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Thread: No.104 Squadron ditching, April 1945

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    Default No.104 Squadron ditching, April 1945

    Wing Commander Cameron Frederick Mervyn-Jones, DFC, was awarded the DSO, 12 June 1945, for an event with No.104 Squadron. The citation below is rather sparse, but I have a longer account as told by one of the crew. Can anyone provide the date of this ditching, aircraft serial/letter and names of crewmen other than F/O Cecil Mohns (bomb aimer) and WO George Arnott (navigator) ?

    "Wing Commander Mervyn-Jones has completed two tours of operational duty which have been distinguished by his enthusiasm and skill as a pilot and his ability to imbue those serving under him with his own fine fighting spirit. In April 1945, after a successful attack on the heavily defended railway sidings at Budapest, this officer's aircraft was badly damaged. Flying with great skill and shaking off an attack by an enemy fighter, he crossed the coast of Yugoslavia and, with his tanks almost dry, he was forced down on to the sea, but was rescued the same day. A commander of resource, ability and courage, this officer has materially contributed to the successes attained by his squadron."

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    Hugh
    Take a look at this old thread:
    http://www.rafcommands.com/dcforum/DCForumID6/6339.html#1

    Mikkel
    Britain's Victory, Denmark's Freedom. Danish Volunteers in Allied Air Forces During the Second World War
    fb.me/britainsvictorydenmarksfreedom
    danishww2pilots.dk - a resource on Danish aircrew during the Second World War

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    This is the oddest thing. Retrieving notes from an old archive, I note that the incident was in April 1944 (not 1945) as per the following:

    Wellington LP177 B - 12/13 April 1944 - Target, Ferencvaros Marshalling Yards, Budapest. Crew was S/L C. Mervyn-Jones, DFC, FS G.E. Arnott (RCAF), P/O J. Hardy, F/O C.F. Mohns (RCAF), P/O D.F. Tester, DFM. Ditched in the Adriatic off Yugoslavia after flak damage and sank. Aircraft bounced once, then dug in. Starboard wing dinghy inflated. Mervyn-Jones and front gunner paddled to retrieve two others from wing and then to tail to retrieve rear gunner (Tester) who was sitting on tailplane but missed dinghy when he dropped off and had to be hauled aboard.

    What makes it odd is that the Air Ministry Bulletin gave a date of April 1945 (this is also prnted in Flight Archive, 19 July 1945) and the DSO is also a year after the incident described. Of course the 1944 date makes sense, given that the target was Budapest and that city had surrendered unconditionally to the Russians in February 1945. So somebody in the chain of command (somewhere between the squadron and Air Ministry) was tardy in processing a DSO - and then got the date wrong !

    I shall post the account of C.F. Mohn after supper.

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    For Mohns read C F Mohs RCAF, known as 'Eski' Mohs, and for 104 Squadron read 40 Squadron. I had accounts of the ditching from him, Cameron Mervyn-Jones, and George Arnott when researching the 40 Squadron history.

    David

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    "Mohs" it is. I note that Cecil Francis Mohs died in Edmonton, Alberta some time in 1991. May I assume this is the man featured in the story below ? Can a specific date be obtained ?

    The text below is transcribed as found, although I think that at least one phrase is incorrect - "Using the emergency tank, which did fail them" should, I believe, read "Using the emergency tank, which did not fail them". The reference near the end of the story to the torpedoing appears to relate to the SS Amerika, lost with great loss of life on 22 April 1943.

    Further to accounts of the ditching of 12/13 April 1944, the following is a draft of an RCAF press release (date uncertain but context puts it in the last week of April 1944):

    Allied Bomber Base in Italy. It was really a fine kettle of fish when the crew of an RAF Wellington bomber, including two Canadians, found themselves over the target - Budapestt railway yards - with the flak coming up all around and their gas gauges mysteriously pointing to “empty”.

    Flying Officer Cecil Mohs, rotund RCAF bombardier, of 11615-85th Street, Edmonton, had let his sticks of 500-pounders and 250's straddle the yards and the crew was in high spirits over the big fire that sprang up in the night where some of the bombs burst. Then, as the bomber swung away from the target, he made his usual check of the gas gauges.

    Mild-voiced, short, 190-pound F/O Mohs, who is one of the favorite subjects for good-humored joshing and joking on the squadron, opened his eyes wide at the side of the indicators.

    “Oh, oh”, he said gently into the intercommunication phone. “Say, skipper, looks as if we’re out of petrol.”

    Normally you’d expect a certain amount of panic and alarm. There was none. They’d had difficulty on the way to Budapest when both engines cut, but the skipper, Squadron Leader Mervyn Jones, DFC, an RAF flight commander doing his second tour, had kept her flying and they continued on to do their bombing.

    Now the skipper said in a calm voice that they might have to bale out but he’d keep on flying in case it was simply the gauges that had gone haywire. He instructed Mohn to cut in an emergency tank that would provide enough gas to last about an hour. The crew got set for anything. The other Canadian in it was Warrant Officer George Arnott, navigator, of Elk Point, Alberta.

    Using the emergency tank, which did fail them, they crew headed for base, more than three hours flying away. They knew they couldn’t get home.

    On the way back the port engine cut once and then the starboard, but both times Squadron Leader Jones nursed the kite along. They crossed the Yugoslav coast and a few minutes later they knew their gas was about done. The skipper told his crew that he was going to “ditch”, bring her down in the water.

    The bomber sank within 45 seconds but the crew made their exit and all were in their rubber dinghy in about ten seconds, before the self-inflating raft was fully blown up. An RAF Liberator passed overhead and Warrant Officer Arnett fired a Verey pistol. The Liberator got the signal and proceeded on its way.

    It was still dark, about 3.45 a.m. The five sat in the dinghy, groused about the fact that they had just paid their mess bills and worried audibly about whether the others on the squadron would raid their hoard of fresh eggs. They couldn’t solve the mystery of the suddenly empty gas tanks.

    The sun rose behind a mountainous island off the Yugoslav coast and when by 9.a.m., no rescuing aircraft appeared, they started to paddle toward it, believing that part of it was German-occupied but that Partisan guerrillas were there also. They figured they could tie in with the Partisans.

    They paddled for a couple of hours when on the horizon appeared two single-engine aircraft. At first there was dismay because they seemed like enemy fighters. Their dismay turned to delight as the fighters swept in close and turned out to be RAF Spitfires. The Spits dived down and beat up the five Wimp boys and immediately all was hilarity. The bomber crew promptly laid down their paddles and waited for the help they knew was coming. They opened one of their precious containers of water and used it to bathe a bruise Flying Officer Mohs had on his forehead, received when he fell as he rushed to switch on the emergency tank. The Spitfires circled overhead as fighter cover.

    Soon, of all things, an Italian seaplane arrived, set down on the water beside them and took them aboard. On the way back to the Italian base, Mohs had time to think of the date. It was almost exactly a year ago - toward the end of April - that he was on a small ship that was torpedoed in the Atlantic. Of 35 persons, including a woman who got into one lifeboat, he was the only one who lived. As the Italian seaplane approached its base, one of the crew fired its machine gun, a signal that all those picked up were alive.

    Flying Officer Mohs mentioned to his crewmates that a year ago in April he’d had another close one. “Next April”, he said,”I’m gonna stay in bed.”
    Last edited by HughAHalliday; 14th August 2011 at 03:29.

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    Hugh,

    I met Eski Mohs in Toronto in 1988, but maybe he shifted to Edmonton, or perhaps he was visiting George Arnott, who lived there, and who hosted a small 40 Sqn reunion in his basement. Or again, it maybe he was there for George's funeral (George was in the early stages of dementia at the time of the reunion). Eski told me about the ordeal in the lifeboat of the Amerika. The crew of the vessel which came across the boat was in the process of reporting that all the occupants had died of exposure when Eski had just enough strength to call out that he was still alive. He credited his survival to the very considerable layer of fat which he always carried!

    David

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