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Thread: No.44 Squadron, late 1943

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    Default No.44 Squadron, late 1943

    I am trying to confirm a connection between a Flight Sergeant Matheson who was captain of a Lancaster engaged in a combat on the night of 26/27 November 1943 and Flight Sergeant Stuart Gordon Matheson, RCAF, who, a few days earlier, had been awarded a DFM for services with that squadron.

    While it seems unlikely that there would be two pilots named Matheson in the squadron at the same time, it is a common enough name that a double-check would be advisable.

    The crew on the night of 26/27 November 1943 (as listed, without initials, in Combat Report obtained from "Documents on Line" at Kew) were FS Matheson (pilot), Sergeant Horne (flight engineer), F/O Randon (air bomber), Sergeant Unwin (navigator), Sergeant Davey (WOP/AG), Flight Sergeant Dimbleby (mid-upper gunner) and Sergeant Gregson (rear gunner).

    If these men (or most of them) were also in the crew of a Sergeant or Flight Sergeant Matheson on the following occasions (when Stuart Gordon Matheson was definitely involved) the connection can be confirmed:


    29/30 September 1943 - mining operation at Danzig. Lancaster coned and held by searchlights and simultaneously engaged by accurate and concentrated light flak which caused some damage. Aircraft was forced down to sea level, but to avoid the risk of inaccurate dropping Flight Sergeant Matheson did a second run and dropped his mines in the proper place.

    2/3rd October 1943 - Target was Munich. Less than half-way to the target the oxygen supply failed completely and made it impossible to follow the flight plan; Matheson flew on to the target and attacked successfully from a height of only 11,000 feet.

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    Default F/Sgt Stuart Gordon Matheson DFM and Crew, 44 Squadron, Lincolnshire

    My late father flew as a member of the above crew during 1943. Before he passed away I had commenced writing his story. I am in the process of gathering information about his crew in general, and came across your post which I realise is now more than 3 years old. Perhaps you have by now resolved your request, if not then here goes!
    I can confirm that there was only one Matheson on 44 at the time. I have no written proof of this but I am sure that father would have told me had there been. He and Matt, as Stuart was known, kept in touch until Matts death which must have bee in the late 90's. His second wife still lives in Canada and my mother keeps in touch with her at Christmas etc.
    I can also confirm that the crew as you list were all involved in all three raids you mention, Danzig, Munich and on the 26/27 November which was to Berlin. These facts I can support without question as I have fathers 'Log Book' and all the De-briefing reports of all his raids which list the crew names.
    You mention that they were engaged in a combat on the night of the 26/27 November. Was this with an ME110? Fathers Log Book states:'ME110 presumed destroyed'
    I do hope that you receive and reply to this post. These forums are new to me so please forgive my ignorance as to how they work!!!! I would obviously be extremely interested to know of your interest in this matter.

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    John

    To expand a little bit on Hugh’s post, From “The Distinguished Flying Medal Register for the Second World War” by Ian Tavender : -

    Matheson, Stuart Gordon. Can/R101644 Flight Sergeant RCAF
    No. 44 Sqn. (Immediate)
    LG 10/12/1943. Sorties 24, Flying hours 143.27. Pilot. Air2/5020

    On 29th/30th. September 1943, Flight Sergeant Matheson was Captain of an aircraft detailed to carry out a special mining operation at Danzig. Weather conditions were difficult but good captaincy and navigation brought the aircraft onto the area on time. Immediately before the release point, however, the Lancaster was coned and held by searchlights and simultaneously engaged by accurate and concentrated light flak which caused some damage. Immediate defensive action had to be taken and the aircraft was forced down to sea level but, to avoid the risk of inaccurate dropping, Flight Sergeant Matheson did a second run and dropped his mines in the proper place. Another example of this NCO’s courage and determination was on 2nd/3rd. October 1943, when Munich was attacked. Less than half way to the target, the oxygen system failed completely and made it impossible to follow the flight plan. Nevertheless, Flight Sergeant Matheson flew on to the target which was attacked successfully from a height of only 11000 feet. This NCO has set a fine offensive example to old and new crews alike and has now completed successfully 25 operations, all but two being against Germany. Among the targets he has attacked are Berlin. Munich, the Ruhr and Peenemunde. I strongly recommend Flight Sergeant Matheson for an immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Medal.

    17th. November 1943

    ---

    Regards

    Douglas

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    John,
    Have pm'd you with reference to 44sqdn ORB. The National Archives has 5 combat reports for your father, available via online download (3.50 each) if you have not already done so........
    26/11/43
    09/08/43.
    29/07/43
    25/06/43
    12/06/43.

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    My question of 2008 had not been resolved until this date and I am now grateful that such a mass of information has come to light at one go. Unhappily, in the intervening period I have misfiled (i.e. lost) the combat report which inspired the query. Nevertheless, I shall re-order copies now for the Matheson entry in the RCAF awards data base (see the "Useful Books and Research Materials" side of this Forum).

    Mention has been made of Matheson being deceased. I would very much like to have confrmation of the date and place of his decease. This would be of immediate use in amending his entry; it might also be possible for me to access his service file.

    As of this moment, my data base entry for Matheson reads as below, and anything that helps to fill out his story would be welcomed.

    MATHESON, FS Stuart Gordon (R101644, later J86089) - Distinguished Flying Medal - No.44 Squadron - Award effective 17 November 1943 as per London Gazette dated 10 December 1943 and AFRO 410/44 dated 25 February 1944. Born 25 April 1922 in Winnipeg; home in Stonewall, Manitoba (farmer); enlisted in Winnipeg, 24 April 1941. Granted Leave Without Pay until 28 August 1941 when posted to No.2 Manning Depot. To No.4 SFTS (guard duty), 27 October 1941. To No.7 ITS, 21 December 1941; graduated and promoted LAC, 13 February 1942 but not posted to No.19 EFTS until 28 February 1942; may have graduated 24 April 1942 but not posted to No.12 SFTS until 9 May 1942; graduated and promoted Sergeant, 28 August 1942. To “Y” Depot, 11 September 1942. To RAF overseas, 26 October 1942. Promoted Flight Sergeant, 28 February 1943. Promoted WO2, 28 August 1943. Subsequently commissioned, backdated to 4 May 1943. Promoted Flying Officer, 7 November 1943. Promoted Flight Lieutenant, 7 May 1945. Repatriated 13 June 1945. Retired 29 August 1945. Medal presented at Buckingham Palace 14 November 1944. Photo PL-43389 shows him at right; the other man is described as his rear gunner, “F/O Karl Reed, DFM of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on his third tour of ops, [who] blasted an FW.190 out of the skies during an attack on the German port of Kiel.” However, no aircrew named Karl Reed can be associated with a DFM.

    "This airman has taken part in a large number of sorties, including attacks on industrial centres in the Ruhr and many other important targets. In September 1943, Flight Sergeant Matheson piloted an aircraft detailed for a mine-laying mission. In spite of much anti-aircraft opposition he made two runs over the target to ensure accuracy. On another occasion, on the outward flight to Munich, the oxygen supply failed. Nevertheless, Flight Sergeant Matheson continued to the target and bombed it. This airman has invariably displayed skill, courage and determination of a high order."

    NOTE: Public Record Office Air 2/5020 has recommendation dated 17 November 1943, drafted when he had flown 24 sorties (143 hours 27 minutes). Signed by the Group Captain commanding Station Dunholme Lodge; endorsed by Commander of No.52 Base the same day and by Air Officer Commanding, No.5 Group, also on 17 November 1943.

    "On the 29/30 September, Flight Sergeant Matheson was captain of an aircraft detailed to carry out a special mining operation at Danzig. Weather conditions were difficult but good captaincy and navigation brought the aircraft onto the area on time. Immediately before the release point, however, the Lancaster was coned and held by searchlights and simultaneously engaged by accurate and concentrated light flak which caused some damage. Immediate defensive action had to be taken, and the aircraft was forced down to sea level, but to avoid the risk of inaccurate dropping Flight Sergeant Matheson did a second run and dropped his mines in the proper place.

    "Another example of this Non-Commissioned Officer’s courage and determination was on the 2/3rd October when Munich was attacked; less than half-way to the target the oxygen supply failed completely and made it impossible to follow the flight plan; nevertheless, Flight Sergeant Matheson flew on to the target which was attacked successfully from a height of only 11,000 feet.

    "This Non-Commissioned Officer has set a fine offensive example to old and new crews alike and has now completed successfully 25 operations, all but two against Germany. Among the targets he has attacked [are] Berlin, Munich, the Ruhr and Peenemunde.

    "I strongly recommend Flight Sergeant Matheson for an immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Medal."

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    Default DFM register for WW2

    Douglas
    Thanks for the information. As I have said I am very new to researching data from the era discussed and very new to using these forums! In fact I dont really know what I am doing!
    I knew not of the existance of the Register by Ian Tavender. Other crew members includinng my father, were awarded the DFM during their tour. What is the best way to reseach? Is the register available 'on line'?
    Also the rear gunner was awarded the DFC on his second tour. Is there a similar register for the DFC?
    Many thanks. John

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    Default National Archives

    Alan
    Presumably the combat reports give details of the combats as given at the de-briefing after the raid? I will certainly pursue as soon as I can. Must say I am somewhat overwhelmed by all the interest shown. Many thanks again. john

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    John,
    The combat reports at the N/A are different to the debriefing reports in the ORB, they will give details from the a/g's on how the actual combat went. If you can PM your email address to me, i have something for the DFM.

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    Default MATHESON, FS Stuart Gordon DFM

    Hugh
    I am very please that I have been of assistance. As previously suggested I am compiling as much information as I can about fathers time flying with Matt. Of the crew members, Matt obviously survived the war, and joined Air Canada, flying Constalations trans atlantic and then DC9's transcontinental until grounded with ill heath I guess 1970's. He continued working for Air Canada until his retirenment. I believe he was responsible for giving local weather/airport reports to crews for various airports used workdwide etc.
    I will endevour to get more details of his passing, but this may take some time as I need to speak with my mother. Hopefully it will be quicker than three years though!
    Back to 1943. A tour at that time comprised of 30 trips. Matt and crew were taken off opps at 27 trips as they were desperate for him to move to a HCU as a pilot instructor. At that time there were not too many crew reaching 30! I always thougt that he did a second tour but cannot find any reference to that, which is validated with your data base. I believe that he flew Stirlings at some point but by 1944 I believe they were not operational so could well have been deployed at HCU.
    Regarding your reference to F/O Karl Reed, DFM of Philidelphia. He was not one of the 44 squadron crew members with Matt. All the crew were together except for a trip to Frankfurt on 04/05-10-43 when father was ill. On that occsion F/S Bowman was the mid upper gunner. I have checked my copies of the ORB for all the raids and can confirm that father was the mid upper on all occasions with the above exception and the rear gunner was Harley Winston Gregson. I have a crew photo (not electronical) taken at the end of their tour (well father still had one to do!) Detail is not too good but perhaps it can be compared with photo PL-43389? Have you a copy?
    Kind Regards. John

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    Hi John

    I do not know how much detail Alan has given you re your father's DFM but if you wish me to look up any other DFM citations, just let me know. I do not think the DFM register is on-line but am not 100% sure. Nick and Carol Carter have books covering DFC citations but I am not sure which Gregson was in your father's crew. Not all DFC citations are in these books but you may be lucky as two of the three Gregsons who were awarded the DFC, have their citations recorded. If he was the third Gregson i.e. Harley Winston Gregson of 149 Squadron, there is no citation text recorded in the book but Hugh Halliday would be the man to help you further.

    Douglas

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