On 13 May 1912 one of the first three military aviation units of the new Royal Flying Corps was formed - although in those days it was an airship squadron, known as 1 Squadron. At the outbreak of World War One it was reformed with aeroplanes, thereafter becoming one of the leading British fighting scout units on the Western Front.
During the interwar period the unit remained in existence, and in October 1938 some of the first Hawker Hurricane monoplane fighters were issued to the squadron. The following year, fully operational on these fast modern aircraft, it was moved to Octeville in France on 9 September 1939 - during the first week of World War Two.
From here, during the next month, patrols were undertaken over the coastal ports of France, as ships carrying the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to continental Europe sailed across the Channel. With the BEF safely ashore, the unit prepared for its main task of supporting the light bombers of the Advanced Air Striking Force (AASF), moving eastwards to take up its station behind the Maginot Line, near to France's frontier with Germany.