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06 July 2021
Pilot Douglas Anthony Fordham and Crew – 462 Squadron RAAF Middle East

 

Wanted: Photo of Crew, or individuals,
and information about them.

If you can help, please make contact.

Information sourced from: 462 Squadron Operational Record Book (ORB) for 1943 from the National Archives of Australia (NAA), and also from The National Archives, UK; London Gazette; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; reference was also made to "To See the Dawn Again" by Lax & Kane-Maguire; (book details in Acknowledgements). Thanks are extended to Derek of the Police Remembrance Trust, UK, for photos of Obs MOORHOUSE, and information about him.

Terminology in the 1942, 1943, and early 1944 ORB for 462 Squadron differs from later usage e.g. Observer/Navigator; Bombardier/Air Bomber/Bomb Aimer; Tail/Rear Gunner.

This crew served with 462 Squadron in the Middle East, flying from Solluch No. 1 Base.
Sadly they crashed during their return flight from their first Op on the night of 5/6 February 1943. The Observer subsequently died of his injuries.

Captain: Douglas Anthony FORDHAM
Observer/Navigator: Ronald MOORHOUSE
Wireless Operator: Sgt RICH
Flight Engineer: Sgt LOOMES
Mid Gunner: Sgt PARSONS
Tail Gunner: Sgt TUCKER

Additional Crew Information,
Crew Op, and Aircraft Loss Details

 

Pilot

Name: Douglas Anthony FORDHAM
Service: Royal Air Force
Service Number: 39976
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....

Next of Kin: .....
Rank: Squadron Leader
Honours and Gallantry: Distinguished Flying Cross

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Observer / Navigator

Name: Ronald MOORHOUSE
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 121921
Date and Place of Birth: .....

Date of Death: 06 February 1943
Rank at Death: Flying Officer
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron, RAAF, Middle East Command

Age at Death: 33
Grave reference: Plot 7. Row D. Grave 24
Benghazi War Cemetery

Son of
Squire and Annie MOORHOUSE, of Leeds, Yorkshire

 

Police Constable Ronald Moorhouse, later Flying Officer 121921 RAFVR, 462 Squadron.
Photo from the Police Remembrance Trust

Police Constable Ronald MOORHOUSE, of Leeds, Yorkshire, in his uniform showing his official Police No. 703 (collar).

 

Ronald Moorhouse, later Flying Officer 121921 RAFVR, 462 Squadron.
Photo from the Police Remembrance Trust

Ronald Moorhouse, later Flying Officer 121921 RAFVR, 462 Squadron. Photo published in the Yorkshire Evening Post of 16 February 1943, 10 days after his death.
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Wireless Operator

Name: Sgt RICH (or RICK)
Service: RAFVR ?
Service Number: .....
Date and Place of Birth: .....
Next of Kin: .....
Rank: Sergeant
Honours and Gallantry:
Not known
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Flight Engineer

Name: Sgt LOOMES
Service: RAFVR ?
Service Number: .....
Date and Place of Birth: .....
Next of Kin: .....
Rank: Sergeant
Honours and Gallantry:
Not known
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Mid Gunner

Name: Sgt PARSONS
Service: RAFVR ?
Service Number: .....

Date and Place of Birth: .....
Next of Kin: .....
Rank: Sergeant
Honours and Gallantry:
Not known
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Tail Gunner

Name: Sgt TUCKER
Service: RAFVR ?
Service Number: .....
Date and Place of Birth: .....
Next of Kin: .....
Rank: Sergeant
Honours and Gallantry:
Not known

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Additional Crew Information

Posting TO and FROM 462 Squadron for the two Officers, FORDHAM and MOORHOUSE, have not been found in the ORB for December 1942, or January/February 1943. NCOs were not usually recorded in postings.

FORDHAM did not fly an Op as second pilot, but at the rank of Squadron Leader, he was experienced in Ops flying.
MOORHOUSE, at the rank of Flying Officer, was also probably experienced in Ops.
The two officers may have have been commencing their second Tour (supposition only).
However the four Sergeants may have been on their First Tour (also supposition).
Previous postings of crew members not known (at creation of crew page, 06 April 2021).

Air Force Lists and London Gazettes were consulted, in an unsuccessful attempt to identify the four Sergeants in this crew. LOOMES, RICH (or RICK), PARSONS and TUCKER, were all listed without initials in the ORB, for their Op with FORDHAM.
No Air Force was listed, which usually means they were RAF or RAFVR (A, or NZ, or CAN was used for other Air Forces).

The 2 gunners, PARSONS and TUCKER, were not listed for the Op in the Form 541, February 1943 ORB held at NAA. However their names, rank and duty had been added as hand-written entries onto a copy of the equivalent page at TNA, UK.

 

Pilot Douglas Anthony FORDHAM 39976 RAF

The London Gazette, Issue 34429, Tuesday 24 August 1937, page 5388
Royal Air Force, General Duties Branch – short service commission as Acting Pilot Officer on probation, with effect from and with seniority
09 August 1937 – Douglas Anthony FORDHAM

The London Gazette, Issue 34515, Tuesday 31 May 1938, page 3502
Royal Air Force, General Duties Branch – Acting Pilot Officers on probation are confirmed in their appointments and graded as Pilot Officers
24 May 1938 – Douglas Anthony FORDHAM

The London Gazette, Issue 34760, Tuesday 26 December 1939, page 8550
Royal Air Force, General Duties Branch – Pilot Officers promoted to the rank of Flying Officers
24 December 1939 – Douglas Anthony FORDHAM (39976)

The London Gazette, Issue 34945, Friday 13 September 1940, page 5488
Royal Air Force – The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards:- …….
Distinguished Flying Cross
13 September 1940 – Flying Officer Douglas Anthony FORDHAM (39976)
(No citation, and his posting at that time not mentioned)

The London Gazette, Issue 35037, Tuesday 07 January 1941, page 152
Royal Air Force, General Duties Branch – Flying Officers promoted to the rank of Flight Lieutenants
24 December 1940 – Douglas Anthony FORDHAM, D.F.C. (39976)

The London Gazette, Issue 35503, Friday 27 March 1942, page 1387
Royal Air Force, General Duties Branch – Flight Lieutenants to be Squadron Leaders (temp)
01 March 1942 – D. A. FORDHAM, D.F.C. (39976)

January (?) 1943 – Posted TO 462 Squadron, Middle East

05 February 1943 – First and only Op at 463 Squadron, crashed during return flight; hospitalised with injuries.
No further Ops at 462 Squadron after 05 February 1943

February (?) 1943 – Posted FROM 462 Squadron, Middle East.

The London Gazette, Issue 37356, Tuesday 20 November 1945, page 5647
Royal Air Force, General Duties Branch – Transfer to Reserve (and called up for Air Force Service)
Flt. Lts. (temp. Sqn. Ldrs.)
24 May 1943 – D. A. FORDHAM, D.F.C. (39976)

The London Gazette, Issue 38108, Tuesday 28 October 1947, page 5064
Royal Air Force, General Duties Branch – Promotions in substantive ranks
Flight Lieutenants to be Squadron Leaders
01 August 1947 – D. A. FORDHAM, D.F.C. (39976)

The London Gazette, Issue 38999, Tuesday 22 August 1950, page 4270
Royal Air Force, General Duties Branch – Transfer to Reserve (class A)
22 August 1950 – Squadron Leader D A FORDHAM, DFC, (39976)

An internet search for his name has found that FORDHAM had survived a previous aircraft loss.
17 May 1940 – F/O Douglas Anthony Fordham, 39976, of 82 Squadron, flying in a Blenheim IV P4851, UX-N, flying from Watten, target Gembloux, Belgium; shot down by a Me109 fighter;
deceased Obs. Sgt Frank FEARNLEY, and deceased WOp/AG Cpl Allen Glyndwr RICHARDS DFM; both names are on the Runnymede Memorial; also in the International Bomber Command Centre Losses Database, and wall panel; and listed in the CWGC along with 20 other members of 82 Squadron who also died on that date.
Various websites record this loss, including Aviation Safety Network ( https//aviation-safety.net/wikibase/141356 ),
and France-Crashes 39-45 ( http://francecrashes39-45.net - website in French ).

From the above, it can be seen that Douglas FORDHAM had long term Air Force career, and was fortunate to survive two aircraft losses.

 

Observer Ronald MOORHOUSE 121921 RAFVR

Information was received from Derek of the Police Remembrance Trust (PRT) on Facebook and Twitter. The organisation daily commemorate a Police Officer who lost their life as a result of war – MOORHOUSE on 06 February. Before the War, he was a Police Constable in Leeds, Yorkshire.

Derek of PRT sent the 2 photos shown in previous section.
The pre-war portrait photo of Ronald MOORHOUSE in Police uniform is from the book "The Leeds Police 1836-1974", written by Members of the Research and Planning Department of the Leeds City Police; Editor Ewart W. Clay; 180 pages; Published 1974 (details from Derek, and online Abebooks, also Google Books). An email was sent to the Media section of the West Yorkshire Police on 07/02/2021 requesting permission to use the photo, which is assumed to be from Leeds Police Archives. Little is currently known of Ronald's Police career, other than his Police number 703, visible on his Police uniform collar.

The second photo of MOORHOUSE in RAF uniform comes from a Leeds local newspaper, the Yorkshire Evening Post, dated 16 February 1943. The newspaper article accompanying the photo reads .....

"A Leeds policeman, who with a colleague, while in a patrol car in Burmantofts in June 1941, stopped a runaway horse, for which they were subsequently commended, is reported to have died on active service with the RAF, which he joined 18 months ago.
He is Pilot Officer Ronald Moorhouse (34) son of Mr and Mrs S. Moorhouse of Wooler Avenue, Beeston. He is an old boy of Cross Flats Council School and of Cockburn High School and was formerly Assistant Scoutmaster of Beeston Baptist troop."

The photo was probably taken soon after he received his Commission to the rank of Pilot Officer, and provided to the newspaper by his parents.

From the CWGC, death at age 33, or news article, death age 34, his birth year was 1909 or 1910.
From the news article, it is deduced that he enlisted in in the RAFVR in about August 1941.

From the website http://www.ab-ix.co.uk/rfc_raf.pdf which details RFC and RAF Service Numbers: ......
1425001 to 1474999 allocated from April 1941 at Cardington; includes 1436070 for MOORHOUSE.

From the London Gazette, Issue 35654, Tuesday 04 August 1942, page 3415
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, General Duties Branch
to be Pilot Officer, from the rank of Leading Aircraftman
1436070 Ronald MOORHOUSE (121921) 9th May 1942
(He obviously had potential, and his Police training and experience probably assisted his early Commission.)

From the London Gazette, Issue 35973, Friday 09 April 1943, page 1638
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, General Duties Branch
Pilot Officers to be Flying Officers
R. MOORHOUSE (121921) 9th November 1942

MOORHOUSE was listed as Pilot Officer in Op in the ORB. Similarly, some paperwork held by the CWGC also listed him as P/O, later amended to Flying Officer.
His original burial was at the Barce Military Hospital Cemetery, Cyrenaica (Grave reference 3.F.2. with Cross). His remains were exhumed and re-buried at Benghazi War Cemetery on 12 August 1944, into Plot 7, Row D, Grave 24.
His headstone (from CWGC records) reads ....

Flying Officer
R. Moorhouse
Royal Air Force
6th February 1943 Age 33
† (Cross)
We shall meet
In the morning

 

Wireless Operator Sgt RICH (or RICK)

Only listed with FORDHAM Crew as Sgt, no initials, no Service Number (and last letter of surname over-typed).
No further Ops at 462 Squadron after the crash, injury, and hospitalisation on 5/6 February 1943.

There was a later Sgt V RICHARDSON as W/Op from May to November 1943, but he seems to have been a permanent member of another crew.

 

Flight Engineer Sgt LOOMES

Only listed with FORDHAM Crew as Sgt, no initials, no Service Number.
On 5/6 February 1943, he was admitted to hospital suffering from shock, but subsequently discharged, presumably returning to duty.

He is assumed to be Flight Engineer E LOOMES who later flew a further 8 Ops with Pilot WARNER and Crew, who, in Halifax II W7758 failed to return from an Op on the night of 14 July 1943. Four were killed, and 2 survivors (one being F/Eng E LOOMES) were rescued from the sea by British Navy vessels. Twice lucky!
He was not listed for any subsequent Ops.

 

Mid Gunner Sgt PARSONS

Only listed with FORDHAM Crew as Sgt, no initials, no Service Number.
On 5/6 February 1943, he was admitted to hospital suffering from shock, but subsequently discharged, presumably returning to duty.

There were 2 Gunners named PARSONS in 462 Squadron; each sometimes Mid Gunner, each sometimes Tail Gunner; but on different Ops for the same 2 crews (Pilots HALLEY and BAKER) – except for one Op on 12 June 1943 when P/O PARSONS was flying as Tail Gunner for BAKER, and Sgt PARSONS as Mid Gunner for HALLEY (also possibly recording errors). Based on the number of recording errors elsewhere in the ORB, they may actually have been the same person.

1. Sgt PARSONS, initials A, or S, or A S, or R W, or none – listed on Ops from 5 February 1943 to 03 July 1943.

2. P/O Roy Edward PARSONS 129972 RAFVR, previously F/Sgt 901365, who was Commissioned on 30 August 1942, and had been awarded a DFM as F/Sgt at 405 Sqdn in September 1941. He was listed on Ops from 07 April 1943 – sadly Roy Edward was was one of the four KIA with WARNER’s crew on 14 July 1943.

 

Tail Gunner Sgt TUCKER

Only listed with FORDHAM Crew as Sgt, no initials, no Service Number.
No further Ops at 462 Squadron after the crash, injury, and hospitalisation on 5/6 February 1943.

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Details of Op on the night of 05/06 February 1943

Form 540, Summary of Events, 462 Squadron ORB .... (quote, as originally recorded)

Solluch No. 1, 1943 Feb. 5

Nine Halifax II aircraft were detailed to attack Shipping in Palermo Harbour.
An alternative target of Train Ferry Terminus at Messina was given. All nine
aircraft took off, but 4 returned early not having reached the target owing to
mechanical failures or severe icing. The remaining 5 aircraft reached the target
area to find 10/10ths cloud tops 12000ft with poor visibility. Attacks were made
from heights of 11000 – 12000ft a total bomb load of 16,000 lbs being dropped and
some bursts seen in the harbour and town areas, with explosions. Defences were the
same as on the 3rd February 1943. One aircraft landed at Berka No. 3 on return and
another aircraft crashed 10 miles south of Barce on return, the aircraft being a
total wreck. The navigator (P/O. Moorhouse) received injuries to which he later
succumbed. The Captain, WOP/AG, and rear gunner received injuries and were transferred
to Base Hospital in Egypt, the Flight Engineer and Mid Gunner were admitted to
Hospital suffering from shock and subsequently discharged.

(Defences on 03 Feb, Palermo Harbour – "Spasmodic heavy and intense light flak
up to 14,000ft was encountered together with up to 30 search lights in cones. Some
10 ballons (sic) were observed at 6,700ft.)

 

Form 541, Detail of Work Carried out, 462 Squadron ORB
05/06 February 1943, nine Halifax II aircraft detailed to attack Shipping in Palermo Harbour (Listed as 1 to 9 as per the sequence in the ORB. The pages from the NAA are blurred and very difficult to read, so apologies for any errors. Digital files from TNA UK are more legible.)

1. Halifax II W7848 "Y" – S/Ldr FORDHAM, fuel shortage due to difficulty in locating target due to cloud, crashed on return
2. Halifax II W7849 "V" – P/O F J ELLISON, early return, u/s starboard inner engine
3. Halifax II W1170 "U" – F/Sgt W J SPENCER, early return, port inner engine glycol temperature
4. Halifax II W1172 "Q" – F/O F BIRMINGHAM, early return due to mishap with mid turret gun
5. Halifax II DT486 "O" – Sgt M F HALL, one bomb hung up, released manually
6. Halifax II W7826 "M" – F/O W C E CRAIG, landed away at Berka, due to fuel shortage after delay over target
7. Halifax II DT501 "J" – W/O H VERTICAN, early return, aircraft unable to gain height
8. Halifax II DT495 "D" – Sgt H R GREEN, bombed successfully
9. Halifax II W7655 "C" – S/Ldr R O BUSKELL, bombed successfully

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Aircraft Loss Halifax II W7848 "Y"

ORB, Form 541, Detail of Work Carried out, 462 Squadron ORB
05/06 February 1943 ...... (quote, as originally recorded) ...

Took off from Solluch No. 1 at 1735 on 05 February 1943
Crashed at Barce at 0115 on 06 February 1943

This a/c as detailed to attack Shipping in
Palermo Harbour with 6 x 1000lbs GPN IR. Could not
find target. Jettisoned bombs as petrol got short.
W/OP was unable to obtain QDM until 0110 hrs.
when it was obtained 283 from El Adem. Capt. at
once altered course but a/c hit ground at once.
Position later found to be 10 miles S.
of Barce. A/C was total wreck. P/O Moorhouse
received injuries to which he later succumbed.
The Captain, WOP/AG. and Tail Gunner received
injuries which necessitated their admission to
a local hospital and later removal to base
Hospital in Egypt. The Flight Engineer and
Mid Gunner were admitted to Hospital suffering
from shock and since discharged, Weather
Conditions – Icing on return journey. Vis. NIL

Palermo Harbour, north-west coast of Sicily.

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