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#2930885 - 01/01/10 05:51 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: orkan]  
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Part 43 and Happy New Year.

October, 1940

BOMBING BERLIN

BY A SERGEANT PILOT

This account of a raid on Berlin is by an Irish sergeant-pilot who was recently awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for good work done over Germany. More recently still he carried out a daring attack against an important military objective in Berlin.

If a bomber crew are to be successful in all they undertake it is essential that they should work as one man. My crew are an excellent team and that is one of the main reasons why we were able to pull this attack off satisfactorily. When I was at school I was often told that if an Irishman, a Scotsman and an Englishman lived together in one room it would not be long before they fell out. I am glad to say that this does not apply to my team, perhaps because there are two Irishmen to keep the peace.

So much depends on the navigator that it is just as well that I should tell you straight away that it is he who comes from the same country as myself. The rear gunner is the Scotsman and the wireless operator the Englishman. The rear gunner and myself are more or less R.A.F. "veterans". We have both been in the service about five years. The navigator joined up straight from school and the wireless operator gave up his job as a clerk to undertake what he calls "more exciting work".

This was my first official visit to the German capital. I was over it once before, but that was after I had been attacking a target at Stettin. Afterwards we all thought it would be rather fun to make the Berliners go underground, so on our way home we flew over the city and made the ground defences waste a lot of energy and ammunition for nothing. But the flight I am going to tell you about was a great deal more thrilling than the raid on Stettin.

This time on our arrival over Berlin we ran into a fierce barrage; shells were bursting all over the place, but in spite of this we spent about forty-five minutes over the capital before we dropped our bombs. We explored the city thoroughly and eventually found the target we were after.

All the time I was manipulating the stick, the navigator was busy getting a decent pinpoint, while the other two members of the crew were giving me advice on which way to go in to avoid the ack-ack. We were then fairly high up, but the shells were still bursting pretty close to us. None of them actually rocked the aircraft, but two were close enough for us to hear them burst.

There was a slight ground haze over the city but the moon penetrated it and showed up all we wanted to see. Suddenly, through the intercommunication system and above the roar of the engines, I heard the navigator say: "I am sure that's the target." Having complete confidence in him, I had no hesitation in shoving the stick forward and the nose of the aircraft down. Just before we went down I said to the crew: "All right, down we go," and just as we started I thought of my crew hanging on for dear life. We had been talking about dive attack for at least an hour before we got to Berlin. During the dive, which was made at a good speed, I had the target in the gun-sight and I held it there. All the time the target was getting bigger and bigger. Then I shouted "let them go" and the bomb-aimer pressed the button. As soon as the bombs burst all the anti-aircraft guns opened up and every ten or twelve seconds we felt the most colossal bumps and the machine was jockeyed about all over the place. At first I started to climb, then to avoid the shells I had to dive again, then climb, then go from side to side, then do stall turns, then up, then another dive. This business of going up and down went on five or six times. One thing I am certain of is that I wouldn't dare to throw the aircraft about in daylight as I did that night.

At one moment I saw a balloon go up in flames. Fire from the guns on the ground must have hit it. Actually I did not see the balloon until it caught fire; there was a flash and the whole thing was ablaze. We were only thirty yards away at the time and the cable down, whilst some of the burning fabric was sliding right in front of us. One of the chaps said that it reminded him of the Indian rope trick. In the end the cable fell clear of us, and we all thought afterwards what a good thing it was that a shell had hit it. Twenty minutes later we were right out of the barrage and setting course for home.

Pics have nothing to do with the story this week.
A couple of shots of Me 110s as they feature heavily in Olegs SoW updates - real ones though.


Hauptmann Reinecke of Stab 1./ZG 76, about to start up his 110.


110Cs of ZG 26 en route for England.


My 'Waiting for Clod' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell, 1872 - 1970.
Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanour. Robert A. Heinlein, 1907 - 1988.
Inline advert (2nd and 3rd post)

#2935375 - 01/08/10 05:19 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 44. A long one this week talkative yanks!

October, 1940

STORY BY A PILOT OFFICER OF THE AMERICAN EAGLE SQUADRON

The Eagle Squadron is a squadron composed of pilots from the United States who have come to this country to help in the Battle of Britain. The story following is by a young pilot officer who hails from California. He took part with a British squadron in the great air battle on September 15th when the German Air Force lost 185 aircraft. He has had many adventures since he left his peaceful sunny California.

I expect it must seem a long hop from guiding visitors round the movie studios in Culver City to fighting in an eight-gun Spitfire over London. But that's just how it happened to me, and all within a little more than a year, with some exciting adventures in between.

It was only my second air fight when I helped rout Goering's mass attack on September 15 th. And I had the good luck to shoot down my first raider.

During the battle, the air over Surrey, Kent and Sussex, was full of bombers and fighters. At 20,000 feet I met a formation of Me.s 110. I gave one a burst and saw him giving out smoke. But I lost him in the cloud before I could press home my attack.

Then below me I saw a big Dornier 215 bomber trying to seek the safety of some clouds. I followed it down and gave it a long squirt. Its left motor stopped and its right aileron came to bits. Smoke was pouring from it as the bomber disappeared in cloud. I followed. Suddenly the clouds broke and on the ground I saw a number of crashed aircraft. It was an amazing sight. They had all crashed within a radius of about twenty miles from our fighter station. My Dornier was there too. I was quite sure I could see it. A little later I learned that the Intelligence Officer's report on the damage to the crashed Dornier agreed with my own, so I knew I had claimed my first definite German victim.

That was a great day for England. I thought this little island was going to sink under the weight of crashed enemy planes on that day. And was I proud to be in the battle! It was the fulfilment of a year's ambition.

But let me go back and tell you the story of this momentous year.

My home is in Hollywood. It was in the wonderful Californian climate that I was born, educated and learnt to fly. I don't suppose there are more than seven days in a year when you can't take the air in California. I learnt to fly at the Mine Fields, Los Angeles. I was always pretty keen on flying and whenever there were no classes at school I hurried out to the airfield to put in all the time I could learning about aircraft and their vices. My instructors were mostly army people. I went through the various graduations and by July last year I was a fully qualified charter pilot.

For nearly two months last year I flew parties up to the High Fierres in California on hunting and fishing expeditions. It was pretty tricky flying, because you get some fierce down draughts and you can't be too careful.

I had a civilian job of course in the M.G.M. studios at Culver City; I finally acted as guide for visitors to the studios. I used to meet all the film stars and found them nice ordinary folk. But my studio jobs didn't keep me from flying and in the winter of 1939 I took a course in aerodynamics at evening school.

Then a number of us met Colonel Sweeney, whose name you will know from his association with the Escadrille Lafayette in the last war. With him we decided it would be a grand idea to form a flight and go out and fly for Finland. But, I guess, that war was over before we could get going.

In May of this year we decided to form a squadron of all American flyers, another Escadrille Lafayette. The adventure was off.

Several of us went by train from Los Angeles, through the States to Canada. Finally we finished up at Halifax, Nova Scotia, where we got split up. I joined a large French motor vessel, which was part of a big convoy sailing for France. My boat could do about sixteen knots but she had to travel at only six. In front of us was a boat with 400 mules on board. The stench from the mules was something awful and so was the weather. We had pursuit planes, bombers, and munitions of all sorts on board, cargo worth in all about seven and a half million dollars. We rolled and pitched all the way across the Atlantic and were mighty thankful after seventeen days to tie up at St. Nazaire.

All our plans went hay-wire at St. Nazaire. I had no passport and had lost my birth certificate. Naturally the French treated me with suspicion.

Incidentally, there's a story about that birth certificate. In all my journeys up and down France, I stuck to an old shirt just in case I wanted a spare one any time. Only last week I took out that shirt and from it dropped my birth certificate.

The next thing was to get to Paris and meet the rest of the boys. I took three and a half days to reach the capital and there I met my friends who had disembarked at Bordeaux. Just outside Paris while in the train I had my first experience of being bombed. The scream of the bombs dropping on the suburban houses from about 20,000 feet was awful.

We made our way to the French Air Ministry, saw high officials there, and were given our physical examination. The French didn't hurry, and we were in and out of the Ministry for three days. They kept telling us that all would be well and that we would be flying any day soon. Actually we spent a whole month in Paris, doing nothing, for nothing could be done for us.

Then suddenly one day we realised that Paris was going to be evacuated. As the Air Ministry had gone, we made up our minds to get going as wellto Tours. A pall of smokewhich might have been a smoke screencovered the city and you couldn't see more than a block away. There must have been 10,000 people at one station, all patiently waiting for trains to take them to safetystaunch solemn queues all round the station, men, women and children.

It took us a day and a half to reach Tours and it was an awful journey. Sometimes we had to ride between the cars to get a breath of fresh air. But there was no panic among the refugees, just fear and depression. We didn't lose a bit of luggage on this journey. We spent a week at Tours and were bombed by Heinkels and Dorniers every day. There was a pretty big party of us by now, most of them belonging to the French Air Force. We left Tours by bus for Chinon about an hour's ride away. We got away just in time, for the Nazis bombed and machine-gunned the main bridge out of Tours just as it was packed with refugees. The bridge was completely destroyed and very many refugees were killed.

Things weren't looking at all good. We were tired and food was getting scarce. We set out for Arcay about four hundred of us of all ranks, and from there walked another fifteen miles to Air Vault. Our boots were completely worn out, and we had no food and no water. Dog-tired, we lay down in some fields at Air Vault, but not for long. At nearly midnight we were ordered by an elderly French officer to get going once again, this time to Bordeaux. It took us three and a half days in a packed train to reach Bordeaux, and when we got there we found that the French Air Ministry could do nothing for us. We Americans were pretty sore by this time and thought that the best thing we could do would be to take some aircraft and fly to England. But that little plan didn't come off and we began our travels again determined to get out of the country.

Our little bunch went by bus to Bayonne. The British consul had left. We had no money and were starving. Eventually we made our way to St. Jean-de-Luz and were lucky enough to get the American consul. He was a fine guy and treated us pretty handsomely. But he told us the situation was pretty bad and advised us to quit. There was a crowd pouring into St. Jean-de-Luz and the quay side was crowded with refugees. They came any old way they could, in cars, on motor-cycles and cycles. The cycles they did not bother to park but simply threw them in the water.

We boarded a British ship, Baron-Nairn, a little old-timer of seven knots. We were a mixed crowd on board. Our number included seven hundred Polish refugees. A tragedy occurred as
we were going on board. We had only one suit-case between our little bunch. The handle came off and into the water she went with all our belongings. All the extras I had then was a pair of shorts and a couple of shirts. We sailed across the Bay of Biscay. It was a three-day journey and all we had to eat was a dog-biscuiteven the one dog on board wouldn't eat them. The boat had no cargo and rolled pretty badly. But the crew were rather kind and did all they could for us.

Eventually we made Plymouth, although I thought at one time we were bound for South Africa judging by the ship's course.

I guess we weren't too popular at Plymouth. We had no papers and we were evacuated straight away to London. We were put in an ice skating rink and had to stay there for three days. We weren't allowed out at all. We rang up the Air Ministry, who sent round an officer to see us. He was very kind but didn't hold out much hope that the Air Force could use us at the moment.

We talked it over between us and made up our minds to return to America. We rang the Embassy who sent round a representative to see us. He got our particulars, checked them over with Washington, fixed us up with passages to America and lent us 1 5 for food and clothing. It looked as if the adventure was over.

Then, I forget how, we met a very fine English lady, who after hearing our story told us she was sure that a friend of hers, a well-known member of Parliament, could do something for us. We met him next day in the Houses of Parliament and he sent us to the Air Ministry. We were given our physical examination at once. All passed, and so we were in the Volunteer Reserve of the Royal Air Force for the duration of the war.

We felt pretty good when we went to the American Embassy. The officials there were mad with us at first for upsetting all the arrangements, but we soon smoothed that out. Things moved rapidly. Three of us, all in R.A.F. uniforms, were sent north to an Officers' Training Unit. I had not flown for two months, but after twenty minutes in an advanced trainer I was put into a Spitfire.

After twenty hours' flying in Spitfires I was attached to a station in the south, just in time for the opening of the big Blitz. But I had several weeks' training before I became operational, that is, fit to fight. And I guess my first fight was lucky.

I was patrolling high over an English port on the South Coast when I saw some Me.110s. I went into them and hit the first guy with my first burst. He was quickly lost in cloud. Then another Me. no shot ahead of me. 1 gave him a long burst and saw my stuff entering his fuselage. He climbed steeply then, and then as steeply dived in a sort of spin. I couldn't turn on oxygen and suddenly had what they call over here a black-out. I went into a sort of dream from which I awakened when I was only 1,000 feet from the ground. I think I heard myself say "you'd better come to, you're in trouble." Anyway, I landed safely with two probables in my "bag".

And now, we Americans are a separate squadron. We wear R.A.F. uniforms with the American Eagle on the shoulder. It's a grand idea this Eagle squadron of all American flyers. We must try and make a name for ourselves, just like the famous Escadrille Lafayette. After all, we're all on the same side and all fighting in the same cause. The fellows in the squadron come from various parts of AmericaNew York, Idaho, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Illinois and California, we're all flyers and very keen. We have got a lot to learn yet, of course, and that is why I'm so glad to have been with an English fighter squadron, first. These English pilots certainly know their fighting tactics. My old squadron has brought down at least one hundred German aircraft. The German airmen may be pretty good formation flyers, but the British pilot has got the initiative in battle. He thinks quickly and gets results. He knows how to look after himself.

And are we lucky with our fighter planes? I guess the Spitfire is the finest fighter aircraft in the world. It's rugged and has no vices. I'd certainly rather fight with one than against one.

We like England and its people who are cheerful and very easy to get on with. I miss the Californian weather, of course, and if I could only have the English people and the Californian weather combined, everything would be grand. Everyone in the Royal Air Force is most kind to us all. They somehow seem to understand us and go out of their way to be helpful.

It's grand to say hello to everyone on behalf of the Eagle squadron. You can be sure we will do our very best, because we're in this business to try and do a little job of work for England.


Americans flying with the RAF. It is still not certain how many Americans served during the Battle of Britain because some gave their nationality as Canadian and remained as such on official records. At left in the photograph is Andy Mamedoff from Miami, who earned his living by barnstorming his own plane. In the centre is V.C. Shorty Keough. Under five feet tall, he was the shortest pilot in the RAF and required two air-cushions under his parachute-pack to see out of his Spitfire. In the cockpit is E.Q. Red Tobin, whod been a studio messenger at MGM before the war. All three men were killed in 1941 when flying over Britain with the Eagle Squadron of American pilots.


My 'Waiting for Clod' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell, 1872 - 1970.
Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanour. Robert A. Heinlein, 1907 - 1988.
#2940277 - 01/15/10 10:27 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 4. Another long one talkative Brits!

October, 1940

ELEVEN AND A HALF HOURS IN A DINGHY AFTER BOMBING BERLIN

BY TWO PILOT OFFICERS

Our heavy bombers are nightly carrying our offensive to Germany, and over certain targets they meet with very active opposition from the ground defences. Searchlights are clustered around and cover the sky hunting for the raiders. Batteries of light and heavy anti-aircraft guns put up intense barrages. Generally our aircraft return safely, but it is inevitable that sometimes the guns inflict damage to the structure of the aircraft engaged. Fighter aircraft also go up at night in an effort not often successful to drive our heavy bombers off the target, but the bombers can stand up to a great deal of punishment, and still fly home, thanks to the splendid workmanship and material that go to their construction.

If, however, the tanks are so penetrated that the petrol runs out, aircraft may have to make a forced landing, either on land or in the sea. In the event of their landing in the sea, the crew at once take to their collapsible dinghy, and rescue procedure follows immediately. Here is a dialogue between two pilot officers who were compelled to come down in the sea, and they will tell you of their adventure.

FIRST SPEAKER: We were detailed some days ago to attack the Neukolln Gasworks in Berlin. There was a fair amount of cloud on the way out, but we reached Berlin on time, with the cloud tops at 8,000 feet. This cleared at 4,000 feet and when our dead reckoning indicated that we were over the targets, actually we were about forty miles north of it. Circling round we picked up a landmark that gave us our position and we flew towards the target. The gasworks were already on fire. We were not the only people on the target. So we made a direct run for it, climbing a little.

The Germans, however, had a few fighters up in the air and three of them came at us, so we went into the cloud, changed our direction, and later came over the target again. So that we could be sure of our bombing, we came down to 3,500 feet, and were met by all kinds of anti-aircraft fire. There was heavy and light stuff, and machine-gun fire as overweight. We tried to dodge that, came down to about 2,700 feet and bombed Neukolln all in one stick. Our bombs hit the target fair and square. There was a terrific bang, followed by blinding flames. Part of the gas works certainly went up.

SECOND SPEAKER: I was the tail gunner, and I saw the fire. The captain had begun to climb as soon as the "bombs gone" was given, and we got to about 9,000 feet. That fire, from the height we were at, seemed to me to be about half a mile square, with flames three or four hundred feet high. Gas gives a very good blaze. There those flames were, a very angry red. I have never seen a fire so big in my life.

FIRST SPEAKER: Then we came right into nearly everything the Germans could give us. Their anti-aircraft put a hole three and a half feet square into the port wing, and there were between three and four hundred holes in the fuselage. When daylight came it was not necessary to put on the lights. Our aircraft are normally blacked out and we use interior lighting. The holes made that quite unnecessary.

SECOND SPEAKER: We could see the moonlight through the holes anyway.

FIRST SPEAKER: A high explosive shell went straight through the starboard tailplane. Luckily it went straight through without exploding or we should not even have come down in the sea. Then the leading edge of the port tailplane was shot clean away and the port wing badly battered. In fact it was smashed up but we climbed at plus two and a half pounds boost away from the target, to 10,000 feet, being shot at all the time. We were a bit out of luck.

SECOND SPEAKER: That's true. We were the only aircraft left over the target at the time. It was blazing away below us and they were blazing away at us, up there, and they could give us all their attention.

FIRST SPEAKER: We set course to avoid all that dirt, and a bit later went over Bremen. We didn't have time to see much of what had happened there because we were shot at again. Then we flew towards home, passing through a very severe front.

SECOND SPEAKER: A bad front means dirty weather, and we found it.

FIRST SPEAKER: We could still see no land for four hours after we had left the Neukolln Gasworks blazing merrily, and that meant that we were about an hour overdue. We had gone through a lot of very bad weather. It seemed as though our petrol tanks had escaped damage, but we were beginning to calculate our fuel, just the same. Off the Dutch coast we got our location. We were somewhat north of the track. We had had to take quite a lot of avoiding action. When we heard our location we came down through the cloud, working on the estimated time of arrival at a particular point. We got down to 1,500 feet, and found ourselves still over the sea. There was no land in sight. We flew on for a little more than half an hour. I thought we must have overshot England, and were over the Irish Sea. We turned again and sent out an S O S which was received and acknowledged. The trouble was that there had been a great change in wind speed and direction, of which we, of course knew nothing. Besides which our air speed was very much slower than normal because of the damage.
Then one engine cut out because of lack of petrol, and while the other engine was going I turned the aircraft head into wind in case I had to land in the sea.

SECOND SPEAKER: The captain had taken over the aircraft from the second pilot some time before, and asked to be strapped into his seat. They did that and the navigator came back to see that the rest of the crew were O.K. Orders were given to prepare to abandon aircraft and to land in the sea. So the dinghy was got ready and the Very lights and pistols were collected. The navigator began to hack away the door to use as a paddle.

FIRST SPEAKER: I brought the aircraft down into wind, and the nose hit the crest of a wave. It crumpled straight up on the crash and I was drenched. That didn't matter, because I was going to be drenched in a couple of minutes anyway. The tail-gunner threw out the dinghy which didn't open at once. I climbed out of the escape hatch and walked along the top of the fuselage to see the tail gunner and second pilot in the water tearing the dinghy open with their hands. It opened upside down so we couldn't throw the bag of Very lights into it. They were thrown into the water in the hope that we could pick them up later; but the sea was so heavy they drifted away.

SECOND SPEAKER: The navigator clambered on to the dinghy, but overbalanced and fell out, caught hold of the life-line that had been hacked away, and the captain took a header into the sea to help right the dinghy.

FIRST SPEAKER: Two got into the dinghy and with the help of another member of the crew we pulled it on to the main plane when both of us clambered in. The navigator was still in the water, hanging on while we recovered our breath. We were pretty well humped out. He said he was all right, but after a moment he let go of the line and clung to the door, intending to hang on to the aircraft. Then the dinghy was swept against the tail plane and half of it burst and we could not right it. The navigator, still clinging to the door, drifted away and disappeared. We were helpless and couldn't reach him. There was too much swell. The aircraft floated for about five minutes in all and then went down tail first.

We first hit the water at seven-twenty a.m., and after we were in the dinghy tried to organise ourselves. It was only half inflated, and we were not very successful in getting it straight, but we sat and kept watch and after about an hour opened up the emergency rations, and found the rum and malted milk tablets. But we were very seasick and only the tail-gunner could keep anything down.

At about twelve-forty-five we saw the first Hudson aircraft above us, so we fired the only good emergency rocket we had. The aircraft saw us and circled round but lost uswe were so low in the water.

SECOND SPEAKER: We could see the aircraft circling round for the next four hours. They couldn't pick us up but we knew they would in the end, and at about three o'clock in the afternoon a submarine that was helping came within seven or eight hundred yards. They couldn't see us either.

FIRST SPEAKER: By six o'clock I decided that we should have to spend the night in the dinghy and we started to bale it out. We had a pump, that didn't function too well what with one thing and another and we all sat in the middle and the sides lifted up. I think that saved us. It was just the merest fluke really, but when we got the sides up a Sunderland flying-boat spotted the dinghy, dropped sea markers and attracted another Hudson that was looking for us. The Hudson signalled with a lamp, "Help cominglaunch."

SECOND SPEAKER: I had the rations, rum and other sorts, and had tried to pass them round, but the others were all so seasick they couldn't use them. There was no enthusiasm at all. I can tell you we sang no sea chanties in that dinghy. After a couple of hours one of the others produced a cigarette case; but the cigarettes were all wet and so were the matches. One of the crew tried to chew a cigarette, but he soon gave that up too.

FIRST SPEAKER: And the rain simply streamed down and browned us off.

SECOND SPEAKER: We'd been pumping for nearly eight hours altogether and then we saw the wireless mast of what I thought was a destroyer. So I passed the rum rations again: but nobody wanted them. I was so excited that I drank two tots straight off: just to celebrate.

FIRST SPEAKER: After half an hour the launch came up to us and tried to throw us a line. The wind was so strong it blew it back. So the crew of the launch tried another tack. They went up wind and drifted down and got us a line which we tied to the dinghy. Then a heavy wave knocked the launch on to us which tipped us over and we were in the water again, stiff with cramp and most of us nearly exhausted. That was six-forty-five, and we had been adrift for eleven and a half hours.

SECOND SPEAKER: The captain went right under the launch and up on the other side, but he had kicked his flying boots off and they caught him with a boat hook. It took five men to get the captain on board.

FIRST SPEAKER: We were bundled down into the cabin and stripped. They put us into sleeping bags and blankets and gave us hot tea, massage and respiratory exercises. The wireless operator was all in. He had passed out. The tail-gunner had paralysed legs. But for two hours we slept, dead to everything, and the sea was so rough that it bounced me off on to the floor. Yet, through that sea the launch had come at its top speed, which was over thirty knots, and had travelled one hundred and thirty miles from land. There isn't enough to say about the way they did their stuff. They got us back to hospital and into warm rooms with heated beds where they simply cooked us for about four hours. The officers lent us their lounge suits and we had a very good party in the mess and the Station Commander sent his car for us and brought us home.

SECOND SPEAKER: After which we had sick leave and a bit of a holiday. Now we're going back to duty, but the funniest thing is that the night before we took that run I saw my horoscope in the newspaper. I don't believe them; but this is what it said: "Don't partake in long journeys, especially sea crossings."


Lunch in a Sunderland while on patrol.

Last edited by RedToo; 01/15/10 10:33 PM.

My 'Waiting for Clod' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell, 1872 - 1970.
Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanour. Robert A. Heinlein, 1907 - 1988.
#2940544 - 01/16/10 10:51 AM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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SimHQ seemed to be playing up last night. This post is simply to get the forum to recognise that the above post has happened.

RedToo.


My 'Waiting for Clod' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell, 1872 - 1970.
Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanour. Robert A. Heinlein, 1907 - 1988.
#2940938 - 01/17/10 12:09 AM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Originally Posted By: RedToo
SimHQ seemed to be playing up last night. This post is simply to get the forum to recognise that the above post has happened.

RedToo.

At least it wasn't just me having problems.

Great reading. smile


Wheels


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Mission4Today (Campaigns, Missions, and Skins for IL-2)
Planes of Fame Air Museum | March Field Air Museum | Palm Springs Air Museum
#2945057 - 01/22/10 06:38 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: wheelsup_cavu]  
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Part 46.

October, 1940

HOW A V.C. WAS WON

BY A BOMBER PILOT

IN order that you may get a clear picture of what happened that night, when my aircraft caught fire and when Sergeant Hannah performed that very fine act of bravery which earned for him the Victoria Cross, it would, I think, help matters if I described to you the interior of our Hampden bomber. In the nose of the machine sits the navigator. He is the most comfortably placed member of the crew. He can almost stand up and has plenty of leg room. I, as pilot, sit in another cockpit behind and above him and from the moment the aircraft takes off until it returns I do not leave my position. The other two members of the crew, who are the rear gunner and the wireless operator, occupy the top and bottom gun positions. They can however, if they wish, crawl through the aeroplane from one end to the other.

I have gone into these details so that you may, the more easily, realise that Sergeant Hannah had not only to contend with the raging flames but was called upon to extinguish them without at any time being able to pull himself up to his full height. It must be remembered too that he was wearing full flying kit which saved him from serious bodily burns but at the same time restricted his movements. Before I say anything more about Sergeant Hannah I want to describe, as best I can, what happened that night. If anybody had told me that only half the crew and three-quarters of the aeroplane would return to England I should have been inclined to laugh at thembut that's what happened.

We left in fine weather in high clouds and in due course we were over Antwerp. We started to make our bombing run but found that we were not in line to make a good attack, so we turned, circled round and got into better position. As soon as we arrived we noticed that the anti-aircraft gunfire was fairly heavy, but during that first run none of it came very close to us. It wasn't long, however, before they got our range and as we came round for the second attack we met a terrific barrage. We were hit in the wing on the way down several times, and the aircraft shook so much that it was not an easy matter to keep control of it. However, we released our bombs and it was then that I saw flames reflected in my perspex windscreen, but I was so busy taking violent evasive action against the anti-aircraft guns that I didn't at first give it any serious thought. Whilst I was avoiding the shellsas best I couldthe wireless operator called me on the intercommunication system and announced, very quietly, in his marked Scots accent, "The aircraft is on fire". I asked him "Is it very bad?" He replied, "Bad, but not too bad". I gathered from this conversation and from the fact that the reflection of the flames was getting brighter and brighter, that the position was fairly serious. Sergeant Hannah, cool as he was, did not want to alarm me. I immediately warned the crew to prepare to abandon the aircraft, at the same time I was still throwing the machine all over the place in an effort to dodge the shells some of which were ripping right through the fuselage and others seemed to be bouncing off. Besides this heavy stuff there was a lot of tracer shooting all round us, and I was not very keen on my crew jumping through that. Their chance of landing unharmed would have been small.

In the meantime the fire was getting an even firmer hold and I imagine that the blazing aircraft must have presented the enemy gunners with a pretty good target. After three or four minutes of more shells whizzing through us and past us I was relieved to find that we were at last out of range, and I think it must have been about this time that my navigator and rear-gunner jumped for it. There is no doubt that the navigator was quite convinced that there was no chance of the aircraft surviving, whilst the rear-gunner apparently had no option. He was literally burned out of his bottom cockpit in circumstances which must have made it impossible for him to stay there.

The fact that the rear gunner did jump gave Sergeant Hannah more freedom of movement. Whilst he was fighting the flames with his log book and with his hands I could feel the heat getting nearer and nearer to the back of my neck, but at the same time I noticed, when I turned round, that the flames were still some four or five feet away from me. At first Hannah was wearing his oxygen mask, but the fumes were evidently too strong and he found himself beginning to suffocate. So, without any hesitation, he ripped the mask off and dashed through the fire heedless of the burns which he could not possibly avoid. After about ten minutes, which seemed like hours, I noticed the reflection in the windscreen had died down and that in place of the heat at the back of my neck there was a welcome and refreshingly cool breeze. I asked the sergeant on the intercommunication system, which miraculously escaped damage, how things were going. He said, in his cheery manner, "The fire is out, sir". I then asked him how the other members of the crew were getting on. He said, "I'll find out, sir". He then went into the rear-gunner's cockpit and said, "Nobody here, sir". He then climbed forward to the navigator's position and reported "Navigator not present. We are all alone, sir". He then scrambled into my cockpit and brought me the navigator's maps so that I could steer a course for home. In turning round to take the maps from Sergeant Hannah I realised what he had gone through. His face was badly burnt, his flying suit was scorched all over, and altogether he looked a sorry sight. Through it all he was grinning and I then knew that although his injuries were severe they were not as bad as they looked. On the way back home Hannah sat in the navigator's position away from the smell of the fire, and when we landed he jumped out of the aeroplane as though what he had done had been an everyday occurrence. When I looked at the machine I got some idea of what he had gone through. The rear-gunner's cockpit and half the interior of the fuselage were charred ruins. There was a hole in the fuselage large enough for a man to crawl through. There were holes in the wings, but far more serious were the holes in the petrol tanks, and how the petrol didn't catch alight and undo all Sergeant Hannah's good work will remain a mystery. I believed that Hannah was fully conscious of that danger and concentrated on the flames nearest the tanks before he dealt with the other fires which broke out. To make matters even worse, while he was beating out the flames, thousands of rounds of ammunition were going off in all directions and he had to fight his way through this fierce internal barrage to save the aircraft. He didn't give his own safety a thought. He could have jumped, but preferred to stay behind.


Sergeant J. Hannah, V.C., a reproduction from the painting by Eric Kennington.


Sergeant Hannahs recommendation for the V.C.


Damage to the Hampden.


Damage to the Hampden.


The remains of the Hampdens pigeons.

Finally, and most sadly, a short biography of John Hannah V.C.

John Hannah VC (November 27, 1921 June 9, 1947) was a Scottish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Born in Paisley and educated at Bankhead Primary School and Victoria Drive Secondary School, Glasgow, Hannah joined the Royal Air Force in 1939. After training as a wireless operator was promoted sergeant in 1940. He was attached to No. 83 Squadron , flying Handley Page Hampden bombers as a wireless operator/gunner. He was 18 years old, and a sergeant in No. 83 Squadron, Royal Air Force during the Second World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 15 September 1940 over Antwerp, Belgium, after a successful attack on German barges, the Handley Page Hampden bomber (serial P1355) in which Sergeant Hannah was wireless operator/air gunner, was subjected to intense anti-aircraft fire, starting a fire which spread quickly. The rear gunner and navigator had to bale out and Sergeant Hannah could have acted likewise, but instead he remained to fight the fire, first with two extinguishers and then with his bare hands. He sustained terrible injuries, but succeeded in putting out the fire and the pilot was able to bring the almost wrecked aircraft back safely.

He is the youngest recipient of the VC for aerial operations.

He contracted tuberculosis only a year later in mid-late 1941, brought on no doubt by his weakened condition following the severe burns he sustained during his VC action. This necessitated his eventual discharge, with full disability pension, from the RAF in December 1942. However, unable thereafter to take up a full-time job, he initially took a job as a taxi driver (using a car his aunt had lent him) but due to increasing ill health he returned the car in 1943. He then found it increasingly difficult to support his wife and three small daughters, and his health ultimately gave out. He died on 9 June 1947 at Markfield Sanatorium in Leicester, where he had been lying for four months. He is buried in the churchyard of St James the Great Church, Church Hill, Birstall, north Leicester. His wife, Janet Hannah, is also interred there with her husband. An inscription to her reads 'Loved and remembered always Janet Hannah Aged 83 years'.

His headstone is inscribed:-

652918 Flight Sergeant J Hannah. VC. Royal Air Force 7th June 1947 Age 25 Courageous Duty Done In Love He Serves His Pilot Now Above.

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon, London.

Last edited by RedToo; 01/22/10 06:44 PM.

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The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell, 1872 - 1970.
Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanour. Robert A. Heinlein, 1907 - 1988.
#2949921 - 01/30/10 11:39 AM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 47. A little late this week - all last night was spent sorting out computer problems for a friend.

October, 1940

RAID ON STETTIN

BY A SERGEANT PILOT

The sergeant-pilot is twenty-one years old. He has made eleven trips as captain of aircraft. In 1938 he enlisted in the R.A.F.V.R. and was called up on the outbreak of war. He has done two hundred hours' operational flying and taken part in twenty-one operational trips. His trips have taken him to the Ruhr, to Berlin three times, to Milan, Magdeburg, Jena, and Leuna, in addition to attacks on the invasion ports from time to time. His intention, prior to joining the R.A.F., was to become a mechanical engineer.

Last Tuesday we were called in to be briefed, and told that our objective was the synthetic oil works at Politz, near Stettin. That meant something more than six hundred miles out and six hundred miles home. Roughly 1,300 miles for the round trip. When they briefed usthat is, when they told us all about the target, how to get there and what to do, it was pointed out to us that this oil plant was able to produce a million metric tons of fuel for the enemy every year, so long as it lasted. The intention of the raid was to make the oil last a very short time, and even though it means cutting the story I think I can say that that intention was carried out. The raid lasted about two hours, and I don't think the oil plant lasted as long as that. It was a blazing mass when we left.

Our Intelligence Officers told us that we should be able to identify it because of its position near the river and because it had six very tall chimney stacks clustered together at the south-eastern end. We were to attack in the neighbourhood of those chimneys.

The night was so clear, and the country so plain below us that we could map-read our course and pick up first one landmark and then another. I have been over there a few times, and so know much of the country, so does my navigator. We had the moon and the luck with us and could see everything. There was a fair amount of anti-aircraft fire at Cuxhaven, but there always is. We came through that all right, and flew on our course, striking the river that was our guide to the target, and avoided Stettin because we were on a particular spot and the town meant nothing to us, then.

Following the river in good moonlight, we realised that some other members of my squadron had been over the target before us. There was a lovely fire blazing which we could see for the last fifty miles. It was blazing away like the Fifth of November. It looked as though there would be nothing left for us to do but there was.

We came in from the north and the wind was blowing fairly freshly from the south. Until we reached the neighbourhood of the target we were flying fairly high. Then we began to glide, and losing height went in to have a look. At seven thousand feet we ran into a pall of smoke. Somebody had already hit the target a very good crack with their stuff. The place was well ablaze and smoke was coming up in thick, billowing waves. But through it all we could see just what we had been told to look for: the chimneys of the power-house, with this difference. We had been told that there were six chimneys. When we arrived there were only four. Somebody else had brought the other two down, but those four stood up, one of them slightly bent, like the crooked fingers of a maimed hand.

I decided not to attack from there and circled round out of the smoke. Below me lay the target, blazing merrily. This was a real military objective, not just a row of houses. There was a works building that I should judge to have been nearly four hundred feet long.

It was two storeys high and the flames were pouring from the windows. They went out into the open like great flashing tongues and came in violent gusts. Something inside that building was feeding the fire every second, and red flames and black smoke belched out without pause.

Then I saw the four chimneys that still stood and decided that that was my individual bit of the target.

We came in and bombed in two sticks. The first stick was high explosives followed by incendiaries, and it went straight across the target. There was no doubt of that at all; although I, being busy with handling the aircraft could not see the results then, the tail-gunner saw what happened, and reported that new fires had broken out, after good explosions.

Then I turned round and came in lower, to drop my heavier bombs. When the observer said "bombs gone" I circled at once, and saw two of the chimneys buckle up.

It was an amazing sight, and very hard to describe, but those chimneys went down straight for a while, and then fell over side-ways, as though they were sinking to their knees. Then they toppled over on their faces. They were big chimneys and they fell into the heart of the fire, which spread rapidly like a red sheet on the ground.

The tail-gunner reported that another fire had broken out, and then an anti-aircraft gun started on us, just one, and it was wide. But there was plenty of anti-aircraft fire over Stettin, where we were not. Searchlights came up, too, and the tail gunner opened up with his machine-guns, from four thousand feet. Two search-lights went out.

When those chimneys had melted into the fire and our bombs were all used, we dropped our flares as incendiaries, too. We didn't need to bring anything back and flares can do some damage if they fall well. We left the target like an inferno. Flames were obscuring the ground, we could see the fire but nothing else. Smoke was filling the higher stretches of the sky, with a bright red glow lighting the underside of the cloud. If they put that fire out they must have performed miracles, because I have seen some good fires on various trips, but none to touch the blaze we left at Politz. The tail gunner was reporting every little while and he was still reporting the fire when we were a hundred miles on our way home.

We had a good run back, came to base on time, and met the others who had been on the same target. I think we might say production was definitely stopped and won't start again for a very long time. It was a good trip.


A pic from the German side.
Hoch soll er leben ... (For hes a jolly good fellow), celebrating Major Adolf Gallands fortieth victory, 25 September 1940.

Last edited by RedToo; 01/30/10 11:43 AM.

My 'Waiting for Clod' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell, 1872 - 1970.
Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanour. Robert A. Heinlein, 1907 - 1988.
#2953460 - 02/05/10 10:03 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 48.

October, 1940

RESCUE OF AN R.A.F. CREW IN THE ATLANTIC

BY A FLYING OFFICER

Recently the first job to fall to one of the American destroyers transferred to the British Navy was to rescue from the sea the crew of a Royal Air Force heavy bomber. By a remarkable coincidence the captain of the aircraft who is a recent rowing Blue, is himself half American and his mother is now in California. Here is his account of the crew's twenty-two hours' ordeal in the Atlantic.

MANY people have said what a welcome addition the American destroyers would be to our fleet. I am sure that no one is likely to give them a more hearty and grateful welcome than that given by my crew and myself one afternoon a couple of weeks ago, when, after drifting aimlessly about in a rubber dinghy off the coast of Ireland for a very long time we suddenly saw on the crest of a wave the funnels of a destroyer.

It happened like this: We had been detailed to escort a convoy and had met it inward bound at about midday. Several hours later while we were still on patrol, the rear-gunner reported a trace of smoke from the starboard engine. I could see very little myself; the oil and radiator temperatures were quite normal and I was not unduly worried. I decided, however, to return to base at once and the wireless operator reported to base that we were doing so. But almost immediately our trouble increased, the engine got very hotand so did Iand it was only a matter of a very few minutes before we found ourselves cooling rather rapidly in the Atlantic.

I saw clouds of smoke pouring from the engine, the temperatures shot right up, and 1 had to throttle the engine back to prevent it catching fire. We were only at about 500 feet at the time and the aircraft would not maintain height on the other engine. I told the crew to stand by for a landing on the sea, and our dinghy drill had to be carried out pretty rapidly. The tail-gunner came forward to the dinghy, the second pilot and the navigator went aft, followed by the wireless operator after he had finished sending his SOS. They all braced themselves for the shock of hitting the water. This we must have done with quite a crack, in spite of my efforts to hold off as long as possible and reduce speed, as the fuselage broke nearly in two just forward of the leading edge of the wings. The cockpit immediately began to fill with water and I thought it was time for me to be moving. I climbed out through the escape hatch in the roof and found the rest of the crew in the sea with the dinghy which was just opening.

I scrambled across the gap in the fuselage and walked aft. The dinghy was fully open and the rope tying it to the aircraft had been cut but it was still caught in the angle between the fuselage and tailplane so I was able to step straight into it. This was a great stroke of luck as the hardest job is usually to get the first man into the boat. We pushed ourselves clear of the aircraft and then I helped the crew in. The wireless operator was the most urgent case as he had hit himself jumping in and had swallowed a lot of salt water when he went under; he was very nearly unconscious. We got him in after quite a struggle and the rest of the crew came aboard in turn. The aircraft had sunk by the time the last had got in.

This happened at about four o'clock in the afternoon; there were about three hours of daylight remaining, and of course we hoped very much that our SOS would have been received and that we should be picked up or at least sighted that afternoon. We were at the time within sight of land, but a strong southwesterly wind was carrying us away out to sea. Darkness fell without a sight of ships or aircraft and we resigned ourselves to at least another fourteen hours afloat. At first we could see the beam from a lighthouse, but that disappeared by midnight, as the wind which was increasing nearly to gale force blew us farther from land.

There were only three things to do all night, to keep awake, to keep warm and to try and keep the boat as dry as possible. We had all, except the rear gunner, swallowed some salt water and were seasick. I was lucky and was not very bad, but some felt most unhappy inside all night and wanted very much to go to sleep. However we all kept awake and found three exercises which seemed the most practicable for keeping warm. First we would pat our hands briskly on our thighs, that warmed both hands and thighs and was our commonest exercise, which later in the night we did about every ten minutes. Then we did the "cabman's swing" swinging our arms across our chests as taxi-drivers do on cold days, and we found that good for keeping the circulation going. Finally we smacked each other on the back. I must have been somewhat vigorous in this last exercise as my neighbour said it was too much like being hit by a pile-driver. We did our best to keep cheerful and as my watch was watertight and working I reported the time every half-hour and the number of hours to daylight. It was a great landmark at one in the morning when the night was half over and then six hours only to go.

I found also that I kept warm by baling out the water, which we did with my shoes. At first we shipped water quite often as the tops of the waves broke over us. Later, though the seas were steadily rising with the wind increasing through the night, we became quite expert at riding the huge Atlantic rollers, and found that if we kept two of us facing into the wind and two with their backs to it we could watch the waves and by leaning away from the bad ones ease ourselves over the top of them without shipping water very often.

The night passed very slowly indeed. I had decided not to open the rations till morning as I knew we should be much hungrier then. I am afraid I adopted rather a Captain Bligh of the Bounty line over the rations as I wanted to make them last for three days. Dawn crept upon us at about six-thirty after an apparently interminable night of back-slapping and wave-climbing. It was quite light by seven-thirty, and we were out of sight of land, but suddenly to our joy we saw a ship in the west. It got larger and was heading almost in our direction; then it altered course and came straight for us. We stood up in turn and waved and we all shouted, but she was to windward and neither saw nor heard us. We could see her quite clearly and she passed within two or three hundred yards and was, I think, a small armed merchantman. That was a dreadful disappointment as we had practically decided what we would have for breakfast; biscuits and brackish water were a very poor substitute for bacon and eggs. However as some slight consolation and to warm us up I allowed us each a very small swallow from our rum flask, which I was saving for emergencies.

We saw several aircraft during the morning, but even those fairly near did not spot us because the sea was a mass of white horses. About ten o'clock the rear gunner was washed overboard by a wave breaking crossways over us, although he was sitting on his hands holding the rope as we all did. However, he kept his hold and we got him aboard again, and did our best to warm him up with rum and exercise.

At midday there were more biscuits and Horlicks tablets for lunch, but I don't think we were really hungry yet as some of the crew wouldn't eat their biscuits. I told the crew that we should probably have to spend another night in the dinghy and they stayed remarkably cheerful in spite of this dreary prospect.

Suddenly about 2 p.m. we thought we saw some ships in the distance. All the morning, however, we had been seeing low islands and lighthouses which proved to be merely the crests of waves breaking in the distance, so I didn't have much faith in any of these ships. Then we started looking round again and to our joy saw from the crest of a wave a flotilla of destroyers steaming towards us in line abreast. The second pilot recognised the four funnels and flush deck of the American destroyers and we thought that they would pass on either side of us. Then as they drew near they altered course away from us so that we passed to port of the port ship of the line. We held the rear-gunner up and he waved our green canvas paddle. Just as we had about given up hope again we saw people waving from the decks and she turned in a circle round us.

Soon after she came alongside and threw us a line, at first shouting directions in German, as they had mistaken our uniforms. The ship was rolling heavily and when our navigator caught hold of the rope ladder he could not get a foothold and as his hands were too cold to keep a grip he fell into the sea. A sailor at once jumped in, put a line round him and he was lifted out. The rest of the crew and myself were able to climb aboard. We were taken below and had our skin practically rubbed off us before we were wrapped in blankets and put in officers' cabins, with tea and rum and hot food, all extremely welcome.

As soon as I was warm I borrowed some clothes and went on the bridge to thank the captain. I learned that it was he who had first spotted us when he saw through his glass our yellow skull-caps and life-saving jackets and dinghy, which he thought was some wreckage as we appeared and disappeared on the distant waves.

We were all made most abundantly welcome by the Navy and went ashore that night very happy men indeed.


Rescue by a Sunderland, rather than a destroyer.

Last edited by RedToo; 02/05/10 10:13 PM.

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The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell, 1872 - 1970.
Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanour. Robert A. Heinlein, 1907 - 1988.
#2953737 - 02/06/10 02:58 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Good story, some of the lucky ones thank god!..

#2957288 - 02/12/10 07:48 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: Trooper117]  
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Part 49.

November, 1940

W.A.A.F. IN AIR RAIDS

BY A FLIGHT OFFICER

I DON'T suppose airwomen on stations feel any different during raids from what ordinary people do in towns when they are bombed. If you've got a job of work to do you get on with it. Otherwise most people go to the shelters, except of course, those who are on station defence duty.

You'll want to know which of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force are on duty during a raid. Well, the switchboard operators for one; they are usually airwomen. Then there are first-aid workers, sick quarter attendants, anti-gas squads, and of course the plotters in the operations room.

Plotters particularly have proved that those members of the R.A.F. were justified who said that women could be trusted to carry out operational work in air raids. They have shown they have plenty of nerve. So too, have the telephone operators. These W.A.A.F. who got the Military Medal this week were all telephone operators, and it was a good thing they kept their heads and stuck to their job, because the station defence really depends a great deal on them. As for the plotters, I know of one who had half a table where she was working bombed away, but she went on with her job. Two others had a shed blown down over them, but when they were dug out they were still sticking to what they had been doing before the bomb fell.

And it isn't only on the station that airwomen show how cool they can be in an emergency. One W.A.A.F. was coming back from leave by train when an incendiary bomb fell in the carriage. Her cap was burnt, all but the badge. She herself was almost unhurt and only suffered slightly from shock. She was off work for one day, but was quite recovered by evening and came on duty again ready for the next raid that night.

There seems to have been something about that train. When it stopped during the raid, another W.A.A.F. ran out into the fields. A bomb came very close so she threw herself on her face and felt that she had landed on something hard. When she had got to her feet she picked up the object and asked an airwoman who was with her if she had dropped it. They looked more closely at it and found it was an unexploded bomb. The little crowd who had gathered round scattered in no time, while the W.A.A.F. very calmly replaced the bomb on the ground and walked away.

We rather like to feel, you know, that members of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force keep their heads in a crisis. We are proud to feel that we have been trusted to work in the front line helping the R.A.F.


Instrument mechanics repairing aerial cameras.


Instrument mechanic testing an automatic pilot.


Packing parachutes.


Last edited by RedToo; 02/12/10 07:49 PM.

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The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell, 1872 - 1970.
Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanour. Robert A. Heinlein, 1907 - 1988.
#2963734 - 02/20/10 12:51 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 50. Late due to computer problems - had to nuke the C: drive and start again. Computers are great when they work ...

November, 1940

RAID ON MUNICH

BY A FLIGHT LIEUTENANT OF A HEAVY BOMBER SQUADRON

THIS was our first trip to Munich. Our target was the railway locomotive and marshalling yards, almost in the centre of the city and only a short distance away from the famous Brown House of the Nazi Party. Just before we took off the senior intelligence officer came rushing over and said he thought that we might be interested to know that Hitler and some of his gangsters were to be in Munich that night to celebrate the anniversary of the BEER HALL Putsch of 1923.

Everybody was flat out to get there. They had included in my bomb load one of the heaviest calibre bombs that we have so far carried. I talked things over with the observer and we decided before we left that as the station commander had been kind enough to entrust us with the delivery of this heavy calibre bomb we'd go in as low as possible to make sure of getting the target. It was a beautiful starlight night and there was almost a half moon. We were checking up our course by the stars as we went out. Round Munich itself there was not a cloud in the sky. We passed an enemy aerodromeall lit up for night flyingbut on the way out we weren't wasting any bombs on that. We saw one of our fellows flying about five miles in front of us, getting a packet of stuff thrown up at him over Mannheim. He flew straight through it, but we turned away to the left and avoided the town. After Mannheim, Munich wasn't very far away and everybody was sitting up and taking notice. We were about twenty minutes' flying-time away when we first saw the flak and the searchlights coming up around the city. The navigator got a bit worried because we were ten minutes in front of our estimated time of arrival and he thought for a minute that we might have got off our course. Then we picked up a landmarka goodish-sized laketo the south of Munichand set course from there. Some of the other fellows had gone on ahead to light up the target and we could see their incendiaries bursting.

Flares were dropping all round as we went in. The guns on the ground were shooting quite well. I saw three flares shot down almost as soon as they had been dropped. We flew over to have a preliminary look at things and found we were about a mile south of the marshalling yards. We were low enough and it was so light that we could see houses and streets quite clearly. It was the bomb aimer's dream of the perfect night. Altogether we stooged round for about twenty minutes, checking up on our target. We saw somebody else drop his stick of bombs slap on the target. The explosions lit up the locomotive sheds. We came down lower and they were shooting at us hard. In the light of one of our own flares I saw a stationary engine in the yard. I could make out the glow from its fires and I noticed, incidentally, that it had steam up. We had to turn round and come back over the yards, making our run from south-east to north-west. Then we went whistling down. Tracer seemed to be coming up right under the wings and the bomb aimer said that he could see it coming up towards him as he lay in the nose of the aircraft looking down through his tunnel.

All the way down in the dive I could see these big black locomotive sheds in front of me.

The front gunner was shooting out searchlights, which I thought was a pretty good effort, and the rear gunner was having a try at the same game, but it was more difficult for him. I'd told them that they could let loose with their guns and they didn't want telling twice. The bomb aimer got the target right in his sight. He said: "I can see it: I can see it absolutely perfectly." Then he called out: "Bombs gone. I've got it." As a matter of fact I don't see how he could have missed at that height. Both he and the rear-gunner saw the bombs burst. The rear gunner said that the heavy one made a dickens of an explosion. In the excitement I'd more or less forgotten that we had got this big bomb on board and the force of the explosion gave the aircraft a tremendous wallop. If we had come down any lower we should have been blown up. As it was we all thought we'd been hit. The effect was just as if a heavy shell had burst right under the rear turret. There was a stunned silence for a few seconds; then another babble of conversation when everybody decided that we were all right.

We were still low down. Searchlights kept popping up. The front gunner put out two and the rear gunner put out four. It was a remarkable sight to see the coloured tracer going down the beams of the light. After that, it was a race back because we'd been told that the weather would close down over our base and that after two o'clock we'd be very lucky if we got in there, so we beetled back pretty rapidly. Altogether it was a perfect trip.


9 Staffel/ Jagdgeschwader 26 in France. On the flight line.


Not sure if this is an accident or not.
Note the difference in the emblem thinner early on.


My 'Waiting for Clod' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell, 1872 - 1970.
Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanour. Robert A. Heinlein, 1907 - 1988.
#2967089 - 02/26/10 10:09 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 51.

November, 1940

BOMBING DANZIG

BY A FLYING OFFICER

With the longer hours of darkness the bombers of the Royal Air Force are striking farther and farther afield. Italy and Czechoslovakia have already felt the weight of their attack and now Poland has been brought within the sphere of their nightly operations. For the layman it is difficult to visualise just what these long-distance raids involve, with their many hours of flying over enemy territory, their dangers and their discomforts. Here is an account by an R.A.F. flying officer, the navigator of a heavy bomber returned from a raid on Poland, which gives some idea of what such a flight is really like.

THE trip I am going to try and describe to you this evening was from England to Danzig and back. Danzig, of course, is a port at the Baltic end of the former Polish Corridor, and the journey was roughly equivalent to a non-stop flight from London to Madrid and back. The total distance, including necessary deviations, was something like 2,000 miles. Most of the credit for the flight belongs to the sergeant-pilot who was at the controls of the aircraft. For over eleven hours, without relief, he sat in his small cockpit, constantly on the alert and liable as captain of the aircraft, to be called upon for instant decision in any emergency which might arise. For us other members of the crew the strain was much less severe. When things were running smoothly we could take our minds off the job in hand and some of us, if we became too cramped, could get up and stretch our legs. But not the pilot. He had to stick it, and, looking back, I still think that his staying power, matching that of the great engines which carried us on the long journey, was the most remarkable feature of our flight.

When we were first told that Poland was to be our destination we were just about as pleased as we could be. Apart from the fact that the long flight promised some excitement, we were particularly bucked at the idea of cheering up the Poles by taking a crack at the invaders on their very doorstep. We'd already proved the idleness of Goering's boasts by repeated hammerings at Berlin and now this trip would give us the chance to show that we could not only elude his anti-aircraft defences in Germany, but fly right over them to help our friends on the other side.

We set off in daylight. There were four of us in the aircraft: the pilot, two air gunners, one of whom was also the wireless operator, and myself. I was the navigator and it was my job to guide the aircraft to the target and bring it safely home again.

The sky was clear and the sun was shining when we started, and it was still daylight when we crossed over the North Sea and into enemy territory. We were all keyed-up and keeping a sharp look-out for enemy fighters, but none came our way. Perhaps it was just as well for them that they didn't. We were determined that we were going to get to Poland that night and if anything had got in our way it would have had a warm reception. Our gunners' trigger-fingers were itching to go into action and our pilot, still fresh and alert, was ready to take any evasive action that might have been necessary.

Actually, that part of our trip over Germany was so quiet and uneventful that it might well have been peacetime. But soon after the sun had set the weather changed. It became steadily worse and for practically all the rest of the outward journey remained thoroughly bad. As we flew further east we ran into a snowstorm and within half an hour the interior of my cockpit was some two inches deep in snow. It was fine and powdery, and when I wanted to use my maps I had to blow the snow away before I could read them. The snow also managed, somehow or other, to get into my fur-lined coat, but as I was so cold by then, a little snow, more or less, didn't make much difference to me.

Apart from the snow, we also had to contend with a particularly violent electrical storm, and although none of the static penetrated into the aircraft I could see it striking the propeller tips and making the airscrews look like a couple of Catherine-wheels. I've never seen anything like it beforeand I don't particularly want to again.

Later on, as a change from the elements, we had a taste of enemy opposition. It came in the form of a certain amount of anti-aircraft gunfire, but it didn't really worry us. What it did do was to tell us that the enemy knew we were in the vicinity and it gave us rather a kick to think of the hundreds of air-raid sirens that were being sounded at every town and village along our course. We knew we were Poland-bound, but the Hun could have had no idea where we were going.

We reached Danzig at last, and just to look down on the Baltic Sea was enough to give us all a tremendous thrill. It looked so peaceful with the moonlight shining on the water and a back-ground of cloud on the distant horizon. To do justice to the scene requires a poet rather than a navigator, so I won't attempt to describe it. Then I got on with the job of searching for our target.

One thing I had to bear well in mind. If there was any possibility of my bombs falling on the civilian population then I must not drop them. As we circled the city unmolested by searchlights or anti-aircraft fire I spotted our target, a railway yard. Railway yards, whether they be at Hamm or Danzig, look much the same, and as we came low the moon glinted on railway buildings and tracks, and there, spread out before us, was the old familiar network.

I told my pilot I was ready to bomb, but he wasn't taking any chances. "You're quite sure of it?" he called out, and only when I had reassured him did he straighten up the aircraft for the bombing-run.

As we approached the target I took careful aim through my bomb-sights. The light was so good and the target so big that I just couldn't miss. The next thing I heard was a call from the rear-gunner. He had seen the bombs burst and they had started quite a large fire. It was obvious from the lack of opposition from the ground defences that we had taken the enemy by surprise. Or perhaps they had forgotten something we had rememberedthat it was the anniversary of Poland's Day of Independence.

After we had dropped our bombs on our enemies in Poland, we had the more pleasant task of delivering leaflets to our friends the Poles. Though none of us could read Polish, we had all studied the circulars with great interest before we set off. We were able to make out two passages. One of them was the news that President Roosevelt had been re-elected in the name of Democracy, and the other was "Long Live Poland!"

And just in case there are any Poles listening to this broadcast, I'd like to end with the only Polish word I know"Dobsha!" or, in English, "It's all right!"


Getting ready for the night.


Tucked up.


My 'Waiting for Clod' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell, 1872 - 1970.
Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanour. Robert A. Heinlein, 1907 - 1988.
#2971050 - 03/05/10 07:58 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 52, a year I've been posting these, and a very enjoyable year too. Happy Birthday to me ...

November, 1940

A HURRICANE SQUADRON ATTACKS TWENTY-FIVE JUNKERS 87s

BY A FLIGHT LIEUTENANT

YES, it really was a good day for the squadron. We caught about twenty-five Junkers 87 dive bombers attacking ships off Orford-ness. We shot down fifteen of them into the sea, probably destroyed seven others and damaged one more. So that out of the twenty-five dive-bombers making the attack, only two escaped us without bullet-holes in them.

We all seemed to have a hunch that there were going to be fireworks that afternoon, and decided to stay in the crew-room instead of going across to the mess for tea. We were quite right; for at about ten minutes past four, we had orders to take off and patrol over one of our convoys. We were all in the air within three or four minutes. We had been patrolling the convoy for about ten minutes, when looking towards the south I suddenly saw the bursting of anti-aircraft shells about twelve miles away, some distance from the coast. I called up the other boys on the radio telephone and off we went towards the bursting shells. We were a few miles away when I saw the first of the enemy bombers diving down on some objective we could not see. The weather was not very good; there was a sea fog reaching up to 2,000 feet but at 10,000 feet where we were the sun was shining brightly. So I led the squadron round to get the advantage of the sun and down we went on to the enemy. We found that three or four of them at a time were dive-bombing ships from 7,000 feet; they were taking it in turn to go down vertically, one behind the other. I told the squadron to attack from somewhere below 2,000 feet and to choose their own targets. Down we went, taking the enemy completely by surprise as we did their escort of Messerschmitt fighters.

We dived down and got within range of our targets below a thousand feet and then we gave them "the works". We attacked them in pairs, one of us giving the enemy a good burst and the other doing what he could to finish him off.

And this is what happened to me: first of all I went after one Junkersa sergeant-pilot followed when I broke away and did him a lot more damage. The bomber went waffling out to sea, looking very sorry for himself. Bits had been shot off him, so we claimed him for a probable as he didn't look as though he would get very far. Then looking round again I saw another bomber at only a few hundred feet above the sea. So I got right behind him and opened fire and kept on firing all the time I was overtaking him. I could see my bullets hitting him and his rear-gunner stopped firing almost immediately. Then I got really close to him and shot him up again.

Suddenly the Junkers blew up in the air. I think I must have hit a bomb, for there was a yellow flash and a cloud of black smoke. The explosion gave me a bump for as I broke away, blinded by the smoke, my Hurricane shuddered and dropped quite a distance. I couldn't see what happened to the bomber after that, but some of the boys said afterwards that it fell in little pieces over quite a big area of the sea. It was an extraordinary showone moment the bomber was there, the next there was a big cloud of black smoke in its place.

After that I circled round for a few minutes searching for something else to take on and soon found another bomber which I attacked with the last of my ammunition. When I had used it all up and had broken away, another of my Hurricanes took over and attacked him. He was so badly damaged that he became one more of our probables.

While this had been going on, the rest of my squadron had been doing grand work and that day was definitely the best day for the squadron that I can remember. It was such a quick job and took only five minutes' fighting to clear the air of Germans. I mentioned just now that we took off at ten minutes past four and at a quarter to five we had landed on our aerodrome again.


A very early Hurricane.


My 'Waiting for Clod' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell, 1872 - 1970.
Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanour. Robert A. Heinlein, 1907 - 1988.
#2975251 - 03/12/10 07:18 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 53.

November, 1940

A TALK ON ELEMENTARY FLYING TRAINING

BY A FLIGHT LIEUTENANT INSTRUCTOR

I'VE been doing elementary flying instruction for a couple of years now, and during that time many lads have passed through my hands and have become pilots.

At the school where I am an instructor we use light training types of aircraft. The particular type I instruct on has certain special qualities. In the first place it is easy to fly somehow, in the second place it is difficult to fly really well, and lastly, but perhaps most important of all, you have to fly it very badly and foolishly if you are going to crash it and possibly hurt yourself.

I would like to say just a word about this term "Elementary Instruction". A surprisingly large number of our pupils have never been in the air and in nine cases out of ten the pupil has never before handled the controls of an aeroplane. But at the end of his elementary training the pupil can, by himself, land the aeroplane consistently well, find his way from one aerodrome to another maybe fifty or more miles away, perform all the usual aerobatics, fly under the hood by the sole use of his instruments, and make a safe landing almost anywhere in the event of an engine failure. When he leaves us he goes on to the Service Flying Training School, where he carries out more advanced training.
I think the best way of giving you a picture of elementary training from the instructor's point of view is for me to try and describe the sequence of instruction from the day a new pupil arrives until the day he leaves.

When a batch of new pupils arrive at the school they are divided into two squads so that while one squad is flying, the other squad is attending lectures. Each instructor is given his quota: it may be any number between two and seven. Next morning all the pupils are to be found waiting outside their changing room looking, not unnaturally, rather uncomfortable at first in their new flying kit. I remember on one hot summer afternoon, I found a new pupil clad in a Sidcot suit with teddy-bear lining, lambskin flying-boots, two pairs of gloves and a thick woollen scarf wound several times round his neck! I think he must have been wearing every single item of kit with which he had been issued. Actually, of course, a light overall to keep one's shirt and trousers clean is all that is necessary in that sort of weather.

Then, having found my pupil, I have a chat with him so that I can size him up and find out whether he has had any flying experience. The pupil then gets into the rear cockpit and I show him how to secure his safety harness and connect up his telephone so that we can talk to each other when we ate in the air. After explaining to him the various controls and instruments and telling him to leave everything alone for the time being, I get into the front cockpit, start the engine, taxi out and we take off.

The first quarter of an hour is taken up in climbing gently to about 3,000 feet while I point out some of the local landmarks and try to get him to settle down in his new environment.

After that the pupil begins to learn how to fly. First of all, I show him the effect of each control, making him try them himself and he learns that by co-ordinating them he can keep the aeroplane first straight, then level, and in the end, both straight and level. After about half an hour of this we fly back to the aerodrome, the pupil flying the aeroplane as far as possible, though as soon as we get near the aerodrome I take over and make the approach and landing. That ends the pupil's first lesson.

Before we actually take off for the next flightprobably about an hour laterI show him how to start the engine and how to taxi the aeroplane about the aerodrome. We then take off again, climb to a reasonable height and do a bit more straight and level flying. If he is a fairly apt pupil he goes a stage further and learns how to climb, how to glide, and what happens when flying speed is lost and the aeroplane stalls.

I should like to emphasise that, from the very earliest stage, as far as possible the pupil does all the flying except during short intervals for demonstration. Of course, the instructor has to do the taking-off and landing during the first few hours of dual, but as soon as the pupil can put up some sort of a show he does all these manoeuvres himself, assisted by advice only if it should be necessary.

The third day probably sees a start made in taking-off and landing. He will now spend anything between three and ten hours doing practically nothing else but taking-off, flying round the aerodrome, gliding down and landing. In other words doing circuits and bumps.

It isn't that the actual landing or take off is difficult in itself, but judgment has to be developed and there is a great deal to judge! For instance, the pupil has to find out the strength and direction of the wind, his speed over the ground, his height and whether he is going to clear the hedge comfortably or whether the instructor's voice is going to come down the telephone: "Put your engine on and go round again." All these important points and many others have to be studied.

During this period the pupil is learning much more than just how to take off and how to land. He is improving his flying all the time. He is beginning to feel that he is really part of the aeroplane and he learns to manoeuvre his machine so as to avoid other aircraft, whether they are in the air near him or sitting on the ground just where he thinks he is going to land.

Then, after what seems like ages to the pupil, I decide he is just about ready to fly solo. At about this stage, he will do a trip with the flight commander or some other instructor who either confirms my view or suggests some weakness which he has spotted and which must be put right before the pupil finds himself in the air alone. When we are quite satisfied about him, the great moment arrives. I undo my straps. "Off you go." I tell him: "One more circuit like the last, but by yourself this time. Don't be afraid to put your engine on and go round again if things don't work out just as they should, but I know you'll be all right." As I get out of the cockpit I secure the straps so that they will not foul the controls; and another fledgling spreads his wings.

I watch him make his circuit, confident in the knowledge that the landing on a pupil's first solo is usually his best so far. When he has landed, he taxis back feeling like a dog with two tails. "Don't get away with the idea that you are a pilot already," I warn him, "you've got a lot to learn yet." However, it would take more than that to damp his present enthusiasm.

So instruction goes on and as each new stage is reached, the pupil goes off to practise solo what he has learnt dual. From time to time he will be taken up by the flight commander or the chief flying instructor for a test. He learns how to put the aeroplane into difficult situations, such as a spin, and how to recover from them. He learns what to do in the event of a sudden engine failure. A forced landing means finding the direction of the wind, selecting a suitable field, and losing height so that the aeroplane can be brought into the field and landed just as on the aerodrome. This needs quite a lot of practice because there is no engine to put on to go round again and have another shot at it. He is taught cross-country navigation by the aid of his compass and map. Every now and then he has to pull a hood over his cockpit and he is taught to fly by the use of instruments only. This enables him eventually to fly long distances through cloud or fog. He is shown how to perform such aerobatics as the loop, slow roll, roll off the top of a loop and others.

And all the time ground subjects and flying are going along side by side, and in a relatively short time he has learnt all that we can teach him and he is ready to go on to his Service Flying Training School.

You may imagine that instructing is a tedious job. Not a bit of it! It's the most interesting job in the world. No two pupils are ever alike. Each requires different handling; for instance, checking the over-confident one, encouraging another who rather lacks confidence, and so on, until eventually the high standard required is reached and the standard is high, as high as ever it was, in spite of the present intensive training. It takes a lot of patience, but it seems a worthwhile job when your ex-pupils come back to visit you with several Messerschmitts to their credit. Good luck to them all.


Flying training in a Tiger Moth ...


... and in North American Harvards.

Last edited by RedToo; 03/12/10 07:19 PM.

My 'Waiting for Clod' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell, 1872 - 1970.
Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanour. Robert A. Heinlein, 1907 - 1988.
#2979384 - 03/19/10 07:59 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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November, 1940

ATTACK ON LORIENT SUBMARINE BASE

BY A FLIGHT LIEUTENANT

You may remember a rather exciting film called "The Dawn Patrol". If you do, it is just a point of interest for me to begin by saying that I belong to the Royal Air Force Squadron that was represented in it. The squadron dates back to the last war. It is still going strong, taking its share now in the vast work that is being done day and night by the Coastal Command.

Lately, our squadron has been doing its bit in making the ports on the other side of the Channel uncomfortable for their temporary tenants. Cherbourg, Brest and Lorient have been most frequently on our daily lists. Lorient was probably a new one on many people. It was a new one on most of us when we were first told to bomb it.

Our attacks on Lorient are now regular news. Lorienton the Brittany coast about ninety miles south of Bresthas become a U-boat base and maintenance depot. It isn't giving away any secrets to say that our targets there are power stations, naval yards, slipways, torpedo workshops and so on. Some of us have been so often to Lorient lately that we must know the way into and around it better than its temporary German inhabitants. Now we know every yard of the country and its landmarks. We always see Lorient clearly when we attack itat dusk or dawn, or in light provided by the moon or by our flares.

And the enemy always gives us a hot reception. All sorts of stuff come up at uslight and heavy shells, flaming red things which we call "onions" and what-not.

The other night the armourers of our Squadron were given their first operational flight. Their job is on the groundto fit and load our bombs. The idea in taking them with us was that they could study what happens when their bombs burst.

"How did you get on?" one of them was asked afterwards.

"Coogreat stuff," was the reply, "all the colours of the rainbow. Lovely it was from the gallery seat." I don't think I would choose the word "lovely" myself, but let it pass.

I wonder if I can give you a sort of mental picture of how we set about things on one of these raids. An hour before the take-off we assemble in the Operations Room to be told all about the job in hand. Then off everyone goes to attend to his own particular end of things. The observer gets the weather report; a gunner who is also the wireless operator makes certain that the guns are O.K. Then he checks up the recognition signals and the wireless frequencies and sees that the pigeons are in their wicker basket we always take homing pigeons with us. And the pilot gets into his head all he can about the trip and the targets.

Before we leave the ground I test the microphone which enables me to talk to the gunner in the rear turret and to the rest of the crew.

"Hello, gunnerare you all right behind?"

And then to the observer: "Hello, observer, course to steer, please."

Some of us carry mascots. I always have the joker of a pack of playing cards and a couple of German bulletsrelics of being shot up on one trip.

And now come with me over Lorient. As we approach it the observer suddenly shouts: "I see the targetyes, I've got it!" "O.K." I say. "Master switch and fusing switch on!" These are the switches which control the fusing and the release of the bombs. Round just once more to make quite certain. The docks and the outlines of the naval buildings show up a little more clearly. Then I throttle the engines back.

"Running on now," I tell the observer.

"O.K.," he says, "leftleftthat's itsteadya shade righthold itNOW!"

He presses the electric button which releases the bombs. The aircraft gives a slight shudder as they go through the doors.

"Bombs gone!" cries the observer.

Down they go, hundredweight after hundredweight of high explosive. My observer is watching for the results. Have we scored hits or just got near misses? I see many bright flashes. Then big flames flick skywards like the fiery tongues of monster serpents. Showers and towers of ruddy sparks burst from the ground.

My observer nearly jumps from his seat, waving his hands in excitement. "We've hit itwe've hit it!" he yells. "We've damned well hit it!" Then home we goour umpteenth visit to Lorient on the Brittany coast has ended.


A couple of Hurricane pics. First the site of John W.C . Simpsons crash in his Hurricane in 1940:


February 21, 1940
Last night I had the first crash I've had since I've been in the Service. I am very lucky to be alive.
We were night flying and it was a pitch black night. Something went wrong with my motor soon after I took off. I was terrified, as I was too low to bale out and I knew that I must crash. I have told you, I think, how strong our Hurricanes are. My being alive now is proof of that all right.
It happened very quickly. I kept the aircraft straight and my speed as far as I could see at 100 m.p.h. I couldn't put down the flaps. I just hit the top of a haystack which broke off half my propeller and sent me bouncing up into the air again, then a telegraph pole was cut in half, clean as a whistle, with the top still hanging on the wires. Then into the side of a wood of larch trees. My head felt as if it had come off, and there was blood coming out of me everywhere. The noise was colossal. I was terrified I would burn and somehow got out and ran away from the wreckage. I then passed out on the side of a road. I came to just before they found meCaesar and Eddieit took a long time. Caesar's first remark was, " God, he's alive. John, you twirp. I thought you were dead. I've just been to your room and pinched your electric razor !
They were sweet to me then and helped me to the car and sick quarters.
I look pretty bloody as I've broken my nose and my cheekbone and I'm bruised to hell. But I don't have to go to bed, and I'm getting a week's leave after the Doc. has seen me to-night. I have had to wait in case I am concussed.
We looked at the wreckage to-day. It's amazing. There is practically nothing left except the cockpit. I cut down a nice piece of the wood36 trees.


Members of 43 Squadron in the North of Scotland.
Left to right: Sergeant Buck, Pilot Officer A. Woods-Scawen, Flight Lieutenant C.B. Hull, Flying Officer Wilkinson, Sergeant Garton.

These pics and description from the book Combat Report by Hector Bolitho, published in 1943. By the way, does anyone have any info. on JWC Simpson? Did he survive the war? Combat report ends in 1941 and I have not been able to find out anything more about him.

Update 21 6 13. Hurrah! The internet comes up trumps. A short life of JWC Simpson:

http://www.bbm.org.uk/SimpsonJWC.htm

Very sad. He committed suicide:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=_rcsE...949&f=false

RedToo.



Last edited by RedToo; 06/21/13 09:59 PM.

My 'Waiting for Clod' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell, 1872 - 1970.
Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanour. Robert A. Heinlein, 1907 - 1988.
#2983648 - 03/26/10 08:13 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 55.

November, 1940

THE FIRST FIGHT WITH THE ITALIAN RAIDERS

BY A CANADIAN FLIGHT COMMANDER

The first raid by the Italian Air Force on Great Britain was an event keenly awaited by the fighter pilots of the Royal Air Force. The luck of the draw fell to a Hurricane squadron. But when the Italians came over that day, the squadron leader, much to his annoyance, was having a day off, and the squadron was led into combat by a Canadian flight commander from Edmonton, Alberta. Here is the story of the fight.

WELL, we started with the usual afternoon blitz, just like any other day during the past three months, and we were ordered up on patrol out to sea. Our job was to join up with another Hurricane squadron, as their bodyguard. When we were about 12,000 feet up, I saw nine planes of a type I had never seen before, coming along. They were in tight "V" formation. I didn't like to rush in bald-headed, until I knew what they were, so the squadron went up above them to have a good look at them. Then I realised that at any rate they were not British, and that was good enough for me. So we went into attack starting with the rear starboard bomber and crossing over to attack the port wing of the formation.

I must say that the Italians as they turned out to be, stood up to it very well. They kept their tight formation and were making for the thick cloud cover at 20,000 feet, but our tactics were to break them up before they could do that and we succeeded. I singled out one of the enemy and gave him a burst. Immediately he went straight up into a loop. I thought he was foxing me as I had never seen a bomber do that sort of thing before. So I followed him when he suddenly went down in a vertical dive. I still followed, waiting for him to pull out. Then I saw a black dot move away from him and a puff like a white mushroom someone baling out. The next second the bomber seemed to start crumpling up and it suddenly burst into hundreds of small pieces. They fell down to the sea like a snowstorm. I must have killed the pilot. I think he fell back, pulling the stick with him that's what caused the loop. Then he probably slumped forward, putting the plane into an uncontrollable dive. But what usually happens then is that the wing or the tail falls off, and it was a surprising sight to see the plane just burst into small pieces.

Then I started to climb again and I saw another two of the bombers in the sky. They were mixed up in a fight and were both streaming smoke. At that moment another one shot past me flaming like a torch, and plunged into the sea. After seeing that I thought the battle was over and I could go home, but just as I turned to do so I saw a dog-fight going on up above with another type of aeroplane I had never seen before. They were Fiat fighter biplanes. There must have been about twenty of them milling round with the Hurricanes. I went up to join in the party, but the fighter I singled out saw me coming and went into a quick turn with me on his tail. His plane was very manoeuvrable, but so was the Hurricane and we stuck closely enough together while I got in two or three bursts. It was a long dog-fight, as dog-fights go. We did tight turns, climbing turns and half-rolls till it seemed we would never stop. Neither of us was getting anywhere until one of my bursts seemed to hit him and he started waffling. For a moment he looked completely out of control and then he came in at me and we started all this merry-go-round business over again. I got in two or three more bursts and then ran out of ammunition. That put me in a bit of a fix and I didn't know what to do next. I was afraid if I left his tail he would get on to mine. Then he straightened uphe was just thirty yards ahead and I was a few feet above. At that moment I decided that as I could not shoot him down I would try and knock him out of the sky with my aeroplane. I went kind of hay-wire. It suddenly occurred to me what a good idea it would be to scare the living daylight out of him. I aimed for the centre of his top main plane, did a quick dive and pulled out just before crashing into him. I felt a very slight bump, but I never saw him again and somehow I don't think he got back.

By now the scene had changed a bit. Another squadron of Hurricanes was chasing the Italians all over the sky. I did not know at the time, but I found when I got down that their squadron leader was a great friend of mine from my home town of Edmonton, Alberta.

He bagged a couple in that fight.

And now I thought it's home for me, but the day wasn't over yet. As I was flying back, keeping a good look-out behind, I saw a Hurricane below me, having the same kind of affair with a Fiat as I had just had. I went down and did a dummy head-on attack on the Italian. At 200 yards he turned away and headed out to sea. I thought: "Good, I really can get home this time," but just before I got to the coast, still keeping a good look-out behind, I saw another Hurricane, with three Fiats close together worrying him. So down I went again, feinting another head-on attack, and again when I was about 200 yards away the Italians broke off and headed for home. That really was the end of the battle.

I was a bit worried because my plane had started to vibrate badly, but I managed to land all right. Just as I had got out of my Hurricane and was walking awaymy fitter and rigger ran after me saying that I had six inches missing from one of my propeller blades and nine inches from another. All the same, it certainly was a grand day for the squadron.


Re-fuelling and re-arming a Hurricane.

Last edited by RedToo; 03/26/10 09:43 PM.

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The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell, 1872 - 1970.
Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanour. Robert A. Heinlein, 1907 - 1988.
#2988055 - 04/02/10 11:06 AM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 56.

December, 1940

AN UNUSUAL COMBAT AND BALE-OUT

BY A FIGHTER FLIGHT LIEUTENANT

This Flight Lieutenant was awarded the Victoria Cross

THAT day was a glorious day. The sun was shining from a cloudless sky and there was hardly a breath of wind anywhere. Our squadron was going towards Southampton on patrol at 15,000 feet when I saw three Junkers 88 bombers about four miles away flying across our bows. I reported this to our squadron-leader and he replied: "Go after them with your section." So I led my section of aircraft round towards the bombers. We chased hard after them, but when we were about a mile behind we saw the 88s fly straight into a squadron of Spitfires. I used to fly a Spitfire myself and I guessed it was curtains for the three Junkers. I was right and they were all shot down in quick time, with no pickings for us. I must confess I was very disappointed, for I had never fired at a Hun in my life and was longing to have a crack at them.

So we swung round again and started to climb up to 18,000 feet over Southampton, to rejoin our squadron. I was still a long way from the squadron when suddenly, very close in rapid succession, I heard four big bangs. They were the loudest noises I had ever heard, and they had been made by four cannon shells from a Messerschmitt 110 hitting my machine.

The first shell tore through the hood over my cockpit and sent splinters into my left eye. One splinter, I discovered later, nearly severed my eyelid. I couldn't see through that eye for blood. The second cannon shell struck my spare petrol tank and set it on fire. The third shell crashed into the cockpit and tore off my right trouser leg.

The fourth shell struck the back of my left shoe. It shattered the heel of the shoe and made quite a mess of my left foot. But I didn't know anything about that, either, until later. Anyway, the effect of these four shells was to make me dive away to the right to avoid further shells. Then I started cursing myself for my carelessness. What a fool I had been, I thought, what a fool!

I was just thinking of jumping out when suddenly a Messerschmitt 110 whizzed under me and got right in my gun-sights. Fortunately, no damage had been done to my windscreens or sights and when I was chasing the Junkers, I had switched everything on. So everything was set for a fight.

I pressed the gun button, for the Messerschmitt was in nice range; I plugged him first time and I could see my tracer bullets entering the German machine. He was going like mad, twisting and turning as he tried to get away from my fire. So I pushed the throttle wide open. Both of us must have been doing about 400 m.p.h. as we went down together in a dive. First he turned left, then right, then left and right again. He did three turns to the right and finally a fourth turn to the left. I remember shouting out loud at him when I first saw him: "I'll teach you some manners, you Hun," and I shouted other things as well. I knew I was getting him nearly all the time I was firing.

By this time it was pretty hot inside my machine from the burst petrol tank. I couldn't see much flame, but I reckon it was there all right. I remember looking once at my left hand which was keeping the throttle open. It seemed to be in the fire itself and I could see the skin peeling off it. Yet I had little pain. Unconsciously too, I had drawn my feet up under my parachute on the seat, to escape the heat, I suppose.

Well, I gave the Hun all I had, and the last I saw of him was when he was going down, with his right wing lower than the left wing. I gave him a parting burst and as he had disappeared, started thinking about saving myself. I decided it was about time I left the aircraft and baled out, so I immediately jumped up from my seat. But first of all I hit my head against the frame-work of the hood, which was all that was left. I cursed myself for a fool, pulled the hood back (wasn't I relieved when it slid back beautifully) and jumped up again. Once again I bounced back into my seat, for I had forgotten to undo the straps holding me in. One of them snapped and so I only had one to undo. Then I left the machine.

I suppose I was about 12 to 15,000 feet when I baled out. Immediately I started somersaulting downwards and after a few turns like that I found myself diving head first for the ground. After a second or two of this, I decided to pull the rip-cord. The result was that I immediately straightened up and began to float down. Then an aircrafta Messerschmitt, I thinkcame tearing past me. I decided to pretend I was dead, and hung limply by the parachute straps. The Messerschmitt came back once, and I kept my eyes closed, but I didn't get the bullets I was half expecting. I don't know if he fired at me; the main thing is that I wasn't hit.

While I was coming down like that I had a look at myself. I could see the bones of my left hand showing through the knuckles.

Then for the first time I discovered I'd been wounded in the foot. Blood was oozing out of the lace-holes of my left boot. My right hand was pretty badly burned, too. So I hung down a bit longer and then decided to try my limbs, just to see if they would workthank goodness they did. I still had my oxygen mask over my face, but my hands were in too bad a state to take it off. I tried to, but I couldn't manage it.

I found, too, that I had lost one trouser-leg and the other was badly torn and my tunic was just like a lot of torn rags, so I wasn't looking very smart. Then, after a bit more of this dangling down business, I began to ache all over and my hands and legs began to hurt a lot.

When I got lower, I saw I was in danger of coming down in the sea. I knew I didn't stand an earthly if I did, because I wouldn't have been able to swim a stroke with my hands like that. So I wriggled about a bit and managed to float inland. Then I saw a high tension cable below me and thought it would finish me if I hit that. So I wriggled a bit more and aimed at a nice open field.

When I was about 100 feet from the ground I saw a cyclist and heard him ring his bell. I was surprised to hear the bicycle-bell and realised that I had been coming down in absolute silence. I bellowed at the cyclist, but I don't suppose he heard me. Finally, I touched down in the field and fell over. Fortunately it was a still day. My parachute just floated down and stayed down without dragging me along, as they sometimes do.

I had a piece of good news almost immediately. One of the people who came along and who had watched the combat, said they had seen the Messerschmitt 110 dive straight into the sea, so it hadn't been such a bad day after all.


Flight Lieutenant J. B. Nicolson, V.C.


Press Release from the Air Ministry in 1940:

AIR MINISTRY NEWS SERVICE

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED BEFORE THE MORNING NEWSPAPERS OF NOVEMBER 15TH,1940, OR BROADCAST BEFORE 0700 HOURS B.S.T. ON THAT DATE.

FIRST V.C. AWARDED TO FIGHTER PILOT.

ROYAL AIR FORCE AWARD NO.132.

The Victoria Cross which has been awarded to Flight Lieutenant J.B. Nicolson (A.M. Bulletin No.2255) is the first V.C. to be won by a fighter pilot since the war began.
He has gained his V.C. for refusing to jump from a blazing Hurricane until he had destroyed his enemy although it was his first fight and he had been twice wounded. For forty-eight hours doctors fought for his life but now he has almost completely recovered.

Flight Lieutenant Nicolson, who is 23, was on patrol near the Southampton area with his squadron on the early afternoon of August 16th. He saw three Junkers 88 bombers crossing the bows of the squadron about four miles away, and he was detailed to chase a Junkers with his section.

He got within a mile of them, and then he saw a squadron of Spitfires attack and shoot them down, so he turned back to join his squadron, climbing from 15,000 to 18,000 feet.
Suddenly, as he himself said, there were four big bangs inside his aircraft. They were cannon shells from a Messerschmitt 110. One tore through the hood and sent splinters to his left eye. The second cannon shell struck his spare petrol tank which exploded, and set the machine on fire. The third shell crashed into the cockpit and tore away his trouser leg. The fourth hit his left boot and wounded his heel.

As Flight Lieutenant Nicolson turned to avoid further shots into his burning aeroplane, he suddenly found that the Me110 had overtaken him and was right in his gunsight. His dashboard was shattered and was, in his own words, "Dripping like treacle" with the heat. The Messerschmitt was two hundred yards in front and both were diving at about 400 m.p.h.
As Flight Lieutenant Nicolson pressed the gun button he could see his right thumb blistering in the heat. He could also see his left hand, which was holding the throttle open, blistering in the flames.

The Messerschmitt zig-zagged this way and that trying to avoid the hail of fire from the blazing Hurricane. By this time the heat was so great that Nicolson had to put his feet on the seat beneath his parachute. He continued the flight for several minutes until the Messerschmitt disappeared in a steep dive. Eyewitnesses later reported that they had seen it crash a few miles out to sea.

On losing sight of the enemy, Nicolson attempted to jump out, but struck his head on the hood above him. He immediately threw back the hood and tried to jump again. Then he realised he had not undone the strap holding him in the cockpit. One of these straps broke. He undid the other, and at last succeeded in jumping out.

He dived head first, and after several somersaults in the air pulled the rip-cord with considerable difficulty. It took him something like twenty minutes to reach the ground.
A Messerschmitt came screaming past, and as he floated down, he pretended that he was dead. When the Me. had gone he noticed for the first time that his left heel had been struck. Blood was oozing out of the lace holes in his boots. He tried to see what other injuries he had received and found that he was able to move all his limbs.

At one moment as he was coming down, he thought he would hit a high tension cable but managed to manoeuvre in the sky so that he missed it. Reaching the ground, he saw a cyclist and managed to land in a field near to him. When help came Flight Lieutenant Nicolson immediately dictated a telegram to his wife in Yorkshire to say that he had been shot down but was safe.

He looked at his watch, and found it still ticking though the glass had melted and the strap had burned to a thread.

"When I saw the Messerschmitt in front of me I remember shouting out, 'I'll teach you some manners you Hun'", he said later, "I am glad I got him, though perhaps pilots who have had more experience of air fighting would have done the wise thing and baled out immediately the aircraft caught fire. I did not think of anything at the time but to shoot him down.

"Curiously enough, although the heat inside must have been intense, in the excitement I did not feel much pain. In fact, I remember watching the skin being burnt off my left hand. All I was concerned about was keeping the throttle open to get my first Hun. I must confess that I felt all in as I came down. I confess too that I might faint, but I did not lose consciousness at all. Thinking of the shock I know follows severe burning I asked the doctors who examined me a shot of morphine just in case.

"All I am anxious about now is to get back to flying and have another crack at the Germans. After all, I feel that after four years training should qualify me for more than one Hun, and I want to have my fair share.

Flight Lieutenant Nicolson, who joined the R.A.F. in 1936 was posted to a Spitfire squadron the following year and stayed with it until he was given command of a flight with his present Hurricane squadron. He was married a year before the war broke out. A month after his fight, his wife gave birth to a son.

His parents live in Buckingham Road, Shoreham.

The young V.C. is about to join his wife and baby for three weeks' leave, but will have to return to the convalescent hospital for further treatment to his hands before he can be pronounced fit.

Last night he took part in the hospital concert, crooning and playing a tin whistle as one of the "Harmony Boys".


Directorate of Public Relations,
Air Ministry,
King Charles St.,
Whitehall, S.W.1.
Issued to M.O.I. at 1553 hours.
Issued by M.O.I. at 1740 hours.
14th November, 1940.

Last edited by RedToo; 04/05/10 05:36 PM.

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The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell, 1872 - 1970.
Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanour. Robert A. Heinlein, 1907 - 1988.
#2992105 - 04/09/10 03:41 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 57.

December, 1940

THE R.A.F. BOMBS A U-BOAT

BY A CANADIAN FLYING OFFICER OF COASTAL COMMAND

FOR some time we had been looking forward to catching a U-boat sitting as pretty as the one we attacked the other day. We had sighted U-boats several times before, while we were patrolling the North Sea, but too often they were able to spot us and submerge before we could attack, and then we had to rely on damage done to them when they were beneath the water.

This time we attacked one just as it was stepping into its own back-yard. It was the sort of chance that we in Coastal Command dream of.

Our reconnaissance patrol of three Lockheed Hudsons was near the Norwegian coast, and we had just turned to come back, when we found the U-boat slinking home. We were flying at about 7,000 feet in clear weather, when we saw it only a few miles away. Its outline was unmistakable. We were up-sun, so our position was ideal and I hoped we could deliver a shock attack before the German look-out men saw us.

We wasted no time. "Tich," my co-pilot, was flying at the time, and we turned towards the U-boat, leading the other two aircraft. We went into a spiral dive, and I climbed down into the nose and checked the bombing gear.

I don't think the Jerry realised he was being attacked until he saw us screaming down with our bomb doors open. It was then far too late for him to submerge, but the gun on his conning-tower opened fire at us from about 300 yards. We felt the aircraft being hit two or three times, but carried on with the attack and released the bombs in a stick. One of the bombs scored a direct hit on him just abaft the conning-tower and others burst close beside his hull. We passed directly over the U-boat while we were still diving.

As Tich tried to level out, he pulled the stick right back. Nothing happened! The elevator had been hit and was quite useless. The sea was coming up at us pretty fast and the question wascould we pull out before we hit the water? I had my fingers crossed! But Tich knows his jobwe've been in some tight spots togetherand he got to work on the tail trimmer. This is manipulated by a little handle like that on an old-fashioned telephone. Tich was winding away for all he was worth, and at the same time opening the throttles to get the maximum help from the engines.

It all happened so fast that I hardly had time to appreciate our narrow squeak, and a few seconds later we managed to manoeuvre into a climbing turn.

The other two Hudsons had followed behind us, delivering further attacks. We turned round just in time to see the last of the U-boat. The other bombs had dropped right beside it and we saw its stern lift right out of the water. It submerged nose first and I saw its fins and elevators disappear in a swirl of oil and bubbles. We thought it most unlikely that it would ever return to its base. And that was that.

So then we started on our flight home, which we knew would be a tricky business without the elevator. As we left the U-boat, Tich shook the stick backwards and forwards, and laughed at me when nothing happened. (Tich, I may say, has a particularly broad and infectious grin that goes right across his face.) I checked the petrol tanks and found one was empty and another leaking. Nearly 150 gallons had so far gone with the wind. I laughed back at Tich!

But we found that by using the tail trimmer we could keep a fairly straight course, although we were porpoising a bit. The awkward moment, of course, was going to be when we tried to land the aircraft in one piece. So on the way back we talked over how it was to be done. With no elevator, the difficulty would be, of course, to stop the aircraft gliding straight into the ground, for the elevator determines your angle of flightclimbing, gliding or flying level.

So we decided to split up the controls between us. I was to work the wing-flaps and throttles, while Tich would make the best possible use of ailerons and rudders. The tail trimmer, which had helped us to pull out of the dive on the submarine, wouldn't be much use now because of the slower landing speed.

Thank goodness our remaining petrol was sufficient to take us back to our base, and on arriving there we circled round to land. The medical officer, who is inclined to be a bit pessimistic, was out on the aerodrome with his ambulance, but we didn't plan to give him any business this time. Tich was quite rude about it. He seemed to regard the doctor's precautions as a reflection on his piloting abilities!

As we approached to land, the rear gunner left his turret and jettisoned the door to facilitate jumping out if it became necessary, but, thanks to our pre-arranged plan, everything went well. We had a hectic few minutes, but in the end landed very nicely. I have seen plenty worse landings with everything working properly. The other two aircraft had escorted us home, and were very relieved that we got down whole. As a matter of fact, so were we!


A U-boat surrenders to aircraft.


My 'Waiting for Clod' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell, 1872 - 1970.
Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanour. Robert A. Heinlein, 1907 - 1988.
#2996575 - 04/17/10 07:37 AM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 57. Sorry its late RL intervened.

December, 1940

A SQUADRON LEADER DESCRIBES HIS SQUADRON'S BATTLE WITH THE ITALIANS

The commanding officer of 603 (City of Edinburgh) Auxiliary Fighter Squadron, who gives the following account of his most successful day, has fought with the squadron right from the beginning of the war. When the first raiders appeared over British soil in 1939, his squadron was the first to go into action and he himself was one of the first to open fire on enemy aircraft over this country, lie was a pilot officer then. Now he has been in command for several monthsmonths during which the squadron has added over 100 victims to their previous score.

IN this particular battle I was largely in the position of a spectator, so I can tell you all about it. I was leading the squadron when my engine began to misfire and splutter. So I called up one of my flight-commanders and told him to lead while I broke away and tried to clear my engine. By diving and roaring the engine, I managed to make it run smoothly again and then took up position at the rear of the squadron.

We had taken off at about eleven-forty that morning. It was a sunny day with a slight ground haze which developed into mist from 18,000 feet up to about 26,000 feet. We were on a routine patrol with another squadron and after patrolling for forty or fifty minutes we were ordered to go here and there to investigate various raids which were reported over land and near the coast. While we were climbing through some cloud we lost touch with the other squadron.

We carried on alone and were on a southerly course approaching Dover, when we were warned to look out for a formation of Italian aircraft. Every man was immediately on the alert. By this time I was at the back of the squadron and I heard the formation leader suddenly report aircraft dead ahead of us. At the same time someone else reported unidentified aircraft to the east, but the leader wisely held our course to fly towards the aircraft he had already seen. After a couple of minutes we saw the enemy aircraft flying south-west down the Channel. They were still some distance away and were 1,000 feet below us. They were Italian fightersC.R. 42sand were well over the sea flying at about 20,000 feet. When I first had a good look at them they gave me the impression of a party out on a quiet little jaunt. There were about twenty of them, flying along quite happily in good formation.

When the leader gave the order to attack and told us to sweep round and down on their tails, we were in a very advantageous position. Our machines must be about 100 m.p.h. faster than the Italian fighters and it was dead easy to overtake them and blaze away. They were flying in a sort of wide fan-like formation and when we went to attack each of our pilots selected his particular target. You can imagine how effective the first few dives were when I tell you that one of our pilots at one time saw six Italian fighters either on fire or spinning down towards the sea.

The Italians looked quite toy-like in their brightly-coloured camouflage and I remember thinking that it seemed almost a shame to shoot down such pretty machines. I must have been wrong, for the pilot who saw six going down at the same time said afterwards that it was a glorious sight. But I must say this about the Eye-Ties: they showed fight in a way the Germans have never done with our squadron. It is true, though that they seemed amateurish in their reactions. By that I mean they were slow to realise that we were anywhere near them until it was too late. Another thing, they kept their formation very well, but it didn't save them.

After a short while the Italians were dodging this way and that to escape our aircraft as best they could. One of them broke formation and turned towards France. I chased him and fired at him several times. I believe I hit him, too, and would have finished him off if my engine hadn't begun to splutter again when I was half-way across the Channel. So I left him to limp home while I turned towards the English coast to find the rest of the battle. It had vanished by this time, so I came home. The whole fight lasted only ten or fifteen minutes.


The long hot summer of 1940.


My 'Waiting for Clod' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell, 1872 - 1970.
Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanour. Robert A. Heinlein, 1907 - 1988.
#3000288 - 04/23/10 08:13 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 58.

December, 1940

A CHANNEL CONVOY

BY A FLIGHT LIEUTENANT OF BALLOON COMMAND

Before the war the waters round our shores were full of merchant vessels, carrying what is known as coast-wise traffic. They called, I suppose, at almost every port around our shores, picking up a cargo here, landing a cargo there. The particular coast traffic with which I am concerned is what is known as the Channel Convoy and we help in escorting merchant vessels through the Straits of Dover and down the Channel. Before the collapse of France this was a reasonably easy task, but nowadays you see, there is a certain difference of opinion between Mr. Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler as to whom this stretch of water actually belongs to.

Now, as you know, the Navy are past-masters at escorting convoys; they know every trick of the trade and should Jerry's fertile imagination create some new situation which had not previously arisen, they would soon adapt themselves to deal with their novelty. One new situation that he has created however, is that of the dive-bomber and whereas this method of attack is in no way confined to this stretch of water, it is certainly much more likely to be met with than in most other parts. Now, a ship at sea, when all said and done, is really a very small target, providing the attacking planes are not allowed to dive too low, and it is here where we of the Balloon Barrage do our bit. Each convoy is accompanied by vessels of the Royal Navy, carrying balloons; these are placed at vantage points amongst the convoy, thus, in a sense, the escorted vessels are placed inside a box, with the Navy acting as the four walls of the box and the balloons acting as a lid. You may wonder how efficacious are these balloons in a dive-bombing attack. Actually I have never spoken to a German pilot so as to know what they think of them, but I have discussed the subject on many occasions with our own pilots and they have invariably told me that they hate them like hell, treat them with the greatest respect and avoid them like the plague. I must say that from my own personal experience, when Jerry has made an attack on us, he seems to concur with our own pilots' views, as invariably he sends Me. 109s over first to attempt to shoot down the balloons, thereby making way for the dive-bombers following very close behind them. We have our own method of competing with those 109s and I must say it seems extremely effective, as on many occasions the bombers have arrived only to find all the balloons still flying, with the result that dive-bombing has to be turned into precision bombing, which considerably reduces their accuracy. To give you some idea of what one of these trips is like I want you to imagine that you are with us on one of these convoys. It is about tea-time and we are heading south towards the Straits; the sun is setting over the English coast and we wallow along at a steady pre-arranged speed. The black-and-red colours of the merchant vessels are flanked by the sleek grey lines of the escort vessels. Overhead the silver of the balloons shines in the fading light. Every man is on the "qui vive", every gun is manned, and it would be idle to deny that we are all keyed up. Suddenly out of the setting sun three planes are spotted, guns are trained on them, but our fire is heldare they hostile or friendly? In a matter of seconds there is a roar, and it is seen that each plane is diving at a different balloon. All our guns open fire and the dusk is lit up with hundreds of tracer bullets. By this time the planes are turning again from the east and preparing for a second attack; once more they come and once more hell is let loose from every ship. It is clear that the barrage from the escort vessels is too much for Jerry and he makes off towards the French coast, having failed to destroy the balloons.

At this stage it is a safe bet that the dive-bombers are lurking not very far away, and sure enough, in a very few minutes there is a roar from a very great height as eight or sixteen or twenty-four planes swoop down on the convoy. But things have not gone according to their plans, for the balloons are still flying and they cannot come low to drop their bombs, and, in fact, their dive-bombing is turned into precision bombing. This sudden upset, coupled with the fact that the pilots must keep a weather eye on the balloons and the cables, upsets their accuracy and their bombs fall harmlessly into the sea. They very often fall extremely near to their object, but direct hits have been turned into near misses and no damage is done, and with a zoom the planes return to their bases, many of them, it is hoped, bearing scars to remind them of where they have been. For a moment the tension is relaxed and it is now nearly dark and we are approaching the Straits. Not a light is to be seen, not a cigarette glows, as we creep on steadily, running according to schedule. At this stage we are more or less convinced that the big guns on the coast ought to have been informed of our approach and as the steward said to me on a recent trip: "Will you have your tea served before the shelling or afterwards, sir?" The sun has completely gone and the moon is throwing far too much light on the sea for our liking. The white cliffs of England can be clearly seen and the searchlights light up the sky of the French coast. Suddenly, large flashes are seen on the coast and streams of flaming onions rise out of the sky. More flashes follow and we know that our Bomber Command are having their private party. Apparently no one is taking any notice of uswe hope. Suddenly there is a loud crash and a great column of water rises into the air some distance ahead on the port bow and we know that the minesweepers are doing their work. By now we are in the narrowest part of the Straits. Flashes of bombs from the French coast, the stream of anti-aircraft tracers and the number of searchlights increase, while on the English coast searchlights leap into action as we hear planes pass overhead. Sometimes it seems that the searchlights from the two coasts almost meet above, while we, silent and unobserved, creep down the archway they form. Being optimists, we still believe nobody knows we are therebut this must be numbered among famous last hopes, for from the French coast four wicked yellow flashes light up the sky, and we know that the guns on the French coast have started. The Commander on the bridge invariably turns round and says: "Starting counting chaps," and some seventy-five seconds later four enormous crumps are heard and four great columns of water shoot up into the air. And so it goes on until the whole convoy has steamed out of range of the guns, and we wait for any other surprises Jerry may have for us until dawn breaks when we eagerly count up the ships and satisfy ourselves that all the flock is safe. Then we continue our stately wallow to our appointed destination, whilst Jerry has another "go" by air or not, as the case may be, and I can tell you that it is a grand feeling when it is all over and one has the privilege of seeing the merchantmen, laden to their eyebrows, safely home and knowing that Mr. Winston Churchill is right and that it is his Channel.


Small barrage balloons, called kite balloons, being ferried to a convoy leaving port; the boats collect the balloons from any inward bound ships using them. RAF personnel, stationed at all the major ports, maintained and repaired the equipment. Kite balloons were introduced after the Battle of Britain to try to prevent some of the attacks on shipping suffered at that time: dive-bombing by Junkers 87 Stuka dive-bombers or low flying swoops on ships masts.


This Ju 87 from II./StG 77 made a forced landing at Ham Manor Golf Course, near Angmering. That evening the Home Guard men left the crash site, and by next morning souvenir hunters had stripped the aircraft bare.


My 'Waiting for Clod' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell, 1872 - 1970.
Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanour. Robert A. Heinlein, 1907 - 1988.
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