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The Hunt For The Red Gauntlet

So why does 134 (Bedford) Squadron's crest feature a red gauntlet?

134atc crest

The quick answer is that both the red gauntlet and moto "Per Ardua Volabimus" ("We shall fly through hardships") were both borrowed (with permission) from the crest of 134 Squadron RAF.

134 Sqn RAF

But that's clearly not the full story. Why did 134 Squadron RAF use a red gauntlet?

Lets go back to the formation of 134 Squadron RAF. The unit number was briefly issued in 1918 during World War I, but it never became an operational unit and was never assigned any personnel. So the first genuine formation of the Squadron was on 31st July 1941 at RAF Leconfield in East Riding Of Yorkshire.

At the start it was formed of:
  • Squadron Leader A. G. Miller - Commanding Officer
  • Flying Officer S. R. Palmer - Adjutant
  • Flying Officer W. L. Blackbourn - Intelligence Officer
  • Two flights each with nine pilots
  • 102 ground personnel
"A Flight" Pilots
  • Flight Lieutenant V. W Berg
  • Pilot Officer J.F.D Elkington
  • Pilot Officer N.E Sheldon
  • Pilot Officer R.H. Furneaux
  • Sergeant S. McClarke
  • Sergeant B.J Campbell
  • Sergeant A.J.Gould
  • Sergeant R.P.F Kirvan 
  • Sergeant H Keil
"B Flight" Pilots
  • Flight Lieutenant J.R Ross
  • Pilot Officer N Cameron
  • Pilot Officer K.W Wollaston
  • Flight Sergeant L.J. Barnes
  • Flight Sergeant T.A McCann
  • Sergeant R. Griffiths
  • Sergeant S.R. Fry
  • Sergeant P. Knapton
  • Sergeant J. G. I. Douglas

134 RAF formation Orders

As far as our search for the red gauntlet goes these personnel are extreemly significant. Most of the inaugral staff and crew of 134 Squadron RAF were transferred in from 17 Squadron RAF. Gloster Gauntlet Aircraft

A Squadron who importantly in the years before Wold War II had flown the Gloster Gauntlet aircraft.

17 Squadron RAF had taken the gauntlet to the heart of their unit. As a symbol it was very powerful. They chose a blue/grey open gauntlet to feature in their Squadron crest.

So when a large number of 17 Squadron RAF members were assigned to a brand new squadron, they would have taken with them great pride in the image of the gauntlet.

17 Sqn RAF

The first operational duty of the newly formed 134 Squadron RAF was to travel with 81 Squadron RAF to Murmansk in the extreeme North West part of Russia with what would eventually be 40 Hawker Hurricane aircraft.

They had two objectives; to provide air support to the Russian Naval Air Service and train their pilots in the operation of the Hurricanes. - These aircraft were later to be handed over to the Russians to operate before the Squadron returned to Britain.

The two Squadrons were only in Russia for around 5 weeks, but flew over 350 sorties with their Russian counterparts. In this time 134 Squadron lost two ground staff (Aircraftman Second Class Ridley and Thomas) and one pilot was injured Flt Lt Berg all in one accident rushing to get an aircraft airbourne during a German air raid.

The earliest forms of the Squadron crest had the same grey/blue gauntlet borrowed from 17 Squadron RAF, but modified to be a clenched fist, as this was a standard Russian sign of solidarity which they would have often seen between Russian military personnel.

134 Gauntlet Blue
Order of Lenin
When their mission was complete, the Russian's were extremely grateful for the assistance from 134 Squadron and 81 Squadrons.

The Supreme Soviet of the USSR awarded the Order of Lenin to Wing Commander Ramsbottom-Isherwood DFC AFC, Squadron Leader A.G. Miller DFC of 134 Squadron RAF, Sqn Leader Rook DFC from 81 Squadron and Flt Sgt Haw also from 81 Squadron and who had shot down the most German Aircraft. They were the only none Russians to ever be awarded this honour.

81 and 134 Squadrons RAF, each adjusted their Squadron crests in recognition of their time in Russia.

134 Squadron coloured their gauntlet red whilst 81 Squadron adopted the Russian red star at the centre of theirs.

134 Gauntlet Blue

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