le Poer Trench, Frederick Albert

Frederick, or Fred as he was known to his friends, was born in Lismore, New South Wales, on the 29th June 1921, and enlisted in the RAAF on the 5th January 1941.

Fred did his Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS) flying in Australia before being posted to the UK. After a brief stint at Biggin Hill, he was posted to the Middle East to the newly formed 127 Squadron RAF in the Western Desert. The Squadron had been reformed once again at Kasfareet in Egypt, on 2nd August 1941. The Squadron initially operated from St Jean in Palestine with Hurricane I aircraft where a considerable amount of practice flying was undertaken. On the 26th May 1942, instructions were received that 127 Squadron was to move from Palestine and be re-equipped with Hurricane IIB aircraft. By the middle of June, a detachment had been sent forward into the Western Desert. The activities of this detachment was confined to patrol work and no contact was made with the enemy. Owing to the Enemy’s advance, the detachment returned to L.G.92 near Amriya where the remainder of the Squadron had joined them by the end of the month.

Between July and December 1942, the Squadron continued to operate over the Western Desert from various landing grounds. During this period, over 20 aircraft were damaged or destroyed while on operational duties, four pilots were killed in action and four became POWs. 1943 was a quite year for the Squadron for in January it moved back to Palestine and spent most of the year on standing patrols and the occasional scramble. Detachments operated from Nicosia Cyprus, Gaza and Beirut. In November, the entire Squadron moved to Cyprus where it covered convoys and flew sweeps in the Dodecanese operations. At the end of the month, the squadron returned to St Jean, Palestine  with again detachments at Nicosia, Gaza and Laketannia. le Poer Trench Pic 6

In April 1944, the Squadron moved to Britain in preparation for Operation Overlord, and it was then that Fred left and did some gunnery instructing in the Suez area. He then returned to Australia and resumed instructing in Parkes, NSW.

As can be seen from Fred’s Half Yearly Return on Flying Hours, Fred flew the Tiger Moth, Wirraway, Miles Master, Harvard, hurricane and the Spitfire. He was obviousy an exceptional pilot. A report by his CO at the Air Gunnery School said he was, “outstanding as an instructor. Most hard working and intelligent and as ready to learn as he is good at instructing. Would make a good Flight Commander.” That’s not a bad report from Officer Commanding, Air Gunnery School, Egypt, who eventually became an RAF Air Vice-Marshal after the War.

After the cessation of hostilities and his discharge on the 3rd October 1945, Fred resumed his course at Sydney University. He subsequently practised as a solicitor at Bega and in his later working life at Campbelltown, both in NSW. 

Possessing a fine mind and a sharp wit, he was an admirer and a very considerable exponent of the use of the concise and beautiful English language. Fred’s only post-War overseas trip brought him enormous pleasure in being reunited with 127 Squadron pilots and many other friends of former years.

Fred died suddenly whilst visiting Ballina in December, 1996.

The photos is of Fred in the Western Desert in 1942. From left to right: Flight Lieutenant A.K. Asboe, Flying Officer N.O. Thomas, Flying Officer N.J. Cullen and Fred as a Flying Officer.

With thanks to Andy Ingham at RAF_127Squadron@yahoo.co.uk
Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association 

Le Poer 2