Bio / Text:
Roy Mottram Biography.
Roy Mottram was born on 28th March 1917 in Harlesden, Middlesex, the sixth child of seven, to parents Richard Henry (Harry) Mottram a commercial traveller in Sports Goods and Jane (Jennie) Wyke. In September 1924 Richard died, Jennie as a single parent of seven children moved the family to Shropshire (Jennie was from Shrewsbury). Jennie’s elder brother owned tea rooms at The Chalet Pavilion in the picturesque Carding Mill Valley in Church Stretton, Shropshire, now owned by the National Trust. The family moved into the Chalet and Jennie ran the tea rooms until the outbreak of war in 1939.
Roy was educated at the local school in Church Stretton and then went on to the Priory Grammar School for Boys in Shrewsbury.
(The school is now a sixth form college but Roy is remembered there on the Roll of on Honour above the main entrance)
After finishing school Roy went on to train as a dental technician at the local dental practice in Church Stretton, where Dennis, one of Roy’s elder brothers, 5 years older, already worked.
Reaching the age of 21 in 1938 Roy decided he wanted to join the RAF. This he did and joined on the 24th August 1939. Originally he was destined to begin his training at Aswan in Egypt, however war was looming and he headed to 3 E&RFTS Burnaston Hall, Derby., where he did his initial flying training (first solo on 13 Sep 1939) and gained his “Wings”.
On completion of his initial flying training (23 Oct 1939) he was given rank of Acting Pilot officer, fitted for his uniform and then on 4 Nov 1939 posted to 14 FTS RAF Kinloss on the Moray Firth in Scotland for Advanced Flying Training.
On 20th April 1940 Roy completed his flying training and was posted to 92 squadron (F) at Croydon with his fellow pilot from Derby and Kinloss P/O Cecil Henry (Sam) Saunders.
His first weeks were not without incident because on the 27th April 1940 he was required to perform a wheels up landing due to undercarriage problems,
A540 extract follows.
27.4.40 Fairly fine weather but bad visibility at first. Later general flying practise was possible. P/O Mottram, who had taken off at 1430 in a Spitfire noticed that his starboard wheel would not come up, nor would his port wheel go down. After getting into R/T touch with Runick, and through them with the C.O. who made various suggestions to P/O Mottram and after considerable time had elapsed, it was found possible to retract the starboard wheel and hold it up by constant pumping. At 1700 hours with the starboard wheel down about 45 degrees, P/O Mottram made a perfect “ventre-a-terre” landing before a large and enthusiastic audience, doing the minimum amount of damage under the circumstances and with only 10 gallons of petrol left.
Throughout May the new pilots to the squadron including Roy continued with their training while the more established pilots took to operations over the French coast because of the German advance around Dunkirk. Roy joined the fray on 28th May with his first offensive patrol Ostend - Dunkirk.
In June 1940 the squadron were moved out of the front line to Pembrey in South Wales.
Prior to the war Roy was in a relationship with a young lady, Sybil Tudge, who lived near the Shropshire Herefordshire border.
Throughout his time in the RAF Roy would visit any time he could. He would fly to a nearby airfield and she would travel to meet him.
However, while at Pembrey he befriended a young WAAF officer, Bunty Nash who was a “Cipher Queen” stationed at Pembrey. When three months later 92 were thrust back into the thick of it, moving to Biggin Hill, he corresponded with Bunty updating her on the progress of 92 and his fellow pilots. Extracts from one of these letters was used by Patrick Bishop in his excellent book “Fighter Boys” published in 2003.
Bunty had kept these letters from Roy and other pilots of 92 Sqn and donated them to the RAF museum at Hendon.
This prompted Bunty, now an 80 year old widow to contact him. He included details of his contact with Bunty as an appendix in the paper book reprint, where she tells of her special friendship with Roy and his invitation to her to attend a squadron party. 92 were famed for their partying.
The squadron move to Biggin Hill in early September saw 92 involved in the thick of the battle culminating with Roy being shot down on 18th September 1940. Roy sustained burns and he was hospitalized for 2 weeks, returning to action on 12th October 1940.
On 21st December 1940 fighter command issued orders to recommenced offensive fighter sweeps over enemy territory for the first time since Dunkirk and on 27th December 1940 Roy together with Alan Wright went on the first “Mosquito” patrol over northern France. A month later “Mosquito” was subsequently changed to “Rhubarb” to prevent confusion with the introduction of a new aircraft of that name.
Roy attained the rank of P/O on 20 April 1940, confirmed on 24 August 1940.
Roy attained the rank of F/O on 20 April 1941,
On 18th June 1941 Roy moved to 54 Squadron at Hornchurch as flight commander of ‘A’ Flight in the rank of Acting F/Lt.
The summer of 1941, with the increasing activity by fighter command on operations over Northern France and Belgium, Many experienced fighter pilots were lost and after over 16 months of continuous operations Roy was to be no exception.
On 31st August 1941 Roy did not return from a bomber escort operation to Lille in Nord France.
A540 (54 Squadron) extract for 31st August 1941 follows - (Hornchurch)
At one point, Roy Mottram is seen making a turn away towards some enemy aircraft. He became involved, but seemed able to cope with them. He was heard on the radio to say that he would spin out but he did not return, and so we lost lost one of the best flight commanders that any squadron would wish to have.
A540 (603 Squadron) extract for 31st August 1941 follows - (one of the other Squadrons based at Hornchurch)
F/Lt. Mottram of 54 Squadron was lost. He was last seen being pursued by six ME.109 E’s between Poperinge and the coast. The squadron were unable to catch up with the 109’s.
A540 (54 Squadron) extract for 23rd October 1941 follows - (Hornchurch)
Today news came that F/LT Roy Mottram was killed. This is a big disappointment for everyone hoped very much that this excellent friend might be safe.
An interview with an eye witness in recent years revealed that he was attacked by an enemy fighter, his plane entered a spin, a wing broke off and then crashed to the ground in the village of Neuf Berquin. Roy did not bail out.
The Germans took several days to excavate the site and Roy Mottram was finally laid to rest in the Communal Cemetery in nearby Merville on the 8th September 1941.
Adrian Mottram 2019
Ade Mottram “ My 40 year journey”
Growing up as a child, there was a photo of an airman on the mantelpiece in the front room. Uncle Roy, dad’s brother, he was killed in the war, shot down, a pilot with 92 squadron
In 1979 I was sat at home when my wife Jan, who was reading the Daily Telegraph Magazine, asked me, what was uncle Roy’s Squadron? It turned out that there was an article about Battle of Britain pilots ( it was mid-September) and there was a picture of 92 squadron including Roy. I couldn’t ask dad about it (he had died 2 years earlier) so I took it to show Uncle Eric on our next family visit. He was well chuffed!. He told me to go to the bureau in the front room and fetch a book out. The book turned out to be Roy’s Pilots log book, folded up in the back was Roy’s Commision. Then out came Roy’s own photograph album, so there it was, the inspiration to find out more about Roy’s war.
Visits to the Public Records Office at Kew. Squadron records, combat reports. in 1983 I took the logbook to the RAF museum at Hendon to be copied onto microfilm. I visited the Imperial War Museum in search of more photos. The visit to the RAF museum meant they had my contact details for returning the logbook so about 10 years ago the museum contacted me on behalf of a publisher for permission to publish a letter Roy had sent to a young WAAF officer. She had deposited a collection of letters sent to her after 92 sqdn had transferred from Pembrey to Biggin Hill in September 1940.
But, what had happened to Roy. The family new that he had been shot down and was buried at Merville in North France near the city of Lille.
I visited the grave in 1982, cousin Jane also in 1982, my brother Keith, over from Canada, in 2015. But where did he die? what happened to him. In 1983 I wrote to the International Red Cross, they say he had died at Neuf Besuin on 31st of August and buried on 8th September at the CWGC cemetery in Merville.
I could not find Neuf Besuin but Neuf-Berquin was near Merville, was it there.
Over the years searching for Roy Mottram RAF on the internet has thrown up many and varying results (including one of his ghost haunting the RAF chapel at Biggin Hill!
then this summer (2019) “Eureka”.
A search found a 2005 blog where this was posted
“I’m looking for details about Flight Lieutenant Roy MOTTRAM, 42870, killed in action on 31 August 1941 and buried in Merville, France. He was then a Flight commander with No. 54 Squadron since mid June 1941, and had previously served with No. 92 Squadron.”
This was posted by a French aircrash enthusiast who lives in the area between Merville and Lille who was able to confirm the crash site and from eye witness accounts, an idea as to the events leading up to the crash.
The following entry are narrative extracts from Roy Mottram’s Combat reports.
Combat report 25th July 1940 16:20 hours. Roy Mottram 92 Squadron 10 miles east of Fishguard,
attack on Junkers 88
“First Hun” ( Roy’s annotation to the event in his Flying Logbook)
I was Blue 3 and ordered to patrol Tenby. Aircraft was sighted at 20,000 feet when patrol was at 11000 feet. We climbed in pursuit and enemy disappeared in cloud, it left a thin trail of exhaust which helped us follow. It emerged from the cloud after one minute and we caught it 10 miles inland of Fishguard.I went 500 yards abreast of port wing and turned in on a beam attack from 200 feet above. I opened fire at 200 yards and finished in an astern attack at 80 yards, during this attack I gave three bursts of 4 3 and 2 seconds.
Aircraft had then turned from a N. E course to W and disappeared in cloud. I followed a trail of black smoke and delivered another beam attack of 2 seconds from the port side. The rear gun was pointing in port direction but no fire was observed. I then did another beam attack (2 sec) on the port side and broke away in front of the enemy aircraft to deliver a head on but lost aircraft in cloud at 19,000 ft. I searched for five minutes and climbed through clouds to 27,000 ft and was the ordered to pancake at base. When aircraft was last sighted it was heading in a west direction with thick black smoke coming from starboard engine and a thin trail from port engine.
Combat report 15th September 1940 14:30. Roy Mottram 92 Squadron Maidstone - Ashford,
1 HE.111 destroyed, 1 Do.17 damaged.
I was blue 2 ordered to patrol with 92 Squadron over Hornchurch, angels 20. Being separated from the rest of the Squadron I climbed into sun until I reached 20000 feet. I saw two formations of Hurricanes to the east and further east was amass of about 70 aircraft. About 5000 feet below were several Dornier 17’s. I chased one to the top of the clouds and opened fire on its starboard engine for 20 yards. As it went into cloud I closed up to about 40 yards and gave each engine a 3 second burst. As visibility was bad I could I could not see any effect and eventually lost it in the thick clouds. I then went through the clouds and waited beneath base at 6000 feet. After a couple of minutes a He.111 appeared and I did a quarter attack on the starboard engine. Smoke came from it and after two more attacks flames appeared and the aircraft started losing height rapidly I made two more attacks from the beam and then watched the aircraft crash in a field in the Ashford district.
Combat report 20th October 1940 12:30 hours, Roy Mottram 92 Squadron East of Tonbridge.
1 Me.110 destroyed (shared with 222 Sqdn)
I was Red 2 in Ganic Squadron and when on Maidstone patrol line at 1500 feet I saw a smoke trail coming from the S.E. at 25000 feet. Ganic leader led the Squadron and when at 20000 feet enemy aircraft turned back on reciprocal. It then started to dive and I broke away to follow. I was unable to catch up with it and lost it until 5000 feet when I found another Spitfire chasing it. The pilot of the enemy aircraft was making good evasive tactics doing steep turns, diving and climbing very quickly. I eventually got within range when aircraft was 300 feet high and got in a short quarter attack and then a 4 second burst from astern at 300 yards. I broke away above the aircraft and as the enemy aircraft avoided another Spitfire I got in a 5/6 second burst when it did a steep turn - aiming a length and a half in front. Smoke started from both engines but the pilot still continued evasive steep turns. Two more Spitfires joined in the fray and after several bursts the aircraft landed in a field with both engines blazing.
Combat report 26th October 1940 10:40 - 10:50. Roy Mottram 92 Squadron, Tunbridge Wells.
One Me.109 probable
I was red 2 with leading Section of Ganic Squadron. Enemy aircraft were at 15000 feet and we were at 20000feet. Ganic Leader dived to attack and I singled out an Me.109 that broke from the main force and started to dive into clouds. It pulled out of the dive before reaching cloud and started to climb rapidly.
I cut out of the dive and when the aircraft was still climbing I gave a short burst from 300 yards astern. The enemy aircraft flattened out a bit and I closed up to 200 yards and gave a 3 second burst from dead astern. Small bits seemed to fly off the wings and white smoke came from the starboard side of the fuselage. I gave another 2 second burst and more smoke came from the fuselage. Another Spitfire did a quarter attack on this machine and I broke off the engagement.
Combat report 17th November 1940 16:15 hours. Roy Mottram 92 Squadron, Brighton.
1 Me 109 damaged.
I was green 1 in Garrick Squadron, and weaving for the squadron. About 10 enemy aircraft were sighted at 24000 feet and Garrick leader led the Squadron into attack.
I singled out the rearmost 109 and did a quarter attack opening fire from 300 yards and closing in with a 4 second burst.
The perspex inside the cockpit immediately iced up and vision was reduced to nil. Had it not been for this, I could have observed the effect of my fire, and taken the necessary action to finish off the combat.
Combat report 16th May 1941 15:20 hours, Roy Mottram 92 Squadron, 15 miles south of Dover.
1 Me.109 destroyed (1/4 share)
Garrick Squadron patrolling Dover - Dungeness 15,000 ft.
Two 109’s sighted flying over Dover turning toward French coast. F/Lt Wright made short opening attack nearly head-on. I made quarter astern attack opening 200 yds. closing 50 yds. and breaking off when another Spitfire was also firing from 50 yds. F/Lt Wright made another long attack and so did Garrick Leader (S/L Rankin) and F/O Wade.
E/A was last seen diving vertically pouring out black smoke at 7000 ft. about 15 miles south of Dover.
S/L Rankin 120 rounds Cannon; 1400 browning. No stoppage.
F/Lt Wright 120 rounds Cannon; 1400 browning. No stoppage.
F/O Wade 56 rounds Cannon; 600 browning. one misfeed
F/O Mottram 96 rounds Cannon; 1400 browning. ejection stoppage.
Combat Report 25th June 1941 12:15 hours. F/Lt. Mottram 54 Squadron, Gravelines
1 Me.109E Destroyed
My Section (Yellow) whilst flying at 18,000 feet towards Gravelines, just about to cross the French coast, was ordered to attack 4 Me.109 Es flying below and away from us, still climbing.
I ordered the section to attack, and I saw one straggler about 400 yards behind the main formation, so I chose him to attack.
I dived gently onto his tail, he still flew straight and level. When I was at very close range I fired 2 short bursts from almost dead astern.
There was a large red explosion at the ring roots - the aircraft turned over and I last saw it dive down out of control.
Combat Report 26th June 1941 11:50 - 12:10 hours. F/Lt. Mottram 54 Squadron North of Gravelines
1 Me.109 E Probable.
I was Yellow 3 flying parallel with Yellow 1 an 2 returning from Dunkirk to North Foreland at 15,000 ft. when yellow 1 sighted 2 Me.109 E’s about to attack a lone Spitfire at 9,000 ft. We dived down but were unable to prevent the e/a attacking the Spitfire, the pilot of which subsequently baled out.
Yellow 1 and 2 engaged one Me.109 E and myself and Yellow 4 engaged the other. I gave a short burst from astern quarter at 150 yards, whereupon the e/a showed signs of returning the compliment. After a series of short turns, quick dives and climbs, the e/a dived to about 5,000ft. and pulled into a steep climb. I overhauled him and he tried to return to the right at the top of his climb, when I got in a lovely burst and the e/a slowly turned to the left and began a shallow dive towards Dunkirk with black and white smoke coming from the engine. The e/a did not try any more evasive tactics and after two more long bursts from astern, tracers hitting the e/a on each occasion, I broke off at 1,000 ft. a mile from Dunkirk beaches with e/a still slowly losing height.
Combat Report 8th July 1941 06:30 hours. F/Lt. Mottram 54 Squadron, Lille.
1 Me.109 E Probable
I was Yellow 1 flying south at 19 - 29,000ft north of St. Omer, when three aircraft approached from the east at my height.
I recognised them as Me.109’s E and fired a long burst at the last enemy aircraft - a quarter astern attack from slightly above.
The enemy aircraft dived down steeply with grey and white smoke pouring out from both wing roots and I last saw it at 4-5,000 ft.