Al Deere's Spitfire-54 Sqn RAF BoB

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Alte Hase, Dec 26, 2013.

  1. Alte Hase

    Alte Hase Member

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    Hi guys.

    I think I may have found a discrepancy in a decal sheet I bought- the "Southern Expo Hornchurch vs the Luftwaffe" sheet.

    In it, it says that the aircraft that "Al" Deere had his famous incident (being bombed and flipping the Spitfire onto its back on his takeoff roll) on 31 August 1940 was KL B Serial X4236...but on a number of other sources I have seen that P/O E Edsall was flying this machine on that day and Deere was in R6895 (unknown code????)...

    Is there any clarity on this? And does anyone know what code R6895 carried?

    Also, can anyone clarify if P9389 KL A flown by Sqn Ldr Leatheart indeed did crash on 24 August 1940?

    Are there ANY photos of 54 Squadron for the BoB period? I've searched and I have the ORB but sadly, while it is written in beautiful 1940s conversational style, it has almost zero detail!
     
  2. fubar57

    fubar57 Well-Known Member

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    P9389 Ia 572 EA MIII FF 5-3-40 9MU 9-3-40 54S 19-4-40 shot down by Bf109 crashed Kingsdown nr Dover by Bf109 P/O Stewart abandoned aircraft safe 24-8-40 SOC 6-9-40

    I'll look for the other things.

    Geo
     
  3. Alte Hase

    Alte Hase Member

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    Thank you very very much-it's much appreciated!
     
  4. fubar57

    fubar57 Well-Known Member

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    Profile is from the book "Battle of Britain" - Aircam Aviation Series

    Capture.JPG
    P9398 Ia 580 EA MIII FF 13-3-40 6MU 20-3-40 64S 18-5-40 74S 26-5-40 54S air collision with Bf109 F/Lt Deere force-landed Manston 9-7-40 shot down by Bf109 into Folkestone Harbour Sgt Eley killed 31-7-40 FH72.20

    Geo
     
  5. Alte Hase

    Alte Hase Member

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    Thanks! Do you know if there is any list in existence of the codes assigned to 54 Sqn's individual aircraft during August 1940?
     
  6. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #6 nuuumannn, Dec 26, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2013
    Part of the Problem is that there were a number of different aircraft that wore the 'B' code in 54 Sqn at that time and Deere flew most of them, including N3183, which also had his 'KIWI' art work on it. Deere shot down two aircraft in this Spitfire. It was lost over the Channel on 9 July 1940; its pilot Plt Off A. Evershed was killed.

    Colin Gray, another New Zealander, also flew with 54 Sqn during Dunkirk operations at the same time as Deere; he often flew N3173 coded 'KL-N'. It was shot down on 20 September and its pilot Sgt K.C. Holland was killed.

    'Prof' Leathart flew P9389/'KL-A' and claimed an He 111 in it on 21 May, but it was unconfirmed. The Spitfire was also shot down on 24 August; its pilot, yet another New Zealander Plt Off C. Stewart bailed out and survived.

    There's a couple for starters. Probably the only place you might find such a thing would be 54 Sqn's Operations Record Book, unless someones done the hard yards already.
     
  7. Alte Hase

    Alte Hase Member

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    Thank you for that info Nuuumannn. I have the ORB for 54 sqn for August 1940 (that's the period I'm interested in fir this squadron) and it is written in a very conversational 'story-like" style...zero information on serials or anything like that. It does however make for some good reading!
     
  8. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    I've found that very few squadron ORBs mention code letters or serial numbers, with the odd exception of something like "P.O. Smith lost in 'R' today".
    Also, most aircrew log books will show either the serial number (often just the last three numbers), or the individual code letter, rarely, if ever, both together.
    It's understandable I suppose, as the minute details, at the time, are not important in the overall picture, and time often doesn't allow complete entries in either personal log books, or the ORB.
    Looking back through my Para log book, I wish, now, that I'd had the time, or forethought, to enter the serial numbers of the aircraft I jumped from, rather than just Argosy, Andover or Hercules, and can quite understand the lack of such detail in war time records.
     
  9. Alte Hase

    Alte Hase Member

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    You're right, ORBs, particularly during pressing times like the battle of Britain, seldom recorded the aircraft codes. I've found that serials are more commonly recorded, but even then that is not a constant.
     
  10. Aozora

    Aozora Well-Known Member

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    #10 Aozora, Dec 27, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2013
    According to production page 014

    X4236 Ia 1035 EA MIII FF 16-8-40 8MU 18-8-40 54S 25-8-40 damaged by bombs on takeoff Hornchurch C3 31-8-40 SOC 10-9-40 to 2358M

    Coincidentally, the Spitfire built immediately before X4236 is also listed as being a 54 Sqn aircraft which was also damaged on take-off 31-8-40...

    X4235 Ia 1032 EA MIII FF 15-8-40 8MU 16-8-40 54S 25-8-40 damaged takeoff 31-8-40 C3 ops 11-9-40 SOC 19-9-40 cancel 19-9-40 111S 3-5-41 58OTU 29-5-41 RNAS Arbroath 4-9-42 761S Henstridge 10-42 to 11-42 Yeovilton store taxied into Proctor BV641 standing on peritrack Worthy Down Cat X1 3-2-44 (S/L R Phillips) To 45MU 3-10-44 SOC 30-12-44

    According to Brendon Deere, who is Al Deere's nephew (and responsible for the fantastic restoration of Supermarine Spitfire PV270, Ohakea, New Zealand ) Al Deere's log books were lent post-war to someone who was going to write a book, but they were never returned.

    Just googling and found a similar question on "Wonky" Way's Spitfire I: 54 squadron Spitfire individual ID letter

    PS: I also have the "Hornchurch vs Luftwaffe" decal sheet. One of the references listed is a set of Al Deere's hand written notes which, at the time the decal sheet was being researched, had only just been found; I would suggest that these may well be the only accurate references to the serial No.s of Al Deere's Battle of France and B of B Spitfires.
     
  11. Alte Hase

    Alte Hase Member

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    Thank you Aozora, I was quite confused as to why the Hornchurch vs Luftwaffe sheet says Deere was in X4236 on 31/8/40 when so many other sources say Edsall was in that machine and Deere was in R6895? Would you say that the info on the sheet is correct? I have no preconceived ideas on the topic so am very open to all input.
     
  12. Aozora

    Aozora Well-Known Member

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    I'm looking at The Battle of Britain Then and Now Vol 5, which is one of the sources stating that Deere was in R6895 and Edsall was in X4236 coded KL-L.

    Now, here's an interesting thing: take a look at Old RAF Records, 54 Squadron but don't look at the ORBs; instead, look at the "Detail of Work Carried Out" lists; eg 54 Sqn 28/8/40 - 31/8/40: Edsall was flying in N3110 from 28/8 to 29/8, then started flying X4236 (also note Sgt Davis flew X4235):
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    So Al Deere's regular aircraft, after 28/8, was R6895. Frustratingly the WCO list for 31/8 is incomplete:

    [​IMG]

    At the very least, it is far more likely that R6895, rather than X4236, had the KIWI insignia stenciled under the windscreen because it was the only Spitfire used by Deere; the only way X4236 could have received that distinction was if the squadron allocated the aircraft to Deere and the code letter was changed to B overnight, between 30/8 and 31/8...
     
  13. Alte Hase

    Alte Hase Member

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    #13 Alte Hase, Jan 1, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
    Thank you so very much for this fascinating help! If I may ask, how can one get hold of those ORB documents that you posted? I searched the UK National Archives and they only had the 'Form 540(?)' for 54 Sqn, which was just a very rudimentary verbal summary of events...this is WAY more detailed!

    Also, is there any evidence anywhere that R6895 was coded KL B?
     
  14. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    The site is linked in one of the other links posted by Aozora, one that I've now bookmarked: Old RAF Records | Home

    As he pointed out, the record for Aug 31 included there makes no mention of the subject incident.
     
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