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The Airmen's Stories - P/O C A Ogilvy

 

Charles Alexander Ogilvy (known throughout his life as Alastair) was born in Kelso on 30th November 1915, the eldest of five sons, and educated at Edinburgh Academy. After leaving school he moved to London and worked for the Northern Assurance Company. He played rugby for the London Scottish RFC both before and after WW2, being Captain of the 1st XV in 1946-7. He joined the RAFVR in 1939 and was trained as a pilot at Woodley (Reading). He married in 1939 and two daughters were born, one in 1940 and another two years later. He joined 610 Squadron at Acklington on 14th October 1940 and flew two operational sorties on the 25th of that month, this qualifying him for the Battle of Britain Clasp. He later was posted to RAF Cranwell as a flying instructor, where he trained more than 120 pilots over a 3 year period in over 1000 flights. He was posted to 622 Squadron at Mildenhall in 1945, flying Lancasters, and took part in 16 bombing raids, as well as Operations Manna, Exodus, Baedecker, and Dodge Bari. After the end of the war he returned to the insurance business, finally retiring in 1985 at which time he was a director and secretary of the Reinsurance Offices Association. He enjoyed his golf and garden and was a Church warden. He died on 23rd February 1995 aged 79.

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Despite the exhaustive research carried out by the monument committee, Charles Ogilvy's name does not appear on the Monument, it did not appear in any of the official records, amateur research material, photograph captions, logbooks or books that were consulted. It was only on the death of his widow that his medals were examined by his daughter Susan and the award of the Clasp came to light. Apart from contacting this website, Susan engaged a professional researcher to examine the 610 Squadron Operational Record Book at Kew Public Records Office. This researcher reported that Ogilvy's name had not appeared once in the ORB and that in his opinion it had been badly kept, mostly recording details of postings in and out.

Susan was able to offer her father's logbooks for examination and it quickly became apparent that operational sorties had been flown on the 25th October 1940 (photos below - 'X-Raid' being the code for a radar or Observer Corps detection of unidentified aircraft).

 

 

It is not unusual for logbooks to contain comments, doodles and pasted-in photos but Ogilvy's had been written up with the minimum details required (as per official guidelines), however this was carried to the extreme on 19th November 1940 when he had to bale out of his Spitfire (cause unknown) in the vicinity of Acklington, this only coming to light because of a Caterpillar Club badge appearing amongst his medals and the covering letter for its delivery being present too. The logbook entry for this flight just records 'Dog Fighting' (i.e. practice) and a flight time of 15 minutes and no note of the emergency ! Only the aircraft letter Q is recorded and not the serial number.

(Above: Ogilvy centre, seated, presumably with his crew in 622 Sqdn)

From the logbooks it can be seen that though he flew twin-engined Wellingtons in 1944 he only received one check flight in a four-engined Lancaster on being posted to 622 Squadron before being sent on operations. He then went on to complete seventeen and two thirds sorties, including Dessau, Merseburg and Dusseldorf. The one-third sortie credits were given for Operation Manna (food to Holland) and PoW repatriation flights (in his case from Italy).

(Above: Ogilvy far right, now with moustache, again presumably with 622 Sqdn)

Going back to the October 1940 entries it is a mystery how the two 'X-raid' interceptions on the 25th that registered his eligibility for the Clasp were picked up circa 1945/46 while he otherwise vanished without trace from the usual records.

(Above: Ogilvy's medals, with Caterpillar club badge at bottom)

 

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On Monday 26th July 2010 a ceremony was held at the monument to mark the addition of Squadron Leader Ogilvy’s name to the monument. Thanks to a fortuitous space just one name away from his rightful place and the generosity of the company FM Conway it was possible to add his name by a new process that did not involve the re-casting of the whole plaque.

Councillor Robert Davis, Westminster City Council's Deputy Leader, made a welcoming speech flanked by Ogilvy's daughters Susan and Anne and said “It is important that we recognise the huge contribution that all those who fought in World War II made in helping to defend Britain from the Nazis. We are honoured to be able to pay tribute to a forgotten hero who was one of the many exceptional people whose sacrifice ensured that good triumphed over evil during our country’s darkest days". Susan, from Oxfordshire, replied: “I am grateful that my father’s name has been added and that he will be honoured along with all those other young men who fought for their country. My father went on to become a squadron leader and although he never talked about the war it is right that his name appears on the memorial and it is something for our family to be proud of".

The managing director of leading maintenance and services firm FM Conway, Michael Conway, whose company paid for the addition of Squadron Leader Ogilvy's name, said: “As Winston Churchill put it, so much was owed by so many to so few and it was therefore right that we offered our assistance in adding Charles’s name to the monument”.

The RAF was represented by Air Commodore Gordon Bruce.

A reception was held at the RAF Club in Piccadilly after the unveiling.

(Above (L to R): Susan Ogilvy, Cllr. Davis, Anne Ogilvy)

 

(Above (L to R): Martin Low, Westminster's Commissioner of Transportation, Susan Ogilvy, Cllr Robert Davis, Bernard Hodgkinson (Operations Director Structures & Maintenance, FM Conway))

Especial thanks are also due to Andrew Foster and Emma Germain of Westminster City Council.

 

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