RAF 166 SQN - any records or pictures from WW2

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by Tobyjc, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. Tobyjc

    Tobyjc Member

    hi,
    I am wondering if any of you out there have much information on 166 SQN, RAF from WW2? My Grandfather was a Lancaster pilot in the SQN in 43/44 but unfortunately I never knew him as after surviving the war and immigrating to Australia he became estranged from the family.

    I don't have any of his records and would love to find out more about him and in particular the aircraft he flew, what sorties he flew, and any wartime pictures of him, his crew, post war postings etc. Post war I think he flew victors in the middle east for a bit as have found references of him piloting there, was posted to Australia testing the Vulcans and Blue Steel at woomera as well where he recovered one that went into a spin out of control...

    He was 168836 PO James Henry Catlin, DFC.

    I do know he was awarded his DFC on the Leipzig raid, 19/20 Feb 1944 after being attacked by 2 night fighters and flying his badly damaged Lancaster with wounded crew (LM 382 AS-Q) back to England and crash landing it at Manston airfield (all 7 crew were injured).

    Any help would be greatly appreciated, again in particular any pictures of him, his crew or the Lancaster LM382 AS-Q as well as of 166 SQN in general would be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers,

    Toby
     
  2. AlanW

    AlanW Senior Member

    Toby,
    I can give you all the information you need on your grandfather's time with 166sqdn, including a copy of the combat report for 19/20th Feb. If you would like to let me have your email address via a message, i'll get back to you. Meanwhile, here's the page from the ORB for the 19th Feb.
    Alan
     

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    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
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  3. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    RAF Manston being one of the three East coast dedicated emergency airfields for distressed aircraft,the others being Woodbridge in Suffolk and Carnaby near Bridlington.

    Postwar,P/O Catlin would have served in other squadrons....No 166 Squadron was disbanded in November 1945 He would have served on other squadrons prior to getting involved with the V Bomber Force the mid to late 1950s/early 1960s, assuming his service was continuous.

    All Vulcans squadrons had the Blue Steel role from 1966 using the Mark B.2 until 1969 when the weapon was withdraw and the nuclear deterrent role was passed to the RN submarine Polaris weapon.Blue Steel flight trials were conducted earlier using the B.1 Mark, the first squadron to be equipped with it was No 617 Squadron in February 1963.

    The first Victor squadron to be equipped with Blue Steel was No 139 Squadron in September 1963 followed by No 100 Squadron using the B.2 Mark.

    There are a number of Vulcan and Victor squadrons that P/O Catlin could have served on and this detail should be contained in his service record.....a point as regards overseas service,there were a number of detachments to the Middle East by the V Bomber Force....Akrotiri in Cyprus being a regular detachment.The Valiant saw service during the Suez crisis of October -November 1956,mounting operations against Egyptian targets so he could have been involved here.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
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  4. Blutto

    Blutto Plane mad

    Using "168836 PO James Henry Catlin, DFC" in a Google search brings up a few entries. Includes his promotion to F.O. in 1948 and an odd entry in 1953 that I don't understand. Also he gets a mention in the RAFCommands web site.
     
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  5. Tobyjc

    Tobyjc Member

    hi Alan,
    thanks for your reply, and that would be fantastic! greatly appreciated. I tried to message you but for some reason it would not let me ? can you send me one and then I will reply to it?

    I also found out that he was in 103 SQN where he did a few OPs before transferring to 166 SQN in SEP 43. There is a write up of the raid where he was awarded the DFC in a Lancaster book and it had a picture of him and his crew in front of a 103 SQN aircraft that he flew (ED905 PM-X), was a great find.

    thanks again for your help, really is appreciated

    Cheers,

    Toby
     
  6. Tobyjc

    Tobyjc Member

    That 1953 one is apparently when he reenlisted (has a new service number). My Nan said he did discharge but then reenlisted so looks like that was when he got back in.
     
  7. AlanW

    AlanW Senior Member

    The serial number 168836 would have been given to him on his Commission to P/O, to replace his enlistment number, which should be in L/G. His number on enlistment was 1320338, which points to him enlisting in Oxford in Nov 1940
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
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  8. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

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    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
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  9. Blutto

    Blutto Plane mad

    Now that I've had time to read it, it seems that if he re-enlisted he re-entered as a Flight Sergeant and this 1953 Gazette entry was his promotion to Pilot Officer.
     
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  10. AlanW

    AlanW Senior Member

    Have messaged you with my email. I can help you out with 103sqdn records as well.
     
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  11. Tobyjc

    Tobyjc Member

    Thanks for all the replies guys, greatly appreciated. I have found an article about a post war near fatal training accident when he was flying a Victor bomber doing testing in South Australia out of Woomera and RAAF Edinburgh, they managed to loose control of the aircraft and went into a spin, but they managed to deploy the parachute air brake which put the aircraft into a nose down profile and allowed them to regain control. This was the time they were testing the blue steel nuclear missiles out at the Woomera rocket range in outback South Australia. My Nan remembers this incident and said that he was quite upset about it as he said he did something to cause the loss of control and blamed himself for nearly killing the crew. They were very lucky to get away with it and she also said the military and government was not happy because the plane was carrying a blue steel missile at the time (without the nuclear warhead though) and they were supposed to be secret trials but the incident got into the papers and drew unwanted attention!
     

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  12. Blutto

    Blutto Plane mad

    Presumably the A V Roe Chief Pilot was there because they built the missile, even though it was a Handley Page aircraft.
     
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  13. barnsley

    barnsley Junior Member

    Here is a pic of Jim Catlin circa 1943/44.
     

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  14. Tobyjc

    Tobyjc Member

    hey that's great, where did you find that?
     
  15. barnsley

    barnsley Junior Member

    I am writing a reference book on 166 Squadron!
     
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  16. Tobyjc

    Tobyjc Member

    ohh that's great! Alan just provided me with scans of the SQNs ops logs, is awesome have seen all the raids my grandfather took part in, can see when he was promoted, what happened on each sortie, found an entry where he was attacked by a night fighter over Germany early in his tour and had to return on 3 engines as well as the last sortie he flew to Leipzig where again attacked by 2 fighters and returned to crash land - was awarded his DFC on that one and its recorded in the SQN logs!

    its amazing the info that's in there.
     
  17. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Hi Barnsley !
    I am very impressed and commend you for your obvious enthusiasm.
    Without any wish to rain on your parade I can't help wondering whether or not you have read Jim Wrights "On Wings of War" ?
    It takes a lot to shock me, but..................

    Best regards

    Ron
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2017
  18. barnsley

    barnsley Junior Member

    HI Ron, I have indeed read Jim Wrights book. In fact I contributed a number of the photographs and documents that appear in it. Best Wishes, B
     
  19. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Barnsley

    I'm impressed all the more because, as you've probably gathered by now, I rate the book very highly,

    Lot's of good wishes with your own forthcoming efforts and do let us know how you are getting on.

    Best regards

    Ron
     
  20. barnsley

    barnsley Junior Member

    Thank you Ron. Yes Jim Wrights book is a classic. I was also fortunate enough to know two of the survivors from your brothers crew, Alf White and Ted Hull.
     

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