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[David Holford DSO DFC]
[The Channel Dash]
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David Holford DSO DFC

103 Squadron Holford

'David Holford is dead. In one of the crashes that black Thursday night. I feel absolutely wretched. David was the finest of all the young RAF boys -in fact I liked and respected him more than I can say. He had just bought a house near Grimsby for his wife and baby. Is this the way to win the war - by sacrificing all our best? And is all this bombing really shortening the war?" Dr Tom Kirk GP  - Barton upon Humber - WW2.

I doubt there was another officer in 1 Gp Bomber Command more widely respected, admired and liked as David William Holford. Over the years I have heard so much about him. A young man of considerable character, intelligence and ability who loved flying.

David joined the RAF at the age of 17 in 1938. In March 1940 he has been posted to 99 Sqn and was flying Wellingtons. The first 11 ops he flew as co-pilot – 6 of these with the legendary Percy Pickard. By June 1940 at the age of 19 he was deemed experienced enough to captain an aircraft in his own right. He went on to fly another 15 ops and was mentioned in dispatches for bringing home a damaged bomber.

He was awarded a DFC, promoted to Flying Officer and posted to RAF Bassingbourn as an instructor.

16-Oct-41

Dunkirk

F

N

Docks and shipping

Wellington

R1061

F/L

DW

Holford

22-Oct-41

Mannheim

G

N

Point of Aim

Wellington

T2617

F/L

DW

Holford

24-Oct-41

Frankfurt

G

N

Point of Aim

Wellington

R1061

F/L

DW

Holford

31-Oct-41

Hamburg

G

N

Point of Aim

Wellington

R5690

F/L

DW

Holford

09-Nov-41

Hamburg

G

N

Point of Aim

Wellington

T2999

F/L

DW

Holford

26-Nov-41

Emden

G

N

Point of Aim

Wellington

W5690

F/L

DW

Holford

28-Dec-41

Wilhelmshaven

G

N

Point of aim

Wellington

W5690

F/L

DW

Holford

06-Jan-42

Brest

F

N

German capital ships

Wellington

W5690

F/L

DW

Holford

09-Jan-42

Brest

F

N

German capital ships

Wellington

W5690

F/L

DW

Holford

10-Jan-42

Wilhelmshaven

G

N

Point of aim

Wellington

W5690

F/L

DW

Holford

15-Jan-42

Hamburg

G

N

Point of aim

Wellington

W5690

F/L

DW

Holford

25-Jan-42

Brest

F

N

German capital ships

Wellington

W5690

F/L

DW

Holford

28-Jan-42

Munster

G

N

Point of aim

Wellington

W5690

F/L

DW

Holford

06-Feb-42

Brest

F

N

German capital ships

Wellington

W5690

F/L

DW

Holford

12-Feb-42

Operation Fuller

 

D

German capital ships- N Sea

Wellington

Z8843

F/L

DW

Holford

03-Mar-42

Paris

F

N

Renault motor factory

Wellington

W5690

S/L

DW

Holford

08-Mar-42

Essen

G

N

Point of Aim

Wellington

R1347

S/L

DW

Holford

13-Mar-42

Cologne

G

N

Point of Aim

Wellington

T2617

S/L

DW

Holford

27-Mar-42

St Nazaire

F

N

Operation Chariot

Wellington

T2617

S/L

DW

Holford

02-Apr-42

Poissy

F

N

Ford motor vehicle factory

Wellington

DV679

S/L

DW

Holford

08-Apr-42

Hamburg

G

N

Point of Aim.

Wellington

DV697

S/L

DW

Holford

25-Apr-42

Rostock

G

N

Point of Aim

Wellington

DV697

S/L

DW

Holford

04-May-42

Stuttgart

G

N

Bosch plug factory

Wellington

DV697

S/L

DW

Holford

29-May-42

Paris/ Gennevilliers

F

N

Gnome Rhone factory

Wellington

Z1140

S/L

DW

Holford

05-Jun-42

Essen

G

N

Point of Aim B

Wellington

Z1140

S/L

DW

Holford

06-Jun-42

Emden

G

N

Point of Aim A

Wellington

DV697

S/L

DW

Holford

08-Jun-42

Essen

G

N

Point of Aim A

Wellington

DV697

S/L

DW

Holford

David flew at least 27 ops with 103 Sqn. Several were important special ops which stand out. Operation Fuller, Paris Renault factory and Poissy Ford Motor factory.

David was awarded a DSO for his actions on Operation Fuller

After he completed his tour with 103 Sqn he became OC of the 103 Sqn Halifax Conversion Unit also based at Elsham Wolds. This was later deemed as an impractical arrangement and the Conversion Unit was moved to Lindholme which became the home of 1656 Heavy Conversion Unit. He married his wife Jean about this time. Jean was an Intelligence Officer at Elsham Wolds.

In Feb 1943 David was promoted to Wing Commander at the age of 23 making him one of the youngest of that rank in the RAF before or since.

He was OC 100 Sqn in Nov 1943 and was tragically killed on Black Thursday, the 16th Dec 1943, when his aircraft flew into the ground in very bad visibility at Kelstern on return from an operation to Berlin.

Written by David Fell with thanks to Patrick Otter. Photo Arthur Roberts collection.

See also page for Operation Fuller/The Channel Dash

 

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