University of Oxford
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Ernest 'Chick' Hicken's RAF Coastal Command Memories

online resource
posted on 2024-06-05, 19:59 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

During the Second World War, my Great Uncle 'Chick' (Ernest Dowen Hicken) served with Coastal Command in the RAF. He initially flew in Hampden bombers with 489 (RNZAF) Squadron as a Flight Sergeant with the role of wireless operator/air gunner. On the 10th August 1943, whist flying to Iceland from Wick in northern Scotland, his aircraft suffered a forced landing in Iceland during an anti-shipping sortie and no message could be transmitted home. With the crew were presumed missing, my Great Aunt Norah initially presumed the worst, but later received a pleasant surprise when 'Chick' returned home safely.

In 1944, 'Chick', now a Flight Lieutenant, was transferred to 228 Squadron flying Sunderland flying boats from Pembroke Dock. By now he was a radar operator (or SE Op according to his logbook) and flew regular patrols over the Bay of Biscay hunting for U-boats.

By 1945, he was flying Vickers Warwick aircraft with 179 Squadron, still on anti-submarine patrols, but also conducting air-sea-rescue missions when required.


Item list and details

1. Portrait photograph of Flight Lieutenant Ernest Dowen Hicken, also know as 'Chick'. 2. A squadron photograph of 489 (RNZAF) Squadron with a Hampden bomber in the background (circa late1942/early1943). 3. A close-up of the squadron photograph with 'Chick' in the centre of the first row of standing personnel. 4. Ernest's logbook showing his entry regarding the forced landing in Iceland on the 10th August 1943. 5. Ernest's logbook showing entries whilst serving with 228 Squadron including anti-submarine patrols over the Bay of Biscay in 1944. 6. Ernest's copy of 'So Few: The Immortal Record of the Royal Air Force' by David Masters, 1943, Eyre and Spottiswoode, London.

Person the story/items relate to

Ernest Dowen Hicken, nickname 'Chick'.

Person who shared the story/items

James Alexander Graham Robertson

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

He was my Great Uncle.

Type of submission

Shared at Malvern Library, Worcestershire on 13 May 2023.

Record ID

109130 | MAL001