The purchase of the DEVERILLcollection 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.
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 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.
Alain Libert, who for some years has been researching the Ottignies operation, 20 April 1944, and the loss of the Mansbridge crew, has produced a two-part video on the subject. Although it is in French, it can be easier to follow for English-speakers if you turn on the auto subtitles in YouTube. With thanks to Debbie Kennett, niece of Gerald Cruwys, the navigator of the Mansbridge crew.
The Wakley page has finally been transferred from the old website. This page is a good illustration of the cross-currents between crews, who did not necessarily fly their entire tour in the original seven-men group which had come from the Conversion Units or another squadron.
It was extremely rare for a bomber crew in dire trouble to be able to send a message before the aircraft came down, but this was the case for the Moroney crew on 22 March 1944, whose w/op transmitted from the North Sea. Sadly, rescue never came and all the crew were lost.