Flt/Lt Ralph Van den Bok joined 214 from 31 Base on 1 November 1944.
His first operation was on 25 November 1944.
He was promoted to Acting Squadron Leader on 15 January 1945.
His final operation with 214 Squadron was on 2 May 1945.
Fortress Ops flown * 17 Actual operational take-offs. Does not disregard aborted ops, early returns etc.
It was Murray Peden, as instructor, who "checked out" Ralph on the Fortresses.
His career is well recorded in various London Gazette issues as follows:
THE LONDON GAZETTE, 27 AUGUST, 1940
The under mentioned is granted a commission for the duration of hostilities as Acting Pilot Officer on probation:
26 July 1940.
Ralph VAN DEN BOK (83004).
THE LONDON GAZETTE, 4 JULY, 1941
Acting Pilot Officer on probation Ralph VAN DEN BOK (83004) is graded as Pilot Officer on probation. 26th August 1940.
THE LONDON GAZETTE, 29 AUGUST, 1941
The under mentioned Pilot Officer on probation
is confirmed in his appointment from 26th July 1941 and promoted to the war substantive rank of Flying Officer as from 26th August 1941:
Ralph VAN DEN BOK (83004).
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 4 AUGUST, 1942
Distinguished Flying Cross.
Flying .Officer Ralph VAN DEN BOK (83004), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 408 (R.C A.F) Squadron.
(for an attack on the German ship "Scharnhorst",Source = Roger Mills)
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 16 OCTOBER, 1942
Flying Officer to be Flight Lieutenant (war subs.):
26 August 1942.
R. VAN DEN BOK (83004).
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE TUESDAY, 24 NOVEMBER, 1942
Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross.
Flight Lieutenant Ralph Van den BOK, D.F.C. (83004), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No.408 (R.C.A.F.) Squadron
Distinguished Flying Cross.
Acting Flight Lieutenant Gordon Clayton FISHER (Can/5.4690), Royal Canadian Air Force, No. 408 (R.C.A.F.) Squadron.
On 29 August, 1942, Flight Lieutenant Van den Bok and Flight Lieutenant Fisher were wireless operator/air gunner and navigator respectively of a Hampden AE 197 detailed to attack Saarbrucken. On the return flight the bomber was shot down by night-fighter "Ace" Wilhelm Herget, over Belgium. The pilot, Wing Commander Twigg and one other crew member were killed. Flight Lieutenant Van den Bok, who was wounded in the leg by a piece of shrapnel, baled out and was brought back to England by the Belgian escape line "Comete". Acting Flight Lieutenant Gordon Fisher baled out and found his way to Marseilles, presumably with help (!) where he was taken over by the Pat Line and returned to England via "Operation Titania". Both displayed outstanding courage, determination and fortitude. Both have completed many sorties and have invariably displayed similar qualities.
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 26 OCTOBER, 1945
Second Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross
Acting Squadron Leader
Ralph VAN DEN BOK, D.F.C. (83004), R.A.F.V.R.,
From "Flight" Magazine, 27 December 1945
" This officer has a distinguished record of operational flying. His enthusiasm for operational flying was not diminished by his experiences in evading capture after being shot down by anti-aircraft fire whilst over occupied Belgian during his first tour of duty. Since the award of a Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross, Squadron Leader Van Den Bok has flown on many sorties, against strongly defended targets in Germany, including Berlin. He is an excellent Captain of Aircraft and Flight Commander, who has at all times set an inspiring example by his enthusiasm,courage, and devotion to duty. "
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE TUESDAY, 14 OCTOBER, 1947
Appointment to commission as Flight Lieutenant, -extended service (four years
on the active list)*:
Ralph VAN DEN BOK, D.F.C. (83004) 1 May 1947 (seniority 1 January 1943)
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 14 JUNE, 1949
Extension of service:
The period of service on the active list of the under mentioned is extended to eight years with effect from the date stated:
R. VAN DEN BOK, D.F.C. (83004). 1st May 1947.
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE TUESDAY, 19 SEPTEMBER, 1950
See 14th June 1949 concerning R. VAN DEN BOK, D.F.C. (83004).
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 29 MAY, 1951
Transfer to reserve.
Flight Lieutenant R. VAN DEN BOK, D.F.C. (83004), retaining the rank of Squadron Leader. 1 May 1951.
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 2 MAY, 1955
Flight Lieutenant R. VAN DEN BOK, D.F.C. (83004).
After post war service Ralph worked for Standard Oil (Esso). He was a victim of the Lewisham Rail Disaster in December 1957, sustaining severe facial injuries and, following gangrene, a leg amputation.
He died on 1 June 1973 at Whiteparish, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England.
Roger Mills has copies of his Log book.
Source : Adrian Van Den Bok (son) and Roger Mills (son of John Tudor Mills) and Ian Hunt and London Gazette and Escapeline Organisation and Flight Magazine and Ian Hunt
Two tour veteran first serving with 214 Squadron from 18 August 1941 to 19 February 1942.
St Huberts Canada November 1940 to December1940
Graduated #6 (#4 ?) B&G Fingal Canada - 3 January 1941 to 19 January 1941
Shipped to England
20OTU Lossiemouth - 16 May 1941 to 5 August 1941
214 Squadron - 18 August 1941 to 23 October 1941
Fg/Off Venner joined 214 Squadron at Stradishall with his first flight 18 August 1941 in a Wellington, serial G-1621 with Pilot Plt/Off Woods. He flew 13 operations over Germany with 214 Squadron, his primary pilots being Sgt Wilson and Plt/Off Wood.
No 3 GTF Newmarket (Group Training Flight) 4 November1941 to 9 November 1941
214 Squadron 11 November 1941. His last flight with 214 was on 19 February 1942.
He was then posted to 215 Squadron 23 March 1942 to 28 June 1943.
On 1 April 1942 he flew out in Wellington M-BB510 by way of Malta to PANDAVESWAR INDIA then on to ASANSOL India on 17 April 1942 and finally to St Thomas Mount Madras in August.
On his second tour he was posted back in England 9 February 1945.
1666 Conversion Unit, Wombleton Yorks 14 January 1945 to 14 February 1945, then to 431 Squadron in Croft Yorkshire in Lancaster X.
On the 25 April 1945 Fg/Off Venner was "Screened 2nd Tour, Total 48 Trips".
Target Token awarded for exceptional accuracy to Fg/Off Venner when he was with 431 Squadron Leipzig 30 February 1945.
LOG BOOK ENTRIES
Pilots noted in his Log Book are Plt/Off Hayes, Sgt Wilson (quite a few trips), Plt/Off Leech, Sgt Minikken, Sgt Birch, Fg/Off Allen, Sqn/Ldr Hamilton, Wg/Cdr McFadden, Sqn/Ldr Garr Sgt Klassen, Sgt Smith, Sgt Enright.
Joined 214 Squadron at Stradishall, first flight 18 August 1941 in a Wellington, R1621 BU-G with a Pilot Plt/Off Woods. His last Flight with 214 Squadron was on 9 February 1942 A/C serial Z8842 with Sgt Enright and Sgt Smith.
The next entry in his log 23 March 1942 is in a Wellinton M-BB51O, with Wg/Cdr Warrington and Sgt Enright, (215 Sqdn PANDAVESWAR INDIA is written on top of the page). In all there are four entries with Wg/Cdr Warrington and Enright in England.
Then on 1 April 1942 at 05:30 in Wellinton M-BB510 they depart the UK to GIBRALTAR. On 2 April 1942 is written GIBRALTAR-MALTA. They arrive at ASANSOL India 17 April 1942 (they seem to have been stuck at MALTA from the 3rd until the 11th). Last entry in India is on 28 June 1943.
The next entry is dated 14 January 1945 at 1666 CONVERSION UNIT, WAMBBLETON. The final group of entry's start 9 February 1945 with 431 SQDN CROFT YORKSHIRE, in Lancaster X. The very last entry is 25 April 1945 with the entry "Screened 2nd Tour, Total 48 Trips".
THE 215 - 214 SQUADRON CONNECTION
It is little known, but the nucleus of the recently re-forming 215 Squadron destined for the Middle East, was to a large extent, staffed by experienced crews pulled away from 214 Squadron. It is believed that Fg/Off Venner was among the first crews to cross over to the 215, but research shows that the 215 continued to rob crews from 214 Squadron for sometime after this date.
Fg/Off Venner's son, Liam comments on how his mother and father met during the war........
"My Dad told me that the only reason they got out of Gibraltar was because he was in the CO's aircraft. Frankly my Dad never told his children very much about his Service. I do have a service record that I retrieved form the Gov't two years ago. It was my Mother who provided some information, mostly generic things about the war. She did mention about how they met. She was a Nurse in Coventry and my Dad and a buddy came looking for some nurses for a dance. The Nurse in charge was a little "old school', other than this particular incident she always spoke very kindly of her. Anyway, I guess my dad was still Sergeant and the Matron told them that "Her Nurses" only went out with Officers. My Mother had a friend who had two or three brothers in the Army, one had been killed at Dunkirk and the others were out there somewhere, she didn't think this was right so she went to the Mess dance in defiance and the rest as they say is history. My Dad finished one tour and came back to Canada and went back for a second to retrieve his Irish Lass."
Sgt Ventham had been on a flight test that day with the crew. When they got back they were given a lift back from the aircraft on the fire truck and Sgt Ventham fell off, struck his head and was killed.
The Squadron ORB notes that Sgt Ventham was killed on active duty on 09 December 1942.
His sister kindly donated a wreath each year to be laid on Remembrance Sunday in memory of her brother. Sadly she died in 2008.
He was a regular crew member with Flight Lieutenant William Jack Humphries.
Source : Stuart Disbrey and Roy Sales and CWGC and Jock Whitehouse and 214 Squadron ORB and Ross Humphries
Date record last updated : 25 January 2015
Sqn/Ldr John Verrall DFC, Pilot, Royal New Zealand Air Force, Nationality : New Zealand
Flew as 2nd pilot with Jack Dixon on May 18th and 26th 1943 - Bombing and Fighter Affiliation.
See Crew ??Dixon for more information.
Ben Verrall writes :
"My father was at 214 FMS at Chedburgh from 13 March 1943 to 20 September 1943 as a pilot on Stirlings. Shortly afterwards he was awarded the DFC. The citation for this, which I have never seen, was recalled by my father as "For the continued penetration of the most heavily defended enemy targets". As such it is as much a decoration for his crews as for himself. His log-book has date, target, flight time and result for all 30 of the Ops flown during his tour, together with other Bullseye etc flights. Although 2nd Pilot is usually named, I have no names for crew, so would be pleased to hear from any of them who would like any information from the log-book."
"I also have a copy of the publication (1979) The Stirling File, in which my father has annotated the record of each airframe serial number record of a Stirling that he flew with a reference to his flying time on it."
"My father, initially serving as an officer in the RNZAF, was recalled into service in the RAF shortly after de-mobilisation. He continued a flying career that spanned from the Tiger Moth to the Canberra bomber. His last flight as a pilot in the RAF was on July 5th 1954 in a Harvard at CFS Little Rissington where he was an instructor. He then transferred to ATC and his tour ex was in the 1970's as SATCO at RAF Northholt.
He retired as a Sqn. Ldr. He died of natural causes at the age of 66 in the late 80's. His wife, my mother, survives him and we remain a close knit family. His other child, my sister, married a young F.O. many years ago who has recently retired as a Wg. Cmdr. so the family has remained with a sense of being "an RAF family" for many years."
Ben Verrall has his medals and log-books.
Source : John Jewsbury (son of R F Jewsbury) and Ben Verrall (son)
Date record last updated : 1 January 2010
VINALL, J W
Studio portrait is by Marjorie Baker courtesy of Henfield Village Museum and Henfield Cricket Club
Fg/Off James William Vinall DFM MiD(twice), Non Com 747157 Com 169518, Flight Engineer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Nationality : United Kingdom, KIA 17 March 1945, Aged 40, Date taken POW 15 March 1945, POW number Unknown
Named on the following Memorial : Henfield Village Memorial
Named on the following Memorial : Huchenfeld Church, SW Germany
Named on the following Memorial : Llanbedr Church, North Wales
Named on the following Memorial : RAFA Ely Cambs Branch Memorial Rose Garden
Born in Henfield, Wesr Sussex, England.
The RAFA Ely Cambs Branch Memorial Rose Garden is situated at what used to be the RAF Hospital, which is now the NHS Princess of Wales Hospital. Tom Tate attended the dedication ceremony which was held in 1999.
Before serving with 214 Squadron Flying Officer Vinall was with 9 Squadron in 1943.
In September 1943 Vinall is mentioned when awarded his DFM in the 9 Squadron ORB.
After baling out of the aircraft he was kept in Buhl prison before being transferred by foot into Luftwaffe custody on 17 March 1945. Upon reaching Huchenfeld he was locked into the boiler room of the Neuen Schule (New School) along with 6 others of his crew. A crowd of civilians demanded access to the 7 men, demanding revenge , and dragged them outside Vinall and 2 other men escaped to be recaptured. Four others were taken to the cemetery and shot.
Vinall and Bradley took the opportunity to hide between a wall and a car, escaping using the shadows. Unfortunately Vinall went in the wrong direction and was recaptured the next day and was locked up at the police station at Dillstein. While Vinall was being released into the custody of Kreisstabfuhrer Niklas he was taken outside the police station and was beaten about the head with a heavy stick by Wilhelm Maxeiner, until he fell, when Hitler Youth Gert Biedermann shot him in the back of the head. He was buried with the other four airmen.
The graves at Huchenfield Germany. Flt/Lt Sidney C Matthews DFC., Fg/Off James Vinall, Fg/Off Harold Frost, Fg/Off Gordon Hall, FS Edward Percival
The French soldiers who had been the first of General Patten's army to enter the area had Inscribed each cross with simple but telling words: 'British airman, assassinated by the SA, 17/18 March 1945.'
Mentioned in Despatches recorded in the London Gazette Issue 37119 published on the 8 June 1945. Page 71 of 100.
Mentioned in Despatches recorded in the London Gazette Issue 37598 published on the 4 June 1946. Page 63 of 68.
Information from the Curator of the Henfield Museum is as follows :
'James's father was born in Henfield in the 1880s. James did not want to have children of his own because he did not want them undergo the racial taunts etc. which he had received. He was a good sportsman playing cricket and football for Henfield. James and his wife adopted three white children (2 girls and a boy Richard). One of the girls died very young. Richard married Eileen and the couple lived at Vinholme, London Road, Henfield, West Sussex, BN5 4JJ.'
CWGC and "Footprints on the sands of time" by Oliver Clutton-Brock and John and Carol Edwards (family connection to Flt/Lt Sidney C Matthews) and Reg Kemp (nephew of Harold Frost) and 9 Squadron ORB and Henfield Village Museum and Henfield Cricket Club
Date record last updated : 30 October 2020
VINT, A R
FS Alexander Robert Vint, 915640, Observer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Nationality : United Kingdom, KIA 1 April 1942