Friday, 1 January 2021

Royal Air Force Disbands Historical D-Day Group

On 31st December 2020, the Royal Air Force marked the end of yet another chapter in the rich and diverse history of Number 38 Group with its disbandment.

Originally formed mid-way through the Second World War as part of Fighter Command, the Group’s motto is ‘Par Nobile Fratrum’, or ‘A Noble Pair of Brothers’, reflecting the interoperability between the newly formed Group and Airborne forces that endured throughout its early years.

Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said: “Number 38 Group has contributed immeasurably to operations in the UK and worldwide since its reformation six years ago. Its disbandment marks a new chapter in the way we enable future air and space operations. The newly-formed RAF Support Force in No. 2 Group will have the structure, connectivity and resources we need to sustain our battle-winning next-generation Royal Air Force.”

The Group has played a significant role in global operations from its origins in the 1940s to the 21st Century.  Over its history, it has commanded rotary, fast-jet and transport aircraft including the Stirling, Halifax, Hawker Hunter, Javelin, Harrier, Hercules, Jaguar, VC-10, Chinook and Puma.

Its numerous operations include supporting the Special Operations Executive in the Second World War on Operation OVERLORD with the airdrop of some 24,000 troops and equipment into German occupied Western Europe. In 1948 the Group was heavily involved in the Berlin Airlift where its Blackburn Beverley and Handley Page aircraft contributed to the allied Air Forces landing or taking-off every 30 seconds, culminating in over 2.3 million tons of cargo delivered by 300,000 individual sorties.

In 1967, using aircraft such as the lesser-known Scottish Aviation Pioneer, the Group was used for casualty evacuation in the Malayan Emergency, Aden and Cyprus. Following the Cold-War years, the Group played a major part in Operation DENY FLIGHT, the NATO operation to restrict airspace movements over Bosnia in 1993.

Reformation in 2014 saw the Group bring together the RAF’s Engineering, Logistics, Communications and Medical Operations units. During the last six years, the specialisations within the Group have supported a range of aircraft and delivered air power on operations around the world.  Most recently they have supported a number of UK based activities including the government’s response to COVID-19.

The Wings, Squadrons and individuals that make up 38 Group will now come under the command of other RAF Groups and business areas including the recently formed integrated Support Force.  

Air Vice-Marshal Simon Ellard, Air Officer Commanding 38 Group commented: “The creation of the Support Force, bringing together the engineering, logistics, communications, cyber and medical Support Force Elements together for the first time under single 1-star leadership, will enhance the Next Generation Air Force’s ability to operate in an increasingly expeditionary manner. This re-organisation leads to the sad retirement of 38 Group, but everyone associated with this distinguished organisation can take pride in the most recent noble chapter of the Group’s history.”

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