23.08.1956 No. 63 Group De Havilland Vampire FB.5 WA142V Group Captain Groom
Date: 23rd August 1956 (Thursday)
Unit: No.63. Group
Type: De Havilland Vampire FB. 5
Base: RAF Hawarden, Flintshire, Wales
Location: Near Capel Ceyln, Merioneth, Wales
Pilot: Group Captain Alan Douglas Groom DSO 37075 RAF Age 43. Killed (1)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Group Captain Alan Douglas Groom was flying from RAF Hawarden to RAF Llanbedr, Wales when his aircraft came down near Capel Celyn. It is thought that he was overcome by fumes as he was wearing the wrong type of mask for the aircraft. At the time of his death he was the Acting Air Officer Commanding No. 63 Group
RAF Hawarden runway and base. De Havilland Vampire
No further information as yet. He is remembered on the Brisbane Grammar School War Memorial
(1) Born on the 9th September 1913, Alan Douglas Groom was the first Queenslander to recieve the Sword of Honour will under training at Point Cook in 1935. Air Cadet Alan Douglas Groom arrived in the UK on the 14th February 1935 posted to RAF Depot, Uxbridge. He was granted a short service commission for 5 years as Pilot Officer with effect from 19th February 1935.
P/O. A. D. Groom was posted to No. 9 Squadron on the 4th April 1935. While serving with No. 9 Squadron at RAF Scampton on the 9th August 1937 F/O. A D Groom took off in Heyford III K6867 for a Sector and Combined night training exercise.
The aircraft developed a problem with the W/T and was returning to base to have the equipment serviced. Down to 20 feet and over the flare path an engine cut out and the aircraft crashed and was totally wrecked. F/O. Groom was safe and was a very experienced pilot with many hours flying Heyfords and other aircraft.
On the 24th March 1938 he was promoted to the rank of Acting Flight Lieutenant and in August 19th was confirmed in the rank of Flight Lieutenant. February 19th 1940 Flight Lieutenant Groom was granted a permanent commission in the RAF and was promoted to the rank of (Temp) Squadron Leader later that year. On the 1st June 1942 (Temp) Squadron Leader Groom was promoted to the rank of Wing Commander. Alan Douglas Groom became a prisoner of war in Ambarawa prison. On his released he was sent by Rear-Admiral Patterson to Soerakarta and Jogjakarta to release political prisoners and British prisoner of war in September 1945
While working with the 49th Indian Infantry Brigade in Sourabaja, Java 27th October - 31st October 1945 the now as Acting Wing Commander Alan Douglas Groom was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) as per London Gazette Friday 5th April 1946 " During the period 27th October to 31st October 1945 Wing Commander Groom was working with the 49th Indian Infantry Brigade at Sourabaja, Java. Throughout this period the city was in the hands of an uncontrolled mob who, with Indonesian Forces, launched continual and fanatical attacks against points held by detachments of Indian troops. The fighting was very bitter and lone men, or small parties making their way to safety, were butchered under circumstances of the utmost barbarity.
Photograph of grave kindly supplied by Graham Summers (aviation journalist) - sent into Aircrew Remembered May 2017 - grave located at Abingdon Oxfordshire.
British Officers were dragged from their cars and murdered. Wing Commander Groom, in view of personal knowledge of the Indonesian leaders, their, language and acquaintance with the freedom movement, volunteered to act as Liaison Officer. He completely ignored the extreme danger to his life, moving unarmed from area to area in which fighting was taking place and parleying with the frenzied mobs and their irresponsible leaders. Wing Commander Groom was threatened, abused and manhandled yet, despite fatigue, he continued unsparingly for 36 hours in his attempts to stop the attacks on our troops. By his efforts a number of engagements were brought to a close, and the movement of small bodies of troops to greater safety was successfully arranged. Wing Commander Groom afforded inestimable help to the Brigade Commander. By his sustained gallantry and resolution he saved many lives and set an example that was an inspiration to all"
Repatriated in November 1945 having been a POW in Java for over 3 years he was promoted to the rank of Group Captain on the 1st July 1951 while serving at R.A.F. Waddington.
Group Captain Groom DSO was transferred to Oslo in 1953 as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Administration in the Allied Air Force, Northern Europe and in 1955 was assigned to Headquarters No. 63 Group for administrative staff duties
Researched by: Kate Tame for Aircrew Remembered and for all the relatives and friends of the crew.
Acknowledgements: With special thanks to W R Chorley Bomber Command Losses 1939-1940 Including Prewar Losses July 1936 - September 1939, London Gazette archives, Imperial War Museum, Flight Archives, National Archives Australia, Malcolm Barrass BEd. - www.rafweb.org