Robert Wareing's memoir



Robert Wareing's memoir


Second version of a brief Resumé of Initial Flying Training and operational experiences on 106 Squadron, led by Wing Commander Bob Allen DSO with sorties against the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau Battleships in the Port of Brest. Slight amendment to last paragraph,




Two page printed document


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SWareingR86325v10026, SWareingR86325v10027


In the autumn and Winter of 1938/39 we observed from the airfield boundary at Scampton, Hampden bombers landing at night using, in those days the “chance light”, which lit up the landing path when the aircraft was on the last part of the landing approach.

I thought at the time, how great it would be to handle one of these massive machines. So I joined the R.A.F.,V.R., and on 26th February, 1939 had my first flying experience in a Miles Magister initial training aircraft at Waltham, near Grimsby. It was a most exhilarating. [sic]

On the declaration of war on 3rd September, 1939 the R.A.F.,V.R., was called up for service and I was despatched to No.4 Initial Training Wing at Bexhill on Sea.

Further initial flying training was carried out at Perth and Prestwick in Scotland, followed by a period of the Advanced Training School at Sealand, Cheshire.

In July 1940 I was posted to No 14 Operational Training Unit at Cottesmore where I could now, after some further training on Ansons, be able to fly the Hampden with which I was so impressed in 1938/39.

Owing to restricted cockpit space it was not possible to have the usual duel [sic] instruction. So one went through the necessary instructions in a Hampden jacked up in a hanger with a compressor motor to activate the hydraulic systems to operate the landing gear, flaps etc.

After having done a few exercises in the hanger one was allotted an aircraft with an instructor to oversee the engines being started and the final preparations made for take off.

So finally the engines were opened up and the Hampden was eased off the ground into the air. It felt great to be airborne on a particularly fine day, being August 18th 1940.

After becoming more familiar with the aircraft “dusk and dark landings” were undertaken. Take offs and landings were carried out by “pounding the circuit”, and as the light faded and it became dark, one was then night flying.

At the beginning of November 1940 I was posted to 106 Squadron, then based at Finningly, as an operational pilot. Our first tasks were low level mining operations termed “Gardening”, at Brest, the Elb, Keil and Lorient.

[page break]


on 23rd February, 1941, the Squadron moved to Coningsby which was a new airfield just opened up, near to Boston, Lincs. The operations of the Squadron now concentrated on sorties to Germany including the Rhur area.

On 4th April 1941 a low level attack was made at night against the battleships Sharnhorst and Gneisenau during a brief break in the high level bombing at the port of Brest. I had my aircraft damaged after a second attempt and I was really surprised to receive an award of the Distinguished Flying Cross which was the first decoration received by a member of 106 Squadron.

Formation bombing was practised with our Squadron Commander, Wing Commander Bob Allen, for a daylight sorties [sic] with fighter escort against the battleships at Brest. Unfortunately the three squadrons which took part suffered heavy losses.

On 12th August, 1941 a similar sortie was carried out against the Gosnay Power Station.

Wing Commander Bob Allen was a great inspiration to the crews and he was decorated with the Distinguished Service Order in August 1941.

On 3rd September, 1941, having completed my first operational tour I was posted to 14 O.T.U. Cottesmore as an operational pilot instructor and was awarded a bar to my D.F.C.

1940/41 was a period of experimental or pioneering work for the heavier onslaughts [sic] built up with the Lancaster aircraft later.

I trustvthat [sic] the foregoing gives a brief idea of the events which led up to me becoming a member of 106 Squadron, which had some excellent personnel in those days.


Robert Wareing



R Wareing, “Robert Wareing's memoir,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 12, 2024,

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