75 Years Ago from the Archives.

75 Years ago from the Operation Record Books for

R.A.F. Harrowbeer



April  1942


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


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


          H. R. H. the Duke of Gloucester

          Major Howard Kerr

          Lieutenant Colonel H. C. Lloyd  CBE, DSO, MC, GOC

          Brigadier T. Fairfax  MC  ( Commander of 211 Infantry Brigade )




          The month started very changeable with a mixture of sunshine and showers. The second week of April was very poor resulting in several days of no flying activity due to poor visibility caused by thick mist. At the end of the month there was a great improvement in the weather which resulted in a lot of flying practice and operational sorties.


From the Station O.R.B.


          On April 2nd R.A.F. Harrowbeer was ordered to man all automatic weapons and to take up defensive positions over the night-time periods until the 7th April.

          H. R. H. the Duke of Gloucester and Major Howard Kerr made a visit to R.A.F. Harrowbeer when on route to R.A.F. Mount Batten. H. R. H. lunched in the Officer's Mess and talked to pilots of No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron and No.276 Air Sea Rescue Squadron.

          April 12th          Circus No.122 was carried out by No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron in the Hazebrook ans St. Omer areas of France.

          April 14th          Circus No.133 carried out by No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron in the area of Caern, France.

          R.A. F. Harrowbeer Station Salvage Drive commenced after working hours each day. Up until the 23rd April seventeen tons of metal had been salvaged along with large quantities of paper, cardboard, rags etc.

          On the 17th April the Station Reference Library and Technical Site were opened.

          High explosive and incendiary bombs were dropped in the Yelverton area on the 23rd April. There was no damage to R.A.F. property.

         April 24th          Station Rifle Competition.

          R.A.F. Harrowbeer Station National Saving's Group completed it's first six months. The saved a total of £1244.


From the Squadron O.R.B.'s


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

          A lot of April was spent on local flying, practice dinghy drops, sector reconnaissance, air tests and ferry work. Also carried out were seven Lysander aircraft rescue sorties.

          Six new pilots were posted to the Squadron.

          1st April          A change in administration procedures was introduced. " Previous records have been submitted as individual flight reports but this has not been proved very successful. It has therefore been arranged for Flight Commanders to submit weekly reports of all activities and they are being amalgamated at Squadron Headquarters to form a Squadron Operation Record Book ".

          On the first of April a Walrus aircraft was damaged in a severe gale when the aircraft was blown onto it's port wing.

          3rd April          A search was carried out by No.276 A.S.R. Squadron for a parachute that was seen eight miles out from the Eddystone Lighthouse. A shipping vessel picked up the parachute but there was no sign of anything else.

          8th April          Sergeant Yates and Sergeant Lloyd carried out their first solo flights in the Lysander aircraft.

          On the 10th April the Squadron held it's first Squadron Dance on the airfield which was well attended by officers and airmen.

          Another search was carried out on the 17th April in an area of sea to the east of Dartmouth in conjunction with a Royal Naval vessel. The area was thoroughly searched, first by a strip search and then by a square search of the area. The only thing that was found was a quantity of small fishing vessels.

          Members of the Air Sea Rescue Squadron were introduced to H. R. H. the Duke of Gloucester where he had the chance to talk to some of the pilots.

          A Lysander aircraft was written off when it burst a tyre on landing. The aircrew were not injured in the incident.

          During the month No.276 A.S.R. Squadron played No.78 Signals Wing Calibration Flight to a football match, the result was a draw.


No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron :-

          The Squadron spent a lot of time during the first week of April operating from R.A.F. Bolt Head on standby where they carried out twelve scrambles. All uneventful.

          Other duties carried out from R.A.F. Harrowbeer included convoy patrol duties, scrambles and practice flights. During the last two weeks of the month the Squadron took part in operational sweeps which were carried out from R.A.F. Tangmere, Sussex and R.A.F. Warmwell, Dorset over France. No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron would join together with other Squadrons where they would act as top or bottom escort cover to bombers going too or returning from France or Germany.

          2nd April          Two shipping convoy patrols were flown but due to bad visibility they were cancelled as the convoys could not be found.

          5th April          Due to a break in the bad weather two scrambles to the Exeter area were undertaken, one at 20,000 feet and the other at 30,000 feet. Both proved uneventful and all aircraft returned safely to base.

          8th April          A Spitfire aircraft flown by Flying Officer Kaminski came off the runway and skidded, damaging a wing and the propeller. The pilot was uninjured.

          10th April          A convoy patrol was carried out by No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron in the area ten miles east of the Eddystone Lighthouse. Nothing unusual to report.

          12th April          Squadron Leader Kowalski plus eleven other Spitfire aircraft flew to R.A.F. Tangmere, Sussex for a sweep over France. Light flak was experienced. No enemy aircraft were seen and the Squadron returned to R.A.F. Tangmere. Squadron Leader Kowalski then flew on to R.A.F. Northolt and the remaining eleven Spitfire aircraft returned to R.A.F. Harrowbeer.

          14th April          Fourteen Spitfire aircraft led by Squadron Leader Kowalski flew to R.A.F. Tangmere, Sussex for a sweep over France, they were assisted by No.308 Squadron. Owing to the Controller from R.A.F. Middle Wallop ordering Nos.302 and 308 Squadrons off too late, the rendezvous over Ibsley was not made. The two Squadrons flew towards Cherbourg where they approached the French Coast with No.302 Squadron at 16,000 feet and No.308 Squadron at 18,000 feet.          By this time the rest of the force were seen leaving the target area. No.302 and No.308 Squadrons acted as high escort cover to the force on the return journey. After landing at R.A.F. Tangmere No.302 Squadron returned to R.A.F. Harrowbeer.

          15th April          Twelve Spitfire aircraft led by Squadron Leader Kowalski were airborne for R.A.F. Warmwell, Dorset. After landing and refuelling they took off for a sweep acting as bomber escort to the Cherbourg area. There was no combat. On landing back at R.A.F. Warmwell, Sergeant Nozovski ( No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron ) crashed his Spitfire aircraft and was admitted to the Station Sick Quarters. The remaining eleven aircraft returned to R.A.F. Harrowbeer.

          More sweeps were carried out  during the rest of April. ( Details can be found in a copy of the " No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron Operation Record Book " which is held at the Knightstone / R.A.F. Harrowbeer Archives ).

          17th April          Pilot Officer Rytka shot down a ME109 north of Cherbourg.

          24th April          A Flying Officer while flying over R.A.F. Harrowbeer encountered trouble with the engine of his Spitfire aircraft and it started emitting black smoke. He crashed north east of Dousland, Yelverton and was admitted to hospital due to his injuries.

          26th April          Squadron Leader Kowalski claimed a FW190 as a probable.

          On the 26th April eleven Spitfire aircraft were detailed to fly to R.A.F. Warmwell to No.10 Group Practice Camp for air firing training. The rest of the month was spent at Warmwell carrying out air to air and air to ground firing practice. On the 30th of April the Squadron aircraft were refuelled and re-armed to carry out a sweep over France. After this operation the Spitfires returned to R.A.F. Warmwell where they carried on with their air firing course.


~   ~   ~   ~   ~



March  1942


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



          The Beginning of March started very cold and stormy with a large amount of mist and heavy rain. Towards the middle of the month the weather improved but was still misty and showery at times. The end of the month saw more improvements as the weather turned sunny with slight winds, the evening turning misty.


From the Station O.R.B.


          Very little was written for the month of March.

No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron acted as high cover to bombers raiding Abbeyville, France. No combat took place.

Aircraft from No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron took part in an operation from R.A.F. Tangmere, Sussex as close escort to bombers raiding Le Trait, France. There were no claims or casualties.


From the Squadron O.R.B.'s


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

          Most of March was spent on sector reconnaissance flights, air tests, practice dinghy drops. W/T and R/T tests and ferry flights.

          On the 8th March an Air Sea Rescue search was carried out twenty miles south of Seaton to investigate red flashes. The only sighting in the area was a small Naval patrol.

          An Air Sea Rescue mission was undertaken by No.276 Squadron on the 20th March when a Lysander aircraft was detailed to search an area ten miles off Torquay. A square search was carried out, but nothing seen.

          The 25th March another Air Sea Rescue search was carried out forty eight miles from Start Point. The search was uneventful apart from sighting what appeared to be an empty Mae West.

          On the 28th March there was another search twenty miles off Lyme Regis by a Lysander aircraft which discovered a dinghy with five occupants. The Lysander orbited the dinghy until it was forced to return to base due to lack of fuel. On their return flight five miles from where the dinghy was could be seen rescue boats heading towards it.


No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron :-

          During the month of March No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron carried out a fair amount of formation flying, practice flying and night flying experience.

          Operational flying consisted of :- sixteen convoy shipping patrols over the English Channel and twelve scrambles - four from R.A.F. Bolt Head and eight from R.A.F. Harrowbeer.

          On the 8th March thirteen aircraft took off to join up with other fighter and bomber aircraft at R.A.F. Redhill, Surrey to carry out bomber escort duties over France. No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron acted as high cover. The operation was uneventful. On their way back to R.A.F. Harrowbeer the Squadron was diverted into R.A.F. Exeter for the night.

          On the 10th March there was an uneventful scramble in the Exmouth / Torquay area.


          A convoy shipping patrol was carried out on the 20th March to fourteen vessels under the code name " Watch ".

          The 25th March saw twelve aircraft take off for R.A.F. Tangmere, Sussex. Nine aircraft flew from there to rendezvous with Boston Bombers on a " Circus " over France. The target was a factory in the region of Le Trait, France. On the way out eight ME109's were sighted but not challenged. The bombing of the target was carried out successfully, all aircraft returned safely to their respective bases.


~    ~    ~    ~    ~


February  1942


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


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

          H.R.H. the Duke of Kent

          Group Captain H. Edward Jones DFC, AFC  -  The Commanding Officer of R.A.F. Station Exeter

          Brigadier T. Fairfax Ross - Commanding Officer for No.211 Infantry



          The weather for February was generally good, being mainly cold, bright and occasionally windy. Snow was expected on two occasions, but nothing came of it. Overall it was a good month for flying.


From the Squadron O.R.B.'s


          During February there were two Station Defence Exercises carried out.

          The first one, early in the month was carried out with all positions being manned before dawn and participants included two companies of the 70th Ulster Rifles and R.A.F. personnel. The exercise was attended by Brigadier T. Fairfax Ross the Commanding Officer of No.211 Infantry Brigade.

          The second exercise was codenamed ' Drake '. The exercise commenced at 1500 hours on the 21st February until 1710 hours on the 22nd February and classed as an Invasion Defence Exercise. The airfield was captured during the night and then re-captured the following day by the Royal Ulster Rifles and the 11th Devons. A valuable lesson and great experience was gained by the personnel.

          7th February     Group Captain H. Edward Jones DFC, AFC visited the Station upon taking over command of R.A.F. Station Exeter.


From the Squadron O.R.B.'s


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

          Most of February was taken up by carrying out air tests, sector reconnaissance flights, air to sea firing practice and ferry flights.

          During February there were five Air Sea Rescue searches made, four of these were uneventful. The other search was to an area south west of the Eddystone Lighthouse where a large patch of oil and wreckage had been sighted on the sea. There was also an unopened dinghy, several Mae Wests and parachutes. In attendance on the search were a motor launch and a motor torpedo boat. Unfortunately there was no sign of any of the aircrew.


No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron :-

          On the 16th February H.R.H. the Duke of Kent made a visit to R.A.F. Harrowbeer where he met No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron at dispersal and talked to some of the pilots.

          The Squadron spent considerable time on practice flying and formation flying besides the usual cross country and sector reconnaissance flights. Towards the end of the month four aircraft were given permission to carry out formation flying over the airfield. Unfortunately two aircraft collided on the ground when taking off, the pilots were both uninjured.

          At least twenty days of the month were spent on convoy shipping patrols over the English Channel.

          The Squadron were scrambled on ten occasions during the month. Seven of these were from R.A.F. Bolt Head were the aircraft had been sent to carry out temporary cover from there. All of these scrambles were uneventful.

          The Squadron took part in the Invasion Defence Exercise ' Drake ' over the night of the 21st and 22nd of February.


~   ~   ~   ~   ~


January  1942 

The Station Commander for the month of January 1942 was the Hon. E. F. Ward.

The Station Operation Record Book was signed by Squadron Leader R. W. Langmaid ( Station Administration ).


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

          Wing Commander Biles from the Air Ministry

          Flight Lieutenant Brown from the Air Ministry

          Okehampton Squadron Air Training Corps Cadets

          Newton Abbot Squadron Air Training Corps Cadets

          Captain A. E. Cooke  -  Brigade Senior Officer

          Wing Commander Oakley Beuttler


From the Station O.R.B.


          2nd January     Captain A. E. Cooke - Senior Officer for the Brigade paid a visit to the Aerodrome.

          4th January     Parties of Air Cadets from the Okehampton Air Training Corps Squadron arrived on a visit of the Aerodrome.

          7th January    A visit today by Flight Lieutenant Brown from the Air Ministry.

          8th January     A visit by Wing Commander Oakley Beuttler.

          11th January     Cadets from Newton Abbot Air Training Corps Squadron made a visit to the Aerodrome.

          12th January     No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron left for R.A.F. Warmwell for an air firing training course, returning on the 17th.

          18th January     A visit today by more Air Training Corps Cadets from the Newton Abbot Squadron.

          28th January     Wing Commander Biles from the Air Ministry paid a visit to the Aerodrome today.


From the Squadron O.R.B.'s


No.78 Signals Wing Calibration Flight :-

          Operating with Blenheim IV aircraft on radar communication flights. The Flight Office and crew rooms were on the ground floor of Knightstone House ( the Watch Office ).


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

          No.276 Air Sea Rescue Squadron was formed at R.A.F. Harrowbeer on the 21st October 1941 in Knightstone House which became their Squadron Headquarters.

          The month of January was spent mainly on aircraft tests ( Lysanders and Walrus aircraft ), air to sea firing practice, W/T and R/T test, Sector Reconnaissance flights and mock attacks on the Station A.A. gun-posts.

          On the 6th and 11th of January Air Sea Rescue searches were made off Bolt Tail and Start Point for a missing boat, but nothing was sighted. There was another search carried out on the 26th for an abandoned aircraft off Bolt Head, again nothing was found apart from a Barrage Balloon in the sea.


No.302 Squadron ( Polish ) :-

          The Squadron was operating with Spitfire VB aircraft and spent a lot of time carrying out practice flights and training which included :- formation flying, camera attack practice and dog fight practice.

          On the 11th January fifteen Spitfire aircraft flew to R.A.F. Warmwell for ' firing training ' on a gunnery course. All the aircraft returned to R.A.F. Harrowbeer by the 25th January.

          There were five occasions when the Squadron carried out convoy shipping patrols over the English Channel.

          The Squadron were scrambled five times during the month, one of these was to assist a bomber that was in distress.

          On the 26th January No.302 ( Polish ) Squadron was ordered to R.A.F. Bolt Head where they carried out reconnaissance patrols over the English Channel. At 1125 hours four Spitfire aircraft took off and after a short while one returned due to mechanical failure. The other three aircraft continued on the patrol but only one returned to R.A.F. Harrowbeer, the other two were lost, the pilots being posted as missing in action.


~    ~    ~    ~    ~

Copies of the Station and Squadron Operation Record Books are kept at ' Knightstone / R.A.F. Harrowbeer Archives ' and are available to view 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