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Thread: Andrew Conway Emil Drake 615 and 67 Squadron

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    Default Andrew Conway Emil Drake 615 and 67 Squadron

    This is one for any lurking experts in the RAF air campaign in Burma. I was kindly directed here by the American historian Matt Poole.

    My uncle Andrew Conway Emil Drake (19th October 1921-26th June 1943 ?KIA Burma) died much too young.

    I have his very short personal RAF Service Record which allowed me to trace his movements. This allowed me to look through the 67 Squadron Records at the National Archives in Kew (back in 2006) to find out what happened to him on the day he disappeared. An abbreviated version is now on the internet:

    http://www.rafcommands.com/database/...php?uniq=BN336

    Below is a summary of his postings and dates of movements:

    Postings: Unit To………………………………………………........Date of Movement
    Kallang, Far East………..................……………………………………...7/10/41

    S. Rhodesia…………………………………………………..................….20/10/41
    I.T.W. Bulawayo………………………………………………..................12/11/41
    25 E.F.T.S…………………………………………………..................…...25/3/42
    20 S.F.T.S………………………………………………...................……...2 1/6/42
    India. Transit Camp Worli ………………………….................…………9/1/43
    151 O.T.U……………………………………………………..................…15/2/43
    615 Sqdn……………………………………………………..................…..18/4/43
    67 Sqdn……………………………………………………..................……1/5/43
    B.P.O. India………………………………………………..................…….26/6/43
    Missing……………………………………………………..................…….26/6/43
    Death Presumed…………………………………………..................……..26/6/43
    Killed in Action………………………………..................………………...26/6/43

    His name is on the Kranji War memorial (column 425) in Singapore. I have no photos or letters from or of him during his RAF years so my questions centre on these three:

    1) Does anyone have any information on Andrew Conway Emil Drake (RAF or non-RAF related)?

    2) Does anyone have or can point me to photos relating to 615 and 67 Squadron during his time there (or even his training time in Southern Rhodesia, Worli, Risalpur) in the small hope of finding a photo of him? (I have younger photos of him so I know what he looks like)

    3) I note as soon as he signed up with the RAF in Singapore he was immediately sent to Southern Rhodesia for flight training. Can any Tom, Dick or Harry walk off the street and join the RAF and be immediately sent to Southern Rhodesia? I would have thought the RAF have stringent health and aptitude requirements for being a fighter pilot. I half wonder if he already had some flight experience under his belt. If so how and where? (this would have been in the Far East and likely in China) - He was born in Shanghai and went to the Thomas Hanbury School for Boys. I would have assumed he finished schooling c.1938. I have no documentation of his movements between late 1938 (when he was in Shanghai attending a family friend funeral) and his subsequent signing up to the RAF in Kallang, Singapore in 7th October 1941. Any insight of pre-training pilot requirements at the time by any reader here would be most welcome in order for me to make sense of his movements.

    kind regards,
    David

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    David,

    Your mention about 151 OTU got me hitting my notes :

    151 OTU ORB - AIR 29/703 - Summary for April 43.

    "On 7.4.43, Hurricanes AG185 and W9238 collided in mid air. The pilot of AG185 catching the trailing edge of W9238 with his propeller. The pilot of W9238, 785098 Sgt A.C.E.Drake showed great presence of mind in taking the aircraft up to 5000 feet to test its capabilities after the collision. He managed to make a good landing and both aircraft were repaired here."



    Also reg "Can any Tom, Dick or Harry walk off the street and join the RAF and be immediately sent to Southern Rhodesia? I would have thought the RAF have stringent health and aptitude requirements for being a fighter pilot. "

    This was probably common with recruitment of expatriate british in the east/far east. Atleast in India - subjects of Britain of pure European descent were given priority in flying training. Those with flying experiences usually got commissions in the RAFVR. Anyone not of pure european descent were earmarked for ground duties. so it is possible that he was picked for aircrew duties. no special requirements there.. Those in india were trained locally within the FTS in India.
    Last edited by Jagan; 6th May 2019 at 03:56.

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    Hello,

    It should be noted that 785098 Andrew Conway Emil DRAKE enlisted in July, 1940, ie:

    785000-786999 Enlistments in Far East - July 1940.

    See: Aces High Volume 2/Shores/1999/p.16.

    Can confirm Jagan's observations:

    26-6-1943
    No.67 Sqn
    Hurricane IIC BN336

    Practice interception. Cloud formation and snow encountered. Last reported position: 21:50E 92:50E.

    785098 Sgt (Pilot) A. C. E. DRAKE RAFVR - Missing.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 6th May 2019 at 08:18.

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    Thanks very much to Jagan and Col Bruggy!

    I'm impressed! Really impressed with this spate of new information! I have been digging around for years and not got very far. The new earlier enlistment date in July 1940 completely changes my understanding of him and it makes me wonder why it wasn't recorded in his personal service record....unless I got a partial copy. Did your source mention where he was enlisted and what happened between then and his enlistment in Kallang, Singapore 7th October 1941?

    And this is even more I can ask for...an exact position of where he was last seen with coordinates(!)What was the source of that?

    kind regards
    David

    Thank you so much to the both of you.

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    Default Sgt A.C.E. Drake

    Hi David

    Late resonse but I have just found in my old notes that Sgt Andrew Drake was credited with damaging a Ki-43 on 2 Spril 1943, and a bomber (with a second damaged) on 4 April 1943, while flying with 67 Squadron.

    Unfortunately, I have no reference as to where this information came from.

    Cheers
    Brian

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    David,
    Remember that when anybody volunteers as aircrew in pretty well ANY air force during a World War or any other drawn out emergency, they have no idea where they will be eventually posted, should they manage to complete the flying training courses and graduate. And although many wanted to be "fighter pilots" and may have even mentioned their desire in their application (if any options were given, and generally this much more likely to be at completion of training rather that start) generally in the RAF (and I would imagine most air forces during WW2), you ended up being posted to where the RAF had vacancies which needed filling. The RAF was not really interested in what you wanted, they had a war to win, and usually took note of what your instructors had mentioned in their comments about your aptitudes, quickness of mind, steadiness, strengths and weaknesses. They might even decide to send you on a flying instructors course, as instructors were usually in demand, sometimes more so than front line pilots for operational service. You went where the wind happened to deposit you. Incidentally 67 Squadron was at one stage manned almost exclusively by RNZAF pilots (this was at Singapore in late 1941), although shortly before the Japanese attacks, they were posted to Burma. I met and talked to one of these pilot, by name of K A (Kenneth) Rutherford, a big strapping famer from mid-Canterbury, near where I am now. However many of these New Zealanders were gradually lost due to accidents, death in action, or postings to other squadrons as time passed, but as I recall, Ken Rutherford remained with No. 67 till well into 1944, when he was posted to an OTU as an instructor. There is a photo of him and other 67 Sqdn pilots in one of the official histories of New Zealanders serving with the RAF in WW2, Volume 3, Middle and Far East.
    David D

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    David, From Ancestry:
    As a five-year old he arrived in England from Shanghai on 19 Apr 27 in S.S. Katano Maru.
    Arrived with his brother D.M. Drake aged 10, and his mother. Their address was 68 Kenilworth Rd. I think in the Newcastle area, it is unclear.
    Regards, Terry

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    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the update. I think its unlikely as Andrew Conway Emil Drake was at O.T.U. 151 at Risalpur, having arrived there on the 15th February 1943 before being transferred to 615 Squadron on 18th April 1943. However, there was a Canadian called J.M. Drake of the Royal Canadian Airforce (no known relation to Andrew) attached to Squadron 67. I believe he later died on 26th December 1944 in a POW camp in Rangoon. Maybe the Ki-43 and bomber damage in early April was J.M. Drake instead?

    David

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    Hi Terry...thanks for that information. Thats's new information for me! I have information that he departed London for Shanghai on board the 'Fushiam Maru' on 10th September 1927 with his mother and brother so that compliments what I know.

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    Hi David D,

    Thanks for the extra information.
    I have copies of the 67 Sqn Operations Record Book for May and June 1943 and I can confirm that Warrant Officer K.A. Rutherford was flying in Sqn 67 at the same time as Andrew. Also same time as Flight Officer J.M. Drake (see my earlier response). He would definitely have known Andrew.

    Do you have a reference of that book please? I would love to locate one.

    Thanks
    David

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