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.

 

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

 

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

The latest Tales from the Archive goes right 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

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

 

 

1409 Met Flight

1409 Met Flight’s primary duty was to ascertain the weather conditions over the targets before a bombing operation. They also checked weather conditions over the British Isles, which were critical to the safe take-off and landing of operational aircraft. This might seem like a dull routine job, but it was anything but. The dangers which the crews faced were extreme,

The new page on 1409 Met Flight gives a brief outline of its work.

It also includes details of the Maurice Briggs and Baker crew, together with links to some of the extensive research which has been carried out about them.

John and Charlie meet up again, 73 years on

On a bitterly cold day (the last day of February, when the weather really ought to know better and be acting vaguely like spring), here is a heart-warming story of two members of a 7 Squadron crew, John Ottewell and Charlie Sergeant, who met up again this January after a gap of over 70 years. It was written by John Ottewell’s son, Chris.

Boden Crew and John Ottewell

Adding Pages for each PFF Squadron

We are gradually adding individual pages, or groups of pages, for each PFF Squadron.

Just added today is the summary list for the 20 PFF Squadrons by type, that is to say ‘Heavy’ (Lancaster, Wellington, Stirling, or Halifax – all were flying Lancasters by August 1943) or Mosquito.

The total of 20 squadrons includes 1409 Meteorological Flight, which flew unarmed Mosquitoes on survey flights.

Mystery Pathfinder

Here is a good old-fashioned needle-in-a-haystack query, but one which is funny and endearing as well. Around 1988, a little boy of about 10 years old, flying home from holiday, found himself sitting next to a ‘hefty, square built man who had an arm missing’. This man turned out to have been a Lancaster pilot in the Pathfinders during the war. Below is the report that the little boy wrote afterwards.

Talking to a Lancaster pilot

The question is obviously can anyone say who this Pathfinder pilot was?

It’s worth adding that we were contacted about this mystery Pathfinder by the little boy’s father, who told us: “My son is now a GP and still mad about planes”.