Roll of Honour - Recollections and Memories
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|Lee on Solent Personalities from around the Commonwealth|
PHOTO OF SAILOR - This photograph was taken in January 1993 on completion of my training as an Aircraft Engineering Mechanic at HMS Daedalus, Lee On Solent (reference: Pickles website).
|Australian Personalities at Lee on Solent|
Lawrence Percival Coombes
The records of L.P. Coombes were deposited with the La Trobe Library,
State Library of Victoria, in 1993. Probationary Flight Officer (RNAS)
of Ship President from 22 July 1917; PFO of Air Station Chingford from
24 August 1917; PFO of Air Station Cranwell from 6 October 1917; Temporary
Flight Sub-Lieutenant of Ship, Daedalus from 28 November 1917; Flight Sub-
Lieutenant of Air station Dunkirk from 11 January 1918. 1917 - 1918, 2mm.
letter of demobilisation, 30 April 1919. DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS DOCUMENTATION
Listing of Army Orders for awards; actual certificate of DFC award. 23
July 1918, cuttings on fellow-officers (R. Collishaw, C.W. Payton, H.T.
Mellings, Hinchcliffe. typewritten copy of extracts from the log-book of
Capt. W.G.R. Hinchcliffe mentioning LPC. extract from article on Sopwith
Camel from squadron of LPC.
|British Personalities at Lee on Solent|
George Stainforth 29/9/1931
Flight Lieutenant G H Stainforth of the High Speed Flight established a new World speed record at 407.49mph in the Supermarine S6B at Lee-on-Solent.
Immediately after the Schneider Cup competition, September 16, 1931, the British airman Flt Lt Stainforth with a Supermarine SB-6 acrruied out speed trials. His aircraft was equiped with a 2300 CV engine specially designed for speed records, using a unique fuel mixture of petrol, methanol and ethyl. Starting the engine was uneasy and there was considerable danger of engine explosion. Stainforth took off from the water after a very long run up, required as his aircraft had no flaps. At 400m height he established a new record at 655 km/h.
Later Wing Commander George Stainforth, along with Roland Robert Stanford Tuck the Battle of Britain ace, was posted to Farnborough in south central England in June 1940. His task was to take part in comparison trials of a captured Me-109E and a Spitfire Mark II. The tests began with Stainforth flying the Me-109 and Tuck flying the Spitfire in level flight, dives and turns, and at various speeds at different altitudes.
Halfway through the trials the pilots switched aircraft. Tuck reported that the Me-109 was "without a doubt a most delightful little airplane--not as maneuverable as the Spit...but certainly it was slightly faster, and altogether it had a wonderful performance." The one thing Tuck got out of the Farnborough trials was the ability to put himself inside the enemy's cockpit.
The Stainforth Trophy is in honour of Wing Commander George Stainforth, Officer Commanding 89 Squadron, who died whilst in action in the Middle East in 1942. - The Stainforth Trophy is awarded to the Station for their operational excellence and contribution to the Royal Air Force as a whole (reference: Stainforth Trophy).
Mike Saunders - BEM - Business Coordinator, Royal Navy Historic Flight
From 1966 to 1971 Mike completed Mechanicians Course at RNAS Arbroath and a trade conversion at RNAS Lee-on-Solent emerging as an Electrical Mechanician 1st Class (Chief Petty Officer).
|Canadian Personalities at Lee on Solent|
First World War Honours and Wards to Canadian in British Flying Services
Captain Thomas Grove GORDON
Mention in Despatches - awarded as per London Gazette dated 11 December 1917. Born in UK and next-of-kin in Dorset. Railway surveyor in Canada before the war. Joined 31st Regiment, British Columbia. Horse (Headquarters in Merritt, British Columbia), 15 August 1914; to Lord Strathcona Horse, while at Valcartier; sailed overseas, 7 October 1914; to France, May 1915; wounded 6 August 1915; appointed 2nd Lieutenant, RFC, 2 February 1916; to UK, 16 November 1916; served in No.10 Squadron, 1 June 1916 to 7 November 1917; to No.6 AA Park, 7 November 1917 (Equipment Officer). In 1922 was a Squadron Leader in RAF at Lee-on-Solent. GORDON, Captain Thomas Grove - Member, Order of the British Empire - awarded as per London Gazette dated 3 June 1919. For services with Independent Fore. AIR 1/1155/204/5/2441 (MG.40 D.1 Volume 20) has a recommendation (undated) describing him as Equipment Officer, Headquarters, 9th Wing; this might be for either the MiD or MBE:
For conspicuous keenness and devotion to duty. He has fully realized that the success of the squadrons in the Wing is largely dependant on the efficient supply of equipment material, and has spared himself nothing in his endeavours to satisfy their wants. No hours are too long for him and he is always ready to assist in any difficulties.
Captain James Steel MAITLAND
Air Force Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 1 January 1919. Born 27 August 1887 in Scotland; to Canada about 1910 (architect in Montreal); attended Thomas Morse School, Ithaca, but no certificate; appointed Probationary Flight Sub-Lieutenant in Ottawa, 16 December 1915; sailed on Philadelphia, 18 December 1915; at Calshot, 18 September 1916 throughout the war (detached to Lee-on-Solent from about 18 September 1918 onwards); Flight Sub-Lieutenant, 18 December 1916, Acting Flight Lieutenant, 8 March 1918; Flight Lieutenant, 1 October 1917.
Captain Percival WICKENS
Air Force Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 1 January 1919. Born in England, 4 January 1891 and educated there; came to Canada in 1913; master at St.Alban's School, Brockville. Attended Curtiss School, Toronto and attained Royal Aero Club certificate No.4046, 21 November 1916; appointed Probationary Flight Sub-Lieutenant, RNAS, Ottawa, 22 November 1916; to Cranwell, 18 June 1918; to Calshot (for instruction), 18 September 1917; to Lee-on-Solent Seaplane School (not under training), 18 December 1917; at Calshot (patrol duties, Lee-on-Solent area), 18 September and 18 December 1918).
Inter-war and Second World War Canadian personalities
Lt Cdr Roy S Baker-Falkner DSC DSC RN
Honours and Awards: DSC (1942), DSO (1944), MID, Battle of Britain.Missing:18.7.1944
Grew up in the Prairie provinces and Saanich, British Colombia. Served at the Fleet Air Arm squadron pool 1937/1938 at Lee-On-Solent. Involved in Dunkirk evacuation 1940, took part in the Battle of Britain 1940, was Fairey Barracuda test pilot at A&AEE Boscombe Down (1942-1943) during which time he was involved in demonstrating the new dive bomber Fairey Barracuda, to theAdmiralty and Politicians at Le on Solent, and subsequently train new squadrons on this type of aircraft at Lee. Subsequently took up command as first Wing Leader 8th Naval TBR Wing, and led the FAA attack on German Battleship Tirpitz, Operation Tungsten, 3.4.1944
Robert Hampton "Hammy" Gray, VC, DSC, RCNVR
"Hammy" Gray Robert Hampton Gray was born on 2 November, 1916
at Trail, B.C., Canada. In July, 1940 Hammy enlisted at the naval reserve unit (later HMCS Tecumseh). In 1940 he joined the Fleet Air Arm, and about two dozen of the Canadians transferred to HMS St Vincent at Gosport for basic training. He reported to HMS Daedalus, Lee-on-Solent, and in June was posted to 748 squadron.
On August 9, Hammy led his wing into the attack on Japanese destroyers
at Onagawa Bay.
At 09:20, Hammy led the flight into the attack from 10,000 feet, and came in low over the hills and levelled out over the water at about 50 feet. He aimed for the Amakusa but was hit by fire. One bomb was shot off and the airplane caught fire. Hammy released the second bomb which hit the Amakusa below the No. 2 gun platform and penetrated into the engine room before exploding. As Hammy's plane flew away from the ship, it suddenly burst into flame, rolled to the right and crashed into the ocean. The Amakusa quickly flooded, and listed to starboard. The bugle sounded "abandon ship" and survivors jumped into the water. The ship went down quickly, taking 71 crew with it.
On August 31, 1945, Lt. Hampton Gray was officially awarded the Distinguished
Service Cross, and on November 13, he was further awarded the Victoria Cross.
|Irish Personalities at Lee on Solent|
Lieutenant-Commander E. Esmonde, VC
825 Squadron—Lt. Cdr. Eugene Esmonde, at Lee-on-Solent, 6 Swordfish, transferred to Manston at Admiral Ramsay’s request on or about 6th February: Admiral Bertram Ramsay thought that a daylight break-out would be attempted, and that the RAF and RN forces lacked the necessary torpedo bombers to stop the German Squadron. He therefore requested and received the redeployment of 825 Squadron from Lee-on-Solent to Manston. All of Coastal command’s other torpedo bomber squadrons were in the Mediterranean. In 1939, June. Commanding Officer of No.754 Squadron Fleet Air Arm HMS Daedalus at Lee-on-Solent, flying the Walrus, Magister, Mentor, Sea Fox and Swordfish, . Comissioned as CO of 825 sqdn in 1942 at Lee, Lieutenant-Commander E. Esmonde, later awarded a posthumous VC for operations in the English channel against the Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen.
Read the story of the Channel Dash operation.
|New Zealand Personalities at Lee on Solent|
Francis Bentinck (Ben) Heffer was born on November 10th 1919 in Otaki New Zealand at a small hospital. He grew up in Waikanae a small town close by and played on the School Rugby team. Though New Zealand was not officially at war with anyone, its status a commonwealth nation of the British Empire and with the national psyche being so linked to England as the mother country, it was natural that the New Zealanders were the first of the Dominions to show their allegiance.A friend told him about the Fleet Air Arm and how he was getting in much earlier. Ben took the trip down to Wellington to stand before the Naval Selection Board, all the medical tests were repeated and strangely, they asked him if he played golf. Bens Reply: "Yes and my response was not strictly a lie when I said yes, but hitting golf balls around the sand hills and swamps was not exactly playing golf.Ben enters the service in 1942 at age 22.Ben and 30 others were transferred to Lee on Solent to await transport to the USA. There he was given guard duty. Ben memories of this duty are as follows: I recall the first night there doing guard duty around the airfield with a rifle with (1) one round of ammo! The threat of German parachutists was still hanging over the country at the time. I had a fixed bayonet so after firing my one round I could have held the rifle upright on the ground and hoped the enemy would fall on it!!" Long delays kept Ben assigned to the airfield with little to do. One day when assigned to do some chore Ben and his friend Geoff sneaked off to find a sunny place to relax behind the barracks. A Walrus amphibian had just taken off from the airfield and was in trouble.
Photo of Lt (A) Ben Hefer DSC RNZNVR
Suddenly it turned right toward Ben and Geoff, descending rapidly to
the barracks near where they had been taking their break. All three of the crew were killed.
July 21 1944 Ben and his group are ordered to fly to the HMS Victorious and prepare for an operation against Sabang off the northern tip of Sumatra. Ben was part of the stand-by CAP (combat air patrol) sitting in the F4U of another squadron on the Victorious.
|South African Air Aces of World War II|
Squadron Leader A.G. Lewis, DFC and Bar
Albert Gerald Lewis, born in Kimberley on 10th April, 1918, joined the
Royal Air Force when he was 20, on a four-year Short Service Commission,
being gazetted as an Acting Pilot Officer with effect from 29th October,
1938. At No.5 Elementary and Reserve Flying Training School, Hanwell, he
flew the Blackburn B-2, and in November, 1938, he was posted to No. 3 FTS
at South Cerney in Gloucestershire, near the Wiltshire border, flying the
Hawker Hart, Audax and Fury. Awarded his
flying badge on 14th March, 1939, he was transferred to an advanced training squadron and completed his course on 8th June. On the 15th he was posted to No.754 Squadron Fleet Air Arm and was Staff Pilot, HMS Daedalus at Lee-on-Solent, flying the Walrus, Magister, Mentor, Sea Fox and Swordfish, his Commanding Officer being Lieutenant-Commander E. Esmonde, later awarded a posthumous VC for operations in the English channel against the Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen. On 20th June, 1939, he crashed a Walrus, the machine being a complete write-off. Discharged from Haslar Naval Hospital on 12th August, he reported back for duty, and continued his training for alighting on the sea on the Walrus. The outbreak of war on 3rd September found him as Sea Duty Pilot and he received the signal for the Commanding Officer of the unit which directed: "Commence hostilities against Germany at once".
|Recollections of Lee on Solent in WW1|
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