A Vancouver Island-based squadron with roots in the United Kingdom continues to defend freedom, eight decades on.
The 407 Squadron was formed on May 8, 1941, at RAF Thorney Island in the United Kingdom as a coastal strike squadron and soon earned the name and reputation as “Demons,” a moniker that is worn proudly on uniform patches today.
“Within the first twelve months of their operation in the war, they sank about 500,000 tons of enemy shipping and that earned them the name of the Demons,” said Lt-Cl. Filip Bohac, commanding officer, 407 Squadron.
In 1943, it was reclassified as an anti-submarine warfare squadron and moved to Comox in 1952.
“That’s the same role that we still have today,” added Bohac. “We do maritime patrol, maritime reconnaissance and overland support in addition to our primary function which is still anti-submarine warfare.”
The squadron has used different planes in Comox beginning with the Avro Lancaster Bomber, the P2V7 Neptune, and the CP-107 Argus. Then in 1981, it began flying the CP-140 Aurora which is still used today making it the squadron’s longest-serving aircraft.
“I like flying on the Aurora, it’s one of the most challenging airframes we have and it’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had,” said Cpt. Ian Paone, an Air Combat Systems Officer.
“Ironically the 40th anniversary of us receiving the CP-140 Aurora is coming up in June of this year so almost for half of the squadron’s history we’ve been flying the same aircraft and that’s the CP-140 Aurora,” added Bohac.
There is no immediate replacement coming for the Aurora but the crews who fly it like the plane. It has state-of-the-art mission systems and the Aurora was an integral part of a major drug bust during a counter-narcotics operation in El Salvador recently.
“We had a major score there where we caught over 2000 kilograms of illicit narcotics worth in excess of $120 million,” said Bohac.
280 people make up 407 Squadron at 19 Wing Comox and 80 years later it’s a coveted posting for members of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
“This job is super challenging and there’s nothing like it anywhere in the world,” said Paone.