Traces of World War 2 
RAF - No. 77 Squadron
10/05/1940 - 31/06/1940

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77 SQUADRON - Bomber, Armstrong Whitworth AW38 Whitley

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When war came No. 77 Squadron was flying Whitleys from Driffield and during the early months of the war was employed on dropping Nickels, or propaganda leaflets, over enemy territory. Leaflets were dropped on the Ruhr, Vienna, Prague and Warsaw and, usually, the Whitleys operated from an advanced base in France.

It was during the operation to Warsaw (Bomber Command's second visit to Poland but No. 77's first visit), on the night of 15/16th March 1940, that one of the squadron's crews (Whitley V N1387 'L for Love' (F/Lt Tomlin)) performed a feat which probably remained unparalleled for the rest of the war. Having dropped their Nickels on Warsaw they returned safely across Germany and then, because the weather was bad, put down as soon as possible after crossing - as they thought - the Franco-German frontier. A few words with the local peasantry quickly disillusioned them, but by that time German troops were approaching on cycles. The quick-witted crew promptly dashed back into the aircraft, took off under rifle fire, and landed safely, but rather shaken, at a French airfield.

In addition to Nickelling, No. 77 was employed on reconnaissance and Security Patrols during the early months of the war and in the course of some of its Security Patrols dropped bombs on what appeared to be harbour and seaplane base landing lights at or near Borkum, Sylt and Nordeney. The spring of 1940 saw the squadron start bombing in earnest and during the period March to June it figured in several notable Bomber Command "firsts". On 19/2Oth March it took part in the first attack on an enemy land target (Hornum, on the island of Sylt); on 11/12th May it took part in the first big attack on the German mainland (the exits of Mönchengladbach); and on 11/12th June it took part in the first attack on Italy (primary target the Fiat works at Turin).

No. 77 Squadron continued its offensive against enemy land targets until April 1941, and then, early in May, was posted to Chivenor, North Devon, for temporary duty with No. 19 Group, Coastal Command. From Chivenor the Whitleys were mainly employed on flying anti-submarine patrols over the Bay of Biscay and on 3rd September one of them attacked and sank with depth charges U-705.

Between the outbreak of war in 1939 and the end of December 1940 the squadron lost 27 aircraft on operations, of which 2 crashed on return and 2 ditched. The casualties were 92 aircrew killed or missing believed dead and 21 taken prisoners of war. Near the end of this period Berlin was attacked on several occasions and Turin twice, the latter target was at the extreme range for Whitley aircraft. Five aircraft were lost in the raids on Berlin.

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Operations and losses 10/05/1940 - 31/06/1940
(only operations with losses are listed)

11-12/05/1940: Mönchengladbach, D. 1 Plane lost, 4 KIA, 1 POW
18-19/05/1940: Hannover, D. 1 Plane lost
20-21/05/1940: Cambrai, F. 1 Plane lost, 1 POW
28-29/05/1940: Hirson, F. 1 Plane lost, 5 KIA
03-04/06/1940: Gelsenkirchen, D. 1 Plane lost, 5 POW
09-10/06/1940: Battle Area, F. 1 Plane lost
11-12/06/1940: Turin, Italy. 1 Plane lost, 5 KIA
19-20/06/1940: Wanne-Eickel, D. 1 Plane lost
29-30/06/1940: Frankfurt, D. 1 Plane lost, 5 KIA

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

Sergeant Leslie F. Connell, RAFVR 1234159, 77 Sqdn., age 22, 12/01/1940, missing

Sergeant (Obs.) James E. Miller, RAF 580921 (Canada), 77 Sqdn., age 26, 28/03/1940, Rotterdam (Crooswijk) General Cemetery, Netherlands
Pilot Officer Graham L. Norman, RAF 70871, 77 Sqdn., age unknown, 28/03/1940, Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany

Aircraftman 1st Class Peter W.S. Chalmers, RAF 619757, 77 Sqdn., age unknown, 12/04/1940, missing
Corporal Oscar Haire, RAF 567057, 77 Sqdn., age 22, 12/04/1940, missing
Pilot Officer Christopher R. Hebeler, RAF 40390, Mentioned in Despatches, 77 Sqdn., age 24, 12/04/1940, missing
Sergeant John R. Ibbotson, RAF 580861, 77 Sqdn., age unknown, 12/04/1940, missing
Flying Officer George E. Saddington, RAF 37945, Mentioned in Despatches, Czechoslovak War Cross, 77 Sqdn., age 22, 12/04/1940, missing
Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial

Pilot Officer (Pilot) Ronald Hall, RAF 43151, 77 Sqdn., age unknown, 12/04/1940, Lerwick New Cemetery, UK

Aircraftman 2nd Class Ernest A.L. Jones, RAF 654469, 77 Sqdn., age unknown, 14/04/1940, Beeston and Stapleford (Chilwell) 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 Sqdn., 51 Sqdn. and 58 Sqdn.

Type: Whitley Mk.V
Serial number: N1366, KN-?
Operation: Mönchengladbach
Lost: 12/05/1940
Flying Officer (Pilot) Thomas. H. Parrott, RAF 39112, 77 Sqdn., age unknown, 12/05/1940, Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, D
F/O D. Blew PoW
Sergeant (Obs.) Thomas T. Atchison, RAF 580497, 77 Sqdn., age 23, 12/05/1940, Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, D
Leading Aircraftman (W. Op.) Terence Poad, RAF 551624, 77 Sqdn., age 19, 12/05/1940, Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, D
Aircraftman 2nd Class (W.Op./Air Gnr.) Tudno Jones, RAF 624943, 77 Sqdn., age 20, 12/05/1940, Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, D
Airborne 2025 11May40 from Driffield. Crashed near Mönchengladbach, Germany. This was the first bomber to crash inside Germany while carrying out a bombing operation on a mainland target. F/O D.Blew was interned in Camp L3. PoW No.594. F/O D. Blew has also been spelled as F/O D. Blue.

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18-19/05/1940: Hannover, D

Type: Whiltley Mk.V
Serial number: N1388, KN-R
Operation: Hannover
Lost: 18/05/1940
F/L G.L.Raphael Inj
P/O R.P.Payne
Sgt Prescott
LAC Storey
AC1 Parkes
Airborne 20.05 hrs 18 May 1940 from Driffield. At 21.35, while flying at 9,000 feet and some 60 miles off the Dutch coast, the Whitley was attacked by a Me110 and damaged. In turn the Me110 was claimed destroyed by AC1 Parkes. Despite a painful foot wound, F/L Raphael ditched the bomber and the crew clambered into their dinghy. Their plight was seen by F/L Crockett, who happened to be in the area at the time, and he was able to direct a RN destroyer to the scene. After four hours afloat the crew were rescued and taken into Yarmouth. P/O R.P.Payne has also been spelled P/O R.P.Brayne.

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20-21/05/1940: Cambrai, F

Type: Whitley Mk.V
Serial number: N1384, KN-?
Operation: Cambrai (or Catillon)
Lost: 20/05/1940
F/O D.D. Pryde Rtd
P/O A.W. Dunn Rtd
Sgt A.C. Thomas PoW
AC1 T.B. Kennedy Rtd
AC1 F. Crawford Rtd
Airborne 2036 20May40 from Driffield. Reported to have forced landed near Abbeville (Somme), France. The crew soon returned to Driffield and resumed their operational duties. P/O Dunn had quite a few recorded adventures. See: N1372: N1384; N1476; P5046.. Sgt A.C Thomas is also reported as Sgt A.C.Thompson and AC1 T.B.Kennedy as AC1 T.B.Kenny.

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28-29/05/1940: Hirson

Whitley Mk.V
Serial number: N1432, KN-?
Operation: Hirson
Lost: 28/05/1940
Sergeant (Pilot) Leonard J. Brooks, 77 Sqdn., age 23, 28/05/1940, Campigneulles-les-Grandes Churchyard, F
Sergeant (Obs.) Charles H. Butler, 77 Sqdn., age unknown, 28/05/1940, Campigneulles-les-Grandes Churchyard, F
Sergeant (W. Op. Air) Kenneth C. Chatfield, 77 Sqdn., age 18, 28/05/1940, Campigneulles-les-Grandes Churchyard, F
Sergeant (Air Gnr.) Arthur Fryer, 77 Sqdn., age 20, 28/05/1940, Campigneulles-les-Grandes Churchyard, F
Flying Officer (Pilot) Trevor J. Geach, 77 Sqdn., age 22, 28/05/1940, Campigneulles-les-Grandes Churchyard, F
Airborne 2027 28May40 from Driffield. Crashed, killing the entire crew, cause unknown, at Campigneuelles-les-Grades (Pas-de-calais) 5 km SW of Montreuil-sur-Mer, France. F/O Geach had recently returned to his Squadron from internment in Holland. See: N1357. Sgt L.J. Brooks has also been spelled Sgt L.J. Brookes.

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03-04/06/1940: Gelsenkirchen, D

Type: Whitley Mk.V
Serial number: N1522, KN-G
Operation: Gelsenkirchen
Lost: 03/06/1940
Airborne 2103 3Jun40 from Driffield. While flying over Ghent, Belgium, an engine caught fire. P/O Meigh sent a signal saying he was making for Abbeville in France, but this was quickly followed by a second signal stating that the crew were abandoning the aircraft.
P/O Alan C. Meigh PoW
Sgt W.G. Best PoW
Sgt M.A. Oliver PoW
LAC V.G. Allen PoW
AC1 D.V. Browne PoW
P/O Meigh PoW No. 2267 in German captivity at Stalag Luft III
LAC V.G.Allen was interned in Camps 8B/L6/357. PoW No.13023, with Sgt W.G.Best, PoW No.13104, Sgt M.A.Oliver, PoW No.13033 and AC1 D.V. Browne. PoW No.13087.

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09-10/06/1940: Battle Area, F

Type: Whitley Mk.V
Serial number: N1372, KN-O
Operation: Battle Area
Lost: 10/06/1940
P/O A.W. Dunn
P/O C.J.D. Montagu
Sgt M. Lucas
Sgt A.L. Kennedy Inj
Sgt Martin
Airborne 2027 9Jun40 from Driffield to bomb bridges spanning the River Somme. During the operation the starboard engine failed and the bomb-load was jettisoned in the Channel. P/O Dunn turned back to England but when trying to land at Abingdon the Whitley crashed, 0230 10Jun40, and caught fire. For the second time in a week Sgt Kennedy required hospital treatment for his injuries.

P/O Dunn was to have a quite a few adventures. See: N1384; N1476; N1387; P5046 [on Lost Bombers]. Sgt Kennedy recovered from a badly injured back and returned to operational flying. He was KIA 3Apr41

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11-12/06/1940: 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 11/12 June 1940, although only 13 aircraft actually reached their targets due to a combination of inclement weather and engine troubles.

Type: Whitley Mk.V
Serial number: N1362, KN-?
Operation: Turin
Lost: 11/06/1940
Sergeant (Pilot) Norman M. Songest, RAF 580330, 77 Sqdn., age unknown, 11/06/1940, Lignieres-Orgeres Communal Cemetery, F
Sergeant (Pilot) Philip H.J. Budden, RAFVR 742113, 77 Sqdn., age 26, 11/06/1940, Lignieres-Orgeres Communal Cemetery, F
Sergeant (Obs.) Alexander Findlay, RAFVR 749540, 77 Sqdn., age 28, 11/06/1940, Lignieres-Orgeres Communal Cemetery, F
Sergeant (W.Op./Air Gnr.) Ronald C. Astbury, RAF 630781, 77 Sqdn., age 20, 11/06/1940, Lignieres-Orgeres Communal Cemetery, F
Sergeant (W. Op. [Air]) Edward Ombler, RAF 633791, 77 Sqdn., age 18, 11/06/1940, Lignieres-Orgeres Communal Cemetery, F
Airborne from Jersey Airport. On the return flight the Whitley crashed at 2230, in flames, near Lignieres-Orgeres (Mayenne), 10 km N of Pre-en-Pail, France. Cause of loss not established.

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19-20/06/1940: Wanne-Eickel, D

Type: Whitley Mk.V
Serial number: N1476, KN-?
Operation: Wanne-Eickel
Lost: 20/06/1940
P/O A.W. Dunn
P/O C.D. Montagu
Sgt B.L. Savill Inj
Sgt J.M. Dawson Inj
P/O W.J.Watt
Airborne 2120 19Jun40 from Driffield. attacked by a pair of Me109s (one of which was claimed destroyed by the return fire given) and very severely damaged. A fire in the port engine was extinguished, but this flared up again and P/O Dunn decided to shut down the damaged engine. Following an extrememly arduous flight the Whitley was ditched at 0427 20Jun40 in the sea off Hastings Pier, Sussex. All were rescued, though two airmen required hospital treatment for their injuries. For P/O Dunn this was his fourth crash in five weeks of operational flying.

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29-30/06/1940: Frankfurt, D

Type: Whitley Mk.V
Serial number: P4948, KN-?
Operation: Frankfurt
Lost: 29/06/1940
Squadron Leader (Pilot) Mark Hastings, RAF 33028, 77 Sqdn., age 27, 29/06/1940, Rheinberg War Cemetery, D
Pilot Officer (Pilot) Peter J. Gard, RAF 41840, 77 Sqdn., age 19, 29/06/1940, Rheinberg War Cemetery, D
Sergeant (Obs.) Alan J. Davidson, RAFVR 751113, 77 Sqdn., age 22, 29/06/1940, Rheinberg War Cemetery, D
Sergeant (W. Op. [Air]) Harold A. Storey, RAF 538833, 77 Sqdn., age 23, 29/06/1940, Rheinberg War Cemetery, D
Pilot Officer (Air Gnr.) Raymond F. Lumb, RAFVR 75169, 77 Sqdn., age 24, 29/06/1940, Rheinberg War Cemetery, D
Airborne 21.06 hrs 29/06/1940 from Driffield with orders to bomb the Hichst Explosive Factory at Frankfurt. Cause of loss and crash-site not established. There is a report that this loss occurred, on this date and with this crew, against Essen. S/L Hastings survived a crash 14Apr40.

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77 Squadron RAF Association
Air Force POWs 1939-1945
Belgian Aviation History Association Archaeological Team
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Lost Bombers
Royal Air Force - 77 Squadron
RAF History - Bomber Command
RAF Museum: British Military Aviation in 1940
RAF Order of Battle, France, 10th May 1940
The Royal Air Force, 1939-1945
War over Holland - A.W.38 Whitley (in Dutch, with many photos)


D C T Bennett 'Pathfinder' (Goodall Publications 1958/88)
W.R. Chorley, Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War, Volume 1, 1939/40, Midland Counties Publications, ISBN 0 904597 85 7
T G Mahaddie 'Hamish' (Autobiographical; Whitleys 1940) (Ian Allen 1989)
R Walker 'Some of the many: 77 Squadron 1939-45' (Hollies 1995)
Chris Ward '77 Squadron' (Bomber Command Profile no. 22)


Allied World War II Casualties in the Netherlands
British Aviation Archaeological Council - Books and research links
CWGC Cemeteries Netherlands
The National Ex-Prisoners of War Association aircraft of WW2
RAF Battle of Britain
Warbird Alley

The Aerodrome - Aces and Aircraft of World War 1

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This page is dedicated to the men of 77 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