1958 R.A.F. Wittering Commander's Order of the Bath, Bomber Command Blenheim Pilot's 1940 Hornum Raid Distinguished Flying Cross and United States Legion of Merit group awarded to Air Commodore W.P. Sutcliffe, Royal Air Force

London Medal Company 1958 R.A.F. Wittering Command.

The outstanding and important postwar 1958 R.A.F. Wittering Commander's Order of the Bath, Bomber Command Blenheim Pilot's 1940 Hornum Raid Distinguished Flying Cross and United States Legion of Merit group awarded to Air Commodore W.P. Suttcliffe, Royal Air Force, who won when serving with 101 Squadron performing the daring reconnaissance in the immediate aftermath of the Hornum Raid on 20th March 1940, the first high explosive bomb attack on German soil in the Second World War. He was also an experienced torpedo bomber pilot with 324 deck landings to his credit.

Group of 10: Order of the Bath, Commander, C.B., Military Division, silver-gilt and enamels; Distinguished Flying Cross, GVI 1st type, reverse dated 1940; 1939-1945 Star; Atlantic Star with Air Crew Europe Clasp; Africa Star; Burma Star; Defence Medal; War Medal with Mentioned in Despatches Oakleaf; Coronation Medal 1953; United States of America: Legion of Merit, Officer Degree, bronze gilt and enamels, reverse machine engraved; (WALTER P. SUTCLIFFE), with the exception of the first, mounted loose style as worn, the first complete with full length of neck ribbon, and housed in its Collingwood fitted presentation case, and also with the official presentation case for the last, this with named label to: Group Captain Walter P. Sutcliffe, and also all emblems which came with the award are still housed in the case, the lass case is now damaged and in two parts.

Condition: Good Very Fine.

Together with a very large quantity of original documents and ephemera:

Flying Log Books, being a complete run of four Royal Air Force Pilot's Flying Log Book's covering the period 20th January 1930 through to 15th June 1985.1) Royal Air Force Pilot's Flying Log Book covering the period 20th January 1930 through to 11th December 1936; 2) Royal Air Force Pilot's Flying Log Book covering the period 15th December 1936 through to 7th February 1939; 3) Royal Air Force Pilot's Flying Log Book covering the period 7th February 1939 through to 29th June 1957; 4) Royal Air Force Pilot's Flying Log Book covering the period16th July 1957 through to 21st November 1957, with another individual flight on 15th June 1985. A number of qualification certificates are also pasted into the various logbooks. 

Awards, Decorations, Honours and Appointments:

Order of the Bath: 1) Original framed Warrant for the Order of the Bath, Ordinary Member of the Military Division, 3rd Class or Companion, as awarded to Air Commodore Walter Philip Sutcliffe, D.F.C., Royal Air Force, dated 12th June 1958, this with original signed signature of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II - signed 'Elizabeth R'; 2) Statutes for the Most Honourable Order of the Bath for 1948 onwards; 3) Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood letter forwarding the Warrant for the Order of the Bath, Companion - Military Division to Air Commodore Walter Philip Sutcliffe, C.B., D.F.C., Royal Air Force; 4) Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood letter regarding the Order of the Bath and the fund for the King's Chapel at Westminster Abbey, dated 9th September 1958; 5) two copies of the Supplement to the London Gazette for 3rd June 1958 in which the award of Sutcliffe's Order of the Bath was announced; 6) letter from the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood to his widow, acknowledging Sutcliffe's death, dated 1st November 1990, and with envelope addressed to Mrs Philip Sutcliffe, The Pond House, Pluckley, near Ashford, Kent.

Other British service awards: 1) Mentioned in Despatches Certificate, as awarded to Acting Group Captain W.P. Sutcliffe, D.F.C., dated 1st January 1945; 2) Coronation Medal 1953 award document to Group Captain Walter Philip Sutcliffe, D.F.C.

United States of America Legion of Merit: 1) Original framed award document for the United States of America Legion of Merit, Officer Degree, as awarded to Group Captain Walter P. Sutcliffe, Royal Air Force, dated 21st August 1946; 2) White House headed letter giving the citation for the award of the United States of America Legion of Merit, Degree of Officer, and signed in ink by the President of the United States - Harry Truman; 3) a list of awards by the United States of America, this being a small booklet which includes the award of the Legion of Merit to Sutcliffe.

Other awards documents: 1) original framed award document for the award of the Royal Air Force College Cranwell's R.M. Groves Memorial Prize to Flight Cadet Walter Philip Sutcliffe, dated 18th December 1931; 2) United States Air Force Air University Air War College Graduation Class of 1953 Award Certificate as issued to Group Captain W.P. Sutcliffe, R.A.F., dated 19th June 1953; 3) SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) Certificate of Appreciation awarded to Group Captain Walter P. Sutcliffe, Royal Air Force for his services during the period October 1955 to December 1956; 4) Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe letter of appreciation detailing his services with SHAPE, dated 16th December 1956. 

Photographs: 1) original group photograph with aircraft in background of 811 Training Group (?) taken during 1938 to 1939 at Donchistle, Scotland, with some of the men identified, Sutcliffe being at the time a flying instructor; 2) a wartime photograph of Sutcliffe beside an aircraft cockpit together with a senior Army officer; 3) a group photograph of the entire staff of Headquarters No.3 Group at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, taken in October 1948 with Sutcliffe identified; 4) a photograph of Sutcliffe standing by the door of an aircraft together with Anthony Eden, the British Prime Minister from 1955 to 1957; 5 and 6) two photographs of a Dauntless Diver Bomber, this presumably the one flown by Sutcliffe; 7) photograph of a group of senior Allied airforce officers standing in front of an aircraft; 8) a photograph of Anthony Eden, Sutcliffe and others at an airfield; 9) a group photograph of various officers, possibly taken when Sutcliffe was serving at SHAPE in Paris; 10) a group photograph of R.A.F. Officers;   

Correspondence and other ephemera: 1) Officers Training Corps Certificate "A" to Walter Philip Sutcliffe of Durham School, who when serving in the Junior Division passed his examination and qualified for the infantry, dated November 1927; 2) Oxford and Cambridge Schools Examination Board School Certificate "A" as issued to Sutcliffe on having passed examinations in: English, History, Geography, Latin, French, Elementary Mathematics  and Physics-and-Chemistry, dated July 1929; 3) a handwritten list of his school grades and marks for his examinations in 1929; Air Ministry Letter to Sutcliffe conveying the thanks of the Queen for his 'long and valuable services' on his retirement, dated 21st March 1961, together with posting envelope, addressed to him at Sand Pett, Charing, Kent; 4) Letter from Squadron Leader J.W. Price, R.A.F., at Headquarters No.110 Hyderabad Squadron, R.A.F. Seletar, Singapore to Air Commodore Sutcliffe regarding the fact the Sutcliffe could not be present at the Presentation of the Squadron Standard, and forwarding the copy of the Programme for the Consecration and Presentation of the Squadron Standard, dated 15th February 1966; 5) Programme for the Consecration and Presentation of the Squadron Standard to No.110 Squadron, which event occurred on 3rd December 1966.

Walter Philip Sutcliffe was born on 15th August 1910, and educated at Durham School from May 1924 through to July 1929 when he passed through examinations in English, History, Geography, Latin, French, Elementary Mathematics  and Physics-and-Chemistry. During his time at Durham School Sutcliffe had also been a member of the Officers Training Corps, and passed for the infantry in November 1927.  

Having decided on a flying career with the Royal Air Force, Sutcliffe joined the Royal Air Force College at Cranwell after leaving school, and having moved forward for pilot training, then flew his first flight in an Avro training aircraft on 20th January 1930, this being a flying experience flight with Sutcliffe as a passenger. Flying training then began with "A" Squadron at Cranwell, but Sutcliffe was taken ill, and did not fly from mid march through to early May 1930, when he resumed his training, and flew his first solo in the Avro on 12th June 1930. He passed his Elementary Flying Examination in November 1930, and moved on to the advanced training flying in an Atlas aircraft on 29th January 1931, and then flew his first solo in this type of aircraft on 23rd February 1931, and for his skill in flying was awarded the Royal Air Force College Cranwell's R.M. Groves Memorial Prize when still a Flight Cadet on 18th December 1931 and then passed out as an 'above the average' pilot and the same day.

Having been awarded his Pilot's wings, Sutcliffe was posted as a Pilot Officer to No.207 Bomber Squadron, and then flew with this unit from January 1932, flying in Fairey III F aircraft, a type of float place, and he flew his first solo in this type of aircraft on 15th February 1932, and went on to fly various training flights and exercises in and around the United Kingdom, when serving with 'C' Flight. Moving on to flying the Fairey Gordon aircraft, he flew for the first time in this aircraft on 16th September 1932, and was posted to No.23 Torpedo Training Course at R.A.F. Gosport, where he gained experience in flying the Blackburn Dart and Blackburn Ripon aircraft from 24th January 1933, and towards the end of the course was then posted to join the aircraft carrier H.M.S. Furious where he practiced deck landings on 4th to 5th May 1933, completing 7 in all, and passed  the course as 'above the average'. Sutcliffe also flew the Avro Lynx aircraft, and was then posted to the Conversion Course at Calshot to gain further experience in the Fairey III F Floatplane from 15th May 1933.

Sutcliffe was then posted to H.M.S. Glorious to join No.812 Squadron aboard the aircraft carrier H.M.S. Glorious at Hal Far in Malta from 19th June 1933, and flew various flights in and around the Mediterranean and in the Aegean off Corfu. During one flight on the 5th August 1933, Sutcliffe managed to hit the funnel of the battleship H.M.S. Royal Sovereign when conducting a practice torpedo attack on the Queen Elizabeth and Royal Sovereign which resulted in some damage to his aircraft but nothing else, he had clearly clipped in but remained airworthy. In addition to the dummy torpedo attacks, Sutcliffe conduced anti submarine practice sorties and dummy attacks on the British Battle Fleet, when flying with "A" Flight, mostly in the Ripon II aircraft, a torpedo bomber, and mostly operating from Malta. Sutcliffe flew from Glorious during the Mediterranean Fleet Winter Cruise in 1934, and during the month of January 1934 completed 6 deck landings to add the the many others he had already completed during 1933.

Sutcliffe flew in the Blackburn Baffin from February 1934, and embarked aboard Glorious for the Spring Cruise of the Mediterranean in March 1934, gaining another 8 deck landings under his belt during the month. He then joined the aircraft carrier H.M.S. Furious for the Summer Cruise of 1934, and when on a flight from Navarin to Malta on 13th August 1934, flying together with his gunner Leading Telegraphist Read on a convoy escort sortie, his aircraft was forced to land in the sea due to three plugs vibrating out. The aircraft floated for 15 minutes but then sank when an approaching destroyer forced it under the water, leaving Sutcliffe and Read floating in the sea until picked up by the destroyer H.M.S. Bulldog. The Royal Sovereign attempted salvage of the aircraft later, but the only line made fast to the aircraft then parted when the aircraft reached the surface and it sank again, this time for good. By the end of the Second Summer Cruise of 1934, in October 1934, Sutcliffe had completed 59 deck landings. For the rest of that year and into the next he flew out of Malta.

Sutcliffe was attached to 810 Squadron aboard Furious from 18th January 1935, and then rejoined 812 Squadron aboard the aircraft carrier H.M.S. Eagle from February 1935, and partook in the Spring Cruise of 1935, this time sailing and flying from Malta to Gibraltar and out into the Atlantic Ocean, conducting flights off Lagos, and then returned to Malta in April 1935. On 13th May 1935 Sutcliffe flew a night flight from Malta to Gozo, his task being to fly in the illuminated night flying display for the Jubilee Celebrations, and he flew as part of a formation of 7 aircraft for the event. More practice torpedo attacks and others continued, mostly from Malta, and by the end of August 1935 he had amassed 88 deck landings. Sutcliffe was then posted to the Station Flight at Hal Far, Malta from September 1935 and flying once again in the Fairey III F Floatplane.

Sutcliffe was posted home to the 47th Flying Instructors Course at the Central Flying School at Upavon from January 1936 by which time he had amassed 833 flying hours, and flew in the Avro Tutor aircraft as well as the Atlas and Hart aircraft. It is interesting in that during this period his log book records a list of the times had had made forced landings and crashes, four in all up to then, and all which in the Mediterranean - 1st: when operating from Glorious he made a forced landing on the flying deck on 5th July 1933; 2nd: when operating from Glorious he crashed into Island on landing with both wings, tailplane, prop and bottom longer on broken, on 5th August 1933; 3rd: when operating from Furious, this was the forced landing in the sea off Cape Malea as mentioned previously; and 4th: at Hal Far on 10th October 1935 when his engine failed five minutes after take off which resulted in a forced landing on aerodrome. Sutcliffe also gained experience with the Bulldog aircraft and passed out of the 47th Flying Instructors Course as 'average' on 26th March 1936.

Sutcliffe was next posted to the 5th Flying Training School at R.A.F. Sealand, serving as an instructor from March 1936 and flying in the Hawker Hart and Tutor aircraft. On 23rd May 1936 he flew in the formation of 27 aircraft from Speke to Wrexham and on to Sealandm and later the same day in a formation of 9 aircraft from Southport to Liverpool and on to Wirrel and then back to Sealand, these flights being for the Empire Air Day, and in June 1936 completed 1000 hours of flying time. 

Sutcliffe was posted back to an operational squadron, No.811 Flying Torpedo Bomber Squadron at R.A.F. Gosport from 15th December 1936, and flew for the first time in a Swordfish on 16th December 1936, flying off H.M.S. Furious. He flew for the first time in a Nimrod on 19th December 1936, and flew with 'B' Flight. Sutcliffe then returned with Furious to the Mediterranean for the Spring Cruise of 1937, flying in the Swordfish and Avro |Tutor aircraft, and was then posted to the R.A.F. Depot at Aboukir for air ferrying duties from February 1937, predominantly flying the Swordfish back and forth from Furious, which was clearly delivering the new aircraft. Sutcliffe returned with Furious to the United Kingdom on 16th March 1937 and then returned to R.A.F. Gosport, before joining Furious again for the Summer Cruise on 24th May 1937, and then disembarked at R.A.F. Evanton in June 1937 where he continued to fly the Swordfish, and then back to R.A.F. Gosport from 16th July 1937, gaining further experience in the Nimrod as well as the Shark aircraft. Sutcliffe then returned aboard Furious for the Winter Cruise of 1937, this lasted from 10th September to 27th October 1937 when he returned to Gosport. Posted to R.A.F. Lee-on-Solent from 11th January 1938, he returned to Gosport on 29th March 1938, and was then posted aboard H.M.S. Courageous from 9th May 1938`and by 24th May had amassed in all 206 deck landings. Posted to R.A.F. Station Donibriste from 1st June 1938, and then back to Furious from 29th June 1938, his tally of deck landings by the end of the month had risen to 228 in all. Sutcliffe would then alternate between Furious and Donibriste, and completed his 300th deck landing on 8th November 1938.

During early 1939 he would gain experience in the Mentor and Magister aircraft, both fixed wing, and then on 12th April 1939 would fly for the first time in a Blenheim bomber, his unit was by then forming part of 15 Group - Coastal Command, where he flew for the Headquarters in which posting he was located at the outbreak of the Second World War on 3rd September 1939. With the outbreak of the war, Sutcliffe was considered a very experience pilot, having amassed just over 1500 flying hours, and completed 324 deck landings on aircraft carriers. By then he held the rank of Squadron Leader.

Sutcliffe was posted to No.6 Group at Abingdon and attached to No.101 Squadron at Raynham from October 1939, operating in Blenheim IV aircraft, and was then posted on 4th December 1939 to attend the No.5 V.H.F. Blind Approach Course at Bocombe Down, where he would have begun to gain experience in Radar and its use with Air Gunnery, and as such flew in the Anson aircraft. Sutcliffe passed out of the course and returned to 101 Squadron from mid December 1939. Early in the New Year of 1940 he was posted to No.82 Squadron at Watton from 6th January 1940, flying again in the Blenheim IV aircraft, but continued to fly in and around the Uk, mostly practice flights, there being very little activity during this part of the Phoney War, though he did manage to take part in some reconnaissance flights of a minor nature. 

However this was all to change on the 20th March 1940 when he assisted in the post raid reconnaissance role for the Hornum Raid which was the first high explosive bomb attack on German soil in the Second World War. A report reads as follows: 'On the night of 19th to 20th March 1940, a Bomber Command force of Whitley's and Hampdens were ordered to make the first H.E. bomb attack against a target on German soil. The target was a Luftwaffe air base at Hornum on the Island of Sylt. The attack was duly carried out and when the crews returned to their bases they reported many fires and great destruction. Prime Minister Winston Churchill was informed and H.M. The King George and of course the press were also informed about the magnificent results of this raid. At 06.00 on 20th March two Blenheim Mk.IVs took off from R.A.F. Station Watton to carry out a photo reconnaissance of Hornum in order that the damage caused by this raid could be assessed. Blenheim P.6895 manned by Squadron Leader W.P. Sutcliffe, with Sergeant Phillipson as navigator and Leading Aircraft Man G. Whithead as Wireless Operator / Air Gunner, accompanied by another Blenheim piloted by Sergeant Newbatt. Squadron Leader Sutcliffe was to take vertical line-overlaps and Sergeant Newbatt was to take obliques from the eastern side of the Island. The two aircraft flew to Denmark making a land fall at Esbjerg, turned south and made their approach to the Island of Sylt. As they approached German anti aircraft from the Northern tip of Sylt opened fire, inaccurate at first but becoming increasingly accurate and intense. By this time cameras were started and kept going until the aircraft had passed over the island. Because of cloud both aircraft flew at an altitude of 6000 feet. The main opposition was from Anti Aircraft fire which was very accurate. P.6895 was rocked violently by the burst of black puffs of exploding shells all the way down the Island. The exploding shells made loud bangs which were quite frightening. Two M.E.109 fighter aircraft passed the wing tip of P.6895 on a reciprocal course but made no attack. On completion of the photographic run, the aircraft pulled up into cloud and the crew relaxed. Seconds later, there was a violent explosion accompanied by a large black puff right in front of the aircraft's nose. However, that was the last and the crew had a comfortable ride back to Watton. After landing the two aircraft were debriefed and the photo film processed. The prints showed no damage at Hornum base and caused consternation at Group and Command Headquarters and later at 10 Downing Street. The previous communique was abandoned and a press release said because of the poor quality of the photographs no damage could be seen.' 

It was in November 1957 that an article in the Sunday Times on Photo Reconnaissance work during the Second World War contained a reference to the results of this photographic mission over Hornum and for the first time publicly acknowledged that there was no damage to the air base at Hornum. The same article stated that this news was deliberately kept from the public, who was led to believe that the raid was a successful one. Further confirmation of this is found on pages 81 and 82 of the book 'Bomber Command' by Max Hastings.

However for Sutcliffe he raid was a success, as him and his other two crew members were recommended for honours and awards for their part in the raid, it being a joint recommendation for the crew as a whole. The recommendation reads as follows: 'Squadron Leader Sutcliffe was the pilot, and Sergeant Phillipson and Leading Aircraftman Whitehead the Observer and Air Gunner of a Blenheim which carried out a photographic reconnaissance over Sylt on 20th March 1940. The aircraft was over Sylt from 0854 to 0900 hours flying below the clouds and, in spite of very heavy and continuous A.A. fire from the shore battery which damaged the port wing, and with enemy fighters in the vicinity, a complete line overlap of Sylt was taken. There is no doubt that courage and resource was shown by the whole crew in successfully completing a difficult task when it was obvious that such a reconnaissance was certain to be expected by the enemy after the previous night's bombing raids. Squadron Leader Sutcliffe also carried out a previous reconnaissance on 20th March which he attacked a Flak ship, and obtained valuable information and photographs. He also led a sector on an operational sweep on 13th January which was successfully completed in spite of very bad weather. This officer has proved himself to be an inspiring leader under all conditions. Both Sergeant Phillipson and L.A.C. Whitehead were with Squadron Leader Sutcliffe on both these occasions in addition to having taken part in a large number of other operational flights. Both men are first class operational crews and can be relied upon to put up a first class show under the most difficult circumstances.

Sutcliffe was recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross, and Phillipson and Whitehead the Distinguished Flying Medal. The award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Sutcliffe was made in the London Gazette for 17th May 1940 with the citation reading: 'This officer has made six reconnaissance flights, including pamphlet dropping and security patrol duties, during the period September 1939 to February 1940, over heavily defended enemy territory and often under very trying conditions but despite many difficulties has has accomplished his missions successfully. As a flight commander he sets a high standard and is unsparing in his efforts to maintain efficiency in his flight.'

During March 1940, Sutcliffe had partaken in a recce of Sylt on the 12th March, as well as observed the 'submarine salvage operations off Heligoland' and had been fired upon by a Flak ship with 'Pom Poms' though his aircraft managed to drop one 250lb bomb on the target. Of the raid on Hornum airfield and his post raid reconnaissance flight he wrote the following in his log: 'Vertical and Obliques of Sylt to determine results of raid by Hampdens and Whitleys. Photos taken. A.A. fire intense.' On the 29th March he had flown over the North Sea on operations against enemy vessels. The following period saw Sutcliffe fly many local flights, but on 12th May he was involved in a bombing raid on the Hasselt Bridges, in which he was the leader of nine aircraft in an attack made over 5000 and down to 3000 feet in which anti aircraft fire was encountered. On the 15th May he was involved in a bombing raid on Sedan, which consisted of 12 aircraft with Sutcliffe being leader of the second wave, and the target was hit with the roads being blocked, and no opposition encountered.

On 17th May he was involved in an interesting task which saw his aircraft lead 12 Hurricanes from Manston to Merville, these Hurricanes consisted of 6 from 601 Squadron and 6 from 213 Squadron and were flying out to France in order to take part in the operations in the wake of the German advance. Later the same day he flew from Merville to Lille to pick up 'Atkinson and Hunt' and then after a few more short flights in that area, he then returned over the Channel to Watton where on his arrival he discovered that '16 of our aircraft had been shot down'. On the 21st May he was appointed the leader of 9 aircraft from 82 and 18 Squadron which were tasked to cooperate with 110 Squadron, and then flew with a fighter escort in a raid on the roads leading out of Boulogne, in which he discovered good targets and dropped 2 x 250lb and 4 x 40 lb bombs. During this incident and 'friendly fire' incident occurred in which one aircraft from 18 Squadron went missing and was believed to have been shot down by a Hurricane, with the crew all missing. On the 24th May he was involved in a raid on 200 tanks and armoured fighting vehicles in the Boulogne to Calais area with his bombs being dropped on tanks sheltering in a village, and hits were observed with light flak received being ineffective, and the area from Dunkirk to Boulogne was on fire. On the 25th May he was involved in a raid on the Pontoon Bridges to the north east of Menin, with one observed and partially destroyed by 'Hunt's' bombs, this being a fellow crew, there were 24 Blenheims and 30 Hurricanes involved in the raid. On the 26th May he was invested with the Distinguished Flying Cross from the hands of His Majesty King George VI at R.A.F. Feltwell, and flew back to Watton later the same day.

On the 27th May, Sutcliffe flew in a raid on roads south of Saint Omer, with direct hits observed on armoured fighting vehicles though he states 'individual attacks on ME110, JU88 encountered. Saw JU87's in action'. On the 30th he flew in a Spitfire for fun courtesy of 66 Squadron, he piloted the aircraft which he described as 'very nice, but very light on elevators'. On the 29th May he was involved in a raid on more armoured fighting vehicles with one column attacked on the outskirts of Reige, and then on the 31st May he was involved in a raid on Nieuport Bridges as the leader of 9 aircraft with good bombing had by all but the targets were very small. On 6th June during a raid on armoured fighting vehicles south of Somme his air gunner 'is believed to have shot down Henschel 126'. On the 7th June, in a raid on armoured fighting vehicles in the Abbeville district direct hits were observed, but his aircraft then met another Henschel 126 'but front gun would not work' and as he further states 'Lewis in 3709 and 3701 (he was piloting R.3701) had running fight with two ME.109's 'sun towards tactics successful - 4 or 5 attacks made before reaching sea level + 9 burst 3701 main petrol feed to carburettor, starboard engine holed, but returned ok.' On 10th June he was involved in a raid on more armoured fighting vehicles and troops at Fleury village. This was a good attack with hits on road in village and front gun used on troops. 'Saw 12 Morane fighters on ground. Le Havre afire'. On the 15th he was involved in another raid on armoured fighting vehicles on roads south of Rouen, and flew for fun in a Gladiator aircraft 'delightful aircraft' on the 18th June, followed by another raid later the same day on armoured fighting vehicles and motorised columns south of Cherbourg with 'hits on head of column - front and rear machine gun attacks'.

Sutcliffe's final raid on the 21st June was of some slight historical importance in that it was on a 'Hamburg Industrial target' and he further goes on to state that 'aerodrome at Hamsteed attacked'. He was one of 10 Blenheim's which were tasked on a new kind of operation. Making use of cloud cover, the Blenheim's were to fly to targets in Germany which had recently been attacked by night bombers. The bombing by the Blenheims was intended to extend the disruption at such targets through daylight hours, to take photographs of the night bombing results and to draw the German day-fighter strength away from the Channel coast near England. As the Bomber Command War Diaries state 'the cloud cover was not good this day and only two Blenheim's bombed targets, at Bremen and Hamstede airfield.' Sutcliffe's aircraft was this one of only two aircraft to actually make an attack during this raid, his one being Hamstede airfield. This day fighter diversionary attempt was an important requirement, as on five days later on the 26th June, the Battle of Britain officially begun. Sutcliffe's operational tour had ended. 

After a weeks rest, Sutcliffe was posted to No.17 Operational Training Unit at R.A.F. Upwood, and with the heavy losses suffered, it is easy to see why and experienced and decorated pilot such as Sutcliffe was given this task. Operational training units desperately needed experienced men to instruct and give their experience to others. At Upwood, Sutcliffe flew in Anson aircraft, and on the 31st July was selected to fly with three camera men aboard - filming for the film 'March of Time'.

Sutcliffe was posted for his second operational tour to No.110 Squadron again, this time to take command of the Squadron from 1st November 1940, once again flying in Blenheim's as well as Boston aircraft, and was very quickly in action, beating up an aerodrome on the 8th November, followed by another the next day in the Lille district, and then on the 14th November he beat up another aerodrome at Cambrai, and during the attack managed to machine gun four enemy aircraft which were circling to land - as is later added to the log book 'this was the date of worst raid on Coventry' and these aircraft may well have been returning from the raid. On the 16th November he was involved in a bombing raid on Hamburg, but the target was obscured by low cloud and aerodrome at (?) attacked - he described this as a 'shaky trip'. This was described as almost certainly the most successful Bomber Command raid of the war so far, the targets were predominantly the airfields. On the 23rd November he flew in a bombing raid to Dortmund and Cologne, and then on the 6th December he flew in a raid on Lille and Vendeville and bombed with 2 x 250 lb and 12 x 40 lb bombs, and then finally for the year, on 22nd December 1940 he flew in a raid on Gelsenkirchen and the oil refinery there, 'bombs on target area but no results observed - shot up searchlights at Ostend (height 300 on second circuit all light anti aircraft and Pom Poms opened up and starboard wing was holed by a shell. Evasive acton diving to ground level was successful.'   

Despite the raid on the 22nd December being his final operational sortie for 1940, he had a close call due to friendly fire on 30th December when flying from Ipswich to Wattisham he was 'fired upon by AA defences - observers hatch came down preventing front wheel being levelled - landed on two main wheels and nose - aircraft was hit with Bofors and .303'.

Sutcliffe did not fly again till 2nd February 1940, presumably due to bad weather and for the rest of that month and the first half of March flew on local flights and tests, with his first raid of the year coming on 13th March, when he partook in the raid on Hamburg, with fires noted as having started near the railway station, and then on the 18th March he attacked Wilhelmshaven and received accurate anti aircraft fire. These raids were part of Bomber Command's maritime diversion, which was conduced in response to the heavy losses caused by German U-Boats.                  

On 8th April he was involved in a raid on Bremerhaven, in which good bombing was claimed, despite the fact that this was his 'Observers first operational trip and! 30 minutes too early!' On the 12th April he was involved in a sortie to beat up enemy ships, though none were seen, and later the same day was involved in a sortie to Zeebrugge to search for the a downed aircraft but no trace was seen. On 16th April he was involved in a low level attack at 50 feet on Heligoland Town, and then on the 18th April, he was involved in a low level moonlight attack on shipping off Walcheren Island - during this attack he records that 'one ship blew up as result of hits with 4 x 250 lb and 4 x 40 lb bombs dropped on searchlights. During May 1941 his Squadron gradually converted to Wellington bombers, his first trip in one on the 3rd May being described as 'nice and warm', but it was in a Blenheim again on the 6th May that he hit a 5000 ton ship with 4 x 250 lb short armour piercing (bombs) off Texel. This was his last operational sortie in command of 110 Squadron and his second operational tour had come to an end.

On 12th May 1941 Sutcliffe was posted to Bomber Command Headquarters but would still get some flying time in, mostly in light aircraft such as the Tiger Moth and the Magister, though from 18th July he would not pilot and aircraft till 17th March 1942, and then did a conversion course learning to fly the Hudson, and then in April 1942 flew the Mosquito. On 25th April 1943 he flew a Hudson III from Portreath to Gibraltar in which he encountered 'shocking weather on last half of trip - 520 gallons fuel used'. On the 27th April he left Gibraltar for Malta 'but returned due to both oil temps over 100 c' and then on the 30th April finally left Gibraltar for Malta where he arrived at Luqa which he described as 'good trip - bombs dropping over Malta - stayed at Malta 2 hours'. That same night he flew from Malta to Egypt where he landed at Kilo 17 in 'dust storms' on the 1st May, and then on the 3rd May he left Kilo 17 for Kasfareit, and on the 6th left for Habbanyah, followed by a flight to Sharja on the 7th, and from Sharja to Jiwani he flew with an escort of two Hurricanes before flying on to Karachi the same day, 8th May. He then flew on to New Delhi and on to Dum Dum before flying back to New Delhi on 15th May. He was then off flying duties from May to October 1942, but from then through to the end of year and on through to February 1944 he was on flying duties with 152 Operational Training Unit, presumably in command, and was then posted to the Headquarters of the Strategic Air Force, finding little time to fly, though he did manage a few flights in Hurricane's. Sutcliffe remained out in India throughout 1944, and flew some flights in and around Burma in early 1945, appearing to be ferrying VIP's, and then left the Far East and returned home as  a passenger in a Dakota in December 1945 by which time he held the rank of Group Captain.

Sutcliffe had been Mentioned in Despatches in the London Gazette for 1st January 1945, and was then awarded the Legion of Merit Degree of Officer by the United States of America. In a letter signed by the President of the United States of America - Harry Truman - on White House headed paper - the following citation for his award is given: 'Group Captain Walter P. Sutcliffe, Royal Air Force, performed outstanding services from December 1943 to May 1944 as Deputy Chief of Air Staff, Strategic Air Force, Eastern Air Command. He insured the utmost cooperation between the Intelligence and Operational Sections and coordinated the Royal Air Forces training programs in the theater.' Sutcliffe was posted from 3rd Group Headquarters to the Air Ministry as Director of Training Operations from 14th November 1948, and fulfilled a minor posting till posted out to the United States and was appointed to the Air War College at Memphis and passed out of the United States Air Force Air University Air War College Graduation Class of 1953.

From August 1953 he was posted to R.A.F. Wittering to assume command of the Station, and from March 1954 learned to fly the Meteor, in which he completed a number of flights, and was awarded the Companion of the Order of the Bath, Military Division in the London Gazette for 12th June 1958. Sutcliffe retired from the Royal Air Force in 1961 with the rank of Air Commodore and died in 1990.


13 June 2017