O'Neill, Hugh Francis 'Peggy'

    Date of birth:
    1920
    Service number:
    41312
    Nationality:
    British (1801-present, Kingdom)

    Biography

    Peggy O’Neill was commissioned in the Royal Air Force in August 1939 and was posted to No. 224 Squadron which was a Coastal Command unit. During his time with No. 224 he flew reconnaissance missions and escort duties including the attack on Skarvanger Aerodrome and Scharnhorst.
    In the Autumn of 1940 he was made Instructor in Oxfords and Paratroop Training in Whitleys. After some further postings O’Neill joined 238 Squadron in May 1941 flying Hurricanes. The squadron was transferred to Egypt where he made several claims against BF 109's and He 111's.
    Mid January 1943 he was stationed at Malta and attached to 1435 Fighter Squadron. The Squadron flew specially adapted Spitfires carrying two 250 lb bombs mounted on wing-racks. O'Neill flew several attacks such as a bombing attack on Syracuse on April 4th, 1943. In June 1943 sorties undertaken included more bombing raids over Sicily prior to the invasion of the island.
    O'Neill was posted to the UK in October 1943 where he was stationd at the Air Staff of Headquarters 9 Group, Fighter Command for the next year, although he flew some operational sorties in August and September 1944 against targets in Holland.
    He was appointed as CO of No. 322 Fighter (Dutch) Squadron in November 1944 initially flying out of Biggin Hill but later from Woensdrecht in Holland.
    Peggy O'Neill remained in the RAF after the war and retired form the Service in March 1966.

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    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Pilot Officer
    Awarded on:
    July 30th, 1940
    Recommendation:
    "This Officer has flown 360 hours operational flying since commencement of War. He has shown great courage and determination and is full of fighting spirit.
    On 15.4.40 he flew his aircraft with great determination to Stavangar aerodrome, 300 miles across the North Sea. It was dark, and a gale wind blowing accompanied by heavy showers of sleet. Very heavy A.A. fire was encountered, which included chain shells which burst into groups of bluish-white stars which again exploded. In spite of this opposition the bombs were dropped on the corner of the aerodrome in which the hangar stood, causing considerable damage. The pilot and navigator made commendably detailed observations of the ground defences, and on their return were able to plot these on photographs. On 16.4.40 this officer carried out a most successful reconnaisssance of Bergen, Birkeland and Arne. Much important information was obtained, and some excellent photographs taken from low altitude. Towards the end of the reconnaissance two enemy ME 109’s were sighted but by making skilfull use of the contours of the country the pilot managed to avoid detection and so returned safely with the information he had obtained. On 18.4.40 when on escort duty to H.M.S. Suffolk and four Destroyers he attacked and drove off a DO.215 which was attempting to attack the ships and later by circling the surface vessels kept off another DO.215 until the arrival of 3 Skaus who drove the enemy off.
    On 23.4.40 while on reconnaissance of Romsdale Fjord was fired on by shore battery at Asndalsness, A/C sustained 3 direct hits inflicting severe damage to the starboard wheel, tanks were punctured and approximately 100 gals of petrol and 12 gals oil lost. In spite of loss of fuel and damage to A/C, this officer made a successful return flight across the North Sea and made a safe landing.
    On 12.6.40 carried out bombing raid on shipping in Bergen Harbour, direct hit obtained with 4250 lb and 3 incendiaries on Lakswaag Docks, on leaving target fire was observed growing in intensity, fire was observed near docks in water probably a ship. Heavy A.A. fire was encountered during raid.
    This officer, during his operational work has shown a high standard of gallantry and by returning his A/C and crew safely to base after engagement with the enemy shows a high standard of skill and determination."
    Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Pilot Officer
    Awarded on:
    January 1st, 1941
    Mentioned in Despatches
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Acting Squadron Leader
    Unit:
    Reserve of Air Force Officers, No. 1435 Squadron (Reserve of Air Force Officers, No. 1435 Squadron)
    Awarded on:
    October 11th, 1943
    Recommendation:
    "S/Ldr. O’Neill assumed command of No. 1435 Squadron on 10th March 1943, and during his tour of duty in Malta has led the Squadron with great success. He has also on a number of occasions led the Wing in which his Squadron was a Unit.
    On 22nd March, 1943, he led the Squadron in a low level attack on a factory in Sicily upon which direct hits were obtained.
    Again on 15th, 23rd, 27th, and 29th, June, 1943, he led the Squadron in fighter bomber attacks on targets at Comiso, Pozzallo and Gerbini, direct hits being scored on each occasion. In addition he has attacked and damaged a tank landing craft off Augusta and a schooner off Syracuse. He has completed 912 operational flying hours, 92 of which have been flown from Malta. His operational flying has involved 350 operational sorties, 8 of which he has carried out from Malta including sweeps, escorts to bombers, fighter bomber raids on enemy territory and intruder sorties. His total score to date is 2 and half enemy aircraft destroyed and 5 damaged.
    S/Ldr. O’Neill is a determined leader and sets an example to his pilots by his courage and determination."
    Second DFC awarded as a bar for on the ribbon of the first DFC.
    Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Squadron Leader
    Unit:
    No.322 (Dutch) Squadron, Royal Air Force
    Awarded on:
    December 19th, 1947
    Vliegerkruis (VK)
    Recommendation:
    "Gallantry, leadership and determination displayed in action against the enemy during a number of flights in an aeroplane in the period of half a year, in his function of Commander of 322 Dutch Squadron of fighter-aircrafts. His devotion and willingness to join issue with the enemy at all times, have been an example to the Dutch Flying-men under his command."
    Royal Cecree No.25, dated December 19th, 1947.
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    With "FRANCE AND GERMANY" bar.
    Atlantic Star
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    With "NORTH AFRICA 1942-43" bar.
    Africa Star

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