Preserving the Past – No. 18 Course No. 51 O.T.U. Cranfield

This is a group picture from Theo Griffiths’ collection of memorabilia. It has the names on it to pay homage to some of them.

I wonder how many survived the war.

Sergt. W.F. Price, Sergt. E.J. Oboldstone. Sergt. L.D. Hayter, Sergt. R. Sullivan,
Sergt. T. Griffiths, Sergt. C.C. Adams, L.A.P. Nowlan,

Sergt. D.M. Selby, Sergt. J.R. Coote, Sergt. N. Sisley, F/O J.E. Morris, Sergt. J.H. Scott, Sergt. L.R.C. Lasham, Sergt. C.H. Curl,

P/O D.O. Norcott. F/O W.R. Wells, F/L M.H.A. Phillips, S/Ldr I.T. de K. Bocock,
F/L B.T. Brigg, F/O A.G. Woods, P/O A.D. Somerville

no-51-otu

Collection Theo Griffiths DFC
Courtesy Richard Cooper

We all know about Theo Griffiths who became a Mosquito pilot with 23 Squadron, won a DFC, and survived the war.

Rick Maude and Theodore Griffiths mod

Theo is in the last row.

no-51-otu-sergeant-theo-griffiths

He was with No. 51 O.T.U. which is an Operation Training Unit of the RAF.Theo’s logbook says he was there in December 1942.

logbook1

His Squadron Leader was I.T. de K. Bocock according to the caption.

Squadron Leader Ian Maxwell Theodore De Kaap Bocock did not survive the war.

no-51-otu-squadron-leader-ian-theodore-de-k-bocock

 

 We Never Slept the Story of 605 Squadron

Click above for the PDF

I found this information in the history of 605 Squadron.

Page 77…

The first operational sorties with the Mosquito Mk II took place on the 10th March 1943, but alas it was not an auspicious start with the new machines as Fl Lt Mike Olley AFC and his navigator W/O Vipond were killed on an intruder sortie to Tours. The Squadron log wrote of the men :-
“F/Lt M.G. Olley, apart from being an absolutely first class pilot and an exceptional instructor, was a man of great personal charm and was very good company. His keenness and eager desire to stop the Hun (which were probably his undoing) set a fine example to the other members of the Squadron. W/O H. Vipond was the same sort of NCO that F/Lt Olley was an officer – quiet, efficient and keen. Equally tall, they were a well matched pair.”

Two days later the Squadron recorded its first successes with the new aircraft which coincided with the first visit to Holland, when S/Ldr de Bocock and Sgt Brown destroyed a Dornier 217 over Eindoven. During their attack the Mosquito was hit by shrapnel from the disintegrating enemy aircraft which damaged the starboard engine so badly it ceased to function. Despite this S/Ldr de Bocock brought the aircraft back to Manston, later attributing the successful return to the exceptionally clever navigation of his companion Sgt Brown, who steered them back whilst avoiding all the flak defended areas.
 

S/Ldr de Bocock had the unenviable distinction of being the first pilot to be wounded in combat since the Squadron reformed when he sustained a slight arm injury to his arm on 24th March, when his aircraft was shot up quite badly by flak over Deelen. Not to be overshadowed his navigator, Sgt Brown received a grazed hand during the same flight. On 26th March the Squadron received a limited supply of long range fuel tanks which increased the fuel capacity by 150 gallons, which allowed S/Ldr de Bocock to fly his aircraft on a five hour patrol to Stavanger on the Norwegian coast on the 8th April.

Page 78…

On the 24th April S/Ldr I.M.T. de Bocock and Sgt R. Brown were killed when their Mosquito dived into the ground at Housedean Farm near Lewes, Sussex, the cause of the accident was unknown. S/Ldr de Bocock was a South African, having been posted supernumerary to the Squadron on 1st February 1943 and by his persistence and anxiety to engage the enemy had done much to increase the fighting spirit of the whole Squadron. He had been in the RAF since 1933 and above all he was an excellent comrade, always willing to impart his very wide knowledge of service procedure and flying experiences in a most charming manner to anyone in need of help. There is no doubt that his death was a great loss not only to 605 but to the whole service to which he had devoted his life. Sgt Brown, despite not having been in the Squadron for long was a quiet and self contained man and shared in his pilot’s determination to engage and destroy the enemy.

squadron-leader-ian-theodore-de-k-bocock

 
 

 

Who remembered W/O K.V. ‘Scappa’ Rann?

Scappa’s cousin sending me an email to find an answer…

My cousin WO1 ‘Scappa’ Rann appears in your photos in Sardinia. Why was he called ‘Scappa’? The family album shows him leaning on a Nissan Hut similar to the officers one previous….wearing a Sidcot? suit. Must be England, eh?

Scappa

George Stewart also did remember W/O K.V.Rann in 2010.

‘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.

In 2010 I had sent an e-mail to George Stewart. He had answered back and he had insisted I called him George. I was not the kind of guy to argue with a Mosquito pilot…


George had identified most of the airmen on the pictures that Paul Beaudet’s daughter had sent me. 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 had first believed that these pictures were taken at Luqa, Malta, but George had told me they were taken in Alghero in Sardinia and also in Naples, Italy.

This was the first picture I had posted before.

This is what George Stewart had written…

Here were his answers…

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.

Please leave a comment if you know why W/O Rann’s nickname was Scappa?

 

Scappa Rann

 

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.

 

 

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.

How It Really Started… – Redux

Post 294

This is what I wrote back in April 2010.

Before I will let you read the 6th article I posted on April 10, 2010, I want to show you this comment made by Judy just a few days ago.

Mr. or Ms. Casey D. 

Your effort to return the journal’s to the Gagnon family is commendable, and once done, I’m sure will be appreciated beyond words.  I have compiled extensive information from personal research executed since 1998.  In an effort to gain insight into further expanding my research efforts, I would appreciate communicating with you.  I have included my name and email address in this message.  Please allow me to thank you in advance for any assistance you may be able to offer. 

Kind regards … 

At first I was not sure about the authenticity of Judy’s comment. In the world of bloggers we are used to receive many spam messages. This one was much too long not to be investigated on further.

I have learned that comments made on this blog about a Mosquito squadron I knew nothing about before 2010 are there for a reason.

I don’t write to make money though I don’t mind people who write to make a living. I just write so people can find this blog just like Paul Beaudet’s daughter did in 2010.

Paul Beaudet DFC

Paul Beaudet

 In fact it was her daughter who found the blog.

Hi there

Paul Beaudet was my Grandfather.

He did not often talk about his time in the War. Perhaps he did with my Mother and her brothers and sisters.  

Now and then he would recollect to me the Train bombings and what it was like to fly the night missions – what he would see, the cold in the plane, the waiting on something to happen and then the action when it did and how when it was all done they would fly back to the base and hang out.

We have taken his medals and awards and had them framed – a proud reflection of his service.

Paul’s daughter then shared many pictures of her father when he was stationed in Sardinia and then in Little Snoring.

But why did I start writing a blog about a Mosquito squadron I knew nothing about in 2010.

Mosquito 3

George Stewart’s collection

Now you can read what I wrote back in 2010 with some added information and pictures people shared since then…

Marcel Bergeron is 82 and he is not a veteran Mosquito pilot nor is he a war hero.

Marcel went to see someone, a veteran air gunner of No. 425 Alouette squadron. He had learned in the newspaper about that veteran and just knock on his door. He asked for his help in finding more information about Eugène Gagnon. You see Eugène Gagnon was his hero when he was a teenager back in the late 30s. In a sense, Marcel is also a hero because he wanted to keep Eugène’s memory alive.

This is how Marcel and I got to know each other.

Marcel told me this anecdote when we met.

Eugène died in a plane crash in 1947.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Eugène’s sister had moved to the United States. She came back to Canada where she had lived before. When Eugene died, she supposedly threw away in the garbage all Eugène’s medals and also his precious logbook.

She did not know how valuable they were.

Marcel had kept a few mementoes of his hero. He has his RAF wings and a button with a small compass hidden inside in case he had to parachute over enemy territory. He also has a piece of the jacket Eugène wore when he died on October 21, 1947.

Those mementoes are the most precious things he has of his hero.


Eugène Gagnon DFC

(Courtesy Mario Hains)

Marcel had also his discharge papers.


But Marcel wanted to know more about Eugène’s service in the RAF… and that’s the reason he asked the veteran who, in turn, asked me to help him.

To learn more about this search you will have to read my other blog titled Lest We Forget.

Click here.

This is the article I wrote last year about my search for Eugène Gagnon.


Dean Cahill’s collection – New earth shattering artifacts

This title is pun intended in a way.

I will show Hugh Boland’s new earth shattering artifacts after this original post about a navigator who flew with 23 Squadron.

Original post

Dean Cahill has found some artifacts that belonged to Hugh Boland.

Hugh

Hugh Boland

We all know a little bit about Hugh.

Hugh Boland

Peter Smith is now in the process of processing all this information so we can post more stories about this navigator.

As you can imagine Peter has a lot of work before him. When he is done, I will share everything.

Meanwhile you can view these artifacts.


call sign

photo 2

photo 3

photo 4

photo 11

 

photo 22

photo 33

photo 44

End of the original post

Peter Smith just sent me these new scans with this message.  

It is nothing earth shattering I’m afraid, but it is all opened out, put flat, recorded so there is a record-he shall not disappear into history quite yet!!

In my next series of posts I will see if we can’t find anything earth shattering.

You can always contact me using this form like Dean Cahill once did on this blog.

Flight Lieutenant J.B. Harris

Flight Lieutenant JB Harris

J.B. Harris was sitting next to Hugh Boland all this time on this old picture taken on July 1945.

Boland

In 2010 this is all I had about 23 Squadron.

Then I got this from Peter Smith who got it from Tom Cushing.

July 1945 Boland

A much clearer picture.

And a much closer look at Hugh Boland’s pilot.

Harris and Boland

I wonder what Hugh was looking at?

Hugh Boland’s pilot – Flight Lieutenant J.B. Harris

This is another artifact.

A simple envelope.

envelope

Every artifact that was saved by Dean Cahill has its own story like Hugh Boland’s report card.

Dean Cahill was cleaning up a store room during a weekend and he saved all the artifacts I posted last time. There are more to come because Peter Smith is still scanning all that Dean gave him.

Everything will be posted on this blog, and everything will be analysed.

Someday a relative of Flight Lieutenant J.B. Harris, or Hugh Boland, will find this blog like Dean Cahill did, and he or she will share what they know about Hugh Boland’s pilot.

We have little to go on right now, but we can wait.

Boland

Hove High School

Might be related to Hugh’s school days.

Excerpt

Hove’s Old Schools – Hove High School
by Judy Middleton

Published originally in Tales of the Old Hove Schools (1991) revised 2012


There seems to have been a school at 49 Clarendon Villas as soon as the building was erected in the 1880s. It is still there and just as imposing with its yellow brick and red brick dressings rising to four storeys. Above the front entrance there is a curious female torso jutting out like an old ship’s figurehead. In October 2012 the building looked somewhat forlorn as it was swathed in scaffolding and plastic sheeting while yellow leaves scudded about the steps.

Click here.