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Thread: Help Tracing Australian members of RAF Sqns

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    Default Help Tracing Australian members of RAF Sqns

    All,

    I am new to this forum, I joined with the hope of some assistance from this vast knowledge pool.
    My name is Bill Clarke and I am a member of the Royal Australian Air Force, currently posted to No 1 Recruit Training Unit in Wagga, NSW, Australia.
    At present I am doing some biographical work for the unit, to show case our men and women who have served, this is important to me as in my time with the unit one consistant thing I have noted amoungst the young people coming in to the service is that there is not enough history being taught, they are not aware of the sacrifices made by our past members, of the battles fought and won by us and our allies in the name of freedom, and justice.

    I have run in to a bit of a wall researching some of our members who served with RAF Sqn's during the second world war, I am making up biographies on five Australian born airmen who were part of the great escape from Stalag Luft III and paid for it with their lives along with 45 other Allied airmen.
    I am seeking assistance with information on the following members:

    WOFF Albert Hake 403281 No 72 Sqn RAF Biggin Hill.
    FLTLT Thomas Leigh 46462 No76 Sqn RAF

    All I have at the moment is that WOFF Hake was a Spitfire pilot and was shot down over France in April 1942, and FLTLT Leigh was a ex RAF Halton apprentice, and air gunner who had been in a Halifax shot down in August 1941.

    I am after information I can use in their biographies, such as their birth place, aircraft trained on, missions flown, enemy aircraft shot down, awards, citations ect to build a picture of them for this project.

    Once these are up in our training building they will serve as a permanent memorial and reminder to our new recruits of what it really means to wear our uniform.

    Thanks in advance.

    Bill Clarke
    Last edited by bill44; 20th September 2010 at 11:23. Reason: SP

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    Hi Bill,
    Couple of mistakes with your post, Hakes service number was 403218, also according to CWGC, Leigh was killed 31/03/44 not August 1941. This would put him on the Nuremburg raid, but cannot see him in BC Losses 1944 for that date. I have the 76sqdn ORB for 1944 and will look in it for details.
    Regards........Alan.
    Last edited by AlanW; 20th September 2010 at 11:43.

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    Alan,
    Thanks for the quick reply, with regards the service numbers, obviously I'm becoming dyslexic in my old age.
    Also, I was aware of Leigh's date of death, August 41 was when he was shot down, survived, and became a POW according to my source.


    Regards.

    Bill.

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    HAKE on Spitfire AB258 4-4-1942 and LEIGH on Halifax L9516 6-8-1941. Both PoW and involved in Great Escape Stalag Luft III; murdered 1944. Many websites on the Great Escape.

    Henk.

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    Hi Bill,
    Mistake on my behalf, i was assuming that Leigh was killed on ops in 1944, my fault for not reading your thread properly.

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    Hi Bill,

    You should find quite a bit of info to help you if you visit the National Archives of Australia website http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/recordsearch/index.aspx

    Use the 'search now - as a guest' and in the 'keywords' section on the search screen try using only the surname and service number of the airman.

    Some records are digitised and you will be able to instantly view digitised copies of them online and download them. Others you may have to order for digitisation or copies.

    I only tried Hake and found that he has a digitised file already here http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/DetailsReports/ItemDetail.aspx?Barcode=5522687

    Best of luck with your project.
    Linzee

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    Hi Bill,

    Some general information that may be of use with your project……..

    Hake was only with 72 Sqn RAF between Jan and Apr 1942. The squadron had 32 Australians (by my count) on strength at various times between 1939 and 1945 including two who commanded the unit - RB Lees and DFB Sheen (both Aussies in the RAF). During Hake’s time there were fellow countrymen - JR Ratten DFC (A.405111) who arrived in Feb 42, J Rutherford (A.402254) – Jun 41 to Mar 42 and JP Campbell (A.402437) – Oct 41 to Apr 42. I have no combat claims attributed to Hake although both Ratten and Rutherford had some success. Other RAAF pilots were posted in during Jun 42.

    You are probably aware of other Australian escapees RV Kierath MiD (A.402364) and JEA Williams DFC MiD (RAF 40652)? The latter was actually born in NZ, joined the RAAF and then accepted a short service commission in the RAF. Both served on fighter squadrons in the western desert, Kierath – 33 Sqn RAF, 450 Sqn RAAF, Williams – 112, 94, 260 Sqns RAF & 450 Sqn RAAF.

    I have snippets of information relating to known Australian fighter pilots serving with the RAF during WWII. Feel free to send me a PM should you wish to discuss any further details.

    Regards, Drew H

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    All,

    Many thanks for the replies. I have been using the NAA, however not all records have been opened/digitized, and they charge a fee to open them, that is not a great problem for me, but some info may not be available, the records are not always the same.

    I have also traced information through wikipedia, though today found a error on wiki's biography of Charles "bud" Tingwell from looking at his papers on the NAA.

    One thing that comes up regularly is the term "short service commission", could someone explain this further please.

    Drew H, will send you a PM in due course.
    Last edited by bill44; 21st September 2010 at 08:41. Reason: SP

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    Hi Bill

    Short Service Commission were a way to boost the strength of the RAF without large backlogs on the promotion ladder. Officers served for five years on the active list before transferring to the Reserve and rarely advanced beyond the rank of Fg Off. In the mid 1930's the Medium Service Commission was introduced where officers could continue on the active list for ten years before joining the reserve. Permanent Commissions were generally reserved for those entering the service as Flight Cadets at Cranwell although SSC and MSC holders could apply for Permanent Commissions.

    In order to advance up the career ladder those holding Permanent Commissions were expected to become specialists in Navigation, Engineering, Signals, Photography, Armament or PT, whilst SSC concentrated on flying.

    All the best

    Malcolm

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    Bill & Drew
    RV Kierath was a cousin of my father, via my father's mother .The Kierath family were well known in Narromine NSW & early pioneers, as were my father's Millar & Gunning families .

    This is a detailed website on The Great Escape but I have no idea how accurate it is .

    http://www.b24.net/pow/greatescape.htm

    402364 F/L Reginald V Kierath, Australian, born 20-Feb-1915, 450 Sqdn, PoW 23-Apr-1943, recaptured near Reichenburg, murdered 29-Mar-1944 by unknown Gestapo, cremated at Brux.

    403218 F/L Albert H Hake, Australian, born 30-Jun-1916, 72 Sqdn, shot down 4-Apr-42, Spitfire Vb AB258, recaptured near Gorlitz, murdered 31-Mar-1944 by Lux and Scharpwinkel, cremated at Gorlitz

    40652 S/L John E A Williams DFC, Australian, born 6-May-1919, 450 Sqdn, PoW 31-Oct-1942, recaptured near Reichenberg, murdered 29-Mar-1944 by Lux, cremated at Brux.


    Anne
    Last edited by aestorm; 21st September 2010 at 09:08.

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