Traces of World War 2 
                  RAF - No. 233 Squadron
                  10/05/1940 - 30/06/1940

                  home - latest update 12 September 2014

233 SQUADRON - General reconnaissance, Lockheed Hudson
Coastal Command

History | Operations and losses | Sources | Links | Books |

On 18 May 1937, No.233 reformed at Tandmere as a general reconnaissance squadron with Ansons and in August 1939, moved to Scotland and began to convert to Hudsons. Patrols were carried out with both types for the first weeks of World War Two, the last by Ansons taking place on 10 October. A Flight of Blenheims was added at the end of October and flew patrols until January 1940, when it was detached to Bircham Newton to form the basis of No.235 Squadron.

Lockheed A-29 Hudson USAAF, circa 1941
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force photo 051122-F-1234P-014

Anti-shipping sweeps began after the German invaded Norway in April 1940 and continued until December 1940, when the squadron moved to Northern Ireland. In August 1941, No.233 moved to Cornwall to fly patrols over the Bay of Biscay and in December a detachment was sent sent to Gibraltar which was joined by the rest of the squadron in July 1942, where it remained until February 1944.

A detachment was based in the Azores from October 1943 to February 1944, and after No.233 returned to the UK, it was re-equipped with Dakotas for work with Airbourne forces. On D-day, thirty aircraft took gliders and paratroops to Normandy, followed later in the day by twenty-one more supply flights, four aircraft being lost. After carrying out casualty evacuation flights from the beachhead, it supplied thirty-seven sorties to the Arnhem airlift during the first two days, followed by thirty-five re-supply missions, which lost three aircraft in the process.

After general transport duties between the UK and Allied-occupied Europe, twenty-four Dakotas were provided for the last major airbourne attack over the Rhine in March 1945 and in August the squadron began moving to India. By the time it had assembled, the Japanese had surrendered and after a period of general transport duties in South-East Asia, the squadron merged with No.215 Squadron on 15 December 1945.

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Operations and losses 10/05/1940 - 30/06/1940
Not all operations listed; those with fatal losses are.

05/06/1940: Patrol, North Sea. 1 Plane lost, 4 MIA
19/06/1940: Reconnaissance, Norway
21/06/1940: Scharnhorst, Norway. 1 Plane lost, 1 KIA, 3 MIA

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FATALITIES 01/01/1940 - 09/05/1940 (incomplete)

Lockheed Hudson I
Serial number: N7256, ZS-L
Operation: Air Test
Lost: 07/01/1940
Sergeant (Pilot) Francis F. Bousfield, RAF 565845, 233 Sqdn., age 24, 07/01/1940, Oldham (Hollinwood) Cemetery, UK
Sergeant (Pilot) Frank F. Hallam, RAF 564213, 233 Sqdn., age 26, 07/01/1940, Loxley United Reformed Chapelyard, UK
Leading Aircraftman (W. Op.) Arthur W. Smith, RAF 550814, 233 Sqdn., age 20, 07/01/1940, Haltemprice (Hessle) Cemetery, UK
Mr R.K. Beattie - KIA (civilian contractor)
? - KIA (civilian contractor)
Took off from St Athan. During flight test after installation of ASV radar, strayed off course into the cloud covered Mynydd Maendy, near Nant-y-Moel, Glamorgan.
CWGC and Ross McNeill, 'Coastal Command Losses of the Second World War, Volume 1 (1939-1941)'

Pilot Officer (Pilot) Arthur E. Evans, RAF 41162, 233 Sqdn., age 22, 11/04/1940, Trowbridge Cemetery, UK


Type: Lockheed Hudson I
Serial number: N7258, ZS-J
Operation: Special
Lost: 12/04/1940
Flight Lieutenant Andrew H. McLaren, RAF 39019, DFC, 233 Sqdn., age 21, 12/04/1940, missing
Leading Aircraftman James Alexander Milne, RAF 610765, 233 Sqdn., age 19, 12/04/1940, missing
Pilot Officer George J.D. Yorke, RAF 36185 (NZ), 233 Sqdn., age 25, 12/04/1940, missing
Corporal Matthew Wilson, RAF 522495, 233 Sqdn., age unknown, 12/04/1940, missing

Took off from Leuchars at 07.28 hrs. Set out to intercept and shadow an enemy naval task force believed to include the Scharnhorst and two Hipper-class cruisers. Whilst shadowing Scharnhorst it is believed that the Hudson was shot down SW of Kristiansand [Norway] by Oberleutnant Carmann of II/JG77 at 13:55 hrs. P/O Yorke, a New Zealander from Wellington, who was involved in the first submarine attack of the war, and his crew, are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Bombers from Bomber Command attacked the German naval forces. 9, 38, 44, 50 and 149 Squadron lost 4 Wellingtons and 6 Hampdens. 6 KIA, 39 MIA, 3 POW.

Picture left: James Alexander Milne, one of the crew members of Hudson N7258, ZS-J.
Courtesy Mrs Carol Johnstone, 2014.

Sources: CWGC; Ross McNeill, 'Coastal Command Losses of the Second World War, Volume 1 (1939-1941)' and W.R. Chorley. Bomber Command losses 1939-1940'.

Sergeant (Pilot) Reginald S. Callinan, RAF 580171 (NZ), 233 Sqdn., age 29, 13/04/1940, Sola Churchyard, Norway
Leading Aircraftman (Air Gnr.) Thomas Liddle, RAF 568502, 233 Sqdn., age 20, 13/04/1940, Sola Churchyard, Norway
Leading Aircraftman (W.Op.) Peter Murray, RAF 524858, 233 Sqdn., age 22, 13/04/1940, Sola Churchyard, Norway
Sergeant (Pilot) John S. Scarffe, RAF 529786, 233 Sqdn., age 26, 13/04/1940, Sola Churchyard, Norway

Leading Aircraftman Alexander R.S. Brown, RAF 531388, 233 Sqdn., age 23, 14/04/1940, missing
Sergeant John L. Hawken, RAF 564188, DFM, 233 Sqdn., age 26, 14/04/1940, missing
Aircraftman 1st Class Thomas W. Lerway, RAF 552657, 233 Sqdn., age 18, 14/04/1940, missing
Sergeant Samuel McCrossan, RAF 520724, 233 Sqdn., age 24, 14/04/1940, missing

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05/06/1940: Patrol, North Sea

At 14:30 on 5 June Thomas W. 'Jock' Gillen (of Fighter Flight, RAF Sumburgh) intercepted a Do17 eight miles north of Lerwick at 7,000 feet. He reported that the rear gunner was killed (was put out of action?) and that one engine was set on fire. The enemy aircraft was last seen dive vertically into the sea. Due to bad weather Gillen force-landed at Scatsta near Sullom Voe.

This loss however has not been possible to connect with any known Luftwaffe loss. However, a Hudson ('S' N7255) of 233 Squadron, flown by Flying Officer James Dunn (RAF no. 39508) was posted missing on a patrol in this area on the same date and it is possible that this may have been a tragic blue on blue. (Source: Biplane Fighter Aces from the Second World War)

Lockheed Hudson
Serial number: N7255, ZS-S
Operation: Patrol
Lost: 05/06/1940
Sergeant Raymond C. Dodd, RAF 530700, 233 Sqdn., age 24, 05/06/1940, missing - (Lost in the North Sea off the Belgian Coast?)
Flying Officer James Dunn, RAF 39508, 233 Sqdn., age unknown, 05/06/1940, missing
Pilot Officer John L. Piercey, RAF 44776, 233 Sqdn., age 25, 05/06/1940, missing
Corporal Robert Purves, RAF 549286, 233 Sqdn., age 25, 05/06/1940, missing
Took off at 20.20 hrs from Leuchars.

Sources: CWGC and Ross McNeill, 'Coastal Command Losses of the Second World War, Volume 1 (1939-1941)'

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19/06/1940: Reconnaissance, Norway

A typical patrol was flown on 19 June by Flying Officer Tacon [Taco Nobit?] as captain of a Hudson of No. 233 Squadron. Detailed to reconnoitre Kristiansand, he took off from Leuchars airfield in Scotland shortly before dawn, and after two hours' flying across the North Sea a landfall was made on the Norwegian coast. At first the crew were unable to locate their objective through the cloud and rain, but eventually the harbour was found and a temporary break in the sky enabled photographs to be taken. Tacon then flew over the town to release a stick of bombs on the neighbouring airfield. Ships seen in other fiords were then photographed before the Hudson began the return flight.

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21/06/1940: Scharnhorst, Norway

Type: Lockheed Hudson I
Serial number: N7246, ZS-X
Operation: Scharnhorst
Lost: 21/06/1940
Squadron Leader Dunstan Y. Feeny, RAF 32076, 233 Sqdn., age 27, 21/06/1940, missing
Flying Officer (Pilot) Charles A. Wallis, RAF 39180, 233 Sqdn., age 24, 21/06/1940, Haugesund (Rossebo) Var Frelsers Cemetery, Norway
Sergeant Charles G.M. Wilson, RAF 519827, 233 Sqdn., age 23, 21/06/1940, missing
Sergeant George W.E. Walton, RAF 568459, 233 Sqdn., age 20, 21/06/1940, missing

Took of at 12.45 hrs from Leuchars. Set course with N7340 and two aircrafr from 224 Squadron to attack the Scharnhorst and eight German destroyers.

The flight located their objective in position LXOX 2543 on course 065° True, speed 25 kts. an attack was carried out with 2x500 lb s.A.P. bombs on bearing of 310° True, but the bombs overshot by 200 yards. Intense flak was encountered and the flight was engaged by between 40 and 50 Me 110 and Me 109 fighters.

S/L Feeny's aircraft was shot down in flames off Utsire. other aircraft in the formation were badly damaged. Oblt Jung of 5./JG77 claimed to have shot down this plane.

Sources: CWGC and Ross McNeill, 'Coastal Command Losses of the Second World War, Volume 1 (1939-1941)'

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Air of Authority- 233 Squadron
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database
Australian War Memorial
Bail-outs for 1940
Canadian Virtual War Memorial
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
New Zealanders with the Royal Air Force; bombing and reconnaissance 1940
Obituary Air Commodore 'Bill' Tacon (2003)
Prisoners of War captured in Europe 1940
Royal Air Force - 233 Squadron
RAF - Campaign Diary - The Battle of France (May-June 1940)
RAF Museum: British Military Aviation in 1940
RAF Order of Battle, France, 10th May 1940
Royal Air Force History Section
The Royal Air Force, 1939-1945
The Second World War - a day by day account

The War in France and Flanders, 1939-1940, by Major L.F. Ellis, 1954

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G Edwards 'Norwegian Patrol - RAF 233 Squadron in WW2' (Airlife 1985)
G Edwards 'Head in the Clouds' (Airlife 1996)
Ross McNeill, Coastal Command Losses of the Second World War, Volume 1 (1939-1941), Midland publishing, 2003. ISBN: 1 85780 128 8

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This page is dedicated to the men of 233 Squadron.

© Bart FM Droog / Rottend Staal Online 2008-2014. Permission granted for use of the data gathered here for non commercial purposes, if this source is mentioned with a link to