Unknown Navigator, D.F.M. West Bromwich connection.

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by High Wood, Jun 3, 2018.

  1. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    I post this photograph of an unknown Navigator in the vain hope that it might just trigger a response from someone. The little that I know is that the photograph was taken in a studio in West Bromwich in the Midlands. This may have been his home town or the nearest town to where he was stationed. I have a separate album with other photographs of him taken in Durban, South Africa; presumably he was en route to either the Middle East or India.

    Any thoughts as to who he is would be welcome.

    pc 003.JPG pc 004.JPG
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2018
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  2. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Is there any indication in the photograph that the gallantry award might be the Distinguished Flying Cross and the officer a member of the RAAF?

    The reason that I ask is that the photographs came from a house clearance along with a post WW2 AB64 for a soldier with the surname Murtha. By coincidence there was an Australian Pilot Officer, James Dewar Murtha (AUS 23409) who was awarded the DFC whilst serving with 10 Squadron RAF. (London Gazette: 17th November 1944). A long shot but it would be good to rule him in or out.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2018
  3. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    In the Durban photograph album there is a photograph of the same man with a colleague called Jack, sitting in a rickshaw. The caption reads. "Jack and Ossie", which may strengthen the Australian connection if Ossie was a nickname.

    Attached Files:

  4. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    I have now found that James Dewar Murtha was a second pilot with the Australian airline QAL and was killed in the crash of a Lockheed Lodestar in 1949. A notice in a newspaper memorial column gives his wife's name as Queenie. A further connection with the U.K. is confirmed when I checked FreeBMD and found this 1944 marriage:

    Marriages Sep 1944

    BUSH Queenie M (Murtha) Bristol 6a 495

    MURTHA James D (Bush) Bristol 6a 495

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 4, 2018
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  5. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    MURTHA JAMES DEWAR : Service Number - 23409 : Date of birth - 18 Sep 1920 : Place of birth - BRISBANE QLD : Place of enlistment - BRISBANE : Next of Kin - MURTHA QUEENIE

    Records are not yet digitised, unfortunately


    Australia Death Index, 1787-1985
    Name James Dewar Murtha
    Death Date 10 Mar 1949
    Death Place Queensland
    Father's Name John Henry
    Mother's Name Mabel Shaw
    Registration Year 1949
    Registration Place Queensland
    Registration Number B021013
    Page number 1627

    England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005
    Name: James D Murtha
    Date of Registration: Jul-Aug-Sep 1944
    Registration district: Bristol
    Inferred County: Gloucestershire, Somerset
    Spouse: Queenie M Bush
    Volume Number: 6a
    Page Number: 495

    Australian Electoral Rolls, 1901-1954
    Name James Dewar Murtha
    Gender Male
    Electoral Year 1943
    Subdistrict Nambour
    State Queensland
    District Wide Bay
    Country Australia
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  6. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member


    many thanks for the extra information. I need to stress at this stage that I have no direct evidence that the officer in the photographs is James Dewar Murtha, RAAF.

  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    I understand that - just posting what I can find. Also we now know the limit of info available for him, and that if more is needed then we need to pay for his file to be opened - its all for future reference.
    Sometimes something will be thrown up that will help connect some dots and hey presto it starts falling into place

    Looks as though they had 1 daughter
    England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2007
    Name: Dorothy J Murtha
    Registration Date: 1945
    Registration district: Bristol
    Inferred County: Avon
    Re-registration Year: 1945
    Mother's Maiden Name: Bush
    Volume Number: 6a
    Page Number: 327

    and that she may have emigrated to USA
    U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007
    Dorothy Jean Murtha

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  8. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    I have cracked it and by the simplest method possible, i.e. by going back to the house clearance dealer and asking if he had anything from the same clearance, luckily he had. I bought a bundle of wedding photographs with the same man in them and an invitation to a dance. One, just one of the wedding photographs had the name Shipley on the reverse. The invitation invites a Mrs J.J Shipley to a dance, to be held in the Officer's Mess at the RAF station, Market Harborough on 8th November 1944.

    Clearly getting the Murtha pay book from the same dealer was a red herring, the other Murtha with the DFC was just a coincidence.
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  9. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    London Gazette 1st August 1944. Page 3572

    Distinguished Flying Cross.

    Pilot Officer William Robert HORNE (174626), R.A.F.V.R., 9 Squadron.

    Distinguished Flying Medal.

    1204986 Flight Sergeant John Joseph SHIPLEY, R.A.F.V.R., 9 Squadron.

    This officer and airman were pilot and navigator respectively of an aircraft detailed to attack a target in Western Germany. When approaching the target the aircraft was struck by shrapnel and went into a steep dive. Considerable height was lost before. Pilot Officer Home regained control. The starboard engine and the rear turret had caught fire, whilst the mid-upper turret was badly damaged. Both gunners were wounded. Nevertheless the fire in the turret was brought under control and, when Pilot Officer Horne feathered the defective engine, the flames died away. Course was set for home and finally Pilot-Officer Horne flew the badly damaged and defenceless aircraft to an airfield. Throughout the homeward flight Flight Sergeant Shipley proved a tower of strength. Although deprived of the full use of his instruments he guided his pilot home with unerring skill. This officer and airman displayed skill, courage and devotion to duty of a high order.

    London Gazette 29th August 1944. Page 3997

    Flight Sergeants

    18th June 1944.

    1204986 John Joseph SHIPLEY (179378).
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2018
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  10. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007
    Name: John Joseph Shipley
    Death Age: 88
    Birth Date: 13 Dec 1914
    Registration Date: Mar 2003
    Registration district: Sandwell
    Inferred County: West Midlands
    Register Number: C68
    District and Subdistrict: 070/1C

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  11. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Looking through 9th Squadron's Operation Record Book, (AIR 27/128), for 1944, I may have identified the incident.

    24th March 1944. Target Berlin. Lancaster W4964. Time up: 19:04 Time down 02:21.
    F/Sgt W R Horne, Sgt T W Powell, F/Sgt J J Shipley, Sgt T J Johnson, Sgt J H McReery, Sgt R A Morton, Sgt J S Parkes.

    Primary attacked 22:53 hours, 23,000ft. Red T.I.s in sights. fires scattered over wide area. Aircraft hit by Flak over Ruhr area. Damage to fuselage, main plane, turrets and starboard outer engine. Captain and Rear Gunner injured.
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  12. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    For Information

    1939 England and Wales Register
    Name: John J Shipley
    Gender: Male
    Marital Status: Single
    Birth Date: 13 Dec 1914
    Residence Year: 1939
    Address: 147
    Residence Place: West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England
    Occupation: School Teacher
    Schedule Number: 389
    Sub Schedule Number: 2
    Enumeration District: OPBU
    Registration district: 371/1
    Household Members:
    Rose N Shipley
    John J Shipley


    Rose was born 1885 so I assume she is his mother
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  13. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Florence L Jordan and John Joseph Shipley at their wedding in 1942.

    Attached Files:

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  14. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Mrs J.J. Shipley's dance invitation.

    Attached Files:

  15. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005
    Name: John J Shipley
    Date of Registration: Apr-May-Jun 1942
    Registration district: West Bromwich
    Inferred County: Staffordshire
    Spouse: Florence L Jordan
    Volume Number: 6b
    Page Number: 2019


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