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No. 211 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

No. 211 Squadron (RAF): Second World War


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No. 211 Squadron (RAF) during the Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.211 Squadron had two incarnations during the Second World War, first as a bomber squadron that served in the Middle East and in the disastrous early campaigns in the Far East, and second as a fighter-bomber squadron operating on the Burma front.

The squadron was reformed on 24 June 1937 as a day bomber squadron equipped with the Audax and the Hind. These aircraft were taken to the Middle East in April 1938, where in May 1939 they were replaced with Blenheims. After the Italian entry into the war the Blenheims were used as both bombers and reconnaissance aircraft over the Western Desert - on 11 June it was reconnaissance aircraft from the squadron that found the Italian airforce unprepared and on the ground at its main base at El Adem.

In November 1940 the squadron was one of the first RAF units to move to Greece after the Italian invasion, and was used to bomb Italian bases in Albania. The squadron remained in Greece for five months, but was forced to evacuate after the German invasion in April 1941. In May the squadron was involved in the Allied invasion of Syria, before moving to the Sudan for training with No.72 OTU.

At the end of 1941 the squadron was sent to Singapore in an attempt shore up the defences against the advancing Japanese, but by the time it reached the Far East the airfields in Malaya were already under attack and so the squadron moved on to Sumatra. A few operations were flown from Sumatra before the squadron was forced to retreat to Java in mid February, where on 19 February all surviving aircraft were handed over the No.84. No.211 Squadron was then disbanded.

The squadron was reformed on 14 August 1943 at Phaphamau, Allahabad, as a Beaufighter unit. The first aircraft arrived in October, and the squadron flew its first operation over Burma on 13 January 1944. From then until May 1945 the squadron was used for attacks on Japanese communications, river craft and coastal convoys, including an attack on a large coastal convoy in September 1944 in which aircraft from Nos.211 and 177 Squadrons damaged at least fourteen ships.

In May 1945 the squadron was pulled back to India to convert to the Mosquito, in preparation for the invasion of Malaya. The end of the war meant that this operation was not needed, and instead in October the squadron moved to Bangkok, where it was disbanded on 15 March 1946.

Aircraft
May 1939-May 1941: Bristol Blenheim I
May 1941-February 1942: Bristol Blenheim IV
October 1943-June 1945: Bristol Beaufighter IX
June 1945-March 1946: de Havilland Mosquito VI

Location
January-April 1939: Ismailia
April-May 1939: El Daba
May-August 1939: Ismailia
August 1939-July 1940: El Daba
July-November 1940: Qotafiya
November 1940: Ismailia
November 1940-February 1941: Tatoi/ Menidi
Febriary-April 1941: Paramythia
April 1941: Agrinion
April 1941: Heraklion
April 1941: Heliopolis
April 1941: Ramlah
April-May 1941: Lydda
May-June 1941: Aqir
June 1941: Heliopolis
June-December 1941: Wadi Gazouza

January-February 1942: Palembang
February 1942: Kalidjati

August-November 1943: Phaphamau
November-December 1943: Ranchi
December 1943-January 1944: Silchar
January-May 1944: Comilla/ Bhatpara
May-July 1944: Feni
July 1944-May 1945: Chiringa (Chakeri, SE Bangladesh)
May-July 1945: Yelahanka
July-September 1945: St. Thomas Mount
October 1945-March 1946: Don Muang (Siam)

Squadron Codes: UQ (Blenheim I)

Duty
1939-1941: Bomber Squadron, Middle East
1941-1942: Bomber Squadron, Far East
1943-1945: Ground attack squadron, Far East

Part of
September 1939: Egypt Group; RAF Middle East
1 July 1944: No.169 Wing; No.224 Group; Third Tactical Air Force; Eastern Air Command; HQ Air Command South-East Asia

Books

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No. 211 Squadron (RAF): Second World War - History

7 July 1918 to
(11 January 1919)

Personnel of 211 Squadron RAF 13 November 1918 (Norrie Collection, 211 Newbury Squadron ATC)

Officers of 211 Squadron RAF 13 November 1918 (Norrie Collection, 211 Newbury Squadron ATC)
A print of this same image, held in the collection of Arthur Bernard Bedford (who is fourth from the left, rear), was captioned with these names on the rear. Thanks to John Grech and the Bedford family for this added information.

Front row: Palmer, Miller, Tyler, Blanchfield, Hope, McClellan, Taber, Axford, Gairdner, Major Reid, Lett, Bishop, Mousley, Drake, Paget, Moore, Large, Norrie.
Back row: Drudge, Thomas, Lole, Bedford, St. Oegger, Dickins, Snowden, Robinson, Keary, Stevenson, Watson, Gill, White, Tyrol, Watts, Adam, Dark.

Airco DH9
Intended as a long-range bomber to replace the Airco DH4 and in part identical in design, the DH9 was hobbled from the start by poor engine selection. Even de-rated to a wholly inadequate 230hp, the untried BHP (later Siddeley Puma) engine was far less reliable than the DH4's 375hp Rolls-Royce Eagle V12.

Engine apart, the main difference in the DH9 design was that instead of being separated by the fuel tank, the pilot’s and Observer’s cockpits were now placed back-to-back and aft of the tank. While this proximity was an advantage in combat and more liked by the crews, it could not compensate for the poor performance in speed and altitude essential against enemy fighters or flak.

Trenchard and de Havilland were unable to convince the Controller of Supplies in the Ministry of Munitions, Sir William Weir PC (later President of the Air Council), to halt large-scale production of an aircraft type known from the outset to be of inferior performance and reliability. Their efforts in attempting to rectify such a poor decision have been well recorded.

Still, of the new design, Jane’s 1918 edition of All the World’s Aircraft remarked with blithe if inaccurate optimism:

“The total weight empty has been reduced by almost 100lb. and the total load carried has been increased by about 500lbs at the cost of a slight loss in speed and climb. ”

But in fact—if it could be coaxed to do so at all— it took a DH9 three times longer than the DH4 to reach 15,000 feet and when it got there, it was fully 30mph slower.

In production, whether as the Galloway BHP, the Siddeley BHP or as the Siddely Puma, no amount of fiddling could wring either better reliability from the engine or raise its power-rating to anything like that originally hoped for or required. In service, the DH9s thus suffered too-frequent engine failure and struggled to reach or exceed 13,000ft bombed-up, at which height they were vulnerable to AA and fighter interception.

Eventually, redesigned to take a 400hp Packard Liberty V12, the aircraft became the robust and justly famous DH9A or "Nine-Ack". But not before RFC and RAF Squadrons were forced to fight and die in their wallowing DH9s over the Western Front in 1918. Fortunately the DH9 crews were able to give a good account of themselves in the right conditions, recording a number of victories.

Bomber. Single-engined, two-bay biplane, conventional wire-braced wooden box-girder fuselage construction with ply-clad unbraced forward section, fabric covered

Pilot and Observer, seated back to back

230hp Galloway BHP, Siddeley BHP or Siddely Puma (240hp at 1,400ft)

One fixed .303in Vickers machine gun with Constantinesco CC interrupter gear firing forward above the forward fuselage.
One or two .303in Lewis machine guns on Scarff No 2 ring in rear cockpit
2x230lb or 4x112lb or smaller bombs, in the internal bomb-bay or under the fuselage or on wing racks

Empty 2,200lb (DH4 2,300lb)
Military load 570lb
Loaded 3670lb (DH4 3470lb)

20min to 10,000ft (DH4 9min)
45min to 15,000ft (DH4 17min) (with 2x230lb bombs)
67min to 16,500ft (DH4 20min)

With full bomb load
112mph at 10,000ft (DH4 134mph)
97mph at 15,000ft (DH4 126mph)
Landing speed: 57 mph (DH4 52mph)

DH9s in 211 Squadron service

War-time aircraft
The following list records aircraft known to have been on 211 Squadron charge, including a brief service history for some aircraft and their crews, sourced from Sturtivant and Page’s DH4/DH9 File, and from the Squadron Returns of Casualties to All Ranks (TNA AIR 1/930/204/242/13) and Casualty Reports to Personnel and Machines (AIR 1/1930/204/242/12). The list is incomplete—additional service details may be added as time and available reference material permit.

B7581, B7588, B7598, B7600, B7603, B7604, B7614, B7620, B7621, B7623—B7626, B7629, B7632, B7637, B7638, B7661, B7675, B7679
These B-serial aircraft were of the first batch of 100 aircraft ordered in June 1917 and delivered between January and May 1918. Built by Westland Aircraft Works, all were originally ordered as DH4s intended for use by Naval units. All were completed as DH9s and by delivery all had been fitted with 230hp BHP engines. Examples of service history:

B7581
Taken on 211 Squadron charge 12 April 1918. Shot-up 17 July 1918, Lt JF Drake (pilot) uninjured and 2nd Lt NG Breeze (Observer) wounded. Drake and 2nd Lt GJ Moore claimed an enemy aircraft out of control and in flames on 1 November 1918. Transferred to 2 Aircraft Supply Depot Feb 1919 as unfit to fly The Channel on the Squadron’s return to the UK.

B7588
With 211 Squadron by 6 April 1918 but by 25 April had suffered damage in a landing accident and returned to Depot.

B7598
Issued to 211 Squadron 15 April 1918. Damaged by AA fire Bruges-Ostende 9 July 1918 without injury to Lt H Axford and his Observer Cpl F Wilkinson.

B7600
Following service with 206 Squadron, issued to 211 Squadron 6 April 1918. Suffered engine failure near the aerodrome 15 May 1918. Spun in after attempting to turn and burnt out with the death of 2nd Lt CK Flower and his Observer 2nd Lt IAB McTavish.

B7603
To 211 Squadron 6 April 1918. In combat, force-landed at Zuydcoote 16 September 1918. Capt WD Gairdner, the recently appointed Flight Commander, was uninjured but his Observer 2nd Lt HM Moodie died of wounds shortly after landing. The aircraft was later recovered to be flown again on 4 November 1918 by Gairdner who, with Observer Lt BJ Paget, forced down an enemy aircraft out of control—one of four 211 Squadron victories that day.

B7604
To 211 Squadron 6 April 1918. Caught by heavy AA and crashed 21 May 1918 without injury to Lt RFC Metcalfe and his Observer 2nd Lt DL Bradley.

B7614
Issued to 11 Squadron March 1918 and remained on Squadron charge from 1 April. Attacked by six enemy aircraft on a photo-reconnaissance mission. Badly shot up, force-landed and crashed and completely wrecked near Oudecappelle 13 August 1918. Pilot Lt CH Miller was wounded but his Observer Cpl SJ Bence was killed.

B7620 ‘A’
With 211 Squadron by 6 April. Individually identified by a striking barred design on fuselage and fin, this aircraft force-landed in Dutch territory and was interned, 27 June 1918, along with pilot Capt JA Gray and Observer 2nd Lt JJ Comerford.

B7621
To 211 Squadron 12 April 1918. Crashed twice in the hands of Lt JF Drake in April and June 1918. Neither Drake or his Observer 2nd Lt NG Breeze were injured.

B7623 ‘L’
To 211 Squadron on 7 April 1918, firstly as ‘B’ and later as ‘L’. 1st Lt DR Harris USAS and 2nd Lt WL Bing crashed without injury in this aircraft on 10 July 1918. On 16 August, Harris was not so lucky. With his Observer 2nd Lt J Munro, the aircraft was badly hit by AA fire NE of Bruges. Seen to be gliding down under control, the crew gave emergency signals and were able to forced land with a dead engine near Zoudekerque. Both were interned. The camera they had thrown overboard during this adventure was retrieved the next day. The aircraft was taken on by the Dutch as deH438, but later returned to the RAF in March 1920.

B7624 ‘P’
To 211 Squadron 7 April 1918. In action on 13 July with Capt HM Ireland as pilot, his Observer 2nd Lt CWT Colman was wounded.

Then on 20 July 1918 again with Ireland as pilot, the aircraft suffered engine damage in combat while returning from a raid on Bruges. Attacked by an enemy sea-plane, in turn both pilot and his Observer (the redoubtable Squadron CO Major Robert Loraine DSO MC) engaged the enemy aircraft whose first burst punctured the water pump and wounded Loraine in the leg. Loraine continued to engage the enemy aircraft which was driven down out of control. With the engine losing water, Ireland headed for Nieuport where the engine seized - but he was able to effect a forced landing, gliding on to the beach opposite La Panne. After hospitalisation and a subsequent operation, Loraine recovered.

Though Ireland had force-landed on a beach, B7624 was recovered and on the morning of 8 August was in action again, in another raid on Bruges docks. Fired on by both Dutch and German coastal guards, the aircraft was again hit in the engine. Force-landed at Sas van Gent, Hoofdplaat, Zeeland, the aircraft was put to the torch by the crew, 2nd Lt LK Davidson and 2nd Lt WL Bing, who were interned by the Dutch.

B7626 ‘O’
Delivered to 10 Aircraft Acceptance Park in March 1918, by 12 April the aircraft had been taken on 211 Squadron charge as ‘O’. In action on 3 October, the pilot 2nd Lt CC Brouncker was unharmed but his Observer 2nd Lt DJ Avery was wounded. At about 1100hrs on the morning of 4 November, 2nd Lt CH Dickins and his Observer 2nd Lt AM Adam shared credit for the break-up of an enemy aircraft in the air, with the crews of D551 ‘X’ and E8962. The aircraft was assessed as unfit for further service in the field at 2 ASD on 22 February 1919.

B7637 ‘I’
To 211 Squadron 7 April 1918. On 9 May the aircraft was badly shot up during a bombing raid between Ostende and Nieuport. The pilot Lt FJ Islip was uninjured but his Observer 2/Lt E Cooke was wounded. At 1 ASD the aircraft was struck off charge on 14 May.

B7661
Taken on charge by 211 Squadron 8 May 1918. Shortly after noon on 19 May, Lt JS Forgie and 2nd Lt JS Muir brought down an Albatros D (sic) which crashed into a wood and caught fire near Blankenburghe. Two days later, in a mid-morning attack on Varssenaere aerodrome, the aircraft was last seen lagging behind the formation. 2nd Lt HE Tansley and his Observer 2nd Lt NB Harris survived and were taken captive.

B7679
Taken on Squadron charge 14 June 1918, on 16 August 1918 the aircraft took part in a bombing raid on Bruges, in the course of which Lt GH Baker was wounded. The aircraft returned safely to survive until 1919, when at 2 Air Stores Depot it was assessed as unfit to fly the Channel.

B9346, B9348
From the second batch of 100 aircraft ordered, probably as DH4s, and built by the Vulcan Motor and Engineering Co of Southport with 230hp Puma engines.

B9346
Delivered to 4 Aircraft Acceptance Park Lincoln on 7 June 1918, to 211 Squadron on 26 June 1918 but crashed on landing with Lt CM Ducking at the controls. Repaired and flying again two days later. On 13 July 1918 2nd Lt W Gilman and his Observer AC1 WJ Atkinson took off at 1520hrs for a raid on Ostende. Hit by AA fire near Zeebrugge, Gilman force-landed in the sea 4 miles North of Nieuport at 1735hrs. Both men drowned, only Atkinson’s body being recovered.

B9348 ‘F’
Same batch as B9346, and delivered to 211 Squadron 24 June 1918. To 2 Air Stores Depot 22 February 1919.

C1168
From the batch of 300 aircraft originally ordered as DH4s from GJ Weir and Co Glasgow, with the 230hp Puma engine.

C1168
To 211 Squadron 14 June 1918. In action three days later, 2nd Lt J Steel Muir was wounded. The machine was taken back to the UK and returned to 211 Squadron on 9 September. Damaged by AA fire in action on 7 October, the pilot Lt JL McAdam and his Observer Sgt Mechanic H Lindsay were both wounded, although McAdam managed to forced land at Möeres.

C2176, C2180, C2210
Part of the December 1917 order of 80 DH9s from FW Berwick and Co, London.

C2176
Apparently a 206 Squadron aircraft. Last seen in heavy AA fire at 5,000ft two miles East of Ostende on 25 June 1918, 2nd Lt F Daltrey was wounded and taken PoW but his Observer 1/Pte R Shephard was killed. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission record shows Shephard as a member of 211 Squadron.

C6276, C6348, C6167, C6270, C6276
This batch of 300 aircraft was ordered on 28 September 1917 from the Aircraft Manufacturing Co. Equipped in the main with the 230hp BHP engine, deliveries began from November.

C6348 ‘C’
Following delivery to 7AAP Kenley 11 June 1918, the aircraft reached 211 Squadron as ‘C’ on 26 June 1918. Suffering engine failure on take-off on 7 August 1918, Capt RM Wynne-Eaton and 2/Lt TB Dodwell escaped unhurt from the forced-landing which followed, despite the aircraft overturning in a cornfield.

Quickly repaired, by 16 August the aircraft was operating over Bruges with the same two men as crew when it was badly damaged by AA fire to forced-land in the waters of the Wielingen. There it sank at 1230hrs, two miles from the coast near Breskens. Though badly wounded, both men were rescued by a Dutch volunteer crew in a guard boat and interned. The scene was also attended by 2 torpedo boats and HMS Hydra . The Wielingen remains today one of the busiest waterways of Europe. After the war, the eight Dutch seamen responsible for the rescue of Wynne-Eaton and Dodwell were each awarded the Silver Medal for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea ( London Gazette 7 January 1919). Dodwell’s DSO for an earlier act of gallantry with 211 Squadron was awarded on 2 November 1918 (London Gazette), as noted above. In December 1918, now repatriated, Dodwell relinquished his commission “on account of ill-health caused by wounds” and was granted the honorary rank of 2nd Lieutenant.

D482, D517, D547, D565, D568
From the batch of 500 DH9s ordered in October 1917 from Cubitt Ltd/National Aircraft Factory No 1, Waddon, with 200hp BHP engines

D482
To 211 Squadron 30 June 1918. Having taken off at 0700hrs on 29 September, the aircraft suffered a direct hit by AA fire between Ypres and Roulers. The pilot, 2nd Lt JL McAdam, attempted a forced-landing West of the lines but the aircraft crashed and was totally wrecked. McAdam survived unhurt but his Observer 2nd Lt TW Kelly was killed. The remnants were recovered to 1 Aircraft Supply Depot as salvage on 1 October.

D517
To 211 Squadron 30 September 1918. On 1 November, 2nd Lt PM Keary and his Observer 2/Lt AK Robinson took off at 11:00hrs on a photo reconnaissance sortie. Over Mauberge at 14,000ft they were attacked by four enemy aircraft, slightly wounding Robinson. The aircraft was recovered by 7 Salvage Section the next day.

D551 ‘X’ Airco DH9 D551 ‘X’ late 1918 (RAF—own collection)
Delivered to the Squadron 30 September 1918. In the late morning of 4 November, a formation of 211 Squadron aircraft was flying at 13,000ft near Mauberge on a photographic reconnaissance, escorted by Bristol aircraft. Attacked by 4 Fokker biplanes, 2nd Lt WG Watson and Sgt Mech C Lamont in D551 shared a victory with 2nd Lt Dickins and 2nd Lt AM Adam (B7626), and Lt EG Gaff and 2nd Lt WJ Large in E8962. Fired on at almost point blank range, the first enemy aircraft to attack caught fire and broke up in the air. In the course of the running fight that ensued, two more Fokkers were destroyed and another forced down. On a flight to 98 Squadron demobilisation unit at the end of February 1919, Lt A Adams of 98 Squadron had to forced land D551 due to weather, suffering shock and abrasions. By 3 March the aircraft had been recovered, to 1 Aircraft Supply Depot.

D565
Delivered to 211 Squadron 26 September 1918. Took off at 1130hrs on 29 September for a bombing raid on Courtrai. Shot down in flames in the same running fight that claimed D3093 and crew near Cambrai-Ypres. The pilot, First Lt W Henley-Mooney USAS, survived, wounded, to be taken PoW but his Observer, 2nd Lt VA Fair MC, was killed. Fair had earlier survived an engine failure in DH9 D3918 with 49 Squadron that killed his pilot, Lt WH Stone.

D1086 From another batch of 500 aircraft ordered in October 1917 from Crossley Motors/National Aircraft Factory No 2, Heaton Chapel

D1693, D1701 ‘V’ From a June 1917 order for 100 aircraft from Mann Egerton and Co, Norwich.

D1693
To 211 Squadron 16 May 1918. Took off at 1010hrs on 26 May to test extra driftwires. Re-crossing the trenches near Pervyse at 20ft, the port wing folded up. The aircraft crashed and was completely wrecked, killing its very experienced and highly decorated pilot, Capt TF le Mesurier DSC & 2 bars MiD and his Observer, 2nd Lt R Lardner. A German Marine Flak claim to have shot down a DH aircraft that morning is broadly consistent in time and place with the loss.

D1701 ‘V’
To 211 Squadron 25 May 1918. Took off at 14.35 hours 13 August 1918 on a PR mission. Attacked by six Fokker D.VIIs and crashed on forced-landing between Forthem and Lou, SE of Furnes. Pilot First Lt A F Bonnalie USAS and his Observer 2nd Lt T B Dodwell were both unhurt. SOC 27 August 1918 as not worth repair.

D2781 ‘M’, D2782, D2784
These D series machines were of a batch of 100 (D2776 to D2875) ordered on 19 November 1917 from Short Bros Rochester and delivered fitted with the 230hp Puma engine.

D2781 ‘M’
Initially allocated to 11 Squadron RNAS on 23 March 1918, to 211 Squadron as ‘M’ 1 April. On 13 July Lt ES Morgan and 2/Lt R Simpson claimed an enemy aircraft driven down our of control. On 25 July the aircraft was hit by AA fire over Zeebrugge. Sgt pilot RS Gude flew as quickly as possible to Holland to get aid for his Observer Sgt HM Partridge. Hurried to hospital, Partridge died of his wounds. Gude was interned.

D2782
The aircraft was initially delivered to 2 Aircraft Acceptance Park, Hendon in March 1918. Received by 11 (Naval) Squadron on 23 March, before becoming 211 Squadron with the creation of the RAF on 1 April. On 14 July the aircraft was damaged by AA fire which wounded the pilot 2/Lt HH Palmer (Observer 2/Lt WC Snowden unhurt). The machine survived the war, but was assessed at 2 Aircraft Supply Depot as unfit to fly The Channel on 22 February 1919.

D2784
Taken on charge by 211 Squadron 7 April 1918. Lt W Gilman and 2/Lt R Gardner destroyed a Fokker Dr1 triplane over Zeebrugge Mole on 9 May. Ten days later, Lt NA Taylerson and his Observer Lt CL Bray took off in this aircraft at 1100hrs and were last seen in formation near Ostende-Nieuport. About noon on 19 May 1918, the aircraft crashed near Uytkerke. Taylerson and Bray both died.

D2918 ‘D’, D2921, D3093, D3198, D3233, D3241, D3251, D3259
Of the 400 aircraft ordered in November 1917 from the Aircraft Manufacturing Co at Hendon came these 211 Squadron examples.

D2918 ‘D’
Delivered to 211 Squadron 28 July 1918. Took off for a bombing raid at 0950hrs on 7 September with pilot Lt ES Morgan and Observer 2nd Lt R Simpson. Shot down and crashed into the sea, wreckage was found about seven to nine miles North of Gravelines. Picked up from the sea by the French, both men were dead.

D3093
At 8 Air Acceptance Park Lympne to Reception Park 5 July 1918, Air Issues 7 July, 211 Squadron 10 July. Took off 1130hrs 29 September 1918 for a bombing raid on Courtrai. About noon, the formation was attacked by 40 to 50 enemy aircraft near Ypres-Cambrai. Shot down smoking but under control in the running fight that followed, Lt AG White and 2nd Lt JB Blundell were both killed.

D3210
To 211 Squadron 12 September 1918. Returning from a raid on Bruges three days later, the aircraft was hit by AA fire. The engine failed and while attempting a forced landing crashed into a hedge, without injury to the pilot, 2/Lt JM Payne. The Observer, Lt CT Linford, was slightly wounded.

D3241
Delivered to 211 Squadron 17 August 1918. Took off at 1100hrs on 1 November 1918 on a photo-reconnaissance sortie. Last seen going down South of Maubeuge with 10 enemy aircraft attacking. The pilot 2nd Lt JM Payne and his Observer 2nd Lt WG Gadd survived but both were taken captive.

D3251 ‘E’
To 211 Squadron 17 August 1918. Took off at 1330hrs on 24 September. After dropping two bombs on Bruges docks, the radiator was hit by AA fire and the engine failed while the aircraft was at 8,000ft. The pilot, 2nd Lt J Olorenshaw was able to glide to Breskens, Zeeland, in Holland and effect a forced-landing without further damage. He and his Observer, 2nd Lt RL kingham, were unhurt but interned.

D7204 ‘J’, D7362, D7369 ‘V’
A batch of 100 aircraft ordered in January 1918, with 230hp Puma engines from Westland Aircraft Works, Yeovil included these machines allocated to 211 Squadron.

D7204 ‘J’
With 211 Squadron on 16 June 1918. Badly shot up 26 June with Lt HN Lett and Pte 2nd Class HW Newsham returning safe, and aircraft repaired. Took off 1310hrs on 24 August 1918 for a raid on Bruges Docks and hit by AA fire over the target. At about 1630hrs the pilot Lt JA Dear attempted a forced-landing at Zuidzande, Zeeland but the aircraft nosed over. Dear and his Observer 2nd Lt JFJ Peters were both interned.

D7362
To 211 Squadron 30 September 1918. On 10 November 1918, the aircraft took off at 0945hrs on a photo reconnaissance sortie. Hit by either enemy aircraft or AA fire, the aircraft was seen to land behind enemy lines South-West of Charleroi. 2nd Lt CH Thomas was made PoW but his Observer 2nd Lt JHR Smith was killed, the Squadron’s last casualty in action in the Great War.

D7369 ‘V’
From 1 Air Issues to 211 Squadron on 7 October 1918, forced-landing at Petit Synthe en route. On 30 November, this time en route from the Squadron to 1 Aircraft Supply Depot, Lt DF Taber RAF encountered thick mist and crashed while landing at Boussieres. He and his Observer 2/Lt JM McLellan were unhurt.

Taber, from the United States according to Sturtivant, had been appointed as a temporary 2nd Lieutenant on probation in the RFC in January 1918, and Lieutenant in the new RAF from 1 April 1918. He first appeared on the weekly Nominal Roll of 211 Squadron Officers among the flying personnel in early November 1918, remaining with them until posted to RAF Repatriation Camp Shorncliffe in Kent on 22 Feb 1919. He passed to the Unemployed List with effect from 6 March 1919, according to the August 1919 Air Force List.

E691: from the batch of 100 ordered in late January 1918 from Whitehead Aircraft Co, Richmond.
Delivered to the Squadron on 18 October 1918, the aircraft was hit on the ground by another machine on 27 October. Sent off to 7 Salvage Section the next day, the aircraft was struck off in the field.

A further 200 DH9s were ordered in March 1918 from the Aircraft Manufacturing Co, Hendon, with 230hp Puma engines, serial nos E8857 to E9056, included these 211 Squadron allocations

E8872
To 211 squadron 29 September 1918. During a bombing raid on the morning of 5 October 1918, the pilot 2nd Lt VGH Phillips was wounded by enemy aircraft fire just before reaching the target but pressed on. On the way back the aircraft again came under fire from enemy aircraft, wounding the Observer 2nd Lt AF Taylor and shooting the aileron controls away. Phillips succeeded in reaching British lines and force-landed just West of Roulers at about 1000hrs. Attempts to salvage the machine were frustrated by shell-fire, only the engine and gun being retrieved.

E8880
From the Reception Park to 1 Air Issues 27 September 1918 and delivered to 211 Squadron 30 September 1918. Very late in the Great War, on the afternoon of 9 November this aircraft was being flown by pilot Lt WF Blanchfield and Observer 2nd Lt TR Lole when at 1515hrs they destroyed a Fokker DVII, south of Charleroi. By 23 February 1919, E8880 was on charge with 98 Squadron, thence to 8 Aircraft Acceptance Park on 8 March.

E8936
Taken on charge 25 September 1918, three days later the aircraft took off at 1130hrs to bomb Staden and was last seen after the raid in control West of the target. The pilot, 2nd Lt WJ Johnson was taken prisoner but died of his wounds. His Observer, Sgt Mechanic WE Jones MM survived and also fell captive.

E8962
Delivered to the Squadron on 8 October 1918. Flown in the hectic action of 4 November by Lt EG Gaff with 2nd Lt WJ Large, by Large’s shooting the pair were awarded 1/3 share in the Fokker also attacked by Dickins and Adam (B7626) and Watson and Lamont in D551 ‘X’.

F1157
One of a batch of 200 Puma-engined aircraft ordered from Waring and Gillow Ltd of Hammersmith. Taken on charge 29 October 1918. Took off on a tactical reconnaissance at 1130hrs on 4 November 1918. The aircraft failed to return and the pilot, 2nd Lt CC Brouncker and his Observer, 2nd Lt CD Macdonald, were never found.

D547 to 211 Squadron 1 December 1918

[General Higgins inspects, Iris Farm c November 1918]
(Norrie Collection, 211 Newbury Squadron ATC)
Date and place unrecorded in the Norrie album. The canvas hangars are typical of a Squadron “in the field” in World War I.

General Higgins inspects [Iris Farm c November 1918]
(Norrie Collection, 211 Newbury Squadron ATC)
Album title. Clearly the same occasion.

The RAF Museum London Navigator database also holds a number of images of this parade, recording the occasion as at Petit Synthe in September 1918. According to both the Album and Robertson, however, Higgin’s inspection took place at Iris Farm, which implies a date some time from the last week of October to very early December.

Several images, including these two, were seemingly taken from considerable elevation. The shadow of the structure can be seen in both shots, the uppermost including that of a flag, possibly the 211 Squadron pennant later donated to 211 (Newbury) Squadron ATC.

Iris Farm (Norrie Collection, 211 Newbury Squadron ATC)
Clearly identified in the Norrie album. Near Clary, about 10 miles SE of Cambrai, some 70 miles inland from their first station at Petit Synthe, just outside Dunkirk. The men’s tentlines clustered close to the farm, while the flying area is edged with canvas hangars. At least 8 aircraft just visible.

Iris Farm (Norrie Collection, 211 Newbury Squadron ATC)
Album title. The general layour of the hangars is consistent with the preceding shots. The long shadow left of centre extending into the flying area is of a tall structure, like an observation tower, in the right position to match that in the previous two shots, as this enlarged portion illustrates.

211 Squadron Photo Section, Iris Farm (Norrie Collection, 211 Newbury Squadron ATC)
From the album title.

Bruges docks, 1918 (Norrie Collection, 211 Newbury Squadron ATC)
One of the Squadron’s main objectives in the U-Boat war. With some redevelopment, the docks retain much the same form today.

No 211 (Newbury) Squadron, Air Training Corps
In 1961, W/Cdr Norrie RAF presented an album of 211 Squadron photographs from World War I to their only modern echo: No 211 (Newbury) Squadron of the Air Training Corps.

Apparently born in 1896, Norrie had been a member of 211 Squadron RAF at its formation in 1918, his photograph with DH9 A-Acme included in the album as shown above. Rising to hon. Lieutenant, he passed to the unemployed officer list in 1919.

By 1942, Norrie had rejoined the RAF as Acting Pilot Officer in the Training Branch, which among other things held responsibility for the Air Training Corps. Founded in 1941 to create a pool of young cadets with some air experience, the Corps grew quickly: No 211 (Newbury) Squadron was one of the earliest units to form, that same year.

Norrie remained active in Training Branch for many years and to good effect, being awarded the OBE in the 1951 King’s Birthday honours List as an Ordinary Officer in the Military Division of the Order, in the rank of Squadron Leader. His RAF service thereafter extended each year until 1959, at which date he seems to have retired aged 65, apparently retaining the rank of Wing Commander.

Shortly after retirement, it seems, he visited 211 (Newbury) Squadron ATC to present them with the photograph album and with the Squadron’s flag that had been flown above its war-time stations in France. The images shown here are thanks to the interest and efforts of Squadron Adjutant P/O Alex Pye, a frequent and kindly correspondent since his time as Civilian Instructor, who has very kindly made scans from the Norrie album available.

Among the images is a very early shot of the 211 Squadron ATC band, at Christmas 1942—at that time, No. 211 Squadron RAF had briefly ceased to exist. There is just one adult RAF officer in the image, third from the left, front. There is a possibility that it is Norrie himself.

In 2006, much to do with Alex Pye’s interest, 211 Squadron ATC was granted its own Squadron badge and motto, drawn from that of 211 Squadron Royal Air Force by Garter King of Arms and RAF Inspector of Badges Peter Gwynn-Jones CVO. At the time, 211 (Newbury) Squadron was one of just three Air Training Corps squadrons in the UK to have achieved such a mark.

Sources
History of 211 Squadron RAF ( TNA AIR 1/696/21/20/211) (also apparently presented in 1937 to the Squadron on re-forming)
Returns of Casualties to All Ranks, 211 Squadron (TNA AIR 1/930/204/242/13)
Casualty Reports to Personnel and Machines, 211 Squadron (AIR 1/1930/204/242/12)

Grech J personal corresp with author.

Air Force List May 1918, August 1919
Commonwealth War Graves Commission records.
Flight various issues
London Gazette issues to 1919 and 1939�
RAF Museum Casualty Cards, Muster Rolls in Story Vault

C Bowyer ed Royal Flying Corps Communiques 1917� (Grub Street 1998)
C Cole ed Royal Air Force Communiques 1918 (Donovan 1990)
Bruce JM DH9 Profile No 62 (Profile Press 1965)
Flight 6 & 13 April 1956: The de Havilland DH9 JM Bruce
Jane’s Fighting Aircraft of World War I
Owers de Havilland Aircraft of World War I Vol 2
Robertson B The RAF A Pictorial History Hale 1978
Sturtivant & Page DH4/DH9 File (Air Britain 1999)


No. 211 Squadron RAF Blenheim Mk I UQ-R Tatoi, Greece, new-tool Airfix Blenheim I build review finished #5

Finally! I've managed to finish the first of my new-tool Airfix Blenheim Is - although it 'looks' like a nicely detailed replica for a new-tool I have to say that I hate this kit! A terrible build experience, worse than the worst of any short-run non-fitting builds I've ever done. Be warned, nothing fits, apart from the undercarriage! Just about everything else required much fettling and filing and filling! My transparencies were short-shot and Hornby never came back with any replacements either. Fortunately a fellow-Britmodeller from Australia sent me a spare sprue that he had so it was while waiting for that to arrive that I very rashly decided to start a second Airfix Blenheim Mk I which I was a little happier with - but not much! Here's the first one in the markings of UQ-R of No. 211 Squadron seen in Greece in 1941 (note the 'R' was not displayed on the aircraft..)

IWM pictures of the machine modelled, licence-fee-free reproduction via the IWM site

Bristol Blenheim Mark I, L6670 ‘UQ-R’, of No. 211 Squadron RAF preparing to taxy at Menidi/Tatoi, Greece. Note the individual letter 'R' was not displayed..

ROYAL AIR FORCE: OPERATIONS OVER ALBANIA AND IN GREECE, 1940-1941.© IWM (CM 288)

Blenheim Mark IF, L6670 ‘UQ-R’, of No. 211 Squadron RAF, landing at Menidi/Tatoi, Greece, after a raid on Italian positions in Albania.

ROYAL AIR FORCE: OPERATIONS OVER ALBANIA AND IN GREECE, 1940-1941.© IWM (CM 290)

Below the Commanding Officer of No. 211 Squadron RAF, Squadron Leader J R Gordon-Finlayson, and his wireless operator/air gunner, Pilot Officer A C Geary, photographed in a Bristol Blenheim Mark I at Menidi/Tatoi, Greece, after returning from Corfu. On 24 November 1941, Gordon-Finlayson's aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire during a bombing raid on Valona, Albania. Unable to reach Menidi, he force-landed on a beach at Corfu, where he and his crew were toasted and feted before returning to the mainland by fishing boat and rejoining their unit. Gordon-Finalyson is carrying bottles of wine and other gifts given to them by their Greek hosts.

ROYAL AIR FORCE: OPERATIONS OVER ALBANIA AND IN GREECE, 1940-1941.© IWM (CM 292)


Watch the video: Στρατιώτες Β Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου - Κατασκοπευτική Ματιά στη Σειρά (July 2022).


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