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Thread: Spitfire(?) losses, September 21st 1943 off Stomboli - 309th FS

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    Default Spitfire(?) losses, September 21st 1943 off Stomboli - 309th FS

    Hello everyone

    I posted a query about this on the 12OCH Forum, but thought I'd ask on here too.

    On September 21st 1943 284 Squadron picked up two U.S. pilots from the Mediterranean near Stromboli. The 284 Sqn ORB records them as Colonel Hawkins and Flight Officer Nelson.

    Norman Franks' book 'Beyond Courage' has the following:

    "The 31st US Fighter Group had been in action on this day [21st Sept], which resulted in Colonel John R. Hawkins and Flight Officer Clifford W. Nelson of the 309th Squadron, going into the sea. Both were between 10 and 15 miles off Stomboli."

    I'm struggling to find the ID of the relevant aircraft involved - presumably Spitfires? Hawkins was picked up in the morning between 10.30 and 12.10, and Nelson in the afternoon between 16.20 and 18.10.

    Any pointers most gratefully received!

    Regards

    Simon
    Researching R.A.F. personnel from the North East of England

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    Default Re: Spitfire(?) losses, September 21st 1943 off Stomboli - 309th FS

    Simon (et al)
    High 1017mb between Sicily/Cyrenaica. Wind prob W’ly 10-15kts, 22C, little or no cloud, good vis. Good search weather!
    Done quite a few hours as Supernumerary Crew in Shacks in that area (you also had to keep the supply of tea/coffee going from the galley to the real crew!!!!)
    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: Spitfire(?) losses, September 21st 1943 off Stomboli - 309th FS

    Hello Simon

    I can only say for Colonel Hawkins, the aircraft was a Spitfire Mk. V.

    This a short summary, I've read in the book "31st Fighter Group in WW II" by Ron Mackay.

    Colonel Hawkins was required to attend a XII Air Support Command Conference in Sicily, and was given an old Spitfire Mk. V in which to make the trip.

    While he was in transit, he had to call "Mayday, Mayday. This is Hawkins, I'm bailing out!"

    His engine had quit. Colonel Hawkins landed in the water, inflated his dinghy. Pretty soon a Walrus turned up. He returned to Montecorvino.

    Colonel John Reynolds Hawkins, later Brigadier General. Died in an airplane crash in 1947.

    https://www.af.mil/About-Us/Biograph...nolds-hawkins/

    Regards

    Finn Buch
    Last edited by Argus; 26th May 2022 at 19:03.

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    Default Re: Spitfire(?) losses, September 21st 1943 off Stomboli - 309th FS

    Thanks Peter and Finn

    So, Hawkins went off to Sicily for a conference (from where?), and ditched with a dead engine. So was Nelson with him, and why would Nelson ditch too?

    Bearing in mind he was picked up so much later, was he involved in a separate incident?

    I'm wondering if Nelson was with the 31st FG...?

    Regards

    Simon
    Researching R.A.F. personnel from the North East of England

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    Default Re: Spitfire(?) losses, September 21st 1943 off Stomboli - 309th FS

    Hello Simon,
    Yes he was, John Travis Nelson, O-752229. 307th Fighter Squadron, 31st Fighter Group.

    Still looking for the 21st September '43 details but he did bale out of P-40L, 42-11081 on the 9th September '43.

    So it may be that he was not flying a Spitfire on the 21st after all ?

    Alex
    Last edited by Alex Smart; 27th May 2022 at 11:49.

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    Default Re: Spitfire(?) losses, September 21st 1943 off Stomboli - 309th FS

    Thanks Alex.

    That does throw a spanner in the works - I was under the impression it was Clifford W. Nelson. There's a photo of him in Norman Franks' 'Beyond Courage.'

    Regards

    Simon
    Researching R.A.F. personnel from the North East of England

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    Default Re: Spitfire(?) losses, September 21st 1943 off Stomboli - 309th FS

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Smart View Post
    Hello Simon,
    Yes he was, John Travis Nelson, O-752229. 307th Fighter Squadron, 31st Fighter Group.

    Still looking for the 21st September '43 details but he did bale out of P-40L, 42-11081 on the 9th September '43.

    So it may be that he was not flying a Spitfire on the 21st after all ?

    Alex
    Yes correct, but it was before his transfer to Europe.

    "Based out of Pinellas AAF, FL, bails out engine on fire over S Davis Causeway, Clearwater, Fl. Gulf of Mexico. Later serves with 307FS, 31FG"

    http://raf-112-squadron.org/31stfghonor_roll43_44.html

    see also

    http://raf-112-squadron.org/31st_fg.html

    Regards

    Finn Buch

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    Default Re: Spitfire(?) losses, September 21st 1943 off Stomboli - 309th FS

    Hi,

    memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/story/loc.natlib.afc2001001.90475/sr0001001.stream

    John Travis Nelson

    Complete Interview Download: audio (94 min.)

    Regards

    Mojmir

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    Default Re: Spitfire(?) losses, September 21st 1943 off Stomboli - 309th FS

    Hello Finn,
    From the US on the 9th September and baled out to The Mediterranean on the 21st September seems a very short time to get transported across the pond and flying with a new Unit. But maybe didn't travel by sea ?

    The 31st FG had a mix of Spitfire Vc's With newer VIII's and IX's from around September onwards I think.
    Also were at the time as noted in the 112 Sqn /31stFGHonor site moving from their Base to a New Base, so maybe he was involved in the transfer and not the wingman to Colonel Hawkins ?

    BUT
    I Simons post where he references Norman Frank's book "Beyond Courage " it has a Clifford W,Nelson as the pilot that is the one we should be searching.

    I could find nothing of him in the 31FG honor site.
    But did find -
    25/11/1942 - P-39D - 41-28329 - 306FS/338FG, Florida.
    and
    26/07/1944 - F-6A - 42-103576 - 111TRS, Corsica.

    Alex
    Last edited by Alex Smart; 28th May 2022 at 01:46.

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    Default Re: Spitfire(?) losses, September 21st 1943 off Stomboli - 309th FS

    Hello Alex,

    I have found the Air Medal Decoration card of:

    Nelson, Clifford W. (T-60113), Flight Officer, AC
    G.O. #9. Hq. XII Air Support Command, 1-31-44

    New Harmony, Indiana

    It is a new track to follow. So now we can conclude, that he is not a "ghost".

    Finn

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