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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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485 Squadron Spitfire IX MH364 Fl/Sgt. Frank Transom

Operation: Rodeo 263

Date: 20th October 1943 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 485 Squadron (motto: Ka Whawhai Tonu - 'We Will Fight On')

Type: Spitfire IX

Serial: MH364

Code: OU-N

Base: RAF Hornchurch, Essex

Location: West of Margate

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Frank Transom NZ/416575 RNZAF Age 22. Survived


Burial details:

Taking off at 09:00 hrs for a sweep over Lille and Vitry area with 10 others. The squadron also sent 10 aircraft on Ramrod 277 to Lille in the afternoon.

An unlucky operation for the Squadron. The Wing was detailed as Fighter Sweep to sweep Lille and Vitry under Hythe Control.

Fl/Sgt. Neville Ernest Frehner NZ/415409 engine cut on take off before he was airborne, and he managed to avoid running into a pillbox just by ‘A’ Flight before his undercarriage collapsed and the aircraft came to a halt on the perimeter track.

The Wing flew at low altitude until about 20 miles northwest of Furnes at 09:30 hrs. and then climbed rapidly crossing the Belgian coast at 10,000’ reaching the Ostend area at 09:45 at 20,000’.

Above: Frank with his ground crew (courtesy Air Museum of New Zealand)

During a starboard turn, Blue Section which was on the port was attacked from below and astern by 4 Fw190s. Fl/Lt. Gaskin (Blue 1) ordered the section to break port and whilst breaking saw a Spitfire hit in the oil tank. This was Fl/Sgt Transom. Blue 1 found himself behind an Fw190 and damaged it, leaving it on its back streaming white smoke.

Blue 3, Fl/Sgt. Transom was hit and oil covered his windscreen and hood. He managed to shake off further enemy opposition and dived down in aileron turns to 13,000’ until 12 miles off the Belgian coast. He then gave fixes and was guided back by Operations and eventually made landfall at North Foreland. He intended to glide to Manson but when the engine which had been just windmilling over started to belch smoke, he decided to bale out from 3,000’ and came down West of Margate.

On returning on October 26th to pick up his parachute, he was taking off from Manston with the Squadron Intelligence Officer (F/O. Anthony Vandyk) in the Tiger Moth when the aircraft crashed. Neither occupant was injured, so twice in 6 days Fl/Sgt. Transom was lucky.

Neither Blue 2 (F/O. Ronald Lavender Baker NZ/391337) nor Blue 4 (F/O. John Gordon Thomson NZ/413510) returned and they are thought to have been shot down. (Further details here).

Two of the Fw190s had unusually long noses and 'Thunderbolt' camouflage with white rings around the cowlings.

After breaking for the 4 Fw190s the rest of the Squadron continued with the sweep which the Wing made uneventfully over the Lille area, returning at around 11:00 hrs.

(Details courtesy F/O. Anthony Vandyk war diaries - see acknowledgements below)

F/O. Transom born on the 12th of October 1921 in Taihape, died on the 16th of September 2005.

Above 485 squadron pilots relaxing - all survived the war L-R: John Arthur Houlton NZ/413543 (died 16th April 1996), Frank Transom NZ/416575 (died 16th September 2005) Royce Harry de Tourret NZ/412213 (died 06th February 1959), Athol Janes Downer NZ/417039 (died 10th July 1986).Taken on the 18th March 1942. (courtesy Air Museum of New Zealand)

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, New Zealand Cenotaph, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, National Archive Kew AIR-27-1933-60/61, The great website of Dave Holmwood 'Wings Over New Zealand.

Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 05-06-2023

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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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