Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Something a little different.

About a six months or so before my dad had his stroke, he and I started looking into his war record with the RAF during WWII.
We had a lot of fun doing it.
His time in service was always something special to him and he had great memories about his time served.
He had his war record book, but his memory wasn't good enough or enough time had passed where all the abbrevations no longer were clear to him.
Luckily, while doing research into his squadron's we found someone in Belguim that was keeping a site for one of his old units, 350 Squadron.
With his help, and another Englishman's, we were able to fill in most of the details.
We sent to Belguim (not hard with email) a photo we had of dad in uniform, and a nice piece about dad was added, along with the picture, to the 350 web site.
Here is the picture.



















The 350 web site has in it's gallery lots of photos of the unit, but most are of the Belguim flyers and crew.
Well, once we got all dads info set up, emails back and forth with a little Bio. on dad, the web master thought I would be interested in a DVD of all the pictures he had for the unit.
I said sure, I would love it.
I wasn't expecting much, and thought we had all the pictures we would ever see of dad in uniform.
When the DVD arrived, I popped it in.
Low and behold (do they say that anymore?) the second picture to come up was this one. . . .













The crew member on the wing on the right sure looked like dad!
I showed the picture to mom and brother, because there were no names of the ground crew on it. And both agreed it must be dad. The markings on the plane were for an exercise that took place during the time dad would have been with the 350.
We were able to find out the name of the pilot, but not the other crew member.
Dad always loved the Spitfire, even still has a tool for working on them in his workshop.
He was with the unit for about 18 months, even working with some of the Eagle Squadron on occasion.
Below is a link to the site if you are interested.
http://www.350sqn.be/

35 comments:

  1. Every other month I join my father at a luncheon where WW2 pilots get together. When it started there were around three hundred. Now it's down the a handful. I've heard some fascinating stories over many a lunch. It's nice when people remember what all these guys went through.

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  2. I hope more people have taken the time to set with the last of our 'greatest generation'.
    Like you said, there are only a handful left.

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  3. Dear John,

    My name is Mehdi Schneyders and I live in Belgium ( right spelling ). I am designer - illustrator and I work with a free researcher from the Air & Space Section ( Royal Museum of Army and Military History, Brussels ). I read the post over your father's story. I am so happy to found some details about British groundcrews who worked into the 350 " Belgian " Squadron!

    The pilot seated in the cockpit is Paul Siroux ( D.F.C., 2 kills ). Here is the link where you can read his story :

    http://translate.google.com/translate?hl22=fr&ie22=UTF8&oe22=UTF8&prev22=%2Flanguage_tools&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cieldegloire.com%2Funites.php&langpair=fr|en&submit22=Traduire

    Since 2009, I had interviews with some former airmen ( Belgians ) who flew in the R.A.F. during the Second World War :

    - Baron Michel " Mike " Donnet D.F.C. ( Spitfire, Mustang ).
    - André Kicq ( Spitfire ).
    - Robert " Bobby " Laumans ( Spitfire ).
    - Ernest " Nenesse, Titine N°1, Loopy " Loop D.F.C. ( Turret Gunner, Mitchell ).
    - Henri " Brandy, Dimples " Branders ( Spitfire ).
    - Maurice Leens ( Equipment Assistant ).
    - Albert " Pietje " Laforce ( Typhoon ).

    Unfortunately, the Turret Gunner passed away ( 20th of June 2011 ). Otherwise, they are all fit and well! Here is my Blog, where there are some posts about the R.A.F. ( do you read French? ) :

    http://inmyworld-mehdi.blogspot.com/

    If you get more details about your father and other British groundcrews, we'll be very happy to share our informations with you as well.

    Have a nice day.

    Cheers,


    Mehdi Schneyders.

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  4. This is great! Thanks!
    I look forward to reading more on your site.
    Thanks again.

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  5. The photographs are just as wonderful now as the first time around. Fascinating information as well.

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  6. How fantastic to find such a photo. I would love to fill in my own father's military history.
    Did your dad enjoy the series, "Spitfire Aces"?

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    1. I don't think he ever heard of the show. I would love to check it out. Where can I find it.He had actually just had his stroke just before we found the picture, so I don't know if he remembered the picture.

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  7. They led dangerous lives, but also exciting lives, God Bless them all, they sacrificed much for all of us.

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  8. How great to find another photo of your dad on the disk.

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    Replies
    1. I was indeed a very wonderful surprise.

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  9. Your Efforts were rewarded! Good to see such a fine reward for your research.

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    Replies
    1. We do indeed consider it a reward. Thanks for stopping by.

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  10. My father served in WWi and my brothers in WWII; the only record of their service we have is their names on the village church roll and a collection of photos of my elder brother's service in the Fleet Air Arm. So far we have not been able to name any of his 'mates' The information you obtained must have been welcomed and treasured.

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    Replies
    1. The connections I have made with his old 350 squadron really helped fill in some of the details.
      Thanks for stopping by.
      Have you applied for old service records?

      You might try here if you haven't already. https://www.gov.uk/requests-for-personal-data-and-service-records

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  11. Your original post predates my participation in Sepia Saturday, so I'm thrilled to see it now. It's wonderful that service members maintain websites which can fill in a lot of gaps in our family's histories.

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  12. They relay helped me obtain info I did not have.

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  13. A super story! It is so difficult to record a soldier's experience of war after so many years have passed. The challenges of memory and documentation sometimes seem insurmountable. This kind of surprise surpasses the thrill we get from any other gift.

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  14. What a handsome lad he was in uniform. Great post for Sepia Saturday 200!

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  15. He's such a handsome young man with quite the story. Your photos are a treat again too, as this is a perfect post choice.

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  16. How lovely for your dad that you showed such an interest in his life.

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    Replies
    1. Their stories are worth remembering, don't you think?

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  17. A great choice for this week's celebration!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. I think he would have loved it.

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  18. My dad came back from the Battle of the Bulge and never stopped talking about it. I have more questions but he took a lot of material with him to his grave. I do feel I could write a book about all he said but I recorded nothing and I wouldn't have the dates and places together. It is a good post first time around and second time around.

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    1. Thanks. Although my dad saw the bad side of war, losing friends and family, his service time was also one of the highlights of his life. He took away many great experiences. I to wish I had asked a few more questions, and written it down.
      You should still write the book. Your family at least would know his history.
      With the internet, the details are a little easier to fill in.
      Thanks for stopping by.
      I will be adding more about dad and families time in the war, as the details come in.

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  19. It's great that your father is commemorated in your post and also at the other blog. Those who served in WWII deserve a great debt of gratitude from those of us who benefit from their service. If he were still here, I would ask you to thank your dad for me.

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  20. Thank you. That is something I try to do when ever I see a Vet., old or young.
    Keep an eye here. I am thinking, if time allows, of having a blog that follows all my families WW2 experiences.
    Thanks for stopping by.

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  21. I can imagine your surprise to see your father in that second picture.
    Good for you that your efforts paid off and for getting him included in that other site.
    I am a nurturer by nature, not a warrior, but I am glad to those who have the chops for it,
    because, where would we all be if it weren't for them?
    Great post!!
    :)~
    HUGZ

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  22. Thank for stopping by.
    Like most of his generation, I don't think he would have taken that path if not for a couple of evil people.
    But if you could get anything good out of it he did.

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