Eddy mentioned his name last time…

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.

***

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
Ghent
Bombed oil refineries

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

17 May 42
Schipol
Intruder – bombed drome.

30 May 42
Soesterburg
Bombed aerodrome

1 June 42
Leeuwarden
Intruder

8 June 42
Leeuwarden
Intruder – bombed Soesterburg-Leeuwarden

10 Jun 42
Amiens
Calibration

22 Jun 42
Chievres
Intruder

27 Jun 42
Amiens

13 Jul 42
Schipol and Soesterburg
Intruder

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

28 Jul 42
Roadstead off Dutch coast.

28 Jul 42
Leeuwarden
Intruder

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

31 Jul 42
Leeuwarden
Intruder

10 Aug 42
Soesterburg and Schipol
Intruder

17 Aug 42
Chartres-Orleans
Intruder

20 Aug 42
Criel-Beauvais
Intruder

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

13 Sep 42
Leeuwarden
Intruder

17 Sep 42
Melun-Bretigny
Attacked one enemy aircraft; no claim.

15 Oct 42
Brussels-St.Trond
Intruder; one enemy aircraft – too far.

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

16 Nov 42
Ghent
Nickelling

28 Nov 42
Melun-Bretigny
Intruder – one train damaged.

2 Dec 42
Evereux
Intruder

4 Dec 42
Huy and Hunnut
Nickelling

20 Dec 42
Bourges-Avord
Intruder

23 Dec 42
Boulogne-Le Havre
Roadstead

7 July 43
Evereux
Intruder

12 Jul 43
Tours-Orleans
Intruder; bombed railway yards at Elbeuf.

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

17 Jul 43
Bourges-Avord
Intruder; bombed hangars at Bourges Orleans

18 Jul 43
Orly
Bombed railway junction and barges

25 Jul 43
Deelen
Flower; bombed drome.

26 Jul 43
Evereux
Flower; bombed drome.

29 Jul 43
Courmeilles
Intruder; bombed drome.

30 Jul 43
Florennes
Aborted; engine on fire.

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

8 Aug 43
Rennes
Intruder; bombed target area.

10 Aug 43
St.Dizier
Aborted; recalled, bad weather.

12 Aug 43
Cambrai-Merville
Intruder; bombed Merville drome.

13 Aug 43
Dijon
Intruder

15 Aug 43
Evereux-St.Andre
Intruder; bombed Evereux drome.

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

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

23 Aug 43
Stade and Nordholz
Intruder

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.

11 thoughts on “ALCORN, F/O Douglas Henderson (J15842) – DFC

  1. It’s nice to see that this brave gentleman still did a little bit of nickelling just to keep him up to the mark in case he forgot what to do. And was this the only German place name chosen by the RCAF themselves…”Berlin-Bastard”?

      1. Quite a trip!

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

    1. Bastard is popping up in France on Google Maps but nothing much. You know what nickelling means don’t you John?

    2. Found on a forum

      The word Nickel was a code word for leaflet dropping, as Gardening was for aerial mine laying and both types of duty were sometimes part of the later stages of training as a means of bringing new crews into closer contact with Enemy territory, they were also done by new crews as early ops on a Sqn. As you have already found for the 1000 Bomber raids they sometimes sent OTU crews on actual ops as well.I don’t know but I suspect that such trips were on an opportunity basis rather than firmly set as part of the syllabus of an OTU.

  2. About Harold Stone

    Found on a forum

    RE: 1 Sept 1941 23 Squadron Intruder/Havocs
    Author: sussexresearch
    Time Stamp:
    21:49:16 16 November 2005
    Post:
    Hi Luc

    This is not immediately related to your question but as this tells of Havocs of 23 sqd at the time of your crash, it may be of interest. I received this letter some two years ago via the 23 Sqd archivist. It originated from a Harold Stone.

    “I think it may put things into perspective if I point out that at the time of joining my first operational Squadron (No. 23 at Ford), I had 203 hrs.5 mins. flying under my belt of which only 4 hrs. were dual night flying and 31hrs.5mins was solo night flying. Prior to leaving OTU a call was made for volunteers for two crews to go onto Intruder operations. Not knowing anything about what this entailed, I was one of the two volunteers posted to Ford together with another crew who was to join another Squadron based there. My memory does not extend to remembering the names of the other crews so I will refer to them as crew A (my fellow 23 member) and crew B the other. My Canadian rear gunner (Sgt. Louis Nault) went with me and I was allocated a New Zealand observer (Sgt Frank Hogg).

    Imagine our surprise and, I must say, consternation to find that the planes we were to fly on night operations were Havocs which had been intended for France but arrived too late for any action there. The instruments and instruction manuals were in French! The engineers told us that, if the instrument needles pointed to quarter past the hour everything should be performing OK. If not, we should try and determine what the faulty instrument was from it’s appearance. Naturally, no dual was available or possible. The bank of some thirty switches on a panel had illuminated tips to show their position at night but this was of little consequence, as we had no idea what they were for.

    Within a few days, the B crew was seen to come out of cloud over the channel and go straight in. No one had any idea what had gone wrong.

    After having 11 hrs. Daytime practice flying Crew A and ourselves had our first shot at night flying. Crew A took off ahead of us and as it climbed to about 300ft. it plunged to earth exploding in a fireball. We were already on our way down the runway and took off over the crash site flying for 1hr. 5 minutes before returning to base.

    Five nights later we had a further stab at night flying only to find that as we climbed away, at around 3 to 4 hundred feet, all the instruments went haywire, the port wing dropped sharply and we were on our way down! Full rudder failed to pick up the wing so I reached for the throttles only to find that the port throttle had crept back. I was able to correct the situation by re-applying full throttle and not feeling too good terminated the session after 40 minutes. On landing we discovered that this American made plane did not have a friction nut to secure the throttles whilst at full throttle as had all the English planes we had flown previously. Thereafter I made sure that I had my hand on the throttles until we reached normal climbing speed and able to throttle back. There is no doubt in my mind that this problem was the cause of Crew A’s crash.”

    After experiences like this, I am constantly amazed that we won.

    Phil

  3. Again with the names of Crew A

    Well worth a read

    Author: sussexresearch
    Time Stamp:
    20:10:23 12 September 2003

    Post:
    Whilst researching a Sgt Denyer of 23 Squadron at Ford in Sussex, I received this part letter. I read this and sat back and wondered, ‘How the h*** did we win?’
    I guess it must have been the spirit not to lose?

    Recollections of Harold Stone

    “I think it may put things into perspective if I point out that at the time of joining my first operational Squadron ( No. 23 at Ford), I had 203 hrs.5 mins. flying under my belt of which only 4 hrs. were dual night flying and 31hrs.5mins was solo night flying. Prior to leaving OTU a call was made for volunteers for two crews to go onto Intruder operations. Not knowing anything about what this entailed, I was one of the two volunteers posted to Ford together with another crew who was to join another Squadron based there. My memory does not extend to remembering the names of the other crews so I will refer to them as crew A ( my fellow 23 member) and crew B the other. My Canadian rear gunner ( Sgt. Louis Nault ) went with me and I was allocated a New Zealand observer ( Sgt Frank Hogg ).

    Imagine our surprise and, I must say, consternation to find that the planes we were to fly on night operations were Havocs which had been intended for France but arrived too late for any action there. The instruments and instruction manuals were in French ! The engineers told us that, if the instrument needles pointed to quarter past the hour everything should be performing OK. If not, we should try and determine what the faulty instrument was from it’s appearance. Naturally, no dual was available or possible. The bank of some thirty switches on a panel had illuminated tips to show their position at night but this was of little consequence as we had no idea what they were for.

    Within a few days, the B crew was seen to come out of cloud over the channel and go straight in. No one had any idea what had gone wrong.

    After having 11 hrs. daytime practice flying Crew A and ourselves had our first shot at night flying. Crew A took off ahead of us and as it climbed to about 300ft. it plunged to earth exploding in a fireball. We were already on our way down the runway and took off over the crash site flying for 1hr. 5 mins before returning to base.

    Five nights later we had a further stab at night flying only to find that as we climbed away, at around 3 to 4 hundred feet, all the instruments went haywire, the port wing dropped sharply and we were on our way down ! Full rudder failed to pick up the wing so I reached for the throttles only to find that the port throttle had crept back. I was able to correct the situation by re-applying full throttle and not feeling too good terminated the session after 40 minutes. On landing we discovered that this American made plane did not have a friction nut to secure the throttles whilst at full throttle as had all the English planes we had flown previously. Thereafter I made sure that I had my hand on the throttles until we reached normal climbing speed and able to throttle back. There is no doubt in my mind that this problem was the cause of Crew A’s crash.”

    NOTE: Crew A were Denyer and Graham.

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