Hope this Link Works…

Click here.

Marten Richens told me about that documentary,  but it was not available to viewers outside the U.K.

Mosquito

Channel 4 Paralympics presenter, former Royal Marines Commando and qualified pilot Arthur Williams presents this love letter to the World War II aeroplane he believes history has unjustly forgotten.

While the names Spitfire, Lancaster and Hurricane have passed into legend, the De Havilland Mosquito languishes in relative obscurity. But, for Arthur, the ‘Wooden Wonder’ is the plane that saved Britain.

He meets the men who flew it, tells its extraordinary story and travels to Virginia Beach in the USA to see if he can take to the skies in the world’s only remaining airworthy Mosquito.

In September 1942 this top-secret experimental aircraft carried out one of the most daring raids of World War II. In broad daylight and with unprecedented accuracy four new Mosquito planes bombed the Gestapo headquarters in Nazi-occupied Oslo. It was a stunning, audacious success, which shocked Germany.

Unlike every other plane of its time, it was made of plywood, by cabinetmakers across southern England, who were more accustomed to turning out table legs and chairs. Its light weight made it the fastest plane the British had ever produced: a brilliant design and engineering success achieved in the teeth of RAF scepticism.

The Mosquito became the most versatile, safest, and in-demand plane of the war. Without its efforts guiding heavy bombers accurately to their targets, the Allied bombing campaign over Europe might never have worked.

It also hit U-boats in the North Atlantic and brought down Luftwaffe fighters in air-to-air combat. Arthur hears it all from men who took part in these perilous missions.

After the war, the wooden frame that had been the Mosquito’s greatest asset in combat became its undoing. Most Mosquitoes rotted away in their hangars, and the memories went with them.

And, in 1996, the last Mosquito to fly fell out of the sky at an airshow, killing its crew. Since then, there have been no flying examples left in the world. But American millionaire Jerry Yagen has spent eight years rebuilding what is now the world’s only airworthy Mosquito: a plane Arthur is desperate to fly.

Arthur travels to Virginia Beach in the hope getting up in Yagen’s plane, experiencing the power of the Mosquito first-hand and helping to rescue this amazing machine from obscurity.

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Chronology: 456 Squadron RAAF Middle Wallop – 4 April 1943 to 30 September 1943

Robert takes this blog about 23 Squadron very seriously, so seriously he is adding more information about his father when he was with RAAF 456 Squadron.

R.C. Harris was posted with a Royal Australian Air Force squadron based in England.

Details of R. C. Harris’ time with 456 Squadron RAAF
4th April 1943 to 30th September 1943

Total hours flown during this period:- 

Flying Hours Day Night
  259.35 150.05

Total hours: 409.40

Total of Operational Hours: 48.35 

Pilots flown with during this period:

F/O Bridges,

F/O Biggin,

P/O Newell,

P/O Lewis,

F/Sgt Palmer,

F/O Griffin,

F/Sgt Hough,

F/O Bridges,

F/Sgt Richardson,

S/Ldr Halford,

S/Ldr Hatton,

F/Sgt Smith,

P/O Heath.  

He flew 136 times (107 times with F/Sgt Hough) during his time with 456.

Many flights were under one hour – 51; only two of these short flights being undertaken at night. 

The three flights with the Squadron Leaders were:-

  1. 1.   GEE Homing and Fixing (GEE is a British radio navigation system)
  2. 2.   To Gatwick. GEE Exercise
  3. 3.   To base. GEE exercise. 

The above is the only mention of GEE during this period and these activities were undertaken in Avro Ansons thus suggesting training sessions for my father.  These flights took place on 08/07.1943 with the flight lasting for 2 hours., 11/07/1943 @ 10.35 lasting for 30 minutes and again on the same day @ 11.45and lasting for 1 hour and 15 minutes 

In the remarks column of the log book are the following activities, some of which are self explanatory but others are unclear:- 

  • ·        A.S.R patrol, (air and sea rescue)
  • ·        Beat Up,
  • ·        Air/Air Firing,
  • ·        Canopy,
  • ·        Investigating “bandits”,
  • ·        Sopley Patrol,
  • ·        Aircraft display for Royal Armoured Corps,
  • ·        A.S.R patrol at 0 feet French coast,
  • ·        Investigated 2 bogeys, Bullseye, Search for Charcoal.53,
  • ·        Calibration. 50 feet, 240 degrees from Swanage,
  • ·        Searchlight Co op. Colerne 18,000 feet,
  • ·        S/L interception,
  • ·        Mahmoud,
  • ·        Toucan,
  • ·        Harpoon,
  • ·        Bullseye,
  • ·        Ranger cross country,
  • ·        A/C test,
  • ·        Bomber affiliation G.C.I, (ground-controlled interception)
  • ·        G.C.I/ Wrafton G.C.I/Cricklade,
  • ·        Aircraft test,
  • ·        Air/Sea firing,
  • ·        Air/Ground firing,
  • ·        Air/Sea firing and camera gun exercise,
  • ·        Deputy exercise. 

In addition to the Anson mentioned above, the bulk of the flying hours were carried out in Mosquito II Fs with varied numbers. 

The two flights in an Airspeed Oxford were “To High Ercall” and “To Middle Wallop” with no other explanation. 

The one flight with P/O Heath was in a Boeing B-17 F Fortress II and the purpose of the flight was apparently A/C Test.  The flight lasted for one hour and ten minutes. 

My father’s duties throughout this period were as NAV/R.  Interestingly, his duties had previously been described as Observer but the designation changed. 

His time at 456 was signed off by the Officer Commanding 456 Squadron (a Wing Commander) whose signature looks like “Howely” with an indistinguishable initial.  

From 456 Squadron he then moved to 62 O.T.U  at Ouston (but more of that for another time).

Footnote

About “Howely”… Officer Commanding 456 Squadron

From 1 June 1943 to 14 December 1943 Wing Commander G. Howden was Commanding Officer

National Collection

A group of officers at No. 456 (Mosquito) Squadron, RAAF Fighter Command based at RAF Station Middle Wallop. Left to right: 402863 Squadron Leader (Sqn Ldr) Richard William Hyem, Gunnedah, NSW; 12631 Pilot Officer (later Flying Officer)  Francis Alfred Saw, Camberwell, Vic;  Wing Commander  G Howden DFC RAF, Guildford, WA; 400309 Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt, later Sqn Ldr) Danbigh Leon Norris-Smith, Heidelburg, Vic; and Flt Lt (later Wing Commander [Wing Cdr]) Gordon Panitz, Southport, Qld. Wing Cdr Panitz was killed on operations over France on 22 August 1944 while serving with RAAF 464 Squadron.

Second footnote

456 Squadron RAAF

No. 456 Squadron was the Royal Australian Air Force’s only dedicated night fighter squadron during the Second World War. An Article XV squadron, it was formed at Valley, on the Welsh island of Anglesea, on 30 June 1941 and joined 9 Group of Fighter Command. The squadron was initially equipped with Boulton Paul Defiant aircraft but had barely begun operations before it was re-equipped with Bristol Beaufighters at the end of September. Obsolete, the Defiant was ill-suited to the night fighter role, but operating the potent radar-equipped Beaufighter, the squadron was well-equipped for stalking German bombers in Britain’s night skies.

The squadron operated Beaufighters from Valley for a little over a year before it was re-equipped with De Havilland Mosquitoes in December 1942. The Mosquito was even more versatile and its introduction, combined with a lessening of the German air threat over Britian, led to a diversification of 456 Squadron’s activities. From the start of 1943 it was also employed on offensive patrols over occupied Europe, striking at both German bombers near their home airfields and at targets on the ground. On 30 March 1943 the squadron relocated to Middle Whallop, in Hampshire to the east of Salisbury.

Although the night skies remained the squadron’s principal domain, it also mounted operations in daylight, attacking trains and other enemy transport in France, and flying patrols in defence of Coastal Command aircraft operating over the Bay of Biscay.

On 17 August 1943 the squadron moved to Colerne, to the east of Bristol. The move marked the beginning of a lull in operations in which the squadron’s energies were devoted to training. On 17 November it again moved, to Fairwood Common, in south Wales and mounted patrols in support of Bomber Command’s operations over Germany.

Chronology: 535 Squadron RAF Ercall, Shropshire from 2 September 1942 to 21 January 1943

Always interesting to receive information from Robert Harris. It’s a great way to reach out for people related to the airmen found in R.C. Harris’ s logbook or on a few of his pictures.

535 airmen pilots

We now know that the picture above is about 535 Squadron.

Robert added this information about this squadron.

R.C Harris – 535 Squadron RAF Ercall, Shropshire from 02/09/1942 to 21/01/1943.

Aircraft/glider flown in:

Havoc II,

Boston III,

Tiger Moth,

Airspeed Horsa,

Havoc flights x 14

Boston flights x 63

Tiger Moth x 1

Horsa x 1

Aircraft numbers:

Havoc – AH450 , AH479. 

Boston – AL707, W8309, Z2214, W8227, W8393, Z2214. 

Tiger Moth – DE489. 

Horsa – no number.

Number of flights (in all aircraft): 79. 

Flights lasting one hour or less:  30.

Night flights: 35.

Flying Hours:-

Total Flying Hours with 535 Squadron

Day

Night

 

150.50

71.05

 Pilots flown with at 535 Squadron:- 

Pilot’s name

Number of Flights

Sgt Hough

71

Sgt Massey

2

Sgt Christensen

1

PO Scorer

1

S/Ldr Moloney

1

Sgt Coulson

1

PO Blanshard

1

FO Thornton

1

Contents of the “Remarks” section of the log book:- 

NFT – night flying tests x 34

NFT – in formation x 1

G.C.I Gropa Control x 18

G.C.I. (cancelled) x 3

G.C.I Full Satellite Exposure x1

G.C.I. Full Turbinlite x 2

G.C.I. Gropa W/T Controlled x 1

G.C.I (Hack Green) calibration x 1

G.C.I Comberton Dotty x 1

G.C.I.Control Dotty x 1

G.C.I. Controlled Bullseye x 1

Aerobatics (spinning) x 1.  This was in the one and only flight in the Tiger Moth! The flight lasted for 55 minutes – during the day!!!

Anti Aircraft Co-operation. Gnosall. Stafford. x 1

Anti Aircraft Co-operation, Oswestry x 1

Searchlight Co-operation, Crewe (Cheshire). x 1

B.A.B.S Approaches x 1

Night formation with Hurricane x 1 (This night flight only lasted 20 minutes).

ZZ landings/ NFT x 1

Test of glider (Horsa) – this was the glider’s maiden flight!! (My father was a passenger) with Sgt Coulson as the pilot.  x 1 (The flight lasted only 15 minutes).

Calibration run for Hack Green x 1

Searchlight aided interceptions x 1 (This flight lasted 1.25  at night).

Bulls Eye x 1

Cross country day flight – Newmarket, Llanbedr, Valley. Day – 2.25 hours

Weather Test (night). 25 minute flight  

Posting with 535 Squadron was signed off by Squadron Leader B.W Moloney, Officer Commanding 535.

 Footnote

I am also sure by now that the unknown pilot with R.C. Harris with his goggles upside down is Sergeant Hough.

mystery pilot

If you are related to Sergeant Hough who was a pilot with 535 Squadron, then please contact me. I have a beautiful photo to share with you

Dad and unknown

Paying Homage to Eugene Gagnon

Ken Mist took this picture of the plaque of Eugene Gagnon which is now part of the Dunnville Memorial. I bought the plaque two years ago and I desperately wanted a picture to show Eugene’s nephew.

Eugene got his wings there.

numérisation0002

Ken Mist was visiting Dunnville Airport which will be soon closed but not the museum.

Dunnville Eugene Gagnon plaque

This is Ken Website. 

He also has a blog which is awesome!

Ken seems to like airplanes…

I like them too.

Click here.

Chronology: Flight 1456 – High Ercall – 20 July 1942 – 30 August 1942

I hope I am not inundating you with information about the Havoc Turbinlite and people found in R.C. Harris’ logbook.

Robert Harris sent me this information taken from his father’s logbook.

Here is precious information taken from it dated from 20 July 1942 to 30 August 1942 whilst in RAF Turbinlite Flight 1456 – High Ercall. I found this information on the Internet about some famous people visiting…

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.

I wonder if R.C. Harris met the King and Queen when they visited High Ercall on July 16th, 1942…

 Guess not, unless he got there before July 20th.

This posting immediately preceded his posting to RAF Squadron 535 also based at High Ercall.

Here is the complete information sent by Robert copied from the entries.

Aircraft flown in: 

Havoc I,

Havoc I

Havoc II,  

 Havoc II

Boston I,

Boston III.

TO LEARN HOW TO FLY IT, CLICK HERE…

Aircraft numbers were:

Havoc I – AW411

Havoc II – AH450

Boston I – AW410

Boston III – W.8277

Flying Times

Total flying time with 1456 flight for July 1942:-

Flying   Hours

Day

Night

Monthly Total 4.30 Nil
Total at Unit 4.30 Nil
Grand Total 19.20 29.55

  Total flying time with 1456 flight for August 1942:-

Flying   Hours

Day

Night

Monthly   Total 20.55 1.00
Total at   Unit 25.25 1.00
Grand Total 100.15 30.55

These hours were signed off by F/L PoultonThese hours do not seem to make sense on face value but they have been carried over from his previous posting with RAAF 456 Squadron.

Is there a link between 456 and Flight 1456?

Pilots flown with during this period:-

P/O Scorer, P/O Armstrong, Sgt Christensen, P/O Thornton, F/L Poulton, Sgt Hough.

  • My father flew with Sgt Hough x13
  • Sgt Christensen x2.
  • P/O Armstrong x2
  • P/O  Thornton x1

7 flights were under one hour’s duration.

The longest flight was 2.05 hours.

Total number of flights: 20.

Comments from the “Remarks” section of the log book.

Again, some of them are obvious but others require further explanation.

Night Flying Test (NFT) – 10 flights.

Watchfield to High Ercall, starboard engine cut. Crashed on landing at Stoke Orchard.

G.C.I   GROPA CONTROL – 2 flights.

G.C.I    HACK GREEN. GROPA

Anti Aircraft Co-operation. High Ercall, Gnosall, Locksley, Stafford.

Local flying. Responder Homings

Sector reconnaissance – 2 flights.

Dusk landings.  Responder D/F

2 of the cross country flights took them to Langrick, Near Boston Lincolnshire which is a totally insignificant village/hamlet except for the fact that my father’s new wife lived there!

These are virtually the entire contents of this section of the log book but presented in a more  user friendly way (I hope).

Footnote

About F/L Poulton?

When I was proofreading this post I found out F/L Poulton was not pilot but a Nav./Radar.

Pilots flown with during this period:-

P/O Scorer, P/O Armstrong, Sgt Christensen, P/O Thornton, F/L Poulton, Sgt Hough.

Does it really matter?

“These hours were signed off by F/L Poulton.” 

Warrant Officer Dennis Poulton 778652 RAF, was a Radar Operator/Observer who flew in Bristol Beaufighter NIGHT FIGHTERS providing night air cover of Italy during the Second World War.  He was attached to 255 Squadron RAF.  He was killed in action at age 30  along with his pilot Flight Sergeant J. Luckhurst on January 1, 1944. Poulton and his pilot Flight Sergeant J. Luckhurst were both posted  to 255 Squadron on 28 July 1943 from 1 BPD Base Personnel depot at La Sebala.  They flew together on all operational sorties.  (same person?)

 Another source

Name: POULTON, DENNIS

Initials: D
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Warrant Officer (Nav./Radar)
Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Unit Text: 255 Sqdn.
Date of Death: 08/01/1944
Service No: 778672
Additional information: Son of Thomas William and Emily Beatrice Poulton.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: VI. E. 11. (Source)

Chronology Redux

I think everyone needs to figure out again where R.C. Harris was posted before being posted with 23 Squadron.

He was first posted to Initial navigation course at RAF Staverton from 13 October 1941 to 26 October 1941. He was flying on Avro Ansons.

pictures from John Donkersley’s Flickr Website page

From 25 November 1941 to 7 December 1941 he was posted at No 3 Radio School who was flying on Bristol Blenheims

From 12 March 1942 to 22 April 1942, R.C. Harris was posted to No. 54 Operational Training Unit (O.T. U.) based at RAF Church Fenton. He was flying on Blenheims and Beaufighters.

Then from 2 May 1942 to 30 August 1942, he was posted to 456 Squadron RAAF flying on Beaufighters.

From 2 September 1942 to 21 January 1943 he was with 535 Squadron.

mystery pilot

He flew on Havocs, Tiger Moths, and Bostons.

From 4 March 1943 to 30 September 1943 he went back to 456 Squadron at RAF Valley and RAF Colerne where he flew on Mosquito NF MkII, occasional Ansons.

Next time the story will continue…