J H Thomas

Flight Engineer
service number 572611  
   
   
   
             
Date Type Aircraft Flight Squadron Crew No. Notes
             
05/07/1943 Halifax II W7758 Air test 462 ME 45  
09/07/1943 Halifax II W7849 Air test 462 ME 45  
17/07/1943 Halifax II W1161 Air test 462 ME 45  
18/07/1943 Halifax II W7755 Training 462 ME 45 Circuits and landings
19/07/1943 Halifax II W1148 Air test 462 ME 45  
19/07/1943 Halifax II BB333 Vibo Valentia Aerodrome 462 ME 45  
22/07/1943 Halifax II W7849 Search for Halifax W1161 462 ME 45  
23/07/1943 Halifax II W1156 Air test 462 ME 45  
23/07/1943 Halifax II BB333 Reggio Calabria Aerodrome 462 ME 45  
30/07/1943 Halifax II W1169 Reggio Calabria 462 ME 45  
             
02/08/1943 Halifax II W1169 Reggio Calabria 462 ME 45  
05/08/1943 Halifax II W1169 San Giovanni railway yards 462 ME 45  
08/08/1943 Halifax II W1169 San Giovanni railway yards 462 ME 45 Starboard outer engine failure
18/08/1943 Halifax II W1169 Crotone 462 ME 45  
24/08/1943 Halifax II W7849 taxi to Fayid 462 ME 45  
             
02/09/1943 Halifax II BB426 Return to Base 462 ME 45  
03/09/1943 Halifax II W1169 Grottaglie Aerodrome 462 ME 45  
07/09/1943 Halifax II W1169 Manduria 462 ME 45  
10/09/1943 Halifax II W1169 Potenza 462 ME 45  
13/09/1943 Halifax II W1169 Potenza 462 ME 45  
15/09/1943 Halifax II W1169 Potenza 462 ME 45  
16/09/1943 Halifax II W1169 Potenza 462 ME 45  
22/09/1943 Halifax II W1169 Calato Aerodrome 462 ME 45  
23/09/1943 Halifax II W1169 Calato Aerodrome 462 ME 45  
25/09/1943 Halifax II W1169 Kalamaki Aerodrome 462 ME 45  
27/09/1943 Halifax II BB321 Larissa Aerodrome 462 ME 45 Starboard engine problems and crashed on landing
28/09/1943 Halifax II BB415 Air test 462 ME 45  
30/09/1943 Halifax II W1156 Transit to Fayid 462 ME 45  
             
16/10/1943 Halifax II BB426 Return to Base 462 ME 45  
17/10/1943 Halifax II BB424 Maritza Aerodrome 462 ME 45  
19/10/1943 Halifax II BB424 Maritza Aerodrome 462 ME 45  
21/10/1943 Halifax II BB418 Maritza Aerodrome 462 ME 45  
25/10/1943 Halifax II BB424 Heraklion Aerodrome 462 ME 45  
28/10/1943 Halifax II BB430 Maritza Aerodrome 462 ME 45  
             
02/11/1943 Halifax II BB430 Heraklion Aerodrome 462 ME 45 U/C collapsed on landing
07/11/1943 Halifax II BB386 Air test 462 ME 45  
10/11/1943 Halifax II BB386 Maritza Aerodrome 462 ME 45  
13/11/1943 Halifax II BB443 Air test 462 ME 45  
15/11/1943 Halifax II BB331 Air test 462 ME 45  
26/11/1943 Halifax II BB339 Air test 462 ME 45  
28/11/1943 Halifax II BB331 Training 462 ME 45 Air to Sea firing
             
06/12/1943 Halifax II BB339 Air test 462 ME

45

 
     

 

 

     

Biography

John Hewson Thomas was born in Pontyrhyl, Bridgend on 21st September 1921. He always loved aircraft and did well at school, he attended grammar school and joined the RAF straight from school on 7th September 1937 aged just 15 years, 11 months. John was good at mechanical and electrical things and being grammar school educated was eligible to be air crew and after some time at RAF Cosford and then No. 4 School of Technical Training, RAF ST Athan, he was posted to No. 1 School of Air Navigation in Canada for a year to continue his training. Upon returning to the UK he was posted to No 17 Advanced Flying Unit (AFU) based at RAF Watton before returning to RAF Athan, then onto 1658 HCU at RAF Riccall.

 

At Riccall John met the men who were to form his crew and complete his training ready for active service as a Halifax Flight Engineer. It was also while at Riccall that John met his future wife Jean whom he married in March 1945. After just over four months based at 1658 HCU in April 1943 John was posted to RAAF 462 in the Middle East. There he carried out 24 operational sorties with these men: -

Pilot: F/O Thomas R H V (24 ops)

2nd Pilot: SGT St.Pierre M A (1 op)

Observers: F/O Dunlop L J P (1 op), F/O Page E G (17 ops), F/S Bass E F (5 ops), SGT Redman H (1 op)

WOPs: SGT Munroe D C (23 ops), F/S Dunning A (1 op)

Navigator: SGT Fishpool FH (1 op)

Bomb aimer: F/S Ainley C R B (9 ops), F/O Dunlop L J P (4 ops), P/O Pope H (1 op), SGT Wall A T (1 op)

Tail gunner: SGT Weston C (22 ops), F/S Waller E R (1 op), F/S Bolland A A (1 op)

 

It was while on operations with 462 that John was involved an incident on 28th September 1943. At 01.15 BB321-S was attempting to land after an aborted operation to attack the Larissa Aerodrome, Greece due to an engine shut down, upon reaching the Hosc Raui base they made a left hand circuit and began to make their landing. They were still fully loaded with their cargo of flares, it is not known why they had not jettisoned them on the return flight. Upon landing the undercarriage collapsed and the aircraft broke up when she hit the ground, the crew managed to escape the wrecked aircraft shortly before it blew up.

 

John was not officially injured in the crash though we think he hit his head or face during the crash, he became ill and passing out during take-offs and landings resulting in his temporary absence from operations. Although he returned to operations after he did not complete his tour of duty due to ill health we believe, he was posted to a station near his home RAF St Athan in November 1943 and trained as an instructor which he did and continued to do until the end of the war.

 

John joined RAF 644 squadron in November 1944 and completed another 9 sorties including operation Varsity as part of the Co’s crew before leaving the RAF in 1947 a Pilot Officer and a flight engineer instructor.

 

John died of cancer, which was found after the Middle East crash and left us on the 1st Jan 1949. It was later proved that the crash of BB321-S was enough to blame for his cancer that his window was awarded a war pension. Gone but not forgotten


Rob