59 History
- Post WWII - No. 59 Squadron Service History -
....:::: Operation Deadlight - Transport Command - RAF Waterbeach ::::....

End of War in Europe and the Pacific: The war in Europe ended on 8th of May 1945 and on 1st September 59 was posted to RAF Waterbeach (pictured above) to begin preparations for ferry duties under Transport Command, given the task of flying troops and military personnel to India. Also travelling with them were 4059 Servicing Echelon (*). No.15 Group H.Q was asked to set plans in motion (by Coastal Command H.Q) that would see all 14 remaining crews from 120 Sqn, 14 crews from 58 and 502 Sqn's and 5 from 547 Sqn posted to 59 Sqn and to ensure that 59 Sqn had 48 transport crews ready by June 10th 1945. After the surrender of the Japanese Imperial Forces on 15th August 1945, 59 officially transferred to Transport Command in Sept and began ferry duties which they would continue to do so until June 1946.

(*) - The "Servicing Echelon" or S.E for short was the ground crew component of a squadron after June 1943. The number of the S.E was akin to the number of the squadron it was attached to, so the 59 Sqn S.E in Sept. 1945 was 4059. The ORB monthly summary dated "July 1943" notes that "ground personnel from 59 Squadron were posted to No.8059 Servicing Echelon on the Planned Flying and Maintenance being introduced".

U-boats Surrender: After the German surrender in Europe, 59 Squadron aircraft and crews were involved in escorting surrendered U-boats back to port. The following images show four U-boats that surrendered to 59 Sqn aircrews and a photo of surrnedered U-boats at port in Londonderry.

Photo taken by F/L March & crew in Liberator H/59




(above) W.op - Sgt W.J. Underwood sends the message "You or us?" as Liberator H/59 flys over U-293 - 10/05/1945 - (Peter Underwood)
(above) A nice shot of U-293 - taken by Liberator H/59 - (Peter Underwood)
(above) The crew of H/59 on board U-293 in Londonderry (Peter Underwood)



Once again they were flying the Liberator aircraft although they were C.Mk.VI and VIII's (refitted for transport duties, no armament etc). The Liberator aircraft in this role could carry up to 30 people, although conditions would not have been first class and it would have been quite cramped. Where the tail gunner once sat was transformed into a galley area were food and drinks could be prepared. Whilst serving at Waterbeach, there were two Liberator aircraft lost and another training incident involving the death of a decorated 59 Sqn pilot. There were also several recorded deaths for which at this point in time I have no further details.


Liberator C.Mk.VI KL676 - 59/BY-X: - 18/10/1945 - Missing from ferry flight from Castel Benito to Waterbeach. This aircraft had a five man crew which were all lost.

Liberator C.Mk.VI KH125 - 59/?: - 03/12/1945 - This aircraft was struck by lightning whilst flying through a heavy storm, the wing was badly damaged and in the severe turbulence it broke apart and was torn off. The aircraft crashed into the ground near Rochefort killing all on board. As well as the five man crew (pilot, co-pilot, navigator, wireless/radar op, flight engineer) there were 23 passengers, which included another five 59 Sqn personnel (one of which was Wing Commander JG Halliday). The crew (of 5) would have been smaller than an 'operational crew' as there was no need for air-gunners or bomb-aimers etc.

Liberator B.Mk.VIII - KN736: This aircraft (not assigned to 59 Sqn) was involved in a training accident that involved a decorated and well respected pilot of 59 Sqn, F/L John Spiller DFC. It was an unfortunate event that at the time put bad light too an otherwise outstanding service career. Offered the luxury of hindsight, the case for 'pilot error' is not as clear cut now as it was deemed back then...

466 Squadron based at Bassingbourn in Hertfordshire were learning how to operate the B24 Liberator as a replacement for their Halifax. On September 18th, 1945, a training flight was planned in order to introduce and test the reactions of a mixed British and Australian crew to these emergency engine failure conditions. A three-engine takeoff and landing would be followed by another flight when two engines would be stopped. This was all in preparation for transport duties. The crew ran into fatal difficulties and the aircraft crashed into the ground killing four of the seven man crew (including F/L Spiller). (read more)


Operation Indian Rug Drop: According to a close relative of W/O Charles Dennis Airey, whilst 59 Sqn were employed flying troops to India he and his crew would buy Indian rugs and due to the fact that this practice was not allowed, they would drop them out of the plane on final approach and then go back and pick them up later. It would be interesting to find out what other goodies made it back this way..

....:::: The End of an Era ::::....

A Job Well Done: In June 1946 after nearly ten years of service since reforming in 1937 as war tension mounted in Europe, 59 Sqn was disbanded in Gutersloh (Germany), having again served with high distinction and honour. Coastal Command airmen were some of the most highly trained and capable in the air force and those of 59 were up there with the best. Of those that survived, many went on to become high ranking air force officers and many went onto to become very successful in their civilian lives. Others sadly struggled to readjust to civilian life after the traumatic experience of war service but all were courageous, brave young men who put their lives on the line for the ideals they believed in... Those who went before us did so with the honour of having fought for King and Country but more importantly for the lives of their families and fellow country folk... War in itself is an unfortunate course of events and should in no way (as a means to gain peace) be glorified but the actions and bravery of those men and women who become caught in its midst should be honoured fittingly... Lest We Forget...

Without the aid of the 59 Sqn ORB's I have only managed to find that the following were awarded to 59 Sqn airmen. 20 DFC's, 9 DFM's, 1 AFC, 6 MID's, 1 G/C and 1 BEM. Below are the awardees of the DFC & DFM.

Distinguished Flying Cross
Name Rank/Muster Date
Allen, Ernest Elwood - RCAF F/L - Pilot Effective 01/09/1943
Blair, Charles Edgar - RCAF F/L - Pilot Effective 24/11/1944
Camacho, Vivian Evelyn - RCAF F/L - Pilot Effective 01/09/1944
Hallmark, NB - RAF S/L - Pilot Award noted for service in 1940
Neilson, Alexander Roy - RCAF F/O - Pilot Effective 19/05/1943
Fry, Anthony Ellerton Ryan - SAAF F/O - Pilot Effective 24/12/1940
Fox, John Ralph - RAAF F/O - WAG Award noted for service in 1941
Wright, Thomas Dewey - RAAF F/O - Pilot Effective 01/09/1943
McEwen, Alexander - RAFVR P/O - ? Effective 01/09/1943
Ayres, Robert William - RAF F/L - Pilot Awarded - Sept 1940
Grece, Clair Mansell Maybury - RAF W/C - Pilot Details not confirmed
Barson, Neville - RAAF S/L - Pilot Awarded 5/05/1944
Charlton, Murray - RAAF S/L - Pilot Awarded 28.03.1944
Loney, Wes G - RAAF

F/L - Pilot

Awarded 14.04.1944
Thomas - William James F/O - Pilot Awarded 18.01.1944
Sisson, BA S/L - Pilot Awarded 09/06/1944
DuPlooy, SG - SAAF F/O - Pilot Details not confirmed
Grice - RAF F/L - Pilot Awarded Sept 1940
Palmer, GT - RAF S/L - Pilot Details not confirmed
Garrard, P - RAF S/L - Pilot Details not confirmed
Knowles E - RNZAF F/L - Pilot Details not confirmed
Buchan, DA - RAF F/L - Pilot Details not confirmed
Evans, PG - RAF S/L - Pilot Details not confirmed
Sandes, LD - RAF P/O - Pilot Details not confirmed
Distinguished Flying Medal
Name Rank/Muster Date
Back, Sidney - RCAF W/O - Nav Effective12/04/1943
Cleland, Charles Coburn - RCAF AC2 - AG Effective 06/08/1940
Webb. Sidney Howard - RAF Sgt - WAG Effective 28/01/1941
Dunlop, CEA - RAF Sgt - Nav Awarded for service in 1940
Barker, George Leonard - RAF Sgt - WAG Awarded for service in 1940
Scarrot - RAF Sgt - Obs Awarded for service in 1940
Neale - RAF Sgt - AG Awarded for service in 1940
Couchman, Richard - RAF Sgt - WAG Details not confirmed
Roper, Hartley Derek - RAF Sgt - Nav Details not confirmed
....:::: The Squadron X-Files ::::....

(left) The crew of B17 Flying Fortress IIA FK205 'B' at Chivenor, Devon, in March 1943. Back row (from left): Sgt I B Jenkins, F/Sgt K R Regan, Sgt L Hadfield, Sgt J Moorby; Front: P/O R D Stevenson, F/O H A L Moran with 'stinker', Sgt L Stalker. (Regan)

The Squadron Mascot: I have come across several dogs in photographs taken with crews, one of which was named "stinker" pictured here... also the only dog to be named... so was stinker the mascot, or just a popular friend?

(left) Could this be a much younger stinker as a puppy?

(right) In this picture (of P/O Luckwell) taken at North Coates there is an un-named dog, which could possibly be 'stinker' with a haircut? It is hard to tell as the image is quite blown out in contrast, probably even from the original as the sun seems to be shining... a very rare occurrence in England so perhaps the photographer was unprepared!

Note "the bear": Probably not the squadron mascot, but the bear that P/O Stevenson RAAF is holding (top) appears to have been his own personal good luck charm... perhaps his from childhood, or maybe he had an infant child waiting for his return at home... Either way luck was on his side and Stevenson returned home from the war and no doubt so too did "the bear".


roundel bar
This site was created by and information compiled by L.Del Mann - © 2008