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.

The Airspeed Oxford

Theo trained on the Oxford when he came back to England. The first time was on June 30th 1942 on Oxford 4103. Pilot Officer Rose was in command and Theo was the second pilot.

June-July 1942

These pictures are not taken from Theo’s collection of pictures.

More on the Airspeed Oxford.

If you like airplanes, click here.

Vultee BT-13

That’s the second plane Theo flew on according to his logbook entries during January 1942.

The first plane he flew is here.

January 1942

These pictures are not taken from Theo’s collection of pictures.

Danger was always present during training.

Click here.

More on the BT-13 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.

Theo Comes Back to England

What happened after going to Eglin Field, in Florida?

Theo went back to England.

First he went to Twinwood, then to Ford with RCAF 418 Squadron, then Lyneham with No. 301 Ferry Training Unit where he ferried a Mosquito to Malta on September 26, 1943…

Theo logbook postings

This is Theo’s secret order to ferry aircraft No HX. 868 to Malta.

image 3

He would later joined 23 Squadron on October 27, 1943.

Before being posted with 23 Squadron Theo was posted with RCAF 418 Squadron from March 23rd to July 31, 1943.

What did he do there?

We will have to check that out in his logbook.

Preserving the Past – 27th September, 1941

The U.S. government is in deep trouble for allowing RAF recruits to train on U.S. soil before it entered the war on December 7th, 1941.

Here is the proof.

image44

Theodore Griffiths is now on American soil in September 1941. He will be going to Americus, Georgia to train as a pilot.

Theo set foot first in Toronto as part of No. 5 I.T.W. (Initial Training Wing).

He was not alone.

group-picture-toronto-september-1941

And he made some friends.

Theo in Toronto mod

Dan, Theo, and Hoppy

After Americus, Theo went to Macon then to Selma, Alabama, and finally to Eglin Field, Florida. Theo would be back in England in June 1942.

logbook1

In Selma, Alabama, Theo trained on an AT-6A

training logbook February and March 1942

 

advanced trainer

Theo got his wings at Craig Field, Selma, Alabama.

 diploma mod

In total Craig Field graduated more than 9,000 pilots before the end of the war. Craig Field also saw a number of British Royal Air Force cadets through their training. By 1943, 1,392 RAF cadets had earned their wings at Craig Field. In addition, French and Dutch pilots were trained at Craig Field. (Wikipedia)

No. 5 I.T.W. September 1941

This picture takes us back in time.

No. 5 ITW Initial Training Wing Personnel Transit Centre

Theo wrote 1947, but the date is 1941.

Theo set foot in Toronto as part of No. 5 I.T.W.

I had to find the meaning of No. 5 I.T.W.

No. 5 I.T.W. is No. 5  Initial Training Wing. So I guess Theo was going to Americus, Georgia for his initial training as a pilot.

Rich sent me some postcards from that period that Theo had kept as mementoes.

poscard1

poscard4

postcard2

postcard3

postcards5

postcards6

postcards7

postcards8

Rich thinks they were for Theo’s wife, but they were never sent since there are no written messages at all.

Rich also sent part of Theo’s training logbook for February and March 1942.

training logbook February and March 1942

This is the plane he was training on.

advanced trainer

Footnote

Theo’s grandson added this comment…

Theo never really liked to talk about the war but it was always a family story that he went to Canada before crossing over into the USA on foot for his training as at that time the USA was not involved in the war and so they had to do their training in secret.

No. 5 ITW Initial Training Wing Personnel Transit Centre