Faces & Queries (from 55's Past)

In this section we  publish historical details and requests on old squadron comrades

We ask members / friends who are able, to provide relevant info.


Have a regular check and help if you can - Thanks a lot, Bill


Greg Spencer has written to join the Friends of 55 Squadron list and ask details about his grandfather,  Flt Lt Duncan Spencer, Navigator 55 Squadron who survived  the Baltimore collision over Italy in October 1943,  and afterwards became a POW. 

Greg's email is gregspencer86@gmail.com and he is interested in any detail and particularly the time spent as POW.


We have received the following mail from Bruce Balfour, about his great uncle Lt later Capt John Howarth Cunliffe who flew with 55 Sqn in WW1 at Azelot, France.


I have found your contact details on the 55 Squadron Association website.


My family have inherited a series of WW1 military medals, which include the Distinguished Flying Cross that was awarded to Lt (A./Capt) John Howarth Cunliffe (190603), 55 Squadron RAFVR, in 1919.  Capt Cunliffe was the brother-in-law of my paternal grandfather.  As he had no family/children, the medals were inherited by my grandfather and following his and both my parents deaths, have passed down to me/my siblings.


I am seeking to find the Citation or details of the rationale for the award of the medal but have been unable to procure anything from my investigations via the internet. I have found an entry in the Supplement to the London Gazette, 3 June 1919, under the section "Awarded The Distinguished Flying Cross", which details Lt. (A./Capt) John Cunliffe, I Force ("Independent Force" in France). 


An extract from 55 Squadron RAF, The Typewritten History from 1916 to 1986 by A Butterworth (1987), Chapter 1 details a raid on Frankfurt am Main, with a list of leaders, including Lt J Cunliffe.  Later on in Chapter 1, it details "Capt. J Cunliffe to 104 Squadron at Maisoncelle". 


As mentioned in M. Armstrong's article on  W E Johns (see article in 55 in the First World War section. ed.)  55 Squadron was stationed at Azelot, near Nancy.  Armstrong refers to to "stalwarts of the squadron" including J Cunliffe.



According to Capt J Cunliffe's National Archive Records at Kew, Cunliffe was "Awarded DFC"; however  there is no further detail. His National Archive Record details 18/3/19 "Transferred to unemployed list 28/2/19.  Accordingly, I am requesting whether you have any detailed records with information on the reason for the award of DFC and any other information on J Cunliffe.  


I also hold J Cunliffe's Training Brigade Transfer Card, together with Army Book 425, Pilot's Flying Log Book.  In the latter document, the first entry is 4/8/17 with the last entry being 9/12/18.  

We have also found a Rolls-Royce engine plate (possibly from a DH-4  ed.).



We (family) are trying to piece together the history of both Capt J Cunliffe and this engine plate.  Accordingly, any assistance that you can provide or direction as to sources of information/background would be much appreciated.


I look forward to hearing from you.


Thanks and regards.

Bruce Balfour


07544 823938


Bruce is joining the list of Friends of 55 Sqn where he can then be contacted.  The story and photos will appear in the 55 in the First World War section later. 




Capt John Cunliffe 55 Sqn
Capt John Cunliffe 55 Sqn
RR Eagle 8 Engine Plaque
RR Eagle 8 Engine Plaque

Mrs Lesley Arnold (formerly Sullivan) writes:


I have come across my dad's flight service and release book he was a flight sergeant, navigator bomber in 1945, but I gave no other information about his service so any you could find me would be of great interest, his full name was William Thomas Sullivan, service no. 1737662




Lesley Harrison enquires about Grandfather WO Gordon Henry Stevens


I’m hoping you might be able to help me. I recently discovered that my paternal grandfather, Gordon Henry Stevens  died on October 18,1943. He was the navigator bombardier on Baltimore IV FA418 and died accidentally when FA 493 crossed paths with his aircraft over Italy.

I am hoping to find photos of him and wondered if you might be able to help.

Many thanks, in advance,


Lesley Harrison 



The formation crash is mentioned in the typewritten history in the History section.  There are other Friends of 55 Squadron having relatives involved in the accident.  (See report and photograph of Cassino War Cemetery sent by Lesley, below.) Please make contact with Lesley who is now also on the Friends of 55 Squadron list in the Member section..  Thank you Ed

Tim Farnden sends Pictures and enquires about his Grandfather AC Len Elsey, Armourer Fitter later Flt Lt;


I am researching my late grandfather's RAF career and wonder if you may be able to help with some photo queries I have? He served in 55 Squadron between approximately 1924 - 1927 (see his service record attached) which places him in Iraq.


The first picture is of him (rear seat) in a DH9A and is I think from that period. I wonder if you are able to confirm that it is a 55 Sqdn plane? And possibly where?

The second picture I have I think is probably also a DH9A. I wonder where it was taken? RAF Hinaidi possibly? 


The tropical kit obviously means that wherever it was was a hot country! After 55 Sqn - he was posted to 20 Sqn India so the picture could have been taken there, but I don't think they flew DH9s (if that is what the aircraft is in the picture).

Any help would be much appreciated and feel free to add the pictures to your website if they are indeed of 55.


Kind regards, Tim

Tim is on our Friends List in the Member Section.

This DH-9a appears to be over Iraq. Elsey in the rear. Does anyone know the significance of the diamond?
This DH-9a appears to be over Iraq. Elsey in the rear. Does anyone know the significance of the diamond?
Leonard Elsey is middle row in this group picture, fifth from picture left.  Do you recognise him or anybody else in this shot?
Leonard Elsey is middle row in this group picture, fifth from picture left. Do you recognise him or anybody else in this shot?

Gary Werrett writes in January 2022:


My Dad was in 55 Squadron between 1980 and 1985 I am looking for anyone who served with him between these years. He passed away in 2010. I would be ever so grateful if you could help me

Dad's name was Cpl. Robert Edward Werrett. People would have known him as Bob. He was at RAF Marham on 55 Squadron from 1980 to 1985. I would be ever so grateful if you could help. I would love to hear back from anyone who worked with him around this time

Kind Regards

Gary Werrett



Richard Cole has written about his father G J Cole, who was an Armourer on 55 Squadron during the rough Desert and Italian campaigns in WW2. Here is Richard's mail. 


My father was in the 55 squadron in ww2. He was also a member of the 55 squadron association, membership no 214.


I am doing a family history and any information would help.

He joined up 1st day ww2 and chose the RAF because the girls loved the uniform. He was an Aircraftman and left at the end of the war still an AC but I remember him telling me that he was promoted but then demoted probably a few times 🤔

He was mainly supporting the 8th army in North Africa Scilly and up the Italian mainland. One of the jobs he had was loading the bombs and he was an excellent mechanic. 

He had a dog called Butch and a lamb that followed him around and got him the unfortunate nick name of Mary. 

He was a good boxer and fought the Egyptian champ. 

Born 31st March 1912.


Died 1st November 1993.



Kind regards


Richard Cole


Does that ring a bell with any Friends of 55 Squadron, whose relatives were on the squadron at that time? If so please contact Richard, at rcrs@blueyonder.co.uk Thanks, Ed.

G J Cole before the war - and his 55 Squadron Association membership card...

This is the full text of a request by the M. Danner, Mayor of Ingwiller in France, where 2nd Lt Fox, an Observer of 55 Sqn was buried in 1918.  He wishes to confirm the validity of a the photograph below  of the 2nd Lt, who came from Buxton.


Hello,  Sir,


Honorary Mayor of Ingwiller and also its historian, I am sending you two photos in jpg:

+ the first is of the newly refurbished grave of 2nd Lt. John Robert Fox (1898-1918) of the 55th squadron of the RAF in the cemetery of INGWILLER (Alsace - France), where he died on 16 August 1918 at the end of the 1st World War, on his return from a bombing raid on Darmstadt (Germany).

+ The second is a photo of the 2nd Lt Fox as given to me by a resident of Ingwiller who has relatives in the United Kingdom. As a historian, I have to check if this photo represents Lt John Robert Fox! Can you confirm / deny me this?

If you don't have the answer to my question, please provide me with the address of a UK organisation that can help me with this ! 


Thank you for your valuable contribution!





16, rue des chênes

67340 INGWILLER (France)




Is this a correct photo of 2nd Lt J R Fox mentioned above?
Is this a correct photo of 2nd Lt J R Fox mentioned above?
The grave of 2nd Lt J R Fox in Ingwiller, Alsace, France
The grave of 2nd Lt J R Fox in Ingwiller, Alsace, France

Article by M.Danner for the Alsace - Saverne History Society

M. Danner, who made the above request, kindly allows us to reproduce this French article with photos, which he has since written for the Saverne History Society, concerning John Robert Fox.  The details of this raid are also to be found in the Operational Record Books section.


This request in full from Friend of 55 Squadron Steve Johnson:


Hi Bill

I’ve been contacted by the researcher who has helped me with the burials at Hinaidi and he has just come across the deaths of two 55 Squadron airmen who were killed north-west of Baghdad in 1932 but whose names are new to us. We are we trying to establish that they were buried at Hinaidi but have found next to nothing on them except obits. Do you keep an Honour Roll of 55 Squadron men and if so, are they on it? I have attached below an extract of the information my friend sent to me.

 Kind Regards

Steve Johnson




They are the death's of the following:

Sgt. Lawrence Frederick Gordon Basting 364528 (Pilot) , and Leading Aircraftsman Leonard Gordon Edmonds 365222


I have the following details:

From the General Register Office Army Death Indices record range 1932

Lawrence F.G. Basting born 1908? aged 24 Died 1932 Place Hupa Iraq Archive reference DARM page 224 list number 41

Leonard G Edmonds born 1910 Died 1932 Hupa Iraq Archive reference DARM page 225 line 15


Have also found the following newspaper reports

Lincolnshire Echo 30 May 1932 and Nottingham Evening Post 30 May 1932



The Air Ministry announced today that news had been received at 364528 Sergt. Lawrence Frederick Gordon Basting (Pilot) and number 365222 Leading Aircraftsman Leonard George Edmonds who were reported as missing in the Air Ministry announcement of May 27th. lost their lives as the result of the accident which occurred to a Wapiti aircraft of Number 55 Bombing Squadron Hinaidi whilst carrying out reconnaissance in Northern Kurdistan on May 25th.



Note, We do not yet hold a Roll of Honour but there may be a lead at the newly opened Research Centre at RAF Cranwell,  Bill


This info, photos and offer of story just in from new Friend of 55 Squadron Robin Mellor.


Dear Sir


A number of years ago I conducted some research in to my great-uncle Donald William Noyes, better known as Bill Noyes, who served as a navigator/bomb aimer with 55 Squadron during the Second World War. Sadly, Bill was killed whilst on a sortie over northern Italy during the night of 2nd/3rd August 1944 and is buried in Padua militray cemetery with his three crew mates.



I wrote all my research down but cannot remember if I ever sent a copy to the association. If you would like a copy let me know and I’ll print one off and send it to you. During my research, under the Freedom of Information Act, I was able to obtain the results of the investigation in to the death of the crew. This concluded that they’d been shot down by AA fire. Contained within the investigation were co-ordinates where their plane came down. Using a wartime map held at the British Library I was able to pinpoint the exact location of the crash site.



Yours, Robin Mellor,   robin.mellor@sky.com



Donald William "Bill" Noyes / Crew Capt Jack "Dixie" Dean Huyton, Lancs, WO Leonard Fynn Winsford, Cheshire, AG Clifford Crawley - Bellingham. Bill 2nd from Rt / Same crew, Bill leaning on wing.


From Richard Bonney, concerning the Iraq period:



Dear Sir,


I am currently researching the career of the late Sqn Ld John Blackwell Sinclair Monypenny who was killed in action on 19th July 1940 when on 9 sqn.


He had been a pilot on 55 Squadron in Iraq between wars from1933 and spent a number of years out there in the Middle East. I wondered if the association would have in its possession any group photos of the officers which could identify him. I have until this point only been able to locate one grainy photo from the newspaper.


I have very much enjoyed your site. Only delighted to make a donation for any time or cost spent.


I look forward to hearing from you,


Warmest Regards





J B S Monypenny as Flying Officer
J B S Monypenny as Flying Officer

Dermott Kelly writes from Australia:


Dear Sir,


I’m a family historian trying to track down  F/Lt. Mitchell who flew with 55 Squadron for a short time (3 sorties in early September 1942) and then seems to have disappeared from the squadron ORB, and I would like to find out why (he wasn’t shot down). The information I have:


F/Lt. Mitchell - initially flew 21 Sqn Blenheims at Malta.

11 2 1942, F/Lt. Mitchell and three other Blenheims flew a shipping sweep (Gulf of Gabes- other pilots were P/O Duncan, Sgt. Ramsay and Sgt. Stubbs). On return,  jumped by ME 109s. Sgt. Stubbs' crew was shot down and killed. The other three Blenheims escaped.

21 Sqn disbanded in March - the remaining Blenheims flown to Egypt.


F/Lt. Mitchell reappears with 55 Squadron RAF, in September, where he is flying Baltimore bombers against Rommel’s ground forces in North Africa. The Baltimores had a crew of four, and his crew were Sgt. Henry, Sgt. Cuthbertson and Sgt. Ellenbogan.


On 1 9 1942, he flew Baltimore AG 763X (in Raid 1) and Baltimore AG 832A (in Raid 2).

On 3 9 1942, he flew Baltimore AG 770 H (in Raid 6). He returned safely.

Reference: 55 Sqdn ORB for Sept. 1942; National Archives UK Online Collection


But he then no longer appears in the 55 Sqn record.


Hoping to learn his first or middle name, I looked at the 55 Sqdn ORB for Aug. – Dec. 1942, and Jan. & March 1943 with no result.


Can you suggest where he might have disappeared to and/or why? I did notice Sgt. Cuthbertson’s name cropping up again, but with a different crew.


Hoping you can help me,


Yours sincerely,


Dermott Kelly




Rolf Clayton writes:



My uncle, Rolf Jackson, flew DH9As with 55 Squadron in Iraq where he was shot down and died on 20th February 1928.

My mother, his sister, named me after him.


Do you have any record of him?



Best wishes,


Rolf Clayton



Rolf is now on our Friends off 55 Squadron list in the Member Section.


Good Day,

I am researching my family tree and have come across an especially interesting character I’m hoping you may be able to help me with.


Dudley Albert Wilkinson was a member of 55 Squadron during WW2 and was KIA on 6 July 1943 during the softening-up process of Sicily prior to the Operation Husky landings.


Dudley was born in South Africa and joined the South African Air Force. I have received some basic personal and service details from the South African Department of Defence. He was born on 17.10.1919 in Port Elizabeth to Arthur & Anne Wilkinson. He was attested into the SA Air Force on 1.4.40 and was allocated service number 102113. He was a Lieutenant at the time of his death and was listed as a Clerk (Air Gunner), although he was the pilot of the crashed aircraft. His records of service details that he served in the “Moble (sic) Air Force Depot in South Africa from 1.4.40 until 18.10.42 when he was posted to the “Moble (sic) Air Force Depot in East Africa from 19.10.42 until his death on 6.7.43.


The 55 Squadron Operations Record Book (AIR27/518) reveals that on the 6 July 1943 the squadron undertook its first sortie in the Sicilian Campaign. The squadron took off at 0956 in two groups of six with an escort of 24 Warhawks from 324 Fighter Group. Dudley was flying a Baltimore IIIA call-sign AFA232. The mission was to carry out a bombing raid of the western dispersal areas of Timpani Milo aerodrome, The bombing height was 10.500 feet. Despite heavy ack-ack the mission was a success. Unfortunately, however, Dudley’s aircraft was seen to go down over the target apparently under control without fire or smoke. Three parachutes were seen to open. The aircraft was not seen to crash as it went behind a hill. Subsequently it was assumed that only Dudley was killed with the remainder of the crew surviving - I presume they were taken into custody.


The other crew members were Sgt J. Wilson, F/Sgt RD. Smith, and Sgt F. Clay. Dudley is remembered in the Catania cemetery, Sicily.


My reason for making contact is to enquire if the Association or perhaps a member might hold any other records of Dudley, what happened on 6 July 1943, and/or further information about the other crew members. In the absence of service numbers I have been unable to positively identify the other crew members.



I have noted on page 136 of Butterworth’s squadron history a brief reference to Dudley’s death on 6 July 1943. Also, I think I may have found a reference to Sgt J.Wilson on a BBC web page which has been archived and is no longer updated - ‘WW2 People’s War’. This page refers to a Sgt John Wilson 55 Squadron, who was a POW at Stalag Luft 6. Wilson was part of a forced march by the Germans in order to avoid the approaching Russians. The article states that Wilson ‘… eventually made it back to London but his wife did not initially recognise him …’. A Londoner? Unfortunately there is no further information available.

Any assistance you or your members can offer will be appreciated.

Best wishes,

Steve W



Steve is now on our list of Friends of 55 Squadron in the Member section, Bill



Dear Bill -


Many thanks for an extremely useful site. 


My father and his brother served at El Alamein in the 8th Army in the South African regiment, the Transvaal Scottish (an affiliate of the Black Watch). What I have just discovered is that at the same time, their first cousin, Lt. John Montagu Simpson was serving (and was killed in action) in your squadron. He is described as Lt J.M. Simpson, SAAF, Senior Intelligence Officer 232 Wing, attached to 55 Squadron.


He was a passenger on a plane shot down on November 2nd 1942 with the loss of all crew, as described in your fascinating history of the Squadron (https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1gSrBc17jkuUFSxSfO8vHxPCQVx8iB2Xq) on page 113. He is commemorated at the Alamein Memorial (Column 267).


I wonder if any of your members have any recollections, or even photographs, of the SAAF personnel who were attached to 55 Squadron around the time of El Alamein. Also, perhaps someone could help me understand the role of a “Senior Intelligence Officer”, and why he might have been attached to 55 Squadron. Of course I’d be delighted to hear of any other interesting stories related to this particular day, or the time surrounding it.


With sincere thanks and best wishes,


Justin Simpson




9th March 2021


Justin is now on the Friends of 55 Squadron list in the Member section,  Bill



Dear Bill,

I hope you may be able to help fill in some gaps in my late Fathers time in 55 Squadron, he was Edward Thomas PIERCE


(531775), and spent time in Iraq from 1937/8. He appears in the photo of the Vincent Aircraft( first of the standing rows, 6th in from the left)


I have a fairly good copy of the same photo from his album . Also, photos of a damaged Blenheim that looks like it landed wheels. and a good copy of the Christmas dinner menu DHIBBAN, 1937 etc. During the Battle of Britain he was a fighter controller at Biggin Hill. The more I go through his album it seems to throw up more questions than answers and I'm struggling on where to start on his RAF life. Any leads you can stear me on would be gratefully accepted.


 Kind Regards


Alan Henri Pierce


(Born Bushey, 1954 while dad was at Bently Priory and lived at RAF Stanmore Park.)


Alan is now on the Friends of 55 Squadron list in the Member section,  Bill



Dear Sir,


I write with regard to my Father James Andrew Caldwell who served in 55 Squadron during the second World War and who I believe enlisted in 1939 and served three tours of duty. My Dad was a Warrant Officer, Navigator and nose gunner in Beaufighters, Blenheims, Bostons & Baltimores and definitely saw action at El Alamein and during the Italian campaign. Unfortunately my Dad died in 1999, aged 77 and did not pass on the details of his military service. Could you possibly help in this regard?


Many thanks & best regards,


Des Caldwell


Des is now on the list of Friends of 55 Sqn in the Member section


Here was his father's crew from the ORB on 4/5 May 1944:





I'm in Belgium and I'm writing a book about the aerial war in my country. I'm looking for information about

Lt C B Waters & 2nd Lt G M Smith from 55 Sqn (  DH4 A7495 ) POW on 16 august 1917 in Belgium.

Do you  have an official report about their flight/mission and individuals / personal informations about them (military and civilian life).


Thanks a lot.

Best regards from Belgium

Christophe Vanderlinden


Christophe is now on the Friends of 55 Squadron list in the Member section


(Duncan Spencer below was probably involved in the collision on page 154/155 of the squadron typewritten history in the History section. If you have any further knowledge  - squadron joining date etc. please contact author Philip Froom)
Hello Bill,
I wonder if you would be able to help me please? I wonder if you would be able to assist me with any information on this WW2 member of 55 Squadron please? As you can see, I have managed to find out some background on him.
However, what I am lacking (and very keen to understand) are the circumstances of his capture (was he shot down, or was he captured on the ground for example)?
Many thanks
Name: Duncan Hugh Spencer
Rank: Flight Lieutenant
Number: 134580
Navigator: 55 Sqn. TAF ITALY
POW: Possibly from 18th October 1943 (any records relating to Squadron losses on or around that date?)
Location: STALAG LUFT I Barth
POW Number:  1452
Poss Born 6 August 1920 in Dover Kent – if him, taken from the death record listed below.
Enlisted as O/R number 1443615 (numbers 1425001 to 1474999 indicate he enlisted in April 1941 in Cardington).
He was later commissioned effective from 12th December 1942 which was announced in Supplement to The London Gazette, 27 July 1943, Issue 36108, page 3387.
Supplement to The London Gazette, 29 October, 1943, Issue 36226, page 4769 announced that - Pilot Officers (Probationary) to be Flying Officers on Probation (War substantive) effective from 12th June 1943.
Supplement to The London Gazette, 12 January, 1945, Issue 36888, page 350.
Promoted from Flying Officer to Flying Lieutenant (war substansive) as of 12th December 1944
Supplement to The London Gazette, 13 June, 1946, Issue 37598, page 2817 announced that – Flight Lieutenant D.H. Spencer (134580) RAFVR had been mentioned in despatches.
Prisoner of War: Number 1452 in Camp Stalag Luft 1 (camp number L1), location Barth Vogelsang, Germany. (Source National Archives: AIR 40/263, WO 392/18, AIR 20/2336, AIR 392/8 Stalag Luft (North) recommendations lists May 1944-Dec 1945 (Air 40/268)
phil.froom60@gmail.com (new email, Bill)
Phil Froom is on the Friends of 55 Squadron list in the Member section.
He has recently sent some further very interesting information:

Did I mention he was awarded MID as an Escape Officer at Stalag Luft I?

He was also one of the editors of the "PowWow" newspaper which was distributed around the camps. In his role as an escape officer, he had acquired a position of trust with the Germans and was permitted to move from camp to camp (under escort presumably), but this allowed him to both Recce escape routes, and I assume, distribute copies of PowWow for duplication and distribution at other camps... So quite an interesting chap.


What I desperately want is a photo of Spencer. I’m sure he appears in some of the group photos, but obviously, I don’t know who he is...


My Dad, Norman Birchall was on 55 Squadron at Marham and flew on the Victor.

That is what I am named after - he was in Canada when I was born.

We lived at 32 Oak Avenue.  I am trying to find out more of my Dad's life in the RAF, as he passed away when I was 19.

If you remember Norman, please send any info to:  Vikki Beaton:   beaton.vikki@googlemail.com


See below....


Now a Friend of 55 Squadron, Vikki Beaton sent us the above query two years ago...

On looking through some old photos, I recently came across one from a three week Western Ranger flight, with Peter Beer's crew.

Lo and behold, there was accompanying Chief Tec. Norman Birchall pictured with us below on a day off trip to San Fransisco!


What is more, we were flying in XH-648, presently being restored at Duxford (see the Projects section).

Bill Palmer


Left to right Peter Beer, Bill Palmer, Norman Birchall, Colin McPherson, Dave Sheringham, Larry Blake     August 1969
Left to right Peter Beer, Bill Palmer, Norman Birchall, Colin McPherson, Dave Sheringham, Larry Blake August 1969

Hi Vikki,

Your Dad flew with me from June3, 1069 until July 3,1969 during an exercise called Tiger Path. Attached is a photo of Norman packing our brake landing shute in Cyprus - being "helped" by my co-pilot Bob Eccles.

As our Chief Tech, Norman kept our aircraft in good order from RAF Marham through Cyprus, Persian Gulf,Gan (Indian Ocean), Singapore and Darwin - and back again. On the return trip we flew a "box four" formation complete with display "run in and breaks" at every airfield on the way.

Just as an aside, my co-pilot during an exercise the previous month was a competent young man named Bill Palmer...

Our Chiefs, like your Dad, were really unsung heroes keeping us flying whenever we were overseas without our usual ground support.

Kind Regards,

Dr. Michael Lawrence 


Victor Tanker Captain RAF (Ret'd)


The following email came from Friend of 55 Squadron, John Poole:


Dear Bill


I’m on the track of Dennis Baker, former gunner in 55 Squadron.


I was lucky enough to talk to him a few years ago.  My father Cyril Poole (d.1984) was an air gunner too and in fact alternated with Dennis in the turret of Baltimore “P Peter” during 1943.


Would you happen to know if Dennis is still alive and well?  If so I would very much like to send him a copy of my book soon to be published, which deals in part with my dad’s war and which references Dennis.


If you have any information on Dennis, or indeed Cyril, please contact John  at  j_rpoole@hotmail.com


A while back, Gordon Rae sent some photos about Sgt Ted Ettridge with 55 Sqn in and around 1937, which would put him in Iraq.   He is in good company, as you can see further below in this section. Thanks to Gordon, who is now listed under Friends of 55 Squadron in the Member section


Please see photographs relating to the RAF 55 Squadron that were in the possession of Ted Ettridge who I understand was in the Squadron from near the end of WW1 until WW2. 
These photos are in the possession of my uncle Norman Forster.  He became friendly with Ted  through his (Norman’s) police work in North Belfast and visited him at least weekly during the 70s and early 80s.  Norman was given the photos by his widow shortly
after Ted’s death; Norman kept visiting her until her death a few years later.
Ted was English, unlike his wife who was from Northern Ireland. 
I know the Squadron Association have a better copy of the first of these photos but you may not have the others.  I have included text scanned from the back of the photos.
Hope these are of interest to you and the other members of your association.

Gordon Rae

Ted Ettridge with Sgt Pitto
Ted Ettridge with Sgt Pitto


This request comes from Adrian Courtenay, about his father Reginald Courtenay who may well have been operating with 55 Squadron in North Africa and Italy - although not all the aircraft mentioned fit in with the squadron or the period. Adrian can be contacted via the Friends of 55 Squadron list in the Member section.


Hi Bill


I’m sending this email as I would like to ask some help and or advice. I am attempting to piece together the movements of my father Reginald Courtenay during his service in the RAF between 1941-45. Between snippets of the seldom stories he told between us kids I had him flying Swordfishs, Blenheim and Wellingtons. The medals and plaques he had up around the place puts him in North Africa and Italy during his service. The medals he had are the Africa star with clasp and the Italy star along with plaques for the No 55 Squadron and one for combined operations.


Unfortunately a lot of information has gone missing over the years along with his service number which leads to the question of help. Do you have records of serving pilots during this period? He got his wings around September 41 aged 21 named Reginald Courtenay. I have searched through what records I can and have drawn a blank with that name of that spelling the closest being a R Courtney. I’m trying to compile as much info as I can before lodging a request for service records with the mod. Any help or advise would be greatly appreciated



Regards Adrian Courtenay




The following contact has come from Dougal Oliver, whose father Gp Capt John O W Oliver was the 55 Squadron Adjutant and a pilot at  Hinaidi, Iraq in the early 1930s.


Hi I am not an ex member of the squadron however my father John Oliver Gp Capt. JOW 'Doggie' Oliver served with 55 way back in the early 30's. Stationed at Hinaidi flying Wapiti's. Dad was in Iraq between 1933 and 1935 and was the Squadron Adjutant for part of this time....


I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has a relative who who served with the RAF in Iraq at that time, I do have a number of photographs from the period as well as Dads logbooks. Dad was a Flying Officer with C Flight from Feb 1933 to June 1935, he also spent time in middle East including Habbaniya in 1951 – 1953.


See attached some pictures of Dad, (below ed.) unfortunately I have no idea who any of the other airmen are. The group picture will be C Flight, the dogs were his named ‘’Fanny’’ and ‘’Bounder’’ not sure which is which.


The last pic my father is on the white horse on the left. This was the Royal Exodus Hunt, which was based at Hinaidi.




Best Regards

Dougal Oliver.



Dougal can be contacted from the Friends of 55 Squadron list in the Member section


Hinaidi early '30s  FO J O W Oliver possibly with Air Gunner.  Westland Wapity behind
Hinaidi early '30s FO J O W Oliver possibly with Air Gunner. Westland Wapity behind
Fg Off J Oliver 2nd from Left with 55 Sqn C Flight Hinaidi.
Fg Off J Oliver 2nd from Left with 55 Sqn C Flight Hinaidi.
The "Royal Exodus" Hunt at Hinaidi - FO Oliver on Left.  The aircraft is a Vickers from 70 Squadron.  Jackals were hunted in the desert...
The "Royal Exodus" Hunt at Hinaidi - FO Oliver on Left. The aircraft is a Vickers from 70 Squadron. Jackals were hunted in the desert...

Friend of 55 Squadron Ben Lovegrove supplies details of his father in law Leslie Rogers, who was  SAC Fitter and Air Gunner on 55 Squadron at Hinaidi.  Ben is also webmaster of the www.55bomber.com website, containing excellent photos (examples below) from/by Leslie Rogers.


Hello Bill,

 Thanks for getting in touch.  My father-in-law was Leslie Rogers and the site https://www.55bomber.com is built using his archive of images.

 I have no connection to the RAF directly.  My paternal uncle Peter Lovegrove was in the Fleet Air Arm and has a fascinating career too, starting on Spitfires and ending on jets.  He's still with us at 96!

 Yes, I would be grateful for access to the member section.



Kind regards

Ben Lovegrove


55 Squadron (with new dog Blotto) at Hinaidi 1936.  Air Gunner Leslie Rogers 2nd row 5th from Left (with thanks to Ben Lovegrove)
55 Squadron (with new dog Blotto) at Hinaidi 1936. Air Gunner Leslie Rogers 2nd row 5th from Left (with thanks to Ben Lovegrove)
55 Sqn Wapitis Hinaidi 1937 (thanks to Ben Lovegrove)
55 Sqn Wapitis Hinaidi 1937 (thanks to Ben Lovegrove)

Thanks to Friend of 55 Squadron Richard Hopps for supplying photos of  his father Tommy Hopps, who served in the desert campaign with 55 Squadron in WW2.  He sends the following request and information:


Dear Sir,

My father Tommy Hopps, was in 55 Squadron from (I believe) 28 December 1941 to October /November 1943, serving in N. Africa and the Middle East. He then joined 652 Squadron in November 1943 in Europe. Regrettably he passed away on 17 December 2008.

 I have recently scanned his wartime photos on to my computer, many with details of names and places. Would you be interested if I forwarded the files to you?

Tommy was, I believe, captain of the RAF 1st team at Swimming and also Water Polo, and there are several photos included. The picture included above is of Tommy, middle front, with the RAF 1st Team, Khartoum Area League Champions 1943.

I do have a query from his military records over a hospitalization from 7 October to 9 November 1940, possibly in Khartoum. I recollect his telling me that he had once been stung by a scorpion or bitten by a snake, and would like to find out more information. Are you able to advise me who to contact?

I forgot to mention that my dad's twin brother, Herbert William Hopps, joined him at some point in the Western Desert. They were always known as the 'Terrible Twins' and 'Tom & Jerry' years before the cartoons!


Best Regards


Richard Hopps


Richard has kindly supplied the photographs and they may be seen in the link following this text.  These include scans of service records. We will also be incorporating some of the relevant shots directly in this website.


Link to Photos of Tommy Hopps 55 Sqn North Africa




LAC Tommy Hopps, 55 Sqn North Africa WW2
LAC Tommy Hopps, 55 Sqn North Africa WW2
LAC Tommy Hopps (centre) - Captain of RAF Swimming team - seen in 1943 at Khartoum
LAC Tommy Hopps (centre) - Captain of RAF Swimming team - seen in 1943 at Khartoum

Thanks to Friend of 55 Squadron Toby Kessell for this information on  his Grandfather Flt Sgt later WO Albert Harrison, who was RAF cook at Hinaidi in the between war days. He sends a Menu, which was prepared by Albert Harrison for four squadron members, returning to Blighty...


My grandfather Flt Sgt / WO Albert Harrison  510612 was a chef at some point for the RAF. I’m currently trying to research his military career and find out where he was based during his time. We think he was in the RAF from 1934 until at least 1954 (he was awarded his long service medal)

Whilst looking through his personal affects after he passed away (1981) we came across several of the original menus that he served an amongst them was in for the No.55 Bomber Squadron from 1934. Bases that I know he was stationed at include Duxford, Old Sarum and Waterbeach but we think there were other too. Could this be from one of those? (It was Hinaidi, Ed.)

Any information would be amazing and please feel free to use the image for whatever you like.


Many thanks,


Toby Kessell


Toby will try to send a better image later this year - must have been quite an occasion - meantime an enlargement of the names below...
Toby will try to send a better image later this year - must have been quite an occasion - meantime an enlargement of the names below...


He was Albert Harrison (nick named ‘Harry’ in the RAF) He was born in 1915 in Burnley Lancashire and became a flight sergeant and warrant officer later in his career. He also gained his long service and good conduct medals along with his ww2 victory and defence medals. 


Feel free to use much or as little information as you like. I attach a picture of him if you’d like that to go with it.


I have no idea whether he was attached to the 55’s or was a catering unit? Just beginning to search for details about his military life as we know very little except a few places he was stationed in the 40’s and 50’s.


It would be great to have the password for the members section as it may also help with my research.


Thanks again for your time,


All the best,




Flt Sgt A Harrison, who had been with 55 Squadron in Hinaidi in 1934
Flt Sgt A Harrison, who had been with 55 Squadron in Hinaidi in 1934

The photo below comes courtesy of Friend of 55 Sqn, Graham Knight, whose Grandfather served with 55 Squadron in WW1


Dispatch rider and Air Mech George James Knight, who served at Azelot, France in 1918
Dispatch rider and Air Mech George James Knight, who served at Azelot, France in 1918

More details about WO Colin Pannell below from Friends of 55 Squadron member Andrew Cox

Success with the Payton enquiry below!  Check out the reply from AG Wright's daughter Janet...

Friends of 55 Squadron  member, Tim Cornish, sends us the following information, concerning two previous members of 55 Squadron.  He is also organising an exhibition of WW1 artefacts - read on for details - we will relay the date and venue when available.


Hello Bill,                     

                     Happy New Year, I trust yourself, your family and the rest of 55 Sqn Association enjoyed a good festive period? 


I have just come into possession of a Victory Medal, awarded to Lt Albert Charles Roberts, an observer with 55 Squadron. He was posted to 55 Sqn in France on 6th August 1918, later on the 16th August Charles was the Observer in DH4 F5703 being flown by 2nd Lt Thomas H Laing. They were taking part on a bombing raid on Darmstadt when they were shot up. Charles suffered from gun shot wounds and the aircraft was holed in the fuel tank which necessitated a forced landing near to Luneville. The aircraft was wrecked on landing.

Charles  was hospitalised with gun shot wounds to his head, left arm and left leg. He was returned by hospital ship to the UK on 24th August 1918.

Sadly not such a long career, 10 days at the Front at Azelot, but nevertheless an interesting story. 


I am in contact with a gentleman who has come into a large possession of RFC photographs & glass slides, numbering into the thousands. He has sent me one of a gentleman of 55 Sqn, see attached  (below, ed. Lt Sattim/Sattin? I cannot tell the name, sadly!


I am part of a small 5/6 person team who has over the last 18 months put together the largest Royal Flying Corps exhibition in the country, under one roof. I can forward you the details of when it will be open, most likely April time. These are all original artefacts, uniforms, medals, dating from Air Battalion era to the RAF in Russia, 1919. I am sure you will be most impressed.... 


Best for now




Lt Sattim 55 Squadron RAF Ochey WW1
Lt Sattim 55 Squadron RAF Ochey WW1

In the meantime, Tim has the 55 Sqn Ops Record Book from that period. The relevant entries follow below:

Wounded in action
Wounded in action
Wounded in action
Wounded in action
Missing - later reported dead
Missing - later reported dead

Received 10 June 2019

Dear Sir,

I am researching the life of my Great Uncle Sergeant George Clarence Curle of the Royal Australian Air Force, Service Number 207732. George was originally enlisted in 1939 with the RAAF 3 Squadron. He was 25 years old. 
It wasn't until recent years that the service records and story surrounding George's death were revealed. I decided to make inquiries with the National Archives and at that point his records were marked secret and had remained sealed. 
Sadly my Grandparents, Great Grandparents and many of our family never knew the true story of George's death. They were told he had died as a result of a gunshot wound that had been accidental, but believed it had been under different circumstances.
George was attached from RAAF 3 Squadron to the RAF 55 Squadron  on the 10th of February 1941. On the 12th of March 1941 George was accidentally shot by an RAF member while in his cabin aboard the houseboat SS Puritan in Cairo. 
The man who accidentally shot George was a Sergeant Harrison of 55 Squadron, also present when George was shot were Sergeant Cuthbert Howe, Sergeant George Basil Rand and Sergeant Sydney Bennett. All were members of 55 Squadron. The statements show the men had come to fetch George for a night out when the recently acquired pistol that Sergeant Harrison was showing the others discharged and shot George in the stomach. George died as a result of his injury 5 days later on the 17th of March.  
I am wondering if there are any documents or photographs that mention George held by 55 Squadron. I am hoping to compile a book of sorts to hand down to my sons. I am also hoping to visit his grave in Cairo someday. Unfortunately no family member has ever been in a position to do so before.
Hoping you may be able to assist in some way.
Thank you.
Kind regards,
Wayne Curle 


30 John Penn Drive
Tomakin NSW 2537

From: P & J Stanley

Subject: Squadron leader R D M Evers DFC

I wonder if you can help me. I would very much like to contact the families of my father's crew when he was shot down on Ocotber 6th 1942 whilst serving with 55 squadron  in north Africa. It is mentioned on p. 189 in Bomber Losses In The Middle East and Mediterranean vol 1: 1939 - 1942.

Following his order for them to bail out, they were taken POW. My father's escape hatch jammed but he brought the plane down in NML under heavy enemy fire and was eventually rescued. The plane was so badly damaged and so close to the enemy line that the Allies blew it up the following day. And a few days after that he flew in 12/14 raids by 55 squadron in the battle of Alamein!!

I have his 3 pilot's log books which I am taking to RAF Hendon next week - they have expressed an interest in scanning/copying them.

He captained Worcestershire cricket on 5 occasions, won the county squash championship two yrs before and two yrs after the war, played rugby for Moseley and was the youngest member of the Cambridge Vandals Tour to Canada and the States, playing in both the cricket and rugby matches.

I have written his biography which includes +/- 80 of his wartime letters to his family in Stourbridge and also pictures of his crew.
I would love to contact any of the descendants of his crew, namely:

W/O H. R. Callender RNZAF
Sgt J Hall 
Sgt R J Wilson


(Latter two depicted below - also see the latest shots in the Historical Photos section. ed.)

If you can help or have any suggestions I would love to hear from you.

With kind regards,

Jane Stanley


If it helps, Sqn Ldr Evers attended the 55 Sqn Association re-union in the Savoy Tavern, London on 22.November 1982

WO Griffiths,    Pil Off R Evers,   Sgt Sammy Hall,   Sgt Jimmy Wilson
WO Griffiths, Pil Off R Evers, Sgt Sammy Hall, Sgt Jimmy Wilson

Sgt Ernest Clare DFM Observer 55 Sqn WW1

Ms Jean Noblett and her daughter Leann have written to inform us that they are preparing a short history of Sgt Ernest Clare, who earned the DFM while flying on 55 Sqn. in the First World War.

By a lucky chance they recognised in a picture on our website, his pilot, Capt J R Bell, in a picture of 55 Squadron aircrew while stationed at Azelot airfield,

(This is included in our reproduced story The Johns Connection by Michael C. Armstrong about the author, W E Johns - who wrote the Biggles series - provided to us by Dave Maloney - and now in the 55 in the First World War section.)

Ms Noblett would like to know how Sgt Clare earned his DFM, as according to the book Chronicles of 55 Squadron by J R Miller, who was the Adjutant during the time that 55 Sqn was stationed at Azelot Airfield, he was the only Observer at the time of his book, to be so decorated.

This was pretty much the period, when Maj Gray and Major Silly had been Squadron Commanders, By great coincidence, information on Maj Gray is also being sought – by his great nephew Tim Cornish – see below.

Ms Noblett has kindly sent us some shots of the 55 Squadron Observers at Azelot and of Sgt Clare. These will shortly appear in the 55 in the First World War section, where they will be a worthy addition to the above mentioned photos. 

If you have any information or ideas which can help track down the reason for the DFM or have any information about the other airmen in the pictures from this dynamic and brave time, please let me know.

Thanks, Bill Palmer

Hello, I write from Italy, my name is Giovanni Brunetti. I would like to have more information about the
presence of the squadron in Cecina, Tuscany. Can you help me? In particular I seek information about the airman William Geddes Fielder.
Thank you so much for your collaboration.

My grandfather, Frank Linford, served as an Armourer with 55 Sqn from 1940-45 throughout the western desert,
malta and Italy. I am trying to find out more about his time in the war and if (by some miracle) anyone has any
photos of armourers in 55 sqn. His number was 1352532.

Hello, my uncle Colin Elliott Pannell served with 55 in the Middle East during WW2, Colin was a Warrant Officer RAAF he was a Wireless Op Air Gunner flying the Baltimore Bombers, I am hoping there may be a photo of Colin with his crew, I have a couple photos, his badges and AG Wing and RAAF Wireless Op Badge, Colin was killed in a car accident in 1964


Andrew sends us more details:  Uncle Colin Pannell RAAF flew with 55, i posted up a while ago about him, further info has come to light, Colin had to ditch a few times, one ditching he got burnt, his last ditching found him in his dinghy together with a German pilot he had rescued - luckily picked up by the RAF asr first, (Colin  ended up flying asr in the Walrus).



Andrew Cox


Above, seen at the RFC re-union in 1949 is AVM Gray, who as Major Gray was the 55 Squadron "Boss" in 1918 during its famous days in France as a long range Bomber Squadron. He was also present at the 55 / 57 Squadrons 50th anniversary celebrations in 1966. His great Nephew, Tim Cornish has requested any information about his period on 55 Squadron, especially photographs.

Please forward any historical information to my email address. 

Thanks, Bill Palmer

Photo above from The Aeroplane in 1949

Boston Crew: Everard Earnest Payton 2nd from Left Hassani Greece
Boston Crew: Everard Earnest Payton 2nd from Left Hassani Greece
Hassani Greece: E E Payton in the middle
Hassani Greece: E E Payton in the middle
The back of the above Photo
The back of the above Photo
See photo below - evidently in the same spot in Venice
See photo below - evidently in the same spot in Venice

Thanks to Warwick, Everard Payton's son, I was able to research 55 Squadron's use of the Boston. It is pretty clear that he flew on the Squadron during the Hassani period. Good shots of his fellow crew members too.  Does anybody recognise him or them?

Well we have had some success! The following mail and photo came from Janet Wright, daughter of AG Donald Wright:

Good Morning,


I hope you don’t mind me contacting you but I have been trying to find former flying crew of my late father, Air Gunner Donald Wright who was in 12 squadron and 55 squadron Greece. I found your site yesterday and was happy to find him with his friend Everad Earnest Payton, who they all called  Reg/Norma .


In the first pic my Dad is first left (Top photo by the Boston,  Ed.) the second is in Venice - my Dad is sitting next to Everad (Photo below with Crew,  Ed third pic my Dad is top right (Second shot above in Hassani, Greece, Ed) , I thought they could be used on your site.




Janet Wright


Two of the shots mentioned were already on the site - Janet's mail has been forwarded to Warwick Payton.


Sent by Janet Wright... Daughter of AG Donald Wright, seen here sitting next to Everad Payton in Venice
Sent by Janet Wright... Daughter of AG Donald Wright, seen here sitting next to Everad Payton in Venice