156 Squadron

Chief Technical Officer at Warboys

F/Lt John William Peart Reader at Warboys by his son, Brian Reader

My father was posted to RAF Warboys from 156 Squadron on 11 Nov 1943. He was the Engineering Officer at Warboys but remained on the strength of 156 Squadron, so he alternated between Warboys and Upwood.

warboys - william reader

On 10 Feb 1944 he escorted King George VI around Warboys. As regards the photo of the king’s visit, you can see it’s suffered over the years.  There were others that I remember but my mother unfortunately was not a keeper of anything “OLD”, fortunately she kept this one. 

warboys - william reader with king

My father told me that he was Officer in Charge and Chief Technical Officer of RAF Warboys and the Maintenance Wing Satellite Stations; which included 105, 109, 139 Squadrons, RAF Oakington & RAF Upwood, de Havilland Mosquitos; 83 &  97  Squadrons & Night Training Unit, RAF Wyton, Avro Lancasters; to 1946. 

I remember that he was the Station Entertainment Officer and organised amongst other events a visit to Warboys by the Squadronaires.

There were many parties at our house “Alma” in the village of Warboys. I remember one children’s Christmas party on the station when Group Captain (was he Grp Cpt or Wing Co I’m not absolutely sure as I don’t remember the year, I was only 7 in 1944)
Mahaddie came in and said he was going to start it by firing his pistol which he was wearing as he was on duty. No, he didn’t actually fire it, he just waved it around.  Bit like Captain Mainwaring of Dad’s Army. (I suppose you know that Mahaddie was the procurer of aircraft for the film “Battle of Britain”?)

One night I woke up under the stairs during an air raid, my mother had carried me down stairs; she said my grandfather beat her down there even though he only had one leg!   It was quite noisy as a mobile anti-aircraft gun was set up just in front of the house on the road.

I do remember a night raid on the base which my father said was a Ju88 following in the last planes, and because the base thought that it was someone from another squadron they put the lights on again and he dropped a string of bombs down the runway.  Also my father mentioned one aircraft which blew up on the taxiway when fully bombed up, I think it was a Wellington. 

I also remember going to the end of the road which was closed off by the perimeter fence and waving to the planes as they taxied by on their way to a raid. One tail gunner who my family knew used to wave his handkerchief so we could see it.

One night I slept in my father’s office on the camp as my mother was away and he was on duty.   He took me around and I remember going into a Mosquito and I think a Halifax.

Following is a photo of the Wing Commander’s Lancaster with 25 missions; my father is on the extreme left of the photo.  The one of him at the very top of the page was taken when he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant.

All photographs courtesy of Brian Reader

Warboys Wing Co's Lancaster

Lionel Williams, Pilot, & his Daughter

Page updated: 19 July 2019 – See foot of page for further details.

This is one of the loveliest family photos we have seen of a Pathfinder. This is Lionel Thomas Richard Williams with his daughter, Joy.

T Williams

Lionel Williams was flying with the Pathfinders in 1944-45, and one of his last operations is below. It is possible that he afterwards became 156 Squadron’s adjutant.

Lionel Thomas Williams operation

He survived the war, and went on to fly for BOAC, then for British Airways. His grandson, Owen Gomersall, who sent the photograph, wrote:

He would tell me about his normal pilot days, but always said that the bombing part of his life was just something that had to be done.

Page updated: 19 July 2019

Message from Graham Williams, 3 June 2019

Dad was only known as “Lionel” in his close family circle (brothers, sisters etc.). Elsewhere he was always known as “Tom.” When he was recruited he was asked for his first name. When he said “Lionel” he was then asked if he had any other names. When he said “Thomas” he was told “Right you’re ‘Tom’ now” and he was always called that by anyone else.

Officially of course the RAF would continue to refer to him as L T Williams. 

Below: image of Tom taken at Moncton in New Brunswick, Canada, almost certainly just after he won his pilot’s wings and shortly before being posted back to the UK. Moncton was the clearing station for all UK aircrew in Canada and the United States.

Photograph courtesy of Owen Gomersall.