commander, Lord Mountbatten sent for an airman from the Regiment to witness the signing of the Japanese surrender in Singapore. 

The Regiment also assumed responsibility for the command of three associated overseas forces: The RAF Regiment (Malaya), The Iraqi Levies and the Aden Protectorate Levies, until these countries special relationships with Great Britain terminated in the 1950s and 1960s. At the end of the Second World War, the RAF Regiment had seen active service in North Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, the Mediterranean, Italy and Europe. It had a fighting force of over 85,000 men serving in some 170 LAA and 70 field sqns. 



His Majesty King

George VI and Queen Elizabeth chat with RAF Regiment officers at The Palace, 1 April 1943

After the war, the Regiment has been involved in a number of operations in many parts of the World wherever there are RAF Airfields, installations or elements of the RAF to defend. These include Palestine, Suez, Kenya, Malaya, Borneo, Aden, Oman, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, the Falklands and the Gulf. The Regiment field sqns were involved in Operations in the Former Yugoslavia both with the UN and NATO and more recently in Kuwait and Afghanistan.

The Regiment’s role has changed little since its formation. Weapons and equipment have modernised with the Air Defence Sqns being equipped with Rapier surface to air missiles. The field sqns of the Regiment have gone in circles with time spent being equipped with armoured vehicles and time spent equipped with Landrovers as a field sqn. In the early 80s the field sqns went back to their roots and re equipped with the Alvis range of light armoured fighting vehicles, which consisted of Scorpion, and Spartan armoured vehicles but again went full circle in the early 90s re-equipping with Land Rovers and 81mm Mortars. The RAF Regiment has also maintained its parachute capability with II Sqn RAF Regiment.

The RAF had operated various small units of ground troops in the 1920s and 1930s, particularly in the more remote parts of the Empire, most famously its armoured car units equipped with Rolls-Royce vehicles. But the fast moving battles of manoeuvre in the Western Desert in 1941 and 1942, when withdrawals by the army could be as rapid as advances, had exposed the need for dedicated units to protect front-line airfields. From the first, the Regiment provided both ground defence troops - infantry and armoured cars - and air defence forces, armed with light anti-aircraft weapons. Squadrons from the Regiment served all round the world during the conflict.

Sixty years on, the Regiment continues to meet the same tasks. Rapier surface-to-air missiles are used to provide close-range air defence of airfields, whilst gunners from the Regiment serving in an infantry role (including 2 Sqn parachute-trained) provide a capability to move very rapidly anywhere in the world to protect RAF units deployed overseas on operations. In February 2002, gunners from 34 Squadron RAF Regiment are helping Afghan forces ensure the security of Kabul International Airport, essential for the safe delivery of humanitarian aid and personnel and supplies for the International Security Assistance Force.

One particular field in which the Regiment provides expertise is Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defence. Personnel from the RAF Regiment serve with Army colleagues in the Joint NBC Regiment. And through the Survive-To-Operate concept, the Regiment provides the skills needed throughout the RAF to allow operations to continue, whatever the threat.

The RAF Regiment.net web ©  site and The RAF Regiment from 1984 © Web site have been created by Glen Beavis, both sites contain pictures and information gathered from many sources,  including my own personal knowledge.

Where possible I have given credit to the originators of the information, if I have infringed any copyright laws then please contact me.