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Thread: P/O (Air/Obs) R C PORTER 107784 & WO (Pilot) J E KNIGHT 523537 of 521 Sqn

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    Default P/O (Air/Obs) R C PORTER 107784 & WO (Pilot) J E KNIGHT 523537 of 521 Sqn

    Hi,

    I am researching Norfolk airmen & I am trying to find the circumstances of the deaths of the above two airmen on 04.10.42. WO Knight was an American citizen from Milan Missouri USA. Both their deaths were registered in Fakenham but of course there may be no connection.

    Many thanks,

    Rol
    Last edited by Roundhead; 11th May 2016 at 09:25. Reason: More info

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    Part of the crew of Hudson FH379 crashed on take off at Bircham Newton.

    Ross
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    Copyright Ross McNeill 2015/2018 - All rights reserved.

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    They were probably killed whilst flying in Hudson IIIA, FH379 of No 521 Sqn, which crashed into a building on take-off from Bircham Newton.

    There were three others also possibly on board: -

    Sgt HARRIS, ERNEST ROY (1310418) RAFVR - age 28
    Sgt HATHERLY, JOHN EDWARD (748136) RAFVR - age 23
    Sgt HAWKINS, CHARLES RONALD (1311082) RAFVR - age 27

    Ross beat me to it

    Malcolm

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    Many thanks Ross & Malcolm for very fast response.

    regards,
    Rol

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    Hello All,
    There is a Met interest in this thread/crash. 521 Sqn Hudsons usually did the RHOMBUS Met recce sortie (E Anglia-57N 07E-Wick outbound and the reverse, inbound, the next day). In Oct 1942 they hadn’t invented the RAFVR Trade of Meteorological Air Observer. The Met Obs were made by a second Observer (i.e. Navigator). So, we have a Pilot, 2 x Obs, and 2 x Wop/AGs – all OK.
    It is stated that W/O Knight was an American citizen. His Enlisted number (523537) indicates that he Enlisted from Civilian status after Oct 1939. The USA was, at this time, not in WW2 – is this unusual?. The other Observer Enlisted (748136) originally in the RAFVR Pilots block sometime after Jan 1937. So had he started to be a Pilot, got ‘washed-out’, and become an Observer? I am simply trying to determine (if possible) which of these two was navigating the a/c, and which was doing the Met obs. If it can be determined then we will investigate the Met Man further!
    TIA
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Hello,

    523537 W/O Ernest John KNIGHT RAF, was not an American citizen, it was 107784 F/O Robert Clarke PORTER RAFVR whose parents resided in Milan, Missouri.

    http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/ca...OBERT%20CLARKE

    Col.

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    Can't confirm which member of the crew was the Met Observer but Malcolm has the additional crew correctly identified. The aircraft had just taken off for a RHOMBUS mission in thick fog when it collided with the mast of a DF station which amputated a wing causing the aircraft to immediately crash and disintegrate. F/O Porter rests in Great Bircham (St.Mary's) churchyard where several of those lost operating from Bircham Newton are buried

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    Gentlemen,

    1. There is a little more to the story than has been posted to date. This from the ORB (AIR 27.1994):

    The RHOMBUS sortie (Hudson FH 379) had been delayed by thick fog, but the aircraft captain eventually decided to attempt a take-off at 0715 hours. In fact thick fog still blanketed the airfield, and the aircraft appears to have started swinging to port during the take-off run. Sufficient altitude was gained to clear a hangar - but not a radio-mast. The collision sliced off the starboard wing and, as the aircraft crashed at 0718 hours, the tanks exploded engulfing the wreckage in flames.

    Although it was normal for RHOMBUS sorties to be made with with four crewmen, in this instance there were five

    P/O R C Porter (Pilot)
    Sgt J E Hatherly (Navigator)
    Sgt C R Hawkins (WOp/AG)
    Sgt E R Harris (WOp/AG)
    W/O E J Knight (Navigator) for training in met observing.

    This was Knight's first flight with 521 Squadron; he had previously been with 143 Squadron at North Coates, and had only arrived at Bircham Newton on the 1st.

    2. At the time met observing on maritime met reconnaissance operations was carried out by the navigator, a dedicated Met Air Observer trade not being created until the following year.

    Brian

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