This is the war diary of my Grandfather, Gilbert Henry Harnden. Until recently I knew very little about his war time exploits, but in December 2010 a fascinating program called DIG1940 was aired on BBC1. This was at about the same time I had started to read his war time diary and to my surprise the program was about a pilot called Willie Rhodes-Moorhouse, the exact same person my Grandfather was talking about on the page I was reading.

Here is a short clip of DIG1940:

It transpires my Grandfather was a member of 601 Squadron, a squadron consisting of the very well-heeled, not just aristocrats but also sportsmen, adventurers and self-made men. Whilst my Grandfather was unfortunately none of these, it appears he served alongside some of the most famous RAF pilots of his generation and his diary details some fascinating historical moments.

During the war Gilbert was fortunate enough to have his efforts recognised and was awarded the British Empire Medal. This award was made by the King himself at a simple investiture at Duxford on 16th January 1940, which can be seen here at the end of this British Pathe newsreel.


With this site I intend to publish his diary and his photos, which I hope will be helpful to those interested in 601 Squadron, and perhaps learn a little more about the bravery of those who served in World War II.

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Welcome!

  1. Tom says:

    Most absorbing. I am writing a second edition of my book telling the story of 601 Squadron and wish to quote freely from this diary. Will the publisher of Mr.Harnden’s diary please contact me?

  2. Chris says:

    Fascinating stuff – pure gold. I just published a short contribution on the Battle of France and wish I’d seen this first! http://www.finesthourwarbirds.co.uk/blog/battle-of-france/ I’m looking for some specific information on 601 Sqn in 1938 / 39 if anyone can suggest where to look…

  3. Ceri says:

    Having just started cataloguing my Grandfathers war box this was a great find. My Grandfather was the medical officer for 601 Squadron, “Doc” Williams, it was lovely to see him in the group photo I believe I have that in my box of goodies.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s