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No. 40 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. 40 Squadron Royal Air Force

   No.40 Squadron, RFC, was formed at Gosport, Hampshire, on 26th February 1916, and from August 1916 to the Armistice served on the Western Front as a fighter squadron. Disbanded in 1919, No.40 was re-formed as a bomber squadron at Upper Heyford equipped with Gordons in 1931. At the outbreak of the war it was based at RAF Wyton equipped with Fairey Battle bombers.

Airfields No. 40 Squadron RAF flew from.

  • 2 September-2 December 1939: Betheniville (France)
  • 2 December 1939-2 February 1941: Wyton
  • 2 February 1941-14 February 1942: Alconbury
    • 31 October 1941-14 February 1942: detachment at Luqa, Malta
    • 14 February -1 May 1941 Malta detachment sent to India under command of 215 Squadron
  • 1 May-23 June 1942: Abu Sueir (Egypt)
  • 23 June-20 August 1942: Shallufa
  • 20 August-7 November 1942: Kabrit
  • 7-12 November 1942: LG.222A
  • 12-25 November 1942: LG.104
  • 25 November 1942-20 January 1943: Luqa
  • 20 January-15 February 1943: LG. 237
  • 15 February-13 March 1943: Gardabia East, Tunisia
  • 13 March-26 May 1943: Gardabia South
  • 26 May-25 June 1943: Kairouan/ Cheria
  • 25 June-18 November 1943: Hani West
  • 18 November 1943-4 December 1943: Oudna 1
  • 16-30 December 1943: Cerignola (Italy)
  • 30 December 1943-21 October 1945: Foggia Main



3rd Sept 1939 To France

2nd Dec 1939 Move

14th Apr 1940 40 Squadron Blenheim lost

10th May 1940 40 Squadron Blenheim lost

10th May 1940 40 Squadron Blenheim lost

10th May 1940 40 Squadron Blenheim lost

10th May 1940 40 Squadron Blenheim lost

10th May 1940 40 Squadron Blenheim lost

10th May 1940 Aircraft Lost

15th May 1940 40 Squadron Blenheim lost

15th May 1940 40 Squadron Blenheim lost

15th May 1940 Aircraft Lost

15th May 1940 Escorted attack

23rd May 1940 40 Squadron Blenheim lost

23rd May 1940 Aircraft Lost

25th May 1940 40 Squadron Blenheim lost

6th Jun 1940 40 Squadron Blenheim lost

6th Jun 1940 40 Squadron Blenheim lost

6th Jun 1940 40 Squadron Blenheim lost

6th June 1940 Aircraft Lost

6th June 1940 

12th Jun 1940 40 Squadron Blenheim lost

14th June 1940 Aircraft Lost

14th June 1940 Aircraft Lost

27th June 1940 Aircraft Lost

26th Jul 1940 40 Squadron Blenheim lost

15th Aug 1940 40 Squadron Blenheim lost

15th Aug 1940 40 Squadron Blenheim lost

November 1940 New Aircraft

2nd Feb 1941 

12th Mar 1941 Night Ops

12th Mar 1941 Aircraft Lost

23rd Mar 1941 Bomber Command on Ops

7th Apr 1941 Aircraft Lost

11th April 1941 Aircraft Lost

17th Apr 1941 Eleven Aircraft Lost

11th May 1941 Aircraft Lost

15th May 1941 Aircraft Lost

2nd Jun 1941 Aircraft Lost

11th Jun 1941 Aircraft Lost

12th Jun 1941 40 Squadron Wellington lost

26th Jun 1941 Aircraft Lost

6th Jul 1941 Aircraft Lost

9th Jul 1941 Aircraft Lost

16th Jul 1941 Aircraft Lost

24th Jul 1941 Aircraft Lost

25th Aug 1941 Aircraft Lost

28th Aug 1941 Aircraft Lost

2nd Sep 1941 Aircraft Lost

12th Sep 1941 Aircraft Lost

Oct 1941  

12th Oct 1941 Aircraft Lost

12th Oct 1941 Aircraft Lost

14th Oct 1941 Aircraft Lost

16th Oct 1941 Aircraft Lost

17th Oct 1941 40 Squadron Wellington lost

26th Oct 1941 Aircraft Lost

6th Nov 1941 Moves

10th Jan 1942 Aircraft Lost

14th Jan 1942 Aircraft Lost

14th Feb 1942 Reorganisation

1st May 1942 

14th Feb 1943 

25th Nov 1943 Aircraft Lost

16th Dec 1943 Move

6th May 1944 Aircraft Lost

25th May 1944 Aircraft Lost

18th August 1944 Aircraft Lost

10th Oct 1944 Aircraft Lost

11th Nov 1944 Aircraft Lost

23rd Nov 1944 Aircraft Lost

February 1945 Retraining

13th Mar 1945 Last Bombing Mission

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

Those known to have served with

No. 40 Squadron Royal Air Force

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Addison Percy. Sgt.
  • Asher Joseph Maurice.
  • Barnett John. (d.22nd August 1944)
  • Bartlett Henry. Flt.Sgt.
  • Beardwood George. Sgt. (d.10th May 1940)
  • Bird Samuel Edward.
  • Bird Samuel. (d.30th June 1941)
  • Burns Angus John. Sgt. (d.2nd September 1940)
  • Butler Harry Albert Clarence. P/O
  • Harvey John Henry.
  • Hodges Wilson Aubrey. (d.24th Oct 1941)
  • Hughes Francis Rodney. Flt.Sgt. (d.2nd/3rd June 1944)
  • Kennard Leslie John. Flt.Sgt (d.15/16 May 1941)
  • Parker Arthur William Henry. LAC.
  • Peacock Roger. Sgt. (d. )
  • Saunders Ernest John. Sqd. Ldr.
  • Shaw Jim. WO.
  • Staple Owen David. Wing Commander
  • Stone Jack. F/Lt.
  • Stone Jack. F/Lt.

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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Wing Commander Owen David Staple DFC 107 Squadron 14 Squadron 75 squadron 41 Squadron 40 Squadron

Owen David Staple was from Dec-1942 with 36(Mosquito) Operational Training Unit in Canada as a pilot; from February 1944 with 60 OTU in the United Kingdom; from June 1944 with 107 Squadron (Mosquito); from April 1948 14 Squadron in Japan; from November 1954 75 Squadron; from September 1959 with 41 Squadron in Malaya.

Decorations,Medals,Awards: DFC-1945, AFC-1960, 1939/45 STAR, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal 1939/45 War Medal, New Zealand War Service Medal, General Service Medal (Malaya).

Wing Commander Owen David Staple past away in 1974 at the age of 49. I am looking for more information on him as he died when I was 3 months old. The information is going towards the family tree so we do not forget the memories of the brave men and women of war.

Michael David Staple

Sgt. Roger "Pluto" Peacock 40 Sqd. (d. )

Roger Peacock was born in Liverpool on January 1, 1920. He joined the RAF in 1937 and was trained to be a wireless operator and a gunner on a Blenheim Bomber. His plane was shot down on July 26th, 1940 during an air raid near Wilhelmshaven in north-west Germany. He was taken prisoner and spent five years in German POW camps:Oberursel-Barth-Sagan-Heydekrug-Fallingbostel. He took part in the "Long March" before returning to Britain after liberation.

After two years in hospital he became a teacher. After his retirement he adopted the pen name "Richard Passmore" and wrote three autobiographical works published by Thomas Harmsworth Publishing London: "Blenheim Boy"(1981), "Moving Tent" about his time as a POW(1982)and "Thursday is Missing" about his childhood and youth in Liverpool(1984). He died in 1996.

After being discharged from hospital in 1947 he returned to Germany on a bicycle tour. During his stay at the youth hostel here in Osnabrueck he met a young man living in the neighbourhood, who invited him to get to know his family. This was the beginning of a lifelong friendship.

Gerhard Meyer-Ohle

LAC. Arthur William Henry Parker 40 Sqd.

Arthur Parker served overseas in Egypt and Italy from 11/2/42 until 30/12/45 with MEF and CMF. He was an Armourer. He died in 1995 and did not speak a lot about his experiences. We have his Service & Release Book, his Medals and an album of old photographs from his service period.

J E King

Sgt. Percy Addison 40 Sqn

Percy was the only surviving crew member of Wellington bomber R1167 from 40 Sqn RAF that was lost on a raid over Hannover on 15/16 May 1941. He was captured by German officers and spent the rest of the war in POW camps. After his return to the UK, he married his sweetheart, Barbara with whom he lived, in the north east until, his death in 2006. My great uncle Percy left behind an interesting collection of books, photos and correspondence from the war years.


Flt.Sgt. Henry Bartlett DFM Distinguished Flying Medal 40 Squadron

My father, Harry Bartlett, was born in Ramsbottom, Lancashire. After a bit of the usual teenage angst, he joined the Scots Guards before the War. Sporting a bearskin he guarded Windsor Castle. With the outbreak of hostilities, they were given despatch rider duties in the London area on an assortment of requisitioned motor-cycles. They were given much slower WD issue bikes when their mortality rate rose higher than front-line troops.

In due course the Guards were sent to Norway for the short-lived campaign of April 1940. Dad spent a little while looking at neutral Sweden a short distance away, and wondered how easy it would be to make a map-reading error and spend the rest of the war in neutrality. Instead he volunteered for pilot training, and learnt to fly in Florida and Georgia.

Returning to England, he subsequently flew a Wellington to North Africa with 40 squadron RAF, and spent a while bombing Sicily. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal - he says it was because it was his turn to get one rather than for anything particularly impressive. The aircraft was shot down, and Dad swam ashore, to spend the rest of the war in Stalag IVB in Germany. He rarely spoke of his time in the prison camp, but years later could be heard talking to himself in German at times.

Bill Bartlett

P/O Harry Albert Clarence "Hac" Butler 40 Squadron

My father, Harry Bulter enlisted June 42 aged 18 years 270 days. His initial training was at Point Cook, Victoria. He embarked for the UK in July 43 and arrived at 40 Squadron on 27.7.1944. We have a photo of the crew he flew with on his first operational flight, as an observer. The target was Ploesti. The photo clearly shows the effects of anti aircraft fire on the Wellington Mk 10 as it had being picked up by the master beam. My father returned to Ploesti twice more. His best man (Perce Harris) was also a pilot serving in the same squadron and he also completed two trips to Ploesti and his tour. On one occasion over Ploesti my father was attacked by a JU 88 night fighter. His tail gunner was credited with the destruction of the JU 88 and was awarded the DFC. My father completed his tour with his crew and was discharged in 1945.

My father's log book was stolen and on very rare occasions got to learn that it has been auctioned. I understand some pilot from either the Luftwaffe or Romania wrote of their experiences including Ploesti and we (my brother and sister) are keen to get a copy as it cites the action described previously.

Brex Butler

Sqd. Ldr. Ernest John Saunders DSO, DFC and Bar. 692 Squadron

I am looking for contacts with relatives of the late S/L Ernest John Saunders, DSO, DFC and BAR (RAFVR 108139), who flew a first tour with 40 Squadron and then a second and third tour with 692 Squadron. I am doing some researches on the 692 Squadron and would like to contact the relatives.

Adriano Silva Baumgartner

Flt.Sgt Leslie John Kennard 40 Squadron (d.15/16 May 1941)

Leslie Kennard and Friends

My Grt Uncle Leslie Kennard (1919-1941) was Flt Sgt on Wellington Bomber R1167 of 40 Sqn. While on a re-con mission over Hannover, Germany the plane developed engine trouble (details unknown) and went down. Only one crew member survived, Percy Addison who spent the remainder of the war as a POW. Any information about the rest of the crew would be greatly appreciated.

Clare Trend

Joseph Maurice Asher 40 Sqdn

My father, Joseph Asher was a Wireless operator, rear gunner. He flew on Blenheims, Wellingtons & Sterlings. He was with 40 Squadron. He found himself on the beach at Dunkirk and he spent some time attached to Monty's 8th Army in North Africa. He was part of the bombing of Dresden, Germany. In the 50's and 60's he used to wake up nights, screaming. The left over legacy from the conflicts. He died in 2001 at the age of 81.

Wilson Aubrey Hodges 40 Squadron (d.24th Oct 1941)

Died on 24th October 1941, flying as part of 40 Squadron.

H Garfield

WO. Jim "Shagger" Shaw 40 Squadron

My uncle Flt.Sgt. Jim Shaw WOP/AG of 40 Squadron was a member of the crew of 39923 Roderick W.Finlayson RNZAF the other members were Murray, Fletcher, Tuckwell, Beckett and Cawthraw. On the night of 11th May 1941 at 22.25hrs they took off to bomb the U Boat Yards in Hamburg flying in H for Harry.They were subsequently shot down about 01.00hrs on the 12th by Lieutnant Helmut Lent, later to become the Luftwaffe;s 2nd top night fighter Ace. That morning Lent also shot down another 40 Sqdn aircraft piloted by Freddie Luscombe and his crew who were Chappell, Mulligan, Harris, Hodges,and Long RNZAF.

F/Sgt Shaw was the W/Op that night, having swapped from rear Gunner with his friend, to keep his hand in on wireless duties. It would appear the aircraft blew up, my uncle stated he doesn't remember anything except falling through the sky and having a bright glow above him then passing out. He came to in a field with his feet in a stream and his chute around him.

He was subsequently found by farmers who put a rope around his neck and dragged him across fields to the village, stabbing at him with hay forks and kicking him continually, he was taken to a barn where the rope was placed over a beam. At that point a very large German kept kicking him; my uncle said he assumed he was going to be hanged so he spat at him whereupon he received another kicking. He said he had completely lost interest and felt so ill he just wanted them to get on with it.

Things subsequently quietened down and he was later rescued by German Forces. Upon his rescue a German Officer drew his pistol and pointed it at the villagers and began shouting and screaming at them. My uncle was then placed in a truck and taken to a hospital. He said from being taken prisoner by German Forces he was extremely well treated by them and the hospital staff and had excellent hospital treatment, being operated on for head injuries and a broken ankle.

After hospitalization he was taken to Stalag Luft 1 Barth Vogelsang; he was POW number either 9 or 10, he remained a POW until the war ended. All his crew are interred in the RAF Cemetery Nordfriedhof Kiel Row 4 C. He was the sole survivor of four aircraft shot down that night

He was promoted to Warrant Officer on his return to England.

Rodger Chamley-Shaw

Sgt. George Beardwood 40 Sqd. (d.10th May 1940)

George Beardwood died 10/05/1940 aged 27 and buried in Gravenzande General Cemetery in Holland. He was the son of Joseph & Margaret Beardwood of Blackburn Lancashire.

s flynn

Flt.Sgt. Francis Rodney "Rodney" Hughes 40 Squadron (d.2nd/3rd June 1944)

My Uncle Rodney was a member of 40 Squadron RAF from about November 1941 until his death in 1944. He was pilot of NL120 a Wellington X bomber that nominally had a crew of 6 but in actuality flew with a crew of 5, 2 Australians and 3 Brits.

At the time Uncle Rodney died they were flying night bombing missions from Foggia Main to the Balkans. In 1945 my mother, Isabelle Samuelson Hughes, who worked for the RAAF pay office in Sydney, was told by returning members of the Squadron that Uncle Rodney's plane had gone down over Yugoslavia but only 4 parachutes were seen and they felt Uncle Rodney had gone down with his plane after keeping the plane in the air as long as possible while his crew ejected.

This was all we knew for 62 years. Then I started research on the Internet in 2006 and found the family of the other Australian crew member who had travelled to Yugoslavia to find out what happened to the crew of Wellington Bomber NL120 on that fatal night of 2/3 June 1944.

Squadron were returning from night bombing raid over Giugiu, Romania to Foggia Main, Italy when NL120 crashed outside Krupac Yugoslavia. Eye witnesses to the crash (who were teenagers at the time) recounted that 4 crew members had successfully parachuted out -- this being consistent with the stories told to my mother. Two of the British crew were reunited in Krupac with many hugs but the crash had been witnessed by nearby Bulgarian Facist Soldiers who turned up in the village and took these two crew members prisoner never to be seen again. The third British crew member fled into the mountains and joined the partisans eventually making it back to England where he recounted his story for the BBC in about 2008.

The fourth Australian member died from bullet wounds inflicted by the Bulgarian soldiers while hanging in a tree from his parachute. Apparently a wedding ring was removed from this crew member's finger. The fifth Australian crew member was removed from the plane after it crashed.

The bodies were interred in Krupac Church and then after an extensive search in 1945/46 by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission were moved to the War Cemetery in Belgrade (back row). The grave does not carry any identification because it could not be reliably established which body was which. That is they knew that they were the two (2) Australians but they weren't sure whether it was Uncle Rodney who died in the tree or whether he died in the plane.

However, by putting together little clues we believe (i.e. the Hughes family) that it was Rodney who died in the tree. The little clues are a) Rodney wore a wedding ring and he was the only one married and b) the plane went into the ground nose first (eye witness evidence) which means the body recovered was in the rear of the plane. As the 2nd Australian Crew member was the rear gunner and that position was the most difficult to exit from (the gun turret had to swivel to just the right position to allow crawling, cramped exit and needed to be mechinacally OK). Therefore the odds are it was the 2nd Australian (not the pilot) who died in the plane.

The old Wellington Heavy Bomber was known to the aircrews as the Wimpie but there was nothing wimpish about those aircrews. 40 Squadron and its fellows in 236 Air Wing were the only Commonwealth forces ever to be placed under the command of a foreign power. They were seconded to the 205 Group, 15th USAAF under General Doolittle of atomic fame. General Doolittle did look after the aircrews of 40 squadron moving them from the tents in the ankle deep mud sea of Foggia Main aerodrome to a bombed out school house in Foggia village itself.

While under the command of the 15th USAAF it was agreed that the US Air Force with their lighter more manouverable planes would fly the daylight raids and the Commonwealth Squadrons with their heavier but more reliable bombers (the Wellington was slow and heavy but almost indestructible) would fly the night missions.

On 2nd June 1944 the American's had not flown because their planes could not cope with the weather but the RAF flew their regular night mission over the Roumanian oil fields. It must have been a horrible flight in bad weather over enemy territory. On the way back NL120 was seen circling over Krupac (it made at least 3 circuits over the valley) before crashing. Why it crashed is unknown but as the Wellington was known to fly with enormous damage it must have been engine damage of some kind.

To me personally it was amazing to learn the full story of Uncle Rodney's death exactly 62 years to the day after he died. Because that's what I haven't told you so far, I was sent this story on the night of 2/3 June 2006, 62 years to the day after he and his Australian comrade died. The only thing that I found sad was that my father had died exactly 5 years previously that is exactly 57 years after his beloved brother's death.

Claire Marie Hughes

Samuel Edward Bird 40 Sqdn.

Does anyone remember serving with Samuel Edward Bird? He was a rear gunner of a Wellington with 40 Squadron.

Paul Barsi

John Henry Harvey 40th Squadron

My father John Harvey was in 40 Squadron ground crew working on liberators. He travelled to Italy and North Africa. My brother and I regularly look at his photo collection and campaign medals. Sadly dad died in 1993.

Rosemary Eileen Rice

John Barnett 40 Sqdn. (d.22nd August 1944)

John Barnett was my grandfather, I have documentary evidence but no photo of him. I have been looking for weeks online to try and find a photo of him with no luck. He was 24 when he died in Budapest, Hungary. If anyone knows of, or has a photo of, him, I would be very grateful.

Lorraine Barnett

Samuel "Eddie" Bird 40 Sqdn. (d.30th June 1941)

My grandfather, Samuel `Eddie' Bird was a rear runner in a Wellington with 40 Squadron, killed June 1941. Does anyone remember him?

Paul Barsi

F/Lt. Jack Stone 40 Squadron

My father, Jack Stone served with 104 and 40 Squadrons.

Tim Stone

F/Lt. Jack Stone 104 Sqdn

My father Jack Stone was a navigator and bomb aimer in 40 and 104 Squadrons. I do not know the details but he was shot down, twice I think, and survived. He was originally a Sargeant and commissioned to Flight Lt. but again have no details.

Tim Stone

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