75 Years Ago from the Archives.

75 Years ago from the Operation Record Books for

R.A.F. Harrowbeer



August  1942   

Wing Commander the Hon. E. F. Ward was the Commanding Officer for R.A.F. Harrowbeer and signed the Station Operation Record Book for August.


Visitors to R.A.F. Harrowbeer included :-

          AVM Sir Robert Brooke-Popham GVCD, KCB, DSO and AFC

          Clayton Knight - Press Liaison Officer, representing ' Wild World Magazine of Canada '



Very mixed, changeable weather conditions with a few days during the month when flying was cancelled or aborted during sorties.

           7th August     No flying today owing to bad weather.

          11th August     Weather very changeable, thundery and showery, visibility 1000 yards to 10 miles.

          21st August     No flying owing to non-operational weather.

          31st August     Weather - extremely bad.


From the Station O.R.B.

The strength of the Station effective :-

          13 R.A.F. Officers         5 W.A.A.F. Officers         7 Warrant Officers         

          11 Flight Sergeants       20 Sergeants       44 Corporals       263 Other Ranks

          W.A.A.F.'s          1 Pilot Sergeant          2 Sergeants          4Corporals         

          77 Other Ranks

          Non-effective :- 3 R.A.F. Officers


          1st August     An Air Training Corps Camp was opened at R.A.F. Harrowbeer with the arrival of Cadets from No.1322 Squadron - Newton Abbot ( a detachment ), No.339 Squadron - Paignton and No.1472 Squadron - Paignton with a total of 84 Cadets and 3 Officers for a period of 7 days.

          8th August     A detachment of 53 ATC Cadets arrived today from No.1322 Squadron - Newton Abbot and 24 Cadets from No.4200 Squadron - South Brent with 2 Officers for a 7 day camp.

          15th August     A detachment of 45 ATC Cadets from No.41 Squadron - South Brent, 25 Cadets from No.1212 Squadron and 30 Cadets from No.142 Squadron with 5 Officers arrived for a 7 day camp on the Airfield.

          15th August     Today was the first anniversary of the opening of R.A.F. Station Harrowbeer. Celebrations were held and the ' Flying Training Command Band ' supplied the music. A message of congratulations was received from the Air Officer Commanding No.10 Group.

          Today R.A.F. Station Harrowbeer became a self accounting unit.

          22nd August     22 ATC Cadets from No.1877 Squadron arrived at R.A.F. Harrowbeer for a 7 day camp with 1 ATC Officer.

          22nd August     A communication exercise " Ajax " was held from 1700 hours on 22/8/42 until 1200 hours on 23/8/42 and a new ' Battle Headquarters ' was manned for the first time by the Commanding Officer, Local Defence Advisor and one R.A.F. Regiment Officer.

          26th August     Squadron Leader Fisher assumed command of the Station during the absence of Wing Commander the Hon. E. F. Ward who went on leave.


From the Squadron O.R.B.'s


No.16 Squadron :-

          31st August     Five Fleet Air Arm Observers were attached until 5/9/42.

          An Advanced Landing Ground ( ALG ) was established at R.A.F. Harrowbeer for the R.A. VIII Corps " Mustang III " exercise. The exercise was cancelled owing to the weather.


No.276 Air Sea Rescue Squadron    " B " Flight :-

          2nd August     Squadron Leader Fisher carried out dinghy drop tests from a Defiant aircraft. The tests proved only reasonably successful, great difficulty was experienced in dropping the dinghy accurately owing to the very limited view in this type of aircraft. Further difficulty was also experienced in flying the aircraft at low speed close to the water.

          2nd August     Sergeant Coleman in a Tiger Moth carried out local flying exercises with the ATC Cadets.

          3rd August     A Lysander aircraft was sent out on a search off Hope Nose. This turned out to be a false alarm. A supposed parachute in the water turned out to be a drogue from a target towing machine. The drogue was later picked up by a rescue launch.

          5th August     A search was undertaken by a Lysander on a search for a bomber aircraft that was in the sea off Rame Head. A fifteen mile strip search was carried out, but nothing was seen.

          22nd August     One aircraft was detailed to carry out drogue towing for No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron in order for them to practice air firing.

          24th August     At approximately 1500 hours Pilot Officer J. D. Ernst along with AC1 Fleet acting as rear gunner proceeded on a practice flight off Start Point. Nothing further has been heard of them and as many enemy aircraft were operating over the area it is presumed they were shot down and lost. A Lysander made a search of the area but was recalled to base owing to the weather deteriorating. Further searches were carried out over the next forty eight hours.

          24th August     Sergeant Coleman and Sergeant Douglas went off in a Lysander aircraft on a search in the vicinity of Start Point. Nothing was found and the Lysander was ordered back due to bad weather.

          30th August     A rescue search was detailed for wreckage that had been seen in the sea 180 degrees, six miles off Seaton. Nothing was found.

          Most of August was spent on practice flying which included dinghy drops, dual control sea flights in the Walrus aircraft - landing and taking off from the water, sector reconnaissance flights, air tests and ferry duties.


No.286 ( Army Co-operation ) Squadron :-

          1st August     A detachment from the Squadron was sent back to R.A.F. Harrowbeer with Flying Officer Wilton and Sergeant Baylis. The aircraft they were operating was a Defiant on Army Co-operation work with No.55 Brigade.


No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron :-

          3rd August     Eight sections of No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron carried out shipping patrol duties in the English Channel over convoys ' Multiple ' and ' Cloak '. ' Multiple ' consisted of twenty motor vessels, five trawlers and one destroyer one mile South East of Round sailing Eastbound.

          5th August     Six aircraft took off from R.A.F. Harrowbeer to escort Liberator aircraft.

          6th August     Ten aircraft took off from Harrowbeer with No.310 Squadron on a Roadstead Operation escorting twelve Hurribombers. Set courses were followed but no targets were found, instead an arrangement of lighthouses and rocks similar to ships was seen. One pilot stated that the rocks were wrongly reported as ships. Six aircraft landed at R.A.F. Harrowbeer the rest landed at R.A.F. Exeter.

          10th August     Two sections flew to R.A.F. Bolt Head to take over readiness duties there. Flight Lieutenant Kasal " B " Flight Commander detached for a five day course on Merlin engines to Rolls Royce, Derby. Flying Officer Perina detached to Sutton Bridge for a four week Gunnery Course.

          11th August     One section scrambled to the Dartmouth area. Nothing was seen to report. Three pilots flew to Boscombe Down to inspect German aircraft ( JU88, HEIII and ME109 ).

          12th August     From the 12th - 16th August " A " Flight were operating from R.A.F. Bolt Head on stand by and readiness duties.

          16th August     Fifteen Spitfires took off from R.A.F. Harrowbeer for R.A.F. Redhill, Surrey to operate from there. They returned back to Harrowbeer on the 20th August. While the Squadron were at R.A.F. Redhill they carried out flying duties in the Dieppe area and flew escort duties during " Operation Jubilee ".

          17th August     A part of No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron went to R.A.F. Warmwell were they took part in No.10 Group diversion to No.11 Group ' Circus ' No.204. They swept the Cherbourg area but saw nothing and returned to R.A.F. Redhill in the evening.

          18th August     While the Squadron were operating from R.A.F. Redhill they joined with No.310 ( Czech ) Squadron and No.350 ( Belgium ) Squadron to carry out a feint ' Rodeo ' operation sweeping the Berck Treport area. Nothing was seen and there were no casualties.

          19th August     No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron still operating from R.A.F. Redhill took part in ' Operation Jubilee ' in the Dieppe area. They made three sorties during the day and the following were claimer :-

               1st Sortie     one fishing boat damaged.

               2nd Sortie     three FW190 probable

               3rd Sortie     two and a half DO217 destroyed

          Our casualties    one Spitfire   Cat  B

          20th August     Eighteen aircraft returned to R.A.F. Harrowbeer from R.A.F. Redhill. All aircraft and personnel of No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron are now back at R.A.F. Harrowbeer.

          A message was received from the AOC  No.11 Group and the Chief of Air Staff congratulating all Squadrons that took part in the Dieppe action stating that :-

                    " The Squadrons have the satisfaction not only of having scored a striking victory over the German Airforce on it's home ground but more important still of having earned the confidence of the Army and Navy with whom for the first time they have had the chance to co-operate in their full strength.     Please convey to all concerned my appreciation and thanks for a great days work ".

          Czechoslovakian pilots in the R.A.F. claimed about twenty enemy planes destroyed.

          21st August     Flight Lieutenant Kaslik gave a lecture to the ATC boys on the Dieppe operations.

          24th August     Six aircraft acted as rear cover on a shipping reconnaissance during the afternoon. Nothing seen and no combats.

          24th August     Two sections on convoy patrol over convoy ' Range ' which consisted of seventeen motor vessels, one trawler, two armour plate trawlers, three A.S. trawlers and one destroyer. The convoy was seven miles South West of Portland. Two enemy aircraft were reported in the area but nothing was seen.

          26th August     Combat films were received from the Dieppe engagement on 19/8/42 from Fighter Command and shown to the pilots.

          28th August     At approximately 1100 hours a Mosquito night fighter aircraft landed at R.A.F. Harrowbeer and all flying personnel were asked to acquaint themselves with the machine. An hour after landing the Mosquito gave a flying demonstration over the airfield.

          A lot of the month was spent on convoy patrol work and cross country flights especially to R.A.F. Bolt Head and back to assist with stand by and readiness duties there.


               The activities of the Squadron were on an increased morale, great satisfaction being felt after the Dieppe operations.

               There were no losses to the Squadron

               The re-arming of the Spitfire VC's were completed.

               Notification was received that the Squadron badge had been approved, but an official presentation that was planned for 5/9/42 during the celebrations of the 2nd anniversary of the Squadron had to be postponed until after the court mourning following the death of the Duke of Kent.


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July  1942

Wing Commander the Hon. E. F. Ward was the Commanding Officer for R.A.F. Harrowbeer and he and Squadron Leader Fisher both signed the Station Operation Record Book for the month of July.


Visitors to R.A.F. Harrowbeer included :-

          H.R.H. the Duke of Kent

          Colonel G. Thompson DSO, MC

          Brigadier T. Fairfax Ross  MC

          The Camouflage Officer of No.10 Group



The beginning of July started rather badly causing many flights to be cancelled or aborted. The weather improved as the month progressed.


From the Station O.R.B.


          1st July     Seventeen Spitfire VB's of No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron proceeded to R.A.F. Redhill, Surrey.

          5th July    One Blenheim IV aircraft from ' C ' Flight of No.78 Signals Wing Calibration Flight crash landed on the aerodrome after being involved in a collision with a Commer van of No.276 Air Sea Rescue Squadron whilst taking off. Four airmen in the van were killed. No members of the Blenheim IV crew were injured.

          7th July    Nineteen Spitfire VB's of No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron returned to R.A.F. Harrowbeer from R.A.F. Redhill.

          9th July     Two Air Sea Rescue searches for survivors of ships sunk in a convoy attack in mid-channel carried out. Non were found.

          11th July     Shipping Reconnaissance carried out by two Spitfire VB's of No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron took place late in the evening of 10/7/42. Four " E " boats seen inshore West of Cap De La Hague.

          12th July     A visit was made by H.R.H. the Duke of Kent.          A demonstration near Cadover Bridge, Yelverton was given by the Royal Engineers of " Anti-Tank Torpedoes ". It was a good demonstration on a rather useless weapon.

         14th July     Two Typhoon aircraft visited the Station.          Four Air Sea Rescue sorties were undertaken in the afternoon for survivors of a " Chasseur " sunk during a night attack on the convoy she was in. A large oil ring was found South of Portland and small patches of oil South of Start Point.

          15th July     Major F. G. Gaywood  MC assumed Command operationally of all troops in the Yelverton sub-area.

          19th July     " B " Flight of No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron was sent to R.A.F. Bolt Head in readiness. They returned to R.A.F. Harrowbeer on the 27th July.

          28th July     A Station exercise by No.211 Infantry Brigade held.

          31st July     No.10 Group " Ramrod " No.24 carried out. No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron acted as rear support ( top cover ) with the Exeter Wing which was to attack St. Malo Docks by twelve Boston bomber aircraft being escorted by the Ibsley Wing.


From the Squadron O.R.B.'s


No.276 Air Sea Rescue Squadron     " B " Flight :-

          5th July     A very unfortunate accident occurred today on the aerodrome when a " B " Flight lorry was bringing the duty ground crew back from tea. A Blenheim IV of No.78 Signals Wing was just taking off on Runway Three. ( It was due to take off on Runway One but the wind changed direction so an alternate Runway was to be used ). The aircraft had just become airborne when it hit the lorry, killing the driver and three other airmen and injuring one - all in the truck. The pilot of the aircraft managed to keep airborne and eventually made a crash landing on the aerodrome on Runway Two. ( Today No.276 Air Sea Rescue Squadron ground crew were maintaining one of the Squadron aircraft in Dispersal Bay No.109. When it was time to go to the N.A.A.F.I. for their break it was customary to get permission to cross the aerodrome on Sommerfeld Tracking from one side of the aerodrome to the other. There was a N.A.A.F.I. truck in the area of Dispersal Bays Nos.115 and 116. Unfortunately due to a communication problem the vehicle and the aircraft collided. The Blenheim IV had just left the Runway when it struck the lorry which tore the undercarriage off. The Blenheim effectively made a wheel's up landing. The pilot and air crew were not injured ).

          14th July     Four rescue searches were carried out during the day. A large patch of oil was discovered and eventually two flags were found standing out of the water. Motor Launches were guided to the spot and a survivor picked up.

          18th July     Four rescue sorties were carried out during the day. A dinghy was eventually located and after a further search a pilot was seen in the water about four miles away. A Motor Launch was directed to the spot which picked up the pilot who was apparently dead.

          27th July     One rescue sortie carried out. The pilot of a ditched aircraft was picked up by a launch.

          30th July     A Lysander aircraft was ordered off on a rescue search three miles South of Bridport. Two dinghies were located with two members of the crew of a Beaufighter aircraft. Smoke flares were dropped and two rescue boats directed to the scene. The crew were successfully picked up.          A Walrus aircraft proceeded off Bolt Head in search of a Hurricane aircraft pilot reported to be in a dinghy. Nothing could be found of pilot or dinghy.


No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron :-

          1st July     No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron released for the cross country flight to R.A.F. Redhill, Surrey. Seventeen aircraft took off from R.A.F. Harrowbeer at 1545 hours, but only ten managed to reach R.A.F. Redhill by1700 hours the same day. Seven aircraft landed at R.A.F. Exeter. Ground staff and the rear party left in two Harrow ( transport aircraft ) at 1520 hours.          At R.A.F. Redhill all the ground personnel were accommodated under canvas.

          7th July     An order was received today for the Squadron to return to R.A.F. Harrowbeer. The Squadron took off at 1720 hours, landing at R.A.F. Harrowbeer at 1835hours. The rail party left Nutfield Railway Station at 2330 hours.

          10th July     Five sections were ordered out on convoy patrols to fifteen motor vessels going East ten miles South of Point 6.           Blue section were ordered off on a shipping reconnaissance near Cherbourg at 2215 hours where they reported six " E " boats West of the peninsular.          Most of the pilots back on base spent the day on Link Trainer practice.

          12th July     At 1230 hours Warrant Officer J. Sodek took off as Black 1 with Sergeant J. Novotny as Black 2 to patrol a convoy " Skipper " South of Start Point. At approximately 1300 hours this section received a message from the convoy " Bandits at five o'clock ". Black 1 gave " Tally-Ho " and began chase with the enemy aircraft at sea level. Black 1 then in mid-channel, opened fire at extreme range, then drew closer and fired three bursts from astern, after which the enemy rear-gunner stopped firing. The pilot drew close and fired several more bursts, first from astern, spending all his ammunition. During the last attack he noticed tracer bullets in the enemy cockpit. The enemy aircraft, a JU88, is claimed as being damaged.

          17th July     A signal has been received from the Air Ministry that Flight Lieutenant B. Dvorak previously reported as missing presumed killed is a prisoner of war in Germany.

          18th July     During the day twelve sections were detailed for convoy patrol duties over " Recruit " ( fourteen ships and a destroyer leaving Plymouth going West ), and " Skipper " ( twenty six motor vessels, two tankers, three trawlers and one destroyer with V.H.F going to Dartmouth ).

          20th July     Three sections on convoy patrol over " Review " ( thirty ships ten miles South of Point 8 going East ).          The rest of the month was spent carrying out convoy patrol duties.          During the month of July operational activities increased in comparison with the previous month. Some disappointment was felt that no operations were carried out during the detachment of the Squadron at R.A.F. Redhill and that the task had to be abandoned.


No.501 Squadron :-

          31st July     The Squadron ( twelve Spitfire VB's and VC's ) went to R.A.F. Harrowbeer from R.A.F. Ibsley in the afternoon for one of the most successful operations for a long time. This was the bombing of St. Malo by twelve Boston bomber aircraft. No.501 Squadron was close escort. The operation involved flying two hundred and seventy five miles over the sea.          When the Squadron arrived at R.A.F. Harrowbeer long range fuel tanks were used and with three exceptions were very successful. Two tanks failed to work and the pilots returned. One tank failed to jettison. The enemy were caught on the hop, and no enemy aircraft came near the bombers and escorts. The flak opened up very late and was well behind. The docks received a real pasting from forty eight - five hundred pound bombs. Our boys watched the bombs go like little black eggs and the everyone went right over on their sides to see were the bombs fell. Everyone came home safely - delighted with the show. The Squadron arrived back at R.A.F. Ibsley at 2200 hours on the completion of a good days work.


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June  1942

Wing Commander the Hon. F. F. Ward was the Commanding Officer of R.A.F. Harrowbeer and signed the Operation Record Book for the month of June.


Visitors to R.A.F. Harrowbeer included :-

          Air Commodore H. V. Rowley - S.A.S.O. No.10 Group

          Commander in Chief E. Cleck

          Wing Commander A. Vasatko



The beginning of the month was fairly good for flying activities, but it deteriorated around the 18th of the month resulting in little flying practice.


From the Station O.R.B.


Strength of R.A.F. Harrowbeer personnel :-

          R.A.F. Units = 898          W.A.A.F. = 99          Army = 256


The Station Medical Officer was Senior Medical Officer Turmbull.


          2nd June          Twelve Spitfire VB's of No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron flew to R.A.F. Warmwell to operate with the Middle Wallop and Exeter Wing in a " Rodeo " on the Cherbourg Peninsular.

          3rd June          Eleven Spitfire VB flew to R.A.F. Ibsley and took part in " Circus " No.6 providing cover to twelve Boston Bombers.

          9th June          Three sections of No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron flew an Army exercise " Pelican ", attacking colunms of vehicles going towards Exeter.

          18th June          The crew of six airmen from a Whitley aircraft were picked up two miles off Bude by a Walrus aircraft from No.276 Air Sea Rescue Squadron ' B ' Flight.

          19th June          No.492 Search Light Battery were replaced on the aerodrome by No.313 Search Light Battery. The strength of personnel = 68.

          22nd June          The arrival of three Mustang aircraft of No.16 ( Army Co-operation ) Squadron from R.A.F. Weston Zoyland.

          23rd June          No.10 Group " Ramrod " No.23 took place with No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron operating from R.A.F. Exeter as cover to six Boston Bombers in an attack on Morlaix. The Portreath Wing ( No.19, 234 and 130 Squadrons ) took off from R.A.F. Harrowbeer and met the formation on it's return from the French Coast. Eight to ten miles from Dartmouth several FW190'S attacked the formation. Two enemy aircraft were destroyed and one damaged.

          23rd June          Wing Commander Stansfield of No.16 Squadron flying a Mustang aircraft crashed near the rear of the Communal Site of R.A.F. Harrowbeer. He was admitted to the R.A.F. Hospital, Torquay.


From the Squadron O.R.B.


No.16 ( Army Co-operation ) Squadron :-

          23rd June          Three Mustang aircraft detached to R.A.F. Harrowbeer for Artillery Range - six successful shots.

                                     Wing Commander P. W. Stansfield crashed in a Mustang at R.A.F. Harrowbeer - seriously injured and conveyed to R.A.F. Hospital, Torquay.

                                     Four modified Mustang aircraft collected from R.A.F. Abbotsinch.

          24th June          Squadron Leader A. G. Pallet takes command of the Squadron vice Wing Commander P. W. Stansfield.

          28th June          VIII Corps. R.A. Exercise held in the afternoon, all Squadron personnel took part.


No.19 Squadron :-

          22nd June          The Squadron flew from R.A.F. Perranporth led by Squadron Leader Davies to R.A.F. Harrowbeer to take part in a Wing Sweep acting as cover to six Boston bombers carrying out an attack on Morlaix. On the way back FW190's were seen and Sergeant Ridings and Pilot Officer Henderson went to investigate. Sergeant Ridings was last seen at this time and is reported missing.


No.276  Air Sea Rescue Squadron    " B " Flight :-

          Most of June was taken up by local flying exercises, familiarisation flights, air tests, sea landing practice and ferry work. There was a total of thirteen search and recue operations flown by " B " Flight.

          1st June          A Lysander aircraft was ordered off to search for a mine eight miles south south east of Berry Head.  A square search was carried out, but nothing was seen.

          2nd June          A Walrus aircraft was sent out to search for a ditched aircraft three miles off the Lizard Point. An extensive search was made during which two Beaufighter aircraft and three Spitfire aircraft were seen also searching the area. Nothing was seen.

          3rd June          A Lysander aircraft took off to search for a Hampden aircraft that had ditched in the sea eighteen miles off Eddystone. A large patch of oil was discovered but no sign of any aircraft, wreckage or airmen were seen.

          7th June          A Lysander aircraft was ordered to search for a Sunderlanf flying boat reported down in the sea five miles south of Wembury Bay. The Lysander was instructed to return to base as the search turned out to be a false alarm.

          18th June          A Walrus aircraft was ordered to search for the crew of a Whitley bomber reported in the sea two miles west of Bude. As the Walrus was approaching a flare attracted their attention to a dinghy in the sea. The six members of the crew were taken on board the Walrus, but owing to overloading the Walrus was forced to taxi to the beach at Bude. The aircraft was secured on the beach overnight and flown away the next morning. Rescue boats arrived at the scene after the Walrus had been beached.

          27th June          A Walrus proceeded to a position six miles south of Seaton and a thorough search carried out to an area ten miles south of Seaton and northward of Bridport. Two rescue launches were seen searching the area. All that could be found was an oil patch south of Lyme Regis.

          30th June          Although No.276 Air Sea Rescue Squadron is definitely not a fighting unit it was well represented in the " Honours of Awards List " this month.

                    DFC     to     A/F/O  Seabourne E. W.

                    AFM     to     Flight Sergeant Sainsbury J.

                    BEM     to     LAC  Burke H.


No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron :-

          1st June          The Squadron took off from R.A.F. Harrowbeer at 0825 hours ( twelve aircraft ) for R.A.F. Warmwell. At 1040 hours a Sweep was carried out over the Cherbourg area together with No's 310 and 154 Squadrons of the Exeter Wing. No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron escorted as top cover to six Boston bombers. No enemy aircraft were encountered.

          3rd June          At 1439 hours the Squadron took off on No.10 Group Circus No.6. The Squadron acted as top cover to twelve Boston bombers over the Cherbourg Peninsular and dockland. On the return flight FW190 enemy aircraft were seen and attacked. One pilot ( Flight Lieutenant Dvorak ) is reported as missing. One enemy aircraft was destroyed and four damaged. The Squadron landed back at R.A.F. Ibsley.

          6th June          At 0705 hours the Squadron flew to R.A.F. Redhill, Surrey. At 1145 hours they took part in a No.11 Group Circus.

          9th June          Three sections took part in an Army Co-operation exercise carrying out dive attacks on columns of vehicles and troops in the Barnstable area.

          14th June          Flight Sergeant Mares, Flight Sergeant Pipa and Sergeant Kohout were posted to No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron from No.313 Squadron.

          19th June          During the day the Squadron took part in three convoy shipping patrols, two Air Sea Rescues and one section on patrol.

          20th June          Five sections sent off on scrambles. Nothing to report.

          22nd June          Five aircraft were sent to R.A.F. Bolt Head to take over readiness there. The ground staff proceeded there by road. The remainder of the Squadron at R.A.F. Harrowbeer carried out six scrambles, one convoy patrol and battle formation practice.

                    Wing Commander the Hon. E. F. Ward made a visit to " B " Flight Dispersal where he talked to the pilots about flying discipline, economy in the use of petrol and security.

          23rd June          The Squadron took off with nine aircraft from R.A.F. Harrowbeer and two from R.A.F. Bolt Head for R.A.F. Exeter. At 1005 hours they took off in the Exeter Wing acting as rear escort for Boston bombers with Morlaix Aerodrome as their target. On the return flight Flying Officer Perina crash landed at R.A.F. Bolt Head and Flight Lieutenant Kasal's aircraft landed at R.A.F. Exeter being damaged by enemy fire. When landing at R.A.F. Bolt Head Flight Sergeant Mares collided with a Spitfire of No.310 Squadron.

                    Air Sea Rescue Searches went on for several hours in a vain search for Wing Commander A. Vasatko. A pilot was discovered in a dinghy but turned out to be a German pilot.

          28th June          There were three scrambles, two shipping reconnaissance sorties, one dawn patrol and several sorties for gun tests carried out today.

          29th June          An order was received from Headquarters Fighter Command to move part of the Squadron and all the aircraft to R.A.F. Redhill on 1st July 1942. According to the movement order the rail party would proceed on 30th June 1942 in the evening with the road party and air party in Spitfire aircraft and two transport planes on 1st July 1942.


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May 1942 


Wing Commander the Hon. E. F. Ward was the Commanding Officer for R.A.F. Harrowbeer and signed the Station Operation Record Book for the month of May.


Visitors to R.A.F. Harrowbeer included :-

          Air Commodore Peake  ( Director of Airforce Welfare )

          Reverend Group Captain A. McHardy  ( Staff Chaplain )

          Air Vice Marshall A. H. Orlebar  ( Air Officer Commanding H.Q. No.10 Group )

          Squadron Officer Nichol  ( H.Q. No.10 Group )

          Brigadier Bush  ( Commander of No.55 A.A. Brigade )

          Sector Commander C/G O.C.M. James DFC, AFC  ( Commanding Officer of R.A.F. Exeter )

          Lieutenant General Grasett  ( VII Corps Commander )




          The weather at the beginning of May was very poor with mist, drizzle and strong winds. Towards the middle of the month the weather improved allowing more flying practice and training flights to be carried out.


From the Station O.R.B.


          Strength of R.A.F. Harrowbeer Personnel :-  R.A.F. = 875          Army = 82

          No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron moved from R.A.F. Harrowbeer to R.A.F. Heston on the 7th May 1942.

          No.312 (Czech ) Squadron arrived at R.A.F. Harrowbeer from R.A.F. Fairwood Common on the 1st May 1942.

          Two Polish airmen were killed in a flying accident.

          On the 4th May 1942 Squadron Leader F. Constable was posted as Medical Officer to the Station.

          On the 27th May 1942 a Lancaster aircraft from No.207 Squadron crashed at Standen Hill, near Tavistock. A rescue party from R.A.F. Harrowbeer attended the accident, bringing the occupants back to base.

          30th May 1942 the new W.A.A.F. Site was occupied for the first time.


From the Squadron O.R.B.'s


No.16 Squadron :-

          On the 28th May 1942 No.16 Squadron were operating out of R.A.F. Weston Zoyland. On this day VII Corps Commanding Officer, Lieutenant General Grasett was flown to R.A.F. Harrowbeer and then back to R.N.A.S. Yeovilton.     ( The purpose of this visit is not known )


No.276 Air Sea Rescue Squadron     " B " Flight :-

          A large amount of flying activity carried out during the month of May which was spent mainly on ferry duties, air tests, experience flights for new pilots and air to air firing practice.

          There were seven A.S.R. sorties carried out during the month.

          4th May     A Walrus aircraft was ordered off to search for a dinghy in the sea thirty two miles off the Lizard Point, Cornwall. The aircraft took off in good weather but later experienced mist with poor visibility. A square search was carried out but nothing found. The search was abandoned on instructions from the controller.

          4th May     A Lysander aircraft at readiness was scrambled to search for an aircraft in the sea approximately half a mile from Maidcombe Bay. All that could be found was a large oil patch, there was no sign of any wreckage or aircrew. The search included several M.G.B.'s and M.L.'s but the search was unsuccessful.

          5th May     An Air Sea Rescue conference was held in R.A.F. Harrowbeer's Station Commander's Office. The position of No.276 A.S.R. was reviewed and suggestions of improvements based on the previous six months experience formulated. The number of aircraft distribution was discussed and it was decided that each detached flight should consist of three Lysanders or Defiants and one Walrus. A pool of four Lysanders was to be held of which two would be at R.A.F. Warmwell, Dorset and two at R.A.F. Harrowbeer, Devon.

          6th May     Lysander aircraft, serial No.T1698 was damaged on landing.

          9th May     Three Defiant aircraft arrived at Squadron Headquarters, ( Harrowbeer ).

          19th May     No.276 A.S.R. Squadron dispersal was invaded by press and film photographers who made a film of Air Sea Rescue work. The film was later shown at a Plymouth cinema.

          19th May     A Lysander aircraft was sent off to search for a barge proported to be carrying two men. The area was thoroughly searched but there was no trace of a barge. What was found was a number of small fishing vessels in the area. Later in the day a Walrus aircraft was ordered off to search for two men in a small boat eighteen to twenty miles off Bolt Head. A rescue boat and an armed vessel were discovered. It would appear that the occupants of the small boat had been picked up by one of these vessels.


No.286 ( A.A.C. ) Squadron :-  ( A.A.C. = Army Air Co-operation )

          No.286 ( A.A.C. ) Squadron moved from R.A.F. Colerne to R.A.F. Lulsgate Bottom on the 30th April 1942 and on the 1st May 1942 a detachment was sent to R.A.F. Harrowbeer. This consisted of two Miles Magister aircraft which were flown by Flying Officer Wilton to be used on Army Co-operation flights with No.55 Brigade in the Plymouth area.

          The detachment was closed down on the 26th May 1942.


No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron :-

          1st May     Aircraft from No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron which were still at R.A.F. Harrowbeer returned to R.A.F. Warmwell, Dorset in the morning to continue with their air firing practice course.

          5th May     Orders were received for No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron to move to R.A.F. Warmwell and then on to R.A.F. Heston.          At 1920 hours a large van was at Warmwell's railway station loaded with the Squadron's tool kits and on the 6th May a train was loaded along with twenty five airmen and their kit for onward travel to R.A.F. Heston.

          6th May     At 0630 hours five Officers and ninety airmen of No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron left R.A.F. Harrowbeer by rail to R.A.F. Heston.

          6th May     A Miles Magister aircraft en route from R.A.F. Harrowbeer to R.AF. Warmwell and then onto R.A.F. Heston crashed a few miles from R.A.F. Warmwell killing both the pilot and passenger.

          7th May     Seventeen aircraft left R.A.F. Warmwell for R.A.F. Heston after their air firing practice course.


No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron :-

          The aircraft being operated by No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron at this period of time was the Spitfire VB.

          The Squadron Commanding Officer was Squadron Leader J. Cermak.

          An advance party arrived at R.A.F. Harrowbeer on the 1st May 1942, followed by a road and rail party.

          On the 4th May the Squadron was at readiness in six sections from 0540 hours and carried out four shipping convoy patrols and one scramble.

          6th May     Nine scrambles carried out today.

          Sections of No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron were being sent daily to operate from R.A.F. Bolt Heads on stand-by duties until the 12th May 1942.

          On the 8th May five sections were detailed to patrol in an area north of Plymouth from 1100 hours. These patrols were intended to cover the area where the Royal Family were visiting.

          17th May     A detachment of the Squadron was sent to R.A.F. Warmwell, Dorset for a group practice camp ( air firing practice ) with a road and rail party following up on the 18th May. The detachment returned to R.A.F. Harrowbeer on the 30th May.

          31st May     Practice wing formations with No.310 and No.154 Squadrons were carried out.

          The total number of flying hours for No.312 ( Czech ) Squadron for the month of May 1942 was  376.25  hours. Most of this time was spent carrying out shipping convoy patrols, cross country flights, familiarization flights, scrambles and air tests.


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Copies of the Station and Squadron Operation Record Books are kept at ' Knightstone House ' -  R.A.F. Harrowbeer Archives ' and are available to view at ' Abigail's at Knightstone ' or by appointment ( Telephone :- 01822 853679     Archivist :- Michael Hayes ).

This page is updated each month and only shows the four most current months.

Please contact me if you have or want to find out more information regarding the O.R.B.'s and R.A.F. Harrowbeer.
                                                     Thank you     Michael Hayes