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THE BIRTH OF Swift Death IN ONE OF MANY “FIRSTS” OVER ITS COLOURFUL HISTORY, 401 SQUADRON IS CELEBRATING ITS CENTENNIAL A FULL FIVE YEARS BEFORE THE RCAF MARKS ITS 100 TH ANNIVERSARY. BY DR. RICHARD MAYNE T hey promise “very swift death for the enemy,” and this motto is something that 401 Squadron has dutifully delivered when its country needed it the most. More to point, however, 401, who are known as the “Rams,” have reached a milestone as it becomes the first Canadian squadron to celebrate its centennial in November of this year. This is a unique feat, the more so since this celebration even proceeds the RCAF’s own 100 th anniversary, which will be celebrated in 2024. It is not surprising, therefore, if some people wonder how this is possible; particularly since various histories claim that this squadron was born in 1937, while others date its formation to three years earlier. Yet, after careful and deliberate research, the Canadian Armed Forces’ official publication on Lineages 72 RCAF Today 2018 determined that 401 can, in fact, trace its heritage back to No. 81 (Canadian) Squadron that then became the Canadian Air Force’s No.1 Squadron on, or about, Nov. 20, 1918. That particular incarnation of a Canadian Air Force would not survive, but the squadron incubated during its existence would. As such, to understand the significance of the squadron’s centennial, it is important to take a close look at its birth and how it became 401, followed by a quick summary of its remarkable achievements after that point. Doing so will show why it has a history that is well worth commemorating. The birth of 401 Squadron was actually the product of pressure that the Canadian public and press placed on