Ground Crew

We need information on anyone and everyone connected with 97 Squadron! Can you help? If so, please e-mail information and pictures to the webmaster.

Corporal Sidney Mathews BEM
From the London Gazette - 14th March 1944
The King has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the British Empire Medal (Military Division) to the undermentioned:-
1250011 Corporal Sidney John Mathews, RAFVR
"One night in December 1943 this airman observed a Lancaster crash in a field. He immediately ran across several ploughed fields to reach the aircraft, which was by then burning fiercely. Corporal Mathews succeeded in extricating the wireless operator and in pulling two other members of the crew from the blazing wreckage. Then after attending to the rear gunner who had been thrown clear and was dazed, Corporal Mathews went to a telephone and reported the crash to his base. Later he directed the fire tender and the ambulance to the scene. By his prompt and courageous action this airman saved the life of the wireless operator and rendered valuable assistance in most harassing and difficult circumstances."
A post-war photograph of Sidney Mathews BEM
Newspaper cutting which gives details of Corporal Mathews' heroic action.
Pphoto of Sidney Mathews taken in 2004, a year before he passed away.
The photo above was provided by by Stephen Belton. His father was Corporal Belton (2nd from right back row). This photo was taken at Coningsby. Anyone recognising any of thes guys, pleases e-mail me with details.
AC2 Aubrey Taylor
Above is a photo of AC2 Aubrey Taylor who served as an armourer with 97 Squadron at Woodhall Spa. He was killed in tragic circumstances on 28th December 1942 when he was working inside Lancaster A-Queenie and a photoflash ignited. The aircraft, which was carrying a full bomb load, exploded and AC2 Taylor was killed. He was laid to rest in the cemetery of his home town of Ipswich in Suffolk.
The 97 Squadron Operations Record Book records the tragic incident: -
The aircraft “A” for “Queenie” (autographed by Queen Elizabeth) was very badly damaged.  The aircraft was loaded with incendiaries and petrol ready for ops when the photoflash exploded killing A/C2 Taylor (Armourer) who was in the aircraft.  The fuselage from the wings to the tail was completely destroyed.  Although other airmen were near the aircraft and one on the starboard wing, no one else was injured beyond the armourer.  This was due to the explosion blasting out to port.  The cause remains unknown but an investigation has been convened.
How gratifying it is to know that on Remembrance Sunday in 2006, nearly 64 years after his sad death, Aubrey Taylor's relatives travelled to Ipswich Cemetery to pay their respects to one of 97 Squadron's young men who died so tragically.
Sergeant Henry William Street
Sergeant Street's service trade was "ACH/Compass Adjuster" and he was posted to RAF Bourn in Cambridgeshire at the latter end of 1942. He served there with 97 Squadron until April 1944 when he was transferred with the rest of the Squadron to Coningsby.
Originally, Henry had hoped to be enlisted for Aircrew but it was found that his eyesight was not up to the required standard. While at Coningsby he met LACW Evangeline Logan (known as "Paddy" to her friends) and they married at Lincoln Cathedral on May 1st 1945 or 1946.
Henry passed away in1966.
If you click on to our WAAF section you will see a brief synopsis of "Paddy's" service.
Paddy has sent us in a photo of three 97 men from about 1944.
Does anyone recognise anyone of these three guys?
Corporal Eric Hall
Corporal Eric Hall was an Instrument Repairer and served with 97 Squadron between 1941 and 1945 at Coningsby, Woodhall Spa and Bourn. Corporal Hall was mentioned in dispatches which was recorded in the London Gazette..
Johnathan Hall, his son, has kindly sent us this information and has also sent us some nice photos
Sadly Corporal Hall passed away in 1985.
97 Squadron Ground Crew - RAF Bourn 1943
The photograph below is of some 97 Squadron ground crew personnel.
A enlargement of this photo is exhibited in Morrison's Superstore in Cambridge
This photo was taken at Bourn around July 1943. (Left to right) Sqn Ldr "Johnnie" Sauvage DSO DFC & Bar with three of his groundcrew, Alex Cunningham, "Snuggle". Joe Powell and Jack (or Jock) Ramsay.
97 Squadron Instrument Repairers, Coningsby 17th June 1944
Back row (left to right) LAC Salter, Cpl Mclean, LAC Adcock, Pilot Officer Markwell, AC Fletcher, Sgt Sadler, LAC Murphy, AC Shelton, AC Rosser, LAC Scott.
Middle Row (left to right) Cpl James, ' Eric' Hall, LAC Deacon, Flt/Lt Patterson, Flt/Sgt Fry, Cpl Dawson, AC Truswell, CPL Ellis
Front row (left to right) LAC Thomas, LAC Mitchell, LAC Lord
97 Squadron Instrument Section 1949 on photo to enlarge
Peter Holdsworth has supplied the above photo of the 97 Squadron Instrument Section, taken in 1949. (Left to right) - Derek Neale (Powis Square, London), Unknown, Bill Hayton (Otley), Jerry Burton (Derby), Des Paynes (Staines, Middlesex), Ron Jones (Birmingham). Missing from the photo is Ivor Perkins (from Birmingham), who was on leave at the time and Peter Holdsworth himself (who is the shadow in the photo!)
LAC Roy Whitehead
Karen Barker has provided this photograph of her father, LAC Roy Whitehead. He came to 97 Squadron as ground crew in June 1942 and stayed with the Squadron until March 1944 when C Flight of 97 went to make up the new 635 Squadron, and Roy went with them.
Anyone who knew Roy can e-mail Karen direct
LAC Brian Macken
LAC Brian Macken looking out of the cockpit of a 97 Squadron Avro Lincoln at Hemswell in 1948.
Shallufa, Egypt, Christmas 1949
A group of 97 Squadron ground crew in a makeshift bar at Shallufa during Christmas 1949. Does anyone recognise any of these characters?
LAC Kenneth Brown
This is LAC Kenneth Brown who recalls his service with 97 Squadron - " I served as a LAC rigger, or air frame mechanic, at Bourn during almost the entire period the squadron was operating from that base which, of course, meant I was there on Black Thursday. I am finding it difficult to remember which aircraft I was servicing that night but it must have been one of the safe returns because I was back in  the billet by the time I heard the two aircraft crash in the near vicinity. In April 1944, I left the squadron and was posted to 635 Squadron at Downham market, and subsequently became a Met Air Observer, finishing up at Waddington with 617 Squadron.
I have a picture of myself at Bourn (above) wearing a white flash in my cap, presumably because even at that time I had been selected for air crew training. My friend at Bourn was "Ginger" Freed who was posted to Downham with me.
Whilst at Bourn I was a member of the concert party which performed on site and at adjacent air fields; we had a name but I can not recall what we called ourselves. I was a total amateur, reciting Stanley Holloway monologues in my native dialect and doing an impersonation of Carmen Miranda. As for the rest, most were truly professional. There was a large hut just inside the gates where we performed at Bourn to a lot of good natured barracking especially when we visited other sites. "
Alan George Gee
(Above) This is Alan Gee who served in the RAF from 22nd June I942 until 14th November 1946 and was attached to 97 Squadron for a while during the war.  He drove a tender out to the aircraft as they were coming back from the bombing raids.  One of the artefacts Alan obtained during his service with the Squadron was a drawing done by an RAF artist stationed with him at Coningsbury/Woodhall Spa.  It is of a Lancaster with the letters OF-W on the side, and is reproduced below.
Sadly, Alan Lee passed away in March 2008 – may he rest in peace.