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No. 540 Squadron Royal Air Force in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

The Wartime Memories Project

- No. 540 Squadron Royal Air Force during the Second World War -

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No. 540 Squadron Royal Air Force

   No. 540 Squadron was formed on 19 October 1942 from H and L Flights of the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit, at Leuchars in Coastal Command. The 540's Mosquitoes carried out reconnaissance missions over Norway and a detachment at Benson undertook similar flights over France and Italy. No 540 Squadron was disbanded on 30 September 1946 and reformed after the war.

Airfields at which No.540 Squadron were based:

  • Leuchars. 19 Oct 1942 to Feb 1944
  • Benson. 19 Oct 1942 to Mar 1945
  • Coulomiers France Mar 1945
  • North Front Gibraltar Oct 1942. Detachment. Left Mar 1945.
  • Lossiemouth Morayshire Feb 1944 Detachment. Left Mar 1945.
  • Dyce Aberdeenshire Feb 1944 Detachment. left 14 Apr 1944.
  • Yagodnik Russia Sep 1944 Detachment. Left Mar 1945.
  • Agadir Sep 1945 Detachment. Left Mar 1945


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

Those known to have served with

No. 540 Squadron Royal Air Force

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Carter Lesley. LAC.
  • Clark Thomas. F/O
  • Foreman Douglas Montague. Squadron Leader (d.13th Jan 1943)
  • Gill William. SAC.
  • Haney Robert Shirley. F/O (d.26th October 1943)
  • Lenton Reginald Arthur. Sq. Ldr. (d.25th October 1943)
  • Mann Geoffrey Edward. F/O (d.16th July 1943)
  • Shepherd Reginald Bernard. Flt Sgt. (d.14th May 1943)
  • Watson George. Sqd.Ldr.

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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Squadron Leader Douglas Montague Foreman DFC 7 Squadron (d.13th Jan 1943)

I am posting this message on your web site in the hope that someone can tell me about a fatal crash of Squadron Leader Foreman, DFC, who was killed at RAF Benson on 13th January 1943. He was a friend of my father, the late Flight Lieutenant A Seymour, who lost his life in November 1943 with 7 Squadron. I think he lived at Chelmsford before the war.

Douglas Seymour

Flt Sgt. Reginald Bernard Shepherd 540 Squadron (d.14th May 1943)

I would like to tell you the story of my wife's uncle Reginald Bernard Shepherd, who having joined the army, decided in 1941 that he wanted to join the air force. Reg, did all his training in Canada, 2 months flying Tiger Moths, gradually flew a lot of different aircraft during his training, Oxford, Master 1, Master II, Anson, Blenheim IV, Beaufighter, then the Mosquito with the 540 Squadron.

Reg was shot down in France on a reconnaissance operation, it is said he managed to get his plane down outside the village. We cannot be sure where he had been as none of the letters we have from the Air Ministry in 1943 would say. He was presumed missing for 6 months. Reg was 23 years old.

The other crew member was Flight Sargeant H.W. Evans aged 19, who parachuted from the aircraft before it crash landed. He was eventually to get away to Switzerland.

We have since, through letters from the Mayor of Longuyon, Dr Gousset, dated 05.04.45, found that Reg was shot in the head, no one from the town was allowed to touch Reg, not even Dr Gousset. The Germans, however, had all his papers, watch, valise etc. Dr Gousset goes on in his letter that it was his duty to see to Reg's burial and the town arranged for a coffin with internment in the French Military section of the town cemetery, alongside French soldiers killed in WW2. The letter goes on the say that the people of Longuyon laid flowers & wreaths on Reg's grave, which the Germans hated and he was afraid that some people would be put in prison. With this letter he also sent a photograph of the grave with the promise it would be attended to in the same way the French graves would be. To this day I can say this promise has been kept, even last year having a new headstone.

All this information is from Reg's Pilots Log Book, letters from Air Ministry, private letters from Reg, letters from Longuyon, which are all kept by my Mother-in-Law, June Belchem, Reg's younger sister, who is now 82.

We can tell from his log book that he flew operations to Drammen, Stavanger, Egersland, Grimstadt, Falkenau, Hoff Kaaden, Bergen, Bruxells, Pilzen & Prague, sadly the final page reads 'Death Presumed 14.5.43'. It would be nice to know where he had been to on the day he was shot down, as it's the only date missing from his Log Book. We know from information from Dr Gousset that the Mosquito he was shot down in had the identification number DZ523.

My mother-in-law, with her husband Derrick, since just after the war have been to Longuyon on numerous occasions, have met some of the people involved in this, found out that Dr Gousset was in fact part of the RAF Escape Committee they made life long friends with the Banckart family. Mrs Bannckart being the local interpreter for the allies. I have myself, with my wife, also been over to Longuyon.

We feel we know Reg at 23 from his photographs in his album of his training in Canada, pictures of his girl friends during his air force days, his athletic club photos, I feel he lived a full life in his short 23 years, sadly bought to an abrupt end. He was obviously liked from all the photographs with friends, there is also a letter from Switzerland from Flight Sargeant H.W Evans on 27.2.44 which shows the bond between the two men, quite moving.

Trevor G Shilling

LAC. Lesley Carter 540 Squadron.

My brother, 921542 L.A.C. Lesley Carter, served with 540 Squadron at Wick. Before he passed on he told me he was attached to a section commanded by the son of the owner of Ilford Film Co. which consisted of two Spitfires that were stripped down fitted with extra fuel tanks and a camera, he told me the Germans had nothing to touch them. He also said the Ilford Company petitioned for these special planes but were refused as production for fighters had priority so the the film company bought and paid for the equipment needed.

I am searching for other photographs of this period at Wick that I know exists. The reason I am sending these photographs is because there is no mention of Spitfires flying from that station and there must be many who would have personal photographs of this small group of men.

Geoffrey Carter

F/O Geoffrey Edward Mann 540 Sqdn. (d.16th July 1943)

F/O Mann served with 540 Squadron. He was killed in action on 16th July 1943 and is buried in Milan War Cemetery, Joint Grave III.B.12.

F/O Robert Shirley Haney 540 Sqdn. (d.26th October 1943)

F/O Haney was killed on 26th October 1943 and is commemorated on Panel 124 of the Runnymede Memorial.


Sq. Ldr. Reginald Arthur Lenton MC DFC 540 Sqdn. (d.25th October 1943)

Squadron Leader Lenton of 540 Squadron died on a mission on 25th October 1943.


SAC. William Gill 210 Squadron

RAF Blida

Bill Gill was my father, he was Assigned to Coastal Command 210 Squadron, then off to 1PRU and 540 Squadron at Station Benson in the early days of Photo Reconnaissance. He was posted after 1PDC to 156 Maintenance Unit, Northwest Africa Aircraft Repair Unit as a Senior Aircraftsman. I was 14yrs when he passed in May 1969 and I am now tracing his WWII experiences. His War Record states he was a Commercial Photographer in Civilian Life, Glasgow, Scotland.

Kenneth J. Gill

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