Tag Archives: Davies

Monday, 2 March 1942


The report for Sergeant Thompson’s sortie to drop three agents is almost too short to appear worth recording. Thompson takes off in Whitley T4166 at 22.50, crosses the French coast near Abbeville, drops all his passengers successfully, and returns to base. End of story for Sergeant Thompson.

The three agents cannot be dispensed with so quickly.

TIGER is Roger Cerf, a Belgian upper-class twerp whose social ego is his downfall. As soon as he lands he just goes home to his parents and tells all his friends exactly what he is doing. His self-importance leads, unsurprisingly, to his almost immediate arrest. Despite some heavy aristocratic lobbying on the young man’s behalf, the Germans shoot him in August 1942.

COLLIE is Philippe de Liedekerke, a 27-year-old engineer, the son of a count. Intended to work with Cerf, he separates from his unreliable partner almost as soon as he lands. Somehow he has kept enough about himself back from Cerf for the Germans to be unable to find him. His mission is to contact the various existing organisations in Belgium, such as the Legion Belge, and ascertain their loyalties and intentions. COLLIE is highly successful. Not only does he return to London with one of the legion’s leaders, Charles Claser, he returns to Belgium twice more on clandestine operations. He is awarded the Military Cross; after the war he becomes a distinguished diplomat.

Jacques van Horen (or van Hoven) is TERRIER. He is dropped into deep snow somewhere south-west of Marche-en-Famenne, not far from where the Abbé Jourdain had been dropped in July the previous year. So far I have been unable to find out where the other two agents are dropped. The brevity of the ORB entry about this sortie might lead one to believe that the agents were dropped together, but in ‘SOE in the Low Countries’, MRD Foot appeared unaware that TERRIER had been dropped from the same aircraft as TIGER and COLLIE.

Van Horen is intended to be a wireless-operator for Jean Pierre Absil, who was still in France and inactive thanks to a warning from Maurice Simon, a Section D agent whose circumstances had forced him to become a Gestapo agent. He takes up his pre-war occupation and lived with his parents; on finding out that Absil’s replacement was in prison, van Horen plans an escape: the hour-long W/T conversation leads to his arrest and severe interrogation. Placed in St Gilles prison in Brussels, he learns that Cerf is two cells along, but the occupant of the intermediate cell is a stool-pigeon. Somehow van Horen survives the war.


This is a container-drop to André Fonck, the wireless-operator for OUTCAST (Jean Nicolas Léon Maus). Sergeant Peterson crosses the French coast south of Abbeville at 5,000 feet, and drops to 2,500 feet on his route towards Sedan. His only description of the target is that he flies between woods to the aiming point. After an hour circling the area he sees a white torch carried by a man, who presumably gives the correct Morse signal to persuade Peterson to drop the six containers, which he does in one pass. (The Whitley’s observer (or the pilot) can drop them all at once by selecting ‘Salvo’ on the control panel.) Peterson then returns to base, landing at 23.30.

Both agents have broken one of SOE’s cardinal rules, to stay away from one’s family. They have each returned home, Maus to his wife near Namur, Fonck to his parents at Grapfontaine. Perhaps Fonck disposes of the container casings by donating them as raw materials for his father’s forge. Fonck always transmits from home, and ‘la goniométrie’ gets him on 2 May. Maus is picked up, only indirectly through Fonck, on 13 May, and is tried and shot less than two months later. Fonck survives the war — just — as a slave labourer in Sachsenhausen, Auschwitz and Buchenwald.


S/Ldr Davies, DFC, has a more successful attempt at dropping the two SIS agents that Sgt Peterson had attempted to drop on 28 January. (The 138 Squadron Summary identifies it as an SIS operation.) Several other SIS operations for northern France appear on the same Air Transport Form (ATF): MORRIS/COWLEY, BEAUFORT, BOON and BURR, about which nothing is known.

Davies takes off at 18.56 in Whitley Z9230 and flies via Tangmere to the French coast north of the Somme estuary. Half-way to Douai he drops down to 800 feet over the pinpoint, which is ‘clearly visible’. The agents are dropped and Davies returns to base and lands at 00.22.

Davies and his crew will be shot down in the same Whitley on 29 July, by a night-fighter over Holland while approaching the LETTUCE target. All are killed. Freddie Clark was sure this was linked to ‘der Englandspiel’.



138 Squadron ORB
MRD Foot: SOEILC, pp. 279-83 (TERRIER), 285-6 (TIGER, COLLIE)


138 Squadron Ops Summary
ATFs for Jan-Feb ’42.
MRD Foot, SOEILC, pp. 265-6
Freddie Clark, ABM, p. 80


138 Squadron ORB,
138 Squadron Ops Summary

Wednesday, 25 February 1942

The February-March moon-period starts with one sortie to Norway, two to Holland, and a Polish Air Force sortie to Poland.

Operation CATARRH

F/Lt Davies flies an operation to drop two containers to Thjis Taconis, who had parachuted in November with his wireless operator, Hubertus Lauwers. Taking off at 20.59, Davies encounters nothing but cloud beneath him, so he abandons the operation and returns, landing at 01.20.

Operation CARROT

P/O Smith has no more luck with the weather than F/Lt Davies. Taking off at 21.08, he flies via Southwold, past the offshore island of Vlieland, then across the Zuidersee to Zwolle. The crew is unable to distinguish detail on the ground beneath due to cloud, and so the operation is abandoned. They return by the same route, and land fifteen minutes behind F/Lt Davies.

Operation COLLAR

This an altogether more ambitious sortie, to Poland, with F/Sgt Pieniszek noted as the Captain of Halifax L9618. Like the others, he runs into continuous cloud along the route which persists until he is in the target area. He therefore abandons. He encounters heavy flak over Stettin (now the Polish city of Szczecin), Kiel and Sylt, but no searchlights. He lands back at Stradishall at 06.25.

It cannot be overstressed how hazardous it was for these Polish crews flying over Germany to their homeland. If shot down and captured, not only would their own lives be forfeit, but those of their families in Poland.


At 0950 a warning order is issued: ‘Clairvoyant “on” tonight’. At 11.00 plans are made for two 138 Squadron aircraft to use Lakenheath, which has longer runways for a fully-fuelled Halifax. They plan to arrive there at 13.00.

At 18.57 S/Ldr Hockey takes off from Lakenheath in his Halifax L9613 ‘V’ for the Kjosnesfjord, inland from the west coast of Norway. But the target area was obscured by 10/10ths cloud and in freezing conditions it was only prudent to abandon the operation. They return to Stradishall, landing at 03.26.

Operation CLAIRVOYANT appears to have been a large programme intended to sabotage power supplies, targeting the water-pipes that supplied the hydro-electric stations. It appears to have never been carried out.

Newmarket: 161 Squadron

At 14.58 Stradishall Ops is warned by Newmarket that at 19.45 S/Ldr Murphy is to take off from RAF Newmarket in an Anson, letter “L”. It is routed via Abingdon to Tangmere, aiming to land there an hour later. Murphy actually takes off at 20.07, landing at 21.35.


Newmarket: 161 Squadron

TNA AIR 14/2530 Stradishall Ops Officers’ logbook