SHERLOCKS SQUADRON

The information given here is taken from the Squadrons

Operations Record Books

(ORBs)

It was on the 14th November 1943 that Vanrenens crew were posted from 1651 HCU

(heavy conversion unit) to 196 Squadron (then at Witchford), together with Sgt A.

Crosby who was an air gunner. Vanrenen held the rank of Flying Officer, while the

rest of the crew held the rank of Sergeant. On the 18th November 1943 the

Squadron moved from Witchford to Leicester East.

At the beginning of February 1944 there were 50 air gunners with the Squadron, but

 on the conversion to Mk IV Stirlings, all the mid-upper gunners were posted, and the

  strength was down to 23 air gunners. Sgt Crosby was posted to 617 Squadron on

 the 7th November 1944, thus reducing the crew to six. 

In the reports below the letters in yellow are the aircraft they flew in that day.

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8th Feb 1944. Form 540: (Daily Summary): Three aircraft set off from Hurn in

Hampshire tonight on a special mission, two reached their objective, but the third,

 although it reached it did not receive the co-operationhe looked for. All returned

safely to Hurn.

 Form 541: (Daily Details of Sorties) is not at all descriptive - EE874

"Operations as ordered to France". the crew for this op was Vanrenens, but Tammas,

 Handley, and Jones were then Flt. Sgts.

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1st March 1944, Wir. Op. Chalk was promoted to Flt. Sgt

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15th March 1944, Pilot Vanrenen was promoted to Flt Lt.

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 3rd March1944 F540: Four crews detailed for operations.All long trips and successful.

F541: LK510 Operations as ordered to France. No damage to a/c through e/a. SOE

( Special Operations Executive) 20 containers, 2 packets. Good reception - successful

 drop. Op from Tarrant Rushton. Crew as before, but Jones now shown as W/O.

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6th May 1944 Jones promoted from Temp. W/O2 to Temp W/O1

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5th june 1944 F540: The Squadron carried out its first mass sortie for the second

 front. 23 crews took off after 2300 hrs to drop troops and containers on DZ "N" on

 the French coast. The operation was a success, only one crew was missing, and two

 members of a crew which force landed at Ford. Light flak was encountered over the

 DZ.

 F541: LK510 Op "Tonga" DZ "N" 17 troops and kits, 9 containers. Concentrated

 light flak - a/c hit badly over DZ.Cat AC. Landed OK at base. Successful. Usual crew.

( Above was the start of the D-Day landings)

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8th June 1944 F540: Seven crews took off to resupply containers to DZ "N". Six

 crews received a recall signal when half way to DZ and returned. Two landed at

Ford (cloud base 200-400). 

F541: EF234 no entry. ( Information from SOE op records

but no complete crew details only pilots name ).

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12th June 1944 F540: Seven crews on operations; operated from Fairford. All

successful missions.

 F541: LJ949 Op Sunflower VI. 14 troops 14 containers. No

 enemy action observed. Good trip. Successful. Crew as before.

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23rd June 1944 F540: Nine crews took part on resupply mission Town Hall 13. All

aircraft dropped successfully.

F541: EF318 Target 491545N 001615W. 24 containers, 4 paniers. Medium flak S of

DZ. No damage to a/c. Pilot flew through a balloon barrage to rech DZ. Successful.

crew as before.

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11th July 1944 F540: Eleven crews on operations - nine were successful; one

 incomplete; one cancelled due to burst tyre before take off.

F541: LJ949 Stationer 158 SOE 24 containers, 2 packets. Successful. Very good trip.

1 container hung up. crew as before.

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20th July 1944 F540: 12 crews detailed for operations - six were successful.

F541: LJ949 4730N 031246E SOE. 24 containers, 1 packet. Successful. DZ located

by Gee. Good reception. Crew as before.

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27th July 1944 F540: Eleven crews on operations. Seven were successful.

F541: LJ949 Hermit 17 SOE. 24 containers, Successful. Satisfactory trip. Crew as

 before.

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4th August 1944 F540: 15 crews on operations. Seven were successful.

F541: LJ949 Giles 17SOE 24 containers, 1 packet. Successful. Reception difficult to

pick up. Crew as before.

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7th August 1944 F540: Operations - five crews were laid on; 1 was cancelled; 3 were

successful.

F541: LJ949 460810N 0042E SAS. 24 containers 5 packets. Successful. Reception

 poor, late at DZ. Take off delayed due to swing. Crew as before.

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10th August 1944 F540: Operations - 11 crews were laid on, 2 were cancelled, 1 a/c

failed to take off as the position of the DZ was incorrect, the other aircraft on this

 target was recalled. Six a/c were successful.

F541: LJ949 No entry. ( Information from SOE op records. No crew details other than

 pilots name ).

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13th August 1944 F540: Operations - 4 crews were laid on, 1 was cancelled, 3 were

 successful.

F541: LJ949 474850N 031635E SAS. 6 troops, 24 containers. Successful. Reception

excellent. Uneventful mission. Crew as before.

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16th August 1944 - Sgt J. Holmes promoted to F/Sgt.

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30th August 1944 - F/Sgt Tammas promoted to W/O

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2nd September 1944 - F/Sgt Handley promoted to W/O

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5th September 1944 F540: 12 crews on operations. 8 successful. 1 was forced to

 turn back at French course due to engine failure. Jettisoned load in channel to retain

 height.

F541: LJ949 473806N 043041E SOE. 24 containers, 3 packets. successful. Uneventful

mission. Crew as before.

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11th September 1944 F540: No entry about operations.

F541: LJ949 483055N 060044E. 24 containers, 3 packets. Successful, V.G. reception.

Uneventful trip. Crew as before.

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16th September 1944 F540: Camp sealed and briefing 1330 for major ops. Mission to

put 1st A/b Div. down near Arnhem, Holland. A/c marshalled before dusk for take off.

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17th September 1944 F540: 1st lift Stirling/Horsa combination. 22 combinations.

Successfully reched LZ. 1 rope broke over sea and 1 after crossing Dutch coast.

No tug losses.

F541: LJ949 Market 1 Arnhem. 1 Horsa. 1st A/b Division. Successful. Good trip.

 Nothing to report. Crew as before.

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18th September 1944 F540: 2nd lift Stirling/Horsa combinations. Successful. Two

failed to reach enemy coast due to Horsa trouble. Reserve a/c was taken when

 F/O Light had engine trouble at take off.

F541: EF318 Market II Arnhem. 1 Horsa. 1st A/b Division. Successful. Straightforward

trip. No trouble. Crew as before.

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19th September 1944 F540: 3rd lift and resupply. A bad day for glider towing.

Weather caused gliders to cast off. Only 5 of the 9 to take off reached the LZ.

One Horsa in sea, 2 tugs down in England with engine trouble, and one returned

 early with engine trouble. Resupply. 15 aircraft took off. 14 returned to base, most

 of which had holes in, due to mixed flak at TRV and DZ. W/O Prowde and crew and

 F/O Chalkley missing.

F541: EF318 Market III Arnhem. 24 containers, 4 panniers. Successful. Light and

heavy flak over DZ. No damage to a/c. Crew as before.

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21st September 1944 F540: 10 crews on operations. P/O Hoystead turned back, RG

u/s, unmanageable. 6 Successful. 3 missing.

F541: LJ949 Market V Arnhem.  24 containers, 4 panniers. Successful. Good trip. 

1 hang up. No damage. Crew as before.

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16th October 1944 F540: Weather once again poor. However, four operations were

flown by the Squadron but, due to bad weather and lack of reception, only one was

successful. First operations by the Squadron from Weathersfield.

F541: LJ 979 524421N 055420E. SAS. 24 containers, 2 packs. Unsuccessful. No

reception. weather bad en route and on DZ. Crew as before.

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14th February 1945 F540: Eight aircraft briefed for tactical bombing. One failed to

 take off due to Radar failure. Seven successful, each dropping 18x500lb bombs.

Target obscured by cloud.

F541: LJ979 Inelburg Germany. Tactical bombing. 18x 500lb bombs Successful.

10/10 cloud, target top 4,000ft. dropped from 7000ft. Crew as before, but Jones now

 P/O.

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20th February 1945 F540: Nine crews briefed for SOE`s Norway. One failed to take

 off; a/c u/s. Five successful.

F541: EF318 Pommel II 6006N 1026E. 18 containers, 3 packets. Successful. Very

good trip, some low cloud near DZ, flak ship seen in Oslo Fjord. Crew as before.

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22 February 1945 F540: Seven aircraft to Norway. Two successful. All diverted to

 Lossiemouth.

F541: LJ979 Tail 17 5921N 1058E 18 containers, 3 packets. Not successful. Landed

 Lossiemouth. No reception. Weather OK, light flak near DZ. Crew as before.

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24th March 1945 F540: Operation Varsity Airborne Rhine Crossing. 30 crews from

 Squadron took part, 27 successful. F/Lt Campbell set course on three engines and

completed operation, but force landed near Brussels. F/Lt Vanrenen (completed

 mission ) forced landed near Overloon. 3 of crew injured.

F541: LJ979 Successful. OK at DZ. Shot up on turn. Forced landed near Overloon. 3

 of crew injured.

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There are no further references to any of the crew flying and the only other entries

 are as follows:

24th April 1945 - F/Lt Vanrenen posted to RAF Shepherds Grove N/E sick.

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26th May 1945 - W/O Tammas posted back to Squadron from Shepherds Grove N/E

sick.

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31st May 1945 - W/O Handley posted to 81 OTU.

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8th June 1945 - W/O Tammas posted to 81 OTU.

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15th August 1945 - F/Sgt Holmes posted to ORTU.

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16th August 1945 - F/Sgt Holmes promoted to W/O.

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My thanks goes to John Reid of the Stirling Aircraft Research Library for all his work

in supplying me with all the previous information. Also a mention to Bryce Gomersall

who also helped in the research. Many thanks guys.

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