- No. 37 Squadron Royal Air Force during the Second World War -
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No. 37 Squadron Royal Air Force
3rd Sept 1939 Sweep
18th Dec 1939 Aircraft Lost Wellington bomber squadrons undertook a number of sweeps over the North Sea during October and November 1939 against any enemy shipping. However a mission on 18th December 1939 proved disastrous. A force of 22 Wellingtons, six from No. 37 and the remainder from Nos. 9 and 149 Squadrons, were met by Bf109s and 110s to which the Wellingtons had no reply owing to their limited fields of fire. In this operation No. 37 lost five of its six aircraft. A direct outcome of this air battle was the decision to fit Wellingtons with armour plate and self-sealing fuel tanks to make them more robust.
18th Dec 1939 Aircraft Lost
9th April 1940 Night Ops
10th May 1940 Aircraft Lost
10th May 1940 Aircraft Lost
1st Jun 1940 Aircraft Lost
1st June 1940 Aircraft Lost
8th Nov 1940 In Support
16th April 1941 Airfield bombed
29th April 1941 Under seige
4th May 1941 Attack Made
6th May 1941 Attack Made
24th May 1941 Attack Made
July 1941 Long Range Targets
2nd March 1942 Nigh Raid
6th March 1942 Harbour Targeted
7th Sept 1942 Aircraft Lost
14th Sept 1942 Aircraft Lost
14th Feb 1943 Advance
30th May 1943 Move
10th July 1943 Aircraft lost
29th Dec 1943 Night Raids
January 1944 New Targets
24th Feb 1944 Aircraft Lost
5th May 1944
21st July 1944 Aircraft Lost
18th August 1944 Aircraft Lost
21st August 1944 Aircraft Lost
23rd Aug 1944 Aircraft Lost
3rd Sept 1944 Aircraft Lost
15th Sept 1944 Night Ops
22nd Sept 1944 Aircraft Lost
15th Oct 1944 Reorganisation
21st Oct 1944
22nd Oct 1944 Aircraft Lost
28th Oct 1944 Supplies dropped
7th Nov 1944 Aircraft Lost
10th Nov 1944 Aircraft Lost
22nd Nov 1944 Aircraft Lost
If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.
Those known to have served with
No. 37 Squadron Royal Air Force
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Barber Harry. W/O
- Gaunt Philip Henry. WO.
- Geddes George Warne. AC1 (d.19th Dec 1939)
- Gibson John Edward.
- Jones Eric E.
- Marsh Frank. WO.
- May Thomas Kevin. Sgt.
- Mobley Arthur Benjemin. Ft.Lt.
- Musson George Bertie. Cpt. (d.30th Sep 1942)
- Pile John H.S.. W/O
- Reynolds Herbert Lindsay. F/Lt.
- Sharpe John Charles. L.A.C
- Sharpe John Charles. Cpl.
- Smith Harry Allman. P/O
- Taylor Laurence Edward. F/Sgt.
- Turley Alick Edward. Flt.Sgt. (d.14th Sep 1942)
- Vlok Theodore. Lt. (d.6th July 1944)
- Wallis Kenneth. Wing Co.
- Winters Arthur Henry. F/Sgt. (d.20th May 1943 )
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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L.A.C John Charles Sharpe MID. 37 Sqd.My father served with 102 Squadron from 21/08/ 39 to 14/06/40.He was an air gunner for the period 01/01/40 to 14/06/40.He joined 37 Squadron on 29/09/40 and shipped to the Middle East on 13/11/40. He remained with this Wellington squadron until his return to the U.K in early 1944 seeing service in the Middle East, Greece & Italy.His rank on return was Corporal and he was mentioned in Dispatches on 01/01/43Mike Sharpe
W/O Harry Barber 37 SquadronI am still trying to find out more about what happened to my grandad, Harry Barber but I do know that he joined the RAF as a brat (underage at 15), and that he flew Wellingtons as a wireless operator with 37 Squadron.
He was shot down over Tunisia mid-43 and was captured with the four other survivors of his crew after nine days (surviving on lizards and suffering a broken arm). We know that the Germans who found him and his crew were inclined to shoot them, but their senior officer saw how young they all were (around 19) and took them prisoner and went by the rules.
They were taken to Stalag Luft III, and a bit later split up, with two sent to other camps while my grandad and his crew member Sqdn Ldr Bob Nelson - who is famed for inventing the ventilation system of the escape tunnels for the great escape - remained at Stalag Luft III.
My grandfather was not part of the escape, as only a few days before had tried to make a break for it and had been caught. He spent his 21st birthday in solitary, with the German guard taking pity and giving him an extra slice of bread. If he hadn't been in solitary due to his impatience, he would have been one of the men most likely shot after the escape. After the war, he went on to become a commercial airline pilot with a few different airlines. He died before I was born and so I never got to hear any of his stories first hand. If anyone knows anything else about my grandfather, please get in touch via the website if possible, as I would love to find out more about his time in the RAF.A Barber
Cpl. John Charles Sharpe MID. 37 Sqd.my father, Jack Sharpe served with 37 squadron in the Middle East and Italy from September 1940 to September 1943 as an airframe fitter having been with 102 squadron at Driffield from July 1938 to to August 1940 (some of this time as an air gunner). He appeared in an article in Americas Life magazine dated 10th June 1940 entitled "The RAF fliers are young and brave", where he is pictured in the rear turret of a Whitely.Michael Sharpe
Ft.Lt. Arthur Benjemin "Mobs" Mobley AFC. 37 SquadronMy father, Arthur Mobely served at Feltwell in 1939/40 with 37 Squadron.Terry Mobley
Wing Co. Kenneth Wallis 37 SquadronI am a volunteer involved in the restoration of the Royal Flying Corps airfield at Stow Maries in Essex. It was one of the three stations that No 37 squadron was based at in WW1. I am creating a display of the full history of 37 Squadron and during my research, discovered that Wing Commander Wallis was a member of this Squadron. Ref The lives of Ken Wallis. He is famous for his developements to the Autogyro and many other inventions. He was a Wellington Bomber pilot during WW2. He lives in Norfolk and still flies at the age of 94.John Clayton
F/Lt. Herbert Lindsay "Monk" Reynolds 37 SquadronLindsay Reynolds or Monk as he was known to his crew, enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in November 1940. Following BCATP training as an Observer in western Canada he set sail for Britain in August 1931. He was assigned to No. 22 OTU at Wellesbourne. Later he was sent to the Middle East. Having sufficient flying time to his credit he and his crew left for Gibraltar from Overseas Air Dispatch Unit, Portreath on 23 March 1942 aboard Wellington aircraft DV517B.
On 31 March the crew were briefed for their six hour and fifty-two minute flight to Malta. Less than two hours after take they were in trouble. Fuel consumption was down. They knew they had to return to Gibraltar. Lindsay launched a ``sea marker`` to get a better reading on wind velocity and direction. On their descent into Gibraltar they flew over a merchant convoy of fifteen ships. Attempting to line up over the runway, they knew it was going to be rough landing. Just prior to crashing Lindsay braced himself with the insteps of both feet against the main spar of the aircraft. The plane crashed on landing and collided with two spitfires. Everything went up in flames, but the crew were able to escape the wreckage. The pilot, P/O Norman Knight was severely traumatized and was quickly removed from the rest of the crew. All the crew were badly shaken up. Lindsay had broken a bone in his foot but decided not to mention it to the medical officer for fear that he would be held back from operations. The crew returned to England aboard the Llanstephan Castle in search of another plane. They did no flying during April and May 1942. Lindsay was showing signs of PTSD, feeling anxious and struggling to concentrate. “After our accident the M.O. seemed to think it quite natural to be so affected but I do wish I could feel more at ease than I do. To rest is utterly impossible, and I dread the thought of flying again…I also find it so hard to study…sometimes I find myself reading and reading and not getting a thing out of it…” (Letter from Lindsay to his brother Arnold, 21 May 1942).
During the last week at Hartwell the crew was assigned another pilot, P/O Sgt. Mackenzie – a Canadian. On 6 June the crew flew to Gibraltar aboard Wellington DV652V. They left Gibraltar for Malta the next day, arriving on the same day as Canada’s Ace, “Daredevil” George Beurling. The crew landed at 21:35 local time. The plan was to refuel as quickly as possible. While refuelling took place the crew was briefed on the next leg of their journey to Egypt. They were informed that they would be transporting civilians – the wife and two children of an officer. Suddenly the briefing was interrupted by a bombing raid. It was imperative that the plane get airborne before it was hit and put out of action. Interrupting the briefing, and rushing to the plane with their precious cargo, they boarded and lined up for take off. The two Wellingtons ahead of them were hit as they attempted to get airborne. Now Lindsay’s crew had slightly less runway to work with and Sgt. Mackenzie, giving it all he had, managed to get airborne avoiding the enflamed wreckage at the end of the runway at Luqa airstrip. They had escaped the bombing, and quickly Lindsay navigated their course away from the enemy airplanes over the skies of Malta. Ninety minutes later they were recalled to Malta. At 01:45 on 10 June they landed at Luqa airfield for the second time in five hours. The fires of bombed and burned wreckage were all around the airfield illuminating the night sky, and the acrid smell of jet fuel and chemicals filled the air. It was a frightening sight. Their passenger, the mother of the two children, had not been informed that they were returning to Malta. She thought she had escaped the nightmare, only to find that she had returned to it. Upon learning of her whereabouts she burst into tears.
The crew spent two eventful days on Malta. During this time Lindsay did a shift as acting air traffic controller at Luqa. He experienced another “first.” Up until that point he had only attended military funerals, but on Malta, because he was “a religious man,” he was required to perform the burial service of a fellow airman killed in the bombing the night before since there was no available padre. At twenty-two years of age, with only the New Testament that he carried in his breast pocket, he dutifully performed his sacred duty. The next day the crew was walking over open ground on their way to Veletta. Just as they reached the middle of the field, out of nowhere came a German fighter pilot swooping down to fire on the airmen in the field. They were like ducks in a barrel. The German pilot came low enough to look into the faces of the airmen,andt to their great surprise and overwhelming relief, rather than firing on them he signalled with his finger and flew off. He could have gunned them down with the push of his thumb, but didn’t have the stomach for it.
The crew arrived at the RAF station at El-Daba, Egypt on 12 June 1942. While at El-Daba the crew was broken up and ordered to different squadrons. Lindsay was ordered to report to 37 Squadron RAF at Abu Sueir. He arrived at Abu Sueir on 30 June. Lindsay’s first night of operations was 8 July 1942. Wellington AD645H was airborne by 22:30 (local time), and Lindsay navigated the plane to the Target – Tobruk. The captain announced that the target was dead ahead and ordered him forward to prepare for the bomb run. He lay on the padded inside panel of the entry hatch to drop his bombs. He heard the pilot say he could see fires in the dock area and some bursting flak. Lindsay called out the approach bearings for the bomb run to the captain, who confirmed he had opened the bomb doors. He flipped his toggles on the bomb panel to arm the bomb. On the final approach he called out course corrections with “left, left…right, left…Hold it, steady, steady…bombs gone!” With that cry from Lindsay Pilot Officer Dudley threw the aircraft into a rather violent bank to port. The interior of the aircraft was suddenly lit up in the orange flash of exploding shells. Suddenly the sky lit up. They were caught in the search lights of the German ground forces. The crew heard the unmistakable sound of flak, too close for comfort. Their skilled and seasoned pilot suddenly took the most violent evasive action, putting the aircraft into a nose dive in an attempt to avoid the enemy search lights. He continued to dive while the crew hung on for dear life. The Wellington vibrated and shook, and all but broke apart as they descended at this accelerated pace. Pilot Officer Dudley then attempted to pull out of the dive. He pulled back on the control column or stick. Nothing happened. The gravitational force was too great. He tried again, and this time he put both feet on the instrument panel and pulled, using the full weight of his body. He was unable to muster enough strength on his own to overcome the gravitational force of the dive. Dudley shouted at the second pilot to help him. Together they put all their weight into it, and pulled back for all they were worth. As the men pulled with all their might, suddenly by shear brute force, the aircraft began to recover from the dive and they were on their way back to base. Later that month P/O J.R. Dudley was awarded the DFC for his courage and skill as a pilot. Lindsay always credited P/O Dudley for saving his life that day. On nights when he wasn’t flying he enjoyed sitting off by himself in the desert looking up into the night sky. This is when he felt closest to God, and would often take his Methodist hymn book with him to read.
He flew throughout July and August, with some time off to visit some of the holy spots of Palestine and some time at the beach. The break was important to the stressed aircrew. In September his crew crash landed in the desert. The crew slept during the heat of the day and walked at night until they were picked up by British forces. After verifying their identities they were returned to base at Abu Sueir.
On 1 October Lindsay was promoted to Warrant Officer. A tour of operations was considered to be 30 operational flights. Lindsay completed an official tour of operations in the month of September, but continued flying with the squadron. He was yet to receive any further orders. They continued to fly, attacking shipping and jetties at Tobruk. Lindsay’s final operation was on 12 October 1942. He ended his tour as he had begun it – bombing enemy shipping at Tobruk. He was finished. The Air Force said so. He had completed a tour of 32 operations, and had logged a total of 251 hours and 50 minutes of operational flying. He was ordered back to Britain. On 23 October, the opening day of the Battle of El Alamein he said good-bye to his crew and 37 Squadron, and travelled to 23 PTC. Yet unknown to him, on the same day he was promoted to Pilot Officer. He would have to wait until his return to Britain to be notified of his promotion.
Lindsay’s return trip to Britain took a total of 87 days. He arrived back in Canada the end of March 1943. Within three months of his arrival home he married his sweetheart, Jean Hull. They enjoyed 62 years of life together, until his death in 2005. Lindsay spent the remainder of the war as a flight instructor at No. 9 AOS at St. Jean, Quebec, and finished with the rank of Flight Lieutenant. By war’s end he had in his possession an Air Observer’s Badge and Operational Wings. Over the course of his service in the RCAF Lindsay had also earned four medals: Africa Star and Clasp; Defence Medal, General Service Medal, and Canadian Volunteer Service Medal. In Canada these medals were not automatically issued to deserving veterans. In the RCAF the onus was oddly on the veteran to make application for any medals he had earned. Lindsay would not apply for the medals that he had earned and was entitled to have, as he” saw no virtue in seeking reward for doing one’s duty”. He had simply done his duty, nothing more, and that was all.
In July 1945 he registered in the Engineering program at McGill University. Upon graduation he was employed by Shell Canada, and continued with them as a chemical engineer until his retirement in 1983. For a more detailed read on the life and service of Lindsay Reynolds see Duty With Honour: The Story of a Young Canadian With Bomber CommandElizabeth Reynolds
Cpt. George Bertie Musson 37 Squadron (d.30th Sep 1942)My grand father, Bertie Musson was captaining the Seaplane "Clare" from Lagos to the UK with returning servicemen on board when the plane went down. Anyone with information please feel free to contact me.Craig Musson
Flt.Sgt. Alick Edward Turley DFM No. 37 Squadron (d.14th Sep 1942)4342 SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 6 OCTOBER, 1942 Air Ministry, 6th October, 1942.
The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards: —
Distinguished Flying Medal. 580863 Flight Sergeant Alick Edward Turley, No. 37 Squadron. Based: Abu Sueir
Alick was killed 14th September 1942 whilst serving with 37 Squadron, he is remembered on the Malta memorial. He was the son of Fred Gardner Turley, and of Sarah Ann Turley, of Wandsworth, London.
I have been trying to find out more about my uncles, WO Alick Turley and his brother Sergeant (W.Op./Air Gnr.)Raymond Turley died within a fortnight of each other. Welcome any information or guidance in obtaining further details. Thanking you in anticipation.Alan J Norris
WO. Frank Marsh 37 SquadronFrank Marsh from Sheffield served with 37 Squadron as a navigator in Wellington bombers mostly flying out of Tortoretto in Italy completing two tours, baling out twice whilst his aircraft was on fire (He was a member of the caterpillar club), but because he was based overseas and not flying from a UK Base the Ministry of Defence has turned our family down for his Bomber Command clasp. This doesn't seem very fair.Mrs Marsh
P/O Harry Allman Smith 108 SquadronHarry Allman Smith, Pilot Officer 108 Squadron, 2nd July 1942 – 26th November 1942
My father Harry Smith joined the New Zealand Air Force in May 1941. He arrived in England from New Zealand via Canada on Christmas Eve 1941 and after various training courses involving spells at Honnington, South Cerney and Harwell/Mount Farm disembarked in the Middle East on 3rd June 1942 to join 108 Squadron. He served with the squadron as second pilot, flying Wellington 1c bombers from their desert airfield, based at Kilo 40, Kabrit, often at night. His targets were based around Tobruk, including the airfield, port and shipping, battlefields and transport movements in the area. His log book of course mostly just records times and dates and targets as well as statistics such as flying hours although he did occasionally note instances of “Caught in searchlight” “ Heavy flak” and on his 39th ops “Close call”. First pilots he flew with included Sgt Brookes, Ft Sgt Murray but mostly P/O Gunn. His last operational flight was a bombing raid on Heraklion airfield on Crete on November 23rd 1942, which was his 40th op. Also recorded were the aborted ops, usually due to an aircraft problem such as “port engine u/s” “dynamo u/s”, when the bomb load would be jettisoned on the way back to base. His last two flights (non ops) with 108 Squadron recorded in his Flying Log were in late November on 26th and 29th with Flight Sgt Murray as 1st Pilot, the laconic comments in the log book being respectively “Bags of fun” and “Cooks Tour”. Overall flying hours with 108 Squadron totalled 532.35 hrs. Of these Day Ops hour total was 26.55 hrs and Night Ops 213.35 hrs (He did 3 further bombing ops with 37 Squadron before transfer to 117 Squadron)Stephanie Santaana
W/O John H.S. Pile 104 SquadronGoing through the memorabilia left by my late Mother, I found a collection of WW2 RAF flight documents & notes dating that once belonged to her first husband, John H. S. Pile. He served as a Navigator and there are three excersise books with his Airforce Training School handwritten notes and also the following documents:
Serial No.449 Air Ministry - Meteorological Office Flight Forecast - Route: UK - Foggia, Track: Via Sete, Aircraft KL635, Time of Departure: 0830, 11th July 1945.
Serial No.221 Air Ministry Meteorological Office and Canadian Meteorological Division Flight Forecast - Route: Blackbushe, Track: Castle Benito, Aircraft Lancaster, Time of Departure: 0800 G.M.T. 3074 1946
[The latter is full of maps and charts (printed, photographed, typed, anotated). Mainly, these pertain to 104 Squadron, included is a typed list of flight personnel for No.37 Squadron, dated 16th April 1946].
Form 441 Navigator's Log Book This folder contains one Forecast headed: Squadron 37, A/G Number and Letter KL 383X, Captain W/O Porter, Navigator F/S Pile, Date 25/5/45. Eleven more records Squadron 104 in the header and A/C Numbers, NX729C, NX754T, NX725N, NX740F, NX754J, along with Captains P/O De' Ath, F/O Evans, F/O Philips.
I would guess that John Pile started in 104 squadron, where he served most of his time, was transferred to 148 Squadron (written on the cover of a rather hefty set of maps he left: Air Route Book, From UK To Algiers - Italy - Middle East. which includes a Monthly Supplement for July 1945 before joining 37 Squadron.
Has anyone any further information to share relating to him? I also have three photos of John Pile, which I will need to get digitally copied.Joseph Jenner
John Edward "Gibbo" Gibson 104 SquadronTed Gibson joined the RAF in 1943 and went to Winnipeg for training. After a short time at West Freugh and Westcott was transferred to Tortorella in Italy with 37 Sq. In Dec 1944 went to Foggia Main 104 Sq., in both cases as a Bomb aimer in Wellingtons. He left the RAF briefly after the war but rejoined as a navigator and retired as a Flt Lt in 1975.Don Gibson
Sgt. Thomas Kevin May 37 SquadronI believe my father, Thomas May served in 37 Squadron and fought in the Battle of Heliogland. He was shot down in 1939 and was imprisoned for the rest of the war, in Stalag Luft 111 & 1. But I'm not sure of the dates. I was only 7 years old so I have no real first-hand information.Ursula Duval
F/Sgt. Laurence Edward "Buck" Taylor 37 SquadronMy father's logbook shows that he commenced training in October 1943 at the age of 20 and first flew with 37 Squadron on 6th ofSeptember 1944 as an Air Bomber on a night-time bombing raid over Bologna. He then flew with Wellingtons LP343 and LP 588 with pilot F/Sgt Brookfield over Italy, Hungary and Yugoslavia until 23/11/44 when he had to bale out from LP 472. His only story told to my late mother and myself was that the Partisans escorted him down a mountainside on a donkey and got him back to his Unit. He recommenced activities on 28/12/44 on LP 554 over Parma and Milan and continued with night raids until 15/4/45 over Treviso "Wimpy's last trip" with F/Sgt Brookfield in LP331. My father became a supportive member of the Caterpillar Club and the RAF Escaping Society.Peter Taylor
F/Sgt. Arthur Henry Winters 37 Squadron (d.20th May 1943 )Arthur Winters served in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) as a wireless operator-air gunner and flew with 37 Squadron of the Royal Air Force. He was the son of Mr and Mrs Sidney Winters of Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. Prior to going to war Arthur was the assistant station master in Chester.
Arthur was killed during the Battle of Crete. The German army invaded the Greek island of Crete on 20 May 1942 using a large force of paratroopers. Flt-Sgt Winters was aboard a Wellington bomber that was dispatched from North Africa to provide bombing support to the defending British, Greek, Australian and New Zealand troops on the island. Winters' aircraft was shot down and crashed into the Mediterranean Sea. His body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Mahone Bay cenotaph and on the Alamien War Memorial in Egypt.Gary Silliker
Lt. Theodore Vlok 37 Squadron (d.6th July 1944)My uncle Theo Vlok, who I never met since he was killed in action at age 22 in Italy in 1944 before I was born, was like me a South African, and served in the RAF although he received his flight training at Lyttelton near Pretoria, at East London and Youngsfield in the Cape from 1941.
He was apparently very popular and talented as a navigator in Lancaster and Wellington bombers. His squadron was based in a castle in Foggia, South Italy, from where they carried out bombing raids into Northern Italy and Austria. He was there from March 1944 till his death in a bombing sortie over Vienna, Austria in early July 1944.
His Wellington was shot down by a German fighter after successfully dropping their bombs on a German airfield, and went down in flames with only one survivor, the wireless operator Jimmy Mitchell, who managed to bale out. Charlie Keighly was apparently the pilot, and Andy Andrews the co-pilot.Louis Marais
Eric E "Choppa" Jones B Flight SAAF 31 Sqn RAF 37 SqnMy father served with the squadrons mentioned above as a Straight Air Gunner. I have his Flying Log Book and a few photographs. There are entries for the early months of 1944. His pilot is documented as W/O Howard. According to the summary in his Log Book he flew 39 sorties - 163.45 operational hours.
Died 25th December 1991Peter E. Jones
WO. Philip Henry "Tubby" Gaunt 49 SquadronMy late father, Tubby Gaunt flew with 49 Sqn. completing his first tour on Hampdens, out of Scampton, 1941 & 42, as wireless op air gunner, having trained in South Africa to be a pilot. Gaining his wings he moved on to Wellingtons at Foggia, with 37 & 70 Sqns. After 23 operations, he iced up and force landed in Gorski Kotar. He and all his crew were safe and fairly sound, where they were helped by Titos partisans, and repatriated back to Tortorella, then back to Liverpool by troop ship. It was late April 1942, and thinking he had done his bit, they demobbed him in November 1945.
Starting in 1939 having a forced landing at Manston, and a little while later a mid air collision with a Lancaster, later to survive his crash in the mountains of Gorski Kotar, Croatia as it is now, he lived a charmed life indeed.
Available at discounted prices.
Duty With Honour: The Story of a Young Canadian With Bomber Command
Elizabeth ReynoldsLindsay Reynolds or Monk as he was known to his crew, enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in November 1940. Following BCATP training as an Observer in western Canada he set sail for Britain in August 1931. He was assigned to No. 22 OTU at Wellesbourne. Later he was sent to the Middle East.More information on:
Duty With Honour: The Story of a Young Canadian With Bomber Command
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