I am sure it will have escaped few people’s notice that it is the 100th anniversary of the RAF on 1 April. Whilst this is a momentous date historically speaking, the fabulous cake above says it all in a deliciously lighthearted and ingenious way.
With thanks to Josh Stewart, and Geoff Alan, RAF.
On a bitterly cold day (the last day of February, when the weather really ought to know better and be acting vaguely like spring), here is a heart-warming story of two members of a 7 Squadron crew, John Ottewell and Charlie Sergeant, who met up again this January after a gap of over 70 years. It was written by John Ottewell’s son, Chris.
Boden Crew and John Ottewell
We are gradually adding individual pages, or groups of pages, for each PFF Squadron.
Just added today is the summary list for the 20 PFF Squadrons by type, that is to say ‘Heavy’ (Lancaster, Wellington, Stirling, or Halifax – all were flying Lancasters by August 1943) or Mosquito.
The total of 20 squadrons includes 1409 Meteorological Flight, which flew unarmed Mosquitoes on survey flights.
The PFF squadron pages are gradually being reorganised so that each squadron has its own page, or group of pages. 156 Squadron is one of the first to be set up, and of the two current pages one is on the Engineering Officer at Warboys and the other is a beautiful photograph of Lionel Williams and his daughter (click HERE for the full version).
Tales from the Archive this month is on Wally Layne’s wartime log. Wally was a member of a 97 Squadron crew which was shot down over Germany in September 1943, and he spent the rest of the war as a prisoner. His logbook is one of the best surviving examples of the many thousands of logbooks which were made by British prisoners of war.
Tales from the Archive 5. 22 February 2018
Wally Layne has his own website, created by his son David, with an immense wealth of documentation and images, see: WALLY’S WAR
There has been a bit of a delay in announcing the good news but the Charity Commission has now been updated with the details of our new trustee, and we are delighted to welcome on board John Clifford, Senior Curator at the Pathfinder Collection, RAF Wyton.
John has an immense fund of knowledge about the Pathfinders, and was the key man in setting up the Black Thursday display at RAF Wyton last December, just in time for the 74th anniversary, a massive achievement considering how short of time we all were to get the Deverill collection purchased and on display.
Further details of our partnership with RAF Wyton.
This image is from the notebook of John Conybeare Landon (see The Stories Behind the Gravestones on our sister site: RAF MISSING RESEARCH, WAR GRAVES, & REMEMBRANCE). Landon trained as a navigator in Canada and subsequently became a bomb aimer with Main Force.
If you have any documents or photographs about the RAF’s training programme, from initial training camp to Bomber Command Conversion Unit, please get in touch. We are planning an online exhibition this year on Bomber Command training, and all contributions will be gratefully acknowledged.
Our sister site, RAF MISSING RESEARCH, WAR GRAVES, & REMEMBRANCE, has published a page on The Air Ministry Casualty Branch in Oxford Street, which dealt with many thousands of aircrew casualties – killed, missing, and wounded – during the years that the Pathfinders were in operation.
From time to time we include details of the air war which form the background to who the Pathfinders were and what they did.
This particular oddity is such fun that we cannot resist it. It comes from RAF Station Tain, and celebrates those who had made it through the war and were about to be demobbed. As the certificate says, it is a token of remembrance made between brothers in arms, the person named on the certificate being about to become ‘a mere civilian’.
It was sent by David Wingate, and it had originally been awarded to one of his relatives who was a Section Officer in the WAAFs.
Referring back to one of our December posts Christmas Eve 1944, 35 Squadron on the loss of the Kenyon crew, we recently had an email from R Maddox who wrote:
Just to add to information about the Christmas Eve 1944 crash at Great Paxton (post ‘Christmas Eve 1944, 35 Squadron’), the Form 540 notes that ten aircraft were detailed to take off in the late afternoon to mark and bomb the marshaling yard at Nippes, Cologne. The companion Form 541 records that Pilot Officer Arthur Kenyon’s aircraft (PB366/’S’) was designated a ‘Supporter’ aircraft. They took off at 15.35.
More information on the incident and crew can be found at: Aircrew Remembered
The Aircrew Remembered site has photographs of six of the crew and states that the aircraft was taking off with the assistance of FIDO and almost immediately crashed into trees. This would fit with the eyewitness report about the aircraft appearing out of dense fog.