Doherty DFC, Robert Aubrey Alexander (No. 102594)

Doherty, Robert Aubrey Alexander (Aubrey)

Distinguished Flying Cross

Flight Lieutenant

No. 102594, 608 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Killed in action on Friday 23 February 1945 (aged 27)

No known grave

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England (Panel 265)

Regent House School Newtownards

Queen’s University Belfast

BIOGRAPHY

Robert Aubrey Alexander Doherty was born on 2 August 1917 at Maureen, Cregagh Road, Belfast and he was the only son of Robert John and Sarah Doherty (nee Press) Robert John Doherty who were married on 4 April 1912 in St. Mark’s Church of Ireland Church, Dundela.

Robert John Doherty was an engineering draughtsman and he and Sarah had at least two children:

Esther Maureen Annetta (born 28 February 1914 at Estherville, Ardenlea Avenue, Belfast)

Robert Aubrey Alexander (born 2 August 1917 at Maureen, Cregagh Road, Belfast)

Later the Doherty family lived at Maureen, Cabin Hill Gardens, Knock, Co. Down.

Aubrey Doherty attended St. Columba’s School, Knock and then Regent House School, Newtownards from 1927 until 1934.  After leaving school he went to Queen’s University Belfast to study electrical engineering.  He was employed by Victor Ltd., Car Dealers and played rugby for the Church of Ireland Young Men’s Society (CIYMS).  Aubrey joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in July 1939 and was called up in August 1939.

During the Second World War Aubrey Doherty served as a Sergeant Pilot and completed 14 operational sorties with 102 Squadron.  In April 1941 he was posted to 104 Squadron and completed a further 10 successful sorties including a daylight raid on Brest.  Wing Commander Simonds of 104 Squadron wrote, ‘He has consistently pressed home his attacks with courage, zeal and determination and has proved himself to be an outstanding example of a Sergeant Pilot.  These qualities were recognised in him and the recommendation for his appointment to commissioned rank was approved.  His keenness and devotion to duty have been a sterling example to the other non-commission officer pilots and crews in the Squadron.  I have no hesitation in recommending Pilot Officer Doherty very strongly for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross’.  Aubrey Doherty was appointed to commissioned rank on 7 August 1941 and the award of his DFC was reported in the Third Supplement to The London Gazette of 21 October 1941 (published by authority on 24 October 1941).

On 23 February 1945 Flight Lieutenant Aubrey Doherty (No. 102594) was one of a two-man crew aboard a de Haviland Mosquito Mark XX aircraft (KB350) in the Path Finder Force.  They took off at 6.16 pm from RAF Downham Market in Norfolk and their mission was to fly in ahead of the bombers and pinpoint targets in Berlin.  Their aircraft was lost without trace and the other crew member who died was:

  • Flying Officer Leonard Moore (aged 21) from Blyth, Northumberland

Flight Lieutenant Robert Aubrey Alexander Doherty (No. 102594) had completed more than 65 operational sorties when he died (aged 27) and he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey; in Regent House School Newtownards and in Queen’s University Belfast.