Sergeant Johnnie Horan

Sharing part of my research with you this morning while the coffee is brewing… 

I had seen that face before. The air gunner on the right.

The pilot on the left is Michael Lister Haigh. On the right is the AI operator air gunner who is unidentified. This image comes from this Website.

It’s image 17. No caption but you have the file name.



I had some captions to help me out in Flight Sergeant Gerard Pelletier’s photo album.

The Boys at “264” Dispersal 

Bill Moncur and Johnnie Horan

I got curious last night and I couldn’t get to sleep. 

Read what I found out on the Internet.

Evening Post, Volume CXXXIX, Issue 16, 19 January 1945, Page 7




(R.N.Z.A.F, Official News Service.)

How the supreme courage of an R.N.Z.A.F, gunner; Flying Officer John Spencer Horan (Auckland), who even though he was fatally wounded, remained at his post, undoubtedly saved the lives of the remainder of the crew of the aircraft, was related at a forward airfield on the Burma front yesterday, by the-pilot of the aircraft concerned.

A Sea Otter rescue aircraft was on a reconnaissance trip off the Akyab coast when it was suddenly discovered that eight Japanese Oscars were on its tail, two of which came in to attack. Flying Officer Horan, gunner in the Sea Otter, opened fire. Two minutes later he reported that he was hit. The first navigator went aft and found him unconscious with his left hand blown off. Recovering consciousness as he was being dragged back into the fuselage, Horan insisted on returning to the guns He jammed them against his chest and continued to hold off the enemy.

The engine was now on fire, the instrument panel shattered, the flaps shot away, and the tail ablaze. Bullets from the enemy were continually passing through the aircraft. Horan received further wounds on his head, but although these totalled up to seven, his fire never failed. He fired 800 rounds, and was still firing as the pilot managed to land the blazing aircraft outside the breakers and beach her. Flying Officer Horan died immediately.

Two hours later, the remainder of the crew, including the navigator, who also belongs to the R.N.Z.A.F., Flight Sergeant J. A. Lawson (Onehunga) were flying again, and succeeded in rescuing a Spitfire pilot from the sea. The pilot, Flight Lieutenant Peter Almack, of Christchurch, England, insists that Flying Officer Horan saved the lives of the remainder of the crew- Flying Officer Horan, who was 24 years of age, leaves a young wife and infant son in England. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. P. Horan, reside at Manurewa, Auckland. Before he joined the R.N.Z.A.F. in February, 1940, Flying Officer Horan was employed on farm work with Mr. P. N. Anderson at Okoroire. His education was received at the Matamata District High School, and he was prominent in several sports, including cycling. He left New Zealand for the United Kingdom in April, 1940.


Warrant Officers Frank Watkins and John Horan gave their lives to save their crewmates, but were each denied the Victoria Cross because of insufficient evidence. Instead both were mentioned-in-despatches, the only other recognition which could be given posthumously.
Despite considerable lobbying after World War Two, neither award was upgraded, leading to criticism that this diminished their valour and sacrifice.

Frank Watkins was working as a Government clerk when he enlisted into the RNZAF in 1940 as a pilot and was sent to Europe mid-1941.

While attacking Duisberg, Germany, on the night of December 20, 1942, Watkins’ Wellington bomber was seriously damaged from a direct hit. His friend and bomb-aimer Sergeant Brooke-Norris was wounded and could not be removed from the stricken aircraft. Watkins ordered the rest of the crew to parachute to safety while he stayed with the aircraft and tried to crash land it in an attempt to save his friend’s life. Sadly, both men died.

Writing from within captivity Watkins’ crewmates described his actions as the “most outstanding example of love and sacrifice”. These sentiments were echoed by senior officers who all recommended him for the Victoria Cross. However, Air Marshal Arthur “Bomber” Harris did not endorse the recommendations due to insufficient evidence and Watkins was later mentioned-indespatches.

Share-milker John Horan had arrived in Europe earlier in the war, and served as an air-gunner with No. 256 Squadron during the Battle of Britain. Throughout the war, he served with RAF pilot Peter Almack. After completing three tours together, Almack talked Horan into volunteering for a fourth in the Far East.

It was during that tour that Horan’s Sea Otter aircraft was attacked by six Japanese Oscar fighter bombers while conducting reconnaissance in the Bay of Bengal on January 9, 1945. Part of Horan’s left hand was blown off during the fight, but he refused medical aid. He instead returned to his guns, jamming them against his chest and fired over 800 rounds, until he was hit in the chest and head as the aircraft crash landed. The remainder of the crew made it ashore, while Horan could not be freed from the fuselage and sank with the damaged plane.

When his body was washed ashore the following day, he was buried with full military honours. Air Commodore Keith ‘Grid’ Caldwell, the RNZAF Liaison Officer in South East Asia, requested that the award of the Victoria Cross be investigated. However, Base Air Force South East Asia considered there was insufficient evidence to do so, and Horan was instead mentioned-indespatches.

While it is unfortunate that neither servicemen received the Victoria Cross— despite their actions clearly warranting such an award—we should not allow this to diminish their valour and self-sacrifice. Instead it is up to us as an Air Force to preserve their memory and honour their deeds.

Wing Commander Mark Brewer, currently serves in the NZDF Institute for Leader Development. He has a long-running interest in the medallic recognition of service personnel and is currently Vice President of the New Zealand Military Historical Society.

Preserving the past – Sergeant William K. Moncur

Spoiler here

I am having my second cup of coffee!

I was not sure about the name of the airman on the left.


Bill Moncur ? and Johnnie Horan

The Boys of “624” at Dispersal


So very little information about Bill Moncur ? on the Internet unless Bill becomes William.

And then…?

Then a door opens just a little on the Internet…

In French!

Les 14 Français à avoir participé à la bataille d’Angleterre sont:
Pierre Blaise,
Henri Bouquillard,
Yves Brière,
Maurice Choron,
Jean Demozay,
Emile Fayolle,
Charles Guérin,
François de Labouchère,
Henri Lafont,
William Moncur,

Xavier de Montbron,
René Mouchotte,
Georges Perrin,
Phillippe de Scitivaux.

Les autres n’ont pas pris part aux 114 jours de combat, ils se trouvaient pour la plupart dans des unités d’entraînement.

Then, the same information pops up again in 2006. 

Almost 11 years ago!

LISTE DES PILOTES FRANÇAIS AYANT PARTICIPÉ À LA BATAILLE D’ANGLETERRE (Affectés entre le 9 septembre et le 31 octobre 1940)

Didier Beghin : affecté au squadron 245 le 15 octobre 1940. Tué le 26 novembre 1944 au-dessus de la Hollande. Compagnon de la Libération.

Pierre Blaize : squadron 111. Tué en opérations aériennes le 14 avril 1941.

Yves Brière : affecté au squadron 232 le 14 septembre 1940. Tué en opérations aériennes le 13 mai 1941.

Henri Bouquillard : affecté au squadron 245 le 12 septembre 1940. Tué en opérations aériennes le 11 mars 1941. Il fut le premier Compagnon de la Libération des FAFL.

Maurice Choron : affecté au squadron 64 le 11 octobre 1940. Disparu en opérations aériennes le 10 avril 1942. Trois victoires homologuées et cinq probables. Compagnon de la Libération.

Jean-François Demozay : squadron 1. Colonel à la fin de la guerre. DSO (Distinguished service order et DFC and bar (Distinguished flying cross). Vingt-deux victoires. Tué en service aérien le 19 décembre 1945. Compagnon de la Libération.

François Fayolle : affecté au squadron 85 (celui de Peter Townsend) le 12 septembre 1940. Disparu le 19 août 1942 lors du débarquement de Dieppe à la tête du squadron 174. (Compagnon de la Libération. DFC.

Charles Guérin : affecté au sqadron 232 le 14 septembre 1940. Tué en opérations aériennes le 3 mai 1941.

François de La bouchère : affecté au squadron 85 le 12 septembre 1940. Disparu en opérations aériennes le 5 septembre 1942. Compagnon de la Libération. DFC.

Henri Lafont : affecté au squadron 245 le 11 septembre 1940. Colonel (ER).

Xavier de Montbon : affecté au squadron 64 le 16 septembre 1940. Tué en service aérien en 1949.

René Mouchotte : affecté au squadron 245 le 11 septembre 1940. Disparu en opérations aériennes le 27 août 1943 comme commandant du groupe de chasse « Alsace ». Compagnon de la Libération. DFC.

Georges Perrin : affecté au squadron 615 le 19 septembre 1940. Capitaine (ER).

Philippe de Scitivaux : affecté au squadron 245 le 16 octobre 1940. Il commanda le groupe de chasse « Île de France ». Vice-amiral d’escadre en retraite.

William Moncur (?) : affecté au squadron 65 le 14 octobre 1940.

This message from Jean-Christian B. was left on a forum on December 2nd, 2006 at 16:35, in Colmar, France. He couldn’t have invented something like that.

There has to be some truth in all this.

So last night I had to check it out in the Operations Record Books of 264 Squadron. Sergeant W Moncur flew with Sergeant J Horan after Michael Lister Haigh was transferred from 264 Squadron.


Source 264 Squadron Website

This would explain why Flight Sergeant Gerard Pelletier took that picture with a caption.


Bill Moncur and Johnnie Horan

Sergeant Moncur was most certainly that Free French pilot in World War Two who fought in the Battle of Britain with probably 65 Squadron according to unverified sources.

What I have verified though is that he flew Boulton Paul Defiant in 1941 and 1942 with John Horan as an air gunner, and later flew Mosquitos with his navigator Woodruff in 1943 and 1944 after 624 converted to Mosquitos…

All this information was found in the Operations Record Books of 264 Squadron.


Unknown, Bubbles Chandler, Bill Moncur, Fred Pelham, Johnnie Horan