Acquisition of Deverill Collection

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.

Jeff Pelletier – Black Thursday

We at last have two images of Jeff Pelletier, one of the last three pilots flying on 16/17 December 1943, Black Thursday, for whom we did not have a photograph. He was identified this year as being one of a group of pilots in a photograph sent by Wilfred Riches’ family ten years ago.

Wilfrid Riches with other pilots including Pelletier
The pilots’ training group. Jeff Pelletier: back row, far left; Wilfred Riches: front row, second from right. Probably taken late in 1942.

Mandy Lyell, his grand-daughter, who identified him, also sent a picture of Jeff in 1945, after he had become a test pilot.

Jeff was one of 97 Squadron’s top pilots.

Of the 21 pilots and 4 second pilots flying on Black Thursday, we  are now only missing photographs for David Brill and Victor Flack with his second pilot Roderick Emerson.

If anyone can find anything on these two elusive pilots, please contact us.

16/17 December 1943

Tonight, at about this time, the first of the 21 Lancasters would be departing from Bourn. Right now, on the darkening airfield, all of the engines would be roaring and the air would be electric.

In three hours time, the Brill crew would be lost over Berlin. Crew: Brill

In seven hours time, the first of the returning aircraft would be landing. In the two hours after that, the numerous crashes would take place.

Tonight we remember all those who died, and those who survived horribly injured. See Memorial Page

Scott Crew Page Update and Addition of Loss Card

The Scott crew page has been updated with a new photograph of Sid Parrott and of the entire crew, posed in two stunning studio portraits, two months before their deaths on Black Thursday. These studio portraits are highly unusual as almost invariably photographs of a crew are informal snapshots, usually on the airfield with their Lancaster. Perhaps the fact that so many of the crew were from overseas had something to do with this. Scott and Foxcroft were from the RAAF and Irvine and Hope were from the RCAF.

Additionally, the Loss Card for the Scott crew aircraft has been added, which is representative of those filled out for Black Thursday and for other UK-based RAF accidents.

Update to Billing crew

Our thanks to Doug Curtis for pointing out an error on the Billing crew page – Tommy Hope was lost with the Ash crew, not the Edwards crew, as we had previously stated. Tommy was the only member of the Billing crew not to survive the war, but he died alongside Stewie Edwards, who did his first five or so ops with the Billing crew.

As Doug Curtis sadly observed (13 December 2013), ‘all of our charms that they carried had run out of luck’.