View Full Version : F/O (later W/C) Thomas Bernard FITZGERALD - No.103 Squadron - DFC and bio

18th May 2022, 16:01
FITZGEREALD, Thomas Bernard, Flying Officer (40783) later Wing Commander – No. 103 Squadron – Distinguished Flying Cross – awarded as per London Gazette dated 14 June 1940. Published citation. Biographical Information from Spink catalogue of 23 November 2006.

‘In May, 1940, Flying Officer Fitzgerald carried out a successful and daring low flying attack against the enemy at Sedan. During a second raid a few days late, he was wounded but succeeded in effecting a forced landing and saving the lives of his crew’.

Wing Commander Thomas Bernard Fitzgerald, DFC., Born Temuka, South Canterbury, New Zealand, 1919, educated Timaru Boy’s High School; joined as Pilot Officer, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 8.6.1937; trained at R.N.Z.A.F. Wigram, January 1937 – May 1938; sailed for the UK in the S.S. Tamaroa, 23.4.1938; transferred Pilot Officer Royal Air Force, 1.6.1938; joined 103 Squadron, Usworth (Hawker Hinds and Fairey Battles), 15.6.1938; moved with the Squadron to Abingdon, Benson and to Challerange, France as part of the Advanced Air Striking Force, 2.9.1939; Fitzgerald led a section of three Fairey Battles 12.5.1940 as part of a bomber force attacking bridges and roads near Sedan (see D.F.C. citation), they were attacked by Bf 110’s and were forced to fly at low level along the Meuse, bombing from 20 feet whilst their gunners fired at German troops; two days later he was in the vicinity again, ‘Sedan. Dive Bombing 4/250lb. Attacked by two 109’s at 4000, clear sky. Shot down. Both ok’. (Log Book refers).

Having managed to shoot the two German planes down, Fitzgerald managed to make a forced-landing among French troops despite having been wounded in the shoulder and the left hand; he spent a brief period of recuperation in England before he volunteered for Fighter Command and was posted as a Flight Commander 141 Squadron, Turnhouse (Defiants), 10.8.1940; Flight Lieutenant 1.1.1941; posted 23 Squadron, Ford (Havocs), 1.5.1941, and flew intruder Operations with the squadron including: 7.7.1941, ‘Intruder to Le Touquet. No Activity. Bombed Aerodrome + machine gunned dispersals’; 8.7.1941, ‘Intruder to Caen. Dive bombed aerodrome Heavy Flak’; 16.7.1941, ‘Intruder to Le Coulet: Belgium, direct hits on gasworks. Bombed Railway S.E. Brussels’ (Log Book refers); converted to Hurricanes September 1941 and posted later that month as a Flight Commander to 607 Squadron, Martlesham Heath; posted 41 Squadron, Merston (Spitfires), 24.10.1941; placed on Special Duties List, February 1942 and posted to Hawker Aircraft Factory at Langley, as a test pilot; Squadron Leader 1.3.1942; on 23.8.1942, he was flying the original pre-war prototype Hurricane (still fabric covered with no armoured plate, but camouflaged and fitted with guns), when he was fired on by a Do.17, which he then attacked and damaged; Fitzgerald returned to New Zealand attached to the R.N.Z.A.F. and was posted to the Command of 14 (R.N.Z.A.F.) Squadron, Santo, Solomon Islands, January 1943; returned to the UK mid-November 1943 and went to De Havilland’s as a test pilot; posted A.F.D.U., Wittering, June 1944; he returned to operational duty when he was posted as Wing Leader at Coltishall, with the rank of Acting Wing Commander; posted 2nd Tactical Air Force H.Q., January 1945; transferred back to the R.N.Z.A.F., February 1945, before being released 15.12.1947.