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 traveler 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 Derby FTS, where he did his initial flying training (first solo on 13 Sep 1939) and gained his “Wings”.
On completion of his initial flying training (21 Oct 1939) he was given rank of Acting Pilot officer, fitted for his uniform and then on 4 Nov 1939 posted to to 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 Sqn) extract for 31st August 1941 follows -
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.
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
This pilot flew fighter aircraft for the RAF in WWII, this record has come from the RAF Archives with a log book reference. The log book is available for viewing in the RAF London archives. The data we parsed includes pilot name, rank, awards, and log book dates - but little else, i.e. country of birth or aircraft flown. We have made country of birth the UK until users edit the pilot listing to make a correction, figuring a majority will be UK pilots. We do have a reference number for the operational log book(s) available in the RAF archives, in London, and the reference numbers include: Log Book accession no. MF10050/16. If a user conducts research on this pilot and can fill in this pilot's biography further by clicking edit, or, can visit the RAF archives to inspect the log book(s) and add any aircraft serials or sortie details, this change will be reflected in your profile as recognition. Let us know if you visit the archives
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.