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No. 608 (North Riding) Squadron Royal Air Force in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- No. 608 (North Riding) Squadron Royal Air Force during the Second World War -

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No. 608 (North Riding) Squadron Royal Air Force

   No 608 (County of York North Riding) Squadron was formed as a day bomber unit of the Auxiliary Air Force on the 17th March 1930 at Thornaby. It was re-designated as a fighter squadron in January 1937, and in March 1939 it became a general reconnaissance squadron, equipped with Ansons (briefly the squadron flew Bothas in 1940). In January 1942 the squadron moved to Scotland for attacks on the Norwegian coast and in October 1942 moved to North Africa to fly anti-submarine patrols over the western Mediterranean. It moved from Algeria to Sicily for September 1943, and on to Italy where the squadron remained until disbanding on 31st July 1944.

No 608 reformed in August 1944 at Downham Market as a Mosquito squadron in No 8 Group, carrying out night attacks on Germany for the rest of the war. It disbanded on 24th August 1945.

Airfields No. 608 Squadron flew from:

  • RAF Thornaby, Yorkshire from 3rd September 1939 (Anson I, Botha I, Blenheim I, Blenheim IV, Hudson V)
  • RAF Wick, Caithness, January 1942
  • RAF Sumburgh, Shetland, August 1942
  • RAF Gosport, Hampshire, mid-August 1942
  • North Front, Gibraltar, from 9th November 1942
  • Blida, Algeria from the 18th December 1942 (Hudson IIIa, Hudson VI)
  • Protville, August 1943
  • Bo Rizzo, September 1943
  • Montecorvino, Sicily, October 1943
  • Grottaglie, Italy, December 1943
  • Montecorvino, February 1944
  • disbanded 31dt July 1944
  • RAF Downham Market, Norfold from 1st August 1944 (re-formed. Mosquito XX, Mosquito XXV, Mosquito XVI)
  • disbanded 28th August 1945


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

Those known to have served with

No. 608 (North Riding) Squadron Royal Air Force

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Appleby-Brown William. Sqd/Ldr.
  • Armin Norman. Sqd/Ldr.
  • Aughty Harold. Sgt.
  • Beavis Allan Sutherland.
  • Broomhead. . Sgt (d.2nd Aug 1941 )
  • Cameron Norman Alister. W/O
  • Christie. . Sgt (d.2nd Aug 1941)
  • Duncan B . P/O
  • Gordon John. Flt.Sgt. (d.4th June 1943)
  • Law. George . Sgt (d.2nd Aug 1941)
  • Lilley Vernon S.
  • Lumley G E . AC.
  • Martel Maurice Joseph. F/O. (d.17th March 1942)
  • Martin George. Wing Cmdr.
  • Millership William Richard.
  • Morton John.
  • Moss Wallace Wolfgang. F/Sgt. (d.11th Nov 1942)
  • Moss Wallace Woolf. Sgt (d.11th Nov 1942)
  • Phillips John Sherborn Priestley.
  • Shepherd O . Sgt
  • Thomas. . Sgt (d.2nd Aug 1941 )
  • Walker David F. . F/Lt.
  • Walpole Leslie B . Sgt (d.21st June 1940)
  • Watts Ernest Hector. F/Lt.
  • Webb Stuart Douglas. F/Lt. (d.10th Nov 1944)
  • Weir Harrison. Flt.Sgt. (d.4th June 1943)

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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John Sherborn Priestley Phillips 608 Sqd.

I`m trying to trace wartime movements of John Sherborn Priestley Phillips, who joined 608 Sqn. at Thornaby in 1939. Can anybody help?

E. F. Webb

W/O Norman Alister "Jock" Cameron MID. Air Gunner W/Op 103 Sqd.

An extract from "Determination" the biography of 755390 W/0 Norman Alister Cameron (by his daughter, Dani Miles nee Cameron)

Norman was born in 1917 and raised in Aycliffe Village. He knew that he wanted to fly from the age of 6 and he began to work out his dreams by making excellent model aeroplanes from that early age. Apparently he was inspired by the early aviation pioneers, flying circuses and such names as Owen Cathcart Jones and Alan Cobham. His guardian encouraged him in his ambitions. He did a succession of jobs whilst he made attempts to join the RAF. Meanwhile, until he truly earned his wings, he owned Norton and Brough Superior motorbikes on which he could fly up an down the A1 and A66.

On March 1st 1936, after numerous attempts, he was accepted into the Auxiliary Air Force; 608 Squadron RAF Thornaby, where he flew in, amongst others, Westland “Wapitis”, Hawker “Harts”, Hawker “Demons” and Avro “Tutors”. As his subsequent flying career was punctuated by at least nine “near-death” recorded accidents, as well as spending hours under fire in various Bombers, his survival can truly be described by that most abused expression - as attributable to having “Nine Lives”. Soon after he started flying, he used up his first two lives with crashes in which he sustained injuries which could killed him. At Muggleswade, Consett, as a passenger with a pilot practicing aerobatics, his ‘plane crashed with engine failure, in fields full of hay and hit a hay-rick, which caused it to turn over. The occupants were left hanging upside down in their straps, and he fell on his head and cut it open. The scar gave his hair an interesting parting. The smell of petrol and fear of fire remained with him for the rest of his days.

On 11th July 1937, flying in formation with his Commanding Officer as pilot, the machine’s engine cut, and the ‘plane crashed at RAF Thornaby. He was knocked out and came round in an ambulance, suffering from concussion. Undeterred he transferred to the Volunteer Reserves on 27 June 1936.

When war broke out he was posted to Newton, Notts., where he joined the famous 103 Squadron of Bomber Command and was involved in many hair-raising operations collecting two mentions in despatches. Most notably he survived a crash landing in the mountains in Wales in January 1941 and a month later, a ditching in the North sea in February, where he floated for three days before being picked up by a Danish ship. Whilst he was missing. A wake was held for him and his crew at Newton.

As the result of frost bite and his injuries he was unift to go back to Bomber Command and he was posted to 276 Sqd Air Sea Rescue where he went on to have more spectacular exploits, being shot at in Walruses whilst rescuing others. The state of some of the bodies they pulled out of the sea, gave him nightmares for the rest of his life.

After the war he baled out of a burning Wellington that had been struck by lightening, over Pocklington on 5th November 1949. He was now a member of the Caterpillar Club as well as the Goldfish Club. About this time he gained a PPL at Middleton St. George where he gave his daughter her first flight, aged 2, in an Auster. He went on to serve in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) where he bought his own Tiger moth. He survived a crash in an Anson in the Bush. On his return to England in 1955 he was posted to Watton, Norfolk with 192 Sqn, Central Signals Establishment on Radar Counter-Measures, flying in Lincolns. Its main role was to listen–in and record Warsaw Pact electronic activity.

Eventually his various war injuries caught up with him and he was "grounded" and so opted to leave the RAF in 1959. He spent many months in Roehampton and other hospitals, in great pain for the rest of his life. He became increasingly disabled and was nursed by his devoted wife, Anne, until his death aged 64.

Max Hastings articulates that which my father felt keenly, a considerable degree of bitterness and a perception of an ungrateful nation: “It is one of life’s unfairnesses that the public to this day cherishes the RAF’s war time Fighter Pilots, the defenders, with an uncomplicated enthusiasm that does not extend to the bomber crews, who showed equal courage and suffered far heavier losses. …the boys who were risking everything to frustrate Hitler’s demented ambition.” (Telegraph May 11 2003) “It is understandable that Bomber Command veterans harbour a sense of hurt and injustice. Over half their number, some 55,000 men in their teens and early twenties were killed. It’s a staggering statistic yet it rarely gets a mention. Just taking off with tons of high explosive weapons and fuel on board took incredible bravery, then to cope with memories of the screams of crew members injured or dying, of bodies so shattered they had to be hosed out of turrets, of hours of boredom, cramp and excruciating cold followed by 20 minutes of terror over the target – was superhuman.” (William Ivory, Radio Times Feb 2002).

Dani Miles

Flt.Sgt. John Gordon 608 Squadron (d.4th June 1943)

Wireless Operator and Air Gunner, John Gordon, was killed with his crew in a flying accident in the early morning of June 4th 1943 having taken off from an aerodrome near La Calle (now Al Kalla)in Algeria. His pilot was a New Zealander, Flight Sergeant King.

Michael Rawlings

F/Sgt. Wallace Wolfgang Moss 608 Squadron (d.11th Nov 1942)

Wallace Moss was a Flight Sergeant with 608 Squadron he went missing in action on the 11th November 1942 off the coast of North Africa, on a mission looking for U boats. He died at the age of 27 years, he is mentioned on the war memorial in Malta but to my knowledge no where in England only on his wife's grave where I, his daughter had a plaque made, as I think he should be remembered in England defending the country he died for.

Maxine Chidgey

Sqd/Ldr. William Appleby-Brown DFC. 608 Squadron

Squadron Leader William Appleby-Brown DFC OBE served with the 608 Squadron at Thornaby-on-Tees from 1938 then with 38 Squadron in Greece and Italy from 1943. William was born in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire. He later became Station Commander 608 Squadron Aux at Thornaby in 1946 when it was reconstituted till 1950. Later he was Chairman of J. Wardman Brown & Co Limited of Middlesbrough till 1972. William was my Dad's first cousin.

Sqd/Ldr. Norman "Red" Armin DFC Pilot 57,139 & 608 Squadrons

My dad joined the RAF in 1942. He had red hair and a quick temper hence the nickname 'Red'. He was not the stereo typical RAF officer and got into numerous scrapes off duty. On the day he signed up the guy behind the desk slung the signing up forms at him and they landed on the floor. Typically he got down on the floor signed the forms and left. He detested arrogance and bad manners. After a brief introduction to the Lewis machine gun at RAF Shoreham he saw his first action as an AC2 against German tip and run raiders coming in low level across the English Channel. The enemy bombers were so low they had to depress their guns to take aim. They also managed to shoot at each other across the airfield. They did manage to shoot one bomber down and it crash landed in the field next to the airfield. One airman streaked ahead of the rest and by the time they caught up he had bayoneted the emerging pilot who according to him had resisted arrest. The airman's brother had been killed at Dunkirk. The reality of war was never far away. He completed his flying training in Canada On Tiger Moths and Avro Ansons and passed out as Pilot Officer. On his return to England he joined 57 Squadron flying Vickers Wellingtons. The Wellington could take a tremendous amount of punishment with its geodetic construction and fabric covering. It was a very heavy aircraft to fly. The controls had no power assistance. One night on a raid they were coned after the master searchlight locked on to then. My dad put the aircraft into a dive to evade the searchlights and it took him and his navigator their full combined force with their feet on the instrument panel to pull the aircraft out of the dive. My dad completed his first tour of operations with 57 Squadron and then joined an OTU Operational Training Squadron at Wellesbourne for a 'rest' He always maintained that this was as dangerous as operational flying because the Wellingtons they used for training were clapped out. On one training flight he was called away and had to leave the student with the aircraft with the engines ticking over. The student failed to periodically open and shut the engines which meant there was a danger of them overheating. He frantically tried to signal from the other side of airfield to the student to open up the engines but to no avail. On getting back to the aircraft he raised merry hell with the student while opening and closing the throttles. On take off they had just retracted the undercarriage when one of the engines caught fire and had to be immediately shut down. Climbing a Wellington on one engine particularly a clapped out one was unheard of at the time. With much cursing the hapless student was given the task of putting out the fire then manually lowering the undercarriage with a lever because the dead engine powered the hydraulics. After what was later considered to be an outstanding piece of airmanship dad managed to land the aircraft in one piece. By then he was raging and in a typical temper got out of the cockpit walked along the wing and peed on the offending engine. Unknown to him a party of WAAF's had been on a visit to the control tower and had observed the entire event. Needless to say the Station CO after commending him for his airmanship gave him a right old earwigging. On return to operations my dad joined the famous 139 Jamaica Squadron flying Mosquitoes. He loved the Mossie, no crew to worry about apart from the Navigator and they were so fast very few fighters could catch them. More importantly it kept him alive. As he was nearing the end of his second tour of operations he was asked to transfer to the newly re-formed 608 Squadron which needed some experienced crews to help bed the Squadron in. Most of the raids in 1944 were against Berlin and on his last raid he flew with a heavy head cold, came down too fast on his return and damaged his eardrums. This was the end of his flying career as he was grounded. His navigator was re-crewed and was killed over Berlin a few weeks later. He ended the war in Rangoon running an operational admin unit for General Slim. He caught malaria and it had a marked effect on his health for many years after his return to civilian life.

John Armin

F/Lt. Ernest Hector Watts 608 sqd

My father was Ernest Hector Watts from Scarborough. He was a member of the North Riding Squadron of the Royal Auxiliary Airforce at Thornaby until 1957 - I have a pewter tankard of his inscribed: to Hector from the Officers & Aircrew March 1957. It also bears the squadron crest. He also flew in Burma towards the end of WWII but Im not sure in which squadron. He died in 1990.

Jennifer Heward

F/Lt. David F. Walker 608 sqd

The Norfolk cricketer David Walker who was stationed at R.A.F. Thornaby in 1941 6 OTU then 608 Squadron Early the following year he and 608 were transferred to Wick. He died early in 1942 when his plane was shot down off the Norwegian coast. He is buried in Trondhiem. If you have any information about his time at Thornaby or Wick, I would be most grateful.

Andrew Dawson

Sgt. Harold Aughty 608 Sqd

Thornaby on Tees, Yorkshire was the home of 608 squadron. Being 11 years old when war was declared, not many memories of pre war, only Bi planes [2 wings] being flown from there. I remember the night that the drome got bombed ,no information about that [theres a war on ] Sgt Harold Aughty was mentioned in dispatches for his part during the raid. He was from the Bradford area and a family friend. Dad was an old soldier from the 14/18 war and if he saw R A F men in the local fish shop [Lanehouse Road] He brought them round for supper.

608 Squadron was a Coastal Command SQ, a Lockheed Hudson spotted the Altmark [supply ship for sea raiders ] in a Norwegian fiord and this resulted in the release of a good number of Allied Merchant Seamen being taken to a German P O W camp. Living near to the drome meant that we saw the planes going out on patrol and often coming back with pieces torn out of them. Thornaby Cemetery was used for the Burial of Airmen both Allied and German [ R I P ] We often saw the corteges passing our school.

Regards to All, both Men and Women who served in the forces during the war.

Tom Carlin

F/Lt. Stuart Douglas Webb 608 Squadron (d.10th Nov 1944)

On the night of August 24th 1944, Flight Lieutenant Stuart Douglas Webb of 608 Squadron, 8th group Pathfinder and Light Night Striking Force RAF Downham Market took off at 21:35hrs detailed to attack Cologne. While on a bombing run over the target his Mosquito B-XX KB242 was coned in by searchlights and as the bombs were released it was hit by very heavy flak. Shortly after, on the return home, a Focke Wulf FW 190 night fighter flown by Hauptmann, Friedrich-Karl ‘Nasen’ Muller of Nachtjagdgruppe 1./NJGr.10 made four continued attacks on his aircraft over Eindhoven, actually claiming a kill. On the last attack the Mosquito was thrown into a steep spiral dive from 25,000 feet. Doug regained control at about 9,000 feet. The elevator trimming tabs were shot away, the hydraulic lines severed and the A.S.I. unserviceable. He then set course for home and despite great difficulty he was able to keep the stricken aircraft in stable flight. As the emergency hydraulic system was by now also unserviceable he landed with the undercarriage retracted at Woodbridge airfield in Suffolk at 01:10hrs. The rear of the fuselage was so badly damaged by cannon fire that the entire tail section of the aircraft fell off completely on touching down. He received a letter of commendation for his actions.

Later however, on Friday 10th of November 1944, Stuart was tragically killed in an accident when 10 minutes after take off, the Mosquito B-XX KB360 that he was piloting, call sign H for Harry, suffered port engine failure and crash landed at Maltmas Farm, Friday Bridge near Wisbech in Cambridgeshire at 22:05hrs. He was on a mission to Hanover and had taken off at 21:55hrs. He was 23 years old. His navigator F/O John Campbell RAFVR was badly injured but survived. Due to the radio silence rule the aircraft was listed as missing since no one was aware of the tragedy until the crashed aircraft was discovered the next morning just 8 miles from home. It had been a bitterly cold winter night on the bleak Cambridge Fens and Stuart had died during the night from a combination of his injuries and from exposure.

David Jones

Vernon S Lilley 608 Sqdn.

I served with 608 Squadron, RAF from November 1943 until it was disbanded in late 1944. After a short stint with MEDME Com Sqdn, I was posted with F/O Ken R. Archer (RAFVR) to the British Military Mission to Roumania. Ken was unfortunately killed at Bucharest, after I left there in late 1945. Any news of Ken, or of the history of 608 Sqdn. would be appreciated.

Update: F/O Archer (184570) died on 2nd April 1946, aged 28. He is buried in the Bucharest War Cemetery, 1.D.8.

Vernon S Lilley

Wing Cmdr. George "Boss" Martin 608 Squadron

Does anyone have any information about my grandfather, Wing Cmdr George `Boss' Martin who served in 608 Squadron during WWII?


Flt.Sgt. Harrison Weir 608 Squadron (d.4th June 1943)

Harrison Weir was killed along with his crew, including wireless operator/rear gunner Flight Sergeant John Gordon, when their plane crashed to the ground shortly after take off from an airfield in Algeria in the early morning of 4th June 1943. They are buried at Bone War Cemetery, Algeria.

Michael Rawlings

Allan Sutherland Beavis DFM 608 Squadron

Allan with one of his maps.

I interviewed Allan on the 28th of June 2016. He was a navigator on 608 Squadron RAF and flew on 55 sorties on Mosquitos between October 1944 and May 1945. 25 of those targeted Berlin.

Keith Webb

John Morton OBE, DFC. 608 Squadron

John Morton, O.B.E., D.F.C. (RAFVR 65587) flew with F/Sgt Allan Sutherland Beavis (Aus.431122), completing 55 sorties together, by April 1945.

I would like to know the date F/L Morton joined 608 Squadron and how many missions he flew to Berlin? Any contact with relatives of both F/L Morton, OBE, DFC or F/Sgt Beavis, DFM would be most welcomed.

Adriano Silva Baumgartner

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