Historical Aircraft

437 Squadron

 

No. 437 Squadron

Badge: A husky’s head affronte erased

Motto: Omnia passim (Anything anywhere)

Authority: King George VI, April 1945

Nicknamed the “Husky Squadron,” this unit adopted as its badge a husky’s head indicative of its function of glider towing and the transporta­tion of essential freight.

Formed at Blakehill Farm, Wiltshire, England on 14 September 1944 as the RCAF’s 32nd – first of three Transport -squadrons formed overseas, the unit flew Dakota aircraft on air transport duty. Three days after its formation, it airlifted part of the British airborne force to Arnhem. Four days later, it suffered its first casualties when four of ten aircraft dispatched on a resupply mission to Arnhem failed to return. On 24 March 1945, the unit took part in the airborne crossing of the Rhine at Wesel (Operation “Varsity”) towing 24 Horsa gliders containing 230 men of the 1st Royal Ulster Rifles, 13 jeeps with trailers and six jeeps with 6-pounder guns. After hostilities, the squadron provided air transport service to Canadian units on the Continent until disbanded at Odiham, Hampshire on 15 June 1946.

Brief Chronology: Formed at Blakehill Farm, Wilts., Eng. 14; Sep 44. Disbanded at Odiham, Hants. 15 Jun 46.

Title or Nickname: “Husky”

Adoption: Hudson’s Bay Company, Winnipeg, Man.

Commanders

  • W/C J.A. Sproule (Can/RAF), DFC1 14 Sep 44 – 14 Sep 45.
  • W/C A.R. Holmes 15 Sep 45 – 15 Jun 46.

Higher Formations and Squadron Locations

Transport Command:

No. 46 Group,

  • Blakehill Farm, Wilts. 14 Sep 44 – 6 May 45.

No. 11 Wing,

  • B.(Base) 75 Nivelles, Bel. 7 May 45 – 6 Jun 45.
  • B.58 Melsbroek, Bel. 7 Jun 45 – 14 Sep 45.

No. 88 Group, 6 aircraft, Oslo, Norway 17 Jul – 27 Nov 45.

No. 120 (RCAF) Wing, 6 aircraft, Odiham, Hants. 1 Aug 14 Nov 45.

  • B.56 Evere, Bel. 15 Sep 45 – 14 Nov 45.

No. 120 (RCAF) Wing,

  • Odiham, Hants. 15 Nov 45 – 15 Jun 46.

14 aircraft, No. 111 Wing, B.56 Evere, Bel. 15 Nov 45 Mar 46.

  • Croydon, Surrey 13 Mar – 30 May 46.

Representative Aircraft (Unit Code 1944-45 Z2, 1945-46 ODO)

Douglas Dakota Mk.III & IV (Sep 44 – Jun 46)

  • FZ669 Q* FZ692 R FZ694 P FZ695 AW KG312 G KG330 E KG345 V KG354 H KG389 B* KG394 0 KG395 Y KG600 C KG634 T KG808 M KN256 L KN262 V KN278 W KN281 N
  • *Used on first Arnhem mission

Operational History: First Mission 17 September 1944. 15 Dakotas from Blakehill Farm despatched on Operation “Market Garden”, the airborne assault on Arnhem, 1 aborted. Twelve Horsa gliders were released, containing 146 men of the British 1st Airborne Division, plus 16 bicycles, 10 motorcycles, 5 jeeps, 6 trailers, 2 handcarts, 4 blitz buggies, 3 wireless sets.

Last Mission: 30 May 1946, Dakota KG577 ODO-K with PIO J.E. Thompson and crew – Brussels, Belgium to Odiham with 6 passengers, 300 pounds of mail and 3024 pounds of freight.

Summary Sorties: 11,625.

  • Operational/Non-operational Flying Hours: 32,35512884.
  • Airlifted (only post-war data available, Nov 45 – Jun 46): 152.3 tons of mail, 1415.3 freight; 25,269 passengers, 180 casualties.
  • Casualties:
    • Operational: 14 aircraft; 17 aircrew, of whom 2 were killed, 14 missing, 1 wounded.
    • Non-operational: nil.

Honours and Awards: 1 OBE, 8 DFC’s, 2 AFC’s, 1 DFM, 1 MiD’s, 3 King’s Commendations.

Battle Honours: France and Germany 1944-1945: Arnhem, Rhine.

(1) Transferred from the RAF to the RCAF on 4 October 1944.