The squadron motto is In omnibus princeps (Latin for "first in all things"), appropriate for the RAF's oldest squadron and one that has been involved in almost every major British military operation since World War I. This includes World War II, Suez, Falklands War, Gulf War, Kosovo War and Operation Telic (Iraq).
On 13 May 1912, with the establishment of the Royal Flying Corps, No. 1 Company of the Air Battalion was redesignated No. 1 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps. No. 1 Squadron was one of the original three Royal Flying Corps squadrons. Maitland continued as the new Squadron's Officer Commanding and he was promoted to major several days after the establishment of the squadron. On 1 May 1914, Major Charles Longcroft was appointed as the new squadron commander. Apart from a few weeks as a supernumerary in August and September 1914, Longcroft continued as the squadron commander until January 1915.
No 1(Fighter) Squadron, Royal Air Force Cottesmore, can trace its history back to 1878 when it was formed at Woolwich as No 1 Balloon Company of the Royal Engineers. It became No 1 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps on 13 May 1912, still with balloons, but re-equipped with aircraft 2 years later.
It returned to 11 Group in early 1941 and was employed in fighter sweeps and bomber escort duties. In February, it began "Rhubarb" (low-level sweeps over occupied territory) and night flying missions, and was re-equipped with the Hurricane IIA. The Squadron carried out night intruder patrols until July 1942, when it was re-equipped with the Hawker Typhoon fighter-bomber and relocated to RAF Acklington, Northumberland where it reverted to daytime operations.
The Squadron was equipped with the Spitfire XI in April 1944, and in June began anti-V1 patrols, shooting down 39 flying bombs. Later in the year it reverted to bomber escort duties. In May 1945 it converted to the Spitfire Mk.21, but these were only used operationally to cover the landings on the Channel Islands.
In October 1948 Major Robin Olds, USAF, under the U.S. Air Force/Royal Air Force exchange program was posted in and flying the Gloster Meteor jet fighter, he eventually served as commander of the Squadron at RAF Station Tangmere, the first non-commonwealth foreigner to command an RAF unit. During his time with 1 Sqn he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
The squadron disbanded on 23 June 1958. However, on 1 July 1958 the squadron was reformed by re-numbering No. 263 Squadron RAF at RAF Stradishall. It then moved to RAF Waterbeach from where, flying the Hunter FGA9, it operated in the ground attack role as part of 38 Group. The Squadron continued in this role for the next eight years, operating out of Waterbeach and then RAF West Raynham.
No. 1 Sqn left the "home of the Harrier" at RAF Wittering for RAF Cottesmore on 28 July 2000. Cottesmore is now home to all operational RAF Harrier squadrons - No. 20 (Reserve) Squadron, the Harrier Operational Conversion Unit remained at Wittering.
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