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Thread: No.37 Squadron Expert Sought - Robert Frank Lavack DFM

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    Default No.37 Squadron Expert Sought - Robert Frank Lavack DFM

    I have recently been apprised of information (apparently available in 2006) regarding this man which leads me to modify an awards data base entry and to seek further information. In a 2006 letter he composed to RAF Records (asserting that reports of his demise in 1943 were exaggerated), he made the following statement: “Near the end of my second tour I had a series of operational misfortunes. On a raid over Czechoslovakia my navigator was badly wounded and the bomb aimer received superficial facial wounds. I can’t be precise about anything that happened during the remainder of that tour because my aircraft exploded and disintegrated on landing at Foggia, Italy after a raid on Sarajevo. This killed several members of the crew and left me with minor wounds, and with what was diagnosed years later as a memory related mental condition. I continued flying without delay with a new crew except for the original rear gunner who also survived the explosion. The ‘back to ops’ was considered the best rehabilitation at that time.” This would probably have been in 1944.

    Pray tell, can anyone provide me with the date of this crash and any other details (aircraft serial, battle damage, other crew members) ? Or when he may have reported in and then been posted out ? His DFM (again for services in No.37 Squadron) was gazetted 28 September 1943 and the recommendation (found by Ian Tavender) cited incidents between 20 May and 13 August 1943.

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    Default Re: No.37 Squadron Expert Sought - Robert Frank Lavack DFM

    Hi Hugh, not an expert on No. 37 Squadron but as far as I was able to find the Foggia airfield has been seized by the allies only on 27th September 1943 so it does not fit to the story from my point of view... But he can mistaken the airfield for another one...

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    Default Re: No.37 Squadron Expert Sought - Robert Frank Lavack DFM

    Hi,

    https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...ils/r/D8411274

    1944-11-07 Wellington LP603, target Sarajevo

    A/c lost on landing explosion and fire. P/O Rogers and F/S Trewick died from injuries sustained; W/O White and F/S Docherty injured and (?)ined in hospital.

    Regards

    Mojmir

    PS:

    https://www.rcafassociation.ca/herit...ach-to-levitt/

    LAVACK, ROBERT FRANK P/O(P) 1027207 D.F.M. – Royal Air Force. From Vancouver, British Columbia. Killed In Action Sep.20/43 age 22. #37 Squadron (Wise Without Eyes). Wellington aircraft did not return to base. P/O. Lavack had flown Kittyhawk aircraft with #112 Squadron in 1942. Pilot Officer Pilot Lavack is buried at Tunisia, Africa.

    ???
    Last edited by vrajm; 24th November 2021 at 20:44.

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    Default Re: No.37 Squadron Expert Sought - Robert Frank Lavack DFM

    Hi Hugh,
    F/Sgt R. F. Lavack as captain in the ORB starting June 1943

    - no crash in June 1943 ORB RAF Form 541
    - no crash in July 1943 ORB RAF Form 541
    - no crash in August 1943 ORB RAF Form 541, the last operation this month:

    19/20.8.43 HE607/B Marshalling yard Foggia
    9x500 (6 delays) No results seen

    So there is mention of "Foggia" but as target only. There is nothing more mentioned in August 1943 ORB RAF Form 541 and nothing in August 1943 ORB RAF Form 540.

    I suppose you have seen this old post:
    http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/sho...4672#post24672

    The final part loks like a transport flitghts after end of the tour:

    From Dads Log Book, F/Sgt Lavack Pilot.
    22/8/43 0700 HE607 Kairouan - Castel Benito
    22/8/43 0930 " Castel Benito - Marble Arch - Benina
    22/8/43 1400 " Benina - El Adem
    23/8/43 1000 " El Adem - Heliopolis - Cairo.

    Not much helpful for your research I am afraid.

    My guess is that he may have a crash later in 1943/1944 as an instructor (?) as it is stated in the older post: "Lavack, Manns and Fairburn remain in the M.E. for Instruction Duties"

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    Default Re: No.37 Squadron Expert Sought - Robert Frank Lavack DFM

    Mojmir has beaten me with the info you are looking for:-)
    Well done Mojmir!

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    Default Re: No.37 Squadron Expert Sought - Robert Frank Lavack DFM

    Hugh,

    A bit more detail on the raid, and its consequences:

    7 Nov 1944
    37 Sqn
    Wellington X LP603 "R"
    Op: Sarajevo

    Took off 1409, Foggia No.2/Tortorella, detailed to attack the marshalling yards at Sarajevo. On return the aircraft exploded on touchdown., presumably because of a bomb hang up. P/O Rogers was killed and F/Sgt Trewick died of injuries on the 12th. Both are buried in Bari War Cemetery. W/O White and F/Sgt Docherty were seriously injured.

    F/O R F Lavack
    F/Sgt J E Trewick +
    W/O L A Stanford
    W/O J D White - Inj
    F/Sgt J M Docherty - Inj
    F/O K R Rogers+

    See:
    Royal Air Force Bomber Losses in the Middle East and Mediterranean Vol.2: 1943-1945
    Gunby,David & Pelham Temple
    Tonbridge:Air-Britain(Historians), 2018.
    p.179

    See also: http://natureonline.com/37/42-op31.html

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 24th November 2021 at 22:40.

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    Default Re: No.37 Squadron Expert Sought - Robert Frank Lavack DFM

    My thanks for these replies, which were so detailed and so prompt. The Lavack story has indeed been muddied by a book published in 1978, “Canadians in the RAF” by the late Les Allison. Although aware of many errors, I used it some 20 years later when starting my compilation of Canadian aerial honours and awards. Allison was, of course, the compiler of “They Shall Not Grow Old”, published in 1992 - and his errors regarding Lavack starting with the first book were repeated in the second. On-line sources (including my own data bases) have since repeated mistakes.

    The most glaring error (if I had looked carefully 20 years ago) was the statement that Lavack had been killed in action in September 1943. There is, in fact, no record of this with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. It took him several years to learn of his “demise” which led to his writing to RAF Records, 9 September 2006, asserting that he was indeed alive. I am indebted to David Champion who provided me with a copy of his letter. It may be seen via chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/viewer.html?pdfurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.norvalmorrisse au.com%2FRobert_Lavack%2FRobert_Lavack_Document_2. pdf&clen=4611151&chunk=true.

    I have no idea how Allison formed the notion that Lavack had been killed. He also asserted that Lavack had earlier flown Kittyhawks with No.112 Squadron, a statement I now regard as suspect.

    There is a cautionary lesson to be learned from this, and one I learned long ago - be careful when using Allison’s first book. Indeed, at the time he produced “Canadians in the RAF”, he sent me a complimentary copy. On a quick perusal, I sent it back to him, given his negative opinions about French-Canadians and his apparent admiration of an unidentified pilot who claimed that he had volunteered from a POW camp to have flown with the Luftwaffe on the Russian front. I wrote him that his book was unworthy of his subject. I subsequently met Allison once at the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum (Brandon, Manitoba); the gentleman who introduced us must have been puzzled that we pointedly did not shake hands.

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    Default Re: No.37 Squadron Expert Sought - Robert Frank Lavack DFM

    Hugh,

    Re: Canadians in the Royal Air Force.

    About fifteen years ago I bought up a collection of books, amongst them was a copy of Les Allison's, Canadians in the Royal Air Force. What attracted me to Allison's book, and a few others in the collection (most of which have been disposed of), was the fact that some were personally dedicated to the previous owner. This bloke's name was Phillip Butler. The dedication in Allison's book reads; To Phillip Butler, Vancouver. Thanks for your inspiring speech. Les Allison Oct 26/78.

    I have always been intrigued by the reference to "Phillip Butler", and how this book (and the others), turned up in Melbourne, Australia. I have also wondered what Mr Allison found so inspirational in Butler's speech.

    Any clues?

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 25th November 2021 at 05:52.

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    Default Re: No.37 Squadron Expert Sought - Robert Frank Lavack DFM

    EMail Sent...

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    Default Re: No.37 Squadron Expert Sought - Robert Frank Lavack DFM

    Hugh,

    Don't trouble your heart and soul too much about "Phillip" Butler.

    I think I've found the nexus between "Philip" Butler and Les Allison.

    During the eighties, Philip Butler was the Director of the Britiish Columbia Chapter of the Canadian League of Rights*. Inspiring, indeed!

    * Some of their buddies:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_League_of_Rights

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austra...ague_of_Rights

    http://hartford-hwp.com/archives/44/087.html

    and ...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Butler (not directly related to the above, as far as I can tell).

    End of rant!

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 25th November 2021 at 10:23.

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