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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. A H Riseley


Arthur Harry Risely was born on 7th June 1914 at Rotherhithe, London and took up a hotel trade apprenticeship. He joined 600 Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force at Hendon in 1934 as a trainee Fitter, Aero Engines. After a year of evening classes at Armoury House Riseley took a trade test, passed and was promoted to LAC.

He later remustered as an Air Gunner, flying in Harts and Demons from Hendon. After qualifying Riseley was promoted to Corporal. He was called to full-time service on 24th August 1939 and later promoted to Sergeant. He served with 600 throughout the Battle while making many applications for pilot training.



Riseley was selected early in 1941 and went to No. 1 ITW at Downing College, Cambridge then to 22 EFTS Cambridge for initial flying training. He moved on to FTS Kidlington and was commissioned in September 1941 at the end of the course.

Riseley requested a night-fighter posting and was sent to 51 OTU Cranfield. He converted to Bostons and joined 418 (RCAF) Squadron at Debden at its formation on 15th November 1941. The British crews were gradually replaced by Canadians and at the end of 1942 Riseley was posted to 88 Squadron at Oulton, flying Bostons on daylight sorties.

On 16th August 1943 the squadron went to raid the marshalling yards at Valenciennes. Riseley's Boston BZ359 was hit by flak before reaching the target and he lost one engine. After bombing, he went down to low-level for the return flight and was shot down by Me109s in the Pas de Calais area.

He crash-landed near Auxi-le-Chateau, NE of Abbeville, in a field, with his crew of two injured. They managed to reach a small wood. Riseley left them and went to a farmhouse where he was given civilian clothes and sent on. French people went out to the injured crew.

Riseley evaded capture, lived on roots and was given food at a farmhouse. After a few days he met an expatriate Englishman, who had stayed on in 1918 and owned a cafe. Riseley was taken to a milliner's shop, where he was joined by his gunner, F/Sgt TJ Hedley. The navigator had been captured.

They hid at the shop for several weeks, eventually went to Amiens station and took a train to Paris. From there they went south, returned to Paris, and then took a train to Vannes and ended up in Brest, where they were nearly caught.

They eventually got away in a fishing boat and after thirty-six hours at sea reached Penzance on 25th October 1943. Riseley rejoined the squadron at Swanton Morley. In December he was posted to HQ 2 Group at Wallingford, as an Operations Controller.

He was awarded the DSO (gazetted 14th January 1944).

Riseley went to 2nd TAF Brussels later in 1944, moved to Osnabruck in 1945 and finally to Gutersloh, to prepare for the arrival of the RAF. He was released from the RAF on 1st April 1946 as a Squadron Leader. During his service Riseley received a Mention in Despatches.

He died in 1992.

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