207 SQUADRON ROYAL AIR FORCE HISTORY
90th Anniversary Flying
Milestone birthday for RAF Linton-on-Ouse Squadron
(based on RAF Linton on Ouse Press Release)
One of the RAF's most famous units is celebrating its 90th birthday. 207 Squadron which is now based at RAF Linton-on-Ouse began life in the Royal Naval Air Service being formed in November 1916 under the guise of number 7 Squadron. Its name changed upon joining the RAF which formed in 1918.
Among events to mark the anniversary, the squadron flew three of its Tucanos on a cross country mission, paying an aerial salute to its former airfields.
During the First World War 207 Squadron flew night bombing raids. According to records it operated "nearly every night, only the most adverse weather conditions keeping them grounded." In 1917 it played a conspicuous part in the battle of Ypres.
In the Second World War 207 was equipped with Manchester bombers before converting to Lancasters in 1942. A member of Number 5 Group, its flights were often 10 hours long - even longer on 'shuttle service' flights to North Africa. The Squadron flew a total of 540 operations during which it lost more than 870 airmen. It was awarded 7 Distinguished Service Orders, 115 Distinguished Flying Crosses and 92 Distinguished Flying medals.
O-Orange,a 207 Squadron Lancaster bomber at a Wings for Victory fund raising
campaign in London's Trafalgar Square in 1943
In the 1950s it was one of the foremost V bomber Squadrons and again saw action during the Suez crisis of 1956.
Joining in the celebrations was 84 year old Frank Pollard from nearby Newton-on-Ouse. Mr Pollard served as 207 Squadron Navigator flying Lancaster bombers out of Spilsby, Lincolnshire from 1944 until the end of the war in Europe.
He says that crews relied on each other completely, that's how they coped with daunting missions, and added "We all believed that nothing would happen to us. It was a job that had to be done, its as simple as that really. Comradeship was what saw us through it all."
By the time Mr Pollard joined 207 Squadron, navigation aids and tactics had become quite sophisticated. He said "Lancasters were equipped with the new H2S radar which was excellent. Unfortunately the Germans were able to home in on its transmissions so we were only able to use it on mine laying operations off Norway. "
"Our main navigation aids were GEE and Loran beacons which gave a positional read out on a cathode ray tube display. As the navigator I would transfer that reading to a special chart and then with another position line, calculated mentally, could fix our position quite accurately. We were able to reach turning points within 2 minutes of our ETA using this method."
"Our captain was called Tiger Rowell and he had a superstition that our allocated aircraft 'M for Mike' could not get lost with its own crew on board. One night in 1945 we were tasked with mine laying in the Oslo fjord but there wasn't enough time to change the bomb load so we took a different one. Ours was taken by another crew on a mission to the Dortmund Ems canal but didn't return. Tiger thought this confirmed his belief."
84 year old Frank Pollard from Newton-on-Ouse, a 207 Squadron Navigator during WWII, rejoined his old Squadron for its 90th birthday celebrations at RAF Linton-on-Ouse. Picture: Matt Clark
To further mark 207 Squadron's remarkable history, a veterans reunion is also planned.
Tucanos of 207 Squadron return to RAF Linton-on-Ouse following a cross country mission
paying an aerial salute to its former airfields.
09.59hrs Spilsby, [East Kirkby - included as this was Spilsby's wartime HQ Station and many 207 memorial trees and an extensive 207 photo display are there], Marham, Methwold, Mildenhall, Tuddenham, Stradishall, [Duxford - included as it happened to be more or less en route], Cranfield, Cottesmore, Langar, Bottesford, Waddington, and 11.20hrs Linton-on-Ouse. It is reported that those at Bottesford, Cranfield and Langar had better viewing than those at Spilsby airfield. More information and photos when received. Many thanks to the Squadron, for whom it was also a tribute to all who have served on the Squadron, remembering especially Wg Cdr Russ Jeffs AFC whose memorial service was on 2 November.
Many happy returns: Sqn Ldr Jack Christen the present Commanding Officer of 207 Squadron is joined
at RAF Linton-on-Ouse by former member, Lancaster Navigator Frank Pollard,
to celebrate his Squadron's 90th birthday. Picture: Matt Clark
Frank Pollard rejoined his old Squadron for its 90th birthday
celebrations at RAF Linton-on-Ouse. Picture: Matt Clark
Milestone. Sqn Ldr Jack Christen the present Commanding Officer of 207 Squadron which is now
based at RAF Linton-on-Ouse celebrates his Squadron's 90th birthday. Picture: Matt Clark
Dining in Night 1 June 2007 to celebrate last year's 90th Anniversary of the Squadron
page last updated 5 Jun 2007