About Johnnie Horan

Sharing part of my research with you this morning while having my coffee which is turning cold…


I had seen that face before… I mean the air gunner on the right.

The pilot on the left is Michael Lister Haigh. On the right is the AI operator air gunner who is unidentified of this Website.

http://264squadron.co.uk/gallery/1940-1942/

It’s image 17. No caption but you have the file name that gives you the name of the pilot.

Johnnie Horan’s face is in Flight Sergeant Gerard Pelletier’s photo album.

The Boys at “264” Dispersal

Flight Lieutenant Pelletier added captions to most all the pictures he took.

Bill Moncur and Johnnie Horan

I got more and more curious about Johnnie…

This is what I found out about him on the Internet.


Evening Post, Volume CXXXIX, Issue 16, 19 January 1945, Page 7

SAVED THE CREW

COURAGEOUS GUNNER

DIED AT HIS POST

(R.N.Z.A.F, Official News Service.) AIR COMMAND, STH. EAST ASIA, January 16 [1945].

How the supreme courage of an R.N.Z.A.F, gunner; Flying Officer John Spencer Horan (Auckland), who even though he was fatally wounded, remained at his post, undoubtedly saved the lives of the remainder of the crew of the aircraft, was related at a forward airfield on the Burma front yesterday, by the-pilot of the aircraft concerned.

A Sea Otter rescue aircraft was on a reconnaissance trip off the Akyab coast when it was suddenly discovered that eight Japanese Oscars were on its tail, two of which came in to attack. Flying Officer Horan, gunner in the Sea Otter, opened fire. Two minutes later he reported that he was hit. The first navigator went aft and found him unconscious with his left hand blown off. Recovering consciousness as he was being dragged back into the fuselage, Horan insisted on returning to the guns He jammed them against his chest and continued to hold off the enemy.

WOUNDED AGAIN.
The engine was now on fire, the instrument panel shattered, the flaps shot away, and the tail ablaze. Bullets from the enemy were continually passing through the aircraft. Horan received further wounds on his head, but although these totalled up to seven, his fire never failed. He fired 800 rounds, and was still firing as the pilot managed to land the blazing aircraft outside the breakers and beach her. Flying Officer Horan died immediately.

Two hours later, the remainder of the crew, including the navigator, who also belongs to the R.N.Z.A.F., Flight Sergeant J. A. Lawson (Onehunga) were flying again, and succeeded in rescuing a Spitfire pilot from the sea. The pilot, Flight Lieutenant Peter Almack, of Christchurch, England, insists that Flying Officer Horan saved the lives of the remainder of the crew- Flying Officer Horan, who was 24 years of age, leaves a young wife and infant son in England. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. P. Horan, reside at Manurewa, Auckland. Before he joined the R.N.Z.A.F. in February, 1940, Flying Officer Horan was employed on farm work with Mr. P. N. Anderson at Okoroire. His education was received at the Matamata District High School, and he was prominent in several sports, including cycling. He left New Zealand for the United Kingdom in April, 1940.


 

 

                                  Michael Lister Haigh and John Spencer Horan

I also found this article…


DIMINISHED VALOUR?

Warrant Officers Frank Watkins and John Horan gave their lives to save their crewmates, but were each denied the Victoria Cross because of insufficient evidence. Instead both were mentioned-in-despatches, the only other recognition which could be given posthumously.
Despite considerable lobbying after World War Two, neither award was upgraded, leading to criticism that this diminished their valour and sacrifice.

Frank Watkins was working as a Government clerk when he enlisted into the RNZAF in 1940 as a pilot and was sent to Europe mid-1941.

While attacking Duisberg, Germany, on the night of December 20, 1942, Watkins’ Wellington bomber was seriously damaged from a direct hit. His friend and bomb-aimer Sergeant Brooke-Norris was wounded and could not be removed from the stricken aircraft. Watkins ordered the rest of the crew to parachute to safety while he stayed with the aircraft and tried to crash land it in an attempt to save his friend’s life. Sadly, both men died.

Writing from within captivity Watkins’ crewmates described his actions as the “most outstanding example of love and sacrifice”. These sentiments were echoed by senior officers who all recommended him for the Victoria Cross. However, Air Marshal Arthur “Bomber” Harris did not endorse the recommendations due to insufficient evidence and Watkins was later mentioned-indespatches.

Share-milker John Horan had arrived in Europe earlier in the war, and served as an air-gunner with No. 256 Squadron during the Battle of Britain. Throughout the war, he served with RAF pilot Peter Almack. After completing three tours together, Almack talked Horan into volunteering for a fourth in the Far East.

It was during that tour that Horan’s Sea Otter aircraft was attacked by six Japanese Oscar fighter bombers while conducting reconnaissance in the Bay of Bengal on January 9, 1945. Part of Horan’s left hand was blown off during the fight, but he refused medical aid. He instead returned to his guns, jamming them against his chest and fired over 800 rounds, until he was hit in the chest and head as the aircraft crash landed. The remainder of the crew made it ashore, while Horan could not be freed from the fuselage and sank with the damaged plane.

When his body was washed ashore the following day, he was buried with full military honours. Air Commodore Keith ‘Grid’ Caldwell, the RNZAF Liaison Officer in South East Asia, requested that the award of the Victoria Cross be investigated. However, Base Air Force South East Asia considered there was insufficient evidence to do so, and Horan was instead mentioned-indespatches.

While it is unfortunate that neither servicemen received the Victoria Cross— despite their actions clearly warranting such an award—we should not allow this to diminish their valour and self-sacrifice. Instead it is up to us as an Air Force to preserve their memory and honour their deeds.

Wing Commander Mark Brewer, currently serves in the NZDF Institute for Leader Development. He has a long-running interest in the medallic recognition of service personnel and is currently Vice President of the New Zealand Military Historical Society.

                                  Michael Lister Haigh and John Spencer Horan


I found even more information.

What follows was on a WWII forum.

Hi everyone, I’m new here, and would also be interested in any photos of Sea Otters from 292 Squadron.

My Great Uncle, John Horan (RNZAF), who was an Air Gunner with Pilot F/Lt Peter Almack with 292, was killed in operations on 9 January 1945 in Akyab. They took off from Cox’s Bazaar and were supposed to be undergoing ASR readiness and experimental water landings when 8 Oscars attacked them. There was also a second Otter on operations that day, piloted by F/O Barnett, who had just delivered a Wing Commander and Brigadier to Akyab. On board both Otters were photographers from the Air Ministry film unit.

Uncle Johnny was the only one killed that day, his body found washed up on a beach by members of No 3205 Royal Air Force Servicing Commando.

I would also like to get photos of a Spitfire named “Kiwi’s Revenge”, which was named after Johnny and which flew with 292 after he was killed.

SE Asia was Johnny’s 4th tour, so if anyone knows of any other stories of Johnny during his first three tours these would be greatly appreciated (264 and 277 Squadrons).

Cheers
Wendy

Then a Web article…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/hometruths/0312amazing_coincidence.shtm

Les Horan had been searching for 50 years to find out how his father had died during the Second World War…and little did he know that he would find the answer when he got called out to fix Joe’s washing machine.

Joe and Les holding the plaque that caught Les’ attention

It all began with a broken washing machine.

As an electrician, Les Horan wasn’t surprised to be called to the home of Joe Grainger to fix the washing machine. But when he arrived he noticed an RAF plaque in Joe’s entrance hall.

On enquiring he was told that Joe had been in the Air Force from 1939 to 1946. Les said that his father, a New Zealander, had also been in the Air Force in Burma. Joe was writing the section of his autobiography about his time in Akyab – a tiny island off the coast of Burma. Les knew that his father had died there – he’d been shot down and was buried on the island when Les was only 8 months old.

Les’s father’s grave on Akyab which he hopes to visit one day

By an amazing coincidence Joe was able to give Les detailed information about how exactly his father had been killed. Akyab was an important strategic point for the allied forces during the Second World War. On 9 July 1945 the Japanese shot down a Sea Otter plane which were used for air sea rescue. It had been looking for a suitable landing area at the island when it was attacked.

Les’ father, John Horan, was the air gunner on the Sea Otter. Two out of the three crew members managed to survive the crash land in the sea. But Les’ father was in the rear cabin which was engulfed in flames. Some time later, Joe discovered the wreckage of the Sea Otter and recovered the body of Les’ father. This was an incredibly distressing thing to have to do because he had suffered terrible injuries.

On searching his body, Joe found documents saying that the man was a Warrant Officer called John Horan of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. They took his body back to Akyab and buried it in the civic cemetery.

Les holds a photo of his father together with his father’s medals

Les recalls how he felt when he found out this information: “Lucky I was on my knees fixing the washing machine, otherwise I would have fallen there”. Les didn’t know very much about his father prior to this. Unfortunately, the information about his father had died was never passed on to the New Zealand Air Force and so on enquiring Les couldn’t find out any news.

Since this amazing coincidence eight years ago, Joe and Les have become firm friends. Les calls Joe ‘The Corporal’ and calls his wife ‘Lady Patricia’. Joe has almost become a substitute father to Les. Joe told me that Les’s kindness shows itself all the time.


Finally all this on another forum…

I think it is time to highlight some of the exploits of New Zealanders in the forgotten theatre of India, Burma and Ceylon. Here are soMe Official RNZAF news items to kick the thread off:

Evening Post, Volume CXXXVII, Issue 107, 8 May 1944, Page 4

BURMA BORDER

JAPS SCATTERED

N.Z. FLYERS PLAY BIG PART

(R.N.Z.A.F. Correspondent.) NEW DELHI, April 20.

Hill tribesmen who still fight with old-fashioned muskets, and British and Indian troops side by side with them in a grim patrol war against the Japanese on the Assam-Burma border, have just been helped by one of the R.A.F.’s fiercest air attacks of the campaign on this front.

New Zealand flyers had a big part in the offensive. Every step the Jap takes—and they take him many weary miles along mule tracks and rough mountain trails from his railhead at Wuntho, north Burma, and other supply bases before he can provision his forward troops – was harassed by dive-bombers, fighterbombers, and fighters from an advanced group of Sir John Baldwin’s Third Tactical Air Force.

Meanwhile, supplies went forward to our own troops without interference. Over the mountain ranges and tangled network of rivers in the upper Chindwin area, and for more than 100 miles around, his vital communications were disrupted.

Pilots reported that Japanese transports were rarely being seen on the roads in northern Burma. It was known that the enemy was maintaining some supplies with difficulty, so a special offensive was directed against them.

SPLENDID RESULTS.
The results were splendid. Bridges were blown up by ‘”deck-level” bombing, troop concentrations scattered, river craft on tiny streams hunted out and sunk, and motor transport dispersed. Many squadrons took part and over 100 sorties a day were made against targets as far apart as Tamanthi in the north and Fort White in the south.

Bridge-“busting” was carried out by one squadron whose pilots excelled at it. To celebrate its 100th raid on this front, it raided Pinlebu, an important enemy point. After they had finished with one bridge capable of carrying heavy traffic, its west side collapsed under four direct hits by bombs. Another solidly-built river bridge fifty to sixty yards long was badly holed and two columns of black smoke rose from it. Said the 25-year-old Tiverton (Devon) squadron leader who led his Hurribomber squadron in the attack: “We dived on the bridges from 3000 feet and let go our bombs almost from deck level. It was a lovely show.”

Army gunners 8000 feet high on Kennedy Peak looked down on a joint attack by R.A.F. and U.S. medium and fighter-bombers in the Fort White area. After witnessing the havoc caused among Jap troops, they sent back messages praising the pilots’ accuracy.

A 22-year-old New Zealand flight sergeant, formerly in the New Zealand Army, flashed over the target at 100 feet and reported that the whole area was pitted with bomb craters. His squadron later went into action with Vengeances to break down a bridge link. “The Japanese keep their heads well down when we arrive, for they know we strafe as well as bomb,” he said.

LONG, HAZARDOUS MISSIONS.
To hit the Japs hard and often, pilots go on long missions over winding rivers and “chaungs” (tiny streams), searching enemy-traversed roads for supply columns. They have nicknamed one place “Pink Gin” and given it a severe shaking. Some of the trips are hazardous because of the mountainous terrain. After one of the longest trips in a Hurricane over Burma which lasted over three hours, a 23-year-old Brazilian flying officer landed with fuel for only four more minutes’ flying. He had spent his time searching for enemy river craft.


Dave Homewood added a few comments

Jan 26, 2012 at 6:47am

Evening Post, Volume CXXXVII, Issue 111, 12 May 1944, Page 4

EXCITING CAREER

DOMINION PILOT DUTY IN 21 COUNTRIES

(R.N.Z.A.F. Official News Service.) NEW DELHI, April 3.

Twenty-one countries lived in and operated over within two and a half years—that is the record of Flying Officer Peter Jordan, of Palmerston North. Leaving New Zealand- with a party of pilots, he went to England via Canada and became operational after a period at an operational training unit.

Later, he was a member of the first fighter squadron to fly off an aircraft carrier to the aid of hard-pressed Malta. After two months’ ceaseless air battles over that bomb-torn island the squadron was withdrawn to Egypt for a rest. Then came the short but bitter Syrian campaign, where New Zealand troops were in action, and the squadron operated there. That affair successfully concluded, they moved next to Irak for a while, and then into Iran.

IRANIAN CAMPAIGN.
They were the only fighter squadron to take part in the brief Iranian campaign of August, 1941. It will be remembered that the Iranian Government was at that time reluctant to co-operate with us regarding our supply lines to Russia and our oil weils. The Russians moved into Iran over the northern frontier, and simultaneously we came in at Abadan in the south, where we own large oil interests. Lord Wavell —now Viceroy of India, but then Commander-in-Chief Middle East Forces—arranged treaty terms at Teheran, for Iran was then part of the Middle East Command.

North again went the squadron, this time to Mosul on the Turkish border. Old soldiers will remember Mosul as the scene of sandy battles fought by New Zealanders during the Mesopotamian campaign of the last World War.

Later they were stationed at Haifa in Palestine. Then at Beirut in Syria for a short while. Next they flew to Cyprus, to defend that island. Later still they went back again to Egypt.

Then Japan suddenly came into the war and quickly over-ran Malaya and the Dutch Indies. It was obvious that an attack on Ceylon was imminent. Once again Flying Officer Jordan’s squadron flew off an aircraft-carrier, arriving just in time to help defend the naval base of Trincomalee. All but five of the squadron’s planes were knocked out during the desperate air battles of that grim day. But the invaders were repelled. Nine months later they flew up to India where they were engaged on fighter sweeps over Burma, and defence work.


Again…

Jan 26, 2012 at 6:58am
Evening Post, Volume CXXXIX, Issue 16, 19 January 1945, Page 7

SAVED THE CREW

COURAGEOUS GUNNER

DIED AT HIS POST

(R.N.Z.A.F, Official News Service.)
AIR COMMAND, STH. EAST ASIA, January 16.

How the supreme courage of an R.N.Z.A.F, gunner; Flying Officer John Spencer Horan (Auckland), who even though he was fatally wounded, remained at his post, undoubtedly saved the lives of the remainder of the crew of the aircraft, was related at a forward airfield on the Burma front yesterday, by the-pilot of the aircraft concerned.

A Sea Otter rescue aircraft was on a reconnaissance trip off the Akyab coast when it was suddenly discovered that eight Japanese Oscars were on its tail, two of which came in to attack. Flying Officer Horan, gunner in the Sea Otter, opened fire. Two minutes later he reported that he was hit. The first navigator went aft and found him unconscious with his left hand blown off. Recovering consciousness as he was being dragged back into the fuselage, Horan insisted on returning to the guns He jammed them against his chest and continued to hold off the enemy.

WOUNDED AGAIN.
The engine was now on fire, the instrument panel shattered, the flaps shot away, and the tail ablaze. Bullets from the enemy were continually passing through the aircraft. Horan received further wounds on his head, but although these totalled up to seven, his fire never failed. He fired 800 rounds, and was still firing as the pilot managed to land the blazing aircraft outside the breakers and beach her. Flying Officer Horan died immediately.

Two hours later, the remainder of the crew, including the navigator, who also belongs to the R.N.Z.A.F., Flight Sergeant J. A. Lawson (Onehunga) were flying again, and succeeded in rescuing a Spitfire pilot from the sea. The pilot, Flight Lieutenant Peter Almack, of Christchurch, England, insists that Flying Officer Horan saved the lives of the remainder of the crew- Flying Officer Horan, who was 24 years of age, leaves a young wife and infant son in England. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. P. Horan, reside at Manurewa, Auckland. Before he joined the R.N.Z.A.F. in February, 1940, Flying Officer Horan was employed on farm work with Mr. P. N. Anderson at Okoroire. His education was received at the Matamata District High School, and he was prominent in several sports, including cycling. He left New Zealand for the United Kingdom in April, 1940.


Jan 26, 2012 at 7:03am
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Evening Post, Volume CXXXIX, Issue 15, 18 January 1945, Page 5

AKYAB LANDING

AIR AMBULANCE SERVICE

(R.N.Z.A.F. Offloiar .News’ Service.)

NEW DELHI, January 16.
“It was not the sight of the Jap gun emplacements and strong-points, but the shoals of! basking sharks moving through the water less than, half a mile from our men that made me thankful that the landing was straightforward,” said Flying Officer D. W. Chapman, R.N.Z.A.F. (Auckland), who was over the liberation forces at Akyab on D Day.

When engaged on ambulance flying, during the landing on Akyab Island, Flying Officer Chapman landed and took off with wounded British and West African troops from jungle clearings in the lulls between mortar fire. Pitched battles were going on less than 400 yards away. He evacuated between 30 and 40 wounded men in nearly 190 “mercy” flying hours.

Flying Officer Chapman piloted an Auster aircraft at Akyab. It is a small, unarmed, single-engined monoplane manufactured, in England. His experiences range from shipping protection in the Mediterranean to strafing the Japanese in central Burma and casualty evacuation in the Kaladan. He stated that-the Akyab mission would probably be his only job of the kind in Burma, as his three year tour was nearly up.

Little unarmed Austers, the “maids of all work,” are proving their worth in the Burma war. Until two days before the seaborne landing at Akyab, they were used for evacuating wounded airborne troops. They are now providing a communication link between Akyab and the mainland. The first Auster landed 24 hours before the sea landing and others have kept up a taxi service ever since, in spite of the weather.


Jan 26, 2012 at 7:08am
Evening Post, Volume CXXXIX, Issue 20, 24 January 1945, Page 4

RAMREE LANDING

NEW ZEALANDERS IN EVERY SQUADRON

Probably one of the greatest air armadas yet put up by the Eastern Air Command in the Burma war attacked enemy shore fortifications on Ramree Island a few minutes before the landings were made by our troops today says a message, in the R.N.Z.A.F. Official News Service, dated Eastern Air command, South-east Asia, January 22.

New Zealanders flew with every R.A.F. Liberator Squadron taking part and with every R.A.F. fighter squadron. The operation was a marvel of timing. First, the Navy laid down a mighty barrage which let up for a few minutes as the bombers went in. Other aircraft strafed the beaches. Fighters daringly attacked enemy installations barely a hundred yards from the bomber objectives. Landing craft moved in towards the beaches as the bombers turned away.

Flying Officer J. A. Wilkinson, D.F.M. (Auckland), who was flying as head aircraft of his squadron, said: “We got a great kick out of helping the Army right on the spot. Much of our work has taken us far into Siam, hitting at Jap communications, and has not the same thrill as what we experienced today.

“Naval vessels lying off-shore stopped shelling as we came in, and opened up again a few minutes later. Our bombs were dead on the target. As we turned away, we could see the landing craft moving in towards the beaches. It was an easy job, for we encountered no opposition.” A great many New Zealanders took part in the air attack. They included Flight Lieutenant R. C. Wallace (Auckland), Warrant Officer P. W Werby (Wairoa), Warrant Officer John McPhee (Christchurch), Flying Officer R. M. Knewstubb (Dunedin), and Flight Sergeant R. J. Iremonger (Wellington).


Jan 26, 2012 at 7:11am
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Evening Post, Volume CXXXIX, Issue 18, 22 January 1945, Page 6

GOT TWO JAPS

N.Z. PILOT IN BURMA

(R.N.Z.A.F. Official News Service.)
AIR COMMAND (South-east Asia), January 20.

After a lapse of nearly three years, Flight Lieutenant Clyde Simpson, a New Zealand pilot, has returned to Akyab. Within 24 hours of his return to his former fighter base he celebrated the occasion, by destroying two Japanese fighter-bombers out of a force of six that attacked a harbour and airfields.

Flight Lieutenant Simpson, who is 22, is with an R.A.F. Spitfire Squadron, and has served in the East throughout his service career.

In July, 1941, he was attached to an Australian squadron in Singapore, and later he transferred to an R.A.F. fighter squadron which moved to Mingaladon, near Rangoon, at the end of the same year In March, 1942, he arrived in Akyab where his squadron was in the front line of the fighter defence. A year later, after being evacuated for medical reasons, he returned to the Burma front with a Hurricane squadron and was then transferred to a Spitfire squadron in Bengal, where he has been ever since.

Flight Lieutenant Simpson is an Aucklander.


Jan 26, 2012 at 7:15am
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Evening Post, Volume CXXXIX, Issue 25, 30 January 1945, Page 6

TROPHY FOR R.A.F. SQUADRON

(R.N.Z.A.F. Official News Service.)

ARAKAN FRONT, January 26.

For the great part they played in helping the army to capture a heavily defended Japanese position in Burma, one of the oldest R.A.F. squadrons in existence today had the distinction of being presented with a captured Japanese sword by the air-officer in command of the group, Air Commodore the Earl of Bangor. The squadron, which is commanded by Squadron Leader J. M.- Cranstone, of Wanganui, operates with the Eastern Air Command.’ Another New Zealander, Flight Lieutenant R. S. Jenkins, Manurewa, is one of the squadron’s flight commanders.


Jan 26, 2012 at 7:23am
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Evening Post, Volume CXXXIX, Issue 36, 12 February 1945, Page 3

SEARCH FOR HOSPITAL SHIP

(R.N.Z.A.F. Official News Service.) ARAKAN FRONT, Feb. 9.

In the first rescue of its kind on this front, a resourceful New Zealand air-sea rescue pilot made a gallant effort to save the life of his seriously wounded navigator. Flying with the air-sea “Manna from Heaven” Squadron in Sea Otter amphibians which are new to this theatre.

Flying Officer Charlie G. Beale. of Marine Parade, Napier, was engaged on air-sea rescue work when he was suddenly attacked by six Japanese Oscars. His navigator was seriously wounded.

“Recollecting that I had seen a hospital ship in the vicinity some time previously, I realised that I must try and find it as quickly as possible,” said Flying Officer Beale. When he finally located the hospital ship it was escorted by destroyers. Replying to signals from the aircraft, she instructed the pilot to put down beside a destroyer. A doctor and medical orderlies were pulled across to the aircraft. After one glance at the patient, the doctor decided to make for the hospital ship immediately. So while he stayed aboard the aircraft, the destroyer’s boat filled with medical orderlies was hitched on behind and towed to the miles-distant hospital ship.

Leaving New Zealand for the United Kingdom in April, 1941, Flying Officer Beale arrived in India in February, 1942, with the first fighter wing, proceeding straight to Burma under the command of the celebrated top-scoring fighter ace, Wing Commander “Chota” Carey. Later, while a member of the first Spitfire squadron to operate on this front, Flying Officer Beale shot down two Japanese aircraft. Speaking of the recent recapture of Akyab, he said: “After the bitterness of being pushed out of Burma, I felt that it was some redress taking part in the recapture of Akyab, if it was only rescuing pilots shot down in the sea.” During the Akyab operation, Flying Officer Beale picked up a Canadian pilot from the sea.


Jan 26, 2012 at 7:31am
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Evening Post, Volume CXXXIX, Issue 52, 2 March 1945, Page 6

RAIDERS OVER SIAM

RAILWAY YARDS BOMBED

(R.N.Z.A.F. Official News Service)
EASTERN AIR COMMAND SOUTH-EAST ASIA, March 1

“I could see hot pieces of metal flying towards us as the trucks were split open, was the description given to a raid on the Korat railway yards in central Siam by Warrant Officer P. W Webby, of Wairoa. a wireless operator on one of the Liberators that took part.

Other members of the crew described the raid as “bang on,” and said the railway yards were full of rolling stock and the explosions provided a “multi-coloured pyrotechnic display”. They mentioned how girders from wrecked buildings, debris from wagons, sections of the permanent way, the walls of workshops, and engine sheds were piled in a tangled mess over the whole station area.

The Japanese have been using Korat as a key-point in the supply route from Indo-China through Bangkok to Burma. Several Royal Air Force Liberator squadrons hit Korat late in the afternoon as the sun was in the west. They flew all day to reach the little town which nestles deep in the forested hills of central Siam, and they returned to base after midnight, having completed nearly 2500 miles.


Jan 26, 2012 at 7:34am
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Evening Post, Volume CXXXIX, Issue 67, 20 March 1945, Page 7

RANGOON RAID

DUMPS OBLITERATED

IMPRESSIONS OF N.Z. AIRMEN

(R.N.Z.A.F. Official News Service.)

BURMA FRONT, March 17.
Scores of heavy bombers of the Eastern Air Command today attacked the greatest Japanese supply base in Burma, which is located in the northern suburbs of Rangoon.

Carrying the maximum load of high explosives and incendiaries, they lived through flak to the most heavily defended area on this front to obliterate cleverly camouflaged supply dumps. Since the cutting of the Burma-Siam railway, the Japanese have been drawing heavily on carefully-hoarded supplies. Today’s raid deprives the Japanese desperately defending Mandalay, of urgently needed supplies.

Making his first operational tour as captain of a Liberator, Warrant Officer Desmond R. Lee (Brunnerton) said: “It was successful, but an unexciting trip. Fires from our bombs were just starting when we turned away.” Captain of another bomber, Warrant Officer Desmond Appleby (Timaru) said: “We bombed from 15,000 feet. Enemy flak was moderate. The target was difficult to find owing to clouds, but our bombs went right down into the centre of it.”

Warrant Officer G. G. McKay (Wyndham) was a wireless operator in another formation. His aircraft was holed by flak, but none of the crew was injured.


Jan 26, 2012 at 7:37am
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Evening Post, Volume CXXXIX, Issue 81, 6 April 1945, Page 4

“RETURNED TO BASE”

NELSON PILOT’S FEAT

(R.N.Z.A.F. Official News Service.)
BURMA FRONT, April 4.

Flying Officer Johnny Haycock, of Richmond, Nelson, has “made it” again. With his Liberator bomber completely collandered, his rudder controls shot away, his elevator controls almost destroyed, and his rear-gunner seriously wounded, he brought his aircraft staggering over the mountains and paddy fields of Burma to a successful landing at base.

While the Eastern Air Command was staging an attack on Rangoon, Flying Officer Haycock’s squadron ran into devastating flak. Hit just at the end of the bombing run, his machine lost speed rapidly as Haycock momentarily lost control. Flak was still coming up. As the Liberator lumbered out of range, the crew took stock of the situation. In addition to the damage to the rudder and elevator controls, both servometers were shot away and the control wires were shattered.

As Haycock struggled to keep the aircraft flying, the flight engineer working desperately, managed to tie the elevator and rudder controls with string, thus giving the pilot just sufficient control to keep the aircraft in the air.

Four hours later he made a shaky but safe landing at base. The reargunner is recovering. With 159 holes in it, the aircraft was so badly damaged that it was consigned to the scrap heap.


Jan 26, 2012 at 7:49am
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Evening Post, Volume CXXXIX, Issue 105, 5 May 1945, Page 8

AIR PREPARATION

NEW ZEALANDERS PART

(R.N.Z.A.F. Official News Service.)

BURMA FRONT, May, 4.

Large numbers of New Zealanders took part in the recapture of the port of Rangoon. In the race against time, as the monsoon is expected to break at any moment, British air, sea, and land forces were thrown into tne offensive in one of the largest combined operations of tne Burma campaign. Thunderbolt squadrons served as mobile artillery, sweeping up and down the beaches and silencing many fire points that had survived yesterday’s heavy bombardment by Liberators and fighter-bombers.

At 7 a.m. yesterday seaborne forces landed on each side of the wide Rangoon River and established a bridgehead between the estuary and the city. They were then 15 miles from Rangoon. An armada of destroyers and cruisers escorted the landing force and minesweepers preceded the landing craft into the river mouth.

For the first time in a seaborne attacK there was no shelling of the beacn from the sea. Instead, Thunderbolts, Spitfires, and Beaufighters patrolled continually in support of the landing. Carrier-borne aircraft gave cover to the convoy as it came south from Ramree and Akyab.

Within half an hour of the announcement of the success of the initial landings, two heavily-loaded squadrons of Dakotas had taken off from advanced headquarters with supplies to be parachuted to the troops on the beach.

“NO TURNING BACK.”
At their briefing the air crews were told that no matter what difficulties were encountered it was imperative that they should reach the dropping zone. “There must be no turning back,” was the final order.

One of the suppiy squadrons was the famous “Flying Horse” Squadron which supported Marshal Titos forces in the Middle East. The captain of the aircraft in this squadron was Warrant Officer F. Gulliver, of Manaia. In another squadron were Warrant Officer D. Tebbutt, of Whangarei, and Flight Sergeant A. McLeod, of Athol.

The first step in the operation was carried out at daybreak on Monday, when Indian Army paratroops landed at Elephant Point, 25 miles south of Rangoon. They had orders to silence the guns defending the entrance to the port. This was the Indian Army’s first paratroop operation, and provided an excellent example, of Allied integration. American aircraft and air crews carried the Indian paratroops and British officers and n.c.o.s, while the jump-masters superintending the drop were nearly all Canadians. Every man landed safely. The first wave of Indians, smiling as they emplaned in the moonlight, were keen to prove that they could be good paratroops. Some hours later a second wave comprising Indian sappers and miners, a full medical unit, and other technicians was successfully dropped, and almost immediately the trusty Dakotas were dropping supplies to them.


Another person commented…

Apr 8, 2012 at 1:44pm
Quote
“Naval vessels lying off-shore stopped shelling as we came in, and opened up again a few minutes later. Our bombs were dead on the target. As we turned away, we could see the landing craft moving in towards the beaches. It was an easy job, for we encountered no opposition.” A great many New Zealanders took part in the air attack. They included Flight Lieutenant R. C. Wallace (Auckland), Warrant Officer P. W Werby (Wairoa), Warrant Officer John McPhee (Christchurch), Flying Officer R. M. Knewstubb (Dunedin), and Flight Sergeant R. J. Iremonger (Wellington).

On a wet bank holiday weekend i’ve found time to read some of the older posts noting a mention to a pilot whose uniform i own, Flt/Lt Robert Cecil Wallace, 118490. The service tunic is RAF badged (wings & buttons) with FIJI national titles. Indeed he is mentioned in the 1946 publication “New Zealand at War” pg 101 as being from Fiji & Epsom NZ.
Many years ago i tried to access his service records through NZDF Archives to be told as he wasn’t a NZer they didn’t hold his records.

Great posting Dave to those airmen who served on the Forgotten Front!!


Apr 8, 2012 at 9:23pm
Quote
wanganui said:”Naval vessels lying off-shore stopped shelling as we came in, and opened up again a few minutes later. Our bombs were dead on the target. As we turned away, we could see the landing craft moving in towards the beaches. It was an easy job, for we encountered no opposition.” A great many New Zealanders took part in the air attack. They included Flight Lieutenant R. C. Wallace (Auckland), Warrant Officer P. W Werby (Wairoa), Warrant Officer John McPhee (Christchurch), Flying Officer R. M. Knewstubb (Dunedin), and Flight Sergeant R. J. Iremonger (Wellington).

On a wet bank holiday weekend i’ve found time to read some of the older posts noting a mention to a pilot whose uniform i own, Flt/Lt Robert Cecil Wallace, 118490. The service tunic is RAF badged (wings & buttons) with FIJI national titles. Indeed he is mentioned in the 1946 publication “New Zealand at War” pg 101 as being from Fiji & Epsom NZ.
Many years ago i tried to access his service records through NZDF Archives to be told as he wasn’t a NZer they didn’t hold his records.

Great posting Dave to those airmen who served on the Forgotten Front!!

I am fairly certain that Wallace is the same as the Robert Cecil Wallace, solicitor, who died on 25 Apr 82 and is buried at Kaikohe. Age given as 69, indicating born c.1913. He appears in NZ electoral rolls in 1935 and 1938, but not 1946 (indicating overseas service?), then again regularly from 1949.

‘Werby’ is Phillip Walter Webby.

John Clutha McPhee later flew with British South American Airways and was lost on 17 January 1949 with the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ disapperance without trace of Avro Tudor Star Ariel (G-AGRE).


DIMINISHED VALOUR?

Warrant Officers Frank Watkins and John Horan gave their lives to save their crewmates, but were each denied the Victoria Cross because of insufficient evidence. Instead both were mentioned-in-despatches, the only other recognition which could be given posthumously.
Despite considerable lobbying after World War Two, neither award was upgraded, leading to criticism that this diminished their valour and sacrifice.

 

 

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6 thoughts on “About Johnnie Horan

  1. Medal or not, their actions speak louder than any piece of medal. They were respected by their peers and that’s what counts. Hopefully your research brings these men to everyone’s attention!

    Like

      1. I copied the address for this post down yesterday with a note to reblog for 19 January 1945 – do you feel that is an appropriate date for it?

        Like

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