No. 11 Group RAF


No. 11 Group is a group in the Royal Air Force first formed in 1918. It had been formed and disbanded for various periods during the 20th century before disbanding in 1996 and reforming again in 2018. Its most famous service was in 1940 in the Battle of Britain during the Second World War, when it defended London and the south-east of the United Kingdom from attacks by the German Luftwaffe. It was reformed in late 2018 as a "multi-domain operations group" to ensure the service thinks and acts in a networked way.[2]

No. 11 Group RAF
No. 11 Group badge
Active1 Apr – 17 May 1918
22 Aug 1918 – May 1920
1 May 1936 – 31 Dec 1960
1 Jan 1961 – 1 Apr 1963
1 Apr 1968 – 1 Apr 1996
1 Nov 2018 – present
CountryUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
BranchAir Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Air Force
TypeGroup headquarters
RoleAir and Space Command
Part ofRAF Air Command
HeadquartersHillingdon House, Uxbridge (World War II)
RAF High Wycombe
Motto(s)Tutela cordis (Latin for 'Guardians of the heart')[1]
Air Officer CommandingAir Vice-Marshal Philip Robinson
Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park
Group badgeDepicts the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster surrounded by an astral crown. The tower indicates London, the heart of the Empire, with whose safety the Group was charged during the Second World War. The hands of the clock are at 11 o'clock to represent the time of the Armistice of the First World War and the number of the Group. Awarded in 1940.


First World WarEdit

No. 11 Group was first formed on 1 April 1918 in No. 2 Area as No. 11 (Equipment) Group, and was transferred to South-Western Area the next month on 8 May. The Group was disbanded on 17 May 1918.

Inter-war yearsEdit

The next incarnation of the Group occurred in 22 August 1918 when it was formed as part of the North-Western Area. On 6 February 1920, Group captain Ian Bonham-Carter took command and three months later, in May 1920, 11 Group was reduced in status to No. 11 Wing. The Group was reformed on 1 May 1936 as No. 11 (Fighter) Group by renaming Fighting Area. On 14 July 1936, 11 Group became the first RAF Fighter Command Group responsible for the air-defence of southern England, including London.[3]

Second World War, 1939 to 1945Edit

No.11 Group was organised with the Dowding System of fighter control. Group Headquarters was at Hillingdon House, located at RAF Uxbridge in the London Borough of Hillingdon. The Group operations room was underground in what is now known as the Battle of Britain Bunker. Commands were passed to the sector airfields, each of which was in charge of several airfields and fighter squadrons. The sector airfields were:

The11 Group Operations Room in the "Battle of Britain Bunker" at RAF Uxbridge.
A memorial to the No. 11 Group underground operations room alongside the RAF ensign at RAF Uxbridge.

Battle of Britain 1940Edit

The most famous period of the Group was during the Battle of Britain when it bore the brunt of the German aerial assault. Pilots posted to squadrons in 11 Group knew that they would be in constant action, while pilots and squadrons transferred from No.11 Group knew that they were going to somewhere comparatively safer. During the Battle of Britain, the Group was commanded by New Zealander Air vice-marshal Keith Park.[6] While supported by the commanders (AOCs) of No. 10 Group and No. 13 Group, he received insufficient support from the AOC of 12 Group, Air Vice Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory, who used the Big Wing controversy to criticise Park's tactics. Leigh-Mallory's lack of support compromised Fighter Command at a critical time and the controversy caused problems for Park. When the Battle of Britain was over, Leigh-Mallory, acting with Air marshal Sholto Douglas, conspired to have Park removed from his position (along with the Commander-in-Chief of Fighter Command, Air chief marshal Hugh Dowding). Leigh-Mallory then took over command of 11 Group.


After the war in December 1951, No.11 Group consisted of the Southern and Metropolitan sectors. The Southern Sector included 1 Squadron and No. 29/22 Squadrons at RAF Tangmere and 54 Squadron and 247 (China-British) Squadron at RAF Odiham. The Metropolitan Sector had 25 Squadron at RAF West Malling, 41/253 Squadron at RAF Biggin Hill, 56/87 Squadron and 63 Squadron at RAF Waterbeach, 64 Squadron and 65 (East India) Squadron at RAF Duxford, 72 Squadron at RAF North Weald, 85/145 at RAF West Malling with Gloster Meteor NF.11s, and 257 (Burma) Squadron and 263 (Fellowship of the Bellows) Squadron at RAF Wattisham.[7] Denoted by a '/', a short-lived RAF postwar scheme saw several squadrons linked, where two squadron numbers' heritage was carried on within one single unit.

A No. 11 Squadron English Electric F6 based at RAF Binbrook, part of No. 11 Group.

In 1960 Fighter Command was re-organised and 11 Group was disbanded on 31 December 1960, to reform one day later when 13 Group was renamed 11 Group. On 1 April 1963, the Group was replaced by No. 11 (Northern) Sector at RAF Leconfield which controlled Fighter Command airfields and units within Northern England. On 17 March 1965 the sector absorbed No. 13 (Scotland) Sector RAF which was formed on 1 April 1963 at Boulmer and 11 Sector moved to Boulmer.[8] This incarnation lasted until Fighter Command was absorbed into the new Strike Command on 30 April 1968 and became 11 Group. 11 Sector became Sector South and No. 12 Sector RAF was absorbed and became Sector North. Group Headquarters shifted to RAF Bentley Priory in north-west London and took responsibility for the UK Air Defence Region (UK ADR). The English Electric Lightning F.1 entered service in 1960 and the McDonnell Douglas Phantom FGR.2 in 1969, with 43 (China-British) Squadron at RAF Leuchars.[9]

The group was renamed 11 (Air Defence) Group in January 1986. In the early 1990s, the front-line force consisted of 56 Squadron and 74 (Trinidad) Squadrons flying Phantoms from RAF Wattisham, 5 Squadron and 29 Squadron flying the Panavia Tornado F3 from RAF Coningsby, 11 Squadron, 23 Squadron, and 25 Squadron flying the Tornado F3 from RAF Leeming and 43 Squadron and 111 Squadron at RAF Leuchars; 8 Squadron flew Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW1 from RAF Waddington, 5 Squadron and 11 Squadron had been the last units flying the English Electric Lightning F.6 from RAF Binbrook until 1988; 25 Squadron and 85 Squadron had been operating Bristol Bloodhound surface-to-air missiles and re-equipped with the Tornado and disbanded in 1989 and on 10 July 1991 respectively. The Wattisham Phantom Wing was disbanded relatively quickly following the end of the Cold War; 23 Squadron was disbanded in March 1994.[10]

On 9 January 1992, Sector's South and North combined.[8] On 1 April 1996, 11 Group amalgamated with 18 Group to form 11/18 Group. Air Vice Marshal Anthony Bagnall, who took over on 15 July 1994, was the Group's last commander.[11]

2018 reformationEdit

Air Marshal Stuart Atha presenting 11 Group's crest to AVM Ian Duguid in 2018

On 11 July 2018, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier announced at the Air Power Conference that 11 Group would reform as a "multi-domain operations group", to ensure the RAF thinks and acts in a networked way and combining air, space and cyber-warfare elements to create an integrated force. No increase in the number of senior officers or staff at headquarters was proposed as part of the reformation.[2] The group reformed at a ceremony at RAF High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire on 1 November 2018, when Air Vice-Marshal Ian Duguid took command.[12]

Role and operationsEdit

No. 11 Group includes the capabilities of the Chief of Staff Operations and the Air Battle Staff, comprising the deployable Joint Force Air Component (JFAC), the National Air & Space Operations Centre (NASOC) and the Executive Team. The group also includes the RAF Battle Management Force. The Group is to ensure that the large amounts of data, intelligence and information contributes to the planning and execution of operations in the domains of air, space and cyber.[13]


No. 11 Group is based at the NASOC, located at RAF High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire.[14] The group is also responsible for the following RAF stations.[13]

List of group commandersEdit

1936 to 1963
1968 to 1996
2018 to present

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Pine, L G (1983). A Dictionary of mottoes (1 ed.). London: Routledge & K. Paul. p. 238. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X.
  2. ^ a b "Key Battle of Britain Fighter Command group to be reformed". Press Association. 11 July 2018. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  3. ^ Skinner (2008), p. 66.
  4. ^ a b "RAF Uxbridge – Battle of Britain Ops. Room". Subterranea Britannica. 31 October 2001. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2011.
  5. ^ The Battle of Britain Then and Now|Winston G.Ramsey|London|Battle of Britain Prints International Limited|ISBN 0 900913 25 8
  6. ^ Bickers, Richard Townshend (1990). Battle of Britain. London: Salamander Books. ISBN 0-86101-477-4.
  7. ^ Reynolds, John D. R.; et al. (1984). The History of the Royal Air Force. Temple Press Aerospace. p. 204.
  8. ^ a b Sturtivant, Hamlin & Halley 1997, p. 270.
  9. ^ Donald, David, ed. (1999). "RAF Phantoms". Wings of Fame. London: Aerospace. 15: 6. ISBN 1-86184-033-0.
  10. ^ "No. 23 Squadron". Royal Air Force. 2015. Archived from the original on 14 January 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  11. ^ "Air Chief Marshal Sir Anthony Bagnall". Debrett's People of Today. 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  12. ^ "Historic 11 Group reforms for multi-domain challenges". Royal Air Force. 5 November 2018. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  13. ^ a b "No 11 Group". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  14. ^ Lancaster, Mark (24 July 2018). "Written Answers to Questions – Air Force" (PDF). UK Parliament. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  15. ^ "No. 51001". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 July 1987. p. 9283.
  16. ^ "No 11 Group, about this group". Retrieved 6 November 2018.


  • Barrass, M. B. "RAF Group No's 10-19". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation.
  • Skinner, James (2008). Growing Up In Wartime Uxbridge. Stroud: Tempus Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7524-4543-4.
  • Sturtivant, R.; Hamlin, J.; Halley, J. (1997). Royal Air Force flying training and support units. UK: Air-Britain (Historians). ISBN 0-85130-252-1.

External linksEdit

  • 11 Group Website