Well people: do I still have any readers left? I’ve had a LOT of work on, plus Winter here in New Zealand is always a little rough – snow, rain, muddy conditions – and living on a farm means a ton of work to do. But fear not! We continue on.
The last post saw Dad – June 1944 – leading the squadron that escorted a cruiser to France, which was carrying King George VI. He also saw buzz bombs whizzing around and took shots at them from his Spitfire.
Now, we reach July 1944 and the 127 Squadron seems to have been posted to T.A.F. Tangmere. I’m pretty sure that T.A.F. stands for Tactical Air Force and Dr Google tells me that Tangmere (or rather, R.A.F. Tangmere) was located at Tangmere village about three miles (or 4.8 kms) east of Chichester in West Sussex, England.
Dad’s logbook for July 4, 1944 says: Squadron posted to T.A.F. Next place France! Obviously, he was excited about the prospect of missions over France. What I find interesting is the location – Dad’s mother was born in Ditchling, East Sussex. Sort of like visiting the ancestral homelands for Dad.
At the top of the page in his logbook is 134 and 132 A.F. T.A.F. Tangmere – so I’m not sure if this means Dad joined the 134 and 132 or if the 127 simply relocated to Tangmere where the 134 and 132 was already based.
He’s zooming around in a Spitfire IX but was a passenger in a D.C.3 that flew him from Lympne to Tangmere. Once at Tangmere, Dad took to the air in the Spit and conducted dive bombing; low level bombing; and convoy patrol mainly.
What’s really of interest is his notation for July 25 – Escort to V.I.P. Turns out the V.I.P. was General Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower, who was later Prez of the USA. Dad notes: Gen. Eisenhower was V.I.P. Shook hands with him and had photo taken too. Wish I had that photo! It’s not in his photo album and I’d love to find it. Any ideas welcome.
On July 24, Dad mentions that he flew his Spit to Thorny Island. This was the day before he escorted Eisenhower. He must be referring to R.A.F. Thorney Island, located 6.6 miles (10.6 km) west of Chichester, West Sussex. Possibly he picked up General Eisenhower at Thorney Island and escorted him to Tangmere. Although the entry for July 25, when Dad mentions he escorted Eisenhower, seems to point to Dad flying over French villages because he says in the Comments section: Saw a couple of French villages rather badly damaged. So I wonder if Dad escorted Eisenhower to France for the General to see how the bombing operations were going. July 25 also saw Dad doing convoy patrol, which he didn’t seem to like: Quite an enjoyable day – except for convoy patrol!
Earlier in July, it seems that Dad used the Spitfire’s machine guns to record several hits and, on July 18, he took part in a squadron dive-bombing mission that saw the Spits go from 9,000 ft to 3,000ft. Dad also recorded that the “V” has gyro-sight. I’m not sure if he’s referring to the V-1 or V-2 rocket. Gyro refers to a gyroscope and I guess this was basically the rocket’s guidance system. I don’t know too much about the V-1 or V-2 rockets, so gyro-sight might mean that the rocket could identify a flying object such as a Spitfire and zoom towards it. Over to the experts on this.
Click on photos below to enlarge.