Traces of World War 2 
RAF - 2 Squadron
01/01/1940 - 30/06/1940

      home - latest update 6 July 2008

2 SQUADRON - Army Co-Operation, Westland Lysander
51 (Army Air Co-Operation) Wing (No. 2 and no. 26 Squadron)

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At the start of WWII was flying Lysanders. In September/October 1939 the Squadron deployed to France, basing themselves at Drucat near Abbeville, France.

On 10th May 1940 No. 2 Squadron and No. 4 squadron moved forward to Lille-Ronchin. 2 Squadron went into Belgium with seventeen Lysanders and, so as to provide the widest cover for the B.E.F., dispersed about three aircraft to each of the airfields at Abbeville, Bethune, Roncq, Lille and Brussels.

Andrew Geddes (later to become Air Commodore AJW Geddes), OC II (AC) Squadron, took off on the morning of the 19th May 1940 with his gunner LAC Clarke. No fighter cover was available for their reconnaissance mission and due to the hazardous nature of this particular sortie Geddes had decided to fly it himself. 3 Corp was retreating across the Scheldt River but had no idea who controlled the bridges, Geddes's mission was to find out.

The full story can be found on the site of RAF Marham.

No. 2 Squadron withdrew from the mainland to Bekesbourne in Kent with twelve aircraft, but continued to lend support to the heavily pressed British and French armies falling back to the sea.

Wing Commander: A.J.W. Geddes

10/05/1940: Abbeville-Drucat, France
15/05/1940: Bethune, France
19/05/1940: Lympne, UK
Detachment?: 22/05/1940: Bekesbourne

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Operations and losses 01/01/1940 - 30/06/1940
Not all operations listed; those with fatal losses are.

01/01/1940: France, 1 DOAS
17/05/1940: Abbeville-Drucat, F. 1 Plane lost
19/05/1940: Reconnaissance, Belgium
22/05/1940: Columns south of Boulogne, F. 2 Planes lost, 2 KIA, 1 WIA
25/05/1940: Tactical Reconnaissance, France. 3 Planes Damaged
29/05/1940: Tactical Reconnaissance, France
. 1 Plane Damaged
31/05/1940: Tactical Reconnaissance, B. 1 Plane lost, 1 KIA, 1 MIA
01/06/1940: Tactical Reconnaissance. B. 1 Plane lost, 2 MIA

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01/01/1940, France

Aircraftman 2nd Class Robert McQuade, RAF 623838,[2 Sqdn], age unknown, 01/01/1940, Beuvry Communal Cemetery Extension, France.
Died on active service- not related to operations.

Sources: CWGC and Henk Welting on RAF Commands Forum: AC2 R. McQuade

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17/05/1940: Abbeville-Drucat, F

Type: Westland Lysander
Serial number: L4811, KO-N
Operation: Abbeville-Drucat
Lost: 17/05/1940
F/O C.H. Dearden
LAC A.C. Patterson
Was attacked by nine Me 109's over Cambrai and survived a twenty-minute running battle all the way back to Douai, where 32 holes were counted in the fuel tank. Gunner A.C. Patterson set fire to the aircraft to prevent it from falling into enemy hands.

Peter Cornwell: 'possibly attacked by Lt Kosse of 6./JG26 over Mons, 17.30 hrs. Aircraft damaged but repairable -later destroyed.

Sources: (a.o.) Peter D. Cornwell, The Battle of France, Then and Now, 2008

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19/05/1940: Reconnaissance, Belgium

W/C A.J.W. Geddes and LAC Clarke in Lysander KO-T met 20 Ju 87's bombing the bridge at Oudenaarde and claimed one Ju 87 shot down. The Stuka pilot bailed out. The aircraft crashed in a forest near Kruischbosch.

After Geddes landed and reported his victory F/O Tony Doidge jumped into a car and raced to Kruischbosch. He returned with a piece of the Stuka. Sadly this was lost when the squadron fled to Belgium to avoid capture by German Panzers a few days later.

Source: RAF Marham; Brian Cull, Twelve Days in May, Grub Street, 2001

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22/05/1940: Columns south of Boulogne, F

Lysander KO-U (F/O (Pilot) Doidge claimed a Henschel Hs 126 destroyed, his gunner claimed a Ju 87 destroyed, at 17.00 hrs over Merville.

Type: Westland Lysander
Serial number: L6849, KO-?
Operation: Columns south of Boulogne
Lost: 22/05/1940
Pilot Officer (Pilot) Malcolm L.G. Henderson, RAF 33407, 2 Sqdn., age 21, 22/05/1940, Pihen-les-Guines War Cemetery, F
P/O (Air Gunner) V.B. Kelly - unhurt
Shot down by ground fire during bombing attack on roads between Étaples and Boulogne. Crashed near Pihen-lès-Guines at 20.10 hrs.

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Type: Westland Lysander
Serial number: P1672, KO-?
Operation: Columns south of Boulogne
Lost: 22/05/1940
P/O (Pilot) G. Grant-Govan - safe
Leading Aircraftman (Air Gnr.) Horace G. Jones, RAF 534886, 2 Sqdn., age 20, 22/05/1940, Nantyglo and Blaina (Blaina) Cemetery, UK
Destroyed when unreleased bombs detached at Bekesbourne on rturn from mission, at 20.30 hrs.

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Type: Westland Lysander
Serial number: ?, KO-?
Operation: Columns south of Boulogne
Damaged: 22/05/1940
P/O E.L. Woolridge - slightly wounded
LAC Jordan - safe
Returned at 20.10 hrs, damaged by ground fire. Aircraft repairable.

Sources: CWGC and Peter D. Cornwell, The Battle of France, Then and Now, 2008

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25/05/1940: Tactical Reconnaissance, France

Lysander KO-E returned damaged by AA fire over Béthune, 07.45 hrs. P/O (Pilot) E.N. Baker and LAC (Air Gunner) Galloway unhurt. Aircraft repairable

Lysander KO-E returned slightly damaged by AA fire near Béthune, 11.30 hrs. F/O (Pilot) E.J.M. Lang and LAC C.W. Evans unhurt.

P/O (Pilot) Scotter and Leading Aircrafman (Air Gunner) C.W. Evans in KO-X were set on by fifteen Me 109's near Boulogne, but managed to escape and force-landed at Hawkinge at 17.40 hrs with considerable cannon fire damage to the cockpit, undercarriage, fuel tank and port wing. Aircraft repairable.

Source: Peter D. Cornwell, The Battle of France, Then and Now, 2008

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29/05/1940: Tactical Reconnaissance, France

Lysander KO-A force-landed at Hawkinge, damaged by AA fire north-east of Dunkirk, 06.45 hrs.
P/O (Pilot) Chapman and Cpl (Air Gunner) Pickles unhurt.
Aircraft repairable.

Source: Peter D. Cornwell, The Battle of France, Then and Now, 2008

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31/05/1940: Tactical Reconnaissance, B

Type: Westland Lysander
Serial number: ?, KO-K
Operation: Tactical Reconnaissance
Lost: 31/05/1940
Pilot Officer (Pilot) Clifford H. Dearden, RAF 41677, 2 Sqdn., age 20, 31/05/1940, De Panne Communal Cemetery, B
Leading Aircraftman Arthur O'Neill, RAFVR 903300, 2 Sqdn., age unknown, 31/05/1940, missing
Believed crippled in attack by Uffz Busch of 2./JG20 during observation sortie between Nieuport (Nieuwpoort) and Ostend (Oostende), retired west at low level but shot down by Lt Müncheberg of Stb III./JG26 between Furnes (Veurne) and Dunkirk (Duinkerken/Dunkerque) 14.35 hrs.

Sources: CWGC; Peter D. Cornwell, The Battle of France, Then and Now, 2008

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01/06/1940: Tactical Reconnaissance, B

Type: Westland Lysander
Serial number: L4809, KO-B
Operation: Tactical Reconnaissance
Lost: 01/06/1940
Flying Officer Anthony F. Doidge, RAF 39719, 2 Sqdn., DFC, Mentioned in Despatches, age 24, 01/06/1940, missing
Sergeant Ian R.W. Michelmore, RAF 531479, 2 Sqdn., age 21, 01/06/1940, missing
Shot down by Hptmn Schellmann (Gruppenkommandeur) of Stab II./JG2 and crashed in the Channel between Nieuport and de Panne, 16.45 hrs.

Sources: CWGC and Peter D. Cornwell, The Battle of France, Then and Now, 2008

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Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Lysanders France/Belgium - RAF Commands Forum (old)
Royal Air Force - 2 Squadron
Royal Air Force Squadron page
RAF Marham - II (AC) Squadron History
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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Butcher 'Skill and devotion: personal reminiscence of 2 Squadron RFC' (Radio Modeller 1971)
Peter D. Cornwell, The Battle of France, Then and Now, 2008
Brian Cull, Twelve Days in May, Grub Street, 2001 (new edition)
Cynrik De Decker en Jean-Louis Roba, Mei 1940 boven België: de luchtstrijd tijdens de achttiendaagse veldtocht, De Krijger, Erpe-Mere, 1993 (in Dutch)
Lord Douglas of Kirtleside 'Years of Combat' (2 vol autobiography of Sholto Douglas; 2 Sqn BE-2 observer) (Collins 1963)
F.K. Mason 'The Westland Lysander', Profile Publications, ca. 1966
H Onderwater 'Second to none: history of II(AC) Squadron RAF' (Airlife 1992)
R Pearson 'No II (Army Co-operation) Squadron 1912-97 (Forces & Corporate 1997)

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© 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