Earnest Frederick Redknap (September 1918 – February 1979) was the only son and last child born to Frederick Charles Redknap, a master plumber, and his wife Ellen Maud Redknap who had married in 1904. His mother Ellen Redknap died on September 1, 1934, at Hounslow Hospital, Middlesex. At the time, the family lived at 56 Winton Way, Isleworth and he was looked after and brought up by his sisters, mainly his eldest sister Ellen.
He was involved in the first Commando raids in (Operation Claymore) the Lofoten Islands and then later as a Pilot flying glider drops during the invasion of France (including Operation Market). After the war he remained living with his sister Ellen, in Isleworth until his death in the late 1970s.
Prior to joining the forces just before the outbreak of war, Earnest was a Laboratory Assistant, after the war he went onto be a Chemical Analyst.
He enlisted with the Hampshire Regiment for his basic training before moving to the Royal Sussex 5th Battalion on the 15th of July 1939 and to join the British Expeditionary Force in April 1940, returning home soon afterwards on the 5th of June 1940 possibly one of the last to be picked of the beaches at Dunkirk. His Pay Book describes him as dark haired, 5ft 3 and half inches tall, with dark complexion and brown eyes.
Soon afterwards in July 1940 he joined the 3rd Unit of the newly formed Commandos and went up to Scotland to train before going to the the Lofoten Islands to take part in the Operation Claymore as a Corporal. He was moved to the 4th Unit of the Special Service Battalion aka the Commandos before again moving in March 1942 to the First Glider Pilot Regiment in Tilstead near Salisbury.
He gained his wings and the rank of Sargent, flying a range of small aeroplanes and gliders he took groups of the Soldiers and Commandos into France, Italy and North Africa.
During his training his Pilots Flying Log shows he flew with the following people as Pilot or Co-Pilot, F/O Chapman, F/SGT Billany, W/O Bourne, S/L Sidebottom ,F/O Atkinson, Sgt King, Sgt Mullholland, Sgt Lyon, Sgt Moss, Sgt Pyne, Sgt Murray, Sgt Lovett, F/O Farley, Sgt Clegg, Sgt Hotchkin, F/Sgt Mackie, Sgt Orsi, S/Sgt Wright, F/O Wilson, S/Sgt Bonome, S/Sgt Packett, S/Sgt Cason, S/Sgt Morgan, S/Sgt Jarvis, S/Sgt Carr, F/O West, W/O Booty, S/Sgt Carnett, Sgt Lee, S/Sgt Gordon, Sgt Clark, S/Sgt Johnson, S/Sgt Coates with his last flight as recorded on the 28th of August 1945 after logging around about 270 hours of flight.
He was an Staff Sargent when he left the army after the war.
I have several photos of Earnest with his fellow pilots, some are from the family collection, others from publications such as Glider Pilot Regiments publication the Eagle.
A number of different aircraft are noted as being flown in his log book.
His service record and log book show he was involved with (at least) the following overseas operations
- March 4th 1941 Operation Claymore to the Lofoten Islands as a British Commando.
- May 19th 1944 Exercise BalboIV with Sgt Mulholland as 2nd pilot in Horsa HG 746 ( E Sqdn )
- May 21st 1944 Exercise Consternation with Sgt Mulholland as 2nd pilot in Horsa DP 708 ( E Squadron )
- August 5th 1944 Operation Dingson 35A ( X Flight ) with Sgt Mulholland as 2nd pilot in C.G.4a 273931 ( C Squadron ) 644 and F/O Blake as the Tug Pilot
- September 17th 1944 Operation Market ( X Flight ) with Sgt Mulholland as 2nd pilot in Hadrian 337310 ( C Squadron ) landing near to Nijmegen.
- October 29th 1944 Exercise Essex ( Forced Landing ) with S/Sgt Puckett as 1st Pilot in Hamilcar 819 ( C Squadron )
- December 7th 1944 Exercise Recurrent ( Light Load ) with Sgt Carr as 2nd Pilot in Hamilcar 633 ( C Squadron )
- April 18th 1945 Exercise Conway ( Heavy Load ) with Sgt Lumby as 2nd Pilot in Hamilcar 969 ( O Flight C Squadron )
- Army Flying Badge
- 1939 – 45 Star
- Africa Star
- Italy Star
- France and Germany Star
- Defence Medal
- British 1939-45 War Medal
I would love to hear from anyone who knew my Great Uncle Earnest. If you did, please get in touch with me.
After the war, he returned to working in the lab working in paint research for the Paint Research Association, it seemed a passion and he became the editor of the WSCA (World Surface Coatings Abstracts) their database holds over 300 000 coatings-related abstracts and covers all sorts of information about each.
He drove an MG, which needed a lot of work, but he loved dearly. He lived unmarried with his sister until he passed away.
In one of the many letters that were sent to his sister after his death, one stands out and seems to describe him wonderfully in just a few words. A perfect gentleman.