Please find attached the photo for the March 14th - May 19th intake in 1938. I have put the names below, but I was interpreting my uncles' handwriting,so I can only hope I got them right.
Here is a potted history of my uncle Colin after the war started:-
He trained as a Wireless Operator/ Air Gunner and after passing out was posted to 103 Squadron, flying Wellingtons out of RAF Newton in Nottinghamshire. His first Op was to Emden in Germany on 10/05/41.In July the Squadron transferred to RAF Elsham Wolds, near Brigg in Lincolnshire. His first Op from here was a daylight raid against Brest in Brittany, presumably against the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau.
On his 20th mission on 24/10/41 the aircraft got lost in cloud returning from Frankfurt. They were down to their last 10 minutes of fuel when they found a break in the cloud and all the lights below meant they were over Eire, which was neutral and not subject to blackouts, and they all bailed out successfully. They were very near the west coast of Eire and another 10
minutes of blind flying would have meant baling out into the Atlantic. They were all quickly rounded up by the Garda Irish Police and sent to the internment camp at The Curragh. There was also a German internment camp at The Curragh for any of their flyers or sailors that ended up in Eire. This was to preserve strict neutrality.
The internees were allowed to sign themselves out on an Honour System, whereby they promised not to abscond after leaving the camp on parole. The internees could go to pubs, dances, socials etc., but had to sign back into the camp by 02.00 am ... a tough regime or what!! The only prisoner to break his parole was an American flying in the RAF. The Irish authorities immediately cancelled all parole privileges, which obviously did not go down well with the remaining internees. When the British authorities found out, he was returned to Eire and re-interned. He was beaten up on his return ... surprise surprise!!
One day uncle signed himself out and went for a pint. The navigator from his aircraft was also signed out and when he returned he was given Uncle Colin's form, which he immediately signed "C Dalton ".Another guy was dispatched to find Uncle Colin in the pub, where he was told to "bugger off, you've just escaped ". He stole a bike, a big stain on the family reputation, and managed to evade capture and pedal the 80 odd miles back into Northern Ireland.
Of the six crew in the Wellington, two remained in Ireland and married local women, four went back into Squadron service, of which two Uncle Colin and the Navigator who signed his parole form were killed. As the war swung
against Germany, Eire released all the RAF allied prisoners. The pilot Ralph Keefer went onto Spitfires doing photo reconnaissance and the navigator, Jack Carter, went onto Mosquitoes. Jack was shot down in the Elbe estuary
near Hamburg and drowned before the Germans could rescue him.
After his "escape" uncle Colin was re-trained onto Lancasters and he joined 156 Squadron, part of No. 8 Pathfinder Group, at RAF Wyton near Huntingdon. He flew his first 156 Squadron mission against Duisburg in Germany on 26/06/43.With 156 Squadron he helped bomb targets mainly in Germany (including the V1/V2 Flying Bomb Establishment at Peenemunde), France and even Italy. He flew a total of 23 Ops with 156 Squadron before being shot down by a night fighter over Munich just before midnight on 06/09/43. In his last 5 days of his life, he flew 4 missions, intense or what?
He is buried in The Durnbach War Graves Commission Cemetery, some 30 miles south of Munich. It is a "small" cemetery containing some 2,500 graves, mainly RAF but also POWs who died in captivity. I have visited a couple of times and I noted that a large number of the Army graves were dated immediately prior to the end of the war. It then struck me that these guys probably died in the forced marching of prisoners from the East, in freezing winter conditions and with limited clothing, to avoid the advancing Russians.
The grave of my uncle was not found until 1946 and as I was born in 1947, I inherited his name. As his grave had not been found, there was no confirmation of death, only a presumption, and his name was not on the village War Memorial. I noted this omission, as the War Memorial was near to the junior school and we used to play around it. This omission was promptly rectified once I was older, and I am pleased and proud to say his name is now where it rightfully belongs.
Best Regards. Colin Dalton "
Colin later added the following
" Hello Jane,
I hope you didn't find my reply too long winded, but as you probably gather I have a lot of respect, pride and admiration for my late uncle. I know he was not out of the ordinary, and just one of 55,000 that didn't come home from Bomber Command, but when I think of his death at 21 years old it really hits home.
Slight correction to my previous communication, his service with 156 Squadron was at RAF Warboys, which was a satellite station of RAF Wyton. The pilot of the Wellington from which they bailed out was a guy called Ralph Keefer who was gathering a lot of information about his wartime experiences and I communicated with him in the 1980's. He planned to write a book, but Alzheimer’s' disease prevented him from doing so. It was published, however, by his son Ralph Keefer Jnr. and is called "Grounded in Eire", from which I got some of the information I passed on. Ralph Snr also passed on to me a copy of a letter from one of the Wellington crew who had married and remained in Ireland.
I also got in touch with one of the four survivors from his Lancaster and he told me they were shot down by a night fighter. I have also got my late uncles' Flying Log Book, which is also a great source of information."
We are extremely fortunate to have learned of this young man and feel honoured to record his story here. Thank you Colin for sharing his life with us.