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.
It has now been decided that due to the ever-increasing volume of data, we are going to have to adopt a new policy for the website and change the old established policy of having a separate crew page for each crew.
What we will be doing in future is:
- Make a detailed announcement every time we acquire new material about a member of aircrew
- Add the name or names to the Master List of aircrew on whom we hold data – this is the beginning of the projected database
- Publish an updated version of the Master List on the website – it is planned that the first version of this List will appear before 11 November, Remembrance Day
- Have a feature each month for a particular crew or a particular incident or topic
The only ‘old style’ crew pages currently online are those related to Black Thursday. It is anticipated that these will remain on the site permanently in order to link them in to the display at RAF Wyton.
More details about the Master List will appear when it is published. It will, of course, be fully searchable, and we will be delighted to answer research requests concerning the names which are on it.
Jan Nieuwenhuis has just published the new release of his database on Allied aircraft losses in the Netherlands and the North Sea, the sea being where so many crews were lost on their way to or from Europe. The link to the database is https://www.airwar4045.nl
The website is currently being updated to a more modern and easy-to-follow format. Please excuse any oddities you may come across – everything will be ironed out as soon as possible.
The Steven crew are commemorated on the Dutch island of Texel, where their aircraft was shot down. Texel has some very dedicated researchers, who have spent years ensuring that the memory of Allied aircrew is honoured.
The Steven crew are one of the most important on this website, and Heavens knows why it took so long to transfer them from the old site. They have now been given a new and detailed page.
This was prompted partly by the wonderful surprise of receiving a photograph of Ridley Brown, the bomb aimer, from his grandson, Simon Brown, which is now on the page.
Ridley Brown and Albert East were the two survivors from the loss of the plane, and after the war, once they had returned from prisoner of war camp, they gave all the information that they could to the families of the men who had died.