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.
you have any suggested additions, deletions and/or corrections, please email
them to either Capt Sarah Thornton
or Capt Perry Comeau.
HISTORY OF THE 423 SQUADRON
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
423 Squadron has many battle honours which are represented by the Squadron
The Second World War
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
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
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.
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