427 History - Overview

The information in this section comes from several sources. One that should be mentioned is from a web site entitled Baden Remembered A site dedicated to information about 4 (F) Wing of Air Division from the RCAFs early NATO days to 1993. Another is from the official Air Force web site. The information in each complements the other. Also the "Green Book" a history of 427 Squadron from 1942 to 1970 compiled from Squadron diaries and published by L/Col T. Reid, the last CF-104 Squadron Commander.

The Baden Remembered site is an excellent overview of the Canadian Air Force presence in Europe after WW 11 and although it focuses on 4 Wing, the early history mirrors all Canadian European bases, 1, 2 and 3 Wing in the early 50s and late 60s. Sonja Fagnan and Paula Leaman have managed a very informative site. Much of the operational information comes from a book edited by Major (R) Ian McCandie. The book was FORTY YEARS, 1953-1993, 4 Wing, CFB Baden Soellingen, and we thank him for his kind permission to reproduce his write up on 427 Squadron history.


Baden Remembered

427 Squadron was first formed on 7 November 1942, as the eighth of fifteen RCAF bomber squadrons and was originally equipped with Wellington MK III twin-engine bombers. Experienced crews borrowed from 419 Squadron enabled 427 to be operationally ready by 1 December 1942, and to commence operations against the Frisian Islands on the 14th of the same month. Initially part of 4 Group, Bomber Command, the squadron was transferred to 6 (RCAF) Group, Bomber Command upon formation 1 January 1943, and remained with this group until the war's end. The squadron was transferred to Leeming on 4 May 1943, and was re-equipped with Halifax four-engined aircraft. This bomber was used for the greater part of the squadron's operations, being replaced by the Lancaster in March 1945.

The squadron was assigned to bombing targets located all over Europe; however mine laying and the occasional dinghy search were also part of the job. The squadron's last sortie of the war was, perhaps fittingly enough, once again to mine the Frisian Islands.

The war ended with 427 Squadron having amassed an enormous amount of flying hours and having won an impressive list of Battle Honours and individual distinctions. A total of 3200 sorties comprising 26,000 flying hours dropped an incalculable amount of high explosives on Fortress Europe and its ports. During the war, a total of 415 personnel were lost, another 121 were shot down and taken prisoner and 14 escaped to Allied lines.

One of the lighter and perhaps more famous moments of 427's wartime era occurred when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer adopted the squadron on 24 May 1943 and allowed the names of their stars (such as Lana Turner, Greer Garson, Joan Crawford and Hedy Lamarr) to be displayed on squadron aircraft. In addition, MGM presented a bronze lion to the squadron, and from this came the name "Lion Squadron". Another highlight was the adoption by the squadron of one of Winston Churchill's lion cubs, Mareth; for this, the squadron was sent a letter of appreciation from the British Prime Minister.

After the cessation of hostilities, the Lions were involved in flying POWs and troops back from Europe to Britain. On 31 May 1946, the squadron was disbanded.

427 was reactivated on 1 August 1952, in St Hubert, Quebec, as a fighter squadron in Air Defence Command. The Lions were initially equipped with the F-86 Sabre MK II fighter and through replacement and updating, later flew the MK V and VI versions of this fine and extremely popular aircraft. Following training in St. Hubert, the squadron deployed across the Atlantic during March and April of 1953 on Exercise LEAPFROG III, and took up residence in Zweibrücken, Germany (one of their wartime targets) as part of 3 Wing.

As part of NATO, 427 had numerous exchange visits with other squadrons both Canadian and NATO allies and participated in many multi-national exercises. Detachments were sent regularly to Rabat, Morocco and later Decimomannu, Sardinia for air-to-air gunnery, as well as to Marville, France to stand quick reaction alert.

On 16 December 1962, 427 (Fighter) Squadron became 427 (Strike/Attack) Squadron. It was the first Canadian squadron to be equipped with the CF- 104 Starfighter. In this role they had to develop new techniques and tactics including high speed low level radar navigation. During this period, the Lions operated from Zweibrücken, then moved in June 1969 to Baden-Soellingen, changing from 3 Wing to 4 Wing in the move.

During this era the squadron carried on the fine traditions of the Lions by winning several trophies such as the Air Division Trophy in 1965, the Bradshaw Trophy in 1966 and Top Gun in 1967 and 1970. Other highlights included the discovery in 1967 of DK 135, one of 427's Halifax bombers, in a marsh in Holland; parts of this aircraft are now held by the squadron as momentos. Also, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer met with the squadron in 1968 and presented the Lions with a film of the adoption ceremony that had taken place twenty-five years before. The squadron was disbanded on 1 July 1970.

The 427 Crest was not inactive for long, as the squadron was re-established on 1 January 1971, as a Tactical Helicopter Squadron with 10 Tactical Air Group of Mobile Command (and now of Air Command). The squadron is currently equipped with the CH 13 Twin Huey and the CH 136 Kiowa helicopters and operates out of CFB Petawawa.

ed. note:The Squadron is now equipped with the Bell CH 146 Griffon.

The Official Air Force Site

427 (Lion) Squadron was formed on November 7, 1942, as the eighth of fifteen Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Bomber Squadrons formed overseas. The squadron flew Wellington aircraft out of Croft, Yorkshire; then Halifax and Lancaster bombers out of Leeming from May 3, 1943. Its first Commanding Officer was Group Captain Dudley Burnside, DSO, OBE, DFC & Bar. Initially part of 4 Group, the Squadron was transferred to 6th Bomber (RCAF) Group where it remained until the end of the war.

The Lion Squadron amassed an enormous amount of flying hours and won an impressive list of Battle Honours and individual distinctions. In 3,200 sorties comprising 26,000 flying hours, they dropped an incredible amount of high explosives on Fortress Europe and its ports. During the war, 415 personnel were lost, another 121 were shot down and taken Joan Crawfordprisoner, and 14 escaped to allied lines. Indicative of the selfless bravery of the Lion crews were four Distinguished Service Orders, two Conspicuous Gallantry Medals, 16 Distinguished Flying Medals, and 147 Distinguished Flying Crosses.

On May 24, 1943, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer adopted the Squadron and allowed the names of such stars as Lana Turner, Greer Garson, Joan Crawford, Heddy Lamarr, and others to be displayed on the aircraft.

Sir Winston ChurchillIn addition, MGM presented a bronze lion to the Squadron. This gift and the affiliation with the MGM lion mascot strengthened the Squadron's nickname. Another highlight was the presentation of a lion cub, named Mareth, by the Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

1952: Re-Activated as Fighter Squadron

On August 1, 1952, the Lions were reactivated as a Fighter Squadron flying F-86 Sabres at St-Hubert, Quebec, before moving to Zweibrucken, Germany. The Squadron subsequently served in France, Morocco and Sardinia, as ambassadors for Canada, before becoming the first Canadian squadron to be equipped with the CF-104 Starfighter in 1962. The Squadron was again disbanded on July 1, 1970.

1971: Re-Activated as Tactical Helicopter Squadron

The Lions returned on January 1st, 1971, as a Tactical Helicopter Squadron based at Petawawa, Ontario, where they are to this day. Originally equipped with the L-19 Bird Dog, they received soon after the CH-136 Kiowa light observation helicopter, as well as the CH-135 Twin Huey utility helicopters. The Squadron has participated in numerous overseas operations such as Norway, Egypt, the Sinai Peninsula (Operation CALUMET), as well as a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Central America (Operation SULTAN). In 1992, 427 Squadron switched to a uniform fleet of CH-135 Twin Hueys. Soon after, in March 1993, a flight of Lions deployed to Somalia in support of Operation DELIVERANCE where they distinguished themselves in day and night operations. Maintaining its versatility in deployed operations, 427 supported United Nations support missions in Haiti from 1995 to the present on Operations PIVOT and STABLE).

427 Squadron retired the Twin Huey in July 1997, while receiving the last of the newly purchased BELL CH-146 Griffon Fleet. The Lions have used the Griffon in a number of operations to date, including Operation RECUPERATION (1998 Ice Storm), Operation CENTRAL (Honduras 1998), Operation HURRICANE (Artic 1999), Operation.

Palladium Roto 5 (1999-2000), Roto 7 in 2000-2001, and was the driving force behind Operation Palladium Roto 11/12 in Bosnia 2002-2003.

On February 1, 2006, the unit was renamed 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron and became a part of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM). As part of this newly formed command, 427 SOA Sqn provides an aviation capability to the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR), Joint Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Defence Company (JNBC Coy), and JTF2.

The Squadron will honor its glorious past by continuing to respond to today's challenges while looking forward to those of the future.

Ferte Manus Certas (Strike with a Sure Hand)

Special Operations Aviation (SOA) Era - History

Summer 1990 - A sub unit of 450 Squadron (Ottawa) was formed to provide dedicated aviation support to RCMP SERT (Special Emergency Response Team). This sub-unit was known as the SERT Assault Helicopter Flight. It consisted of three CH135, thirteen pilots, and six flight engineers.

April 1993 - The SERT role was transferred to JTF2. 450 Squadron was reorganized with the retirement of Chinooks to 6 CH135 Twin Hueys while retaining the army support role. 450 Squadron attempted to "re-role", going from a sub-unit size to a full size SAH (Special Aviation Helicopter) Squadron. Experience levels dropped as personnel were posted out and replaced with new members.

August 1994 - 450 Squadron moved from 7 Wing Ottawa to CFB Montreal. Response time increased; experience continued to be posted out; training costs increased, and the physical separation from DHTC (Dwyer Hill Training Centre) negatively affected the SAH capability. The DHTC ALO (Air Liason Officer) position was established and an initiative began for a 450 Squadron sub-unit to be co-located once again with DHTC.

April 1996 - An effort to stabilize and regain experience depth was initiated by posting experienced JASF (JTF2 Aviation Support Flight) Huey pilots back into 450 Squadron. Formalization of a JAS aircrew training course began. Longer tours of a minimum of 4 yrs were imposed, and a transition of personnel from 450 Squadron to a specialized flight formation at 427 Squadron in Petawawa was initiated.

Summer 1996 - 427 Squadron assumed the responsibility of support to JTF2 with the creation of a SOA (Special Operations Aviation) Flight (B Flight).

December 1996 - 427 Squadron transition to the CH146 commenced.

April 1997 - DHTC began intensive training on Griffons. By July, 80% of the first wave was trained. The second wave of training began in August in anticipation of the first tasking that would use the Griffon.

July 1997 - 427 Squadron retired the Twin Huey in July 1997, while receiving the last of the BELL CH-146 Griffon fleet.

November 1997 - B Flight was deployed in support of the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit in Vancouver.

December 1997 - C2 (Command and Control) relationships were re-evaluated between OC B Flight, the CO JTF2, and upwards to DCDS (Deputy Commander Defense Staff).

September 1999 - B Flight was deployed to Gagetown in support of the Francophone Summit held in Moncton.

June 2002 - B Flight was deployed to Alberta for OP (Operation) Grizzly during the G-8 Summit.

October 2005 - At a 19 October 2005 Armed Forces Council, as part of the overall Canadian Forces Transformation initiative, the CDS (Chief of the Defence Staff) directed that 427 Squadron be transferred to CANSOFCOM (Canadian Special Operations Forces Command) for OPCOM (Operational Control) with the Air Force retaining oversight of key processes required for the safe and effective generation of this specialized capability.

February 2006 - 01 February 2006, 427 Squadron transferred OPCOM (Operational Command) to CANSOFCOM.

April 2006 - B Flight received the CDS commendation for exemplary skill and outstanding aviation support to the increased tempo of JTF-2 operations and training.

July 2007 - 427 nomenclature was formally changed to 427 SOAS (427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron).

March 2008 - 427 SOAS expanded upon the B Flight expertise to form a more robust high readiness detachment-sized element as the integrated aviation component of the Immediate Response Task Force. The generation of an OOA (Out of Area) capability was also initiated.

Ed. Note: A DND Recruitment Brochure further explains the role of the CANSOFCOM force and 427s part in it. The Brochure is available at  NEWS.

Battle Honours - WW II

Major *English Channel & North Sea 1943-1945
Baltic 1944-1945
Fortress Europe 1943-1944
France & Germany 1944-1945
Biscay 1944
Subsidiary: Ruhr 1943-1945
Berlin 1943-1944
German Ports 1943-1945
Biscay Ports 1943-1944
Normandy 1944
Rhine 1944

427 Commanding Officers - 1942-2011

WW II 1942 - 1946

G/C D.H Burnside - Nov 1942 - Sep 1942
W/C R.S. Turnbull - Sep 1943 - Jan 1944
W/C G.J. Cribb - Jun 1944 - Aug 1944
W/C V.F. Ganderton - Sep 1944 - Mar 1945
W/C E.M. Bryson - May 1945 - Jun 1945
W/C C.R.C. Blagrave - Jun 1945 - Oct 1945
W/C J.C.R. Brown - Oct 1945 - May 1946

F-86 1952 - 1962

W/C C.L.V. Gervais - Aug 1952 - Jun 1954
S/L D.K. Burke - Jun 1954 - Sep 1955
W/C D.G. Laidler -Sep 1955 - Jul 1956
S/L L.J. Hubbard - Jul 1956 - October 1956
S/L W.R. Tew - Oct 1956 - May 1958
S/L H.R. Knight - May 1958 - Jul 1960
S/L D.R. Payne - Jul 1960 - Dec 1960
S/L P.B. St.Louis - Dec 1960 - Dec 1962

CF-104 1962 - 1970

W/C R.G. Middlemiss - Dec 1962 - Dec 1963
Maj. J.G. Joy - Jan 1964 - Feb 1964
W/C H.R. Knight - Feb 1964 - Jun 1965
Col. J.F. Dunlop - Jul 1965 - August 1965
Col. J.A.C. Tousigignant - Sep 1965 - Apr 1966
L/Col P.J.S. Higgs - May 1966 - Aug 1967
S/L D.W. McGowan - Sep 1967 - Oct 1967
L/Col R.E. Cauruthers - Oct 1967 - Jul 1969
L/Col T. Reid - Jul 1969 - Jun 1970

Helicopter 1971 - Present

L/Col J.P. Harrison - Jan 1971 - Feb 1972
Col. D.L. Glendinning - Feb 1972 - Jul 1973
L/Col D.M. McNaughton - Jul 1973 - Jul 1974
L/Col D.E. Munro - Jul 1974 - Jun 1976
Maj. K.D. Lavender - Jun 1976 - Aug 1976
L/Col W.R. Dobson - Aug 1976 - Jul 1978
L/Col J.E. Jackman - Jul 1978 - Jan 1980
L/Col H.A. Cunningham - Jan 1980 - Jun 1983
L/Col D.R. Foster - Jun 1983 - Jul 1985
L/Col E.H. Godson - Jul 1985 - Sep 1986
Maj. G.F. Ireland - Sep 1986 - Apr 1987
L/Col E.H. Godson - Apr 1987 - Jul 1988
Maj. D.A. McEachern - Jul 1988 - Apr 1989
L/Col E.A. Findley - Jul 1988 - Sep 1988
L/Col E.A. Findley - Apr 1989 - Feb 1990
Maj. G.F. Ireland - Feb 1990 - Aug 1990
L/Col D.R. Brown - Aug 1990 - May 1992
L/Col K.R. Sorfleet - May 1992 - Jun 1994
L/Col P.A. Campbell - Jun 1994 - Sep 1995
Maj. B.A. McQuade - Sep 1995 - Jun 1996
L/Col P.A. Campbell - Jun 1996 - Jun 1997
L/Col J.J.G.D. Guertin - Jun 1997 - Jul 2000
L/Col R.H. Meiklejohn - Jul 2000 - Aug 2002
L/Col M. R. Dabros - Aug 2002 - Jul 2004
L/Col C.J. Coates - Jul 2004 - Jun 2006
L/Col C.J.H. Drouin - Jun 2006 - Jun 2008
L/Col K.G. Whale - Jun 2008 - Jun 2010
L/Col J.J. Alexander - Jun 2010 - Jun 2012
L/Col T.A. Morehen - Jun 2012 - Jun 2014
L/Col J.R. Orr - Jun 2014 - July 2016
L/Col Clay Rook July 2016 -