207 Squadron Royal Air Force History
from the Association web archive
What was New in 2013?
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On New Year's Eve, from Michael Stringer: I am the youngest son of the late Flt Lt JR Stringer, whose widow Mrs DO Stringer has passed away. Michael writes that he has two brothers and that they are interested in the 50th Anniversary of the crash of Valiant WZ363 in which their father was killed on 6th May 1964. The editor is putting him in touch with the commemoration group.
28 Dec: Via Kevin Grant, who has been contacted by Diane Mitten, daughter of Bob Mitten, Wireless Operator 9/44-5/45 in EC Hudson's crew. Bob has died and funeral arrangements are being made.
On Christmas Eve, from Josette Bishop: "Sadly my uncle, Denis Mooney, died peacefully in Cheltenham Hospital on Tuesday 10th December, after a year of ill health. His funeral will take place on 3rd January 2014 at 1pm at the Catholic Church of Our Lady & St Kenelm, Stow on the Wold."
Sqn Ldr Denis Mooney MVO RAF(Retd) was a Reunion stalwart as can be seen from the reunion photo reports. He was Mike Harrington's Navigator 1963-65 on Valiants and did a second tour on 207 Squadron, on Devons 1975-77. His MVO was awarded for his service on the Queen's Flight.
Brian Canfer, Chairman and Archivist of the RAF Mountain Rescue Association writes about the late Squadron Leader David Dattner OBE: In the early 1950s David made quite a name for himself in RAF Mountain Rescue circles and this was what he received his OBE for. I am currently compiling his story, sadly he died last year. I know it’s a long shot but may I request memories of David by anyone who remembers him? [Flt Lt David Dattner A/Elec was on the Squadron in 1956 and can be seen on the Valiant album page - see via Memories > Valiants]
MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR THE CREW OF VALIANT WZ363
Market Rasen Station Adoption Group are planning a 50th Anniversary Memorial Service for the crew of Valiant WZ363 that crashed in a field adjacent to the Market Rasen railway station on 6th May 1964, with the loss of all lives. It was a 207 Sqn crew in a 148 Sqn aircraft.
The service will be held at the station on Sunday 11th May 2014 commencing 11am, and will be attended by family members and serving and retired RAF personnel. In addition we are have invited representatives from local organisations including Royal British Legion and Air Cadets. Market Rasen Band will be providing the music and local vicar, Reverend Michael Cartwright, will be conducting the service.
If you would like to attend, or would like further details, please contact Market Rasen Station Adoption Group
Tel: Martin Barnard (Secretary) 01673 843108
Or visit their website: http://community.lincolnshire.gov.uk/marketrasenstationadoptiongroup/section.asp
Michele Williams identifies her father William Dennis Laskey in one of the Spilsby Groundcrew photos. She would be grateful to hear from anyone who knew him.
Laying Up of the 207 Squadron Standard in Lincoln Cathedral on 3rd October
31st October - formal closing down of the Squadron Association.
from: Wing Commander A R Watkins BA(Hons) FRSA RAF(Retd), President
I am writing to let all members of No 207 Squadron (RAF) Association know the outcome of the Annual General Meeting held on Saturday 7th September 2013.
AGM Proposition on the Future of the Association
After conducting routine agenda business, the members present addressed the main topic of the meeting, namely the future of the Association. The President, Treasurer, Secretary, Membership Secretary and one Member Without Portfolio (John Laing) had previously notified their intention to stand down from office.
There had been no volunteers prior to the AGM to succeed to those offices nor were any volunteers to join the
Committee forthcoming from the members at the AGM. The meeting noted the accelerating decline in membership numbers, the negligible likelihood of recruiting former members of the Squadron and the lack of volunteers to hold office or even to ensure a fully functioning Committee militated against successfully continuing a viable Association. Typical comments received from members prior to the AGM supported the view that the Association must face up to the fact of declining membership and accept, with regret, that it was no longer viable. This led the AGM to conclude that it would be best to disband the Association now in an orderly and dignified manner rather than suffer a protracted decline.
Therefore the President proposed, seconded by WWII veteran member Tom Rogers, that the No 207 Squadron (RAF) Association be wound up at the end of the present subscription year, namely 31st October 2013, and the assets be distributed as decided by the Committee, in accordance with the Constitution. The proposition was agreed unanimously.
The present Committee members had indicated that they were prepared to continue in office to oversee the disbandment of the Association and were duly re-elected on that basis.
Winding Up the Association
Final Event The final, formal No 207 Squadron Association event will be participation in the laying up of the No 207 (Reserve) Squadron Standard at Lincoln Cathedral on 3rd October 2013 and hosting an informal reception afterwards. Details of this have been notified separately.
Subscriptions Please do not make any payment for the new subscription year commencing 1st November 2013 and cancel immediately any Standing Order payments for future subscriptions to the Association.
Distribution of Assets The distribution of assets by the Committee was discussed briefly by the members at the AGM. There was a strong feeling that any resultant financial donations should be targeted mainly on the upkeep of memorials to, and the welfare of, WWII veterans. Accordingly, the Committee will be considering in particular:
- the RAFBF Appeal for the long term maintenance of the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park, London
- the Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial Appeal
- the RAF Benevolent Fund
- RAF Association
- Royal British Legion and the Not Forgotten Association appeals – specifying assistance to WWII veterans’ welfare
- the Market Rasen commemoration in 2014 of the 50th anniversary of the crash of Valiant WZ363
- assistance to the long term maintenance of the Spilsby and Langar Memorials to 207 Squadron*.
In addition, the AGM approved the principle of honoraria to Association Officers for continuing out of pocket expenses after dissolution of the Association.
*The meeting considered it essential that the appropriate groups of “Friends of the Monuments to 207 Squadron”, should be established each with a separate bank account which would require a Chairman/Secretary and Treasurer to be appointed. In order to prevent hijacking by undesirable elements, such groups should embody the principles of the No 207 Squadron (RAF) Association but should clearly identify that they were not successors to the Association.
The same principle should be applied to the continuation of the Website which, whilst incorporating the previous content, would require a new name which would not imply approval by the No 207 Squadron (RAF) Association of material subsequent to its dissolution.
Get Together Reunion in 2014
Members were strongly of the opinion that they would like to have an informal get together in 2014 in a format similar to the 2013 Association Reunion, which was proving highly successful. The Washington Group should be invited to participate, there would be no AGM and the Gala Dinner should be informal. It was agreed that John Laing would invite Isle of Wight Tours to make proposals. (Note: it is now proposed that this informal get together, incorporating the Washington Group, should be held in Scarborough 12th to 15th September 2014; details will be circulated separately.)
Members will be invited to register an interest (without commitment) if they wish to be informed about any future events connected with the former 207 Squadron (Royal Air Force) Association – see the enclosed note from John Laing.
It is with great sadness that we have accepted the inevitable need to close down the Association. The present Committee will continue in office to act in a caretaker role to oversee the various administrative and legal aspects, including distribution of assets, taking due account of comments and suggestions by members.
We intend to issue a final Newsletter, which will include the AGM Minutes and an account of the 207 (R) Squadron Standard laying up ceremony at Lincoln Cathedral, together with general information to tidy up after the formal end of the No 207 Squadron (RAF) Association.
REMINDER Please cancel straight away any Standing Order for 207 Association subs – the bank account will be closed and in any event the Treasurer, Nikki, will have a lot to do without an additional workload.
Finally, I wish to place on record my personal thanks to all members of the Committee for their dedication and hard work on behalf of the Association over many years and especially in their efforts during the recent challenging times.
It has been a privilege to work with them – and to meet and serve on behalf of the many members of the Association.
My best wishes to you all,
For Alan's letter and one accompanying it from Committee member John Laing (about members who might wish to be kept informed of any gathering of members and friend members of the Association placing their contact details on a contact list) please click on Alan & John's letters.
From the President to all Association Members - The Future of No.207 Squadron (RAF) Association
Wg Cdr Alan Watkins BA (Hons) FRSA RAF(Retd), writes in the Summer 2013 Newsletter: "I am writing to all members of the Association to underline the urgency of the situation regarding Association membership, nominations for the Committee at the 2013 AGM and the future of the Association.
You will all be aware, from regular warnings at AGMs and in Newsletters, of declining Association membership and, in particular, the failure to recruit new volunteers to serve on the Committee. This situation has been brought to a head by the previously announced (in the New Year 2013 Newsletter) intention of Kevin Grant to retire as Secretary and me to retire as President; no successors have been identified. In addition, other long-serving Committee members now wish to devote more time to their business and personal interests. After much discussion, Kevin and Nikki Mapley and John Laing have decided to tender their resignations at the 2013 AGM and decline to be nominated for further service on the Committee.
This necessarily will mean that, unless a new Committee can be formed at the AGM, the Association will no longer be able to function. The present Committee considers, with great regret, that if there are no volunteers to ensure a fully functioning Committee, it is better that the Association be dissolved in an orderly manner, rather than suffer a lingering death.
The Committee has also concluded that the prospect of recruiting any more former Squadron members of any era is negligible. There has been little uptake of immediate post-WWII veterans or Cold War Warriors and the Communications Squadron and Reserve Squadron eras are hardly represented at all. Even the number of active Friend members appears to be in decline as the opportunities for direct contact with WWII survivors necessarily decrease. In short, there appears no realistic potential for expanding membership of the Association.
Consequently, the present Committee considers that the proposition be put to the AGM that, unless sufficient volunteers were forthcoming to elect a new Committee, the No.207 Squadron (RAF) Association be wound up at the end of the present subscription year, namely 31 October 2013, and the assets distributed in accordance with the Constitution, (i.e. as decided by the Committee).
If this occurs, please note the Association would be wound up after the planned laying up of the No.207 (R) Squadron Standard in Lincoln Cathedral in October 2013.
Naturally, there will be administrative implications if the decision is made to wind up the Association. To that end, it is expected that most members of the current Committee would be prepared to continue in a caretaker role to oversee the disbandment of the Association on 31st October 2013 and disposal of its assets. It would be necessary to elect them accordingly as Officers of the Association for the necessary term of office.
Although the disposal of Association assets, in accordance with the Constitution, would be as decided by the Committee, the current Committee hopes that members will advise their own choices for the destination of such dispersals of funds. [Below] are some preliminary thoughts of the present Committee members.
Winding Up No.207 Squadron (RAF) Association
Some preliminary thoughts of the present Committee members.
As many regard the website as a lasting memorial to the Squadron, Frank Haslam has volunteered to continue to maintain it.
The current Committee is considering dispersing Association funds amongst the following:
a. The RAF Benevolent Fund (RAFBF) Appeal for long term maintenance of the Bomber Command Memorial
b. The Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial Appeal
c. The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund
e. Help for Heroes
f. Dr Rob Kirby towards expenses of the Manchester Book 2nd Edition (featuring No.207 Squadron)
g. Assist long term/ongoing maintenance of Memorials to 207 Squadron (especially at Spilsby & Langar), to be channelled through a potential Quote Friends of No 207 Squadron Memorials at “Named Location” Unquote.
h. Honoraria to the Association Treasurer, Membership Secretary and Website Editor for activities that necessarily will continue during the dissolution of the Association.
Ken Maggs, Pilot 7/72-6/75, died peacefully on Saturday 3rd August, aged 91 - " ... and sharp and lucid to the end. He had a very happy and long career as a pilot in the RAF" says his daughter Sue. The funeral has taken place. It is hoped that we may be able to have a copy of Ken's memories of his time on 207.
Rob Kirby has informed us of the death on 9th of August 2013 at the age of 93 of Joseph Scotty Scott WOp/AG 11/40-9/42. At one time he was in the Kydd crew and was one of the vanishing band of aircrew who flew in Manchesters & Lancasters. His funeral will be very small and takes place on Monday 19th August.
The Splisby Bomb Dump page has now been updated with our Summer 2013 Newsletter report of the placing of Obelisk from the original Spilsby Airfield Memorial at Monksthorpe Chapel on 20th April - see via Memorials > Spilsby > Bomb Dump
Too late for inclusion in the Summer 2013 Newsletter came the news of the death of Larry French, Pilot 11/44 -6/45, 10/45-5/46 on 8th July 2013 aged 92. In between his two tours on 207 Squadron Larry was on 617 Squadron.
Our page on the 207 crew memorial at Sérifontaine (F/O Trevor Hordley's crew, EM-V ND857, lost on St Leu d'Esserent 8 July 1944) has been updated with the account of a recent visit by the pilot's nephew Peter Hordley and his sister as part of local commemorations. Friend Member James Woods has added a PoW photo of his late grandfather, Sgt George Baker, one of the survivors of that crew - see an account and photos of the event via Memorials > 207 Crews > Hordley crew Sérifontaine
We have learned of the deaths of the following:
- William Bill Adams, Pilot 4-45-7/45 & 7/51-5/53 died on 29th March 2013 at the age of 95. He was one of the few who served on the Squadron in and post WW2. Bill was an OC A Flight in the Washington years at Marham. He was a member of the Association. Bill can be seen in the album for that period via Memories.
- John Nunn Pilot 12/41-6/42 died on 3 July 2013 aged 94. John Nunn was a Manchester pilot on 207 Squadron and is mentioned several times in Dr Rob Kirby's book Avro Manchester. It was later on 97 Squadron that with an injured front gunner unable to follow the rest of the crew out, and with the bomb release mechanism jammed, John Nunn crash landed his stricken Manchester. The front gunner survived but later died of his injuries. John was awarded the DFC. A mathematician, he was called on by Roger Bushell in Stalag Luft III to calculate how long the tunnel Harry would need to be in order for the Great Escapers to exit in cover. He was never able to discover how the trigonometry he used came up with an answer that proved too short. After the war he commanded 210 Sqn and served with SEATO and in the MoD. He was not a member of the Association. On leaving the RAF he worked for IBM. In 1992 he served as Mayor of Winchester. A memorial service was held at Hambledon Church, Surrey on July 26th 2013.
RAFA Belgium Branch are arranging a service in the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart , Koekelberg, Brussels at 11am on Saturday 28th September 2013 to honour those Belgians who fought with the RAF, as well as those who acted as intelligence agents in Belgium, together with the civilians of the Belgian Escape Lines who risked their lives to save so many downed airmen. For more information, please see RAFA Belgium's poster about this event.
Members will have received accommodation information from Isle of Wight Tours about the Laying Up of the 207 Squadron Standard during the 10am service of Matins in Lincoln Cathedral on 3rd October 2013.
Our page on the memorial at St Brisson to those who died in the Whyte crew (Lancaster EM-M L7547, lost on Milan Feb 13/14 1943) has been updated with the account by Ron Tillen, whose cousin Sgt Frank Tillen was one of those killed - see via Memorials > 207 Crews > Whyte crew St Brisson
July 14th saw the commemoration in Le Bouveret, Switzerland of the 70th anniversary of the loss of the Badge crew (Lancaster ED412 EM-Q on 13th July 1943). The memorial at Le Bouveret was dedicated on on 11th July 1993 - see an account and photos of the event via Memorials > 207 Crews > Badge crew Le Bouveret
Our congratulations go to an ex-Squadron new father ... Will definitely be Semper Paratus from now on!
Fred Panton, Honorary Member and co-founder of the Aviation Heritage Centre at East Kirkby has died suddenly at the age of 82. East Kirkby was the home of 57 and 630 Squadrons and was 55 Main Base for two airfields in the neighbourhood, Spilsby and Strubby. Many members will have enjoyed visits over the years to the Aviation Heritage Centre to see Lancaster NX611 and the various displays and collections, including much about 207 Squadron. Fred and his surviving brother Harold were always happy to stop and chat.
We welcome Mrs Priscilla Inkpen as a Friend member. She is the sister of Flt Lt Chris Welles, the captain of Valiant WZ363 which crashed at Market Rasen on 6th May 1964.
Mrs M Johnson has written to our Secretary to inform us of the death of Friend Member Roland Hanson. "Roly lived near my husband and I for some time and as we are in the process of clearing Roly's possessions I thought I would write to tell you of his passing. He used to like to read your Newsletters. He would often talk about his Air Force lads coming to his shop & Post Office at Great Steeping. Roly had been fairly well until early in the year. He spent several weeks in hospital until he died aged 88 on 16th April 2013."
The Spilsby Airfield Memorial, taken at 8pm on 10th April, the anniversary of the Bomb Dump explosion in 1944. Kevin Mapley writes: The middle two wreaths were laid on behalf of the Association and by the family of the late Ken Smith, a survivor by chance of that night. The other wreaths and crosses had been at some time by others. It is gratifying to note the memorial is fulfilling its function and its presence means something to those we will never know. The following day, on BBC Breakfast Auschwitz survivor Eva Schloss told of her time in Amsterdam. She recalled how she listened to the BBC in the latter stages of 1944 when in hiding, describing the broadcast with a dah, dah, dah, dahhh!
We have learned of the death of Sqn Ldr Dermot Finlay RAF (Retd) in 2012. He was an Air Gunner 5/44-9/44 and did 34 ops. He was in the Brady crew.
Arthur Barfoot DFM Air Gunner 3/43-9/43 in Jack Stephens' crew "F for Freddie" died on 6 April 2013 after a short illness, aged 91. His funeral took place on 22 April at Poole Crematorium. Members of that crew were for many years regular attends of our reunions.
Bob Russell, Air Gunner 9/42-5/43 in the McGee and Bottomer crews, died on 20th March. His cremation was at Grantham Crematorium on 11th April
We had lost contact with Alan Redman DFC Bomb Aimer 6/43-4/44 in the Jotcham and A Hollings crews. We have now had confirmation that he died some years ago.
We hope to report soon on the placing of Obelisk from the original Spilsby Airfield Memorial at Monksthorpe Chapel on 20th April.
The Bomber Command Clasp is now available to those who were awarded the 1939-45 Star and did at least one op in Bomber Command. It can be given posthumously so widows and next of kin can apply. For all enquiries about this clasp please click on this Bomber Command Clasp link.
Those who had asked to be informed of the date and time of the Deposition of the 207 Squadron Standard (presented to 207 (Reserve) Squadron by Prince Andrew at RAF Linton on Ouse in 2003) were contacted on 16th April as follows by Frank Haslam, who is the Association's contact point for it.
"We have heard from Flt Lt Pete Surtees at RAF Linton on Ouse as follows. "I am pleased to announce that I have today received confirmation from the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln Cathedral that they are happy to take charge of the 207 Sqn Standard at the Mattins service on Thursday 3 Oct 2013. The service will be 1000hrs and will involve a small contingent from RAF Linton on Ouse (Colour Party and Armed Escort) and anyone who wishes to attend will be most welcome.
Canon John Patrick informs me that there will be a RAF Padre available to conduct this service and I write to give you as much notice as possible in order that you may attend the ceremony and also disseminate the date for all members wishing to attend.
Please let me, Frank Haslam, know if you definitely plan to attend and the names of those in your party.
Please keep an eye on the website for further information."
Too late for our New Year 2013 Newsletter, we record the following news of deaths:
John B Walker, Pilot 12/41-6/42, who served at Bottesford on Manchesters and Lancasters, has died aged 93. His daughter Amanda writes: "Dad completed 2 tours during WWII, then joined AV Roe at Woodford in 1943 to test fly Lancasters off the production line (his record being 12 first flights in one day!), followed by Lancastrians, Tudors etc, before becoming a civil airline pilot with BEA in the early 1950s. I recall him attending a number of 207 Sqn re-unions in the 1980s and 1990s." In more recent years we lost touch with John but he will be remembered on our Post RAF Roll of Honour - see via Memorials > Roll of Honour.
His funeral will take place at Macclesfield Crematorium, Prestbury Road, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK10 3BU on Tuesday 12th March at 10.40am, and "anyone who wishes to attend would be very welcome".
David Gladders writes that his father Tom Gladders, Flight Engineer 7/42-12/43, died on 12th February aged 90. His crew (Moulton-Barrett) was shot down on Berlin on 24/12/43 in Lancaster EM-J DV188 and Tom was taken prisoner.
In our New Year 2013 Newsletter, we recorded the following news of deaths not already mentioned on this page
Ex 207 Squadron, Members of the Association
Ken Larcombe, Bomb Aimer 2/45-6/45
William Mulhern, Fitter IIA 41-44
Malcolm Staves, Wireless Operator 1/45-3/47
Jack Stephens DFC, Pilot 3/43-10/43
CB Larry Sutherland DFC*, Air Gunner 11/43-8/44
Ex 207 Squadron, not members of the Association
Peter Lewin, Navigator in the Richford Valiant crew
Friend Members: Jim Dickenson, Barry Grice, Peter Williams
They are remembered on our Roll of Honour - see via Memorials > Roll of Honour > Post 207 RIP
A Happy New Year to all our visitors.
Our Newsletter has been slightly delayed but it is hoped that it will be despatched w/c 28 January.
It will have news of the arrangements for our 2013 Reunion and AGM which will be held at Tillington Hall Hotel, Stafford.
There is a slight change to the format in that the reunion is over the weekend of Friday 6th to Monday 9th September 2013 and this should give us more time to meet and chat. There are two visits included in the package: on Saturday to the RAF Museum at RAF Cosford and on Sunday to the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas.
Please do not contact the hotel directly - information will be provided in the New Year 2013 Newsletter.
The Treasurer and Membership Secretary attended the funeral of Cyril Hewett (Navigator 2/45-5/45 in the Anderson crew, the last 207 crew lost in WWII). Cyril died on 24 December 2012. John Pearl, another member of the crew, was also attending. The funeral was at 11.30am on 22 January at Eltham Crematorium, Crown Woods Way, Eltham, SE9 2AZ.
News from his son Marc of the death on 16th January of Peter Loakes (Air Gunner 4/44-6/44), Rear Gunner in the Solly crew lost on Wesselling 21/22 June 1944 in EM-M LL973. The four survivors of this crew - Arthur Barton, Eddie Chapman, Frank Haslam snr and Peter kept in touch and aimed to speak to one another on the anniversary of being shot down. Now Eddie, in New Zealand, is the sole survivor. The funeral is on Monday 28th January, 1pm, at Poole Crematorium.
Member Jim Wright, son of the Bomb Aimer in the Badge crew, would like to trace what happened to Sgt FCI Davidson, who was the Navigator in the early days of that crew. Jim believes he returned to civvy street in 1946. If you can help, please contact the editor.
Douglas Gardner has spotted his father in law Flight Sergeant Norman Campbell Smith in the Spilsby 1945 group photo of Air Gunners on our website. Norman lives in Carlisle and recently celebrated his 88th birthday. He served with 207 squadron until his demob - see via Memories > Lancasters > Spilsby group photos
One of the late Peter Coventry's daughters, Elizabeth, was in contact last year having seen mention of her father (Pilot 58-61) on this website. She was delighted to be sent Ken Marwood's 1993 newsletter Obituary for Peter and his 1994 newsletter account of Peter's (mis)adventure in May 1961 at Cranwell when 207 was on Exercise Mayflight. It was the first time that 207 dispersed to the newly prepared V-Bomber dispersal on the south-eastern side of the Cranwell South airfield. She was seeking material for her mother's 90th birthday ("brilliant, she was completely blown away with her memory album"). She has now provided some wartime photos of her father and some from the latter part of his life, which will be in the newsletter.
Elizabeth recalls being at Marham Village School "I was there from 1957 to 1961 when Mr Kirkup was headmaster and Mrs Kirkup taught Year 6 and my twin sisters, Diana and Philippa, went to kindergarten there in 1961! I remember the names of a few children that went there, but I don't know if they were all 207s. There was Timothy Evans, David Walters, Lorraine Richardson, Lesley McColl (and brother John), May Galeone, Amanda Curry, Annette Spears and Ann Woods. I'm not sure if the spelling of all the surnames is correct, but that's how I remember them."
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