Ernest Alfred Deverill, from a group photograph after the Augsburg raid. 1942

 

At the end of 2017, the RAF Pathfinders Archive acquired the Deverill collection because it was felt to be of great importance not only in the wartime history of 97 Squadron and the Pathfinders, but also in the story of Bomber Command and the air war. This was a very expensive purchase and we still have £11,000 of the total cost to raise, this sum currently being funded by interest-free loans from supporters.

The Deverill Collection is now on display at RAF Wyton, and can be viewed by appointment.

Ernest Alfred Deverill was an outstandingly brave and highly decorated pilot who won the DFM and the DFC twice, and who was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross. In 1942, he took part in the daring Augsburg raid, which involved 12 Lancasters flying in broad daylight at 25-30 feet all the way across Occupied Europe to Augsburg, 500 miles into Germany. The raid demanded an immensely high degree of courage, navigational accuracy, and flying skills, and despite heavy losses was a PR triumph. Possibly the most audacious Bomber Command operation of the war, it has been overshadowed by the more famous Dambusters raid which took place a year later. For further details of the Augsburg raid, see TALES OF THE ARCHIVE, NO. 7 Tales from the Archive 7. 17 April 2018

Deverill, who was known as ‘The Devil Deverill’ at his bomber station because of his utter contempt for enemy fighters and anti-aircraft defences, flew numerous other highly dangerous operations. It was one of the tragic ironies of war that it was the British weather which finally killed him.

The Deverill collection contains a wealth of outstanding material, much of it unique. Included are all his medals, together with the original boxes in which they were presented, and the two logbooks which cover Deverill’s entire flying career. There are numerous photographs, press cuttings, letters, and other items, all of which paint a portrait of the man whom they once called Devil Deverill.

The Deverill collection is thought to have been sold by the brother of Deverill’s widow, Joyce, some years after her death in 1992. The collection was then privately owned for 18 years, and 2017 was the first time that it had come onto the open market.