Friday, October 31, 2014

WW2 | 1.The Boissevain Clan (Updated July 9, 2016)

"No regret for the past.
No fear of the future."
The following is the first chapter of a book on the Boissevains before 1940 and During WW2.

My grandmother Olga Boissevain's family were Huguenots – French Protestants who followed John Calvin's doctrine of predestination, changing the status of business people from one of toleration to one of divine grace.

This was naturally an attractive religion for business people in France, who had been pilloried by the Catholic Church for having become too rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Boissevains originally lived in Bergerac in the Dordogne, France but had to leave because the Catholic king Louis XIV became uneasy at the growth of Huguenot power.

The Boissevains Escape and Some Go to Holland

No one, of course, would leave the gorgeous Dordogne area voluntarily. They had to be ejected. The Boissevains were booted out, a minority within France that was no longer welcomed.

The name Boissevain comes from the boxwood tree (Buxus) that is common in the Dordogne. In that part of the world, one tree means in front of the house means "Go Away”. Two trees means “Come and Go as You Please”. Three trees together means “Welcome”.

The first of the Boissevain clan was Lucas Bouyssavy (1660-1705), who made his Roman name into a more French name by changing it to Boissevain. He was a French Calvinist, who were called Huguenots because of an early leader named Hugues.

 After the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV in 1685, Lucas escaped to Holland in 1688, hiding among wine barrels in the hold of a ship from Bordeaux to Amsterdam. He began his life as an immigrant by teaching subjects like bookkeeping, French and architectural drafting. He kept the faith, attending the Walloon (francophone) church in Amsterdam.

Calvin went beyond Martin Luther in objecting to an anti-business bias in Roman Catholic doctrine. He built on preachings of St. Augustine to develop a doctrine of predestination, in which worldly wealth is a sign of divine favor. For from being an obstacle to entering the Kingdom of Heaven, wealth was a sign of the elect.

With this wind in their sails, the Huguenots were successful in France, and at their height they accounted for half of the nobility and half of the artisans. But the Catholic Church fought back:
  • In 1534, the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) was created by Spaniard St. Ignatius of Loyola, as a counter-Reformation group with a military-style organization, reporting directly to the Pope.
  • In 1572, to end a French civil war between Catholics and the Protestant Huguenots, Catherine de' Medici, wife of Henry II, called Huguenot leaders to Paris on St. Bartholomew's Day, ostensibly for peace negotiations. She then had all of these leaders massacred in their beds during the night.
  • In 1685, Louis XIV became impatient with the Huguenots' mobilizing an "armed political party" (William Langer, Encyclopedia of World History, 1948, p. 386) under the protection of a promise of religious freedom by Henry IV. Louis revoked  this promise, the Edict of Nantes. 
After the Revocation of the Edict, the Huguenots fled France. This damaged the country's economy and contributed to the unrest that erupted into the French Revolution. The New Catholic Dictionary (1929, p. 321) says it all:
The results of the Edict's being revoked were disastrous for France.
The Boissevain family well remembers its history of religious persecution, not least and the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. This has meant - as in many other families that have faced persecution - the family retains a core value of fighting for justice, and a consciousness of the cost of this value. The Huguenot religious beliefs have been diluted and modified through shifts to a more secular society as well as  conversions and marriages (my mother, for example, converted to Catholicism). The core family value is expressed in the Boissevain motto
Ni regret du passé, Ni peur de l’avenir.  No regret for the past, because its costs are the price we must pay. No fear of the future, because we are here to face forward.
The Boissevain Family in Holland

Charles and Emily Boissevain proudly pose with their six
daughters, at Drafna c. 1910, before the wood was painted white.
Back row (L to R): Olga, Emily, Charles, Hester.
Front row: Mary, Hilda, Nella, Teau.
The Boissevains in Holland begin with Lucas Bouyssavy (1660-1705), who made his Roman name into a more French name by changing it to Boissevain.

After the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV in 1685, Lucas escaped to Holland in 1688, hiding among wine barrels in the hold of a ship from Bordeaux to Amsterdam. He began his life as an immigrant by teaching subjects like bookkeeping, French and architectural drafting. He kept the faith, attending the Walloon (francophone) church in Amsterdam.

Through the church he met Marthe Roux, who escaped with her mother and sister in a hay wagon in 1686. Marthe Roux's mother kept her daughters quiet even when soldiers at the border stuck their bayonets into the hay. Marthe's mother was stuck in the leg but was soundless, even having the presence of mind to wipe her blood off the bayonet with her skirt. Of such stuff were the Boissevain women made. No wonder they were leaders in the woman suffrage movement in Holland.

She and Lucas married in 1700 and had a son Jeremie Boissevain (1702-1762), who continued his father's business of teaching drafting and English, and worked as a bookkeeper. He had a son Gideon Jeremie Boissevain (1741-1802), who was a merchant and accountant (bookhoeder). He had a son Daniel Boissevain (1772-1834), who became a ship-owner, living in the middle of Amsterdam on the Herengracht. He married a socially prominent woman and they had 14 children, including five males from whom most of the other Boissevains in the world appear to be descended (the others descend from Daniel's brother Henri Jean Boissevain).

The Boissevains in Holland did well with their Huguenot appetite for commerce. They were involved in seagoing activities - Dutch Navy admirals, shipping magnates, sea rescue directors, shipbuilding, and banking. The family was extremely musical and creative, and generated not only Bankers and Boaters, but Bohemians as well. The Boissevains were a major force for the creation of the concert hall (Concertgebouw) in Amsterdam. I heard this from my mother and from a Dutch relative who was close to her, the late Sacha Boissevain (see February 2010 post).

Emily Heloise MacDonnell Boissevain and her five sons, c 1910.
L to R, seated, front row: Charles E. H., Emily, and Alfred.
Standing: Jan Maurits, Eugen and Robert (all three went to USA).
The eldest of the five children of Daniel Boissevain was Gideon Jeremie Boissevain (1796-1875). He married three times, the second time to a van Lennep. All of his eight children who survived infancy were by his third wife Maria van Heukelom. Of the eight, the three most prolific were:

The Jantjes - Boaters and Bankers

Jan Boissevain (1836-1904, NP p. 52) was  the fifth child of Gedeon and was a Boater and Banker. My mother used to call his nine children and their descendants the Jantjes (little Jans). The term is formally identified in the Dutch Boissevain Foundation Bulletin. The Jantjes were very important in the Dutch Resistance in World War II.
  • His third child Charles Daniel Walrave Boissevain was a Boater, going from the Dutch Navy to serve as Consul-General to Canada (1866-1944, NP p. 55); his son Jan "Canada" Boissevain was born in Montreal, hence the nickname; Jan Canada's sons Gi and Janka were leaders of the armed resistance. 
  • His seventh child, Petronella Johanna Boissevain, married Adriaan Floris ("Aat") van Hall (1870-1959, NP p. 54), and their children included the Dutch Resistance leader Walraven van Hall. Aat van Hall's twin brother Floris Adriaan ("Floor") van Hall died during the early part of World War II,  and Aat was named as his executor.
The Charletjes

Charles Boissevain (1842-1927, NP p. 67), sixth child of Gedeon, was a Bohemian, publisher of the leading Dutch newspaper and, for some years, the most popular journalist in Holland, writing a column called Van Dag Tot Dag ("From Day to Day"). He married an Anglo-Irish woman, Emily Heloise MacDonnell, in 1867. His original first name was Karel, the Dutch version of Charles. But since he married an Irish girl, Emily Heloise MacDonnell (1844-1931), whom he met when covering the International Exhibition of 1865, he anglicized his name to Charles. He got sick while at the Exhibition, and Emily's parents brought him home to recover. Emily looked after him and they fell in love.

The MacDonnells came from Scotland in the 15th century. Colla MacDonnell settled in Tynekill Castle and was provided with gallowglasses (government soldiers) to keep order. They were powerful people in the county. My nephew Christ Oakley has visited what is left of Tynekill. James MacDonnell unfortunately forfeited the property and privileged position that Colla had acquired by rebelling against the British King in 1641. After that the MacDonnells had to have a profession or a government appointment. Richard MacDonnell (1787-1867) was Provost of Trinity College Dublin from 1852 until his death. He married Jane Graves, daughter of the Very Rev. Richard Graves who was descended from Duc Henri de Montmorency, executed in France in 1652. One of Richard MacDonnell's sons, Hercules Henry Graves MacDonnell (1819-1900) married Emily Anne Moylan in 1842, eloping to be wed by the blacksmith of Gretna Green - their second child was Emily MacDonnell. Emily Moylan (1852-1883) was the only child of Denis Creagh Moylan (1794-1849) and Mary Morrison King, who was the out-of-wedlock daughter of George, Third Earl of Kingston, who can be traced back to John of Gaunt and Edward III.

Charles was outspoken and liberal. He took the side of the Boers against British aggression in a book-length "Letter to the Duke of Devonshire" and upset his wife's relatives in Ireland. When Emily tried to defend the British, her daughters called her a Rooinek ("Redneck"), which is what the Boers called the British soldiers. Charles never seemed to have enough money, certainly not enough to match his vanity, but with he help of occasional inheritances they brought up eleven children in style. The Bohemians among the Boissevains never seemed to match the affluence of the Banker-Boaters like Jan, and the women among the Bankers were occasionally scandalized by the behavior of the Bohemians.

Charles and Emily had 11 children and they and their descendants are called the Kareltjes or Charletjes (little Charleses). The Boissevain Foundation Bulletin spells it Charles-tjes, but the English language avoids having three consonants in a row and I am spelling it the way my mother did, without the hyphen:
  • His eldest son, Charles Ernest Henri Boissevain (1868-1940, NP p. 69) married a famous Dutch suffragist Maria Barbera Pijnappel (one of many suffragists in the family); they had ten children of whom the third was Robert Lucas Boissevain, who was bankrupted by the Nazis and became a Dutch Resistance leader. In a house in Haarlem owned by his wife's recently deceased uncle Aat (Floris Adriaan van Hall), he lodged himself, his wife, six children (including one hiding from the forced-labor razzia), plus four Jewish hideaways. 
  • The third daughter, Olga Emily Boissevain (my grandmother), married a naval officer, Bram van Stockum.  They had a daughter, Hilda van Stockum, and two sons. The middle son, Willem van Stockum, worked with Einstein, volunteered to be a bomber pilot, and was killed in his sixth bombing mission over France during the week of D-Day (a book was written about him in 2014, Time Bomberby Robert Wack, a U.S. Army major and pediatrician).
  • The fourth daughter, Hilda Boissevain was born July 12, 1877. She was the younger of the middle two girls among the Charletjes.  The first two of Charles’ daughters, Mary and Hester (Hessie) made conventional marriages, with no interest in higher education. The second two–Hilda and Olga–were interested in higher education but had to fight for it. The third set of two, Nella and Teau, both went on to university without thinking twice about it. Hilda married Hendrik (“Han”) de Booy, from a long line of Dutch naval officers, including some vice-admirals, bonding with the Boaters among the Boissevains. In 1929-31, when Hilda van Stockum was in Amsterdam studying art, she stayed with the de Booy family and painted the portrait of their daughter Engelien. Han became the head of the Dutch Lifeboat Company, a sea-rescue organization. He also worked for the Amsterdam Concertgebouw as an officer, during which time his brother-in-law Charles E. H. Boissevain stepped off the Board to avoid a conflict of interest. The de Booys had four children: (1) Hendrik Thomas (Tom) de Booy, b. December 26, 1898, who married Ottoline Gooszen and followed his father as Secretary, then Director of the Dutch Lifeboat Company. (2) Alfred de Booy, b. May 29, 1901, married Sonja van Benckendorff, from Byelarus, the daughter of a landowner near Bakou. (3) Olga Emily de Booy, b. March 14, 1905, married John Gottlieb van Marle and they had three children (some cousins of the van Marles were active in the Resistance). (4) Engelina ("Engelien") Petronella de Booy, b. June 17, 1917 as mentioned was a friend of my mother Hilda van Stockum; she married Dr. Marcus Frans Polak at the beginning of the war and thereby saved his life because he was Jewish and would have been deported if not married to her. After the war they were divorced because he couldn’t carry the burden of knowing she saved his life. But, Engelien says, they remained very good friends to the end of their lives. [See also]
Hester and the den Texes

Hester Boissevain den Tex (1842-1914, NP p. 49), twin of Charles, married Nicolaas Jacob den Tex in 1866. They had ten children, one of whom married a Boissevain cousin!


Benoit, Histoire de l'Edit de Nantes (5 vols., Delft, 1693);

Browning, History of the Huguenots (London, 1840); PUAUX, Histoire de la Reformation francaise (7 vols., Paris, 1859);

Coignet, L'evolution du protestantisme francais au XIX siecle (Paris, 1908);

Encyclopedie des sciences religieuses, ed.

de Beze, Histoire ecclesiastique des eglises reformees au royaume de France (2 vols., Toulouse, 1882).

de la Tour, Les Origines de la Reforme (2 vols. already issued, Paris, 1905-9).

Dégert, Antoine. (1910). "Huguenots."  The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Co. Retrieved Dec. 14, 2015 from New Advent:

Encyclopedia Bitannica, 11th ed., 1910. "Huguenots.

Laval, Compendious History of the Reformation in France (7 vols., London, 1737);

Lichtenberger, Paris, 1877-82), s.v.; HAAG, La France protestante (10 vols., Paris, 1846; 2nd ed. begun in 1877); Bulletin de l'histoire du protestantisme francais; Revue chretienne;

Smedley, History of the Reformed Religion in France (3 vols., London, 1832);

Other Chapters

The above post is a draft of Chapter 1 of a book. The other chapters are listed with links in The Boissevain Family in the Dutch Resistance, 1940-45

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Causes of the Great Depression (Comments)

The red bars are the years of GDP
decline, i.e., recession/depression.
The Depression started August 1929.
Martin Kelly is a high school teacher who posts under useful summaries about different eras in American history. Sort of, "What Every High School Graduate Should Know about American History."

It is important in a democracy that all voters understand their history.

Kelly recently posted on "The Causes of the Great Depression". Understanding the causes of the Depression is important so that we will avoid repeating the mistakes we made in the 1920s.

Since I am working on a biography of FDR's first Treasury Secretary, William H. Woodin, I was especially interested in his report. Woodin took the brunt of the initial Federal response to panic that greeted FDR's arrival in Washington. I believe the stress killed him. He resigned for health reasons at the end of 1933 and died not much more than a year after FDR took office.

I think some of Kelly's statements in his first two "Causes" about the timing of the Depression and the timing of bank failures are erroneous. I looked for a place to send him a correction but I could not find an email contact on his web site.

So I am posting my concerns here in an effort to spread truth and correct error. Americans should remember the facts about their history correctly. I'm expecting that this will in time reach him and perhaps he will make some changes. He lists other causes, but these are the first two and I will limit myself to them.

Cause #1 - The "Stock Market Crash of 1929"

Kelly considers the stock market crash of October 1929 as the first cause of the Great Depression. Here are his words:
1. Stock Market Crash of 1929 Many believe erroneously that the stock market crash that occurred on Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929 is one and the same with the Great Depression. In fact, it was one of the major causes that led to the Great Depression. Two months after the original crash in October, stockholders had lost more than $40 billion. Even though the stock market began to regain some of its losses, by the end of 1930, it just was not enough and America truly entered what is called the Great Depression.
The Depression of 1929-1933 ended with FDR's
New Deal. The Recession of 1937-1938 resulted
from a weakening of the New Deal. The
run-up to World War II revived GDP in 1938.
My Comment: The Bureau of Economic Analysis at the U.S. Department of Commerce has kept track of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) since after World War II. GDP is a measure of all goods and services produced during a year.

Business cycles are dated by an independent Business Cycle Dating Committee, also known as the Wise Men although it is not restricted to men. It reports through the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The Committee dates the Great Depression by two declines in GDP.
  • The first was August 1929 (or more broadly the third quarter of the year) through March 1933 (the first quarter), lasting three years and seven months. Starting with the arrival of FDR, the economy was recovering from the 26.7 percent decline in the economy.
  • The second was the recession from May 1937 (second quarter) to June 1938 (second quarter), when the economic decline was a serious 18.2 percent. This was precipitated by lower profits and tight fiscal and monetary policies.  
So... the misleading statements in Cause #1 in Kelly's post I think include the following:
  • The stock market crash occurred two months after the Depression started. Since the Depression started before the crash, something else was at work.
  • America did not enter the Great Depression at the end of 1930, but 18 months earlier.
  • The crash of the New York Stock Exchange is not a cause of anything except through the opinions of investors, of which it is simply an indicator. The cause of the Depression must be sought in the high value placed on stocks in the late 1920s, and the reason for the high level of speculation, i.e., borrowed money. The reliance of investors on debt subject to margin calls increased the riskiness of the stock market and added to the intensity of the revaluation of stock prices.
  • The $40 billion loss by investors in two months doesn't sound like a lot in today's stock market. It would be more meaningful to say that the 1929 high value of all stocks on the New York Stock Exchange was $87 billion and this valuation fell to $19 billion in 1933 - a drop of 78 percent. More than three-fourths of the value of listed stocks was wiped out.
Cause #2 - Bank Failures

Part of the problem that created the Great Depression is the instability of the banking system and therefore of the stock market that depended on it and the national economy that depended on both.
2. Bank Failures Throughout the 1930s over 9,000 banks failed. Bank deposits were uninsured and thus as banks failed people simply lost their savings. Surviving banks, unsure of the economic situation and concerned for their own survival, stopped being as willing to create new loans. This exacerbated the situation leading to less and less expenditures.
Bank failures virtually ended in 1933 with passage of the
Glass-Steagall Act, which created federal insurance of bank
deposits (via the FDIC) and, as a price for that, separated
banking from more speculative financial activities.
My Comment: The problem here in making bank failures the cause of the Depression is  the timing. The Depression is dated 1929-1933, with many of the failures being imposed by the Treasury at the end of the period.

There were bank failures in 1925, but then none until 1930. The underlying problem was the belief by depositors that they should be able to convert their deposits into gold or currency without limit.

Printing greenback dollars that were not backed by gold or silver was no longer controversial. It was problematic when Lincoln did it to pay the Union Army, but by 1929 paper dollars were well established.

However, in the 1920s, depositors were still of the belief that some or all of their deposits were backed by gold or silver. Some of the dollars were marked "gold certificates" with a yellow color on a part of the bill to indicate their special status.

Some depositors still believed that if they asked for it they would be entitled to redemption of their money in gold. In fact, what started to happen in the 1920s and especially in the early 1930s is that banks could not redeem demand deposits even with paper money. They were out of cash. Some were insolvent but others were only illiquid.

The fear that a bank could fail and depositors could lose their money was a basic underlying flaw in the banking system, leading to "runs on banks".

But here in a nutshell is what is wrong with what Kelly said about bank failures as a cause of the Depression:
  • Bank failures were not the cause of the Depression - they were a symptom of problems in the banking system that contributed to the Depression. As Warren Buffett has said: "Only when the tide goes out do you find out who is not wearing a bathing suit.”
  • Bank failures did not occur "throughout the 1930s". They occurred mostly before FDR was inaugurated in March 1933. The banks that were closed by the Treasury's Comptroller of the Currency were already insolvent.
  • Bank deposits were uninsured only until 1933. But starting in 1933, the Glass-Steagall law created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, insuring most deposits and virtually ending bank closings. In 1934, only 57 banks closed, and after that the FDIC's guarantee and oversight was enough.
The year 1933 was crucial. Withdrawals of paper money and gold from banks occurred in February 1933 at three times the previous rate of $5 million per day. That month, Louisiana declared a bank holiday, and then Michigan did the same, closing the banks for eight days. By the day that FDR took office, 400 more banks closed. In the month before the inauguration, $320 million was withdrawn, and most of it $226 million, was withdrawn in the last week.

On Inauguration Eve, March 4, 1933, after meeting with outgoing Treasury Secretary Ogden Mills and staff, Will Woodin contacted New York Governor Herbert Lehman through the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and persuaded him to agree to a bank holiday starting the next day. Lehman made the announcement at at 4:20 a.m.

The measures taken by FDR and Treasury Secretary Woodin, starting with, on March 5, the imposition of a three-day national bank holiday, and measures to stop the export and hoarding of gold. Woodin personally supervised printing more dollars in three shifts. The bank holiday was extended to March 13, and Woodin made it a priority that the Comptroller of the Currency performed stress tests quickly so that the healthy banks could be reopened.

These measures restored calm. Confidence returned. The public began putting their money back in the banks. The country returned to a growth in its GDP. Barnard Professor Raymond Moley, leader of FDR's brains trust and the man who recruited Will Woodin to work for FDR, said:
If ever there was a moment when things hang in the balance, it was on March 5, 1933 - when unorthodoxy would have drained the last remaining strength of the capitalist system. Capitalism was saved in eight days, and no other single factor in its salvation was half so important as the imagination and sturdiness and common sense of Will Woodin.  (Moley, After Seven Years, NY: Harper, 1939, Chapter V, p. 155.)

Monday, October 13, 2014

October 14 - William's Norman Army Wins Battle of Hastings, 1066

Harold II is said to have been killed, in this panel from the
Bayeux Tapestry, by William the Conqueror. But was he?
This day in 1066 William the Conqueror defeated the English at the Battle of Hastings. He had set off for England from Bayeux, so that's where a tapestry was made celebrating his victory. It's now a major tourist attraction in Normandy. (I visited the week of the 70th anniversary of D-Day with Alice Tepper Marlin and the Rex Hendersons from Australia.)

It looks a lot like a comic strip, maybe the oldest surviving one, and surely the longest one on public display.

One scene of the Bayeux Tapestry shows the death of King Harold II of England (Harold Rex Interfectus Est - King Harold Is Killed.). Some new scholarship suggests that this might not have happened then, and that Harold lived on, perhaps "on condition of anonymity" or in what we might today call a Witness Protection Program.

What interests me especially is how the history of Britain depends so much on what happened militarily after the 10th century, and how the split between northern and southern Britain has such deep roots. During the 10th century, the individual kingdoms within southern England - south iof the Trent is the usual dividing line - unified under the rule of Wessex into the Kingdom of England, which opposed the Danelaw, the Viking kingdoms established from the century before in northeastern England.
  • Ethelred II had a very long reign (978-1016, 38 years), but  he is called "Ethelred the Unready" because he was defeated in  by Danish King Sweyn, who invaded in 1013. However, Sweyn died a year later and Ethelred II climbed back onto the throne for two more years.
  • In 1015, Sweyn's son King Canute launched a new invasion. Ethelred's successor, Edmund Ironside, said "Hey, wait a minute, why don't we just divide the place up?" Smart move. 
  • That's what they did, Canute in the north and Edmund in the south. However, Edmund died in 1016, so England was reunited under Danish rule for the next 26 years.
  • However, in 1042 Harthacanute, son of Canute and Ethelred II's widow Emma of Normandy, died without an heir. 
  • So he was succeeded by his half-brother, Ethelred II's son, Edward the Confessor. He is considered the last of the Wessex kings, since his successor was in office only a few months. He had few rivals for the throne, so the Wessex Kingdom of England was free of foreign domination for 24 years, though not without challenge. Edward's Norman sympathies annoyed Godwin of Wessex, whose daughter Edith Edward married in 1045.  In 1050-52, Godwin assembled an army against Edward and Edward banished him. He may initially have named William, Duke of Normandy as his heir. Increased Norman influence brought Godwin back. Edward named Harold to lead the army as the king's deputy and probably named him heir on his deathbed. Edward died in 1066 and was buried in the Westminster Abbey that he built in the Norman style. 
In September 1066, William of Normandy left France with 600 ships and possibly as many as 10,000 men. They landed at Pevensey, in Sussex, and marched along the coast to Hastings. Harold II was pinned down in the north fighting off his brother and an army of Vikings. When he heard of William's invasion, he hurried his army south to a ridge about 10 miles northeast of Hastings. William sent his army to attack Harold, with archers in front, then infantrymen, and knights in the rear.

The Normans suffered early casualties, and twice pretended to retreat, luring out English troops from their defenses. Harold II was reported as being killed, which so demoralized the English army that they dispersed. The Norman victors moved on to London, where William I was crowned king on Christmas Day. William went to Berkhamsted Castle to accept the allegiance of the Saxon nobles.

Other stories about France: The Matisse Chapel (Vence)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

RAF No. 10 Squadron to Celebrate Its Centennial in 2015

The 10 Squadron Halifax Mark II, Series 1 at RAF Leeming, December 1941 - 
the plane flown by the two RAF crews shot down over Laval, June 10, 1944.
The No. 10 Squadron of the Royal Air Force will be 100 years old on January 1, 2015.

The No. 10 has been repurposed throughout the last century from observation to bombing, transport and aerial refueling.

During World War II, the No. 10 was a bomber squadron. It lost two Halifax bombers to anti-aircraft fire  over Laval, France on June 10, 1944, four days after D-Day.

One plane was piloted by F/O Henderson, an Australian, the other by a Dutchman who had been teaching at the University of Maryland and was  flying for the Royal Canadian Air Force, F/O van Stockum (subject of the novel Time Bomber). The 14 crew members of the two planes have been memorialized by two monuments outside of Laval unveiled on June 10, 2014, on the 70th anniversary of their deaths.

These two planes were less than 2 percent of the 128 Halifax planes lost by the Squadron during the war's 300 missions. With seven airmen on each plane, that would be 896 flyers killed, or about three per mission. The loss of two planes, 14 crewmen, on one mission would be four times the average.

 The 10th Squadron currently flies the Airbus Voyager, a transport and tanker.

First World War

1915-1919. No. 10 was formed in 1915, as part of the Royal Flying Corps, in 1915 at Farnborough Airfield, Hampshire, UK. It served as a spotter and bomber in France.

1928-1941. In 1928 it was reconstituted as a night bomber unit on Hyderabads at RAF Upper Heyford. It moved to RAF Boscombe Down in 1931 and later on to RAF Dishforth in 1937 to form part of the newly created No. 4 Group of RAF Bomber Command, using including Hinaidis, Vickers Virginias and Handley Page Heyfords.

Second World War 1941-1945

The squadron began in the Second World War as the first unit equipped with the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley.

The squadron remained a part of No. 4 Group throughout the war,re-equipping with the Halifax at the end of 1941.

In mid-July 1940 the squadron moved to RAF Leeming, Yorkshire. In mid-1942 they moved to RAF Melbourne, Yorkshire.

Since World War II

1945-50. No. 10 spent four years with Transport Command, flying Dakotas in India. After a one-year 1947-48 disbandment, No. 10 took over No. 238 Squadron and operated in Europe, taking part in the Berlin Airlift.

1953-1964. No. 10 Squadron reverted to its original bomber role, taking part in the Suez Crisis, equipped upon reformation at RAF Scampton with Martin B-57 Canberras, the first jet planes to drop bombs during combat. After 1968, the squadron was reformed at RAF Cottesmore, flying Handley Page Victors. The squadron's VC10s have also been used to fly the British Royal Family and top government ministers around the world. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair reverted to the VC10 for sensitive flights, such as during his diplomacy to Pakistan and after the 9/11 attacks.

No. 10's Vickers VC-10 C1 in 1977.
1966-2005.The squadron received 14 new Vickers VC10 C1s, which were named after the airmen who had been awarded the Victoria Cross. No. 10 thereby reverted to air transport at RAF Fairford and then RAF Brize Norton. The C1 flew 1,326 sorties during the Gulf War, carrying 50 bombs weighing 1,000 lbs each for the Tornado GR1 force. It took part in most other operations including the 1982 Falklands War and the 2003 war in Iraq.

2011-present. With the closure of RAF Lyneham and the transfer of the RAF's Hercules force to Brize Norton, No. 10 Squadron has been reformed as the first operator of the new Airbus Voyager.