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KK241 Crew

  HAMMOND, James Leonard Gordon

Sgt J L G Hammond 1865865

These Men of Banstead – Stories from the War Memorial Liberator KK241
This publication includes
thirteen pages on
and the crash of KK241
Sergeant 1865865 (Air Bomber)

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 5 O.T.U.

Died 1-June-1945 aged 20

Son of J. L. Hammond and Ethel Hammond, 32 Winkworth Road Banstead, Surrey, England.

Gordon, as he was always called at home, attended Sutton County School between 1936 and 1941 where he was known as Wally by his school chums. He qualified as a Pilot in February 1945 and was expecting a commission shortly afterwards.

He was killed as part of a Liberator Bomber crew serving with No. 5 OTU (Operational Training Unit) RCAF based at Boundary Bay, British Columbia, and administered by Western Air Command (WAC), at Jericho Beach near Vancouver.

Gordon started his training at Babbacombe in Torquay, Devon in November 1943. He was stationed at a hotel which in one of his first letters home, he described as "overlooking the sea and serves good food". In this and many subsequent letters, Gordon comments on the weather "No greatcoats worn here, its too bloomin' warm." He also requested his parents to send him boot black as well a whitener as he had been issued with a white ceremonial belt.

Gordon hammond's letters home.
Gordon wrote home regularly and this precious collection of letters, as well as various other documents has been kept by the family for over 60 years.

At the start of the Second World War, Chamberlain's Government recognised that airpower was vital to an eventual allied victory and that in the coming struggle there would be a need for intensive aircrew training programmes to produce pilots and crews for the Royal Air Force. 

The peaceful skies above the countries that were then seen as part of the British Empire, would offer ideal training conditions and Canada was seen as an especially attractive location. Within weeks of the start of hostilities, the Canadian government generously responded to Chamberlain's appeal for help and quickly became the backbone of what was referred to as the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS) by the RAF but was known in Canada as the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). 

At its peak in 1943/44 over 100,000 Canadians were directly employed by the BCATP in 111 units across Canada which was to train 137,910 aircrew, and Gordon Hammond was to become one of these.

 By August 1944 Gordon was in Canada at MPO 304 RCAF Ottawa. He wrote " They don't know there's a war on here. Luxury food, lights at night and cars." His biggest complaint was that this was a "Dry State - no beer".

"Maybe the war won't last much longer and I'll be home" he also wrote.

Just one week later he had experienced the hardest work he had ever done, having been drafted in to fight the large forest fires in the area. It may have been hot on the ground but it was "23 below up in the air."

JLG Hammond on course 116-9
This photograph is undated however the cedar shingles in the background suggest that Gordon (back row second from left) had started his training at a BCATP facility.

In September 1944 Gordon moved on to No. 7 Bombing and Gunnery school at Paulson, Manitoba. Gordon was a man who did not mince his words, even to his parents. "The camp stinks and the food is putrid" he wrote. By this time he was also thinking about the likelihood of being "slung out to Burma" and this option did not appeal to him at all.

Gordon found that dropping bombs was more complex than he had expected but his thoughts were about a possible Armistice and good old England, and he found he could not concentrate on the theory, nevertheless he scored 78% on his first exam.

On the 9th of October 1944 he was promoted to Flying Officer having scored 85% on his last exam. On his latest bombing trip he had an average error of 35yds, which he wrote was "as good as six direct hits." By mid October he had progressed onto dropping salvos of bombs instead of singles. Gordon complained "I was flying till 2.00am then again at 7.30am, again at 1pm and again at When are we supposed to sleep?"

Away from training, Gordon never forgot England or his parents. Three months to the day from arriving in Canada, he managed to find four pairs of silk stockings for his mother. In his letters he often mentioned buying presents for friends and family when funds allowed.

On the 2nd November Gordon was promoted to Flight Lieutenant having achieved 82% on turret manipulation and range estimation. Always in his mind however was England and the weather. "I wish I could pinch a Mosquito - I'd get the bugger home somehow. Yesterday, it was so hot we were in shirt sleeves. Today we have a gale and snow. Ye Gods! The wind cuts right through everything we can wear."

By late November 1944, Gordon had moved on to Central Navigation School, No 1 CNS Rivers, Manitoba. He reported that despite the six feet of snow which was expected, he was enjoying navigation. Within a week he was capable of "landing right on the 'dome' following a 300 mile round trip", no mean feat with the ground covered in snow.

With Christmas approaching , Gordon wrote "Going to Minnesota for Christmas. We (RAF) are treated like Lords down there. I'd rather be in Banstead though! Only 8 weeks to go now. Will be home before I realize if they don't send us out to OTU." As it turned out, Gordon was unable to get to the States as the station ran out of US currency, so he had Christmas dinner in a café.

During the Christmas period Gordon managed to get to see an ice hockey game. "All the padding makes them look three times the size." he wrote, "Would like to see the Canadians or Yanks turn out for a game of rugby."

Winter in Canada got no better and in January Gordon got frostbite but recovered well. In February 1945 he moved to Moncton, New Brunswick and seemed to enjoy the journey there. He wrote home "On way here met a negro porter who liked England and Englishmen. Moreover, when he was stationed in England, he was at Banstead of all places. He literally waited on me hand and foot."

5OTU Jacket crest courtesy of Capt Jason White
5OTU Jacket Crest.

Within a few weeks, Gordon found himself at 5 OTU Boundary Bay, Vancouver, B.C. Canada with the real prospect of going straight from there to Ops.

The role of 5 OTU is fascinating and indicates the scope of the Allied Air Forces remit during the war. 
By early 1944 the BCATP in Canada operated on such a large scale that the needs for aircrew in Europe, seen as the priority for the early war years, were at last being met and even exceeded. It was therefore decided to allocate aircrew to Air Command South East Asia (ACSEA or SEAC) for operations against the Japanese.

In order to push back the Japanese from their conquests in Burma, Malaya and Singapore, it was clear that a small but elite bomber force of at least six squadrons of long range heavy bombers would be required to support the 14th Army. The decision was made to use the American B24J Liberator which was available in numbers, whereas the British types were all needed for the European night bomber offensive.

Known in RAF service as the Liberator B MkVI, the aircraft carried a crew of eleven but had a range long enough to operate against the Japanese from bases in India.

The location chosen to train this force was Western Canada, with the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean near at hand. RCAF Boundary Bay on the coast, just south of Vancouver right on the border with the USA was the principle airfield together with its satellite, a few miles east, inland at RCAF Abbotsford. 

No 5 RCAF OTU was formed with 27 B25 Mitchells and 17 Liberators  at Boundary Bay on April 1st 1944.  The twin-engined American B25 Mitchell bombers were used as trainers allowing the pilots to step up to the big four-engined Liberators in stages and these were also supplemented with a flight of P40 Kittyhawk fighters, used for fighter affiliation exercises.

The initial training was completed at Boundary Bay and the assumption at the time was that the RAF Liberator crews would be flying at night, so the training involved a seven man crew, (two Pilots, Navigator, Bomb aimer, Wireless Air Gunner and an Air Gunner.)

A change of plan to daylight operations called for four Air Gunners and a second Wireless Air Gunner to make it an eleven man crew. It was at this point that a second base became necessary. From this point on, all Mitchell training was done at Boundary Bay with the initial six man crews learning the American systems and the Air Gunners learning the .50 calibre weapons. Once this initial training was complete all students were sent to the second station at Abbotsford some ten miles to the east of Boundary Bay. Here they would form the 11 man crews that would eventually ship out overseas. 

Location of Abbostford airfied and Mt Welch Abbotsford,with its geographical proximity to Boundary Bay and to the sea made the location desirable, and the need for a flat area suitable as an aerodrome limited location options, but Abbotsford had one disadvantage. It rested at the base of the foothills of the Coast Range Mountains which rose to form an impressively high barrier to the east.

Strangely, Gordon would have recognised a few familiar names on the map. Back home, Banstead is located in the County of Surrey, and Ferndale Road is one of the original roads in Banstead village.  Furthermore, Mount Welch shown on the map, is in the Cheam mountain range and of course Cheam is a village not far from Banstead.

The training regime was extremely comprehensive, including air navigation exercises of up to ten hours duration, formation flying, formation bombing exercises, air to air firing, air to ground firing, camera reconnaissance flights, and day and night cross country flights.

The BCATP plan ended officially on March 31st 1945, but Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) continued to process the crews being trained within the scheme for another year, particularly as the war against Japan continued.

It was in April 1945 that Gordon started gunnery flight firing over the Pacific. "Tomorrow we start in the Mitchells, flying with our skippers and crew. I've got a nice little compartment in the nose with a lovely view so I shall be quite happy. It's the life for me. " A couple of weeks later he wrote again "They told us the other day that we shouldn't be getting any leave, but I am not worried as I think we shall be home before I go out there. By the time you get this letter I expect the war over there will be over and done with. I only wish I was there on V day. I am wondering if we can wangle to be home for my 21st.  India is no place to spend a 21st." 

One new activity at 5 OTU was the daily one hour PT session which quickly resulted in Gordon losing the weight he had put on during the navigation course.

One other activity that proved quite profitable  was playing cards. Whenever he needed more funds, Gordon often played poker with "some fool with plenty of money." He did lose $55 on one occasion  when a number of wallets were stolen from the billet. Inside his wallet was a photo of his girlfriend Denise who had faithfully written to him two or three times a week. Losing the photo "does not matter now that Deny's given me the bird" wrote Gordon." I shall start writing to Olive again."

One tricky test at 5 OTU involved the decompression chamber. "They took us up to 30,000 feet then two of us had to take our masks off. I did pretty well and lasted for 5 minutes before I collapsed. The medical officer said I was a strong willed bugger and although I was going, I was doing my damnedest to hold on." Gordon lasted out far longer than his colleague.

Gordon's last letter home was dated 8 May 1945 and headed VE DAY.

He wrote "VE day celebrations here were what I expected - Bloody awful. Just cars driving up and down blaring their horns and not a drop of beer in the place.

"This is our last week here then we go on to another station, then either home or --------!!!? Let's hope its home. Keep your fingers crossed. In three weeks time it will be a year since I saw you and a year since I had any leave. I'm pretty tired of it all too."

"He had specific messages for both his mother and father:

"You can't drink and fly you know mum. We have to fly so we don't drink...... Regarding that permanent commission dad, the only uniform I ever want to put on again when this war is ended is a civies - sports coat and flannels. I'm only living for the day I can get out of this and do as I please for a change.

"In about a month from now I shall know whether I am coming home first. It would be just my luck not to.

"That's all, I'll write again soon love Gordon xxx" 

The aircraft that Gordon and the rest of the crew were flying at that time was  RCAF Liberator Coded KK241. The RAF crew at No. 5.0.T.U. were nearing the end of their assignment at RCAF Base Abbotsford, and were soon to be dispatched to the RAF "Tiger Force" in the Pacific (history shows that this never took place and most 5 OTU crews were sent to S.E. Asia and Burma RAF squadrons.)

Liberators at Abbotsford, Courtesy of W/C MacKay from the DesMazes collection
Liberators at Abbotsford,
Courtesy of W/C MacKay from the DesMazes collection

At 4.30 on the 31st May Gordon and the rest of the crew were briefed on a navigation excercise which was to take them to Penticon as a first turning point, thence to Revelstoke, and back to base, a total distance of 509 miles. 

It was a very cloudy day with the cloud base at 3000 feet and the tops at 8000 feet. There was more cloud higher up but no difficulty was expected to be found flying in between layers of cloud. As usual, the crew had clear instructions on when and how they should contact the base. 

The one difference to previous flights was that this particular flight would be the crew's first flight with a fully loaded Liberator. They were informed that the mountain heights of their climb to 14,000 feet (their operational height) were: Mount Cheam - 6925 feet - 11 minutes on course, and Silver Tip Mountain, 8550 feet approximately 14 minutes on course.

Liberator KK241 took off at 9.06am on 1st June, under the command of Flying Officer William D.A. Hill. The Second Pilot was Pilot Officer Gilbert, and the Navigator was Sergeant Graham Murray. Several of the crew were wireless air gunners. The aircraft climbed to 4000 feet, and set course as directed and confirmed back to base. Thirty four minutes later, a request was received for a practice fix ie a position. They were instructed by base " Message received. Transmit call sign and dashes."  This last signal was never acknowledged despite also being relayed by another aircraft on the same exercise. Repeated efforts were made to contact KK241 without success.

Other aircraft confirmed encountering cloud from 4,000 to 8,000 feet.  KK241 failed to report in at the first turning point raising further concern and eventually the time came when it would have been impossible for the aircraft to still be flying as it would have run out of fuel.  

Jim Fail, serving with 5 OTU at the time, recalls that when radio contact with the aeroplane was lost and  the aeroplane failed to return, all rescue services were put on alert as the fate of the crew could depend on a timely rescue from either the sea to the west, or from the mountainous territory to the east. By this time the mountain tops were visible but the valleys were shrouded in clouds.

A telegram was sent to Mr Hammond. It was stamped 2 June 1945 at Banstead, notifying Mr and Mrs Hammond that their son James Leonard Gordon Hammond was reported as missing as a result of air operations. The following few weeks can only have been an anxious and dreadful time for the family.

Back in Canada a considerable area was searched by air immediately, but the weather remained unfavourable for the first two weeks of the month. Notwithstanding, a large ground search was quickly organised and this went on day and night from the 1 June to the 16 June. During this period, every available aircraft combed the region, each being allocated areas of ocean or of land. In all, nearly 200 men were used in the search and over 50 planes;  372 sorties were made and over 700,000 miles flown over the mountains. 

The Group Captain commanding 5 OTU was an experienced pilot having completed a tour of operations in Europe. He piloted a single engined Noordyn Norseman communications aircraft and flew in and out of the Chilliwack Mountain valleys, impossible for the lumbering bombers. Late on June 16th the clouds lifted above the peaks of the Cheam range and he found what everyone had been dreading. The wreckage was sighted on the rocky slopes of Mount Welch. The plane was 36 miles off course although only a few minutes flying time east of Abbotsford, and had crashed less than 100 feet below its 7,730 foot summit. 

The aircraft had completely disintegrated and there was no possibility of survivors. The incident is regarded as the worst to have occurred during 5 OTU's history, although there were other crashes and numerous fatalities.

Trekking to Mt Welch
The trek to Mt Welch.
One of the photographs sent to the family by the Padre.

Early on 17 June, a small party of experienced mountain climbers, led by Command Search Rescue Officer, Squadron Leader Lee, started off in an attempt to reach the wreckage.  The trip was made over difficult trails using truck, jeep, Bren gun carrier and packhorse, to an advance camp some eight miles from the base of Mount Welch. From there all supplies had to be carried by the party. A day's climbing followed and on the second night, camp was made at about 3000 feet below the site of the crash. 

It was not until Wednesday 20 Jun that Squadron Leader Lee and one other group member reached the crash site having already confirmed, via wreckage strewn down the mountainside, that this was indeed the final resting place of Liberator KK241.

On Monday 25 June the same group returned with Flight Lieutenant Gilbert the Anglican Padre who conducted a simple but impressive service. The cross was beautified with wild mountain flowers which the group had gathered and made into a wreath. A salute to the comrades who had perished on the mountain was fired and several photographs taken to record the event.

On the 27 Jun 1945, in Banstead, the final telegram was delivered to Mr and Mrs Hammond.

J L G Hammond - Telegram

Hammond JLG Burial cairn
The final salute.
The Padre wrote to Mr and Mrs Hammond when he returned from the expedition. " It would be impossible for me to over emphasize the inaccessibility of the location....
....the steep mountain grades, the tangled underbrush, the avalanche snow and the fording of numerous creeks made it impossible for us to bring out the bodies of the eleven Royal Air Force lads. Even the burial party of six persons all of whom were experienced mountaineers, except myself, required nine days to complete the work entailed in the mountain burial. 

As you will see from the enclosed photographs, the grave site is indeed a most beautiful spot; it seems literally on top of the world. All the lads were buried together side by side, comrades in death as they had been in life as members of the crew of the fateful Liberator."

The burial service was held at 3.00pm on Sunday 1st of July 1945.

Wing Commander D J Williams , Officer Commanding, RCAF Station, Abbotsford,B.C. wrote to the Hammonds on 12 July 1945 apologizing for the much regretted delay in sending more details.

He wrote "Liberator 241 crashed into the side of Mt. Welch, at a height of 7000 feet. The aircraft blew to bits with only part of the tail section remaining at the point of impact. The explosion loosened tons of rock and snow which came down the mountainside with considerable wreckage from the plane.

All remains were buried and a rock grave erected in the saddle between Mt.Welch and Mt. Still. A cross was put up and F/L Gilbert, E.W.S., Church of England, conducted the burial service."

J L G Hammond - View from the Burial site
The view from the burial site.

  Liberator KK241 crew burial
One of the photographs sent to the Hammonds by Padre F/L Gilbert.
This was the standard RAF cross, white with black lettering.

At that time, Liberators were all given the standard RAF cammo colours on the U.S. assembly lines and in order to distinguish them from operational aircraft, training Liberators had their wing tips painted yellow and a yellow band around the fuselage. It was decided that when a training aircraft came in for its 30 hour maintenance check, the camouflage paint would be removed. This decision appears to have been based on two factors.

1. The lead camouflage paint added an estimated 900 pounds to the weight of a Liberator thus increasing fuel consumption.

2. A number of aircraft on the West Coast had gone missing, often crashing into the woods etc. Camouflage paint on training aircraft was not required and if they were shiny they would stand out easier against the bush should they go down. 

Gordon Hammond's Liberator and the one in which he made his last flight was (B24J US Serial 44-44312) RCAF Serial KK241. There is no known image of Liberator KK241 as it was only at the base for a very short time.

Every US manufactured aircraft that came off the assembly line was given a USAAF ser. number. eg: 44-44312. There were five locations where the Liberators were made and only two of these locations sent Liberators to 5 OTU. The KK241 number was the British/Canadian or RAF/RCAF number. This was the only number used by Canada or the UK. The code letters were a Unit or 5 OTU use only. Officially the RAF and RCAF would have only ever known these aircraft by their KK241 type number.

Some earlier aircraft were re-coded but Hammond's aircraft never had a second code number; it was only at 5 OTU for 14 days before the crash. Official RCAF records show this aircraft in Western Air Command storage from the delivery date from the USA until it was taken on by 5 OTU.

  Gordon's letter to sister Gwen
On the left is a small section of one of Gordon's first letters home, so early that he had not even started flying yet. Much of the content of this website which covers his training in Canada comes  from his writings, but also included in his letters were numerous references to family and many friends. Gordon must have been a popular young man back in Banstead.

In this particular letter, as usual, he talks about returning home. He also says that he has not forgotten his younger sister Gwen,  and over sixty years after his tragic death, which so sadly stopped him fullfilling his dream of coming home, Gordon is himself not forgotten.

Gwen has kindly given us access to Gordon's letters, which she has lovingly kept all these years, in order that his story can be fully told.

In 1982, Chris Weicht, the Commanding officer of the Air Cadet Squadron at Abbotsford, hiked into the mountains in search of the grave, but could find no sign of it. Numerous landslides over the previous 40 years had removed any evidence of the location, and had even brought many pieces of the aircraft down as far as the base camp. Chris decided to construct a new monument to the deceased airmen, a feat that was accomplished on June 11, 1983. It was constructed on an island in Airplane Creek near the location of the Squadron Leader's camp of 1945. The monument is comprised of a complete engine of the aircraft mounted in a vertical position with its base encased in 200 pounds of cement, which had been carried to the site by the Cadets. Local stone and other wreckage was placed around the monument. A stainless steel plaque was mounted at the base listing the airmen's names and details of the tragedy.

NOTE FROM WEBMASTER - We do not have a photograph of the Airplane Creek memorial. If you happen to be in the area and are able to take one or two for us we would be most grateful. A copy will of course be forwarded to Gordon's sister, Gwen. Thank You. LNW Ottawa Memorial by permission of Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

UPDATE JUNE 2009 - A group of Canadian hikers/mountaineers from a local club were hoping to organize a trip to Airplane Creek to take a few photos. One member of the group has already been in touch with Chris Weicht and has obtained details of the exact location. Another member has already visited the spot and found that the high volume of water in the creek in recent years seems to have undermined a tree which fell and dislodged the memorial. A number of people are now considering how best the memorial can be reinstated. Further discussions about the area and the crash site can be found at Clubtread.Please note that the initial discussions referred to another crash in the area. LNW. 21 June 2009.

Name Rank Service No. Age
Stanley ALDRIDGE Sergeant 1892574 20
Albert Eric BROADBENT Sergeant 1591260 19
John Randall DALE Sergeant 1895153 32
William Peter Watt DRUMMOND Sergeant 1565226 23 or 24 *
Isaac GIBBONS Sergeant 1591213 19
James Leonard Gordon HAMMOND Sergeant 1865865 20
Arthur William David HILL Flying Officer 164394 21
David Robertson LANGLANDS Sergeant 1564813
Gilbert Ewart Ellis LONG Pilot Officer 167802 21
Graham MURRAY Sergeant 1811515 20
William Thomas SWATTON Sergeant 1169175 34
*Age 24 indicated by CWGC. Age 23 indicated by BC Vital Stats Index.

The Commonwealth War Grave Commission records indicated that all of these men were commemorated by "the Ottawa Memorial", Ottawa Ontario Canada. This Memorial commemorates those of the Air Forces of the British Commonwealth who lost their lives while serving in units operating from bases in Canada, the British West Indies and the United Sates, or while training in Canada and the U.S.A., and who have no known graves.

  5 OTU reunion
This photograph was taken at the 5 OTU reunion at Abbotsford and shows members of Branch #15 of the Royal Canadian Legion and their Colour Guard at the Abbotsford Cenotaph calling out the names of all the RCAF and RAF of 5 OTU that were killed at, or flying from Abbotsford.  
Gordon Hammond lost his life just 10 weeks before the war finally ended. He never had to bomb the Japanese and his mortal remains lie high in the mountains of British Colombia to this day. Mount Welch is located between Wahleach Lake and the Chilliwack River, Yale Division, Yale Land District. According to the article by Chris Weicht(1993)1, the Cadets of 861 Abbotsford Squadron make a trek to the location each year in remembrance of the loss of the 11 RAF airmen. They are not forgotten.

 Over sixty years after the crash, the Canadians still remember all the men who died whilst on training with 5 OTU.

Michael DesMazes, a local military historian  will be doing a display in Abbotsford this November (2009) for all the fallen airmen of 5 OTU  Abbotsford. The location is the newly opened Reach Gallery Museum near Abbotsford's City Hall and newly moved Cenotaph.

Six weeks after the Japanese surrender, 5 Operational Training Unit disbanded. Its remaining Liberators were sold as scrap in 1946.

  Cenotaph at Boundary Bay

The Cenotaph pictured on the right is at Boundary Bay Airport, the former RCAF Station Boundary Bay, and is sited right beside a large hangar, which is the sole remaining World War II building on the airport grounds. Capt Jason White Regional Cadet Air Operations (Pacific) and his father-in-law constructed it with the assistance of local businesses.

The Cenotaph was dedicated at a ceremony on May 7, 2005. Those in attendance included six Air Cadet squadrons and many veterans, including quite a few who had flown at RCAF Station Boundary Bay. The picture below shows the Honour guard reversing arms.

Cenetaph ceremony at Boundary Bay 

  Roll of Honour Sutton Grammer School
Gordon is one of the Suttonians listed on the school's Roll of Honour for WWII and this still hangs in the school hall today. 

Remarkably Gordon's story does not end there, as he has one more achievment. Of all of the men on the Banstead War Memorial, Gordon was buried not just the furthest away, but also at the highest altitude. He is also remembered on more memorials than any other man, but there is one more very special memorial yet to mention.

On April 4, 1941, the Chilliwack Branch of the Women's Auxiliary to the Air Services [CAAS] mostlty mothers and wives of Chilliwack District air force personnel, decided to create an honour roll of local enlistments. One idea that the branch conceived was the creation of a living memorial to Chilliwack district airmen killed during the Second World War. This living memorial remains in place today.

Blue hydrangea Living memorial Chillwack Middle School, B.C. Canada 
The Blue Hydrangeas photographed at the Rededication ceremony at Chilliwack Middle School on 6 May 2009.  

The group sent blue hydrangeas to two airmen's homes,  however two plants, required temporary homes and were planted at the local school. The school site was at first considered to be only a temporary location until a permanent plot could be found.

At the time of the first planting, the High School Band provided music for the assembly of 100 persons that included members of the school's cadet corps. Reverend H.P. Barton gave an address, followed by a short silence after which CAAS President Edna Grace Coulter led the assembly in the "Airman's Prayer".

By 1946, some 49 hydrangeas had been planted, only one hydrangea was planted, not in memory of a local enlistment, but in memory of an entire Royal Air Force crew that lost their lives when their aircraft crashed on Mt. Welch, June 1, 1945 - Gordon Hammond's plane. Mrs. Ed Halsall, an English war bride and Cyril Weber, an English child evacuee sent to Canada in 1942 planted the shrub.

Not all of the original hydrangeas remain today but the living memorial, still at Chilliwack Middle School, was again rededicated on May 6, 2009. At this ceremony it was stated that 879 (Earl MacLeod) RCAF Wing Chilliwack intended to include the memorial in its annual program of remembrance.

Reg Daws, Regional Vice President of Pacific Group, and a member of the local wing of the Air Force Association of Canada, said that, "to our knowledge living memorials are very rare and, to me, it's important that our community continue to respect and remember this memorial just as other monuments are respected and remembered."

Gordon Hammond and the rest of the crew of Liberator KK241 will not be forgotten and a page dedicated to the whole crew is under construction here .

CWGC Memorial Reference: Panel 4. Column 2.

OTTAWA MEMORIAL Ontario, Canada.


The main source of information comes from documents and photographs retained by the family and at the time of writing held by Mrs Ann Edwards (known as Gwen), sister to Gordon Hammond. These include 24 letters from Gordon as well as correspondence from Canada following the crash.  Mrs Edwards was traced by professional genealogist and BHRG member Christine Kent.

The fate of KK241 is also recorded in the Chilliwack Archives which hold a copy of an article written by Chris Weicht, Commanding office of the Air Cadet Squadron at Abbotsford, as published in the BC Aviator Vol 3 No 2 Oct/Nov. 1993. The article is titled "Liberator VY KK241 - Lest We Forget". Some of the information detailed in the article has since been updated following further detailed research by Michael DesMazes.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Okanagan Researcher, Vol. 16 (4), June 2000 (Mountaintop Memorials by Gayle Jesperson)
The memoirs of JEH Fail (Jim) - 5 OTU, Boundary Bay 1944/5.
The Chilliwack archive - Chris Weicht, Commanding office of the Air Cadet Squadron at Abbotsford. - SEAC aviation/Liberator history site.
Aircrew Unlimited, John Golley - PSL 1993
Capt Jason White, Regional Cadet Air Operations (Pacific)
Article from Ex-Air Gunner’s magazine, Short Bursts on the ceremony at the cenotaph.
Thanks also go to Michael DesMazes whose detailed research since 1987 has provided valuable information on the aircraft used by 5 OTU.
The Suttonian magazine from Sutton Grammar School's archives.
Chilliwack Museum kindly provided a report and photos of the Living Memorial at Chilliwack Middle School.
Bob Young, Principal Chilliwack Middle School,photographed the service in May 2009 and is providing a copy of all the photos.
....................................................................................................................................... Back to WWll panels

Last update 21 June  2009 - Living Memorial details and photos.

Incorrectly inscribed as J H BAUCH on the Banstead War Memorial.

At present the correct surname (Baugh or Hampson-Baugh)has yet to be confirmed.

Go to webpage for WWll 'B'

HART Ronald James.

Able Seaman C/JX 236917 Royal Navy

Died on 02/10/1942 on HMS Curacoa, aged about thirty.

Son of Ernest and Jessie Maud Hart nee Simmonds who married in Q 3 1912 in Willesden

Ronald was born a year later in Q 3 1913

He married Beatrice Alice Hart, of Margate, Kent in Q3 1937 and in 1939 they were recorded as living at 52 Winkworth Road, Banstead.

They moved to 69 Egmont Rd Sutton the same year, where Ronald is shown as a bank messenger.

At that time his parents lived at Windy Ridge, Crabtree Lane in Great Bookham and Ernest was also recorded as a bank messenger.


HMS Curacoa  (pictured in 1941) was a C-class light cruiser built for the Royal Navy and had seen service during WWI. HMS Cuacoa 1941

In 1933, Curacoa became a training ship and in July 1939, two months before the start of the WWII, she was converted into an Anti-aircraft cruiser. She returned to service in January 1940 and, while providing escort in the Norwegian Campaign that April, was damaged by German aircraft. After repairs were completed that year, she escorted convoys in and around the British Isles for two years.

In late 1942, during escort duty, she was accidentally sliced in half and sunk by the Ocean liner RMS Queen Mary, with the loss of 337 men.

On the morning of 2 October 1942, Curacoa rendezvoused north of Ireland with the ocean liner Queen Mary, which was carrying approximately 10,000 American troops. The liner was steaming an evasive Zig-Zag Pattern to evade submarine attacks. The elderly cruiser remained on a straight course.

Each captain had different interpretations of The Rule of the Road believing his ship had the right of way. Captain John Wilfred Boutwood of Curacoa kept to the liner's mean course to maximize his ability to defend the liner from enemy aircraft, while Commodore Sir Cyril Gordon Illingworth of Queen Mary continued their zig-zag pattern expecting the escort cruiser to give way. It was quite normal for the ships and cruisers to zig-zag to confuse the U-boats.

At 13:32, during the zig-zag, it became apparent that Queen Mary would come too close to the cruiser and the liner's Officer of the watch interrupted the turn to avoid Curacoa. Upon hearing this command, Illingworth told his officer to: "Carry on with the zig-zag. These chaps are used to escorting; they will keep out of your way and won't interfere with you."

At 14:04, Queen Mary started the starboard turn from a position slightly behind the cruiser and at a distance of about 400 yards . Boutwood perceived the danger, but the distance was too close for either of the hard turns ordered for each ship to make any difference at the speeds that they were travelling. Queen Mary struck Curacoa amidships at full speed, cutting the cruiser in half. The aft end sank almost immediately, but the rest of the ship stayed on the surface a few minutes longer.


HMS Curacoa hit by Queen Mary  An image of the accident ( this image appeared under a veteran's story in

Acting under orders not to stop due to the risk of U-boat attacks, Queen Mary steamed onwards with a damaged bow. She reported the collision on the radio and hours later, the convoy's lead escort, and one other ship, returned to rescue approximately 101 survivors, including Captain Boutwood. Lost with Curacoa were 337 officers and men of her crew including Ronald James Hart who like most of men is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial.

 Under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986, Curacoa's wrecksite is designated a "protected place".

Those who witnessed the collision were sworn to secrecy due to national security concerns. The loss was not publicly reported until after the war ended but a court case was to follow. The trial was adjourned to December 1946. Mr. Justice Pilcher exonerated Queen Mary's crew and her owners from blame on 21 January 1947 and laid all fault on Curacoa's officers. The Admiralty appealed his ruling and the Court of Appeal modified the ruling, assigning two-thirds of the blame to the Admiralty and one third to Cunard White Star. The latter appealed to the House of Lords, but the decision was upheld.

After Ronald was killed, his wife Beatrice moved back to 52 Winkworth Road where she is recorded as living with Margaret and Winifred Wood in 1945.

Grave/Memorial Reference: 54, 2.

The following message comes from the Mallaig Heritage Centre Forum:

My father, Able Seaman Ernest Ward, served on HMS Curacoa and was one of the survivors. After 2 hours in the water he was picked up by a local fishing boat and taken to Derry. My sympathies go to all of you who lost relatives and loved ones.

I am a professional singer and have recently recorded a song about this incident called \"Sail On By\" for a new CD album. It is dedicated to all the memory of HMS Curacoa and all those who served on her. My way of trying to help ensure that the tragedy is not forgotten. If anyone connected with this incident would like a CD then please contact me and I will send one free of charge. My website is and e-mail [email protected]


Source :

Research by B arbara Rough

Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Wikipedia for the account of the sinking


1939 Register

Electoral rolls

Last updated 28 Jan 2021 after confirmation that Ronald James is the correct man. there are four R J Hart on the CWGC site

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HAYWARD, Leslie Alec
Leslie Alec Hayward Distinguished Flying Medal
Flying Officer 124123

Awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal.

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 58 Sqrn.

Died 12-March-1944 aged 28.

Leslie Alec Hayward was born in the June Quarter of 1915 and his birth was registered in Croydon.

Son of Edwin and Edith Mary Hayward, of Banstead, Surrey. F.S.M.C., F.B.O.A.
Edwin Hayward married Edith Mary Bray in 1911 and their marriage was registered at Hitchin.
They lived at Bynebarrow, 45 Fiddicroft Avenue. Banstead.

Alec as he was known, and his brother Antony were twins born in Wallington, Surrey, on 22nd April, 1915. They grew up roaming the countryside around there and both had a great interest in birds, butterflies and reptiles. Alec would have liked to have been a botanist but in those days with not a great deal of money about he needed a proper job and was trained to be an optician. Antony took a job in a bank as a runner, taking messages about from office to office through the city alleyways.

They both joined the RAF when war broke out. Antony went on to fly Hamdens, and was the only survivor of a Hamden bombing raid, shot down over Belgium in August 1941, He was taken prisoner and spent the rest of the war in hospitals and then POW camps, Sagan and then Lubeck until his release in 1945. (Antony's story is recorded in full in the War Memories Section as he survived the war).

Alec was commissioned in 1942 and that year experienced an emergency that is hard to train for, landing a bomber on water.

Alec wrote up his report which was marked MOST SECRET.  He recounts how on the 16 June 1942 he was on an anti-submarine mission over the Bay of Biscay.  The crew on that day were  F/Sgt Hayward, Sgt Hill, Sgt Young, Sgt Linton, Sgt Walsh and Sgt Wyser.  He says " In an attack on a submarine, we were blown up by our own bombs".  The bombs were designed to be dropped from high altitude however, pilots were keen to ensure that they achieved a hit and although risky, they often flew low over the target to increase the chances of success. It was not unusual for a plane to be hit by debris from a successful attack.

The plane lost height rapidly and in an effort to lighten the load, Hayward gave instructions to jettison as much material as possible to increase their chances of  reaching Gibraltar.  The plane just about made it to the coastline where F/Sgt Hayward brought her down safely in the water with no injuries to the crew reported. This was a dangerous manouvre as if a wing tip had hit the water on one side, the plane could have spun and broken up.

The crew made several fruitless attempts to destroy the plane  until they were prevented from further efforts by the Fiscal Guards.  They later saw the plane practically submerged and heard that the Portugese intended to salvage it.

The crew were questioned, and their arms confiscated, but Hayward reported that the guards were  "friendly". The crew were taken to Lisbon by the international police and later repatriated to the U.K.

F/Sgt Hayward  was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for saving the crew of the stricken plane and he also became a member of The Goldfish Club. Gold represents the value of the life, and fish represents  the sea. It is an exclusive club for airmen who owed their lives to their life jacket, dinghy, etc.

Flying Officer Leslie Alec Hayward is believed to have been lost on operations with 58 Squadron (RAF Coastal Command) flying Handley Page Halifaxes from RAF St Davids in Wales in 1944. His plane was possibly known as Archangel.

No 58 Squadron re-formed in England in 1924 as a heavy bomber unit and in the years which followed was mainly engaged in routine training. In 1925 Squadron Leader A. T. Harris (who became A.O.C.-in-C. Bomber Command 1942 - 1945 and then Marshal of the Royal Air Force) took command of the squadron, one of his flight commanders during his tour as C.O. being Flight Lieutenant R. H. M. S. Saundby, who became Air Marshal Sir Robert Saundby and was Deputy C.-in-C. Bomber Command from 1943 - 1945.

No. 58 was flying Whitleys from Yorkshire at the outbreak of the Second World War, and first went into action on the night of 3rd/4th September, 1939, when - in conjunction with No. 51 Squadron - it made a leaflet raid over Germany. This was the first occasion on which R.A.F aircraft penetrated into German airspace during the Second World War. A few weeks after this operation No. 58 was ordered to an airfield in South-West England for duty with Coastal Command and until late January, 1940, it was employed on escorting convoys and flying anti-submarine patrols. The squadron returned to Yorkshire in February and from April 1940 to March 1942, played a prominent part in the night-bombing offensive. Its targets were of the widest variety, from airfields, road and railway communications, marshalling yards and industrial centres, to the Channel Ports, oil and petrol installations and shipping at sea.

Halifax 58 Squadron - picture courtesy of
A Halifax of No. 58 Squadron.

In April, 1942, No. 58 Squadron was transferred to Coastal Command, re-equipping with Halifaxes in December. From December 1943 until August 1944 the unit was based at St Davids on the Welsh coast alongside 502 Sqn. The two squadrons were tasked with anti-shipping strikes, anti-submarine patrols and armed reconnaissance sorties. During 1944, 58 and 502 Squadrons lost nine aircraft between them and it is believed that Leslie Alec Hayward was a member of the crew on one of these aircraft.

Runnymede Memorial, by permission of Commonwealth War Graves CommissionOn the fateful day, Flying Officer Leslie Alec Hayward piloted a Halifax Mark 2 serial number HX225 on an anti-submarine patrol in the Biscay area. The last signal from the plane was received at 0117hrs on the 12th of March 1944. Nothing more was heard from the crew and death was presumed - lost at sea. Alec was just 28 years of age.

Alec's body was not recovered and he is remembered on the Runnymede memorial in Surrey.

L A Hayward Runnymede Memorial Panel 206

Memorial Reference: Panel 206.


Atteren em Portugal by Carlos GuerreiroSource : Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Personal details from Liz Christie and Judy Forth, both daughters of Antony Hayward.
June 1942 crash details provided by Carlos Guerreiro author of Atterem em Portugal.
Family research by Barbara Rough
1937 and 1948 telephone directories.
RAF research by Mark Stanley.
Coastal Support and Spec sqns of the RAF - John D Rawlings 1982
Halifax Squadrons of WW2 - Jon Lake - 1999
Action Station 3 - David J Smith - 1981
Related link : RAF History of No. 58 squadron.
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Last update 18 January 2009 (details of landing on water in 1942.) 

Details of crew members involved in 1942 crash:
1164652 F/Sgt L A Hayward  2 years service Opthalmic Optician, Fiddicroft Ave, Banstead Surrey.
921750   Sgt F  Hill 2 years service, Estate Agent, Chessington Road, Ewell, Surrey 
1311928 Sgt C D  Young 1 year 8 months service, student, Kingsmere House, Wokingham, Berks. 
1005979 Sgt  T Linton  2 years service, Builder's clerk, Cecil Ave. Warmsworth, Nr. Doncaster.
R.68266 Sgt J W Walsh, 2 years service, Architect's clerk, Maitland Street, London, Ontario, Canada. 
1375358 Sgt V C Wyser,  1 year 7 months service, Commercial traveller, Wavender Ave, Chiswick, London.
all of 58 sqn RAF.


HOBDEN, William

William Hobden
Sergeant 745887

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 37 Sqrn.

Died 16-February-1941 aged 23

Son of John Hobden and of Mary Hobden (nee Lee) whose marriage was registered in Croydon in the January Quarter of 1913.

William was born in the April Quarter of 1917 at Croydon.

He was the husband of Margaret Hobden (nee Thomson), of Uckfield, Sussex.

William attended Sutton County School between 1928 and 1934. He was a very keen member of his House, playing for the House Football XI, and was also Chess Captain as well as being a prefect.

After he left school, William joined the Sutton Branch of Walkers, the jewellers, but left after three years to help his father on the land.

In February 1939, he joined the RAFVR, pilot section and was called up on the outbreak of war. He received his "wings" in June 1940 and only four months later, he went to the Middle East as part of No.37 Squadron.
William Hobdon photo courtesy of Sutton Grammer School

No 37 Squadron had been reformed three years earlier, on 26th April 1937 when 'B' Flight of No 214 Squadron was expanded to squadron status. Equipped with Harrows at Feltwell it operated in the bomber role. Wellingtons were received in May 1939 and six of these were immediately in action on the outbreak of war. The horrendous losses sustained in these early daylight operations led No 37, together with the rest of the 'heavy' bomber force to turn to night bombing.

On the night between the 20th and 21st of October 1940 William Hobden flew in one of the seven "3 Group" Wellingtons which attacked the Turpitz in Wilhelmshaven. On that occasion, no direct hits were reported on the battleship. During the following month, the bombers were transferred to the Middle East.

Initial operations were carried out from Malta but by mid November the squadron was settled in Egypt. Based principally at Shallufa in Egypt, 1941 was to prove a hard year for the crews of 37 Squadron with the campaign in the Western Desert requiring air support. Long range missions of 10 hours duration were not uncommon, sometimes with two pilots sharing the workload. These often involved the aircraft flying to advanced landing grounds (ALG's) in order to stage their missions. Conditions were basic and very dusty and deployment to an ALG for more than a couple of days resulted in the crews looking distinctly scruffy.

William Hobden was part of an experienced 37 Sqn Wellington bomber crew piloted by Sgt A T H Gillanders and was to be heavily involved in operations at the start of 1941.

37 Sqn Wellington Bomber from

Missions against Hitler's ally Mussolini ensured that Italian targets and targets in North Africa were priority in January and February 1941. In particular, Benghazi, which was the centre for the German supply effort within the North African campaign until it was captured on February 6th, and Tobruk. In January 1941 the RAF bombed Naples and in February attacks on the Italian mainland continued.

Bari War Cemetery, by permission of Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

In January 1941 Italy invaded Greece and attacks against Italian targets in occupied Greece now also became part of the RAF's remit in the Mediterranean. On January 15th the squadron attacked Maritza airfield on the island of Rhodes. On the 18th and 20th Tobruk was bombed and on the 22nd Rhodes was attacked again. Bad weather gave a short respite but in February attacks resumed. However the harshness of operating from desert conditions meant that the serviceability of aircraft became a major issue as the abrasive sand played havoc with the engines. Crews were often briefed to fly to their targets over the sea, to avoid the dusty conditions over the land, turning in over the coast at the last possible moment to attack their targets. On February 2nd just one aircraft operated against Menidi aerodrome but had to jettison its bombs after experiencing engine trouble.

On February 10th the airfields at Maritza, Calato, Lindos and Kattava were attacked. On February 12th, Sgt Gillanders' crew left Shallufa for the last time. They were one of six crews who were briefed to fly operations from Greece, based at an airfield at Menidi. A maintenance party of engineers and armourers flew with them in two Bombay transport aircraft. The same night they attacked airfields at Durrazza and Tirana and on the 14th attacked Rhodes and Scarpanto harbours. The crew of P/O Wright being lost in Wellington T2821.

Despite the loss of one of the six aircraft dispatched to Menidi the night before, the remaining five aircraft were briefed to attack the airfield at Brindisi on the night of 15th/16th February 1941. Sgt ATH Gillanders' Wellington took off from Menidi with Sgt William Hobden and the rest of the crew; Sgt Green, Sgt A Flockhart and Sgt McMillan. No contact was made with the aircraft which failed to return, although it is believed to have reached its target where the attack was reported as being successful.

The four survivors from the deployment to Menidi (the crews of W/C Collard, F/L Baird-Smith, F/O Clark and P/O Thomas) returned to Shallufa on the 22nd and were rested from operations for the rest of the month.

Five months to the day after William was killed, his mother, Mary Hobden wrote to the headmaster of the Sutton County Secondary School. She had received a letter from a Wing Commander telling her that it was feared that William had been killed when his aircraft was lost. Mrs Hobden advised the headmaster that she intended to write to the Red Cross in an attempt to get any news from other crews who may have been captured. Sutton County School Roll of Honour 1939-45

The Suttonian, the magazine of the Sutton County School and the Old Suttonians' Association included Sergeant William Hoben in the Roll of Honour in Issue 114 in December 1941. The piece finishes as follows:
...To his widow and baby daughter, to his parents and his family, the Association extends its very sincere sympathy, assuring them that we are all very proud to have known him and to have been associated with one so brave and ready to give all for the sake of his country."

William Hobden is also listed on the school Roll of Honour which still hangs in the school hall as a reminder of the sacrifice made by ex pupils of the school. Sadly, the name above is that of William's Brother Kenneth Hobden who was killed in action just nine months later.

Grave Reference: Coll. grave XI. D. 19-21.


Source : Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Memories of Wartime Banstead District- Banstead History Research Group publication.
Personal account from Ted Bond, a cousin of the Hobdens.
The Suttonian magazine from Sutton Grammar School's archives.
Family history by Barbara Rough
RAF History Mark Stanley
37 Squadron background The BBC's Peoples War
37 Squadron Wellington Bomber picture from
Wise Without Eyes, Kevin Mears - Hooded Falcon Publishing 2005
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Last update 10 March 2008 - added information about the attack on the Tirpitz

HOBDEN, Kenneth

Kenneth Hobden

Telegraphist P/JX 166366

Royal Navy - HMS Barham

Died 25-November-1941 aged 18

Son of John and Mary Hobden (nee Lee), of Belmont, Surrey. Their marriage was registered in Croydon in the January Quarter of 1913.

Kenneth, who was William's younger brother,has his birth registered in the June Quarter of 1923 at Epsom. Portsmouth War Memorial, by permission of Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Kenneth Hobden followed in the footsteps of his older brother and attended Sutton County School between 1934 and 1939.

In September of 1939 he started his training as a telegraphist and eventually left England on HMS Queen Elizabeth. Later he joined the crew of HMS Barham. This ship was to be targeted by a German submarine and the report of the incident is recorded by The HMS Barham Association:

Battleship HMS Barham sunk on November 25 1941 with the loss of 841 men.

HMS Barham Explodes (25/11/41) Out of Sollum in position 32.34N 26.24E in the Mediterranean, Kptlt. Hans-Diedrich Freiherr von Tiesenhausen in U-331 (a Type VIIC) came within torpedo range of the 31,100 ton battleship HMS Barham which was on a sortie from Alexandria. Kptlt. Von Tiesenhausen fired a spread of 4 torpedoes towards the group, 3 of which hit HMS Barham's port side causing her to list heavily, and fire spread towards the ammunition stores. Only 2 and a half minutes passed from the torpedo impact until the ship rolled onto her side and the aft magazine exploded, killing over 800 men.

In a letter to Mrs Hobden, dated 27 February 1942 Kennth's old headmaster wrote: dear Mrs Hobden,

...I am terribly shocked to have this news.
I have heard bad news of this kind about Old Boys
of the School on so many occasions since the war
began but I feel particularly sad to hear of Kenneth....

The Suttonian, the magazine of the Sutton County School and the Old Suttonians' Association included Kenneth Hobden in the Roll of Honour in Issue 115 in July 1942. The piece finishes as follows:

We extend our deep sympathy to his parents and family in this, their second bereavement.

Kenneth Hobden is also listed on the school Roll of Honour which still hangs in the school hall as a reminder of the sacrifice made by ex pupils of the school. Sadly, the name below his, is that of his brother William Hobden who was killed in action nine months earlier. Kenneth and William had three other brothers, Jack, Norman and Alfred who all joined the army returned home safely.
Sutton County School Roll of Honour 1939-45 Kenneth Hobden. Photo courtesy of Sutton Grammer School.

Memorial Reference: Panel 52, Column 3.


Source : Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Memories of Wartime Banstead District- Banstead History Research Group publication.

Personal account from Ted Bond, a cousin of the Hobdens.
Family history by Barbara Rough
The Suttonian magazine from Sutton Grammar School's archives.
Related link : HMS Barham Association
Rick Davis WWll images pages
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Last update 10 March 2008 - added information about three more brothers.

Hobson B.A. See C A Hobson
P/O C A HobsonHOBSON, Colin Anthony

( Shown as B A Hobson on the Banstead War Memorial).

Pilot Officer 42566

Royal Air Force

Died 3-October-1940 aged 21

Son of George Colin and May Victoria Hobson nee Shuter, of Monxton, Hampshire.
Brother to Olive and Guy Hobson.

Tony Hobson, as he was always known, was educated at Eastbourne College, 1932-1935, and on leaving school worked in a City accountant's office and subsequently as a clerk in a City stockbrokers' office until 1939. He always enjoyed sports activities especially rugby, rowing and squash.

The family had lived at Laleham, Furze Hill, Kingswood, since 1925. However, the parents moved to Monxton near Andover, Hants, early in the war years. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial record for Tony, shows Monxton as the family address. 

The Hobsons had been Cutlers for several generations but neither Tony nor his brother entered the family business.

Whilst still at work, Tony joined the Territorial Army, enlisting as a Gunner in the Royal Horse Artillery, but was discharged in 1939 when he joined the RAF. On the 10th May 1939 an RAF Medical Board classified Tony as fit to become a pilot and he was posted to the Civilian Flying School at Redhill in June 1939 for his initial training.

In September that year he moved to No.14 Flying Training School at Kinloss, Scotland for training on more advanced aircraft, including the twin-engined Airspeed Oxford. By the 3rd November he had gained his 'wings'. His course, which he passed with a score of 72%, ended in January 1940 and his final report rated his flying ability 'average'. He had no outstanding faults and "he will make a good Officer with experience"

Tony was then posted to No. 12 Group Pool, at Aston Down, Glos to complete an Operational Training Course. This is where he would have undertaken conversion to the Bristol Blenheim - the aircraft he was to fly once qualified.

Following that course, he joined No. 600 "City of London" Squadron on May 3rd at Manston. A succession of movements followed before the Squadron arrived at Redhill on September 12th. By then it had become a night fighter unit and various very senior RAF officers visited, to stress the vitally important role that night fighters were expected to play in defending the country.

No.600 City of London Squadron of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force was one of the first to be equipped with an early version of Airborne radar which was not terribly efficient at that time.

In the early hours of 3rd October 1940, P/O Hobson and his two crew, Sergeant D A Hughes and AC2 C F Cooper, took off from Redhill on an operational patrol. He reported to base that one of his engines was running badly but that he intended to continue his patrol. At 0345hrs he reported that his engine was unserviceable and he was returning to base.

Weather was extremely bad and in heavy rain, his Blenheim 1F(BQ-M) L4905 crashed into trees on high ground (700ft) at Broadstone Warren, Forest Row at 3.55am. P/O C A Hobson and his crew were all killed, and their Blenheim aircraft was a write off. After the accident, the Commanding Officer issued an order that aircraft must not fly below 2000ft until in sight of the airfield.

Bristol Blenheim Mk 1F 600 Squadron -  picture from  Camouflage & Markings 2 - For the Battle of Britain (RAF)

This picture shows L8679 BQ-O of 600 Sqn at Redhill in 1940,
a sister aircraft of L4905 BQ-M, the Blenheim that Tony Hobson was lost in.

Colin Anthony Hobson,All Saints Church, Banstead.

Pilot Officer Colin Anthony Hobson is shown on the Battle of Britain Roll of Honour at the RAF Museum at Hendon and was one of ('The Few') 2353 young men from Great Britain and 574 from overseas, pilots and other aircrew, who are officially recognised as having taken part in the Battle of Britain. Each flew at least one authorised operational sortie with an eligible unit of the Royal Air Force or Fleet Air Arm during the period 10 July to 31 October 1940.

544 men including P/O C A Hobson lost their lives during the period of the Battle. A further 791 were killed in action or died in the course of their duties before the war ended.

Since Tony would have known the Banstead area well, for most of his short life, it seems entirely fitting that he should have been laid to rest in All Saints churchyard.

Grave/Memorial Reference: West of Church.


Source : Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Roll Of Honour information from : RAF Battle of Britain.
Crash details from 'The Battle of Britain Then & Now' - Edited by Winston G Ramsay
Various notes from the Banstead British Legion.
Photograph of Pilot Officer Hobson supplied by John Renyard.(John is the son of Olive, Tony's sister)
Family research by   Christine Kent
Personal details and service history supplied by Mike Osborn and his wife, Jennifer, who was Tony's cousin.
Photograph of 600 Sqn Blenheim from Camouflage & Markings 2 - For the Battle of Britain (RAF) - by Paul Lucas - Guideline Publications, Luton, Beds.
Wrote to Nat West Bank re the possibility of Mr Hobson Senior working at Banstead Branch - 15 March 2010
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Updated 4 Nov 2008 with family business details.


Louis Charles HoslinFlying Officer 120020

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Died 28-April-1943 aged 28

Louis Hoslin lived at Santa Maria, 322 Fir Tree Road, Epsom Downs.

He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles A. Hoslin.

Husband of Kay Hoslin, of Paddington, London.

The young Louis Hoslin entered a seminary to become a Catholic priest but left before being ordained, and subsequently joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves.  By April 1943 he was at an RAF base in Scotland.

The Royal Air Force began to use airfields in Dumfries & Galloway for flying training in the late 1930's. During the war several major airfields were home to squadrons tasked with the interception of German aircraft attacking Glasgow. Many anti-submarine and air-sea-rescue aircraft were based near the port of Stranraer and further north at the seaplane base in Loch Ryan.

Louis Hoslin family photo
Louis on the left with his sister and two brothers

Galloway, and especially Wigtownshire, was a hive of military activity. Airfields sprang up all over the region along with the usual support units such as Air-Sea Rescue, Gunnery and Bombing Ranges. The main areas of activity were the sea plane units on Loch Ryan and the Air Observer School at Baldoon, known officially as RAF Wigtown, which is where Louis Hoslin was based. Wigtown's role soon became that of a bombing and gunnery school when the war started. However the grass airfield was not fully utilised until 1941, when 1 Air Observation School took up residence.

During the war the number of flying training crashes involving Air-Crew was staggering and the activities at RAF Wigtown were to prove no different. At one stage, so many crews and aircraft were lost during one month that the authorities even considered closing down the station at Wigtown. On analysis it was discovered that the majority of crashes were caused by inexperienced Czechs & Poles. The solution was to insist on greater discipline and within a short period of time the number of crashes fell to an acceptable level.

Target tug restored in Canada
Westland Lysander in tug towing livery.
This particular plane was restored in Canada
By 1943, RAF Wigtown (Baldoon), now with concrete runways, was still home to a number of training units, but principally; Number 1 Air Observation School (AOS), which became Number 1 Advanced (Observer), Flying Units (OAFU) - Flights 1-3 and Bombing & Gunnery Schools 2 & 3.

Louis Hoslin was a staff pilot attached to  No.1 (Observers) Advanced Flying Unit.

One of his roles was to pilot a target tug, probably one of the least glamorous flying jobs in the RAF, but an invaluable job nonetheless. The tug aircraft towed a drogue which was  basically a long sleeve of bright canvas rather like a huge windsock. It was  tethered behind the tug  by approx 150 feet of cable, or longer if being shot at by fighter aircraft. The 'moving' target was then shot at by trainee gunners who could practise deflection shooting on the moving and aerial target.

The drogue was released by the operator and recovered by assessors, and it was quite usual for a first time gunner to shoot 200 bullets at the drouge and fail to hit it at all.  Needless to say, it was not uncommon for stray bullets to sometimes hit the tug, and it was frustrating and dreary work  to fly around the sky towing a long canvas drogue.

By their very nature the tug arircraft were second line types relegated from operational duties. The target towing colours were standardised during the war as large black and yellow diagonal stripes on the under surfaces and later for the whole aircraft.  On the 29 April 1943 Pilot Officer Hoslin was on a target towing exercise flying Westland Lysander III P9118.  The aircraft in its tug towing livery would have been similar to the restored plane in the photograph.

  At 4.30 pm Louis Hoslin descended to release the target drogue near Innerwell, seven miles south of the airfield. On opening the throttle to climb away the engine failed, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing in an unsuitable field.

Galloway House - photo adapted from one in the Gazeteer of Scotland
© The Editors of the Gazetteer for Scotland, 2009
Used with permission from the Gazetteer for Scotland,
The Lysander crashed and turned over injuring both the pilot and the target towing operator.  Louis was taken to Galloway House which was a war emergency hospital set up in the requisitioned home of the Earl of Galloway. Louis Hoslin died at 7 pm.  He was 28 years old.

Although he was a relatively experienced Lysander pilot (148 hours), it was thought that a weak mixture had been set, and that on opening the throttle suddenly, the engine choked and died. The Air Officer Commanding the Group felt that this conclusion was not fully supported by the evidence but aeronautical historian, Peter Connon, considers the original investigation conclusion entirely creditable. He reports that it was very cold that day, and the mixture lever was still set in the 'lean' position. He had experienced a similar situation himself but was lucky to get away with a forced landing.

Louis' wife Kay  was in the early stages of pregnancy when Louis died and the stress caused her to miscarry. She later married again and became Kay Coaten and later still, moved to Jersey. Louis Charles Hoslin headstone - Photograph by Lewis Wood

Epsom Cemetery Cross of Sacrifice. - Photo by Lewis WoodGrave Reference: Sec. H. Grave 560.

EPSOM CEMETERY, Surrey, England

Family Headstone

Source : Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Personal information from  Jerry Hoslin
Portrait photo of Louis Hoslin from Andrea Tait
Crash details from aeronautical historian Peter Connon.
GC Books (Wigtown) website
Action Stations 7 (airfields of Scotland) - David J Smith - 1983
Westland Lysander in Tug Towing livery - awaiting source
Surrey History Centre ref 6128/1/89
Photo of Galloway House adapted from a photo featured in the Gazeteer for Scotlandand used with permission from Bruce M Gittings, editor 23 March 2009.

This Banstead Urban District Council file holds documents relating to the upkeep of the Banstead War Memorial.
This file contains a letter dated 25th May 1951 from Mr Charles A. Hoslin to the Clerk of the Council. He requested the addition to the memorial of 'my son L C HOSLIN Flying officer RAFVR who lived in Banstead for twenty years at Santa Maria, 322 Fir Tree Road, Epsom Downs.' The name was duly added.

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Updated 03 Jan 2009 with new portrait photo, and more details about the crash and additional info about Lysander tug towing.