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"DOH" 2003 Obituary


DOHERTY 

DOHERTY o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-09-17 published
Gallant fighter pilot was war hero
Upper Canada College alumnus received the coveted Distinguished Flying Cross in 1943 for his 'very keen fighting spirit'
By Tom HAWTHORN Special to The Globe and Mail Wednesday, September 17, 2003 - Page R7
Rowan T. (Bob) HUTCHINSON/HUTCHISON was a Second World War fighter pilot who credited his flying mate, Larry DOHERTY, with saving his life at the cost of his own.
Mr. DOHERTY alerted Mr. HUTCHINSON/HUTCHISON by radio of an impending attack by three German fighters, shortly before he was shot down and killed in June, 1943.
Mr. HUTCHINSON/HUTCHISON escaped a similar fate only by outlasting the enemy in a desperate, 20-minute dogfight.
His friend's warning and his own skill saved Mr. HUTCHINSON/HUTCHISON from becoming a wartime casualty. He returned from Europe a decorated pilot and enjoyed a successful business career before dying at home in New Liskeard, Ontario, on June 25, aged 86.
Rowan Theodore HUTCHINSON/HUTCHISON, who was called Bob by childhood Friends and Hutch by fellow pilots, was born in Toronto on May 10, 1917, the only child of an accountant father. He attended Upper Canada College before entering engineering studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario
He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force on August 14, 1940, just as the Battle of Britain was underway. After training, he was posted to No. 401 Squadron, flying Spitfires.
In August, 1942, he was transferred to No. 414 Squadron, known as the Sarnia Imperials, which flew Mustangs from a base at Croydon, Surrey.
On August 19, just eight days after arriving, Mr. HUTCHINSON/HUTCHISON flew a tactical reconnaissance mission during the ill-fated Dieppe Raid.
The Imperials spent the next 12 months flying defensive patrols over the south coast of England, as well as engaging in daytime strafing raids on targets in occupied France.
Flying Officer HUTCHINSON/HUTCHISON returned to Dieppe on the French coast on March 26, 1943, flying low across the English Channel in his Mustang before attacking two locomotives and an electrical transformer.
Typical of the harassment campaign was a mission Mr. HUTCHINSON/HUTCHISON and Mr. DOHERTY flew on April 1, as they scoured the French coast from Fécamp to Dieppe, firing on electric power lines and shooting up two freight engines.
On one such raid, Mr. HUTCHINSON/HUTCHISON and another partner riddled five locomotives in the Le Havre area.
Another time, a strafing run in the Breton coastal region damaged seven locomotives. A wing of Mr. HUTCHINSON/HUTCHISON's Mustang was struck by ground fire. He returned safely to base.
On June 6, 1943, the pair was assigned to escort a naval vessel on a secret mission in the English Channel when Flying Officer DOHERTY spotted a trio of Folke-Wulf 190s just as they launched a surprise attack. His brief radio warning alerted Mr. HUTCHINSON/HUTCHISON to the danger, although DOHERTY's Mustang was almost immediately shot down.
"For 20 minutes HUTCHINSON/HUTCHISON fought off the three enemy aircraft until the German pilots gave up their attacks and flew away," according to an account published in The Royal Canadian Air Force Overseas, an official 1944 history. "Then, despite the fact that his petrol was almost exhausted, the Mustang pilot resumed his patrol over the naval vessel and saw it safely back to port.
"Thanks to DOHERTY's warning and HUTCHINSON/HUTCHISON's gallantry the naval vessel had not been attacked during the engagement."
On landing, it was discovered that Mr. HUTCHINSON/HUTCHISON's Mustang had but a thimbleful of fuel.
The Imperials were redesignated as a fighter reconnaissance squadron later that month, as Allied planners began preparations for an invasion of Europe.
They also took airborne before-and-after photographs of the launch sites for V-1 flying bombs.
Once, Mr. HUTCHINSON/HUTCHISON and Flying Officer B. B. MOSSING were jumped by eight German fighters, although Mr. MOSSING damaged one with a well-placed burst and three more were shot down by Spitfires which came to the rescue of the reconnaissance Mustangs.
On the morning of the D-Day landings, Mr. HUTCHINSON/HUTCHISON's squadron was assigned to spot targets for the naval bombardment of coastal defences stretching from Le Havre to Cherbourg. For Mr. HUTCHINSON/HUTCHISON, it was exactly one year to the day since he had tangled with the trio of FW 190s.
The following days were a blur of predawn briefings, as the squadron flew at first light to photograph mosaics of Caen, France, as well as Luftwaffe airfields. Planners were desperate for information on overnight changes in the battle area.
On Dominion Day, 1944, Mr. HUTCHINSON/HUTCHISON, by now a squadron leader, was made commander of the Imperials. They moved base from Odiham, Hampshire, to Ste-Honorine-de-Ducy, France, in August, replacing their Mustangs with Spitfires. The squadron moved base every few weeks to keep pace with the army's advances.
One of his final achievements was in providing valuable photographs and reports in August, 1944, as the German Seventh and Fifth Panzer armies tried desperately to escape an encroaching Allied encirclement in an area that became known as the Falaise pocket.
Mr. HUTCHINSON/HUTCHISON was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1943 for his "very keen fighting spirit."
After the war, he was prominent in business in New Liskeard, operating a travel agency, an insurance brokerage and a real-estate company. He sat on the board of directors of the Northern Telephone Company Ltd.
He leaves his wife of 54 years, Rosemary (née KERR,) their daughter and two sons, and two grand_sons.

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