Womersley Patrick 609 *

Sqn Ldr Patrick A Womersley DFC* AE – 609 Squadron

Patrick Womersley joined 609 (West Riding) Squadron AAF on 29 March 1939 as an Acting Pilot Officer. When war broke out he was as yet not fully trained, so when 609 proceeded to it’s first war Station at Catterick, he reported to No 6 Flying Training School at Little Rissington, together with several other trainee pilots from the Squadron. He graduated in December 1939 but did not return to 609 Sqn, instead being selected for twin-engined aircraft which resulted in another training course to convert him to the Bristol Blenheim.

He was posted to 59 Sqn, flying numerous sorties over France and the Low Countries gaining his first DFC for his actions. 59 Sqn later converted to the Lockheed Hudson and took on convoy protection and reconnaissance duties with Coastal Command.

In 1943 he was posted to 18 Sqn as an Acting Sqn Ldr flying the Douglas Boston, a twin-engined light attack and bomber aircraft. He saw much action in Italy until the end of the war, gaining a Bar to his DFC during that time.

Post-war he returned to the now reformed 609 Sqn at RAF Yeadon on 1 August 1946, as Sqn Ldr. Initially flying De Havilland Mosquito NF32s and then Spitfire Mk 16s, he served as the Officer Commanding until 3 October 1949.

He received an extension of service for five years at the end of which he resigned his commission.

When the 609 Squadron Association formed in 1967 he briefly joined and took part in activities, also contributing to the Squadron Memorial at Leeds-Bradford Airport.

He died in March 2009.

Winyard Stanley 609 *

952429 Sgt Stanley Winyard Hartill

Stan Hartill, a Wolverhampton lad, was a newly trained Airframe Fitter, aged 19, when he joined 609 Squadron at Middle Wallop in mid-August 1940, the day after a heavy raid by the Luftwaffe. He saw the Squadron’s hangar in ruins, the wrecked aircraft and the casualties, including three fellow ground crew killed and many others wounded. He worked all day and sometimes through the night refuelling, rearming and repairing Spitfires, so there would be as many as possible ready for the next day. Stan was later posted to 41 Squadron at Hornchurch but was in the thick of the action throughout the Battle of Britain.

Stan next moved to Coastal Command at Stornoway and Wick, working on flying-boats and the twin-engined Lockheed Hudson, but he didn’t much like it – too far north, too cold and too wet!! His next posting was near Coventry where he worked on training aircraft at a Flying Training School, where the student pilots ensured he had plenty of work to do. Following this he was seconded to the Rolls-Royce factory in Wolverhampton as part of a team developing a new engine for a new British tank – the engine was the Meteor (a downgraded Merlin) and the tank was the Cromwell.

By now it was 1943 and Stan was yearning for a bit of excitement, so he readily responded to a call for volunteers for a new unit that was forming. This was the RAF Servicing Commando, a specialist unit of highly-skilled technicians required to maintain aircraft on the Continent following D-Day. They wore khaki battledress with blue RAF badges, they were trained to work on many aircraft, especially those of the RAF’s 2nd Tactical Air Force and they wore the coveted Combined Operations Badge.

Stan joined 3205 Squadron of the RAF Servicing Commando and went ashore on Juno Beach in Normandy the day after D-Day. The Squadron travelled inland to airfield B3, at St Croix sur Mer, and made preparations to receive their first aircraft, all done in two days despite German artillery and snipers. The first aircraft in on 10 June were those of Johnnie Johnson’s Canadian Wing and all 36 Spitfires were refuelled and rearmed and on their way in 20 minutes. On that first day of operations 180 aircraft were handled and in subsequent weeks hundreds more. 3205 Squadron were eventually withdrawn from France in mid-July 1944 and sent to Burma, but not Stan.

He was posted to Italy and served around Naples and Taranto. Next he moved to the Middle East and served at Port Said, the Suez Canal, in Palestine and at another Flying Training School near Nazareth. He returned to the UK and was mothballing Boeing B17s and other aircraft near Lichfield when the war ended. He was demobbed in 1946 and ran successful businesses during his working life, eventually retiring to Bournemouth; and that is where he passed away in July 2018, aged 97 years.

Welford Harry 607 *

Pilot Officer George H E ‘Harry’ Welford – 607 Squadron

George Henry Ettrick ‘Harry’ Welford was born in London on 9th December 1916 and spent his early years in India with his parents. He returned to the UK to attend school in Norfolk. He went on to study engineering at Kings College Newcastle and joined 607 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force at Usworth on 9th January 1938. He was commissioned in May 1939 and called to full-time service on 24th August 1939. He was posted to 7 FTS Peterborough for No. 12 Course, which ran from 9th October 1939 to 6th March 1940. He completed his training and went to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 1st June 1940 to convert to Hurricanes.

He rejoined 607 Squadron at Usworth on 18th June where it was reforming after having suffered severe casualties and loss of equipment in France. On 15th August 1940 the squadron met a large force of Heinkel He111s and Dornier Do17s operating from bases in Norway and on their way to raid Sunderland. In this action Welford claimed a He111 destroyed and another damaged.

In early September 607, the Squadron moved south to Tangmere, flying its first patrol on the 8th.

On 15th September Welford shared in the destruction of a Do17. He was shot down on 17th September and made a forced-landing at Tuesnoad Farm, Bethersden, hitting a tree. He was injured, classed non-effective sick, and was taken off flying serving as a supernumerary at Tangmere until his return to 607 Squadron on 20th October.

For the next two months Welford was engaged on operational flying training and instruction of new pilots.

On 16th December, Welford was posted to CFS Upavon for an instructor’s course. He instructed at 11 Elementary Flying Training School Perth from 3rd February 1941 until 2nd April 1944, being then posted to 5(P) AFU Ternhill.

In preparation for a return to operations, Welford went to 57 Operational Training Unit Eshott on 28th August 1944. After a short spell at 84 GSU Lasham he joined 222 Squadron on 29th November at Maldeghem (B 65) in Belgium, equipped with Spitfire LXs.

The squadron returned to Britain in December to convert to Tempests and rejoined 2nd TAF in February 1945. Welford was with 222 until it moved to Fairwood Common in June 1945.

He was released from the RAF later in the year as a Squadron Leader. Postwar he worked as an engineer for Coates Cottons. Welford died on 6th October 1996.

Webster William *

FS William Frank Webster BEM

Born: 15 May 1925, Angus, Scotland.
Died: 19 July 2005, Edinburgh, aged 80.

FS William Frank Webster (Willie) served with the RAFVR as an Air Signaller/Gunner from 1943 to 1947. Following graduation from No.4 Wireless School at RAF Madley, Yorkshire he sawactivewar service with No. 216 Squadron in North Africa and the Mediterranean flying in Douglas DC-3 Dakota Mks III & IV. Initially supporting the Army in Italy, the Squadron was ultimately responsible for opening up new air transport routes within the Mediterranean and southern Europe

Demobbed in December 1947 Webster settled in Aberdeen and missing his RAFVR service in February 1953 he joined No. 612 (County of Aberdeen) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, based at Dyce. He showed his versatility by retraining as a fitter/armourer, working on the DH Vampire FB5.

On the demise of the RAuxAF flying Squadrons in March 1957 he transferred to No. 3612 (County of Aberdeen) Fighter Control Unit and another change of trade to telegraphist. Due to work Webster and his family moved to Edinburgh so he transferred to No. 3603 (City of Edinburgh) FCU at Barnton Quarry.

Further reductions in the RAuxAF followed and the FCUs were disbanded in 1959. However, the personnel of No. 3603 (City of Edinburgh) FCUwere immediately reformed as No. 2 (City of Edinburgh) Maritime Headquarters Unit, (2MHU), to support the NATO Maritime HQ at Pitreavie Castle, Fife. He became the Senior NCO in charge of communications at 2MHU until his retirement from the RAuxAF in 1985 at the age of 60.

His long and loyal service was reflected by the award of the Air Efficiency Award (AE) and2 bars. This service and his additional stalwart work with the Earl Haig Poppy Fund, earned him the award of the British Empire Medal in March 1985.

Vick James 607 *

Flying Officer James A Vick – 607 Squadron

James Anderson Vick, of Kings Norton, was born in 1908. He joined 607 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force in March 1932 and obtained his ‘A’ License in the summer of 1933.

He was called to full-time service with 607 on 24th August 1939. The squadron was ordered to France and Vick flew to Merville from Croydon on 16th November 1939 in an Ensign, in charge of the ground party. The squadron was withdrawn on 20th May 1940 and the remnants re-assembled at Croydon on the 22nd.

Vick took command of the squadron in June and led it until 12th October 1940 when he went to HQ 14 Group as Wing Commander Training.

In early 1942 Vick’s eyesight fell below the standard required for flying and he was released from the RAF to join Imperial Airways on the organisation and administrative side.

He later transferred to BOAC and remained with the airline until his retirement.

He died on 11th May 2000.

Trotter William 609 *

William Trotter

Billy was born on 13 Nov 66 in Uganda where his father was working for East Africa Railways. His family lived in Uganda and Sierra Leone before returning to the Highlands when Billy was around 5. He grew up in Alness, attending Alness Academy.

He joined the RAF Regiment in 1984, completing basic training at RAF Swinderby and then RAF Regiment training at Catterick, and served as a Rapier Operator until 1996. He went straight from training to the first of two postings at RAF Bruggen and also undertook 5 detachments to the Falklands, serving on 15, 37 and 34 Squadrons.

He served on 609 (WR) Sqn as a Reservist from 1998 to 2004, during which time he deployed to the Gulf on Op Telic in early 2003.

He left the RAuxAF to join the MPGS, where he served at RAF Linton on Ouse from 2004 until his death from cancer on 31 May 2011. He was cremated at York Crematorium, and his ashes scattered on Catterick village green.

Billy is dad to twins Abbey and Ewan, and Hamish.


Thompson James 609 *

James Rollo Thompson

Born on the day that the Battle of the Somme began, 8th April 1916. A sickly child, he spent a long time as an in-patient at Great Ormond Street for Children, but they helped to reshape his legs, and enabled him to walk unaided at age 90!

In 1935, Jim Thompson heard that the Earl of Harwood was planning to form an Auxiliary Air Force Squadron near to his home. It was actually 60 miles away, but as he owned a BSA motorbike and sidecar, he was able to attend the recruitment day, 10th February 1936. He was the first airman to sign up, number 809000, although Haslam Wood thought that his number, 809001, made him first. He must have ignored the man standing directly in front of him.

Jim was in the Squadron’s first Remembrance Parade through Leeds in 1936. They marched between two bands that were playing different tunes with different beats. He recalled that their marching was extremely irregular as a result.

Wanting to learn to fly, he found himself unable to do so with 609. So in 1937 he joined the Leeds Aero Club, training pilots on behalf of the Civil Air Guard. They shared Yeadon with 609 (WR) Squadron. It cost Jim 25p and hour, and aged 21 he went solo after 8¼ hours of tuition.

The ex-Adjutant of 609, Squadron Leader the Earl of Lincoln, founded 616 (South Yorkshire) Squadron RAuxAF on 1st November 1938, at Doncaster, which was much closer to Jim’s home. The Earl asked Jim to transfer to 616, but when Jim said that was now flying, the Earl told him to stay as he was. Jim did transfer to Doncaster RAFVR, and their Civil Air Guard, and continued to fly Tiger Moths before qualifying in the Fairey Battle. Ironically, 616 on the other side of Doncaster Airfield still had old Hawker Hind biplanes.

At the outbreak of war, Jim, now a 23-year-old Sergeant pilot, did join the RAuxAF when the Civil Air Guard and the RAFVR were combined into the RAF. However, a weak chest caused him to fail the RAF Medical Exam. He left the RAF for 3 months, before re-joining as an LAC on a Link Trainer Course. He regained his stripes when qualifying as an instructor. He continued with this for 2½ years, combining this with Duty Pilot at RAF Finningley.

Now married to Rene, he was offered a Commission if he moved stations. The cost of new accommodation was too much for the young couple, so he declined, and remained at Finningley until after D Day, when he went to France as i/c a Flare Path team at Bomber Command Emergency Airfields. They saved the lives of several bomber crews by talking them down safely. When back in the UK after the war ended, Jim took his 12-man team to a Coventry pub, where they bumped into an all Warrant Officer bomber crew. Realisation dawned that it was Jim’s team who had saved them when their Lancaster G George had to make a forced landing at Juvencourt B68 airfield a year before.

Post war, Jim sold medical equipment to hospitals all over the UK for 25 years. After retirement, Jim became a local Councillor, and a staunch member of his local Methodist Church, as well as being a senior Freemason, and member of the Royal British Legion. He was a great raconteur, and you never needed to worry about a strained silence if Jim was in the room!

Aged 80, he was given a trip in a Cessna 180 by the Sherburn Aero Club, and told me that on reaching 90 he was sure that he could still handle a Tiger Moth.

Jim said at this time how proud he had been to know 609, and the bods in it. They were as good as any Guard’s Unit in his view. He told the guests at a 609 Squadron dinner that “One thing that will happen to all of you. You never retire from the Service. It sticks to you like glue!”

Jim Thompson was buried at his local Church on 1st December 2008, aged 92. He was a gentleman, a patriot, a proud and loving father, a leading member of his community, and an absolutely marvellous man to have known.


Tennant Jacqueline 1 MHU / 600 *

Sergeant Jacqueline Tennant

Jacqui Tennant was attested into the Royal Auxiliary Air Force on 11th April 1985. She served as a Tele Communications Officer initially with No 1 Maritime Headquarters Unit, and later No 600 (City of London) Squadron.

She volunteered at every opportunity, be it an exercise, a parade or in deed adventure training – she embraced every aspect of Service life.

She was promoted to Cpl in March 1995, Sgt in February 2001 and mobilised in support of Op Telic April-October 2003. One of the highlights of her career was being presented to HRH The Queen Mother in 2000 who, no doubt, was just as excited to meet Jacqui as Jacqui was to meet The Queen Mother!

Guidance and support of her colleagues was her forte – here she never faltered and provided her very own brand of encouragement – which always included a huge smile.

A career change as she turned 40 lead her to her other passion – travel. Her first adventure was supporting the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia in 2006. A 12 month career break from the Squadron allowed her to continue her journey working her way across the Far East and Europe until she reached Mallorca where she taught swimming to children on holiday.

Jacqui re-joined the Squadron briefly in September 2007 for a field training exercise and it was like she had never been away. She threw herself into every activity that weekend with seemingly renewed vigor!

She returned to Mallorca to complete the summer season but, on the 7th October she went for a walk in the hills above Alcudia and failed to return. A tireless search by her sister, Monique, proved fruitless but then, in August 2015, remains were found by a walker who had been following an old mountain path and become lost.

Jacqui was laid to rest on 28th November 2017 – 10 years after she disappeared. She would have been pleased to be surrounded by so many friends and family. There were tears but shared memories and countless stories brought great comfort.

Sgt Jacqui Tennant served the Royal Air Force for 22 years. She will be remembered for her enduring spirit, determination, laughter and sense of fun. Today’s dedication is our gift to give thanks for her life, her Service and her friendship.

Stotesbury Edwin *

Edwin Stotesbury

Edwin Stotesbury, known as ‘Tony’, served in the Royal Air Force from 1941 to 1946. He originally volunteered for aircrew but was turned down due to his eyesight and on being called up was trained as a mechanic fitter at RAF Cosford. He was posted to various stations including Boscombe Down, Silverstone, Tarveston, Halton and Hullavington, the latter being the Empire Central Flying School.

In November 1944, Tony, now a Corporal Airframe Fitter II, was posted to No.139 Repair and Recovery Unit in Madras, India, where he worked in the engineering section. He spent a short time at RAF Kandy in Ceylon on an instructor’s course before moving to No.2 Maintenance Unit at Allahabad. He returned to the UK in August 1946 on demobilisation.

In civilian life he was employed as a building Surveyor/Estimator and lived in Bromley, Kent. He joined No. 600 (City of London) Squadron in April 1949 and served in his Airframe Fitter trade until March 1956, working on a variety of aircraft during that time including the last versions of piston-engined fighters in service –Spitfire Marks 14, 21 and 22 – and the first jet, the Meteor.

He joined the 600 Squadron Association in 1958 and was a staunch member and supporter for many years, including serving as a Trustee.

Smith Mark 609 *

LAC Mark Smith

Mark was born on the 5th March 1970 and grew up in the Mosspark area of Glasgow in the early 1980s, where he lived with his parents and brother. It was here where his passion for aviation grew and at the right age he joined No. 2175 (Rolls Royce) Squadron Air Training Corps in the Hillington Estate in Glasgow.

He loved being an Air Cadet and every Wednesday and Friday would attend for training with two good friends, John Baxter and Jim Shanks. They learned about leadership and teamwork and participated in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. Mark was drawn more to the operational side of aviation in particular to airfield operations and Air Traffic Control, and this passion stayed with him for many years after leaving the Cadets.

Some years later, Mark applied to join the Royal Air Force in the role of Air Traffic Controller, but then decided he wanted to have some life experience before committing himself to the Service. He then went on his journey working home and abroad within the travel sector, and by doing this he could expand his leadership experience and at the same time keep up to date with current airfield operations.

Mark returned to the UK in the early 2000s and changed his career to telecommunications, gaining a senior role with Orange as Head of Business. In 2002 he joined 609 (West Riding) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force at RAF Leeming as a Flight Operations Assistant. This was an unfinished dream come true, taking him back to those years when he had originally thought about joining the Royal Air Force. He completed his training under a watchful eye of the instructors and due to his joyful manner he earned the nickname “Shrek”.

Due to a change of address and circumstances Mark left 609 Squadron and transferred to 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron, where he served until 2006. It was here that Mark was reunited with his old childhood friend Jim Shanks, who at that time was serving on 603 Squadron, and for both is was just like reliving all those years before in the Air Cadets.

By this time Mark had met Nicola, his future wife and soul-mate, and together they would have their son Mackenzie. Mark was a family man, a loving husband, a doting father to Mackenzie and a loyal friend. He filled any room with his laughter. He passed away on 29 July 2017 and will be missed by all the people whose lives he touched…………….

Jim Shanks