KING – Cecil Percy

Cecil King left the Colony in 1933 at the age of 13, and went to Prior Park College, Bath. He joined the Inner Temple in 1939 to study for the Bar, and entered King’s College, London University, to study for the LL.B. degree. He passed the Intermediate for the LL.B. in 1940.

On the outbreak of; war in 1939, he volunteered for service with the R.A.F. and was called up in June 1940. He received his “‘Wings” in December the same year’ and became a Sergeant Pilot in a Whirlwind Fighter Squadron, with which he has been serving since. He received a commission in 1942 as its Pilot Officer and was awarded the D.F.M. He is now a Flight Officer.

[Source: Saint Stanislaus Magazine, April 1943]


Cecil Percy King

JOHNSON – Basil Lawrence Ivan

Serial Number: 1396487
RAF Trade: Flight Engineer
Date of Enlistment: 1939

Rank Achieved: Warrant Officer
Operational Sorties:  3 Ops with 115 Squadron, 47 ops with 156 Squadron

On 31st August 1941, he left New Providence for England via Miami, New York and Halifax, Nova Scotia from where he sailed to England in a convoy of ships arriving at Liverpool on September 19th 1941.  He spent several days in London and then went to Readcar to be outfitted and spent thirteen months in training and studying.  He passed out as a mechanic and later remustered to fitters course and then to aircrew as a Flight Engineer Air Gunner.   

He first served with the 115 Squadron of Bomber Command and later with Group 8 of 156 Squadron of the elite Path Finder Force, Bomber Command stationed at Warboys Airfield in South West England.

After completing thirty-six operational flights in April 1944 he was recommended and received the prestigious award of the Distinguished Flying Medal (D.F.M.). 

 His Wing Commander in the citation described him –

He is a member of an outstanding Path Finder Force crew, and his resourcefulness and unfailing efficiency have contributed to the aircraft returning to base from raids during which the safety of the aircraft depended upon his knowledge and skill.

He is cool and unruffled under fire and his consistent skill and reliability under harassing circumstances have been inspiring to other members of the crew.

His high sense of devotion to duty made him well worth of the Award of Distinguished Flying Medal.”


Read more about Mr. Johnson’s remarkable life and career at the wonderful website and here:

Basil Johnson 1 Basil Johonson 2

De SILVA – Desmond Michael

R/95750 – Desmond Michael De Silva – W/O – 218 Squadron – KIA 24/08/1943

[Sources: CWGC and RCAF Casualty List 0918 and Chorley’s; courtesy Alieneyes]

W/O De Silva DFM shows up with parents in Flushing, NY. RCAF Casualty List 0918, however, shows W/O Desmond Michael De Silva DFM as being from Georgetown, British Guiana.

CWGC says 218 Squadron but Chorleys has him lost as a rear gunner on a Stirling from No. 623 Squadron. Both list him as an American from Flushing Meadows, NY City.

RCAF Casualty List 0918 and Chorley’s

HAZELL – Vivian Benjamin

1377112 – P/O V.B. Hazell – Jamaica – attested 29.8.40 – Flight/Mech. (‘Jet Eng’?) – commissioned 9.6.44 – DFM

[Source: NA AIR 2/6876 – Nominal Roll of Coloured Candidates, October 1944]

Inscription on the back: To Syd form Viv, Kingston Jamaica, British West Indies 30/4/45
[Photograph courtesy Max Dyson, son of Syd Dyson]

HYNAM – Winston Kitchener (Pony)

Winston Kitchener Hynam, 103 Squadron, was awarded the DFM in November 1942 while Sergeant. He was described as an impurturbable and reliable NCO who has served as Wireless Operator/Front Gunner, and Bomb Aimer. In December 1943, now Pilot Officer with 100 Squadron, he was awarded the DFC. Possibly his RAF numbers: 1283669 when Sergeant and 155808 when Pilot Officer (promoted September 1943?) . He is the only West Indian to hold both the DFM and DFC. Used to be Warden of West Indian Students Centre in Earls Court in 1980.

[Source: AE]

WKH At WESC Opening

Winston seen in the background during the opening of the West Indian Students’ Centre in 1955. He is visible just behind Princess Margaret and companions at the 25sec mark of the report by Pathe News:

[Courtesy Matthew McKinnon]

Winston Hynam flew as Air Bomber in 103 Squadron RAF with Squadron Leader John H. Kennard DFC for 6 ops. [Source: David Fell/ 103 Squadron Website] Military History of Barbados 1627-2007 by Major Hartland Matthew McKinnon is the grandson of Winston Kitchener Hynam. He kindly sent us the photographs below – including images of his logbook. ‘Pony’ Hynam died in 1991 and his widow Doris Hynam passed away in early 2008. They are survived by their daughters Roma and Carole. Mr. McKinnon informs us that Winston was the Warden (and resident, in the top floor flat) of the West Indian Students Centre from 1954 until 1980, where he got to know Cy Grant (who also flew with 103 Squadron) when he would visit. Click on any picture to enlarge.


‘Pony’ Hynam

Pony-2Pony 2
Group 4Air Gunners Course
Group 5
Group 1
Group 2No.50 Bombing Leaders Course, Manby 1943
MissionsList of Missions (2nd tour) RecommendationRecommendation for DFM
Pony & MollyPony & Doris Molynyeaux a.k.a. ‘Molly’, the future Mrs. Hynam

Plaque 2 Plaque 1

LYNCH – Lincoln Orville

Sgt LO Lynch from Jamaica, winner of the Air Gunner’s Trophy for 1944 standing by the rear gun turret of a Lancaster bomber, his right hand resting on the barrel of one of the four machine guns. The Lancaster had three gun turrets, used to defend the aircraft against enemy fighters during long-range bombing raids.

[Source: – Imperial War Museum (IWM) Reference: CH12263]

605500 – L.O. Lynch – Jamaica – Sgt. Air Gunner UK 4.5.43
178235 – P/O – DFM 5.9.44 – commissioned 17.6.44

[Source: NA AIR 2/6876]

Promoted to Flying Officer on 8 May, 1947.

[Courtesy AD]

Sergeant – DFM – based in Yorkshire
[Source: CMHA]
Lincoln Lynch was stationed at Pocklington and billeted with a family in a village outside York. They all featured on a BBC TV programme two or 3 years ago (around 2005) called “We’ll Meet Again”. The three daughters of this family (who had been children at the time) wanted to be reunited with Lincoln. He was brought over here and they all met up on the programme which featured Vera Lynn.[Source: AE; photograph courtesy Mrs. A. Dewjee]

Read more about Lincoln Lynch – and especially his involvement in the US Civil Rights movement from the Johnson-era onwards – on his Wikipedia-page here.

EBANKS – John Hartley Duff

Flight Sergeant/Warrant Officer – DFM

[Source: CG]

John Ebanks








1800655  John Hartley Duff Ebanks joined the RAF in 1941 and served in Europe as a Navigator with 571 Squadron.  Stationed at Downham Market he was part of  the Light Night Striking Force within No. 8 (Pathfinder) Group, flying in Mosquito fighter/bombers.  Prior to joining up, he had been a teacher at Beckford and Smith’s High School (now St. Jago High School) in Spanish Town, St. Catherine, Jamaica.  For more information about his RAF career, see Caribbean Volunteers at War, by Mark Johnson.

On 16 January 1945, it was announced in the London Gazette that Flt. Sgt. Ebanks had been awarded the DFM.  After the war, John Ebanks remained in the RAF and was promoted to Flight Lieutenant (202061), serving in Transport Command.





































VE-dinner, London 1995, from left: John Blair, John Ebanks and an unidentified veteran.

[Photograph courtesy Mark Johnson]

SYLVESTRE – Owen Oscar

Sergeant/Warrant Officer – Pilot – 15 sqn – Lancaster – DFM

ATS; 33 Missions, awarded DFM. Post war RAF Wyton, Lincoln B2

[Source: CG, CMHA]

Owen Sylvestre joined the RAF in 1941 and did his initial training in Canada.

Unlike many black aircrew members who reported encountering no racism or prejudice in the RAF, Owen seems to have been very unlucky in his Commanding Officer. His experiences were recorded in Lest We Forget: The Experiences of World War II Westindian Personnel by Robert N. Murray (Hansib, 1996):

‘Owen Sylvester [sic], a Warrant Officer and Captain of his crew, could never forget the time when he was made to enter and re-enter the Commanding Officer’s office several times on the pretext of his incorrect saluting.  The Warrant Officer had just arrived on the station and was in the act of introducing himself, as well as his crew, who were standing outside, when he formed the opinion that the CO took an instant dislike to him.  The CO satisfied himself that the saluting was in order and, when the crew lined up before him, he said to the Navigator, who was white, “I suppose, you’re the Captain.”  When the Navigator answered in the negative and indicated the Warrant Officer, the CO seemed not to be amused!  He was later overheard to remark: “I know how to deal with these people.  I have experience of dealing with them in India.” Both Sylvester and his crew [all white men], who had every confidence in him, concluded that their future operations would not be easy.’ [p.80]

Owen Sylvestre flew Lancaster bombers and he relates a particularly scary incident in Lest We Forget:   ‘We were going over Stuttgart when, suddenly, I was caught in a “Stall”.  I can’t remember what I did, but I was falling through the sky.  From 22,000 feet I found myself at about 9,000 feet in what seemed like seconds.  The bomb-aimer was put on his tummy, I got caught in the massive searchlights and I had to take evasive action hastily!  The altimeter was whizzing around at an enormous rate; everything seemed to be flying past me and sticking to the ceiling.  It was the only time in my operation I thought I was done for. There wasn’t enough time.  Owing to gravity, I wasn’t in any position to do anything.  I saw one of my friend’s aircraft go down but I was so busy with my own difficulties, I had no time to say “God, bless his soul”.  In desperation I had to get the engineer to pull the joy stick back; fortunately for me and my crew it worked.  I began to level out and gradually regained height, it’s only when I levelled out that I realised what I’d done.  I had no sense of fear, only my sense of duty and my training caused me to escape!’ [p.92]

When he experienced the negative attitude of his Commanding Officer, Owen ‘gritted his teeth and decided to show the CO and his Squadron that he was a good as they were.’  He succeeded in his aim and in 1944 he was awarded the DFM.  The citation for his award reads as follows:

‘Flight Sergeant Sylvestre has now completed an operational tour consisting of 32 sorties totalling 155.25 hours including such targets as Stettin (twice), Kiel (twice), Dortmund, Essen, Bremen and Homberg.  He is an experienced and enthusiastic N.C.O. Pilot, tireless in his efforts in carrying out all sorties however difficult to a successful conclusion. Quite a number of successfully plotted photographs have been brought back as a result of his careful and well-judged approach to the target.  Flight Sergeant Sylvestre, a native of Trinidad, is a very capable Captain who has obtained a very high standard of crew co-operation and gained their fullest confidence.  He has displayed determination, loyalty and consistent devotion to duty, worthy of high praise.  He is recommended for the non-immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Medal.’ (14th November, 1944)

Remarks by Station Commander:
‘A capable and determined Captain who led his crew well and has always shown great keenness, and devotion to duty.  Award Recommended.’

Owen Sylvestre survived the war and settled in Britain.  Like many other ex-airmen, he found it very hard to find employment commensurate with his qualifications and experience.  He wanted to continue flying but in those days airline companies would have had their pick of ex-RAF men and it would have been highly unlikely that they would engage non-white flight crew.  Owen found it hard that he could not become a commercial pilot and compensated by enrolling at the London School of Economics.  When, as an adult, his daughter asked him if he missed flying, he replied “Sometimes when I look up and see a clear blue sky, I long to be up there.”

In 1944, Owen married Hull-born Laureen Goodare at St. Pancras Town Hall. Laureen was a dancer in cabaret in London and during the war she volunteered as a Fire Watcher and was based at Manchester Square.  Their marriage ended in divorce in 1955 and Owen subsequently remarried.

[courtesy Audrey Dewjee]

Wedding of Owen Sylvestre and Laureen Goodare, 1945