Sweetheart Brooch : Flight Lieutenant H G Pockley DFC and Bar, 10 Squadron, RAAF

Accession Number REL39792
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Badge
Physical description Enamel, Metal, Sterling silver
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1942
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

The brooch is in the form of RAAF pilot's wings and has a red enamelled King's crown over the letters 'RAAF' which have been coloured with dark blue enamel. The reverse of the brooch has a horizontally set pin and keeper. On the back of the left wing, a small silver chain has been attached with a safety pin at the end. Also on the left wing has been stamped 'STG SIL' for Sterling Silver.

History / Summary

Associated with the service of Squadron Leader 260608 Harold Graham Pockley DFC & Bar. Pockley was born on 5 February 1913 in Graceville, Qld and grew up in the Randwick area of Sydney. He enlisted in the RAAF on 8 January 1940 at Mascot, NSW and was accepted for flying training. He flew with 22 Squadron during his training. The squadron at this time was a training squadron, teaching support flying for army units. He graduated from his course on 4 May with a distinguished pass and was commissioned with the provisional rank of pilot officer.

Over the next 7 months, Pockley completed navigation and advanced flying courses and was also married in mid July. He was promoted to flying officer on 4 November and embarked for overseas service from Sydney on 27 December in the transport ship Empress of Russia. After diverting through Canada he disembarked in Glasgow and reported to 10 Squadron, RAAF at Oban, in western Scotland on 1 March 1941. He began his operational flying with 10 Squadron, RAAF on 19 March 1941 and quickly gained a reputation as a daring pilot. He became known as a U-Boat magnet due to his uncanny knack of 'attracting' enemy submarines on his sorties. This was a source of good-natured banter for other pilots in the squadron who did not share his luck.

Pockley was promoted temporary flight lieutenant. He was awarded DFC for 'operational sorties against enemy shipping' in July 1942 and the Bar to the DFC in November for 'destroying U-boats, R-boats and enemy merchant vessels'. Pockley was invested with his medal and bar at Buckingham Palace by King George VI on 1 July 1942. During his time with 10 Squadron, Pockley sent this sweetheart brooch to his wife Joyce. He flew his last operation with 10 Squadron on 12 November before being posted to 41 Squadron, RAAF in Australia which at this stage of the war was operating Martin Mariner aircraft. The squadron flew regular supply operations to New Guinea to resupply the ground forces in the Papua and New Guinea campaigns.

Pockley was promoted to temporary squadron leader on 1 February 1943 and then acting squadron leader in August. He was given temporary command of 41 Squadron, RAAF briefly in May 1944 and again for several weeks in September. In December he was posted to command 7 Operational Training Unit. Pockley was posted to command the newly formed 200 Flight (Special Duties) at Leyburn airfield near Toowoomba in February 1945. The squadron was formed to support M and Z Special units operating in the Netherlands East Indies and Borneo. The aircraft they flew were modified B-24 Liberator Bombers.

He flew his first mission on 25 February 1945 and his last, flying Liberator A72-191 one month later. Squadron Leader Pockley and his crew were posted missing in action on 25 March after failing to return from a successful operation to insert personnel and supplies into the jungles of Sarawak. Pockley's aircraft was seen attacking a merchant vessel off Borneo and it is believed this action caused the loss of the aircraft and crew. A court of enquiry held in November 1946 could find no evidence of the aircraft or crew and passed a finding presuming Pockley and his crew to have been killed on 25 March 1945.