Daily Archives: 14 July, 2010

Portsmouth’s WW2 Dead – the Royal Air Force (part 4)

27 decorations were won by 24 Portsmouth airmen who died during the Second World War. 5.7% of Portsmouth airmen were decorated in some way:

Distinguished Service Order
Wing Commander John Buchanan (227 Squadron, Beaufighters)

Distinguished Flying Cross
Flight Lieutenant Gerald Bird (97 Squadron, Manchesters)
Wing Commander John Buchanan (227 Squadron, Beaufighters)
Flying Officer John Coghlan (56 Squadron, Hurricanes)
Flying Officer Thomas Morris (unknown)
Flight Lieutenant Patrick McCarthy (7 Squadron, Lancasters)
Flight Lieutenant Benjamin McLaughlin (unknown)
Wing Commander Frank Dixon-Wright (115 Squadron, Wellingtons)
Flight Lieutenant Donald Courtenay (511 Squadron, Yorks)
Flying Officer John Donohue (635 Squadron, Lancasters)
Flight Lieutenant Dennis Woodruff (15 Squadron, Lancasters)

Distinguished Flying Medal
Flight Sergeant Arthur Smith (38 Squadron, Wellingtons)
Flight Sergeant James Bundle (97 Squadron, Lancasters)
Flight Lieutenant James Potter (233 Squadron, Hudsons)
Sergeant Francis Compton (35 Squadron, Halifaxes)
Flying Officer Frederick Brown (142 Squadron, Wellingtons)
Flight Sergeant Raymond Hayles (15 Squadron, Lancasters)

Mentioned in Despatches
Group Captain Ernest McDonald CBE (144 Maintenance Unit) – twice MiD
Sergeant Arthur Knight (unknown)
Flight Sergeant Herbert Clarke (617 Squadron, Lancasters)

Commander of the British Empire
Group Captain Ernest Mcdonald (144 Maintenance Unit)

Member of the British Empire
Warrant Officer Edgar Juffs (unknown)

British Empire Medal
Flight Lieutenant John Holder (55 Squadron, Baltimores)
Pilot Officer John Philp (149 Squadron, Stirlings)
Flying Officer William Grant (166 Squadron, Lancaster)

Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal
Aircraftman 1st Class Jack Heap (151 Maintenance Unit, captured in Singapore)

Two men won more than one medal – Group Captain Mcdonald CBE MiD (twice) and Wing Commander John Buchanan DSO DFC.

There seems to have been a fairly even split between officers and men winning awards – due to the specific nature of the air war, all men in the air were at the sharp end and had almost equal opportunities for showing bravery. Of course senior officers – pilots and commanders,for example – had more chance of winning leadership awards such as the DSO. Medals could also be awarded for prolonged good service or bravery rather than just one incident – something that was important given how Bomber crews in particular went up into the air night after night.

The vast majority of awards were given for men serving in bombers. Flight Lieutenant James Potter’s DFM was given for service with Hudson’s in Coastal Command. Flying Officer John Coghlan’s DFC was awarded for flying Hurricanes in Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain.

Another interesting point to note are two commissioned officers who were awarded Distinguished Flying Medals – an award normally given to NCO’s and men. These medals were obviously won while the recipients were NCO’s and before they were commissioned as officers.

Aircraftman 1st Class Jack Heap’s Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal was awarded posthumously for life saving deeds on 8 November 1944 whilst he was a prisoner of the Japanese after being captured at Singapore.

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