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BLACK THURSDAY

16/17th DECEMBER 1943

75th ANNIVERSARY

 

THORPE CAMP WREATH LAYING

16TH DECEMBER 2018

1PM

 

To commemorate “Black Thursday” on the 16TH December at 1pm there will be a wreath laying at the propeller memorial at Thorpe Camp. (The 97 (Straits Settlements) Squadron memorial is in the process of refurbishments during winter).

Black Thursday is the night of highest losses suffered by the squadron during the war and most of those after returning from the raid. Whilst other squadrons suffered losses that night 97 squadron’s losses were the most severe; 9 Lancasters lost, 28 crew died, 7 crew injured. In December 1943 the squadron was based at RAF Bourn and was a 3 flight squadron totalling 21 Lancasters, that night’s raid was a “Maximum Effort” meaning all aircraft were participating in the raid, a raid on Berlin. This was part of the Battle of Berlin (November 1943 to March 1944).

Losses:

9 Aircraft lost

Only 1 crew were lost on the operation over Berlin, that of:

JB963Q  F/L D.J.Brill, F/L R.E.Handley (2nd Pilot), Sgt J.Stone, P/O N.G.McIntyre, P/O R.Butler, Sgt H.Chappell, P/O G.J.Little, F/Sgt E.Battle.  Up 1655 – missing.

 

1 aircraft was badly damaged, written off, on landing away from Bourn, that of:

JA908N  Sgts W.D.Coates, R.H.Nicholas, G.Nuttall, P/O E.H.Baldwin, Sgts W.Chapman, W.L.York, F.Thompson.  Up 1700  Down 0130.  5 x 2000lb.  Berlin attacked from 19,000’.  Bombs released in centre of concentration of green TIs.  Returned on two engines, both on port side, and all instruments u/s.  Landed at Downham Market. (F/Sgt Coates after being hit by another aircraft’s incendiaries and having two engines put out of action on the same side by flak, put out a ditching signal when not far from the Danish coast.  With great skill he flew the aircraft back on the two engines and landed safely without further damage at Downham Market.)

 

2 crew bailed out over England, P/O Smith and F/O Mooney the captains, bailed out safely over Ely and Wyton.

JB531Y  P/O F.Smith, Sgt F.E.Durn, P/O J.W.Arthurson, F/Sgt J.A.Wilson, Sgts G.H.Townend, N.Stewart, C.A.Bradshaw.  Up 1700  Down not shown.  5 x 2000lb.  Bombs released on Berlin from 20,000’.  No results of bombing seen.  On return to base fog and low cloud made landing dangerous so crew bailed out from 7,000’.  All landed safely.

JB482S  F/O R.L.Mooney, Sgts F.B.Gray, G.A.Johnson, F/Sgt J.Worsdale, Sgt N.D.Cameron, F/Sgt G.Woolf, F/Sgt L.Smith.  Up 1705  Down 0035.  5 x 2000lb.  Berlin bombed from 19,500’.  Target identified by red and green TIs and Wanganui flares.  On return crew bailed out owing to weather conditions making landing too dangerous.

 

5 crashed on return to England. Results in 28 dead 7 injured.

 

F/Sgt Scott and crew crashed at Graveley, all being killed.

JB117C  F/Sgt I.W.Scott, Sgts E.W.Collishaw, J.Peek, D.R.Irvine, S.G.Parrott, K.Foxcroft, S.L.Hope.  Up 1650  No down time.  5 x 2000lb.  Aircraft crashed on return to base due to fog and low cloud.  All members of the crew were killed.

 

Crashed at Bourn on the edge of the airfield. Three were killed – S/L Mackenzie, F/O Colson, P/O Pratt, the remainder are either in hospital or sick quarters.

JB119F  S/L D.Mackenzie, P/O J.Pratt, F/Sgt R.Marshall, F/O W.A.Colson, F/Sgt A.Hunter, F/Sgt W.A.Lang, F/Sgt K.Kirby.  Up 1645  Down 0045.  5 x 2000lb.  Crashed on landing at base.  Captain, Flight Engineer and Air Bomber killed.

 

F/O Thckway and crew crashed near Bourn airfield, killing all except Sgt Mack who is in hospital and Sgt Laver who escaped uninjured.

JB176K  F/O E.Thackway, Sgts G.Grundy, J.Powell, P/O L.K.Grant, P.H.Mack, R.Lawrence, L.N.Laver.  Up 1655  Down 0100.  5 x 2000lb.  Crashed on landing after raid on Berlin due to fog and low cloud.  The Captain, Flight Engineer, Navigator, Air Bomber and mid upper gunner were killed.  Wireless Op was injured but the rear gunner escaped injury.

 

P/O Kirkwood and crew crashed near Gransden, all being killed.

JB219R  P/O J.Kirkwood, F/Sgt E.Hubbard, Sgt R.Stewart, F/O G.A.Wigley, Sgts R.G.Cleeve, L.Madeley, J.Killen.  Up 1650  Down 0010.  5 x 2000lb.  Crashed on landing on returning from raid on Berlin owing to bad visibility and low cloud, all members of the crew being killed.

 

S/L Deverill DFC DFM and crew crashed at Graveley, all being killed except for W/O Benbow who is in Ely hospital.

JB243P  S/L E.A.Deverill, F/Sgt A.Russell, P/O J.T.Brown, F/Sgt J.Farr, F/Sgt R.Crossgrove, W/O J.Benbow, W/O D.J.Penfold.  Up 1645  Down 0015.  5 x 2000lb.  Crashed at Grevelay on returning from attack on Berlin owing to very bad visibility and low cloud.  All members of the crew were killed except the mid upper gunner who was injured.

 

 

 

Lest We Forget

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Target marking Flares

World War 2

In all, 97 Squadron lost 123 aircraft on operations in the course of completing 4066 sorties. Personnel from the Squadron won 18 DSOs, one OBE, 228 DFCs, 41 Bars to the DFC, one BEM, 163 DFMs, 2 Bars to the DFM, 2 United States of America DFCs, 2 Belgian Croix de Guerres and one Russian Medal of Valour. Recently the French Government has bestowed the la legion d'honneur to members of 97 Squadron

Missile

Cold War

In 1955 the contract from the United States Government for the development of an IRBM (Intermediate Range Ballistic missile) system went to the Douglas Aircraft Corporation, which by prodigious feats of design and engineering delivered the first SM - 75 Thor in October 1956 and despite an inauspicious start in the flight test programme - the first 4 launches ended in failure - the system was declared operational in 1959 and place under the control of bomber Command.

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Today

The squadron continues today through the 97 (straits settlements) Squadron Association. The Association is for all those who have served with 97 Squadron and is open to their relatives and friends as well.

This is the location for our Memory Page, where we remember those who survived the war but have since sadly departed us. It also contains news items and photo galleries from previous reunion events. This is continually being updated.

 

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History

The history of 97 Squadron from its forming in December 1917, at Waddington to assuming the title of “97 (Straits Settlements) Squadron”,in February 1941. Finally its cold war importance.

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Roll Of Honour

97 (Straits Settlements) Squadron suffered losses during World war 2. Listed here all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

"Lest We Forget"

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Links

The 97 (Straits Settlements) Squadron Association is proud to be associated with.

 

 

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Contact Us

We are always updating this site. If you notice any error or omission please get in touch here.

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