100 Squadron was ordered to move to Ligescourt, South West of Calais, on 16th November 1918. The Squadron personnel, and some of the ground equipment, arrived at Ligescourt on 22nd November, where it settled down to await orders for the return to ′Blighty′.
The record of 100 Squadron had been excellent during hostilities and it was this, which may have delayed the return of the Squadron to the UK. Major Burge suspected that 100 Squadron was to be disbanded, and he began ′lobbying′ for the Squadron to be retained in the peacetime air force.
During the winter of 1918-1919, Burge began the task of writing-up “The Annals of 100 Squadron”, which was published in June 1919. This book is still in print in 2008, almost 90 years after it was first published. Several direct quotes are well worth making here, and we shall also return to them later.
Although Burge was under the impression that 100 Squadron would be disbanded, he was clearly very proud of ′his′ Squadron, and this is evident in the Conclusion to the book when he wrote: “It has been a great honour and a pleasure to have commanded 100 Squadron…My task as CO was considerably lightened by the energetic support which I at all times received from one and all serving under me. Pilots and Observers, always full of determination and keenness, unselfish and cheerful at all times, won for themselves and the Squadron the greatest admiration…The order of General Trenchard ”to keep it going” was carried out to the letter. No less can be written concerning the Ground Personnel. Their task was no light one, and their devotion to duty greatly contributed towards the success of the Pilots and Observers. The excellent manner in which they supported and co-operated with the aircrew ensured success.” Burge went on: “I would, however, point out to all ranks that our traditions must not leave us; to quote Major-General Trenchard’s words to me, ‘It’s traditions which count and which make people keep straight’ and although the Squadron has been disbanded, those who belonged to 100 Squadron should remember in future what a Squadron they belonged to.”
However, by June of 1919, Burge had been made aware that 100 Squadron would in fact be retained, and become one of the regular squadrons of the Royal Air Force. Having learned this, Burge added a postscript to ′The Annals′, writing: “This is indeed news which will be received with great enthusiasm by all ranks who have served with the Squadron. I am sure one and all will wish 100 success in its peacetime role. To all those who serve in the Squadron, we offer our best wishes. Our message to them is this: Keep up the good name of 100, carry through its traditions, keep it going, and play the game!”
In September 1919, 100 Squadron returned to ′Blighty′, where it was reduced in size prior to posting to Baldonnel, Co. Dublin as part of 11 (Irish) Group. The Squadron returned to full strength in February 1920 when it absorbed the remains of 117 and 141 Squadrons. It remained at Baldonnel for another year flying Bristol F2b fighters engaged mainly in dropping propaganda leaflets and delivering mail.
In February 1920, Major Burge handed over command to Sqn Ldr, the Honorable, L J E Twistleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, who remained in command until November. Sqn Ldr J V Steel OBE assumed command for a short time until 19th February 1921 when Sqn Ldr F Sowrey took over.
On 4th February 1922, the Squadron was posted to Spitalgate near Grantham in Lincolnshire and re-equipped with Avro 504Ks and DH9As to become a training unit. In March 1922, four Vickers Vimy aircraft were received and ′D′ Flight was formed. Pilots were trained on the 504s and DH9As before transferring to the Vimy after just 5 hours solo flying!
In 1923-24, the RAF expanded again, and in May 1924, 100 Squadron – now under the command of Sqn Ldr H F A Gordon, moved to Eastchurch in Kent to re-equip with Fairey Fawns – a light bomber, and was officially designated 100 (Bomber) Squadron forming part of the new UK-based, day bomber force.
In June 1925, 100 Squadron had the distinction of leading four squadrons at the Hendon Air Pageant.
By 1926, 100 Squadron was back at Spitalgate, under the command of Sqn Ldr L T N Gould, where it resumed routine training and bombing exercises.
Between August and December 1926, the Squadron re-equipped again with Hawker Horsley day bombers.
For three months each year, 100 Squadron was detached to Weston Zoyland in Somerset for exercises in air firing and bombing practice. Additionally, ′C′ Flight operated as a target towing facility for anti-aircraft gunners at Watchet.
This period has been described as the hey-day of unrestricted flying for the RAF. Wg Cdr Brookes describes an occasion in 1927: “… a motorist, ignoring all danger signals and confused by the fact that the airfield was unfenced and level with the road, parked his car under the approach path of a Horsley. The irate pilot swung around and chased the petrified motorist down the road in his aeroplane!”
In January 1928, the Squadron moved to Bicester in Oxfordshire where, in addition to its normal training, the Squadron provided formations of Horsleys to act as targets for fighter squadrons and provided the bomber force in mock attacks against fighter bases such as Tangmere. In October 1928, the Squadron came 7th in the Lawrence Minot Bombing Competition. We shall return to this competition later. In January 1929, Sqn Ldr Gould handed command to Sqn Ldr W B Farrington. Among the tasks the Squadron undertook was the testing of experimental W/T equipment and trials of Direction Finding and R/T fixing. The Squadron also tested the new Hawker Hart and Avro Antelope aircraft.
The Squadron moved again in November 1930 to Donibristle in Fife, where the Horsleys were converted to carry 2,150 lb torpedoes. For the next two years, the Squadron regularly made practice torpedo attacks on Royal Navy shipping entering or leaving the Firth of Forth. The Horsley’s conversion from day bomber to torpedo bomber was not a success, and the RAF issued a specification for an aircraft specially designed for the role. The outcome was the Vickers Vildebeest.
In January 1931, Sqn Ldr L G LeB Croke assumed command of 100 Squadron and remained in post until November 1935. In November 1932, the Squadron was the first to be re-equipped with the new Vildebeests and, in 1933, was officially designated 100 (Torpedo) Bomber Squadron.
The next move for 100 was to Singapore, and on 8th December 1933, with the Vildebeests packed in crates, the Squadron departed for the Far East in the SS Pampura from London docks. Christmas 1933 was spent on board ship in dock in Aden. By 5th January 1934, 100 Squadron was settling into its new quarters at Seletar, where it remained for the next eight years.