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F/O Dave Walters. My father.

Discussion in 'War44 General Forums' started by brianw, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. brianw

    brianw Member

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    The following three photographs show my father and his crew; all three were taken sometime in 1945, probably in June or July while he was posted to 51 Squadron at Leconfield.
    This period was immediately post war and much of the work then was bomb disposal and familiarisation ready for the squadron being re-mustered into Transport Command.
    The wartime crew of a Halifax was 7 but once hostilities had ended the air gunners were withdrawn leaving a crew of five. Looking closely at the first two pictures, the Halifax has already been modified for transport duties with the navigator/bomb aimer’s nose mounted weapon having been removed.
    Apparently it was the practice at the time (either squadron or just the crew’s) to include some or all of the ground crew in “family photos”.
    The pilot in the three pictures was Flt. Lt. Arthur St. John “Johnny” Price and in all the pictures he is in the middle or middle rear row.

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    Photograph 1. The crew and two of the ground crew. My father, F/O Dave Walters was the flight engineer, third from the right. The aircraft was a Halifax III.

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    Photograph 2. The aircrew are all in the back row, the rest are ground crew who just got dressed up in parachutes. The aircraft is also a Halifax III. My father is second from the left.

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    Photograph 3. The crew and others, this time in front of a Short Sterling MkV. My father this time is second from the right, and no, the young WAAF next to him was not my mother. This was probably taken just before the crew moved out to RAF Castel Benito, now Tripoli Airport in Libya where they were flying the trans North Africa/Middle East transport route (Castel Benito – Lydda – Shaibah – Mauripur and back).


    Working from his aircrew log book he started flying in Halifaxes in March 1944, training at 1652 HCU (Heavy Conversion Unit) before going operational with 76 Squadron where many of the sorties were in support of the advance on Caen during the Battle of Normandy and others were against the V1 launching sites in Northern France.
    After crash landing at Woodbridge emergency aerodrome after the raid on Russelsheim in August he returned to 1652 HCU awaiting re-assignment to a new crew and a new squadron.
    He flew operationally with 77 Squadron from the end of 1944 until the end of April 1945, just two weeks before the surrender of Germany and was then posted to 51 Squadron which was then transferred to RAF Transport Command.
    During March and April 1946 he retrained on the Avro York transport aircraft (a derivation of the Lancaster) and was then posted to 246 Squadron. Once again flying the North Africa route and on to Changi.
    He was demobbed at the end of 1946.
     
  2. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Thanks for sharing these images and story of your Father Brian .. It is good to see that others were included in the photos, one couldn't work without the other .. It also good to see the dog in the middle picture, was it the mascot ?
     
  3. brianw

    brianw Member

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    Following his demob my father’s involvement with all things aeronautical didn’t diminish one iota.

    Returning home to Boverton near Llantwit Major in South Wales he joined 38MU based at nearby RAF Llandow as a civilian flight engineer for a short while. At that time 38MU was an aircraft storage depot and also from 1950 a repair facility for de-Havilland Vampire single seater jet fighters. I vaguely remember him taking me to the aerodrome perimeter fence and showing me some of the Halifaxes and Lancasters which wound up there prior to disposal.

    In about 1952 we moved to North Cornelly, where I grew up after he found work at the then new Steel Company of Wales Abbey Works in Margam, Port Talbot as a maintenance fitter, and so I’ve been told he hated every minute of it.

    While we were living in Llantwit Major he volunteered for service at the local Royal Observer Corps (hole in the ground) post and when he started work at Port Talbot he transferred to the Briton Ferry ROC post as a Leading Observer where they practiced for “Nuclear Armageddon” tracking pretend fall-out clouds. I do remember playing with a wooden box with a celluloid film in it that drove a little pointer up and down a scale marked in Roentgens. He did qualify for the "Observer Corps" medal. The Briton Ferry ROC post was closed in 1968.

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    He was a man not given to outward shows of emotions, like so many who had been through the horrors of war but I think he was pleased when I joined the local Air Training Corps squadron and no doubt chuffed to bits, though he never said so when I was commissioned.
    The last time he saw me I was in the uniform of an RAFVR(T) Pilot Officer. Sadly he passed away suddenly while I was out at the local squadron that evening. It's one of my enduring regrets that I never had the opportunity to have that "What did you do in the war Daddy?" conversations.

    Oh, I have no idea whose dog it was or whether it was a crew mascot.
     
  4. brianw

    brianw Member

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    I carried on with my research into my father's RAF service, including obtaining his service records from the archive at RAF Cranwell, some records from the National Archive at Kew, the London Gazette and from some of his letters which survive and were in the possession of my brother.
    From all this and much internet research I have been able to put a reasonable story together.
    In September 2016 I was honoured to meet one veteran who actually flew with my father from RAF Full Sutton in east Yorkshire when I attended the 77 Squadron Association annual reunion at the Yorkshire Air Museum, Elvington.
    Unfortunately, the file is too large to upload to this website, but if anybody is interested, then please feel free to contact me and I'll forward a copy.
     

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