RAF 166 Squadron

The Story of Cpl. Dennis G. Terry and Lancaster ME746 AS-R2

Dennis Terry

  Managed to join the RAF in 1939 after multiple attempts due to his protected trade as a tool maker. Initial training was undertaken at Hendnesford camp near to the site of the current raceway and on completion attained Airframe Fitter status
(fix everything related to the airframe except engines, munitions and instruments).

  His first posting was in 1940 to 10 Sqdn RAF Leeming where he worked on Whitley bombers. He often recalled how the airfield was ‘beaten up’ by spitfire’s from nearby RAF Catterick with some flying so low between the hangars. While at 10 Sqdn in 1941, he was sent along with other tradesmen and a replacement tail section by road to repair a stranded Whitley bomber and return it to serviceable flight. Dennis recalls “ On arrival at RAF Waddington we were issued with “Temporary Meal Permit” for the airmen’s mess to use once the job was complete. While waiting for the aircrew to fly us back to RAF Leeming I decided to have a look around the hangers, I looked into one hanger via a side door and noticed a yellow marked four engine bomber with a large “P” roundel on it, I was then approached by an armed guard who promptly told me to leave as this hanger was “Out of Bounds”. I realised later when the Lancaster entered RAF service that this aircraft was in fact the Lancaster bomber prototype.”

Dennis visited RAF Waddington in 2008 and returned the meal permit some 67 years late. The pass is now currated in the base museum.

In 1942 he was posted to Canada to the SFTS at RCAF Swift Current servicing Harvards and Oxfords.

On returning from Canada in 1944 he was then posted to 166Sqdn RAF Kirmington as fitter 2A status and made NCO, responsible for
the complete airframe servicing of 'C' Flight.

Lancaster 'V' for Victor
Lancaster 'U' for Uncle
Lancaster 'R' for Roger
'R' for Roger was replaced shortly after he arrived with 'R2' Roger Squared.


  As far as Dennis was concerned Lancaster ME746 -R2 was his aircraft and he made sure that is was kept in top condition. In early 1945 R2 received the DSO after completing 100 operation and Dennis can be seen holding the DSO with F/O Musselman DFC representing both the flight and ground crew’s effort to achieve such a milestone.

ME746
The effort of the ground crews did not go un-noticed with a letter from Wing Commander Vivian of 166 Sqdn congratulating them all on such an achievement (shown below).
ME746 100 Ops
At some time during 1945-6, R2 was sent to Boscombe Down for flight evaluation after it had completed 100 ops and the aircraft received a glowing service report with no faults being found.
After this R2 was one of 166 Sqdn's ‘show off’ aircraft and everything was kept in top condition. In total R2 completed 124 ops and everyone was hand painted by Dennis, R2 was eventually scrapped in 1946

ME746 AS-R2
R2 shown at the completion of operations with P/O Todd – Dennis is 2nd left.
Dennis was asked to stay on in the RAF with improved rank and move to RAF Binbrook, but he chose to leave after fulfilling his duty.

After leaving he received a Commendation from Bomber Command for Good Service which is signed by N.J Bottomly Vice Chief of Staff,
he did not believe that many of these were issued to ground staff.

Dennis Terry Commendation
Dennis passed away peacefully on 6th September 2011 aged 92 years.

He was always passionate about the work that was undertaken by ground crews during WW2 and was always very proud of his achievements.

166 Squadron Emblem