The Return to Blighty

ReturnFlypast2No.35 Squadron RAF Flies Home

RAF Goodwill Mission to US Ends
The famous No 35 Squadron16 RAF Lancasters – which has travelled 15,000 miles on a Goodwill Tour of North America, was taking off from New York, where the Tour started on 17th July 1946 for its Return Home this afternoon (22nd August 1946).  The Bombers are due at St Mawgan, Cornwall on Monday. Reuter.

Departure began with A-Flight leaving Gander for Lagens Field, Azores on 24th August and after an overnight stay then arriving St Mawgan on 25th August.  On 29th August they departed RAF St Mawgans to RAF Graveley Via Flyovers of Plymouth, Torquay and London.

The Officer Commanding B Flight Signalled St Mawgan from Lagens that they intended to leave on the 26th August (am) leaving ahead of Schedule because of better weather conditions and that he had received no further advice regarding Lancaster TL-R  involved in the incident at Gander.

Also on the 25th August, ‘B’ Flight took off from Gander for the trip to Lagens. The Squadron departed at Night (TL-Q took off at 23.35hrs) and unfortunately, there was an Incident that involved Fatalities. TL-R (TW870), Piloted by F/L Pete Stockwell, had to Return to Gander after 20-mins in the Air as he had problems with his DR compass. He was cleared to Land but mistook 2 Directional Green Lights which marked the Leeward End of the Runway for Glide Path Indicators.  As a result, the Aircraft bounced on the raised Road which was parallel to and 20-yds from the Leeward End of the Runway.  It was also marked with Red Lights as a Prohibited Area but there were some observing Civilians standing there. The Aircraft’s Starboard Wheel hit some of them, killing 3 men & 1 woman & injuring a 4th man.  The Lancaster was damaged and had to remain at Gander.  On investigation, Stockwell was exonerated of all blame (source mostly Alan Cooper). – (See separate page-link above).

35 Squadron A Flight Departed Lagens on the 25th August, but probably they left late at Night so arriving St Mawgan early the next Morning, the 26th.  Likewise, B-Flight probably arrived in the early hours of the 27th.  The whole 15 Aircraft left then departed St Mawgan on the 29th August.

The Officer Commanding B-Flight Signalled St Mawgan from Lagens that they intended to leave on the 26th August (am) and leaving ahead of Schedule because of better Weather conditions.   Also that he had received no further advice regarding Lancaster TL-R  involved in the incident at Gander.

B-Flight Flying Log:
27th August 07.00hrs Arrive St Mawgan, – 29th August 10.00hrs Depart St Mawgan
The Squadron spent 3 days at St Mawgan on their Return where no doubt the HM Customs took a keen Interest in the Aircraft. On the 29th August, the remaining 15 Lancasters Departed St Mawgan for Graveley, under Signalled Instructions from 3 Group to Fly in Formation following a Coastal Route of Holiday Resorts including Plymouth, Torquay, Bournemouth, Bognor, Worthing & Brighton before turning North for a Flypast across London to a warm Reception at their Home Base – Graveley.


CraigBottomleyetc29th August (St Mawgan to Graveley) Thursday
15 Aircraft took off for Graveley and after a Flight of 1hr-40mins duration arrived safely to be given a great welcome by friends & relatives of the Squadron Personnel.  The squadron was officially received by Air Marshal Sir Norman H Bottomley, Lord Henderson, representing the Air Council, a representative of the American Ambassador who was unfortunately unable to be present, and many other dignitaries.  After the reception, a formal Lunch was held in the Officers Mess. Many congratulatory Speeches were delivered and suitably replied to.  The whole of the Squadron Personnel proceeded on 7-days Leave.  A welcome climax to an exciting, enjoyable and successful tour, which, in the opinion of all concerned had undoubtedly fulfilled its purpose.

Movietone Newsreel
The Formation Fly-over on Camera. Several Formation Shots.  Lancaster Bombers come into land, Touching down, Taxi across the Aerodrome, to the appointed position.  General Views of Planes lined up with Crew standing in front of same.  Wing Commander Craig greeted by Air Marshal Sir Norman Bottomley. Close-Ups – Group Captain R C M Collard talks to Camera about Trip, he thanks Crews and the Reception Committee for their Welcome. Those VIP’s present included ASA Ambassador Representative Mr Corville, Lord (William) Henderson of Westgate  – Air Council & Sir William Brown.

AJLCReturnInspectionParadeW/C Craig leads the Marching on for Inspection by the American Ambassador at Graveley, August 29th 1946.  

Air Force Council was the Governing Body of the RAF at Adastral House, Kingsway


Lancaster B.Mk.I FE Sqdn Code TL-F TW880 W/C Craig – Arrival Parade

Commanding Officer RCM Collard left a Handwritten note to W/C A J L Craig before leaving St Mawgan on 28th August regarding Instructions received from the C in C re the imminent Battle of Britain Anniversary and an intended Recruiting Campaign since so many of the existing Crews were about to Wind-up their Wartime  RAF Careers.  “….as for future Commitments, those are dependant on the number of Pilots of the Squadron due to go out almost at once, I dare say the Authorities do not realise how many you are losing”


10-VIP’s Await W/C Craig –  

Bottomley prepares for a Welcome Speech (extreme left) including Mr Cabot Corville, 1st Sec American Embassy, Lord (William) Henderson of Westgate, Representing the Secretary for Air,  Mr M K Ballodi Deputy High Commissioner for India,  Major Gen Clayton L Bissell US Military & Air Attache, Air Chief Marshal Sir Phillip Joubert de la Ferté,  2-RAF Officers, Sir William Brown Permanent Under-Secretary,  USAAF Officer & Grp Capt Collard.


Reception Committee  Craig & Lord (William) Henderson of Westgate

7-VIP’s Present included Air Marshall Sir Norman Bottomley C-in-C Bomber Command,  Major Gen Clayton L Bissell US Military & Air Attache, Mr Cabot Corville, First Secretary to the American Embassy, Air Chief Marshal Sir Phillip Joubert, Lord (William) Henderson of Westgate, Representing the Secretary for Air,  Sir William Brown Permanent Under-Secretary & Mr M K Ballodi Deputy High Commissioner for India


W/C Craig, (3rd from right in Civvies)  & Grp Capt Collard (extreme right in Civvies) and fellow Officers with perhaps some wives at a less informal meeting in RAF Graveley


Grp Capt R C M Collard & W/C A J L Craig

Group Captain R C M Collard, (his Boss & Privately Educated), was a bit of a ‘Wet Fish’ and W/C A J L Craig used his Charm & Intellect to get on well with him.  Such was the ‘Class System‘ within the Ranks. Fellow Crew Members said that they could not understand why Alan came out of the RAF since in their estimation ‘if anyone was headed for the Top it was him‘.  Peacetime wasn’t when Men of his Ilk shone through if being Pinned Down by other Bureaucrats.  Alan carried on Piloting Gloucester Meteors, Handley Page Victors & Valiants.


Graveley Control Tower

Imperial War Museum Film 3Wide Shot over Airfield from Air Traffic Control Tower with Airfield Code “GR” in Foreground (Graveley), Parade being carried out on edge of Taxiway, Squadron Disposal Board for 35 Sqdn, Crews marching past, 35 Squadron HQ building Sign, Lancs Taxiing out, Shot from onboard Aircraft & Take-off.  Flying over Coastal Town.

Movietone Newsreel Goodwill Pathfinders


The question of much earned Leave after the Goodwill Tour was to be decided by the C-in-C Bottomley against the backdrop of important forthcoming Commitments for the Squadron which they had to fulfil in connection with the Battle of Britain Aniversary and an RAF  Recruiting Campaign.  No doubt the C-in-C considered their 6 weeks gruelling US Oddysey to be something of a Picnic.


Anniversary Postcard signed by Ray Leaf??  Graveley is misspelt and RAF Scampton added hence the Lincoln 35th Lancaster Anniversary instead of Graveley, Cambridgeshire.


These privileged Air & Ground Crews had the trip of a Lifetime in 1946 from a Post-War Rationed Britain to Generous American Hospitality by way of a much-publicised ‘Thank You’ to former Comrade in Arms.  They spent the rest of their individual at lifetimes recollecting their Memories from Photos, Badges and Cuttings gathered during their ‘Goodwill Trip‘.  Few if any could fulfil a dream to return to the US to live & work in a Land of Plenty given their Domestic Commitments in Blighty.

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