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Thread: 104 Squadron 1944 Szombathely

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    Default 104 Squadron 1944 Szombathely

    Hello everyone,
    I am after any information at all about my late father Norman William Flight who flew Wellingtons from Foggia, Italy in 1944. He was a Sgt. Pilot with 104 Squadron and he was shot down during a raid on Szombathely, Hungary on the night of 20th October 1944. The crew all survived and my dad was a prisoner in Stalag XXIb until the end of the war. I would love to hear from any of his crew who are still alive or their family. The plane he flew was coded: LP501U.
    After the war he had a long flying career in the RAF until his retirement.

    Thanks in advice for any help.

    Regards,
    Ross Flight

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    Hello, and welcome, Ross,

    The following are the Luftwaffe night-fighter claims for 20-21 October 1944:-

    7./NJG6 Oblt Josef Kraft Wellington Szombathely 21.43 47th (victory) West.
    7./NJG6 Oblt Josef Kraft B-24 Szombathely 22.10 48th West.
    7./NJG6 Oblt Josef Kraft Wellington Szombathely 22.15 49th West.
    Stab III./NJG6 Hptm Leopold Fellerer B-24 Szombathely 22.21 40th West.

    See:
    Luftwaffe Night Fighter Combat Claims 1939 - 1945
    Foreman.J, Matthews.J & S.Parry.
    Walton-on-Thames:Red Kite,2004.
    p.220
    (Get a second opinion on this info - the book has been criticized for containing inaccuracies and omissions).

    Others on this Forum might contribute more.

    Would you, by any chance, have a crew listing for Wellington X LP501 'U'? If so, could you post it here?

    Regards,

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 10th August 2009 at 09:56. Reason: minor correction

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    Default 104 Squadron 1944 Szombathely

    Hi Col,

    thanks for the info. If indeed Josef Kraft was the one who shot down my father's Wellington then that would be quite something. Looking at various websites that talk about Josef Kraft it seems he was quite a formidable adversary with 56 kills under his belt! Though a lumbering Wellington would have been easy pickings for him I would imagine. As for his fellow crew mates, that is something I was hoping someone else may be able to help with. As always seems to be the case with such things my father never really talked about his experiences in great detail and he didn't write anything down. One thing I do have though is the diary he kept during his initial flight training, which is quite something. Other than that, and his medals, I have very little left of his from his subsequent long service with the RAF.
    Thanks for your help,
    Regards,
    Ross Flight

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    Default Szombathely - 20 Oct 1944

    My Dad has this mission in his log book - it was his first with 31 SAAF (he had jst moved across from 34 SAAF)

    from his log

    20/10/44 1845 A-996 Maj Carter Rear Gunner Hungary Szombathely Aerodrome bombing height 14000ft 8 x 1000lb
    fighters around target area duration 5h 40

    PZULBA - Out of Africa (Retired)
    Last edited by pzulba; 9th August 2009 at 20:09.

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    Default 104 Squadron 1944 Szombathely

    Hi,

    thanks for the info. It sounds like your Father was on the same mission. Going through the scarce info again that I have, which is in fact just a photocopy of a log book page belonging to his w/op. I have subsequently found the name of the w/op. He was called 'Ellis' apparently. The photocopy and the name came to me from Paul Long Aviation Research in Canada quite a few years ago, but that's about all I know of his crew. I remember now my Dad saying that following his bale out at night he was arrested by an Hungarian policeman and handed straight over to the Germans, though the locals were keen to lynch him instead. He subsequently spent his 21st birthday in solitary confinement (his birthday is the 25th October). After questioning from the local Gestapo, he and his crew were then sent on to Stalag XXb by a combination of train rides and forced marches. One thing he witnessed was the death of a Russian prisoner in such a march, when the half-starved Russian stole a turnip from a passing truck. The German guards then set about him with their rifle butts. He also remembered being in a large marshalling yard and having to take cover as it was bombed by the allies.
    Many thanks and regards,

    Ross Flight

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    Hi Ross,

    The Wellington was not quite as lumbering as you would expect.

    This is the extract for a Special Duties Flight for Wellington DV819 on 03/12/1942.

    Special duty flight.
    Operation took place across the N. coast of France to an area near to Frankfurt. The aircraft was engaged on the 18th sortie on a particular investigation, which necessitated the aircraft being intercepted by an enemy nightfighter and up to this sortie, all efforts to get such an interception had failed.

    At 04:31 hrs, the aircraft was in position 4954N 0739E and set course for position 5030N 0737E. The Special Operator, P/O Jordan, had been reporting that he had been receiving signals on his special wireless equipment which he thought were the ones requiring to be investigated. He warned the crew to expect a fighter attack. On this Northerly leg the signals grew stronger and Jordan repeated his warning. A code had previously been arranged, so that if the signals were picked up, the frequency would immediately be sent back to base, it being absolutely vital that this information should reach base at all costs.

    Position 5030N 0737E was reached at 04:42 and the aircraft set course for the homeward leg. The Special Operator passed the coded message to the Wireless Operator for transmission to base, giving in the message the required frequency and that this frequency was very probably the correct one. Jordan warned the crew that his receiver was being saturated and to expect an attack at any moment. Almost simultaneously the aircraft was hit by a burst of cannon fire. The rear gunner gave a fighter control commentary during the attack and identified the enemy as a JU88. Violent corkscrew turns were used as evasive action. Jordan was hit in the arm on this first attack and realising that now there was no doubt at all about the signal being the correct one, he changed the coded message, a change that would tell base that the frequency given was absolutely correct and that it applied without a doubt to the signal being investigated. Although hit in the arm, he still continued to work his sets and to note further characteristics of the signal. The Rear Gunner fired about 1,000 rounds on this attack, but his turret was hit and made completely unserviceable and he was wounded in the shoulder. On the second attack, Jordan was hit in the jaw, but he still continued to work his sets and low the results and told the captain and crew from which side to expect the next attack.

    On the third attack, the front turret was hit and the Front Gunner wounded in the leg. The Wireless Operator went forward to let him out of the turret but he was hit in both legs by an exploding shell and had to return to his seat. P/O Barry, Navigator, then went forward and let Grant out of the turret. Jordan was hit once more, this time in the eye, and although he continued operating his equipment and noting further details of the signal, he realised that he could not continue with the investigation much longer, owing to his condition and seeing that his inter-comm had also been shot away, he went forward and brought back the Navigator and tried to explain to him how to continue operating the equipment and so bring back some more valuable information. By this time he was almost blind but although he tried hard to show Barry what to do, he realised that it was an impossible task and in the end gave up the attempt.

    F/Sgt Vachon had by this time come out of the rear turret and had taken up position in the Astro Hatch, from where he continued to give evasive control but he was hit again in the hand and Barry went back and took over from him in the Astro Dome. During this period the aircraft had lost height from about 14,000 feet down to 500 feet above the ground, violent evasive action still being taken by the captain. After 10 or 12 attacks the enemy aircraft broke off his engagement and disappeared.

    Hits had been scored on the Wellington in 5 or 6 of the attacks, resulting in the following damage:- 1. Starboard Throttle Control shot away (starboard engine stuck at +3 boost all the way home). 2. Port Throttle jammed. 3. Front and rear turrets unserviceable. 4. Starboard Ailerons unserviceable and trimming tabs having no effect at all. 5. Air Speed Indicator reading zero in both positions owing to the pitot head or pipes being holed. 6. Starboard petrol tank holed. 7. Fabric shot and torn away on starboard side of fuselage. 8. Hydraulics unserviceable, 9. Both engines running irregularly. The Wireless Operator Sgt Bigoray, in spite of his injuries, transmitted the coded message back to base but receiving no "R" for it continued to send it in the hopes that it would be picked up. It was received at 05:05 hours.

    The Captain kept the aircraft on the course for home and managed to climb up to 5,000 feet, at which height he came back. At 06:45 hours the aircraft crossed the coast at about 10 miles N.E. of Dunkirk, where searchlights tried to pick it out but these were dodged by evasive action and coming down low over the sea. When they were switched off, the Pilot again managed to gain height. The Wireless Operator put the I.F.F. on to Stud 3, sent out an S.O.S. and a message to the effect that they had been attacked by an enemy aircraft. He again transmitted the coded message in case it had not been received the first time. At approximately 07:20 hours the English coast was reached. The Pilot tested the landing light to see if he could ditch using it, but decided it was impossible. He decided to wait for daylight before ditching and asked the crew if anyone preferred to bail out rather than ditch. The Wireless Operator stated that he preferred to jump, as one of his legs had stiffened up to such an extent that he thought he would not be able to climb out of the aircraft in the water. He made his way to the escape hatch in the rear of the fuselage, from where he intended to jump, but having reached that position he remembered that he had not clamped down the transmitting key and in spite of his injury he returned to his set, clamped the key down, and warned the crew not to touch it. He jumped out over Ramsgate and made a safe landing.

    The pilot ditched the aircraft at approximately 08:24 hours about 200 yards off the coast at Deal. The dinghy inflated but had been holed by cannon fire. The Special Operator tried to make it airtight by holding some of the holes but it was impossible and the crew got out of the dinghy and climbed onto the aircraft. About 5 minutes later a small rowing boat appeared, took them off and rowed ashore.

    The following signal has been received from the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshall Sir Charles Portal, G.C.B, D.S.O., M.C., for P/O Jordan, P/O Paulton, P/O Barry, F/Sgt Bigoray, F/Sgt Grant, F/Sgt Vachon:-
    "I have just read report of your investigation flight carried out on Thursday, 3rd. December and should like to congratulate you all on a splendid performance."
    AIR27/1156

    Regards
    Ross
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    Hi Ross,
    If you go to the Useful Books and Research Materials section on the Home page of the forum site you will find on the first page an entry Life at the Foggia bases Italy WW2 by Anne Storm. This link will provide you with details of the missions your father probably flew on. Note that 104 Sqd was part of 236 Wing and 37 Sqd was 231 Wing, however depending on the schedueling of operations it may be that 104 and 37 flew on the same nights. This will be a start for you. Also if you are able to get hold of a copy of Chorley's books which I unfortunately don't have you should find the loss of your fathers Wellington and the crew noted within. I am assuming that you live in the UK thus a visit to the National Archives in Kew would be in order as a search of the AIR 27 files for 104 Squadron will give you the ORB for the period which includes all operations and crew listings. From this you would be able to make up your fathers Log Book until his capture. Also if you contact the RAF administration you should be able to get a copy of your fathers RAF file which will add to your records. Proof of relationship etc would be required but this will obviously be no problem for you. Other members on the site will be able to give you the contact details which I know have been mentioned on the Forum in the past. I will also email a friend of mine who flew out of Foggia at that time with 37 Sqd and ask him if he knew your Dad, it is a long shot but you might be lucky.
    Hope this information is of help.
    Regards,
    Rob Jerram.

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    Ross
    Two books of interest re flying Wellingtons are Maurice Lihou's
    "It's Dicey Flying Wimpys -around Italian skies "
    "Out of the Italian Night " Wellington Operation 1944-45
    Lihou was in 37 Sqdn ,a bomber sqdn of the 205 group RAF in Italy

    I'm awaiting David Gunby's Losses in the Med Vol 2, or title like that ?-not published yet .
    He has written "Sweeping the Skies " with parts about his father's WW2 40 sqdn in Italy, though it covers 1916-1956 .

    If you are in UK there was a Wellington Museum at Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire but I don't know if it's still there
    http://www.wellingtonaviation.org/docs/index.htm

    I have been told that Wellingtons [Wimpies] were good to fly as far as bombers of WW2 go !

    My RAAF father was in 104 RAF from Dec '43 but seconded to 31 SAAF in July '44

    As RobJ has written my entry about Life at Foggia in the Useful books section may be very informative. 104 were at Foggia Main

    Anne
    Last edited by aestorm; 10th August 2009 at 07:53.

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    Ross,

    Perhaps you already know this site...

    http://www.airwarsk.sk/

    Hope this helps,
    Bruce

    http://www.filephotoservice.co.uk/
    Last edited by bruce dennis; 10th August 2009 at 08:19.
    http://www.filephotoservice.co.uk/
    RESEARCH AT THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES & OTHER UK INSTITUTIONS

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    Hello All,

    This site should be kept in mind as well:

    http://natureonline.com/37/35-op24.html

    Col.

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