Sunday, October 14, 2012

AVM Henry Algernon Vickers Hogan DSO AFC 1909-2003

Son of a colonel in the Indian Army, Henry Algernon Vickers Hogan was born on Oct 25 1909 and educated at Malvern and the RAF College Cranwell. Commissioned in 1930 he joined 54 Squadron at Hornchurch where he flew Siskins and Bulldogs, in 1932 he joined 404 Fleet Fighter Flight and served in the aircraft carrier ‘Courageous’. The next year he moved to 800 Squadron. After qualifying at the Central Flying School he was posted as an instructor to No 1 Flying Training School, Leuchars.
In 1938 the RAF launched an attempt on the Soviet Union's non-stop long-distance record of 6,306 miles, and Hogan joined 1 Group's Long Range Development Unit. Three Vickers Wellesleys took off from Ismalia on November 5th 1938. Led by Squadron Leader Richard Kellett, the pilots made the challenge even more daunting by deciding to fly in formation. Bad weather over the Bay of Bengal and the South China Sea obliged Hogan to land at Kupang in Timor and refuel but the Wellesleys still handsomely beat the Russian record, covering the 7,157 miles to Darwin in 48 hours.

In 1939 Hogan was at the Air Ministry. He was then posted to No 15 Flying Training School as chief flying instructor and moved to 60 Operational Training Unit shortly before receiving command of 501 squadron.On June 21 Hogan was posted to Croydon to command 501 (City of Gloucester) Squadron, an Auxiliary Air Force unit. On July 10, the first day of the Battle of Britain, the Squadron was stationed at Middle Wallop. As the sun rose on the second day of the battle, 501 scrambled to engage 10 Ju87 Stuka dive-bombers and 20 Me109 fighters heading in from the Cherbourg area. In the engagement Hogan lost a Hurricane and was obliged to come to terms with both the numerical odds against 11 Group and the Hurricane's inferiority to the 109.

On August 15, at the height of the Luftwaffe's much trumpeted "Eagle Offensive", Hogan led 501 (by now based at Gravesend) in an attempt to save coastal fighter fields at Lympne and Hawkinge from destruction. Heavily outnumbered, 501 fought valiantly to break up large Luftwaffe formations.
Three days afterwards Hogan and the squadron, now almost continuously in action, shot down two Me110’s at the cost of seven Hurricanes.

As losses mounted Hogan and his surviving pilots grew ever more skilful. Foremost among them was the ace Sgt Ginger Lacey who ignored the flames engulfing his Hurricane and before baling out persisted in shooting down an He111 which had bombed Buckingham Palace. The replacement pilots had an average age of 21 and were inexperienced in combat; it troubled Hogan that they were so vulnerable. Flying Officer Arthur Rose-Price was typical. A former instructor, he joined 501 squadron on September 2, flew a morning patrol, and that afternoon failed to return from combat over Dungeness.

Hogan continued to lead the Squadron throughout the daily assaults on London. On September 18 he was shot down by a Me109 over West Mailing. He baled out and resumed command, none the worse for the experience. He completed the Battle of Britain with at least five enemy aircraft to his credit.
It was Hogan's excellence as a fighter squadron commander which subsequently ensured him a senior role in the vital business of training a generation of fighter pilots who would succeed the veterans of the Battle of Britain.
After the Battle of Britain he commanded 54 OTU until posted to Maxwell Field, Alabama where he was a key figure in the Arnold Scheme for training RAF pilots in the USA. He was also a member of the RAF delegation to Washington.In 1944 he returned home as assistant commandant at the Empire Central Flying School. The next year he commanded No 19 Flying Training School at Cranwell.
After the war Hogan was successively Sector Commander, Northern Sector; Air Officer Commanding 81 Group, then 83 Group 2nd Allied Tactical Air Force, Germany; then Senior Air Staff Officer Flying Training Command. He retired in 1962 and served as Midland Regional Director, Civil Defence, from 1964 to 1968.
Hogan was awarded the DFC in 1940 and appointed CB in 1955.