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21 June 2005




Formed 17th. March 1930. R.A.F. Thornaby, Yorkshire.

September 1939 — January 1942. R.A.F. Thornaby, Yorkshire. {18 Group}
{September 1939 — December 1941} Detachment; Dyce, Aberdeenshire.
{July 1941 — December 1941} Detachment; Bircham Newton, Norfolk. {16 Group}
January 2 1942 — 20 July 1942. R.A.F. Skitten, Wick, Caithness.
August 5 1942 — August 1942. Sumburgh, Shetlands.
(August 1942 — August 1942} Detachment; Gosport, Hampshire. {16 Group}
September 9 — December 17 1942. North Front, Gibraltar.
December 1942 — July 1943. Blida, Algeria.
{December 1942 — August 1943} Detachment; Bone, Algeria.
August 1943. Protville.
September 1943. Bo Rizzo.
{September 1943 — October 1943} Detachment; Grottaglie, Italy.
October 1943. Montecorvino, Sicily.
December 1943. Grottaglie, Italy.
{December 1943 — February 1944} Detachment; Guado.
January 1943 - February 1944. Montecorvino, Sicily.
{February 1944 — July 1944} Detachment; Bo Rizzo.
Disbanded 31st July 1944.

Reformed 1st August 1944.
1 August 1944 — 28 August 1945.
No 8 Pathfinder Group. Bomber Command “Light Night Striking Force.” R.A.F. Downham Market, Norfolk.

Reformed 10th May 1946.
10 May 1946 — 10 March 1957. R.A.F. Thornaby, Yorkshire.
{Closure Decision taken on January 15 1957}
{Final Parade. February 24 1957}



17 March 1930 — December 31 Avro 504 Lynx.
December 1931- January 1937. Westland Wapiti IIA.

Redesignated to a Fighter Squadron
16 January 1937 — 20 March 1939. Demon.

Redesignated to a General Reconnaissance Unit.
20 March 1939. Anson.
October 1939 — November 1940. Blackburn Botha I/ June 1940 Anson I.
February 1941. Blenheim I.
February 1941. Blenheim IV.
July 1941. Lockheed Hudson V.
March 1943. Lockheed Hudson VI.
June 1943. Lockheed Hudson IIIA.

Redesignated No 8 Pathfinder Light Night Striking Force.
1 August 1944. Mosquito B. XX, B. XXV, B. XVI; August 1944 onwards.

Redesignated Night Fighter Unit.
July 1947. Mosquito NF30.

Redesignated Day Fighter Squadron.
August 1948. Spitfire F 22.
December 1949. Vampire/Spitfire phased out June 1951.
April 1959. FB 9’s.

Motto: Omnibus ungulis (With all talons)
Badge: A falcon’s leg, erased, belied and fessed. The falcon’s leg was chosen to indicate the squadron’s readiness to go into the air at any time and attack tooth and nail.
Authority: King George VI, July 1937.

Squadron Codes used:-
PG Oct 1938-Sep 1939.
UL Sep 1939-1942.
6T 1944-1945, 1949-Apr 1951.
RAO May 1946-1949.


26 February 1938
Cpl. Laycock, M. R. {Aux} A.F.
Accidentally killed in a motorcycle accident.
6 October 1939
PltOff. Scott, J. RAF
Accidentally killed in a motorcycle accident. Cremated at West Hartlepool.
27 October 1939
Anson 1 N5204 UL-N
PltOff. Baird, A.D. RAF No known grave.
FltLt. Garnett, G.W. R. (Aux) A. F.
AC2. Smith. Wounded.
Cpl. Wilson, R.A. RAF A/g. Buried at Stockton.
On routine patrol the aircraft was shot down near the Humber Lightship, by a Hurricane based at Digby. HMS Stork recovered AC2 Smith and the body of Cpl. Wilson.
19 Nov 1939
PltOff. Robertson, J.W.C. Attached to 220 Sqn.
2 Feb 1940
Anson I N5199 UL-M
FgOff. Johnson. Safe.
PltOff. Lambert. Safe.
AC2 Lumley. Injured.
Cpl.Young. Safe.
On M/T Convoy Patrol, the aircraft force landed in the sea due to engine failure and sank after 45 minutes. A minesweeper 6 miles off Blyth, Northumberland, picked up the crew
6 June 1940
AC2. Nutter, F.W. RAF
Died as the result of wounds received during air raid. Buried at Burnley.
10 June 1940
Cpl. Wilson, J. RAF Buried at Billingham.
Accidentally struck by a propeller blade during the blackout.
16 June 1940
Anson 1 N5067 UL-L
PltOff. Duncan. Injured
Sgt. Walpole, L.B. R. (Aux) A.F. Died of wounds 19 June 1940.
In bad visibility, the aircraft hit high-tension cables and crashed near Brotten.
August 24 1940
Botha I L6209 UL-O
PltOff. Horner, D.H.F. Injured.
PltOff. Reid. Safe.
On a convoy escort mission, the engine cut out after take-off. The Botha was belly-landed but hit a ditch at Ormsby, County Durham.
31 August 1940
Botha I L6165 UL
PltOff. Creed, T.H. RAF No known grave.
PltOff. Barrett. Wounded
AC1. Corrigan, T.E. R. (Aux) A. F. No known grave.
AC2. Beadnall, G. R. (Aux) A .F.
Took off on a training flight but was unable to land due to the presence of intruders. The aircraft was presumed to have ditched in the North Sea.
7 March 1941
Anson I R9817 UL-Y
Sgt. Cutting, R.M. RAF No known grave.
Sgt. Frost. Safe
Sgt. Edwards, T.A. RAF No known grave.
Sgt. White, A.C. RAFVR
Left for a transit flight to Dyce, but ditched at 0840 hours. At about 0900 hours information was received that an aircraft had crashed in the sea off Whinnyfold, and the coastguard sent out a motor boat from Cruden Bay. She found nothing, but a Destroyer picked up Sgt. Frost, 3 miles off Collieston, Aberdeen.
30 June 1941
Blenhiem IV Z5982 UL-L
PltOff. Sir MacRobert, I.W. RAFVR No known grave
Sgt. Best, A.P. RAFVR
Sgt. Hillwood, H. RAFVR
FgOff. Keating, R.K. RAFVR
The aircraft was on an air sea rescue sortie and ditched while searching for a dingy that had been reported at 5325N 0230E.
2 September 1941
Hudson V AM599 UL-H
F/Sgt. Broomhead, William Collin Eugene. RAFVR Pilot. Flekkefjord Cemetery.
Sgt. Thomas, Basil Lawson. RAFVR Pilot.
Sgt. Christie, John Millar. RAFVR Wo/Ag.
Sgt. Law, George. RAFVR Wo/Ag.
7 September 1941
Hudson V AM601 UL-N
Sgt, Harrington. Injured
Sgt. Foster. Injured
Sgt. Bennett. Injured
Sgt. Corrie, T.R.B. RAFVR Died of injuries
Took off to provide air cover for convoy EC70. The aircraft overshot the runway at 2245 hours during a night landing at Thornaby and crashed into valley beyond the East/West runway.
20 October 1941
Hudson V AM523 UL-F
Sgt. Hendy, A. RAFVR Frederikshavn Cemetery.
Sgt. Symons, S.A. RAFVR
Sgt. Wright, W.P. RAF
Sgt. White, W. RAFVR
Took off in a battle flight with two other aircraft from the squadron. After failing to find any shipping the flight turned to attack the Thisted seaplane base. After dropping bombs on the slipway F/608 was seen to make a vertical bank and dropped out of sight. Shortly afterwards an aircraft was seen burning on the ground.
5 November 1941
Hudson V AM657 UL-D
WgCdr. Darbyshire, R.S. RAF
PltOff. Berry, J.D. RAFVR
Sgt. Mandall, S.R. RAFVR
FgOff. Hoar, G.A. RAFVR
Hudson V AM642 UL-R
Sgt. Yeates, G.R. RCAF
Sgt. Hazlett, F.J. RCAF
Sgt. Sansome, J.
Sgt. Elkington, E.W.
Took off in company in the early evening for a shipping strike off the Frisian Islands and failed to return.
16 November 1941
Hudson V AM883 UL-N
F/Sgt. Wood, R.C. RAF Buried in Dyce Churchyard.
Sgt. Neville, R.J. RAFVR Buried in Dartford Churchyard
Sgt. Pain, L.J. RAFVR Buried in Wandsworth Churchyard.
Sgt. Shuidan. Injured.
On a patrol from Stavanger to Kristainsand, at 2055 hours the aircraft was diverted to Kinloss. Flew into high ground at The Buck, 2 miles west of Lumsden, Aberdeenshire at 2235 hours.
23 November 1941
Hudson V AM715 UL-T
F/Sgt. Fullerton, George Noile. RCAF Frederikshavn Cemetery.
F/Sgt. MacMillan, Russel Hamilton. RCAF
Sgt. Short, John. RAFVR
Sgt. Simmonds, Francis George. RAFVR
On a routine Horn Li patrol from Horns Rock in Denmark to Lista in Norway. At mid-morning the aircraft flew in over Denmark by the town of Henne, on the west coast of Jutland. Then took a course for Tarm and flew north over the town of Skjern’ crossing right over the railroad between the two towns. According to an eyewitness report, the aircraft suddenly plunged down and struck the fence that ran beside the railway and burst into flames. One of the crew was thrown clear of the flames and later died as the result of wounds received.
6 Feb 1942.
Sgt. Bennett, Douglas Leonard. RAF Wo/Ag. Trondheim Cemetery.
7 Feb 1942.
FltLt. Walker, David Frank. DFC RAFVR Pilot. Trondheim Cemetery.
17 March 1942.
FgOff. Martel, M.J. RAAF No known grave
20 April 1942.
F/Sgt. Wilson, David Robert. RAFVR Sola Cemetery.
W/Off. Bonathan, Lewis Clifford. RAF Trondheim Cemetery.
F/Sgt. Hemery, Albert Anthony, RCAF
Sgt. Leek, Bernard Harry. RAF
F/Sgt. Willey, Thomas Edward. RAFVR
23 May 1942.
Lt. Callaghan, G.B. SAAF Pilot. Trondheim Cemetery.
Sgt. Cameron, William Muir. RAFVR Wo/Ag.
Sgt. Davie, Arthur Collins, RAFVR Obs. Bergen Cemetery
26 June 1943.
F/Sgt. Dettmann, R.A.K. RAAF El Alia Cemetery.
F/Sgt. Beitz, C.F. RAAF
FgOff. Wecker, A.R. RAAF
12 July 1943.
FgOff. Ellis, D.W. RAAF Malta Memorial
F/Sgt. Rubens, N.A. RAAF
F/Sgt. Van Waning, K. RAAF
14 September 1943.
F/Sgt. Pettitt, E.N. RAAF Malta Memorial
FgOff. Bradley, B.G.S. RAAF
F/Sgt. Sheldon, L.W. RAAF
27 January 1944.
F/Sgt. Thornton, L. RAAF Malta Memorial
21 February 1944.
F/Sgt. Dietman, J.A. RAAF Cambridge City Cemetery.
27/28 August 1944. Mosquito XX KB212.
FgOff. Coles, M.W. DFC RCAF
Flt.Lt. Darby, C.E. DFM RCAF
13/14 September 1944. Mosquito XX KB359.
Took off at 2042 hours from Downham Market on an operation to Berlin and crashed at 2315 hours, 11km NW from Naven.
SqnLdr. Barrett, C.R. DFC RAFVR {Veteran of over sixty missions}
FgOff. Fogden, E.S. RAFVR
15/16 September 1944. Mosquito XX KB239.
Took off at 2345 hours from Downham Market on an operation to Berlin and crashed at 0230 hours at Bahnof.
FltLt. Smith, B.H. RCAF
Sgt. Pegg, L.F. RAFVR
9 October 1944. Mosquito XX KB261.
Took off at 1803 hours from Downham Market on an operation to Wilhemshaven and on return to base dived into ground at 2130 hours.
FltLt. Gardner, R.G. RAFVR Buried at Bearstead Churchyard.
FgOFF. Sweetman, O.C. DFM RAFVR Buried at Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
11/12 October 1944. Mosquito XX KB348.
Took off from Downham Market at 0136 hours on an operation to Berlin.
FgOff. Reeder S.W. RAFVR
F/Sgt. Bolton, R.J. RAAF
6/7 November 1944. Mosquito XX KB364.
The aircraft crashed, probably due to heavy icing, at Bawdeswell, near Norwich.
PltOff. McLean, J. RAFVR Buried in Tranent Cemetery
Sgt. Tansley, M.L. RAFVR Buried in Fulham Cemetery
10/11 November 1944. Mosquito XX KB360.
On a mission to Hanover, crashed near Wisbeach due to port engine failure.
FltLt. Webb, S.D. RCAF
FgOff. Campbell. Injured.
6/7 December 1944. Mosquito XX KB235.
Took off on an operation to Berlin and crashed near Wijhe in Holland.
FgOff. Weir, G.R.E. RAFVR
FgOff. Hardy, J.E.C. RAFVR
5/6 March 1945. Mosquito XX KB197.
Took off at 1823 hours from Downham Market on an operation to Berlin and crashed near Braine-le-Comte.
Lt. MacLean, M.H.M. DFC RAAF
Sgt. Todd, R. RAFVR

RAF Costal Command Losses. Vol.1.
RAF Bomber Command Losses. Vol.IIII.
608 Squadron and RAF Thornaby. E.W. Sockett.


SqnLdr. Barratt, C.D. DFC RAFVR
Lt. MacLean, M.H.M. DFC RAAF
FltLt. Walker, D.F. DFC RAF
FltLt. Noden, Denys. DFC RCAF 23rd March 1945.
FgOff. Coles, M.W. DFC RCAF
FltLt. Danby, C.C. DFM RCAF
FgOff. Sweetman, O.C. DFM RAFVR
Sgt. Aughty, Harold. MID August 1940.
LAC Smith. Hon. MID 27 April 1940.
Lt. MacLean, M.H.M. DFC RAAF


Thornaby Aerodrome, known locally as Foggins Field, came into being in 1930. Although the area had been used as a staging post by aircraft between Catterick and Marske, since 1914.
The Auxiliary Air Force 608 Bomber Squadron was formed at Thornaby on 17 March 1930, and consisted of one officer and 11 airmen. They were initially based at Catterick Camp, until the hangers were completed, and equipped with Avro Lynx aircraft, then Westland Wapiti bombers from late 1931. At this time the aerodrome was ‘merely a large field’ with two corrugated sheet metal hangers and a few brick outbuildings. The control tower was a small hut with a large notice that requested visiting pilots to report there.
The first adjutant of 608 Squadron was Flt.Lt. C.L. Falconer. On the 16th June 1930 flying instructor, Howard Davies was appointed to Command. He resigned in 1933 due to the pressure of business.
The second Commanding Officer was Sqn.Ldr. Ivo. W.H. Thompson, he sent a letter dated 11th May 1932 to Thornaby Council asking for the closure of Milbank Lane, on the North East boundary, at set hours during the weekends, so that bombing practice could be carried out using 8 and a half-pound bombs containing stannic acid. The council minutes record that the council was not agreeable to this request. Also noted in the council for 1932; the valuation of the aerodrome was £540. The area covered was 194 acres and the Thornaby Hall, built by the Crossthwaite family, served as the Officers Mess. In addition there were four staff cottages, a hanger, drill hall and mess rooms. On the 30th December 1934, SqnLdr. G.H. Amber took command of 608 Squadron.
It would be true to say that 608 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force grew up in parallel with the construction of RAF Thornaby and that to some extent the character of the squadron was moulded by this growth and that the character of the squadron was what would be expected from those born within the area of the White Rose. Built up by enterprising people, prominent in commerce and industry, who where willing to give up their time freely in the aid of a worthwhile cause.
Over the years, hampered by financial famine and lack of resources, the ‘weekend flyers’ gradually built up the necessary skills and experience for the squadron’s capabilities to be taken seriously. The major breakthrough arrived in 1935, when the first Regular Royal Air Force Unit arrived at Thornaby. It was No. 9 F.T.S. equipped with yellow painted Hawk Hart trainers. Suddenly, huts were strung up to accommodate the personnel and canvas hangers to cover the aircraft. The unit remained until 1937 and during its stay a start was made on the Bellmen Hangers, which were completed by the end of that year.
On the 1st. June 1937, a Station Headquarters was established at Thornaby with Wing Commander J. Leacroft M.C. in command. He transferred the Station to No 16 Reconnaissance Group of Coastal Command with the expressed policy of having two General Reconnaissance Squadrons and one Auxiliary Air Force Fighter Squadron. With the purpose, that the fighter squadron would be available to defend the base and protect the General Reconnaissance Squadrons.
The two squadrons concerned were to be 233 Squadron, which was joined by 224 Squadron, so that both were present on the 9th. July 1937. At that time the establishment of aircraft at Thornaby was formidable. Each squadron possessed 18 Anson’s, plus 6 in reserve each, giving a total of 48 aircraft. In addition, 608 Squadron could muster 9 Demon aircraft and 2 reserve aircraft, with the addition of one reserve and one for Headquarters practice.
As the result of the build up, following the visit by Sir Fredrick Bowhill on the 3rd of November 1937, the command of the Station was upgraded to that of a Group Captain that meant that on the 15th of November, Wing Commander L. Leacroft was replaced by Group Captain A.H. Jackson.
By September 1938, 608 Squadron consisted of a contingent of 2 Officers and 40 other ranks of the Regular Royal Air Force, with 16 Officers and 137 other ranks of the Auxiliary Air Force. Equipped with 14 Demon aircraft and 5 reserves, 1 Hart Trainer and 4 Tutor’s.
In August 1938, 224 Squadron moved to Leuchars followed in September by 233 Squadron. The station was then transferred to No 5 Bomber Group with two bomber squadrons of Fairy Battle aircraft, 106 and 185 joining 608 (Fighter) Squadron.
The two bomber squadrons departed at the end of September and the role of RAF Thornaby was again changed, this time to No 16 (Reconnaissance) Group, Coastal Command. 269 Squadron arrived the following day.
In the midst of all these changes, 608’s Commanding Officer, Squadron Leader Ambler transferred to take up command of 609 Squadron and was replaced by Squadron Leader G. Shaw. Then, the storm clouds of war gathered.

The Sister Squadron 220

No profile of 608 Squadron would be complete without reference to her sister squadron at Thornaby, who arrived on the 21st of August 1939, with 23 of its available Anson aircraft. As the men of 608 Squadron began to train in earnest, on the 5th of September, Hudson aircraft began to arrive as replacement aircraft for 220 Squadron, with more arriving over the next ten days. Over the next 20 months, until April 1941, the two squadrons would share aircraft and personnel on an intimate basis.

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