Farewell, Blood & Bones

Formed as part of the old Royal Flying Corps in February 1917, today’s No. 100 Squadron RAF has an impressive history that includes four battle honors for the Great War and was the last squadron to land from a combat mission before the Armistice was signed in 1918.

The squadron’s original, and very distinctive, red flag, bearing a skull and crossbones, was apparently liberated from a French bordello in 1918 by one of those daring young flyboys, then embellished with the squadron name and the motto “Blood and Bones.” 

As a night bomber unit over the Western Front just 15 years after the aeroplane first flew, you had to have a certain sense of humor.

This relic was carried with the squadron as late as February 1942, at which point the squadron was deployed to Singapore and flew their hopelessly obsolete Vildebeest Mark III torpedo bombers against the Japanese, part of the 10 battle honors earned by the squadron for WWII.

Vickers Vildebeest Mark IIs, K2918, and K2921, of ‘A’ Flight, No. 100 (TB) Squadron, at RAF Seletar, southeast of Singapore, 1939. IWM HU 59786. Roy Mager photographer.

With its aircraft destroyed in the Japanese advance, and its personnel either killed or turned into POWS, the circa 1918 Bone and Brains flag disintegrated while being looked after by a Flight Lieutenant Trillwood, a victim of the hellish conditions along the Irrawaddy.

For the past 30 years, No. 100 Squadron has been flying Hawker Siddeley Hawks, first at RAF Finningley then RAF Leeming and that chapter is coming to an end. The RAF has decided that all Hawk T1s, other than those flown by the Red Arrow demonstration team, would be retired by 31 March 2022.

Last week, RAF Leeming debuted the farewell tail flash on Hawk XX221, depicting the old No. 100 “Blood and Bones” flag.

End of an era.

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