Distinguished Flying Cross : Flight Lieutenant H R Hannaford, 450 Squadron, RAAF

Place Europe: Yugoslavia
Accession Number REL/15891
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Award
Physical description Silver
Location Main Bld: World War 2 Gallery: Gallery 2: Against G
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1944-1945
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Distinguished Flying Cross. Engraved reverse with year of issue.

History / Summary

Flight Lieutenant Hector Roy Hannaford, 407427, was born in Gumeracha, South Australia on 9 June 1917. An average pilot during his period as a flying cadet in Australia in 1941, Hannaford went on to distinguish himself in the Second World War, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross for outstanding service and leadership flying Kittyhawks in the Mediterranean theatre of operations in 1944.

Following training, Hannaford's first operational posting was to the Western Desert with 250 Squadron RAF in January 1942 where he flew bomber escort, strafing runs and coastal shipping patrols. By the end of May he was honing his skills in dogfights against German ME 109 and Italian Macchi C.202 fighter planes.

On 28 May he was on bomber escort duties when he was jumped by a ME109 and sustained a 20 mm hole through a propeller blade. Two days later he turned the tables by inflicting damage during a dogfight with another ME109.

His first serious incident occurred on 16 June when he was shot down by anti-aircraft fire during a strafing run over Sidi Resegh in Libya. He survived the crash and was picked up by the staff of the commander of XXX Corps in North Africa, General Charles Norrie. Three days later he was escorting Boston bombers east of Tobruk when his unit was again attacked by ME 109s and the wing of Hannaford's plane was holed.

On July 8, Hannaford was taking part in a bombing and strafing run on Daba Aerodrome when his unit was attacked by the German and Italian fighters. On this occasion he was wounded in the hand and leg and crash landed. He remained in hospital for the remainder of July.

At the beginning of August 1942 he was posted to 450 Squadron. Nicknamed the 'Desert Harassers' following a broadcast from the German propagandist Lord Haw Haw claiming they were little more than 'Australian mercenaries whose harassing tactics were easily beaten off by the Luftwaffe', 450 Squadron became one of the best known RAAF squadrons of the Second World War.

Early the following month he was escorting Boston bombers when he was again wounded in the shoulder and crash landed after being attacked by enemy fighters. In the engagement he claimed a 'probable' on one of the Italian planes. Following hospitalisation, Hannaford was transferred to RAF Helwan in Egypt and spent the next few months test flying repaired aircraft during which he crash landed on at least three occasions.

He rejoined 450 Squadron in Libya in June 1943 and began operational flying again the following month. Over the next 12 months Hannaford took part in rigorous bombing and strafing runs over Italy and Yugoslavia. For outstanding service and leadership during this period in the Mediterranean he was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross. The citation for the award reads:

'Flying Officer Hannaford has completed a very arduous tour of operational duty during which he attacked many enemy installations, destroying gun posts and on one occasion being responsible for the beaching of an armed cruiser in a Jugoslavian [sic] harbour. In March 1944, he scored an effective hit on a railway bridge in enemy territory which destroyed a span. This officer has proved himself an excellent leader who has always completed his sorties with keenness and determination.'

In July 1944 Hannaford left operational flying and was posted to the Advanced Flying Unit at RAF Little Rissington in Gloucestershire. In October he transferred to the Operational Training Unit at RAF Lindley, Warwickshire.

His final posting was to Royal Air Force Transport Command in February 1945 where he completed a course on the Hudson bomber on March 18. Ten days later Hannaford was killed in an accident off the coast of Scotland while ferrying a Douglas DC-3 Dakota IV KN409 aircraft from Canada, via Iceland to Scotland. While cruising at 4,000 feet east of the Isle of Arran, the crew informed Prestwick Airport of their intention to land. A minute later the Dakota crashed in to the Firth of Clyde, about 4 miles offshore. No trace of the aircraft or crew was ever found. Hannaford is commemorated on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial and the Ottawa Monument in Canada.