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Thread: Group Captain (Pilot) W.M.Churchill. DSO DFC

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    Default Group Captain (Pilot) W.M.Churchill. DSO DFC

    On a visit to the Syracuse War Cemetery whilst researching Operation Husky I came across the grave of the above senior officer. His date of death is given as 27/08/42. Many months before the start of Husky in July 1943, when the island of Sicily was occupied by Axis forces.
    In the Flight magazine of Dec 1942 he is listed as 'Missing believed killed in action' and he was with 605 Squadron which was in the Uk at this time. 605 Sqn had been reformed at Ford in June 1942 with the Havoc l, July 1942 detachment at Hunsdon with the Boston lll.

    If anyone can help me with further information on the above I would be very grateful.

    Colin.

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    Colin,
    According to GRO he was with 29sqdn at time of loss?
    Alan.
    Last edited by AlanW; 3rd May 2010 at 19:01.

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    Hello,

    Walter Myers CHURCHILL has a short biography in "Aces High", page 177, and must also have one in "Men of the Battle of Britain".

    The former states :
    "[...] flying off to the island [Malta] on 11 August 1943. Now a Group Captain, he took command of Takali airfield, where he planned early offensive action over Sicily. On 26th August he led a major sweep over Axis airfields on that island by the full wing of Spitfires, but as he approached Biscari, his Spitfire received a direct hit from Flak, and blew up, crashing in flames."

    No details in "Spitfires over Sicily" but this book by fellow forumite Brian Cull covers the time from January to August 1943.

    No doubt further details were published, but I'll leave it to others to dig into their libraries.

    CWGC has his unit as 605 Squadron, but this Squadron was never in Malta. It was his previous unit, though.

    Name: CHURCHILL, WALTER MYERS
    Initials: W M
    Nationality: United Kingdom
    Rank: Group Captain (Pilot)
    Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force (Auxiliary Air Force)
    Unit Text: 605 Sqdn.
    Age: 35
    Date of Death: 27/08/1942
    Service No: 90241
    Awards: D S O, D F C
    Additional information: Son of William Algernon and Violet Churchill; husband of Joyce Churchill, of Leamington, Warwickshire. B.A. (Cantab.).
    Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
    Grave/Memorial Reference: V. D. 3.
    Cemetery: SYRACUSE WAR CEMETERY, SICILY


    Joss
    Last edited by jossleclercq; 3rd May 2010 at 18:49.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jossleclercq View Post
    CWGC has his unit as 605 Squadron, but this Squadron was never in Malta. It was his previous unit, though.
    In fact, 605 arrived in Malta in November 1941, via HMS Argus. Most of the aircraft and aircrews stayed in Malta when the ground personnel were then sent on to the Far East. The aircraft and aircrew were then absorbed into 185 Squadron.

    A
    RAF Armoured Car Companies 1920-45 http://www.rafacciraq.com/

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    Hello Amrit,

    You're right ! At first I typed 'not' which I altered for 'never'. First word was better.

    The serial number of the Spitfire Walter Churchill was flying should be quoted in "Malta - The Spitfire year 1942" by Brian Cull with Christopher Shores and Nicola Malizia, which I don't have.

    I've always been interested in Churchill, who was posted to No. 3 Squadron as a flight commander in November 1939, coming from No. 605 Squadron. He flew in France, from Merville (20 km from my home) and took over when the C.O. (S/L Gifford) was posted missing. He appointed Sgt R.C. Wilkinson to a flight commander job, because he was an experienced NCO pilot. In June 1940 he was reposted to 605, as C.O.. He led them during the Battle of Britain, until he was posted away on 29th September 1940, to form and command No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron. In late 1940 he was suffering from sinus trouble and on 23 January 1941 he handed over command of 71 Squadron and came off flying. He later commanded RAF Valley.
    By July 1942 Churchill was again fit for flying and he was posted to command Takali, Malta. He flew a Spitfire off the aircraft carrier HMS Furious on 11 August 1942 and landed on Malta.

    He planned the first offensive sweeps over Sicily and led the first one on Agust 23 1942. Four days later, leading the second one, his Spitfire crashed in flames.

    details from "Men of the Battle of Britain".

    So despite a strong link with 605, he was not with them anymore after September 1940.

    Joss

    Joss

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    Finally located my coppy. Brian and Chris, in The Spitfire Years, state that he was leading a formation of 249 Squadron Spitfires to attack Biscari. There are a number of pages dedicated to the attacks made by Spits of 229 and 249 Squadron on aircraft that day. It states that Churhcill was hit and killed whilst attacking a JU 88 on the ground. His aircraft was EP339.

    A

    EDIT: and whilst googling EP339 I find that this was covered a few months ago

    http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?p=44437
    Last edited by Amrit; 3rd May 2010 at 20:12.
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    So it looks like there's a missing digit in the GRO listing.

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    Thank you very much to everyone here who has contributed information to my search.

    Colin.

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