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No 2 Squadron

No 2 Squadron formed at Kantara, Egypt, in September 1916 and after training in England began combat operations over the Western Front in October 1917. Flying at very low levels, the Australian pilots wreaked havoc on the German troops, however, exposed to heavy ground fire, squadron casualties were high.

Lieutenant Huxley claimed No 2 Squadron's - and indeed the Australian Flying Corp's - first aerial victory on 22 November, when he shot down an Albatross scout during a ground strafing mission. From 1917 until the end of the war, No 2 Squadron worked in close co-operation with No 4 Squadron and continued to inflict heavy losses on the Germans.

When Word War II was declared in 1939, No 2 Squadron Avro Ansons were conducting coastal patrols and providing convoy escort to the ships carrying Australian troops to the Middle East. After deploying to the Dutch East Indies in 1941, reconnaissance and bombing operations were mounted against the advancing Japanese forces. In the face of attacks on its bases and heavy losses to enemy fighters, No 2 Squadron maintained its offensive efforts for the remainder of the war, providing vital information on Japanese shipping movements.

In recognition of No 2 Squadron's heroic stand in this, Australia's darkest hour, the unit was later awarded a United States Presidential Unit Citation - the highest honour that can be bestowed on a combat unit by the United States government.

In 1958, No 2 Squadron moved to Butterworth on Malaya's east coast, providing vital security during the 1960's when tensions with Indonesia and the newly-independent Malaysia resulted in a period of "Confrontation" between Commonwealth and Indonesian forces.

April 1967 saw No 2 Squadron commence operations against Communist forces in Vietnam. Missions were flown both day and night and No 2 Squadron quickly established itself as the most effective bomber squadron in Vietnam. On its return to Australia in 1971, having flown nearly 12,000 operational sorties for the loss of only two aircraft, No 2 Squadron was awarded the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry and a United States Air Force Outstanding Unit Commendation.

These two awards, combined with the Presidential Unit Citation awarded previously, give No 2 Squadron the distinction as the most highly decorated unit in the Air Force. After flying its last operational flight in July 1982 the squadron was disbanded. The squadron reformed at RAAF Base Williamtown in January 2000, and will be the Air Force's designated Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) Squadron under the command of the Surveillance and Response Group. In May 2010 No 2 Squadron once again returned to the skies in the Boeing Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft. Initial efforts for the squadron have concentrated on conducting conversion courses for aircrew and maintenance personnel, and in July 2011, marked an important milestone with participation in Exercise Talisman Sabre alongside US Forces and other ADF assets

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