Biplane fighter aces

Commonwealth

Flight Lieutenant Alvin Thomas Williams DFC, RAF no. 40276

Alvin Williams was a Canadian serving with the RAF before the war.

In May 1940 he was posted from 222 Squadron to 263 Squadron for that unit's second posting to Norway.

At 10.30 on 26 May Flight Lieutenant Williams and Sergeant George Stanley Milligan took off together. They catched an aircraft, which they identified it as a Ju 88, which were bombing the new airstrip at Skaanland. They attacked together simultaneously from above and literally cut it to pieces when they overhauled it by cutting across its turn. During the first attack the port engine caught fire. In the subsequent pass the port wing broke off and the starboard wing disintegrated. The stricken aircraft fell into the sea and burst into flames. Their victim was in fact an elderly Do 17F of 1(F)/123, which Anton Schairer had just flown up to Trondheim because 1(F)/120 was short of aircraft and personnel. Sent off immediately to Narvik, Schairer and his crew were all lost as the aircraft crashed near Skaanland.

On an early patrol on 28 May Flight Lieutenant Williams caught one He 111 attacking a cruiser in Ofotfjord and forced it to leave pouring smoke from both engines. He was himself obliged to break off due to fuel shortage. The enemy aircraft was He 111H-4 “1H+FA” of Stab/KG26 flown by Oberleutnant Streng. The Heinkel was badly damaged and force-landed at Gjømmervann, close to Bodø, during the return flight. Another He 111 tried to rescue the crew of the first one but nosed over during the take off due to snow-drifts on the lake and was destroyed. The crew was later rescued by German troops.

At 15:00 on 2 June Flight Lieutenant Williams and Sergeant Kitchener took off and intercepted twelve He 111s of I/KG26 at 4000 feet to the south of Narvik. Picking the last four bombers, which were flying in line astern, the two fighter pilots made a number of simultaneous beam and astern attacks on the rear Heinkel in the formation, whereupon this aircraft caught fire and force-landed at Bukkevatnet, south of Narvik. This was He 111H-4 “1H+BH” of 1./KG 26 flown by Oberfeldwebel Otto Posser. Posser and his crew (Hans Hatlapa, Bernard Schulte and Franz Henkel) were captured by French troops but later released. The next bomber in line went down in a steep dive after a similar attack, while after seven more firing passes the two leading aircraft of the Schwarm went down in dives, in both cases with both engines apparently out of action. None had actually suffered any serious damage however.
A formation identified as compromising at least six ‘Do 17s’ was then seen, although it seems likely that these were Heinkels of KGr100, which jettisoned their bombs and fled. Continuing their patrol the two Gladiators then encountered a pair of Ju 87Rs of 2./StG1 and made simultaneous attacks on these. One, flown by the Staffelkapitän, Oberleutnant Heinz Böhne, was seen to have its port long-range underwing tank on fire, and this crashed in the mountains. The Germans later recovered the bodies of Böhne and his gunner from the wreckage. Meanwhile Kitchener was after the other, getting a full deflection shot as it crossed his sights. It disappeared into cloud, apparently trailing white smoke from its engine. It was not hard hit however and returned safely to its base. At that moment Williams met another He 111, and attacked from 50 yards astern. The bomber dived beyond the vertical and could not be followed.
After the combat confirmation came rapidly, with reports that three He 111s and a Ju 87 had all crashed near Beisfjord, the two pilots being credited with four destroyed, two unconfirmed and one probable as a result of this series of combats. In fact the only German casualties had been the one He 111 and the one Ju 87.

Williams was lost when HMS Glorious , carrying the unit's aircraft and their pilots back to the UK, was sunk by German battlecruisers on 8 June 1940.

He was awarded a posthumously DFC on 6 August 1940.

Williams was credited with 1 and 5 shared destroyed at the time of his death, all of them claimed while flying Gladiators.

Claims:
Kill no. Date Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  1940              
  26/05/40 ½ Ju 88 (a) Shared destroyed Gladiator II   Skaanland 263 Squadron
1 28/05/40 1 He 111 (b) Destroyed Gladiator II N5681 Ofotfjord 263 Squadron
  02/06/40 ½ He 111 (c) Shared destroyed Gladiator II N5905 Bukkevatnet 263 Squadron
  02/06/40 ½ He 111 (d) Shared destroyed Gladiator II N5905 near Beisfjord 263 Squadron
  02/06/40 ½ He 111 (d) Shared destroyed Gladiator II N5905 near Beisfjord 263 Squadron
  02/06/40 ½ Ju 87 (e) Shared destroyed Gladiator II N5905 near Beisfjord 263 Squadron
  02/06/40 ½ He 111 (d) Shared unconfirmed Gladiator II N5905 near Beisfjord 263 Squadron
  02/06/40 1 He 111 (d) Unconfirmed Gladiator II N5905 near Beisfjord 263 Squadron

Biplane victories: 1 and 5 shared destroyed, 1 and 1 shared unconfirmed destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 and 5 shared destroyed, 1 and 1 shared unconfirmed destroyed.
(a) Actually a Do 17F of 1(F)/123. Feldwebel Anton Schairer and his crew perished.
(b) He 111H-4 “1H+FA” of Stab/KG26 flown by Oberleutnant Streng. The crew rescued by German troops
(c) He 111H-4 “1H+BH” of 1./KG 26 shot down. Oberfeldwebel Otto Poser and his crew (Hans Hatlapa, Bernard Schulte and Franz Henkel) became POWs but were later released.
(d) Not confirmed with German sources.
(e) Ju 87R of 2./StG 1; Oblt. Heinz Böhne and his gunner were killed.

Sources:
Aces High - Christopher Shores and Clive Williams, 1994 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-898697-00-0
Aces High Volume 2 - Christopher Shores, 1999 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-03-9
Fledgling Eagles - Christopher Shores with John Foreman, Christian-Jaques Ehrengardt, Heinrich Weiss and Bjørn Olsen, 1991 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-948817-42-9
Additional information kindly provided by Birger Larsen and Rune Rautio




Last modified 11 August 2003