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Thread: Operation Colossus - 10/2/1941

  1. #11
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    Col,
    P5015 (K) is definitely the number listed on the manifest I photographed. (I didn't photograph the whole file, but the aircraft no. may be noted elsewhere. The aircraft are usually identified by their letter in the contemporary docs.) It could still be wrong, a clerical error, but 'K' is consistent. I'll make a note to check the file when I'm next at Kew.

    Nick L

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    John

    I have a different list to that posted by Nick. In my opinion the list posted by Nick is of those who transited to Malta on the Whitley's, some operational personnel travelled by flying boat and met up with the Whitley's in Malta. This is a list compiled post the operation, the crews in Nick's post are correct and my research shows that Wing Commander Norman flew as an additional Pilot with PO Robinson. The passengers were as follows:

    P5015 Major TAG Pritchard, Capt Lea, Sgt Walker, LCpl Pexton, FLt Lucky (or Luckie) Pte Parker

    T4235 2Lt Jowett, Sgt Clements, Cpl Grice, Pte Samuel, Cpl Fletcher, Pte Nastri also known as Tristam

    T4165 Lt Deane-Drummond, Sgt Lawley, Sgt Shutt, Pte Picchi also known as Dupont, LCpl Henderson, LCpl Boulter

    T4215 Capt Daly, LCpl Tomlin, Spr Davidson, Spr Parker, Spr Prior,

    N1525 2Lt Patterson, Cpl O'Brien, LCpl Maher, LCpl Jones D, Spr Struthers, LCpl Watson

    T4236 Sgt Durie, Cpl Julian, LCpl Humphreys, Spr Crawford, Spr Ross, Spr Phillips

    As you may be aware Anthony Deane-Drummond went on to escape from his Italian POW camp and returned to the UK and had an amazing career in the Royal Signals and was later CO of 22 SAS. He has written about the operation in his book "Arrows of Fortune". His was the first stick to land, dropped by Wally Lashbrook with great accuracy landing next to the target. The other two crews carried no passengers as they were to conduct a diversionary bombing raid and carried a full complement of bombs. There are a number of lists of those who jumped on the operation, Deane-Drummond records a total of 35 including the two Italian linguists, Flt Lucky and Sgt Picchi. The full list is as follows:
    1. Major T.A.G Pritchard DSO MBE,
    2. Captain Christopher Lea,
    3. Captain G. Daly,
    4. Lieut. Anthony Deane-Drummond,
    5. Second Lieut. G Paterson,
    6. Second Lieut. G Jowett,
    7. Flight Lieut. Lucky,
    8. Sgt. P.P."Clem" Clements,
    9. Sgt. Arthur L. Lawley,
    10. Sgt. E.W. Durie,
    11. Sgt. J. Walker,
    12. Cpl. Philip "Pop" Julian,
    13. Cpl. J.E. Grice,
    14. Cpl. P. O'Brien,
    15. Cpl. D. Fletcher,
    16. L/Cpl. R.B. Watson,
    17. L/Cpl. D.H. Boulter,
    18. L/Cpl. Doug E. Jones,
    19. L/Cpl. Harry "Lucky" Pexton,
    20. L/Cpl. H. Tomlin,
    21. L/Cpl. J.E. Maher,
    22. L/Cpl. D. Henderson,
    23. Tpr. J."Nicky" Nastri,
    24. Tpr. Alan Bruce Ross,
    25. Tpr. E. Samuels,
    26. Tpr. E. Humphreys,
    27. Tpr. F. Picchi,
    28. Tpr. James Parker MM,
    29. Tpr. D.L. Struthers,
    30. Tpr. G. Pryor,
    31. Tpr. D.J. Phillips,
    32. Tpr. J.W. Crawford,
    33. Tpr. R. Davidson.
    34. Sgt J Shutt
    35. Tpr A Parker

    If you want details of the loads carried by each aircraft then give me a shout.

    Daz
    Last edited by 78SqnHistory; 22nd February 2016 at 16:14.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Larder View Post
    Nick
    It's the crew names I am after as this is research for the Yorkshire Air Museum. Just looking at the crews in other ops it looks like that the Hoad crew died in March 1941 and that 2 of Williams' crew died in June 1941.
    John

    As far as crew fatalities goes, i have the following:

    Hoad died with a different crew to the one which went on Colossus and with the exception of Sgt CA Smith the rest all seemed to have survived the war. I'm unsure of Smith as I don't have his service number and there are too many Smiths!

    It would appear that all of Flt W R Williams crew survived although I have question marks against Sgt Walker and PO McLeod.

    PO Robinson is killed later in the war as a Sqn Ldr with 158 Sqn in June 1943, Sergeant Hatcher is KIA with 83 Sqn as a Sqn Ldr and has picked up a DFC and an AFM.

    Sgt GW Holden, captain of T4236 is KIA as Sqn Ldr with 617 Sqn having received a DSO, DFC & Bar and an MiD.

    Sgt G Billing is KIA with 78 Sqn on 09 Jun 41.

    HTH

    Daz

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    Hello Daz,

    I believe your: "P/O Robinson is killed later in the war as a Sqn Ldr with 158 Sqn in June 1943", is in fact: 36274 S/L Peter Bettley ROBINSON DFC RAF (New Zealand), lost in No.158 Sqn Halifax II W7745 on 10/11-9-1942 (BCL3/212).

    Col.

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    I can recommend Wally Lashbrook's memoir of Op COLOSSUS on the 102ceylonsquadron.co.uk website.
    It provides the sort of background information that you rarely get from official documents.
    Nick L

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    Dear Mr. Livingstone:

    From your post.

    "Shortly after the raid T4165 and T4166 were allotted to No. 419 (SD) Flight as replacements for two of its agent-dropping Whitleys, one lost over Belgium and the other damaged landing at Sumburgh."

    I have a keen interest in SOE operations and particularly aircraft. I am currently trying to model an early 419 Flight Whitley (T4264). The picture of the wreck of T4264 in Freddie Clark's "Agents by Moonlight" (Pg 9) indicates these early aircraft did not have aircraft codes. T4165 and/or T4166 are also candidates to model. However I have run into a couple of problems.

    1) Did all the early Whitley's in 419 Flight (P5029, Z6473, T4264) operate without aircraft code letters? Did T4165 and T4166 also operate without code letters?

    2) There are several camouflage paint schemes on early Whitley's. Dark Earth and Green running diagonally left , and the same colors running diagonally right, as well as all black. Demarcation between top and bottom fuselage colors with a straight line , a wavy line, sometimes high on the fuselage, sometimes low. Any chance you could point me in the right direction for any of the early flight 419 Whitley's mentioned above? Is it known what squadrons they came from? Were they completely or partially repainted on arrival at 419 or not at all? etc etc. Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated.

    3) Did the Flight 419 Whitley's have an inside cover for the jump hole? Was it only covered from the inside of the aircraft? I'm assuming all these aircraft flew with the the lower part of the jump hole visible from below. Any deflectors or shields? Some photos show Parachute dropping Whitley's with a kind of shield in front of the hole.

    And finally, I have been reading "Before Tempsford" and I compliment you on an amazing narrative.

    Sincerely

    William Carney
    Last edited by WilliamS; 18th January 2017 at 00:11.

  7. #17
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    Hello William,

    The best information I have on aircraft codes for 419/1419 Flight aircraft is that they did not have them painted on the sides. Photos of Whitleys of this era at No. 10 OTU and at the parachute school at Ringway show individual aircraft letters but no squadron letters. By collating entries from the Stradishall Ops Officers' log books with aircrew logbooks I have deduced that 419/1419 Flight aircraft operated without visible letters; the same aircraft would be given different letter identifications on different nights.

    Photos are of the Flight's aircraft are rare, which is hardly surprising given its secrecy. The only ones I have found are for S/Ldr Keast's aircraft after it had been shot down near Namur in February 1941, apparently taken by courageous locals. This aircraft was black with camouflaged upper surfaces with a wavy border-line running along the upper part of the fuselage, the waviness quite extreme and very irregular. I cannot shed further light on the pattern, and I have no idea whether it was representative of 419 Flight aircraft at this time. The Flight was run on a shoestring: routine servicing had to be carried out at Abingdon, the only nearby Whitley base. (The other Whitley bomber bases were in 4 Group, in Yorkshire.)

    After Keast's crash the fuel tank behind the W/Op's position was removed; you can see the gap where the roof has been removed. This is likely to have been in order to recover the substantial amount of 100-octane fuel it (and the wing tanks) would have contained. Several large fuel drums are nearby. I visited the site a few years ago. Not much has changed, but the trees are older.

    From the RAF Museum I learned from a manual that the parachuting hole was covered by a pair of semi-circular hatches flush with the inner deck. These were hinged at the fuselage wall, and were lifted and then secured against the fuselage wall. In flight the hatch would be covered by large sorbo-rubber mats. The parachuting 'hole' had a vertical curved windshield fitted to the leading edge. This protruded a foot or two beneath the aircraft to reduce the tendency for a parachutist's legs from being whipped backwards in the slipstream before his torso had fully left the aircraft.

    The tail wheel was sometimes shielded with a metal cowling in front of it to prevent a parachute canopy becoming snagged on the wheel, but the shield would sometimes become dislodged after taxiing over rough ground. This happened to a Belgian agent on July 6 1941. I believe the cowling was eventually discontinued, as the only picture I have found of one fitted is of Ron Hockey's Halifax L9613 in Freddie Clark's book, page 26.

    Other information for modelling that you might find useful is that the containers dropped with agents were carried in the external bomb-racks between the fuselage and engine; the same applied for the 78 Sqn containers used on COLOSSUS.

    Pleased you like the website. I have fallen slightly behind schedule, only partly due to a Christmas trip to New Zealand. Normally I have a bit of leeway during the non-moon periods which allow me to catch up, but the next Moon period (22 Jan - 3 Feb) is almost upon me.


    Nick Livingstone

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    I understand that Wally Lashbrook is still with us and as close to 104 as makes no difference. I have been told but not corroborated it, that Wally is the oldest ex-Halton Apprentice and hence holds the title: King Brat.

    If this is duff gen - or as it's now called: 'fake news', somebody will quickly put me back in my box!

    Colin Cummings

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    Dear Mr. Livingstone,

    Thank you for taking the time to provide such an informative answer. The data about the jump hole and the containers is especially welcome. Greatly appreciated. I look forward to continuing "episodes" of "Before Tempsford".

    William Carney

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    Default Re: Operation Colossus - 10/2/1941

    The POW entry for T4167 in our database: http://www.rafcommands.com/database/...php?uniq=T4167
    lists the crew as being from 148 Sqn, which never operated the Whitley as far as I am aware.
    Also, three of the crew have duplicate entries, with Wotherspoon being listed with 2 different ranks (he was a P/O at the time I think).

    One other small point - according to the relevant Air-Britain serials book, P5015 never served with 51 Sqn (or 78 Sqn), just being listed as 19 OTU/102/10 OTU. I therefore think it is likely that it was indeed P5105, as suggested earlier in the thread. This aircraft is listed as 51/78/19 OTU.

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