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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. G Yates


Gordon Yates was born on 4th June 1921 in Birkenshaw, near Bradford in Yorkshire. He was educated at the local school and after leaving in 1936 he joined his father in the woolsorting trade.

In late 1938 Yates joined the RAF. He reported to Cardington on 23rd January 1939 and after basic training he was posted in March to 3 Wireless School at Yatesbury. On passing out as a wireless operator he went to the Signals Section at RAF Bassingbourn.

He later volunteered for aircrew duties.


Above image courtesy of Stuart Yates (son).



In March 1940 Yates went to 10 BGS Warmwell on a gunnery course, following which he joined 248 Squadron at Gosport in early May as an AC1 Wireless Operator/Air Gunner. Promoted to Sergeant later in the month, Yates served with 248 Squadron at Sumburgh, Wick and Bircham Newton until July 1941, when the squadron converted to Beaufighters. He had by then carried out 70 operational sorties.

In August 1941 Yates joined 53 Squadron as a Flight Sergeant, operating Hudsons from Bircham Newton. He took part in ASR patrols, anti-submarine sorties and bombing attacks on enemy coastal targets, including strikes on the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau at Brest and the submarine pens at Nantes.

In December 1941 half of 53 Squadron joined with half of 59 Squadron and flew 24 Hudson Mk.Vs to Singapore. In January 1942 they arrived at Tengah to become a reformed 62 Squadron. When Singapore fell the remnants of 62 withdrew to Palembang and at the end of February 1942 to Batavia. Here the squadron was strafed by Zeros and lost all its remaining aircraft.

With others Yates made his way to the coast and escaped, finally reaching Colombo in Ceylon.

62 Squadron reformed at Cuttack in June 1943 as 353 Squadron and Yates was serving with it until February 1943, when he joined 160 Squadron at Ratmalana as a supernumerary.

He soon moved to 217 Squadron at Vavuniya. Yates was sent on a course in May 1943 at the Race Course, Colombo. After completing it in September he was posted to an OTU at Peshawar, North-West Frontier for a Vengeance conversion course as WOp/AG/DR Navigator.

He was crewed with a pilot and after extensive dive-bombing and air-to-ground firing practice they joined 110 Squadron at Khumbirgram, Upper Assam for operations on the Imphal and Kohima fronts.

In April 1944 Yates was promoted to Warrant Officer. With its tour of duty completed, the squadron flew to Kalyan, Bombay, where it was split into two.



Yates was posted to Takoradi, West Africa in June 1944 to join the Porton Experimental Unit. He took part in DDT spraying of the bush, a task completed in December, at which time Yates returned to the squadron in the UK.

Staying in the RAF postwar, in June 1945 he went on a Runway Control course at Watchfield. In 1948 Yates was Runway Controller at Lubeck during the Berlin Airlift. He eventually became an Air Traffic Controller and served in the RAF until 7th January 1970 when he retired as a Warrant Officer after 30 years and 350 days of continuous full-time service.

Yates died in 1993.


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