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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26 November 1942 Redux

mosquito_bnf-5

This post was written back in 2010.

I just found the pilot’s name on the same page as Flight Lieutenant Bob Williamson’s name who was shot down over Cognac.

On the night of the 26th, Sgt Hutt and Sgt Cridge were killed in a crash whilst on local flying.

Williamson 1942 28 November ORB

Original post written in 2010.

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 Website.

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.

Cricket 39

Each artifact I posted a picture of yesterday is important.

We all know by now that Hugh Boland had no fear.

Hugh

This is what is written in this book.

Hugh Boland

Confounding the Reich

This is the post I wrote back on June 6, 2012…

It was about Cricket, a call sign used by 23 Squadron.

This is what I wrote.

It’s about Cricket 23. I did not pay that much attention to the Cricket call sign.

George shed light about it on this post.

This is what I wrote later about another crew brought to life with this artifact which indicates that Boland’s Mosquito was Cricket 39.

I was about Cricket 23.

call sign

This is a good time to remember the valiant ones who served in World War II.

Tim Dench is sharing Bill Goody’s account of a raid on Munich Riem.

Courtesy Tom Cushing via Peter Smith

Munich Riem Raid – 25 April 1945

The following account was dictated by Bill Goody to Tim Dench in 1977. At the time, Bill was a much loved officer of 97 ATC squadron, and I was doing a school project on the Mosquito.

It was decided that No 23 Squadron being experienced in the low level intruder role, and flying their Mosquito MkVI  aircraft with Merlin 25 engines, would act as “Pathfinders” in that they would navigate precisely to the airfield and go in first to the attack dropping their 80 x 4lb incendiary bombs which would burn with a vivid white light to mark the area where the normally high level Mosquito Mk XXX’’s  with their Merlin 76 engines would make their own low level attacks lobbing onto the incendiaries their 100 gallon drop tanks, 1 to each wing rack, filled with petroleum jelly (Napalm) to effect maximum damage to the parked enemy aircraft.

Mosquito YP-N flown by Flight Sergeant Goody took off from Little Snoring airfield in Norfolk and followed the prescribed route.   The weather was clear with very little high level cloud and the moon was quite full, not ideal weather for low level operations as flak gunners on the ground with light anti aircraft weapons could fire visually at the aircraft.  The crew relied on the superior speed and maneuverability of the Mosquito to combat such defensive actions,  but as these missions where never flown higher than 2,000ft above the ground the risk was always present of the aircraft being flown into the ground or striking trees, pylons or high buildings during this type evasive action.

The purpose of the low level operation was to allow for accurate map reading from ground features, rivers, lakes and railway lines etc, the task being made easier on the Munich Riem raid by good night visibility.  “Gee”, a radar navigation aid was also used but mainly by the Mosquito XXX’s crews who flew high level to the target area.

The Merlin engines of the Mk xxx’s had two stages of super charge and gave their best performance and heights of 10,000ft  to 20,000ft hence this tactic.  The 23 Squadron aeroplanes had single stage super chargers and where fastest at 2,000ft to 5,000ft.

Accordingly the overall plan called for the attacking aircraft to rendezvous at a lake close to Munich and the flight planning allowing for some 5 minutes “stooging” there to allow for discrepancies in times of arriving.   The senior officer of 23 Squadron,  Squadron Leader Griffiths DFC was appointed Master Bomber whose duty required him to mark the target and direct the attacking aircraft during their attacks.

After the short channel crossing, routed to avoid the continental coastal areas still in German hands, the route was straight across Europe to Bavaria and Flt. Sgt. Goody remembers nothing of particular importance that occurred on the 2hr flight other than the signs of frontline fighting still going on, trace machine gun fire, burning buildings etc.  Enemy reaction to the intruders was not as fierce as they had experienced from previous raids prior to this date.   On identifying the small lake the Mosquito pilot reported over the radio to the Master Bomber their arrival by using the coded call sign “cricket 23”.    “Cricket” identifying the squadron and “23” the pilot.  After orbiting the lake for some 7 minutes (YP-N arrived  a few minutes early) the Master Bomber dived over the airfield and dropped the incendiaries on the tall control tower at one end of the large civil combined hanger and control building.

These bombs burnt brightly on the tarmac apron and building roof and “Cricket 23” was called on to follow this first attacking aircraft to mark the tower at the other end of the hanger complex.  Flt. Sgt. Goody carried out this attack from about 150ft and whilst pulling up and away noted further incendiaries bring dropped all along the complex by successive aeroplanes from 23 Squadron.  The Master Bomber then called on the lightened Mosquito fighters to fire their cannon at the sources of the small amount of defensive flak being thrown up by the airfield defence gunners.

Flt. Sgt. Goody remembers vividly the awesome sight of the Mosquito XXX’s lobbing their deadly load of Napalm onto the tarmac apron and the tremendous sheets of flame that erupted from the bursting tanks, resulting in the entire complex and apron flaming up.

During this frenzied activity over an airfield the size of Croydon Aerodrome a pilot called out that he had seen trace shells from an attacking enemy aircraft fired at one of our Mosquitos and after the last Napalm was dropped, Squadron Leader Griffiths instructed all attacking aircraft to go home, which Flt. Sgt. Goody says was acted on by all aircraft without delay!!!!   He recalls the return trip as being without incident, no German intruders awaited the returning aircraft over the home bases in Norfolk as had been the case some months or so previously.

Mosquito YP-N of 23 Squadron landed at Little Snoring at 05.15 the following morning as evidenced by the entry from Flt. Sgt. Goody’s log book, a total flying time of 5 hours, 45 minutes typical of the range of this mission for advanced fighter aircraft.    This type of offensive operation ended when the European fighting finished on 5 May a few weeks later.

The attacking crews heard nothing of the effect of the raid until Frank Ziegler who carried out early interrogations of enemy airmen after the war wrote an article about Col. Steinhoff and the revolutionary ME262, one of the first successful jet aircraft to be evolved.    Col.  Steinhoff related how JV44 the “Squadron of Aces” had achieved numerous victories by shooting down American daylight bombers from Munich Riem until the squadron was put out of business as a result of the Mosquito attack on the night of 25 April.  The unit was commanded by the General Adolph Galland and other Aces flying with it were Lutzow with 120 victories and Col. Steinhoff another veteran fighter leader and author of the ‘Straits of Messina’.

Flt. Sgt. Jacobs (by then a civilian at the end of the war), Flt. Sgt. Goody’s navigator, wrote a letter published by the RAF News which resulted in a reply being passed to him by Col. Steinhoff, by then Gen. Steinhoff of the postwar Luftwaffe, giving the results of the raid as seen from the German viewpoint.  The Cricket 23 crew were pleased to note Gen. Steinhoff’s  “warm greetings from your former adversary”.

Footnote (by Tim Dench 1977)

Many cadets in the ATC (Air Training Corps) may have assembled the plastic model Mosquito kit of the 23 Squadron night fighter version bearing squadron letters YP-A without realising that this aircraft was originally flown by an officer of my squadron no 97 (Croydon) of the Surrey wing ATC.    Flt.Sgt. Goody tells me that he enjoyed the use of this aeroplane as his “own” aircraft for a while whilst flying intruder operations in support of bomber command operations towards the war’s end.

Courtesy Tom Cushing via Peter Smith

Eugène Gagnon DFC 1941-1945 RCAF: part IX

Note:

This post was written back in September 2011, but it was never published.

laporte2 001

This Mosquito pilot was unknown back in 2010. This is the reason why I wrote this blog in the first place. 

I wrote Eugène Gagnon DFC 1941-1945 RCAF: part VIII in February 2012.

It’s about time I continue with this story now that Hector Goldie’s and Norman Conquer’s story is now well known thanks to Peter Smith. 

Eugène Gagnon  was TOS (Taken on Strength) at No 3 PRC Bournemouth.

The following is taken from a forum on WWII.

The following is either a direct quote or paraphrase from McCarthy’s “A Last Call of Empire”:

The function of the PRC was to orientate aircrew as they arrived, to organise refresher courses and various other attachments, and to act as an agent for the air ministry in arranging postings. The main role was really to keep aircrew employed until they could be utilised.

From this and additional sources there was, more specifically:

…would have been medically checked out, briefed on his responsibilities and forthcoming duties, taken in lectures given by experienced aircrew, issued his battle dress and flying gear, and, finally, assigned his next posting.

Eugene would arrive at Little Snoring with No. 23 Squadron late November 1944.

Wing Commander Sticky Murphy was still alive.

 

Sticky would be shot down and killed on December 2, 1944.

Eugène would fly his first mission, his Freshman mission, on December 5th. He would go on to fly 32 more missions with the same navigator F/O R.C. Harris. 

Many relatives of Eugene’s comrades in arms have written me, but none related to F/O R.C. Harris who we see here in a close-up.

This is the group picture courtesy Tommy Cushing via Peter Smith. It was part of Wing Commander Russell’s collection.

I know one day a relative of F/O R.C. Harris will find my blog and write me just like so many people did since 2010.

Cricket 23

This is the post I wrote on June 6, 2012…

It’s about Cricket 23. I did not pay that much attention to the Cricket call sign.

George shed light about it on this post.

This is a good time to remember the valiant ones who served in World War II.

Tim Dench is sharing Bill Goody’s account of a raid on Munich Riem.

Courtesy Tom Cushing via Peter Smith

Munich Riem Raid – 25 April 1945

The following account was dictated by Bill Goody to Tim Dench in 1977. At the time, Bill was a much loved officer of 97 ATC squadron, and I was doing a school project on the Mosquito.

It was decided that No 23 Squadron being experienced in the low level intruder role, and flying their Mosquito MkVI  aircraft with Merlin 25 engines, would act as “Pathfinders” in that they would navigate precisely to the airfield and go in first to the attack dropping their 80 x 4lb incendiary bombs which would burn with a vivid white light to mark the area where the normally high level Mosquito Mk XXX’’s  with their Merlin 76 engines would make their own low level attacks lobbing onto the incendiaries their 100 gallon drop tanks, 1 to each wing rack, filled with petroleum jelly (Napalm) to effect maximum damage to the parked enemy aircraft.

Mosquito YP-N flown by Flight Sergeant Goody took off from Little Snoring airfield in Norfolk and followed the prescribed route.   The weather was clear with very little high level cloud and the moon was quite full, not ideal weather for low level operations as flak gunners on the ground with light anti aircraft weapons could fire visually at the aircraft.  The crew relied on the superior speed and maneuverability of the Mosquito to combat such defensive actions,  but as these missions where never flown higher than 2,000ft above the ground the risk was always present of the aircraft being flown into the ground or striking trees, pylons or high buildings during this type evasive action.

The purpose of the low level operation was to allow for accurate map reading from ground features, rivers, lakes and railway lines etc, the task being made easier on the Munich Riem raid by good night visibility.  “Gee”, a radar navigation aid was also used but mainly by the Mosquito XXX’s crews who flew high level to the target area.

The Merlin engines of the Mk xxx’s had two stages of super charge and gave their best performance and heights of 10,000ft  to 20,000ft hence this tactic.  The 23 Squadron aeroplanes had single stage super chargers and where fastest at 2,000ft to 5,000ft.

Accordingly the overall plan called for the attacking aircraft to rendezvous at a lake close to Munich and the flight planning allowing for some 5 minutes “stooging” there to allow for discrepancies in times of arriving.   The senior officer of 23 Squadron,  Squadron Leader Griffiths DFC was appointed Master Bomber whose duty required him to mark the target and direct the attacking aircraft during their attacks.

After the short channel crossing, routed to avoid the continental coastal areas still in German hands, the route was straight across Europe to Bavaria and Flt. Sgt. Goody remembers nothing of particular importance that occurred on the 2hr flight other than the signs of frontline fighting still going on, trace machine gun fire, burning buildings etc.  Enemy reaction to the intruders was not as fierce as they had experienced from previous raids prior to this date.   On identifying the small lake the Mosquito pilot reported over the radio to the Master Bomber their arrival by using the coded call sign “cricket 23”.    “Cricket” identifying the squadron and “23” the pilot.  After orbiting the lake for some 7 minutes (YP-N arrived  a few minutes early) the Master Bomber dived over the airfield and dropped the incendiaries on the tall control tower at one end of the large civil combined hanger and control building.

These bombs burnt brightly on the tarmac apron and building roof and “Cricket 23” was called on to follow this first attacking aircraft to mark the tower at the other end of the hanger complex.  Flt. Sgt. Goody carried out this attack from about 150ft and whilst pulling up and away noted further incendiaries bring dropped all along the complex by successive aeroplanes from 23 Squadron.  The Master Bomber then called on the lightened Mosquito fighters to fire their cannon at the sources of the small amount of defensive flak being thrown up by the airfield defence gunners.

Flt. Sgt. Goody remembers vividly the awesome sight of the Mosquito XXX’s lobbing their deadly load of Napalm onto the tarmac apron and the tremendous sheets of flame that erupted from the bursting tanks, resulting in the entire complex and apron flaming up.

During this frenzied activity over an airfield the size of Croydon Aerodrome a pilot called out that he had seen trace shells from an attacking enemy aircraft fired at one of our Mosquitos and after the last Napalm was dropped, Squadron Leader Griffiths instructed all attacking aircraft to go home, which Flt. Sgt. Goody says was acted on by all aircraft without delay!!!!   He recalls the return trip as being without incident, no German intruders awaited the returning aircraft over the home bases in Norfolk as had been the case some months or so previously.

Mosquito YP-N of 23 Squadron landed at Little Snoring at 05.15 the following morning as evidenced by the entry from Flt. Sgt. Goody’s log book, a total flying time of 5 hours, 45 minutes typical of the range of this mission for advanced fighter aircraft.    This type of offensive operation ended when the European fighting finished on 5 May a few weeks later.

The attacking crews heard nothing of the effect of the raid until Frank Ziegler who carried out early interrogations of enemy airmen after the war wrote an article about Col. Steinhoff and the revolutionary ME262, one of the first successful jet aircraft to be evolved.    Col.  Steinhoff related how JV44 the “Squadron of Aces” had achieved numerous victories by shooting down American daylight bombers from Munich Riem until the squadron was put out of business as a result of the Mosquito attack on the night of 25 April.  The unit was commanded by the General Adolph Galland and other Aces flying with it were Lutzow with 120 victories and Col. Steinhoff another veteran fighter leader and author of the ‘Straits of Messina’.

Flt. Sgt. Jacobs (by then a civilian at the end of the war), Flt. Sgt. Goody’s navigator, wrote a letter published by the RAF News which resulted in a reply being passed to him by Col. Steinhoff, by then Gen. Steinhoff of the postwar Luftwaffe, giving the results of the raid as seen from the German viewpoint.  The Cricket 23 crew were pleased to note Gen. Steinhoff’s  “warm greetings from your former adversary”.

Footnote (by Tim Dench 1977)

Many cadets in the ATC (Air Training Corps) may have assembled the plastic model Mosquito kit of the 23 Squadron night fighter version bearing squadron letters YP-A without realising that this aircraft was originally flown by an officer of my squadron no 97 (Croydon) of the Surrey wing ATC.    Flt.Sgt. Goody tells me that he enjoyed the use of this aeroplane as his “own” aircraft for a while whilst flying intruder operations in support of bomber command operations towards the war’s end.

Courtesy Tom Cushing via Peter Smith

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.

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.

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…