RAF Transport Command / 617 Squadron query

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by Val P, May 30, 2024.

  1. Val P

    Val P Active Member

    I'm doing some research about a friend's father and trying to work out who he was with and where - roughly (until the family send off for his papers).

    Jack Cecil Barrett 576666, joined the RAF 1939 at age 16, trained at RAF Halton as a 'Brat', then a blank until 1947 when he travelled to the US on a 1 month (welcome/publicity/thank you tour) with 617 Squadron Bomber Command (I wonder if he was with them since 1943). Jack was a Service Engineer for instrumentation in cockpits (so why would he be on that visit).

    In 1951 he was Sergeant and I think with Transport Command based in Bushey (?). In c1951/53 he was in Egypt, before completing his time with the RAF. Why Egypt?

    If anyone can help with any part of this that would be great, thank you!
    Last edited: May 30, 2024
  2. Val P

    Val P Active Member

    Also, any idea what this is? In a box and says RAF Ronington.

    Attached Files:

  3. P-Squared

    P-Squared Well-Known Member

    Are you sure it's 'Ronington' and not 'Honington'? RAF Honington is in Suffolk - USAAF during the war, but handed back to the RAF in 1946 and was Transport Command until 1949, then transferred to Bomber Command.
    If 617 Sqn took aircraft out to the States in 1947 (which would be entirely reasonable), they would also take maintenance personnel.
    The RAF had a presence in Egypt post-war. This from the Wikipedia article on RAF Fayid: 'After the immediate postwar rundown of RAF units in the Mediterranean, RAF Fayid became the home of No. 13 Squadron RAF flying Mosquitos. Later it was joined by No. 39 Squadron RAF, with night fighter Mosquitos, and No. 208 Squadron RAF with fighter-reconnaissance Spitfire XVIIIs. By 1952 it was the main transport staging post in the Canal Zone and also had five Valetta (MRT) Squadrons inc. 70, 78, 114 and 216. Along with the other RAF stations in Egypt, it was evacuated by April 1956.' [My emboldening]
    RAF Transport Command was formed during the war, but I don't quite understand the reference to Bushey. RAF Bushey Hall (on the site of the now defunct Bushey Hall Golf Club, near Watford) was established during the war as a USAAF facility (HQ to the 8th Air Force's Fighter Command). The HQ was closed in 1955. It's possible that your friend's father was stationed there as part of an RAF support or liaison element, I guess?
    Last edited: May 30, 2024
  4. Val P

    Val P Active Member

    My mistake, yes, Honington. Ah, that all makes sense. Why would he be in Egypt around 1952?
    Thank you!
  5. Val P

    Val P Active Member

    This is brilliant, thank you very much indeed.
  6. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    617 did undertake a goodwill tour of Canada & the USA July - Sept 1947. They took 16 Lincoln B.2 out. They performed a fly past at Andrews Air Force Base, Washington DC on 26 Sept 1947, the day the USAAF became the USAF.

    Under the Anglo Egyptian Treaty of 1936, Britain ceased to occupy all of Egypt, but was entitled for the next 20 years to maintain a force of 10,000 personnel plus auxiliaries in a strip of land each side of the Suez Canal. Then WW2 changed things and Britain had a much greater influence on Egypt. Post war there were various renegotiations that culminated in the British withdrawal of all its forces from the Canal Zone in June 1956.

    Then there was the nationalisation of the Suez Canal by Nasser and that led to the Suez Crisis of 1956.
    Anglo-Egyptian treaty of 1936 - Wikipedia

    Post war there was a heavy bomber wing based in Egypt.

    Got to go now, but I'll try to dig out some info later
  7. Val P

    Val P Active Member

    Wow, thank you Ewen!
  8. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    The heavy bomber squadrons in the Middle East all disbanded or returned home around 1947.

    By the early 1950s, the period you are interested in, there were Meteor & Vampire fighters based in the Canal Zone along with the Transport Wing based at Fayid (70, 78, 84, 114 & 216 squadrons. 84 only became a transport squadron in Feb 1953).

    There were also a number of Maintenance Units in the Canal Zone until the British withdrew and to which your father's friend might have been attached.
  9. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Selected groundcrew would always accompany their squadrons on certain trips overseas. These might be goodwill trips or events such as bombing trophy competitions such as the Minot Trophy.

    As regards the Egyptian Canal Zone, the British foreign policy was that since the Suez Canal was a British / French asset, a permanent army contingent was permanently garrisoned there. However the 1936 Anglo / Egyptian Treaty forbad the permanent basing of RAF Bomber squadrons. The British government circumvented this by detaching and rotating Bomber squadrons, usually every 3 months to airfields within the zone such as Shaflufa. Groundcrews always were included in these operational detachments.

    The Treaty was for 20 years. When this date had been reached in August 1956, Egyptian Colonel Nasser who had deposed King Farouk in 1952, nationalised the Suez Canal which resulted in the British and French forces responding with Operation Musketeer in October / November 1956 to overcome Nasser and seize the canal. Egyptian Air Force Cairo airfields were attacked and their aircraft, ex Russian and ex RAF aircraft were largely destroyed on the ground by a Canberra force.

    After a short conflict, Operation Musketeer was abandoned after US political intervention, Eisenhower advised the British and French to withdraw which was complied with. During the conflict Nasser purposely blocked the canal with wrecked shipping ensuring that the canal was unnavigable for some time.
  10. Val P

    Val P Active Member

    Thank you everyone for your time and effort in answering my question. You have given me a wealth of information and I'm very grateful!
  11. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  12. Val P

    Val P Active Member

  13. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    From 2003 service in the Canal Zone 1951 - 1954 qualified RAF service personel for the General Service Medal, or extra bar to an existing GSM.
    Untitled Document


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