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Thread: 430320 - Unaccounted airwomen and airmen - 20-3-1943

  1. #11
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    Hi Helen,

    Well I had a look at the ORB for 1941 and W/O Wheeler was flying Sunderlands as second pilot then first pilot in the squadron.

    He appears every few days or so in the operational logs. Need to be a bit careful not to mix him up as the squadron also had a P/O Wheeler flying as pilot as well.

    On 15th April W/O Wheeler was first pilot on a transit flight of Catalina Oban to Stranraer as the squadron converted onto that type.

    He continues on the Catalina operations as first pilot.

    1st May Catalina AH533, sighted lifeboat with survivors and dropped food.

    He now starts to fly with the USN Ensigns who carried out operational flights with the squadron (7 months before the USA declared war on Germany).

    20th May 1941 he was detached with a single aircraft to Sullom Voe.

    This was the start of the hunt for Bismark.

    25th May 1941 detached to Iceland to operate from there.

    28th May returned to Oban

    1st June detached to Sullom Voe

    1st July returned to Oban from Loch Boisdale

    20th July 1941.
    Sullom Voe 23:25 hrs Catalina W8418, W/O Wheeler and W/O Williams left on transit flight to Archangel (Russia) with special passengers.

    21st July 1941.
    Archangel, waterbourne 14:58 hrs

    22nd July 1941.
    17:47 hrs Catalina W8418 W/O Wheeler DFC left to return to Invergordon

    So looks like an immediate award of DFC for this trip.

    23rd July 1941
    11:13 waterbourne, Invergordon

    He continues operational flying from Oban

    14th August left for temporary detachment at Mount Batten

    18th August 1941
    Lough Erne
    Took off in Catalina AH535 at 19:11
    07:45 on 19th attacked U-Boat in position PHAG 1614 from 50 feet with 2 x 450lb depth charges.

    He is still flying operationally with the squadron in Dec 1941 but then disappears from the operational flight logs.

    I'll try the No.502 Sqn ORB for Jan 1942 to see if he appears there.

    Regards
    Ross
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  2. #12
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    Default A E Wheeler

    Ross
    Thank you for emailing the ORB for 1941, it was really interesting and as you can imagine we are very curious to whom the special passengers were on the Flight to Archangel on the 20/22 July 1941.

    I'm aware that at the time Churchill was in discussion with Stalin due to Germany invading Russia a month earlier.

    With regards to my grandfather’s Sqn from Jan 1942, the records are not very clear
    I think from the 1/1/42 he joined the 4 OTU but under the "Dep Cas Form" Column it has CPL.

    He then moves a couple of times until 17.6.42 (Nuts Corner & Aldergrove) but the records do not record a Sqn no. but instead he has "CPL" and various number references in the "Dep Cas Form" column.

    Then in 17.6.42 he is then recorded at Cranwell College until 14/10/42, when he is discharged.

    On the 15.10.42 it was recorded on his medical records he was fit for General Duties Branch and the London Gazette records his transfer to General Duties Branch on the 15.10.43.

    I'm not sure what the reason was for the transferring to General Duties in October?

    Can you send me the info on the crash in Oct 1942 as I'm wondering if that has something to do with his transfer?

    Where did you get your copies of the ORB from?


    Henk
    Thank you confirming the cause of death of my grandfather, out of interest what do you intend using the information for?

    Kindest regards

    Helen

  3. #13
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    Hi Helen

    He was obviously commissioned on 15 Oct 1942, hence why he was discahrged as an airman on 14 Oct 1942. The Generral Duties Branch is thre main officer Branch of the RAF containing all aircrew. At that time officers commissioned from the ranks were given a different service number and the record forms used to record their careers were totally different.

    Malcolm

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    Default Unaccounted airwomen and airmen 20 March 1943

    Malcolm

    My records seem to be bit of both, I'm assuming parts have been lost over time.

    What was the general reason for transferring to General Duties apologies for labouring the point but I don't understand what type of unit/organisation it was, other than it is part of the RAF?

    Helen

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    Hello Helen,

    Actually he was already in the General Duties Branch when he was a N.C.O. pilot. So to say, the transfer was not really from the GD branch to the same branch, but a discharge from the ranks/NCO on 14th October, and a commission with the rank of Pilot Officer on the day after. But he was still in the GD branch, which, amongst others, cover the flying personnel, as Malcolm explained.

    Joss

  6. #16
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    Default unaccounted airwomen and airmen on the 20 March 1943

    Joss

    I now understand what you mean in relation to General Duties.

    I notice you guys seem to have access to the ORBs is there a way of reviewing them electronically or do I need to go to Kew?

    Helen

  7. #17
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    Hello

    LACW Marjorie A. COLLIN - 892026 - the National Probate Calendar records that she died at Base Hospital, Beverley.

    Cpl (WAAF) Doris E. SMITH - 421110 - the Lancaster Guardian of March 26th 1943 reported the following:

    MRS. DORIS SMITH
    Sympathy will be extended to L.A.C. Harold Smith, of the R.A.F., now serving in the Middle East, on the death at the early age of 24 of his wife, Mrs. Doris Smith, who was serving as a Corporal in the W.A.A.F. until she succumbed in hospital at Chester on Saturday to illness. The couple were only married in November of 1941 when both were serving their country. Mrs. Smith had been a member of the W.A.A.F. for two and a half years.


    Regards

    Simon

  8. #18
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    My father severed in the RAF in the middle east during the 2nd world war name Harold Smith No 646593, however the help I would like is not related directly to my father who passed away in 2000, it is related to his wife.

    This request has a strange beginning related to the coronavirus, I rang my daughter and asked if all was ok and what she was doing with her two sons while school was closed, I was told WWII. I said I think I have some old ration cards etc, from the period which I would sort out. I took to looking through an old black box I kept after father death but one I had not really investigated, in looking through the papers I found that father had been married previously to a lady name Doris Eileen Smith (nee Ennew) No 421110 she had died on the 20th March 1943 of Tuberculosis.

    This was something of a surprise to me as I had no idea that my father had ever been married before the marriage to my mother. This then found me wanting to know more about this lady and in searching the internet I came across the below record on your site at
    It seemed strange that there should be someone else enquiring about this lady after all this time. Know nothing myself about this lady and wishing to know more, I wonder if you could but me in touch with Simon or the person that made a request about this lady.

    Regards

    Mal Smith.

  9. #19
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    Hello Mal

    Welcome to the forum. It's amazing what you can find on the internet!

    The full article on the Lancaster Guardian from March 26th 1943 has some further details:

    MRS. DORIS SMITH
    Sympathy will be extended to L.A.C. Harold Smith, of the R.A.F., now serving in the Middle East, on the death at the early age of 24 of his wife, Mrs. Doris Smith, who was serving as a Corporal in the W.A.A.F. until she succumbed in hospital at Chester on Saturday to illness. The couple were only married in November of 1941 when both were serving their country. Mrs. Smith had been a member of the W.A.A.F. for two and a half years, and her husband, who was formerly employed at the Farmers' Butchers' shop in Common Garden Street, Lancaster, joined the R.A.F. in June 1939. Her husband is the son of Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Smith, of 100, Sibsey Street, Lancaster. The deceased was formerly Miss Doris Enneu [sic], of Brighton, where the funeral took place yesterday (Thursday).


    Their marriage was also reported in the Lancaster Guardian of December 5th 1941, which includes a photo of the couple on their wedding day:

    Smith-Ennew
    The wedding took place at the Priory and Parish Church, Lancaster, recently of Mr. Harold Smith, elder son of Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Smith, of Sibsey Street, Lancaster, and Miss Doris Irene [sic] Ennew, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. B. Ennew, of Cowfold Road, Brighton. The bride is at present serving with the W.A.A.F.. Given away by her father she wore a gown of white silk net over white satin, and decorated with orange blossom. She also wore a silk net veil held in place by a wreath of orange blossom, and a spray of carnations. She carried a silver horse shoe. The best man and grooms were brothers of the bridegroom, Messrs. Tom and James Smith respectively. Miss Morrison, a W.A.A.F. colleague of the bride, was the bridesmaid, and she wore her uniform with pink carnation spray.


    I'd be happy to forward copies of both articles - just let me know.

    Regards

    Simon
    Last edited by wwrsimon; 7th April 2020 at 14:11. Reason: typo

  10. #20
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    Hi Simon.
    Many thanks for the very quick and most welcome response, that gives me some more information about father life during the war period, I would vey much like to have copies of the articles if that was possible, I will send them to my grand children for they WWII project.
    May I ask why on the 1st Mat 2018 there appears a post with reference to Mrs Doris Smith? Is there someone out there? may be a sister born later or some relative that maybe I could contact to get to know more about this lady. It seems odd that my father being from Lancaster and this lady from Brighton should have met other that somehow through the RAF.

    I look forward to the articles and any contacts you may have for Doris Smith.

    Best Regards

    Mal Smith.

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