Pilot Officer Albert Hugo FRIDAY (No 119493) RAF Volunteer Reserve

 

Born in 1922 in Mile End, London to Bethold Leonard Friday and Ruby Friday (nee Chard).

Joined 611 (West Lancashire) Squadron at RAF Kenley, Surrey around July 1942 and moved with the Squadron to RAF Redhill, Surrey.

His first Operational sortie was on 21 July 42 in a Scramble from Redhill to patrol Beachy Head from 05.15 to 06.55, nothing sighted.

Further operational sorties comprised:

6 Aug 42 Sweep of Le Harve at 20,000 ft 06.20 to 07.40 ‘A high shipping recce from Fecamp to LeHarve and Cherbourg then home – nothing to report’.

10 Aug 42 Patrol operating from Friston, Sussex for the day.

17 Aug 42 Bomber escort to Rouen Rendezvous at Beachy Head with 12 Fortresses with three other squadrons for escort to Rouen. The marshalling yards were hit from 23,000 ft but ‘Never came to grips with the Huns, who fought shy of us when they saw our height’.

19 Aug 42 DIEPPE ATTACK Top cover for 24 American B-17 Fortresses bombing Abbeville aerodrome, Northern France.

19 Aug 42 Patrol over Dieppe at 20,000 ft.

20 Aug 42 Top cover for 12 Fortresses to Amiens in. Rendezvoused at Beachy Head at 23,000 ft; ‘It was bitterly cold and flew top cover of four squadrons at 31,000 ft; little enemy activity and returned to Redhill. This operation involved 39 squadrons and must have shaken the Hun after his loses yesterday’.

21 Aug 42 Bomber escort of Fortresses. Operation cancelled as Fortresses were due to go to Rotterdam but were late and the escort had used so much fuel they had to return after having gone about 10 miles out to sea.

22 Aug 42 Patrol. Based at Friston this day with three others from 611 for advanced readiness.

23 Aug 42 Scramble Selsey Bill operation from Friston during the day.

24 Aug 42 Escort for 12 Fortresses to LeTrait, France. Log states ‘bombing rather scrappy and scattered. There was a fair amount of enemy re-action which we kept fairly quiet as top cover flying at 31,000 ft. It was quite cold at height today’.

30 Aug 42 Scramble to Maidstone in Spitfire Mk IX BS 185; took of 14.15 ‘Disintegrated in flight near West Malling pilot killed’ The Official diary reads he took off from Redhill as Red 2 with Plt Off Graham (Red 1). They intercepted a JU88 which was doing a high ‘recce’ over the Thames area, but could not get the necessary height to engage the enemy – the Red 2 pilot, Pilot Officer FRIDAY was killed when his aircraft broke up at 20,000 ft and he was hit baling out probably by his own aircraft. The matter is being investigated by AIB Officials.

He was buried with full military honours at Brookwood Military Cemetery, near Woking, Grave Reference 22 A 6 Aged 22.

The crash was observed by Wally Mankelow who remembers:

‘I lived in Herne Bay and when I was eleven years old and I was on my way to Sunday School at about 2.50 pm; I heard an explosion and on looking up I saw parts of an aeroplane coming down and a parachute descending very fast. The aeroplane was scattered in various places in Herne Bay and the pilot landed in a tree at Blacksole Bridge. The pilot died from a fractured pelvis and a dislocated neck.’

Wally, now lives at 20 St Annes Drive, Herne Bay and since then has researched the crash and campaigned for a plaque to commemorate the death and today is the successful culmination of those efforts.

The plaque was commissioned by Herne Bay Town Partners (Peter Goodwin Chair, Joanna Verrico Vice Chair; Chris West, Coastal Towns Manager, 01227 742765; e-mail ) and forms part of the Herne Bay Cultural Trail. The memorial was designed and the artwork undertaken by Roger and James Casement at Casement Sign & Graphics at Unit 1, Nursery Industrial Estate, Sea St, Herne Bay CT6 8LB e-mail: It was unveiled by Gabriel Davies, Sheriff of Canterbury helped by Wally Mankelow and Aldon Ferguson, on Thursday 27 August 2009 at Blacksole Bridge, Margate Road, Hearne Bay, the spot where the aircraft crashed and Plt Off A H Friday died. Herne Bay British Legion provided an honour guard with three standards; prayers were said and wreathes laid. The ceremony was covered by BBC TV South East.

Wally was helped in his research by Aldon Ferguson from Wargrave in Berkshire who is the Historian and Archivist for 611 (West Lancashire) Fighter Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force.

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