Never Say Die

From Ivan Berryman’s website

This is the title of  a new painting completed earlier this month for Mr Pete Smith of      Northampton. It depicts an heroic action in Mosquito FB.VI RS507, flown by his father In January 1945. My caption for the painting gives just a glimpse of what happened that night:                           

01048 Never Say Die, low res

What must surely be one of WWII’s most extraordinary acts of bravery occurred on the night of 16th/17th January 1945 when F/L T A Smith and F/O A C Cockayne were on an ASH patrol over Stendal. Flying Mosquito FB.VI RS507 (YP-C), they inadvertently stumbled upon the German airfield of Fassberg on their return trip, fully lit up with aircraft taxiing. Taking full advantage of this situation, F/L Smith went straight in to attack, destroying one Bf.109 on the taxiway and another two as they attempted to take off. RS507 received ground fire hits to its starboard engine during the chase down the runway, Smith feathering the prop, but continuing to press home his attack. Knowing that there was no way of saving their aircraft, Cockayne was ordered to bale out, but sadly lost his life in the attempt. F/L Smith fought gallantly to bring his Mosquito down into snow with minimum damage, but the aircraft hit trees before      striking the frozen ground and a furious fire broke out, Smith trapped in the wreckage. Against all the odds, he survived the crash, albeit with terrible burns, and saw out the war as a prisoner of the Germans.                    

It will never cease to amaze me what incredible people these young men were. Mr      Smith very kindly provided me with a very comprehensive file of the squadron’s activities before and after this incident which offers an uncompromising insight into the daily – and nightly – rigours of a front line Mosquito squadron and its young crews in 1945.                    

I am indebted.

Aren’t we are all indebted to Peter?

01058 Day Ranger to Grove, low res

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Boston at Ford 418 Squadron

This picture was sent by Cliff Adams.

Boston at Ford 418 Squadron

He shared a little light on 418 Squadron.

Hi Pierre

It would appear Theodore Griffiths came to 418 as a Sergeant pilot on Boston III’s, was promoted to Flight Sergeant whist with 418 and left as a Flight Sergeant. Notice he transitioned from Boston to Mosquito during that period as his name appears as a Mossie pilot as well. Somewhere in that period of time he learned to fly the Mosquito.

During this period 418 Squadron was moving from Bradwell Bay on the Essex coast to Ford and was transitioning from Boston III aircraft to Mosquitos. I found a picture of a Boston III taken during the time of that transition which I include here. Another Boston III photo from Bradwell Bay is also included FYI

Theodore Griffiths’ DFC must have come after he was promoted to the officer ranks as Sergeant pilots were awarded a DFM (Distinguished Flying Medal) rather than the DFC awarded to officers.

Theodore Griffiths would appear to have a very interesting story to tell!

All the best

 

Cliff

This is the Boston III at RAF Bradwell Bay

RCAF_Boston_at_RAF_Bradwell_Bay_WWII_CH_7211

The 418 call letters were TH.

So on his first patrol Theodore Griffiths flew Boston III TH-L.

before 23 Squadron

Cliff also sent me the ORBs where all the information about Theo’s ops are found.

More on the Boston here and here.

A-20 in Action.

If you like airplanes, click here. 

Mosquitos, click here. Camouflage and markings here.

Theo’s Logbook

Rich sent me the first part of Theo’s precious logbook.

The training days.

cover of logbook

inside cover pages

October 6 1941

October 6th to November 7th 1941

November 10 1941

November 10th to December 9th 1941

December 1941

December 18th to December 31st 1941

January 1942

January 1st to January 31st 1942

February 1942

February 1st to February 9th 1942

April 1942

April 1st to  April 18th 1942

June 1942

June 17th to  June 25th 1942

June-July 1942

June 30th to  July 7th 1942

July 1942-2

July 8th to  July 16th 1942

July 1942-3

July 16th to  July 23rd 1942

We can see Theo was training on an Airspeed Oxford.

RAF Airspeed Oxford

Rich has these documents in Theo’s collection.

books

One day I will ask Rich if he can scan the precious Oxford Handbook to share with all of us.

RCAF 418 Squadron

Here again are the two logbook pages where we can see what Theodore Griffiths did when he was taken on strength with RCAF 418 Squadron.

before 23 Squadron 2

before 23 Squadron

From March 26th through April 16th Theo was training on a Boston III.

bostona65

X-Country, Homings, Local Recco, but mostly N.F.T., Night Flying Training.

First Ops. Rennes where he encountered light flak.

Second Ops. Evreux – St. Andre – Dreux… Not a thing… Two Trains ?

Third Ops. Creil – Cormeilles No Action Doused as ?

The rest of Theo’s operations should be in the next logbook pages. I will ask Rich to send them if he can.

While we are waiting for these pages, here are some links to videos about Boston III.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7J_QZlI4xg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiVMmfpSi4g

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVqImhbKAqg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4Q66PHeDwM

This last one is about Boston III as night fighter with 23 Squadron.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFKLTdb0iNw

Profile Publications No. 202

Theo With RCAF 418 Squadron

I only have a few pages of Theo’s logbook and a few documents to work with.

This one is most interesting.

At first we would think Theo flew a Mosquito on his first operation.

First Operation of Theodore Griffiths mod

Wrong!

logbook1-RCAF 418

Theo was with RCAF 418 Squadron at Ford from March 23rd to July 31, 1943.  This is a page from his logbook showing what Theo did on March 26.

before 23 Squadron 2

March       26       Boston III           No. S         SELF       SOLO ON TYPE 

Theo soloed on a Douglas Boston III (American A-20 Havoc)

This is the next page of the logbook with his first mission.

before 23 Squadron

APRIL 16  BOSTON III   No. L    SELF  SGT IRVING   1  OPS. RENNES  ONLY LITTLE FLAK

More on RCAF 418 Squadron here.