Historical Aircraft

November 1941


Saturday, 1 November, 1941

Weather 8/10ths cloud, dull.  Air to air firing at Sutton Bridge by ‘B’ Flight in the morning and ‘A’ Flight in the afternoon.  In the afternoon, ‘Timber’ (P/O Wood) broke all records by scoring 83 points – wizard shooting.  ‘Tim’ must have an eye like a hawk.  He’s a killer and he possesses the most unassuming and unsophisticated manner despite his acknowledged powers as a fighter pilot.  ‘B’ Flight went on an abortive scramble in the afternoon.  CO stated that the proposed visit to Debden by the Squadron for 10 days to carry out night flying practice was ‘washed out’.

Sunday, 2 November 1941

Weather overcast 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloud in the morning and early afternoon with rain.  Bright intervals in the late afternoon, cloud being 5/10ths to 7/10ths.  Scrambles during the day but to no avail.  ‘B’ Flight to Sutton Bridge for air firing practice.  F/L Clouston and Sgt Smith carried out cine-gun practice.  Convoy patrols also undertaken during the day, but these were uneventful.

Monday, 3 November, 1941

Weather 7/10ths to 9/10ths cloud.  Dull in the morning, clearing a little before noon.  Bright intervals during the afternoon with 6/10ths to 8/10ths cloud.  Rain intermittently during the early part of the day.  Convoy patrols and scrambles were carried out but bore no fruition.  P/Os Hall and Parr returned from their liaison voyage with a convoy.  Gillespie was on board the COTSWOLD and Parr the EGLINGTON, both of which were 1,000-ton destroyers.  They had a most interesting trip, being bombed on three occasions.  They both summarized their impressions and expressions as follows: “When our patrols were overhead – nothing doing.  Immediately when our fighters returned homewards the B——s would attack.”  Jerry must have some effective organization for knowing of the presence or absence of our fighter escort.

Tuesday, 4 November, 1941

Weather dull 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloud.  Biting wind.  Convoy patrols and scrambles during the day.  The CO, S/L A.G. Douglas, took off at 1025 hours on a convoy patrol and sighted a DO 217 flying towards the convoy.  The CO and his No. 2 (Sgt Munn) chased the bandit, the CO getting in an eight-second burst with cannon and M/G from 400 yards closing to 250 yards.  Flashes seen from fuselage and between port engine and the fuselage of the enemy aircraft before it disappeared into cloud, jettisoning its bombs in the cloud.  As a result of this combat, the enemy aircraft is being claimed as damaged.  This is the first casualty claimed by the Squadron since it has been on convoy patrols and it is hoped that it is but the forerunner of many others.  The ‘kill’ has proven to be a stimulant to the other members of the Squadron as well as a source of encouragement, which should reduce any tendency there may be for the pilots to become bored by the monotony of constant, uneventful patrols.

Wednesday, 5 November, 1941

Weather 10/10ths cloud.  Dull in the morning, clearing a little towards noon.  In the afternoon 8/10ths to 9/10ths cloud.  Cold wind blowing all day.  Flight formation practice carried out by ‘B’ Flight.  P/O Hall and Sgt Higgins on camera gun practice.  Abortive scrambles and convoy patrols carried out during the day.

Thursday, 6 November, 1941

Weather – sunny and fresh – a grand day! 3/10ths to 6/10ths cloud.  Nicest day for ages.  CO went on leave for 14 days.  P/O Gillespie went on 48 hours leave.  F/L Newton and P/O Hall carried out weather test.  Convoy patrols and three non-productive scrambles during the day.  F/O Davies (IO), on behalf of the CO, officers and pilots of the Squadron today handed a cheque to F/L Clouston as a wedding present.  The old ‘blighter’ got spliced quietly, and without acquainting anyone with his intentions whilst on leave; typical of John’s unostentatious and matter of fact manner.  He has the very best wishes of all the members of the Squadron.

Friday, 7 November, 1941

Weather 2/10ths to 3/10ths cloud, hazy.  Another grand day, with a fresh breeze blowing.  Convoy patrols, and one scramble without result, took place during the day.  P/Os Hall and Parr of ‘A’ Flight on cine gun practice, F/S Sones, P/O McPharlin, Sgts Schmitz and Grigg of ‘B’ Flight also did cine gun practice.  F/L Clouston took an aircraft up for an R/T test.  F/L Newton carried out Army Co-op at Colchester; dive-bombing and a general beat up.  In the evening, F/L Carlyle (Adjt) F/O Davis (IO), P/Os Hall and Colvin, F/L Clouston and F/O Brisley went to a service concert held at RAF Station Felixstowe.  The concert was given by an all-service personnel band and was really excellent, and thoroughly enjoyed by all; it was well worth the journey.  As some of the party was to be on readiness at dawn, an early exit was made so that some ‘shut eye’ would refresh them for their early morning activities.  This was regretted by the other members, as arrangements had been made by SO Webber (a charming person) for ‘lubrication’ to be obtained, so as to make the return journey appear a little more smoother than it normally is in a 30 cwt Bedford lorry!  However, an enjoyable evening was spent and the soundness of the policy adopted was not to be denied.

Saturday, 8 November, 1941

Weather. A glorious day.  No cloud, only a slight haze.  A nip in the air after a rather heavy frost overnight.   Sgt Grigg (‘B’ Flight) carried out an aircraft test.  Convoy patrols, but nothing of interest seen.  The day’s activities culminated in gloom after Sgt Higgins was killed when his a/c crashed on the drome returning from convoy patrol at 1755 hours.  The aircraft stalled turning into the wind, when coming in to land, owing to insufficient speed.  Sgt Higgins was a native of Niagara Falls, and had only been with the Squadron since the 10th of October.  He was quiet and retiring by nature and popular with all of his colleagues.  His untimely and tragic end is deplored by all.

Sunday, 9 November, 1941

Weather.  Fine and clear all day.  Heavy frost overnight.  F/L Newton, P/Os Wood, Colvin and Sgts Munn and McDonald (‘A’ Flight); F/L Clouston, P/O Gillespie, F/S Sones, P/O McPharlin and Sgt Cairns (‘B’ Flight) went to Colchester in the afternoon to carry out Army Co-operation.  Sgt Rainville carried out airframe and engine test.  No convoy patrols today.

Monday, 10 November, 1941

Weather 10/10ths cloud, dull and raining.  What a change from the last two days!  Two scrambles in the morning but uneventful.  F/ Davies (IO) went on seven days leave.

Tuesday, 11 November, 1941

Weather cloudy and raining.  Convoy patrols.  During one of these, F/L Clouston, as Green 1 damaged a DO17.  Good work!  Cloud flying by Sgt Wiseman.  P/O Gillespie and Sgt Griggs on camera gun practice.  F/S Sones on aircraft test.  F/L Clouston went on cannon test, in consequence of the stoppages experienced during the combat earlier in the day.  It was found that the defect arose as a result of an oversize round and a misfeed.

Wednesday, 12 November, 1941

Weather cloudy all day.  Sgt Higgins was given an Air Force funeral and buried at Ipswich today.  No flying apart from two uneventful scrambles over Orfordness.  A soccer match was played between ‘A’ Flight and Armoury Section.  ‘A’ Flight won 5 goals to 4.

Thursday, 13 November, 1941

Weather unfit for flying.  F/L Clouston posted to 111 Squadron Debden.

Friday, 14 November, 1941

Weather shocking, again unfit for flying.  F/L McColl posted from 401 Squadron Biggin Hill as ‘B’ Flight’s new Commander vice F/L Clouston.

Saturday, 15 November, 1941

Weather clear earlier in the day, followed by sleet in the afternoon and evening.  F/L Clouston left for Debden.  Clouston is a native of Wellington, New Zealand and is a brother of S/L A.G. Clouston, one time CO of 258 Squadron.  ‘Johnny’, as he was affectionately known, was unrevealing by nature, except to those with whom he was well acquainted.  He was a ‘glutton’ for work, there being no more enthusiastic and keener a person in the Squadron than he.  His manner may have been somewhat abrupt, but he was generally popular with everyone.

Uneventful scrambles and convoy patrol tool place during the day.  Sgts Collinson, Schmitz, Crawford and Wiseman on air to ground firing practice at Dingie Flats and later, F/S Sones, Sgts Somers, Grigg, Schmitz, Crawford and Wiseman, and P/O McPharlin also carried out further air to ground firing practice.

Sunday, 16 November, 1941

Weather dull and raining.  Uneventful convoy patrols and one more scramble.  P/Os Dick and Wood (Timber) went to Harwich to board a Destroyer on convoy patrol.

Monday, 17 November, 1941

Weather clear in the morning, deteriorating in the afternoon.  Rain in late afternoon and evening.  Convoy patrols.  Sgts Collinson and Somers on cine-gun practice.  Sgts Schmitz and Smith did some formation flying.  F/L McColl did some practice gun firing.

Tuesday, 18 November, 1941

Weather 3/10ths cloud.  Fine day.  Convoy patrols.  P/Os Dick and ‘Timber’ Wood returned from their convoy trip aboard a Destroyer.  The entire voyage was uneventful apart from the fact that they suffered a ‘rough passage’.  Even the Captain felt the effects of the swell!  F/O Davies returned from leave.

Wednesday, 19 November, 1941

Weather misty and dull in the morning, improving latter in the day.  There was a scramble in the afternoon, during which P/O Gillespie and Sgt Crawford (Blue Section) sighted a bandit believed to be a JU 88, 4 miles ahead and 2,000 feet above.  They gave chase, gradually overtaking the enemy aircraft which, unfortunately however, disappeared into cloud three-quarters of a mile in front of the Section.  They searched in the clouds for about 20 minutes but were unsuccessful in sighting the e/a.

Thursday, 20 November, 1941

Weather thick mist in the morning, clearing later.  Convoy patrols, but nothing of interest to report.  Two abortive scrambles.  CO returned from leave.  A soccer match was played this afternoon between ‘A’ Flight and Echelon.  The game was drawn, each side scoring 1 goal.

Friday, 21 November, 1941

Weather 7/10ths cloud.  Convoys and a scramble were done today.  P/O Gillespie carried out a weather test.  In the evening, all the officers, except those away on leave, attended a Cocktail party held in the Officer’s Mess.  Including guests, about 150 people were present and a very enjoyable and refreshing evening was spent by all.  Among the guests present were W/C Churchill and F/L ‘Johnny’ Clouston.

Saturday, 22 November, 1941

Weather 5/10ths cloud with bright intervals.  Convoy patrols but nothing of interest to report.  P/O Wood and Sgt Belcher carried out practice interception under GCI Control at Waldringfield.  P/O McPharlin did some cloud flying and Sgts Collinson and Somers some cine-gun practice.  F/L McColl went to carry out R/T co-operation with naval vessels off Harwich.  A meeting of the Association Football Section Committee was held and a Squadron Association Football Committee was formed consisting of one representative from each section.  The function of the Squadron Committee being to deal with all matter entertaining to the Squadron Association Football.  As there were many promising players in the Squadron, it was felt that the activities of the Squadron in Association Football should be extended and a team representing the Squadron chosen from time to time to play against outside teams.  Up to the present, the Squadron’s activities had been confined to inter-flight and section matches.  To achieve this objective the Squadron Committee was formed, and it is hoped that its efforts will be successful.

Sunday, 23 November, 1941

Weather fine, 5/10ths to 6/10ths cloud in patches.  One uneventful scramble by ‘B’ Flight. Camera-gun practice carried out by F/L McColl, Sgts Collinson, Cairns, Somers, Schmitz and P/Os Gillespie, McPharlin and Dick.  A/C test by Sgt Crawford.  Cloud flying done by Sgt Colvin.  Cine-gun practices also done by Sgts Rainville, McDonald, Ryckman, Menerez, Crist, Belcher and P/O Wood.

Monday, 24 November, 1941

Weather dull 9/10ths to 10/10ths cloud.  Uneventful convoy patrol and one scramble – no bandits sighted.  A Squadron soccer trial match was played during the afternoon with ‘A’ and ‘B’ Flights playing a combined team from Armoury and Echelon, the former emerging the victors by 3 goals to 1.  A good clean spirited game was played and was enjoyed by all participating and some good talent was displayed, two or three players being especially promising.

Tuesday, 25 November, 1941

Weather dull, 10/10ths cloud, raining.  Sgts Collinson and Munn went on leave.  Also Sgts Menserez and Griggs.  F/S Sones did some cloud flying.  Convoy patrols were uneventful.  Two scrambles which proved interesting and profitable respectively.  On the first scramble, P/O Gillespie and Sgt Grigg as Black Section, took off at 0835 and were vectored on to an aircraft of which they were uncertain as to its identity.  After some deliberation and comparison of silhouettes, coupled with the information given to Gillespie by the Controller at Debden that a message had been intercepted to the effect that two Spitfires had been sighted by the aircraft and that he was making for home, it was decided that its features corresponded to those of the FW 187 rather than any other aircraft.  Subsequently, however, it transpired that a Whirlwind was in the vicinity at about the time that the section was on patrol and doubt thereupon arose as to whether the aircraft had in fact been mistaken for a Whirlwind.  Enquiries are being made as to the source of the intercepted message and the language in which it was given.  This should assist to establish its correct identity.  On the second scramble, Red Section (F/L Newton and P/O Hall) was vectored on to a bandit (DO 215).  Cannon strikes and an explosion were seen in the forward part of the fuselage on the starboard side, in addition to M/G strikes on the fuselage, part of the wing and tail unit, all of which were scored by F/L Newton.  This e/a was therefore, claimed as ‘Damaged’.  Actually this e/a was fortunate to have gotten away at all.  Both Newton and Hall, in their anxiety to have a pop at him before they first entered cloud cover, had expended their ammunition.  Subsequently, they found themselves in an ideal position to rake the e/a, but they were in the exasperating position of being without ammo to take advantage of their manoeuvre.  Had this not been the case, the e/a would undoubtedly have been a ‘probable’ or ‘destroyed’.  However that’s the luck of the game.

In the evening, a snooker match was played between unofficial sides representing the Station and the Squadron.  S/L Newton Douglas, F/L Newton, F/O Davies and P/O Amor turned out for the Squadron and S/L Blainm S/L Geoghegan, F/L Hepsey and P/O Baker represented the Station.  Needless to say, the Squadron won.  Had the Black and Bonzo counted a hundred and fifty points, the Station might have stood a chance to win.

Wednesday, 26 November, 1941

Weather thick ground mist in the early morning, clearing later.  Fine in the late morning and early afternoon, but it became overcast later.  Cloud cover ranging from 4/10ths to 8/10ths.  P/O ‘Timber’ Wood went on cannon test firing at Hollesley Bay.  P/O Hall and Sgt Belcher did some camera gun practice.  S/L Douglas did some local flying.  A Squadron team chosen by Corporal Swan beat the Station Signals 3 – 1 at Association football this afternoon.

Thursday, 27 November, 1941

Weather dull 10/10ths cloud.  P/O Wood went on altitude test.  The CO did local and cloud flying.  Uneventful convoy patrols. Sgts Somers and Smith did air to sea firing.  F/L McColl and P/O Magwood (posted today from 53 OTU Llandow) carried out local flying.  Sgts Somers and Wiseman did some cine-gun practice.  News was today received from 11 Group by Signal via the International Red Cross Society quoting Berlin sources, that S/L R.A. Lee-Knight (late CO) had been killed; official category ‘missing believed killed in action’.

Friday, 28 November, 1941

Weather dull 10/10ths cloud.  No flying today.  F/L Newton posted to 72 Squadron at Gravesend wef 29/11/41. He returns to his old Squadron as Flight Commander.  His departure is 403’s loss and 72’s gain.  Newton enjoyed universal popularity and commanded the respect of everyone under his leadership.  Scrupulously fair, a hard worker and extremely conscientious, he was an ideal Flight Commander.  In the field of recreation, he was above the average as a ‘snooker’ player and could also play a good round of golf; the fact that he hailed from Lytham St Anne’s probably counted for the latter.  Whilst this posting is unwelcome, he has the very best wishes of everyone in his old surroundings.  In the evening, a farewell party was given at the Crown Hotel, Woodridge.  P/O Wood is promoted to F/L and ‘A’ Flight Commander wef 29/11/41.  His promotion is well deserved and it is hoped that success will attend his new responsibilities.

Saturday, 29 November, 1941

Weather dull with 10/10ths cloud in the morning.  It cleared a little in the afternoon, 8/10ths to 9/10ths cloud.  F/L Newton left for Gravesend; F/L Wood took over as ‘A’ Flight Commander.  CO and F/L Wood went on an abortive scramble in the afternoon.  F/S Sones and Sgt Smith did a weather test.  The pilots and IO attended, at the Photographic Section in the afternoon, the following films- ‘JU 88’ (Recognition), ‘Dinghy Drill’ and ‘Tracer Method of Air Sighting’.

Sunday, 30 November, 1941

Weather again dull with 10/10ths cloud.  Cold and raining in the morning.  ‘B’ Flight carried out cine-gun interception.  Sgt Crawford did some local flying and Sgt Schmitz did some cloud flying.  ‘A’ Flight had one abortive scramble.  Sgts Rainville, Belcher, Ryckman and Munn did some camera gun practice.  P/O McPharlin left for a trip aboard a Destroyer on convoy patrol.  He joined the ship at Harwich.