Squadron Leader James Crawford Halley DSO of RAF 502 (Ulster) Squadron was the son of the late Mr and Mrs Halley, Hay Street, Perth. James Halley was educated at Perth Academy and on leaving joined the RAF. He was granted a short service commission and later transferred to the RAFC (Royal Air Force College) at RAF Cranwell.
From 27 January 1941, RAF 502 Squadron were based at RAF Limavady near Derry in Northern Ireland with a detachment at RAF St Eval in Cornwall. They were part of RAF Coastal Command flying patrols in the Atlantic. In January 1939, they were equipped with Avro Ansons and from October 1940, the squadron flew Armstrong Whitworth Whitleys Mk. V and later Mk.VII.
In January 1942, they were stationed at RAF Bircham Newton, Norfolk, with detachments at RAF Docking (just a few miles away), RAF St Eval and RAF Holmsley South in Hampshire. After D-Day, on 14 September 1944, the Squadron was moved to RAF Stornoway.
Halley completed two tours of operational duty. It was reported in the Perthshire Advertiser, 13 November 1943, that ‘officially, he is stated to have set a fine example by his work in the air, in addition to his heavy responsibilities on the ground. The high morale and work of the squadron, whose leadership he assumed, bear testimony to his energy and personality’.
RAF 502 Squadron, on 30 November 1941, possibly became the first Coastal Command unit to make a successful attack on a U-Boat – U-206 – with air-to-surface radar in the Bay of Biscay. Later, it was argued that U-206 had been sunk by the minefield ‘Beech’, laid by the British in August 1940. The U-Boat attacked was probably U-71, which managed to escape.
Halley was the brother of Sub-Lieutenant Robert Halley of the Royal Navy whose wife stayed with her parents, Mr and Mrs Buchan, 47 Wilson Street, Perth. Halley was also the nephew of Group Captain Robert Halley.
ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: COASTAL COMMAND (CH 7043) The second pilot of a No 502 Squadron Whitley VII gives his skipper a helpful push as they climb aboard their aircraft, at the start of an anti-submarine patrol, August 1942. The camera just visible poking out of the hole in the fuselage was used to record the effectiveness of U-boat attacks – a standard F24 camera was mounted vertically and fitted with a mirror to give it a rear-facing view. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205218962
SQUADRON CRESTS AND MOTTOES OF THE R.A.F. (CH 9201) Original wartime caption: (Picture issued 1943) No.502 (Ulster) Squadron: ‘NIHIL TIMEO’ ‘I fear nothing’. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205449021
ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: COASTAL COMMAND (CH 7048) On board a Whitley VII of No 502 Squadron during an anti-submarine patrol, August 1942. In the cramped cockpit the skipper consults with his navigator while the second pilot flies the aircraft. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205218952
THE BRITISH ARMED FORCES IN NORTHERN IRELAND, 1920 – 1980 (HU 107162) Hawker Hinds of No. 502 (Ulster) Squadron in flight from RAF Aldergrove, Northern Ireland. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205259263
ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: COASTAL COMMAND (C 3143) On 17 July 1942 U-751 was attacked and crippled in the Bay of Biscay by a Whitley of No 502 Squadron. This photograph was taken from the Whitley and shows the U-boat disabled, unable to dive and circling, apparently out of control. It was later attacked and sunk by a Lancaster of No 61 Squadron, seconded to Coastal Command. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205218940