Finding the “Few”

I won’t go again into how I started writing about WW II in August 2009. Just let’s say for the record that I am just a tad curious.

Gil Gillis in the desert with Hawker Hurricane

Gil Gillis in the circle

More later…

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Finding Gil Gillis

The original post was published in 2015 after I found a clue to who were these pilots.


Finding Gil Gillis in September 2011 became like an obsessive search for a Spitfire pilot whose picture was in a photo album of another Spitfire pilot.

Both flew with RCAF 403 Squadron late in the war.

Gil Gillis

I am trying very hard to control my compulsive obsession about finding the “Few” since 2011. Finding the “Few” like Tommy Todd and many more. Tommy Todd’s grandson shared all he knew about his grandfather who also flew with RCAF 403 Squadron.

Cathy Swanson shared all about her father which resulted in the creation of this blog to pay homage to Gil Gillis.

Frederick Burdette GillisGil Gillis

Everything is posted here with the kind permission of Cathy.

This however is not.

pic

It was shared on a forum with a message.

Hi Tom

I have a photo album and log book of Sgt. Later Flight Lt. Clement St John Nichols. He flew with 238 from November 1940 until his death in July 1943, there are many small photos.
It was a great shame that he survived as a Fighter pilot for nearly 3 years operationally, to be killed whilst being transported with other squadron pilots in a transport aircraft.

I’m happy to send you a photocopy of his log book and scan the photos if you PM me.

Here are a few photos for the forum.

This is a kind of Rosetta Stone to feed my compulsive obsession with finding the “Few” on this 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

unknown men

Preserving the Past

This is the Belle of Berlin from the photo album of the Estate of Hugh Furse.

This is a page of the album.

On the left corner we see a Hawker Hurricane IIC with an unknown person. In the middle there is an unknown kid. He was nineteen and killed soon after joining the squadron. This caption was written by R. Emrys Jones who gave his album to Hugh Furse. The album is part of the Estate of Hugh Furse and his children don’t know why R. Emrys Jones gave it to their father.

This blog started also with some photos, and the duty to remember…

Remembering Gil Gillis who was a pilot on a motorcycle.

Gil Gillis was just a caption…

To the End

A reader shared this excerpt from a rare book about 238 Squadron.

Gil put on a spectacular prang in his aircraft. It was a pity really. He had been having trouble with his carburettor and had taken the aircraft up for a test the previous day. The engine cut out and he glided in for a perfect forced landing. The C.O. congratulated him on his skill and said that he would be given a “green ink” endorsement in his log-book to the effect that he had saved an aircraft by skilful flying. Further adjustments were made to the aircraft’s carburettor and Gil again took off for a test. Again the engine cut. This time, however, Gil was not so lucky and piled it up in a corner  of the drome. He never did get the “green ink” endorsement.

PrangTo the end cover

Source eBay

Finding Gil Gillis

Finding Gil Gillis in September 2011 became like an obsessive search for a Spitfire pilot whose picture was in a photo album of another Spitfire pilot.

Both flew with RCAF 403 Squadron late in the war.

Gil Gillis

I am trying very hard to control my compulsive obsession about finding the “Few” since 2011. Finding the “Few” like Tommy Todd and many more. Tommy Todd’s grandson shared all he knew about his grandfather who also flew with RCAF 403 Squadron.

Cathy Swanson shared all about her father which resulted in the creation of this blog to pay homage to Gil Gillis.

Frederick Burdette GillisGil Gillis

Everything is posted here with the kind permission of Cathy.

This however is not.

picIt was shared on a forum with a message.

Hi Tom

I have a photo album and log book of Sgt. Later Flight Lt. Clement St John Nichols. He flew with 238 from November 1940 until his death in July 1943, there are many small photos.
It was a great shame that he survived as a Fighter pilot for nearly 3 years operationally, to be killed whilst being transported with other squadron pilots in a transport aircraft.

I’m happy to send you a photocopy of his log book and scan the photos if you PM me.

Here are a few photos for the forum.

This is a kind of Rosetta Stone to feed my compulsive obsession with finding the “Few” on this 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

unknown men

Flight Lieutenant Frank de Beauchamp Collenette – Redux

This is a message from Alexis about Flight Lieutenant Collenette…
I know it is in French, but I will translate it later and tell you more about Alexis in upcoming posts.
 
Concernant le Flight Lieutenant Collenette :
 
1°: SHORES Christopher, MASSIMELLO Giovanni, GUEST Russell. A History of the Mediterranean Air War, Vol 1 : North Africa (June 1940 – January 1942). London : Grub Street, 2012. 560 p.
 
– p. 336, Combat aérien le matin du 23 novembre 1941 entre 18 Ju 87 du I./St.G 1 et 15 du II./StG 2 (escorte : environ 20 Bf 109 et G.50 dont 13 du 155° Gruppo C.T.). Une formation de Hurricanes des 229 et 238 Squadron intercepte l’adversaire au-dessus de Sidi Rezegh. Le Pilot Officer Collenette revendique un Ju 87 endommagé au-dessus d’El Adem (07:30 – 09:00). Son Hurricane Mk IIc (“T”) est lui aussi abattu dans l’affrontement, sans conséquence pour le pilote quoiqu’il doit rentrer à pied.
(il y a un paquet de revendications des deux côtés, toujours est-il que 7 Hurricanes sont abattus et 4 pilotes tués ; 5 Ju 87 perdus et deux équipages tués ; 1 G.50 abattu).
 
 
2°: SHORES Christopher, et all. A History of the Mediterranean Air War, Vol 2 : North African Desert (February 1942 – March 1943). London : Grub Street. 2014. 736 p.
 
– p. 72 : 2 avril 1942. Vers 17h30, une formation de 8 Bf 109 du I./JG 27, 8 du II./JG 27 et 15 du III./JG 27 sont chargés d’escorter 12 Ju 87 du I./StG 3 pour attaquer des navires près de Tobrouk. 10 Kittyhawk du 260 Squadron et plusieurs Hurricanes des 80 et 238 Squadron décollent pour les intercepter au nord-ouest de Tobrouk. Durant le combat, le Pilot Officer Collenette (Hurricane Mk I “T”) revendique un Ju 87 endommagé vers 18h00 – 19h15. En tout, 1 Ju 87 est revendiqué détruit et 2 endommagés. Les Allemands indiquent la perte de deux Ju 87 (Ju 87 R-4 WNr. 6331 “S7 + HL” de la 3./StG 3 : Leutnant Otto Rietdorf / Feldwebel Rudolf Klünder PoW ; Ju 87 R-4 WNr; 6333 “S7+BH” de la 1./StG 3).
 
– p. 161 : A 10h20, 4 Hurricanes du 238 Squadron sont envoyés en reconnaissance sur la zone Fort Maddalena – Sidi Omar où ils rencontrent une Flak intense puisque deux appareils sont endommagés, tandis que le Hurricane Mk II (“T”) du Flight Lieutenant Collenette est contraint à un atterrissage forcé près de Sidi Omar (le serial du Hurricane pourrait être le BG954).
NB : c’est le 23 juin 1942.
 
– p. 173, 28 juin 1942. 10 Hurricanes du 238 Squadron sont en mission de reconnaissance au-dessus de Sidi Haneish lorsqu’ils sont surpris par 3 Bf 109 de la 1./JG 27. Le combat est très rapide et 5 Hurricanes sont abattus.
 
Hurricane Mk II “T”, Flight Lieutenant Collenette, KIA.
Hurricane Mk II “C”, Sgt M.P.S. Cummings, KIA.
Hurricane Mk II “A”, Sgt W.B. Doig, safe.
Hurricane Mk II “X”, Sgt J.W.T. Purdy, safe
Hurricane Mk II “U”, Sgt M.L. Lawrence-Smith, safe
 
5 victoires sont revendiqués par la kette de la 1./JG 27
 
Feldwebel Günther Steinhausen : 3 Hurricanes
Feldwebel Gerhard Keppler : 1 Hurricane
Unteroffizier Walter Timmermann : 1 Hurricane
 
Le combat a lieu vers midi.
 
3°: PALERMO Michele. Eagles over Gazala : Air Battles in North Africa (May – June 1942). Roma : IBN Editore. 2014. 299 p.
– NB : il y a une erreur de frappe dans le livre, puisque le pilote est écrit sous le nom de “Collinette”. La page 183 confirme les informations sur la sortie du 23 juin 1942 et la page 208 fait de même pour la journée tragique du 28 juin 1942, quoiqu’il est indiqué que 6 Hurricanes sont revendiqués par la 1./JG 27 (4 et non 3 pour Steinhausen, ce qui est effectivement confirmé dans la liste des Luftsiege http://lesliesawyer.com/claims/tonywood.htm ).
 
En espérant que ces informations vous seront utiles.
 
Bien amicalement
 
Alexis ROUSSELOT

 

Flight Lieutenant Frank de Beauchamp Collenette died on June 28, 1942.

A reader had commented on this picture…

Is Frank de Beauchamp Collenette on that shot?

Gil Gillis in the desert with Hawker Hurricane

He commented some more on the blog.

I think Frank may be sat at the front, first from the left. I will check my copy of the 238 Squadron ORB for June 1942.

I hope more readers will join us and help us in finding who’s who on this picture.