This is part III of an amazing story.
Amazing story because I never thought I would be able help Vicki learn about her father-in-law.
Amazing because I knew nothing about The Baron and his navigator Norman Conquer last week.
Amazing because Peter Smith knew nothing about 23 Squadron when his father died back in 2006, and I knew nothing about that RAF squadron in January 2010 when I started searching for a French-Canadian Mosquito pilot who died in a plane crash on October 21, 1947.
Amazing because I am not even related to Eugene Gagnon nor Peter Smith.
Amazing because I wrote everything I now know on this blog about 23 Squadron.
So without further ado…
Here is Hector Goldie again with his navigator Norman Conquer.
Norman Conquer was one of the Squadron’s senior Navigators. We see him again in the yellow rectangle when he was with Gunnery Squad.
Norman Conquer, far right second row “Gunnery Squad”
(Courtesy of Norman Conquer)
The story continues…
Norman was informed that he was to be commissioned on the 24th August, and after two weeks leave, with a log book recording 52 operational flights and a total of 87 hours was to be posted to an Operational Training Unit, flying the Mark IV Blenheim.
So, September 1941 would see Pilot Officer Conquer at his new Station, No 13 OTU at Bicester.
No. 13 OTU at RAF Bicester (Courtesy of RAF Bicester).
He was crewed up with pilot Sergeant Charles Crozier who was the “granddaddy” of the course at 26. The pilots had already completed all their training, and the function of the OTU was to get all aircrew acclimatised to “type”, in this case the Blenheim.
13 OTU Blenheims (Courtesy of the Aircrew Remembrance Society)
At this point with their experience, and due diligence, the course was more of a formality and within a month they were posted, not to No 2 Group as they thought, but to North Africa to 105 Squadron, flying Blenheim V‟s, the “Bisley”.
Their last flight before posting at the OTU was low level practice formation exercise. During the flight the three airman’s craft, Blenheim Z5800, suffered engine failure and they flew straight into a tree at 200 MPH near Bloxham.
To be continued… on Monday.
Meantime, this is a little edited version I did using the Movietone video on 23 Squadron.
Hector and Norman did a little cameo appearance in the movie.