Preserving the Past – Toronto, September 1941

Richard Cooper and I are preserving the past. I have been doing it since 2009. Richard joined me in February 2013 when he found this blog and started contributing stories and pictures.

My father-in-law is Theodore Griffiths DFC. He was a Mosquito pilot with 23 Squadron and his navigator was a Rick Maude. Any memories copies of photographs would be much appreciated. Theo suffers from Alzeimer’s and vascular dementia but is still able to recall his time with the squadron.

Richard Cooper

This is another day in the life of Theo Griffiths whose life has been touching so many people’s lives.

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Click on the image to get a closer view…
Collection Theo Griffiths DFC (courtesy Richard Cooper)

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Theo Griffiths DFC

Theo was one of 90 cadet pilots from England heading down South.

Now look closer at the group picture…

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George Rushbrook

George Rushbrook was also one of the 90 cadet pilots from England, with a friend…

Look closer…

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Gerald Thomas Padden
“Bunty”
1921-1942

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What’s next on this blog?

90 cadet pilots are going south of the border…to Souther Field, Georgia, USA!

Theo in training mod

We will be October 24, 1941…

Another day in the life of Theo Griffiths whose life has been touching so many people’s lives.

Day I soloed 24 October 1941

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More from Rich Cooper about Americus, Georgia

Sorry for posting that much, but I need to put Americus, Georgia on the map…

Rich was been reading Donald Hepworth Bentley’s story unfolding on this blog.

Some more photos of Theo at Souther Field. Hopefully the names of Theo’s colleagues and possibly American staff may be of interest to anyone searching. There are a lot more photographs available but unfortunately are stuck fast in the album and it’s the best I can do at the moment with my iPad. Had hoped I might have found something on Donald Hepworth Bentley for Paul.

Regards

Rich Cooper

If you have any information, please feel free to contact me.

Editorial

This editorial is taken from this scanned image sent by Rich Cooper.

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This is the front cover.

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Editorial

EIGHT weeks at Souther Field have left us only two more in which to complete the course and, because printers are impatient people, it is time to say goodbye.

Regret at leaving is mingled with pride in having traveled at least a third, perhaps the thorniest part, of the road to our “Wings;” and if we part from our friends and various tutors now, it is with the assurance that we are not, yet, going far, and shall return from time to time to visit them.

We owe a great debt both to our flying instructors, patient and—for their peace of mind—fearless men all, and to those who have guided us through Ground School, whom doubtless we shall remember again over Germany in darkness, where a warm front meets a cold, and we have a spluttering engine.

We are grateful to Lieutenant Rood and his staff for a number of things, not least for helping strangers in a new, if charming, country; and from Mr. Graham and his employees we could not possibly have expected more in comfort, good food, and sympathetic consideration We thank them, one and all, from our hearts.

To turn to our own domestic affairs, we bid a belated, but sincere, farewell to Flight-Lieutenant Speck and wish him the best of luck wherever he may go. At the same time we extend a hearty welcome to our new Administration Officer, Flight-Lieutenant Easton Smith.

We record, with deepest regret. the tragic deaths of Peter George Hills and Harold Norman Evans in a bathing accident at Jacksonville, Florida, on 2nd November, 1941. These two young fliers, of Class 42C, had just completed their training here and met their deaths while on leave before proceeding to Basic School at Macon. We do not need to emphasize the tragedy of this particular ending to two young lives on the threshold of such a great service to their country, and our deepest sympathies arc accorded to the bereaved families and to the many friends who knew and loved them here.

—E. H. M. RELTON.

If you have any information, please feel free to contact me.

More from Rich Cooper

This was just sent by Rich Cooper.

Hi Pierre,

Have uncovered some more amazing documents and photos from Theo. The first runs are a front to back copy of a publication The Southern Cadet. Hope you can make it all out. Particularly interested in the lists of Theo’s colleagues towards the back and the photos on the inside and outside back cover.

It’s about Theo Griffiths who flew with 23 Squadron.

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Theo was stationed there in 1942.

Here are more pages of the document.

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Last photo is number 5 intake at Leconfield. There are many more photos which I found in an album relating to Theo’s training, war service and visiting home. There are still many other photos still to share but the publication is what I thought might raise the most interest.

Theo can still talk about his service days. The documentary about the Mosquito that was bought back to life last year really lights him up.

Regards
Rich Cooper

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If you have any information, please feel free to contact me.

89th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force

Theo is leaving Americus, Georgia and Souther Field.

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Before we go to the next phase of his training a comment from Richard Perry about Souther Field…

Amazing that you have got all that information from friends and relations and from the Field itself. Also interesting to see the life and times of Theodore Griffiths. For myself we had our Annual RCAF Anniversary Mess Dinner celebrating the 89th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force. I am attaching a photo of four of us with the Guest Speaker, I am on the left hand side of “Stocky Edwards, WC, DFC & 2 Bars, Canadian Hero”.

Picture attached.

Richard Perry, Flt.Lieut.Retired.

 89th Anniversary of the RCAF

“Stocky” surrounded at AFDA Mess Dinner, by his wartime “Mates”
 
Left to Right
 
Alan Davidson – RAF Squadron 227, Beaufighters – Malta, Libya, Italy.
 
Bill Marr AFC – Instructor, Canada , RAF Squadron 409, Beaufighters, Mosquitos. (After War, TCA & Air Canada, 29,000 hours of Flying Time.)
 
Harry Hardy, DFC+Caterpillar, Flight Commander, 440 Squadron, Typhoons. 96 Combat Opps Flts, 2 Bailouts and 1 Forced Landing, Pulverizer from the Falaise Gap onwards.
 
“Stocky”
 
Richard Perry, DFC , 218 Squadron, Lancasters, 32 Bombing Trips over Germany, 1944, Pilot/Observer, Targets: Marshalling Yards, Airfields, the Rhur Valley, the Ardennes Break-through. (Falaise Gap)
 
 

Another comment…

Here’s a training picture, one of me is with my instructor at Harewood, Christchurch, New Zealand flying Tiger Moths, seen in the background.

Dick 1942

The #6 SFTS photograph has me on the right hand side of the back row, #3 to the left.  

Dunnville Richard Perry

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This one was taken at the Dedication of the Bomber Command Memorial last year.

Jim and Me at the Guildhall 2012The first photograph is of myself and Graham Turner DFC In the Guildhall standing behind Wing Commander Jim Wright DFC in the Wheelchair. Jim and I have been working on obtaining a Bomber Command Award Medal for the least 30 years.

Who is Richard Perry?

Click here.

Souther Field Revisited

This is a link to a webpage dedicated to Souther Field.

A few months ago I did not know anything about Souther Field.

Souther Field is where Theodore Griffiths got his primary training.

PT-17 in the background

A few months ago I did not know anything about Theodore Griffiths let alone he won a DFC and flew Mosquitos.

But you already know that don’t you.

Last week I did not know anything about this man who was a Primary Flight Instructor in Americus, Georgia.

Flight Instructor Shay

Robert F. Shay Jr is also seen here with a cadet in 1941 flying over Americus, Georgia. His son sent me this picture.

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This is a section of the Website dedicated to Souther Field. This is one image from the Website.

There are more.

What is most interesting is that Theo left Americus on December 9th, 1941.

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Captain Pardue checked him out on December 6th. Theo did not fly on December 7th, 1941. On December 9th he flew in the review flight.

He rode in front…

There is the story about cadets who came to Americus in January 1942.

The Souther Cadet publication was produced by and for British Cadets receiving pilot training at Souther Field. The images below are of pages from one of the editions.

Click here.

Excerpt

T.R. and Charlotte Wellons’ Album

During WWII Souther Field in addition to being used as a training facility for U.S. pilots was also utilized as a training facility for British pilots of the RAF (Royal Air Force). During this time many local Americus families acted as hosts to these cadets. One such local couple was T.R. and Charlotte Wellons. The information and photos on this page are shared by their son Neal Wellons to whom we express our sincere thanks.

The following photos various British Cadets along with their hosts are from an album that belonged to T.R. and Charlotte Wellons.

 

Training Logbooks

Rich wrote this message along with some pages of Theo’s logbooks and more pictures.

Theo started his flying career in Americus Georgia.

This picture is most interesting.

The caption says 1947, but it’s in fact 1941.

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This is the proof.

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Americus, Georgia?

Wikipedia

In World War I, an Army Air Service training facility, Souther Field (now Jimmy Carter Regional Airport), was commissioned northeast of the city limits.Charles A. Lindbergh, the “Lone Eagle,” bought his first airplane and made his first solo flight there during a two-week stay in May 1923. Recommissioned for World War IISouther Field was used for RAF pilot training (1941–1942)[8] as well as US pilot training before ending the war as a German prisoner-of-war camp. The town was incorporated in 1832, and the name Americus was picked out of a hat.[9]

The rest of Rich’s message…

For some reason he had three logbooks, a Canadian Air Force logbook, the smaller what I take to be a trainee logbook issued at the flying school and a Royal Air Force flying log. Pete Smith seems to think it was probably due to conflict with a superior officer that made Theo copy all his records from his RCAF logbook to his RAF one, possibly at Little Snoring.

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One of my favourite stories from Theo arose when we had a chat years ago about learning to fly. I was always keen to learn myself but talking to Theo I said my main fear was getting airborne and getting lost. Theo said most people actually did at some time in training and he in fact did get lost and landed in a field to try and get his bearings. Several black field hands rushed up to his aircraft offering assistance, when Theo asked if they knew where his airfield promptly moved his aircraft to face the position Theo needed to go, Theo took off and found his way home.

Fiction or not but a nice tale.

More about Americus on this site.

Excerpt

I discovered that the Arnold Scheme was a 3-phase flying training programme. Training took place in three separate flying stages Primary, Basic and Advanced, all within the huge area of SEACTC. The Southeast area stretching across the large US States of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida. Primary flying courses were undertaken over nine to ten weeks (60 hours) at civilian contract schools. Instructors were experienced American pilots equipped with Boeing ‘Stearman’ PT-17 biplanes. Primary flying courses were located at Camden in South Carolina; Albany & Americus in Georgia; Arcadia & Lakeland in Florida; and Tuscaloosa in Alabama. In May 1942, I joined Class 42J at the Americus Flying School in Georgia, flying the Stearman aircraft on which I ‘ground looped’ when flying solo. Being moved to an upper class I was given rank of cadet corporal.