MEMORABILIA SIGNING AND VETERANS DAY AT LINCOLNSHIRE AVIATION HERITAGE CENTRE EAST KIRKBY 29TH AUGUST 2005.
The format for the day will be one of the veterans 'manning' pre-arranged table to allow for easy access by members of the public for signing items.
I will as far as possible try to ensure that all Battle of Britain and Bomber Command aircrew are allocated on separate tables for those 'purists' amongst us.
The charge for signing each item will be £15.00 and every effort is being made to ensure that there are at least 7-9 Royal Air Force Veterans present on each table. Again every effort will be made to try and ensure that at least 7 of our veterans are signing at any one time on each table.
The times for signing are likely to be 10.00am to 12.00noon and 2.00pm to 4.00pm. I do however reserve the right to be flexible with these timings but those quoted will not be far out on the day.
It is likely that there will be significant queues for the signing and all I ask is that everyone is as patient as possible to avoid putting the veterans under unnecessary pressure.
If any of the veterans do not feel well or wish to have a rest from signing I will reserve the right to give him 'timeout'
Please continue to look at this site as more information will be posted on the aircrew who are coming along to sign.
Details of some of the visiting veterans:-
JOHN KNIGHT DOWN
THOMAS CLIFFORD IVESON Our apologies, Mr Iveson will not now be attending
WING COMMANDER KENNETH WILLIAM MACKENZIE
KENNETH NORMAN THOMPSON LEE DFC
THE EXLEY CREW
TONY GARFORTH PICKERING
On the day you will be able to purchase pre-signed copies of the following Maurice Gardner and Roger Holgate prints:-
'Life Goes On' by Maurice Gardner
Depicting a 311 Czechoslovakian Wellington Bomber, it is signed and priced as
Sir Bernard Lovell, pioneer of Radar development
Flt Lt Bill Reid VC
Wing Co Ken Wallis MBE.
Major General Ivan Schwartz 311sq
Karel Schuck 311sq
Otto Cerny 311sq
Adolph 'Zeke'Zeleny 311sq
51-100 without Sir Bernard Lovell £70.00
101-350 without Sir Bernard and Bill Reid VC £60.00
Print size overall 67cm x 49.5cm image size 61.5cm x 39cm
P+P UK £7.00
'Tallboy Away' by Maurice Gardner
This print depicts the Lancaster of Bill Reid VC of 617 Squadron.
Nos 1-60 are available at £60 signed by
Bob Knights DSO DFC
James Tait DSO**DFC*
Bill Gordon DFC*
Sir Bernard Lovell OBE
Dame Vera Lynn DBE LL.D M.MUS
Nos 61-100 are available at £50.00 signed by
Bob Knights DSO DFC
James Tait DSO**DFC*
Bill Gordon DFC*
Dame Vera Lynn DBE LL.D M.MUS
Nos 101-350 are available at £40.00 signed by
Bob Knights DSO DFC
Bill Gordon DFC*
Print size overall 67cm x 49.5cm image size 61.5cm x 39cm
P+P UK £7.00
JOHN KNIGHT DOWN
John Down joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve on 5th July 1939 as an airman ready for Pilot training at 39 E and RFTS at Weston-Super-mare. He was later officially called up on 1st September and was transferred to 5 ITW at Hastings on 29th November.
Following this he was posted to 1EFTS at Perth on 29th April 1940 and on 15th June he proceeded to 15FTS at Brize Norton. He was on the move again on 21st September when he was posted to 7OTU for conversion onto Spitfires followed by his posting to 64 Squadron at Leconfield on 6th October.
On 13th October he moved to 616 Squadron at Kirton Lindsay. Whilst with 616Sq he flew two operational sorties in October 1940 and he was then posted to 611 Squadron on 13th December and then to 91 Squadron at Hawkinge on 20th February 1941.
John Down damaged two enemy aircraft with 91 Squadron before being posted to 52 OUT at Ashton Down on 15th November 1941. During this posting in January 1942 he was sent on an Instructors course at Upavon and upon completion of this he became an instructor at 52 OUT until he rejoined 91 Squadron in August 1942.
He remained in the Royal Air Force until 1945 being commissioned as a Warrant Officer in September 1942. His last postings included 1696 Flight at Bourne in 1943, Kenley in May1944 and later at Northolt. He also served with the Indian Air Force at Karachi in February 1945 before returning to the UK and being demobbed in November 1945 as a Flight Lieutenant.
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FLIGHT LIEUTENANT THOMAS CLIFFORD IVESON
Born on September 11 1919, Tony Iveson joined the RAFVR about September about September 1938 as an Airman u/t pilot. Called up on September 1 1939, he completed his training at 5FTS, Sealand, converted to Spitfires at 7OTU, Hawarden and joined 616 Sqaudron at Kenley on September 2 1940.
Tony ditched in the North Sea 20 miles off Cromer on the 16th after running out of fuel pursuing a JU88 in Spitfire L 1036. he was picked up by an MTB and landed at Yarmouth. He was posted to 92 Squadron on October 11 1940
Commissioned in May 1942, Tony did his second operational tour with Bomber Command. He joined 617 Sqaudron 22nd July 1944 and was one the crew who carried out the three operations agiant the German Battleship Tirpitz. He participated in the successful raid which resulted in her sinking in Tromso Fjord on November 12 1944.
His operational raids with 617 Sqaudron were impressive and included the following.
5-8-44 Submarine pens-Brest 12,000LB Tallboy
6-8-44 Submarine pens-Keroman 12,000LB Tallboy
7-8-44 Submarine pens-Lorient-Sqaudron scrubbed the operation
8-8-44 Submarine pens-La pallice-12,000LB Tallboy
24-8-44 E-boat pens -Ijmuiden-12,000LB Tallboy
27-8-44 Shipping-Brest- 12 x 1000LB
11-9-44 Tirpitz-Alten Fiord 12,000LB Tallboy plus Johnny Walker Mines
23-9-44 Aqueduct, Dortmund Ems Canal-12,000LB Tallboy
3-10-44 Westkapelle Sea Wall- Squadron abandoned sortie
7-10-44 Rhine Barrage, North of Basle-12,000LB Tallboy
28-10-44 Tirpitz-12,000LB Tallboy
12-11-44 Tirpitz-12,000LB Tallboy
8-12-44 Urft Dam-12,000LB Tallboy
11-12-44 Urft dam - 12,000LB Tallboy
15-12-44 Submarine pens- Ijmuiden-12,000LB Tallboy
21-12-44 Politz-12,000LB Tallboy
12-1-45 Submarine pens-Bergen-12,000LB Tallboy
Tony was posted from 617 Squadron on 16th February 1945
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WING COMMANDER KENNETH WILLIAM MACKENZIE
In 1935 Ken learnt how to fly at the North of Ireland Aero Club in Newtownards.
In 1939 he joined the RAFVR as an Airman
Flying training at 24E and RFTS at Sydenham
Called up at the outbreak of war and posted to 3ITW at Hastings on 28th December 1939
Posted to 5EFTS, Hanworth 25th February 1940
Posted to 3 FTS, South Cerney 25th May 1940
Upon completion of his training Ken was posted to 6 OTU at Sutton Bridge on 30th August 1940 where he converted to Hurricanes.
Posted to 43 Squadron at Unsworth on 21st September 1940.
Having completed 16 training flights and two operational patrols, Ken was posted to 501 Squadron at Kenly on the 29th September.
Shared in the destruction of a JU 88 on 4th October 1940
Claimed a BF 109 destroyed on the 5th October 1940
Second shared claim on the 7th October 1940. The 109 shot down on the 7th was in fact attacked by Ken and did not seem to be damaged. Ken followed it down to sea level and upon realising that it was not damaged sufficiently to make it ditch, he deliberately struck the 109 on its tailplane with his Hurricane wing and the enemy aircraft duly crashed into the sea. Ken Mackenzie made a forced landing just outside Folkstone in his Hurricane V 6799. He incurred only slight facial injuries for his daring and audacious method of bring about the demise of his foe.
25th October 1940 claimed a BF 109 destroyed with another shared and another damaged. Later that day whilst out on a further patrol, Ken collided with Pilot Officer V Goth of 501 as he readied his section to take on a formation of BF 109's.
Ken Mackenzie was awarded the DFC on 25th October 1940
27th October, claimed BF 109 destroyed
29th October, Claimed BF 109 destroyed
30th October Claimed BF 109 destroyed and another damaged
8th November 1940 claimed BF 109 destroyed
12th November 1940 claimed a JU 88 shared
15th November 1940 claimed a BF 109 destroyed and another damaged
Posted to 247 Squadron at Predannack on 19th June 1941 as Flight Commander
7th July 1941 claimed a JU 88 in a night attack
29th September claimed a HE 111 in a night attack planned to target Lannion airfield in Brittany. Ken was engaged by heavy flak from ground defences and completed this sortie by ditching in the sea.
Paddled to shore in his dinghy and was subsequently captured
Posted to various camps before ending up in Stalag Luft 111, Sagan.
Repatriated to the UK in October 1944.
Posted to 53 OUT, Kirton-In-Lindsey on 19th December 1945 as an instructor.
17th June 1945, posted to 61 OTU, Keevil, as a Flight Commander.
1st January 1953, Ken was awarded the Air Force Cross.
Retired from the RAF on 1st July 1967 with the rank of Wing Commander
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DAVE MOORE 617 SQUADRON-V-FORCE
Dave Moore joined the RAF on 30th April, 1952 as an Aircraft apprentice at RAF Cranwell and then moved to RAF Locking. He passed out as a Junior Technician in March 1955 and was duly posted to RAF Scampton and then to RASF Waddington in June 1955. He served on 21 Squadron (Canberra MK11) and was promoted to Corporal in September 1955 following which he served on 27 Squadron until it was disbanded after the Suez crisis in November 1956.
He then served on 230 OCU (Vulcan Mk1) to December 1957 and was posted to RAF Akrotiri Cyprus and served on 249 Squadron (Canberra Mk110 as a Corporal Technician. Dave was promoted to Sergeant in September 1958, and served on 32 Squadron (Canberra Mk11) until he returned to the UK early to await aircrew training in February 1959. He was commissioned on 12th December.
He was awarded his Navigators Brevet on 16th March 1961.
After operational conversion at RAF Bassingbourne he was posted to RAF Akrotiri on 73 Squadron (Canberra Mk11 and later MkXV) where he served from March 1962-September 1964 in th4 rank of Flying Officer. He then undertook NBS training at RAF Lindholme from October 1964-January 1965.
He flew Vulcan Mk 11's at OCU RAF Finningly June 1965-September 1965 and was posted to Don Exley's crew on 617Sqaudron (Vulcan Mk 11), Blue Steel, until October 1968 where he served in the rank of Flight Lieutenant.
He was posted to RAF Cottesmore in January 1969, where he served 35 Squadron (Vulcan Mk11). The Squadron then moved to RAF Akrotiri where he served until September 1971 as the Bombing Leader.
Dave was then posted to RAF Scampton on the Vulcan OCU as the Deputy Senior Radar Instructor until March 1974.
This was followed by a posting to RAF Swinderby, The School of Recruit Training as a Flight Commander and Deputy Squadron Commander until December 1977.
He was posted to RAF Lossiemouth 8 Squadron as an Airborne Fighter Controller until 1979.
After a further Vulcan Mk11 OCU course at RAF Scampton, Dave was posted to RAF Waddington 9 Squadron until it disbanded in April 1982.
He was then the War Operations Officer for the Falklands War then posted to 50 Squadron as Deputy Radar Leader in the Tanker role until the squadron disbanded in April 1984.
Following this Dave flew with the Vulcan display team until 23rd March 1993.
From May 1984 until January 1986, he was the Station Intelligence Officer and was duly promoted to Squadron leader and served as 11 Group Intelligence Officer at RAF Bentley Priory until June 1986.
He then served at the Aircrew Nuclear Examiner Lodge at RAFASUPU Wittering until 1979.
Following this he was posted to the RAF AEW Wing at RAF Waddington as the Senior Air Plans Officer. He retired in January 1995 and was awarded the MBE in the Queen's Birthday list in 1995.
When Dave Moore retired, he ended what was arguably the RAF's longest serving association by one officer with the V-Force. Having worked as a Technician on the very first Vulcan's through tom flying with the display team, he had a 37 year partnership with the Vulcan.
A total of 4 live Blue Steel missiles where fired during their service life. Only one of these was dropped by a 617 Squadron crew under the command of Captain Don Exley. Dave Moore was part of that team and he is surely an important of RAF history.
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SQUADRON LEADER KENNETH NORMAN THOMPSON LEE DFC
Ken Lee joined the RAF in January 1939 after being released by his employer with the original intention of serving for 6 months. He joined 111 Squadron at Northolt and in late March he was commissioned and went to 43 Squadron at Tangmere. Lee did return to his job and on September 4 1939, he joined 501 Squadron at Filton.
The Squadron flew to France on May 10 1940 and on this day Lee claimed a Bf 110 destroyed. On the 12th he destroyed a Do 17 and on the 13th a Bf 110. The Squadron was withdrawn from France on June 18 and re-assembled at Croyden on the 21st.
Lee claimed a He111 destroyed on May 27 and a Do17 on June 6. Four days later, attacking a number of He 111s, his hurricane was probably hit by return fire and exploded. He took to his parachute and landed at Le Mans. In the scramble to be evacuated, Lee's right hand was injured and he did not fly for several weeks.
Lee damaged a Ju 87 on July 29 and claimed another destroyed on August 12. He was shot down on the 18th by Oberleutnant Schopfel of JG 26 over Canterbury, in Hurricane P3059. Lee baled out, with a bullet wound in the leg and landed in a cornfield near Whitstable and was taken to the local golf club to wait for an ambulance.
He rejoined the squadron in October and as awarded the DFC (22.10.40.). On November 29 Lee was posted to the Special duties flight at Stormy down and later went to 52 OUT, Crosby-On-Eden, as a Flight Commander.
In December 1941 Lee was posted to the Middle East and served with 112 Squadron in the Western desert, as a Flight Commander. He moved to 260 Squadron on September 18 1942 and destroyed a Mc 202 on November 10. He took control of 123 squadron at Abadan, Persia in March 1943. The Squadron went to the Western Desert in May and on July 27 1943 Lee was shot down and captured on a dawn raid on Crete. He was held in Stalag Luft 111 at Sagan and Belaria. Ken Lee left the RAF in late 1945 as a squadron Leader.
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WING COMMANDER THOMAS FRANCIS NEIL
Born on 14 July 1920 in Bootle, Lancashire, Tom Neil (also to become known in the RAF as ' Ginger'), joined the RAFVR in Oct 1938 and began his flying training at 17 E and RFTS, Barton Manchester. He was called up on the 2 Sept 1939 being sent to 4 ITW, Bexhill in early November.
On 1st December 1939, he was posted to 8 FTS and on completion of the course he was commissioned and posted to 249 Squadron in May 1940.
He saw his first action in July, but it was during the latter stages of the Battle of Britain that he claimed 5 and 2 shared victories during three weeks in September and he was credited with these, plus 2 more!
Flying from North Weald on 7th September 1940 Tom Neil encountered and claimed a BF 109 destroyed. On the 11th a HE 111, on the 15th two BF 109s and a DO 17 destroyed and another DO 17 shared, on the 18th a HE 111 damaged and on the 27th a BF 110 and a JU 88 destroyed, a BF 110 probably destroyed and a JU 88 shared. On 6th October Tom Neil shared a DO 17, on the 25th claimeda BF 109 destroyed, on the 27th a DO 17 probably destroyed, on the 28th a JU 88 shared and on 7th November a JU 87 and two BF 109s destroyed.
He was awarded a DFC on 8 Oct, but on 7 Nov, after claiming 3 victories over the North Sea off the Essex coast, a hurricane flown by W/Cdr Victor Beamish collided with his aircraft (V7676), cutting off the tail, which obliged him to bail out.
He received a Bar to his DFC on 26 Nov, and on 13 Dec was promoted flight Commander. The squadron was posted to Malta in May 1941, flying off HMS Ark Royal on the 21st. During a summer of frequent scrambles, he claimed one further victory in June, while on 7 Oct he led a fighter-bomber attack on Gela station, Sicily. He departed the island in Dec 1941, returning to the UK via the Middle East, South and West Africa, and Canada, finally arriving in March 1942, when he became tactics officer with 81 Group. A spell as an instructor at 56 OTU, before being posted as a flying liaison officer with the 100th Fighter Wing of the US 9th Air Force in Jan 1944. He managed to get some flying in over France with this unity, claiming a share in 6 aircraft destroyed on the ground before D-Day, and a dozen or so more later, plus a number of other ground targets. In January 1945 he was sent to the school of Land/Air Warfare as an instructor. In March 1945 he was posted out to Burma, where he undertook some operations with 1 Wing, Indian Air Force, to gain experience of the operations in this area. Returning to the UK in April, he resumed instructing at the school until the end of the year. In Jan 1946 he attended the Empire Test Pilots' School, undertaking No.4 short course and No.5 course, a total of 18 months. Posted briefly to Farnborough, he sought a move to Boscombe Down, where he stayed for some 3 years. In 1948 in went to Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio, to take part in the first high altitude pressure suit experiments, as a precursor to the aerospace programme. 1950-51 he was a staff officer at HQ, Fighter Command, while in 1952 he attended the staff college at Bracknell. He was then given command of the 208 Squadron in Egypt, which he led until 1956, leaving just before the Suez operation. He returned to the UK to become W/Cdr Operations, Metropolitan sector, until 1958, when he attended the flying college at Manby. He went to the British Embassy in Washington for 3 years from 1959, returning to the Ministry of Defence but retiring from the service as a Wing Commander in 1964. Meanwhile he had added the US Bronze Star to his decorations in august 1947, and an AFC in January 1956. On leaving the RAF he returned to the US to lead a British consultancy company in Boston, Mass. He returned to the UK in 1967, settling in Norfolk where he became a director in the Shoe Industry and secretary of the local Chamber of Commerce. He retired in the early 1980s and remains living in Norfolk. He has written numerous articles and 3 books, including Spitfire- from the Cockpit, Gun Button to Fire (William Kimber, 1987) and Onwards to Malta (Airlife, 1992).
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Wing Commander K.H. Wallis, MBE Deng (hc) CEng FRAeS FSETP PhD (hc) RAF (Ret'd)
Kenneth Horatio Wallis was born at Ely, Cambridgeshire, in April 1916. He was educated at Kings School, Ely.
His interest in Engineering and aviation was aroused at a very early age. His father and uncle, as amateurs, had built and successfully raced their own motor cycles and by May 1910 had completed an aeroplane, the " Wallbro Monoplane". This was very advanced for its time, with a steel tube primary structure and roll control by ailerons rather than the wing warping of the day.
Upon leaving school Kenneth Wallis entered his father's motorcycle and cycle business. In his spare time he built a number of high speed boats, some employing air propellers. His first speedboat racing success was in 1934 at Denver Sluice, Norfolk and his last was the 56 mile 'Missouri Marathon in the U.S.A., 1957.
In 1937 he obtained his Pilot's "A" license and he joined the Civil Air Guard at its inauguration in 1938. He was enlisted in the R.A.F., Volunteer Reserve at the outbreak of World War 2 (though he had been turned down on grounds of a defective right eye, in 1936 and 1938! He had studied the eyesight test to 'beat the system')
He served as an operational pilot on "Lysanders" with 268 and 241 Squadron Army Cooperation, prior to transferring to 103 Squadron Bomber Command in 1941, flying "Wellingtons over Germany". Exciting moments in 1941 were a very low level parachute descent, at night and in thick fog, after a raid on Frankfurt in which the target could not be identified due to bad weather and the bombs had to be brought back to the Dutch Coast, where they were dropped on the secondary target, the invasion barge concentration. Much fuel had been used as a result.
A month later, in October, a successful crash-landing was made at night, after the port wing had been nearly cut through by a barrage balloon cable. The Wellington had been struck by lightening and the radio destroyed and had nearly ditched due to engine icing. In January 1942 his "Wellington" was on fire over Emden, after a reconnaissance flare had ignited in the bomb bay, the magnesium flare setting fire to the incendiary bomb load. His bomber "tour" ended on the 26th April after his second successful raid on Rostock.
On the 29th April he married Section Officer Peggy Stapley, a WAAF Officer he had met at the Bomber Station, Elsham Wolds. He was then posted to 21 Operational training unit, where he was to fly special missions prior to the first Thousand Bomber raid, then to command the Aerial Gunnery Training Flight.
In 1944 he flew a "Wellington X" to Italy for further bombing operations with 37 Squadron, then based at Tortorella, near Foggia. Returning to the UK, later in 1944 he served as a Flight Commander, Central Gunnery School, prior to specialising in Air Armament and taking up a Permanent Commission in the newly formed Technical Branch of the R.A.F. He knew that, his defective eyesight having been discovered late in 1942, after night vision tests when he had applied to operate the then new "Mosquito" night fighters, he would not be able to continue in the General Duties Branch once the war was over.
His Technical posts have mostly been in Research and Development, in the Armament Design Establishment, Ammunition and Lethality Divisions of the Ordnance Board and Air Ministry. In 1956-58 he held a Technical/Flying post in Strategic Air Command, U.S.A.F, flying the 10 engined B-36's armed with an "A" Bomb, to Europe and the Far East. He had remained in flying practice post-war and had qualified for a "Green" Instrument rating on jets while at Air Ministry, and whilst in this posting he had experienced the last forced landing by an aircraft flying from Hendon. The engine of a "Chipmunk" with which he was going to view a new bombing target cut at about 300ft after take-off. A successful landing was made by side slipping over high tension cables, missing trees and coming to rest without damage, by a park bench occupied by mothers with their babies in prams.
For this "Instance of Avoidance by exceptional Flying Skill and judgement of Loss of or Damage to Aircraft and Personnel", under the instruction of the Chief of Air Staff (Training) a "Green Endorsement" was written into his Log-Book. He must have been able to see well enough to fly even with only one good eye!
That good eye also served well in target shooting! He had shot for Cambridgeshire in the thirties and was Captain of the Ely City Rifle Club at its inauguration in 1039. He has represented the R.A.F, in the team at Bisley and had a number of competition successes.
As O.C. Armament on the first "Canberra" jet bomber station he was responsible for improvements to the "Canberra" armament. That and other inventions in armament have been recognised by the" Royal Commission on awards to Inventors".
In 1958 he was the "Weapons Officer" Headquarters Fighter Command and in 1961-64 commanded the Tactical weapons Group at the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment, Boscombe Down. He then retired at his own request, to devote his time to the untralight autogyro aircraft that he had designed first flown in 1961 after some preliminary experiments in 1959 and 1960.
Ken's hobbies have included making speedboats, sailing boats and the special cars derived from such as old Bentley or Rolls Royce chassis. This was hardly practical during WW2 so he made model ships and the first ever model racing cars that were steered by a slot in the track.
In 1947 he adapted one of the tiny 2-cylinder 2-stroke engines used to start the wartime jet engines to power a friends "Petrel" glider. The propeller was only 28" in span and the basic weight of the engine only some 600lbs. However, at the time such activities were not popular with the then rather "purist" gliding community. He would not experiment again in aviation until 1958, when he started on his first autogyro experiments.
When posted to the U.S, in 1956, he had taken with him, in the hold of the Cunard Liner, a "Special" car he had made on a Rolls Royce "Silver Ghost" chassis. Soon to be known as the "Wallis Ghost" in the U.S, it won many trophies at car shows and autorama there. (Also surprisingly, in 1954 at the 50th Anniversary of Rolls-Royce, celebrated in Kensington Gardens, it had been awarded the "Silver Ghost and the New Phantom" prize)
After the first experimental flights with a light autogyro in 1959, which proved the scale and principle, but showed a number of problems to be overcome, he "started with a clean sheet of paper" to design an aircraft to "Airworthiness" Standards, with possible Military and Civil working roles in view.
It was an immediate success and versions were on trail with the Army Air Corps in 1962/63. That was premature; the aircraft were then in open -frame form, not very popular with pilots flying in the intensely cold and prolonged 1962/63 winter.
The autogyro project ceased to be just a hobby upon retirement.
Research contracts, with such as the British Aircraft Corporation, Plessey Radar, the Ministry of Defence, etc, have been successfully undertaken.
The autogyros have also been used as camera aircraft for Television Documentaries and feature films. The little aircraft have also "starred" in such as "The Martian Chronicles" and of course as "Little Nellie" in the James Bond film, "You only live twice", shot in Japan and Spain, 1966. That same year the 1961 prototype featured in a "Spaghetti James Bond" film by Film studio Roma, shot in Brazil and Italy.
Military and Naval Trials and Exercises
Ken Wallis has participated successfully, flying his autogyros in such as Aerial Quick Deployment Exercise "Green Lanyard", in 1982, "Gryphons Gold" in Germany. After 25 take-offs and landings on a moving lorry, flights were made to and from small vessels at sea, that were too small to accommodate a helicopter.
The little autogyro performed particularly well in the day and night, all weather Post-Attack Airfield Damage Reconnaissance Exercise "Keswick" at R.A.F North Leffenham in 1987. Infra -red Linescan was carried, the imagery being transmitted to the ground in real time.
Ken has undertaken Panoramic photography of Central London and special work for the Saudi Arabian Ports Authority at Jeddah and Damman
In collaboration with Plessey Radar and the Police Scientific Development Branch, aerial searches and experiments in the detection of buried cadavers have been undertaken. The secret of Newhaven Downs for the missing Lord Lucan is an example.
Aerial cine photography has been undertaken for TV documentaries and TV personalities, such as Val Doonican and Matthew Kelly have been feature as passengers on Ken's little two-seater autogyros.
Flying Replica of the 1910 "Wallbro" Monoplane
In 1974, Ken and his cousin, Geoffrey, decided it was time to make a flying replica of their fathers "Wallbro". The spare time project was completed by Ken and flown successfully at RAF Swanton Morley in 1978.
Until 1968 the U.S.A. held all the official World Records for Autogyros, for Altitude, Speed and Range. All these records have been broken by Wallis autogyros, flown by their designer/constructor. In addition, a further eight world records were established by Wallis, including the first ever non-stop flight in a 1000km closed circuit
Awards in recognition of Ken's "Contribution to the Knowledge of Rotary Winged Flight and for the World Record Flights etc are
1963 The "Alan Marsh Medal" awarded by The Royal Aeronautical Society and The Helicopter Association of Great Britain
1969 The "Segrave" Trophy awarded by The Royal Automobile Club and the Royal Aeronautical Society
1973 The "Breguet" Trophy awarded by The Aero Club de France and the Royal Aero Club
1975 The Silver Medal awarded by The Royal Aero Club
1975 The "Rose" Trophy awarded by The Helicopter Club of Great Britain
1980 Honorary Fellowship awarded by Manchester University
1982 The "Reginald Mitchell" Medal awarded by Stoke-on-Trent Association of Engineers.
1984 The "Rose" Trophy awarded by The Helicopter Club of Great Britain
1985 The "SegraveTrophy" awarded by The Royal Automobile Club and the Royal Aeronautical Society
1989 The "Salomon Trophy" awarded by The Royal Aero Club
1995 The "Rotocraft Gold Medal" awarded by Federation Aeronautique Internationale
1996 Member, Order of the British Empire awarded by Her Majesty The Queen
1997 Honarary Doctorate of Engineering awarded by The University of Birmingham
1998 The "Sir Barnes Wallis" Medal awarded by The Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators
1998 Honorary Fellowship awarded by The Society of Experimental Test Pilots
1999 Special Award awarded by The Air League
2003 Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy awarded by Hofstra University, New York
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THE EXLEY CREW
The 'Exley Crew' were:-
Captain Don Exley
Co-pilot Ed Carter
Nav Plotter Flying Officer Dickie Woodacre
Nav Radar Flying Officer Dave Moore
AEO Flying Officer Ray Newman
The story as relayed by Captain Don Exley.
In March 1965 as individuals we were posted to RAF Luffenham to be tested for pressure Oxygen breathing at 48,000 ft for 30 seconds using their high altitude decompression chamber. During this stay, the various trades were to get to know each other-Navs to pair off and the pilots and AEOs to 'crew up'
We all went our different ways from this meeting to attend other courses, such as Canberra short course, bombing and nuclear and sea survival before ending up at RAF Finningley 230 OCU in May to start the Vulcan Mk11 Conversation course. We passed out 2nd September 1965 being posted to RAF Scampton on 617 squadron and our first Squadron flight was on 25 November 1965. We were now flying Aircraft modified to take the 'Blue Steel' missile. This was an 'H' Nuclear bomb loaded onto a rocket capable of its one free flight to the target. It had to be updated from the Vulcan systems and the target was given just before its release. This weapon needed much practiced routines from all the crew but particularly the 2 Navigators and the Captain. During our first year, we progressed through 'COMBAT', 'SELECT' 'and 'SELECT STAR', the 3 ratings of skill - only a few crews made it to 'SELECT STAR''
Because of this skill we were entered as one of the squadron's crew in the Bomber Command Navigation and Bombing Competition March 1967 which we won (This turned out to be the last Vulcan competition as the nuclear deterrent was transferred to the Navy in 1968).
During 1967 the government asked the RAF if the 'bomb' was still up to its standard as one had not been fired off in practice for several years. We were one of two crews selected to test the operational reliability of the system which we did with 4 practices and a final launch into the Bay of Cardigan, Aberproth range in Wales 7th July 1967. The bombing error was 513 yards, well within the target error minimum.
Early in 1968 the Co-Pilot Ed Carter, left the RAF so we had a new pilot F/O Rolfe. We flew our last mission as a crew on 19th August 1968 when Dick left the RAF and Dave and Ray were posted to other Squadrons
When flying together operationally, the Captain and the two Navigators must fly together and if not the crew become non-combat ready. This meant that the three had to have a close relationship and to get on together. In our case we developed a very close bond with all 5 members, never falling out and always enjoying each others company.
FLIGHT LIEUTENANT DONALD EXLEY 1ST PILOT AND CAPTAIN.
During my tour on 617 Squadron, September 1965 - October 1969, I became the Squadron I.R.E. (Instrument Rating Examiner) in 1968 and later in the year became the Squadron Checking Officer. In both positions this was to ensure that pilots were keeping up to the standard required. I also became one of the first checking pilots to teach very low level contour flying using new instrument equipment. This was called T.F.R. Terrain Following Radar, much updated but now used in the Tornado Aircraft.
As a crew the 'Exley' team were always rated above average and on his last RAF assessment, Don Exley was rated Exceptional when he left the squadron in August 1969.
In 2002, I had the great privilege to be able to invite Don Exley, Dave Moore, Ray Newman and Ed Carter to a 60th anniversary of Bomber Command Commemoration. The bond they had as a Vulcan team clearly still existed at that time and I know they have all kept in close contact being regular supporters of the 617sq reunions. They have a passion for all things RAF and still enjoy each others company.
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Tony Pickering's service is as follows:-
SQUADRON LEADER TONY GARFORTH PICKERING
Joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in April 1939 at Coventry for Pilot training.
Began training at 9 E and RFTS at Ansty.
Officially called up on 1st September.
Tony left Coventry on the 15th September for 3ITW, Hastings.
Posted to 15EFTS, Redhill on 23rd November.
Posted to 5FTS, Sealand on 27th April 1940.
Posted to 32 Squadron at Biggin Hill on 27th July 1940.
Posted to 6 OUT on 3rd August, on attachment.
Following conversion to Hurricanes, rejoined 32 Sq on 25th August 1940.
Posted to 501 Squadron at Gravesend on 28th August 1940.
11th September 1940, Tony engaged with BF 109's over Caterham and was shot down in his Hurricane P 5200. He baled out and landed safely.
29th October, Tony claimed a BF 109 destroyed.
Posted to 601 Squadron at Northolt on 20th December.
14th February 1941 posted to 57 OTU at Hawarden for training as a test pilot at the MU.
Commissioned in December 1942.
20th December 1941 officially appointed as an instructor at 57 OTU.
Returned to operations on 19th February 1943 and joined 131 squadron at Castletown as a Flight Commander. Stayed with the squadron until 7th January 1944.
January 1944 - February 1945 Tony had a number of posts in the Exeter section including Controller and Gunnery Officer.
11th February posted to Middle East as Squadron Commander at the BGS, El Ballah.
Returned to UK in December 1945 and was released from the RAF as a Squadron Leader.
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ALBERT EDWARD GREGORY
Albert Gregory was born in Derby on 9th May 1917
He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in April 1939 as an Airman u/t Wop/AG
Called up on 1st September and posted to Aldegrove in October to commence Air Gunnery training.
In December 1939, Albert joined 141 Squadron at Grangemouth to operate on Blenhiems.
In April 1940, 141 commenced conversion to Boulton Paul Defiants upon at which time it was noted that Albert was too tall to fly in the type due to the height restrictions of the turret
A posting to 219 squadron based at Catterick followed in May 1940
Throughout the Battle of Britain period Albert served with 219sq
September 1940 saw the introduction of Radar equipped Beaufighters and Albert Gregory retrained as a Radio Observer
In March 1941 his aircraft accounted for the destruction of a He111.
In May 1941, he went to no 2 Radio School at Yatesbury for a Wireless operators course and passed out from this in September 1941
In December 1941, Albert proceeded to 23 Squadron at Ford.
He flew from Tangmere in Boston 111's on Intruder patrols over France, Belgium and Holland. This allowed for the strafing and bombing of airfields, marshalling yards and other targets.
On 2nd April 1942 he damaged two Do 17's
In July 1942 Albert undertook a Gunnery Leaders course at Central Gunnery School, Sutton Bridge.
He was commissioned in August 1942
After completion of his course at CGS he rejoined 23 squadron
In March 1943 he was posted away to 275 (ASR) Squadron at Valley
In July 1942, Albert Gregory was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross
Albert later served with 278 (ASR) squadron and was released from the RAF in November 1945 with the rank of Flight Lieutenant
In July 1947 Albert Gregory rejoined the RAF
Carried out Radio refresher and jumper course training
In February 1948 he was posted to 52 Squadron at Changi, Singapore. The squadron was engaged in Army support supply dropping and troop carrying in the anti-terrorist campaign in Malaya.
In 1950 following his return to Britain, Albert became a signals instructor and retired from the RAF in May 1955
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William Terence Clark
Terry Clark was born in Croyden on 11th April 1919.
Joined 615 Squadron, Auxiliary Air force, Kenley, March 1938 as an Aircrafthand.
Flew as a Gunner in Hawker Hectors on Army Co-operation duties.
Joined 219 squadron at Catterick in July 1940
Terry was picked to train on Beaufighters with the airborne radar and duly qualified as a Radio Observer.
Awarded DFM on 8th July 1941 as a result of helping his pilot Flying Officer Hobbis to destroy three enemy aircraft at night.
July 1941 posted to 1455 flight forming at Tangmere with Turbinlite Havocs
May 1943 posted to 1451 flight at Hunsdon on the same duties locating enemy aircraft by Radar in the Havoc for accompanying fighters to attack and destroy.
Commissioned in May 1942 from warrant Officer.
Terry moved to 60 OUT in October 1942 as a Navigator/Radar Instructor.
May 1943 posted to 488 New Zealand Squadron at Ayr.
Took up his role as Navigator to 'A' Flight Commander Squadron Leader Hobbis who had been his original pilot from 219 Sq
December 20th 1943 whilst flying with Squadron Leader Robinson, they destroyed a ME410 over Sussex
In March 1944 at the end of his tour, Terry Clark DFM was posted to North Weald Sector Operations, where he trained as a controller.
He rejoined 488 Sq in August 1944
October 1944 saw him transfer to RAF Honiley Ground Approach School
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EDDIE WHEELER DFC
Eddie Wheeler was accepted into the RAF on a 6 year engagement and reported to RAF Uxbridge on 7th June 1939 with the intention of becoming a fully fledged Wireless Operator.
In February 1940 he was posted after being deemed to be a 'wireless Operator' to 11 Group Fighter Command at Duxford, Eddie was to operate as an R/T Cabin Operator in the Operations room directing pilots of no 19 Squadron against enemy activity.
In 20th April 1040 he was posted to no 4 bombing and Gunnery school at West Freugh near Stranraer in Scotland. On 17th May after training on the outdated Heyfords and Fairy Battles, Eddie received his 'Flying Bullet' badge that signified his having qualified as an Air Gunner.
On 19th May 1940 Eddie was posted to no 12 Operational training unit (OUT) at Benson in Oxfordshire and two weeks later was detached to Penrhos in North Wales for further Gunnery training in Fairy Battles.
At the beginning of July 1940, he joined 150 Squadron in no 1 Group Bomber Command and arrived at Newton in Nottinghamshire. At this time, troops and aircrew were pulling out of France. It was Eddie's good fortune to team up with Harry de Belleroche and Dil Thomas, pilot and Navigator who were to become fondly known as Rocky and Ginger. Eddie was the rooky crew member here but Rocky and Ginger took him under their wing.
On 25th July 1940 just three weeks after joining 150 Squdron, and having flown only 9 hours on crew familiarisation, Eddie's crew were instructed to report for their first mission. Three aircraft were assigned to attack Antwerp airfield and Eddie was in the thick of it. Their Fairy Battle was to carry 4 x 250lb General Purpose bombs and ensure that the effort was not wasted. This first mission went well and Eddie congratulated himself on one down 29 to go.
Four nights alter on 29th July Eddie crew were again briefed for their next operation to attack Waalaven and again took off with the normal complement of 4 x 250lb General Purpose Bombs. In his efforts of sheer concentration looking out for enemy activity, Eddie missed the recall signal and his aircraft carried on. It transpired that they were the only aircraft over enemy territory that night.
He flew his last Fairy Battle operation on 25th August 1940 after the powers that be raised the limitations of this aircraft.
At that time he joined 14 Squadron for conversion to Wellington 1.C's
On 17th September 1940 after a very short course and having never flown in a Wellington at night, they were assigned to bomb the barge concentrations at Ostend with a 2340 take off time. This was repeated on the evenings of 23 and 24th September against Calais and Le Havre with great success.
On September 27th, they ventured deep into Reich territory for the first time when they attacked the Railway Marshalling yards at Hamm. It was whilst coming back from this trip that Radio difficulty was experienced together with a shortage of fuel and they crashed near Barton Mills. Thankfully they all survived but Eddie was to be court marshalled for alleged miss-use of the Wireless equipment. He was quickly exonerated during the investigations for this case and his record was unblemished.
Raids on Rotterdam, Wilhelmshaven, Hamburg, Gelsenkirchen, Lorient followed in quick succession
Eddies 14th Operation was on 30th March 1941 against the German Battle cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau lying at dock in Brest. On return from this trip, they were about to land when a warning for a suspected intruder was sounded. The Wellington before them was attacked and this led to a deviation to Waddington where they landed safely
8th April saw a return to Rotterdam to attack oil storage tanks and 13th April was another bash at Brest with the two Battle Cruisers.
15th Aril was an attack on Kiel and 17th April was Mannheim. 3rd May saw a visit to Cologne and 5th May was again Mannheim, 7th May took them to St Nazaire to have ago at the U Boat base. They went to Bremen on the 8th May and Hamburg on the 10th May
Eddies 25th Mission was on 12th May 1941 operating against |Mannheimand on 15ht May they went to Hanover
After 2 weeks of bad weather gave Eddie's crew some respite from ops they were off again on 2nd June to Duisberg in the Ruhr. They went back there on the 16 and 17th June to complete their 27 op. On 24th June Cologne was the subject of their attention again and this was followed on the 3oth June with an operation against Dusseldorf in the Ruhr which was their 29th trip.
Attacks against Bremen, two against Cologne followed into the month of July 1941
On 21st July 1941 they went to Frankfurt, a raid on which they lost a propeller and still managed a one engined landing
24th July provided the explantion as to why they had been practicing formation flying. Six crew ere to take part in an attack in formation comprising of 150 aircraft later reduced to 100.Mechaincal problems forced them to turn back and they did not take part in the bombing of the Battle Cruiser. This had been their 35th Operation and still no news on them standing down having completed their first tour, came thorough.
Eddie was now just 21 and had completed 38 operations in arguably the most dangerous of all theatres of war.
Eddie now takes up the story
On 17th August we were warned that a special target was to be attacked that night, that we would not be allowed off camp during the day and no outside telephone calls would be allowed. At 10 am Johnny said we were off on a cross-country exercise to sharpen up out 'Y' training. Briefing for only three crews was at 1800 hours under a great veil of secrecy. Entering the Operations Room, we anxiously scoured the room for a hint of this 'special' target. The route map was obscured by a sheet until the C.O. arrived. When the unveiling revealed the target, we were none the wiser as it identified Peenemunde - which meant absolutely nothing to us - we had never heard of it! The Intelligence Officer rose to give his briefing and said that the target of the Baltic Coast was probably the most important target ever to be attacked. Whilst not revealing it was a site for the development and production of V1 flying bombs and V2 rockets, he said that advanced radar equipment was its main function. Three aiming points, including scientist and production worker billets had to be destroyed totally - if not tonight, then tomorrow night and the night after if necessary. We were told the Peenemunde could alter the whole course of the war and had to be destroyed regardless of losses. This did nothing to encourage us especially when we learnt that there would be no cloud and a full moon, and the attack would be from as low as 12,000 ft or lower. These conditions would be ideal for the German Night Fighters so the R.A.F. would adopt spoof tactics by sending a small number of Mosquitoes to Berlin, giving the impression that that was the night's target for the main force. Much publicity had been given to the fact that Berlin was high on the R.A. F. priority list and the Germans were very sensitive to attacks on their capital city. It was hoped that their fighters would be concentrated nearer to Berlin and that by the time it was established that Peenemunde was to be the main target; the first two waves of bombers would have completed their task and been on the way home. The third wave - provided by No 5 Group - could however expect to have a hot time. We took off at 2108 hours and climbed to 18,000 ft - our primary target was the scientist's quarters. The whole force would be directed by a Master Bomber - G/Capt. John Serby of 83 Squadron based at Wyton was selected for this task - and he was to fly over the target for the whole attack giving a commentary and shifting the attack as was necessary. Forty minutes would elapse from first to last aircraft on target. Some aircraft were fitted with 'OBOE' - ground controlled radar ' other PFF aircraft with H2S, but the conditions would allow for full visual attacks providing smoke did not obscure the aiming points. Form 08o E we started to throw out 'Window', We began to lose height as we approached Rugen Island and saw many aircraft around us in the almost daylight conditions. Fortunately none were hostile so hopefully the Mosquitoes who had preceded us by one hour had lured the night fighters to the Berlin area. We sighted the target clearly at 11,700 ft and already a smoke screen had been started by the enemy in the hope of thwarting the attacking force. Light flak started piping up form the target zone as we went in with our green T.I.'s and 7,500 lb bomb load. Peter reported direct hits on the living quarters and just then we suffered a direct hit from flak. Johnny shouted that we were going round in circles and could not fly straight and level. If the state of affairs could not be rectified we would have to consider bailing out - a prospect of either landing in the sea or amid a hail of bombs just wasn't on.
Bill beckoned me to follow him down the fuselage and with great trepidation I did so, regretting the fact that I was putting distance between me and my parachute. Bill indicated the trimming and aileron cables that had been severed by the impact. He busied himself with lengths of nylon cord and then Johnny said that he had recovered control of the aircraft. By now the target was a sea of flame and high explosions, and we were intent on returning form whence we came with all speed. The German defences were well alerted by now and fighters would be re-deployed from the Berlin area without delay. We felt sorry for the last wave of bombers entering the scene that would have to take the full brunt of attacks in ideal night-flying conditions. Several aircraft were seen going down in flames. Seven hours after take-off we had the welcoming sight of Bourn and we hoped that the target had been well and truly plastered and that it would not be necessary to return again the next night, when the Luftwaffe would be ready and waiting to wreak their revenge. Initial reports that morning indicated that the raid had been a complete success achieved through the element of surprise, the decoy raid on Berlin and the sheer audacity of operating under a full moon and clear skies. Out of the total of 606 aircraft assigned, 40 four-engined bombers and one Mosquito were lost (6.7%) and 32 suffered damage. In the daylight reconnaissance 12 hours after the attack, photographs revealed 27 buildings in the northern manufacturing area destroyed and 40 huts in the living and sleeping quarters completely flattened. The foreign labour camp to the south suffered worst of all. The whole target area was covered in craters. It was inconceivable that the site could ever operate again and at least we had gained valuable time against V1 and V2 attacks on London and our impending second front assault forces. This raid probably gave us our most satisfaction against all other targets attacked.
Ginger had been excused this operation, having better things to do as he was on his honeymoon. The morning after the raid, other guests in the hotel asked him where Peenemunde was and he became an embarrassed Path-finder when he was unable to tell them.
We were all now displaying our Pathfinder Force badges with pride, having completed our tests the necessary experience. I recalled my first test by the then G/Capt. Donald Bennett himself. He personally tested me with Morse transmissions and receiving, questioned me on various aspects of gunnery, then beckoned me t a wall chart of stars. He pointed to a particular star and asked me to identify it. In my hesitation to work my way round from the North Star, hi shifted irritably and then said: "You're no good to me if you don't know your stars. Come back again when you have the right knowledge!" Several weeks later I went for my second test, confident that I could identify any group of stars, but this time he never posed a question on the stars and I was granted my certificate confirming the award of the Permanent Pathfinder Badge.
Twenty third August 1943 saw us making our first assault against the capital city - Berlin - always considered to be the 'big one'. It meant a long trip over heavily defended enemy territory and the Berlin defences were savage in the protection of the great city which the Nazis had sworn would never be subjected to air bombardment. What a long way I had come since those dark days in 1940 when there appeared to be no salvation from the gloom, and here we were attacking the German capital in strength and talking more and more of an invasion of Europe. This was to be my 57th operation; could I survive to see that 60th operation? It did seem to be inviting the inevitable with each further raid, so many crews had not even reached double figures, and with so many more aircraft involved, losses mounted so the likelihood of aircrews surviving 12 raids was still minimal. For this trip, we had an additional crew member - a F/Sgt. Penny who came as second pilot for the experience. Apart form the heavy flak and searchlight activity, the flight was uneventful, far less frightening than any trip to the Ruhr, and after bombing from 18,000 ft we were back at base in 6 hours 35 minutes.
Four nights later we were back to Nuremberg with another 7,000 lbs of 'goodies'. These were placed on workshops and marshalling yards, bombing with the aid of H2S. On return we were coned by searchlights and suddenly the heavy flak stopped which indicated fighter activity could be expected. Jacky in the mid-upper turret spotted a fighter attacking form the starboard quarter and gave Johnny instructions to 'corkscrew' and he and Geoff in the rear turret gave a burst of fire which made 'N' for Nan shudder, and the smell of cordite in the cabin was pungent. I was sitting at my radio listening to the Group broadcast and as I looked up I saw that there was a clean hole through the crystal monitor about eighteen inches above and to the right of my head. A cannon shell had pierced it and gone straight out through the front of the aircraft. I was rigid, not daring to move an inch. The contact was brief and the fighter sheered off-much to our relief. One of the crews, campaigned by F/Lt. C.B. Robertson, did not return from this operation.
On 31st August, our hearts dropped again when we say that the target was again Berlin, it seemed that the targets were becoming so much harder these days and I gained the impression that time was running out for me and the odds were ever-increasing. It was at this stage that I was becoming more nervous than ever before and was looking forward to finishing my tour of ops. Although we had a satisfactory trip we were upset to hear the W/Cdr. Burns had been shot down, it being subsequently established that the crew had been taken Prisoners of War, except for F/O Dolby who had been killed.
The raids on Berlin were becoming monotonous when we found ourselves in flight again on September 3rd against the 'Big City'. The seven and a half hour return trip was carried out without too much trouble. There was no moon, no cloud and good visibility, and our bombs released from 19,000 ft were seen to burst in a built up area. The flak as usual was intense and accurate but we escaped damage. Form the frequency of raids on the Capital City, it was only too evident that the Battle of Berlin' had started in earnest and we were repaying ten-fold the attacks on London in 1940/41. All our crews returned form this operation, one having to return early after two hours when Sgt. Miller's mid-upper Gunner Sgt. Williams was rendered unconscious at 20,000 ft after his electrically heated suit and oxygen supply failed.
The next night was a stand down for the squadron but then two nights running, on the 5th and 6th September we were to attack Mannheim and Munich
On the Mannheim trip, a crew had to abandon this mission for the second consecutive night, this time as a result of the rear turret elevation and depression being unserviceable. I cannot recall ever seeing that crew again at subsequent briefings.
The allies were doing well at this stage of the war. Italy having been invaded, had surrendered-obviously to the disgust of the Germans who were still strongly resisting the push to the north. On the eastern front, the Russians had begun to regain ground after having been back to the gates of Moscow.
My 63rd operation, on 22nd September was against Hanover, the birthplace of my great grandfather. The following night it was Mannheim and it was on this operation that we lost F/Lt Fletcher and crew, including W/O Layne the wireless operator who was on his second tour of ops and was never to learn that he had been awarded a DFC for earlier raids. The loss of this most experienced crew made me wonder how much longer our luck could hold out.
I had exceeded 60 ops and wondered how soon I could be relived. It was to be just one more week before my operational career was to an end but in that week I was to fly to Mannheim, again, to Brunswick and finally to Munich. On the Mannheim raid we were coned by searchlights for a whole six minutes; it seemed as if every flak battery was concentrating on us and I thought it would be only a matter of seconds before they scored a direct hit. After a battering during this interminable period during which I hade virtually given up any hope of escaping, Johnny finally gave them the slip by violent evasive action and we were away and on the return flight. If ever I prayed, it was never more earnestly than on that night.
Setting out for Munich, on the night of 2nd October 1943, we had no prior knowledge that this would be our final operation together. Perhaps it was just as well as we might have been even more nervous in our anxiety to survive. As it was, the trip was largely uneventful except that we coaxed Hitch our Navigator to leave his seat and take up position in the Astro dome to see what was going on over the target area. His remarks over the inter-com brought smiles to our face when he said, "Christ! Does that sort of thing go on every night? Seeing the target area a mass of fires he considered it was "Sheer bloody murder". Ginger too was on this raid and he was to be involved in five further operations against Berlin.
Our crew was stood down for a few days after this until Johnny called us together and said "Well lads, do we want to go on, or for some of us at least, shall we call it a day?"
For Johnny, Hitch, Jackie Blair and myself-we had done our quota and would ask to be relived of further operational duty. For the other chaps, Bill (F/E), Peter (A/B) and Geoff (R/G) they had no option but to continue. Peter anxiously cleaned his pipe, Bill kept shuffling his feet and Geoff nervously fingered his lanyard whilst the rest of us tried to reach a decision. If we old stagers decided to finish then Bill, Geoff and Peter would be assigned to a new crew to finish their first tour. Whilst they were hopeful that the crew would not split up, they recognised that we had done our fair share of ops over a long period and in similar circumstances they too would say "enough is enough"
Johnny posed the question to us again and their seemed a reluctance to reply. Finally, I said that the last half a dozen trips had been a nightmare for me and I had been getting progressively more nervous so I was going to call it a day. Hitch, too said he agreed with me so it was decided to tell the C.O. W/Cdr Alabaster that we had made up our minds. Naturally the three other lads were disappointed but they thanked us for the happy times we had enjoyed at Bourn and we wished them all the luck that was going.
We were to remain at Bourn for a further three weeks before learning of our postings, but two of these were spent on leave. It was whilst I was at home on leave that I learned from the Islington Gazette that I was awarded the DFC. It being announced in the London Gazette on 19th October 1043. My joy was complete, I had survived 66 operations, three others did not count die to aborts, I had been decorated, my official permanent Pathfinder Certificate had arrived, many new aircrews were arriving daily to take up the new challenge where I left off, and now I could more hopefully expect to se the end of the war and carry on with happily married life. During this leave, I was invited to visit the Company I had worked for prior to the war-Herbert and Sons Ltd, at their Edmonton premises. The reception was overwhelming. The entire workforce were assembled and after a speech by my old friend Stan Kitchen, I stepped forward to receive from the Scale Shop Foreman, Fred Pennell, a beautiful barometer suitably inscribed to "To mark the occasion on the award of a DFC". I was choked for words. My world was complete, the good lord had looked kindly on me and protected me through four hard years of war during which so many thousands had died. Proudly wearing the mauve and white ribbon alongside that of the 1939/43 star, I returned to Bourn to receive the congratulations of the rest of the crew and was delighted to find out that Johnny and Hitch had also been decorated. I was saddened then to hear that Paul Carlyon with whom I had flown in 1940/41, had been shot down and killed over the Bay of Biscay in a raid on Lorient some months earlier. News filtered through fast at this time and I learned that Fred Denman, my friend and front gunner on Wellingtons had been decorated with the DFM out in the Middle East where he completed his second tour -again on Wellingtons
EXTRACT TAKEN FROM EDDIES OWN BOOK "JUST TO GET A BED" PUBLISHED 1990 EDDIE WHEELER DFC
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At the tender age of 16, Denise Francks defied all types of danger to be a valuable part of the Belgium Resistance movement.
Even with the fear of dreadful reprisals Denise did not shirk what she knew was her duty to her homeland and to the allies.
For many months she worked under the very noses of the Third Reich to assist her comrades in the movement.
With courage that belittled her age, she calmly and confidently carried all sorts of messages for the resistance at a time when the need to keep the lines of communication open but secure was vital to the war effort.
The favourite place for Denise to conceal her messages was in her shoes. She carried this off successfully and in doing so played a vital part in the movement that gave many Belgians hope for the future and the courage to keep working for freedom.
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