Ft.Lt T.A. Rippon DFC (Pathfinder)

Pathfinder

Flight Lieutenant T.A. Rippon, Royal Air Force,
Distinguished Flying Cross, G.VI.R., dated 1945

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A Second World D.F.C. group of seven to Flight Lieutenant T.A.Rippon, Royal Air Force,
Distinguished Flying Cross, G.VI.R., dated 1945; 1939-1945 Star; Africa Star with North Africa 1942-43 bar; France and Germany bar; Defence Medal; War Medal; Coronation 1953. Mounted as worn with European medal, with corresponding miniatures. Light contact marks, very fine. Various Uniforms,Books, Pamphlets,Diaries and material from his career. (1 large Box).

321 operational flying hours and 64 sorties.

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D.F.C. London Gazette 20.2.1945

Rippon’s career during the Second World War, essentially ran over two major theatres of the War.

North Africa and the European push – from the actual Tobruk Battle (2 flights that night) to pathfinding runs of German Submarine Pens/ rocket bases and troops.

He put together a ‘diary’ as well as the required log-book paperwork – which presumably was designed (but never did) become the co0ntents of a book on the Tobruk campaign.

His comments and what he saw are really amazing and in such graphic detail.

Although his DFC was awarded for his vast number of operational hours, in reality the experiences and operations within the North Africa Campaign would appear to warrant a medal in itself. The archive material including original Al Alamein maps / descriptions of sorties and descriptions of equipment/ bombs and their operation are really worthy of an archive/Museum attention, for material which had possibly never been dealt with in such detail.

Extract from memo book /War diary 42.. Tobruk area..
“..we began to to circle and have a look see, many fires had started and tanks and transport were ablaze, we ran up on one target where the Germans were machine gunning us and dropped a stick of four- the effect was terrific havoc and chaos all over the place. It was a sight that I shall never forget – we saw a Henkel III xxx xxx to get it on fire, I fired 500 rds. at different objects hoping they would score a hit. We had been dropping sticks on different Targets until we has two left and when we were running up on our last target, a flare dropped and illuminated a sight that caused great excitement amongst the crew, we saw about 150 tanks lined up like soldiers- oh boy what a target. We banked very steeply and ran and dropped the remaining two bombs causing 5 of them to fire and I fired my guns as we ran over…..it was a scene of destruction and a blaze of fires and belching black smoke”.

The Pathfinders…
When the Pathfinder Force was formed in August 1942, with the object of securing more concentrated and effective bombing by marking targets with incendiary bombs and flares dropped from aircraft flown by experienced crews, using the latest navigational equipment, No. 35 was one of the five squadrons selected to form the nucleus of the new force. The first Pathfinder Force (PFF) attack was against Flensburg on 18/19th August 1942, and the new technique soon proved its value. In March 1943, No. 35 Squadron Halifaxes backed up Mosquitoes using the target-finding aid Oboe, and Essen received its most severe damage to date.
And so it continued, with No. 35 playing a major part in historic Bomber Command raids – Le Creusot (19/20th June 1943), Peenemunde (17/18th August 1943) and many others. In March 1944, the squadron converted to Lancasters and in the early hours of D-Day, 6th June, attacked two German coastal batteries – one at Maisy and the other at Longues. Later in the year the gun batteries on Walcheren Island, key to the vital port of Antwerp, and communications centres supporting von Runstedt’s Ardennes offensive, felt the weight of the squadron’s bombing. The closing months of the war saw a series of successful raids on industrial targets, hastening the enemy’s final collapse.

Flight Lieutenant T.A. Rippon began training in December 1940 as an Air Gunner, he left the UK in May 1942 en route to Gibraltar and then Cairo. He flew on Wellingtons with 108 Squadron and was tasked as a Front Gunner and bombed Panzers, Airfields. He carried out 42 separate operations up until December 1942. His third tour began in August 1944 with 35 (Pathfinder) Squadron with raids on VI launch sites, attacks south of Caen, marshalling yards, followed by numerous raids on Germany. He finishes this tour in December 1944. He was recommissioned in July 1949. The other log books cover his post war service with 230 Squadron and 9 Squadron. There is possibly one log book absent although his North Africa and North West Europe Service appears to be covered fully in the first logbook.
Joined at age of 16 – Various training establishments.
Joined 106 Squdrn. Feb 1941./Gunner./Rear Turret/Drouge Operating/
5 Group – Target towing/
R9H 1-Wing – Training
No.1 AAS – Training/Bomb/Gunnery
11 OTU – Nov 41/ Ansons/Wellington / – Crashed 11/41
May 42 – Training ME Flight Ferry / Front Gunner.
June 42-Joined 108 Bomber Sqdn. ME Operations.
Tobruk / Al-Alamein operations & surrounding areas.
Amazing log descriptions of actions taken in the Desert Campaign.. till 108 Sq. disbanded in November 42. 245 operational hours with 108.
70 Bomber Sqdn. Nov 42/December – 1 operation.- then transit to UK.
15 OUT Hanwell April 43. Instructor/Gunnery/Screen Instructor.
84 OUT – March 44-April
April 44 – 35 Sqdn PFF. Normandy Front / France/ Germany – Rear Gunner.Ruhr/Essen /
84 OUT June 45 v/
Glider Pick up Unit July 45/ Observer/2nd Pilot/
47 Gp.Transport Command till Demobbed Feb 46.
Re Commissioned RAF July 49 –


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