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.
Any ideas or comments?
Further to our posts way back in March about Pathfinder pets, we have been given permission to use a much better image of Clayton’s crew with Clayton’s spaniel.
The man holding the dog is Tich Palmer, who later went on to fly with the Mansbridge crew on 635 Squadron and sadly was lost with the entire crew on 20 April 1944.
By kind permission of Medals of England, which sold the Titch Palmer collection a while ago: Titch Palmer Medals and Logbooks
A more detailed photograph of James White and Harry Page, together Wally Layne (with thanks to David Layne). This has been added to the Fletcher crew page, and also a link has been set up between Jack Beesley and the marvellous repatriation photograph (on a different page) in which Jack appears. In the Archive there are some reminiscences which Jack wrote about his time as a prisoner of war, and these will be added in the future when we do a feature on the website on prisoners of war.
A couple of updates to the Fletcher crew page: a picture of the crew, including James White who had just finished his tour when the crew was shot down, and Ken Foster who took White’s place and very sadly was one of three crew members killed on the fatal night of 23/24 September 1943.
Many photographs survive of Bomber Command men on one or more of the various course they took on the way to becoming aircrew. Most of these photographs have no names on them, which is always frustrating for researchers.
The photograph below is one of the rare records of a course which has nearly all the information that one could want. What is even more unusual about it is that the two men on the left, Peter Marsh and Godfrey Woolf, both went on to become Pathfinders, arriving at 97 Squadron on the same day in September 1943, having been posted there from different squadrons.
Unfortunately the story does not end happily.
Godfrey Woolf came from 106 Squadron on 10 September 1943 and was killed on 1/2 January 1944 when flying with the Mooney crew. He had been a survivor of Black Thursday when the Mooney crew abandoned their aircraft and took to their parachutes (see Caterpillar Club page).
Peter Marsh came from 61 Squadron on 10 September 1943 and was killed on 21/22 January 1944 when flying with the Roberts crew. He too had been a survivor of Black Thursday, but his crew had landed their aircraft safely.
It is not known what happened to Brett and Buchanun, and whether they survived the war. Buchanun is a very uncommon name and he does not appear in CWGC records. Brett is a great deal more common and there are several possibilities in CWGC records, but unfortunately the course photograph does not give initials, which rules out being certain what happened to our Brett, the man on 54 Course.
54 Course photograph courtesy of Peter Marsh, the nephew of the wartime Peter Marsh.
It’s always wonderful to see the men who maintained the Pathfinder aircraft, and this is a particularly nice photograph of James Frances Henry with other ground crew in front of a Met Flight mosquito. James was with 1409 Met Flight from 31st March 1943 to 19th June 1944, working as an aero engine specialist.
His grandson, Michael Henry, who sent the photograph, writes:
My grandfather first joined the RFC [Royal Flying Corps, the precursor of the RAF] as ‘a boy’ and on his birthday became ‘a man’ (quite a surprise to me how this was recorded – at the time it was quite normal !) ….. then on 1st April 1918 he was in the RAF.
At the end of WWI he was placed on reserve and called up on 25th Aug 1939 at the outset of WWII.
The Henry family would be delighted if anyone knew more about their grandfather’s war service, or who the other men are in the photograph. Please let us know if you have any information you can share.
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.
The uniform of George Walker (usually known in the RAF as Johnny after the whisky) was recently donated to the Pathfinder Collection at RAF Wyton by his son, Mick. They also have a copy of George’s logbook.
George remained in the RAF until 1969, and the picture below is of him shortly before his retirement, in the rank of Squadron Leader, still proudly wearing the Pathfinder badge.
More information on George Walker and the Dailey crew
Ruined or decayed wartime airfields are one of the most evocative sights in Britain. Inevitably many of them are now being built over. These pictures of Little Staughton, taken by Matt Barker in the summer of 2017, are full of atmosphere and the ghosts of the past. Little Staughton, 109 and 582 Squadrons