Traces of World War 2 
           RAF - No. 501 Squadron
           10/05/1940 - 30/06/1940

           home - latest update 25 October 20148

501 SQUADRON - Fighter, Hawker Hurricane Mk I

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

On the outbreak of World War Two, the squadron flew defensive patrols until the German attack on France in May 1940, when it moved across the Channel to provide fighter cover for the Advanced Air Strike Force (AASF).

Betheniville airfield was a series of grass fields just outside the main village, with limited working resources

The Squadron had been billeted in Betheniville village itself. On the 16th May 1940, the German army had advanced to a point only twelve miles from Betheniville, therefore the Squadron was ordered to withdraw fifty miles west to support the evacuation at Dunkirk. 501 Squadron was also believed to be the last RAF Squadron to leave France, staging through Jersey on-route to the UK before playing their part in the Battle of Britain (1 Squadron operated until 17 june in France).

Most squadron documents were lost during the withdrawal from France and a some of the information from that period is drawn from the B Flight flying log for the period, March 1939 - June 1940 This unique and most precious, hand-written log was compiled by the SNCO B Flight and records Date, Aircraft, Times, etc.

In May 1940 J.H. 'Ginger' Lacey of 501 Squadron shot down three enemy aircraft in a single day to win the Croix de Guerre. He returned to England with five victories.

No 501 was based in southern England throughout the Battle of Britain.

Betheniville (France), 10 May 1940 (with 103 Squadron)
? (France) 16 May 1940
Croydon 21 June 1940
Middle Wallop 4 July 1940
Gravesend 25 July 1940
Kenley 10 September 1940

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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: Bristol Bombay transport crash. 1 KIA
11/05/1940: Intercept, F
12/05/1940: Patrol, F. 2 Planes lost, 2 KIA
05/06/1940: Patrol, F. 1 Plane lost, 1 KIA
08/06/1940: Patrol, F, 2 Planes lost, 1 KIA, 1 POW

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11/05/1940: Bristol Bombay transport crash

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.
Aboard was the 501 Squadron Adjudant:
Flying Officer Alister C.J. Percy, RAFVR 90025, 501 Sqdn., age 29, 11/05/1940, Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille, F.

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; See also TOCH Forum

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11/05/1940: Intercept, F

Shortly after 14.35 on 11 May, ten 73 Squadron Hurricanes were involved in combat with a formation of 30 He111Hs of II/KG53 plus an escort of BF110Cs of I/ZG2 near Mourmelon, together with Hurricanes from 501 Squadron. During this combat F/L John Scoular claimed a Ju88. A little later the Bf110s were involved in combat with 1 Squadron's 'B' Flight and they claimed three of the German fighters. 73 Squadron claimed five of the raiders and 501 Squadron claimed four. II/KG53 lost three bombers and I/ZG2 lost two Bf110s.

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12/05/1940: Patrol, F

Type: Hawker Hurricane Mk I
Serial number: ?, SD-?
Operation: Patrol
Lost: 12/05/1940
Flying Officer (Pilot) Peter H. Rayner, RAF (AAF) 90022, 501 Sqdn., age 27, 12/05/1940, Seuil Churchyard, F
Crashed after attacking a He111 Bomber.

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Type: Hawker Hurricane Mk I
Serial number: ?, SD-?
Operation: Patrol
Lost: 12/05/1940
Flying Officer (Pilot) Michael F.C. Smith, RAF (AAF) 90026, 501 Sqdn., age 27, 12/05/1940, Choloy War Cemetery, F

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05/06/1940: Patrol, F

Type: Hawker Hurricane Mk I
Serial number: ?, SD-?
Operation: Patrol
Lost: 05/06/1940
Pilot Officer (Pilot) Anthony J. Claydon, RAF 72984, 501 sqdn., age 28, 05/06/1940, St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, F

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08/06/1940: Patrol, F

Type: Hawker Hurricane Mk I
Serial number: ?, SD-?
Operation: Patrol
Lost: 08/06/1940
Pilot Officer (Pilot) Richard G. Hulse, RAF (RAFO) 40539, 501 sqdn., age 24, 08/06/1940, Sentelie Churchyard, F

Type: Hawker Hurricane Mk I
Serial number: P3347, SD-?
Operation: Patrol?
Lost: 08/06/1940
Sgt (Pilot) Arthur Owen Lewis. RAF 566649. POW.
Came down in Abbeville region. Pilot bailed out and was badly burned. According to his son: "He was at the time reported missing and remained so until a postcard sent by him from Belgium was received by his father on December 16th 1940. Subsequently a telegram from the IRC advised he was in Stalag Luft II. Only then was he reclassified as PoW." He died in August 2014.

Source: RAF Commands Forum, 2014

Flt Sgt Payne and 'Ginger' Lacey were great friends and Payne appears in the B Flight log book on 9 May 1940: L1949:O 10.35 - 11.10 .35
He is mentioned throughout the log and the last entry is 25 June 1940: P3040 15.00-15.30 "Delivery Flight" NFD

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Air of Authority - 501 Squadron
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database
Australian War Memorial
Biplane Fighter Aces from the Second World War
Bail-outs for 1940
Canadian Virtual War Memorial
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Prisoners of War captured in Europe 1940
RAF Battle of Britain - 501 Squadron
RAF - Campaign Diary - The Battle of France (May-June 1940)
RAF Commands Forum, 2014
RAF Museum: British Military Aviation in 1940
RAF Order of Battle, France, 10th May 1940
RAF Reserves
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
Darlow 'Five of the Few: survivors of the Battle of Britain & the Blitz tell their story' (2006)
Phil Listemann, 501 Squadron 1939-1945, RAF Fighter Command Squadrons vol. 5, Phil Listemann Publisher, ISBN 9-782952-638135
K W Mackenzie, 'Hurricane Combat' (1940-41) (Grenville Publishing 1990)
David Watkins, 'Fear nothing: 501 Squadron RAuxAF' (Newton c1990)

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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
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

Uitgeverij de Contrabas

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This page is dedicated to the men of 501 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