W/C John Frederick Dilworth DFC RAFVR - 29, 101, 460, 576 and 100 Squadrons – 1937/1944
OC A Flight 576 Squadron - 25th November 1943 to 17th December 1943
John Dilworth ( pictured above ) had an interesting and varied RAF career which was sadly terminated when he was lost as OC 100 Squadron in February 1944. He was born on the 14th October 1914 at Turramurra New South Wales, Australia. On the 15th July 1936 he was an Air Cadet in the RAAF.
At this stage he must have volunteered for the RAF as part of their pre war expansion programme.
Many ambitious young men from the Commonwealth with a serious interest in aviation took this path to further their flying careers. 103 Squadron had several in the early stages of the war. Roy Max, Jimmy Hayter and Tom Fitzgerald, all from New Zealand, immediately spring to mind.
On the 26th August 1937 he was commissioned in the RAF as Pilot Officer and undertook his pilot training at No1 Flying Training School at RAF Leuchars. On completion of this course on the 19th December 1937 he was posted to 29 Squadron at RAF Debden flying Hawker Demons.
At this stage he must have been rated as an above average pilot suitable for the role of Flying Instructor. On the 7th October 1938 he was posted to No 2 Flying Training School at RAF Brize Norton and on the 15 December 1938 to No 12 Flying Training School at RAF Grantham, later known as RAF Spitalgate.
At this stage his career is not clear. Probably continued as a flying instructor. On the 26 May 1939 he was promoted to Flying Officer and on the 12th June 1939 to Acting Flight Lieutenant.
On the 20th February 1940 he was on the Special Duties List.
On the 3rd August 1940 he was made up to Flight Lieutenant and on the 1st December 1941 to Temporary Squadron Leader.
He was posted to 101 Squadron at RAF Holme on Spalding Moor on the 12th October 1942 flying Vickers Wellingtons, presumably as a Flight Commander
After two months he became OC 460 Squadron RAAF at RAF Binbrook. This promotion came as a result of the then OC 460 Squadron, Wing Commander K.W. Kaufman DFC RAAF, being confined to hospital. He was promoted to Acting Wing Commander on the 12th December 1942.
On the 22th February 1943 he had completed his first tour and was posted to 1662 Heavy Conversion Unit at RAF Blyton.
Dilworth started his second tour on the 21st August 1943 with 101 Squadron at Ludford Magna flying Avro Lancasters.
On the 25th November 1943 he and 4 experienced 101 Squadron crews were posted to the newly formed 576 Squadron at RAF Elsham Wolds to make up the nucleus of the new 576 Squadron A Flight. Dilworth was OC of this Flight. His stay was very short and he never flew any operations with 576 Squadron as he was promoted OC 100 Squadron at RAF Grimsby ( known locally as Waltham ) on the 17th December 1943. He took over from the magnificent and much loved W/C David Holford DSO DFC RAF who had formerly served with 103 Squadron in 1941/42 and was killed on Black Thursday, the 16th December 1943, when his aircraft flew into the ground in very bad visibility at Kelstern on return from an operation to Berlin.
John Dilworth was in turn lost with his crew on the night of the 24/25 February 1944 on an operation to Schweinfurt. I believe by that time he had completed over 50 operations
W/C John Frederick Dilworth DFC RAFVR – Pilot – 30 – 100 Sqn - Son of Joseph and Anne Louise Dilworth; husband of Vera Dilworth of Ealing, Middlesex – Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany.
The loss of such an experienced, courageous and capable airman was a great tragedy. Like David Holford and many others that I have come across if he had survived he would have gone on to have a great career post war in the Air Force or whatever path he chose to take. He was one of life's winners.
When writing these short bios of men of this calibre I often reflect on the words of Dr Tom Kirk when he heard to the death of David 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
The same sentiments and thoughts would apply to John Frederick Dilworth.
Compiled and written by David Fell. Dilworth photo courtesy of Gunter Zeh. Others from my archive.