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No. 149 (East India) Squadron Royal Air Force in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

The Wartime Memories Project

- No. 149 (East India) Squadron Royal Air Force during the Second World War -

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No. 149 (East India) Squadron Royal Air Force

3rd Dec 1939 Ops

18th Dec 1939 Aircraft Lost  Wellington bomber squadrons undertook a number of sweeps over the North Sea during October and November 1939 against any enemy shipping. However a mission on 18th December 1939 proved disastrous. A force of 22 Wellingtons, six from No. 37 and the remainder from Nos. 9 and 149 Squadrons, were met by Bf109s and 110s to which the Wellingtons had no reply owing to their limited fields of fire. In this operation No. 37 lost five of its six aircraft. A direct outcome of this air battle was the decision to fit Wellingtons with armour plate and self-sealing fuel tanks to make them more robust.

18th Dec 1939 Aircraft Lost

10th May 1940 Aircraft Lost

10th May 1940 Aircraft Lost

14th Mar 1941 Bomber Command on Ops

17th Mar 1941 Aircraft Lost

31st Mar 1941 Aircraft Lost

12th Apr 1941 Aircraft Lost

16th Apr 1941 Aircraft Lost

8th May 1941 Aircraft Lost

10th May 1941 Aircraft Lost

17th May 1941 Aircraft Lost

11th Jun 1941 Aircraft Lost

1st Jul 1941 Aircraft Lost

14th Jul 1941 Aircraft Lost

17th Jul 1941 Aircraft Lost

5th Aug 1941 Aircraft Lost

12th Aug 1941 Aircraft Lost

18th Aug 1941 Aircraft Lost

7th Sep 1941 Aircraft Lost

11th Sep 1941 Aircraft Lost

20th Oct 1941 Aircraft Lost

7th Nov 1941 Aircraft Lost

15th Nov 1941 Aircraft Lost

15th Jan 1942 Aircraft Lost

31st Jan 1942 First Attack on the Tirpitz

29th Aug 1942 149 Squadron Stirling lost

2nd Mar 1943 149 Squadron Stirling lost

5th Jun 1944 Aircraft Lost

6th Jun 1944 149 Squadron Stirling lost

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

Those known to have served with

No. 149 (East India) Squadron Royal Air Force

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Abrams. R W . Sergeant (d.6th June 1944 )
  • Bailey J.. Sergeant
  • Baillie James Henry. Sgt. (d.17th May 1942)
  • Ball Joe.
  • Barnes H G. Sergeant
  • Bellamy. F W . Sergeant (d.6th June 1944)
  • Blencowe John Dawson. F/O. (d.24th Feb 1944)
  • Brown Andrew Angus. Flt.Sgt (d.6th Sep 1943)
  • Brown. A H . Sergeant (d.6th June 1944)
  • Burton H. Flight Officer
  • Coldwell Gordon Willard. PO (d.17th May 1942)
  • Collins William. Sgt. (d.17th May 1942)
  • Culpan Johnny William Rae. Sgt
  • Gent Reginald Philip. PO (d.17th May 1942)
  • Gordon-Watkins William David. Wing Cdr.
  • Hannaford. W A . Warrant Officer (d.6th June 1944)
  • Hart. R H S . Flight Sergeant (d.6th June 1944)
  • Hornby. J B . Flying Officer (d.6th June 1944)
  • Hutchins. C J K . Squadron Leader (d.6th June 1944)
  • Jones C. G.. Sgt.
  • keates John Alfred. Sgt. (d.9th May 1941)
  • Keates John Alfred. Sergeant (d.9th May 1941)
  • Lynn John Christian. P/O (d.18th Aug 1941)
  • Martin Alfred Charles. Sgt. (d.8th Sep 1940)
  • McArthur Neil Max. Sgt.
  • McCoy. W C . Flight Sergeant (d.6th June 1944)
  • McDougall William Armour. Sgt. (d.25th June 1944)
  • McFarlane D A. Pilot Officer
  • Medoza Michael Isaac Archibald. P/O (d.18th Aug 1941)
  • Moores. Kenneth .
  • Peacock A R. Sergeant
  • Pullen Harold Brian. F/Sgt.
  • R. R. Henderson. P/O
  • Smart Shuthi Nandi Napolean Leslie Oswald Banerjee. Sgt. (d.10th Mar 1942)
  • Smith Alfred Henry. Sgt. (d.17th May 1942)
  • Smith G M R. Pilot Officer
  • Sterrett K. K.. Sgt.
  • Wincott. A R . Flight Sergeant (d.6th June 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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Wing Cdr. William David Gordon-Watkins DSO DFC DFM 15 Sqd

Wing Cmdr Gordon-Watkins was the Commanding Officer of 15 Sqd. He was shot down on the 16th of November 1944 whilst piloting the lead bomber on a mission to Heinsburg. He was the only member of the crew to survive the incident and was captured and held as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft 1. He had completed over 50 operations and had previously served with 149 sqd.

Sgt Johnny William Rae "Woofer" Culpan 149 Squadron

My Dad, Johnny Cuplan, flew in Wellington Bombers. He was posted to No. 20 O.T.U. Lossiemouth from 24/4/1941 to 22/5/1941. From there he was posted to 149 Squadron at RAF Mildenhall from 4/6/1941 until his Wellington IC serial X9704 code OJ-B took off from RAF Mildenhall at 2329 on 18/19.08.41 on Ops to Duisburg and was shot down by a night fighter which fatally wounded P/O Mendoza and crashed at Haelen (Limbourgh) 5km NW of Roermond Holland. Sadly two of dad's crew did not survive : 82988 P.O. (Air Gnr) Michael Isaac Archibald Mendoza of Chailey, Sussex and 89386 P.O. John Christian Lynn of Haslemere, Surrey. The rest of the crew were taken P.O.W. : J/3755 P/O R.R. Henderson RCAF, POW No. 3728 Stalag Luft L3 Sagan and Belaria; 922752 Sgt C.G. Jones POW No. 23612 Stalag 357; 1250142 Sgt K.K. Sterrett POW No. 23613

Just prior to leaving NZ, Johnny, like all young airmen training to go to War, was doing his best to get his flying hours up. Sent up solo by an instructor to do just so, he was seen by another instructor barnstorming a garden party in Christchurch. Hence Johnny had the somewhat dubious title of being the first pilot in NZ considered for a court marshall, but due to the dior need for as many pilots as possible he was put to work in the kitchens peeling potatoes, told that the best he could hope for was to be made a Sgt.

Johnny (P.O.W. 23615) was a POW in Stalag Luft 1 Barth, Stalag Luft L3 Sagan, Belaria Stalag Luft L6 Heyderkrug. A very keen and capable rugby player, he was the NZ Rugby Skipper at Heyderkrug. Many of days were taken up with kicking a rugby ball within the compound. Kicking it very carefully, as if it did happen to land outside the compound everyone was sent back to their huts and one person chosen to retrieve the ball under the eagle eye of an armed guard. Being mindful of this, Johnny developed a very effective chip kick which he used effectively time and time again against oponents. One such oponent, a South African P.O.W. took note of this chip kick and asked Johnny to teach him the art of the chip kick and spent much of his time with Johnny honing his kicking skills. On return to NZ, Johnny and a few of his POW mates were seated in Eden Park watching the BOKS play the All Blacks. It was a low scoring game and 80 minutes was just about up - the score was equal.....when a penalty was given to the BOKS. The kick was spot on and the BOKs won much to the chagrin of the NZ rugby mad crowd. Yes, the BOK who kicked the penalty was the South African POW Johnny had taught to kick in camp....and that day Johnny was never allowed to forget, thanks to his POW mates, that he was the reason The All Blacks had lost

Sue Dixon

P/O John Christian Lynn pilot 149 Sqd. (d.18th Aug 1941)

John Lynn lost his life on Ops to Duisburg when his Wellington was shot down by a night fighter and crashed at Haelen in Holland. He is in Jonkerbos War Cemetery near Nijmegen in Holland, he was 31 years old and was married.

P/O Michael Isaac Archibald Medoza air gunner. 149 Sqd. (d.18th Aug 1941)

Michael Mendoza was fatally wounded on Ops to Duisburg when his Wellington was shot down by a night fighter and crashed at Haelen in Holland. He is in Jonkerbos War Cemetery near Nijmegen in Holland, he was 36 years old and was married.

P/O R. Henderson R. 149 Sqd.

P/O Henderson was taken POW when his Wellington was shot down by a night fighter whilst on Ops to Duisburg, it crashed at Haelen in Holland.

Sgt. C. G. Jones 149 Sqd.

Sgt Jones was taken POW when his Wellington was shot down by a night fighter whilst on Ops to Duisburg, it crashed at Haelen in Holland.

Sgt. K. K. Sterrett 149 Sqd.

Sgt Sterrett was taken POW when his Wellington was shot down by a night fighter whilst on Ops to Duisburg, it crashed at Haelen in Holland.

Sergeant J. Bailey 149 Squadron

I am looking for any relatives or friends who knew or served with the crew of Wellington bomber R3163 G for George of 149 Sqn:
  • Sgt. J Bailey 511887
  • Sgt. H G Barnes 652148
  • F/O H Burton
  • Sgt. A R Peacock 652031
  • P/O G M R Smith 42900
  • P/O D A McFarlane 79377 The plane was lost on the 5th of September 1940. I have some information including that they were POWs at Stalag 3 but would be very greatful if anyone has any other information to share.

  • Dan Gardner

    Sgt. John Alfred keates 149 Squadron (d.9th May 1941)

    I would like to ascertain the mission which cost John Keates his life.

    Gary Dolman

    Sergeant John Alfred Keates Squadron 149 (d.9th May 1941)

    Here are some postcards of Squadron 149 with all the autographs on the back.

    My great uncle was John Alfred Keates (Sergeant) 940033 Wireless Operator / Gunner who died 9th May 1941 aged 20. In the formal group photograph he is front and centre.

    His friend is Joe Ball, who he grew up with and also served in Squadron 149.

    Do you have any more information or photographs that may be of interest?

    Gary Dolman

    Joe Ball 149 Squadron

    Joe Ball

    My Great Uncle is John Alfred Keates (Sergeant) 940033 Wireless Operator / Gunner who died 9th May 1941 aged 20. His friend, pictured here, is Joe Ball, who he grew up with and also served in Squadron 149

    Gary Dolman

    Sgt. Shuthi Nandi Napolean Leslie Oswald Banerjee Smart 149th Squadron (d.10th Mar 1942)

    Shuthi Smart was a W/Op flying with 149th Squadron. He was killed in a bombing mission near Kleve, Germany. He was the son of Satyendra Mohan Banerjee and Dulcie Lilian Banerjee and was married to Elsie Maude Smart of Newbury, Berkshire, he was 39 years old and left five young children.

    Judi Palumbo

    Flt.Sgt Andrew Angus "Jock" Brown 149 Sqn (d.6th Sep 1943)

    Andrew joined the RAF in December 1941, and did his Elementary Flying Training at 22 EFTS at Teversham, Cambs, with Marshalls, on the site of what is now Cambridge Airfield; the aircraft was the DH 82 Tiger Moth. He was then one of the student pilots to be sent to America under the Arnold Scheme.

    He was posted to Lakeland School of Aeronautics (soon to become the Lodwick School of Aeronautics), Lakeland, Florida, in Feb 1942, he commenced training on the PT17 Stearman aircraft, mainly under the watchful eye of a civilian instructor, W.A. Lethio, before progressing to Cochran Field, Macon, Georgia in May '42 and the BT13A "Vultee Valiant". After that he was off to Dothan, Alabama in July '42, and the AT - 6A ("Harvard") aircraft, for Advanced Flying Training. At this stage he was also flying out of Elgin and Napier Fields. He was an average pilot, with comments from his flight commander of, "Flying O.K., but too cocky". But he persevered, and gained his wings.

    He also gained the interest of a couple of the local young ladies. One was possibly Mary Malpass, the other possibly Lucille (?). Mary may have been the daughter of a Lakeland dentist. The pictures on the "Lakeland" page, which were in his personal effects, are now in my keeping.

    Posted back to the UK( Nov '42), and No 14(P) A.F.U. at Ossington, Notts, he flew the Airspeed Oxford. His first twin-engined "solo" was on the 21st Nov '42 in Oxford Ser No 9635. After 3 months on the Oxford he was posted to fly the Wellington Aircraft. Steady progress meant that he went in May 1943 to 1651 HCU (Heavy Conversion Unit), at Waterbeach, Cambridge, to learn to fly the Stirling Bomber. During the 11 OTU and 1651 posting the final crew (Crew 6) teamed up. Completing the conversion training on the 18th May, 1943, he was posted with "Crew Six" as an operational crew to 149 (East India) Squadron, flying Stirling III Bombers out of Lakenheath, Suffolk.

    On the 29th of May, he and the crew received their new Aircraft, A Short & Harland built "Stirling" Mark III serial number EE872, contract No 774677/38. This aircraft was transferred to 149 Sqn on the 26th May '43 and given the Sqn letters OJ-N. The Sqn records show it as "Cat E" (missing) on the 6th of Sep and SOC (Struck Off Charge) on the 11th. Although this was not the only Aircraft the Crew flew, it was still considered "theirs" by them, and treated as such.

    The first trip for the crew with 149 Sqn was with Plt.Off. Laurie Blair as first pilot in OJ-M (BF531) on the 27th May '43. His first "Op" was on a trip to Wuppertal on the 29th May (Alex Holms also shows this trip in his log book). Again Plt Off Blair was first pilot.

    A lot has been written about the Stirling, from its ability to turn inside a Hurricane at low level, to its insane vulnerability when flying fully laden at it's operational ceiling of 15,000 feet. Please see this page, this article or the Links page for more details on this aircraft.

    It was in aircraft EE872, N-Nuts on the night of 5/6th Sept '43 for an "Ops" mission to Mannheim (his second trip to that target) that he and his crew encountered Leutnant Heinz-Wolfgang Hoppner of 6.Staffel/NG 1. He was flying a Messerschmitt 110 fitted he attacked from beneath his prey, silhouetted it against the sky, and deliver a burst of cannon fire directly into the aircraft.

    The cockpit area was hit hard, and the aircraft descended over Ludwigshaven, being shot at by the Anti-Aircraft gunners as it came down. Witnesses stated that at least one gunner was firing at the searchlights up to the point of impact. Some of the crew managed to bail out, but Andrew and Doug Badcock were still aboard when it hit, just outside a little south-west of Mannheim.

    Andrew's full story, pictures and other 149 Sqn tales are at

    Alan Fraser

    F/Sgt. Harold Brian Pullen 149 Squadron

    My father Brian Pullen was in 49 squadron and 149 sqd. He trained in Salisbury Rhodesia to be a pilot abut prior to that he was an air gunner with 49 Sqn. I have a large photo of the squadron dated April 1943 in front of a Lancaster.

    Peter Pullen

    Sgt. William Armour McDougall 149 Sqn (d.25th June 1944)

    Bill McDougall was a close childhood friend of my late father, who was also in the RAFVR. Bill was attached to 149 Squadron, based at RAF Methwold, and was part of the crew of EF140, shot down over the French coast on the night of 24th/25th of June 1944. He is buried at the Etaples Military Cemetery.

    I have a letter Bill wrote to my father in April 1944. This is probably one of the last letters he wrote and, quite poignantly, he mentions not telling his mother he was on live operations because he didn't want her worrying. Bill's mother had given each of the boys a gold half-sovereign. My father's coin is now with my daughter.

    If anyone who knew Bill reads this I would love to get in touch.


    F/O. John Dawson Blencowe 149 Squadron (d.24th Feb 1944)

    John Blencowe is recorded at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission his Date of Death is 24/02/1944 he was aged 29 serving with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 149 Sqdn. He is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial and was the son of Capt. Frederick John and Ethel Helen Blencowe.

    Sgt. James Henry Baillie 149 Sdqn. (d.17th May 1942)

    Sergeant (Flight Engineer) Baillie is buried in the Kalundborg General Cemetery, Grave E. 3. 19 East, in Denmark.

    S Flynn

    PO Gordon Willard Coldwell 149 (R.A.F.) Sqdn. (d.17th May 1942)

    Pilot Officer (Pilot) Coldwell was the Son of Charles V. H. and Florence S. Coldwell, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

    He was 25 when he died and is buried in the Kalundborg General Cemetery, Grave E. 3. 17 East, in Denmark.

    S Flynn

    Sgt. William Collins 149 Sqdn. (d.17th May 1942)

    Sergeant (Air Gunner) Collins was the Son of Davie McPhie Collins and Hughina Collins, of Glasgow.

    He was 20 when he was killed and is buried in the Kalundborg General Cemetery, Grave E. C. 19 West, in Denmark.

    S Flynn

    Sgt. Alfred Henry Smith 149 Sqdn. (d.17th May 1942)

    Sergeant (Wireless Op./Air Gunner) Smith is buried in the Kalundborg General Cemetery, Grave E. 3. 18 East, in Denmark.

    S Flynn

    PO Reginald Philip Gent 149 Sqdn. (d.17th May 1942)

    Pilot Officer (Observer) Gent was the son of James Thomas Gent and Mary Hannah Gent, husband of Stella Eva Gent (nee Wright), of Kettering, Northamptonshire.

    He was 33 when he died and is buried in the Kirk Vaerlose Churchyard in Denmark.

    S Flynn

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