The 211 Squadron website
Sgt Observer CFR “Nobby” Clark, of 211 Squadron in 1940 and 1941, was my father. This website is my personal endeavour to make some record of the Squadron and its men, from 1918 to 1946.
Major additions to the site came to a natural close with the 70th and 75th Anniversary updates of March and April 2016. Smaller revisions continue: on 31 July each year or more immediately if needed. The website is copied annually by the Australian national web archive PANDORA.
© D Clark and others 1998—2021. The text content of this website is copyright: either mine, my contributing authors, or as otherwise acknowledged.
Crown Copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of Her Britannic Majesty’s Stationery Office and the Queen’s Printer for Scotland, under the terms and conditions of the Open Government Licence. The 211 Squadron badge is British Crown Copyright/MoD, reproduced with the permission of the Controller of Her Britannic Majesty’s Stationery Office.
Copying with no attribution, whoever you are and however exalted you consider yourself or your Association and authors to be, is plagiarism: a breach of copyright, for which remedies are available.
Plagiarism is cheating. It is also a discourtesy to authors, to the men of the Squadron and their war service, and to other honest researchers in the field. All such copies are deliberate, not inadvertent, not unintentional and not accidentally “found on your hard drive”. Tediously, when addressed about such cases, offenders all but invariably respond with feigned ignorance, indignation, patronising bluster, insult and delay...until the case is ultimately resolved by one or more of the several means available to patient, determined authors.
Conditions of use
You may summarise information from site pages or use it as background in your own research, provided that you include a proper source attribution or citation (just as you should acknowledge any published source). As an example:
With proper attribution, you may link to pages from this website.
You may not otherwise copy, reproduce, or re-post any text or images from the site.
Copying and reposting images from this website or others like it, without attribution, without a link to the source, and without their carefully developed (and copyright) captions is bad practice. It is slipshod, dishonest and a discourtesy to the men, to the intelligence of readers, and to future researchers. The few modern images, taken by me, are of course my copyright.
You may not copy, reproduce, or re-post images from this website.
Citing this site
You may summarise information from this site or use it as background in your own research, provided that you include a proper attribution or citation, just as you should for any published source. For example:
Linking to this site
By all means place a link to this site on your own website Links page, such as:
Linking to pages
If you need to link to an individual page, copy that page’s URL as shown in your browser address bar, eg
Archival, persistent links
If needed for archival reference purposes, the PANDORA set of 211 Squadron site copies gives persistent URLs for the whole set, for individual annual copies, or for any individual page in a copy.
Closed to new readers since 2016, a six month test in 2021 brought one welcome renewed contact with a valued 211 Squadron acquaintance and one much appreciated general note. However, a number of irrelevant approaches also followed (despite the clearest of enquiry conditions), such that contact for new readers is now closed once more.
Current friends and contacts
are welcome to stay in touch using my current personal email address
Looking for answers
The Site summary page shows the structure of the site. Use that page, or the pages list column at top left on every page, or the Site search page, to find your way around the site. The Glossary, Do it yourself, Sources and Sites & Links pages may also be of some interest to readers with or without a Service background
Offers of material
As copies, scans or originals, many wonderful pictures and original documents were offered freely by the boys or their close family over the 15 years from 2001 to 2016. I cannot adequately express my thanks for their generosity and for the variety and quality of material put forward, whether to me directly or through my friends Adrian Fryatt, Elizabeth Kaegi and Ian Carter. Having drawn major site additions to a close in 2016, the time to offer new material has also passed.
The site and its content are solely my responsibility, carefully thought through and checked before posting. Every effort is put into making it accurate, comprehensive and a faithful reflection of available records and contributions, however, there will be blunders. These will be repaired as and when I uncover them.
Compliments and critics
A brief selection from on-line and email comments about this website or to me as author, since 2001.
Damn fine site
Simply the best Squadron website there is
Truly rivetting must read
Doesn't cover ... Squadron
Doesn't cover ... Axis unit/airmen
Left out relative
Not a true scholar
Not enough pictures
Pictures too small
Stole from museum/personal collection
The dude's site sucks
Having pondered long on the worth of this small addition, I again thank those who made kindly remarks directly to me: your words are deeply appreciated. The critics (all bar two) were anonymous and indirect.
The website in its current state carries a reasonable balance of material from both World Wars, for aircrew and groundcrew, from the main operational theatres, and of the main aircraft types.
Although it took some years to be able to add much of the chronological account from official sources, transcripts of surviving 211 Squadron World War II era operational records are now complete for each year from 1937 to 1941, for 1943 and for 1946 (if not without loss, error or omission), offering a searchable account of the records of the time. For the missing 1942 record, a partial reconstruction has been compiled from other sources.
For the years 1944 and 1945, the sets of Forms 540, Forms 541 and Appendices are extensive and yet still not without instances of omission or illegibility. Tackling a transcription on this scale, though technically possible, is impractical. In the meantime, digital retrieval at the UK National Archives has at last made available Squadron records readily accessible at reasonable cost, either directly or (for undigitised material) through private research services.
Major additions to the site ceased with the 70th and 75th Anniversary updates of March and April 2016. Smaller updates still arise from time to time, for example to mark the doings or passing of Squadron members. Other minor housekeeping updates may be made each year on 31 July. The Site updates page records all significant additions, revisions or news of ex-Squadron members, as they arise.
211 Squadron Survivors Association
Never a member of the Association myself, for several years around the turn of the Century I was in contact with their Secretary, Ron McKnight, who kindly mentioned my website and sent me copies of their Newsletter and membership list up to Christmas 2001.
Like others of its kind, the ranks of the Survivors inevitably thinned over the years following and the Association itself had passed into inactivity by 2006 as Ron’s own health declined. His efforts in keeping the Association going for as long as he did were admirable indeed.
Born in the Summer of 1923, Ron had enlisted in the war-time RAFVR in 1942. Aircraftman Ronald McKnight 1687540 was soon posted to India, to join the groundcrew tending the Squadron and its Beaufighters from 1943 to 1945.
In latter years, he and his family suffered the death of his wife Eileen and the early deaths of their son Graham and daughter Diane. Ron himself died on 8 February 2014 at the age of 90, a grandfather and great-grandfather mourned by his surviving son and daughters and their families.
Thanks in large part to the Association membership lists kept by Ron and Graham, I was able to get in touch with a good many ex-members of 211 Squadron, to enjoy very cordial correspondence with them or their families over a good many years. Their interest and assistance contributed very much to the richness of this account as it stands today.
Desktops, tablets and phones
I designed and compiled the site for browsing on desktop screens and it will stay that way. The sheer depth of information, page length and number of pages all weigh against making page display “mobile friendly”, let alone the work needed to do that. If some search engines do discount results for sites that are not mobile friendly, there are several sound ones to choose from. Searching with more than one can be very useful for more complex historical research.
Error 404 Page not found
Error 403 Forbidden: Access is denied
That should be me, doing some site maintenance. Please try later. The site may go off-line for a time when I’m running an update. Check back in half an hour or so. Very occasionally, the site will be off-line for a longer time while I test something.
You may need to click your browser’s Refresh or Reload button when first re-visiting after an update. Scheduled dates are shown on the Site updates page.
Error 500 Internal server error
Error 503 Service unavailable
That’ll be my host service, having a temporary technical fault. Please try later.
HTTP vs HTTPS and SSL
This site presents only the written and image content of a sincere effort to record a little history. It is and will remain fee-free. There is no member registration or log in, no forum, nor are there any personal records or email addresses, no passwords, nor payment records of any kind at all. None. The site therefor runs under the HTTP protocol.
There is no need for the added continuing expense of the more secure HTTPS protocol and SSL certificate: there is simply no personal or financial data to protect. None. The saving comes at the cost of a little inconvenience for readers: modern browsers, oblivious to the complete absence of any entry point for or records of personal or financial data, see only the HTTP prefix and automatically wag an admonitory digital finger, declaring "site not secure", "be careful" and the like, with some warning icon.
Malware & viruses
- Depending on your browser and its settings, if you’ve chosen to have Activex Filtering 'on', warnings that "Some content is filtered" while viewing my site should be a sign that something's not right (though the culprit should be blocked)
- Sadly, malware can lurk anywhere these days. The best protection is to make sure your PC is always fully up-to-date, with automatic updates to your system, your browser and associated software, protected by appropriate privacy and security settings and regular scans with good, up-to-date anti-virus/anti-malware.
All email spam, without exception, is reported to the Australian Communications and Media Authority by forwarding the offending email as an attachment to the Spam Intelligence Database at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the email attempts to fudge or spoof a real organisation as sender, the offending email is also forwarded to that organisation’s fraud, abuse or report spam address. Readers in other countries may find their own agencies of assistance.
Image sources are invariably acknowledged on this site. Some photographs came with brief captions or descriptions and these are indicated in the text. In the majority of cases, the captions are my own original work, as are the extended comments.
The images come from a variety of sources varying greatly in quality, whether original prints and negatives, 60 year-old half-tone newsprint and photogravure, copy negatives and prints, photocopies from laser and inkjet prints, or from scans of every level of quality.
With few exceptions, they are reproduced as near as practicable to their original state: monochrome, in their entirety (ie full-frame), near original size and with little or no enhancement. Most of the images are in JPEG (.jpg) format, at 72ppi and at JPEG “high” quality. This way, pages load with reasonable speed and print at reasonable quality, however, individual images will not enlarge or print well.
To deter image theft and to leave plenty of room for growth, there are no thumbnail links to higher quality pictures.
Printing the site
Whoa! Firstly, as pages are updated, any prints will become out of date.
For some of the site pages, the count of printed pages will be 30, 40, 50 or more. A print of the entire site will use over a ream of A4 paper printed on both sides.
Try a Print Preview before starting and then a small test print. Check Page Setup in your browser and either select Shrink to fit or set page margins to the smallest allowable. Try printing 2-up at least and both sides if your printer allows it. Through your browser, check your Print/Printer/Properties options.
Screens and browsers
All pages display satisfactorily on current desktop or laptop PC screens and, when viewed in landscape, on most current tablet screens. Pages display without horizontal scrolling at all settings from 1024x768 and upwards. At lower settings (640x480, 800x600) horizontal scrolling is needed.
The photographs look best at high settings: in Windows 10, HD Colour for example. With older set-ups, the 32-bit or True colour setting is good, acceptable at 16-bit High colour, and poor at 256 colours.
All pages are without frames and are free of pop-ups, animations and sounds. Every page should work well in all recent browsers, though some tables are intractably fettled by Firefox. For ease of screen reading, the site html sets the browser default font to sans serif (Arial, Helvetica etc) at medium size. Most current browsers have very simple options to zoom or magnify the page view.
On this site, underlined text in blue always indicates a live link: to a part of the current page, to another page of the website or to some other website. The cursor changes to a little hand whenever it is over such a link. Simply click on the link to proceed.
In this simplest possible website layout, each page is just one mouse-click away from every other page. The order of material is a sensible compromise between background, chronology, theatre, and individual narrative.
So on this site, the Home page is an active page with useful content that briefly introduces the Squadron, the aim of making such a record, and the pages list, the long column of page links from top left of this and every page. To go from one page to another, just pick a link and click.
The foot of each page carries another simpler set of links: to the Home page, the Site summary, on to the Next or back to the Previous page, and to the main help pages. To go to the page you last looked at, use your browser’s Back button.
Within-page navigation: Most pages are quite long. Use your keyboard [Home] [End] [Page Up] [Page Down] keys, click-and-drag the scroll bar on the right, or use the mouse scroll-wheel to move up and down each page.
The Squadron summary page acts as a narrative site map, introducing the site pages in context, again with live links.
The life-span of personal, non-commercial websites can be quite short, often only a handful of years. Good aviation and military history sites, with rich and unique content, may pass into oblivion when the site owner can no longer maintain them or in the event of host or other technical changes beyond the owner's control.
Anyone who has gone to the effort of creating and maintaining a well-researched presentation of unique, sound content could assist future researchers by contacting their own national web archiving programme to propose their site for preservation. The International Internet Preservation Consortium offers a comprehensive summary of national programmes.
Australian national web archive
PANDORA, part of the Australian Web Archive of the National Library of Australia and partners, is currently a selective archive of Australian websites. Webmasters and other interested parties might wish to consider the selection guidelines and make an enquiry directly.
Preservation of this website and future access are both assured, for the short term and the long term, with independent archive and back up sets:
- On-line, PANDORA takes a copy of the whole 211 Squadron site once a year, on 6 August
- The archived set of site copies, starting in May 2002, is easily found by clicking the PANDORA link on the Home page, through the National Library's Trove and on-line catalogue, directly from the PANDORA menu, or by the persistent URL for the complete archive set: http://nla.gov.au/nla.arc-24825.
- While the PANDORA Persistent URL reference explains how to extract related URLs for any one set, or any one page, via the Citation Service, the Trove presentation provides a choice of citation styles directly.
- Off-line, the site is backed up monthly with multiple copies on several devices, separately stored.
Other web archives
The National Library of NZ runs their national web archiving programme. Content is searchable through the NZNL on-line catalogue. While the archive is selective, nominations are welcomed:
In the UK, the British Library’s UK Web Archive caters for personal sites, sites of private organisations, and the like. From April 2013, the UKWA began automatically gathering all sites under the .uk domain or published in the UK. The Archive particularly invites nominations from Webmasters (or interested parties) for UK sites with addresses that don’t use .uk in their name.
Website search: https://www.webarchive.org.uk/en/ukwa/index
UKWA archived website copies can be viewed only in UK deposit libraries. List:
UK Government sites are covered by The National Archives at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/webarchive
The Internet Archive offers a hands-off if imperfect alternative. Although erratically frequent and notionally global, copies may be quite incomplete (often lacking images and/or pages in whole or in part). Sites notionally protected by robots.txt files from certain crawler searches may not be copied, although not at all consistently.
For over 20 years, any search for archived copies of a closed site was seriously hobbled by restricting search to URL address/es of the site while it did exist. By May 2018, however, at long last the search field allowed both keyword and URL search. At about this time, a number of earlier site instances simply disappeared, while for more recent instances, robots.txt protections were to all appearances wilfully ignored. The archive still does not respond well to Google search.
In recent years, private instances of so-called “archives” have begun to arise. Consisting of selective copies of other’s sites or site pages, these unauthorised content duplicators operate without the knowledge, permission or consent of original site owners and are unresponsive to enquiry or complaint.
A deliberate large-scale breach of copyright, these unauthorised copies needlessly consume site band-width, to duplicate selected content regardless of any true, authorised, complete archival instances. In the long term, the result will be multiple incomplete copies of outdated content.
www.211squadron.org © D Clark & others 1998—2021
Site created 15 Apr 2001, last updated 12 Sep 2021. Page created 28 Oct 2001, last updated 31 Jul 2021
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