#1094 Apache AH Mk1
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Squadron Prints Lithograph No. 1094 - Apache AH Mk1, ZJ175, 654 Squadron AAC, 4 Regiment AAC, Wattisham. 654 Air Observation Post (AOP) Squadron formed on 15 July 1942 at Old Sarum, equipped with the Tiger Moth and Auster III. After some months of work-up training, the squadron was mobilised and sent to Algeria, North Africa, arriving on 4 March 1943. Initially allocated to the 9th Corps, it then transferred to the 8th Army. The North Africa campaign was then in its closing stages and during the summer of the same year, the squadron was involved in supporting the invasion of Sicily. By the autumn, the invasion of Italy had begun with the squadron consisting of three flights plus a squadron headquarters flight. During the subsequent campaign, these flights generally operated separately supporting, amongst others, the 10th Corps, the 1st Canadian Corps and the Polish Corps. Involvement in this campaign continued throughout 1944, with the squadron progressively re-equipping with the Auster IV. It was in October 1944 that Poland granted the squadron with the privilege of wearing the Syrena Badge (The Maid of Warsaw), and this has been proudly worn ever since. During the winter and spring of 1944/45, the Auster IVs continued their service in Italy carrying out information gathering and tank hunting in addition to its AOP role. The squadron remained in Italy until 1947, based at Ronchi and finally Udine. The squadron was disbanded on 24 June 1947 with the flights re-allocated to 651 AOP Squadron, then based in Palestine. 654 Light Aircraft Squadron re-formed at Hildesheim, Germany on 10 August 1958 with 4 and 5, and later 17 Reconnaissance Flights, supporting the 2nd and 4th Divisions. In October 1962, the 4th Division commitment was handed over to 655 Squadron and the squadron became part of the 2nd Division on 1 February 1963. By October 1969, the squadron was based at Herford and was equipped with the Sioux and Scout helicopters. As part of the Wide Horizon re-structuring programme, 654 Squadron moved to Soest and was re-numbered 653 Squadron, whilst at the same time, 661 Squadron moved to Detmold and was re-numbered 654 Squadron as part of 4 Regiment, Army Air Corps, supporting the 4th Division. The squadron’s Scouts changed to the Anti-Tank Guided Weapons role in the summer of 1978, and that also marked the arrival of the Westland Lynx in the Utility role. On 21 February 1981, the squadron took delivery of the first Lynx fitted with TOW Missiles to replace the Scouts in the Anti-Tank role, and was heavily involved in the trials and demonstration of the new equipment. In 1983, another amalgamation saw 664 Squadron move from 4 Regiment and two squadrons from 9 Regiment move to join 654 Squadron in Detmold, therefore, the entire Regiment was co-located for the first time in its history, with two attack squadrons, 654 and 659 Squadrons, consisting of nine Lynx and three Gazelle helicopters, and one reconnaissance squadron, 669 Squadron with twelve Gazelle helicopters. On 16 November 1990 the squadron was readied for deployment to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation DESERT SHIELD, and on 24 February 1991 the squadron moved into Iraq in support of Operation DESERT SABRE. Notably, on 26 February, its Lynx engaged and destroyed seven armoured vehicles of the Iraqi 12th Armoured Division. At the end of hostilities the squadron returned to Detmold on 22 March without having suffered any losses. In December 1994 the squadron began its move with the rest of 4 Regiment to Wattisham Airfield in Suffolk where it trained to support 24 Airmobile Brigade. On 15 December 1996 the squadron deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina in support of NATO on Operation LODESTAR, its role consisting mainly of liaison, re-supply and support of special operations. The squadron returned on 17 June 1997, again without loss. In 2006 the squadron began conversion to the Westland Apache AH1 attack helicopter, and in September 2008 during Operation HERRICK, it was used in anger by the squadron for the first time. The squadron returned to Wattisham, again without loss, in January 2009. The next deployment in support of Operation HERRICK was in September 2010.