Traces of World War 2 
RAF - 37 Squadron
10/05/1940 - 30/06/1940

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37 SQUADRON - Bomber Command, Vickers Wellington

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At the outbreak of the Second World War No. 37 Squadron was flying Vickers Wellingtons.

Seven hours after the outbreak of war, six of the squadron's Wellingtons took off to seek and attack German warships in the vicinity of Heligoland. Because of very bad weather conditions and the fact that darkness was falling by the time they reached the search area, they failed to locate any warships and returned to base with their bomb loads intact. A second operation of this kind, on 15th December, was also uneventful.

The next, on 18th December, was disastrous - so disastrous, in fact, that Wellingtons were subsequently barred from approaching the shores of Germany by day. On this occasion a force of 22 Wellingtons, six from No. 37 and the remainder from Nos. 9 and 149 Squadrons, were pounced upon by Bf109's and 110's, which made beam attacks; to these tactics the Wellingtons had no reply owing to their limited fields of fire. In this operation No. 37 lost five of its six aircraft.

A direct outcome of this air battle was the decision to fit Wellingtons with armour plate and self-sealing fuel tanks.

In November 1940, by which time it had flown many more operations in Northern Europe - the great majority of them night-bombing operations - No. 37 moved to the Middle East to support allied operations in that region for the remainder of the war.


In 1938 and 1939, to assuage local unemployment, the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company, in co-operation with the Daily Mail newspaper, subsidized 29 men from Newfoundland to cross the Atlantic and join the RAF. When WW II began, this handful of men became the first Newfoundland airmen to serve in the war--and the first to die, commencing with Flying Officer (Pilot) Philip F. Templeman of St. John's. He joined the RAF in May 1937 and was shot down March 24, 1940, while piloting a Wellington bomber of No. 37 Squadron. At the time he was engaged in a leaflet dropping mission over northern Germany. He died of his wounds March 31.

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Operations and losses 10/05/1940 - 30/06/1940

10-11/05/1940: Waalhaven, NL
25-26/05/1940: Communications, B. 1 Plane lost, 3 MIA
31/05-01/06/1940: Nieuwpoort, B, 2 Planes lost, 2 KIA, 1 DOW, 5 MIA, 2 POW
09/06/1940: ? 1 Plane lost, 1 KIA

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Fatalities 01/01/1940 - 09/05/1940 (in progress)

23/24.03.1940. No.37 squadron R.A.F. Wellington IA P2515
Flying Officer (Pilot) Philip F. Templeman, RAF 39767 (Newfoundland), 37 Sqdn., age 22, 31/03/1940, Becklingen War Cemetery, Germany- DOI
Sergeant (Pilot) Douglas W. Wilson, RAF566477, 37 Sqdn., age 22, 24/03/1940, Becklingen War Cemetery, Germany
Sgt K.R. Say - POW
LAC E. Lawson - POW
AC1 J.A. Burke - POW
LAC J.R. Clark - POW
See: Aircrew Remembrance Society: Wellington IA P2515

Leading Aircraftman William E. Brewster, RAF 546678, 37 Sqdn., age unknown, 30/04/1940, missing
Sergeant Walter Eddleston, RAF 524172, 37 Sqdn., age 20, 30/04/1940, missing
Flying Officer Gerald V. Gordon, RAF 39080, 37 Sqdn., age 23, 30/04/1940, missing
Pilot Officer Talbot Kerr, RAF 70863, 37 Sqdn., age unknown, 30/04/1940, missing
Aircraftman 1st Class William A. Seymour, RAF 629671, 37 Sqdn., age 22, 30/04/1940, missing

Squadron Leader Ridley L. Bradford, RAF 33019, 37 Sqdn., age 28, 01/05/1940, missing
Sergeant James T. Bowen, RAF 515101, 37 Sqdn., age 39, 01/05/1940, missing
Leading Aircraftman Eric W. Burnett, RAF 613517, 37 Sqdn., age 25, 01/05/1940, missing
Sergeant Basil E.S. Knowles, RAF 580790, 37 Sqdn., age 19, 01/05/1940, missing
Pilot Officer James D. Morrison, RAF 41096, 37 Sqdn., age unknown, 01/05/1940, missing
Leading Aircraftman Philip A. Tyler, RAF 541348, 37 Sqdn., age 20, 01/05/1940, missing

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10-11/05/1940: Waalhaven, NL

During the late evening and the night several bomber flights from the RAF paid a visit to Waalhaven. These 36 Wellington medium bombers dropped a total of 58 tonnes of bombes [each plane dropped 18 off 200 lbs bombs] on the airfield itself and the direct surroundings. The only enemy opposition they faced was the light FLAK that had been flown in during the 10th [2 cm AA]. The majority of the planes operated from an altitude of 2,000 - 2,500 feet - well within the range of the FLAK. The raids started around 2230 hours and lasted until about 0400. No aircrafts were shot down and only one crew member returned home wounded [from shrapnel].

- 6 Wellingtons No.9 Sq. Afb. Honington [S/L Peacock]
- 3 Wellingtons No.37 Sq. Afb. Marham [jointly with 75 Sq., S/L Glencross]
- 6 Wellingtons No.38 Sq. Afb. Marham [F/L MacFadden]
- 3 Wellingtons No.75 [NZ] Sq. Afb. Feltwell [jointly with 37 Sq., S/L Glencross]
- 6 Wellingtons No.99 Sq. Afb Newmarket [S/L Bertram]
- 6 Wellingtons No.115 Sq. Afb. Marham [unknown]
- 6 Wellingtons No.149 Sq. Afb. Mildenhall [S/L Harrie]

Source: War over Holland

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25-26/05/1940: Communications, B

Wellington Mk.1C
Serial number: L7793, LF-?
Operation: Communications, B
Lost: 26/05/1940
Pilot Officer John S. Cameron, RAF 33458, 37 Sqdn., age 19, 26/05/1940, missing
Squadron Leader Arthur R. Glencross, RAF 26230, [37 Sqdn.], age unknown, 28/05/1940, missing
Sergeant Raymond C. Parkhouse, RAF 580833, 37 Sqdn., age unknown, 26/05/1940, missing
LAC Dear, evaded
AC1 Stanhope, evaded
Airborne from Feltwell to attack enemy lines of communications between Courtrai and Brussels. Force-landed near Ostend (West Vlaanderen), Belgium. It is likely the entire crew survived, though S/L Glencross is known to have drowned when the 'SS Abukir' was sunk 28May40. P/O Cameron and Sgt Parkhouse probably lost their lives while being evacuated 26May40, while LAC Dear and AC1 Stanhope are assumed to have reached safety. The three airmen who were killed are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. The parents of P/O Cameron lived in Havana, Cuba.
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31/05-01/06/1940: Nieuwpoort, B

Wellington Mk.1C
Serial number: L7791, LF-?
Operation: Nieuwpoort
Lost: 31/05/1940
Sergeant (Pilot) James F. Brown, RAF 565062, 37 Sqdn., age 26, 31/05/1940, Eringhem Churchyard, F (*)
Pilot Officer (Pilot) William A. Gray, RAF 43166, 37 Sqdn., AFM, age 31, 09/06/1940, Cambrai (Route de Solesmes) Communal Cemetery, F (DOW?)
Sgt J.R. Axford PoW
LAC E.R. Orland PoW
Pilot Officer (Air Gnr.) Sir Arnold T. Wilson, RAFVR 75684, 37 Sqdn., KCIE, CSI, CMG, DSO, age 56, 31/05/1940, Eringhem Churchyard, F - Formerly Lt.-Col., 32nd Sikh Pioneers. Awarded King's Medal and Sword of Honour, Sandhurst. M.P. Hitchin (Herts.) Division, 1933-1940.

Airborne 2135 31May40 from Feltwell. Crashed near Eringham (Nord) 11 km S of Dunkirk, cause not established. The death of Sir A.T.Wilson, at the age of 56, probably identifies the oldest and most decorated airman to be killed on bomber operations. Formerly a Lt Col in the 32nd Sikh Pioneers, Sir Wilson was a holder of the King's Medal and Sword of Honour, Sandhurst, and between 1933 and 1940 he represented the Hitchin (Herts) Division in the House of Westminster.

Sgt J.R.Axford was interned in Camps 8B/L1/L6. PoW No.21561. Failed escapes from L1, 12Aug43 & 6Sep43. LAC E.R.Orland in Camps 8B/L6/357, PoW No.15872 (also recorded as 12872).

Type: Wellington Mk.1C
Serial number: P9288, LF-?
Operation: Nieuwpoort
Lost: 01/06/1940
Flying Officer Robert C. Simmons, RAF 39344, 37 Sqdn., age unknown, 01/06/1940, missing
Sergeant John McLean, RAF 523836, 37 Sqdn., age 24, 01/06/1940, missing
Sergeant Edward A. Downham, RAF 580712, 37 Sqdn., age 19, 01/06/1940, missing
Sergeant Dallas Atack, RAF 631239, 37 Sqdn., age 20, 01/06/1940, missing
Sergeant James Bridge, RAF 620409, 37 Sqdn., age 19, 01/06/1940, missing
Airborne 0100 1Jun40 from Feltwell. Lost without trace. All are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

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09/06/1940: ?

Type: Wellington Mk.1C
Serial number: ?, LF-?
Lost: 09/06/1940
Pilot Officer (Pilot) Wiliam A. Gray, RAF 43166, 37 Sqdn., AFM, age 31, 09/06/1940, Cambrai (Route de Solesmes) Communal Cemetery, F

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Air Force POWs 1939-1945
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Legion Magazine, nov/dec 2006
Lost Bombers
Royal Air Force 1939-1945
Royal Air Force - Bomber Command - 37 Squadron
Royal Air Force - Bomber Command - Feltwell
Royal Air Force Squadron page


W.R. Chorley, Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War, Volume 1, 1939/40, Midland Counties Publications, ISBN 0 904597 85 7
Errol Martyn, For Your Tomorrow - A record of New Zealanders who have died while serving with the RNZAF and Allied Air Services Since 1915 (Vol One: Fates 1915-1942)
Kevin Mears 'Wise without eyes: 37 Squadron RAF 1939-45' (Hooden Falcon Publications, 2005)

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This page is dedicated to the men of 37 Squadron.

© Bart FM Droog / Rottend Staal Online 2008. Permission granted for use of the data gathered here for non commercial purposes, if the original sources and this source are mentioned with appropriate links. For this site: link to