Crew of a Wellington after a raid, September 1939

Crew of a Wellington after a raid, September 1939

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Crew of a Wellington after a raid, September 1939

This picture shows the crew of a Vickers Wellington after the raid on Brunsbuttel and Wilhelmshaven in September 1939 portrayed in the film 'The Lion Has Wings'

8 Things You May Not Know About Louis Zamperini

1. He was a juvenile delinquent.
Born in January 1917 to Italian immigrant parents, Zamperini spent his youth as one of Torrance, California’s most notorious troublemakers. A smoker at age 5 and a drinker by 8, he built an adolescent criminal empire based around stealing anything that wasn’t nailed down from neighbors and local businesses. Zamperini blackened the eyes of any kids that dared challenge him, deflated a teacher’s car tires after she disciplined him and once even lobbed tomatoes at a cop. Family members were convinced he was headed for prison or the streets, but he finally abandoned his life of petty crime in high school, when a group of girls charmed him into joining the school’s track team. Encouraged by his older brother, Pete, he soon became one of southern California’s top athletes, and achieved a national high school record after blazing through a mile run in only 4 minutes, 21 seconds.

Zamperini competing in a 1939 track meet (Credit/AP Photos)

2. He met Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Olympics.
After graduating high school, Zamperini set his sights on competing in the 1936 Olympic games. Switching from his preferred 1,500 meters to the 5,000 meters, the “Torrance Tornado” made a good showing at the U.S. trials and became the youngest distance runner to ever make the Olympic team. At age 19 he was still too inexperienced to mount a challenge for gold, but during a Berlin Olympiad held in the shadow of the burgeoning Nazi empire, he finished eighth in his race and won over the crowd by laying down one of the fastest final laps in the history of the event. Among the impressed spectators was none other than Adolf Hitler, who shook Zamperini’s hand from his box and said, 𠇊h, you’re the boy with the fast finish.” Despite winning congratulations from the German 𠇏uhrer,” Zamperini wasn’t above getting into trouble during the Olympics. Before leaving Berlin, he was nearly shot while trying to swipe a Nazi flag from the Reich Chancellery as a souvenir.

3. He was a leading candidate to break the 4-minute barrier in the mile run.
Following his strong showing at the 1936 Olympics, Zamperini shattered collegiate records at the University of Southern California and became one its most celebrated student athletes. At the time, a sub-4-minute mile was considered a near-impossible feat, but as Zamperini’s profile grew, many began to whisper that he might be the man to pull it off. Former world record holder Glenn Cunningham tapped him to be “the next mile champion” in 1938, and Zamperini responded by going undefeated during his 1939 track season. He planned on gunning for gold and a potential miracle mile at the 1940 Olympics, but the contest was called off after the start of World War II. With his Olympic dream temporarily dashed, Zamperini enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1941.

Zamperini inspects his damaged B-24 bomber

4. He cheated death several times while serving as a B-24 bombardier.
During World War II, Zamperini served as a B-24 Liberator bombardier in the Army Air Corps’ 372nd Bomb Squadron. From his perch in the nose of a craft nicknamed “Super Man,” he flew several missions including a famous December 1942 air raid on Wake Island, after which his plane nearly ran out of fuel before limping back to Midway Atoll. During a subsequent bombing run over the tiny island of Nauru, Japanese Zero fighter planes attacked Zamperini’s B-24, seriously wounding several crewmen and killing one. Leaking hydraulic fluid, the shredded B-24 only narrowly avoided disaster during an emergency landing at the island of Funafuti. Zamperini and his crewmates later learned that their plane had been riddled with nearly 600 holes from enemy gunfire and shrapnel.

5. He spent 47 days lost at sea.
On May 27, 1943, Zamperini and his crew were participating in a search and rescue mission over the Pacific when their plane suddenly lost power to two of its engines and careened into the sea. Only three of the ship’s 11 crewmen survived: Zamperini, pilot Russell Allen Phillips and tail gunner Francis McNamara. Adrift on a pair of life rafts with only meager provisions, the trio spent the next several weeks braving blistering heat, hunger, dehydration and circling packs of sharks. On one occasion, machine gunners from a passing Japanese bomber strafed the airmen, deflating one of their rafts and leaving the other on the verge of ruin. Zamperini and his fellow castaways survived on rainwater and the occasional captured bird or fish, but all soon saw their weight drop below 100 pounds, and McNamara perished after 33 days at sea. Zamperini and Phillips remained adrift for another two weeks before being captured by the Japanese Navy near the Marshall Islands. By then, the men had drifted an astonishing 2,000 miles.

Former guards at the Ofuna prisoner of war camp in Japan bid farewell to liberated U.S. prisoners (Credit: Fox Photos/Getty Images)

6. He endured daily torment as a prisoner of war.
After being held for some six weeks on the island of Kwajalein, Zamperini was shipped to the Japanese mainland and eventually confined to three different interrogation centers and POW camps. Over the next two years, he suffered from disease, exposure, starvation, and near-daily beatings from guards. Japanese corporal Mutsuhiro Watanabe, nicknamed “the Bird” by the POWs, took particular glee in torturing the runner. During stints at the Omori and Naoetsu prison camps, Mutsuhiro pummeled Zamperini with clubs, belts and fists and regularly threatened to kill him. On one occasion, he had Zamperini hold a heavy wooden beam above his head and threatened to shoot him if he dropped it on another, he forced Zamperini and other American prisoners to punch each other until they were nearly all knocked unconscious. Speaking of Mutsuhiro, Zamperini would later say he kept a watch out for him “like I was looking for a lion loose in the jungle.”

Saturday, September 2, 1939

In Poland. Troops of German Army Group South (Rundstedt) troops are already over the Warta River in many places after rapid but expensive victories in the frontier battles. Krakow is now near the front line. In the north, 4th Army (Kluge) makes contact with the Third Army (Kuchler) from East Prussia. Two Polish divisions are destroyed while attempting to pull back through the Corridor. The Luftwaffe is spreading chaos in the Polish rear. The Polish regular troops have been stationed too far forward so the German advance is soon in their rear areas, preventing movement of reserves and completely dislocating any communication left unscathed by the repeated German air strikes in support of the ground forces. There are 6 air raids on Warsaw.

In London. Throughout the day there are frantic talks about how to oppose Germany. The British Parliament is openly opposed to the passive line that the Chamberlain government is taking and in the evening, the Cabinet decides to present an ultimatum to Germany. The National Service Act is passed, allowing for the conscription of all men aged 19-41.

In Paris. Deliberations on how to oppose the German invasion of Poland are held throughout the day. A French government decides to transmit an ultimatum to Germany. The government declares that it will fulfill its obligations to Poland.

In France. The British RAF Advanced Air Striking Force arrives. Some 10 bomber squadrons are involved in the deployment.

In Rome. Mussolini again declares Italian neutrality and calls for a 5-power peace conference.

In Berlin. The German government announces that Norwegian neutrality will be respected, provided that Britain and France do the same. Hitler rejects an offer to mediate the German-Polish dispute, made by Mussolini on August 31st and the proposal for a peace conference.

In Dublin. The Irish government declares its neutrality.

In Bern. The Swiss government orders a general mobilization.

Polish Aircraft in Active Service September 1939

The most successful squadron of the Polish Air Force was that of the Pursuit Brigade which fought against German planes during the Defensive War. On September 1 st , the Pursuit Brigade shot down 16 German planes, but lost 10 of its own. After six days, the total number of German planes shot down was 42, and the Poles tallied up losses of about 38 to 54 of its fighters. The Brigade was the main aerial reserve and was assigned to cover the city of Warsaw. After the sixth day however they were transferred to cover Lublin.

Weapons: P.7a carried two 7.92mm Vickers "E" machine guns

Most of the P.7a fighters were destroyed in 1939, either in combat or on the ground, while quite a number of them were evacuated to Romania. Several were captured by the Germans and used for training purposes.

Weapons: 2 x 7.7mm machine-guns, bombs

The Polish fighter squadrons were not bombed by the Germans on the 1 st of September 1939 as they were deployed to remote airfields. The P11 though at a great disadvantage in speed and numbers, fought against the German Messerschmitt Bf109 and Bf110. There was however one main advantage to Polish planes. They had better manoeuvrability and their design permitted an unobstructed view from the cockpit, unlike that of German planes. The P11 was solidly built and could operate well on short and even rough fields. It could dive at a speed of 600 km/hr without risk of the wings falling apart. The only limitation in such manoeuvres was whether the pilot could sustain the high G forces.

Despite German air superiority, the P11’s performance is to be respected as they shot down a considerable number of German planes, and fighters. However, the Poles suffered heavy losses in the process. According to the Luftwaffe records, a total of 285 German aircraft were lost, and about 110 victories are attributable to the P11 while Poles lost about 100. (The exact statistics are not fully verified.) However, the German aircraft that was shot down was later recovered and put back into service. In this way the Luftwaffe was able to claim smaller losses.

The first Polish aircraft to be shot down on September 1 st was a PZL P.11c flown by Capt. Mieczyslaw Medwecki. Twenty minutes later Medwecki's wingman, Wladyslaw Gny shot down two Dornier Do17s with his P.11c. The PZL P.11c has the honour of being the first aircraft to successfully ram enemy aircraft in the Second World War.

Fact File : Air Raid Precautions

After World War One, military experts predicted that in any future war there would be large-scale bombing of the British civilian population, resulting in huge casualties. In April 1937, an Air Raid Wardens' Service was created. By the middle of 1938 about 200,000 people were involved, with another half a million enrolling during the Munich Crisis of September 1938. By the outbreak of war there were more than 1.5 million in the ARP (Air Raid Precautions), or Civil Defence as it was later re-named.

The most visible members of the ARP were the air raid wardens. ARP posts were initially set up in the warden’s home, or in a shop or an office, but they were later purpose-built. Each post covered a certain area, varying across the country, but with about ten to the square mile in London. Each post was divided into sectors, with perhaps three to six wardens in each sector. An ARP warden was almost always local - it was essential that he or she knew their sector and the people living there.

Since no significant German air raids followed the outbreak of war in September 1939, the main duties of the ARP wardens in the early months were to register everyone in their sector and enforce the ‘blackout’. This meant making sure that no lights were visible which could be used by enemy planes to help locate bombing targets. These activities led to some ARP wardens being regarded as interfering and nosy.

However, during the Blitz of 1940-1 wardens and other civil defence personnel proved themselves indispensable and heroic. Whenever the air raid sirens sounded, the wardens would help people into the nearest shelter and then tour their sector, usually in pairs, at considerable risk from bombs, shrapnel and falling masonry. They would also check regularly on those in the air raid shelters.

In the aftermath of a raid, ARP wardens would often be first on the scene, carrying out first-aid if there were minor casualties, putting out any small fires and helping to organise the emergency response. Other members of the Civil Defence services included rescue and stretcher (or first-aid) parties, the staff of control centres and messenger boys. Their work often overlapped with the fire and medical services and the WVS (Women's Voluntary Service).

A small percentage of ARP wardens were full-time and were paid a salary, but most were part-time volunteers who carried out their ARP duties as well as full-time jobs. Part-time wardens were supposed to be on duty about three nights a week, but this increased greatly when the bombing was heaviest. One in six was a woman, and amongst the men there were a significant number of veterans of World War One. At the beginning of the war, ARP wardens had no uniform, but wore their own clothes, with the addition of a steel helmet, Wellington boots and an armband. In May 1941 full-time and regular part-time wardens were issued with blue serge uniforms.

The Civil Defence services, including the ARP wardens, were maintained through the war. There were still hundreds of thousands of volunteers in June 1944, although the numbers of full-time personnel had fallen from 127,000 at the height of the Blitz to 70,000 by the end of 1943. In all 1.4 million men and women served as ARP wardens during World War Two.

The fact files in this timeline were commissioned by the BBC in June 2003 and September 2005. Find out more about the authors who wrote them.

Crew of a Wellington after a raid, September 1939 - History

Air Operations RAF Wick
Part One - September 1939 - December 1940
P R Myers

The R.A.F. base at Wick was originally a grass airfield used by Captain E. E. Fresson's Highland Airways Ltd. (later Scottish Airways Ltd.) from 1933 until 1939 when it was taken over by the Air Ministry and reconstructed with hard runways, hangars, and other buildings. Wick, along with its satellite airfield at Skitten, became one of fourteen airfields extending from Iceland to North Yorkshire administered by No. 18 Group, R.A.F. Coastal Command with its headquarters at Pitreavie, Fife.

An army of three hundred labourers was employed in constructing the airfield which prematurely came into commission with the outbreak of War in September 1939. Until proper accommodation at the airfield could be provided, R.A.F. personnel were billeted in the town at hotels and private houses. The Air Ministry also requisitioned the newly completed North School for use as the airfield's operations centre and the Bignold Hospital for the treatment of the wounded and the sick.

The task allotted to Coastal Command was the protection of the sea lanes surrounding Britain, and the nation's lifelines for virtually every commodity across the Atlantic Ocean. This immense task was to continue every day and night until well after the end of the War in 1945. Coastal Command had already been fully mobilised a fortnight before the beginning of hostilities and on the day War was declared, many patrols were airborne covering the North Sea, the Channel and the Western Approaches.

The first R.A.F. Squadron to be based at Wick, and indeed to enjoy the longest association with the aerodrome, was No. 269 Sqn. of Coastal Command. In October 1939, No. 269's Avro Ansons moved from Montrose to Wick to begin General Reconnaissance patrols over both the Atlantic and the North Sea. The slow, but reliable and manoeuvrable Anson was the backbone of Coastal Command in its early years and was affectionately known as "Faithful Annie" by its crews. The crews of Wick's Ansons soon became well known to the isolated lighthouse keepers in the Orkneys. Newspapers and magazines were dropped to the grateful recipients who expressed their gratitude by waving their arms or displaying a large sheet with "Thank you" written on it.

The monotonous patrolling of our northern waters by the Ansons brought the occasional chance to hit back at the enemy. In 1jovember, two U-boats were attacked while a month later, on 8th December 1939, at 9.30 a.m., far to the North-West of Cape Wrath, a 269 Sqn. Anson spotted a U-boat on the surface and dropped two bombs on it. The first fell a yard to starboard of the conning-tower, the second into the swirl of air and water caused by the submarine crash diving. After a short interval the U-boat came to the surface and her bows rose at an angle which grew steeper and steeper until its hull was almost vertical. Then the submarine sank stern first and was considered to be a total loss.

During November/December 1939, a detachment of Handley Page Hampdens from Bomber Command's No. 50 Sqn. was based at Wick for operations with No.19 Group. These aircraft formed part of a force of 48 Hampdens which mounted what was to have been the biggest air strike of the War so far, against the German pocket battleship "Deutschland" which had been reported heading south of Stavanger. A search for their quarry proved fruitless and owing to navigational errors, the Hampden force thought they had over- shot the North coast of Scotland and were heading for a watery grave in the Atlantic. With fuel running low, the Hampdens finally landed at Montrose after an absence of ten hours from base.

In September 1939 the Royal Navy anchorage at Scapa Flow was lamentably ill protected to resist air attack. Although there was the Royal Naval Air Station at Hatston near Kirkwall, air cover from the Fleet Air Arm could only be provided when the Home Fleet was in. No provision had been made for immediate R.A.F. participation in the defence, and the shore Radar station, although operative, was not wholly effective. It was planned to base two R.A.F. fighter squadrons at Wick but in the aftermath of the dramatic sinking of the battleship "Royal Oak" on 21st October 1939, this number was increased to four squadrons. The first three fighter squadrons, Nos. 43, 111 and 504, all equipped with Hawker Hurricanes, arrived in February, 1940, although it was not until the Spring that it was considered safe to allow the return of the capital ships of the Home Fleet while in the meantime Scapa Flow was used as a destroyer refuelling base.

Early Luftwaffe attacks had been concentrated upon shipping off the North coast of Scotland and an early victim of these attacks was the s.s. "Giralda" of Leith which was bombed and sunk three miles south-east of Grimness, South Ronaldsay on 30th January 1940. A more fortunate ship to survive aerial bombs and machine-gun fire was the valiant 1,211 tons coastal cargo liner "Northern Coast" which was hit several times on 20th March but retaliated with her Lewis guns and succeeded in damaging one of the German bombers which was finished off by a Hurricane scrambled from Wick. The badly crippled coaster was reduced to a mere crawl but Capt. Quirk laid a course for Kirkwall some thirty miles away. A Hurricane escorted the stricken "Northern Coast" as her brave crew pumped gallons of water into the blazing holds. The haven of Kirkwall Bay was reached where Capt. Quirk received a heartening message from R.A.F. Wick: "Hearty congratulations on your courageous fight. Shout if you want us again."

By January 1940, No. 269 Sqn. was flying 150 patrol sorties a month and in February the Squadron made six attacks on U-boats, one being claimed as probably destroyed. The intensity of enemy activity is measured by the fact that patrol sorties by 269 Sqn. rose to 200 in March, a month which also saw the arrival of the first Lockheed Hudson for the Squadron and which first went on operation on 21st April. The Anson was already considered obsolescent for G.R. duties in Coastal Command and was steadily being replaced by the American built Hudson which had first entered R.A.F. service in May 1939. Throughout the War the versatile Hudson was to perform a whole variety of roles and became the Coastal Command aircraft most closely associated with Wick in the early years of the War. A vivid personal impression of a fighter pilot's life at Wick during this period is given in Group Captain Peter Townsend's autobiography "Time and Chance". He was then a flight commander with No. 43 Sqn. and recalls how the fighter pilots "stood guard throughout the long northern days and, during the bitter cold of the night, slept briefly, fitfully, under rough blankets and newspapers. Not that the hard lying was a bad thing - it made it easier to go out, face the weather and the enemy and, if need be, die".

The wooden huts offered only primitive comfort and outside the frequent storms dragged the aircraft from their pickets. Townsend describes the unbearable tension the pilots suffered as they sat in their cockpits waiting to be scrambled: "When at last the code word 'SCRAMBLE' unleashed us, we surged forward, throttle wide open, tails up like baying hounds. Only a kill could satisfy our lust for the chase." Townsend saw himself as "an agent of death" and there was plenty of prey for the Hurricane pilots of No. 43 Sqn. The day before the German invasion of Denmark and Norway, saw two Luftwaffe attacks mounted on Scapa Flow on 8th April, 1940. Hurricanes from No. 43 Sqn. were alerted and intercepted the raiders, shooting down three Heinkel He111s and damaging two others, one of which landed at Wick. The latter Heinkel had been badly damaged by anti-aircraft fire over Scapa Flow and with its fuel tanks leaking, had little chance of returning to its base in northern Germany without having to ditch in the North Sea. It was intercepted by two Hurricanes to whom the German pilot surrendered before landing his damaged bomber at Wick. Tight security surrounded the Heinkel's capture since the Luftwaffe should not learn of the seizure of the bomber's code-books which were recovered intact and could be used to intercept enemy signals. Of the four crew, two were killed and were buried in Wick cemetery while the two uninjured men were kept overnight in the cells of Wick police station before being transferred south. It is not known whether this Heinkel was evaluated by the Royal Aircraft Establishment which already possessed an airworthy Heinkel He111H which had been repaired after crash landing near Berwick in February 1940.

Three days after the German seaborne invasion of Norway, a Wellington Mk.1 bomber on loan to No. 18 Group from No. 75 (New Zealand) Sqn. took off from Wick on 12th April 1940 on a long range reconnaissance flight beyond the Arctic Circle to the German occupied port of Narvik, where two days previously, British destroyers had fought German destroyers in the first naval battle of Narvik. Poor visibility, strong gusts of wind, compass error, and an entanglement with a Junkers Ju.88 hampered the mission but expert navigation enabled the aircraft and its exhausted crew to return safely to Wick after a flight lasting fourteen and a half hours This was the longest operational flight made by a Wellington up to that date.

The onset of the Norwegian campaign saw No. 269 Sqn.'s Hudsons in the thick of the action. They attacked shipping and U-boats in the fjords and bombed Stavanger airfield in May with the loss of one aircraft. On 11th June, twelve of the Squadron's Hudsons attacked the "Scharnhorst" in Trondhjem Fjord. They carried out a pattern bombing attack from 15,000 feet, dropping 36 250lb. armour-piercing bombs. The "Scharnhorst" was probably missed but two cruisers and a supply ship received direct hits. Two Hudsons were lost, one to anti-aircraft fire and the other to an enemy fighter.

In that same month a detachment of Bristol Beaufort torpedo-bombers from No. 42 Sqn, arrived at Wick for operations against the German Navy. On 21st June nine Beauforts from Wick, loaded with armour-piercing bombs rather than torpedoes, attacked the "Scharnhorst" at Trondhjem. Flying in a crescent formation, they dive-bombed the battle-cruiser, scoring three hits which forced the "Scharnhorst" to retire to Keil for repairs where she remained out of action for the rest of the year. The Beauforts did not get off lightly three were shot down by Bf.109s while the rest got back safely to Wick.

With the impending fall of France, Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding withdrew his precious fighter squadrons back to Britain which was against both the wishes of the French and Prime Minister Churchill. After only ten days in France, No. 3 Hurricane Squadron was transferred to Wick in May 1940. On Eagle Day, 13th August, which marked the beginning of the German offensive against Britain, No. 3 Sqn. under the command of Squadron Leader S. F. Godden, formed part of the Wick Sector Station's strength which also included No. 504 Hurricane Squadron at Castletown and No. 232 Hurricane Squadron at Sumburgh (on half-squadron basis only).

As the Battle of Britain raged above southern England, the defences of Britain were prepared for an imminent German invasion. An inspection of the island stronghold's defences was made by the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Lieutenant-General Alan Brooke during the critical month of August. On 27th August, Brooke arrived by air at Wick where he inspected the airfield's defences and the local beaches at Reiss. Visits were also paid to Skitten airfield, to Thurso and its neighbouring beaches and then on to Castletown airfield before flying back to Evanton near Invergordon.

In spite of its comparative remoteness from the Blitz, Wick was not entirely immune from the attentions of the Luftwaffe. On 26th October 1940, three Heinkel He111s made a surprise raid on the airfield and on the town itself. High explosive bombs were dropped on or near the airfield and one Hudson was set ablaze. Despite the bombing and machine-gun strafing, the casualty list was mercifully low with three civilians being unfortunately killed and eleven others escaped with minor injuries.

Following their attack upon the "Scharnhorst", the Beauforts of No. 42 Sqn. were grounded owing to engine problems and it was not until August that operations were resumed with mining sorties. However there was no let-up for the Hudsons of No. 269 Sqn. and in July 1940, Pilot Officer Weightman destroyed a U-boat on the 21st. Two days later, four combats were fought with Dornier Dol8 flying-boats, one being shot down. In August, one of the three U-boats attacked was destroyed the pressure kept up with 204 sorties being flown in September. Bad weather was Coastal Command's most persistent enemy and this reduced No. 269 Sqn.'s operations in October and November. Tribute must be paid to the tireless work of the groundcrews who kept Wick's aircraft airworthy. Most of the maintenance work was carried out in the open and aircraft were only brought into the hangars for major repairs.

RAF and Commonwealth Air Forces AIR81

This is a database of AIR81 Records. Courtesy of Paul McMillan. The data is being cross linked to the CWGC DB.. Work in Progress.

AIR81/1Pilot Officer W J Murphy, Flight Lieutenant W F Barton, Flying Officer H L Emden, Flying Officer H B Lightoller, Flying Officer J F Ross, Aircraftman 1st Class R Evans, Sergeant L R Ward, Sergeant S G M Otty, Corporal J L Ricketts, Aircraftman 2nd Class E Pateman, Sergeant O L D Howells, Aircraftman 1st Class E W Lyon and Sergeant A S Prince: report of deaths. Sergeant G F Booth and Aircraftman 2nd Class L J Slattery: prisoners of war. Pilot Sergeant R C Grossey: missing presumed dead raid by Blenheims N6199, N6184, N6186, N6189 and N6240 on Wilhelmshaven, 4 September 1939. Note: With identity discsC14141980
AIR81/2Sergeant D E Jarvis, Acting Sergeant B G Walton, Flight Sergeant A J Turner, Aircraftman 2nd Class G T Brocking and Aircraftman 2nd Class K G Day: report of deaths raid by Wellington L5275 on Brunsbuttel, 4 September 1939.C14141981
AIR81/3Pilot Officer L H Edwards: prisoner of war. Leading Aircraftman J Quilter, Sergeant A O Heslop and Aircraftman 1st Class G Sheffield: missing presumed dead Anson K6183 failed to return from patrol over the North Sea, 5 September 1939.C14141982
AIR81/4Flight Sergeant I E M Borley, Sergeant G Miller, Corporal G W Park, Aircraftman First Class H Dore and Aircraftman Second Class R Henderson: missing presumed dead Wellington L4268 failed to return from a raid on Kiel Canal, 4 September 1939.C14141983
AIR81/5Pilot Officer M L Hulton-Harrop: report of death Hurricane L1985. Pilot Officer F C Rose: uninjured Hurricane L1980 forced to land near Ipswich, 6 September 1939.C14141984
AIR81/6Pilot Officer F C Rose: uninjured Hurricane L1980 forced to land near Ipswich, 6 September 1939.C14141985
AIR81/7Aircraftsman 1st Class G Slade: report of death mine explosion at Hebron, Palestine, 4 September 1939.C14141986
AIR81/8Flight Sergeant F H Stubbs: injured. Leading Aircraftman E M Mould: uninjured Hardy K5915 attacked by an armed Arab gang whilst on a reconnaissance flight outside Haifa, 3 September 1939.C14141987
AIR81/9Pilot Officer A B Thompson, Squadron Leader S S Murray, Aircraftman 1st Class S A Burry, Aircraftman 1st Class P F Pacey and Sergeant C A Hill: prisoners of war Whitley K8950 forced to land in Germany, 9 September 1939.C14141988
AIR81/10Acting Flight Lieutenant W C G Cogman, Pilot Officer A W Mack, Sergeant G T Henry, Aircraftman 1st Class A Steel and Corporal S R Wood: prisoners of war Whitley L8985 forced to land in Belgium, 9 September 1939.C14141989
AIR81/11Pilot Officer D S M Burrell: report of death Anson K6317 in an attack on an enemy flying boat, 19 September 1939.C14141990
AIR81/12HMS Courageous: sank with RAF personnel on board, 17 September 1939.C14141991
AIR81/13Flying Officer R C Gravely: injured. Aircraftman 1st Class D J John and Sergeant W S Everett: report of deaths Battle K9242 in action over France, 20 September 1939.C14141992
AIR81/14Flight Sergeant D A Page, Sergeant A W Eggington and Aircraftman 1st Class E Radford: report of deaths Battle K9245 action over France, 20 September 1939.C14141993
AIR81/15Acting Wing Commander I M Cameron, Sergeant T C Hammond and Aircraftman 1st Class T Fullerton: report of deaths Blenheim N6212 shot down near Osnabruck, 28 September 1939. Note: With photographsC14141994
AIR81/16Flying Officer D A Strachan, Sergeant W M Gunn and Aircraftman 1st Class J Bateson: missing presumed dead Blenheim N606 failed to return from a reconnaissance flight near Munster, Germany, 28 September 1939.C14141995
AIR81/17Sergeant R E Herd: report of death. Wing Commander J C Cunningham, Sergeant A E C Povey, Sergeant N M Kirkus, Sergeant H H Turner, Aircraftman 1st Class J Anthony, Sergeant W H Stephens, Sergeant C B Sproston, Aircraftman 1st Class A Wilson, Flying Officer N C Beck, Flying Officer R Turner, Flying Officer J T B Sadler, Flight Sergeant S Williams, Acting Sergeant C G Williams, Aircraftman 2nd Class S Isherwood and Aircraftman 1st Class J W Cumming: missing presumed dead. Aircraftman 1st Class H Liggett, Pilot Officer R D Baughan, Pilot Officer R M Coste and Sergeant R L Galloway: prisoner of war Hampdens L4127, L4121, L4134, L4126 and L4132 shot down, 30 September 1939.C14141996
AIR81/18Sergeant J H Vickers: report of death from wounds Battle K9271 in action over France, 27 September 1939.C14141997
AIR81/19Flying Officer J R Hollington, Sergeant R S Pitts: report of deaths. Aircraftman 1st Class A Bathgate and Aircraftman 1st Class G Rout: missing presumed dead Hudson N7216 failed to return from an operational flight, 30 September 1939.C14141998
AIR81/20Squadron Leader W M L MacDonald: uninjured. Sergeant F H Gardiner and Aircraftman 1st Class A Murcar: injured Battle K9283 30 September 1939.C14141999
AIR81/21Sergeant L B Webber: uninjured. Flying Officer F M C Corelli and Aircraftman 1st Class K V Gay: report of deaths Battle K9387 in air operations in France, 30 September 1939.C14142000
AIR81/22Pilot Officer M A Poulton, Sergeant T A Bates and Aircraftman 2nd Class H E A Rose: injured Battle N2028 in air operations in France, 30 September 1939.C14142001
AIR81/23Acting Flight Lieutenant A E Hyde-Parker, Aircraftman 1st Class D E Jones: injured. Sergeant W L F Cole: report of death Battle N2093 in air operations in France, 30 September 1939.C14142002
AIR81/24Pilot Officer J R Saunders, Aircraftman 1st Class D L Thomas report of deaths. Sergeant G J Springett: prisoner of war Battle K9484 shot down by German anti-aircraft fire, 30 September 1939.C14142003
AIR81/25Flying Officer A C MacLachan: prisoner of war. Aircraftman 2nd Class R V Britton and Sergeant W B Brown: report of deaths Blenheim N6231 shot down near Petershagen, 1 October 1939. Note: With photographsC14142108
AIR81/26Acting Flight Lieutenant J W Allsop, Pilot Officer A G Salmon, Aircraftman 1st Class J R Bell, Aircraftman 1st Class A F Hill and Leading Aircraftman F Ellison: missing presumed dead Whitley K9018 in air operations over the North Sea, 2 October 1939.C14142109
AIR81/27Wing Commander H M A Day: prisoner of war. Sergeant E B Hillier and Aircraftman 2nd Class F G Moller: report of deaths Blenheim L1138 shot down near Ibar Oberstein, 13 October 1939. Note: With identity discC14142110
AIR81/28Pilot Officer K G S Thompson, Sergeant G W Marwood and Aircraftman 2nd Class A Lumsden: report of deaths Blenheim mark IV N 6160 crashed near Dreiborn, Germany, 13 October 1939. Note: With photographsC14142111
AIR81/29Flying Officer M J Casey, Sergeant A G Fripp and Aircraftman 2nd Class J Nelson: prisoners of war Blenheim L1141 landed by parachute in Germany, 16 October 1939.C14142112
AIR81/30Flying Officer R Williams: report of death. Flying Officer J Tilsley, Corporal A R Gunton, Sergeant J W Lambert and Leading Aircraftman R E Fletcher: prisoners of war Whitley K8947 shot down over Germany, 17 October 1939. Note: With photographsC14142113
AIR81/31Squadron Leader C Thripp: missing presumed dead SS Yorkshire torpedoed on 17 October 1939.C14142114
AIR81/32Acting Pilot Officer A D Baird and Flight Lieutenant G W Garnett: missing presumed dead. Corporal R A Wilson: report of death. Aircraftman 2nd Class J P Smith: wounded Anson N5204 shot down by Allied aircraft, 27 October 1939. Note: With bulletC14142115
AIR81/33Pilot Officer P E W Walker, Aircraftman 1st Class A B B MacDonald, Aircraftman 1st Class J A Topham, Sergeant R A Bigger and Sergeant G J Burrell: missing presumed dead Whitley N1258 failed to return from an operational flight, 24 October 1939.C14142116
AIR81/34Aircraftman 2nd Class R J Pickering: injured by anti-aircraft fire Blenheim N 6224 30 October 1939.C14142117
AIR81/35Aircraftman 2nd Class B Crann injured Blenheim N6236 attacked whilst on a reconnaissance flight, 30 October 1939.C14142118
AIR81/36Pilot Officer W G McCracken, Sergeant S R Mitchell and Aircraftman 1st Class R Smith: report of deaths Blenheim N6234 shot down near Meppen, Germany, 30 October 1939.C14142119
AIR81/37Flight Lieutenant A A Dilnot, Sergeant E H Crellin and Aircraftman 1st Class J S Burrows: report of deaths Blenheim L6694 shot down near Malborn, Germany, 30 October 1939.C14142120
AIR81/38Flying Officer D F Elliot, Sergeant K B Crew and Aircraftman 1st Class J A Garrick: report of deaths Blenheim L1415 failed to return from a reconnaissance flight, 30 October 1939. Note: With photographsC14142121
AIR81/39Aircraftman 1st Class C Wilson: killed in action. Leading Aircraftman A J Saffin, Acting Flight Lieutenant J M H Sinclair, Corporal D D Kane, Pilot Sergeant T E Page and Aircraftman 1st Class J C Lewis: missing presumed dead London K9686 failed to return from a patrol flight, 3 November 1939.C14142122
AIR81/40Pilot Officer A D Morton, Sergeant G Storr and Aircraftman 1st Class F A Twinning: report of deaths Blenheim L1145 shot down near St Johann, Germany, 6 November 1939.C14142123
AIR81/41Pilot Officer H R Bewley, Sergeant S McIntyre and Aircraftman 2nd Class T P Adderley: prisoners of war Blenheim L1325 failed to return from an operational flight, 7 November 1939.C14142124
AIR81/42Pilot Officer R F Martin: interned after Hurricane L1959 landed in Luxembourg, 8 November 1939.C14142125
AIR81/43Pilot Officer G B Mitchell: report of death Hurricane L1907 failed to return from air operations, 9 November 1939.C14142126
AIR81/44Pilot Officer H J R Dunn: interned Hurricane L1619 landed near Courtrai, Belgium, 10 November 1939 escaped and rejoined unit on 24 November 1939.C14142127
AIR81/45Squadron Leader J A B Begg , Sergeant R Walsh, Sergeant C Thomas, Aircraftman 1st Class H Laybourne and Aircraftman 1st Class H Taylor: report of deaths Whitley N1364 crashed near Bouxurelles, France, 10 November 1939.C14142128
AIR81/46Pilot Officer B A Martyr, Sergeant G H B Taylor and Aircraftman 2nd Class D W Barker: missing presumed dead Blenheim N6145 failed to return from a reconnaissance flight, 11 November 1939.C14142129
AIR81/47Acting Flight Lieutenant R E Mills, Sergeant F W Doodey and Aircraftman 1st Class G J Johnson: missing presumed dead Blenheim N6150 failed to return from a reconnaissance flight, 11 November 1939.C14142130
AIR81/48Flying Officer Richard Lindsay Glyde: interned Hurricane 1813 landed near Coxyde (Koksijde), Belgium, 14 November 1939 escaped and rejoined unit on 24 November 1939.C14142131
AIR81/49Squadron Leader W Coope: interned Hurricane 1628 landed near Le Parme (as recorded on the original document), Belgium, 14 November 1939 escaped and rejoined unit on 24 November 1939.C14142166
AIR81/50Pilot Officer R J Melville-Townsend, Aircraftman 1st Class A N Smith and Pilot Officer M O Howell: Blenheim L6647 crash landed crew reportedly killed by tribesmen near Irka, Aden, 18 November 1939.C14142167

Copyright and database rights in this section are the property of the UK National Archives. They are acknowledged as the source of the material.

Wellington L4288

More than 11,400 Wellington bombers were produced by Britain in WW 2, more than any other bomber ever built in this country. Only two examples remain in museums. In 1982/3 the museum recovered considerable remains from Wellington I L4288 from marshland near the village of Sapiston, Suffolk (above). The wreckage held by the museum is thought to be the largest Wellington I remains in existence. The fuselage centre section, nacelles and wing spars make this an extremely substantial wreck. A complete Pegasus XVII radial engine and propeller were also recovered and have been stripped down and restored by museum staff. The L4288 remains now form the centrepiece of the new RAF Bomber Command display building at Flixton. L4288, piloted by S/L L S Lamb, was one of two Wellington aircraft from No.9 Squadron which crashed following a mid-air collision near RAF Honington on 30th October 1939. All nine crewmen were killed, and the graves of five can be seen at Honington Churchyard.

The remains of Wellington L4288

Vickers Wellington – A History and Survivors

When most people think of Bomber Command in World War Two attention instantly turns to the Lancaster or the Halifax. But before these four engined work horses came along there was another aircraft which provided the nations offensive back bone, the Vickers Wellington.

In 1932 the government released Specification B.9/32, which called for a twin engined medium bomber to be desinged and built. In October of that year Vickers presented its claim to this new specification. The result was the Vickers type 271, which caused a few waves when its construcion method was announced. The aircraft would make use of the complex geodetic metalwork design, which designer Barnes Wallis had pioneered during his airship design days.

The Wellington prototype, K4049, leaps into the air, the design is certainly far removed from what we came to know. – Image Credit

This method of construction had been tested extensivley at Farnborough and was deemed to be one of the strongest available at that time. Purely based on the promise strength of the constuction the Air Ministry ordered a prototype to be made. On the 15th June 1936, Mutt Summers got airborne in B.9/32 prototype K4049 at Brooklands for what would be the first flight of the Wellington.

Prototype Wellington, K4049, seen here at Brooklands in 1939. – Image credit

Though the aircraft had the same basic design as what we now identify as a Wellington it looked quite different, void of any turrets and featuring a tail borrowed for a Supermarine Stranraer. K4049 featured two 915hp Bristol Pegasus X’s for power. Initally known as the Crecy, a number of design modifications were carried out and the aircraft was eventually accepted in August and was given the name Wellington.

Tragically � never completed the full testing program as she was lost in April 1937 in an accident. In October 1938 the first MkIs entered service with No.9 squadron and it was with this squadron, along with No.149 that Wellingtons and Bristol Blenheims carried out the first RAF Bombing attack of the war, against German shipping on the 4th September 1939. During these first initial missions in late 1939 it became apparent that the Wellington was extremeley vunerable to German fighters as it had no defence other than directly in front and behind.

A flight of Wellingtons posting for the cameras – Image Credit.

On one mission over Heligoland Bight on the 18th December twelve Wellingtons were destroyed with three others suffering damage. By August 1940 Wellingtons had been moved on to night bombing missions, where they were less vunerable, and carried out the first night raid over Berlin on the 25th August 1940. One impressive statistic that really makes one appreciate the dominant force that the Wellington was during the difficult early years of the war is that on the first 1000 bomber raid over Cologne on the 30th May 1942, 599 of the aircraft were Wellingtons.

The Vickers design was not just limited to Bomber command however, Coastal command variants were used as anti-submarine aircraft, sinking their first enemy vessel in 1942. The Wellington was also the first long range bomber to be used in the Far East when they were deployed to India in 1942.

Aside from its operational duties the Wellington also played its part in the testing for the Bouncing Bomb. One of Barnes wallis’ later designs, and of course more famous, was the bouncing bomb famously used by the Dambusters in may 1943. Wallis used a Wellington to carry out test runs of the bomb at Reculver in Kent.

The production line shows off the unique construction of the Wellington design. – Crown Copyright.

In 1944 a Wellington XVI was trialled as an airborne early warning control aircraft, guiding Beaufighters and Mosquitos to HE111 bombers carrying V1 flying bombs.

An often modelled version of the wellington was the DWI version, fitted with a distinctive magnetic hoop around the aircraft, this was used to explode enemy mines through the use of a magnetic field. Another interesting variant was the Mk IV which featured a pressurised cockpit, this modification gave the Wellington a very strange appearance.

The Wellington DWI with the distinctive hoop surrounding it.

Though the original prototype and Mk I aircraft were powered by Bristol Pegasus’, later models were also powered by the Bristol Hercules, Pratt and Whitney Twin Wasp as well as the Rolls Royce Merlin. This shows how versatile an aeroplane the design was.

A Merlin Powered Wellington Mk II seen from the air. – Crown Copyright

Despite being the most numerous British bomber of the second world war, with 11,461 built, only two complete examples remain. One at Brooklands in Surrey and the other with the RAF Museum. The latter is currently under long term restoration at the Cosford Branch.

Wellington X MF628 – Royal Air Force Museum:

MF628 on Display at the Abingdon RAF 50th Anniversary review in 1968. A rare shot of the aircraft outside. The training nose can be seen in this shot too. Image Credit

Built in 1944 this Wellington was one of 3804 MK X’s to be built, flying from Blackpool on the 9th May. From Blackpool she was delivered to No.18 Maintenance Unit in Dumfires.From here records of the aircraft are unclear, though there is record of two flights carried out at RAF Northolt in June 1944, which was cited as the aircrafts base in the flight logs.

It is unknown why � ended up at Northolt but it is assumed these flights were followed by a period in storage until 1948. In March 󈧴 she was converted to a T.X training standard by Boulton Paul. This conversion involved removing the front turret as well as refitting the interior for training use, the rear turret and bomb doors were left in place during this process.

In April 1949 � was allocated for service with NO.1 Air Navigation School at RAF Hullavington and was used to navigation training and practice bombing. She continued in a training role until the 14th December 1951 when she suffered Cat 4 damage in an accident, but was soon sent to Sywell for repairs. In october 1952 it was back to front line service, arrving at 19 MU at RAF St. Athan, however by this time Wellingtons were slowly being replaced by the new Varsity.

In January 1953 she was placed on the non-effective register but was retained in airworthy condition, narrowly avoiding the scrap man, being saved by a local engineering officer. In June of 1953 she apparently put on the most impressive flying display at the Royal Aeronautical Society’s 50 years of aviation Garden Part at Hatfield, before being placed back into storage at St Athan. Another brief appearance came in 1953 with a battle of britain display at St Athan and a flypast at RAF Aston Down, both on the 19th September.

On the 5th April 1954 she was once again pulled out of storage, this time flying to RAF Hemswell to take part in the filming of the Dambusters film, being used as a camera aircraft. Following this deployment it was finally time for the aircraft to be grounded, with the final flight being carried out with a delivery to Wisley in January 1955 �s career ended and with it so did the history of flying Wellingtons. In 1957 she was finally transfered to current owners, the Royal Air Force Museum and moved to Hendon.

Some basic preservation work was carried out in the years that followed including replacing all the navigation panels with original examples. In 1959 she was noted at Heathrow in the BEA Comet hangar, where further restoration work was carried out by the Historic Aircraft Maintenance Group.

After a few years spent at the Maintence Unit at Bicester the airframe ended up at Biggin Hill and was on static display at the Battle of Britain day in September 1964.

This appearance was followed by further storage as well as a repaint and recovering before going on display at the RAF 50th Review at Abingdon in June 1968, where the aircraft suffered damage.

With this damage repaired � was finally placed on permanent display at Hendon in October 1971.

Over the years work continued to give the airframe a bomber appearance, this was helped dramatically with the inclusion of a Frazer Nash FN5 front turret, which was added in January 1981.

On display in the Bomber Command Hall at Hendon for a number of years the airframe was slowly dismantled in June 2010 so a major rebuild could begin. This restoration project is still ongoing at RAF Museum Cosford and the aircraft is not on regular public display.

R for Robert – N2980

R for Robert on display at Brooklands.

The Heligoland raid outlined above was disastrous for bomber command with a huge loss of machines and crew. One aircraft that did survive however was N2980, at the time flying with 149 Squadron wearing the code letter “R”.

Following time with 149 the aircraft was transferred over to 37 squadron where it saw service in 14 more missions before being assigned to No.20 Operational Training Unit at RAF Lossiemouth. This new posting came with a new role as a navigator training machine. It was while on one of these training sorties, with six trainee navigators on board that � developed an engine problem. The two pilots, Squadron Leader L Marlwood-Elton and Pilot Officer Slatter, gave the order for the crew to bail out the aircraft. All but one of the crew survived, sadly Sgt. Fensome, who had been in the rear gunners positioned died when his parachute failed to open.

The aircrafts original construction is clearly on show here.

Flying among the Scottish Highlands doesn’t give much room for landing a stricken aircraft so the only option would be the water, in this case, Loch Ness. The ditching was successful and both pilots made it back to shore, the Wellington sank to the bottom of the lake.

The bottom of the lake is where R for Robert would have stayed, had it not been for a chance sighting of the wreck on a sonar scan in 1981 which showed the airframe was still in amazingly good condition. Plans were put together to raise the aircraft and this was carried out successfully on the 21st September 1985.

R for Robert is displayed in a partly covered state, offering fascinating views.

What came out of the lake was a largely complete airframe, though it was missing the rear fuselage between the wings and the tail. Following transportation to Brooklands, where the aircraft was first built restoration work began. This work included manufacturing new geodetic structure to fill gaps where there was no suitable material or simply none at all. What the team at Brooklands achieved is remarkable, doubling the world population of a rare and important aircraft is always a good thing.

R for Robert is the only of the two surviving Wellingtons to have seen active service and has the illustrious claim of having been first flown by Mutt Summers, Vickers’ chief test pilot and famously the first to fly the Spitfire as well. An amazing piece of history.

Thats the Wellington story as it sits these days, there are a number of large components from crashed airframes still around. Next week I will take a look at an exciting project that will hopefully add to the Wellingtons numbers one day.


Personnel of the 91st Bomb Group at a Parade at Bassingbourn to celebrate their second year in the European Theatre of Operations, 17 September 1944. Image by Dale J Darling, 91st Bomb Group. Written on slide casing: 'Parade- 17/9/44 Bassingbourn.'

Staff Sergeant Walter Dager, a tail gunner of the 91st Bomb Group with his B-17 Flying Fortress at Bassingbourn airbase. Image stamped on reverse: '246383' [Censor no]. Passed for Publication 1 Feb 1943 [stamp]. Printed Caption on reverse: 'Some of the airmen from America who are taking part in the daily raids on enemy occupied territory and Germany, in their giant high altitude aircraft the "Flying Fortress" capable of carrying a 11,000 [censor has amended figure to 10,000] pound bomb load. Photo shows - Staff Sgt. Walter Dager (Indiana) rear-gunner. who has shot down a F.W.190 during daylight raid on Germany. FOX 43. 2.'

Ground crew of the 91st Bomb Group refuel a B-17 Flying Fortress (DF-G, serial number 42-5069) nicknamed "Our Gang", at Bassingbourn. Image stamped on reverse: '246365' [Censor no]. Passed for Publication 1 Feb 1943 [stamp]. Printed Caption on reverse: 'Some of the airmen from America who are taking part in the daily raids on enemy occupied territory and Germany, in their giant high altitude aircraft the "Flying Fortress" capable of carrying a 11,000 [censor has amended figure to 10,000] pound bomb load. Photo shows - A giant petrol wagon filling up engines of a Fortress. FOX Feb. 4.'

Personnel of the 91st Bomb Group wait in a crew truck at Bassingbourn. Image stamped on reverse: 'Passed for publication 11 Nov 1943.' [stamp] and 'Copyright Photograph supplied by New York Times.' '292369.' [Censor no] Printed caption on reverse: 'NEW YORK TIMES PHOTO SHOWS:- Scenes at a FIGHTER & BOMBER STATION somewhere in England. Outside their transport lorry.'

The crew of a B-17 Flying Fortress (OR-T, serial number 42-5077) nicknamed "Delta Rebel No II" at Bassingbourn. Image stamped on reverse: ’Reviewed and Passed U.S Army 24 Mar 1943 Press Censor No 21 E.T.O. U.S.A.' [stamp]. 'Passed for publication 24 MAR 1943 INTLD 32 Central Section Press Censorship Bureau' [stamp on appendage]. 'Associated Press' [stamp]. '254760' [Censor no]. Printed caption on reverse: 'FORTRESSES DAY RAID ON WILHELMSHAVEN The German naval base at Wilhelmshaven was successfully attacked in daylight March 22 by American Flying Fortresses and Liberators. This was the third heavy raid for the U.S. bombers on Wilhelmshaven despite strong fighter opposition the bombers battled their way to the target and dropped their loads of explosives. Three bombers were lost. Associated Press Photos show: Crew of the Delta Rebel which had just completed its 21st operational flight WCR (6 PIX) 23343. Note to Photo Censor, we have names and home-towns for all men photographed including interrogating officer . If any objection to use of names please advise.'

First Lieutenant Harold Beasley and his crew from the 91st Bomb Group, return to Bassingbourn after flying a raid on Antwerp in a B-17 Flying Fortress (LG-T, serial number 42-5724) nicknamed "Thunderbird". Image stamped on reverse: 'Copyright by Planet News Ltd 3 Johnson's Court London E.C.4.’[stamp], 'Passed for Publication 6 Apr 1943' [stamp].'256837' [Censor no]. Printed caption on reverse: 'Photo shows:- 1st Lieut Harold Beasley (centre) with members of his crew on their return from the Antwerp raid. And April 6th 1943 PN.' Press caption for image series: ‘EXCLUSIVE PICTURES AS CREWS RETURN FROM RAID. Night and Day air blitz of enemy continues. “Forts” smash Axis factories at Antwerp. Raid carried out by crews who took part in Paris raid previous day. The greatest air offensive in history is being carried out by the Anglo-American air forces. For 72 hours bombs have been crashing down on Hitler’s Europe in the West almost nonstop. Axis Factories, ports and shipping have felt the weight of allied bombs. On Sunday American Fortresses raided the Renault works at Billancourt, near Paris with telling effect. On Monday the same crews took part in a smashing attack on the Erla plane engine works at Antwerp, where Minerva car engines used to be made. In addition to the great damage inflicted by the heavy weight of the bombs a number of German Fighters were shot down by the bombers. One of the American Fortresses piloted by 1st Lieut Harold H Beasley of Andalusia, Alabama shot down four German fighters in the Paris raid and another one during the Antwerp Raid. NOTE TO CENSOR: This is the general story for the series of pictures herewith. Each of which bears its individual descriptive caption. Planet News. USAF Facility Visit. 6 Apr 1943.’

An airman* of the 91st Bomb Group admires a pin-up painted on the nose of a B-17 Flying Fortress (LG-D, serial number 44-6578) nicknamed "Rusty Dusty". Handwritten caption on reverse: '91/322. 44-6578.' * Believed to be 1st Lt Edward H Davidson but the airman is not in officer's uniform. He is more likely to be part of the aircraft's ground crew.

Ground crew of the 91st Bomb Group survey the wreckage of Lieutenant Kuehl's crashed B-17 Flying Fortress (OR-S, serial number 42-31513) nicknamed "Lucky 13" at Bassingbourn. 5 April 1944. Handwritten caption on reverse: ' # 4427. B-17. 23153. AFTER BURNING.'

A B-17 Flying Fortress of the 91st Bomb Group lands at Bassingbourn, 19 March 1943. Image stamped on reverse: 'The Aeroplane.' [stamp], 'Passed for publication 19 Feb 1943.' [stamp] and '254315.' [Censor no.] Printed caption on reverse: 'Boeing Fortress II in squadron service in Great Britain.'

Personnel of the 91st Bomb Group and local civillians hold a party to celebrate two years of the 91st Bomb Group at Bassingbourn. October 1944. Printed caption on reverse: 'Bassingbourn 2nd anniversary party Oct 1944. Invited neighbors and other friends. 3 day party, with Glenn Miller, Chicken and ice cream.'

Watch the video: The first thousand-bomber raid, Cologne