Traces of World War 2 
RAF - 51 Squadron
10/05/1940 - 30/06/1940

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51 SQUADRON - Bomber - Armstrong Whitworth AW38 Whitley

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

Disbanded in 1919, No. 51 was re-formed in 1937 as a night-bomber squadron and when war broke out in September 1939, it was flying Whitleys with the Yorkshire-based No. 4 Group. On the very first night of the war - 3rd/4th September - three of the squadron's Whitleys, operating from Leconfield, made, in conjunction with Whitleys of No. 58 Squadron, the first Nickel or leaflet raid over Germany. This was the first occasion that RAF aircraft penetrated into Germany during the Second World War.

In 1940, No. 51 began to drop bombs as well as leaflets on the enemy and during the year shared in several notable Bomber Command "firsts", including the first attack on a land target (the mine-laying seaplane base at Hornum on the island of Sylt, 19/20th March), the first big attack on the German mainland (the exits of Monchengladbach, 11/12th May), the first attack on Italy (primary target Fiat works at Turin, 11/12th June), and the first area bombing attack on a German industrial centre (Mannheim, 16/17th December).

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

11-12/05/1940: Mönchengladbach, D
18-19/05/1940: Hannover, D. 1 Plane lost, 5 POW
21-22/05/1940: Jülich, D. 1 Plane lost, 5 POW
11-12/06/1940: Genoa and Turin, Italy

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

Flight Lieutenant (Pilot) John E. Baskerville, RAF 37537, 51 Sqdn., age 25, 19/03/1940, Kiel War Cemetery, Germany
Leading Aircraftman (W. Op./Air Gnr.) Leslie Close, RAF 548536, 51 Sqdn., age 20, 19/03/1940, Kiel War Cemetery, Germany
Pilot Officer (Pilot) Emery O. Fennell, RAF 40293 (Canada), 51 Sqdn., age unknown, 19/03/1940, Kiel War Cemetery, Germany
Leading Aircraftman (W. Op./Air Gnr.) William G. Newton, RAF 551758, 51 Sqdn., age 19, 19/03/1940, Kirkeby Churchyard, Denmark
Sergeant Bertram D. Shepperson, RAF 561926, 51 Sqdn., age unknown, 19/03/1940, missing
See: Airwar over Denmark, Whitley V N1405

Leading Aircraftman Elvie Beynon, RAF 523511, 51 Sqdn., age unknown, 05/04/1940, missing - Runnymede Memorial
Aircraftman 1st Class James Boyd, RAF 619108, 51 Sqdn., age 18, 05/04/1940, missing
Sergeant Robert G. Bruce, RAF 524136, 51 Sqdn., age unknown, 05/04/1940, missing
Flight Lieutenant Frederick O. Dickson, RAF 33164, 51 Sqdn., age 25, 05/04/1940, missing
Flying Officer Dermot E. Gould, RAF 33312, 51 Sqdn., age 22, 05/04/1940, missing

Flying Officer James R. Birch, RAF 39430, 51 Sqdn., age 25, 23/04/1940, missing
Sergeant Lionel A. Compton, RAF 565482, 51 Sqdn., age 24, 23/04/1940, missing
Aircraftman 1st Class Nairn A. Young, RAF 627971, 51 Sqdn., age unknown, 23/04/1940, missing
Sergeant Harrison Jackson, RAF 528709, 51 Sqdn., age 25, 23/04/1940, missing
Corporal James C. Mcintyre, RAF 522777, 51 Sqdn., age 25, 23/04/1940, missing

Sergeant (Obs.) Walter R. Coveney, RAF 580764, 51 Sqdn., age 19, 30/04/1940, Greenwich Cemetery, UK
Pilot Officer (Pilot)[2nd Pilot] John M. Gilmer, RAF 41690 (NZ), 51 Sqdn., age 23, 02/05/1940, Dishford Cemetery, UK - See RAF Commands Forum: P/O J.M. Gilmer (NZ), 51 Sqdn

Aircraftman 1st Class (Air Gnr.) Angus Hepburn, RAF 620438, 51 Sqdn., age unknown, 04/05/1940, Edinburgh (Seafield) Cemetery, UK

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11-12/05/1940: Mönchengladbach, D

The first big attack on the German mainland (the exits of Mönchengladbach), with 18 Sqdn., 49 Squadron and 58 Sqdn..

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18-19/05/1940: Hannover, D. 1 Plane lost, 5 POW

Whitley Mk.V
Serial number: N1408, MH-K
Operation: Hannover
Lost: 19/05/1940
S/L W.H.N.Turner DFC PoW
F/O A.C.Peach PoW
Sgt B.J.R.Wilson PoW also spelled D.J.R.Wilson.
Sgt D.S.Edmondson PoW
AC2 G.B.Smith PoW
Airborne 2020 18May40 from Dishforth with orders to bomb an oil refinery. Cause of loss and crash site not established. Sgt D.S.Edmondson was interned in Camps L1/L3, PoW No.82. F/O A.C.Peach in Camps 9AH/L3, PoW No.334. AC2 G.B.Smith in Camps 8B/L6/357, PoW No.13057. S/L W.H.N.Turner in Camps 9AH/L3, PoW No.332. Sgt B.J.R.Wilson in Camps 8B/L3, PoW No.13042.

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21-22/05/1940: Jülich, D. 1 Plane lost, 5 POW

Type: Whitley Mk.V
Serial number: P4980, MH-?
Operation: Jülich, D
Lost: 22/05/1940
Sgt T.W.Bowles Inj
Sgt G.Raper PoW
Sgt T.C.Collard PoW
LAC L.J.R.Barber PoW
AC1 T.E.Stainer PoW
Airborne 2030 21May40 from Dishforth. Cause of loss not established. Crashed near the Rhine W of Mönchengladbach, Germany. Sgt Bowles, injured in the action, developed tuberculosis and died in captivity 26Apr41. He is buried in the Berlin 1939-45 War Cemetery. Sgt T.W.Bowles and AC1 T.E.Stainer were confined to Hospital due injuries. No PoW Nos. LAC L.J.R.Barber was interned in Camps L1/L6/357. PoW No.37. Sgt T.C.Collard in Camps 8B/L6/357. PoW No.16784 and Sgt G.Raper, PoW No.13062. Target also reported as Rheydt.

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11-12/06/1940: Genoa and Turin, Italy

To mark the entry of the Italians into the war, 36 Whitleys drawn from Nos. 10, 51, 58, 77 and 102 Squadrons were tasked to raid Genoa and Turin during the night of 11 June 1940, although only 13 aircraft actually reached their targets due to a combination of inclement weather and engine troubles.

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51 Squadron
Air Force POWs 1939-1945
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Lost Bombers
Royal Air Force - 51 Squadron
RAF History - Bomber Command
RAF Museum: British Military Aviation in 1940
The Royal Air Force, 1939-1945
War over Holland


W.R. Chorley, Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War, Volume 1, 1939/40, Midland Counties Publications, ISBN 0 904597 85 7
See: for updates.
R Harvey Blizard 'From blue to khaki' (Pentland Press)
Keith S Ford 'Snaith days: life with 51 Sqn 1942-45'
Keith S Ford 'Swift & sure: eighty years of 51 Sqn'
E F Goodwin 'Some were lucky'
Tom Sawyer 'Only owls & bloody fools fly at night'
Chris Ward '51 Squadron' (Bomber Command Profile no. 16)


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
Biplane Fighter Aces from the Second World War
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
'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 Squadron.

© Bart FM Droog / Rottend Staal Online 2007. Permission granted for use of the data gathered here for non commercial purposes, if this source is mentioned with a link to