The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. F W Flood
Frederick William Flood was born in Roma, Queensland, Australia on 18th March 1915.
He joined the Australian Militia Force on 21st November 1933 at Toowoomba, in Queensland, then shortly after his assessment by Captain Arthur Irwin in July 1934 he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force as a Cadet and began flying training at Point Cook in 1935 (below).
Flood was offered and accepted a RAF short service commission and sailed from Sydney to Plymouth in the RMS Comorin which docked on 20th February 1936. He began training with seniority from the 21st as a Pilot Officer.
On 6th March 1936 Flood was posted to 32 Squadron at Biggin Hill, operating Bristol Bulldogs and Gloster Gauntlets. He moved to 8 Squadron at Khormakasar, Aden on 24th October 1936. Flood was appointed PA to the AOC, AVM Air Vice Marshal George Reid, British Forces in Aden on 4th April 1938, returning to his squadron on 18th October.
8 Squadron was then equipped with Vickers Vincents, a design based on the Vickers Vildebeest biplane torpedo bomber. Flood was promoted to Flying Officer on 15th September 1937, then granted the rank of Flight Lieutenant on 17th November 1938.
He joined 235 Squadron when it was formed at Manston in October 1939. He was made a Flight Commander on 1st June 1940. On the same day, in P6957, he sighted a He111 five miles off Dunkirk. Flood climbed and opened fire, disabling the rear gunner in the gondola. This may have been a 1./KG4 machine which returned damaged with Uffz M. Fischgrabe slightly wounded.
On an escort operation to Le Havre on 21st August he shot a Hs126 down into the sea.
Three days later his Blenheim was damaged in an attack by Hurricanes of 1 (RCAF) Squadron over Thorney Island. Flood escaped with minor damage to his aircraft but another Blenheim was shot down and its crew killed. It was the Canadians' first operational sortie.
On 7th September Flood and other airmen were at a dispersal when Hudson T9276 of 206 Squadron stalled on its final approach when avoiding an off-course Hurricane. It crashed amongst the Blenheims and burst into flames. The sole pilot, F/O J Davis, escaped.
P/O J Coggins, F/O JH Laughlin and Flood immediately ran to these aircraft, started the engines and taxied them away. During this time two of the bombs exploded. Three aircraft were taken to safety without damage and a fourth, Flood's second, with only minor damage.
Flood was recommended for the George Medal, the citation read:
Recommended by the Secretary of State for Air.
On 7 September 1940, a Hudson aircraft, carrying a full load of bombs, crashed among four Blenheim aircraft and burst into flames. Flight Lieutenant Flood, accompanied by Flying Officer Laughlin and Pilot Officer Coggins, immediately ran to the Blenheims, started the engines of three and taxied them to safety. During this time two bombs on the burning Hudson exploded.
Knowing that the remaining bombs were likely to explode any second, Flight Lieutenant Flood ran back, started up the engine of the fourth Blenheim, which had its rudder in the fire and taxied it to safety.
Throughout, these officers showed complete disregard for their own personal safety in the face of the greatest danger, and it was due to their prompt action, especially Flight Lieutenant Flood, that three of the Blenheims were taken to safety without damage and the fourth with only minor damage.
Flying Officer Laughlin and Pilot Officer Coggins are recommended for appointment as Members of the British Empire Order.
In the event Coggins and Laughlin were awarded a MBE (gazetted 21st January 1941). As Flood was reported Missing before his award could be made, the only possible posthumous award was a Mention in Despatches, Flood's MiD was gazetted on 17th March 1941.
On 11th September 1940 a reconnaissance flight off Calais spotted eleven barges in line astern escorted by E-boats. Flood led six Blenheims of 235 on an escort operation for FAA Albacores of 826 Squadron, also based at Bircham Newton. They were attacked by Me109s and Flood's aircraft, L9396, was shot down. Flood and his crew, P/O NB Shorrocks and Sgt. BR Sharp, were all reported 'Missing'.
Flood is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, panel 4.
The six Albacores of 826 Squadron FAA also sustained losses:
Albacore Mk.I L7117 'F4K' ditched in the Channel south-east of Dover following combat with enemy aircraft. Two of the three aircrew, Pilot, Lt. ASS Downes (wounded) and Observer, Sub-Lt. CR Mallett (uninjured) were picked up by MTB. Air Gunner, Naval Airman, JAM Stevens was lost with the aircraft.
L7098 F4-L crash landed near Staple, 7 miles north east of Deal, Kent after sustaining substantial battle damage during combat with enemy aircraft The wounded aircrew, Pilot, Sub-Lt. T Winstanley and Sub-Lt. JD Watson survived the crash.
L7097 "4C" Badly damaged by Me109s. Sub-Lt. AH Blacow slightly injured Mid. JJC Cowe and NA. FRR Lowe unhurt
L7114 - "4M" Badly damaged by Me109s. Sub-Lt. AM Tuke - unhurt Sub-Lt. EG Brown and NA RE Mathews both badly wounded.
L7100 - "4P" Returned safely.
6th a/c not known.
Additional research and above image courtesy of Andrew Bird (Coastal Dawn ISBN-10 1906502692).
Above image courtesy of Dean Sumner