Where are they now?

In this section we will publish requests for historical details from relatives or old comrades as well as historical questions.

We request members who are able, to provide relevant info.

Please look through these and see if you can help - Thanks a lot, Bill

 

(Duncan Spencer below was probably involved in the collision on page 154/155 of the squadron typewritten history in the History section. If you have any further knowledge  - squadron joining date etc. please contact author Philip Froom)

Hello Bill,
I wonder if you would be able to help me please? I wonder if you would be able to assist me with any information on this WW2 member of 55 Squadron please? As you can see, I have managed to find out some background on him.
However, what I am lacking (and very keen to understand) are the circumstances of his capture (was he shot down, or was he captured on the ground for example)?
 
Many thanks
Phil
 
Name: Duncan Hugh Spencer
Rank: Flight Lieutenant
Number: 134580
Navigator: 55 Sqn. TAF ITALY
POW: Possibly from 18th October 1943 (any records relating to Squadron losses on or around that date?)
 
Location: STALAG LUFT I Barth
POW Number:  1452
Poss Born 6 August 1920 in Dover Kent – if him, taken from the death record listed below.
Enlisted as O/R number 1443615 (numbers 1425001 to 1474999 indicate he enlisted in April 1941 in Cardington).
 
He was later commissioned effective from 12th December 1942 which was announced in Supplement to The London Gazette, 27 July 1943, Issue 36108, page 3387.
Supplement to The London Gazette, 29 October, 1943, Issue 36226, page 4769 announced that - Pilot Officers (Probationary) to be Flying Officers on Probation (War substantive) effective from 12th June 1943.
Supplement to The London Gazette, 12 January, 1945, Issue 36888, page 350.
Promoted from Flying Officer to Flying Lieutenant (war substansive) as of 12th December 1944
Supplement to The London Gazette, 13 June, 1946, Issue 37598, page 2817 announced that – Flight Lieutenant D.H. Spencer (134580) RAFVR had been mentioned in despatches.
Prisoner of War: Number 1452 in Camp Stalag Luft 1 (camp number L1), location Barth Vogelsang, Germany. (Source National Archives: AIR 40/263, WO 392/18, AIR 20/2336, AIR 392/8 Stalag Luft (North) recommendations lists May 1944-Dec 1945 (Air 40/268)
phil.froom@collins.com

Received 10 June 2019

Dear Sir,

I am researching the life of my Great Uncle Sergeant George Clarence Curle of the Royal Australian Air Force, Service Number 207732. George was originally enlisted in 1939 with the RAAF 3 Squadron. He was 25 years old. 
It wasn't until recent years that the service records and story surrounding George's death were revealed. I decided to make inquiries with the National Archives and at that point his records were marked secret and had remained sealed. 
Sadly my Grandparents, Great Grandparents and many of our family never knew the true story of George's death. They were told he had died as a result of a gunshot wound that had been accidental, but believed it had been under different circumstances.
George was attached from RAAF 3 Squadron to the RAF 55 Squadron  on the 10th of February 1941. On the 12th of March 1941 George was accidentally shot by an RAF member while in his cabin aboard the houseboat SS Puritan in Cairo. 
The man who accidentally shot George was a Sergeant Harrison of 55 Squadron, also present when George was shot were Sergeant Cuthbert Howe, Sergeant George Basil Rand and Sergeant Sydney Bennett. All were members of 55 Squadron. The statements show the men had come to fetch George for a night out when the recently acquired pistol that Sergeant Harrison was showing the others discharged and shot George in the stomach. George died as a result of his injury 5 days later on the 17th of March.  
I am wondering if there are any documents or photographs that mention George held by 55 Squadron. I am hoping to compile a book of sorts to hand down to my sons. I am also hoping to visit his grave in Cairo someday. Unfortunately no family member has ever been in a position to do so before.
Hoping you may be able to assist in some way.
Thank you.
Kind regards,
Wayne Curle 

wcurle7@gmail.com

30 John Penn Drive
Tomakin NSW 2537
Australia

From: P & J Stanley

Subject: Squadron leader R D M Evers DFC

I wonder if you can help me. I would very much like to contact the families of my father's crew when he was shot down on Ocotber 6th 1942 whilst serving with 55 squadron  in north Africa. It is mentioned on p. 189 in Bomber Losses In The Middle East and Mediterranean vol 1: 1939 - 1942.

Following his order for them to bail out, they were taken POW. My father's escape hatch jammed but he brought the plane down in NML under heavy enemy fire and was eventually rescued. The plane was so badly damaged and so close to the enemy line that the Allies blew it up the following day. And a few days after that he flew in 12/14 raids by 55 squadron in the battle of Alamein!!

I have his 3 pilot's log books which I am taking to RAF Hendon next week - they have expressed an interest in scanning/copying them.

He captained Worcestershire cricket on 5 occasions, won the county squash championship two yrs before and two yrs after the war, played rugby for Moseley and was the youngest member of the Cambridge Vandals Tour to Canada and the States, playing in both the cricket and rugby matches.

I have written his biography which includes +/- 80 of his wartime letters to his family in Stourbridge and also pictures of his crew.
I would love to contact any of the descendants of his crew, namely:

W/O H. R. Callender RNZAF
Sgt J Hall 
Sgt R J Wilson

 

(Latter two depicted below - also see the latest shots in the Historical Photos section. ed.)

If you can help or have any suggestions I would love to hear from you.

With kind regards,

Jane Stanley

 

If it helps, Sqn Ldr Evers attended the 55 Sqn Association re-union in the Savoy Tavern, London on 22.November 1982

WO Griffiths,    Pil Off R Evers,   Sgt Sammy Hall,   Sgt Jimmy Wilson
WO Griffiths, Pil Off R Evers, Sgt Sammy Hall, Sgt Jimmy Wilson

My Dad Norman Birchall was on 55 Squadron at Marham and flew on the Victor.

That is what I am named after - he was in Canada when I was born.

We lived at 32 Oak Avenue.  I am trying to find out more of my Dad's life in the RAF, as he passed away when I was 19.

If you remember Norman, please send any info to:  Vikki Beaton:   beaton.vikki@googlemail.com

I have an idea he was Chief Tec

Bill Palmer

 

Sgt Ernest Clare DFM Observer 55 Sqn WW1

Ms Jean Noblett and her daughter Leann have written to inform us that they are preparing a short history of Sgt Ernest Clare, who earned the DFM while flying on 55 Sqn. in the First World War.

By a lucky chance they recognised in a picture on our website, his pilot, Capt J R Bell, in a picture of 55 Squadron aircrew while stationed at Azelot airfield,

(This is included in our reproduced story The Johns Connection by Michael C. Armstrong about the author, W E Johns - who wrote the Biggles series - provided to us by Dave Maloney - and now in the 55 in the First World War section.)

Ms Noblett would like to know how Sgt Clare earned his DFM, as according to the book Chronicles of 55 Squadron by J R Miller, who was the Adjutant during the time that 55 Sqn was stationed at Azelot Airfield, he was the only Observer at the time of his book, to be so decorated.

This was pretty much the period, when Maj Gray and Major Silly had been Squadron Commanders, By great coincidence, information on Maj Gray is also being sought – by his great nephew Tim Cornish – see below.

Ms Noblett has kindly sent us some shots of the 55 Squadron Observers at Azelot and of Sgt Clare. These will shortly appear in the 55 in the First World War section, where they will be a worthy addition to the above mentioned photos. 

If you have any information or ideas which can help track down the reason for the DFM or have any information about the other airmen in the pictures from this dynamic and brave time, please let me know.

Thanks, Bill Palmer

Hello, I write from Italy, my name is Giovanni Brunetti. I would like to have more information about the
presence of the squadron in Cecina, Tuscany. Can you help me? In particular I seek information about the airman William Geddes Fielder.
Thank you so much for your collaboration.
gbrunetti4@gmail.com

My grandfather, Frank Linford, served as an Armourer with 55 Sqn from 1940-45 throughout the western desert,
malta and Italy. I am trying to find out more about his time in the war and if (by some miracle) anyone has any
photos of armourers in 55 sqn. His number was 1352532.
lizlinford92@gmail.com

Hello, my uncle Colin Elliott Parnell served with 55 in the Middle East during WW2, Colin was a Warrant Officer RAAF he was a Wireless Op Air Gunner flying the Baltimore Bombers, I am hoping there may be a photo of Colin with his crew, I have a couple photos, his badges and AG Wing and RAAF Wireless Op Badge, Colin was killed in a car accident in 1964

Andrew Cox
bowes1873@gmail.com

 

Above, seen at the RFC re-union in 1949 is AVM Gray, who as Major Gray was the 55 Squadron "Boss" in 1918 during its famous days in France as a long range Bomber Squadron. He was also present at the 55 / 57 Squadrons 50th anniversary celebrations in 1966. His great Nephew, Tim Cornish has requested any information about his period on 55 Squadron, especially photographs.

Please forward any historical information to my email address. 

Thanks, Bill Palmer

Photo above from The Aeroplane in 1949

Boston Crew: Everard Earnest Payton 2nd from Left Hassani Greece
Boston Crew: Everard Earnest Payton 2nd from Left Hassani Greece
Hassani Greece: E E Payton in the middle
Hassani Greece: E E Payton in the middle
The back of the above Photo
The back of the above Photo

Well, thanks to Warwick, Everard Payton's son, I was able to research 55 Squadron's use of the Boston. It is pretty clear that he flew on the Squadron during the Hassani period. Good shots of his fellow crew members too.  Does anybody recognise him or them?