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Thread: Help with information on PO Charles Willard Gomm, 32 Squadron died July 8, 1942

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    Default Help with information on PO Charles Willard Gomm, 32 Squadron died July 8, 1942

    My uncle Pilot Officer Charles Willard Gomm was a Canadian who died during operations with No. 32 (Fighter) RAF flying out of Friston or West Malling.
    The telegram received by my grandmother said that he died of shock and exposure following injuries sustained in air operations on July 8th, 1942.

    His RAF logbook shows he flew Hurricane 5256 (or S256) with the Duty entered as "G.C.I with Havoc". I know Havocs flew out of West Malling with 1452 Flight and I think the GCI means ground control intercept.
    Charles flew mostly night fighters including Boulton Paul Defiants, Blenheims and then the Hurricane.

    His story is rather interesting as he travelled from Singapore to Cairo, Paris then New York and then Home to New Westminster to volunteer.

    My father served with the Canadian Army in England and Europe and lost this brother and another in the Phillipines. At 90 he wishes to know more about the action resulting in the death of his brother Charles.

    Thanks in advance for any information or leads.

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    Hi,

    The full Hurricane serial was Z5256.

    The Court of Inquiry found that the cause of the accident was obscure. THe aircraft dived into the sea at an angle of 40 to 45 degrees.

    The accident occurred 55 mins into the flight.

    Location is listed as into the Channel off Dungeness.

    Regards
    Ross
    The Intellectual Property contained in this message has been assigned specifically to this web site.
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    Thanks Ross,

    I expected something like that. I wonder what happened to the Havoc he was flying with and if this was a day or night flight?

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    You mentioned Court of Inquiry too. Do you know if there is a Form 412 for this one?

    Thanks again.

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    Hi DG,

    Have you requested his service file from the Canadian national archives? The F412 may well be included in that service file pack. You shoudl order that service regardless as there willl likely be copies of letters he wrote, it will be well worth your while getting it.

    http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/022/022-909.007-e.html

    unrelated but can you advise the name of the uncle you said was lost in the Phillipines? Was he with the Canadian Navy or another service?

    Best regards, Dennis
    Last edited by dennis_burke; 29th October 2012 at 15:24.
    Dennis Burke
    - Dublin

    Foreign Aircrew and Aircraft Ireland 1939-1945
    www.ww2irishaviation.com

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    Thanks Dennis, I will try that.

    The other brother, Albert B. Gomm was with Boyles Bros Drilling Co. in Manila when the Japanese invaded. I found records that showed he joined the US Army. I don't have records of what camp he was sent to but he was sent to Bilibid Prison and put on the Arisan Maru that was sunk in the Bashi Straits, South China Sea on October 24, 1944. Naval records indicate that the USS Shark II (SS 314) attacked a Japanese freighter in the late afternoon of October 24, 1944. The USS Shark was lost with all 87 hands in that same action and is believed to have torpedoed the Arisan. The Arisan carried no markings or flag indicating that it was carrying Allied prisoners. This was pretty common Japanese practice you can find in a google search of "Hell Ships". It was an eye opener to read of these.

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    Thanks DG, very tragic story indeed.

    nara.gov have a transcribed set of records on WW2 POW's and the version transcribed on ancestry.com includes the following:


    Name: Albert B Gomm
    Race:White
    Report Date: 16 Oct 1943
    Latest Report Date: 24 Oct 1944
    Grade: Civilian
    Service Branch: Civilian
    Arm or Service: Army Transport Service
    Area Served: Southwest Pacific Theatre: Philippine Islands
    Detaining Country: Japan
    Camp: Philippines Unstated Philippines 14-121
    Status: Executed, Died in Ship's Sinking or Result of Ship Sinking, Shot While Attempting Escape
    POW Transport Ship: October Sinking: Arisan Maru, 24 October 1944
    Report Source: Individual has been reported through sources considered official


    I don't know what else the US Archives might have on him in this case.

    Ancestry.com have a shipping manifest I think that might be him, arriving in California:
    Albert Benjamin Gomm
    Date: 2 Feb 1939
    Born: abt 1909
    Male
    Sailing from: Hong Kong, China
    ON Vessel:President Cleveland

    Occupation Diamond setter, born Coal Creek BC? Is that him? Email me at dp_burke@yahoo.com and I can send you a copy
    Last edited by dennis_burke; 29th October 2012 at 22:39.
    Dennis Burke
    - Dublin

    Foreign Aircrew and Aircraft Ireland 1939-1945
    www.ww2irishaviation.com

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    Good man, Dennis.

    DG, given the age of your father it "may" be in your interest to advise Library and Archives Canada of his age when you apply for P/O Gomm's service records.

    A casual perusal of this site will tell you, as will the LAC's own site, that there is currently a six month wait for files. At age 90, six months can be an eternity.

    Here is the direct link to your uncle's service file:

    http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/war-dead/001056-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=13374&interval=20&&PHPSESSID=l9um97r fee9qcoee6bqn0og0l1

    Follow the directions under "How to consult a file or order a copy" and let them know why you are doing this.

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Thanks Dennis, yes the reference in Feb/39 is correct. He was coming home from the from the Far East and then went back to Manila, just in time for the Japanese invasion as I understand it.

    Thanks also, Dave. I did previously find that link in the National Archives for Charles Gomm and that's one of the reasons I posted here hoping for information that might be more readily available to others. My father may not have 6 months and that's why I was persuing what I can get right now. It's a process of getting his memoirs down too while I still can.

    I also found an original painting done by R. Maddocks dated, 1942 depicting a Boulton Paul Defiant firing into a flaming Heinkel from below at night. I have no idea who he was or what connection he had to my uncle. If anybody has any ideas who he might be? My uncle did fly Defiants so maybe it's another pilot or gunner not listed in his Logbook.

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    Default Hello Baddog, I have lost one of my playmates, Cricket 30, I think

    DGCanuck,

    Given your dad's age I arranged to have your uncle's service file pulled in Ottawa via a paid researcher I use there.

    There is an awful lot of information. I will post the highlights here but ask that you PM me your email address and I will send you the documents which were photographed on my behalf. This way you can print them and your dad can read them.

    A few things immediately jump out. Your uncle had a grand total of 16 hours on Hurricanes (5 on Hurricane Is and 11 on Hurricane IIs at the time of death. 17 hours on Defiants.

    There is a three page transcript of R/T logs from Senior Signals Officer, RAF Station West Malling, RAF Station Willesborough" entitled "True Copy of R/T Log between hours of 1626 and 1700 concerning Upton 37, Upton 34 and Cricket 30 aircraft 8 July 1942"

    In the accident report there are statements from several witnesses. No 1 witness was F/O Stuart Law:

    "On the 8th July 1942 I was flying No 3 to Upton 37 at 8,000 ft when I noticed Pilot Officer Gomm lagging behind. Telling Upton 37 I would go investigate I proceeded after him at about 360 mph and noticed he was diving straight for the sea. I then lost sight of him and patrolled he area for about half an hour but saw no further trace."

    Remaining RAF witnesses are a F/Lt from 1452 Flight, West Malling who describes the GCI exercise that day; a fellow 32 Sqn pilot who tells of flying the kite in question on two previous occasions and that "it handled perfectly and all anciliary controls were in perfect condition".

    The last three statements are from the skipper and two seamen from the trawler which located your uncle floating in the water. The skipper states they were returning to Dover from patrol when at 1715 one of his men spotted the aircraft coming down. Location of crash is given as "5 miles NNE Dungeness". Upon arriving your uncle was observed floating with his head under water. His Mae West was damaged and he was knocked out but bore head injuries. His men stated that they saw the a/c enter the water at 40-45 degrees, no engine running and sank immediately. They go on to say that it appeared the Hurricane wa making its way towrds the when it crashed.

    The COI did not accept the 40-45 degree angle they say she hit the water stating that there was no way he would have survived the impact. Cause of death was exposure. Other findings and recommendations include the no parachute or dinghy used, no indication of engine failure, no evidence of R/T failure - point made that the weather conditions were good so even if there had been R/T failure he could have found his way home. If there had been engine failure "he was a safe height (8,000 ft) to bale out or pancake land near a ship."

    Completely unrelated to the events just described but connected to Dennis' info about your uncle Albert. On enlisting in the RCAF on 29 January 1941, Charles gave his place of employment (1934 onwards) as Boyle Brothers in Vancouver. Diamond driller and foreman.

    Regards,

    Dave
    Last edited by alieneyes; 20th November 2012 at 17:51.

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