Notes on 21 Squadron and Dennis Denton's crew



Notes on 21 Squadron and Dennis Denton's crew


Notes written by Wilf Clutton in early 1950's


Temporal Coverage




Two typewritten pages


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MDentonDH1256316-200114-010001, MDentonDH1256316-200114-010002


[underlined] 21 SQUADRON
PERSONAL [/underlined]
Date of joining Squadron June 1942.
Date of leaving October 1943.
[underlined] Crew [/underlined] Pilot Sgt. I. Bellis
Navigator Sgt. E. Pennell
W/OP Under Gunner Sgt. W.J. Clutton
Turret Gunner Sgt. D. Denton
[underlined] Squadron Principals [/underlined]
June 1942 W/CR Pritchard
June 1942 S/LDR P. Shand
July 1942 S/LDR R. King
Sept 1942 F/LT D. Dennis
Jan 1943 S/LDR Blome-Jones
July 1943 S/LDR D. Dennis
July 1943 W/CDR R. King (shot down at Abbeville)
[underlined] Bases [/underlined]
June 1942 Bodney, Norfolk.
November 1942 Methwold, Norfolk.
1st April 1943 Oulton, Norfolk.
19th August 1943 Hartford Bridge, Surrey. (now Black Bushe)
October 1943 Conversion to Mosquitoes. Pilots and Navigators to Sculthorpe? W/OPS and Gunners to West Raynham
[underlined] Aircraft. [/underlined]
June 1942 to July 1942 Blenheims (No ops. during this period except for 2 or 3 A.S. Rescues)
July 1942 to October 1943 Venturas (Day bombing only)
October 1943 to ? Mosquitoes.
In June 1943, it was rumoured we were to convert to Mitchells. Two Mitchells arrived. All crews made at least one flight. All members of a Canadian Crew, except for Rear Gunner, were killed on take off in one of these aircraft – Pilot forgot to unlock one of the controls and hit a Ventura in dispersal.
[page break]
[underlined] GENERAL [/underlined]
The fore-going has been just a brief resume of activities from June 1942 to October 1943. It was without a doubt, my happiest period during six years service. Co-operation and comradeship between Air and Ground crews could not have been better. We suffered quite a number of losses. Of the original crews at Bodney only three or four crews remained when the squadron converted to Mosquitoes. Upon reflection I can only remember S/Ldr. Dennis and crew and ourselves at that time. One incident worth recording concerns a raid on Zeebrugge [underlined] No Flak No Fighters. [/underlined] We were no. three to P/O Pratt when upon diving away from the target his aircraft side slipped into ours. His wing caught ours and immediately crumpled. His tail fins then hit us underneath. We received only minor damage but the last we saw of Pratt’s aircraft was hitting the sea off Zeebrugge – an unforgettable memory. But perhaps the most hectic trip, and an example of super leadership by S/Ldr. Dennis, was an attack on Abbeville. Twelve aircraft took part (2 boxes of 6) – we were no. 3 on the S/Ldr. in the first box of 6. Upon reaching the French Coast our Box was attacked by a Squadron of German Fighters (FW 190’s I believe). They were immediately engaged by our Spitfire escort and a ding-dong air fight began. We weaved all over the sky but kept on course. Before we reached the target, another attack on our Box was made and our no. 6 was shot down. Our bombing run commenced at the same time as another attack. Naturally it was “steady, steady” all the way until “bombs away”. No. 4 was hit by cannon shells and her nose burst into flame. It was a nerve racking period made more so by the fact that no. 4 did not go down immediately but remained in formation – a flying torch and still bombed up. However, down she went as we let the bombs go. It was a direct hit. We made for home being attacked all the way to the coast. In the last attack our no. 2 was shot down leaving 3 out of 6. At interrogation it appeared abvious [sic] that all the attacks were directed at the leading 6. The 2nd box got away scot-free. There was no doubt that but for the leadership of S/Ldr. Dennis, it might have been a lot worse and we did get through to the target and hit it. Shortly afterwards S/Ldr. Dennis received the D.S.O.
I am unable to give any information about 21 as a Mosquito Squadron except that my pilot Bellis received the D.F.C. and that Navigator Pennell was hit by a cannon shell whist [sic] on a low level and had to have his leg amputated. Denton and I were together for a second tour with 226 Squadron.
To conclude Bellis, Denton and I eventually aspired to the rank of Flight Lieutenant. Pennell, of course, was discharged from the Service. To the best of my knowledge, all are alive and kicking.



Wilf Clutton, “Notes on 21 Squadron and Dennis Denton's crew,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed October 4, 2023,

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