97 Squadron was first formed on 1st December 1917 at Waddington in Lincolnshire. It saw some service in the closing months of the Great War and immediately afterwards, but ceased to function in 1920 when it became part of 60 Squadron.
It remained in a dormant state until September 1935, was then reformed, but for the next five years led a somewhat changeable existence, disbanding and reforming, sometimes being operational, sometimes a training squadron.
It was only in February 1941, once again based at Waddington, that it was reformed as the operational squadron which would fly in the bombing campaign through the rest of the war.
From 1941 onwards it was known by the somewhat ponderous title of 97 (Straits Settlements) Squadron. This was in gratitude for a very large donation made by the Malay Straits Settlements for the purchase of some Avro Manchester bomber aircraft.
The Manchester was a somewhat unreliable aircraft and when the first Lancaster was delivered to the squadron on 14th January 1942, spirits rose for here was a superb new aircraft, the supreme heavy night bomber of the Second World War.
In March 1942, the squadron relocated to Woodhall Spa, a satellite station of Coningsby. Some of the crew who will become familiar names on this site first joined the squadron here.