O’NEILL, Hugh Francis, Pilot Officer (41312) – No. 224 Squadron – Distinguished Flying Cross – awarded as per London Gazette dated 30 July 1940. From Spink catalogue of 20 April 2005. Transcribed by Huguette Mondor Oates. No published citation. The recommendation states

‘This officer has flown 360 hours operational flying since commencement of War. He has shown great courage and determination and is full of fighting spirit.

“On 15.4.40, he flew his aircraft with great determination to Stavangar aerodrome, 300 miles across the North Sea. It was dark, and a gale wind blowing accompanied by heavy showers of sleet. Very heavy A.A. fire was encountered, which included chain shells which burst into groups of bluish-white stars which again exploded in spite of this opposition the bombs were dropped on the corner of the aerodrome in which the hangar stood, causing considerable damage. The pilot and navigator made commendably detailed observations of the ground defences, and on their return were able to plot these on photographs.

“On 16.4.40, this officer carried out a most successful reconnaissance of Bergen, Birkeland and Arne. Much important information was obtained, and some excellent photographs taken from low altitude. Towards the end of the reconnaissance, two enemy Me 109’s were sighted but, by making skillful use of the contours of the country, the pilot managed to avoid detection and so returned safely with the information he had obtained.

“On 18.4.40, when on escort duty to H.M.S. Suffolk and four destroyers, he attacked and drove off a Do.215 which was attempting to attack the ships and later by circling the surface vessels kept off another Do.215 until the arrival of 3 Skaus who drove the enemy off.

“On 23.4.40, while on reconnaissance of Romsdale Fjord was fired on by shore battery at Asndalsness, A/C sustained 3 direct hits inflicting severe damage to the starboard wheel, tanks were punctured and approximately 100 gals of petrol and 12 gallons oil lost. In spite of loss of fuel and damage to A/C, this officer made a successful return flight across the North Sea and made a safe landing.

“On 12.6.40, he carried out a bombing raid on shipping in Bergen Harbour, direct hit obtained with 4250 lb and 3 incendiaries on Lakswaag Docks, on leaving target, fire was observed growing in intensity, fire was observed near docks in water probably a ship. Heavy A.A. fire was encountered during raid.

“This officer, during his operational work has shown a high standard of gallantry and by returning his aircraft and crew safely to base after engagement with the enemy shows a high standard of skill and determination.”

O’NEILL, Hugh Francis, Squadron Leader (41312) – No. 1435 Squadron – Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross – awarded as per London Gazette dated 1 October 1943. No published citation. From Spink catalogue of 20 April 2005. The recommendation states

“S/L O’Neill assumed command of No. 1435 Squadron on 10th March 1943, and during his tour of duty in Malta has led the squadron with great success. He has also on a number of occasions led the Wing in which his squadron was a unit.

“On 22nd March, 1943, he led the Squadron in a low-level attack on a factory in Sicily upon which direct hits were obtained. Again on 15th, 23rd, 27th, and 29th June, 1943, he led the squadron in fighter bomber attacks on targets at Comiso, Pozzallo and Gerbini, direct hits being scored on each occasion. In addition, he has attacked and damaged a tank landing craft off Augusta and a schooner off Syracuse.

“He has completed 912 operational flying hours, 92 of which have been flown from Malta. His operational flying has involved 350 operational sorties, 8 of which he has carried out from Malta including sweeps, escorts to bombers, fighter bomber raids on enemy territory and intruder sorties. His total score to date is 2 and half enemy aircraft destroyed and 5 damaged.

“S/L O’Neill is a determined leader and sets an example to his pilots by his courage and determination”.

O’NEILL, Hugh Francis, Wing Commander, DFC – Netherlands Flying Cross – awarded 8 December 1947. The recommendation states:
‘Gallantry, leadership and determination displayed in action against the enemy during a number of flights in an aeroplane in the period of half a year, in his function of Commander of 322 Dutch Squadron of fighter-aircrafts. His devotion and willingness to join issue with the enemy at all times, have been an example to the Dutch flying-men under his command.”

Group Captain Hugh Francis O’Neill, DFC and Bar, born 1920, commissioned Pilot Officer, Royal Air Force, 29.8.1939; during this period, he flew reconnaissance missions (see D.F.C. Recommendations) also escort duties including 17.2.1940; during this period, he flew reconnaissance missions (see D.F.C. Recommendation), also escort duties including 17.2.1940 “Battle Flight’ Escort to Destroyers carrying prisoners from the Altmark”; 21.3.1940” ‘Battle Flight Escort to Aurora, Arethusa, Galatea, Penelope and 8 destroyers off Norway”; 14.4.1940 “Attack on Skarvanger Aerodrome” (see D.F.C. recommendation); 11.5.1940 “Escort to H.M.S. Kelly attacked 3 Ju.88’s”; 21.6.1940 “Attack on Scharnhorst and 5 D.R. Hit by A.A. and M.E.109, “Landed Somburgh”; Flight Lieutenant 3.9.1940 (D.F.C. London Gazette 30.7.1940; M.I.D. 11.8.1940); Flying Instructor in Oxfords and Paratroop Training in Whitleys, 14.9.1940 – 17.12.1940; posted 93 (N.F.) Squadron, December 1940 – 1.3.1941; posted 79 Fighter Squadron (Hurricanes), January 1941 with whom he mainly flew Convoy Escorts and Coastal Sweeps.

North Africa

In May 1941, O’Neill joined 238 Fighter Squadron (Hurricanes), bound for Egypt; on 29.9.1941, he was appointed Squadron Leader Commanding 238 Squadron just ten days after his 21st birthday; Log book entries include: 29.11.1941 “Wing sweep Gumbut – Tobruch. Shot down G. 50 over El Adem.”; 2.12.1941 “Wing sweep. Gabr Saleh Damaged Me. 110.”; 8.12.1941 “Pursuit of Me. 110’s Ground Strafing aerodrome – Me. 110’s staffed Maddalena area and shot down two 86 ambulances. Took off in a hurry and chased them but without avail”; 14.12.1941 “Scramble Dusk attack on aerodrome, damaged Heinkel III”; 26.12.1941 “Scramble. Attacked and damaged HE. III – He.111 dropped a stick of bombs on aerodrome. Scrambled and caught it. Fired a couple of burst and then ran out of ammunition. Bloody nuisance!”; assumed Command of the Tobruk Sector January 1942 and was Air Advisor to the Royal Egyptian Force.


Arriving at Malta 14.1.1943, O’Neill was attached to 1435 Fighter Squadron (Spitfires) and on 11 March he took command; the Squadron flew specially adapted Spitfires carrying two 250lb. bombs mounted on wing-racks, hence operations include: 4.4.1943 “Bombing attack on Syracuse, hits in harbour and town; 12.4.1943 “Offensive sweep between Western Sicily and Pantellaria. one Ju. 88 damaged”; 16.4.1943 “Cover for H.M.S. Pakenham 12 miles off Empedocle Ju.88 destroyed, G.50 damaged”; 17.4.1943, “Bombing attack on Biscari, hits on Aerodrome and dispersal”; 28.4.1943, “Bombing attack on Syracuse, hits on E-boat base and power station. Lots of flak”; 22.5.1943, “Led Wing-bombing attack on Gela Aerodrome. Direct hits from 15,000 ft. Lots of 109’s and 190’s – 2 A/C shot down, 1 pilot ok, 1 Me.109 destroyed, 2 damaged”; 27.5.1943 “Escort to P.R.U. Photographing coast from Gela to Scalambri – Wing Commander A. Warburton photographing the Sicilian coast as a prelude to the invasion”; sorties undertaken during the next month included more bombing raids over Sicily prior to the invasion of the island 10.7.1943 (Bar to D.F.C.).


Posted home 11.10.1943, for the next twelve months O’Neill was on the Air Staff of Headquarters 9 Group, Fighter Command; during this period he was attached to 274 Fighter Squadron (Supernumary), 23.8.1944 - 27.9.1944, and flew his first operational sortie since July 1943, on 16.9.44 “Armed Reconnaissance – Holland attacked V.2 site, train and staff car”; appointed Officer Commanding 322 Fighter (Dutch) Squadron (Spitfires), 17.11.1944; initially flying out of Biggin Hill the Squadron moved to Woenstrecht in Holland 3.1.1945; sorties included: 5.1.1945 “Squadron bombing attack on Kerkwik. Armed Recce Utrecht-Amersfoort. Several direct hits”; 17.1.1945 “Squadron bombing attack on Midget Submarine Base, Hook of Holland – bombing good, fairly intense flak”; 22.1.1945 “Squadron bombing attack on Oxygen Factory Dordrecht”; 28.1.1945 “Low level attack on Saboteur School Doorn” (Netherlands Flying Cross). British C.O. and Wing Commander Operations 132 (Norwegian) Wing, 1.3.1945; on 20th April the same year, O’Neill took up his last wartime appointment as Wing Commander Plans at 84 Group Control Centre, Lingen, Germany; Officer Commanding 6 Aircrew holding Unit, Kirton-in-Lindsey, September 1945; Wing Commander Flying Lincolnshire Fighter Sector, Blakney Hall, December 1945 and in early 1946, made Officer Commanding; Group Captain 1.1.1962; Group Captain O’Neill retired 3.12.1966.