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WEAVER, Claude Sergeant, No.185 Squadron, R83374 Distinguished Flying Medal - Distinguished Flying Cross RCAF Personnel Awards 1939-1949
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WEAVER, Sergeant Claude (R83374) - Distinguished Flying Medal - No.185 Squadron - Award effective 8 August 1942 as per London Gazette dated 18 August 1941 and AFRO 1412/42 dated 4 September 1942. American in the RCAF; born in Oklahoma City, 18 August 1922; home there. Educated at Harding Junior High School and Classen High School. Enlisted in Windsor, Ontario, 13 February 1941. To No.1A Manning Depot, Picton that date. To Station Sydney, Nova Scotia, 22 March 1941. To No.3 ITS, Victoriaville, 4 May 1941. Graduated 7 June 1941 and promoted LAC. To No.17 EFTS, Stanley, Nova Scotia, 8 June 1941. To No.8 SFTS, Moncton, 27 July 1941. Graduated 10 October 1941 when promoted Sergeant. To “Y” Depot, 11 October 1941. Arrived in UK, 14 November 1941 and taken on strength of No.3 PRC. Attended Advanced Flying Unit, Cranwell, 6 December 1941 to 5 January 1942; No.56 OTU, 10 February to 15 April 1942; No.412 Squadron, 15 April to 31 May 1942; posted to Middle East; No.185 Squadron, 29 June to 9 September 1942. Shot down over Sicily and became a POW; escaped from POW camp and reported safe, 1 May 1943; arrived in UK, 18 October 1943. Invested with award by King George VI, 30 November 1943. With No.403 Squadron, 27 October 1943 to 28 January 1944. Commissioned 19 October 1943. At that time he reported having a brother in the U.S. Marines, David Overton Weaver, age 19. Damaged Spitfire MH840, 1500 hours, Kenley on return from Day Ranger; undershot runway, striking soft shoulder of ground, undercarriage collapsed and aircraft ended up short of runway on belly with much damage. The airfield commander wrote, “This accident occurred on a rather hazardous approach, but it was definitely an error in judgement on the part of the pilot. In view of the splendid record of F/O Weaver and the fact that he had just returned from an operational flight it is recommended that no disciplinary action be taken.” Killed in action, Spitfire MA642, 28 January 1944. Apparently alive when he was captured but died of wounds some two hours later. Buried in France. RCAF photo PL-5376 shows group of Americans in Canada, 10 October 1941 - M.E. Bryll (Chicago), P.F. Brawley (Newcomerstown, Ohio), G.C. Lipscombe (Grand Rapids, Michigan), F.J. Harris (Morristown, Pennsylvania), and kneeling, left to right, L.G. Foster (Los Angeles), R.E. Sebring (Chicview, Pennsylvania), W.P. Finney (Winnetka, Illinois) ans C. Weaver (Oklahoma City). RCAF Photo PL-18481 shows F/O Claude Weaver after his escape. Credited with the following victories: 17 July 1942, one Bf.109 destroyed (Spitfire BR292); 22 July 1942, two Bf.109s destroyed (Spitfire EP122); 23 July 1942, two Bf.109s destroyed (EP122); 24 July 1942, one Ju.88 destroyed (EP122, shared with another pilot); 2 August 1942, one Bf.109 probably destroyed (Spitfire EP139); 17 August 1942, two Bf.109s destroyed (Spitfire BR374); 25 August 1942, one Bf.109 probably destroyed (BR374); 27 August 1942, one Ju.88 destroyed plus one Ju.88 probably destroyed plus one Bf.109 destroyed (all on BR374); 9 September 1942, one MC.202 destroyed (Spitfire BR112 "X"); 30 December 1943, one Bf.109 destroyed (Spitfire MH840); 21 January 1944, one FW.190 destroyed (Spitfire MH829). // This NCO has shown great zeal and initiative in combat. He destroyed a German fighter on his first flight over Malta on 17 July 1942. On 22 July 1942 he destroyed two German fighters on one flight and repeated this performance on 23 July 1942. On 24 July 1942 he shared in the destruction of a German bomber with another pilot of his squadron. During his first week of air fighting over Malta this gallant young airman destroyed five and shared in the destruction of a sixth German bomber. Though relatively inexperienced he has, by his dash and personal courage, been an inspiration to the other fighter pilots of his unit. // WEAVER, P/O Claude III, DFM (J18784) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.403 Squadron - Award effective 2 March 1944 as per London Gazette dated 17 March 1944 and AFRO 766/44 dated 6 April 1944. Award presented to next-of-kin, 5 May 1945. // Within recent months this officer has taken part in numerous low level attacks against a variety of targets, such as airfield and gun emplacements, and throughout has displayed great determination in air fighting. He has destroyed a further seven enemy aircraft bringing his victories to twelve. His successes are an excellent tribute to his great skill, courage and resolution. // WEAVER, P/O Claude III, DFC, DFM (J18784) - Mention in Despatches - Overseas (missing) - Award effective 8 June 1944 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 1729/44 dated 11 August 1944. No citation in AFRO. // Public Record Office WO 208/3315 has his MI.9 report; he had left Gibraltar on 15 October 1943, arrived at Hendon on 16 October 1943, and been interviewed on 16 October 1943. He was a Warrant Officer when interviewed. // CAPTURE // On 9 September 1942 I was pilot of a Spitfire engaged over Sicily. I was hit by anti-aircraft fire and force-landed on the beach at Comiso. My aircraft was damaged, but I was immediately arrested by Carabinieri and did not have time to destroy it. I was very thoroughly searched on the spot and my compass (a smal round one), aids box and food pack were taken. // I spent five days living in the joint German-Italian officers’ mess at Comiso. I was not interrogated, even informally. The treatment was good. // JOURNEY AFTER CAPTURE // On 14 September I was taken to the interrogation centre at Camp 50, Poggio. I was given five days’ solitary confinement. I was given a straightforward interrogation two or three times by an Italian officer and for a time an Australian RAF Sergeant shared my cell. I suspected him from the start, as in talking about shows and women it appeared that he had seen no shows in England subsequent to 1937, and he used the expression “preservative” instead of “prventative”. He got nothing out of me. Before leaving Poggio I filled in a genuine Red Cross form. // CAMP 21 (CHIETI) // I was moved on 29 September to Campo 21 (Chieti) under guard of two Carabinieri. On arrival I was very drastically searched. All my clothes were removed and my person was examined in detail. // CAMPO 49 (FONTANELLATO) // I left Chieti about the middle of March 1943 for Campo 49 (Fontanellato), ten miles northwes of Parma with about 40 others, including four officers of the USAAF. Three of us made an abortive attempt to jump the train on the way. // After three months at Campo 49 I managed by special request to get myself sent back with other Americans to Chieti. I arrived back there about the middle of June. // ATTEMPTS TO ESCAPE // First Attempt: From Chieti. I tried to get out through the wire in March 1943, but was hung up and after half an hour discovered. I was severely beaten up by the sentries, one of them breaking his rifle over me. I was give 30 days in cells as punishment. Parcels were smuggled in to my cell. // Second Attempt: From Campo 49 (Fontanellato). I attempted with Sergeant W. Wendt, USA of No.249 Squadron, RAF to escape through the camp sewer. We got some distance down the pipe, but then found that the contents had caked and blocked the exit, so that we had to come back. We were not discovered. [TRANSCRIBERS NOTE: Sergeanr Wendt’s MI.9 report was in WO 208/3316, copied from PRO files]. // ESCAPE FROM CHIETI // Lieutenant-Colonel Rideout and I escaped from Chieti early on the morning of 17 September. By that time the Germans had entered the camp. The Senior British Officer had given the all-clear, and the Italian guards had largely deserted. We went over two layers of wire and a 16-foot wall. We were challenged once from one of the raised sentry boxes (I think by a German), but we pretended to be drunk, called out “Amigo”, and were not fired at. // We wore British battle dress, and little blue skull-caps. We were posing as Spanish workmen. Our passes had been forged by Lieutenant Goldingham and the photographs used on them had been taken by the Italians at Campo 21. We were wearing blue battle dress tunics when photographed, but we pared the photographs down to show only part of the collar. The passes were over-stamped BRERNO-INTRETA. // In addition, we each had a tracing from a silk map obtained in the camp, and home-made compasses. We intended making for the Eighth Army on the east side of Italy. // We covered 17 miles southward across country on the morning of 17 September. On the evening of 17 September we reached Fara San Martino (Europe Air Map 1:250,000, Sheet Chieti) which we found full of European civilian internees. We were given 100 lire by a Rusian woman. Two Italian youths wanted to attach themselves to us, in the hope of reaching the Allied armies with our assistance. We decided that the assistance should be mutual. We left Fara on the evening of 17 September and were guided over fields by the two youths to an electrified railway station, where we caught a train at 0400 hours on the morning of 18 September. On the train we exchanged clothes with some Italians, who were glad of our warmer battle dresses. We left the train at Villa San Maria (Europe Air Map 1:250,000, Sheet Foggia) at 1300 hours on 18 September, and at 0200 hours, reached Agnone, where we slept in straw stacks outside the town. // On 19 September we walked all day to San Ellena. On 20 September we by-passed Campbasso, where we learned that German staff were installed, and walked to near Riccia. // On 21 September we went on to Motta (north of Volturno). At this point we decided to push on without our guides. At 1400 hours on 23 September we had reached a position just east of Lucera from where we could see Foggia. We heard that Foggia was still in German hands. We had acquired by now shepherds’ crooks, floppy hats, and a great growth of beard. // At noon on 24 September we reached Melfi, where we heard that the Allied Forces were at La Capiscola, some 20 miles distant. We decided to push on, but between Melfi and Rionero I sprained my ankle. We saw some Germans patrolling along a railway track. I struggled along for about three miles and we reached Rionero and broke into an empty house. // Rideout went out to scrounge for food and then started off through the German lines to get help for me. He was back within 12 hours, bringing with him a mules which he had obtained from two Canadian engineers. I rode on the mule into La Capiscola on 25 September with Rideout from whom I then parted. // I was taken to Eighth Army Headquarters. I was interrogated by several Intelligence and Staff officers on General Montgomery’s staff. // On 27 September I was flown to Malta where I was interrogated and taken before Air Vice-Marshal Park. I was kept in Malta about a week in a rest camp and was then allowed to rejoin my squadron, where I did some practice flying. // On 6 October I received instructions to return to the UK. I was four days in Algiers where I was interrogated by Major Holder and Colonel Hunter (Combined Allied HQ) and POW Centre, CSDIC. I flew to UK in a Fortress, leaving Algiers on 14 September. // Training Record: // // At No.3 ITS, placed 74th in a class of 264. Described as “Very bright. Cool. Clever. Outstanding type. Should do extremely well.” // No.17 EFTS - Course 30 (9 June to 27 July 1941). Placed 30th in a class of 34. “Inclined to be cocky but otherwise good student; likes aerobatics; appearance, discipline good”. // No.8 SFTS - Course 34 (27 July to 9 October 1941). He was graded last in a class of 39. An instructor wrote, “This pupil had to be watched carefully at this Unit. Discipline poor. Has too much to say. Is a wise guy.” Yet the CFI, W/C K.L.B. Hodson, wrote, “Very young, Has a schoolboy complex. But lots of courage.” He had one forced landing at which time his logbook was endorsed for carelessness (Anson 6353, 6 August 1941 - port engine quit at 200 feet on precautionary approach; attempted to make circuit on one engine which also quit. Attempted landing in small field, struck trees and ran into ditch). // No.56 OTU - Course No.42 (arrived 10 February 1942; left 14 April 1942). His previous flying totalled 74 hours 40 minutes (day dual), 87 hours 35 minutes (day solo), two hours 15 minutes (night dual), nine hours 40 minutes (night solo), 28 hours 55 minutes (instruments), five hours (formation flying) and 38 hours 30 minutes in Link. At No.56 OTU he flew one hour 30 minutes (day dual, 35 hours 50 minutes (day solo), two hours on instruments, 11 hours in formation and ten hours 30 minutes in Link. Graded “Above Average” in the following categories: Natural Aptitude, Skill in Landing, Aerobatics/Dog Fighting. Graded “Average” in Airmanship, Cockpit Drill, Formation Flying, Map Reading and Air Firing. Fired 14,000 rounds air-to-air His personal qualities were also graded - “Exceptional” in Dash (quick and decisive); “Above Average” in Persistence, Endurance, Initiative, and General Assessment as an Operational Pilot. Graded “Average” in Leadership, Method, Deliberation and Self-Control. Deemed “Below Average” in Sense of Responsibility and Distribution of Attention. The CFI (name illegible - “Beaumont ?”) wrote of him: // Has the quality to do well in a squadron. He is however a little over confident in his own ability - but is keen to learn. His discipline on the ground needs improving - and in the air, unless strictly supervised he is inclined to fly for himself and not for the benefit of the section. Fit for a commission.