Friday, September 28, 2007

Wg Cdr Thomas F.Neil DFC AFC AE 1920-2018

Thomas Francis 'Ginger' Neil joined the RAFVR in 1938 at the age of 18. Called up at the outbreak of war, he was posted to No.249 Squadron in May 1940 where he flew Hurricanes. During the Battle of Britain his first victory was on 7th September, closely followed by a second on 11th September, 3.5 more on 27th September, and another on 6th October. On 8th October he was awarded the DFC, and as his success continued, on 26th November he received a Bar to his DFC.
In May 1941, No.249 Squadron were posted to Malta, flying in from HMS Ark Royal. The Squadron saw almost daily action. Neil claimed another victory in June.
In December 1941, Neil was transferred and eventually became liaison officer to the US 9th Air Force's 100th Fighter Wing. After the war, he spent four years as a Service Test Pilot and has flown more than 100 types of aircraft. Serving for some years in the British Embassy in Washington.He retired from the RAF in 1964 having reached the rank of Wing Commander, he returned to America as a businessman before retiring to Norfolk.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Cdr Hamilton McWhorter 1921-2008

A Georgia native whose family roots date from the regions settlement in the 1700s, Mac McWhorter was a Naval aviation cadet undergoing training when Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941

After earning his Wings of Gold in early 1942, Ensign McWhorter was trained as a fighter pilot in the robust but technolgically outmode F4F Wildcat. Initially assigned to VF9 - A fiercly spirited and hard playing fighter squadron. He first saw combat in November 1942 against Vichy French forces in North Africa.

After returning to the united states, VF9 became the first unit to convert to the new Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter. The fighter the US Navy would use to crush Japanese airpower during the long offensive from the Southwest Pacific to the shores of Japan.

From mid 1943, Hamilton McWhorter was constantly engaged in the unforgiving and deadly aerial warfare that characterized the battles against Imperial Japan.His fifth aerial victory, in November 1943 off Tarawa Atoll, made him the first ACE in the Hellcat, and seven subsequent victories ensured his place in the annals of air-to-air combat. McWhorter's combat service, from the beginning of the war to the last campaign off the shores of Okinawa, makes his story a must read for the serious student of the Pacific air war.

Hamilton McWhorter III retired from the Navy as a Commander in 1969.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Flt Lt Geoffrey Wellum DFC 1921-

Born in Walthamstow, Essex on August 14 1921, Geoffrey Wellum joined the RAF on a short service commission in August 1939. With training completed, he went to 92 Squadron at Northolt on May 21 1940.

On September 11, he claimed a He 111 destroyed and on the 27th he shared in the destruction of a Ju 88. In early August 1941 he was posted away to 52 OTU, Aston Down as an instructor. He was awarded the DFC (5.8.41), being then credited with at least three enemy aircraft destroyed and several others damaged.

In March 1942, he was posted to 65 Squadron at Debden as a Flight Commander. He was posted to Malta in August and led eight Spitfires off HMS Furious to Luqa.

After returning to the UK, he became a test pilot at Gloster Aircraft, testing Typhoons. He later became a gunnery instructor, continuing this duty until the end of the war.

He retired from the RAF on June 30 1961, as a Flight Lieutenant, retaining the rank of Squadron Leader.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Sqn Ldr Cyril S 'Bam' Bamberger DFC* AE* 1919-2008

Born in Port Sunlight on 4/5/19, he joined the RAFVR in 1938 . He shot down two Me109’s in his Spitfire (at Hawarden and Hornchurch). Later, in 1941 he volunteered for Malta and shot down two Ju 87’s. He was commissioned in 1942 and then volunteered for North Africa and shot down another Ju 87 (Sicily) and damaged another ( Italy - 1943) and was awarded the DFC on 28/9/43. In Italy he shot down another 109 and damaged another. On 3/7/45 he was awarded a Bar to his DFC at Buckingham Palace from the King. He served in RAF Intelligence during the Korean War.