P/O J Dunn And F/O W.G. Dinsdale
Two members of 410 Canadian nightfighter squadron on their cycles at Hunsdon 1944
Mosquito nightfighter Crew
RCAF 410 'Cougar' Squadron, RAF Hunsdon 1944.
Posted in from 54 OTU were Flying Officer Walter Dinsdale from Eugene, Ontario and F/S ( later Pilot Officer ) John Dunn from Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada. In February 1944,while at RAF Castle Camps near Saffron Walden, this crew first came face to face with the Luftwaffe over North Weald, Essex. They had been stalking a German JU88 bomber when it carried out a steep turn and came at the Mosquito head on. The Mosquito actually collided with the JU88 and landed at base with severe damage to the starboard airscrew. The JU88 flew on and was claimed as 'Damaged'.
Soon after 410 Squadron moved to Hunsdon and on June 14th Dinsdale and Dunn were on patrol behind the beachhead in Normandy after the invasion. It was this night when they destroyed the first 'Mistel' combination. The luftwaffe had designed a Composite or combination of a small fighter aircraft attached by detachable brackets to a larger twin engined aircraft. The idea being that the twin engined aircraft would be made into a crude flying bomb controlled by the fighter aircraft.When near its target, the bomber would be aimed and jettisoned by the fighter.
Take off time for their patrol was at 1035PM, and HK476 'O' lifted off from Hunsdons runway and course was set for 'fighter pool 1' at the invasion beachhead where they came under control of FDT217 Mobile Ground control or GCI. not long later Dunn had a contact of the Mosquitos radar , he called 'contact' and they climbed to 11000 feet where the pilot F/O Dinsdale obtained a visual sighting. The target was moving slowly and the Mossie had to lose airspeed to slow down so as not to overshoot. They checked for friendly signs like the black and white Invasion stripes added to every allied aircraft after June 5th, and with the aid of Ross night glasses, and after closing to within 750 feet of the target they identified it as a JU88 with what they thought was some kind of glider bomb attached to it on the upper fuselage.
The enemy aircraft had made no attempt to evade and the Mosquito opened fire with its four 20mm Hispano cannons. It immediately burst into flames and went down in a steep dive, Dunn and Dinsdale followed it down on the radar until it hit the ground south east of Caen and exploded, lighting up the ground for a considerable distance.
The Canadians thought at first that they had shot down some sort of aerial launching platform for a V1 flying bomb., What the crew had actually done was to shoot down the first 'Mistel' by allied aircraft and one of KG101's first training aicraft on a familiarisation flight near its intended theatre of operations, the Allied bridgehead itself. The 'Miste'l was a BF109 fighter, W.nr 10130 CD+LX and JU88-A4 W.nr 10096
5T+CK that crashed 40km south east of Caen. Another 'Mistel' was claimed that night by a crew from 264 Squadron whose combat saw the combination crash into the sea near La Havre. Proof indeed to the allies that the Germans were now using this advanced weapon.
Dinsdale and Dunn pictured next to Mosquito HK476 after returning to Hunsdon after downing the Mistel.
Images and combat report courtesy of Brian Dunn.
One of the crew of the B-17 shows RAF Hunsdon personnel the damage sustained by anti-aircraft fire (image-Footnote.com)
Among many aircraft to make an emergency landing into Hunsdon was a severely damaged USAAF B-17-G of the 527th Bomb squadron, 379th Bomb Group that had been damaged while on a bombing mission to Germany.
Lt Arthur M Maatta the Bombardier died from his injuries soon after landing at the airfield. He is buried at the USAAF cemetery at Madingley, Cambridge.
Avro Lancaster S-Sugar 467 Squadron (RAAF)
The airfield saw many other types landing there for many reasons. RAF and USAAF bombers and fighters short on fuel or damaged by enemy action took advantage of Hunsdon's hospitality. One notable visitor was RAF Lancaster R5868 S-Sugar of 467 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force, that landed at Hunsdon after it's 100th operation . The official IWM caption to the above image describes this as being taken at Hunsdon after the 100th mission flown. It is in fact an image taken before it left for that flight from RAF Waddington. Note the bomb trolley underneath, and the bowser is marked for B/5 indicating Five Group bomber command.
This aircraft is now preserved and on permanent display in the RAF museum Hendon.
Sports Day 1943
The combined Gymnasium and Chapel used to stand at Hunsdonbury. It was demolished quite a few years ago and a new house built in its place. Below is an image taken during Sports Day in 1943.
This image was sent into the HAMG by the grand daughter of LAC Bert Reid.
Wing Commander Charles Michael Miller DSO DFC and Bar.
After starting in 1939 on Vickers Wellingtons with IX Squadron at RAF Honington, he was posted to Malta. He later returned and became Commanding Officer of 29 Squadron equipped with night fighter Bristol Beaufighters. As a Squadron Leader, he commanded Hunsdons Turbinlite flight at the airfield. This was later formed as 530 Squadron but disbanded shortly after when the Turbinlite trials were wound up.
He was then posted to Norfolk,taking over from John Cunningham as Commanding Officer of 85 Squadron who were by then part of 100 group (Bomber Support). He sadly contracted diabetes and was taken into hospital in early 1945, but was then demobbed after being discharged from Hospital as a Wing Commander aged 24 with a DSO 3 DFCs and Bar.
Whilst in hospital he wrote the squadrons history of the period he was in charge, and the lessons learned which resulted in 85 being the top scoring night fighter squadron at the stage of the war. He was credited with 7 kills which placed him in the book 'Aces High' written by Christopher Shores. W/C Miller subsequently had a very successful career in the City Of London but sadly died in 1982 aged 63.
Photo courtesy of Nigel Miller.
RAF Hunsdon Rugby Club 1943
No identities on the chaps in the photo apart from the man on the back row, far right with the black shirt.
who is Flight Sergeant Neil McCook RNZAF. He was with 3 squadron at Hunsdon. The photo was taken
outside Hunsdonbury House.
The squadron was at Swanton Morley Norfolk on the 8th Feb 1944 carrying out an an attack on shipping at Dan Helder, Netherlands
He was flying in Typhoon IB JP684, and had taken off at 1600, but when 30 miles off the coast at Lowestoft returning from the raid, McCook radioed his flight commander that he would have to bale out as he had insufficient fuel to reach the coast. The Flight Commander orbited the area but momentarily lost sight of JP684 because of rainstorms. Two minutes later at 2000 feet he saw the Typhoon spin down from above, hit the sea and burn for 15 seconds. He continued orbiting for 20 minutes until relieved by an Anson, but there was no sign of Sgt McCook who is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
(Information taken from Errol Martyn's 'For Your Tomorrow' Volume Two)
RAF Hunsdon-Sergeant Denis O'Keefe, RAF Police.
Denis O'Keefe lives in Ontario Canada now, but was in the RAF Police at Hunsdon.
'Compared to our extremely brave Air Crews, my contribution to the war effort was pretty basic. My young brother, on the other hand, was thrilled to become part of a Lancaster crew. He flew with 49 Squadron out of Fulbeck. but unfortubnnately he did not survive his second flight over Hamburg sometime in March 1945, just two weeks before his 21st birthday.
Now, getting back to Hunsdon. As I'm now in my 96th year, my memory is becoming somewhat stretched. I seem to think that I arrived there late in 1941 after stints at Felixstowe, Honington, Uxbridge, Horsham St.Faiths and Wattisham. Even though it meant sleeping in a tent, it was a great relief to get away from Wattisham where we were all getting a bit "Bomb Happy" because of the many unfriendly visitors in their Dorniers or Heinkels. To put it mildly, Hunsdon seemed a bit of a mess when compared with the other regular Stations. The Domestic site was still under construction, as was the Guardroom . The Station Headquarters was in The Vicarage, nearly opposite the Main Entrance to the Airfield. The Gymnasium was almost finished when it was broken into one night and vandalised. That became my first major headache. Just beyond the Gym was a lovely old Pub, 'The Turkey Cock' sad to say, it was doomed. Extension work was being done nearby to accommodate Flight 1451, and secrecy was the order of the day. A Pub with all its customers gazing at Turbinlites was the last thing the R.A.F wanted, so down it came in a cloud of dust.
The Landlord was compensated by the A.M.W.D. by building a nice new prefabricated "Boozer" on the side of the road just beyond the vlllage on the road to Widford. When I was eventually allowed to occupy a nice new Guardroom, I wandered across to S.H.Q. and asked the adjutant if it would be alright to plant a few flowers. He was a charming young man and thought it rather funny. Later, a Runner arrived with a hand written Cartoon. It depicted a R.A.F. Policeman sitting crosslegged under a Rose covered trellis. Extremely large Boots were very visible and Birds were twittering away above him. The caption said something about 'The luxury of being a Policeman' I kept that for many years but it got lost somewhere along the line, pity really as it was signed by David Langdon who went on to great fame, not only with the Airministry and the Government but also with Punch, The Mirror Group and The NewYorker, to mention a few. He got the O.B.E he died just last November'.
© Denis O'Keefe by email - June 2012 .