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No. 169 Squadron Royal Air Force in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- No. 169 Squadron Royal Air Force during the Second World War -

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No. 169 Squadron Royal Air Force

   No 169 Squadron was formed at Twinwood Farm as an Army Co-operation squadron. Fron October 1943 it was equipped with Mosquitos and a Beaufighter with GEE equipment. It joined No 100 Group in mid-January 1944, flying intruder operations against enemy airfield and fighter until the end of the war. No 169 was disbanded on the 10th of August 1945.

Airfields No. 169 Squadron flew from:
  • RAF Ayr, Ayrshire from the 1st October 1943 (formed, Fighter Command. Mosquito II)
  • RAF Little Snoring, Norfolk, from the 8th December 1943 (Bomber Command. Mosquito II) RAF Great Massingham, Norfolk from the 4th June 1944 (Mosquito VI, Mosquito XIX)
  • disbanded 10th August 1945


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

Those known to have served with

No. 169 Squadron Royal Air Force

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Beeching John Benjamin. W/O
  • Thorn Edward Roland. Sqd.Ldr.
  • Todd W. Wylton. Flt. Offr
  • Todd Wemyss Wylton. F/Lt.

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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Flt. Offr W. Wylton Todd Biggin Hill & Little Snoring 29th and 169th Sq

My mother is the daughter of W. Wylton Todd. Wylton was an RAF navigator who designed the memorial for the fallen 50 officers who were shot after the Great Escape. It still stands in Zagan, Poland. He was assigned to the North camp after being shot down in a Mosquito on Feb 15, 1944. The pilot was the famous Commander "Jumbo" Gracie, who unfortunately went down with the plane in Hannover. Cmdr. Gracie was an older, decorated pilot who was instrumental in organizing flight standards for pilots in Malta and North Africa. Wylton was older too, but lied about his age so that he could join the war effort. He was 38 by the time he was shot down. Wylton was a piano virtuoso. He designed, wrote and produced several of the musicals during his capture (i.e., Messalina, Paulina Panic). He worked with Rupert Davies, Peter Butterworth, Talbot Rothwell and a few others. They signed his war log. I'm certain that theater kept him and many others sane. He was not only a great musician, he was already a successful architect in London before the war. King Edward honored him with recognition at the last Levee in 1936. A remarkable distinction for the young professional. Since he was first held in Dulag Luft, then brought to SL3, he would have arrived just before the great escape on March 25. My mother maintains that he told her that he worked on the tunnels and escape efforts. His drafting abilities and keen eye probably made him a good forger or mapmaker. After the war, Wylton was commissioned to design a memorial at Biggin Hill, from which most of the Battle of Britain pilots tenaciously defended their country. He stayed in the UK to rebuild London. He also designed a palace for a Maharaja in India, Redesigned The Elms in London, a mansion in Mexico and designed plans for a massive luxury complex for Arthur Vining Davis in Eleuthera, Bahamas. Unfortunately it never came to fruition because of political complications. He died shortly afterwards from a freak accident in 1961. I never met him, but have learned quite a bit about this amazing man. I'm currently working on research about his activities in the North camp theater. If anyone knows more about him or particular info about the North camp theater I would appreciate it.

Peter Hynes

F/Lt. Wemyss Wylton Todd 169th Squadron

On February 15, 1944, W. Wylton Todd and Cmdr Eugene "Jumbo" Gracie, from 169th squadron out of Little Snoring, were flying a solo Mosquito night raid to Berlin. They were hit by flak over Hannover, Ger. Cmdr Gracie ordered Navigator Todd to bale out, but sadly Gracie perished when he went down with the plane. Todd was delivered to Dulag Luft, interrogated, then brought to Stalag Luft 3 in Sagan, just before the Great Escape.

In order to join the war efforts, Flt Lt Todd had to lie about his age to enter the RAF. When shot down, he was already 38, an established London architect and a terrific musician. As an architect, he volunteered his services for any structural suggestions to the tunnelling efforts for the upcoming Great Escape. He also was involved in the later tunnel efforts underneath the theatre. After the Great Escapers were discovered and illegally murdered by the Gestapo, Wylton was asked to design a memorial for the 50 fallen officers. That memorial still stands in Sagan. There is also a growing museum which is accepting donations for further growth to honour all of the men imprisoned at SL3.

Wylton was also a talented composer. He quickly joined up with the Theatre Group where he proceeded to write two hilariously bawdy, original musicals with David Porter, Tally Rothwell, Peter Butterworth, Bobby Laumanns and Rupert Davies, all talented professional writer/actors in their post-war lives. The two musicals were named "Paulina Panic" and "Messalina." They were big hits in the camp.

The Red cross was a tremendous help in supplying food and materials to build the theater. This attention to the POWs strengthened the men's morale throughout their long captivity and instilled hope. They knew entertainment and an imaginary "escape" through the theater could help sustain the men. In return, after the war, Talbot, Wylton, Peter, Rupert, Bobby and many others, produced a musical in London's Stoll Theatre conglomerating all of best parts of their past performances into a 20-act musical called, "Back Home" The proceeds of which went entirely to the Red Cross. A wonderful payback for the hope that the Red Cross instilled in these magnanimous survivors.

Wylton went on to Design memorial for the Battle of Britain at Biggin Hill and commercial projects for Arthur Vining Davis, Sir Roland Robinson and a 98-room palace for a Maharaja in India. W. Wylton Todd died in 1961 and is buried near Wimbledon. He is survived by his daughter Virginia T. Eades and several grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Peter Hynes

W/O John Benjamin "Curly" Beeching 169 Squadron

I was stationed at Spitalgate being transferred from Cranwell in the early part of 1944. Both of these places were equipped with Blenheim Mark 1 and Mark IV twin enginged aircraft. I was a pilot being trained for night-fighters and these aircraft were considered to be a suitable transition, which, although fairly obsolescent, they were. Pilots stationed there were given a pretty thorough training, including Standard Beam Approach and 'Day-Night', a system using dark goggles simulating night flying. We were subsequently posted to a night-fighter Operational Training Unit, (OTU), either to Cranfield in Bedfordshire or Charter Hall in Scotland, where we did a further transition via Bristol Beauforts, Beaufighters and subsequently on to De Havilland Mosquitoes, before finishing up, generally, on a 100 Group, Bomber Command station somewhere in Norfolk. I was on 169 Squadron at Great Massingham, from where I flew my operations over Germany, but was transferred to Pathfinder Mosquitoes on 627 Squadron at war's end to engage in operations from Okinawa against the Japanese, but the atomic bombs knocked that on the head.

Spitalgate was a pretty good station, being built in peacetime with comfortable accommodation and messes; a far cry from most Bomber Command places rapidly established for war-time. About the only dramatic incident at Spitalgate which I can recall was having to land a Blenheim with one wheel fully retracted, due to a hydraulic failure, but apart from a bent propeller the aircraft wasn't very damaged at all. I was twenty years old when that happened and things like that during the war never even made the local paper ! Sic transit and all that. I regret I have no photos.

John Beeching

Sqd.Ldr. Edward Roland Thorn DFM & Bar, DFC & Bar. 264 Squadron

Squadron Leader Edward Thorn flew with 169 & 264 Sqaudrons

Robin Janes

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