P/O Kenneth Robert Edwin Spencer (4068)

He was at EC from 1933 to 1935. Upon joining the RAFVR he became a P/O and was in 108 squadron. On 17 July 1944 he took off from RAF Hal Far, Malta in his Mosquito MM 441 to go on an intruder mission to Toulouse, France to penetrate deep into enemy air space with the aim of disrupting operations. There were two on board but were missing presumed killed. They were commemorated on the Malta Memorial.

F/O Richard Edward Stacey (4163)

He was at EC from 1935 to 1941 before joining the RAFVR Coastal Command.

On 28 January 1944 he was one of the crew of Halifax V DG349 which was tasked with an Operational Training Exercise to Rockall, a tiny rocky islet about 300 miles distant on a bearing of about 290º. The last contact (a 3rd class fix) at 1204 placed the aircraft west of Rockall at 5647N 1510W. In the absence of further signals an ASR operation was initiated, but low cloud and poor visibility hampered the search crews. The search was eventually abandoned on the 30th. They are remembered on the Runnymede Memorial.

Flt Lt Gilbert William Stanhope (3793)

He attended EC from 1926 to 1930. He joined the 103 squadron and was based at RAF Elsham Wolds. He was married to Pamela Gertrude Stannard

On 1 Mar 1943 the 103 Squadron detailed 12 aircraft for this attack on the German capital of Berlin. There was no cloud cover over the target and the PFF marking was perfect. There were estimated to be 250/300 searchlights and the flak pitiful as one crew described it. S/L Kennard who completed the Squadron “recce” reports the raid a colossal success with over 70 fires burning even in the early part of the raid.

All returned except F/L Stanhope and crew and F/S Austin and crew.

For this attack on Berlin Bomber Command detailed a total of 302 aircraft – 156 Lancasters, 86 Halifaxes, 60 Stirlings despatched to Berlin. The Pathfinders experienced difficulty in producing concentrated marking because individual parts of the extensive built-up city area of Berlin could not be distinguished on the H2S screens. Bombing photographs showed that the attack was spread over more than 100 square miles with the main emphasis in the south-west of the city. However, because larger numbers of aircraft were now being used and because those aircraft were now carrying a greater average bomb load, the proportion of the force which did hit Berlin caused more damage than any previous raid to this target. This type of result – with significant damage still being caused by only partially successful attacks – was becoming a regular feature of Bomber Command raids. Some bombs hit the Telefunken works at which the H2S set taken from the Stirling shot down near Rotterdam was being reassembled. The set was completely destroyed in the bombing but a Halifax of 35 Squadron with an almost intact set crashed in Holland on this night and the Germans were able to resume their research into H2S immediately. 17 aircraft – 7 Lancasters, 6 Halifaxes, 4 Stirlings – lost, 5.6 per cent of the force.

The flights of the Lancaster – W4880 were:

18-Feb-43 – Wilhelmshaven – Lancaster – W4880 – F/L GW Stanhope

25-Feb-43 – Nuremberg – Lancaster – W4880 – Sgt AA Crouch

26-Feb-43 – Cologne – Lancaster – W4880 – F/L GW Stanhope

28-Feb-43 – St Nazaire – Lancaster – W4880 – F/L GW Stanhope

01-Mar-43 – Berlin – Lancaster – W4880 – F/L GW Stanhope – FTR – Crashed at Bookhorn near Bremen, Germany.

Sqn Ldr Herbert Richard Tidd (3938)

Present at EC from 1929 to 1931 he joined the RAF when war broke out. He became a squadron leader in 72 squadron. On 26 July 1942 he took off in Spitfire BM 484 as part of 72, 133 and 401 squadrons who had combined for a highly successful Rodeo to St Omer. No 72 was the top squadron for the sweep. Wing flew out at North Foreland via Gravesend at 500 feet and after 8 minutes at sea level climbed quickly. In addition to the Biggin Hill wing, Tangmere wing was sweeping to Abberville and Northolt wing to Touquet and Gravelines. All was quiet for the wing until it turned back from St Omer and ran into 20 Fw 190s. Flt Lt H T Armstrong (MB 271) and P/O R C Kitchen (MB 513) were both shot down an Fw 190 each and Sqn Ldr R W Oxspring (MB 326) added to his score with one probably destroyed, while P/O D G S R Cox (BM 345) damaged another. Countering the victories was the loss of Sqd Ldr H R Tiss (BM 484) who was killed. After refuelling and rearming 11 Spitfires took off to search for Sqn Ldr Tidd but had no success mainly due to the interference of cloud cover. He is commemorated at Runnymede Memorial.

Lt Edward Divers Tilden (3333)

At EC from 1914 to 1916

He was born in 1899 in Kobe, Tokyo to Edward Woodruff Tilden and Ella Frances Divers who married in 1893 in Tokyo. His father was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and left the USA in 1906 which made Edward an American citizen.

When aged 16 Edward applied for an emergency passport having lost his on SS Arabic. He was resident in Paris at the time of application and visited the American Embassy there in 1915. He wished to travel in France, be educated in England and the Channel Islands, and travel for pleasure in Switzerland and Spain. He was 5’ 8” with blue eyes and blond hair. He made another application for a passport in April 1917 with a visit to the American Embassy in London, being a resident of Brighton.

He went to Sandhurst in May 1917 to Apr 1918 after which he was commissioned into the Indian Army sailing from Southampton to India in Sept of that year. On 20th Oct 1918 he landed in Bombay and joined the 37th Lancers as a 2nd Lieutenant. He later joined the 40th Indian Cavalry Regiment.

His military record in 1922 stated he was a Lieutenant in the Indian Army having risen from 2nd Lt.

In Sept 1922 he embarked the ship Morea in Bombay which was en route from Sydney to London. His proposed address was ‘Cavalry Club, 127 Piccadilly, London’. He occupation was ‘in the army’ and he travelled 1st class!

In 1926 he married Edith Frances Richardson in Paddington, London, and they travelled from Southampton to New York on 12th June 1926 on board SS Berengaria with his occupation stated as ‘Motor Mechanic’. (He might well have been a motor mechanic within the army). He must have been while there that he applied for expatriation. On 22nd June he stated that he had been nationalised in England during WW1 while he was a minor and had also served in the British Military service. Two months later on 17th Aug 1926 his entry to America was denied.

In May 1927 he travelled back from New York to London on the American Farmer under Capt H S Myddleton, along with his wife. Their address was given as Hatfield, Hertford with his occupation a ‘soldier’. They were both aged 28.

In 1930 they were on the Electoral Register with their abode now Shepherds Hill,

Hornsea, Haringey, London

On 4th July 1931 they sailed on the SS Baltic from Liverpool to Boston, Massachusetts with his occupation now ‘insurance’. They did not stay long as because on 28 Sept their sailed from Boston back to Liverpool on board the ship Laconia of the Cunard Line. Their address was now Park Street, Hatfield, with his occupation ‘insurance agent’.

On the 1939 Register he was residing in St Johnsbury, Cambridgeshire. His stated occupation was ‘Indian Army retired, now a fruit and poultry farmer. He had been in the Army Officers Emergency Reserves, being 5 years in the 15th Lancers Indian Army, part of the Intelligence Corps Foreign Office, Emergency Reserves’. His wife was registered also.

At the outbreak of war Edward was 40 years old. According to the EC ‘killed during WW II’ document he was listed as having been in the Home Guard but he died of ‘ill health’ and was given full military honours but there is no record in the Commonwealth Graves Commission. It is said he is buried in St Johnsburg Bassingbourne cemetery in South Africa, aged 44. He did not have any link with South Africa so he is probably buried in Bassingbourn Cemetery, near Royston, South Cambridgeshire. This is substantiated by an announcement in the London Gazette of Feb 1941 that probate of William John Richardson who died in Sept 1940 formerly of Park Street, Royston referred to Edith Frances (Richardson) wife of Edward Divers Tilden. Edith must have been his daughter and the address given for their travels from New York – Boston – Liverpool was to be Park Street, Hatfield.

Sub Lt David George Willis (3782)

An Elizabethan who was at school from 1925 to 1930. He joined the Royal Navy.

On Sat 27th Apr 1940 at 0820 fighter patrol of 3 Skuas of the 801 squadron from HMS Ark Royal. The operating position (64 40 north. 4 48 east) was reached at 0820 and they flew off to Andalsnes, Norway. This patrol sighted and attacked two Heinkel III aircraft who were flying at 2000 feet in the valley near Gladiator lake. One section of Skuas divided and attacked one Heinkel both head on and astern. Smoke was seen to come from the port engine and the aircraft was believed to have forced landed in a wood. The other Heinkel was then attacked and, though hits were registered, this aircraft took violent voiding action and managed to escape.

At 0930 an air look-out in Ark Royal reported sighting an enemy shadowing aircraft low down on the water. Curlew’s R D/F reports also gave evidence of this aircraft. Four Gladiators were immediately flown off by Glorious to engage this aircraft, and sighted it low down about 15 miles from the Carrier squadron. The aircraft was heavily attacked by the Gladiators but managed to escape, without apparent injury, at full throttle on a course of 140. One of the Gladiators reported that during the combat the enemy aircraft actually touched the water on three occasions while avoiding its pursuers. While escaping the aircraft was seen to be emitting brown smoke from both engines though this had no apparent effect on its speed or control.

At 1035 four Skuas were flown off by Glorious to Andalsnes. This patrol engaged a Heinkel III aircraft, successfully, over Andalsnes, forcing it down until it crashed on a hillside. These aircraft were landed on Ark Royal on their return as Glorious was engaged in operating Gladiators. They remained in, and were operated from Ark Royal, while Glorious returned to Scapa to refuel, the two other Skuas on board Glorious being unserviceable.

At 1230 Ark Royal flew off three Skuas of No 800 squadron for patrol over Andalsnes. At 1330 this patrol sighted a Heinkel III aircraft 13 000 feet over Andalsnes bombing a warship in the harbour. The enemy aircraft was heavily attacked by all three Skuas until it forced landed in the corner of a valley about 20 miles south of Andalsnes with heavy smoke coming from the port engine. The aircraft of the leader of this section (Capt R T Partridge, R M) appeared to have been hit in the engine and the aircraft was forced landed on a frozen lake not far from the position in which the Heinkel was seen to land. Both occupants of the Skua were uninjured.

At 1340 one Swordfish was flown off to take a message to HMS Black Swan at Andalsnes in accordance with Admiralty signal 1158/27th April, to inform her that her cyphers were probably compromised. To provide some safe means of communication between Andalsnes and the Admiralty, instructions were added to recode the indicator group, such messages being prefixed ‘Roller’. This message was dropped by message bag on the beach near Black Swan’s boat and was taken on board by one of the boat’s crew. The aircraft arrived while Black Swan was being heavily bombed and its task was completed under most hazardous circumstances.

At 1515 five Skuas of Nos 800 and 801 squadrons were flown off by Ark Royal for patrol over Andalsnes. This patrol sighted a convoy escorted by a ‘C’ Class cruiser and two destroyers steaming up the fjord towards Andalsnes. At 1615 two Junkers 88 were observed at 9000 feet about to carry out a dive-bombing attack on the convoy and these were attacked during their dive by the Skuas. The attacks on both Junkers were successful, their engines being seen to catch fire. Numerous Heinkels III were then seen approaching and the Skuas split up to engage individual targets. The Heinkels dropped their bombs indiscriminately when attacked and none of them succeeded in attacking the convoy. At least two of these were successfully engaged. Later, H A fire from the escorting cruiser indicated another large and ragged formation of 15 Heinkels approaching from the North. A general ‘dog-fight’ ensued, the Skuas carrying out individual attacks on their adversaries. This enemy formation was broken up and only two Heinkels succeeded in dropping their bombs near the convoy. This general fight lasted approximately a quarter of an hour after which time all Skuas had expended their ammunition. Several pilots, however, continued to drive off the enemy aircraft by making dummy attacks on them. At least two Heinkels were shot down in these attacks.

At 1645 three Skuas of No 801 squadron were flown off by Ark Royal for patrol over Andalsnes. At 1735 this patrol encountered a solitary Heinkel III over the approaches to Andalsnes and attacked it continuously until it was shot down in the sea. The crew of two men were observed to escape from the aircraft. The aircraft of the Skua section leader received a hit in the engine during these attacks. The Skua burst into flames and was seen to dive vertically into the sea. No sign of the occupants of the aircraft was seen after the crash and it is regretted that the pilot, Lt WCA Church, RN and the observer, Sub Lt DG Willis RN must have been killed.

All fighter patrols had returned by 1730 at which time course was altered to 045. The intention for the day after was to carry out a second bombing attack on Trondheim.

He is commemorated on the Lee on Solent Memorial.

F/O Arthur Richard Yates (3681)

He was at EC from 1923 to 1930

Flying Officer 79723 Arthur Richard Yates MRCS LRCP, 959 Balloon Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve was a medical practitioner, MRCS and LRCP. He was born in Devonport but when he was only 10 months his father Arthur age 28, who was an electrician, and his mother age 27, Beatrice Pezey sailed on the SS St Paul on 4th Oct 1913 from Southampton to New York.

In 1939 Winston Churchill gave authority for a number of merchantmen to be requisitioned for service as Q-ships, although for security purposes they were referred to as Special service Freighters. A fleet of nine small mainly coal-burning vessels were acquired, six for deep-sea work and three for coastal work.

HMS PC74 later to become HMS Chatsgrove

All were commissioned as HM ships under their original names but were given RFA cover names and on entering harbour and while in harbour they wore the Blue Ensign, behaved as RFA’s and adopted the RFA commercial practices. None of them was really suitable for their intended roles and met with a complete lack of success. Their Q-ship service officially ended on 2 March 1941.

16 May 1940 sailed Ardrossan on completion of conversion. Cover name RFA CHATSGROVE Armed with 1 x single 4-inch gun, 2 x 12 pdr guns, 6 x Lewis machine guns, Operated as a Decoy Ship for just one month, based on Falmouth, for Channel Convoys. before resuming A/S duties

He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and was serving on board HMS PC74 patrol craft but sadly lost his life by accidental drowning at the Empire Wharf in Falmouth Harbour. Arthur was the son of Mr Arthur and Mrs B M Yates of Guernsey, the husband of Ivy May “Bobbie” Yates nee Bagnall-Stevens, and the father of Pamela A Yates and Peter A W Yates. He was laid to rest at FALMOUTH CEMETERY, CORNWALL aged 28. His tombstone has the inscription ‘In memory of our darling Arthur Richard Yates, Flying Officer R.A.F. V.R. Medical Service. Died January 26th 1841, aged 29 years. “Ever in our thoughts.”‘