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Pilot Officer Arthur Geary, DFC: RIP 13 April 1941

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Pilot Officer Arthur Geary, DFC: RIP 13 April 1941

Old 12th Apr 2021, 07:14
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Pilot Officer Arthur Geary, DFC: RIP 13 April 1941

It is 80 years since my third cousin, Pilot Officer Arthur Geary, DFC, died in his Blenheim during a raid on German troops in Greece, the infamous Easter Sunday raid.

Son of a well-known baker in Edmonton, North London, he was born there in 1909. He became wireless operator on the cargo ship SS Silverlarch and later sound engineer for various London film studios before running a radio servicing business in Edmonton. In 1939 he earned his Royal Aero Club Aviator’s Certificate on the Gipsy Moth at the Herts and Essex Aero Club at Broxbourne.

He joined the RAFVR and in April 1940 was commissioned Acting Pilot Officer. He was posted to 211 Squadron as wireless operator/air gunner and flew in the Blenheim Mk I in the Western Desert, usually in the aircraft of the Commanding Officer, Squadron Leader Gordon-Finlayson, with observer Pilot Officer Gerald Davies.

In November 1940 the squadron moved to Greece, notably operating from Paramythia in the mountainous north from February 1941. In April 1941 Germany invaded Yugoslavia and broke through the Monastir Gap into Greece. On Easter Sunday, 13 April 1941, six Blenheims left Paramythia to attack German forces advancing southward near Florina. Leading was the new CO, Squadron Leader Anthony Irvine, with Gerald Davies and Arthur Geary. Unfortunately three Bf109E were patrolling and the Blenheims were shot down one by one. The last survivor, the leading Blenheim L8478, seems to have escaped being shot down but, climbing into cloud at more than 5000 feet, hit the mountains. All six aircraft were lost that day together with all but two of their 18 crew. These two survivors reached the airfield at Larissa and were evacuated by two Lysanders, one of which was immediately shot down and its passenger killed. The crew of L8478 is buried at the Phaleron War Cemetery in Athens.

RIP Arthur and all your comrades, and thanks for what you did.

Comprehensive information about 211 Squadron, including details of the Easter Sunday raid, can be found in Don Clark’s excellent site No. 211 Squadron RAF . I could not have pieced together my cousin’s story without his aid.

Laurence Garey
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