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Jeaffreson Herbert Greswell

Male 1916 - 2000  (84 years)



  • Name Jeaffreson Herbert Greswell  [1, 2, 3, 4
    Birth 28 Jul 1916  Ashtead Find all individuals with events at this location   [1, 5
    Education abt 1929 - 1934  Repton School Find all individuals with events at this location   [6
    Occupation 1935 -  RAF Officer  [7
    • The following are granted short service commissions as Acting Pilot Officers on probation with effect from and with seniority of Sept. 30:- ... J. H. Greswell ... [London Gazette, 15 Oct 1935]
    • Acting Pilot Officers ... J. H. Greswell ... to No. 5 Training School, Sealand (Oct. 19). [The Times, RAF appointments]
    Marriage 01 Jul 1939  St Mary, Littlehampton Find all individuals with events at this location   [2, 4
    Gwyneth Alice Hayes,   b. 06 May 1916, The Beeches, Beach Rd, Emsworth Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. May 2002, Chiltern district Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Post/Rank/Title 1940  Flight Lieutenant  [8
    Decoration bef 1944  DFC  [9
    Post/Rank/Title 1944  Wing Commander  [9
    Decoration Mar 1944  DSO  [9
    • The King has approved the following awards in recognition of gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations against the enemy:--
      D.S.O. -- Wing Cdr. J. H. Greswell, D.F.C., R.A.F. 179 Sq. ... [9]
    Post/Rank/Title 1955  Group Captain  [10
    • Group Captain J. H. Greswell to Air Ministry for duty in the Department of the Chief of the Air Staff. [10]
    • Coastal Command. -- Group Captain J. H. Greswell to H.Q. for planning duties, Nov. 9 {1959]
    Post/Rank/Title 1962  Air Commodore  [11
    • Member, Dep. Stand. Group Rep., NATO [11]
    Decoration Jun 1962  CBE  [11
    Occupation 1965 - 1968  Commandant, Royal Observer Corps  [12, 13
    Decoration Jun 1967  CB  [12
    Residence Jul 1967  69 The Highway, Stanmore Find all individuals with events at this location   [14
    Death 19 Nov 2000  Chiltern district Find all individuals with events at this location   [5, 13
    Notes 
    • Air Commodore Jeaffreson Greswell, who has died aged 84, was the first pilot during the Second World War to use the Leigh Light, a powerful airborne torch, to illuminate enemy submarines during night attacks.
      In 1941, Greswell had been posted to the Coastal Command Development Unit, where he came into contact with Wing Commander Humphrey de Vere Leigh, who had hunted U-boats in the First World War.
      Greswell was much impressed by Leigh and by the light that he had designed to mount in the gun position of a Wellington. Early trials were successful and in the New Year of 1942, Greswell was selected to command No 1471 Flight based at RAF Chivenor, in north Devon, to introduce the light operationally.
      On the night of June 3-4 1942, Greswell took off from Chivenor in a twin-engine Vickers Wellington bomber of No 172 Squadron. In the Bay of Biscay, he lit up and then depth-charged the Italian submarine Luigi Torelli.
      Greswell's first approach to the Luigi Torelli was frustrated by an incorrect altimeter setting, which meant that his co-pilot, Flying Officer A W R Trigg, was unable to level the beam at the enemy.
      After the altimeter was reset, Greswell took the Wellington to 50ft above the sea and attacked from the starboard beam, dropping two Torpex-filled depth charges either side of the submarine.
      The charges' fuses were supposed to explode at a depth of 25 feet, but they proved defective and the explosions occurred at a greater depth. Even so the submarine's steering gear and compass system were badly damaged, forcing its captain Count Augusto Migliorani to seek refuge in Spanish waters.
      He could not believe his luck when 10 minutes after his attack on the Luigi Torelli, his torch found a second Italian submarine, Morosini. Having already expended his depth charges he went in at 50 feet and attacked with machinegun fire.
      Morosini failed to return from its patrol, but disappointingly for Greswell and his crew, its loss was not ascribed to their attack. As for the Luigi Corelli, though damaged, it ended its war running supplies to the Far East. The Japanese scuttled her in August 1945.
      Though neither submarine had been sunk by his action, Greswell had demonstrated the potential of the Leigh Light and this enabled Air Chief Marshal Sir Philip Joubert, Coastal's commander-in-chief, to obtain early delivery of Leigh Light Wellingtons. Greswell's mission also provided valuable lessons for the future, the most vital being that the attack aircraft's altimeter should always be set correctly.
      For his actions in attacking the two submarines, Greswell was awarded the DFC.
      Jeaffreson Herbert Greswell was born on July 28 1916, at Ashtead, Surrey, and educated at Repton. In 1935 he joined the RAF on a short service commission and in 1937 joined No 217, an anti-submarine squadron.
      After the outbreak of war in 1939, he began flying anti-submarine patrols over the Western Approaches in an operationally obsolescent twin-engine Avro Anson.
      Following his exploit in 1942 over the Bay of Biscay with the Leigh Light, Greswell joined the staff at Coastal Command headquarters. In December he went to the United States to liaise with anti-submarine staff and promote the Leigh Light concept.
      After returning home in the spring of 1943, Greswell served briefly at Coastal's No 19 Group and in June received command of No 179, a Wellington Leigh Light squadron based at Gibraltar.
      The aim of his squadron was to combat the U-boats that were threatening Allied shipping off North Africa and passing through the Straits of Gibraltar. Greswell took part in Operation Swamp which sought to concentrate anti-submarine aircraft wherever a U-boat preyed, and to co-operate with naval anti-submarine vessels.
      In the New Year of 1944 Greswell took part in a typical Swamp sortie. At midnight, he approached U 343, commanded by Oberleutnant Wolfgang Rahn, and released his depth charges at 100 feet.
      His crew observed explosions on the far side of the surfaced U-boat and level with the conning tower. A fellow 179 pilot, Flying Officer W F McDavidson, flew into heavy flak from the U-boat as he was releasing his depth charges, and his Wellington fell blazing into the sea. But Greswell and McDavidson's had between them so damaged the U-boat it was unable to dive. It was subsequently sunk by the naval armed trawler Mull.
      After almost a year with 179, Greswell was posted in April 1944 to Coastal Command headquarters, moving on in July to Coastal's No 18 Group. In July 1945 he returned as a member of the command's air staff.
      There followed a spell in the Far East where in 1946 he liaised with the British Pacific Fleet at Hong Kong and the next year served at Air Command South East Asia (ACSEA) headquarters. As memories of Coastal's contribution receded, Greswell was concerned lest its vital role in defeating the U-boats be forgotten.
      Happily his appointment in 1949 to the staff of the Joint Anti-Submarine School provided an opportunity to press home the mutual benefits of co-operation between the RAF and the Navy.
      Greswell was appointed to the staff of the RAF Flying College, Manby, in 1952. In 1954 he moved to the Ministry of Defence as the RAF representative on the joint planning staff team which drew up plans for the 1956 Suez operation.
      Greswell later maintained that these papers had been disregarded by the politicians, with the result that the Navy was denied the tactical air cover it needed.
      From 1957 to 1959, Greswell was station commander at RAF Kinloss. Later he was standing group representative on the Nato council in Paris. In the four years before his retirement in 1968 he was commandant of the Royal Observer Corps, steering the volunteer organisation through the shoals of change.
      He was fond of croquet and gardening during his retirement near Ringwood in the New Forest.
      In addition to his DFC, he was awarded a DSO in 1944 and was also Mentioned in Despatches. He was appointed OBE in 1946, CBE in 1962, and CB in 1967.
      He married, in 1939, Gwyneth Hayes, who survives him, with a son and two of their three daughters.
      [Daily Telegraph, Obituary, 02 Dec 2000]
    • Serious croquet player [The Times, 07 Jun 1985, etc]
    Person ID I0220  Tatham | Bloxham branch | Descendant
    Last Modified 03 Apr 2012 

    Father William Territt Greswell,   b. 16 Oct 1889, Cuddalore, India Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Feb 1971, Weacombe House, Bicknoller Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 81 years) 
    Mother Gwendolyn Doris Rose Marshall,   b. abt May 1886, Clapton, London Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 26 Jan 1960, North Devon Infirmary, Barnstaple Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 73 years) 
    Marriage 13 May 1914  Christ Church, Galle Face, Colombo Find all individuals with events at this location   [15, 16
    • On the 13th inst., at Christ Church, Colombo, by the Rev. A. E. Dibben, William Territt, son of E. H. Greswell, of Wayfield, Bicknoller, to Gwendolyn Doris Rose, daughter of M. Wilberforce Marshall, of Lagham, Ashtead. [The Times]
    • married 13 May 1924 per Curtis - typo
    Notes 
    • Gwendolyn described as single woman in probate record 17 Jun 1960.
    Family ID F1609  Family Group Sheet

    Family Gwyneth Alice Hayes,   b. 06 May 1916, The Beeches, Beach Rd, Emsworth Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. May 2002, Chiltern district Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 86 years) 
    Engagement 07 Feb 1939    [3
    • The engagement is announced between Flying Officer Jeaffreson Greswell, R.A.F., elder son of Mr. W. T. Greswell, Weacombe House, Taunton, and Mrs. Greswell, Croyde, Devon, and Gwyneth, only daughter of the late Lieutenant-Commander R. C. Hayes, R.N., and of Mrs. Hayes, Norfolk Road, Littlehampton. [The Times]
    Marriage 01 Jul 1939  St Mary, Littlehampton Find all individuals with events at this location   [2, 4
    • On July 1, 1939, at St. Mary's Church, Littlehampton, by the Rev. R. Crawley-Boevey and the Rev. Llewelyn Thomas, Flight Lieutenant Jeaffreson Herbert Greswell, R.A.F., elder son of Mr. W. T. Greswell and Mrs. Greswell, Croyde, Devon, to Gwyneth, only daughter of the late Lieutenant-Commander C. Hayes, R.N., and Mrs. Hayes, Norfolk Road, Littlehampton. [The Times]
    Children 
     1. Living
    +2. Living
    +3. Living
     4. Gaylinda Greswell,   b. 07 Aug 1948, Changi, Singapore Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. child
    Last Modified 03 Apr 2012 
    Family ID F1610  Family Group Sheet

  • Event Map Click to display
    Link to Google MapsBirth - 28 Jul 1916 - Ashtead Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsEducation - abt 1929 - 1934 - Repton School Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarriage - < - 01 Jul 1939 - St Mary, Littlehampton Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarriage - 01 Jul 1939 - St Mary, Littlehampton Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - Jul 1967 - 69 The Highway, Stanmore Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDeath - 19 Nov 2000 - Chiltern district Link to Google Earth
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  • Sources 
    1. [S02] BMD Index, birth reg Epsom, 3Q1916.

    2. [S02] BMD Index, marriage reg Worthing, 3Q1939.

    3. [S05] The Times, forthcoming marriages, 07 Feb 1939.

    4. [S05] The Times, marriage notice, 05 Jul 1939.

    5. [S02] BMD Index, death reg Chiltern, Nov 2000.
      b 28 Jul 1916

    6. [S11] Newspaper, Daily Telegraph.
      obituary

    7. [S05] The Times, RAF appointments, 05 Nov 1935.

    8. [S05] The Times, birth notice, 24 Sep 1940.
      dau Sherril

    9. [S05] The Times, RAF awards, 29 Mar 1944.

    10. [S05] The Times, RAF appointments, 16 Aug 1955.

    11. [S05] The Times, birthday honours list, 02 Jun 1962.

    12. [S05] The Times, Birthday Honours List, 10 Jun 1967.

    13. [S11] Newspaper, Daily Telegraph, 02 Dec 2000.
      obituary

    14. [S05] The Times, forthcoming marriages, 24 Jul 1967.
      dau Chesney

    15. [S04] H Curtis: Notes for a Pedigree of the Tathams of Co. Durham.

    16. [S05] The Times, marriage notice, 20 May 1914.