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Thread: Flt Lt H. J. Prior, RAF Liaison Officer att American Graves Registration Commd 1949

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    Default Flt Lt H. J. Prior, RAF Liaison Officer att American Graves Registration Commd 1949

    Together with a colleague I am researching the fate of the crew of a Lancaster of 101 Squadron which was shot down in January 1944. The crew’s names are on the Runnymede Memorial to the Missing.


    When attempts were made post war to try to locate and identify the crew, the above officer was attached to the AGRC as the Liaison Officer from No. 4 Missing Research and Enquiries Unit. I understand that he may well have served in an aircrew capacity during the war, and in order to make the story more complete I would like to find out if this was the case.


    So far I have been unable to find out anything at all about him, and would be grateful of any advice or suggestions anyone might have to identify this man?


    Kind regards


    Malcolm

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    Default Re: Flt Lt H. J. Prior, RAF Liaison Officer att American Graves Registration Commd 19

    Probably Harold Jack PRIOR (59340)


    Flying Officer to Flight Lieutenant H. J. PRIOR ( 59340) 14th Jan. 1948

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    Default Re: Flt Lt H. J. Prior, RAF Liaison Officer att American Graves Registration Commd 19

    Quote Originally Posted by paulmcmillan View Post
    Probably Harold Jack PRIOR (59340)


    Flying Officer to Flight Lieutenant H. J. PRIOR ( 59340) 14th Jan. 1948

    Thank you for this - marvelous how quickly someone with 'The Knowledge' can come up with the facts! Certainly gives me something to work with, and I'm very grateful.

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    Default Re: Flt Lt H. J. Prior, RAF Liaison Officer att American Graves Registration Commd 19

    There’s a few ‘hits’ on him in the LG, FREEBMD, and Google.
    Haven’t checked but I suspect he was Harold Jack Prior:
    b. Q1 1907 Reg Hendon 3a 253
    d. Q3 1970 Reg St.Pancras 5d 1876 (gives b. as 17 Feb 1908, so needs checking)
    There are a number of Harold J Prior’s married in the time scale but no idea which is which without further research.
    Some genealogical excavation needed!!!!
    HTH
    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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    Default Re: Flt Lt H. J. Prior, RAF Liaison Officer att American Graves Registration Commd 19

    Quote Originally Posted by Resmoroh View Post
    There’s a few ‘hits’ on him in the LG, FREEBMD, and Google.
    Haven’t checked but I suspect he was Harold Jack Prior:
    b. Q1 1907 Reg Hendon 3a 253
    d. Q3 1970 Reg St.Pancras 5d 1876 (gives b. as 17 Feb 1908, so needs checking)
    There are a number of Harold J Prior’s married in the time scale but no idea which is which without further research.
    Some genealogical excavation needed!!!!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Indeed it does, Peter! Now I've got a name and a dob/dod to work with it makes it much easier to stat digging. I've found the LG entries, and will now start on his genealogy. Many thanks for the input.
    KR
    Malcolm

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    Default Re: Flt Lt H. J. Prior, RAF Liaison Officer att American Graves Registration Commd 19

    Malcolm,

    It is also possible that the man you are looking for was NZ427317 Harold Jack Prior.

    AC2 appointed temporary Pilot Officer 6 January 1943; transferred from the Administration and Special Duties Branch to General Duties Branch as Wireless Operator 14 July 1944; promoted temporary Flying Officer 14 January 1945. Hopefully, Errol has more on him.

    b. Dannevirke NZ 14 July 1911 d. Aix-en-Provence, France 11 May 1982

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Default Re: Flt Lt H. J. Prior, RAF Liaison Officer att American Graves Registration Commd 19

    I believe Harold Jack PRIOR NZ427317 RNZAF and Harold Jack PRIOR 59340 RAF are one and the same person.

    I think he transferred into the RAF after the war.

    His initial entry in the London Gazette reads for his appointment as a Flying Officer
    "Harold Jack PRIOR (59340). 1st July 1947(seniority 6th Jan. 1944) (and is granted the rankof Flight Lieutenant (war substantive) (seniority 14th July 1946) on appointment)"
    which clearly suggests service elsewhere prior to 1st July 1947.
    Searches on other names within the gazette who where granted F/Lt rank, on the same page, ie Desmond Joseph MARTIN and Raymond William ROLFE were also ex-RNZAF

    Chris

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    Default Re: Flt Lt H. J. Prior, RAF Liaison Officer att American Graves Registration Commd 19

    A New Zealand newspaper article from the Evening Star dated 30th January 1947 reads,
    "NEW ZEALAND AIRMENSHOT DOWN OVER EUROPE
    TASK OF TRACING NOT COMPLETE
    (From A. W. Mitchell, N.Z.P.A Special Correspondent.)
    LONDON, January 29. “ Every' effort is being made to make sure that, no New Zealanders who were shot down over Europe will lie in unidentified graves,” said Air Commodore M. W. Buckley, A.0.C., at R.N.Z.A.F. headquarters, London, who recently visited all R.A.F. missing research and inquiry unit. on the Continent. “ All the search teams are manned by conscientious, painstaking officers who are determined to make exhaustive inquiries to locate and identify missing airmen. Air Commodore Buckley learned from Air Marshal Sir Philip Wigglesworth, A.O.C. in command of British Air Forces of Occupation,, and from R.N.Z.A.F. personnel engaged on search duties, of , the very difficult task of finding and identifying missing men throughout the war. “There has been a great movement of population on the Continent,” said Air Commodore Buckley, “ and although it is often possible to establish that an aircraft crashed in the vicinity of a particular town or village, it is difficult to find witnesses who can remember often five or six years back, and provide details of where an aircraft fell and where bodies are buried. “ Many aircraft of course, crashed in wild, broken country and were never seen to fall. They have now become completely overgrown and it is certain that some will never be found. The greater proportion of missing aircraft fell in the sea and in most cases no news can be expected by next-of-kin regarding the fate of the men who met their death, in this way. NO HOPE OF ANY SURVIVORS. “ Two major points which emerge from the study of, the work being done are—first, there is no likelihood of any personnel still missing being found alive; secondly, it is probable that, although only a proportion of the bodies of missing personnel found will be' identified, it will be a substantial proportion, and it is likely that all these will be identified and interred in a military, cemetery this year.” The cemeteries where New Zealanders are interred and which were visited by Air Commodore Buckley were . _ Gravelund, Esbjerg and Aabrenaa, in Jutland, and Svino, in Denmark; Kiel, Hamburg, Soltan, Rheinbilrg, and Reichwald Forest, m Germany; Maargraten in Holland; Antwerp, in Belgium; and Cambrai, and St. Opier, in France. “ The Imperial War Graves Commission intends to leave the casualties in local cemeteries where they were originally interred, and where such cemeteries- are in Allied territory and under the care of Allied Powers,” said Air Commodore Buckley, “ Personnel interred in . Germany, however, are being Amoved to British military cemeteries in Germany, where the cemeteries are under the commission’s care. This work of concentrating personnel in British cemeteries is a difficult task, and it will be some months before all the bodies are moved and before the headstones are erected and roads and pathways laid. ,
    NO- IMMEDIATE VISITS. “ For this reason, the action of the Imperial War Graves Commission .in discouraging visits by next of kin until all cemeteries are completed and properly laid out, is , strongly supported. Apart from the difficulties of accommodation and travel on the Continent, the working parties would be seriously disturbed by the presence of visitors, and their work should be completed before next of kin are encouraged to make visits. As soon as this work is completed, the public' will be free to pay visits, but meanwhile they must exercise patience.” Air Commodore Buckley added, that in order to ensure that the interests of the New Zealand next of kin are safeguarded, and their many, inquiries investigated, arrangements' will be made to attach to search units a team of R.N.Z.A.F. officers. They are Squadron-leader W. G. Birnie, of Ashburton. Flight-lieutenants H. J. Prior, of Hastings, L. M. Bailey, of Hawera, R. J. Hodgson, of Wellington, and C. E. Baxter, of Waimate.

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    Default Re: Flt Lt H. J. Prior, RAF Liaison Officer att American Graves Registration Commd 19

    Quote Originally Posted by alieneyes View Post
    Malcolm,

    It is also possible that the man you are looking for was NZ427317 Harold Jack Prior.

    AC2 appointed temporary Pilot Officer 6 January 1943; transferred from the Administration and Special Duties Branch to General Duties Branch as Wireless Operator 14 July 1944; promoted temporary Flying Officer 14 January 1945. Hopefully, Errol has more on him.

    b. Dannevirke NZ 14 July 1911 d. Aix-en-Provence, France 11 May 1982

    Regards,

    Dave

    Thank you, Dave.
    I came across this man last night while browsing on the i-Phone and wondered if he was the man! (This research game can - and has in my case - become an obsession!)
    And thanks also to Dave and Chris for the info in their posts I'm happy now that he is.
    ATB
    Malcolm

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    Default Re: Flt Lt H. J. Prior, RAF Liaison Officer att American Graves Registration Commd 19

    Quote Originally Posted by cozzy711 View Post
    I believe Harold Jack PRIOR NZ427317 RNZAF and Harold Jack PRIOR 59340 RAF are one and the same person.

    I think he transferred into the RAF after the war.

    His initial entry in the London Gazette reads for his appointment as a Flying Officer
    "Harold Jack PRIOR (59340). 1st July 1947(seniority 6th Jan. 1944) (and is granted the rank of Flight Lieutenant (war substantive) (seniority 14th July 1946) on appointment)"
    which clearly suggests service elsewhere prior to 1st July 1947.
    Searches on other names within the gazette who where granted F/Lt rank, on the same page, ie Desmond Joseph MARTIN and Raymond William ROLFE were also ex-RNZAF

    Chris

    Thank you, Chris - I agree with your findings and am very grateful for the information in both of your posts. Certainly got lots to work with now. His very detailed reports suggest he had a good understanding of what had happened to the crew's remains, and I was curious as to his background. So it appears he may have been a W/Op and also a very competent officer post-war.

    Your input is much appreciated.
    KR
    Malcolm
    Last edited by malcwayland; 23rd September 2021 at 09:23. Reason: Corrected error!

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