R.A.F. Pilot's Log Book

Contributed by Bramley

R.A.F. Pilot's Log Book

My uncle, Flying Officer Henry THWAITE, was stationed at Thornaby in 220 Sqn. R.A.F. Coastal Command. When piloting a Hudson on an 8 hour Recce Flight on 16 Feb. 1940, this log book shows his sighting of the German auxiliary tanker ALTMARK which had acted as prisoner ship for the survivors of British merchant ships sunk by the German pocket battleship GRAF SPEE. As a direct result of his radioing its exact location, the Royal Navy managed to intercept the ALTMARK & release 299 British prisoners of war.

(Henry was later asked to speak on a BBC Home Service broadcast about this but he was far too shy & as I understand he got his best friend & fellow R.A.F. officer Mike Fleetwood to speak on his behalf. Mike was the father of Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac.)

Two months later on 15 April 1940 he never returned from his flight & was posted 'Missing. Presumed Dead.' He was just 23. His name is inscribed just above his co. pilot F/O Tulloch on that last flight on the R.A.F. Memorial in Runnymede.

It makes me think with grief of Henry's undone years & those of his fellow 20,000 R.A.F. servicemen with no known grave.

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Thornaby on Tees

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1940

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