The People

This page will guide you to stories and articles about some of the people who served at RAF Watton and Bodney.

 

Sgt George A. Dvorjetz – Observer In Wing Commander Partridge’s crew, lost on Rotterdam Raid 16th July 1941

Sgt George A. Dvorjetz – Observer In Wing Commander Partridge’s crew, lost on Rotterdam Raid 16th July 1941

This biography was authored by Rusty Russell and has been extracted from Mast High Over Rotterdam – Please respect Rusty’s Copyright to the work as detailed in the first section of the book. Born in Ealing on 31st March 1916, George Dvorjetz took employment as a cinema manager after leaving school. He was also a member of the Civil Air Guard, completing 11 hours of dual and 9 hours of solo flying by the time he enlisted in the RAF in October 1939. Like many […]

Flt Sgt David W. Wyatt – Observer In Graham-Hogg Crew, lost on 18th July 1941

Flt Sgt David W. Wyatt – Observer In Graham-Hogg Crew, lost on 18th July 1941

This biography was authored by Rusty Russell and has been extracted from Mast High Over Rotterdam – Please respect Rusty’s Copyright to the work as detailed in the first section of the book. By one of the cruel strokes of fate, veteran observer, Flt Sgt David Wyatt filled a slot on 21 Squadron which had been vacated by Graham-Hogg’s original crewman. Jim Marsden explains: ‘Sgt X was taken off flying duties, due to a severe nervous condition, which the RAF chose to call “Lack of […]

Squadron Leader Denis Graham-Hogg

Squadron Leader Denis Graham-Hogg

This biography was authored by Rusty Russell and has been extracted from Mast High Over Rotterdam – Please respect Rusty’s Copyright to the work as detailed in the first section of the book. Somewhere in Sri Lanka, an immensely popular ex-Blenheim pilot is probably sipping the occasional gin and tonic in his tea plantation, and reminiscing about the hazardous yet incredibly lucky days of his youth. Born in Kandy, Ceylon, of parents who were tea planters, Denis Graham-Hogg clearly yearned to return there after the […]

FLT LT R.O.C. Carey RCAF – WOp/AG in Wing Commander Kercher’s Crew at Rotterdam 16th July 1941

Sgt Bob Carey

This biography was authored by Rusty Russell and has been extracted from Mast High Over Rotterdam – Please respect Rusty’s Copyright to the work as detailed in the first section of the book. In March 1984, a letter from Switzerland was pushed through my letterbox. Full of curiosity, I opened it. To my surprise and delight, it was from Canadian-born Bob Carey, who had found the lifestyle and culture of the European continent vastly preferable to that of the continent of his origins. Frank Campbell-Rogers […]

The Tale of a Photograph. Flt Sgt Reg Leavers, Sgt Ian Overheu and Sgt Joseph Phelps

Ian Overheu, Joseph P{helps and Reg Leavers visiting the seaside (Blackpool?) on a cold and windy day

Reg Leavers and his crew, Ian Overheu and Joseph Phelps, had a reputation for courage, tenacity and determination which was amply demonstrated in the citation marking the award of the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) to Leavers and Overheu. It reads: Distinguished Flying Medal 747560 Sergeant Evered Arthur Reginald Leavers, No 21 Squadron. NZ40729 Sergeant Ian Overheu Royal New Zealand Air Force, No 21 Squadron. In April 1941, Sergeant Leavers and Sergeant Overheu were the pilot and observer respectively in an aircraft which participated […]

Flt Lt F. A. Reiss, Sqn Ldr E. M. Shewell & Sqn Ldr A. B. C. Nunn

Flt Lt F. A. Reiss, Sqn Ldr E. M. Shewell & Sqn Ldr A. B. C. Nunn

This biography was authored by Rusty Russell and has been extracted from Mast High Over Rotterdam – Please respect Rusty’s Copyright to the work as detailed in the first section of the book. I should have met Ben Nunn at the very start of my research, rather than at the end, and all because of a slip-up with his rank at the time of the Rotterdam raid. On our first visit to the Public Record Office at Kew, my wife had correctly copied down Ben’s […]

Flight Sergeant Douglas James Kirkland, Observer, 21 Squadron, RNZAF

Flight Sergeant Douglas James Kirkland, Observer, 21 Squadron, RNZAF

Compiled by Richard Lindsay 411219 Flight Sergeant Douglas James Kirkland was born at Hawera, New Zealand, on 11th June 1920 and received his secondary education at Kawhai High School, later furthering his studies by attending radio engineering classes at the Seddon Memorial Technical College, Auckland. His civilian occupation was that of a radio mechanic with Radio (1936) Ltd, Auckland. Douglas enlisted in the RNZAF in April 1940,and was selected for aircrew training on 16th February 1941 at the Initial Training […]

Flying Officers John H Wotherspoon, Colin H Buchanan & A.J. Derrick

Flying Officers John H Wotherspoon, Colin H Buchanan & A.J. Derrick

And now to the crew that I would judge the most colourful of the raid on Rotterdam, if not in the entire annals of 2 Group. Some people go through life hardly causing a ripple on the water; others, such as John Wotherspoon and his crew, leave behind them no less than a tidal wave. The Wotherspoon crew’s fearlessness and unquenchable thirst for danger has already been stated in Mast High Over Rotterdam; but how were they judged by their […]

Wing Commander John Owen Cecil Kercher DSO

Wing Commander John Owen Cecil Kercher DSO

In an article for the Sunday Express, published on 1st July 1973, I came across my first reference to Wg Cdr Kercher. The author, famous cricketer and ex-Blenheim pilot Bill Edrich, wrote: ‘I never got very close to Kercher’. I deduced from this that the wing commander was probably made of granite or some similar substance. How wrong I was! Subsequent investigation revealed an entirely different personality: one with a warm heart and a wonderful sense of humour. All those […]

Wing Commander Peter F Webster DSO DFC & Bar 21 Squadron

Wing Commander Peter F Webster DSO DFC & Bar 21 Squadron

Wg Cdr Peter Fitzgerald ‘Tom’ Webster made a lasting impression on anyone lucky enough to have made his acquaintance. Without exception, he was described in terms ranging from utmost admiration, through deepest affection, to outright hero-worship. He was a natural leader of the same calibre as Sir Basil Embry and the Earl of Bandon: all could easily coax the best out of their aircrew by sheer personality and fine example. What a pity so few such mortals grace our shores. […]