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AUS_RAAF 20th November 2020 02:40

RAF/RN pilot H.F. Bromwich
Hi all,

This post crosses over a few topics so am happy if moderators want to shift it to another forum.

I discovered a photo of a naval pilot named H.F. Bromwich of Sydney in the cockpit of a Martlet (looks like a Buffalo to me!). Article is from June 1941 and same pic can be found on Getty Images. Australian WWII naval aviators were very rare so I did a bit of online digging through Google, Trove and RAF/Navy Lists.

I am interested in any further service details regarding this man. So far it appears he is Herbert Frank Bromwich, son of a British RN officer George Herbert Bromwich (former surname Cockey) DSO and Australian mother Evelyn Mary (nee Newton). Herbert was born in 1911 probably in the UK before the family moved to Sydney around early 1912 where his father was General Manager of the Garden Island Naval shipyards. Not sure if and when the Bromwichs’ returned to the UK but is seems Herbert would have been raised in Sydney during his childhood.

Herbert was granted a commission in the RAF in 1935 and by 1937 posted to 29 Sqn RAF. According to the ORB he was in the Middle East before arrival? A year later relinquished his Short Service Commission in the RAF and appointed to the Royal Navy Air Branch. Service details can be traced through the Navy Lists - 701 Flt HMS Malaya (Aug 38), 759 Sqn (Nov 39), 800 Sqn (May 40), 759 Sqn (Sept 40), HMS Heron (Dec 42), HMS Landrail (Jul 44), HMS Pursuer (Oct 44). On 23 Jul 45 he was involved in an accident in Seafire LR877 while flying with 887 Sqn aboard HMS Implacable but am unsure when posted to the squadron. Based on this incident I assume he was involved in the British Pacific Fleet’s final assault against the Japanese islands during July and early Aug 45?

Would welcome any information about RAF/FAA service numbers, missions flown (particularly 800 Sqn, HMS Pursuer and 887 Sqn) and/or gaps to service and biographical information above. Also, if the photo was taken early/mid 1941 and is a Buffalo, which FAA unit would it be?

Thanks in advance.

Regards, Drew

alieneyes1 20th November 2020 05:29

Re: RAF/RN pilot H.F. Bromwich

He got around. Born Gillingham, Kent 20 July 1911

From the National Post (Toronto) 22 July 2002


Bromwich, Herbert Frank Second World War veteran, RAF, Royal Navy, Lt. Cmdr Retired. Passed away at age 91, on July 17 at the Wentworth Lodge (Dundas). Husband of the late Mary. He leaves son Chris(Patricia) and three grand daughters



AUS_RAAF 20th November 2020 07:58

Re: RAF/RN pilot H.F. Bromwich
Thanks Dave for the look ups. He was very much a journeyman!

Another newspaper article indicated he was engaged to a Lorna Le Gros in Aug 38 so either didnít get married or later remarried to the Mary listed in the death notice.

Regards, Drew

alieneyes1 20th November 2020 18:51

Re: RAF/RN pilot H.F. Bromwich

He married Lorna C G K LeGros at Windsor in September 1939 Qtr.

When he married Mary at Hampstead in the December 1950 Qtr, she went under two names. Mary M. Porter and Mary Middleton. Both are shown as spouses of your subject.



AUS_RAAF 21st November 2020 03:42

Re: RAF/RN pilot H.F. Bromwich
Thanks for that Dave. Every bit of detail helps to round out Bromwich's story!

regards, Drew

Col Bruggy 21st November 2020 10:52

Re: RAF/RN pilot H.F. Bromwich

A couple more incidents for H. F. Bromwich:

GRUMMAN G-36A Martlet III - AX736

Deld BPC 17.9.40.
805 Sqn ('P':'X') 9.41 - 8.42.
On TO run, sank to ground with wheels partially retracted, Cat R 3.11.41 (Lt HF Bromwich).

See: FAA Aircraft 1939-1945/Sturtivant & Burrows/A-B,1995/p.228.

and ...

Wednesday, 10 December 1941

The only other action of the day occurred when Lt Bromwich of 805 Sqn (part of the RFNS) attacked a Bf 110 north of Ras el Kanayas. Bromwick [sic] engaging it for 15 minutes in his Martlet. Despite one cylinder being shot away early in the combat, he managed to claim his opponent as probably destroyed (no Bf 110s mentioned in German Casualties).

British Casualties.

805 Sqn. Martlet damaged; Lt H. F. Bromwich unhurt.

See: HOTMAW1/Shores et al/Grub Street,2012/p.381.


AUS_RAAF 21st November 2020 11:22

Re: RAF/RN pilot H.F. Bromwich
Thanks so much Col, great lead. Once again this man is in action in a different theatre of war!

Had a quick look in History of the Med Air War Vol 1 (pg 381) and Lt H.F. Bromwich of 805 Sqn registered a probable claim over a Bf110 a month after the landing accident on 10 Dec 41. Lost a cylinder in the Martlet engine during a 15 minute combat but no a/c serial is listed. Just wondering if there is something listed in Sturtivant and Burrows for a damaged Martlet on this date?

Regards, Drew

Col Bruggy 21st November 2020 11:30

Re: RAF/RN pilot H.F. Bromwich

Sturtivant & Burrows mentions the following:



805 Sqn, Bf 110 down smoking, probable N of Ras el Milh, own engine damaged 1055 (Lt HF Bromwich) - FAA A/c 1939-1945/p.249.


AUS_RAAF 21st November 2020 11:33

Re: RAF/RN pilot H.F. Bromwich
Thanks Col for the quick look up and reply!

bearoutwest 21st November 2020 11:56

Re: RAF/RN pilot H.F. Bromwich
The detail which I find fascinating is that the aircraft in the photo (better detail in the Getty site) is a Brewster Buffalo (or F2A), not a Grumman Martlet.

I wonder if the photo was taken in a FAA operational training unit in the UK; or with 805 Sqn in the desert or Crete where RN Buffalos were used for a short period of time.


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