Charles Bradshaw writes:
"I knew John when he was a publican of a pub called the Wellington Arms in Bourton on the Water in Gloucestershire. He was a larger than life character known to all as 'Baggy' Sach. He displayed his WW2 medals and memorabilia in one of the rooms at the back of the pub and we had long chats about his war experiences. Sadly, he died in around 1984, and by complete chance I found his medals and log books for sale at a London medal specialist. I purchased them and have been fascinated to find out more about him ever since.
His log books state that he was posted to 214 (B) Sqd in around March 1938, training on Harrows. He converted to Wellingtons in June 1939 and qualified as a 1st pilot on 15th June 1939 (flying Wellington L4346). He was posted to RAF Feltwell on 9th September 1939.
His first combat flight was on 3rd June 1940 ,operations over the Ruhr . He completed (and survived) 31 combat missions . His last mission was on 28th October 1940. I presume he was awarded his DFC for this feat.
He then transferred to 15 Sqd in November 1940 to fly Stirlings., and then to 7 Squadton in December 1940 until June 1941. He undertook 4 more bombing raids in April 1941, before returning to 3 Group Training Flight teaching new pilots how to fly Wellingtons.
In January 1942, he transferred to 1425 Flight, flying Liberators, and VIP passengers all over North Africa and the Middle East - including General's Alexander, Ritchie, Nye and de Gaulle.
In October 1942 he transferred to 511 Sqn, again on Liberators, flying more VIP's around the war theatre in the Middle East, including Winston Churchill, Alanbrooke, Wilson, Ismay, Freyberg VC, and Air Marshall's Baldwin and Drummond, and others.
In November 1943, he transferred to 32 OTU (Officer Training Unit) and thence to 1332 HCU until April 1945, when he was posted to Florida in the United States to train on Skymaster's and C54's. In July 1945, he was sent to the Far East to fly passengers around the region, before returning to the UK in March 1946.
He then joined 24 Sqn, flying York's flying more VIP passengers.
In 1950, he was transferred to Japan and flew B29 Super Fortresses and B17's with the USAAF during the Korean War. He came back to the UK in June 1951, and spent the last 5 years of his service, flying jets - including Devons, Proctors and Meteors.
He remained in the RAF until November 1956 retiring as a Sqd Leader."
On 1st April 1940 John was granted commission for the duration of hostilities as Pilot Officer on probation, Recorded in the London Gazette dated 4 June 1940
John's DFC was recorded in the London Gazette dated 17 January 1941 for service with 214 Squadron.
John's AFC was awarded in January 1943 while with 1425 FLT as recorded on www.rafcommands.com
In the 8th Supplement of the London Gazette dated 29th December 1950 John's promotion from Flt Lt to Sqn/Ldr is recorded.
On all occasions he is listed as Jack Frederick Sach, and not John
Source : Graeme Walsh (Friend of Fg/Off John Lyall)
Date record last updated : 31 August 2018
SALES, R A G
SAC Roy Alan George 'Rags' Sales, 4163484, Ground Crew, Royal Air Force, Nationality : United Kingdom
Born 16 September 1946
Born in Dartford, Kent
Son of Alfred Redvers Sales and Lillian May Sales (nee Cherry)
Roy enlisted in January 1955 and did basic training at RAF Padgate and trade training on armaments at RAF Kirkham.
His first posting was to RAF Marham on the Technical Wing then to RAF Gaydon for a course on the Valiant aircraft. He was then transferred to 214 Squadron serving in Malta (twice), Cyprus and Hada. Roy also did a brief spell at Istress, France.
Whilst in Malta in Autumn 1956 the Suez Crisis erupted and it seemed that there were no armourers in the "bomb dump" who had experience of live bombing up so he was made up to Acting NCO and transferred to Technical Wing where he worked for 72 hous without a break on bombing patterns and fusing what are now known as "dumb" bombs but also introduced radio fuses from nuclear weapons thus turning the bombs into Airburst weapons.
Later he worked on Purple Club and Blue Danube atom bombs plus the Yellow Sun hydrogen bombs.
Imprisoned at POW camp Heydekrug (Silute), Lithuania
Imprisoned at POW camp Lamsdorf (Lambinowice), Germany - until 1943 when it became Stalag 344
Imprisoned at POW camp Sagan (Zagan) & Belaria, Germany
Imprisoned at POW camp Thorn (Torun), Poland OR Oerbke (Fallingbostel), Germany - dates unknown
Source : Chorley and 214 Squadron ORB and "Footprints on the sands of time" by Oliver Clutton-Brock
Date record last updated : 30 September 2020
SCANTLETON, V L
More than 70 years after the campaign supporting the liberation of France, Flight Lieutenant Vern Scantleton of 214 Squadron was awarded France's highest award, the rank of Chevalier in the Legion d'Honneur (Legion of Honour). This award was made by the French Ambassador to Australia Christophe Lecourtier at a ceremony in Brisbane on June 12th 2015. Vern flew 49 sorties during two tours with 214 Squadron, the latter tour being in support of the Normandy Campaign.
Flt/Lt Verner Lesley 'Vern' Scantleton DFC & French Legion of Honour, 409950, Pilot, Royal Australian Air Force, Nationality : Australian
Flt/Lt Vern.L. Scantleton DFC lived in Toowoomba Queensland, Australia. He completed two tours of operation with 214 Squadron bomber command flying Stirling and Flying Fortress aircraft based at Chedbrough and Oulton
"Fortress Ops flown = 46
(* Actually 'operational take-offs'. Does not disregard aborted ops, early returns etc)
Source : John Scantleton (son of Flt/Lt V L Scantleton contact at email@example.com) and Ian Hunt and London Gazette and Australian War Memorial
Date record last updated : 26 March 2021
SCARTH, W P
FS Wally P Scarth, (1591970)
Qualified as Flight Engineer 02/03/1944, 1659HPU. Qualified as Flight Engineer 29/11/1944, 214 Squadron.
FS Scarth served with 578 Squadron through 1944 as Flight Engineer on Halifax III bombers. Here he made numerous bombing runs over Germany before transfering late in the year to 214 Squadron who were then based at Oulton. Operations once again saw him make numerous runs over Germany but this time he was engaged primarily in window operations crewing on B17 G Bombers. His two main pilots here seem to have been F/O Rogers and F/O Nelson. F/Sgt Scarth passed away in 2003.
Crew Halifax III MZ559 L.K.F of 578 squadron. (see note below)
The crew are left to right: Bob Burn ~ Canadian Navigator; Sam Brown ~ Rear Gunner; S/Ldr Bob Davies ~ Pilot: Wally Scarth ~ Flight Engineer; Charlie Hayward ~ mid Upper Gunner; Vernon Corbett ~ Canadian Bomb Armer and Dick Tither (we think) Wireless Operator.
NOTE: Mel Morris, friend of S/Ldr Bob Davies states that the above photo is incorrect. This photo was taken at the HCU at Riccall before they were posted to 578 Sqdn.Burn. LK-F was another Halifax they flew from Burn that was bombed from above by a Lancaster forcing them to land at Old Buckenham on the way back from a raid.
PAGE FROM F/SGT SCARTH's LOG WHILE WITH 214 SQUADRON
INSIDE FRONT COVER OF LOG BOOK
F/Sgt Scarth's log book is intact and in possession of the family. A few entries of the log while Wally was with 578 Squadron are on file with the site, however if anyone requires further lookups of entries from 578, I am certain the family would be happy to oblige.
Source & Research : kindly provided by Stephen Foster (Friend of the family)
FS Al Schaeffer DFC, Rear Gunner, Royal Canadian Air Force, Nationality : Canadian
Fg/Off McLelland visited Fg/Off Scott in hospital not long after the accident (crash of KJ103) and stated in his war dairies he was shocked to see the extent of his injuries, particularly to his face.
Fg/Off Scott was aged 22 when KJ103 crashed
He was the pilot for 30 Fortress flights between April 1944 to May 1945 (actual operational take-offs. Does not disregard aborted ops, early returns etc.)
Flying Officer Scott was mentioned in the Supplement to the London Gazette dated 28 September 1943.
Previous to serving with 214 Squadron, he served with 1657 HCU flying Stirlings and at 1699 T Flt flying Fortresses.
Source : Chorley and Peter Brown (son of Sgt Cecil Brown) and Sqn/Ldr John McLelland (Rtd) (Son of Fg/Off McLelland) and Ian Hunt and London Gazette and RAF crash report fro KJ103
Date record last updated : 14 February 2020
SCOTT, P D
From Left to Right Alan Brown, Aubrey Cattle, Ken Bolton, Bill Crofts, Len Poole, Peter Doig Scott
Scott, Cattle and Crofts loading rear gun
Wg/Cdr Peter Doig 'Scotty' Scott MiD, 104442, Rear Gunner, Royal Air Force, Nationality : United Kingdom
Son of John and Elizabeth Scott. Husband of Annie (Aitken)
Peter was enlisted as Aircraftsman Second Class on 30 June 1939. As the first step in his assessment and training process Peter was sent to RAF Prestwick in September 1939. His ambition was to be a pilot but he was refused pilot training on the grounds that he was too old at 29. So he then started training to be a wireless operator and an air gunner at RAF Evanton from January 1940.
Peter then proceeded to RAF Bassingbourn, No 11 OTU, to continue training on aerial photography and wireless operations. He qualified here as a wireless operator.
He then went to RAF Jurby in April 1940. He qualified as an Air Gunner after this training.
In May 1940 Peter joined 214 Squadron at RAF Stradishall. He began operational flights from 5 August 1940.
After Stradishall Peter then moved to RAF Moreton-in-the-Marsh, 21 OTU in July 1941. In August he was commissioned as an officer in the RAF.
His next move was to Central Gunnery School at Castle Kennedy in Galloway, Scotland to attend a Gunnery Leader's course.
Next, he went to RAF Edgehill, which was a satellite airfield to RAF Moreton-in-the-Marsh.
His last flying operation with 214 Squadron was in June 1942 at Edgehill. He spent the next year ar Edgehill on non-flying instructional duties.
In October 1943 Peter joined the operational 150 Squadron as part of the British North Africa Force.
Peter was released from service in August 1946, and returned to Glasgow to return to his job at the Kraft Cheese Company. After a short period he left them and in April 1947 he rejoined the RAF, holding various roles.
Peter was later promoted to Wing Commander and was involved in developing NATO.
He accepted the offer of an RAF 'Golden Handshake' in June 1958 and retired to Devon with his wife and 2 daughters.
Wing Commander Peter Doig Scott died on 13 March 1984 in Teignmouth Devon aged 73.
His daughter, Sheila Scott Byrne, has written an excellent book entitled "RAF World War Two service of Peter Doig Scott".
Peter was awarded the following medals :
The Italy Star;
Air Crew Europe Star;
The Defence medal;
The War medal;
Air Efficiency Award Medal
Source : Sheila Scott Byrne (daughter of Wg/Cdr Peter Doig Scott) and Guy Hudson
Date record last updated : 26 July 2015
FS Stan Scott, Bomb Aimer, Royal Air Force, Nationality : United Kingdom
Served with 214 Squadron pre World War 2.(about 1935) until the start of WW2, flying Wellingtons
He was Commanding Officer at Oakington 1942
He was Commanding Officer at Hemswell, dates unknownBoyd was at 576 sqn at Fiskerton Lincolnshire June 1944 to February 1945 as Wing Commander.
He eventually rose to the rank of Group Captain.
It is believed that he lived in the Huntington/ Peterbourgh area and died in 1999, but this has not been confirmed.
Source : David Briggs & Peter Walker (214 Squadron Association Secretary)
Date record last updated : 19 January 2009
Sgt Solomon Seward, 1356712, Air Gnr., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Nationality : United Kingdom. KIA 24 June 1943
He was a Tailgunner originally from Labradour (at that time, not a part of Canada) and was shot down over the North Sea (probably by an Me110 night fighter) during operations on the 24th of June 1943. None of the crew survived but his body was recovered on the coast of Holland. His remains are interred in the South East corner of the Bergen General Cemetery. He had married a local girl Kathleen Gillan, whom he met during gunnery school at 10 BGAS at Heathhall, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.
Source : Steve Abbott grandson of Solomon Seward, Ian Hunt and CWGC
SEWELL, H A W
Sgt Horace Arthur William Sewell, 1330947, Rear Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Nationality : United Kingdom, KIA 28 June 1942, Aged 20
Peter Waite writes :
My father flew in 214 Squadron as an "Observer" Navigator and Bomb Aimer, from January 1941 until June 1942 mainly in T2709 D with Sq/Ldr Sharp as pilot and captain but later in R1613G and N2802 A with P/O Crampton.
ITW Scarborough 1941; Initial training
Montgomery Alabama USA 1941(Harvards) Graduated Napier Field 1942.
AFU Rissington: OTU Cottesmore and 1657 Con Unit Stradishall.
Plt/Off Geoff Shattock Pilot and crew served with 214 from 28 February 1943 to 29 July 1943. They were based at Chedburgh, Suffolk flying Stirlings.
Following tour instructed on Wellingtons 1944. and Dakotas at Castle Donnington until end of war.
Geoffrey died on 19 December 2002 aged 81, the same day as one of his crew mates, Sgt Frederick Trinder.
See Articles ("N" for nuts section) for a story written by Flt/Lt Wallace about one of the crews Ops over Germany when their Stirling was shot up by another Stirling injuring the pilot Geoff Shattock.
Source : Sarah Bond (daughter of Geoff Shattock) and Dave Wallace (son of Flt/Lt A Wallace)
Date record last updated : 30 April 2011
Sydney Shaw, Mid Upper Gunner
Sydney Shaw was mid-upper gunner on Fortresses employed in the radio countermeasures role. He originally wanted to go for pilot when joining up, but the temptation to get at the enemy and get involved as soon as possible, led him to change his mind and go for air gunner, which of course was a much quicker training program than pilot! I think in later life he regretted this, and the missed opportunity for a career as a peace time commercial arline pilot!
The above photograph shows him in an 'action' pose, at the waist gunners position. Apparently some offical squadron photographs were taken whilst he was on leave, and subsequently, his mates arranged for these to be taken upon his return!
Unfortunately, we don't know the serial number of his 'kite', nor any details of his crew mates, but will endeavour to find out.
He died at home in Portsmouth about 20 years ago.
The above photograph shows bomber and crew, with Sydney sat on his turret!
Son of Joseph Shorttle and Liza Featherstone; husband of Joan Smith, of Middlesbrough, Yorkshire.
London Gazette 14 September 1943 DFM awarded while with 199 Squadron.
London Gazette 26 October 1943 Appointed Flight Sergeant from 4 September 1943.
London Gazette 24 March 1944 Promotion to Flying Officer.
He was the pilot for 12 Fortress flights between April 1944 to May 1945 (actual operational take-offs. Does not disregard aborted ops, early returns etc.)
After the crash of HB805 on 24 February 1945 the body of the pilot, FO Shorttle, was found and was buried on 7 May 1945 at No1 cemetery Ittenbach Germany, before being re-interred at Rheinberg war cemetery.
Ernst-Jan Jonkers (Researcher) has provided the following information:
Flying Officer Shorttle learned to fly in the USA.
Upon arrival at Halifax on 16 August 1941 he went by train to the No. 1 Manning Depot in Toronto.
Then on 29 August 1941, he crossed the border from Windsor, Ontario to Detroit, Michigan.
His final destination was Albany, Georgia.
Born in July 1917 at Stockton, Co. Durham, England
He married Joan Smith at Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire in July 1938.
Author John Reid wrtes:
"I have traced details of F/O Shorttle among in the 199 Squadron records and can confirm that Leslie Gordon Fowler was his Navigator when they were flying Wellingtons as early as January 1943. "
Source : CWGC and Beryl Hutchinson (daughter of Plt/Off R W Towell) and Ernst-Jan Jonkers (researcher) and Ancestry.co. uk and John Reid (author) and Ian Hunt
Date record last updated : 14 February 2020
SHOTTER, E G W
Sgt Eric George Walter Shotter, 930243, Wireless Operator / Air Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Nationality : United Kingdom, KIA 1 April 1942, Aged 21
Son of John and Violet Ann Ellen Simpson, of Manly, New South Wales. Australia.
Enlisted in Sydney.
Frank Edge writes:
"Pilot Officer KJ Simpson stayed in the plane and died when the plane crashed. A good account of what happened was published in Canadian papers The Sunday Star Metro and The Toronto Star on 7 11 1999. His body was never recovered and he has no known grave and the family of George Daulby say this fact haunted him for the rest of his life. There is a good chance his body was pulled from the wreckage of the plane and buried but the crash site was in the Soviet sector after the war and not accessible."
Source : John Cripps and CWGC and Geoff Swallow (Australian Researcher) and Ian Hunt and Chorley and National Archives of Australia and Frank Edge (researcher) and Matthew Bowyer (great nephew)and Australian War Memorial
Date record last updated : 26 March 2021
SIMPSON, R G V
Sgt Raymond George Victor 'Ray' Simpson, 1805752, Mid Upper Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Nationality : British, KIA 24 May 1944, Aged 20
Son of John Ewen and Edith Mary Simpson, of King's Lynn, Norfolk. Sp. Memorial `D'.
Raymond was born in 1923.
6 months after the crash of SR384 on 24 May 1944 two bodies were eventually recovered from the sea and buried in Yerseke. One was Allan Hockley and the other was 20 year old Raymond George Victor Simpson of King's Lynn, Norfolk. Of note it was actually Raymond buried in grave 172 and Allan in grave 171. It is said that the remainder of the crew parachuted into a flooded area of Holland being picked up by Gestapo shortly after swimming to dry land.
Source : Ryan Dudley (nephew of Allan Hockley) and CWGC and Roz Glenn (daughter-in-law of FS Thomas Glenn) and John Simpson (nephew of Ramond Simpson) and Stevin Oudshoorn
2nd son of Richard Skeels and Eliza (Brown) of New Hey near Rochdale. Husband of Beatrice Skeels, of Bacup, Lancashire
Private First Class William Skeels' parents lived at 9 Sheaf Street New Hey, near Rochdale. His maternal grandfather was Robert Brown of New Hey.
Private Skeels was educated at New Hey British Day School and was then employed as a Cotton Spinner at Garfield Spinning Co Ltd, Milne Row, New Hey. This was built in 1884, closed in 1963 and demolished in 1968.
He married Beatrice Harrison (daughter of William Harrison of Bacup) who lived at 11a Todmorden Road, Bacup on 15 August 1914 at Mount Zion, Edgeside New Church, Rawtenstall, Haslingden. Their marital home was at 12 Mill Street, Haugh, New Hey, near Rochdale. They had 2 daughters, Beatrice, born 14 December 1914 and Florrie, born 4 December 1916. Florrie is listed with the surname Harrison.
Private Skeels joined the Royal Naval Air Service on 17 August 1917 as an Aircraftsman Second Class. Service number F35924.
His description when he joined up is as follows:
Height 5 feet 3 and a half inches
Chest 34 and a half inches
Marjorie Knight (grandaughter) writes "It states that current service commenced 17 August 1917, but I believe that he had joined up before 4 December 1916 as that is the date that his second child was born and it was a great sadness to my aunt that her father never held or saw her".
Private Skeels served at HMS President 11 from 17 August 1917 to 6 September 1917. This was an accounting base for the RNAS, based at Chatham, London and Shrewsbury from 1916 to 1947.
He then served with the Expeditionary Force in France from 6 September 1917.
From 1 February 1918 to 31 March 1918 he served at HMS Daedalus, Lee on Solent, where he was promoted to Aircraftsman First Class on 17 February 1918.
The RNAS became part of the Royal Air Force when it started on 1 April 1918.
He was part of No 9 Squadron from 1 April 1918 to 27 April 1918, when he was then at No. 4 ABD. He joined 214 Squadron on 6 June 1918. Service number 235924.
Privtet Skeels died at No 32 Stationary Hospital France on 3 December 1918, from influenza, which he contracted while in service.
He was posthumously awarded the British War Medal on 23 February 1922 and the Victory Medal on 3 May 1922.
Source : Marjorie Knight (grandaughter) and CWGC and War Record for William Skeels and UK, DeRuvigny's Roll of Honour 1914-1924
Date record last updated : 4 March 2012
SKELTON, A M
Flt/Lt Allan Michael Skelton, 060148S, Pilot, Royal Air Force, Nationality : British
Born 20 April 1948
Born in Upton, Pontefract, Yorkshire
Son of Malcolm and Jessie Skelton
He flew on Victor K1 / K1A aircraft.
Source : A M Skelton
Date record last updated : 17 November 2008
SKINGSLEY, A G
Air/Chf/Mshl Sir Anthony Gerald Skingsley GBE KCB, Royal Air Force
Born 19 October 1933
Born in Rawalpindi in India
Commanded 214 Squadron from 12 June 1972 to 5 July 1974
Commanding Officer of 214 Squadron at RAF Marham 22 May 1974 when he presented a plaque to the Air Gunners Association, which is now displayed at the Yorkshire Air Museum in the Air Gunnery Hut. This plaque is shown below :
Christopher Lee used to work for Sir Anthony Skingsley and was given a mounted nose cone of a Victor Tanker by Lady Skingsley. This had been presented to Sir Anthony when he commanded 214 Squadron. This is being donated to the Aviation Heritage Museum at RAF Marham. These are pictures of the object :
Source : John Brown and Christopher Steel (worked for Air/Chf/Mshl Sir Anthony Skingsley)
Date record last updated : 28 June 2019
SKONE, A R C
Fg/Off Alan Raymond Collier Skone, 68186, Pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Nationality : British, KIA 27 August 1942, Aged 22
Son of Sidney Walter & Edith Skone of Ewell, Surrey. Brother of Gerald Skone.
The young Alan transferred from this "private" school in Kent to The County School, Sutton in Surrey which was founded in 1899. The school admission form recorded the "Profession or Occupation of Father" as "Boot Manufacturer". In 1931 their house on The Green, Ewell, Surrey was called "Amroth" - after the seaside resort in South Pembrokeshire !
Academically, Alan's most successful term at Sutton was Summer Term 1933 when he was placed 5th in his Form. His 2nd position in Mathematics didn't entirely satisfy the subject teacher who recorded "Good - but could do ever better" ! During Alan's time at Sutton the House Master recorded that, as well as being Form Representative on a couple of occasions, he had some success in both football and athletics. In January 1934, after seven terms at Sutton, Alan was admitted to Epsom College.
During his time at Epsom, Alan was a member of the Officers Training Corps. The successor to the OTC is the Combined Cadet Force and nowadays at Epsom College "CCF compulsory for 2 years at age 14. Strong emphasis on leadership training in CCF."
If the fifteen year old Alan was aware of the war clouds gathering over Europe he gave no indication of it in his Easter Holiday Diary for 1936:
......the sun peeped through and the clouds began to drift northwards.....8.00 am I got up..... Breakfast.....to Ewell for a haircut.......took my racket Epsom to have a string mended......roller the lawn......Met Michael Smith while working in front....... Accompanied mother down to Ewell village with Happy.......left mother to catch a bus to Morden.......1.10 pm lunch was served for Gerald and I.......rested in the sun bathed
Loggia......we all went for a walk over the Downs coming back via the Drift Bridge..... Tea.....the Easter Holiday was discussed........7.00 pm Dinner was served.....listened to "The Ringer", an Edgar Wallace novel, on the radio.....9.45 pm I went to bed.
At the end of the Summer Term 1936 Alan left Epsom College to begin at the Cordwainers College which, in those days, was in St John's Lane, Finsbury. Nowadays, Cordwainers College is in Mare Street, London and is described as a "word centre for education, training, research and consultancy."
In the year leading up to the outbreak of Word War 2 on 3 September 1939, Alan worked as an "Assistant Cutter & Traveller" for his father's firm. Within a year of the outbreak he was to begin a new "career" - in the RAF.
He reported to No 2 Reception Centre, Cardington on 25 July 1940. first service number 1182859.
After a month of basic training at Cardington he was posted to No 1 Reception Wing in Torquay
Accepted as suitable for Pilot Training and on 14 September he joined No 5 ITW (Initial Training Wing) in Hastings. (during the time he was there No 5 ITW was re-located to Torquay)
By the end of 1940 he was an LAC (Leading Aircraftman) with a Grade A proficiency and very good character references. He had been found suitable for training as a pilot being classed as a U/T (Under Training) Pilot on 18 November.
On 11 December he was posted to No 51 Group Pool based at Yeadon, now the Leeds/Bradford Airport, where he was introduced to the DH82a, the Tiger Moth, to begin his basic pilot flying training.
On 3 March 1941, he was posted to Cranwell, Lincolnshire - the Headquarters of No 21 Group, Training Command known as the Royal Air Force College Flying Training School - where his pilot training continued on Airspeed Oxford twin-engine aircraft.
On 28 May 1941 Alan qualified as a fully trained pilot, was promoted to Sergeant and then "discharged from the RAF ! He was then re-engaged as a Probationary Pilot Officer in the RAF VR (Volunteer Reserve) with the new service number 68186
Instructor for Elementary Flying for "Learner" pilots. He was posted to the No 2 Central Flying School, also based at Cranwell, carrying out his duties with pupils in the Oxford aircraft.
Joined No 2 SFTS (Service Flying Training School) at Brize Norton, Oxfordshire. Here he continued with his duties as a flying instructor but this time with Blenheims.
Admitted to the SSQ (Station Sick Quarters) and transferred to the RAF Hospital at Oxford.
On 7 January 1942, posted to No 11 OTU (Operational Training Unit) which was based at Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire.
On June 1942 Alan joined Operational Squadron No 214.
Gp/Capt John Arthur Guinness Slessor CVO DL, Flight Commander
Son of Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir John Cotesworth Slessor, GCB (3 June 1897-12 Jul 1979) and the former Hermione Grace Guinness (d 1970), husband of Mrs Hazel Garstin
Died on 11th March 2008 in Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. A Service of Thanksgiving was held in the chapel of Cheltenham College on Friday 11th April .
As a Sqn Ldr, John was a Flt Cdr during his time on No 214 (FMS) Sqn in 1958-59.
Source : AVM Eric Macey OBE and Michael Rhodes on groups.google.com/group/Peerage-News
Date record last updated : 5 May 2008
SMEETH, E F
Flt/Lt Edwin Frederick 'Eddy' Smeeth, Captain, Royal Air Force, Nationality : British
On 3rd March 2014 John Brown and Stewart Waring represented the Squadron Association at the funeral of Eddy Smeeth at the Church of St Michael and All Angels at Alberbury, Shropshire. The service was very well attended and an excellent account of Eddy's life was given by the Reverend Valerie Joan Tait.
Eddy's service went back to the Second World War when he flew Thunderbolts in the Far East, including suffering a forced landing in one on his birthday! He was a most professional aviator, with a dry and subtle sense of humour. He set an excellent example to the young co-pilots who flew with him on No 214 Squadron, including both John and Stewart, who served in this capacity at different times.
From Marham, Eddy was posted as Flight Commander to No 8 Air Experience Flight, where he remained until his retirement from the Royal Air Force in 1983. He then joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (Training Branch) and continued to fly with the Air Experience Flight until 1988.
Source : John Brown and Stewart Waring and Nightjar Newsletter August 2014
Date record last updated : 9 August 2019
SMILES, H J D
Sgt Humphrey John Drummond Smiles DFM, 103535, Pilot
Sergeant Smiles was on 19 Course at No 10 FTS Tern Hill with Jack Wetherly and Harold Paterson. Like them, he flew a tour with 214 Squadron from late 1940 until mid 1941, showing himself to be an especially determined captain
After 29 operations, he was awarded the DFM and his citation (London Gazette 6 June 1941) speaks of two incidents when he dived his Wellington to 1400 and 1000 feet to attack heavily defended targets.
He had three crashes in 1941. The first was on 29 January 1941 when his Wellington crashed on take-off from Stradishall with a full bomb load and Padre Harrison, the Squadron Chaplain, won the George Medal after rescuing the wounded.
Smiles was posted to 21 OTU Moreton-in-Marsh, surviving two more crashes.
London Gazette Issue 35273 published on 12 September 1941 = Sgt
London Gazette Issue 35709 published on 18 September 1942 =PO to Flg Off
London Gazette Issue 38194 published on 30 January 1948 = Flg Off to Flt Lt
Source : Christopher Jary (author) and London Gazette and Nightjar Newsletter
Pilot Officer Smith was OK after his aircraft was badly shot about by night fighters and crash landed at Coltishall and written off. Two other crew members (names unknown) were wounded during the fighter engagements.
Source : Nightjar Newsletter Autumn 2004
Date record last updated : 26 May 2009
FS 'Smithy' Smith, Mid Upper Gunner, Royal Canadian Air Force, Nationality : Canadian
Michael Smith writes
"My father died in 1984. He left me a photo of the crew and their names. I knew that he had bailed out in an emergency and I have his gold Caterpillar Club badge. Your website has added a lot to the story for me."
Source : Ian Hunt and Nightjar Newsletter Spring 2004 and Joyce Birch (cousin of WG Cooper) and Jeremy Kearns (son of Robert Kearns) and Michael Smith (son of FS Frederick Edmonson Smith)
London Gazette Citation : Pilot Officer John Gordon SMITH (Can/J.6960),. Royal Canadian Air Force, No. 214 Squadron. One night in June, 1942, Pilot Officer Smith, was captain of an aircraft detailed to attack a target in the Ruhr. Whilst flying over enemy territory, his aircraft was attacked by an enemy fighter whilst at a height of 17,000 feet. The fighter made repeated attacks in quick succession but was driven off by fierce and accurate fire. The fighter is believed to have been destroyed. Another enemy aircraft then took up the attack and opened fire from close range. Pilot Officer Smith's aircraft sustained severe damage. The front gunner and flight engineer were badly injured and the port outer engine caught fire.' The 'flames from the engine assumed dangerous proportions but, after the propeller fell off, the fire subsided considerably. Despite the damage sustained, Pilot Officer Smith displayed excellent airmanship and flew the aircraft back to this country where he made a successful forced landing. This officer's skill, coolness and gallantry in the face of trying circumstances were of a high order. He has participated in several sorties and has always shown great determination to press home his attacks against the enemy.
Source : London Gazette and Chorley and "Footprints on the sands of time" by Oliver Clutton-Brock
Date record last updated : 20 November 2020
SMITH, J L
Sgt John Leslie Smith, 748177, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Nationality : United Kingdom, KIA 9 May 1941, Aged 23
Sqn/Ldr A H Smythe known as Pug or Sniffer became was a superb flight commander on his first tour with 214, and was later W/Cdr on his second tour with 214 Squadron when on Stirlings at Stradishall and Chedburgh. He had his own horse and used to ride it around the dispersal areas. His family was part of the Lyons confectionary business. He was an ex Imperial Airways pilot, lived on a houseboat somewhere in Portugal and he died in Spain a few years back.
Left to right
Sqn/Ldr Smythe - pilot, Sidney Meadowcroft, Keith Falconer, Tim Yates - W/Op, Peter Scott - R/G, F/O O'Connor
Photo Source : Peter D Scott
Photo believed to be taken in Dec or early Jan 1941, likely BU-P Stirling N2800 in background
Sidney and Keith were killed in action, Tim died in March of 2002 at age 83 and O'Connor was killed while on leave in London after stepping off a bus (source - Ted Turner)
As an example of his determination he was on a raid 21 December 1940 to Venice in R3208 with among others Peter Scott as front gunner and P/O paterson as 2nd W/Op and they ran out of oxygen crossing the Alps so rather than return to base they turned back across the Alps and bombed Germany instead. (from the log of Peter Scott).
Source : Sheila Scott Byrne (daughter of Wg/Cdr Peter Doig Scott)
Is also listed on returning operational aircrew on 31 August 1944
Named on a photograph of 214 Squadron members at Brackla, January 1945 - see Album 4
Brackla near Nairn in Invernesshire. It was the hutted camp of ACAC, Air Crew Allocation Centre, a clearing house for tour expired aircrew. In spite of heavy losses, far more had survived than could be used for further flying duties and it was quite a problem finding suitable niches for all.
Source : Gerhard Heilig and David Wright (son of Flt/Lt George Wright) and George Mackie
Date record last updated : 28 July 2008
SOWERBY, L T
Sgt Leslie Thomas Sowerby, 637314, Flight Engineer, Royal Air Force, Nationality : United Kingdom, KIA 25 July 1943, Aged 23
FS Sparks was one of several crew from Fortress BU-B to bail out and be taken prisoner of war. (captured 8 July 1944 in Antwerp).
After bailing out FS Sparks was given shelter by a Dutch resistance group. Unfortunately is had unknowingly been infultrated by the Germans. Put in a van to be transported to a safe house, FS Sparks found on reaching its destination that instead of evading capture, he was surrounded by a dozen German soldiers, all pointing their rifles at him.
On repatriation in 1945 he continued his RAF career and was promoted to FS. He was later reported as saying that pilot John Cassan and co-pilot Syd Bryant were wrestling with the controls of the aircraft attempting to make a forced landing at the time he bailed out, giving rise to the theory that there may have been badly wounded on board.
In June 1945, survivor FS Tom Sparks sent a letter to John's mother which confirms that John stayed at the controls of the aircraft because, quote "One of the boys up front was badly injured" (likely Navigator FS George Orr).
This diary records FS Harry Whatton's time as a Prisoner of War from June 1944 until his liberation in May 1945. It also includes his time during the 'TheLong March' of January to February 1945. Harry clearly had a fixation for liberation and dwells much on the shortage of food. Perhaps an honest reflection of the monotony of PoW camp life.
Tom and Harry were together throughtout their time in Holland and in Stalag Luft 7 and later at Stalag 3A.
Pete Rayer (Archivist and webmaster, for the 306th Craft Apprentice entry at RAF Cosford - 1966/67) (website : http://www.306entry.co.uk/) writes :
Tom Sparks was our Discipline Sgt., along with his side kick Cpl Sam Worrell. Please see the photo below taken in 1966.
I believe he was reduced from Flt Sgt to Sgt, when he remustered to a ground trade. I understand that this was common practice.
One of our entry members has been in touch with Tom's son, who pointed him in the direction of your excellent webpages.
It is amazing what you find out about a man, some 50 years after you knew him.
His job required him to be very hard on us, but he was also a very fair man to us.
In addition to your information, we find that Tom was part of the Stalag Marches, walking 214 miles in freezing temperatures, from Germany into Poland.
Source : John Cripps (nephew of Sgt Sydney Bryant) and Barbara Speakman (daughter of Sgt Tom Sparks) and Keith Stone (nephew of Harry Whatton) and "Footprints on the sands of time" by Oliver Clutton-Brock and Pete Rayer (Archivist and webmaster, for the 306th Craft Apprentice entry at RAF Cosford - 1966/67)
While with 1699 CU in September 1944 Marc is recorded as doing numerous training ops. Murray Peden was involved with some of these training operations.
He joined 214 Sqn on 1 September 1944 and was flying on ops from 28 September 1944 to 14 April 1945. Initially in the Squadron's O.R.B. (Operations Record Book - the official Squadron 'log' of ops and other events) he is listed as 'F/O (Flying Officer) M C J Stainier' (5 Ops between 28 September 1944 and 7 October 1944), but thereafter he is listed as 'Flying Officer M C J Mark' (33 more ops between 9 October 1944 and 13 April 1945).
He used the alias name of Marc C J Mark in case of capture. Prior to joining 214 Squadron his airfield in Belgium had been overrun by the Germans early in the war and he had been captured and made POW. He escaped from the Miranda de Robo concentration camp in Spain and made his way to the UK and joined the RAF, who felt that the name change should be made while on flying operations so as not to be easily identified in the event he fell into German hands again.
The other ops were a combination of RCM jamming ones accompanying Bomber Command raids and "Window patrols", dropping radar-confusing "window" (nowadays "chaff") strips of reflective-coated paper.
Fg/Off Mark is recorded as a regular crew member with Flt/Lt Wyver and Fg/Off Keith McCall.
After the war he worked for Sabena Airlines.
He died in 1959.
Source : Lt/Col Jean-Marie Stainier (son of Marc Stainier) and Ian Hunt and Angus Cameron and John McCall (son of Keith McCall)
Date record last updated : 14 July 2014
Sgt John Stammers, Rear Gunner, 1323246, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Nationality : United Kingdom. KIA 29 November 1942 aged 18
WO Stanley was one of the injured members of the crew on 21 June 1944 when SR381 BU-F crash landed at Woodbridge emergency aerodrome, crashing into a Lacaster that was fully loaded with bombs after being shot up twice in Germany . The other was Special Wireless Operator Hembrow.
WO Stanley had received several German cannon splinters into his skull. He was first taken to Ipswich hospital and then on to the big RAF hospital at Ely where they operated to remove the splinters. After he regained his strength he was transferred from Ely to the hospital at Littleport and then given leave. He was not able to fly with his crew again unitil 28 July 1944. During his leave he got married.
WO Stanley was awarded his DFM immediately after this incident.
WO Stanley died on 16 December 2003. His grave is down near the riverside, right hand side, below some steps.
Source : Michael Phillips (son of Jack Phillips) and Nightjar Newsletter Spring 2003 and Return of operational Aircrew at 16:00hrs on 31 August 1944 and Fred Beare and Murray Peden
Date record last updated : 30 December 2011
STANNARD, F D
Sgt Francis Donald Stannard, 903139, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Nationality : United Kingdom, KIA 14 May 1943, Aged 24
WO Steele is recorded as baling out from his aircraft when it hit a barrage balloon cable on 9 December 1940 while flying between R.A.F Stradishall and 70 Sqdn based in the Middle East.
He was taken POW.
During the Long Marches of 1945 he was one of 60 prisoners killed in "friendly fire" by RAF Typhoons at Gresse in Germany on 19 April 1945, being mistaken for a column of withdrawing Germans.
Andy Buckley is in possession of WO Steele's Caterpillar badge. The Caterpillar Club is an informal association of people who have successfully used a parachute to bail out of a disabled aircraft. After authentication by the parachute maker, applicants receive a membership certificate and a distinctive lapel pin.
Source : CWGC and Andy Buckley and "Footprints on the sands of time" by Oliver Clutton-Brock and Air Force POW website
John Stelling Special Operator, Special Duties, flew with 214 Squadron from 1 May 1944 until 6 December 1944. Initially he did his training on a Dominie starting on the 28 January 1944 with a number of pilots whose names are noted in his flight log. He then moved on to Proctors completing his training 11 March 1944 being transferred to Flying Fortresses (B17's) commencing his tour 19 March 1944. John then flew with 214 Squadron from that date from Oulton completing his tour of 35 sorties on 6 December 1944.
It is believed John subsequently moved on to air traffic control towards the end of the WW II . John married Anne Pickering (WRAF) commencing work for Vauxhall (now a subsidiary of General Motors) in Luton, Bedfordshire living in the area initially in Luton then moving to Barton-Le-Clay in 1952/53. John and Anne had five children, Susan, Michael and Judi (twins), Anabel and Jeremy respectively.
The family moved to Chester in 1962 when John took up a new post at Vauxhall in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Unfortunately John died of cancer in March 1964.
No information is known about the above photo of FS Stelling's (See Photo album 4 for an enlargement)
Adrian & Judi Houlbrook are entrusted with FS Stelling's Flight Log book.
Source : Adrian Houlbrook and Judi (SteIling) Houlbrook (daughter of John Stelling)
Date record last updated : 26 May 2009
STEMP, J F G
John Frederick George 'Jack' Stemp, Navigator, Royal Air Force, Nationality : United Kingdom
Born 13 January 1923
Born in Leatherhead, Surrey, UK
Son of Felix and Clara Stemp (nee Jewell)
John Stemp died on 26 January 2011, aged 88.
Source : Pauline Barthell (daughter)
Date record last updated : 10 July 2011
STEPHENS, N T
Sqn/Ldr Martin Tyringham Stephens DFC, 75730, Air Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Nationality : United Kingdom, KIA 13 February 1942, Aged 40
Son of William and Ellen Stephens, of Three Cocks, Brecknockshire.
Sgt/Pilot Vincent L Stephens, 1119436. Arrived at Stradishall on 26 February 1942.
With undoubtedly a lot of good natured practical jokes and wisecracks on 01 April 1942 April Fools day, Wellington IC Z8842 lifted off the runway at Stradishall on what was to be Sgt Stephens third and last operational flight.
Sgt Stephens' body was recovered from the North Sea.
Jane has the letters Vincent wrote while in the Air Force and the correspondence concerning his death and burial in Holland.
Source : Jane Brookes (niece of Sgt. Vincent Stephens) and Chorley and CWGC
I signed up for my Service in Glasgow 13 March 1939. I had to travel from Edinburgh, my home town, to Glasgow then to London to start my career as a regular R.A.F. person. I wanted to go in as a mechanic but they suggested I could be a wireless operator, they would teach me. At that point I did not have to blow up the mercury (Medical Test) so I agreed and they made me a recruit for a Wireless Operator. I signed on for six years regular and six years reserve and did my training in Cardington, Bedforshire, then on to Wireless School for my radio training. When war broke out, I went to Porthcawl South Wales for my gunnery training.
After completing operational training, Hargest, Evans and I were posted to a squadron based in Newmarket - the horse racing track. However the day before we arrived the squadron had lost six of the eight planes they had (shot down). All six crews had perished. Now the morale of those who did come back was very low. All they talked about was the ones they knew that were now gone. Hargest, Evans and myself saw how affected they were because they talked about playing soccer with this person, or how they went to the local with that person. It was a sad sight.
Since now there were no aircraft, we, Hargest, Evans and myself were then posted on to 214 Sqdn at Stradishall and operations. Here we decided we would not get close to anybody except our own crew, and that was what we did. Just stuck together. We went everywhere together.
The book "Portrait of a Bomber Pilot by Christopher Jary" covers the 214 Squadron from pages 32 to 52 and has photos of our crew, the photograph on page 39 was our original crew. All told, we flew 30 missions together on Wellington "G" George. (This is likely Wellington Serial 1621 as noted from Venner log book entry)
Later on in my service I was flying with trainee pilots and doing menial operational stuff. If the pilots got lost while flying I would get on the radio and get a navigational fix so that we could chart our way back to base. That was the kind of assignments I had after my 50th bombing raid. I finally got sick of the trainee stuff and I applied to take the pilots training course. I actually flew solo in Scone in Perth, Scotland. That was at the end of the seven years with the RAF.
Between operations we usually went to Cambridge to have a couple of 'Beers' and go dancing, we could do this because Evans had a car, so Hargest and I shared the cost and we always enjoyed ourselves. Now that used to be when the moon was bright, since we only flew every third night on Operations during this time. When there was no moon, we went on operations every second night so that cut down on our entertainment.
Those nights we would walk to the local in Stradishall to have a few beers and a 'singsong'. It was a small house with the front room being the bar and we did have music there. Another thing we used to do was have a cup of tea and a 'Wad', at this farm house - just a small place very close to our dispersal area where our aircraft "G" 'George' was. This beautiful old lady and her son would make a pot of tea and we would bring some cakes, so at break time we would enjoy our 'break' just like "home with Mam!" I wasn't involved with any sports, but I did play the trumpet in the station jazz band. I was more into dancing, Glen Miller and Harry James.
Outside of our own crew, the feeling of the crews was that you didn't want to get close to any other crew because at any time a message could come through that one of our aircraft failed to return. If you didn't get close to anyone else then you didn't have to worry it might be someone you were associated with. There is only one I spent any time with, that was Bill Crofts. The reason I remember him was he had a gramophone and a lot of Glen Miller's records which he used to play in his room and we were invited to listen to them, this we did when we had time.
Ted Hargest passed away many years ago.
Evans has gotten lost and we cannot find him.
The only one I know who is still around besides myself, is " W/C Beck" the original First Pilot. I visited Hargest's home, Blue Boar Inn, Brecon, Wales and Evan's home, Mertha Tidville, Wales and I write to Hargest's daughter in Australia. (NOTE: George may not have known but W/C John Beck predeceased him some six months earlier in January)
On 12 September, forty Wellingtons were sent to attack dock and railway targets in Germany and Brussels. Again flying as second pilot with Beck, Jack went to bomb the marshaling yards at Osnabruck. They successfully found their target - perhaps by homing in on its transmitter. Staying well above the German barrage balloons at 3,500 feet, they were unable to avoid its accurate anti-aircraft defenses. 'G-George' was hit in three places. Fortunately no one was wounded and no serious damage done. . . . They landed safely back at Stradishall after a memorable five and a half hour second trip. Part of 'G-George's' fabric, holed by the ack-ack, was preserved as a memento of their brush with the German anti-aircraft battery which occurred in the early hours of Friday the 13th.!
A piece of the fabric saved from BU-G that was holed by ack ack on Friday the 13th, September. George was the artist who embellished it with the Nazi Cross.
Flight jacket on and ready to go! George patiently waiting reads a book while wondering where in the blazes the rest of the crew has got to. 2001 (Book is "Portrait of a Bomber Pilot" by Author Christopher Jary)
George died at 3am on 10 June 2003.
Source : Christopher Jary (author of "Portrait of a bomber pilot")
Son of Harley Charles Stickell and Daisy Grace Lawrence. Brother of Susan, Arthur, Rose and Helen
J H Stickell was a true American hero He flew with 214,then was transferred on 25 August 1942 to the Pathfinder 7 Squadron up until 1943. Then returned to fly for the USA. He was injured on an operation to bomb a fuel depot on the Marshall Islands and was hit by anti aircraft fire. He still managed to go back round and successfully drop his bomb load. Then badly injured, he handed over control to his co pilot and instructed him to go to another airfield for a safer landing, which they did. All crew landed safely. John H Stickell died six days later of his injuries and was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.
Source : David Head (son of FS Harry Head) and Margaret Head (wife of FS Harry Head) and Adam Morris (Nephew of Sqn/Ldr Horace Gordon Bennett) and 214 Squadron ORB and Findagrave and Wikipedia
Date record last updated : 7 June 2019
STOCKER, R A
Bob Stocker with his wife Shirley
SAC Robert Alan 'Specs' or 'Askey' Stocker, R4272335, Electrical Mechanic (Air), Royal Air Force, Nationality : United Kingdom
Born in 1944
Born in Hawick, Scotland
Son of Arthur and Violet Stocker
"Although the true meaning of Ultor in Umbris is Avenging in the Shadows, one of the first things I was told by "the boys" when I arrived, was that really it meant "Always in the Dark."
I joined 214 Squadron during the bad winter of '62/63. As an Elec Mech(Air) my first job was to flush battery acid from the bomb-bay with bi-carb solution from a 5 gallon carboy because a battery had boiled over. I sloshed a good amount around, put the bottle on the ground and started mopping. When I tried to lift it again for another go, it was frozen solidly to the ground! (Marham could get REALLY cold!)
I was in 214 Squadron when a Vulcan was flight-refuelled from either Waddington or Scampton (I can't remember which) to what should have been Perth in Australia . However, Perth was fog-bound so the aircraft had to be diverted to Fremantle. I believe that was 1964 but age is getting the better of me!
I was flown to Gan, one of the Maldive Islands . Other refuelling points were El Adam (Lybia) and Khormaksa (Aden). At the time, the troubles between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots was at its worst and families were using the R.A.F. transport aircraft to fly families home to Blighty, so we had to be flown out 10 days before the exercise and back again 9 days after it. We only had to see the Valiants in the day before, pre and after flight the next day, the day of the exercise, then pre-flight them to return the next day. The rest of the 3 weeks was more or less a holiday-in-the-sun!
With an average temperature over each 24 hour period of 86F, I vowed never to complain about cold weather again because you can wrap up!
From miles away, at night, you could see the ident beacon flashing - - .-. (M R)
I flew with our Wing Commander on a refuelling leap-frog exercise over the North Sea which was fine until he started swapping his distance and close-up glasses every few seconds with a thumping great drogue swishing about just feet from the windscreen! (Another memory loss ! I can't remember his name, but it might have been Jones.)
Metal crystallisation of the main spar caused the Valiants to be grounded, and for several weeks Chipmonks and Ansons were flown in for the pilots to keep up their flying hours. I went for a joy-ride with Flight Lieutenant Peach in a Chipmonk and we did some aerobatics. Great fun! He let me take the stick for about 5 minutes, too. (I couldn't reach the pedals, though!)
I was also involved as ground crew when the Greek and Turkish Cypriots went to war against each other and 214 Squadron "tanked" one Lightening squadron home to Blighty and another one out to replace them. (Akrotiri in Cyprus)
My best mate in 214 was a guy called Ron Meldrum, but I've had no joy in trying to locate him. We often went to the band-room (the other side of the perimeter track, out of ear-shot,) and play about on his 4-track tape recorder. (Of course, we were MUCH younger then!)
My great sadness is losing contact with Ron. We spent many a happy hour in a King's Lynn pub called The Golden Ball, affectionately known as (if you will excuse the R.A.F. vernacular) The Rusty Knacker.
Son of Albert and Mary Ann Street, of Low Hill, Wolverhampton.
Sgt Street's body was washed ashore on 2 June 1943 at 17:00 hrs at Engelsman Plaat, between Schiermonnikoog and Ameland on the Dutch Frisian Islands. The cause of death was possibly drowning as the body had very little injuries apart from facial burns and a broken left leg. He was buried on 4 June 1943 in Vredenhof Cemetery on Schiermonnikoog; his six comrades are commemorated on the Runnymede memorial.
The small island of Schiermonnikoog is the most northerly of the Frisian Islands, lying about 11 kilometres north of the Dutch mainland. The Vredenhof (Peace Garden) is a small private cemetery in the sand dunes about 1.5 kilometres east of the village.
Please note that it is not possible to take vehicles to the island.
The cemetery was created in 1906 for the burial of bodies washed up by the sea, and maintained by local subscriptions. The land (subsequently acquired by the Netherlands Government) was the gift of the then owner, Count von Bernstorff; and the cemetery was the personal project and, until his death in 1955, the main interest of a well known resident of Schiermonnikoog. He laid out the cemetery, planted trees and shrubs and built a cross and a small chapel, all largely at his own expense. During the 1939-1945 war the cemetery was extended at the rear and new trees and shrubs were planted. It is in this part of the cemetery that the majority of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth graves are situated, although a few are in the original portion. There are now nearly 70, 1939-1945 war casualties commemorated in this site; just over a quarter of these are unidentified.
Distinguished Flying Cross - No.214 Squadron - awarded as per London Gazette dated 22 August 1941 (and listed in AFRO 272/43 dated 19 February 1943). Born in Vancouver 1917; educated there (navigating officer with Canadian Pacific Steamships). Appointed Pilot Officer on Probation, 23 October 1939. With No.214 Squadron, 20 December 1940 to 22 June 1941 when posted to RAF Mildenhall. No citation other than "for gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations." AFRO 272/43 dated 19 February 1943 (reporting the Bar to his DFC) described him as a Canadian in the RAF. Air Ministry Bulletin 4812 refers. Public Record Office Air 2/8899 has recommendation drafted when he had flown 28 sorties (162 operational hours).
On the night of the 12th March 1941(12/04/1941), this officer carried out an attack on the railway station at Hamburg in the face of intense anti-aircraft and searchlight activity. After diving down from 8,000 feet to bomb his target, he attacked searchlight concentrations, many of which were put out of action. On the return journey he attacked six enemy mine-sweepers and two 6,000 ton merchant ships whose decks he machine-gunned. This officer has displayed complete qualities of leadership and disregard for his personal safety. He has proved himself to be an inspiration to all.
STURDY, S/L Walter Ronald Nisbett (42906) - Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 12 January 1943; No.214 Squadron.
Since the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross this officer has completed a number of daring sorties against the enemy. In July 1942, when attacking a target in the Ruhr, his aircraft was severely damaged by anti-aircraft fire. With great presence of mind and by his great skill and coolness, Squadron Leader Sturdy extinguished the fire which had started, enabling him to fly his aircraft to base. In similar circumstances in September 1942, he flew his aircraft back from Bremen, flying several hundred miles on three engines. He has displayed great efficiency and courage in difficulties on several occasions. Throughout, Squadron Leader Sturdy has evinced great powers of leadership and exceptional devotion to duty.
He married Jean Furley who I believe was one of the head WAFs at Stradishall where they met. After the war they initially moved to Toronto where he trained to become a chiropractor. They then moved to Vancouver where he set up his practice with their 3 kids.He passed away approx. 1995 and Jean passed away in the spring of 2007.
Walter had friends also connected to 214 Squadron, Reg Lewis and H. Bidmead. He also stayed in touch with a man called Earl Ward who also ended up in British Columbia.
Source : London Gazette and Sandy Garnham, (granddaughter) and Squadron ORB and Ian Hunt
Served with 214 Squadron from 02/10/1941 to 05/06/1942
From Jan Bardoul:
"In the early hours of 14 May 1943 a burning plane crashed into a house in my hometown of Heerlen, The Netherlands, setting the house on fire. At a few miles' distance a wounded airman was found and taken to hospital. He was reported to be severely wounded., he suffered from a fractured pelvis. The hospitalized airman appeared to be Leslie Sutcliffe, born in Eccles on 27 July 1921. Address: 99 Grasmare Crescent"
Source : Chorley and "Footprints on the sands of time" by Oliver Clutton-Brock and Jan Bardoul of Heerlen, the Netherlands
Date record last updated : 30 October 2020
SWAN, J V
Wedding day photograph 13 January 1941
Flt/Lt John Valentine Swan is in the back row, second from the left
Flt/Lt John Valentine Swan is in the back row, far right. Sgt James Jordan is left front.
Flt/Lt John Valentine 'Swanee' Swan War Medal, Defence Medal, 1939-1945 Star, Africa Star, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal, Aircrew Europe Star, J27753, Wireless Operator / Air Gunner, Royal Canadian Air Force, Nationality : Canadian
Canada - 7 June 1940 - 23 December 1940 and 19 August 1942 - 15 June 1945
Overseas - 24 December 1940 - 18 August 1942
Served in the ranks - 7 June 1940 - 12 April 1943
He was not killed in action. There is a brick commemorating him at the kiosk at Juno Beach.
Lynn Mortimer writes :
My father was a wireless Air Gunner in WWII. I am in the process of writing a memoir about my Dad and his time in the RCAF for my family. I know he joined squadron 214 in Stradishall in June of 1941. He flew in the Wellington Bomber. If you have any information about him or could direct me to someone who might be able to help me with this, I would greatly appreciate it.
Flt/Lt Swan also served with 104 Squadron and 158 Squadron
Source : Lynn Mortimer (daughter of Flt/Lt John Valentine Swan) and 214 Squadron ORB
Date record last updated : 28 February 2020
Sgt Wilfred Sweeney, R/79844, Rear Gunner, Royal Canadian Air Force, KIA 23 November 1943, Aged 20