By Roy Conyers Nesbit
Roy Nesbit's hugely illustrated background of Coastal Command's 217 Squadron - the squadron during which he served - offers a first-hand perception into the dangerous low-level missions the squadron flew opposed to enemy transport and ports through the moment international warfare. He chronicles the squadron's operations from the outbreak of warfare while it patrolled in Avro Ansons over the Western techniques to the English Channel. Then got here the main severe interval of its wartime occupation while, flying Beauforts, it targeting minelaying and assaults on delivery alongside the west coast of German-occupied France. It additionally fastened bold raids on large U-boat bunkers and different enemy installations. the tale of those risky operations, within which many airplane have been misplaced and airmen have been killed, makes up the main memorable component of the narrative. yet Roy Nesbit takes the squadron's tale all through to the later years of the struggle while, after a quick or even extra risky interval flying from Malta in an effort to sink enemy delivery within the Mediterranean, it used to be established in Ceylon and was once re-equipped with Beaufighters for the conflict opposed to the japanese. as well as telling the tale of the squadron and the boys who served in it, the narrative describes the stipulations persevered by means of the French humans within the ports 217 attacked, and it covers the raids introduced opposed to German coastal bases after the squadron had moved to the a long way East. An Expendable Squadron can be soaking up studying for somebody who has a different curiosity within the heritage of Coastal Command, within the plane 217 Squadron flew, and within the event of strive against flying seventy years in the past.
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Additional resources for An Expendable Squadron : The Story of 217 Squadron, Coastal Command, 1939-1945
The squadron also implemented the RAF’s new regulation of increasing the ranks of all junior NCO aircrews to that of sergeant, a change which was beneficial to many of the wireless operators and air gunners. The Battle of Britain had begun in the skies about England and, although 217 Squadron was still operating with Ansons, it was expected to assume a more aggressive role. This became evident in daylight near Guernsey on 11 July when Sergeant Nelson H. Webb shot down a Heinkel He 59 floatplane with Red Cross markings.
The only manoeuvre which caused the Germans any major problem occurred three days later when Colonel Charles de Gaulle led three battalions of tanks round the rear of their forces in the region of Laon, about sixty miles north-east of Paris, and inflicted heavy casualties. These tanks had to retreat when bombed from the air, but the action vindicated de Gaulle’s belief that this war would not be fought by opposing static lines but A Panzerkampfwagen IIIE tank, together with German soldiers, on arrival in front of the church in the Saint-Pierre-Quilbignon district of Brest.
Three days later, Wing Commander Guy A. Bolland arrived at RAF St Eval to take over command of 217 Squadron. He was a very capable and popular officer, commissioned in 1931 and with experience of various squadrons at home and abroad. He had also commanded a Coastal Command station. In his own words, he rated the Ansons as ‘quite useless in any wartime role except a limited antisubmarine patrol to protect shipping’. To increase their defensive capability, he had each fitted with a Vickers K machine-gun in a waist position.