No. 19 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps was founded on 1 September 1915 training on a variety of aircraft before being deployed to France in July 1916 flying B.E.12s and re-equipping with the more suitable French-built Spads.
From November 1917, the squadron started to receive Sopwith Dolphins to replace its Spads, it being fully equipped with the Dolphin during January 1918, flying its first operational patrol with the new fighter on 3 February. In 1918, the squadron was re-equipped with Sopwith Dolphins, flying escort duties. By the end of the war, 19 Squadron had had a score of flying aces among its ranks, including Albert Desbrisay Carter, John Leacroft, Arthur Bradfield Fairclough, Oliver Bryson, Gordon Budd Irving, Frederick Sowrey, future Air Commodore Patrick Huskinson, Cecil Gardner, Roger Amedee Del'Haye, future Air Chief Marshal James Hardman, Finlay McQuistan, Alexander Pentland, John Candy, Cecil Thompson, John Aldridge, and Wilfred Ernest Young. Commanding officers during this time included H.D. Harvey-Kelly who was the first RFC pilot to land in France in the First World War. At least one of 19 Sqn. fliers, a Canadian, George Robert Long, was captured on 6 October 1917 in the Lille area and spent the rest of the war in a number of POW camps, including Holzminden POW camp. It was his very first flight, in a Spad VII, #B3508. He was shot down by Gefr. J. Funk, flying with Ja30.(entered by his grand nephew Gary J. Long). He had first been a member of the C.E.F. in the infantry and was wounded a number of times. He wasn't repatriated until 14 December 1918, to return home to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
The Squadron was disbanded after the First World War on 31 December 1919, to be reformed again at RAF Duxford on 1 April 1923. They then flew a number of different fighters, and were the first squadron to be equipped with the Gloster Gauntlet in May 1935, and with the Supermarine Spitfire on 4 August 1938.
The Squadron was stationed in the UK after the outbreak of the Second World War, and was part of No. 12 Group RAF, RAF Fighter Command, during the Battle of Britain. 19 Squadron formed part of the Duxford Wing, 12 Group's 'Big Wing' formation. Later versions of Spitfires were flown until the arrival of Mustangs for close-support duties in early 1944. After D-Day, No. 19 briefly went across the English Channel before starting long-range escort duties from RAF Peterhead for Coastal Command off the coast of Norway.
In the post-war period, the squadron flew at first de Havilland Hornets and later a variety of jet fighter aircraft including the Hawker Hunter fighter then re-equipping with English Electric Lightning, (1962 - 1964) at that time 19 Sqdn was based at RAF Station Leconfield. The Squadron and the sister Squadron 92 were called upon as fast response interceptors during the "cold war", later being disbanded on 9 January 1992. Their final location before being disbanded was RAF Wildenrath in Germany near Geilenkirchen.
The numberplate was then assigned to the former No. 63 Squadron, one of the Hawk squadrons at RAF Chivenor, in September 1992. The squadron was a 'Shadow' identity of No. 2 Tactical Weapons Unit (2 TWU). Following the closure of Chivenor to jet flying the squadron was moved to RAF Valley in September 1994 to provide advanced fast jet training on the BAE Hawk.
In May 2008, a Hawk T.1, XX184, was re-painted in a special Spitfire camouflage livery at RAF Valley. This was done to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the squadron as the first operational fighter squadron to fly the Supermarine Spitfire from Duxford in 1938.
As a consequence of the UK's Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2010, the Air Force Board decided in 2011 that 19 Squadron's training role with the Hawk T2 at RAF Valley should be transferred to a resurrected 4(R) Squadron. 19 Squadron, one of the last surviving Battle of Britain Squadrons, disbanded on 24 November 2011, 96 years after it was first formed.
The disbandment event, held at RAF Valley, was led by the Wg Cdr Kevin Marsh, the last Commanding Officer of 19 Squadron. In attendance were the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton KCB ADC BSc FRAeS CCMI RAF, former Air Chief Marshal Sir William Wratten, GBE, CB, AFC and Flt Lt Ken Wilkinson AE who flew Spitfires in the Battle of Britain on 19 Squadron.