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Warrant Officer D. Poulton, 778652, RAF - KIA (19 sorties)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awards and Decorations

 

Squadron and Movements

255 Squadron RAF

Personal History 

Warrant Officer Dennis. Poulton 778652 RAF, was a Radar Operator/Observer who flew in Bristol Beaufighter NIGHT FIGHTERS providing night air cover of Italy during the Second World War.  He was attached to 255 Squadron RAF.  He was killed in action at age 30  along with his pilot Flight Sergeant J. Luckhurst on January 1, 1944.

Poulton and his pilot Flight Sergeant J. Luckhurst were both posted  to 255 Squadron on 28 July 1943 from 1 BPD Base Personnel depot at La Sebala.  They flew together on all operational sorties.

255 Squadron – Fighter Command Royal Air Force

255 Squadron was reformed in 1940 as a night fighter squadron at Kirton in Lindsey, Lincolnshire.  The squadron was later to serve in Italy where Warrant Officer Poulton flew on operations as navigator and radar operator.  Research into the Squadron operational records provided details of his active service which was night defensive cover over the mainland of Italy.  Poulton flew during these operations in a Bristol Beaufighter specially equipped with radar.

Poulton was a Radar Operator on the Beaufighter.   Radar, especially on aircraft, was very TOP SECRET during the war period.  It was so secretive that even the brevets (half wings cloth insignias) worn by these early airborne radar operators read "RO" to deceive the public into thinking they were simply radio operators. As some of you might know already know, there was already a designated half wing for Radiomen... "S" for Signaller.  The real meaning of this patch was Radar Observer/Operator. 

When reading the operational reports (excerpt below) it becomes obvious the hit and miss nature of the fledgling radar technology.  Several sorties made contacts with allied Wellington bombers and in one sorties contact was made with a Wellington and the aircraft intercepted to 1000 feet.

Flying during the hours of darkness and intercepting aircraft based on early radar was extremely hazardous.  Many radar aircraft crashed because of the nature of the aggressive flying required: intercepts, darkness, low level and fast speeds.

Engine Failure on Night Sortie

W/O Poulton was flying as right seater to pilot F/Sgt. J. Luckhurst on the night of Jan. 8th 1944 from the Allied occupied airfield at Pomigliano.  At 2324 hours while on night patrol one of the Beaufighter's engines failed. The crew apparently attempted to feather the propeller but due to catastrophic oil loss the prop would not cycle to feather. This event caused an excessive amount of drag and coupled with the loss of the engine they crashed near Alberobello, and both men were killed.

The two men were buried in Taranto Cemetary in Italy.

I have transcribed the notes from W/O Poultons flying log below.

 

DATE

NOTES

20-21 August 1943

Patrol intercepted and chased friendly aircraft to 1000 ft

24 August 1943

Patrol uneventful

24-25 August 1943

Patrol uneventful

30-31 August 1943

Patrol – one chase made but no contact

01-02 September 1943

Defence patrol Wellington aircraft intercepted

03-04 September 1943

Wellington aircraft intercepted

05-06 September 1943

Patrol uneventful

08-09 October 1943

Patrol to Uschia area, no contact, but large fire observed on hospital ship 40 mile north of Ustica

08-09 October 1943

Patrol uneventful in Naples area

14-15 October 1943

Patrol uneventful in Naples area

18-19 October 1943

Calibration.  No intercept or chase

20-21 October 1943

Patrol uneventful

24-25 October 1943

Calibration

29-30 November 1943

Patrol uneventful

01-02 December 1943

Patrol Naples area under ATOM.  No activity

08-09 December 1943

Patrol Naples area under ATOM.  No activity

05-06 January 1944

Patrol Naples area under ATOM.  No activity

08-09 January 1944

Crashed at 23:24 near Alberobello.  One engine failed, propellers would not feather owning to loss of oil.  Both members of crew killed

10 January 1944

Flt. Sgt. Luckhurst and W/O Poulton buried at Taranto Military Cemetery located in Italy

 

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