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No. 99 Squadron Royal Air Force in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- No. 99 Squadron Royal Air Force during the Second World War -

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No. 99 Squadron Royal Air Force

   No. 99 Squadron was formed in England in 1917 from elements supplied by No. 13 Training Squadron, RFC. It was disbanded in India by being renumbered as No. 27 Squadron RAF in 1920. No. 99 Squadron re-formed in 1924 at Netheravon, Wiltshire.

No. 99 (Madras Presidency) Squadron spent most of the Second World War operating the Vickers Wellington, first from Britain and later from India, where it eventually converted to the Liberator.

For the first few months of the war the squadron was engaged in leaflet dropping flights over Germany. Bombing operations began in April 1940, after the German invasion of Norway. The squadron continued to perform bombing operations from Britain until 14 January 1942.

The squadron was then transferred to India, re-forming at Ambala in June 1942, beginning operations by the end of 1942, conducting night raids on Japanese targets in Burma.

The squadron lost its Wellingtons in September 1944, when they were replaced by long range Liberator VIs. During the first half of 1945 they operated these aircraft from Dhubalia (Bengal), before moving to Cocos Island in preparation for the planned invasion of Malaya. The Japanese surrender meant that this invasion never happened, and the squadron disbanded on 15 November 1945 on the Cocos Island (reforming two days later at Lyneham in Yorkshire as a transport squadron).
Airfields No. 99 Squadron RAF flew from.

  • RAF Newmarket, Cambridgeshire. from 3rd to 9th Sept 1939 (Wellington Ia)
  • RAF Elmdon, Warwickshire. from 9th to 15th Sept 1939
  • RAF Newmarket. from 15th Sept 1939 to 18th Mar 1941
  • RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire. from 18th Mar 1941 to Feb 1942
  • Ambala, India. from 6th June to 19th Sep 1942
  • Pandaveswar, India from 19th Sep to 25th Oct 1942
  • Digri, India. from 25th Oct 1942 to 12th Apr 1943
  • Chaklala, India. from 12th Apr to 23rd May 1943
  • Jessore, India. from 23rd May 1943 to 26th Sep 1943
  • Dhubalia, India. from 26th Sept 1944 to 29th Jul 1945
  • Cocos Island from 29th July to 15th Nov 1945



10th May 1940 Aircraft Lost

10th May 1940 Aircraft Lost

15th May 1940 Ops

9th Apr 1941 Bomber Command

20th Apr 1941 Aircraft Lost

29th Apr 1941 Aircraft Lost

5th May 1941 Aircraft Lost

8th May 1941 Aircraft Lost

11th Jun 1941 Aircraft Lost

19th Jun 1941 Aircraft Lost

21st Jun 1941 Aircraft Lost

25th Jun 1941 Aircraft Lost

3rd Jul 1941 Aircraft Lost

7th Jul 1941 Aircraft Lost

30th Jul 1941 Aircraft Lost

16th Aug 1941 Aircraft Lost

31st Aug 1941 Aircraft Lost

13th Sep 1941 Aircraft Lost

28th Sep 1941 Aircraft Lost

20th Oct 1941 Aircraft Lost

7th Nov 1941 Aircraft Lost

15th Nov 1941 Aircraft Lost

7th Dec 1941 Aircraft Lost

14th Jan 1942 Aircraft Lost

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

Those known to have served with

No. 99 Squadron Royal Air Force

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Antell William Fishwick. Sgt. (d.14th Dec 1939)
  • Barron Grace Shade.
  • Brace Richard Henry James . Sgt. (d.14 Dec 1939)
  • Burns James Conway. F/O. (d.6th Oct 1945)
  • Clark Edward Wilfred.
  • Cooper Charles Stanley. W/Cdr. (d.25th Sep 1943)
  • Cooper John Arkell. F/O (d.14th Dec 1939)
  • Docherty Denis. Sgt.
  • Dyer Wallace Harry. Sgt.
  • Harniman Robert Joseph. Sgt
  • Kyle Alexander. F/Sgt.
  • Montgomery George Wilson. WO.
  • Pickthorne Emerson Blair.
  • Skepper Reginald. WO.
  • Smith Arthur J.. Sgt.
  • Smith William George.
  • Stuart Robert Samuel. WO.
  • Venn Frank. LAC (d.1st Nov 1945)
  • Ware James. Sgt.
  • Willis Stanley John.

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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F/O. James Conway Burns DFM. 106 Squadron (d.6th Oct 1945)

My Uncle F/O James Conway Burns had tranferred to 99 Squadron, based on the Cocos Islands, following his completion of operations as a navigator with 106 Lancaster Squadron for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal.

He flew five sorties with the same crew in 99 Squadron Liberator EW236 "K" King, taking supplies to Singapore for prisoners of war. On the 6th of October 1945 they were taking supplies to Kallang airfield when it is believed the aircraft crashed into the sea in bad weather; possibly due to a cyclone. Although attempts were made to find them the bad weather forced the search aircraft back to base. My uncle and his crew are commemorated at the Kranji War memorial Singapore. James was only 24 years old when he died.

Nick Belcher

Sgt. Arthur J. Smith 99 Sqd

Arthur Smith was shot down over Berlin on the night of the 9th/10th of April 1941. His Wellington aircraft took off from Waterbeach. He was, as far as we can tell, held in Stalag Luft 111 hut 357, from information gleaned from relatives. He escaped 3 times, if he done it again he would have been shot. He took an electrical course while in prison.

Vic Hill

F/O John Arkell Cooper 99 Squadron (d.14th Dec 1939)

John Cooper was my uncle. He died before I was born and I know virtually nothing more about him, but noticed on this website the name of a Sergeant Richard Brace of 99 Squadron RAF who died on the same day, presumably in the same aircraft or raid, so I felt it would be good to have his name also included. My own father, W/C Charles Stanley Cooper, 254 Squadron RAF, was killed on 25 September 1943. Both are named on the Runnymede Memorial

Christopher Cooper

Edward Wilfred Clark 99 Squadron

My father Ted Clark flew with 99 Squadron. I have some documents that are relevant to his time in India including his flying log book.

Graeme Clark

F/Sgt. Alexander Kyle 99 Squadron

Alexander Kyle served as rear gunner in Wellingtons from Jessore in 1944. He flew in Dakotas on supply drops then transferred to Liberators at Dhubalia and flew as belly gunner.

Grace Shade Barron

My mother Grace Barron, served at Waterbeach 99th Squadron 1942 until 1943. She was an "ACHGD" (Aircrafthand, General Duties). She is looking for any photos of the WAAF Service Women at that time. She would like to find a photo of herself.

John Murphy

Sgt Robert Joseph "Bob" Harniman DSO 99 Squadron

My father, Sgt Robert J Harniman, served as wireless operator and gunner, with 99 Squadron flying in Wellington bombers, and on 20 June 1940 ditched with his crew:
  • F/L Pickard;
  • P/O Thomas;
  • Sgt Broadley;
  • Sgt Hannigan;
  • Sgt Mills in the North Sea 30 miles from Great Yarmouth.

They had been part of a raid on the Ruhr and been hit by flak, with both port and starboard engines damaged. The crew were in their life-dinghy for 13 hours before being rescued, having drifted through a coastal minefield.

I know that my father survived being shot down and crashing into the sea at least five times, as I have an award from the life-dinghy manufacturers and a copy of a Times article referring to his number of survivals. There are photographs of him in Gibraltar on a rescue launch, though not as a rescued airman, but rather as a lifeboat operator.

I know that in the latter part of the Second World War he was based in St Davids, Wales, where he was flying in Sutherland bombers on U-boat patrols, and eventually finished the war training prospective aircrew in parachute jumping.

Sgt. James "Ginger" Ware DFM. 99 Squadron

I recently came across this document, it tells an amazing story of bravery. My uncle, Jim Ware flew more than 51 sorties as a rear gunner in Wellington bombers and lived to tell the tale. I would be surprised if many airmen could beat this. Here is his recommendation for the Distinguished Flying Medal in 1941. He was shot down, lost a part of his right leg and still carried on.

Dave Ware

Sgt. Wallace Harry "Bob" Dyer MM. 99 Squadron

Bob Dyer was my father in law and flew as rear gunner with 99 Squadron in Wellingtons from Waterbeach. He was shot down over Belgium on 28th September 1941. Although injured when bailing out, he evaded capture escaping from an enemy patrol. He was arrested in Northern France in unoccupied territory but escaped by assaulting his guards and finally succeeded in making his way to Spain from where he was repatriated. He was awarded the Military Medal. He lived in Dumfries and died in 1987.

Alan Scouller

WO. George Wilson Montgomery 99 Sqd.

My grandfather, George Montgomery, served with 99 Squadron in WW2. He was born in Mitchelstown, Co Cork in 1912 and lived with my grandmother in London from about 1937. He was a member of the Reserve RAF on the outbreak of war.

I remember him telling stories about being based at Newmarket and other bases although I am sure that he was not posted to India. His rank was Warrant Officer and he was the wireless operator/mid upper gunner on Wellingtons. One story he recounted was how he came to break his leg after baling out of a flight upon return to England. He always told me that this saved his life and therefore mine, as his colleagues on his flight were lost on the next mission.

Would anyone else have any recollection of this incident?

David Douglas

Emerson Blair Pickthorne 99 Squadron

Group photo Madras India Sept 1943 S/LDR Jones

My father, Emerson Pickthorne was in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and was with the 99 squadron in India and Nepal in 1942, 43. He took some wonderful photos while there with soldiers names identified. The names listed for this photo are: left to right: Woodgate, Ely, Campbell, Allen, Pickthorne, Forsyth, Dobson (RIP), Stanley, Tate (RIP) Bowerman, Austin (RIP), Dickie, Hudson, NacDonald (RIP)

Sharon Pickthorne

Sgt. Denis "Big D" Docherty 99 Squadron

Denis Docherty served in RAF from 22nd November 1943 through until he was discharged 30th March 1947. He attended a gunnery course at Bishops Court from 12th March 1944 through 6th May 1944, then transferred to Dhubalia India in November 1944, His pilot was in the main F/LT Townsend and they went on numerous missions attacking, Jessore, Salbany, Imphal, Rynmana, Mandalay, Hnon Pladuk, etc. He baled out by parachute near Gaya on the 16th December 1944 due to problems with the aircraft. He returned to missions, bombing enemy railways at Mulmein, Madaya, and many more locations.


LAC Frank Venn 99 Squadron (d.1st Nov 1945)

LAC Frank Venn and I were very closely associated while serving in the 99 Squadron on the Cocos Island.I also happened to be an LAC and a Flight Mechanic and we worked together on the Liberator Heavy Bombers. A few months before the end of the war Frank and I had exchanged home addresses of each other's mother. After the cessation of WW2 in August 1945 life on the Cocos Island was more like a protracted holiday on a South Sea Island. We would spend the days lolling on the beach reading books and the nights playing the guitar while singing.

One day while resting on the beach I happened to observe two of the RAF boys on a makeshift raft waving as if seeking assistance. I recognized them through a telescope, knew that they could not swim and realized that the raft was fast drifting towards the second reef. I knew that the raft would soon be lifted by the waves and hurled onto the reef and end in a disaster. I asked Frank, who happened to be around, to take a look through the telescope. On seeing their distress he hurled the instrument aside and ran on to the beach. He organized a team of volunteers to rescue the men in distress. A rope was tied around the waist of the first man and the far end of the rope was fastened to the trunk of a coconut palm. I took my position in the human chain, some ten men from the first man. Frank was supervising the exercise and on seeing me he ordered me to get out of the human chain and when I hesitated, he got me by the collar dragged me on to the beach and punched me on the jaw. I fell unconscious on the beach. Later when I came to I realized that the rope holding the human chain had given up and about 32 men including Frank perished in the ocean. This is my story of a great friend who saved my life and lost his own in the process. God rest his beloved soul.

Ronald Cyril Rosario.

Stanley John Willis 99 Squadron

I was a rear gunner in 99 Squadron, RAF. I am still a survivor aged 90, I will be 91 in 2015. I joined 99 Squadron at HCU RAF Kolar when they were converting from the Wellingtons to the Liberator B24. I crewed up with F/Lt Andy Anderton AFC in August 1944, then to Dhubulia where we operated from. I completed my tour of operations on my 21st birthday, in May 1945, having completed 32 sorties 305hrs. On my tour of operations I flew twice with S/Ldr Webster, once with F/O Brown, once with F/O Hydman, and the rest with F/Lt Anderton AFC. The Japanese War ended in August 1945 and until my demob in December 1946 I was posted to 681 Squadron in Hong Kong as a pay clerk, then moved to Seletar Singapore and finally to Palam Airport, New Delhi where I embarked to Bombay for my journey home. The above details are taken from my log book that I still have.

My wife and I have attended many reunions of 99 Squadron at Newmarket where I met up with our late Squadron CO W/C Erocalani and many of our colleagues from Dhubalia. In recent reunions members from the present 99 Squadron from Brize Norton who fly the C17 transport joined us, young and old together. Unfortunately owing to ill health I am unable to attend the reunions and functions at Brize Norton.

Stanley Willis

W/Cdr. Charles Stanley Cooper 254 Sqdn. (d.25th Sep 1943)

My father, Wing Co. Charles Stanley Cooper, 254 Squadron RAF, was killed on 25th September 1943. His brother F/O John Cooper was killed on 14th December 1939 whilst flying with 99 Squadron. Both are named on the Runnymede Memorial.

Christopher Cooper

WO. Reginald Skepper 99 Sqdn

Reg Skepper lived in Leicester and was navigator on Wellingtons, his pilot was called Bill. Their aircraft was ditched in the Bay of Bengal and crew had to use dingies to escape, but luckily they were picked up next day by an American patrol.

Steve Skepper

WO. Robert Samuel Stuart 99 Sqdn.

My father, Robert Stuart served as a rear gunner in 99 Squadron, having lied about his age to become a 'Brylcreem boy'! He was based in India, Bengal and told of 14-16 hour sorties over Burma with good companions, a flask of coffee, tin of corned beef and half a loaf! He told us about the 'angel' music which was the sound of the air passing against the fusilage which could be quite hypnotic but beautiful.

He also told of a briefing whereby his CO (I think Sandy Webster) cordially asked everyone if they could at least wear the same coloured shirt for the arrival of some dignitaries. Seems it was so hot the boys preferred to wear the local cotton shirts instead of uniform.

One afternoon in a local village he met with a group of people who were listening to a man who had arrived to talk to them. The man was Mahatma Ghandi. That meeting had a very profound effect on my father. The squadron was involved in the collective bombing of the bridges on the river Kwai. Back home in Aberdeen, dad met up with his friend John Ross who, at the time of the bombing, managed to escape from his camp into the jungle, having been a prisoner on the Death Railway.

Having lied about his age those years before, when promotion came Robert became the youngest Warrant Officer in India. Many years later dad joined the Aircrew Association where he thoroughly enjoyed meeting with like-minded and experienced men who, for one afternoon a month in smart flannels, blazer and regimental tie, became once again, the boys with the wind in their hair!

The experiences of India, good and bad, his time served with his squadron shaped my father for the future. We remain proud of him and his service even though he passed eleven years ago.

Gael Stuart

Sgt. William Fishwick Antell 99 Squadron (d.14th Dec 1939)

Sgt William Fishwick Antell was killed whilst flying in Wellington IA, N2886 of No 99 Sqn. He took off at 1143 from Newmarket on a reconnaissance mission over the North Sea, tasked with attacking Helgoland and Wilhelmshaven. The aircraft was shot down near Wangerooge and crashed into the sea. All of the crew were killed and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. 99 Squadron lost 6 aircraft and 33 airmen on this mission.

The full list of crew is:-

  • Flt Sgt James Ernest Kirby Healey
  • Sgt William Fishwick Antell
  • Sgt Brian Thomas Boram
  • AC2 Wilfred Henry Pountain
  • LAC Howard Eric Beaumont
  • LAC Robert Forsyth

Sgt Antell had joined the RAF pre war as an apprentice in 1933. Thank you to Andy Ingham for this information.

Graeme Lawson

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