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Thread: 578 Sqn AG's DFC, ORB citations

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    Default 578 Sqn AG's DFC, ORB citations

    179043 F/O Frederick Edward RUMSEY-WILLIAMS DFC, an air gunner, died when 355 Sqn Liberator KH250 was shot down over Port Blair, S. Andaman Island, on 17 May 1945. It was his first op with 355.

    According to the Flight Magazine issue of 28 December 1944, announcing his DFC, he was affiliated with 578 Squadron. I am guessing that he flew a tour with 578, on Halifaxes, prior to his 1945 posting to 355 in India.

    Might one of our readers have the 578 Sqn ORB handy? I would be grateful for any tidbit of info about his service with 578.

    Is Rumsey-Williams' DFC citation known to a reader?

    I have posted a guestbook message on the 578 Sqn website and I have contacted the webmaster and another researcher, but so far no replies have come my way. I thought I'd try RAF Commands, proving my impatience.

    Back on 20 Nov, in the MCDOWALL thread, Dennis Burke mentioned the website http://freebmd.org.uk/cgi/search.pl as a source for finding kin details. I'm pleased to say I've had better luck since my initial stab ... the learning curve ... I have found evidence of a Rumsey-Williams brother's birth and marriage, but no further post-war family details. What I have, however, will help in the search for next-of-kin.

    Cheers,

    Matt

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    Matt,

    I am not sure how keen you are to get the info you are looking for, but two bits of advice spring to mind. Firstly, write to the RAF Disclosures folks at RAF Cranwell. Your man has been dead for over 25+ years so you can apply for a copy of his record of service (costs £30). Secondly, you may wish to employ a researcher at Kew for copies of the ORB (not recommended - damn expensive) or his DFC citation (recommended - much cheaper).

    PM me for details.

    Rgds

    Jonny
    In fond memory of Corporal James Oakland AGC (RMP), killed in action in Afghanistan on 22 October 2009. Exemplo Ducemus.

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    Thanks for those tips, Jonny.

    I should have clarified that for now I'm just curious to know in general terms if F/O Rumsey-Williams did some significant flying with 578 Sqn, as I suspect.

    I just thought I'd ask if anyone has the DFC citation within reach...such as in the DFC book that's been mentioned before (sorry, its title is vague to me at present).

    If I do decide to go after the citation, I will PM you for advice, Jonny.

    Cheers,

    Matt

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    The book I believe that you are refering to is 'The Distinguished Flying Cross and How it was Won 1918-1995' by Nick and Carol Carter (Savannah Press, 1998). Unfortunately, I do not have a copy.

    Rgds

    Jonny
    In fond memory of Corporal James Oakland AGC (RMP), killed in action in Afghanistan on 22 October 2009. Exemplo Ducemus.

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    Jonny,

    That's the book...unfortunately out of my price range these days.

    I would be most grateful to learn if the DFC citation for F/O Rumsey-Williams is in this book, or in the research files of anyone reading this.

    Thanks,

    Matt

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    I have heard from a 578 Sqn researcher who confirms that Rumsey-Williams flew ops with 578. Have been put in touch, also, with a 578 veteran who flew with him several times, so that's promising. So this should lead to a couple of further tidbits of biographical info to be submitted to Rumsey-Williams' hometown newspaper very soon.

    But no further specific DFC info yet... Keeping fingers crossed that someone can at least tell me if his name is in the DFC book by Nick and Carol Carter.

    Cheers,

    Matt

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    Matt

    Sorry for delay in replying. Rumsey-Williams is in the DFC book. London Gazette 17/11/1944 pp5284 whilst with 578 Sq. However there is no citation. There is a book on 578 '578 Squadron Operations 1944...45' by C.W. 'Chuck' Adams but crews, unless lost with the squadron, are only referred to by their pilot's name. I did check if the crew had transferred to 355 but the pilot of the Liberator, also a DFC holder, had come from 101 Squadron.

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    Matt

    Rumsey-Williams was part of the Baer crew. Ops to Tergnier 10/4/1944, Tergnier 18/4/1944, Berneval 8/5/1944, Aachen 24/5/1944, Marquise-Mimoyecques 27/6/1944, Caen 18/7/1944, Bottrop 21/7/1944. (ORB for 578 Sq.)

    Unfortunately Yorkshire Air Museum don't have the postings in & out so I can't tell you where he arrived from or departed to.

    Crew Pilot R.E. Baer, Nav. K.P. Reid, Air B. T.S. Wright all RCAF
    Wop. Sgt. Obiedzinski G.F., F/E Sgt. Rolph R.A, A/G Sgt. Hoyland J.S. (all RAF)

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    John,

    Many thanks for your DFC info and for searching for crew details and any link to 355 Sqn.

    Since my last posting I heard from a 578 Sqn/RAF Burn website researcher, who put me in touch with one of Rumsey-Williams' crewmates for several ops with "Max" Baer in the summer of 1944 (but not one of their regular crew). I'm at work right now and don't have the names handy. Later I'll post their names and also a fun anecdote about Baer's beat up of Burn when returning from the final op of his tour in Aug '44. Rumsey-Williams was the rear gunner during that memorable incident. I now have an excellent photo of him, with the Baer crew, which I've submitted to the Berkhamsted, Herts newspaper. Also a wonderful photo of the Halifax buzzing the control tower.

    None of the names of the Bair crew match to the names of Rumsey-Williams' fellow casualties in Liberator KH250 on 17 May 1945.

    Cheers,

    Matt

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    To finish off this thread, as promised about four days ago...

    On 15 Aug 1944 F/Lt R. E. "Max" Baer DFC RCAF, skipper of 578 Squadron’s Halifax MZ527 (wearing the letters LK-W), beat up his home airfield, Burn, upon return from an attack on the German fighter airfield at Tirlemont. This sortie completed his tour, and maybe those of the majority of his crew. F/O Frederick Rumsey-Williams, killed in the Far East nine months later, was the rear gunner.

    The skipper’s little black Austin, festooned with streamers of toilet paper and topped by a barrel of beer, had been hoisted atop a building adjacent to the control tower. A squadron prankster had painted the words “IT’S ON THE HOUSE” on the side of the building. A photo was taken of this Halifax (which finished up in 1945 with at least 105 ops) buzzing the control tower, with the Austin and the keg of been visible. Those gathered around were cheering wildly.

    Des Hollis, who answered my query on the 578 Sqn/Burn website, added more: “I remember as a boy seeing this because my Father had taken me to the airfield and we gathered with a number of other spectators by the Control Tower. As you can see Max was very low and I remember I could see some tree tops were above the aircraft!!”

    Des also put me in touch with Fred Blackmore MBE, who had been the flight engineer on that op (his 30th), and several others, with "Max" Baer. Fred, who was not part of the regular crew, wrote:

    "I flew with Maxi Baer on this his last operation before being screened on our return. We beat up the airfield and flew below the control tower roof level up the main runway and were surprised to see that some other aircrew had hoisted Maxi's Austin Seven onto the roof of the tower."

    A photo of the low-flying MZ527, the Austin, the keg, the control tower, and quite a few cheering souls can be seen on the 578 Sqn website, illustrating the recollections of former 578 Sqn WAAF Elsie Mackinson: http://www.578squadron.org.uk/squadron/waaf.html .

    Cheers to all,

    Matt

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