Pilot Officer Hughes and Sergeant Gash

This is post number 30 on this blog.

Little did I know someone was looking for Fred Gash back in the 70s.

Collection Gérard Pelletier

In the 70s I was a history teacher too young to be teaching history. In fact in 34 years as a teacher, I only taught history for two years to 12 year-old students in Montreal-North.

I learned very little about World War II when I was a student in the 50s and 60s. What I had learned was in war movies and in WWII books and comic books. In 2009 I found out that my wife’s uncle was a sailor on HMCS Athabaskan. I got curious when he did not want to tell us more about that faithful night on April 29, 1944.

This led me to write a blog which I named Souvenirs de Guerre. This blog was written in French to pay homage to a kid who lied on his age to join the Royal Canadian Navy. I then created Lest We Forget which is an English version of Souvenirs de guerre when English speaking people started sharing their Souvenirs de guerre or their father’s, uncles’ or grandfathers’ war memories.

Little by little my interest for WWII, which started back in 1958, led me to create more and more blogs like this one. 264 Squadron was created to pay homage to Sergeant Gérard Pelletier.

Sergeant Pelletier’s body was never found. He left an album with hundreds of photos which are all on this blog. Gérard’s niece shared all about her uncle.

Even his log book.

Fred Gash’s photo was one of the photos. He was posing for posterity with “Bubbles” Chandler.

Yesterday someone contacted me about Fred Gash.

I knew Fred Gash in Woking. We dug up a Heinkel that he shot down in 1941. His Pilot was Hawkeye Hughes. I presented him with part of the German bomber

Adam shared these combat reports…



A letter dated 6 December 1978…

A picture of Flight Lieutenant Hughes’ Boulton Paul Defiant.

Pages of his album…

A part of Heinkel 2994 of KG55.

Adam added these notes…

On 12/3 /41 Hughes and Gash intercepted the Heinkel 111 and shot it down over Surrey.

We dug some relics up in 1978/79 as part of an aviation archaeological team,The Air Historical Group based in Surrey. We had full Ministry permission to excavate as well as the farm owner.
Combat report showing Fred’s signature.

Desmond Hughes mentions Fred’s eyesight in his letter to me.

This is another combat report involving Fred .The Dornier has been raised and will be restored for the RAF Museum. It is currently at RAF Cosford (see newspaper cutting below).

Above is a photo of Hughes & Fred’s Defiant at either West Malling or Biggin Hill in 1941 showing 5 kills below the cockpit. The badge is the Red Hand of Ulster where Hughes came from originally.

Above is the important Heinkel makers plate showing 2994 which is so important when confirming historical detail. The German pilot baled out and was a POW in Canada for 4 years his name was Brunning.

Naturally Fred’s name is on the Battle if Britain memorial on Westminster a Embankment, London which I have visited

Hope this helps, Adam, Surrey UK

To be continued…

Remembering Sergeant Johnny Trigg and Pilot Officer Dunfee

Sometimes visiting the past might proove difficult and getting every right is sometimes impossible.

Who remembers Sergeant Johnny Trigg and Pilot Officer Dunfee?

Gérard Pelletier did remember them.

Johnny Trigg’s name is found only once in Gérard Pelletier’s logbook.

26-1-42      10.50      DEF. 404      Sgt. Trigg      G.C.I.     1:35

Date: 26-1-42

Take-off time: 10.50

Plane: DEF. 404

Pilot: Sgt. Trigg

Duty: G.C.I. (Ground Controlled Interception)

Flying Time: 1:35

Earlier this year, I made contact with David Moncur whose father was a pilot with 246 Squadron.

Gérard Pelletier and William Moncur

David had a picture of Johnny Trigg  in his father’s collection of World War Two pictures, but he did not know who he was.

William Moncur’s collection courtesy David Moncur

When I first saw the pilot in the cockpit the face looked familiar. Then I compared it with pictures from the Gérard’s album…

Although the pilot was looking much older…I believe Johnny Trigg was the unknown pilot.

Johnny Trigg
Gérard Pelletier’s collection

I have yet to find more information about Sergeant John Trigg. I know he stayed with 264 Squadron and became a Pilot Officer flying Mosquitos with his navigator Sergeant W. Burrells. The information was found in the 264 Squadron ORBs.

Now what about Pilot Officer Dunfee?

His name appears many times in the logbook, but there are no pictures in the album, which I find quite strange with all the pictures Gérard Pelletier took when he was with 264 Squadron.

Dunfee’s name first appears here at Church Fenton, Yorkshire. Dunfee and Pelletier teamed up on April 9th, 1941. 

On May 3rd they had their last practice flight.

It’s no surprise that they were reunited at West Malling with 264 Squadron and started flying together again on May 18th, 1941 doing some air firing.

And the training flights went on and on…

Until June 12th…  when they were flying a ground controlled interception. On May 20th, they were flying on a Havoc co-operation. This operation was probably with the Havoc Turbinlite.

Click here for more…

On January 26th, 1942, they chased a Hun. On the following they flew their last operation together.

After that nothing more…

I could only find this scant information about a Flight Lieutenant G.E. Dunfee who, while flying Mosquito NFXVII HK291, was shot down by friendly fire on August 21, 1944…

125 Squadron
Shot down by own AA on V-1 patrol off Hastings Sussex

Sometimes visiting the past might proove difficult and getting every right is sometimes impossible.

About RAF 125 Squadron…

November 1943 saw the squadron move to RAF Valley in Wales to enable patrols to take place over the Irish Sea. With a conversion to Mosquitos in February 1944, No. 125 moved to RAF Hurn in preparation to cover the Operation Overlord landings in Normandy. It also participated in intercepting Operation Steinbock raids from January to May 1944. With the commencement of V-1 attacks on London the squadron moved to RAF Middle Wallop to assist in the defence and to fly patrols from RAF Bradwell Bay over the Low Countries. A move to RAF Coltishall saw the squadron defend against enemy intruders and flying bomb carriers. whilst undertaking reconnaissance to locate the remainder of German shipping. No. 125 transferred to Yorkshire, where it was disbanded on 20 November 1945.



Sometimes you will get something wrong…

On my ongoing research about Flight Sergeant Gérard Pelletier, sometimes I will get something wrong when I am visiting his past…

Collection William Moncur (original photo)

Collection William Moncur (modified photo)

Collection William Moncur (my first colorised version)

This is the right colorisation done by Doug Banks who told me I had the wrong camouflage.

Thanks to Doug I was thus able to correct my own version colorised version of the original photo shared by William Moncur’s son…

Flight Sergeant E. R. Thorn (pilot, left) and Sergeant F. J. Barker (air gunner) of No 264 Squadron RAF and their Teddy Bear mascot, presented to them by their ground crew, posing with their Boulton-Paul Defiant Mark I at Biggin Hill, Kent, after destroying their first Heinkel He 111, bringing their total of enemy aircraft destroyed to thirteen. These two sergeants became the most successful Defiant partnership of the war. © IWM (CH 2526)

Sometimes visiting the past might proove difficult and getting every right is sometimes impossible.

Ealier this year, Flight Sergeant Pelletier’s niece shared her uncle’s photo album by scanning every page using a high definition setting.

This is the first photo in the album, a photo which has never been seen anywhere before on the Internet.

“We fight by night” is the caption above written by Flight Sergeant Pelletier who is missing in action since September 3, 1942.

This is Flight Sergeant Pelletier on a photo taken in the album.

And this is a colorised version done by Harry Burgess as a tribute to him.

At my request, Gérard’s niece scanned her uncle’s logbook so we could share it with everyone…and learn more on how he trained, fought, and died.


Missing since 3 September, 1942


About the artist

Hi, I’m Harry and I’ve created this page to showcase my efforts in colouring old black/white photographs. Just for fun!

I’ve long been interested in history, especially that of WW2 aviation, so after coming across the likes of communities like Colourising History and a variety of very talented artists, I decided I’d like to try my hand at this.
I do this for fun: I get a sense of satisfaction when I finally complete an image, but what I really like is how a coloured image can make the history it shows somehow more real… or perhaps more ‘relevant’ would be a better term as I find it makes said history easier to connect with. A colourised photo can remind us that the portrayed person isn’t just some distant, long dead curiosity but was once a living, breathing human being just like you and I.

Harry was gracious enough to colorise Gérard Pelletier’s photograph as a tribute to him when I told him I wanted to write something special on September 3rd.

Who are we remembering this morning of September 3rd, 2017?

Gérard Pelletier whose name is not found in any history books like so many unsung heroes.

I write about unsung heroes…

The first one was my wife’s uncle Pierre who came back from the war only to relive probably night after night a nightmare. I wanted to tell his story which led me to write more and more stories, and sharing stories my readers would share like LeClare Walker’s story you probably read on August 19, 2017 on Pacific Paratrooper.

Who was Gérard Pelletier and how did I get his photograph?

It’s all in here for you to read and find stories about unsung heroes of RAF 264 Squadron.

What happened? – Que s’est-il passé?

This is what the only surviving witness told about the crash… The witness wants to remain anonymous.

Conversation avec le témoin le 30 Juin 2017 à 15 heures
(Seul témoin actuel du déroulement du crash du Mosquito)
Crash du Mosquito de la RAF, le 19 septembre 1944.

Le lieu du crash se situe au Bas Langâtre sur la commune de HERBIGNAC. Le village se nomme Langâtre. Dans ce village, il existe le Bas Langâtre et le Haut Langâtre. La commune de MISSILLAC se trouve à 20 mètres environ. La commune de la CHAPELLE des MARAIS se situe à 100 mètres environ.
À 16 heures, le témoin (12 ans en 1944) garde des bœufs dans le pré situé en face du lieu de crash du Mosquito de la RAF. Arrivant sur sa droite, l’avion touche le sol du marais, saute au-dessus du canal. Il heurte une rangée de chênes sur la droite du Mosquito. Il s’immobilise sur une butte dans un champ qui appartient aux parents du témoin. Les aviateurs seront cachés par Monsieur Georges MOYON, sous un pommier dont les branches pendaient jusqu’à terre.

Les Allemands vont suivre l’avion pour faire prisonniers les aviateurs, puis firent des recherches , en vain, autour du lieu de chute de l’avion. Ensuite ils vont incendier l’appareil. Les aviateurs s’habillent en civil et cachent leurs uniformes sous le toit d’une maison à proximité de la maison où habitait les parents du témoin, au 3 rue de la Fontaine pendant cette guerre.

Puis ils seront amenés dans un lieu qui, de nos jours, est la déchetterie de la ville d’HERBIGNAC. Le lieu du crash est toujours la propriété de la famille du témoin. Après la guerre, les deux aviateurs reviendront sur les lieux du crash. Par la suite, un seul aviateur reviendra rendre visite aux habitants.

Aujourd’hui, le témoin reste le seul témoin de cet épisode de la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Voilà ce que le témoin a vu et entendu ce jour-là.

Who remembers George Mullay?

David Moncur sent me this black and white picture with a comment.

I have discovered that the name of the man standing on the wing is George Mullay who was with 603 Squadron during the Battle of Britain. 

Colorised by Pierre Lagacé and edited by a dear friend…

Also the group photo of crew in front of the Spitfire (with Mullay on the far left) was taken at Tangmere in 1948.

David Moncur