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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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23rd November 1941 615 Squadron Hurricane IIb Z5078 Sq/Ldr. Gillam

Operation: Ramrod XII

Date: 23rd November 1941 (Sunday)

Unit: No. 615 Squadron (motto: Conjunctis viribus - 'By our united force'). 11 Group

Type: Hurricane IIb

Serial: Z5078

Code: KW-?

Base: RAF Manston

Location: English Channel

Pilot: Sq/Ldr. Denys Edgar Gillam 37617 RAF Age 26. Safe


During a 'Ramrod' he was shot down by anti-aircraft fire. The pilot baled out into the sea but was quickly rescued by Air Sea Rescue Launch. (Ramrod was the RAF term for bomber operations intended to induce Luftwaffe fighters into action for British fighter escorts to attack.)

Previous incidents:

02nd September 1940: Flying Spitfire I X4181 with 616 Squadron. During a patrol shot down by the rear gunner of a Me110 and baled out over Tonbridge Wells, Kent. pilot safe.

17th October 1941: Flying Hurricane II with 615 Squadron. During armed recce was hit and wounded by flak over Zeebrugge. Managed to return to base. Safe but aircraft suffered category 2 damage. Some details here.

DFC citation 12th November 1940:

'This officer has been responsible for the destruction of seven enemy aircraft and probably of four more, and has damaged six. On one occasion during a combat with a large force of Messerschmitt 110's, he shot one down and his own aircraft caught fire. He descended by parachute and returned to his station in time to lead the next patrol. On another occasion Flight Lieutenant Gillam shot down a Junkers 88 and landed within eleven minutes from the time he took off'.

Bar to DFC Citation 21st October 1941:

'Recently this officer's squadron has carried out 24 sorties against enemy shipping in which 11 ships were destroyed, 5 were left burning and 18 were damaged. Squadron Leader Gillam led the squadron on 10 of these missions and displayed outstanding courage and enthusiasm, taking every opportunity to seek and destroy enemy vessels'.

DSO Citation 12th December 1941:

'This officer has led the squadron with conspicuous success against enemy shipping which, escorted by armed ships, were passing through the Straits of Dover. He has participated in every attack and has displayed fine leadership and enterprise. Throughout, Sq/Ldr. Gillam has displayed great daring and he has set a magnificent example which has undoubtedly contributed materially to the notable successes achieved'.

DSO Bar Citation 23rd January 1945:

'Since being awarded a bar to the DSO, Group Captain Gillam has completed more than 80 sorties, involving attacks on enemy troop and tank concentrations, ammunition stores, locomotives and other targets on the ground. Within recent weeks, he has led formations of aircraft against several important and heavily defended targets. These missions called for a high degree of skill and resolution and the success achieved is a splendid tribute to this officer's outstanding leadership and ability. He has set an example of a very high order'.

Air Vice Marshall Brown, Group Captain Denys Edgar Gillam (C/O 146 Wing), and His Royal Highness King George V, inspecting 146 Wing.

Burial and personal details:

Born on the 18th November 1915 in Tynemouth, Northumberland. Son of Thomas Henry James Gillam (died 26th May 1947) and Doris Gillam (née Homfray - born 16th March 1890, died 05th May 1988). Pilot licence obtained in 1934, joining the RAF in 1936. In June 1938, Gillam received the AFC for flying food to Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland in very hazardous conditions in a Westland Wapiti. First wife Nancye Short died. After the death of his first wife, he married Irene Scott in March 1983.

Also served with Meteorological Flight at Aldergrove, 312 (Czechoslovak) Squadron, 306 (Polish) Squadron, commanded 615 Squadron, commanded Typhoon Wing, No 12 Group, Fighter Command, commanded 146 Wing, 2nd Tactical Air Force, RAF in GB and North West Europe. He passed away on the 09th July 1991 age 75 at Ryedale, North Yorkshire.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to sources as quoted below:

Battle of Britain Database

KTY 31-10-2021

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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