1213956 Sergeant Douglas Edward Froggatt,
Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, 224 Squadron, Coastal Command,
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, RAF St Eval
Douglas Edward Froggatt was born in Leeds in the first quarter of 1921. He was the second son of John Wilmot Froggatt, who was originally from Laisterdyke, in Bradford, and his wife, Annie May Monkhouse. John and Annie had married at St James’s church in Manston in 1916. At the time, John was working as an engineer, but in February 1917, he was called up for the Army, and served until the end of the great War with 2/6th Bn, the Durham Light Infantry, reaching the rank of sergeant. His brother, James, served as a Sapper with the Royal Engineers.
John and Annie’s first son, John William Raymond Froggatt was born at the end of 1918.
The Froggatt family arrived in Scholes in 1930, living on Main Street, above the shop premises next door to the Barleycorn Pub. Mr Froggatt was in business as a coal merchant and general grocer. His sons both worked for their father, and so did Mrs Froggatt’s brother, Edward Monkhouse.
Mr Froggatt was also the sometime Props Master for the Scholes Village Players amateur dramatics group.
Coastal Command of the Royal Air Force operated in a very different way to the other commands, such as Fighter, Bomber and Transport Commands, in that their operational flights were usually undertaken by single aircraft, flying alone, over the sea, far enough from land to be unobserved. The flights undertaken by 224 Sqn were, except for the departures and returns, carried out in darkness, and lasted anything up to 14 hours. The aircraft kept in touch with their home stations by radio, unless there was a danger that enemy ships and submarines would intercept their radio traffic, in which case, they would remain silent, until it was safe to transmit messages. Because of this, Coastal Command aircraft were truly alone in the dark, in a very hostile environment. Many of the operations logs tell of missions being flown at under 1000 feet above the sea. Flying at such low levels gave very little room for error, and it is said that judging height over water, especially calm water on a moonless night is difficult in the extreme. The pilots and crews depended on each other’s vigilance and expertise to keep themselves safe. The missions were both physically and mentally exhausting, and this was managed, to some extent, by limiting the operational flying each crew did. Usually a crew would do no more than two operational sorties in a week, with their training flights being much more frequent. Training acted as a sort of decompression for the crews. It gave them a chance to fly in a relatively safe environment, where they could concentrate more on keeping their skills at their peak of effectiveness than on keeping out of the water while searching the skies for enemy aircraft intent on shooting them down, and scanning the water for enemy vessels which might try to do the same.
Unlike a bombing raid, where the entire squadron would fly in close formation, and casualties could be seen and reported, those flights of Coastal Command either made it home, or they died. Very few crews that ditched in the sea were captured. When an aircraft failed to return from operations, generally, nothing was known of where or how it met its fate, and the crews were posted as ‘Missing from Operations’, but in reality there was little hope of them ever being seen again.