Wednesday, June 11, 2008

W/Cdr LD Gregory DFC 1923-2015

W/Cdr LD Gregory DFC

'Doug' Gregory was born on 13th January 1923, in Southampton. He left elementary
school at the age of fourteen and worked in a local solicitor's office.
He volunteered for the RAF as soon as he was eighteen and joined at Uxbridge on the 3rd February 1941.. After completing his initial training at No 8 LT.W. at Newquay, Cornwall, he sailed as an LAC in August 1941, for pilot training in Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. He trained at No 25
E.F.T.S. at Belvedere, Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, flying Tiger Moths, then on to No 20 S.F.T.S., flying Harvards, followed by advanced S.F.T.S. at Cranborne, Salisbury, where he won his wings on the 23rd March 1942. Twin engine training on Oxfords followed at No 23 S.F.T.S. at Heany, Bulawayo from May 1942. Because of the forthcoming great expansion of Bomber Command, he returned to the UK. .
Now as a Sergeant Pilot, he flew at No 6 Pilot Advanced Flying Unit at Little Rissington, Glos. where overseas-trained pilots were brought up to the standards required in a theatre of war. A posting to No 54 O:T.U. at Charterhall, Scotland and its satellite at Winfield followed, where he trained as a night fighter pilot, flying Blenheims Mk 1, 4 and 5s and also Beaufighters Mk II. Here he crewed up with his Navigator/Radar Operator Sergeant D.H. Stephens (Steve). They were to remain together until the end of W.W.2.
In February they were both posted to No 141 Squadron at Ford in Sussex. The
Commanding Officer being W/Cdr J.R.D. Braham D.S.O.**, D.F.c.**, A.F.C., Croix de Guerre. The squadron moved to Predannack in Cornwall where they started operations in Beaufighters Mk l' s. Whilst there, Doug and Steve carried out 'Instep' operations over the Bay of Biscay and 'Ranger' operations over Brittany. They also carried out several air/sea rescue searches, providing cover in case of E boat attacks.
In April 1943 the Squadron (141) moved to Wittering, Northants and after being trained on 'Serrate' radar operations at Drem, in Scotland, the two of them started on their long, consecutive, double tour of operations with 141 Squadron on “Serrate Bomber Support” over Germany and occupied Europe.
They started on Beaufighters Mk 1 and Mk 6, later however, 141 Squadron changed to Mosquitos and moved to West Raynham, Norfolk in December 1943, when the squadron became the first in 100 Group, Bomber Command. Doug was commissioned with Steve as Pilot Officers in January 1944. During this time they did photographic research into radar jamming while on raids over Germany. Later
that year, along with Steve, they shot down in Northern France a Ju 88 and another near Metz. On the 4th of August they were both awarded the D.F.C. and both promoted to Flying Officers in September. They completed their consecutive double tour of operations with 141 Squadron in October 1944, having operated continuously since March 1943 and chalked up 69 operational sorties.
On the 13th October, 1944 they were both posted as instructors to 51 O.T.U., a nightfighter training unit at Cranfield and Twinwood Farm, Beds. Five months later, in February 1945, they were posted overseas to the Royal Naval Air Station at Gibraltar, where with their Mosquito, they carried out various forms of attack, high level bombing, dive bombing, torpedo and low level strafing, all simulated attacks on the new Battle Class destroyer H.M.S. Barfleur. This was to test the destroyer's radar defences for its forthcoming part in the war against Japan. It was whilst in Gibraltar that Doug had the opportunity to fly the Swordfish and the Seafire.
In July 1945 he and Steve were finally parted when Doug was posted to No 306 M.U. Allahabad in India to help sort out the trouble that the Mosquito's were having with the unkind tropical atmosphere. It was there that he tested a wide range of aircraft, including Beaufighters and Mosquitos of different Mks, also Spitfires and Hurricanes. In February 1946 he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant and posted to No 307 M.U. at Lahore to be in charge of the Test Flight. Here he tested Mosquitos, Beaufighters, Dakotas, Spitfires, Austers, Vengeances, Dominies, Expeditors and Arguses. It was at Lahore that he flew Professor P.S.Gill, who was researching into the behaviour of cosmic rays. This
required flying to almost the maximum height of the Mosquito.
Doug returned to the U.K. in September 1946 in an unusual manner. He delivered, from Jodhpur, an Expeditor, to the American Air Force in Germany in Munich. He was released from the Royal Air Force in September 1946
After Teacher Training College, he joined the teaching profession and for many years was Head of Faculty of Creative Arts in a comprehensive school. Doug returned to flying, for pleasure only this time, in light aircraft and when he retired in 1983, at the age of 60, he started to build a replica of an
S.E.5a, World War 1 fighter biplane. This took four years to complete