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Historic Aviation => People and Units => Topic started by: Recce Spit on October 03, 2011, 12:02:43 PM

Title: 241 Squadron - Flying Officer K.G.D. Shipway-Fowler (service number 141343)
Post by: Recce Spit on October 03, 2011, 12:02:43 PM
I am trying to find out as much about my grandfather as possible - his spitfire (Mk VIII JF702) - are any of the 241 squadron still alive who may have known him? All I know is "On the 5th March 1944, whilst performing an air test on Spifire
VIII no.JF702 F/O Shipway-Fowler crashed about 200 yards offshore in the area of Canne landing ground. It would appear that neither pilot or wreckage was recovered".  If anyone can assist with understanding his role, etc that would be great. Thanks :)

Title: Re: 241 Squadron - Flying Officer K.G.D. Shipway-Fowler (service number 141343)
Post by: lepadge on April 10, 2012, 06:27:09 AM
Hello there,

I am a RAFA Volunteer and I visit a 90 yr old in his care home in Putney. He went throughout WWII as an airman with 241 Sqn - through North Africa and Italy.  He has tales to tell, which are all of the teamwork and determination of the ground crew keeping the airframes airborne in difficult circumstances and with ingenuity. 

I asked him of aircraft going down into the sea off of the coast of Italy.   He cannot recollect names, but he witnessed incidents where this did happen, as the short metal surfaced runway faced directly out to sea.  The reason he tells me that aircrew and airframes were not recovered, is because of the proximity of the Germans just to the north and they did not want e-boats to attack a rescue/recovery party.  They did go out to aircrew who were clearly visible and swiftly return.

He tells of fresh aircrew with low training hours on spitfires arriving fresh to the airstrip.  They were taught on clean swept spitfires without weaponry and to retract the undercarriage once airborne.  He states that a few perished when they had 2 x 250lb bombs beneath and later 2 x 500lb bombs, when they retracted too quickly before the aircraft was truly flying and able to sustain the added weight.

The role was armed reconnaissance to harass the Germans to the North.  It was often long patrols with long range tanks fitted.  Owen tells of the difficulty of fitting the tanks - all by hand - and how they often leaked - which was often the seal.  They had to find bails of straw and drop the tanks - drain the fuel into cans and start again.  It was time consuming, difficult and all the while there were many other tasks and aircraft awaiting attention.  From what he tells me, the aircraft were often out alone on patrols from dawn 'till dusk.  He states on one occasion an aircraft had just taken off at dawn and the pilot was settling down when he looked across and saw a German aircraft doing exactly the same.  He slid in behind and shot the unsuspecting German down.

He can recall a liberator short of fuel that had witnessed the Spitfires taking off out to sea and landing in the opposite direction on the (unbeknown to him) very short strip and not entirely knowing where he was.  He overshot the runway, went through a gap in a wall, narrowly missed the radar vehicle and went between two tents of ground crew taking the tents into the props.  The inhabitants had been asleep and were all unharmed.  The pilot jumped from his aircraft and was about to set it alight when the startled persons on the ground shouted ''English English''.  The aircraft had to be dismantled to be taken away.

The Squadron went on to Venice where they were repatriated to the UK.  He states that they all split to the four winds and he has seen nobody since.

I hope that this may shed some light.

Best Regards,