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[Home] [Profiles 103 Sqn A to M] [John Holland 103 Sqn]

W/C John E Holland DFC RAF

Joining the RAF Volunteer Reserve after leaving Whitgift School, Croydon, in 1938, John Holland joined up when war broke out the following year and, like many pilots who were rated “exceptional", spent the first part of his war as a flying instructor. He had first taken to the air as a sergeant pilot, but was subsequently commissioned. Finally, in October 1944 he was able to get on to operations

After the usual training Holland and his crew were posted to 103 Squadron at RAF Elsham Wolds on the 3 October 1944 from 11 Base.

The crew consisted of :-

F/L J Holland

Sgt W Paton

F/O V C Love RCAF

W/O W F Lynch RCAF

Sgt A Knox

Sgt K Wheatland

F/S D C Walker RCAF

……….

Holland flew his first operation as Second Dickie in the crew of F/L A J Henry on the 14 October 1944 to Duisberg in Lancaster PD236.

He then captained his own crew on the following operations :-

30-Oct-44 - Cologne - Point of Aim - Lancaster - LM177 – F/L JE  Holland

31-Oct-44 - Cologne - Point of Aim - Lancaster - NF999 - F/L JE Holland

09-Nov-44 - Wanne Eikel - Oil - Lancaster - LM682 - F/L JE Holland

11-Nov-44 - Dortmund - Oil - Lancaster - ND861 - F/L JE Holland

27-Nov-44 - Freiburg - Army support - Lancaster -  ND861  - F/L JE Holland

29-Nov-44 - Dortmund - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ND861 - F/L JE Holland

03-Dec-44 - Urft - Dam - Lancaster - NF999 - F/L JE Holland

06-Dec-44 - Leuna - Oil - Lancaster - LM295 - F/L JE Holland

15-Dec-44 – Ludwigshafen/Oppau - Chemical - Lancaster - ND861 - F/L JE Holland

17-Dec-44 – Ulm - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ND861 - F/L JE Holland

22-Dec-44 – Koblenz - Railway yards - Lancaster - ND861 - F/L JE Holland - Bad weather at base. All aircraft diverted to Langham.

29-Dec-44 - Scholven Buer - Oil - Lancaster - ND861 - F/L JE Holland

14-Jan-45 – Merseburg - Oil - Lancaster - PD272 - F/L JE Holland

16-Jan-45 - Aarhus Bay - Mine laying - Lancaster - PB898 - F/L JE Holland

01-Feb-45 - Ludwigshafen - Point of Aim - Lancaster - PD272 - F/L JE Holland

02-Feb-45 - Wiesbaden - Point of Aim - Lancaster - NG492 - F/L JE Holland

04-Feb-45 - Elbe Estuary - Mine laying - Lancaster - NG492 - F/L JE Holland

07-Feb-45 - Kleve - Army support - Lancaster - PD272 - F/L JE Holland

08-Feb-45 - Politz - Oil - Lancaster - NG492 - F/L JE Holland

14-Feb-45 - Kadet Channel - Mine laying - Lancaster - LM295 - F/L JE Holland

15-Feb-45 - Aarhus Bay - Mine laying - Lancaster - RA528 - F/L JE Holland

02-Mar-45 - Cologne - Army support - Lancaster - ME475 - F/L JE Holland

07-Mar-45 - Dessau - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ME475 - F/L JE Holland

08-Mar-45 - Kassel - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ME475 - F/L JE Holland

11-Mar-45 - Essen - Point of Aim - Lancaster - PD427 - F/L JE Holland

12-Mar-45 - Kattegat - Mine laying - Lancaster - ME475 - F/L JE Holland

15-Mar-45 - Misburg - Oil - Lancaster - ME475 - F/L JE Holland

19-Mar-45 - Hanau - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ME475 - F/L JE Holland

31-Mar-45 - Hamburg - Shipyards - Lancaster - ME475 - F/L JE Holland

04-Apr-45 - Lutzkendorf - Oil - Lancaster -  ME475 - F/L JE Holland

10-Apr-45 - Plauen - Railway yards - Lancaster - ME475 - F/L JE Holland - Diverted to Sandtoft due to poor weather at base.

……….

On completion of his tour Holland as awarded a DFC.

Post war he enjoyed a long and distinguished RAF career. He was also the recipient of the Air Efficiency Award (AE) Granted a permanent commission in the RAF in 1946, he had two years, 1952-54, in New Zealand as chief flying instructor to the RNZAF’s Central Flying School, before passing through the RAF Staff College, Andover, in 1956.

In 1960 he was given a key operational command as CO of No 16 Squadron based in Germany, operating English Electric Canberra bombers with a nuclear strike

capability, at RAF Laarbruch. He took command of the squadron at the outset of a particularly tense period of the Cold War, with the erection of the Berlin Wall and the Cuban missile crisis following in the succeeding years. Consequently the air forces on both sides of the Iron Curtain were on constant alert. The situation was rendered wryly equivocal for Holland and his group commander when their respective teenage daughters,

Pamela and Sally-Anne, insisted on marching around RAF Laarbruch waving “Ban the Bomb” banners.

Holland retired from the RAF in 1967. Intending to pursue a teaching career he was accepted on a training course at St Luke’s College, Exeter, but on his way to his first day of induction drove past Exeter Airport where he saw a prominent advertisement for pilots. Thoughts of teaching were abandoned and he began flying with Airwork, first at Exeter and then in Saudi Arabia where Airwork trained young pilots. He was appointed chief flying Instructor at the King Faisal Flying Academy. When British Aerospace took over the training contract he worked with it on the planning side at Warton in Lancashire, finally retiring in 1985.

His wife Betty died in 2003 and he is survived by their younger daughter Pamela. Their other daughter Carolyn died of cancer in 1977.

Wing Commander John Holland DFC wartime bomber pilot was born on 18 April 1920. He died on 15 May 2010.

Compiled by David Fell from a newspaper article published in 2010

....................

 

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