The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. G C C Palliser
George Charles Calder Palliser was born in West Hartlepool on 11th January 1919 and educated at Brougham School there and later a Technical School. He joined the RAFVR in June 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot and did some flying at 32 E&RFTS before being called to full-time service at the outbreak of war.
Palliser was posted to 3 ITW Hastings, moved to 11 EFTS Perth on 5th December and went to 6 FTS Little Rissington in April 1940. After converting to Hurricanes at 6 OTU Sutton Bridge in July, Palliser joined 17 Squadron at Debden on 3rd August. He moved to 43 Squadron at Tangmere on the 18th and joined 249 Squadron at North Weald on 14th September.
Above L to R with 249 Squadron mascots: Sgt. GCC Palliser, F/O E Cassidy, P/O RENE Wynn, Adj. EFML Fayolle, Sgt. JP Mills, Sgt. HJ Davidson.
Palliser shared in destroying a Do 17 on the 15th, damaged a Do 17 on
the 21st, destroyed two Me110’s on the 27th, damaged a Do 17 on 21st October and destroyed a Me109 on 7th November. He was shot down on 5th December by Me109’s after a long patrol and crashed with no fuel left.
On 4th February 1941 Palliser shared a Me110 and on the 10th shared in the probable destruction of a Me109. Commissioned in April 1941, he embarked with 249 Squadron on HMS Furious on 10th May and sailed for Gibraltar, where the squadon transferred to HMS Ark Royal. The Hurricanes flew off on the 21st to Ta Kali, Malta.
During the night of 7/8th June Palliser shared in the probable destruction of a SM79, on the 12th shared a Z506B, on the 18th shared a Mc200, on the 19th he shared a SM81, on December 20 destroyed a Ju88 and damaged a Me109 and on the 24th he shared in destroying two Ju88’s.
On 8th January 1942 Palliser joined 605 Squadron at Hal Far as a Flight
Commander. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 30th January 1942) and posted from Malta
on 26th February, arriving at 25 Air School, Standerton, South Aftica on 28th March to be an instructor. Palliser was posted to 62 CFS, Bloemfontein on 17th July, to 2 EFTS Randfontein on 19th October and then to 4 EFTS Benoni on 2nd September 1943. He was admitted to Baragwanath Military Hospital in Johannesburg on 21st January 1944 and remained there until leaving for the UK on 24th May.
From 2nd September 1944 Palliser instructed at 15 EFTS Carlisle. He moved to 10 FTS Woodley on 19th September 1945, instructed there until 16th March 1946 going then to CFS South Cerney. In October he was posted as an instructor to the flying school at Heany, Southern Rhodesia. In October 1947 Palliser retired from the RAF and settled with his family in South Africa, later moving to Australia.
Sergeant (later Flight Lieutenant) Palliser (nicknamed 'Titch' by his colleagues) is still at time of writing (2008) in Australia and has kindly sent the following account of an action that took place on 29th October 1940, towards the end of the Battle:
In the late afternoon a section of 249 Squadron was scrambled with some of 257 Squadron, which had landed at North Weald for a conjoined operation. A number of 249 pilots, including myself, were on 30 minutes stand-by.
As the aircraft of both squadrons were preparing to take off, there was a mighty roar of engines, the clatter of machine guns and the vicious crack of bombs exploding. Together with some of the others on stand-by, we ran like hell for our aircraft to join the action. My memory bothers me somewhat but I swear I never did fasten my harness and simply sat on my parachute. The aircraft had been started by our ground staff, who had not run for shelter. I saw a clear run and went full throttle to get airborne as quickly as possible - the next second there was a mighty "crack" from the direction of Tubby Girdwood of 257 Squadron who was about a hundred yards on my starboard side, also about to be airborne.
At that instant I was airborne and felt a hell of a vibration which shook the aircraft - I thought that I was in trouble - and keeping in full throttle and staying low I executed a half turn of the airfield and landed. By this time the bombing was over and the 109's were being chased by those who had managed to take off satisfactorily.
I managed to taxi back to the dispersal, noticing a Hurricane was on fire a few hundred yards from the perimeter track – my immediate thought was "My God, Tubby Girdwood”
By this time many were running to the burning aircraft and I joined them, only to be prevented from being too close as ammunition was exploding from the heat of the flames. We stood and watched so helplessly and witnessed the terrible sight of a friend burn to death - this was a shocking experience, considering we were talking and joking only fifteen minutes earlier with Tubby and other Sergeant Pilots before the scramble.
In regard to my aircraft, it was found that a part of the blade of the propeller had been sliced off by the fragments of the same bomb which had burst under Tubby Girdwood. This type of attack was a great shock to us all. In late October we thought that German strategy was to increase night bombing and that daytime low level attacks were causing increased losses for the Luftwaffe. The damage to the airfield and buildings, and the loss of life and injuries to personnel was serious indeed; however, our pilots that had managed to become airborne were in a good position to chase and attack the 109's.
At least four were shot down and a number damaged as claims were made by pilots Flight Commander Butch Barton, Pilot Officer Millington, Sergeant Maciejowski and Sergeant Stroud. The pilots of 257 Squadron also were able to do their share in the action.
A sad day in this conflict.
Palliser died on 24th September 2011 in Australia.