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Thread: An officer/cholera casualty named Ray Fella, India, 1944?

  1. #11
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    Matt,

    Not the late Col Pay (A fellow-Australian, and Spitfire [amongst others], operator/restorer), but me, plain-old, garden variety, COL BRUGGY (who has paid for his crimes. Well, some of them!).

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 17th January 2020 at 04:15.

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    Col...I must "PAY" you for that error...but in lieu of money, I will acknowledge my latest bonehead move on the RAF Commands Forum. That "Col Pay" error was a brain fart if ever there was one, and I'm terribly sorry.

    Everyone deserves to be recognized properly, especially one Col BRUGGY, who has frequently offered his help to friends and strangers on this message board! (If Churchill were alive, he might say about Col's frequent pulling of needles out of haystacks, "Never in the field of World War II aviation research was so much owed by so many to so few.")

    From now on, a "bruggy" is a slip of the brain cells. By the way, did you like Abraham Lincoln's latest Tweet? Oops, I just pulled a bruggy...I meant Donald Trump.

  3. #13
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    People,

    Fake News!, Fake News! Don't believe a word of it Folks. Puts a whole new meaning on the expression "The D.T's". For God Sake Matt, it has taken me years to live down the bloody handle "Col. Bogey", and there ya' go, kicking it all off again.

    Thanks Mate.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 17th January 2020 at 10:10.

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    Hi Matt,

    Point noted! It's a case of 'not what you know, but who you know' I guess...

    Be good to see what the diary says. I must say I'm not convinced on the Ray Bullen theory so far, but let's see how it pans out. My trip to Kew will be mid-February by the way.

    Mention of Wally Frazer and his book reminds me that somewhere in the house I have a copy of his draft for his publisher, all printed out on that old style computer printout paper. He sent it to my dad for his comments and I managed to blag it some years back. I get the impression that Wally's original was quite heavily edited for publication, and I have always intended to sit down and compare draft and published book. There may be some missing gems in there I hope.

    I must have written to Wally about 'Cec' Shannon, whose medals I had purchased about that time. Don't worry about the copies, Matt, I should have the important bits in my file on Shannon. Incidentally, according to a note in my copy of 'A Trepid Aviator', Wally died on 18 October 2002. He was survived by his wife, whose health was not good at that time, and his son.

    Regards,

    Geoff

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    Hi, Geoff,

    Yep, you address the medals of "Cec" Shannon in your correspondence with Wally. The offer is always there, if you need copies of the letters at any time.

    I had corresponded with Wally's daughter, and she trusted me enough to send me a pile of original correspondences to and from Wally in regard to his book and/or other subjects, like "Cec" Shannon's medals. I copied them and mailed them back. I lost touch with her, and, so far, I can't find her name or address from circa 2007 -- which is frustrating, as I'm usually careful about such things. Oh well...

    I just sent an email to the son and daughter of Roy Andrews. I don't yet know if either has Roy's 1944 diary, either the original or his typewritten version. It would something if he typed it in digital format, though the problem with this is the likely introduction of typographical errors. Sure would like to learn if he mentions his first skipper's name -- Ray Bullen, I hope. Since Roy got the surname wrong in his memoir, my guess is that the diary only has the first name "Ray". But...I...will...know, sooner or later (fingers crossed).

    Cheers,

    Matt

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    Matt,

    I got to visit Kew on Saturday and now have copies from the 1673 HCU ORB covering the period from July – November 1944, which amounts to about 30 pages. Sadly there is no ‘Eureka’ moment for you.

    The record consists of the usual narrative, typically a couple of pages cover one month, and documents appended to each month. These are ‘battle orders’ for what appears to be the final exercise – Exercise ‘Echo’ – completed by the crews whilst at Kolar. This seems to have been carried out as a night cross country of about seven and a half hours, with practice bombs to drop as well.

    Unfortunately whilst some list complete crews, some merely list the captain ‘& crew’. As they are orders for the operation, neither do they confirm which crew members actually flew on the exercise. So, whilst we usefully have the whole of F/Lt Grouse’s crew list for Ex ‘Echo’ No13 on 5/9/44 and Andrews is listed, his book seems to have him in hospital at the time!

    And I could not see Ray Bullen listed anywhere. So either he was not a captain (and was included in an ‘& crew’) or he did not get to complete Exercise ‘Echo’ on his course before 1673 HCU was disbanded to become the nucleus of 358 Squadron.

    Sorry this is not more help. I’ll email you separately later today.

    Regards,

    Geoff
    Last edited by Smith 565; 17th February 2020 at 09:11.

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    Hi, Geoff,

    Thanks for this detailed post, and for the private email and ORB copies.

    I've been frustrated in trying to get Roy's son and daughter to share anything. The son finally told me that he doesn't know of a logbook, but he has not answered my simple question about the existence of the typewritten (digital?) version of Roy's diary, which Roy mentioned in a letter a few years ago, or Roy's wartime photos -- inferior copies of which I've seen. The daughter hasn't replied to my three emails.

    It's a real shame, because a) the diary would easily solve some mysteries, b) getting high-quality photos is essential if a regular book publishing is to be realized, and c) a logbook would be a real gem that would provide a wealth of details.

    I understand what you wrote about Roy saying he was in hospital, but, in looking over his vaguely-written memoir, because of your new info, I can now see the possibility that he went into hospital after that 5 Sept '44 flight with the Grouse crew. Here's the wording of Roy's account:

    ...We went back on the 3rd of Sept [returned to 1673 HCU from leave]. The next day I was Range safety Wop, Bing was the Range Safety Pilot.

    I had to go to hospital with the trots, and sore eyes. I was there for three days. I got into trouble for leaving the hospital without permission. I did that because I was afraid that I'd miss my posting.


    It is my guess that Roy simply summarized his diary entries poorly. Yes, I bet he was in hospital for three days, but he did not add a date for when he went to hospital. Because he only mentioned returning to 1673 HCU on 3 Sept, and being Range Safety W/Op on 4 Sept, and then being in hospital for three days, it is reasonable to infer that his hospital stay could have begun on 4 or 5 Sept. But now the 1673 ORB reveals that Roy was on an exercise with the Grouse crew (Grouse was his new skipper; that is well-established) on 5 Sept, so the start of his hospital stay could not have begun until after that flight. Well, that's assuming the ORB is correct, and that Roy was on the exercise. BUT...those records have errors -- I have seen an erroneous serial number, for example, and every ORB I've ever seen has errors!

    However, I bet his diary clearly states the date when he went to hospital. This is a perfect example of how his diary could clarify matters.

    And, of course, it could also solve the mystery of Ray Fella vs Ray Bullen. Also, the logbook would clarify this, assuming Bullen was an aircraft captain, not a second pilot. Even then, some logbooks list 2nd pilots. But, anyway, the logbook should have the name of the skipper of any flight Roy was on, with the date.

    Unless I do succeed in getting the diary or the logbook (and I know that I have no inalienable right to see such personal info), I must not mention Ray Fella or Ray Bullen in the edited memoir I'm working on. No big deal, really, but it would be nice IF it turned out to be Ray Bullen, as I suspect, because I could add some factually-correct info about Ray's fate in an AFTU Amarda Road aerial collision between two Liberators on 26 July 1945, after Ray had earned a DFC with 358 Squadron.

    Oh well...Your info is very helpful, even though the 1673 HCU ORB is not the goldmine it could have been. Now we know, and there are a few interesting tidbits in there that have great value to me. In fact, I'm sharing excerpts with the families of at least three men mentioned in the ORB. Many thanks for your kind efforts and sharp eyes!

    What I've done so far in editing/revising/expanding Roy Andrews' memoir is very satisfying, and I am a stickler for accuracy. It's just that I sure could use a little more cooperation from the family. The son runs a business, and he said he has no time -- so that makes perfect sense, but he only told me this after I'd written four emails. Had I known earlier, I wouldn't have wasted his or my time. The fact that I haven't even received an email reply from the daughter is very frustrating; the son gave me his sister's email address, and I have no snail mail address or phone number or surname. To learn that, say, there is no logbook, the diary is missing, and there are no photos in the children's possession would be valuable info, as then I would stop wasting my time trying to acquire the impossible. And then my publishing options would slightly change.

    Par for the course, perhaps, because these folks we focus upon are mostly gone now, so we can't ask them for clarification, and their families sometimes don't care enough about the past or don't have any time to help. Beggars can't be choosers, and I'll make the most with what I have!

    Cheers,

    Matt
    Last edited by Matt Poole; 23rd February 2020 at 17:28.

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    Hello Matt,

    A frustrating update, I share your pain! Still, maybe with patience something from the family will turn up...

    It's difficult to fit the diary with the information from 1673's ORB. And strange that Andrews makes no mention of either being on the Ex 'Echo' flight (arguably you would think the most 'exciting' or significant event of his training so far in India), or not being on it! But, without a logbook we are rather lost.

    My main argument against 'Ray Fella' being Ray Bullen is around rank. Andrews says he shared a room with this individual and Andrews is clearly an officer by that stage. It's inconceivable that an officer and an NCO would share a room; I don't know when Ray Bullen was commissioned but your earlier post on here suggests he was F/Sgt, trying to assemble a crew, in September 1944. That suggests to me he hadn't been at Kolar for very long. I don't have all the early 358 Squadron ORB files from Kew, but will get hold of my missing records when I go next. Bullen certainly wasn't on the 13 January 1945 bombing raid on Mandalay, but it would be interesting to see if he starts SD ops as a captain or second pilot.

    Geoff

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    Hi, Geoff,

    Valuable observation you made -- regarding rank differences. First thing I did is find confirmation in Roy Andrews' original written words that this mystery "Ray Fella" pilot was in a billet with Roy, as you said; I'd already forgotten that tidbit. Yes, Roy wrote, "...Ray Fella, my first skipper to be, with whom I shared a room for a while,..." I think you are correct --in theory, that is -- that an officer (Roy) would not have shared sleeping quarters with an NCO (Bullen). The exception, I suppose, could -- again, in theory -- be if the facilities were scarce/primitive and, by necessity, Roy and Ray had temporarily shared sleeping quarters, and Roy approved of the arrangement. I just don't think 1673 HCU was like that.

    I now have Roy Andrews' RAAF personnel file. Key promotions:

    He was commissioned as a pilot officer on 19 August 1943.
    Flying officer - 19 February 1944
    Flight lieutenant - 19 August 1945.

    Clearly, he was an officer when on 1673 HCU.

    I have a copy of Ray Bullen's RNZAF service record, showing these promotion dates:

    F/Sgt - 5 Dec 1943
    Warrant officer - 5 December 1944
    Pilot officer - 5 April 1945

    Clearly, he was but a mere flight sergeant when he was on 1673 HCU, when Roy Andrews was there.

    And the wording for Ray B's DFC citation states that he was a pilot officer. I have in my records that the DFC was announced in the London Gazette issue of 2 October '45, posthumously. (Jagan's wonderful database of DFC awards agrees with this.)

    There is a probable rank mistake in the 358 Sqn ORB for Ray Bullen, but this is typical, really. 358 had flown its first op, and its only regular bombing op, on 13 January 1945, but Ray and his crew were not on that op. The second 358 Sqn op was their first Special Duties flight, dated 22-23 January 1945. Ray was listed as SECOND PILOT and at the rank of flight sergeant -- though officially he'd been promoted to warrant officer on 5 December 1944. Then, on Ray's next op, on 25-26 January '45, he was again SECOND PILOT, and again erroneously listed at the rank of flight sergeant. By his third op, on 29-30 January '45, he was CAPTAIN of his crew, but still listed as a flight sergeant.

    So, then, he started off ops as a second pilot, and he wasn't an officer.

    Was Roy Andrews ever on the crew with Ray Bullen as skipper? It is possible that he had been briefly part of the Bullen crew. Roy does write, erroneously, that "Ray Fella" died of cholera, when we known that Ray Bullen died in an air accident, but much later in July '45, and that there was no Ray Fella casualty. That misinformation can simply be a faulty memory on the part of Roy Andrews when he wrote down his recollections decades after the fact. In other words, Roy A. remembered that "Ray Fella" did die, but Roy got the man's name wrong, the cause of death wrong, and the timing of the death wrong. Maybe, like a lot of pilots, Ray Bullen was listed as a Liberator aircraft captain at the beginning of his 1673 HCU tenure, but the instructors at 1673 HCU saw that he needed time to develop into a captain. Thus, it is possible that at first Roy Andrews was, indeed, on the crew of Ray Bullen. Then, for reasons that are not explained in his writing, but that we inferred might be because he preferred the seasoned pilot Reg Grouse -- a friend and fellow officer -- as his skipper, he won a transfer to Reg's crew.

    I knew someone who flew operationally with Ray Bullen as his captain on 358 Sqn, and he firmly maintained that Ray was a top-notch pilot and leader. This man took offense at a comment by another airman who said in the late 1990s that Ray Bullen had difficulty with formation flying, countering that negative claim by adamantly insisting that it was NOT true! And, after all, Ray B. did receive a DFC, so he must have either learned quickly, or he was good from the start.

    Yep, maybe I'll eventually hear from the sister, and if that diary or logbook do materials, what a plus one, or both, would be. Gotta get the photos, more than anything else, though.

    Thanks for your insight, Geoff,

    Matt

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    Er...um...let me correct that final sentence:

    Yep, maybe I'll eventually hear from the sister, and if that diary or logbook does materialize, what a plus it (or both) would be. Gotta get the photos, more than anything else, though.

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