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No. 32 Squadron Royal Air Force in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

No. 32 Squadron Royal Air Force



August 1939   No 32 Squadron was founded at Netheravon on the 12th of January 1916 from a nucleus from 21 Squadron. They proceeded to France on the 28th May as a fighter squadron and continued in that role on the Western Front until the armistice. It was disbanded at Croydon on 31 December 1919.

The squadron was reformed as a single flight on 1 April 1923 at Kenley, equipped with Snipe fighters. Second and third flights were added in December 1923 and June 1924, bringing the squadron to full strength. On 21st Sept 1932 the Squadron moved to a new base at RAF Biggin Hill. It was re-equipped with Hurricanes in 1938.

August 1939 

27th March 1940 On the Move

20th May 1940 Ops in France

26 May 1940 Support

10th July 1940 Battle of Britain begins

20th July 1940 Battle of Britain

25th July 1940 Battle of Britain

14th August 1940  airfields attacked

15th Aug 1940 Eagle Day

15th August 1940  Airfields attacked

16th August 1940 

18th August 1940 Airfields attacked

24th August 1940  Airfields bombed

25th August 1940 Battle of Britain

28th Aug 1940 On the Move

Sept 1940 Indian Pilots drafted in

15th December 1940 Relocation

14th June 1942 Sorties over France

19th Aug 1942 Dieppe Raid

17th Dec 1942 Move to N Africa

April 1943 Re-equipped

1st Oct 1943 Invasion of Italy

31st January 1944 Moved to Italy

17th October 1944 Detachment to Greece

25th February 1945 Move to Palestine

September 1945   
Airfields at which 32 Squadron were based:

  • 21 September 1932-3 January 1940: Biggin Hill
  • 3 January-8 March 1940: Gravesend
  • 8-22 March 1940: Manston
  • 27 March-26 May 1940: Biggin Hill
  • 26 May-4 June 1940: Wittering
  • 4 June-28 August 1940: Biggin Hill / Hawkinge / Manston
  • 28 August-15 December 1940: Acklington
  • 15 December 1940-16 February 1941: Middle Wallop
  • 16 February-17 April 1941: Ibsley
  • 17 April-1 June 1941: Pembrey
  • 1 June-26 November 1941: Angle
  • 26 November 1941-4 May 1942: Manston
  • 4 May-14 June 1942: West Malling
  • 14 June-7 July 1942: Friston
  • 7 July-14 August 1942: West Malling
  • 14-20 August 1942: Friston
  • 20 August-9 September 1942: West Malling
  • 9 September-18 October 1942: Honiley
  • 18 October-25 November 1942: Baginton
  • 17 December 1942-25 May 1943: Maison Blanche (Algiers)
  • 25 May-19 August 1943: Tingley (Algeria)
  • 19 August-1 October 1943: La Sebala (Tunisia)
  • 1 October-20 November 1943: Montecorvino, Salerno (Sicily)
  • 20 November 1943-31 January 1944: Reghaia (Algiers)
  • 31 January-14 July 1944: Foggia Main (Italy)
  • 14 July-23 September 1944: Canne (Calabria)
  • 23 September-15 October 1944: Brindisi
  • 2-17 October 1944: Detachment to Araxos (western Greece)
  • 15-17 October 1944: San Pancrazio (Italy)
  • 17 October-9 November 1944: Kalamaki (Athens)
  • 9 November 1944-25 February 1945: Salonika
  • 25 February-27 September 1945: Ramat David (Palestine)


September 1945 


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



Those known to have served with

No. 32 Squadron Royal Air Force

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Bayley Edward Alan. Sgt.Plt. (d.10th Oct 1940)
  • Bernard . Sgt.
  • Brothers Peter. F/Lt.
  • Cartwright . Sgt.
  • Coates Freddie.
  • Crossley . F/Lt.
  • Daniel Tom. WO.
  • Daw . P/O
  • Grice . P/O
  • Higgins William Burley.
  • Old John.
  • Shaw Ian Laird. F/Lt.
  • Silvester George. Sqd Ldr.
  • Turner Richard Thomas.
  • Tylee Graham. Cpl.
  • Vejlupek Josef Franck. F/O
  • Wall John Ackland.
  • West . Sqd Ldr.
  • Whitby . 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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Richard Thomas Turner 32 Squadron

I am trying to find out info on my father, Dick Turner. All I know is that he joined the RAF in 1941, and served in Java and Batavia. He was a dispatch rider. I would love to hear from anyone who might know of him.

Julie Maddison



F/O Josef Franck Vejlupek 310 Sqd.

He was one of last three to fly a Spitfire on an offensive/ combat sortie on 1.1.1951. Has anyone any info on service with 32 and 310 Sqdns?

Robin Hector



F/Lt. Ian Laird Shaw 32 EFTS Bowden

My dad, Ian Shaw (flight lieutenant J L Shaw), is Scottish aged 91, now has Alzheimers and unfortunately can't remember much except the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada, instructing in basic trainer Tigermoths, Spitfires, Harvards, Hurricanes. He joined the RAF in December 1941, aged 21 and was based at EFTS/SFTS bases in Canada. He was definitedly at Bowden in June 1943 in 32 EFTS (we have small a shot with names on the back: I Varrie, R Powell, J Purchase, R Uden, R Saunders, Douglas Woodburn, G Scott, M Tavernor). Douglas Woodburn was his best mate. He also probably was at Braden, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Regina, Trenton, St Catherines, Swift Current amongst others. He has 3700 flying hours, but can't find his log book or service records. He eventually returned to Britain, based at Scone in Perthshire probably with RAF 51 group EFTS, where he met my mum, Cathie Torbet, and got engaged in 1946 just before being discharged in October 1946. He met his best man there (Jack Dalton) and Pooch Nugent was the Base Commander, (he has a road named after him at Scone airport). They married in 1948, in Perth. After the war he went into Air Traffic Control, based at Renfrew, Sighthill in Edinburgh and Oceanic House Prestwick, running oceanic traffic control and was in charge of training sitting for Scotland and on the Training Board at Bournemouth. Retired 1983. If anyone can help fill in the memories from Canada or 1941-46, or recognise him, that would help a lot.

Gill Shaw



John Old 32 Squadron

I served with 32sqd in Palestine from 1945 to 1947 under Sqd Ldr West. This a photo of 32 Sqdn in Palestine




Sqd Ldr. West 32 Squadron

"Can anyone help with identifying this crashed aircraft? The origional photo is 2"" by 1"" and the serial number is not all that visible. On the back is written Sgt Bernard 25th August 1941. I know that it belongs to 32 Squadron and that the pilot is not listed on the war graves site.

UPDATE: Looking at the aircraft, it seems to be a Mk1 Hurricane (straight tailwheel leg with ventrical fin is Mk1, wing too thick and T/E of wing at root too square for Spitfire, and fuselage aft of cockpit sloaping down to fin, pilot hand hold location in the ""G"" etc. etc.)

The only record I can find of an accident within 32 Sqdrn, is on the 22nd August 1940, when the plane was destroyed in a landing accident flown by Plt Off J.Pfeiffer (Polish), who was unhurt in the incident.

That plane, P3205 was delivered to 32 Sqdrn at Hawkinge in August 1940 and it was a Mk1 Gloucester built unit .

I am puzzled however, by the prescence of a wing fuel tank, and the apparent sloap on the field, and the steam roller, and the way the wings have come off.

It makes me wonder if this plane was blown over, and the wings blown off by bombing, and the roller is trying to repair the field?

Either way, the date of 25th August 1941 seems at odds with the mark of aircraft, plus the only Bernard I can find of the Battle of Brittain era was an F.A.Bernard who was a Czech who served in 238 and 601 Sqdrn.

Mark Morley

UPDATE: I have since found out that Sgt Bernard was a Czechoslovakian pilot who fought during the battle of Britain, apparently he crashed the aircraft on a night flying exercise at Angle Airfield, Pembs. 1941. He did survive the crash and the war, commissioned in 1942, released after the war but rejoined in 1950. Mentioned in despatches 6/3/56 for distinguished service in Kenya, retired from service as Flight Lieutenant 23/7/64, 5 months after I joined the service.He was born on the 23/7/1914, died on the 17/7/80 in New Zealand, . There are some other bits and pieces still to find but I now have another address to try, in New Zealand, as one person said, perhaps he has family out there who may like the photograph, who knows but I will keep trying, all off the information has come from sites like your own and it is thanks to you that people can find out about our recent history and what the people went through.

When I found this photograph, I had no idea that I would come so far with it, I thought that it would remain one of those forgotten incidents and be confined to a drawer somewhere, I am glad I took up the challenge.

Eddie Smith.

"

Eddie Smith



Sqd Ldr. George Silvester 32 Squadron

On October 9, 1944, MJ730 was transferred again to 32 Sqn., RAF at Kalamaki, Greece The aircraft was chosen by Sqn. Ldr. George Silvester, DFC, as his personal plane. Before its individual code had been assigned, he jokingly said to some of his ground crew that there was "a bit of a question mark" over which identity letter to give his personal Spitfire, because as Squadron Leader, he belonged to neither A Flight or B Flight. The ground crew as a lark placed a large "question mark" where the individual code letter would have normally appeared. Sqn. Ldr. Silvester was amused by the gesture and MJ730 was referred to as "The COs Query". "I would find out from the engineering officer what letter was allocated to the aircraft. I liked to paint (I had a steadier hand in those days) and normally did this myself. I remember having a template made with small holes in suitable places." When the CO came back from satisfactorily test flying this aircraft, Cpl Tylee asked what code letter should put be put on the Spitfire? "... he jokingly said that there was a bit of a question mark over which identity letter to giver his Spitfire.... because he was neither A Flight nor B Flight". According to the former airframe fitter, the groundcrew took the initiative and Cpl Tyler painted a large question mark (temporarily, using whitewash, he later told me) where a code letter would normally be positioned. The CO (Sqn Ldr G. Silvester DFC) was amused by this and said it could stay. Cpl Tylee therefore painted a permanent mark on the aircraft and it was thenceforth known by squadron personnel as The COs Query. [NOTE I used this as the title of my book on the aircrafts history.] Furthermore, Betty Silvester, Sqn Ldr Silvesters widow, sent me documents and photographs in which her husband referred to MJ730, in its GZ-? coding, as His kite. Although I am aware of at least one other WW2 squadron using a ? coding on a Spitfire.

Patrick Watts



Sgt. Bernard 32 Squadron

Can anyone help with identifying this crashed aircraft? The origional photo is 2" by 1" and the serial number is not all that visible. On the back is written Sgt Bernard 25th August 1941. I know that it belongs to 32 Squadron and that the pilot is not listed on the war graves site.

UPDATE: Looking at the aircraft, it seems to be a Mk1 Hurricane (straight tailwheel leg with ventrical fin is Mk1, wing too thick and T/E of wing at root too square for Spitfire, and fuselage aft of cockpit sloaping down to fin, pilot hand hold location in the "G" etc. etc.)

The only record I can find of an accident within 32 Sqdrn, is on the 22nd August 1940, when the plane was destroyed in a landing accident flown by Plt Off J.Pfeiffer (Polish), who was unhurt in the incident.

That plane, P3205 was delivered to 32 Sqdrn at Hawkinge in August 1940 and it was a Mk1 Gloucester built unit .

I am puzzled however, by the prescence of a wing fuel tank, and the apparent sloap on the field, and the steam roller, and the way the wings have come off.

It makes me wonder if this plane was blown over, and the wings blown off by bombing, and the roller is trying to repair the field?

Either way, the date of 25th August 1941 seems at odds with the mark of aircraft, plus the only Bernard I can find of the Battle of Britain era was an F.A.Bernard who was a Czech who served in 238 and 601 Sqdrn.

Mark Morley

UPDATE: I have since found out that Sgt Bernard was a Czechoslovakian pilot who fought during the battle of Britain, apparently he crashed the aircraft on a night flying exercise at Angle Airfield, Pembs. 1941. He did survive the crash and the war, commissioned in 1942, released after the war but rejoined in 1950. Mentioned in despatches 6/3/56 for distinguished service in Kenya, retired from service as Flight Lieutenant 23/7/64, 5 months after I joined the service.He was born on the 23/7/1914, died on the 17/7/80 in New Zealand, . There are some other bits and pieces still to find but I now have another address to try, in New Zealand, as one person said, perhaps he has family out there who may like the photograph, who knows but I will keep trying, all off the information has come from sites like your own and it is thanks to you that people can find out about our recent history and what the people went through.

When I found this photograph, I had no idea that I would come so far with it, I thought that it would remain one of those forgotten incidents and be confined to a drawer somewhere, I am glad I took up the challenge.

Eddie Smith.

UPDATE:

I have finally found out what happened to Hurricane Z5222, why it crashed at Angle Aerodrome, information as follows. This aircraft crashed at about 21;45 hrs on Angle Aerodrome on the 25th August 1941. The aircraft had been on an operational patrol when owing to weather conditions at Fairwood Common the aircraft was ordered to land at Angle. Night flying was not normally carried out at the airfield and Hurricane Z5222 landed before the flare path had been completed, hitting a "STEAM ROLLER" on landing. The obstruction was just 7 yards from the edge of the aerodrome. No blame was attached to the pilot, who was Sgt Bernard.

This was copied from a letter I received from the Air Historical Branch RAF: F/Lt Bernard Frantisek. Number 787 543 ( 120 209 ) Date of Birth 23rd July 1914. Place Stary Ehernberk. Date of Death 17th June 1980, New Zealand.

After retraining at No 6 OTU at Sutton Bridge he arrived on the 10th Sept 40 at No 601 Squadron. Transferred one month later to 238 Squadron 28th April 41 he moved to 32 Squadron. After operational service with 32 he became an instructor on the 13 Sept 41 at 56 O.T.U.. 6TH August 42 he returned to operational duty with 313 Czechoslovak Fighter Squadron, 22nd 06 43 he went for a rest and then served at the Czechoslovak Inspectorate General (CIG) in London. 01 05 44 he returned to 313 squadron in the rank of F/Lt, on the 22 05 44 he became the leader of flight "B" of number 310 Czechoslovak Fighter Squadron, he stayed there until the end of the war.

In 1948 when the communist's took over in CSR he emigrated to England and rejoined the RAF. He left 23rd July 1964 as a F/Lt and moved to New Zealand where he died on the 17th June 1980.

My next move is to try and reunite the photograph with any family he may have. I have one or two places to try, thanks to people like yourself on the internet. I had another look at the photo and I am wondering if the Steam roller in the background is the one he hit, I wonder if the driver of it got hell for leaving it there in the first place and I am surprised that the pilot got away without blame, to me it sounds like he was in a hurry (Pardon the pun) to land.

Eddie Smith




Sgt. Cartwright DFC. 32 Squadron

On 27 June 1940, F/Lt Davies and P/O Stone of 79 Squadron and F/Lt Crossley, P/O Daw, P/O Grice, Sgt Cartwright and Sgt Whitby of 32 Squadron, were ordered to parade before the king to receive their medals




Cpl. Graham Tylee 32 Squadron

Graham Tylee served as an airframe fitter with 32 Squadron




WO. Tom "Danny" Daniel 32 Squadron

 Some of 32 Squadron with Spitfire

Women doing running repairs to the runway at Araxos, Greece.

Pilot Tom Daniel with his ground crew in Salonika, Greece

A very young Tom Daniel, nickname Danny.

My father, Tom Daniel, joined the RAF on 10th August 1942 in Manchester. He was in Paignton for training before being sent on a troop ship to South Africa for flight training. He flew Tiger Moths and Harvards at Wonderboom but eventually went on to fly Hurricanes and Spitfires. He was sent to 32 Squadron and his Spitfire had the sign GZ-C. His commanding officer was George Silvester.

After spending time in Greece and Italy, he was sent to Ramat David in Palestine. He didn't much care for the duties there as he was told to fly over the sea and look out for Jewish refugee boats and report their position so they could be intercepted. From Palestine he was de-mobbed on 30th March 1946.

Dad is still with us but, unfortunately, suffers from dementia and remembers very little. I have made a "memory book" of photos from his life and in it there are some pictures from his days in the RAF. He also has a picture of Squadron Leader George Silvester's GZ-? on the wall of his room in the care home. Very rarely, he will look at the photos with me and suddenly remember something about one of them. It is always a lovely moment but very fleeting.

J S Lloyd-Jones



John Ackland Wall 32 Squadron

6 sqn Hurricane, Araxos Greece 1944

John Wall, 32 sqn 2nd on right, local women repair Araxos runway 1944

32 sqn Araxos Greece 1944

32 sqn Spits, Araxos Greece 1944

John Wall is a good friend of mine here in Hamilton NZ, he's told me that he watched with awe the Spitfires in the Battle of Britain and as soon as he was old enough caught a train to London and signed up! Then it was off to Texas and training on Boeing Stearman and North American Harvards before coming back to the UK and joining 32 Sqn. He finally got his Spitfire Mkix GZ-M JF404 and we recently found it on the net, photographed just as he said at Foggia in Italy.

From there he went to Greece, landing hot on the heels of Jerry at Araxos where the Germans had blown a few holes in the strip which he said made for a tricky landing. Local peasant women filled the holes in for them! Flying photo recon flights over the Adriatic coast then conducting sweeps over the Balkans later in the war John came down and had to destroy the aircraft only to hear his fellow Spits coming back round to strafe the wreck, he hid and hoped for the rescue by partisans. Fortunately it was the ally friendly side and they secreted him around until a rescue flight on a Dak a few weeks later took him out. It had been hard and John says the only English they had was the leader knew the words to 'A long way to Tipperary' which kept his spirits up!

After the war he flew Spits in the Palestine theatre operation before joining civvy street and marrying Elma who he'd met in the service. We recently went for a flight in a Tiger Moth and John in his 90s still had 'it' as the pilot said when giving John the stick for a bit, its a pleasure knowing John, he's too humble to post his own memoirs, I hope I've done him justice.

Ian Bisset







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