Sergeant William John Ralph RAFVR

Crew                     : Sergeant William John Ralph

Service No            : 1318949 RAFVR

Awards                  : D.F.C

Awarded                : LG 15.08.1944

Citation                  : .

“This Officer has completed an extremely successful operational tour against the enemy as Pilot and Captain of aircraft. He has at all times displayed an exceptionally high standard of Captaincy both on the ground and in the air. His devotion to duty and unswerving loyalty, determination and efficiency have been an example to the remainder of the Squadron. I very strongly recommend the award of the DFC.”

Promotions        :

Sergeant

Acting Pilot officer                           : w.e.f 28.08.1943 (156709)

Acting Flying Officer                        :LG 17.03.1944

Acting Flight Lieutenant                  :13.12.1943*

No.90 Squadron ORB

Postings              

No.1665 HCU                     : 06.08.1943

No.623 Squadron             : 04.08.1943 (1665 HCU Records 05.08.1943)

No.90 Squadron               :06.12.1943

No.1653 Con.Unit            : 01.07.1944

Operations

No.623 Squadron RAF Downham Market

23.09.1943

P/O K .F Shaw

2nd Pilot

Mannheim

BK803  IC-S

Pilot Officer Shaw reported than on approaching the target area the  Rhine it could be clearly seen. Arriving over the target at 22.00hrs he bombed from 14,000ft. Good fires and loads of smoke were observed over the target.

 

 25.09.1943

Pilot

Mining

Nectarines I

EF489  IC-F

Planted mines on Gee fix. Visibility was poor with cloud base at approx 4000ft. No incidents reported.

04.10.1943

Pilot

Mining

Deodars

EF489  IC-F

P/O Ralph reached allotted position at 21.29hrs and planted 4 mines from 4,000ft. Visibility over the garden was good. No incidents reports.

 08.10.1943

Pilot

Bremen

EF489  IC-F

P/O Ralphs aircraft arrived over the target area at 01.16hrs and bombing was carried out from 14,000ft. Green TI Markers were used. A quite trip was reported  but many fighter flares, including two on route home just after leaving the target.

18.11.1943

Pilot

Mannheim

EF489  IC-F

P/O Ralph returned early due to “coring”

 Operations Flown with No.90 Squadron RAF Tuddenham “A” Flight

16.12.1943

Pilot

Special Construction Site

Coast of France

EF193 WP-Q

Attacked as ordered  at 19.34hrs from 1500ft with 9 x 500 MC – 2 x 500GP.LD Identified by reds. Many explosions seen, one lot in middle of reds.

14.01.1944

Pilot

Special Construction Site

Coast of France

LK392 WP-A

Attacked at 19.28hrs from 9000ft.  With 10 x 500 MC + 10 x 500 TL  & 3 x 500 GP bombs.  Identified on Reds.  Three sticks of bombs seen in centre of reds.

20.01.1944

Pilot

Mining

Texel

EF159 WP-B

Planted at 18.31hrs from 6000ft as ordered with 6  x B232 mines. Identified with navigational aids. Results not observed.

 27.01.1944

Pilot

Mining

North Frisians

EF159 WP-B

Planted 19.20hrs from 14,500ft as ordered. Weather clear with 3 x C.302  + 2 x G.714 mines. Identified on Heligoland and TI’s. Results not seen.

27.01.1944

Pilot

Mining

Kiel Bay

EH989 WP-H

Planted at 21.32hrs from 10,000ft. Weather clear with 1 x H.800 – 1 x G.714  – 1 x A.114 mines.  Identified on AERO Island and TI’s.  Results no observed.  Come back on three engines

04.02.1944

Pilot

Mining

River Gironde Area

LK392 WP-A

Planted as ordered at 23.25hrs from 4,000ft (weather clear below 4,000ft) with 4 x G.710 1 xG.714 mines. Identified by tip of Lake Hourtin and head land South of Grave Point. Highly successful trip.

11.02.1944

Pilot

Mining

River Gironde Area

LK392 WP-A

Mission abandon as pilots air speed indicator U/S at 50.10N – 00.57W at 19.45hrs at 6.00ft. 2 xG.714 and 2 x G.710 mines jettisoned safe.

12.02.1944

Pilot

Mining

West Frisian Islands

LK392 WP-A

 Planted as ordered at 19.51hrs from 5000ft. (Cloud 10/10th 3 – 10,000ft tops) with 3 x A.114 – 3 x B.800 Mines.  Identified and planted on Gee fix and DR run 16 M.  Results not observed.

15.02.1944

Pilot

Mining

Kiel Bay

LK392 WP-A

Planted as ordered at 20.24hrs from 14000ft. (Weather 10/10th)  with 1 xF.616- 1 x G.714 – 1 x G.710 mines. Identified on red markers  at position R seen at 2014hrs. No results seen.

 24.02.1944

Pilot

Mining

Kiel Bay

LK392 WP-A

 Planted as ordered at 21.36hrs from 14000ft. (Weather 10/10th)  with 2 xG.714 – 1 xB.218  mines. Identified on steady red markers falling  at position  5448N 0955W DR run 5 ½ minutes. Results not  seen.

03.03.1944

Pilot

S.O.E

LK392 WP-A

Duty Carried out.

04.03.1944

Pilot

S.O.E

LK392 WP-A

Duty Carried out.

05.03.1944

Pilot

S.O.E

LK392 WP-A

Duty Carried out.

10.03.1944

Pilot

S.O.E

LK392 WP-A

Duty Carried out.

15.03.1944

Pilot

Amiens Marshalling Yards

LK392 WP-A

Attacked at 21.02hrs from 10.500ft (weather 6/10th) with 22 x 500 M.C  bombs on Red TI’s.  Red TI’s well concentrated big explosion at 21.03hrs over target area.  H/F (Heavy Flak) at 5005.125 (NW Amiens) at 2056hrs at 10,000ft. Mid upper turret and fuselage damaged at 2056hrs at 10,000ft

19.03.1944

Pilot

Mining

River Gironde Area

LK392 WP-A

Planted as ordered at 23.13hrs from 5000ft. (No cloud slight haze)  with 2 xB.204 – 1 x C.302 mines. Identified and pin pointed PT DE LA NEGADE and made DR run. Results not observed.

30.03.1944

Pilot

S.O.E

LK392 WP-A

Duty Carried out.

09.04.1944

Pilot

S.O.E

LK392 WP-A

Duty Carried out.

10.04.1944

Pilot

S.O.E

EH939 WP-A

Duty Carried out.

12.04.1944

Pilot

S.O.E

LJ506 WP-F

Duty Carried out.

18.04.1944

Pilot

Mining

Kiel Bay

LJ470 WP-C

Planted as ordered at 23.48hrs from 3500ft. (thin cloud, no haze)  with 2 G.714  – 1 x B.204 mines. Identified on DR run from markers. Results not observed.

20.04.1944

Pilot

Mining

Brest

LK392 WP-A

Planted as ordered at 23.20 ½ hrs from 6000ft. (weather cloudless sea visible)with 2 x B.240 – 1 x C.304 2 x F.624 mines. Identified tip of Ushant  E Tip. Results not observed.

22.04.1944

Pilot

Laon Marshalling Yards

LK392 WP-A

Bombed at  00.09 ½ hrs from 7000ft. (Weather cloudless visibility excellent)  with 19 x 500lb MC. Identified on green TI markers and instructions from MC. Town lit up in yellow-considerable amount of smoke, ground details observed.

23.04.1944

Pilot

Mining

Kiel Bay

LK392 WP-A

Planted as ordered at 23.39hrs from 1200 ft. (weather10/10th cloud tops 7000ft )with 3 x G.714  – 1 x B.204 mines. Identified and dropped on 3 TI flares.

27.04.1944

Pilot

S.O.E

LK392 WP-A

Duty Carried out.

28.04.1944

Pilot

S.O.E

LK392 WP-A

Duty Carried out.

30.04.1944

Pilot

S.O.E

EF249 WP-G

Duty Carried out.

01.05.1944

Pilot

S.O.E

LK392 WP-A

Returned early, special duties not carried out.

06.05.1944

Pilot

S.O.E

LJ506  WP-F

Duty Carried out.

07.05.1944

Pilot

S.O.E

LJ506  WP-F

Duty Carried out.

 Tour Completed.

 On posting to No.1653 Con.Unit rank recorded as Pilot Officer  (No.90 Squadron Form 540). Promoted to acting squadron leader September 1945.

The information below was kindly sent by Jonny956, thank you Jonny.

William Ralph was born in 1915 in Abertillery, Monmouthshire, Wales. He was educated at West Monmouth Grammar School and Pontypool and Cardiff Technical College. He joined the RAF on the 8th of September 1941 and carried out his basic ground training at Number 8 Initial Training Wing (ITW) in Newquay, Cornwall.  After completing his Elementary Flying training on DH 82 Tiger moths at 7 EFTS, Desford, Leicestershire, he sailed on the SS Banfora for Canada on the 25th of March 1942.  He was received by 31 Personnel Dispatch Centre (PDC) in Moncton, New Brunswick before moving by train to the Primary Flying School at Americus, Georgia, USA on the 1st of May. Flying PT 17 Stearman bi-planes under the careful tutelage of a civilian instructor, Mr Featherstone, he soloed on June the 18th.  Completing 68 hours and 53 minutes ab-initio training he was subsequently posted to the Basic Flying Training School at Gunter Field, Alabama on the 6th of August. Here he flew the radial engine Vultee BT 13A Valiant basic trainer under the critical eye of both AAF and RAF military flying instructors. 2 months later he was posted to the Advanced Flying Training School at Turner Field in Alabama where he perfected his flying skills on the twin engined Curtiss AT 9 ‘Fledgling’ and Cessna AT 17. Graded as an ‘Average’ pilot he left the United Sates, via 31 PDC, on the 25th of January 1943 and returned to the United Kingdom.

Arriving back at number 7 Personnel Reception Centre (PRC) in Harrogate on the 3rd of February, he was immediately sent on 2 weeks disembarkation leave. Following a short ground course with the RAF Regiment at Whitley Bay, he was posted to 11 Advanced Flying Unit (AFU) at RAF Shawbury in order to become acclimatised to the flying conditions in North West Europe. On the 30th of March he commenced multi engined training on Airspeed Oxfords and on the 4th of May joined number 16 Course run by 1534 Beam Approach Training (BAT) Flight at Shawbury. With an assessment of ‘High – Average’ he returned to 11 AFU before moving on to 12 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at the satellite airfield of RAF Edgehill in Warwickshire. Here, he became the captain of his own crew and throughout the months of June and July trained on the Vickers Wellington III. Gaining an ‘Above the Average’ flying assessment from the OTU, he converted to Shorts Stirlings at 1665 Conversion Unit, RAF Woolfox before moving on to 623 (Bomber) Squadron at RAF Downham Market on September the 6th 1943. His first operation with 623 was as a ‘second dickey’ to Plt Off Shaw on the Mannheim raid on the 23rd. He took his own crew on a ‘Gardening’ (sea mining) sortie on the 25th of September and another on the 4th of October. His first bombing mission as a captain in charge of his own aircraft occurred on the night of the 8th of October when, along with 117 other bombers he attacked the German port of Bremen. On November the 18th he took Stirling ‘F’ to attack Mannheim once again, but unfortunately, whilst on route to the target the Starboard outer engine became unserviceable and the crew returned to base after only 2 hours and 40 minutes in the air.

623 Squadron was disbanded on the 6th of December 1943 and its personnel were posted to other Units. Ralph and his crew were sent to 90 Squadron (also part of 3 Group) at RAF Tuddenham in Suffolk. By 1944, the Stirling was considered unsuitable for further bombing work on German targets due to its high loss rate. Consequently, the first 2 months of the New Year saw the Squadron employed in ‘Gardening’ sorties. Amongst other places, the Ralph crew delivered mines to the Frisians, Heligoland, Brest, the Keil Canal and the Gironde Estuary. In March the Unit began to fly supply-dropping missions to resistance groups in occupied countries. Ralph’s Log Book is scant in detail (as is the Squadron Operational Record Book), but his longest trip was 8 hours 15 minutes and his shortest just 30 minutes! His last operational sortie was flown on the 7th of May 1944 when he took Stirling LJ 506 (WP-F) on another clandestine mission lasting 7 hours 15 minutes.

Following his tour he completed a course at No. 3 Flying Instructors’ School at RAF Lulsgate Bottom before becoming an instructor with 1653 Heavy Conversion Unit at RAF Chedburgh. In December 1944, Ralph moved with 1653 HCU to North Luffenham, Rutland and converted from Stirlings to Lancasters. He continued to teach with 1653 until he was posted to 51 Squadron on the 22nd of May 1945. Here he resumed his relationship with the Stirling (variously at Leconfield, Stradishall and Wratting Common) and flew numerous long-range transport flights until posted to 46 Squadron at RAF Blakehill Farm on the 7th of January 1946. He was demobbed from the Service on the 11th of May 1946.