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D.F.M. / U-BOAT SINKING / R.A.F.

We make war that we may live in peace.
Aristotle
Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.
Bible Genesis ix. 6.
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Stacks Image 18541
The Distinguished Flying Medal Register: Second World War:

Immediate;

D.F.M. named to: CONRISH, DONALD MERVIN. Can/R. 102446 Sergeant, R.C.A.F., No. 179 Sqn.

L.G. 23/11/43/ Sorties 36. Pilot. Air2/5020.

As Captain of a searchlight-fitted Wellington, Sergeant Cornish has located and attached two enemy submarines on successive patrols. His first attack was carried out in the Mediterranean on the night of 22nd Oct, 1943, and was pressed home with gallantry and determination in the face of enemy fire, his aircraft being hit in both wings, tail and one engine. Despite this, his attack was accurately delivered and the enemy submarine was observed to be stopped as a result. On his next patrol on the night of 25th October, 1943, Sergeant Cornish located another enemy submarine and again pressed home his attack in the face of heavy enemy fire. His aircraft was hit in the tail plane. The precision and accuracy with which Sergeant Cornish delivered his attack damaged the enemy submarine to such an extent that it was unable to submerge. Later intelligence proved that the submarine had been destroyed and that the survivors from the U-Boat had been landed at a Spanish port after being picked up by a Spanish trawler. In recognition of this and the gallantry and determination with which this N.C.O. has carried out his attacks, it is recommended that he be given an immediate award.

26th October, 1943.

Remarks by Station Commander:

"This N.C.O. has shown skill and determination to find and destroy the enemy. He has been rewarded by two attacks on consecutive patrols. On eash occasion, he carried out an excellent attck in the face of enemy fire, his second being a confirmed "Kill". It is strongly recommended that his fine performance be reward with the immediate award of the D.F.M.

On 24th October 1943, a Leigh Light Wellington of 179 SQN RAF (SGT D M Cornish RCAF) got a radar return West of Porto. Cornish homed in and circled to make an accurate attack, illuminating the boat and dropping 6 D/Cs. U-566 replied with gunfire however her usual luck against aircraft had run out. Despite damaging the Wellington, U-566's props and rudder were out of action. KL Hornkhol ordered the boat abandoned, and the crew left in good order. Meanwhile low fuel forced the Wellington to depart. U-566 was scuttled at 0430. The Spanish fishing boat Fina rescued the entire crew and brought them in to Vigo. By 31st October the crew had travelled by rail back to Brest.



A Wellington Mk.IA, rather battered and without guns in its turrets



German 37mm and 20mm anti-aircraft cannon on a Type VIIC U-Boat.
The Wellington was designed in the early 1930s, to meet specification B.9/32 for what was then called a "heavy" bomber. It used the geodetic construction method, developed by Barnes Wallis, in which the airframe was constructed as a metal network, and covered with fabric. This method had proven its value in the earlier Wellesley long-range bomber. The prototype made its first flight on 15 June 1936. Without nose and tail gun turrets, and with a different tailfin, the prototype looked very different from the production aircraft.

In October 1938 the first Wellingtons were delivered to No.9 Squadron. They had 1050hp Bristol Pegasus XVIII engines, Vickers gun turrets in the nose and tail, and a retractable Nash & Thompson belly turret. In 1939 deliveries of the Mk.IA began, which had powered Nash & Thompson turrets instead of the Vickers units. In the Mk.IC the belly turret was deleted, and two beam guns were installed. The Mk.II had 1145hp Rolls-Royce Merlin X engines, in anticipation of a shortage of Pegasus engines; but in reality there was a shortage of Merlins. The Mk.III had 1370hp Bristol Hercules III or XI engines, and had an usefully improved performance. The Mk.IV had Pratt & Whitney R-1830-S3C4G Twin Wasp engines.

The Mk.V and Mk.VI were high-altitude versions, equipped with a primitive pressure cabin, but their performance was disappointing, and they did not enter combat. The Mk.VII was cancelled, and the final bomber version was the Mk.X, with Hercules VI or XVI engines. The Mk.X also had a light alloy instead of a mild steel construction, so that the structure was stronger and lighter. The first Mk.X was delivered in July 1942.

Typically, the Wellington had a crew of five or six, including pilot, radio operator, navigator, and gunners. The wing had a single spar and two auxiliary spars, and was constructed in three sections. The upper and lower surfaces were geodetic panels. The fuselage was built up from panels with a geodetic construction, attached each other and to six main frames. The geodetic construction was very resistant to combat damage. The six fuel tanks held 750 imperial gallons; an extra 250 gallon tank could be carried in the bomb bay.

The RAF began the war with eight squadrons of Wellingtons. They participated in the first attacks of the war, including a disastrous one on Wilhelmshaven, where 10 of the 24 Wellingtons were shot down and three damaged. The lesson was clear: The bombers were too vulnerable in daylight attacks, and Bomber Command switched to night operations. The Wellington, a better bomber than the Hampden and Blenheim, became the backbone of a continuously expanding bomber force. Of the 1034 aircraft that took off for operation Millenium, the 1000-aircraft attack on Cologne, more than half were Wellingtons. But the new four-engined heavy bombers gradually replaced them, and after the autumn of 1943 the Wellington was no longer used for the bombardments of Germany.

In the autumn of 1940 Wellingtons arrived in the Middle East, and in the spring of 1942 two squadrons were sent to the Far East. In the Mediterranean the Wellington was used as a bomber until the end of 1944. When the war ended, Wellingtons had flown 346,440 operational hours in Europe, and 525,769 hours in the Middle and Far East.

Initially the maritime roles of the Wellington were limited. Aside from attacks on Germany, Bomber Command undertook "gardening" operations: Mine laying off of the European coasts. As a reaction to German mine laying efforts, the British created the Wellington DWI Mk.I, a very unusual modification of the Mk.I bomber. It was fitted with a ring 4.16m in diameter, and a generator to generate an electric current. The ring created a magnetic field, which made magnetic mines explode if the aircraft flew low over them.



A Wellington GR Mk.XIV.
Note open bomb bay doors, and radar radome under the nose
In April 1942 the Wellington GR Mk.VIII entered service with No.172 squadron of Coastal Command. The GR.VIII was a modified Mk.IC bomber, with ASV Mk. II Radar installed and in some cases also a Leigh Light. On 5 July, it sank its first U-boat, U-502. The next versions were the GR.XI, based on the Mk.X bomber with ASV Mk.II radar, and the GR.XII, which was similar to the GR.XI but carried a Leight Light. These three versions of the Wellington equipped 16 squadrons of Coastal Command.

The next versions were the GR.XIII and GR.XIV, both equipped with centimetric ASV Mk. II Radar in a nose blister, and powered by Hercules XVII engines. The GR.XIII was a daylight version which could carry two 18-inch torpedoes, while the GR.XIV had a Leight Light for night operations, and rocket launching rails under the wings.

The last of 11461 Wellingtons was delivered on 25 October 1945. The Wellington had become the most built British bomber. In later years the Wellington was gradually retracted from frontline duties, and bombers and patrol aircraft were converted into transports and trainers. The last trainers were retired in 1953. Only two Wellingtons have survived to the present day.



U-boat-566

Successes against aircraft

7 Aug, 1943
(American Ventura aircraft, Squadron VB-128)
Aircraft PV-1. The second shot down during this hunt.

7 Aug, 1943
(American Ventura aircraft, Squadron VB-128)
Aircraft PV-1

Operations information for U-566

26.07.1941 - 29.07.1941
First Sailing
U-566 left Trondheim under the command of Dietrich Borchert on 26th Jul 1941 and arrived at Kirkenes on 29th Jul 1941 after three days.

30.07.1941 - 19.08.1941
Second Sailing - active patrol
On the 30th Jul 1941, U-566 left Kirkenes under the command of Dietrich Borchert and returned to Kirkenes on 19th Aug 1941 after nearly three weeks on patrol.

30.08.1941 - 20.09.1941
Third Sailing - active patrol
U-566 departed under Dietrich Borchert from Kirkenes on 30th Aug 1941 and arrived back at Kirkenes on 20th Sep 1941 after three weeks on patrol.

22.09.1941 - 27.09.1941
Fourth Sailing
U-566 left Kirkenes under the command of Dietrich Borchert on 22nd Sep 1941 and after five days arrived at Bergen on 27th Sep 1941.

29.09.1941 - 02.10.1941
Fifth Sailing
On the 29th Sep 1941, U-566 left Bergen under the command of Dietrich Borchert and arrived at Kiel on 2nd Oct 1941 after three days.

03.12.1941 - 04.12.1941
Sixth Sailing
U-566 departed under Dietrich Borchert from Kiel on 3rd Dec 1941 and after one day arrived at Kristiansand on 4th Dec 1941.

09.12.1941 - 23.12.1941
Seventh Sailing - active patrol
U-566 left Kristiansand under the command of Dietrich Borchert on 9th Dec 1941 and arrived at Lorient on 23rd Dec 1941 after two weeks.

15.01.1942 - 09.03.1942
Eighth Sailing - active patrol
On the 15th Jan 1942, U-566 left Lorient under the command of Dietrich Borchert and after seven and a half weeks arrived at Brest on 9th Mar 1942.
Dietrich Borchert hit one ship on this patrol from convoy ON-60.

On 15th Feb 1942 he sank the Greek 4,181 ton Meropi, sailing with convoy ON-60.

08.04.1942 - 30.06.1942
Ninth Sailing - active patrol
U-566 departed under Dietrich Borchert from Brest on 8th Apr 1942 and arrived back at Brest nearly twelve weeks later on 30th Jun 1942.
Dietrich Borchert hit one ship on this patrol.

On 1st Jun 1942 he sank the British 8,967 ton Westmoreland.

06.08.1942 - 05.09.1942
Tenth Sailing - active patrol
U-566 left Brest under the command of Gerhard Remus on 6th Aug 1942 and returned to Brest on 5th Sep 1942 after over four weeks on patrol.
Gerhard Remus hit three ships on this patrol and all of them were in convoy: One was from convoy SL-118 and two were from convoy SL-119.

On 17th Aug 1942 he sank the Norwegian 6,607 ton Triton, a member of convoy SL-118.

On 28th Aug 1942 he sank the British 5,661 ton City of Cardiff, part of convoy SL-119.

On 28th Aug 1942 he sank the Dutch 8,424 ton Zuiderkerk, from convoy SL-119.

28.10.1942 - 01.12.1942
Eleventh Sailing - active patrol
On the 28th Oct 1942, U-566 left Brest under the command of Gerhard Remus and arrived back at Brest on 1st Dec 1942 after nearly five weeks on patrol.
Gerhard Remus hit one ship on this patrol from convoy ON-143.

On 7th Nov 1942 he sank the British 4,252 ton Glenlea, sailing with convoy ON-143.

Air Attacks this patrol

On the 17th November at 0856, despite rough seas the wake of a surfaced U-Boat was sighted by 233 SQN RAF Hudson (SGT E H Smith). As Smith approached the boat dived. The Hudson dropped 4 D/Cs, producing an oil patch that grew quite sizeable. OzS Remus managed to escape however the boat was damaged and had to abort this patrol.

06.02.1943 - 25.03.1943
Twelfth Sailing - active patrol
U-566 departed under Hans Hornkohl from Brest on 6th Feb 1943 and returned more than six weeks later to Brest on 25th Mar 1943.
On 10th Feb 1943 in square BE 65, U-566 came under attack from an aircraft of USAAF 2 Squadron. U-566 was not damaged by the attack. The boat defended itself with flak without destroying the aircraft.

Air Attacks this patrol

On the 26th April while outward bound through the Bay of Biscay, a Leigh Light Wellington of 172 SQN RAF (SGT A Coumbis) got a radar contact at 2325. Coumbis closed in, illuminated the boat and dropped 6 D/Cs. The Wellington then circled around but U-566 drove it off with fierce gunfire. Hornkhol managed to escape in the darkness, yet damage sustained in this attack forced the boat to abort this patrol early.

05.07.1943 - 01.09.1943
Fourteenth Sailing - active patrol
On the 5th Jul 1943, U-566 left Brest under the command of Hans Hornkohl and returned to Brest on 1st Sep 1943 after over eight weeks on patrol.
Hans Hornkohl hit one ship on this patrol.

On 5th Aug 1943 he sank the American 2,265 ton USS Plymouth.

Air Attacks this patrol

On the 5th of August 1943 U-566 sank the USS Plymouth with a torpedo to the starboard side. By the 7th no fewer than 11 aircraft were hunting the boat. At approx 0700 a Ventura of VB-128 out of Floyd Bennett Field (LT F C Cross) got a radar contact. Cross approached and opened fire and U-566 replied, knocking out the starboard engine and badly wounding the pilot. The Ventura dropped 4 D/Cs at 0722. However Cross could not keep the aircraft up and had to ditch. He later died in the water, only 2 of the crew survived to be rescued by search aircraft later.
Next, at 1215 another Ventura of VB-128 (LT J M George) attacked, dropping 4 D/Cs, but U-566 again replied with flak. One of the Lockheed's engines caught fire and the aircraft crashed, killing all the crew.


Another Ventura this time from VB-126 (LT J R Smith) based from Quonset promptly attacked and KL Hornkhol may have thought things were getting a bit hot as after some defensive gunnery he had the boat dive. Smith took the opportunity to drop 4 D/Cs over where the boat had submerged. The explosions blew the boat to the surface. At this time another aircraft, a Mariner PBM of VB-211 (LT E C Scully) from Elizabeth City joined the attack, as the now re-surfaced boat once more manned its guns. However due to damage sustained the boat went into an uncontrolled dive and the flak crew was lost overboard, but not before firing at the PBM and damaging it. Scully made a couple passes but each time the D/Cs hung up until the emergency release was used, dropping 8 D/Cs which again blew the boat to the surface. Hornkhol ordered another flak crew topside as the two aircraft circled. Smith's Ventura tried a strafing run but was driven off by good gunnery from U-566. Hornkhol had the boat turned about and picked up the men lost overboard earlier and then submerged and made good their escape.
In the final analysis on this day U-566 shot down 2 aircraft and damaged another two - it is thought that the Ventura of Smith had one of its fuel tanks shot off during the attacks.

18.10.1943 - 24.10.1943
Fifteenth Sailing - active patrol
U-566 departed under Hans Hornkohl from Brest on 18th Oct 1943. U-566 was sunk on 24th Oct 1943.

Distinguished Flying Medal

In the extreme conditions of the First World War it quickly became evident that new awards for bravery were needed. In December 1914 the Military Cross was instituted for junior officers, and in March 1916 the Military Medal (with the simple inscription ‘FOR BRAVERY IN THE FIELD’) was introduced for NCOs and men. Equivalent awards were created in 1918 for the new Royal Air Force in the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Distinguished Flying Medal, the latter showing a seated Victory holding an eagle symbolizing the RAF.

Here is a copy of the type of letter a winnder of the DFM would receive from Buckingham Palace for the Investure of the Medal.

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A total of 556 DFM's were awarded to Canadians, although not all of them were in RCAF squadrons.