The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. H A C Roden
Henry Adrian Charles Roden was born in Bradford on 22nd August 1916, the son of Henry Joseph Roden and Marion Taylor Roden (nee Dougal) of Linlithgow.
He was educated at Bellahouston Academy in Glasgow, after leaving he was employed by the Royal Bank at Dennistoun.
Roden joined the RAFVR about July 1937 as an Airman u/t Pilot and trained at 12 EFTS Prestwick.
Above: Roden with his sister Margaret.
Called up on 1st September 1939, he completed his training and arrived at 5 OTU Aston Down on 7th April 1940. After converting to Hurricanes he joined 19 Squadron at Duxford on 6th May, though they were equipped with Spitfires (see below).
On 28th July he crashed on landing at Duxford after an attack on a Ju88. He was unhurt.
Roden claimed a Me110 destroyed on 11th September. Four days later he made a crash-landing in Spitfire P9431 after his glycol tank was damaged in an action with Me109s. Roden was slightly injured and the aircraft was written off (report below).
Following an action against Me110s off Harwich on 15th November 1940 Roden hit a tree whilst attempting a forced-landing between Kersey and Boxford in Suffolk in bad visibility in Spitfire P7420.
He died of multiple head injuries the next day in East Suffolk Hospital, Ipswich and is buried in Linlithgow Cemetery, West Lothian.
Two postwar recollections of Sgt. Roden kindly forwarded by Andy Saunders:
Sgt. Alexander Noel MacGregor:
I joined 19 Squadron in September '40 and Jock Roden was killed in November but in that short time we became good friends as we had a lot in common (we were both Scots, both VRs, both bank clerks, both bachelors living in the Mess, as opposed to the married chaps living out) and we struck up a good rapport from the start. Jock had a quiet sense of humour, was modest and, I think, a very brave fellow.
I was on the operation on 15th November on which he crashed and was killed.
Jock, Sgt. GW Scott and I were the proud owners of an Austin 7 Tourer (cost £7:10/- = £2:10/- each) in which we had some hectic and unlawful (I don't think it was licensed) trips to the local pubs etc. Jock could not drive so either Scott or I took the wheel.
On leave shortly after Jock's death I went to his home in Linlithgow and met his mother and a sister. After that visit his mother sent me Jock's silver cigarette case, slightly dented in his crash, with my name and number engraved above his name and number. I still have this prized memento. I also received a photograph of Jock and his sister Margaret with the date, October 1940, on the reverse, which must have been taken on his last leave at home (above).
I was at a summer camp at Tangmere in 1936 as an Air Gunner with 602 City of Glasgow Squadron AAF. I became a Sgt./Pilot in 1937.
Sgt. David George Samuel Cox :
I first met Jock on Whittlesford Station waiting for transport to take us to Duxford. This was in early May 1940. there were two other pilots also joining 19, P/O Eric Burgoyne and P/O Sutherland. Of the four on the station that day, I am the only survivor.
Jock and I were the first pre-war VR Sergeant Pilots to join 19 Squadron. The result was that we were treated rather coldly by the other NCO Pilots who were all Regular with lots of service. This attitude resulted in drawing Jock and myself closer together. Incidentally he called me Ginge because of my rather golden hair.
The CO of 19 did not have much faith in the abilities of VR Sgt. Pilots and took us up in an elementary trainer, a Magister, before he let us fly a Spitfire.
I had no trouble flying the Spitfire and landing it. Poor Jock had trouble with the Spitfire from the start. In the first four weeks he damaged two with four landings. I think that if the CO at that time had not been shot down over Dunkirk Jock would have been posted away.
He never did like the Spitfire and in some ways I think he was more frightened of it than he was of the Luftwaffe !!
As I had the next bed to him I realised he lived in a state of fear. However in no way did this state of fear stop him engaging enemy aircraft. This is emphasised by the fact that on 16th August in an engagement with some Me110s off Harwich his Spitfire was badly damaged.
On 15th September 1940 he was hit in the engine by Me109s and had to crash land his aircraft.
Jock always said he had damaged four Spitfires, the two in landings in the first few weeks and the two in engagements with the enemy. And he said he had shot nothing down !
This I think was in his thinking when he had to land his Spitfire in November with the wheels down, instead of on its belly.
He was rather short, tubby, jet black hair and quite a dark complexion. Nothing really to look at - but a great favourite with the ladies. My wife, who joined me near Fowlmere, thought the world of him.
His pride and joy was a very, very old Austin Seven which he bought for a few pounds. I think he came from near Edinburgh or Glasgow.