John S. Slaney

You don’t have to buy the book They Say There Was a War.


John Samuel Slaney was a Hurricane pilot that was transfered to 247 Squadron after being sent to 535 Squadron. He then went on to fly Typhoons and he survived the war to tell about it.


He was a very lucky pilot because the average number of missions before being killed while flying missions on Typhoons was around 11 or 12 missions. John Samuel Slaney shed a little light on how 535 Squadron was having fun flying alongside Havoc Turbinlites.

John Samuel Slaney wrote his memoirs… Typhoon Pilot.

While searching for it I found this.

Slaney, John S. 87

Formerly of Greensburg

John Samuel Slaney, formerly of Greensburg, passed away peacefully at home in Canonsburg on Sunday, June 22, 2008, at the age of 87. John was a highly decorated World War II RAF fighter pilot who spent the last year of the war as a POW. He was also a world-renowned metallurgist who retired from Latrobe Steel in 1986. John is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; sister, Lillian Mandviwalla, of England; son, Patrick Slaney and his partner, Susan Rice, of Massachusetts; daughter, Victoria Ross and her husband, John Ross, of Pennsylvania; son, Ian Slaney and his wife, Martina, of England; grandsons, Patrick and Alexander Ross and their wives, Allison and Rebecca; grandsons, James and Philip Clark; and great-granddaughter, Brianna Ross. John was a kind and embracing man who will be dearly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him. John was born in Birmingham, England, March 1, 1921. At the age of 14, John quit school to provide income for his family after his father passed away. At 18, John attempted to enlist in the military, but was turned away because he was employed as a pattern maker, a trade deemed critical to national security. Later, though, with the cooperation of his employer, he was granted permission. John joined the RAF as a fighter pilot, knowing that the average survival period was less than six months. John matured quickly as a pilot, fighting off the hazards of enemy fire and the high risks of flying single engine Spitfires, Hurricanes and Rocket Typhoons. He eventually advanced to the rank of flight lieutenant, completing 112 sorties between 1941 and 1944, before being shot down over enemy territory in Normandy on June 15, 1944, nine days after D-Day. John finished the war as a POW in Stalag Luft 1 in northern Germany. On returning home to England, John learned that King George had recognized his brave and unwavering service in defense of England by awarding him the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross), the highest ranking medal bestowed on a surviving fighter pilot. John then entered London University’s Royal School of Mines to study metallurgy. After graduation, he pursued a career that spanned the globe from South Africa to Canada to New York state and then finally to Western Pennsylvania. In the process, John produced a number of revolutionary products and processes, including several patents for high performance alloys. One alloy developed while working for Special Metals in New York was key to preventing catastrophic failure of jet engine turbine blades due to time-weighted exposure to extremely high temperatures. John’s new alloy was quickly adopted for every new turbine blade manufactured and all existing blades were recalled from the field. Now, more than 40 years later, not one turbine blade has failed in this manner. Above all of John’s talents as a professional, perhaps the most memorable qualities to those who knew him were his kind, generous personality and passion for political change. John was a friend to all. He was always there to offer help to anyone in need, and he fought especially hard to eliminate discrimination, to support human rights, to save the environment, and to support the underprivileged. John was the kindest of fighter pilots. The family asks that in John’s memory, a donation be sent to the charity of your choice.

I know he will be missed…

John S Slaney pictures John S Slaney

Very Rare Indeed

Post no. 200

Hi Pierre

Thanks for keeping the blog going, it is a great source of info regarding the squadron.

I have recently purchased a couple of photos of 23 Squadron Mossies in Malta. They are copies of originals that were taken by a soldier in the Royal Engineers who was stationed in Malta in ’43 and was a keen photographer. I thought you may like them for the site.

Best regards


May like?

Malta Mosquito 1 Malta Mosquito

Spotlight on amazing Shropshire RAF wartime project

I hope you got some popcorn… because we are back!

There was little information last week about the Havoc Turbinlite when I was searching the Internet.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Lo and behold!

Spotlight on amazing Shropshire RAF wartime project

Source of the article

An airbase in Shropshire played a top secret role in the Second World War. Toby Neal explains.

During the Blitz which pulverised Britain’s cities our air defences struggled to find the Luftwaffe raiders in the dark – never mind shoot them down.

 1456 High Ercall

And those desperate times saw an extraordinary top secret unit operating from an airfield in the heart of the Shropshire countryside using hush-hush equipment which, the boffins hoped, would help turn the tide.

The details were so sensitive that anybody breathing a word about it would quickly be moved on to another base.

So a photo in the possession of 95-year-old Peggy Murray, of Clive, showing the mysterious 1456 Flight at RAF High Ercall, in which her late husband Bob served, is quite possibly unique.

The photo, which most likely dates from 1942, shows the personnel in the team and behind them is a Douglas Havoc bomber, with the nose covered up to hide the secret equipment installed there.

Was it the latest radar? A new type of weapon? A radio antenna, perhaps?

No, it was none of those things. In one of the most remarkable episodes of World War Two, the aircraft had been converted into a huge flying torch.

In the nose was installed a high-power searchlight, known as a Turbinlite, powered by batteries in the bomb bay. The idea was simple. The bomber would illuminate the German bomber and then an accompanying Hurricane fighter would shoot it down.

“I know more now than I did then,” said Mrs Murray.

“I knew they were working on something because I used to mix with the villagers. If anyone working on it said ‘Did you see that funny plane flying last night?’ they were moved the next day to another aerodrome. That happened fairly often.” The secret was, however, safe with her husband.

“He never spoke about it. I knew he was doing something. I teased him about it, but if I didn’t know, I couldn’t tell anything.

“They started working on it at RAF Shawbury and they tested it at RAF Honiley. We were there when Coventry was bombed. I heard it – the ground absolutely shook.

“I believe it was a Mosquito they were trying to adapt.” Her husband was part of the ground crew.

The Turbinlite team setted at High Ercall and the equipment was demonstrated to the King and Queen when they visited the air base on July 16, 1942.

Unfortunately, in action the equipment was not a success. There were problems co-ordinating the Turbinlite bomber and the accompanying fighter in the darkness. No kills were notched up by the High Ercall team – it was one of a small number of Turbinlite units at the time – and improvements in radar and the performance of night fighters rendered the “flying torch” obsolete.

Peggy relives her days as a signalman in her old signal box, which was at Yorton, but was re-built at Arley on the Severn Valley RailwayPeggy relives her days as a signalman in her old signal box, which was at Yorton, but was re-built at Arley on the Severn Valley Railway

Mrs Murray, whose first name is Margaret but has always been known as Peggy, still lives in the same house in New Street in which she was born on April 14, 1918. 

Husband Bob hailed from Alford, Aberdeenshire, and was in the pre-war RAF, which brought him to RAF Shawbury. 

The young Peggy Thomas, as she then was, met Bob at a dance at Shawbury Village Hall before the war and they married in October 1939. After the end of the Turbinlite, Bob was posted to an airfield on the south coast, and Peggy landed herself an unusual wartime job. 

“They wanted a signalman for the signal box at Yorton, and I applied for the job – and got it. I was the first woman on this line.” 

She did the work for two or three years. 

“The shifts were 7 to 3, and 3 until the 11 o’clock train had gone through, which was the last train to stop. The line was very busy – busier than at any time. They were building up the troops on the south coast. There were all the bases. Everything came by rail in those days.” 

The Yorton signal box was later dismantled and re-erected on the Severn Valley Railway at Arley. 

A few years ago Peggy rode on the SVR and, in her honour, the train stopped specially at her old haunt and she was able to pay it a nostalgic visit. 

“It was exactly the same,” she said.

Next time… we will take a look at this!

535 information


I know yesterday’s post was long and needed a lot of concentration to follow where I was leading you.

I believe my readers need a little intermission from all that I have been writing on this blog about R.C. Harris with his son’s  help.

This is the story written in May 2013 by Jacques Gagnon, Eugene Gagnon’s nephew. It was written in French and you can read it here

Of course if you can’t read French, you can always use Google Chrome automatic translation tool, but something will be lost in translation.

Jacques Gagnon found Eugene’s fiancée and he met her a few times.

Jacques Gagnon et Ghislaine Laporte

65 years after Eugene’s death, and all that time being ignored by Eugene’s family fearing she might ask for a share of Eugene’s property and money, Ghislaine Laporte would find a new nephew and a lot of pictures with a story to go with it.

Even if you can’t read French, I believe that the message will get across somehow.

Ghislaine Laporte

 Eugene’s fiancée

I Wonder If…

Something to reflect upon…

Sometimes you get carried away when you are a blogger.

I wonder if many people can keep up with all this research going on on this blog about 23 Squadron that I started writing in 2010.

I wonder if you took a close look at the link I posted about George Atkinson yesterday.  

That George Atkinson is probably the same pilot who is listed on the logbook page and who flew three times with R.C. Harris to test Beaufighter Is on August 16, 1944.

51 OTU August 1944 Atkinson

Who really cares about all this information?

I wonder if you read the follow-up post left by Robert Dixon in the forum when he was replying to David

Hi David,

Your information is a little off on one or two points. George Atkinson joined the RAF from school as an apprentice and passed out there on August 16, 1934 as a metal rigger. He served overseas at Atbara and Khartoum with 47 Squadron. Flying training began in September 26, 1937. He joined 151 Squadron in 1938 and remained with it until October 1941. He did not fly operationally again during the Battle of Britain after he was shot down in August. He never flew Spitfires.

He was posted to East Fortune, Scotland, as an instructor on the Defiant, October 31, 1941. Later posted to 96 Squadron, Defiants. From October 15, 1943 he was posted to Canada as an instructor on the Mosquito and he remained there in that role until December 31, 1944. On his return he was posted to Chater Hall and it was from there that he flew his last flight and crashed into the grounds of Pallinsburn House. He did not, as far as I know, fly in Beaufighters and he took no part in the Mosquito raids. you should find a bit on here


His grave is in Blyth Cemetery, Links Road, not far from his home: which still stands.

Best Wishes,


If you tried visiting the link he suggested then you found that there was nothing there because there was a typo in the address.

This is the proper link

You would have missed a lot about a little known part of the history of the Battle of Britain.


I know I would have missed a lot also…

Excerpt from the Website




   The words sound loud and clear over the radio: ‘OK chaps, help yourselves there’s no fighter escort.’ This was the raid on the North East of England during the Battle of Britain: Hollywood version, courtesy of the 1969 film ‘Battle Of Britain’. This was the only film that took the Battle of Britain as its subject matter. It was the film, that set out to show the ‘Battle’ as it really was, warts and all. Sadly, like all films, that set out to tell the true story, there were to be historical errors. The above ‘bloomer’ was to be one. However, for many this was the way it actually happened. It must have, they made a film about it. Had to be true then. Apart from the event happening the rest, where it concerns the north East, is artistic licence. Today many think this ‘faction’ is a true enactment. As recently as the year 2000 the updated version of the ‘bible’ on the Battle of Britain: ‘ The Battle Of Britain Then And Now’ states; ‘A major attack took place towards Newcastle with unescorted bombers’. So what really did happen on August 15, 1940? The operation was known as the ‘Northern Flank’. The day came to be remembered by the Germans as ‘Black Thursday.’

Robert Harris wrote me this message last week.

Hello again Pierre,

I expect you have a lot to do and I am sorry if I am inundating you with information.  I thought I had better let you have the Turbinlite section of the relevant log book.  This part of his story in the RAF comes between his time with RAAF 456 and RAF 535 – it is attached! 

Apart from re-scanning those ruined log book pages and the photos, I won’t send you any more information until you ask for it.  Perhaps you would then be kind enough to let me know which part of the “story” you would like to receive next.

Cheers – Rob

I hope Robert Harris does not think that he is inundating me with information because I would be missing a lot.

Robert was wondering about the faith of Ensign Grinndal and I was wondering about W/O Atkinson who were both pilots’ names on this logbook page.

51 OTU August 1944 Atkinson

But what about P.O. (Pilot Officer) Hutchinson who was the pilot of Beaufighter I serial number 4566?

I wonder if P. O. Hutchinson  was also with 151 Squadron before?

You never stop wondering when you start looking for people associated with someone. This is what got me started writing this blog in the first place in 2010 about 23 Squadron which I knew nothing about.

I just wanted to reach out for those who knew Eugene Gagnon because I wanted to know more about him while he was serving with this squadron.

Eugene Gagnon

I had little to go on…

Only his discharge papers!

Discharge papers page 1 Discharge papers page 2

Not much to go on…

But these documents were enough to find Peter Smith a few months later on a WWII forum where he was talking about his father Tommy Smith who knew Eugene Gagnon…

Peter Smith

To make contact in 2011 with George Stewart whom Peter Smith visited in Hamilton in 2010…

George Stewart and Peter Smith

To meet Ghislaine Laporte, Eugene’s fiancée, in May 2013.

Ghislaine Laporte

And finally, Eugene Gagnon’s navigator’s son who thinks he is inundating me with information. 

I hope Robert Harris does not think he is inundating me with information about his father Richard Craig Harris…

Let there be rain!

I wonder if I am overdoing this a little bit and inundating Robert with too much information about his father…

Who Remembers W/O Atkinson?

Again, probably not many people remember W/O Atkinson who did some 15 minutes aircraft test on three Beaufighter I with Navigator Radar Operator R.C. Harris while stationed at No 51 O.T.U on August 16, 1944.

Probably not…

51 OTU August 1944 Atkinson

I found this information on the Internet (source).

This pilot could be Warrant Officer Atkinson but I am not sure  because we have few clues other than he was a pilot with No. 51 O.T.U. in August 1944.


March 23
Night Rangers were undertaken with the following crews partaking: F/O Paton with P/O Hanson, F/O Atkinson with W/O Primer, and F/O Rayner with P/O Hartley. All three crews ran into trouble as indicated in the reports that were made:

F/O Paton & P/O Hanson.
This crew crashed on landing on their return to Wittering and were both killed. From the remains of their flight log, it seemed as though they had been through some flak and on approaching base they called for a priority landing as the aircraft had little aileron control. They made one circuit without a landing approach, and on the second circuit went in from about 200 ft.

F/O Rayner & P/O Hartley.
They attacked a train south of Verden from where light flak was experienced, causing some damage to their aircraft. The R/T was unserviceable and P/O Hartley passed all instructions to F/O Rayner by writing with his finger tip on the windscreen.

F/O Atkinson & W/O Primer.
Although they did not claim attacks, their operation took them over Bremen at roof top level, getting very low to avoid the intense anti-aircraft fire which was being thrown up at them. They reported flak of all types and in taking evasive action, F/O Atkinson felt a sharp tug at the wing of the aircraft, On his return to base, the ground crews found a piece of domestic wireless aerial wrapped round the mainplane. This was a tough experience and was indicative of the type of opposition the Squadron was up against.

Then this

The Squadron strength was now as follows:

    Commanding Officer     W/Cdr Ivins

    Adjutant                         F/Lt Woodcock

    Intelligence Officer         S/Ldr Marlowe

    Engineering Officer        F/Lt Watts

    Medical Officer               F/Lt Leggett

    Signals Officer                P/O Wood

    Navigation Officer           F/O Marsh


“A” Flight “B” Flight
S/Ldr Robertson & W/O Smith S/Ldr Bodien & F/O Booker
F/Lt Stevens & Sgt Aldridge F/Lt Gregory & P/O Thompson
F/O Yeats & P/O Howlett F/O Atkinson & W/O Primer
F/o Boyle & Sgt Friesner F/O Raynor & P/O Neville
F/O Turner & Sgt Bolton P/C Humphries & P/C Lumb
P/O Furniss & P/O Ferguson F/O Zykmn & F/Lt Kalinowski
P/O Armstrong & F/Sgt Daly F/Lt Coombes & P/O Ashworth
W/O Kneath & W/O Leyland F/O Morris & F/O Fisher
W/O Butcher & Sgt Spencer P/O Bushen & Sgt Ferguson
F/Sgt Lucas & F/O Elvin W/O Flight & F/Sgt Mackins
F/Sgt Kemp & Sgt Maidment F/Sgt Penman & Sgt Phillips
Sgt Campbell & Sgt Phillips F/Sgt Knight & Sgt Roberts
Sgt Lavelle & Sgt Griffiths Sgt Playford & Sgt Kelsey
Sgt Heath & Sgt Cottrill Sgt O’Connor & Sgt Webb
Sgt Williams Sgt Dickenson
F/O Sampson P/O Scobie

Now being stationed in the South West of England, Ranger operations were generally designed for France, but because of German air activity by night over the South coast, full night readiness had to be undertaken.


A lot of practice flying took place to get all crews fully operational on the new aircraft, equipped with the Mark Vlll A.I. This was not without its problems. F/O Boyle had engine failure on two occasions, requiring him to carry out single engined landings. F/Sgt O’Connor also had the same experience.

There were more postings in and out of the Squadron as crews became “tour expired” . This was to be a regular feature to maintain a fully effective Squadron strength:

S/Ldr Bodien was posted to O.T.U. at Cranfield on rest.
S/Ldr Pennington and F/O Donnet returned from rest.
F/O Atkinson was posted to Canada as a Gunnery Instructor, thus ending a four year connection with 151 Squadron, having been with them since the outbreak of the war. (He was later killed in a flying accident in Canada.)
S/Ldr Frank Marlowe, the Squadron Intelligence Officer, and regarded as the “Father and Mother” of the Squadron, was Mentioned in Despatches for long and meritorious service.

Was W/O Atkinson temporarily posted to No. 51 O.T.U. before returning to Canada? Could this be the same Atkinson people talked about on this forum?


Hi guys,

just read the threat about George Atkinson, he was my Great Uncle and some what of a hero of mine.

All I have seen and been led to believe from the family (including his wife Pat) say he was killed in a training accident on a Beaufighter not a Mosquito…

He served from 1936 flying Hart trainers, Hurricanes in th Battle of france and Battle of Britain and for a while on Spit Mk 1s while with 151 at North Weald. He was awaded the DFM and bailed out over the Thames esturay earning the “catapillar”. Confirmed 3 “kills”.

After the BoB went to training squadron for “rest” in Canada and returned on Mosquitos flying some of the famed low lever raids, one of which he picked up a length of telephone cable on his wing.

It was after this tour he ended up at RAF Lucheas and was killed 12th March 1945…

I would like to know where any information is written about him, as I am trying to trace as much as possile about my great uncle. I am in the process of getting the RAF records and medals.


David Petters

Probably not that important after all…

Or is it?

To learn more about RAF 151 Squadron click here.

Who Remembers Ensign Grinndal U.S. Navy?

Is it so important?

Probably not many people remember Ensign Grinndal who was killed on November 22, 1944 when the Mosquito he was flying on lost one engine and crashed.

51 OTU Ensign Grinndal

Maybe R.C. Harris never knew what had happened to him. But then maybe he did but he never wrote about it to anyone.

This is why I wrote about it on this blog dedicated to 23 Squadron and not to No. 51 O.T.U. or RAF 456 Squadron. 

Maybe this person who posted this on the Find A Grave Website knows more about Ensign Grinndal, but then maybe not…

His name is Geoffrey Gillon. This is how he presents himself on the Website. Take a few moments to read it because I could have written something along those lines about this blog dedicated to 23 Squadron.

Bio and Links
“They are only dead when they’re forgotten”

Tombstone tourist (otherwise known as a “taphophile”, “cemetery enthusiast” or “grave hunter” or “graver”) describes an individual who travels to visit cemeteries for the enjoyment of looking at old and unusual stones or to find the graves of famous people.

The term has been most notably used by author and biographer Scott Stanton as the title of his 2003 book and his former website on the lives and gravesites of famous musicians. Tombstone tourists are usually more interested in the historical aspects of cemeteries or the historical relevance of its denizens.Taphophilia is a passion for and enjoyment of cemeteries. The singular term is a Taphophile. Taphophilia involves epitaphs, photography, brass rubbing, art, and history of (famous) deaths.

I have a number of virtual cemeteries-a very useful feature of the Find A Grave site. I maintain one which I have entitled ‘Famous Rejects’-these are notable people, mainly from British history who, I feel, deserve a place in the ‘famous’ category, and I have been pleased to read that a great number of Find A Grave contributors and visitors concur.

I was raised to believe that I own nothing and that all I have is to be shared. See also 1 Timothy 6:7.I am inclined to be a “Kopimist” or “Kopimist intellectual” – a person who has the philosophical belief that all information should be freely distributed and unrestricted. This philosophy opposes the monopolization of knowledge in all its forms, such as copyright.

I do not copyright any of my work on findagrave and it is free for anyone to use elsewhere for whatever reason. I came across some rare but refreshing comments on the profile pages of other contributors recently, one of which  said something along the lines of ” I figure that if you have sufficient interest to ask for a transfer, I am happy to oblige” Another, in connection with the refusal to transfer memorials, said “It has led to fiefdoms of little people exercising “power” who are obdurate in their intransigence. Also there seem to be many contributors who amass great quantities of records beyond their ability to maintain them “I am sure that all those who spout on about why they won’t transfer don’t realize that their precious number count doesn’t change if they do. Another personal profile that attracted me was found December 2012.
Any and all information or pictures, I have uploaded, are meant for sharing. Family memories were meant to be passed on. I just don’t understand anyone that thinks different. I think if you don’t want to share, than don’t put them on a public site. My goal is not to see how many memorials I can create, but to help you find your love ones.-and another unselfish one……….

Since I could never care as much about your family and friends as you do, please feel free to request memorial transfers.

Contributions to Find A Grave

8,116 Memorials Added

9,136 Memorials Managed

• 27 Memorials/week

• 21,931 Photos

81 Photo Requests

255 Volunteer Photos Taken

• 210 Virtual Flowers

24 Virtual Cemeteries

10 Famous Bios

• 104 Fame Ratings

52 Sponsorships

2 Friends

I was raised to believe that I own nothing and that all I have is to be shared…


Message I sent to Geoffrey Gillon

This post on my blog 23 Squadron will be of interest.
I will have a follow- up post tomorrow.
Do you know more about Ensign Grinndal?

Chronology: No. 51 O.T.U.

This picture could have been taken at No. 51 O.T.U. but I am not sure.


No 51 O.T.U. was stationed at RAF Cranfield.  From 27 March 1944 to 16 October 1944 R.C. Harris was posted there.  He was a navigator radar operator and flew on Beaufighters, Wellingtons, Beauforts, and Airspeed Oxfords.

This page from the logbook is interesting in a way as well as the message from Robert.

Hello Pierre!

I have learned so much from reading the latest blog update.  I had never heard of the Havocs with searchlights linked to the Hurricanes!

One log book scan shows my father as instructor to an American – wonder what happened to him! I have attached some other log book extracts which I hope you will find of some use.

Can’t thank you enough for all the work on 23 squadron and beyond.

Kind regards – Rob

One log book scan shows my father as instructor to an American – wonder what happened to him!

51 OTU August 1944

Four entries from 14 August through 18 August 1944. Richard Harris is an instructor to Ensign Grinndal, U.S. Navy on August 14. Squadron Leader Macandrew was the pilot.

Who was Squadron Leader Macandrew? I found nothing about him on the Internet.

Who then was Ensign Grinndal? Was he Richard Eric Grinndal who died on November 22, 1944?

Click here for the source and the complete history of RAF 68 Squadron.

During October 68 Squadron made up for all the frustration of the two previous months as they shot down 13 Flying-bombs. The crews were as follows: Fg Off Haskell/Plt Off Bentley – three; Fg Off Humphrey/Fg Off Robertson – two; F/Sgt Bullus/Fg Off Edwards -one; W/O Lauchlan/F/Sgt Bailey – two; Fg Off Gibson/Sgt Lack – one; Sqn Ldr Wright/Fg Off McCullough – two; and Sqn Ldr Mansfeld/Flt Lt Janacek – two.

Part of the Squadron’s training programme at this time was devoted to cross-countrynavigation exercises, and these included trips over France, recently cleared of Germans. Sqn Ldr Evans of ADGB came to give a lecture on ‘Intruding Over Enemy Territory’. The aircrews were shown three films: ‘The Nazis Strike’, ‘The Battle of Russia’, and ‘Divide and Conquer’. Earlier, three American Navy aircrews had been assigned to the Squadron, they were: Lt Peebles/Ens Grinndal; Lt Black/Lt Aitken; and Lt Kelly/Lt Martin. On 27th October the Squadron moved back to Coltishall having had a very good series of farewell parties at Castle Camps. The Squadron continued to fly anti-diver patrols over the North Sea, but seemed to be selected by Control to operate against Heinkels carrying the flying-bombs.

On 5th November F/Sgt Neal/F/Sgt Eastwood caught a He 111 just releasing its bomb and after a long chase shot it down into the sea, and on the 11th F/Sgt Brooking/PIt Off Finn also dealt with a Heinkel in similar circumstances at 700 ft above the sea. W/O Cookson/W/O GravelI claimed a Heinkel probably destroyed. On the 8th the first V2 rocket was seen by a 68 squadron pilot as it was launched from a site in Holland, it was described as a ‘red glow with flames on the outside shooting straight up into the air at great speed and to a great height’.

The Squadron had really taken to the American crews, who though more formal than the RAF, were super chaps, and 68 were most upset when Joe Black and Tom Aitken were killed pursuing a flying-bomb. Apparently they followed the bomb into the gunstrip and tragically the guns missed the bomb, but brought down the Mosquito. Soon after this there was another tragedy when Sam Peebles and Dick Grinndal, having been scrambled for anti-diver activity at 22.30 hours and just airborne, reported going over to channel ‘D’ on the R/T, but crashed near Horstead at 22.33 hours, both were killed. It is good to be able to say that John Kelly and Tom Martin survived the War.

On Find A Grave Website

Ens Richard Eric “Eric” Grinndal

Birth: Jul. 19, 1918
Cook County
Illinois, USA
Death: Nov. 22, 1944
Norfolk, England

Casualty of WWII, he was an Ensign in the United States Naval Reserve and worked as a ‘navrad’ (Observer) on de Havilland Mosquito NF.Mk.XVII Registration: HK344, 68 Squadron RAF. It was described as Britain’s “Wooden Wonder”-it featured two Rolls-Royce Merlin engines and was constructed of plywood and balsa wood.He entered the Service from Illinois. His parents were Vidar and Frieda Grinndal from Sweden. His service number was O-325953. He was awarded the Air Medal. He was flying with Lt. Samuel Warmuth Peebles (pilot) US Navy; the aircraft lost an engine on take-off from RAF Coltishall, Norfolk and crashed onto the lawns of Horstead Hall after hitting trees. Sam Peebles was initially interred in Cambridge,England, near Eric but his remains were subsequently repatriated to USA.
  The pilot…


Ensign Grinndal and his pilot were flying Mosquitoes that were shooting down Flying-bombs carried by He 111.


Ensign Grinndal is not just a name in a logbook entry anymore…

51 OTU Ensign Grinndal

Goggles on Upside Down: Redux

Rob just sent me these names…

I could not wait until tomorrow.

Hello Pierre!

I now give you the names of the pilots that my father flew with in 535 Squadron. One of them must be the guy in the photo:

SGT Hough

SGT Massey

SGT Christensen

PO Scorer

PO Blanshard

FO Thornton

He flew with SGT Hough 60 times.

He flew with SGT Massey X 1

SGT Christensen X1

PO Scorer  X1

PO Blansard X1

FO Thornton X1

Previous to 535 he had flown with No 54 OTU and 1456 Flight:

SGT Hough for 34 times

SGT Christensen for X2

PO Blansard X1

FO Thornton X1

I wonder if the pilot is Sgt Hough?

Good evening – Rob

What seems logical would be that this is Sergeant Hough. 

Dad and Eugene

Why would his father have kept a picture of pilots he only flew a few times with?

I will go with Sergeant Hough for the time being and wait for someone to find this blog and confirm all this or go on a wild search for Sergeant Hough… 

Goggles on Upside Down

I am not the only one trying to identify R.C. Harris’ fellow airmen.

Dad and Eugene

I have compared two of the photographs sent to you – the one in full flying gear (with the goggles on upside down) and the one with the Hurricane.  I am sure that the guy in the flying gear is the same one as the one  on the extreme left  (standing foreground) in the Hurricane photo.  Knowing you, you are already well ahead of me but I thought I would just mention it!!  I wonder who he was and if he is still alive.

535 Squadron RC Harris

This time it’s Robert’s turn to get all excited…

I think he hit the right button.

We have a very rare 535 Squadron picture of some of its pilots and navigators!

mystery pilot

Now the only thing missing is for Robert to look for the name of the pilot in his father’s logbook when he was with 535 Squadron.

The mystery pilot’s name is in there!

I can visualise Robert scrambling and searching his father’s logbook for the name and scanning the page for us to share his excitement.