BLACK [MOORE], Reginald Thomas

No.567249, Corporal, Reginald Thomas BLACK
Aged 20

9 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Killed in Action on Monday, 18th December 1939

"Per noctem volamus" - Throughout the night we fly

Reginald Thomas MOORE was born on 13th April 1919 (Reading Q2-1919 2C:516), the son of Dorothy Emily MOORE . Dorothy married Arthur Glover BLACK in 1923, later of Langham, Essex. He appears to have used the BLACK surname from then on.

On 23 September 1939, Doris and Reginald were married in the West End Congregational Church. The South West Suffolk Echo reported:
"The wedding of Miss Doris D. Freeman, only daughter of Mr and Mrs C. Freeman of 8, The Pightle and Mr Reginald T.Black, eldest son of Mr and Mrs Arthur G. Black of Langham, Colchester, was solemnised at the West End Congregational Church on Saturday. The Rev.F. Andrew Willmot (minister of the church) officiated.
The bride, who was given away by her father, was attired in a powder-blue cloth frock with navy blue hat and eye veil, and matching accessories and was carrying a shower bouquet of yellow chrysanthemums and fern. The duties of best man were carried out by Mr Cyril Basham of Steeple Bumpstead: a friend of the bridegroom. About 40 guests were entertained at the subsequent reception which was of a quiet nature owing to the prevailing circumstances. Later in the day the newly-wedded pair left for their honeymoon which is taking the form of a motor tour."

In the 1939 register Doris [25-7-1917] a warehouse clerk and 1st Aid Ambulance, was with her parents Clifford and Florence FREEMAN at 8 The Pightle, Haverhill. She is however entered as BLACK, single, later to marry JANSEN (She married Frank J JANSEN in 1944 in Hackney). Doris was recorded as single, but the wedding was 6 days earlier.

Reginald's brother-in-law Phil (Phillip Roy Clifford) Freeman's name also appears on the Haverhill War Memorial. Phil, also serving in the RAF, was captured in the Far East after the Fall of Singapore. He died as a POW in the Sandakan Death Camp in Borneo. see here

We are indebted to Colin Freeman, youngest brother of Phil Freeman, casualty, and Claire Shelton-Jones, daughter of Doris and her second husband for information about Reginald and Doris and permission to use treasured family photographs in this tribute. Also to Michael Black, son of Reginald's brother Gordon, for allowing us to use images of the Log Book and other items in his possession.

Reginald and Doris on a day out in Clacton

On 21st August 1934 Reginald, now aged 15 years joined RAF Halton as an aircraft apprentice. On his 18th birthday in 1938 Reginald joined the RAF, signing on for a period of 12 years. We know from his military records that he had auburn hair and brown eyes.

Reginald was posted to RAF Stradishall with 9 Squadron, a heavy bomber squadron flying the Vickers Wellington. It was while he was here that he, along with others from the RAF base, ventured into Haverhill probably to enjoy the dances at the Town Hall. The evenings in the Town Hall were very popular with all the servicemen stationed locally. They were also popular with the young women from the town and it is likely that it was at such an event that Reginald met Doris Freeman of 8 The Pightle, Haverhill.Left: Doris and Reginald enjoying a day out in Clacton.

February 1939, No.9 Squadron moved to Honington and received Vickers Wellingtons, and was involved in anti-shipping sorties. Their losses on these missions increased until the decision was made to convert to night time operations, too late for Reginald though.

He died on the same mission (different aircraft) as Thomas ENGLISH see here

He was a wireless operator/air gunner on Vickers Wellington Mk 1a, N2941 (call sign WS-?) which took off from RAF Honington at 08:55 on a reconnaissance mission to Wilhelmshaven
The crew (all lost) were:-
Pilot - F/O Douglas Bellamy ALLISON; 2nd pilot - F/O Donald Charles Ephraim BAILEY; Observer - Sgt.John Archibald BRISTER; Air Bmbr - Sgt. Joseph Buglasi Adamson TURNBULL; W.Op/Air/Gnr - Cpl Reginald Thomas BLACK; Air Gunner - LAC Albert George GOODENOUGH.

It was decided that the RAF should mount a reconnaissance mission on the German fleet at Wilhelmshaven on 18th December 1939 and orders were received for 24 Wellington Medium bombers to participate, including nine from 9 Squadron. They were to carry out reconnaissance in the Schilling/Jade Road and to attack any battleships or cruisers in Wilhelmshaven. The orders stated that ‘Great care is to be taken to ensure that no bombs fall on shore’.
Unknown to the bomber force the Germans had been tracking them for many miles using the experimental early warning Freya Radar System and this information was passed to Luftwaffe fighters.
A force of three Vickers Wellington squadrons attacked ships in the Battle of Heligoland Bight but they were detected on radar long before they reached their target. At 12.30 hours and just south of Wilhelmshaven they were attacked by approximately forty enemy aircraft and this attack continued until they reached Wilhelmshaven when more heavy Anti-Aircraft fire was encountered from both shore based batteries and naval vessels. In total, ten of the twenty-two bombers were shot down, with another two crashing in the sea and three more written off on landing. In shooting down the fifteen bombers, the Luftwaffe lost only two fighters in return.
After this raid, daytime attacks were cancelled and all crews started intensive night flying training

Pre war 9 Squadron Wellingtons, they changed to call sign WS at the start of the war

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Reginald Black is commemorated on the Runnymede memorial, Surrey panel 2

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details

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