207 SQUADRON ROYAL AIR FORCE HISTORY
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see July 2017 for news that 207 Squadron will be the F-35B OCU
- see 207 F-35B OCU page via the link on left -
Frank Haslam's offer to continue the former Association website which he set up in 1998 was accepted. The website address remains the same but with a new look and name - 207 SQUADRON ROYAL AIR FORCE HISTORY - which has been rolled out across the site. If you spot any pages that may need attention or you can add to, please contact Frank Haslam.
If you served on 207 Squadron, or
have close links to someone who did, please contact the editor Frank
Haslam with your full contact details so that when there is news of
events you can be individually kept up to date by email.
If you do not yourself have email then perhaps a friend or relative who does can assist you in keeping in touch. No contact details will be published.
- A Happy New Year to everyone.
Looking forward to seeing the Squadron back at Marham later in the year. Best Wishes to all who are working hard to achieve success for the Squadron in all its endeavours.
- Alec White's daughter Margaret writes: "Dad, a founding member of 207 Squadron Royal Air Force Association, passed away very peacefully on 10th January 2019. He was 98." Alec was the Mid Upper Gunner (11/43-9/44) in 'Smithies' crew in which Harry Priestley (see below) was the Flight Engineer. Margaret was a Friend Member. They hardly missed a Reunion. More details to follow.
Alec's name has been added to our Post RAF and Association RIP Roll of Honour
- see via Memorials > Rolls of Honour > Post RAF & Association RIP
- An extensive page has been added on Harry Priestley (Flight Engineer 12/43-6/44) who died aged 93 in 2016. His beloved Peggy (née Meek) (Driver 11/42-1/45) died in 2005. He was a regular at Reunions and we came to learn the words of the 207 Lancaster Song which he and Denis Dear, his Bomb Aimer in 'Smithies' crew, wrote at Spilsby to be sung to the tune of Bless 'em All. His daughter Judy has provided items for the page including the text of the 207 Lancaster Song and the fascinating eulogy given at his funeral - including Harry's time in the Household of the Duke & Duchess of York. It includes Peggy's obituary from a 2005 newsletter.
- see Harry's page via Memorials > Aircraft Eras > Lancasters
- Links to the following on YouTube have been added ... when you look at them make sure your sound is on:
Vickers Valiant - The First British V-Bomber: contributors include Jack Lord, John Scullard, Eddie Crook from 207 Sqn; Tiff O'Connor from 49 Sqn. Much of the narration is by Bill Gunston.
see via Memories > Aircraft Eras > Valiants > Valiants YouTube
Royal Visit to Marham July 1956
Includes the Presentation of 207's first Standard by HM The Queen and the flypast.
see via Memories > Standard Presented 1956 > The Presentation Day on British Movietone News
Laying of Wreaths at Market Rasen Station at the dedication of a memorial plaque in memory of the 207 Sqn crew of Valiant WZ363, killed when the aircraft crashed at Market Rasen on 6th May 1964. It was uploaded by Felicity Green, a niece of the pilot, Flt Lt Chris Welles.
see via Memorials > To 207 Sqn Crew Members > Welles crew
Lancaster Flight Honours 207 Squadron Memorial Inauguration
The flypast by the BBMF Lancaster at the dedication of the 207 Memorial Plaque in All Saints' Church, Great Steeping on 8th May 1992. Narrated by the then OC BBMF Sqn Leader Andy Tomalin. The film aircraft is ex-207 Devon VP981 (see Devons pages), then used as BBMF's 'bus'.
see via Memorials> to 207 Sqn > Spilsby & Gt Steeping> All Saints Great Steeping
Please contact the editor if you discover other 207 Squadron items on YouTube.
- The 2009 What's New page has been revisited and massively expanded. Work continues on other years.
see 2009 via the link at the foot of this page
- A page has been added about the arrival of the F-35B at Marham and provides some Twitter links - see via 207 F-35B OCU link on the left of your screen.
- The January 2019 issue of FlyPast has an article by Ken Ellis on a visit to the RAF Museum's storage facility at Stafford in which the editor spotted "A small area is devoted to items that do not belong to the RAF Museum. Operational units and bases accumulate memorabilia that once adorned crew rooms and corridors. On permanent disbandment much of this material comes the way of the museum, but if the unit is 'resting' it remains the property of the Ministry of Defence via the Air Historical Branch. During my visit several large boxes were due to be delivered to Marham in Norfolk and Lossiemouth in Scotland. Travelling to East Anglia were items for 207 Squadron which is due to re-form on July 1, 2019, as the operational conversion unit for the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning."
- For 40 years Hughes Roy has regularly visited the cemetery in Chaintreaux where two members of the Lissette crew - the pilot Leslie Lissette and the Rear Gunner Ronald Ellis - are buried. Their Lancaster EM-F ND556 was lost on 4th May 1944 in the raid on the tank depot at Mailly-le-Camp. Four of the crew evaded including Ron Emeny and one was taken PoW. Hughes has been in contact with the crew families except that of Ronald Ellis: it is known that he had a daughter. "This message is to ask if you could help us to find this family and to maintain this friendship across the seas for another generation."
There is more to come on this story.
- Graeme Lovell made contact in July to correct a typo on the date of the loss of Lancaster L7546 EM-G on Genoa 7th November 1942 (correct date) in our Lancaster losses listings. The crew of P/O AVRS Wilson DFM, which included Graeme's uncle Sgt JH Lovell DFM, are all buried in the churchyard of Champignol-lez-Mondeville, Aube. The pilot and four others in the crew had been awarded the DFM for their conduct in bringing back their aircraft L7583 EM-A which was forced by engine trouble to turn back from the raid on Le Creusot on 17th October 1942. About 20 miles West of Brest they were attacked by three Arado 196 float planes. Two were shot down and they drove off the third. The Flight Engineer Sgt Kenneth Chalmers was killed. Their awards were Gazetted on 20th November 1942, thirteen days after they were lost on Genoa.
A page about that loss and the care the village shows to their graves is being prepared with the help of families of the crew, French contributors and Bill Chorley.
- Norman Morton's father Harry Morton was a Gunner on 207 at Marham in 1952, on Washingtons (B29 Superfortress). A page from his logbook for September 1952 shows 12 flights on W564, W565, WF568, WW342 mostly with Sqn Ldr Fisher and Flt Lt McNabb, with Wg Cdr Wheeler along on one of the Fisher flights. Norman was looking for photos of these aircraft. WF564 and WF565 are on this website and Norman has been pointed in the direction of the Washington Times to search for the others.
For our Washington pages go Memories > Aircraft Eras > Washingtons
- Shan Fleming's uncle F/Sgt Donald Alan Reid RAAF, BJ Henderson, W McQuade and EJ Gibson in the Henderson crew were killed when their Lancaster PD232 EM-C was lost on Giessen (Frankfurt) on 6th December 1944. They were on their 6th op. The survivors were Bob Massey-Shaw and Peter Hornfeck. They had been posted in to Spilsby on 17th October 1944 according to a notebook that he kept. Shan's interest was in the journeys her uncle must have made. He was in New York then Fort Slocum (a US military post in Long Island Sound in the city of New Rochelle, New York) and then Glasgow. It is likely that he travelled by sea and the advice given was to request his Service Record which could well include such detail.
- Lucy Cutler has been doing some research for a neighbour whose brother-in-law Sgt George Robert Nipper, Bomb Aimer, was killed when the Hawkes crew was shot down over Hilversum on the 13th May 1943 raid on Duisburg, in Lancaster EM-G ED418. Photos of George have been provided and two are added to the Hawkes crew page.
see via Memorials > To 207 Sqn Crew Members > Hawkes crew
- As can be seen, the task of helping families and those who served continues. The editor wishes to acknowledge in particular the help provided by: Raymond Glynne-Owen and Alan Mawby on 207 Squadron matters; Oliver Clutton-Brock on RAF Evaders and PoWs; and Bill Chorley, author of the series of books listing RAF Bomber Command Losses in the Second World War.
This image was sent by Clive Smith, a 106 Squadron researcher who is interested in Peter Ward-Hunt DFC* 207 Sqn Pilot 8/41-5/42.
Peter spent a short time on 106 in March 1943 as Flight Commander (John Searby was the other one) under Guy Gibson
who Peter had known from his Hampden days. This is a scan from a negative provided by Peter's son John.
Clive does not recognise any 106 Sqn faces and wonders if it could have been taken when Peter was on 207?
For a larger version, please click on the image.
- Jan Offert is the nephew of Sgt Denis Whitaker, Bomb Aimer in the Healey crew (Lancaster I ED554 EM-Q) commemorated at the Jisp Memorial in the Netherlands. This crew was lost on the Duisburg raid of 9/10 April 1943. All were killed. He has now visited the Memorial and provides some photos. He was pleased to find it in good condition.
see via Memorials > to 207 Sqn crew members > Healey > Healey crew 207
- Erwin Rust's weekend cottage is near Hoge Duvel in the Netherlands. It is in the middle of Het Loo, an estate of the Dutch Royal Family in the municipality of Apeldoorn. Erwin adds a little to the what is known of the crash of 207 Sqn Lancaster PD318 EM-J on 23rd Sepetmber 1944: "It came down burning and just missed the house of gamekeeper Pol's family on De Hoge Duvel." The whole crew (Pilot F/O Raymond Thomas Kerwin) were killed on this raid on Munster Handorf airfield. They are buried in Apeldoorn (Ugchelen-Heidehof General Cemetery. Raymond Glynne-Owen adds: The crew joined 207 on 18th August 1944 and were on their 8th op. The body of the Navigator, Sgt Vernon Hanmer, was washed ashore on 25th October 1944, so at least one of the crew appears to have baled out over the sea before the aircraft crashed.
- The Autumn issue of the Lincolnshire's Lancaster Association's journal Memorial Flight has an eight page article Remnants in the Landscape by Richard Hall on RAF Spilsby.
- Ray Williams writes that the BBC have featured him and his brother Jeff in a film to be screened in 2019. They are the sons of Sgt Arthur Haydn Davies, Flight Engineer in the Negus crew lost on Hanover on 18th October 1943 (Lancaster W4276 EM-L). Only the Rear Gunner survived and was a PoW.
The editor understands that The Lost Films of WW2 is a one off 90-minute documentary being made for BBC2, telling the story of life in Britain during the war years, through use of amateur footage, diaries, and letters.
- John Geenty is researching a distant member of his family, Sgt Robert John Norman, Flight Engineer in the Gibbs crew (ND570 EM-Z) lost on St Leu d'Esserent 5th July 1944. He is the only one to have a grave. He is believed to have had two very young daughters. John has seen a note left by them on the Bomber Command Memorial and would like to be in touch with them. If you can help please contact Frank Haslam.
- An article in the York Press dated 28th July says that RAF Linton-on-Ouse is likely to close in 2020 with activities transferring to RAF Valley.
- Russell Millgate identifies Sgt Patrick Ian Chatteris on the October 1944 Squadron photo. "His father had just died so he was lucky to be in this photo. His aircraft was EM-V PD280 and before that EM-W PB293. His pilot was F/O Hodgkinson, who is also in the photo. Patrick died in 1993. I believe he was in the RAF for 35 years, ending up as a Warrant Officer. I have all the operational logs of their time on 207."
see photo via Memories > Aircraft Era > Lancasters > Spilsby group photos > 207 Sqn Oct 1944
- Annette Burlingham, daughter of DR (Dickie) Bird, Bomb Aimer (7/44-12/44) in the Cupit crew, has identified her father in the October 1944 Squadron photo. "My father Desmond Ronald (Dickie) Bird was a Bomb Aimer. At the time of the photograph he would have been a SNCO. He was commissioned in 1945. He was screened after a complete tour of operations in 1945 and was an Air Bombing Instructor and Codes and Cypher Officer. He was demobbed in 1946 (Aug). Sadly, he lost his life in a motoring accident during his mid-eighties [in 2009]." - see photo via Memories > Aircraft Era > Lancasters > Spilsby group photos > 207 Sqn Oct 1944
His name has been added to our Post RAF and Association RIP Roll of Honour - see via Memorials > Rolls of Honour > Post RAF & Association RIP
- A ‘1961’ A.F.M. group of three - AFM, General Service 1918-62, RAF LS & GC - awarded to Flight Lieutenant, late Master Navigator, GWE Foster, Royal Air Force, who was killed during a flying accident in a Canberra, over Lyme Bay, Dorset, 1 May 1970 has been sold at auction for £3200. In May 1958 Flt Lt AI Alder, Sqn Ldr S Daniel DSO DFC and F/O CG Bell were posted in to the Squadron at Marham to make up a new crew with Flt Lt AF Burcher and Flt Sgt GWE Foster.
- The last President of the 207 Sqn Association, Wg Cdr Alan Watkins BA (AEO 1/59-1/62) writes that he is being interviewed by a representative of the Imperial War Museum Sound Archive. "The first interview has reached my starting aircrew training as an AEO."
- News that the Coningsby Aviation Heritage Centre is set to open before Easter 2018. It is based inside the wire and is run by RAF Coningsby personnel, both military and civilian as well as local volunteers. It is in the old NAAFI.The centre will be open for visits on the first Sunday of each month. There is disabled access to the centre and admission is free. Visits will depend on volunteer availability.
- News from a friend of the Eld family that Gerald V Eld, Bomb Aimer 1/43-3/43 in F/O Denys Street's crew lost in Lancaster EM-U W4391 on Berlin the night of 29-30/3/43 died on 4th January.
Denys Street, son of Sir Arthur Street, Permanent Secretary at the Air Ministry, was one of the 50 Great Escapers who were executed. All the crew were PoWs.
Gerald was a member of the Association. The editor provided information on the loss of his aircraft, information on how his family could obtain his service record, a Memorial Card and the Squadron badge for the Order of Service. The RAF Ex-POW Association offered to send a wreath. Gerald's funeral was at Westleigh Crematorium, Bristol, on 31st January 2018. His name has been added to our Post RAF and Association RIP Roll of Honour - see via Memorials > Rolls of Honour > Post RAF & Association RIP
- Christopher Haywood made contact to say that his mother Sheila née Binch had died on 25 December 2017. Mrs Sheila M Haywood née Binch served on 207 Squadron as Photographer 1942-45. She wrote about her experiences in an article TALE OF A PHOTOGRAPHER originally published in the WAAF Association Newsletter and reprinted in the 207 Association 2002/3 Winter/Spring (March) Newsletter, which ended "We went into the WAAF as shy girls and came out young ladies having served our country. I wouldn't have missed it for anything."
The editor provided the text of that article, the Squadron and WAAF Association badges for the Order of Service, and a Memorial Card. Sheila's funeral was at St. Mary's Church, Felpham, near Bognor Regis, West Sussex on 26th January 2018. Her name has been added to our Post RAF and Association RIP Roll of Honour - see via Memorials > Rolls of Honour > Post RAF & Association RIP
- A link to the International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC) at Lincoln has been added to Memorials.
- David Booth's uncle Sgt Fred Booth was the Wireless Operator in the Hordley crew (Lancaster EM-V ND567) lost on St Leu d'Esserent on 7/8 July 1944. He has visited his uncle's grave and plans to visit the crash site near the Hordley crew memorial at Sérifontaine. He has provided a photo of his uncle, which has been added to the Hordley crew page, as have links to French websites about the Memorial.
- Louise White makes contact, She is a grand-daughter of the late John White, the pilot of the crew in which Ron Winton was Wireless Operator. They went down on Gydnia 18-19 December 1944 (Lancaster EM-S LM671) and were all PoWs. Ron, for many years the Association's Membership Secretary, wrote an account in the 2002/3 Winter/Spring (March) Newsletter. John and other members of the crew can be seen on the October 1944 Squadron photo.
see photo via Memories > Aircraft Era > Lancasters > Spilsby group photos > 207 Sqn Oct 1944
Her other grandfather was Wg Cdr Alan Webster DSO DFC who flew with and commanded 99 Sqn in 1945 and before that 215 Sqn.
Louise has been guided on how to obtain her grandfathers' service records and provided with the text of Ron's article. She went on to visit the Spilsby area where she was welcomed by Raymond Glynne-Owen.
John White died in 1973 and has been added to our Post RAF and Association RIP Roll of Honour - see via Memorials > Rolls of Honour > Post RAF & Association RIP
- Reunion regulars will remember Mrs Diane Mawby with great fondness, as no doubt will the RAF Linton-on-Ouse and Rufforth communities. Her funeral was at All Saints' Church in Rufforth on Thursday 7th December. Alan Mawby writes: "The church was full and there was standing room only. The collection of just over £800 in accordance with Diane's wishes will be divided between St Leonard's Hospice in York (where Diane passed away) and the All Saints' Church Rufforth Spire Fund (the spire needs some expensive repairs). Diane was secretary of Rufforth WI and a long standing member of the York Branch of the Embroiderers' Guild. She was also very much involved with the York Young Embroiderers which is an offshoot of the Embroiderers' Guild and which she had led for nearly 30 years." [St Leonard's Hospice, 185 Tadcaster Road, York YO24 1GL. All Saints' Church, Rufforth, York YO23 3QB]
- The June 2017 issue of FlyPast had an article 0n the restoration of Just Jane Lancaster NX611 at East Kirkby. Andrew Panton was quoted "At the back of our hangar we have a section of a 207 Squadron Lancaster with squadron markings on it." Raymond Glynne-Owen has been in contact with Andrew who says the panel is from ME473, Ted Lawson's aircraft, so the code must be EM-H. It crashed at Ruskington Fen near Metheringham after a colliding with Lancaster ND572 DX-F of 57 Squadron during a training flight. All eight on board ME473 died including an LAC aboard for air experience flying.
The eight aboard the 57 Sqn Lancaster included an AC2 who had been accepted for training to be a navigator. All died.
- Lynne Gough's parents were Ron and Jessie Emeny, both of whom served on 207 Squadron. Ron (Air Gunner 4/44-5/44, 1/46-4/50) was badly injured when the Lissette crew (Lancaster EM-F ND556) was lost on 4th May 1944 in the raid on the tank depot at Mailly-le-Camp. Four of the crew evaded including Ron, one was taken PoW and two were killed. He was cared for by the Resistance Movement whilst recovering from severe burns then was helped to get back to the UK and was one of the last people to escape from France on the Comète Line. He was a member of the RAF Escaping Society and with Jessie a frequent attender of reunions. He died in 2001. Jessie was a Telephonist 11/46-2/48. She died in 2012.
Lynne is trying to find the daughter of a man called Jon a Lawyer, last known living at a house called Le Télégraphe somewhere within an hour of Paris. His daughter is Isabelle married to Pierre-Yves and last known living in Paris with their two daughters. Pierre-Yves was a Police Inspector in Paris but could now be retired. Please can you help me find them? When my Mother died I lost their contact details and I would so love to get in touch with them again.
This request has also been passed to the Escape Lines Memorial Society of which the editor is a member. If you can help please contact Frank Haslam.
- The massive task of updating all Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Armed Forces Memorial links, catching up on changes to those two databases, is well under way.
- Assistance has been given to Karen Forster about her uncle Sgt Leslie Francis Abel who was the Flight Engineer in the Read crew (Lancaster R5895 EM-B) lost on Magdeburg on 21st January 1944.
- Peter Gedling, son of Bill Baker's Navigator, adds to the Brigstock Memorial page with better photos of the collision damage to Lancaster DV361 and memories from his father.
see via Memorials > to 207 Sqn crew members > Brigstock
- Sally Neumann wonders if the Brian Clifford listed in the Squadron Photo taken in February 1984 might be her cousin. She has a photo of him in RAF uniform taken in the early 1960s. He had a younger brother Tim. She'd like to get in touch "before we are all too old." Brian was not a member of the Association. If you can help please contact Frank Haslam.to see the photo go Memories > Aircraft eras > Devons > Feb 84
- Mark Currie makes contact about his father Sgt John Richard Currie DFM who was a WOp/AG in the Keartland crew lost when their Manchester L7311 EM-F was attacked and shot down on the Düsseldorf raid of the night of 16/17 August 1941. He and the rest of the crew spent the rest of the war as PoWs. His DFM was awarded when he was on 44 Sqn.
On repatriation he resumed his RAF career. He died in June 1967 at the age of 47 and is buried at St Mawgan in Cornwall, close to the RAF Coastal Command base which was his last posting.
He has been added to our Post RAF and Association RIP Roll of Honour - see via Memorials > Rolls of Honour > Post RAF & Association RIP
ROYAL AIR FORCE PRESS RELEASE Date: 5 July 2017
IDENTITY OF F-35 LIGHTNING TRAINING SQUADRON ANNOUNCED
The squadron which will train future Royal Air Force and Royal Navy F-35B Lightning pilots at RAF Marham has been announced as 207 Squadron.
The announcement was made during a visit to RAF Marham by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, and the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, to view the progress being made to prepare for the arrival of the fifth generation fighter at the Norfolk base next summer.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said: “I am very pleased to announce that the Operational Conversion Unit for the UK’s F-35B Lightning fleet will be 207 Squadron. The squadron has a proud and distinguished history, not only as an RAF squadron but as one of the earliest squadrons of the Royal Naval Air Service which, with the Royal Flying Corps, came together to form the Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918.
“Preparations for the arrival of the first UK Lightnings next year are progressing well. The investment of £250m in infrastructure here at RAF Marham will ensure the station has the facilities to match this world-class aircraft when it arrives next year. As the home of the UK Lightning Force the station will be at the heart of UK airpower for decades to come.”
Admiral Sir Philip Jones First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff said: “207 Squadron will play an important part in the future of both the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy, and rightly reflects our shared aviation heritage. I was in the United States earlier this month to meet some of the pilots and maintainers who are getting to grips with the F-35B. They’re working brilliantly together and today I’ve seen the same sense of purpose from those readying RAF Marham for their arrival.
“HMS Queen Elizabeth is the first carrier in the world designed from the outset to operate a fifth generation combat aircraft. Crucially, a second ship - HMS Prince of Wales - is on its way, which will give the UK a continuous Carrier Strike capability. I have every expectation that, in time, this combination of carriers and jets will represent a powerful and important strategic conventional deterrent.”
The new infrastructure currently being built at RAF Marham includes vertical landing pads, the renewal of runways and taxiways and new technical and training facilities, offices and hangars.
The first Lightnings will arrive at RAF Marham in summer next year when the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy pilots currently training in the United States, will return as 617 Squadron, the Dambusters. The Lightning OCU will stand up as 207 Squadron on 1 July 2019.
Notes to editors:
The fifth generation F-35 Lightning jets are the most advanced aircraft ever built for the UK and will be operated initially by 617 ‘The Dambusters’ Squadron, Royal Air Force, followed by 809 Naval Air Squadron, in 2023. Combined, they will transform the UK’s ability to project UK influence overseas. Initial flight trials for F-35 jets from HMS Queen Elizabeth Class are on track to begin in 2018, building towards delivering a Carrier Strike capability for the UK from 2020.
Overall, the F-35 Lightning programme continues to make good progress and to date 10 aircraft have been delivered. The UK programme remains on track to deliver Initial Operating Capability in December 2018 with 48 F-35Bs fully delivered by Jan 25. The UK is fully committed to the F-35 programme. The current planning assumption is that the UK will buy 138 F-35B Lightning aircraft over the life of the programme.
UK industry will provide approximately 15% by value of every F-35 Lightning to be built. There are a huge variety of UK companies involved in the programme situated across the country.
SDSR15 announced an uplift of an additional F-35B Lightning squadron as part of the wider growth of the RAF combat jet fleet. It was considered appropriate for the Operational Conversion Unit, which will train Lightning pilots from both services, to have a numberplate with a joint RAF/RN history. The Royal Air Force formed in 1918 from the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service. The Navy squadrons’ lineage was retained by allocating them squadron numberplates in the ‘200’ range. Accordingly 207 Sqn, which has a rich RN history as 7 RNAS, and an equally rich RAF history subsequently, has been chosen.
- Friend Member of our former Association Mrs Ruth Alderson died on 23rd April 2017 aged 87. Her brother was F/Sgt John Shaw, Navigator in the Solly crew, killed when they were shot down on the Wesseling raid 21/22 June 1944 (Lancaster LL973 EM-M). Her funeral on 17th May 2017 at Felliscliffe Chapel was attended by the editor whose father was Wireless Operator in the Solly crew. There is a memorial to John Shaw in Wilne Church near Derby.
see via Memorials > 207 Sqn crew members > Solly >John Shaw: Wilne
Ruth's name has been added to our Post RAF and Association RIP Roll of Honour
see via Memorials > Rolls of Honour > Post RAF & Association RIP
- Dale Mockford's uncle was a 207 Squadron Navigator Pilot Officer Patrick Alfred Kingsley Mockford. In 1943 he was engaged to Dale's mother, Patricia Frances Cook. On 29th April 1943, just a few weeks before the wedding, his Uncle Pat was shot down near Lemvig, Northern Denmark while on a Gardening (mine laying) operation from Langar (Rees crew Lancaster W4945 EM-Z). The crew all perished.
"The shock of his loss to both my mother and his younger brother, Laurence Elwyn Mockford, threw the two of them together and in 1945, Patricia and Elwyn were married in Beddington, Surrey. My older sister Linda & I were their children."
It is hoped that Dale will provide new materal to be added to the Rees crew/Lemvig page.
see via Memorials > to 207 Sqn crew members > Rees crew
- John Mitchell DFC (WOp/Signals Ldr 4/43-4/45) died at the age of 98 in Lincoln County Hospital on New Year's Day. A short Committal service took place at Lincoln Crematorium on 9th February and this was folowed by a Service of Thanksgiving at All Saints' Church, North Collingham. He was Chairman of the 207 Squadron Langar Airfield Memorial Committee and unveiled the Brigstock Memorial. He was a regular attender of our reunions. He followed his service as Signal Leader by training to be a pilot in the RAF.
The following article appeared on 3rd January 2017 in the Newark Advertiser. It has been edited.
Tributes to airman who flew sortie minutes after war was declared
A daring flyer who took part in one of the first RAF missions of the Second World War died on New Year’s Day. Squadron Leader John E.F. Mitchell DFC had lived at the Copper Beeches Care Home, Collingham, for the past 2½ years and had recently celebrated his 98th birthday. He flew many sorties during the war, first as a Wireless Operator and then as a Pilot.
His niece, Miss Caroline Wood, of Lincolnshire, who was with him when he died, said: “He was a marvellous man who lived an amazing life. There can be very few Servicemen left who took part in the first mission of the war and who lived through it.” Mr Tim Chamberlin, a war historian from Aslockton, said: “He was a truly remarkable aviator with an outstanding record of service with the Royal Air Force.”
After leaving grammar school at the age of 16, and having seen a Zeppelin airship in flight, he applied to be a Boy Entrant at RAF Cranwell, which was a radio college at the time. He became a Wireless Operator because he was too young to be a Pilot. He was posted to Wiltshire and then to Yorkshire, where he got the chance to fly in Whitley bombers with 58 Squadron.
On September 3, 1939, when war was declared, he was among aircrew to take to the skies over Germany to drop thousands of propaganda leaflets in the hope that public opinion could be swayed away from thoughts of war.
In an account of his war service, he wrote: “At 11.15 hours on September 3, 1939, we listened to (Prime Minister Neville) Chamberlain’s fateful broadcast, and as darkness fell ours was among 10 Whitleys laden with propaganda leaflets which got airborne for Germany, my log book recording that the ‘Anti-Nazis War’ had begun.
On that first operational sortie I was flying with my regular pilot, Flying Officer ‘Peggy’ O’Neill, aboard a familiar Whitley, K8969. Even so it was the most surreal of experiences to be droning over a blacked-out Germany, where millions of people were both ready, and willing, to kill us. Not only that, but to be doing so carrying nothing more lethal than propaganda leaflets. And leaflets intended to do what — destroy the resolve of a nation already cock-a-hoop over its Polish blitzkrieg? We could not know that Churchill had only grudgingly conceded that leaflets just might raise Germany to a ‘higher morality’. Or that our future leader, ‘Bomber’ Harris, would declare that the only thing such idiotic and childish pamphlets accomplished was to satisfy a requirement for toilet paper.
The five-man crew of the Whitley bomber flew through the Ruhr Valley, specifically targeting Essen and Dusseldorf, before overflying the Maginot Line and turning for home. He described being on edge for the whole of the 7½-hour flight. The Whitley’s engines began to falter, committing them to a descent. The crew stayed with the aircraft even though conditions were dark and they were unsure of their position. After wrestling with the controls, the pilot narrowly missed a suspension bridge and a large oak tree before completing a forced landing in a maize field near the town of Dormans, northern France. The crew was picked up by a civilian Dragon Rapide biplane and returned home.
At the end of 1939, Squadron Leader Mitchell and the crew were reassigned as air cover, escorting convoys in the English and Bristol Channels and the Irish Sea. He went on to complete a first tour of 30 operational bombing missions over Holland, Germany and Italy. He joined 207 Squadron in May 1943, based at Langar Airfield, and finished a second tour as Signals Leader, completing 36 operational sorties. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in January 1944. After 207 Squadron for the remainder of the war his duties included anti-submarine patrols and teaching young pilots. He completed 1,600 flying hours, many in Shackletons and later in the jet-engined Vampire.
In 1946, Squadron Leader Mitchell married Joan, who was president of the Newark Dog Club and involved with Collingham Tennis Club. The couple lived in Collingham for all their married life. Mrs Mitchell died in 2011. He was a relative by marriage to his hero, First World Flying ace Captain Albert Ball VC. In 1957, Squadron Leader Mitchell retired from the RAF and became chairman and committee member for many local organisations.
He returned to the scene of his forced landing on the first day of the Second World War as part of an Advertiser trip in 1990. He recounted disembarking from the Whitley to be greeted by a horde of French farm workers, and shouting “Anglais, Anglais” to avoid the prongs of their raised pitchforks.
Squadron Leader Mitchell, who retained his RAF log book, in which he recorded all his flights, was involved in the creation of the 207 Squadron Memorial at Langar and was a keen supporter of the International Bomber Command Memorial, near Lincoln. He played golf and travelled internationally until he was 88. He is also survived by his sister, Joan Smith, of Edwinstowe.
- Bryan Bettison writes: I was posted to 207 Squadron in September 1962. (J/T B Bettison Air Wireless Fitter). Also posted in that day were J/T J Powell and J/T Snowdon, both Air Radio Fitters. Already there were Cpl S White and SAC J Webb, both Air Wireless Fitters. Many of the names in your list [see via Memories > Aircraft Eras > Valiants] are familiar to me. I was on one deployment I think to Finningley. Some of us spent an hour or so in York.
I was on QRA duty on 26 January 1965 when the disbandment of the Valiant force was announced on the TV evening news. The ground crew had been moved from the airfield to Hangar 3 a month or so previously.
Cpl Langton left the RAF and J/T Powell was posted to Gibraltar before this.
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