The unit we call today the "Béarn" inherited traditions of the former Bomber Group 1/34 and of the squadrons SALM 14 and SALM 18 during the First World War.
After WWI, both squadrons joined the 34th Reconnaissance Regiment, which became in 1936 the Bomber Group 1/34. In WWII it performed night intelligence missions as well as bombing missions before being disbanded in 1940. The group was recreated in July 1944 to support the free French Armed Forces and finally was named "Béarn" in October 1944.
After WWII it executed liaison and transport missions, was transformed into a Transport Squadron and commanded by the Military Air Transport Group.
In 1946 the unit was assigned in Eastern Asia to serve for about ten years, participating at operations in Indochina and executing 11.000 flying hours and 4.930 combat missions alone in 1947. The "Béarn" was the last unit to operate in Indochina. At its dissolution on 31st July 1956 in Tan-Son-Nhut (airport of Ho-Chi Minh-town, Vietnam), it summed up to 30.108 missions with 73.597 flying hours. The same year (on 1st December) it was restructured and became part of the 64th Transport Wing at Le Bourget.
More than ten years later (1st November 1967) it was transformed to the Air Base 105 at Évreux, Normandy. Until then the "Béarn" operated throughout the world: In the Caribbean, Guyana, Niger, Chad, ...
On 1st April 1982 the squadron received three Transall C-160 NG. The first instructors were trained to Air-to-Air refuelling techniques, which enables longer flights and/or more payload on a specific distance. The "Béarn" made the first operational refuelling between Evreux and Réunion from 4th to 12th of December 1985.
Since the 90s, this squadron was involved in many theatres in Gabon, Chad, Ruanda and also in the Balkans. After 9/11 it was the first French crew to land at Bagram: Since then the squadron has been involved in operations in Afghanistan. Further operations were being accomplished in e.g. Kongo, Ivory Coast or Togo.
To find out about the different capabilities of this squadron please have a look at 2/64 “Anjou”, which is equipped and tasked for the same purposes.
Words and pictures translated from SIRPA