No. 211 Squadron RAF: Site Summary
In 1998 our little book 211 Squadron RAF, Greece, 1940—1941: An Observer’s Notes and Recollections presented my late father’s narrative, supported by my own material on the Blenheim and the Middle East campaign to 1941. Now out of print, all that material is included here, in much revised and greatly extended form.
The website carries a reasonable balance of content: technical and personal, from both World Wars, for aircrew and groundcrew, (whether officer or airman, survivor or casualty), from the main operational theatres, for the main aircraft types, and of surviving operations records.
The content reflects a determination to draw together a comprehensive narrative by careful research, analysis, interpretation, collation or transcription of the available source material (whether official or personal, original or published), while giving full weight to the individual accounts and photographs shared here with all the laconic candour and generosity so characteristic of the participants.
To serve as a more detailed guide to order and content beyond the navigation menu at left, this summary page describes the structure of the site, with a little background about the Squadron for context.
The order of the site’s pages and of their content is a sensible compromise between background, chronology, theatre, and individual narrative. The website layout is the simplest possible: each page is just one mouse-click away from every other page.
So on this site, the Home page has both useful content (briefly introducing the Squadron and the aim of making such a record) and the navigation menu: the long column of page-name links at top left of each and every page. All links (in the menu, to other pages, other parts of a page, or other sites) are always shown in the same way: underlined in blue. To go from one page to another, just pick a link and click.
The pages are as long as they need to be, for the topic at hand. To scroll up and down any page, use the Pg Up, PgDn, Home and End keys, or the mouse scroll wheel, or swipe on a touchscreen.
As a sort of Preface, The author recounts my own part in this endeavour. The Enquiries page shows the site Conditions of use; my contact details (when available); hints about viewing, navigating, printing and contributing to the site; and notes on web practice and web archiving. The Glossary covers service terms and abbreviations used throughout the text.
Relevant source notes are included on each page, consolidated on the Sources page. Details of site revisions or additions are shown on the Site updates page. The Site search page shows how to search within pages and across the whole site.
The Do it yourself page offers some basic notes on research, while the Sites & Links page covers a wide range of related Internet resources.
The Home page includes a brief Historical summary.
The Squadron’s part in World War I gives a summary of operations; nominal rolls for casualties (the dead, the wounded, those captured or interned), commanding officers, flight commanders, gallantry awards, ground and flying personnel; and an account of the Airco DH9 in 211 Squadron service.
The re-forming of the Squadron in the years before World War II is covered by the Operations Record Book transcript for 1937, their deployments from mid-1937 onwards being shown on the Squadron movements page. The growth of the Squadron since reforming is recorded, at least in part, on the Personnel rolls page and its Strength summary.
Over the course of the years 1937 to 1946, perhaps as many as two thousand men may have served with 211 Squadron for some period. With so much of the Squadron record lost in the trials of war, a complete roll was never to be expected.
Over nearly 20 years of research, it has been possible to identify perhaps 900 by name at least. There are narratives of greater or lesser extent for 118 men of the Squadron, 75 of them as individual pages.
Several pages include lists of Squadron members (nominal rolls, in the jargon of the military archivist). These rolls have been variously provided by participants from their own records, compiled by me from surviving official, personal and published records, or extracted from existing records by others. They are to be found on these pages:
- Honour Roll of the Squadron’s war dead from 1939 to 1945
- Gallantry awards roll of awards for service with 211 Squadron in World War II
- Personnel rolls Final farewells, Commanding Officers, aircrew personnel by station and date, groundcrew from 72 OTU re-posted to 211 Squadron, Commonwealth aircrew of the Squadron from Canada & the RCAF, from New Zealand and the RNZAF, from South Africa, and from Southern Rhodesia
- FEPoW rolls The dead and those surviviving captivity at the hands of the Japanese from 1942 to 1945
- RAAF personnel rolls of the 99 known Australian and RAAF aircrew of 211 Squadron, from 1937 in the UK to 1941 in the Middle East, at Wadi Gazouza in 1941, and of Far East aircrew survivors and losses from 1942 to 1945
- 1937, 1938, 1939 Squadron records include retrospective nominal rolls of officers plus NCO aircrew at year’s end (at outbreak of war in the 1939 set)
- CFR Clark’s Aircrew in Greece: rolls of aircrew and losses in Greece and Syria, 1940 to 1941
- The Far East Evacuees from Java (Kota Gede, Tung Song)
- India and Burma aircrew losses and gallantry awards, 1943 to 1945.
The various rolls grew considerably over the years from 2001 to 2016. While some further reconciling may uncover and correct minor errors and omissions, no further major additions are planned.
The Australian contingent
The RAAF personnel page discusses the Australian and RAAF part in 211 Squadron. Of the 99 men so far identified, there are short narratives for 36 (all but one of them aircrew). For another nine men it has been possible to draft more complete narrative pages:
Squadron aircraft markings and codes are discussed in detail on their own page.
The Hawker Audax and Hind, their origins and their 211 Squadron service are discussed together. The Hind and Audax also figure heavily in An Airman’s Album and on the pages of Geoff Grierson.
The Bristol Blenheim Mark I, the Mark IV and their armament are each treated on separate pages in rather more detail, compiled and argued after much study of primary and reliable secondary sources. The Bisley or Blenheim Mark V is mentioned but briefly.
The Blenheim days are part of many pages from the Middle East period, in particular depth in the operational accounts of ARG Bax, CFR Clark, KCVD Dundas DFC, JR Gordon-Finlayson DSO DFC, JB Keeping, JG Sharratt and W Wright, and featuring strongly among the photographs of CFR Clark, G Checketts, EL Cooper, RJ Dudman, JE Fryatt, G Grierson, M Sainsbury, JG Sharratt, HF Squire and R Wingrove.
For the brief, bitter Far East campaign of February and March 1942, the pages for CO RN Bateson DFC, W Baird, WR Cuttiford, FC Joerin, JB Keeping, AH Kendrick, GM Kendrick, NH Oddie and GA Mockridge (with the Sumatra and Java notes and the brief accounts of a number of other RAAF personnel) together shed some light upon Mark IV operations in a very testing period. With the loss of the Squadron Operations Record Book of the time, the accounts of operations rely on available Flying Log Books or diaries of aircrew, and upon the post-evacuation reports and correspondence of Squadron members. There are few aircraft photographs from this very difficult period.
The Bristol Beaufighter and the de Havilland Mosquito are discussed on separate pages, and then in the following Squadron and personal narratives: India and Burma, Burma Boys, A Carter, J Carruthers, A Goodinson, RC Kemp, PF Lockyer, G Manderson DFC, D Marsh-Collis, JS Mitchell, JH Oblein, LE Ramsay, J Robertson, DA Spencer DFC, P Spooner, E Watts, ME Walters, DE Winton and EL Wood.
The record of the Squadron’s complement of these aircraft has been very much amplified thanks to the Log Books of DA Spencer DFC, TD Taylor, and EL Wood; the diary of the late Cpl A Goodinson (for the Beaufighter) and, for the Mosquito, the photographic record has been much enriched by the photographs and Log Book entries of ME Walters, E Watts and DE Winton.
A brief account of the Squadron’s deployments to various Commands from 1937 to 1946 is included on the Home page, while a comprehensive list by date is provided by the Squadron movements page. The Squadron’s theatres of operation are show in a selection of war-time Maps for the Middle East and the Far East.
The Squadron records page explains the form and function of RAF Operations Record Books. There are transriptions of the Squadron’s records for 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1943 and 1946. For 1942, I have compiled a partial reconstruction from available Flying Logbooks, Diaries and other records of the day.
Following the belated entry of Italy as a World War II belligerent in the Middle East and Africa, 211 Squadron was about 12 months continuously on operations (June 1940—June 1941), initially in the Western Desert, then in Greece (where on Easter Sunday 1941 the Squadron suffered the loss of 6 aircraft and their crews in a single raid), and finally in Palestine before being withdrawn to Wadi Gazouza in the Sudan for training operations and the later formation of 72 Operational Training Unit (OTU). The story is rounded out with war-time and modern photographs of Menidi (Tatoi) and Paramythia.
Transferred to the Far East in January 1942 following the Japanese invasion of Malaya, the Squadron saw brief intense action from February to March 1942 in Sumatra and Java, suffering heavy losses and dispersal in the field leading to evacuation or captivity.
Re-formed in India from August 1943, they were heavily engaged in the second Far East campaign over Burma for 17 months from January 1944 to May 1945, operating the rocket-equipped Bristol Type 156 Beaufighter X in the long-range strike fighter role. Converting to the de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito FB VI from June 1945, the Squadron was deployed to Thailand from November 1945, disbanding there for the final time in March 1946.
The Middle East and Far East theatre notes were compiled by the author from analysis of a variety of original and secondary sources, including Squadron records and the contemporary narratives and later recall of Squadron members. Across the Styx is transcribed from Wisdom’s Middle East Parade article of 1941. The Sumatra and Java material is transcribed from RAAF Casualty Section Reports with additional commentary of my own, while the India and Burma campaign notes were originally compiled by Peter Spooner in the Squadron Adjutant’s Office on 1 December 1945.
Personal and other narratives of 211 Squadron operations are here grouped chronologically by theatre and more or less alphabetically within theatre. Each page clearly indicates its origins, as my own work, as a transcript of original records, or a transcript of a personal contribution.
There are narratives of greater or lesser extent for about 120 men of the Squadron, some 76 as individual pages.
- the period from re-forming at home in 1937, through the deployment to Egypt and Palestine in 1938, on to the outbreak of war in 1939 and their long sojourn in the Western Desert of Egypt until the opening of hostilities with Italy in June 1940
Squadron Operations Record Book 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, Audax, Hind, Blenheim I,
RAAF Personnel Grantham, The Unknown Airman’s album, ART Barnes, RD Campbell, WS Close, WH Edwards DFC, AL Farrington, JE Fryatt, JR Gordon-Finlayson DSO DFC, G Grierson, GL Hoyes, JWB Judge, RW Pearson DFC, M Sainsbury, JG Sharratt, RC Wingrove, W Wright.
Palestine operations 1938: the Airman, Farrington, Grierson, Hoyes, Kavanagh DFM, Wright.
- in the Western Desert and Libya against the Italians, from June to November 1940
Squadron Operations Record Book 1940, Blenheim I,
LW Abbs (Letter 3), ART Barnes, ARG Bax, GW Blake, RD Campbell, CFR Clark, WS Close, EL Cooper, RJ Dudman, KCVD Dundas DFC, J Dunnet, AL Farrington, JE Fryatt, G Grierson, JR Gordon-Finlayson DSO DFC, GL Hoyes, JR Marshall DFM, RW Pearson DFC, M Sainsbury, JG Sharratt, HF Squire, W Stack, R Wingrove, W Wright.
- in Greece against the Italians and the Germans, from November 1940 to April 1941
Squadron Operations Record Book 1940, 1941, Blenheim I, The Sphere, Return Journey Across the Styx,
LW Abbs (Letter 1, Letter 3), ART Barnes, W Baird, GW Blake, RD Campbell, G Checketts, CFR Clark, JDWH Clutterbuck, EL Cooper, G Davies, RJ Dudman, KCVD Dundas DFC, J Dunnet, Embros, AL Farrington, JE Fryatt, JR Gordon-Finlayson DSO DFC, WP Griffin, CN Hansford, G Kearns, JR Marshall DFM, RW Pearson DFC, M Sainsbury, JG Sharratt, HF Squire,WB Stack, W Wright, Tatoi today.
- against the Vichy French in Syria in May and June 1941
Squadron Operations Record Book 1941, Blenheim IV,
GW Blake, CFR Clark, KCVD Dundas DFC, G Kearns, GM Kendrick, JG Sharratt, WB Stack, W Wright.
- The Sudan and 72 OTU, June to December 1941
June and July 1941, Wadi Gazouza, 211 Squadron and 72 OTU, Personnel rolls, RAAF personnel, Blenheim I, Blenheim IV,
GW Blake, W Baird, CFR Clark, EF Cole, A Conrad, KCVD Dundas DFC, NAW How, TD Henderson, AH Kendrick, GM Kendrick, JG Sharratt.
- from Egypt to Sumatra and Java, January to March 1942
Squadron events reconstruction, 1942
RAAF personnel Far East, Blenheim IV (January 1942, February 1942) Sumatra and Java
LW Abbs (Letter 2), W Baird, RN Bateson DFC, GW Blake, JDWH Clutterbuck, EF Cole, EL Cooper, WR Cuttiford, KCVD Dundas DFC, TWS Fisher, JE Fryatt, TD Henderson, LC Hill, FC Joerin, JB Keeping, AH Kendrick, GM Kendrick, GA Mockridge, NH Oddie, JS Robertson, H Wright.
FEPoWs: Abbs, Blake, Cole, Cooper, Fisher, Robertson, Wright.
- in India, Burma and Thailand from August 1943 to November 1945
Squadron Operations Record Book 1943, Beaufighter, Mosquito, India and Burma
Burma Boys (W Dickinson, D Harris, S Spicer, S Woodhouse, AB Wythe DFM, N King, TJ Seager), NA Bolitho, J Carruthers, A Carter, RN Dagnall, IAW Gilmore, A Goodinson, MJC Haakenson, RC Kemp, PF Lockyer, JF Luing, G Manderson DFC, D Marsh-Collis, BB Mearns, JS Mitchell, JH Oblein, LE Ramsay, J Robertson, DA Spencer DFC, P Spooner, TD Taylor, ME Walters, E Watts, DE Winton, EL Wood.
FEPoWs: Haakenson, Luing, Mearns, Oblein.
- In Thailand from November 1945 to March 1946
Squadron Operations Record Book 1946, India and Burma, Mosquito, RC Kemp, D Marsh-Collis, LE Ramsay, DA Spencer DFC, P Spooner, TD Taylor, ME Walters, E Watts, DE Winton.
www.211squadron.org © D Clark & others 2017
Site created 15 Apr 2001, last updated 31 Jul 2017. Page created 28 Jul 2002, last updated 31 Jul 2017
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