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RAF Mildenhall in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- RAF Mildenhall during the Second World War -


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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

RAF Mildenhall



   RAF Mildenhall situated in Suffolk was Headquarters No 3 Group, RAF Bomber Command.

Today the base is still in use, home to the USAAF.

Squadrons stationed at RAF Mildenhall

  • 15 Squadron. April 1943 to 1945
  • 75 Squadron Aug 1942 to Nov 1942
  • 419 Squadron. 15 Dec 41 to 13 Aug 42.
  • No: 622 Squadron. April 1943 to 1945


 

3rd September 1939 

3rd Dec 1939 Ops

10th May 1940 Aircraft Lost

10th May 1940 Aircraft Lost

10th February 1941 Operation Colossus

17th Mar 1941 Aircraft Lost

31st Mar 1941 Aircraft Lost

12th Aug 1941 Aircraft Lost

9th Apr 1942 419 squadron Lancaster lost

April 1943 On the Move

26th Jul 1943 15 Squadron Stirling lost

19th Nov 1943 622 Squadron Stirling lost

January 1944 Lancasters

29th Jan 1944 15 Squadron Lancaster lost

25th Mar 1944 15 Squadron Lancaster lost

21st Apr 1944 15 Squadron Lancaster lost

30th Apr 1944 15 Squadron Lancaster lost

25th May 1944 15 Squadron Lancaster lost

June 1944 Specialist radar

1st Jun 1944 15 Squadron Lancaster lost

8th Jun 1944 15 Squadron Lancaster lost

8th Jun 1944 15 Squadron Lancaster lost

13th Jun 1944 15 Squadron Lancaster lost

13th Jun 1944 15 Squadron Lancaster lost

15th Jun 1944 15 Squadron Lancaster lost

6th Jul 1944 15 Squadron Lancaster lost

20th Jul 1944 582 Squadron Lancaster lost

13th Sep 1944 15 Squadron Lancaster lost

24th Sep 1944 15 Squadron Lancaster lost

4th Dec 1944 15 Squadron Lancaster lost

29 Jan 1945 15 Squadron Lancaster lost

10th May 1945 Transport role


If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.



Those known to have served at

RAF Mildenhall

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Bate Howard Joseph. Flight Sergeant (d.16th Nov 1944)
  • Booth Alfred Stanley. Sgt. (d.16th Nov 1944)
  • Brophey Burt Orval. Sgt. (d.27th March 1944)
  • Clayton Henry. Sgt. (d.16th Nov 1944)
  • Culpan Johnny William Rae. Sgt
  • Dowse .
  • Earley DFM MID.. Bernard. F/Lt. (d.2nd Nov 1944)
  • Franklin James Joseph. Sgt. (d.16th Nov 1944)
  • Gordon-Watkins DSO DFC DFM. William David. Wing Cdr.
  • Grainger Lawrence.
  • Gray Leonard.
  • Hearn Douglas Charles Norman. F/S (d.16th Nov 1944)
  • Jones C. G.. Sgt.
  • Lynn John Christian. P/O (d.18th Aug 1941)
  • Medoza Michael Isaac Archibald. P/O (d.18th Aug 1941)
  • Pugh Thomas Noel. Sgt. (d.16th Jan 1942)
  • R. R. Henderson. P/O
  • Reynolds George Lionel. F/Lt. (d.25th July 1944)
  • Sanders Frederick George. Flt Lt (d.16th Nov 1944)
  • Smith Albert Edward. Cpl.
  • Sterrett K. K.. Sgt.
  • Stevenson Charles. F/O (d.16th Nov 1944)
  • Wilding Don.

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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There are 1 pages in our library tagged RAF Mildenhall

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Wing Cdr. William David Gordon-Watkins DSO DFC DFM 15 Sqd

Wing Cmdr Gordon-Watkins was the Commanding Officer of 15 Sqd. He was shot down on the 16th of November 1944 whilst piloting the lead bomber on a mission to Heinsburg. He was the only member of the crew to survive the incident and was captured and held as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft 1. He had completed over 50 operations and had previously served with 149 sqd.




Flt Lt Frederick George Sanders 15 Sqd (d.16th Nov 1944)

F/L Frederick George Sanders RNZAF was flying as the navigator when Lancaster LS-U of 15 sqd was shot down, although he usually flew as a pilot. He was 22 years old and was the son of Frederick Baldwin Sanders, and of Lillie Sanders (nee Eagle), of Timaru, Canterbury, New Zealand. He is buried in the Rheinberg War Cemetery in grave 5c19, alongside his crew mates.




F/S Douglas Charles Norman Hearn w/op 15 Sqd (d.16th Nov 1944)

I am looking for any information or anyone who may remember my Wifes Uncle, Flight Sergeant (W.op/Air.Gnr) Douglas C N Hearn (Dougie) who was reported killed in action on 16/11/1944 in Lancaster III serial PB137 code LS-U from 15 Squadron.

The other members of the crew who were also reported killed in action were Flt Lt (Nav) F G Sanders RNZAF, F/O (Nav) C Stevenson RNZAF, Sgnt (Bmb. Aim) A S Booth, Sgnt (Flt.Eng) H J Bate, Sgnt (Air.Gnr) J J Franklin, Sgnt H Clayton

One member of the crew did manage to survive Wing Commander (Pilot) W D G Watkins DSO DFC DFM

Rick Whan



Flight Sergeant Howard Joseph Bate 15 Sqd. (d.16th Nov 1944)

Mr. Bate's widow is a friend of mine and she has told me how she never knew what has happened to him. I find that really sad and in this day and age, surely someone knows. She thinks that he was shot down over Heinzburg in Germany on 16th November 1944 and has heard nothing since apart from a letter sent on 26th September 1945 by the Ministry of Defence to tell her he was presumed dead. I have tried the British Legion . The R.A.F. etc and would really like to tell her what happened to him. She is an elderly lady now and I think that before she herself dies, she would find comfort in tracing where he lies.

update:

Howard Bate flew with the crew of Lancaster LS-U of 15 Squadron, serial number PB137. They took off as lead bomber from RAF Mildenhall at 13:35 on the 16th of November 1944 on a mission to Heinsburg. The aircraft was shot down by a German fighter and was set on fire, the aircraft broke up in mid air, only the pilot survived. The crew were:

Wing Commander William David Gordon-Watkins DSO DFC DFM was the pilot. He was the Commanding Officer of 15 Sqd. He had completed over 50 missions and had previously served with 149 sqd. He was captured and held as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft 1. He passed away in 1965.

The rest of the crew are buried in the Rheinberg War Cemetery:

  • Sgt Howard Joseph Bate
  • F/O C.Stevenson RNZAF
  • F/Lt F.G.Sanders RNZAF
  • Sgt A.S.Booth
  • Sgt J.J.Franklin
  • Sgt H.Clayton
  • F/S Douglas C.N.Hearn

Carol Ellen Harper



Sgt Johnny William Rae "Woofer" Culpan 149 Squadron

My Dad, Johnny Cuplan, flew in Wellington Bombers. He was posted to No. 20 O.T.U. Lossiemouth from 24/4/1941 to 22/5/1941. From there he was posted to 149 Squadron at RAF Mildenhall from 4/6/1941 until his Wellington IC serial X9704 code OJ-B took off from RAF Mildenhall at 2329 on 18/19.08.41 on Ops to Duisburg and was shot down by a night fighter which fatally wounded P/O Mendoza and crashed at Haelen (Limbourgh) 5km NW of Roermond Holland. Sadly two of dad's crew did not survive : 82988 P.O. (Air Gnr) Michael Isaac Archibald Mendoza of Chailey, Sussex and 89386 P.O. John Christian Lynn of Haslemere, Surrey. The rest of the crew were taken P.O.W. : J/3755 P/O R.R. Henderson RCAF, POW No. 3728 Stalag Luft L3 Sagan and Belaria; 922752 Sgt C.G. Jones POW No. 23612 Stalag 357; 1250142 Sgt K.K. Sterrett POW No. 23613

Just prior to leaving NZ, Johnny, like all young airmen training to go to War, was doing his best to get his flying hours up. Sent up solo by an instructor to do just so, he was seen by another instructor barnstorming a garden party in Christchurch. Hence Johnny had the somewhat dubious title of being the first pilot in NZ considered for a court marshall, but due to the dior need for as many pilots as possible he was put to work in the kitchens peeling potatoes, told that the best he could hope for was to be made a Sgt.

Johnny (P.O.W. 23615) was a POW in Stalag Luft 1 Barth, Stalag Luft L3 Sagan, Belaria Stalag Luft L6 Heyderkrug. A very keen and capable rugby player, he was the NZ Rugby Skipper at Heyderkrug. Many of days were taken up with kicking a rugby ball within the compound. Kicking it very carefully, as if it did happen to land outside the compound everyone was sent back to their huts and one person chosen to retrieve the ball under the eagle eye of an armed guard. Being mindful of this, Johnny developed a very effective chip kick which he used effectively time and time again against oponents. One such oponent, a South African P.O.W. took note of this chip kick and asked Johnny to teach him the art of the chip kick and spent much of his time with Johnny honing his kicking skills. On return to NZ, Johnny and a few of his POW mates were seated in Eden Park watching the BOKS play the All Blacks. It was a low scoring game and 80 minutes was just about up - the score was equal.....when a penalty was given to the BOKS. The kick was spot on and the BOKs won much to the chagrin of the NZ rugby mad crowd. Yes, the BOK who kicked the penalty was the South African POW Johnny had taught to kick in camp....and that day Johnny was never allowed to forget, thanks to his POW mates, that he was the reason The All Blacks had lost

Sue Dixon



P/O John Christian Lynn pilot 149 Sqd. (d.18th Aug 1941)

John Lynn lost his life on Ops to Duisburg when his Wellington was shot down by a night fighter and crashed at Haelen in Holland. He is in Jonkerbos War Cemetery near Nijmegen in Holland, he was 31 years old and was married.




P/O Michael Isaac Archibald Medoza air gunner. 149 Sqd. (d.18th Aug 1941)

Michael Mendoza was fatally wounded on Ops to Duisburg when his Wellington was shot down by a night fighter and crashed at Haelen in Holland. He is in Jonkerbos War Cemetery near Nijmegen in Holland, he was 36 years old and was married.




P/O R. Henderson R. 149 Sqd.

P/O Henderson was taken POW when his Wellington was shot down by a night fighter whilst on Ops to Duisburg, it crashed at Haelen in Holland.




Sgt. C. G. Jones 149 Sqd.

Sgt Jones was taken POW when his Wellington was shot down by a night fighter whilst on Ops to Duisburg, it crashed at Haelen in Holland.




Sgt. K. K. Sterrett 149 Sqd.

Sgt Sterrett was taken POW when his Wellington was shot down by a night fighter whilst on Ops to Duisburg, it crashed at Haelen in Holland.




Sgt. Thomas Noel Pugh 419 Sqdn. (d.16th Jan 1942)

I have only been able to find details of my Uncle Tom on the CWGC website, I would love to learn more if anyone can help. He had only been married a short time and had no children, his wife Olive died 6 months after learning of his death.

Editor's Note: Tom was flying in Wellington Z1145 VR-A which took off from RAF Mildenhall at 18:10 on the 15th of Januray 1942. The Aircraft was severely battle damaged during the raid on Hamburg and was returning to base when both engines failed due to lack of fuel. The Wellington ditched at 02:10 on the 16th of Jan 1942 in the sea off Spurn Head. Two survivors, Sgt Cox and Sgt Lucas were picked up two hours later and taken to Grimsby Naval Hospital suffering from minor cuts and abrasions. The rest of the crew were lost at sea and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

The crew were:

  • P/O T.G.Cottier RCAF
  • Sgt L.C.Powell RCAF
  • Sgt A.E.Cox RAF
  • Sgt T.N.Pugh RCAF
  • P/O C.H.Lomas RCAF
  • Sgt J.A.H.Lucas RAF

Angela Dauria



Sgt. Burt Orval Brophey 15 Squadron (d.27th March 1944)

My uncle was a rear gunner in a Lancaster MK1 Bomber with the 15 Sqaudron flying out of Mildenhall. He was believed to have been killed over Essen Germany on a night raid. He only needed 2 more sorties to finish tour and he would have come home.

If anyone has any information on how I might find out where I could collect flight logs of his missions that would helpful.

Dave Brophey



Leonard Gray

My Grandad Leonard Gray was in the RAF. On the back of one picture it had written Mildenhall 1944.

Paul Bullivant



F/Lt. George Lionel Reynolds 15 Sdqn. (d.25th July 1944)

F/Lt. George Reynolds was stationed at RAF Mildenhall and on the night of 24/25th July 1944 the aircraft he was piloting, a Lancaster, failed to return from a bombing mission. He and his crew all perished.

Richard Owen



Cpl. Albert Edward Smith 419 Squadron

I joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1940 age 18. I first trained as a Fitter IIE and was promoted to Corporal in April 1941. In December 1941 I was posted to RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk to work with the Royal Canadian Air Force, Squadron 419. I took charge of Wellington “H Harry” and its ground crew early in January 1942.

The foundation of 419 was set up by British ground staff but all aircrew were RCAF. Over the first few months of 1942 the British members were gradually replaced by Canadian ground crew and so I was posted on in June 1942. During my 6 months of service in charge of “H Harry” the aircraft was never lost. The last ops in which I was involved, and in which 419 fully participated, were the first two “1000 bomber” mass attacks. These occurred between May and early June 1942 with the first target being Cologne.

I took every opportunity to fly with the aircraft on air tests, cross-country practice flights etc. I kept a logbook which recorded some 40 hours and was signed by Squadron Leader Turner (I/C “A” flight). Unfortunately the log book was lost in the East Coast Flood of January 1953, I can no longer at 91 years of age recall the names of ‘H Harry’ air crews. However I do recall and remember well Wing Commander “Moose “ Fulton and Squadron Leader Turner, both of whom I flew with. Looking back on those days when I was quite prepared to join the aircraft on air tests etc (minus parachute!), I realise now that I must have convinced the ‘ops’ aircrew that their aircraft was well maintained and thoroughly reliable.

Because of snowfall in early ’42, air craft and ground crews were moved temporarily to the satellite airfield with concrete runway at Lakenheath. Our accommodation was primitive. Water supply to our huts was frozen, hence we collected snow and melted it for drinking and washing.

Some events recalled... One night on return from an operation the rear gunner failed to come out of ‘H Harry’. His turret was facing sideways with the doors open. A search was made in case he had fallen out on landing but there was no sign. He turned up later in the morning. Apparently as they crossed the British coast the skipper had said something like ‘Thank God we are safe if we have to bale out’. All the gunner heard was ‘bale out’ and he did. Landing in East Anglia he eventually located a farmhouse, was given a good breakfast and returned to base. Unfortunately I no longer remember his name.

One morning at Lakenheath, ‘H Harry’ having just been serviced, I was sitting in the pilot’s seat when a Wellington came over low and landed. As it did something hit and smashed the cockpit Perspex close to my head. I realised the damage was caused by the lead weight on the end of the trailing aerial which was normally wound in before landing. It turned out that the Wellington crew had made an emergency landing because their tail gunner was badly wounded and unconscious. Under the circumstances the damage to ‘H Harry’ was not mentioned.

One of the ground crew was replaced by a Canadian rigger. One morning in the aircraft he had idly fiddled with the ‘Very’ signal-pistol. Unaware that it was loaded he discharged it and set fire to the front of ‘H Harry’. Fortunately the burning fabric was rapidly dealt with but the damage took several days to repair.

Photos of ‘Q Queenie’ appeared to the war time public and in many books, then and since, about wartime aircraft. The series of photos of ‘Q Queenie’ in flight were taken by Charles Brown, an official photographer, who was on board ‘H Harry’ at the time. I accompanied Mr Brown that day and helped steady him and the bulky camera as he took the shots. The skipper’s manoeuvres around ‘Q Queenie’ resulted in some excellent images. Incidentally, in one of the books on wartime aircraft there is a photo of Squadron Leader Turner and the aircrew lined up in front of ‘H Harry’. One of my flight mechanics also appears on the port wing. The photo is referenced as courtesy of Public Archives of Canada.

The Mark 1c Wellingtons were replaced in early Spring ’42 by the Mark 3. The first replacement Mark 3 was collected from a maintenance Unit in SW Scotland by Squadron Leader Turner. Because I had completed a two week course at Bristol on the Hercules engine and the Rotol electric propeller, Squadron Leader Turner took me with him and we were dropped off at the M.U. by one of our aircraft. I was wearing a Canadian overall (which I still have) and he told me to pocket my forage cap and we will all have lunch together in the M.U. Officers’ Mess. We then flew the Mark 3 back to Mildenhall.

One night I was knocked down by ‘H Harry’. I was leading the aircraft to its parking place after it landed from an op. The method was to lead in front with a torch in each hand, pointing back to the aircraft. Both the pilot and I were blinded by a sudden brilliant light aimed at us. I stopped quicker than the aircraft hence was knocked down under the fuselage rather than decapitated by one of the propellers. The pilot was Wing Commander Fulton in charge of ‘H Harry’ to lead that night’s 419 operation. In the morning he dealt with the fire crew who had stupidly operated their search light from their vehicle.

Early in ’42 the second pilot was withdrawn from the aircrews with the result that many skippers made sure that at least one of his crew was capable of taking over if vital. Practice was carried out by the aircrew during air-tests. On several occasions I too was allowed to take over the controls and on another occasion I was instructed and allowed (unofficially) by the skipper to taxi the aircraft.

As it is now 2015 there are probably records already of some of the events I have mentioned but whatever is known about the early years of 419, it is a pleasure to share my memories with you.

Brief wartime career info: in 1942 I was posted from Mildenhall to RAF Orfordness, working as a technician for Civil Servant Scientific Officers (Bomb Ballistics & Firing Trails) at Orfordness Research Station. In 1944 commissioned and served in Italy and the Middle East. Commanding Officer of a unit in Palestine. In 1946 I was released from RAF, joined Orfordness Research Station. Also joined RAFVR (T) as Flight Luitenant officer and glider pilot instructor for ATC cadets (Air Training Corp, Cadets).

Anne Smith



Don Wilding

I served in the RAF from 1943 until 1947, first as an electrician, then as a radar/mechanic/air in Bomber Command, then Transport Command. My main stations were at Tuddenham, Mildenhall, Upwood and Wymeswold. I was, at one time, with a Canadian squadron.

Don Wilding



Lawrence "Larry" Grainger

Does anyone know what happened to Larry/Lawrence Grainger? He was a bomb aimer in the Canadian Air Force in WWII, based for a time in either Lakenheath or Mildenhall. He had a beautiful girlfriend called Stella.

Michelle Titchen



Dowse

Looking for Dowse from USAF Sculthorpe, Lakenheath or Mildenhall 1944/45 or anyone who remembers Elsie Moulton from King's Lynn, Norfolk.

Vivienne Allen



F/Lt. Bernard Earley DFM MID. 15 Squadron. (d.2nd Nov 1944)

Bernard Earley was the pilot of a Lancaster which was brought down over Erp, Holland on 2nd November 1944.

Update: He was made a flight sergeant on 19.10.1942 and that he was awarded the DFM on 2.11.1944 while serving in 101 Squadron. Flying Officer Bernard Earley DFM, MID, was with 15 Sqdn when the Lancaster he was piloting was in collision with another 15 Sqdn aircraft on 2/11/44 whilst on operations to Homberg. Lancaster I HK612 (LS-L) took off from RAF Mildenhall at 11.30 hours on a daylight raid on Homberg oil plant. The aircraft collided with Lancaster III PB115 (LS-W). Those who died are buried in Erp Roman Catholic Cemetery. They are:

  • F/Lt B. Earley, DFM, MID (pilot)
  • F/O J.E. Campbell (navigator)
  • F/O F.J. Frearson (wop/airgunner)
  • Sgt W. Hunter (flight engineer)
  • P/O G.W. Lilley (airbomber)
  • P/O A.A. Markovitch (flight engineer)
  • W/O G.W. Morris (airgunner)
  • F/Sgt P. Woollard (airgunner)

Jackie Wright







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