Not a '13', but....

Discussion in 'Questions on Kits, Decals, Tools and Pilots' started by Lucky13, Oct 19, 2013.

  1. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Bruce Ek, at center of the standing row, with other officers of VMSB-241 on Midway.

    Service Number: O-007534
    Birth and Early Life:
    Bruce Ek was born around the year 1919; he was the youngest son of Swedish immigrants Fritz and Nellie Ek. The older Eks were mechanically minded – Fritz was a machinist and oldest son Fritz Junior worked for a garage – which may have influenced Bruce’s decision to join the most technical branch of the Marine Corps.

    Enlistment and Boot Camp:
    Bruce enlisted in 1941 and, after completing boot camp, aptitude tests, elimination training and months of flight school, was awarded a second lieutenant’s commission and his wings as a Marine dive bomber pilot.

    Wartime Service:
    Lieutenant Ek was assigned to the headquarters squadron of Marine Air Group 21 – formerly the Second Marine Aircraft Wing, based at Ewa Field, Hawaii. On March 24, 1942, Ek – along with a handful of other new lieutenants, including John Butler, Ellwood Lindsay, and Albert Tweedy – boarded the USS Curtiss and sailed for Midway.

    Ek flew a Vought SB2U Vindicator with VMSB-241 out of Midway; his gunner was PFC Raymond Brown. On May 26, the squadron received a few Douglas Dauntless SBD-2 dive bombers and the commanding officer, Major Lofton Henderson, divided his pilots into two groups. Ek and Brown were in the group that received the new aircraft, and flew in the second division of Henderson’s group on the wing of Lieutenant Richard Blain.

    Date Of Loss:
    Ek had only a few days to learn the controls of his new Dauntless, #2184. On the morning of June 4, 1942, he and PFC Brown took off from Midway and, as Japanese planes turned the base to rubble behind them, flew off to try and find the carrier strike force that was approaching their territory.

    After nearly ninety minutes in the air, the Americans spotted the carriers – and were in turn spotted by patrolling planes from the carrier Hiryu. The slow dive bombers, unable to dive properly due to the pilots inexperience, were easy targets. Soon, seven of the bombers were falling in flames – one of them carried Ek and Brown to their deaths.

    Bruce Ek’s remains were never found. He was awarded a posthumous Navy Cross for his actions in the battle:

    The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Bruce H. Ek (0-7534), Second Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession while serving as a Pilot in Marine Scout-Bombing Squadron TWO HUNDRED FORTY-ONE (VMSB-241), Marine Air Group TWENTY-TWO (MAG-22), Naval Air Station, Midway, during operations of the U.S. Naval and Marine Forces against the invading Japanese Fleet during the Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942. During the initial attack upon an enemy aircraft carrier, Second Lieutenant Ek, in the face of withering fire from Japanese fighter guns and anti-aircraft batteries, dived his plane to a perilously low altitude before releasing his bomb. Since he failed to return to his base and is missing in action, there can be no doubt, under conditions attendant to the Battle of Midway, that he gave up his life in the defense of his country. His cool courage and conscientious devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

    Next Of Kin:
    Mother, Mrs. Nellie Ek

    Status Of Remains:
    Lost at sea.

    Memorial:
    Tablets of the Missing, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
     
  2. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Pilot Officer Ralph Häggberg at RAF Matlaske sometime between 1-10 February 1942.
    Image kindly provided by Rob Bowater


    Ralph Häggberg was born on 14 March 1922 in Stockholm.

    His father worked for Gestetners and Häggberg was sent to school in England in 1935.

    When the Second World War started he was in Sweden on school leave but decided to return to England in October 1939.

    He joined the RAF in December 1940 and was posted to 263 Squadron (Westland Whirlwinds) on 15 September 1941 as a Sergeant Pilot.

    The 137 Squadron was officially reformed on 12 September on Charmy Down and was to be equipped with Westland Whirlwinds. Squadron Leader John Sample reported to duty as C.O. on 20 September.
    Two days later three pilots (Flight Lieutenant Joseph S. Hughes, Flying Officer C. A. G. Clark and Sergeant Douglas St.J. Jowitt) from 263 Squadron was transferred to the new unit to provided experience.

    On 1 October ten more pilots from 263 Squadron (Pilot Officer Michael Bryan, Pilot Officer J. C. Lawton, Pilot Officer George William Martin, Sergeant Häggberg, Sergeant J. F. Luing, Sergeant J. Maddocks, Sergeant Michael Peskett, Sergeant H. L. O’Neill, Sergeant Basil Lionel Robertson and Sergeant John Anthony William Sandy) reported for duty. At the same time four more pilots (Flying Officer A. Torrance, Pilot Officer J. L. DeHoux, Flight Sergeant C. E. Mercer and Sergeant J. R. Rebbetoy) arrived from No. 56 OTU.

    On 24 October 137 Squadron flew its first operation, a ‘Mandolin’. The target, several trains carrying fuel containers in railway sidings at Landernau, near Brest, were not found, but Squadron Leader John Sample (Whirlwind P7053) attacked several wagons and Flying Officer Clark (Whirlwind P7050) destroyed a locomotive.

    On 28 October the C.O. Squadron Leader John Sample was killed in a training sortie. Squadron Leader Humphrey St. John Coghlan DFC from 263 Squadron replaced him on 2 November.

    Häggberg flew his first operational sortie on 15 November together with Pilot Officer Bryan, Sergeant Luing, Sergeant Maddocks and Sergeant Sandy.

    On 21 November Pilot Officer Lawton (Whirlwind P7035) and Sergeant Häggberg (P7036) flew an uneventful sweep out over the North Sea.

    On 24 November Squadron Leader Coghlan (Whirlwind P7096), Pilot Officer Lawton (P7105?), Pilot Officer Martin (P7105?), Flight Sergeant Robertson (P7007), Sergeant Häggberg (P7050) and Sergeant McClure (P7106) unsuccessfully searched for several E-Boats, which had attacked a convoy.

    Uneventful patrols were flown on 25 November by Pilot Officer Bryan (Whirlwind P7107), Flight Sergeant Robertson (P7105), Sergeant Häggberg (P7092) and Sergeant McClure (P7062).

    Totally during November Häggberg flew two convoy patrols of 3.25 hours and one Yarmouth patrol of 1.35 hours.

    On 1 December the squadron moved to RAF Matlaske.

    Flight Lieutenant Hughes (Whirlwind P7096), Pilot Officer Martin (P7107), Sergeant Häggberg (P7037) and Sergeant Maddocks (P7092) flew an uneventful shipping reconnaissance on 9 December.

    On 29 December Pilot Officer Martin (Whirlwind P7092), Flight Sergeant Robertson (P7107), Sergeant Brennan (P7035), Sergeant Häggberg (P7105) and Sergeant McClure (P7050) were put on patrol over Yarmouth at 20,000 feet, but they saw nothing.

    Totally during December Häggberg flew one convoy patrol of 1.40 hours and six Yarmouth patrols of 8.30 hours and two scrambles of 2.10 hours.

    On 25 January 1942 he was commissioned and promoted to Pilot Officer.

    Totally during January Häggberg flew one convoy patrol of 1.35 hours and one Yarmouth patrol of 1.20 hours and four scrambles of 2.30 hours.

    On 12 February Warrant Officer Robertson (Whirlwind P7107) with Flight Sergeant Mercer (P7055), Red Section, and Pilot Officer Häggberg (P7093) with Pilot Officer DeHoux (P7012), Blue Section were recalled from a training flight and briefed to escort the 16th and 21st Destroyer Flotilla. They took off at 13:10.
    Unfortunately they were unaware of the Channel Dash by the German battle cruisers "Scharnhorst", "Gneisenau" and "Prinz Eugen", which took place during the day. While looking for their destroyers they saw several ships through a hole in the clouds twenty miles off the Belgian Coast and dived down to investigate. Around 20 Bf109s immediately bounced them. Flight Sergeant Mercer got a Bf109 in his sights, but his cannon would not fire, Pilot Officer DeHoux fired all of his ammunition ’without apparent result’ whilst Häggberg and Warrant Officer Basil Lionel Robertson (RAF No. 748333) failed to return.
    Totally 137 Squadron lost four Whirlwinds to German Bf109s during the day (the other two were Pilot Officer Martin (7106) and Pilot Officer Sandy (P7050) who were lost after attacking "Gneisenau" and being shot down by Bf109s). Known German claims against Whirlwinds during this day is Oberleutnant Egon Mayer of 7./JG 2 (totally 102 victories), who claimed a Whirlwind north of Ostende at 13:38 (14:38 German time), Feldwebel Hans Stolz of 9./JG 2, who claimed a Whirlwind at 14:12 (15:12 German time) and Unteroffizier Willi Reuschling of 7./JG 2, who claimed one north of Ostende on 14:24 (15:24 German time).
    German records also states that German fighters and five Whirlwinds clashed during an attack on "Gneisenau" at 13:55.
    At 14:20 two Whirlwinds attacked "Gneisenau" from the port side and one of them was shot down by German fighters.
    At 14:24 one Whirlwind was shot down over "Scharnhorst" by German fighters. Other Whirlwinds became involved in combat with other German fighters. One Whirlwind was seen leaving with heavy smoke coming from one of the engines. There was also heavy combat over "Gneisenau" at the same time.
    It is possible that Mayer shot down Häggberg.
    Häggbergs body was never found and he is commemorated on Panel 69 of the Air Force Memorial, Runnymede.

    Totally during February Häggberg flew two convoy patrols of 2.35 hours and four Yarmouth patrols of 4.05 hours and four scrambles of 4.35 hours.
    At the time of his death he had flown 37 sorties.
     
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