No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron Short Stirling’s 1942-1944

HA B Bertie Stirling EF884 FTR 18 November 1943 PO A Hineand crew

A stunning photograph of the crew of Pilot Officer Alan Hine RAFVR standing in front of Short Stirling Mk.III EE884 HA-B “Bertie” a few days before they failed to return from Bremen on October 8th 1943. Short & Harland Ltd built EE884 was TOC by 218 Squadron May 31st 1943 and carried out its first operation on June 13th, a minelaying sortie to La Pallaice with F/Sgt S G Johnston and crew. The aircraft completed another 10 operations changing its call sign letter from H to Z to B in the process. The aircraft had flown a total of 101hrs 10min when lost.


D Donald

A fantastic view of Short Stirling Mk.I N3725 HA-D “Dumbo” taken June 1942. Built by Short Bros (R&B) Ltd the aircraft was TOC by the squadron March 25th 1942. One of the main crews to use her was the then F/Sgt Phil Lamason RNZAF who completed 13 operations between March and June 1942. It was also flown by the squadron commander Paul Holder DSO and Squadron Leader Arthur Oldroyd DFC. The aircraft crashed near Brandon, 1 mile east of Stoke Ferry Norfolk on return from Wilhelmshaven on September 14th 1942 killing 5 of the crew. In total N3725 completed 31 operations totalling 223hrs flying time. The name “Mamprusi” is recorded just above the bomb symbols, Mamprusi are a people who inhabit the area between the White Volta and Nasia rivers of the Gold Coast. The connection to this region is unclear other than the obvious association to the Gold Coast.

Scan 9

A trio of 218 Squadron Short Stirling’s over Rutland June / July 1944. Two of these aircraft participated in operation “Glimmer” the D-Day spoof operation. HA-U LJ517 a Short Bros (Rochester) built machine was flown by F/Lt Trevor Knapman RNZAF while HA-N LJ522 a Short Bros (Swindon) built aircraft was flown by Englishman F/Lt Robert Chaplin RAFVR. Stirling HA-O LK568 did not arrive on the squadron until June 10th. Note the Window dispenser beneath HA-U & HA-N to dispense the bundles of “Window” during Operation “Glimmer”.


BF480 HA I crash

May 14th 1943 and the aftermath of a crash at RAF Downham Market involving Short Stirling BF480 HA-I “Ink”. The circumstances surrounding this crash are rather tragic and will be explained in my book ST-VITH TO VICTORY to be published this year. The aircraft was coned and damaged by flak over Dusseldorf and Essen. Sadly two airman Sgt H Lancaster and Sgt A Denzey were killed when hit by BF480 outside the watch officer. All the crew escaped serious injury, Stirling BF480 was SoC Cat E/FB (Salvage) with a total of 83 flying hours.

Engine run up on test R8189 HA K

Short Stirling R9189 HA-K running up her engines on a rainy November day 1942. Built by Short Bros (Rochester & Bedford) the aircraft arrived on the squadron September 18th 1942. This was Canadian Mo Petitt’s regular aircraft completing a total of 20 Ops in her. The aircraft was destroyed in a take-off accident on February 29th 1943 when it swung to starboard while taking off for a raid on St Nazaire, resulting in the undercarriage collapsing. The aircraft had completed 30 operations amassing some 226 flying hours.

HA L London

Stirling Mk.III EF185 HA-L, Downham Market 1943. L-London arrived on the squadron September 27th 1943 undertaking its first raid on October 7th a mining operation skippered by Sergeant Tom Webster. Of the 35 operations flown with 218 Squadron 18 were skippered by Pilot Officer Trevor Knapman RNZAF & crew. On conversion to the Avro Lancaster EF185 was transferred to No.149 (East India) Squadron were it completed a further operation before the starboard tyre burst on landing at RAF Chedburgh on September 9th 1944. The aircraft was finally SoC April 24th 1945.


A superb photo of Short Stirling EF133 HA-A seen here on a Yank aerodrome August 1944. A-Apple was the regular mount of Squadron Leader John Overton DFC “A” Flight Commander. An ex XV Squadron aircraft it arrived on the squadron December 19th 1943. The aircraft completed 30 raids with the squadron before transfer to No.149 (East India) Squadron on August 11th 1944. While with 149 the aircraft carried out 1 Air Sea Rescue flight before passed onto No.1651 CU on September 13th. The aircraft was SoC April 24th 1945.

HA X Downham Market

Short Stirling Mk.I N6129 HA-X seen here in the sun July 1942. Built by Short & Harland Ltd Belfast X-X-Ray was officially part of 218 Conversion Flight. The aircraft carried out 4 operations failing to return from the attack against Hamburg on July 28th 1942 while skippered by P/O Colin McQueen Farquharson RAFVR. The crew were intercepted and shot at 02:01hrs crashing into the North Sea 3kms east of Sylt, there were no survivors.

BK727 HA S Electritians C Flight 1943 Ken Spragg 11th from left

Austin Motors Ltd built BK727 IC-S seen here with the electricians of No.623 Squadron November 1943. Formally BK727 HA-A of 218 squadron the aircraft completed 3 operations with the squadron. Transferred to No.623 Squadron on August 10th 1943, the aircraft was badly damaged by a night fighter while attacking Berlin on August 23rd 1943. It was on this operation Sergeant “Benny” Bennett the wireless operator to Flying Officer John Overton was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal. On 623 Squadrons disbandment in December 1943 BK727 was transferred to No.214 (FMS) Squadron where it carried out a number of SOE trips (including 3 skippered by No.161 (SD) piloted crews). The aircraft was SOC 24.04.1945


Austin Motors Ltd, Longbridge built Stirling Mk.III EH923 HA-E “Easy” photographed on November 16th 1943 with members of the Brazilian Mission. Group Captain H.H Downs AFC RAF Downham Market Station commander is seen talking to Col Fabio Sa Earp, Lt Col Reynaldo Joaquim de Carvalho and other members of the Brazilian Mission on a wet November day. Stirling EH923 arrived on the squadron June 6th 1943 and was initially coded HA-W completing 14 operations. Damaged while being moved on September 2nd the aircraft required repair on the station. On return to front line service on the 8th the individual code letter W was replaced with E. The aircraft carried out a further 8 operations, however the aircrafts luck run out on its 9th op when it was damaged by incendiaries dropped from above while attacking Mannheim on November 18th . Skippered by Flight Sergeant Robert Stirling RAAF the damaged aircraft was successfully flown back to RAF Downham Market where is was declared Cat Ac/FB requiring the attention of No.54MU. Although back on squadron strength in December 1943 it did not undertake and further operations. It was transferred firstly to No.1654 CU and then No.1332 CU. With a total of 292 hours 35 minute flying time EH923 was SOC June 19th 1945.