The Main Party of 138 Squadron moves to RAF Tempsford. This consists of a road party travelling by trucks, and an air party travelling in the squadron’s aircraft.
The schedule for the Air Party is an indication, no more than that, of the aircrew strength at that time. As the only reports since January 1942 are those entered in the Squadron ORB, which doesn’t mention anyone except the aircraft captains, there are several names that are not mentioned elsewhere. Most of these personnel are allotted to specified crews; F/Sgt Howard may be flying the squadron’s ‘hack’, Lysander R2626, with Sgt Jones in the rear. I can think of no other reason for these two to be listed in isolation.
The nominal roll is as follows:
F/O Livingstone, though not listed, flew in Hockey’s aircraft in the Front Gunner position
P/O W.R Austin
P/O D. Gibson
F/Sgt Fish, DFM
Sgt Klosowski (Maybe there were two.)
P/O Smith (Advance Party)
I shall endeavour to add the full lists for the advance party and the main party of the ground staff as soon as practicable.
The Advance Party of 138 Squadron moves to Tempsford. S/Ldr Romanoff would have been in charge, with P/O A.B. Smith as his deputy. The party of 40 includes a pair of representatives from each of the many Ground sections.
The move of the Main Party to Tempsford, including the aircraft and crews, is to be carried out on 14 March, and is to be completed by 23.59 on the same day.
F/Lt J B Austin is gazetted with the DFC.
No. 161 Squadron is transferred from RAF Newmarket Heath to RAF Graveley, about eight miles NNE from Tempsford. So far as I can tell, it does not acquire any Whitleys at this stage, and Graveley is its administrative base for the non-moon period.
S/Ldr Boris Romanoff is posted to 138 Squadron from the Parachute Training Squadron at RAF Ringway. He has spent the past 18 months flying Whitleys at the Parachute Training School (now the Combined Landing School), dropping trainee parachute troops over Tatton Park. He has been at Ringway since June 1940, arriving only two days after Louis Strange. Before then he had served with Ron Hockey in No. 24 (Communications) Squadron. Hockey believes his own transfer to 419 Flight in November 1940 was due to Romanoff’s recommendation (though it’s more likely to have been Strange’s), and now Hockey returns the favour.
138 Squadron ORB: TNA AIR 27/1068
161 Squadron ORB: TNA AIR 27/1068
Hockey papers, Imperial War Museum
No. 161 Squadron is officially formed at RAF Newmarket Heath. It is to take over the Lysander Flight and one Flight of Whitleys from No. 138 Squadron. It will receive more Whitleys as well. The squadron’s Commanding Officer is to be W/Cdr E.H. Fielden, MVO, who has been the King’s personal pilot and commander of the King’s Flight, which has been disbanded. The King’s Flight’s Royal responsibilities will now be carried out by No. 24 (Communications) Squadron, based at Hendon.
The existence of the new squadron will ensure that the relatively small operational requirements of the Secret Intelligence Service SIS are not swamped by the rapid expansion of SOE. SIS has always enjoyed official priority over SOE when it comes to allocating scarce air resources, and this policy has caused considerable resentment. The Lysanders have always been (officially at least) exclusively allocated for SIS purposes, and only two sorties (‘Night Embarkation’ in September 1941, and STOAT in December) have involved SOE personnel. The Whitley Flight is intended for parachuting SIS agents, but in practice it will also take on a fair share of the burden of SOE parachuting operations. In fact No. 138 Squadron does drop a few SIS agents; these operations are marked in the operations summary books.
A Lockheed Hudson belonging to the King’s Flight is to join No. 161 Squadron; the purpose is not clear, for at this stage there is no intention to use this twin-engined aircraft for clandestine operations into Occupied Europe, or indeed into Unoccupied France. In fact it is another year before Hudsons are used operationally in this role.
The 138 Squadron Operations Record Book notes that S/Ldr A.M. ‘Sticky’ Murphy is posted to the newly-formed 161 Squadron, RAF Gravelly, but the 161 Squadron ORB records 161 Squadron’s formation at Newmarket on the same date. The 138 Squadron ORB will be written up from scratch at some time in the future: the fact that it gets Murphy’s destination and rank wrong — he is atill a Flight Lieutenant — is one of many pointers towards 138 Squadron’s ORB being created after the move to Tempsford.