THE HISTORIC wartime 434 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force, has been re-formed at a ceremony at Trenton, Ontario. Commanded by Lt Col Graham Edwards, 434 Operational Test and Evaluation Sqn stood up on 31 May 2018 and forms part of the Aerospace Warfare Centre. The Centre draws together the Test and Evaluation Flights of all RCAF roles and types to ensure the RCAF has the operational capability to develop current as well as future air power capabilities.
First raised at Tholthorpe, Yorkshire, in 1943 as part of RAF Bomber Command, 434 Sqn flew Halifaxes and Lancasters in the night offensive against Germany. On formation the squadron was adopted by the Rotary Club of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and so the fabled Lunenburg schooner, Bluenose, became the centrepiece of the squadron’s badge – 434 Sqn was thereafter nicknamed ‘Bluenose’ squadron.
During more than 2,500 night bombing sorties, 434 Sqn dropped more than 10,000 tons of bombs, but their war efforts came at a cost. The unit lost 75 aircraft and almost 500 aircrew, and its members were awarded a total of 108 DFCs, eight bars to the DFC and six DFMs.
Having been disbanded after the war, 434 Sqn was re-formed in 1952 in the fighter role as part of the RCAF contribution to NATO, flying the Sabre and CF-104 Starfighter in Europe until the late 1960s. It was then re-established in Canada flying the CF-5 Freedom Fighter until these were withdrawn in 1989. Then 434 Sqn was stood up in the combat support role in 1992, flying a mix of CT-133 Silver Star trainers and CL-600 Challenger electronic warfare aircraft for a decade until once more being disbanded.
During the Second World War 434 Squadron earned ten Battle Honours, eight of which are borne on its colours, once more proudly held by the squadron.