Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Squadron history book triumphs with flying colours

Warner's book, From Auster to Apache, tells the whole 656 story for the first time
Warner's book, From Auster to Apache, tells the whole 656 story for the first time

The Army Air Corp's 656 Squadron is celebrating its 70th anniversary with a book telling its dramatic story and written by Ulster author Guy Warner who specialises in military affairs.

It's a tribute to Guy that he was commissioned to write this important tome which is being launched officially next month.

656 was formed in wartime 1940s as an RAF Air Observation Post Squadron, manned by RAF and Royal Artillery ground personnel, with Royal Artillery officers flying unarmed reconnaissance aircraft called Austers.

This small unit was deployed to Burma to support the whole of the 14th 'Forgotten' Army.

"Acts of great heroics and airmanship were conducted in the harshest of conditions," writes Warner.

"Two pilots were awarded both the MC and DFC while nine DFCs were awarded altogether."

And 10 years ago, in 2003, 656 was selected to be the first AAC squadron to convert to the British Army's first attack helicopter – the Apache.

The Squadron has subsequently deployed on three operational tours of Afghanistan, and in 2011 operated five Apaches from HMS Ocean off the coast of Libya.

Warner's book, From Auster to Apache, tells the whole 656 story for the first time and the launch will be at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop, Hampshire on Friday June 14.

656 never served in NI – simply because it was so busy elsewhere in the world.

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