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

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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

RAF Snaith

   Situated seven miles south-west of Goole, RAF Snaith (Pollington) was built in 1940. The airfield was assigned to No. 1 Group and No. 150 Squadron were the first to arrive in flyings Wellingtons in July 1941. In October 1942 the station was handed over to No. 4 Group. No. 51 Squadron arrived and flew from Snaith right up until the end of the war flying 264 raids and losing 148 aircraft. The last No. 4 Group bombing operation took place on April 25, 1945. A total of 205 bombers were lost from Snaith.

The airfield closed in the 1950's and in the 1970s, the M62 motorway link between the Midlands and the Humber bridge sliced through the northern part of the flying field south of Snaith itself. Much still remains including the MT sheds and the Sergeants' Mess still complete with its brick fireplace.

Squadrons stationed at Snaith

  • No 150 Squadron July 1941 to Oct 1942
  • No. 51 Squadron Oct 1942 to May 1945
  • No 578 Squadron. Jan 1944 to Feb 1944


 Photographs from RAF Snaith

 History of RAF Snaith

14th Aug 1941 150 Squadron Wellington lost

22nd Aug 1941 Aircraft Lost

24th Oct 1941 Aircraft Lost

14th Dec 1941 Aircraft Lost

27th Oct 1942 

28th Jan 1943 51 Squadron Halifax lost

19th June 1943 Explosion

10th Aug 1943 15 Squadron Wellington lost

21st Nov 1943 Aircraft Lost

14th Jan 1944 Detachment

21st Jan 1944 Ops

22nd January 1944 51 Squadron Halifax lost

6th June 1944 

30th June 1944 Aircraft Lost

5th January 1945 Ops

14th Jan 1945  Aircraft Lost

21st Mar 1945 51 Squadron Halifax lost

20th April 1945 Ops

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

Those known to have served at

RAF Snaith

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

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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William Marquis 227 Squadron / 102 Squadron (d.1945/11/08)

I have been researching my family history and have obtained the personnel records for my half-brother William Marquis.

The record shows that he was assigned to 227 Squadron on 12th April 1945 after discharge and appointment to RAF VR. There is a further entry for 227 Squadron dated 18th June 1945 which is some 10 days after 227 Squadron either moved from RAF Strubby or was disbanded. The next entry is at RAF Snaith dated 17th September 1945 followed by what seems to be an entry for 102 Squadron dated 20th or possibly 26th September 1945. He was with 102 Squadron based at RAF Bassingbourn when he was killed on active service at Abington Piggotts on 08/11/1945 when his plane crashed shortly after take off.

I know it is a long shot but any information anyone may have on William would be appreciated.

Keith Marquis

Harold Arthur Groves 51 Squadron

I am trying to trace any information about my father, Harold Arthur Groves, who was based at Snaith with 51 Squadron during the 39-45 conflict. I would be most grateful if anyone could furnish me with information as I seem to be drawing a blank. My father never spoke to me about what he did in the war as most airmen did, so it is very difficult to gain such information.

Do any of you have any history or photos of Snaith or any records of raids etc? He once told me he was based in the Faroe islands for a short time with the Short Sunderland flying boats, that is all I know of his exploits.

Malcolm Groves

Harold Arthur Groves 51 Squadron

I am trying to trace any information about my father, Harold Arthur Groves, who was based at Snaith with 51 Squadron during the 39-45 conflict. I would be most grateful if anyone could furnish me with information as I seem to be drawing a blank. My father never spoke to me about what he did in the war as most airmen did, so it is very difficult to gain such information.

Do any of you have any history or photos of Snaith or any records of raids etc? He once told me he was based in the Faroe islands for a short time with the Short Sunderland flying boats, that is all I know of his exploits.

Malcolm Groves

WO II Douglas Wilson Milliken 51 Sqd. (d.4th Dec 1943)

I am the nephew of Doug Milliken. If anyone knew of Doug or any of his crew while at Snaith squadron 51 from July to Dec 1943 I would love to hear from you. Prior to squadron 51 he was stationed at 1663 heavy conversion unit in Rufforth and prior to that 10 OTU in Abingdon then St. Eval. While at Snaith their Halifax, HR732, was lost without trace on the Leipzig raid of Dec 4 1943. All are memorialized at Runnymede.

The crew were;

  • P/O A.J.Salvage
  • Sgt W.W.B.Hamilton
  • P/O F.J.Baker
  • F/S I.G.Davies
  • Sgt M.Hampson
  • Sgt R.J.Edwards
  • F/S D.W.Milliken RCAF
During the crews brief time together Doug was the best man for the marriages of both Auther Salvage and Maurice Hampson. Doug was engaged at the time of his death and although his fiancée returned the ring to my grandmother we have no idea who she was.

Rodger Milliken

Flt Sgt. Eric Cope 51 Sqd

My neighbour, Eric Cope, flew from Snaith from 1943 onwards till demob. He flew in Halifax MK2, M-HC Champagne Charlie on numerous missions he was the wireless operator.

A Peck

Sgt. Ronald Arthur Bramley Navigator 150 Squadron (d.8th Nov 1941)

My Great Uncle, Ronald Arthur Bramley was a Navigator in 150 Squadron 150 during the Second World War. He was shot down over the Dutch coast on the night of the 8th of November 1941. Apparently weather conditions were terrible and many crews were lost that night. They flew from Snaith Airbase and were heading for Mannheim. Unfortunatly, he was never found but two of his crew are buried in Amsterdam. Rest in peace.

This is all the infomation I could gain from my Granddad. If anyone can help with more infomation I would be grateful. Are there any photos of 150 Squadron?

Nikki Burke

Sgt Donald Thomsett RAF Snaith 51 Sqn

Donald Thomsett was my Grandad. He flew as an RAF gunner during the whole of the war, moving from varying heavy bombers including the Wellington but settled for the majority of the war as a rear gunner in Halifax bombers based at RAF Snaith with 51 Sqn. My Grandad lasted until January of 1945 before being shot down during a night raid on Hannover. His story was one he hardly ever spoke of and he never really got over his experiences til the day he died. Towards the end of his life he began to talk more and more about the war, eventually dying of cancer in 2000. Donald was on a night bombing mission over Hannover which took place on the night of the 5th of January 1945. He remembered sitting in the rear turret as usual when out of the darkness, and in heavy flak, he saw a German fighter plane approach from the rear and slightly above his plane. He managed to fire on it and thought he had shot it down as it turned away very quickly and looked to be out of control.

Next, another fighter appeared to the rear and slightly below the plane. Don moved the guns downwards and saw the pilots face illuminated by the lights on his German instrument panel. The guns wouldn't reach to a position to fire on the fighter plane. As the Halifax was being engaged, the pilot had gone into a wide sweeping manouvre to make attack from the fighter more difficult - a sort of large u shape, rolling the controls right, then left. Don watched as the German fighter continued to match the Halifax and flew underneath it. He heard a loud explosion and felt the plane shudder, then it changed direction steeply heading towards the ground.

My Grandad said he was supposed to keep his parachute in the turret with him but always slung it just into the bulk inside the fusilage. The angle of the plane meant he thought it would have slid down the length of the plane out of his reach, but it had snagged on something and he put his hand straight on it. Realising that the plane was going to crash he pressed for the turret to turn to bail out but found the hydraulics had failed (probably something to do with the explosion he thought?) so had to turn it by hand until he could get out.

He landed on the roof of a house and fell into the garden, badly spraining his ankle. There was snow everywhere and it was freezing. Local residents came out and, possibly scared, started to beat him with whatever they could get their hands on - brooms, sticks, feet - until some soldiers arrived and took him to a local police station, then marched him to Dulag.

They had removed his flying boots and made him limp in the snow with his damaged ankle. My Grandad said he remembered this taking a couple of days, but thinks there was some transport at some point too. Along the route to Dulag he said he saw the blodies of allied airmen hung on lamposts, killed by the local populace, or German soldiers. At Dulag interrogation centre he was hung up by his hands and all his possessions taken from him. He was tortured with a knife being run up and down his back - he had scars on his back that I remember seeing, long lines. - and was kept in solitary for a couple of weeks. By that time he had frostbite on his feet and the Germans repeatedly made the room very hot, then cold in an attempt to extract information from him. He was also put into a room with another British airman to live for a couple of days. This airman then told the Germans all the things that my Grandad hadn't - like where he lived, the name of my grandmother, etc. He must have been some sort of double agent my Grandad thought. He was taken to a train station and loaded into large cattle trucks with lots of other POWs. There they spent a couple of days including one frightening night in Berlin station, locked in their trucks as the allies bombed Berlin. He intially was taken to Sagan camp, but was soon transferred out to what he called Stalag luft 3b. He spent from February until May 1945 there and witnessed some horrific things, including the shooting of an attempted escapee. He also mentioned that the Russian POWs, who were kept next door, were treated "like dogs". In May, and with the camp on the verge of being over-run by Soviet troops, my Grandad, an American airman and a Canadian airman, escaped by going over the wire and running into the countryside. They happened on a car that had been disabled on purpose and got it going, driving across Germany. They had no food. He told me they managed to meet a German family in a small village who offered them food and somewhere to stay. It was while staying there that the Soviet troops came into the area. My Grandad and his two friends hid in the cellar of the German family's house as they were unsure of what the intention of the soldiers was and I remember him telling me that he witnessed "chinese looking men coming into the cellar and eating raw sugar out of sacks with their bare hands like they hadn't been fed for weeks." When the Soviet troops left, they made their way towards the west and eventually were picked up by some American troops in the area surrounding Berlin in early June (or late May). Returning to England, my Grandad was silent. He learned that he was the only survivor from his plane that night and blamed himself for the deaths of his friends because he failed to shoot down the second fighter that night. pHe walked with a slight limp for the rest of his life, received no counselling, compensation, or anything to help him get over what he had seen.

But the story does have a ending of sorts. In his seventies, a historian got in touch with my Grandad and via some research found the name of the German pilot who had claimed the "kill" of my Grandad's plane; one Hermann Greiner. Herr Greiner was still alive. He was contacted by the historian and eventually, after some soul searching and correspondence, my Grandad went over to Germany to meet him. Hermann remembered that night, and told my Grandad that an experimental type of gun was on his night fighter (It pointed upwards from behind the cockpit) meaning that there was nothing my Grandad could have done to save his friends. He flew under the Halifax and merely shot up into the fuel tanks as it lumbered about its defensive manouvres.

My Grandad was able to meet the face he had seen 50 years previously on that fateful night when his life changed forever. He bore no grudge and Herr Greiner gave him his Iron Cross, with Oak Leaf, medal as a token of their friendship and in reconcilliation. Hermann Greiner had around 50 "kills" as a night fighter ace and was one of the luftwaffes "stars".

My Grandad died in 2000 and his ashes were scattered at the memorial site of his old, now long forgotten, RAF base at Pollington, Yorkshire. The war had affected the rest of his life and if it hadn't been for his courage and bravery I wouldn't even be writing this, as his young wife (My Grandmother) gave birth to my father a year after he got home.

Ben Thomsett

P/O Alan Leach 51 Squadron (d.5th Jan 1945)

Alan Leach was born in Coppull in 1921, the son of Sylvester and Emma. He was brother to Fred, well known in the village. He was a Pilot Officer in the RAF Volunteer Reserve at the age of 19 and a member of 51 squadron.

The aircraft he was flying on 5th January 1945 was a Halifax LV 952, MH – F. It took off from RAF Snaith at 16.47 hours, detailed to bomb Hannover, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take-off and it failed to return to base. It was shot down at 19.22 by Luftwaffe pilot Georg-Hermann Greiner, and crashed 19.27 at Leinhausen- Soeckern. He and five of the crew were killed and are buried in Hannover War Cemetery, Niedersachsen, Germany.

The Crew were:

  • P/O A. Leach (Pilot)
  • Sgt P Neale (Flight Engineer)
  • F/Sgt J S Staples (Navigator)
  • Flt Sgt W G Bowen (Air Bomber)
  • P/O L A Wilson RAAF (Wireless Operator)
  • F/Sgt W M Burton (Air Gunner)
  • Sgt D Ef F Tomsett (Air Gunner)
The only surviving crew member was Sgt Thomsett (Air Gunner)

Alan Leach

Wilf Matthews 51 Squadron

Our crew was stationed with 51 squadron on three separate occasions, as we had three different skippers & two different bomb-aimers, which meant going back to con-unit for the necessary training with these chaps. We did our christening on the Nuremberg trip of 30 March '44, and made a forced landing at Wing (Otu) near Leighton Buzzard, Beds. After which our skipper, F/lt Joe Pawell, who was an American, flying in the RCAF, went to hospital in London with an ulcer, and after that first visit we didn't see him again.

Back on the squadron, we did 'spare bod' trips, during which we lost our bomb aimer, Bob Burgum, on a raid near Aachen. we went back to 'con unit', where we crewed up with new Skipper, F/o Danny King, RAAF. and bomb-aimer 'Grem' Emlyn-Jones. Danny had been with 77 Sdn, where we understand, he pranged on take-off with a bomb-load and was awarded an M.I.D. that he never talked of, but he did wear the emblem. Later on, we met one of his previous gunners, a F/sgt 'Herby' Holroyd.

"Grem' came to us from a crew who had pranged at Garrowby Hill, where he has since erected a memorial to them. I remembered one of his gunners from my training days, a nice guy named Sid Booker. Grem and I are in fairly regular contact. We only did five trips with Danny, and on the last one he had a break-down, 17/7/44, was taken off flying 'heavies', and the last we knew, was on single -engined planes.

Back to con-unit where we teamed up with F/O Bob Gray, and at the end of his training we returned to Snaith to do a 'Bull's- eye' to Overflakee on 17/9/44, after which we carried on the usual squadron life up to the end of the war. The only change being that the squadron moved from Snaith to Leconfield, to do the 'final trip' to Wangerooge on 25/4/45. I am fortunate to still have my log-book and a stack of memories. I'm also grateful to my daughter, who is always ready for my stories, and who found this web-site.

Wilf Matthews

P/O Alan Leach 51 Squadron (d.5th Jan 1945)

Alan Leach was born in Coppull 25th March 1921 the son of Sylvester and Emma. He was brother to Fred, well known in the village. He was a Pilot Officer in the RAF Volunteer Reserve at the age of 19 and a member of 51 Squadron.

The aircraft he was flying on 5th January 1945 was a Halifax. It took off from RAF Snaith at 16.47 hours, detailed to bomb Hannover, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take-off and it failed to return to base. It was shot down at 19.22 by Luftwaffe pilot Georg-Hermann Greiner, it crashed 19.27 at Leinhausen- Soeckern. He and five of the crew were killed and are buried in Hannover War Cemetery, Niedersachsen, Germany.

Aircraft Type: Halifax. Serial number: LV 952. Radio call sign: MH – F. Unit: Att 51 Sqd RAF

The crew were:

  • RAF PO 185864 Captain A. Leach (Pilot)
  • RAF Sgt P Neale (Flight Engineer)
  • RAF Flt Sgt J S Staples (Navigator)
  • RAF Flt Sgt W G Bowen (Air Bomber)
  • RAAF 403167 PO Wilson L A (Wireless Operator Air)
  • RAF Flt Sgt W M Burton (Air Gunner)
  • RAF Sgt D E F Thomsett (Air Gunner)- Survived the crash.
Alan Leach

F/Sgt Donald Edward Thomsett 51 Squadron

My Grandad, Donald Thomsett was POW in Stalag 3a for the last 4 or 5 months of the war. He was the rear gunner in a Halifax bomber flying out of RAF Snaith/Pollington. He'd been an RAF gunner for all the war on varying aircraft - Wellingtons and Halifax's mostly. He'd flown God knows how many missions from 1940 onwards!

He remembers being shot down over Hanover on a night raid. That night he was rear gunner in the plane and told me that two German night fighters approached the plane from the rear, one high and one below. He managed to shoot at the higher aircraft and said he either shot it down, or it broke away because my grandad thought he was getting pretty good hits on it. By the time he got his guns to the floor he saw the face of the other German pilot illuminated by his instrument panel below him. Bit corny maybe, but he swore on it. After that, the German plane flew under the Halifax (which was doing an evasive manouvre). There was an explosion and the plane started heading for the ground. The comms had gone and so had the hydraulics, so grandad had to manually wind the turret round so he could bale out.

He landed on the roof of a house and sprained his ankle while falling into the garden below. The local residents came out and beat him with pieces of wood, then the SS arrived and took him through the streets. They took off his flying boots and coat and made him walk through the snow bare foot. While walking he saw the bodies of other airmen hung from lamp posts, he said they looked as if they had been hung by the locals after landing.

They took him to the Dulag and interrogated him and strung him up and ran a knife down his back - he still had the deep long scars right up to his death. He had frostbite on his feet so they made the room alternitively hot and cold to make it worse. They also put another English prisoner in the room with him. Grandad wasn't telling them anything in interrogation, but he spoke with the room mate. It turned out that the room mate was a German plant and he told them everything he had been told by my grandad, where he was from, his girlfriend's name.

Eventually, via being cattle trucked in Berlin station while the Allies were bombing Berlin - something he said the Nazis thought was very funny. If the Allies bombed their own men trapped in cattle trucks in the station - he was taken first to Sargen, then to Camp 3a.

He was there when the Russians advanced on the camp. He said the german guards were a bit like "dad's army" and he bore no ill will towards them, even though they had little food. He remembers the Russian prisoners being treated like animals in a seperate compound. Eventually he escaped from the camp by going over the wire with a Canadian and an American. They found an old beat up car, got it going, then drove it across Germany westwards. A German family helped them out and housed/fed them for a few days in a little village. One day the Russians came to the village and my grandad hid in the cellar of the house. He remembered seeing "people looking like really dirty Chinese people" coming into the cellar and eating raw sugar with their bare hands like they were starving. The Russian soldiers took the family's 11 year old girl into the woods and she was never seen again. They didn't discover my grandad or his two friends.

Eventually they made it to just outside Berlin and literally walked into the city. He was treated well by the Americans and given food and fags and some money. He arrived back in the UK about three weeks later and couldn't even speak for weeks. The war stayed with him for the rest of his life. But it wasn't the end.

Nearly 50 years later a local historian had found out who had shot down my grandad that night (he had been the only one of his crew in the Halifax to survive) and arranged for the two of them to write to each other. It turned out that the German pilot - Herman Greiner - was a WW2 ace. He remembered that night and was able to tell my grandad how his plane was shot down (some kind of upward pointing gun that the night fighter had just had installed), and my grandad didn't blame himself as much for the death of his 6 friends that night. Herman gave his Iron Cross with Oakleaf, medal to my grandad as a token of his sorrow and apology. They met in Germany and shook hands after 50 years. Grandad died of cancer a couple of years later, he hardly ever talked about it all, despite me writing this, and only opened up at all towards the end. That war destroyed him. But he was brave as anyone I've ever met.

Ben Thomsett

Flt Lt. Arthur Hebblethwaite DFC & Bar. 51 Sqd.

My brother, the late Flt.Lt 136499 Arthur Hebblethwaite DFC and Bar, served with 51 Squadron. Arthur was a wireless operator (air gunner) and moved onto pathfinders before being shot down in 1945 and imprisoned in Stalag Luft 3.

Arthur is middle row centre, date and names of others not known. I assume that the location of both photos is at Snaith

Betty Mackie

George Walter James Sibley

My father, George Walter James Sibley, was stationed at Snaith in 1941 and told us that he had been a rear gunner in a Wellington Bomber. The records I have from the RAF are extremely sketchy he was posted there in September 1941 until released in 1942 after injury of some form. He told us that his bomber had been hit and limped back to base, he had been wounded which ultimately resulted in his release to GIII reserve status. Can anyone fill in any details?

Keith Sibley

Sgt. Edward Frederick Kinerman 51 Sqd (d.13th May 1943)

My cousin, Edward Frederick Kinerman was a Flight Engineer. He was born in Rochford, Essex in 1922. His father was Frederick Keehnemund, the name was changed before the first World War started as Frederick's father was born in Essen in Germany.

Edward joined the RAF.V.R. sometime in the early 1940s. I don't know all the history but he became a Flt Eng. Sgt. He flew many missions over Germany but his luck was to run out. He was attached to 51 squadron at Snaith, Yorkshire. He and the other 6 crew took off in their Halifax Bomber on the night of the 12th of May 1943 and some how on the way over Holland they got lost and separated from the rest of the flight. They were on their own when a German ME109 night fighter found them and shot them down. The Halifax went into a spin and none of the crew were able to bail out all died on impact. The plane still had its bombs on board when it crashed and the explosions went on for 2 hours or so, locals said. The bodys were picked up by the Germans and buried in the Dutch grave yard in Haringen. He was only 21 years old. The Germans collected the remains of the Halifax for salvage.

Ronald Kinerman

Sgt. Montague Lewis 150 Squadron (d.14th Dec 1941)

Sergeant Lewis was my aunt's first husband. He crash landed at Snaith in a Wellington on 14th of December 1941 during an air test. My mother tells me he had to be cut from the wreckage and died of his injuries about a week later. The family story is that he was towing a target when he was shot down, a job given to him and his crew because they had flown so many sorties and were about to go on leave. I'm hoping to clarify this from his service record but if anybody has further detail I would be most grateful.


Flt.Lt. James Arthur Neve DFC. 109 Squadron

My father James Arthur Neve DFC joined 109 Squadron at Little Staughton in March 1945. He was a navigator. He had already completed 28 operations in 1943-4 on Halifaxes with 51 Squadron at Snaith.

At 109 Squadron his pilot was F/O John McIntosh DFC and Bar. They completed 16 operations including targets at Bremen, Weimar, Berlin, Dessau, Paderborn and Eggebeck (the last operation of the war). They also took part in several missions for operation 'Manna' marking aiming points for dropping supplies to the Dutch. My father went on one operation on a Lancaster during Operation Dodge to Italy to bring back servicemen who could not return easily due to transport hold-ups.

My father's Authorisation of Release for Demobilisation was 3 November 1945 and his effective date of release was 6 January 1946. After the war he retrained as a teacher and ended up as the Headmaster of Sandhurst Primary School in Kent. He married Staff Nurse Eileen Stubbs in May 1947 having met her at a dance near Little Staughton in May 1945. Eileen was a nurse at The Royal Free Hospital in London and had been relocated with other nurses and patients to Arlesey in Bedfordshire after bombing damaged part of the Royal Free. They had a daughter, Hilary in 1948 and a son, James in 1957.

Jamie Neve

W/O. Douglas Sidney Joseph Norton 51 Squadron (d.13th March 1945)

My granddad, Warrant Officer Douglas Sidney Joseph Norton flew with 51 squadron at RAF Snaith between October 1944 and March 1945.

The above photo was supposedly taken before their final operation on 13/03/1945. My granddad is front row on the right - he was the Wireless Operator. The only other person I can identify is the Bomb Aimer F/Sgt W R Homewood back row second from right. The others are:

  • F/O B.J. Murray DFC- Pilot,
  • P/O E.V. Grinter DFC - Navigator,
  • Sgt R Stephenson - Flight Engineer,
  • Sgt JHC Hoggan - M/U Gunner,
  • Sgt JP Ryan DFM - Rear Gunner.
If any one recognises anyone please contact me.

Kevin Norton

Sgt. Joseph Frank Whittaker 150 Squadron (d.30th Jul 1944)

Susan Hamel

Eric Cope RAF Snaith

Eric Cope flew Halifaxes out of RAF Snaith during WWII. He was a WOP/Navigator.

Alan J Peck

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