Wednesday, November 24, 2010

G/Cpt Thomas P.Gleave 1908-1993

Born on September 6 1908, Gleave was educated at Westminster High School and Liverpool Collegiate School and joined Sefton Tanning Co in 1924. He first flew with the Liverpool and Merseyside Flying Club at Hooton in 1927, as a Founder-Member, and began instruction in early 1929, gaining his ‘A’ Licence on 6 July.Later in the year Gleave went to Canada and worked for a tanning company in Acton, Ontario. He flew at the Toronto Flying Club.

He returned to the UK in 1930 and joined the RAF in September.Gleave was posted to 5 FTS, Sealand on September 27 and after training joined No.1 Squadron at Tangmere on September 8 1931. In an attempt to be the first man to fly to Ceylon, Gleave left Lympne on October 11 1933 in a Spartan, G-AAMH. Four days later he was forced down in a down-draught in the mountains east of Kutahya, in Anatolia, Turkey. He forced-landed in a tree on the side of a ravine, not far from Sarbona Pinar and had to abandon his attempt.From February 1934 Cleave was at CFS, Upavon on an instructor's course. He was posted to the staff of 5 FTS, Sealand on May 13 and went on loan to the Oxford University Air Squadron for a short period soon afterwards.

On December 17 1936 Gleave was appointed as the Flying Instructor to 502 (Ulster) Special Reserve Squadron at Aldergrove. He converted the squadron to Auxiliary status and was re-posted as Adjutant and CFI. On January 1 1939 Gleave joined Air Staff, Bomber Command and carried out liaison duties in the Fighter Command Operations Room at Stanmore. On September 3 he was posted for full-time service there as Bomber Liaison Officer.On June 2 1940 Gleave was given command of 253 Squadron at Kirton-in-Lindsey. He was posted away on August 9 but allowed to stay with the squadron until called upon by AOC 14 Group. On August 30 Gleave claimed five Bf 109s destroyed but was credited with one destroyed and four probables. The following morning Squadron Leader HM Starr, CO of 253, was shot down and killed. Command of 253 reverted to Gleave once more but he himself was shot down at about 1.00 pm, during a massive air attack on Biggin Hill by a German bomber force. He baled out, grievously burned, and was admitted to Orpington Hospital.Gleave later went to Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, where he underwent plastic surgery by Archie (later Sir Archibald) Mclndoe and his brilliant colleague Percy Jayes.
On July 20 1941 the Guinea Pig Club was formed at the Queen Victoria Hospital, with Mclndoe as President and Gleave as Vice-President and a Founder-Member.In August 1941 he was given a temporary non-operational flying category and on the 19th began flying once more, with a grafted face and limbs, less than twelve months after being burned. He became operational again in October. Gleave took command of RAF Mansion on October 5 and was there when the 'Scharnhorst' and 'Gneisenau' made their 'Channel Dash' on February 12 1942. Aircraft took off from Manston to attack the battleships. After the action Gleave recommended Esmonde for a posthumous VC and other awards for the five survivors of the Swordfish attack. All were granted.Gleave went to RAF Staff College on April 13 1942 and returned to Manston on July 10, in time for the Dieppe operation, for which Manston was a main refuelling and re-arming base. On September 9 Gleave was promoted to Group Captain and posted to the Special Planning Staff at Norfolk House, St James Square, London.
He was made Group Captain Air Plans for the Allied Expeditionary' Air Force under Leigh-Mallory in November 1943. With Colonel Phillips Melville of the USAAF as co-operator he wrote the Overall Overlord Air Plan. For his outstanding work Gleave was made a CBE and awarded the US Legion of Merit, later changed to the Bronze Star because of protocol difficulties. In the wake of the invasion Gleave moved across to France.On October 1 1944 Gleave was made Head of Air Plans under Eisenhower at Supreme HQ Allied Expeditionary Force. He returned to East Grinstead in mid-July 1945 for further plastic surgery and in September became SASO to the RAF Delegation to France.Gleave returned to the UK in early November 1947 and went to Reserve Command, later Home Command, where he held various staff appointments. In February 1952 he joined the directing staff at RAF Staff.

W/Cdr Robert F.T Doe, DSO, DFC* 1920-2010

One of the Battle of Britain’s top scoring pilots, Bob Doe became an ace (five kills) in his first week of air fighting, which coincided with the Luftwaffe onslaught of mid-August, 1940, Goering’s vaunted Adlerangriff (Eagle attack) that was to have swept the RAF from the skies. Doe was one of the few RAF pilots to score combat victories in both the Spitfire and Hurricane during the Battle, switching to the latter — slower and less manoeuvrable — fighter with 238 Squadron, when his original squadron, No 234, had lost most of its pilots and was posted to Cornwall for a rest.
Strangely, perhaps, Doe regarded himself as a timorous individual with no gifts as a pilot. His superiors disagreed and his record, 15 combat victories (14 kills and two shared) speaks for itself. Reticent he might have been on the ground, but once in the air Doe was imbued with that desire to be at grips with the enemy that is the hallmark of the finest fighting troops.
Having survived the Battle of Britain and serious injuries in a crash in 1941, he was posted to the Far East, leading ground attack operations in support of Slim’s 14th Army in difficult conditions over the jungles of Burma. His skill and leadership earned him a DSO to add to the two DFCs he had won in 1940.
Robert Francis Thomas Doe was born in Reigate, Surrey, in 1920. At 15 he left school to work as a messenger boy at the News of the World. He joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve in March 1938 and in January 1939 was accepted for a short service commission. On his own admission he was rated merely “average” and only just won his wings. All this was to change in the heat of battle.
Posted to 234 (Spitfire) Squadron he was pitchforked into action on August 15, 1940, and maintained an extraordinary tempo of combat over the next two months. On that day his first victory was a shared one, over a Messerschmitt 110 twin-engined fighter off the Dorset coast, and soon after he shot down a second. The fighting over the following weeks was unrelenting. On August 16 he shot down a Messerschmitt 109 and a Dornier Do18 flying boat. Two days later he downed a second Me109 and damaged another. A shared Ju88, on August 21, made him an ace in just six days of fighting.
The attack on 11 Group’s airfields in the last week of August took the battle into a crucial phase for the RAF as packed bomber formations and fighter escorts repeatedly fought through the air defences. Doe’s next six victims were Me109s — on September 4 he shot down three in a single sortie. But the attrition was frightful. In a few days No 234 had all but ceased to exist. On September 7 Doe flew his last sortie with it, shooting down an He111 over London. After that, with only three of its pilots remaining the squadron was sent to Cornwall to rest and rebuild.
Doe’s respite was brief. Posted as a flight commander to 238 (Hurricane) squadron, he was back in action by the end of the month, and had three more combat victories by the time the battle began to die down in October.
On October 10 he was shot down in the Luftwaffe’s last big daytime sortie and baled out of his Hurricane with severe wounds to his leg and shoulder. He was awarded the DFC on October 23, and a Bar on November 26. He rejoined his squadron in December, but on January 3, 1941, his aircraft suffered engine failure during an attempted night interception. He managed a forced landing, but his harness broke with the impact and his head was smashed against his gun sight. He suffered severe facial injuries and broke his arm.
Lengthy surgery involving 22 operations was done by the brilliant New Zealand-born plastic surgeon Sir Harold Gillies. Astonishingly, Doe resumed flying in May 1941, and joined 66 Squadron as a flight commander. After front- line and training appointments, in August 1943 he was posted to India and tasked with forming and training 10 Squadron, Indian Air Force. With their “Hurribombers” — Hurricanes armed with four 20mm cannon and carrying two 500lb bombs — No10 supported the 14th Army campaign that drove the Japanese out of India and pursued it south through Burma. Air power was decisive in the fighting, and 10 Squadron’s precision air strikes played an important role. The citation for Doe’s DSO, gazetted in October 1945, commended his “unconquerable spirit”.
At the end of the war Doe gained a permanent commission and after a period training the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, was in 1950 given command of 32 (Vampire) Squadron in Egypt after a few hours in the cockpit to familiarise himself with jets. In his two years in command he raised it to a level of efficiency envied by other units in the theatre.
Subsequent appointments included the Fighter Gunnery Wing at Leconfield, the Joint Planning Staff and Senior Personnel Staff Officer at Flying Training Command after which he opted for retirement in 1966. Settling in Kent, he set up a garage and car hire company.

G/Cpt Frank Carey CBE, DFC**, AFC, DFM 1912-2004

Frank Carey was an exceptional fighter pilot, credited with 25 kills, including 14 German aircraft in four days over the Pas de Calais in May 1940. His tally against the Japanese, where he was often outnumbered five to one, is recorded as seven, but with the Allied armies in retreat and records lost, many who fought alongside him felt he had destroyed considerably more, taking his final score to over 30.

Carey was born in Brixton, south London, in 1912 and educated at Belvedere School in Haywards Heath in Sussex. At the age of 15 he joined the RAF as a Halton apprentice and qualified as a metal rigger in 1930. Three years later he became a fitter and in 1935 undertook training as a pilot and joined 43 Squadron at Tangmere as a sergeant pilot. He was commissioned in 1940 and went straight to France with 3 Squadron as the Blitzkrieg swept across northern Europe. On 10 May he went into action. He was to recall the next four days:

The Hun aircraft were all over the place - you just took off and there they were. There were lashings of them, absolutely asking for it. They had very few fighters about at that time. Over those four days I must have had 20 engagements. I shot down about 14 aircraft. I didn't get out of my clothes because we had nowhere to sleep except the floor.

Later that month, in his eagerness to see a Dornier 17 end its days, he was hit by its rear gunner and his leg was badly injured. He somehow managed to land his Hurricane and was carried off in a 1914 Crossley ambulance to hospital at Dieppe, where he played rummy with the Duke of Norfolk, who apologised to him for being there with nothing more than gout.

With the enemy fast advancing, Carey and the Duke were put on a hospital train, which was bombed. The two of them did what they could do for the wounded and then, with others, pushed the burning part of the train a mile along the track. Carey recovered from his wounds in a plush hotel near Nantes and in June got a message that a Bristol Bombay transport plane had been abandoned on a local airfield. With half a dozen others they flew it back to Hendon with Carey acting as the rear gunner. In his absence in France his family had been informed that he had been listed "missing believed killed".

He arrived back for the Battle of Britain. During this period he flew 100 sorties, sometimes six a day lasting up to an hour and a half each. He recalled the ludicrous situation of taking on several squadrons of German fighters and bombers stretching from the Isle of Wight to Cherbourg. On one attack he set his sights on a Ju88:

I got behind it, pressed the button, and to my utter amazement bits flew off and the damage was astonishing. Then I saw fire over my head from an Me109 that was trying to hit me but was shooting high, so we were both knocking the hell out of this old Ju88! Really I shouldn't claim that one, I should have given it to the 109.

On another occasion his squadron attacked a flight of Heinkel IIIs over the North Sea. After hitting one, Carey could see the Heinkel crew fighting a fire in the fuselage and indicated to them that he would not continue the attack, but he would escort them back to Wick.

Being only a few feet away it became all too easy to become sympathetically associated with the crew's frantic efforts to control the fire. I was suddenly converted from an anxious desire to destroy them, to an even greater anxiety that they survived.

He was hoping that they would make it when a Hurricane from another squadron swept in and without a thought for the situation poured a long burst into the Heinkel. Carey was outraged. "I felt a sense of personal loss as I stared at the wreckage in the water."

Heavy fighting in mid-August brought Carey four confirmed and four probable victories in a period of six days, but on the 18th, he was hit himself and "stitched right across the cockpit". He called Tangmere, who told him they were being bombed and that he should try elsewhere. He spotted a field in Pulborough. "I got cocky and stupidly put the wheels down and just as I settled the plane down I said to myself, 'God, Carey, you're a wonderful pilot!' " With that he hit a trench that had been covered with grass by the local home defence and flipped over. He came to looking up into the blue skies and found two women slitting his trousers looking for bullet holes. He returned to his squadron a month later.

In his determination and hunger for action, he proved to be one of Britain's most courageous and brilliant pilots. He was able to pass on his skills to younger pilots when he was posted to No 52 Operational Training Unit as an instructor. In August 1941 Carey was given command of 135 Squadron, which, in November, sailed for the Middle East, but was diverted to the Far East after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.

At Rangoon, 135 Squadron was soon in action against Japanese raiders over the city. As at Dunkirk two years earlier, the British forces were in retreat and up against vastly superior numbers. Flying from improvised airfields often cut out that day, the pilots had to contend with highly manoeuvrable Japanese aircraft.

In February 1942 Carey was appointed Wing Commander Flying of 267 Wing. His approach to his air crew in the extremely difficult months that followed galvanised them to strike hard against the ever advancing Japanese. He led devastating raids protecting the retreating Allied army beneath him.

In October, with the advances being made against the Japanese down the Arakan border, Carey was refuelling at Chittagong. As he sat in his cockpit he was attacked by 27 aircraft. He recalled:

I immediately started my engine, yelled to the ground crew to get under cover. Long before I was airborne the bullets were flying and kicking up dust around me. I got up in the air and immediately began to jink and skid to make myself an awkward target. Luck was with me and I led the Japs on my tail up the river at absolutely nought feet between the river beds.

Out of ammunition he headed for a hill and at the last moment pulled back the throttle. He was delighted to see the Japanese leader plough straight into the hill. His only comment on his return was, "I really lost a lot of weight in that sortie."

In November 1944 he took over command of 73 OTU at Fayid, Egypt. At the end of the war he was given a permanent commission and taught tactics at Central Fighter Establishment. A succession of staff appointments followed until 1958 when he became Air Adviser to the British High Commission in Australia. He retired from the RAF, after 35 years, in 1962, and joined Rolls-Royce as their aero division representative in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. His final years were spent in Bognor Regis.