OLOF FREDERICK GOLLCHER – The story behind the photograph by Hanneke Jansen
Hanneke contacted SoFFAAM asking for assistance on a particular Shorts 184 airframe. Unfortunately, the Council Members were unable to assist her directly with the detail that she sought. However, her determination to uncover the story behind a particular photograph led her into a deep research project to understand the detail that this particular image revealed on digitisation.
Her story is told in an abridged version in Jabberwock 110 but for those of you who want to see her full account can do so by clicking HERE to view her original PDF.
Hanneke lives in Malta with her husband Tom and as I was visiting Malta a few months after her original request to the Society, it was important that I visit her and hear about her quest in person. It was such an interesting tale that I felt we had to carry this in Jabberwock. I am indebted to her and Toms kind hospitality and hearing at first hand Hannekes quest in uncovering the detail about Olof Frederick Gollcher and this particular photograph.
Richard James Macauley.
A SUBSTANTIAL PAYMENT TO THE FLEET AIR ARM MUSEUM
During the December Council Meeting, Marc Farrance asked if Barbara Gilbert could submit a bid for a very substantial sum of money.
Barbara reported that FAAM was in negotiations with the families of two FAA veterans who had important items that they wished to sell to FAAM, or they would go to auction. The major collection comprised the medals and logbooks of Cdr Stanley Orr RNVR. The Chairman recognised the name of the FAA’s highest scoring fighter pilot of WW2, and later the commanding officer of the RN’s first Hovercraft Unit. Stanley Gordon Orr was born in London in 1916 and joined the FAA in 1939. After completing his flying training on fighters, he was appointed in May 1940 to 806 Squadron at RNAS Hatston in Orkney, flying the Blackburn Skua and Roc. He took part in raids against German-occupied Norway, before a rapid move to RAF Detling to cover the Dunkirk evacuation.
Having converted on to the Fairey Fulmar, 806 embarked in Illustrious and headed to the Mediterranean. Stan Orr began his scoring in September 1940 and was awarded his first DSC. He was airborne on the day when Illustrious was bombed and severely damaged and landed at RAF Hal Far. Flying in defence of Malta and Illustrious, Stan scored five more victories and awarded a bar to his DSC. 806 then embarked in HMS Formidable, but she was damaged quite soon after that and 806 disembarked again to Alexandria, re-equipping with Hurricanes to fight against the Vichy French in Palestine. Orr was given a non-operational appointment for the first time in his career with an instructor’s job at Yeovilton, before helping to form 896 Squadron, equipped with Grumman Wildcat fighters, in Norfolk, Virginia. An attack of polio slowed him down for a while but on his recovery he was given command of 804 Squadron, equipped with Grumman Hellcats. He flew in the raids against Tirpitz, winning a second Bar to his DSC, and later a Mention in Dispatches. In September 1944 he went to RNAS Henstridge as Chief Flying Instructor (CFI) and then to Empire Test Pilots School (ETPS) at Boscombe Down. For his work on early jets he was awarded the Air Force Cross before serving operationally again in HMS Ocean in Korea. Back at Boscombe Down he commanded the Naval Test Squadron, which was awarded the Boyd Trophy, given annually for the best feat in naval aviation. His final job in the navy was to command the Inter Service Hovercraft Trials Unit at Lee on Solent. In his generation, Stan Orr was a major figure in the FAA, but he was a modest man whose achievements are mainly known in limited circles. His medals reflect his exceptional abilities as both an operational pilot and a test pilot.
Barbara’s second request was for something a little more unusual, but interesting nevertheless. The watch company of Rolex embarked on an unusual promotional scheme during World War 2. Rolex had lost many of its customers with the outbreak of war, so decided to provide watches to Allied Prisoners of War. These only had to be paid for on the conclusion of the war. It appears that many officers availed themselves of this bargain offer. So many of them were airmen in Stalag Luft III, site of the Great Escape, that one Rolex model is known as “The Escaper”.
Derek Martin was a Midshipman pilot in the FAA at the same time as Stan Orr, also on Blackburn Skuas and flew as a member of 801. Arriving off Northern Norway in Ark Royal, he was one of four Skua crews who were in combat with German Heinkel 111s on 7 May 1940, claiming a share in one Heinkel shot down. Five weeks later, as a pilot of one of five 801 aircraft along with nine Skuas of 803, set out to attack the damaged battlecruiser Scharnhorst at Trondheim. Eight of the Skuas were shot down, including Midshipman D T R Martin and Ldg Airman W J Tremler. Whilst in captivity, Derek obtained one of these Rolex watches and it was this one, along with other papers, that Barbara sought to secure for FAAM.
More by practice than written policy, Soffaam has donated funds to the museum to enhance its collection and operations. The Council refused a request for operating subsidies at the start of lockdown on the basis that, if a national museum could not be supported by Government, then it was not a going concern. Since then we have donated £10,000 towards major electrical installation works, and now £20,000 to assist in the purchase of two significant additions to an already world class collection. The museum will have to wait a while now until we rebuild our funds.
A SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTION TO THE SOCIETY
One of our lifetime members, who wishes to remain anonymous, called me to explain that, having been a member of SoFFAAM since paying his join fee back in 1998, he now feels like he has been getting a “free ride” from the society for some time. He has very kindly given a donation of £500 to SoFFAAM, wishing it to be used in a way that would attract younger joiners. This is something we are very keen to do, as they are the future of our society.
After some thought, our Chairman, Graham Mottram, contacted the Dorset and Somerset Sea Cadets, who have aviation as a part of their training structure. It was decided that a free 12-month SoFFAAM family membership would be granted to the top aviation cadet in each unit. This is to be called “The SoFFAAM Award”. In addition to this, a £25 prize will be awarded to the cadet who writes the best essay on the Fleet Air Arm contribution to the Battle of Britain. This will run for three years and is to be called the “ Tillard/Cockburn Prize”, in recognition of some of those very FAA personnel.
Our sincere thanks go out to our anonymous donor and we hope that his generosity results in some interest from the younger generation! We will publish the outcome of this initiative in future publications of Jabberwock.