F/Lt Holmes, Air Marshal Barratt's pilot in France 1939-40

Thread: F/Lt Holmes, Air Marshal Barratt's pilot in France 1939-40

  1. deadrock said:

    Default F/Lt Holmes, Air Marshal Barratt's pilot in France 1939-40

    I am trying to trace which F/Lt Holmes was involved in the planned insertion of SIS agent Philip Schneidau in August 1940. They had known each other in France, when Schneidau had been Air Marshal Barratt's driver and interpreter.
    The Air Force List is not much help, as Holmes is not an uncommon name. Collective wisdom being better than one man's ignorance, has anyone any better information?

  2. paulmcmillan said:


    Suggest "Holmes" may actually be John Charles P Higgins who was a pilot with IOM airlines and was according to this web site


    was Barratts personal pilot

    I suggest Higgins was piloting either DH-89 G-AEBW or G-AEPF which were left at Bordeaux in May 1940. Both were with 24 Sqn but returned to IoM Air Services 21.12.39 and operated by NAC

    Philip Schneidau plan was for 'Holmes' to fly him by DH-89. So we looking for pilot current on DH-89 and known to both of them. So even if not Higgins then Holmes was probably with 24 Sqn in 1939/1940

    Also Barratts personal aircraft was multiple seat aircraft (at least 4 including pilot) which eliminates Masters etc so may have been a DH89

    Higgins died 11.11.48 in DH 89 G-AKOF which ditched in Mersey
  3. deadrock said:


    Many thanks for this info, Paul. Original plan was hand-written on a sheet of notepaper from the Park Lane Hotel, Piccadilly, undated.

    'Flight Lieutenant Holmes' in Hugh Verity's book may have been P/O Holmes at the time the plan was written in August 1940. A.M. Barratt was appointed AOC-in-C BAFF in January 1940; he had been posted as AOC-in-C India in September '39, but this was countermanded almost immediately, and he was posted instead to France as Senior Air Liaison Officer until 1940. Higgins may have preceded Holmes in 1939; I think it unlikely that we have an issue of mistaken identity.

    The plan called for a fitter, Corporal Bench, to accompany the DH89 and refill the tanks from 15 x 2-gallon tins carried in the aircraft. It doesn't say when this was to have been carried out, but it does say that all the fuel tanks could be filled from the interior. 'By this method the radius of action of the a/c may be augmented to a total of 432 miles.' Wouldn't have been wise to refuel on Fontainebleau racecourse, where Schneidau was intended to be dropped off; it would have taken rather too long.

    The DH89 was supposed to come from the 'Transport Squadron at Hendon', i.e. No.24 Sqn. There were apparently two DH89s at Hendon at the time. The plan also notes that Olley Air Services had been using G-AEPF, which had larger auxiliary tanks. However, another report indicates that G-AEPF had been abandoned in France on June 18th, which ties in with your info about it. On the 18th, at Nantes, A.M. Barratt detached Philip Schneidau to drive the British ambassador and staff to safety, which he did, via Arcachon. Barratt then flew home from Nantes.

    In a trawl through 'Flight', I see that in 1938 a pilot called Holmes worked for a company called Air Despatch Ltd which operated DH89s, among other types. The company operated a newspaper service to Paris, and summer excursions to Le Touquet. I'll see if I can find a Holmes in the 24 Sqn ORB.
  4. COL BRUGGY said:



    A possibility for your enigmatic, "F/Lt Holmes":


    Scroll down to - F/Lt Cyril Thomas Holmes.

    He started way back when...


    Certainly had the credentials.

    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 20th February 2013 at 12:46.
  5. paulmcmillan said:



    Flt Lt Cyril Thomas Holmes is:

    10319 C. T. Holmes FL (RAFO) 22. 2.27


    Commission relinquished.
    Fit. Lt. C. T. HOLMES (70319) (on appt. to the R.A.F.V.R.). 4th Jan. 1944.
  6. COL BRUGGY said:



    I noticed in one of my refs (which l can't locate now), that Holmes passed away in 1944 !

    Might be worth checking.

    Pardon! Found my notes - l don't think it is the same Holmes.

    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 20th February 2013 at 13:29.
  7. paulmcmillan said:


    Yes Cyril T Holmes aged 49 Qtr 3 1944 death registration Calder he married Qt2 1935 in Bristol

    He is not on CWGC
  8. paulmcmillan said:


    Cyril Thomas Holmes while with RAFO pre war was an Instructor at Filton
  9. COL BRUGGY said:



    And an instructor at Filton, post-war !

    http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1948/1948 - 0690.html

    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 20th February 2013 at 13:38.
  10. deadrock said:


    Thank you both. C.T. Holmes now looks a 'probable'. He certainly had the experience to have made A.M. Barratt feel comfortable as his passenger. I'll see what I can find at Kew on my next visit. The Air Force List may give me a more definite steer now I have some initials. The number of Holmeses in the Air Force List made it a daunting task without them. I'll have a look at the BAFF documents as well. Schneidau noted him in 1940 as P/O Holmes, but many distinguished reservists came in as Pilot Officers. Promotion could be quick, but rarely as quick as P/O Louis Strange (DSO, MC, DFC*), to Acting Squadron Leader in July 1940.