Norway 1945.

Discussion in 'Scandinavia' started by High Wood, Jun 18, 2015.

  1. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    This photograph has only, 'Norway 1945' written on the back so I have no idea of where in Norway it was taken or who took it. They seem to be RAF types.
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. papiermache

    papiermache WO 356 Mechanic

    Thanks for posting the picture. The man pictured to the right of the two sergeants and in line with the flagstaff could be someone I first met in 1987, when he was a bit larger, and who died in South Africa in December 1998. ( I think one of the Sergeants was the skipper and was called Ernie and lived in Hertfordshire, possibly Biggleswade, in the 1990's.)

    Dennis Whittaker was part of the crew of an Air Sea Rescue launch and had served as such in Malta during the long air bombardment, then moved to Sicily, and then to Belgium.

    I don’t know the number of the vessel but the unit could be 33 Air-Sea Rescue:

    “ 33 Air-Sea Rescue Marine Craft Unit ( ASRMCU), Calshot (UK) later moved to Ostend, Belgium and Norway ( description of AIR 29/447 at Kew )”.

    He did not say much about his medal, which was found after his death, except to say that everyone got one. Having known him, I rather believe he would have been upset that more people had not been saved.

    London Gazette 14th September 1945 Supplement 37272 page 4642

    “ 1959633 Leading Aircraftman Dennis Whitaker, RAFVR.

    On the 16th April, 1945, LAC Whitaker was a member of the crew of a high speed launch engaged in attempting the rescue of personnel from a burning oil tanker. Ammunition was continuously exploding on the tanker and the sea in the immediate vicinity was ablaze with burning petrol, except for a confined space round the bows of the tanker. Nevertheless, this airman made unceasing efforts to get a lifeline to reach the crew, and eventually, with complete disregard for his own safety, he entered the water himself to help to achieve this. As a result of his efforts, one seaman was saved. The cool courage and devotion to duty of Leading Aircraftman Whitaker set a fine example to his fellow crew members.”

    Of course, I could be wrong, but Dennis Whittaker was definitely in Norway as crew of an HSL in 1945, so he will not have been far away when the picture was taken. What is more, his future wife was also there, serving in the WRAF. Dennis went on to make a career in the millinery trade, retiring in the 1980's as Managing Director of Kangol.
     
  3. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    This is the reason why I collect old photographs. The old maxim that every picture tells a story is very true. I wish that I could tell you more about the photograph. I may have a few related items that came with it. I have had the photograph for many years and only now that I have joined this forum have I realised that others are interested in seeing them.

    If I have other related items they almost certainly came from a house clearance and probably belonged to the man who has the X above his head.

    Is this chap Dennis Whitaker?
     

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  4. papiermache

    papiermache WO 356 Mechanic

    Thanks for enlarging the picture of the person I believe is Dennis Whitaker. He used to love sport and played water polo before the war which resulted in a broken nose. He said that he started smoking when he joined up after signing up in September 1939, but often wished he hadn't.

    I recall now that (he told nobody about the fact when he was alive) it emerged that when operating out of Malta his HSL had been attacked by a German fighter and he was wounded. At least one other crew member was killed in the attack, including the skipper. I think they had a very eventful time, including having their billets in Malta bombed and their bedding destroyed.
     
  5. papiermache

    papiermache WO 356 Mechanic

    I've got this account from a website about Malta Family History:

    http://website.lineone.net/~remosliema/airmen191570.htm

    Leading Aircraftsman Thomas P. Griffiths, 95947, serving at Kalafrana RAF Base, killed 4th February 1942. Crew of the Rescue Launch HSL129. They left Kalafrana late afternoon 4th February 1942 and were attacked by enemy aircraft off Benghisa Point. Aircraftsman Gerry R. King was in the forward gun turret and was killed by a wound to his head. Flying Officer Nicholls, the Skipper, was hit in the stomach and collapsed in the wheelhouse. First Coxswain Corporal Theo Nielsen, was killed at the helm. Corporal Cooper, the 2nd Coxswain had his left hand shattered by a cannon shell but managed to take the wheel. Leading Aircraftsman Griffiths, in the rear gun turret was severely wounded, and later died. Also wounded were DENNIS WHITTAKER, Aircraftsman 2nd Class Norton, and the Wireless Operator Jock Muir. The launch arrived back at Kalafrana, but its condition and the deaths of crew members appalled the whole base. It was taken up the slipway for repairs. Sergeant Lord, 1st Fitter, went to hospital for a check-up, before returning to commence carrying out the repairs.
     
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