2018/05 Newsletter


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Model of Halifax W1050

The March Newsletter carried an article about John Wilson who was in the process of building a 1/48 scale model to commemorate the loss of Halifax W1050 – read more –

I am pleased to announce that John proudly posted pictures of the completed model on Facebook on the anniversary of the loss (6th May 2018)

May Research Work

Research Projects Image

This month I received requests for information relating to the following airmen who served with No. 35 Squadron:

  • DJ Park. Flight Engineer, (1943)
  • Sgt Keith Willis Shingleton, Armourer (1943 to 1945)
  • EFJ Willis, Flight Engineer (1943)
  • LW Bovington, Pilot (1940 to 1941)

Marham Aviation Heritage Centre

Mark Every, a volunteer at the Marham Aviation Heritage Centre, contacted me to say that he had found a number of artefacts relating to the squadron’s time at Marham in the 1950s.

I hope to be able to work with Mark over the next few months to consolidate the details that the Centre holds and hopefully include information and photographs from that era on the website

Lt Robert Alexander Burnard

Piers Myers contacted me to say that his grandfather, RA Burnard (Robert), served with the squadron during WWI.

Piers is in the process of publishing his grandfather’s war diary and I am now providing him with supporting documents from the squadron’s records.

Piers’ work can be found at: http://raburnard.uk/ 

History of La Gorgue

Photograph [from M. O’Connor Collection] shows No. 43 Squadron at La Gorgue (Beaupré-sur-la-Lys) aerodrome.

Serge Comini (a volunteer with Abbaye de Beaupré, Etude et Sauvegarde du Site, at La Gorgue, North of France) contacted me after a number of Royal Flying Corps artefacts were found around the site of the the Cistercian abbey of “Notre-Dame de Beaupré-sur-la-Lys”.

Serge has written a few articles about the two WWI aerodromes which were close to the abbey site (namely La Gorgue and Merville)  and he is now in the process of writing a book on the subject.

No. 35 Squadron was based at La Gorgue from 19/08/1917 to 05/10/1917 and I have provided him with the information that I have from that period so that it can be incorporated into the book (if required)

Serge aims to launch the book later this year.

If you have a relative that served with the squadron at La Gorgue, please get in touch as Serge would like to hear from you.

E-Mail received from Peter Hickson

Great to see a website dedicated to 35 Squadron.

My father, P/O William (Bill) Hickson RNZAF served with 35 Squadron from 28 Jan 1943 to 22 June 1943 when he was shot down by a nightfighter on a raid on Krefeld. During those 5 months he progressed from being a very junior Captain, with only two bombing operations under his belt, to one experienced enough to have already taken three other pilots on operations for their initial experience on a Pathfinder mission. All three of those pilots were ultimately killed, Sgts Ayres and Daniel piloting their own aircraft, and F/Sgt Krohn when his parachute failed to open on Bill’s final operation.

On the night Bill was shot down, he captained one of 19 Halifaxes from 35 Squadron to back up the markers dropped by “Oboe” Mosquitoes, and to act as primary markers should the Mosquitoes fail in their mission. It was a moonlit night, and six of the nineteen were lost, the highest losses in a single operation of any heavy bomber squadron during 1943.

About three weeks prior to the Krefeld raid 35 Sq had sent 21 Halifaxes to attack Wuppertal. This raid was regarded as an outstanding success but unfortunately four of the 21 were shot down by nightfighters. My father wrote in his diary “Had to make a cross wind landing as kite had crashed on other runway. We lost four kites last night, including Pete Johnston, the ace”. S/L Peter Johnston DFC was an extremely experienced and respected pilot, having already completed a tour of operations. He is commemorated on the Runnymede memorial, but deserves more recognition.

So in those two operations in 3 weeks the squadron lost 10 Halifaxes from the 40 sorties!

Perhaps your site could stress that 35 Squadron was at the very forefront of the operational use of airborne ground scanning radar, H2S. It was used operationally for the first time on 30th January 1943, and Bill and his peers were tasked with developing expertise in its use in those early days, when it was a top secret aid.

Some other characters on the Squadron from that time who should be highlighted on your site are S/L Alec Cranswick DSO DFC, “Pathfinder Cranswick”, who completed over 100 operations before he was killed later in the war, G/C Basil Robinson DSO, DFC (Bar), AFC who commanded Graveley Station, and (then) S/L DFEC Dean DFC who commanded the squadron during Bill’s time.

Keep up the good work.