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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. S H J Shirley


Sidney Harry James Shirley, of Wembley, was born on 5th October 1909 and joined 604 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force before the war as an Aircrafthand. Called up on 24th August 1939, he later remustered as an Airman u/t Air Gunner.

He was detached from 604 Squadron to No. 1 AAS Manby for a special gunnery course, running from 8th October to 5th November 1939. He completed his training and was entitled to wear the new Air Gunner badge from 29th February 1940.

On 24th August he was flying in Blenheim L6681 which crashed near Odiham during a night patrol, cause unknown. Shirley and his pilot, F/O H Speke, were both unhurt. The aircraft was repairable.

After the advent of the Beaufighter, Shirley retrained as a Radio Observer. He was posted away from 604 in May 1941 to join 35 Squadron, operating Halifaxes from Linton-on-Ouse, as an air gunner.

On 24th July 1941 Shirley was killed in Halifax I L9527 TL-M which was shot down at Angles, north of La Rochelle, during a raid against La Pallice.

Also lost were:

F/Sgt. CA Godwin
Sgt. GG Esnouf
Sgt. CH Newstead
Sgt. RT Rudlin

P/O GA Eperon and Sgt. EOT Balcomb survived as PoWs.

Shirley was then a Flight Sergeant, aged 32.

He is buried in Angles Communal Cemetery, France.



Above image courtesy of 35 Squadron

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