211 Squadron Operations Record Book: 1943
A transcript of the Squadron’s surviving formal record, resumed in 1943 on re-forming from 14 August at Phaphamau, on the Ganges near Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh.
The Squadron spent the next 12 weeks working up to strength and taking on their complement of aircraft. In the first week of November they were ordered to move some 300 miles further East to Ranchi in Bihar State, for rocketry training in preparation for resuming operations over Burma in January 1944.
Throughout 1943, the Operations Record Book was compiled in typescript on Forms 540 only, with any brief Appendix material included on those pages. The records are held at the UK National Archives, on microfilm and digitised, at reference AIR 27/1302.
What follows is a transcript as written, bar the bulk of the heavy use of capitals and some silent correction of spelling and punctuation. The frequent abbreviations and usages are explained in the Glossary.The column layout of the original printed forms (impractical to replicate here) is as shown in the Form 540 illustration. Amplifications in the usual way, [thus].
Forms 540, 1943
Phaphamau nr Allahabad UP [Uttar Pradesh] India
Records of 211 Squadron before this date are not as yet with the present unit and none of the original Squadron members are on the strength. This record is compiled from the date of the reformation of the Unit with Beaufighter aircraft replacing the original Blenheims.
14.8.43 FORMATION OF THE SQUADRON
The first two members arrived F/O NTO Greig the Adjutant and Sgt J Williams, the former assuming command of the Squadron with powers of a subordinate commander.
17.8.43 One sergeant and four BORs [British Other Ranks] arrived from 34 Squadron.
21.8.43 One sergeant and six BORs arrived from 20 Squadron.
24.8.43 Twenty six airmen arrive from UK via BRD Worli [Base Reception Depot Worli, at Bombay, modern Mumbai]
25.8.43 Airmen’s mess and Canteen opened.
26.8.43 J16295 P/O Cuddy K Pilot arrived from the Middle East.
31.8.43 Eight BORs attached to 308 Maintenance Unit, Bamrauli, nr Allahabad to work on aircraft intended for the Squadron.[The Unit had formed originally as an Aircraft Storage Unit there in May 1942, later sending a detachment to Phaphamau. The MU disbanded in late 1946.] No 8 Squadron IAF who had been operating from the Station left for [sic: Charra] and their place was taken by No 4 Squadron IAF with Hurricanes. The Unit strength on this date was two officers and 55 BORs.
PE Meagher [signature]
Wind Commander, Commanding,
No 211 Squadron RAF
Phaphamau nr Allahabad UP India
1.9.43 The officers mess opened with two officers F/O NTO Greig and P/O K Cuddy. One Sergeant and 12 BORs arrived.
2.9.43 F/Lt JC Bryce 83958, Medical Officer, arrived ex-UK. The Medical Staff now being one Medical Officer and one LAC.
One Sergeant and 12 airmen were detached to Bamrauli to work on Squadron aircraft. Three BORs arrived.
4.9.43 Ten Sergeant Pilots and ten Navigator-Wireless Operators arrived from BRD Worli ex-Middle East.
6.9.43 Sergeant Sutcliffe from Headquarters 226 Group was attached for anti-malaria duties. One MT Sergeant arrived and took charge of the Transport Section.
9.9.43 Six more BORs were detached to Bamrauli.
8.9.43 Two BORs arrived. Sgt Sutcliffe returned to No 226 Group.
9.9.43 Twenty BORs detached to 308 Maintenance Unit.
10.9.43 Sergeants Mess formed. Until this date the Senior NCOS had been messing in the Airmen’s Mess.
11.9.43 One Sgt and 20 BORs arrived.
14.9.43 One Sgt Pilot and one Sgt Navigator-Wireless Operator arrived.
16.9.43 F/Lt Bryce Medical Officer admitted to the BMH [British Military Hospital] Allahabad, suffering from dysentery.
17.9.43 Sixteen BORs attached to No 308 Maintenance Unit.
18.9.43 Arrival of two crews from Bamrauli having come by air from UK via Karachi. These were F/O Bovier Pilot with Sgt Anderson Navigator W/Op and F/O JR Edgar Pilot and P/O GJ White Navigator W/Op. Visit of MOH [Medical Officer of Health] re anti-malarial work in native villages.
22.9.43 One M/Ord NCO arrived.
24.9.43 F/Lt Bryce came back from Hospital and resumed duties as Station MO. The MOH again visited the Station with regard to estimates of Pyrethium [pyrethrum-based insecticide] to be used.
26.9.43 No 4 Squadron IAF left.
27.9.43 Six BORs arrived and seven BORs were detached to 308 Maintenance Unit
28.9.43 P/O TM Einboden Engineer Officer arrived.
30.9.43 Engineer Officer attached to 308 Maintenance Unit. 65 BORs arrived ex UK.
PE Meagher W/Cdr [signature]
30.9.43 The average strength of the Squadron during September was three Officers and 99 Other Ranks.
The total sick for the month was 1 Officer and 41 Other Ranks. Admitted to Hospital one Officer and five Other Ranks. Excused duty for 24 hours 26 other ranks.
45 men were inoculated against cholera. During the month there was no incident of any specific disease.
NTO Greig F/O [signature]
Wing Commander, Commanding
No 211 Squadron RAF
2.10.43 P/O Cuddy and ten BORs attached to 308 Maintenance Unit.
3.10.43 Arrival of A/S/Ldr JES Hill, Pilot and F/O GW Broughton, Navigator W/Op by air from UK via Karachi. S/Ldr Hill assumes command of the Squadron vice F/O Greig. One Sgt Pilot arrived.
5.10.43 22 BORs arrived and four Sgt Navigator/WOps.
Medical: One case of toxic jaundice admitted to hospital.
6.10.43 Wing Commander PE Meagher assumes command of the Squadron, taking over from S/Ldr Hill. Other arrivals on this date were F/O PF Lockyer, F/O AJ Sharpe, F/O DI Cruickshank, P/O MC Haakenson – all Pilots, and P/O D McKenzie Navigator. Two NCO crews also arrived.
8.10.43 A/S/Ldr JSR Muller-Rowland DFC, PIlot, was posted to the Squadron. Five Sgt Pilots were attached to ATP Poona for flying training on Bisley aircraft in view of the long period since their last flight in some cases amounting to six months. [The Aircrew Transit Pool at Poona was responsible for pilot refresher training in India from June 1943. The difficulties of equipping rapidly forming Squadrons and keeping their aircrew “current” affected 211 and other Beaufighter squadrons.]
10.10.43 Twenty BORs detached to 308 Maintenance Unit. [The string of temporary detachments of groundcrew to 308 MU may have seved a similar purpose: keeping the men usefully employed and current in their trade skills, while awaiting the Squadron’s complement of aircraft and equipment.]
11.10.43 [Five] BORs arrived.
Medical: 95 Anti-Cholera inoculations given to personnel of 211 Squadron.
12.10.43 P/O J Woodall, Navigator, posted to the Squadron from 22 FC Bamrauli.
The first aircraft arrived – Bisley, and flying training started with pilots practising circuits and landings.
Medical: SMO No 226 Group W/Cdr JG Smyth visited this Station. Ambulance serviceable again having been unserviceable since 25.9.43.
14.10.43 Medical: 18 Cholera and ten TAB inoculations given. One case of septic Tinea admitted to Hospital.
15.10.43 The first two Beaufighters were flown over from Bamrauli. The Bisley flown by Sgt Donaldson crash landed on the aerodrome owing to the failure of the hydraulic system. The pilot was not injured but the aircraft was damaged. Repair is to be effected by the nearest Unit. Six BORs arrived.
Medical: Cpl Greenwood, No 226 Group, arrived on anti-malarial duties.
16.10.43 Ten BORs returned from 308 Maintenance Unit.
18.10.43 12 BORs returned from 308 Maintenance Unit.
19.10.43 Medical: Ambulance unserviceable again, broken spring improperly repaired previously. 3 Ton Ford used in lieu of Ambulance.
PE Meagher W/Cdr [signature]
21.10.43 22 BORs returned from 308 Maintenance Unit.
Medical: Ambulance serviceable.
22.10.43 Medical: S/Ldr Stocker, Headquarters, No 226 Group, arrived on anti-malaria duties. One case of toxic jaundice admitted to Hospital.
24.10.43 Medical: S/Ldr Stocker left.
25.10.43 Medical: Dr Varma MOH visits RAF Phaphamau.
28.10.43 Beaufighter LZ228 crashlanded at Bamrauli owing to hydraulic failure. The occupants, F/O Bovier [RCAF] – Pilot, F/Sgt Seeley and F/Lt Bryce escaped with bruises and abrasions. The aircraft was very seriously damaged.
The Medical Officer’s Report for this month is attached in Appendix A.
All flying during the month was training.
29.10.43 Medical: One case of infectious jaundice diagnosed.
31.10.43 Medical: PMO [Principal Medical Officer] India Command, Air Commodore D’Arcy Power visited Station.
Average strength of Squadron
Total admission to Hospital and SSQ
No of cases ED 24 hours
Three cases of infectious jaundice this month
[ED: excused duty. SSQ: Station Sick Quarters]
1.11.43 1530 Beaufighter LZ243 crashed while carrying out low flying exercise. The crew, 1331765 F/Sgt Oliver AG, Pilot and 1318887 Sgt Small RL Navigator, were both killed. The bodies were removed to BMH Allahabad from the aircraft which was burnt out. The location of the crash was Madaripur, reference SD554446 on the Allahabad sheet. There were no witnesses of the accident apart from natives and the cause was attributed to an error of judgement by the pilot.
P/O Einboden returned to the Squadron from No 308 MU.
Medical: One case of NYD VG [sic] admitted to hospital
2.11.43 The funeral of F/Sgt Oliver and Sgt Small took place at BMH cemetery Allahabad. Beaufighter LX996 was collected from No 308 MU. Owing to repeated trouble from hydraulic pumps all Beaufighters on the Squadron were grounded pending instructions from Air Headquarters India.
4.11.43 Visit of Engineering Officer of No 226 Group in connection with faulty hydraulic pumps – no decision reached as to cause of trouble.
5.11.43 Beaufighter LZ113 was collected from No 308 MU. The Squadron was ordered to move to Ranchi in Bihar, map reference 85:17W [sic: E!] 23:18N. Call sign NF 45 for training in firing rocket projectiles for which the Beaufighters had been at No 308 MU. The advance party – F/O Greig and 9 BORs left by train for Ranchi. All aircraft were now serviceable.
[At Poona Aircrew Transit Pool, F/Sgt Philip James Russ 656508 was killed when Bristol Blenheim V AZ887 crashed on approach to the airfield.]
6.11.43 P/O Waddell – Pilot and Sgt Mearns – Navigator posted to no 211 Squadron from No 177 Squadron, the pilot being detached to RAF Bamrauli. Loading of equipment into the train at Phaphamau Station started, in preparation of the Squadron move to Ranchi.
Medical: F/Lt Gordon from RAF Bamrauli took over charge of SSQ RAF Phaphamau. One case of clinical dysentery admitted to BMH.
8.11.43 All aircraft of the Squadron – 16 Beaufighters and 2 Blenheims V took off for Ranchi in intervals from 0850hrs flying mainly in sections of three aircraft in Vs. One Blenheim made the return journey and stayed overnight at Phaphamau. The remaining seventeen stayed at Ranchi. Aircraft LZ122 [Beaufighter] sheared the tail oleo on landing and damaged the stern frame. The remainder of the Squadron under F/O Broughton entrained at Phaphamau and pulled out at 1830 hours.
Medical: Four patients travelling with party. 1 Cpl – dysentery, 3 Inf – hepatitis, 4 metatarsal [sic].
Ranchi 8.11.43 cont’d.
Medical: F/O Greig admitted to No 16 IGH [Indian General Hospital] with Malaria and Jaundice.
9.11.43 The Blenheim V BA990 took off for Ranchi and arrived safely. The train arrived at Barkakana Junction, map reference 85:27 E 23:37N Calcutta Sheet 1941 NE45 [sic] at 2200 hours, and as the remaining 37 miles had to be completed by road, the Squadron spent the night in the train.
Ranchi (Bihar) 23:18N 85:17W Calcutta Sheet 1941 NF45 [sic]
10.11.43 The Squadron, with the exception of the baggage party, were transported to Ranchi aerodrome by MT.
Medical: Patients withstood journey well and were discharged to duty the next day. P/O Haakenson admitted to hospital with malaria.
11.11.43 Lt RV Hamilton gave lecture to the aircrew on “Escaping from Burma”.
Medical: Sick Quarters were found to be “Not Opened” due to lack of Barrack Equipment. MI Room stores and documents in a very neglected state. One case of clinical dysentery admitted to Hospital.
12.11.43 Medical: One patient from another Squadron on the station admitted to Hospital with a sore throat, later proved to be Diptheria. One case of NYD VG [sic].
13.11.43 Ten aircraft took off for Amarda Road to collect rockets. Twelve rockets and the appropriate numbers of heads and fins were loaded on each aircraft. Eight aircraft returned. Two remaining at Amarda Road unserviceable.
14.11.43. The two Beaufighters returned from Amarda Road.
15.11.43 The first Operational Report was sent to Group.
16.11.43 Medical: F/Lt Bryce flew to Calcutta to see SMO 221 Group.
17.11.43 F/O Bishop, Intelligence Officer, visited No 221 Group to obtain secret documents, money and escape aids. W/O Pierce visited the Squadron from CTOs office No 221 Group re Ground Equipment.
18.11.43 S/Ldr Prier GHQ Armament Officer arrived form 221 Group. 2300 rocket projectiles arrived from Amarda Road map reference 21:50N 87:10E Calcutta Sheet NF45 and unloading commenced.
19.11.43 Lecture to aircrew on Army formations by Lt Col of 9/14 Punjab Regiment.
Medical: F/Lt Bryce returned from Calcutta.
20.11.43 Visit from AOC No 221 Group Air Commodore Rowley. The aircrews went to 9/14 Punjab Regiment and were shown how to distinguish various Indian types and were also given a demonstration of an infantry battalion in close and open formations.
22.11.43 F/Lt Adams, No 221 Group MT Officer, visited the Squadron with regard to the failure of Dighri to supply Squadron MT. The proper RP [Rocket Projectile] and Gun Sight combined not being available in this country as yet, S/Ldr Hill tested a modified sight which consisted of a 50mph sight from a Blenheim aircraft attached to the normal 100mph reflector sight. In its present form this was not found to be practical owing to vibration. Further mods are being carried out.
23.11.43 Aircrew visit to 42nd Cavalry to inspect armoured cars.
24.11.43 Five Beaufighters made dummy attacks on Army positions to demonstrate low level attack to troops of a Sikh regiment. The aircrew went to the RP range to watch dummy runs by S/Ldr Bradley, the Station Commander.
Medical: Stocktaking and handing over stores – RAF Ranchi from F/Lt Cooper MO No 84 Squadron to F/Lt Bryce.
25.11.43 Lecture to aircrew on general situation in Burma by S/Ldr Stevens, 221 Group Intelligence Officer. The AOC No 221 Group arrived at 1200 hours and left at 1500 hours. The Commanding Officer returned from Kumbirgram, map reference 24.55N 92.59E having visited the proposed next station for the Squadron [the co-ordinates are for Silchar in Assam, where an airfield for the RAF and IAF was constructed during the war. Today it is a busy civil airport and the site of AFS Kumbhirgram of the Indian Air Force.]
26.11.43 S/Ldr Hill again fired cannon on the range to test further modifications on the sight which was still not entirely successful.
27.11.43 Medical: Three cases of dysentery admitted to hospital.
29.11.43 Medical: One patient c/o amoebic dysentery on SI List [Seriously Ill List]. Patient admitted on 11.11.43.
30.11.43 Flying consisted of low level cross countries to Asansol and return.
All flying during the month was non-operational, practices were made in low level attacks and low level map reading.
The Medical Officer’s report for the month is attached in Appendix ‘A’.
Average strength for month
Number of ED 24 hours
Total admission for month
Total man hours lost approx
Total man days available approx
[signature] PE Meagher
Wing Commander, Commanding
No 211 Squadron RAF
Dec 1st Squadron carried out low level cross countries and dummy runs on RP Range. 5 crews arrived from ATP Poona.
Dec 2nd 8 plane formation attack on aerodrome in sections of 2. Formation unwieldy and difficulty found in breaking away. 2 aircraft on Army co-op.
Dec 3rd 8 plane attack on aerodrome. 2 waves of 2 sections of 2 attacking from different directions at 30 second intervals. Great improvement on first tactics.
Dec 4th. 7 plane attack as on 3rd. Each section of 2 breaking in opposite directions. Quite satisfactory. Squadron ordered to move to Silchar. One flight to be RP trained 7th – 18th December. One flight to follow after training.
Dec 5th Conference on move held.
Dec 6th P/O Einboden flew to Calcutta in Beaufighter to see RAF Movements Calcutta re move. Advance party delayed until permission given by RAF Movements Calcutta to proceed. ‘A’ Flight made dummy attacks on Range.
Dec 7th Demonstration of RP firing 25lb armour piercing heads by S/Ldr Bradley DSO DFC. Final salvo 5 hits out of eight. Army greatly impressed. [W/Cdr TPA Bradley DSO DFC later assumed command of 27 Squadron. On 10 April 1945 he and his navigator F/O CC Holmes were killed when their Beaufighter hit a vulture while coming in to land].
Dec 8th Commencement of practice firing by Squadron. Started by the CO W/Cdr Meagher and S/Ldr Muller Rowland DFC with ‘B’ Flight.
Dec 9th Firing continued. Most aircraft firing low due to insufficient allowance for drop. Alterations made to sights.
Dec 10th AOC 221 Group visited the Squadron and gava a talk to all officers.
Dec 11th Air Advance Party of Squadron in two Bisley aircraft piloted by P/O Moffat and Sgt Bell took off for Silchar with Advance Party of the Squadron [sic]. F/O Bishop Intelligence Officer i/c also F/Lt Fraser Medical Officer.
Dec 12th Road Advance Party of Squadron left for Silchar, W/O Cornish i/c.
Dec 13th ‘B’ Flight finished firing with 25lb heads.
Dec 14th ‘A’ Flight commenced firing. 14 details out of 15 carried out. One detail missed owing to aircraft being unserviceable. F/O Cruickshank and F/O Broughton with navigators took two Beaufighters for escort duty to his Excellency the Viceroy [Field Marshal the Viscount Wavell, appointed Viceroy and Governor General of India, September 1943].
Dec 15th S/Ldr Bradley fired 8 60lb heads without charge for test purposes. ‘A’ Flight continued RP firing. Aircraft LZ124 Pilot F/Sgt D Grant and Navigator Sgt J Bendall crashed by the road running South from the aerodrome, in position one mile North of Hatia. The aircraft was returning from firing on the range and hit a tree about a mile away from the scene of the crash. The pilot apparently lost control and hit another tree by the road, crashed in a field and burst into flames. The pilot was killed instantly and the navigator was seriously injured.
Dec 16th Funeral of F/Sgt Grant
Dec 17th Death of Sgt Bendall and burial same evening.
Dec 18th ‘A’ [Flight] completed firing of 25lb heads.
Dec 21st Demonstration firing of 60lb HE heads by S/Ldr Bradley and W/Cdr Meagher was watched by the aircrew and several Army personnel including Americans and Chinese.
Dec 22nd ‘A’ and ‘B’ Flights fired 60lb heads, two per crew.
Dec 23rd Two Bisleys left for Silchar with advance personnel from Flights.
Beaufighter LZ137 Pilot Sgt Davies swung on landing and his undercarriage was written off. Neither Sgt Davies nor his passenger was hurt. Replacement signalled for, to be sent to Silchar.
Dec 24th S/Ldr JES Hill OC ‘A’ Flight left for Silchart in Beaufighter LZ270. 2 Bisleys returned.
Dec 26th Two Bisleys left for Silchar with passengers and kit.
Dec 27th Bisleys returned. Beaufighter LZ151 piloted by F/O JR Edgar crashed three miles East of the aerodrome when apparently attempting a belly landing with one airscrew feathered. The aircraft burst into flames and the pilot was killed. There were no other occupants.
Dec 28th Burial of F/O Edgar.
Dec 29th Squadron flying party proceeded to Silchar. Five aircraft of ‘A’ Flight and seven aircraft of ‘B’ Flight took off at intervals and arrived safely at Silchar. One aircraft of ‘A’ Flight LZ230 replacement for LZ137 took off at 1400 hours from Ranchi and arrived safely at Silchar.
[signature] PE Meagher
Wing Commander, Commanding
No 211 Squadron RAF
211 Squadron Operations Record Book Monthly Summaries (RAF Form 540) TNA AIR 27/1302
Flight 8 November 1945
London Gazette 2 June 1944
Innes Beaufighters Over Burma: No 27 Squadron RAF 1942–1945 (Blandford 1985)
Pillarisetti and Chopra Indian Air Force (Bharatiya Vayu Sena) pages at Bharat Rakshak
Sturtivant RAF Flying Training and Support Units Since 1912 (Air Britain 2007)
www.211squadron.org © D Clark & others 2017
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