Link Between 7 Squadron and Churchill

Research often turns up the strangest connections. I was looking for information about Frederick Denzil James Thompson, a PFF Navigator with DFC and Bar, who was the son of Churchill’s bodyguard, Detective Inspector Walter Henry Thompson.  Thompson senior had a distinguished career, first acting as bodyguard to Lloyd George, and then later to Churchill almost continuously from 1921 to 1945. I had heard that Frederick Thompson the son, had lost his life, flying on PFF operations.

One very good source of information is the London Gazette, and finding the entry on Frederick Thompson’s award of the Bar to his DFC, I also found a full account of the incident in which this was awarded. The aircraft was from 7 Squadron, based at Oakington. It was piloted by none other than the legendary Hamish Mahaddie, and, very unusually, three awards were made for the same incident which occurred on 2 February 1943. The awards were made to Mahaddie, Frederick Thompson, and the flight engineer Charles Stewart.

london gazette, Feb 1943

LONDON GAZETTE, 26 February 1943

The ORB for 7 Squadron notes that these awards were made for bringing back:

“a very badly damaged aircraft under hazardous conditions.”

Sadly, Frederick Thompson and Charles Stewart were killed only one month later, on 12 March, not long after the publication of their awards in the London Gazette, They were flying with another pilot, Squadron Leader Michael Edward Thwaites.

Mahaddie, of course, survived the war and all its terrible hazards for Pathfinder crews.

Churchill is known to have sent a telegram of condolence to Frederick’s father, who was in hospital suffering from an accidental gunshot wound. For further details of this see the fine Winston Churchill site: WINSTON CHURCHILL.ORG.

For our own long-standing page of Churchill, at Oakington, taken from grainy wartime footage, see Churchill at Oakington, 1942

JENNIE MACK GRAY  with thanks to Marion Filmer for initial information about Frederick Thompson