659 AOP Sqn RAF

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by oldbaldy, Apr 12, 2006.

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  1. oldbaldy

    oldbaldy LE Moderator Good Egg (charities)
    1. Battlefield Tours

  2. Hi Oldbaldy

    Read your post with interest. I build a website to commemorate all Allied soldiers who were KIA in the Netherlands in WWII and/or are buried here. I visited your uncle's grave and like to add him to my site.

    I have next to no info on 659 Sqn, except from what I found on-line.

    If you are interested in sharing information about your uncle for my site, please contact me (via e-mail.)

    My website can be found at www.basher82.nl


  3. Hi,
    It looks like the AAC Museum at Middle Wallop holds the records for the AOP squadrons. The National Archives at Kew hold the War Diary for 1944. Some more information below.


    The War Diary for 659 A.O.P. Squadron is held at the National Archives, Kew.

    File Number is WO 171/1226, 659 A.O.P. Sqn., 1944 May- Dec

    The Formation of Air Observation Post Squadrons
    The D Flight Trial convinced most of the doubters and authority was given in 1941 for the formation of Air observation Post Squadrons. To overcome inter-service wrangling over ‘ownership’ of the squadrons a compromise was agreed. Squadrons were to be RAF units, each one commanded by a gunner major (pilot) with an RAF adjutant. The RAF would provide the aircraft (Auster) and the airmen to maintain them; the Army would supply vehicles, ground radios and soldiers to man them; all the pilots would be artillery officers, trained to fly by the RAF. The RAF would be responsible for technical flying matters but - a crucial point - the Army would command in the field. Later experience proved the need for observers in the rear seats of the aircraft to watch out for enemy fighters. As no official provision had been made for this, volunteers from the Squadrons' Army and RAF groundcrews carried out this duty when needed.
    The main repository of air OP history is in the exhibits and archives of the Museum of Army Flying at the School of Army Aviation, Middle Wallop

    Air Observation Post Squadrons
    Air Observation Post Squadrons (AOP) were provided on the basis on one per corps plus one per army. This gave the equivalent of one flight per forward division and one flight for each Army Group Royal Artillery. The squadron had mixed Royal Artillery and Royal Air Force personnel. The Commanding Officer and all the pilots were Royal Artillery officers. 55% of the other ranks were also Royal Artillery. The Royal Air Force provided three officers and the servicing personnel.

    Each squadron had twelve aircraft and 23 pilots. There were three flights of four aircraft each. Each aircraft had its own ground crew and could operate independently if required. The following squadrons were deployed in 21 Army Group.
    622 Squadron 83 Group 2 Army
    652 Squadron 83 Group 2 Army
    653 Squadron 83 Group 2 Army
    658 Squadron 83 Group 2 Army
    659 Squadron 83 Group 2 Army
    660 Squadron 84 Group 1 Canadian Army
    661 Squadron 84 Group 1 Canadian Army
  4. 659 Sqn AAC still exists and there's a bit here on their history.

    'Unarmed Into Battle' by Parham & Belfield, 1st ed 1956 Wykeham Press, 2nd ed 1986 Picton Publishing ISBN 094825114X. Your uncle is listed in the Roll of Honour but it seems he is listed as a Captain, presumably an acting rank. Qualification course rolls are included and No.35 Course had a J Wilson and a J A Wilson. The 1956 edition included an 'Analysis of Casualties' excluded from the 1986 edition because of some inaccuracies and omissions with 'personal' information. The museum ought to have a copy of the 1956 edition...

    The sqn I looked at had both a War Diary and an RAF 'Operational Record Book' t the PRO/National Archive. The pair I looked at contained almost identical information but, if you can get there, check both.
  5. I was part of the LAD during 659 time in first 9 Regt and then 4 Regt, both at Detmold and during NI and Falklands tours.
  6. oldbaldy

    oldbaldy LE Moderator Good Egg (charities)
    1. Battlefield Tours

    The-jack and Walt.

    Some time (two years!) since I posted this and things moved on.
    I did a 'flying' visit to the museum last December, Mrs Baldy & I were on route to somewhere else but decided to kill a bit of time in there.
    John's course picture is on the wall in the AOP section. He is the J Wilson stood in the rear, JA Wilson is sat in front. I Knew he had acting rank but in all the records I have seen he is listed Lt, this includes the Roll of Honour board at the museum.
    Thanks for the info on the books, I have not heard of it.

    As a further bit. He served at Alamein & the invasion of Sicily before volunteering as an AOP.
  7. The Mighty Nighthawks are now based at Dishforth in Yorkshire as part of 9 Regt AAC. Give them a shout, I am sure you will get an invite to the next founders lunch or families day. Ask 118 for the number to Dishforth guardroom and take it from there
  8. oldbaldy

    oldbaldy LE Moderator Good Egg (charities)
    1. Battlefield Tours

    My mother, only surviving sibling of John, lives not far from Dishforth I'll see if she's interested.
  9. This OTHER FIREPOWER page has a section on AOP including details of the 1943 organisation. It also links to summary details of all sqns, RAF and RCAF.
  10. oldbaldy

    oldbaldy LE Moderator Good Egg (charities)
    1. Battlefield Tours

  11. The Jack

    The War Diary for 659 A.O.P. Squadron is held at the National Archives, Kew.

    File Number is WO 171/1226, 659 A.O.P. Sqn., 1944 May- Dec

    The above file can be ordered from the National Archives as a hard copy and then sent to you as I have requested very recently, however if this is what you want then make sure you have very deep pockets. The document is 300 pages and the Fee Notice (Freedom of Information Act 2000 (sect 9)) is £1 per page. Thats £300 for this document. In my humble opinion this is a rip off and I refuse to pay this exorbitant amount.
  12. oldbaldy

    oldbaldy LE Moderator Good Egg (charities)
    1. Battlefield Tours