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Thread: 211 squadron sortie

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    Default 211 squadron sortie

    Hi
    I was wondering if any members of this forum can help me. I'm trying to find some information regarding a particular sortie undertaken by 211 squadron sometime between January 1943 and the end of the war in Burma/India.

    Here's what I know from my Father:
    (My father (949264) was an LAC FM(E) in 'B' flight of 211 Squadron 1943 - March 1946).
    The sortie involved Squadron-Leader Muller-Rowland, my Father and beau X - 'M' or possibly 'W'. They took off from home base (?) and flew to somewhere near Coxs' Bazaar. A beach landing (?), the beau was then pushed into the jungle (?) and re-fuelled at the receiving squadron (squadron details unknown ? 273 sqdn (as my father mentioned Spitfires)); S/Lr Muller-Rowland then flew off on his sortie alone leaving my Father temporarily with the squadron. The sortie lasted several hours after which S/Lr Muller-Rowland returned to pick up my father, the beau X was re-fuelled again and returned to their home base.

    From what I understand it was quite an unusual occurrence - LAC and S/Lr combination.

    I am currently looking through the ORBs for 211 sqdn but so far I have not found anything regarding this sortie so any information would be very much appreciated - sadly my father passed away in 1995.

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    Default Re: 211 squadron sortie

    S/Ldr JSR Muller-Rowland DSO DFC+Bar was with 211 Squadron from 8 Oct 1943, as CO from 19 Aug 44 to 22 October 1944, proceeding thence to Bombay for repatriation to UK. That at least sets a somewhat shorter time period.

    Not an incident I recall, though may have missed it. Possibly, if not spotted in the 211 Sqn Monthly Form 540 and Form 541s, best also check in the Appendices: pro-forma OPREP Sortie Reports of daily operations:

    January and February 1944 AIR 27/1305
    March and April 1944 AIR 27/1306
    May and June 1944 AIR 27/1307
    July and August 1944 AIR 27/1308

    However for September 1944 to November 1944 there are none now extant at TNA, no matching AIR item, the numbered sequence being unbroken. Lost?

    A very active and well-regarded commander, twice decorated for his 211 Sqn service, MR died post-war in test-flying DH108 VW120 lost 15 February 1950.

    If his RAF Pilot's Flying Log Book survives, it seems likely to be in private hands, rather than any of the UK collections (not, eg, among the RAF Museum set).

    A non-operational flight might not get recorded, even flown by The Boss. If the incident is noted in the Squadron Record, that would be interesting to know...it was not for example mentioned by FM(E) Cpl A Goodinson, a keen diarist of the Squadron's daily ops & maintenance. Some hint of MRs skill and elan can also be gleaned from the several mentions among my compilation of 211 Sqn Beaufighter fates at http://www.211squadron.org/bristol_beaufighter.html. Just [Ctrl f] on Muller to spot them, on either page.

    In compiling my own account of the Squadron (www.211squadron.org) I gathered a complete set of the surviving Squadron records: Forms 540 & 541 paper copies of very indifferent legibility, under the then TNA charging regime (with some help from friends), and later a set of digitised microfilm B+W images, incl the OPREPS, many of like difficulty. The task of attempting transcription (thus searchable) of the 1944 and 1945 records was and is beyond me. However, by and large, the digital greyscale images now on line at TNA are of comparatively exemplary quality, and available free of charge in pandemic time.

    If I've missed a piece of MRs story there, so be it.

    Your fathers name/s might be of interest to readers.
    Best wishes with your project.
    Last edited by Don Clark; 7th August 2021 at 00:31.
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    Default Re: 211 squadron sortie

    Footnote
    (Out of time on the edit window).

    Further to OP dates "January 1943" to "March 1946"
    211 Squadron had ceased to exist after its battering and dispersal/disbandment/evac/captivity in the Netherlands East Indies Feb-Mar 1942, until reformed at Phaphamau 14 Aug 1943. Beaufighters started arr 15 Oct 1943. See 1943 transcript (incl non-ops trips, also training etc accidents): no mention of beach landing by Muller-Rowland. No Forms 541 for 1943, being non-operational. Operations resumed Jan 44. Stood down from Beaufighter ops 13 May 1945, to re-equip as Mosquito FBVI unit early Jun 45.

    Muller-Rowland
    John Stuart Rowland Muller-Rowland 103497 was posted to 45 Squadron as P/O then F/O from Oct 41 to Nov 42.
    Source: Jeff Jefford's admirable The Flying Camels Annex M
    He was F/Lt with 60 Squadron from Jul 1942 [sic] to Feb 1943 according to Young & Warne et al Sixty Squadron 1916 RFC RAF 1966 rolls section.
    Both mention him briefly for one op narrow escape, Jefford eg as "flying with 60 Squadron" - as having hit a pylon, carrying away a "substantial portion" of a wing tip, to nurse his damaged Blenheim back to the airfield. So, posted 45 Sqn then att 60 Sqn then posted 60 Sqn.

    His first DFC, as F/O, was awarded 8 Jan 1943 (db entry here), recorded by Maton Honour the Air Forces as for 60 Squadron service. Perhaps by a slip of the mind, his third Christian name is there noted as "Roland" and as "Rowland".

    As MR had two prior periods of Squadron service in the CBI theatre, with 45 Squadron (Blenheim IV) and 60 Squadron (Blenheim IV), before joining 211 Squadron (Beaufighter X) in Oct 1943, it might (only might) be worth checking their Operations Record Books for a beach landing event involving him, if all else fails. A faint chance.

    It's worth noting that, even for the most vivid events, personal memory can be very variable in detail accuracy:
    an event may easily get attached in the mind to some more memorable date (birthdays, eg, and any Fri 13th)
    or over time acquire details as if they were part of the action on the day, when in fact only later,
    or, indeed, events recalled as involving self when in fact occurring to a close mate.
    Tricky thing, memory - not deceit, just the mind at work in or after "dark and hurrying days".

    Lastly, a brief mark of respect: both of MRs brothers were killed in action on Beaufighter ops
    Stanley Rowland Muller-Rowland (103498) DFC + Bar 1944-10-03 - Beaufighter TFX NT950 236 Sqn
    Eric Rowland Muller-Rowland (122965) 1943-06-22 - Beaufighter JM381 144 Sqn
    Last edited by Don Clark; 8th August 2021 at 04:21.
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    Default Re: 211 squadron sortie

    Many thanks for the information Don, and please accept my apologies for not responding sooner but I have been on holiday for a few days and have only just picked up your response.

    My father was James Bowles Fairclough (949264 - LAC FM(E) in 'B' Flight, he was originally from St. Helens. In his photo scrap book he mentions several names of colleagues e.g. Bellamy, Adam Denholme, Steve and Gordie, P/O White, Cliff Shaw and Tubby Bond, Don Fraser, Vic Wesson, Curley Iley, Jock Stevenson, Sammy Spicer.

    My uncle John Morrison Horne was also in 211 squadron but in 'A' Flight he was an electrician.

    Thanks once again

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    Default Re: 211 squadron sortie

    Thanks. I can offer a few names and fates. Note: grim reading in parts.

    Cliff Shaw:
    Not found.

    While "Fabric Worker 633088 LAC Shaw CE", an old hand from 1942 mentioned in the roll of ground crew soon to dep Egypt for the East Indies, seemed at least possible,
    checking TNA AIR 78 Index of Airmen etc found in AIR 78/142/5 at Frame 34
    Shaw Charles Edgar 533088 and no other CE Shaws by first name or inits.
    Noting the service no garble, 5 for 6 (& vice versa) typo t/s +/or image fuzz is not uncommon.
    72 OTU roll amended accordingly.

    Sammy Spicer:
    Armourer, formerly 27 Sqn
    Sam Spicer died in 2010. Brief account and photos
    http://www.211squadron.org/burma_quintet.html#Spicer

    P/O White
    possibly
    136061 F/O White Navigator/W Died Rangoon Gaol 1944

    8th March 44
    Beaufighter X ‘R’ LZ364 F/O Luing, F/O White Missing
    http://www.211squadron.org/a_goodinson.html#LZ364
    http://www.211squadron.org/bristol_b...ter.html#LZ364

    Both men died while held as FEPoWs in Rangoon Gaol.
    F/O Luing
    http://www.211squadron.org/jf_luing.html
    Luing and White are also the subject of the Aug 45 letter of Rangoon survivor, 211 Sqn Navigator F/O BB Mearns
    http://www.211squadron.org/bb_mearns...LettertoLuings, thanks to the Luing family.

    While your father and uncle are names not otherwise recorded on site, you might like to [Ctrl f] your way through FM (E) CPl Goodinson's diary, where several of your list of men are mentioned...often in off-duty time. http://www.211squadron.org/a_goodinson.html

    Lastly, the beach event: is it recorded in your father's scrapbook in any more detail?

    I think that's all I can offer.
    Last edited by Don Clark; 16th August 2021 at 23:49. Reason: Shaw: discount 72 OTU 1942 Roll entry CE Shaw
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    Default Re: 211 squadron sortie

    Very many thanks Don I'll certainly have a look at FM (E) CPl Goodinson's diary. I will also check out the other links you have sent in your last message.

    Sadly nothing is mentioned in Dad's scrapbook about the mission he went on with S/Lr Muller-Rowland.

    Kind regards Andrew

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    Default Re: 211 squadron sortie

    For the record, and possibly of interest to Andrewcf as OP (though not online here since last posting), the life and service of all three Muller-Rowland brothers is the subject of a 2021 book,
    Flying Fast and Low: The Story of Three Extraordinary Brothers by David James Parker (Redshank Books/Libri Publishing 2021).

    The book is sourced from Squadron records, Flying Log Books and family memorabilia, and reflects a deal of detailed research and writing. Released in paper-back, with good quality images, this is a sincere account of the service of three brave men. I should add, for Andrewcf, that while MRs Flying Logbook was one of the author's sources, there is no mention in the text of a beach landing by him: a number of sea searches of one sort or another but no beach landing and no mention of LAC Fairclough - that I could see.

    It is unfortunate that nowadays it is often the case that the overhead of compiling an Index, or a Sources +/or Bibliography, plus the addnl pages involved, cannot be afforded in book publishing.

    Also unfortunately, from the point of view of general readers, there are a number of errors that will catch the eye (whether beginner or expert).
    These include the odd cut and paste error, plus a number of equally avoidable typos, for example
    Protvillle in Tunisia becomes "Portville",
    Moulmein in Burma becomes "Moulmain".
    More unfortunately, the redoubtable 211 Sqn CO W/Cdr Patrick Edward "Pat" Meagher (34072) DSO DFC becomes "Meacher".

    Again, for 211 Squadron, their badge is represented (so titled but without further remark by the author) in a good colour image of one of the silk embroidered panels that the Squadron thought, far away in India, to be the correct form of the badge: with a red lion as the emblem. In that they were mistaken (as is the author).

    In fact the Squadron emblem was not the red lion so common in England but the blue lion of Bruges, commemorating their World War I antisubmarine campaign against Bruges docks.

    Their undoubted esprit in India, on long-range strike ops against the Japanese, saw them arrange quantities of the silk panels from a local uniform wallah. The mistake apparently arose from having only black and white prints of their badge proper, supplied to the Squadron from UK RAF sources, their original painted badge having been left for safe-keeping first in the Middle East in 1942 (& later returned to the UK, rather than risk loss sending on to India). The correct form of badge, with blue lion, has been seen in colour in many published works over the years, and those interested can request quite stunning digital copies by the artist Mary Denton via the RAF Heraldry Trust.

    Then, on MR's arrival in Oct 1943, the author describes 211 Squadron as
    "in the process of converting to the Bristol Beaufighter MkX and MkXI"
    There are three problems here:

    1) The Squadron had been in effect disbanded in the field in late February 1942 (partly absorbed by 84 Squadron), and (early March 1942) either partly evacuated ex-Java (mainly aircrew) or (mainly ground crew) falling captive there to the Japanese. The Squadron had ceased to exist. From 14 August 1943 it was reforming at Phaphamau for Beaufighter long-range strike ops, with "none of the original Squadron members...on strength". The first aircraft to be taken on charge were apparently two Bisleys on 12 Oct 43, followed by the first two Beaufighter X a/c on 15 Oct.
    2) As the Squadron was reforming from scratch without personnel or equipment after a period of disbandment, the task was to work up on the Beaufighter X - rather different to converting to it from an existing establishment.
    3) As far as my research goes, from the Squadron records and Flying Logbooks, the known Beaufighters on 211 charge from Oct 1943 to May 1945 were all Mark X aircraft (in agreement eg with Jefford, Halley and Hamlin, eg).
    Mark XI aircraft all seem to have been JM serials (Hamlin), none of which were on 211 Squadron roster as far as I know.
    Sources
    AIR 27/1302 1943
    Bristol Beaufighter X (my compilation and sources as noted)
    Hamlin Bristol Beaufighter: The Full Story (AB 2022)

    Lastly, in another perhaps more debatable case, there seems to be a misunderstanding of overall aircrew loss rates, by type and no of tours.

    This is the author's second book on the war service of brothers in uniform. The amount of dedicated work involved is certainly creditable: rather fewer errors would have been preferable.

    [Extensive edit added re 211 Sqn Beaufighter text]
    Last edited by Don Clark; 4th December 2022 at 19:39. Reason: Added BeaufighterX notes. Better order
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    Default Re: 211 squadron sortie

    MULLER-ROWLAND, John Stuart Rowland, S/L, DFC (103497, Royal Air Force, since reported missing) - No.211 Squadron - Distinguished Service Order - awarded as per London Gazette dated 21 November 1944. Born at Woking, Surrey; home there. Educated at Uppingham. Enlisted 1940. Trained in Rhodesia; commissioned 1941. Awarded DFC, January 1943; awarded Bar to DFC, April 1944. Deceased as of June 1950 when he was Commended for Valuable Services in the Air. Killed in flying accident at Farnborough, 18 February 1950. No citation to DSO in Gazette; following text from Air Ministry Bulletin; also printed in Flight, 4 January 1945.

    Since the award of a Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross, Squadron Leader Muller-Rowland has completed many more operational missions. He has consistently shown a fine fighting spirit, and flying through adverse weather has on many occasions caused confusion to the enemy's supply lines. He has destroyed three enemy aircraft and damaged others, as well as causing much damage to enemy transport and locomotives. Squadron Leader Muller-Rowland's enthusiasm for operational flying, together with his leadership in the face of danger, has contributed much to the success of his squadron.

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    Default Re: 211 squadron sortie

    Thanks Hugh, for the reminder - previously noted on My Gallantry awards page entry for JSR "MR" Muller-Rowland DSO DFC+Bar
    showing both his DFC Bar & DSO (for 211 Squadron service)
    http://www.211squadron.org/gallantry...#MullerRowland
    (I'm sure it is thanks to Hugh that I have the AM details of his DSO, though I can't spot any corresp just now...).

    I don't immediately recall any "missing" sortie report for MR during his year or so with 211 Squadron (nor is any mentioned by Parker), however, he did have to ditch damaged LZ131 "W" on 6 April 1944: he and F/Sgt Gilley, uninjured, were picked up soon after ditching. Also, at the date of his DSO Gazettal, his DFC Bar had already been gazetted.

    And from my Personnel Rolls/Commanding Officers 1937—1945 page, my potted bio for "MR"
    http://www.211squadron.org/personnel_rolls.html#MR
    Poor link placement there - need to scroll up a line to see the full entry *now fixed*.
    Last edited by Don Clark; 7th December 2022 at 22:32. Reason: link fix
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