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

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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
    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
    and Cambrai, and St. Opier, in France. “ .
    Second french town is St Omer (OCR issue here I presume). The R.N.Z.A.F. case investigated there was most probably P/O T.T. FOX KIA 4th April 1942, whose grave was "lost" within St Omer-Longuenesse souvenir cemetery, and the grave suggested was not accepted by the R.N.Z.A.F. officials, hence the grave marker is a memorial type "C" (believed buried near this spot).

    Only two R.N.Z.A.F. graves in Cambrai (route de Solesmes) : F/Sgt S.S. VINICOMBE KIA 8/9 March 1943 and F/O K.T. ESTCOURT, KIA 29/30 May 1943.

    Joss

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

    Quote Originally Posted by jossleclercq View Post
    Second french town is St Omer (OCR issue here I presume). The R.N.Z.A.F. case investigated there was most probably P/O T.T. FOX KIA 4th April 1942, whose grave was "lost" within St Omer-Longuenesse souvenir cemetery, and the grave suggested was not accepted by the R.N.Z.A.F. officials, hence the grave marker is a memorial type "C" (believed buried near this spot).

    Only two R.N.Z.A.F. graves in Cambrai (route de Solesmes) : F/Sgt S.S. VINICOMBE KIA 8/9 March 1943 and F/O K.T. ESTCOURT, KIA 29/30 May 1943.

    Joss
    Thanks, Joss - all much appreciated.
    KR
    Malcolm

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

    Thanks largely to the information provided by forum members I have now been able to establish the following timeline:


    14 Jul 1911 Born Dannevirke, New Zealand.


    1935 Married Elsie Robina Hynd Mitchell Gibb. (They had one daughter, Valerie. The marriage must have been dissolved at some point as later Elsie re-married.)


    Before 6 Jan 1943 Enlisted RNZAF as AC2 NZ427317


    6 Jan 1943 Granted temporary commission rank of Pilot Officer 6th January 1943 in Administration and Special Duties Branch (ASD)


    20 Feb 1944 RNZAF P/O living Calgary, Alberta - visited US 10 days with friends.


    14 Jul 1944 Transferred from ASD to General Duties Branch as Wireless Operator/Air Gunner in the rank of Pilot Officer upon completing Course 1: Class 82; RCAF 2 Wireless School, Calgary.
    (Also attended RCAF 7 Bombing & Gunnery School, Paulson, Manitoba and RCAF 1 Central Navigation School, Rivers, Manitoba.)


    14 Jan 1945 Promoted to Flying Officer (Temp)


    14 Jan 1946 Promoted to Flight Lieutenant (War Substantive) - Gazetted 16 Dec 1947


    29 Jan 1947 Attached to MRES. (Newspaper report - Air Commodore M. W. Buckley, A.0.C., R.N.Z.A.F. headquarters, London, having recently visited all R.A.F. missing research and inquiry units on the Continent, said –
    “ In order to ensure that the interests of the New Zealand next of kin are safeguarded …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…”

    1 Jul 1947 Transferred to RAF. Appointed commission as Flying Officer, extended service (4 years on the active list); allocated Service Number 59340 with seniority 6th January 1944 and granted the rank of Flight Lieutenant (war substantive) on appointment with seniority
    14th July 1946. The dates of seniority within the RAF take account of his RNZAF service.

    14 Jul 1950 Appointed Flt Lt (Permanent) and transferred to Aircraft Control Branch, w.e.f March 1951


    11 May 1992 Died Aix-En-Provence, Bouches-Du-Rhone, France.


    Seems he was in one of the contingents sent to Canada as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, but I don’t know when. Although he qualified as a W Op/AG in July 1944 I am still unaware if he actually flew in that capacity and if so with which squadron. Any more suggestions, please, or can you add anything else regarding the above? As always, any help and guidance truly appreciated.
    Malcolm

    NOTE: Original post edited thanks to input from cozzy711
    Last edited by malcwayland; 26th September 2021 at 08:50. Reason: OP corrected after input from cozzy711

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

    Quote Originally Posted by malcwayland View Post

    6 Jan 1943 Formerly AC2 NZ427317 now commissioned as 59340 Pilot Officer (Temp)

    14 Jan 1945 Promoted Flying Officer (Temp)

    14 July 1946 Promoted Flight Lieutenant (War Substantive) - Gazetted 16 Dec 1947
    H J Prior remained with RNZAF until he transferred to the RAF on 1st July 1947 so his service to that point should read

    AC2 Harold Jack PRIOR NZ427317 granted temporary commission rank of Pilot Officer 6th January 1943 in Administration and Special Duties Branch
    Transferred from ASD branch to G.D. Branch 14th July 1944 as Wireless Operator/Air Gunner in rank of Pilot Officer
    Promoted to Flying Officer (temp) 14th January 1945
    Promoted to Flight Lieutenant 14th January 1946
    January 1947 attached to MRES
    Appointed a commission as Flying Officer extended service (4 years on the active list) 1st July 1947 in the RAF allocated service number 59340 with seniority 6th January 1944, and granted the rank of Flight Lieutenant (war substantive) on appointment with seniority 14th July 1946.
    The dates of seniority within the RAF take into account his RNZAF service.

    I hope this helps

    Chris

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    malcwayland (26th September 2021)

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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
    H J Prior remained with RNZAF until he transferred to the RAF on 1st July 1947 so his service to that point should read

    AC2 Harold Jack PRIOR NZ427317 granted temporary commission rank of Pilot Officer 6th January 1943 in Administration and Special Duties Branch
    Transferred from ASD branch to G.D. Branch 14th July 1944 as Wireless Operator/Air Gunner in rank of Pilot Officer
    Promoted to Flying Officer (temp) 14th January 1945
    Promoted to Flight Lieutenant 14th January 1946
    January 1947 attached to MRES
    Appointed a commission as Flying Officer extended service (4 years on the active list) 1st July 1947 in the RAF allocated service number 59340 with seniority 6th January 1944, and granted the rank of Flight Lieutenant (war substantive) on appointment with seniority 14th July 1946.
    The dates of seniority within the RAF take into account his RNZAF service.

    I hope this helps

    Chris
    Indeed it does, Chris - Many thanks for clarifying it and for improving my understanding of Harold Jack Prior's service with the RNZAF/RAF, and I hope the editing of my original post correctly incorporates your observations.

    Hoping now someone will be able to shed some light as to whether or not he ever flew as WOP/AG!

    KR
    Malcolm

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

    Please note, anybody accepted for aircrew training under the British Commonwealth wartime system of training, would have to attain the minimum classification of LAC to gain entry to Initial Training Wing, the first step in the long march to final graduation! Also the full version of the RNZAF's A&SD Branch was Administrative and Special Duties Branch; was the RAF's Branch the same?

    H J Prior embarked NZ (Auckland) per URUGUAY on 12/10/43 bound for Los Angeles, disembarked and attached to RCAF w.e.f. 26/10/43, thence to Canada (usually be rail) for his advanced training as W/Op A/G. Do not have any details of his training in Canada at this stage (adequately covered by Malcwayland above), but his transfer from A&SD Branch to GD Branch dated 14/7/44 signals his graduation from the course without question. Most of the other W/Op A/G trainees from this shipment to Canada (if from the same, earlier courses in NZ) would have also graduated on this date, whether they were lucky enough to have been A&SD officers like Prior (who held this rank due to his having been serving as a NZ Army officer when he volunteered for aircrew training), with almost all other trainees being mere LAC's. A few W/Opr A/G trainees failed to complete the Wireless Operator stage of the training, so were transferred to the Air Gunner stage and would graduate as "straight" air gunners, without ever bothering to think about radio theory again; others could be returned to New Zealand (as broken men!) so could be discharged, or transfer to the Army, or remain with RNZAF and volunteer for further service in a technical or other ground trade.

    I have a few details of his later career, which do not exactly agree with those already posted on this thread, but we are definitely talking about the same man! It is possible that he might have made it to an operational squadron for aircrew duties by May 1945, but I would say unlikely, the problem being the oversupply of aircrew graduates choking up the more advanced training of aircrew in the UK which was entirely due to the belief that aircrew casualties leading up to D-Day and beyond would be very heavy, but fortunately for the Allies, this turned out not to be the case. The OTUs, for instance, had their courses booked up for months ahead, and all the qualified, but idle graduated aircrew milling around in the UK by this stage had to fill in the weeks and months before they could start on their advanced training, by being posted on extended leave, while normally overseas domiciled personnel (RCAF, RAAF, RNZAF for example) also being granted generous leave, and advised to tour the UK and see the sights as best they could on the rail system, or "discover" their long-lost relatives in the UK (if they had any!)

    "My" details of latter stages of H J Prior's service in UK.

    Ceased attachment to RAF w.e.f. 20/2/47, posted to RNZAF London HQ for Librarian Duties with the Missing Personnel Enquiry Service (should read Missing Research & Enquiry Service). He relinquished his RNZAF Temporary Commission in the UK w.e.f. 30/9/47, and was discharged on 1/10/47. He was granted 91 days leave commencing 1/10/47. This clashes somewhat with Cozzy 711's account, although I cannot really explain this; however looks as though he was getting some long overdue extra leave in between his career in the RNZAF (but attached to RAF), then with RNZAF HQ in London (but possibly travelling in Europe), then transfer to RAF.

    David D
    Last edited by David Duxbury; 26th September 2021 at 23:54.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by David Duxbury View Post
    Please note, anybody accepted for aircrew training under the British Commonwealth wartime system of training, would have to attain the minimum classification of LAC to gain entry to Initial Training Wing, the first step in the long march to final graduation! Also the full version of the RNZAF's A&SD Branch was Administrative and Special Duties Branch; was the RAF's Branch the same?

    H J Prior embarked NZ (Auckland) per URUGUAY on 12/10/43 bound for Los Angeles, disembarked and attached to RCAF w.e.f. 26/10/43, thence to Canada (usually be rail) for his advanced training as W/Op A/G. Do not have any details of his training in Canada at this stage (adequately covered by Malcwayland above), but his transfer from A&SD Branch to GD Branch dated 14/7/44 signals his graduation from the course without question. Most of the other W/Op A/G trainees from this shipment to Canada (if from the same, earlier courses in NZ) would have also graduated on this date, whether they were lucky enough to have been A&SD officers like Prior (who held this rank due to his having been serving as a NZ Army officer when he volunteered for aircrew training), with almost all other trainees being mere LAC's. A few W/Opr A/G trainees failed to complete the Wireless Operator stage of the training, so were transferred to the Air Gunner stage and would graduate as "straight" air gunners, without ever bothering to think about radio theory again; others could be returned to New Zealand (as broken men!) so could be discharged, or transfer to the Army, or remain with RNZAF and volunteer for further service in a technical or other ground trade.

    I have a few details of his later career, which do not exactly agree with those already posted on this thread, but we are definitely talking about the same man! It is possible that he might have made it to an operational squadron for aircrew duties by May 1945, but I would say unlikely, the problem being the oversupply of aircrew graduates choking up the more advanced training of aircrew in the UK which was entirely due to the belief that aircrew casualties leading up to D-Day and beyond would be very heavy, but fortunately for the Allies, this turned out not to be the case. The OTUs, for instance, had their courses booked up for months ahead, and all the qualified, but idle graduated aircrew milling around in the UK by this stage had to fill in the weeks and months before they could start on their advanced training, by being posted on extended leave, while normally overseas domiciled personnel (RCAF, RAAF, RNZAF for example) also being granted generous leave, and advised to tour the UK and see the sights as best they could on the rail system, or "discover" their long-lost relatives in the UK (if they had any!)

    "My" details of latter stages of H J Prior's service in UK.

    Ceased attachment to RAF w.e.f. 20/2/47, posted to RNZAF London HQ for Librarian Duties with the Missing Personnel Enquiry Service (should read Missing Research & Enquiry Service). He relinquished his RNZAF Temporary Commission in the UK w.e.f. 30/9/47, and was discharged on 1/10/47. He was granted 91 days leave commencing 1/10/47. This clashes somewhat with Cozzy 711's account, although I cannot really explain this; however looks as though he was getting some long overdue extra leave in between his career in the RNZAF (but attached to RAF), then with RNZAF HQ in London (but possibly travelling in Europe), then transfer to RAF.

    David D

    Thank you, David. Your in-depth response is most welcome, and once again I am very impressed with the knowledge available here on ‘Commands’ and the readiness with which it is shared. While in your reply I think you have clearly demonstrated that he would not have flown as a WOp/AG, you did very casually drop in the fact that he was formerly an Army Officer, which I was completely unaware of! Do you happen to know when he enlisted and in what capacity he was serving when he decided to change Arms?

    I can’t explain the apparent anomalies between your version of his latter service career and that of Chris (cozzy711) but I do know that in 1949 he was in Paris, attached to the USGRC as a 4 MREU RAF liaison officer who in June was involved in exchanges between the Ministry, the Berlin Detachment of MRES and the Americans regarding the loss of LM387, which is of particular interest to my co-researcher and myself! He certainly seems to have had a clearer understanding of this particular crew’s fate than anyone else.

    I suspect that his so-called ‘Librarian Duties’ with MRES were in fact rather more hands-on and your “possibly travelling in Europe” remark made me smile - almost certainly true!

    My thanks, again, David.

    Malcolm
    (Malcwayland)

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

    Malcolm,
    Have been doing some further investigation into H J Prior, and have some confessions to make. On checking the NZ Gazette just now have found that he was indeed appointed to an RNZAF commission in A&SD Branch in rank of P/O straight from classification of AC2 (lowliest rung in the Air Force ladder), but so far as I can see he had NEVER previously served as a NZ Army officer. Previously I did not have free access to some of my reference notes (because I could not find them!), and also was unable to check further into the records because the local Archives were not accessible, but that has all changed now, and I hope to get a look at the latter later this week, which should be highly enlightening. Sorry for my (ill founded) leaps of faith, and hope to soon have some better facts available on this matter before the week is out. It is still rather strange that an AC2 could be appointed directly to a commission, but this can happen occasionally; usually possession of a university degree can do it, but in that case they would normally be taken on as an officer in the first place. Eagerly looking forward to solving this riddle. Still think it unlikely that he ever got operational for the reasons I stated earlier (aircrew glut in UK), but I could yet be made to look like a monkey - again!
    David D

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

    Quote Originally Posted by David Duxbury View Post
    Malcolm,
    Have been doing some further investigation into H J Prior, and have some confessions to make. On checking the NZ Gazette just now have found that he was indeed appointed to an RNZAF commission in A&SD Branch in rank of P/O straight from classification of AC2 (lowliest rung in the Air Force ladder), but so far as I can see he had NEVER previously served as a NZ Army officer. Previously I did not have free access to some of my reference notes (because I could not find them!), and also was unable to check further into the records because the local Archives were not accessible, but that has all changed now, and I hope to get a look at the latter later this week, which should be highly enlightening. Sorry for my (ill founded) leaps of faith, and hope to soon have some better facts available on this matter before the week is out. It is still rather strange that an AC2 could be appointed directly to a commission, but this can happen occasionally; usually possession of a university degree can do it, but in that case they would normally be taken on as an officer in the first place. Eagerly looking forward to solving this riddle. Still think it unlikely that he ever got operational for the reasons I stated earlier (aircrew glut in UK), but I could yet be made to look like a monkey - again!
    David D

    David,
    No apology necessary and I understand completely the temporary forgetting of where one's notes are - happens to me all the time! I do have a copy of the NZ Gazette entry of Prior's original commission into the ASD, but because there are several other A.C.2's also being commissioned on the same notice thought nothing of it.

    Have done a little more reading about the aircrew glut you brought to my attention and am more convinced than ever he would never have become operational so that is that line of inquiry finished.

    Certainly haven't seen any monkeys on "Commands" - though there is one in my study, for sure!

    Malcolm

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