LEATHERHEAD WAR MEMORIALS - WWII

Sgt Arthur 'Art' [Clarence] Davies RAFVR
543 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Town Memorial WWII Panel

No.534 Squadron was formed on 2 September 1942 from No.1455 (Turbinlite) Flight, at Tangmere, disbanding on 25 January 1943. At the time of Art Davies death they were flying Douglas Havoc (Turbinlite) mks I & II and Boston III (Turbinlite) aircraft in conjunction with Hurricanes. ¹

It was not in existence long enough to have a squadron badge.

The Havoc I Turbinlite was a night fighter version of this twin engined aircraft which was modified to carry a 2.7 million candlepower Helmore/G.E.C. searchlight in the nose in addition to the Airborne Interception (AI) radar. The system was devised by Wing Commander W. Helmore, and was built by the General Electric Company. It was intended that this searchlight would operate in conjunction with the AI radar. The radar would be used to locate enemy night intruders, and the aircraft's radar controller would direct the pilot to close to within 3000 feet of the target. The spotlight would then illuminate the target so that accompanying [Hurricane] fighters could attack it. Thirty-one such Turbinlite conversions were made.

Since the nose and the bomb bay were now full of equipment, the Turbinlite Havoc was unarmed and depended on accompanying fighters to destroy the targets which it was supposed to illuminate. Turbinlite Havocs were initially operated by No. 1422 Flight (Air Target Illumination Unit), which was formed at Heston in early 1941 to train crews and to supply specially-modified Havocs and Bostons.

These aircraft were also operated by Nos 1451 to 1460 Flights (later re-numbered Nos 530 to 539 Squadrons. This mode of attack was not all that successful, since the glaring searchlight gave enemy defensive gunners something bright to fire at. By late 1942, the development of centimetric radar had made such techniques obsolete, and the last Turbinlite Havocs were withdrawn in January of 1943.² [In passing, the uncle of the wife of the editor, F/O Anthony F MacManemy, was killed at West Malling when his Havoc Turbinlite aircraft collided with two accompanying Hurricanes.]

Art Davies' connection with Leatherhead is apparently that he was billeted, together with other Canadians, at Headley Court, not far from Leatherhead.

He met and married Brenda Evelyn 'Lindy' Bullen, a GPO telephonist at the Leatherhead Telephone Exchange. Her parents lived in Bridge Street, Leatherhead.

At the time of this wedding photo Art was 'aircrew under training' as can be seen by the white flash in his cap. On the successful completion of training (which thousands did not survive) he would have taken great pleasure in removing that flash and being able to wear the appropriate aircrew brevet - in his case pilot's wings - on his uniform jacket.


Lindy & Art's wedding, September 17th 1941
source Mrs Vyvien Fenton

It is believed he was killed when his aircraft collided with another. (note 4)

Name: DAVIES, ARTHUR ³
Rank: Sergeant (Pilot)
Regiment: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Unit: 534 Sqdn.
Age: 25
Date of Death: 21/10/1942
Service No: 1272582
Son of Thomas Ivan and Dorothy Mae Davies; husband of Brenda Evelyn Davies, of Leatherhead.
Grave/Memorial Reference: South [actually SE] of Church near main path.
Cemetery: LEATHERHEAD (SS. MARY AND NICHOLAS) CHURCHYARD

headstone

In Ever Loving And
Precious Memory of
Sgt. Pilot Art Davies, RAF
of Hill Spring, Alberta, Canada
Beloved Husband of Lindy,
Who was Taken From
This Earth Oct 21st 1942
Aged 25 Years

foot of grave

The trees grow old, the flowers
must die with Autumn's icy breath,
But love remains and walks with
us beyond the gates of death.

left kerb of grave
Also Nan who passed away November 24th 1950 aged 66 years

Although Arthur Davies is described as coming from Canada, his nationality is given as UK in the CWGC database.

Research on Ancestry.co.uk was necessary to eliminate the remote possibility that AC Davies was someone else. Arthur Clarence Davies was born on 23rd July 1917 (died 21st October 1942) in Cardston, Alberta, Canada, a son in the large family of his American father Thomas Ivan Davies (died 1977) from Fillmore, Millard Co, Utah and Canadian mother Dorothy May Hulett of Trenton, Hastings, Ontario (died 1952).

He and Brenda (Lindy) Evelyn Bullen were married on 17 September 1941. She died on 17th March 1980 aged 59. It is understood that she remarried and had a son. A source on Ancestry states that Brenda was actually Belinda, however it gets the spelling of the surname wrong; another source states that she died in 1981.

Sources
1. Squadrons of the Royal Air Force, CG Jefford
2.
Service of Boston/Havoc with the RAF
3. The assistance of the staff of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in the location of this casualty is gratefully acknowledged.
4. Heather Maynard of Leatherhead and her sister Mrs Vyvien Fenton. Vyvien was a GPO telephonist with Lindy Davies née Bullen.

Links

Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry

534 Squadron

Illustration of the Turbinlite attack theory

the website editor would like to add further information on this casualty
e.g. a photo of him , and of any recollections within his family.

last updated 20 Aug 2004: 12 Feb 14: 4 Feb 15: CWGC links updated 7 Nov 17