Philip West has signed and numbered all the prints, which were then countersigned by the distinguished aircrew mentioned below.
Please bear in mind that the following notes have been prepared by each individual and copied, with virtually no editing, by SWA Fine Art. There may be the odd error or omission – if you spot one, please let us know and we will happily update our records. Although these men did not take part in this specific Arrhus raid they all were part of the relevant squadrons at that time.
F/L Cecil S. Elliott (Navigator) volunteered for aircrew duties in 1940 and received his call up papers in early 1942. He was first posted to Newquay for ITW and billeted in two hotels, the Coniston and the Kilbourne, just north of Newquay town. He drilled in the large car park area adjacent to the Coniston.
The ITW course lasted three months, but with a fortnight to go, two senior officers arrived to advise the trainees that there would be a new category of aircrew – Navigator / W/T and six of the intake were interested. They were posted to Trafford Park where they stayed in a Nissen hut with no heating. In June 1943 they were sent to Cranwell on a 12-week course, where they learnt the fundamentals of radio, and MORSE transmitting and receiving. Unfortunately, Cecil failed the morse receiving test so had to stay on for another week, before being sent back to Trafford Park. They then went by rail to Glasgow where they boarded the Queen Mary and crossed the Atlantic in three to four days.
On arriving in New York they were each given a small hand of bananas. What joy! They traveled by train on a roundabout route to Quebec airport and started on No 8 AOS Ancienne Lorette course. During the three-month course, from December 1943 to February 1944, a Navigator/W/T was never mentioned again. Elliott was very pleased with the exam marks and won the Navigator Pennant for the course work. The passing out parade was on 5 May 1944 and he was only a sergeant for a few hours as he and five others were offered commissions. The official RAF tailor was in Montreal so they all went together to be fitted and were then posted to Debert, Nova Scotia where they met the pilots with whom they would crew-up at the RCAF No1 OTU. They were confined to the Officers’ Mess for 48 hours during which time they had to agree the crews. He was fortunate as he crewed up with Dusty Rhoades, who was a professional pilot in civvy street with Bowater Paper. They flew daytime cross-countries and regular circuits and bumps. All those on this OTU returned to the UK in a liner and landed in Glasgow, immediately traveling to Thorney Island to join 21 Squadron. His service with 21 covered three stations – Thorney Island; Rosieres near Amiens and Brussels Maelsbrook where they celebrated VE Day.
His duties in 21 were classified as ‘Intruders Night operations’. They were given an area to patrol in which they shot up and bombed road and rail transport. If they had not released the bombs, they were given a target to bomb on the way out of the area. By June 1945 they had completed over 25 operations.
‘Dusty’ was repatriated within 10 days of the end of hostilities (one of the terms available to RCAF personnel who volunteered for operations). Most of the crews were Canadian pilots and British Navigators, so the number of guys in the Mess almost halved by the end of June 1945. A serious thought to mention here was the ‘esprit de corps’ and loyalty of the ground crews. The air crews would not have been able to produce the good record without their superb backing. Cecil does not remember a Mosquito ever being classed as u/s during his service with ‘21’. They normally operated from 10p.m. to midnight and returned 3a.m. to 4a.m. The ground crew were always there enquiring whether everything was OK.
Wing Commander B.E. “Dick” Hogan (Pilot) transferred from the Army to the Royal Air Force in May 1941 and was trained as a pilot on Tiger Moths at Brough on Humberside and on Air Speed Oxfords at Grantham, Lincs.
After qualifying in December 1941, he served at several flying stations in the UK, before being posted to Army Cooperation at Old Sarum, Salisbury, as a Flying Instructor. It was here in the Officers’ Mess one night after dinner, that he first met the legendary Group Captain Charles Pickard DSO, DFC. who had recently assumed command of 140 Mosquito Wing in 2 Group. Group Captain Pickard was on the lookout for suitable pilots to join his wing, and was personally recruiting likely chaps in his travels around the flying stations and at the RAF Club in Piccadilly, London, as casualties had been high and replacements too slow coming from the Mosquito Operational Training Unit.
After a late night drink Group Captain Pickard asked Dick Hogan two questions, “Have you flown 1000 hours and also twin-engined aircraft?” After receiving an affirmative reply, he wrote Hogan’s name on the back of an envelope and left the Mess.At the time it was every pilot’s ambition to fly the Mosquito, particularly the Mark V1 Fighter Bomber on low-level operations. The competition was fierce and Hogan’s expectations were none too high after this informal late-night encounter with Pickard. However a few days later he was posted direct to 140 Wing at Sculthorpe, Norfolk where, on arrival, he found great activity on the Wing as they were preparing for the first low-level- raid on the V1 Flying Bomb sites in France.
The first attack was to be led by Air Vice Marshal Basil Embry, DSO, DFC, AFC. the Air Officer Commanding 2 Group. His navigator was to be Francis Chichester the famous navigator and yachtsman. Soon after this raid the Wing moved to a new airfield at Hunsdon just north of London. Here Hogan was able to complete a couple of conversion flights and was teamed up with navigator Alan Crowfoot, a splendid, imperturbable Australian.
After 10 training flights they were launched into “Operation No Ball” – the code name for the systematic low-level bombing of all the known flying bomb sites, located mainly in the Pas De Calais area.
It was tree and wave top flying to keep under the German radar. On approach to the target the boxes of 4 Mosquitoes would climb to about 400 feet, then a shallow dive followed at approximately 50 feet with the bomb release by the pilot of 4 x 500 lb. 11 second delay bombs. (The pilot’s stick head had four separate controls for the operation of; (1) 4 x 20MM Canon (2) 4 x .303 Machine Guns (3) V.H.F. Transmit Button 4) Bomb Release Button.) In the heat of the moment errors could occur!
Following 140 Wing’s raid on the prison at Amiens on 18th February 1944, low-level raids were phased out and the Wing tried high-level bombing with a lead aircraft from the Pathfinder Force, followed thereafter by night interdiction. The Germans had re-calibrated their gunsights and the low-level daylight strategy was now too expensive.
In the spring of 1944 Hogan spent some months in RAF Hospital, Ely before being returned to duty with a limited medical category. Then followed ground appointments at the Central Fighter Establishment, Tangmere and Air Ministry, London, before being posted overseas to the British Military Mission in Budapest in 1946. This was the beginning of a series of Special Duty assignments, which were followed by attaché posts at the British Embassies in Baghdad, Bonn, Berne and Rome.
Hogan also flew Wellingtons, Lancasters and the earlier post-war jets and qualified from the Central Flying School in November 1955 as a jet instructor. From there he took over the University of Birmingham Air Squadron and then as C.O. RAF Staging Post at Hickham A.F.B. Hawaii, the support unit for the atomic test base on Christmas Island.
In August 1973 he was recruited by the International Red Cross to coordinate the medical and relief aid in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Wing Commander Hogan retired from the RAF after 33 years of service.
Flight Lieutenant M.N. Sparks A.F.C., R.A.F. (Pilot) gained his pilots wings with the R.N.Z.A.F. in December 1941. Posted to the United Kingdom he joined the newly formed 487(N.Z.) Squadron in September 1942. Equipped with the Lockheed Ventura (a bomber version of the Hudson) the squadron was meant for medium-level daylight “circus” operations, but after losing 10 out of 11 aircraft and crews over Holland in March 1943 it was wisely decided to re-equip the depleted squadron with a different type of aircraft.
In September 1943 the Squadron was again operational with the new Mosquito Mk.V1 aircraft, attacking daylight pinpoint targets such as V1 and V2 rocket sites and night intruder sorties against enemy airfields. From D-Day on, 487 sqn. in company with 464 (R.A.A.F.) and 21 (R.A.F.) was part of the 2nd T.A.F., operating behind enemy lines day and night, searching out enemy road convoys, railway troop trains, enemy airfields, etc. – all designed to cause maximum disruption to the enemy forces. Flt. Lt. Max Sparks completed 42 operational sorties with 487squadron and returned to New Zealand in March 1945.
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