It was a weeklong celebration last month as ‘Goose’ Squadron marked the 67th anniversary of 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron (THS), located in Edmonton, Alta.
“It’s important to take the time to recognize our rich history and just have some time to enjoy together,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Roger Gagnon, 408 THS commanding officer. “Here at 408 THS we are like family and it’s important for family to work hard – which we do – and also play hard.”
The squadron's history dates back to June 24, 1941, when Bomber Command's directive called for the formation of 408 Squadron as part of No. 5 (RAF) Group. It was to be the second Canadian bomber squadron formed overseas. The Squadron was initially based at Lindholm, Yorkshire, England, and equipped with Handley-Page Hampdens.
During the war, the Goose Squadron changed from the Hampden aircraft to Halifax, to Lancaster, to Halifax, and back to Lancaster aircraft.
It flew 4,610 sorties and dropped 11,340 tons of bombs. A total of 170 aircraft were lost and 933 personnel were killed, listed as missing in action (MIA) or prisoners of war (POW).
Squadron members won 200 decorations, and 11 battle honours for its wartime operations.
In 1945, 408 Squadron was disbanded only to be reformed in 1949. From 1949 until 1970, 408 Squadron moved from Rockcliffe, Ont. to Rivers, Man. The squadron was equipped with aircraft ranging from Lancasters, T-33s, Dakotas, C-119 Boxcars, CC-130 Hercules, Cansos, and Norseman.
408 Squadron was disbanded for one more year and then in 1971 became 408 THS flying CH-135 Twin Hueys and CH-136 Kiowas. Today it continues to fly strong with CH-146 Griffons.
To start the anniversary week, 408 THS flew a 10-ship flypast over the Edmonton Garrison and surrounding communities. To get 10 of the 14 Griffons in the air at the same time is a great testament to the hard work performed by the technicians, operations staff and air crew alike.
“A week like this really gives one a sense of unit pride. I’m proud of the work everyone here does all year – this week is a special way in which to recognize it,” said LCol Gagnon.