CONINGSBY PAYS TRIBUTE TO WARTIME HERO
Officers from RAF Coningsby recently acted as pall-bearers at the funeral service for a decorated RAF veteran, Mr Robert Wareing, on 14th December at Scunthorpe. During the early part of World War Two Mr Wareing flew as part of 106 Squadron from Coningsby. His sequence of operations flying from the station resulted in the awards of two Distinguished Flying Crosses. Originally a Sergeant, he was commissioned with a seniority date of 10 Aug 1940 and joined 106 Squadron as a Pilot Officer in November 1940 when the Sqn was based at RAF Finningley. Flying in a Handley-Page Hampden he undertook his first operation in January 1941 as second pilot, before moving to RAF Coningsby with the Squadron in February of that year. On his eighth mission, 4/5 April 1941, he attacked the German Battlecruiser ‘Scharnhorst’ in Brest Harbour. For his actions that night he received the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), the first ever awarded to a 106 Squadron member.
“One night in April, 1941, this officer was captain of an aircraft detailed to carry out a low level attack on two enemy battlecruisers at Brest. When making his attack, Pilot Officer Wareing came down to 1,000 feet but owing to the darkness he was short of his target. He was immediately met by a terrific anti-aircraft barrage and searchlights. Despite this, he pressed on but was unable to identify his target. Undaunted, however, he decided to make another attack and, regaining height, flew over the target area for about 40 minutes and finally made a successful attack on one of the ships dropping an extremely heavy bomb which was seen to burst either on the ship or on the dockside. This officer displayed great coolness and courage in the face of tremendous opposition.”
His second DFC was awarded in December 1941, probably as a result of the conclusion to his successful, tour with 106 Squadron, with whom he flew on 33 operations. After serving with 106 he was posted to RAF Cottesmore as an instructor. Not much is known about his career during this period although it is safe to say that he continued his fine work as he was twice Mentioned in Dispatches, in June 1943, and January 1944.
By the end of 1943 Wareing was back on the operational scene, flying with the ‘Pathfinders’ as the pilot of a Lancaster in 582 Squadron. He would have flown on many of the most dangerous and costly Bomber Command operations during the first few months of 1944. Following the D-Day landings in June 1944 the RAF was engaged in helping the advance, and on one of these operations on 8 August 1944 attacking a target near Caen, while a pilot of a Lancaster III ‘ND817’, Wareing was shot down and made a prisoner of war. Wareing was held until May 1945 in Stalag Luft 1, a camp near Barth in Germany.
After leaving the RAF Mr Wareing pursued a successful career as an accountant. This gallant gentleman passed away on 26th November 2011 at the age of 94. Station Commander of Coningsby, Group Captain ‘Sammy’ Sampson said, “It was a privilege for RAF Coningsby and in particular the officers who attended, to have been asked by Mr Wareing’s family to help celebrate his life.” He went on, “He was a courageous pilot, and a shining example to the personnel of today’s Royal Air Force”.