1941 US/Raf eagle units Orkney

Discussion in 'US Units' started by Tracing Grandad, Jul 30, 2019.

  1. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Interesting in that the facts were finally ascertained and it must be rewarding to "Tracing Grandad" and those who did the spade work.

    Where did the references to No 129 Squadron and then No 71 Squadron and Mustangs come from?

    As an aside, Eagle squadrons, Nos 71, 121,and 133 were disbanded on 29 September 1942 as the USAAF presence in Britain was built up.On the same date these squadrons were absorbed into the 8th Air Force.No 4 Fighter Group as No 334,No 335 and No 336 Squadrons respectively.

    No 71 Squadron reformed in Germany in 1950 but No 121 and No 133 Squadron numbers appear to be have never been taken up in the RAF structure since.

    I think a special passport,issued to an embassy diplomatic staff does give the holder protection in that in time of the declaration of war,the staff from the ambassador down are subject to international diplomatic protocols.This is intended to prevent them from being interned but allowed to be safely evacuated and returned to their home country.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2019
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  2. All I knew at the start of my search was he was in the military, likely a pilot and that he had been killed during his service. He had to have been in Orkney in Sep 1942. I started by mapping the 3 known grandparents bloodlines in my family tree on ancestry. I then had a DNA test done, then set out categorising my dna matches into the known lines & the missing link. From there discovered who my 3rd gt grandparents were, due to the missing link matches. As they were large families, I then had to work my way down the tree from them to see who was the right age and in the military at the right time. So I had 3 leads from DNA, all american & in the military. All Flynn. Trouble was they were all from 1942. So I started looking at american involvement prior to pearl harbour. I discovered that the RAF worked with an american aviation company to develop new aircraft (mustangs) in 1941 which coincidentally one of my leads may have been connected to. This was the sq 129 connection and they were in Orkney at the right time, but I couldn’t find the name. I also then found out about guys joining the canadian air force & the eagle squadrons. I had seen his name before, but had not seen the picture. The time fits, the diplomatic/govt connection means he could have been there & was definitely in this country. Once I saw the picture it was spooky, a clone of my big brother. So the 71 squadron came from the photo. I upgraded my ancestry subscription to global and found most of the other info from there. Including the treasury connection. He is a very interesting character, I am convinced he was involved in covert ops as the travel he did was unusual to say the least, the foreign docs etc. So it has been a real detective story and you guys have been a great help. Thank you all.
  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    We have no connection - or at least I have not seen one to say the John Flynn found on here was ever in 129 Sqdn or in fact ever in Orkney.
    We do know a John Flynn was in 71 Sqdn, and we know that 71 Sdqn was never in or around Orkney.

    Can I suggest your next step is to try and obtain his service records, I have to say I'm not sure whether you need to contact the MOD [forms here Request records of deceased service personnel, plus you will need the CWGC certificate of his death] or contact the US military euqivalent and he was drafted to them. from what you say in 1942. Maybe a call to the MOD records office in Glasgow could be a starting point. His service records willl show you which Sqdns he was in, when he was in them and then it can be found out where they were at that time.

    From my point of view you still have a way to go, but if you are happy with what you have then well done

  4. Thanks TD, no you are right the 129 squadron connection was from the other John B Flynn who was in civilian aviation and was the mustang connection. He worked at the US army base in Virginia before they joined the war. I was always dubious about him as he was 20 years older than my grandmother, so it seemed unlikely. Of course they were cousins, so it was really hard to tell & both called John! I will be trying to access the service records, now I have the other info. John B had only 1 daughter deceased who had no children. But John F did have other children, so there is the possibility of matching DNA there to know definitively.
  5. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    "Tracing Grandad"

    John Flynn served in the RAF and his service record will be available from RAF records now at Cranwell,Lincolnshire.I think until you mother can prove that she is a Next of Kin of her father,your application for your grandfather's service record will involve a charge of £30....but that should not be a problem I would think.


    His death certificate would have been initiated and registered by the RAF administrative authorities.His death would not be registered in the normal British Registration Districts as John Flynn was killed in action in France.

    DNA .....there may be a lead available via John's British born children which Dave has already identified.
  6. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    Its great that there is such a likeness to your brother in the photo & agree with others that his RAF service record is needed to confirm dates of joining, posting etc.

    While I understand he seem to have travelled around the UK & Europe in his role with the US Embassy before joining the RAF/RCAF, I have noticed two dates that don't quite match.

    You say in post 16 that your mother was born in June 1942, presumably in Orkney.

    His entry on the American Air Museum in Britain website (link in post 24) states:
    E/A Kill Dunkirk, France 19 September 1941
    Claim 1 x Bf109F destroyed, Rhubarb mission Dunkirk - Dover.

    Accepting that any website can be wrong, it will be interesting to find out what his RAF role in Orkney was & more about his secretive career at the embassy.
  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    I think you find that the file below stands in lieu of a 'normal' civilian death certificate for service records needs


    Attached Files:

  8. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    While reading through this thread again I am reminded that in the newspaper death notice it gives John Van Liew Flynns/John F Flynn's wife as Margaret (nee FISHER) & in the 1939 Register he says he is single.

    Taking these together & further research below makes the marriage shown in post no 31 probable:

    John Van L. FLYNN to Clarice M. FISHER, October-Dec 1940, Uxbridge, Middlesex (vol 3a page 388)

    I could not see any obvious children of this marriage in the GRO indexes on ancestry.

    Clarice lives in an interesting household in the 1939 Register Flat 1, 5 Roland Gardens, Kensington, London:

    FRYDBERG Nina born 6th Nov 1913 single actress
    FRYDBERG Stanislaw born 10 Aug 1885 married artist
    FRYDBERG Catherine born 8th August 1879 Unpaid domestic duties
    MAYER Edfried (male) born 15th Jan 1917 single actor writer
    HEINE (later HOWARD) Hellmu... (later Harry S.) born 1st Oct 1891 widower no occupation [surname change labelled NR230 BXA 8th Aug 1940 & foername change NR230 BXA 27 Feb 1948]
    FISHER (later FLYNN, then HAY) Clarice Margaret born 4th May 1920 single probationer Nurse [surname change to HAY was dated 17th March 1944.

    Her remarriage after John Flynn's death is:
    Clarice M FLYNN to Ian H HAY Jan-March 1944 Marylebone Reg Dist London
    There seemed to be a few possible births for this couple.

    Ian Hamilton HAY Apr-Jun 2001 Wayland, Norfolk born 5th June 1913
    Clarice Margaret HAY, born 1921 died 12th March 2017 Bury St Edmunds Reg Dist, Suffolk.

    In the 1939 Register Ian Hay is at his parents home in Surrey, with the occupation "private means" and dob 5th Jun 1913.

    His father was the East India Merchant & Rubber Trader Sir John George HAY Kt (died 1964).
  9. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    I forgot to add the ref to the newspaper article that gave me the link to Sir John HAY Kt. I don't have a subscription to the British Newspaper Archive so can only see a small part of it.

    Friday 17 March 1944 Daily Record of Lanarkshire, Scotland
    ............... moment yesterday to send congratulations to his former secretary, Mr. lan H. Hay, on his forthcoming marriage to Mrs. Clarice Flynn, of Ilford. Mr. Hay belongs to a well-known Aberdeen family. His father. Sir John Hay, is one of the leading figures the .............

    Results for 'clarice flynn' | Between 1st Jan 1900 and 31st Dec 1949 | British Newspaper Archive

    NB In the 1950's Ian Hamilton Hay is shown in UK passenger lists as a civil servant & in his father probate as a company director.
  10. Thanks Travers. Since I started this thread, I have made some interesting discoveries. Apparently John F was in the American secret service and I have found him using various aliases. Also, his father Bernard also seems to have been in the british and american secret services, could even have been a double agent!
  11. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    An interesting family all round & at least you know it was his sister in law Sarah Burwood who gave the photo to the IWM

    Unless I can get a full copy of the 1944 newspaper report in post 49, I think the last I can offer is this alternative source about American Airmen in the RAF & RCAF in WW2.

    IMMIGRANTS OF WAR -: No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron

    Best wishes with your search.
  12. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Then how do you know this man is the "real deal". I still find no actual facts or proveable connections that John L Flynn or John F Flynn, or John Van Liew Flynn, was ever in the RAF, or was in Orkney in Sept or Oct 1941 (mothers birth date given as June 1942). If he was in the Secret Service then tracing him would be very difficult by the very nature he would be using aliases to cover his trail/tracks
    Have you sent off for RAF records?

  13. I have not sent off for RAF records, need to be next of kin to get anything meaningful . I have mapped nearly 700 members of my family tree from the 3 known grandparents. That leaves the missing link ones. From there I have mapped through the closest links 2nd-4th cousins. The consistent connection/match are the flynn Ireland/USA. From there I have mapped down to the correct timeline to identify potentials. 3 of them remained. I knew he had been killed, that left one. I then saw his photo and the family resemblance and went deeper into his family tree, mapping all the women who married into his family, looking for DNA matches I shared with them. As these are quite unusual surnames (Dutch descent) I found matches to all of them. Unless a member of each of their families married into the Flynn line that would be impossible. So as you say the secret service connection makes it difficult to go further but I am certain this is the correct bloodline from the DNA. He was in eagle squadron 71 killed in 1942 at St Omer. (Source American air museum). As to proving he was in Orkney with the secret service connection, almost impossible. There was a lot of activity there and a lot was covert, so he could have been there but no record recorded, he was certainly in the UK and flying at that time.
  14. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    That only really applies if he died within the last 25 years

    What is held
    The MOD is the custodian of the records of service personnel and Home Guard records until they are opened to general public access at the National Archives.
    Subject to the payment of an administration fee and provision of a copy of a death certificate (except where death was in service), certain information can be provided from the records of service of service personnel on request under the publication scheme.
    Under the scheme, and in recognition of the duty of care owed to the family of the deceased subject, for a period of 25 years following the date of death of the subject and without the consent of the next of kin, MOD will disclose only:
    service number
    place of birth
    date of birth
    date of death where this occurred in service
    the date an individual joined the service
    the date of leaving
    good conduct medals (for example, Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (LS&GCM)), any orders of chivalry and gallantry medals (decorations of valour) awarded, some of which may have been announced in the London Gazette
    After this period, and if it is held, in addition MOD will disclose without the requirement for next of kin consent:
    the units in which he/she served
    the dates of this service and the locations of those units
    the ranks in which the service was carried out and details of campaign medals awarded

    Where the consent of the immediate next of kin has been given for its release to a third party, the 25 year threshold will not apply allowing the release of all the information available under the publication scheme at any time, subject to the payment of an administration fee and the provision of a death certificate (except where death was in service).

    You can use the use the .pdf in post 47 above as proof that he died more than 25 years ago and therefore does not need any other form of proof

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  15. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    The other aspect is that if he was US secret service and then working in Orkney, on for that time, new technology, i.e. presumably some evaluation between Spitfire and Mustang performance, flying/fighting abilities etc etc - I am trying to understand why they would then let him fly intruder missions over France in single seat aircraft.
    If he was shot down and captured with all the information he knew that would, I think, be against US Secret service policy and could be a massive boost for AH and his mates - "hey guys they seem to be developing a better fighter than the Spitfire, what are we going to do about that".

    I have no idea how many secret ervice agents went on to actually fight in the war directly, if any, but would have thought in 1941/1942 a lot of development was going on, and that UK & USA would want to keep away from our European foe as possible.

    Based on my life experiences this is just the way I think around things - all your details could be 100% spot on but am just saying that there are other avenues, or routes to think about.

  16. Thanks TD and for your thinking on this, it all helps and I am open to exploring any available trains of thought. I will request the records & will update the thread with anything I find.
  17. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    Have looked around on the net a little more on the history of the P51 North American Mustang with the RAF.

    Developed in 1940 for the Royal Air Force as the North American Aircraft Company, already producing the Harvard trainer, had production capacity whereas the Curtis Company with its existing models did not. The first order was for 93 P51 Mk1a aircraft. The first aircraft arrived in the UK in October 1941 by ship. About 20 had been lost enroute when ships carrying them were sunk. Of this first order, 20 were used for evaluation. I have not been able to find out where in the UK either the assembly from crated aircraft or the RAF evaluation were located, but an out of the way place such as Orkney may be possible.

    It entered RAF operational service with 26 Squadron at RAF Gatwick in January 1942, in the Army Cooperation/Ground Attack role, rather than as a fighter. This was because of its high altitude performance.

    This is speculation until we see his service records, but I am open minded that due to his existing security clearance & then current combat experience with the aircraft being compared, the Spitfire, the 71 Sq pilot John F or Van Liew Flynn was involved in these development/comparison trials. Also I assume that combat pilots were posted away from active squadrons for rest periods & training appointments & this may be the case ?

    Tracing Grandad: I assume you have seen the US military school yearbook pages on ancestry for both John & Fred Van Liew Flynn. John is the same man as the 71 sq pilot, as photos match, and it says he is going on to Notre Dame University, a Catholic University not far from Illinois, as mentioned in his CWGC entry.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
  18. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hmm - that seems contradictory - using a high altitude performing aircraft in a ground attack role ???

  19. Vintage Wargaming

    Vintage Wargaming Well-Known Member

    Remember these would be the early Allison engined machines which had poor high altitude performance - to be fair this was how I read travers1040’s post. I think it was Winkle Brown who suggested after test flying it putting a Merlin in instead of the Allison and the rest was history.
  20. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    In 1940 a British Government Purchasing Commission in the US, was looking to order US manufactured fighter aircraft. At that time the only existing model that met European standards was the Curtiss P40 Tomahawk & they approached North American Aviation to manufacture this plane. But NAA said they could have a better aircraft using the P40's readily available Allison engine in the air sooner than establishing a production line for the P40.

    Ronald Harker, a Rolls Royce test pilot is credited with suggesting replacing the Allison engine with the Rolls Royce Merlin 61. This version first flew in Oct 1942 at Rolls Royce's Hucknall airfield. It delivered over 10% more on mph, 30% more on horse power & increased the service ceiling to almost 42,000 ft. The Alison engined version had started to loose power at 15, 000 feet. With drop tanks the Mustang was now able to escort USAAF B17's deep into Germany at high altitude.

    Winkle Brown did test the Mustang in March 1944 at RAE Farnborough & noted his comparisons to the Spitfire.

    North American P-51 Mustang - Wikipedia

    Mustang! - Documents

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