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        Move from Sumburgh Fighter Flight to 247 Squadron RAF Roborough around July 1940

Sumburgh Fighter Flight that transferred as 247 Squadron to RAF Roborough (includes N.I.C.Francis?)

No. 247 (China British) Squadron

"Rise from the east"

The Gloster Gladiator HP-B of No. 247 Sqd. in the fall of 1940 off the coast of SW England

Thursday,12th August 1940, 399 Tavistock Road, Plymouth Roborough 5:54
Tired I lift, Flight Lieutenant George F. Chater born in Durban / South Africa, my gaze from the unpleasant paperwork and look out the window of Tea Rooms of requisitioned  "George Hotel". Outside awakens a new day, it's still summer, the fruits in the hotel's garden are slowly maturing. Ripe and ready for use now seems the No. 247th, MY, Squadron. 10-ready pilots, including myself are ready to Southwest England to the whole of Wales in the composite squadrons of No. 10th Fighter Group, to defend against the daily raids by the German Luftwaffe. Time to leave again circling the views of all relevant key points:

No. 247 Squadron
My Squadron has only been 12 days. On 01 August, it was put into service officially on RAF Roborough. The motto of our squadron I have appointed to a unit internal ideas competition "Rise from the east" because our equipment was procured by vigorous help of donations from collections in the Chinese colonies His Majesty among others. We honour the loyal subjects in the Far Eastern colonies and want to prove to us their sacrifice worthy! The core of our season is the result of the "Shetland Fighter Flight", which I belong to, since December 39, and which I was allowed to run ever since. At RAF Sumburgh we have since winter 39/40 German reconnaissance and combat aircraft, which had the naval bases of the North goal intercepted. Our Fighter Flight in turn was before the B-Flight of No. 152 Squadron sprung. Equipped with the old but reliable Gloster Gladiator Mk.II we have our best attempts to keep the Huns of the fleet. The only countable result was the launch of a Do-17 by Thomas William "Jock" Gillen on 05.06.1940 (this launcher message could by no loss record an official Air Force document to be confirmed, but a Lockheed Hudson of No. been since that date in the said region 233 Sqd missing., probably therefore a case of friendly-fire).

 F / O Gillen, right in the picture

At 18:07. came the laying instruction by RAF Roborough in the Devonshire countryside in order to protect the southwest of the Kingdom with the important fleet ports Plymouth and Falmouth and their essential war docks before the bombing of the Air Force. Since the increase in German air raids on British territory in July 1940, more and more fighter squadrons were moved to the southeast so that air defence was always full of holes in the southwest. However, even here the attacks German associations grew increasingly. At 21:07. We arrived with our gladiators in Roborough, place were other machines of the same type, usually there were Mk.II, camouflaged loosened and roughly around. Our hope of being able to take with the relocation to the south and a new device, not fulfilled. Somewhat disgruntled we took the standing around Gloster possession. Some of them were in such a bad condition that one would assume that they had participated in the 100th still war. After 10 days of painstaking work, the newly ragtag ground personnel in addition to the 5 Gladiator Mk.II the original Shetland Fighter Flights 5 more Gloster for "enthronement" of No. can make 247 ready. More are in the works, the rest are only good as a source of spare parts! Currently were more clear messages true luxury because only 10 drivers are available. I have sent an urgent request to supply new pilots to RAF Filton (our sector command), we were short Nachersatz assured. Let us surprise.

My men!!

Division for the time being:

A-Flight: F / L GF Chater / P / O NIC Francis / Sgt H. Makin / Sgt E. Trent..
B-Flight: F / L RA Hooks / P / O RA Winter / Sgt F. Jeffries.
C-Flight: F / O TW Gillen / P / O NAR Doughty / Sgt G. Greenwood.

The aim is to equip all Flights 4 gladiators. In addition to still a reserve pool (R-Flight) of 4 machines and if possible also arise another Reserve pool of pilots.


Along with F / L Hooks, F / O Gillen and P / O Francis I sprint to the machines of the A-Flights.





Gloster Gladiator N5585 - Anzac - usually Flown By Pilot Officer N.I.C.Francis on 247 Squadron

Under the cockpit is a kangaroo superimposed on a map of Australia, the text 'Anzac Answer' and a kill marking. Why?

There are two possibilities quoted for this aircraft operated by 247 Squadron RAF and usually piloted by a Briton (PO NIC Francis) which are
1. Australian ace Pat Hughes was temporarily assigned from 234 Squadron to 247 at the time they had Gladiators.
2. 247 flew escort for 10 Squadron RAAF Sunderland's.

Roden Gloster Gladiaror Model Page - note Decals for P/O N.I.C.Francis N5585 aircraft:

In 1937 the Royal Air Force's last biplane fighter the Gloster Gladiator did not satisfy the demands of modern air combat - the future belonged to high-speed monoplanes, and the war that approached Europe would become a war of 'next generation' technology.
However, the interests of the British Empire meant a military presence in the most remote parts of the world, including South Africa and the Middle East. That is why the Ministry of Aviation placed an order with the Gloster Aircraft Company for the improved Gloster Gladiator Mk.II modified according to the requirements of specification F.36/37. The most significant innovation was the substitution of the Bristol Mercury IX engine with the Mercury VIIIA: the capacity was still the same, but the gear ratio was 0.572, permitting the installation of the new three-blade Fairey Reed metal airscrew. There were no more external differences, but the designers also paid attention to improving the business of flying the aircraft. The Mk II had an electric engine starter, an improved navigation system, and new equipment for measuring altitude and climb rate. Since the intended operating area was the desert, the aircraft was equipped with a tropical carburetor intake, as well as a special container with water and provisions.
In 1938, just before the Munich Crisis, the Gladiator Mk. II served in the front line of the Royal Air Force. However, after the arrival of the Hawker Hurricane in sufficient quantities, they were gradually transferred to the Auxiliary Air Force. The Gladiator Mk.II was too obsolete for modern air combat, but the shortage of new types led to extensive service during the first years of the war.
Right after the beginning of WWII, Gladiator Mk. IIs were sent to France as part of the Expeditionary Force. Sadly, their career was very short - after one Luftwaffe raid almost all machines were destroyed.
At the time of the Battle of Britain, 247 Squadron of the Royal Air Force was the only unit equipped with the Gladiator Mk.II; pilots flying the type managed to score several victories. The most notable campaigns in which the Gladiator Mk.II took part were the Battle for Norway and the South-African Campaign. Numerous victories over enemy planes proved that when piloted by an experienced pilot, the Mk.II could be a deadly weapon.
Another important part of the Gladiator Mk.II's fighting career was the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union. The Swedish volunteer squadron that arrived in Finland with their own Gladiators (the Swedish export version of the Gladiator was known as the J8) fought on the Finnish side along with the pilots of the Finnish Air Force. The Swedes managed to shoot down at least 10 Soviet planes. The most successful Finnish ace Oiva Tuominenn scored 4 victories flying the Gladiator Mk.II.
To secure take-off and landing in snowy regions most Finnish and Swedish fighters were equipped with skis.
The Finnish Gladiator Mk.II fought on the front line the longest, until the middle of 1943. In North Africa the Gladiator Mk.II served until the end of 1942. Other Mk.IIs were used as messenger and weather reconnaissance planes until 1944.


  1. Gloster Gladiator Mk.II, B/N5585, No.247 Sqn RAF, Roborough, August 1940, flown by PO N.I.C. Francis.
  2. Gloster Gladiator Mk.II, HE-K/serial unknown, No.263 Sqn RAF, Battle of Norway, Spring 1940.
  3. Gloster Gladiator Mk.II, GL-255 of LLv 26, Finnish Air Force, Winter War, Finland, Mensunkangas, flown by Sgt Oiva Tuominen (44 victories in total, 6 ? on Gladiator), February 1940.
  4. Gloster Gladiator Mk.II, GL-269 of 1/LLv 26, Finnish Air Force, Winter War, Finland, Utti, flown by Capt Paavo Berg (5 victories), February 1940.
  5. Gloster Gladiator J-8A, "yellow A"/271 of Flygflottilj F 19 (Royal Swedish Air Force), Winter War, Finland,pilot unknown, winter 1940.
  6. Gloster Gladiator J-8A, "yellow F"/284 of Flygflottilj F 19 (Royal Swedish Air Force), Winter War, Finland, Lake Kemi, flown by 2Lt F H I Iacobi, January 1940.
Technical Specifications
Wing Span 9,83 m
Total Length 8,40 m
Wing area 30,01 m2
Take off weight 2206 kg
Speed (max) 414 km/h
Service ceiling 10210 m
Range 689 km
Powerplants 1xBristol Mercury VIII 830 h.p.
Armament 4x0,303(7,7)mm machine guns