Thursday the 23rd of May saw the annual 3(F) Sqn pilgrimage to Normandy to conduct Force Development training on the D-Day beaches.


It also provided another opportunity to foster relationships with those who flew the Hawker Typhoon in World War 2 as we met up with a number of representatives of the Typhoon Entente Cordiale Trust (TECT). The TECT act as the conduit between Typhoon operators past and present and celebrate the Typhoon’s involvement in the D-Day landings during an annual trip to a variety of memorial locations in northern France.

The 3(F) Sqn element of the Staff Ride started this side of the Channel at Capel-le-Ferne where Flt Lt Jim Fordham introduced us to a variety of Air Power concepts using the Battle of Britain as a case study. On reaching Caen, and following Cpl Stanley’s insistence that, when in France, one should eat pizza, further ‘stands’ were delivered at Arromanches, Omaha Beach, Caen’s Peace Museum and Pegasus Bridge by the other members of the 3(F) Sqn team; Flt Lt Cholmondeley-Smith, Cpl Stanley and SACs Sherwin, Pell and Bruce. Logistics, Air/Land Integration, RADAR and the precise use of Air Power in support of Op OVERLORD were all ably covered.

On Saturday the 25th of May we joined up with the TECT group at a grid reference on a remote French B-road. Arriving first and a little bemused regarding the location, slowly but surely the crowd grew, police appeared, the road closed and about 50 people gathered around a small memorial dedicated to a Warrant Officer Henry Tallala. Henry Tallala was the only Malaysian Typhoon pilot in the Second World War (his brother, Cyril, was a Hurricane pilot) and was killed in action in Normandy in July 1944.  The TECT had arranged a re-dedication of the memorial in the presence of 6 surviving members of Henry’s family…accompanied by a Malaysian film crew! We were also privileged to be accompanied by Gp Capt Peter Roper (Ret’d). Peter was Typhoon pilot who was shot down in Normandy, on his day off, in an aircraft he describes as ‘borrowed’ for the day.

The next 2 days were spent at a variety of memorial services with the TECT party, including a number of French associates, celebrating the memory of fallen Typhoon pilots in Normandy. We were also privileged enough to be asked to unveil a new memorial to Flt Lt Jack Watson, killed attacking tanks near the village of St Martin de Sallen. The local Mayoress, 9 at the time of the crash which she remembers clearly, presented us with a cutting from Jack’s parachute which, as a fellow Typhoon pilot, will hang with pride in the Sqn’s History Room.

I have done Staff Rides to Normandy before but the addition of the TECT contingent added something very special to the 4 days in France. It is clear from my conversations with Peter that, whilst the aircraft may have changed, the fighter pilot spirit very definitely hasn’t. It is also clear that we are very lucky to have an organisation like the TECT through which we can sustain links with the decreasing numbers of veterans but, vitally, can engender links between family members and current Typhoon operators. Roll on next year where we can celebrate 70 years since the Allied invasion of Europe and the crucial involvement of the Hawker Typhoon.

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