Monthly Archives: December 2013

Flying Summary for December 1943



John Hancock Scott

On what would have been his 98th birthday, today seems like a fitting day to write a post about Broody’s regular pilot. John Hancock Scott, known on the Squadron as Jack was born on 30th December 1915 in Invercargill, New Zealand. Jack enlisted at RNZAF Station Levin on 5th / 6th July 1941. I can’t find a definitive date of his arrival at 488(NZ) Squadron.

As explained by Broody “[Jack] was famous on the squadron for taking every opportunity that came along (and some that he skillfully generated) to get into the air” and was a popular and dedicated pilot.

As Broody’s regular pilot, he and Jack flew many Operational Flights together until Jack left the Squadron on September 19th 1944 on a posting to 315 Maintenance Unit in India as a test pilot. From there, he went to No4 (Coastal) OTU as a Staff Pilot until he left the RNZAF in February 1946.

In 1945, Jack was Mentioned in Dispatches “In recognition of distinguished service and devotion to duty.” 1

I think Broody and Jack lost contact after the war. I believe that Jack returned to Invercargill, and passed away on 15th March 2010. I would love to make contact with any of Jack relatives in New Zealand, and would ask my Kiwi readers if they are able to put me in touch.

John Hancock Scott - "Jack" NZ413896

John Hancock Scott – “Jack” NZ413896

1 Source: Colin Hanson’s “By Such Deeds – Honours and Awards in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, 1923-1999”

30/xii/43 – Last Patrol of 1943 & Loss of F/Sgt Behrent and F/Sgt Breward

30th December 15:30
DH Mosquito XII HK227 ME-E (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: P/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
A/I still not good, but workable

BULLSEYE & PATROL – Searchlights
3 murders – 1 Mosquito & 2 Stirlings. Then orbiting, waiting for Huns which failed to appear

Only 3 days after returning from a Patrol with an engine fire, followed by a brake failure on landing, HK227 is back on Operational duties. This shows the effectiveness of the ground crews who must have worked every hour of the day to keep the Squadron’s aircraft flying!

Sadly today also saw the loss of F/Sgt Ernie Behrent and his Navigator F/Sgt Noel Breward. The New Zealand crew were killed after their aircraft crashed into the sea during a GCI exercise. The ORB records the loss as follows:

“A fatal crash took place today. F/Sgt Behrent E.H (New Zealand, pilot) and his operator, F/Sgt Breward N. (New Zealand) took off at about 22:00 hours and about 10 minutes later the plane crashed into the sea. Other pilots flying at the same time state that they saw a glow in the sky and later a glow on the water in the vicinity of the crash. The bodies were not recovered, The aircraft was Mosquito Mk XIII HK375.”

Their names are duly recorded in the Roll Of Honour.

And so Broody’s war comes to an end for 1943. There is still much more to come!

27/xii/43 – Patrol aborted due to Port Engine Failure

27th December 14:55
DH Mosquito XII HK227 ME-E (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: P/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
A/I completely U/S – no picture at all
Very close-range ciné-gun on a Fortress

More or less OK this time

PATROL – Foreness
Not a successful trip. Starting a patrol on Foreness & showers of sparks & flame appeared from the Port engine: rapid Granny Homing, with engine throttled back. A/I U/S on way back – no marker pips on Beacon range & messy A/I picture. Landed OK using engine a little. Finally brakes packed up at dispersal. Found exhaust manifold burnt out

Pasted in the journal opposite this entry are 2 ciné-gun stills. One is labelled “Fortress (very close!). This may well be a copy of the exposed film from today’s NFT. The ciné-guns used were G45 Gun Cameras. On the Mk XIII Mosquito, these were fitted on the Port side, just forward of the access hatch.

ciné-gun stills from Broody's journal

ciné-gun stills from Broody’s journal

Another shortened patrol as a result of kit failure, in this instance an engine on fire. Mosquitos were well able to fly on one engine, but the presence of fire on an aircraft made of wood must have been a frightening experience!

24/xii/43 – Christmas Eve trip to Hatfield to pick up spares

24th December 14:15
DH Mosquito XII HK227 ME-E (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: P/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
Going to collect spares, but clouds of smoke from A/I – Carbon Pote[?] Regulator burnt out – so returned forthwith for another aeroplane.

DH Mosquito XIII HK420 ME-B (A/I Mk.VIII)
OK this time. Particularly poor visibility

Short & very bumpy airfield for takeoff, but OK. NFT on way home on formation of Fortresses & a Beaufighter

22/xii/43 – Training runs and search for aircraft

22nd December 11:30
DH Mosquito XII HK227 ME-E (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: P/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
NFT, Cine-Gun, A/I Practice & A/C Search
Bit of practice & cine-gun on a Lancaster, then on Mosquito. Stooge as target & finally search for an A/C heard calling control on Darby. Very hazy: no joy.

2 runs: 2 contacts: 2 visuals: 2 murders – chilly target. Then up to 26,000ft to wait for Huns – who went back home

One function of 488(NZ) Squadron in addition to Night Interceptions, was to search for and lead to safety, aircraft who were lost or unsure of their position, utilising  with their Radar capability. On this occasion, the aircraft search was unsuccessful.

20/xii/43 – Scramble under Searchlight & Sandwich control

20th December 05:30
DH Mosquito XIII HK420 (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: P/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
SCRAMBLE – Searchlights & Sandwich
Much panic. Chasing sundry intersections. Contact on Hun with fighter already on his tail. Transferred to Sandwich as reinforcement & set blew up after 55 mins.
[1 ME410 destroyed by F/O D.N.Robinson & F/O W.T.M Clark DFM]

This sounds like a busy Scramble! The following extract from the ORB records Robinson and Clark’s success.

“F/O D.N.Robinson, Pilot and F/O W.T.M.Clark, Navigator/Radio in Mosquito HK457 intercepted and destroyed an ME410 which crash landed near Rye, Sussex. F/O Robinson made excellent use of the searchlights and as this was the only Hun shot down, it reflects great credit on our Pilot”

The mystery of HK365

I recently made contact with Ronnie Olsthoorn through a DH Mosquito Facebook group. After exchanging messages about Chris Vlotman, Ronnie mentioned that he wanted to produce an artwork of HK365 being flown by Vlotman on the night of 21/iii/44 when he shot down 2 JU-88s. Ronnie produces some of the most amazing 3d aviation artwork you will ever see. I have desire to see this project come to fruition, as Broody also flew in HK365 on a number of occasions, so the thought of seeing her “come back to life” is an exciting prospect.

The problem we had was that the tail code for HK365 was unknown. It was not on the list I have compiled, and was unknown to Graham Clayton who has a large amount of information on 488(NZ) Squadron aircraft. There was a supposition on various forums that she was coded ME-Z, but the main source of this appeared to be a set of modelling decals made by Dutch Decals. Fortunately, Ronnie is a Dutchman and contacted Dutch Decals who explained that “In the Military Aviation Museum there was a model of Vlotman’s Mossie, and they did manage to consult him personally. And there is a photo of Vlotman and his Nav in front of the tail of the Mosquito. Possibly information was taken from his log books as well.”

Dutch Decals' sheet, showing HK365 coded as ME-Z

Dutch Decals’ sheet, showing HK365 coded as ME-Z

This didn’t give either Ronnie or myself 100% confidence. I was determined to find the answer to our question…

Shortly afterwards, I was researching 488(NZ) Squadron at Bradwell Bay when I came across a post at Hidden in the thread were a number of photos I had not seen before, including this one:

Reg Mitchell (via Dave Homewood)

© Reg Mitchell (via Dave Homewood)

I flipped the image, to reveal this:

© Reg Mitchell (via Dave Homewood)

© Reg Mitchell (via Dave Homewood)

The photo seemed to show that this aircraft was HK365, with tail code ME-T. Hardly believing my good fortune, I looked at it closer and then thought that perhaps I was not going to be so lucky, and it was actually HK385.

I satisfied myself that this was not the case by referencing the Squadron’s Operations Record Book and checking that HK385 was not an aircraft used by 488(NZ) Squadron. I also referenced the de Havilland production lists available online that seemed to suggest that HK385 was not a serial used by de Havilland. I shared the good news with Ronnie (but failed to mention the findings of my research). We both revelled in the good news, until Ronnie took a closer a look, and was sure that the serial was HK385. This is the blown up image he sent me:

© Reg Mitchell (via Dave Homewood)

© Reg Mitchell (via Dave Homewood)

You can certainly see his point! When the image was posted on Facebook, opinion was divided. Some were sure it was a 6, others an 8…. Was it possible that my research was flawed? Well maybe, if 2 assumptions are made:

1) The production lists for DH Mosquitos are incomplete and HK385 WAS built
2) Assuming the above, HK385 WAS issued to 488(NZ) Squadron, but was crashed / damaged / disposed of before she flew operationally, or only used as a training aircraft, and therefore never had a recorded flight in the ORB.

All doubt was finally put to bed when Dave Homewood posted a crop of the scan he took from the original image in a higher resolution:

© Reg Mitchell (via Dave Homewood)

© Reg Mitchell (via Dave Homewood)

Definitely HK365! I think enough research has gone into this, with enough evidence available to be sure that HK365 was coded ME-T. This has been another valuable lesson in carrying out sufficient research before committing gut-feel or supposition to print as fact! On this occasion, I was right in my convictions, but I wonder how much “historical fact” is wrong because sources and evidence are not properly checked and double checked. Both Ronnie & I desperately wanted this aircraft to be HK365, and it would have been so easy to have taken a 95% chance – and been wrong!

I now wait to see what magic Ronnie can work to reproduce an image of an event in one of 488(NZ) Squadron’s most successful nights of the war. You can see examples of Ronnie’s artwork on his website I thoroughly recommend you take time to visit!

19/xii/43 – New aircraft, acting as target for A/I practice

19th December 15:20
DH Mosquito XIII HK420 (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: P/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
NFT, CINE-GUN & A/I Practice
New A/C as target, so up to 15,000ft to check superchargers & then following violent evasive action down again

PATROL & GCI Practice – Trimley
3 run: 3 contacts: 3 visuals: 3 murders & fairly warm target
A/I not too good


HK420 (ME-B) was delivered to the Squadron early in December. Today’s NFT and training evolutions put the aircraft as well as the crew through its paces. The “violent evasive action” while acting as a target aircraft for A/I practice would have ensured she was fit for purpose and good to go. There is no mention as to how the Navigator felt about the weaving and turning!!

18/xii/43 – Unsuccessful NFT

18th December 15:05
DH Mosquito XIII HK427 (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: P/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
Apology for an NFT at 2-300ft (clouds 3-400ft). Set damp & not much good. Got in second time round a trifle fast!