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Si vis pacem, para bellum

'If you want peace, prepare for war'


SEAX 604 Squadron

SEAX 604 Squadron

Born in the aftermath of the First World War and taking its title from the County of Middlesex
where it was raised and where many of its members were recruited, No.604
Squadron of the Auxiliary Air Force was formed at Hendon on the 17th March 1930
as a light-bomber unit. In its twenty-seven years of service the Squadron served as a
day and night-fighter unit within Fighter Command, flying such types as the Hawker
Demon, Bristol Blenheim, Bristol Beaufighter, the superlative de Havilland Mosquito,
the Supermarine Spitfire and the de Havilland Vampire and Gloster Meteor jet-
fighters. The Squadron was one of the first to be trained for night-fighting and one of
only six who pioneered the introduction airborne radar prior to the Winter Blitz of
1940/41, during which it established its reputation as one of the RAF’s principal
night-fighter squadrons. By the war’s end in May 1945, the Squadron’s score stood
at 132 enemy aircraft confirmed as ‘destroyed’, mostly by night, and had made a
number of its pilots and radar operators, such as ‘Cats-eyes Cunningham’ and
‘Jimmy Rawnsley’, household names. Three of its former officers reached Air Rank
and many received awards and decorations for their work with the Squadron. 604
was reformed after the war as a day-fighter unit, before moving its headquarters from
Hendon to North Weald, Essex, in 1949, where it remained until disbanded in 1957.
The Squadron was mobilised in the defence of the UK on three occasions; the
Munich Crisis of 1938, the Second World War in 1939 and the Korean War in 1951
and was awarded the Esher Trophy for Auxiliary efficiency on three occasions.

The victims of 604sqdn were often the aircraft of KG100 the Luftwaffe's premier
pathfinder squadron and, by the end of 1941, the squadron had flown for 5,800 hrs,
with 56 enemy aircraft destroyed, 40 damaged, and had gained 2 D.S.O.'s, 10
D.F.C.'s and a bar, 8 D.F.M.'s and 1 bar, 3 B.E.M.'s, to the ground crews, and a
M.E.B. to S/L Brown for his part in Sopley GCI.

Up to this date the squadron had lost 4 aircraft, with 8 crew members dead, a
sacrifice that should not be forgotten.

604 Squadron came into being at Hendon on the 17th of March 1930 with F/L F.J Fogarty as
adjutant and flying instructor,with a Warrant Officer and 19 airmen they formed the nucleus
on which the new squadron of part timers would be built.

De Havilland DH9

AVRO 504

The first aircraft on strengh were a De Haviland DH9 ex 600 (City of London) sqdn, an
Avro504K from 605 (County of Warwick) sqdn and another DH9 from601 (County of
London) On the 11th of September the sqdn recieved its first operational aircraft, these were
Westland Wapitis and in May, 9 of these aircraft took part in the great Hendon Air Pageant,
one of the countrys largest pre-war aviation events
Westland Wapiti

604 were affiliated with 32.(f). sqdn followed by annual camp at Tangmere where they
became a blueband bombing squadron. In 1932 the squadron was visited by Air Marshall
HRH,The Prince of Wales, the occasion was to present the squadron with the coveted Esher
Trophy for being the best all round squadron in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. Headquarters
were opened in 1934 at Heath Brow, Hampstead by Vicount Trenchard, and during that
summer the role of 604 changed to that of a fighter squadron from the light bomber duties it
had started as, this was most popular with all of the members!.

Hawker Demon

After his 5 year stint S/L Gore handed over to S/L Gabriel who was one of the first
weekenders to qualify as a pilot with 604 sqdn. In 1935 Hawker Demons replaced the ageing
Wapiti's and four of these were detailed to take part in the annual Mildenhall air review. 1936
saw the commisioning of a certain John Cunningham and also the winner of the Esher
Trophy and again in 1938 only this time presented by ACM Hugh Dowding, also in this year
the Hendon pageant included 604sqdn and after summer camp the squadron was called up
and based at its wartime home of North Weald, Essex.
In 1939 camp was held at Hawkinge, and on the 24th of August the sqdn was embodied into
the R.A.F. as a bone fide fighter squadron and every single officer and airman was present for
this special occasion! On the 1st of September 1940 the Sqdn flew into North Weald
equipped now with Bristol Blenheim two seat fighters.

Bristol Blenheim

After a period of night flying duties, such as checking factories for blackout effectiveness and
AA gun affiliation exercises, 604 became officially a night fighter sqdn. F/O Cunningham
was crewed with his A/G "Jimmy" Rawnsley by this time and in December of 1939 had
recieved their first "radar" equipped Bristol Blenheim P4847. The sqdn moved to Martlesham
Heath for extensive training and to provide cover for the merchant ships using the East Coast
ports. A move to Kenley, Surrey, followed later that year to cover the B.E.F's leave ships
from France and on the 10th of May they escorted Blenheim Bombers to the beaches off the
Hague where they attacked JU52 troop transports destroying 4 and damaging 4 others, one of
604's aircraft crashing in Holland, but the crew escaped with aid from the dutch civilians
nearby. This was the first blood to the sqdn! The first night victory fell to the guns of F/O
Hunter, this was a JU88, and in September to the great delight of all, the sqdn recieved its
first Bristol Beaufighter AI (radar) aircraft, the airgunners were dissapointed with the lack of
a gun turret but most were happy to re-muster as radar operators, by this time John
Cunningham was a F/L and with a temporary R/O he destroyed a JU88 and in order to
conceal from the germans the existence of a functional radar system the ruse was put about
that F/L Cunningham posessed exceptional night vision, hence the nickname of "cats Eyes" a
name he did not enjoy! This man, with "Jimmy" Rawnsley, went on to become one of ,if not
the most, succesful night fighter teams of the Second World War.

Bristol Beaufighter
The victims of 604sqdn were often the aircraft of KG100 the Luftwaffe's premier pathfinder
squadron and, by the end of 1941, the squadron had flown for 5,800 hrs, with 56 enemy
aircraft destroyed, 40 damaged, and had gained 2 D.S.O.'s, 10 D.F.C.'s and a bar, 8 D.F.M.'s
and 1 bar, 3 B.E.M.'s, to the ground crews, and a M.E.B. to S/L Brown for his part in Sopley

Up to this date the squadron had lost 4 aircraft, with 8 crew members dead, a sacrifice that
should not be forgotten.

The career of 604 squadron continued throughout the Second World War being based at
Exeter from the 3rd of May and quickly sharing success with No 307 (Polish) squadron, Flt/lt
crew downing a Do217 over Cowes, Isle of Wight over Studland Bay S/L skinner despatched
an He111 on the 24th of May another He111 was destroyed by a new crew to 604 P/O Foster
and Sgt Newton.

July saw the departure of John Cunningham for a rest period after 6 years with the Squadron.
It would be impossible to render an account of all 604's victories here the source of this
information is best read in the excellent book "Twenty One Squadrons a Complete History of
the Auxiliary Squadrons of the Royal Air force".

Detachments of 604 operated from many airfields in England, from Leeds to , Cornwall to
Essex, the squadron was successful on so many occasions, from downing the first He 177
four engine Bomber over Sunderland to destroying an E-Boat in the English Channel, for
instance on the 27th of July S/L Hoy and W/Officer Ray, intercepted "weather Willie" a fast
moving Ju88 that radioed reports for the U-Boat's and for Lord Haw Haws broadcasts, but the
Ju88 was forced to radio that he would not be returning to base as he hit the sea! another
"weather Willie" was destroyed on the 22nd of august by Wing Commander Maxwell, Wing
commander Maxwell scored the squadrons 100th kill, and Wing Commander, Desmond
Hughes came into the squadron as its new C/O. He was a former Boulton-Paul Defiant pilot
from the Battle of Britain, with a DFC and two bars for night fighting with 125
(Newfoundland) squadron, and 600 (City Of London) squadron, his navigator was Flt Lt
Laurie Dixon DFC and Bar.

De Havilland Mosquito

Wing Commander Maxwell left for a staff job 604 became equipped with the Mosquito
MkX11, and soon after the squadron was airborne over the Invasion Beaches of Normandy.
part of the squadron was first based on French soil at A15 the allied tag for the Cherboug-
Maupertus aerodrome, the rest still based in the UK at Blackbushe airfield to protect the
supply ports for the Allies in Normandy. A move to allied field A8 (Picauville) saw the
whole squadron together, seven aircraft airborne that night, four aircraft destroyed, but with a
loss to the squadron of one aircraft, Flt Lt Hooper and F/O Hubbard DFC were never found.
By the 1st of september the airfield at A8 had deteriorated so much that the squadron moved
to B6 and then to B17 (Carpiquet) near Caen, Flt Lt Miller cannoned two armed Trawlers
near Jersey, the squadron moved back to Preddanack Cornwall on the 24th of September to
rearm with the latest Mosquito variant with an advanced new Radar. Another move to
Odiham Hantshire saw 604 waiting to move back to France, but while here they made patrols
to Belgium and Holland and in emergencies were able to land at Brussels-Melsbroek as this
was now in allied hands, they were under control of 147 wing.

Another move saw 604 based at Lille-Vendrille France, with F/officer Cross killing two
JU87's that night. On the 1st of January, the Germans mounted their last fling against allied
airfields in Belgium and Holland, 604 were not affected, but S/L Furze claimed a He219 over
Munchen Gladbach and in three quick combats Flt Lt Foster shot down three Ju88's bad
weather stopped operations for a while, with rare sightings of enemy aircraft, most nights
were spent hunting V1 flying bombs heading for Antwerp and England, An Me109 was
destroyed on the 24th of March 1945, with continued bad weather over the continent of
Europe, 604 aircraft made landings in the UK and it was some time after, before it became
known that F/Officer T.R. Wood having destroyed a JU88 in the early hours of the 27th of
March, had scored the final 604 kill of the Second World War. Bad weather reigned over the
continent and flying was at a halt, this allowed the squadron to throw a thank you party for
the squadrons ground crew at the University Hall in Lille.

On the 18th of April the squadron disbanded, the aircraft going to 264 and 409 squadrons the
latter a Canadian night fighter unit, so ended the wartime story of 604 (County Of Middlesex)
Squadron with a record of second to none!. Recruiting opened again at Hendon on the 1st of
June 1946, and again Group Captain Cunningham became Commanding Officer, reverting to
the rank of Squadron leader.

Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire

Now 604 was equipped with Spitfire LFXV1e aircraft, in 1948 an Essex flight was
established at North Weald, and soon the whole squadron was there, as Hendon was
becoming unsuitable for fighter aircraft. John Cunningham's other job as a test pilot for
DeHavilland took much of his time and S/Leader K.T. Lofts took over as commanding
officer. 604 regained the coveted Esher Trophy in 1949, but suffered a loss when S/L Lofts
was killed in a flying accident, S/Leader A.Deytrikh succeeded as the C/O and now saw his
squadron change over from the Spitfires to jets with the introduction of the De Havilland
Vampire F3 these were received in 1951.

De Havilland Vampire

Gloster Meteor

Middlesex County council publicly honoured 604 for their achievements on the 27th
February 1952 at the Guidhall Westminster, the Gloster Meteor F8 was issued to the
squadron as its mount, with S/L T.P Turnbull as its C/O and was flying these aircraft in the
front line of defence when in March 1957 came the decision to disband the flying units of the
Royal Auxiliary Air Force. On the 28th of May 1960 in Whitehall Sir Frederick Handley-
Page presented the Standard awarded By the Queen to Flt Lt Buckley a former 604 pilot, the
Standard was laid up in the RAF church of St Clement Danes, a formal parade was held, and
so ended part of Britains aviation history.

But some were not letting it end there! with a loan of £250, a Percival Proctor 111 was
aqquired G-ALOK (formerly RAF LZ589) appeared as the mount of the County Of
Middlesex squadron flying group, the rest of the cost of £525 was subscibed by members,
known as "oscar kilo" the aircraft gave pleasure to many.

132 german aircraft were shot down by 604 squadron, a totall of 37 DFC's or bars, 9 DFM's 4
BEM's, 3 Norwegian War medals, and countless "mentioned in Despatches" were given to
604 squadron, the books "Cover of Darkness" by Roderick Chisholme and "Nightfighter" by
C.F Rawnsley, John Cunninghams Radar operator are Very good reads.
Squadron Markings

Red and Yellow interlocking triangles carried across the top of the wings, and along the side
of the fuselage, and the armorial bearings of the County Of Middlesex on the tail. the
Wartime Squadron code was NG, post war they were RAK, but from 1949 they once again
became NG

The "sword" is known as a Seax and the motto in latin translates as,

"if you want peace, prepare for war" .

King George VI stood in the darkened “Starlights” caravan behind Squadron Leader Brown.
Together, they peered down at what seemed to be a fuzzy image on the radar’s cathode ray
tube display. From his position on the ground, Sqn/Ldr Brown relayed headings and altitudes
directly to the Beaufighter R while the King listened in the speaker system behind. He would
guide it to within three miles, hoping to position it above and behind the target, a German
night bomber. As the Beaufighter closed to within two miles of the target, he verified with
Sergeant Rawnsley, the radar operator on board the plane, that he had a solid radar fix on his
on his Airborne Interception (AI) equipment then he handed off the interception. If
everything went properly, the rest of the interception would be done by the pilot and radar
operator in flight.

Suddenly, Sqn/Ldr Brown realized that the Beaufighter was directly above their site — the
Sopley Ground Control Interception (GCI) station. He turned to the King and suggested they
go outside to watch the interception. Stepping out into the moonlit night, the two men lifted
their eyes upward, searching for any sign of the two planes — the German plane and the
pursuing Beaufighter piloted by Squadron Leader Cunningham. A faint drone from the
engines was all that could be heard — then they saw something that looked like a faint red

Squadron Leader John Cunningham meets King George at RAF Middle Wallop that night.

Earlier in the Night

There was little warning of the King’s visit to with 604 Squadron at RAF Middle Wallop on
Wednesday, May 7, 1941. Nonetheless, everyone managed to get the airfield and into a
presentable state. Accompanied by Sir Sholto Douglas, the King dined in the Officers Mess
and then inspected and talked to the flight crews. For a time, the King spoke with Squadron
Leader John Cunningham and then as quoted in the 604 Squadron History, he “asked
Sergeant Rawnsley his score and on being told nine he commented, ‘Nine eh? Will you get
one for me tonight?’ Rawnsley very much overcome by the occasion, promised to do his
best. His Majesty then left to be shown around Starlight GCI at Sopley.”

It was 10:03 pm when Sqn/Ldr Cunningham and Sergeant Rawnsley boarded their
Beaufighter Mk.IF (R2101 NG-R) and took off to patrol the English Channel. Their aircraft
was fitted with the Airborne Interception (AI) Mk IV radar, a system that had been
introduced in late September 1940 and had served the RAF’s night fighter squadrons well.

Armed with four cannon and six machine guns and with a top speed of 320 mph, the Bristol
Beaufighter was a formidable night fighter, made even more so when integrated into the
innovative British Chain Home radar network that looked out to sea and warned of any
approaching German aircraft. The flaw with the radar network, however, was that it left a
void inland. Once a German plane crossed the line of coastal radars, it disappeared into the
unmonitored heartland. To address this gap, the Ground Control Intercept (GCI) radar
system was developed based on a mobile system, the so-called “Starlight” caravans. The first
mobile installation was established at Sopley in December 1940.

RAF Sopley’s Mobile GCI unit as seen from above on January 5, 1941. Sopley was the most
effective GCI in Britain, ending the war with over 100 victories.

The Radar System

The GCI radar unit was based on an adapted Army Gun Laying tracker, known as a Type 8
Radar. This was serviced by two aerials that were aligned onto a target by two airmen,
known as Binders, who would pedal a stationary tandem that operated a mechanical linkage
to turn the aerials based on instructions from the operator looking at the screen. It was a
crude system by later standards, but at the height of the early war period, it was the best there

Large Crossley trucks were used to mount the transmitter and receiver each connected to an
aerial, while the operations room was housed in a Brockhouse trailer. In turn, this held the
crew of three — a height finder operator, a fighter controller who sat in front of the Plan
Position Indicator [PPI] scope, and a plotter. Curtained off from the other crew, the plotter
calculated aircraft speeds, headings and tracks of targets using a map and a Dalton computer.
Sopley was also equipped with Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system that allowed quick
identification of Allied aircraft.
The RAF Sopley Type 8 Mobile GCI Radar System, c. 1941.

Integrated Radar Coverage

The mobile unit did not stand on its own, however, as initial radar contacts were provided by
the Chain High and Chain Low stations that looked across the English Channel for incoming
German planes. Contact information included the range, bearing, speed and height of the
contact. The GCIs accepted the transferred plot and took over as the enemy aircraft crossed
the coastline — from that point onward, the job was in the hands of the RAF’s night fighter

A high degree of skill was required to co-ordinate height, course and speed data, particularly
at night. Squadron Leader Brown had with the help of Edward Bowen, a major contributor to
the development of radar who personally developed the necessary control techniques.
Ultimately, he would become probably the most successful GCI controller of the war.

Scopes supporting the Type 8 radar at RAF Sopley.

Even with the extraordinary capabilities of the ground-based mobile GCI system, the real
action typically culminated on board the night fighter. Once brought within close range, the
AI operator in flight would look through a leather visor at two luminous green cathode tubes,
on which he could read the horizontal and vertical positions of his target. Once in range, the
echo that bounced off the enemy aircraft would appear as a blip on both screens. The
operator would call instructions to the pilot, bringing the plane into visual range – from there,
it was the job of the pilot to shoot down the enemy.
With Sergeant Rawnsley calling instructions to Sqn/Ldr Cunningham, the two men navigated
in behind the enemy aircraft — just what type of plane it was would be a mystery until they
got within visual range.

A Luftwaffe He 111 as seen flying during 1941, from a sister squadron to the KG27 aircraft
that was chased that night, this one being from KG26. Source: German Federal Archives

The View from the German Side

The town of Rennes in northern France served as the home of 7 Staffel Kampfgeschwader 27
(Boelcke), which was part of Luftlotte 3 within Fliegerkorps IV. That night, one of the
Staffel’s bombes, a Heinkel He 111P-2 (Werke Nr 1639 IG+DR), had taken off into the cold
evening air. On board were a crew of four — Pilot Oberfeldwebel Heinz Laschinski,
Observer Feldwebel Heinz Shier, Wireless Operator Oberfeldwebel Otto Willrich and Flight
Engineer Feldwebel Fritz Klemm. As with many in the Staffel, the men were an experienced
night bomber crew.

Laschinski had joined the Lufwaffe in 1934 and had then flown for Deutsche Luft Hansa
before being recalled to the new Luftwaffe for service in Spain as part of the Condor Legion.
He served with distinction with 2nd Staffel Kampfgruppe 88 receiving amongst other awards
the Spanish Cross with Swords, awarded for having taken part in combat missions against the
Republican forces. He was then assigned as a ‘blind flying’ instructor until in 1939 when he
applied for transfer to a combat group.
A Heinkel He 111P with KG27, the exact type and squadron of the aircraft that was chased
that night.

A Luftwaffe Night Raid

The mission that night was his 121st operational flight over Great Britain. His target was the
Liverpool docks. After take off from Rennes, they had come across the English Channel at
4,000 metres (12,800 feet). Once they had cleared the flak batteries on the south coast of
England, Laschinski aimed his He 111 for the Bristol Channel, intending to fly between
Cardiff and Bristol so as to avoid the aerial defences of both cities.

It was a clear night and he could see the reflection of the moonlight off the English Channel
as he reached down and behind to his left and found the two fuel tank transfer controls. He
began to transfer fuel from the outer tanks to the inner ones. It wouldn’t be long before they
would reach the Liverpool docks and, after having dropped their bomb load, they expected to
return to Rennes, arriving in the early in the morning of May 7th. At that moment, they had
no idea that just two miles behind, an RAF Beaufighter was steadily approaching. The
German crewmen were always alert, however, scanning the darkness for a telltale flash of an
exhaust fire or the silhouetting of an enemy hunter against the moon’s reflection off the
water. The radar operator on the Bristol Beaufighter, Sergeant Rawnsley, focused on the AI
— his only picture of the surrounding skies amidst the darkness of night. Calmly, he called
out instructions to his pilot, Squadron Leader John Cunningham, asking for a steady descent
toward the target ahead. The Stopley GCI had vectored them in, setting them up perfectly
above and behind the German airplane. He felt the plane accelerate slightly as Sqn/Ldr
Cunningham carefully edged the control yoke forward to bring the plane’s nose down and
edge closer toward the target. If the German bomber didn’t change course, it would soon
come into visual range and even now, Cunningham was scanning the skies ahead intently.
They would have to ensure that they weren’t overtaking at a too rapid pace or they might end
up overrunning the target or worse, even colliding with it.

In the moonlight, they saw the German plane ahead. Sqn/Ldr Cunningham slowed and
carefully came up behind. From behind, it looked to be a Heinkel He 111, another night
bomber of the Luftwaffe. The Germans were on a course to navigate between Cardiff and
Bristol and were heading over the Bristol Channel. Were they going beyond or dropping
their bombs one of the nearer cities? It didn’t matter, as the outcome would be the same
now. Seeking positive identification, Sqn/Ldr Cunningham began to line up his attack plan.

A Bristol Beaufighter in the same squadron as the plane that engaged that night.
Setting up the Attack

To prevent the Beaufighter from being silhouetted against the glistening, moonlit sea,
Cunningham waited for his quarry to be over land. As soon as it crossed the coast and was
clear of the Bristol Channel, he moved in. Ahead, the Heinkel’s blue exhaust flames were
clearly visible and gave him an ideal focal point for holding formation. With care, he
performed his customary identification check. He needed to be absolutely sure of the aircraft
type — it would do no good to shoot down another Beaufighter. He knew that such errors
could happen easily at night and with the excitement of the chase.

Flying underneath, he looked up at the wing plan form and confirmed his target was a
Heinkel He 111 bomber after all. There was no doubt. Never taking his eyes off of the
bottom of the enemy plane, he pulled back on the throttles slightly. Slowly, the Beaufighter
fell back into trail as he carefully positioned himself for the attack. Night fighter tactics
differed sharply from those of the daytime boys in their Spitfires and Hurricanes. They could
get into a swirling dogfight, shooting at whatever targets passed before their guns, trying to
make sense of the melee, pick a target and attack. In the night, however, it was very
different. Stealth, patience and ambush were the best moves. Further, you had to kill from
the first shot — usually from so close that you couldn’t miss. If you engaged from farther
away, the enemy might be only lightly damaged and thus, he might turn away and flee into
the cloaking darkness of midnight. Even with luck, it would be difficult or even impossible
to relocate him.

The unique shape of the Bristol Beaufighter, one of the preeminent night fighters of the war.
Source: WWII aircraft identification cards.

The Attack Begins

Sqn/Ldr Cunningham checked with Sergeant Rawnsley a final time to make sure he was
prepared. He reconfirmed too that there were no other aircraft around. Except for the
German He 111, they were alone. As described by Sergaent Rawnsley in his later book,
“Night Fighter”, the encounter unfolded deliberately and slowly, despite the excitement of
finding and engaging a German plane:

“We were right below our target, a great fat prima-donna of a Heinkel. John started pulling
up behind it and the long, long wait was even more agonising than usual. But the enemy
crew showed no reaction. We were right behind and there came the final moment of tension
with the sharp little lurches as John brought the sight to bear. Still there was no response
from the Heinkel. Then came the blessed relief of the crash of the guns and the sudden surge
upwards to get out of the way of the hurtling wreckage. A wicked orange glow appeared
inside the fuselage of the Heinkel and the wheels fell down in the most forlorn way. As we
flew alongside, watching, the glow burst through the skin and the flames took over. The
whole aircraft trembles and broke into a violent pitching and with a plume of flames
streaming out behind it, the Heinkel went down in a headlong plunge to earth.”

A Heinkel He 111, one of Germany’s best medium bombers.

From the German Side

From the first sounds of the bullets impacting into his Heinkel, Pilot Oberfeldwebel Heinz
Laschinski was in shock. Moments earlier, he had been transferring fuel from the outer wing
tanks to the inner ones, unsuspecting that the British airplane was already upon them. When
he heard a rattling of gunfire, he saw his observer, Heinz Schier, collapse next to him,
obviously dead. Seconds later, fuel spilled onto the cockpit floor. In an instant, it ignited and
the cockpit was engulfed in flames. He shouted to the two other crew to bale out as he
reached through the flames to grab the handles of his own escape hatch. There was no saving
the plane. It was just a matter of survival — to get out before the plane exploded or he was
burned alive.

He grasped the handles of the escape hatch and felt a stabbing pain. Blinking through the
fire, he saw his hands melting onto the handles. He withdrew them and for an instant looked
at his twisted, ruined fingers, as held them up before his eyes. There was only one way out,
however. He reached up again and managed to unclip and slide the escape hatch back,
burning his hands yet more. He stood up through the inferno to climb into the cold rushing
wind from the speed of the plane as it angled through the dark sky. Even then, he couldn’t
free himself. His seat parachute caught on the exit hatch, trapping him half in the cockpit,
half out. He couldn’t leap clear. As the flames were roaring at his feet and legs, in a panic he
pulled the rip cord.

Whether he blacked out or blocked it out he would never know, but a second later he found
himself drifting below the mass of his glowing plane, flaming as it careened onward toward
its end. Then his parachute was snapped open and jerked him to a stop. The plane sped off
into a fiery descent. Then he passed out once again.
Bristol Beaufighter Mk IIF night fighter of No. 255 Squadron RAF at Hibaldstow,
Lincolnshire, as seen on September 5, 1941, with its AI Mark IV interception radar. Source:
Imperial War Museum


Oberfeldwebel Heinz Laschinski came to lying on his back in a damp field. In spite of his
very painful burnt hands, he managed to release his parachute. Years later in an interview
with author Kenneth Wakefield, he told of how he had walked across a field until he came to
a hedge. Then he followed that to a gate. There, he decided to hide his maps and pistol in a
drainage pipe. It was pointless to hide himself or try to evade — he was in England, an
island nation and his wounds needed immediate care. Through the gate, he walked along a
lane to a farm house. It was nearing midnight when he knocked on the door and woke the
elderly residents inside. In his best English, he asked them to call the police. He could no
longer feel the pain of his burns. Exhausted, he collapsed onto the grass outside to await his

Shortly afterward, the Home Guard, police and some local residents arrived with a number of
vehicles. Laschinski’s Heinkel had come down near Weston Zolyand and the closet hospital
was at Bridgewater in Somerset. He would be taken there to receive care for his wounds.
Once at the hospital, his hands were heavily bandaged. He realized too that his face was
badly burned. It would be a long recovery. In later years he remembered with gratitude the
excellent treatment he received — even in wartime, the English provided the finest care. He
was in turn well liked at Bridgewater and at the RAF hospital at Locking in Weston Super
Mare to which he was transferred a month later on June 10, 1941.

Life as a POW

When he had recovered sufficiently to be discharged, he was sent first to the POW staging
area at Swindon. From there, he was sent onward to a POW camp at Bury in Lancashire.
Kindly, the British had told him that two of his crew members had been found alive near the
wreckage of his Heinkel, but it was only when he met up with his wireless operator,
Oberfeldwebel Otto Willrich, that he found out more.

What he learned was that when Willrich had heard the order to bale out, he had climbed
down into the ventral gunner’s position below the aircraft. There, he had found Fritz
Klemm’s body. He had been killed by the guns of the Beaufighter — only one other, not
two, had survived. After leaving the aircraft, Willrich landed near a searchlight site between
Durston and North Petherton, south of Bridgewater. Almost immediately, he was taken

As for their Heinkel He 111P, the aircraft had broken up in mid-air after the two men had
escaped. The majority of the wreckage had come down at Andersea Farm in West Zoyland at
11:30 pm.

Sqn/Ldr John Cunningham, who would go on to complete the war with a total of 20 victories
over German aircraft.


A year later in 1942, Sopley mobile GCI was upgraded with large permanent buildings and
the latest radar technology and support systems. For the next 30 years there was continual
development including the construction of an underground bunker. Subsequently, in the
post-war period, it emerged as a regional control facility. What had started as a handful of
mobile, truck-mounted radars, communications vans and control stations had evolved into a
full-scale radar base. Decades later, with the centralization of air traffic control, the unit was
finally closed. In September 1974, RAF Sopley was handed over to the Army. Later, the site
was put up for sale. It was sold and removed from the Army’s installation list in 1993.

As for Heinz Lashinski, he grew a beard to cover his burnt face while he was in the hospitals
undergoing burn treatments. After the war, he returned to Germany in 1947 with hopes of
returning to flying as a commercial pilot. The long convalescence and the shattered state of
the post-war German economy prevented him achieving his ambition, however. Instead, he
found employment with the German Post Office. Finally, in the late 1970s, he made plans to
visit England and meet the people who had helped and befriended him after he had been shot
down. Sadly, just two weeks before his planned visit, he fell ill and died.
RAF Sopley had received upgraded radar by the end of the war; in the background is the
control center bunker. Source: Imperial War Museum

Looking back on the engagement that night — May 7, 1941, which was today in aviation
history — the attack and downing of Heinz Lashinski’s Heinkel He 111P was just one in
thousands of such stories that combine into the history of the air war in WWII as we know it
today. In a sense it was a special event because it was witnessed by the King of England. In
another sense, however, it is just another of the many stories of war that are tragic, terrible
and rarely glorious, even if often heroic. The scars of conflict are deep and memories are

We can only hope that we will never again experience a war of such terrible magnitude. We
should give thanks too for what these brave men and women did in those hard years. They
gave us the world that we enjoy today — one where we can fly in peace.
King George VI Presents Trophy To 604 Squadron Of RAF, At
Buckingham Palace
LS. King, George VI, Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) and Princess Margaret walking out of
Palace and to top of terrace steps.

MS. The Commanding officer of the 604 Squadron salutes and invites King to inspect parade.
King walk down steps and shake hands with the Commanding Officer.

MS. King and Commanding Officer inspecting the squadron. inspecting airmen, & SCU.
Queen Elizabeth talking to the squadron members and Princess Margaret follows behind.
King presenting the Esher Trophy to the Commanding Officer.

MS. The King speaking at presentation ceremony –

'I am very glad to present the Lord Esher Trophy this year to the winning squadron 604 Squadron
of the RAAF (Royal Auxiliary Air Force). I congratulate all the officers and men who have raised to
so high a level the efficiency of the unit. SCU. 'We realise that your efficiency has been won at the
cost of absence from your homes and families and we are glad to acknowledge the sacrifices which
they, as well as you, have made to achieve it. In so honouring you, today, we are paying tribute to
the whole of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. Your Squadron, born 20 years ago, has a history of
which it has every reason to be proud. Four times in the fourteen years, in which it has been
awarded, you have won this trophy. It is given to the Squadron considered to be the most efficient
and judges by operational standards... (part missing) Squadron was well enough prepared to
undertake night fighter operation and its score of well over a hundred enemy planes destroyed is a
tribute to its outstanding efficiency.
Officer walks up to receive trophy from King

the march past of the winning 604 squadron. MS. King and Queen and others watching march past,
the families of the men watching march past.

MS. The King, Queen and Princess Margaret chatting to families of men of 604 squadron.
Group Captain John ‘Cats Eye’ Cunningham - CBE - DSO** - DFC* - AE - DL

Captain John Cunningham meeting George VI at Middle Wallop in 1941

Gp Capt Cunningham, from Croydon, south London, became interested in planes from an
early age. He joined de Havilland as a trainee in 1935 and then enrolled with the Royal
Auxiliary Air Force’s 604 Squadron. He was called up by the RAF as a nightfighter pilot at
the outbreak of war, and served with his navigator Jimmy Rawnsley

His first ‘kill’ was on November 19, 1940 when he shot down a Junkers 88 bomber crossing
the Sussex coast. He went on to destroy two Heinkel 111 bombers over the English Channel
and over Lyme Bay and was almost immediately awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross
with bar. He downed two enemy bombers on the same patrol on April 8, 1941 and three in
three patrols the following week. As a result he was awarded the DSO. The second bar award
to the DSO came in July 1942 after he had claimed 16 kills and the third award in March
1944, by which time he was a wing commander in 85 Squadron and had claimed 20 kills. In
October 1943 he had a near miss when a Junkers 88 opened fire at his Mosquito plane and
shattered his windscreen. After the war Gp Capt Cunningham became the chief test pilot for
de Havilland and went on to test the Comet, the world’s first jet airliner, and oversaw its
development from prototype to production. He also broke the world altitude record in a Ghost
Vampire jet.He later became a chief test pilot and executive director of British Aerospace and
retired in 1980, having never married.

His medal group was made up of his CBE, DSO with two bars, DFC with one bar, the
1939-45 Star with Battle of Britain bar, the Air Crew Europe Star, the Defence Medal
with bronze oak leaf, the Air Efficiency Award, the US Silver Star and the Russian
Order of the Patriotic War.
Highly regarded, probably throughout the world, as an exceptional night-fighter pilot, which
led to his nickname of ‘Cats Eyes’ Cunningham. During the Battle of Britain Cunningham
served with No 604 Squadron, and went on to achieve a total of 20 destroyed, 3 probables
and 7 damaged by the end of 1945.

Fighter John ‘Cat’s Eyes’ Cunningham downed at least 20 German bombers at over the
English Channel . Up to 19 of these were shot down at night and he became a hero of the
RAF for his ability to see in the dark and for his skill and bravery. Cunningham was the
highest scoring night fighter in the Second World War.

Early life:

Cunningham was born in Croydon in South London, the son of the company secretary of the
Dunlop Rubber Company. He first flew at a young age, while attending preparatory school at
Sleaford. He was subsequently a pupil at Whitgift School, a public school in Croydon. After
leaving school, he joined de Havilland Aircraft in 1935 as an apprentice. In the same year he
also joined Royal Auxiliary Air Force and became a member of No. 604 (County of
Middlesex) Squadron; he made his first solo flight in 1936. Cunningham subsequently
became a junior test pilot with de Havilland, working with light aircraft alongside Geoffrey
de Havilland, the company founder's son. He famously destroyed one bomber without firing a
single shot after he daringly dived down through cloud at great speed and drove the enemy
aircraft into the ground. The secret to his devastating eyesight, Carrots!
The late Battle of Britain airman's insistence that it was the humble garden
root vegetable which kept his sight in tip top form convinced generations of
children to eat their vegetables. It has since been revealed that Group Captain
Cunningham’s ability to see enemy planes at night was more likely to be
down to top secret radar technology that he was one of the first to trial than
carrots. But the myth was snapped up by war time health ministers as a way
to encourage children towards healthy eating. Cunningham’s night fighting
skills were used as a ruse to encourage Britain children to eat more of the
humble vegetable . And it is hoped his legacy will continue to inspire future
generations of young pilots.

L. S.
The first flight, on July 27 1949, of the prototype de Havilland Comet airliner from Hatfield, north
of London, was a technological leap over the rest of the 20th century; the pilot that day was John
Cunningham, who has died aged 84.

The former Royal Air Force group captain launched civilian jet aviation, and gave the British
industry what appeared to be a five-year lead over its American rivals, principally at Boeing.
The de Havilland four-engined jet was almost twice as fast as any of its contemporaries, and
not very much slower than most airliners of today.

The saga of the Comet was to end in tragedy and anti-climax. Its spectacular initial success
gave Cunningham global celebrity, but within the confined, monochrome media of austerity
Britain, Cunningham was already famous. In 1947 he had taken a de Havilland Vampire jet
fighter to a then world record height of 59,460 feet, without a pressure suit; and during the
second world war he had been the Royal Air Force's most celebrated night-fighter pilot,
credited with shooting down 20 enemy aircraft.

The Comet was one of three airliners conceived in 1943 by the government's Brabazon
committee to challenge the American domination of civil aviation; de Havilland, headed by
the autocratic Sir Geoffrey de Havilland, began work on what became the Comet as the war
ended. The company's chief test pilot had been Sir Geoffrey's son, Geoffrey, but in 1946 he
was killed while flying an experimental Dh108 jet over the Thames estuary.

So Cunningham was offered the job of chief test pilot and the task of finding out, during 163
flights, why the Dh108 had crashed. The applied research that Cunningham conducted in the
late 1940s on the Dh108's aerodynamics ultimately paid off in the wing design of a
succession of European aircraft, all the way through to the Airbus of today. During those
three years the new chief test pilot, from his office in the corner of a hangar in Hatfield, lived
with the Comet as it took shape; knew everybody who worked on it; tested the plane's
engines aboard Lancastrian converted bombers, Vampires and Dh108s; and flew American
Lockheed Constellations to acclimatise himself to big airliners.

And then, in the late afternoon of that July day in 1949 - on what was his birthday and that of
Sir Geoffrey de Havilland - Cunningham took the Comet to 10,000 feet over Hertfordshire.

Late 1940s Britain generated icons of earth, air and sea, which implied that the country was
emerging from austerity, indeed that it had a technological future. There were the Morris
Minor and Standard Vanguard cars, Cunard's "green goddess" liner, the Caronia, and, above
all, the Comet, a magnificent piece of design, which, with Cunningham at the controls,
attracted crowds wherever it flew. It even co-starred in David Lean's 1952 film The Sound
Barrier. That year, too, it entered passenger service.

But within two years a series of catastrophic crashes had grounded the aircraft. By the time
the problem - pressurisation fatigue failure on the fuselage - had been solved, the Comet's
lead had gone and the first generation of American jet airliners was entering service.
Cunningham was born in south Croydon, the son of an executive at the Dunlop tyre
company, and educated at Whitgift School. He was fascinated by birds and aircraft - interests
which remained undimmed eight decades later. By the mid-1920s he was watching aircraft
flying at Kenley aerodrome, making elastic-powered models, and, together with his father,
pacing Croydon airport. At preparatory school in Sleaford, he made his first flight in an old

In 1935 Cunningham joined de Havilland as a three-year technical training apprentice. That

year he also enrolled in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, learning to fly at Hendon, north
London, with 604 County of Middlesex Squadron, going solo in 1936.

In the inter-war period, de Havilland was a maverick in a British aviation industry heavily
dependent on military orders. The firm specialised in trainers, racers, civilian aeroplanes,
small airliners like the elegant, fast - and wooden - Albatross that flew the Croydon-Le
Bourget service. Cunningham recalled that in those days Sir Geoffrey de Havilland did not
enjoy working with the Ministry of Supply "building great flying battleships" and as for the
Air Staff, the entrepreneur thought them out of date. By the end of the decade Sir Geoffrey
had given Cunningham a job in the light aircraft department, where he worked as a junior test
pilot with the autocrat's son, Geoffrey, on the Moth Minor light aircraft.

Cunningham was called up as a nightfighter pilot in August 1939. The end of the Battle of
Britain in autumn 1940 meant that the Luftwaffe focused on the Blitz, the night bombing of
cities against which British air defences were hopelessly inadequate. The radar equipped
nightfighter was the key weapon; the first squadron to be equipped with such aircraft (albeit
lumbering, obsolete converted Blenheim bombers) was 604.

For the first time in air combat, Cunningham, using interception radar, shot down a Junkers
Ju88 bomber crossing the Sussex coast on the night of November 20, 1940. Soon after, the
squadron was re-equipped with the more effective Beaufighter. With Jimmy Rawnsley
operating the radar, Cunningham shot down a clutch of bombers, including three Heinkels on
one night.

Early in 1941 he was back at Hatfield to see another of de Havilland's wooden aircraft, the
phenomenally fast prototype Mosquito. Until the advent of the Comet eight years later this
was the plane most closely identified with Cunningham. In July 1942 Cunningham took over
command of No 85 squadron, flying Mosquito NF11s.

Like the dam-busting bomber commander Guy Gibson, he had become a wartime media star.
He was nicknamed "Cat's Eyes" - which he disliked - and his prowess at locating enemy
planes in the dark was attributed to his consumption of carrots, launching a myth.

Cunningham observed later that it was the top secret radar on the Mosquito, rather than
vegetables, that accounted for his success. But the name stuck - he was still "Cat's Eyes" to
neighbours outside Harpenden half a century on.

By 1944 he had risen to group captain night operations, number 11 group, and he was again
called to Hatfield to assess a new aircraft - smooth, fast, "it was," he observed, "an absolute
revelation." The machine was the Vampire, de Havilland's first jet. At the end of the war, he
made up his mind. In December 1945, the group captain, aged 28, rejoined the company at
His working life was to revolve around that factory. After the Comet disasters he tested later
versions, crucially the Comet IV which, in 1957, inaugurated the first transatlantic jet service,
ahead of the Boeing 707, for the British Overseas Airways Corporation. From 1962, he was
test pilot on the first three-engined jet airliner, the Trident, and on the HS125 executive jet.
By then de Havilland had been swallowed by the mergers that swept the British aviation

In 1978 he became a British Aerospace executive director, and two years later he retired. By
the 1990s de Havilland at Hatfield was rubble. Yet Cunningham's beloved Comet survives in
the shape of the RAF's Nimrods, usually far out to sea; for, despite additional bulges and
blisters, the maritime patrol aircraft is recognisably the Comet design that he flew more than
half a century ago

Cunningham was awarded an OBE in 1951, and made a CBE in 1963, two more honours
amid a cluster of wartime medals - from Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union - and
record flights. He never married; his mother said he was in love with the Comet. He did fall
in love with a Norwegian in 1947. The engagement ended a year later.

In old age, Cunningham's demeanour was still that of the gentleman-hero, affable, modest,
precise, the figure captured on black and white celluloid, stepping down from the Mosquito,
the Vampire and the Comet.

After I had interviewed him in 1996, we contemplated a painting of the Comet 1 in the hall,
then walked out to the front garden and stared out over the fields towards Luton airport. He
said that one could see the airliners landing, unprompted, or at least their tail-fins."It was a
huge effort," he observed, "making commercial jet aviation successful. It started with de
Havilland's. I was fortunate." He was rather more than that.

· Group Captain John Cunningham, test pilot, born July 27 1917; died July 21 2002

Cunningham / Rawnsley became a household name in England after shooting down three
HE 111s in one night
Cecil Frederick "Jimmy" Rawnsley 1904 – 1965 DSO – DFC - DFM*

Navigator Fl/CMD Jimmy Rawnsley (left), Wing Commander John Cunningham(right)

Flight Lieutenant, Cecil Frederick "Jimmy" Rawnsley 1904 – 1965

Cats Eyes' Cunningham left & AI Operator Jimmy Rawnsley right

Flight Lieutenant Cecil Frederick "Jimmy" Rawnsley DSO DFC DFM was a British Royal
Air Force night fighter observer radar operator during World War II. He flew many of his
sorties with John "Cat's Eyes" Cunningham who was credited with 20 kills, of which 19 were
claimed at night.

World War 2

Rawnsley initially served as an air-gunner but retrained to become a navigator/radar operator

and was sent to No. 604 Squadron RAF flying Beaufighters. Using the new airborne
interception (AI) equipment (an early form of airborne radar). Using this tracking device at
night, Rawnsley was able to guide Cunningham onto targets. Their first confirmed "kill"
came on the night of 19 - 20 November, 1940, when they downed a German Junkers Ju-88
bomber over Oxfordshire.

On 4 April, 1941 he was awarded a Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) to which he added a
Bar on 23 May of the same year. With mounting success he was awarded the Distinguished
Flying Cross (DFC) on 19 September 1941.

In January 1943, Rawnsley transferred to No. 85 Squadron RAF along with Cunningham.
They now flew a Mosquito and within the year has downed four more enemy aircraft. On the
26 October 1943, after flying over 200 sorties with Cunningham and having been his radar
operator during the downing of 17 enemy planes he was awarded a Distinguished Service
Order (DSO).
Rawnsley’s Medals / awards / news cuts

4 April 1941 - Sergeant Cecil Frederick Rawnsley, Auxiliary Air Force, No. 604 Squadron is
awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal in recognition of gallantry displayed in flying
operations against the enemy:

Sergeant Rawnsley has shown great keenness both as an air gunner and radio operator and
has materially assisted his pilot to destroy two enemy aircraft.
— London Gazette

23 May 1941 - Sergeant Cecil Frederick Rawnsley, DFM (804251), Auxiliary Air Force, No.
604 Squadron is awarded a bar to his Distinguished Flying Medal in recognition of gallantry
displayed in flying operations against the enemy:

This airman has continued to display the greatest ability and efficiency as wireless operator.
He has assisted his pilot in the destruction of at least 7 enemy aircraft. He has been a splendid
inspiration to his fellow operators.
— London Gazette

19 September 1941 - Pilot Officer Cecil Frederick Rawnsley, DFM, No. 604 Squadron, is
awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for gallantry displayed in flying operations against
the enemy.

26 October 1943 - Flight Lieutenant Cecil Frederick Rawnsley, DFC, DFM (102089) Royal
Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 85 Squadron is awarded the Distinguished Service Order in
recognition of gallantry displayed in flying operations against the enemy:

As observer, Flight Lieutenant Rawnsley has participated in more than 200 sorties and his
brilliant work is beyond praise. He has assisted in the destruction of 17 enemy aircraft, 16 of
them at night. In addition to his work in the Air, Flight Lieutenant Rawnsley has devoted
much service towards the training of other members of aircraft and his efforts have been
attended with excellent results. Flight Lieutenant Rawnsley has rendered invaluable service
— London Gazette

1946 - Distinguished Flying Cross (United States)

604’s first commanding officer from March 1930 -April 1935
Group-Captain Alan Sidney Whitehorn Dore - C.B. - D.S.O. - T.D. - D.L.
lieutenant colonel Alan Sidney Whitehorn Dore, C.B., D.S.O., T.D., D.L.

Alan Dore was born in 1882, Highgate, Middlesex. He was educated at Mill Hill School , Hendon.
He was commissioned in to the 1st Volunteer Battalion Worcestershire Regiment in 24th March
1906. He was promoted to Lieutenant and the 21st January 1907.

On the 1st July 1908 he was promoted to rank of Captain and joined the 7th Battalion Worcestershire

In 1915, with the rank of Major, he served with the 1/7th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment as
second-in-command, and landed with them at Boulogne , France during the night of 31st march
1915. However, after only a few months he was wounded on the 6th May 1915 and returned to
England to recover.

On the 24th March 1916 he was seconded for duty as an

Observer with the Royal Flying Corps. Appointed Flying
Officer on the 3rd November 1916.
He learnt to fly on BE’s with 13 Squadron of the Royal
Flying Corps and then joined 43rd Squadron as a Flying
Officer. He later took command of 43rd Squadron on the
6th March 1917 with the rank of Flight Commander,
after Major Sholto Douglas was injured after hitting and
killing a horse on take-off.

During his last few day in command of 43rd Squadron,

September 1917, he shot down a German plane. In 1917
he was mentioned in despatches twice (London Gazette
dates 04/01/1917 and 11/12/1917).

In 1918, he married Ciceley E. M. Maund (Hampstead,

London ), daughter of Edward and Ealeanor Maund.
Ciceley was born in Marhouseland , South Africa in
1896. Her father had been a tutor at Trinity College
School , Oxford in the 1880’s.

Major Dore was Awarded the D.S.O. (London Gazette

dated 1st January 1918) and appointed Temporary
Lieut.-Colonel on the 11th March 1918.

On the 7th November 1918 he was restored to the establishment (Worcestershire Regiment) and on
the 4th February 1919 he was transferred to the Army unemployed list.

On the 19th March 1930 Lieut-Colonel Alan Sidney Whitehorn Dore, D.S.O. raised and was the
original commander of No. 604 ( County of Middlesex ) Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force. He was
given the rank of Squadron Leader (Honorary Wing Commander). He commanded this squadron
until the 8th April 1935. This squadron later flew night-fighter Blenheims in the Battle of Britain.

On the 1st June 1936 he was appointed to the General List in the rank of Wing Commander.
In 1949 he was awarded a C.B. (Order of Bath, third class) in the Kings Birthday honours (London
Gazette 9th June 1949) and listed with the rank of Group-Captain . At the time he was Chairman of
Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Association of the County of Middlesex.
Lieut-Colonel Alan Sidney Whitehorn Dore, D.S.O. had tree children; Lola Miele Dore born 9th
November 1919, Alan C. B. Dore born 1923 and John Bingham Whitehorn Dore born 22nd October
1924. Interestingly, Lola Miele Dore and John Bingham Whitehorn both qualified as pilots, in 1938
and 1948 respectively.
Wing Commander F D Hughes
W/Cdr, Wing Commander Frederick Desmond Hughes

Wing Commander F D Hughes, Commanding Officer of No. 604 Squadron RAF standing in
front of a De Havilland Mosquito NF Mark XIII at Predannack, Cornwall. Hughes was
posted to No. 264 Squadron RAF in 1940 and by April 1942 had shot down 6 enemy aircraft,
3 of them at night, while teamed up with his gunner, Segreant F Gash. In 1942, he served
with No. 125 Squadron RAF in the United Kingdom, followed by No. 600 Squadron in North
Africa and Italy in 1943, before being posted to the staff at HQ Fighter Command. After
another staff apointment with No. 85 Group, 2nd Tactical Air Force, he took command of
604 Squadron in July 1944, and shot down his last victim on 13 January 1945 to bring his
score to 18.5 victories.

Air Vice-Marshal F D Hughes

History and Medals

(Frederick) Desmond b: 6 Jun 1919 r: 6 Jun 1974 d: 11 Jan 1992

CB – 3 Jun 1972, CBE - 1 Jan 1962, DSO – xx xxx 1945, DFC – 18 Apr 1941, Bar – 13 Apr 1943, Bar – 28
Sep 1943, AFC - 1 Jan 1954, DL (Lincolnshire) – 22 Nov 1983, MA

(RAFVR): Plt Off: 3 Oct 1939, Fg Off: 3 Oct 1940, Flt Lt: 3 Oct 1940, Act Sqn Ldr: 26 Jan 1943?, Act
Wg Cdr: 26 Jan 1944?, Sqn Ldr (WS): 26 Jul 1944,

(RAF): Flt Lt: 2 Apr 1946 [1 Dec 1942], (T) Sqn Ldr: 3 Dec 1946 [1 Jul 1945], Sqn Ldr: 1 Aug 1947, Wg
Cdr: 1 Jan 1953, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1958, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1963, Act AVM: 12 Sep 1966, AVM: 1 Jul 1967.

xx xxx xxxx: U/T Pilot, Cambridge University Air Sqn.

xx Sep 1939: Attended RAF College Cranwell.

3 Oct 1939: Appointedto a Direct Entry Commission in the RAFVR.

xx xxx 1940: Attended School of Army Co-operation.

xx Jun 1940: Attended No 5 OTU.

xx xxx 1940: Pilot, No 26 Sqn.

xx xxx 1940: Pilot, No 264 Sqn. (Defiants)

xx xxx 1941: ?

xx Jul 1942: Flight Commander, No 125 Sqn.

19 Dec 1942: Flight Commander, No 600 (City of London) Sqn.

xx xxx 1943: Air Staff, HQ Fighter Command.

20 Jan 1944: Air Staff, HQ No 85 Group, 2nd TAF.

xx Jul 1944: Officer Commanding, No 604 (County of Middlesex) Sqn.

7 May 1945: Air Staff, HQ Fighter Command.

2 Apr 1946: Appointed to Permanent Commission in the rank of Flight Lieutenant (retaining
rank current at the time). [effective 1 Sep 1945 antedated to 1 Dec 1942 on 25 Feb 1947]

xx xxx 1956: Served in Fighter Command.

xx xxx 1954: Directing Staff, RAF Staff College, Bracknell.

xx xxx 1956: PSO to Chief of the Air Staff.

xx xxx 1959: Officer Commanding, RAF Geilenkirchen.

22 Aug 1961: Staff Officer, Department of the CAS.

21 Jan 1963: Director of Air Staff Plans

30 Sep 1963: Appointed ADC to The Queen.

12 Sep 1966: AOA, HQ Flying Training Command.

1 Oct 1968: AOC, No 18 Group/Air Officer, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

xx xxx xxxx: Commander, Northern Maritime Air Region

9 Mar 1970: AOC & Commandant, RAF College.

14 Oct 1972: SASO, HQ Near East Air Force.

Born in Belfast, he lived in Donaglidee in County Down. He joined Cambridge UAS whilst a Law
undergraduate at Pembroke College and was called up on the outbreak of war in September 1939.
Having attended the first war course at Cranwell, he completed his flying training at the School of
Army Co-operation before being posted to No 26 Squadron. However, the need for more fighter
pilots during the Battle of Britain led to him volunteering and he was posted to No 264 Squadron
flying the new Defiant. Surviving the disastrous daylight operations of the Defiants, he went on to
become a successful night fighter pilot. On 11 August 1943 he and his Radar Operator, Laurie Dixon,
managing to destroy three Ju88's during one sortie. In 1944, he was appointed to command No 604
squadron operating as part of the AEAF and again he took Laurie Dixon with him as his Radar
Operator. By the end of the war he had been credited with 18 confirmed victories, one shared, one
probable and one damaged.

In 1982, he was made Honorary Air Commodore of No 2503 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force
Regiment and in 1983, became Deputy Lieutenant of Lincoln.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross and Distinguished Flying Medal.

“Flying Officer Frederick Desmond HUGHES (74706), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No.264

967911 Sergeant Fred GASH, No.264 Squadron.

Flying Officer Hughes and Sergeant Gash as pilot and air gunner respectively have participated in
numerous engagements against the enemy, both by day and night. During these flights four enemy
aircraft have been destroyed, of which two were shot down at night.”

(London Gazette – 18 April 1941)

Citation for the award of the Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross.

"Acting Squadron Leader Frederick Desmond HUGHES, D.F.C. (74706), Royal Air Force
Volunteer Reserve, No. 600 Squadron.

Distinguished Flying Cross.

Flying Officer Lawrence DIXON (116698), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 600

As pilot and observer respectively, Squadron Leader Hughes and Flying Officer Dixon have
flown together on many night sorties in operations in North Africa. During these flights they
have destroyed 3 enemy aircraft. Squadron Leader Hughes and Flying Officer Dixon have
displayed great skill and keenness, setting a praiseworthy example."

(London Gazette – 13 April 1943)

Citation for the award of the Second Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross.

“Acting Squadron Leader Frederick Desmond HUGHES, D.F.C. (74706), Royal Air Force Volunteer
Reserve, No.600 Squadron.

Squadron Leader Hughes is a brilliant night fighter whose determined efforts have met with further
successes. Since being awarded a bar to 'the Distinguished Flying Cross he has destroyed 7 enemy
aircraft. His total victories number at least 16,of which 13 have been destroyed at night. Squadron
Leader Hughes is a highly efficient flight commander and his meritorious, work has been reflected in
the efforts of his flight which has earned notable successes.”
RAF auxiliary officer, Flt. James R. ‘Jimmy’ Salandin, MBE
Jimmy Salandin was a respected man and was one of the finest pilots of No. 604 County
of Middlesex Squadron and was prior to flying Meteors and Vampires, "Jimmy"
Salandin gained more than 1800 flying hours experience in a number of other aircraft,
including 300 hours in a Spitfire Mk XVI.

Unfortunately Salandin got more fame for his UFO sighting, instead of his honourable WWII
battles. He was awarded with MBE ‘’The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (often
shortened to "Order of the British Empire") is the most junior and most populous order of chivalry in
the British and other Commonwealth honours systems’’

Churchill and Eisenhower 'agreed to cover up RAF plane's UFO encounter

during WWII'

Flight Lt. J.R. Salandin of the 604th Fighter Squadron, RAF, flying a Meteor twin-jet fighter out
aircraft of North Weald, Essex, UK, on October 14, 1954, nearly collided head-on with a huge,
metallic appearing object. The UFO was shaped like two saucers pressed together, one inverted on
top of the other. At the last second, it flipped to one side and streaked past at tremendous speed.
Two round UFOs had been sighted speeding between two other Meteor jets in the vicinity just
before Lt. Salandin's sighting.

On October 14, 1954, Flight-Lieutenant James R. Salandin, flying a Meteor twin-jet fighter
plane, narrowly avoided collision with an unidentified flying object over Southend-on-Sea,

What happened was told to Derek Dempster, the then editor of Flying Saucer Review, and
the story appeared in the very first issue of the magazine. (Derek Dempster was himself an
ex-RAF pilot and knew how pilots value their professional reputation. Sensation seeking is
not their style.)

Jimmy Salandin was one of the 'weekend' pilots of No. 604 County of Middlesex Squadron,
Royal Auxiliary Air Force. He had reported for duty at North Weald, Essex, on the afternoon
of 4 October, and at 4.15 p.m. took off in his Meteor Mark 8 jet. Climbing southwards into a
blue and cloudless sky he soon observed two other Meteors flying in formation high above
him and leaving long vapor trails. Flight-Lieutenant Salandin watched the passage of the two
aircraft while occasionally checking his instruments.

He had reached 16,000 feet (4880 meters) over the outlying districts of Southend, when to his
surprise he saw two circular objects, traveling in the opposite direction to the Meteors, hurtle
between them. One of the objects was silvery in color, the other gold. Salandin watched them
until they disappeared, at the '9 o'clock high' position-to his port, or left, side.

After checking his own instruments he turned his gaze to the air in front of him. His surprise
turned to horror - for he saw a silvery object streaking straight towards him. For a few split
seconds he saw a thing that "had a bun-shaped top, a flange like two saucers in the middle,
and a bun underneath... it could not have been far off because it overlapped the windscreen."
(Derek Dempster noted that Meteor's 37 foot [11 meters] wing span just fills the windscreen
at 150 yards [140 meters].) The flying saucer, which was traveling at tremendous speed,
avoided a head-on collision at the very last second by suddenly swerving off past the jet on
its port side. Badly shaken, the Flight-Lieutenant flew around quietly for 10 minutes or so to
regain his composure, and reported his experience to ground control. He was annoyed, too,
when he realized later that his camera - standard equipment on combat aircraft - had been
loaded all the time. With everything happening so quickly he didn't have time to press the
button. A valuable opportunity to gather evidence for ufology had been missed.
Source for the above information: London Illustrated News, December 2, 1954,
and RAF Flying Review, July 1957, and Richard Hall, NICAP.
True Magazine, 1967:

An RAF pilot encountered a UFO October 14, 1954. Flight Lt. J. R. Salandin of the 604th Fighter
Squadron, flying a Meteor jet out of North Weald, Essex, nearly collided head-on with a huge,
metallic-appearing object. The UFO was shaped like two saucers pressed together, one inverted on
top of the other. At the last second, it flipped to one side and streaked past a tremendous speed.
Two round UFO's had been sighted speeding between two other Meteor jets in the vicinity just
before Lt. Salandin's sighting.

Note: there was an error about the date in the original Flying Saucer Review article, which was
corrected in the next articles, except in the TRUE Magazine article which still had the wrong date
in its 1967 paragraph about the case. The wrong date is October 4, the correct date is October 14.
Timothy Good interviewed Flight Lieutenant James R. Salandin in 1985 On
14 October 1954 Flight Lieutenant Salandin, of No. 604, County of Middlesex
Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, took off at 4:15 p.m. from his base at RAF
North Weald in Essex,in a Meteor Mk 8. The weather was perfect:

Flight Lieutenant Salandin told him:

"When I was at about 16,000 feet I saw a whole lot of contrails-possibly at 30-40,000 feet-over the
North Foreland. Through the middle of the trails I saw three objects which I thought were airplanes,
but they weren't trailing. They came down through the middle of that toward Southend and then
headed toward me."

"When they got to within a certain distance two of them went off to my port side-one gold and one
silver-and the third object came straight toward me and closed to within a few hundred yards,
almost filling the windscreen, then it went off toward my port side. I tried to turn round to follow,
but it had gone."

It was saucer-shaped with a bun on top and a bun underneath, and was silvery and metallic.
There were no portholes, flames, or anything.

The third object could not have been far away because it nearly overlapped the windscreen
(the original story claimed that it actually overlapped the windscreen). A Meteor's 37-feet
wingspan just fills the windscreen at 150 yards.

Salandin immediately reported the sighting by radio to North Weald. After landing he related
further details to Derek Dempster, 604 Squadron's intelligence officer, who was fortuitously
to become the first editor of Flying Saucer Review in 1955. The report was sent to the Air
Ministry but nothing further was heard about it. Had it not been for Derek Dempster the story
might never have come to light.

Derek has told Tim Good that he is absolutely convinced of Salandin's sincerity, having
known him well as a fellow pilot in 604 Squadron. Salandin explained that prior to flying
Meteors and Vampires, he gained experience in a number of other aircraft, including the
SPITFIRE MK XVI (an aircraft that flew long after WWII). Salandin only regretted that
there was not sufficient time to trigger the gun-camera button. But his memory of the sighting
remains vivid. "I haven't found a satisfactory explanation for what I saw," he told, "but I
know what I saw."
The current editor of Flying Saucer Review is the former diplomat and intelligence officer
Gordon Creighton, who relates an intriguing sequel to the affair. Following a talk that Gordon
had given to the House of Lords All-Party UFO Study Group in November 1983, he
happened to broach the subject with a complete stranger whom he met on the train journey
home. The Salandin case was brought up in the course of conversation, and the stranger
turned out to be a former member of 604 Squadron. Gordon told him that FSR had
investigated and published the case in its first issue, and asked if by chance he had ever heard
of the magazine. "Oh, yes!" he replied. "We knew all about Flying Saucer Review. You were
the people that we were always warned that we must keep away from."

UFO reconstruction shown in front of the Cunningham became a household name in England after
shooting down three HE 111s in one night

plane windscreen
F/Lt. Jeremy Napier Howard-Williams D.F.C. (March 1922 – September 1995
Williams was a night-fighter pilot in the Second World War He joined In 1940, the Local
Defence Volunteers, fore-runners of the Home Guard, before volunteering for the RAF. In
September 1941, he became a Pilot Officer, serving in No. 604 Squadron, known as the night
fighter squadron, based at Middle Wallop, under the command of Group Captain John "Cat's
Eyes" Cunningham, flying Bristol Beaufighters.

After a tour of operations with the squadron, he joined the Fighter Interception Unit, which
made use of the RAF’s early experiments with radar, testing the products of the electronic
laboratories in combat. In the development unit, he flew in British (Mosquito and Tempest),
American (Black Widow), and captured German (Messerschmitt Me 410) aircraft and used
all types of airborne radar.

He achieved the rank of Flight Lieutenant, although he acted as Squadron Leader. At the
end of the war he was awarded the DFC, Distinguished Flying Cross for gallantry. The
citation read:

This officer has completed a very large number of sorties and throughout has set a fine
example of keenness and devotion to duty. He has shot down at least two enemy aircraft,
whilst in attacks on targets on the ground he has most effectively attacked numerous
locomotives and mechanical vehicles. His resolute work has won great praise. After the war
he served in Singapore, Germany and finally as Assistant Air Attaché to the British Embassy
in Paris.

After the war he served in Singapore. Germany and finally as Assistant Air Attaché to the
British Embassy in Paris. A keen sportsman all his life, and went on to publish the classic
account of the sail-maker’s art.
Sails was published in 1967 and has remained in print ever since; it went through six
editions and was translated into as many languages. The book, illustrated by drawings and
photographs. detailed not only how sails and spars work but also how to extract the most
speed from them.

The son of an RAF officer, Jeremy Napier Howard - Williams was born on March 13 1922
and educated at Hordle House preparatory school. He recalled a remarkable cricket match at
the school when, after dismissing the opposition for four, the Hurdle House opening bat hit a
six off the first and only ball of the innings.

Howard-Williams went on to Felsted and the Institut de Touraine at Tours. In 1940. when
he was 18, he joined the Local Defence Volunteers, precursors of the Home Guard, before
volunteering for the RAF.

In 1941 he served in No 604, the night-fighter squadron commanded by the redoubtable

Cat’s Eyes’ -Cunningham. Then, rather than take the usual rest from active service, Howard-
Williams joined the Fighter Interception Unit, which made use of the RAF’s early
experiments with radar. He was awarded the DFC.

After the war he served in Singapore. Germany and finally as Assistant Air Attaché to the
British Embassy in Paris. A keen sportsman all his life, he sailed and played hockey for the

On leaving the RAF Howard-Williams returned to Cowes to work for the sail-makers
Ratsev & Lapthorn. a job from whom he gained much of the material for his books. Teach
Your Child About Sailing was published in 1963.

During this period he used to race a Dragon at Cowes. A poor swimmer, he invented the
first all-in-one sailing jacket. It incorporated several safety features – buoyancy, harness,
whistle and rocket pouch – which have since become standard. His Solent tide calculator,
which gives the currents at any time of day, also proved popular.

Howard-Williams followed Sails with more nautical books, and in 1974 was appointed
managing editor of Adlard Coles, his publishing house, where he remained for eight years.
His own books included Night Intruder (1976), about his wartime experiences, and The
Complete Crossword Companion, now in its fourth edition.

Jeremy Howard-Williams married, in 1951, Jill Inglis. daughter of Air Vice-Marshal Frank
Inglis, who was assistant chief of the Air Staff for Intelligence during the Second World War
they had two sons and a daughter.
F/O Donald Fraiser Wilson 1916 – 1996
Donald Fraser Wilson was born in Wairoa, New Zealand on 27th August 1916 and worked as
a costing clerk in Wellington. In June 1938 he applied for an RAF short service commission
and he was provisionally accepted. He sailed for the UK on 16th December in
RMS Rangitata.

On 23rd January 1939 Wilson began his training at 13 E&RFTS White Waltham. He was
posted to 13 FTS Drem on 15th April and after completing the course he joined the newly-
formed 141 Squadron, operating Defiants, on 21st October.

Wilson served with the squadron throughout the Battle of Britain. He received a Mention in
Despatches (gazetted 17th March 1941).

On 5th May 1941 he damaged a He111 at night over Glasgow. Wilson was posted to
command 1451 Flight at Hunsdon on 1st January 1942, a Turbinlite Havoc unit.

In early June 1942 Wilson was posted to the Air Ministry as a Deputy Technical Officer. He
was there until 30th June 1943, going then to 62 OTU as an instructor. Wilson transferred to
the RNZAF on 1st January 1944 and moved to 51 OTU Bedford on 28th March for a
refresher course on night Beaufighters.

He joined 219 Squadron at Bradwell Bay on 7th June but was moved to 277 (ASR) Squadron
on 20th July. Wilson was appointed Deputy Director of the School of Air-Sea Rescue at 19
Group on 1st February 1945.

Wilson was posted away for repatriation to New Zealand on 13th January 1947. Later in the
year he relinquished his RNZAF commission and rejoined the RAF. He retired on 1st April
1958 as a Squadron Leader OBE.
S/Ldr. Andrew (Andy) Deytrikh

The new year opened with a whimper and not a bang. Much of January was taken up with
interviewing prospective officers and airmen for posts within the Squadron. A number
officers, warrant officers and NCOs were interviewed for pilot vacancies and the posts of
Administration, Engineering and Equipment Officer by Squadron Leader Cunningham,
Flight 12 Jack Meadows, who flew Spitfire 16s post. War as an Auxiliary officer does not
recall the rear fuselage tank ever being used. 202 Lieutenants Lofts and Coltart and Flying
Officer Rawnsley. Two, Messrs Gilbert and Deytrikh, are recorded as being accepted for
officer flying duties. The interviews were conducted at Hendon and at THQ. By the end of
February well over 100 applications had been received for pilot vacancies,
but only a handful made it.

During February, the Squadron was advised there were two possible airfields that might
besuitable as bases for 604. Looking towards the future and jet flying, both locations,
NorthWeald and Bovingdon, Hampshire, were permanent RAF stations with concrete
runways. The CO agreed both would prove suitable from the flying viewpoint. From the
point of view of travelling, however, they would be unacceptable because of the
distanceinvolved in conveying the Squadron personnel from North London, where they were
recruited and lived, to Essex or Hampshire. Nevertheless the CO did undertake an aerial
reconnaissance of both airfields.

The commissioning of pilots limited flying to a few officers until something was done to
speed up the process. For example Flight Lieutenant Lofts who was acting as OC „A‟ Flight
and was actively involved in therecruitment process, did not receive his commission until the
19thApril. To overcome the delay it was agreed to enlist the pilots as AC2s and promotethem
to the ranks specified when their records came through. To which,AC2 Goodman
(ex- Flight Lieutenant) Goodman was the first pilot to receive dual instruction on the
(Russels) Unresearched
Dennis Bryden Brown
This photo, via J Popelka, shows pilots of 131 (County of Kent) Sqn. Colin is 2nd from left in
the front row. He joined 131 Sqn at Westhampnet in December 1942, and when they went to
Scotland in January 1943, swopping with No 610 Sqn, he was granted permission to stay
behind & join No 610 Sqn.

Collin Hodgkinson who died aged 76, lost both his legs learning to fly, but, inspired by the
example of the legless fighter ace Douglas Bader, became an accomplished fighter pilot in
the RAF. Although he called himself "the poor man's Bader" Hodgkinson had no cause to
cast himself as an understudy. Such was his courage that he succeeded despite bouts of
claustrophobia and an admitted fear of flying and combat. He also had a horror of being
forced to ditch in the Channel and stuffed his hollow legs with ping-pong balls, hoping that
they would help to keep him afloat. Once, at 30,000 ft, he took violent evasive action before
realising that what he had taken to be a clatter of gunfire was the noise of ping-pongballs
exploding at that altitude. But his self-doubt was masked by the bluff, boisterous bonhomie
that characterised not only his wartime career as a fighter pilot but also his postwar success in
the competitive world of advertising and public relations. Hodgkinson was already beginning
to be talked about as "a second Bader" when he joined No 611 squadron in June 1943. He
flew Spitfires from Coltishall, Norfolk, under Wing-Commander "Laddie" Lucas, the hero of
the Battle of Malta. One August morning Hodgkinson was part of an escort to 36 American
B-26 bombers in an attack on Bernay airfield near Evreux, north-west of Paris. The wing was
turning for home when more than 50 FW 190s appeared up-sun. The Luftwaffe fighter pilots
fell upon the Spitfires. Lucas turned 611's Spitfires into the attack. There was a furious melee
in which the squadron fought all the way back to the coast. Hodgkinson, remembering his
father teaching him to shoot on the family's Somerset estate, shouted: "Swing with it" and.
making a well judged beam-into-quarter attack, picked off a 190 and sent it spinning
earthwards just as it.was fastening onto Lucas's tail. Lucas recalled: "It was an uncommonly
quick and accurate piece of shooting. Hodgkinson contributed handsomely to a total of five
190s destroyed against two Spit's. "In 12 rough and eventful minutes Hodgkinson had
demonstrated that, despite his massive disability, he could match his skills against the best
that General Adolf Galland and his JagdBeschwader 26 had to offer." It was Hodgkinson's
second "kill". Earlier he had shot down a FW 190 just off the end of Brighton pier. Colin
Gerald Shaw Hodgkinson was born at Wells, Somerset, on Feb. 11 1920. His father had been
awarded the MC and Bar as a Royal Flying Corps pilot in the First World War, and was to
serve as an intelligence wing-commander in the Second World War. Hodgkinson's earliest
memories of his father were of a powerful man in hunting pink. As he learned later, he was
an outstanding Master of Foxhounds with the Mendip, a big-game hunter and a fine shot.
Soon in the saddle himself, the squire's son followed his father's country pursuits until, being
judged difficult and unruly, he was condemned to the harsh discipline of a cadetship at the
Nautical College, Pangbourne. In the summer of 1938 Hodgkinson spent an idyllic holiday
riding with the French Cavalry School at Saumur, in the Loire, before being accepted for
pilot training as a midshipman in the Fleet Air Arm. After training aboard the aircraft carrier
Courageous, he had gone solo and completed 20 hours in a Tiger Moth biplane trainer when
he collided with another aircraft. At the time, acconipanied by his instructor, Hodgkinson was
practicing blind flying on instruments with a hood over his head. The Tiger crashed from
800ft at Gravesend, killing the instructor and so grievously injuring Hodgkinson that his legs
were amputated. During a long period in hospital he encountered Sir Archibald McIndoe who
invited him to his celebrated wartime RAF plastic surgery unit at the Queen Victoria
Hospital, East Grinstead, for some work on his face. Although he was a naval type,
Hodgkinson was welcomed into Mclndoe's Guinea Pig Club brotherhood of burned airmen.
Such was their spirit that he determined to emulate Bader and to fly again. He set his heart on
flying Spitfires and by the autumn of 1942 had wheedled his way out of the Navy and into the
RAF as a pilot officer. He was briefly with No.131, a Spitfire squadron before moving on in
the new year, successively to 610 and 510 squadrons. He learned his trade by flying sweeps
over occupied France. The following March he was promoted Flying officer and in June
joined 611, then in the famous Biggin Hill wing. After his August bomber escort exploit over
France, Hodgkinson returned to 501 as a flight commander. In November, during a high
altitude weather reconnaissance his oxygen supply failed, and he crashed into a French field.
Badly mangled and minus one of his tin legs he was rescued from the blazing Spitfire by two
farm workers. He was reunited with them in 1983, when they presented him with a part of his
aircraft's propeller. He had not seen them since being stretchered away en route for a prisoner
of war camp via a railway station where his guards abandoned him for some hours in a
lavatory while they sheltered from air-raids. After 10 months Flt-Lt Hodgkinson was
repatriated, being deemed of no further use to his country. Yet such was his irrepressible
spirit, that after being mended again by McIndoe, he resumed flying, ending the war with a
ferry unit at Filton, Bristol. This gave him, as he was to admit, the opportunity of indulging in
some pocket-money smuggling, trading such "contraband" as nylons, utility cloth, tea and
coffee for cases of brandy among other "imports". Once, he said, he carried gold in his tin
legs. Although he was released from the service in 1946 Hodgkinson returned in 1949 as a
weekend flyer. He became a jet pilot and flew Vampires with 501 and 604 squadrons of the
Royal Auxiliary Air Force until the early 1950s. Civilian life presented fresh challenges, and
he plunged enthusiastically into the postwar regeneration of advertising and public relations.
From the agency Erwin Wasey he moved into PR, learned the ropes and broke away to
establish Colin Hodgkinson Associates. With the drive and presson spirit he carried over
from fighter days, Hodgkinson prospered, and attracted a mix of prestigious and solid
industrial accounts. He also tried politics, standing as a Conservative in the safe Labour seat
of South West Islington in the 1955 general election. He made an impressive debut and
rediscovered his youthful boxing skills in a punch-up with Labour supporters. Articulate and
a fluent writer, Hodgkinson was briefly air correspondent with the fledgling ITN. In 1957 he
published "Best Foot Forward", an entertaining account of his life until then.

In 1986 he moved permanently to his holiday home in the Dordogne. He married first June
Hunter, a former fashion model. After her death he married Georgina, a Frenchwoman, who
survives him. Acknowledgements to the Daily Telegraph, London.

Frank Hodgkinson After service as an official World War II artist, Frank Hodgkinson left
Australia in 1947 to study and travel throughout Europe. During this period he took some
lessons at S.W. Hayter's Atelier 17 in Paris. He returned to Sydney in 1953. Then, after
winning the inaugural Helena Rubinstein Scholarship in 1958, he took up residence in Spain;
John Olsen was living nearby. On a number of occasions in the 1960s Hodgkinson returned
to Australia for exhibitions. During a trip to Perth in 1969 he was invited to travel through the
north-west of the state. The journey reawakened his need for the Australian landscape and
resulted in his relocation to Queensland at the end of 1970.In 1971 Hodgkinson welcomed
Clifton Pugh's invitation to visit him at 'Dunmoochin'. He joined Pugh and John Olsen at this
artists' colony on the outskirts of Melbourne at Cottles Bridge. Pugh, who had recently
returned from S.W. Hayter's school, was keen to experiment with the oil viscosity etching
process, and his enthusiasm proved to be a major stimulus for Hodgkinson's printmaking.
Within a short period he produced two suites of prints, Inside the Landscape and Landscape
Inside, and, jointly with Pugh, a book of prints and the poems of Harry Roschenko, titled IS.
In his figurative landscapes, time-worn lines become rich and sensuous - full of colour and
texture in a joyous celebration of female and landscape forms. At the end of 1971
Hodgkinson left the artists' colony to visit the Australian outback which has continued to
fascinate him and stimulate his work.
Flight Lieutenant Charles’’Charlie‟ Zorab (Equipment)
F/Lt, Medical Officer, Dr. D.W.Coltart

September 1936 was a month of departures for 604. On the 7th the three Avro
504N ab into training aircraft were replaced by a similar number of Avro
Tutors. On the personnel front, four of the Squadron‟s long-time officers,
Flight Lieutenants Gibbon, Thomas and Cherry and Flying Officer Rendle
completed their terms of service and relinquished their commissions, with
Flight Lieutenants Gibbon and Cherry and Flying Officer Lawton transferring to
the AAF Reserve of Officers. In compensation Messr‟s P.C.Lawton and J.D.St
Clair Olliff-Lee were granted commissions as Pilot Officers, AAF, and the
Squadron gained its first medical officer (MO), Dr W.D.Coltart, MB, BSc,
FRCS, LRCP, in the rank of Flying Officer. His impressive collections of
professional qualifications and awards, particularly his Fellowship of the Royal
College of Surgeons, must have been a great confidence to the Squadron
members who might be in need of his services.
Squadron Leader J. Simpson Smith – MBE - DFC

In September the Squadron learned it was to convert to the de Havilland Vampire after
participating in the annual Battle of Britain Display at BigginHill in company with Nos.600,
601 and 605 Squadrons, during which Squadron Leader Lofts and Flying Officer Hodgkinson
flew the last solo performance in the Spitfire on the 6th. The aircraft establishment was to
comprise ten Vampire F.3s and two Meteor T.7s, in addition to the three Harvards for initial
flying training.

The replacement of a section of the new runway at North Weald necessitated the delivery of
the Meteors to West Malling where the conversion of Nos.601 and 604 Squadrons was to
begin from 1st October. Over the weekend of the 8/9Th October, the Squadron formally bade
farewell to their old Adjutant, the now Squadron Leader J.Simpson Smith, MBE, DFC, at an
official party.
Flying Officer Hodsman Michael hodsman

Two more pilots were added to the flying roster with the commissioning of
Flying Officers Gilbert and Russell in June and Flying Officer Hodsman.
Unresearched – Plumer means "armourer",
ergo a Flt lt Armourments Officer.

(Hartley) Unresearched

Macdonald Unresearched
Hartley Unresearched