Wartime Memories

 

War-time memories: William James Grey D.F.C.

4th April 2005

I was a pilot on 125 (Newfoundland) Squadron. This was a night-fighter squadron and I had been with it for about a year when we were re-equipped in January 1944 with the Mosquito Mk XVII, which had the latest Mk 10 airborne radar. The controls were very light and responsive, which made it highly manoeuvrable for a twin-engine aircraft.

After working up to operational standard on our new aircraft we were moved to Hurn near Bournemouth; and from 6th June 1944 ('D' Day) we were to help supply night cover over Normandy landings and shipping involved.

On the night of 7th June 1944 my aircraft was hit by return fire, my port engine was put out of action and my wing badly damaged. Shrapnel entered the cock-pit on the port side and wounded me on my leg and arm and rendering my radio unserviceable. My height at this time was approximately 200 ft and with the aid of my navigator I was able to fly back to base gaining height to approximately 1000 ft, and landed safely without further damage. I learned later that the Mosquito was extensively damaged and classed as irreparable. It is my belief that the outcome of this incident would have been very different if I had been flying any other aircraft but the Mosquito.

On landing I was met by the ambulance and taken to sick bay where my wounds were cleaned and dressed. I was later X-rayed and bits and pieces were removed from my arm and leg.

Being discharged a few days later with my arm and leg still in dressings I asked my C.O if I could fly again as soon as possible. Within a week of the incident I was back in the air. It was a little uncomfortable at first as I still had the dressings on but the C.O. was happy to make me operational within 10 days.

On 22nd June 1944 I had the dusk patrol over Normandy and I struck lucky. I enclosed a copy of my combat report (scanned version, page 1, page 2, transcribed version) for that night which is self explanatory.

For your information the report mentions FDT13. This was a landing ship tank converted into a ground control interception unit, which was moored at sea just off the beach head.

 
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