Paul Desmond Marsh-Collis 772100
Des Marsh-Collis, born in Nairobi in 1925, joined the RAF in India at some date after November 1939. He kept not only a wonderful photograph album of his war service in India and Thailand, but a copy of a history of 211 Squadron’s operations from 1943 to December 1945.
Making his home in the United Kingdom post-war, he and Eveline (née Sheerin) married in 1951. They were to have four daughters. Des died in February 1997. In 2001, Eveline Marsh-Collis most kindly provided a copy of her late husband’s photo album and a typed transcript of the Squadron report, with much help from daughters Jane and Imelda and son-in-law Aidan Simons.
In one of those wonderful events that bejewels the modern assemblage of 211 Squadron history, the source of the history so carefully preserved over the years by Des and his family came to light in late 2003: when Peter Spooner came upon the 211 Squadron website, he recognised the report as his own.
With the grace and generosity so characteristic of Squadron members and their families, this part of the Squadron story has not only been put to rights, it has been amply embellished, thanks to the help of both families. The story of the original compiling of the history is recounted by the late Peter Spooner on his own page. His history of 211 Squadron’s operations forms the India and Burma page.
The war-time album of Des Marsh-Collis
Pictures compiled by Aidan from Des’ war-time photo album. There are some much larger versions of these, for example, the footy teams with personnel names. Although it is impractical to show them here, Aidan placed the whole set on his own personal website which he very kindly agreed to having listed here.
Wilfred, Bob & Charles outside the canteen, Ambala '43 (Marsh-Collis collection)
Tubby, George, Fowler, Wilfred (Marsh-Collis collection)
The Blenheim Mark IV in the background and the Mercury on the engine stand have apparently been reduced to “instructional” status. Bomb-bay doors off, leading edges likewise, and most of the canopy glazing apparently gone.
Some of us after work (Marsh-Collis collection)
Engine lads fixing the engine to the Blenheim Ambala '43 (Marsh-Collis collection)
Power Self Highlander Jordan and Roe (Marsh-Collis collection)
Jim Smith (Marsh-Collis collection)
Arnold Self Occy and Holloway (Marsh-Collis collection)
The Temple Hill with 211 Squadron at Ranchi 1943 (Marsh-Collis collection)
Trev Wilf & Tony (Marsh-Collis collection)
Bradshaw, Ging Baily Cliff Porteous & Lofty ? (Marsh-Collis collection)
Winners and Runners Up of 211 Squadron Football League 1944 (Marsh-Collis collection)
Unlabelled photo (Marsh-Collis collection)
[Des, relaxed and in freshly pressed best tropicals]
211 Squadron before disbandment Siam 1946 (RAF official via Marsh-Collis collection)
Des may be in the 5th row, in forage cap and arms folded, immediately to the right of the nose (Port side). Between Monty Walters, Ricky Watts and Peter Kent, a number of the aircrew have been identified in this, apparently one of the last, group photographs of the Squadron:
2nd row, left to right: (1) W/O Ashcroft Nav/W, (2) W/O Ken Jewel Pilot, (3) W/O Ron Kemp Nav/W, (4) possibly Vic Broome Nav/W, (5) W/O Monty Walters Pilot, (6) W/O George Price Nav/W, (7) F/O Steve Catto Pilot, (10) F/Lt AMJ Kent Nav/W (11) probably W/Cdr Harvey, (13) possibly S/Ldr Bruckshaw Pilot, (17) W/O Watling Nav/W, (20) W/O Bill Williams Armaments Officer.
3rd row: (2) Corporal Fitter E who looked after Monty’s aircraft, (6) possibly W/O Ray Wood Pilot, (14), W/O Ed Webber Nav/W wearing a cheese-cutter hat.
4th row: Cpl W/Mech Les Ramsay is on the far right, to the left of the Port propeller (with someone’s hands on his shoulders).
Rear-most standing row: The tall figure of LAC Edward Brooks stands “at ease” (hands behind), far right, beside the Port engine nacelle.
Given the small number of aircrew present, it may be that this is the ‘B’ Flight shot of a final set of formal groups (‘A’ Flight, ‘B’ Flight, Squadron). Les Ramsay also kept copies of this photograph and the shots of the Victory Parade inspection below.
Lord Mountbatten and HM King of Siam at the saluting base 19 January 1946 (RAF official)
Lord Mountbatten and HM King of Siam inspect RAF guard 19 January 1946 (RAF official)
The 19 January 1946 Victory celebrations were well recorded by other Squadron members including Ron Kemp, Les Ramsay and Monty Walters, Tom Taylor taking part in the 12 aircraft formation flypast.
Marsh-Collis family correspondence with author
P Spooner correspondence with author
D Marsh-Collis photograph album
Air Ministry Index to Airmen and Airwomen, National Archives UK AIR 78/103 pt 5 Roll
FreeeBMD records, Marsh-Collis family
www.211squadron.org © D Clark & others 1998—2021
Site created 15 Apr 2001, last updated 12 Sep 2021. Page created 31 Dec 2001, last updated 31 Jul 2018
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