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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. C Haw


Charlton Haw was born on 8th May 1920 in York. He developed an interest in aviation at the age of 10 after a joy-ride with Sir Alan Cobham's Flying Circus. After leaving school Haw was an apprentice lithographer in Leeds.

He joined the RAFVR in February 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot. At his own expense he commenced training at York and Leeming Flying Club and was awarded Aero Certificate 19082 on 17th July 1939, his ID photo below.



He began his service training at 4 E&RFTS Brough. At some point he picked up the nickname 'Wag', possibly due to some resemblance to the fictional character 'Charlie Wag'.

Called up on 1st September 1939, Haw was posted to 4 ITW Bexhill in October and in December he went to 5 FTS Sealand.

He was on No. 45 Course which ran from 11th December 1939 to 10th June 1940. After the course was completed Haw was posted to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge but was then sent on directly to 504 Squadron at Wick the same day.



On 27th September Haw claimed a Me110 destroyed and was himself shot down in Hurricane P3415 over Bristol and landed at Gammons Farm, Kilmington near Axminster, unhurt.

In late July 1941 'A' Flight of 504 was renumbered 81 Squadron and posted to Leconfield. The personnel were kitted out for an unknown overseas destination. They were flown to Abbotsinch in Harrows and embarked on the aircraft carrier HMS Argus for Russia, with a cargo of crated Hurricanes. On 1st September the squadron flew off in sixes for Vaenga airfield, near Murmansk.

A convoy carrying crated Hurricanes sailed on to Archangel, 400 miles to the east, as did the Llanstephan Castle, a liner bearing some 500 wing personnel. Fifteen aircraft were assembled at Archangel and then flown to Vaenga.

At first the pilots found that the Rolls-Royce Merlins were performing poorly, this turned out to be due to the lower-octane Russian fuel. The British company Broquet Fuel corrected the problem by adding a catalyst.

On 12th and 17th September Haw destroyed two Me109s and a third later in the month. In accordance with Red Air Force practice Haw was given 100 roubles (about £20) for each enemy aircraft he had destroyed.

Operations continued until mid-November, when pilots of the squadron began converting Russian pilots to Hurricanes.

The personnel of 81 Squadron left Russia on 29th November 1941, leaving all equipment behind and returned in HMS Kenya, landing at Rosyth on 7th December. Haw was awarded the DFM (gazetted 23rd January 1942) and the Order of Lenin (awarded 31st March 1942), one of four given to RAF pilots by the Russians (below).



Above: F/Sgt. C Haw, S/Ldr. AG Miller, S/Ldr. AH Rook, W/Cdr. HNG Ramsbottom-Isherwood receive awards from Ivan Maisky, Russian ambassador.


81 Squadron went to Turnhouse, where it received Spitfire Vbs. Haw was commissioned in March 1942 and rejoined 504 for a short time but was posted to 122 Squadron at Hornchurch.

On 17th February 1943 he was given command of 611 Squadron at Biggin Hill. On 21st April 1943 Haw was posted away and in May he was sent on a tour of factories, speaking to workers. In July he was posted to the Fighter Leaders School at Milfield.

In November 1943 he returned to operations when he took command of 129 Squadron at Hornchurch. In April 1944 129 converted to Mustangs. After covering the D-Day landings, Haw led the squadron in July and August in an offensive against flying bombs. Finally, as leader of a wing of long-range Mustang fighters, he escorted Allied bombers on daylight raids. In July 1944 he returned to the Fighter Leaders School.

Haw was awarded the DFC (gazetted 17th October 1944). He was posted to Wittering in October 1944, to a unit which became the Central Fighter Establishment and moved to Tangmere in December 1944.

Haw commanded 65 Squadron from 1946 to 1948. Granted a permanent commission in 1948, he later lost his flying category because of an eyesight problem and retired from the RAF on 19th September 1951 as a Flight Lieutenant, retaining the rank of Squadron Leader.

For a while Haw and his wife were the landlords of a public house in Sussex. He later ran a pet-food and boarding-kennels business at Farnham, Surrey, and in recent years made dolls' houses and toys.

As a holder of the Order of Lenin, Haw was invited to Moscow in 1985 to attend the celebrations marking the 40th Anniversary of the end of the war.

He died in November 1993.


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