Tag Archives: Shore

S/Ldr Donald Ross-Shore

Sunday, 15 September 1940

Battle of Britain Day

The crucial day of the Battle of Britain: until the 15th it is not clear whether the RAF will win; after the 15th it appears unlikely to lose.

Massive daylight raids are launched against London. All of 11 Group’s aircraft are committed to the Battle. Provisional figures of 175 German aircraft downed are given to The Times for publication the next day. On Tuesday the paper increase this figure to 185, against the loss of only 25 British fighters (with 12 pilots safe). Anti-aircraft guns claim seven of the total. (The real figures are about 60 German aircraft losses versus 29 British fighter losses plus 21 damaged.) The large daylight raids cease; the Luftwaffe increasingly turns to night bombing.

RAF North Weald

Whitley V, serial P5029, is taken on charge by No. 419 Flight.

RAF Tangmere

The first attempt to parachute Philip Schneidau into France appears to have been carried out on the night of the 15-16 September. Though some logbook entries differ*, correspondence makes this date the most likely. One night later than originally scheduled (for the 14-15th), the delay is probably due to the late delivery of the Flight’s first Whitley. Whitley P5029 is flown from North Weald to Tangmere, where it is fuelled up for the operation. The agent joins at Tangmere, having been driven down by car.

F/Lt J.A. ‘Tony’ O’Neill, DFC is the Whitley’s skipper, with F/Lt Walter Farley as 2nd Pilot. S/Ldr Shore, AFC, acts as Schneidau’s despatcher and parachuting coach, at the agent’s insistence. Sergeants Davies and Bernard, until recently instructing trainee Wireless Operators at No. 10 OTU, Abingdon, are the Wireless Operator and Rear Gunner, though who was which is not known. The navigator is an unidentified sergeant. Takeoff is scheduled for 2100, but they don’t take off from Tangmere until 0015hrs (i.e. the 16th). S/Ldr Shore’s timings show a flight of 8 hours, while Farley’s shows 6 hours 5 minutes; Shore may have recorded the total flight-time from North Weald. The aircraft experiences high cross-winds over the Channel, and they fail to find the target area, the forest of Fontainebleau. The aircraft returns to Tangmere at 0700hrs.

*Logbook dates differ: F/Lt O’ Neill dated the operation to the 16th, but Farley and Ross Shore recorded it as the 15th. Though a night operation would conventionally be dated as though it were part of the previous day, some aircrew might record a sortie that either takes off after midnight or takes place predominantly during the early hours, as if it is the next day. The convention avoids the problem of a late sortie followed by an early one the next night, otherwise it would appear that two sorties have been flown on the same night. In this case an official report written on the morning of the 16th rules the 16-17th out. Though it is possible that the sortie was flown on the 14-15th as originally planned, the balance of evidence points strongly to the 15-16th. The next attempt will not be made for several nights due to poor weather.

Friday, 23 August 1940

Date Operation Name Pilot Aircraft Agent Target Country Outcome
23/8/40 “Mr X” F/Lt E.B. Fielden Whitley III “T”, K7218 Lt Lodo van Hamel, Royal Dutch Navy Leiden Netherlands Abandoned: searchlight site near target

Aircrew Details

Pilot F/Lt Earl B. Fielden
2nd Pilot S/Ldr Louis Strange, DSO, MC, DFC*
Navigator F/Lt Marsh
Wireless Operator None – no W/T
Rear Gunner None – no rear turret
Despatcher S/Ldr D. Ross Shore, AFC
Agent Lt. Lodo van Hamel

Lodo van Hamel

Van Hamel, a Lieutenant in the Royal Dutch Navy, has escaped to England after arranging for the evacuation of Princess Juliana to England by sea. He has also acted creditably in command of a Dutch Navy sloop during the Dunkirk evacuation, defiantly flying the Dutch ensign near the beaches. François van ‘t Sant, head of the Dutch government-in-exile’s intelligence service and a controversial Dutch courtier, asks for a volunteer to return to Holland and gather information about conditions in Holland under Nazi rule. Van ‘t Sant has had dealings with the Dutch section of SIS before the war, and he offers his government’s services. The Dutch Navy is asked to provide a volunteer. Kicking his heels in London, Van Hamel steps forward without hesitation.

Early attempts to land agents on the exposed beaches of Holland and Belgium have met with mixed success. By the end of July German control of the coast is tight. Van Hamel agrees to be dropped by parachute. He is given rudimentary parachute training at Ringway. The parachute school’s Commandant, S/Ldr Louis Strange, writes many years later: “We had given him a drop or two at Ringway and one at night, so off we went to North Weald to fill up and await final orders from the Air Ministry.”

F/Lt Earl Bateman Fielden, known as ‘Batty’, is chosen to fly the operation. He is already experienced at dropping parachutists: he has flown with Sir Alan Cobham’s Flying Circus during the 1930s, when a key part of its act involved the dropping of dare-devil parachutists such as Harry Ward. During the ‘Phoney War’ both Fielden and Strange served in No.24 Squadron, ferrying senior officers and politicians between Hendon and the BEF in France. One of S/Ldr Strange’s early acts as commandant of the Parachute Training School was to request F/Lt Fielden’s posting to Ringway. Fielden is now Strange’s Chief Flying Instructor.

Louis Strange, not one to pass up an opportunity for action, flies as Fielden’s Second Pilot. His logbook records F/Lt Marsh as the navigator. S/Ldr Donald Ross Shore, now recovered from his parachuting injury, flies in the rear fuselage as van Hamel’s despatcher.

The aircraft is one of Ringway’s own Whitley IIIs. Identified by the letter “T” in Strange’s logbook, a Ringway photo from 1941 shows that ‘T’ was K7218. The photo also shows that this particular Whitley’s rear turret has been removed and replaced by an experimental parachuting platform. This explains Strange’s later comment that the Whitley was defenceless. At North Weald, Strange scrounges a machine-gun for the front turret before they set off for Holland. There is no W/T operator, and probably no W/T set. As they approach the Dutch coast they encounter strengthening winds and cloud. They cross the Dutch coast near Bergen, quite a way north of the target. The forecast winds have been inaccurate in both strength and direction. Eventually they find the dropping-point near Sessenheim, about five kilometres north-east of Leiden. It is raining and gusty. Strange and Fielden have just decided that the wind is too strong for the man they call ‘Mr X’ to be parachuted when the Whitley is illuminated by ‘a powerful searchlight’ shining from near the spot where they have been about to drop the agent. They climb away to safety and return to North Weald, reaching it at about 7 a.m.

Sources

TNA AIR 29/520: ORB, Central Landing School, Ringway.
Typescript for ‘More Recollections of an Airman’, Louis Strange, RAF Museum.
Logbooks: Louis Strange, Donald Ross Shore.

Saturday, 29 June 1940

The Admiralty, London

In his continued search for the organisation responsible for whatever unit he’s been posted to at RAF Ringway, P/O Louis Strange is sent over to the Admiralty, where he finds Group Captain Bowman, DSO MC* DFC. Geoffrey Bowman (‘Beery’ Bowman, one of the 56 Squadron aces who in 1917 fought Werner Voss in his gallant fatal combat) is still trying to find a replacement for S/Ldr Ross Shore as CO of the Parachute Training School, for which he is responsible as the Combined Operations Air Director. P/O Strange is told to visit his tailor and take over the PTS on Monday.

Wednesday, 19 June 1940

RAF Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire

Squadron Leader Donald Ross Shore, a career officer who has become a parachute specialist, jumps from the tail of a Whitley and is concussed on landing. He also twists an ankle. He has been appointed to command the Parachute Training School, which is due to form at RAF Ringway in two days’ time.

Combined Operations HQ, London

Group Captain Geoffrey Bowman, DSO, MC*, DFC, Deputy Director (Air) of Combined Operations, has to find a replacement commandant for the parachute school, as Sqn Ldr Shore is now out of action.