Sydney Harold Hunnisett 1914-1975

RAF No. 1444082 1941-1946

Machine Gunner badge

Sydney Hunnisett was my father and never spoke much about his wartime service, particularly not his time in Sicily, even to my mother. Sadly he died long before I got interested in researching my family history, so as far as his wartime service goes I have little more than some photographs, postcards and other mementos from which to go on.

Service Commando badge

In civvy street Syd was an electrician, working for Bobby's, a department store in Eastbourne. In the early part of the war he served in the Local Defence Volunteers, later known as the Home Guard. He was not called up until 1941 and having passed the medical he applied to join the Royal Navy, sailing being one of his passions. However when the papers arrived he was dismayed to find that he was enlisted into the RAFVR. He wrote to complain but was told that as electricians were needed in the RAF he had been specially selected.

Although I applied for his service record I was only able to obtain an outline record of his service, much of which I can't read. However, from various letters and other sources I have pieced together the following rather brief outline of his wartime service:

23 June 1941 Reported to No 2 Recruitment centre, Cardington, Beds.
23 June 1941 Posted to Great Yarmouth – Hut 345 E Squadron 3 Wing.
November 1941 At RAF Henlow, Beds, on Technical training.
Early 1942 433 TT Wing, Credenhill Camp, RAF Hereford.
April 1942 Hut 270B No 7 Site, RAF Defford, Worcs. – he seems to have spent most of the next year here. It was at RAF Defford that the Telecommunications Flying Unit developed and tested new Radar systems.
1 October 1942 Promoted to Corporal.
19 October 1942 Passed CI Rotax Electrical Equipment exams.
16 March 1943 Started training as Service Commando (3204 SC) RAF Martlesham Heath, Ipswich. Also went to Scotland to train for beach landings.
27 June 1943 Embarked for the Mediterranean on SS Ormande – Sailed via Spanish Morocco, Algeria and Malta to take part in the invasion of Italy.
19 July 1943 Landed on Sicily between Syracuse and Augusta and made their way to Pachino.
Commandos in Pachino, Sicily, 1943
Photograph taken in Pachino, Sicily — Syd is 2nd from left, back row
One of his letters from Sicily shows that he was friendly with a Cpl Rex Allot.
30 July 1943 Moved to Lentini where they worked on Spitfires of 152 and 154 squadron.
September 1943 Moved to Messina and from there into Italy landing at Reggio Calabria. From there via Taranto to Gioia dal Colle and a few days later to Lecce.
December 1943 His platoon caught infective hepatitis and spent time in hospital and convalescing.
Syd in Italy, 1944
Syd Hunnisett with Service Commando badge, 1943
February 1944 returned from Italy, arriving at Liverpool on 22 February.
At some point in 1944 he trained on servicing Mosquitos, Mustangs and Spitfires.
24 February 1944 RAF Hawkinge, Kent, the nearest airfield to France.
March 1944 RAF Ford, Nr Arundel, Sussex.
1 September 1944 Married Winifred Winchester in Wimbledon.
21 February 1945 Radar Installation Unit, RAF Coltishal, Norfolk.
7 March 1945 back to RAF Ford.
At RAF Ford, 1945
At RAF Ford, Sussex in 1945 – Syd is 2nd from left, back row
May 1945 with Fighter Command at Great Massingham, Norfolk, servicing Mosquitos of 169 Squadron who were flying intruder missions over Germany, attacking German night fighters and supported the heavy bomber force.
29 March 1946 Demobbed from Cardington, Beds.

I have 3 exercise books with notes made on training courses and meticulous diagrams of electrical equipment and wiring.

One of them, from his initial training in Great Yarmouth, has a list of names, probably others on the same course:

1444078 A D Hankin Gravesend, Kent
1477450 W Grant Stanley Co. Durham
1444083 A E Day East Ham, London E6
1531301 J N Mitchell Ellington, Morpeth, Northumberland
1533919 G E Stow Grantham, Lincs
1533921 A J Scott Radford, Nottingham
1530883 P J Clark Epperstone, Nottingham
1550824 W M H Burnett 4 Lyne Street, Edinburgh
1439066 A R deVillery Clapham, London SW4
1478426 F H Baines 133 Southdown Rd, Harpend, Herts
1443913 A L A Warren Tadlow, Beds.
1444096 M A Rhatigan 57 Mayfield Drive, Caversham, Reading, Berks.
1443516 A Best Stepney, London
1444080 L Dicker Addington, Nr Croydon, Surrey
1444059 F Adams Dagenham, Essex
1444063 L W Prodger Bexley Heath, Kent
1444075 H E Doidge West Ewell, Surrey
1438014 J A Beaumont West Ham E16
1444072 Bob Adams 14 Montpelier Road, Exmouth, Devon
1443922 Ken Nat (Noisy) "Alameda" Wantage Road, Didcot, Berks
1501271 Ken Haynes Middleton, Nr Manchester, Lancs.
1443897 Ronald G Shepherd Bletchley, Bucks.
1407258 Max Sharp Marnhull, Dorset
1531322 R Chatwin Leicester
1531334 J Cockbain Keswick, Cumberland
1444084 A S Arnold 34 Thaydon Road, Clapton, London E5
1440726 John C Aitken 80 Whitefriars Avenue, Wealdstone, Midx.

There is also a list of ground crew, but I have no idea where it is from:

'M' Flight

Sgt Winter – I
Cpl Medley – I
LAC Furness – II
LAC Parker – I
AC Warder – I
AC Walsh – I
AC Blower – II
AC Tubb – I

'A' Flight

Cpl Hunnisett – I
LAC Gravestock – II
LAC Kemp – II
AC Davies – II
AC Osen – II

'B' Flight

Cpl Langridge – I
LAC Nokes – II
AC Evans – I
LAA White – II
AC Wilson – II

These photos were among my father's mementos but have no names attached

airman 1
airman 2
airman 3
airman 4
airman 5
airman 6

If you have any connection with my father's service in the RAF,
especially his time in Sicily,
or can identify any of the people in the photographs,
I would be delighted to hear from you.
Please e-mail me,