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Air Commodore C D Kit North Lewis DSO DFC (deceased)
|After joining the Army in 1939, Kit North Lewis transferred to the RAF in 1940. In Aug 1941, after pilot training, he was posted to 13 Squadron, flying Blenheims, where he took part in the first 1000 bomber raids. After a spell with 26 Squadron, flying P-51 Mustangs, in Feb 1944 he joined 182 Squadron on Typhoons, as a Flight Commander. A few months later he was posted to command 181 Squadron. He led this squadron into France where it became part of 124 Typhoon Wing. In Aug 1944 he was promoted Wing Leader 124 Wing, where he remained until the end of the war. He died on 25th March 2008. 'Unfortunately my active participation in the Falaise operations was limited as I had a mild form of dysentery from 8th to 14th and I was sent home for a weeks recuperation from 16th to 24th August. However, I was very much involved on the 7th in the German attack at Mortain. I was leading 181 Squadron on an armed reconnaissance when Charles Green who was then the Wing Leader of 121 Wing reported large German tank concentrations at Mortain. Although this was inside the bomb line I accepted his verification and I immediately diverted to Mortain. There we found German tanks strung out along the road. We claimed 10 flamers. I followed this up with two more sorties in which we claimed another 7. There was very little flak, the main danger being the number of allied aircraft around the honey pot. During the period 6th to 21st August the Wing lost 9 pilots killed including Group Captain Charles Appleton and 4 taken POW.'|
|Air Commodore J W Frost CBE, DFC, DL (deceased)||Jack Frost commenced flying training in July 1941, completing his training in the USA. After a short period as a flying instructor he returned to the UK for operational training on Hurricanes. In February 1944 Jack Frost joined No 175 Squadron which was converting to the rocket-firing role. In April the squadron moved to the New Forest and started operations over northern France. Leading up to D-Day, Jack Frost flew 12 sorties, attacking vital radar stations that had to be put out of action before the invasion. On June 6 he flew an armed-reconnaissance sortie to attack enemy transports taking reinforcements to the beachhead. 175 Squadron equipped with Typhoons in January 1944. On August 7th 1944 a major German counter-attack, spearheaded by five Panzer divisions, was identified moving against just two US infantry divisions. The Panzers were threatening to cut off the US Third Army near the town of Mortain. More than 300 sorties were flown by the squadrons on the "Day of the Typhoon". Frost claimed a Tiger tank and a troop carrier, as well as two unidentified targets as "flamers". Frosts Typhoon was hit by 20mm flak but he managed to return to his airstrip. The intense effort of the Typhoon squadrons defeated the German counter-attack, which the Chief of Staff of the Seventh German Army reported had come to a standstill due to "employment of fighter-bombers by the enemy and the absence of our own air support". Frost and his fellow Typhoon pilots were made available immediately to be called down over the radio by ground controllers as the Allied armies encircled the German Forces at Falaise and the break out from Normandy that followed. Jack Frost carried out many attacks against gun positions, tank and transport concentrations, all in the face of intense anti-aircraft fire. The Typhoon squadrons suffered heavy casualties. He completed an operational tour of 100 sorties in December 1944 and after the war went on to a distinguished career with the peacetime RAF. Flying Typhoons and the Tempest, based in Schleswig-Holstein then moving to Kastrup in Denmark. Jack frost would later command No 26 Squadron at Gutersloh in Germany. In 1948 he was appointed RAF Liaison Officer to HQ BETFOR, responsible for air advice and control of air support for the British Army Brigade, based in Trieste. During this sensitive period, Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia was causing some difficulties and Frost led a four-aircraft dummy attack on his headquarters as a reminder of the RAFs continued, and potent, presence in the area. In May 1949 he returned to Britain to command No 222 (Natal) Squadron, equipped with Meteor day fighters, as air defences were rebuilt with the emergence of the Soviet threat. Frost served in Malaya at the Air Headquarters during the communist insurrection, when he was involved with planning the development of airfields and air defence radar. After service in Hong Kong he returned to flying duties when he took command of No 151 Squadron, flying the delta-wing Javelin night fighter from Leuchars in Scotland. After a series of senior appointments in the MOD, Jack Frost was posted in August 1970 to the Joint Warfare Establishment. After a four-year appointment as Deputy and Chief of Staff to the UK Military Representative to Nato Headquarters in Brussels, he retired from the RAF in October 1976. Sadly Jack Frost passed away on August 7th 2010.|
|Air Commodore W Bill Pitt-Brown DFC||After Cranwell Bill Pitt-Brown was posted to India where he saw service on the North-West Frontier with 31 Squadron flying Wapatis and Valencias. When the Japanese attacked in the far east he was posted to command 5 Squadron flying H75A Mohawk fighters in Assam and on the Imphal and Arakan fronts. Returning to the UK he was given command of 174 Squadron with Typhoons which he led through the Normandy Invasion. In August 1944 he became Wing Leader of 121 Wing. He was rested in October 1944 after a total of more than 100 operational sorties. He went on to high command of the RAF after the war. |
"Memories of Normandy are coloured by the enemy speed of reaction to our air supremacy. In the first few days after D-Day the enemy rushed forward to confront the Allies. We created havoc by picking off targets to jam the traffic and then methodically flaming the lot. Very large losses of German tanks and MT were inflicted in the fluid situation. Then suddenly by day nothing in the area was immediately visible. The German guns and tanks had dug in hull-down in the deep bocage country hedges which were perfect for camouflage. MT moved cautiously in shade and shadow. The vicious close-quarter tank and infantry fighting was largely unseen. Air attacks on map references were acknowledged by the Army to be effective but were frustrating since results were seldom seen except for transport brew ups. The picture was transformed when the Allies burst out of the bridgehead primarily through sheer force of numbers. the whole area east of Avranches - Vire, Mortain, Flers, Falaise, Argentan erputed and became a seething mass of enemy trying to retreat. The air forces smashed, burnt and killed. It seemed unbelievable that so much enemy force could have been concealed; now that they were all in the open, the slaughter, explosions, and fires burning from endless daily air attack obliterated everything. It was deadful; dead horse-drawn transport, bloated farm animals and humans all contributed to the sickly sweet smell of death. The enemy escaped annihilation by being highly disciplined even after such a defeat. Their losses were appalling but their retreat was never a rout."
|Flight Lieutenant George Sheppard||Volunteering initially in October 1940 and called up in January 1941, George Sheppard learnt to fly in America and graduated and was commissioned in April 1942. He stayed on as an instructor in America returning to England in March 1943. He joined 198 Typhoon Squadron and after the invasion moved to Normandy in July 1944. He stayed with the squadron all the way through to Germany, becoming a flight commander in February 1945. He flew a total of 84 operational sorties. He felw Meteors with 74 Squadron and Spitfires with 263 Squadron in Italy before demob in May 1946. -- At the time of the Falaise battle we were operating from B7 Martragny and checking my log book I flew 16 ops during this time. The targets in and around Falaise were troop concentrations, tanks, trucks, armoured vehicles and gun positions. A flight which I was in, claimed many tanks, trucks etc, these being the ones that could be identified. One did not hang around after firing rockets and cannons to check results of attacks as the flak was intensive. In our flight we lost 2 pilots killed, 2 baled out but returned to base. Many planes were damaged by flak. I was hit and lost my brakes. Crash landed back at B7. I was also hit by 88mm flak on July 31st and forced landed over our lines at Cuverville, near Caen. After the battle a few of us went down to the Falaise area in our Commer 15 cwt truck. The destruction was incredible, burnt out vehicles, tanks, dead animals in the fields and dead Germans on the roadside. The smell was overwhelming. I thought at the time what it must have been like on the ground being under constant attack from the air. It was the first time I had seen on the ground the destruction caused by rockets, bombs and 20mm cannon fire.|
Flight Lieutenant Ken Adam OBE
|One of only two German nationals (the other was his brother) to fly operationally for the RAF, Klaus Hugo Adam was a German national, born in Berlin, who left Germany in 1934 to escape the Nazi persecution. He joined the RAF in August 1942 and after flying training, mostly in the USA, joined 609 Squadron flying Typhoons in October 1943. Known to everyone in the Squadron as Heinie, he served with the squadron until the end of the war, the hazards of operational flying increased for him by the knowledge that capture as a POW would certainly end in death. Demobilised in 1946 he went on to a very successful career as an art director in the film industry and is best known, perhaps, for his work on the Bond films. -- I think what affected me most and I will remember for the rest of my life, was the aftermath of the battle for the Falaise Gap. After it was all over, 609 Squadron were given a day off and we decided to drive into the Falaise area to get a first hand view from the ground of the results of our rocket attacks. Unfortunately our truck was trapped in an armoured column moving at a snails pace, since the road or what was left of it was choked with wreckage, swollen corpses of men of the SS divisions, dead cattle and horses. The stench of death was everywhere. We tried to breath through our handkerchiefs which we knotted over our mouths and noses, to little avail. The sickly sweet smell of death stuck to our uniforms and bodies for days to come. This was my first contact on the ground with the dead and what had been the enemy. Attacking a target from the air, one felt strangely removed from the realities and horror on the ground. This was our first decisive defeat of the German army, in which 609 Squadron and other rocket Typhoon squadrons of 84 Group played such a vital role, but my feelings of elation at this victory were muted by the carnage of dead bodies and even more so the grotesque spectacle of countless dead horses with their limbs rigidly sticking up in the air. It was an experience I will never forget.|
|Flight Lieutenant Ramsay Milne||One of many Canadians who served with the Typhoon squadrons of the 2nd TAF, Ramsay Milne grew up on a farm on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, joining up in October 1940. After flying training he was posted in December 1942 to 245 Squadron on Typhoons. While engaged in a patrol to counter German hit and run radiers in May 1943, an engine failure landed him in the North Sea from which he was rescued by an RAF Walrus. In February 1944 he was posted to 440 Squadron - a Canadian unit - with which he served throughout the invasion of Normandy campaign until he was shot down and made a POW 0n 19th August 1944. -- Our ops area was south of Lisieux on the 18th August and once there it was every man for himself. Scenes are still vivid in my mind - a number of Krauts piling off a motorbike and sidecar all trying to get through a door at the same time - a lorry speeding down the road between trees, a short burst, it rolls sideways into the field. Then - motorbike speeding down the road. Ammunition was always a problem, not enough - put the bead at the point where his backside meets the saddle - just fan the gun button, it worked, one round from each gun, a bullseye. He seemed to slowly rise holding the handlebars - I was up and away - no shortage of targets. Devastation, a mild word to describe the area, and the smell of decaying Kraut was evident at 2-3000 feet. Not pleasant. Some lasted longer than others, and others not at all. My time came on August 19th around noon. Luckily I was not shot, as I had a Hun revolver, figuring I would be able to shoot my way to freedom, gangster style. My mind changed quickly when surrounded by six or seven Hun plus a Black Shirted little devil. His hostility grew when he examined the Automatic and I figured my time was up. Fortunately the gun, a Colt type, was stamped made in Belgium and I told him in Kraut English that I had bought it in Chicago. There was doubt on his face but eventually the tension eased. The next morning on the march we were shot at by a sister squadron, and to top it the leader was a French Canadian - I have checked the records.|
Flight Lieutenant Roy Crane
|Joining the RAF Volunteer Reserve in 1940, Roy Crane was the deferred for nine months before call-up and flying training in the UK and Canada, receiving his Wings and Commission in December 1942. After operational training on Hurricanes, he joined 182 Typhoon Squadron in August 1943. Sorties included dive bombing and fighter escort duties. Transferred to 181 Squadron in April 1944 where worties with cannon and rockets included V1 and V2 sites as well as gun positions, petrol dumps, trains and marshalling yards, etc, in preparation for the invasion. In May this intensified with attacks on heavily defended radar sites along the French coast and shipping strikes. With the invasion a success, 181 Squadron was in the forefront of the Typhoons squadrons attacks on the German ground forces in Normandy, operating from forward airfields in France. On 2nd August 1944 his aircraft was hit by flak at low level and he became a POW. He had completed 71 operational sorties -- Whilst attacking tanks and motorised transport with rockets and cannon in the area of Falaise on 2nd August 1944, my aircraft was twice hit by 40mm flak at low level. I baled out and landed in a very hostile Waffen SS camp, lucky to be quickly rescued by two of the nearby German Air Force gun crew that had shot me down. Later that evening I was taken in an open German staff car by the Oberfeldwebel from the gun crew, a driver and an armed motorcycle escort in the direction of Falaise. We had only travelled a short distance, when about to pass a column of German tanks, they were attacked by six Typhoons firing rockets and cannon. They came round again and again, leaving terrible carnage. This was an ordeal that has to be experienced to be truly appreciated. They finally got me out of the Falaise pocket to Alencon, after which I was eventually taken after intensive interrogation at Oberursal, to Stalag Luft III at Sagan.|
|Group Captain Charles Green DSO DFC||Wing Leader, No.121 Wing, August 1944. |
"The crucial battle in the Normandy campaign was not fought on the beaches, but inland, in the great encirclement battle of July/August 1944 which resulted in the virtual destruction of the German armies in Normandy, the remnants of which did not halt their headlong flight until they reached the French borders. In this great battle, the Typhoon wings of 83 and 84 groups played a major role, harrying and destroying German armour and other vehciles to the point where the German army found it almost impossible to move in the daylight hours. The rour of the German army started at Avranches, the Mortain killing ground, and finally culminated in the bottleneck of what is known as the Falaise Gap. Here the Typhoons wreaked havoc with their rockets leaving the battlefield in a scene of hellish destruction that was not to be equalled until the Muttla pass in the Gulf War. The success of the Typhoons was achieved at great cost. In Normandy alone 151 pilots of this relatively small force were killed and are commemorated on the Typhoon Memorial at Noyers-Bocage. Their sacrifice should never be forgotten."
|Squadron Leader Geoff Murphy||Geoff Murphy started flying with Aberdeen University Squadron as a 17 year old student in April 1941. He was called up in October and completed his flying training in Florida in August 1942. After staff piloting duties at a radio school, he was posted to fly Hurricanes in mid 1943 flying convoy patrols over the North Sea. Early in 1944 he converted to Typhoons and joined 245 Squadron in mid May 1944, just in time for D-Day. He had only fired four practice concrete head rockets before going on his first op. He stayed with 245 Squadron for the remainder of the war. He became a Flight Commander and was Mentioned in Despatches. At the end of hostilities in Europe, he had completed 141 operational sorties. After the war he stayed on in the Air Force, his duties including command of the first Jet Provost Squadron in the RAF. -- The slaughter in the Pocket continued up yo about 25th August with the lanes in the bocage country bordered by high banks being death traps to tanks, vehicles, men and horses which tried to move along them. The destruction and casualties were appalling and even from the air the stench of death was apparent from inside closed cockpits. As the noose tightened, it became clear that the one type of equipment which the Germans did not abandon in their headlong flight was their flak, as was evident from the casualties sustained. The ground attack pilots and the German flak gunners were constant daily adversaries throghout the campaign, since on every operation, in order to hit their targets, pilots had to dive into a cone of concentrated flak, remaining within it until their weapons were aimed and released and perhaps being most vulnerable when pulling out. We had armour plate at our backs underneath the cockpit, but the engine and flying control systems were unprotected and in a steep climb away from the target, as speed was rapidly reducing, it was advisable to turn the aircraft rapidly from side to side to spoil the gunners aim. Alternatively, keeping the aircraft very low and using the maximum speed attained at the bottom of the dive to get away from the target at roof-top height, made it very difficult for the gunners to keep their sights on the aircraft. This technique led, however, to the risk that when a climb to height to join up with the rest of the Squadron was eventually commenced, airspeed was lower and the rate of climb poorer, so that any other flak batteries within range in the area had a greater chance of hitting you.|
Squadron Leader Percival H. Beake DFC (deceased)
|Joining the RAFVR in April 1939, Percival Beake was mobilised at the outbreak of war. Posted to 64 Squadron on Spitfires in the summer of 1940 at the height of the Battle of Britain, he flew with them until June 1941 when he was posted first to 92 Squadron at Biggin Hill, and then 601 Squadron at Duxford. After a spell instructing he returned for his second tour in December 1942, joining 193 Squadron as a Flight Commander. In May 1944 he took command of 164 Squadron at Thorney Island flying Typhoons, moving to France shortly after the Normandy Invasion. With two victories to his credit he was awarded the DFC in September 1944. |
Starting with 6th August 1944 my log book records that a successful attack was carried out on an enemy strong point in a quarry and that on the following morning I flew home on a very rare 48 hour leave. For a few days after my return we had only one specific target - an enemy dump which we effectively bombarded with rockets on 11th August - so we were deployed on armed reconnaissances. After landing from one of these on 13th August my Wing Commander, Walter Dring, called me to his caravan and said - Beaky, you have just done your last op. You are not to fly again and that is an order, until returning to the UK. I am arranging for your relief as soon as possible. - I was absolutely stunned and my lasting memory of that period is not of carnage but of acute embarrassment at having been grounded. I just hated sending the squadron up without myself leading and remember making frequent calls to the met office hoping to get forecasts of filthy weather that would make operational flying impossible. In the event, my relief, Squadron Leader Ian Waddy, was shot down by flak within two or three days of taking over command, so maybe Wally Dring had some sort of premonition that prompted my grounding.
Percival Beake died on 25th June 2016.
|The Aircraft :|
|Typhoon||Single engine fighter with a maximum speed of 412 mph at 19,000 feet and a ceiling of 35,200 feet. range 510 miles. The Typhoon was armed with twelve browning .303inch machine guns in the wings (MK1A) Four 20mm Hispano cannon in wings (MK!B) Two 1000ilb bombs or eight 3-inch rockets under wings. The first proto type flew in February 1940, but due to production problems the first production model flew in May 1941. with The Royal Air Force receiving their first aircraft in September 1941. Due to accidents due to engine problems (Sabre engine) The Hawker Typhoon started front line service in December 1941.The Hawker Typhoon started life in the role of interceptor around the cost of England but soon found its real role as a ground attack aircraft. especially with its 20mm cannon and rockets. This role was proved during the Normandy landings and the period after. The total number of Hawker typhoons built was 3,330.|
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