T H D Drinkwater

Thomas Henry Desmond Drinkwater was the son of Thomas and Kathleen Drinkwater of St. Mawes and husband of Winifred (Wilf) Drinkwater.

234 Squadron

234 Squadron

19 Squadron

19 Squadron

122 Squadron

122 Squadron

 Drinkwater served as a pilot in the RAF in several different units. He was with 234 Squadron for 18 months until November 1942. Initially a Flight Sergeant he was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on 17 January 1942. On that day he flew a patrol orbit about the base between 08.30 and 09.30 as a sergeant and a scramble patrol between 10.45 and 11.30 as a pilot officer. On 3 May 1942 He was promoted to Flight Lieutenant, flying a convoy escort mission as a pilot officer between 09.10 and 10.20 and two further convoy escort missions as a flight lieutenant from 18.00 to 19.25 and 20.10 to 21.35. During his time with the squadron they were based in the South West, moving between airfields frequently*. They were equipped with Spitfires at this time; Mark IIA until September 1941 and Marks VB and VC thereafter. In November 1942 he transferred to 57 O.T.U. (operational training unit).

While with 234 Squadron he was awarded the DFC. The report below is from the Western Morning News dated 2 November 1942. There is also a report of the ceremony when he was presented with his medal alongside Squadron Leader Carlisle (see his record for the transcript).

St. Mawes Man's D.F.C.

Among the recipients of the D.F.C. in a new list of R.A.F. awards is Actg. Flt-Lt. Thomas Henry Desmond Drinkwater No. 234 Squadron, who has completed a large number of operational sorties. He is described as an outstanding leader, who has displayed great skill and devotion to duty.

He comes from St. Mawes, Cornwall. He was commissioned in January 1942.

By August 1943 Drinkwater was serving with 19 Squadron. Between August 1943 and January 1944, the squadron was equipped with the Spitfire Mark IX. In January 1944 the squadron converted to the Mustang Mark III. The squadron was stationed at Kingsnorth, Weston Zoyland, Gatwick and Gravesend during this time. In April 1944 he was promoted to Squadron Leader and posted to 122 Squadron as its commanding officer.

During the short time that Drinkwater was with 122 Squadron they were based at Ford and Funtington. Like 19 Squadron they were equipped with the Mustang Mark III. Squadron Leader Drinkwater was shot down over France on 18 May 1944 and is buried in Nantes (Pont-Du-Cens) Communal Cemetery. The combat report describes what happened:

Four aircraft led by S/Ldr Drinkwater DFC were airborne at 18:00 hrs on a Ranger to the Tours-Nantes area. Intense, accurate, heavy flak and light flak was encountered from Chartres and Tours. S/Ldr Drinkwater was seen to crash in flames at Tours. F/O H. Cush was badly hit by flak, his starboard ammunition blowing up and a .303 bullet through the cockpit window nicked his neck doing no more damage than to scratch him. F/Lt Pavey had his jettison tank blown away by light flak. F/Sgt Neish was not hit. F/Lt Pavey and F/Sgt Neish returned to base. F/O Cush landed at F?

Spitfire Mark IIA

Spitfire Mark IIa

Engine                          Merlin XII

Horsepower               1175 (1050 at 13,000 ft)

Max Speed                  357 mph at 17,000 ft

Range                          500 miles max 395 in combat

Ceiling                         37,200 feet

Rate of climb               2.995 feet/minute

Time to 20,000 feet    7 minutes

Mk IIAs carried eight .303in machine guns with 300 rounds per gun

Spitfire Mark V

Spitfire Mark Vb

Spitfire Mark VB

Spitfire Mark Vc

Spitfire Mark VC

Engine                          Merlin 45, 46, 50

Horsepower               1440 (45) 1190 (46) 1230 (50)

Ceiling                         37,000 ft

Speed                          369 mph at 19,500 ft

Cruising Speed            272 mph at 5,000 ft

Climb rate                   4,750 ft/min

VB                               Two 20mm cannon and four machine guns

VC                               Either eight machine guns, four 20mm cannon or two cannon and four machine guns. The two cannon/ four machine gun combination was most common, as the four-cannon version was significantly heavier, reducing performance.

Spitfire Mark IX

Spitfire Mark IX

Engine                          Merlin 61 or 63

Horsepower               1560 (61) 1690 (63)

Ceiling                         43,000 ft

Speed                          408 mph at 25,000 ft

Cruising Speed            324 mph at 20,000 ft

Climb rate                   4,100 ft/ min

Either four 20mm cannon or two 20mm cannon and four .303in machine guns.

Mustang Mark III

Mustang Mark III

Engine                          Packer Merlin V-1650-3

Horsepower               1,380 take-of, 1,600 War Emergency

Max Speed                  440 mph at 25,000 ft

Combat Range            900 miles with drop tanks

Ceiling                         42,000 feet

Armament                   Four .50-inch machine guns


* Airfields used by 234 Squadron:

February-November 1941: Warmwell

November-December 1941: Ibsley

December 1941: Predannack

December 1941-March 1942: Ibsley

March-April 1942: Warmwell

April 1942: Ibsley

April-August 1942: Portreath

August 1942: Charmy Down

August-October 1942: Portreath

October-November 1942: Perranporth

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