Number IX (Bomber) Squadron is the oldest dedicated Bomber Squadron in the RAF. IX(B) Squadron formed as a Royal Flying Corps (RFC) unit at St Omer, France on 8 December 1914 by renaming the Wireless Flight of the RFC Headquarters. The Squadron disbanded in March 1915 when its various elements were absorbed into other RFC squadrons, but reformed a month later at Brooklands equipped with BE2Cs. The Squadron then joined the effort in France on reconnaissance and bombing tasks, equipped subsequently with RE8s. Like many other squadrons, it was disbanded in 1919 after a brief period in occupied Germany.
IX (B) Squadron reformed at Upavon on 1 April 1924, equipped with Vickers Vimy night bombers, and then moved to Manston where the large hangars could accommodate the aircraft. In January 1925, the Squadron received the first in a long line of Virginia heavy bombers, which were followed by Heyfords in 1936.
In February 1939, the Squadron moved to Honington and received Wellington bombers. The Squadron was the first Squadron to drop bombs in WW2 on 4 Sep 1939, in anti-shipping sorties at Brunsbuttel. In September 1942 the Wellingtons were replaced by the Lancaster bomber and IX (B) Squadron moved to Waddington. In April 1943 the Squadron moved to Bardney and took part in Bomber Command’s strategic offensive against German targets.
Following the move to Bardney the Squadron specialised in dropping large bombs, in particular the 12,000lb (5,440kg) ‘Tallboy’ bomb, and Squadron crews took part in the successful mission to sink the German battleship Tirpitz in November 1944.
In January 1945, during an attack on the Dortmund-Ems canal, the Lancaster of Flying Officer H Denton was hit and caught fire and Flight Sergeant George Thompson was awarded the Victoria Cross for saving the lives of 2 crewmembers. Unfortunately, Flight Sergeant Thompson was badly burned and died in hospital 3 weeks later.
After the War, the Lancasters were replaced by Lincolns until 1952, when the Squadron re-equipped with Canberra jet-bombers. These aircraft were used during three months of operations in Malaya in 1956 and during the Suez Crisis. In March 1962, the Squadron converted to the Vulcan and became part of the V-Force, spending six years in Cyprus as part of the Near East Air Force before disbanding in April 1982.
IX (B) Squadron reformed at Honington on 1 June 1982 as the world’s first operational Tornado GR1 Squadron, and then moved to Brüggen in Germany in 1986. The Squadron deployed to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia in 1990 and took part in operations during the first Gulf War, with IX (B) Squadron crews leading a number of bombing raids, delivering JP 233 and 1000lb bombs. The Squadron has conducted operations over northern & southern Iraq in support of UN resolutions and saw action over Kosovo in 1999. IX (B) Squadron continued her tradition of firsts by becoming the first operational Tornado GR4 squadron in 1999. On 17 July 2001, the Squadron completed a move from Brüggen to Marham in Norfolk. This move, resulting from the UK’s Strategic Defence Review, has seen Marham become the RAF’s largest and most potent operational, front-line base.
The Squadron deployed to Kuwait in February 2003 and was heavily involved in the second Gulf War as part of the Ali-Al Salem Combat Air Wing. From 2004 to 2010, IX(B) Squadron deployed annually to support Operation TELIC, in support of allied troops on the ground in Iraq.
The Squadron was also involved in Operation HERRICK, from 2008 to 2014, policing the skies over Afghanistan. In March 2011 the Squadron led the first long range Stormshadow mission in Libya.