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The astounding five-time decorated Special Duties Paratrooper & Pilot’s group to Gp. Capt. C.S.G. Stanbury Aide-de-Camp to the Queen EII; C.B.E., D.S.O., D.F.C., A.F.C., Croix de Guerre (France), R.A.F

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The astounding five-time decorated Special Duties Paratrooper & Pilot’s group to Gp. Capt. C.S.G. Stanbury Aide-de-Camp to the Queen EII; C.B.E., D.S.O., D.F.C., A.F.C., Croix de Guerre (France), R.A.F.

The astounding five-time decorated Special Duties Paratrooper-Pilot’s group of 13 medals to Gp. Capt. C.S.G. Stanbury, consisting of: Military C.B.E.; Distinguished Service Order dated 1942; Distinguished Flying Medal dated 1942; Air Force Cross dated 1954; 1939-45 Star; Africa Star with North Africa 1942-43 clasp; Italy Star; France & Germany Star; WWII Defence & War Medals; General Service Medal with Malayaclasp to Wg. Cdr. C.S.G. Stanbury, R.A.F.; Coronation Medal 1953; Croix de Guerre with Vermeil Star 1939-40.

With an archive of original material including original case for medals initialled ‘C.S.G.S.’, case for C.B.E., three Pilot’s Log Books charting Stanbury’s complete service, letters and correspondence (including personally signed from Leonard Cheshire, V.C., from Air Marshall Sir John Slessor and Air Corps C/O. Colonel Monroe MacCloskey), D.S.O. Bestowal Document, original citations, newspaper cuttings charting Stanbury’s Special Duties, Paratrooping and Arctic pioneering jet flight and photographs of his entire career, including group shots and personal snaps of Sir Winston Churchill.

D.S.O. London Gazette: 4 December1942:

“In April this year, this officer was awarded the D.F.C. Since that time he has taken over command of ‘A’ Flight and carried out 18 operations in a most determined manner. In all he has completed 78 operations. In his capacity as Flight Commander he has displayed outstanding powers of leadership and quick decision in emergency. His enthusiasm and extremely high standard of professional knowledge have not only infused the same qualities into his operational aircrews but have been felt throughout the Squadron. His energy and will to win, especially during the most intense period of operations when General Rommel was advancing towards the Delta, inspired all personnel with whom he came in contact. He appears to have no regard at all for his personal safety and will always volunteer for hazardous undertakings. As a typical example of his courage and skill, the following incident is quoted: a Wellington aircraft had crash-landed in the Western Desert too far from base to be salvaged. However, a salvage unit was able to reach it and raise it on to its undercarriage, but the whole of the undersurface of the fuselage was ripped away. In spite of the dangers involved in attempting to fly the aircraft in this condition, he volunteered and successfully flew it to base for re-building.”

D.F.C. London Gazette:7 November1942:

“This officer has completed 61 operational sorties. He has set a very high standard of efficiency, and his professional knowledge has been of great value. He is a most courageous captain, who, undeterred by the enemy’s fire, presses home his attacks to the full.”

Croix de Guerre with Vermeil Star citation from General Bouscat, French Republic General Order No.20, Republique Francais, Armee de l’Air 5 Feb 1945:

“This officer has commanded with high distinction a squadron in operations, causing a notable contribution to the liberation of France. At the same time as a pilot in the course of numerous flights crowned with success, and as a Wing Commander, his example, his energy and his gallantry have constantly been a powerful stimulant for his formation and also a decisive factor in the notable records of his formation.”

A.F.C. Supplement to the London Gazette:1 January 1954. Awarded on his return from his Historic first test flights in a Jet aircraft over the North Pole

Wing Commander Clive Stanley George STANBURY, D.S.O., D.F.C. (41808), Royal Air Force.

C.B.E. Supplement to the London Gazette: 1 January 1963.

Group Captain Clive Stanley George STANBURY, D.S.O., D.F.C., A.F.C., Royal Air Force.

Aide-de-Camp to the Queen: London Gazette August 1963.

GroupCaptainC.S.G. Stanbury, C.B.E., D.S.O., D.F.C.,A.F.C., has  been appointed an Aide-de-Camp to the Queen in succession to Group CaptainW.D. Hodgkinson, C.B.E., D.F.C., A.F.C., on the latter’s promotion to Air Commodore.

The following are extracts from original newspaper features on Stanbury:

“R.A.F. Officer Clive Stanbury, who was once a pupil at Holywell School, Tawstock, has been appointed Aide-de-Camp to the Queen. He holds the C.B.E., D.S.O., D.F.C. and A.F.C. and during the war was dropped by parachute on 36 secret missions, working with underground movements in France, Yugoslavia and Greece.”

“Man Of Secrets To Fly Over The Pole – Wing Commander Stanbury joined the R.A.F. in 1939. Some of his wartime adventures are still secret. One that can be told is about a Wellington belonging to his squadron that came down 200 miles behind German lines in the Western Desert. The crew escaped and Stanbury decided to try to recover the plane. With a volunteer crew he drove through the German lines in a captured German lorry, carrying undercarriage equipment. They reached the damaged plane, repaired it and flew off just as the Germans were approaching. Later he volunteered for ‘cloak and dagger’ work and was dropped by parachute 36 times. He operated from a secret North African base which was linked with the Maquis in France, the Yugoslav partisans and the underground movement in Greece.”

 “As a pilot of 70 Squadron he made one of the most thrilling of his 16 parachute descents – one night in 1942 he was dropped behind enemy lines in North Africa. He returned some time later in a Wellington bomber which he had recaptured from the Germans.”

“Clive Stanbury, a 29 year old Londoner, is the first R.A.F. pilot who is also a paratrooper to visit America officially. His lectures will concentrate on his share in carrying supplies to Tito and to the French Maquis, in the course of which work he made 16 jumps.”

Clive Stanley George Stanbury was born in Camberwell, London on 23 Dec 1915.

His colourful career began with service with No. 70 Squadron and saw his talents recognised, rising from the rank of Pilot Officer to Squadron Leader in 1943, specifically, Commanding Officer of Special Duties No. 624 Squadron in December of that year.

Two days after D-Day, Stanbury piloted the paratroop drop of U.S. Office of Strategic Services Special Operational Group personnel (forerunner of the U.S. Special Forces) for Operation Emily and subsequently Operation Ruth and Operation Nancy; all three in 1944.

“Wing Commander Stanbury DSO, DFC, the Officer Commanding 624 Squadron subsequently dropped the first Operational Groupof men into France on the 8 June. The reference OGrelates to the USA OSS teams deployed from North Africa. They were specialist personnel performing very similar roles to the British SAS behind the enemy lines. This team of men were operating under the code name of Emilyand consisted of fifteen men, all of which were operating in military uniform. The close association with these specialist troops is evidenced by the individual in the 624 Squadron photograph from 1944 sitting close to W/C Stanbury and wearing the USA metal parachute wing”.

Once the US-led invasion of the South of France was undertaken 624 was wound down and its personnel transferred to other SD squadrons.

Post-war he became Chief Instructor of No. 1 Parachute Training School in 1947, with his Air Force Cross Gazetted in the 1954 New Years Honours and Commanding Officer at R.A.F. Laarbruch, Germany in 1960 and finally of Headquarters 2nd Tactical Air Force, 1963. His C.B.E. was Gazetted in the 1963 New Years Honours; the same year Stanbury was appointed Aide-de-Camp to the Queen, succeeding Group Captain W.D. Hodgkinson.

His promotions were :

Flight Pilot Officer 19 Jan 1940,

Flying Officer 25 Nov 1940,

Flight Lieutenant 25 Nov 1941,

Squadron Leader 25 Nov 1943,

Wing Commander 1 Jan 1952,

Group Captain 1 Jan 1958, Group Capt. C.S.G. Stanbury, C.B.E, D.S.O., D.F.C., A.F.C., A.D.C. retired on 19 April 1966.

Incredibly well-decorated with some real ‘blood and thunder’ citations, particularly for the D.S.O. & C. de G., mentioning Rommel & the Liberation of France. With the details of involvement with Tito & the French Maquis after D-Day, this group is certainly historically significant.

It is unusual to find an officer who is both a pilot and a paratrooper,  the group encompasses both RAF & Special Forces aspects, which are both popular in their own rights.

The following taken from internet research …

624 (SD) Squadron.

Documented records of 624 Squadron RAF are very limited due to the secrecy of the work involved. Most orders and instructions were single copy and hand written. Information recorded here is mostly told from the men who served with the “Unsung Heroes of 624”. Due to the span of years of secrecy surrounding these matters, only now is the story starting to unfold. Due to this, accuracy of information may , at times, slightly deviate from how it actually was .This is not due to artistic license but lack of documented proof and use of memories and is aimed to give as accurate account as possible.

1575 (SD) Flight was formed at Royal Air Force Tempsford on 28 May 1943 for Special Operations Executive Duties. At this time it was equipped with 4 Halifax and 2 Ventura aircraft and on 4th June 1943 it transferred to Maison Blanche in North Africa. On 13th June they commenced operations over Corsica with Halifax EB141 piloted by F/Lt Ruttledge  and over Sardinia EB140 piloted by F/Lt Austin who at that time was Commanding Officer.

The maritime section of the flight moved to Blida via Algiers and until September continued Special Duties sorties over Corsica, Sardinia and the Italian mainland.

On 7th  September 1943, all personnel, equipment and aircraft transferred to Blida where 1575 Flight was disbanded and 624 ( SD) Squadron RAF was formed under the command of Wing Commander  C. S. G. Stanbury DSO, DFC. Under the control of North West African Coastal Airforce, operating over Southern France, Corsica and Sardinia.

Operations began using 14 Halifax aircraft. These were a mix of B Mk ll & Mk V. On 21/22 September Halifax’s “G EB188 F/Lt Austin” and “EB196 F/Lt Rutledge” flew sorties dropping an OSS team.

On 2nd October a detachment was moved to an advanced base at Protville Tunisia and commenced operations into Yugoslavia.

On 15th October another detachment of 2 Ground Crews and Halifax E EB197 moved to Malta for operations over Czechoslovakia. E EB197 was later replaced by EB197.

On 16th October the detachment at Protville moved to Sidi Amor Nr Tunis and on 2nd November the rest of the squadron arrived. From here a detachment of 6 Halifax’s was sent to Tocra, Nr Benghazi, Libya.

On 21st November the squadron moved to Brindisi in Southern Italy as part of 334 ( SD ) Wing Mediterranean Allied Air Force. From here it operated over the Balkans and Northern Italy and a detachment of 4 Halifax’s was sent to Blida to operate over Southern France.

By this time the Squadron was operating under extremely difficult conditions. It was under strength in aircrew, aircraft and transport vehicles (even some of those that were in use were in a very poor condition). Even the refueling facilities were limited to one 900 gallon bowser and even this had to be filled by hand at a fuel dump 10 miles away.

Even so during January 1944 , 93 missions were carried out and 72.5% of these were successful.

On 19 February 1944 the squadron returned in full with 18 Halifax’s to Blida to concentrate their efforts on Southern France. During the next few months operations over France increased and between 12 – 14 sorties  per night were flown and on some nights up to 19. The loss rate was fairly low and some operations during May involved a number of paratroop tasks for the USAAF.

On 12 June a signal was received that the squadron was to convert from Halifax to Stirling aircraft and on the 25th these were collected from 144 Maintenance Unit  at Maison Blanche by Wing Cdr Stanbury & F/Lt Fairey and by July there was 8 Stirling MklV in operation whilst continuing to operate the Halifax’s.

On 29th July the first operational drop using a Stirling was carried out with Wing Cdr Stanbury flying LJ938 along with S/Ldr Mawer flying Halifax JP242 dropped two teams of OSS OG over Southern France.

On 13th August the last operation using a Halifax left Blida for an  operation over Southern France. This was  JN896 “R”.This aircraft completed its mission and was lost on its return journey. All members of the crew were presumed dead. They were  F/O Walter George Driscoll , Sgt Edmund Hurst,  F/O Cecil Henry Luxon, F/O Leopold William Neale, W/O William Norman Proctor, P/O Frederick Davidson Laing, F/Sgt Edwin Garnet Lambert and Sgt Norman Soulsby.

On 1st September 5 aircraft left on operations and these were to be the last night operations carried out.

On 4th September ten aircraft were airborne by 0925 hours without incident, and went off to France flying in formation.

All aircraft returned safely to base and landed by 1610 hours. They all made successful drops, and a total of 240 containers were dropped near Cannes. This was the last operational flight before disbandment.

On 5th September the squadron strength was reduced and finally on 24th September 1944 it was deemed that 624 Squadron had completed it’s job and was disbanded. Some of the crews were transferred to 148 (SD) Squadron at Brindisi and some to 138 (SD ) at Tempsford in the UK.

624 was reformed again on 28th December 1944 at Grottaglic under the command of S/Ldr G.M. Gallagher and equipped with Walrus amphibian aircraft. It again became operational in February 1945 as a mine-spotting unit in the Adriatic from Foggia. The squadron  continued in this role flying Walrus, Hawker Hurricane llB and Avro Anson l, from a number of bases in Greece, Italy, Malta and North Africa . However with the war ended in Europe, on November 11th 1945 F/Lt Boucher assumed command of the squadron.

By 25th November 1945 the squadron had been reduced to a single Hurricane & a single Walrus and on 28th November when F/Lt Field took over command his time as Squadron Leader to 624 Squadron only lasted 48 hours as the Squadron was finally disbanded on 30th November 1945.

So much has been written & recorded of many squadrons in books and on film, but never has the story been told of the important job done by these men The Boys of 624. Their work was so secret, even their families did not know where they were or what they were doing. The only person on each flight who knew the exact location of the drop-zone was the navigator, Yet many of them say ( even now ) it was the best squadron they worked with.

Duties included dropping agents & supplies behind enemy lines, flying as low as 200-300ft over mountainous terrain, and even transporting V.I.P.’s. 

About Rebecca Stanbury.

Information supplied by her daughter Sally Anne Barrett:

Florence Rebecca Ransome was born on 19 May 1915 . She was extremely pretty and known as Flo when young , later changing her name to Rebecca and became known as Becky. She had an amazing smile and was nicknamed Dimps by a number of boyfriends (inscriptions found in books and other personal effects).

She trained as a nurse at the West Middlesex hospital (defying her father who thought education for girls a waste) and qualified as an SRN, SCN and Mid wife. In early 1942 she was commissioned into the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service and posted to the Middle East. On the troop ship out to Egypt she became engaged to a member of the aristocracy and arrived in Cairo and billeted on a Nile boat. Shortly afterwards she met Sqn Ldr Clive Stanbury at a party and promptly broke her engagement. She was in charge of a front line battle clearing station attached to the 8th army and was with them through the desert campaigns and later on Italy. She was known as the “Duchess” by her staff and one of the stretcher bearers who was a conscientious objector insisted he remained with her. In April 1943 She met Clive Stanbury again and they were married in Cairo Cathedral on 28 August 1943. They had a 3 day honeymoon in Alexandra and then would not see each other again until after VE day. Clive Stanbury now Wing Commander and DSO, DFC took command of 624 SD Squadron, a secret squadron operating for the SOE and Rebecca remained in the QAIMNS until her discharge in 1945. After her death we found her medals in a brown paper bag which included the Africa Star and the Italian Star. In the mid fifties she worked for the Singapore government at the Tang Tok Seng. Hospital. She was totally fearless, very intimidating but very charming . She continued working until la few years before her death and gave enormous amounts of time to voluntary organisations including 25 years as a volunteer for the Children’s society. She had high standards and was devoted to Clive Stanbury. Her death left him broken hearted and he died 20 months later. An old admirer from the war days traveled 8 hours to attend her funeral!

A truly outstanding career, with significantly more research to be done.