About 77 Squadron Association
We exist to keep alive the memory of 77 Squadron Royal Air Force, all who served in it and especially those killed in action.
The Association is open to all, and especially welcome are those who are related to, or are friends of former members of the squadron.
Like all other WWII organisations, we are increasingly and inevitably losing our veterans. It is all the more important therefore that we pass on their experiences and sacrifices made by their comrades. We are one of the few active wartime squadron associations as we are proud to say that the interest from descendants and from the general public is increasing rather than diminishing as we embrace the digital era.
After the war, surviving personnel continued to meet for social occasions for a time. Later, 77 was largely ‘a forgotten squadron’ after it was disbanded in the 60s. It was not until the 1980s that a formal association was founded when the Yorkshire Air Museum began at Elvington, one of our wartime bases.
Dedicated to keeping the squadron memory alive for future generations, the veterans in the association created three memorials: a 77 Squadron History Room at the Yorkshire Air Museum; a Squadron Memorial at the main gate of the museum; a beautiful memorial window in Holy Trinity Church in Elvington village. There is a framed Roll of Honour in the History Room and two books whose pages are turned regularly: one in Elvington church and the other in the Yorkshire Air Museum Memorial chapel.
Current members include veterans and their relatives and others determined to continue their legacy and honour their achievements. We publish a bi-annual newsletter packed with news of veterans and events, historical articles, photographs, details of operations and letters from members. This can now be viewed online as well as in print format. We organise an annual reunion, maintain a Facebook page and this website.
We endeavour to answer queries from the operational records. This is free of charge for members, but require a donation from non-members for this service. Donations can be made directly online from the blue boxes on this website.
WEBSITE NAVIGATION: To read the squadron history, go to the History tab below the flags at the top of any page (not the on the picture or the graphics on this home page). From there you can go to different sections of our history. Enjoy reading!
President: William A. Foote DFC
Bill joined the Royal Air Force in October 1941, aged 18. He undertook flying training in Alberta, Canada and went on to fly Wellingtons and Halifaxes. As a pilot, he carried out 37 wartime operations, with the same crew, flying from Full Sutton in Yorkshire, between August 1944 and March 1945, flying 22 different Halifax MK111s. After the war ended he stayed in the Air Force as a Flying Instructor until leaving in 1946. Bill lives in Northumberland, just below the Scottish Border. His memories are online here.
Sadly, we have to report that our President passed away on the 29th December 2017.
Bill published his memoirs of his time in the RAF, entitled Me, the RAF and 77 Squadron.
Hon Treasurer and Membership Secretary: Van Wilson (daughter of Pilot Alan May, 77 Squadron); Webmaster: Rachel Semlyen (Founding Chairman of the Yorkshire Air Museum and former Elvington resident); Designer of Nickel newsletter: Alec Brown, (Friend of the Association); Andrew Brown (Friend and enthusiast); Canadian Representative: Bryan Naylor (great-nephew of Navigator Harold LeNoury, 77 Squadron).
You can contact us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org and on the contact page.
Membership: the annual subscription to obtain the Nickel magazine and other news is £5.00 a year (£10.00 for overseas). This, and donations, can be paid by cheque, standing order, or by PayPal. For more details, and for making a one-off donation please go to the Membership Page. Or go direct to the page from the blue box on the right.
77 Squadron, Royal Air Force
A brief history
(A fuller account is on the History pages reached from the History tab under the flags at the top of the page).
Formed 100 years ago, initially for the defence of Edinburgh in 1916, apart from a period on anti-submarine duties with Coastal Command in North Devon in 1941, the squadron was based in the countryside of North Yorkshire from 1938 to May 1945 as part of Bomber Command. Flying Armstrong Whitworth Whitleys, the squadron carried out the most sorties: 1,909, and lost the most aircraft: 107, with 285 casualties…more than any other squadron. This included a fateful night at Driffield when, with 102 Squadron, 12 aircraft were destroyed and 11 ground staff lost their lives in a Luftwaffe bombing raid. But its worst period was still to come.
In October 1942 the squadron was the first occupant of the newly-built RAF Elvington airbase. Here the crews had to re-train on the Handley Page Halifax. 14 airmen lost their lives in accidents before the squadron resumed operations in February 1943. During the following 18 months they carried out 3,692 sorties, lost 82 aircraft and a further 450 aircrew—more than half the squadron’s total fatalities in the whole war.
77 Squadron consisted of both regulars and volunteers who were supported by hundreds of ground crew and technical staff, both men and women. Amongst the aircrew were young men from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA. Operations included leaflet drops (code-named Nickels), mine-laying and petrol runs, as well as bombing raids. 77 handed Elvington over to the French squadrons in May 1944 and moved to Full Sutton.
In 1945 it transferred to Transport Command with Dakotas and hence to Mauripur, India, dropping supplies and bringing home prisoners of war from the Far East.
It took part in the Berlin Airlift in 1948 / 49 ferrying fuel to the citizens of Berlin stranded as a result of the Cold War blockade.
The squadron disbanded in 1963.
Approximately 1,800 aircrew served with the squadron in the 2nd World War
890 were killed in action and 4 died as prisoners of war
216 were captured, 20 successfully evaded
104 are buried in the UK and Ireland, 322 in Germany and the remainder in Belgium, Denmark, Holland, France and Poland
230 have no known grave and are commemorated at Runnymede
to Bomber Command
“All your operations were planned with great care and skill.
They were executed in the face of desperate opposition and appalling hazards, they made a decisive contribution to Germany’s final defeat.
The conduct of the operations demonstrated the fiery gallant spirit which animated your aircrews, and the high sense of duty of all ranks under your command. I believe that the massive achievements of Bomber Command will long be remembered as an example of duty nobly done.”
For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.