Combined Operations Badge (embroidered cotton)
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104 Beach Flight

This unit began as No. 77 R.A.F. Beach Unit and then became 104 Beach Section before finally being renamed as 104 Beach Flight . No. 104 R.A.F. Beach Flight was part of No. 2 R.A.F. Beach Squadron.

104 Beach Flight in Operation “Overlord”

No 104 R.A.F. Beach Flight were with No. 8 Beach Group and the 8th Canadian Brigade, landing on NAN Beach in the JUNO assault area. Most of the Flight landed on 6th June, with personnel divided between various Serials landing at 0845, 1015, 1400 and 1800 hours on D-Day.

    When the R.A.F.L.O. and Landing Section of No 104 Beach Flight landed, fighting was still going on around strongpoints on the Beach and in the village of BERNIERES and near surroundings. A Landing Section Headquarters was established as soon as possible. On landing the L.C.I. carrying Sgt Sherlow and LAC Hey hit a submerged “element C” and the explosion damaged one of the gangways, but no personnel were injured.

    The P.O.L. Section of No 104 Beach Flight made only very progress through BERNIERES as enemy sniping was encountered both on the Beach and through the village. There was a hold-up South of the village due to an enemy strongpoint and the fact that the enemy was still in possession of the proposed P.O.L area. Soon after 1400 hours, the P.O.L. area was recced and found to be inside a signed enemy mine-field. Flails or mine detectors were not available and on the assumption that enemy mines were most likely to be Anti-Tank mines and would probably not explode under the weight of a man and it was decided to open up one side of the area.

    The Ammunition Section were held up for a short time on arrival at their area by a battle for a strongpoint held by the enemy. When the position was taken, they established their Site although it was under mortar and shell fire during the afternoon and evening.

    No 104 Beach Flight Headquarters was established at Map Reference 997853 and contact was made with the Sections. In view of the small quantity of R.A.F. Stores expected, it was decided to site the R.A.F. Stores Dump within the Ammunition Area. S/Ldr E. Towers, O.C. 104 Beach Flight landed and set up Flight Headquarters.

During the night of 7th June, No 104 Beach Flight was turned out and manned weapon slits on a report that enemy paratroops were landing nearby. Many shots were fired from all directions and it was difficult to locate any enemy fire. A loaded ammunition vehicle was hit by a bomb and several other vehicles caught fire.

In the morning of 8th June further personnel of No 104 Beach Flight landed. This party was originally phased to land D Day H + 9 but were kept on board.

On 10th June the NAN Beaches were reorganised so that NAN Green Beach was dedicated to the landing of Personnel and Vehicles and NAN White Beach was to be used for Stores.

The enemy shelled the Ammunition area without causing damage or casualties.

On 12th June, R.A.F. Jeep No 154780 allotted to No 104 Beach Flight Landing Officer disappeared from the Beach, apparently stolen.

A shell mine was discovered on P.O.L. Site No. 3. The device did not detonate because the percussion cap was not properly in place. The Royal Engineers were called in and further mines were discovered on the same site, behind stacked fuel. P.O.L. Site No. 3 was temporarily closed but, the next day a D.U.K.W. was blown up by a mine on the same site and a soldier was killed.

Around 8pm on the 13th June, the enemy shelled the Ammunition Area and the P.O.L. Area but did not cause much damage or casualties and there was enemy air activity that night directed against the Beaches and shipping.

On 14th June Royal Engineers began mine clearance on the P.O.L. Site. They eventually found the pattern of the minefield and started to remove the many mines discovered.

On 17th June, Sgt H. Sherlow (1017863), Equipment Assistant, injured his back whilst on board a Coaster supervising R.A.F. Stores. He was admitted to the F.D.S. and evacuated to the U.K.

On 19th June the enemy fired nine shells into the 8 Beach Group area. They were believed to be 120 lb shells from a 17 cm gun and killed one Army Other Rank and wounded three others. The bodies of two German airmen were washed up on NAN beach on the 26th June. They were buried by the the Army Beach Group Chaplain and their effects were forwarded to the Intelligence Office, No. 83 Group (Main).

At the start of July, one Officer and 10 Other Ranks of No. 104 Beach Flight were attached to No. 89 Embarkation Unit and then on 10th July, after the C.O. of the Flight, Squadron Leader E. Towers had done a recce, one Sergeant, one Corporal and one Aircraftman from the Flight formed a Landing Section to take over beach duties from N0. 101 Beach Flight of No. 1 Beach Squadron at Petit Enfer.

14th July was Bastille Day and No. 104 Beach Flight and No. 52  Balloon Flight attended a church service and procession organised by the Mayor of St-Aubin-sur-Mer. A parade of 50 airmen from the two Flights laid a wreath at the Military Cemetry. This was said to be a very good turn-out which favourably impressed the civilians.

At 21.45 on 17th July a pilot, 1390541 Sgt. Standish, baled out from his aircraft into the sea at map ref. 010855. After medical attention he was billeted with No. 104 Beach Flight until evacuation to the U.K.

Each afternoon and evening from 26th to 29th July there was shelling at Petit Enfer. There were 19 casualties at the Beach there and in the Transhipment Area but none of them were R.A.F.

In the early hours of 15th August there were enemy air attacks and heavy shelling. The M.T. Light Recovery Section of 104 Beach Flight lost two 3 tonners and two 160 lb tents but there were no casualties.

From the next day, 16th August, No. 2 Beach Squadron was disbanding and the C.O. of 104 Beach Flight, S/Ldr E. Towers was one of the officers who returned to the U.K on 26th August when the remaining personnel received their posting instructions.

 

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 - Set 1944 - found in, ‘Air Ministry and Ministry of Defence: Operations Record Books, Miscellaneous Units’ AIR 29/438 at The National Archives.

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Copyright © J.M.Fenton, 2007-2011

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