Pilot Officer Prune was a fictional character, hapless and inefficient, who mainly starred in TEE EMM, the technical memorandum which was circulated in the Air Force.
It is the dog who is being called Pilot Officer Prune in the magazine cover below, not the chap. This copy of the cover is at RAF Wyton, and the chap is thought to have been in the Pathfinders, but we are checking up on this. Note 01/09/2019: see Leslie Barr and Crew
“The experts on the Air Staff who turned down the Mosquito as a type in the early days might be interested in the argument which subsequently became current to the effect that one Mosquito was worth seven Lancasters. For those mathematically minded, here is the exercise: A Mosquito carried a little over half the bomb load of a Lancaster to Berlin. Its casualty rate was about 1/10th of that of the Lancaster. Its cost was 1/3rd of the Lancaster, and it carried two people in its crew instead of seven.”
Nothing to do with the Pathfinders but also about a flying dog, this time in the wartime USAAF, which raises an interesting point connected to today’s earlier post on Pathfinder Pets
If these dogs were flying with their owners, how did they cope at high altitude without oxygen?
Perhaps Paradog Salvo was not flying above the altitude which requires oxygen – 8,000 feet – but Bomber Command aircrew certainly were and any dog they took with them would have had to do this too.
It is hard to imagine Bomber Command crew members having the time to keep an oxygen mask over a dog’s face during high altitude flying, and the idea of there being dog oxygen masks seems slightly preposterous, So perhaps the whole thing of dogs flying on Bomber Command operations is just a myth. Clayton’s spaniel had his own logbook, but that may have been in a supporting, ground crew type of way.
The lure of flying for people growing up in the 1920s and 1930s is hard to appreciate now when commercial flying is so commonplace. Then, flying was ultra-modern and incredibly glamorous, and airshows (as in the photograph above) fed this fascination. Many of the boys who were aeroplane-mad in those years grew up to join the RAF and the Pathfinders. For more on this see our new page on the Lure of Flying.
Bad weather killed many experienced crews, including those who were only carrying out training duties. Icing could be particularly lethal. Today we have added a page about certain aspects of ICING as it affected aircrew, sometimes lethally. A reporting system was vital, so Air Ministry orders made it a duty for a pilot who had encountered ice formation to report this when he landed.
In 1943, E Colston Shepherd, the editor of The Aeroplane, interviewed Harris both at his office and at home, the latter being Springfields at Great Kingshill, close to High Wycombe’s Bomber Command HQ. In the subsequent article in the Picture Post, Colston Shepherd described Harris as:
broad-shouldered, bull-necked, of medium height, unsmiling and of a ruddy complexion, […] the sort of officer with whom no one takes liberties.
A caption to the photograph, above, of Harris with his wife and his daughter Jacqueline, aged 3 and a half, is captioned:
Air Chief Marshal Harris at Home: The Only Time When He Is Smiling
In 2017 Springfields was on the market for the first time since sold by the Ministry of Defence in 2002. Again, you can read this on the Daily Mail online, as long as you can ignore all the peripheral distractions. Bomber Harris Home for Sale
A couple of minor clarifications about yesterday’s post. ‘Bomber Harris is seldom equated with a sense of humour’ – we meant, of course, in the general public’s view, including that of people abroad.
The standard identikit image of Harris is of a mono-focused, stern and vengeful killer of civilians; this is not just a modern view, and Harris was well aware that many held this opinion of him during the war. The story about the sentry on the roof, as given yesterday, concluded with Harris saying that that was the one and only time, on one of the worst nights of the Blitz, that he felt vengeful against the Germans. We should have made it clearer that this comment was a direct riposte to wartime criticisms: ‘I have often been accused of being vengeful during our subsequent destruction of German cities’.
Not to go off on too much of a tangent about this, but the Blitz, not only in London but all over the country, was the catalyst for many young men and women in their decision to join the RAF. This may have been partly an impulse of revenge, but it was also the keen desire to take the war back to the Germans, a direct land assault on western Europe being out of the question until a late stage of the war.
Max Hastings’ 2010 account of the Daily Mail photographer who took the iconic picture of St Paul’s in an ocean of fire can be read (if you can stand all the adverts and general distracting junk) on the Daily Mail online: Max Hastings on Herbert Mason
As part of our emphasis on the wider picture and on the wartime context in which the Pathfinders operated, we are giving details of how the RAF was organised in wartime and how it fitted into the structure of government.
This includes brief details of Charles Portal, the top man in the RAF, and also three pages of detailed description with organisational diagrams, as issued by the Directorate of Flying Training, the Air Ministry, in September 1942, the month after the Path Finder Force was formed. RAF Wartime Organisation