JUNE 6th, 1944. Reflections on John Houlton of RAF 485 (NZ) Squadron.
Every year on June 6th, I think of a chap who worked for the same aerial agricultural aviation company as I did back in the early 1960s; Thames Aerial Topdressing Co. (TATCO). We flew overloaded Fletcher FU-24s off small hill-country airstrips in New Zealand's North Island. The FU-24 was a rather different machine to the agile Spitfire Mk.IXs that 485 Squadron operated during the summer of 1944. During his second patrol over the Normandy beaches on "D" Day, John destroyed a Junkers Ju-88, which, to the best of my knowledge, was the first Luftwaffe aircraft downed during the invasion of Europe. Flying with John was a great chum of John and myself, the late Frank Transom. The attached photograph shows John (on right) enjoying a jovial ale with our boss Fred Sawyer, the founder of TATCO. Fred was RNZAF and got onto Mosquitos in Canada but did not make it to the UK as WWII ended in Europe. John and Fred and Frank have gone now, but I think of them often as they were great chaps.....I hope there may be still someone in Merrie England who remembers John and Frank?