207 SQUADRON ROYAL AIR FORCE HISTORY
THE ANGELL COLLECTION
207 Squadron was based at Worthy Down, Hampshire from August 1936 until it moved to Cottesmore in April 1938: it was briefly at Cranfield (August 1939) before returning to Cottesmore in December 1939: it was absorbed into 12 OTU at Benson in April 1940.
HE 'Pluto' Angell, in later life known as Bill, was a pilot with 207 Squadron from April 1937 to August 1939. He wrote:
The Squadron commenced conversion from Fairey Gordons to Wellesleys on or about the beginning of September 1937 - my conversion was ten minutes as a passenger because there were no dual control aircraft.
1938 was a year of great operational change for 207 Squadron. Although we were based at RAF Worthy Down near Winchester, the year started with a deployment to West Freugh near Stranraer for an Armament Practice Camp on our recently acquired Vickers Wellesleys. On return to base we were told to prepare for a change of station and by early May we had duly moved to RAF Cottesmore.
From my recollection Cottesmore was a newly constructed station and almost the only permanent buildings were the hangars - the various Messes and accommodation units were in temporary wooden huts. On May 3rd 1938 British Movietone News filmed a line up of 207 and 35 Sqn's Fairey Battles. We started conversion to the Battle on about May 12th. One exercise I can remember quite well was intended to demonstrate the Battle's ceiling. I recorded 24,000 ft in a total flight time of 1hr 15min, which at the time was quite an achievement. British Movietone News again visited us on July 26th 1938 and we obliged with flying and other demonstrations.
Cottesmore was not a particularly comfortable station at that time. The Ram Jam Inn at Stretton on the Great North Road was the focal point of a great deal of our social life. The Great North Road was also part of our flying, with its double line of telegraph poles, unique at the time I believe. For us this was a Navigational Landmark, especially when returning from the Firing Area in the Wash in poor visibility - we knew that at least we had not overshot Cottesmore and, that with a bit of 'Bradshawing', we could map-read our way back to base!
In August 1939 the Squadron was on deployment to Practice Camp at Evanton when the threat of war caused it to return to Cottesmore on August 18th. I was posted to HQ Bomber Command as a Staff Officer on the day that war broke out. In June 1940 I was posted to Benson (12 OTU which had absorbed 207) for refresher flying on Battles prior to posting to the Advanced Air Striking Force. The AASF, or what was left of it, returned to the UK before I completed that refresher flying.
Bill died on 5th December 2010: for more on his life please click Celebration link.