This is part IV of an amazing story.
Last time Sergeant Charles Crozier’s Blenheim crashed.
13 OTU Blenheims (Courtesy of the Aircrew Remembrance Society)
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.
The story continues…
Charles was badly broken up and died on the operating table and the WO/AG was killed outright.”
Charles Crozier, Dorchester, and H D Perrin
(Courtesy of TWGPP)
Welwyn-Norman had been very lucky
Pilot Officer Conquer would not be joining 105 Squadron. In fact he would be spending the next 8 months encased in different varieties of plaster cast. He had in fact been miraculously lucky with a broken right femur and multi-fractured left ankle. However it would keep him out of the war a little longer.
He would find himself shipped from the Radcliffe infirmary at Oxford, to the RAF Hospital at Halton, and then to the RAF Officers Recuperation Centre which was the Palace Hotel in Torquay. It was days after Norman left that the place was bombed by a lone FW190, and
some of the recuperating officers killed. Norman had cheated death again, this time without being in an aircraft.
The bombing of The Palace Hotel Torquay by a lone FW190.
(Courtesy of Devon Heritage)
He was returned to Halton and declared fit, and given a week‟s leave before reporting back to Bicester, to 13 OTU, but not to take up where he left off. It was now July 1942 and he had been classified fit for ground duties for the next 6 months, at least. His lot for six months was to be one of the Station Operations Officers, working shifts 3 days on, one day off.
It would be November before Norman would be before the Central Medical Board in London being declared fit to return to „non-operational‟ aircrew duties within the UK for four months. Eventually he would be returned to Bicester fully operationally fit, perhaps slightly „miffed‟ that even though he had flown as „Staff Nav‟ on the previous two courses he was told he would have to complete this one again. All of it. Such was life. It was now March 1943.
Having completed the elementary navigation courses, again, at 13 OTU it was now time to “crew up”.
In Norman‟s case he chose Hector Goldie, a 33 year old instructor with 2000 flying hours underneath his belt. Norman would later write “he never put a foot wrong in the air, and I had the utmost faith in his flying ability”. Hector was known popularly as “the Baron”, the reason? As to be expected because he looked like a “swarthy” German Baron.
Early in June they were visited at Bicester by none other than Sammy Hoare, Wing Commander Flying, and Chief Instructor of a new OTU, No 60 at High Ercall, being set up-to train pilots for intruder missions, flying not the Blenheim, but Mosquitoes.
Flying Officers Goldie and Conquer were chosen by Sammy Hoare to „attend‟ another course starting from June to September.
It was while at High Ercall Norman made several good friends, several of them WAAFs. One was a lady called Peggy who had a brother flying Mosquitoes; his name was Peter Stokes DFC. His DFC was awarded in the Med with 23 Squadron, and he was an instructor at 60 OTU. Norman would next see her at his funeral, a very sad affair.
His fellow course attendees would become part of 23 Squadron also-Sticky Murphy, Bill Gregory, Phil Russell-so Norman’s and Hector’s stage was set.
Finally on the 4th of October they went to Lyneham to collect their new FBVI, HX813. After more courses they were then set to fly from Portreath on the 24th, first stop Gibraltar. (This particular “Mossie” would last until 09/04/45 when it broke up during a roll 8m SE of Cairo West)
To be continued next week…