View Full Version : RAF claims Colombo/Trincomalee April 1942

31st July 2010, 07:39

I am interested in the names of allied pilots (30, 258, 261, 273 Sqns RAF) who made claims against the Japanese during the Colombo and Trincomalee raids (5th and 9th April 1942)? There seems to be differing tallies and credits between various published sources and online material. Bloody Shambles Vol 2 has an excellent overview, however, the credits are not entirely clear especially for those who claimed probables and damaged. Any help appreciated.

Regards, Drew H

3rd August 2010, 03:20
Some additional detail......

If I have transcribed correctly the following are a summary of RAF results (claims by 803/806 Sqns RN excluded) from the Ceylon raids. Some of the individual credits apparently do not correlate with the squadron tallies. Information sourced from Bloody Shambles Vol 2, Aces High and Those Other Eagles. I would welcome any further detail/addition/correction regarding probable and damage claims made by pilots of 30 Sqn, 261 Sqn and 273 Sqn.

Regards, Drew H

5 April 1942
30 Sqn RAF initially credited with 11:7:5, later revised to 14:6:5.
3:0:0 B - P/O J.A. Whalen
1:0:0 B - F/Lt R.T.P. Davidson
2:0:0 B - P/O A. Wagner
1:0:0 B - P/O D.A. McDonald
2:0:0 u/k F/O R. Allison
1?:0:0 u/k Sgt A.J. Browne
1:0:0 F - F/Lt R.T.P. Davidson
2:0:0 F - F/Sgt T.G. Paxton
2:0:0 F - P/O G.E. Caswell
1?:0:0 F - Sgt R.L. Davies

258 Sqn RAF credited with 4:1:4
1:0:0 B - F/Lt S.R. Peacock-Edwards
1:0:0 B - S/Ldr P.C. Fletcher
1:0:1 B - F/Lt D.J.T. Sharp
1:0:0 B - P/O C. Campbell-White
0:0:1 B - P/O A. Brown
0:0:1 B - P/O D.B.F. Nicholls
0:0:1 B - Sgt R. Thain
0:1:0 F - F/Lt S.R. Peacock-Edwards

9 April 1942
261 Sqn RAF tally listed as 8:4:6 including 4 bombers + 4 fighters destroyed; 1 bomber + 3 fighters probable; 5 bombers + 1 fighter damaged. At least one other source has tally at 8:0:12 and another at 14:14:3!
1:0:0 B - F/Lt R.B. Cleaver
0:2?:0 B - F/Sgt J.D. Martin
0:1?:0 B - Sgt D.D.P. Bowie
0:3?:1? B - P/O R.G. Hall
0:0:2 B - P/O E. Mayes
2:0:0 B - F/Sgt C.J. Gauthier
2:0:0 F - F/Lt D. Fulford
1:1:0 F - Sgt L.T. Rawnsley
1:0:0 F - F/O C.F. Counter
0:1:0 F - F/O J.V. Marshall
0:1?:0 F - Sgt A.T. Warnick
0:1:1 F - Sgt K.A.S. Mann

273 Sqn RAF apparent tally of 1:3:2, all bombers
1:0:1 Lt P.E.I. Bailey
0:1:0 S/Lt N.A. Neal
0:1:0 Lt P.P. Nelson-Gracie
0:0:2 u/k

5th August 2010, 09:14
Hi Drew,

30 Sqn's ORB for the 5th April 1942 states a Captain from the Ceylon Light Infantry arrived with the body of A.J Browne. The Captain had witnessed the combat between Browne and a Japanese aircraft. Browne had shot down an enemy aircraft but in doing so he was attacked from astern and he was shot down in flames crashing into a paddy field where the Infantry recovered his body.

A discrepancy on the initials on one of your names, Allison was in fact T.H.C Allison, Travers Howard Clifford. I have a copy of his logbook from his son however I only copied his time flying Blenheim's with 30 Sqn which is my particular interest.

30 Sqn are still flying and based at RAF Lyneham (for now). They have a history room there with many references to 5th April 1942 so it might be worth getting in touch with them.


6th August 2010, 04:54
Thanks for your response Simon.

I was in contact with the 30 Sqn Association a few years back including D.A. McDonald RCAF. He provided me with a wealth of information about the raid from a 30 Sqn perspective. Most of the details are no different to what is written in Bloody Shambles. There were seemingly several witnessed accounts of pilots ‘shooting down’ an enemy aircraft. However, whether these were classed as destroyed or probable is the big question. In the case of 30 Sqn the tally as I have listed is 16 destroyed; so one could assume there would be at least two that were actually probable or damaged. By my reckoning the claims of Browne, Caswell and Davies (ironically all Australian) fit within the category of being either destroyed, probable or damaged. Would you still have a contact for Allison’s son? If so, perhaps you could send me a PM?

Regards, Drew

29th June 2011, 12:11
Hello there.
I'm the grandson of Sergeant Whittaker of 30 squadron. His logbook entry of the 5th April notes two probables, one damaged. He was himself forced to ditch his aircraft (BG.887) after he took a slug in each petrol tank.
Hope this is of some use.

30th June 2011, 02:08
Hi jamtomorrow,

Many thanks for your reply and additional information. Does your grandfather’s logbook indicate type of claims?

Also….I only have his first name initial of ‘F’. Could you please provide his name and service number? Similarly, any further details of his wartime service would be of interest.

Regards, Drew

Rob Stuart
30th June 2011, 10:31

I too would be very interested to learn more about your grandfather's involvement in the battle over Colombo on 5 April. Neither Bloody Shambles (vol. 2) nor Flat Out (the 30 Sqn history) make any mention of what he did on 5 April, and his two probables and one damaged are not in Drew's list. I'd be interested in such details as the time he took off, who else was in his section, the time at which he ditched, and anything else you may be able to add.

By the way, in Flat Out there's a picture of your grandfather on page 159 just after he landed BG887 back on Indomitable and another, as a pilot officer, on page 173.



30th June 2011, 11:43
Hello all

The F in F Whittaker stood for Fred (just Fred, not Frederick, although he may well be recorded as such in various places; he often had the experience of emphatically denying being called Frederick to various clerks, only to see them record just that on various forms). His service number was (I think - it's a little hard to decipher on the photocopies I have) 1012772.

As for the events of April 5th, his logbook cites the duty as "Panic" (which I take it is the term used for a scramble to intercept enemy), next to which he wrote "And how!" On the facing page he has written "Heavy Jap force. Got in 3 bursts. 2 Probables. 1 Damaged." and then, next to that: "One slug in each petrol tank." I'm afraid I haven't got any details other than those.

The aircraft he was flying is designated as Hurricane II, number BG.887. There's no further record of where he came down, nor of how extensive damage to the aircraft was, nor any issues relating to its recovery. He's flying again on April 8th (I can't make out the number of the aircraft, but it wasn't BG.887), the duty this time being L.F.P. (he seems to have done a lot of that - can anyone enlighten me as to what it stood for?). He flew BG.887 (now designated "Hurricane IIB") again on August 16th (spotting for guns), and took the aircraft from Ratmalana to Katakarunda on the 20th. Thereafter his aircraft are all designated as being Hurricane IICs. I don't know if the aircraft is the recovered and repaired one that he was shot down in, nor whether anyone else flew it before the 16th.

As for the battle itself, he never really spoke about it in any detail; he had hundreds of stories from his days with the RAF, but, perhaps understandably, he talked little about actual combat. I do know that at first he thought that his engine was sparking, and then he realised that tracer rounds were whizzing past his cockpit! He surmised that the Japanese pilot on his tail had opened up on him too early, so that his bullet streams had converged behind the Hurricane and were diverging once more, resulting in the puncturing of the petrol tanks. I get the impression that the aircraft, though crippled, was still under his control, though he described the whole thing as a "parachute-chewing moment" (a reference to the pilots' practice of sitting on their parachutes!).

He stayed with 30 Squadron until 18th March 1944, when he was seconded to ACSEA H.Q. Comm. Sqdn. Special Force in Burma.

The original of my grandfather's logbook, along with sundry other items such as his certificate from the Secretary of State for Air (Archibald somebody, I can't make out the signature) acknowledging his being "mentioned in a Despatch for distinguished service", his silk scarf with map of Burma printed on it, his "Goolie Chits" and some other bits and pieces are going to be given to the Imperial War Museum (I think - I'll check on that) in the near future.

My grandfather loved his service with the RAF, and I think it's true to say that the second world war was the happiest time of his life. He wrote a short memoir of his experiences, and I'll dig this out and publish it here in the not too distant future.

Meantime, I'll try and get hold of a copy of Flat Out and Bloody Shambles to fill in my own background knowledge!

1st July 2011, 12:15
Hi jamtomorrow,

This is fantastic information that has helped fill in a few more gaps regarding 30 Sqn’s involvement on April 5th. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to any future posts about Fred’s service.

Regards, Drew

PS: I have sent you a PM.

Rob Stuart
1st July 2011, 18:31

The letter after the mark number indicates the aircraft's armament. A Hurricane IIA had eight .303 machine guns, a IIB had 12 .303 machine guns and a IIC had four 20mm cannon. It is my understanding that on 5 April all of 30 Sqn's aircraft were Hurricane IIB's. If your grandfather's log refers to BG887 as just a Mark II in places then he was simply omitting the letter.

The RAF never re-used serial numbers, so the BG887 he flew on 16 August was the same Hurricane IIB as before. You say your grandfather "ditched" his aircraft. This often refers to landing an aircraft in the water but I suspect that in this case he simply made a hurried or forced landing, for fear of losing all his fuel. (The Hurricane had self-sealing fuel tanks but if any of the "slugs" which hit him were 20mm shells the holes would likely have been too big to be sealed.) He must not have bailed out, as an aircraft crashing without a pilot would not have been repairable.

Yes, the "Panic" in the log for 5 April must refer to the squadron being scrambled, but your grandfather probably meant to imply that it was not an ordinary scramble, because in fact on that day the early warning and fighter control arrangements broke down and no timely scramble was ordered. All of the fighter units at Ratmalana and the Racecourse scrambled only when they saw the Japanese for themselves from their airfields. Slightly different times have been recorded for 30 Squadron's scramble, so can you say what time is recorded in your grandfather's log for his own take-off?

You should have a look at John Barrass's article on 30 Squadron's involvement in the battle over Colombo, at http://www.30squadronassociation.com/history/ceylon.html, if you've not seen it already. My own article at http://www.journal.dnd.ca/vo7/no4/stuart-eng.asp may be of interest too.

The Secretary of State for Air was Sir Archibald Sinclair (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archibald_Sinclair,_1st_Viscount_Thurso).



18th July 2011, 20:46
Many thanks for that info, Rob.

I did mention that there was a memoir written by my grandfather (Fred Whittaker) & that I'd post it. I've now done so (thread title something obvious like "Memoir of Fred Whittaker"), if any are interested to read it.