Group Captain Bertie Rex O’Bryen Hoare DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar
Author: Danny Burt
Published: Air Ward Pen & Sword
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Bertie Rex O’Bryen Hoare was born on 6 June 1912. Having been educated at Harrow and Wye Agricultural College, ‘Sammy’, as he was often known to friends and family, entered the RAF on a short-service commission in 1936.
In October 1938, whilst piloting a Fairey Battle, Bertie sustained a serious injury from a piece of loose aircraft cowling. This incident resulted in him being totally blinded in one eye. Though he was initially grounded, his determination to return to the air never diminished. The outbreak of war in September 1939 saw his wish be granted when Bertie was given permission to return to operational flying duties.
Bertie was posted to 23 Squadron, which was flying Blenheims at the time. The squadron then converted to Havocs, the crews being tasked with undertaking night-time operations over Occupied Europe. Despite his restricted night vision and depth perception, Bertie went on to became one of the RAF’s leading advocates in the art of what was known as ‘intruder operations’.
In the months and years that followed, Bertie served in, and then commanded, a number of RAF squadrons. By the time the war in Europe came to an end he was the Station Commander at RAF Little Snoring in Norfolk – which, at the time, was home to de Havilland Mosquitos undertaking intruder operations.
Bertie opted to remain in the RAF after the war, this time being posted to 84 Squadron. However, his luck finally ran out on 26 March 1947, when the Mosquito he was ferrying to Australia crashed off its northern coast. With Bertie reported missing at the time, Danny Burt reveals the full circumstances of this tragic incident.
This is the biography of one of the RAF’s greatest characters of the Second World War. With his ‘epic’ over-sized moustache, Bertie Hoare was a pilot who had risen to the rank of Group Captain, been awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Bar, the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar, and been Mentioned in Despatches. Bertie ended the war having flown over 100 combat sorties.