Editorial Note: (22 January 2002)


The year 2002 marks the 60th anniversary of 423 Squadron. The Squadron has compiled this copy of its history from many sources, and work on it continues still. It is indeed a work in progress. We hope to have this history completed and published before the Squadron Reunion in May 2002.

If you have any suggested additions, deletions and/or corrections, please email them to either Capt Sarah Thornton or Capt Perry Comeau.



The 423 Squadron has a rich and distinguished history. Since its formation in 1942 to counter the German U-boat blockade of Britain, to the more recent operations in the Gulf War, the men and women of the 423 Squadron have represented Canada well.

The 423 Squadron has many battle honours which are represented by the Squadron Colours.


The Second World War 1942-1945

There are many chapters to the 423 Squadron history. The period of the World War II is known as the "Sunderland Era". The squadron was originally formed 1942 and used Sunderland aircraft. These were flying boats, landing and taking off on the ocean surface. Their specialty was long-range ocean surveillance. The Sunderland was deployed to search and destroy German U-boats which were inflicting massive losses in Allied shipping. The large aircraft could carry 10,000 pounds of freight and armaments, or up to 20 passengers in addition to the normal crew of eleven. Based on the west coast of Scotland, the wartime accomplishments of the Sunderland flying boats were extensive. The Squadron saw considerable action escorting over 300 Allied convoys and were credited with numerous German U-boats "kills" when disbanded in 1945.


The Cold War and Canucks 1953-1962

The second chapter of the 423 Squadron would be the Cold War from 1953 to 1962. This was the era of the Avro CF-100 Canuck Jet Fighter. In 1953 the Squadron was initially based in St. Hubert, Quebec but relocated to Grostenquin, France in 1956; joining the Canadian Air Division in Europe at the height of the Cold War. Charged with maintaining air sovereignty in Europe in the face of world events including the building of the Berlin Wall and the Cuban Missile Crisis, the 423 Squadron performed admirably, fulfilling Canada's commitment to NATO. The 423 Squadron was disbanded in 1962 as a cost cutting measure, being replaced by the newer CF-104 Starfighter.


The Sea King Era 1974-1995

Resurrected again in 1974, as a Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron, the 423 was equipped with Sikorsky Helicopters. Their role was to work with the new 280 class helicopter-carrying destroyers of the Canadian Navy providing a valuable extension to the search and attack abilities of the ships. Based out of Shearwater Nova Scotia the 423 Squadron provided detachments of helicopters, aircrew and technicians to the Destroyers. The peacetime forces took new responsibilities. In concert with the RCMP and the Coast Guard, Sea King crews monitored foreign fishing vessels and conducted fisheries surveillance enforcing Canada's new 200 mile limit. In addition they regularly provided Sea Air Rescue and evacuation services, developing new techniques for high seas emergencies. These duties where in addition to the required military manoeuvres to prepare for combat readiness and submarine patrols.

The 1990's brought many changes in world order and with them the 423 Squadron's duties included the blockade of Iraq, U.N. support in Somalia, the blockade of the former Republic of Yugoslavia and similar duties in Haiti. Today the role of the 423 Squadron has taken on many new dimensions: it has become an invaluable extension to the ships it accompanies providing fleet support and surface search capabilities.