No. 35 Conversion Flight

Research Notes

No. 35 Conversion Flight formed at Linton-On-Ouse in February 1942 to train crews to fly the Handley Page Halifax.

By July 1942, it had worked up to a strength of 3 Officers, 5 Airmen (aircrew trades) and 112 Airmen (Ground Trades). Four Halifax I were on charge of the squadron (L9571, L9575, L9606 and L9607) and three Halifax II (R9370, R9381 and W1006)

In August 1942, flying practice was transferred to RAF Eastmoor, due to construction work at Linton-On-Ouse. Halifax II (R9493) was taken on charge

In September 1942, the unit moved to Marston Moor and then to RAF Rufforth. Halifax W7806 was taken on charge

In October 1942, the unit moved back to Marston Moor and it was disbanded (becoming part of No. 1652 Heavy Conversion Unit) .Halifax W1234 was taken on charge.

The record books show the following instructors were posted and pupils attached to the flight. It is worth noting that the pupils shown are the Captains of aircraft and that their crews were also attached at the same time

FebruaryInstructorsEG Franklin / PS James
PupilsReed / HGB Mays / CC Spencer
MarchInstructorsEG Franklin
PupilsHGB Mays / CC Spencer / Booth / Tweddle / Pack / Stringer
AprilInstructorsEG Franklin / DSS Wilkerson
PupilsBooth / Mackenzie / Astbury / Granger / Boyle / Bonnar
MayInstructorsEG Franklin / DSS Wilkerson / AP Hollick
PupilsMacKenzie / Peveler / Newitt / Boyle / Watson / Brough / Casey / Drower
JuneInstructorsEG Franklin / AP Hollick / RT Langton (@)
PupilsMacDonald / Reeve / Maple / Dobson / Woolven / Murray / John
JulyInstructorsEG Franklin / AP Hollick / RT Langton (@)
PupilsMurray / PH Smith / John / JW Smith / Caldwell / Saunders / Howe
AugustInstructorsEG Franklin / RT Langton (@) / SD Jones / LDH Izzard (Signals) / JK Corke (Navigation) / W Walker (Gunnery) / FA Hough (Flight Engineer)
PupilsBrown / Caldwell / Saunders / Owen / Webster / Kerry / Beveridge / Thomas / O’Neill / Wilkes
SeptemberInstructorsEG Franklin (replaced by P Johnson) / RT Langton (replaced by WHN Balley) / SD Jones / LDH Izzard (replaced by A Linton) (Signals) / JK Corke (Navigation) / W Walker (Gunnery) / WGL Brown (Gunnery) / FA Hough (Flight Engineer)
PupilsWebster / Thomas / Beveridge / Herbert / Peters / Sawatzky / O’Neill / Elliott (Refresher) / Rees / RHB Gamble / Wood / Allan / Bell / NS Black
OctoberInstructorsP Johnson) / WHN Balley / A Linton (Signals) / JK Corke (Navigation) / W Walker (Gunnery) / FA Hough (Flight Engineer)
PupilsRHB Gamble / Wood / Allen / Bell / NS Black / Carver / Hatley / Fisher / Lea / Rank / Bertram / Hickson / Grubert /

Aircraft Equipment (WWII)

RESEARCH NOTES

The following provides information on the equipment used, or carried, by squadron aircraft during WWII. In some instances, the equipment continued to be used post war

Air Position Indicator

The Air Position Indicator was a device designed to maintain the continuous and automatic air plot of the aircraft. It indicated the air position of an aircraft, at any point during flight (latitude and longitude).

Air Position Indicator

Boozer

Boozer was an onboard warning device. An aerial fitted to the tail provided a warning signal when the aircraft was being tracked by German airborne or ground radar [From 1943]

Carpet

Carpet was an airborne jamming device used to jam German Wurzburg ground radar

Fishpond

Introduced in October 1943 [in conjunction with H2S], “Fishpond” was a visual display which was installed to provide early warning of enemy fighters beneath the aircraft.

The transmitter/receiver TR3191 and the Indicator Unit 182A were situated in the Wireless Operator’s station.

fishpond-in-halifax-echoes-of-war-book

Fishpond Indicator Unit in the Halifax [Source: Echoes of War]

Fishpond Unit fitted in the Lancaster

Gee

Introduced in 1942, Gee was a medium range radar navigation aid using ground transmitters (Gee Chains) and onboard cathode ray receiver.

The system, which had a range of up to 350 miles, measured the time delay between two radio signals sent from the Gee Chains to provide the navigator with a fix.

gee-equipment-national-air-force-museum-of-canada

R1355 receiver and the Indicator Unit 62A (far left).

An example of a Gee Chart

Ground Position Indicator (GPI)

H2S

H2S was an airborne scanning radar and target location aid (also known as Nav. Aid Y) which provided a visual image of the target at night and through cloud cover. It was used for the first time by the squadron by six aircraft on an operation to Hamburg on 30th January 1943

Identification Friend or Foe (IFF)

Transmission of a blip to British Radar Stations to identify that the aircraft was friendly

Loran

Loran was a long range radar device, similar to Gee

Monica

Introduced in June 1943, “Monica” was a radar device which was fitted to the tail of the aircraft to provide an audible warning over the intercom when enemy fighters were in close proximity to the aircraft (Max Range: 4 miles).

The audible warning was subsequently replaced by a visual display [Visual Monica] situated in the Wireless Operator’s station.

It was withdrawn in June 1944 when it was established that German radar could pick up its signals.

Oboe

Oboe was a ground controlled radar blind bombing system, incorporating two ground stations to track aircraft and indicate the designated bomb release point

Wireless Telegraphy

The Wireless Operator’s station was equipped with a R1155 receiver which enabled him to listen to (and log) half hourly messages sent from Group headquarters which were transmitted in Morse code via MF [over UK] or HF [over Europe].

There was also a T1154 transmitter (with Morse key) to enable him to transmit messages. At the start of the war, this was used to transmit a message regarding aircraft status after the bombing run but this procedure was stopped and the transmitter was subsequently only utilised in an emergency.

Wireless Station (National Air Force Museum of Canada)

Positioned in the Halifax (National Air Force Museum of Canada)

Positioned in the Lancaster [IWM_CH_8790]

It is worth noting that a transmitter / receiver was also positioned in the rear of the aircraft which enabled the pilot to communicate by voice with:

  • the airfield
  • other aircraft in the same group
  • other aircraft in the same command
  • “Darky” Emergency

Window

“Window” was bundles of aluminium foil designed to interfere with enemy radar systems. It was manually discharged through a chute in the floor of the aircraft

window_-_lancaster_dropping_window

Ordnance Descriptions

RESEARCH NOTES

The following is a list of abbreviations used in describing ordnance utilised by No. 35 Squadron:

  • C/P: Cluster Projectiles
  • GP: General Purpose
  • HC: High Capacity
  • MC: Medium Capacity
  • TI: Target Indicator

"Missing Airmen" Procedure

RESEARCH NOTES

Immediate Activity

When an aircraft did not return from an operational sortie, the squadron would immediately inform Bomber Command, the Air Ministry and the RAF Records Office that the aircraft and crew were missing.

Examples of the messages sent (unrelated losses)

A telegram, along with a follow up letter from the Commanding Officer, was sent to the next of kin of each crew member, advising them that he was “missing as the result of air operations”.

The crew’s kit and personal belongings were removed from their lockers and catalogued; kit was returned to stores and personal belongings sent to the RAF Central Depository at RAF Colnbrook.

Subsequent Activity

The Air Ministry Casualty Branch [(P4 (Cas)] received documents, communiques etc from various sources which enabled it to carry out its role of investigating, monitoring and reporting on the status of missing airmen.

Sources included:

  • German propaganda broadcasts
  • German Totenliste
  • Other documents from German Authorities
  • International Red Cross listings

Example POW Listing

The Casualty Branch provided the next of kin with updated information as and when it became available

In addition, the Air Ministry issued regular listings showing the latest information regarding airmen, which were published in newspapers / magazines – more details –

Presumption of Death

If there was no information about an airmen after a period of time (usually six months after he was reported missing), the Air Ministry initiated the “presumption of death” process so that a death certificate could be issued; personal belongings could then be sent to next of kin, along with any monies due.

Post War Activity

After the war, the Casualty Branch continued to work with its Missing Research and Enquiry Service (MRES) teams to try to locate the remains of missing airmen so that they could be exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) in a Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery in the country that they fell (which was Government policy at the time)

AGLA

RESEARCH NOTES

The following article from “THE MARKER”, written by Group Captain “Dixie” Dean (January 1950), tells the story of 35 Squadron’s custom of using the word “Agla” to wish each other luck on operations during WWII.

A former squadron pilot has confirmed its usage, but it has not been possible to find any additional information, nor any photographs showing its usage.


Agla

“First thing to do is admit that I haven’t got a clue what Agla means. For many years now I have always evaded giving a direct answer to the question by a knowing wink and an air of profound mystery but now I have to put on record that the result of a long investigation has proved that not only do I not know, but neither does anyone else! I feel that I can acknowledge this shortcoming because a recent enquiry was submitted to the Daily Telegraph information service by the Pathfinder Association and no trace of its origin was known.

Agla means a lot to the older members of 35 Squadron.  It was a fact that no crew went on operations without Agla. Agla was everywhere. Agla was the magic word for any and every crew. Agla always went. The method was simple, Agla was just chalked on the sleeve of the battle dress, or the front of the Mae West. It had to be freshly chalked for each operation and whilst the crews were hanging about waiting for crew buses, lots of pieces of chalk would be passed around, as the aircrew busily agla’d each other.

It didn’t stop there, for Agla could be seen written on the fuselage of every 35 Squadron aircraft, just under the tail plane

It all began about the time the Squadron moved to Graveley in the latter half of 1942. The Squadron was equipped with aircraft paid for out of funds collected by the ruler and citizens of Madras, and was, of course, known as The Madras Presidency Squadron. One day, the Potentate paid us an official visit, during which he is reputed to have said ” To you I say Agla,’ which means “God be with you.” Mind you. I never met anyone who actually heard him say this, but it was generally accepted as the origin.

Now, I was quite satisfied myself. It seemed to work too, certainly as far as I am concerned, but a little while ago I was browsing through a magazine which was featuring a story on witchcraft, illustrated by several old prints depicting unpleasant-minded people raising merry hell for their neighbours by devious means. One especially nasty looking character had had a particularly successful evening, judging by the varied assortment of demons surrounding him. His method was to draw a circle in the sandy soil by means of a stick, and, dividing up the circle, he proceeded to draw all sorts of strange signs and devices. I took a closer look and, prominent in the design, there it was—Agla

That is why I have written this. That is why I must find out more about Agla. I do hope somebody can clear the whole thing up. The mail will, I trust, produce a letter with the real meaning. Let’s hope it is not signed by Old Nick himself!


Suggested Possible Origins:

  • A word from the Kabala formerly used by rabbis for exorcisms of the evil spirit. It is made up of the initial letters of the Hebrew words, Athah gabor leolam, Adonai, meaning, “Thou art powerful and eternal, Lord.” Among superstitious Christians, it was also a favourite weapon with which to combat the evil one as late as the sixteenth century. It is found in many books on magic.
  • From Hindi: Forward or Advance
  • From Urdu (which at the time of the Raj was one of the two official languages taught to Indian Army officers): Forthcoming

Aglavilla

One airman’s memoirs (AJ Vial) states that the ramshackle hut used by the servicing flight was known as Aglavilla. It is not known if this has any connection with the use of the word Agla by the crews.

35 Squadron Reunion Photograph

A photograph in the June 1949 Marker Magazine shows a 35 Squadron reunion, where Agla is clearly remembered

CWGC Database Errors

RESEARCH NOTES

The following airmen are incorrectly shown on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database as serving with No 35 Squadron at the time of their deaths.

The Commission has been advised of the errors, but, to date (February 2020), has not corrected them.

George Cuthbert (937504)

Research shows that he lost his life whilst part of the crew of Wellington T2993 (No. 38 Squadron) on 20th April 1941

Henry Marshall Murdo (1060255)

Research shows that he was a Wireless Op./Air Gunner who lost his life whilst part of the crew of Wellington W5442 (No 12 Squadron) on 9th March 1942

Disposal of Flying Log Books


RESEARCH NOTES


Prior to the Second World War, Flying Log Books of deceased officers and airmen were forwarded to next of kin when no longer required for official purposes. However, on the outbreak of war, this practice was discontinued for the duration of hostilities.

Log Books of missing or deceased aircrew completed during this period were forwarded to the RAF Central Repository at Colnbrook Slough Bucks, where they were recorded and kept in safe custody. A similar practice was observed for the Log Books of personnel who were declared as prisoners of war.

In January 1946 authority was given by the Air Ministry for the release of the Log Books of members of RAF aircrew [1] whose service ended in one of the following ways:

  • By discharge or release from the service.
  • By Death.
  • Subject to approval by permanent withdrawal from air crew duties.

The decision was widely publicised both in newspapers and on the radio and the next of kin of deceased aircrew were encouraged to request the Flying Log Book of their late relative.

Those Flying Log Books that still remained at the repository were retained after the war until 1960. At this point it was again widely advertised to the public that the Flying Log Books still held could be claimed by airmen or their next-of-kin.

Of those left unclaimed, a small number were preserved as examples, and these are now held at the National Archives in the Air 4 Series. The remainder were destroyed in late 1960.

Note: It is not clear if this procedure applied to flying log books of Commonwealth personnel

POW Resettlement (RAF)

RESEARCH NOTES

POW Resettlement – Stage I

All RAF POW were met at the UK ports and airports where they were processed by embarkation officers who were responsible for their welfare and disposal.

Processing included dis-infestation (if required), feeding and the provision of adequate clothing (if needed) and a pay advance.

They were provided with a pamphlet containing information regarding the reception centre and a welcome message from the King.

In addition, they were permitted to send a telegram / postcard stating “ARRIVED SAFELY, SEE YOU SOON”

If they were sick or wounded, they were transported to hospitals around the country; they were “posted” to No. 1 Personnel Holding Unit for administrative purposes.

The remainder were transported to No. 106 Personnel Reception Centre (POW) at Cosford [1] where they were registered, medically examined, and provided with paperwork such as identity cards, ration cards and clothing coupons. The POW Liberation Questionnaires (held at the National Archives) were completed during this stage.

If they were deemed medically fit they were granted 42 days leave [2].

Notes:

[1] Other Commonwealth airmen were transported to designated Reception Centres throughout the country

[2] Leave, which was initially set at 28 days, was increased to 42 days in May 1945. In addition, a system of call ups and leave periods had to be introduced to cope with the volume of personnel and the number of available spaces at each centre.

POW Resettlement – Stage II

After their leave period they were required to return to Cosford to attend a medical board.

If the board decided that they needed “toning up” they would be posted to No. 4 Medical Rehabilitation Unit (Cosford) before progressing to Stage III. If they did not need “toning up” they would proceed to Stage III.

POW Resettlement – Stage III

Personnel who had completed Stages I and II were dispersed via one of the following routes:

  1. To Refresher Centres, for all who expressed a wish to remain in Service and were medically fit (Four Centres No. 109 to No. 112)
  2. To direct release, for those who wished to leave the RAF and were eligible to do so, and who could show that civil employment was actually available (via No. 104 PDC, Hednesford)
  3. To Resettlement Centres [1], for those eligible for release but for whom no ready-made employment was available (Four Centres No. 113 to No. 116) based at Scarborough, Rugby, Ascot and Chorley.
  4. To selected postings arranged by the Air Ministry

Notes:

[1] “Those entering the centre stayed for three months and then most were readily able to return to civilian employment. The former prisoners were allowed to wear either their uniforms or civilian clothes and the only compulsory activities were lectures and discussions focused on changes that had occurred in society over the period of their imprisonment. A wide range of educational and vocational courses were on offer and much emphasis was placed on getting the men involved in sports.”

POW Camp Movements

RESEARCH NOTES

The following shows some of the POW Camp Movements relating to RAF personnel during WWII

Stalag Luft I, Barth (June 1940 to May 1945)

  • July 1941: 50 Officers transferred to Oflag X-C
  • September 1941: NCO transferred to Stalag VIII-B
  • March 1942: 100+ Officers transferred to Stalag Luft III
  • April 1942: 700 NCO transferred to Stalag Luft III
  • July 1942: 150+ NCO transferred to Stalag Luft III
  • October 1942: 200 NCO arrived from Stalag Luft III
  • October 1943: 1200 NCO transferred to Stalag Luft VI
  • December 1943: All Officers and NCO moved from South to West Compound
  • April 1945: Liberated by Red Army (30th April)
  • May 1945: Prisoners flown out by B-17 (C-46 for sick) from Barth Airfield 13th – 15th May 1945 (Operation Revival)

Stalag Luft II, Litzmannstadt

  • September 1944: Personnel transferred to Stalag Luft III

Stalag Luft III, Sagan (From 1942 to January 1945)

  • 21/03/1942: East Compound (RAF Officers and Orderlies) opened 100+ arrived from Stalag Luft I
  • April / May 1942: Personnel arrived from other camps
  • By Summer 1942: Centre Compound (NCO) opened
  • 24/07/1942: 150+ NCO arrived from Stalag Luft I
  • October 1942: 200 NCO transferred to Stalag Luft I
  • 01/04/1943: North Compound (for Officers) opened (East Compound Officers transferred)
  • 20/06/1943: 1000 (from Centre Compound) transferred to Stalag Luft VI
  • January 1944: 500 transferred to Belaria
  • September 1944: Personnel arrived from Stalag Luft II
  • 27/01/1945: Evacuated
  • January / February 1945: Long Marches (3000 to Stalag III-A, Luckenwalde and 2500 to Marlag und Milag Nord, Westertimke)

Stalag Luft IV, Gross Tychow (July 1944 to January 1945)

  • Late 1944: 900 arrived from Stalag Luft VI
  • February 1945: Evacuated.
  • February 1945 / April 1945: “Black March” to Stalag 357

Stalag Luft V, Halle

Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug (June 1943 to July 1944)

  • 20/06/1943: 1000 NCO arrived from Centre Compound, Stalag Luft III
  • October 1943: 1200 NCO arrived from Stalag Luft I
  • July 1944: Evacuated, most to Stalag 357, Thorn; 900 prisoners were taken to the port of Memel, where they were put aboard the merchant ship Insterburg for a 60-hour journey to Swinemünde. After another train journey, the men were force marched from Kiefheide to Stalag Luft IV, Gross Tychow

Stalag Luft VII, Bankau (June 1944 to January 1945)

  • 19/01/1945: 1565 NCO Evacuated
  • 19/01/1945 to 08/02/1945: March to Stalag III-A

Stalag IV-B, Muhlberg (August 1943 to May 1945)

  • August 1943: 105 arrived from Stalag VII-A (diverted from Stalag VIII-B due to a typhus outbreak there)
  • 22/04/1945 to 22/05/1945: Liberated [some via Halle to Rheims (C-47 Dakota) to Bicester (Lancaster), majority via Halle to Brussels (C-47 Dakota) to one of UK designated airfields]

Stalag VIII-B, Lamsdorf (May 1940 to January 1945) renamed Stalag 344 in 1943)

  • April / May 1942: RAF prisoners transferred to the newly opened Stalag Luft III
  • 1943: Personnel transferred to Stalag VIII-C, Sagan and Stalag VIII-D, Teschen (renamed Stalag 344 at this time)
  • 22/01/1945: Camp Evacuated (03/02/1945 arrived Stalag VIIIA, Gorlitz / 27/02/1945 Column Attacked / 01/03/1945 split to Stalag IX-B, Stalag IX-C or Stalag IX-A)
  • 06/03/1945: Sick Evacuated

Stalag 357, Thorn (July 1944 to August 1944)

  • July 1944: Arrivals from Stalag Luft VI
  • August 1944: Relocated to Fallingbostel

Stalag 357, Oerbke (Fallingbostel)

  • 10/08/1944: Arrivals from Stalag 357, Thorn
  • April 1945: Evacuated
  • April 1945 / May 1945: Long March
  • April 1945: Column involved in Gresse Incident

Stalag 383, Hohenfels

D-Day Commitments

RESEARCH NOTES

Logbook1a

Extract from a Flying Log Book from the period (GW Hatton [Flight Engineer])

The following, which is extracted from the squadron’s Operations Record Book, summarises No 35 Squadron’s commitments to the D-Day landings

3rd / 4th June

  • Sixteen aircraft were detailed for operations but the order was cancelled later in the day

4th / 5th June

  • No activity

5th / 6th June

  • Shortly after midnight, fourteen aircraft took off to attack Coastal Gun Sites, five aircraft at Maisy and nine at Longues. All returned safely, reporting successful attacks

6th / 7th June

  • Two aircraft, acting as Master Bomber and Deputy Master Bomber respectively, took off at 23.10 hours to attack the rail head at St Lo. Both returned to base reporting a reasonably successful raid
  • Soon after midnight, two aircraft set out to attack Chateaudun, carrying out duties as Master Bomber and Deputy Master Bomber. The attack appeared to be concentrated as the result of the Master Bomber’s carefully directed instructions.

7th / 8th  June

  • Sixteen aircraft took off shortly before midnight to attack an ammunition dump at Foret-de-Cerisy. All the aircraft returned safely and reports indicated fairly concentrated bombing

8th / 9th June

  • Fifteen aircraft took part in attacks on marshalling yards, nine aircraft at Fougeres and six at Mayenne. Acting as Master Bomber and Deputy Master Bomber in the raid on Mayenne, two of the squadron’s crew reported a most concentrated and powerful attack.

9th / 10th June

  • Shortly after midnight, of sixteen aircraft detailed to attack the aerodrome at Rennes, one failed to take off. The remainder, including the Master Bomber and Deputy Master Bomber of the attack, reported accurate bombing after the Master Bomber had given instructions to bomb below cloud level at 6500 feet
  • Sixteen aircraft were detailed for operations, but the instruction was later cancelled.

10th / 11th June

  • Eight aircraft carried out an attack in difficult conditions on the marshalling yards at Paris. The Master Bomber, SL EH Chidgey, had to come down to 2700 feet in order to give clear and correct instructions
  • A further eight aircraft attacked the marshalling yards at Tours. Again 9//10ths cloud made accurate bombing difficult but all attacked and returned safely

11th / 12th June

  • No activity

12th / 13th June

  • Sixteen aircraft were detailed for operations, but the number was later reduced to eight. Ten minutes after midnight, the first aircraft took off to attack marshalling yards at Arras. Two squadron crews acted as Master Bomber and Deputy Master Bomber respectively; the raid appeared to be accurately executed and all aircraft returned safely to base.

13th / 14th June

  • No activity

14th / 15th June

  • Thirteen aircraft were detailed for operations, but the number was later reduced to eight, which soon after midnight, took off to attack a military choke point at Evrecy. In clear weather and good visibility, excellent results were observed by the Master Bomber and Deputy Master Bomber. One aircraft was hit in the nose by anti-aircraft fire, the air bomber Sgt Haagensen, suffering a wound in his back which necessitated his removal to hospital

15th / 16th June

  • In the evening, sixteen aircraft took off, nine to attack oil storage installations at Fouillard and seven to bomb marshalling yards at Lens. Both raids appeared to be most successful and all the aircraft returned safely

Attack on the Tirpitz (March and April 1942)

RESEARCH NOTES

Extracts from No. 35 Squadron’s Operations Record Book regarding the attacks on the Battleship “Tirpitz” (which was moored in Fættenfjord, Norway) in March and April 1942

MARCH OPERATIONS

27/03/1942

On 27th March 1942, 13 aircraft and crews and about 130 ground personnel were instructed to move to an advanced base (Kinloss)

30/03/1942

On the night of 30th March 1942, 12 aircraft took part in a raid over the Norwegian Coast; 3 of these aircraft (captained by Bushby, Archibald and Steinhauer) failed to return


APRIL OPERATIONS

Details may now be given regarding the movement of aircraft, air crews and ground crews to Kinloss which was used as an advance base for the attack on the Battleship “Tirpitz”

21/04/1942

On 21st April 1942, 115 Officers, NCOs and airmen ground personnel took leave for RAF Station Kinloss, which was to be used as an advance base for an attack on the Battleship “Tirpitz”.

22/04/1942

On 22nd April, eleven aircraft and crews flew to Kinloss.

23/04/1942 to 26/04/1942

No information recorded

27/04/1942

Eleven aircraft and crews, lead by Wing Commander J.H. Marks took off from KINLOSS at approx. 20.20 hours to make a low level attack on the Battleship ‘TIRPITZ’. The crews found difficulty in sighting the target owing to an effective smoke screen being laid, but the outcrop of rock which was known to be sheltering the “TIRPITZ” was definitely seen by several of the crews and the following reports were given:

  • Aircraft captained by W/Cdr. MARKS, S/Ldr. CRIBB, and P/O. GARDINER stated “Mines dropped believed on TIRPITZ – Target obscured by smoke screen
  • F/ Lt. PETLEY and crew reported “Did not locate Fjord where TIRPITZ was, so dropped mines on unidentified ship in TRONDHEIM FJORD”
  • F/O LANE and crew “Mines dropped in position believed between land and ship. Target obscured by smoke screen”.
  • P/O ROE and crew “Mines dropped in the vicinity of target possibly to port. Target obscured by smoke screen.
  • Sgt BROWN and crew stated “Mines jettisoned as aircraft was hit by flak and losing height just west of TRONDHEIM
  • S/LDR WILDING gave “Mines jettisoned at entrance of Fættenfjord owing to intense flak
  • F/O JONES and crew stated “Mines dropped in estimated position of TIRPITZ, obscured by smoke screen.

The two remaining aircraft are missing no news being received from them since the time of take off. They were as follows:

28/04/1942

At approx. 20.35 hours, seven aircraft and crews took off to attack the TIRPITZ again, three actually reached the target and flew in at low level but owing to the heavy smoke screen, the ship was obscured, However, it was estimated that all mines were dropped on or around the TIRPITZ.

W7658 Captain S/Ldr Wilding and W.1049 Captain F/O. JONES both developed engine trouble about an hour after take-off so they jettisoned mines safe in the sea and returned to Base. (No crew sortie)

Nothing was heard of the remaining two aircraft after leaving Base and they are therefore posted as missing.

29/04/1942

W/Cdr. MARKS and crew together with F/O LANE took up the search along with other aircraft for the two lost aircraft and searched unceasingly for nine and a half hours but without avail, none of the aircraft sighted the lost crews or dinghies.

Brief Summary of Pathfinder Techniques and Roles

RESEARCH NOTES

In 1942, a number of measures were introduced in an attempt to improve the accuracy of bombing, one of which was the introduction of the Path Finder Force (PFF) to mark the target for the main force bombers.

Over the next few years various techniques and crew roles were introduced as the marking process evolved.

The crews

Each member of the crew was specially trained to operate as part of a “navigation team” and to utilise aircraft equipped with the latest navigation aids to meet the PFF objectives of;

  • accurately navigating to the target area (*)
  • arriving at the time specified in the briefing
  • marking the aiming point with coloured indicators (flares or target indicators) so that the main force bombers could identify where to release their bombs during their bomb run.

(*) For a short while, the PFF crews were required to drop markers along the route to indicate turning points, but this was quickly stopped when it was established that the Germans were using the markers to identify the location of the bomber stream

The various techniques

Various techniques, codenamed Parramatta, Musical Parramatta, Newhaven and Wanganui, were developed to deal with the different target types and the weather conditions over the target at the time of the attack. Crews would be told which technique was to be used during the briefing before the operation.

The various roles

Irrespective of their role, each PFF crew was expected to meet the PFF objective of navigating and reaching the target at the specified time. Once there, each crew had a specific role to perform, based on previous experience.

In principle, a new crew would be given the role of Bomber or Supporter which meant that it had to be ready to start its bombing attack as soon as the aiming point had been marked by the Markers.

As the crew gained experience it would progress to one of the marking roles.

The marking role allocated to each crew typically contained up to three elements (1) the “wave” that the aircraft would be assigned to (2) the method by which the target had to be identified and (3) the marking role to be performed.

  1. Due to the sheer numbers of aircraft involved in each operation, the main force had to be broken down into “waves” and it was therefore necessary for PFF aircraft to be assigned to either the first “Primary” wave or the subsequent “Secondary” wave(s) to ensure that indicators were visible to all main force aircraft throughout the raid.
  2. There were two methods by which the target / aiming point could be identified “Visual” or “Blind”. If the crew were assigned to visual identification, it could only drop its flares or target indicators (TI) when it had visually identified the target / aiming point using the bombsight. If the crew had been assigned to blind identification, it could only drop its flares or target indicators (TI) when it had identified the target / aiming point using its navigation equipment. (It is worth noting that if a crew was unable to locate the target using its assigned method, it was required to bring the indicators back).
  3. Marking in each wave was carried out in a set sequence to ensure accuracy and continuity and crews were assigned to the roles of Illuminators, Markers, Backers-Up or Re-Centrers. Each role dictated which type / colour of flare or target indicators that would be carried. The sequence was as follows:
  • Illuminators would identify the target area and then drop their flares so that the Markers could clearly identify the aiming point(s).
  • Markers would drop their coloured target indicators on the aiming point(s) so that the Bombers, Supporters and Main Force aircraft knew that this was the point at which they needed to release their bombs.
  • Backer-Ups would drop their coloured target indicators on top of those already laid down by the Markers to ensure continuity throughout the attack. Re-Centrers would be used to perform this task when the target indicators being dropped were no longer on the correct aiming point and therefore had to be repositioned.

Examples of allocated roles

Based on the above, roles shown in documents from the period show up to three elements such as:

  • Primary Blind Marker
  • Primary Visual Marker
  • Blind Illuminator
  • Visual Illuminator
  • Backer-Up

Master Bomber / Deputy Master Bomber

Each raid was co-ordinated by a Master Bomber or a Deputy Master Bomber (who acted as a standby replacement for the Master Bomber).

The Master Bomber would orbit above the target during the raid, advising PFF crews by radio (voice) on where to drop their target indicators (particularly if the attack had gone off target) and advising the main force crews on which colours they should use as their release point.

Briefing

As previously mentioned, the technique to be used was briefed to the crews before the operation. Crews were also advised on which target indicator colours would be used and their meaning.

The following is an example from a briefing:


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

An Air Bomber’s Task List

An Air Bomber’s Release Control Instructions

An Air Bomber’s Target Map

1945 Bomber Command Directives

RESEARCH NOTES

January 1945

The 15th January 1945 directive reiterated that the overall mission was “the progressive destruction and dislocation of the German military, industrial and economic system and the direct support of land and naval forces”.

The directive set out the priorities as:

  1. Petroleum Industry
  2. The German lines of communication
  3. Industrial areas
  4. German Air Force (primarily its jet production, training and operational establishments)
  5. U-Boat Organisation

April 1945

The 16th April 1945 directive stated that the main mission of the Strategic Air Forces was “direct assistance to the land campaign”

The directive set out the priorities as:

  1. Petroleum Industry
  2. The German lines of communication
  3. German Air Force (primarily its jet production, training and operational establishments)
  4. U-Boat Organisation

Hostilities in Europe ceased on 8th May 1945 and the Post War Clean Up Began


1944 Bomber Command Directives

RESEARCH NOTES

January 1944

The 28th January 1944 directive stated that until a further ruling has been given by the Combined Chief of Staffs, RAF Bomber Command, in so far as is practicable, is to direct its effort to the attack of selected towns associated with the production of German fighter aircraft and ball-bearings.

Targets included Schweinfurt, Leipzig, Brunswick, Regensburg, Augsburg and Gotha.

February 1944

The 17th February 1944 directive reaffirmed that the overall mission was “the progressive destruction and dislocation of the German military, industrial and economic system, the disruption of vital elements of lines of communication and material reduction of German air combat strength”

Targets listed in the January 1944 directive remained of the highest priority for Bomber Command along with Berlin and other important industrial areas.

March 1944

The 4th March 1944 directive set out targets for the moonlight period prior to Operation Overlord.

Targets included Friedrichshafen, various railway installations (Trappe, Aulnoye, Le Mans, Amiens / Longeau, Courtrai and Laon), the airfield at Montdidier and ammunition dumps at Maintenon, near Chartres.

April 1944

The 17th April directive restated that the overall mission was “the progressive destruction and dislocation of the German military, industrial and economic system and the disruption of vital elements of lines of communication”.

It added that prior to Overlord the aim was:

  • To deplete the German air force and particularly the German fighter forces and to destroy and disorganise the facilities supporting them
  • To destroy and disrupt the enemy’s rail communications, particularly those affecting the enemy’s movement towards the Overlord area

September 1944

The 14th September 1944 directive amended the overall mission to  read “the progressive destruction and dislocation of the German military, industrial and economic system and the direct support of land and naval forces”.

A further directive on 25th September set out the priorities as:

  1. Petroleum Industry
  2. The German rail and waterborne transportation systems
  3. Tank production plants and depots / ordnance depots
  4. Motor Transport production plants and depots

October 1944

In October, a letter was sent out outlining the plans for a special operation aimed at “bringing home to the enemy a realisation of this overwhelming superiority and the futility of continued resistance”

Operations “Hurricane I” and “Hurricane II” were aimed at applying within the shortest period of time the maximum effort of the RAF and VIIIth US Bomber Command against objectives in the Ruhr area

November 1944

The 1st November 1944 directive reiterated that the overall mission was “the progressive destruction and dislocation of the German military, industrial and economic system and the direct support of land and naval forces”.

However, tank production plants and depots / ordnance depots and motor transport production plants and depots were removed from the list of priorities so that maximum resources could be applied to the petroleum industry and the German rail and waterborne transportation systems.

Command Structure (WWII)

RESEARCH NOTES

03/09/1939 to 30/04/1940

At the outbreak of war (3rd September 1939), No. 35 Squadron was confirmed in its role as a non-mobilising unit tasked with “training pilots, air observers and air gunners to replace casualties incurred by No. 15 and No. 40 Squadron as part of the Advanced Air Striking Force [AASF]“.

It came under the command of No. 6 (Bomber) Group, Bomber Command.

bomber-command-1939

On 1st October 1939, it amalgamated with No. 207, No. 53 and No. 63 Squadron to form No. 1 Group Pool, which was tasked with “training pilots, air observers and air gunners to replace casualties incurred by all ten bomber squadrons in the Advanced Air Striking Force [AASF]“. It remained under the command of No. 6 (Bomber) Group, Bomber Command.


On 30th April 1940 the squadron (as part of No. 1 Group Pool) merged with No. 90 Squadron to form No. 17 Operational Training Unit (OTU) and it ceased to exist as a separate entity


05/11/1940 to 17/08/1942

No. 35 Squadron reformed on 5th November 1940  and came under the command of No. 4 (Bomber) Group, Bomber Command.

It was designated as a “heavy bomber squadron, tasked with bringing the Handley Page Halifax into operational service”


17/08/1942 to 13/01/1943

On 17th August 1942 the squadron, along with No. 7,  No. 83,  No. 109 and No. 156 Squadron, was incorporated into the newly formed Pathfinder Force which was tasked with “finding, illuminating and/or marking the target so that the remainder of the bombing force could accurately bomb the aiming point”.


13/01/1943 onwards

The Pathfinder Force became No. 8 (Pathfinder Force) Group, Bomber Command on 13th January 1943.

1943 Bomber Command Directives

RESEARCH NOTES

January 1943

The 14th January 1943 directive advised that as a result of the increased menace of the U-Boat, approval had been obtained to bomb the U-Boat operational bases on the west coast of France, including the local facilities such as water, power and electricity that the bases were dependent on.

Targets included Lorient, St Nazaire, Brest and La Pallice

The 21st January 1943 directive (known as the Casablanca Directive) stated that Bomber Command’s primary objective continued to be “the progressive destruction of the German military, industrial and economic system and the undermining of the morale of the German people to a point where their capacity for armed resistance is fatally weakened”

The order of priority was shown as (a) German submarine construction yards (b)the German aircraft industry (c) Transportation (d) Oil Plants (e) Other targets in enemy war industry.

April 1943

The 6th April 1943 directive stated that attacks against the German submarine construction yards should be discontinued.

June 1943

The 10th June 1943 directive stated that the growing strength of German fighters was causing concern and as such the bomber offensive should focus on targets associated with the construction and storage of German aircraft.

September 1943

The 3rd September 1943 directive stated that the objective of the bomber offensive was redefined as “The progressive destruction of the German military, industrial and economic system, the disruption of vital elements of lines of communication and the material reduction of German air combat strength”. It added that the offensive was a prerequisite to “Operation Overlord”

1942 Bomber Command Directives

RESEARCH NOTES

February 1942

The 14th February 1942 directive advised that the Air Ministry wanted to maximise the benefits of the introduction of Gee navigational equipment (as a target-finding and blind bombing device) and, as such, the principle of conservation of forces was to be modified.

The directive stated that without restriction, “until further notice”, the primary objective of Bomber Command operations should be focused on the morale of the enemy civil population, and in particular, of the industrial workers.

Targets (within Gee range) included: Essen, Duisburg, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Bremen, Wilhelmshaven and Emden.

Targets (outside Gee range) included: Hamburg, Kiel, Lubeck, Rostock, Berlin, Kassel, Hanover, Frankfurt, Mannheim, Schweinfurt and Stuttgart.

A number of factories involved in power distribution, synthetic oil production and manufacturing were listed as “precise targets”, some within, and some outside, the range of Gee

May 1942

The 5th May 1942 directive stated that whilst the primary aim of operations must be the lowering of the morale of the enemy civil population, and in particular, of the industrial workers, every effort should be made to reduce the output of aircraft factories, particularly those producing fighter aircraft.

Bremen, Kassel, Frankfurt and Stuttgart were highlighted as key targets, along with a number of factories producing aircraft parts.

The 25th May 1942 directive advised that approval had been given to attack a number of factories in German occupied countries (provided special conditions relating to these attacks were observed).

July 1942

The 20th July 1942 directive advised changes to the factories that should be attacked in German occupied territories.

September 1942

The 3rd September 1942 directive stated that the Poelitz Hydrogeneration Plant should be added to the list of priority targets.

1941 Bomber Command Directives

RESEARCH NOTES

January 1941

The 15th January 1941 directive stated that, “until further orders”, the sole primary aim of the bomber offensive should be the destruction of the German synthetic oil plants.

Targets included Leuna, Politz, Gelsenkirchen (Nordstern), Zeitz, Sholven Beur, Ruhland, Bohlen, Magdeburg, Lutzkendorf, Sterkrade Holten, Homberg, Kamen, Wanne Eickel, Bottrop, Dortmund, Castrop Rauxel and Brux.

March 1941

The 9th March 1941 directive stated that “for the next four months”, Bomber Command’s energies should be devoted to defeating the attempt of the enemy to strangle our food supplies and our connection with the United States. Operations should therefore be directed against submarine and long-range aircraft facilities whenever circumstances permit. However, a proportion of effort should still be applied to the destruction of the synthetic oil plants (as per the 15th January 1941 directive).

Priority Targets included Kiel, Bremen, Vegesack, Hamburg, Augsburg, Mannheim, Dessau, Lorient, St Nazaire, Bordeaux, Bordeaux-Merignac and Stavanger.  (On 18th March 1941, Augsburg, Dessau and Stavanger were deleted from the list and Cologne, Hagen and Stuttgart were added)

July 1941

The 9th July 1941 directive stated that “until further instructions”, the main effort of the bomber force should be directed towards dislocating the German transportation system (road, rail and inland waterways) and to destroying the morale of the civil population as a whole and of the industrial workers in particular.

Priority targets included Hamm, Osnabruck, Soest, Schwerte, Cologne, Duisburg, Dusseldorf, Dortmund-Ems Canal, Ems-Weser Canal, River Rhine, Schopau, Huls, Hamburg, Bremen, Hanover, Frankfurt, Mannheim, Stuttgart; 21 smaller towns on railway routes were added to the list on 30th August, with Leipzig and Schweinfurt added on 11th September.

October 1941

The 27th October 1941 directive stated that “whenever weather conditions permitted”, high priority should be given to hampering  targets associated with “the submarine construction programme”.

Operations were therefore directed against the submarine bases on the west coast of France (such as Brest and Lorient) and against the ports of Kiel, Hamburg, Bremen and Wilhelmshaven in north-west Germany.

November 1941 

The 13th November 1941 directive stated that Bomber Command’s energies should be conserved over the winter period in order to build up a strong force in readiness for Spring”.

In reality, the Butt Report published in September 1941 had identified major problems with the accuracy of the bombing offensive and work was being carried out to establish what needed to be put in place in order to improve it

December 1941

The 10th December 1941 directive stated that Bomber Command should prepare and submit plans for the immediate daylight bombing of the enemy cruisers in Brest (Operation Veracity).

Presentation Aircraft (WWII)

RESEARCH NOTES

Both public and private money was utilised to fund the war effort and appeals for private funding were made in the UK and in the British Commonwealth.

A “price list” for the various aircraft types was drawn up which showed that donations of a particular sum would entitle the donor to have their name inscribed on a randomly selected production aircraft of that type.

During WWII, this concept was taken one step further, with larger gifts resulting in an entire squadron being linked to the relevant donor.

No. 35 Squadron benefited from donations from the Madras Presidency (an administrative subdivision of British India) and was formally named “No. 35 (Madras Presidency) Squadron” on 5th January 1942

It is understood that No. 35 Squadron was presented with at least three Handley Page Halifax by the Madras Presidency and the following markings were shown on the side of these aircraft (serial numbers unknown):

  • Madras Presidency Coimbatore
  • Madras Presidency Kistna
  • Madras Presidency West Godavari

JH Marks with one of the Madras Presidency marked aircraft 1942 [IMW CH6759]

PH Cribb with one of the Madras Presidency marked aircraft [IMW CH6477]

Writing Table Set

A writing table set that had been gifted by the Madras Presidency War Committee was presented to the squadron at a ceremony at RAF Stradishall in March 1948 -read more –

Notes:

  1. It is understood that the term “Madras Presidency” was formally dropped from the squadron’s title in June 1952.
  2. Madras Presidency included the districts of Coimbatore, West Godavari and Kistna (now Krishna) in the present day states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The latter two districts were named after the rivers that flow through them.

Formation of No. 635 Squadron

RESEARCH NOTES

On 20th March 1944, one of No. 35 Squadron’s flights, under the command of S/L JR Wood, moved to Downham Market to form the nucleus of No. 635 Squadron.

Twenty eight officers and forty eight NCO aircrew travelled by air in nine Lancaster III aircraft. One hundred and two groundcrew personnel, comprised almost entirely of “B” Flight, travelled by road. In addition, a further nine squadron personnel and thirty two personnel from No. 9035 Servicing Echelon proceeded on posting to No. 9635 Servicing Echelon

In addition to S/L JR Wood, officers posted were:

  • KA Petch (Pilot)
  • RB Roache (Pilot)
  • W Still (Pilot)
  • RW Beveridge (Pilot)
  • IB Hayes (Pilot)
  • FW Healey (Pilot)
  • HJL Webb (Pilot)
  • JR Wood (Pilot)
  • GA Young (Pilot)
  • CL Potter (Navigator)
  • WM Douglas (Navigator)
  • HP Laskoski (Navigator)
  • MI Massy (Navigator)
  • J Neville (Navigator)
  • GA Stocks (Navigator)
  • HJ Plank (Air Bomber)
  • GD Linacre (Air Bomber)
  • TS Brady (Air Bomber)
  • JG Irwin (Air Bomber)
  • GM Lockie (Air Bomber)
  • WT Olyott (Air Bomber)
  • J Puver (Air Bomber)
  • TM Telford (Air Bomber)
  • DB Coltman (Wireless Operator)
  • CE Peake (Wireless Operator)
  • J Allinson (Air Gunner)
  • EO Deveson (Air Gunner)

Lancaster III aircraft transferred out included: JA857, JB239, LM340, LM346, ND359,  ND453,  ND704,  ND709,  ND711

(Note: LM340 does not appear to have been on strength of No. 35 Squadron so it may be that only 8 aircraft were transferred to No. 635 Squadron)

Re-arming the bomber

RESEARCH NOTES

Images from an RAF Training film entitled “Re-Arming the Bomber”

FIDO

RESEARCH NOTES

RAF Graveley was one of the airfields that was fitted with FIDO (Fog Investigation and Dispersal Operation), which allowed aircraft to take off and land in fog or snow.

A network of pipes was laid along the edges of the runway and in foggy conditions fuel was pumped through the pipes at 100,000 gallons per hour and ignited. The heat generated caused the fog to rise to up to 200ft and the flames highlighted the outline of the runway.

It was first used operationally at Graveley on 19th November 1943 to enable four planes from No. 35 Squadron to land safely.

FIDO Group

Further detail from the Graveley Flight Log

Towards the close of 1942, the Petroleum Warfare Department started to install Fido burners 50 yards off each side of the main runway, and for a distance of 500 yards to the East of the runway in the form of a lead in funnel. A pump house was erected together with tankage capacity for 500,000 gallons of petrol. Thus Graveley became the first airfield to be equipped with this new fog dispelling aid.

In January 1943, the first test burn was made and the resultant smoke and flare caused most fire stations within 50 miles to rush to put out the fire; afterwards the mess was cleared of beer in record time.

The first landing made in fog with the aid of FIDO was carried out by F/O N Harding, with the Station Commander BV Robinson as passenger. A/Cmdr. Bennett, A.O.C. Pathfinders, made the first test flight in clear air at night in a Stirling, on the 16th February 1943.

History was made on the night of the 19th November 1943 when four of 35 Squadron’s Halifaxes returning from operations found the airfield covered by radiation fog in which visibility had been reduced to 100 yards to a height of about 50 feet. Within ten minutes of lighting up, FIDO had cleared a lane along the runway in which the equivalent visibility was 2 to 4 miles, while the stars were showing above. The aircraft landed without any difficulty and the Captains – F/Lt Muller, F/Lt Rowe, F/O Jones and Lieut. G. Hoverstad were enthusiastic about the assistance given.

As this was the first time that aircraft returning; from operations had landed in artificially dispersed fog and the Prime Minister had taken a lead in establishing FIDO, Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd, the Minister, Petroleum Warfare Dept., sent a signal to Mr. Churchill who was overseas, informing him of the success of this first operation. In reply Kr. Churchill sent his congratulations to all concerned.

The installation at Graveley enabled some 183 aircraft to land in fog or very poor visibility. Its performance gave great confidence to the the crews.

Air Ministry Casualty Communiques

RESEARCH NOTES

Throughout WWII, the Air Ministry regularly issued Casualty Communiques which announced (in a First Listing) or updated (in a Subsequent Listing) the status of missing airmen.

Casualty Communique.jpg

These listings were published in newspapers and magazines (such as Flight) on a regular basis.

Airmen were listed in the following categories:

  • First Listing
    • Missing
  • Subsequent Listing
    • Previously reported missing, now reported killed in action
    • Previously reported missing, now presumed killed in action
    • Previously reported missing, now reported killed on active service
    • Previously reported missing, now presumed killed on active service
    • Previously reported missing, now reported prisoner of war

  • First Listing
    • Missing, believed killed in action
  • Subsequent Listing
    • Previously reported missing, believed killed in action, now reported killed in action
    • Previously reported missing, believed killed in action, now presumed killed in action

  • First Listing
    • Missing, believed killed on active service
  • Subsequent Listing
    • Previously reported missing, believed killed on active service, now reported killed on active service
    • Previously reported missing, believed killed on active service, now presumed killed on active service

  • First Listings
    • Killed in action
    • Wounded or injured in action
    • Died of wounds or injuries received in action
    • Killed on active service
    • Died on active service
    • Wounded or injured on active service
    • Died of wounds or injuries received on active service

NOTES:

  1. Presumption of death enabled a death certificate to be issued; personal belongings, along with any monies due, could then be sent to the next of kin. The process was usually started about six months after the date of the original “Missing” report when no information had been received regarding the status of a particular airman
  2. An archive, containing some of the original communiques, is being created at repositories.lib.utexas.edu