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Group Captain Byron Duckenfield AFC (deceased)
|Byron Duckenfield started at Flying Training School on 25th November 1935 in a Blackburn B2 at Brough. As a Sergeant, he joined No.32 Sqn at Biggin Hill on 8th August 1936 and flew Gauntlets and Hurricanes. He joined 74 Squadron at Hornchurch on 11th April 1940, flying Spitfires, and on 5th May was posted to 501 Squadron flying Hurricanes at Tangmere. On the 11th of May at Betheniville, he survived a crash in a passenger transport Bombay aircraft in an aircraft in which he was a passenger, While comin ginto land the aircraft at 200 feet the aircraft stalled and the aircrfat fell backwards just levelly out as it histhe ground. 5 of th epassengers were killed when the centre section collapsed and crushed them. Duckenfield was fortunate as he had moved position during the flight. as the two passengers sitting each side of where he was sitting had died in the crash. (it was found later that the Bombay had beeb loaded with to much weight in the aft sectiion. ) recovering in hospital in Roehampton. On 23rd July 1940, he rejoined No.501 Sqn at Middle Wallop, then moved to to Gravesend two days later, scoring his first victory, a Ju87, on the 29th of July 1940. During August and September he scored three more victories. After a spell as a test pilot from 14th September 1940, he was posted to command 66 Squadron on 20th December 1941, flying Spitfires. On 26th February 1942 he took command of 615 Squadron flying Hurricanes from Fairwood Common, taking the squadron to the Far East. In late December 1942 he was shot down in Burma and captured by the Japanese. He remained a POW until release in May 1945. After a refresher course at the Flying Training School in November 1949, he took command of No.19 Squadron flying Hornets and Meteors from Chruch Fenton. After a series of staff positions, he retired from the RAF as a Group Captain on 28th May 1969. Duckenfield would write later his details : |
At first light, 12 Hurricanes IIC aircraft of 615 Squadron, myself in the lead, took off from Chittagong for central Burma to attack the Japanese air base at Magwe, 300 miles away on the banks of the River Irrawaddy. Arriving at Yenangyaung, we turned downstream at minimum height for Magwe, 30 miles to the South and jettisoned drop tanks. Just before sighting the enemy base, the squadron climbed to 1200 feet and positioned to attack from up sun. On the ramp at the base, in front of the hangers, were 10 or 12 Nakajima KI - 43 Oscars in a rough line up (not dispersed) perhaps readying for take. These aircraft and the hangars behind them were attacked in a single pass, before withdrawing westward at low level and maximum speed. A few minutes later perhaps 20 miles away form Magwe, I was following the line of a cheung (small creek), height about 250 feet, speed aboput 280 mph, when the aircraft gave a violent shudder, accompanied by a very lound, unusual noise. The cause was instantly apparent: the airscrew has disappeared completely, leaving only the spinning hub. My immediate reaction was to throttle back fully and switch off to stop the violently overspeeding engine. Further action was obvious: I was committed to staying with the aircraft because, with a high initial speed, not enough height to eject could be gained without the help of an airscrew. So I jettisoned the canopy and acknowledged gratefully the fact that I was following a creek; the banks of either side were hillocky ground, hostile to a forced landing aircraft. Flying the course of the creek, I soon found the aircraft to be near the stall (luckily, a lower than normal figure without an airscrew) extended the flaps and touched down wheels-up with minimum impact ( I have done worse landings on a smooth runway!) My luck was holding, if one can talk of luck in such a situation. December is the height of the dry season in that area and the creek had little water, it was shallow and narrow at the point where I came down: shallow enough to support the fusalage and narrow enough to support wing tips. So I released the harness, pushed the IFF Destruct switch, climed out and walked the wing ashore, dryshod. The question may occur -Why did not others in the squadron see their leader go down? - the answer is simple, the usual tatctic of withdrawal from an enemy target was to fly single at high speed and low level on parallel courses until a safe distance from target was attained. Then, the formation would climb to re-assemble. Having left the aircraft, I now faced a formidable escape problem? I was 300 miles from friendly territory: my desired route would be westward but 80% of that 300 miles was covered by steep north-south ridges impenetrably clothed in virgin jungle; these were natural impediments, there was also the enemy to consider. Having thought over my predicament, I decided the best I could do - having heard reports of mean herted plainspeope - was to get as far into the hills as possible and then find a (hopefully sympathetic) village. I suppose I may have covered about 15 miles by nightfall when I came upon this small hill village and walked into the village square. Nobody seemed surprised to see me (I suspect I had been followed for some time) I wa given a quiet welcome, seated at a table in the open and given food. Then exhaustion took over, I fell asleep in the chair and woke later to find myself tied up in it. Next day I was handed over to a Japanese sergeant and escort who took me back to Magwe and, soon after that, 2.5 years captivity in Rangoon jail.
Sadly we have learned that Byron Duckenfield passed away on 19th November 2010.
Wing Commander Roger Morewood (deceased)
|An uncle suggested to Roger Morewood that he should join the RAF so Roger did at the age of 17. Roger said : I was going be a pilot, that was the only reason to join. Roger trained to fly in a Tiger Moth biplane before joining 56 Squadron - regarded within the RAF as an elite unit - flying open cockpit Gauntlet fighters. The squadron were then re-equipped with Gloster Gladiators - the last RAF biplane - then the Hawker Hurricanes that would join Spitfires in fighting off Hitlers Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain. While serving with 56 Squadron Roger Morewood was assigned the dangerous role of long-range fighter sweeps over the coast of occupied France and Holland but left to help form 248 Sqn at Hendon with whom he served throughout the Battle of Britain flying Blenheims. Roger said: We had a few panic station alerts when we were scrambled. We wouldd be leaping into our aircraft with flying suits over our pyjamas as we tried to get into the air in a minute and a half. In July 1942 Morewood went to 9 OTU and later HQ Transport Command. After a long post-war career in the RAF he retired in 1957. Roger Morewood once said of his squadron: It was damned dodgy. We had a high loss rate on operations. And on one sortie - then aged 21 - he nearly met his maker : I flew across to Den Helder (Northern Holland) in a long-nosed Blenheim to look after this battleship at the entrance to the Zuiderzee. We flew round this thing and sure enough I saw some aircraft coming up. They were twin-engine bombers naturally - Messerschmitt 110s. That was a bit hairy. My two blokes (other pilots) shoved off in a hurry into a cloud, and there was me popping away until I ran out of ammunition. There was just me left. I realised there was no point chasing - I was not going to knock his wings off. So I started flying home. After making hardly any noise all flight the chap (navigator) in the back said you haveve got somebody on your tail now - you had better move swiftly. So I moved to left and right. We got a pretty hefty clobbering. His turret disappeared at the back. My poor navigator wore a tin hat and I dont blame him. He got a bullet half way through his armour. He was alright. I had a dreadful wound. If I shook my hand really hard I could get blood out of one finger. I was hit all over the place. We took dozens of bullets. The aircraft was ruined. That is all there was to it. We were still going home - even with the North Sea to go across. So I trundled off back and ditched the damn thing. Thank God it didnt blow up. We literally got away with it. It was the hairiest trip I ever did. On another occasion, Roger intercepted a German weather forecasting flying boat called Weary Willy : I was in a Beaufighter at this time. I flew upwind and had a shot at him downwind. Then all the guns jammed. So I pulled alongside him - not too close - and waved him good luck lad. Anyway he sank when he got back to Norway. That was that one finished. Flying from Shetland, his squadron attacked German shipping off Norway. Roger was rested and spent two years training new Beaufighter pilots but still managed to go on some operations, mainly attacking convoys off the coast of Holland. Roger Morewood said: job was to attack the flak ships, floating anti-aircraft batteries, so other Beaufighters could attack the cargo ships. It could be pretty hairy as 12 Beaufighters lined up to have a crack at the target. You wouldd see tracer shells from your mates plane whizzing over your head or underneath you. They were a bigger danger than the Germans Wing Commander Roger Morwood was posted to the Mediterranean where he contracted TB. He recalled: "In hospital, they treated you with whisky in milk and a pint of Guinness for breakfast, very primitive stuff." When the war ended and the RAF were scaled down, Roger continued to serve in various postings around the UK until 1947. after leaving the RAF Roger was recalled again as an instructor at the Central Flying School, but with the rank of flight lieutenant. He was posted to Edinburgh and then Glasgow University squadrons. finnaly leaving service in 1957. Wing Commander Roger Morewood notched up more than 5000 flying hours in 32 different types of aircraft. Roger Morewood died in early December 2014.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Spitfire||Royal Air Force fighter aircraft, maximum speed for mark I Supermarine Spitfire, 362mph up to The Seafire 47 with a top speed of 452mph. maximum ceiling for Mk I 34,000feet up to 44,500 for the mark XIV. Maximum range for MK I 575 miles . up to 1475 miles for the Seafire 47. Armament for the various Marks of Spitfire. for MK I, and II . eight fixed .303 browning Machine guns, for MKs V-IX and XVI two 20mm Hispano cannons and four .303 browning machine guns. and on later Marks, six to eight Rockets under the wings or a maximum bomb load of 1,000 lbs. Designed by R J Mitchell, The proto type Spitfire first flew on the 5th March 1936. and entered service with the Royal Air Force in August 1938, with 19 squadron based and RAF Duxford. by the outbreak of World war two, there were twelve squadrons with a total of 187 spitfires, with another 83 in store. Between 1939 and 1945, a large variety of modifications and developments produced a variety of MK,s from I to XVI. The mark II came into service in late 1940, and in March 1941, the Mk,V came into service. To counter the Improvements in fighters of the Luftwaffe especially the FW190, the MK,XII was introduced with its Griffin engine. The Fleet Air Arm used the Mk,I and II and were named Seafires. By the end of production in 1948 a total of 20,351 spitfires had been made and 2408 Seafires. The most produced variant was the Spitfire Mark V, with a total of 6479 spitfires produced. The Royal Air Force kept Spitfires in front line use until April 1954.|
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