Reposted from Steve Brew’s ‘The Pilots of 41 Squadron RAF, 1916-1946 (Link)
Ladies and gents, it is with great sadness that I advise that one of our remaining WWII veterans, Gp Capt Derek S. V. Rake OBE AFC and Bar passed away this morning, aged 98.
Derek led a fascinating RAF career, which spanned from 1941 to 1976. Shot down and wounded over Yugoslavia in 1944, he was found by partisans, who tended his wounds and returned him to Allied lines.
He was repatriated to the UK and from there was posted to 41 Squadron on the Continent in March 1945. Derek then advanced with 41 Sqn into Germany, and ultimately claimed 41 Squadron's 200th and last victory of the war.
He remained in the RAF, subsequently serving in India and Burma, and was then sent to Hong Kong, where he formed the Royal Hong Kong Air Force. When Derek returned home, he retrained on jet aircraft and was ultimately employed throughout the cold war in ELINT and reconnaissance both with the Air Ministry and in the air, undertaking a significant number of secret ops over the former Eastern Bloc, flying Canberras as a Flight Commander with 88 (Night Intruder) Sqn and as OC, 192 (ELINT) Sqn, for which he was awarded an AFC.
Derek was born in Alderholt, Dorset, 26 May 1922, and was educated in Wimbourne Grammar, Dorset, and Southampton University College. He joined Southampton University Air Squadron and enlisted in the RAFVR in April 1941. Commissioned in June 1942, he was posted to 32 Sqn in August 1942 and to 41 Sqn in March 1945. He retired as Group Captain on 26 March 1976.
Derek provided me a significant amount of first hand material and photographs for "Blood, Sweat and Valour", and gave a truly memorable talk in a mock interview he and I held between courses at a 41 Squadron’ 95th Anniversary dining in night at RAF Coningsby, for 41 Squadron's in 2011. He had the room spellbound and you could have heard a pin drop.
He was a lovely and a good friend, and Jacqui and I have had the pleasure of knowing him personally.
May he rest in peace.
Wg Cdr Willie Felger
The Association is sorry to announce the passing of Wg Cdr Willie Felger.
Willie joined No 41(F) Squadron in April 1972 as a navigator when it re-formed at RAF Coningsby, equipped with the Phantom FGR2. During this tour, he was the Squadron Standard Bearer. The Squadron Commander at the time was Wg Cdr Brian (B.J.) Lemon.
“Willie. Retired Wg Cdr RAF, died on 1st January 2020. Much loved husband to Sue and father to Simon and Harriet. Funeral Service at Wealden Crematorium TN21 0LH on 31st January 2020 at 1 pm. No flowers please but donations, if desired, to Hospice in the Weald TN2 4TA”
Willie contributed his memories of the Phantom era to the Association and they are captured on our website here:
Wing Commander Tom Neil DFC, AFC
Wing Commander Tom Neil DFC*, AFC, one of the last of the Few and a regular visitor to the Battle of Britain Memorial in recent years, has died.
Wg Cdr Neil, who died on Wednesday evening (11 July), just three days before his 98th birthday, flew Hurricanes with No 249 Squadron throughout the Battle of Britain.
A pre-war member of the RAFVR, he is credited with having destroyed more than 17 enemy aircraft, most of them during the Battle. He went on to see further action in Malta, where he commanded No 41 Squadron.
Wg Cdr Neil returned to the UK to fly Spitfires over the Channel and elsewhere during 1943. Attached to the American 9th Air Force in 1944, he took part in the invasion of Normandy and remained with the USAAF until the Allies reached the German border. He later saw action in Burma.
After the war, Wing Cdr Neil spent four years as a service test pilot. He has flown more than 100 types of aircraft.
Wg Cdr Neil leaves three married sons, Terence, Patrick and Ian. His wife Eileen died in 2014.
A private cremation is expected to be followed by a later memorial service for Wing Cdr Neil and his late wife.
Air Commodore David Norriss
It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Air Commodore David Norriss (OC 41(F) Sqn 84-87). He passed away over the weekend from complications following routine surgery. He was described as: "a much loved ‘proper officer’ who was liked and respected by all with whom he engaged."
David started his flying career as a Vulcan Air Electronics Operator from 1964-1971. He graduated from pilot training in 1971 and after completing a tour as a flying instructor, joined the Jaguar force as the aircraft first entered service in 1975.
Following his command tour on 41 (F) Squadron, he served an exchange posting at the USAF University in Alabama, returning to the UK as Station Commander of RAF Chivenor. As an Air Commodore, he was the Air Attache & Assistant Defence Attache in Washington DC from 95-00.
These pictures of David Norriss were kindly forwarded by the Military Secretary of the Sqn Association from the F540:
The first is his arrival as the Boss, then there are 2 from a RED FLAG deployment, one of him presenting the old Standard to be hung up when the new one was delivered and finally a couple from his Dining Out Night in 1987.
Flt Lt John Wilkinson
It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Flt Lt John Wilkinson earlier today, 2 Feb 2017. John served as a Spitfire pilot on 41 Squadron in the latter stages of WWII and later settled in Spearfish, South Dakota.
He had been a very active member of the Association from afar and took great pride in recollecting his service, most notably in the recent release of The Gentleman Next Door 28 Oct 2016.
An excerpt of service from a speaking engagement on 12 Sep 15:
As the sun was setting, we circled over the Baltic coast and cruised inland at about 25,000 feet. Approaching the town of Schwerin we spotted about 30 aircraft at low level and headed down toward them. Then something curious happened. We saw explosions around the airfield and town, so two of our number assumed that they were RAF Typhoons attacking the area and climbed back up to our cruising altitude and headed home. But Tony and I continued on down to further investigate.
As we got low enough to positively identify the aircraft we realized they were Focke-Wulf FW-190 fighters. We assumed, incredibly, that they had spotted us and were dropping their loads in preparation for a fight. Diving down from our cruising altitude, we had built up some excess speed. I picked out the highest FW-190 flying quite slowly, so I had to lose speed rapidly using my propeller in fine pitch as a brake and fish tailing as hard as I could to avoid overshooting him and becoming a target for him. I was very close to him when I opened fire, without a thought for the round object under his belly. But I soon found out as I fired with cannons and fifty-caliber machine guns.
The round thing was a bomb and there was an almighty explosion. I ducked down for maximum protection from my bulletproof windshield and large engine. Although the outside air was very cold, I could feel the fiery heat on my neck between my collar and leather helmet. I could see flaming fuel and wreckage engulfing my Spitfire. It was time to take stock of the condition of my aircraft. I was still flying and attempted to gain more defensive altitude, but I was obviously very badly damaged. So I called for a homing to take the most direct route back to base. The radio-direction-finding personnel were on the ball and got it to me immediately just before the Germans, who were listening in, jammed the radio.
My propeller was damaged because the vibration was almost enough to pull the engine out. I climbed using as much power as I dared to and I was wallowing, telling me that my tail was badly damaged also. Since I had about 100 miles to travel, my biggest concern, beside the possibility of being picked off by an FW-190, was the huge radiator under each wing. If either one of them was holed and leaked my glycol and oil, I would not make it home. I watched the temperature and oil pressure gauges very closely and to my relief, the needles remained at their normal settings.
Before getting too low on approach to the airfield I tested my flaps and undercarriage. Both were still functioning. So with the crash crew standing by I came in fast in order to retain control until my wheels were safely on the ground.
After climbing out of the cockpit, it was then discovered that one blade of my propeller had been split off long ways. Paint was burned off the wings, and the fuselage and part of the controlling surfaces of the tail were missing, plus various holes and dents in wings and fuselage.
But most remarkable of all was that nothing entered the huge radiator and oil cooler air scoops under each wing, even though the narrow cowling edges of the scoops were riddled with holes. Make no mistake: The hand of the Lord was indeed upon me.
Flt Lt Colin Haines, 1922-2016
The following has been reposted from Steve Brew's Facebook page:
It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to one of our very loved Veterans, Flt Lt Colin Haines. He has been a member of this group for a couple of years and has loved the photos, comments and recently the wonderful birthday wishes. Colin had skill like no other when it came to the Spitfire and how to fly her with the greatest of ease and he knew how to make her move. It was because of Colin training many pilots from many squadrons, including 41 Sqn that we had such heroes of the skies. Steve and I will miss this very dear friend deeply and have treasured every conversation and story shared.
Forwarded from Steve Brew's Facebook post: https://goo.gl/S6kbdX
Major C. J. ‘Jack’ Malone RCAF, 1923-2016
My dear friends and colleagues, it is with sadness that I must advise you of the passing of my good friend Maj Jack Malone in London, Ont, Canada, on 8 August 2016.
Jack served on 41 Squadron from February to August 1944, and was heavily involved in preparations for Operation Overlord and defence against the V1 Doodlebug onslaught during summer 1944. Jack flew many free-ranging missions over France during this period and, in August, shared the destruction of a V1 near Ashford, Kent.
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