Everything is precious

Rich Cooper sent me these documents that allowed Theodore Griffiths to take all these precious pictures during WWII.

I have been sharing all of them thanks to Rich.

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Everything is precious and deserves to be preserved. It also deserves to be shared.

Pierre
You will remember the camera permit granted to Theo for Alghero? Well here is the one for Malta. The Alghero permit even though it was issued after the Malta permit was far more basic. Theo was a keen photographer who after the war turned his hobby to supplement his income by doing weddings and family groups.
Rich

camera permit 23 January 1944

23th January ’44

 licence granted

licence granted 2

19th November, 1943

If you have any information about 23 Squadron and you wish to share what you know, you can contact me using this form.

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Junkers 52

Theodore Griffiths and Eric Maude by Junkers 52 at Pomigliano from logbook records. This picture was taken in November 1943.

Junkers 52

Eric Maude was Theodore’s navigator. After being posted with 23 Squadron, Theo and Eric became instructors with No. 60 O.T.U. (operational training unit).

They received their DFC in January 1945.

image45

Just like George and Paul, Theo and Ric were a team and stayed as a team.

Paul Beaudet and George Stewart 1

Theo had kept many pictures from WW II. He had a camera and he used it to document what he lived during WW II.

image42

Here are some more pictures taken when Theo was posted with 23 Squadron.

photo51

Football in the rain Alghero (picture taken from December 1943 to May 1944)

photo52

Me and the boys in Malta October 1943

photo54

Singing compass?
Sardinia,   Alghero (December 1943 – May 1944)

Singing compass?

I have to ask George about compass singing.

Here’s George’s answer…

Pierre

They were SWINGING a compass, a common procedure to make it reliable in flight, and was done on a routine basis.

Compasses don’t sing!!

Cricket 34

I should have known… Compasses don’t sing.

Dan? Theo and Hoppy? in Toronto

Theo in Toronto mod

That’s the caption I believe at the back. I know where Toronto is and what was there during WW II.

No. 1 Manning Depot. I don’t think Theodore Griffiths DFC got his first training there. I have to ask Rich to look where Theo got his first training days as an AC2.

Rich sent me more precious artefacts about Theo, his father-in-law. I am not related to any Mosquito pilots, but I know a lot about 23 Squadron pilots and navigators and I write a lot about them when people share what they have.

I asked George Stewart if he knew Theodore Griffiths. This is what he wrote about these pictures.

Hi Pierre

The header, with Tommy Smith at the left, the Squadron photo next, and the Squadron crest, then Sticky Murphy on the right, was all Little Snoring , 1945, because the Mosquito MKVI in the photo has ASH, and Paddle blade props.

1945

The photos below the travel directive to Malta, Sept 1943 show a MkII Mosquito with no drop tanks, and pointed props, likely taken in Malta, or Italy, before the squadron moved shortly afterwards to Alghero, Sardinia.

image 4

The shot with Theo, and the two navigators could have been taken anywhere.

image 5

You’d have to get his logbook to confirm possibilities. I don’t recall meeting Theo, and don’t recognize the navs.…

I arrived at Alghero, on 31 Dec, 1943, and with the other crews who came with us, were sent packing to Algiers, because we were not needed yet, much to our chagrin, having volunteered, in response to their need for replacement crews.

We were flown back to UK, and rejoined 23, later on the 30th of April, to stay, after flying 3 more Mosquitoes out from England. We almost operated from Sardinia, but were shipped back to UK by sea, with the squadron, to work from Little Snoring.

Perhaps Pete could look in his copies of the daily operational record sheets, from June 1944, to Jan,1945, to see if Theo shows up there.
If he was an NCO pilot, unfortunately we may not have crossed paths.

Let me know how you make out

Good luck, and best wishes always

George

Rich had more artefacts to show us…

diploma mod

Whose Great Idea Was It?

Last part of Hector Goldie’s and Norman Conquer’s story…

Two incidents, amongst many, are worth noting, one operational, and one not so operational,

The Baron and Alec Lawson, also with 23 Squadron

Operationally one such sortie was to bomb Villafranca, one of the major Axis airbases, a regular episode for the Squadron because the Germans kept Messerschmitt 210s there, realistically the only aircraft that was going to catch a Mosquito in the Italian theatre of war.

Baron and Norman had been patrolling on a ferociously “dirty” night in thick cloud above the airbase, Norman takes up the episode.

“…….a sudden break revealed the airfield barely a couple of miles away. A quick dirty dart, switches on, bombs released-and nothing! Did they go? Have we got a hang up? No, they’ve gone alright, so why no flashes? Hit or miss? No idea-so, somewhat disconsolately, head for home. Oh dear, now I see it, my incompetence, omitted to fuse the bombs! I can’t repeat what Baron said to me (many times) as we scraped our way through the murk back to base.

At debriefing much mirth and chiding from the gang as that navigator, tail between legs, retired hurt. But no-one could have foreseen the consequences: two days later, a message from Command ops/Intel. –

“Whose great idea was it too drop ‘dummy’ bombs on Villafranca? Great result-all flying there has been suspended for the past 48 hours-squads are searching for unexploded bombs. Do it again!”

Messerschmitt 210.

The other incident, well, Bud Badley takes up the mantle,

“There was one particular aircraft that worried us. It would not fly in the manner it should have done. We were all of the same opinion that it was dangerous and had asked for it to be replaced. This fell on deaf ears somewhere up at HQ. In the end we pilots decided to do something about it.

After one of our usual happy hour meetings it was decided to belly land the thing. The question was who? It was decided by the equivalent of tossing a coin. F/O Hector Goldie drawing the short straw.

On the day selected we rolled up at the airfield to witness the aircraft’s demise.(Buddy would add that of course the CO didn’t know, but if he had, he had had his share of flying the beast, so in his swash buckling way would have approved.)

“Hector put her down at the southern end of the airfield without lowering the wheels in fine fashion to the ringing of loud cheers from the onlookers.
Some people might think this a terrible thing to do, but the plane wasn‟t a complete write off. It just meant we had got rid of the threat before it killed any of us”.

The engineering officer, apparently, was thrilled, no more complaints, and loads of spares.

The picture is one belonging to Bud Badley, and may well be the aircraft that proved troublesome to all. It would appear to be nicely belly landed.

(Author’s note: If it were one of Bud’s it would be full of shell holes?).

It would be here at Alghero that Baron and Norman would do more than half of their operational sorties, and Norman would “adopt” Flak who would become the Squadron’s unofficial mascot.

They would join the rest of the Squadron aboard the S S Mooltan, en route back to the UK.

There is one more thing about this whole story…

Come back later today.

A Great Shot or Dangerous Things, Guns!

I have decided to move along more rapidly with this story…

Part V

It was on Malta that Norman discovered his Pilot, “The Baron” was quite adept with a revolver.

Baron had awoken to find his wallet being rifled through-and in a rage had chased the burglar across the roof of their mess firing after him.

After a particularly hectic party one night our pair of Flying Officers retired to their room with their roommate Pat Rapson, all pretty “clattered”, and had gone to bed with the light on.

“Turn that bloody light out” shouted Pat.

“Turn the bloody light out yourself” Norman shouted back.

Bang! Baron shot the light out with a single shot.

It was some weeks after they left Malta they heard Police had captured a burglar, with a pronounced limp-he had a bullet in his leg. Norman was to note, “Dangerous things, guns!

Our intrepid pair were to move within the month to the forward air base at Pomigliano, near Naples along with ground crews. This would be their first “op” with Sticky up too as Flight Commander.

Amidst much miserable flying weather an incident occurred (Author‟s note: years later stories of Sticky’s jeep would permeate through the ranks of the aircrew, and to their families, and this incident may have been the start of it)

Baron and Norman had gone to Naples and while there visited the “Arizona Club”, a den of dubious repute, an obvious attraction to anybody wanting “booze” and female company, even though it was more akin to a wild west Saloon, undoubtedly run by the local mafia.

“Sticky has been grumbling about his lack of transport-what a boon a Jeep would be.”
So whilst “shopping” in Naples Baron and Norman decide to visit the Arizona Club. However what grabs their attention is parked right outside, with the key in the ignition.

“Sticky wants a Jeep-Sticky deserves a Jeep-he shall have a Jeep, so off we go. So much quicker to get back to camp this way too! Presenting his new toy to the boss we notice a certain lack of enthusiasm on his part-in fact he was torn between joy at the acquisition and concern about the possible inquisition. ‘There will be one hell of a row’ quoth he.”

Despite furious denials the Squadron were visited by a representative from the Provost Marshall’s Office, who insisted he search the Station. The Jeep meanwhile was pushed from a tent, around the perimeter track into a wood, and back into a tent again.

“Never the less it was considered too dicey to hang onto the thing and by then Sticky’s enthusiasm for the Jeep idea had waned”. Subsequently it was decided to quietly deposit the Jeep back outside the Arizona Club, where it had been “found”. (After a trip to Pompeii!!) This was duly carried out by Don Kimpton and Norman Conquer.
However within days B flight would be reunited with the rest of the Squadron at Alghero in Sardinia, their “new” base.

The Baron and Dave Atherton

Their time there would pass without incident, well, almost.

To be continued…

26 November 1942

I got this comment on my blog.

My uncle flew for RAF Squadron 23 and was killed on November 26 1942 in a Mosquito fighter bomber. His name was Duncan Stuart Hutt, RCAF. This was before the move from England. My mother told me that her mother sent packages to the pilots in Malta, but the Wing Commander told her that all pilots that Stuart had flown with in England were KIA.

Source of images

I found these locations of No. 23 Squadron on this site.

16 May 1938-31 May 1940: Wittering
31 May-12 September 1940: Collyweston
12 September 1940-6 August 1942: Ford
12-25 September 1940: Detachment to Middle Wallop
6-14 August 1942: Manston
14-21 August 1942: Bradwell Bay
21 August-13 October 1942: Manston

13 October-11 December 1942: Bradwell Bay

11-27 December 1942: On way to Malta
27 December 1942-7 December 1943: Luqa
3 September-5 October 1943: Detachment to Signella
5 October-1 November 1943: Detachment to Gerbini Main
1 November-7 December 1943: Detachment to Pomigliano
7 December 1943-8 May 1944: Alghero
8-19 May 1944: Blida
19 May-2 June 1944: Returning to UK
2 June 1944-25 September 1945: Little Snoring

Duncan Stuart Hutt was stationed at Bradwell Bay when he got killed.

I found this video on the Internet about No. 23 Squadron based in Italy.

If you have information on No. 23 Squadron, just write me a comment and I will get in touch just like I did with Stuart Hutt’s nephew.





And the answers are…

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…