Two of our Trustees had a fascinating time when they attended a lunch and lecture organised by the Polish Airmen’s Association UK to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the formation of No 663 Squadron.
Deborah Burns and Wing Commander Andrew Simpson RAFVR(T) rtd heard a number of speakers outline the history of the squadron, which was formed at San Basilio, Italy in 1944.
The new squadron was manned by Polish personnel and equipped with Auster spotter aircraft, allowing it to provide support for the 8th Army for the rest of the Second World War.
Disbanded in 1946, it was re-formed as a Royal Auxiliary Air Force unit in 1949, again equipped with Austers, until it was disbanded ten years later. The unit was reformed as an army air unit, No 663 Aviation Squadron, in October 1969 at Netheravon, Wiltshire, and played an important role supporting army formations in the Salisbury Plain area.
It was equipped with the Bell Sioux AH.1 helicopter, followed by the Westland Scout AH.1 turbine helicopter. On 1 January 1973 the unit was renamed No 663 Squadron Army Air Corps. The Squadron again disbanded in July 1977.
Following a restructuring of Army Air Squadrons, No 660 Squadron was redesignated No 663 Squadron, part of 3 Regiment Army Air Corps. Since 1993 it has been based at the ex-RAF Wattisham Airfield in Suffolk, equipped with Boeing AH-64 D Apache attack helicopters.
No 663 Squadron AAC was well represented at the lunch, and during an interesting and informative talk on the current role of the squadron it became apparent that the unit often overflies the Battle of Britain Memorial here at Capel-le-Ferne.
Other speakers gave equally interesting talks on the history of the squadron, which drew personnel from places such as Archangel and which trained in Bloemfontein, South Africa, before its formation in Italy.
“We were pleased to be able to support the Polish Airmen’s Association UK at this very enjoyable and interesting gathering,” said Trustee Andrew Simpson.