Why 46 Squadron were making so much noise at Thorney Island in 1971

Pictured is Flight Lieutenant Eric King, the Captain, and Flying Officer Brent Watts, right, who were the pilots of the 46 Squadron Andover aircraft.
Pictured is Flight Lieutenant Eric King, the Captain, and Flying Officer Brent Watts, right, who were the pilots of the 46 Squadron Andover aircraft.

Among the ‘noisy so-and-sos’ at Thorney Island, near Emsworth, were the men of 46 Squadron who operated Andover aircraft.

They admitted they make a ‘fair amount of din’ but were anxious to be better known for their deeds than their decibels. 

They were the first to apologise to residents for any inconvenience caused, but insisted they do take all the possible steps to ‘keep it quiet’ and have an important job to do. 

The 46 Squadron was formed in April 1916 and played vital roles in the First and Second World War. It was exclusively involved in the Berlin Airlift in June 1948 before being disbanded in 1961.

However, in 1971, the squadron reformed with its Andover aircraft as part of the RAF Support Command at its new home at Thorney Island. 

It was in the tactical role that 46 Squadron was mostly involved; the Andover aircraft was ideal for casualty evacuation, troop dropping and supply dropping in battle zones.

Working closely with the Army, the squadron had built a reputation for a high degree of skill and professionalism in sky drops. 

Since it reformed, it had twice won the Lord Trophy in competition against other RAF squadrons in difficult parachute dropping exercises. 

Much of the practice was done away from Thorney Island, often in the Mediterranean and landings at the home base were often at night.  But because of the importance of their task, the ‘noisy so-and-sos’ of 46 Squadron hoped they would be forgiven by the people living around Thorney Island.