207 SQUADRON IN 1939

This cartoon, by an unknown artist , shows some of the officers of the Squadron in the Autumn of 1939. The Editor is grateful to Bill Angell (who provided the original cartoon) Rex Wheeldon, Douglas Wilson and especially Neil Wheeler, for digging into their memories of those depicted.

Tom Bingham-Hall survived the War, reaching the rank of Group Captain DSO DFC in Bomber Command. He retired from the Service in 1962 and settled in Australia, where he died.
'Sandy' Lane also survived the War and reached the rank of Group Captain in Bomber Command. He left the Service after the War and ran a London pub (possibly the Grosvenor Arms in the West End) for many years.
'Felix' Wilson got married just after the outbreak of War, which he is believed not to have survived.
Bob (or Bill) Baxter is recalled as a charming and gentle dilettante, a product of Harrow School and every inch a gentleman. The War would have been distasteful to him. Rex Wheeldon recalls that he and Baxter were posted to a Communications Squadron that was forming at Andover (81 Sqn).

Not long afterwards Baxter was driving his car one night when he saw two lights coming towards him. Thinking they were cyclists he told his passenger that he would give them a fright by driving between them. Alas, it was a large vehicle on side lights! He is believed to have been lost whilst still on Battles.
'Lew' (Lewis Lee) Johnston was then 'A' Flight Commander whose opposite number in 'B' Flight was Sqn Ldr Layton. Lew survived the War and left the Service to seek a career with the RAAF. However, he returned to the RAF and retired as a Wing Commander.
Henry Hayden Hazzard was a strange young man from New Zealand (hence the lamb). He joined the Squadron at Cottesmore and married the daughter of the local vicar, the Reverend Guilford. It was thought that he did not survive the War but he is not listed on the CWGC database..
'Tosis' Halliday had a most unkind nickname as he certainly did not suffer from bad breath (though Pluto Angell recalls that Tosis was fond of eating onions). He was an ex-London policeman and a great member of the Squadron but is thought not to have survived the War.
'Bertie' Hoare's Best Man was Neil (Nebby) Wheeler and Bertie was the godfather of Nebby's daughter. Some time around the outbreak of War he was flying in a Battle from Cranfield with Douglas Wilson. He was hit by a loose engine cowling which greatly damaged his face, taking an eye out of its socket. How he got the aircraft back - a hairy landing - was just incredible. After about six months in hospital it was discovered that the damaged eye had unusual night vision.

He went on to Intruder Operations in Bostons and then Mosquitos, collecting a number of DSOs and DFCs. He ended the War as Station Commander of Little Snoring in Norfolk. Alas, he was killed with his navigator when the Mosquito which they were delivering to New Zealand crashed in the Gulf of Carpentaria in N.Australia. [TE746 crashed into the Gulf of Carpentaria on March 26 1947 with the loss of both crew (W/C B.R. Hoare and F/O W. Colvin RAF). Wreckage was found at Sydney Island. It is believed that the crew flew into the sea while trying to identify their location after their radio went u/s.]

[Hoare, Bertie Rex O'Bryen is credited with 9 victories on 23 and 605 Sqns]

Collins was always called 'Sheepshead' for some unknown reason. He was a delightful, very cheerful chap and is believed to have been lost on Stirlings in Bomber Command.
HE 'Pluto' Angell, known nowadays as Bill, is a Canadian. He wrote of his time with 207 in the 75th Anniversary Commemorative Supplement and this is the basis of the home page of this section. Bill moved from 207 to Bomber Command Staff. This was followed by two and a half years in Canada on the staff of 31 General Reconnaissance School (Charlottestown, Prince Edward Island).

His attempts to get back on operations resulted in a posting as a Flight Commander to 196 Squadron on 25 October 1943 at Witchford. 196 flew Stirlings, though they were later withdrawn from the bombing role. Within a short while 196 Sqn was part of Harris's transfer of Stirling and Halifax squadrons in support of the Airborne Forces role, and so became part of 38 Group. Bill was promoted to Wing Commander, and was posted as OC 295 Squadron, still flying Stirlings. He took part in Special Duties ops, glider work and re-supply. Post-war he flew in the Berlin Airlift.

Bill retired from the Service in 1971 as a Wing Commander DFC and went to work for London University at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory at Holmbury St.Mary. He was Chairman of the 38 Group Association and President of 261 (Guildford) ATC Sqn and Guildford RAFA. Wg Cdr Henry Ellis Angell DFC RAF(Retd) died on 5th December 2010.
Neil (Nebby) Wheeler joined the Squadron in July 1937 at Worthy Down when it was equipped with Fairey Gordons. He became Adjutant in September 1937, taking over from Sandy Lane. In turn he handed over to Tom Bingham-Hall in September 1938. He became a Flight Commander at Cranfield in October 1939 after Bertie Hoare's accident.

The Squadron had moved to Cranfield on 26th August 1939 but returned to Cottesmore on 9th December 1939 after the surface at Cranfield had become a quagmire. He was also a Flight Commander in 12 OTU at Benson, into which the Squadron was absorbed in April 1940.

From late 1940 to early 1942 he was with the PRU at Heston, by which time he was Squadron Commander. A serious accident as a passenger in a car meant a period in a Staff job in the Directorate of Naval Co-operation at Air Ministry. In November 1942 he took command of the North Coates Strike Wing, leading 236 Squadron (Beaufighters). Following a Staff Course in August 1943 he was told he could not return to operations and was sent to the US Command & General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth; Cabinet Office jobs followed.

Post-war appointments included OC Kuala Lumpur and Marham (1951, when 207 were there on Washingtons), Assistant Commandant Cranwell (1957), OC Laarbuch (1959), ADC to HM The Queen (1957-61), Commander Far East Air Force (1969-70), Air Chief Marshal and Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff 1972 (David Dick was one of his AVMs). Nebby retired as Air Chief Marshal Sir Neil Wheeler GCB CBE DSO DFC* AFC FRAeS in January 1976. He has also been a Director of Rolls Royce and a non-executive director of Flight Refuelling. In 1999 he provided the foreword to the History of 207 Squadron, Always Prepared by John Hamlin.

At the time of the cartoon Gp Capt Douglas Wilson was a non-commissioned WOp/AG; Sqn Ldr Rex Wheeldon AFC was a Sgt Pilot. All were sad to hear of the death of their contemporary Fred Rummery (Flight Rigger) in November 1993.

last updates 30 Aug 2005: 26 Dec 13