Traces of World War 2 
RAF - No. 263 Squadron
10/05/1940 - 30/06/1940

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SQUADRON - Fighter, Gloster Gladiator and Hawker Hurricane Mk I

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On 2 October 1939, No 263 reformed at Filton as a fighter squadron. Equipped with Gladiators, it was sent to Norway in April 1940, in an attempt to give air cover for British and Norwegian forces. Operating from a frozen lake, it had all its aircraft rendered unfit for action within three days and returned to the UK to re-equip. In May, the squadron arrived back in Norway, this time further north and flew patrols until the Allied forces were withdrawn from Narvik. Its aircraft embarked on the carrier 'Glorious', which was sunk en route to the UK by German surface ships.

On 12 June 1940, ground staff began to arrive at Drem to reform the squadron, which was intended to be the first with Whirlwind twin-engined fighters, meanwhile some Hurricanes were received.


Grangemouth 28 June 1940
Drem 2 September 1940

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

17/05/1940: Firearms accident, Norway. 1 KIA
21/05/1940: transfer HMS Furious - Norway. 2 Planes lost, 1 KIA
22/05/1940: Norway. 1 Plane lost, 1 KIA
24/05/1940: Norway
26/05/1940: Norway
27/05/1940: Norway. 2 KIA (ground).
27/05/1940: Norway. 2 Planes lost, 2 WIA
28/05/1940: Norway
29/05/1940: Norway
02/06/1940: Norway. 1 Plane lost, 1 KIA
08-10/06/1940: Sinking of HMS Glorious
: 10 Planes lost, 10 MIA

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

Pilot Officer (Pilot) Darrell E.D. Milsom, RAF 33466, 263 Sqdn., age 20, 29/03/1940, Bristol (Canford) Cemetery, UK
Pilot Officer (Pilot) Patrick J.M. Nettleton, RAF 33483, 263 Sqdn., age 21, 29/03/1940, Bristol (Canford) Cemetery, UK

Sergeant Kenneth P. Vickery, RAF 566236, 263 Sqdn., age unknown, 07/04/1940, missing

Pilot Officer (Pilot) Cornelius D. Gordon-Wilson, RAFVR 76314, 263 Sqdn., age unknown, 21/04/1940, Whyteleafe (St. Luke ) Churchyard, UK

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17/05/1940: Firearms accident, Norway

Warrant Officer Harold A. James, RAF 366128, age 31, 17/05/1940, Harstad Cemetery, Norway
Killed as a result of a firearms accident when a 'revolver was accidentally discharged'. This occurred whilst convoying supplies up from the port to the airfield. W/O James was ground crew. Source: RAF Commands Forum

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21/05/1940: Norway

263 Squadron flew off HMS Furious on 21 May to land at Bardufoss, guided by a Fairey Swordfish from 818 Squadron, to fly to Bardufoss. The planes got lost in the snow and fog. Three planes (two Gladiators and the Swordfish) crashed into the mountain Høystakktind between Sifjord and Osterfjord. The Swordfish crew survived the crash, and were rescued.

See this page for photos of the wrecks and crash location

Type: Gloster Gladiator
Serial number: N5697, HE-?
Operation: Transfer
Lost: 21/05/1940
Pilot Officer (Pilot) Walter P. Richards, RAFVR 77340, 263 Sqdn., age 24, 21/05/1940, Harstad Cemetery, Norway

Type: Gloster Gladiator
Serial number: N5693, HE-?
Operation: Transfer
Lost: 21/05/1940
P/O Randolph Stuart Mills (WIA). P/O Mills was shipped back to England.

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22/05/1940: Norway

Type: Gloster Gladiator
Serial number: ?, HE-?
Operation: ?
Lost: 22/05/1940
Pilot Officer (Pilot) Michael A. Craig-Adams, RAF 41672, 263 Sqdn., age unknown, 22/05/1940, Narvik New Cemetery, Norway

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24/05/1940: Norway

During the afternoon of 24 May 1940 a He111 of Stabsstaffel/KG 26 strayed over Bardufoss while it was operating with four other He111s from I Gruppe over Narvik. Here it was intercepted at an altitude of 500 feet by Flying Officer H.F. Grant Ede and Flight Lieutenant William Riley. Grant Ede attacked first from the beam, then half-rolled into a stern attack and silenced the upper gunner. Riley followed with a stern quarter attack, which put the starboard engine out of action. At that moment Flight Lieutenant Hull arrived, at the end of his own patrol, and got in a burst, which stopped the other engine.

This was He111H-3 '1H+KA' (WNr. 2411) of Stabsstaffel/KG 26, which was shot down at Fjordbotneidet, Gratangen. The pilot Oberleutnant Hartmut Paul was wounded and taken POW, Oberfeldwebel Eduard Strüber (observer) was killed, Unteroffizier Gunther Eichmann (flight engineer) was taken POW, Unteroffizier Hans Blunk (air gunner) was taken POW and Feldwebel Alfred Stock (wireless operator) was killed.

During this combat was Grant Ede's Gladiator slightly damaged by return fire.

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26/05/1940: Norway

At 10.30 Flight Lieutenant Alvin T. Williams and Sergeant George S. Milligan took off together. They catched an aircraft, which they identified it as a Ju88, which were bombing the new airstrip at Skaanland. They attacked together simultaneously from above and literally cut it to pieces when they overhauled it by cutting across its turn. During the first attack the port engine caught fire. In the subsequent pass the port wing broke off and the starboard wing disintegrated. The stricken aircraft fell into the sea and burst into flames.

Their victim was in fact an elderly Do17F of 1(F)/123, which Anton Schairer had just flown up to Trondheim because 1(F)/120 was short of aircraft and personnel. Sent off immediately to Narvik, Schairer and his crew were all lost as the aircraft crashed near Skaanland.

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27/05/1940: Norway

At 09.00 on 27 May Sergeant George Milligan took off on patrol, attacking two He111 at 6000 feet between the airfield and Narvik. He was in turn attacked by a third bomber, so turned his attention to this and made four passes at it. Pouring smoke it dived into a valley in low cloud, and as with so many other aircraft, which were not seen to crash during combat, was later confirmed by the Norwegians to have crashed. The loss can’t be confirmed with German sources.

Leading Aircraftman Squire Hurley, RAF 522985, 263 Sqdn., age 26, 27/05/1940, Harstad Cemetery, Norway
Leading Aircraftman Rhys P. Jones, RAF 545400, 263 Sqdn., age unknown, 27/05/1940, Harstad Cemetery, Norway

Both killed in an air raid at Bardufoss.

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27/05/1940: Norway.

At 08:00 things started to heating up when 11 Ju87Rs from I/STG 1, escorted by three Bf110s from I/ZG 76, appeared over Bodø and began dive-bombing radio masts at Bodøsjøen, only 800 yards from the landing ground. Lieutenant Tony Lydekker took off at once, but Flight Lieutenant Caesar B. Hull and a fitter were forced to leave his Gladiator (N5635) for a few minutes and shelter from the bombing.

With the initial attack over they managed to get the fighter started and Hull took off, at once catching Feldwebel Kurt Zube's Stuka at the bottom of its dive. He caused it to fall in a gentle dive into the sea, where two Bf110s circled the wreckage. Zube and his gunner were picked up safely by German troops.

As Hull completed his attack, another Ju87 went past and shot up his aircraft, smashing the windscreen. At the same moment he was attacked from behind by one of the escorts, flown by Leutnant Helmut Lent, and the Gladiator was hard hit. Hull managed to get back to the airfield at 200 feet, but was then attacked again by the Bf110 and crashed at Bodøhalvøya, wounded in the head and knee. N5635 has been identified by serial number found on the wreckage. Lent logged his victory at 08:20 (Helmut Lent shot down another 263 Squadron Gladiator on 2 June when Pilot Officer J. L. Wilkie in N5914 was killed east of Rombaksfjorden).

Type: Gloster Gladiator
Serial number: N5635, HE-?
Operation: Intercept
Lost: 27/05/1940
F/L C.B. Hull - injured

Lydekker meanwhile was being attacked by most of the remaining Luftwaffe aircraft, his aircraft being badly shot up and himself wounded in the neck and shoulders. Unable to land at Bodø as three Stukas were circling overhead, he set course for Bardufoss at low level, where he eventually landed with his Gladiator a complete write-off. A second claim for a Gladiator was put in by Oberleutnant Jäger, shared with his gunner Stabsing. Thönes, and timed at 08:25, but this was not confirmed. Watchers on the ground at Bodø reported that the Gladiators had shot down at least three aircraft, Hull and Lydekker each having got at least one apiece. This was not in fact the case, for only one Ju87 had been lost.

Type: Gloster Gladiator
Serial number: ?, HE-?
Operation: Intercept
Lost: 27/05/1940
Lieutenant Tony Lydekker

F/L Hull was evacuated back to the UK in a Sunderland flying boat, and on 21 June was awarded a DFC, which credited him with five victories over Norway. On 31 August 1940 he was posted back to 43 Squadron as commanding officer. The unit was at the time based at Tangmere.

Ltn. Lydekker was evacuated to the UK. After recovering from his injuries he returned to his duty as the Armament Officer on the Air Staff of HMS Furious.

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28/05/1940: Norway

On an early patrol Flight Lieutenant Alvin T. Williams caught one He111 attacking a cruiser in Ofotfjord and forced it to leave pouring smoke from both engines. He was himself obliged to break off due to fuel shortage. The enemy aircraft was He111H-4 '1H+FA' of Stab/KG26 flown by Oberleutnant Streng. The Heinkel was badly damaged and force-landed at Gjømmervann, close to Bodø, during the return flight.

Another He111 tried to rescue the crew of the first one but nosed over during the take off due to snow-drifts on the lake and was destroyed. The crew was later rescued by German troops.

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29/05/1940: Norway

At 11.00 29 May three He111s from KG26 attacked Bardufoss airfield from only 2000 feet. Sergeant Milligan was scrambled at once, and was able to catch Unteroffizier Paul Richter’s bomber from 1 staffel over Narvik. This aircraft had climbed steadily to 15,000 feet, but here Milligan was able to close to 250 yards and fire for 10-15 seconds. Many pieces flew off, but before he could see any results his engine began to malfunction – possibly having ingested debris from the Heinkel – and he had to break away. Richter had to belly land his damaged aircraft near Ankenes, were the whole crew were captured and shipped to the UK.

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02/06/1940: Norway

Type: Gloster Gladiator
Serial number: ?, HE-?
Operation: ?
Lost: 02/06/1940
Pilot Officer (Pilot) James L. Wilkie, RAF 42170, 263 Sqdn., age 20, 02/06/1940, Narvik New Cemetery, Norway

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08-10/06/1940: Sinking of HMS Glorious

n the early hours on 8 June 1940, five Swordfishs led the Gladiators of 263 Squadron and the Hurricanes of 46 Squadron to the carrier HMS Glorious. The ten Gladiators landed first, followed by the Swordfishes and were stowed below with the other aircraft, the six Sea Gladiators of 802 Squadron and the balance of 823 Squadron Swordfish. Then at last the remaining seven Hurricanes made their approaches and every one was landed without undue difficulty.

No. 263 Squadron lost 10 pilots in the sinking of the Glorious, hours later.

Pilot Officer Michael A. Bentley, RAF 42184, 263 Sqdn., age unknown, 09/06/1940, missing
Squadron Leader John W. Donaldson, RAF 32074, 263 Sqdn., DSO, AFC, age 29, 09/06/1940, missing
Flying Officer Herman T.G. Ede, RAF 33307 (Bermuda), 263 Sqdn., DFC, age 23, 09/06/1940, missing
Pilot Officer Jack Falkson, RAF 41688 (South Africa), 263 Sqdn., age unknown, 08/06/1940, missing
Pilot Officer Louis R. Jacobsen, RAF 41423 (NZ), 263 Sqdn., DFC, age 25, 09/06/1940, missing
Pilot Officer Sidney R. McNamara, RAF 41599, 263 Sqdn., DFC, age unknown, 09/06/1940, missing
Pilot Officer Phillip H. Purdy, RAF 41738 (Canada), 263 Sqdn., DFC, age 22, 09/06/1940, missing
Sergeant Ernest F.W. Russell, RAF 565278, 263 Sqdn., MM, age 25, 09/06/1940, missing
Flying Officer Harold E. Vickery, RAF 39143 (NZ), 263 Sqdn., age 26, 08/06/1940
Flying Officer Alvin T. Williams, RAF 40276, 263 Sqdn., age unknown, 09/06/1940, missing

The other Squadrons with losses were:

46 Sqdn: 8 MIA (pilots)
802 Sqdn: 16 MIA (ground crew)
823 Sqdn: 12 MIA (ground crew)
825 Sqdn: 1 MIA
'Serving in H.M.S. Glorious': 11 MIA

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Antill, P. (29 March 2001), HMS Glorious
T. K. Derry (1952), The Campaign in Norway
Casualty Lists Royal Navy
Commonwealth Biplane fighter aces - Alvin Williams
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Hakons Aviation Page - The sinking of HMS Glorious and loss of 263 Squadron
Royal Air Force - 2 Squadron
RAF Battle of Britain - 263 Squadron
RAF - Campaign Diary - The Battle of France (May-June 1940)
RAF History - Bomber Command
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

Squadron Leader Ceasar Hull (pdf-file)
War over Holland
World War II Aircraft wrecksites in Norway



Airwar over Denmark
Allied World War II Casualties in the Netherlands
Australian Wargraves
De Belgen in Engeland 1940-1945 (in Dutch)
Belgian Aviation History Association Archaeological Team
British Aviation Archaeological Council - Books and research links
CWGC Cemeteries Netherlands
Jagdgeschwader 27 (in German)
The National Ex-Prisoners of War Association aircraft of WW2
Polish Air Force 1940-1947 Operations Record Books
RAF Battle of Britain
De Slag om de Grebbeberg
Warbird Alley

The Aerodrome - Aces and Aircraft of World War 1

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This page is dedicated to the men of 263 Squadron.

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