Unsung Heroes – Update

In the crew photo Eddy’s Uncle is on the right, in the centre is the pilot, Flt/Lt A.J. (Jack) Love and on the left is F/Sgt Malcolm Bunting their Air Gunner.

Eddy wrote back about his uncle.

Family anecdotes state that Harry told my Dad late in 1941 that his crew was being posted from 23 Squadron to 418 Squadron  “to train up the Canadians on intruder missions”

From the web (a site called WWII Stories) entries by a Harold Stone, a pilot on 23 Squadron, states  that his crew (two New Zealanders) and my Uncle’s crew were transferred to 418 on the 15th of December, 1941. In February 1942 he changed Observer to a Canadian, Sgt. Doug (Ollie) Allcorn, with whom he carried out 25 sorties. Sgt Allcorn is mentioned on page 21 of the RCAF Honours and Awards 1939-1949 and Harold Stone is the pilot he mentions in that citation.

Stone states that, apart from his crew and my Uncle’s crew, all the Canadians on 418 Squadron then were new to squadron flying and that the good old English weather severely restricted flying practice from December 1941 until March 1942. During this time 418 Squadron received a mixture of Boston IIIs and Havoc IIIs.

A letter I received back in 1981 from a K. S. Thompson (Flt. Lt. R.A.F. Retired) told me that in December 1940, Air Vice Marshall Leigh Mallory visited R.A.F. Digby. During that visit he told the C.O. of 29 Sqdn that the Air Ministry were concerned over the large number of aircraft being lost due to German intruder operations over our airfields. He was urgently trying to organise an intruder force of our own. He went on to say that the only suitable Squadron he had available was 23, then flying out of Ford Airfield in West Sussex.

As a result, a whole bunch of 29 Squadron Observers were immediately packed off to Ford!

They were crewed up with pilots and sent out on intruder operations without delay, losing 3 of Flt. Lt. Thompson’s friends over that Christmas period.

It was decided to form another intruder squadron at Bradwell Bay, Essex using Canadian aircrew and forming 418 Squadron R.C.A.F. which is where my Uncle and the others came into the picture.




8 thoughts on “Unsung Heroes – Update

  1. It’s interesting how many good men finish up dying because people like Leigh Mallory have supposedly “bright” ideas. Wouldn’t logic say that they would have been better off defending their own airfields in England rather than attacking German ones?

    • War is hell John. Taking decisions during those days must have been extremely difficult. Since I don’t know that much about how the RAF was functionning I can’t judge that decision. All I can say is that those men were unsung heroes. That’s the reason I post all these articles about 23 Squadron and everything remotely related to it.

      Thanks John for commenting. I always value your contribution.

  2. ALCORN, F/O Douglas Henderson (J15842)
    – Distinguished Flying Cross
    – No.418 Squadron
    – Award effective 11 November 1943 as per London Gazette dated 16 November 1943 and AFRO 113/44 dated 21 January 1944.

    Born at Andover, New Brunswick; home in Toronto; enlisted Toronto 23 October 1940.
    Trained at No.2 ITS (graduated 24 January 1940), No.5 BGS (graduated 1 September 1941), No.3 AOS (graduated 21 July 1941), and No.1 CNS (graduated 13 October 1941).
    Commissioned 1942.

    Presented with medal Toronto October 1947. Photo PL-7150 shows him as a Sergeant receiving instruction on a Browning machine gun, January 1942; PL-7291 shows him in March 1942 standing beside Boston aircraft.

    This officer has flown on intruder operations since March 1942, acting as navigator on a large number of operational sorties. He has patrolled the majority of the heavily defended enemy airfields in France, Belgium and Holland and damaged much railway transport. A skilful navigator, Flying Officer Alcorn has assisted his pilot to avoid fire from enemy defences and searchlights and shown exceptional ability in locating targets in adverse weather. His conduct at all times has been worthy of the highest praise.

    NOTE: Public Records Office Air 2/8992 has recommendation raised on 13 September 1943 when he had flown 45 sorties (134 hours 30 minutes) which is more detailed and has a sortie list:

    26 Mar 42
    Bombed oil refineries

    28 Mar 42
    Intruder – bombed drome, one enemy aircraft seen.

    17 May 42
    Intruder – bombed drome.

    30 May 42
    Bombed aerodrome

    1 June 42

    8 June 42
    Intruder – bombed Soesterburg-Leeuwarden

    10 Jun 42

    22 Jun 42

    27 Jun 42

    13 Jul 42
    Schipol and Soesterburg

    23 Jul 42
    Intruder; chased three enemy aircraft.
    Attacked one enemy aircraft over drome through intense flak.

    28 Jul 42
    Roadstead off Dutch coast.

    28 Jul 42

    31 Jul 42
    Bombed Philips Works at 500 feet; direct hits.

    31 Jul 42

    10 Aug 42
    Soesterburg and Schipol

    17 Aug 42

    20 Aug 42

    28 Aug 42
    Intruder; one train destroyed, one train damaged.

    13 Sep 42

    17 Sep 42
    Attacked one enemy aircraft; no claim.

    15 Oct 42
    Intruder; one enemy aircraft – too far.

    24 Oct 42
    Intruder; one train destroyed, two trains damaged.

    16 Nov 42

    28 Nov 42
    Intruder – one train damaged.

    2 Dec 42

    4 Dec 42
    Huy and Hunnut

    20 Dec 42

    23 Dec 42
    Boulogne-Le Havre

    7 July 43

    12 Jul 43
    Intruder; bombed railway yards at Elbeuf.

    16 Jul 43
    Intruder; bombed drome; one train damaged.

    17 Jul 43
    Intruder; bombed hangars at Bourges Orleans

    18 Jul 43
    Bombed railway junction and barges

    25 Jul 43
    Flower; bombed drome.

    26 Jul 43
    Flower; bombed drome.

    29 Jul 43
    Intruder; bombed drome.

    30 Jul 43
    Aborted; engine on fire.

    2 Aug 43
    Bombed target area; cannon fired buildings and Alchmar aerodrome.

    8 Aug 43
    Intruder; bombed target area.

    10 Aug 43
    Aborted; recalled, bad weather.

    12 Aug 43
    Intruder; bombed Merville drome.

    13 Aug 43

    15 Aug 43
    Intruder; bombed Evereux drome.

    16 Aug 43
    Intruder; bombed drome. Shipyard lights at Lorient then doused for duration patrol; one train damaged.

    19 Aug 43
    Intruder; bombed marshalling yards at Orleans; great explosions.

    23 Aug 43
    Stade and Nordholz

    This officer has been on intruder operations since March 1942 and has acted as navigator on 45 offensive sorties. He has at all times showed the greatest possible keenness to engage in operations against the enemy and has shown exceptional skill in locating targets under all conditions. The pilots with whom Flying Officer Alcorn has flown have damaged several enemy aircraft over their own bases, bombed and patrolled practically all the heavily defended aerodromes in France, Belgium and Holland and damaged much railway transport. He has consistently shown great presence of mind in helping his pilot to avoid gunfire and to take successful evasive action when engaged by searchlights and has gone out of his way to give advice to navigators less experienced than himself. Flying Officer Alcorn’s value in keeping up the present high standard of morale in this squadron cannot be overestimated.

    * * * * *

  3. I am flight sergeant Malcolm Bunting’s nephew. He is pictured along side his crew AJ Love and Harry Tilby. I thank you for the photograph. I have been at their graveside in Montdidier. God bless them all.

    • Malcolm, I’ve only just seen your post on this page. Hopefully you look at it again from time to time, if you do I would like to get in touch. I’ve still got quite a bit of paperwork on Harry and his crew, some of which might be of interest to you. I can be contacted on: edwardpaul@btinternet.com.

  4. My Great Uncle Earle Williams was a wireless operator/air-gunner on a Douglas Boston that crashed on take off from RAF West Malling on May 3 1942. Looking for any photos of the crash or any info anyone may have. Also if anyone has any photos of “A” flight 418 Squadron, I have a few from “B” but Earle was in A

  5. Douglas Alcorn went on to write a book entitled “From Hell To Breakfast” with Raymond Souster and published by Intruder Press, 39, Baby Point Road, Toronto in 1980. I was lucky to obtain a copy from Canada (I’m in Maidstone, South East England) and found a few references to my Uncle Harry and his crew.
    I was also lucky enough to be sent copies of the 418 Squadron Operations Record Book by Norman Malayney in Winnipeg and noted several entries relating to Douglas, including several ‘post operation’ reports.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s