For the invasion of Normandy, No 2 R.A.F. Beach Squadron, consisting of Nos.103 and 104 Beach Flights, was assigned to the JUNO assault area where the 3rd Canadian Division Group led the assault on the beaches of the ‘Mike’ and ‘Nan’ sectors.
No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Squadron was originally formed as No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Unit which itself was created from Nos. 76 and 77 R.A.F. Beach Units.
Nos. 76 and 77 R.A.F. Beach Units
From their formation, on 26th May 1943 at No. 1 P.D.C. West Kirby, Nos. 76 and 77 R.A.F. Beach Units were under the command of Acting Wing Commander B. Armiger (31364), Equipment “X”.
W/Cdr Armiger’s H.Q. was to be located with No. 102 Army Beach Sub-Area and Nos. 76 and 77 Beach Units were intended to work with Nos. 7 and 8 Army Beach Groups.
In June 1943, Weapon and Field Training commenced, under the instruction of R.A.F. Regiment and Army N.C.O’s and nine airmen from the M.T. Sections attended a Waterproofing Course at R.A.F. Weeton where eight passed Class “A” and one passed Class “B”.
At the end of June an advance party of two officers and five other ranks left West Kirby to go to the Combined Training Centre, Dundonald Camp, near Troon, Ayrshire. There, in the first week of July, they attended the Cadre Course on Beach Organisation and Combined Operations at the adjacent Gailes Camp.
At the end of July 1943, Wing Commander Armiger and Colonel Brading, Commander of No. 102 Beach Sub-Area, went as observers to Exercise “JANTZEN” and W/Cdr Armiger submitted a report on the exercise to the Air Ministry (Director of Movements) at the beginning of August.
No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Unit
On the 17th August 1943, Nos. 76 and 77 R.A.F. Beach Units and W/Cdr Armiger’s Headquarters were reformed as No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Unit, comprising No. 103 R.A.F. Beach Section, No. 104 R.A.F. Beach Section and a Beach Unit Headquarters. R.A.F. Station Ayr became the Parent Unit.
On 19th August, No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Unit Headquarters moved with No. 102 Beach Sub-Area from Dundonald Camp to Lainshaw House, Stewarton Camp and then, in September all the units that were part of No. 102 Beach Sub-Area, including No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Unit, headed for the South of England.
No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Unit Headquarters was located with No. 102 Beach Sub-Area at Hilsea Barracks, Portsmouth while Nos. 103 and 104 Beach Sections were located with Nos. 7 and 8 Army Beach Groups in locations at Bournemouth and Winchester.
Flight Lieutenant R. A. Sandison (89024), Officer Commanding No. 103 Beach Section was appointed Acting Squadron Leader and Squadron Leader E. Towers (31297), Equipment, was posted from Air Ministry (Movements) and took over command of No. 104 Beach Section.
Flight Lieutenant G. Blair (43852), A. & S. D. was posted from No. 6 Balloon Centre to become the Adjutant of No. 2 Beach Unit.
In October 1943 Flight Lieutenant F.D. Hynes (31446), Equipment was posted in from Maintenance Command to replace Flight Lieutenant P.M. Gilmore who, having been classed as medically unfit for Beach Unit duties, was posted supernumerary to R.A.F. Station. Tangmere.
No. 2 Beach Unit took part in Exercise “PIRATE” in the second half of October, during which landings took place in Studland Bay.
Pilot Officer (Acting Flight Lieutenant) W.H. Morris (140999) was sent to the Marine Hotel, Troon, Ayrshire for a Beach Organisation Course.
At the end of the month No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Unit Headquarters moved with H.Q. No. 102 Beach Sub-Area to Mudeford, Nr Christchurch, Hants.
At the beginning of November 1943, Flying Officer G.W. Smart (105831) was posted supernumerary to R.A.F. Station Tangmere on medical grounds. Tangmere had now become the Parent Unit for No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Unit. At the end of the month Flight Lieutenant P.M. Butler (79864), Equipment was posted from No. 35 M.U. and three more officers (S/Ldr E. Towers, F/Lt G. Blair and F/Lt F.D. Hynes) went to Troon for the Beach Organisation Course.
In December 1943 the parent station for No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Unit was changed from Tangmere to R.A.F. Station Hurn.
Flight Lieutenant G.K. Mynett had become medically unfit for Beach Unit duties and was posted to No. 52 Base. Flight Lieutenant W.P.B. Cleary (75768), Equipment was posted in from there to replace him. William Peter Bruce Cleary was a New Zealander who had come to the U.K. to train as a pilot for the R.A.F. He didn't qualify as a pilot and instead became an officer in the Equipment Branch. He trained at R.A.F. Halton and served in the Middle East from the beginning of 1940 until Spring 1941 when he became ill, causing his return to the U.K. He had been promoted to Temporary Flight Lieutenant in 1942.1
Pilot Officer D. Woollacott (142970), Equipment “X”, was another new arrival, posted in from No. 3 Embarkation Unit. He was appointed Acting Flight Lieutenant.
In January 1944, two Beach Balloon Units from No. 958 Balloon Squadron were attached to No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Unit. No. 51 Beach Balloon Unit was to be located with No. 103 Beach Section and No. 52 Beach Balloon Unit with No. 104 Beach Section.
No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Unit Headquarters moved with Headquarters No. 102 Beach Sub-Area,from Mudeford to the Southcliffe and Brownswood Hotels, Bournemouth, on 25th January.
Flight Lieutenant Cleary, who had his 28th birthday on 19th January, went to Troon on 30th January to attend the two week Beach Organisation Course. On his return he joined the Petrol and Ammunition section personnel of Nos. 1, 2 and 4 Beach Units on attachment to No. 407 Air Ammunition Park for technical training. No. 407 A.A.P. was located at Burrswood, Groombridge, Kent.
On 1st February control of No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Unit passed from Air Ministry (Director of Movements) to 2nd Tactical Air Force. As a result R.A.F. Station Hurn ceased to be the parent station and the Unit was administered from Base Accounts Office, York.
Four Royal Australian Air Force Officers were attached from R.A.A.F. Overseas Headquarters fro liaison duties. These were S/Ldr R.D. Cooper, S/Ldr W.N. Pratt, F/Lt H.E. Clifton and F/Lt L.Kelton..
Wing Commander B. Armiger, the Officer Commanding No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Unit, was at Headquarters Second Army in London, from 23rd to 27th February. A “revised lay-out” for Nos. 103 and 104 Beach Sections was agreed upon. No 103 Beach Section would be responsible for all R.A.F. personnel and M.T. vehicles passing over the beaches in the 102 Beach Sub Area and No 104 Beach Section would be responsible for all R.A.F. Stores and Equipment landings. Stores included P.O.L. (Petrol, Oil and Lubricants) and ammunition.
On the day of W/Cdr Armiger’s return, the whole of No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Unit attended a rehearsal parade in Bournemouth that was inspected by General Keller, G.O.C., 3rd Canadian Division. The next day, 28th February 1944, General Sir Bernard Montgomery, G.O.C. in C. of 21st Army Group, inspected a full parade of No. 102 Beach Sub-Area with Nos. 7 and 8 Beach Groups and then addressed the men. All personnel of No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Unit attended.
Flying Officer J.A. Read (105823), Equipment “X”, medically unfit for Beach Unit duties, was posted to No. 8 Embarkation Unit, Glasgow on 6th March.
On 11th March, No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Unit Headquarters moved from the Southcliffe and Brownwood Hotels, Bournemouth to Bury Lodge, Hambledon, near Portsmouth, with H.Q. No. 102 Beach Sub-Area. The personnel of No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Unit were now living under canvas.
On 24th March, personnel of Nos. 103 and 104 Beach sections were interchanged to bring all the sub-sections to establishment according to new Beach group procedure and scales of signals equipment for the Beach Units were issued by Rear Headquarters, Second Tactical Air Force.
The whole of No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Unit was involved in Exercise ”GOLDBRAID” from 26th March to 31st March. This was a full scale exercise by 3rd Canadian Division at Bracklesham Bay, near Chichester, during which sections of No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Unit were visited by the Air Officer i/c Administration, 2nd Tactical Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal T.W. Elmhirst, C.B.E, A.F.C. and the Air Officer Administration, No. 83 Group, Air Commodore G.R. Montgomery together with the Air Ministry Establishments Committee.
No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Squadron
In April 1944, Rear H.Q. 2nd Tactical Air Force changed the titles of their beach units so that No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Unit became No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Squadron and Nos. 103 and 104 R.A.F. Beach Sections became Nos. 103 and 104 R.A.F. Beach Flights.
On 8th April orders for the reconnaissance and general layout of 102 Beach Sub-Area on D-Day were received. Marshalling commenced for Exercise “TROUSERS” to be held at Slapton Sands, south Devon and unit censorship began, the Unit Censor Stamp being No. 149.
Landings for Exercise “TROUSERS” were in progress on 12th April but visibility deteriorated and the remainder of the Exercise was cancelled, some personnel and vehicles of the Squadron returning by road convoy and the remainder by sea to Southampton. No. 46 Wireless Sets had been used for the first time by the Squadron’s sections and communications were “fairly good”.
On 14th April the Squadron adopted the closed address of “Army Post Office England” and the next day Flying Officer J.T. Pye (131264) Tech/Sigs, was posted from R.A.F. Chigwell, as Signals Officer.
On 17th April, six jeeps were collected from Rear Headquarters, Second Tactical Air Force and on the 19th April, F/Lt Blair, the Squadron’s Adjutant went to Rear Headquarters to collect secret and confidential publications..
A grant of £14.14.0 for the provision of sports gear was received from Rear H.Q. 2nd T.A.F.
On 24th April, an Air Information Unit consisting of two Canadian officers [Flight Lieutenant M. V. McClennan (C.10908) Photo Press, and Flying Officer S. G. Helleur (C.28814) P.R.O.] was attached to the Squadron “for Press duties on the Invasion”.
The Signals Section opened a Wireless Watch on 3165 k/cs and a Provost section consisting of a Sergeant and six Corporals were attached to No. 2 Beach Squadron from H.Q. 2nd T.A.F. for operational duties in the R.A.F. Assembly Area during the invasion.
Also on 24th April, rehearsal parades were held for an inspection by a “Distinguished Personage” and the parades were inspected by General Keller, General Officer Commanding, 3rd Canadian Division. The next day, at 11.45, His Majesty The King inspected the 3rd Canadian Division, 102 Beach Sub-Area and Nos. 7 and 8 Beach Groups at Hiltingbury Camp.
On 25th April, a Mr Williams from the Air Ministry visited Squadron Headquarters to advise the Signals Officer on the Collins W/T Set and 2nd Lieutenant J.I.W. Wittelshoefer (O.579698), American Liaison Officer was attached to the Squadron from Headquarters IX A.A.A.C. for liaison duties on the Continent.
The Beach Balloon Units that were located with the Beach Flights of No. 2 Beach Squadron had by now been renamed Beach Balloon Flights and formed into No. 974 R.A.F. Beach Balloon Squadron. Control of the Beach Balloon Squadrons was now passed from Headquarters, Balloon Command to Headquarters, 2nd Tactical Air Force and, for administrative purposes, No. 974 R.A.F. Beach Balloon Squadron was attached to No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Squadron. Squadron Leader A.E.L. Hill, Officer Commanding No. 974 R.A.F. Beach Balloon Squadron arrived from No. 12 Balloon Centre, Titchfield.
On 28th April briefing for Exercise “FABIUS III” commenced. All Camps were ‘sealed’ after briefing and no personnel permitted to be in communication with “unbriefed persons”. Marshalling for the exercise began in “C” Area on the 29th and embarkation for the exercise took place the next day.
Exercise “FABIUS III” commenced on 1st May at Bracklesham Bay, near Chichester. Several serials of the Squadron did not take part owing to Navy craft not being available. The weather deteriorated rapidly and several landings were cancelled. 25 vehicles under the command of Wing Commander Brown of No. 85 Group G.C.I. landed very early and on the wrong Sector. During 2nd and 3rd May the Exercise continued as far as the very bad weather conditions would permit and then on 4th May all units returned to their previous locations.
Back at Netley Common, on the 10th May a conference of all officers was held at Squadron Headquarters. The Commanding Officer gave final pre-briefing for Operation “OVERLORD” because the Squadron was soon to be split up and dispersed to various Concentration Areas.
Flying Officer J.T. Pye, Signals Officer, attended a conference at Main Headquarters, 2nd T.A.F. on 11th May, for reports on Exercise “FABIUS III”.
On 13th May General D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander, inspected Beach Groups and R.A.F. Beach Flights at Hiltingbury “A” Camp and the Prime Minister, Mr Winston Churchill, walked through Hiltingbury C6 Camp on a visit to the South Coast Marshalling Area.
With effect from 22nd May, seven additional M.T. Fitters were attached to the Squadron for the coming Operation. These were obtained through the Replacement Control Centre, Titchfield.
The Commanding Officer, Acting Wing Commander B. Armiger (who had just been promoted to the War Substantive rank of Squadron Leader), briefed all officers of the Squadron for Operation “OVERLORD” on 26th May, and on the 29th May he addressed all ranks of the Squadron in connection with the forthcoming Operation.
On 30th May marshalling for Operation “OVERLORD”, to Camps C2, C3, C5, C6, C7, C8, C9, S1, S3, S4 and S4J was in progress. Marshalling and embarkation continued from 1st to 4th June.
On 4th June information was received that D-Day had been postponed for 24 hours and then on 5th June 1944 No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Squadron was “sailing for FRANCE in the Assault Phase of the Invasion of the Continent.”
No. 2 Beach Squadron in Operation “OVERLORD”
No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Squadron were part of the assault forces for the JUNO area. H-Hour was 0720 hours on 6th June.
LCM 229 in which AC1 J.E. Smith (1378458), Motor Cyclist, was sailing, sank in mid-channel, believed to be caused by enemy action. Smith was picked up by a mine-sweeper and landed in the U.K. The airman was the driver of a Jeep carrying various items of equipment, including the camp kit of Squadron Leader A.E.L. Hill (Officer Commanding No. 974 R.A.F. Beach Balloon Squadron). The Jeep and its contents were lost.
No 104 Beach Flight started to land on NAN beach during the morning of D-Day and No 103 Beach Flight began landing on MIKE beach in the afternoon. (Follow the links to read what happened to the individual Flights)
Most personnel of No.2 Beach Squadron Headquarters, although phased for landing at H + 7, could not land and were compelled to stand offshore, awaiting instructions to beach. W/Cdr B. Armiger O.C., landed and set up Squadron H.Q. with 102 Beach Sub-Area at Courseulles. Contact was made by despatch rider (LAC Jennings) with S/Ldr Sandison, Officer Commanding 103 Beach Flight.
Around 2100 hours, an enemy bomb hit a Rhino Ferry beached on MIKE Red Beach. Wing Commander Gates, Balloons Staff Officer, and a few other R.A.F. personnel were seriously wounded. Enemy air activity during D-Day was fairly heavy but the bombing of the beaches was never really severe. Air Commodore Montgomery, A.O.A., No 83 Group landed in the evening. He was the Senior Royal Air Force Officer ashore on D-Day.
During the first night there were enemy air attacks, directed chiefly against the beaches and shipping.
Sometime after 1600 hours on 7th June, Squadron Headquarters personnel and vehicles landed and immediately occupied an orchard East of Courseulles (map ref T.974848) owned by E. Le Breton, 27 Rue Emile Heroult, Courseulles-sur-Mer,Calvados. The Headquarters personnel began digging out a Headquarters Operations Room, Administrative and Signals Offices and slit-trenches. By dusk, the Operations Room had been completed and the bivouac area was half-completed.
There were heavy air attacks during the second night, with anti-personnel bombs causing casualties in the Beach Maintenance Area. Mines were dropped amongst shipping.
Corporal A. Brookes (869570), a Balloon Operator of No 974 Beach Balloon Squadron was killed by a German mine which exploded while he was carrying out his balloon duties. His body could not be recovered immediately as the incident occurred in an extensive minefield.
46 tons of R.A.F stores were landed on 7th June.
At 5am on the 8th June, there was a low level bombing attack by the Germans causing eleven casualties in the area around No. 2 Beach Squadron Headquarters. However, all the Squadron Headquarters personnel were in slit trenches and suffered no casualties. There was also some machine-gunning from the enemy planes.
Pre-stocking of Nos. 1 and 2 Re-fuelling and Re-arming Strips started.
At 1400 hours, the Signals Section opened Wireless Watch on 3524 k/c’s.
During that day, 657 R.A.F personnel disembarked, 146 M.T. vehicles landed and 75 tons of R.A.F. stores were discharged.
On 9th June, Courseulles Basin came into use as a Port .
© IWM (A 24241)
Barges unloading at the East Quay of Courseulles harbour, a view from beside the lock gate.
This photograph by Professor J. D. Bernal, scientific adviser to Combined Operations Command
is from a sequence of photographs taken by the Special Observer Party between 7 and 9 June 1944.
LAC W.N. Edwards (654417), an M.T. Driver of No 974 Beach Balloon Squadron, who had been wounded in an enemy air attack was admitted to a Field Dressing Station and then evacuated to U.K.
Pre-stocking of B.4 Advanced Landing Ground at Beny sur Mer started. Assistance with this task was given by No 102 Beach Flight of No 1 Beach Squadron. Twelve D.U.K.W.’s were provided by No 50 General Transport Company for transportation direct from vessels to landing strip.
There was enemy air activity again that night but there were no major casualties to R.A.F. personnel.
The statistics for 9th June were, 418 R.A.F personnel disembarked, 72 M.T. vehicles landed and 88 tons of R.A.F. stores discharged.
No 3 R.A.F. Assembly Area was established on a new site at Tierceville on 10th June.
U.S. Aircraft DH-5 No.276297 crashed into the sea off St Aubin-sur-Mer. The body of John A. Weese (0.815792), United States Army Air Force, was recovered and buried in Grave No 8 of Berniers-sur-Mer White Beach Cemetery (map ref 7E/5. 998854). The officiating Chaplain was the Rev. Wm. E. Harrison, H/Capt., Canadian Army. The aircraft was recovered from the sea at low tide the next day and Headquarters, R.A.F. No 83 Group were informed so that salvage action could be taken.
The P47 aircraft of 2nd Lt J A Weese that crashed into the sea off St Aubin-sur-Mer on 10th June 1944. This photograph was taken 3 weeks after it was recovered from the sea and left at the top of the beach.
In the evening of 11th June, LAC L. Westwood (1184911), a Balloon Operator of No. 974 Beach Balloon Squadron, was wounded in the face and shoulders by an enemy mine. He was admitted to the Field Dressing Station and thence evacuated to U.K.
Pre-stocking of B.5 and B.6 Advanced Landing Ground’s (at le Fresne-Camilly and Coulombs) began on 15th June. It was decided by Headquarters No 83 Group that No. 2 Beach Squadron would now be responsible for the daily maintenance of B.4 (125 Wing) and B.5 (121 Wing).
A 40ft. R.A.F. Seaplane Tender (1544) arrived from Calshott for the use of No. 2 Beach Squadron and a landing section, comprising 1 Officer and 4 Other Ranks of No 3 Beach Squadron, also arrived from U.K. Unfortunately, the next day (16th June) one of the crew of the Seaplane Tender, Corporal W. Reece (1544387), M.B.C. sustained a fractured fibia through slipping on the deck of the Seaplane Tender in a rough sea. He was admitted to the Sick Bay of H.M.S. HILARY and subsequently evacuated to U.K.
No 12 Rue Vieux Lieux, Courselles, was requisitioned and occupied by No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Squadron.
On 17th June, Wing Commander J. Fearn, Senior Movements Staff Officer (Sea), Rear H.Q. Second Tactical Air Force, landed and proceeded to Headquarters No 83 Group.
On 20th June, the body of Corporal Brookes, the Balloon Operator killed on the 7th June, was at last recovered from the minefield and buried.
The weather became very bad and on 21st June the discharging of shipping was seriously hindered. This continued on the 22nd June and very little off-loading was possible. However, on 23rd June the weather had improved considerably and normal discharge from vessels was resumed. Enemy air attacks had been occurring most nights and that night bombs were dropped in the Beach Maintenance Area and among shipping.
At a conference held at No. 2 Beach Squadron Headquarters on 26th June, the Squadron C.O., the S.M.S.O. (Sea) H.Q. 2nd T.A.F., the C.O.s of No. 424 A.F.A.P., No. 407 A.F.A.P. and No. 89 Embarkation Unit, and Nos. 103 and 104 Beach Flight Commanders discussed plans for the takeover of the dumps by No. 424 A.F.A.P.
A Sick Quarters was set up at No. 2 Beach Squadron Headquarters on 28th June. It was under the command of Squadron Leader G.D. Elphick (72151) Medical, attached from H.Q. 125 Wing, together with 1 Corporal N/O and an ambulance.
The Officer Commanding No. 424 A.F.A.P. carried out a recce of the Beach Maintenance Area on 29th June and on 1st July all the Stores and Equipment Dumps were transferred to No. 424 A.F.A.P. - although No. 2 Beach Squadron personnel at the dump sites continued to work there.
Also on the 1st July, Pilot Officer A. R. Fullerton (172668) A. & S.D. (P.M.) and Provost personnel from No. 89 Embarkation Unit were attached to the Squadron for duty at No. 5 R.A.F. Assembly Area.
On 2nd July. Acting F/Lt Woollacott and ten Other Ranks from No. 104 Beach Flight were attached to No. 89 Embarkation Unit and the attachment of the Canadian Air Information Unit from R.C.A.F. Overseas Headquarters came to an end on the 4th July.
On 8th July the Squadron submitted a Consolidated Return to the S.M.S.O. (Sea) Rear H.Q. No. 83 Group, for the A.O.A. The Return was a summary up to D + 30, as follows -
Total personnel passed through Assembly Area
Total M.T vehicles passed through Assembly Area
Total M.T vehicles admitted to the D.V.P. -
Drowned in deep water
Drowned through faulty waterproofing
From the next day the Daily Stores Discharge Signal to BUCO EXFOR was no longer required.
Flight Lieutenant D. E. Foster was attached to No. 406 A.S.P. on the 9th July and on 13th July a letter of appreciation was received from Group Captain G. W. Houghton, Headquarters, A.E.A.F., in connection with the Public Relations Officers who had been attached to the Squadron for the invasion.
On 16th July Pilot Officer Fullerton and Provost personnel, attached to the Squadron since 1st July, returned to 89 Embarkation Unit.
103 Beach Flight was disbanded as a Flight on 17th July. The Flight’s sections came under the direct control of Squadron Headquarters and S/Ldr R. A. Sandison who had been 103 Beach Flight’s commander instead took on responsibility for the Squadrons Operations Room, dealing with everything concerning Shipping, Operational Returns, Loadings, Landings, Returns of Personnel, M.T., Stores and return of Personnel to the U.K.
Padre Betts (R.A.F) visited Squadron Headquarters on 19th July. On 22nd July, in addition to the regular nightly air raids, a pilot-less plane passed overhead, flying South and shells fell among the shipping at anchorage off Langrune.
On 23rd July No. 1 R.A.F. Gang Show gave two shows at Courseulles. Shelling and night time air raids continued.
On 31st July, nominal rolls of personnel for disposal or retention were forwarded to Rear Headquarters, No. 83 Group (Senior Movements Staff Officer, Sea) ).
A Voluntary Church Service and Communion took place at Squadron Headquarters on 2nd August. Squadron Leader E. H. Phair officiated.
On 5th August 42 160lb tents arrived from the U.K. by air transport under special Air Ministry authority. They were erected and occupied by Squadron personnel, principally as living quarters. All personnel were now able to sleep above ground. Since D-Day all ranks had been sleeping in slit trenches. (The slit trenches were still available when enemy air attacks or shelling became heavy!)
On 7th August, the four Royal Australian Air Force officers attached to the Squadron visited 89 Embarkation Unit for the day and, on 8th August, the attachment of 2nd lieutenant J .I. W. Wittelshoefer (0.579698) to the Squadron came to an end and he left for 45th M. R. and R. Squadron, U.S. Army.
Flying Officer (Acting Flight Lieutenant) N .A .J. Hepburn (124593) Equipment “X” was posted to No. 422 A.F.A.P. on 9th August and, on 10th August, control of No. 2 Beach Squadron passed from No. 83 Group to No. 85 Group.
12th August was the occasion for a visit to the Squadron by the top brass. The visiting party consisted of the following:
The Right Hon. Sir Archibald Sinclair, Bt., K.T., C.M.G., M.P. - Secretary of State for Air.
Group Captain Sir Louis L. Grieg, K.B.E., C.V.O. - Personal Air Secretary.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur W. Teddar, G.C.B. - Deputy Supreme Commander, A.E.F.
Air Marshal Sir Bertine E. Sutton, K.B.E., C.B., D.S.O., M.C. - Air Member for Personnel
Air Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham, K.C.B., D.S.C., M.C., D.F.C., A.F.C. - Air Marshal Commanding 2nd Tactical Air Force
Air Vice Marshal T. W. Elmhirst, C.B.E., A.F.C. - A.O.A. 2nd Tactical Air Force
Air Commodore S. Graham, M.C., G.M. - Director of Air Force Welfare.
S/Ldr E. N. Phair conducted another Voluntary Church Service at Squadron Headquarters on 13th August.
The 14th August 1944 was an eventful day for the Squadron. At 10.30 in the morning Wing Commander B. Armiger, the Squadron’s Commanding Officer addressed the whole Squadron, thanking all personnel for the good work performed during the assault and build-up phases of the invasion. Squadron Leader E. Towers (Commander of 104 Beach Flight) gave a reply and photographs of the Squadron personnel were taken. On the same day, R.A.F. Gang Show No. 5 gave two performances at the Beach Theatre in Courseulles and Wing Commander Armiger attended a conference at No. 89 Embarkation Unit in connection with the disbandment of No. 2 Beach Squadron and the personnel requirements of 89 Embarkation Unit.
At 2230 hours on the night of 14th August, information was received from Headquarters, No. 102 Beach Sub-Area that there was a risk of enemy wreckers dropping by parachute in the Courseulles area. A double guard was mounted at Squadron Headquarters from 2200 hours until 0600 hours. No incidents were reported during the night relating to that alert but, around 0130 hours there were enemy air attacks and heavy shelling.
Flight Lieutenant H. E. Clifton R.A.A.F. ceased his attachment to the Squadron on 15th August and returned to R.A.A.F. Headquarters in London.
No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Squadron had its Establishment cancelled on 16th August and the unit began to disband. The C.O. Wing Commander Armiger was posted to 89 Embarkation Unit as was S/Ldr Sandison. The remaining R.A.A.F. officers (S/Ldr R.D. Cooper, S/Ldr W.N.B. Pratt and F/Lt L. Kelton ceased their attachment and returned to to R.A.A.F. Headquarters , London.
On 23rd August, the Squadron’s Adjutant, F/Lt G. Blair was posted to 89 Embarkation Unit and on 26th August, posting instructions for the remaining officers and men of the Squadron were received. S/Ldr E. Towers; F/Lts F.D. Hynes and W.P.B. Cleary; F/O J.T. Pye; F/Os (Acting F/Lts) F. Binns, J.R. Alcock and D.E. Foster left for the B.P.C in the U.K. The attachment of Acting F/Lt Woollacott to No. 89 Embarkation Unit became a permanent posting.
On 2nd September the Sick Quarters Room closed down. S/Ldr G.D. Elphick’s attachment came to an end and he went to No. 8 R.A.F. General Hospital.
On 6th September 1944, the JUNO beaches were closed and the disbandment of No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Squadron was finally complete, with all records being transferred to No. 89 R.A.F. Embarkation Unit.
The main source of information on this page is:
The Operations Record Book of No. 2 Beach Unit (Later) No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Squadron including Nos. 76 and 77 Beach Units, May 1943 - Sep 1944 - found in, ‘Air Ministry and Ministry of Defence: Operations Record Books, Miscellaneous Units’ AIR 29/438 at The National Archives
Additional references are as follows:
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