View Full Version : WO Thomas McNeil ORMISTON, DFC - No.277 Squadron - award recommendations

7th February 2022, 14:50
ORMISTON, Thomas McNeill, Warrant Officer (1368751, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve) - No.277 Squadron - Air Medal (United States) - awarded as per London Gazette dated 20 July 1943 and Eighth Air Force General Order No.104 dated 16 July 1943. Public Record Office Air 2/9599 has citation.

For meritorious achievement in accomplishing more than thirteen successful Air/Sea Rescue missions. The courage and skill displayed by Warrant Officer Ormiston on all these occasions reflect the highest credit upon himself and the armed forces of His Majesty's government.

ORMISTON, Thomas McNeill, Warrant Officer (1368751) – No. 277 Squadron, Distinguished Flying Cross – awarded as per London Gazette dated 7 September 1943.

Warrant Officer Ormiston has participated in many air/sea rescue operations and has rendered excellent service. In July, 1943, he piloted an aircraft detailed to rescue a bomber crew adrift in their dinghy some 90 miles east of Orfordness. The dinghy was successfully located and, although heavy seas were running, Warrant Officer Ormiston skilfully brought his aircraft down on to the water and the crew were taken aboard. Owing to the very heavy swell he was unable to take off again. Nevertheless, displaying great resolution he taxied the aircraft on a course towards home. The sea became very rough but Warrant Officer Ormiston battled on escorted by 4 motor gun boats which had been diverted to his assistance. Seven hours later, when within 20 miles of Lowestoft the petrol became exhausted and, after much manoeuvring in the darkness, the 'aircraft was taken in tow by i of the gunboats. The aircraft was severely buffeted, however, and an hour later, after its members had been taken aboard the towing vessel, the aircraft had to be abandoned for the night. Warrant Officer Ormiston displayed great courage, fortitude and resource in very trying circumstances.

Public Record Office Air 2/4995 has recommendation drafted 25 July 1943, noting that he already held the American Air Medal.

The special rescue for which, in addition to his previous work, Warrant Officer Ormiston is recommended for an award, is as follows:

On June 22, at 19.30 hours, Warrant Officer Ormiston landed on the sea some 90 miles due East of Orford Ness within a few miles of the Dutch Coast, picking up 4 members of a Halifax crew from 102 Squadron who had been there since the early hours of that morning.

Owing to the weight of those rescued, and his own crew, Warrant Officer Ormiston could not take off, particularly as there was a considerable swell at the time. He therefore taxied on a Westerly course at 14 knots at a rate which he calculated would give him the most economic petrol consumption.

At 21.55 hours, two FW.190s attempted to interfere with the rescue but were driven off by the escort of two Spitfires.

The sea gradually increased and dual control was necessary during the whole of the taxying (over seven hours). By 23.00 hours, the swell had increased to 10-15 feet. 4 M.G.B.s were therefore diverted from Lowestoft to help. These escorted the Walrus until 02.00 hours when petrol was exhausted, the position then being approximately 20 miles East of Lowestoft. After 20 minutes manoeuvring (it was now dark), one M.G.B. took the Walrus in tow, but after a further hour as the Walrus was getting so badly buffeted by the swell and the wake of the M.G.B., it was decided to transfer the crew to the MG.B. and abandon the Walrus for the night. Warrant Officer Ormiston and his crew had then been airborne, or at sea, in their Walrus for nearly 9 hours.

Warrant Officer Ormiston showed exceptional qualities of leadership, resourcefulness and courage in bringing off this successful rescue which was much aided by the good cooperation of the Navy. Only outstanding work and fine discipline by all concerned made this possible – as an example, owing to the amount of water shipped, one of the air crew of the Walrus (Sgt. Mann) had to pump for almost the whole of the seven hours that the aircraft was on the water.

The transfer of the 7 aircrews (including the 4 rescued) to the M.G.B. after signal given and received by Aldis lamp, was only made possible by the steadiness and obedience to orders of all concerned, for all of which the greatest credit should be given to the captain of the aircraft, Warrant Officer Ormiston.

(Signed Wing Commander, Commanding, R.A.F. Station, Martlesham on 23 July 1943)

“In addition, It should be stated that this W/O sets an excellent example for keenness and enthusiasm in his work.”

(Signed by W/C, Commanding, R.A.F. Station, Martlesham Heath on 24 /07/43)

“This officer has a long record of successful A/S/R successes.?? Recommended for the immediate award of the A.F.C.”

(Signed by Officer Commanding No. 11 Group, AVC, dated 7/8/43)

“Approved”. (Signed by Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief on 28/8/43)

W/O Ormiston pick ups

Date - Place - Aircraft -Rescued
6.10.42 - Off Bradwell Bay - Walrus - A.G. of Boston from sandbank (two dead)
31.4.43 - 85 miles S.E. of base - Walrus - Lt. Alois Haarlos (German) - Airborne after 6 bounces
22.5.43 - 90 miles E. Orford Ness - Walrus - Sgts Ward, Brennan, Tudbury and Wager - 15 miles W. of Schouen - 102 Squadron.
13.2.43 - Off Felixtowe - Walrus - U.S.A. pilot dragged along by parachute. Guided HSL’s to spot and they picked up.
25.6.43 - 32 miles S.E. Felixstowe - Spitfire - six crew of Stirling in dinghy. Dropped dinghy and guided launches which picked up safely.

Enemy Aircraft Score
One destroyed Me.109E, 4th September 1941 – 611 Squadron. One probable on same date.

Total Operational Time - Spitfires 115 hours (42 hrs with A.S.R., 73 hrs with 66 Squadron, 66 hours with 611 Squadron; Walrus, 58 hours (A.S.R.); Defiant - 11 hours (A.S.R.); Lysander – 38 hours (A.S.R.). Total hours = 222 hours.