Rank & Name: W/C Walter Joseph Hurst AFC
Date of Death: 10/07/2010


AC Hurst in Rennes, France 1940.

Have been recently contacted by Joe's daughter Sue, who has sent in the following... (05/10/2010).


My father was in 59 Squadron, and is, amazingly, still alive at 89. He was at the time, as he puts it, an 'AC Plonk', tho he trained as a pilot in 1943, became a Squadron Leader (a 3-day spell as a W/Cmdr too!) and gained an AFC in 1957. Today I read him the very comprehensive and most interesting article on the squadron, and I thought you might like to know his responses.

'Off to France again'. Dad, who is Walter Joseph Hurst, who joined at the age of 17 in 1938, knew F/L Hallmark, and recognises the picture on this page as being taken at Andover. The description of the journey to France he entirely agrees with as being miserable. He remembered CO Fyfe as J B Fyfe and also knew F/L Smither, F/L Millar and F/L Horton - the last of which he says was an engineer. He recalls well the well-wishers, and puts it down to the fact that the squadron marched  3-4 miles to entrain.

He recalls the chateau but not the Baron; recalls the first meal, and was amongst those who refused to eat any more when they found out what the meat was. No knowledge of Vitry-en-Artois. (But his logbook has entries for 'Vitry' so I should ask again.) Recalls visit of the King and saw him himself, albeit from a distance. Battle of France (he has no knowledge of Richard Los): he agrees that 59 was part of BEF. He knew Sgt Charlie Dunlop - 'can see Charlie Dunlop now' - and is pretty certain F/L Hallmark would have received his DFC on this mission.

p3. He remembers the Officers' Mess in the pic well. He left from Crecy as in the text. He also said he was in Coulommiers for a while so presumably it was used before the departure of the major section of 59. He knew well P/O Clair Grece and he became a Group Captain. In the Officer's pic he knew Smithiers, Arscott ('very good pilot'),  Williams, Fyfe, Handley, Hallmark, Smith, Evans, Horton, Chamberlain, flying with most of them specifically Arscott and Hallmark.
Re the local attempts to block the runways, he said 'they did' and deemed it outrageous.

p4 He agreed with the assessment of the Blenheim - they were not robust and did not fly very well.

p5 He was at Thorney Island for a few weeks. He recalls the replacement aircraft and the crews regarded it as being in heaven to have them. Steel nerves: he knew S/L Archer.

p7: the sorties. Those he immediately recalled were 23.07 in which he was involved; 1/08: he knew CO Morgan-Weld Smith (in his logbook as Wield-Smith) as a 'nice chap' and knew him well and was aware he was killed; 09/08: knew P/O Davis.

p8: Knew Sgt Wilkinson. He also knew P/Os Davis, Constable and Selsdon. I see the name Clarke appears in his logbook - I think you say he was later killed.

Sunday 14 July: this name apears in his logbook as Sandes. Looking through his logbook I see so many names you mention. He returned from France to Andover on 24 May 'with broken tail wheel' and his logbook shows that it was, in fact, from Coulommiers not Crecy.


Joe folded his wings on the 7th July 2010. His experiences and memories were invaluable to piecing together the story of the Detachment, that operated in France over May-June 1940.


Further Information

Many thanks to Joe's daughter Sue, who took the time to send in the pictures and share with us the story of Joe's service with No.59 Sqaudron.


Rest In Peace