Just in time for the 74th anniversary of Black Thursday, which begins tomorrow, the senior curator at the Pathfinder Collection, RAF Wyton, has created a display around the Deverill collection and other very evocative mementos of the night of 16/17 December 1943. Time was very short to arrange this display, and we are most grateful to John Clifford and other members of the Heritage Centre staff for managing to put on such an attractive display at such short notice. FULL DETAILS
As there has recently been so much information centred on Coningsby and 54 Base, a page has been set up and some photographs have been added of the briefing room for 97 Squadron at that station.
The Coningsby page is under our menu on RAF Stations, where RAF Stations Bourn and Woodhall Spa are already found.
Another copy of TALES FROM THE ARCHIVE is now available, which has details of the Reid crew, the loss of Wing Commander Edward Leach Porter on the Stettin Bay Mining Operation, and the Missing Research and Enquiry Service.
For more extensive details of the STETTIN BAY MINING OPERATION, which demanded the most enormous courage from the Controller, Porter, and the two marker Deputies, Squadron Leader Parkes and Squadron Leader Locke, follow the link.
A little later than intended, the first TALES FROM THE ARCHIVE is published this afternoon. It contains more information about Norman Edmondson, mentioned in the last post, together with details of two interesting oddities in the Archive. There are also details of 97 Squadron at Coningsby when it had been loaned to 5 Group.
Lost on 30/31 March 1944 on the infamous Nuremburg raid. This was one of four 156 Squadron aircraft, flying from Upwood, which were shot down that night. The aircraft was brought down by a night fighter and crashed at Oberirsen, in Western Germany, east of Bonn. By some miracle, the pilot Lindley survived to become a prisoner of war.
Capt: L Lindley
F/E: Ronald Thomas Harper, aged 21
Nav: John Waite Henry, aged 28
BA: Bankole Beresford Vivour, aged 24
W/Op: John Esprey Bates, aged 22
M/U: Norman Thomson Edmondson, RCAF, aged 20
R/G: Dennis Bertram Bloomfield (no age on CWGC)
Norman Edmonson’s nephew, Gordon, recently sent us some photographs of a small notebook that Norman used to carry with him, which was kept in its own little leather zip-up folder stamped with an Air Force crest.
According to Chorley, Vivour was a Nigerian, an unusual nationality for Bomber Command.
We very seldom hear about what life was like for children on Bomber Command or PFF bases. For a wonderful child’s eye view of life on a Pathfinder base, including a fabulous anecdote about the legendary Mahaddie at a party given for the children of PFF personnel at Warboys, see The Engineering Officer at Warboys.
The purchase of the DEVERILL collection was finally completed last week. This is the first major acquisition of the RAF Pathfinders Archive.
It was very important to buy the collection not only because of Deverill’s iconic status in Bomber Command, 97 Squadron, and the Pathfinders, but also because it would be a huge loss to history if this collection was broken up, as often happens nowadays.
Deverill’s Air Force Cross, DFM, and double DFC, together with other important items, in particular his two logbooks which cover his service from 1938 to December 1943, are now at the Pathfinder Collection at RAF Wyton. As Wyton is still a military base, the Deverill collection benefits from the very high level of security there. The phrase ‘guarded by men with guns and dogs’ pretty much sums up the situation.
The Deverill medals and logbooks will be on display at RAF Wyton by the 74th anniversary of the loss of Deverill and six of his crew, which occurred on BLACK THURSDAY, 16/17 December 1943.
We have two unusual requests for information to post this morning.
One concerns Jurik Herman, a Polish airman who flew as a Navigator in a Mosquito squadron.
The other concerns an unknown airman whom we hope someone can identify, his wartime photograph was kept by the young woman in the photograph above. SEE FULL DETAILS
We have just acquired two Second World War escape maps, one of Germany into Poland, with the tip of Italy on the reverse, and one which is of Italy. They are now at the Pathfinder Collection at RAF Wyton, and will fill two gaps in their collection of escape maps.
There are some 500 aircrew on whom we hold information. The Master List appears for the first time today, Remembrance Sunday 2017, on the Catalogue page. This is the beginning of the projected database and it is very much a work in progress. It is anticipated that the next update to the Catalogue will be in a month’s time, before Black Thursday.