- No. 21 Squadron Royal Air Force during the Second World War -
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No. 21 Squadron Royal Air Force
No. 21 Squadron, RFC, was formed in 1915 intended as the first specialist bomber squadron. Re-equipped in 1917 it served the remainder of the war as an artillery cooperation squadron. It was disbanded in October 1919. It was re-formed as a bomber squadron at Bircham Newton in December 1935. In 1938 it began to receive Blenheim light bombers and on the outbreak of war was based at Watton, Norfolk.
23rd Feb 1940 Delivery to Finland
May 1940 Reconnaissance
24th June 1940 Move
29th Oct 1940 Patrols
1st May 1941 Detachment
26th Dec 1941 Move to Malta
14th Jan 1942 Blenheims lost
4th Feb 1942 Train destroyed
5th February 1942 Blenheims shot down
11th Feb 1942 Blenheim missing
14th March 1942 Disbanded and reformed
Sept 1942 Reorganisation and Training
3rd Nov 1942 Raids
6th Dec 1942 Bombing Raid
April 1943 Low level raids
3rd May 1943 Heavy losses
24th Sept 1943 Conversion
31st Dec 1943 Move
18th Feb 1944 Operation Jericho
17th April 1944 Move
18th June 1944 Move
6th February 1945 Move into France
22nd Feb 1945 Operation Clarion
12th Mar 1945 Bomber Command
If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.
Those known to have served with
No. 21 Squadron Royal Air Force
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Bellis Iorwerth. F/Lt.
- Bennett Leslie Clive. Wing.Cdr (d.9th July 1940)
- Bondett Howard. Sgt.
- Garrett John Alfred. Flying Officer (d.31st July 1944)
- Lamerton Roy Charles. Sgt. (d.6th Dec 1942)
- McConnell Robert James. F/Lt.
- Oats Victor Rundle. Wing Cdr. (d.12th Mar 1945)
- Porter Owen Wells. Flying Officer (d.31st July 1944)
- Saunders William Anthony. P/O. (d.17th Jun 1940)
- Webb Clifford. 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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Flying Officer Owen Wells Porter 21 Squadron (d.31st July 1944)Spike Garrett
Flying Officer John Alfred Garrett 21 Squadron (d.31st July 1944)Spike Garrett
Wing Cdr. Victor Rundle Oats 21 Squadron (d.12th Mar 1945)Victor Rundle Oats took over command of 21 Squadron on 9 February 1945. He flew a number of missions with his navigator, Flight Sergeant F. C. Gubbings, in the Munich and Cologne areas, at night. The squadron took part in Opertion Clarion, the destruction of German traffic centers in smaller cities; the marshalling yard in Hildesheim was targeted in the afternoon of February 22, 1945. Due to good weather and clear sight the marshalling yard was heavily damaged, the city itself received considerable damage: 102 houses were completely destroyed, and 106 houses and two churches (St. Bernward's Church and St. Lamberti Church) suffered severe damage. 998 houses and four churches, among them the Cathedral and Saint Michael's Church were slightly damaged. About 250 people were killed. One aircraft and crew was lost during the raid.
On 12 March 1945 the squadron was sent out to bomb road and rail communications East of the Ruhr leading to Magdeburg. Oats' and Gubbings' Mosquito VI, no. SZ963, failed to return. Eyewitness accounts stated that Mosquito attacked the Frankenberger Bahnhof (Railway station) and then the Thonet Werk (Industrial). During this attack it was noted that the aircraft was on fire and flying very low. The crew must have realised the danger and Oats tried desperately to gain altitude so that they would have sufficient height to bale out. Instead, the aircraft flew on a curved course towards Willesdorf but crashed on the Linnerberg, between Bottendorf and Willesdorf. The crew were found the next day and laid to rest by an old Oak tree at the Linner Mill. The two crew members were later exhumed and re-buried at Hanover War Cemetery.
During the potato harvest of 1963 a small watch was found, engraved with the initials V. R. Oats RAF 15.4.36. on the backplate. This watch had stopped at 10 minutes past 12. The people who found the watch were the Doels family, who contacted the then priest of the village Dr. Gustav Hammann who was a keen and well known local history researcher. He contacted the families of Oats and Gubbings and in 1969, Lieutenant Colonel Gilesa Oats, Victor's brother, travelled to Germany to receive the watch. During 1994 searches were made of the crash site area. A year later one of the engines was recovered and, a year later, the second. About three tons of material has been recovered so far.
There is a memorial to Victor Rundle Oats in the parish church of St Just-in-Penwith, Cornwall, his home town.Pete Joseph
Sgt. Howard Bondett 51 SquadronHoward Bondett has written a story about his flight time with the 51st Squadron in England and than his time as a POW in Stalag IV B after being shot down in Dec 1943 near the Belgan border. Should some persons wish to read his story and the some stories from other POWs in his camp, we may provide a copy of his book to those interested. Howard is 91 years old and wishes to communicate with fellow POWs. The story book is called "In the Service A sketch of the Life in Uniform. " 1942 - 1945Ron Miller
Sgt. Clifford Webb MBE. 21 SquadronWe believe that my father Clifford Webb was captured twice. This article was found which was probably written by our father to his mother after the second capture/escape. If anybody can shed some light on Clifford Webb, it would certainly be most appreciated !
The article Letter home from Sgt. C. Webb, RAF, from “Woodside”, Homer, aged 24 years. C. 1940. We were shot down in France, near Calais, on June 14th, by six Messerschmitts, but nobody was injured, so we tried to make our way back to England. We found a little boat three days after the crash, but had no chance to stock it with food and drink. Our oars were very weak and soon broke. The upshot of it all was that we were in the channel for three days without food or drink and not a stitch of dry clothing on us. One of my companions died on the last night and the two of us left were washed back on the French coast, still behind the German lines. We hid for two days to regain our strength, and started walking to Le Havre about 50 miles away, but abandoned the idea as the port was too closely watched. Then we tried to get work on the farms, posing as Belgians, but failed because we had no identification papers. We begged bought and stole food and civilian clothing during this time.
Eventually we decided to go north and try to cross the Channel again, but were unlucky enough to walk into a hidden German aerodrome, just south of the Somme. We were stopped and questioned; I was the only one speaking French. They found out my companion was English so I was taken as well. This was on the evening of July 1st. I don’t know how I escaped, but all the people in this camp are the same. Some of the escapees from crashes are nothing short of miraculous.
Report of incident near Calais. 14/06/1940: Merville, France.
- Type: Bristol Type 142L, Blenheim Mk. IV
- Serial number: R3742,YH-?
- Operation: Merville
- Lost: 14/06/1940
- Pilot Officer William A. Saunders, RAF 40756, 21 Sqn., age 20, 14/06/1940, missing
- Sgt W.H.Eden PoW also initialled H.W.Eden
- Sgt C.Webb PoW
- Airborne from Bodney. Crash-site not established. Last seen being chased by Me109s.
- P/O Saunders has no known grave and is commemorated on the Runnymede Mmemorial.
- Sgt W.H.Eden on his 30th operation evaded until captured July 40 near Doullens after spending 3 days in a rowing boat and interned in Camps L1/L6/357, PoW No.87.
- Sgt C.Webb was also captured with his comrade but was interned in Camps L1/L3/L6/357, PoW No.76.
F/Lt. Iorwerth "Ted" Bellis DFC. 21 SquadronI don't know too much about my father, Ted Bellis. He never told us too much, although I know he suffered what is is now termed as post-traumatic stress disorder, for many years after the war. He was part of the Aarhus Gestapo headquarter raid and received a letter and cuff links from the Danish resistance thanking him for his participation. He also flew with Ted Pennell, navigator, who sustained a serious leg injury during a raid with my father resulting in the loss of the limb.
True heroes for whom I have the ultimate respect. If anyone knew of them I'd love to see or read any stories.
Editor's Note:- There were 2 raids on the Gestapo Headquarters, at Aarhus. The first was on 31st October 1944 and the second (Operation Carthage) was on the 21st March 1945.Dave Bellis
Sgt. Roy Charles Lamerton 21 Squadron (d.6th Dec 1942)Roy Lamerton flew as a Navigator with 21 Squadron.William Brown
P/O. William Anthony Saunders 21 Squadron (d.17th Jun 1940)On a mission to bomb Merville Airfield, on 14th June 1940, P/O William Saunders in his aircraft R3742, was shot up badly by Me109's. He put the Blenheim down at Ardres, and he and his crew (Sgt Webb & Sgt Eden) escaped. They got as far as the channel, acquired a rowing boat, and got to within 10 miles of the English Coast when an oar broke. Carried back by the current, they slept exhausted. On awaking, P/O Saunders was no longer in the boat. Missing presumed drowned, his body was never found. His crew were both POW's. William (my Mother's elder brother) was just 20 years old on April 17th that year.Patrick Anns
Wing.Cdr Leslie Clive Bennett 21 Squadron (d.9th July 1940)Clive Bennett was the Son of Frederick H. and Gertrude Bennett, husband of Joan Bennett, of Chichester, Sussex. Native of New Zealand. He was aged 34 when he died and is buried in the Lonstrup Churchyard in Denmark.s flynn
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