Saturday, 24 August 2013

20. S/L Alban Chipling D.F.C. (RAFVR 108178)

S/L Chipling DFC (© S. Stutely)
There is a tragic postscript to Bob's first few flying hours at R.A.F. Langar. According to his log book he flew as flight engineer with S/L Chipling D.F.C. before he crewed up with Bill and the rest of the crew, flying his first nine hours with him between the 17th and 21st of December, 1944.

S/L Chipling had a distinguished war record and by this time was playing an important role in the training of future aircrews. He was transferred to the Empire Central Flying School (E.C.F.S.) at RAF Hullavington, near Chippenham, Wiltshire in early 1945. On the morning of the 23rd of April North American Harvard IIb FT232 took off from RAF Hullavington with S/L Chipling flying second pilot to S/L James Johnson A.F.C.

Harvard IIb
At approximately 12.00 the aircraft failed to recover from a spin and, possibly as a result of the pilot over-correcting, it crashed into the ground at Southrop, Gloucestershire. The probable cause of the accident was attributed to ballast weights carried during solo flights not having been removed from the aircraft prior to the flight. He died just two weeks before V.E. Day.
Squadron Leaders Chipling and Johnson were laid to rest in the London Road cemetery in Chippenham on the 25th April 1945 with full military honours (Photographs © Sandra Stutely via

Alban Philip Sidney Chipling was born in December 1913 in Grindleford, Derbyshire, near to Bakewell. He had three older sisters, Grace, Sybil and Elfrida and was educated at Bracondale School in Norwich. He joined the R.A.F.V.R. in 1938, eventually serving with No. 429 Squadron R.C.A.F.

In the spring of 1939, as war loomed in Europe, he married Kathleen Marie Fitzgerald in her home town of Cambridge.

He received his commission to the rank of P/O on 30th September 1941 and was promoted to F/O on 30th September 1942. He had a near miss on an operation to bomb Essen on the night of 12th/13th March 1943 when his aircraft was slightly damaged by flak. He and his crew brought the aircraft safely back to the UK and landed back at RAF East Moor, near York,at 00.20hrs. 
He was promoted to the rank of F/Lt on 17th July 1943 and awarded the DFC on the 7th December 1943, his citation stating that he had "completed many successful operations against the enemy in which he ... displayed high skill, fortitude and devotion to duty".

By the end of 1944 he was instructing at 1669 HCU, where Bob met him, but within four months he would be dead. His widow, Kathleen, died in Cambridge in 1996 at the age of 85 - she never re-married.

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