Squadron History


No.423 (MH) Squadron
Royal Canadian Air Force
Shearwater Sep. 1974 - Present

Battle Honours: Atlantic 1942 - 1945, English Channel and North Sea 1944-1945,    Normandy 1944, Biscay 1944, Gulf and Kuwait.

Badge: A bald-headed eagle Volant

Motto: Quaerimus et petimus (We search and strike)

No. 423 Squadron formed as a General Reconnaissance squadron at Oban, Argyll, Scotland on 18 May 1942 as the Royal Canadian Air Force's (RCAF) 21 st squadron (sixth and last coastal squadron) to be formed overseas. On 2 November 1942 the Squadron moved to Castle Archdale, Northern Ireland from where it flew Sunderland flying boats on anti-submarine and convoy escort patrols over the Atlantic shipping lanes until the end of the Second World War.

No. 423 Squadron was one of the RCAF's most successful anti-submarine squadrons in the war. It flew 1392 operational sorties totaling 16,277 hours in often appalling weather, which resulted in 26 attacks on 41 submarine sightings. Five U-boats were destroyed, two of which were shared with naval destroyers, and a sixth was damaged. However, the squadron's greatest success was the untold number of ships that were not sunk because submarines were deterred from their attacks by the presence of aircraft. The squadron suffered six aircraft casualties and 40 aircrew killed in action with

The squadron suffered six aircraft casualties and 40 aircrew killed in action with another nine aircrew killed on non-operational sorties. 423 Squadron won battle honours for action over the Atlantic, English Channel and North Sea, Normandy and the Bay of Biscay.

When hostilities ended in Europe, there was a need for more long range transport units to support the proposed "Tiger Force" in the Pacific and the squadron was redesignated Transport on 5 June 1945. Shortly after the squadron began converting to Liberator aircraft, the war in the Far East ended and 423 Squadron was disbanded on 4 September 1945.

No. 423 Squadron reformed as an All-Weather (Fighter) unit at St. Hubert (Montreal) Quebec on 1 June 1953. The squadron flew CF-100 aircraft on North American air defence until February 1957 when it was transferred to No. 2 (Fighter) Wing at Grostenquin France as part of the RCAF's No. 1 Air Division in Europe. No. 1 Air Division was comprised of four wings and formed Canada's NATO contribution to the air defence of Western Europe. No. 423 All-Weather Squadron replaced No. 416, a day fighter squadron, to give No. 2 Wing an all-weather intercept capability. When the RCAF withdrew the CF-100 from operational service, the squadron was disbanded on 31 December 1962.

When the navy's HS 50 helicopter anti-submarine squadron became administratively too large it was divided into two squadrons with former RCAF numbers; 423 and 443. No. 423 was reactivated on 3 September 1974 at CFB Shearwater and reassumed its original role as an anti-submarine squadron. Flying Sea King helicopters, the squadron was designated HS 423. The primary mission of HS 423 was to embark helicopter air detachments on the navy's destroyers and replenishment ships as an integral part of the ships' weapon systems. For its meritorious service in "Operation Friction" during the 1990 Persian Gulf War HS 423 added "Gulf And Kuwait" to the battle honours earned during the Second World War. In 1994, HS 423 was redesignated a Maritime Helicopter squadron, MH 423, to reflect its expanded maritime reconnaissance role, including support to other government departments and peacekeeping operations.