Request from a reader

Does anyone have a picture of P/O Hank Duval?  He escaped from France with my father in 1941, and also the daughter of S/L Campbell whom I know would like to see a picture.  Her father and Duval were in an aircraft collision in which Hank was killed.

Thank you

Hank Duval is on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.

In memory of
Flight Lieutenant
Henry Percy Harry Duval
who died on April 27, 1942

Military Service:

Service Number: 63092
Age: 30
Force:Air Force
Unit:Royal Air Force
Division:403 (R.C.A.F.)

Additional Information:

Son of Robert Meggison and Helen Duval; husband of Eileen Madeleine Duval.

Cemetery: ETAPLES MILITARY CEMETERY; Pas de Calais, France
Grave Reference:46. D. 4.
We find him in the ORBs for 1942
ExcerptsSunday, 19 April, 1942

Weather, a very heavy ground haze with winds from the NE at 5 to 15 mph.  The Squadron did four convoy patrols.  P/O Parr reports 30 ships southbound off Harwich, accompanied by 3 Destroyers and 4 Corvettes.  The convoy was passed by a northbound convoy.  Parr saw a blaze around an oil tanker in the northbound convoy.  He investigated and saw oil on the water and the tanker, apparently okay, in escort with a Destroyer.  Yellow and White Sections got airborne on a scramble to patrol a convoy at 1430 hours, taking only two minutes to get into the air from the time the hooter blew. F/L Duval (Hank) joined the Squadron today to take over ‘A’ Flight, coming from 222 Squadron.  The boys had a party at the ‘Thatch’ where they ran into a party of one young lady and three men who were celebrating a brother missing in air operations in the Mediterranean.

Sunday, 26 April, 1942

F/O MacKay went on an IO course of three weeks duration.  403 Squadron was briefed to act as support wing to six Bostons who were to bomb a target at St. Omer.  Weather, slight ground haze at North Weald with a heavy haze at the target area.  Clouds were at 26,000 feet over the French Coast to 10 miles West of St. Omer.
Briefing  North Weald, with 403 Squadron at 26,000 feet, 222 Squadron at 27,000 feet and 121 Squadron at 28,000 was told to rendezvous with the Debden Wing at Chatham, who were to be between 22,000 – 25,000 feet.  We were to leave the rendezvous at 1002 hours, cross the French Coast at Dunkirk at 1024 hours and sweep south to Cassel then join up with the bombers and come out at Gravelines at 1035 hours.  The six Bostons were to rendezvous at Graves End with the Hornchurch Wing who were to be close escort at 14,000 – 16,000 feet, Biggin Hill as escort cover at 17,000 – 21,000 feet and Kenley as top cover at 22,000 – 26,000 feet.  All were to leave Gravesend at 1000 hours, cross the French Coast East of Gravelines at 1023 hours, turn right to the target at St. Omer at 1031 hours and come out West of Calais at 1036 hours.  Action  S/L Campbell DFC reports that we crossed the French Coast North of Dunkirk at 1024 hours, turned right and swept within 8 miles of St. Omer then received word from Ops informing us that the bombers had just turned right off of the target.  We turned right and swept and did a complete orbit just West of St. Omer falling in behind the beehive.  Fourteen enemy aircraft smoke trails were seen coming from the East and catching up to the beehive at St. Omer.  These aircraft followed us out to the French Coast but did not attack.  The Circus came out at Gravelines at 1040 hours.  Halfway across the Channel, the Wing did a complete orbit to pick up stragglers and made landfall at Deal at 1050 hours.  Marker flak was seen at Calais when we were coming out, bursting at 18,000 feet.  All aircraft landed undamaged at North Weald.  Those taking part in this action were:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section

P/O Rainville    W/C Pike    F/L Duval
Sgt Johnson    P/O Hoben    F/S Messum
P/O Somers    S/L Campbell    P/O Parr
F/S Walker    F/S Aitken    W/O Campbell

Monday, 27 April, 1942

The Squadron was released from Ops until 1000 hours when we were placed on 30 minutes.  At 1010 hours, the Squadron got airborne on Squadron formation practice, landing at 1120 hours.  A briefing at 222 Squadron Dispersal was held at 1145 hours.  403 had only eleven aircraft for this sweep as two of ‘B’ Flights aircraft have to be cannon tested and it could not be done in time for the show.  403 Squadron was part of the close escort wing to six Bostons going in on a target at Ostend. The weather for the circus had heavy haze over the Belgian Coast and 2/10ths cloud at about 10,000 feet.

Briefing  North Weald Wing, with 403 Squadron at 12,000 feet, 222 Squadron at 13,000 feet and 121 Squadron at 14,000 feet were to rendezvous with the six Bostons over Bradwell bay at 1400 hours at 5,000 feet.  No 12 Group acted as escort cover, stepped up from 15,000 – 18,000 feet.  The Circus was to fly over Ostend and bomb on a right hand turn at 1426 hours, then proceed to Harwich.

Action  S/L Campbell DFC reports that the operation proceeded according to plan but the bombing was four to five minutes late owing to the bombers arriving late at the rendezvous.  Exceptionally heavy flak was encountered over the target and several of the pilots saw the bomber on the port side of the leading section receive a direct hit from the first salvo.  This bomber dropped its load, and turned away.  It turned again, crossing the coast and was last seen low down, heading for an aerodrome behind Ostend as though it were about to make a crash landing.  Two other bombers turned sharply as though in trouble and were escorted safely over the English Coast at Harwich by 403 Squadron.  No enemy aircraft were seen and all of our aircraft returned safely to base by 1518 hours.  Those taking part in this action were:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section

P/O Rainville    S/L Campbell    F/L Duval
Sgt Johnson    P/O Magwood    F/S Messum
P/O Somers    F/S Aitken    P/O Parr
F/S Walker        W/O Campbell

At 1549 hours, ‘B’ Flight was put on readiness and ‘A’ Flight at 15 minutes.  Ops called at 1701 hours, informing us that a briefing would take place between 1800 and 1830 hours.  At 1726 hours the Squadron was ordered at readiness at once and pushed buttons at 1740 hours.  At 1743 hours, with two aircraft just taking-off, Ops called again and said that the Circus was postponed for 30 minutes.  The W/C sent all aircraft back to their bays.  F/L Duval, while taxiing along the perimeter let his control go forward and the wind, which was very strong at the time, tipped F/L Duval up on his nose.  P/O Hurst says that it was the same thing that happened to him at Hawkinge on 26/4/42.  F/L Duval took over F/S Olmsted’s aircraft in place if his, much to F/S Olmsted’s dislike.  403 Squadron was airborne with the Wing at 1813 hours with only eleven aircraft again to carry out a Rodeo (Fighter Sweep) with 12 Group Wing.  Weather was 10/10ths cloud at 23,000 and a broken layer of 5/10ths cloud at 10,000 feet.

Briefing  the North Weald Wing was to rendezvous at Southend at 10,000 feet with 12 Group Wing.  We then were to proceed on course climbing until the two Wings were stepped up from 20,000 feet to 25,000 feet and then sweep Mardyck, St. Omer and then come out between Hardelot and Le Touquet.  In the absence of any enemy activity the Wings were then to proceed at the discretion of the Wing Commanders.

Action  This followed the briefing plan except that the top cloud prevented the North Weald Wing form climbing as high as intended.  121 Squadron was just below the cloud at 22,000 feet, 403 Squadron was at 21,000 feet and 22 Squadron at 20,000 feet with 12 Group Wing below.  No enemy aircraft were encountered but heavy flak was experienced over Dunkirk, Mardyck area. At 1850 hours, just South of Le Touquet, F/L Duval, who was leading Yellow Section on the port side of the Squadron, was seen to turn sharply to the right and collide violently with the aircraft in which S/L Campbell DFC was leading Red Section.  S/L Campbell’s aircraft lost the greater part of his port wing and he was seen to roll over on his back and go down out of control just inland.  F/L Duval’s machine, which was streaming glycol, was seen to go straight down and crash about a half-mile off shore without the pilot bailing out.  P/O Smith, of 121 Squadron, reports seeing a parachute at 5,000 feet inland from Le Touquet and it is hoped that this was S/L Campbell.  When the collision occurred, there was a Squadron of Spitfires heading straight for the Wing at the same height, causing some of our pilots to dive down to avoid hitting them.  P/O Rainville, who was leading Blue Section to the starboard of the CO, reports that he saw a column of black smoke coming from F/L Duval’s machine just before the collision.  The remaining nine aircraft of the Squadron landed at North Weald by 2005 hours, F/S Messum having to refuel at West Mallings.  Those taking part in this action were:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section

P/O Rainville    S/L Campbell    F/L Duval
Sgt Johnson    P/O Magwood    F/S Messum
P/O Somers    P/O Hoben    P/O Parr
F/S Walker        W/O Campbell

The Squadron was released at 2200 hours.  This completes another poor show for 403 and a very great loss to us all.

From the evidence we have, the chances are good that S/L C.N.S. Campbell DFC is alive and time alone will tell whether or not he can make his way back to England to carry on.  If it is possible to get out of France, he will do it.  He has already done more than his part for the War effort and, since he had been in command of the Squadron, has taken part in every sweep but one.  During the past two months, he only took one day off, so untiring were his efforts to lick the Squadron into shape.  From the reports he gave upon his return to the drome from operational sweeps, one can judge how observant he was in action.  The efficiency of the Squadron’s ground operations speaks for itself; his administrative ability was excellent.  Joining the RAF before the war, he fought in France as a pilot in one of the original fighter squadrons and, upon his return to England, was variously employed as an instructor and fighter pilot.  His experience was of inestimable benefit to this newly formed, all Canadian Squadron which he was given command of in March 1941.

F/L ‘Hank’ Duval came from Eastern Canada and graduated from University as a mining engineer.  He rose in his profession to the responsible position of mine Superintendent at the East-Malartee Gold Mine, one of Canada’s newer large tonnage producers.  ‘Hank’ was one of the first Canadians to fly with the RAF.  On one trip over France, he was shot down and baled out, making his escape back to England.  He married an English girl while over here.  Hank was a tall, dark chap, very quiet spoken and unassuming, the type of Canadian we like to call ‘Canadian’ and was the type that Canada will need after the war is over.

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Request from a reader

  1. I will send some photos directly to Pierre, directly by e-mail, over the next few minutes, but I wanted to emphasize: I took these photos when I visited Squadron Leader Campbell’s widow in 2004-2005. I also wanted to highlight that Squadron Leader Campbell’s widow was Hank Duval’s widow. When Hank Duval and Ken Campbell collided, Duval died and left behind a widow. Campbell crashed and was captured prisoner and spent three years incarcerated. When he returned at the end of the war, the first thing he did was visit Duval’s widow, and then he proposed to her. They lived happily ever after.

    • According to an entry in McGill University (Montreal), Duval graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering in the Class of 1934. We can probably find a photograph of him from their yearbooks

      DUVAL, HENRY PERCY
      FLT. LT., RAF
      42-04-27, European Theatre
      B.Eng.’34

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s