Wing Commander the Hon. E. F. Ward was the Commanding Officer for R.A.F. Harrowbeer and he and Squadron Leader Fisher both signed the Station Operation Record Book for the month of July.
Visitors to R.A.F. Harrowbeer included :-
H.R.H. the Duke of Kent
Colonel G. Thompson DSO, MC
Brigadier T. Fairfax Ross MC
The Camouflage Officer of No.10 Group
The beginning of July started rather badly causing many flights to be cancelled or aborted. The weather improved as the month progressed.
1st July Seventeen Spitfire VB aircraft of No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron proceeded to R.A.F. Redhill, Surrey.
5th July One Blenheim IV aircraft from ' C ' Flight of No.78 Signals Wing Calibration Flight crash landed on the aerodrome after being involved in a collision with a Commer van of No.276 Air Sea Rescue Squadron whilst taking off. Four airmen in the van were killed. No members of the Blenheim IV crew were injured.
7th July Nineteen Spitfire VB's of No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron returned to R.A.F. Harrowbeer from R.A.F. Redhill.
9th July Two Air Sea Rescue searches for survivors of ships sunk in a convoy attack in mid-channel carried out. Non were found.
11th July Shipping Reconnaissance carried out by two Spitfire VB's of No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron took place late in the evening of 10/07/42. Four ( German ) " E " boats seen inshore west of Cap De La Hague.
12th July A visit was made by H. R. H. the Duke of Kent.
A demonstration near Cadover Bridge, Yelverton was given by the Royal Engineers of " Anti-Tank Torpedoes ". It was a good demonstration on a rather useless weapon.
14th July Two Typhoon aircraft visited the Station. Four Air Sea Rescue sorties were undertaken in the afternoon for survivors of a " Chasseur " sunk during a night attack on the convoy she was in. A large oil ring was found south of Portland and small patches of oil south of Start Point.
15th July Major F. G. Gaywood MC assumed command of all troops in the Yelverton sub-area.
19th July " B " Flight of No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron was sent to R.A.F. Bolt Head in readiness. They returned to R.A.F. Harrowbeer on the 27th July.
28th July A Station exercise by No.211 Infantry Brigade held.
31st July No.10 Group " Ramrod " No.24 carried out. No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron acted as rear support ( top cover ) with the Exeter Wing which was to attack St Malo Docks by twelve Boston bomber aircraft being escorted by the Ibsley Wing.
No.271 Squadron :-
1st July At 12.30 hours a Harrow ( transport ) aircraft, Serial No.K6937 took off from R.A.F. Biggin Hill and flew empty to R.A.F. Harrowbeer. On arrival it was loaded with 6,000 lbs of kit for No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron who were to operate from R.A.F. Redhill on operational duties. The Harrow took of at 15.20 hours for R.A.F. Redhill.
On the same day a Harrow ( transport ) aircraft, Serial No.K7010 took off from Doncaster and flew empty to R.A.F. Harrowbeer. The aircraft was then loaded with twenty passengers ( airmen ) of No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron and took off at 15.10 hours for R.A.F. Redhill.
No.276 Air Sea Rescue Squadron " B " Flight :-
5th July A very unfortunate accident occurred on the aerodrome today when a " B " Flight lorry ( Commer van ) was bringing the duty ground crew back from their tea break. A Blenheim IV aircraft of No.78 Signals Wing Communication Flight was just taking off on Runway Three. ( Archivist Note :- it was due to take off on Runway Two but the wind changed direction so an alternate Runway was to be used, - Runway Three ). The Blenheim had just become airborne when it hit the lorry, killing the driver and three other airmen and injuring one - all in the truck. The pilot of the aircraft managed to keep airborne and eventually made a crash landing on the aerodrome on Runway Two.
14th July Four rescue searches were carried out during the day. A large patch of oil was discovered and eventually two flags were found standing out of the water. Motor launches were guided to the spot and a survivor was picked up.
18th July Four rescue sorties were carried out during the day. S dinghy was eventually located and after a further search a pilot was seen in the water about four miles away. A motor launch was directed to the spot which picked up the pilot who was apparently dead.
27th July One rescue sortie carried out. The pilot of a ditched aircraft was picked up by a launch.
30th July A Lysander aircraft was ordered off on a rescue search three miles south of Bridport. Two dinghies were located with two members of the crew of a Beaufighter aircraft. Smoke flares were dropped and two rescue boats directed to the scene. The crew were successfully picked up. A Walrus aircraft proceeded off Bolt Head in search of a Hurricane aircraft pilot reported to be in a dinghy. Nothing could be found of pilot or dinghy.
Squadron information for the 5th July from other sources
Archivist - Michael Hayes
5th July Today No.276 Air Sea Rescue Squadron " B " Flight ground crew were maintaining one of the Squadron's aircraft in Dispersal Bay No.109.
Station practice was that when it was time to ' go to ' or ' return from ' the N.A.A.F.I. Truck for their tea / meal breaks permission had to be granted by Flying Control for them to cross the aerodrome and runways on Sommerfeld Tracking from one side of the aerodrome to the other, ( Instead of going all around the perimeter track, therefore saving time ). The N.A.A.F.I. Truck parked in the area of Dispersal Bays No.115 and 116.
Unfortunately due to a communication problem, the vehicle and aircraft collided. The vehicle was a Commer van on it's way back from it's N.A.A.F.I. Break and was heading back to Dispersal Bay No.109 which meant crossing Runways Two and Three. The Blenheim IV had just lifted off from Runway Three when it struck the lorry at the intersection which tore off the undercarriage of the aeroplane. The Blenheim effectively made a wheel's up landing on the other side of the aerodrome. The pilot and air crew were not injured.
Four airmen in the Commer van were killed and one injured.
Those who lost their lives were :-
A.C.1. Ronald Charles Roper Service No.1473751 20 years old
Buried :- Chingford Mount Cemetery, London
A.C.1. Raymond Stanley Whitbourne Service No.1385051 20 years old
Buried :- Bramley Cemetery, Surrey
A.C.1. Raymond William Vallack Service No.1401788 22years old
Buried :- Weston Mill Cemetery, Plymouth, Devon
L.A.C. Benjamin Bowen Service No.1029215 22 years old
Buried :- Llannelly, St. Paul, Carmathenshire
May they rest in peace.
No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron :-
1st July No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron released for the cross country flight to R.A.F. Redhill, Surrey. Seventeen aircraft took off from R.A.F. Harrowbeer at 15.45 hours, but only ten managed to reach R.A.F. Redhill by 17.00 hours the same day. Seven aircraft landed at R.A.F. Exeter. Ground staff and the rear party left in two Harrow ( transport aircraft ) at 15.20 hours. At R.A.F. Redhill all the ground personnel were accommodated under canvas.
7th July An order was received today for the Squadron to return to R.A.F. Harrowbeer. The Squadron took off at 17.20 hours, landing at R.A.F. Harrowbeer at 18.35 hours. The rail party left Nutfield Railway Station at 23.30 hours.
10th July Five Sections were ordered out on convoy patrols to fifteen motor vessels going east ten miles south of Point 6. Blue section were ordered off on a shipping reconnaissance near Cherbourg at 22.15 hours where they reported six German " E " boats west of the peninsular. Most of the pilots back on base spent the day on Link Trainer practice.
12th July At 12.30 hours Warrant Officer J. Sodek took off as Black 1 with Sergeant J. Novotny as Black 2 to patrol a convoy "Skipper " south of Start Point. At approximately 13.00 hours this section received a message from the convoy " Bandits at five o'clock ". Black 1 gave " Tally-Ho " and began a chase with the enemy aircraft at sea level. Black 1 then in mid-channel, opened fire at extreme range, then drew closer and fired three bursts from astern, after which the enemy rear-gunner stopped firing. The pilot drew closer and fired several more bursts, first from astern, spending all his ammunition. During the last attack he noticed tracer bullets in the enemy cockpit. The enemy aircraft, a JU88, is claimed as being damaged.
17th July A signal has been received from the Air Ministry that Flight Lieutenant B. Dvorak previously reported as missing presumed killed is a Prisoner of War in Germany.
18th July During the day twelve sections were detailed for convoy patrol duties over " Recruit " ( fourteen ships and a destroyer leaving Plymouth going west ), and " Skipper " ( twenty six motor vessels, two tankers, three trawlers and one destroyer with V.H.F. going to Dartmouth ).
20th July Three sections on convoy patrol over " Review " ( thirty ships ten miles south of Point 8 going east ). The rest of the month was spent carrying out convoy patrol duties. During the month of July operational activities increased in comparison with the previous month. Some disappointment was felt that no operations were carried out during the detachment of the Squadron at R.A.F. Redhill and that the task had to be abandoned.
No.421 Squadron :-
31st July The Squadron was ordered to R.A.F. Harrowbeer to supply a Rear Cover Wing for Boston bomber aircraft returning from the raid on St. Malo. No enemy aircraft were encountered. The Squadron also carried out covering air support for M.T.B.'s returning with pilots who had baled out. They covered the boats over a distance of seventy miles out and back again. The Squadron returned to R.A.F. Fairwood Common by 21.45 hours, all aircraft returned safely.
No.501 Squadron :-
31st July The Squadron ( twelve Spitfire VB's and VC's went to R.A.F. Harrowbeer from R.A.F. Ibsley in the afternoon for one of the most successful operations for a long time. This was the bombing of St. Malo by twelve Boston bomber aircraft. No.501 Squadron was close escort. The operation involved flying two hundred and seventy five miles over the sea. When the Squadron arrived at R.A.F. Harrowbeer long range fuel tanks were used and with three exceptions were very successful. Two tanks failed to work and the pilots returned. One tank failed to jettison. The enemy were caught on the hop, and no enemy aircraft came near the bombers and escorts. The flak opened up very late and was well behind. The docks received a real pasting from forty eight - five hundred pound bombs. Our boys watched the bombs go like little black eggs and everyone went right over on their sides to see where the bombs fell. Everyone came home safely - delighted with the show. The Squadron arrived back at R.A.F. Ibsley at 22.00 hours on the completion of a good days work.
Knightstone RAF Harrowbeer Archives
Knightstone, Crapstone Road, Yelverton, Devon, PL20 6BT GB
Archivist - Michael Hayes 01822 853679
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