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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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W/Cdr. Raymond Irwin Crump AFC AE
148 Squadron and Metropolitan Communication Squadron

By the combination of the Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Flying Corps on the 1st of April 1918, the Royal Air Force was formed, and by the 3rd of June a new award, the Air Force Cross, (AFC) was granted by the King to these new flying officers who, ‘displayed an act or acts of exemplary gallantry while flying, though not in active operations against an enemy'.

Between 1918 and 1940 838 AFCs were awarded, whilst in WW2 just over 2,000.

Wing Commander Raymond Irwin Crump 112375 was awarded his AFC in 1945, for his transportation of VIPs with the Metropolitan Communications Squadron.

Born at Wolverhampton, on the 25th June 1913, he was the son of William and Florence Crump who lived at The Vicarage, Clifton-on-Teme, Worcestershire.

After leaving school Raymond went into banking, spending his free time learning to fly at the Worcestershire Flying School, gaining his Royal Aero Club Aviators Licence (No 15234) on the 17th August 1937, flying in a Cirrus Moth.

Within two years Raymond had enlisted into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve as an AC2 on the 25th April 1939, on a five year engagement, his service record describing him as 5’8” tall, with brown hair and blue eyes, chest 35”, he was given a service number of 748100. He attended the annual training camp at RAF Elmdon from the 4th June until the 18th June 1939, having been promoted to Sergeant rank on the 26th April.

With war clouds forming in Europe, Raymond was mobilised at Birmingham on the 1st September 1939, volunteering to undertake formal training as a pilot. He married his childhood sweetheart Dorothy Grace Selman on the 9th October 1939 at his village church in Clifton-on-Terne, before heading off to join No 4 Initial Training Wing (ITW) on the 30th October.

He was then attached to No 3 Flying Training School (FTS) RAF South Cerney, Gloucestershire on the 18th November, until the 14th March 1940, when he was posted to No 11 Flying Training School. On the 20th March 1940 Raymond returned to No 3 Flying Training School until the 15th June 1940, when he was sent to No 15 Operational Training Unit (OTU). On the 1st April 1941 he was promoted to Temporary Flight Sergeant and finally awarded an emergency commission as a Pilot Officer (No 112375) on the 14th November 1941 (London Gazette 20.1.42).

The next day he was posted to No 15 OTU, (Bomber Command) at RAF Mount Farm, Dorchester, for flying duties, remaining as a supernumerary (a person in excess of the normal number) until 2nd December 1941, when he was posted to No 205 (Heavy Bomber) Group, RAF Shallufa, Egypt, Middle East Command. On the 22nd December 1941 Raymond was posted to No 148 (Bomber) Squadron at RAF Kabrit Egypt, flying the Vickers Wellington. In 1940 the squadron was based in Malta, but was forced to withdraw to Egypt in March 1941, its Wellingtons flying bombing operations against Axis forces in the Western Desert, supporting the 8th Army.

By early 1942 the squadron was not a happy unit, long stressful hours flying, combined with various mechanical problems with the engines, and lack of supplies. This resulted in all its NCO aircrew flying operationally, facing charges of insubordination, with five of them eventually appearing before a court martial. The twin axes and motto ‘Trusty’ shown on the squadron badge being rather ironic.

Pilot Officer Crump was attached to ‘A’ Flight with his first operational flight taking place on the 29th January 1942 flying Wellington Mk II Z8367 from Kabrit to Landing ground No 09.

His full list of ops are shown as:-

4th February 1942 in Wellington Z8494 from Kabrit to LG 09 and return.

7th February 1942 in Wellington Z8350 from Kabrit to LG 09 and return to Kabrit.

28th February 1942 in Wellington M8498 from Kabrit to LG 09 and return.

2nd March 1942 in Wellington M8498 from Kabrit to LG 09 and return.

4th March 1942 C8350 Air Test.

13th March 1942 M8498 from Kabrit to ALG106 (near El Alamein Egypt.

15th March 1942 C8350 from Kabrit to ALG106 (near El Alamein Egypt.

20th March 1942 C8350 from Kabrit to ALG106 (near El Alamein Egypt.

01st April 1942 W5582 from Kabrit to ALG106 (near El Alamein Egypt.

04th April 1942 Z8350 Air Test.

05th April 1942 Z8350 Local Flying and Ops Kabrit to ALG 106 in Z8568.

09th April 1942 Z8568 From Kabrit to Heraklion onto ALG 106 - this involved

supply dropping and a surprise attack on aerodromes in Crete, resulting in German aircraft on the ground destroyed, along with others attempting to take off.

22nd April 1942 DV505 Luqa- raid on Comiso -Luqa - Heavy raid on Malta, by Germans, some damage to squadron a/c but raid with 6 a/c was successful.

25th April 1942 DV505 Luga -Kabrit - More damage caused to a/c by enemy.

08th May 1942 DV655 Kabrit-Cochineal-ALG 106 Ops and transfer equipment.

12th May 1942 HF840 Ferrying stores/equipment to-ALG 106 -Benghazi.

14th May 1942 T2735 Dual Instruction.

15th May 1942 T2735 Dual Instruction.

23rd May 1942 DV618 Air Test.

This was the last flight ORB’s for June or July that P/O. Crump made with 148 Squadron, he does not appear in the ORB’s for June or July.

On the 14th July P/O Crump was transferred for Home Embarkation, landing at No 2 Personnel Despatch Centre RAF Wilmslow, Cheshire. He then took leave from the 16th July until 5th August 1942. On the 19th August 1942, P/O Crump was posted to The Metropolitan Communication Squadron at RAF Hendon as a Supernumerary, being promoted to Flying Officer on probation on the 1st October of that year, and then posted permanently to the fight, for the duration of the war. He received a permanent Commission as a Flight Lieutenant on the 1st January 1943.

His name appeared in the London Gazette of 7th September 1945 as being awarded the Air Force Cross.

The citation gave his flying hours as 2,300 hours, 1,100 on current duties and 100 in the previous 6 months:-

'This officer is a Flight Commander and pilot employed in the squadron responsible for conveying Very Important Personages. In this capacity has had as passengers among others, the Queen of the Netherlands, the Duke of Gloucester and the Regent of Iraq.He has built up the Flight, which he commands, to a high standard of efficiency. On two occasions recently he has shown courage and a high standard of airmanship, once when carrying out an important mission in extremely adverse weather conditions and with his radio unserviceable; and again when force landing a Hudson aircraft which had become damaged whilst engaged on a test flight.This is a thoroughly reliable and first-class pilot and flight commander'.

Raymond Crump stayed on in the RAF postwar and is shown still flying with the Metropolitan Communication Squadron in July 1946, however, by the 23rd October 1946 he is shown at No 100 RAF Personnel Dispersal Centre at RAF Uxbridge (28 Group), on an ‘A’ Release Class, back into civilian life. His last day of service being on Christmas Day 1946. He was awarded the Air Efficiency Medal ( London Gazette 28th February 1946), unfortunately being wrongly named

Flt Lt R.I. Crump. (**4,991 AE awards between 1942-2005 to RAFVR).

Obviously civilian life didn’t suit him, within seven months he had applied to rejoin the RAF, and was recalled as a Supernumerary Flight Lieutenant to RAF Uxbridge on the 27th July 1947. Two days later he was sent to RAF Bushy Park, the HQ of Transport Command as a Supernumerary for disposal.

On the 5th August 1947 he was posted to RAF Pershore for further training within 46 Group, and promoted to Acting Squadron Leader on the 1st November that year. On the 17th May 1948 he was sent on a further training course at RAF Manston in Kent. On the 3rd November S/L Crump was sent to RAF South Cerney (23 Group), and then attended No 109 Flying Instructors Course at the Central Flying School RAF Hullavington.

On the 11th May 1949 he attended No 7 Flying Training School at RAF Cottesmore as a Supernumerary. Twelve days later he attended No 3 Flying Training School at RAF Feltwell, passing out as a Qualified Instructor.

On the 18th July 1949 S/L Crump was posted No 6 Flying Training School at RAF Ternhill as a Supernumerary, and becoming Chief Ground Instructor, for the following two and half years. On the 27th March 1952 he was posted onto a Staff Course at Flying Training Command HQ at Shinfield Park near Reading, lasting 18 months.

He was then attached to HQ 21 Group at Morton Hall RAF Swinderby, on the 17th September 1953, as a Supernumerary, involved with Air Staff Training, pending a posting, and promoted to Wing Commander on the 1st January 1954.

On the 8th November 1954 he attended a Flying Refresher Course at No 12 Flying Training School at RAF Western Zoyland.

On the 11th March 1955 he was initially posted as a Supernumerary to the HQ 2nd Tactical Air Force Command RAF Rheindahlen, West Germany, which was then made permanent on the 27th March 1955.

During the early morning of Thursday 28th July 1955, Wing Commander 42 year old Crump was the pilot of an Avro Anson C 12, (PH 618) along with his co-pilot Squadron Leader 33 year old, James Tucker Hart. Also on board was Wing Commander 47 year old, Leonard Neville King, an engineer attached to the Airfield Construction Branch, 33 year old, Major Charles Drake Nodder of the 11th Armoured Division Signal Regiment B.A.O.R. and a civilian, Mr John P.C.Searle.

During the flight W/C Crump, unfortunately, flew into rising ground, having descended below safety height in cloud, in the area of Altena, a municipality of North Rhine- Westphalia, Germany.

All the occupants were killed instantly.

The airforce members of the crew were buried at the Cologne Southern Cemetery, unable to trace where Mr John Searle is buried (Courtesy Naturstein - images available at a higher resolution to relatives)

Raymond Crump grave 21 Row B Grave 2 inscription: 'And from the ground there blossoms'.
James Hart grave 21 Row E Grave 2 inscription: 'The dearly loved and sadly missed husband of Anna'.
Leonard King grave 21 Row A Grave 2 inscription: 'The Wings of the Morning'.
Charles Nodder grave 21 Row A Grave 2 inscription: 'Well Beloved'.

Probate was administrated in London on 19th October 1955 to his widow Dorothy Grace, who was then living at 1, Malvenhurst, Priory Road, Malvern, Worcestershire.

The effects amounted to £1892 16 shillings and 11 pence.

Wing Commander Raymond Crump was entitled to wear:- The Air Force Cross (dated 1945), The 1939 Star The Africa Star - The Defence Medal - The 1939-45 War Medal - The Royal Air Force Efficiency Medal

Acknowledgements; Mr Alan Thomas - Air Historical Branch, RAF Collections - Royal Air Force Museum London Maria Robbins - RAF Disclosures Cranwell, Duncan Crittenden - MoD Medal Office, National Archives - Kew, Mr AC Dawrant - Royal Aero Club Trust, Marcus Budgen - Spink Auction House, Wing Commander Jim Routledge (Rtd), Aviation Safety Network. The London Gazette, Naturstein. Historical Aviation film unit for video.

Article researched for Aircrew Remembered October 2022. Please respect the copyright of Simon Muggleton.

SM/KTY 01-11-2022

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