211 Squadron Operations Record Book: 1946
A transcript of the Squadron’s surviving formal record for their final year of service, at Don Muang in Thailand.
By July 1945, having converted to the de Havilland Mosquito FB VI in India, the Squadron was expecting to resume operations against the Japanese in Malaya. Before they could do so, Emperor Hirohito announced the surrender of his nation on 15 August. As civil order was being re-established in Thailand, the Squadron was posted to Don Muang, the long-established aerodrome of Bangkok, in November 1945. There the Squadron disbanded in March 1946.
For 1946, the Operations Record Book pages were compiled in typescript on Forms 540 only and include 7211 Servicing Echelon. At the UK National Archives the pages are held as microfilm and digitised (reference AIR 27/1303).
What follows is a transcript as written, bar the bulk of the heavy use of capitals and some silent correction of spelling and punctuation. The frequent abbreviations are explained in the Glossary. The column layout of the original printed forms (impractical to replicate here) is as shown in the Form 540 illustration. Amplifications in the usual way, [thus].
Form 540, 1946
Compiling Officer F.O. L.G. Christmas (165710)
211 Squadron & 7211 Servicing Echelon
Don Muang, Bangkok, Siam
PART I — GENERAL
In addition to Squadron aircrew and Met lectures, a number of our NCOs attended a course on discipline and officers attended administration lectures given by Senior Officers of AHQ Siam.
3.1.46 FL [F/Lt] Lawman led a formation of four aircraft to Barrackpore. W/O Wythe left the formation and flew on to deliver his aircraft to Kanchapara. F/Lt McBey and F/Lt Kent who had just finished a Junior Commander’s Course, returned in one aircraft and next day the other three returned carrying W/O Wythe as Navigator.
8.1.46 W/O Watling, F/Sgt Sleight and F/Sgt Davies completed a dry swim conducted by F/L Fardell
10.1.46 S/Ldr Bruckshaw was OC Squadron at the Station Parade and march past, taken by G/Cpt Butler. The Squadron supplied two flights which were judged to be the smartest on parade. Aircrew lectures were given F/Lt Reece (Jewels) and F/Lt McBey (Moustaches) and W/O Wythe (Rescue Launches).
11.1.46 F/Lt Lawman and FO [F/O] Donley flew to Lahore to collect airmen’s Field Service Caps for the forthcoming visit of the Supreme Allied Commander.
14.1.46 An excellent ENSA show in the cinema was enjoyed by all.
15.1.46 S/Ldr Smith and S/Ldr Humphreys (20 Squadron) flew on a recce of Bangkok and S/Ldr Bruckshaw carried out a practice Fly Past.
18.1.46 This was a memorable day for Don Muang and Bangkok. Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander and his Staff arrived in Dakotas escorted by RIAF Spitfires. After luncheon in the Officers Mess the Supremo gave an informal talk to all personnel in the large hangar.
19.1.46 Lord Louis Mountbatten and the King of Siam took the salute at a March Past of allied services in Siam. S/Ldr Bruckshaw led a formation of nine aircraft in a Fly Past over the saluting base on Rajadamnoen Avenue. Spitfires of Nos 8 and 10 Squadrons missing the road by a few hundred yards but 211 Squadron flew over in full view of the crowd. The OC, who directed the display over VHF from the top of Broadcasting House, timed so that our Mosquitoes flew over as the RAF Contingent was passing the saluting base and the band was playing the RAF March.
S/Ldr Bruckshaw flew to Singapore with official photographs of the parade, to be radioed to London.
[The Victory celebrations were well recorded by Squadron members including Ron Kemp, Des Marsh-Collis, Les Ramsay, Monty Walters, and in which Tom Taylor took part. Monty’s photographs show a 12 aircraft formation.]
21.1.46 S/Ldr Smith, W/O Webber and W/O Wythe proceeded to Kashmir for a Ski Course lasting 5 weeks.
23.1.46 Under the instruction of F/Lt Flint [Engineering Officer] all pilots inspected the mainplanes of aircraft in the hangar.
24.1.46 S/Ldr Bruckshaw lectured to aircrews on engine handling and airmanship.
25.1.46 F/Lt Friend gave an introductory lecture on Air Sea-Jungle Rescue.
30.1.46 All aircrew except five officers and five NCOs proceeded to San Sook for five days of Jungle Training under F/O Roberts instructions.
31.1.46 After the Station Parade, G/Cpt Butler, Officer Commanding AHQ Siam, addressed all personnel in the cinema. After recent disturbing strikes in RAF Stations in the Middle East and India, G/Cpt Butler explained very clearly the present position regarding repat and Groups A & B release. After dispelling certain rumours circulating in the RAF, the OC gave details of new pay code for airmen.
W/O Ashcroft (and Cpl Edwards) on an air test [in RF711 ‘A’] had an engine failure and in carrying out a single engine landing with the other engine also failing, the pilot overshot and successfully crash landed in a field. Neither W/O Ashcroft or Cpl Edwards were seriously injured.
PART II — 7211 SERVICING ECHELON
An unproductive month but not without interest—there were three main features, the visit of the Supreme Allied Commander, followed in mid-month by the grounding of all Mosquito Mark VI aircraft, and subsequently the grounding for more extensive examination.
A total of [blank] flying hours were made good with an average serviceability of [blank]. No real indication of the Unit’s maximum effort was possible though it would seem that a higher figure is attainable that at first considered possible with a 40% decrease in strength. There were few postings out and at the end of the month a F/Sgt F II E was posted in. Assurance was given by the AOC and the AOA Burma early in the month during their visit to AHQ Siam that every effort would be made to post in tradesmen from disbanded Units.
During the week prior to the SAC’s visit all aircraft but two (awaiting spares) were made serviceable. For one hour each morning all Echelon personnel drilled as practice for the March Past, and a specially selected party attended Guard of Honour rehearsals. At both functions the men were a credit to the Royal Air Force and to this Unit.
Immediately after the SAC’s address it was made known that all Spitfires were grounded, the available suitable Echelon tradesmen at once, together with 20 and 684 Squadron’s and 132 R&SU detachment, assisted in the rapid fulfilment of inspection of mainplane attachments on the SAC’s escort in readiness for the Fly Past. Nine Mosquitoes of No 211 Squadron completed the Fly Past and assistance for their dispatch was given by 684 Squadron since all 211 Squadron groundcrew were on parade.
General serviceability throughout the month was good, but was somewhat marred by the grounding of all Mosquitoes, firstly on the 20th for the inspecting of the main rear spar rear web for separation from the edge boom 18 inches from the fuselage. The two carpenters worked unceasingly to service all aircraft, and at the same time trained Fitter II As in the task and repair of apertures. All aircraft were found serviceable by the end of the week, only to be grounded again by an STI [Special Technical Instruction] calling for a more extensive examination. The majority of aircraft inspected were found unserviceable and the inspection continues.
Three cases of badly corroded fuel galleries were found during inspections and a thorough search failed to reveal the source of the trouble. The results are now awaited of analysis of samples sent to Calcutta.
Little trouble was experienced with the supply of spares and equipment other than dopes, wood and AGS. AHQ Burma promised hastening action and towards the end of the month only some sizes of wood screws and plastic wood were outstanding. The demand for Mosquito Mod 1005 had not been met. A real use for jettison tanks was found when, to ease the acute shortage of thinners, a Mosquito flew to Lahore and filled its drop tanks with the necessary fluid.
The Echelon took under its wing four more aircraft during the month, a Mosquito TE595 as stored reserve, lately removed therefrom in view of the over-all unserviceability and accepted as the COs aircraft, the Harvard from 20 Squadron, the Harvard and Spitfire VIII from AHQ Siam. Of the latter, one Harvard and the Spitfire were awaiting minor inspections, whilst the AHQs Harvard awaited a considerable number of spares. It is hoped to service one Harvard by cannibalisation and the Spitfire by inspection and fly them on instrument training and fighter affiliation, thus boosting both flying hours and morale.
PART III — PERSONNEL
F/Lt RJ McBey (125442) GD Pilot were [sic] posted to PDC for repatriation.
PART IV — SPORT
Aircrew PT and games sessions were held every morning.
On New Year’s Day a soccer match was held England v Scotland. After a very close struggle England won by 3-2.
The Station soccer leagure was completed on January 15th, and the two Squadron teams finished second and third. After this a few friendly games were played. In a match against the Station Officers team a Squadron eleven won an enjoyable game by 2-0.
The Squadron have entered three teams in a Station knock-out competition to be held in Fenruary, and two trial games were played to select teams.
Three members of the Squadron took part in a Siamese Athletics meeting in Bangkok. F/Sgt Ledger and F/Sgt Smith competed in the 100 metres. F/Sgt Ledger reached the semi-final and F/Sgt Smith gained fourth place in the heat. In the 110 metres hurdles F/O Christmas won the heat and gained second place in the final.
MEDICAL OFFICER’S REPORT
Average daily sick parade ... (new patients) ... ..
Average total sick parade ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
Admissions Hospital and SSQ ... ... ... ... ... ...
New cases of VD ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
An increase in sick parade was noticeable this month, probably due to a fall in morale which appeared noticeable to this Medical Officer since joining the Unit in mid-December.
The VD rate for the month is very good as only one of the six cases was gonorrhoea, none were syphilis, and the rest were non-specific urethritis only, which is not necessarily caused by promiscuous intercourse.
No outbreaks of serious diseases, no epidemics. Bowel diseases few and far between.
General health satisfactory.
Very little flying has taken place this month. One crash occurred but the occupants were not badly hurt.
Maintains a good standard, as evidenced by the lack of bowel diseases and no cases of Malaria. Mepacrine discipline satisfactory
The PMO, AHQ Burma, visited the Station for the weekend of January 24th and after a tour of the Station expressed himself satisfied with the conditions.
One Medical Orderly has been posted to the Unit—he is not a qualified Nursing Orderly but is being m is-employed. Otherwise the Unit is still without Medical staff beyond the Medical Officer.
No other significant data to report for January 1946.
COMMANDING OFFICER’S REMARKS
The continual grounding of the Squadron’s aircraft has been a discouraging feature of this month’s history, and presented a situation which could only be dealt with satisfactorily by substituting ground training of as interesting a nature as possible and by giving personnel to the Station to be kept employed.
Despite this, however, aircrew morale has in general remained good and the Squadron has not been allowed to deteriorate for lack of aircraft to fly. Ground crews have shown themselves to advantage on the SAC’s inspection and march past but it is felt that a prolonged period of inactivity in the air may lead to discontent and a feeling amongst all personnel that they are not doing a real job of work. The seriousness of such a feeling will be readily understood.
Strenuous efforts were made to get the Harvard serviceable but spares continued to be unavailable so that no instrument flying could be accomplished. However the necessary parts are now being manufactured by the Unit. It is hoped that next month will at least show some instrument flying, but the outlook for normal Squadron training on Mosquito aircraft continues to look uncertain.
[D L Harvey]
Wing Commander, Commanding
No 211 Squadron RAF
Compiling Officer F.O. L.G. Christmas (165710)
211 Squadron & 7211 Servicing Echelon
Don Muang, Bangkok, Siam
PART I — GENERAL
4.2.46 News of disbandment caused a change in the whole outlook of the Squadron. Mr Mason, de Havilland representative, arrived on his periodical visit. Japanese “Sam Browns” and officer’s rank badges were distributed to all personnel.
F/Lt Lawman flew to calibrate the VHF/DF homer at Don Muang.
5.2.46 F/Lt Lawman & F/Lt Friend (Air Jungle Rescue Officer) successfully dropped two supply parachutes, using a crashed Japanese aircraft as target. The containers dropped 200 yards and 5 yards from the target respectively.
7.2.46 F/O Newbury DFC, the new navigation officer, arrived.
8.2.46 16 aircrew members returned from San Sook after 8 days of training under F/O Roberts. The visit was planned for five days, but due to an outbreak of smallpox they were detained for 3 days extra. PT and swimming was enjoyed at 07:30 hours each morning. The rest of the day was occupied by lectures, practical demonstrations and excursions. These included two shooting expeditions, a trek inland and a visit to the sulphur springs.
9.2.46 S/Ldr Bruckshaw successfully dropped two supply parachutes.
Lectures: F/Lt Flint (Engines and fuel system), F/Lt Kent (Release scheme) F/O Barrie (Meteorology).
Five crews were suddenly posted to 45 Squadron, but were greatly relieved when it was cancelled next day.
11.2.46 Lectures: F/O Roberts (Jungle survival), F/Lt Kent (Service correspondence), F/Lt Charlton (First Aid).
12.2.46 Lectures: F/O Baines (Signals), F/Lt Kent (Merlin engines).
13.2.46 Lectures: F/Lt Kent (Service correspondence), F/Lt Charlton (First Aid), F/Lt Friend (Dinghy and escape drill).
14.2.46 Lectures: F/O Roberts (Jungle survival), F/Lt Barter (spoken Siamese).
15.2.46 Lectures: F/O Baines (Signals), F/Lt Friend (Jungle Rescue).
16.2.46 Lectures: F/Lt Fardell (Intelligence).
19.2.46 Lectures: F/O Baines (Signals).
20.2.46 Lectures: F/Lt Friend (practical dinghy and escape drill), W/O Williams (re-arming, bombing up, fusing etc).
F/Lt Wilkinson led four aircraft to Seletar (Singapore) for a main spar check.
21.2.46 Lectures: S/Ldr Bruckshaw (Siamese Air Force).
22.2.46 Lectures:F/Lt Elesworth (Flying Control), F/O Newbury DFC (Navigation).
The dreaded signal arrived ordering the disbandment of No 211 Squadron.
25.2.46 F/Lt Lawman led a formation of five aircraft to Seletar for a main spar check. All crews returned by Dakota within a week.
PART II No 7211 SERVICING ECHELON RAF
The continuance of the main spar inspection revealed three of our eighteen aircraft to be serviceable. Of the remainder, one aircraft on minor inspection was categorised B [Beyond repair on site] and subsequently ES [Write off suitable for scrap] because of rear spar defect, whilst the others after close inspection of the extent of separation and on advice from G/Cpt Kirby Air Command SEA were prepared for flight to 390 MU Seletar.
The first four were ferried on the 20th and five on the 25th leaving three to be prepared for flight early in March.
Towards mid-month when one of the three serviceable aircraft was undergoing minor inspection it was found that separation had commenced on the lower boom of the rear spar web. Instructions regarding repair and disposal were requested.
Productively there were one or two interesting achievements, the ex-20 Squadron Harvard was tidied up and made serviceable by cannibalising the AHQ aircraft. After the first air test the brakes were again unserviceable, and only by the ingenuity of the NCO i/c Maintenance in manufacturing sealing glands was the aircraft once again made serviceable.
A minor inspection was completed on the AHQ Spitfire which had not flown for some months. It was stripped of camouflage and refinished with polished cowlings, aluminium cellulose and red lions [sic].
The responsibility for the Air Sea Jungle Rescue having been made that of No 211 Squadron, certain special developments were necessary to equip the Mosquitoes for supply dropping. Bomb bay tanks were removed from the two serviceable aircraft, and since the standard supply containers were too bulky Japanese ones were found and adapted. The trial drops over a wrecked aircraft on the airfield were very successful - no real use has yet been made of them.
The supply of stores and equipment was good throughout the month, no serious setbacks were encountered.
After two months continuous unserviceability it was with little surprise, but with considerable dismay, that the news of the Unit’s disbandment was received. Stores and equipment were prepared for disposal and the odd outstanding jobs tidied up.
February left most souls speculating on postings.
PART III PERSONNEL
(A S/Ldr) F/Lt FM Bruckshaw (132623) GD Pilot posted to SHQ Kandy (supy) [supernumerary] to attend No 6 Junior Commander’s Course.
F/Lt AMJ Kent (153247) GD Admin Posted to SHQ Bangkok (supy) pending posting to S/Ldr Admin post bin that Unit.
F/Lt (A S/Ldr) PN Smith (124791) GD Pilot Posted to HQ ACSEA
F/O DE Winton (163214) GD Pilot Posted to N/E [Non-effective] Strength (sick) of No 211 Squadron wef 15.1.46 [sic]
F/O JH Newbury DFC (186420) GD Nav/B Posted to this unit to F/Lt Nav/W post from AHQ Burma wef 26.1.46
PART IV SPORTS
Aircrew PT and games sessions continued during the first half of the month. The highlight of this month was the Station Soccer Competition in which the Squadron entered three teams. In the first round our first team were beaten by the Servicing Commandos 4-0. In the second round our first team played 3 exciting games against the Servicing Commandos The first two games were drawn 1-1 and in the third we lost 2-1. Our 2nd team also played two drawn games. In the first round we drew with 648 Squadron ‘A’ Team and in the replay won 2-1 although the run of play seemed to be against us. In the semi-final replay the 2nd team beat 648 Squadron ‘B’ 2-1 after a drawn game 1-1.
Servicing Commandos having beaten our 3rd and 1st teams now faced our 2nd team in the final. A very clean and exciting game was played at the Stadium, Bangkok. Servicing Commandos won 2-1 and G/Cpt Butler presented the prizes to both teams.
One game of cricket was played at Bangkok Stadium. The Squadron team batted first and after being 4 wickets down for 18 runs recovered and scored 79 thanks to a fine innings by F/Sgt Davies of 31 runs. Our opponents, 3 Staging Post, were “skittled” out for 25 runs. The Squadron also played Staging Post at Volley Ball. In an exciting match we lost 2 games to 1.
MEDICAL OFFICERS REPORT
In view of the absence of the Medical Officer of No 211 Squadron during the month all Sick Parades have been taken by the Station Medical Officer, and a summary in respect of sickness and hygiene for 211 Squadron and 7211 SE has been included in the Form 540 of Station Headquarters RAF Bangkok.
COMMANDING OFFICER’S REMARKS
Once again it is noted with considerable surprise that the Squadron managed to weather another non-flying month without showing signs of dementia.
However, the chapter closes now with the receipt from AOCinC of a disbandment order. Whilst all hands will regret the passing of a happy era in their lives, it is appreciated fairly generally that the disbandment comes at a suitable time. It is a moot point how long the Squadron could have carried on as a Unit without any serviceable aircraft for regular flying.
There remains now only the job of closing down, packing all kit, and posting all personnel.
211 Squadron Operations Record Book Monthly Summaries (RAF Form 540) TNA AIR 27/1303 via E Kaegi
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