Pathfinder Pets & Tich Palmer

Further to our posts way back in March about Pathfinder pets, we have been given permission to use a much better image of Clayton’s crew with Clayton’s spaniel.

clayton crew with Titch Palmer

The man holding the dog is Tich Palmer, who later went on to fly with the Mansbridge crew on 635 Squadron and sadly was lost with the entire crew on 20 April 1944.

clayton crew, Tich with spaniel

By kind permission of Medals of England, which sold the Titch Palmer collection a while ago: Titch Palmer Medals and Logbooks

 

Fletcher Crew – Further Update

A more detailed photograph of James White and Harry Page, together Wally Layne (with thanks to David Layne). This has been added to the Fletcher crew page, and also a link has been set up between Jack Beesley and the marvellous repatriation photograph (on a different page) in which Jack appears. In the Archive there are some reminiscences which Jack wrote about his time as a prisoner of war, and these will be added in the future when we do a feature on the website on prisoners of war.

 

The Lure of Flying

The lure of flying for people growing up in the 1920s and 1930s is hard to appreciate now when commercial flying is so commonplace. Then, flying was ultra-modern and incredibly glamorous, and airshows (as in the photograph above) fed this fascination. Many of the boys who were aeroplane-mad in those years grew up to join the RAF and the Pathfinders. For more on this see our new page on the Lure of Flying.

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

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Pathfinder pets – Clayton and his spaniel

Further to our post yesterday, I remembered that somewhere in the Archive there was another 97 Squadron dog. And here he is, a spaniel who belonged to the pilot Peter Clayton, DSO, DFC. Unfortunately the copy of the photo we have is very low resolution, but you can just make out the dog sitting between Clayton’s legs.

The crew were flying with 97 Squadron in 1943, and on 27/28 September, for example, the crew members were:

JB238A  F/L R.F.Clayton, Sgt L.Palmer, F/L F.W.Chandler, F/Sgt A.E.Newbegin, W/O W.Halsey, F/Sgt J.Woods, W/O P.O.Bone.

Des Evans, who used to run the 97 Squadron Association website, emailed me way back in March 2006 about Peter Clayton’s dog. (I am not sure, by the way, why Clayton’s initials in the ORB are ‘RF’ and not ‘P’ – a small mystery there.)

Talking of Dogs yesterday. I had a great email from Kevin [Bending] last Night. He has been in touch with Peter Clayton , knocking up the years a bit now. However he is going to let us have a log book for his Spaniel which flew on a few trips with him and his crew. They evolved a logbook for him.

I wrote what a good story it was and asked if all the crew survived. Des responded: ‘To my knowledge they all survived including the Dog. Peter Clayton is still alive and well.’

Unfortunately I don’t know whether the spaniel’s logbook was ever copied.

The photograph above was sent to Des by Darren Rigsby, whose Grandfather was Pilot Officer Peter Bone, DFC (extreme left in the photograph). P/O Bone was the mid-upper gunner in the crew.

JENNIE

 

 

Frank Smith & Patch the Dog

The most famous Bomber Command pet is Guy Gibson’s Labrador, Nigger. However, other dogs appear in photos of Bomber Command aircrew, some of whom traveled with their owners on bombing sorties.

Frank Smith was with 97 Squadron at the end of the war, flying as a rear gunner with a pilot named Harrison. The celebratory photograph below may either have been taken when they finished their tour or when the war ended.

frank smith and possibly harrison
Frank Smith, left, probably with his pilot Harrison

Patch the dog appears with Frank (they seem to have been inseparable) in a number of photos. It is thought that Patch was brought back from Belgium after the war ended and that the crew hid him on the plane in order to get him back.

The photograph below is one of the best informal photos we have seen of the quiet life back at base. Patch appears on the far left, held safely by Frank.

with patch the dog

With many thanks to Margaret and Jeffrey Bossons.

frank and patch