Traces of World War 2 
RAF - No. 271 Squadron
10/05/1940 - 30/06/1940

      home - latest update 16 April 2008

271 SQUADRON - Transport, Handley Page Harrow; Bristol Bombay and other aircraft types.

History | Operations and losses | Sources | Links | Books | Questions and/or remarks

On 1 May 1940, No.1680 Flight at Doncaster was redesignated 271 Squadron for transport duties. It was initially assigned to perform transport duties for No.12 Group of Fighter Command, but was transferred to Bomber Command on the 27th April. In both cases, the most common task its aircraft undertook was helping to remove squadrons from one base to another.

Its main equipment was Harrows supplemented by a few Bombays and ex-civil airliners (a.o. Belgian Savoia-Marchetti SM.73P's and a Ford Tri-motor).

On the 10th May, the day that the Germans began their offensive through Belgium and Holland, 271 Squadron received a number of Bombay bomber-transports and immediately used them and the Harrows to ferry troop reinforcements to France. The Squadron was heavily engaged in the transport of troops and materiel to the continent throughout May, and to assist them in this task they received additional aircraft of all shapes and sizes; included amongst which were civil airliners, several Savoia-Marchetti SM.73P's from Belgium, a Ford 5-AT Trimotor (the only such aircraft in the RAF) and three of the very large and extraordinarily shaped Imperial Airways HP.42W's.

When it became clear that France was going to fall, 271 Squadron helped to evacuate RAF personnel.

From the end of June, No.271 was engaged in a lenthy period of transporting ground crews and equipment for squadrons moving base but in January 1941 an additional task was alloted, the maintenance of a regular service with Albatrosses between the UK and Iceland, though this was infrequent and dogged by inadaquete equipment.

Other types were also used in small numbers but major re-equipment came in January 1944, when Dakotas were received and the squadron became an airbourne forces unit. Harrows were still retained for ambulance flights and soon after the squadron had supplied twenty two glider-tugs on D-Day, these began operating casualty evacuation missions from the beachhead. No.271 also supplied aircraft for the Arnhem landings in September 1944 and for the Rhine crossing in March 1945.

After losing seven Harrows in the German air attacks on Evère on New Years Day 1945, the Harrow flight converted to Dakotas, the last being replaced in May. With the end of the war, the squadron began transport flights to Germany, Italy and Greece which continued until civil airlines were able to operate on European routes. The squadron was renumbered 77 Squadron on 1 December 1946.

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

11/05/1940: Betheniville, F. 1 Plane lost, 1 KIA
23/05/1940: Merville, F; flight to England. 2 Planes lost, 1 KIA

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11/05/1940: Betheniville, F

A Bristol Bombay transport of 271 Squadron bringing reinforcements and spares for 501 Squadron stalled on approach to the airfield and crashed killing four and injuring 12.

Bristol Bombay
Serial number: L5813, BJ-?
Operation: Betheniville
Lost: 11/05/1940
Sergeant (Pilot) William H. Whitfield, RAF 740692, 271 Sqdn., age 22, 11/05/1940, Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille, F.
Of 501 Squadron F/O Alister C.J. Percy was killed in this crash. He was the 501 Squadron Adjutant,
Of 105 Squadron Sgt Harold J. Barnwell was killed in this crash. Both are also buried on Terlincthun British Cemetery.
Flying OfficerBernard J.R. Brady, RAFVR 90403, (615 Sqdn according to CWCG) was seriously injured and evacuated to the UK where he died on 14/08/1940. He is buried on Southborough Cemetery, UK

Amongst the wounded were:
Sgt H.C. Adams
F/Sgt F.T. Avent
Sgt D.B. Crabtree
Sgt J. Davis
P/O B. L. Duckenfield
AC1 A F. Holdsworth
LAC A L.W. Holt

Sources: CWGC, Peter D. Cornwell, The Battle of France, Then and Now, 2008; David Watkins, Fear Nothing, 1990; Phil Listemann, 501 (County of Gloucester) Sqn 1939-1945, 2007; 103 Squadron in France, 1939-1940. See also TOCH Forum

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23/05/1940: flight Merville, F-England

On the 23rd May, some of the Squadron's SM.73P's and civil airliners had landed at Merville, in France, to deliver stores, but while there the airfield was strafed by a formation of Bf-109's, destroying an Ensign and damaging an SM.73P. When the remainder of these aircraft flew back to Britain, they were fired on near Calais and an SM.73P was lost.

Type: Savoia-Marchetti SM.73P (from Belgium)
Serial number: ?, OO-AGS
Operation: flight Merville, F-England
Lost: 23/05/1940
Pilot Officer (Pilot) John R. McLaren, RAFVR 78975, 271 Sqdn., age 26, 23/05/1940, St. Pol War Cemetery, F
ex-Sabena aircraft, more or less "impressed" by the R.A.F. and used by No. 271 Squadron from Doncaster. After having taken off from Merville airfield, OO-AGS was shot down by Bf-109s. Belgian flight engineer Armand Peeters (Sabena) jumped from the planes seconds only before she crashed and survived. Belgian airline pilot Victor Moreau (SabenaA) was also killed in the crash.

See: RAF Commands Forum and RAF Commands Forum, 271 Sqdn losses, May 1940

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Armstrong Whitworth Ensign
Serial number: ?, BJ-?
Operation: strafed on airfield Merville, France
Lost: 23/05/1940

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103 Squadron in France, 1939-1940
271 Squadron
Air of Authority - 271 Squadron
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database
Australian War Memorial
Bail-outs for 1940
Canadian Virtual War Memorial
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Royal Air Force - 271 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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Peter D. Cornwell, The Battle of France, Then and Now, 2008

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Discussion Groups
Luftwaffe and Allied Air Forces Discussion Forum
RAF Commands Forum

Abbreviations used in the Royal Air Force
Code Names & RAF Vocabulary

Air Aces
Airwar over Denmark
Allied World War II Casualties in the Netherlands
Armée de l'Air - Order of Battle, 10th May 1940
Australian Wargraves
Axis History Factbook
De Belgen in Engeland 1940-1945 (in Dutch)
Belgian Aviation History Association Archaeological Team
British Aircraft Directory
British Aviation Archaeological Council - Books and research links
Canada's Air Force History
HMS Cavalier
Ciel de Gloire (in French) RAF Squadrons
CWGC Cemeteries Germany
CWGC Cemeteries Netherlands
Czechoslovak airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
Danish WW2 Pilots

Dutch Pilots in RAF Squadrons
Eagles Squadrons (American pilots in the RAF)
Foreign Aircraft Landings in Ireland 1939-1946
Håkans aviation page (from Sweden, in English)
'High flight', poem by John Gillespie Magee
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death, poem by W.B. Yeats
Jagdgeschwader 27 (in German)
Luchtoorlog ('Arial War', in Dutch, with many photos)
Land Forces of Britain, the Empire and Commonwealth
The Luftwaffe, 1933-1945
Luftwaffe and Allied Air Forces Discussion Forum
The National Ex-Prisoners of War Association
Nordic Aviation during WW2
Order of Liberation (in French/English/Spanish) aircraft of WW2
Polish Air Force 1940-1947 Operations Record Books
RAF Battle of Britain
RAF Upwood
RAF WWII 38 Group Squadrons Reunited
De Slag om de Grebbeberg (Dutch)
Test Flying Memorial
Warbird Alley
War over Holland
World War II Aircraft wrecksites in Norway

Aircraft crashes on the North Yorkshire Moors, England
The Lancastershire Aircraft Investigation Team
Luftfahrt-Archäologie in Schleswig Holstein (in German)
North East Diary 1939-1945
Wartime Leicester and Leicestershire

The Aerodrome - Aces and Aircraft of World War 1
WW1 Cemeteries

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This page is dedicated to the men of 271 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