Pilot F.C. Harrold

Pilot Frederick Harrold – V7497

Frederick Cecil Harrold joined the RAF on a short service commission in July 1939. He completed his training and went to 5 OTU Aston Down.

The second to last pilot to fly Hawker Hurricane V7497.

On 12th July 1940 Harrold crashed Blenheim L1177 at Maiden Bradley, Wiltshire and on the 15th crashed Blenheim L6597 into the River Severn. He then joined 25 Squadron at Martlesham Heath on 19th August.

He moved to 151 Squadron at Stapleford on the 26th and then to 501 Squadron at Kenley on 26th September. On the 27th September he flew V7497; 15.10 – 15.55 on an Active Ops patrol. On the 28th Harrold was shot down by Bf-109s and killed. His Hurricane, P3417, crashed at the Strawberry Plantations, College House, Ulcombe and burned out.

Harrold was 23 years old. He is buried in St Andrew’s churchyard, Cherry Hinton, Cambridgeshire.

Harrold saw  active service during the Battle of Britain with No 501 (County of Gloucester) Squadron RAF, RAF Kenley, Surrey (he joined as a replacement on 26 September 1940, flew two operations on 27 September 1940 – one flight in V7497), and was shot down while flying Hurricane P3417 on his third operational flight by Messerschmitt Me 109s near Deal, Kent and killed in action on 28 September 1940.

 P/O Harold’s uniform

History note

This jacket belonged to Pilot Officer Frederick Harrold, a Hurricane pilot who was killed in action during the Battle of Britain. Harrold, of Hills Road, Cambridge, was killed on Saturday, 28th September over Deal, Kent, having only just been posted to 501 Squadron two days previously. Harrold was shot down by a MeBf109 and was later interred at St Andrews Churchyard Cemetery, Cherry Hinton.

When Harrold’s surviving sister died, the uniform, personal effects, including battered cigarette case, bent door key, damaged identity disc, talismans, pilots flying log book, medals, documents and photographs were bequeathed to the Imperial War Museum. On examination it would appear that the service dress uniform is the one worn by him at the time of his being killed, the jacket and trousers clearly showing evidence of severe wounds from the left side to the right.

Both have been cleaned previously but there is some staining and discouloration, and in addition some buttons and the belt buckle have earth deposits clearly visible. Although it is known that the crash-site was excavated in 1975, the uniform items, identity disc, and cigarette case are in too good a condition than would be the case if buried for 35 years. Included with the collection is a card-framed photographic portrait of Harrold, having a pilot’s brevet glued above the image. The ‘wings’ are of equal condition of the jacket and it is clear that these have removed from the garment, there being loose threads and colour change where the brevet was once sewn.

Physical description

Single-breasted open-collared four-pocket jacket of RAF blue. The cuffs feature single rank braid rings (Pilot Officer) and all but one of the RAF officer quality crested buttons are present (one re-sewn by curator back in position (top) as it became detached during examination, 4/Dec/2009). The integral cloth belt fitted with brass open double-claw buckle it attached. This jacket features many abrasions and rips to the upper left side, particularly to the arm, and the left sleeve is partially detached at the underarm, suggesting that the wearer sustained a near fatal injury to the left side of the arm, the underarm being where a projectile possibly exited his body. A single entry hole is located at the back of the jacket, four inches above the waist belt, one inch to the left of the seam (the lining shows a larger exit rip). Five of the present seven buttons show traces of mud deposits as does the reverse of the belt buckle. It would appear that this jacket has been laundered but there does remain some external staining overall. There is evidence of colour change to the internal lining. Above the left breast pocket is evidence where the Pilot’s brevet was once sewn, there being many loose threads remaining and some change of colour to the cloth. NOTE: a RAF Pilot’s brevet of similar condition to this jacket is glued in place to a card frame mount that contains a uniform portrait of P/O Harrold, presented to the Museum with the same consignment of material.

Information from the IWM collection

Inscription – HECTOR POWE OF REGENT STREET

Inscription – HECTOR POWE REGENT ST, LONDON.W.1. P/O HARROLD 79/1581 – 18.9.39

P/O Harold’s Flying log book

Log book – P/O Harold’s Flying log book with a final entry on the same day as V7497 was shot down. Harold flew V7497 on the 27th September 1940 the day before he was killed and V7497 was shot down with E.B.  Rogers at the controls.

 

 

Information from the IWM collection

Harold’s Log book with V7497 entered – His wings taken from his tunic after his death

Papers (July 1939 – September 1948) relating to his service with the RAF (July 1939 – September 1940) as a pilot on a short service commission (September 1939) and his postwar commemoration (he was formerly employed in the Cambridge University Library and a well known member of the Cambridge Town Rowing Club), including his flying training with No 7 E & RFTS (Elementary and Reserve Flying Training School), RAF Desford, Leicestershire (July 1939 – September 1939); No 5 Course at No 12 FTS (Flying Training School), RAF Grantham, Lincolnshire (October 1939 – April 1940), flying Ansons and assessed as “a steady pilot” of “average” ability; 65th Flying Instructor’s Course (6th War Course), CFS (Central Flying School) at RAF Upavon, Wiltshire (April 1940 – July 1940), flying Oxfords and Tutors; No 5 OTU (Operational Training Unit), RAF Aston Down, Gloucestershire (July 1940 – August 1940) and No 25 Squadron RAF, RAF North Weald, Essex (August 1940), flying Blenheims; No 151 Squadron RAF, RAF North Weald (August 1940 – September 1940), flying Hurricanes; active service during the Battle of Britain with No 501 (County of Gloucester) Squadron RAF, RAF Kenley, Surrey (he joined as a replacement on 26 September 1940, flew two operations on 27 September 1940, and was shot down while flying Hurricane P3417 on his third operational flight by Messerschmitt Me 109s near Deal, Kent. 

Killed in action on 28 September 1940, aged 23, and buried in St Andrew’s Churchyard, Cherry Hinton, Cambridgeshire), notably his Air Ministry Certificate of Competency & Licence to Fly Private Flying Machines (August 1939); his Pilot’s Flying Log Book (99pp, July 1939 – September 1940) stamped “killed in action”; his RAF Identity Card, CFS (4pp, July 1940); 3 ts telegrams and an ms letter from the Air Ministry (4pp, September and October 1940) notifying his father that he was missing in air operations, then confirming that he had “lost his life”, asking where he should be buried, and offering to “pay all expenses”; a ts letter (1p, undated) of “heartfelt sympathy” from George VI; 2 ts letters (3pp) from the Air Ministry giving the balance of his estate and the Awards granted for his wartime service; a ts Confidential Notice (1p, undated) requesting that relatives of fallen service personnel should not disclose details about the circumstances.

Numerous photographs of him in uniform, with his family and fellow RAF officers during his flying training, notably a close friend, Pilot Officer J D Ready, a Canadian pilot who was also killed (April 1941); various magazines and newspapers (October 1939 – September 1946) mainly relating to his RAF career and death; a ts card (4pp, undated) commemorating the first anniversary of his last operational flight and his name in the Book of Remembrance of St George’s Chapel at RAF Biggin Hill, Kent; a ts card (1p, September 1944) stating that he was “mentioned with proud thanksgiving, in the prayers of St George’s Chapel of Remembrance”; a ts Order of Service (13pp, July 1947) for the Unveiling and Dedication of the Battle of Britain Chapel in Westminster Abbey; a ts Form of Service (6pp, October 1947) in memory of the pupils of the Cambridgeshire High School for Boys who died in the Second World War; and a ts card (1p, September 1948) for the ‘Service of Thanksgiving for Victory Gained in the Battle of Britain, September 1940’ held in Westminster Abbey.

 

Reporting Harold missing then confirmation of his death

         

 

          

Information from the IWM collection

Other items found

RAF WingsItems bequeathed to the IWM – The wings appear to be the actual wings removed from Harrold’s jacket and then later glued to a picture frame.

Hos ID Disc, a key possibly for his room in the mess or mess locker and a cigarette case.

 

 

 

 

 

P/O Harrold flew Hurricane 501 V7497 only the day before E.B. Rogers on the 27th September 1940. Harrold was shot down the very next day on the 28th September 1940 – For more information on P/O E.B. Rogers

For more information on the History of V7497 please click on any of the below Historical links

Sir Sydney Camm

The Hawker Hurricane History

The Battle of Britain

501 Squadron Royal Air Force

About Hurricane V7497 of 501 Squadron

About P/O Harrold

About P/O Rogers

About Gustav Sprick