- RAF Hendon during the Second World War -
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June 1940 Military mail delivery
Aug 1940 Re-Building
April 1942 Reorganisation
25th March 1943 Reorganisation
18th Jun 1943 Spitfire Lost
1st July 1944 Air Raid
3rd August 1944 Air Raid
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Those known to have served at
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
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There are 1 pages in our library tagged RAF Hendon
Flt Lt Norman Jones DFM. flight eng. 9 Sqd.My father was born on the 12th of December 1921, the only on of farming parents. The farm was just outside the Roman village Ventra Silrum, better known as Caerwent. Dads father was a lay preacher and a follower of John Wesley, he did not approve of dad joining the R.A.F:- He never inherited the farm.
Dad first tried to join the R.A.F after a little girl playing by the Severn tunnel junction was killed by a German plane flying overhead. Nothing else was around at this time. Dad was eventually recalled in February 1941 and was told that he would need to be prepared to fly. He trained as a fitter engineer at R.A.F Cosford and worked on Hampdens, Manchesters and Lancasters. He was then posted to Swinderby in 1942 and left in charge of a major overhaul team working on Lancasters, attending Rolls Royce in Derby to qualify as a test engineer.
In May 1943 due to a shortage of flight engineers, he joined a Lancaster crew to take part in operational rids flying over Germany. Dad’s role as a flight engineer included controlling engine pressures, temperatures and fuel consumption, assisting the pilot and taking over the controls as and when required. He also had to plot a navigational course using the stars, send emergency radio signal and man the gun turrets. Before he earned his Pathfinder badge he was required to carry out the visual bomb aiming.
The crew he flew with consisted of 7 young men:- Pilot squadron leader-Mitchell (who later became group captain,) a Canadian Flight engineer- Norman Jones (dad), Navigator, Bomb aimer, Wireless operator, Mid upper Gunner, Rear gunner-Known as “tail end Charlie,” a very lonely position.
In June 1943, the crew were posted to No. 9 Squadron Bardney Lincoln. The Lancaster was U-Uncle. By then Dad had completed his first operational tour, which consisted of 30 operations flying over enemy territory mainly at night, 7 to 8 hours through search light and enemy flak. From the minute they flew over France they were under attack and often returned to base with a damaged plane.
Dad was then invited to join the Pathfinders along with his Lancaster crew, and joined 83 Pathfinder squadron. The Pathfinders were the Lancaster crews who flew in first, dropping flares to mark targets for the bombers. They circled around and above the target until the last bomber left. Sometimes the Pathfinders had to re-mark the targets before finally flying over and dropping their load. They were the crews that went in first and were the last to leave.
The crew were very close, in fact Mitch, Dad’s pilot, refused to fly without him. They practiced “the corkscrew” to evade enemy fighters. They would complete this move by closing the throttle so that the plane would drop, and then increase the throttle on the climb. This would cause the plane to corkscrew. No mean feat when you consider the size of the Lancaster, 69 feet and 6 inches in length, with a wingspan of 102 feet and 4 large Merlin engines, plus fuel.
On one occasion whilst flying, there was a group captain who was on board as an observer. The rear gunner called out “corkscrew right,” so immediately dad and his pilot carried out this procedure, dad then glanced over his shoulder to see his “special passenger” dangling in the air due to the force of the corkscrew, and then of course when they came out of it he landed rather forcefully! On return to base he gave the crew an excellent report and stated “they will be the crew that survive.” On the worst night 17 planes took off and only 7 came back, a total loss of 70 men from No. 9 squadron.
The D.M.F was awarded to dad in 1944 for courage and coolness of a high order. Prior to D-day he was involved in clearing the beaches ready for the landings. On June the 6th 1944, he took off at 01.45am to bomb La Paenelle; this was the start of the invasion. The following night he flew to Caen and on the 8th to Auranches. When he had completed his 2nd operational tour, dad had to accept being posted as a flying instructor to R.A.F Wigsley on Stirlings. You were considered lucky to complete 5 ops in all, dad completed 60. His next posting was to R.A.F Hendon as a second pilot, where he flew VIPs in Dakotas to visit the concentration camps. He also completed a trip to Lagos in West Africa.
Dad was commissioned in October 1944, and this relatively easy posting was not to last for long. The next posting was training on rescue gliders and a trip to Burma to carry out this work. He served in Mingladon and Akyab, making many friends along the way. Whilst serving in the Far East he became very ill with Dinghue fever and jaundice. Dad still worried bout his friends in Burma to this day because of the political state of the country. My father remained in contact with Mitch until approximately 2 years ago, when he received a goodbye letter. Naturally this was very upsetting. Trying to gather information about dad R.A.F experiences has been an uphill struggle, because for many men of my father’s age it is not an easy subject.
I feel that I must mention here, because so much has been written about bomber command, that on all bombing missions it was instilled in the crews that they must aim for targets, e.g. Hamburg, where the U-boats were held in pen, factories, communications and marshalling yards. Never once did the crew think they were bombing civilians. During this operational tour they flew to Berlin, Hamburg, Nuremburg, Hanover, Munich, Essen, Manheim, Munchen, Gladbach, Remscheid, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Kassel and Milan. Over 55,000 bomber crew lost their lives, sometimes whilt training in this country. I know my father still has nightmares about his wartime service, and you can only begin to imagine what it must have been like night after night, returning to base, going to bed to catch up on sleep and awaken to see empty beds next to you.
My mother also served in the R.A.F and this is where my parents met. They married in Yorkshire in January 1944 then travelled to Chepstow on honeymoon, only to find a telegram waiting calling dad back to service. They went on to have 3 children, myself and a younger sister and brother. Ad continued in the R.A.F until 1946 and remained in the reserve until 1960. He also ran the A.T.C until we moved to West Wales. He now has 6 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren, who are all extremely proud of him!Teresa Lloyd
F/Lt. John Davison 104 SquadronJohn Davison enlisted on 4 October 1940 and was trained as a Wireless Operator/Rear Gunner. He spent a long time training at Hendon, being there during the great blitz. He was then posted to Blackpool and then Yatesbury in Wiltshire. A spell at Stranraer followed on a ground station where he became a first operator and got his first real flying in a Sunderland Flying Boat. He left Stranraer in early 1942 to go back to Yatesbury for a refresher course and then on to Evanton in north Scotland for gunnery training and he was promoted to Sergeant. He travelled from here to his home in Sunderland in August 1942 to be married. The newly married couple travelled to Barnard Castle for their honeymoon. On the first night the town had its first air raid of the war and he was recalled during the second night.
John then went to Chipping Warden for operational training, was ‘crewed up’ and was eventually posted to an overseas unit leaving England on 20 December 1943. He flew to Gibraltar and then on to Malta where he was transferred to No 104 Squadron. During his first operation on Tripoli the plane was badly shot up but returned safely; the realisation that he and his crew may not last long hit home. The squadron moved to Egypt where John contracted jaundice and was admitted to the RAF Hospital for 3 months, rejoining the squadron near Misurata in Tripolitania. He joined a different crew here and flew many operations. They were then moved to Kairounon in Tunisia from where he completed his first tour. The next move was to Italy where he was commissioned Acting Flight Lieutenant, Signals Leader. He completed a second tour of operations there in March 1944.
At the end of hostilities John returned to the UK landing at Liverpool on 1 April 1945. After an Assessment Board he was posted as a Briefing Officer to Transport Command and returned to Hendon for a short time. He then moved to Holmesley South in Hampshire in May 1945, where his wife Lilian was able to join him. John’s final posting was to Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire in September 1945, where he organised the Briefing Section. He was demobbed in March 1946 and returned home to live in Sunderland.
This is from the information written down by my father before he died in 1994.Kathleen Gill
Horace Victor Wells RAF HendonMy grandfather served in the RAF during WWII, although he joined before the war. I believe he was for a time based at Hendon and was involved in raids on Norway, before being posted to South Africa near Bloemfontein.Philip Kiberd
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