Having spent most of its wartime career in the Middle East, No. 127 Squadron was moved to the UK in 1944 in preparation for the invasion of the Continent. The unit re-assembled at North Weald on 23 April 1944. It received a fresh complement of Spitfires Mk. IX and new squadron code letters 9N instead of the previous EJ.
Operations with Spitfire fighter-bomber missions began on 19 May. Following the invasion in France, the Squadron moved to France in August 1944. Together with other fighter-bomber units of the 2nd Tactical Air Force, it followed through France to the Low Countries. It was disbanded at Twente airfield in the Netherlands just before the end of the hostilities in Europe, on 30 April 1945.
Servicing a Spitfire of No. 127 Squadron at B.60 Grimbergen, December 1944
[Andy Ingham coll.]
Supermarine Spitfire Mk. XVI, SM179 9N-T ‘Lady Jane’
F/Lt Peter Hillwood
The Netherlands, winter 1944-1945
Click to enlarge
Spitfire Mk. XVI SM179 was built by Vickers Armstrong at Castle Bromwich and was delivered to No. 9 Maintenance Unit on 19 October 1944. It was officially taken on strength by No. 127 Squadron on 9 November 1944. The first time it was used operationally was on 11 November 1944 when it was flown by Flight Lieutenant Howard Truscott on a mission to escort bombers to Oldenzaal, Holland. Unfortunately he had to return early due to radio telephone failure.
Later on, SM179 became the personal aircraft of Flight Lieutenant Peter Hillwood DFC and was named Lady Jane. It continued to be used by the squadron until it was finally damaged in an accident on 11 April 1945. While landing at B.85 Schijndel, SM179 collided with another Spitfire, TD144 flown by Flight Lieutenant Parish. The pilot of SM179, Sergeant Emrys Williams was unhurt in the incident. Following the incident, the aircraft was transferred to 420 Repair and Salvage Unit where it was classified Category E and subsequently scrapped.
Supermarine Spitfire Mk. XVI, TB900 9N-F ”Winston Churchill’
The Netherlands, April 1945
Click to enlarge
This low-back Spitfire Mk. XVI TB900 was built by Vickers Armstrong at Castle Bromwich and was delivered to 9 Maintenance Unit on 17 March 1945. It was a presentation aircraft and was funded by an unknown donor. It was given the name Winston Churchill in honour of the Prime Minister. Officially taken on strength by No. 127 Squadron on 12 April 1945, it was first flown in the unit on 15 April 1945 by the British pilot, Warrant Officer Larry Hyland on a sector reconnaissance.
First operational mission took place on 16 April 1945, when it was flown by the Flight Sergeant Norman Simpson on an armed reconnaissance over Northern Holland. It was subsequently used on 21 operational missions flown by various pilots (F/Sgt Simpson, F/O Savage, F/Lt Parish, F/O Robinson, Sgt Williams and F/Lt Feltham.) The last time TB900 was used operationally by 127 Squadron was on the last mission undertaken, when it was flown by F/O Leslie Keith Savage on an armed reconnaissance north of Bremen.
Subsequently TB900 was taken on strength by 349 (Belgian) Squadron. On 14 March 1946 it was taken on charge by No. 135 Wing Headquarters at Fassberg to be later struck of charge on 30 May 1946.
The author is researching the history of No. 127 Squadron an would appreciated any comments or additions. Please use the email address RAF_127Squadron@yahoo.co.uk for correspondence.