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#2710461 - 04/19/09 05:44 AM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]
RedToo Offline
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Registered: 11/01/05
Posts: 975
Loc: Bolton UK
Part 8 – Hurricanes and He 113s

June, 1940

THE STORY OF AN AMERICAN FIGHTER PILOT WITH THE R.A.F.

An American-born fighter pilot tells something of his experiences and excitements he's been through while serving in the R.A.F. He has shot down eight enemy aircraft and badly crippled three or four more, and for these feats he was awarded the D.F.C yesterday. He is a Flight Lieutenant and his squadron has shot down more than fifty enemy planes.

I was born of Welsh parents in Bernardsville, near Morristown, New Jersey, in 1913. My father ran a big farm there. I went to school first at the Morristown High School, and when we left there for Connecticut, I went to the Gilbert School in Winstead, Connecticut. We lived for a long time in New Hertford, Con¬necticut, and I have many friends over there. I left the United States when I was about eighteen or nineteen years old. My parents who had gone out to America two years before I was born, came back and settled down in Bridgend, South Wales. I went to Cardiff College to study wireless for a while, and after doing this and that for a year or two, I took a short service commission in the R.A.F. That was in 1936. I was posted to a fighter squadron immediately I had finished my training, and here I am, still a fighter pilot, and liking it more and more each day.

I got my first German in November, 1939. It was the first enemy aircraft to be shot down in the Straits of Dover in this war. I was on patrol between Deal and Calais, leading a section of Hurricanes from my squadron when we spotted, at 12,000 feet, a Dornier 17 "flying pencil". He was about 2,000 feet below us, and as we hadn't seen a German machine up to then, we went down carefully to make sure. We soon recognised him as an enemy, and as I turned to attack he tried to attack me. My Hurricane quickly outmanoeuvred him, I got on his tail, and gave him three sharp bursts of fire. Another member of the section got in three bursts too, as he dived towards the clouds. The last I saw of him was just above sea level. He had turned on his back, and a moment later crashed into the sea. When we got back to the mess we were handed a parcel. It con¬tained a bottle of champagne—with the compliments of the Station Commander. You see it was our first fight—and we'd won. In those days, one German aircraft was something to celebrate.

We went over to France on May 10th, when Hitler invaded the Low Countries. We went up that same afternoon. That time we didn't see anything, but the next day we really started. We carried out three patrols east of Brussels, and on the third patrol we saw three Heinkel 111s. We shot down one, and badly damaged the other two. The day after that, we got two Heinkel 111s, one of which was credited to me. I shot mine down from 12,000 feet.

All the same, those skirmishes were child's play to what was to come later. On May 14th, after we had escorted a number of Blenheim bombers into enemy territory, we were on our way back when we saw three Dornier 17 Flying Pencils. It was a trap, for when we gave chase to the Dorniers, we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of between fifty and sixty Messerschmitt 109s and 110s. I was leading the flight that day and when I realised how hopelessly outnumbered we were, I gave orders to the boys to sort out their own targets and not to keep formation.

We broke up and began to set about the Messerschmitts. I got four Me. 110s, and other members of the flight got four more. On the way back to our base, I saw two Heinkel 126s, one of which I shot down, and damaged the other with the rest of my ammunition. It was a good day. We routed an overwhelming number of enemy fighters, beat up two of their Army recon¬naissance planes, and we all got home safely. Our bag on that day was six. There were six of us, so we averaged one each.

There were several other days when we ran into heavy odds of enemy fighters. It is really amazing, looking back, that we should have had the success we had. But it certainly was a success each day. We never ran into the Germans without shooting some down. When we were patrolling Dunkirk, for instance, giving protection day after day to the B.E.F. we always got a few. I remember once, when we found ourselves in the thick of six squadrons of Me. 109s and 110s, we saw an unusual type of enemy fighter. They were the new Heinkel 113s. Naturally we couldn't resist the appointment. We got one of each type, and three or four of what we call "probables". I was attacking an Me. 110 when I suddenly realised that there were six Heinkel 113s on my tail. I made a very quick turn to get away from them, and then shot down the Heinkel 113 on the extreme left of that particular formation.

That was in the afternoon. We had an "appetiser" before lunch, when we met twenty Heinkel 111 bombers. I got one. He went down in flames. And others of the squadron got their share.

The smoke from innumerable fires in Dunkirk and other French coast towns was terrific about that time. A fellow pilot described it as being like a gigantic piece of cotton-wool lying right across the seashore, following the coast down the Channel as far as he could see, even from two or three miles up. There were times when we found that same smoke of great assistance in outwitting enemy fighters.

One of our squadron, for instance, used up all his ammuni¬tion in shooting down two Me. 110s one day, and found himself being chased by two more. Without ammunition he could do nothing, so he dived into the smoke over Dunkirk. He emerged above the smoke a few miles away, and there the Messerschmitts were still waiting for him. They simply stuck above the smoke waiting for him to emerge, a victim for their guns. But he outwitted them by diving back into the smoke and was able to slip away home, only to be off again into battle the same evening.

We were stationed in France for eleven days. I remember that, when we went away, the roses were in bud; and when we came back they were in full bloom. In between we'd had eleven glorious days of action, but it was very hard work.


A shark-mouthed Bf 109C-2 of I./JG 71 (later II./JG 51).
_________________________
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Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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#2713185 - 04/24/09 03:09 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]
RedToo Offline
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Registered: 11/01/05
Posts: 975
Loc: Bolton UK
Part 9 – Lysanders.

June, 1940

THE WORK OF AN ARMY CO-OPERATION SQUADRON IN FRANCE

BY A WING COMMANDER

I think I may say that the work of our Army Co-operation squadrons during the fighting in France and Belgium was of the utmost value. Broadly speaking, our job is to find out about enemy concentrations and movements either behind the front or in it, the existence of bases and trenches, the effect of artillery fire on targets, and to take photographs. Photography is a very important part of our job; camouflage, for example, may easily deceive the eye, but not the camera. Information obtained is then quickly passed back to the Army either by means of wireless or by messages dropped in little leaded canvas bags. And then the Army does its stuff.

Reconnaissance often entails flying very low over the enemy to obtain results and machines are almost bound to be damaged by A.A. fire. The very first morning we established contact with the enemy one of my people had to go down to fifty feet to obtain the information he needed. He got it and got away. On another occasion I remember seeing one of our machines come back with one of its ailerons completely blown away and the pilot practically without any kind of control. But somehow he managed to land successfully, and after all-night work by the ground staff the wing was changed and the aircraft ready to fly again next morning.

Another pilot of my squadron once found himself up against no fewer than six Messerschmitt 110s. He was flying quite alone, but by putting his machine into a steep spiral and so losing height rapidly to almost ground level managed to evade the Germans. Actually, although he ended up within only a few feet of the ground he contrived to return to our lines by hedge-hopping, dodging round church spires, and wriggling past various power cables and other obstructions. While all this was going on, his gunner was busy and shot down one of the Messerschmitts in flames and so badly damaged another that it flew clean out of the combat.

One day one of our pilots was observing the forward movement of the enemy while British troops were being withdrawn, when he noticed in the distance German advance guards on bicycles, pedalling frantically along one of those long straight Belgian roads.

The temptation was too much for our pilot, so down he dived at the cyclists, directing his front guns on them, and had them in such quick confusion that the leaders fell or were knocked off their machines. The result was that those in the rear ran into those in front and in a moment or two the whole road was a seething mass of overturned cyclists, most of them cursing, all of them trying to struggle into the nearest ditch. Then, as the aircraft rose again, the rear-gunner had a crack at them as well.

In all the Corps Squadrons we have a very large number of airmen attached to artillery and other Army units to work the wireless receivers. On one occasion a party under a sergeant was detailed to the awkward job of holding up the enemy who were crossing a bridge. They managed it so well with their rifles that an Army officer described the incident to me as being worthy of the best British infantry, which I think was a pretty high tribute to men who are not trained as infantrymen at all. Others during the evacuation of Dunkirk helped actually to fire guns, and all of them assisted the Army units just as if they had been soldiers. On one occasion when a column of our transport was being heavily attacked from the air one of our operators saw a Bren gun which was not being manned. He at once jumped on the lorry and fired the Bren gun at a Heinkel and brought it down in flames with his first shot. He told me afterwards that the cheering which greeted his exploit lasted for some minutes.

Besides this type of work squadrons of the Lysanders helped the ground troops greatly by dropping supplies of all kinds, including water and ammunition, on besieged garrisons, such as Calais and did so usually under the heaviest of enemy A.A. fire and the continual pestering of enemy fighters. Yet I believe I am right in saying that only one package dropped from the air fell outside the area occupied by our own forces—which says a great deal for the accuracy as well as for the determination of the pilots who dropped them.

I don't know whether we will have to do this work over here, and if we do we have had pretty good practice at it.


The Westland Lysander


The Photograph Speaks. Photographs taken on reconnaissance flights are developed at once and examined by experts.


Armourers loading the synchronised MG 17s of a Bf 109E.


Bf 110C-2s of I./ZG 52.
_________________________
My 'Waiting for Clodo' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

What can we do, except try to do better?

Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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#2716851 - 05/01/09 05:31 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]
RedToo Offline
Member

Registered: 11/01/05
Posts: 975
Loc: Bolton UK
Fairey Battles this week.

June, 1940

THE MAASTRICHT BRIDGE RAID

BY A SERGEANT OBSERVER

A few weeks ago the first V.C.s of the war in the air were awarded for the blowing up at Maastricht by R.A.F. bombers of two bridges of the utmost strategic value to the enemy.
A call was made for volunteers for this desperate exploit and not a man held back. Of the fifteen who went out only one returned. Days later, however, another survivor turned up. All hope for his safety had been abandoned. He is the author of the following first-hand account of the attack.


I suppose as a sergeant observer I ought to be able to give a good picture of that raid—and afterwards. But I doubt whether words could describe what really happened.

As you probably know, the two bridges at Maastricht should have been blown up on the night of May nth, but for some unknown reason they were left standing. It was absolutely necessary that the bridges should be destroyed, for they were the only route open to the enemy, and I am quite certain that their eventual destruction by the R.A.F. did much to slow down the German advance.

Our squadron leader asked for volunteers, and there is no need for me to tell you that not a single one of us hesitated. I wasn't there at the actual time, but when I arrived my pilot told me he had put my name down. I am glad he did.

We had been up since three in the morning, and as we had a pretty strenuous time ahead of us my pilot decided on a few hours' sleep—but not before we had studied our maps and plotted out our route.

Maastricht was about 100 miles away from our aerodrome, but from the preparations we made for the journey you might have thought we were off on a journey across miles of uncharted land. We are thorough about all our routes, of course, but the vital importance of this raid made us even more careful. It was absolutely essential that we should not waste any time in finding the bridges and it was absolutely essential that they should be destroyed.

Five aircraft set out on the task. One flight of three were detailed to destroy the larger bridge and the other two bombers— in one of which I was the observer—had the smaller bridge to deal with.

We were given a fighter escort of three aircraft which cheered us up, but unfortunately we were not to have their company for long. When we were about twenty miles from our target thirty Messerschmitts tried to intercept us, but we continued on our course while the three fighters waded into the attack. The odds were ten to one against us, but even so several of those Messerschmitts were brought down. And so we arrived near Maastricht. All the company we had was more enemy fighters and heavier anti-aircraft fire.

The Messerschmitts attacked us from the rear. The first I knew about it was when our rear gunner shouted: "Enemy fighters on our tail. Look out, Taffy." Our pilot turned and took evasive action whilst the gunner shot one of them down. That seemed to frighten the others, for they soon sheered off. The barrage was terrific, the worst I have ever struck, and as we neared our target we saw the flight of three bombers, now returning home, caught in the thick of the enemy's fire. Later on all three were lost.

The big bridge looked badly knocked about and was sagging in the middle. It had been hit by the bombs dropped by the three bombers ahead of us. When we delivered our attack we were about 6,000 feet up. We dived to 2,000 feet—one aircraft close behind the other—and dropped our load. On looking down we saw that our bridge now matched the other. It sagged in the middle, and its iron girders were sticking out all over the place. Immediately after we had dropped our bombs we turned for home, but the barrage was there waiting for us. It was even worse than before, and it was not long before our aircraft began to show signs of heavy damage. Soon the rear-gunner shouted: "They have got our tanks," and as it looked as if the machine would soon be on fire the pilot gave orders to abandon aircraft.

The rear gunner jumped first. We saw nothing of him after that, though we believe he is in hospital somewhere. Then I jumped. The pilot remained with his aircraft and managed to bring it down safely. When I jumped we were near Liege. On the way down, I saw I was going straight for the Meuse, so I pulled my rigging cord on one side, altered my direction to make sure of falling somewhere in the town. But as I came near the ground I saw a reception committee waiting for me. Hundreds of people were dashing from one street to another and all were pointing at me. As I got nearer I realised that the mob was angry: they were shouting and waving their fists. I then began to wonder whether the river wouldn't be safer after all, but, by that time it was too late to change my mind.

I landed in a small cottage back-garden. Before I had time to disentangle myself from my gear the crowd rushed into the next door garden and dragged me over the fence shouting: "Salle Boche", which means "Dirty German" and other insult¬ing remarks. I shouted back: "Je suis Anglais," "I am English," but either they didn't believe me or didn't understand my French.

Soon they had dragged me into the street where there were hundreds of people waiting. Men and women held my arms and an angry old man got ready to shoot me. Again I shouted: "Anglais," "Anglais," and I am glad to say somebody must have thought it just possible that I was telling the truth.

The old man was prevailed upon to hand me over to the police. On the way to the police station burly women kept on trying to hit me. Then suddenly, out of the blue, I was spoken to in English by a Belgian woman who offered to act as my interpreter. I was grateful to her. She persuaded the police to send me to the Commandant of the Liege Fortress. She believed my story, offered me hospitality, gave me a bicycle and a map, and put me on the road to Namur. It was a long and adventurous journey—but that's another story.



Fairey Battles under construction in one of the ‘Shadow’ factories.


A Fairey Battle of 150 squadron crash landed in France.


Fairey Battles in France awaiting scrapping. The nearest aircraft is from 88 squadron and the next from 98 squadron.
_________________________
My 'Waiting for Clodo' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

What can we do, except try to do better?

Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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#2716872 - 05/01/09 06:06 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]
Tbag Offline
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Registered: 12/08/06
Posts: 1599
Loc: Haslemere, UK
Great read, time to make this a sticky IMO. Or no wait, better bump it constatly with new entries like you did in the past smile Thanks RedToo!
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The knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. - Douglas Adams

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#2717400 - 05/03/09 06:18 AM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: Tbag]
Trooper117 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 06/17/05
Posts: 4428
Loc: UK
Great stuff as usual!

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#2720628 - 05/08/09 03:16 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: Trooper117]
RedToo Offline
Member

Registered: 11/01/05
Posts: 975
Loc: Bolton UK
Part 11. An early night fighter.

June, 1940

BRINGING DOWN A NIGHT RAIDER

BY A FLIGHT LIEUTENANT

Tuesday's was the first night raid over our part of the coast. When the enemy were detected I was ordered to go up and look for them between midnight and 1 a.m.

I flew around, peering into the gloom for some time, seeing nothing more than an occasional searchlight-beam snooping about the sky. I had almost begun to think that the Huns had managed to get away, when I suddenly spotted, a long way off, flashes from the ground and in the air.

"A.A. fire," I thought; "that means the enemy."

So I went over to have a look, and when nearly there saw a Heinkel sliding across the sky, really beautifully floodlit by our searchlights. A.A. fire was going off absolutely all around us. It really was a magnificent sight. After all, I had what you might call a ringside seat.

I can imagine the feelings of the chaps at the other end of the searchlight beams (and the feelings of the Ack.-ack. gunner too), turning the handles and twiddling the knobs—in action at last on their first night's raid—the first time searchlights up this way have had a chance to catch the enemy. You see, we can always have fun flying, whether the enemy comes round or not, but the searchlight and A.A. boys have to sit there in the open, wet or fine, and just wait. But that's by the way.

Well, now they really were at it. There was a simply terrific fireworks display in progress. The Heinkel looked to me rather like a puzzled old woman suddenly caught in the spotlight. I had come up more or less from behind and there he was just ambling and not quite knowing what to do.

As a matter of fact, I imagined the pilot was pretty well dazzled with all the lights on him.
I got into position right behind and just below, and got my sights on him and pressed the gun button. A shower of sparks flew out of the enemy, and clouds of smoke, and he wobbled a bit.

Then he went down in a slow spiral dive into the darkness. That is the last I saw of him, though I did catch the glare of his incendiary bombs on the ground. He must have jettisoned them as he dropped.

You feel more of a lone wolf during this night fighting than you do by day. We operate more on our own, but of course with our allies the guns and the searchlights.

I expect you have wondered as you watched searchlights at work how much good they would be. As a matter of fact, we have wondered, too, what real chance they have of lighting up the raiders without lighting us as well.

We have now had our answer. The co-operation between the air and ground defences really was a hundred per cent.


A searchlight of 210,000,000 candle-power probes the night sky with its beam.



Anti-aircraft women of the A.T.S. operating an identification telescope.




Sound Locator operated by women from the A.T.S.
_________________________
My 'Waiting for Clodo' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

What can we do, except try to do better?

Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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#2725398 - 05/15/09 02:08 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]
RedToo Offline
Member

Registered: 11/01/05
Posts: 975
Loc: Bolton UK
Part 12: The Battle of France

July, 1940

A VETERAN PILOT RE-VISITS FRANCE

BY A PILOT OFFICER

Wing Commander: I hope you will forgive me this evening if I bring in a personal note. For I'm going to introduce to you an old friend of mine. Actually we were learning to fly together in 1913 before the last war. We trained together at the civil schools at Hendon on some of the curious and primitive machines of those early days—the comic box-kites and the funny little monoplanes which if they got off the ground at all staggered along painfully at about fifty miles an hour—rather different from the Wellingtons and the Hurricanes of to-day. But all the same, as you will hear later, it seems to have been quite a useful sort of training. Well, this friend of mine served all through the last war as a pilot in the R.F.C. and the R.A.F., and in 1918 ended up as a Wing-Commander with the D.S.O., the M.C. and the D.F.C. for his distinguished services.

Although he left the R.A.F. after the war he kept up flying and from then onwards took an active and prominent part in civil aviation. Then, at the beginning of the present war, although now fifty years of age, he felt that he was still capable of doing a useful job of work in the air as an active pilot, so he joined up again in the R.A.F.—but this time as a pilot officer, the equivalent of a second lieutenant. How far he was justified in doing this you will be able to judge for yourselves from an account he is going to give you of an exciting incident in France in which he took part the other day and for which he was awarded a bar to the D.F.C. he had won twenty-two years ago.

PILOT OFFICER: There were a good many of our aircraft in France about this time, standing by to meet the requirements of hard-pressed squadrons. Sometimes, extremely rapid evacuation had to be carried out and it wasn't always possible to get spare pilots for these aircraft at a moment's notice. Nor was it always possible to take airmen off operations to look after repairs. What we had to do, therefore, was to send out small detachments from home to do repairs and, when necessary, fly the aircraft back to England.

My job was to look after one of these relieving parties at Merville. It was a fine morning when we left England. The pilot and I chatted about the weather, and then, as we flew over France, about the pathetic streams of refugees cluttering up the roads below us. The pilot was one you all know. He is one of the many in our civil air merchant-service whose almost daily deeds are thrilling the Empire and gaining the admiration of their brothers in the Royal Air Force.

As we passed over the wooded country towards St. Omer, popping noises began to interrupt our conversation. At first we thought we were passing over French practice rifle and machine-gun ranges. But soon tracer bullets began shrieking up at us, and the pops became very sharp and nasty cracks. It was only then that we noticed about a dozen German tanks on the roadway under some trees outside a village. We could see quite plainly the Nazi swastika marked in black on a white circle covering the tops of the dull brown-and-green tanks. As we swooped over them, just over the tree-tops, the crews hurriedly drew some camouflaged netting over their markings. Then we caught sight of motor vehicles and troops who suddenly began diving into the ditches and firing at us. We flew lower still and hurried on.

When we got to Merville, the fleet of civil air transport quickly unloaded their food and ammunition and left again for England for more. The rest of us settled down to servicing the Hurricanes we'd come to rescue and soon the first was away in spite of it being badly riddled with bullet-holes.

The next one took longer, but by midday we were able to offer a fresh mount to a pilot who landed on us unexpectedly by parachute. He'd just had a desperate fight high overhead, thankfully accepted our offer and was soon off to rejoin his squadron on a strange mount—much to the astonishment of his flight sergeant.

It was soon lunchtime. We had a lovely chicken stew, with many vegetables, made for us by a sergeant of a Northern regiment who had become detached from his unit after a scrap with the Jerries, together with ten lads from somewhere round about Sunderland. The sergeant was in fine form. So far, he told me, this war had just been his cup of tea. Later in the afternoon I discovered why. For while refugees wandered up and down the road according to the direction from which the nearest gunfire and sniping seemed to be coming, there he was, joining in the Bren-gun carrier section and having a crack at the He.s and Me.s when they came too near to be healthy. It was a fine sight.

Just as we'd got the third Hurricane going, I was surprised to see one of our own aircraft leave a busy little dogfight, streak down towards us and drop the familiar little message-bag, telling me to bring the next serviceable Hurricane back home to England before nightfall. It was a strange sight in the sky—with a Tiger Moth and an Autogyro, bringing back sharp memories of peacetime flying, now floating around absolutely unconcerned on their message-carrying jobs. You might have thought they were helping the police to handle the traffic on Derby Day!

I was glad of this message to bring the Hurricane home for more reasons than one. The main reason, I think, was that—well, I wanted to test a theory. The theory is that having once been taught to fly by the R.A.F., it doesn't much matter what type of aircraft you're asked to handle—provided you remember to turn all the taps and push and pull all the knobs of a modern aircraft in the proper sequence, and have the good sense to enquire about the aircraft's peculiar habits from someone who knows her ways. Simple enough—if you have time. The unfortunate part about it was that I just didn't have time.

To cut a long story, the Merlin engine of my Hurricane took me off in grand style. Soon it throbbed gently into top gear. The boost came back, and the wheels came up and soon we were all set for Home, Sweet Home. I was above, in the air, without a care in the world—except that I was flying a machine I'd never handled before.

Soon I was to be disillusioned. Not long after the take off, the nasty "noises off" started. Then tracer-bullets began coming down at me from the hillsides. Foolishly I shot up to about 8,000 feet to sail straight into a perfect pattern of horribly noisy black A.A. bursts. An entirely unorthodox manoeuvre got me sideways and down out of this, but not before the keen eye of the Messerschmitt flight commander had registered and dived to the attack simultaneously. The strip he tore off shook me more than the A.A. gentleman had done a few seconds pre¬viously, and I slipped inwards towards the nasty noise and steeper down, changing the direction to meet the second strip from Number Two, from the other side, and wondering what the other four lads were up to above and behind.

Thereafter, as I had not had the time of means to get the Hurricane's guns serviceable, the chase went on up the village street and down a chateau drive and once almost through the chateau front door, until suddenly, twisting downstream in a wooded valley, I slipped out clear over some sand dunes and out to sea, where the fleet off Boulogne opened up on the pack at my heels. One salvo was enough for them, and I climbed up leisurely and thankfully and perhaps a little regretfully to look back at the smoke of battle round Calais and Boulogne, a weird picture in the misty red light of the setting sun, and on the other side of me at the quiet peaceful countryside of Thanet. Then, home to roost, as I had done so many times twenty-five years ago, thinking of my son and his regiment somewhere inland from Dunkirk, and wondering what kind of miracle could save them all, and if the people at home had any real picture in their mind's eye of the scene so close to them on the other side. The refugees, the burning villages, the noise and smoke of battle, and how they would stand up to the onslaught if and when it came and would they remember the defeat in Flanders with no less honour than the victories which will follow in the last rounds of their fight for freedom.

... with a Tiger Moth and Autogyro floating around on their message-carrying duties:





RedToo.
_________________________
My 'Waiting for Clodo' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

What can we do, except try to do better?

Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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#2729884 - 05/22/09 01:44 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]
RedToo Offline
Member

Registered: 11/01/05
Posts: 975
Loc: Bolton UK
Part 13 Air/ Sea Rescue.

July, 1940

FOURTEEN HOURS IN A DINGHY

BY A FLIGHT LIEUTENANT

We were a few miles off the Dutch coast on our way back from a big raid over Germany when the port engine of our aircraft cut. We had plenty of height at the time so I told my wireless operator to send out a broadcast to say we were returning on one engine. After ten minutes' flying, however, the starboard engine started missing and we began to lose height. When we were about 3,500 feet I told my operator to put out an S O S and sent the crew to their emergency stations.

There was very low cloud at the time we came out at about 500 feet. It was raining, and we did not actually see the water until we almost hit it. We tried to put the aircraft down on the water as gently as we could, but a rather heavy sea was running at the time and we hit a wave and the aircraft nose-dived in and went under. Three of the crew got out of the front hatch over the pilot's head, but the remaining three escaped from the hatch in the centre of the aircraft. It wasn't too easy for them. The others were actually under water and I could see them clutching the fuselage and trying to haul themselves up.

When we had all got into the dinghy we discovered that the rear-gunner had the wireless aerial wrapped hopelessly knotted round his neck. We had no pliers but somehow the navigator managed to lay hands on a knife with which we cut the gunner free. After four and a half minutes the aircraft went down.

The first thing that happened when we got into the boat was that the chaps got cramp. The first half hour was hell. We then decided to chuck off all the clothes we could spare. We threw away our shoes and flying boots, except the best pair, which we used as paddles and for baling out the dinghy. At the time heavy sea was running and drizzle was falling. It was a tough job getting the dinghy balanced. One of us lay in the bottom of the boat and five sat round the edge.

I was very pleased to discover that the navigator had had the foresight to salvage the Very pistol and three cartridges.

It must have been about seven o'clock in the morning when an aircraft which we took for a German flew over us. We fired a Very light but it took no notice of us and went on. Two hours later another aircraft, this time a British plane in search of us, flew straight over the top of us, but despite our signals did not see us. We then discovered that the Very cartridges had become swollen owing to the water and we had to spend about half an hour tearing off pieces of cardboard until we eventually got one to fit the pistol.

We tried to steer a course due west hoping to reach England by paddling with the shoes, when at eleven-twenty we sighted another aircraft coming straight towards us. We waited until he was close and then fired a Very light—our last one, which the pilot spotted. He dived over us and then we recognised the machine as one of our own squadron. He circled round us for about two and a half hours and now and then sent messages with a signalling lamp saying that help was coming. But help didn't come until about four o'clock in the afternoon when we spotted an R.A.F. speed-boat coming towards us. Two and a half hours later we were landed.

It was a pretty thick fourteen hours I can tell you, but some¬how or other we managed to keep our spirits up, even after we discovered a leak in the dinghy and had to get the front gunner to stick his toe in it.

The rear gunner sang to us for an hour and a half without stopping—Scottish songs, and finished up by swinging them. We also had a sweepstake as to what time we should be picked up, which was won by the wireless operator. Unfortunately, he was hours out—on the wrong side. But I still think the longest hours were whiled away by an argument we had about the wire¬less operator who said he had been born with a caul and therefore couldn't be drowned—even though he could not swim. He was right after all.


Collapsible rubber dinghy automatically ejected from aircraft brought down on the sea.


Air/ Sea Rescue Service at work.
_________________________
My 'Waiting for Clodo' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

What can we do, except try to do better?

Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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#2734396 - 05/30/09 04:18 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]
RedToo Offline
Member

Registered: 11/01/05
Posts: 975
Loc: Bolton UK
Part 14.

July, 1940

BOMBING THE SCHARNHORST

BY A SERGEANT AIR-OBSERVER

The speaker is a Sergeant member of an air crew. He joined the R.A.F. on February 6, 1939. He has been on active service since the outbreak of war and is regarded as one of the most experienced men in his squadron.

My job is that of air observer, which means that I am navigator, bomb aimer, and front gunner. There are five of us in the crew, and our routine work is long distance night bombing.

We were ready to start as usual on Monday night, but when we reported for final instruction we found that a new job had been arranged. Information had come through that the Scharnhorst was in a floating dock at Kiel, for repairs, and we were to bomb it.

We all had a feeling of general jubilation. We were glad to have the job.

When the time came, with the good wishes of those who had to stay behind, our squadron got into the air very quickly. I gave my captain the first course to steer, and soon we were on our way, climbing through heavy, wet cloud. The temperature dropped considerably and was actually below freezing point, but apart from that it looked as though the weather was going to be good to us.

We crossed over without incident until we reached the enemy coast, when searchlights fingered the sky without finding us.

By this time it was a very clear night and we could see water reflections sixty miles away. Visibility was excellent. We flew on over enemy territory, meeting occasional A.A. fire and search-lights but we ignored them and picked up the part of the eastern coast line we were looking for, and with our maps pinpointed our exact position. Then we flew on to our target—the floating dock and the Scharnhorst.

Everything was very quiet. The estuary was plainly marked, and as we approached we spotted the German balloon barrage, but still no ground defences were in action.

It was now dead midnight. Just at that moment we saw the A. A. batteries open up on another of our aircraft that was making its attack. We located the position of the defences and decided how we would go in. We were flying fairly high. When we were in position, I gave the Captain the word "Now, sir", and he replied with "Over she goes", and, shutting off his engine, dived to the attack.

I directed my line of sight on the floating dock, which stood out sharply in the estuary, and gave necessary correction to the captain. Searchlights caught us up in the dive, but we went under the beam. Then I had to put the captain into an almost vertical dive as we came on the target. The Scharnhorst couldn't be missed; she stood out so plainly.

By this time a curtain of fierce A.A. fire was floating around us. The defences seemed to be giving everything they had got, and I could clearly see tracers of the pom-pom on the deck of the Scharnhorst at work. Besides that, the shore batteries and other ships in the harbour were doing their best to blow us out of the sky.

We took several heavy jars from exploding shells. The lower part of the starboard tail plane was blown away, the main spar was hit, we got a two-foot hole through the tailplane, which broke a rib, and narrowly missed our rudder post and we had another hole a foot wide through the fuselage.

The rear gunner said he expected to be launched into space any minute, because he felt sure the turret had been shot away. He gets the worst of the jolts back there and, on pulling out of a dive he swung through a much wider arc. But still everything held together, thanks to the splendid material and fine workman-ship that went to the making of our aircraft.

We came down very low to make sure, and when we were dead in line I released a stick of bombs. At that moment, I could only see the ship—gun turrets, masts and control tower. A vast sheet of reddish yellow flame came from the deck, and what seemed to be the heart of the Scharnhorst, right from the edge of the dock across her. The flashes lit the whole estuary, and while we banked to go over the town it seemed as though I was looking up at other ships anchored in the estuary.

We had finished bombing and went off, pursued by A.A. fire, and then circled for height over the quiet waters of the harbour. While we were doing this, we could see fires breaking out on the dockside, and our own comrades going in, one after the other to do their stuff. We saw their bombs exploding dead in the target area. The fires got bigger, and there were a lot of explo¬sions that seemed to come from the middle of the fires until they merged into one vast inferno. One explosion outdid all the others and it was probably either an ammunition dump or oil tanks.

When we began to climb we realised the damage that had been done to us, and so, on reaching height, I gave the captain a course for home. But while we were still over the estuary at only about 1,000 feet, a German A.A. ship opened fire. I turned my front gun and pumped about two hundred rounds at him and he ceased fire.

We flew on down the enemy coast. The rear gunner was chattering all the time something about the fires. We didn't get what he meant at first, but when we were over the coast we turned the aircraft so that we could have a look and we actually pin¬pointed the position, from which we could see it—I don't mean see the glow in the sky, but the actual fire. This distance was eighty-five miles. Then we sent a signal to base, giving our position and telling them that the aircraft was damaged so that they would know where to search for us if anything untoward did happen.

That was the last message we were able to send as we flew into a storm which earthed the aerial and the radio went up in smoke.

Still, damaged as we were, after crossing three hundred and fifty miles of sea, we struck our point only three miles off our bearing, and came quietly home and made a smooth landing. We were bubbling over with excitement at such a successful night's hunting—a bit tired but pretty certain that the Scharnhorst will be unserviceable for many months to come.


Loading a Wellington with 250lb bombs.


A German coastal battery.
_________________________
My 'Waiting for Clodo' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

What can we do, except try to do better?

Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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#2737792 - 06/05/09 12:39 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]
RedToo Offline
Member

Registered: 11/01/05
Posts: 975
Loc: Bolton UK
Part 15.

July, 1940

A NIGHT FIGHT

BY AN AUXILIARY SQUADRON LEADER

The following story of a night combat is told by a young Squadron Leader of the R.A.F. who was awarded the D.F.C

Night fighting is a fascinating game. It is rather like a game of rather noisy hide-and-seek or, better still, it is just like a game my brother and I used to play some years ago. We used to climb down into a large maze of stone quarries near our home and then start stalking each other. Our ammunition was sharp stones and the loser the first one to be hard hit. We used to play for hours wriggling on our stomachs slowly gaining a good position and then a hard throw. My brother could throw a cricket ball almost a hundred yards, so the tension was considerable.

The other night at midnight the operational phone rang and I received orders to patrol a certain line. As I ran out to my fighter plane I could hear the sirens wailing in a nearby town. There was no moon and quite a lot of cloud.

I took off and climbed through the clouds. I was excited, for I had waited for this chance for the previous three nights, sitting in a chair all night dressed in my flying clothes and one of those yellow painted rubber life jackets which we call Mae Wests. They are painted yellow so that if we are swimming for hours we can be more easily seen in the water. I had waited from dusk to dawn but nothing whatsoever would come our way, but this night they obviously were coming.

I climbed to my ordered height and remained on my patrol line. After about an hour I was told by wireless that the enemy were at a certain spot flying from N.W. to S.E. Luckily I was approaching that spot myself. The searchlights which had been weaving about beneath light cloud suddenly converged at a spot. They illuminated the cloud brilliantly and there silhouetted on the cloud flying across my starboard beam were three enemy aircraft.

I turned left and slowed down slightly. One searchlight struck through a small gap and showed up the whole of one plane. I recognised the plane as a Heinkel 111. One of the enemy turned left, I lost sight of the other. I fastened on to the last of the three. I got about one hundred yards behind and below where I could clearly see his exhaust flames. As we went out of the searchlights and crossed the coast he went into a shallow dive. This upset me a bit for I got rather high, almost directly behind him. I managed to get back and opened my hood to see better. I put my firing button to fire and pressed it. Bullets poured into him. It was at point-blank range. I could see the tracer disappearing inside but nothing seemed to happen, except he slowed down consider¬ably. I almost overshot him, but put the propeller into the full fine and managed to keep my position.

I fired again in four bursts and then noticed a glow inside the machine. We had been in a shallow dive and I thought we were getting near the sea, so I fired all the rest of my ammunition into him. The red glow got brighter. He was obviously on fire inside. At five hundred feet I broke away to the right and tried to follow but overshot, so I did not see him strike the water. I climbed and at a thousand feet pulled off a parachute flare. As the flare fell towards the sea I saw the Heinkel lying on the water, a column of smoke was blowing from his rear section. I circled twice but there was no movement; no one tried to climb out so I turned and flew for home.


A Hurricane night-fighter taxis to take off.
_________________________
My 'Waiting for Clodo' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

What can we do, except try to do better?

Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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