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Thread: RAF Rivenhall experts? Group photo identification

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by wwrsimon View Post
    And is the man with the chevron collar insignia American?

    Regards

    Simon
    Looks like he is wearing RAF 'Best Blue' (No1 uniform) with an RAF 'Chip Bag' Hat and I think I can just about make out a standard RAF Officer cap badge on the chip bag hat.
    But I can see why you said that :)

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    Herewith some close-ups, in case this helps...





    Yes, Fleet Air Arm chaps were drafted in to some RAF airfields, at the time of Airborne Ops in 1944-1945 and one can find photos of them on the runway during preparation of aircraft and at the time of take-off. This certainly included Air Fitters and probably also Air Mechanics. However, they wore Naval uniform. The gent with the collar patches does not appear to be in Naval uniform.

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    Hi

    I wonder if the collar badges are those of a medical officer?

    Malcolm

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    [QUOTE=wwrsimon;143006]I have a copy of 'Rivenhall - The History of an Essex Airfield' by B. A. Stait, which has a group photo in front of a Stirling. This includes four chaps in Royal Navy uniforms, and the caption states that they are thought to have been drafted in due to a shortage of qualified electricians./QUOTE]

    Simon,

    Can you tell me if the book talks about an RAF presence throughout its existence (when operating as both a USAAF and RAF station)?

    Also, does it mention any names or details of station staff?

    Best regards

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    Here's what the book records:

    The U.S.A.A.F. were the first to occupy the airfield - the 363rd Fighter Group with their P-51s moved in early 1944, and left for Staplehurst in Kent on April 14th 1944. They were replaced by the 397th Bomb Group (Medium) with the B-26s, who arrived on April 15th 1944 and their last Op from Rivenhall looks like August 4th 1944. There's no mention of any R.A.F. personnel being at Rivenhall during these two units' occupancy.

    295 and 570 Squadrons moved in from October 1st 1944. There is a photo of the 'handing over' with Col. Coiner of the U.S.A.A.F. shaking the hand of an R.A.F. Officer, thought to be W/C Martin of No.3 Group.

    It does mention that the Station Commander after the R.A.F. arrived was G/Capt. W. E. Surplice, D.S.O, D.F.C., who was killed in Stirling LK171 on November 2nd 1944:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peo...a7770909.shtml

    He was succeeded by G/Capt. Pope, D.S.O. (was that Vincent Alvan Pope?).

    There are a few R.A.F. names mentioned in the text:

    Jim Swale of 295 Sqn
    S/Ldr. Stewart of 295 Sqn
    W/O Peter Baldock, Navigator with 295 Sqn
    Sgt. Tony Wardley of the Glider Pilot Regt.
    And there are some group photos with the following:
    F/Sgt Hugh Rice, Flight Engineer with 295 Sqn (group photo - he's the only one named)
    W/C H. E. Angell D.F.C., C.O. of 295 Sqn (group photo - he's the only one named)

    Regards

    Simon

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    Quote Originally Posted by wwrsimon View Post
    Here's what the book records:

    It does mention that the Station Commander after the R.A.F. arrived was G/Capt. W. E. Surplice, D.S.O, D.F.C., who was killed in Stirling LK171 on November 2nd 1944:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peo...a7770909.shtml

    He was succeeded by G/Capt. Pope, D.S.O. (was that Vincent Alvan Pope?).

    Regards

    Simon
    Looking at his medal ribbons, the senior officer in the photo was the holder of the DFC or DFM, more likely the DFC. This would make Group Captain Wilfred Edward Surplice, DFC, a possibility. I cannot see what the other medal ribbon(s) might be for.



    UPDATE: Now received this photo from a member of the Surplice family, which is of Wilfred Edward Surplice. I would say that it is a different gent to the one on the group photo (due to shape of face, absence of moustache and way of wearing peaked cap), so this would effectively 'rule out' Group Captain Surplice, DFC, being the senior officer in the group photo.

    Last edited by BabaAndrew; 30th May 2019 at 09:16.

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