One of the forgotten Few…
The text if the blog should disappear.
William Terence Montague Clark was born just outside of Croydon on 11th April 1919.
Having seen a recruiting notice at No. 615 Auxiliary Air Force, RAF Kenley – a succesful interview with the CO in March 1938 saw Terry put forward for training as an air-gunner.
April 1940 saw Terry flying in Fairey Battles & the Bristol Blenheim before his posting to 219 Squadron at Catterick on 12th July 1940 flying the latter. 219 Squadrons primary responsibilities had been night operations which saw in difficult conditions, a lack of engagement with the enemy.
The 12th October 1940 saw 219 Squadron moved further south to RAF Redhill and introduced to the Bristol Beaufighter. Terry now had to familiarise himself with airborne radar to detect the enemy, so trained as a Radio Observer before the squadron then moved to Tangmere on the 10th December. His job now was to detect the enemy, track them and guide the pilot until he could see them to shoot them down.
Terry’s first success with the enemy came on the 16/17th April 1941. Called up to fly with 219’s CO, Wg Cdr Pike after his regular navigator was taken ill, Terry guided to the interception and destruction of a JU88 and He111. Not a bad way to introduce yourself to the Squadron CO!
Further success came on 13th June 1941 when flying with good friend and regular pilot F/O Dudley Hobbis when they destroyed another HE111. Sadly Dudley was later lost during an Op when not flying with Terry, and it hit Terry hard as they had become very close.
Terry was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) for his success – gazetted on 8th July 1941, before a posting to 1455 Flight back at Tangmere flying Havocs. During 1942-1944 Terry had further success in the Mosquito – a JU188 by chance where he was off duty, but volunteered to step in and help 488 (NZ) Squadron who had a navigator fall ill. He left the RAF in November 1945 as a Flight Lieutenant.
I was extremely fortunate to get to spend an afternoon with now 100 year old Terry at one of his very good friends, near York. It was a huge honour to chat to Terry for a few hours and I even got to see and read his original logbook which was incredible. Terry was the last of the known UK based ‘Few’ I was still to meet, so it really was a special, personal occasion, and huge thanks to his great friend Steve for making it happen.
A real shame that sometimes the likes of Terry can get overlooked in context of the Battle of Britain – not having been a pilot. To me, and thankfully many others he and all his comrades were just as vital and deserve equal recognition – all heroes.
The activity continued into July and on 4/5 July, 456 Squadron Mosquitoes had a fruitful night: P/O S. Williams and F/O K. Havord in Mosquito HK282/L destroyed a Do 217, and He 177s were destroyed by F/Lt Bob Cowper DFC and F/O W. Watson in HK356/D; F/O E. Radford and F/Sgt W. Atkinson in HK312/G, and P/Os I. Sanderson and G. Nicholas in HK249B.
It was during June that the Germans began their flying-bomb assault. The first attack on 12/13 June was a flop because of lack of equipment and special fuel. Out of ten bombs launched, only four crossed the English coast. Three of these fell in open country and the fourth demolished a railway bridge in the East End of London, killing six people. However, the threat posed by these vengeance weapons was dire. Rings of anti-aircraft batteries were deployed in the flight paths of these incoming `malignant robots’, and `AntiDiver’ patrols by fighters – Tempests, Spitfires, Mustangs, Meteors and Mosquitoes – were set up to intercept. F/Lts K. Roediger and J. Dobson made 456 Squadron’s first definite V-1 kill on 9/10 July and by the end of the month ten had been destroyed. By the end of August, the squadron tally stood at twenty-four, F/Lt Roediger accounting for nine of them.
A lull in flying-bomb attacks saw the squadron training for cross-country navigation in preparation for new work. Prior to this, squadron aircraft were not permitted to penetrate deep into enemy territory because of the highly secret apparatus carried. This was no longer a concern and eight aircraft were deployed to Manston, a forward base, for patrols over the Holland and Belgium fronts. On 6/7 October, W/O J. Mulhall and F/O J. Jones in HK317/Y destroyed a Ju 188. Hopes for more successes were dashed when bad weather restricted flying for most of the rest of the month. On 5 November, W/Cdr Hampshire was promoted to Group captain and succeeded by S/Ldr B. Howard (later promoted to wing commander).
Once more the squadron’s role was changed from Continental patrols to new anti-diver work. This latest role had it searching for and destroying He 111s that were launching flying bombs from over the North Sea. Although successes were achieved, losses were high. On 7 November, an unusual crew was posted missing, Lt E. Woodward and Ensign W. Madden, two of four US Marine fliers attached to 456 Squadron for operational experience. They were to have returned to the USA to instruct on RAF night-fighting techniques. An extended period of poor weather followed and by 18/19 November it had been so bad that No. 2 Group, of which 456 Squadron was part, had been unable to operate for eleven consecutive days and twelve nights. The following day, F/Os D. Arnold and J. Stickley in Mosquito HK246/U destroyed a Heinkel that dropped burning into the sea.
W/O J. Mulhall and F/O J. Jones faded to return from an antidiver patrol on 23/24 November but the following night, F/Os F Stevens and F/O W Kellett in Mosquito HK290/J destroyed a He 111 after a twenty-five-minute chase. It blew up on the sea close to the Dutch coast On 30 December, 456 Squadron was re-located to Church Fenton and re-equipped with Mk XXX Mosquitoes.
The squadron was held in reserve for much of the first quarter of 1945. With its new aircraft, training now centred on another fresh role – that of night fighters for bomber support. Unfortunately, by the time it was ready for operations there were few opportunities left as the Luftwaffe was now a spent force and the battlefronts were almost beyond the range…
W/O Mulhall is on this memorial.
The crash is detailed here.
HAMPSHIRE, ENGLAND. 1943-09-23. AIRCREW MEMBERS OF A MOSQUITO NO. 456 SQUADRON RAAF OF FIGHTER COMMAND BASED AT RAF STATION MIDDLE WALLOP.
LEFT TO RIGHT:
409368 FLYING OFFICER (FO) M. N. AUSTIN, MELBOURNE, VIC
411157 WARRANT OFFICER A. S. MCEVOY, SYDNEY, NSW
411411 FO R. S. WILLIAMS, PATONGA BEACH, NSW
404891 FLIGHT LIEUTENANT G. PANITZ, SOUTHPORT, QLD
403330 PILOT OFFICER (PO) G. F. GATENBY, BATEMANS BAY, NSW
404897 PO J. M. FRASER, BRISBANE, QLD
404543 FO J. W. NEWELL, MAREEBA, QLD
403128 PO A. M. ABBEY, COFFS HARBOUR, NSW
414280 FO S. D. P. SMITH, BRISBANE, QLD
403654 FLIGHT SERGEANT A. J. KEATING, SYDNEY, NSW (IN FRONT)
Date 23 September 1943
No. 456 Squadron RAAF was formed on 30 June 1941 at RAF Valley, Isle of Anglesey, Wales, in the United Kingdom under Article XV of the Empire Air Training Scheme as a night-fighter squadron, equipped with Defiant turret-fighters. The squadron was soon re-equipped with Beaufighters and scored its first kill in January 1942. Throughout the year, the squadron’s aircraft operated in a mainly defensive role over the United Kingdom, but in December 1942, the squadron was re-equipped with Mosquito fighters and began offensive “Ranger” missions over Europe attacking a variety of targets ground targets including German rolling stock, and also attacking German bombers close to their airfields during “Intruder” missions.
Someone’s comment and request about information on RAAF 456 Squadron
W/O (Aus410361) John Leonard MULHALL (pilot) RAAF My Uncle died on 24/11/1944 flying a de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito NF Mk XVII 456 Sqn RAAF HK317 over the channel. He recently got mentioned a couple of times in Britain At War magazine but I have failed to find any further information about him. Any suggestions please?
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:-
Total hours: 409.40
Total of Operational Hours: 48.35
Pilots flown with during this period:
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. GEE Homing and Fixing (GEE is a British radio navigation system)
- 2. To Gatwick. GEE Exercise
- 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).
About “Howely”… Officer Commanding 456 Squadron
From 1 June 1943 to 14 December 1943 Wing Commander G. Howden was Commanding Officer
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.
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.
END OF ORIGINAL POST
To be continued…
This was the first post written on April 5, 2010. The group picture features pilots and navigators of 23 Squadron. It was taken probably in June 1945, but no later than July 1945 since I know Eugene Gagnon, a French-Canadian Mosquito pilot, came back to Quebec.
This is post no. 432.
I don’t believe anyone who finds this blog will read everything in it from the start. My blog was not created to monetise what I write. I don’t monetise the sacrifice of the Fallen or those who came back and relived what they went through during WWII.
The advertisements on this blog is generated by WordPress. It could be distracting sometimes, but that’s how you donate to keep this blog online.
Always feel free to comment because I always reply and help with any request.
This could be the start of the amazing story of the airmen of a forgotten squadron in Little Snoring.
Please leave a comment…
Picture taken in 1945 before the squadron was disbanded (Courtesy Tom Cushing via Peter Smith)
No. 23 Squadron formed at Fort Grange, Gosport on 1 Sep 1915 under the command of one of the RAF’s most experienced operational pilots – Captain Louis Strange. After a brief period attempting to counter German airship flights over London, the Squadron moved to France with its FE2Bs initially employed on escort duties. By early 1917, Spad single-seaters had arrived, and were being used on offensive patrols. By the end of the War, the Squadron had converted to Dolphins, and flew these until disbanded at the end of 1919.
On 1 July 1925, No. 23 Squadron reformed at Henlow with Snipes, but these were replaced shortly after with Gloster Gamecocks. In 1931, the Squadron was tasked with carrying out trials on the new Hawker Hart two-seaters, taking the production version, known as Demons, on strength in 1933. It wasn’t until late 1938 that the squadron received its first monoplanes in the form of Blenheims, and these were used as night-fighters in the early days of World War II whilst based at Wittering. In 1941, Havocs replaced the Blenheims, and these were used with great success in the intruder role, until themselves replaced by the Mosquito in mid-1942. At the end of the year, the squadron moved to Malta in support of allied operations in the Mediterranean before returning to the UK in 1944.
In September 1945, the Squadron had disbanded, reforming a year later at Wittering with Mosquito night-fighters. By late 1953, Venom night fighters had joined the Squadron, before Javelin all-weather supersonic fighters replaced these in 1957. In 1964, the Lightning replaced the Javelin, and it was with this classic aircraft that the squadron continued until Phantoms were received in late 1975, this coinciding with a moved to Wattisham in Suffolk. After the Falklands War in 1982, the Squadron occupied Port Stanley airfield until reduced to a Flight of four aircraft in 1988, reforming at Leeming with Tornado F3s. Defence cuts following the end of the Cold War saw the unit disbanded in March 1994. No. 23 Squadron was again reformed, this time as part of the Waddington AEW Wing in 1996, sharing not only the aircraft with the already established No. 8 Squadron, but operational duties in Europe and the Gulf.
The Squadron was officially disbanded on 2 Oct 2009.
This Squadron has been virtually reformed…
If you have any information about 23 Squadron and you wish to share what you know, you can contact me using this form.
Update about the pilot
After the war my father joined the BBC and worked for them till 1969. He was involved in the Nuremberg trials in Germany but as you will know most of the people who survived the war rarely spoke about their experiences of that time. He was briefly posted to Germany working for the BBC overseas network back in 1951. My father married my mother in 1950 and my twin sister and I were born in 1951. My younger sister was born in 1954. My father and the family spent 3 years in Sydney Australia on an exchange with the BBC and the Australian broadcasting corporation from 1956 to 1959 when we returned to Britain. We eventually moved to Edgbaston in Birmingham where he became Head of the Midland Region of the BBC until 1969. He then spent 3 years in Singapore as an advisor with the British overseas commission. On his return he was then sent to Tonga for a 2 year stint. He had become a specialist in multilingual broadcasting. On his return to Britain he took up simultaneous translation for visiting Germans and also translated german technical papers. Of course he was fluent in German and spoke it like a native! Sadly he developed Motor Neurone Disease and died in 1990. He was still working on translations and was teaching himself Isaiah and Chinese. He was fluent in German, French and Italian as well as having a working knowledge of Dutch. He was highly intelligent and did not suffer fools gladly. That is not to say that he was unkind but he had a brilliant wit! He kept in touch with several well known actors who he met during the war.T
This blog is all about remembering the Fallen and also those who survived.
Collection Theo Griffiths (courtesy Richard Cooper)
According to my genealogical research, William Herbert Rogers was born on April 8, 1920, in Teignmouth, Devon, England. His father was William Morrott Rogers and his mother was Ellen Elizabeth Passmore (maiden name to be validated). He had one brother Earnest and two sisters Ada Winifred and Nellie (to be validated also).
Mosquito FB Mark VI, serial HJ674, of 23 Squadron, was lost in an intruder mission over Sorbolo in the Province of Parma. The plane took off from Alghero, Sardinia, in the night of February 6,1944. The crew was F/Lt (64901) David Leslie Porter (pilot) RAFVR was taken prisoner and F/O (147669) William Herbert ROGERS (navigator) RAFVR – was killed.
F/Lt David Leslie Porter survived and became a prisoner of war. He was taken to Stalag Luft 3 according to my research. His navigator is buried in the Milan War Cemetery.
William Herbert Rogers is remembered on this Website.
Readers have contributed to this blog since 2010 when it was first created. RAF 23 Squadron was unknown to me as well as the pilots and navigators. Little by little my knowledge grew with each comment. Since 2010 there were more than 1,000 comments made.
This is post No. 420 which follows post No. 419.
Someday someone will probably comment on William Herbert Rogers or David Leslie Porter who survived the war. If this happens, my interest about 23 Squadron will be rekindled once more, and I will write another post.
This blog is all about remembering the Fallen and also those who survived.
William Herbert Rogers and David Leslie Porter are probably on this group picture. I have no way to tell.
A Flight 23 Squadron
10 November 1943