454 and 459 RAAF Squadrons
Flying Officer Ray CROUCH
454 RAAF Squadron
Service No. 136516 (RAFVR)
WW2 Honours and Gallantry: DFC
RAF No 201 Naval Cooperation Group Egypt, Cyrenaica 1943
Retired as Squadron Leader from Permanent RAF
Date of Death: 20 Mar 2001
No 454 (RAAF) Squadron
based at Berka 3, Benghasi, Cyrenaica.
Pilot: F/O R. Crouch DFC (third from the left)
Navigator: F/Lt - A.W. Philips (second from the left)
WAG: F/Sergeant J. McHugh (far left)
WAG: F/Sergeant C.H. Manning MID (far right)
Baltimore Mk 1V FA468, 'R' Roger.
F/O. Crouch (Pilot) DFC and crew, F/Lt. "Curly" Philips (nav B) and Sgts. Bob Manning MID and John McHugh (WAGS) set out on a day recce for Melos in the Aegean from Berka in company with W.Cmdr. Jack Coates DFC. Crouch created a diversion by photographing Melos Harbour at 8000 feet while Coates took low level photos of new RDF station on its south side. With an AA damaged aircraft, Crouch tried to leave by the Kythera - Anti Kythera Strait at 50 feet. Intercepted by 2 109s (the "Duty Pilots") his crew fought a 10 minute running battle surviving 26 cannon shell holes, scrambling back to base and collapsing undercarriage at end of landing run to avoid a more serious crash. (The Editor comments: "I have been able to read the DOR covering your sortie at 27th Feb'44. Apart from this, the Squadron had to write off another aircraft, but in this case the crew is safe and unhurt. F/O Crouch was intercepted at Anti-Kythera, on leaving the Aegean, by 2 ME 109s, which followed the Baltimore for thirteen minutes, and then attacked for a further seventeen minutes. With only one turret-gun working, and the Baltimore suffering severe damage, F/O. Crouch suceeded in reaching Derna with little aileron control, radio out of action and gauges etc. not registering. He made a crash landing. The Baltimore had 26 cannon strikes beyond numerous hits from 79mm. One ME 109 is claimed as damaged").
Final paragraph from a letter by W/Cmdr Gates. "I'm so glad that I managed to visit Ray and was able to have a good chat which we both enjoyed. He was very crocked with arthritis in a wheel chair and had a heart operation in 1994. I will quote an extract from his letter to me in December. "Retired from RAf after a happy career in flying instructing (Cranwell twice; Central Flying School twice; Oxford University Air Squadron, and the usual GD Staff appointments). 1966 to Theological College for training for the Anglican priesthood, then service in a dozen or so very different parishes, whilst continuing to raise two sons and two daughters."