Friesland wartime history     by Willem de Jong                  

Friesland  Wartime  History

Texel & Den Helder









Leeuwarden Area


Harlingen & Harderwijk

Occupied Harlingen

Shipdham Airfield




St. Jacobparochie

Rottum Island


Sink the Scharnhorst!

Runnymede Memorial




Deanweb - the Forest of Dean Directo 

101 Squadron



The squadron was reformed in March 1928 at RAF Bircham Newton as a day bomber squadron.

In 1938 the squadron was equipped with the Bristol Blenheim and it was with these that it made its first bombing attack on Germany in July 1940.

In May 1941 101 changed to a medium-bomber squadron, equipped with the Vickers Wellington, and in September paid its first visit to Italy and successfully bombed Turin.

In May and June 1942, it took part in the 1,000-bomber raids on Cologne, Essen and Bremen. The Wellingtons were replaced in October 1942 with the Avro Lancaster and, before the year ended, paid four more visits to Turin.

On the night of 17/18th August 1943, 20 of the squadron's Lancasters took part in the epic raid on Peenemunde and, despite a lively night-fighter defence, all the aircraft got back safely.

In October 1943 101 Squadron Lancasters were equipped with a top secret radio jamming system codenamed "Airborne Cigar" (ABC).

It was usually operated by an eighth crew member who could understand German. Some with German or Jewish backgrounds were known as "special operators".

They sat in a curtained off area towards the rear of the aircraft and located and jammed German fighter controllers broadcasts, occasionally posing as controllers to spread disinformation.

The aircraft fitted with the system were distinctive due to the two large vertical antennae rising from the middle of the fuselage. Deliberately breaking the standing operating procedure of radio silence to conduct the jamming made the aircraft highly vulnerable to being tracked and attacked. As a consequence 101 Squadron had the highest casualty rate of any RAF squadron.

On the night of 5/6th June 1944 it sent up 21 Lancasters solely to jam enemy wireless communications in order to prevent enemy night-fighters being directed against the airborne invasion forces.

In late April 1945, came the last of 101 Squadron's offensive missions during World War 2 with an attack on Hitler's Berchtesgaden.

West Raynham : May 1939-June 1940

RAF Manston on loan to Fighter Command Apr-May 1940.

Oakington : June 1940-Feb 1942

Bourn : Feb 1942-Aug 1942

Stradishall : Aug 1942-Sep 1942

Holme-on-Spalding Moor : Sep 1942-June 1943

Ludford Magna : June 1943 - 1945



Lancaster ED373 of 101 Squadron took off from RAF Ludford Magna on the night of 25th June 1943, detailed to bomb Gelsenkirchen, Germany. It was the crew's tenth overseas operation together.

Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base.

From May 4th they had carried out their previous nine missions together in Lancaster W4324 but on this occasion it was unavailable.

On one operation to Bochum on May 13th, in that aircraft, they had a lucky escape, limping home after being coned by searchlights, and receiving flak damage that disabled the hydraulics, mid-upper turret, and starboard inner engine.


RAAF Flt/Sgt I W Banks, Captain (Pilot)

RAF Sgt N S Mould, (Flight Engineer)

RAF Sgt H J Toze, (Navigator)

RAF Sgt T G Brook, (Air Bomber)

RAF Sgt J H W Snowdon, (Wireless Operator)

RAF Sgt G V Branson, (Mid Upper Gunner)

RAF Sgt R Pugh, (Rear Gunner)


At 02.51 on the morning of the 26th June1943 their aircraft, Lancaster ED373, was shot down, and crashed into the sea off the Dutch coast, close to shore near Zandvoort.

With one engine out of action, it had been coned by searchlights, and then attacked and set on fire by a nightfighter piloted by Ofw. Karl-Heinz Scherfling. 

Only the bomb aimer, Sgt.T. G. Brook, who was the first to leave the aircraft, and was carried towards the shore by the wind, survived.

Six bodies, one unidentifiable (believed to be Ronnie Pugh), were washed up on the beach at Zaandvoort. They are now buried in the New Eastern Cemetery Amsterdam. The aircraft lies some distance offshore buried in an area of shifting sandbanks.

Sgt. Pugh has no known grave and his name is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing at Runnymede.

RAAF Flight Sergeant Ivan William Banks 405803, known to his family as Billy, the pilot of ED373, was the 20 year old adopted son of Alice Banks (1878-1958) then living at Toowomba, Queensland.

Born at Perth, Western Australia, on 21st October 1922, he had been adopted by his grandmother.

Before enlisting in the RAAF he and 71 year old Alice were living with his birth mother Myrtle Williamson, at Toowomba.

Billy Banks was employed for two years as a clerk with the Harrison Printing Company of Toowomba. His record shows membership of the Army cadets for two years.

He appears to have had a girl-friend in Sydney as he named Miss H Gilbert of 67 Avenue Road, Mossman, as one of those to be contacted in the event of his death.

Enlisting at Brisbane on June 20th 1941 he was trained as an air-crew pilot, and after completing his courses on 2nd April 1942, was soon posted to the UK.

Embarking at Sydney on 16th May 1942, Billy arrived in the UK on August 15th.

More pilot's training followed with the No.11 Pilots Advanced Flying Unit, based at RAF Shawbury, in Shropshire, before being posted for air-crew training with 81 Operational Training Unit at Whitchurch Heath, also in Shropshire, on 19th November.

His final period of training was with his newly formed crew at 1656 Heavy Conversion Unit based at RAF Lindolme near Doncaster, Yorkshire, from 20th March till his posting to 101 Squadron on 28th of April 1943.

His first overseas mission with 101 Squadron was as 2nd pilot in Lancaster W4888 on 30th April. Its experienced captain was Flying Officer Nicholas Stanford. That aircraft, together with six of its crew,was lost on its next op' on May 4th.

See our account of the loss of W4888 at the bottom of page 26

Billy's first 101 Squadron operation with his own crew was a trip to Dortmund on May 4th.

During the following 7 weeks they returned to bomb enemy territory on eight occasions.

As described above, he lost his life, with five of his crewmates, on June 25th 1943 and is buried in the New Eastern Cemetery at Amsterdam.

His adoptive mother, Alice (1870-1958), was the widow of William Henry Banks (1873-1908) who she had married in Melbourne. Their first child, William, was born at Footscray in 1897.

The family moved to Western Australia around 1900 where William Henry was employed as a labourer on the State's water works.

William Henry Banks tragically died in 1908, leaving her with five young children, William Banks 1897–1916, Dorothy Alice Maud Banks 1902–1994, Rose Olive Banks 1903–1993, Myrtle Hazel Banks 1905–1973, and Mavis Edith Banks 1907–1910. 

Their youngest child, Mavis, died during a typhoid epidemic in 1910.

Alice's family were first visited by Mormon missionaries at North Perth during 1913, and in February 1915 she and her three daughters were baptised into the faith.

In July 1915, her only son William, who had been working as a farm labourer, enlisted in the 16th Battalion of the AIF. After training as a signaller he was posted overseas and arrived in Marseilles, France, with the troopship 'Canada' on June 9th 1916.

Pte William Henry Banks was one of the 16th Battalion's much needed reinforcements following their 1915 losses at Gallipoli.

For the Western Australians, 8 August 1916 must have come as something of a shock. It was the first time the battalion had been in action since it had been evacuated from Gallipoli on 18–19 December 1915.

They had been one of the original Gallipoli battalions, landing on the evening of 25 April, and during their eight months on the peninsula had suffered 834 casualties, killed and wounded.

Now, in as many days at Mouquet Farm, Pozieres, they were to lose 76 percent of the Gallipoli total – 637 killed, wounded or missing (most likely killed), virtually two thirds of the battalion, according to their historian.

At midnight on 9 August the 16th made its first attack on the Western Front out in the countryside below Mouquet Farm.

Across no–man’s–land they were guided by flash lights embedded by the scouts in earth with a different coloured light for each company.

All battalion objectives were successfully seized including a number of German machine–guns and their crews.

Next day, German retaliation was swift, a bombardment such as the 16th had never experienced on Gallipoli descending on the captured positions and on the afternoon of 11 August, a German counter attack began.

The 16th beat this off but the ensuing enemy bombardment fell heavily on battalion positions.

All told, these first Western Front actions cost the 16th Battalion thirty–six dead and 364 wounded and missing.

William Banks died on 12th August 1916 but unfortunately his body was not found and  identified at the time.

The AIF Memorial at Mouquet Farm, and William's memorial at Kings Park, Perth.


His death was later confirmed by an eye witness at an enquiry in April 1917, but it was not till 1936 that his body was officially identified from a dog tag when the grave of an unknown soldier was exhumed prior to it being moved to Pozieres Cemetery.

At home in Perth, two of his teenage sisters, Dorothy and Rose, had committed themselves wholeheartedly to the LDS faith and were determined one day to move to Salt Lake City.

We know little about his other sister, Myrtle (1905-1973), except that at Perth in 1922 the unmarried 17 year old gave birth to Ivan (Billy).  He was then adopted by her mother, Alice.

At some point Myrtle moved to Sydney and worked as a book-binder. In 1931 she married  a farmer, James Williamson, and settled in Toowoomba, Queensland.

Her sisters, Dorothy and Rose, sailed to America in 1926.

Rose Olive Banks (1903-1993) married an LDS High Priest, Claudius Tolman, at Salt Lake City in December 1926. He had served as a missionary in Australia. Two years later Dorothy Alice Banks (1902-1994), married Rulon Swen Stromberg (1900-1981), a Grantsville, Utah resident who had also been a missionary in Australia (1924-1926) and returned home on the same ship as Dorothy & Rose.

Passenger records of the 'SS Sierra' show that in November 1929, Alice, and 7 year old Billy, visited her daughters at Salt Lake City and stayed with Rose at Honeyville.

In 1955 the sisters returned to Australia for a 2 month vacation and visited the family.

Their mother, Alice, died at Perth in December 1958.


1297129 RAF Sergeant Norman Stanley Mould, the flight engineer on ED373, was the 19 year old son of Charles William Mould (1879-1945) and Annie Cooper (1882-1964) who were married at Havant, Hampshire in 1902 when Charles was serving as a sailor.

Charles and Annie had three sons, Jack (1906-1937), Montague (1903) and Norman (1924-1943).

When Charles left the Navy the couple settled in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, and Norman was born there in 1924.

He is buried at Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery in Grave 18, Row B, Plot 69 and is also remembered on the war memorial at St. Saviour's Churchyard, Tetbury, where his parents, and brother Jack, are buried.


The mid-upper gunner on ED373 was RAF Sergeant Geoffrey Victor Branson the 20 year old son of Albert Victor Branson (b1904) and Violet Hill (b1908), both from the West Bromwich area of Birmingham, who were married there in 1922.

Albert was the son of a Handsworth postman, and Violet the daughter of an iron-worker who lived and worked in Guns Village where parts for fire-arms were manufactured.

When Geoffrey enlisted in the RAF his family were living in Wallington, Surrey, ten miles from Central London.

He is buried at Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery, Plot 69. Row B. Coll. grave 18.


The navigator, Sergeant Harold James Toze, was the 22 year old son of cotton-worker James Toze (1883-1940), and Julia Mary Pearce (1877-1967), who were married at Bury in 1912.

Julia, who was from Shardlow in Derbyshire, was the widow of Henry Kerry who she had married in 1903, but who died in 1905.

The couple had three children, Florence (1913-1978), Harold (1921-1943) and Edward (1923-1987). Their father,James Toze, died at Walkden in 1940.

RAF Sergeant Harold Toze married Doris Smith at Chowbent Unitarian Chapel, Atherton, in 1942. Their son Michael Barry Toze's birth was registered at Leigh, Lancashire, in early 1943.

Harold is buried with his crewmates at Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery, and is remembered on Atherton's war memorial.


RAF Sergeant John Henry William Snowdon 1037458, the wireless operator, was the 20 year old son of John Henry Snowdon and Margaret Ord, who were married at Middlesbrough in 1919.

The couple had four children, Ronald (1920), John (1923), Sheila (1927), and Rowna (1929), and lived at Grove Hill in the Clairville ward of Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire.

John is buried at New Eastern Cemetery, Amsterdam, coll. grave 69.B.18.


The rear gunner, RAF 1317561 Sergeant Ronald (Ronnie) Pugh, was the 27 year old son of coal-miner Isaac Collwyn Pugh (1892-1987) and Elizabeth Ann Benjamin (1896-1974) from Abercynon in Glamorganshire, who were married in 1915.

The couple had three children, Trevor (1915-1984), Ronald (1916-1943), and Marjorie (1917-2009).

Ronnie's body was not identified at the time of the crash, but is believed to be buried as an 'unknown airman' next to his crewmates at Amsterdam.

He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, a few miles from Windsor Castle, and is believed to be also remembered on Abercynon's War Memorial.







Willem's Introduction


Ameland in war-time


Texel  & Den Helder 


Friesland War-time Crashes


Ameland,166 & 75 Sqdn.




Friesland Cemeteries


Ameland Graves


Destroy the Scharnhorst!


Leeuwarden area




Destroy the Scharnhorst! 2


Wirdum Remembers


Terschelling 2


Destroy the Scharnhorst! 3




Sage War Cemetery


12 Squadron in World War 2


Schiermonnikoog  part 2


RAF Topcliffe & 424 Sqdn.


The Runnymede Memorial




Vlieland Cemetery


Vuren at war


Kallenkote Cemetery




Makkum Cemetery


Wartime Harlingen


Hampden AE 428, & Koudum


A fatal collision?


RCAF 428 Ghost Squadron


Willem's War-time photos


Hudson & Ventura losses


Zwolle's ' De Groene ' group


Shipdham Airfield & the 44th


Hudson & Ventura losses


408 Squadron's Leipzig raid


68th Squadron's Casualties


101 Squadron


Friesland radar


Rottum Island


Lancasters DS776  & JA921


Bergen General Cemetery

















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