Wing Commander Vic Hodgkinson DFC MiD
Wing Commander Vic Hodgkinson DFC MiD
Born: October 17th 1917 Sidney, Australia. Died: November 20th 2010 Age 94.
He flew his first operation in March 1940, followed by many convoy patrols. He was particularly busy during the evacuation of British forces from France in June 1940. On June 19 his aircraft took the Colonial Secretary, Lord Lloyd, to Bordeaux to try to persuade Admiral Darlan not to allow French warships to fall into German hands. The delegation did not receive a warm welcome.
In December, flying from Oban, Scotland, Hodgkinson made a determined but unsuccessful attack on a submarine, which he had encountered while supporting a convoy. Two months later he had another encounter with a U-boat, which he depth-charged and forced to dive. This gave the convoy he was protecting time to steam clear of the danger area and an escorting corvette carried on the attack and drove the U-boat away.
On April 28th 1941, Hodgkinson was returning from a patrol short of fuel and in dense fog. His Sunderland flying boat crashed into the Irish Sea and broke up, killing six of his crew. The five survivors spent the next 10 hours in a three-man dinghy before they were rescued.
On his final patrol, on December 23, Hodgkinson was over the Bay of Biscay when he sighted an 8,000-ton tanker heading into the Atlantic. When he challenged the vessel, she responded with a false name. After his headquarters radioed him to attack, he dropped six depth charges and two bombs, scoring a hit which caused the tanker to list.
His aircraft was damaged by anti-aircraft fire and forced to return to Plymouth, but Hodgkinson’s sighting prompted a determined hunt, and over the next 24 hours the tanker was shadowed and attacked. After being struck by a torpedo, she was forced to beach on the Spanish coast. The ship turned out to be Benno, a captured Norwegian oil tanker being used to refuel U-boats at sea.
Victor Alean Hodgkinson was born near Sydney, Australia, on October 17 1916 and educated at Sydney Technical High School. After becoming a pilot with the RAAF he was posted abroad for flying boat training.
Thus he was in Britain at the outbreak of war and, when the Australian government ordered 10 (RAAF) Squadron to assist the war effort, Hodgkinson soon joined it.
After his tour of duty in Britain, for which he was mentioned in despatches, Hodgkinson returned to Australia and joined 20 (RAAF) Squadron, flying Catalina flying boats. Based in the north of Queensland, he attacked Japanese shipping around New Guinea and bombed targets in the Solomon Islands. The Catalina was also used to drop supplies to the Allied “coast-watchers” in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Some of these flights were of 25 hours duration.
fter completing 44 long-range operations in the south-west Pacific campaign, Hodgkinson was awarded a DFC and sent as chief flying instructor to a flying boat training unit. Towards the end of the war he formed and commanded 40 (RAAF) Squadron flying Sunderlands from Port Moresby, New Guinea. He left the RAAF in May 1946 and returned to England, where he joined BOAC as a pilot. Hodgkinson flew the airline’s civil Sunderland conversions (Hythes, Sandringhams and Solents) before, in 1950, transferring to Argonauts and Britannias. He was one of the early Comet captains, and finished his flying career on the Boeing 707. He retired in 1971, having amassed 19,300 hours, including some 4,300 hours on flying boats.
Hodgkinson and his wife settled at Lymington, Hampshire, where he helped restore a Short Sandringham flying boat which became the central exhibit at the Southampton Hall of Aviation, of which he was a trustee.
He married in 1941, and his wife survives him with their three sons, two of whom followed him into British Airways.
His family contacted us since this page was published and sent us further information.
Reprinted with the kind permission of the Daily Telegraph obituaries column.
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Article prepared by Barry Howard.