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No. 76 Squadron Royal Air Force in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- No. 76 Squadron Royal Air Force during the Second World War -

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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

No. 76 Squadron Royal Air Force

   No.76 Squadron, RFC, was formed at Ripon, Yorkshire, in 1916 as a Home Defence unit. In June 1919, the squadron was disbanded at Tadcaster.

No. 76 was re-formed in April 1937, at Finningley, Yorkshire, as a bomber unit equipped with Wellesleys, but by the outbreak of the Second World War it had been re-equipped with Hampdens and Ansons and had assumed the role of a Group (No. 5) training unit. In late September 1939, it moved and transferred to Upper Heyford and No. 6 (Training) Group, and in April 1940, was absorbed into No. 16 OTU.

No. 76 re-formed in May 1941 as a Halifax heavy bomber squadron in No. 4 Group. The second squadron to fly the Halifax, it began operations on the night of 12/13th June 1941, and maintained its offensive until the end of the European war.

The squadron bombed targets of the widest variety, from industrial centres, railways, gun batteries, oil and petrol installations, to the Channel Ports, Noball sites and concentrations of troops and armour. On the night of 10/11th April 1942, it dropped the first 8,000lb High Capacity bomb in a raid on Essen. It participated in a series of three attacks on the Tirpitz in the Trondheim area in March and April 1942, and in the raid on Peenemunde in August 1943. While No. 76 was operating in Europe, a detachment from No. 76 operated in the Middle East (in 1942) and then merged with a detachment from No. 10 Squadron to become No. 462 Squadron, RAAF.

On 7th May 1945, No.76 Squadron was transferred to Transport Command and began to convert to Dakotas. In September it moved to India for general transport duties and was renumbered No. 62 on 1 September 1946.
Airfields No. 76 Squadron RAF flew from.

  • RAF Finningley, Yorkshire. from 3rd to 23rd Sep 1939
  • RAF Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire from 23rd Sept 1939 to 18th April 1940 (became No16 OTU)
  • RAF West Raynham. reformed 30th April 1940 to 20th May 1940 (disbanded)
  • RAF Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire. reformed 12th Apr to 4th Jun 1941
  • RAF Middleton St. George, Durham from 4th June 1941 to 17th Sep 1942
  • RAF Linton-on-Ouse. from 17th Sept 1942 to 16th Jun 1943
  • RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor, Yorkshire. from 16th Jun 1943 to May 1945

The 2018 RAF Middleton St George Memorial Service will take place at memorial garden outside the St George Hotel at 10.30am on 11th November 2018, please arrive in good time. If you would like to lay a wreath please let us know before the service begins. Our memorial garden has recently been refurbished to remember those whose ashes lie in this place. If family members of those who served would like to have ashes placed in the garden, please get in touch so arrangements can be made.

The annual remembrance and reunion for all those who served at RAF Middleton St George will take place in June 2018 at the St George Hotel, Durham Tees Valley Airport. Please get in touch with the Memorial Association secretary John Hardy by emailing jphardy*AT*yahoo*DOT*com for details. (Please replace *AT* with the at sign and *DOT* with a full stop)


24th July 1941 Attack on the Scharnhorst

31st Jan 1942 First Attack on the Tirpitz

31st March 1942 Second Attack on the Tirpitz

27th April 1942 Third Attack on the Tirpitz

28th April 1942 Fourth Attack on the Tirpitz

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

Those known to have served with

No. 76 Squadron Royal Air Force

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Allan. Leslie Alexander . F/O (d.3rd/4th Mar 1943 )
  • Batchelor Ian F.F.. Sgt.
  • Bell John Leslie. LAC.
  • Bolt Roy Joseph. Flt Lt.
  • Booth William. W/O.
  • Bozier George Alfred . P/O (d.11th May 1943 )
  • Bristow A. E..
  • Brown. Stephen Hugh Colin . Sgt (d.17th Apr 1943 )
  • Cheshire Christopher. F/Lt.
  • Clack. Kenny . F/Sgt
  • Clinging. Brodie John . Sgt (d.17th Apr 1943 )
  • Clough R..
  • Colverson. Raymond Leonard . Sgt (d.3rd/4th Mar 1943)
  • Connolly John Raymond. PO (d.10th April 1942)
  • Coverley D W R. Sgt
  • David. John Arthur Ayliffe Morgans . P/O
  • Davies. Maurice Alfred Torwerth . Sgt
  • Edwards Haydn Winston. Sgt. (d.1943)
  • Elder Richard Walker. Sgt. (d.3rd Nov 1943)
  • Fidgeon Francis Christopher . Sgt (d.17th Apr 1943 )
  • Forster Malcom D..
  • Foster . P/O
  • Fowler H.
  • Golding William Ronald . F/O (d.3rd/4th Mar 1943 )
  • Greaves. William Charles .
  • Green Peter Harry Barrowclough P . Sgt (d.17th Jan 1943)
  • Hall Fred. Gnr.
  • Harris Leslie. Flt.Sgt. (d.29th June 1943)
  • Harveye Ronald George. LAC
  • Harveye Ronald George. LAC
  • Higgins Herbert Reginald. P/O. (d.28th June 1942 )
  • Hitchen. Keneth . Sgt (d.3rd/4th Mar 1943 )
  • Hoskins Bert Frederick. Sgt. (d.16th Jun 1942)
  • Hull Arthur Horace . F/Lt. (d.11th May 1943 )
  • Indseth Bjarne . Lt. (d.17th Jan 1943 )
  • Isaac Robert T .
  • Jonasson. Leonard Norman . Sgt (d.17th Apr 1943 )
  • Jones . Sgt.
  • Lamb. Leslie . Sgt (d.17th Jan 1943 )
  • Lawes. .
  • Lohnes B. I.. P/O
  • Loveridge Francis Roy.
  • Lucas Ronald Paul. Sgt. (d.29th June 1944)
  • MacGregor Joseph Donald . Flt.Sgt.
  • Mallen William Brown. F/O. (d.21st Feb 1945)
  • Mallen William Brown. F/O. (d.21st Feb 1945)
  • Mathews. Philip Edwin . Sgt (d.11th May 1943 )
  • Matthews Arthur John. F/O
  • Millner Wilfred. Sgt. (d.1st Jun 1940)
  • Moody. Malcolm Charles . Sgt (d.17th Jan 1943 )
  • Moore Joseph Howard. WO.
  • Muttart Elmer Bagnall. Flt.Sgt. (d.13th Oct 1941)
  • Northwood . W/O
  • Oldfield John Anthony. Sgt. (d. )
  • Painter. Walter John . P/O (d.11th May 1943 )
  • Park L N P. Sgt
  • Peterson G. E.. Flt Lt
  • Petts Stanley George. Flt.Sgt.
  • Phillis. J. A.. F/S (d.25th Jul 1944 )
  • Philp John Adam. P/O. (d.4th Jun 1942)
  • Platt Frederick James. Sgt (d.30th Mar 1943)
  • Powis Leslie. Flt.Sgt. (d.12th Aug 1944)
  • Rasmussen D.. P/O
  • Reynolds George Douglas. F/Lt.
  • RNAF Bjoern Naess.. Capt. (d.17th Jan 1943 )
  • Ross. Francis Owen . F/Sgt (d.17th Apr 1943 )
  • Saunders Alan Richard . Sgt (d.17th Jan 1943)
  • Sayer. George Charles Daniel . Sgt (d.4th Mar 1943 )
  • Scomerscales S. A.. (d.23rd Apr 1944)
  • Scott Reginald. F/Lt.
  • Shortland Gordon Campbell. P/O.
  • Smith C H M. Sgt
  • Smith Donald C. Wing Commander
  • Smith Donald C.. Wing Cdr.
  • Spirit William Walton. WO
  • Stillman Jack Thomas. Flt.Sgt. (d.20th Dec 1943)
  • Stinton. Alan Victory David . Sgt (d.17th Jan 1943 )
  • Strachan. John . Sgt (d.17th Apr 1943 )
  • Strange. Malcolm Block . Sgt
  • Thompson. .
  • Thompson. John Jocelyn . Sgt. (d.3rd/4th Mar 1943)
  • Thorpe Alfred. F/O. (d.30th March 1944)
  • Turner Geoffrey Austin. F/O. (d.10th Aug 1943)
  • Turvey H F . Sgt
  • Waite. Ron.
  • Waller Bruce Hamilton. F/O.
  • Warnock. James Leslie . LAC
  • Waterman Edward W.. Sgt.
  • Webber. Royston Robert Issac . Sgt (d.3rd/4th Mar 1943)
  • Wedderburn. Brian Walter Edward . Sgt (d.17th Apr 1943 )
  • Wesborn Thomas Henry. WO
  • White G D. Flight Sgt
  • Whittley. John René . Group Capt.
  • Wyatt Henry. F/O (d.22nd Jan 1944)
  • Yarrow Norman. Cpl.

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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Flight Sgt G D White MiD navigator 635 squadron

Flight Sgt G D White is still alive and the father of my friend. He was "mentioned in a despatch for distinguished service", he cannot recall what for, would anybody have any idea. He trained in Canada in 1941, went to 76 squadron and then to 635 squadron as a navigator. Any help or pointers would be appericated.

Neville Morrow

LAC Ronald George Harveye 76 Squadron

My father LAC Ronald George Harvey was at Holm-on-Spalding-Moor for part of the second world war with 76 Squadron. He joined in 10/4/1940. He was also at Leconfield and RAF Cosford. In March 1945 he was sent to the Middle East and discharged on 18/12/45.

My father died in 1996 and I have his RAF records. If anyone is still alive who knew him or can give me any more information on him and his service I would be very grateful as I am researching my family tree.

Cheryl Wild

LAC Ronald George Harveye 76 Squadron

My father LAC Ronald George Harvey was at Holm-on-Spalding-Moor for part of the second world war with 76 Squadron. He joined in 10/4/1940. He was also at Leconfield and RAF Cosford. In March 1945 he was sent to the Middle East and discharged on 18/12/45.

My father died in 1996 and I have his RAF records. If anyone is still alive who knew him or can give me any more information on him and his service I would be very grateful as I am researching my family tree.

Cheryl Wild

Malcom D. Forster 76 Squadron

My Father, Malcom D. Forster flew with 76 Squadron, his aircraft was named Der Federmous. He flew out of the Holme on Spalding Moor base from March 1944 through to May 1945. He did a total of 37 sorties. The the crew were:
  • Pilot - F/L G.E. Peterson
  • Navigator - P/O D. Rasmussen
  • B/A - P/O B.I. Lohnes
  • W/OP - W/O Northwood
  • Eng - Sgt. Jones
  • R/G - P/O Foster
  • M/UG - P/O M.D. Forster

Larry Forster

Sgt. John Anthony " " Oldfield 76 Squadron (d. )

On the evening of June 1,1942 a Halifax II, serial number W1064 Code MP—J from 76 Squadron took off from RAF Middleton St. George at 2306 on a bombing Ops to Essan. On its homebound journey the Halifax II's starboard engine began to seize. The aircraft was attacked by a night fighter and severely damaged, the tail section was described later as “virtually exploding”.

The pilot of the night fighter was Lt. Heinz Wolfgang Schnaufer. Schnaufer would become the most decorated night fighter from W.W. II with 121 acknowledged victories. And this Halifax, according to the log, was the first bomber he shot down. The attack was certainly successful from his perspective and the Halifax bomber crashed at 0145 in the area of Bossutand Grez-Doiceau (Brabant) 15 km south of Leuven Belgium.

Two members of the six man crew were reported killed in action: Sergeant (Pilot) Thomas Robert Augustus West and Sergeant (Air Gnr.) John Robert Thompson. Four survived and landed by parachute. Two members of the crew, Sergeant W. J. Norfolk and Sergeant P. Wright, managed to evade capture and were eventually returned to the UK.

The other two members of the crew, PO Walter B Mulligan RNZA and W/O John Oldfield, were taken Prisoner of War. Mulligan, POW No 292 was transported to Stalag Luft 3 . Oldfield, POW No 518, like Mulligan, was first taken to the interrogation centre, Dulag Luft, then on to Stalag Luft 3. Oldfield was later moved to Stalag 357 from which he joined The March in 1945. Mulligan, due to his poor health, was repatriated to England in 1944 from Luft 3 as part of a prisoner exchange.

The following is an account taken from my father's diary and refers to how Christmas Day was spent in Camp 357 in 1944.

Christmas Day 1944:

After a month of skimping and scraping and almost literally starving, Christmas Day arrived. A fortunate last-minute issue of coal from the detaining powers enabled us to cook our meals for the day and a very pleasant day we had. The following is an account of our (that is Steve, Oggie, Peter and my day day.

Eight-thirty in the morning double-strength German coffee arrived from the cookhouse and Steve, noble fellow, arose and we had a good brew and two slices of bread and jam in bed. A cigarette and then a wash and shave prior to our early morning parade. It was bitterly cold out there on parade but a wintry sun was half smiling on us. The thought of a fire in the barrack to go back to cheered us somewhat and on dismissal we dashed back to prepare our Christmas Breakfast.

Oggie and Steve were soon at work on the stove and by ten fifteen we sat down to porridge, tea and an oat cake; a good grounding for our day’s feed.

Pots and tins to be washed, Peter and I soon had these done, and away we went on a few brisk circuits of the campground. Hands and feet were soon warm and our bodies glowed with the exercise.

After an hour walking it was “skilly” time and we returned to the room to eat our German soup which for once was really good. The soup was followed by a treacle tart made by Steve, our cook, and was enjoyable. The Christmas Spirit began to enter our souls. Again we perambulated, this time to call on friends. Everyone was happy and in every room a good fire was blazing and the aroma of cooking was in the air. On a quarter parcel issue the show our boys have made has been truly magnificent.

Once more we retired to our room, this time to partake of a mid-afternoon brew, a rare luxury, for this time it was accompanied by an oat cake. The pots washed, we commenced preparations for our Christmas Dinner.

Oggie now became Maitre du Table. Tins were opened and our Christmas Pud (made from crusts of black bread) was put on the stove to warm. All is scurry and bustle and within an hour our meal was ready to be served. After months of “belting”, what a meal: four ounces of bacon, two and half of Spam, a little scrambled egg, potatoes and swedes . . . all delicious and filling.

Then came the pud, a goodly portion each, rather burnt but do we care? No sir! Oggie has made us a little custard and with our spoons, away we go. Now we are really full, satisfied and contented and warm. If only we were home every meal would be like this one. We relax and smoke a cigarette. We are all drowsy and an hour soon passes. Soon we are again washing cups and plates and my duties commence. I am to prepare the table for our little gathering at seven thirty.

I took real care in the layout but at last it was done. A white table cloth, a Christmas Tree and a cake with a frill (made from toilet paper) around it. There was a menu card for each man and the effect was great.

At seven thirty we cut our cake (this of Steve’s making) and really delightful it was. We couldn’t eat it all at so something was saved for later. Then another cigarette and a natter about old times finishing at nine when, in coffee, we toasted Absent Friends. A walk around the compound and then to bed after a quiet but warm and un-hungry Christmas Day.

Michael Oldfield

F/Lt. George Douglas "Josh" Reynolds 76 Squadron

I have my father's Pilot Log Book, he was Josh Reynolds and flew with 76 Squadron, the book contains some interesting info on raids during 1943-44. My father died in 1952 and I would love to know if there is anyone still alive who knew him.

Jane Reynolds

Wing Commander Donald C Smith DSO, DFC. 76 Squadron

Donald Smith is my late uncle. His log book records the follow missions with 76 Sqd:
  • 26.1.43 Lille;
  • 11.3.43 Stuttgart;
  • 12.3.43 Essen;
  • 26.3.43 Duisberg;
  • 27.3.43 Berlin;
  • 29.3.43 Berlin;
  • 3.4.43 Essen;
  • 4.4.43 Kiel;
  • 20.4.43 Stettin;
  • 12.5.43 Duisberg;
  • 13.5.43 Bochum;
  • 11.6.43 Aachen;
  • 15.7.43 Montbeliard;
  • 13.8.43 Milan;
  • 16.9.43 Modane;
  • 3.10.43 Kassel;
  • 11.11.43 Cannes;
  • 18.11.43 Mannheim
Can anyone fill in any details?

Richard Stokes

Sgt. Bert Frederick Hoskins 76 Squadron (d.16th Jun 1942)

My uncle, Bertie Hoskins, was part of the RAF 76 Squadron in WW2. He was a tail gunner (rear gunner) in Halifaxes. In 1942 he was based at Middleton St George.

He had flown many raids over Germany including the famous 1000 bomb raid over Cologne and was also involved in bombing the Tirpitz in the Fjords. After all that activity his fate was when returning from a training mission. As the Halifax flew in to Middleton St George on 16th June 1942 it appears the plane wing clipped a tree causing an engine to catch fire. The plane crash landed. All but Bertie managed to get out. The crew tried to save him but could not return to the now crashed plane. When rescuers eventually got to Bertie he was still alive but lost his life as he was transferred to a local hospital.

I was in contact with someone who is in contact with a member of that crew who remembers that crash very well and how poor Bertie was so unlucky that day. Alas I have lost contact, but cherish how he recalled the events of that fateful day.

It would be great if I could find pictures from Bertie's time in the RAF or to hear from anyone who has relatives living from that squadron who may remember him. I would love to have met him but that was not to be.

He was only 22 like so many of the men and women serving their country who lost their lives too young. He will never be forgotten. From a very proud niece.

Lorraine Lowe

F/O Arthur John Matthews 76 Squadron

My late father, Arthur John Matthews, known as Johnnie, served in the RAF as a Rear Gunner during WW2. He was based somewhere in Yorkshire and flew with the following crew in a Halifax Q named "Queenie" of the 76 Squadron:
  • Wing/Cdr Whyte (Chick)
  • Navigator P/O Wilkinson (Wilky)
  • Bomb Aimer F/Lt Simpson (Eddy)
  • Flight Engineer P/O Hughes (Sid)
  • Wireless Operator F/Sgt Allen (Bert)
  • Mid Upper Gunman F/O Souster (Harry)
  • Rear Gunner F/O Matthews (Johnnie)
The picture enclosed of the Halifax plane was taken 25th April 1945 on their way to bomb Wangerooge in Germany, Coastal defence batteries.
The Air Gunners training group is pictured with reference to Squad 4, No.122 Course d.d. 18th Oct 1943.

My Dad did not tell war stories at all, but he did mention once that his squadron went out without him, due to his being sick with flu, and they were shot down by enemy fire. He was obviously devastated and never got over being the only survivor under such chance circumstances. I also had film taken from the rear gunner's position during a live fight, but unfortunately it was destroyed.

If anyone has information on this squadron or specifically about my Dad, I would be very interested to hear more.

Lesley Heger

Flt.Sgt. Jack Thomas Stillman 76 Squadron (d.20th Dec 1943)

Jack Stillman was the pilot of Halifax bomber. We believe he died whilst bombing Franfurt on 20th December 1943. He is buried in Hanover War Cemetary in Germany.

Lesley O'Hanlon

Cpl. Norman "Silver" Yarrow 78 Squadron

My father, Norman Yarrow, was employed in the Locomotive works in Darlington. Shortly after the outbreak of war he volunteered to join the R.A.F. His basic training took place in Blackpool and then he was trained as a Flight mechanic.

He was posted to 76 Squadron at R.A.F. Middleton St. George which was a newly constructed airfield. 76 Squadron were the first to operate from this station. Shortly after opening, 76 Squadron was joined by 78 Squadron at Middleton. (Also known locally as Goosepool) As he was fortunate enough to live in Darlington, only five miles from the airfield he was granted an S.O.P. (sleeping out pass) On some occasions, in school holidays, I would ride along with him on the morning trip to “work.” I was nine years old at that time. I took sandwiches and spent a large part of the day sitting on the fence beside the railway lines which formed the airfield boundary. I was about 25 yards from a dispersal point and watched all the activity. On my many vigils I watched the “Erks” doing routine maintenance, armourers bombing up and fitting ammunition belts, I knew that this indicated that the squadron would be operating that night. Later on when I was at home in bed I could hear the aircraft taking off and circling before setting course for the target of that nights raid.

I remember that there always seemed to be plenty of activity during the day. I particularly liked to watch the aircraft after an air test when they approached the main runway, they flew directly over my head and seemed very low. I recall one occasion when an Oxford from some other airfield collided in mid air with one of the 76 Squadron aircraft doing “circuits and bumps.” Some of the wreckage fell at the far side of the airfield closer to the River Tees. There were no survivors!

I did return to Middleton St. George some years later when, as a Cadet I was taught to fly in a Kirby Cadet. It is now a civilian airport and I have used it to fly to a holiday destination. I still remember the Halifaxes though!

Clifford Yarrow

Wing Cdr. Donald C. Smith DSO DFC. 76 Squadron

I have a flask that was presented to Wing Commander D.C. Smith of 76 Squadron from the crew; Frank Hart, Steve Palmer, Ron Kirkwood, Pete Harris, Red Thompson, Geoff Cranswick.

The flask lists the following missions:

  • 26.1.43 Lille,
  • 11.3.43 Stuttgart,
  • 12.3.43 Essen,
  • 26.3.43 Berlin,
  • 27.3.43 Berlin,
  • 3.4.43 Essen,
  • 4.4.43 Kiel,
  • 20.4.43 Stettin,
  • 12.5.43 Duisburg,
  • 13.5.43 Bochum,
  • 11.6.43 Dusseldorf,
  • 12.6.43, Bochum,
  • 12.7.43 Aachen,
  • 15.7.43 Montbeliard,
  • 13.8.43 Milan,
  • 16.9.43 Kassel,
  • 11.11.43, Cannes,
  • 18.11.43 Mannheim.
This site has a posting from his nephew seeking information about the same missions, I have attempted to contact him via E-mail but not sure if the email has reached him. Any information on both the wing commander or the men who served under him will help me put some life to the flask Additionally if anyone can put me in touch with his nephew it would be most appreciated.

Arie Kepets

S. A. Scomerscales 76 Squadron (d.23rd Apr 1944)

While walking in the Mechelen area in the south-eastern part of the Netherlands we found a Monument for two RAF airmen of 76 Squadron, S. A. Somerscales and H. R. Poole, died on April 23 1944.

Frans Kohl

P/O. Gordon Campbell Shortland DFM 76 Squadron

My father meet Gordon Shortland, MD in the early 1960's. Until Gordon's death last month, October 2013, it was not known, by dad, that he flew in the RAF during WWII. I have done some research from the Australian War Memorial and his DFM citation states he did 34 night & 6 daylight 'Operational Sorties', about 210 hrs and only had 1 (G) Outstanding sorties or incidents - "Laval 9.6.44 Bombed in rain below cloud at 450 feet hit by bomb fragmentation".

He also may have trained as 2nd pilot.

Other raids start with

  • Etompes 20 Sept 1943,
  • Frankfurt 20 Dec 1943,
  • Berlin 24(29) Dec 1943,
  • Magdeburg 21 Jan 1944,
  • Berlin 28 Jan 1944,
  • Le Mans 13 Mar 1944,
  • Stuttgart 15 Mar 1944,
  • Frankfurt 18 MAr 1944,
  • Dusseldorf 22 Apr 1944
  • Karlsrune 24 Apr 1944,
  • Villeneune(?) St. George 26 Apr 1944,
  • Montzen 27 Apr 1944,
  • Arheres 30Apr 1944,
  • Molines 1 May 1944, Mantes-Gassicourt 6 May 1944,
  • Berneval 9 May 1944,
  • Lens 10 May 1944,
  • Boologne 19 May 1944,
  • Orleans 22 May 1944,
  • BourgLeopold 28 MAy 1944,
  • Martinuast (F.D'urville) 1 June 1944,
  • Trappes 2 June 1944,
  • Mount Fleury 5 June 1944,
  • St.Lo 6 June 1944,
  • Jurisy 7 June 1944,
  • Laval 9 June 1944 (as previously noted),
  • Longueau 12 June 1944,
  • St.Martin L'Hortier 1 July 1944,
  • Chateau Bernardre 9 July 1944,
  • Thiverny 12 July 1944,
  • Nocourt 15 July 1944,
  • Caen(H2) 18 July 1944,
  • Acquet 18 July 1944,
  • Bottrop(Essen) 21 July 1944,
  • Kiel 23 July 1944,
  • Stuttgart 24 July 1944,
  • Foret del Vieppe 28 July 1944,
  • Villers Bocage 30 July 1944,
  • Weimars Cappell 11 Aug 1944.
Some of the writing is fairly hard to make out so I have done my best, sorry to the French if I have misspelt some places.

If there is anybody who remembers him, I know that he was 90 when he died, so the chances are small, please contact me. His 2 surviving sons would like to know a little more, so would I.

Scott Byrne

LAC. John Leslie "Jock" Bell 76 Squadron

My Grandfather, John Bell who died some years ago was a leading Aircraftsman with 76 squadron during the Second war. He volunteered for service to join the RAF so he would avoid the call up to either the Army or Navy. He was a master joiner by trade and as a result worked on airframes against his desire to learn propulsion and mechanics. He served at Holme on Spalding moor, Linton on Ouse and Middleton St George and the went abroad to India with 76 squadron. He was by all accounts a good friend of Leonard Cheshire who was the squadron commander. We have a book signed by Mr Cheshire to my grandfather.

I am trying to research my grandfathers service and any help would be very appreciated.

Andrew Bell

Flt.Sgt. Leslie Powis 76 Squadron (d.12th Aug 1944)

Leslie Powis was my Mum's brother. He joined up after his best buddy was killed along with all his family when his home in Barnsbury Road, Islington, London was hit by a bomb. There is still a green area where the house once stood.

He was lost on 12th August 1944 at 21:44 while flying from RAF Holme on Spalding Moor to Russelheime Opal motor works. He was shot down at Quint Germany near the French- Luxembourg border.

He was flying a halifax MkIII Serial# LW695

The crew on that fateful night were.

  • Flight Lt. O. R 'Ron' Cramer Pilot (Kiwi) commemorated on the Runneymede memorial, Surrey, England.
  • Flight Sgt. O. Thomas buried in the Rheinberg War Cemetery 8.G.19, Germany.
  • Flight Sgt. L.W. Powis commemorated on Panel 212 Runneymede memorial, Surrey, England.
  • Sgt. C. Astall
  • Sg. W.B. Collins commemorated on Panel 227 Runeymede Memorial, Surrey, England. S
  • Sgt. K.S. Bolton buried in the Rheinberg War Cemetery 8.G.18, Germany.
  • Sg. J. Duncan commemorated on Panel 228 Runneymede memorial, Surrey, England.

    I would love to see any photos.

  • Nicholas Furtek

    F/O Henry Wyatt 76 Squadron (d.22nd Jan 1944)

    Harry Wyatt was my dad's older brother, who was killed on a raid on Magdeburg on the evening of January 21/22 1944. He was 21 years old. He trained as a navigator in Moncton, New Brunswick and also Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada.

    Valerie Allan

    LAC James Leslie Warnock. 76 Sqd


    William Charles Greaves. 76sqn

    William Greaves served as an MT fitter.

    Ron Waite. 76 Sqd.

    I had scarcely embarked on my course of training, when I was recalled to 76 Squadron, my log book being endorsed 'course incomplete'. Back at Middleton St George, I was included in the crew of Flt Sgt Kenny Clack. A few days later, we were briefed to fly to Tain in Scotland. Earlier in the year, the squadron had operated against the German battleships sheltering in a Norwegian fjord. We knew that Tain was to be an advanced base for a similar mission. The previous operations had not been to successful so, this time we had to wait for ideal conditions; this meant a full moon and Aasen fjord free of fog. After waiting for several days at Tain, on the 27th April, weather conditions were ideal and the operation was on. I felt calm as I looked forward to my first operation against the enemy. It seemed an awesome responsibility for the nineteen year old Kenny, as Captain on such a mission. My position in the crew was that of 2nd 'dickie' as the second pilot was called. I was being taken more for the operational experience than the simple duties I had to perform. It was a perfect evening, as the Halifaxes queued behind each other on the perimeter track, waiting for a take off signal. The aircraft had a rather odd appearance because, as well as the six 500 pounders on board, a specially designed 4000lb 'blockbuster bomb' was being carried. This bomb looking like a huge dustbin, was so large it could not be contained inside the bomb bay with the doors closed- these had to be pumped up by hand until they rested on the belly of the bomb. The armourers had a difficult, sweaty job, winching these monsters on board and one described the Halifax's appearance as that of a pregnant mayfly. We observed strict radio silence as we waited in the evening sunshine for the green very light to send us on our way. The atmosphere inside the aircraft was expectant rather than tense; I looked around at the other aeroplanes, with their four propellers gently turning over; they resembled patient gun dogs, awaiting their masters command to go. I glanced at Kenny, his face almost hidden by the oxygen mask; his eyes alert and ready for the operation ahead. Our C.O. Wing Commander Young, was the first to turn on to the runaway and take off. I felt - we probably all did- an inward excitement at the sound of the Merlin engines as they opened to full power. Within a minute our turn came. "Alright chaps here we go" Kenny announced quietly over the intercom. Soon S for Sugar was pounding down the runway. My only duty was to lick the throttle levers and adjust the rev's when instructed by Kenny. The aircraft was performing well and we felt more relaxed, now that we were on course for Norway. The long flight over the North Sea was rather tedious. Way ahead, I could just make out the winco's aeroplane, steadily on course; not far behind were three other Halifaxes being flown by Mike Renault, Hank Iveson and Johnny Harwood. The sun was sinking behind us and the full moon, pale as yet, was climbing into the darkening sky. I could no longer see the other aircraft. The four Merlins, with perfect synchronisation, seemed to be purring in the cold air, their exhausts glowing dull red against the dark sky. As we approached the Norwegian coast, Tommy , our Canadian navigator, was looking for a well defined island, which was to be our first turning point. From his position in the nose of the aircraft, he called on the intercom; skipper this is the navigator, I cant be certain of the particular island yet, will you maintain the present course;' Roger Tommy' replied Kenny. Several minutes later Tommy called again; ' Hello skipper I cant see the island but have identified Kristiansund, about 30 miles south of our correct turning point, will you steer a new course 068 degrees'. The pilot made a gentle turn to port, straightening up when the compass heading was precisely on 068 degrees. 'Hello navigator on course now' Kenny confirmed. A brilliant moon lit the snow capped mountains which rose sheer from the fjords. Although a romantic sight in other circumstances, tonight, the moonlight was ominous for ourselves- the attacking force- and the enemy. The Norwegians in their isolated farms, and hamlets, hearing the sound of our engines, were aware that British bombers were overhead. Now and again lights appeared from windows, several times we saw curtains being drawn and withdrawn. These brave people were sending us the famous victory signal. I wished we could have let them know what terrific encouragement it gave to us, death would have been the penalty had they been caught. The time was approaching 0015 hours, during briefing, we had been instructed not to bomb the Tirpitz a moment later than 0030 hours, because 10 and 35 squadrons were flying in with a low level attack. Realising we could not meet this deadline, our Captain decided we must bomb the alternative target - the battleships Von Scheer and Prinz Eugen, which were sheltering in a fjord, south of the primary target. A few miles ahead, the sky was filled with the flashes of exploding 'flak'. Our spot in the sky seemed unnaturally quiet when, with frightening suddenness, searchlights started appearing form nowhere - flashing across the sky searching for us. Tommy's voice came over the intercom; 'Skipper the target is coming up keep her steady' two searchlights flashed across us, lighting the cockpit with a split seconds brilliance but were unable to hold us. 'Skipper I cant see the ships they are down there in that smoke keep steady on this course'. 'Ok Tommy' replied Kenny, his voice showing only slightly the strain he must have been feeling. As we rapidly approached the mountain side of the fjord, Tommy's voice calmly said, 'Steady...steady...steady, bombs gone'. Immediately Kenny took a violent turn to starboard - to avoid the mountain and the light flak we were flying through. As we were escaping from the target area, Tommy's voice came urgently over the intercom; 'Kenny that bloody 4000 pounder has hung up' right, we'll do another run in, we haven't come this far to drop it in the sea' there was surprising fury in Kenny's boyish voice. 'Skipper get back on course 080 degrees ' the turn took us temporarily away from the flak guns. A minute or so later Kenny called the navigator, 'on 080 degrees now', 'ok skip' replied Tommy,'a few degrees left, steady...hold that. I'm going to release manually' 'Steady... Left a bit.. Stedy.. Bomb gone'. We felt a distinct lurch upwards, Kenny and I looked at each other hopefully - the bomb had probably gone. For the second time, our pilot took a steep turn away from the target, then straightened up, climbing to clear the mountain. As we did so a large black fjord appeared below. All hell was suddenly let loose. The sporadic flak became a barrage we were flying over the Tirpitz. The rest of the squadrons were almost certainly on their way home and, because we were late we were now a target for the Nazi's fury. It was like putting a foot in a hornets nest. Venomous red jets were flashing from the Tirpitz's guns; shells were exploding all around us. Kenny through the Halifax all over the place, but there was no evading all the gunfire. He banked so steeply, I thought I would fall on top of him. At times we were flying so low that searchlights appeared to be pointing down on us. Several shells exploded so close that we could hear the pieces of shrapnel puncturing the fuselage. As we were desperately trying to escape from the fjord, 'Tubby' Lawes, our flight engineer, broke in over the intercom; ' skipper, the port inner temperature is winding itself up - we'll keep it going till we are out of this s***'. 'O.k Tubby - bomb door lights are still on too' said Kenny. Every second seemed an age, as we gradually left that hellfire behind us. 'Hello skipper - flight engineer- feather the port inner, the port inner now'. Almost as he spoke, my hand was moving to throttle back and put the 'prop' in fine pitch. All gunfire had now ceased, only one or two searchlights fingered the sky in a belated attempt to find us. For a moment, no one in the aircraft spoke, Kenny, our Captain, was the first to break the unnatural silence. ' Weel chaps whats the situation ? I'm maintaining height on three motors' it was tubby lawes who answered; ' a petrol tank has been holed, the fuel gauge is going down rapidly, i will feed the other engines as long as i can on the holed tank' Tommy Thompson, our Canadian navigator, added to the bad news; 'Bomb doors have been damaged, Skipper, they wont close'. Kenny was still adjusting the rudder trimmer to correct for the loss of the engine as he said; 'We're still over 600 miles from base, do you think we will have enough fuel, Tubby', 'It will be a close thing'. 'The alternative is to make for Sweden' said Kenny 'We'll put it to the crew' 'There are two destroyers in the North Sea, spaced on our return flight path, in case we're in trouble,' I observed. It was Tommy who forward the first firm proposal; ' I suggest we make for Scotland'. We all agreed and settled down to face the formidable journey back. Once Kenny had trimmed the Halifax for straight and level flight, his task was to remain awake and alert during the tedious four hours ahead, the flight engineer now had the most important task of watching his fuel gauges, working out the best use of the fuel and changing the tank cocks as required. The only thing I could do was to adjust the revs levers to keep the three engines synchronised. The hours dragged on and fuel was getting dangerously low; we had to face the possibility of ditching in the sea, we were almost resigned to this, when Tubby, who had been peering out from the astrodome above his head , almost yelled; 'Good God Kenny I think I can see a light in the distance' just a vestige of dawn light was appearing as we all scanned the sky. 'I can see it too' called the wireless operator. 'What do you think it is?' I asked Tommy, who had the best view from the nose of the aircraft. 'It must be - yes, it is -Wick'. We were all babbling with excitement over the intercom, when Kenny cut in; 'Hold on a minute chaps - I am not sure we can get down at Wick'. In our enthusiasm we had forgotten it was Kenny's formidable task to put the Halifax down safely on three engines. 'Whats the petrol situation now? Kenny asked the Flight Engineer, 'Do you think it will last out to tain?' ' Just about' replied Tubby, 'but with damn all to spare' it had been nine hours since we took off from tain. When we spotted the airfield again no one spoke. We all felt the tension Kenny must have experiencing as he concentrated on making the landing. There was no room for error- the first attempt had to be the only one. There could be no second chance. On the approach Kenny quietly gave me instructions; 'Twenty six fifty revs- undercarriage down-full flap.' I watched tensely as Kenny held the aircraft straight till the final squeal of the tyres indicated that we were safely down, almost everyone shouted 'Hooray'. 'Jesus' exclaimed one. 'Bloody good Kenny' said another. Suddenly, all the emotional relief at having survived this baptism of fire came to the surface. Shortly after landing, all three engines cut- one after the other- as the last petrol tank became drained. I am not sure whether I felt pride, satisfaction or relief at having completed my first operation. A few days later, we heard through the grapevine that kenny clack had been recommended for an immediate D.F.C for this operation. The good weather held and the squadron was ordered to operate against the tirpitz agfain on the following night. Our previous aircraft had 58 holes caused by shrapnel, apart from the damage to the bomb doors, so we took the spare machine.

    Ron Waite.

    Flt Lt. Roy Joseph Bolt DFC, DSO. 76th Squadroon

    My dear step-father Roy Bolt did not talk about the war but I know that he flew bombers in WW2. After he died in 2010 I found all his war memorabilia in his safe. Medals, also his silver RAF cigarette case and a cutting from the London Gazette on how he and Flying Officer Frederick Philip Graham Hall (159448) had won their DFCs. I have photos and his service record, also a plan of the admin/technical site.

    Robin Platt

    F/O. Bruce Hamilton Waller 76 Squadron

    I just came across a newsletter on the internet while doing some research on my Grandfather Bruce Waller and found an article about the passing of a fellow crew mate of his:

    “Tommy and I were together from A.C.R.C. St Johns Wood to our screening op on the 30th October 1944. We were Co Gunners and flew with Dick Smith, a New Zealander from Tauranga. On the 13th of March 2012, Dick, regretfully, passed on, and now I have lost Tommy, which I believe leaves me as the remaining survivor of our crew I know little of his pre RAF life, other than he was interested in art, and was in fact a pretty good water colours artist. In later life, he became a successful Sign writer, running his own business in West Yorkshire. He was a keen cyclist and a member of one of his local cycle clubs, certainly more than he was when at Holme, when he would borrow my bike when he felt like a ride. As co gunners, we gelled pretty well together and defended our crew to the best of our ability. I couldn’t have wished for a better partner, who loved his pint of stout. Rest in Peace, Tommy, We’ll meet again,Jimmy Bage”.

    My Grandfather was Bruce Waller and he was the Navigator on the same crew with Jimmy Bage and Tom "Bobby" Breen, Pilot Dick Smith as well as "Corky" Corkrum and Sandy Saunders. He was with 76 Squadron from August 43-Dec 44 and flew on the Halifax called "The Gen" (based on one of the photos I have).

    Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away in 1991. I am trying to see if Mr Jimmy Bage still around? It would be truly amazing to get in touch with him to see if he remembers my grandfather.

    I have my Grandfather's Flight Log book which shows he flew over 70 missions with Pilot Dick Smith and I have a photo of "The Gen" crew with all the crew names listed above written on the back. I also have a very nice hand painted 76 Squadron "Resolute" Bomber crest signed by T.Breen in Dec 1946. Any assistance you can provide is greatly appreciated.

    Steve Waller

    Flt.Sgt. Joseph Donald "Mac" MacGregor C Flight 76 Squadron

    Don Macgregor, 3rd from rt, and crew of Halifax bomber

    Written on the back of the photo of Don MacGregor's Halifax bomber and crew

    My Dad Joseph Donald MacGregor was a Flight Sargent navigator with 76 Squadron on a Mark III Halifax, Holme-on-Spalding-Moor, in Yorkshire during 1944/45. All I know about his time there is what he wrote on the back of a photograph he had of his bomber, (Son of Satan) and his flight crew. He was sometimes called "Mac" or Don, never by his first name of Joseph. As far as I can make out, members of his crew were:
    • F/Sgt Bill Williams, rear gunner, RCAF
    • F/Sgt 'Cobber' Walker, wireless op, RNZAF
    • F/Sgt Don MacGregor, navigator, RCAF
    • Sgt Danny Carp, bomb aimer, RAF
    • Sgt ?, flight engineer, RAF
    • F/O Neat, Pilot, RAF
    • Sgt Bill Brewer, mid gunner, RAF

    If there is anyone out there who knew my dad or any of his crew, I would be happy to hear from you.


    W/O. William Booth DFC. 76 Squadron

    I am trying to locate relatives of: F/O William Booth, DFC (RAFVR 156447), of F/O John George Gunnell (RAFVR 135649) of W/O E. Butcher (RAF 540013) and P/O G. Griffiths (RAFVR 173600) They were survivors aboard the Halifax Mark III serial MZ530, codes MP*U shot down on April 1944, near Düsseldorf.

    Any information or pictures of those airmen most welcomed,

    Adriano Silva Baumgartner

    Sgt. Ronald Paul Lucas 76 Squadron (d.29th June 1944)

    Sergeant Ronald Paul Lucas, RAFVR, an Air Gunner of 76 Squadron which flew Halifax bombers at the time of his death, 29 June 1944. His parents were Harry and Ruby Lucas of Blackburn. As a Scouting Archivist I have been given an historic pictorial record of a defunct Blackburn Scout Group. One of the collections consists of photographs of past Boy Scouts from the Group who went off to fight in WW2 which includes Ronald's photograph.

    Ray Fairwood

    F/Lt. Reginald Scott 76 Sqdn

    Reg Scott was my dad, he trained with C Flight, No 1 Squadron, 5 I.T.W. and this photo was taken in May 1940, the reverse which has been signed by almost all of those in the photo (I assume). My dad is on the back row on the extreme right as you view the photo. He flew with the RAF as a Halifax Navigator and survived the war. The experience took its toll however and he took his own life in 1959.

    I am interested in is finding anyone who knows or knew anyone in the photograph.

    Tony Scott

    Gnr. Fred Hall 76 Squadron

    I have my Dad Fred Hall's Flying Log Book as a air gunner from 29th December 1943 to 18th March 1944 stationed at Stormy Down. He flew in Ansons, Wellingtons, and Halifax's. His final unit from 16th October 1944 was with 76 Squadron. The amazing thing about the crew he was with - Dad, Kit, Jim, Willie, Jock, Norman and Johnny was that they all survived the war.

    One of the crew was writing a book and was in correspondence with my Dad, but he died in 2000 and I have no information about which member it was. I would love to hear from anyone who can provide me with details.

    Vivien Overton

    Flt.Sgt. Stanley George Petts 76 Sqdn.

    Rear Gunner Stanley Petts served with 76 Squadron.

    Sgt. Ian F.F. Batchelor 76 Squadron

    Ian Batchelor was a wireless operator/air gunner with 76 Squadron.

    Mike Batchelor

    F/O. William Brown Mallen 76 Squadron (d.21st Feb 1945)

    Flying Officer William Mallen was a navigator in the RCAF.

    Gary Clarke

    P/O. John Adam Philp 76 Sqd. (d.4th Jun 1942)

    John Philp served with 58 and 76 squadrons operationally flying Whitleys and Halifaxs. Details from his Pilots flying log book state: John Adams Philp was born on 28th February 1921 at 44 Henleage Avenue, Bristol. He attended Dover College and then the Medical School at the University of Bristol where he volunteered for service with the RAFVR. His flying training commenced at No.17 EFTS (elementary flying training school) RAF North Luffenham on 19th April 1941, where he flew DH 82As, finally flying solo and then being assessed as a pilot with average proficiency after 51 hours 30 min flying time on 30th May. After a period of leave he continued at the EFTS from 8th June to 18th June where he received further training flying DH 82As. On 19th of June, John transferred to No 6 SFTS at RAF Little Rissington achieving flying A/S Oxfords. His first solo flight in an Oxford was on 3rd July. He qualified for the award of the Flying Badge as a Pilot on 30th August 1941, after a total of 136 hours 35 minutes flying time. John was then posted to No.19 OTU (officers training unit) at Kinloss on 18th September for further training, this time on Whitley IV and Vs to 6th November.

    John then joined 58 Squadron `B’ flight on 20th of November 1941 at RAF Linton on Ouse and, after further training practice including 5 days at No.2 BAT Flight Driffield, he flew his first nine missions on Whitley Vs. These included bombing operations to Stavanger on 6th January 1942, Brest on 8th January, Emden on 10th January, Rotterdam on 28th January, Mannheim on 11th February, Le Harve on 14 February (abandoned operation due to failure of aircraft to climb plus bad icing and suffered a forced landing at Digby with bombs still on board on his return), Emden on 12th March (Johnny missing) Boulogne on 13th March (docks targeted 16.250 lbs bombs nickels) and on Paris 26th March (nickel raid).

    On 7th April 1942 he commenced a Halifax conversion course, completing this on 17th May when he was posted to 76 Squadron `A' flight on 19th May 1942. His first mission with 76 Squadron was on 30th May 1942 and was part of the 1000 bomber raid on Cologne; he was to fly Halifax 11 F-W1104. The Flight crew of F for Freddie were F.O. Philp - Pilot. F.Sgt Mullhauser - Wireless Operator, F.Sgt Ormerod - Obs/Navigator, F.Sgt – Lofts Bomb Aimer, Sgt Watson - Rear Gunner, Sgt Battersby - Flight Engineer, Sgt Hart - Mid-Gunner. He noted in his log book; `aircraft on target in biggest raid ever whole Cologne area ablaze and fires seen for miles. Our load dropped well on target'. His second operational mission with F-W1104 was to Essen on 1st June.

    He was killed in action on only his 3rd mission with F-W1104 of 76 Squadron (his 12th operational) on 3rd/4th June 1942, flying on a raid over Bremen. His log book was noted as missing and stamped ‘death presumed’ by his commanding officer. John Adams Philp was aged 21 years the son of Leslie and Evelyn Philp of Bristol and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

    Tim Kirby

    F/Lt. Christopher Cheshire 76 Squadron

    I met Leonard Cheshire, the brother of Christopher Cheshire in the final years of his life and have found out that Christopher Cheshire's Halifax bomber of 76 squadron was shot down after a raid on Berlin on 8/9th August 1942. He survived with all his crew and was imprisoned at Stalag Luft 5 for the duration of the war. He read the first mass at his brother's funeral in 1992.

    Stephen Jones

    F/O. Alfred Thorpe 76 Sqdn. (d.30th March 1944)

    Alfred Thorpe was the navigator in the crew of F/O Gordon Greenacre, who were shot down shortly before midnight on 30th March 1944, en route to Nuremberg. The crew were on their 21st operation. Five of the seven crew members were killed: F/O Greenacre, P/O Arneil, P/O Death, P/O Maw, F/O Thorpe. The crew members who survived were: Tony Monk (rank unknown), Jack Hawthorn (rank unknown). The aircraft was Halifax MkIII LW647 "W".

    Nigel Finn

    Sgt. Richard Walker Elder 76 Sqdn. (d.3rd Nov 1943)

    Sergeant Richard Walker Elder was a Volunteer Reserve in the Royal Air Force and served in 76 Squadron until he died on the 3rd November 1943 at the age 20 when the Halifax Bomber of 76 Squadron he was in was shot down near Dusseldorf. Richard was the Mid Upper Gunner on MP-T Bomber LK948 and he was my uncle. I would appreciate any further information relating to any crew member. Two crew members, Sergeants R. Clough 1488180 and A.E. Bristow 1394983 survived and were interned in Stalag 4b.


    R. Clough 76 Sqdn.

    On 3rd November 1943 a Halifax Bomber (MP-T LK948) of 76 Squadron was shot down near Dusseldorf. The Mid Upper Gunner, Richard Walker Elder (my uncle) was killed. I would appreciate any further information relating to any crew member. Two crew members, Sergeants R. Clough 1488180 and A.E. Bristow 1394983, survived and were interned in Stalag 4b.


    A. E. Bristow 76 Sqdn.

    On 3rd November 1943 a Halifax Bomber (MP-T LK948) of 76 Squadron was shot down near Dusseldorf. The Mid Upper Gunner, Richard Walker Elder (my uncle) was killed. I would appreciate any further information relating to any crew member. Two crew members, Sergeants R. Clough 1488180 and A.E. Bristow 1394983, survived and were interned in Stalag 4b.


    F/O. William Brown Mallen 76 Sqdn. (d.21st Feb 1945)

    William Brown Mallen was born in Kelso, Scotland in 1910. He left Scotland for Canada in 1929 and worked as a woodman, sawyer, until he joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1935 and enlisted five years later.

    He was a Flying Officer Navigator of Halifax Bomber NR-191MPE which did not return from a night raid on Worms, Germany on 21st February 1945. All the crew died and are buried at Rheinberg Cemetery in Germany. It was their 19th sortie and so close to the end of operations for 76 Squadron in May 1945.

    • P/O. H L Ball - pilot
    • W/O. E Boydell - W/Op
    • Sgt J Falkner - Flight Eng.
    • F/Sgt. J J McNeil - Air Gunner
    • F/O. W B Mallen - Nav.
    • P/O. J Pennington - Air Gunner
    • P/O. W J Phillips - Bomb Aimer

    Gary Clarke

    Sgt. Edward W. Waterman 76 Squadron

    Ted Waterman served as an Air Gunner with 76 Squadron.

    Sylvie Norris

    Flt.Sgt. Leslie Harris 76 Squadron (d.29th June 1943)

    Although already in a Reserved Occupation, my father volunteered for the Royal Air Force and was posted to South Africa to undergo training as an Observer. He gained his Observer Brevet in 1942, returning to England that same year.

    With a 10 O.T.U. detachment flying Whitley Mark 5s out of St Eval, he helped to track and bomb U-Boats. Apparently, one took offence at this treatment, after being caught on the surface, and promptly fired a shell, blowing a hole in the starboard wing of their machine. Later, still with 10 OTU, returning from a sweep, their aircraft suffered an engine fire. The pilot instructed the crew to take to their parachutes, thus saving their lives. Bravely staying at the controls the pilot lost his life in the crash. Suffering a fractured ankle and gaining his Caterpillar Badge from the Irving Parachute Company, my father spent some time in hospital before being transferred to 1658 HCU at Riccall in Yorkshire, converting to the Halifax bomber. From there he was posted to No. 76 Squadron then at Holme-upon-Spalding Moor. On the evening of the 28th June together with his crew, in Halifax Mark 5 MP-R DK137 took off for Cologne. The aircraft failed to return, having been shot down by a night fighter with the loss of the entire crew.


    P/O. Herbert Reginald Higgins DFM/ 76 Squadron (d.28th June 1942 )

    My uncle, Herbert Higgins, enlisted in the RAF at the outbreak of war. He was first posted to 35 Squadron as a sergeant at Linton-on-Ouse, as a rear-gunner/wireless operator on the new Halifax bomber. During his time there he took part in the first daylight raid against the German battleship 'Scharnhorst' at La Rochelle on 24th July, 1941. His aircraft L9501-Y received moderate flak damage during the bombing run and 10 attacks from German FW-109s, one of which he was credited with downing. His actions during that attack earned him the Distinguished Flying Medal. The citation reads:

    Sergeant Higgins was the tail gunner in a Halifax aircraft which took part in the daylight operation against the German battleship 'Scharnhorst' at La Rochelle on 24th July, 1941. During the intensive period of opposition in the target area, this NCO experienced in all ten encounters. Fighting back with coolness and deliberation, he successfully defended his aircraft with one enemy fighter confirmed shot down. Seeing an apparently disabled Halifax being attacked by two Me109s, he directed his Captain to the scene of the combat and succeeded in drawing off one of the attackers. This display of courage and skill is deserving of the highest praise and Sergeant Higgins is recommended for the immediate award of the DFM. 27th July, 1941. LG 2.9.41. Remarks by Station Commander: A fine example of coolness and determination in the face of heavy odds.

    He was promoted from Sgt to Pilot Officer on the 4th October 1941 and shortly after joined 76 Squadron at Middleton St. George. On June 24th, 1942 he was a member of the crew air testing a Halifax II R9482 MP-D. The aircraft took off at 1530 hrs from Middleton St. George and crashed almost immediately, due to one or both engines failing on the port side. The Halifax climbed slowly to approximately 100 feet, stalled and dived into the ground and burst into flames. The entire crew was killed in the crash and my uncle died from his injuries in Darlington Hospital three days later. He was 24 years old.

    Eric Reginald Anthony

    Flt.Sgt. Elmer Bagnall Muttart 76 Squadron (d.13th Oct 1941)

    I live presently on Prince Edward Island and am a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, branch 10 in Borden Carleton. I am doing research on the names mentioned on The Cenotaph in front of The Legion.

    After publishing an article on my research, I was contacted by a relative of Mr Muttart and he showed me an email with the folowing text: It was posted in 2011 as a comment on the Flicker Photo Website: "About 5 years ago an English gentleman and his daughter came and stayed at our Bed and Breakfast "Het Kapileinshuis" in Harlingen (located in The province of Friesland in The Netherlands). His name was (Flight Sergeant) Alexander, and he was the navigator on the plane piloted by Mr Muttart. They were shot down by a German nightfighter - returning from a bombing mission to Bremen - over Harlingen on 13th of October 1941.The whole crew could bale out because the pilot stayed with the plane until the last moment, thus also avoiding crashing into the village of Wons killing many innocent people. The pilot iust cleared the farm of the family Politiek on the outskirts of the village. We took Mr Alexander to the Harlingen Cemetery to pay his respects, an emotional moment for him as he had wondered all his life where his pilot had been buried. According to the many people around Pingjum (where Mr Alexander landed by chute) and Wons, it was an heroic act by the pilot that saved his crew and the citizens of the village."

    The crew members on the Halifax L9561 MP-H were in alphabetical order:

    • Alexander, Reg William Purchase, Sergeant, service no: 748073
    • Cotsell, D, Sergeant, service no: 567496
    • Duffield, J.W., Sergeant, service no: 923202
    • Hunt, W.H., Sergeant, service no: 910914
    • Muttart, Elmer Bagnell, Flight Sergeant, service no: R/64729 (he was the 1st pilot on this flight)
    • Patterson, G.H., Sergeant, service no: 943602
    • Roberts, L.A., Sergeant, service no: 565746
    • Trayler, N.F., Pilot officer, service no: 101563 (Mr. Tryler was the 2nd pilot on this flight)

    Mr Muttart was Killed. The other crew members landed safely, but were captured by the Germans and were sent to Germany as prisoners of war. Mr. Muttart was a member of the RCAF, the other crew members were in the RAF. I would like to come in touch with family members of the crew.

    Pieter Valkenburg

    F/O. Geoffrey Austin Turner 76 Squadron (d.10th Aug 1943)

    Bomber-Crew by Flying Officer Geoffrey Austin Turner

    If existence such as this be life

    Then, surely death be release,

    And dawning after long night

    Rather than cessation of all feeling, end of existence.

    For alive in life, I am Death.

    Bringing death to all, young and old.

    Innocent and guilty, the weak and the strong;

    Sowing the seed of destruction broadcast over the world.

    How long then till one reaps the crop one has sown?

    How long till the bringer of death meets his Master?

    "He who lives by the sword, shall die by the sword..."

    But what of he who lives by death by fire and steel?

    By death-by-night, coming like the future thief of petty valuables?

    "For the sword also means cleanness and death....."

    But what of death by fire and flame and steel?

    Of death by the rending and tearing of explosions?

    By the destruction of homes?

    By indiscriminate massacre.....?

    Yea, what of he who comes by night?

    Like the plague, furtively? stealthily?

    Sometime, surely, in a dark slung story

    I will feel the buffet

    And hear the beat

    Of the sable wing of the Angel of Death;

    Death's worthy messenger.

    Then shall relief flood my apprehensive heart

    As long-feared, long-awaited Death comes nigh.

    And I shall rejoice and salute my Lord and Master

    For no more shall I cower in Earth's deep holes fearing his wrath;

    No longer shall I perform his meanest tasks;

    And with a heart light and a soul upraised

    I shall go to a greater Life.

    I found this poem in my father's briefcase after his death in 2010. It was in a book of poetry, hand written by his brother, Geoffrey Austin Turner. Geoff was a navigator who completed 46 operational flights against the enemy in WW2. He died in August of 1943 at the age of 23 years. His plane was shot down by anti-aircraft fire as it was returning from the target at Mannheim. It crashed in flames on the railroad, five miles due north of Boulogne, France. My father often spoke lovingly of his older brother but he never mentioned this poem to me. To the best of my knowledge, it was written by my late uncle and has never been published.

    Helen Ann Cotton

    WO. Joseph Howard Moore 76 Squadron

    Joseph Moore served as a rear gunner in 76 and 171 Squadrons.

    Mark Moore

    Recomended Reading.

    Available at discounted prices.


    Stan Howes

    The History of RAF and RCAF Middleton St George and Teesside Airport
    More information on:


    Into the Night Sky: RAF Middleton St George: A Bomber Airfield at War

    Paul Tweddle


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