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Wg Cdr Arthur Gill, OBE, DFC

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Wg Cdr Arthur Gill, OBE, DFC

Old 2nd May 2016, 09:32
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Wg Cdr Arthur Gill, OBE, DFC

Wing Commander Arthur Gill died on March 4th, aged 100.

Wing Commander Arthur Gill obituary

Called up from the RAFVR at the outbreak of WW2, he remained in the RAF until retirement at 55. His obituary in the Telegraph highlights his service as a dive-bomber pilot on Vultee A-31 Vengeance a/c with 84 Sqn during the Burma campaign. The squadron had previously operated Blenheims in theatres including North Africa, but had been decimated when the Japanese overran Sumatra and Java.

"Gill was greatly admired by his staff. Members of the current 84 Squadron flew from Cyprus to join him in celebrating his 100th birthday. He died a few hours after they left the party."

Last edited by Chris Scott; 15th Jun 2016 at 15:10. Reason: Title change to reflect protocol of decorations priority as per Tankertrashnav post#20
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Old 2nd May 2016, 11:01
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RIP, Sir.

What a way to go ... hours after your 100th Birthday Party.

I await Danny42C's input.
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Old 2nd May 2016, 11:56
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Till we meet again, Sir.

MPN11,

100 ! (hope yet for us all). Only knew him briefly, as he took 110 under his wing at Madhaiganj, when we were between C.O.s, and someone had to sign the log-books. Vague memory of a very courteous gentleman. His people thought the world of him.

As a way to go, second only to Ovid (?) - "Long may I linger in the arts of Venus, and when I die may I perish in the act".... (Google probably has the full reference).

Requiescat in Pace,

Danny.
 
Old 2nd May 2016, 17:08
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Danny42C ... I sincerely hope that the PPRuNe gathering for your 100th doesn't have a similar result!

What's the collective noun for a gathering of Air Traffickers? A 'Prevent'?
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Old 2nd May 2016, 22:38
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RAF - 84 Squadron


Japanese forces overran the Sqn in Java and all were taken prisoner except a small party including the CO and 11 aircrew

http://www.84squadron.co.uk/html/history.html

...finally from Java, where at Tilatjap they were finally overrun. All were taken prisoner, except for a small party consisting of the CO and 11 aircrew, who escaped in a 28-foot ship's lifeboat named HMRAFS 'Scorpion'. This crew sailed from Java to Australia in 44 days, living largely on 960 cans of American beer found in the boat.


There's more to be told on this story, I'll see if I can dig it out. If anyone has access to newspaper archives, maybe through their library, search for "Escape from Java"
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Old 3rd May 2016, 09:39
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Gilding Lilies

Chris Scott and MPN11,

Have now had the chance to read the Telegraph Obituary carefully, and it takes nothing away from the reputation of a great and gallant gentleman to say that his Obituarist has, shall we say, "gone over the top" more than somewhat.

First, a minor detail: "The Vengeance crews placed their two 500lb bombs with great accuracy, sometimes only 100 yards ahead of Allied Troops". All the Vengeance flown on operational sorties carried 2x500 GP internally and 2x250 GP under the wings. There was no reason for them to carry less, and they could not carry more. The "100 Yards" is right. And what's this "near vertical dive" ? They were designed to dive vertically, and they were dived vertically.

The general impression left on the reader is that 84 Sqdn were the "only show (with Vengeances) in town". It is reminiscent of Errol Flynn's "Objective Burma", where the (whole) part played by British, Indian and Gurkha troops is completely ignored, and you come way thinking that Flynn reconquered Burma all by himself (Google > Objective Burma 1945 > Objective, Burma! liberating cinema from the truth | Film ...News, sport and opinion from the Guardian's US edition | The Guardian Arts Movies South and Central Asia).

Four RAF Squadrons (45, 82, 84, and 110) and two IAF (7 and 8) operated the Vengeance in Burma. All were taken off "ops" at the onset of the '44 Monsoon (Why ? - but that is another story).

45, 82 and 110 started in spring '43, did a bit before the monsoon, started again in October and carried on till the (premature !) end at the onset of the '44 monsoon. 84 arrived on the scene only on 16.2.44. and operated to 16.7.44. (D.Tel). Five months, true - but as the last two were monsoon months, only three in fact (you cannot dive-bomb through cloud - the dog must see the rabbit !) We (110 and 8 IAF), who had "borne the heat and burden of the day" feel a bit miffed.

"Formations of 14 and 24" are pure moonshine. The most I ever heard of was 12 - and I only flew in one of those in the first of my 52 sorties and never again. The reason is simple: the 'clear and present' danger of a formation being intercepted by "Oscars" on its way to the target. The (mistaken, IMHO) policy was to stand and fight. As our gunners (and some of our back-seaters were navs who'd never even touched a Browning) would be most unlikely to hit anything except their own tails (for there was nothing to stop that happening), our only defence lay in vigorous avoiding action. One VV is about as nimble as an arthritic tortoise, a box of six in formation much less so. Anything more - forget it. Fresh in the mind was the night, a year before, when a 'vic' of three "Bettys" was approaching Calcutta - with a F/Sgt Pring creeping stealthily up the rear in a Beau. As the "Bettys" gallantly stuck together when he opened fire (instead of scattering), he bagged the lot in 30 seconds. Made us think. Thank God it never occurred to the Jap High Command to set the Oscars on us (the 'Why Not ?" is another of the unsolved mysteries of the War).

Nice pic of the huge VV cockpit. At least it looks like one. And yet, and yet... The seat back looks funny. Why is he wearing a leather helmet, and not 'cloth, tropical' ? What are those railings doing behind ? (never remember anything like that anywhere in India). Perhaps, it's just me.

DFC ? - Yes, certainly, and I'm sure he earned it - but not in a VV ! (you could die of old age in one of those).

Could go on for miles, but much too long already. Long session at dentist this afternoon - wish me luck !

Danny.
 
Old 3rd May 2016, 10:09
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How do you do, Danny 42C,

Thanks for that fascinating insight. Had no idea, on casually posting that link, that the obit. would be subjected to such expert scrutiny.

Quote:
'...it takes nothing away from the reputation of a great and gallant gentleman to say that his Obituarist has, shall we say, "gone over the top" more than somewhat.'

Must admit to having wondered on seeing reference to the 'supersonic' Hunter...

CS
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Old 3rd May 2016, 10:16
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MPN11,
What's the collective noun for a gathering of Air Traffickers? A 'Prevent'?
A Perplexity ?; A Bafflement ?; A Despair ?

Danny.
 
Old 3rd May 2016, 10:20
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A "Local".......................
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Old 3rd May 2016, 10:23
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"A Tea Ceremony".........
 
Old 3rd May 2016, 11:29
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A (cigarette) "smokescreen".............................
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Old 3rd May 2016, 11:30
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A "letdown".............
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Old 3rd May 2016, 11:38
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A de-confliction, shurley?
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Old 3rd May 2016, 11:50
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Thanks, oxenos ... although I rather like the unkind "Letdown" from Wander00

Danny42C ... I can't relate to your offering, as I was never perplexed, baffled, or despairing. But then I was VERY good
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Old 3rd May 2016, 12:39
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Not meant unkindly, very tongue in check. A controller probably saved my life many years ago
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Old 3rd May 2016, 14:38
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Not meant unkindly, very tongue in check. A controller probably saved my life many years ago
Taken in the intended spirit, I assure you. We Traffickers are sometimes maligned, but we do have our uses occasionally!

Anyway ... Arthur Gill
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Old 3rd May 2016, 18:43
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MPN11,
...... I can't relate to your offering, as I was never perplexed, baffled, or despairing...
......Which shows you didn't fully appreciate the gravity of the situation !

Danny.
 
Old 3rd May 2016, 18:48
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Old 3rd May 2016, 20:00
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I believe Arthur Gill's DFC may have had something to do with a PR Spitfire but have no details.
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Old 4th May 2016, 09:21
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You wait ages for a bus then two come along at once!

I had no knowledge whatsoever about the Vultee Vengeance until I stumbled on Danny's fascinating account of his time on them a while back. I was at a small squadron reunion of contemporaries of mine last month and I asked if any of them knew that the RAF had dive bombers in WW2, and none did (they know quite a bit about the Vultee Vengeance now!). Back to the obit, 100 is a great age, and what a way to go - just a few hours after your birthday party!

Small quibble about the thread title - that should be Wing Commander Arthur Gill, OBE, DFC. Orders take precedence over decorations, with the exception of the Victoria Cross which invariably precedes all other awards.
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