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#2867783 - 09/26/09 04:29 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 29.

August, 1940

A FIFTEEN-MINUTE PARACHUTE DROP

BY A FLIGHT LIEUTENANT

I want to tell you of a fight a few days ago, off the South Coast, not only because of the two Messerschmitt fighters which I am very pleased to have sent into the sea, but because of the parachute descent afterwards—my first—and one of the most enjoyable experiences in my life.

It was a lovely evening and the wind was warm about us as we passed through the slip-stream of our aircraft, to our cockpits. We were to patrol the coast at 10,000 feet and we reached the patrol line at this height in seven minutes—I could see for miles and a thin layer of cloud 1,000 feet above us, shaded our eyes from the sun.

We were flying east when three enemy aircraft were seen flying west, in the clouds overhead. I told our leader that I would climb with my flight above the clouds and investigate. As I did this, twelve Messerschmitt 109 fighters emerged from the clouds. Still climbing, I made for the sun and turned and gave the order for my flight to break up and attack. In a moment, our battle began—our six Hurricanes against the enemy's twelve.

The eighteen aircraft chased round and round, in and out of the cloud. I chose my first opponent. He seemed to be dreaming and I quickly got on to his tail and gave him a short burst which damaged him. I flew in closer and gave him a second dose. It was enough. He dived, out of control, and I followed him down to 6,000 feet. There I circled for a minute or two and watched him dive vertically into the calm sea. There was only the tell-tale patch of oil on the water to mark where he had disappeared.

I opened my hood for a breath of fresh air and looked about the sky. There was no sign of either the enemy or my own flight. I was alone, so I climbed back into the cloud which was thin and misty. Three Messerschmitts, flying in line astern, crossed in front of me—so close that I could see the black crosses on their wings and fuselage. I opened fire on number three in the formation. We went round and round in decreasing circles—as I fired. I was lucky again. I had the pleasure of seeing my bullets hit him. Pieces of his wings flew off. Black smoke came from just behind his cockpit. He dived and I fired one more burst at him, directly from astern. We were doing a phenomenal speed—then my ammunition gave out—just as the other two Messerschmitts attacked me. I twisted and turned, but they were too accurate. I could hear the deafening thud of their bullets. Pieces of my aircraft seemed to be flying off in all directions: my engine was damaged and I could not climb back to the cloud where I might have lost my pursuers. Then came a cold stinging pain in my left foot. One of the Jerry bullets had found its mark, but it really did not hurt. I was about to dive to the sea and make my escape, low down, when the control column became useless in my hand. Black smoke poured into the cockpit and I could not see. I knew that the time had come for me to depart.

Everything after this was perfectly calm. I was at about 10,000 feet, but some miles out to sea. I lifted my seat, undid my strap and opened the hood. The wind became my ally. A hand—actually the slip-stream catching under my helmet—seemed to lift me out of the cockpit. It was a pleasant sensation. I was in mid-air—floating down so peacefully—in the cool breeze. I had to remind myself to pull my ripcord and open my parachute. When the first jerk was over I swung like a pendulum. This was not so pleasant, but I soon settled down and I was able to enjoy a full view of the world below—the beach, some miles away, with soldiers—and the long lines of villas in a coastal town. There was no sensation of speed. But the ripples on the water became bigger—the soldiers on the beach became nearer. I had one minute of anxiety. As I floated down, one of the Messerschmitts appeared. The pilot circled round me and I was just a little alarmed. Would he shoot? Well—he didn't. He behaved quite well. He opened his hood, waved to me and then dived towards the sea and made off towards France.

The wind was still friendly. It was carrying me in towards the beach. I took out my cigarettes and lit one, with my lighter—without any difficulty. Ages seemed to pass. I threw away the cigarette as I came nearer and nearer to the coast. I could hear the all-clear sirens—and, passing over the houses on the sea front, I could see the people coming out of their shelters— people looking up at me. I had descended to about 1,000 feet. I began to sway a little and I could hear my parachute flapping—like the sound of a sail in a small boat. The soldiers' faces were quite clear, but I must have looked English, even at one thousand feet—which was comforting.

For the first time since the enemy pilot circled around me, I became anxious. Was I to end my escapade by being banged against a seaside villa? It did not seem possible that I could reach the fields beyond. The journey ended in a cucumber frame—after I had pushed myself free of a house, with my foot.

And now I come to a pleasant recollection—in spite of my foot and my painful landing. The people in that seaside town were wonderful. A woman appeared with a cup of tea—in one second. Then a policeman with a whisky and soda. I drank the whisky and soda first—then the tea. A blanket appeared—then the ambulance. I remember one amusing incident as I was lifted into the ambulance.

A little boy of seven, came over to me with cigarettes and he said, "Good luck, sir. When I grow up, I'm going to be an airman too."


A parachute descent.

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.
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#2872014 - 10/02/09 08:01 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 30.

August, 1940

FIVE ENEMY AIRCRAFT IN ONE DAY

BY A SERGEANT PILOT

The story of a sergeant pilot of a Fighter Command Spitfire squadron who shot down five enemy aircraft in three air battles on one day. On the same day fifty raiders altogether were destroyed, and two days later the sergeant pilot brought down two more. He is a north countryman— Yorkshire born and bred. His father lives in Harrogate.

Saturday was certainly a grand day. It started, as most days for fighter pilots start—with the dawn. We were up at a quarter past four. I felt in my bones that it was going to be a good day. We were in the air just after five o'clock. Shortly before half-past eight we were in the air again looking for enemy raiders approach¬ing the South Coast from France. We saw three or four waves of Junkers 88, protected by a bunch of Me. 109s above them. We were flying at 15,000 feet, between the bombers and the fighters. The fighters did not have much chance to interfere with us before we attacked the bombers. I attacked one of the waves of bombers from behind and above. I selected the end bomber of the forma¬tion which numbered between fifteen and eighteen. I gave this Junkers a burst of fire lasting only two seconds, but it was enough. It broke away from the formation, dived down, and I saw it crash into the sea.

I then throttled back so that I would not overtake the whole formation. I was getting quite a lot of cross-fire from the other bombers as it was, though none of it hit me. If I had broken away after shooting down the first bomber, I should have exposed myself to the full force of the enemy formation's cross-fire, so I throttled back and stayed behind them. I didn't have time to select another bomber target, for almost immediately an Me. 109 came diving after me. As I had throttled back the Me. overshot me. He simply came along and presented me with a beautiful target. He pulled up about 150 yards in front of me, so I pressed the gun button for two seconds. He immediately began to smoke, and dived away. I followed him this time and saw him go straight into the sea. When the sky was clear of German planes, we went home for breakfast. We had a nice "bag" in that combat before the other Germans escaped.

As a matter of fact, I didn't get any breakfast at all. I only had time for a hot drink before we were ordered to stand by again and by half-past eleven that morning we were patrolling the South-east Coast. We were attacked by half a dozen Me. 109s, and, of course, we broke up to deal with them individually. I had a dog-fight with one, both of us trying to get into position to deliver an attack, but I outmanoeuvred him. I got on his tail, and he made off for the French coast as hard as he could go. The fight started at 10,000 feet, and we raced across the Channel like mad. As we were going like that, I saw one of our fellows shoot down another Me. 109, so I said to myself: "I must keep the squadron's average up and get this one." I didn't fire at him until we were actually over the French coast. Then I let him have it— three nice bursts of fire lasting three seconds each, which, as you may imagine, is an awfully long time! I started that final burst at 8,000 feet, and then he began to go down, and I followed until I saw him crash into a field in France. Then I went back home without seeing any enemy at all. I carefully examined my Spitfire when I landed, certain that I must have been hit some¬where. But, no, not a mark. It was very satisfactory.

Our third show began just before four o'clock in the afternoon. We were flying towards the Thames estuary at 5,000 feet, when we saw anti-aircraft shells bursting in the sky to the north-east. We changed course, and began to climb for the place where we thought we should meet the enemy. We did. They were flying at 12,000 feet—twenty JU.s 88 in tight formation accom¬panied by about twenty Me.s 109 above them. They were flying towards the London area and we could see the balloons shining in the sun. When we spotted the fighters we pulled up towards them. I got under one Me. 109 and gave him two bursts. Smoke started to pour out of him, and he went down out of control. Suddenly, tracer bullets started whizzing past my machine. I turned sharply, and saw an Me. 109 attacking one of our pilots. I turned on the attacker and gave him a quick burst. Immediately he began to slow down and the aircraft began to smoke. I pressed the gun button a second time, and the Me. caught fire. I fired a third time, and the whole machine became enveloped in flames and pieces began to fly off. Finally, as it went down, more pieces came off, all burning. As it tumbled down towards the Thames estuary it was really a bunch of blazing fragments instead of a whole aircraft. It was an amazing sight. That was my fifth for the day, and the squadron's ninety-ninth! The squadron brought the score over the century the next day, as a matter of fact. The squadron has damaged a lot more, of course.

There is a lot of luck about air fighting—by which I mean it's a matter of luck whether you get into a good scrap or not. I was right through the Dunkirk show, and didn't get a thing. But recently I seem to have been lucky. These fights are over so quickly that unless you are there right at the beginning, you are liable not to see anything at all. None of the fights on Saturday lasted more than five minutes each.



A Battle of Britain pilot.
Leutnant Franz von Werra. Adjutant of II./JG 3. Later captured by the British and became famous as the only German airman to make a ‘home run’. The epic story of his escape across Canada and the U.S.A. was the subject of a film starring Hardy Kruger. Shown here with Simba, the Gruppe’s mascot.


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.
#2876724 - 10/09/09 08:44 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 31.

September, 1940

BOMBING BERLIN

BY A SQUADRON BOMBING LEADER

This officer joined the R.A.F.V.R. on May 2nd, 1939, being called up on September 1st, 1939. He took a navigation course until Christmas, 1939, up to that time being a Leading Aircraftman. He then went for a bombing and gunnery course. Commissioned on the completion of this course, he was given intensive training in navigation and bombing. He was posted to his squadron in the middle of June this year. He has made six operational trips as navigator and bomb-aimer. His official title is squadron bombing leader, and his duties include that of maintaining the bomb aimers in efficiency and knowledge of all new ideas and improvements.

I made my first trip to Berlin the other night. Before that I had been over France a few times, when the Jerries were walking through, and I had made the trip to the Ruhr and to Milan. Berlin was a job I really wanted. Of course, I had no real say in the matter at all: it was just luck. The choice lies with the commanding officer. Anyway, I struck lucky. Lucky, because I am not a regular member of any particular crew. So far I haven't flown in the same crew twice. That happens, as I am the squadron bombing leader, and change about a great deal.

That afternoon, we were given our targets and general instructions, and between the briefing and the time of take off we worked out the details. Soon after dinner we took off, just as day was giving way to night. The light was failing fast as we started on our six hundred and fifty mile outward journey, and by the time we had crossed the odd two hundred miles of sea and reached the enemy coast it was dark.

We had a favourable wind and saw nothing for the hour and three-quarters that we spent crossing the sea. There was a lot of cloud below us, which began to clear as we approached the Dutch coast. There we ran into intense anti-aircraft fire. Heavy bursts in the distance at about twelve thousand feet, with continual flashes, which looked like lightning. It wasn't reaching us and we wondered who was getting the benefit of it. Other aircraft were ahead and it looked as though the gunners were concentrating on them.

From then on, there was nothing at all, until we were over Emden, when searchlights began to show, and to hunt about in the sky. They failed to locate us, and we went round them, dodging trouble.

The captain took over from the second pilot. It is not a difficult operation, changing over, although some people seem to believe that it is like rocking a canoe. All that happens is that the second pilot gets the aircraft dead straight, flying level, slips out of his seat, and the captain moves in.

The rest of the run to Berlin was uneventful. We were there about twenty minutes before midnight.

Searchlights came on, quite a lot of them, and flak. There seemed to be a solid rectangle of brilliant light in the sky. It wasn't coming our way—then, but was making things as difficult as possible for the others who had left a quarter of an hour earlier and were already over the target.

When our estimated time of arrival suggested that we should have arrived, we headed for the searchlights and dropped a flare to see what was below us. We spotted a river, and I had a look at the map to see if it was the one we wanted: there are several stretches of water there. While we were trying to identify it, we were picked up by searchlights at seven thousand feet. They held us, and we moved pretty rapidly, taking very violent avoiding action to get away. We got away, and again dropped flares to pin-point our position. In fact we repeated that operation several times and were again caught by searchlights and heavy anti aircraft fire. Some of the bursts came too close to us to be comfortable, but we thought we had escaped. I know that we flew through big black balls of smoke that looked like balloons. They were only smoke.

Cloud made it hard to identify the target, and gave us a jolt once. We thought a squadron of aircraft was flying over us.

There were silhouettes in the light, very clear and very sharp. They were our own shadows thrown on to the clouds by the searchlights. A very strange sight, and a very strange feeling, that.

For an hour and a half we flew around trying to make sure. Of course we could have unloaded on Berlin at any time we liked: but—as you know we don't do indiscriminate bombings.

The exact spot still eluded us and the captain decided to come round the searchlights and make a low level attack. So we descended to one thousand feet—over London that would be a few hundred feet above St. Paul's.

We saw fires to the east, caused by other aircraft, and followed the river towards them to come over the target area again, and into a curtain of flak of all colours and descriptions.

We reached the fire, which was now blazing well, and easily recognised the Siemens-Schuckert Works, with railway sidings alongside. We dropped a long stick of high explosives and incendiaries at a little over one thousand feet.

The searchlights were nearly horizontal by now, and the anti aircraft fire really hot. We could imagine the gunners frantically turning the handles, trying to get their guns to bear on us. Streams of green tracer shells were hosepiping over us as we took evasive action to get away from the target. The captain put the nose down, and we came well below that one thousand feet.

The rear-gunner had meanwhile reported the bursts of our bombs, with fires and explosions in the works as a result. There was a good fire going in the centre, and we had bombed alongside it. Some of our heavy stuff must have landed on the railway. We couldn't miss from that height.

All we could do was done, so we climbed through the clouds to 12,000 feet, and turned for home with the engines running smoothly.

Coming home, there was not much opposition, and the crew had a time for a little relaxation—with hot coffee and biscuits—and perhaps forty winks for some.

The wireless operator was exploring the fuselage and came forward again with a wide grin and his hands full of pieces of aluminium to tell us tales of a large series of holes we had collected over Berlin.

Against the wind we made the North Sea, and flew into the dawn. The wireless operator grew excited again, pointing out quite a large hole in the wing.

Reaching home, the captain spoke to the ground and wished them good morning. We touched down after ten and a quarter hours in the air, had a look at the machine, and found enough holes to give the riggers a spot of work for a while. Nothing had struck a vital part: but another six inches and they would have got the petrol tanks, and then we might have come down somewhere else.

That was that. Then we had our interrogation on the trip; after which we were ready for breakfast and bed. It was a good twenty-four hours since we had been there, but we had had an enjoyable trip between times.


A Vickers Wellington Bomber.


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.
#2881161 - 10/16/09 08:40 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 32.

September, 1940

BOMBING BERLIN AGAIN

BY A FLYING OFFICER OF A HEAVY BOMBER SQUADRON

The speaker is a flying officer in one of our heavy bomber squadrons. He describes the remarkable scene which followed the bombing of a large gasworks during a recent raid on military objectives in Berlin.

Before I describe this particular raid I would just like to mention something which gave us in the R.A.F. one of the biggest laughs we've had since the war started. A few days ago we had sent round to us an extract from an Italian paper which made the following remarkable statement: "The R.A.F. succeeded in bombing Germany and Italy by offering to colonial mercenary pilots the following bonuses in respect of every night raid—£500 over Germany. £600 over Italy."

Last night I carried out my twentieth raid over Germany, so at that rate of pay I should now have tucked away in the bank the nice little sum of £10,000. One can only wonder why it is that any Italians should be asked to believe that any pilot in any Air Force—their own not excluded—should need such a fantastic inducement to do what has now come to be regarded, by the R.A.F. at any rate, as a more or less routine job of work. We pasted the extract up on the notice-board in the officers' mess, with a big red arrow pointing to it. It really was too good to be missed.

But if you want a true picture of things in the R.A.F. Bomber Squadron, let me tell you what happened the first time the squadron I belong to was detailed for a raid on Berlin.

The wing commander who commands the squadron called in during the afternoon in the usual way for "briefing"—that's to say, to give us all the details of the operation. Half the squadron, he said, would be on Berlin, the remainder on other targets in Germany. He asked if there were any captains and crews who had any particular preference for Berlin. Every man operating that night wanted to go, though the wing commander decided that the fairest way to arrange things was to work it out in order of seniority. Some of the chaps started shooting a line about their seniority—trying to pull a bit of a fast one, in fact—but that didn't cut any ice and the whole thing was properly worked out by the two flight commanders. We have an "A" Flight and a "B" Flight.

In the end, however, everybody went, because later in the afternoon, we were taken off the other targets, and all put on to Berlin. I think that most pilots if they were asked for their opinion on the Berlin raid, would say that given moderately decent weather they were quite normal trips. They take longer, of course, than some of the other raids, but distance alone doesn't really make much difference so long as the aircraft can stand up to it as easily as ours do and as long as you have got well-trained captains and crews. In fact, it's precisely the sort of job that we've been trained to do.

Well, how about those gasworks in Berlin. If one's to judge from results actually seen, I suppose it's my most successful trip so far. As a matter of fact, it was the first time I've been to Berlin, though I have visited a good many other places in Germany.

We got a certain amount of A.A. fire on the way out—but nothing remarkable. By the time we arrived there were already a lot of our aircraft buzzing about and flares were dropping all over the place. One could pick out streets and railways, small parks and places like that.

Over the city, the guns were letting off at us pretty heavily, but we were not hit. We found our targets without any difficulty. It was a gas-generating plant only a few miles from the centre of Berlin. Someone else had started two fires in the N.E. corner of it and we ran up from west to east. My second pilot was flying the aircraft and I was doing the bomb aiming. By this time, we were down to 8,000 feet, and I could clearly see the outside of the works.

Perhaps I ought just to explain here, very briefly, how the bombing is done. The bomb aimer is lying flat on his face in the nose of the aircraft looking down through a large glass panel which takes the place of the floor. Allowances have to be made on the bomb-sight for the speed and direction of the wind, the height and speed of the aircraft, and so on; then, when the target comes in line with the pointers on the fore and back sight, the bomb aimer presses the firing switch—and down they go.

On this occasion, when the bombs burst, there were four huge explosions across the works. I think that the first one must have hit a gasometer, as far as I can see; there was no other explanation for what happened. There was a violent eruption upwards and outwards. It reminded me of a scene on the films.

The first four large explosions were followed by series of smaller explosions. Two huge fires started and great tongues of flame leaped up—I estimated that they must have been rising to 1,500 feet—then dense clouds of smoke began to pour out. It was the most terrific sight I have ever seen. The bombs had fallen about fifty yards apart. Almost immediately the fires and explosions seemed to link up and for a distance of 200 yards through the works there was this great mass of flames.

Next I saw our incendiaries fall on the western edge of the plant. They take longer to get down than the heavy bombs. What part of the works they hit, I don't know, but I could see large clusters of brilliant-coloured flashes on the ground. We circled round and watched the fires blazing up. The rear gunner, I remember, shouted: "Oh Boy, it's terrific." The whole of Berlin must have seen them lighting up the sky.

In the light of the explosions I had seen, momentarily, two long buildings and a tower. Then the aircraft passed over and I could not see any more from the front, but the rear-gunner said he saw one of the buildings collapse in flames.

By the time we had circled round twice, the guns were getting a little too close and I gave orders to set course for base. From the beginning of the run-up the whole thing took only five or six minutes. About a quarter of an hour after we had left, we could still see the reflection of the fire in the sky and about this time we made out another terrific explosion. We were not quite certain whether that was somebody else bombing or whether it was the result of our attacks. Well, that's the story of one aircraft on one raid on Berlin. One is not always so successful, of course, but it may give you some idea of the sort of work the R.A.F. is doing over there.


The bomber sets out. Left to right: Observer, Wireless Operator, Rear Gunner, Second Pilot, Pilot Captain


Operating the bomb-selector panel.


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.
#2886369 - 10/23/09 06:31 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 33.

September, 1940

SINKING A U-BOAT

BY A SQUADRON LEADER OF THE ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE

A dramatic incident in the war at sea was the recent sinking of a German U-boat and the capture of her crew by a Sunderland flying-boat of the Coastal Command. The story is told by the captain of the flying-boat.

Well, I was ordered to carry out a patrol—an anti-submarine patrol—in a certain position in the Atlantic and my take-off was to be very early in the morning. Whilst I was taxi-ing out I was sent a message to say that a steamer had been torpedoed in a certain position. I was ordered to proceed to that position and search for the submarine and if I saw it, of course, to bomb it. I took off and flew for some hours in the dark. Just as dawn was breaking we found the ship. She was about three miles away. She had been torpedoed aft and was still afloat. I circled round her. She appeared to be in no sort of difficulty and a destroyer was nearby. As my orders were not to waste any time, I then started to look for the submarine.

When I was about thirty miles from the steamer, I sighted a disturbance in the water about five miles away. It looked like a round patch with a wake leading up to it, and I felt pretty sure that it was the enemy submarine. She must have seen me at the very moment I saw her because she did a crash dive. I saw the swirl and prepared to attack it. I turned towards it and carried out a dive at a shallow angle, and released four bombs in a stick. The bombs fell on to the swirl on the surface and overlapped the disturbed water and formed what we call a "tight pattern"— (much the same as good grouping with a rifle). I then did a circuit with the object of coming back to make another attack. During the circuit I saw the submarine break surface apparently at a very steep angle by the bow, giving the impression that she had blown all her tanks in a rush to get to the surface. By the time I had turned the submarine had completely surfaced and I immediately carried out a second attack.

I did the second attack at an angle, slanting across the sub¬marine from the quarter to the bow and dropped another four bombs in a low-level attack. The submarine at the time was still moving forward very slowly under the impulse given by her rush to the surface. Immediately after the second four explosions she swung round violently to starboard and practically stopped. The crew rushed out of the conning-tower and lined up on deck aft of the conning-tower away from the gun. This obviously indicated surrender. I saw that the submarine was settling down, first of all evenly fore and aft, but soon, when the decks were almost awash, she adopted a sharp angle and settled down very quickly by the stern. Now, no submarine would willingly go down by the stern in the normal way of diving. So I knew that this was no trick to fool us. She was definitely sinking. The bow rose right out of the water and she sank. The whole thing only took two minutes from the time of the second attack.

As the submarine began to sink under them, the crew jumped into the water. We were quite low and circled round them when they realised the submarine was sinking. There was obviously a wild rush to get overboard. They were all wearing life-jackets and they bunched together in the water so as not to get lost.

Whilst all this was happening, one of my crew sighted an escort vessel in the distance and I signalled it to hurry to the scene and pick up the submarine survivors. I then directed the escort vessel by diving on the people in the water. At about seven o'clock the ship was picking up the survivors so that the submarine's crew were only in the water about three-quarters of an hour. We flew round them all the time and watched them. I learnt afterwards that forty-one survivors had been picked up. I then returned to my base about 400 miles away.


Heavy bombs in the racks of a Sunderland.



My favourite picture of a Short Sunderland.


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.
#2891146 - 10/30/09 06:43 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 34 – in competition with Oleg now!

September, 1940

BOMBING THE INVASION PORTS

BY A PILOT OFFICER OF A HEAVY BOMBER SQUADRON

A pilot officer in a heavy bomber squadron of the R.A.F. describes an attack on Ostend, one of the enemy's so-called "Invasion Ports" on all of which our bombers have recently been delivering heavy blows night after night.

In point of fact, these raids on the Channel ports occupied by the enemy are quite the simplest job of work we have had to do since bombing operations started; a quiet trip there and back. A couple of nights ago, for instance, when we bombed the dock area at Ostend it took us only one hour and fifty-five minutes from the time we set off until we got back to base; that was a record trip for myself and the crew.

Thirty miles out to sea from Ostend we saw a red glow in the sky. The front-gunner spotted it first and drew my attention to it. We were flying then just over the top of a thin layer of cloud. When we came out beyond this cloud we saw the coast-line for the first time, and from then onwards we could see the fires burning in the dock area at Ostend good and hearty.

Over the land the weather was perfect. The moonlight was so bright that, even from six miles away, I could make out buildings standing out against these fires in the darkness and I could see long stretches of sand on the foreshore.

We made a run straight over the middle of the dock. My observer was doing the bombing and I was flying the aircraft. He checked up and made quite sure that we were on the right target. As a matter of fact, there was no mistaking it. First of all, there was this long straight coast-line; then we identified an enormous kidney-shaped dock—it looked like a huge kidney from the air—which they call the Nouveau Bassin de Chasse. Having decided that we were O.K., we made our first bombing run. There's a large railway siding near the main wet dock and we were after that. We could see the siding and the docks plainly; in fact it was just like bombing on the practice raids.

As we started bombing, I remember noticing the time by the clock on my instrument panel. It was twelve minutes past one. The bomb aimer hit the railway siding with his first stick and the bombs started more fires, with all sorts of coloured explosions—red and yellow and blue, but mostly red—breaking out all over the place. I should say we must have got an ammunition train.

We did a left-hand circuit and were having a look to see what was going on before making our second run, when there was the most colossal explosion. It gave the effect of a gigantic mushroom, that's to say, it was thin at the bottom, but as they rose higher and higher, the flames and smoke spread out in a great circle. This column of fire must have come up to about 800 feet. We were flying at 5,000 feet at the time, and the force of the explosion threw the aircraft up fifty feet. After we bombed, we got a certain amount of fire from flak ships.

By this time fires seemed to be spreading all over the place. The moon, as I said, was shining brightly; in fact it was almost like daylight. One couldn't see anything of some part of the docks, though, because they were enveloped in a mass of fire. I think my bomb aimer and the rear gunner were feeling rather happy about it all. You see, both of them live in South London and had had their homes destroyed.

We went in again, to make our second run up this time. Again we were aiming for the rail sidings and our second stick of bombs fell towards the northern end, causing further explosions and fires. It was then eighteen minutes past one—one minute after we dropped our first bomb. We hung about, circling, for another five minutes.

The fires were still burning furiously and all the while coloured explosions were breaking out. One thing that struck me particularly was that the town itself, except for a few houses on the edge of the railway side appeared to be untouched. There were no fires there, nor was there any indication of it having been bombed, the fires were all in the dock area. We saw a lot of recognition signals being let off in the air—presumably from German fighters—but we never saw anything of the fighters themselves. Having flown round twice, we made out to sea, heading for home, and, coming back, the rear gunner said he could see the fire reflected in the sky forty to fifty miles away. As I said before, the whole trip there and back—including identifying and attacking the target and having a good look round after we'd bombed took only one hour fifty-five minutes.

Everyone who went out from our squadron found his objective and dropped his bombs; no one brought any back.



Not Ostend but invasion barges in Boulogne Harbour.

Last edited by RedToo; 10/30/09 06:45 PM. Reason: Typo.

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.
#2895996 - 11/06/09 07:39 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 35.

September, 1940

AIR BATTLE OVER LONDON

BY A SQUADRON LEADER

The story of a squadron leader who led his squadron of Hurricanes in one of the great air battles over London during which the record number of 185 German aircraft were shot down. Londoners were heartened to see the Dorniers and Messerschmitts come tumbling out of the sky, and must have wondered what it was like "upstairs". This squadron leader will tell them. Before the war he was an estate agent in Northumberland, having joined an auxiliary squadron in 1934. They were in Trance from November until the middle of May, and during that time his old squadron shot down no fewer than seventy-eight enemy aircraft. He was recently posted to command his present squadron. He has won the D.F.C.

At lunchtime on Sunday, my squadron was somewhere south of the Thames estuary behind several other squadrons of Hurricanes and Spitfires. The German bombers were three or four miles away when we first spotted them. We were at 17,000 feet and they were at about 19,000 feet. Their fighter escort was scattered around. The bombers were coming in towards London from the south-east, and at first we could not tell how many there were. We opened our throttles and started to climb up towards them, aiming for a point well ahead, where we expected to contact them at their own height.

As we converged on them I saw there were about twenty of them, and it looked as though it were going to be a nice party, for the other squadrons of Hurricanes and Spitfires also turned to join in. By the time we reached a position near the bombers we were over London—central London, I should say. We had gained a little height on them, too, so when I gave the order to attack we were able to dive on them from their right.

Each of us selected his own target. Our first attack broke them up pretty nicely. The Dornier I attacked with a burst lasting several seconds began to turn to the left away from his friends. I gave him five seconds and he went away with white smoke streaming behind him.

As I broke away and started to make a steep climbing turn I looked over the side. I recognised the river immediately below me through a hole in the clouds. I saw the bends in the river, and the bridges and idly wondered where I was. I didn't recognise it immediately, and then I saw Kennington Oval. I saw the covered stands round the Oval, and I thought to myself: "That is where they play cricket." It's queer how, in the middle of a battle, one can see something on the ground and think of something entirely different from the immediate job in hand. I remember I had a flashing thought—a sort of mental picture—of a big man with a beard, but at that moment I did not think of the name of W. G. Grace. It was just a swift, passing thought as I climbed back to the fight.

I found myself very soon below another Dornier which had white smoke coming from it. It was being attacked by two Hurricanes and a Spitfire, and it was still travelling north and turning slightly to the right. As I could not see anything else to attack at that moment, I went to join in. I climbed up above him and did a diving attack on him. Coming in to attack I noticed what appeared to be a red light shining in the rear gunner's cockpit, but when I got closer I realised I was looking right through the gunner's cockpit into the pilot and observer's cockpit beyond. The red light was fire.

I gave it a quick burst and as I passed him on the right I looked in through the big glass nose of the Dornier. It was like a furnace inside. He began to go down, and we watched. In a few seconds the tail came off, and the bomber did a forward somersault and then went into a spin. After he had done two turns in his spin his wings broke off outboard of the engines, so that all that was left as the bla2ing aircraft fell was half a fuselage and the wing roots with the engines on the end of them. This dived straight down, just past the edge of a cloud, and then the cloud got in the way and I could see no more of him.

The battle was over by then. I couldn't see anything else to shoot at, so I flew home. Our squadron's score was five cer¬tainties—including one by a sergeant pilot, who landed by parachute in a Chelsea garden.

An hour later we were in the air again, meeting more bombers and fighters coming in. We got three more—our squadron, I mean. I started to chase one Dornier which was flying through the tops of the clouds. Did you ever see that film "Hell's Angels"? You remember how the Zeppelin came so slowly out of the cloud. Well, this Dornier reminded me of that.

I attacked him four times altogether. When he first appeared through the cloud—you know how clouds go up and down like foam on water—I fired at him from the left, swung over to the right, turned in towards another hollow in the cloud, where I expected him to reappear, and fired at him again. After my fourth attack he dived down headlong into a clump of trees in front of a house, and I saw one or two cars parked in the gravel drive in front. I wondered whether there was anyone in the doorway watching the bomber crash.

Then I climbed up again to look for some more trouble and found it in the shape of a Heinkel 111 which was being attacked by three Hurricanes and a couple of Spitfires. I had a few cracks at the thing before it made a perfect landing on an R.A.F. aerodrome. The Heinkel's undercarriage collapsed and the pilot pulled up, after skidding fifty yards in a cloud of dust. I saw a tall man get out of the right-hand side of the aircraft, and when I turned back he was helping a small man across the aerodrome towards a hangar.


Pilots studying the day’s operations.


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.
#2897667 - 11/09/09 09:03 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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As always, much apprechiated RT! Thanks a lot!


The knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. - Douglas Adams
#2897832 - 11/10/09 12:55 AM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: Tbag]  
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I've been enjoying these too.
Thanks for posting. smile


Wheels


Cheers wave
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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
#2900302 - 11/13/09 07:48 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: wheelsup_cavu]  
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Thanks for the comments chaps. On with the show:

Part 36.

September, 1940

R.A.F. INTELLIGENCE

BY A FLIGHT LIEUTENANT, R.A.F.V.R.

"Last night our bombers carried out a successful attack on an important target in Germany" This is a familiar item of news; but behind this bare announcement lies not only the pilots' accounts of their attacks on the enemy, but also a remarkable story of the immense amount of work carried out by the other branches of the Royal Air Force which help to make these raids so successful.

The following account by a Station Intelligence Officer tells something of what goes on behind the scenes in the operations room of a bomber station on such occasions.

OPERATIONS room—known in the Service as "Ops"—guards many secrets. There are maps showing targets to be attacked and photographs of enemy harbours, shipping, factories and fuel and power plants. There is a mass of information collected by the intelligence department from many sources for the' guidance of pilots. Information about enemy anti-aircraft defences, landmarks and landfalls and the position of the vital spots in the various targets.

Take it that the time is noon, or according to the language of the service 12.00 hours. The commanding officer, wing com¬mander and intelligence officers are waiting for the night's targets to come through from higher authority. The commanding officer in this instance is a group captain of long service in India, Iraq, and the Far East. His quiet, unhurried manner contrasts with the keen eagerness of the wing commander, who, at twenty-eight, is probably the youngest of that rank in the R.A.F. He himself has made many raids over enemy country and combines leadership with quick understanding.

Orders arrive. It may be that some aircraft are to attack Berlin, and some to visit the base of the German fleet.

Instantly the word comes through, "Ops" room comes to life. The armourer is told the quantity and types of bombs which will be needed for the operation and soon has got ready his little trains of rubber-tyred trucks carrying the loads across the aerodrome to the aircraft detailed for the job. The meteorological officer, always known as "met", is warned to prepare weather forecasts for the districts to be visited. The medical officer is told "Ops to-night", and he arranges to stand by. The signals officer is also warned. While this is going on detailed maps of the targets have been taken from the files. Routes and distances are discussed.

Aircraft on operations are like trains. They work to schedule. Given a certain distance to fly, aircraft must be off the target at a definite time, to be home before daylight. This necessarily determines the hour of departure.

The intelligence officer turns up his files. Every scrap of information is considered, and a mass of detail is available. It may concern a huge oil refinery producing fuel for the enemy. Its size, output, motive power, its exact position in relation to towns, rivers and roads, the vulnerable points are identified and clearly marked on the maps. Having considered all the details, the station intelligence officer telephones to the group intelligence officer.

"Have you any new gen on the target?" ("Gen" is R.A.F. slang for information.)

Sometimes, fresh details are at hand, gathered from recon¬naissance flights only a few hours old.

Then the intelligence officer considers what landmarks will help. "There's a river bent to the east, and a dog-shaped wood. If they come in from the south-east over the bend, fly straight across the dog head, they can run up easily over the target."

And the commanding officer asks: "What are the ground defences?"

"Pretty hot, sir. No balloon barrage, but anti-aircraft barrage, both light and heavy."

"Searchlights?"

"Quite a lot of them.”

The wing commander breaks in: "I was there a month ago, and I'm sure the thing to do is to come in and attack on the glide."

The armourer telephones: "Incendiaries on all aircraft?" and the answer goes back: "Yes, all of them."

Incendiaries finish the work begun by the heavies. A well-cracked oil tank makes a good fire. Out on the aerodrome, the aircraft are undergoing their last-minute examination. The tons of bombs are housed in the aircraft, securely locked until the moment comes for their release. The hard-working ground staff has seen to everything, but the members of the crew still hang round to see that nothing has been left to chance.

The crew may consist of five men: captain, second pilot, observer-navigator-bomb aimer, wireless operator and rear gunner. All know each other so well that speech is hardly necessary.

Back again in the "Ops" room comes the briefing, and with this the atmosphere takes on a cheerful tension. The time is, say, six o'clock and one by one the crews turn up, salute smartly as they come in, and break into eager questions. They crowd round the big, map-covered table facing the same group that was there in the morning. "Crews all here?" asks the squadron commander and silence follows the affirmative.

The squadron commander reads the operation order.

"Information: the refinery is one of the largest in Germany and is working night and day."

"Intention: to attack and destroy the storage tanks, refining plant and power house." Then follow particulars of time, route, bomb-load and special instructions, after which the wing-commander makes a few observations. "Some of you were with me last time. We made a fair job of it, but they may have been able to patch it up. This time, crack it wide open. Weather: clear visibility but not much moon. Pick up the river; then your flares will show the rest."

The senior intelligence officer takes up the story. "Here are your target maps. Compare them with the quarter-inch map. Your route takes you over the 'duck'. The duck is a neck of land easily recognised as a landfall. Then on to here. There's a barrage here, so look out." He goes over the whole route, pointing out what to avoid and what to make for. Finally the group-captain adds general advice and some special item of information received from Bomber Command. "Take off at eight o'clock. Good hunting." The crews file out. The navigators have still to work out their courses. After that there is just time for an early meal before the take-off.

The "Ops" room is strangely quiet, waiting for the control-officer to telephone "times off". These are passed on to group headquarters, who in turn inform command. On the wall is a huge blackboard marked with the signs of the aircraft.

The telephone rings sharply. "N. for nuts off 19.58, D for Donald 19.59." So they go, and there is silence. Some four hours later signals begin to arrive in code announcing "task completed". Only if he is in extreme need will a pilot break the silence once he has set out on the outward journey.

Time passes slowly. About midnight, the station commander walks down the tarmac to the control-room. One by one the code-letters identifying each aircraft come through. There is an expectant pause. "What's happened to D for Donald?" asks the signal officer. "He'll be all right," replies the wing-com¬mander. "He takes a long time to make up his mind. Hates to leave the target." But there is a hint of anxiety in his voice. On the blackboard in the "Ops" room, times off target are being checked up. The space opposite "D" looks uncomfortably conspicuous. It is still empty when the senior officers return from the control room around two o'clock. Flasks of strong tea appear and everyone waits for the next signal, when the aircraft are nearing home.

The signals officer rushes in: " 'H' has just signalled."

"He'll be here in a few minutes," says the wing commander. "Any news of 'D'?"

"I'm trying group," replies the signals officer. "He may be homing on another station. He's got a fine operator; most likely his wireless has been struck by lightning."

Meanwhile, the intelligence officers have prepared their maps and writing-pads, ready to question the crews. It seems a little hard to interrogate men who have done a long arduous job and come home tired, but it must be done while memory is fresh.

The first crew arrives, blinking in the strong light. The time—between half-past four and half-past five. "Good trip?"

"Pretty good, sir," which proves to be an understatement of complete success under heavy anti-aircraft fire. They glance at the blackboard. "No news of 'D' sir?"

"We think his wireless has packed up."

Nothing more is said, and the intelligence officer starts on the others. "Did you identify your target?"

"Yes, just as you said." So it continues. "What time were you there? Height? One stick of bombs or two? What results? Good. That must have been the power house. . . . Bright blue flashes. Second stick huge explosion, curling thick black smoke. Fire? Good."

After the results of the raid, other questions, the answers to which build up the story of enemy activity, anti-aircraft, shipping, aerodromes.

And then: "Off you go, boys. Good work." All crews pass through the same inquisition.

It is six o'clock when the signals officer rushes in, his face beaming. " 'D' is just landing." "Quite time too," says the wing commander with assumed peevishness. 'D's' wireless had been struck by lightning but he had done a magnificent job, just the same. So the crews go on to the mess, to eat vast quantities of eggs and bacon. Only the intelligence staff is left in the "Ops" room. Sorting out the tales of the night's work, comparing them all, to arrive at a complete picture, with accurate information for the Group Command and those who sit in ultimate authority.

Next morning you may read that our aircraft successfully bombed an oil refinery.


Ground crews eagerly await the return of their aircraft in the early hours of the morning.


Back from a nine hour flight over enemy territory. All this crew are non-commissioned officers.


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.
#2905002 - 11/20/09 07:47 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 37.

September, 1940

MINELAYING BY AIR

BY A CANADIAN PILOT OFFICER

"To the many tasks it is already called upon to perform the Royal Air Force since the war has added a new duty—that of laying mines from the air. Many thousands of tons of enemy shipping have already been destroyed by these mines and here is a Canadian officer of the R.A.F., a young 'veteran" with thirty-six operational flights—as well as the D.F.C.—to his credit, to tell you something of the work of the aerial minelayer."

I THINK I had better start by explaining why anyone wants to lay mines by air when submarines and surface minelayers have been doing the job quite effectively for so long. It's not that we've gone into competition with the Navy on the job, it's just that aircraft loaded with mines, can make their way into narrow roadsteads, shallow channels and even into harbours where no surface vessel could possibly penetrate in the face of enemy defences. Within the past five months aircraft of the Bomber Command alone have laid far more than thirty separate minefields. They extend from Norway to the Atlantic ports, and as fast as a way is swept through any of these fields it is built up again where it will do most good—usually in a busy shipping lane or harbour—and in most cases the only way in which those waters could have been reached at all was by air.

Another advantage of minelaying by air is the speed with which a minefield can be sown. On one occasion there was urgent need for a certain enemy channel six hundred miles away from our base to be mined without delay. We received the order at 6 o'clock one evening. By midnight that minefield had been laid.

Accuracy is all important in minelaying. Unless the mine is placed exactly in a shipping channel it will be practically useless. International law, too, quite apart from the risk to our own ships, requires that mines shall be laid only within the limits of clearly defined areas. Actually we're each given a pinpoint on the chart and that pinpoint is where we've got to plant our mines—or bring them back. It calls for dead accurate navigation and the job's got to be done at night under cover of darkness so that the mines can't be too easily located and swept up.

The aircraft we use are Handley-Page Hampden bombers, but instead of the usual bomb load each aircraft carries a single mine. It's a pretty big mine, a long, fat cylinder about ten feet long and weighing close on three-quarters of a ton, and it packs as big a punch in the way of high explosive as a twenty-one-inch naval torpedo. It can do a lot of damage to even the biggest ship—the wrecks of several ten thousand ton supply ships which can still be seen in the Baltic are evidence of that.

The mine is stowed away inside the bomb compartment and enclosed by folding doors in the underside of the fuselage. There's a parachute attached to the mine and as the bomb doors are opened and the mine falls clear, this parachute automatically opens. It checks the rate of fall so that the mechanism of the mine won't be damaged by too violent a contact with the water. The mine doesn't make much of a splash as it goes in and it drags its parachute down after it to the sea bottom, where it stays put until a ship passes overhead and sets it in action.

Compared with a bombing raid a minelaying trip, of course, is a bit tame from the crew's point of view—almost a rest cure in fact. Being over the water most of the time you don't often get such a pasting from the ground defences as you do on a bombing raid. On the other hand, in a bombing show you do see some results for your money, whereas on a minelaying job it's a delayed-action result and you can only hope that the mine you've brought out and planted with such care will bag the biggest ship left in the German Navy. Still, the job has its compensations. For one thing, we realise how important the work really is. For another, we're given a couple of consolation prizes each trip in the form of two high explosive bombs. After we've planted our mines we can use these on any enemy ships that attack us. We don't often bring these bombs back.

When we first started minelaying our only means of retaliation were our machine-guns, and I remember one occasion in the Great Belt when we sighted an enemy destroyer a few moments after we had dropped our mine. We'd have given a lot for a couple of bombs just then but as we hadn't got them we dived down almost to mast height and shot up the destroyer with every gun we had. Then the destroyer did a bit of shooting up on its own account and I reckon we were lucky to have got away with only one hole in the wings.

Mostly though, minelaying is a much more unobtrusive and restrained affair and the less notice we attract in the process the better we like it. We're allowed to use parachute flares, if we want to, to pick up landmarks, but so far I haven't needed them. I've a grand crew and in the dozen or so minelaying shows we've done together we've usually been able to pinpoint our position fairly near to the minefield. From then onwards it's just a matter of working our way to the particular channel or harbour we want and, having discovered it, to find the exact pinpoint in that channel where our mine is to be laid. At other times, particularly if visibility is bad or the clouds very low, we may be quite a while searching for our pinpoint. Once when the clouds were down to five hundred feet we spent an hour over the Kiel estuary, mostly doing steep turns up and down the stretch of water until at last we spotted the particular square yard of estuary we were looking for.

We've been to Kiel several times. The first time I went mine-laying at Kiel I found it sooner than I had intended. I was feeling my way along the coast after coming out of cloud when I spotted a fjord which I knew was somewhere near the part of the coast we wanted. I turned and flew up it to get my bearings and before I really knew where I was I found myself right over the city of Kiel itself, only 800 feet up and with every gun in the place blazing off at us. I really thought we'd bought it that time—the barrage was simply terrific. I turned right about, put the nose of the machine down and we fairly shot back down that fjord. Then, when things had quietened down a bit, we came back, found our pinpoint in the estuary and laid our mine in the right place.

When we first began minelaying by air secrecy, of course, was of vital importance. Even a mention of the word "minelaying" was forbidden, and, instead it was always referred to in official orders by a code word. The whole secret was well kept and some thousands of tons of shipping were lost before the enemy realised that the mines which sank them had arrived by air. That caution is still second nature with most of us.


Handley Page Hampdens.


The cockpit of a Hampden Bomber.


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.
#2909175 - 11/27/09 09:23 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 38.

October, 1940

GOOSE FOR DINNER: JUNKERS FOR SUPPER

BY A CORPORAL OF THE BALLOON BARRAGE

WING COMMANDER: I think it was Dr. Johnson who once said he hadn't much use for balloons. Anyhow, if he didn't actually say as much, he probably thought it. Had he lived to-day he'd certainly have had something to say about the balloons of Britain's Barrage for they've now become a part of the landscape. In fact they've become so much a part of the landscape that we down below are apt to take them very much for granted and not think of them as what they really are—one of Britain's bulwarks of the air.

Only a few days ago, Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Sir Cyril Newall, Chief of the Air Staff, sent a message to the Air Officer Commanding Balloon Command, congratulating the balloon staff on their gallantry and devotion to duty in the Battle of Britain.

"Until recently," he said, "your Command have had few opportunities for service of a spectacular nature. On the other hand," he added, "their success cannot be measured by the number of enemy aircraft which they may bring down, but rather by the general efficiency with which they play their part in the air defence of Great Britain.

"By keeping the enemy bombers and fighters at a height where they can be effectively engaged by our own fighters or by anti-aircraft fire," he went on to say, "they have been invaluable members of a team upon the success of whose operations the safety of the entire country depends."

But keeping the German aircraft at a respectful distance and so hampering the accuracy of their bombing isn't Balloon Barrage's only job. They have their excitements as well. From time to time they actually bring down enemy raiders. Here, for instance is a member of a balloon crew which enjoyed that privilege only a few nights ago.
CORPORAL: The boys in our crew won't forget that night for a long time. It was the night we had wild goose for dinner.

I don't know how many of you know what life on a balloon barrage site is like. But believe me it's not always like being in the middle of Piccadilly Circus, not by a long way. Of course, it's very largely what you make it, and I for my part have never had a happier time in my life. But in some parts of the country, in the open, for instance—well, as I said before, it's not always like being in the middle of Piccadilly Circus. That's why a little extra appreciation from the people round about goes a long way.

It's funny that we should all remember that night by the goose we had for dinner, for we're all right for grub in Balloon Command.

But in spite of the good food, we've all got a long memory for anything like a real delicacy, like turkey or roast duck—or goose for instance. That's how I remember that particular day so well, because it was the day that Paddy, our Irishman—he's a boot-maker by trade—it was the day that Paddy shot down a wild goose. We cooked it ourselves too, on a stove lent to us by one of the local residents. It was a great day. As one of the crew had it: "Goose for dinner and Junkers for supper."

It was nasty sort of weather for balloons all that day. There was a gale of wind blowing, sometimes up to as much as forty-five miles an hour. This made the cable slant at an angle awkward for handling—and even more awkward for avoiding it if you were an enemy aircraft. There were clouds, too—clouds at different heights. You could never tell what heights those clouds would be next minute, for they were always changing and piling up on top of one another. That was why we kept the balloon moving up and down all day and during the night until we caught our Junkers.

There were strict orders to the guard on duty that night to follow the clouds up and down and pay close attention to the strain on the cable. We were all on our toes. We'd been on our toes for thirteen months.

We'd had two alerts that evening. The second came soon after ten o'clock. The clouds had come down even lower at this time and the wind was rising even higher. The crew were hauling in the balloon very slowly when suddenly we heard the sound of an aircraft. He was flying low and fast and sounded close at hand. Almost at once we heard one-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight heavy bangs. Bombs!

It couldn't have been more than a few seconds after this that we heard a terrific ear-splitting roar in the clouds just above. It was the enemy aircraft, in a power-dive, nosing down straight on top of us. One of the guard—a schoolmaster by profession— was working the winch at the time. He jammed on the brakes and ducked down in the cage. He was taking no chances. What he was frightened of was that the plane would crash on top of him or maybe they'd go for him with their machine-guns.

One of the other guards was Paddy, the Irish bootmaker. He just dropped on one knee—exactly like the way he'd taken the pot shot that had brought down the duck—and took aim with his rifle. What he was aiming at I don't think even Paddy knew—but that's neither here nor there. The point is, he was ready for action.

It was at this moment that we caught sight of the Junkers for the first time. Apparently he'd caught sight of the balloon and immediately flattened out his dive. With a "zoom" he started a climbing turn to the right. He was trying to skim past the cable. He didn't know, of course, that the cable was slanted at an angle and so he couldn't judge its path correctly. That's where he came unstuck.

All this was a matter of seconds, of course. Then with a desperate pull he swerved and the plane hit the cable with such a terrific force that it was pulled completely round. Showers of bright red and yellow sparks flashed from the cable and the machine. You'd have thought it was daylight. And then the jolly old balloon broke away.

WING COMMANDER: What happened then?

CORPORAL: The fun was only beginning then. As soon as they heard the noise the guard dashed up to the hut. Naturally, they were all excited and kept shouting: "The balloon's gone, but we've caught a Jerry." They'd spotted it as a Junkers 88 from its silhouette. They all dashed out from the hut—just in time to see the Junkers in an awful blaze, it seemed about two or three miles away. What a sight for sore eyes that was!

WING COMMANDER: I should imagine the whole countryside was pretty well awake by this time?

CORPORAL: Everybody was bundling out of their houses, cheering and shouting. Up came the air-raid wardens to our post, asking how it had all happened. When we told them, they were as proud about it as we were.

I had then the job of reporting the whole affair to our flight headquarters, so I got into my great-coat, borrowed a motor-bike from one of the dispatch-riders and set off with the good news. I felt like the man in the poem—the one that brought the good news from Ghent to somewhere. I never could make out from that poem what the good news was, but I certainly felt like the man. From flight headquarters, a message was sent to squadron, and so I set off for the site again.

WING COMMANDER: You'd still some odds and ends to tidy up, I suppose?

CORPORAL: AS far as I was concerned, the most important thing was, of course, the balloon and the cable. After a long search we found the cable. It was stretched over three fields, half a dozen back gardens, a couple of houses, a length of telegraph wires and a roadway. We arrived back just in time to meet the squadron leader who had come over from headquarters to inspect the wreck which was about five miles away.

Then we set about clearing the cable from the roadway and the houses. I think that was the worst job of the lot. It took us till daylight to get that done, hauling every inch of it as carefully as if it were string from a child's kite. We had other troubles as well, for one householder came out and demanded to know how much longer we were going to be as he couldn't get to sleep again, he said, once he'd been awakened. The poor old gentle¬man didn't realise how near he'd been to never waking up again!

WING COMMANDER: What happened to the Junkers. ... I mean where did it come down?

CORPORAL: By an extraordinary piece of good luck for the people round about, it flew over completely open country till it blew up and scattered itself over the fields.

WING COMMANDER: What happened to the crew?

CORPORAL: TWO of them baled out and fractured their legs on landing. The other two were killed.

The next morning we examined the balloon cable. One of the strands was flattened out as if it had been hit with a heavy sledge-hammer—that was where the Junkers had hit it. It took us all the morning to get the cable back on to the winch after the armourer had taken the broken piece away for investigation.

We have only one regret, actually, and that is that we caught the Junkers after he'd dropped his bombs, and not before. We've now a new balloon and are keenly waiting for the next Junkers to come along.

WING COMMANDER: Well! I hope the next time, you have goose for dinner as well.


A Barrage Balloon Demonstration.

Last edited by RedToo; 12/11/09 10:11 PM. Reason: Typo.

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.
#2913546 - 12/04/09 08:46 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 39.

October, 1940

MAINTENANCE WORK

BY A FLIGHT SERGEANT OF COASTAL COMMAND

I am a flight sergeant in charge of a maintenance party at a Coastal Command station of the Royal Air Force. Our squadron uses American-built Lockheed Hudsons, which go out over the North Sea every day on reconnaissance duty.

I was piloting myself until an accident put me on ground duties. Now my job is to keep the Hudsons in the air.

The aircraft repair section of any station is a pretty busy place. All day, and all night as well, you hear the buzz of electric drills, the rattle of compressed air riveters, the hum of paint-sprayers and the roar of engines. It's not a peaceful life, but it's a very interesting one. There's plenty of work for us all, from the youngest reservist to the station engineer officer.

Talking of youngsters, I have a very useful lad who is a modern counterpart of the chimney-sweep boys of the past. He's only four feet six inches, and of course is called Tich, and is the only person on the station small enough to crawl right to the tail end of the fuselage of a Hudson. He was away one day, and another rigger took his place. This man got to the end but became wedged, and we couldn't move him. It took two hours' work to get him out. He had gone in feet first, and got stuck on his back between a couple of cross-bracing struts and the roof. We had to turn him over on to his stomach and pull on his shoulders to get him out. After that, Tich reigned supreme in his own sphere.

Ours was the first squadron in the R.A.F. to be equipped with American aircraft, and anyone who wanted to know the difference between the English and American language should have come to our workshops then. Many of the engineering terms are quite different. Most people know that petrol is gasoline, and engines are motors, but did you know that the American equivalent of chassis is "structure", oil or petrol feed-pipes are collectively called "plumbing", a handfuel pump is a "wobble pump", and a tailplane is a "horizontal stabiliser"? There are many more curious terms we had to learn when we first got Hudsons. We could have done with a dictionary. We had the very willing assistance of Lockheed and Wright-Cyclone engine experts to smooth the difficulties, but even they unwittingly misled us on occasions. For instance, they would talk about seeing a ship out at sea, and while we would look on the water they were watching an aircraft in the sky.

In a way, we are rather like surgeons who take a pride in performing restorative treatment. We replace broken sections, and graft on new metal skin. If you could see the damaged condition in which an aircraft sometimes returns, you would think it could never be repaired. But we can do wonders with a few days in the workshops—or even a few hours—and it comes out again as good as new.

When an aeroplane returns with battle-scars we make a thorough examination to check up the full extent of the damage. It's amazing how some bullet-holes hide themselves away. On one occasion we thought we had finished the repairs, but a final check-over revealed a bullet-hole through a bolt holding a wing in place. The bullet had neatly removed the core of the bolt without damaging anything else, so it was difficult to see that anything was wrong. Then, sometimes, a scrap of shrapnel will play havoc with the complicated wiring system of the instrument panel. When something goes wrong with that box of tricks, you need the patience of Job to put it right again.

One of our most interesting jobs was repairing a Hudson which became known as the "corkscrew plane". It was badly damaged near Norway, and limped home with rudder controls away. The crew almost baled out, but decided to try and put it down, and made a sort of side-slip landing in the dark. They were all safe, but the aircraft was a mess! We got to work that night. The tail control wires were all wrapped round each other like a ball of wool after the cat's got it. We had to rebuild the entire port tailplane, but that aircraft was flying again within live days, and is still doing its patrols to-day.

We did a quick-change act on another Hudson which came back 300 miles over the sea with one engine seized up. The pilot radioed that one engine had packed up, and the moment he landed we had a new engine and all accessories ready. The aircraft arrived back in the evening, and we had it flying again the next day.

It's a great help to us that the engine unit of a Hudson is amazingly compact. Each of the two 1,100 h.p. engines is held to the wing by only a very few main bolts. We can take out one engine and bolt another in position in a quarter of an hour, and it only takes another couple of hours to connect all the pipe-lines, controls and exhaust system ready for starting up.

Every man on the maintenance side knows the responsibility of his work. The crews of our aircraft give us their complete confidence. Their successes against the enemy are ample reward for our work. They place their lives in our hands, and we do our best to be worthy of the trust.


Servicing a Hudson. The tail is raised so that the guns can be checked.

Last edited by RedToo; 12/11/09 10:11 PM. Reason: Typo.

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.
#2914781 - 12/06/09 07:13 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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RedToo,
Thank you very much indeed for this thread, its very special and important that folk get a chance to see and read about such aspects of the Battle of Britain and circa that period, its not all just dogfights etc, though they also make for interesting reading, personal accounts etc are fascinating. Keep it coming, you have there an excellent book. I must track down a copy. One I should have but haven't.
Such recollections would make for intelligent TV especially if the techies could recreate some of these events using digital wizardry. Far better than the dumb dross aired to the masses nowadays and would help correct the imbalance of USA v GB aviation heritage progs out there.
How are you turning it into digital type ? Pictures are also top class, no woozy jpegs but produced by someone who cares about quality. Well done.
BOBC

#2915487 - 12/07/09 08:51 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: BOBC]  
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Thanks for the kind words BOBC. I scan a chapter each week into Finereader - an OCR program, then dump it into Word to tidy it up and add picture links. I find my pics from all over the place but mostly I scan them from books in my collection that date from WWII (CanoScan3200F). Then tweak in Photoshop. A couple of the pics in the thread are modern day but messed with to make them look older ...
I agree about the other RAF commands during the Battle of Britain, they too were working flat out, but the focus does tend to be (rightly) on the fighter boys.

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.
#2918327 - 12/11/09 10:09 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 40. Rather well written this week.

October, 1940 AIR LOG

A TAIL GUNNER’S STORY

BY A FLIGHT LIEUTENANT, R.A.F.V.R.

The speaker is a commissioned air gunner in the R.A.F. V.R.—a flight lieutenant, aged 39, and a well-known big-game shot—who has been flying as a tail gunner with a Heavy Bomber Squadron operating by night over Germany.

I am going to tell you something about the life of a tail gunner in one of our heavy night bombers. But if you expect a long catalogue of thrilling incidents, you will be disappointed. We certainly have our excitements—we get shot up, iced, and some¬times fed up—but for the most part our outings lack the Holly¬wood element. In the last resort, it is in the gunner's hands that the safety of the crew rests, but the high lights of serial combat— Kipling's Unforgiving Minute at close quarters—come only now and then. At the end of seven and a half hours in the tail turret, one rather sighs for them.

A tail gunner is part of a crew, and this crew's life dominates not only his flying hours but his whole existence. Crews are married up at an operational training unit, or on arrival at their squadrons, and after that they are never parted. Crew life becomes unendingly intimate. On the trip, you don't see them at work, but you know they're there, and you take comfort from each other. Without being sentimental, there is a sense of comradeship about the venture. You come together, six nondescript indivi¬duals—young and old, lean and fat, officer and non-commissioned officer. You eye each other in a rather British sort of way and wish you could find something graceful and appropriate to say. You can't. You think how odd they look and I suppose you must look just as odd to them. None of you would probably have chosen each other if crews were made on the picking up principle, but after a bit you would not dream of changing. It is really very curious.

In our crew the captain and second pilot were Scots; the two wireless operator air gunners were from Canada and the Irish Free State, while the navigator came from the West Indies; and I'm an Englishman. One of the gunners is young enough, with due precocity on my part, to be my son.

The two other things that are all-important to a gunner are his turret and his guns. He is entirely responsible for their upkeep and efficiency, and he nurses them as a woman does her child. Daily he cleans them, fills the ammunition boxes, looks to the sighting. As to his turret, it is his home for all his flying hours. He's practically always working in the dark. At first, one is all at sixes and sevens. One puts down the loading handle or the spanner or the dummy round, and cannot find it again. One bangs one's head and tears one's hands. I have shed good blood, not to mention flesh, in my turret. But after a bit it becomes almost lovingly familiar. One knows the exact peculiarities, the strains and stresses of each fitting, and each seems to have a personality which one regards with affection even in its most stubborn moments.

I'll take you with us to-night on an ordinary sortie over Germany. The first time it's rather a thrill and one feels that there should be more ceremony about it; but after a bit it becomes an unnoticed routine. After all, one could hardly line up like a musical comedy chorus and sing: "There'll always be an England". So settle down in the seat, adjust your flying-helmet, play into the inter-communicating set—and there you are. Your parachute is hung up just behind you and you've locked the turret doors. As is probably well known, our turrets are power-operated, swinging easily in any direction, and so you test your turret, moving it to and fro by pressing on a pair of handles, rather like bicycle handles. And you finally load and cock the guns, putting on the safety catches, because one may meet brother Boche at any moment. All this makes you feel rather hot, because knowing you may fly high, you've got on a couple of pull-overs, a leather Irvine suit which is fur-lined, leather gauntlets with silk linings and heavy flying-boots. You apply your body gingerly to the seat. Seven hours is a good long sit. I can assure my listeners that the last few months have made me a connoisseur of contours.

Then you switch over your "inter-com" and speak to the captain to show it's working all right; and you hear the others doing the same, for you are all on the same circuit. In this way you get a very fair idea of what is going on all round the aircraft. You can picture each member of the crew doing his job from the report he gives or the instructions he receives. Personally, I never talk down the "inter-com", unless I have anything that needs saying. My first squadron-commander told me that a garrulous tail gunner was an infernal nuisance—and I marked his words.

The striking thing about a tail turret is the sense of detachment it gives you. You're out beyond the tail of the plane and you can see nothing at all of the aircraft unless you turn sideways. It has all the effects of being suspended in space. It sounds, perhaps, a little terrifying, but actually it is fascinating. The effect it has on me is to make me feel that I am in a different machine from the others. I hear their voices; I know that they are there at the other end of the aircraft, but I feel remote and alone. Running my own little show, I like to sense that they are able to run theirs feeling that they needn't worry about attack from the rear. Some gunners have told me that this sense of isolation weighed heavily on them at first, but I have spent a lot of time occupied with solitary pursuits and it has never irked me, personally.

We must keep a good look out, you and I, in our rear turret to-night, for, in the last month or so, the enemy fighters have been more active by night; and quite a few of our gunners have been engaged. Previous to that we had, unfortunately, not had much opportunity of using our guns, except during the period of the fighting in France when we got quite a lot of good ground targets at low altitudes. I remember with peculiar satisfaction a long white road in Northern France, a full moon and a German lorry column; a particularly desirable combination, if I may say so. But from a gunnery point of view our outings have often been, as Dr. Johnson said of second marriage "the triumph of hope over experience". We hoped that the German fighters would be up and engage us. Experience taught us that it was unlikely; but now things have livened up a bit.

Now we are rising slowly over the familiar, darkened landmarks below. A pause, and we have crossed the coast and we ask the captain's permission to fire a burst into the sea, just to make assurance doubly sure as regards the serviceability of our guns. Out at sea, away on my beam, I suddenly see another aircraft; a twin-engined plane flying parallel to us. It is a long way off. Can it be a Messerschmitt 110? I report to the captain and keep it in view, but as it swings in I recognise the high familiar tail fin of the Wellington. Soon it has disappeared again in the darkness. Good hunting.

Time passes—we are over the Dutch coast and soon we are flying high above a bank of clouds. It is lit from below by German searchlights and this gives it a sort of opaque glow. Our captain comes down just above it, so that we can have cover if it is needed. Ten minutes later we are past the clouds, climbing again. We have been this way before and we are getting to know it quite well. Now the Germans are after us with their searchlights —and pretty good they are, too. Out in front there is a flak barrage, otherwise known as an anti-aircraft barrage. You and I in the tail turret can't see the barrage yet. The searchlights keep crossing and crossing. Now one's caught us. But no. After holding us for a moment it passes. Two minutes later, however, they get us good and proper. And very confusing it is, too. You feel a cross between a fly on an arc lamp and a man whose clothes have been pinched while he was bathing. But, of course, it's a good deal worse for the captain, who's flying the aircraft.

We turn and twist, hoping to get clear, and—now the party's starting!—here comes the flak. Personally the German flak has never worried me very much. Perhaps I've been lucky. You can see the pyrotechnics coming bursting up at you, and going off all round you, with a sense of detachment. It's a Brocks' benefit—and all for you. It would cost you a shilling at the Crystal Palace. I have never really honestly felt it could be going to hit me. I suppose I'm the usual indolent English optimist. And if it does catch us, we have the benefit of our marvellously constructed machine. They stand a lot of punishment. A large hole was once made only four feet behind my seat, and I never even knew the old kite had been hit.

Well, we are getting pretty close to the target now, and I can hear the navigator and the captain chattering away over the "inter-com"; but actually there is no need to worry about spotting our target to-night, because some more of our bombers have been there first and the factory we're after is blazing away nicely. It's a terrible temptation to the gunner to sit and watch the bombs dropping. But really he oughtn't to, because we may be attacked at any moment and the rear gunner's job is to watch for their attack, not ours. Still, let's have a peep or two out of the corner of our eye. The first stick seems a bit wide, but the second hits the target square as far as one can judge, and adds to the blaze. "Whoopee!" shouts the second pilot. "Whoopee!" shouts back the captain: and "Whoopee" shout you and I from the back.

We waste no time but turn for home. This is where we may expect attack. We have been fired at pretty continuously all the time we have been over the target area, but now the flak has stopped, and there are only the searchlights. This seems to suggest fighters. A few nights earlier, in this same area, a machine from our squadron met an enemy fighter under just these conditions. With both aircraft illuminated by German searchlights, the fighter came bursting up and started banging off tracer at about 600 yards. It went low.

Our gunner let him come to within three hundred yards and then gave him three or four bursts. He banked sharply and then broke away. However, the gunner thought that wasn't the end of him, nor was it. He came in again, slightly above, and firing off red and green tracer with all the enthusiasm associated with the fifth of November at a prep. school. This time our gunner gave him all he'd got. But he didn't need the lot. He just went into a vertical dive and pitch-forked himself into the Reich.

Well, we're all teed up for something to happen; but it doesn't. More searchlights, more flak, but no fighters, and in due course we are crossing the coast again, though that in itself spells no immunity from attack. It's beginning to feel pretty chilly because we have been flying at a good height; and I suddenly find that one of my legs is getting cramped, and that six and a half hours of scanning the heavens has been a bit of a strain on the eyes; and that my hands have grown weary of holding the grips that operate the turret. In short, quite suddenly, one finds that a lot of time has passed, much to one's surprise, and that one's feeling tired. Still, anything may happen at any moment, one keeps telling one's self—one must not relax.

Now we're over our own coast. Searchlights catch us at once. Our searchlights are really good.

We've had a good trip. Things have gone well. The target was found easily and was well and truly hit. There's a happy atmosphere inside the kite—though nothing is said. You notice the barometer rising. It's sort of psychological.

Well, here we are, circling the aerodrome, waiting for per¬mission to land. In we come—a good landing—and we taxi up to the hangar. The C.O.'s on the tarmac—"Square" by nickname and square by nature—and he wants to hear about it; and then we go and pull off our flying-kit; swap a few experiences in the crew room; put in the report.

And so to bacon and eggs and bed in the pale light of a dawn I used to associate with roe stalking and cub hunting, though that seems a long time ago now.

I wish I could tell you something about this ordinary tail gunner's outing that was more spectacular than the things that have happened to you and me . . . there isn't even a hole in our aircraft to show we've been there. But the life of a tail gunner in a heavy bomber is one of long hours of humdrum. I am glad that so much of the mock-heroic nonsense talked about tail gunners in the early days of the war has dried up—suicide clubs, and that sort of idiocy. We resented it. But I should like to say a word of thanks to the designers and workpeople who give us our splendid, unfailing guns, and to the armourers who at all hours and in all weathers keep them in action. They are heroes of this war, and it is they who make our work something in which we have a full measure of confident pride.


Servicing the rear guns of a Whitley Bomber.

Last edited by RedToo; 12/11/09 10:16 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.
#2922522 - 12/18/09 08:01 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
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Part 41.

October, 1940 AIR LOG

TWO FIGHTER PILOTS’ STORIES

The other day two fighter pilots met for the first time. They met in the sky, high above the Thames estuary. One was in a Spitfire and the other was in a Hurricane and they had become separated from their squadrons. Finding themselves together, they formed a little team. Between them they "beat up" six German raiders. They know that they destroyed three of them—two Dorniers and a Messerschmitt—and they don't think the others were likely to get home.

Having finished that job they flew back to the coast, waved to each other and went their different ways.

Ten days later they met again, this time on land. The Hurricane pilot flew across to the Spitfire pilot's aerodrome and they went over the battle together. To-night they are going to talk it over again for your benefit. They found that they were both about the same age {the Spitfire pilot is twenty-one, the Hurricane pilot twenty), that they both had the D.F.C., that they had joined the R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve at the same time—February, 1938, and that they had each won their commission since war broke out.

The Spitfire pilot was a farmer in Shropshire before the war. The Hurricane pilot was a Manchester bank clerk. Perhaps he'd like to begin the conversation.

HURRICANE PILOT: I'd like to go through that day again. When I first saw you come alongside in your Spitfire I thought you were a Messerschmitt. Then, you remember, I pointed at the Dornier about a mile in front, and saw you go away from me, because a Spitfire certainly has the legs of a Hurricane at that height. When you'd made your first attack, I caught up with him and we took our time finishing him off. As a matter of fact, I ran out of ammunition towards the end, when he was down to fifty feet. I made several dummy attacks on him before I saw you send him into the sea.

SPITFIRE PILOT: And I thought you were playing the little gentleman. It just seemed that you were saying: "Look, you have this one, it's your turn."

ANNOUNCER: Now you are getting on too fast. Let's start again with the Spitfire.

SPITFIRE PILOT: What happened to me was this: Our Spitfire squadron was over London when the battle began and pretty soon we were all split up into a series of dog-fights. When you are tearing about the sky you don't see much, and you sometimes find yourself alone when you do get a chance to look round. That was what happened to me. I could see no sign of my squadron or of the enemy formation. There were plenty of clouds about, remember. I looked around and saw, about 2,000 feet above me and away to the north-east of London, three Dorniers and three Messerschmitts being dogged by a Hurricane.

I decided to go up and give whatever help I could, but before I could get up there the Hurricane was milling around with the Messerschmitts and two of them were walloping down through the clouds absolutely done for, in my opinion. When I got up there I shot down the odd Messerschmitt. Then I saw you blaze away at a Dornier. He did a somersault—a couple of somersaults. As he whirled over, bits of his wings fell off, and he went crashing down through the clouds.

After that I drew alongside your Hurricane and you pointed forward. I looked where you were pointing, and saw a Dornier about a mile ahead, heading off for the sea. I opened up and drew away from you, made an attack and the Dornier went down through the clouds. We both followed him through, and took it in turns to attack him. By the time he had reached the coast he was at 1,000 feet, still going down steadily. He was only at fifty feet when we passed down the middle of a convoy. We were below the tops of the masts all the way between the ships. Then, about forty miles off Clacton-on-Sea, I gave the Dornier a final burst and in he went.

He alighted on the water tail first, quite comfortably, you might say. Then a wing cracked off, his back broke, and down he sank.

ANNOUNCER: What does the Hurricane say to that?

HURRICANE PILOT: I really didn't notice your Spitfire until you flew alongside when the chase of the final Dornier began. I remember cracking one Dornier down, and attacking another, and then being set on by three Messerschmitts 109. And after the milling around with the Messerschmitts I started after the Dornier. I know I hit at least two of the 109s, but I didn't see them go down. I was too busy. I remember, though, attacking a Dornier earlier on. Maybe two. It's hard to say.

SPITFIRE PILOT: I saw you do it. The first one was lovely. And the other went straight down through the clouds in a vertical dive.

HURRICANE PILOT: The main thing is that we beat them up, isn't it? What I liked was when you shot off in front of me chasing that last Dornier. When you caught him up and started squirting at him I was about half a mile behind you. He dived through the clouds, so I dived through after him. I came out below the clouds and the Dornier came out a short distance away. I think he was a bit of a nit-wit, don't you? If he had stayed in those clouds he might have been safe.

SPITFIRE PILOT: You're right. But, mind you, he had a lot of my bullets inside him even then, and maybe he wanted to stay in the clouds and couldn't. It was easy after that, wasn't it? Those quarter attacks we made on him, in turn. First you from the right, swinging across his tail, then me going at him from the left. We just criss-crossed as he flew on a straight course, though losing height all the time. I should say he was about 1,000 feet when we reached the coast, and he got down to fifty feet before we finished him off.

HURRICANE PILOT: Before YOU finished him off, you mean. I liked the way we both flew back to the coast, grinning at each other. I thought once of coming along with you to your aerodrome so that we could discuss the battle together. Then I thought I'd better get back. I only had a few gallons of petrol left when I landed.

SPITFIRE PILOT: SO had I.

ANNOUNCER: Well, your story certainly shows that it doesn't really matter—to the Germans, I mean—whether a Spitfire or a Hurricane attacks them.

HURRICANE PILOT: There's no doubt about that at all. Nevertheless, I'm used to the Hurricane, so give me a Hurricane every time.

SPITFIRE PILOT: And give me a Spitfire. By the way, a Spitfire is a lot easier to handle than some of the trainer aircraft I learned in. I do hope that my old instructor is listening in to this, for he always said I was the world's worst pupil in any kind of aircraft.

HURRICANE PILOT: That's funny. That's what my old instructor used to tell me.

ANNOUNCER: Perhaps that's part of the instruction.





Last edited by RedToo; 12/18/09 10:19 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.
#2926331 - 12/24/09 07:54 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,657
RedToo Offline
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RedToo  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,657
Bolton UK
Part 42. Posted early for Christmas.

October, 1940

RESCUE IN THE ATLANTIC BY A SUNDERLAND FLYING-BOAT

BY A FLIGHT LIEUTENANT

MY Sunderland was the flying-boat which found a lifeboat in the Atlantic recently and brought its twenty-one occupants back to this country. It belongs to one of the Royal Australian Air Force Squadrons and the entire crew is Australian.

The men in the lifeboat were survivors of a torpedoed ship and they had been adrift for three and a half days when we picked them up. We had sighted the same lifeboat two days before, and had dropped a container with food and cigarettes to the men. But the condition of the sea then made it impossible to alight. The second time we saw them they had rowed and sailed a little nearer to this country, but they were still about 150 miles from the nearest land.

It was still dark when one of my gunners reported a red light on the sea some miles away. We flew in that direction, and soon we could see the outline of a boat below us.

We flew round for about a quarter of an hour waiting for the daylight to improve. I thought the condition of the sea might permit a landing, and made several dummy approaches on the water. This meant coming down very low—a few feet above the surface—to see whether it was possible to get down without damaging the flying-boat.

I discussed it with my co-pilots. We decided that it could be done, and I came down on what seemed to be the flattest area of sea in the vicinity. This, however, wasn't as calm as it seemed. There was quite a lumpy swell and the aircraft lurched rather heavily once or twice before coming to rest.

We kept two of our four engines running, but they gave too much headway to the aircraft and the men in the lifeboat, about a quarter of a mile away and rowing hard, could not catch us up. We turned back towards them and stopped all our engines.

I directed them towards the bow of the Sunderland and asked them to lower their mast, which might have holed the wing. They brought the boat round and several of the men fended it off while the others piled in through the front gun turret. It wasn't an easy transfer because their boat was rising and falling in front of the nose of the Sunderland.

Although several of the men were suffering from exposure and later were taken to hospital, they clambered aboard with very little loss of time. Some of them were throwing kit from their boat into the aircraft, but I objected on the grounds of weight. The skipper had a big cardboard box under his arm. He said: "What about this? Here are my ship's papers." Of course, I couldn't refuse those.

I was anxious to get off again as soon as possible and we distributed the passengers in the aircraft so that their weight would not upset its trim. We had been on the water nearly half an hour.

It was a tricky take-off because of the confused swell and the additional weight. We struck rather a bumpy patch in the course of our run which sent several cups scuttling in the galley and we nipped the tops of two swells before we were properly airborne.

On the way back to base, the rigger, who is our cook, gave the survivors as good a breakfast as he could on the food available—which, unfortunately, was not much for so many. But it was at least hot—cooked on the galley stove.

I didn't see much of our passengers on the way back as we were confronted with foggy conditions and my co-pilots and I were fully occupied in managing the aircraft. However, we got back safely and handed our survivors over to the care of the medical officer, who was waiting for them as a result of a wireless message we had sent.


On patrol. The midship gunners of the Sunderland are alert at their stations. Below, in the crew’s quarters, the ‘watch off’ takes it easy.


Torpedoed.

Last edited by RedToo; 12/24/09 07:56 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.
#2926363 - 12/24/09 09:17 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]  
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 13,361
Freycinet Offline
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Freycinet  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 13,361
Lovely series, thx so much for your scanning and OCR work!


My Il-2 CoD movie web site: www.flightsimvids.com
#2926414 - 12/24/09 11:04 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: Freycinet]  
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 127
orkan Offline
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orkan  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 127
Always nice to read your posts, RedToo!

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