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Vignettes

This page is for short items and pics which do not warrant a full page.

There is plenty of stuff to add here when I get round to it. DF

Sgt D C O’Sullivan DSM RAF

576 Squadron O'Sullivan DSM, RAF

Daniel O'Sullivan, an Air Gunner with 576 Sqn in 1945, is one of only 23 RAF recipients of the DSM (Distinguished Service Medal).

This medal is awarded to other ranks for bravery and resourcefulness on active service at sea. He also received the Atlantic Star with a France and Germany Clasp. Born in Bridgend, Glamorgan, Sergeant Daniel O’ Sullivan was as balloon operator in the Thames Area, Nore Command. He received his DSM in the Queens Birthday Honours 2nd June 1943. It is believed he was part of number 30 Balloon Barrage Group based at No 12 Balloon Centre Titchfield. There is no citation in the London Gazette. This award therefore appears to be in respect of service with a Barrage Balloon Unit on board ship. Sergeant O'Sullivan was the only one of the 23 RAF recipients of the DSM to be subsequently killed in action.

He was Air Gunner in the crew of F/O C T Dalziel RAFVR which completed 16 operations with 576 Sqn from late Dec 1944. They were lost on the 7th March 45 in an attack on Dessau. The Pilot and Air Bomber survived. Sergeant O'Sullivan was killed and is buried at the Rheinberg War Cemetery. David Fell.

 

 

Sgt Harold John Allen RAFVR

576 Squadron AllenSgt H J Allen (Pictured above) came from Birmingham. He was posted to 576 Sq at Fiskerton towards the end of the war and was rear gunner in the crew of F/S D U Hogg. He died on the 5th April 1945 in a raid on Lutzkendorf. His Lancaster ME671 was hit by a bomb which tore away one of the port engines. The aircraft became uncontrollable and the pilot gave the order to bale out. Harold was the first to leave.

Immediately afterwards the pilot regained some control and rescinded the order. They were able to continue flying a short while before crash landing. The 6 other members of the crew all survived and were taken prisoner.

Harold was killed and his body not found until 1950. He was buried in a cemetery at Eckendorf. His remains were later exhumed and buried to the Commonwealth War Graves 39/45 War Cemetery at Berlin.

It is suggested by some sources that Sgt Allen had suffered a severe head injury prior to baling out. This is not thought to be the case as another member of the crew relates that all crew members reported to the pilot that they were OK after the impact of the bomb. On being given the order to bale out Sgt Allen confirmed to his pilot that he was leaving the aircraft. David Fell

Wing Commander Basil Templeman-Rooke DSO DFC and bar AFC

Basil ( or TR as he was sometimes known ) served with 576 Sqdn at Elsham Wolds in April 1944. He had already flown a tour with 100 Squadron at Grimsby in 1943 with Stan Slater and they both teamed up again with 576. Basil was promoted Sqn Ldr and appointed A Flight Commander in June 44.

576 Sqdn relocated to Fiskerton in Autumn 44 and in Feb 45 Basil was promoted Wing Commander and appointed OC 170 Squadron at Hemswell.

After the war Basil became OC 210 Squadron of Coastal Command flying Lancasters from St Eval Cornwall. In 1951 he was awarded a well earned Air Force Cross. After tours of duty in Malta, he commanded No 205 Squadron, flying Shackletons from RAF Changi, Singapore. He retired from the RAF in 1971 and joined the Singapore Air Defence Command (SADC) with the rank of Major.

81 OTU Whitchurch Heath Early 43 Templeman-Rooke

The above is a good photo featuring Basil Templeman-Rooke on the extreme right. It was taken at 81 OTU Whitchurch. The others are - L to R Doug Finlay former 103 Sqn and POW, Horace England former 103 Sqn and Flight Commander and Florent Van Rolleghem former Flight Commander and 3 tour pilot with 103 Sqn. David Fell

576 Squadron Templeman-Rooke

Basil pictured at Elsham Wolds

More info and pics about Basil here on the RAF Fiskerton website.

F/L Farnham Hill OBE DFC.

F/L Hill was a Gunnery Leader at 576 Sq in the early days and was killed with P/O R R Reed DSO and crew in May 1944. He was greatly respected and much liked by all at 576 and Elsham Wolds. He flew several ops with Stan Slater and P/O Reed and I told there may have been more which were not recorded in the ORB

The night he was lost F/S Joe Duns was supposed to fly with Reed’s crew but Farnham Hill took his place as Joe Duns wanted to go for a drink with his previous skipper who had just finished his tour. That was confirmed by Joe Duns’ last letter to his parents. Joe was killed 6/7th June 44 with a 103 Sqn crew

Farnham Hill’s OBE ( there is some suggestion it may have been a BEM ) was awarded for an incident whilst he was attached to 101 Sqn flying from Holme-on-Spalding-Moor in Feb 1943.

"One night in February, 1943, a bomber aircraft crashed in a field on return from an operational night during which damage had been sustained to the elevator controls. The aircraft broke in two at the rear of the mid upper turret, and the whole wreckage caught fire. Five members of the crew were able to step out through the gap where the fracture took place, whilst the pilot escaped through his window. Squadron Leader Fisher and Pilot Officer Hill, who had both landed in another aircraft just before the crash, having been on a sortie of 5 hours duration, were in the immediate vicinity and rushed to the aircraft. Aircraftman Fletcher, who was on duty with the airfield controller, and Leading

Aircraftsman Miles, who was engaged at a dispersal point some 100 yards away, also hurried to the scene.

Aircraftman Fletcher was the first to arrive and he entered the fuselage, thinking that all members of the crew had been trapped therein. He was joined by Squadron Leader Fisher and Leading Aircraftman Miles, but owing to the intense heat, all were forced to retire.

The flight engineer was then found hanging from the pilot's window and unable to move owing to a broken thigh. Aircraftman Fletcher climbed along the port wing in order to render assistance to him. Squadron Leader Fisher, Pilot Officer Hill and Leading Aircraftman Miles all helped, the work being directed by Squadron Leader Fisher. Despite the intense heat and the danger from exploding petrol tanks and ammunition they succeeded in extricating the flight engineer, who had been trapped in the pilot's cockpit. The initiative and heroic efforts displayed by these officers and airmen undoubtedly saved their comrade's life."

Acting Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wilson O'Neill Fisher, D.F.C., Royal Air Force was also awarded the OBE (Mil Division) and Leading Aircraftman Arthur George Miles. Royal Air Force and Aircraftman 2nd Class Herbert Fletcher, Royal Air Force were awarded the BEM for their part in this action. David Fell.

P/O Ken Murray DFC and crew.

576 Squadron Murray and crew

Above - Ken Murray's all RAFVR 576 Sqdn crew 1944. Back Row L to R - Roland Luffman WOp, "Mac" McKenzie FE, Eric Page MUG, Bert Winn DFC RG, Front Row L to R - "Chalky" White AB, Ken Murray DFC P and Sam Harris DFC N.

Murray's crew were amongst the first intake of crews to the newly formed 576 Sqdn in Dec 1943. They came direct from HCU and started their tour on the 28th January 44 to Berlin and finished on the 6/7th June 1944 on the trip to Vire.

It was a hard tour with many long trips to targets deep in Germany including 3 to Berlin and the infamous Nuremberg raid. In May they participated in the costly Mailly-le-Camp raid.

On completion of his tour Ken Murray was awarded a DFC. I believe after the war he went to Australia and worked for De Havilland.

Bert Winn flew a second tour with 75 NZ Squadron. He was promoted Warrant Officer and awarded a DFC. Bert lived at Saltaire, Shipley, Yorkshire for most of his life, an area I know very well. He worked at the Keighley engineers Prince Smith and Stells for many years which is not far from Saltaire.

Scotsman Sam Harris flew a second tour as a navigator on Mosquitos and was awarded a DFC. His time on Mosquitos included a particularly hair raising experience over Germany from which they survived due to God's will and the experience and presence of mind of the pilot. After the war Sam enjoyed a long and successful RAF career.

Coincidentally Sam moved to Keighley when he left the Air Force. However it was some years later that he actually met up with Bert again.

Eric joined the police force post war. He eventually retired due to health issues. I seem to recall he lived in or near Dover. A lovely idiosyncratic man and an unforgettable character. David Fell

Flt Off Robert Sarvis USAAF

576 Squadron Coates and Sarvis

The United States of America had a several representatives who served with 103 and 576 Squadrons. Some of these were to lose their lives.

In the early days of the war these men headed north to Canada and enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. From the information I have managed to gather on this topic it seems that most had Canadian and/or British family connections which no doubt was a strongmotivating factor.

A typical example is Robert J Sarvis ( pictured right at the wedding of his wireless operator Jack Coates ) looking very smart in his best USAAF uniform. Note RAF Wings on his right chest and USAAF Wings on left.

Robert was actually born in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada in 1917. His parents moved to the Tennessee, USA when he was very young and he received his junior and high school education in the USA. He attended Tennessee State University in 1937, married Juanita Hindman at Franklin, Kentucky in July 1939 and graduated from university in 1941. From Jan 41 to Feb 42 he worked for the National Life and Accident Insurance Company in Tennessee. For whatever reason he headed for Canada and enlisted in the RCAF at Toronto in April 42.

He completed his pilot training in Canada was was posted to the UK. He completed his bomber training at 28 OTU and 1656 HCU and he and his crew were posted to 576 Sqn in May 44. In December 43 whilst still training he applied for a discharge from the RCAF and re-enlisted in the United States Army Air Force. This was not unusual for American citizens in the British and Commonwealth Air Forces who took advantage of this option. The better pay could have been significant. He did however continue to serve in the RAF.

Robert was killed on the 24/25th July 1944 in a raid on Stuttgart. They were attacked and badly damaged by a night fighter and headed back to the Normandy beachhead where they were finished off my American flak. The crew baled out but Robert stayed with the aircraft till they had left but was unable to get bale out himself. He is buried at Colleville-Sur-Mer, Calvados, France.

Robert was a very interesting chap and a fine sportsman being an American football player of considerable prowess. David Fell.

Flt Off C Sawyer DFC USAAF and crew.

576 Squadron Sawyer crew

The mention of Robert Sarvis above reminded me of another American pilot in with 576 Squadron at the same time - Charlie Sawyer. ( pictured above with his crew ) They probably trained together the Sarvis and Sawyer crews were certainly good friends. He is another that joined the RCAF and later transferred to the USAAF but stayed in the RAF with his crew.

The Sawyer crew were posted to 576 Sqn in May 1944 and commenced operations on the 9th June 1944 to Flers and completed their tour on the 3rd/4th Sept with a daylight to Eindhoven. Charlie Sawyer was awarded a well deserved DFC on completion of his tour. The loss of his pal Robert Sarvis was a heavy blow to him and his crew.

I would be interested to know more about him. He was living in the USA after the war in Ohio I believe. David Fell

F/O E A Cartwright DFC RAFVR and crew

576 Squadron air and ground crew.

576 Squadron Cartwright and 2 ground crew

I believe the top pic to be a photo of Ernie Cartwright and his air and ground crews. The photo below is certainly Ernie Cartwright with 2 of his ground crew. Ernie Cartwright and his crew were another that completed their tour in the summer of 1944.

The navigator in this crew was Harold Cameron of Scotland who was a medical student before volunteering for the RAF. After the war he  returned to his studies, qualified as a doctor and later emigrated to Canada.

The Cartwright crew were posted to 576 Squadron in June 1944 and commenced ops on the 23rd June with a trip to Flers. On the 4/5th July they were engaged in a night raid on the marshaling yards at Orleans. Air Bomber Sgt West was hit in the head by shrapnel when the aircraft was in the target area. Harold Cameron was ordered forward to see if anything could be done but Sgt West was dead. They landed in the South of England on return before returning to Elsham Wolds.

They completed their tour on the 8th Sept 1944 with a daylight attack on German port facilities and postions at Le Havre. Ernie Cartwright was awarded a DFC. David Fell

P/O Alan J Bodger DFC RAFVR and crew

576 Squadron Bodger and crew

Above is another excellent crew photo from my archive. One of my favourites. It was one of several taken at Elsham Wolds by a local press photographer around Feb 1944 and features a 576 Squadron crew. This is P/O Alan J Bodger DFC RAFVR and his crew. Note the snow in the background. P/O Bodger is 4th from the left.

They were amongst the first crews posted to 576 Sqdn in late Nov 1943 and were one of several experienced crews posted in from 101 Sqdn. This crew completed 22 operations with 576 Sqn from Dec 1943 to the end of April 1944.

DFC citation.

Pilot Officer Alan John BODGER (170721), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 576 Squadron.

"This officer was the pilot of an aircraft detailed to attack Berlin one night in January, 1944. Whilst over the target a fire broke out behind the port inner engine but Pilot Officer Bodger continued his bombing run and executed a successful attack. Shortly after the bombs had been released, two more fires started. Both wings of the aircraft were set alight and burned fiercely at first but soon afterwards died away. Although considerable height was lost, Pilot Officer Bodger flew the damaged aircraft to base. In the face of a harassing situation this officer displayed coolness and courage of a high order and his example was most inspiring."

As far as I can tell all this crew survived the war. Alan Bodger was injured whilst flying a Mosquito which crashed just after take off at the RAF Pathfinder Navigation Training Unit at Warboys 3rd Feb 1945. Post war he had a successful career in the civil airline business in the Middle East. David Fell

 

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