Author Topic: Air Force Lookups - if you need help  (Read 105176 times)

Offline kyt

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Re: Air Force Lookups - if you need help
« Reply #9 on: Thursday 12 June 08 18:12 BST (UK) »
Hello Charlotte

I am glad to have been some help. I haven't had a chance to look through the squadron ORB yet, but will do so asap, to see if I can compile a list of missions he flew before the last one.

The mission on which he was killed was to Nuremburg, and the aircraft he was piloting was Lancaster ND738 (apologies, I made a mistake earlier).

They took off at 22.19 on the 30th from Binbrook. Nearing the target, they were shot down by a night-fighter and crashed with tremendous force at Ermreuth, 4 km WSW of the small town of Grafenberg. All are buried in Durnbach War Cemetery.

The crew were:
F/Sgt C H Hargreaves RAAF
Sgt D F Siddall
F/O J E Beaumont
F/Sgt W H Spargo RAAF
F/Sgt G D Moody
Sgt G Jones
Sgt A E Leggett

The raid was a major effort and the general details of the mission can be found in the Bomber Command Diaries:

"This would normally have been the moon stand-down period for the Main Force, but a raid to the distant target of Nuremberg was planned on the basis of an early forecast that there would be protective high cloud on the outward route, when the moon would be up, but that the target area would be clear for ground-marked bombing. A Meteorological Flight Mosquito carried out a reconnaissance and reported that the protective cloud was unlikely to be present and that there could be cloud over the target, but the raid was not cancelled.

795 aircraft were dispatched - 572 Lancasters, 214 Halifaxes and 9 Mosquitos. The German controller ignored all the diversions and assembled his fighters at 2 radio beacons which happened to be astride the route to Nuremberg. The first fighters appeared just before the bombers reached the Belgian border and a fierce battle in the moonlight lasted for the next hour. 82 bombers were lost on the outward route and near the target. The action was much reduced on the return flight, when most of the German fighters had to land, but 95 bombers were lost in all - 64 Lancasters and 31 Halifaxes, 11.9 per cent of the force dispatched. It was the biggest Bomber Command loss of the war.

Most of the returning crews reported that they had bombed Nuremberg but subsequent research showed that approximately 120 aircraft had bombed Schweinfurt, 50 miles north-west of Nuremberg. This mistake was a result of badly forecast winds causing navigational difficulties. 2 Pathfinder aircraft dropped markers at Schweinfurt. Much of the bombing in the Schweinfurt area fell outside the town and only 2 people were killed in that area. The main raid at Nuremberg was a failure. The city was covered by thick cloud and a fierce cross-wind which developed on the final approach to the target caused many of the Pathfinder aircraft to mark too far to the east. A 10-mile-long creepback also developed into the countryside north of Nuremberg. Both Pathfinders and Main Force aircraft were under heavy fighter attack throughout the raid. Little damage was caused in Nuremberg.
"

K

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Offline charlotteCH

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Re: Air Force Lookups - if you need help
« Reply #10 on: Friday 13 June 08 02:44 BST (UK) »
Thank you for that K. 
Some years back I read a book on the Nuremberg raid which said about the weather forecast that three Australian Lancaster pilots, when they heard abt the weather forecast went to their Binbrook Station CO and asked why the raid  was being proceeded with, given the foreacst.  I also read that Bomber Harris had been told that his strategy of mass bombing cities had to end by 31 March- the order came from Churchill I think.  It was suggested in the book that 30th March was his last chance to proceed with his strategy and despite controversy throughout the 30th March at the HQ about the weather forecast  he persisted...
Any comments on this in your books etc?

charlotte

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Offline kyt

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Re: Air Force Lookups - if you need help
« Reply #11 on: Friday 13 June 08 09:02 BST (UK) »
Hello Charlotte

The weather reports may well have been mentioned by crews during their briefings. They would have probably have been "re-assured" with the fact that the Pathfinders were guiding them in.

March 31st, 1944 may well have been the date specified to Harris. Harris fought tooth and nail during the first months of 1944 for the Bomber Command Campaign to continue because he still believed that the Germans could be defeated by the destruction of their industries.

However, the planning for D-Day was well in hand, and part of that involved using BC to bomb railways, roads, emplacements etc across the whole of the French coast well before the invasion. This required BC squadrons to be put under Eisenhower's control. Harris resisted this until directly ordered by Churchill. The squadrons were only returned to Harris's full control about a month or so after D-Day.

K

EDIT: I've just rewritten this as I got the year completely wrong. I started writing about 1943, not 1944 - oops

Offline charlotteCH

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Re: Air Force Lookups - if you need help
« Reply #12 on: Saturday 14 June 08 07:31 BST (UK) »
K, Didn't know that about Eisenhower's control.  I'm sure I read that about the disagreement  amongst the highups over the weather report and that Harris had been told 31st of March was when his chosen strategy had to end and so on.  Long time ago now. 
There is a book by Martin Middlebrook on the Nuremberg raid and maybe the incident of the three pilots at Binbrook was mentioned there.
Thanks for you help and anything else that comes your way about 460th Squadron would be of interest.

Thanks again,
charlotte

Offline kyt

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Re: Air Force Lookups - if you need help
« Reply #13 on: Saturday 14 June 08 13:08 BST (UK) »
Hi Charlotte

There appears to be a discrepancy between his personnel file and the squadron records because he is shown as having been posted to the squadron on 15 March, along with Spargo.

I've had a chance to go through the Squadron ORB and these are the details of your brother's missions:

Mission 1 (page 114) – Stuttgurt 15/3/1944.  Flew as second pilot in the crew of  P/O R A N Douglass in JB558 Took off 19.14. Landed 00.26

Mission 2 (page 124) – Frankfurt 22/3/1944. Flew as Pilot ND364. The crew was the same as his final mission except the Mid Upper Gunner was a Sgt T F J  Waller. Interestingly the pilot’s comments on returning are recorded in the ORB. He stated “Should be a good prang, good route” (not sure what he meant as a “prang” was a crash) Took off 19.04. Landed 01.06

Mission 3 (page 130) – Berlin 24/3/1944. Pilot of  ND364. Waller is still MU Gunner. Took off 18.57 Landed 03.08. Pilot’s comments – “Coned* for 15 minutes in south (can’t make out name) area, and subjected to intense predicted accurate high flak. About two minutes after attacked by 3 fighters over 16 mins. Owe our lives to fishpond**”

*by searchlights
** fishpond was airborne radar to help in detecting enemy fighters

Mission 4 – (page 140) Essen 26/3/1944 Pilot of ND656. Took off  20.05 Landed 01.24. Pilot stated “Quiet trip, concentrated bombing and attack should be good in spite of cloud handicap”

Mission 5 - (page 148) Nuremberg Pilot of Lancaster ND738. Leggett has replaced Waller for some reason not mentioned. Details as posted in earlier post.

The page numbers refer to the ORB, which can be accessed at:

http://naa12.naa.gov.au/scripts/imagine.asp?B=1359212&I=1&SE=1

HTH

K

Offline charlotteCH

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Re: Air Force Lookups - if you need help
« Reply #14 on: Sunday 15 June 08 07:42 BST (UK) »
K,
Thanks so much for all that and your very generous use of your time.  I can explain the Waller bit.  Tom Waller was in the crew usually but on the night of the Nuremberg raid he was ill and was replaced by Leggat I think it was.
Tom Waller survived the war and my parents came to know him well on visits to England. In memory of my brother Haley, Tom  called his first daughter after me.  Haley had apparently chatted on quite a bit about his kid sister.  Tom's daughter told me when staying with us that her father never really got over the fact the whole crew were lost while he survived etc.

In one of my brother's letter abt a raid there was something about getting caught in search light crossbeams for about 20 mins.. also on another raid his plane was damaged and he only just managed to get it back to England and had to land at an  airbase closer to the route he took than 460th's Binbrook.

I'll print all this off and send it to our still living brother who spent 6 yrs in the AIF in  the middle east and PNG. So I grew up in the midst  of all this- with a good brave father who survived Gallipoli and France & who then worked tirelessly for RSL and those returned soldiers who needed help.

What you have sent me is just great and thanks again.
charlotte

Offline David Layne

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Re: Air Force Lookups - if you need help
« Reply #15 on: Wednesday 02 July 08 20:53 BST (UK) »
I'm bumping this up again in the hope that the moderators will make it a sticky.  Kyt is very knowledgeable and willingly shares his expertise.

Offline whpool

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Re: Air Force Lookups - if you need help
« Reply #16 on: Thursday 03 July 08 06:36 BST (UK) »
Hello Kyt,

I'm sorry my query is no where near as exciting as the previous requests.  I'm just after a bit of help.

All I know is that my dad enlisted in the RAF [not called up], but have no idea of his squadron/station - other than Appledore, Kent seems to come to mind.  He never went overseas, but my brother seems to think that dad was involved in security for some special mission to do with radar? up in Scotland.  Now that both mam and dad have gone, I don't know where to start with finding his records.
I'm pretty sure he was a leading aircraftsman. 

Any advice on where I should start would be most welcome.

Thank you.
Maureen
Atkinson/Campbell - Sunderland area
Davison - Hartlepool [old side]
Ward - Ireland, Whitby, West Hartlepool
Ross - Bishop Auckland
Rogers - Stirling, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall
Hocking - Cornwall
Pattison - Scotland, north England, [travellers]
Welsh - Ireland, Co Durham [travellers]

Offline kyt

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Re: Air Force Lookups - if you need help
« Reply #17 on: Thursday 03 July 08 08:29 BST (UK) »
I'm sorry my query is no where near as exciting as the previous requests.  I'm just after a bit of help.

Hi Maureen

All RAF queries are exciting to me :)

Quote
All I know is that my dad enlisted in the RAF [not called up], but have no idea of his squadron/station - other than Appledore, Kent seems to come to mind. 

Appledore was a radar base with CGI* and VEB** apparatus

* Ground-controlled interception - a chain of radar stations would be linked to a base and GCI station would help guide fighters to intercept oncoming enemy aircraft

** Variable Elevation Beam - this was special equipment that helped to accurately plot the height of enemy aircraft. Not all stations had them

Quote
He never went overseas, but my brother seems to think that dad was involved in security for some special mission to do with radar? up in Scotland. 

There were a number of radar installations up in Scotland, and a number of experimental bases (as Scotland was safer from enemy attack). I'm afraid special mission could be one of many things, and without a location of where he was actually based it is difficult to say more.

Your father may have been the guard detail as all radar stations were heavily guarded, both from possble enemy action and more curious locals.

Quote
Now that both mam and dad have gone, I don't know where to start with finding his records.
I'm pretty sure he was a leading aircraftsman. 

Any advice on where I should start would be most welcome.

His records can be obtained by following the instructions on the link below. They are pretty straightforward (include as much info as possible but they will understand if you haven't got a service number etc) but can be quite a wait for a reply. When requesting his records make sure to ask for photocopies of the originals - otherwise you end up with a typed summary which is next to useless.

http://www.veterans-uk.info/service_records/raf.html
Quote

When you get the records get back to us if you need help with deciphering the information.

HTH

K