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  1. #11
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    Another thought occurred to me (which might well have occurred to you ages ago)...

    In the AIR 27 operations books that I looked at, the daily records of who flew what and where were interspersed with lists of men being transferred in and out of the squadron. Just before the 6 week gap, is there any mention of your father and the rest of his crew and where they might have been sent to?

    I was wondering if he might have spent those 6 weeks on secondment to something top secret, and it was something during that period which led to the Croix de Guerre.

    Many (most? all?) of these secret missions out of the UK came under the Special Operations Executive (SOE), with a base at RAF Tempsford. There's more information and further links on the Wikipedia page for RAF Tempsford, but broadly speaking, these involved either 138 Squadron with Halifaxes dropping supplies and agents for resistance groups, or 161 Squadron with Lysanders delivering and retrieving agents via remote informal airstrips. It might be worth checking these squadrons' logs just in case he got a mention on arrival.

    Connected with this might be what his role was at the HCU (which I believe was Heavy Conversion Unit). My first thought was that he might have been flying smaller planes, then went to the HCU to train for large ones, but on re-checking info on 51 Squadron, it looks as though he might have already been flying Halifaxes. So was he at the HCU to learn, or to teach?

    If I'm right about SOE-type stuff (a big if), then if he'd already done his HCU training, he might have been in 138; if he hadn't, 161 might be more likely.

    I'm aware that with this I may be trying to shoehorn your father into the kind of thing my relative was involved in, and the truth could be far different. But with a mystery medal and a gap in his records, it's tempting to cast around for possible explanations.

  2. #12
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    I think you and I are on the same track!

    In the RAF daily records, I’ve found where his pilot and engineer were transferred to, and the dates. Rest of crew aren’t mentioned as being transferred anywhere – have been right through the 51 Squadron records to check, so I’m now thinking I need to look at the service records for those men. They were both UK crew; I’ve found a site where I can do this, but need to pay to enter so am leaving that task until I can allocate a decent amount of time without interruptions (i.e. other bits of life!)

    I think the missing 6 weeks are a likely possibility. During the HCU stint Dad did say that he was training others with navigation and the latest radar . . . but that could also be a cover, I guess.

    I wasn’t aware of the connection with RAF Tempsford, so will add checking those squadron’s logs to my list of searches. His experience was with Halifaxes, so that may also be quite relevant. Dad also had a great admiration for the French Resistance – mentioned multiple times throughout his life, but not in relation to anything he participated in.

    My family and I have created multiple possible scenarios, and therein lies the frustration! Dad was always so cagey about his CdeG, with anything from ‘they were just handing them out and I happened to get one’ to ‘I honestly can’t tell you’. The latter I took to mean he really didn’t know, but having done some digging, I’m now of the mind that he had been sworn to secrecy and had no intention to break that commitment.

    You now have me intrigued as to what your relative was involved with – are you prepared to expand on that statement?

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by di2315 View Post
    I think you and I are on the same track!

    <snip>

    You now have me intrigued as to what your relative was involved with – are you prepared to expand on that statement?
    I'm glad it wasn't a total flight of fancy, if you'll excuse the pun. From what you say, it does seem possible that he might have been doing something secret during those 6 weeks, and afterwards went to train others at the HCU. It's a pity the HCU records aren't available - but then if what he was doing was so secret, it wouldn't surprise me if his transfers in and out didn't show up in the normal records anyway.

    As for my relative, his name was Harcourt Hunter McMullan, RAAF Service No. 425732, from Queensland, but descended from a family in what is now Northern Ireland. He was attached to 138 Squadron and flew Halifaxes on supply drops. His final mission, as pilot of LL192 NF-A, ended with the aircraft being shot down off Denmark with the loss of the whole crew. That was exactly 80 years ago today.

  4. #14
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    How sad. The thousands of lives lost to our world through wars is absolutely tragic.
    Lest We Forget

  5. #15
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    I'm adding to this post for reference that may help other Croix de Guerre researchers.

    Further investigations have lead me to another section of the National Archives RAF Records.

    Under the AIR2 heading, you can scroll down to the Correspondence Heading.
    Within this listing, the sections AIR 2/8769, AIR 2/8770, AIR 2/8954, AIR 2/8996,AIR 2/9031, AIR 2/9141,
    AIR 2/9142, and AIR 2/9645, all contain details over different date-spans.

    Unfortunately none of these records are currently digitised, but can be viewed by going to the NA and obtaining a readers ticket.

    How lucky are those who live close enough to be able to do this!

  6. #16

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    Thank you for posting that information. I’m sure that it will be useful to others in the future.
    Good luck!

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