Forgotten pilots or flights...

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Re: Forgotten pilots or flights...

#201 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Mon May 31, 2021 7:33 pm

ian16th wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 2:02 pm
Reading this, I've discovered that a former boss of mine was one of the few survivors.

Sir Kenneth Cross.
Just reread John Winton's Carrier Glorious and your ex-boss emerged with enormous distinction from every aspect of the battle, including operations onshore and then landing his flight back on the carrier, to his command of the survivors after Glorious was sunk, his group on the survival float having the highest survival rate due to his morale building direction and outright decency and humanity.

What an extraordinary man!
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Dunstan Hadley

#202 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Thu Jun 03, 2021 5:08 pm

The current run of posts about the FAA, Stringbags, and things nautical got me to undertake a bit of reading about the aircraft that the Royal Navy had flown in the interwar years, and during the Second War itself. What an assortment of interesting oddities graced the decks of Her Majesty's ships during that period. I was particularly drawn to the odd looking Barracuda (noted by FD2 here) and noticed that there was a book written by one Dunstan Hadley, an FAA pilot officer and Naval doctor, whose name seemed oddly familiar to me. Anyway, I purchased his book, which I am still reading, but which I highly recommend, not least for the author's wry sense of humour, and love of the flying oddity called the Barracuda and flying generally. I felt I had come across his writing somewhere before, so much so that I did some research and realised that I must have read his, sometimes, amusing medical advice in some imported British Hang Gliding Magazine or periodical, or even his book on Hang Gliding, back in the late 70's when I was going though my hang gliding phase (which lasted until I re-knackered my right knee, injured at rugby, and lost two good friends to accidents on the Cape Peninsular between 1979 and 1980, which put me off using my body as an undercarriage forever thereafter). I wonder if Doctor Hadley is still alive?


Dunstan Hadley served as a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm during World War II. Barracuda Pilot is his account of those times and is written in a light-hearted and often humorous style.
He writes about his experiences as a trainee pilot, an operational pilot and as a flight deck officer. The author was in action again the Japanese in Sumatra and the raid on Sigh is vividly recounted.

As a Barracuda pilot, Dunstan Hadley formed a strong attachment for the Fairey Barracuda. It was an aircraft that was often disliked and considered dangerous but the author argues that it was only dangerous if incorrectly handled and he feels that it was not used properly by the High Command.

Barracuda Pilot is the very personal account of a young man's war which will be enjoyed not only by those who lived through those days but also by anyone interested in World War II history.
Jacket painting by Lynn Williams.
Three raids at the beginning of the end...

Edited to say I have found some most interesting copies of the British Hang Gliding Association newsletter and Dustan Hadley, has a number of articles therein, and an article on G forces and a review of his book on hang gliding are noted in the periodical linked to below. He was the medical officer for the British Hang Gliding Association. His article on G forces makes for good reading.

http://british-hang-gliding-history.com ... /no-54.pdf
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Re: Forgotten pilots or flights...

#203 Post by G-CPTN » Thu Jun 03, 2021 7:42 pm


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Re: Dunstan Hadley

#204 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Sat Jun 05, 2021 5:29 am

TheGreenGoblin wrote:
Thu Jun 03, 2021 5:08 pm

Dunstan Hadley served as a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm during World War II. Barracuda Pilot is his account of those times and is written in a light-hearted and often humorous style.

He writes about his experiences as a trainee pilot, an operational pilot and as a flight deck officer. The author was in action again the Japanese in Sumatra and the raid on Sigh is vividly recounted.

As a Barracuda pilot, Dunstan Hadley formed a strong attachment for the Fairey Barracuda. It was an aircraft that was often disliked and considered dangerous but the author argues that it was only dangerous if incorrectly handled and he feels that it was not used properly by the High Command.

Barracuda Pilot is the very personal account of a young man's war which will be enjoyed not only by those who lived through those days but also by anyone interested in World War II history.

Jacket painting by Lynn Williams.
Quote taken verbatim from Amazon blurb and often copied by other sites.

Sigli, not Sigh.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operati ... ber%201944.

It would irk Hadley considerably too see that the Wikipedia entry doesn't even mention the Barracudas!

AIR ATTACKS ON JAPANESE BASE AT SIGLI, SUMATRA. 18 SEPTEMBER 1944, FROM ONE OF THE ATTACKING PLANES DURING THE CARRIER RAID.

large_000000.jpg
from IWM site.
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Re: Forgotten pilots or flights...

#205 Post by FD2 » Sat Jun 05, 2021 5:55 am

I don't know if Hadley was involved in the Palembang raid. His book sounds like an excellent read.

Those unlucky enough to be shot down and captured alive suffered an appalling fate:

https://www.fleetairarmoa.org/news/the- ... r-memorial
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Re: Forgotten pilots or flights...

#206 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Sat Jun 05, 2021 6:28 am

FD2 wrote:
Sat Jun 05, 2021 5:55 am
I don't know if Hadley was involved in the Palembang raid. His book sounds like an excellent read.

Those unlucky enough to be shot down and captured alive suffered an appalling fate:

https://www.fleetairarmoa.org/news/the- ... r-memorial
Having just finished his, as you say, excellent book I can confirm that he didn't fly in the Palembang raid. In his book he notes the air crew orders and proposed procedures if they were shot down. It is clear that most of them were under no allusion as to how they might be treated by the Japanese, and in the book he notes the executions that occurred during operations at that time. Today it is hard to think of such awful Japanese cruelty and barbarism, let alone forgive them in retrospect.

Soon after the raid the Barracudas were effectively withdrawn from service in the East and he and his squadron recalled to India and then back to Scotland where he was shanghaied into doing a deck landing control officer course and spent the last few months of the war disconsolately waving batons and intermittingly conflicting with superior Naval Officers, in his quest for active flying duty, before being honorably discharged at the end of the war.

I suspect his biggest error in his flying career was actively choosing to fly the Barracuda, which despite all his affection for the beast, was clearly a woeful aircraft, having killed one of his fellow trainees due to a tail stall, or rudder overbalance, during dive bombing practice and which nearly killed him and his crew when he initially neglected to close the cowl flaps during a take off, and he was clearly a better than average pilot!

He does admit that the biggest fault the navy might have accorded to the Barracuda was its short range and woeful performance figures in the heat and humidity of the Asian theatre. The lack of range meant that the carriers and the fleet had to sail much closer to the target, often far inland, with the risk of being discovered, and this fact ultimately doomed the aircraft's long term use of the aircraft in the East (it flew on in the FAA into the early 1950's), and his final opportunity to have another crack at the enemy after the successful Sigli raid.

Naval History - Fairey Barracuda
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Re: Forgotten pilots or flights...

#207 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Sat Jun 05, 2021 12:46 pm

FD2 wrote:
Thu May 13, 2021 6:31 am
John Godley, 3rd Baron Kilbracken DSC 1920 - 2006


His account of his wartime experiences is in his book 'Bring Back My Stringbag' - a very well written and exciting book and well worth the effort of buying reading. For several years after the War he could not set foot in an aircraft and became a journalist. He achieved a scoop in wangling an invitation to a party in Moscow and chatting to senior Soviet leaders. He succeeded his father as Baron Kilbracken in 1950, while visiting New Zealand to celebrate the centenary of the foundation of Christchurch and the province of Canterbury by his great-great-grandfather, John Robert Godley in about 1850.

Screenshot_2021-05-13 lord kilbracken - Google Search.png
I have just commenced reading his book on the basis of your recommendation and am enjoying the experience. This sojourn down this particular historical tributary of the war, with it's fascinating personalities, machines and stories, most unknown by me, is proving to be a very rewarding one.
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Re: Forgotten pilots or flights...

#208 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Sat Jun 05, 2021 5:35 pm

TheGreenGoblin wrote:
Sat Jun 05, 2021 12:46 pm
FD2 wrote:
Thu May 13, 2021 6:31 am
John Godley, 3rd Baron Kilbracken DSC 1920 - 2006


His account of his wartime experiences is in his book 'Bring Back My Stringbag' - a very well written and exciting book and well worth the effort of buying reading. For several years after the War he could not set foot in an aircraft and became a journalist. He achieved a scoop in wangling an invitation to a party in Moscow and chatting to senior Soviet leaders. He succeeded his father as Baron Kilbracken in 1950, while visiting New Zealand to celebrate the centenary of the foundation of Christchurch and the province of Canterbury by his great-great-grandfather, John Robert Godley in about 1850.

Screenshot_2021-05-13 lord kilbracken - Google Search.png
I have just commenced reading his book on the basis of your recommendation and am enjoying the experience. This sojourn down this particular historical tributary of the war, with it's fascinating personalities, machines and stories, most unknown by me, is proving to be a very rewarding one.
So much more to this man than one can take in at one sitting...

https://magill.ie/archive/walking-contradiction
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Re: Forgotten pilots or flights...

#209 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Sat Jun 05, 2021 7:10 pm



It appears that Kilbracken was nearly expelled for running a book at Eton. He was using his profits to buy a Henri Mignet 'Pou du Ciel'! Caught between the two vices of the horses and aviation, he was a ruined man from the off! =))

Very Irish. My grandmother used to place bets horses on the Durban July and Irish races based on dreams. One year my aunt me that me she had dreamed of her mother, who had silently walked to her cupboard and pulled out jewels. The winner that year in a big race at the Kurra was "Golden Jewel!"

I still scoff but...
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Re: Forgotten pilots or flights...

#210 Post by G-CPTN » Sat Jun 05, 2021 7:37 pm

Did she capitalise on her dream?

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Re: Forgotten pilots or flights...

#211 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Sat Jun 05, 2021 7:44 pm

G-CPTN wrote:
Sat Jun 05, 2021 7:37 pm
Did she capitalise on her dream?
No unfortunately. We all kicked ourselves and pray for more dreams featuring either my grandmother or her mother who also believed in this kind of thing. The Irish side of my family were ruined by a family feud over a horse stud, in the early 1900's, so it would be nice to get some money back from the industry, even from beyond the grave as it were! :)
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Re: Forgotten pilots or flights...

#212 Post by FD2 » Sun Jun 06, 2021 5:52 am

GG - Thanks for the link to the Magill article. A great summary of Kilbracken's life till that point.

I'm told that my copy of 'To War in a Stringbag' has been despatched. It may appear in the letter box in a few weeks.

I don't think I have ever dreamt of anything which could persuade me to bet on a horse with a mysterious connection to the dream. All my choices, after studying the runners over many years of Grand Nationals, and placing meagre each way bets on a 'promising' nags, have always meant my choices falling at various fences or being withdrawn - but a bet did mean the race was made more exciting viewing for a short time. :YMAPPLAUSE: I did win a bottle of whisky at a raffle once though, about 30 years ago. :YMPARTY:
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Re: Forgotten pilots or flights...

#213 Post by Woody » Sun Jun 06, 2021 6:32 pm

I’ve never been a big gambler and I was definitely put off a few years ago when I was dispatching a flight from LGW to BGI, the entire First Class cabin was taken by JP McManus and the Coolmore Stud owners, a quick check of their booking, it was pre data protection days :D revealed that they were spending 6 weeks there before returning on Concorde :-o
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Re: Forgotten pilots or flights...

#214 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Wed Jun 09, 2021 2:59 pm

TheGreenGoblin wrote:
Thu May 27, 2021 11:26 am
Brave men all of them, as even the Germans admitted later after the suicidal attack in the Channel that saw the loss of Esmonde and so many others.

The utter futility of senior RAF and Naval folly and command failures to co-ordinate the resources of the RAF and the FAA is laid bare here in John Kilbracken's Bring Back My String Bag... Eugene Esmonde et al, didn't stand a chance.
On 11–12 February 1942, however, they gave their dramatic answer in one of the epic operations of the war. Lord Kilbracken, who, as Lieutenant-Commander John Godley, RNVR, had a distinguished wartime record both as a Swordfish pilot and as a squadron commander in the Fleet Air Arm, has written, from the air standpoint, probably the most objective and authoritative summary of the affair. After explaining that 825 Squadron, led by Eugene Esmonde, an officer of immense courage and dash, who had already won glory in the attack on Bismarck, was relatively inexperienced operationally, he points to the question marks. Lord Kilbracken, Bring Back My Stringbag (Peter Davies, 1979; Pan Books, 1980) Why they sent 825 is a question that has never been explained – and it would take some explanation. There is no attempt to do so in the report of the Board of Inquiry. Shore-based operations against enemy shipping in the Channel were not a normal function of naval aircraft. The RAF had many squadrons of fast modern bombers standing by for the operation to which Esmonde’s little striking force would make an insignificant addition. Bomber Command had 242 aircraft ready to take part; there were also fifty Whitleys of which it would be reported, though they were far faster and less vulnerable than the Swordfish, that they were ‘a type unsuitable for a day bombing’. Coastal Command had three dozen torpedo-dropping Beaufighters briefed and ready. To support these, thirty-four squadrons of fighters were standing by, comprising over 500 Spitfires and Hurricanes. The entire debacle, perhaps the sorriest of the war, went wrong from the beginning. For reasons hard to understand, it had been thought more likely that the battle cruisers would sail from Brest in daylight and one solitary aircraft – a Hudson of Coastal Command – had the job of watching the harbour from dusk till 2300 when another would replace him. It was a pitch dark night and the Hudson’s ASV just happened to pack up at 1920. It was 2238 before the next took over. A careful watch was then kept up till morning and nobody realized that Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, accompanied by the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen and a powerful escort of destroyers and E-boats, had slipped out at 2120 during those 198 minutes when Brest wasn’t covered at all. The RAF flew two other single-aircraft patrols during the night, and a dawn sweep by two Spitfires, but the enemy armada was not sighted until 1042, when two Spits who weren’t even looking for it but chasing a couple of Messerschmitts just happened to fly over it by mistake. The fleet was then approaching the Straits of Dover, having covered 300 miles undetected. For unexplained reasons the pilots were in no circumstances permitted to use their wireless and had to return to base, where they landed at 1109, to report the sighting for which half the RAF was waiting. The events which followed pass all comprehension. Alone of all the aircraft, Esmonde’s squadron, as a naval unit, came under the command of Vice-Admiral (Dover), who received the news at 1130 and ordered the six Stringbags to take off for their attack one hour later. This was supposed to be coordinated with an attack by four Beaufighters, the first little wave of all the air force aircraft that were waiting in their hundreds. But the Beaufighters couldn’t get airborne till 1340, seventy minutes after Esmonde’s though they had been standing by for a week. It was known that extremely heavy air opposition would be encountered and it was therefore arranged on the telephone between VA (Dover) and Fighter Command that five squadrons of Spitfires and Hurricanes would accompany 825. However, only one of these reached Manston by 1230 and its ten Spitfires soon lost contact with the much slower Stringbags. So Esmonde’s Swordfish, which took off precisely on time in very bad visibility, flew alone and virtually unprotected towards their immensely powerful enemy, now 10 miles north of Calais … … They approached in two flights of three. Before reaching the powerful destroyer screen they were engaged by the enemy’s most modern fighters in strength. Esmonde’s own aircraft was the first to be badly damaged. His port mainplanes were ‘shot to shreds’ (according to a survivor) but the Stringbag kept flying as Esmonde headed at low level over the destroyers towards the capital ships they encircled. Both the pilots with him, Kingsmill and Rose, were also hit but flew on, though Rose was badly wounded, his air gunner killed, his petrol tank shattered by cannon fire. Esmonde’s aircraft crashed into the sea when hit again some 3000 yards from the battle cruisers. Kingsmill and his observer, Samples, were wounded, the aircraft further damaged. But they closed within range of their target, Scharnhorst, and Kingsmill could aim and drop his torpedo before being forced to ditch. Rose did much the same: he pressed home his torpedo attack, also on Scharnhorst, and was able to turn back over the destroyers before his engine succumbed. Of the second flight, led by Lieutenant Thompson, nothing can be reported. Flying astern of Esmonde’s, they were never seen again by any of those who survived. So ended the most incomprehensible, most badly planned, most gallantly led operation in the history of naval aviation. No hits were scored on the enemy fleet. Of the eighteen officers and men taking part, thirteen were killed and four seriously wounded. Lee, who was Rose’s observer, alone emerged unscathed. Esmonde was awarded a posthumous VC. The four surviving officers, all RNVR sub-lieutenants, received DSOs, the surviving gunner a CGM, the next highest decorations for gallantry. They had been picked up by allied torpedo boats after over an hour in their dinghies. During the rest of the day, the enemy flotilla was attacked by the RAF as well as by torpedo-boats and a handful of ancient destroyers, but to no avail whatever. Of the 242 modern bombers sent out with full fighter escort, 188 ‘failed to locate the ships or were unable to attack them owing to low cloud’. So states the Board of Inquiry’s report. No hits were scored by the twenty-eight fast torpedo-bombers (Beaufighters) sent out additionally, three of which were lost. The only redeeming feature was that both battle cruisers were quite badly damaged by mines laid ahead of them by aircraft of Bomber Command. The Board found that no blame could be attached to anyone for the whole shameful disaster.


Lucas, Laddie. Voices In The Air 1939-1945 (p. 254). Random House. Kindle Edition.
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Re: Forgotten pilots or flights...John Richard Mably

#215 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Thu Jun 10, 2021 12:27 pm

On Page 150 of Lord Kilbracken's, Bring Back My Stringbag (Pen & Sword Books Ltd) it is noted that while flying with 836 Squadron, one of Kilbracken's fellow officers, I believe he was an Observer/Navigator, was noted as being John Richard Mably. I see that in the early 2000's Mably presented the first draft of his thesis entitled "The Effectiveness of Merchant Aircraft Carriers" for initial review at Brighton University. Sadly he died thereafter before he could complete it, but the initial draft was deemed to be sufficient quality, for the posthumous granting of his MA in Philosophy. Good man, he clearly kept his mind active in his latter years and produced a fascinating piece of work. Still reading it, but I recommend it to the readers of this august forum.

https://research.brighton.ac.uk/en/stud ... t-carriers
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Re: Forgotten pilots or flights...

#216 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Mon Jun 14, 2021 11:59 am

I purchased a second hand copy of Chaz Bowyer's biography of Eugene Esmonde.

I suspect I might start reading it today and will report back.

Eugene Esmonde.JPG
I am in the dog house with my better half for the purchase of yet another aviation history book. "What good are all these books cluttering up the place?"

Poor deluded woman! =))
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Re: Forgotten pilots or flights...

#217 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Mon Jun 14, 2021 1:22 pm

Chaz Bowyer is an interesting guy is in his own right too.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaz_Bowyer
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Re: Forgotten pilots or flights...

#218 Post by FD2 » Fri Jun 18, 2021 5:10 am

Any progress with the Esmonde book GG? It seems to get good reviews and I may buy a copy. What a brave bunch they were. I will be starting 'War in a Stringbag' in a week or two after the book arrived yesterday. Poorly printed copy and likewise the photos, but still readable.
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Re: Forgotten pilots or flights...

#219 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Fri Jun 18, 2021 7:56 am

FD2 wrote:
Fri Jun 18, 2021 5:10 am
Any progress with the Esmonde book GG? It seems to get good reviews and I may buy a copy. What a brave bunch they were. I will be starting 'War in a Stringbag' in a week or two after the book arrived yesterday. Poorly printed copy and likewise the photos, but still readable.
Well I read the book from cover to cover yesterday, time hanging heavy on my side, as it were, and what a good book it is. It covers every aspect of Operation Fuller that one might have questions about, and gets right down to the names and fine detail and the dramatis personae in this operation, which if it hadn't been such a tragedy and a failure, including the bad luck that also doomed the British strategy, would have read like a script from a Dad's Army episode! Bowyer is scrupulously fair though and the book is meticulously researched. His revelations and censure of the official report, or whitewash, are completely apposite. His detail on the tactical success of the German plan and execution of the "Channel Dash" is fascinating. He also looks at the overall strategic German failure.

The biographical history and insights into Esmonde's commercial and military careers are excellent and the full decency of the man is revealed with good detail and revealing aspects of his early life that hint at why he turned out to be the man he was and why his men followed him, with the bravery that they did.

I thoroughly recommend this book FD2. Buy and read a second hand copy if you can, as it is out of print here in the UK at the moment, although it may be available new in New Zealand.. It should never be out of print, as it is most likely the best portrait of Esmonde that exists.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Channel_Dash
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Re: Forgotten pilots or flights...

#220 Post by FD2 » Fri Jun 18, 2021 12:02 pm

Many thanks GG - I'll get busy with that. Sounds good.
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