Blanche Bruce *

Squadron Leader James (Bruce) Blanche QVRM AE*
No 1 MHU, No 2 MHU, No 603 Sqn, No 600 Sqn

Bruce Blanche was born in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire and and spent much of his young life in Brunei and in the Far East where his Canadian born father worked as an oil driller with Shell. Oil must have been in Bruce’s veins as he was later to develop a successful career as an exploration geologist in the hydrocarbon industry. In recognition of his expertise, Bruce was made an Honorary Professor at Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh.

Having joined the University Air Squadron whilst reading for his degree at London University, Bruce joined No 1 (City of London) Maritime Headquarters Unit of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and trained as an intelligence officer, but his civilian work in the oil business brought him to Scotland and he then transferred to No 2 (City of Edinburgh) Maritime Headquarters Unit in Edinburgh where he rose to become deputy commanding officer. Sadly, Bruce entered a lift on the second floor of his company office in Glasgow only to find the lift wasn’t there. He fell to the basement, sustaining major injuries. After a considerable period of recuperation Bruce was back in uniform.

As an intelligence officer, Bruce was pivotal in ‘back room operations’ deep underground in Pitreavie Castle where submarine, surface and air reconnaissance tasking was conducted. He also worked in the intelligence section at the Clyde Naval Base at Faslane, home to the Polaris and later Trident nuclear submarines. One of Bruce’s greatest military attributes was that he could always see ‘the big picture’ and this, coupled with his detailed knowledge of Soviet forces and his international experience as a consultant in the oil and gas business, made him a most valued asset during exercises and other operations. Indeed, during the Gulf War, Bruce personally briefed the Commander in Chief of the RAF and other senior staffs on the importance of the oil and gas fields in the Middle East and the implications of air attacks in that region.

Churchill is attributed in saying, “The Reservist is twice the citizen”. Bruce was the epitome of this. He was an exceptional asset to the British nation.

Bruce worked closely with Bill Simpson and David Ross as a co-author of the history of 603 Squadron entitled “The Greatest Squadron of Them All”. This remains an acclaimed and most detailed aviation publication running to two large volumes and no less than eight hundred pages. Bruce was utterly dedicated to and promoter of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, its ethos and traditions such that he was appointed official historian of the Force. For his work in uniform he was invested personally by Her Majesty The Queen, with the Queen’s Volunteer Reserves Medal. This remains a rare honour that was fully deserved. Later, he became a founding Trustee of the Force Foundation and subsequently a guiding light in the planning for and installation of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force Memorial at Alrewas and the Roll of Honour at St Clement Danes Church in the Strand.

After a short illness, Bruce died in hospital on 7 November 2018, aged 72. Bruce leaves his wife Jean, daughters Rachel and Sarah and son Jamie.

Blackadder Francis 607 *

90282 Flight Lieutenant William Francis Blackadder – 607 Squadron

William Francis Blackadder joined 607 Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force in early 1936 having attended Cambridge University and played rugby for Scotland. He was called for full-time service at the outbreak of war and flew to France with the squadron on November 15th 1939.

On May 11th, the day after the Blitzkreig started, Blackadder shared in destroying a He111 and claimed another, unconfirmed. On the 18th he claimed a Do17 destroyed but return fire forced him to crash-land near Denais. 607 suffered heavy losses and was withdrawn to England on May 22nd. Blackadder was awarded the DSO (gazetted 4th June 1940), the citation stating that he had shot down three enemy aircraft and carried out several very important reconnaissances of bridges and roads at a time when information was hard to come by.

When the Battle of Britain began 607 was stationed in the north of England at Usworth and on August 14th intercepted German raids coming in over the North Sea, Blackadder damaging two He111’s and destroying another the next day.

The squadron was moved south to Tangmere on September 7th and on the 9th Blackadder shared in the destruction of a Do17, on the 13th he damaged a Ju88, on the 14th shared two Ju88’s, on the 26th destroyed a He111 and on October 4th shared in destroying another.

On November 9th Blackadder was posted to Turnhouse as Sector Controller in the Operations Room, later doing the same job at Usworth, Ouston, Prestwick and Ayr. He commanded 245 Squadron at Aldergrove from June 1941 to July 13th 1942, when he was posted to 10 Group, as Controller at Rudloe Manor.

B1ackadder went for a course to the Army Staff College, Camberley on January 1st 1943, after which he was posted to HQ Fighter Command, as Wing Commander Tactics, on May 7th 1943. He moved to HQ Allied Expeditionary Air Forces on September 28th.

Blackadder’s final wartime posting was as CO of the Air Fighting Development Unit at Wittering. He was made an OBE (gazetted 1st January 1945) and was released from the RAF on November 19th 1945. He rejoined 607 Squadron at Ouston in September 1946 and served with it until December 1948, after which he became CO of the Northumberland Wing, ATC until February 1st 1951. He died in 1997.

Bisdee John 609 *

Flying Officer John D Bisdee RAFVR – 609 Squadron

John Bisdee was born at Weston-super-Mare on 20 November 1915 and educated at Marlborough College. He was awarded an Exhibition at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Afterwards he went to Spain to learn the language, only to be evacuated on the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. He became a management trainee with Unilever.

A member of the RAFVR from July 1937, he was called up on 1 September 1939. After completing his training he was commissioned on 1 December, joining 609 Squadron on the later that month. Bisdee was still with 609 at the start of the Battle of Britain. On 18 July 1940 he shared in damaging a He111, on 11 August he claimed a Me110 destroyed, on the 25 another damaged, on 7 September a Me110 destroyed and another damaged, on the 26 a He111 probably destroyed, on the 27 he shared a Me110, on the 30 probably destroyed a Me109 and on 7 October shot down another Me110!

In sweeps over France, Bisdee shared a Me109 on 21 May 1941 and destroyed another four in the following weeks. He was awarded the DFC in July 1941 and posted to 61 Operational Training Unit as an instructor. He had a small speaking part in the film ‘The First of the Few’ (1942).

He was next given command of 601 Squadron in March 1942 and on 20th April he led 12 Spitfires from the aircraft carrier,USS Wasp, off Algiers, to fly to Malta. The next day, flying from Malta, Bisdee destroyed a Ju88 but was then jumped by Me109s and shot down. Baling out, he discovered that his parachute harness had been damaged and he was being held by one leg strap. Once in the sea he extricated himself and managed to inflate his dinghy. A six mile paddle took him back to Malta where he then unknowingly walked through a mined beach. On 10 May 1942 he shot down a Cant 1007 and next day he probably destroyed a Me109.

In 1943 he was appointed Military Governor of Lampedusa. In North Africa, Bisdee trained Free French pilots at Bone. Later, after a brief spell in Corsica, he was on the staff of 323 Wing in charge of night-fighter personnel in Italy. Bisdee was made an OBE (gazetted 14 June 1945) and released from the RAF in 1945 as a Group Captain.

After the war Bisdee returned to Unilever and rebuilt their networks in France and Italy. In 1951 he was appointed sales director of D&W Gibbs, the toothpaste makers, later becoming chairman. He retired in 1977 and died in October 2000.

Billam Allen 609 *


Allen Billam, was a Yorkshireman and quietly proud of it.  He was born on April 28th 1923 in Crookes, Sheffield. His family were not well off. His father was a self-employed knife-grinder in the cutlery trade and the dust from the grinding caused frequent bouts of ill-health, but his childhood was a happy one.

Allen was a bright, if not model, scholar but had to leave school at 14 to start earning money. So began a lifetime’s association with the Post Office with his first job as a telegram delivery boy complete with bike.

Still, his intelligence must have been noted because when war came he volunteered for the Air Force and was taken on for pilot training. He was sent to Calgary, Canada to train, and told a great story of the crossing. The ships would travel in convoy to evade the U-boats, but one morning their boat awoke to found themselves deserted. They had suffered from engine problems and so had been left to their fate. Canada must have been a fantastic experience for a boy who prior to the war, had hardly left Yorkshire. He acquired a love of pancakes and maple syrup and spoke of the intense cold and wonderful scenery they flew over. On a sad note, the first letter he received overseas was to say that his father had died of a perforated ulcer whilst only in his 50s.

Back in England, he was posted to numerous airfields around the country as D-Day preparations got under way. He used this time to develop his relationship with his future wife Barbara, and  when he was finally posted to 609 Squadron (just before D-Day) and had his own aeroplane – a Typhoon armed with rockets – it bore the name ‘Barbara’  in her honour.

609 Squadron provided critical support to ground forces pushing the German troops back towards their eventual defeat, and was made up of pilots from many nations – Belgium, New Zealand – and even Germany in the case of Klaus Adams, who had Jewish ancestry and is much more famous now as Ken Adam – designer of James Bond sets.

Allen would talk about the fun they had—the jokes they played for one thing. Someone allegedly stuck chewing gum over the bottom of the ‘toilet pipe’ in the cockpit of another pilot’s plane so that any fancy manoeuvres would cause an overflow. I never did find out if that was true but I believe pilots were banned from urinating on the plane wheels as it was perishing the rubber. He talked about the chap who was shot down and killed while still owing him money (card games being a common way of passing the time). He spoke of another who had borrowed his gloves. Allen finally badgered him into giving them back and the next time the pilot flew, his plane was attacked and his hands got badly burnt. He related how he got his nickname ‘Lord’ by signing just his surname at the bottom of an NCO’s letter he had censored—apparently only peers were allowed to omit their initials!

Allen’s active wartime service only lasted a year but it was one of the most intense, exciting and probably downright scary times of his life. (He did admit to being halfway out of the cockpit once preparing to leave a damaged plane but decided that he was too scared to bail out and took his chance landing instead!). When hostilities ended, he was posted to 2 Squadron where he flew Spitfires—always comparing them unfavourably to his beloved Typhoons—and took aerial photos of bomb damage. He also got married: that wartime romance led to nearly 66 years of happy marriage and two telegrams from the Queen. However, the RAF in peacetime was not his thing—I suspect he found the protocol and formality not to his taste.  So he returned to Sheffield; to the post office, his wife, Sheffield Wednesday during the football season, coarse fishing during the fishing season, and enjoyment of a good pint of bitter in any season.

He became a father relatively late in life – nearing 40 and with 17 years of marriage under his belt. Then  with one daughter and another on the way he moved out to settle in Lincolnshire where he spent the rest of his life, acquiring sons-in-law and grandchildren along the way and notching up nearly 50 years with the Post Office—service which won him the British Empire Medal. He was always happy to reminisce about the war and enjoyed catching up with former colleagues at reunions and book signings. He proved he still ‘had what it takes’ when he piloted a light aircraft as part of his 70th birthday celebrations.

Allen enjoyed relatively good health until the last couple of years of his life, when arthritis and heart trouble took their toll. He died of lung cancer on October 3rd 2011 with his family by his bedside. We miss him still.

Above: 87th birthday with grandchildren 2010

Bell Edmund 609 *

Edmund Bell

Edmund Bell was born in Blackburn Lancashire on 6th June 1910. He spent his thirty fourth birthday in RAF Transport Command West Africa as the D Day Landings were taking place in Normandy. He had just completed his 151st sortie navigating a Dakota DC3 from Douala, the largest city in the Camaroon, to Accra on the Gold Coast (now Ghana) – a distance of 609 miles in a total flying time of 5hrs 15 mins. Fifty six years later, his funeral took place on his ninetieth birthday at the Parish Church of St. Cuthbert’s Lytham, Lancashire, on June 6th 2000.

The sixth of the month was to be an auspicious day for the Bell Family. His wife, Annie (Nan) was born in Blackburn on 6th April 1912. They were married in the town on 6th July 1937 and their son, Gordon was born there on 6th November 1939. Nan and Edmund had met at school and were married for 63 yrs. For the last thirteen years, they lived in Lytham

“Enlistment for Duration of the Present Emergency”

During the summer of 1940, as the air campaign of the Luftwaffe raged over the skies of Britain, Edmund Bell decided to volunteer for the RAF. He was considered “too old and in a reserved occupation”. On Gordon’s first birthday, his father tried again. This time, the losses incurred in the Battle of Britain meant having to raise the age limits for entry and on 1st April 1941 his medical took place at Preston, Lancashire. The irony of the date did not escape him.

Reflecting on the day four years after the war had ended he wrote;

“Even then, I didn’t understand the purpose of it all because the boys I knew were young, happy and so full of life. But then they did serve an ideal to die for although a few “spivs” today think they were “mugs”. Even Gerald thinks I still am – maybe I am but then possibly I agree with him but I would do exactly the same if I could put the clock back 10-20 years.”

From June 1941 to March 1942, he was trained at RAF Padgate, London, Scarborough, and Carlisle where he noted a “Salary Increase, 3s/6d week (£9-2-0 per annum.)” A final photo was taken with Gordon before departing to Aircrew Despatch Centre, Heaton Park Manchester and a 12 day troop ship voyage to Canada;

Thursday March 26th – Friday 27th 1942

Into Gourock by 9.00am.Tender to “Rangitiki” in Clyde. Full of Canadian soldiers returning home for courses. Many Nazi prisoners on board- all services; some taken during raids on France. Am on D2 Deck – H18 Mess. Big ship – about 18000 tons. Warm and sunny. Wrote Nan.Good Meal. Conditions pretty lousy. Too many in. Many more prisoners taken on board. Turned in at 9:30pm. Slept badly altho’ tired – too stuffy – Getting ready to move.”

“Beer 6d pint-Players 1s8d for 50 – Oranges 6 for 1/= –Navy Cut + Bruno Tobacco 6d per oz!!!…Bagged a mattress, Set sail at 18. 10hrs, ‘SS Rangitiki’ and another; 2 destroyers escort. Last letter to Nan and Gordon…Bed by 10:15 pm on a mattress on floor. Lousy”

Sunday 29th March to 5th April (Easter Day)

Very Rough, Feeling Seedy!! – 3 times as far to go yet. Pitching and Rolling Like Mad. Head whizzing round like a top….Mother’s birthday (31st March) …Death aboard other ship. Hope it’s not one of our lads. Very overcrowded and stuffy. …Raining hard and gale blowing; visibility almost nil…Prisoners hoping to make a break. Guard doubled about 100 miles away from Halifax.” (Canada)

During the voyage, a trade developed swapping chocolates and cigarettes for Nazi badges from prisoners.


Monday 6th April 1942

“Nan 30 today. Easter Monday” “…fog lifted slightly – sighted land 6:15pm! pulled into Halifax – Nova Scotia by 8pm. grand sight –  big place – no blackout here. wrote Nan.”

Aircrew Training in Canada

From March 1942 to February 1943, Edmund Bell was posted to  the Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS) RAF Pearce, some 2,800 miles to the east via Montreal.

After a four day train journey, he arrived at Pearce “We are miles and miles from anAywhere and anyone. New station” (Now, nothing remains but a memorial cairn on the site of the guard hut). His pilot training began in earnest a fortnight later;

 “Beautiful Day! Up 5:30am over to Flight Crew room ready to fly by 7am. Managed to get 40mins in at 10.30am! P/O Clark on Stearman. Lousy. Helmet & intercom punk. Couldn’t hear a damn thing. Made a very poor show indeed. Will have to do better.”

A further four weeks of intensive training followed until the landmark day of his first Solo flight. By the end of that week (31st May 1942) he had completed 14:25 hrs Dual and 2:25hrs Solo.

He described his feelings to a colleague soon after the war ended;

“It’s almost exactly eight years ago to the day when I “packed” my little bag and reported to ACRC London as a ‘U.T. Pilot-Cadet’ –Gosh! I was so happy and proud too – Proud and not a little pleased that I had passed my Selection Board – Quite a formidable task, I would mention, for one as old as 31! And then my posting in uniform……4 months of swotting, swotting & swotting wondering if it was worthwhile – was it when I could get a cushy job as an Orderly Room Clerk quite easily in the UK? …….there is no easy way….trying so hard to assimilate all the Gen at E.F.T.S. ….I tried to pick it up all at once….too eager in fact as my Instructor realised….. and then he patted me on the back, climbed out of the front cockpit and I went “Solo”- I was supremely happy – on my own and singing at the top of my voice – Thinking too- I hope the war won’t be over before I’ve had a crack.”

By the end of June, 1942, 87hrs 10mins flying time had been clocked up. A new posting arrived; to No. 1 Royal Canadian Air Force, Central Flying School at Trenton, Ontario; 1,800 miles west, a three day train journey via Toronto. He was going to be a Navigator.

Training at Trenton consisted of lectures and weekly exams requiring a pass rate of “not less than 60% in each subject and an aggregate of 70% in all subjects”. By 20th of August 1942;

“Bags of panic. Big posting of air Bombers going soon. Everyone being interviewed re changing over! Very unsettling indeed. Still a Navigator! Interviewed 4pm…….Rumours of posting to Winnipeg”

No. 5 AOS (Air Observer School i.e. Navigator) Stevenson Field, Winnipeg, Manitoba lies in south central Canada close by the US border. Edmund arrived there on a 20 week course with Ground School lectures plus day and night flights and exercises. The training aircraft used were twin engined Avro Ansons.

After 77hrs 30mins of day navigation and 37hrs 10mins of night navigation he took his Final Exams. With enormous relief and delight, he attended his “Wings Parade” on 19th February 1943. He was posted the same night to Moncton, New Brunswick en route to the UK. It had been 20 months since his first introduction to “Flying Duties.”

Pilot Officer Operational Training in England

Replete with a new uniform from the famous Eaton’s store in Moncton and after sewing on his RAF buttons, he boarded a special train on a two day journey bound for New York;

More came on board during night: Dutch-Belgians-USA-Norwegians–Canadians ……Aussies – Free French –Czechs –etc. Sailed 10:30am. Past Statue of Liberty…Should be HOME in A WEEK’s TIME! (d.v.) – job getting all my stuff in suitcase & kit bags weigh a ton! (Thursday 11th March) Bit woozy – too hot and stuffy – In lounge –wonder what Nan & Gordon are doing and thinking now! Soon Know!

HMT Queen Elizabeth crossed the Atlantic in six days with no escort and around 10.000 service personnel on board;  “a rough voyage, two meals only” with blackouts in force throughout.

Freshly promoted to Flying Officer, his next posting was to an Operational Training Unit of “Wellington” bombers.  He was “crewed up” with a pilot with whom he flew regularly on both day and night sorties. They were destined to experience some testing times together;

1944 and Beyond

EB spent Christmas Day in 1944 back on board a troopship, this time HMT “Leopoldville” in Gibraltar Harbour. The first few weeks of the New Year were spent familiarising himself with an aircraft in which he would spend many months navigating across Africa, India, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Bermuda and the USA. It was the highly regarded workhorse of the air – the Douglas Dakota DC3.

19th October 1943 (EB’s 81st flight – 6hrs 20mins; Base – ‘Position X’ – Base; anti-sub patrol )

“Bernard ‘passed out’ at 15,000΄ for at least 30 mins – Put ‘George’ (auto pilot) in & managed to cope. Johnny in the rear was blissfully unaware of it all!! Wot a Life! Pitôt Head ( a critically important airspeed instrument) froze at 14,500’… Stalled… A.S.I. (air speed indicator) Round Twice! 10/10 clouds – Temperature minus 18 degrees –Visibility 50′. Recalled to Base – circled 50 mins before finding way in.

Almost Bought It! What a trip – everything happened that could happen but this must be too soon for me to hand in my pass to St.Peter!! Bernard completely “out” – Lack of Oxygen? Most frightening; – the only crew to return to Base; 5 did not return.”

There are many other examples in Edmund Bell’s log books, diaries, and records of those who also did not make it home.

He had been assigned to the newly formed “Transport Command.”

Motto: “Ferio Ferendo” ( I Strike by Carrying ) and posted initially to 114 Wing Accra West African Forces.

“Civvy Street” arrived in October 1946. It did not last long. Four years later, he was “Back in Harness” in the RAF Volunteer Reserve. He was promoted to Flight Lieutenant one year later to serve at No 19 Reserve Flying School, Woodvale, Southport. He was then transferred to the Royal Auxilliary Air Force attached to 609 (WR) Squadron No12 Group Fighter Command, Church Fenton.

Edmund Bell’s RAF career ended after a further period as a Reserve Officer in 1964; a total of 23 years including 21 yrs commissioned aircrew service. He had flown over 400 sorties and completed 1,110hrs 10mins flying in 24 different types of propeller and jet aircraft.  He had been posted to 39 units, landed at 118 different airfields, and navigated over 250,000 miles. His last log book entry reads;  “Q.E.D”. not “R.I.P”.

Beaumont Stephen 609 *

Flight Lieutenant Stephen G Beaumont – 609 Squadron

Stephen Gerald Beaumont was born on 2 May 1910, the eldest of three sons of Gerald Beaumont of Hatfield Hall, Wakefield. His father, who had been awarded the MC and Bar in the First World War, headed the family firm of Greaves, Atter & Beaumont, solicitors.

Stephen was educated at Oundle and New College, Oxford. In 1931, after visiting Kenya, he entered the family firm as a qualified solicitor and after his father’s death he took on increased responsibilities in his twenties. In 1936 he had become a “weekend flyer” in 609 (West Riding) Squadron Auxiliary Air Force at RAF Yeadon north of Leeds.

During the “Phoney War”, the squadron undertook defence patrols over the north of England and Scotland; when France and the Low Countries were invaded in May 1940, 609 was ordered south to Northolt. When, at the end of May, the BEF was evacuated from Dunkirk, Beaumont flew sorties against heavy odds to provide fighter cover for troops on the beaches. Subsequently, after fighting in the early part of the Battle of Britain, he left the squadron, having served briefly as its acting commander. When Beaumont left 609, seven of the 12 pilots with whom he had gone to war were dead and two were invalids. Of an additional 12 who had joined later, only three were alive. Posted to No 7 OTU at Hawarden, Beaumont found life “restful” after the stress of operations over the Channel and southern England. He was subsequently promoted to Squadron Leader and Chief Instructor.

In July 1941 Beaumont moved on to Fighter Command’s No. 9 Group defending the North West and was Mentioned in Despatches. In August 1942 Beaumont was promoted Wing Commander and posted to Andreas on the Isle of Man, which was a diversionary airfield for Flying Fortress bombers coming in from the United States and Beaumont invariably welcomed pilots and crews.
In the spring of 1943 Beaumont briefly commanded Woodvale on the Lancashire coast before moving to Zeals in Wiltshire, where he boldly amalgamated the RAF and WAAF messes. Posted as Group Captain in July 1943 to No. 84 Group, 2nd Tactical Air Force, in the role of Deputy Air Officer Administration, he was soon involved in preparations for the D-Day invasion on 6 June 1944. In Normandy he lived and worked in the back of a three-ton truck complete with washbasin. After being invalided home with hepatitis he returned to 2nd TAF in time for VE Day.

After the war Beaumont became Clerk to the Governors of Wakefield charities, Clerk to the Commissioners of Tax, and Secretary of the Wakefield Chamber of Commerce, Deputy Coroner, for Wakefield and Chairman of the Wakefield Hospital Management Group. In 1967 Beaumont was appointed Deputy Lord Lieutenant for the West Riding of Yorkshire, and in 1979 High Sheriff of West Yorkshire. In retirement at Devizes in Wiltshire, Beaumont liked to read poetry. He was also a keen historian and published histories of Wakefield rural district council and of the Sheriffs of Yorkshire and Wiltshire.

He died in September 1997.

Bazin James 607 *

90281 Flight Lieutenant James M Bazin AAF – 607 Squadron

James Michael Bazin was born in Kashmir, India but returned to the UK and was brought up in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He joined 607 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force at Usworth in May 1935, flew his first solo on 11 November and was commissioned in December. He was called into full-time service on 28th August 1939.

607 Squadron was ordered to France on 13 November 1939 to join the Air Component of the BEF and it’s Gloster Gladiators were flown from Acklington down to Croydon and two days later across the Channel to Merville.

On 11 May 1940 now flying Hawker Hurricanes, Bazin shot down his first He111 north of Douai and next day he destroyed another near Brussels. The squadron suffered heavy losses in the fighting in France and was withdrawn to England, re-assembling at Croydon on 22 May and thence returning to the home-base at Usworth for rest and refitting.

Bazin claimed a Do17 destroyed and another damaged during the Luftwaffe’s large raid on the North on 15 September 1940 and on the 30th he claimed a Ju88 shot down and probably a second. Bazin, who had been shot down once in France, crash-landed at Hurn on 5 October when his engine failed in Hurricane P3668. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 25 October 1940), the citation stating that he had destroyed ten enemy aircraft.

In early 1941 Bazin was posted from 607 and at some time he served as a Controller in the 14 Group Operations Room at Inverness. He did a flying refresher course in November 1943, a Beam Approach Training course in December and in January 1944 was posted to 16 (Bomber) OTU. He converted to Lancasters at 1660 Conversion Unit and, after Lancaster Finishing School, he joined 49 Squadron at Fiskerton in May 1944.

In late June he was given command of 9 Squadron at Bardney. By the end of the war Bazin had carried out twenty-five operational sorties, including a raid on the German battleship Tirpitz. He was released from the RAF in May 1945 as a Wing Commander and was awarded the DSO (gazetted on 21 September 1945).

Post-war Bazin resumed his career as an engineer and rejoined 607 Squadron in November 1946, commanding it from late 1949 until 1952.

He died on 9 January 1985 and his ashes were scattered in Tangmere churchyard.

Barran Philip 609 *

Flight Lieutenant Phillip H Barran AAF – 609 Squadron

Philip Henry ‘Pip’ Barran was born at Chapel Allerton, Leeds in 1909. By early 1937 he was a trainee mining engineer and manager of a brickworks at a colliery owned by his mother’s family.

He joined 609 Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force that year and was appointed ‘B’ Flight Commander early in 1939, the Squadron converting to Spitfires shortly before war broke out.

Barran was called to full-time service on 24 August 1939 and promoted to acting Flight Lieutenant on 14 October 1939. He was detached to RAF Northolt in November for a 10-day Air-Fighting Course and then two further courses in early 1940. Unfortunately he was to become one of the earliest casualties in the Battle of Britain. On 11 July 1940 his aircraft, Spitfire L1069, was severely damaged in a morning combat with Me109’s of III/Jagdgeschwader 27 having been bounced whilst flying convoy protection off Portland Bill.

Barran tried to reach the coast but was forced to bale out five miles short and he landed in the sea. He was picked up, wounded and badly burned, but died before reaching land. He was 31 years of age.

One of 609’s original pre-wais buried in Lawnswood Cemetery, Leeds.


Baraclough John *

Air Chief Marshal Sir John Barraclough KCB CBE DFC AFC

Honorary Inspector-General Royal Auxiliary Air Force

John Barraclough was born at Hounslow on 2 May 1918 and educated at Cranbrook School. After three years’ volunteer service with the Artists’ Rifles while working in the City of London, in 1938, he was granted a four-year commission in the Royal Air Force to train as a pilot.    Air Chief Marshal Sir John Barraclough gave an exceptionally long period of devoted service to the Crown and to defence affairs; after serving in the Royal Air Force for 38 years.  In retirement he conducted various studies for the Air Force Board and the Chiefs of Staff before becoming the Honorary Inspector-General of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.

On the outbreak of WW2 he converted to flying boats, and in 1940 operated with No 240 Squadron from the Shetland Islands.  After a period flying anti-submarine patrols and convoy escorts off the west coast of Scotland, he was made chief instructor of the Flying Boat Conversion Unit at Invergordon, where he was awarded an AFC for developing innovative methods of operational training.  In February 1942 he reformed No 209 Squadron, equipped with the Catalina flying boat, before leaving in June for the Indian Ocean to support the Eastern Fleet for the Madagascar campaign.   Operating with the barest facilities from Comoro Island in the Mozambique Channel he was awarded a DFC for the greatest devotion to duty.   Promoted to wing commander at the age of 24, he commanded the captured Italian airfield at Mogadishu, Somaliland, where Wellingtons conducted anti-submarine operations. On his return to Britain in May 1944 he became chief instructor at a flying-boat training unit and was mentioned in dispatches.   At the end of the war Sir John was offered and accepted a permanent commission in the RAF.

As a staff officer at the headquarters of Training Command, he wrote an imaginative paper on using a basic jet aircraft for initial pilot training paving the way for the introduction into service of the long-serving Jet Provost aircraft.  For his achievement in flying a single seat, single engine Vampire 10,000 miles in a round trip to Southern Rhodesia he was awarded a Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air.   Important career postings followed including Director of Public Relations, Air Officer Commanding No 19 Group and Air Officer (Administration) of Bomber Command where he was instrumental in amalgamating Bomber, Fighter and Signals Command into the new Strike Command for which he was appointed CB.  He served as the Air Secretary and Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff.  His final post before retiring from the RAF in 1978 was as Commandant of the Royal College of Defence Studies.

In 1976 he was appointed as an Honorary Air Commodore of No 3 (County of Devon) Maritime Headquarters of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and for 5 years he was the Honorary Inspector-General of the Force.  Sir John was instrumental in persuading Her Majesty to agree to the award of a Colour to the Force, and in June 1989, 750 serving members of the RAuxAF paraded at RAF Benson on the occasion of the presentation of the Sovereign’s Colour for