The last two Christmases we have published a post in memory of the Kenyon crew who died on Christmas Eve just after take-off from RAF Graveley – see: Kenyon Crew, Christmas Eve 1944. A local group are now fund-raising for a memorial to the crew, See this article in the Hunts Post which gives fund-raising details. You can also contact the Great Paxton History Society by email at: email@example.com
We recently have had a few enquiries about why this memorial is not yet in place at the NMA. John Clifford advised us a few weeks back:
The main issue is moving 5 ton of marble from Peterborough to the NMA! I’ve had promises of moving it over the past year and a bit 3 times now and all have reneged, mainly the Army. […] I’ll just keep trying.
To which JMG replied, somewhat frivolously:
5 tons of marble – pfff!! I’ll chuck it in the back of my car.
On a more serious note, if anyone can help with this problem, please get in touch.
In May we published a post about Bobby Bear, the childhood toy of Joe Mack who survived a horrendous crash on Black Thursday, 16/17 December 1943. This post has since been updated with more information about wound stripes: Wound Stripes and the Thackway Crash
The purpose of this new post is to tell everyone that the restored Bobby Bear is on this coming Tuesday’s episode of The Repair Shop on BBC1 which hopefully will tell something of the background to Bobby Bear, his wound stripe, and the RAF’s worst night of the war for bad-weather crashes.
Part of the blurb for the programme reads:
And teddy bear repair duo Amanda and Julie welcome a 100-year-old RAF mascot bear called Bobby. Dressed in a replica uniform, the bear belonged to a brave airman who survived a horrific plane crash during the Second World War.
Below is a picture of Joe Mack on home leave in the summer of 1944 after months in hospital and rehabilitation. It can be seen that the uniform he was wearing hung very loosely on him as he had lost so much weight during the months in treatment. His medical care was exceptionally good and they saved his leg which had been very badly mangled. See also: Why the Archive Began
Two years ago, the RAF Pathfinders Archive bought the Deverill Collection to ensure that it would not go into private hands and possibly end up being sold off in separate parts. Since the Archive acquired the Deverill Collection, it has been on loan to the Heritage Centre at RAF Wyton, where it can be seen by the public, by appointment.
The Deverill Collection’s future as part of RAF history, and in particular the history of the Pathfinders and Black Thursday, 16/17 December 1943, is now assured. However, the Archive still has to raise £4,280 – 10% of the purchase price – to settle the remaining balance of the interest-free loans taken out to finance the purchase. Clearing the balance will enable us to look to the future when we may be able to acquire other suitable Pathfinder items. These too will be loaned for display at RAF Wyton, and will enhance the wonderful collection already there.
We are launching an appeal to all our supporters to help us clear the outstanding balance of the Deverill Collection purchase. Please contribute what you can to help us settle the last debts for this outstanding pilot and ‘Knight of the Air’.
We are giving away a free pair of Black Thursday booklets to anyone who contributes £30 or more.
Above: the new Black Thursday display at RAF Wyton. See this page: The Deverill Collection at RAF Wyton
Although this whole site is intrinsically about the Air War, as part of the reorganisation of the website we have collected a number of topics on one page for easy reference. These include such subjects as Animals in the Air War, Lancaster Art, Superstitions, and Pilot Officer Prune. The Air War
We have received two messages in the last day about typos on the website, and this seems as good a time as any to say that we welcome any such feed-back in the interests of historical accuracy. With our slender resources, there is an enormous time-pressure on keeping the website up to date as well as dealing with everything else – a huge email correspondence, charity admin, research, cataloguing, etc – so there is bound to be the occasional mistake or imperfection. Many thanks to those who wrote in. Offending typos duly corrected!
As part of the reorganisation of the website, we have grouped all the Mosquito pages on one page – Mosquito Squadrons, Crews, and Related Topics – so that topics can be scanned through quickly. All new posts about Mosquito squadrons and crews will be added to the list.
The beautiful image on this post is of the grave of Ray Hutchings Logan, a Mosquito navigator, who lost his life on 28 May 1943 when the Mosquito he was flying in was hit by a German nightfighter and exploded in mid-air. The pilot, Chrysler, survived by coming down by parachute. See our new page: Two Canadians & a Mosquito of 109 Squadron
It seldom happens that a photograph with unknown aircrew in it gets even partially identified, but amazingly this has happened with the photograph we featured almost exactly one year ago of an unknown Pathfinder crew at a wedding.
The man second from the right has been identified by his children as John Graham Walters, a bomb aimer, who was with 35 Squadron at Graveley. See the revised page on the photograph.
For the colourised photograph of the wedding photograph, our thanks are due to Paul Smith who sent the black and white version originally.
In January this year we featured a magazine cover with a lovely picture of a bulldog posing as ‘Pilot Officer Prune’ and his unknown human friend, a pilot. We later discovered that the pilot was Flight Lieutenant Leslie Barr.
A very interesting article appeared in The Telegraph two days ago about Barr’s crew, who were shot down on 10 September 1942 near Echt in Holland, west of Dusseldorf, the target of that night’s operation. Only two men out of the crew of eight survived. Barr and another crew member are buried at Jonkerbos War Cemetery, but the bodies of the four remaining crew members had sunk deep into the marshy ground, and they are remembered at Runnymede. The article in The Telegraph concerns these last four crew members and one Dutch family’s long crusade to have the bodies recovered from the mud and honourably buried.