The Hemingway story

The “Curley’ Stone” crew flew their 1st op with 98 sqdn. on 22 April 1944. They were screened on 03 August 1944, having put in their 50 trips.  An uncle of mine, Sgt James Le Blanc, was one of the crew’s A/Gs.  
 
The crew, with the exception of a single op, consisted of :
Plt    F/O ‘Curley’ Stones.  RCAF.  (Winnipeg)
Nav F/O ‘Gremlin’ Walkerdine. RCAF.
A/G Sgt James ‘Jofo’ Le Blanc. RCAF. (New Richmond)
A/G Sgt Ed Kornlowitch. (Alberta)
 

A request for information came into the Society from Michael LeBlanc in Canada. Can anyone shed more light on the story recounted?

“To date I have been unable to find more information on the officers – not even initials. Hoping someone can help.
I do have a  crew photo and have a trove of family letters between my uncle, his two other brothers in the RCAF (78 & 425 Sqdns.), all sent to their mother. Lots of great gossip about him and his fellow NCO gunner drinking and lots of chat about chasing pretty British girls together.

Uncle Jim was a wonderful story tells, always presented with great humour. He use to tell one about a trip made with Ernest Hemingway on board and the incident, when after being hit by flak, they lagged behind and that to run the flak concentrated on them.

Hemingsway’s then pal and fellow newsman from the News Chronicle Special Correspondent, Michael Moynihan, flew with P/O Stevenson & Rees in ‘U’. He describes the same incident in some detail his book ‘War Correspondent – unfit for service’, but no date is given and an original newspaper clipping of the same story from Jim’s papers has no date.

Moynihan and Hemingway had been haunting the station in that period hoping for a trip of their own while doing some stories on the boys. Getting late notice of the op, they rushed to the field getting there at the very last last moment and hoped on the nearest kites. Their names do not show up in the Monthly Summaries nor in the daily ORBs

Unfortunately, I’m having difficulty identifying exactly what date this took place on with the various clues offered so far.

Time of take-off shortly after 2 pm.
Stones & Stevenson flying.

Can anyone help flesh out more of this crew’s story ?

It would be interesting to know if anyone else has anyone else heard of the ‘Hemingway’ story or others similar to this one ?”

Michael LeBlanc

PS:

Included are two versions of the same story by Michael Moynihan (one in June/July 1944-  ‘I went a bombing  . . . ‘ and the other in 1994, from his book, ‘War Correspondent – deemed’ unfit for service’. Both shed light on events prior to and after the Hemingway flight.
 

Download the PDF file .

‘War Correspondent – Deemed unfit for duty’ – extract

You will also find the 540s for 22 April and 20 June. The first because Jim describes getting a minor flesh wound and at the same time refers to newsmen who had been interviewing them and taking their pictures.As a ‘country boy’, Jim would have known nothing of Hemingway and his reputation. If he had, he would certainly have crowed about meeting him in letters back home –  there is nary a mention of ‘Papa’ in any surviving letters. h

Download the PDF file .

Dick Wise (a fellow I contacted yesterday) is sure the Hemingway flight took place on 20 June (pm). Everything is right except that Jim is in sickbay at the time and missed that flight.

Perhaps he inserted himself into a good story he got from his crew when entertaining later in life. If so, the question is, based on Moynihan 1994 account, who could tell a taller tale – Jim or Hemingway ? No doubt War Time censorship played a role in this confusion if Jim was being true by delay and by restrictions of information, by News dead lines, by need for items to stuff papers with etc.  reported own quirks & foibles and a host of other matters.  The ‘story’ is always more proverbially important than the facts in them – as we have all learned over time.

Regardless if Jim was on that flight or not, Moynihan (cynical in the 44 item) leaves no doubt, in 1994, about how the Sqdn felt about Hemingway after reading his (so far un-traceable) account of that flight some short time later.
Perhaps that answers the question. Papa could tell a bigger story than Jim did.   Michael LeBlanc

Postscript: More detail on the Hemingway story can be seen in the February 2009 issue of ‘Dispersals’ the newsletter of the 2nd Tactical Air Force Medium Bombers Association. http://www.bamf.be/Dispersals/Dispersals_Feb_09.pdf

XZ494 Harrier – restoration

Harrier XZ494

The Harrier was purchased about 10 years ago by my friend Neil Banwell. I met him about 3 years ago and said I would be interested in cleaning the Harrier and from there on I have moved to restoring it. I have attached some photos from when Neil first purchased it to how it looks now. There is still more to do, and we are still looking for bits, so if you know of any, I would be very interested in them.    Cris.

XZ494 arriving at its home in Somerset, not far from where it was based at RNAS Yeovilton

XZ494 as purchased from Everett Aero.

XZ494 in its hanger with the Pegasus Engine

XZ494 being sprayed before delivery.

The cockpit after some restoration, still missing items to complete the cockpit

When removing a panel, I found this written on the inside. If you could shed any light on this I would be greatly pleased.

Could Red Arrows ‘come home’ to Dunsfold?

Many will have seen the news last week that the RAF is closing Scampton – the airbase which, among other things, is the home of the iconic Red Arrows display team. Those with an interest in UK aviation history, including neighbours living around Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey, will probably also know that the Hawk trainer jet which is used by the Red Arrows was developed, assembled and first flown at the Dunsfold Aerodrome in 1974.  More than a few people are therefore asking the question – is now the time to consider offering a new base for the Red Arrows, at the historic home of the Hawk, Dunsfold Aerodrome?

Hawk 168 in 1985 over Dunsfold: Image by Andy Lawson/ BAe Systems

Red Arrows and BAe aircraft in 1985 at Dunsfold: Image by Andy Lawson/ BAe Systems

Red Arrows at Dunsfold 2010. Photo courtesy Karen Sutton www.limelight-marketing.co.uk

By coincidence (or may it be providence?), a rare example of a Hawker Hunter fighter jet which has for many years been on public display in a shopping street in Woking, is also looking for a new home. ‘XL623’ was the last Hunter T.7 to be built, and it is believed it first flew at Dunsfold.

T7 Hunter XL 623 as art in Woking
T.7 Hunter XL 623 as art in Woking Photo Courtesy Neil Randell

T.7 Hunter XL 623 being removed from Woking, July 2018 Photo Courtesy Carol Fenton-Balch

XL623. Royal Air Force Hawker Hunter T.7 at RAF Leuchars. Image copyright Jim Cain

Having been donated to Brooklands Museum, and with the help of the Hawker Association, restoration of Hunter T7 XL623  is about to begin – very fittingly at Dunsfold Aerodrome! How good would it be if that aircraft could also find a permanent home at the Dunsfold site?

Dunsfold Aerodrome is also the semi-permanent home of the Brooklands-owned VC10 aircraft, which although not fit to fly, regularly starts up its engines for a short taxi round the runways. In addition, it is a base frequently used by a WW2 Dakota painted in D-Day landing colours.

In the past year, the Aerodrome has benefitted from a flurry of Listings of buildings on the near-intact and still operational airfield.   During 2017, Historic England listed as Grade II;

VSTOL Blast Pads

Engine Running Pens

Royal Observer Corps Monitoring Post

Canadian War Memorial

So are we about to see a resurgence of interest in Dunsfold Aerodrome becoming a living museum as the home of a VC10, Hunter XL623, and – possibly? – a base for the Red Arrows flight of Hawk jets?    Well, while the threat of obliteration of the aerodrome under housing development remains, this would seem a remote dream. But, surely, the site owners, who often cite their interest in the flying history of the airfield, would do well to consider how popular such a proposal might be, and how many tourists the new museum could attract? It may, just, be time for the planes to come home to Dunsfold.

Banner Image: Red Arrows at Dunsfold 2010. Image courtesy of Gareth Stringer

Collection of Photos from heyday of Dunsfold

Eric Hayward had worked at Dunsfold for many years and over that time was able to take photographs of the activities and aircraft that he saw.   His whole collection has been scanned and assembled into an album on Flickr.  Whilst it is a diverse collection, in no particular date order, many images are from Dunsfold, and some are of very significant aircraft.

If you can assist in identifying aircraft and locations, please do add the detail in the comment section.

Eric Hayward. Mainly Dunsfold

How can you help?

Dunsfold Airfield History Society is keen to encourage you to help us preserve the valuable and unique heritage that is Dunsfold Airfield.

How can you help?

You can do so in a number of ways:

  1. You can become a free member of the Society by subscribing to this website with a simple email registration.
  2. You can add to the information on this website, via the comments sections, the forum, or by contacting us directly.
  3. You can support our recent submission for the Aerodrome to be designated a Conservation Area.  Conservation Area status is a vital step to protecting the buildings and structures from further decay.