Squadron History

No.443 (MH) Squadron
Royal Canadian Air Force
CFB Shearwater Sep 1974 - Present

Battle Honours: Fortress Europe 1944, France and Germany 1944 - 1945, Normandy 1944, Arnhem, Rhine.

Badge: A Hornet affronte

Motto: Our sting is death

Number 443 Squadron originally formed in at Dartmouth Nova Scotia as No. 127 Squadron on 1 July 1942. Equipped with Hurricane fighters, the squadron's primary role was providing air defence for the Atlantic approaches to North America, especially Halifax's strategic harbour. In February 1944, No 127 Squadron was transferred to England and in keeping with the Royal Canadian Air Force's (RCAF) policy of assigning overseas squadrons a 400 series squadron number No. 127 was renumbered to No. 443 Squadron and equipped with the famous Spitfire fighter. As a member of 144 Wing of the Second Tactical Air Force, the squadron provided crucial air support during the D-Day landings in Normandy, until August 1944. From September 1944 until VE Day, 443 Squadron flew with the RCAF's No. 126 and 127 Wings and provided tactical air support for the allied armies advancing through Belgium and Holland. The squadron then continued to serve with the British Occupation Forces until disbanding on 21 March 1946.

In 1951, 443 Squadron reformed in Vancouver as a fighter squadron in the RCAF Auxiliary, equipped with P-51 Mustangs, Harvards, T-33 Silver Stars and, eventually F-86 Sabres. In 1958, the RCAF's Auxiliary squadrons were assigned the new roles of Civil Defence, Search and Rescue and Light Transport. Consequently, 443 Squadron was re-equipped with the C-45 Expeditor and DHC-3 Otter, performing these roles until its second disbandment in March 1964.

A decade later, the Royal Canadian Navy's only ship borne helicopter squadron, HS 50, had successfully pioneered the concept of flying anti-submarine missions from the flight decks of small destroyers. However, to meet the Navy's commitments HS 50 had grown to an enormous size making it difficult to exercise effective command and control. Therefore, HS 50 was decommissioned and divided in two and on 3 September 1974, HS 423 and HS 443, two former RCAF squadrons with a proud, battle proven history, were reactivated at CFB Shearwater. 443 Squadron had returned to Dartmouth, it's 127 Squadron ancestral home.

     HS 423 and HS 443 continued to embark operational Sea King helicopter detachments on Maritime Command ships. In response to the growing requirement for helicopter-carrying destroyers on Canada's Pacific Coast, 443 Squadron was transferred to Pat Bay BC in July 1989. Although, providing helicopter support to Maritime Command Pacific, 443 Squadron remains under command of the Wing Commander 12 Wing Shearwater to provide centralized control of all of Canada's Sea King helicopters.

The Sea King helicopter's all weather, day and night capability, combined with the ship's Bear-trap landing and traversing system permits the aircraft to operate from destroyer size ships in the roughest of weather. The Sea King operates as an extension of the ship's weapons system and is ideally suited for anti-submarine operations as well as surface surveillance, over-the-horizon targeting and search and rescue.

With the demise of the Cold War, HS 443 became more involved in a number of government inter-departmental roles such as sovereignty surveillance of Canada's Exclusive Economic Zone, support to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the RCMP. With its expanded mandate to provide support to other government departments, HS 443 along with its sister squadron, HS 423 at Shearwater, were redesignated Maritime Helicopter Squadrons in 1995 to reflect both their military and government support roles.