Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Air Gunner?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    4
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Air Gunner?

    My father in law died in 1945 and his gravestone reveals he was an air gunner. As I know he served nearly all the war as a gunner in 2819 squadron RAF Regiment I applied to RAF records to find out in what aircraft he was an air gunner. I received back some documents which state that he joined the RAF in 1928 and his trade is given as aircrafthand throughout the 30's. It then states he underwent gunner training and joined 76 wing at RAF Binbrook in 1939. He left there in 1941 to join the Regiment squadron mentioned above.
    My wife remembers him telling her that he had flown over a German city and saw the bombs raining down and how awful it was. She also remembers her mother pleading with him not to be an air gunner. On seeing his gravestone she remarked 'That b....... did it after all!'
    Now my question is this: his service record does not record any activities that he was involved in throughout the war. No flying involvement, no record of his D Day landing or progress through to Germany though I have spoken with colleagues with whom he served throughout the war. How can I find out more please?
    I'm a complete newbie to this site and to research of this nature but would be grateful for any help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Dublin
    Posts
    4,466
    Thanks
    4
    Thanked 25 Times in 24 Posts

    Default

    Can you give us his name?

    Might he be:
    Name: LAY, JOHN JAMES WILLIAM
    Initials: J J W
    Nationality: United Kingdom
    Rank: Flight Sergeant (Air Gnr.)
    Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force
    Unit Text: 2819 Sqdn., R.A.F. Regt.
    Age: 35
    Date of Death: 15/07/1945
    Service No: 508691
    Additional information: Son of Herbert and Hannah Lay, of Great Yarmouth, husband of Violet Gwendoline Lay, of Fritton, Suffolk.
    Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Sec. W. Grave 296.
    Cemetery: GREAT YARMOUTH (GORLESTON) CEMETERY
    Dennis Burke
    - Dublin

    Foreign Aircrew and Aircraft Ireland 1939-1945
    www.ww2irishaviation.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Dublin
    Posts
    4,466
    Thanks
    4
    Thanked 25 Times in 24 Posts

    Default

    2819 Squadron

    Formed as No 819 Squadron at Chelveston on 19 December 1941, having been unnumbered from the previous April. On 1 February 1942 all RAF Regiment Squadrons had 2000 added to their numbers. The squadron converted to the Light Anti Aircraft role in May 1943 and joined 2nd Tactical Air Force in April 1944. Although part of the initial invasion force the squadron did not land on Juno beach until D + 1, being deployed to St Croix-sur-Mer and then Beny-sur-Mer, Cristot, Brussels, Eindhoven and Heesch, where it was based at the time of Operation 'Bodenplatte' (the Luftwaffe attack on Allied airfields on 1 January 1945). It continued its move East in 1945, moving to Luneburg, Kastrup, Schleswig Holstein and Lubeck, where it disbanded in December 1945.

    From here:
    http://www.rafweb.org/Regiment2.htm

    And this page on the RAF Regiment describes more about the ground AA unitsin theatre.
    http://www.rafregiment.net/Europe_1944.htm

    Could perhaps transcribe some of the units listed on his service record, some of the other here might be able to sort them out.
    Last edited by dennis_burke; 30th January 2009 at 23:06.
    Dennis Burke
    - Dublin

    Foreign Aircrew and Aircraft Ireland 1939-1945
    www.ww2irishaviation.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    4
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Air Gunner?

    Thanks for the very prompt reply, Dennis.
    Yes Flt/Sgt Lay is the man you describe.
    I more or less have the history of 2819 and we visited the Heech site where they were stationed for couple of months in 1944 (indeed we even found the bedroom he occupied at the time). But his service record doesn't go into detail of whether he actually flew or not.
    That is the question or rather how to find out.
    Thank you for your interest, by the way.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Hornsea, East Yorkshire, UK
    Posts
    3,806
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 25 Times in 24 Posts

    Default

    Hi Rich

    His records should show the school he undertook his gunner training at.

    According to RAF Support Units - 76 Wing was formed at Benson and comprised Nos 12 and 142 Sqns. It then moved to France with the AASF and finally disbanded at Feltwell on 24 Jun 1940.

    Malcolm

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    4
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Thanks for that Malcolm. It looks as though he took a gunnery course at Ronaldsway in June 1940.
    Do you happen to know if the term air gunner only applies to gunners who manned guns in aircraft or is a generic term for all RAF gunners?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Hornsea, East Yorkshire, UK
    Posts
    3,806
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 25 Times in 24 Posts

    Default

    Hi Rich

    Ronaldsway was home to No 1 Ground Defence Gunners School (although it only moved there on 1 Jul 1940, officially) and it trained Ground Gunners who were responsible for the defence of airfields and ground installations. They provided the core of what became the RAF Regiment in February 1942.

    By that time all personnel training as Air Gunners would have been promoted to Sergeant on graduation and would also have undergone a Wireless Operator course. I suspect your father in law was a ground gunner.

    However, as your father in law joined the RAF in 1928, it is highly likely that he flew as an air gunner, but at that time it was not an aircrew trade but an extra duty carried out by ground crew who received 6d per day extra whilst engaged on such duties. Once qualified they were allowed to wear the 'Flying Bullet' badge on their sleeve. Many of these flew as air gunners in the early months of the war and were brought up to the required standard, awarded the AG badge and promoted to Sergeant, but others reverted to their ground trade, which may be the case here.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    4
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Thanks Malcolm. The picture is now clearer. What is the 'Flying Bullet' badge and where on his sleeve would it be? I have several pictures of him and his mates. Just as a matter of interest we have met a couple of them and in contact with another.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Hornsea, East Yorkshire, UK
    Posts
    3,806
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 25 Times in 24 Posts

    Default

    Hi Rich

    If you look at my website http://www.rafweb.org/Badges3A.htm you will see the badge

    Malcolm

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •