Drawing by German POW of PFF Airman

Portrait of Dennis Walters (possibly of 635 Squadron)

This sketch is thought to be by a German prisoner of war, Kurt Kranz, who was conscripted for German Military service in 1940, and served in Norway and Finland. He died in 1997, aged 87.

Dennis Walters is believed to have served in 635 Squadron, but we have not yet managed to trace him in the records. If anyone can shed any light on Dennis’s RAF career, please contact us.

At the time the sketch was made, in 1946, Dennis would almost certainly have been serving with BAFO, the British Air Forces of Occupation, in Germany.

The sketch is now at Eden Camp Museum at Malton in North Yorkshire. It was donated by Bryan Marvin.

 

Peter Drane, from Lancaster to Mosquito

Peter Drane was a 97 Squadron Lancaster pilot who, in a most unusual move, transferred to a Mosquito squadron, 139 Squadron, after completing his tour in August 1944. His navigator did not want to transfer with him, and Peter crewed up with another 97 Squadron navigator, Kenneth Swale, who also transferred shortly after Peter. It seems highly likely that Peter and Ken had agreed to fly together before their transfers.

Sadly, this story does not have a happy ending, and both were killed early the following year due to that old adversary, the English weather.  Peter Drane, from Lancaster to Mosquito

 

Deverill Collection and Black Thursday Anniversary

This year will be a busy one for the Archive. Following the acquisition of the Deverill Collection, we will be fund-raising this year in order to settle the interest-free loans from supporters which enabled us to buy the Collection at very short notice. 

The Deverill Collection cost £42,000 (by way of comparison, Dambuster collections are selling for three times this, or more, in the current market).  £28,050 has already been settled, having been funded by donations and Gift Aid. This leaves £13,950 to be fund-raised.

If you would like to make a contribution, please go to our DONATE page. Alternatively please CONTACT us if you would prefer an alternative method of payment such as cheque or postal order. All donations towards this most important collection will be very gratefully received. 

We would also be very pleased to hear from anyone who would like to run a fund-raising project of their own for the Deverill Collection.

The Deverill Collection is now on display at RAF Wyton, and can be visited by appointment.

Early next month we will be adding the first details of our projected commemorations for the 75th anniversary of Black Thursday, 16/17 December 1943, which will centre around the Deverill Collection at RAF Wyton. We will be giving further details of our fund-raising for the Deverill Collection at the same time.

Portal, Chief of Air Staff, & RAF Organisation

As part of our emphasis on the wider picture and on the wartime context in which the Pathfinders operated, we are giving details of how the RAF was organised in wartime and how it fitted into the structure of government.

This includes brief details of Charles Portal, the top man in the RAF, and also three pages of detailed description with organisational diagrams, as issued by the Directorate of Flying Training, the Air Ministry, in September 1942, the month after the Path Finder Force was formed. RAF Wartime Organisation

Scrapbook, 26th Birthday of RAF (1944)

More on the extremely tattered scrapbook in the Archive. Whilst looking through it, we discovered this gem, which we regret not having found two weeks ago in time for the 100th birthday of the RAF. Once again the anonymous aircraft fan who constructed the scrapbook has employed his formidable skills of cut-and-paste. The tear through the headline is part of the general dilapitude of the scrapbook.

26 birthday 1

Additional Page from Archive Scrapbook

Further to our post this afternoon about TALES FROM THE ARCHIVE No.7, it seems a shame not to publish part of a page from the tattered old scrapbook in the Archive which is mentioned in No.7. The scrapbook page has newspaper clippings about the Pathfinders just after the news had been broken to the world of the existence of this new Force.

We have therefore set up a single page addition to TALES No.7 showing the scrapbook page exactly as it is: Tales from the Archive 7, plus – 17 April 2018

 

Bomber Command, Publicity, & the Augsburg Raid

Further to our previous post, we are now publishing the seventh issue of TALES FROM THE ARCHIVE, which is on the RAF’s PR war, and how the Augsburg raid was covered in the Press. It also shows how the existence of the Pathfinders was revealed in November 1943, just prior to the start of what came to be known as the Battle of Berlin.

Tales from the Archive 7. 17 April 2018

Anniversary of the Augsburg Raid

Ernest Alfred Deverill, who was lost due to fog on Black Thursday, 16/17 December 1943, survived many hazardous operations in his time but perhaps none more so than the Augsburg raid on 17 April 1942.

Tales from the Archive this month will be on the Augsburg raid and the RAF’s PR war.

There is a commemoration for this raid taking place in Leicester in 11 days time.

Commemoration at Leicester, 17 April 2017

 

Update on Frank Smith & Patch the Dog

Further to our recent post about Frank Smith and Patch the Dog, Frank’s son-in-law has kindly sent a copy of Frank’s logbook and there is a very interesting entry on 4th May 1945 which reads:

13.10 Base to Juvincourt

and then on the next line:

17.15 Juvincourt to Dunsfold, evacuation of 23 ex P.O.Ws

The flight from Juvincourt took one hour and forty-five minutes, and the Harrison crew returned from Dunsfold to base (Coningsby) on the same very eventful day.

It is thought that this may very well be the day that Patch was brought back from the Continent.

Juvincourt was one of the largest Luftwaffe airfields in Northern France before it was seized by the Allies after the Normandy invasion. It is some distance from the Belgian border, but family history recounts that Patch came from Belgium. Given the very short timeframe, it seems unlikely that the crew had time to go to Belgium, so perhaps one of the ex-POWs had him and gave him to the crew, and in particular to Frank Smith, for safe-keeping. The POW would have been entering the extensive programme of care for ex-POWs which was waiting for them when they came home, and the chances of being able to keep the dog were minimal.

For details of Operation Exodus, the evacuation of POWs, see this page.

 

 

 

 

Harris v. Portal, the Formation of the Path Finder Force, 1942

Tales from the Archive, 6 goes back to the very beginning of the Path Finder Force, at a time when it was being proposed under the name the Target Finding Force. Harris’ pugnacious opposition to the idea only ended when he was given a direct order by the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. Tales from the Archive 6. 28 March 2018