History of 410 Squadron


(Prepared by the Air Historian)





No. 410 (Cougar) Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force has the distinction of being the top-scoring night fighter unit in the Second Tactical Air Force in the period between D-Day and VE-Day. Its record book shows 78.3/4 enemy aircraft destroyed, two probably destroyed and eight damaged. Of these 85 victories, 60 were won in the 11-month period between June 1944 and the end of April 1945.

The story of No. 410 falls into five periods. It opens with a long, relatively quiet and uneventful sojourn in the Lowlands and northern England from June 1941 to February 1943. Its role was the night defense of the British coast, but enemy aircraft were rarely seen, and the Squadron could count only one destroyed and one damaged during these 20 months. Then it moved south to a station Digby in Lincolnshire where, in addition to its usual defensive duties, it embarked an a period (March to October 1943) of offensive operations into enemy-held territory by day and night to disrupt Nazi rail, road, canal and air traffic. More than 30 trains were attacked, as well as freight cars, vehicles, barges, tugs, factories and freight yards. In air combat four Dornier bombers were destroyed and Cougar crews had a share in the destruction of two more Hun aircraft.

In the next period, November 1943 to May 1944, the squadron was again engaged in the night defence of Britain. This was the period of the "little Blitz" on England and the Cougars were at long last able to come to grips with the foe. They shot down 14 raiders with five more probably destroyed or damaged for good measure. But this success was overshadowed by the events of the next three months (June to August 1944) when the Squadron patrolled nightly over the beachheads to guard our troops and shipping against enemy bombers. Thirty-one times No. 410's Mosquitoes brought down their opponent and damaged, if they did not destroy, three more. Then the Squadron moved to France and in the next eight months added 25 "Kills" and a “damaged” to its score.

The badge of No. 410 Squadron, approved by His Majesty the King, in May 1945, depicts a cougar's head superimposed on a crescent moon. The moon and the Squadron motto "Noctivaga" (Wandering by Night) refer, of course, to the unit's wartime role as a night fighter unit. The cougar was selected as the squadron emblem because it was "a Canadian animal, noted for its speed and power in striking down its prey". No. 410’s record shows how well its personnel lived up to these characteristics of its namesake.

The city of Saint John, New Brunswick, adopted the Squadron during the war. In 1948, after a lapse of almost three and a half years, No. 410 was re-formed as the first fighter squadron in the peace-time Regular Force. Equipped with Vampires, it is now stationed at St. Hubert
1 , near Montreal, but will eventually move to another base in eastern Canada. Although no longer directly associated with its war-time foster parent, the unit will be part of the air defence of the Maritimes and its personnel will, no doubt, have many opportunities to renew the old bonds of friendship.

1  Webmaster's note. This summary is a bit outdated as 410 now resides at cold Lake Alberta and flies the CF-18 Hornet as its main steed.

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