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ANZAC Day 2021


Cybermat47
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Cybermat47
Pat Hughes: One of the Australian Few
 
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Born in Cooma on the 19th of September 1917, Paterson Clarence Hughes was enraptured by aviation from a young age. After a childhood spent building model aircraft and playing rugby, he applied for the Royal Australian Air Force, and would perform his first solo flight at Point Cook on the 11th of March 1934, after which he 'went mad, whistled, sang and almost jumped for joy'. He was ultimately assessed as 'energetic and keen', albeit with 'no outstanding qualities'.
 
Deciding to take up a position with the Royal Air Force to 'do something special', he moved to Britain and was posted to No. 64 SQN, a Hawker Demon squadron. Rising through the ranks and converting to the Bristol Blenheim Mk.IF, he was assigned to No. 234 SQN as a flight leader in November 1939. In March 1940, 234 traded its Blenheims, Fairey Battles, and Gloster Gauntlets for the Supermarine Spitfire. By this time, Hughes had become leading figure in the squadron, with Squadron Leader Richard Barnett reportedly rarely flying; historian Stephen Bungay claims that Hughes was 234's effective leader. He occasionally flew with his Adelaide terrier, Flying Officer Butch, in the cockpit. He had also started a romance with a woman named Kathleen Brodrick.
 
On July 8th, 234 and Hughes scored their first victories, with a Junkers Ju-88 bought down by Hughes and two others near Land's End, with Hughes firing at a close range of 150-50 yards. He took part in the damaging of a Ju-88 and the destruction of another later in the month, before temporarily taking command of No. 247 SQN, flying the Gloster Gladiator, on August 1st. More importantly, however, that day also saw his marriage to Kathleen Hughes at a register office - the only familiar face in attendance was Flying Officer Butch.
 
On the 13th, Hughes took command of 234 before Barnett's replacement, Squadron Leader Joe 'Spike' O'Brien. The next day, 234 transferred from St. Eval to Middle Wallop, just north of Southampton. By this time the Battle of Britain was in full swing, demonstrated by Hughe's warm welcome, soon after landing, in the form of Luftwaffe bombs which killed servicemen and civilians on the ground. The day after that saw Hughes score his first solo victory, bringing down a Messerschmitt Bf-110 near the Isle of Wight. He shared in the destruction of another near Swanage the same day. On the 16th he bought down a Bf-109, the first of nine that he would destroy singlehandedly in less than a month. However, he was shot up by another 109, and that afternoon he said to Kathleen, 'In case of accidents make sure you marry again'.
 
By this time he had started getting even closer to his opponents, firing at a mere 30 yards. On September 5th he was credited with two 109s near Manston and Eastchurch, one of which was possibly flown by the Luftwaffe ace and future escapee Franz von Werra. The next day, he was forced to land after having his canopy covered in oil from the damaged aircraft of one of his opponents over Dover; this was credited to him as a probable.
 
September 7th marked a new phase of the Battle of Britain, with the Luftwaffe sending large bomber formations to attack London by daylight. Closing with a Dornier Do-17, Flight Lieutenant Hughes hammered the German bomber with the 8 .303 machine guns of Spitfire Mk.Ia X4009, sending chunks flying off the Dornier. But as it crashed, so too did Hughes' Spitfire. The body of that man who had dreamt of flight since childhood was later found in a garden. He was only twelve days away from his 23rd birthday.
 
On the day of Hughes' death, O'Brien was also killed. Flying Officer Butch ran away and disappeared. Kathleen was left distraught after losing her husband a mere five weeks after their marriage. A week later, she discovered that she was pregnant with Hughes' child, but later suffered a miscarriage. She later served as an ambulance driver. Back in Australia, Hughes' parents would learn of their son's marriage and death in the same letter. He was buried in Sutton-on-Hull on the 13th of September.
 
On October 22nd, Hughes and O'Brien were posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Credited with fourteen solo victories and three shared, Hughes was the top Australian Battle of Britain ace, the 3rd most successful Australian ace of the war, and the 9th most successful Allied ace of the Battle of Britain. He is buried in Sutton-on-Hull. After remarrying three times, Kathleen's ashes were placed next to her first husband after her death on June 28th, 1983.
 
Sources:
 
Please report any inaccuracies.
Edited by [Pb]Cybermat47
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DD_Arthur

Very interesting👍.

 

Inaccuracies?  Transferring south from St. Eval puts you in the English Channel. Middle Wallop is @180 miles to the east.

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Cybermat47
11 hours ago, DD_Arthur said:

Very interesting👍.

 

Inaccuracies?  Transferring south from St. Eval puts you in the English Channel. Middle Wallop is @180 miles to the east.

 

Corrected, thanks!

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