- No. 90 Squadron Royal Air Force during the Second World War -
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No. 90 Squadron Royal Air Force
No. 90 Squadron RFC, was formed at Shawbury, Shropshire, on 8th October 1917, and disbanded in 1919. The squadron was re-formed in March 1937 as a bomber unit. Soon after the outbreak of the Second World War No. 90 Squadron became a training squadron and in April 1940, it was absorbed into No.17 OTU.
No. 90 Squadron re-formed May 1941 and was the RAF squadron to receive Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft from America for now high-altitude dlight bombing and the first operational mission was undertaken on the 8th July 1941, attacking Wilhelmshaven from 30,000 feet. 90 Squadron continued in this role until September 1941. later a detachment operated in the Middle East.
No 90 squadron was again disbanded in February 1942 re-forming in November 1942, flying Stirlings until June 1944, when it was re-equipped with Lancasters.
Airfields at which No.90 Squadron were based:
- West Raynham. to Sep 1939 and May 1941 to Jun 1941
- Upwood. Sept 1939 to Apr 1940
- >Watton. May 1941
- Polebrook. Jun 1941 to Feb 1942
- Kinloss. Detachment in Sep 1941
- Shallufa, Egypt. Detachment Oct 1941
- Bottesford Nov 1942 to Dec 1942
- Ridgewell Dec 1942 to May 1943
- West Wickham May 1943 to Oct 1943
- Tuddenham. from Oct 1943
22nd Jun 1941 Aircraft Lost
3rd Jul 1941 Aircraft Lost
8th Jul 1941 Aircraft Lost
26th Jul 1941 Thunderstorms
28th Jul 1941 Aircraft Lost
16th Aug 1941 Aircraft Lost
29th Aug 1941 Aircraft Lost
8th Sep 1941 Aircraft Lost
25th Sep 1941 Mission Abandoned
9th Mar 1943 90 Squadron Stirling lost
11th Jun 1943 Halifax JB972 lost
23rd Jun 1943 90 Squadron Stirling lost
If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.
Those known to have served with
No. 90 Squadron Royal Air Force
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Bazell Rowland James George. Sgt.
- Blackwood James Lawson. Sgt (d.2nd Dec 1943)
- Bone John Henry. Sgt. (Air Bomber) (d.14th March 1944)
- Branch Charles. Flt.Sgt.
- Burton Harold William. Sgt. (d.4th May 1943)
- Clinch Frederick. Sgt. (d.23rd Dec 1944)
- Cowley Henry Reginald.
- Cresswell Frederick Alan. (d.19th Feb 1945)
- Doyle Thomas George.
- Dunham Peter Francis.
- Dunn Stan William Radcliff. WO.
- Fry Sidney Francis. W/O.
- Goold Robert Wallis George. Flt/Sgt. (d.9th Jan 1942)
- Griffiths Reginald Alfred. Sgt.
- Hanson Derek.
- Herriot Frank Sidney. LAC.
- James Ron.
- Johnston Stanley Cameron Kelbie. WO
- Kluczny Edmund. Capt.
- Layne Walter Henry.
- Leather Peter J.. Sgt. (d.26th Aug 1944)
- Letters Robert Wiliam John. FO (d.30th May 1943)
- MacDonald Bernard Edward.
- McKelvie Charles Dale. Sgt. (d.21st Apr 1943)
- Roberts Frank James. Flt.Lt (d.21st Jan 1944)
- Smith George Leslie. F/O.
- Steel John Minorgan. Flt.Sgt. (d.24th June 1943)
- Ward John. F/Lt. (d.30th Nov 1944)
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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Thomas George Doyle DFM 90 SquadronMy late grandfather was Thomas George Doyle DFM from Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. He served at RAF Tuddenham as a Navigator with 90 Squadron, from 1943 onward.Helen Donegan
WO Stanley Cameron Kelbie "Jock" Johnston A Flight 90 Sqd.Posted Tuddenham in December 1944 at the age of 19 as a crew. I was mid/gunner With F/Sgt Frank.S.M Smith operating Lancaster WP E and stayed on station till the finish of the hostilities not leaving till 1946 when the Sqn moved to R A F Wyton. I am know as the archivist with 90 sqn families and friends. 90 sqn meets at booth the Mildonhall register and holds a diner and wreath laying each year, please contact me at for more information I have a large collection of recorded memorabilia. As a group we are always willing to help those interested in the second world war.SCK Johnston
W/O. Sidney Francis Fry DFM. 90 SquadronMy father, Sidney Francis Fry flew as a mid gunner on Lancasters from Tuddenham airfield in Norfolk and possibly other airfields as well. He was seriously wounded in the leg, resulting in its amputation, whilst returning from an attack on Brunswick in August 1944.I understand that the young rear gunner met his death on the same mission. My father was subsequently awarded the DFM.
The pilot in command on this mission was - I understand - 182615 Flying Officer Eric Charles Bowley whose prowess as a pilot meant that the aircraft successfully returned to base despite extensive damage.
I am trying to trace anyone who knew my father during his time in the RAF and would be most grateful if there is anybody who possesses a photograph of the crew with which my father flew.Deborah Jane Fry
Flt.Lt Frank James Roberts DFC. 97 Sqd. (d.21st Jan 1944)I am a researcher for the Aircrew Remembrance Society, and I specialise in researching Australian, Canadian and New Zealand airmen. I am at present researching Lancaster JB299 OF-W of R.A.F. 97 Squadron, piloted by Frank Roberts. We always like to add a photograph of the crew and of course the aircraft the crews flew in. I am wondering if anyone might have a photograph which we could place with the report on this Lancaster. We always give full credit for photographs and information received. If anyone can assist us it would be much appreciated.Bob Wilton
Sgt. Peter J. Leather 90 Sqd. (d.26th Aug 1944)My husband's uncle, Sgt Peter J. Leather, flew out of Tuddenham on Operation Kiel on the 26th August 1944 and unfortunately never made it back. He was about 19 at the time. The plane was Lancaster HK604 WP-G. The bodies of three of the crew were found on Sylt but the others have never been found.Sharon Leather
Sgt. Harold William Burton 90 Squadron (d.4th May 1943)My uncle Harold Burton was on Sterlings out of Ridgewell when his plane was shot down over "Derne". Sadly, he was killed. I haven't had any luck finding out where Derne is. If anyone can help I would be grateful. I understand he was a navigator.Kay Makowiecki
LAC. Frank Sidney Herriot 90 SquadronFrank Herriot served in the RAF with 90 and 186 squadron, at Dumfries, Gibraltar, Tuddenham, Stradishall and in Italy.M Herriot
Sgt. Reginald Alfred Griffiths 90 squadronReginald Griffiths was my uncle. He served as a rear gunner with 90 Squadron at Tuddenham from November 1944 to April 1945. On December 1944, his Lancaster was hit by flak, after they attacked Koblenz. They managed to crash land at Woodbridge. He completed the 30 ops in April.Len Angus
Sgt James Lawson Blackwood 90 Sqdn (d.2nd Dec 1943)I believe James Blackwood to be a member of my extended family and his death is commemorated on the War Memorial in Wellington Square, Ayr. However, there is no next of kin details recorded on the CWGR website. Can anyone fill in some of the obvious gaps, eg why is he buried in Esbjerg Cemetery, Denmark, does anyone have any information which might help trace close relatives? Any help, however small will be greatly appreciated.Douglas Blackwood
Flt.Sgt. Charles "Grandad" Branch Section 3 90 SquadronCharles Branch joined up 8 June 1943 aged 37 and after AGS Andreas IOM 17 Sep 1943 was posted to Tuddenham 90 Squadron 1651 CU on 8 May 1944 when they were equipping with Lancaster MkIII B aircraft. He flew over 30 missions with an aircrew :
- Pilot R.F.Smith,
- Navigator C.Sharpe,
- Flight Engineer T.J.Thomas,
- Wireless Officer N.C.Piper,
- Air Bomber M.R.Stanning,
- Mid gunner (Canadian) H.G.Price (RCAF: R223574),
- Rear Gunner C. Branch.
Charles was later posted to 1445/H Gunnery School as a Gunnery Instructor. Prior to joining the RAF he was a qualified Tool Maker and Gun Assembler based in Birmingham.
Missions were flown in Lancaster MkIII LM615 B which had a picture of the pilot's Wren wife Eileen on the fuselage near the cockpit. LM615 was flown by two other crews and the missions in it with Charles Branch included 2nd July 1944 Beauvoir, 5 July Watten, 10 July Nucourt, 18 July Aulnoye, 28th July Stuttgart. Charles left the service 28 March 1946 and today is survived by his two daughters Elizabeth and Patricia.Elizabeth Worbey nee Branch
Ron "Jimmy" James 90 SquadronMy father Ron James joined 90 Squadron at West Wickham in July 1943 as mid-upper gunner in the crew of F/O Bill Day (RCAF). He flew on Stirling 'R' Roger and took part in raids on Hamburg, Essen, Turin, Peenemunde, Berlin and Mannheim. Later he transferred to 214 Squadron where he completed a second tour of operations on B-17 Flying Fortresses as part of 100 Group secret countermeasures operations. His autobiography 'I Was One of the Brylcreem Boys' has just been published and is available on Amazon. It details his personal experiences and contains some photographs.Elizabeth Ingham
FO Robert Wiliam John Letters 90 Squadron (d.30th May 1943)This is information I received from my late mother, who was engaged to Bob Letters during the war.
Bob then asked the Radio Operator to contact the Germans in Northern France to direct them to a place away from homes, so they could land. The Germans directed them to a field on the edge of Cambrai. Bob told the crew to bail out, some did, but the Radio Operator, I think, was one who did not. Just about when they landed the Sterling exploded and the remains of the bodies were scattered. The people of Cambrai were told the story and after the war they made a memorial in gratitude. When Bob's remains were found they were buried in a local cemetery.John Puntis
WO. Stan William Radcliff Dunn 90 Sqdn.On 4th July 1944 my father Stan Dunn joined Heavy Conversion Unit at Wratting Common, Cambridgeshire, `B` Flight, flying its Stirling aircraft as rear gunner. His pilot was F.S. Boothman. They then moved on to Lancaster Finishing School on 8th August. After a short stay they then went back to HCU Wratting Common on 5th September with a different Pilot, F.O. Orr, finishing on the 12th. He then returned to Lancaster Finishing School and completed training.
He joined 90 Squadron `A` Flight at Tuddenham on 10th October 1944. He flew 36 missions in the mid upper turret, including Dresden on 13th and 14th February 1945, on which he spent his 21st birthday over the target. His last operation was on the 28th February 1945. He left the Air Force in 1947 after serving in Air Movements flying in York 3.Paul John Dunn
Sgt. Charles Dale McKelvie 90 Squadron (d.21st Apr 1943)Charles Dale McKelvie was the only son of William and Catherine McKelvie. He enlisted early in the war, and died aged 22 when his Stirling crashed into the sea over Denmark after being hit by German anti-aircraft flak. His body was recovered later that year, and was interred in Denmark's Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery.Evelyn McKelvie
F/O. George Leslie Smith 90 SquadronNick McKie-Smith
Sgt. Frederick Clinch 90 Squadron (d.23rd Dec 1944)My brother Sergeant Frederick Clinch who served with 90 Squadron RAFVR and was killed on the 23rd December 1944. Also my brother Flt/Sgt J. J. Clinch DFM served in 97 Squadron and was shot down over Kiel, Germany on the 26th June 1941.Brian Clinch
Frederick Alan Cresswell 90 Squadron (d.19th Feb 1945)Frederick Cresswell flew as an air gunner with Squadron Leader Harold Reid in 20 missions over Germany. He was stationed at RAF Tuddenham, flying Lancasters. In his final mission he was under the command of Wing Commander Dunham. Now buried in Rheinberg War Cemetery. He was cousin to my late father-in-law, Cyril Cresswell.
Sgt. Rowland James George Bazell B Flight 90 SquadronI joined the RAF in August 1942. I had previously applied for Air Crew duties but was turned down because of “unstable colour vision” so entered the service as a flight mechanic under training. My first 6 weeks consisted of basic training (drill, marching, arms drill, PT etc.) at Blackpool.
At the end of the 6 weeks training I was sent to RAF Halton. About half way through this course an appeal was launched for training as Flight-Engineer. This was a new air-crew category specifically for the four-engined bombers then coming into service. I applied for this and was successful, so instead of being sent out to a squadron at the end of this flight-mechanic training, I had to stay on at Halton for a Fitter course and then onto St. Athen for a Flight-Engineers course specific to the aircraft I would eventually fly on, namely the Stirling.
Having passed this course I was sent to 90 squadron of 3 Group, Bomber Command, then stationed at Tuddenham, Nr Mildenhall in Suffolk. My thoughts on the Stirling - being a very robust aircraft and fitted with Hercules air-cooled engines, it was much the safer aircraft in which to fly. It withstood crash landings better and, whereas the Rolls-Royce Merlin engines with which the Lancaster were fitted were magnificent engines, they were liquid cooled and just a bullet or two in the cooling system would rapidly put the engine out of action; whereas I have known air-cooled Hercules engines still give out some power even with a cylinder shot away. However, because of its heavier build, the Sterling did not have the performance of the Lancaster and were eventually replaced by them on “Main Force” targets.
The types of missions which my squadron undertook while I was with them are described below: The Main Force targets, mentioned above, were the well known bombing missions on German towns and industrial targets, involving many aircraft concentrated over as little time as possible, to saturate defences. This meant contending with masses of search lights, flak, fighters, shot and shell.
Mine Laying - it may not be generally known but at least three quarters of all mines laid within enemy waters were dropped by the RAF. These had to be accurately placed and this called for very accurate navigation. Our navigator, Peter Ashford, was excellent; throughout every flight, even when he knew fairly certainly where we were, he continually checked his calculations. Peter was an expert astro-navigator, in fact after we finished our operational service, he went to the Air Ministry and produced a training manual on the subject, which was used as a basic training manual for years afterwards. He would get me to take endless star-shots and he continuously consulted his GEE box - a very useful early electronic navigation aid. This aid could be unreliable but when it was used mainly over this country and into France, we found it to be very accurate. Due to Peter’s expertise, our crew were given many specialist operations.
Bombing - apart from the first two, our bombing missions were confined mainly to the near coast of France. These targets were small and did not reveal themselves by searchlight / flak etc, hence accurate navigation was needed. These targets were mainly coastal gun emplacements and launching sites for the V-weapons.
Supply Drops - again very small targets often just a map reference in the middle of a wood. To help find them, these trips were always in full moonlight and at low level, generally 500ft, so that the parachutes were in the air for the shortest possible time to avoid detection. We would overfly the target, not circle around, to ensure we did not attract attention. To ascertain we had the right spot, we had to look for a small light (mainly small electric hand torches) flashing a previously agreed letter or letters, which we had to recognise immediately or we were instructed to fly on and bring the load back. We never failed to drop our load.
It was on one of these drops, I think the one dated 29th April, that we took a passenger with us. She was brought out to our aircraft just as we were about to take off. There was absolute secrecy about this, no mention of it in squadron operational records or our log books - she did not in fact exist. Just before reaching her destination, which had been given to our navigator verbally just before take off, he alerted me to go aft, open the rear bottom escape hatch, attach her package to the static line, get her in position to jump (after also attaching her parachute to the static line). At the navigator’s order to “go”, I pushed the package out and she immediately followed. I can just remember her small white face behind her goggles as she dropped into the night. What courage! She was on a on-way trip, we at least had a chance of getting home! The rear gunner reported seeing both parachutes open but as we were very low and had to fly straight on, that was all we saw. Did she survive? Was she captured by the Germans? I would love to know what happened to this very courageous lady.Andy Bazell
Henry Reginald "Tim" Cowley 90 SquadronMy father Henry Cowley served with 90 Squadron.Harry Cowley
Flt/Sgt. Robert Wallis George Goold 90th Squadron (d.9th Jan 1942)Robert Goold is a distant relative of mine and I am looking in to his story. I do not have many details but here is a copy of what I have put together so far: Robert Wallis George Goold was born in Newport Wales in 1920 his mothers name was Voyce. He served as a Flight Sergent with the Royal Air Force and died on 9th Jan 1942.
90 Squadron were operating at the time from Kinloss possibly one of 2 bombers missing flying 2076 to RAF as AN536. Broke up in midair over Shepreth, UK, Jan 9, 1942. It would appear to have been a non-operational loss as he was flying in Fortress I, AN536, which broke up over Shepreth, the crew being: -
- F/Lt S A P Fischer
- F/Sgt J K Henson DFM
- F/Sgt D Musk
- F/Sgt P A Gibbs
- Sgt D Wilcox
- Sgt R G G Millard
- F/Sgt R W G GooldNeil Silverman
F/Lt. John "Jo" Ward 90 Sqd. (d.30th Nov 1944)Jo Ward had amassed 42 operations as the pilot of Lancaster PD 269. He was then given a desk job. The first night PD 269 was going out without him he wondered who was taking his place. When he found out who it was he changed the crew and put himself back in. The reason being he knew his replacement, and also knew he was married with a number of children. They took off on operation Bottrop. A following aircraft saw PD 269 hit by anti air craft fire directly in the bomb bay with a full load of bombs still on board. The crew on the following Lancaster said PD 269 simply disappeared in a ball of flame. Nothing left.
The pilot Jo replaced wrote to Jo's mother at Christmas every year until 1963, when she died. They always thanked her for her son and his sacrifice for them. Jo was 23 when he died. Jo's parents, and brothers and sister never knew if there was anything found of Jo. All have now passed away.
In the last two years two NZ university students who spent two years in Europe identifying, cleaning, and photographing each of NZ's war dead from WW1 and WW2. About 18 months ago I put Jo's ID into the internet and out it popped. Now I know in a small German Forest lays Jo. I still have my Father's ashes and hopefully one day I can put them together so they both won't be alone again.Frank Ward
Derek Hanson 90 SquadronDerek Hanson served as air gunner with 90 Squadron.Gareth Ellis
Sgt. (Air Bomber) John Henry ""Jack"" Bone 90 Squadron (d.14th March 1944)John Bone. Always "Jack" in the family. My uncle, I never knew him but my mother Sylvia missed her big brother until her death in 2007.
The family story was as follows:-
He trained in Canada as a pilot, but did not make the grade, so became a Navigator/Air Bomber. It was reported at the time of his death to his parents that he died in England in the pilot seat of a Stirling Bomber.
Later information added that the Stirling had been shot up over France and "Jack" took the controls to get those still alive home. He was denied permission to land at various airfields as he progressed westwards over England. The Stirling crashed, out of fuel, as denied permission to land. (To allow an inexperienced pilot attempt an emergency landing in a damaged plane could endanger other lives and close an airfield to other returning aircraft. In addition the undercarriage of the Stirling was said to be a weak point.)
In wartime and many years afterwards there was no appetite for details, everybody accepted that many died.
A memorial was unveiled 14/3/2014 on the 70th anniversary of his death, commemorating the mid air collision, of his Stirling WP-Peter of 90 Squadron, with a Wellington from No.11 Operational Training Unit. 15 young airmen died, there were no survivors from either aircraft. A tragic loss for all. A shame “Jack” was not represented. If his youngest brother Frank (post WWII RAF) wishes, and he is fit enough I will take him to see the memorial. 31/12/15Nick Canfield
Peter Francis Dunham 90 Sqdn.My uncle, Peter Francis Dunham, was an RAF regular and trained (I think) at RAF Halton. He flew Battles in Canada, and was in the RAFVR with 90 Sqdn. He also flew with 218 Squadron and had already done 222 hours of operational flying by 1941.Adrian Bailey
Flt.Sgt. John Minorgan Steel 90 Squadron (d.24th June 1943)Jack Steel was one of six children and he had just gained a place at Glasgow University to study Geology when he decided to volunteer for the RAF. His Stirling BK628 was shot down over Germany on the night of the 24th of June at 23.10.Jane Keogan
Bernard Edward MacDonald 90 SquadronMy late uncle Bernard Edward MacDonald was a bomb aimer with 90 Squadron from January to June 1945 and I would like to know what crew he flew with and on how many missions and where if possible. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Does anyone have any photos of crews with 90 Sqdn or any family members that may?John B. Kelly
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I Was One of the Brylcreem Boys
Ron JamesRon James was born in Northampton, England in 1923 and he joined the RAF in 1942, aged 18. After the war, he served two years in South East Asia as Movements Control Officer, helping to release the prisoners of war and internees held by the Japanese in the prison camps of Java. Ron later worked in the commercial side of the engineering industry, owned a transport motel and later fulfilled his lifetime ambition by opening a bookshop in Northampton. He was a keen amateur historian and published a history of 214 Squadron 'Avenging in the Shadows' in 1989. His autobiographies 'I was one of the Brylcreem Boys' and 'Mercy Mission to Java' were completed a couple of years before his death in 1995 and published by his daughter in 2013.More information on:
I Was One of the Brylcreem Boys
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