No. 255 Squadron RAF

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No. 255 Squadron RAF
Active 6 July 1918 – 14 January 1919
23 November 1940 – 30 April 1946
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Motto Latin: Ad Auroram (To the break of dawn)
Insignia
Squadron Badge A panther face
Squadron Codes YD (Nov 1940 – Apr 1946)

No. 255 Squadron RAF was a Royal Air Force Squadron formed as an anti-submarine unit in World War I and a night-fighter unit in World War II.

History[edit]

Formation and World War I[edit]

Squadron numbering[edit]

When the Royal Air Force (RAF) was created on 1 April 1918, squadrons formerly part of the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) were distinguished from former units of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) with the same number by having 200 added to their previous RNAS designations. Thus, for example, No.3 Squadron RFC became No.3 Squadron RAF, whilst No.3 (Naval) Squadron RNAS became No.203 Squadron RAF.[1]

Prior to the formation of the RAF, the RNAS had a large number of additional flying units that were smaller than whole squadrons, some stationed in the UK and others overseas. After being taken over by the RAF, some of these units were initially identified as numbered Flights. These Flights were subsequently grouped into new squadrons also numbered in the 200-series.

No.255 Squadron is an example of such a grouping of Flights, being formed from Flights 519 through 524.[2]

Place of formation[edit]

Jefford (2001) suggests that No.255 Squadron was formed 25 July 1918 at Pembroke. The reference to Pembroke means RAF Pembroke (X0PK),[3] not to be confused with RAF Pembroke Dock (X7PD).[4] RAF Pembroke closed after the First World War but the site was subsequently re-opened as RAF Carew Cheriton (also unofficially known as Milton, at some risk of confusion with RAF Milton near Banbury, Oxfordshire, which was the home of No.3 Maintenance Unit).[5]

Uncertain date of formation[edit]

Documents discovered in 2014 at The National Archives (TNA) suggest that, whilst the location given by Jefford (2001) is correct, the formation date was earlier than 25 July 1918. Within the Patrol Reports of No.14 Group (prior to the formation of the RAF this was the Milford Haven Anti-Submarine Group of the Royal Naval Air Service) there exists a record of daily sorties by aircraft of No.255 Squadron. The series commences on 6 July 1918.[6] On a purely administrative basis, the squadron must have formed no later than 8 May 1918. That date appears in the RNAS service record of Reginald Rhys SOAR as the date when he was posted to the squadron.[7]

Aircraft[edit]

An Airco DH.6 similar to those flown by No.255 Squadron in 1918.

The squadron was equipped with Airco DH.6 aircraft. These single-engine biplanes could carry either a 100 lb bomb or an Observer in addition to the Pilot, but not both. This accounts for the imbalance in crew numbers evident in the Squadron Roll Call; the number of Pilots far exceeded the number of Observers.

Strategic purpose[edit]

The sole function of No.255 Squadron during WWI was anti-submarine warfare, initially within a zone defined as "10m NW Fishguard to 10m S of Caldey Island".[6] Within days this was extended to 15 miles South of Caldey Island.[8]

Airborne anti-submarine warfare in the Bristol Channel, St.George's Channel and southern Irish Sea was conducted by three distinct classes of flying machine. Patrol reports archived at TNA in AIR1/485 indicate that long duration patrols and convoy escort duties were carried out by Class SSZ Airships. The Airship Station at Pembroke maintained a Detachment at Wexford, Ireland, so as to extend No.14 Group's reconnaissance capability further into the Western Approaches. The airships were fitted with Wireless Telegraphy apparatus (known as "W/T", meaning radio communication using morse code), enabling rapid dissemination of information concerning the whereabouts of any U-boats sighted.

Shorter range patrols were conducted both by Short Type 184 and, on rare occasions, Hamble Baby seaplanes. Like the airships, Short Type 184s were also fitted with Wireless Telegraphy apparatus, giving them a distinct advantage over smaller aircraft in terms of rapid reporting of U-boat sightings.

Inshore patrols were conducted by the DH.6 aeroplanes of No.255 Squadron. The unit appears to have been very much the junior partner in this tripartite reconnaissance/attack arrangement, on account of the DH.6 aircraft's lack of radio communication facilities.

Officer Commanding[edit]

The Officer Commanding "A" and "B" Flights was Hon. Captain Reginald Rhys SOAR, DSC.

The squadron's senior administrator was Major Robert Gordon GOULD, MC. Wounded whilst serving in No.10 Squadron RFC, Gould was posted to "14 Group for 255 Squadron" on 10 May 1918. He is only named once in the squadron's sortie records, possibly indicating an ongoing disability preventing this keen pilot from participating more regularly in front-line service. Three years previously he had funded his own tuition as a pilot, qualifying for his Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate on 24 April 1915. Once on active service with the RFC, he claimed the cost of his tuition against expenses![9]

The Officer Commanding the whole of No.14 Group (which included airships, seaplanes and land-based aircraft) was Robert Cholerton HAYES. His rank "WSE" (whilst so employed) was Lt.Col., his role being described as "Group Commander".[10] A navy Dirigible Officer by background, he would later be awarded the OBE, Gazetted 6 January 1919,[11] in recognition of his wartime work in respect of the military applications of lighter-than-air craft at both Kingsnorth and Pembroke.[12]

The modern rank structure of the RAF was not introduced until after the squadron had been disbanded in 1919. An overview of AIR1/485 and AIR1/486 suggests that these three officers performed roles equivalent in modern terms to Squadron Leader, Wing Commander and Group Captain respectively.

WWI Officers and Aircrew[edit]

The following table lists Officers and Aircrew known to have served with (or to have been in command of) No.255 Squadron at any time between the formation of the squadron and the Armistice on 11 November 1918. Rank shown is that held on Armistice Day. Leonard Andrews' commission as a 2nd Lieutenant was confirmed and Geoffrey Chetwynd-Stapylton was promoted to Acting Captain before the squadron was disbanded.

Surname Forenames Date of Birth Rank Role Domicile Service record
Andrews Leonard Christopher 15 May 1899 Temp 2/Lt. Observer Britain AIR76/8/184
Arcand Louis Georges 31 Aug 1897 Lieutenant Pilot Canada AIR76/10/4
Birkbeck Paul William 03 May 1899 Lieutenant Pilot Britain AIR76/40/6
Chaffe Redvers Sydney S. ‡ 06 Apr 1900 2nd Lieut. Pilot Canada AIR76/81/3
Chetwynd-Stapylton Geoffrey 27 Dec 1893 Lieutenant Admin Britain AIR 76/480/178
Garnett Walter Hugh S. 26 Jun 1891 Acting Major Staff Officer Britain AIR76/177/67
Gillingham Hubert Henry 14 Nov 1894 Lieutenant Pilot Britain AIR76/183/87
Godden William John G. 28 May 1899 2nd Lieut. Observer Britain AIR76/185/90
Gould Robert Gordon 26 Feb 1885 Acting Major Pilot Britain AIR76/189/125
Hamilton Ralph Nigel 07 Nov 1895 Hon. Lieut. Pilot Britain AIR76/206/33
Hayes Robert Cholerton 30 Nov 1884 Acting Lt.Col Dir. Officer Britain ADM 273/1/57
Hunter Richard Charles A. ‡ Dec.Qr.1891 2nd Lieut. Pilot Britain AIR76/245/123
Leguen-de-Lacroix Aleth Thomas S. France, 1894 Lieutenant Pilot Britain WO372/11/217664
Montgomery-Moore Robert John ? Lieutenant Admin Britain WO339/18127
Nicholson Leyster 09 Oct 1892 Lieutenant Pilot Britain AIR76/373/40
Peebles Arthur John D. 12 Jun 1898 Lieutenant Pilot Britain AIR76/396/168
Soar Reginald Rhys 24 Aug 1893 Hon. Capt. Pilot Britain ADM273/7/9
Stallibrass Trevor Lawrie W. 20 Jun 1888 Lieutenant Pilot Britain AIR76/479/131
Tamplin Harold Llewelyn 03 Jan 1899 Lieutenant Pilot Canada AIR76/494/144

NOTES to accompany the table above:

Dir. Officer = Dirigible Officer, qualified to operate an Airship but not fixed-wing aircraft.
‡  Data derived from standard genealogical sources, missing from known military records.
The Lieutenant Montgomery-Moore listed here is not the same person as the author of the book "That's My Bloody Plane!", but may have been a relative.
Harold TAMPLIN's middle forename is consistently spelled as above in both British and Canadian records, except on his birth registration. Reference to the original document (not merely the General Register Office indexes) shows that the original birth registration used the more conventional spelling Llewellyn.
As at 2014, some RAF service records from WWI have not been declassified, in most cases because the person remained in the Royal Air Force after the war. Such records are normally declassified 90 years after service in the armed forces ceased. However, pre-1918 RNAS, RFC or Army records in respect of the same individuals have not been similarly withheld. These substitute sources are listed in the table where appropriate. Most entries in the column "Service record" are available on online via The National Archives website.
255 Squadron Association gratefully acknowledges the help given by the Royal Canadian Air Force archives and the staff of the London Borough of Wandsworth in the preparation of this table.

Signalling codes[edit]

A short code was used to report latitude and longitude of a target or other location, comprising a 5-character group of two numbers followed by three letters. Example: 67ABC.

The numerical component represents a grid square measuring 25 Nautical Miles along each side. This refers to the old definition of the Nautical Mile, also known as a "Sea Mile". The fixing of the Nautical Mile as a distance of 1,852.00 metres did not happen until 1929, some eleven years later. At the time of the First World War, a Nautical Mile was defined as being the distance at sea level which, if viewed from the centre of the earth, would subtend an angle of one sixtieth of one degree of arc.[13] Given that the Earth is not a perfect sphere, this means that the length of a pre-1929 Nautical Mile varies from place to place, being largest at the equator and smallest at the poles.

The algorithm for decoding the numerical component is mathematically complex, because repetition of any number is excluded. Thus squares 00, 11, 22, 33 and so on up to 99 simply do not exist, in effect creating a system that is non-linear. Additional complexity arises because nine (the mathematical "base" or radix in this quasi-nonal system) is not a factor of sixty, the number of Nautical Miles in one degree of latitude. Nor is 5 a factor of 9, five being the number of sub-squares forming one side of the master square. In practice the decode was not calculated, but physically plotted on a chart using a crib, examples of which survive in The National Archives.[14]

Each letter in the 5-character group represents successive subdivision of the main square into 25 smaller squares using a 5x5 grid labelled A through Z omitting X. With three such subdivisions, the resolution of the coded location statement is good enough to pinpoint any position within No.14 Group's area to an accuracy of one fifth of a Nautical Mile, which is approximately 370 metres.

At the level of the second subdivision, the minor squares had sides of 1 Nautical Mile. Possibly to avoid confusion between Nautical Miles and Statute Miles, these were known as "2,000 Yard Squares" rather than "One Mile Squares".[15] The discrepancy introduced by this nomenclature is slightly over 1%, the exact magnitude of the error depending (under the old definition of the Nautical Mile) on the Latitude of the observer.

This whole mapping system, called "Squared Charts", created a highly simplified method for exchanging position information either in writing, or by Semaphore, or using Morse Code sent by wireless or signal lamp. Use of the Squared Charts system for reporting positions is almost universal within the WWI records of the squadron.

First reported sighting of a U-boat[edit]

On 10 July 1918 a patrol by an aircraft of No.255 Squadron reported sighting a hostile periscope at location 64LYK.[16] The following day a target in the same area was attacked by Short seaplanes from another squadron.[17]

First reported engagement with a U-boat[edit]

No.255 Squadron's first claimed strike against the enemy occurred on 14 August 1918, when Lieutenant PEEBLES (Arthur John Douglas Peebles, born 12 June 1898)[18] piloting DH.6 serial C.9439, reported finding a submarine at periscope depth at position 67ISC. He attacked the target at 09:35 with a 100 lb bomb. This resulted in air bubbles and an oil slick. There being no surface vessels in the area that he might have redirected to the scene using visual signals, Lieutenant Peebles landed at a Look-Out Station at position 65OGV, but he found it "uninhabited". He therefore flew on to RAF Pembroke. At 12:20 another attack was mounted against the same target by Lieutenant Peebles and Captain Soar and further oil was brought to the surface.[19][20]

Admiralty assessment at the time classified the result of the strike as "U-boat possibly damaged", giving the decoded position as 51°17'N, 05°04'W.[21] No U-boat is unaccounted for in this area, such that the target might have been sunk and never identified. Analysis of the incident by independent researchers associated with the website U-boat.net, conducted in May 2014, show the following submarines of the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial German Navy) to have been on patrol in the general area: U52, U94, U96, UB86 and UB92. Of these, U52[22] of II Flotilla was closest to 51°17'N, 05°04'W, under the command of Kapitänleutnant d.R. Franz KRAPOHL.[23]

U52's known positions in the period 12–15 August 1918 were all in St.George's Channel. The submarine's KTB (Kriegstagebuch, in translation "War Diary") reportedly makes no mention of the vessel coming under attack on 14 August 1918.[24]

Errors and omissions in records[edit]

Numerous errors, omissions and potentially confusing instances of now-obsolete terminology exist in The National Archives records of No.14 Group. These are noted here for the benefit of other researchers studying the same source:

Generally:

There is endless confusion between Knots (a measure of speed) and Nautical Miles (a measure of distance).
Nautical Miles are inadequately distinguished from Statute Miles.
Reference to an airship is often abbreviated to "ship". This gave rise to some apparently nonsensical reports of ships cruising at altitudes of several hundred feet.
Bearings are sometimes given using the antiquated system of Compass Points.
On occasions, no distinction is made between True North and Magnetic North. When the difference is mentioned, the traditional UK terminology "Magnetic Variation" is used in line with the nomenclature used on Admiralty Charts.[25] Note that modern US terminology differs. Magnetic Variation in the squadron's patrol area was considerable, Magnetic North in 1918 being 17°45' W of True North.[26]
The initials RNAS can stand for Royal Naval Air Service (abolished 1 April 1918) or Royal Naval Airship Station. Given that the airships themselves remained in Admiralty ownership after 1 April 1918 and were not transferred to the Air Ministry during the course of the war, use of the term Royal Naval Airship Station validly persisted after the formation of the RAF.[27]
Documents in the relevant files were not accurately placed in date order before Folio numbers were backstamped onto them.

With specific reference to No.255 Squadron:

The squadron was mis-described as "No.225" on the Daily Patrol Report for 7 July 1918.
Pilots' names do not routinely appear in the squadron's sortie records prior to 9 August 1918. Thereafter, only current rank and surname are noted, not forenames or initials.

Disbanding[edit]

Jefford (2001) gives the date of disbanding as 14 January 1919, but it seems that flying activity ceased considerably earlier. The records of No.14 Group include a Nil return of Patrols for the whole of the week ending 30 November 1918 and the record itself ceases at that date.[28]

Reformation in World War II[edit]

Overview of WWII deployments[edit]

The squadron reformed on 23 November 1940 at what was then called RAF Kirton Lindsey but has more recently become known as RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey. In May 1941 it moved to Hibaldstow, followed by a spell at Coltishall with a detachment at West Malling, thereafter High Ercall and Honiley. Almost exclusively, the squadron was throughout this time period involved in night-time air defence.

In November 1942, within days of the Operation Torch landings, the squadron moved in part by air and in part by sea from England to Algeria, soon establishing a forward operating base in Tunisia. In Africa their role expanded somewhat. Night-time air defence predominated but, additionally, daylight defence of Mediterranean convoys and a few air-sea rescue searches also took place. Experimentally, there were a small number of night intruder missions into Sardinia. Following the final defeat of the Afrika Korps, the squadron consolidated at a single location at La Sebala II, Tunisia.

Operation Husky saw Allied forces invade Sicily, encountering minimal resistance because of the successful deception perpetrated by Operation Mincemeat. No.255 Squadron was not in the vanguard but soon followed, setting up its base at Bo Rizzo and reverting for a while to a near-exclusive night air defence role.

Next came Italy, a deployment that gave rise to numerous detachments and a major series of fighter-intruder and fighter-bomber missions. Some were in support of Tito's Partisans in the Balkans, some flew on into the Danube basin with the objective of destroying oil barges supplying fuel to Germany from the Romanian Oil Fields and some, during the autumn of 1944, headed south-east over the southern Aegean Sea with the objective of harassing the Wehrmacht's eventual retreat from the Dodecanese. Also, very successfully, the squadron provided air cover for Allied ground troops in the vicinity of Ancona, Italy, where Junkers Ju 87 (Stuka) dive bombers operating without fighter escort proved to be easy pickings for the squadron's Beaufighters.

VE Day saw the squadron still in Italy, as the lone night-time guardian of virtually the whole of Italian airspace.

Detail - 255 at Kirton Lindsey[edit]

The squadron re-formed on 23 November 1940. Unlike the WWI situation, this date is precisely recorded in an Operations Record Book (ORB)[29] but there is some uncertainty about the correct description of the location. Kirton Lindsey or Kirton-in-Lindsey?

It appears to have been an RAF habit (inherited from the RFC) to name its bases after the nearest railway station, possibly to simplify the process of issuing Rail Warrants to personnel posted there. By that token, 255 was re-born at RAF Kirton Lindsey, Kirton Lindsey being the name of the nearby railway station constructed in 1849. The squadron's Operations Record Book[30] consistently uses that version of the name. So does the airfield's separate ORB, from the date of the site's first WWII occupation (15 May 1940) through to May 1941. After mid-1941, use of RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey begins to appear – eventually dominating.[31]

Given that all No.255 Squadron records refer to "Kirton Lindsey", that name is used here. By the time the "-in-" version was adopted on the airfield, No.255 Squadron had moved on to their next home.

A Boulton Paul Defiant Mk.I. It is believed that all such aircraft used by No.255 Squadron were painted black, at the time the preferred night fighter camouflage.

The squadron became operational as a night fighter unit, part of No.12 Group, on 5 Jan 1941, but due to snow no flying took place until 8 Jan 1941.[32] They were flying Bolton Paul Defiant Mk.I aircraft without on-board radar. Ground-Controlled Interception, called "GCI", was used to guide a single fighter aircraft towards its target, using a procedure called "vectoring". In effect, the GCI Station did the work of a navigator, calculating the course to steer and altitude to achieve in order to intercept the moving target. The ground station then transmitted this information to the fighter pilot by radio. Only if the guidance was accurate enough to bring the fighter within visual range of the target did an interception result. Perhaps surprisingly often, despite the darkness, it did!

An entry in the Form 541 appendix to the ORB, dated 8 January 1941 sees the squadron's only documented use of "Pip-Squeak", fitted to Defiant Mk.I serial N.3378. Pip-Squeak was a direction-finding system that auto-keyed a spare channel on the transmitter of the aircraft's HF radio telephone, enabling a network of "HF/DF" (High Frequency Direction Finding) ground stations to obtain a rapid "fix" on the aircraft whether or not the voice communication facility was in use. A change to VHF radios, already under way and accompanied by the contemporaneous installation of IFF, rendered the whole Pip-Squeak system redundant.[33][34]

On 2 February the squadron suffered its first fatality when Defiant Mk.I serial N.3306 stalled on final approach. The pilot, 748209 Sergeant Alan R. JACOBS was killed instantly. His Air Gunner, 935568 Sgt. P.V.THORNTON escaped with minor head injuries.[35] The ORB attributes the crash to Pilot Error.

The night of 10-11 February 1941 saw the first combat successes, the squadron claiming two Heinkel He.111's "Probably Destroyed". On the same night a Defiant of No.255 Squadron was damaged when a Spitfire of another squadron taxied into it. Two further on-the-ground incidents followed on the 16th.

17 February saw the completion of the fitting of VHF radios to the squadron's aircraft, a process that had taken nearly two months.

At 02:48 on 14 March 1941, Sgt. A.R.SMITH (Pilot) and Sgt. H.A.McKENZIE (Air Gunner) had the un-nerving experience of having an enemy aircraft - presumed to be a Ju.88 - rake them with machine-gun fire as they landed, the Hun having followed them in. They and their Defiant escaped unscathed but a parked Spitfire of No.65 Squadron suffered minor damage.[36]

During their time at Kirton Lindsey, the Defiants were supplemented with five Hawker Hurricane single-seat fighters, which achieved two combat victories. These arrived over the period 21-23 March, but not all were in serviceable condition on receipt.

On the night of 16-17 April 1941 the airfield was bombed; there was no significant damage.

The ORB entry for 1 May 1941, written up at the end of the month, makes reference to the activities throughout May 1941 in the following terms:

"This moonlit period (till 17/5/41) was one of intense enemy 'blitzing' of target areas in N.E. and Central England and in consequence a considerable strain was thrown on the Squadron. Each night one flight was at 'readiness' with the other 'available', and on some occasions during the peak moonlit period as many as sixteen planes have been at 'readiness'. From the assumption of dusk state on 2/5/41 till the end of dusk state on 17/5/41 (15 nights) a total of one hundred and thirty-two operational night patrols were flown. In fact a total of eighty-eight were flown in the 6 nights from midnight on 10/5/41, an average of more than 14½ patrols per night. The squadron had its most successful period since its formation, as will be seen from the victories set out infra. The most satisfactory aspect of these combats is that the losses inflicted on the enemy were all achieved at the loss of only one Defiant both the occupants of which landed safely by baling out of their burning machine."

The highlight came in the early hours of the ninth of May, when the squadron shot down 6 enemy bombers and damaged a seventh within the space of half an hour, all achieved without loss to the squadron's personnel or planes. This produced a deluge of congratulations, headed by a personal message from the Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald Sinclair, Bt., CMG, MP, the Secretary of State for Air.[37]

It was a magnificant finale to the squadron's time at RAF Kirton Lindsey, which the aircraft and aircrews left on the 15th. Due to some facilities at RAF Hibaldstow not being complete, the squadron's administrative HQ and some maintenance activities remained at Kirton Lindsey. The split of administrative location continued until 9th June.[38]

Detail - 255 at Hibaldstow[edit]

What might have proved to be a busy and productive period in the squadron's history turned out not to be. Much of the Luftwaffe bomber force that had been ranged against the East Coast ports of Hull and Grimsby during the squadron's time at RAF Kirton Lindsey had, in May 1941, been moved to the Russian Front ready to support Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of Eastern Europe. In local terms at least, the Blitz was over. Apart from some token raids probably designed to create the pretence of ongoing strategic bombing, the night fighters guarding the ports of the Humber Estuary were left short of targets.

On 16 June 1941 the squadron took delivery of its first Blenheim I light bomber, for the purposes of training on twin engined aircraft prior to being re-equipped with Beaufighters.[39] A second Bleinhim (L.1223)[40] was collected from No.18 Maintenance Unit on 06 July and a third (known to have been L.8660) was delivered on 19 July.[41]

On night 10-11 July, at about 02:00, Air Gunner Sgt. H.D.F. FITZSIMMONS, a New Zealander, was hit by a tracer bullet fired from an enemy aircraft believed to be a Heinkel He.111. Fitzsimmons nevertheless continued to fire at the enemy bomber, which was claimed as "damaged".[42] Pilot Sgt.COX returned to base and his Air Gunner was taken to Scunthorpe War Memorial Hospital.[43]

YD-G (R.2402) Beaufighter Mk.II night fighter of No. 255 Squadron photographed at RAF Hibaldstow on 5 September 1941. Note the flat tailplane (no dihedral).

Official notification was received on 13 July of the upcoming re-equipment with Beaufighters. The first two of these much heavier fighter aircraft (R.2370 and R.2377), nominally similar in handling characteristics to the Blenheims used for training, arrived on 22 July. More following on the 24th and the 27th making eight in all, a ninth arriving the following day and a tenth by the end of the month. The total reached the full compliment of 18 on 6 August.[44]

The squadron's next move, from Hibaldstow to Coltishall, commenced on 16 August 1941. Tragically it resulted in the deaths of 81449 Flying Officer James Howard EMMERSON (known as Jimmy) and 748529 Sergeant Donald Crosby FOWLER when Blenheim L.1223 crashed on approach to RAF Coltishall, hitting trees about ¾ mile from the airfield. This incident was eventually attributed to loose spark plugs in the port engine, occasioned by slack maintenance procedures.[45] It marked the start of a grim period in the squadron's history. The transition from single to twin-engined aircraft did not go smoothly and it would take over a year, diagnosis of the cause of multiple engine supercharger failures on the Beaufighter Mk.II's Merlin XX engines, re-equipment with Mk.VI Beaufighters (which had Bristol Hercules engines) and a move to North Africa before combat victories resumed in numbers that exceeded the Squadron's aircrew losses to causes other than enemy action.

The Squadron was deemed non-operational from 18:00 on 23 August 1941, so as to "complete conversion to and training on Beaufighters".[46] All but two aircraft were ordered back to RAF Hibaldstow, the two remaining at Coltishall being attached to No.604 Squadron. 604 was a unit with greater experience of flying Beaufighters equipped with AI and the application of that aircraft/radar combination to the business of delivering an effective night fighter defence role. Evidently only two of 255's crews were deemed to be combat ready in their new aircraft.

Some of the Squadron's paperwork from September 1941 appears to be missing, specifically Forms 541 relating to the period from the 1st to the 25th of the month. However, enhanced detail entered on Form 540 may indicate that the 541s were never created in the first place.

The second attempt to move to Coltishall happened 19–21 September, leaving unsolved the mystery of 45843 Pilot Officer James CRAIG's disappearance on a flight from Turnhouse (Edinburgh) to Hibaldstow on 29 August.


After VE Day[edit]

The squadron moved from Italy to RAF Hal Far, Malta, in September 1945 and to Gianaclis in Egypt in January 1946. (Note: This refers to the airfield RAF Gianaclis, formerly LG227, not to the suburb of Alexandria of the same name. The site is now known as Jiyanklis Air Base, Airport Code HEGS, Lat/Long: 30° 49' N, 30° 11' E.)

The squadron was officially disbanded at RAF Gianaclis on 30 April 1946, never having returned to the UK.


Badge and Motto[edit]

There is no known record of the squadron having either a badge or a motto during World War One, and the unit did not immediately acquire these during World War Two either.

The earliest surviving record of a provisional badge design is in a letter dated 12 August 1942 sent by John Dunamace Heaton-Armstrong, MVO, Chester Herald and Inspector of Royal Air Force Badges, addressed to an Air Ministry administrator, Wing Commander V. Gibbs DSC.[47] That correspondence proposes both the Panther's Face (as an image appropriate to a night prowler) and the Motto Ad Auroram.

The final approval of His Majesty the King was notified to Eastern Air Command on 7 January 1943.[48]

At this point in time, the historical record diverges. TNA file AIR2/6466 would have the reader believe that the "Royal painting" (the copy of the artwork personally signed by the Monarch) remained with the College of Arms in perpetuity. That is not so; the Air Ministry records contained in TNA's file have, at some time in the past, been weeded in a way that obscures the true outcome. The records of Garter King of Arms contain additional documents showing that custody of the Royal painting was requested by the Squadron and that the request for possession was granted. When the Squadron was disbanded in April 1946 the artwork somehow found its way to the Air Historical Branch of the RAF. What isn't clear is where the Royal painting went in the years 1943–1946. On tour around the Mediterranean, perhaps? That mystery remains unsolved.[49]


Mascot[edit]

For much of 1942, the Squadron's mascot was a much-loved Bull Mastiff dog called Bruce.

Bruce was originally owned by 102157 Pilot Officer Michael John MORTIMER, who was killed on 15 January 1942. His brother the Rev. J.L. Mortimer, who attended the funeral, gave the dog to Wing Commander Kelly, as Squadron mascot.

Evidently Bruce did not appreciate being moved from RAF Coltishall to RAF High Ercall. On arrival, having travelled with the road party rather than by air, he wandered away from Dispersals and left the station.[50]

The ORB entry for 3 March 1942 notes:

Great efforts were made to find him. Through the kindness of the Station Commander, the Station personnel were informed through D.R.O's [Daily Routine Orders] and through the local Defence Commander, the Military and the Home Guard were informed. Information was also sent to the police at Shrewsbury and Wellington, etc., and an advertisement was inserted in the newspapers.

Thereafter, daily entries in the ORB take on increasingly desperate wording. Then, on the eighth...

News was received from the police at Wellington that a dog answering to the name of 'Bruce' had been found at Shifnall, 17 miles away. P/O Kench [108608 Kench A.S.] immediately went to Shifnall and identified Bruce, who was [back] on the Station to greet the aircrews when they arrived [by air from Coltishall].

Getting from High Ercall to Shifnall all by himself was a pretty good bit of doggie navigation, not far off track for a beeline return to Coltishall – the place he probably regarded as 'home'. In recognition of his prowess, 'Pilot Officer Bruce' was made an honorary member of the Officers Mess.

Come the move to North Africa in November 1942, it became necessary to re-home Pilot Officer Bruce. Fortunately, he is well documented in The National Archives, where it is recorded that one Bull Mastiff was to be posted from No.255 Squadron to No.488 Squadron, a unit not taking part in Operation Torch. 488 wasn't any old squadron happening to want a mascot, but one whose Commanding Officer - Richard Trousdale - was a former member of 255's Officers Mess. Dog knew man and man knew dog.

Regrettably, it is not known where Bruce ended his days.


Aircraft operated[edit]

Tabulated by type[edit]

Aircraft operated by No.255 Squadron RAF, with details of usage, fitting of Pip-Squeak, Airborne Interception Radar and IFF
From To Aircraft Variant Role Pip-Squeak AI Radar IFF
Jul 1918 Jan 1919 Airco DH.6 - Patrol None None None
Nov 1940 Sep 1941 Boulton Paul Defiant I Combat Transitional No Transitional
Mar 1941 Aug 1941 Hawker Hurricane I Combat No No Yes
Jun 1941  ? Bristol Blenheim I Training  ? No  ?
Jul 1941 May 1942 Bristol Beaufighter II F Combat No Mk.IV Yes
Jan 1942 Apr 1942 Miles Magister - Transport No No  ?
Mar 1942 Aug 1943 Bristol Beaufighter VI F Combat No Mk.? Yes
Apr 1942 Nov 1942 Miles Master - Transport No No  ?
Jul 1943 Feb 1945 Bristol Beaufighter VI F Combat No Mk.VIII Mk.III.G
Circa... Jan 1945 Hawker Hurricane II C Transport No No Yes
Jan 1945 Jan 1946 de Havilland Mosquito XIX Combat No Mk.X Yes
Jan 1946 Apr 1946 de Havilland Mosquito XXX Combat No Mk.? Yes

NOTES to accompany the table above:

Pip-Squeak was removed and IFF installed as part of the change-over from HF to VHF radios. Hence the entries "Transitional" above. The whole Pip-Squeak system was obsolescent by 1941.
All AI equipment was removed from the Squadron's aircraft in November 1942, before travel to Africa. Some was re-installed later the same month in Algeria and the remainder in December 1942.
New aircraft equipped with Mk.VIII AI started arriving 03 Jul 1943 at La Sebala II. The change-over continued until about 05 August; the exact date is unclear from the ORB.
Mosquito XIX aircraft were not normally fitted with Mk.X AI; this is a rare example.
[51] [52] [53]

Known serials[edit]

The following Airco DH6 aircraft are believed to have been flown by the squadron during the period 6 July 1918 to 11 November 1918. Possible errors arise in part because the prefix letter was not always recorded in the Sortie Report and in part because some of the entries were written in minute handwriting, hard to read from a carbon copy nearly 100 years old. The squadron did eventually acquire a typewriter, but it was not accompanied by a proficient typist! Many errors were simply over-typed, creating ambiguity, but the following list is believed to be reasonably accurate:

B.2771, B.2789, B.3038, B.3039, C.2067, C.5521, C.5524, C.7346 and/or C.7436, C.9412, C.9413, C.9415, C.9418, C.9423, C.9428, C.9430, C.9438, C.9439, C.9440, F.3349, F.3350, F.3351, F.3353, F.3354, F.3367, F.9340.

--

Bolton Paul Defiant Mk.I aircraft flown whilst the squadron was at Kirton Lindsey and Hibaldstow. This list is believed to be complete:

N.1581, N.1617, N.1649, N.1727, N.1740, N.1765, N.1770, N.1810, N.3309, N.3310, N.3306, N.3312, N.3316, N.3318, N.3319, N.3321, N.3323, N.3324, N.3328, N.3329, N.3333, N.3334, N.3335, N.3340, N.3364, N.3378, N.3398, N.3422, N.3442, N.3458, N.3472, N.3481, N.3511, N.3739, N.3998, T.3920, T.3995, T.3998, T.4003, T.4005, T.4045.

--

Hurricane Mk.I aircraft used at various times by the Squadron in the UK. This list is believed to be complete:

V.6793, V.6796, V.6955, V.7222, V.7286, V.7304.

--

Blenheim Mk.I aircraft were initially used by the squadron for the purpose of basic training on twin-engined machines, prior to flying Mk.II Beaufighters, and thereafter for transport. This list may be incomplete:

L.1223, L.1301, L.8660.

--

Beaufighter Mk.II.F aircraft used at various times by the Squadron in the UK. This list is believed to be complete:

R.2276, R.2304, R.2308, R.2309, R.2310, R.2313, R.2333, R.2340, R.2370, R.2377, R.2397, R.2398, R.2399, R.2400, R.2401, R.2402, R.2403, R.2404, R.2430, R.2431, R.2432, R.2433, R.2436, R.2448, R.2460, R.2461, R.2470, R.2480, R.2481, R.2488, T.3011, T.3013, T.3016, T.3018, T.3023, T.3061, T.3073, T.3143.

--

Miles Magister aircraft used by the Squadron in the UK. This list may not be complete:

BB.650, BB.665

--

Miles Master aircraft used by the Squadron in the UK:

At least one, no serial(s) known.


Tales from the Dispersal Hut[edit]

Dispersal Huts were, by their very nature, remote from the main buildings of any airfield. They afforded aircrew not only a place to relax whilst awaiting a "Scramble!", but also a considerable degree of informality. Ideal for exchanging gossip, as well as tales of both daring do and misfortune. This section of the squadron's Wikipedia page is a compendium of such yarns known to have at least some basis in fact...

The Broken Leg[edit]

On 2 April 1942 Pilot Officer DAVISON (Pilot) and Sergeant BLACKBURN (Radio Operator) of No.255 Squadron became obliged to abort a take-off from RAF Shawbury. The aircraft involved was R.2460, a Beaufighter II, which veered off the runway and crashed into a hut occupied by a civilian watchkeeper. The elderly man went into severe shock... "this no doubt due to the grave disability he suffered when he realised that his wooden leg had been broken".[54]

The bemused Naval gunner[edit]

14 Dec 1942 : Squadron Leader PLAYER [Pilot] and Freddie LAMMER [Navigator/Radio] went off on a dawn patrol and thought what fun it would be to do an A.I. sweep out to sea at nought feet. This they did, and fun it was until they made an uncomfortably close acquaintance with several 4.5" shells from a cruiser lurking in the vicinity. Being blissfully in ignorance of the correct letter and colours of the day (after all, they were roughing it at Souk and can't be expected to provide all the latest, pansy conveniences) a quick conversation was held (bang!) between Johnnie and Freddie and it was decided (bang!!) to fire off a "red red" which had for simplicity's sake been appointed our permanent colour of the day (bang!!!) just for luck. The firing miraculously stopped at once and our crew departed from the scene of action in perfect peace.

The statement made on landing by our pilot and navigator i.e. that on firing the "red red" signal cartridges they distinctly saw the gunner on board the cruiser scratch his head and then fidget with several printed sheets of paper in a file, looking lost and bewildered all the while, was not given due credence by their fellow aircrews. Some ignorant fellows who did not shrink from going to ridiculous extremes in their injustice, actually called it "shooting a line".[55][56]

Farmer and Quack's Concert[edit]

"Farmer" Giles and "Quack" Drake flew together on night sorties as members of 255 Squadron. On one particular night in 1943, flying over the Adriatic, the patrol was uneventful and dull. Farmer and Maurice had been up all night and were both desperate to sleep but had another hour and a half of flying before they could return to base. Farmer decided the only way to stave off sleep was if they both sang for a while. Half an hour and a multitude of songs later, both were wide awake and up to facing the rest of the sortie. They thought that was the end of that, but about a year later an RAF Intelligence Officer who was reading through German Intelligence reports found transcripts from a plane that Farmer and Maurice had been flying. He was astonished to find not sensitive military information but page upon page of extremely bawdy songs and one in particular that caught his eye – Bang away, bang away Lulu, Bang away good and strong. One thing led to another and before long Giles and Drake were summoned to face the music. The Group Captain pointed out that they could both have been court-martialled for negligence in leaving the intercom on Transmit if they had been discussing the secrets of radar or squadron movements. As it was, however, he decided highly to commend the pair of them since German Intelligence had clearly spent hour upon hour trying to discover what new code was involved in all those four-letter words that had been filling the airwaves![57]

Follow that kitbag![edit]

18 August 1944 at Foggia Main, Italy... Around 16:00 hours the weather became overcast and many miniature whirlwinds sprung up. One of these increased in intensity and went through "C" Flight dispersal, wrecking all the tents and blowing about stationary aircraft. [A Beaufighter, empty, weighed around 7 tonnes.] It continued, with a great roar and much clattering of tins (collected in its spiral) towards the officers quarters where it completely demolished one tent, flinging a kitbag as far away as 150 yards. Shortly after the whirlwind's disappearance the clouds burst and a great deluge started. There were hailstones as big as golf balls, and a fierce storm developed which flooded the camp.[58]

Miscellany[edit]

WWII Phonetic Alphabet[edit]

The phonetic alphabet as used by both British and American forces at the time of WWII was: ABLE, BAKER, CHARLIE, DOG, EASY, FOX, GEORGE, HOW, ITEM, JIG, KING, LOVE, MIKE, NAN, OBOE, PETER, QUEEN, ROGER, SUGAR, TARE, UNCLE, VICTOR, WILLIAM, XRAY, YOKE, ZEBRA.

Acronyms, Abbreviations and Slang[edit]

Readers consulting this wikipedia page or the original documentation used to compile it will encounter numerous instances of possibly unfamiliar terminology. The following may help with interpretation:

Ack-Ack : WWII term for anti-aircraft artillery, in modern parlance "Triple A".
AI : Literally, "Airborne Interception" - true meaning: Aircraft-mounted Radar.
AMES : Air Ministry Experimental Station - true meaning: A site equipped with Radar.
AOC : Air Officer Commanding.
AP : Air Publication (number....).
ASR : Air Sea Rescue.
AWOL : Absent WithOut Leave.
BHP : Brake Horsepower
CAT : Damage Category.
CHL : Chain Home Low. Ground-based radar in the UK, able to detect low-flying aircraft.
C/O : Commanding Officer.
COL : Chain Overseas Low. As CHL, but located overseas and nominally comprising "portable" equipment.
CRT : Cathode Ray Tube, used as a visual display of radar echoes.
DAK : The German term for Rommel's forces in North Africa. Acronym expands as Deutsches Afrikakorps, properly written in the German language as two words rather than three.
DED : Directorate of Engine Development.
DI's : Daily Inspections (of aircraft, especially).
EA or E/A : Enemy Aircraft.
EAC : Eastern Air Command.
E/F : Engine failure.
FME : Field Maintenance Equipment.
Form 441A : Standard report of a sortie, even if uneventful. For an example of a rare surviving Form 441A relating to No.255 Squadron, see AIR50/98/14.
Form 449 : Monthly return of Officers and Airman Pilots. In effect, a roll call of officers and aircrew. Few of these survive for No.255 Squadron, but a similar list (usually minus Identity Disc numbers) often appears as the last entry in the month's Form 540.
Form 540 : The standard printed form used to compile the Operations Record Book.
Form 541 : Appendix to Form 540, detailing Active Service sorties but not (usually) training or engineering test flights – unless something went wrong.
Form 765C : Report of an incident involving equipment failure.
Form 1180 : Card index system abbreviating accident reports, to aid analysis of causes.
Form F : Aircrew report of combat.
f.p. : Flare Path.
FS : Fast Speed (a gear setting on the Merlin XX engine's supercharger).
GCI : Ground-Controlled Interception.
Gubbins : One of several slang names for AI radar equipment.
Huff-Duff : A corruption of HF/DF, meaning High Frequency Direction Finding. In Squadron terms this was typically but not exclusively associated with the Pip-Squeak fighter tracking system fitted to the Squadron's early Bolton Paul Defiant I aircraft. Do not confuse with Sir Hugh Pughe Lloyd's nickname Huff-Puff.
Hun : Derogatory reference to a German person or a German aircraft.
IAS : Indicated Air Speed.
IMI : A question mark in Morse Code. Dit-Dit-Dah-Dah-Dit-Dit, like the individual Morse Code letters IMI, but run together.
ITI : (Pronounced "Eye-tie"). Derogatory reference to an Italian person or an Italian aircraft.
Jinkbox : One of several slang names for AI radar equipment.
MAC : Mediterranean Air Command.
MAFOG : Mediterranean Area Fighter Operations Grid. Introduced at 00:01Z, 20 May 1943, this was a coded grid reference system common to all Allied air forces in the region, simplifying and expediting exchange of Latitude/Longitude positions. The smallest division printed on charts identified an area ten minutes of latitude by ten minutes of longitude; finer resolution was estimated by eye.[59]
M/Cs : Megacycles per second. Same meaning as MHz (Megahertz) in modern terminology.
Monica : Active tail warning radar, alerting aircrew to possible imminent attack.[60]
Mother : A working piece of kit assembled from fragments salvaged from crashed aircraft or similar sources.
MS : Medium Speed (a gear setting on the Merlin XX engine's supercharger).
NACAF : Northwest African Coastal Air Force.
NATAF : Northwest African Tactical Air Force.
NFT : Night Flying Test.
OADU : Overseas Aircraft Delivery Unit.
Octane : A measure of the energy content of petrol (US English - "Gas" or "Gasoline").
ORB : Operations Record Book. The master pages of the unit's record-keeping (be the "unit" a squadron, an airfield, a radar station or whatever). Usually compiled on a Form 540, but sometimes supplies of these ran out – forcing units to improvise.
OTU : Operational Training Unit. Final training location before being posted to a squadron.
PE : Permanent echo; a 'blip' on the radar screen that's always there, caused by reflection of the radar transmission from a fixed natural or man-made object.
PPI : Plan position indicator. The modern form of radar display, where the observer's position is in the middle of the screen and targets appear as slow-to-fade blips. Increasing distance from the centre equates to increasing range. Before the development of PPI, the trace on the Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) was a horizontal line, with targets appearing as spikes on it, range represented by distance (usually left-to-right) on the display.
PRO : The Public Record Office, former custodians of the squadron's historical records and forerunner of The National Archives.
RADAR : Radio Aid to Direction And Ranging.
RAE : The Royal Aircraft Establishment. At the time of WWII, the RAE had only one site, at Farnborough.
RAFVR : Royal Air Force Voluntary Reserve.
Railings : Deliberate interference ("jamming") of a radio or radar signal, generally by means of an amplitude modulated transmission on the same frequency. In the case of radar of WWII era, it appeared on the GCI Controller's screen as a series of very sharp spikes.[61]
RDF : Literally, Radio Direction Finding, but the expression was used as a cover name for Radar rather than literally.
R/T : Radio Telephone.
RX : Radar or Radio Receiver.
Sommerfeld : Sommerfeld Tracking, a metallic mesh laid as a temporary runway surface. Often mis-spelled 'Summerfield' or 'Sommerfield'.
Squitters : Diahorrea.
TNA : The National Archives (successor to the Public Record Office).
TX : Radar or Radio Transmitter.
U/C : Undercarriage.
under [Codename] : Identifies by Callsign which GCI/AMES station was acting as an aircraft's Ground Controller.
WSE : Whilst so employed (usually found in respect of a temporary promotion).
Z : Time zone, same as GMT/UTC.


Nickname Decoder 1940–1946[edit]

The following nicknames, not all flattering, appear in a number of sources. Many will have been duplicated elsewhere in the Royal Air Force. Therefore this Decoder should be regarded as applicable only to No.255 Squadron and those in the immediate chain of command, plus the Radar/GCI (AMES) units acting as the squadron's Controllers. Ranks are those appearing in the official record at the approximate time that the nickname was in use. Subsequent promotions are not listed - for example, both Bing and Huff-Puff rose to the rank of Air Chief Marshall before retiring. Awards (DFC, MBE and so on) are omitted for brevity and to avoid apparent inaccuracies arising from frequent changes.

Nickname Real ID Function
Andy 106674 Walter Thomas CUNNINGHAM Senior Navigator
Bing 29065 Air Commodore Kenneth Brian Boyd CROSS AOC No.242 Group
Blondie 66570 Flying Officer Geoffrey HUMES Pilot
Cobber 116694 Flying Officer R.H. KANE Navigator
Donald Duck Flight Lieutenant ROEBUCK GCI Controller
Farmer 121291 Flying Officer D. GILES Pilot
Führer, The 33168 Wing Commander D.P.D.G. (Piers) KELLY Squadron Leader
Grandad/Kneebone(s) 136496 Flight Lieutenant George W. ELEY Navigator
Hickie 109497 Flying Officer E.S. HICKMORE Navigator
Huff-Puff 04113 Air Vice Marshall Sir Hugh Pughe LLOYD AOC NACAF
Mary Air Marshall Sir Arthur CONINGHAM AOC NATAF
Master Scrounger, The 112517 Flying Officer Ronnie WYNZAR Navigator
Masterly Manipulator, The 81940 Flight Lieutenant Freddie LAMMER Navigator
Quack 171081 Pilot Officer Frederick Maurice DRAKE Navigator
Sandy 111977 Flying Officer L.H. SANDOW Navigator
Sultan of Sopley, The 74440 Squadron Leader John Laurence BROWN GCI Controller
Titch 65559 Flying Officer M.J. GLOSTER Pilot
Wilbur 05393 Flight Lieutenant P.C. WRIGHT Engineering Officer


References[edit]

  1. ^ Jefford C.G. (2001). RAF Squadrons (2nd Edition). Shrewsbury UK:Airlife, p.12. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  2. ^ Idem, p.81.
  3. ^ Bones Aviation Page, "UK Airfields Macmerry to Syerston" downloaded 09 June 2014.
  4. ^ John Evans on behalf of the Pembroke Dock Community Web Project, "The History of Pembroke Dock" downloaded 09 June 2014.
  5. ^ Dyfed Archeological Trust. "Twentieth Century Military Sites: Airfields. A threat-related assessment 2011–2012, p.29.
  6. ^ a b TNA : AIR1/485/15/312/269 folio 156.
  7. ^ TNA : ADM273/7/9.
  8. ^ TNA : AIR1/485/15/312/269 folio 163.
  9. ^ TNA : WO339/65814.
  10. ^ TNA : AIR76/217/136.
  11. ^ Supplement to the Edinburgh Gazette, 6 Jan 1919, page 73.
  12. ^ Bilbé, T. (2013). Kingsnorth Airship Station, Stroud:The History Press, p.123. ISBN 9780752491530.
  13. ^ Wilkes, K. (1977). Ocean Yacht Navigator (2nd edition with corrections) Lymington:Nautical Publishing. p.15. ISBN 0-245-52968-3.
  14. ^ TNA : AIR1/486/15/312/271 folio 96.
  15. ^ Smith, G. "TRIBUTE to BRITISH SHIPBUILDING and REPAIR INDUSTRIES 1914–18, including Royal Naval Dockyards and Research Establishments." Part 3 of 3, Chart 2 (Portsmouth).
  16. ^ TNA : AIR1/485/15/312/269 folio 169.
  17. ^ Idem, folio 171.
  18. ^ Service record – TNA : AIR76/396/168.
  19. ^ TNA : AIR1/485/15/312/269 folio 100.
  20. ^ TNA : AIR1/419/15/245/1 folio 518.
  21. ^ TNA : ADM239/26 tab 1292F folio 167.
  22. ^ "Historical record relating to U52" downloaded 9 June 2014.
  23. ^ "Historical record relating to Franz KRAPOHL" downloaded 9 June 2014.
  24. ^ "Discussion on U-boat.net".
  25. ^ Langley-Price P. and Ouvry P. (1985), Competent Crew, London:Adlard Coles. p.83-84. ISBN 0-229-11736-8.
  26. ^ Admiralty Chart No.1179 (England, West Coast, Bristol Channel, 1918 Edition), reserve stock in the Library of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
  27. ^ Turpin, B. British Naval Airships 1909–1921, to be published 2015. Pers Corr with the author.
  28. ^ TNA : AIR1/419/15/245/1 folio 785.
  29. ^ For details of what is to be found in Operations Record Books, see http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/raf-operations-record-books.htm
  30. ^ TNA : AIR27/1518
  31. ^ TNA : AIR28/427 (Overview, various dates 1940–1941).
  32. ^ TNA : AIR27/1518 folio 6.
  33. ^ TNA : AIR27/1518 folio 7
  34. ^ Duxford Radio Society : http://www.duxfordradiosociety.org/equiphist/pip-squeak/pip-squeak.html
  35. ^ TNA : AIR27/1518 folio 8
  36. ^ TNA : AIR27/1518 folio 11a side 2.
  37. ^ TNA : AIR27/1518 folio 19 side 2.
  38. ^ TNA : AIR27/1518 folio 25 side 1.
  39. ^ TNA : AIR27/1518 folio 25 side 2.
  40. ^ TNA : AIR27/1518 folio 29 side 1.
  41. ^ TNA : AIR27/1518 folio 30 side 1.
  42. ^ TNA : AIR50/98/4.
  43. ^ TNA : AIR27/1518 folio 29 side 2.
  44. ^ TNA : AIR27/1518 folio 35 side 1.
  45. ^ Form 1180 relating to this incident, filed in the library of the RAF Museum, Hendon.
  46. ^ TNA : AIR27/1518 folio 36 side 2
  47. ^ TNA : AIR2/6466 folios 1A and 1B.
  48. ^ TNA : AIR2/6466 folio 11A.
  49. ^ Pers.Corr. July 2014 between 255 Squadron Association, the College of Arms, The National Archives and Air Historical Branch.
  50. ^ TNA : AIR27/1518 folio 67 et seq.
  51. ^ Halley, J. J. (1988). The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth 1918-1988 Tonbridge:Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p. 323. ISBN 0-85130-164-9
  52. ^ TNA : AIR27/1518, various folios.
  53. ^ TNA : AIR27/1519, various folios.
  54. ^ TNA : AIR27/1518 folio 72 side 1.
  55. ^ Extract from the December 1942 section of the squadron's unofficial 'alternative' war diary. Unfortunately, not all of this highly revealing document survives.
  56. ^ TNA : AIR27/1521 folio 19 side 2.
  57. ^ Transcript of the eulogy delivered from the pulpit of St. Nicholas' Church, Harpenden, at a Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Sir Frederick Maurice Drake, DFC, 23 April 2014. Reproduced here with the kind consent of the Drake family.
  58. ^ TNA : AIR27/1519 folio 79 side 2.
  59. ^ TNA : WO201/2639 folio 2a.
  60. ^ Bingham, V. (1994). Bristol Beaufighter. Shrewsbury : Airlife Publishing. p.85.
  61. ^ Pers Corr with Squadron Leader Mike Dean, MBE, of the Historical Radar Archive.


Bibliography[edit]

Aarons, N. (2011). "The Aristocrat and the Balkan Communists." Series 1, Episode 13 of Secret War. 50 minute video, Acorn Media, 29 Jun 2011. The background story explaining No.255 Squadron's involvement in the Balkans.

Admiralty, The (1919). C.B.1515(22) Technical History and Index, Vol.3 Part 22 of THE WAR WORK OF THE HYDROGRAPHIC DEPARTMENT(1914–1918). London:Technical History Section, Admiralty. This lengthy work, originally secret and for internal use only but now declassified, includes details of the cartographic theory, production, coverage and use of Squared Charts. Short title "TH.22". Available as a .pdf file from the archivist of the UK Hydrographic Office, Taunton.

Beale, N. (2001). Ghost Bombers : The Moonlight War of NSG 9, Crowborough : Classic Publications. ISBN 1-903223-15-6. The background to No.255 Squadron's involvement in the Battle of Ancona, Italy, July 1944, analysed primarily from the Luftwaffe perspective.

Bingham, V. (1994). Bristol Beaufighter. Shrewsbury : Airlife Publishing. ISBN 1-85310-122-2.

Brock, D. (1989, 2008). Wings Over Carew, Milford Haven:Forrest Print. A 36-page collection of photographs of RNAS/RAF Pembroke (1915–1920) and RAF Carew Cheriton (1939–1945) plus, in the second edition, details of the restoration of the control tower ("Watch Office") in the years 2000–2008.

Cross, Sir K. and Orange, V. (1993). Straight and Level, London:Grub Street. This account of the RAF career of Kenneth 'Bing' Cross does not specifically mention No.255 Squadron, but does provide an insight into the Senior Officers' view of the Tunisian campaign and NACAF (North-west African Coastal Air Force), Bing holding the rank of Air Commodore at the time. Relevant part commences at p.229. ISBN 0-948817-72-0.

Cunningham, A. (1953). Tumult in the Clouds, London:Peter Davies. An authorised reprint of articles that originally appeared during WWII in the Royal Air Force Quarterly. Andrew Cunningham was a nom-de-plume; the author's true identity being Walter Thomas Cunningham (1911–1979), one time Senior Navigator of No.255 Squadron. The content is not quite as fictitious as the Author’s Note in the preface might suggest. For example, compare pp.166–167 of Tumult with the bibliographic reference Eley, G.W. (1944) below.

Eley, G.W. (1944). Night Fighting : Five hours of a navigator's life. Originally written as a private diary record, this account of one No.255 Squadron intruder mission was published by the BBC in 2005 and is archived on The People's War website.

Horlings, H. (2008–2010). "Controlling Multi-Engine Airplanes after Engine Failure" A mathematical approach to describing the asymmetrical forces at work when a multi-engined aircraft suffers an engine failure.

Pretz, B. (1983). A Dictionary of Military and Technological Abbreviations & Acronyms, London, Boston, Melbourne and Henley : Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 0-7100-9274-1.

Skybrary (2013). "Engine failure after takeoff – light twin engine aircraft." A non-mathematical approach to describing the essentials of retaining control during such an emergency. Page edition date: 13 June 2013.

Wisdom, T.H. (1944). Triumph over Tunisia. London:George Allen & Unwin. The author, a Wing Commander and member of the Press Corps, was writing subject to wartime censorship. In consequence, not all squadrons are identified but the first part of Chapter 14, "Hunters of the Night Sky", can be linked to No.255 Squadron through the many genuine names of both people and places appearing on pages 110–118.

Wynne-Willson, M.F. (1996, 2003). Before I Forget! Bloomington:1stBooks. Volume One of the autobiography of No.255 Squadron pilot Michael F. Wynne-Willson (1919–2013). His very revealing account of squadron life begins at page 148 and, at page 163, identifies supercharger failures as a relevant factor in many take-off accidents involving Mk.II Beaufighters (Page numbers refer to the 10 May 2001 revision).


External links[edit]