Mosquito.

The Squadron Crest of 96, a night fighter Mosquito unit from RAF West Malling

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Following a recent inquiry we have been able carry out research on behalf of the son of  Flying Officer John Cecil Owen Allan Service No 159499, RAF to find out more about his fathers RAF career and also to source replacement medals and Kings Crown RAF wings and officers cap badge.

 There are still many family members and relatives who still are not aware of what their father, grandfather or relatives were up to during the war. Many are now in advanced years of age, some still not prepared to talk about the war and others who were unfortunately killed in action during the war.

The son of Flying Officer John Cecil Owen Allan was one such relative seeking more information about his father. He had not know about his real father until late in life, then found out that he had been killed on the night of the 7th June, flying the DH Mosquito. He had a name, rank and service number but did not know where to start his search.

Often relatives are not aware that for service personnel who were killed in action during WW2, the best place to start is often the commonwealth war graves commission website. This will request that you fill in details such as forename, surname, rank if known, service number and service enlisted in. The search will yield information about the casualty, often a squadron and location of the victims grave or memorial. This is a good starting point.

From here with RAF  air crew casualties you can now go online to the National Archives Website, armed with a squadron number and search for information in the Squadron  Operational Record Books.

Buying Collections Of Military Items

These are catalogued under the squadron and you will need to put in a year in to the request. The best date to start is the casualties date of death. You will need to search for the month you require as the operational record books are in months. There are two records for each month, the record of events and the summary of events. If you are looking for the aircraft details and individual raids that your relative took part in, the record of events will be more helpful.

War Relics Purchased

The summary of events will give an overview of operations for the squadron that month and often postings and awards. These can be purchased on line and downloaded to your PC. This will give you an idea of the circumstances of the relatives death, type of operation, aircraft, crews etc. If the relative served in a fighter squadron you can now also search the National Archives for Combat Reports which would have been filed by the pilots after air combat.

For relatives and also medal collectors, another resource is to apply to RAF Cranwell for the service records of the deceased if they were of commissioned rank through the RAF Disclosures section. If the casualty was killed in action, non -relatives can apply for these records, you will need to supply as much information as you can but as a minimum, name, rank and number. They normally charge £30 and it can take up to 20 weeks, the records that come back will normally give date of enlistment, promotions, awards, squadrons etc. These can be very useful.

For officers who survived the war, relatives only can apply and will need to supply a copy of a death certificate.

For a few hours search on the internet you can now find out quite a bit of information that previously would have required you to hire the services of a professional researcher or spend hours your self at the national archives.

 As for F\O Allan, we managed to find out he was flying night fighter Mosquitoes with 96 Squadron and was providing cover over the D-Day beaches, flying from RAF West Malling. He was killed in action 7th June 1944 and is remembered on the Runneymede memorial

No. 96 Squadron began its Second World War existence as No. 422 Flight, a night fighter unit equipped with the Hurricane. The flight was redesignated as No. 96 Squadron on 18 December 1940, and continued to operate as a night fighter unit until the end of 1944.

For the first two years of its existence the squadron had to make do with the Hurricane and the Boulton Paul Defiant, neither ideal night fighters. However in May 1942 it received the Bristol Beaufighter, and in June 1943 the de Havilland Mosquito, both aircraft well suited to the night fighter role.

From 1940 until April 1943 the squadron was used as a defensive night fighter unit. From April-June 1943 it used its Beaufighters to fly intruder missions over occupied Europe, but when the Mosquitoes arrived the squadron began to prepare for a move overseas.

This move was soon cancelled, and from August 1943 to June 1944 the squadron reverted to its defensive duties. No.96 squadron took part in the D-Day landings, providing night fighter cover over the invasion beaches in the expectation that the Germans would launch heavy night attacks on the beaches. After D-Day the squadron moved back to defensive duties, this time operating against V-1 flying bombs that were hitting London at night

Allan and his observer had some success as a night fighter crew and had claimed a JU88 earlier in 1944, a picture of him was sourced through the imperial war museum web site and his son had never seen a picture of his father. We also managed to obtain copies of his squadron operational record books so that his son had copies of the entries for the date his father was killed in action, giving details of the operation, the aircraft and the circumstances as well as giving him an idea of what the unit had been up to that month.

His son also wanted copies of the medals his father would have been awarded and badges that he would have worn on his uniform, which we sourced in his behalf.  It is always nice to be able to help in cases such as this, his son can now frame the medals and badges, a fitting tribute to his father that he never knew.

Mark Hillier

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