Victor Alean (Vic) HODGKINSON DFC, MiD

HODGKINSON, Victor Alean

Service Number: 463
Enlisted: 25 January 1937
Last Rank: Wing Commander
Last Unit: Aircrew Training Units
Born: Ashfield, New South Wales, 17 October 1916
Home Town: Richmond (NSW), Hawkesbury, New South Wales
Schooling: Sydney Technical College
Occupation: Professional AIr Force Officer Post War Commercial Flying Boat Captain
Died: Natural Causes, Lymington, Hampshire, United Kingdom, 20 November 2010, aged 94 years
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
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World War 2 Service

25 Jan 1937: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman, SN 463, Aircrew Training Units
1 Oct 1939: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Air Cadet, SN 463, Aircrew Training Units, Empire Air Training Scheme
26 Dec 1939: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Lieutenant, SN 463, No. 10 Squadron (RAAF), Battle of the Atlantic - RAN and RAAF Operations
1 Feb 1943: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Squadron Leader, SN 463, No. 20 Squadron (RAAF), Air War SW Pacific 1941-45
31 Mar 1944: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Wing Commander, SN 463, No. 40 Squadron (RAAF), Air War SW Pacific 1941-45
17 May 1946: Discharged Royal Australian Air Force, Wing Commander, SN 463, Aircrew Training Units, RAAF Station Rathmines (Flying Boat Base and School)

Help us honour Victor Alean Hodgkinson's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Steve Larkins

This article extracted from a Daily Telgraph (UK) obituary


Victor Alean Hodgkinson was born at Ashfield, a suburb of Sydney, Australia, on October 17 1916 and educated at Sydney Technical High School.

He enlisted in the RAAF on 25 January 1937 and was later selected for aircrew training.  After becoming a pilot with the RAAF he posted to a seaplane conversion course,  At that time the RAAF operated catapult launched Supermarine Walrus seaplanes from the RAN's cruisers.

Vic however was destined to join No 10. Squadron(RAAF)  which in 1939 was despatched to the UK to take delivery of six Short Sunderland four engined flying boat maritime patrol airctaft.  Vic was posted to the UK to undertake conversion training.

Thus he was in Britain at the outbreak of war and, when the Australian government ordered No. 10 (RAAF) Squadron to assist the war effort, Hodgkinson soon joined it.  

He flew his first operation in March 1940, followed by many convoy patrols. He was particularly busy during the evacuation of British forces from France in June 1940. On June 19 his aircraft took the Colonial Secretary, Lord Lloyd, to Bordeaux to try to persuade Admiral Darlan not to allow French warships to fall into German hands. The delegation did not receive a warm welcome.

In December, flying from Oban, Scotland, Hodgkinson made a determined but unsuccessful attack on a submarine, which he had encountered while supporting a convoy. Two months later he had another encounter with a U-boat, which he depth-charged and forced to dive. This gave the convoy he was protecting time to steam clear of the danger area and an escorting corvette carried on the attack and drove the U-boat away.

On April 28th 1941, Hodgkinson was returning from a long patrol short of fuel at might and in dense fog. His Sunderland flying boat crashed into the Irish Sea and broke up, killing six of his crew. The five survivors spent the next 10 hours in a three-man dinghy before they were rescued. This patrol is described in great detail in the 'Lost on Ops' link in the sidebar.

On his final patrol, on December 23, Hodgkinson was over the Bay of Biscay when he sighted an 8,000-ton tanker heading into the Atlantic. When he challenged the vessel, she responded with a false name. After his headquarters radioed him to attack, he dropped six depth charges and two bombs, scoring a hit which caused the tanker to list.

His aircraft was damaged by anti-aircraft fire and forced to return to Plymouth, but Hodgkinson’s sighting prompted a determined hunt, and over the next 24 hours the tanker was shadowed and attacked. After being struck by a torpedo, she was forced to beach on the Spanish coast. The ship turned out to be Benno, a captured Norwegian oil tanker being used to refuel U-boats at sea.

After his tour of duty in Britain, for which he was mentioned in despatches, Hodgkinson returned to Australia and joined 20 (RAAF) Squadron, flying Catalina flying boats. Based in the north of Queensland, he attacked Japanese shipping around New Guinea and bombed targets in the Solomon Islands. The Catalina was also used to drop supplies to the Allied “coast-watchers” in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Some of these flights were of 25 hours duration.

After completing 44 long-range operations in the south-west Pacific campaign, Hodgkinson was awarded a DFC and sent as chief flying instructor to a flying boat training unit.

Towards the end of the war he formed and commanded 40 (RAAF) Squadron flying Sunderlands from Port Moresby, New Guinea.

He left the RAAF in May 1946 and returned to England, where he joined BOAC as a pilot. Hodgkinson flew the airline’s civil Sunderland conversions (Hythes, Sandringhams and Solents) before, in 1950, transferring to Argonauts and Britannias. He was one of the early Comet captains, and finished his flying career on the Boeing 707. He retired in 1971, having amassed 19,300 hours, including some 4,300 hours on flying boats.

Hodgkinson and his wife settled at Lymington, Hampshire, where he helped restore a Short Sandringham flying boat which became the central exhibit at the Southampton Hall of Aviation, of which he was a trustee.
He married in 1941, and his wife survives him with their three sons, two of whom followed him into British Airways. 

He features in an excellent documenetary called 'Flying Boats in Australia' attached as a link to the No. 10 Squadron unit page.