No. 617 Squadron is a Royal Air Force aircraft squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland. It currently operates the Tornado GR4 in the ground attack and reconnaissance role. It is commonly known as "The Dambusters", for its actions during Operation Chastise against German dams during World War II.
The squadron was formed at RAF Scampton during World War II on 21 March 1943. It included Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force and Royal New Zealand Air Force personnel. The squadron was formed for the specific task of attacking three major dams on the Ruhr in Germany: the Möhne, Eder and Sorpe. The plan was given the codename Operation Chastise and was carried out on 17 May 1943. The squadron had to develop the tactics to deploy Barnes Wallis's "Bouncing bomb".
The Squadron's badge, approved by King George VI, depicts the bursting of a dam in commemoration of Chastise. The squadron's chosen motto was "Après moi le Deluge" ("After me, the Flood"), a humorous double entendre on the supposed last words of King Louis XV of France. The original commander of 617 Squadron, Wing Commander Guy Gibson, was awarded the Victoria Cross for his part in the raid. Guy Gibson also owned a black Labrador named Nigger, who was the mascot of the squadron for some time.
After the raid, Gibson was withdrawn from flying (due to the high number of raids he had been on) and went on a publicity tour. George Holden became Commanding Officer (CO) in July, but he was shot down and killed on his fourth mission with the squadron in September 1943, an attack on the Dortmund-Ems Canal; he had four of Gibson's crew with him. H. B. "Mick" Martin took command temporarily, before Leonard Cheshire took over as CO. Cheshire personally took part in the special target marking techniques required which went far beyond the precision delivered by the standard Pathfinder units — by the end he was marking the targets from a Mustang fighter. He was awarded the VC.