To boost the rate of production, quantity orders for the DH.9 were also placed with Alliance, G & J.Weir, Short Brothers, Vulcan, Waring & Gillow and National Aircraft Factories No. 1 and No. 2.
The first deliveries were made in November 1917 to 108 Squadron RFC and it first went into combat over France in March 1918 with 6 Squadron, and by July 1918 nine squadrons operational over the Western Front were using the type.
The DH.9's performance in action over the Western Front was a disaster, with heavy losses incurred, both due to its poor performance and to engine failures, despite the prior de-rating of its engine. Between May and November 1918, two squadrons on the Western Front (Nos. 99 and 104) lost 54 shot down, and another 94 written off in accidents. Nevertheless, on 23 August 1918 a DH9 flown by Lieutenant Arthur Rowe Spurling of 49 Squadron, with his observer, Sergeant Frank Bell, single-handedly attacked thirty Fokker D.VII fighters, downing five of them. Captain John Stevenson Stubbs managed 11 aerial victories in a DH9, including the highly unusual feat of balloon busting with one.
The DH.9 was also more successful against the Turkish forces in the Middle East, where they faced less opposition, and it was used extensively for coastal patrols, to try to deter the operations of U-boats.
Following the end of the First World War, DH.9s operated by 47 Squadron and 221 Squadron were sent to southern Russia in 1919 in support of the White Russian Army of General Denikin during the Russian Civil War. The last combat use by the RAF was in support of the final campaign against Mohammed Abdullah Hassan (known by the British as the "Mad Mullah") in Somalia during January—February 1920. Surprisingly, production was allowed to continue after the end of the war into 1919, with the DH.9 finally going out of service with the RAF in 1920.
Following the end of the First World War, large number of surplus DH.9s became available at low prices and the type was widely exported (including aircraft donated to Commonwealth nations as part of the Imperial Gift programme.
The South African Air Force received 48 DH.9s, and used them extensively, using them against the Rand Revolt in 1922. Several South African aircraft were re-engined with Bristol Jupiter radial engines as the M'pala, serving until 1937.