Alec Lawson or Alastair Lawson – Redux

This is a comment I had received on this blog in 2011.

Hi,
my Uncle Alastair Lawson was a pilot with 23 Squadron in Malta (OC B Flight). He had a Kiwi Navigator F/O Roberston who is still alive AFIK and living in Auckland. Unfortunately my uncle’s eyesight has gone so I cannot show him the photos.

Do you have any other photos of 23 Squadron personnel?

Regards

Al Bowie

Sydney Australia

I have been writing this blog  since 2010 with Peter Smith’s help whose father was Tommy Smith. I had known more and more about 23 Squadron in 2011 but not enough to help this reader.

Information about Alec Lawson were very scarce on the Internet except here on this Webpage.

Johnny Burton: Went to Test Pilots’ School and also to APS at Leconfield.

Chris Capper: Went to Test Pilots’ School and eventually joined de Havilland – I believe he took over John Derry’s work after the crash.

‘Rox’ Roxberry: My pilot for the second two years on the Squadron. Also went to Leconfield and Farnborough and spent a year with the Yanks at Edwards base.

Les de Garis: Also went to Leconfield and each time the weather was unfit for flying we all heard Les’s lecture ‘T.S.C.S. x SIN Angle Off’ again – and again – and again.

Sax Saxby: One of the best pilots on the Squadron, but unfortunately in those days inhibited by the PII ranking.

Monty Mountford: Overcame the PII syndrome and became a Groupie or something. ‘

Chips’ Hunter: Excellent swimmer and diver. A bit hair-raising to fly with – later killed in an air crash.

Iain Dick: Good footballer.

Alec Lawson: Never took a parachute and always sat on a seat cushion made from the folded engine covers.

Dave Spencer: We did OTUs on Canada and England together and he was my pilot for three years until grounded with high tone deafness. Like Jimmy Gill he joined the Equipment Branch.

‘Ferdie’ Fortune: Hit Rox’s tailplane during formation. We then discovered he was half blind in one eye.

Archer: Alec Lawson fell out with him one night in the Mess and chased him back to his room (the last block on the left when looking with your back to the Mess at Gutersloh). Archer hid round the corner in his room and locked the door. When Alec couldn’t get in, he fetched his 12 bore and blasted a hole in the door. Luckily Archer was out of the way, but his raincoat was hanging on the door!

‘Willie’ Williams: Spent all his time reading Bradshaw and could tell you the time of almost every train in the UK and all the connections.

Jock Marshall: Received his Croix de Guerre and legion of Honour through the normal post. We celebrated on the beach at Sylt with crates of Guiness left in the edge of the sea to cool.

Jackie Butt.

Doc’ Orrell.

‘Bunny’ Warren.

Not much of a lead… 

But Peter Smith had this picture in his manuscript he sent me about Hector Goldie, Vicki’s father-in-law.

 

The Baron and Alec Lawson, also with 23 Squadron (via Norman Conquer)

Normand Conquer had it in his collection. The Baron was on this picture taken beside someone whose name was Alec Lawson. Alec was Alastair Lawson, Al’s uncle.

Al Bowie has been reading my blog ever since and he wrote a few comments. This morning Al wrote me a personal message about his uncle.

 

 

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And the answers are… Redux

This blog is still alive and well, I am just waiting for someone to find it and contribute.

What follows was written in August 2010.

The original is here.

 

I sent an e-mail to George Stewart this week after posting Monday’s article…

He answered back and he insists I call him George.

I am not the kind of guy to argue with a Mosquito pilot…


George identified most of the airmen on the pictures that Paul Beaudet’s daughter sent me two weeks ago.

Paul Beaudet was George’s navigator on all his 50 missions. They never suffered any injuries.

I would venture to say that they were each other’s good luck charm.

Getting back to the photographs, I first believed that these pictures were taken at Luqa, Malta, but George told me they were taken in Alghero in Sardinia and also in Naples, Italy.

This is the first picture I posted last time.

This is what George Stewart wrote me…

His answers are in blue…

This photo shows my navigator F/O J. R. Paul Beaudet, beside F/L J. (Jackie) Curd, a squadron pilot who flew with his navigator F/S P.H.Devlin.

This photo shows me with F/O A.L. (Al) Berry, a squadron navigator, whose pilot was P/O R. A. (Ron) Neil, both members of the RNZAF.

The other officer on the left side of the photo escapes my memory for now, but I think he was our engineering officer. This shot was taken in Naples, and you can see Mount Vesuvius in the background.

We landed here off the Italian cruiser Garibaldi, which sailed us here from Cagliary, Sardinia, after we found out that the squadron was going back to the U.K., in the spring of 1944.

We sailed from here to Liverpool on the Strathnaver.

The picture shows a few of us in Sassari (Sardinia), a city close to our base at Alghero in Sardinia, (after we did a bit of shopping. I bought a lovely small oil painting, for 800 lire).

In the dark battledress to my right, is F/O Ken Eastwood’s navigator F/L G.T.(Griff) Rogers.

‘Scappa’ W/O.K.V.Rann, a squadron navigator who flew with Lt. J.H.Christie, of the Dutch Airforce, is on my right, and Paul to his right.


I’m not sure about the chap in the top picture with his right arm around my navigator Paul, but it may come to me later; it may have been taken a the #1 B.P.D. tent camp in Algiers.


Paul Beaudet and the Vesuvius of course.

Al Berry again, likely taken the same day as the photo on page 1, in Naples.

With all these new articles on No. 23 Squadron, I would like to consider myself as being George’s navigator on the Internet…

End ot the original post

Footnote

Please leave comments when you read some of my posts on 23 Squadron. It’s always interesting to hear from people who are interested in 23 Squadron.

Commenting on Ron Neil

Post 315

Peter Neil used the search engine on this blog to find all I wrote about his father.

I am one of Ron Neil’s sons, and recognized the photo having seen an original many years ago. My father died suddenly in 1969 (aged 46) but we were all well acquainted with his joining the RAF at a very young age. He didn’t make much of his war experience but we held him in some awe for his willingness to leave New Zealand, train in Canada and serve in Great Britain.

Berry and Neil

Al Berry and his pilot Ron Neil

Collection Paul Beaudet via Diane Beaudet Carlucci

951319899113_0_ALB

Collection Paul Beaudet via Diane Beaudet Carlucci

Pilots and navigators - Al Berry (N) and his pilot Ron Neil both from the RNZAF

Collection Paul Beaudet via Diane Beaudet Carlucci

To contact me you can add a comment like Peter did or use this contact form.

Post no. 126

This is post no. 126.

If you are interested in 23 Squadron a little known Mosquito Squadron in the RAF during World War II, then you should read this blog from the start.

Never_Say_Die

One post a day will take you more than four months. Of course you don’t have to read everything.

But then you will miss a lot of great stories…

Paul Beaudet and George Stewart 1

Just use the search engine and type in a name of someone you know who could have been related to that squadron. That how people find about their relatives.

Diane Carlucci was the first one to do so.

Paul Beaudet DFC

Paul Beaudet

 

Members of the Gosling family also found it.

23 Squadron end of the war 3

Robert Harris is one of the latest to have done so. His father was Eugène Gagnon’s navigator.

No. 23 Squadron Aircrew 1945 R. Harris

R. C. Harris

He can now share with all of us what stories his father told him about 23 Squadron.

I don’t have any relatives related to 23 Squadron. In fact I never knew that squadron existed in the first place.

I owe it all to this man. He wanted me to help him find more about his hero when he was young.

Marcel Bergeron at the crash scene

Marcel Bergeron

Marcel Bergeron, who is now 85 years old, is seen here in front of Eugène Gagnon’s Republic Seabee.

Eugène died on October 21, 1947. Very little was known about Eugène during WWII. So I started looking in 2010 and wrote about it here on this blog.

Everything is on this blog! 

numérisation0011

But this blog is not just only about Eugène Gagnon a little know French-Canadian Mosquito pilot, it’s about all those whose relatives are sharing what they know about 23 Squadron and thus will keep this squadron operational forever.

photo 23 Squadron Crest

Alec Lawson or Alastair Lawson

I had received a comment on this blog in 2011.

Hi,
my Uncle Alastair Lawson was a pilot with 23 Sqn in Malta (OC B Flight). He had a Kiwi Navigator F/O Roberston who is still alive AFIK and living in Auckland. Unfortunately my uncle’s eyesight has gone so I cannot show him the photos.

Do you have any other photos of 23 Sqn personnel?

Regards

Al Bowie

Sydney Australia

I have been writing this blog  since 2010 with Peter Smith’s help, and I knew more and more about 23 Squadron but not enough to help this reader.

Information about Alec Lawson is very scarce on the Internet except here on this Webpage.

Johnny Burton: Went to Test Pilots’ School and also to APS at Leconfield. Chris Capper: Went to Test Pilots’ School and eventually joined de Havilland – I believe he took over John Derry’s work after the crash. ‘Rox’ Roxberry: My pilot for the second two years on the Squadron. Also went to Leconfield and Farnborough and spent a year with the Yanks at Edwards base. Les de Garis: Also went to Leconfield and each time the weather was unfit for flying we all heard Les’s lecture ‘T.S.C.S. x SIN Angle Off’ again – and again – and again. Sax Saxby: One of the best pilots on the Squadron, but unfortunately in those days inhibited by the PII ranking. Monty Mountford: Overcame the PII syndrome and became a Groupie or something. ‘Chips’ Hunter: Excellent swimmer and diver. A bit hair-raising to fly with – later killed in an air crash. Iain Dick: Good footballer. Alec Lawson: Never took a parachute and always sat on a seat cushion made from the folded engine covers. Dave Spencer: We did OTUs on Canada and England together and he was my pilot for three years until grounded with high tone deafness. Like Jimmy Gill he joined the Equipment Branch. ‘Ferdie’ Fortune: Hit Rox’s tailplane during formation. We then discovered he was half blind in one eye. ? Archer: Alec Lawson fell out with him one night in the Mess and chased him back to his room (the last block on the left when looking with your back to the Mess at Gutersloh). Archer hid round the corner in his room and locked the door. When Alec couldn’t get in, he fetched his 12 bore and blasted a hole in the door. Luckily Archer was out of the way, but his raincoat was hanging on the door! ‘Willie’ Williams: Spent all his time reading Bradshaw and could tell you the time of almost every train in the UK and all the connections. Jock Marshall: Received his Croix de Guerre and legion of Honour through the normal post. We celebrated on the beach at Sylt with crates of Guiness left in the edge of the sea to cool. Jackie Butt. ‘Doc’ Orrell. ‘Bunny’ Warren.

Not much of a lead… 

But last week Peter Smith had this picture with his manuscript that he sent me about Hector Goldie, Vicki’s father-in-law.

Normand Conquer had it in his collection.

The Baron and Alec Lawson, also with 23 Squadron (via Norman Conquer)

The Baron had his picture taken beside someone whose name was Alec Lawson.

Could that Alec be Alastair Lawson, Al’s uncle?

The Baron and Alec probably knew each other of course since both flew in Malta together.

I hope Al Bowie is still reading my blog and sees what Peter and I have been up to since 2010 by clicking here.

To be on the safe side I wrote him an e-mail…

I wonder where that picture was taken because this Mosquito has the Polish Air Force logo painted on its  nose and this is surely not taken in Malta by the way they are dressed up and the radar nose of the Mosquito.

So many questions that Al probably has some of the answers in his uncle logbook.

Note:

By the time I wrote this post, Al contacted me. Alec is Alastair on the picture and Al has his logbooks and he is willing to share some of it.

Alastair Lawson was with 605 Squadron after his posting with 23 Squadron. So this picture must have been taken at the 605’s airbase.

Tribute to Alden Berry

Jake Drummond who has done extensive research on some British airmen killed in WWII contacted me this week.

Click here.  

He had a picture of Al Berry with two of his friends. One friend was killed when his Lancaster shot down over Sweden. 

But Jake had something more than that picture to share with me

Click here.

Alden Berry was President of IPS in 1971 before going to Japan for some years.
He was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1920. A strong family man, father of three sons, he was a devout Christian and loving husband of Setsuko.
His early years in Japan saw him taking many portraits of children and weddings. We often had a laugh about the ‘fathers’’ of the bride making Alden repeat the whole session if the Bride and Groom were smiling!

His beautiful photos taken around Kobe and Japan often won him honours at club level and in national exhibitions. I remember the night Alden brought his young son, Ian, to join IPS whilst still in school uniform.

Alden was in the group of IPS members who travelled to China for a month some years ago. Shaw Tan, Joan Carson and Rob Burkitt all enjoyed his company on that trip.
My memory of Alden will be of a gentleman of high honour and great integrity towards his fellow man.

Editor’s Note: Alden Leonard Berry passed away peacefully on April 3, 2012.

As a final farewell to Alden Leonard Berry, these two pictures from George Stewart collection when George and Alden were together in Course No. 6 at No. 60 O.T.U.

George Stewart collection

George Stewart collection

You can recognized some familiar faces like Griff Rogers killed also in WWII with his pilot Ken Eastwood.

Lest we forget.

I wrote George Stewart about my post on Alden Leonard Berry.

George remembers Al and wrote this a few moments ago…

Al flew with Ron Neil, his pilot, and was in our hut, operating with us in our time.  Always the gentleman always a friend.

We’ll miss him.

Paying Homage to Flying Officer A. L. (Al) Berry

I have not talked a lot about Al Berry. Last time was August 16, 2010.

Time flies…

Flying Officer A. L. Berry was from New Zeland and he was a navigator with 23 Squadron.

Paul Beaudet’s daughter sent some pictures of Al Berry. Paul Beaudet was George Stewart’s navigator.

Here is the post I wrote on August 16, 2010, to refresh your memory.

Do you have more information on F/O A.L. (Al) Berry?

Flying Officer  A.L. Berry was with the RNZAF.

He was a navigator in No. 23 Squadron of the RAF.

This is what George Stewart told me. He identified him also on the pictures sent to me by Paul Beaudet’s daughter.

Sometimes it only takes one clue to open many doors… So this is the first door.

F/O A.L. (Al) Berry

Are you related to him?

F/O A.L. (Al) Berry on the right, George Stewart is in the middle

This is another picture in Diane’s collection where we see F/O A.L. (Al) Berry.

Looks very much like F/O A.L. (Al) Berry. Look at his insigna. He is a navigator.

Want another picture?

This is what George said about F/O A.L. (Al) Berry when he saw this next picture I sent him…

This photo shows me with F/O A.L. (Al) Berry, a squadron navigator, whose pilot was P/O R. A. (Ron) Neil, both members of the RNZAF.

Could this be his pilot, P/O R. A. (Ron) Neil?

F/O A.L. (Al) Berry and P/O R. A. (Ron) Neil?

Try this montage…

Déjà vu…?

Are you related somehow to these airmen?

If so, write me a comment.

Someone wrote but he is not directly related to Al Berry.

Next time I will introduce you to someone who is doing exactly what I have been doing since 2010.

Paying homage to airmen even though we are not directly related to them.

The Baron’s Punch

Epilog

Everything Peter wrote about 23 Squadron is true inasmuch the veterans he interviewed told him the truth.

Peter Smith, whose father was Tommy Smith, also a pilot with 23 Squadron, has done a lot of research on his father since 2006 and he was willing to share everything with me so I could reach out with this blog about 23 Squadron and find relatives of these fine airmen.

Someday Peter and I will have to meet and drink to all this…maybe Vicki could also join us.

On a final note, this is an e-mail Vicki sent two weeks ago. I kept it for this special occasion.

Beware though because this is could be lethal…

Hi Pierre,

Here is the Baron’s Punch

1 bottle of gin

1 bottle of Sweet Martini
I bottle of Dry Martini
I bottle of orange squash
3 or 4 litres of dry cider
1/4 litre of Cointreau

Block of ice

1 sliced apple and 1 sliced orange

Serves 30 – 60 glasses depending on the size

Warning this is lethal RAF grade! We once served it at a party and everyone was incoherent within an hour!

For the more faint hearted add either 1-2 litres of lemonade if you like it sweet or 1 – 2 litres of soda water.

Good luck and have fun!

Best wishes

Vicki

Tomorrow more about “Al” Berry who was in fact Alden Berry.

News from George

I have been sending George Stewart  the pictures that Diane has sent me.

I was afraid to annoy George with all this as I sent him two pictures.

Hi Pierre,
Of course you’re not annoying me; it’s not unlike priming a pump, I’m enjoying it!!!

Now, I believe that  we can now safely assume the identity of the navigator with his left hand on his pilot’s shoulder is F/O K.A.Stretch, and his pilot on the center bike is F/O G. B.(George) Wightman, photographed just by our Nissan Hut, down at the site where we were billeted.

This would also support the friendship with another navigator, Paul Beaudet, because of our close proximity at site 5. I also was photographed on my bike on the same occasion; likely both taken by Paul Beaudet.

The pilot on the other bike is F/O G,Austin, whose navigator was F/S J. Redwood. They started their tour on 5th of September, whereas George Wightman and his navigator had been operating for some time, possibly even in Sardinia.

On page 2, upper left, we find four airmen, L to R; Al Berry, Ken Eastwood, Paul Beaudet, and Al’s pilot, (who had just recently been  promoted to Pilot Officer), Ron Neil, and they appear side by side in the photo on the right.

This is great mixing and matching!

Cheers

Remember when I talked about Ken Eastwood

He was there all along in the picture…