454 and 459 RAAF Squadrons
Squadron Leader Herbert M (Pat) HUMPHREYS
454 RAAF Squadron
Service No. 48634- RAF
Date of Birth: Northern Ireland
Rank: Squadron Leader
WW2 Honours and Gallantry: MID
Date of Death: 14 Aug 2009
As worded by Pat Humphreys
"My service career gets a bit complicated. I volunteered in 1938 and was commissioned into the Royal Artillery on 1 April 1939. Posted to the Middle East at the beginning of 1940, I served as a Radar Instructor until 1942, my service details being 89640 Major, RA.
I then volunteered for a seven-year secondment to the Royal Air Force for pilot training, and as you know flew with 454 from the end of 1943 in Benghazi and Italy until the beginning of 1945. My service details are 48634 S/Ldr RAF (Ret).
The members of my regular crew- 454 were:
F/Lt William D (Jock) Logan - RAFVR, NavB - from Scotland
W/O George Joyce - RAFVR, WOp/Ag - from England
W/O Charles Lancaster - RAFVR, WOp/AG - from England"
Message by email from HM Humphreys to Penny Griffiths (Hon. Secretary):
Received -- Tuesday, November 22, 2005 10:30 AM
"I was absolutely delighted to receive your mail this morning, and to see that the younger generation has decided that the memory of 454-459 should live on. Although I was one of the Pommies who served in 454, whenever I get nostalgic my thoughts turn to Oz and the many great Aussies with whom I served in Benghazi and Italy. George Gray was a particularly close friend, and his passing grieves both my wife Elsa and myself deeply.
With best wishes to all you young ladies who have decided to breathe renewed life into the Association.
Herbert M (Pat) Humphreys."
An email from HM Humphrey's dated January 2006 -
"Here is something that might interest you. A few months ago I received a letter addressed mysteriously to "Squadron Leader H.M. Humphreys, RAF (Retd)". This alarmed Elsa, my wife a bit, but it turned out to be an enquiry as to whether I had flown with Coastal Command at any time during my service. Having replied in the affirmative, I subsequently received an invitation from the Belfast City Council and ACM Sir Peter Squire to attend a Veteran's dinner in the City Hall. Paddy, our indefatigable Aircrew Assoc. Secretary, couldn't or wouldn't tell me what it was all in aid of, but when I turned up on the night , I found that over 200 guests had been invited, including the ACM himself, a clutch of lesser mortals such as AVMs and Group Captains, a posse of serving Aircrew from Aldergrove RAF station, and all my buddies from the ACA. There were a lot of Civil dignitaries there as well and I was interested to see that a former Sinn Fein (Republican) Lord Mayor, was circulating during the reception, but I don't know whether he attended the subsequent function.
When I checked in I was one of the few who was issued with a name badge, and the receptionist explained that at the end of evening the 25 Coastal Command Veterans present would be asked to stand for a short ceremony. After the dinner, Sir Peter gave a short but excellent presentation of the role of Coastal Command in war and peace, and explained that Belfast had been chosen for the initiation of a Maritime Air Trust because Nth. Ireland had become a virtual land-based aircraft carrier and played a leading role in the Battle of the Atlantic.
When the lights went up, the Coastal Command bods were asked to stand (was I ever embarrassed?) and in marched two files of Air Cadets, one of whom was assigned to each of us, and presented us with a silver-plated pewter replica of a Celtic whiskey platter, bearing the Coastal Command insignia. It was a very nice gesture, but I personally felt like a bit of a prong being applauded by my Fighter and Bomber contempories. Don't expect me to explain exactly what a Celtic whiskey platter is - the story is that the ancient inhabitants of Ireland laced their porridge with home-brew and supped it off a saucer-like dish with a handle on each side. Sounds ghastly!"