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

The Wartime Memories Project

- RAF Tholthorpe during the Second World War -

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RAF Tholthorpe

   RAF Tholthorpe is situated in North Yorkshire, 12 miles north-west of the centre of York. Close to the main east coast railway line.

Opening in late 1939 as a satellite landing ground for RAF Linton-on-Ouse, it was upgraded in late 1942 to a Class A standard bomber airfield, with the standard layout of three runways.

Part of No. 6 Group, the first active squadron arrived in June 1943 when No. 434 Squadron was formed at the station to fly Halifaxes.

119 Halifaxes never returned from ops flown from Tholthorpe.

In June 1945 Tholthorpe closed for flying. Private flying took place from the airfield during the 1980's. Today the site is used for agriculture, very little remains of the runways. The technical site is used for light industry. Both the earlier Type 13079141 watch office and Type 343143 control tower still stand, the latter converted into a house in 1995.

Squadrons stationed at RAF Tholthorpe

  • No 434 (Blue Nose) Squadron. Formed at Tholthorpe 13 June 1943 left on 12 Dec 1943
  • 431 Squadron. July 1943 to Dec 1943
  • No. 420 Squadron. Dec 1943 to June 1945
  • No. 425 Squadron. Dec 1943 to June 1945


 History of RAF Tolthorpe

24th Oct 1940 Whitley Shot Down

23rd Oct 1943 434 Squadron Halifax lost

18th Aug 1943 434 Squadron Halifax lost

18th Dec 1944 Aircraft Lost

5th Mar 1945 Halifax Lost


 Recollections of Bomber Command

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

Those known to have served at

RAF Tholthorpe

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Anderson Robert Allen. Sgt.
  • Cameron Gregor Harry. LAC
  • Jose Gordon Beverly. P/O (d.8th Jun 1944)
  • Potter Alexander Richard. Sgt.

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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Sgt. Alexander Richard Potter

Alexander Potter was a photographer who enlisted at the outbreak of the war. He was called to duty first at Rockcliffe, Ontario. Later moved to Regina, Saskatchewan then finally to Paulson, Manitoba to the No7 Bomber & Gunnery training base.

In February 1943 he was posted to RAF Tholthorpe Bomber Command as a photographer. His duties included photographing downed planes, events and dignitaries, also with placing the automated cameras into the bellies of the bombers before missions. Then removing and developing film after the missions returned.

Doug McLean

P/O Gordon Beverly Jose 431 Squadron (d.8th Jun 1944)

My husband's uncle Gordon Beverly Jose, R.C.A.F., was shot down between the beginning of WWII and Sep 18th 1943. He was 431 Squadron and was a bomb aimer. I have looked everywhere on the net trying to find info and have been unsuccessful, can anyone help?

Editor's Note: According to the CWGC website, Gordon Jose was lost his life on the 8th of June 1944 and is buried in Blevy Communal Cemetery, France. All the crew lie together, the only CWGC burials in the vilage cemetery. they were:

  • P/O John Peter Artyniuk. RCAF
  • P/O Gilbert Alfred John Curtis, RAF
  • F/Sgt. Donald Angus Flett, RAFVR
  • F/O Peter Joseph Gandy, RCAF
  • P/O Gordon Beverley Jose, RCAF
  • F/O Hugh Allan Morrison, RCAF
  • P/O William Dakin Mullin, RCAF
  • Sgt. William Teape, RAFVR

The targets that night were the road and rail junction at Acheres and the rail yards at Versailles, this particular aircraft is listed as "failed to return" to RAF Tholhorpe in North Yorkshire.


Sgt. Robert Allen Anderson 420 Squadron

I have prepared the following brief summary of my Dad's World War II experiences based primarily on materials in my possession, including his Identity Card, Flying Log and Wartime Log:

In October, 1943, my Dad, Robert Allan Anderson, qualified as an Air Gunner after completing training at #3 Bomb and Gunnery School at Macdonald, Manitoba under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. In January, 1944, he was posted to the 420 (Snowy Owl) Squadron, based in Tholthorpe, England, as a tail gunner in a Halifax bomber.

My Dad was just 3 days shy of his 20th birthday on April 20, 1944, when 154 Halifax bombers took off to attack the rail facilities at Lens, France, Dad's Halifax, LW692, was shot down and crashed into the Scie River at Pourville, near Dieppe. It was the only aircraft that failed to return that night and my Dad and Paul Bourcier, the mid-upper gunner, were the only survivors.

According to a researcher, Dad described the event as follows: "We flew down to south England and over the Channel. Reached enemy coast 10 minutes early and off track, we passed over very near Dieppe. They threw up a lot of flak and we got 3 hits, the plane shuddered, slowed down and lost height fast. Port engines went on fire, spread to whole wing, engineer admitted it was hopeless, skipper said bale out. I got to escape hatch after mid upper gunner and jumped after him, plane was diving very fast and had trouble to get out of slipstream. Saw the plane spiral down on fire and crash. I landed in the mouth of a small river near Dieppe, had to use my Mae West, not a scratch."

The same researcher described Paul Bourcier's account as follows: After taking off and setting course for Southern England and then the Channel we got off course and reached the enemy coast ten minutes before time over Dieppe, which was about 20 miles off course, as Le Havre was the crossing point. We were picked up by radar and we were hit 3 times by flak, causing trouble to port engines, the necessary measures were taken, but fire started, and spreading rapidly on the port wing, I was then given order to bale out, which I did and by doing so landed safely. Out of front hatch."

After capture, the researcher presented a quick timeline of events: lane goes down, Anderson and Bourcier are picked up. From there they take a train ride to the Dulag Luft, the Luftwaffe Interrogation Centre at Albereusel, north of Frankfurt. Most fliers spent between 2-3 weeks there. Treatment ranged from pretty decent, to threats to a strange scenario where the Luftwaffe stripped you of all your clothes and locked you in a room with the heat turned up high. They had an interrogator there from Kitchener, Ontario who spoke better English than some of the Canadians there. When the Fatherland called he had returned to Germany."

Both Dad and Paul were then sent to Stalag Luft III, arriving just days after the 50 airmen were recaptured and murdered by the SS under the direct order of Adolph Hitler for their part in The Great Escape. As the Russians advance towards Germany in 1945, Hitler gave the order to evacuate POW camps and move POW's closer to Berlin. On Saturday, January 27, 1945, Dad and thousands of other POW's were told to gather their meager belongings and a forced exodus began. A day-by-day account was recorded in Dad's Wartime Log. After an eleven day trek, Dad ended up in Stalag IIIA in Luckenwalde. Eventually liberated by the Russians, his ordeal was still not as yet over.

A notation in his Log states: May 6, 1945 Russians refuse to let Americans evacuate us, some trucks have gone back empty. Russians have posted guards who have shot at some of the fellows. On May 7, 1945, he nevertheless managed to escape his new captors by making his way to the American lines at Magdeburg. On May 10, 1945, he then caught a USAAF DC3 (Dakota) to Rheims, France, and the next day, a Lancaster to Tangmere, England.

Today, there are memorials to Peter Warren the Navigator, Patrick Gough the Flight Engineer, and Raymond Leonard, the Pilot, in Runnymede Cemetery, Surrey, England. Clifford Wheelhouse, the Wireless Air Gunner, and Clark Wilson, the Bomb Aimer, were originally buried in a cemetery in St Riquier-es-Plains, and later in Grandcourt War Cemetery, France.

Bill Anderson

LAC Gregor Harry Cameron 420 Squadron

My father Gregor Cameron passed away when he was only 43. All I knew about his war experiences was that he lied about his age, like many young men of the time, and enlisted at age 17 in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He enlisted on August 9, 1943 in Lachine, Quebec. He was in the 420 RCAF Snowy Owl Squadron and his rank was LAC, meaning Leading Aircraftsman which I think was a mechanic.

Dad was shipped to England from Halifax on April 4, 1944 disembarking in the UK on April 11. I do not know the name of the ship or where he would have disembarked in the UK. I would love to have more information on this transport to the UK. When his parents complained that he was underage and serving in England, he was shipped back to Canada on September 22, 1944. I have determined that he would have served as ground maintenance crew, in all likelihood, and that he was probably at the base in Tholthorpe, Yorkshire.

Although Dad was only in England for 5 months, I am keen to learn more about what he could possibly have been doing for those 5 months. He stayed on in the RCAF until his discharge on May 9, 1946. Anyone with more info can contact me at my e-mail. Thank you.

C. Emmett

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