- No. 247 (China British) Squadron Royal Air Force during the Second World War -
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No. 247 (China British) Squadron Royal Air Force
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Those known to have served with
No. 247 (China British) Squadron Royal Air Force
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
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F/Lt. Desmond Percy "Buster" Wade 33 Squadron (d.23rd May 1942)Desmond Wade was the brother of my late mother's friend Sheila M. Wade who lived in the Saint Stephen's area of Canterbury, Kent. 'Buster' Wade was a pupil at the Kings School, Canterbury as a Day Boy because he lived nearby. He signed up for RAF duty in his early 20s and became a pilot and served with the 247 British China Squadron and 33 Squadron and was for a while at an air station in Cornwall and at Roborough, Devon. He was shot down in the Western Desert while flying a Hawker Hurricane on May 23rd 1942. Further details are in the archive of Kings School, Canterbury. I was the executor of Sheila's will when she died some years ago and I inherited much of her personal belongings including some of the details of 'Buster's' RAF service.
As I am now retired and these pieces of memorabilia of a non-relation who died before I was born are of no personal significance to me, I have decided to donate them, including his posthumous war service medals, to Kings School, Canterbury archives on 23/05/2014 the anniversary of his death 72 years agoLawrence J. Blake
LAC. Harry Nash 247 (China British) SquadronHarry Nash (my father) left 114 typed pages of memoirs, without context. I edited these into a book of more than 300 pages, with photos, that is freely downloadable in pdf format at archive.org
There is also a novel that contains much about the squadron, though the main character is fictitious. Thursday Afternoon is also available in Epub format.J C Nash
Sgt. Stanley Oldfield John "Spud" Murphy 247 SquadronStanley Murphy served with the RNZAF from the 12th of March 1940 to the 7th of January 1946, then on the Reserve from 14 Sep 50 to 14 Sep 54. He was shot down in August 1941 and spent the rest of the war in various prisoner-of-war camps, including Stalag Luft I and Stalag 357.
Stan was born in Bolton, Lancashire on 16 February 1922 but emigrated to New Zealand as a baby of 9 months with his parents - James 32 (b 1890) and Beatrice Murphy 30 (born 1892) - and older brother, Frank, who was five. Frank later also joined the RNZAF (Squadron Leader Francis (Frank) Murphy DFC OBE) and served in 486 Squadron until, towards the end of the war, he was co-opted by Hawker Aircraft to test Hurricanes. He continued to be a test pilot after the war. Stan’s family travelled 3rd class to Auckland, New Zealand on HMS Suffolk, leaving on 13th of October 1922 from Southampton, England. His father’s occupation was listed as a ‘Motor Driver’. Stan grew up in Wellington and attended university there, graduating in 1939. In March 1940, he was one of the first New Zealanders to enlist in the RNZAF after the outbreak of war in Europe and was sent for training at Wigram.
By June 1941, Stan was serving with RAF 247 Squadron based at Predannack in Cornwall when the squadron, flying hurricanes, was engaged in night interceptions of bombers and in early offensive 'intruder' attacks against Luftwaffe aerodromes in northern France. It was during one of these operations that Stan - flying a Mk IIc Hurricane BD857 coded HP-P (which had arrived on 14th August 1941, from 44 MU) - "failed to return from attack on Morlaix airfield" on 28 August 1941. Stan had hit trees after an attack on Morlaix Aérodrome and had had to force-land nearby.
“This was the first strike by the Squadron, named Mandolin V. Target : Morlaix aerodrome. 4 Hurricane IICs :
- S/L O'Brian, red 1, BD859,
- Sgt Murphy red2 BD857,
- F/L Carver blue 1 Z3089 and
- Sgt McClelland Blue 2 Z3088.
They took off from Predannack at 20:00. The French coast was crossed 40 minutes later to the west of Ile de Batz. Turning south-west the Hurricanes followed the landward side of the Plouescat-Morlaix railway and approached the aerodrome from the west at a height of 50 feet. S/L O'Brian opened fire at a blister hangar. Defences began to react with heavy Flak and machine gun fire. Sgt Murphy was seen by O'Brian parallel to him diving to the right, firing at gun posts on the southern corners. F/L Carver thought that Murphy's Hurricane appeared to be 'slipping in'. Red 1, Blue 1 and 2 left the area turning north and crossed the coast at St Jean at 20:48. Sgt Murphy was missing. S/L O'Brian's Hurricane had been hit in the oil tank and the wing, but damage was slight. The remaining 3 aircraft landed back at Predannack at five-minute intervals from 21:20."
From the transcript of Stan’s interview at the end of the war, we know that after he had had to force-land his machine in occupied France and that he was on his own for 3 days "heading hopefully south". He then met some French farmers at St Thegonnec who took him to a farmhouse and gave him soup while they, unknown to him, sent off a little girl on a bicycle to alert the authorities. While he was sipping his soup, the local curé arrived and as his schoolboy French and the Curé’s limited English made it difficult for them to communicate, they had to write each other notes. Stan was asking for a map and civilian clothes but getting nowhere while the curé was telling him that two women had been taken away by the Germans recently for helping airmen. Shortly after the local mayor arrived and greeted the pilot warmly but he was closely followed by German with a large Luger in hand advising the pilot to put his hands behind his neck.
Stan was captured on 1st September 1941 and was driven to the Luftwaffe HQ in Morlaix on the next day. Stan probably spent the first few months of his capture in a Dulag Luft, after which he transferred to the newly-opened Stalag Luft I in Barth, Germany.
Later (probably April 1942) he was transferred to Stalag 357 (XXA) in Thorn, Poland - and then, in 1944, Stalag 357 was relocated to Fallingbostel on the Luneberg Heath in Germany at Stalag XI (B or D). On 16th of April 1945 the prisoners of war were liberated by British troops. Stan must have been one of the first New Zealanders repatriated to the UK via Dunsfold Aerodrome to Brighton for processing, as he next appears as best man at his brother's wedding in Windsor on 28th of April 1945. After holidaying with his brother and new sister-in-law on their honeymoon in Ireland, Stan returned to New Zealand.
Like many others, Stan did not talk much about his experiences in Germany. I hope to view the rest of his post-war interview shortly and add to this account. Some years ago I found some news footage of the camp liberation. Stan is clearly visible behind the wire, running along in line with the camera. He was delighted to receive a copy of it.Angela Bailey
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