Our affiliation with this famous World War 2 Bomber Squadron began in 1989 initiated by the late Philip Back DFC (PW 1990-91), a former Pathfinder pilot.
At the time, No. 617 Squadron were based at RAF Marham in Norfolk and equipped with Tornado GR1 all-weather bomber aircraft. The Squadron Commanding Officer was Wing Commander Bob Iveson.
In 2003, the Dambusters deployed 12 Tornado GR4s to Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, as part of Operation Telic. While deployed, the squadron continued its pioneering heritage by becoming the first RAF squadron to fire the MBDA Storm Shadow cruise missile on 3rd March 2003.
Later in 2003 to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Squadron’s formation, Her Majesty the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prime Warden and the Clerk of the Company were all invited to attend as official guests at the Squadron’ then home at RAF Lossiemout.
Change was in the air however and the Squadron disbanded in March 2014 as the Tornado force was gradually retired. in 2016 the Squadron began conversion training to the new F-35 (Lightning) before reforming as the first British squadron equipped with this aircraft in April 2018. The Lightning force is a joint military squadron and includes RAF and Royal Navy personnel, based at RAF Marham and also aboard the Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.
Since reformation, 617 Squadron have taken part in many joint exercises with allied forces in the Eastern Mediterranean area and in America and learnt the technique of landing on an aircraft carrier – described as ‘different’ by the 617 pilot involved! The squadron have also welcomed a new Commanding Officer, Commander Mark Sparrow RN, underlining the merging of skills inherent in the Lightning Force concept.
The Dyers Company is proud to be affiliated with 617 Squadron and looks forward to developing closer links in the future.