Pilot Officer Irven Granger McDaniel was from Hot Springs, Arkansas, USA. Conflicting information records that Irven was born April 24th 1923. It is believed he left high school in order to study architecture but ended up joining the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was in the UK by January 1942 and initially based near Bournemouth, before undertaking further training.
I have not managed to find any information on Irven’s early training in the UK, what information I have discovered however is that he trained on Vickers Wellingtons at No.12 Operational Training Unit based at RAF Chipping Warden before posting to No.1651 Conversion Unit RAF Waterbeach on June 23rd 1942. Conversion lasted until July 2nd when the crew were posted to No.218 Squadron which at the time was based at RAF Downham Market and equipped with the four engine Short Stirling Mk.I.
Pilot Officer McDaniel’s first operation on July 13th was in the 2nd pilot role to the experience Sergeant Sidney Falconer DFM*, the crew were briefed to attack Duisburg. Airborne at 00:25 hours in Stirling BF315 HA-“F” the crew successfully bombed the target dropping their bomb load by aid of illuminating flares, weather conditions were fine giving the crew the opportunity to view a number of fires in the target area. Three days later Irven again occupied the right hand seat when he flew with the squadron commander, Wing Commander Paul Holder DFC. South African born Holder had assumed command of the squadron in January and this was to be his 14th and last operation as commanding officer. Airborne at 18:55 hours in Stirling N3763 HA-Q the crew were tasked with attacking the northern port of Lubeck. The crew were lucky to survive (see combat Report). On July 19th Irven was again airborne and once again occupying the co-pilots seat. The target was the important Vulkan U-boat facility at Vegesack. Skipper of R9354 HA-N was Irishman Pilot Officer George McAuley DFC.** The trip was only partially successful due to the failure of the aircrafts TR1335 over the target area, the crew reported only two small fires upon their return.There followed a period where Irven does not appear on the squadron, sadly the Posting In / Out documents for the squadron are missing, however it is a good probability Irven was sent on a quick course before commencing operations as a captain.
Pilots Officer McDaniel’s first and last operation as captain was undertaken on August 18th, the target was the important coastal port of Flensburg. Airborne at 21:07 hours in Stirling W7618 HA-V the crew were attacked by Uffz Friedel Krause of 8/.NJG1 at 00.48hrs over the North Sea west of Esbjerg. Such was the damage to the aircraft that Irven was forced to ditch. Only three crewmen survived, Irven, bomb aimer Sergeant Carly Arthur Powell RNZAF and mid upper gunner Sergeant William Wilkinson, who managed to clamber aboard the Stirling’s dinghy. After three days afloat the Danish fishing boat E 28 “Dania” out of Esbjerg chanced upon the crew at around 15:30 hours position 21 miles to the north west of Gasbøjen (the entrance to Esbjerg harbour). The Dania’s Skipper Marinus Christensen pulled alongside the dinghy and took aboard the three bedraggled airman who were by now starting to show signs of exposure, safely aboard the Dania headed to her home port. When ”Dania” reached the German Vorpostboot in the shipping route off Skallingen, a German patrol launch met the Dania and three German marine sailors boarded and kept guard until the ship had entered Esbjerg’s harbour. At around 19:50 hours Dania pulled alongside the harbour jetty where it was immediately boarded by Oberfeldwebel Sigge from the German Küstenüberwachungsstelle and a guard of marines. They took the airmen to the Küstenüberwachungsstelle, from where they are believed to have been handed over to the Luftwaffe at Esbjerg airfield.It would appear that the Stirling’s gunners inflicted damage to Uffz Krause Bf110, on its way back to its base at Schleswig the Bf 110D-3 crashed a couple of kilometres north of Tønder shortly after 01:10 hours while attempting an emergency landing killing Krause and his Bordfunker Ufft Heinz Wilting. Short Stirling Mk.I W7618 HA-V was taken on charge by 218 on August 12th, it had flown only 4 hours 15 minutes when lost. Irven spent the remainder of the war a Prisoner of War in various camps in Germany. He returned to America post war and returned to architecture.
* On the 18th September 1942, Sergeant Sidney Godfrey Falconer DFM was posted on completion of his first operational tour to No.21 Operational Training Unit, Moreton-in-Marsh. Falconer returned to operations in 1943 with No.214 Squadron where he was awarded the D.F.C in October 1943, he was killed while flying as a passenger in a Horsa glider of No.81 Operational Training Unit which at the time was part of No.38 Group on May 8th 1944.
** Pilot Officer George McAuley DFC and crew fell victim to Lt Rolf Bussman of 9./NJG3 crashing into the sea on August 20th 1942 while mining. There were no survivors from Stirling W7615 HA-M, their target was the “Forget-me-Not” mining are near Kiel Harbour. He was on his 19th operation.
I would like to thank Jennifer Welch for the photograph (A) and Irven’s daughter Diana for photograph (B) .