SQUADRON NEWS 14 August 2022
With much sadness I must report the death at age 104 years of Les Payne in Brisbane on 24 July 2022.
Then a Sgt Pilot, PL Payne 404114 was one of the RAAF men to complete 211 Squadron’s first and only Blenheim Ops course for Australian aircrews at Wadi Gazouza, July to November 1941, before the Squadron was briefly absorbed into 72 OTU.
Posted to 11 Squadron, Les Payne’s first operational tour with them included Blenheim ops from Ceylon and later over Burma. His second tour continued in the CBI theatre, with 62 Squadron on Douglas C47 supply drops. Repatriated to Australia in mid-1944, Les was posted to 38 Squadron RAAF, again with C47 aircraft, operating in the South West Pacific. He left the RAAF in August 1945 a Flt Lieutenant, returning to civil life in Brisbane, Queensland.
Les and I struck up a warm and fruitful exchange of letters from 2005 until very recent years. He was a very nice chap indeed, who liked a yarn about mates, past adventures, and welcoming the occasional visitor to his home in suburban Brisbane. Les Payne rests at last.
Added the Mention in despatches for The Bish in March 1941, shortly before his DSO. Consequent minor revisions to related remarks and sources.
Minor revisions to Stansberg narrative re 330 Squadron action & sources
SQUADRON NEWS 31 July 2022
In January came brief news via Graham Pitchfork of the death of the Squadron’s last commanding officer, W/Cdr DL Harvey 41698. As 211 Squadron CO from August 1945, it had fallen to Harvey to oversee their post-war Mosquito deployments to Akyab and on to Don Muang and final disbandment there in March 1946.
It took me some time to track down some more details of his passing to add to his brief CO Roll bio. Derek Leslie Harvey of Dorset and the New Forest died on Christmas Day 2021 at the age of 101, survived by his wife and extended family. His obituary in the New Milton Advertiser and Lymington Times records a warm and full life.
SITE UPDATE 31 July 2022
In January this year I was very pleased to hear from Brian Martin in South Africa. Brian is working on his father Gerry Martin’s RAF memorabilia (photograph prints and negative files, diary and remaining Flying Log Book) to create a digital compilation for family.
Sgt Gerald Hayward (Jerry, Gerry) Martin 967741
Aircraftman Gerry Martin soon after enlistment cSep 1939
Gerald was born in April 1919 in Canada, later growing up in Glasgow. As war came, he entered the RAF at Padgate in September 1939 (by his Service number). After completing initial training at 5 ITW Hastings in February 1940, he went on to qualify as a Sgt Observer. His first operational posting was to 82 Squadron at Bodney and Watton with Blenheim Mark IVs. Their heavy losses from daylight operations over Europe and later Malta are well recorded: Martin had three operations with them from October 1940.
On 2 December 1940 Gerry Martin was Sgt Observer in one of several crews undertaking Blenheim Delivery Flights from Watton then Thorney Island then via Malta to Egypt. These long flights counted as two trips towards tour completion. Sgts Bennett, Tunstall and France had also left on 2 December, while Sgts Baker, Hay and Checketts made their departure in the very early hours of 3 December. Bennett and crew were the first to reach 211 Squadron at Menidi in Greece, flying their first operation on 20 December (only to be missing in action with L1540 while returning from a Valona raid on 31 December).
For Sgt Observer Martin, posting to 211 Squadron came a month later, arriving on 23 January 1941 with a draft of 10 aircrew that included the Hooper brothers and Sgts Baker, Hay and Checketts. In Greece, Gerry (or Jerry) Martin was one of two so named among the aircrew, the other being the Sgt WOp/AG known as “Ace” Martin (who had joined the Squadron by October 1940 to record at least 30 ops by the end in Greece).
The RAF and 211 Squadron took heavy loss in Greece and of necessity destroyed (or lost to enemy action) both Squadron and personal records. Among these were the 211 Squadron record from March to June 1941 and also Gerry Martin’s second Flying Log Book (his first having been left with 82 Squadron on departing the UK).
Thus the Squadron Operations record has but one op listed for him: on 22 February in L8478 with pilot P/O JC “Pip” Cox and “Ace” Martin as WOp/AG, the original daily records for March, April and May having been destroyed during the withdrawal and only recompiled as monthly summaries after arriving in Palestine. Likewise, while his third Log Book includes a summary note of 10 operations with 211 Squadron in Greece, his entries only begin on 12 April, to record some truly fascinating detail for 15 April . He flew with Pip Cox and with both Hooper brothers: all three came from Rhodesia.
While in Greece Gerry took a good many excellent photographs, prints of which in the usual way were often shared with his Squadron friends, among them WOp/AG Sgt Bill Baird and my father, “Nobby” Clark, fellow Sgt Observer. The two came to know each other well.
By 1 June, like several other 211s, he’d been posted to 11 Squadron in Palestine and Iraq. He was then posted with them to the Western Desert. There in late November 1941 Sgt Martin was attached to 12 Squadron SAAF until July 1942.
“Up the Blue”: Gerry Martin, LG110 Western Desert November 1941 (Martin collection)
LG110 was about 40 miles into the Desert from the coast at Sidi Barrani.
Gerry Martin and 12 Squadron SAAF crewmates Western Desert 1942 (Martin collection)
The irrepressible Sgt Observer, in shorts. And a better tent and site!
At last, after about 20 months posted to operational Squadrons, 17 of them in the Middle East, he was screened, tour expired, to be a navigation Instructor at 47 Air School Queenstown. On arrival there, 29 August 1942, he was pleased and surprised to meet my father again. Stints at 44 Air School and 43 Air School followed, taking him to the end of the war. Commissioned Pilot Officer in February 1943, he left the RAF in 1945 as Flt Lieutenant GH Martin 1149977 RAFVR.
Gerry Martin later settled in South Africa, where his son Brian lives today. Gerald Hayward Martin died in November 1983 at the age of 64, while visiting family in New South Wales. His mortal remains rest in South Africa. With sincere thanks to Brian and his family, I’ve been able to use a number of their very high quality scans of Gerry Martin’s negatives, those from Greece added selectively to those pages noted below.
Other revisions 31 July 2022 update
World War I
Thanks to the interest of Miles Snowdon in the United Kingdom back in January, had added a brief bio for Observer 2/Lt WC Snowdon and his Mention in despatches. In return, extracted some records of Snowdon’s adventures in the air with his pilot 2/Lt HH Palmer. Now added a summary of Snowdon’s account of victory over an enemy aircraft in September 1918, in DH9 D2782. Palmer and Snowdon both survived the War.
L1481 Added fine shots of UQ-B as “GFs Kite” in flight from the neg files of Sgt Observer Gerry Martin, thanks to son Brian and his family. By date and other image comparison, also confirming UQ-B as L1481 (vs L1487)
L8523 Additional notes about identity as UQ-R and GFs forced landing on 25 Sep 1940.
L8531 Again from from Gerry Martin’s negatives, added a nice shot of the aircraft at Paramythia in a very weathered state
L8664 Added fine image of C Flight en echelon returning from a raid, again thanks to Martin father and son.
From correspondence with Brian Martin and his father’s annotated copy of Wisdom’s Wings Over Olympus added names to the morning briefing group shots from Wings Over Olympus and from Lee’s Special Duties.
Return Trip Across the Styx
Revised note on the identity of UQ-D at Paramythia: not possible to determine serial number.
Revised note on Aircrew outside the operations tent...personnel, to match the Special Duties group as noted above.
India & Burma
Copied the Squadron before disbandment group shot from Des Marsh-Collis to the disbanding notes here, moving the personnel notes with it.
Added a great neg scan thanks to Brian Martin, from his father Gerry’s collection, showing Bill brewing up in camp at Paramythia. Years after, these chaps could turn their hand to an empty kero tin and fettle it into something useful.
Added summary and image of his 13 Squadron June 1933 forced-landing in poor weather on Dartmoor.
Added a fine image of my Dad one peaceful afternoon by the bathing pool constructed by the Squadron at Paramythia. It was a very welcome surprise to see this image of Gerry Martin’s for the first time, in Brian’s first email to me in January.
Added notes on three other Paramythia camp images, being exposures also made by Gerry Martin.
Added to existing notes on JKRV movements to Paramythia on 14 and 15 April 1941, with notes on JKRV Do 17 3363 movements in particular, and a JKRV Do 17 image of Gerry Martin’s at Yannina that is arguably the same aircraft (if not without puzzle).
In Gerry Martin’s Wings Over Olympus copy he noted that Paddy’s death (in the Sudan in 1941) was the result of injuries he had received in a crash with VI Squadron in Palestine in 1938: amplified account accordingly.
Added photographs of the camp at Paramythia around March 1941 and of Menidi after Luftwaffe attack, end of April 1941, again thanks to the Martin family.
AIR 78 Index to RAF airmen etc: in July 2022 National Archives UK ceased access to the free digitised image files, “temporarily removed for review”. Sites & links and Do It Yourself entries noted accordingly.
Other small revisions: Personnel rolls, 1940, 1941, Middle East/Wadi Gazouza, Cooper, Dudman, Alan Conrad/Wadi Gazouza, Maps/Sudan.
Major additions came to a natural close in 2016, with the 75th anniversary of the fatal Easter Sunday operation of April 1941 in Greece and the 70th anniversary of disbanding at Bangkok in March 1946.
Since then, smaller updates and revisions are made on 31 July each year (in advance of the annual PANDORA archive copy) or more immediately if needed.
Merry Christmas 2021
Aircrew of No. 211 Squadron RAF being debriefed by a Greek Army liaison officer at Paramythia, Greece, following a sortie over Albania (RAF Official, © IWM ME(RAF) 1036)
For this year’s Christmas Card (sent as usual as a PDF by email) I chose this wonderful official image from Paramythia in the Spring of 1941. Sending the “card” this year reminded me once again of the inevitable loss of email contact with old friends as time passes. Seems appropriate, 80 years after the event, to repeat the image here along with my Christmas greetings and good wishes for a happier 2022 to all old friends of the Squadron, wherever they may be and however we may have lost touch.
Having sent the card a few days ago, I’m also happy to be able now to add a little more to my personnel caption, thanks to Graham Pitchfork for spotting Len Page and, after a fresh look on my part, realising that it would be Bill Stack with navigating gear under his arm. My revised comments follow.
Left to right: an unidentified RAF Officer of senior age possibly with MC, a Greek Army Liaison Officer, then the 211 Squadron aircrew —
unidentified Sgt WOp/AG, Sgt WOp/AG W (Bill) Baird in sweater, Sgt Observer JBT (Peggy) O'Neill (head and shoulders), Sgt Observer J (Jim) Dunnet in flying jacket, Sgt WOp/AG Tam (Geordie) Hughes, my father Sgt Observer CFR (Nobby) Clark (head only), Sgt Observer W (Bill) Stack (with kit under-arm), Sgt Observer LR (Len) Page in sweater, partly obscured. Far right margin and heavily cropped, hint of a man in battledress.
More relaxed Imperial War Museum non-commercial conditions (provided the source is attributed as shown above) have at long last made use of images like this practical.
Other Squadron news
Very welcome news from my old friend Nigel Davies-Williams in Flintshire. After much research and with considerable ingenuity in navigating the ever-changing tide of publishing specialty titles, his book Gerald’s War about his uncle P/O Observer Gerald Davies (lost on the Easter Sunday raid of 1941), has just been released on Amazon. Congratulations, Nigel...may the book do well.
In the spirit of another Christmas in still rather testing times, I’m re-opening email contact, at least for a while.
The address for genuine 211 Squadron enquirers is
All other enquiries will be binned and their email address blocked.
Repeated misuse of this service will result in its prompt withdrawal.
Current friends and contacts
are welcome to stay in touch using my current personal email address.
211 SQUADRON NEWS: 12 September 2021
Happy 100th Birthday!
On the occasion of Alan Conrad’s 100th birthday on 12 September, this update is my small contribution to marking that great family event.
In October 1941, Alan was posted as a GD Clerk to the Squadron in the wastes of Wadi Gazouza, remaining with 72 OTU there and later in Kenya until 1943. Eighty years later, a small refresh of my page for him on this very special occasion, including a happy shot taken very shortly before, thanks to John Conrad. One way and another, we’ve all been in cheerful correspondence since late 2001.
14 September 2021
Many thanks to John who, in all the family busyness before and after The Party, kindly sent splendid photos of a very happy occasion. Wonderful. Accordingly added two of his images in this small revision.
Took the opportunity to make two other minor and unrelated revisions:
Lost returning from an operation on 13 February 1942, at night in swampland while seeking Palembang P2 in a tropical storm (fatally for the RAAF crew, F/Os Mackay, Oddie and Payne). Thanks to the helpful staff of the RAF Museum and the RAF Air Historical Branch, added a summary of the sparse record of the aircraft’s movement to the Far East from the AM Form 78 Aircraft (movements) card while noting the absence of an AM Form 1180 (aircraft damage/loss) card (sadly common in that very difficult period).
Added some brief biographical details for the late Alan Bernard “Alfie” Wythe DFM, thanks in part to the so useful Free BMD service.
SITE UPDATE 31 July 2021
Major additions came to a natural close in 2016, with the 75th anniversary of the fatal Easter Sunday operation of April 1941 in Greece and the 70th anniversary of disbanding at Bangkok in March 1946.
Since then, smaller updates continue either on this date each year (in advance of the annual PANDORA archive copy) or more immediately as needed. This update includes the following revisions:
Minor revision: email contact for new enquiries withdrawn
World War I
Operations: August and September 1918 re-ordered and amplified (from Squadron pro forma history)
Personnel Rolls: all aircraft identities linked to the relevant DH9 aircraft summary histories
India and Burma
Reviewed Mention in despatches entries, concluding that the June 1943 award to F/Sgt S Teague, a Chemical Warfare Fighter, related to earlier service with another unit.
Sources and further reading
Added links to British Paramount News clip showing 211 Squadron at El Daba in May 1940, with own detailed comments, further developed from my remarks posted at Critical Past some years ago
Other minor amendments:
1942, Blenheim I, Blenheim IV, Beaufighter X, Mosquito FBVI, Far East, RAAF personnel, Glossary
JE Fryatt, GA Riddle (Personnel Rolls), JB Keeping, RC Kemp, BB Mearns, NH Oddie, JG Sharratt.
SITE UPDATE 13 April 2021
This year is the 80th anniversary of the fatal unescorted daylight operation of Easter Sunday 1941 in which the entire formation of six 211 Squadron aircraft was lost over Northern Greece, an occasion ever sombre in the memory of Squadron members and family.
“They waited until the afternoon sun had dropped behind the mountains.
The six aircraft had not returned, nor was there any message.”
Wisdom T Wings Over Olympus Ch 26 211’s Last raid p182
An appropriate moment for some revisions:
With some welcome news from renewed contact with Nigel Williams about his research into the RAF service of his uncle Gerald, one of the 16 aircrew who failed to return that Spring afternoon in Greece, some additions and re-ordering of text, including some better linking for crewmate P/O Arthur Geary DFC
Re-ordered April 1941 aircraft & crew entries, refreshed links
Amplified account of aircraft and aircrews in Palestine in May 1941
Some tedious repair work to standing text, in recovering from a copy error compounded by a back-up file muddle, which may I hope be invisible at least for the main text at the published website. Some other minor amends elsewhere may also have been trampled upon: if so, to be corrected as found.
SITE UPDATE 26 January 2021
For Australia Day in this 20th year of my site for my father’s old RAF squadron, some small revisions arising from some recent events and work on existing content:
Squadron News 11 November 2020
For the 75th Remembrance Day since World War 2, a small update to mark the occasion and to remember the dead of 211 Squadron RAF in that conflict. There are two rolls for these men: the Honour Roll and the Far East PoW roll.
The 320 men listed are known to have been associated with the Squadron in the circumstances of their death, the vast majority as Squadron members. In all, 119 were aircrew (including 19 RAAF men in the Far East). Of the remainder, 186 men died while held captive as Prisoners of War in the Far East.
The tapestry of war being as broad as it is, this little update brings some small additions, the first of sombre tone, the second a bright adornment, the last a little technical amplification:
David Golding DFC was a Sgt Observer with the Squadron from December 1941, taking part in the deployment to the Far East for the brief and bitter campaign of February and March 1942 in Sumatra and Java. This he survived to be evacuated aboard Kota Gede
Born in 1922, David Golding died in September 2019 in his 97th year. This past week found that his death and service had been recorded by the Aircrew Association In Memoriam roll. I lost touch with the family in 2017 but by all accounts, David Golding had lived a full and happy life. Noted, albeit belatedly, in the usual way here and here
Thanks to Sandeha Lynch back in 2002, included some fine shots taken by his father (who managed well focussed, well exposed and sharp, unshaky images in the air with the hand-held cameras and slower film of the day)
In this case, showing a once common part of RAF Middle East life: air travel, in the cabin of a Vickers Valentia (here, K3604 of 216 Squadron). In January 1939 the Valentia was a still useful twin-engine biplane transport, though already obsolete. When drafting in 2002 only two passengers caught my eye but, in recent contact with Sandeha (a fine photographer himself), I noticed that there are in fact four passengers in shot, not two. Caption amended accordingly
Meanwhile, Sandeha has made a wonderful digital transfer of his father's collection, all available on line to view here: BJ Lynch Album
Revised, amplified description to accompany the turret interior image shown in the Vickers ‘K’ or VGO section.
Squadron News 22 September 2020
Dennis A Spencer DFC
I much regret to note the death in his 100th year of my old friend Dennis Spencer, 211 Squadron Warrant Officer Navigator/Wireless of the Beaufighter days. He died peacefully in his sleep on Sunday 20 September after a long period in care.
After we first made acquaintance in September 2003, I was fortunate to enjoy a long and cheerful correspondence with Dennis and with his late wife, vivacious Annabelle: first as he worked on his memoir of war service Looking Backwards Over Burma and for long afterwards, until failing health prevailed. Since then, son Ian and I keep in touch: I’m deeply grateful to Ian for passing on the news.
And so the long sunset becomes night at last.
Ian has since written a fine obituary for Dennis, which appears on his Hinton Hunt blog here:
SITE UPDATE 31 July 2020
Major additions came to a natural close in 2016, with the 75th anniversary of the fatal Easter Sunday operation of April 1941 in Greece and the 70th anniversary of disbanding at Bangkok in March 1946.
Since then, small revisions continue either on this date each year (in advance of the annual PANDORA archive copy) or more immediately as needed. This update includes the following revisions:
Re-cast the Squadron losses summary
Re-ordered, updated text on Internet practice
Added summary detail of S/Ldr JES Hill’s 211 Squadron service from August 1943 to mid January 1944 and posting as W/Cdr and CO to 177 Squadron on 17 January 1944 (from the Operations Record Books of the two Squadrons)
Shot down that October, Hill survived captivity in Rangoon Gaol. His Pilot’s Flying Log Book is among those held by the Imperial War Museum, both digitised and in part displayed. Despite that record, the catalogue summary of his war service is partly incorrect in stating “finally with No 211 Squadron, September 1943 - October 1944”.
Repatriated, John Elliott Scott Hill 42061 was subsequently awarded the DSO and remained in RAF service post-war, to retire a Group Captain wef 19 April 1968.
Added two more men to the RCAF/Canada section, thanks to a return visit to the Bomber Command Museum of Canada overseas casualties list, and individual Commonwealth War Graves Commission records. F/Sgt Harvey and AC2 Mickleburgh were RAF men already accounted for as Squadron losses, their Canadian origin now noted albeit belatedly. Corrected entry for F/O Barlow, who had joined the RCAF but was from the United States
Small changes to commemorative remarks
Added OneSearch, new in 2020 and which shows promise
Sources lists added (all pages now complete)
India and Burma
Fisher TWS (plus minor revisions)
Robertson JS (plus minor revisions).
August 2020: 75th Anniversaries
This August brings the 75th anniversaries of two major events at the close of World War 2
6 August 1945
Kept as Hiroshima Day but marks the annihilation of two Japanese cities: Hiroshima on that day and Nagasaki on 9 August, destroyed with very great loss, almost entirely of civilian life. These remain the only nuclear weapons attacks in human history.
15 August 1945
Like VE Day preceding it, Victory in the Pacific Day (VP Day) has been so celebrated in Australia ever since the very first occurrence in 1945 and with good reason. Also known elsewhere as VJ Day, occasional snide comment about the usage VP Day has been crisply dealt with by the Australian War Memorial in this article:
SITE UPDATE 8 MAY 2020
This date is the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe, VE75.
Minor revisions to text and links resulting from recent work:
SITE UPDATE 13 APRIL 2020
While the COVID-19 Corona Virus pandemic sadly affects so many around the world, in Australia, and here in Canberra, for 211 Squadron “family” remembering Easter Sunday 13 April 1941 remains ever poignant.
Mindful of both the times and that long-past occasion, made a number of small revisions:
For now, all is well enough (though hardly usual) here at home. May that be so for readers too, as we wait and hope for better times.
SITE UPDATE 5 FEBRUARY 2020
Over the past month widespread bushfires in Australia continued to burn, with rapidly changing conditions warranting close daily attention in the bush and in the cities. While large fires are still active in the ranges to our immediate South, the risk to Canberra suburbs has markedly reduced in the last few days. From time to time, heavy smoke still returns. The weather forecast is for rain over the coming weekend. Not quite time to unpack the escape kit yet but worth taking time for another small update.
My old friend Dennis (Beaufighter W/O Nav/W DA Spencer DFC) passed his 100th birthday on 9 January. Although very frail, he remains well in care. Very welcome news from son Ian.
Restored a map of RAF Airfields in Greece for 1940 and 1941. Consequent link amends on relevant pages.
Postscript 27 February 2020
As a hot, dry and difficult summer drew to a close, welcome news: after much work and good recent rain, the Namadgi National Park bushfire has been declared out at last.
SITE UPDATE 5 JANUARY 2020
While the bushfire crisis in Australia continues (especially in South East NSW and East Gippsland in Victoria), after yesterday’s record high temperatures and high winds in Canberra, the immediate local danger has passed for the moment. There are still no active fires in the ACT although very heavy smoke from far-away fires covered the city for several days and may do again.
It is likely to be some weeks before the risk of fire and evacuation improves markedly. Although the site is well backed-up, in case of accident this seems a good time to make these changes:
Les passed 102 years of age in November 2019. Exchanging Christmas greetings over the New Year made for a little update here. Always a pleasure to hear from Les!
Some small changes to order. Added a small, selective summary of reader comments over the years, Compliments and critics
And a couple of earlier changes:
Squadron News 20 September 2019
William E (Bill) Dickinson 10 July 2019
Sergeant and later Warrant Officer pilot of 211 Squadron from their re-forming in August 1943, Bill and his navigator Andy Chatterton survived to complete their tour of operations in late January 1945. I last heard from Bill in 2003: recent efforts to regain contact were unsuccessful. Following the publication of Graham Pitchfork's Beaufighter Boys, a friend of Bill’s contacted Graham to pass on the news of his death on 10 July, a few days before the book launch on 13 July as part of Flying Legends 2019 at Duxford. Farewell, Bill, and thank you.
SITE UPDATE 31 JULY 2019
Major additions came to a natural close in 2016 with the 75th anniversary of the fatal Easter Sunday operation of 1941 and the 70th anniversary of disbanding in 1946. Since then, other revisions have continued: either on this date each year (in advance of the annual PANDORA archive copy) or more immediately as needed.
Graham Pitchfork's Beaufighter Boys was published by Grub Street in July 2019. The text is, for the most part, of stories shared some years ago with Graham by then-surviving Beaufighter aircrew or, in a few cases, as extracts from their published memoirs. For 211 Squadron's oft neglected part in the India-Burma theatre air war there are two terrific contributions:
Bill Dickinson's 2002 recall of three Memorable Sorties gives a vivid account of bravery, skill and luck on operations. This chapter will be fresh to all readers.
Dennis Spencer DFC's Looking Backwards Over Burma 1999 manuscript chapter on Beaufighter low level navigating makes a welcome re-appearance. Despite advanced dementia, Dennis survives in care.
In Beaufighter Boys, Graham has made another very fine contribution to RAF history.
In addition to those arising for the above pages, this update also includes these small additions and revisions:
Additional Image and notes for the Squadron badge.
World War I
Le Mesurier DSC and 2 Bars MiD: briefly noted prior awards of DSC and first Bar, MID.
Added Command mentions for known instances that recognised brave conduct of two 211 Squadron crews on operations over Burma.
Reordered the May/June 1941 Palestine notes, briefly noting the fate of V5946.
Re-ordered Len’s letters, long shown by date of writing, to order of events.
Added a nice shot of Len’s best mate Cpl Walter “Gibbie” Gibson at Paramythia.
Additional photograph and notes for 4 April 1945 at Stoke Mandeville, with other small related revisions.
KCVD Dundas DFC
WR Hodgins, 22 November 1921–25 December 2018
Remembering our past cheerful correspondence, it is with regret that I now record, a little belatedly, the death of Rankin Hodgins in Alberta last Christmas. Rankin’s late wife Daphne RL Hodgins (née Dundas), who passed away in 2006, was the younger sister of S/Ldr Ken Dundas DFC.
Dundas, well regarded veteran of 211 Squadron in the Middle East and after, was lost with his pro tem RAAF crew over Malaya in February 1942. The kindly interest of Rankin, Daphne and their son John contributed much to my drafting an account of his life and service with the Squadron.
For a time in Greece, as Flying Officer and OIC of ‘B’ Flight, Ken Dundas had immediate command of my father, Sgt Observer CFR “Nobby” Clark and his crewmates, Sgt pilot JR Marshall DFM and Sgt WOp/AG W Baird. In a coincidence of culture (and a perhaps non-coincidental mark of remembrance), our last family home in 1950s England was a pre-war house in Kent bearing the name Kenelm, 9th Century martyr and saint of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia who, long revered, was much later mentioned in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Kenelm was also the first name, in full, of Ken Dundas DFC.
NH Oddie RAAF
Slightly reordered. Added text and in memoriam for RAAF crewmates F/O GG Mackay (Pilot) and F/O JH Payne (Wireless Op/Air Gunner). Added image from WR Cuttiford (where some matching revisions are made, also adding a note on F/O AM “Jack” Howe RAAF).
PL Payne RAAF
Added a photo of Les and his RAAF crewmates Sgt Observer McCann and Sgt WOp/AG LD “Charger” Cameron, expanded notes on their 11 Squadron service, with revisions to MK “Bill” Burnside.
Sites & Links
Some trimming of redundant or outdated entries.
Sources lists added: Dundas, Wingrove, Maps.
Page footer links: expanded set throughout.
Numerous other smaller revisions, to text and internal links.
SITE UPDATE 11 NOVEMBER 2018
A small update to commemorate this significant anniversary.
SITE UPDATE 31 JULY 2018
Major additions came to a natural close in 2016 with the 70th anniversary of disbanding in 1946 and the 75th anniversary of the fatal Easter Sunday operation of 1941. Since then, other revisions have continued: either on this date each year (in advance of the annual PANDORA archive copy) or more immediately as needed.
This update includes news and revisions as follows:
Sgt PL Payne 404114, RAAF pilot of 211 Squadron/72 OTU No 1 Blenheim Operations Course, Wadi Gazouza, July to November 1941.
A really nice coincidence in retired life between old mates confirmed the news that Les had his 100th birthday in November 2017: warmest if belated birthday wishes to you, Sir! A keen letter writer over a number of years past, his yarns and photos have been welcome additions to the Squadron story. Still pottering along at home in Queensland, Les gets out and about on weekly shopping trips with his daughter.
This was all really the most welcome news, which prompted me to revisit my text and add rather more detail of Les’ later service with 11 and 62 Squadrons RAF and later with 38 Squadron RAAF, from his Series A9300 record of service at the National Archives of Australia.
Bolitho F/Sgt WA Williams joined 211 Squadron with Norman Bolitho as his Navigator in April 1944, however, Bolitho fell ill and was off operations for some time. Williams then took F/Sgt R Gollop as Navigator. On their 12th sortie together they were posted missing, 27 July 1944: added service summaries and post-war recovery. Added loss details for Beaufighter NE488. Added summary of Nottage & Bolitho’s 177 Squadron forced landing behind the lines, 26 April 1945.
Brooks DFC DFM 563947 Cpl and later Sergeant Observer with 211 Squadron in Egypt and Greece, FJT “Rajah” Brooks died in December 2001. His nickname stemmed from pre-war service with 60 Squadron in India, as an LAC Air Gunner. Prompted by finding a record of his 2001 burial at Mildenhall and by the record of the sale of his Flying Log Book and medals in 2006 and again in Canada this past June, his long RAF service is now recorded with an entry among the Gallantry awards of the Squadron and also among Final Farewells with a potted biography drawn from a range of sources (Air Force List 1939, 1957, London Gazette 1941 to 1947, Squadron records, Sixty Squadron history) plus genealogical sources.
Close Noted the July 1991 death of William S Close.
Conrad Added recent news and photos of Alan’s busy days and cheerful adventures, with many thanks as ever to John and Carol.
Davies Added/re-ordered text re service in Greece from existing records.
Einboden Noted Ted Einboden’s death back in 1987.
Fabian, Gallantry Awards Added additional service detail including Curly Fabian’s 1942 New Year Honours Mention in Despatches, which may have in part related to his 1941 service with 211 Squadron. The Squadron formal record for 1942 is lost beyond recovery, however, his award can be found, with difficulty, in the London Gazette and readily in Maton Honour Those Mentioned: thanks to my old friend Errol Martyn in NZ.
Greig Squadron Adjutant 1943 to 1945. Deceased, South Africa, June 1990. Added short biographical summary from London Gazette 1942 to 1990, with brief additional information from FreeBMD.
Johnston Added text re RAF service, FEPoW and post-war life.
King Squadron Compass Adjuster from 1944 to 1946, Norman died in January 2016 aged 92 years. Revised and amplified account. Added to Final Farewells. In Canada, my long-standing friend Elizabeth Kaegi was able to contact his daughter Lizzie in England, who passed on the news: sincere condolences to her and to all the King family.
Marsh-Collis Added some additional if brief biographical detail, up to Des’ death in 1997.
Paterson Noted Drew Paterson’s 1996 death in Queensland.
Spencer Added a little on RAF entry and training with pilot Geoff Vardigans DFC. Moved Home safe to form a conclusion. Despite advancing dementia, Dennis is otherwise in good health and well looked after, in care in Somerset.
Spicer Noted, albeit belatedly, the 2010 death of Sam Spicer and added to Final Farewells.
Squire Noted the 1961 death of “Doc” Squire.
Strever Added service summary for Lt Col ET (Ted) Strever DFC of the SAAF, noting his two unfulfilled postings to 211 Squadron.
Wythe Re-order of text and a better scan of ‘B’ flight ground crew photograph with Beaufighter W-William taken at Chiringa in early 1945.
Do it yourself Revised Service records/On-line sources for latest MoD rules on requesting RAF Service records.
Enquiries Re-ordered. Minor revisions generally and on web archives
Markings Re-ordered and revised remarks on unit codes, for consistency and detail.
1942, Blenheim IV Minor revisions for Z7643 and Z9649 and their crews at Pakenbaroe and Palembang P2 in early February.
Beaufighter Added LX996, LZ130, LZ324 (LZ524). Expanded NE298 entry. NE488 additional loss detail from Sortie Report of the day in AIR 27/1308.
From ACM Brooke-Popham’s 1942 Despatch, added paragraph concerning deployment of bomber squadrons to Sumatra (considered from mid 1941 with planning in hand from late December 1941), with consequential revisions here and to Sumatra & Java, Bateson.
Site & links Complete check and update June 2018. A minor reorder, numerous revisions and moving a number of dead and/or terminally broken sites are the result. A complete check and revise of external links on all other pages detected a number of broken links to some minor source detail, now deleted.
Site summary Added a 70 OTU section.
World War I Other aircrew: added brief bio details for 2nd Lt WJ Large, Observer.
SITE UPDATE 31 JULY 2017
This update included some news and other small amendments:
Added to brief notes of the number of men who served with 211 Squadron, the Australian members of the Squadron, and the numbers for whom it has been possible to draft at least some account.
Added to information about Cpl JH Fleming’s RAF service and Mention in despatches.
Added to and re-ordered the caption of the Grantham 1938 formal Squadron photograph.
Added roll of 1940—1941 PoWs, now 11 men in all, after adding Sgt MF Braby 1261839.
Consequential revisions to Honour Roll Summary table and to Middle East 211 Losses summary.
Robin McCubbin, of Ontario, had much to do with making it possible to record the family connections and war service of S/Ldr RN Dagnall RAFVR. I regret to report news, only recently to hand, of Robin’s untimely death, aged 57 years, on 12 July 2016.
Added to and re-ordered the caption of the Grantham 1938 formal Squadron photograph.
Re-ordered that part of the account of F/Lt Griffin’s 1941 service as MO with the Squadron for April, to note his mention in Air Cdr JWB Grigson’s Report on RAF Activities in the Peloponessus 22–29 April 1941.
Added briefly to notes of Harry Wright’s crew (the Australian pilot P/O LH Williamson and Sgt Observer Smith) with 107 Squadron and 211 Squadron (adding associated links in RAAF and Far East Tung Song rolls), and of his time with 84 Squadron.
Noted the 2007 death of former Beaufighter and Mosquito pilot of the Squadron, Alan Bernard Wythe DFM.
Residing in care in Somerset, Dennis is increasingly frail. For this update I’ve made some small revisions to my closing description of his fine book Looking Backwards Over Burma and to Sources.
Noted the 2008 passing of former 205 Squadron RAF Armourer the late Ron Lovell, co-author with the late Hugh Campbell RANVR of So Long Singapore, the story of the Straits Steamer Tung Song and its RAF evacuees from Java.
Home, World War I Squadron losses and Honour Roll, Far East, Maps
SITE UPDATE 2 MARCH 2017
This update marks the 75th Anniversary of the final evacuation of 211 Squadron men from Java, shortly before the surrender of the Dutch East Indies to invading Japanese forces in March 1942. Though modest in extent, the additions and revisions have been selected with those events very much in mind.
In the brief and bitter air campaign on Sumatra and Java, the Squadron fought it’s aircraft to a standstill without the aid of most of their groundcrew and equipment. From 6 February to 21 February the Squadron had lost 10 of perhaps 20 Blenheim IV aircraft on operations, in the course of which 19 aircrew died or failed to return. Their few remaining aircraft were absorbed by 84 Squadron on 25 February.
From 26 February, 211 Squadron personnel were withdrawn to the South coast of Java pending evacuation from the port of Tjilatjap (Cilacap). On 27 February, Kota Gede sailed for Ceylon with at least 21 men of the Squadron among the 2150 servicemen crowded aboard. On the evening of 2 March 1942, the last contingent of 65 aircrew and groundcrew of the Squadron boarded the Straits Steamer Tung Song, bound for Fremantle in Western Australia with some 200 other service personnel and civilian evacuees.
After the Dutch administration finally surrendered Java on 8 March, the Japanese took many tens of thousands of civilians and service personnel captive. Over 5100 RAF men thus became prisoners of war: at least 346 men of 211 Squadron were among them.
Len “Abbie” Abbs was one of just 160 men of the Squadron from Java to survive the next three years of captivity. I’ve taken this opportunity to refresh the latter part of my text and to correct a geographic slip of mine that I fancy would have much amused my old friend Abbie.
From 2007 correspondence with Colin Burningham, belatedly added a transcript by Mrs Hill of her late husband’s Flying Log Book from 7 December 1941 to 18 February 1942, with consequent additions and revisions (and as noted below). While the present occasion is very apt, I can only apologise for the very long delays in first writing up, and at last adding to, my page for Les Hill.
Belated addition: Blenheim Mark IV Z7792 of Sgts Hill, Golding and Wright (with Cpl Hillman as passenger), of the Air Party bound for the Dutch East Indies, from 2007 correspondence as above. Some clarification of much less certain attributions for L9336, Z7795 and Z9815.
Added the flights of Sgt Hill & co in Mark IV Z7792 from 25 January to 18 February 1942, as above.
Thanks to a recent visit to a favourite old bookshop, from the Java Motor Club’s three-sheet Automobielkart of about 1935 added crops for two parts of Java: the area to the East of Batavia and the area North of Tjilatjap, highlighting places relevant to 211 Squadron in early 1942.
Sources, Site search, Site updates.
Major site additions ceased with the 75th Anniversary update of 13 April 2016. On 1 April 2018 it will be the 100th Anniversary of the Squadron’s RAF formation in World War I, however, today’s update is the last of the really major anniversaries that I propose to record at much length. Other small revisions will be made when needed or for the usual 31 July annual tidy up.
SQUADRON NEWS 11 NOVEMBER 2016
With sincere condolences to the Dunbar family, I regret to record the death of George Dunbar on 24 September 2016 in Scotland, at the age of 96.
George was a Fitter II (Airframe) with the Squadron at Wadi Gazouza and on the 1942 Far East deployment to Sumatra, falling captive on Java in March 1942. He survived. In January 2014 the Ross-shire Journal published a vivid biography for George, centred on his surviving 1938-issue RAF mug. Following his death, an equally vivid obituary appeared in The Scotsman on 14 October, which I have just come across this day. Final farewells and related links revised accordingly.
SQUADRON NEWS 31 JULY 2016
I’m very sorry to report news just to hand of the death on 24 July of Maurice Ernest George “Monty” Walters, in Queensland, after a long illness. He was 93.
Monty loved a good yarn and kept in pretty close touch with old comrades around the world, of 211 Squadron, 81 Squadron and elsewhere. After their time together as a Beaufighter crew, he and the late Ron Kemp continued as life-long mates.
I was fortunate that Mont saw my Vet Affairs notice in 2007: we enjoyed a long, friendly and pretty frequent correspondence over the years since. He was of the greatest help with no less than three new pages to the 211 Squadron story, with a raft of photographs (and identities) to boot.
In a typically newsy email back in March, his closing announcement of anticipated departure was characteristically laconic. Monty Walters: a really great character who will be much missed by his family and friends. It seemed only right to mark the occasion promptly, thus bringing the 31 July update forward to 29 July.
SITE UPDATE 31 JULY 2016
While major additions ceased with the 75th Anniversary update of 13 April, small revisions may still be necessary from time to time. For this update, some detail has been added to a number of accounts, along with other minor amendments. A similar update may be made on 31 July 2017.
Personnel rolls Southern Rhodesia:
Expanded account of the Hooper brothers RAF service and the 1958 death of JCR Hooper (thanks to assistance from the NLA Enquiry Service, the de Havilland Moth Club and the British Library Enquiry Service). A related small revision for their mention with Geo Kearns.
P/O LG George 400238 corrected: an Observer of 45 Squadron from 1941 to 1943, not a 211 Squadron FE survivor.
Sgt WOp/AG RV Harrison 408038
Added as an other connection, posted in to 72 OTU on 10 December 1941 for Blenheim operations training, apparently later instructing in Kenya and Rhodesia before repatriaton to Australia in 1943.
211 Squadron and 72 OTU
Minor revisions regarding Blenheim Operations Course dates, arising from The Middle East: Wadi Gazouza below.
Added Cpl Geoff Hoyes part in the 11 and 12 June raids, accidentally omitted when reconstructing the missing June 1940 period, with related revisions for Hoyes.
Added “W” Wing 26 March signal to BAFG re accidental death of S/Ldr Nedwill. Minor revision to links.
Blenheim I; Blenheim IV
Added accident or loss details for L8403, L8443 and Z6364, from information previously supplied by PH Temple but laid aside for one reason or another.
The Middle East: Wadi Gazouza
Added brief details of Blenheim Operations Courses Nos 1 to 4, garnered from March 1942 pages of the 72 OTU Operations Record Book. Related minor revisions to RAAF Personnel: 211 Squadron and 72 OTU (above) and to W Baird.
Added family and RAF entry and apprenticeship details, thanks to Derek “Min” Larkin, archivist of the RAF Halton Apprentices Association.
Added brief mentions of Doc Squire’s dates of birth and of taking up general practice.
Walters Monty’s 24 July death noted (and in Final farewells).
Minor re-ordering of Web archiving text.
SQUADRON NEWS 11 MAY 2016
Son Ian most kindly wrote to let me know that Annabelle died peacefully on 6 May. Dennis, now increasingly frail himself, was able to be with her to the end. Her vivacious personality will greatly be missed, by family and by friends, near and far.
SQUADRON NEWS 13 APRIL 2016
This update marks the 75th anniversary of the Squadron’s fatal operation from Paramythia, on Easter Sunday 13 April 1941.
Six Blenheim I aircraft were sent on an unescorted daylight raid that afternoon, to attack German forces at Florina as they advanced into Northern Greece from the Monastir Gap in Yugoslavia. None returned. All were lost, shot down by the Luftwaffe.
S/Ldr Irvine †
P/O Davies †
P/O Geary DFC †
F/O Herbert †
W/Cdr Coote †
F/Sgt Young †
F/Lt Godfrey DFC
Sgt O’Neill †
F/Sgt Wainhouse †
F/Lt Buchanan DFC †
S/Ldr Cryer DFC †
Sgt Pattison †
F/O Thompson DFC †
P/O Hogarth †
F/Sgt Arscott †
F/Sgt Bryce †
Sgt Waring †
“They waited until the afternoon sun had dropped behind the mountains.
The six aircraft had not returned, nor was there any message”.
TH Wisdom Wings Over Olympus p182
Of the 18 aircrew, Godfrey and James were the only survivors of the day, however, in the course of their evacuation to Athens by air two days later, James was killed in action leaving Godfrey the sole Squadron member alive to recount the events. He died in a civil aviation accident in 1946. Coote and Cryer were OC and Deputy OC Western Wing HQ, sitting in. They took the places of 211 Squadron Sgt Observers Dunnet and Kavanagh DFM.
Sgt JJ Paddy Kavanagh DFM died of natural causes in October 1941, serving with the Squadron in The Sudan. Sgt JB Dunnet went on to a post-war RAF career, retiring at last as Flight Lieutenant in 1966. He was to play a significant part in the at least partial recovery of the Easter Sunday missing and then, with his Blenheim Over the Balkans of 2001, in the recognition of their service and their Squadron. James died in 2013.
Most of the material for this update was chosen with this anniversary very much in mind.
Other Squadron and website news
The two latest updates, apart from marking the 70th and the 75th anniversaries of two very significant events in the Squadron’s service, have also pretty well taken in all personal material awaiting attention. I’m not planning to make any more major additions or revisions to the website as it now stands. I expect this April 2016 update will be the last with new pages.
There may be a small maintenance update on 31 July 2016. After that, small updates may still be made from time to time, for example, to rectify any major errors or to note the doings of Squadron members (or their passing).
By the by, this is also the 15th anniversary of the website.
The very difficult conditions of the Dutch East Indies 1942 campaign left no trace of any formal Squadron record from that time. However, some Flying Log Books and other personal documents or reports of Squadron aircrew have come my way in various forms over the years, sufficient to compile an at least partial reconstruction of the Squadron’s activities from January to March 1942.
While the result is most certainly incomplete, and while there are inconsistencies in the source material available, such a record (however imperfect) seemed to me a fitting gesture to recognise their service.
William Stanley Close was a Sgt Observer of relatively senior age at 28 when he joined 211 Squadron in April 1940. He was to fly with them on Desert operations against the Italians until October 1940, just before the Squadron moved to Greece. Later flying with 113 Squadron and 70 Squadron in the Middle East, he was commissioned in 1942.
Returning to the UK in 1943, he was posted as Navigator to 467 Squadron RAAF on Lancasters in the dark days of 1943, for which he was awarded the DFC. S/Ldr WS Close DFC retired from the RAF in February 1956. I am most grateful to the Dept of Research and Information Services staff at the RAF Museum for a copy of William Close’s first Flying Log Book, which made drafting this page possible.
Norman How was also 28 years old when he joined the RAFVR in 1939. An Observer, he was commissioned in April 1940. After a year on operations with 55 Squadron in Egypt and the Western Desert, he was posted to 211 Squadron at Wadi Gazouza in June 1941, after their near annihilation in Greece. F/Lt How remained in the Sudan with 72 OTU and stayed with them until June 1943 at Nanyuki. After a further tour with 148 Squadron, he returned to the UK in 1944 and to civil life in 1945. Norman How died in August 2003.
I again thank the staff of the Dept of Research and Information Services at the RAF Museum for a copy of his Flying Log Book, which made drafting this page possible. I’ve illustrated my rather brief account with several of Alan Conrad’s images of 72 OTU at Nanyuki.
A page for an original 211, RW “Twinkle” Pearson DFC. Posted to 211 Squadron in July 1937 as a Sergeant Pilot, he remained with them on the move to the Middle East. Commissioned, he flew over 50 sorties, was awarded the DFC, and survived Greece in 1941. Posted Home in mid-1942, “Twinkle” died in a Hurricane accident in 1943, aged 30.
In addition to gathering my own copies of Squadron and other records, official and otherwise, I must thank my old friend Ian Carter and through him, the Pearson family, for access to (and permission to use) personal records and images; and Graham Pitchfork for details of the 1943 accident.
Refreshed remarks on Site origins and Acknowledgements.
Added Air Ministry citation for award of DFC to F/O Pearson
Repaired some illegible service numbers in the 72 OTU roll by cross-reference to the FEPoW rolls. Amplified notes on the Hooper brothers.
Added brief accounts of service for these men of the Squadron in late 1941 and early 1942:
Brown RF, Fraser AA, Hodges GS, Paterson CAH. Expanded Cameron LD account and revised Ellis J.
Added to 211 Squadron/72 OTU roll and related counts:
Added to RAAF Far East survivors roll and related counts:
Corney PM, Lovegrove JA
Added to RAAF Far East survivors roll, FEPoW survivor roll and related counts:
Added to Other connections
In all, this update has added six more men (Corney, Foxwell, Hodges, Lovegrove, Middleton and Paterson) to the count of RAAF members of the Squadron, bringing the total to 99: a pleasing result compared with my earliest May 2002 summary of 32 men.
Some additional notes to August 1940 Form 541 entries after comparing with Form 540 and Flying Log Books (Close, Gordon-Finlayson, Sharratt, Wright).
Added account of the service and loss on 26 March 1941 of S/Ldr RJC Nedwill AFC, killed in the course of air operations in a 112 Squadron Gladiator at Paramythia.
Added account of the RAF service of S/Ldr AT Irvine up to his loss leading the Easter Sunday raid of 1941.
19 January Victory Parade note slightly revised, with better linking for Kemp, Marsh-Collis, Ramsay, Taylor and Walters.
Copied selected existing images of Blenheim aircraft, from the collections of G Checketts, CFR Clark, G Grierson and JG Sharratt, representing markings used in Egypt and Greece from 1939 to 1941, with consequent revision and amplification of text.
Recast the lists of aircraft in Squadron service into the main operational periods: June to October 1940 in the Western Desert, November 1940 to March 1941 in Greece, and April 1941 in Greece (thus bringing the Easter Sunday 1941 losses together). Revisions and additions to text and to aircraft serial lists, from further reconciliation of original records, data sources and published accounts, with consequent minor revision to 1940 or 1941 entries, to personal pages and to PoW survivor counts in the Honour Roll summary table.
Copied or moved images from the collections of ARG Bax, EL Cooper, CFR Clark, RJ Dudman, G Grierson and added some other images courtesy of Ian Carter and Dr Ing L Moretti.
Copied an image from the collection of EL Cooper. Small revisions to February 1942 account and to Bateson and Cuttiford from further reconciliation of original records, data sources and published accounts.
Small amplification on the use of ordinance in 1940, 1941 and 1942, small correction to Mark I cockpit caption. Added Blenheim IV cockpit image of Alan Conrad’s, moved from Blenheim IV page
Revisions to Kota Gede roll, to strength table and to summary counts.
Revised 211 Squadron Officers group caption and date, arising from Pearson drafting.
Added a nice shot of Alan outside the Wadi Gazouza billets in January 1942.
Revised dates of Hind and Lysander photographs, added Source list.
Added a nice crew shot of Owen Penry (Observer), Reg Cuttiford (Pilot) and Alf Kendrick (WOp/AG) at 70 OTU Nakuru in November 1941.
Added a news item portrait from 1941 and two more sketches at Paramythia. Small revision regarding L6670.
Expanded and corrected notes on the RAF service of Messrs Hooper, Page and Kearns.
Revised order and revamp, adding (existing) 211 Squadron images of the airfield in 1940 and a good aerial photograph from 1944, thanks to the simple access and non-commercial website licensing offered by NCAP.
Revised order of Greece maps.
Revised updates notice. Re-ordered and revised web archiving remarks.
Revised remarks on search engine performance.
Site summary, Squadron movements, Squadron records, Baird, Keeping, Wingrove, Glossary, Sources
SQUADRON NEWS 15 MARCH 2016
I regret to record, a little late, that John Needham Sleight died peacefully on 13 July 2015 at the age of 92. John Sleight was a member of 211 Squadron from 1945 to 1946. With F/Sgt Ray Wood (pilot), Sgt Sleight (navigator) joined the Squadron on 18 January 1945: they were on operations together a week later. Through conversion from Beaufighter to Mosquito operations, he remained with the Squadron, probably until disbanding on 15 March 1946: Monty Walters and the late Ron Kemp knew him well. Repatriated to the UK in 1946, he returned to civilian life in Lincolnshire, retiring in 1982. He is survived by his wife, their two sons and daughter and their families.
Other Squadron news
This update marks the 70th anniversary of the Squadron’s final disbanding, at Don Muang in Thailand on 15 March 1946. New material and revisions have been chosen with that in mind.
Transcript of the Squadron’s Operations Record Book for 1946, their last year of service.
F/Sgt Norman Austin Bolitho, Navigator/W of 211 Squadron April to December 1944, later F/O NA Bolitho DFC of 177 Squadron.
This page is almost entirely based on the copy of Bolitho’s Flying Log Book for which I thank the ever-helpful staff of the Dept of Research and Information Services at the RAF Museum.
The Squadron’s Far East Prisoners of War: those who died and those who survived as captives of the Japanese from 1942 to 1945. Transcribing the entries for these rolls and reconciling them with CWGC rolls and other sources resolved some inconsistencies, added an entry to the Honour Roll, identified another RAAF member of the Squadron, and enabled a string of revisions.
Moved brief narratives for Johnston and Williams from Far East page, as better placed in the Survivors section.
P/O CK Matheson RAAF, a FEPoW survivor, turned out to be another Australian member of 211 Squadron, posted in as Cypher Officer in January 1942. He survived captivity and returned to bush life in Australia.
Replicated selected existing images of aircraft, representing markings used in the Far East in 1942 and from 1943 to 1946, with brief remarks.
Livesey: Sanderson and Minshull
In a classic compounding of interpretation error plus incomplete cross-checking on my part, incorrectly summarised Bob Livesey’s recall of meeting two Squadron men, as if belated boardings on Kota Gede. In fact, while Bob had met them ashore, both men remained at Tjilatjap to become FEPoWs. Revisions accordingly below, to the Kota Gede roll, and to the 1942 Squadron strength table.
Home, Site Summary, Honour Roll, Far East
Compiling and checking the FEPoW rolls also resulted in revisions to:
- Squadron casualty summary table
- Squadron 1942 strength table
- Kota Gede roll.
and related brief summary counts.
Added links to all casualties due to aircraft losses and, where possible, other details of loss. Adding this detail also resulted in some small useful amendments to the Roll Entries notes, to some individual accounts, and to other relevant pages.
India and Burma Casualty Roll
Added links to aircraft losses and to some individual accounts or other relevant pages.
Revised order and remarks concerning Paramythia, revised links to Maps.
Added Sumatra maps selections for war-time airfields at Koetaradja and at Palembang. Accordingly, revised comments for the Koetaradja and Lho’nga airfields on the following pages: RAAF personnel (Burrage), Blenheim IV, Far East, Sumatra and Java, Bateson, Cuttiford, Joerin, Keeping.
13 April 2016, to mark the 75th anniversary of the Easter Sunday raid of 1941 in Greece. There may also be a further small maintenance update on 31 July 2016. There are no plans for any major updates after that.
SQUADRON NEWS 31 JULY 2015
As the years pass and their age advances, the old 211s naturally focus more on the needs of family and the day to day. Inevitably, each year their numbers dwindle. From time to time, news of their doings (or their passing) comes to me directly thanks to them, to family members or, less directly and at less timely intervals, from other resources.
In time for the August 2015 PANDORA annual copy of the website, then, I now record the passing of the following old hands—here, in Final farewells and in their relevant entries:
GG Furmage, ex-RAAF Pilot of late 1941, in 2002
PC Ganderton, ex-RAFVR groundcrew of 1942, in 2011
R McKnight, ex-RAFVR groundcrew in India, in 2014
WA Maitland, ex-RAAF Pilot of 1942, in 2010
And of my old friend, dogged researcher of Sumatra, Java and the Tung Song in 1942, Hugh Campbell (ex-RANVR) in 2009.
211 Squadron members surviving in July 2015, as far as currently known:
Middle East 1941
A Conrad RAFVR Clerk, Wadi Gazouza 1941
PL Payne RAAF Pilot, Wadi Gazouza 1941
Far East 1942
P Badley RAFVR Sgt Pilot
G Dunbar RAF Fitter IIA Wadi Gazouza 1941, FEPoW Java 1942
D Golding DFC, RAFVR Observer 1942
Far East 1944—1946
IT Lawman RAFVR Pilot July 1945—March 1946
DA Spencer DFC, RAFVR Nav/W April 1944—February 1945
ME Walters RAFVR Pilot March 1945—March 1946.
Despite checking, there may be omissions or errors in these small rolls. I’d be grateful if Squadron members or their families would forgive any blemishes.
Site summary minor revision to introduction
Squadron movements added world events column; minor revisions to Squadron column
Squadron records minor revisions re transcripts
Bristol Blenheim IV, Far East, Sumatra & Java, Bateson, Cuttiford, Keeping small revisions for route and aircraft
de Havilland Mosquito minor revision re death of Capt JE England MC
Far East, Site updates revised “Winshall” account
Campbell, Farrington tentative identification of “Jock” Davies
Enquiries minor revisions.
Expected updates, 2016
Next year brings two significant anniversaries of the Squadron’s World War II history:
On 15 March, it will be 70 years since their final disbanding in 1946, at Don Muang in Thailand
On 13 April, 75 years will have passed since the terrible 1941 Easter Sunday raid from Paramythia in Greece.
The two anniversaries will be marked by relevant updates of some size, for which work is already in hand. There may also be a further small maintenance update on 31 July 2016.
There are currently no plans for any updates after that.
SQUADRON NEWS 24 JUNE 2015
Although grateful for a highly useful Australian newspaper indexing service, I’m sorry to thus note, belatedly, the 28 May 2013 death of Robert Montrose (Bob) Barclay DFC at the age of 96, in the small Western Victorian country town that had so long been his home. Bob was a cheerful and generous correspondent over a number of years, with anecdotes and photographs from his Blenheim Ops Course days with 211 Squadron at Wadi Gazouza. Farewell to a beaut bloke.
SQUADRON NEWS 8 APRIL 2015
I regret to report brief news to hand, via Blenheim Society correspondents in the United Kingdom, of the death on 1 April 2015 of Cecil N Hansford, former Fitter II (Airframe) of 211 Squadron in Greece and The Sudan. He and his family had long since settled in Canada, latterly in British Columbia. Rest in peace, Cecil.
Revisions to 4 March 2015
Hill Revised service dates
Kavanagh Added brief bio detail ex AIR 79 summary
Maps Added 1930s Palestine & Jordan map
Sites & Links Noted welcome return of MLRS Books to digital facsimile publishing.
SQUADRON NEWS 14 DECEMBER 2014
Alan Conrad, now 93, joined 211 Squadron's ground staff as a Clerk in the General Duties Branch, at Wadi Gazouza in October 1941. Alan was lucky in January 1942, remaining there in The Sudan with newly-established 72 OTU as many other ground staff were posted out with the Squadron to the Far East. At the surrender of the East Indies in early March that year, the majority of the Squadron’s ground personnel suffered the misfortune of falling captive to the Japanese.
Connie, Alan's wife of 52 years, died in January this year. It seemed fitting to mark her passing now, for Christmas 2014 will be the family’s first in her absence. I've revised and expanded my page for Alan accordingly. Rather more of his photographs have also been included, both there and on the Blenheim IV page.
This also seems a good opportunity to make, at long last, good use of many more of Cpl Alick Goddard's 52 Repair and Salvage Unit photos from The Sudan in 1940 and 1941, by adding to the Wadi Gazouza material on Alan’s page and on the Middle East page.
SQUADRON NEWS 24 AUGUST 2014
Gabriel Robb (Gabe or Jock) Bryce OBE and older brother Andrew (Andy) both served in the war-time RAF. Andy, as an NCO Observer, was to die in Greece on 211 Squadron’s Easter Sunday raid of 13 April 1941. Jock Bryce survived the war and went on to an illustrious career as a test pilot.
Having got together with the already ailing JR (Jock) Marshall DFM over the missing men of the Squadron, it thus fell to Bryce to make successive journeys to Greece from 1979, ultimately succeeding in having a number of the 16 missing men, his brother among them, identified and commemorated from among those previously honoured as unknown airmen at Phaleron War Cemetery in Athens. James Dunnet later wrote most movingly of the efforts of Marshall, Bryce, himself and others in undertaking that difficult task, in his Blenheim Over The Balkans of 2001.
GR “Jock” Bryce OBE departed this life on 7 May 2014, aged 93 years. His life and career have now been recorded in two magnificent obituaries, in The Scotsman and in The Telegraph.
I regret to report that Ronald C (Ron, Kempie) Kemp, Flight Sergeant (later Warrant Officer) Navigator to ME (Monty) Walters on Beaufighter ops with 211 Squadron over Burma in 1945, died peacefully at home on Friday 22 August 2014 aged 92.
Ron, otherwise Kempie, kindly made a very considerable contribution to the story of the Squadron in the Beaufighter and Mosquito period, with an extensive extract from his own family narrative ”Who Could Ask For Anything More”. Together he and Mont also contributed to the photographic record of those days, not only with images as such but also putting their heads together (though half a world apart) to nut out who was who in wide assortment of shots.
Although Ron hit some bad patches after the death of his wife Pam in 2008, by 2012 he was able to put on a bang-up party at home for his 90th birthday. Then earlier this year, he and Monty both endured long periods of serious illness. Both men regained somewhat better health, no doubt geeing each other up in the process. Now, after a mateship lasting 70 years, Kempie is no more. Sincere thanks to daughter Sue and to Monty Walters in Australia for passing on the news.
Minor revisions in consequence of the above:
Blenheim I, Clark, Dunnet, Final farewells, Marshall; Kemp, Walters.
31 July 2014
This modest but intricate update draws together a number of revisions and new material from existing accounts, recent research, correspondence and recent events, in time for the annual 6 August PANDORA archive copy.
Revisions and additions
Substantially refreshed, adding relevant links plus an expanded summary of the origins of the site and the extent of published accounts of the Squadron.
Far East, Sumatra & Java
Thanks, if belatedly, to the late Bob Livesey’s war-time 1942 pocket diary (in facsimile at Ch XIX of the late James Dunnet’s Blenheim Over the Balkans). Livesey’s diary and later recall together made for some interesting additions to events in Sumatra & Java in February and March 1942.
LAC R Livesey 649539 was a Flight Mechanic (Engine) who had joined the RAF from civilian life, by early 1939 from his service number. He was with 211 Squadron in Greece if not earlier, and among the old hands at Wadi Gazouza to return to 211 Squadron in late December 1941. A skilled tradesman, he was one of the few groundcrew to go with the Air Party to the Dutch East Indies in January 1942.
Bob Livesey survived the end in Java, being one of a party of airmen to entrain at Tjikumpek (modern Cikampek), about 25 miles West of Kalijati and 12 miles to the North of Poerwokerto, on the morning of 26 February 1942. They were bound for the South coast port of Tjilatjap (now Cilacap), some 200 miles away. There he went aboard Kota Gede with his FME oppo, LAC Herbert George Billington 649538 (sic!), in sufficiently good time to be able to briefly return ashore to bring back some provisions.
While ashore, he bumped into two 211 Squadron stragglers: aircrafthand George R (Sandy) Sanderson 639172 and an airman Bob later recalled as “a bloke from the Orderly Room called Winshall”, however, neither of the two were to board Kota Gede.
Taken captive at the fall of Java, Sanderson was held on Java and the Moluccas: he was one who survived the very bad conditions at Haruku and at Ambon that took so many other lives. Repatriated to the UK, Sandy Sanderson survived until September 2000.
There was no trace of any English person named Winshall, among UK Births from 1890 to 1930, Deaths since 1945, nor in the RAF among the AIR 78/173 Roll of airmen and women. However, the 72 OTU Roll of airmen posted to the re-forming Squadron in December 1941 did include “612508 LAC Minshull”, an Equipment Assistant, confirmed by the AIR 78/111 Roll of Airmen as 621508 Alan Minshull.
It seems clear that it was Alan Minshull that Bob Livesey had met with Sanderson. Cpl Minshull, a Manxman by birth, also remained on Java: sadly, he was one of the 21 dead of the Squadron among the 295 British FEPoWs who perished aboard Maros Maru in very bad conditions, as she lay at anchor for five weeks off Makassar (Ujung Padan), Sulawesi from 6 October to 23 November 1944.
Later serving with 84 Squadron, Bob Livesey was to return safely to the UK post-war: he died in March 2003.
Added entry for Cpl JH Fleming, mentioned in despatches 1942. Taken captive in hospital at the fall of Athens in April 1941 and transferred to a PoW camp, he later escaped, went into hiding and later left Greece by caique eventually to reach Egypt, thus recording the first of the Squadron’s four PoW home runs in the Mediterranean theatre (Appleyard, Campbell, Fleming, Garrad-Cole).
India and Burma
Added to entry for F/Lt Flint, Engineer Officer of the Squadron, whose own mention in despatches related to 1942 service: before his joining 211 Squadron in India.
The Middle East
Revised, amplified summary of the Wadi Gazouza period, consistent with the RAAF summary.
de Havilland Mosquito
Amplified commentary on structural problems in the Far East.
Added splendid studio portrait of Neville Oddie from June 1941 in Melbourne, recently found by Barbara Oddie among family bits and pieces. Small revisions and amplifications to text.
Added brief bio details to Commanding Officers for F/Lt Austin, briefly officer commanding in the period of re-establishment In Palestine, May 1941.
Added brief bio details for:
F/O Kenneth Fuller 404741, missing from an operation over Burma in Beaufighter LZ227 with his navigator, Sgt SC Cook RAFVR, on 6 March 1944.
W/O JW Goddard 401785, shot down by friendly fire near Indaw in Burma with his navigator W/O EM Boon RAFVR in Beaufighter LZ153 on 28 May 1944.
Sites & Links: 211 Squadron
Added link to the Ross-Shire Journal account of George Dunbar’s RAF and 211 Squadron service.
Added two new books for further reading:
Cull Blenheims Over Greece and Crete 1940—1941 and
Ognjevic Bristol Blenheim: The Yugoslav Story.
Blenheim Society & Blenheim aircraft news
The first ground run for the repaired Blenheim, of the starboard motor, took place at ARC Duxford on 23 May 2014. The aircraft is ex-Canadian Bolingbroke Mark IVT airframe 10201, now in Mark I form with Blenheim L6739 nose. On public view again on the ARC apron a week later, the aircraft was all but complete. Further engine tests were undertaken on 13 July. A major article on repair progress was published in the “August” 2014 issue of Flypast.
After some thought, I have now dispensed with the page here for the Blenheim Society as superfluous, given the variety of published sources both for the Society and for the Blenheim (Duxford) Ltd aircraft, vs the historical scope of this site and its currency.
Griffin, Joerin, Mearns, Squire Sources summary added. Other minor revisions:
Site summary, The author, Honour Roll, Squadron movements, Bristol Beaufighter, Bateson, Goodinson, Henderson, Kendrick, Do it yourself, Enquiries, Site updates, Site search.
Other news: new books
Brian Cull Blenheims Over Greece and Crete 1940—1941 (Fonthill 2014)
Comprehensive account of the Blenheim squadrons and their operations. Published in May 2014 by Fonthill Media. Copies can be ordered through Amazon, the Book Depository and direct from Fonthill.
Aleksandar Ognjevic Bristol Blenheim: The Yugoslav Story (Leadensky 2014)
Published in April 2014 by my old friend Aleks, this fine account of the JKRV service of the Blenheim from 1937 covers far more ground than that, with chapters on the RAF Blenheim squadrons in Greece and on the later use of the Yugoslav aircraft. Available direct from Leadensky Books.
29 March 2014
Marion (Maz) Abbs most kindly wrote to say that her father, Len, died peacefully on 28 March 2014. Len was a wonderful correspondent over many years, as my page for him records. As usual, I have noted his passing there, and in Final Farewells. Although we never met, Len was a good friend over all the years from the beginning of this website in 2001.
As a mark of respect for Len, I have chosen to accompany this note of his passing with the results of some very recently completed research on other 211 Squadron men. In earlier days, these results would have interested him greatly.
Bristol Blenheim I:
L1487 “The Maestro”
From National Archives UK records, added to the notes of the loss of “The Maestro” on 6 January 1941, with a summary of the escape of Sgt WOp/AG Raymond Appleyard in September 1943 while a PoW in Italy. His pilot, F/O RD Campbell, had escaped from another camp shortly before. Sgt Observer John H Beharrel survived captivity, having been transferred to Germany after the Italian Armistice. Minor revision to Bobby Campbell’s page in consequence
L8449 “The Saint”
With the help of Civil Aviation Norway staff and the most generous expertise of National Archives of Norway staff, added to the notes of the loss of “The Saint” on the Easter Sunday raid of 1941 regarding the later career and death of the sole survivor, Sqdn Leader Alan Clement Godfrey DFC, in the loss of the BEA Douglas C47-A G-AHCS on 7 August 1946 near Oslo in Norway. Small related revisions to Clark and to Site updates.
The latest news from author Brian Cull is that his new book, Blenheims Over Greece and Crete, is to be published in May 2014 by Fonthill Media. Copies can be ordered in advance through, eg, Amazon.
Blenheim Society: updated to note the passing of Graham Warner, so long the driving force behind the restoration of a Bristol Blenheim to flight.
19 December 2013
Eric (Ricky) Watts, Final farewells
Son Bill kindly wrote to let me know that his father died in the small hours of Monday 16 December, aged 91. Ricky was a Beaufighter and Mosquito pilot of the Squadron from late 1944 to 1946. Over the last four years I came to know him as a grand chap.
Revisions to 2 December 2013
Thanks to daughter Marion’s kindly replies to my August 2013 enquiry, updated with news of Len’s retirement into care, aged 93.
Noted the passing of Peter A Wright, of New Zealand, after illness bravely borne. Son-in-law of F/O RD Bobby Campbell, 211 Squadron pilot, later F/Lt and PoW escaper. Peter died at home in Hastings on 1 September 2013. His biography of Bobby Campbell is testament to his perseverance: The Elephant on My Wing was only published in 2011.
Added notes re Cpl JJA Smith DFM of 230 Squadron.
Expanded strength remarks. Added note for F/Lt JC “Pip” Cox DFC, killed on active service in Rhodesia in 1943.
1940, Blenheim I, Grierson
Corrected some aircraft serial transcription errors, also adding a little to the story of Sgt, later P/O, DI Pike.
1943, Blenheim V, India and Burma
Cross-referenced and clarified loss of F/Sgt Russ 5 November 1943.
Clarified the histories of NV364 ‘J’ and NV384 ‘M’, moving Arthur Goodinson’s own photograph of ‘M’ as well. Updated all aircraft cross-references and expanded or clarified other entries.
Amplified remarks concerning the RAF and RNoAF service of KapteinLøytnant CJAleM Stansberg, thanks to the helpful staff of the National Archives of Norway. Added two 113 Squadron aircraft images (own collection).
Corrected some aircraft serial transcription errors, ms vs Log Book.
Updated “Mark I” aircraft restoration progress and photographic record link added.
Updated details of national webarchive projects.
31 July 2013
Noted the deaths of ex-211 Squadron pilots of the India/Burma period:
S/Ldr F Morton Bruckshaw on 23 April 2010
Beaufighter pilot, F/O and Flt Lt late 1944, 1945; Mosquito pilot, S/Ldr & Flight Commander June 1945—1946. Bolton resident, long active in the textile industry both pre and post-war.
Sir Anthony Montague Browne KCMG OBE DFC on 1 April 2013
Beaufighter & Mosquito pilot, F/O late 1944, F/Lt June 1945, Rangoon Gaol photo 1945, DFC 1945. Foreign Office 1946—1952. Post-war Private Secretary to Sir Winston Churchill 1952—1965. Author of Long Sunset, memoirs of his work for WSC—includes two Chapters on his time with 211 Squadron.
W/Cdr RN Bateson DFC 1912—1986. 211 Squadron CO January to March 1942.
Later of Mosquito low-level precision strike fame, retiring as AVM and SASO Fighter Command with CB DSO & Bar DFC in 1967. It has been possible for me to compile this narrative of his RAF service with 211 Squadron and elsewhere thanks largely to the assistance of the RAF Museum London (who made copies of his Flying Log Books from 1936 to 1942 available), to David Reeve, and to the Carr family (who made so many Bateson family photographs available via Adrian Fryatt).
Sgt H Wright 1912—2001. Sgt Observer, 211 Squadron January to March 1942.
Previously of 107 Squadron. Attached to 84 Squadron, Kalidjati from February 1942: crew of Sgt DJ McKillop, pilot (FEPoW †) and Sgt J King, Observer (FEPoW survivor). Wright also survived FEPoW captivity, repatriated via Manila, Pearl Harbour and Canada, arriving Southampton per Ile de France October 1945. Thanks to son David, who so kindly copied his father’s mementoes, which made it possible to draft this page.
Home More accurate heraldic summary of the Squadron badge.
Honour Roll, Added Cpl Elwis of 7211 Servicing Echelon, who died of peritonitis after suffering appendicitis in November 1945. Small revisions to strengths and losses summaries, aircrew musterings.
Personnel rolls Small revisions to strengths and losses summaries, aircrew musterings.
Gallantry Awards minor revisions.
RAAF personnel DA Cameron loss details revised. Added to roll of RAAF aircrew training with 211 Squadron/72 OTU. Amplified/added, re-ordered other personal summaries. Revised summary counts. Added brief narratives for:
AT Bott 400823 (with JN Lynas 406200 and HJ Lamond 404212)
JA Burrage 400643 (with D McL Stewart 400545 and MD McDonald 404298)
AC Longmore 407680 (with AGM Nourse 407180 and SC Thomson 400671)
CH Pailthorpe 406091
JO Penry 400542
GM Steele 407810 (with SK Menzies 400417 and GH Gornall 402033).
Squadron movements Added shipping movements and revised dates
1940 Added further details of operations from 10 June 1940 to 5 July 1940 apparently missing from the Squadron Operations Record Book, from Flying Log Books of aircrew now to hand.
1941 Minor revisions to aircraft and crew ids.
Blenheim I expanded remarks on service entry considerations & speeds, and numerous additions and revisions to aircraft ids, losses and crews.
Blenheim IV numerous additions and revisions to aircraft ids, losses and crews.
Blenheim Armament Revised and re-illustrated 250lb vs 500lb bomb & carrier installation; revised comments on Lewis vs VGO ammunition provision; drawing upon Blenheim Aeroplane AP 1530A Vol I 1937 and 1944 editions. Amplified SBC loading of 4lb incendiary cans from Bomb Carriers Ch 3 250lb SBC (Prelim issue 1939, AL 43 issue 1944)
Beaufighter Added non-operational loss of KW381 ‘H’, Bruckshaw and Watling uninjured.
Middle East minor amendments in consequence of other revisions.
Across the Styx Revised introduction, added full-page article image.
Far East Added Kota Gede details, strength table added, numbers reconciliation, small amplification of Tung Song remarks, reconciled shipping dates. Added Sgt Brown RAF photograph (from Dudman collection)
Sumatra and Java small revisions or amplifications arising from Bateson drafting.
India and Burma added remarks re Rangoon Gaol images.
Abbs, Baird, Blake, Cole, Clutterbuck, Cooper, Dudman, Dundas, Joerin, Kendrick, Mockridge, Oddie: small revisions or amplifications arising from Bateson drafting.
Gordon-Finlayson DSO DFC, Kavanagh DFM: noted the clear link between GF’s sketch of airmen playing chess with JG Sharratt’s shot of JJ Kavanagh and co playing chess, at Paramythia.
Henderson To my dismay, I made a number of blunders last year in drafting the late Tom Henderson’s page, having missed some clear signs in existing sources, now corrected and amplified. Also added reference to his Flypast January 1984 letter and with sincere thanks to Olga, some further details of their happy married life together.
Hill small revisions arising from Bateson drafting and Sgt Observer D Golding’s narrative.
Keeping small revisions after Bateson and rechecking for DCH Paterson
Kemp added remarks re Rangoon Gaol and images.
Oblein added Sources list and another 32 OTU image, amplified comments on Jim’s liberation cutting and his march from Rangoon Gaol 25 April 1945.
Robertson J Moved an image of Robby to give his page a nice header portrait.
Sumatra and Java
Sainsbury Slightly expanded account of evacuation from Java to Ceylon, added personal notes re fishing photograph.
Walters Small revisions to tense, links and for Mont’s full names.
Wright W Small revision for Marpole, arising from Bateson narrative.
Enquiries Reordered and revised remarks on malware and on recent web archive developments.
Site summary Squadron origins recast.
Maps Added Grantham map. Added James Dunnet’s Last Flight map of the disastrous 1941 East Sunday raid. Revised Sudan/Wadi Gazouza image and comments.
Blenheim Soc Photo links updated. Blenheim rebuild progress updated.
Glossary Revised Aircrew trades remarks, prompted by some kindly remarks from Jeff Jefford.
Sources Tidied up all mentions of the UK National Archives AIR 78 Index to Airmen link. Added some Library references to Published accounts. Updated Flying Log Books list.
Do it yourself, Sites & Links Tidied up all mentions of the UK National Archives AIR 78 Index to Airmen link. Added two new personal 211 Squadron sites.
21 March 2013 revision
New hosting arrangement for the website. No change to the domain name, www.211squadron.org. All the site pages are now at that address. Example:
Readers may need to update any bookmarks to individual pages.
Audax/Hind; Farrington; Hoyes, the unknown Airman: clarified the 1938 Palestine detachment Flights arrangement.
Personnel rolls: Squadron strength details now included as an introduction, from Honour Roll.
Watts, Final Farewells: noted the passing of Nav/W W/O Harry Morrell, whose death in the Spring of 2007 has just come to my attention.
Other revisions: Author; Enquiries: Glossary, Site search, Site updates.
7 March revision
Other revisions: Home, Enquiries, Site summary, Do it yourself and this page.
5 March 2013 revisions
Dunnet, Final farewells: James died in the early hours of 3 March 2013 at the age of 93. Author of Blenheim Over the Balkans and a kindly correspondent since 2001, James will be greatly missed.
Sources added: Middle East, Glossary, DE Winton, EL Wood.
Revised: Glossary, Do it yourself, Enquiries, Site search
14 January 2013 revisions
Monty Walters celebrated his 90th birthday (24 December) with a big family party on Saturday 22 December, Ricky Watts and Ron Kemp chiming in with birthday phone calls on the 24th. Warmest best wishes to Monty, Lorraine and family.
World War I Added London Gazette citations for DFC awards to Lt Herbert Axford, Lt John F Drake and Lt Edward S Morgan; and the DFM award to Cpl Fred Wilkinson.
RJ Dudman added RAF service entry detail.
LA Bramley death c 2002 noted in Final Farewells, book Fly I Must added to Sources.
Site updates added partial details of 2002 and 2003 updates.
Site search Replaced Site search box. Subsequently replaced with general site search hints.
Easter Sunday, 13 April 1941
Arising from the recent address change, repaired relevant links throughout.
Revisions since 17 September 2012
4 December 2012 FC Joerin minor clarifications and corrections
23 October 2012 World War I photo captions from album recheck.
19 October 2012 W Wright minor corrections and re-ordering.
17 September 2012: website address change:
The 211 Squadron website pages moved to members.iinet.net.au/~clardo/. The formal domain name address www.211squadron.org remained unchanged.
A redirect placed on the old address Home page expired in January 2013 when the host ISP deleted the page.
1939 Added brief service details for Duke Delaney and George Doudney.
NH Oddie Updated Oddie family introductory material, with warmest congratulations and best wishes to John and Barbara Oddie, following John’s retirement after long and distinguished service in the RAAF.
Enquiries Amended for new address details.
31 July 2012
211 Squadron celebrations
Warmest congratulations and best wishes to Ron Kemp and Ricky Watts, ex-211 Squadron Beaufighter Navigator and Pilot respectively. Both celebrated their 90th birthdays in July, as recounted on those pages. Thanks to Monty for the tip!
Transcript of the Squadron’s Operations Record Book, from re-forming in India on 14 August to work up for low-level Beaufighter operations over Burma from January 1944.
The Far East 1942 narrative of the late Tom Henderson, 211 Squadron Corporal Armourer and Ground Gunner from 1939 to 1942. Tom’s 1984 letter is from the collection Brian Cull gave me several years back (but since returned).
A page for Les Hill, Blenheim IV pilot of the awful 1942 campaign in the Netherlands East Indies, from his 2003 letter to me.
Drafted from his RAAF personnel record, at long last an account of Alf Kendrick’s 211 Squadron and RAAF war service, following on from that of his unrelated brother in arms, George Kendrick.
Drafted from Squadron records, the story of a Beaufighter Pilot of the early 1944 period lost in June 1944 with Squadron I/O Gabriel Sheldon Bishop (Navigator F/Sgt McCormick surviving).
An original Greyhound’s story. Drafted from his RAF WOp/AGs Flying Log Book and personal memorabilia which came recently into my 211 Squadron collection thanks to the kindness of Martyn Cole, a Kiwi who flew Phantoms in the RAF.
World War I Added brief service summary, 2nd Lt RF St Oegger, from Squadron records and RAF Service record (TNA.AIR 1/1930, TNA AIR 76/379 RAF Form 60).
RAAF personnel Added a number of splendid pre-war photographs of P/O DG Boehm with 211 Squadron. With thanks to John Aistrope in Adelaide for his kindness in making scans available from his mother Marion’s album.
Far East Loss of F/Sgt Gore, Tung Song evacuee, aboard HMT Abosso while returning to the UK in late 1942. Added photo of WOp/AG Sgt AP Richardson via Brian Cull.
ARG Bax Added a delightful informal beach shot, thanks to Sally Searle.
RD Campbell Thanks to the Campbell family in NZ, added more photographs and expanded text arising from Peter Wright’s recently published account, Elephant On My Wing.
CFR Clark Updated with additional RAF service details and slightly re-ordered.
RJ Dudman Amplified and reordered text, by reference to his diary transcript in James Dunnet’s Blenheim Over the Balkans. Added, refreshed and reordered images from the set of laser photocopies supplied in 2001 by Ron via Adrian Fryatt. Captions corrected and/or amplified where appropriate.
FC Joerin Added a large formal group of Fred’s AG course at RAF Manby in April 1941, from the collection donated by Brian Cull several years ago (but since returned).
JJ Kavanagh Revised in creating an individual page for Sgt William Wright.
Burma Boys A new title for the Burma Quintet page, in placing a cheerfuly informal Chiringa photograph and news from Norman King, the Squadron’s Compass Adjuster, thanks to Elizabeth Kaegi in Canada; and an interesting yarn from Terry Seager’s 2003 letter to me.
Blenheim Society Blenheim restoration photograph updated to April 2012, from riches to choose from thanks to John Oblein.
Minor revisions and amendments
Home, Enquiries, Site summary, Honour Roll, Gallantry Awards, Personnel rolls, Squadron records, Blenheim I, Bristol Beaufighter, Operations Record Book 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, Middle East, India and Burma, Airman’s Album, Cuttiford, Fryatt, Grierson, Hoyes, Kemp, Walters, Glossary, Sources, Do it yourself, Sites & Links.
Revisions since 13 April 2011
20 March 2012
India & Burma, Kemp: Amplified details concerning the 1 May 1945 photograph of the Rangoon Gaol “Japs Gone” roof sign, taken by 211 Squadron pilot F/O Montague Browne that afternoon.
14 February 2012
World War I: corrected my poor recording of the adventures of DH9 D7369 ‘V’ and pilot Lt DF Taber RAF.
6 February 2012
Blenheim armament and EL Cooper: slip in discussing Blenheim IV chin turrets corrected.
13 January 2012
Personnel—Final farewells: Noted the passing of Donald Allen, an Electrician of the Squadron with the first Far East deployment in January 1942, with thanks to grandson Richard. Unexpectedly, Allen turned out to belong to the last 211 Squadron party evacuated aboard Tung Song from Java to Australia in 1942 but previously misrecorded, so starting with that brief note, brief consequential amends have also been made to the Far East, Joerin and Sources pages.
19 December 2011
Winton: Doug, a Mosquito-era pilot, passed away in Sydney on 31 May 2011 after a long illness. Revised his page accordingly, along with the Final Farewells roll. With sincere thanks to Lesley Winton for passing on the news.
Blenheim armament revised notes on the Course Setting Bomb Sight and the 250lb Small Bomb Container.
30 August 2011
Kearns Marked the passing of George “Curly” Kearns at the age of 93, on 29 August in Flin Flon, Manitoba. Revised Final Farewells on the Personnel rolls page accordingly.
Glossary Added tables of RAF/RAFVR war-time Branches, and of Ranks etc.
In advance of the annual PANDORA web-archive copy, small revisions to Dunnet, Haakenson, Blenheim Society and Sources.
Farrington Several corrections and revisions applied.
Personnel rolls Added an entry under Final Farewells to mark the passing of Donald Donaldson-Davidson, F/Sgt Nav/W of Chiringa days, on 26 April 2011, along with an extended note to the India and Burma Christmas 1944 menu.
13 April 2011
This is the 70th anniversary of the Squadron’s disastrous unescorted daylight raid from Paramythia in North-Western Greece.
On the afternoon of Easter Sunday, 13 April 1941, six of the Squadron’s seven serviceable Blenheims took off to attack German forces advancing South via the Monastir Gap through Florina in Northern Greece some 120 miles away to the NNE. Intercepted by Luftwaffe Me 109s, all six aircraft and 16 of the 18 aircrew were lost:
S/Ldr Irvine, 211 Squadron CO
F/Lt Buchanan DFC
F/O Thompson DFC
Wireless Operators/Air Gunners
P/O Geary DFC
Sgt Pattison DFM
W/Cdr Coote OC, Western Wing, flying to observe, as he had on other occasions
S/Ldr Cryer DFC, Deputy OC, Western Wing, flying to observe.
F/O Godfrey DFC (Pilot)
F/Sgt James (Pilot)
Both survived the immediate action, to bury those of their friends they could find and somehow, with the help of the Greeks and Australian forces, struggled back to Larissa. Evacuated from nearby Kazaklar on the following Tuesday in 208 Squadron Lysanders, they were shot down again by the Luftwaffe. James did not survive.
Godfrey survived the war and, still serving in the RAF, was seconded to BOAC from May 1945 to fly with their BEA arm in 1946. On 7 August 1946, he was flying as First Pilot to Captain LK Fennell DFC in BEA Douglas C-47A G-AHCS, with a crew of five and ten passengers. In poor weather, the aircraft flew into Mistberget mountain on approach to Oslo. Three of the cockpit crew of four were killed instantly: among them, S/Ldr Alan Clement Godfrey DFC. The fourth member later died of injuries received. The cabin steward and seven of the ten passengers were injured.
And the “lucky ones”:
Sgt Dunnet (W/Cdr Coote taking his place in F/O Herbert’s crew)
Sgt Kavanagh DFM (S/Ldr Cryer DFC taking his place in F/Lt Buchanan’s crew)
“They waited until the afternoon sun had dropped behind the mountains. The six aircraft had not returned, nor was there any message”.
TH Wisdom Wings Over Olympus p182
The work for this update has been chosen with this 70th anniversary in mind. It is also the 10th anniversary of the website.
Created in order to declutter the Home page and my father’s page, by moving my own personal background, reflections and acknowledgements. Brought together in a single page which, in a book, might be the Preface.
Transcript of the extant pages of the Operations Record Book for the year, from bitter action in Greece and Palestine, through to their stand-down from operations on withdrawal to Wadi Gazouza in the Red Sea Hills of Sudan, to form No 72 Operational Training Unit.
Sgt Observer of 211 Squadron from September 1940 to June 1941, James is author of the marvellous Blenheim Over the Balkans, these days available for sale through the Blenheim Society. James and I have been in cordial touch for a decade and this page is my gesture to him, partly in thanks for such a fine book, but also for many kind words and in this particular year, for 70 years of memories.
The Squadron’s Australian CO from late February 1939 to late July 1940, created by moving some existing material, thus simplifying the rather unwieldy RAAF page.
A brief account of the origins, aims and work of the Society, in recognising the valiant service of the men of Blenheim Squadrons and in supporting the restoration of a Blenheim to flight.
Abbs A range of revisions arising from events and other pages, added two telling photographs, moved in one of Jim Fryatt’s.
Checketts Refreshed George’s wonderful little set of photographs, plus some caption amplifications. Added Form 540 extract for the day of their arrival on the Squadron.
Clark Recast the page for my father by moving Background notes as above. Amplified The story unfolds and added a new portrait photograph. Re-ordered and amplified Easter Sunday notes. Existing Photographs completely refreshed, adding many new images and revising a number of captions.
Fryatt Refreshed the whole existing set of photographs from Jim’s cake tin collection, thanks to Adrian’s long-standing loan of the originals. Amended some captions to suit. Added a number of new images, with many more to choose from when time permits.
World War I revised several photograph captions.
Personnel rolls revised the Final farewells entries for Chig Chignall, Jimmy Riddle, Mick Dudman.COs roll entry for DG Boehm extended.
RAAF personnel Moved Judge material as above. Added a new photograph of Don Boehm as an initial sample of a fine set from the Aistrope family. Added an extended entry on the RAF and RAAF service of F/Lt John Ellis, with thanks to the Ellis family in Adelaide.
1940 Included a brief note on Form 541 practice. Added notes on June raids to the sparse Form 541 record, from the Flying Log Books of Gordon-Finlayson, Sharratt, Stack and Wright.
Airman’s Album Goodeve remarks amplified.
Farrington Small revisions to family history thanks to John Farrington’s further researches, and to one photo caption after some of my own.
Grierson small revisions arising from Easter Sunday amplifications above
Kavanagh added short summary of the service of WOp/AG Sgt William “Titch” Wright of 211 Squadron from 1937 to 1941, as a start for future work. With thanks to Digger Cole, a Kiwi and RAF Phantom man.
Marshall Amplified and refreshed introductory text, links, added Sources note.
Oblein Added several photographs and another cutting of Jim, thank to son John. Small amendment to release cutting, courtesy of an interested FEPow researcher in America.
Walters added an off-duty Chiringa group from Monty, in nutting out Ricky’s shot.
Watts added a nice off-duty group from Chiringa, from Ricky’s own collection, that caused the lads some head-scratching in working out who was who.
Maps Added Sudan 1937, Cairo 1940, and repaired Mediterranean Lands 1937.
Glossary Added to RAF Terms, RAF Forms. Amplified Tour notes. Corrected Rationing details.
Enquiries, Sources, Site updates Revised to reflect recent changes in Crown Copyright conditions under the new Open Government Licence. Assorted housekeeping eg Future work, etc.
Blenheim I; Sumatra & Java; Cooper; Dudman; Edwards; “Embros”; Hoyes; Kearns; Kendrick; Squire; Tatoi today; Site summary; Sites & Links; Glossary footer added to all pages.
Started internal links refresh: replace whole page links with internal text links where appropriate (Easter Sunday, Tung Song, Kota Gede for example); simplify personal name links.
26 January 2011 (Australia Day)
Farrington Made some small amendments regarding S/Ldr RW Bungey, thanks to Richard Bungey in South Australia.
Revised 9 February
Abbs Noted the passing of Betty Abbs, wife of Len, mother of Coral, Bettina, Marion, Julie and Mandy.
24 December 2010
Rather than wait until Australia Day (26 January 2011), this year I’ve chosen instead to publish this update on Christmas Eve 2010.
I am particularly indebted to my friend and ex-wife Margaret M Dent for casting a kindly and observant eye over a recent edition of the website, making possible a small battalion of very useful revisions.
Reminiscences of a Warrant Officer Beaufighter and Mosquito pilot. Apart from his welcome help (with Monty Walters) in recalling names and places for photographs of the Squadron, Ricky also writes a sparkling letter. Presented in this update, with his kind permission, is his July 2010 account of 211 Squadron service and after. Illustrated with photographs from a number of sources, as explained there, including three from Monty’s page.
The RAF service of the late George William Pile Blake BEM (1915—2002), who served as Corporal Electrician with 211 Squadron, from AC2 in March 1940 in the Middle East all the way to the Far East disaster of March 1942. Having survived captivity in Japanese hands, George finally retired from the RAF in 1970 a Flight Sergeant, with a string of commendations and the British Empire Medal. Compiled from his (nine-page!) RAF record of service and from correspondence and family photographs, thanks to George and Zillah’s daughter Monica, and Monty Walters.
World War I added DH9 D551 ‘X’ image (own collection), plus small revisions.
Personnel rolls marked the passing of Brian House, Beaufighter engine fitter, in January.
Bristol Blenheim IV Added Mark IV identities for May and June 1941 in Palestine, and for July to Dec 1941 at Wadi Gazouza, from the late Sgt JG Sharratt’s Flying Log Book.
Squadron markings, Blenheim I Clarified use of Squadron codes on Blenheim I aircraft.
Bristol Beaufighter Much expanded listing of aircraft identities, thanks to the Kent family for pages from the Flying Log Book of the late F/Lt AMJ Kent from December 1944 to May 1945, and from the Flying Log Book of the late S/Ldr EL Wood from July 1944 to May 1945, long held thanks to Elizabeth Kaegi.
Across the Styx: Reordered to give a slightly amplified introduction.
India and Burma added two more images of St Thomas Mount days, thanks to Doug Winton.
Barnes Ops summary 1940 added.
Clark small revisions and noted the passing of my mother, Betty Clark, in August.
Conrad added some more recent material of Alan’s.
Haakenson noted the passing of Ada Haakenson, née Trudgeon, in September.
Taylor Added full version of 33 SFTS group photograph from Monty Walters collection.
Walters Three images and related text to Watts page
Glossary Reordered, key added, notes on Operational Tours, Nicknames and Trade Groups added.
Sites & Links added a number of Blenheim Squadron sites.
Enquiries, Site summary, Honour Roll, 1938, 1940, DH Mosquito, Baird, Checketts, Clutterbuck, Cuttiford, Dudman, Sainsbury, Spooner, Do it yourself, Sources, Site updates.
31 July 2010
Transcript of the Operations Record Book for the year. From Daba in the Egyptian Western Desert, the Squadron began active operations against Italian forces in Libya on 11 June.
The aim of making these annual transcripts as web-pages (rather than, say, as attached image or spreadsheet files) is to allow for easy on-line searching of dates, names and the like.
World War I Added decoration citations for Bonnalie, Dodwell and Gairdner, with summary biographical details.
Honour Roll Revised strength summary and introduction.
Personnel Rolls Revised remarks for Red O’Mara. Extended details of Squadron CO roll for W/Cdr PE Pat Meagher DSO DFC, from London Gazette and Flight.
RAAF personnel Added Western Desert reconnaissance photo of S/Ldr Judge, courtesy of the AWM
Far East Added names to Christmas 1944 Sergeants Mess group. Several other small alterations.
Audax & Hind Added a fine Hind photograph of K6855 and K6853 thanks to Jeff Jefford. Sources list added.
Blenheim IV Added two photographs from the Middle East and Sumatra for the late GA “Jimmy” Riddle, thanks to Ian Carter.
de Havilland Mosquito Added a fine three-quarter rear shot of RF711 ‘A’, thanks to Jeff Jefford, and a side-on shot of RF819 'K' with crew, thanks to Ricky Watts.
India and Burma Added names to the formal Squadron group shot at St Thomas Mt July 1945.
Cooper Corrected caption of informal Christmas 1939 group shot with The Bish.
Dagnall Added brief service history for Bob Dagnall’s navigator, F/O Ron Stenning.
Haakenson Reordered and additional splendid photographs, and revised narrative from RCAF Record of Service, thanks to daughter Lorraine.
Kearns Added a terrific crew shot of John Hooper, Len Page and Curly Kearns with a 211 Squadron Blenheim, and a brief account of their various adventures, with thanks to AC Graham Pitchfork.
Marsh-Collis Thanks to Ricky Watts, amplified comments on Don Muang 1946 formal group.
Mearns Added image of GA Alf Waddell RCAF thanks to Bill Calver, and revised the account of the service of Alf and his crewmate, Jack Woodall.
Taylor Thanks to Ricky Watts and Monty Walters, fuller names added to Tel Aviv beach group shot.
Walters Added St Thomas Mount scene, thanks to Monty.
Sources Added entry for MO John Doc Watson’s biography Knifing the Famous, by daughter Carolyn Allen, and Graham Pitchfork’s Men Behind the Medals.
Home; Site summary, Gallantry awards, Squadron records, Bristol Blenheim I, Blenheim armament, Middle East, Campbell, Farrington, Fryatt, Kendrick, Tatoi today, Maps, Glossary, Site updates.
Revision 23 October 2010
Personnel rolls marked the passing of Sgt Armourer Harry Callison.
Sites & Links Fully refreshed links. Minor re-ordering.
Enquiries Revised wording. Moved page to better position.
1 February 2010 revise
Revised to mark the passing at age 89 of Bill Baird, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner in the 211 Squadron Blenheim crew Marshall, Clark and Baird in the Desert, Greece, Palestine and The Sudan; later of the Far East campaigns in the Dutch East Indies, thereafter in Ceylon with 11 Squadron and 22 Squadron.
Australia Day 26 January 2010
The transcript of the year’s entries in the Operations Record Book, now complete for the period 1937 to 1939 inclusive.
The narrative of a surviving Sgt WOp/AG of Greece and Palestine in 1941. Wonderful surprise to hear from George, who has been a resident of Northern Canada this past 40 years. He got in touch through his Canadian nephew Laurie Potter, whose own Dad served in the West Nova Scotia Regiment in Italy. At age 91 George still writes a sparkling letter. Like others of the Squadron, he lost a lot of personal gear getting out of Greece but still sent a couple of cracking photographs, from his later days with 11 Squadron.
World War I Added brief details to Squadron CO roll for Sir Ranald Reid KCB DSO MC & Bar 1893-1991, from Flight and London Gazette on-line archives.
Honour roll Added entry for Cpl JA Sigston 521106, an early RAF recruit, who died on active service in the UK. Added links to brief bios for W Gibson (FEPoW, died in captivity 22 January 1944, Yokohama) and Harry Taylor (Sgt Observer KIA Valona 7 December 1940).
Personnel rolls Added brief details to Squadron CO roll for W/Cdr Patrick Edward Meagher DSO DFC; revised details for S/Ldr AT Irvine. From from Flight and London Gazette on-line archives.
Blenheim I Added some losses detail.
The Far East Thanks to ex-NCO Pilot Ricky Watts, added Christmas 1944 Sergeants Mess menu. Some overdue repairs to Burma overview text.
Luing Updated for the passing of Don Lomas, ex 159 Squadron RAF & ex-FEPoW, in October 2008.
Haakenson Updated Rangoon PoW group photograph details.
Taylor Thanks to Eric and his brother Allan in Virginia, added several more of Tom’s photos from training and from India.
Walters Thanks to ex-NCO Pilot Ricky Watts, added a further 79 OTU photograph including 211 Squadron pilots, with Ricky’s brief own account of his time with the Squadron—Monty was one of his particular chums.
Sites & Links 211 Squadron sites: Revised link to Mike Grierson’s site for his father Geoff’s photograph albums. Added links and description of Far East POW Memories of Java, by Philip Ganderton, ex-211 Squadron aircraftman and FEPoW survivor of the 1942 campaign.
Home, Site summary, Abbs, Clark, Grierson, Glossary, Enquiries, Do it yourself, Sources, Site Search
21 September revise
Link repairs to Do it yourself and Enquiries.
18 August revise
400682 James Murray Thomson, Sgt WOp/AG RAAF. KAO 72 OTU 28 Nov 1941: name corrected throughout.
400671 Stuart Colin “Scotty” Thomson enlisted RAAF Oct 1940. Sgt WOp/AG to Sgt AC Longmore RAAF, pilot and Sgt A Nourse RAAF—added brief account to RAAF 72 OTU commentary.
31 July 2009
Squadron Operations Record Book transcript of the year’s entries. See also 211 Squadron Operations Record Books, below and the Squadron records page.
Thanks to the generosity of Mary Foster, who went to such trouble in sending copies of her late father’s war-time diary, photographs and other material, it has been possible to write a page for Arthur Goodinson, Corporal Flight Mechanic (Engine) of the Burma period groundcrew, including a transcript of his diary from 1943 to 1945.
JJ Kavanagh DFM
Recompiled into a single page, from existing material (Bill Baird and JG Sharratt pages), and from the Squadron Operations Record Book, the Air Ministry Bulletin and from Flight.
World War I Added brief bios of Great War COs Loraine, Travers and Lett, plus Lett’s DFC citation.
1940 Added further entries for June and July 1940 from Flying Log Books to hand, the Form 540 and Form 541 account being apparently incomplete.
Squadron markings Updated and re-ordered Squadron codes text and summary, references added.
Bristol Beaufighter No new aircrew losses, but substantially expanded for aircraft identities and accounts of losses, drawn from Cpl Goodinson’s diary, from Dennis Spencer’s published Log Book entries, and from the Squadron Operations Record Book AIR 27/1303 and Sortie Reports AIR 27/1305 to AIR 27/1310.
Far East Added 1940s Admiralty chart extract for Oosthaven, Tung Song details, brief bio and photo for the late Ray Dai Williams, ex-FEPoW.
India and Burma Added a photograph related to the late S/Ldr J “Doc” Watson’s search activities, thanks to Elizabeth Kaegi and the Einboden family in Canada.
Sumatra & Java Added Google Maps links to airfield sites.
Conrad Added a better description of Wadi Gazouza. Alan’s print of the 1941 vertical aerial photo enlarged and re-oriented North, matched to Google Maps.
Abbs Added brief biography for Fr PT Rorke SJ, ex RAF Padre and FEPoW.
Clark, Hoyes, Wingrove Egypt pre-war convoy vehicle photos amplified.
Fryatt Added Sources section, began photo refresh, added more commentary on eg 215 Squadron Harrows.
Gordon-Finlayson Added group shot of GF from Greece.
Gilmore Much amplified account of Ivan (Bill) Gilmore’s Middle East and India service from January to December 1943, thanks to some further information from Colin Burningham.
Joerin 1580 Calibration Flight photograph enlarged with revised commentary, thanks to scans from Sharon McGill.
RAAF personnnel Existing material for JWB Judge extended with an account of his unpublished ms covering mainly his ME Air Staff service from mid 1940 onwards, after his period as 211 Squadron CO—now maintained on-line by his son Anthony.
Haakenson Added a close shave on 10 April 1944. Added another photograph of Navigator F/O Ray Watson, thanks to Lorraine Haakenson, with aircrew photographs and text accordingly amplified and re-ordered. Other minor amends.
Kemp, Taylor, Walters Photos various of 211 men skylarking or otherwise off-duty, from Monty’s treasure-trove of photographs and memorabilia.
Marsh-Collis Thanks to Monty Walters, added names for a number of personnel in the last group formal shot of the Squadron at Don Muang in 1946.
Ramsay Added off-duty shots from Les’ collection, thanks once more to son Ray.
Maps Added Admiralty chart extracts: Banka Strait and Telukbetung Road.
Glossary Added Airmen’s Urdu, a selection of local terms in common use by RAF men in India etc.
Site summary, Honour Roll, Personnel rolls, Squadron records, 1937, Blenheim armament, de Havilland Mosquito, Baird, Embros, Kendrick, Oddie, Sharratt, Burma Quintet, Mearns, Oblein, Enquiries, Do it yourself, Sources, Sites & Links, Site updates, Site search.
31 March 2009: Book Review
Dennis Spencer DFC. Looking Backwards Over Burma: war-time Recollections of A RAF Beaufighter Navigator. Woodfield Publishing March 2009 ISBN 1-84683-073-7 paperback, 200 pages, 6 photos, Appendix, Bibliography £9.95+p&p.
Woodfield, who publish a range of war-time memoirs, have produced a really first-class effort with Dennis Spencer's Looking Backwards Over Burma.
This is an attractive work from end to end, with cover smart and instantly recognisable, text well laid out, six good photos beautifully reproduced, a neat and detailed Appendix of the author's operations, brief Bibliography, and virtually free of the typos so common in some other publishers offerings. The book is very reasonably priced indeed, perhaps thanks to the small number of photographs and absence of index.
Resuming operations from January 1944 as a Beaufighter strike unit in India, 211 Squadron RAF aircrew flew deep into Burma attacking Japanese communications and targets of opportunity.
In the first nine months of 1944, the Squadron lost 50 aircrew on operations and no member of the Squadron had completed a tour, then accounted as 300 operational flying hours. As the balance of power in the air swung in the Allies favour, the length of an RAF tour in the theatre was shortly afterwards reduced to 200 hours.
Dennis Spencer joined 211 Squadron at Bhatpara in April 1944 as a Sgt Nav/W and was soon joined by his pilot F/O Geoff Vardigans. They had ferried a Beaufighter from the UK to India, before being posted to the Squadron.
During their completed 200-hour tour from April to December 1944, Vardigans and Spencer flew 51 sorties together, 49 of them successfully completed. Both men were promoted (Dennis to F/Sgt and then W/O, Geoff to F/Lt), and both were subsequently awarded the DFC.
In this well-written account, sourced from his log book and squadron records brought to life with vivid recall, Dennis gives an engaging and comprehensive narrative of their RAF service together—from their final training in the UK, through the long, long ferry flight to India, with insights into RAF and Squadron life in Bengal, and gripping accounts of many operational sorties and close shaves that came their way.
Looking Backwards Over Burma adds much to the story of 211 Squadron and is a book that deserves to do well.
Reviewer: Don Clark
Book details and orders: http://www.woodfieldpublishing.co.uk/contents/en-uk/p295.html or by Amazon.
28 March revise
Personnel updated RCAF/Canadian rolls and commentary.
India and Burma loss of Lawrence and Bell on air test 17 December 1944 amplified.
23 March revise
Dennis Spencer amended to record publication of his fine book Looking Backwards Over Burma by Woodfield. Home and Sources pages amended accordingly.
JE Fryatt corrected for Cpl Lewis’ contribution to May 1942 groundcrew group photograph.
MJC Haakenson added comments on photographs of P/O Ray Watson, Observer, vs 211 Squadron MO S/Ldr John Watson.
11 March revise
Personnel rolls Final Farewells revised to mark the passing of Russ Gourd at age 86, groundcrew in the Beaufighter days of the Squadron; and of John Watson MB BChir MRCS LRCP, aged 94, 211 Squadron Medical Officer at Chiringa in 1944 and 1945.
Granted a commission as Flying Officer RAFVR (Medical Branch) from March 1940, ”Doc” Watson rose to war-substantive Flight Lieutenant in March 1941 and to Squadron Leader (temporary) in January 1944. With 211 Squadron he was particularly active in the grim task of recovering lost aircrew, where that was feasible. He was twice mentioned in despatches, in June 1944 and again in January 1946. Post-war and made FRCS, John Watson turned to plastic surgery with a particular interest in aircrew burn injuries.
Australia Day 26 January 2009
An introductory page on the nature of the RAF Operations Record Book in pre-war and war-time service.
Transcript: 211 Squadron Operations Record Book, 24 June 1937 to 31 December 1937. To be followed, in future updates, by pages for later years.
GM Kendrick RAAF
Thanks to the interest and assistance of the Kendrick, Summerville and Dodds families, a rather remarkable tale of survival against the odds, which turned out to have special bearing upon the loss the same night of Mackay, Oddie and Payne. Work on these events also helped clarify the action and losses of 7 February 1942 in Sumatra, usually mis-reported as to purpose and as 6 February. A page for George’s RAF mate and brother-in -arms, Alf Kendrick, will be added at a future date.
Gallantry awards Added Len Page’s DFM thanks to A/Cdr Graham Pitchfork. Added S/Ldr Irvine’s MID, awarded since posted missing after the Easter Sunday raid in 1941. I have chosen to follow the various London Gazette entries in choosing between differing records of his forenames.
Personnel rolls, CO roll entry for S/Ldr JWB Judge expanded, among other amends
RAAF personnel Expanded entry for the Squadron’s first CO of World War II, S/Ldr JWB Judge, minor correction to Tung Song table, corrections to RAAF Losses table.
Blenheim I Amended “The Saint” photo caption, thanks to the family of the late Jack Wainhouse, plus some other, minor, amends.
Blenheim IV Recast the 1942 summary of aircraft identities and losses, in the light of original source material about February 1942 operations including loss of Mackay, Oddie and Payne and their 1967 recovery.
The Middle East Added some new headings while giving generally better focus to the Easter Sunday 1941 operation.
Sumatra and Java Amplified remarks on 13 February 1942 report of P/O RF “Ginge” Brown RAAF
W Baird, CFR Clark Some updating of personal material, May 1941 & Feb 1942 details clarified thanks to Bill’s transcripts from his Log Book.
RN Dagnall Revised and amplified with considerably fuller details of his civilian and service life, thanks to the kindness of the Jobson family in retrieving Robert’s RAF Record of Service.
GL Hoyes Amplified accounts of Geoff’s operational flying, of Harry Leedell, of hangar-type, and of the Helwan Gardens groups.
JF Luing Took advantage of the Mearns page revamp to carry some of Jack’s photos back to his own page.
BB Mearns Much amplified the account of his RAF service, by referring to FH Burton’s splendid little book Mission to Burma—The Story of 177 Squadron.
GA Mockridge Clarified 34 vs 60 Squadron personnel and other small revisions.
NH Oddie Thanks to further official records received via Col Tigwell, ex-RAAF, together with further detail from the records of George Kendrick RAAF about the Squadron’s 13 February 1942 sweep for the Japanese invasion fleet, a fuller account of the loss of Neville, his pilot Graham Mackay and gunner Joe Payne.
HF Squire Added brief account of the loss of HMS Gloucester and other small revisions.
Maps Added Egypt & Suez map, minor text amplifications and amends.
Home, World War I, Honour Roll, Bristol Beaufighter, Across the Styx, The Far East, India & Burma, Cuttiford, Dudman, Farrington, Hansford, Joerin, Keeping, Glossary, Enquiries, Do it yourself, Sources.
11 November 2008 revise
Site Search page updated 90 years after the end of World War I.
15 October 2008 revise
Update to mark the passing of FTH White, Canadian Pilot.
30 September 2008 revise
Update to note the passing of Pam Kemp.
17 September 2008 revise
Update to note the passing of Peter Spooner.
31 July 2008
Thanks to the kind interest and generosity of the families of two Squadron members, there are two new personal pages:
Geoffrey Hoyes (WOp/Mech and WEM, Palestine and Western Desert to 1940).
George Mockridge (Blenheim IV Pilot, Far East 1942).
Personnel Rolls Final Farewells (to mark the passing of Jim Fryatt); group photos and identities, CO notes.
Bristol Beaufighter, India & Burma RM Coles’ loss and other details
Bob Campbell (Bill Winsor’s loss identified)
Bill Edwards GSM (Palestine clasp) and bio details
Jim Fryatt passed away 19 July 2008
Fred Joerin to include the connection with George Mockridge and Anthony Devenish
Jock Marshall DFM (further information on Jock’s service from the London Gazette and correspondence with son Ian).
Audax & Hind Kabul Hinds recovered: news and photographs thanks to Pat Chriswick.
Honour Roll, RAAF personnel, Gallantry Awards, Squadron movements, de Havilland Mosquito, Dudman, Farrington, Grierson, Kemp, Sainsbury, Sharratt, Walters, Glossary, Enquiries, Sources, Sites & Links.
13 April 2008
Thanks to the kind interest and generosity of two Squadron crew-mates, for this seventh anniversary of the 211 Squadron website (and the 67th anniversary of Easter Sunday 1941), I have been able to add these new personal narrative pages:
Monty Walters (Beaufighter and Mosquito pilot, Burma 1945) and
Ron Kemp (Nav/W to Monty).
These men are two most recent surviving members to report in, Mont from Queensland (thanks to the VetAffairs Noticeboard last year), and his old mate Kempie from Surrey.
Bristol Beaufighter, de Havilland Mosquito, Burma Quintet, TD Taylor, DE Winton, Site Summary.
Squadron movements, Sources.
Sources list added to Airman’s Album, LW Abbs, W Baird.
18 April revise
With additional information to hand from Squadron records and the diary of the late Cpl Arthur Goodinson, substantially revised the account of 211 Squadron Beaufighter aircraft losses. Took the opportunity to make some small revisions to pages for Dagnall, Gilmore, Kemp, Mearns, Mitchell, Walters, Wood.
Australia Day 26 January 2008
26 February 2008 revise
Revised this page to show future updates direction and Enquiries page to match. Revised Do it yourself Units remarks.
An account of 211 Squadron CO Gordon “Porpoise” Bax’s RAF service and his falling captive in action 4 September 1940, thanks to granddaughter Sally Searle and her family in Cornwall.
Revised 14 February with late additions and minor amendments.
Another Australian’s story, thanks to a lot of work on the part of son John in Adelaide.
Revised 14 February with late additions and minor amendments.
Lorraine and her mother in Alberta have kindly shared much, to make this account of Mal’s part in the 211 Squadron Burma story possible.
Personnel rolls re-ordered for separate Sources list, CO roll revisions, added Fitzpatrick RCAF service data thanks to HA Halliday, re-ordered ex-72 OTU roll commentary, and additions to Dominion aircrew rolls arising from the narrative for AL Farrington.
RAAF personnel JWB Judge entry expanded, plus revisions arising from the narrative for AL Farrington.
Squadron movements text re-ordered for separate Sources list.
Middle East expanded 72 OTU comments with material moved from Personnel Rolls.
Far East re-ordered for separate Sources list.
Blenheim armament refreshed photos, re-ordered text and separate Sources list.
Bristol Beaufighter further repairs to the account of Squadron losses.
L Abbs A Diamond Wedding anniversary! Congratulations, Len and Betty. Also added a photograph from the Greece period.
RD Campbell Small revision to Squadron group identities and minor re-arrangement of layout.
CFR Clark Small clarification re Hooper brothers
EF Cole added more trades details, re ground gunner party under Tom Fisher.
WH Edwards RAAF text tidied up, and Farrington connection.
TWS Fisher added more trades details, re ground gunner party & Ted Cole.
G Grierson Collier’s crash text tidied up.
C Hansford More photographs, thanks to Cecil.
J Robertson Clarified text and order a little.
M Sainsbury Added a new photograph thanks to Roger and clarified another caption.
Glossary Added piece on currency, pay and prices
Do it yourself Reworked, re-ordered, and revised the personal records hints.
Sources Reworked and amplified.
Home, Tatoi today, Maps, Enquiries, Sites & Links.
27 October 2007 revisions
Added George Blake to Final Farewells (Personnel rolls) and Far East PoW survivors (Far East).
Sources Revised and re-ordered.
Sites & links New links added and some revisions.
8 October 2007 Revisions
Re-ordering of text, summary and source notes affecting Site summary; World War I; Honour Roll; RAAF personnel, CFR Clark; Enquiries; Sources.
EF Cole Brief revision of family details.
Sites & links New links added.
31 August 2007
A selection from Middle East maps of World War II origin.
Bristol Beaufighter This page seems to have been trampled more than once in the PC adventures of the past six months. Added some missing loss details.
31 July 2007
[By this date, the site had grown to such a size that binding a complete print had become a problem. It was also the last edition to be given any circulation at all in print, postage cost having reached an impractical level.]
The Usage and abbreviations and Measurement units sections from the Site Summary page, extended with sections for RAF Terms (from the 1943 edition of The King’s Regulations and Air Council Instructions); and for RAF Slang from the 1943 edition of The ABC of the RAF.
World War I Much more complete roll of casualties and of aircraft collated from various sources.
Personnel Rolls Added M Haakenson and JG Sharratt to Final Farewells and extended the list back to 2001.
Bristol Beaufighter Extended the listing of aircraft losses, primarily from the Operations Record Book, where the exact identity of a number of aircraft recorded only by individual letter remains unclear. In time it will be possible to firmly identify aircraft and aircrew losses from the Squadron OpReps - the sortie reports held in TNA AIR 27/1304 to AIR 27/1313. The mass of detail, of sometimes indifferent image quality, will take some considerable time to examine.
Middle East Added Short C Class material thanks to Brian Cassidy.
Sumatra and Java Added material on PI, P2 and Kalidjati airfields.
WH Edwards Added more complete details of Bill’s later RAF career and post-war life, thanks to grandson Ross.
CN Hansford With thanks to Cecil, whose fruitful rummages in his memorabilia have made further photographs available to show here.
JG Sharratt Some additional material and revised to recognise the passing of John Gerard Sharratt, who died on Tuesday 27 March 2007 aged 90.
TD Taylor Added photographs and amplified account of the Webster brothers, both lost on WWII service, thanks to Tom Taylor’s boy, Eric.
Minor housekeeping, amplifications, consequential amends and so on
Home, Site summary, Honour Roll, Gallantry awards, Personnel rolls, RAAF personnel, Squadron markings, Blenheim armament, de Havilland Mosquito, The Far East, India & Burma, LW Abbs, W Baird, A Carter, CFR Clark, KCVD Dundas DFC, JR Gordon-Finlayson, G Manderson DFC, BB Mearns, Enquiries, Do it yourself, Sources, Sites & links, Site search
Australia Day 26 January 2007
Acting CO in Burma late in 1944, lost on operations in January 1945. I am indebted to the McCubbin and Jobson families for access to much treasured memorabilia in making this page.
Squadron MO in Greece and senior officer on 14 April 1941. Derived from Squadron and Gazette records.
“JG the AG”, with 211 from the Desert to Wadi Gazouza. Although John is too frail to write these days, the great kindness of his wife Pat (his partner this past 64 years and a wonderful correspondent), has made it a pleasure to compile this page from a rich collection of treasures. Sadly, JG passed away soon after this page made it on-line.
Site search moved the Google search from Enquiries to its own separate page
World War I added material on W/Cdr Norrie, his WWI album, and 211 (Newbury) Squadron ATC.
Honour Roll added entries for Paddy Kavanagh DFM and the RAAF trio lost at Wadi Gazouza late in 1941, Sgts Skinner, Dunstone and Thomson.
Gallantry awards Ribbon illustrations added.
RAAF personnel added Sgts Skinner, Dunstone and Thomson.
W Baird amplified Bill’s later RAF career and clarified 72 OTU photos.
ART Barnes an account of Barnes’ well-known nickname, “Buckshot”, with thanks to Patricia Molloy for access to March of the Gladiators, the memoirs of her father S/Ldr JF Fraser DFC.
RD Campbell My thanks to Paul Campbell, Bob’s son, who sought out some terrific training shots.
G Checketts Expanded the story of Check’s 211 days from his Log Book and published writings.
KCVD Dundas DFC Revised to recognise the passing of a friend in a far-off land: Ken’s sister Daphne RL Hodgins 1923-2006, adventurous spirit and lively correspondent this past 10 years.
Enquiries Simplified and reordered, with the Google site-search moved to its own page.
Do it yourself Simplified and reordered
A range of small amplifications, clarifications, and consequential amendments arising out of new material or closer checking of existing material:
All pages have new footers with simpler layout and page links.
31 July 2006: third update for 2006
None this month.
Personnel rolls the major addition this month comes in the form of a roll of the Squadron’s groundcrew departing Wadi Gazouza in December 1941 for Helwan, to work up to operational readiness and deployment in the Far East.
RD Campbell added photos from Bob Campbell’s collection, thanks to son-in-law Peter Wright.
Blenheim I added photos of Blenheims in the desert and Greece, thanks to Ian Carter.
World War I, RAAF personnel, Across the Styx, Blenheim IV, G Davies, BB Mearns: various additions, amplifications or refreshing of photographs.
Site updates, Sources, Sites and links: minor updates.
Home, Site summary, Honour Roll, Gallantry Awards, Audax & Hind, Tatoi today, Enquiries, Do it yourself: minor text revisions.
15 March 2006
For the 60th anniversary of the final disbanding of No 211 Squadron RAF at Don Muang in Thailand on 15 March 1946, new pages were particularly chosen to mark the occasion: a summary of the very beginnings of the Squadron, two accounts of operations in Greece, and two of Beaufighter and Mosquito operations in the Far East—bringing the story full circle.
Ave atque Vale, CCXI!
211 Squadron in World War I
Based on the official record in the UK National Archives, I have been able to add life to the account with contemporary photos from the album of the late W/Cdr J Norrie, who presented his collection to No 211 (Newbury) Squadron Air Training Corps, the last modern echo of a valiant Squadron, in the 1960s. Thanks to the kind efforts of Civilian Instructor Alex Pye, who made the collection available for use here.
Return Trip Across The Styx
By good fortune, another gem retrieved from the mists of the past just in time to add lustre to the record of their time in Greece: Tommy Wisdom’s Parade Middle East Weekly 1941 article, profusely illustrated with photographs fresh and familiar. This is surely the original story that my father so long remembered.
Thanks to Errol Martyn, Colin Hanson, and son-in-law Peter Wright, an account of Bobby Campbell’s time with 211 Squadron in the Middle East, and his escape from captivity in Italy in 1943.
DA Spencer DFC
Two sparkling yarns from Dennis Spencer, who (with his pilot, the late Geoff Vardigans DFC) completed a tour of 211 Squadron Beaufighter operations in December 1944. Presented with simple generosity by Dennis, from his draft memoirs, Looking Backwards Over Burma.
With thanks to son Eric and his mother, the story of a young Scot who signed up early in the war and stuck at it through long pilot training to reach 211 Squadron in India in February 1945. In the later period of Beaufighter operations and the conversion to the less-fortunate Mosquito, Tom Taylor and his Nav/W Vic Broome saw the Squadron through to the end. Sourced from Tom’s Log Book, RAF record, and photographs, kindly made available by the Taylor family.
Added details of his RAF service and loss on 8 April 1945, added some names to the ‘A’ Flight group photograph.
Added loss of Lockyer, McCormick, & Bishop June 1944, and additional details of the loss of Fitzpatrick and Lock in February 1945, thanks to Hugh Halliday and Dennis Spencer. Record of aircraft available much amplified thanks to the Log Books of TD Taylor and DA Spencer.
de Havilland Mosquito
Record of aircraft available much amplified thanks to the Log Books of TD Taylor and DA Spencer.
Home Simplified copyright statement.
Honour Roll and Clark Added the last resting place of Bennett, Tunstall and France, thanks to Ian Carter and Aleks Ognjevic.
Blenheim I Minor amplification re armament
India and Burma VCP remarks thank to Dennis Spencer
Hansford Added photo of Cecil as a young airman.
Gordon-Finlayson Added photo of The Bish bearing gifts, newly returned in triumph from Corfu.
Checketts Small amplification of Blenheim Delivery Flight details.
Tatoi today Minor corrections and reordering.
Summary Added new pages as required.
Sources Minor updates.
Australia Day 26 January 2006
Compiled from scant surviving records and Wisdom’s remarks, a page for “Buckshot”, the Australian MT officer of the Middle East and Greece.
Thanks to son Phil in Brazil, the service of a 211 Squadron navigator from January 1944 to April 1945, tour expired.
“Doc” Squire, RAFMO to the Squadron from the Desert to Greece. His sons John and David kindly lent freely from their late father’s wonderful negative collection, making a fine addition to the site as illustrations to my narrative of his service compiled from official records and his own Middle East Scrapbook.
From Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Doug contacted me with photos and Log Book details of his service with the Squadron late in the Burma period. As one of the last group of aircrew to join the Squadron, Doug’s photos have added very greatly to the known collection of 211 Squadron Mosquitoes.
Aircraftman Wingrove joined the RAF around 1937 to be posted to 211 Squadron in the Middle East as a Wireless Operator in November 1938. His rich photograph album, covering the period from 1938 to August 1940, came to my hands almost by accident.
Thanks largely to assistance from another researcher in the field, added a considerable number of citations and other details.
Added Rolls of Canadian & RCAF personnel, of New Zealand and RNZAF personnel (thanks to assistance from Errol Martyn in New Zealand) and added detail to the roll of COs.
Added S/Ldr JWB Judge, CO in the Desert and early War days. Further refinement of the RAAF personnel at Wadi Gazouza. With this update, the count of RAAF and other Australian personnel of 211 Squadron stands at 81.
Greatly refined the losses account which may now be close to complete [sic!].
de Havilland Mosquito
Greatly refined the losses account which may now be close to complete. Illustrated with Doug Winton’s wonderful photos.
Burma Quintet (Dickinson)
Thanks to a long held aside letter from Bill, added some further details of his service one of only 6 crews of the original 24 surviving to complete their tours.
The addition of the pages for Squire and Wingrove resulted in revisions to some comments and photos. As these new pages have firmly restored the balance of the site in recording the Middle East work of the Squadron, this seemed a good moment to recast the account of my father’s service on a single page. It’s big.
Thanks to son Ray in Gravesend, added some more illustration and discussion of Les’ service, with more to come.
Thanks once more to Brian Cull, who unearthed some further images and career details, now incorporated in my account.
Thanks to Sandeha Lynch, added wonderful images from his father’s collection showing the 216 Squadron Valentia flight to Nairobi in January 1939.
Added discussion of the geography of Menidi (Tatoi), and of Paramythia and the Northern border of Greece in 1941 from official maps of the day. Refreshed several of the photographs.
Mostly clarification of existing material, addition of small additional details, or consequential amendments from other work Home, Summary, Honour Roll, Far East, India & Burma, LW Abbs, G Checketts, EL Cooper, WH Edwards DFC, JE Fryatt, JB Keeping, G Grierson, GY Manderson DFC, BB Mearns, M Sainsbury, Enquiries, Do it yourself, Sources.
31 July 2005
Having grown at about 4MB per year since its launch in 2001, webspace was starting to become tight again after recent additions. With this update, the site moved to a local internet service provider with a sound history and good facilities with a personal webspace allowance that imposed no practical limit on future growth of the site in my hands.
The new service meant that it is possible to illustrate the story of the Squadron with very many more photographs, as can be seen from this month’s updates where pages old and new are more lavishly illustrated than was practical before. With the kind permission of the RAAF Association (WA) Aviation Heritage Museum and the Australian War Memorial, among the additions are a number of 211 Squadron images from their collections.
I have also given the site a much more permanent address: www.211squadron.org. For the technically minded, this domain name was parked and used as a pointer to the actual ISP provided personal space.
Spurred on by Peter Spooner’s roll of Squadron decorations from the Burma period, I have been able to compile this roll of World War II awards for gallantry made to Squadron members, sourced from the Squadron Operations Record Book, the London Gazette, the Australian War Memorial and published DFM and DFC sources.
Adrian Fryatt got in touch with Geoff Cuttiford, who kindly went through the family treasures to make his father’s Log Book and a collection of great photographs available to me. With these and the aid of his RAAF service record I have been able to add this page for another RAAF member of the Squadron.
Several months back, Brian Cull contacted me about 211 Squadron and its efforts in the first Far East campaign. Brian, as co-author of the Bloody Shambles books that record those events, had long ago acquired the Log Book of Fred Joerin, the Swiss member of the Squadron. It is a unique record, in which Joerin kept the formal record of his service while adding photographs and cuttings throughout his service. Thanks to that record, since returned, and aided by the London Gazette and correspondence from other sources, it was possible to compile this page.
Regular readers will recall that Alan Stack first spotted his father Bill in the group photograph with Hugh Clutterbuck in Greece. Since then, I found that Bill was also shown in one of my father’s photographs, while Alan has kindly put together copies of his Dad’s Log Book and photographs. Here at last is the assembled result. Bill amassed 74 operations in the Middle East.
Expanded narrative of the Squadron’s Blenheim conversion, revisions and additions to aircraft identities, added new photographs thanks to the RAAFA Aviation Heritage Museum and the Bristol Aeroplane Co’s Blenheim handbook, expanded the 211 Squadron/72 OTU discussion.
Revisions to aircraft identities, amplified Far East aircraft remarks. Added Blenheim V text.
Added photographs (thanks to the kind permission of the Australian War Memorial), added introductory text, specifications, and 1943 aircraft identities.
Added photograph, introductory text, specifications and extended 1945 aircraft identities.
Added photo of S/L PN Stacey DFC with 211 Squadron armourers, with the kind permission of the Australian War Memorial. Added ‘C’ Flight photo at Helwan 1938 thanks to the RAAF Association Aviation Heritage Museum. Added Barnes, Barrett, Cuttiford, Hartnell, GM Kendrick, MacLennan, White to the RAAF thanks to Les Payne and Geoff Cuttiford; and expanded the 211 Squadron/72 OTU discussion. With this update, the roll of Australian airmen of 211 Squadron now stands at no less than 76, compared with the 34 known just three years ago.
Completed the unknown airman’s album. A magnificent collection, thanks to Guy Black’s remarkable find and kindness in sharing it.
Re-ordered the presentation slightly, while adding the greater bulk of Geoff’s fine photographs, thanks to son Mike’s skilful scanning. Consequential amends to Airman’s album, Cooper, Dudman, Fryatt, Sainsbury.
Home added reference to HF Squire’s Middle East Scrapbook, re-ordering text as a result. Redrafted the Acknowledgements and Copyright sections.
Personnel Rolls added Squadron group photos from 1938. Amplified text.
Audax and Hind corrected omissions and transcription errors in Hind identities.
Blenheim armament re-ordered the narrative with minor clarifications.
The Far East Added KPM van der Hagen commentary to Bill Maitland’s Oosthaven photograph thanks to Dick Schouten in Holland.
The Far East, India and Burma, and Peter Spooner added a number of the fine photographs from Peter’s collection.
Bill Baird added notes on Paddy Kavanagh’s DFM and death
Gordon-Finlayson DSO DFC minor revisions to text.
Tatoi today added modern Paramythia photographs thanks to Kyprianos Biris of Athens, amending a caption of CFR Clark’s collection in the process.
Enquiries and Site updates these pages are more like back-matter than front-matter, therefore moved to the rear of the site to aid the flow of the narrative.
Sources added some very useful additional references, including Middle East Scrapbook, the war memoirs of S/Ldr HF Squire, Squadron MO in the Desert and Greece..
Sites and links moved Java Index FE PoW links from the Far East page.
Additions and corrections to 20 October 2005
George passed away peacefully on 17 October 2005 aged 86. Noted his passing on his personal page and in the Final Farewells of the Personnel rolls page. With thanks and best wishes to son-in-law Chris Millard and the Checketts family.
The Sphere corrected photo caption, 211 Squadron aircrew.
de Havilland Mosquito corrected account of RF791 and RF588, regarding the loss of F/O Dunnett.
CFR Clark fixed an unnoticed technical hitch with several photos.
Additions and corrections to 20 September 2005
Blenheim IV speeds clarification. Nov 43 Loss of Russ in Blenheim V AZ887 added to Blenhem V notes.
de Havilland Mosquito additions to aircraft identitities and losses, and a fine Mosquito photo thanks to Doug Winton.
India & Burma March 1944 Loss of Woodall and Waddell added, with Woodall photo thanks to Bill Calver in Canada.
Squadron markings, Airman’s Album, CFR Clark, G Grierson.
30 April 2005
Squadron summary Abbreviations section—added note on the BCAUR site’s Service abbreviations and terms pages.
Personnel rolls Added chronological roll of Squadron COs from Air Force Lists, Operations Record Book and individual Log Books. Now includes the Final Farewells roll.
Audax & Hind small revision to design notes and Royal Afghan Air Force Hind notes.
Blenheim I conversion dates finally resolved, by reference to Operations Record Book.
Blenheim armament added Mark IV turret shot thanks to Les Payne.
The Sphere... at last replaced poor photocopied images with clean scans, having unearthed some vintage copies of The Sphere and with thanks to Appley Hoare.
RAAF personnel added details for Ted Tyzack & Lindsay “Charger” Cameron with thanks to Les Payne, together with personal notes and photographs for him.
Gordon-Finlayson small revisions to posting date and aircrew background, added DFC (Greece).
Oddie refreshed bookplate photograph.
Wood added further detailed notes to vehicle photographs.
Sources Added additional official sources and numerous other references.
Sites & Links Rechecked and refreshed where necessary.
31 March 2005
Not such a large update this time, however, thanks to the generosity of the families concerned, there are two new pages this month.
1175158 LAC EF “Ted” Cole
The RAF service of an Essex farm lad, which I’ve been able to write up from his Form 543A service record and other little treasures thanks to his niece Alison Barton and her mother. Alison had been researching Ted’s war service and death in captivity after falling PoW in Java, leading her to the 211 Squadron connection.
1072498 F/Sgt IAW “Bill” Gilmore
Kate Masheder was going through old family photos when she noticed that her Uncle Bill Gilmore, lost over Burma in 1944, had served in 211 Squadron. With the aid of his service record, his letters and photographs, I’ve been able to recount something of his part in the 211 Squadron story.
Amplified background notes and added another photograph from the Edwards family collection. Reorganised the whole text into chronological order, for clarity.
Home added note on qualifications.
Squadron summary minor revision for new personal pages
Audax & Hind minor text revisions to notes on the Audax in 211 Squadron service.
Personnel rolls Jan 38 added ground crew; Jan 39 added Burnett.
RAAF personnel Corrected Kendrick, Manton and O’Brien. Added photo of Manton and O’Brien, thanks to the Woodward family.
Gordon-Finlayson added last raid date.
Sources brought up to date.
2 April postscript
Revised IAW Gilmore’s page after rethinking letter and posting issues and ORB entries.
28 February 2005
This has been a major update. Apart from bringing much of the existing backlog of material to its proper place in the Squadron story, the new Squadron Honour Roll and the start of a set of Squadron Personnel Rolls over time brought with them an opportunity to reorganise a little. The Squadron Summary page, having grown rather unwieldy in scope, returns to its intended use as a site map by giving up some of its more detailed content to several new pages. The update also includes some remarkable new material.
The start of a set of nominal rolls of Squadron personnel over time, using the Air Force List as a starting point for the period 1937 to 1939. Further rolls will be added, eg for Australian and RAAF personnel, Canadian & RCAF personnel, and for New Zealand and RNZAF personnel.
Extracted from the Squadron summary page to stand on its own
Extracted from the Squadron summary page to stand on its own, with added Beaufighter aircraft allocations.
de Havilland Mosquito
Extracted from the Squadron summary page to stand on its own.
An airman’s album
Thanks to a remarkable find by Guy Black of Aero Vintage Ltd and his kindness in sharing it, this new page provides a wonderful view of the Squadron’s pre-war days at home and in the Middle East, adding a great deal to the photographic record.
Reorganised text, added Personnel losses summary from the Squadron Summary page, and some minor revisions to roll entries.
Audax and Hind
Amplified discussion of Hinds in 211 Squadron service and passed to the Royal Afghan Air Force, added photos of Hawker Hinds L7175 and L7181 in the UK 1938 thanks to Guy Black.
Added two terrific Blenheim I photographs at Wadi Gazouza, thanks to Les Payne in Queensland.
Much enlarged discussion of the 1942 Sea Party voyage aboard HMT Yoma and Operation Stepsister, and of the Java evacuation, with added photographs, in part thanks to Jack Woodward (late of 27 Squadron) and his son Charlie.
Corrected, re-illustrated and revised discussion of the first four Australians to grace the Squadron (Boehm, Cameron, Edwards and Farrington).
Abbs added Len’s photograph of Revett, Pettit and Fryatt aboard Yoma thanks to Adrian and Jim Fryatt, and two shots of 72 OTU mates thanks to Len himself.
Added Len Cooper’s own narrative of the 1942 voyage aboard Yoma to the Far East and events in Sumatra and Java.
Added more details of RAF service and refreshed several photographs of armourers at work thanks to Adrian and Jim Fryatt.
Gordon-Finlayson DSO DFC
Greatly expanded service narrative from Air Force Lists, GF’s 1938 to 1940 Log Book entries and from news cuttings. Added fresh pen and wash sketches from an unexpected and remarkable source.
Added several photographs of ELW in East Africa, held aside while seeking more information, now incorporated with other revisions to photograph commentary, with thanks to Elizabeth Kaegi and the Wood family.
Squadron summary revised to take into account recent page additions, and simplified as a site summary by giving the Movements, Beaufighter and Mosquito sections their own pages.
Edwards added cleaner, larger photos of Bill (Grantham Trio 1938 and Helwan 1938) thanks to Mike Grierson, with slightly revised commentary.
Embros Gladiator N5916 caption expanded.
Grierson corrected birthplace.
Do it yourself added Canadian and New Zealand references.
Sites & Links corrected 30 Squadron Association reference.
Australia Day 26 January 2005
This update brings some long-awaited major additions, and a number of significant revisions. There is still much material to deal with, including a remarkable find of 211 Squadron Hind photographs from Guy Black of Aero Vintage.
The Squadron’s war dead of World War II commemorated, from a comparison of records supplied by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission with those of the Australian War Memorial, with L&P Stubbs Unsung Heroes of the RAF The Far East Prisoners of War, the Squadron Operations Record Book, and the existing rolls already on site.
S/L JR Gordon-Finlayson DSO DFC
At long last, a page for the redoubtable GF, “The Bish”, 211 Squadron CO in the Western Desert and Greece. Sourced from published records, his Flying Log Book, and with some additional background from Chris Gordon-Finlayson in South Africa.
Home and Squadron summary revised to make a clearer introduction.
Squadron summary, Blenheim I and Far East clarified the disposition of Blenheim units at the start of the Far East campaign. Added a 211 Squadron Losses summary table.
Blenheim I, Blenheim IV Blenheim I K7096 photograph added thanks to Jim Wyse. Revised details of 72 OTU & Far East aircraft.
Far East added nominal roll of all known PoW fatalities.
India and Burma revisions to nominal roll personal details arising from Honour Roll compilation.
G Davies thanks to Nigel Williams and Gerald’s Service records, with Gordon-Finlayon’s Log Book and the Squadron ORB, it has now been possible to very much enlarge this page.
G Grierson the end of an era—aged 90, Lorna Grierson passed way on 15 December 2004.
C Hansford revised post-war remarks thanks to recent reminiscences from Cecil.
JS Robertson slightly expanded text and better quality photographs for Stuart.
Sites and Links added a number of related RAF Squadron links.
21 December 2004 revise
Minor revisions to Home, Enquiries and Do it yourself.
17 December 2004 revise
EL Cooper added fuller description of 112 Squadron Gladiator K7977.
J Robertson added fuller identification of 177 Squadron Beaufighter Y-Yoke NV127.
Sites and Links added, eg, 45 Squadron and 112 Squadron links.
26 November 2004
KCVD Dundas DFC
Page for Ken “Nem” Dundas, with thanks to Rankin and Daphne (née Dundas) Hodgins and their wonderful little Life of Kenelm CVD Dundas.
CFR Clark, LW Abbs, JE Fryatt minor amplifications arising from research on KCVD Dundas DFC.
Home; Enquiries updated PANDORA links. Google search bar now on Enquiries page only.
Sites & Links new links added.
18 November 2004 revise
Sites & Links links checked and refreshed where necessary.
17 November 2004 revise
EL Wood added two photographs and minor amends to the 9 (Coastal) OTU Crosby-on-Eden photo caption.
11 November 2004 revise
EL Cooper corrected history of Hawker Hind K6734.
1 November 2004 revise
Thanks to son Ian, added John Chamberlain to Final farewells. Corporal John “Neville” Chamberlain died earlier in October, in York District Hospital. He served with 211 Squadron from 1939 to 1941 in North Africa and Greece.
28 October 2004 revise
Added Google search facility to Home and Enquiries pages
Minors amendments to Jack Luing’s page
5 August 2004
With thanks to the family of Fred Wood in England and Elizabeth Kaegi in Canada, I’ve been able to construct this narrative from his Log Book and photographs, with help from the 211 Squadron Operations Record Book.
31 July 2004
Thanks to the kindness of contributors old and new, a very large amount of material has come to hand, rich with new parts of existing stories and with altogether fresh material.
This has been a very testing update, and I hope readers will not be too diappointed that I need further time to complete material on AL Farrington, KCVD Dundas DFC, 211 Squadron nominal rolls and 211 Squadron aircraft markings.
Rather than delay the site update, I proceeded with the 31 July release and will continue to add additional material over coming weeks.
New pages and major revisions
Thanks to son Dave, the late Alan Carter’s days with the Squadron in Burma
Narrative and photographs of Jack, thanks to his brother Peter Luing
Letter about PoW conditions and death of Jack Luing, thanks to Peter and Tessa Luing
Re-ordered. Expanded Squadron summary. Beaufighter and Mosquito serials
Separated from above, re-ordered, additional photographs. Incomplete
India & Burma
Operations and 211 Squadron personnel photos thanks to Peter Spooner
Added 5 RAAF personnel and photographs.
Other amplifications, amendments consequent on larger revisions, or photograph additions, improvements or caption amplifications
Home Refreshed and reordered
Hawker Audax & Hind Serials revised. Afghan and preserved 211 aircraft
Blenheim I Serials revised and expanded
Blenheim IV Mark IV engine discussion from above. Serials revised and expanded, Z7643 photos added
Blenheim armament Mark I twin Brownings noted
The Far East Added Oosthaven photos thanks to Bill Maitland and David Vincent
CFR Clark Revised summary, added discussion of JKRV aircraft at Paramythia thanks to Aleksandar Ognjevic
Bill Baird Thanks again to Bob Barclay, additional identification of 72 OTU crews
RJ Dudman JKRV photo notes
WH Edwards and Geoff Grierson annotations and identification of Squadron personnel, Grantham 1938
JB Keeping RAAF personnel photo identification thanks to David Vincent and Gar Gaston
Mike Sainsbury Expanded Valentia and Hangar photo captions
Burma Quintet, Des Marsh-Collis Some corrections and Beaufighter M Mother identified
Peter Spooner Added Mosquito V-Victor photograph
Sources Added numerous entries.
27 July 2003
Thanks to Bill Baird, Bob Barclay, Michael Bell, John Farrington, Amanda Johnston, Elizabeth Kaegi, Ken Krag, Mike Grierson, John Robertson and Aidan Simons, this July 2003 update includes a number of refinements to existing material.
I’ve also taken the opportunity to at last incorporate a number of outstanding corrections to my father’s account of operations in Greece, including the print edition Errata and Addendum, clarification and correction of the Easter Sunday account (largely from Jim Dunnet’s work in Blenheim Over the Balkans), and some cross-checking against Graham Warner’s The Bristol Blenheim—A Complete History.
On 30 September, my father CFR Clark died after a long illness. A limited number of bound prints of the July 2003 edition were circulated, with a brief memorial slip.
Major revisions and additions
Squadron summary revised the Squadron unit codes section and moved it here, with refreshed AO code discussion, Hind and Blenheim photos thanks to Mike Grierson.
Audax & Hind reordered. Added aircraft serial numbers section (using Geoff Grierson’s material).
Blenheim I aircraft serial numbers section added, from log books and 211 ORB.
Blenheim IV aircraft serial numbers section added, from log books and 211 ORB.
Middle East Added Helwan photo from the Grierson collection.
Far East recovered and added Java PoW Index links. As an envoi to the PoW section, added Eric Johnston’s brief entry and photograph, thanks to Amanda Johnston.
RAAF personnel: amplified entry for Allan Farrington thanks to son John (see also Bill Edwards page below). Added further RAAF personnel to 72 OTU and Burma campaign rolls to arrive at a count of 64 confirmed Australian personnel.
J Marshall DFM Amplified log book note thanks to Bill Baird.
Part I Errata and Addendum taken into the following Sections with a number of other amplifications, with consequential amendments and clarifications.
Part II: crew annotations and cross-references.
Part III: Easter Sunday account clarified plus amplifications as above.
Part IV: various consequential amendments and clarifications as above.
Part V: Extended and revised a number of photograph captions.
W Baird Thanks to Bob Barclay, 72 OTU photo of 6 RAAF WOp/AGs identified.
Hugh Clutterbuck: Thanks to Mike Bell, identified photo of Clutterbuck and his crew.
WH Edwards Added 1938 Grantham group enlargement, showing Edwards, Farrington and another unidentified but apparently RAAF Pilot Officer.
Des Marsh-Collis: Added Beaufighter serial numbers from 211 ORB thanks to Elizabeth Kaegi.
Sources: added a number of key recent acquisitions.
Sites and Links: ruthlessly trimmed text to save space for the above material.
Minor revisions: Home page; Enquiries; Blenheim armament; G Grierson; NH Oddie; Burma quintet; J Robertson; Do it yourself; Previous page and Next page links added, at the foot of each page.
3 August 2002
[This edition of the website was circulated to members of the old 211 Squadron Survivors Association on CD-R for Christmas 2002]
JR Marshall DFM
Completing the story of three old crewmates, the start of a page for John Roy Marshall, universally known as Jock - on-line just in time for the August Pandora archive update.
28 July 2002
More than a bald site map, this new section offers a summary of the Squadron’s equipment, movements and operations, with links to the principal pages to show the content of the site in context.
New material on bombsights and bombs, together with the existing guns and gunnery discussion
Middle East Used the movement dates table and other material to form the basis of the Squadron summary, rendering this section (and the site as a whole) rather more coherent.
Sites and Links New links added.
Blenheim IV Moved the guns section to the new Blenheim armament page.
Blenheim I (clarify ME and FE orders of battle); CFR Clark Part IV (250 Sqdn escort May 41); Bill Baird (Connor and clarity); Jim Fryatt (arming 20lb and 40lb bombs & minor typos).
28 June 2002
None this month.
Far East Minor revisions for RAAF progress.
Sumatra and Java Minor editing of citations
RAAF personnel Minor revisions re McNamara and Bott. Further analysis remains to be done.
The Sphere... All photos now of fair quality. Added a fine Blenheim shot at Paramythia.
CFR Clark Part IV Afterthoughts - tidying up of Source references.
JB Keeping RAAF Group/Battle photo commentary revised. Probably complete.
NH Oddie RAAF DH.89 photo commentary revised. Probably complete.
Sites and Links New links added.
Selected picture quality fixes: Blenheim I, Middle East, G Checketts, TWS Fisher, JE Fryatt, Tatoi today.
Pages list: experimenting with a text only version, for speed. You may need to use your browser view/font control to keep the page width within the window.
28 April 2002
None this month.
Blenheim IV Armament notes fully revised and extended from RAF Armament narrative.
Middle East 211 Hawker Hind photo, Hind notes and aircraft marking notes added
The Far East Added Bill Baird’s Mark IV photo and a more thorough introduction
RAAF personnel considerable progress reconciling nominal rolls from various sources: considerable progress but not yet complete.
WH Edwards DFC Extended introduction on RAAF service and other revisions, thanks to Ross Edwards’ cuttings collection.
JB Keeping RAAF Fully revised career summary from JBK’s personnel file, photo captions checked and amended from originals, group shot aircraft identified correctly.
NH Oddie RAAF Revised NHO’s career summary from available records and letters, added Lutwyche War Cemetery photo.
JS Robertson Thanks to Alan Robertson and his Aunt, largely identified the Blackpool group shots personnel.
J Robertson Added Dave “Nobby” Clark’s photo and incorporated Robby’s scrapbook in the narrative.
Minor corrections or revisions
Blenheim I; W Baird; JE Fryatt; Sources; Sites & Links.
31 March 2002
Starting from contemporary accounts like Wisdom’s Wings Over Olympus, backed up by a deal of searching records at the National Archives of Australia, the Australian War Memorial and elsewhere, with personal materials kindly offered by the Edwards, Keeping, Oddie families and others, by March 2002 it was possible to pull together an account of the RAAF and Australian members of the Squadron.
Fortunately, the account was of sufficient depth and relevance that the site as a whole now met the Australian content guidelines for inclusion in the National Library of Australia PANDORA web archive programme. A general sense of the growth of the site from 2001 can be gathered from the PANDORA archive copies, which began in May 2002. The archive set continues annually, from August 2002 onwards.
2 March 2002
[Coincidentally, the 60th anniversary of the evacuation of the final party of Squadron personnel from Java aboard Tung Song]
Around this date, recast the site design to a simple “flat” style, without frames or page nesting, using more flexible software that has remained reasonably stable through four PCs and four Windows versions from 2002 to 2021.
After a demanding period of monthly updates, by late December 2001 the site had grown to some 30 pages, in about half its then allotted space of 10MB, with information on the Blenheim I and Blenheim IV, the Middle East and Far East, and the first versions of individual pages for LW Abbs, G Checketts, J D W H Clutterbuck, EL Cooper, A Conrad, G Davies, RJ Dudman, WH Edwards DFC, T Fisher, JE Fryatt, C Hansford, JS Robertson, and Burma contributors W Dickinson, G Manderson DFC, D Marsh Collis, S Spicer, S Woodhouse and AB Wythe DFM.
Easter Sunday 15 April 2001
The 60th anniversary of the Squadron’s disastrous Easter Sunday raid of 13 April 1941 in Greece. In this early form, the site content was little more than a web-based version of our little 1998 book, 211 Squadron RAF—An Observer’s Notes and Recollections. Essentially, my father’s Log Book transcript with my brief Historical Note on the Squadron and the Blenheim I, in a cumbersome frame-based hierarchical design dictated by the software to hand.
www.211squadron.org © D Clark & others 1998—2022
Site created 15 Apr 2001, last updated 14 Aug 2022. Page created 15 Apr 2001, last updated 14 Aug 2022
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