The last of our topical posts for the time being on the type of restrictions and shortages which people put up with during the war. The three items all appeared in the same edition of the Manchester Evening News on 3 November 1943.
The main interest is in the marriage of Cyril Tate – he and three of his fellow pilots managed to get special leave for his wedding, a very unusual dispensation given that all four pilots would be away from duty at the same time. This is a particularly nice photograph of a wartime wedding, with everyone looking very happy.
Then we have the rather feisty Joyce Daisy Munro , who was summoned for going into a restricted area ‘for the purposes of pleasure’:
Lastly, for anyone grumbling because they can’t get any eggs from the supermarket (dried eggs were proverbially disgusting):
We have solved the mystery of the Bullimore ration coupon on the last post and where it came from (an anonymous donor). Looking through the Bullimore folder, we came across this other document about RAF restrictions on movement in 1943. ‘Within the bounds of this Unit’ meant those towns which an airman based at RAF Lichfield and carrying this pass was allowed to visit. This brought a wry smile given the current situation of lock-down in the UK and other countries.
According to the website History of RAF Lichfield, 51 MU moved into RAF Lichfield on 1st August 1940. Their job was to receive aircraft from the various manufacturers and carry out the modifications required before delivery to the individual squadrons. After the war, they took on a more destructive role and broke up large numbers of suddenly obsolescent aircraft.
In the current Covid-19 situation, there have been various mutterings about rationing becoming necessary, so now seems a good time to take a quick look at rationing in the Second World War …
It is perhaps a little-known fact that aircrew, whose food was provided by their station, still sometimes needed ration cards. These were for their periods of leave or duty, and lasted either seven days or fourteen days.
These temporary ration cards very rarely survived. They were used and then discarded. However, one such ration book belonging to Leslie Jones, a member of 97 Squadron, has survived until the present day. The square which has been cut out of the side would have contained a printed coupon.
Leslie, one of the heroes of the Augsburg raid in April 1942, died before 97 Squadron joined the Pathfinders. He has no known grave, his name being remembered at Runnymede.
With many thanks to War and Son for permission to photograph these items.
Here is a different sort of ration document, one belonging to AC2 Leslie Leonard Bullimore. It is a coupon for ‘Cigs’ and ‘Choc’. Again this is a very rare survival.
This has turned up in a ‘Sort This Out’ file, one of those rag-bags of everything waiting for a proper home, and we are not currently sure of where it came from.
We receive a number of emails from people who are starting research about a relative who was in the RAF, possibly in the Pathfinders, but who have no information about dates or squadrons. By far the easiest place to start, if their relative died, is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records. Prompted by an email enquiring about a death in an RAF plane crash in December 1949, a new page has been set up on our sister site, AFTERMATH, which gives details of which service people were included in the burial and commemorative programme run by the British (and who therefore can be found in the CWGC records). The page also explains why the date for inclusion ran up to 31 December 1947, two and half years after the war had ended in Europe. Inclusion in the National Commemorative Programme
Many Pathfinder aircrew had experienced very dramatic times in their tours before they became members of the PFF. One of the most dramatic we have come across is the story of John Henry Allen’s crew, 83 Squadron, who on 12 February 1942 set off to attack the German battleships in the Channel Dash. See our sister site, PER ARDUA: The RAF & the Channel Dash
Detail from a painting by Paul Wharmby
Before Wally Layne of the Fletcher crew became a Pathfinder, he served on 50 Squadron. His CO was the legendary Gus Walker, who would lose part of his arm in a bomb explosion whilst trying to ensure that nobody would be hurt.
When Walker left 50 Squadron for 106 Squadron, he sent the NCOs of 50 Squadron a Christmas Card. For the story of Gus Walker’s accident and the Christmas card, see our new page: Gus Walker, Wally Layne, and Christmas
Bill Phillips was stationed with 35 Squadron at Graveley, and amongst the wealth of material which is now preserved by his daughter is this menu from Christmas 1944. We will be featuring more on Bill next year, but in the meantime here is a reminder of the way things were 75 years ago.
With many thanks to Lisa Phillips.
The Caterpillar Club, for aircrew whose lives had been saved by a silken Irvin parachute, is well-known. Less so is the Goldfish Club, for aircrew whose lives had been saved by an emergency dinghy. Few of the aircrew who ditched in the sea survived, but one of the lucky ones was Robert Butler, who won the badge on 28 February 1942 whilst in training. See: Robert Butler Wins a Goldfish
We would like to share this wonderful cover for the RAF journal Air Mail, which was published in October 1948. It makes an antidote to the tragic stories often told on this website.
To add to the previous information on Finn Varde Jespersen, the Royal Norwegian Air Force pilot who was lost with all his crew on D-Day when flying with 97 Squadron, we have a very interesting photograph of him and fellow Norwegians when they were in training in Canada in 1941. For more details: Jespersen Crew, D-Day
We would still like to find information about where Jespersen and the Norwegian members of his crew are buried in Norway.