STELLA V - MP115
Delivered to Number 5 Maintenance Unit RAF from Gloster Aircraft on the 7th July 1944 under Air Ministry Contract 943 Hawker Typhoon MP115 spent nearly two months being prepared for operations before flying its first operational sortie with 198 Squadron on the 25th August that year. With its Sabre 11A engine of 2,200hp, bubble canopy and four bladed propeller it represented one of the later Mk 1b versions entering front line service at the time. Bearing 198 Sqn's code letters, TP, the aircraft for a short time was designated S, (TP.S) and was flown in support of the Canadian Army, then redesignated X, (TP.X) during late December and for a brief period became the aircraft of Sqn/Ldr N. J. Durrant who was to be the last Commanding Officer of the Squadron.
However, a month later Sqn/Ldr Durrant was allocated another Typhoon, (RB223) which was also designated TP.X and subsequently MP115 was re-allocated to Flying Officer A. L. Bryant with the squadron coding TP.Y. In addition F/O Bryant had the engine cowling personally inscribed with the name Stella V after his girlfriend, (later his wife) and from this time on, and until 198 was disbanded, the aircraft was generally flown by him.
During the course of 198 Squadron's rather short life it had several Hawker Typhoons coded TP.Y, (MN815, lost in action on the 20th of June 1944 and MN877, lost in action on the 19th of August the same year.) To summarise all of the operational sorties that MP115 carried out, (82) between September 1944 and the war's end in Europe at the beginning of May 1945 would be beyond the scope of this website, however to give an overall picture of its career a few of its more noteworthy are briefly covered.
The type of targets attacked by MP115 during the eight months of its operational career along with 198 Squadron as a whole was almost endless, the following received the squadron's attention: E Boats, merchant and naval shipping, canal barges, observation posts, church towers containing snipers, tanks, troops, road transport, gun positions, trains, railway trucks and signal boxes, marshalling yards, Gestapo Headquarters, Military Headquarters, Communication Centres, fortifications, dockyards, aircraft and airfields, factories, lock gates, houses, bridges, radar and V1 sites. Some of these targets were identified by Army observers in forward positions who radioed down standing patrols of Hawker Typhoons to soften up or destroy enemy strongholds and armour. This form of close co-operation between the Army and the RAF became generally known as Cab-Rank.
During October 1944 MP115 was used in several raids on the canal and lock gates at Veere in Western Holland accompanied by F/O Bryant in MN658, (TP.H). At the time of these attacks little did F/O Bryant realise in destroying the lock gates that some weeks later, as the Allies advanced, his brother-in-law in the Royal Engineers would be helping to replace them. (His brother-in-law apparently never allowed him to forget it.) The activities of the Gestapo in Nazi occupied countries led most to despise them and it is perhaps to MP115's and other Squadron aircraft's credit that the Dutch population at Amerongen were rid of their sadistic Gestapo chief when he was killed during a rocket projectile attack on his local headquarters during the 26th February 1945. Possibly for MP115, in conjunction with MN884, (TP.R) its finest hour came when called off the runway to deal with a German gun pit fortification near Deventer, Germany, on the 7th April 1945 that was halting a Canadian Army advance. The target, including ten of its twelve heavy field guns, was completely destroyed. Praised for his part in the attack F/O Bryant subsequently received a Mention in Despatches, he later reportedly said, "Four of us took off to deal with it but only Louis, (F/O L. F. Bastin) and I got there. The enemy threw up everything they had at us, including Grand Pianos!!." Despite their hopeless situation in the last days of the war the Germans could still put up a good fight in some areas.
By the beginning of May 1945 the war in Europe was rapidly drawing to an end and MP115 flew its last sortie on the 4th of that month. F/O Bryant's log book entry for that day simply states, "Went to B150 to operate against shipping in the Baltic, but there were no targets." Then on the 5th he wrote, "Cease Fire, Germany Surrendered Unconditionally." For MP115 the war in Europe was over.
For the next few months the aircraft like the rest of 198's took part in various victory inspections and fly-pasts before being flown back to 84 Group Disbandment Centre stationed at Lasham in Hampshire on the 18th September 1945 from where it was passed on to 51 Maintenance Unit who eventually prepared it for scrapping. The last entry on MP115's RAF Movement Card of 13th March 1947 simply reads, "Sold for metals and alloys."
Converting to Vampire and Meteor jets F/O Bryant continued his RAFVR career until 1952 with the rank of Flight Lieutenant.
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