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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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56 Squadron Crest
20.06.1943 No. 56 Squadron Typhoon Ib EK174 US-C Sq/Ldr. Pheloung

Operation: Convoy Strike

Date: 20th June 1943 (Sunday)

Unit: No. 56 Squadron. 12 Group (motto: Quid si coelum ruat - 'What if heaven falls')

Type: Typhoon Ib

Serial: EK174

Code: US-C

Base: RAF Matlask, Norfolk

Location: English Channel

Pilot: Sq/Ldr. Thomas Henry Vincent Pheloung 40134 RAF Age 28. Killed


Taking off at 12:00 leading the squadron. Scrambled to intercept a convoy but they failed to find it. However, they did find a couple of minesweepers and two armed trawlers which they then attacked.

Immediately after the attack EK174 was seen to be streaming white smoke. Thomas called that his engine temperature had climbed to a level that he was sure he would not make it back to their base. He then climbed to 1200 ft and sent in his 'mayday'.

His No. 2 kept around watching for enemy fighters but when he turned around he saw the Typhoon in a steep diving turn at around 600 ft, just before it hit the sea. None of the squadron saw any parachute.

His body was later recovered by a German minesweeper and taken to Dunkirk where he was buried.

Above: Sq/Ldr. Thomas Pheloung shown in centre with others from 56 Squadron. (courtesy Michel Beckers)

On the 14th January 1943 made squadron commander following 26 year old, Sqn/Ldr. Anthony Collyer Johnston DFC (1). 80083 RAF being shot down by anti-aircraft fire in Typhoon R8876 US-M at 09:56 hrs. Taken PoW No. 166 and remaining in Stalag Luft Sagan until war end. Anthony Johnston survived the war and passed away on the 15th October 1986 in Wiltshire, England. Born on the 18th December 1917 in Cape Town, South Africa where he gained a B.Sc in 1939.

(1) DFC Citation LG 02nd February 1943:

'This officer has completed many softies, including a number of low level attacks on tugs, 3 of which he has sunk, barges, locomotives and other targets. in addition he has destroyed an enemy aircraft in combat. He is a first class leader and sets a fine example to all'.

Burial details:

Sq/Ldr. Thomas Henry Vincent Pheloung. Dunkirk Town Cemetery. Plot 2 Row 4 Grave 15. Born on the 31st August 1914 at Oamaru, the son of Thomas and Esther Pheloung (née Robinson), of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand. Husband of Birgit L. Pheloung (née Nissen), of Fulham, London, England. Prior to service worked as paymaster/foreman for his fathers contracting business. He had completed 5 operational sorties with 485 squadron, but the number he completed whilst with 56 is not known.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Michel Beckers, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 26.08.2019

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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