Timeline for the RAF at Omaha Beach

OPERATION OVERLORD – THE ROYAL AIR FORCE LANDING IN NORMANDY

OMAHA BEACH

 

The operation which involved members of the Royal Air Force landing on the Normandy beaches on D-day and in the days following, effectively began on 1st January 1944 when Group Captain William George Moseby was posted in to RAF Church Fenton in order to set up 21 Base Defence Wing.  Along with its counterparts No’s 24 and 25 Base Defence Wings, this unit would be tasked with supplying and maintaining a radar capability from D-Day onwards for the purpose of detecting enemy aircraft movements in the skies over and approaching the invasion beaches and directing Allied aircraft to intercept and destroy them thereby maintaining air superiority in the skies from D-Day onwards.  However, significant moves towards planning for the invasion of the Continent began much earlier than this, the earliest recorded mention of anything being in April 1942 (see immediately below).

 

April 1942

Omaha Beachhead, Page 2. (Center of Military History, US Army, Washington DC.)

Planning for supplying an invasion of Europe began.

 

May 1943

Omaha Beachhead, Page 1. (Center of Military History, US Army, Washington DC.)

In May 1943 an Anglo-American conference in Washington considered the opening of a front in Western Europe for offensive operations against Germany.  It was at this point that Allied planners finally selected 50 miles of coast in western Normandy, from the Vire Estuary to the Orne, as the assault area for securing a lodgement.

 

12-5-1943

GHQ Home Forces Exercise ‘Spartan’

(PRO Ref:- Air 20-2620)

The results of this exercise, which was aimed at determining how RAF Units coped under abnormal conditions such as may be found abroad on active service, were summarised.  Among the points raised at this early date were those as follows:-

52.  It was apparent throughout the exercise that those individuals and units which had not previously had experience of field conditions, had the most difficulty in dealing with problems which were taken in their stride by those squadrons accustomed to work with the Army in exercises.

53.  I would emphasise the immense difference between operating from static and well found organisations in this country and carrying out similar functions in the open when all peace time, semi static amenities are absent.  In fact, such is the difference that staffs and units not fully acclimatised to field service have the bulk of their energy, both mental and physical, which should be devoted to defeating the enemy diverted to the mere task of living and working in the open.

54.  It is for this reason that I most strongly recommend that a high proportion of the units which will ultimately comprise the Air Expeditionary Force should be given, as soon as possible, the necessary experience in living, working and operation in the open air under conditions parallel to those they are likely to meet with on the Continent.  In this connection I would also stress the need for ensuring at all times, in the interest of operational efficiency, the provision of a reasonable standard of comfort in the field.

The Summary was signed by the AOC-in-C

 

August1943

Muir Adair – Notes from a Conversation (February 2007)

“An opportunity came for Muir Adair to join the combined operations section of the RAF and to be part of a newly created Mobile GCI Radar team and he became a Sergeant when he joined the beginning of 15082.  Initially 15082 was crewed up at Swanage, or to be more precise, Renscombe Down.  It spent quite a lot of time based here carrying out various training procedures before going to further training with the Commandos close to Spean Bridge and landing craft training near Troon in Scotland”.

 

Muir Adair – from ‘Canadians on Radar: RCAF 1940 – 1945’

“ During some pretty concentrated activities early in 1943, the personnel of the Ground Controlled Interception Unit (GCIU) 15082 were subjected to continuous and rigorous training in wet landing procedures, combat exercises and anything else that assorted Admirals, Generals and Air Marshalls could concoct/  I personally took courses in waterproofing vehicles, leading truck convoys, riding motorcycles and sailing small vessels.  Even had five hours dual on an army Auster aircraft…”.

 

Canadian F/Sgt’s Parting Shot?

G15082 was formed as a Ground Controlled Interception unit in August 1943 at Renscombe Down near Swanage in Dorset.  It was to be equipped with the latest in radar including height finding apparatus and it was to be primarily for the control of night fighters in forward fighting areas.  The unit was mobile, with heavy equipment mounted on Crossley trucks and smaller apparatus on Bedfords.  Operational status, following arrival at a designated site, was expected to be two hours.  Personnel were part of a name posting, all volunteers from the Royal Air Force but under the command of Combined Operations.  During the initial shaping up stages there were the usual roll calls, parades, roaring of W.O.’s and general complaining about all and sundry.  Within eight days of our arrival we had been ‘crewed up’ and were busy at various chores.  Some members were learning how to drive lorries, others how to march all over again.  Our initiation to preliminary battle courses was carried out at Renscombe Down.  The flabby individuals who now formed the thirty member G15082, fresh from the comparative luxury of a static radar station in the Home Chain, met the challenge head on and went into training with gun ho enthusiasm.

The Renscombe Assault course, which commences at the end of the second week, is considered to be one of the easier ones since the participants are technical blokes and not commandos.  It commences with a full-out run of forty yards over hurdles, along fifteen feet of six inch planks suspended several feet in the air, under a barbed wire fence erected eighteen inches off the ground and staked in a random diamond pattern, and finally through a ten foot tunnel with sides and roof of barbed wire and a sectional opening of two feet.  Upon reaching the far end of the tunnel, the trainees run up a ramp, grab ropes hanging from a scaffold and swing out over a seven foot ditch to a platform fifteen feet in the air from which the only exit is via two cables, one above the other.  The bottom one is for walking on, the top for holding.  Under the cables is a pool of water into which zealous instructors keep hurling thunder flashes and gleefully create other distractions.  The cables terminate eight feet above the ground and a hundred feet from the platform.  Exhausted trainees drop from the cables at the far end onto the welcome ground.

Section Leaders are marked on the performance of their men and any member not successfully completing the course within the required time will repeat it each day until he does.  The required time can be anything determined by the lead instructor and would appear to depend upon the state of his liver on the day concerned.  The majority of recruits make it the first time and their documents can then reflect the successful completion of the Combined Operations Battle Course.  A more difficult one must be taken by all senior noncoms and officers at a later date during advanced training at a Commando School.

Following the Battle Course and the processing of necessary paperwork in the setting up of G15082, we moved to Durnfort where the technical staff completed a short but intensive course on the then latest mobile radar gear.  Non-tech personnel, including a couple of driver mechanics, an MT Fitter Group 1 and the RT Operators were kept busy at physical training and forced marches.  Technicians were not popular persons at Durnfort.

Technical training as provided at this establishment was something of a surprise.  It appeared as if my purely radar background was a thing of the past.  Two years on static stations had taught me to never interfere in anything that wasn’t purely radar.  Several times I had incurred the wrath of GPO’s or other types by playing around with their ‘Gear’ and once I was threatened with a court martial for ‘tampering with a diesel’.  I had learned the hard way that I was a radio man only, albeit a highly specialised one, and therefore not to service other equipment.  Any apparatus outside of my jurisdiction required the expertise of another kind of specialist.  Duties were so closely regulated that, should a fire break out on the station, it was best to simply disappear.  There were General Duties firemen to take care of emergencies such as that.  I sometimes thought that the whole Air Force was run by a union.

Once crewed up however, all this nonsense stopped.  During an early briefing, a Squadron Technical Officer said, “A Mobile Radar Technician has to be able to fix anything, and anything includes radar, radio telephony, diesel engines, generators, telephones, direction finding gear, lorries, automobiles, flat tyres, cooking stoves and canvas tarpaulins”. 

I was all for this approach, but it took several months for me to gain enough confidence to tear telephone relays out by the fistful or rewire complicated distribution panels.  All ranks gradually acquired the philosophy that the most essential thing to be remembered by a crew member was that the gear must be kept operational at all times, that being “on the air” and ready to control a fighter was our only reason for existence.  Any modifications necessary, working when too sick to crawl and twenty four hours days were not only encouraged, but demanded.  In order to ensure flexibility, every crew member received some basic training in a speciality other than his own.

Our Durnfort course lasted four weeks, after which we moved to Chigwell near London for the final stages of our technical training and to collect our new gear.  After working with broken down and patched up equipment for so long, our new lorries, transmitters, receivers, test equipment and operational vans were a joy to behold.  Everything was brand new, untouched by human hands except those of the manufacturer and it was all ours.  We would be setting it up from scratch and would be taking… (it is at this point that the memoir inexplicably ceases).

 

 

11-6-1943.

The Invasion Panel.  Paper No 4.  Ground RDF for the Tactical Air Force.

The Summary to this Paper states:-

The aim of this paper is to set out briefly, descriptions of the different types of ground RDF (Radio Direction Finding?) equipment which are available and could be applied to operations involving the Tactical Air Force.  It is envisaged that RDF cover is required in three stages:-

(i)            During the landing of troops on an enemy coastline;

(ii)           To cover the movements in the field;

(iii)          To protect the new areas which are firmly held.

The various ground RDF sets available are considered in relation to these operations.  In this direction, consideration is given to MRU’ (Mobile Radar Units?), GCI’s (Ground Control Interception) Type 11, Type 6 (AMES Light Warning Set) and the Fighter Direction Equipment (Type 16), but particular attention is given to the problem of the lightweight RDF set capable of being transported by air.

The Paper comprises 11 pages of text and 4 of drawings of various types of radar (2 drawings to a page).

 

August 1943

The War of the ‘Erks’ by Chris Muir  (The nom de plume Flight Sergeant Fulton Muir Adair)

G15082 was formed as a Ground Control Interception unit at Renscombe Down near Swanage in Dorset.  It was to be equipped with the latest in radar gear including height finding apparatus and was created primarily for control of night fighters in forward fighting areas,  The unit was mobile, with heavy equipment mounted on Crossley trucks and smaller apparatus on Bedfords.  Operational Status, following arrival at a designated site, was expected to be two hours.  Personnel were a part of a name posting, all volunteers from the Royal Air Force but under the command of Combined Operations.

Following a Battle Course at Renscombe Down, and the processing of necessary paperwork in the setting up of G15082, we moved to Durnfort where the technical staff completed a short but intensive course on the then latest mobile radar gear.  Non-tech personnel. Including a couple of driver mechanics, a fitter Group 1 and the RT operators were kept busy at physical training and forced marches.  Technicians were not popular persons at Durnfort!

Technical training as provided at this establishment was something of a surprise.  It appeared as if my purely radar background was a thing of the past.  Two years on static stations had taught me to never interfere in anything that wasn’t purely radar.  Several times I had incurred the wrath of GPO’s or other types by playing around with their ‘gear’ and once I was threatened with court Martial for ‘tampering with a diesel’.  I had learned the hard way that I was a radio man only, albeit a highly specialised one, and therefore not authorised to service other equipment.  Any apparatus outside my jurisdiction required the expertise of another kind of specialist.  Duties were so closely regulated that, should a fire break out on the station, it was best to simply disappear.  There were GD firemen to take care of emergencies such as that. I sometimes thought that the whole Air Force was run by a union.

Once crewed up, however, all this nonsense stopped.  During an early briefing, a Squadron Technical Officer said “ A mobile Radar Technician has to be able to fix  anything, and anything includes radar, radio telepathy, diesel engines, generators, telephones, direction finding gear, lorries, automobiles, flat tires (sic), cook stoves and canvas tarpaulins.

I was all for this approach but it took several months for me to tear telephone relays out by the fistful or rewire complicated distribution panels.  All ranks gradually acquired a philosophy that the most essential thing to be remembered  by a crew member was that the gear must be kept operational at all times, that ‘being on air’ and ready to control a fighter was our only reason for existence.  Any modifications necessary, working when too sick to crawl and twenty four  hour days were not only encouraged but demanded.  In order to ensure flexibility, every crew member received some basic training in a speciality other than his own.

Our Durnfort course lasted four weeks, after which we moved to Chigwell near London for the final stages of our technical training and to collect our new gear.  After working with broken down and patched up equipment for so long, our new lorries, transmitters, receivers, test equipment and operational vans were a joy to behold.  Everything was brand new, untouched by hu,an hands except those of the manufacturer and it was all ours!

 

31-8-1943

Organisation for an Overseas Base Group.

(PRO Ref:- Air 37-125, No 85 Base Defence Wing, Organisation)

Paragraph 16 states:-  I propose that the Headquarters of the Base Group and one Air Defence Wing should form at Church Fenton where there is sufficient accommodation for them.  At a later date a second Wing can be formed at Coleby Grange and immediately the third Wing forms it should be based at Scorton. At each of the Stations mentioned there is already a night fighter squadron and these squadrons should be p[laced on a mobile basis to operate with the Base Group.  Day fighter squadrons would also be allotted as necessary.  It was signed by an Air Marshall, Air Officer Commanding-n-Chief of Fighter Command.

(Only the Church Fenton aspect of this Paper seems to have proceeded as planned here)

This was the date at which the formation of a new Base Group was mooted by Fighter Command (see October 1943 below)

 

October 1943

Formation of the Expeditionary Air Force, Organisation of Overseas Base Group

(PRO Ref:- Air 37-125, No 85 Base Defence Wing, Organisation)

The above paper, emanating from Headquarters, Fighter Command, RAF Bentley Priory, (Kestrel Grove), Stanmore, Middlesex, deals with the need to “submit proposals for the provision  of an Overseas Base Group, to be named No. 85 Group, which will be required as part of the Expeditionary Air Force.  Proposals for the Operational Role and organisation of this Group were originally put forward to Air Ministry, D.G.O. in this Headquarters letter FG/S.35202 dated 31st August 1943, to which an agreement in principle was given in Air Ministry reply under reference CS.19737/D.G.O. dated 9th October 1943”.

  1. It is now desired to submit proposals for the provision of an overseas Base Group (to be named No. 85 Group) which will be required as part of the Expeditionary Air Force.  Proposals for the Operational Role and organisation of this Group were originally put forward to Air Ministry, D.G.O. in this Headquarters letter FC/S. 35202 dated 31st August 1943, to which agreement in principle was given in Air Ministry reply under reference CS.19737/D.G.O. dated 9th October 1943/
  2. The operational side of the Overseas Base Group is also referred to in this Headquarters letter FC/S.35202 dated 7 October 1943 and it is now desired to submit recommendations for the Administration Role to be undertaken by this Group.  It is considered that the Air Officer Commanding No. 85 Group should, subject to the normal general directions of Headquarters AEAF, exercise control over and supervise Maintenance, Supply and Ancillary Units in the Base and Army L of C Areas.  To enable him to do this he will require a strong Administrative Staff.
  3. At Appendix ‘A’ is a list of the Base and Ancillary Units which will be controlled by No. 85 Group.  It will be noted that in certain instances alterations have been made either to the nomenclature or the composition, of certain Units which have already been authorised to form in nucleus and it is requested that the necessary authority for this revision may be given.
  4. Owing to the embargo on authorisation of further units for the Allied Expeditionary Air Force, the majority of the Base Units cannot be completed until early in the New Year.  It is not, therefore, proposed that Group Headquarters should be fully constituted at this juncture, but it is considered essential that a nucleus Staff should be established immediately.  This will be necessary for the following reasons:-

 

(a)      That training of the Air Defence Wings may start immediately. (vide this Headquarters letter FC/S. 35202 dated ?? October 1943, para 19).

(b)      That administrative planning with the appropriate Naval and Army authorities may proceed.

(c)      That Signals requirements may be co-ordinated.

(d)      That the organisation of Night Fighter Squadrons on a mobile basis may be planned in detail.

  1. To meet the above requirements it is considered that the following Officers will suffice;-

(a)      1 G/C, Senior Air Staff Officer;

(b)      1 Wing Commander, Night Operations;

(c)      1 Wing Commander, Signals ‘G’ Officer;

(d)      1 Squadron Leader, Signals Radar;

             Together with Clerks and MT to the normal scale.

  1.   The remainder of the Headquarters will be built up around this nucleus so that the complete Group Headquarters is in a position to carry out its full functions by the time that its Units have become more fully formed. Ie early in the New Year.  It is hoped that some of the personnel now being established on AEAF Headquarters will be transferred to the Headquarters of No 85 Group but this is largely dependant on the extent to which no.s 85 and 38 Groups are expected  to deal direct with the Air Ministry and this matter is now being (illegible).
  2. It is presumed that W.A.A.F personnel will be established in No.85 Group (Headquarters and Units) and it is requested that confirmation may be given that the Army will be employing A.T.S. personnel on parallel lines. This confirmation is required as it affects the medical organisation to be set up.
  3. It is requested that approval in principle may be given to the above proposals and that an Air Ministry Conference may then be convened to settle finally the composition of the Base Group and the Administrative responsibilities of it’s Headquarters.

 

It was signed by the Air Officer i/c Administration (an Air Vice Marshall) of Fighter Command.

 

8-10-1943

Organisation for an Overseas Base Group;- 

(PRO Ref:- Air 37-125, No 85 Base Defence Wing, Organisation)

A letter to the Air Ministry (presumed for Fighter Command) headed “Organisation for an Overseas Base Group” amongst other things, under the heading ‘Operational Role’ states “Aground Control Organisation for the effective control of defensive fighters both by day and by night will be required in the very early stages of the assault and it is (illegible) recognised that G.C.I. Stations must go ashore for this purpose and be operational by the night of D-Day at the latest.  It is clear from the reports on Operational (illegible) that the control of defensive fighters should not be a responsibility of the Composite Groups who must concentrate the whole of their efforts on supporting the Army.  It is essential that the G.C.I. Stations put ashore for the defence of the beachhead as outlined in the preceding paragraph should be specifically employed in an entirely defensive role and continue in this role.  The G.C.I. Stations attached to the Composite Groups must be able to move forward in accordance with the requirements of the military and air situation and are trained in an offensive rather than a defensive role.  I therefore consider that all G.C.I. Stations concerned with the defence of the beaches should be drawn from the Base Group.  From first landed and until such time as the Sector Organisations come ashore they will be under the operational command of the appropriate Composite Group Commander but would only be attached to him for specific defensive purposes and remain in the base area after the Composite Group moves forward with it’s own G.C.I. Stations.  As soon as possible, the Base Defence G.C.I. Stations should be expanded into a Sector Organisation similar to that which exists in this country and this expansion should take place as early as possible before airfields are actually available for the use of fighter aircraft operating under the Base Group.  At a still later stage the operational staff of the Base Group would go ashore and set up the Group’s operational Headquarters.  I therefore consider that the Base Group should be organised in Air Defence Wings, each one of which would approximate to a static Sector in this country.  Each one of these Base Defence Wings should be a self contained organisation having it’s own Air reporting organisation”.

The Paper then goes on to discuss in much more detail the specifics of the organisation of the Base Defence Wings.

 

12-10-1943

Formation of the Base Group (Operation ‘Overlord’)

(PRO Ref:- Air 37-125, No 85 Base Defence Wing, Organisation)

A further letter, headed “Formation of the Base Group (Operation ‘Overlord’)” sets out in tabulated form ‘ the suggested Units which will comprise the Base Group, and if this is agreed, then the functions of the Headquarters and estimates of staff required can be arrived at’.  There then is listed a lengthy listing under various headings of the different Units which will be needed amongst which, under the heading ‘Operational Units in the Base Group’ are shown ‘Three G.C.I.’.

 

29-10-1943

Formation of the Expeditionary Air Force, Organisation of Overseas Base Group (i.e. No. 85 Group)

(PRO Ref:- Air 37-125, No 85 Base Defence Wing, Organisation)

A letter from Fighter Command, based at Bentley Priory to the Under Secretary of State for Air at the Air Ministry (A.M.S.O.) headed “Formation of the Expeditionary Air Force Organisation of Overseas Base Group (i.e. No. 85 Group) lists under the following headings detailed proposals for the new 85 Group:-

Administrative Role.

Operational Role.

Organisation of Base Group Headquarters.

Signals.

Formation and Training.

Manning.

WAAF Personnel.

Conclusion.

 

Under the heading Operational Role, G.C.I’s are discussed almost word for word as set out at 8-10-1943 (above).

 

16-11-1943

Formation of N.85 Group (Overseas Base Group)

(PRO Ref:- Air 37-125, No 85 Base Defence Wing, Organisation)

Loose Minute reference FC/S.35202.Air. (K.G..) to S.A.S.O., G/Capt. Ops.3., G/Capt. Org., C.S.O. Bentley Priory, G/Capt Atcherley, G/Capt. Hiscox, A.S.O -in-C (K.G.) states in it’s covering sheet:-

1)  Approval in principle has now been received from Air Ministry for the early formation of No. 85 Group in nucleus, and of the first Base Defence Wing, together with the necessary Ancillary Units.

2)  The Air Ministry ruling that no new units can be formed except in exchange for compensating reductions elsewhere still stands.  Air Ministry have, therefore, requested that we shall submit our proposals as to which units are to be disbanded or reduced to provide for the formation of No. 85 Group Headquarters in nucleus and the first Base Defence Wing.

3)  With regard to the employment of W.A.A.F.’s in the Base Defence Group, Air Ministry state that whilst no definite decision on this matter has yet been taken or is likely to be given for some time to come, we are to plan our establishments for the units in the Base Defence Group on the assumption that W.A.A.F.’s can be employed in all Units which will be located in the Base Area, other than those which will be employed in the assault phase.  No. 85 Group Headquarters may, therefore, include W.A.A.F.’s, but the first Base Defence Wing to form must not include W.A.A.F.’s.  It was signed (but the signature is illegible) by an Air Vice Marshall, Senior Air Staff Officer, HQ Fighter Command (K.G.)

The Loose Minute goes on:-

It is only proposed to form the operational portion of the Group Headquarters and one Base Defence Wing at present.  The following paragraphs give details of the requirements for all the necessary units, not already formed.

2)  It is considered that the Group Headquarters and 1st Base Defence Wing should form on the 1st December, although it is appreciated that they will not be fully formed or operational for some time.

 

No.85 Group Headquarters.

 

3)  It is considered that the following nucleus is all that is necessary at present:-

            i)  Senior Air Staff Officer (G/Capt).  This Officer should be well experienced in both Day and Night Fighters, but predominantly in Night Fighters.

            ii)  One Air Staff Officer (W/Csr).  This Officer will be No. 2 to the S.A.S.O., and should be experienced in the tactical employment and control of Fighters., particularly Night Fighters.

            iii)  Signals Officer (W/Cdr).  This Officer will be the C.S.O. of the Group, but during the preliminary stages will have no assistance on the Signals ‘G’ side.

            iv)  Signals RADAR Officer (S/Ldr).  This Officer is to be a Signal Ground Radar Technician.

            v)  Clerks, M.T., A.C.H.’s, etc to the normal scale.

 

Base Defence Wing

4)     The requirements for the Base Defence Wing are shown in the attached Appendix, which quotes numbers of personnel required and shows how certain of the requirements can be met from existing sources.  As regards those requirements which cannot be met from existing sources, suggestions are put forward in the following paragraph.

5)      

Wing Headquarters

5)  This is a small requirement, which it is thought can best be met from existing Fighter Command sources without any difficulty.  Will G/Capt. Org. please produce a draft establishment.

 

6)  The Airfield Headquarters

The personnel quoted in the Appendix for the Airfield Headquarters are those required to accommodate one single-engined Fighter and one twin-engined Light Bomber Squadron.  Whilst this establishment may be approximately correct in terms of numbers, it will certainly not be correct as regards Trades, and in particular will require modification to meet the Radar technical personnel required at an Airfield Headquarters to service Night Fighters Squadrons.

7)  It is intended that one Airfield Headquarters shall be stationed at Hutton Cranswick and the other at Scorton, and both of these stations are understood to be suitable from all points of view.  It is suggested that No.264 Squadron should move to Hutton Cranswick and that No.604 Squadron should remain at Scorton but work on an airfield basis.  The fact that No. 604 Squadron at present has Beaufighters does not matter, since they are due for re-equipment shortly.

8)  It is considered that these two Night Squadrons, now that they have been placed on a mobile basis together with the existing station personnel at Hutton Cranswick and Scorton, and the personnel and echelons of two Fighter Squadrons, should therefore be sufficient completely to form the two Airfield Headquarters required.

9)  It is requested that the Officers will be in a position to give definite information on the following points:-

            i)  Will S.A.S.O. Fighter Command please state which two Day Fighter Squadrons should move to Hutton Cranswick and Scorton to supply the Day Fighter element of each Airfield Headquarters.

            ii)  Will S.A.S.O. and Ops.3. Fighter Command please state if the remarks made in paragraphs 6 – 8 above are acceptable.

            iii)  Will G/Cap. Org and Ops.3. Fighter Command please produce a proposed establishment for an Overseas Base Airfield Headquarters to accommodate one Day Fighter and one Night Fighter Squadron.

iv)           Will G/Capt. Org. please comment on the assumptions made at paragraph 8 above and show what deficiencies or surpluses exist.

Signals Units.

10. It is proposed that C.S.O. will be in a position to state how the necessary Signals units can be provided and state whether any deficiencies exist.

 

Light Warning Sets

  1. There are no Light Warning Sets at present available, and it is not considered essential that they should be included in the initial formation of the 1st, Air Defence Wing, particularly as Type XIV Stations will be available towards the end of the year and can be used instead of Light Warning Sets.  Air Ministry (D. of S.) has agreed to this suggestion.

 

Overseas Base Wing – Estimates of Approximate Personnel Requirements

                                                                          Officers   Other Ranks            Remarks

Overseas Base Defence Wing consisting of:-  

i)  1 Wing HQ (WAR/SR/25)                                   6                9                    -

ii)  1 Movement Section                                          1                4)     Can be fitted from HQ

iii)  Wing Operations Room                                     8              84)      F.C. resources.

iv)  3 GCI Stations (WAR/SR/17)

      plus 10 extra AC’s per watch.                         12              180     (GCI Stations Nos. 15072,

                                                                                                          15081, 15082 and 15083

                                                                                                          are fully manned and

                                                                                                          awaiting allotment at  B.S.U.)

v)  4 L.W. Sets (WAR/SR/28)                                  -                52                 -

vi)  2 GCI/COL (WAR/SR/18)                                 4               66   (GCI/COL Nos. 15073, 15074, 

                                                                                                         15092 and 15093 are fully

                                                                                                          manned and awaiting allotment

                                                                                                          At B.S.U.)

vii)  1 MRU (WAR/SR/85)                                       2               33  (M.R.U. Nos. 349 and 350 are

                                                                                                        fully manned and awaiting

                                                                                                        allotment at B.S.U.)

viii)  2 Airfield HQ (WAR/SR/25)                            44           1050                     -

 

Signals Units

i)  1 M.S.U. Type ‘A’                                                 3               72                     -                                

ii)  6 M.S.U. Type ‘C’                                                6             210

iii)  2 M.S.U. Type ‘G’                                               -                42

   (Less Code and Cypher personnel)  WAR/SR/14

iv)  4 M.S.U. Type ‘H’                                               –     88               

v)  2 M.S.U. Type ‘J’                                                 -                  8

vi)  3 M.S.U. Type ‘Q’                                               -                  9                                                    

                                           Total per Wing            86            1907                                                                 

 

23-11-1943

Minutes of a Conference held in the S.A.S.O’s Office on Tuesday, 23rd November 1943 to Discuss the Formation of a Nucleus Headquarters of No. 85 Group and the First Base Defence Wing.

(PRO Ref:- Air 37-125, No 85 Base Defence Wing, Organisation)

Present

A.E.A.F

Air Vice Marshall W.D. Galloway CBE. AFC.-           S.A.S.O., ADGB, In the Chair.

Air Vice Marshall W.M.F. Wigglesworth, CB., OBE., DSO,. -           S.A.S.O.

Air Commodore G. Beamish. OBE., -                        D/S.A.S.O.

Air Commodore W.G. Hart, CBE., MC. -       A.S.O. – in C

G/Capt R.D.R. Atherley, CBE., AFC., -        

G/Capt D.G. Morris, DFC., -                          G/Capt. Org.

W/Cdr R. Hiscox, OBE., -                              Ops 1b.

W/Cdr D.R. Foley, -                                        Ops 5.

A.D.G.B.

Air Vive Marshall O.B.G. Spackman, DFC., – A.C.A.

Air Commodore G.H. Ambler CBE., AFC., –             D/S.A.S.O.

G/Capt H.M. Perason,                                    Ops 3.

G/Capt H. Moles,                                            G/Capt Org.

G/Capt R.C. Richmond, -                               C.S.O.

 

LOCATION OF UNITS

1)  Group Headquarters

It was agreed that Uxbridge was the most suitable location for the nucleus of the operational Headquarters of No. 85 Group to form.  It might at some later date be necessary to move Headquarters to a location more convenient for the administration branches of the Headquarters.

2)  First Base Defence Wing

It was agreed that the First Base Defence Wing Headquarters should form at Church Fenton.  In order to provide the personnel required for the Wing Headquarters and for the Airfield Headquarters, it was agreed that the existing Church Fenton establishment should be cancelled except as regards the ADGB Sector Operations and the necessary signals and domestic personnel to support the Sector Operations Room.

3)  Airfield Headquarters

It was agreed that an Airfield Headquarters would form at Church Fenton and another at Scorton, each to accommodate one Night Fighter and one Day Fighter Squadron.

 

PERSONNEL

4)  Wing Headquarters

It was agreed that the Wing Headquarters would require the following Officers:-

            i)          1 G/Capt.  O.C. Wing.

            ii)         1 W/Cdr. O.C. Flying.

iii)            1 F/Lt. Intelligence.

iii)            1 F/Lt. Adjutant.

iv)           Clerks, ACH., and MT to scale.

           

 

2-12-1943

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

Wg/Cdr (Acting Go.Capt) S.C. Widdows, DFC. (Service Number 26218) reported for duty at RAF Stanmore and was informed by the Air Officer Commanding in Chief that he was to commence the formation of No. 85 (Base) Group.  His appointment was to be Senior Staff Officer  The Group Headquarters was to form in nucleus forthwith in order that the training and organisation of the Unit Base Defence Wing (also to be formed forthwith) should be put in hand with all possible speed.

 

3-12-1943

Appendix ‘B’ to Letter AEAF/S10019/Org

(PRO Ref:- Air 37-125, No 85 Base Defence Wing, Organisation)

 

85 BASE GROUP

Signals Units to be Transferred from 26 Group to 85 Group.

Base Signals Unit

No. 309 MSSU.

No. 15072 GCI.

No. 15081 GCI.

No. 15082 GCI.

No. 15074 GCI/Col.

No. 15092 GCI/Col.

No 349 MRU.

 

It is proposed that these Units should be transferred to No. 85 Group when it is ready for them.  The effective date will be notified to Air Ministry (D of O) by this Headquarters at a later date.

 

4-12-1943

Allied Expeditionary Air Force,  R.A.F. Component.  Formation of No. 85 Group.

(PRO Ref:- Air 37-125, No 85 Base Defence Wing, Organisation)

The following issued by Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Air Force, Kestrel Grove, Hive Road, Uxbridge, Middlesex, reference AEAF/S 10019/Org. 1A. refers back to Air Ministry Loos Minute LM/2828/D of O, dated 12 November 1943 and states:-

  1. 2.    These proposals provide for the formation in nucleus of the Air Staff of the Group Headquarters and for the formation of one Base Air Defence Wing and certain Signals Units.  Details are given in the following paragraphs:-
  2. 3.    Group Headquarters.  The nucleus of the Air Staff referred to in para 12 of this Headquarters letter FC/(KG)/S35202 dated 29 October 1943 will form forthwith at Uxbridge, arrangements  for the necessary accommodation having been made with the Officer Commanding the Depot.  At a later date when the Headquarters has expanded, it will probably be necessary to move it to another location.
  3. 4.    Base Defence Wing.  The Wing Headquarters, with the Wing Operations Room and the Movements Section referred to in Appendix ‘C’ to this Headquarters  letter FC/(KG) S/35202 dated 29 October 1943 , will form at Church Fenton.  Detailed formation proposals are given in Appendix ‘A’ to this letter.
  4. 5.    Airfield Headquarters.  Two Airfield Headquarters, each organised to cater  for one day and one night fighter squadron will form at Church Fenton and Scorton.  Detailed formation proposals are given in Appendix ‘A’ to this letter.
  5. 6.    It is confirmed that the total establishments of the nucleus Group Headquarters, the Base Defence Wing and the two Airfield Headquarters can be met from AEAF establishment resources.
  6. 7.    Squadrons. 

(a)     Night Fighters.  The Night Fighter Squadrons at Church Fenton and Scorton will remain in situ and will constitute the Night Fighter element in each Airfield Headquarters.  (see para 5 above).

(b)     Day Fighters.  The Day Fighter Squadron now at Scorton, and the one now at Hutton Cranswick which will be moved to Church Fenton, will become the Day Fighter element in each Airfield Headquarters.  Detailed organisation proposals are given in Appendix ‘A’ to this letter.

These four Squadrons will be employed initially in the Base Defence Wing, but will not be earmarked for continuous employment in this role, it being intended to exchange both day and night fighter squadrons between No.85 (Base) Group and the static Groups in accordance with para 23 of this Headquarters letter FC(KG)/S35202 dated 29 October 1943.

 

13-12-1943

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air 25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

Sgt L.T. Rimmer (Service Number 757004 reported for duty at RAF Uxbridge from HQ Allied Expeditionary Air Force as NCO i/c Orderly Room.

 

16-12-1943

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air 25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

Wg/Cdr (Acting Gp/Capt) S.C. Widdows DFC., arrived at RAF Uxbridge from HQ Allied Expeditionary Air Force.

F/Off (Acting Flt/Lt) P.N. Gallegos (Service Number 112543) reported for duty at RAF Uxbridge from Rear Headquarters 83 (Composite) Group as Camp Commandant.

 

17-12-1943

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air 25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

Took over the Sports Pavilion at RAF Uxbridge as temporary Headquarters for nucleus of 85 (Base) Group.  Headquarters AEAF letter AEAF/S.10019/Org 1A dated 4th December 1943 refers.

Accommodation consists of one entrance hall, 4 large offices and 4 small offices and small room as stationery store.  Rooms allocated as follows:-

Large:  SASO, Camp Commandant, Air Staffs’ Office, Unit Orderly Room

Small:  Wg/Cdr Operations, Sqn/Ldr Operations 1A,  Chief Signals Officer 1 and Sqn/Ldr Radar 1.

Establishment of nucleus Headquarters consist of:-

S.A.S.O.                      Group Captain.

Operations 1               Wing Commander.

Operations 1A             Major R.A.

Signals )G)                  Wing Commander.

Radar 1                       Squadron Leader.

Camp Commandant  Flight Lieutenant.

 

Other Ranks as per signal HQ AEAF P.177 dated 14th December 1943

Admin Clerks:      RAF – 1 Sergeant, 1 Corporal, 1 Aircraftsman, and 2 Aircraft Hands, (GD)

                             WAAF – 1 Corporal and 4 Aircraftswomen.

Motor Transport:  RAF – 1 Corporal

                             WAAF – 1 Aircraftswoman.

Two cars,  Passenger (HQ AEAF Signals dated 14-12-1943 and Q.189 dated 16th December 1943 refer).

 

18-12-1943

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air 25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

Captain (Temporary Major) G.H. Eaton-Smith, R.A. reported to RAF Uxbridge for duty from HQ 12 Group as Operation 1A (A/A and Searchlights).

 

20-12-1943

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air 25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

Flt/Lt (Acting Wing Commander E.T. Read, (Service Number 91083) reported for duty to RAF Uxbridge from Air Defence of Great Britain (ADGB) as Chief Signals Officer.

Sqn/Ldr (Acting Wing Commander) E.C. Wolfe, DFC (Service Number 37705) reported for duty at RAF Uxbridge from ADGB as Wg/Cdr Operations 1.

The following Units in 85 (Base) Group will form with effect from today as per Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Air Force Organisation Memorandum No. 9/ORG/43 para.26 dated 20th December 1943 (App. ‘B’).

                        Unit                                                                              Location

No. 85 Group Headquarters (nucleus)                                   Uxbridge 28 Group T.T.C.

No.21 (Base Defence) Wing                                                  Church Fenton 12 Group ADGB.

No. 141 Airfield Headquarters                                                Church Fenton 12 Group ADGB.

            264 Squadron (Mosquito)                                           Church Fenton 12 Group ADGB.

            234 Squadron (Spitfire)                                              Church Fenton 12 Group ADGB.

No.142 Airfield Headquarters.                                                Scorton 12 Group ADGB.

            604 (AAF) Squadron (Beaufighter VI)                        Scorton 12 Group ADGB.

            130 Squadron (Spitfire V)                                           Scorton 12 Group ADGB.

 

22-12-1943

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air 25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

Flt/Lt (Acting Squadron Leader) R.F. Tothill (Service Number 78003) reported for duty at RAF Uxbridge from Headquarters 60 Group as Sqn/Ldr Radar 1.

 

 

 

JANUARY 1944

 

1-1-1944     (D-157)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Group Captain William George Moseby, DSO, DFC, (Service Number 37327), arrived at RAF

Church Fenton to set up 21 Base Defence Wing (21BDW).

 

3-1-1944  (D-155)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Sites for Ground Controlled Interception Radars (G.C.I.s) and Chain Overseas Low Radars

(C.O.L.’s) selected.

 

7-1-1944  (D-151)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

F/Off C.F. Birch                                  posted in to 21 BDW for Intelligence Duties.

 

12-1-1944  (D-146)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Gp/Capt W.G. Moseby visited 85 Group and 12 Group to discuss 21BDW training programme.

 

13-1-1944   (D-145)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Sqn/Ldr A.M. Anderson, DFC.,          posted in to 21BDW for Operations G duties.

Flt/Lt Twining                                       posted in to 21BDW for Operations G duties.

Flt/Lt V. Harrison                                 posted in to 21BDW for Operations G duties

Flt/Lt F.R. Pender                               posted in to 21BDW for Operations G duties.

F/Off R.I. Henty                                  posted in to 21BDW for Operations G duties.

F/Off I.A.W. Sparks                            posted in to 21BDW for Operations G duties.

Flt/Lt C.F. Saunter                              posted in to 21BDW for Movement Liaison duties.

F/Off C. Morgan                                 posted in to 21BDW for Movement Liaison duties.

F/Off Chapman                                  posted in to 21BDW for Movement Liaison duties.

F/Off F.R. Preece                               posted in to 21BDW for Movement liaison duties.

F/Off P.M.R. Turner                           posted in to RAF Church Fenton for Fighter Control duties.

 

15-1-1944    (D-143)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Flt/Lt I.C.D. Clowes                             posted in to 21BDW for Adjutant duties.

Sqn/Ldr G.T. Symons                         posted in to 21BDW for Signals ‘G’ duties.

F/Off E.C.L. Catling                            posted in to 21BDW for Operations G duties.

 

19-1-1944   (D-139)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

349M.R.U. arrived at RAF Church Fenton.

 

21-1-1944      (D-137)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Mobile G.C.I. 15072 arrived at RAF Roecliffe.

 

22-1-1944    (D-136)

Omaha Beachhead, Page 2. (Center of Military History, US Army, Washington DC.)

General Eisenhower had his first meeting with the high Allied Planning Staff in England.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

 (PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Mobile G.C.I. 15081arrived at RAF Catfoss.

F/Off W.T. Rogers                              posted in to 21BDW, RAF Church Fenton for Fighter Control duties.

F/Off G.F. Williamson                         posted in to 21BDW, RAF Church Fenton for Tech. (Sigs.) duties.

 

24-1-1944    (D-134)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Mobile G.C.I. 15074 arrived at RAF Donna Nook.

 

25-1-1944    (D-133)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

 (PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Wing Commander Muir, S.O.A. No. 12 Group, visited 21BDW.

 

26-1-1944    (D-132)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Mobile G.C.I. 15082 arrived at RAF Hibaldstow.

 

27-1-1944    (D-131)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No. 309 Mobile Signals Servicing Unit (MSSU) arrived at RAF Church Fenton.

A conference was held attended by:-

Group Captain W.G. Moseby, (O.C. 21BDW),

Group Captain Manton (Church Fenton Sector),

Group Captain Burns (12 Group),

Wing Commander E.C. Wolfe (85 Group Operations),

Squadron Leader A.M. Anderson (21BDW).

Wing Commander Budd (141 Airfield),

Wing Commander Watson (142 Airfield),

Wing Commander Allington (264 Sqn),

Wing Commander Maxwell (604 Sqn),

Wing Commander Graham (Newcastle Sector),

Squadron Leader Arnott, (234Sqn),

Squadron Leader Higham (12 Group Operations),

Squadron Leader Huntingdon-Whiteley (RAF Church Fenton Operations),

Squadron Leader Innes (130 Sqn),

Squadron Leader Mills (Newcastle Sector),

Squadron Leader Neillson (RAF Patrington),

Squadron Leader Roberts (12 Group Operations),

 

29-1-1944    (D-129)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Three calibration runs done by 264 Squadron for mobile G.C.I.’s.

 

FEBRUARY

 

1-2-1944      (D-126)

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group;- 

 (PRO Ref:- Air25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

Organisation Memorandum No. 9/ORG/43 dated 29-12-1943  (Appendix B).  Authorised the formation with effect from 20-12-1943 of No.85 Group Headquarters (nucleus) Uxbridge, 28 Group T.T.C.; No 21 (Base Defence) Wing and No. 141 Airfield Headquarters Church Fenton, 12 Group ADGB and 142 Airfield Headquarters, Scorton, 12 Group ADGB.

Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group will refer direct to B.P.S.O. for posting personnel to and from these Units.  B.A.O. will eventually be responsible for maintaining the accounts of officers and airmen employed in 85 (Base) Group and it’s Units.

Organisation Memorandum No. 7/ORG/1943 dated 16th December 1943 (Appendix D) authorised the provision of a nucleus of Signals Units for No. 85 (Base) Group Headquarters and one Base Defence  Wing.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Mobile C.O.L. 15073 arrived at RAF Staxton Wold.

Total strength of Other Ranks (OR’s) posted to 21 BDW reported as being 57.

First practice interceptions with the mobile G.C.I.’s were carried out, consisting of two sorties by 264 Squadron with G.C.I. 15082 (RAF Kirton) and one sortie by 264 Squadron with  G..C.I. 15081 ( RAF Catfoss).

Farewell cocktail party on handover of RAF Church Fenton Sector by Gp/Capt Manton to Gp Capt B.S. Thynne.

Visit by Wg/Cdr McKenzie; (Senior Personnel Staff Officer) S.P.S.O., Allied Expeditionary Air Force (A.E.A.F.).

 

2-2-1944    (D-125)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Day and night practice interceptions were carried out with the mobile G.C.I.’s both by day and night whenever the weather was suitable.  604 Squadron made two sorties with G.C.I. 15081 (based at RAF Catfoss), 264 Squadron one sortie with G.C.I. 15072 ((RAF Church) Fenton), one sortie with G.C.I. 15081 (RAF Catfoss) and one sortie with G.C.I. 15082 (RAF Kirton) .

 

3-2-1944    (D-124)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Visit by USAF Officers of from 9th Air Defence Command – Brigadier G.L. Richardson, Brigadier Burnell, Colonel Nicolson and Major Nestor.  In the evening they went to the Happidrome at RAF Patrington to watch Bullseye Exercise from Searchlight and G.C.I. Cabins.  Before the Exercise, Colonel Nicholson flew in a Beaufighter of 604 Squadron.  604 and 264 Squadrons carried on with practice interceptions with the mobiles.

 

4-2-1944    (D-123)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The American Officers visited 31 Anti Aircraft (A.A.) Brigade, Tadcaster, the mobile G.C.I. (15081) at RAF Catfoss, and witnessed practice interceptions carried out by 604 Squadron.  They also visited the Humber Gun Brigade HQ and in the evening the G.O.R. to watch another Bullseye and local Co-operation.

The training programme with the mobiles was carried on.

 

5-2-1944    (D-122)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The American Officers visited M.R.U. and the E.O.R. in the morning and returned to London in the afternoon. 

Total strength of Other Ranks (OR’s) posted to the Wing to date is eighty four.

All the Mobile GCI’s carried out practice interceptions.

 

6-2-1944    (D-121)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The usual flying programme was carried out with the mobiles.

 

7-2-1944    (D-120)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Brigadier Horwood, D.S.O., CO of 105 AA Brigade visited the Wing.  Lt B.J. Madder attached from

16 Air Formation Signals to arrange D.R.L. Service.  A full flying programme with the Mobiles was

carried out.

 

8-2-1944    (D-119)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

GCI 15072 moved from RAF Roecliffe to RAF Church Fenton.  G.C.I.’s 15081 and 15082 carried

out their usual practice interceptions.

 

9-2-1944   (D-118)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Sqn/Ldr Emms, Tech Signals posted from 309 MSSU to Sector HQ for attachment to the Wing

until 29-2-1944.  Only one practice interception carried out due to the weather.  D.R.L.S. service

started to 142 Airfield and the Mobiles.

 

10-2-1944    (D-117)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

First practice interception carried out with G.C.I. 15072 since being moved to RAF Church Fenton.

 

11-2-1944   (D-116)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Mobiles carried out full training programme.

 

12-2-1944   (D-115)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Total strength of OR’s posted to 21BDW to date is 97.  All Mobile G.C.I.’s did full training programme.

 

13-2-1944    (D-114)

Omaha Beachhead, Page 2. (Center of Military History, US Army, Washington DC.)

General Eisenhower took formal command at Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Forces.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No flying due to the weather.

 

14-2-1944    (D-113)

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group:- 

(PRO Ref:- Air25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

Group Captain S.C. Widdows and the seven nucleus officers (Wg/Cdr H.V. Campbell, Wg/Cdr S.C. Wolfe, Wg/Cdr K.G. Read, Sqn/Ldr Tothill, Maj Eaton-Smith, Flt/Lt F.W. Gallagos and Flt/Lt  D.W. Askew) gave a cocktail party in the Ladies’ Room of the Officers’ Mess, RAF Station, Uxbridge for the purpose of putting No. 85 (Base Group) on the map.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No practice interceptions with the Mobiles due to the weather conditions.

 

15-2-1944   (D-112)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No practice interceptions with the Mobiles due to the weather conditions.

Minutes of a meeting held at 10.30am in Room 18, Highmasters House, St Pauls

Present;-         Wing Commander C.M. Stewart, (Chairman).

                        Wing Commander W.T. Hend, (Representing C.S.O. 85 Group).

Wing Commander G. Keighley, (Representing Signals Plans A.E.A.F.).

Wing Commander P.M. Holmes, (Representing C.S.O. 83 Group).

                        Flt/Lt W.C. Pahic, (9th Air Force).

 

Re Build up of 85 Group in American Sectors.

85 Group to have 3 Wings, each with 3 Ground Controlled Interception Radars

One G.C.I. would be built up as a Wing Headquarters and would control the other two

G.C.I.’s.  It would also have low looking radar to provide cover in the port area.

 

D-Day, 1st Tide, (Royal Air Force).                            Personnel        Vehicles

Recce Party for 85 Group G.C.I.                                      6                     2

Type 21 Set)  85 Group G.C.I.                                          8                     4

Type 11 Set)   “           “                                                      8                     4

85 Group G.C.I.                                                                70                   18

                                                                                          92                   28

 

D-Day, 2nd Tide, (Royal Air Force).

1 Type 1 Mobile Signals Unit  (MSU)                               56                    10

2 Light Wireless Sets  (LWS)                                            24                      4

                                                                                          80                    14

D+1 Day, 3rd Tide (Royal Air Force)

1 Type ‘T’ Mobile Signals Unit                )                           5                      2

2 Type ‘K’ Special Mobile Signals Units ) Tactical HQ    12                      4

1 Type ‘D’ Mobile Signals Unit                )                        52                    13

2 Vehicles Type 131)  85 Group G.C.I.                            30                      4             

2 Load Carriers        )    “            “

1 ‘Y’ Section             ) 85 Group G.C.I.                             35                      7

                                                                                        134                    30

 

 

D+1 Day, 4th Tide

‘A’ Echelon     G.C.C.                                                      110                   23

1 F.D.P with 1 Light Wireless Set (For G.C.C.)                 90                   24

1 Type ‘E’ Mobile Signals Unit for Tactical HQ                 22                     4

                                                                                         222                   51

 

D+2 Day

2 LWS’s (Seaward Looking) For 85 Group G.C.I.            24                    4

5 Wireless Operators Unit (W.O.U’s) (For G.C.C.)           25                    5

2 A.I.C. Signal Sets (For 2 Rearming & Refuelling Strip) 52                    6

1 Type ‘C’ M.S.U. (For Tactical HQ)                                 37                    ?(illegible)

                                                                                         138                   15+

 

D+3 Day

85 Group Ground Controlled Interception Radar/

Chain Overseas Low Radar, + Type 11 + Type ’J’           73                   23

+ Type ‘P’.                                                                          61                   18

1 Type ‘F’ M.S.U. (For 2nd 85 Group G.C.I.)                       6                     1

1 Type ‘Q’ M.S.U. (For 2nd 85 Group G.C.I.)                    14                     4

5 W.O.U’s (For G.C.C.)                                                       3                     1

                                                                                          157                  47

 

It was agreed that the requirements for the second 85 Group GCI (American Sector of Beach 46) were less than for the 1st as it would not be required to function as a Wing Headquarters.  It was agreed, however, that it should be provided with communication, back to the UK to enable it to perform independently of the first if necessary.  After discussion, it was agreed that there was a requirement for the following:-

D-Day, 1st Tide

1 Recce Party for 85 Group Ground Controlled Interception Radar, (G.C.I.).

1 85 Group G.C.I..

1 Type 11 Set.

1 Type 21 Set.

1 Mobile Signals Unit Type ‘T’.

1 Mobile Signals Unit Type ‘C’.

1 Mobile Signals Unit Type ‘D’.

1 Mobile Signals Unit Type ‘Q’.

1 Mobile Signals Unit Type ‘J’.

 

There was then a discussion on the introduction of the 3rd G.C.I. which would be required for the defence of the port immediately it was captured.

The discussion also considered:-

i)              The need for providing sufficient reserve of radar gear for the 2nd 85 Group G.C.I..

ii)             The need for allowing enough F.D.P.’s for the operational requirements which would arise to the south and in the peninsular.

iii)            The need for getting the 3rd G.C.I. and it’s associated Chain Overseas Low Radar’s (C.O.L.’s) in position as soon as possible after the capture of the port.

D-Day, 1st Tide.

2nd 85 Group G.C.I. + Type 11  + Type 21  + Type ‘T’ + Type ‘D’ + Type ‘C’ + Type ‘Q’

+ 2 x Type ‘J’s.

 

D-Day, 2nd Tide.

2 x A.S.C. Light Wireless Sets.

 

D+!, 1st Tide.

9th A.S.C. F.D.P. + corresponding Mobile Signals Units and Type ‘T’ + 1 Light Wireless Set.

D+1, 2nd Tide.

‘A’ F.C.C.

 

D+2

5 W.O.U.

 

D+3.

5 W.O.U. + 85 Group C.O.L., + Type 11, + Type ‘J’, + Type ‘P’.

 

D+4.

‘B’ F.C.C.,  5 W.O.U., 1 P.D.S., + 1 Light Warning Set.

 

D+5.

‘C’ F.C.C.,  ‘B’ MA??,  HQ, 3rd 85 Group G.C.I. + Mobile Signals Units, + Type 21, + Type 11.

 

D+6

1 85 Group C.O.L., + Type 11, + Type ’J’, + Type ‘H’.

1 F.C.C., 9th A.S.C.

 

D+7.

1 85 Group C.O.L., + Type 11, + Type ’J’, + Type ‘P’.

 

D+9.

9th A.S.C. G.C.I.

 

.

16-2-1944     (D-111)

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group:-   

(PRO Ref:- Air25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

Wg/Cdr (Acting Gp/Capt H. Eeles reported for duty from ADGB as Group Captain Organisation.

Headquarters No.85 (Base) Group moved to RAF Station Hillingdon, Uxbridge at 10.00 hours.  Temporary accommodation in buildings 30, 31, 220, 223 and 36.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Improvement in the weather conditions enabled full training programme to be carried out by the Mobiles.

 

17-2-1944    (D-110)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No practice Interceptions with the Mobiles due to the weather conditions.

 

18-2-1944    (D-109)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No practice interceptions with the Mobiles due to the weather conditions.

 

19-2-1944    (D-108)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Total strength of OR’s posted to 21BDW to date is 108.

G.C.I. 15081 moved from RAF Catfoss to RAF Catterick.

 

20-2-1944   (D-107)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

141 Airfield provided aircraft for practice interceptions with the Mobiles, but this was not possible

from 142 Airfield due to the weather conditions prevailing there.

 

21-2-1944    (D-106)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

141 Airfield again provided aircraft for practice interceptions, but the weather again prevented 142 Airfield from being used. 

G.C.I. 15081 moved from RAF Catterick to RAF Scorton.

A conference was held at 21 Wing HQ to discuss “Self Putting-on Trials” attended by:-

Gp/Capt W.G. Moseby (OC 21BDW),

Colonel Smith (160 A.A.O.R.),

Wg/Cdr A.M. Anderson (21BDW),

Major Hanson (160 A.A.O.R.),

Captain Kyle (105 Anti Aircraft (A.A). Brigade),

Captain Parsons, Army Operational Research Group  (A.O.R.G.),

F/Off C.F. Birch (Intelligence Officer, 21BDW),

Mr Humphreys (A.O.R.G.).

 

22-2-1944    (D-105)

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

Authority is given for the formation at Chigwell in No.26 Group of 27 Mobile Signals Units numbered from 5189 to 5215.  These MSU’s will be transferred  from No. 26 Group on dates to be agreed between HQ AEAF and No.26 Group.  Authority is given for the formation of a Base Signals Centre at Chigwell which, upon completion of formation and training, will be transferred to 85 Group on a date to be arranged between HQ AEAF and No.26 Group.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The “Self Putting On” trials were commenced in the morning by one aircraft of 604 Squadron controlled by G.C.I. 15072 ((RAF Church)Fenton) and were continued at the rate of two sorties a day until the afternoon of the 25th when they were concluded and considered most successful.  604 Squadron did a calibration run for G.C.I. (15081) at their site at Scorton and the normal practice interceptions were carried out.

 

23-2-1944   (D-104)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

A full training programme was carried out with the Mobiles.

 

24-2-1944    (D-103)

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

The establishments of the following Units have been authorised:-

No. 85 (Base) Group HQ;  Base Defence Wing HQ; Airfield HQ; Spitfire Squadron; Mosquito Squadron.

The Air Officer Commanding No.85 (Base) Group visited HQ No. 21 Base Defence Wing and No. 141 and 142 Airfield Headquarters at Church Fenton and Scorton on 24th, 25th and 26th February 1944.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Visit by Air Vice Marshall John Beresford Cole-Hamilton from 85 Group HQ.

A full training programme was carried out with the Mobiles.

 

25-2-1944   (D-102)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

A full training programme was carried out with the Mobiles.

 

26-2-1944    (D-101)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No practice flying due to weather conditions.

 

27-2-1944   (D-100)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No practice flying due to weather conditions. 

 

28-2-1944   (D-99)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Improved weather conditions allowed a full flying programme to be carried out from both Airfields.

Total strength of OR’s posted to 21BDW reported as being 113.

 

29-2-1944    (D-98)

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

Strength of HQ (Unit) No. 85 (Base) Group now 50 Officers and 150 Other Ranks (including 22 airmen on strength of No. 5058 D.M.S.U. and 14 Army Other Ranks on strength of No.16 Air Formation Signals).

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The only flying was one sortie by 604 Squadron with G.C.I. 15081, the weather conditions being bad. 

 

MARCH

 

1-3-1944     (D-97)

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

With effect from the 1st of March 1944, the Administrative Control of B.P.S.O. and B.A.O is transferred from Headquarters AEAF to Headquarters No.85 (Base) Rroup.

Squadron Leader N Best, G.C.I. 15082, received equipment from his Technical Development

Group  (60 Group)

Squadron Leader G.T. Symonds posted back to 85 Group HQ – He never arrived at RAF Church

Fenton with the other officers at the beginning of January 1944.  Good weather conditions permitted a full flying programme to be carried out with the Mobiles, both by day and night.  Six sorties in all were made.

 

2-3-1944    (D-96)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The flying programme was carried on with the mobiles.

 

3-3-1944     (D-95)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Flt.Lt F.R. Pender                   posted from RAF Church Fenton to Air Defence of Great Britain, (A.D.G.B).

Flt/Lt E. Urry                           posted in to RAF Church Fenton for Operations ‘B’ duties.

F/Off R.I. Henty                      posted from RAF Church Fenton to RAF Tangmere.

F/Off F.R. Preece                   posted to 21 Base Defence Wing.

F/Off F.C. Pyne                      posted in to RAF Church Fenton for Operations ‘B’ duties.

P/Off A.K. Slade                     posted in to RAF Church Fenton for Operations ‘B’ duties.

F/Off I.A.W. Sparkes              posted to A.D.G.B.

The weather still held good and the training programme was continued.

 

4-3-1944     (D-94)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No. 5131A Mobile Signals Unit (MSU) arrived at RAF Church Fenton.  The training programme was carried out as usual.  The first sortie under C.O.L. 15073 RAF Staxton control was carried out.

 

5-3-1944     (D-93)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The weather permitted the training programme to be carried on as usual.

 

6-3-1944   (D-92)

HQ 85 (Base) Group Operations Record Book

21 Base Defence Wing, RAF Church Fenton transferred from HQ, A.E.A.F. to HQ (Base) Group w.e.f. 10th March 1944.

No. 15081 G.C.I. transferred from  HQ, A.E.A.F. to HQ (Base) Group w.e.f. 10th March 1944.

No. 15082 G.C.I. transferred from  HQ, A.E.A.F. to HQ (Base) Group w.e.f. 10th March 1944.

No. 15072 G.C.I. transferred from  HQ, A.E.A.F. to HQ (Base) Group w.e.f. 10th March 1944.

No. 15073 G.C.I./C.O.L. transferred from  HQ, A.E.A.F. to HQ (Base) Group w.e.f. 10th March 1944.

No. 349 MRU transferred from  HQ, A.E.A.F. to HQ (Base) Group w.e.f. 10th March 1944.

No. 5131A MSU transferred from  HQ, A.E.A.F. to HQ (Base) Group w.e.f. 10th March 1944.

No. 309 MSSU transferred from HQ, A.E.A.F. to RAF Church Fenton.

 

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

The following Units are transferred to Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group with effect from 10th March 1944:-

No 21 Base Defence Wing                 Church Fenton..

No. 141 Airfield HQ -                          Church Fenton.

No. 264 Squadron –                            Church Fenton.

No. 234 Squadron -                            Church Fenton.          

No. 142 Airfiled HQ -                          Scorton.

No 604 Squadron -                             Scorton

No. 56 Squadron -                              Scorton.

No24 Base Defence Wing -                Acklington.     

No.147. Airfield Hq -                           Acklington.

No 409 (RCAF) Squadron -                Acklington

No. 322 (Dutch) Squadron -               Acklington.

No.148 Airfield HQ –                           Drem.

No. 29 Squadron -                              Drem.

No.91 Squadron -                               Drem.

No 15081 GCI -                                  21 Base Defence Wing.

No.15082 GCI -                                  21 Base Defence Wing.

No. 15072 GCI -                                 21 Base Defence Wing.

No.15073 GCI/COL -                          21 Base Defence Wing.

No.349 MRU -                                                21 Base Defence Wing.

No 5131A MSU -                                21 Base Defence Wing.

No.309 MSSU -                                  Church Fenton.

The following Units will be transferred to Headquarters No.85 (Base) Group with effect form 18th March 1944:

No.25 Base Defence Wing -               Castle Camps.

No.149 Airfield HQ -                           Castle Camps.

No. 410 (RCAF) Squadron) -             Castle Camps.

No.486 (RNZAF) Squadron -             Castle Camps.

No. 150 Airfield HQ -                          Bradwell Bay.

No. 488 (RNZAF) Squadron -                        Bradwell Bay.

No. 3 Squadron.                                  Bradwell Bay.

                                                           

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Only one sortie was carried out with the mobiles, as they had had more than their agreed proportion of P.I.’s (Practice Interceptions?) and the rest of the flying was done under Static G.C.I. Control.

 

7-3-1944      (D-91)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The usual training programme was carried out.

 

8-3-1944      (D-90)

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

No.234 Squadron is to be replaced at No. 141 Airfield HQ by No 124 Squadron with effect from 18th March 1944.  No. 234 Squadron is transferred to HQ ADGB with effect from18th March 1944.  No.124 Squadron is transferred from HQ HQ 11 Group to HQ No. 85 (Base) Group with effect from 18th March 1944.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

C.O.L.15074 moved from RAF Donna Nook to RAF Church Fenton.  The usual flying was carried out from 141 Airfield but there was no flying from 142 Airfield due to weather conditions in the North.

 

9-3-1944      (D-89)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

P/Off R.E. Lee posted in to RAF Church Fenton for Operations ‘B’ duties. 

A full training programme was carried out with the Mobiles and 604 Squadron sent twelve aircraft on Exercise ‘Eric’. 

 

10-3-1944   (D-88)

HQ 85 (Base) Group Operations Record Book

No 21 Wing was transferred from 12 Group to 85 Group. 

The training programme was continued as usual.

 

11-3-1944   (D-87)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Wg/Cdr B Ingham attached to 21BDW, RAF Church Fenton for Wing Commander, Flying, duties.

The usual training programme was carried out.

 

12-3-1944    (D-86)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No flying took place from 141 Airfield due to weather conditions, but 2 sorties were flown from 142 Airfield.

 

13-3-1944    (D-85)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

(Entry illegible)

 

14-3-1944    (D-84)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The Mobiles controlled aircraft from No. 604 Squadron in ‘Bullseye’ Exercise and fighter affiliation, and aircraft from 264 Squadron were controlled by static G.C.I.’s.  Four aircraft from 264 Squadron were scrambled but no enemy aircraft entered their area.

 

15-3-1944 (D-83)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The Mobile Operations Room (MOR) arrived at RAF Church Fenton.

G.C.I. 15082 moved from RAF Hibaldstow to RAF Church Fenton.

G.C.I. 15072 and C.O.L. 15074 moved from RAF Church Fenton to RAF White Waltham.

The usual training programme was carried out.  Three aircraft from 264 Squadron were scrambled

but no joy.

 

16-3-1944    (D-82)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The normal training programme was carried out with the Mobiles and both Airfields sent aircraft south on Exercise  ‘Eric’.

 

17-3-1944    (D-81)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Practice flying as usual with the Mobiles.

 

18-3-1944    (D-80)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Wg/Cdr B. Ingham posted to Wing for Wg/Cdr Flying duties.

Sqn/Ldr F.W.E. Ainsworth posted in to 21BDW for Tech Signals duties.

Usual training was carried out.  Four A/C of 264 Squadron and two A/C of 604 Squadron were scrambled to intercept raids approaching the Humber area but they proved to be friendly.

 

19-3-1944    (D-79)

Location Statement No. 3/44, Part 1. Units in No.85 (Base) Group.

(PRO Ref:- Air25-737, No.85 Base Group Air Staff and Org, Jun-Aug 44)

HQ. No. 85 (Base) Group –                RAF Uxbridge.

HQ. 21 Base Defence Wing -             RAF Church Fenton.

15072 GCI/COL –                               Church Fenton.

15073 GCI/COL -                               Staxton Wold.

15074 GCI/COL -                               Church Fenton.

15081 GCI -                                        Scorton.

15082 GCI –                                        Church Fenton.

5131A –                                               Church Fenton.

349 MRU -                                          Church Fenton.

 

141 Airfield HQ. -                                Church Fenton.

264 (Night) Squadron –                       Church Fenton.

124 (Day) Squadron –                         Church Fenton.

 

142 Airfield HQ. -                                Scorton.

604 (Night) Squadron -                       Scorton.

56 (Day) Squadron -                           Scorton.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Head Quarters 21BDW moved to The Poplars, Church Fenton.

The usual training programme was carried out.  Four A/C from 264 Squadron and four A/C of 604 Squadron were scrambled to intercept raids approaching Humber sites.  One A/C of 264 Squadron had two combats under RAF Patrington control and claims one DO (Dornier) 217 destroyed.  No claim is made in the second combat.

 

20-3-1944    (D-78)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

309MSSU moved from RAF Church Fenton to Newtown near Chesham.

No practice flying due to weather conditions.

 

21-3-1944    (D-77)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

G.C.I. 15072 and C.O.L. 15074 left RAF White Waltham for RAF Chigwell.

Only one sortie done with Mobiles due to weather conditions.  Four A/C from 264 Squadron were scrambled but enemy activity was too far South.  One A/C 604 Squadron (Ft/Lt  Surman and F/Sgt Weeton) on attachment at RAF Castle Camps was scrambled under Searchlight control, had two combats resulting in one JU. (Junkers) 88 destroyed and one JU 88 damaged.

 

22-3-1944    (D-76)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No flying with the mobiles.

 

23-3-1944    (D-75)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Only one sortie was controlled by the Mobiles.

 

24-3-1944    (D-74)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Twenty four aircraft took part in an exercise ‘Eric’. 124 Squadron being under control of G.C.I. 15082.

 

25-3-1944   (D-73)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The training programme was carried out as usual.

 

26-3-1944    (D-72)

Location Statement No. 4/44, Part 1. Units in No.85 (Base) Group.

(PRO Ref:- Air 25-737, No.85 Base Group Air Staff and Org, Jun-Aug 44)

HQ. No. 85 (Base) Group –                RAF Uxbridge.

HQ. 21 Base Defence Wing -             RAF Church Fenton.

15072 Type 15 COL unit –                  Church Fenton

15073 Type 15COL unit -                   Staxton Wold.

15074 Type 15COL unit  -                  Church Fenton.

15081 GCI -                                        Scorton.

15082 GCI –                                        Church Fenton.

5131A –                                               Church Fenton.

349 MRU -                                          Church Fenton.

 

141 Airfield HQ. -                                Church Fenton.

264 (Night) Squadron –                       Church Fenton.

124 (Day) Squadron –                         Church Fenton.

 

142 Airfield HQ. -                                Scorton.

604 (Night) Squadron -                       Scorton.

56 (Day) Squadron -                           Scorton.

 

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The training programme was carried out as usual.

 

27-3-1944    (D-71)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The normal training programme was carried out.  Both 604 Squadron and 264 Squadron sent A/C on Exercise ‘Eric’.  G.C.I.15082 had four A/C of 124 Squadron under their control in this exercise.

 

28-3-1944    (D-70)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

G.C.I. 15072 and C.O.L. 15074 arrived at RAF Church Fenton from RAF Chigwell.

No flying on account of weather conditions.

 

29-3-1944    (D-69)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

PRO Ref:- (Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

C.O.L. 15074 left RAF Church Fenton for RAF Staxton.

G.C.I. 15082 left RAF Church Fenton for RAF White Waltham.

A ‘Bullseye’ exercise was carried out under the control of the Mobiles.

 

30-3-1944   (D-68)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Flt/Lt Peter Frank Travers Wakeford (Service Number 40446) attached to 21BDW for Operations ‘G’ duties.

The normal training programme was carried out.  Two aircraft from 604 Squadron and two aircraft from 264 Squadron were scrambled but the enemy activity did not develop in this area. 

 

31-3-1944   (D-67)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

C.O.L. 15073 left RAF Staxton for RAF Bempton.

A Command ‘Bullseye’ Exercise was under the control of the Mobile Operations Room.

 

APRIL

 

1-4-1944   (D-66)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Wg/Cdr O.A. Guggenheim (RAFR, Service Number 81524) posted in to 21BDW. 

Sergeant Fulton Muir Adair, received equipment vehicles around this date at Renscombe Down,

near Swanage.

LAC W (Bill) Firby posted to GCI15082 as a late replacement

8 aircraft of 264 Squadron, 7 aircraft of 604 Squadron and 6 aircraft of 124 Squadron took part in Exercise ‘ERIC’.  A meeting was held at ‘The Poplars’ with Gp/Capt Moseby presiding to appoint an Officers’ Mess Committee, a Sergeants’ Mess Committee and the P.S.I. ready for the time when the Wing went ‘under canvas’.

The GCI was in training in Scotland.

 

2-4-1944     (D-65)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No flying due to weather conditions.

 

3-4-1944   (D-64)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Air Ministry Experimental Station (A.M.E.S.) No. G15073 arrived at RAF Bempton from RAF Chigwell.

Weather still unsuitable for flying.  The Orders previously issued for the Wing to go ‘under canvas’ were postponed on instructions from the Senior Medical Officer (S.M.O.), 141 Airfield on account of the weather conditions.

 

4-4-1944     (D-63)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The training programme was still held up owing to weather conditions.

 

 

5-4-1944   (D-62)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Air Ministry Experimental Station (A.M.E.S). No. G15082 arrived at RAF Church Fenton from RAF White Waltham.

Bad weather continued.

 

6-4-1944   (D-61)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Mobile Signals Unit 5140Q arrived at RAF Church Fenton from RAF Chigwell.

A slight improvement in the weather permitted 2 sorties to take place before it closed in again.

 

7-4-1944   (D-60)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Mobile Signals Unit (MSU) 5140Q attached to A.M.E.S. 15073 at RAF Bempton.

Improved weather conditions permitted the normal training programme to be carried out.

 

8-4-1944   (D-59)

21BDS Operations Record Book; (Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

21 BDW went ‘under canvas’.  A full training programme with the Mobiles was carried out both by day and night.

 

9-4-1944   (D-58)

Location Statement No. 6/44, Part 1. Units in No.85 (Base) Group.

(PRO Ref:- Air25-737, No.85 Base Group Air Staff and Org, Jun-Aug 44)

HQ. No. 85 (Base) Group –                RAF Uxbridge.

HQ. 21 Base Defence Wing -             Low Carr, Sycamore Farm, Church Fenton.

15072 Type 15 COL unit –                  Church Fenton

15073 Type 15COL unit -                   RAF Bempton.

15074 Type 15COL unit  -                  Staxton Wold.

15081 GCI -                                        Scorton.

15082 GCI –                                        Church Fenton.

5131A –                                               Church Fenton.

349 MRU -                                          Church Fenton.

 

141 Airfield HQ. -                                Church Fenton.

264 (Night) Squadron –                       Church Fenton.

124 (Day) Squadron –                         Church Fenton.

 

142 Airfield HQ. -                                Scorton.

604 (Night) Squadron -                       Scorton.

56 (Day) Squadron -                           Scorton.

 

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

MSU’s 5141Q and 5142Q arrived at RAF Church Fenton from RAF Chigwell.

The normal training programme was carried out.

 

10-4-1944   (D-57)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

MSU 5141Q was attached to the A.M.E.S. 15081 at RAF Scorton.

The good weather continued and the training programme was carried out.

 

11-4-1944    (D-56)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

A full training programme was carried out.

 

12-4-1944    (D-55)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The training programme was carried on from 141 Airfield at Church Fenton but the weather conditions prevented any flying taking place from 142 Airfield at RAF Scorton.

 

13-4-1944    (D-54)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Weather closed in at Church Fenton but flying was again possible from Scorton.

 

14-4-1944   (D-53)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Sgt F.M. Adair promoted to Flight Sergeant.

A.M.E.S. No. G15082 left RAF Church Fenton for RAF Patrington.

The normal training programme was carried out.

 

15-4-1944    (D-52)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

This was the commencement of Exercise ‘Driver’ in which 264 Squadron took part.  The normal training programme took place with 604 and 124 Squadrons.

 

16-4-1944    (D-51)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

C.O.L. No. G15073 moved from RAF Bempton to RAF Church Fenton.

A.M.E.S. No. G15072 moved from RAF Church Fenton to RAF Patrington.

M.S.U.5140Q moved from RAF Bempton to RAF Hunmanby.

No flying was possible due to weather conditions.

 

17-4-1944    (D-50)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

All Squadrons were occupied taking part in Exercise ‘Driver’.

 

18-4-1944   (D-49)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Gp/Capt W.G. Moseby and Flt/Lt  I.C.D. Clowes (Adjutant) left Church Fenton for a conference at 85 Group which took place at 10.00 hours the following morning.

A.M.E.S. No. G15082 moved from RAF Patrington to RAF Church Fenton.

264 Squadron took part in Exercise ‘Driver’ and had 5 aircraft scrambled at night.  No flying was possible from Scorton due to weather conditions.

 

19-4-1944   (D-48)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Lt/Cdr A.T. Shaw (RNVR), Lt A. Ingham (RNVR) and Lt G. Wilson (RNVR) attached to 21BDW for liaison duties.

No flying was possible due to weather conditions.

 

20-4-1944   (D-47)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

All Units recalled to RAF Church Fenton.

18 men and 4 vehicles of MSU 5131A went to Stapleford Tawney.

604 Squadron and 264 Squadron took part in Exercise ‘Driver’.  6 aircraft of 264 Squadron were

scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft approaching the Hull area.  P/Off Bines and F/Off Corre

obtained a contact on an enemy aircraft which lead to a combat resulting in the destruction of a

(Messerschmitt) Me177destroyed..

 

21-4-1944    (D-46)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Wg/Cdr A.M. Anderson and Sqn/Ldr Frederick Joseph Trollope left RAF Church Fenton with Mobile Operations Room (M.O.R.), A.M.E.S. No. G15082 and certain personnel detailed from other units to take part in Exercise ‘Fabious’. 

F/Off W.T. Rogers posted from RAF Church Fenton to Air Defence of Great Britain (A.D.G.B.).

 

22-4-1944    (D-45)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

All Units were busy packing up ready to leave RAF Church Fenton.

 

23-4-1944   (D-44)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The Main convoy consisting of Wing HQ & the remaining Mobile Units left RAF Church Fenton for RAF Sopley spending the first night at Lutterworth Army Staging Camp.

 

24-4-1944   (D-43)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The convoy left Lutterworth Army Staging Camp for Zeals where it stayed for the night.

 

25-4-1944   (D-42)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Main convoy left Zeals for RAF Sopley and a new camp was set up in Sopley Park.

 

26-4-1944    (D-41)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

C.O.L. 15074 and MSU 5140Q set up at Spyway Barn, Worth Matravers.

G.C.I. 15082, MSU 5142Q, M.O.R. & MSU 5131A attached to Exercise ‘Fabious’.

G.C.I. 15081, MSU 5141Q and MSU 5226J set up at Swineham Farm, Wareham.

G.C.I. 15072 and MSU 5227J set up at Langford Waver, West Wellow.

21 BDW HQ, 349MRU, C.O.L. 15073, MSU 5131A, MSU 549P, MSU 5228J, Air Formation

Signals set up in Sopley Park.

 

30-4-1944    (D-37)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Captain E.W. Straw (Royal Marines) Attached to 21BDW.

 

MAY

 

Operation ‘Overlord’ Instruction,Section VIII – Radar Ground and Air (undated)

(PRO Ref:- Air 25-727, No. 85 Base Group Staff Apps, May 1944.)

This gives fairly detailed information on sites chosen for each of the GCI or COL units on landing in Normandy.  As an example the following relates to 15082 GCI:-

ii)             15082 G.C.I. (first tide)

Site ZA.

Remarks.  a)  not very well screened, giving permanent echoes scattered from S.E.W.S.W.

b)    good access.

c)    Orchard for camouflage.

d)    Signals site ‘EB’.

iii)            Alternative site for 15082.

Site ZA 2.

             Remarks.  a)  screening less than site.

b)    good access.

c)    Orchard cover for domestic site, camouflage for site poor.

d)    Signals site ‘EB 2’.

All other GCI.COL sites on all beaches are similarly covered.

 

 

1-5-1944     (D-36)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Sqn/Ldr N. Best mentioned at RAF Sopley as a G.C.I.  Specialist.

Flt/Lt Jarrett attached to 21BDW for Equipment duties.

 

3-5-1944   (D-34)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

A.M.E.S. No. 15073, MSU 596F and MSU 5228J moved to Warren Hill, Christchurch.

 

5-5-1944     (D-32)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Lt M.B. Denny, (Royal Marines) attached from RM A.A.O.R.

Lt J.K. Morland, (Royal Marines) attached from RM A.A.O.R.

 

6-5-1944    (D-31)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

604 Squadron, having arrived at Hurn, carried out two practice interceptions with C.O.L. 15073.

 

7-5-1944     (D-30)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Captain T.D. Catchside, (Royal Marines), Lt R.K.Mays, (Royal Marines) and Lt J. Shankland, (Royal Marines), attached from 162 A.A.O.R.

No practice flying took place.

 

8-5-1944   (D-29)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Flt/Lt I.C.D. Clowes detached to Air Ministry. Belgrave Square.

Flt/Lt McCarthy posted to 21Base Defence Wing as Adjutant.

A.M.E.S. No. G15072 moved from Sturminster Marshall to RAF Sopley.

604 Squadron carried out one practice sortie with the Mobiles.

 

9-5-1944     (D-28)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Flt/Lt F.H. Ainsworth posted from the Wing to Peterhead.

604 and 488 Squadrons both carried out practice interceptions with the Mobiles.

 

10-5-1944    (D-27)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

MSU 5276 ‘D’ arrived at 21 Base Defence Wing.

The training programme was carried on.

 

11-5-1944    (D-26)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

604 Squadron carried on the training programme.

 

12-5-1944 (D-25)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

MSU 5159 ‘J’ moved to Llanassa, Prestatyn.

A full nights training was carried out.

 

13-5-1944    (D-24)

Allied Expeditionary Air Force, Operation ‘Overlord’, Administrative Instruction No. 34, Carrying of Arms, Ammunition and Steel Helmets.

(PRO Ref:- Air 25-738, No.85 Base Group -Appendices Organisation)

Object

  1. The object of this instruction is to state the scale of arms to be issued to, and carried by, personnel proceeding from their tactical dispositions to Europe and to define the responsibilities of those concerned in the issue, care and training in the use of such arms.

General Policy

  1. It is essential that all personnel proceeding with their Units and reinforcements are issued arms, ammunition and steel helmets to standard scales as laid down in Air Ministry letters S.89890/E43/A dated 7th December 1943 and 3rd February 1944 and are fully trained in the methods of handling and maintaining the same.
  2. Unit Commanders are to ensure that all personnel under their command are in possession of steel helmets and all personnel are issued with arms and ammunition to the following scales:-

Officers.                      )

Warrant Officers.        )

Members of Aircrew.  )                       Pistols or revolvers and 6 rounds of

Despatch Riders.        )                       ammunition.

MT Drivers.                 )

Service Police.            )

 

All other personnel as to 75% rifles and 50 rounds of ammunition

                                        25% Sten guns and 200 rounds of ammunition.

  1. Each Unit is to have available for immediate issue in addition to the above quoted quantities:-

Pistol or Revolver – 12 rounds per person.

Rifle – 100 rounds per person.

Sten gun 200 rounds per person.

  1. Such arms and ammunition are to be a personal issue on the charge of each individual who is to be responsible for their care, maintenance and safe custody.
  2. All issued arms and ammunition are to be carried at all times after Units commence movement from their tactical dispositions.

(See revision to this under date 26th May 1944)

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

MSU 5293 ‘J’ transferred from 21BDW to 24 Base Defence Wing.

Another full nights training programme was carried out.

 

14-5-1944    (D-23)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The nights training programme was interrupted by hostile activity and the Mobiles being ordered to close down.  Four aircraft from 604 Squadron were scrambled which resulted in two contacts.  Ft/Lt Surman and F/Sgt Weston claim 1 DO. (Dornier) 217 destroyed.  F/O Macdonald and Sgt Baird claim 1 JU (Junkers) 188 damaged.  488 Squadron had 8 aircraft scrambled which resulted in 5 combats.

 

15-5-1944    (D-22)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Two Mosquitoes of 604 Squadron had combat between Cherbourg and the Isle of Wight claiming one Do217. (Dornier) destroyed and one Ju.88 (Junkers) damaged.

 

16-5-1944    (D-21)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

488 Squadron carried out training programme.

Offensive patrols to intercept aircraft carried out by 604 Squadron North of Cherbourg claims one Ju.88 destroyed South of the Isle of Wight.

 

17-5-1944    (D-20)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

488 and 604 Squadrons carried out training programme.

 

18-5-1944    (D-19)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

488 and 604 Squadrons carried out training programme.

 

19-5-1944    (D-18)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

488 Squadron carried out practice.

 

20-5-1944    (D-17)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No entries.

 

21-5-1944    (D-16)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Wg/Cdr A.M. Anderson left Sopley ‘with certain detached personnel’.

Flt/Lt William Douglas (Bill) Wiseman left RAF Sopley and arrived at Sarum (RAF Old Sarum).

Cpl W.E. (Bill) Adderley; States that he was located at (Old) Sarum – it was a Sunday.

 

22-5-1944    (D-15)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

F/Off S.D. Cooke posted to 21 Sector (Intelligence).

 

23-5-1944    (D-14)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Wg/Cdr B. Ingham promoted to War Substantive rank of Sqn/Ldr.

Sqn/Ldr A.P. Crowley posted to 21Sector (Signals).

Sqn/Ldr Patley posted to 21 Sector (Admin).

Flt/Lt Richard Noel Rycroft posted in to 21BDW as Medical Officer (MO).

Flt/Lt A.R. Boughton attached to 21 Sector (Accounts).

F/Off Avery attached to 21Sector (Equip)

Captain Straw, (Royal Marines) attached to 21 Sector.

Lt Henry, (Royal Marines), attached to 21BDW.

Lt J. Moseland, (Royal Marines) attached to 21BDW.

A.C. (Archie) Ratcliffe: encamped ‘somewhere in the New Forest for 2 weeks’.  With a Canadian Regiment.

 

24-5-1944    (D-13)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman left Sarum (RAF Old Sarum).  Arrived at Camp D2. (It is assumed that Camp D2 was, in fact, based at or near to Sopley Park).

F/Off P. Morgan posted from the Wing to Headquarters R.A.F.N.I.

Five aircraft of 604 Squadron were scrambled on uneventful patrols.  Practice flying was also carried out.

Eight aircraft of 488 Squadron flew uneventful patrols.  Training programme also carried out.

 

25-5-1944    (D-12)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Gp/Capt W.G. Moseby meeting with Sqn/Ldr Norman Best and ‘Andy’.

Gp/Capt Burns assumed to have been at a  meeting.  Returned to (60?) Group.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best reported 859, – kitted, learnt part of plans, back to (60) Group in evening.  Thursday – Leighton Buzzard.

604 Squadron carried out training programme.

 

26-5-1944    (D-11)

Allied Expeditionary Air Force Headquarters, Amendment No. 1 to Administrative Instruction No.34

(PRO Ref:- Air 25-738, No.85 Base Group -Appendices Organisation)

The above was issued by A.E.A.F, Kestrel Grove, Hive Road, Stanmore under reference AEAF/TS.11454/B

Reference AEAF Administrative Instruction No. 34 forwarded under cover of this Headquarters’ letter of even reference dated 13th May 1944, it is requested that the following Amendment be made:-

            Para 3, Line 8.  Delete “MT Drivers”

                        Line 10. Delete “All other personnel” and substitute “Personnel of Forward Units”.

            Add at the end:-

            “Personnel of all other Units”:-

 

                                    Two Thirds – Sten guns and 200 rounds of ammunition

                                    One Third – Rifles and 50 rounds of ammunition.

 

The Amendment was signed by Wg/Cdr J MacKenzie, D/S.P.S.O.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Burns (Gp/Capt?) Left for ‘S’ (‘S’ not identified) in the afternoon with ‘Hitch’ (Flt/Lt Edward Hamilton Hitchcock) and (Sqn/Ldr) Norman Best.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best and Flt Lt Edward Hamilton (Ned) Hitchcock (RNZAF) summoned by Air Commodore Reeve to be told they would be landing on D-Day.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best saw Senior Air Staff Officer (SASO) and Air Officer Commanding (AOC).  Saw Gp/Capt and head of 1st Major IG re US and 85(Group?).

Flt/Lt S. Barr attached to 21BDW from 60 Group. 604 Squadron carried out a training programme.

604 Squadron carried out a training programme.

 

27-5-1944    (D-10)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Wg/Cdr A.M. Anderson reported to be Senior Controller and C.O. of the Landing Party of 21BDS.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Saturday – at Camp D2, Sopley which he also describes as a Transit Camp. 

Instructed to attend a briefing at 22.00 hrs with Gp/Capt (Moseby?) and CSO from 85 (Group?). 

Scheduled to leave with G.C. (Moseby?) for transit camp (Sopley?).  Went alone at 18.00hrs. 

Briefing at 22.00 hrs attended by Sqn/Ldr Norman Best and CSO from 85 (Group?).  Gp/Capt

W.G. Moseby scheduled to leave with Sqn/Ldr Norman Best for transit camp (Sopley?).  Did not

go – reason not stated’.

In his “15082 GCI Chief Technical Officer’s Experiences” Sqn/Ldr Best  states that ‘…there

were about 150 of us all told…’

Five aircraft of 604 Squadron scrambled on defensive patrols. Practice flying also carried out.

 

28-5-1944    (D-9)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Sqn/Ldr N. Best worked on convoy etc.  Sunday – Camp D2, Sopley.

Flt/Lt R.H. Miskin (Service Number 84240) posted in to 21BDW. (A&SD) w.e.f. 21-5-1944.

Flt/Lt G.R. Peerless posted in to 21BDW. (A&SD) w.e.f. 21-5-1944.

F/Off A.M. Johnson posted in to 21 BDW, (Accounts), w.e.f. 20-5-1944.

P/Off E.F. Barber posted in to 21BDW. (A&SD) w.e.f. 21-5-1944.

P/Off R.T. Walford posted in to 21BDW. (A&SD) w.e.f. 21-5-1944.

An aircraft of 604 Squadron (pilot, F/Off Miller and Navigator, Warrant Officer Catchpool) airborne with four others on defensive patrol at 22.45 hours on the 27th.  Attacked an enemy H.S.L. in the Channel at 00.14 hours.  Strikes were observed on the boat, but, when orbiting for a second attack the pilot was called off by the Controller (Ft/Lt Richards, North Matravers G.C.I.).

 

29-5-1944    (D-8)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Monday – Camp D2, Sopley; with ‘Andy’ on recce.

An aircraft of 604 Squadron (Pilot, Ft/Lt Harris, Observer, Sgt Hopkinson) was scrambled in the early hours of the morning for a ‘bogey’ in the Cherbourg area.  The ‘bogey’ was identified as friendly and on setting course for home our aircraft was engaged by one of our own night fighters and just north of Start Point and shot down.  The pilot managed to bale out and was rescued by the Navy but the Observer, apparently unable to jettison the door was drowned.  Our aircraft was showing (unreadable) lights and I.F.F.

 

30-5-1944    (D-7)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Sqn/Ldr N. Best; Tuesday -Camp D2, Sopley; Lazy day!

Five aircraft of 604 Squadron scrambled on uneventful patrols.  Practice flying was also carried out.

 

31-5-1944   (D-6)

Medical History of the War, No. 85 (Base) Group, Period 1-5-1944 to 31-5-1944.

(PRO Ref:- Air 49-88, No.85 Base Group, Medical History).

The report above records basic information on what had been done to ensure that Medical Units

were up to strength and properly equipped.  There were clearly concerns about the lack of medical

Orderlies:

The position with regard to Medical Officers has improved considerably, and the position regarding

medical stores and equipment is satisfactory.  The position with regard to nursing orderlies is,

however, lamentable. A variety of postagrams, signals and conversations during the past two

months have as yet had little effect and there are 16 units one hundred percent deficient in A.O.

nursing orderlies and 12 units one hundred per cent deficient in NCO nursing orderlies.  There is a

total deficiency of 59 orderlies and this is without taking in to account the requirements of No. 8

General Hospital and the Convalescent Depot which will be for a further 89 nursing orderlies.

The position is very serious and this has been represented to a higher authority.  A postagram

sent on 4th May 1944 stated that ‘not only is the situation serious regarding overseas requirements

but it it is adversely affecting the training and preparation of units particularly inoculations and

vaccinations’.

The Report goes on to state that the Senior Medical Officer had visited various Units during the

month amongst which was 604 Squadron at Hurn and 21 Base Defence Sector at Sopley on the

26th May 1944.

It then reports the additions of Medical Officers to Units amongst whom is Flt/Lt Rycroft posted to

21 Base Defence Sector.

 

Sqn/Ldr N. Best: Wednesday – Camp D2, Sopley. Poole in morning.  Visit from Chalk!  Issued

with rations.  Went to Bournemouth.

 

JUNE

 

1-6-1944     (D-5)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Sqn/Ldr N. Best; Thursday – collected gear together at Camp D2 (Sopley?).  On D-4, a Thursday

afternoon, the whole camp received movement orders.  We were not told where we were going or

why, but we guessed.

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman; Stated that he embarked on this day.

Cpl Smythe (US Rangers); Reported as acting as liaison on D-Day.

The Troops were employed getting everything ready to leave for Embarkation Port on the following morning.  All British Maps were given in and further items of equipment were given to the men.  Everybody was going to be briefed at 15.00 hours but this was postponed three times as Wing Commander Anderson was not available for the briefing.  Eventually at 2200 hours SquadronLeader Trollope gave the troops a talk as to what the job in hand was.  He then briefed the Officers afterwards.  Immediately after this, everyone retired in order to be ready for an early start in the morning.

 

2-6-1944     (D-4)

Appendix No. 42, Royal Air Force Radar Units Under the Allied Expeditionary Air Force, June 1944

Shows in chart format the composition of the three Base Defence Sectors and 21Sector is shown as comprising:-

            15082 G.C.I.

            15081 G.C.I.

15072 G.C.I.

15073 C.O.L.

15074 C.O.L.

349 M.R.U.

Four L.W.S.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Breakfast at 06.30 hours and the first three craft loads left D.2 at five minute intervals starting at 09.05 hours, the other two craft loads not leaving until the afternoon.  The convoy moved at very slow speed to the embarkation port and all were embarked by 17.30 hours and the L.C.T.’s pulled out and anchored in the harbour.  As soon as the LCT had been anchored, rations were issued to the troops as very few of them had eaten since breakfast.  They eventually bedded down for the night, some in vehicles and others sleeping on the top, there being an issue of two blankets per man.  Very few of the craft had any conveniences or accommodation at the disposal of the troops although one or two of the craft did manage to have some of the rations cooked in the cook-house.

Final two craft loads left Camp D.2 in the afternoon.

Wg/Cdr A.M. Anderson moved with Sqn/Ldr N Best from Camp D2 to LCT at Portland, 15.00hrs

- Type 15 Convoy.  Friday -Moved in convoy from Camp D2 to Portland, 1500.  Settled down 0100

(D-3).

Sqn/Ldr N Best;  Friday at dawn the trek started, and from three o’clock in the morning troops

and lorries, transports and tanks, rumbled away from Camp D.2.  The Radar contingent, small by

comparison with the rest,  went away in three convoys, the first with (Ft/Lt)Hitchcock at about 1000

hrs and the last with Wing Commander Anderson and myself bringing up the rear with our Jeep at

1500.  At the gate, American police gave us local maps and route forms and told us to make for

Portland, about thirty miles away.  We had to travel very slowly on account of the waterproofing of

our vehicles and even so, after fifteen miles a halt of one full hour was called to allow the engine to

cool off.  At Portland we scattered on to the beach and got a warm meal with an issue of “candies”,

gum and periodicals.  It was a fine sunny evening, the bay was full of craft, among which we

picked out several small American LCT’s carrying Part I and Part II of our unit, already seaborne,

and further out in deep water, another of our old friends, the Fighter Direction Tender, (FDT).  The

organisation was magnificent, and had been all along.  Every move went to timetable and fitted in

with every other move.  Meals were issued just where and when they were needed; MT and

waterproofing experts were now moving systematically along vetting every vehicle and mobile

tankers followed them, filling up with POL (Petrol, Oils and Lubricants).  We, the third and final

convoy of 21BDS had been allotted to a British LCT and at nine o’clock we started running

aboard.  We finished at eleven.  It was still light, there had been no hitches apart from a spot of

obstinacy from The T.21 (Type 21) Ops Vehicle – soon overcome with persuasion and a mobile

crane., and we were very soon out in deep water, one more indistinguishable microcosm in the

vastness of the invasion fleet.  Five LCT’s were used altogether to take the 15082 convoy plus the

first echelon of 21BDS.  Types 11, 15 and 21 were in different craft.  Our craft had a crew of six,

two officers and four ratings, British and Australian.  The skipper was Australian.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO); (Diary)  Very confident about evening meeting. (Worrying about Sunday

morning bus!) Goodbye to Paddy [newlywed wife] up lane. Tent mate passed on cycle.12.30 after

busy morning at Holmsley South G[roup] C[aptain] gives marching orders. Appeared to be death

sentence. Sudden parting was probably better, however. No chance of communicating. No time to

pack. Silent journey through Bournemouth. ?Last look at England. Did civilians know what was

happening? Sudden arrival at convoy. War very near. Hours [and] hours of delay in reaching quay.

Daren’t think about the previous evening in Salisbury (cricket on close, bath. Love). Where was

Paddy. Had she got my message [she had not]. Very uncomfortable night in cabin of lorry after

drinking with Skipper. Surprised to be in harbour next morning. Perhaps it was a bluff after all.

Constantly thinking of contrast between S[alisbur]y and present debacle. Very likely to end in

disaster.Removed from giving inoculations and put into the advance party!  Arrived at LCT,

borrowed warm clothing from Flt/Lt Douglas Charles (‘Duggie’) Highfield.

 

3-6-1944      (D-3)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Wg/Cdr A.M. Anderson; Led the third and last convoy with Sqn/Ldr N Best from Camp D.2 at Sopley to Portland. (Note. This probably happened on the previous day, 2-6-1944).

 

3-6-1945      (D-3)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Wg/Cdr A.M. Anderson; Led the third and last convoy with Sqn/Ldr N Best from Camp D.2 at Sopley to Portland. (Note. This probably happened on the previous day, 2-6-1944).

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Saturday – On board LCT 611 all day.

Sqn/Ldr Geoffrey Clarence Harding, MC, (Padre); met with Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft for the first time and they had a ‘gloomy discussion’.

Flt/Lt ‘Ned’ Hitchcock; Reports as having led the first convoy from Camp D.2 at Sopley to Portland. (Again this is at odds with movement reported on 2-6-1944).

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman; Reports a ‘fake’ (sic) start from harbour.  (all others report the first attempt to start the invasion being on the next day, ie 4-6-1944).

Muir Adair’s Story – Chapter 4 – D-Day

At the final briefing at Portland F/Sgt Adair was advised that his LCT would lead the other four onto the beach at 0900hrs on D-Day

Cpl W.E. (Bill) Adderley; States “Saturday – Embarked for France.  (Embarkation point not given).  Held up by bad weather”.

Cpl E. Heathcote;  1st Echelon of 21BDS embarked at Portland in 5LCT’s.

The day was quite uneventful.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and most of the troops spent the day lying in the sun, there being nothing else they could do, although a few of them bathed off the LCT.  The day’s rations were issued in the morning and they were in sufficient quantity but soon became very monotonous after a day or two. 

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft:-  (Diary)  Waiting all day. Very poor living conditions. Probably better than future however. Would it be my last wash for days? Would I be seasick. Move during night but came back. Gradually getting used to idea of unit. No clothes however to keep me warm. Scarf [and] pullover from [Flight Lieutenant] Duggie [Highfield]. Much better. Signs of life on shore. Love to escape. Saturday afternoon as it used to be.  Visited next boat in evening. Padre [SquadronLeader Geoffrey C. Harding] met for first time. Not a good prognosis. Felt we were being driven to disaster. Singsong between ships in cold. Reminder of last war. Depressing ++. Slept in back of lorry on netting. Luxury!

 

4-6-1944    (D-2)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

04.00hrs Armada left port (Portland).  Before reaching Poole the fleet turned back and was back in harbour by 07.00.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Sunday – False start in the morning.  Returned to Portland.

Sqn/Ldr G.C. Harding:-  A few days later we were packed up again in our lorries making our way

to Portland Harbour where we had to embark on landing craft.  It was interesting to see the racial

diversity of the Americans.  The crew of the landing craft were nearly all solid Swedes, the more

volatile Italians were not considered suitable for this kind of work.  We packed our way in and

started to make our way for France.  We set off on the Saturday and I was lucky in finding a bunk

and being able to retire to bed.  When I got up early the next morning, on a sea which I suppose

was to be considered slight, but which was upsetting me, I noticed to my surprise we were

heading westwards back past the Isle of Wight on our return to Portland Harbour.  Apparently the

invasion had been cancelled and we were told later it had, we hoped only been postponed.  Back

in harbour it happened to be Trinity Sunday, our ships were all together so I had an impromptu

service on one of them and told my congregation that we should undoubtedly feel extremely

frightened, this was entirely normal and nothing to be ashamed about, that we just had to keep our

heads.  I hoped that what I was saying was the truth.  I had, of course, no means of knowing at all

but my remarks went down quite well and next evening we sailed again.

Flt/Lt E.H. Hitchcock;  Informed landing would be H hour + five (about high tide) on Sector Dog-

Red.  Set sail in the late afternoon for France from Portland.  Turned back on account of bad

weather.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft:- (Diary)  Much the same. Wandering round. Waiting for meals – very poor

when they came. Some had lunch in cabin. Later went to cabin with young S[ub] L[ieutenan]t who

read “Nicholas Nickleby”. Not able to read much. Dirty weather. Would it be postponed? Hoped so!

Keenness wearing off. Party from 7.0 onwards. Technical towards end – smoke in eyes. Heard

W[ing] C[ommander] And[erson] say “He’s only just married too”. My fate seemed to be sealed.

What would it be like?

Cpl E. Heathcote;  0400 the invasion fleet left Portland but turned back because of bad weather.

Back in port by 0700.

A.C. (Archie) Ratcliffe;  On the evening of June 4th, we were told to move out of the camp. I

guessed that the time must have been about 21:30 –  22:00hrs. We picked up an army chap of the

16th air formation signals who was a king’s corporal with a military medal, who was to travel with

me. Bill Pilling had as his oppo (opposite number) another signal bod. Embarked as light was

fading. I could just make out the Isle Of Wight on our left. It was very wet and rainy and blowing

like the devil. Once on the channel it was getting very rough and very stormy. Vehicles shifting

about made it some of the lad’s sea sick, including  the sailors. Suddenly, we  were told we were

returning back to land;

 

5-6-1944      (D-1)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

At 04.30 again left Portland.  Reached rendezvous off the Normandy coast just after daybreak on the 6th.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Monday – At sea.  Set sail at 0300 hrs.  Huge convoy, Heavy seas.

Flt/Lt E.H. Hitchcock;  We spent the day pottering about in a borrowed dinghy, rowing around

among the ships.  Later, of course, we learned of the critical decision to postpone the landings for

a day to minimize the effect of expected bad weather.  That afternoon, we set off again, and woke

to grey skies and a barely visible French coast.

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman;  Moved (ie left harbour for Normandy).

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft:-  (Diary)  Fairly rough all day. Lay on netting most of time. Didn’t risk food.

Nothing seemed to matter. No point in washing or shaving. Felt too weak anyway. Still hoping

Mary was right. Miles [and] miles of lumpy sea. Dead end. Slept well however at night.

Cpl E. Heathcote;  Embarked in very, very bad weather in LCT’s.  They were seasick.  0430 the

invasion fleet left Portland.

A.C. (Archie) Ratcliffe;  We sailed about the same time on the evening of June 5th, 1944. Still

rough and stormy. L.C.T. really thumping about. I haven’t mentioned the names of the others. I

shall have to rely upon my memory. Bill Pilling, two Sandersons,  Dad Sanderson from Blackburn,

Curly Sanderson from Manchester, A. Sullivan from Brighton, Tubby Rowberry, George Forshaw.

Sea running very rough; tried to sleep on top of the load, but I did this unsuccessfully. I managed

to get a little in the cab. A lot of apprehensive talk, some silly jokes from Dad Sanderson,  but very

funny all the same. Underneath all the joking, was a lot of serious thinking, nerves and

apprehension, not to say some of what would lie ahead.  The Commander of the L.C.T. called us

together and told us that we to go to a beach under the name of OMAHA, and that we would be

landing in the American sector, at H2 hours. Had a couple of scares that there were some E-boats

about and possibly a submarine.   The sea was still running high and some of the lads were still

feeling sea sick, and would be glad to get ashore. As it turned out, there would be a change of

mind later.

 

D-Day

HQ 85 (Base) Group Operations Record Book

Air Staff Policy – The following units of No 85 Group were phased in with the assault forces 0h D-Day:-

1st Echelon of 21 Sector Operations with 15082 GCI into the American Sector.

 

Units which landed during the Assault Phase on D-Day

1304 Mobile Wing RAF Regiment.

1305 Mobile Wing RAF Regiment.

104 Beach Section.

107 Beach Section.

15082 Ground Controlled Interception Radar  (Omaha beach).

15083 Ground Controlled Interception Radar  (Juno beach).

21 Base Defence Sector (21BDS) Omaha beach.

24 Base Defence Sector (24 BDS) Juno beach.

51 Beach Balloon Flight.

Provost and Security Unit.

Emergency Landing Strip Echelon.

11 Air Formation Signals.

16 Air Formation Signals.

Mobile Signals Units (MSU’s) 543, 554, 582, 5006, 5030, 5132, 5141, 5153, 5160, 5276.

Note.  Only those units underlined above are known to have landed on Omaha beach

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

And (Air 25-728, No.85 Base Group Air Staff, Jun – Aug, 44)

The first echelon of 21 (B.D.) Sector embarked in five LCT’s on 2-6-1944 at Portland where they remained in harbour until Sunday, 4-6-1944.

At approximately 04.00 hours the Armada left port and set sail for the English(French?) coast but before reaching Poole the whole fleet turned around and was back in port again by 07.00 hours, where it remained until 04.30 hours on the following morning.  This time the Armada set sail for the invasion of the Continent, and the rendezvous off the coast of Normandy was reached soon after daybreak on 6-6-1944.  The sea voyage was completely without enemy interference.  Enemy aircraft were conspicuous by their absence, none being seen at all during the voyage.  The sea was rough with a South West wind blowing.

            The first attempt at landing was made at 11.30 hours o 6-6-1944; the convoy moved towards the beach, the vehicles, all with their engines running, ready to disembark when the ramps were lowered, but as the convoy approached the beach it was observed that this beach was still under machine gun fire as heavy shell fire and it was obviously impracticable to land the convoy then, as without warning it withdrew until 1700 hours.  During this time, considerable shelling of the cliffs was being done by the Navy to try and silence the shore batteries that were established on the cliffs, continually shelling the beach.  This went on right up to the time of landing.  At 1700 hours the convoy again headed for the beach, an order having been given to land.

            As the convoy drew close to the shore, it was observed that this beach, which was St Laurent about one mile to the West of Colleville beach where it was supposed to land, was under heavy shell fire from 88mm guns; these guns had got the range of the beach and were consistently shelling the American vehicles which were lined up at the head of the beach and unable to get a way as the exits were blocked, but nevertheless, in spite of this, it was apparently decided suitable to land 21 (B.D.) Sector.  Most of the craft were landed in about 4’ 3” of water so that immediately they (the vehicles?)struck a hole they were drowned.  In all, 27 vehicles were landed but out of this lot, only 8 were driven off the beach, although a number were salvaged later in varying stages of disrepair.

            LCT 649 was landed considerably further out to sea than the other craft on a sandbank with about 4’ 3” of water but the vehicles very soon dropped into the water about 6’ deep and were drowned.  The men having to scramble on top of the vehicles to avoid also  being drowned.  All the vehicles from this craft were lost except one which never got off the craft as there was difficulty in starting the engine and the skipper refused to wait.  It was noticeable that the skipper of this craft had only one interest and that was to get the vehicles off and to be away as soon as possible., having no consideration whatever for the fate of the vehicles and the troops he was disembarking.  It is considered that this skipper did not look after his craft in the best interests of the men on board, as on no less than three occasions he got so far behind the convoy that one of the accompanying launches had to order him to close up on account of the risk he was taking.

There was great difficulty in getting the men from this craft ashore as there was considerable distance to swim, but they were all safely got ashore in the end and nobody was drowned.

            Very soon after the vehicles were landed, they came under further shell fire from an 88 and a number were destroyed in this manner as it was impossible to move them off the beach, both exits being completely blocked.  This beach was more or less deserted except for the fact that American wounded who had been lying about since the first assault and the crews of American vehicles that could have been pulled out of the water with little ill effect to them or their equipment were left stranded in the water and the tide quickly came up and went over the top of them and they were lost to sight until the tide went down again.  It was reported that in view of the fact that the Emergency Medical Services were almost wiped out and the fact that the beach was still under heavy shell fire, that it was decided not to land the elaborate beach organisation that was to be set up to deal with the disembarkation of the follow up Units.  In spite of this fact, however, it was apparently decided that it was a fit time to disembark 21 (B.D.) Sector.

            The whole Unit came under heavy shell fire while they were on the beach and the troops were got to the top of the beach as soon as possible and dug foxholes in the shingle and there they remained until the situation could be reviewed and a place found for the Unit to be moved to, it being obvious that the front line was about a mile off the beach.

            The Padre, Squadron Leader Harding, gallantly reconnoitred the little village of Les Moulins which was situated at the westerly coast (sic) of the beach; he came back and reported that this village was not under fire and also gave some cover.  Squadron Leader Trollope then went over the beach and ordered everybody to move to this western end of the beach, the troops at this time being scattered in craft loads.  For the next two hours, all personnel who were not wounded were employed at the exit of the beach, helping either to pull out some of the vehicles from the sea with a bulldozer which had now arrived on the scene, or with carrying wounded, both our own and the Americans off the beach.  The doctor, Flight Lieutenant Ryecroft (sic) with the aid of the Padre, a lot of the time under fire, were continuously employed rendering wonderful medical aid to the wounded under the worst possible working conditions from the time of landing until late the following afternoon, when all the wounded were got to the American First Aid Post, overlooking the next beach.  All the serious cases were evacuated to the UK that night except WingCommander Anderson, who remained until the following day, to have his arm x-rayed and also to see what was going to happen to the Unit.

            When this work at the beachhead was completed, the Unit moved up the road to this small hamlet of Les Moulins.  Some of the wounded were taken to a courtyard of a house in this village, the rest being taken to a convenient crater on the beach, above high water mark and were made as comfortable as possible under these conditions for the night.  The rest of the Unit spent the night lying on the edge of the road at the entrance to the village which was situated between two thickly wooded hills and in most places there was a low wall on the side of the road which rendered them some shelter from the continuous sniping that went on all through the night.  These cliffs were full of snipers that had underground passages like rabbit warrens, honeycombing the whole area.

            Soon after dark, 6 Junkers 88’s, the only enemy aircraft so far seen or heard, came over and dropped two bombs on the beach, one of these named aircraft was shot down by the Navy.  At intervals, throughout the night, there were odd bursts of fire, from the Ju 88’s bursting just above us. 

 

US General Omar Bradley;  Considered abandoning the Omaha landing because of stubborn German resistance.

Wg/Cdr A.M. Anderson;  Wounded in action with 4 other officers and 31 OR’s.  Reported wounded in the arm.  He waited until D+1 to have his arm x-rayed before casevac (Casualty Evacuation) to England.

Sqn/Ldr F.J. Trollope;  Gathered together men scattered over Omaha Beach to it’s west end.  Ordered troops to western end of the Omaha beach.  Recce’d further inland from Les Moulins.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Tuesday – Left Portland at 0530. Tried to land 0930 pulled off.  Lay off until 1700, ordered in.  Tuesday – Omaha beach – the beach was already littered with dead and wounded and the wrecked vehicles of our Advanced Beach Engineering Party.  It was going to be no walkover.  There were two American patrol boats strolling (sic) up and down inshore watching all this.  Traffic cops afloat, with the unmistakeable air of traffic cops, and they were controlling the shipping.  We had had “landing tickets” issued to us on the other side; necessary documents no doubt – no modern war can be fought without documents – but the prospect of lining up somewhere and solemnly handing over tickets permitting us to invade in that holocaust was grimly funny, and gave rise to some ribaldry.  Nine o’clock, the first low tide was our zero hour, but as we drew in we were met with concentrated machine gun fire, and patrol boats signalled us back.  The beach was still in enemy hands, and we were to stand off about a mile until matters improved.  We tried again at 1700 hrs and this time with three other craft carrying small tanks and armoured cars, we made it.  No-one else did.  Mortar and shell fire became more intense than ever and not for another thirty six hours, when the neighbouring beaches had linked up with us and cleared the Hun right out did anything else come ashore on Omaha Red.  The offloading went smoothly and according to plan.  Down the ramp with the engine racing in low gear, a slight thump on the sea bottom and the steady, seemingly interminable grind through three feet of water for some forty or fifty yards to dry land.  The crane went first, with a Corporal, an LAC and the Wing Commander.  I went next with the Lieutenant AFS in the Jeep and the rest of the convoy followed.  We drove standing up remembering, as we had been taught, not to touch any controls except for the Steering wheel.  The beach obstacles, mostly concrete posts with mines fastened on the top, were all exposed by the low tide and were easily avoided, the sea bottom was fairly level, we just prayed hard about the mortar shells and snipers. And eventually the entire Type 15 GCI set up arrived safely on the beach, aerial transmitter, two diesels, crane, R-T (Receiver and Transmitter Units). One Jeep and four Crossleys.

Types 11 and 12 had not fared so well.  One of their vessels had dropped it’s ramp on a concealed sandbank and, after running out a few yards, the vehicles had dropped, one after the other into eight or nine feet of water.  The men clambered out and swam ashore but it was hopeless at that time to try to get the vehicles out.  We pulled out two the next day with the bulldozer but lost the rest.  The Type 11 aerial vehicle had to be blown up as it became a danger to navigation.  The Type 13 aerial vehicle went into a very deep hole and was never seen again.  The beach was not a healthy place – not by any means and our immediate concern was to get off it and into the shelter of the little ravine that led away from the cliffs inland.  This ravine was blocked by a solid barrier of earth some five or six feet high.  The very first landing party of battle troops, the Beach Engineering Party, had been supposed to clear this obstacle with a bulldozer but on account of the heavy opposition, they had been wiped out almost to a man with their task unfinished.  We were in line and good order but trapped on the beach with the tide coming in, the barrier in front and American vehicles on both sides.  We were trapped on Omaha Red in as helpless and desperate a position as any writer of imitation war thrillers could have imagined.  Also we were suffering casualties.  Our Wing Commander had been hit in the arm and the leg and others had been killed or wounded. 

Some of us copied the Americans and dug foxholes.  Some of us (myself included) thought that moving about upright was a as safe as lying down static, and with our Medical Officer (MO) and one Medical Nursing Orderly (MNO) who did the most gallant work that day (ours were the only medicos on the beach – the others had been wiped out and the reserves had not been able to land0 we began to organise what comfort we could for the wounded and get some cooperation from our American neighbours on a way out.

After half an hour – a lifetime of nightmare it seemed – we did at last find a working bulldozer with a driver, and got him up to the ravine.  Here he bit into our earth barrier as nonchalantly as only a bulldozer can, and in a matter of minutes we were free and on the move.  We got our vehicles off and up the valley into the quiet and comparative safety of a deserted village (Les Moulins?).  Here we made an emergency casualty clearing station, and for the rest of the evening and most of the night went backwards and forwards to the beach collecting wounded.  We, ourselves, had lost 12 men dead and 40 seriously injured.  The Americans had suffered terribly and the beach drew on, was strewn with dead so thick that it was impossible to move a vehicle without crushing bodies.  I think four thousand troops landed altogether on Omaha Red, and that over half of them became casualties.  Refused permission by ‘Andy’ (identity unknown but logically a senior officer ie Wg/Cdr Anderson) to leave beach with convoy.  Salvage operations on Omaha beach with other Tech Officers. 

Sqn/Ldr G.C. Harding (Padre):-I was told that I was going to join the invasion of France.  I was summoned to a meeting at Uxbridge with my immediate superior old Bill Wilkie, who died not so long ago, and he said he’d chosen me to go with a small RAF Radar unit which had been lent to the Americans because the American unit had not been able to get over from America.  I was to go with them, land on Omaha beach on D Day itself at 11 o’clock in the morning by which time the beach would have been completely cleared, and our instructions were to drive 11 miles inland, set up all our apparatus – things called half cheeses which were located on the backs of trucks – and got ready to cover the beach after nightfall from the attacks of German bombers.  This time next morning the sea was still unpleasantly high and I’ve never woken up to a stranger spectacle: here we were, I should guess about two miles or three miles off Omaha beach in the weirdest and strangest collection of ships that I’ve ever hoped to see.  A few regular warships, the rest were every conceivable kind of auxiliary vessel, large landing craft, small landing craft, the lot: sitting there completely unmolested from the air apparently out of range of the guns on the French coast just waiting for our change to go in and land.  It was certainly a sight which I shall never forget.  It was of course a miracle of a naval operation that everyone arrived apparently at the right place at the right time.  And so we sat down to wait.  The RAF officer commanding my unit had suffered very, very badly indeed from seasickness and asked me if I would mind taking his place on the first truck out while he would retire to the fourth or fifth.  I was quite prepared to do this, but of course it was long past 11 o’clock.  As we were to know later, the American forces had an appalling time on Omaha Beach.  The first wave of Americans 1st Division lost something like 90% casualties, and the ones that came after did not do very much better.  The Texas Rangers performed prodigies of valour scaling the cliffs over on our right to silence the heavy guns only to find later that they were not actually manned.  That was why we had not been molested at sea.  We were finally landed, I suppose, about half past six in the evening.  We were fully prepared for this.  One of the minor incidents which amused me and my fellows was we’d all been issue with American condoms, or French letters in order to preserve our watches and other valuables and I took the opportunity to seal a box of communion wafers in one of these things which served me well later on.  It caused enormous amusement to my officer friends.  So we went in.  We were landed a fairly long way from the short in fairly deep water.  We touched down and went ahead.  The exhaust pipe protruded through the roof and somehow the engine kept going.  Suddenly we went down into a deep hole – a covered shell hole – and had to get out as fast as we could.  I got out and found I could stand on the bottom with the water just up to my chin, while my driver who was rather shorter than myself took my hand and he swam and I waded ashore together.  I never think the English Channel is a good place to bathe in the best of time but early in June it is still extremely cold and I felt extraordinarily cross.  The reason why the Americans had had such a bad time was almost immediately apparent.  The under water defences had been pierced in only two places on our stretch of the beach.  We landed opposite the cliff which now contains the enormous American cemetery.  We made our way through these gaps in the wire – the wires were still very much in evidence – and collected on the beach wondering what we were supposed to do next.  We certainly had no opportunity of proceeding eight miles inland.  I managed to change my clothes and put on something dry before we were then picked up by an 88 millimetre firing from somewhere over the cliffs, guided I presume by some spotter in a hole in the cliff face.  In quarter of an hour we had lost all of our extremely valuable radar equipment and were not left with even a radio set to communicate our troubles to the people still at sea.  So we then had to do our best.  Just along the high water line was a long line of American wounded who managed to creep up above the high water line.  Those who had not been able to do so had presumably been washed away by the tide.  We had with us a young very capable MO who had been plucked away from his honeymoon 3 days after his marriage to come and join us, and a very hard working medical orderly, and they gave me one or two things to play with like a tourniquet and one or two little tubes of morphine to inject.  Well, we were plagued by that 88 millimetre.  In fact, in the end, we had 25% casualties.  We rushed up and down the beach one way or the other but we couldn’t get out of the range of the beastly thing.  I thought we really had had it, I was giving myself up to an early grave and I must admit that most of my remarks on the previous Sunday to the congregation now felt rather thin.  But it came to me very strongly indeed, almost as though a voice spoke in my ear that we must off that beach at all costs and take refuge under the shadow of the cliffs.  So I went forward, found a suitable site in the 3rd house up on the left, where there was an open courtyard.  The few Germans ran away and apparently hid themselves in the house next door.  This proved to be no trouble to us.  And I then waved forward everybody I knew to get off that blasted beach – I use the word in its proper sense – as fast as we could.  Technically I think I committed mutiny, though technically I think I made the proper choice.  But somehow we got off the beach, and got our wounded off too.  And our Medical Officer and his orderly worked right on through the night, tirelessly patching up our wounded and American wounded.  I simply don’t know how they did it.  I was of extremely little use.  There were a number of people obviously in pain and making a great deal of fuss on the beach.  I went to them and comforted them and then found that they were the people who survived whereas the people who were actually dying around me were the people who were not making any sound at all.  A second time round I’d have known better what to do, but with no previous experience I don’t think I can be blamed for doing the wrong thing.  Somehow or other we got off the beach – an American bomber did come over us overnight and drop a few bombs and fortunately didn’t succeed in hitting anybody.  And then rather like St Paul on a famous occasion we prayed for the dawn.  Well, when dawn came there wasn’t much relief; the night before an American Colonel and his Aide had come past our post complimenting us on what we were doing.  I asked him whether we had much chance of surviving the night.  He said he thought we would be alright as they were holding the enemy a quarter of a mile up, at the crossroads.  It did not sound extremely reassuring but it was at any rate the best news we had.  Luckily we found a small American truck full of medical supplies that had got stranded in a ditch and we got a lot of valuable stuff for the use of our doctor.  But it wasn’t until about 11 o’clock the next morning that a full medical team arrived and took over.  Unfortunately, through lack of communication, the people at sea had no idea what was really going on at our end of the beach.  It was a short experience, my own short experience of real warfare.  I’ve no desire whatever to repeat it.  In our recent Falklands battle I shared to the full the emotions of the people who went ashore.  The night before we landed I must admit I spent a few hours of extraordinary disquiet and dismay and I wasn’t so afraid of being killed or even dangerously wounded.  I was afraid of showing fear.  What would have happened if my nerve had broken and I tried to run away?  Of course in practice I needn’t have worried because there was nowhere to run to.  I certainly had no intention of dashing back into the English Channel, and as I said before the only thing to do on an invasion beach is to go forward and get as close to the enemy as you possibly can.  I say that with the benefit of hindsight. 

Flt/Lt Effinberger;  Recce’d for site to find a parking site for the convoy.  Ended up in an American compound (bit too much like a German?).

Flt/Lt D.C. Highfield (Variously known as ‘Hoppy’ or ‘Duggie’); Reported killed in action along with 9 OR’s.  MO., Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft,  States “Duggie killed next to me under lorry”. 

Flt/Lt E.H. Hitchcock (Ned); At about 0900 hours our LST suddenly set off from the middle of the invasion fleet – straight in – our leadings, the other four following.  The recce party was third.  A patrol craft tossing about in the rough seas came close: ‘What wave are you?’  I didn’t hear the reply, but the patrol seemed satisfied:  ‘In you go!’  As we neared the beach we could see clearly that it was not yet captured.  The men ashore were taking cover from enemy fire; there was a vehicle burning; as we watched, an explosion blew a figure high in the air.  Aboard our vessel was a US observer, who had experience at Pantellaria.  He, we heard, had assessed the situation and concluded that the last thing needed ashore at this stage was a collection of technicians armed with radar aerials.  Rather relieved, we turned seaward, presuming we could land next day.  We stood off while naval guns pounded the shore.  We saw the Vierville clock tower destroyed (we later learned it was suspected of housing German artillery observers).  Mercifully, we knew nothing of the desperate battle by the American infantry to gain a foothold (this was the sector eastward of us, where the Americans had been carried by strong tidal currents).  Nor did we know of General Bradley’s debating whether the Omaha landing should be abandoned.  About four o’clock in the afternoon we were concluding that it would be useless to land now – no chance of working that night.  Then, suddenly, in we went!  It was now low tide, so we could be landed below the beach obstacles which the Army engineers had not yet been able to clear, because of enemy fire.  Then followed the debâcle.  The unplanned landing at low tide instead of high had disastrous results.  Some vehicles were landed on sandbars and stalled as they drover into deeper water.  Others sank in patches of soft sand on the long run up the beach and were immersed as the tide rose.  Those reaching the shoreline found that the wire and earth barriers had not yet been breached and there was no way off the exposed beach.  They became sitting targets for enemy shellfire, and shrapnel-punctured diesel oil drums fed the flames.  On our LCT, the ramp splashed down as the vessel grounded; the vehicles roared down the ramp, the water rose steadily around our waists; the engines gave up, and we sat – thinking the thoughts with which I began this tale.  Suddenly, past us there surged a Thorneycroft – great bow wave, cab high above water – and leaning out, a grinning face under a tin hat, hand-signaling to us what might have been charitably interpreted as a V-sign.  Just the irrepressible humour needed to jerk us back to practicality!  I waded ashore to where our rescue Diamond-T crane waited, and managed to drag a cable back and grope under water to hook up.  By the time it became clear that the surging se had embedded the wheels too deep for retrieval to be possible, the water had risen to cab-top level.  There was no way ashore except a swim in full kit, made possible by two factors – nightly keep-fit runs back at 60 Group, and that assault respirator, giving buoyancy!  The crane crew had already one man wounded, and after I staggered exhausted up the beach between the obstacles, I could see nothing and no one – no beachmaster, no medics – just dead and wounded, and abandoned vehicles.  After a brief rest, leaning against one of the vehicles, it seemed to me best to get busy; the urgent task of being to save what equipment we could.  Flames threatened an undamaged truck.  I managed to pull out a wounded GI from his doubtful shelter underneath it, and drove my first ever heavy transport clear of the flames.  Then a bulldozer suddenly appeared and cleared away the barriers, and there was a way off the beach, and our group seemed to come together again, rescuing what vehicles could be driven up to a field in the narrow valley and collecting wounded for evacuation.  We had suffered heavy casualties – ten dead and forty wounded.  The Americans had suffered horrific casualties, and the beaches were strewn with their dead.  In the midst of all this, some of us found a place to sleep, under a hedge in the grounds of a seaside villa.  I managed to borrow a blanket, and I don’t recall discomfort from wet clothes.  There was wry compensation in that the only air attack on our location came from a lone Ju88 flying very low to avoid the hail of fire from the assembled shipping.  (This uncontrolled ack-ack fire was to make the night-fighter task more difficult.

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman;  Landed Moulins (Les Moulins).

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (Medical Officer);  The movement to France was done in three main bodies.  One G.C.I. plus attached bodies landed on D-Day (Total 190 Officers and Other Ranks).  After waiting off shore since 0900 the LCT’s were sent in at 1700 hrs.  Under fire after 5 minutes.  LCT649 touches down too far out.  Was next ship to MO’s.  In centre LCT craft; vehicles reached the shore without difficulty; vehicles on each wing ‘drowned’.  LCT’s on either wing did not come under shell fire until about an hour had elapsed.  Reported tending to the wounded on the beach assisted by the Padre (Sqn/Ldr G C Harding).  Serviceable vehicles moved through gap in wire to a small hamlet ¾ mile inland (Les Moulins?).  All wounded attended to by 2130hrs and carried up the beach away from the advancing tide.  G.C.I. landed on D-day unable to do the job it had been landed for due to heavy losses of material.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft(Diary)  Awake 7.30. Up and about 8.0. French coast in sight. Seemed about 10 miles away. Tidied packs etc. Would it be as rough as I expected? Nearly landed at 11.30. Not a sign on the beach. Suspected a trap. Wandering around during rest of morning and early afternoon. No food provided. Anxious looking people. Reading [“]Kings Row” in lorry cabin just before we set course. Keeping well down in cabin “in case”. Still no trouble. Ship [LCT 649] next to us touches down too far out. Jeeps fail to make it. Abandoned. Another L.C.T. [Landing Craft, Tank] crashes into back. Occasional shell on beach. All I expected. We do good landing. Blocked very soon. Lie on sand near L.C.T. trap. Abandoned rifle nearby. No casualties seen. Bombardment commences after ten minutes. Not taken seriously at first. Odd gun probably not spotted. Hole in shingle would be “safe as houses”. Quickly disillusioned. American wounded too. Dashing about everywhere with panniers. “Only a matter of time”. No plan. No exit. Duggie killed next to me under lorry. Miraculous escape. Shell hole wounded. Very hard to get help. Tide coming up. ?Village [Les Moulins] safe. Sure to be shelled during night. Bomb near water – dirt everywhere. Felt it to be last night on earth. Dreaded morning. Working all night at first aid. (N.B. Timed from 10.0 onwards by Pop at Newbold Terrace! Must tell him that.)

1.  After waiting off shore since 0900 hrs, approximately, the L.C.T.s were sent in at 1700.hrs.  I was in the centre of the landing craft and our vehicles were able to reach the shore without difficulty.  We came under shell fire five minutes after reaching the beach.  The L.C.T.s on either wing were less fortunate and a large percentage of the vehicles were drowned.  The wings were not subjected to shell fire however until about an hour had elapsed.

2. We had been given to understand that when we reached the beach we should be told immediately where our transit area was, and should be sent there without delay.  In point of fact the beach was without any visible organisation and, since there was no exit, the vehicles remained strung out for about three hours.  The German Artillery took full advantage of this and shelled us with great accuracy for several hours.  The men took refuge under vehicles and in hastily dug fox-holes in the line of shingle at the upper limit of the beach area.  The majority of wounds were compound fractures of the limbs, although the men were all lying down when injured.  During the treatment of these freshly wounded personnel it was discovered that there was about twenty American Soldiers, who had been wounded in the early morning assault, lying in holes in the shingle.  They had only received elementary first aid and after twelve hours in the open were in some cases severely shocked.  Their dressings were checked and measures taken to keep them warm.  (The American wounded could give us no idea where we could contact American Medical Units.)  The first American Medical Officer seen by me was seen at 2200 hrs.  I saw no more until 1200 hrs June 7th.

3. At 2130 hrs all the wounded had been attended to and had been carried to the shingle away from the advancing tide.  The shelling had ceased except for spasmodic bursts.  The vehicles remaining were slowly moved through a gap in the wire and put in a small lane leading to a cluster of houses ¾ mile inland.  The problem of disposing of the wounded was next tackled.  A radio van was cleared and used to transport some of the wounded to the small village, where they were put beside the road and in the gardens of the houses.  There were no houses fit to accommodate them.  In all thirty wounded were thus moved.  It was considered likely that the Enemy would shell the village during the night or early the next morning so another thirty wounded were accommodated in a large gun emplacement about four feet deep.  This afforded protection from anything except a direct hit.  This emplacement was a hundred yards inland from the beach.  The night was fortunately mild and except for one bomb dropped fifty yards away from the emplacement was quiet.  The hours of darkness were spent in moving around the wounded adjusting dressings and applying dressings to wounds that had not been discovered in the early hours of the landing. (Since the wounded were so numerous, it was not found practicable to attach labels to each patient since the time was fully spent doing first aid.)  Considering the severe nature of many of the injuries and the elementary anti-shock measures taken, it was expected that many patients would die during the night.  Actually three patients died out of about sixty wounded and these were severely wounded and would probably have died in hospital had one been available.

4. The expected attack did not materialise when dawn came, but there was much sniping from close range and half a dozen people were hit, none seriously however.  When searching above the village for hot water at 0700 hrs, I came across three U.S. Medical Orderlies in a trench.  They had apparently left their first aid post in the village during the previous evening, discretion being the better part of valour.  After some minutes they were persuaded to leave their security and during the rest of the morning did very valuable work in the village giving plasma transfusions to about a dozen selected cases while I was attending sixteen U.S. Soldiers who had evacuated themselves from the beach on the previous evening and were under the shelter of a wall half way up the village.  They were discovered accidentally by one of our party at about 0800 hrs.  Except for one head injury and two abdominal wounds the patients were not seriously injured.  The first abdominal wound case died soon after I had reached the group, while the second case had his rectum involved and was passing blood frequently.  He was given a plasma transfusion on the spot and recovered sufficiently to be taken to the village by stretcher.  At about 1200.hours, several U.S. Medical Officers appeared in the village from a casualty Clearing Hospital about a mile and a half away.  They took over from the Medical Orderlies and were able to look after the wounded in the village generally.  They apparently had not been aware of the position on this smaller beach and were surprised to see the number of casualties.  The wounded were moved off in available vehicles during the afternoon to the Casualty Clearing Hospital at Omaha Beach.  The operation was slow because of traffic blocking the narrow lanes, but the last patient was removed from the vicinity of the beach by 1700 hrs – 24 hrs after we had landed.

GENERAL OBSERVATION

I. The expected Medical organisation on the beach was not present because of heavy U.S. casualties (assault forces and Medical Officers) earlier in the day.  No information was obtainable about casualty clearing posts.

II. Our own casualties were much higher than expected (25% approximately and added to those were the American soldiers left on the beach from the early morning assault)

III. Available Medical supplies were soon used (25 Tubonic ampoules were followed by Morphine Tartrate tablets used sublingually).  Shortage of stretchers and bearers was felt acutely.

IV. First Aid was carried out remarkably well by individuals.  The Unit Padre did a Medical Officer’s work under very difficult conditions.  Without the aid of these people the casualties would have been considerably higher.

V. The absence of an ambulance was probably the most severe set back.  The type of vehicle in a Unit of this kind is not readily converted into a stretcher carrier.

VI. The transfusion outfit carried was unable to be used owing to pressure of work and lack of assistance.

VII. The most remarkable clinical fact was the number of patients surviving after severe wounds.  Long periods in the open under very noisy and terrifying conditions, and with only elementary first aid and anti-shock measures.  This I think is strong evidence that the human organisation benefits from rest rather than too energetic “resuscitation” methods.

VIII. The American personal first aid pack was very useful and much superior to the English counterpart.  Local sulphonamide and general therapy were possible in each wounded American.

IX. Hemorrhage in the majority of cases was adequately controlled by a tight dressing.  Tourniquets were duly used in a few cases and then under supervision.  One Officer with a severe foot injury (complete destruction of the tarsus) seemed to get reassurance from doing his own tourniquet adjustment until he was transferred to hospital.

 

I should like, in conclusion, to refer to the work done by the sole Medical Orderly L.A.C. Reid. J. (15082 G.C.I. Unit).  His assistance given throughout the twenty four hours cannot be rated too highly.

States the Padre, Sqn/Ldr G.C. Harding, to have carried out a Medical Officer’s work under very difficult circumstances.

 

F/Sgt F.M. Adair;  5 LCT’s contained 21BDS and kept close together at all times.  Speaks of a

rough crossing, seasickness, no galley or messroom – American crew.      

1st Echelon of 21 BDS attempted a landing at 11.30 but it drew closer to the beach it was evident

that the beach was in a shambles.  No control had been established, cleared areas had not been

identified and exit routes were not marked.  They were later to learn that the Beach master and his

troops hadn’t even been landed.  The beach was littered with debris, burnt out vehicles and dead

bodies.  Anyone still alive was attempting to take cover behind or under whatever wreckage

existed.  The sky was lit up with shell bursts and the noise was eardrum shattering.  It would have

been impossible for the Sector to have gone operational under such conditions and they were

ordered back to sea to stand by while naval guns pounded the shore.  They withdrew under

machine gun fire and by mid afternoon, not having heard otherwise, and since no other landings

had taken place, it was concluded that they would probably not be going ashore until the next day. 

However, at about 1700hrs their coxswain advised that the Senior Royal Air Force Officer, “Officer

Commanding Troops”, had ordered them in.  They headed for the beach.  It by then low tide and

beach obstacles laid by the Germans were fully exposed.  On approaching the shore, it was

apparent that the whole landing area was a disaster, not only the beach itself.  Some vehicles

were stranded on sandbars, others simply drowned as they drove off the ramp of the LCT’s. 

Those that landed  on sand bars dropped into several feet of water as they moved forward. 

Others bogged down closer to the shore and as the tide rose, were also drowned.  There were

shattered trucks, debris of all sorts, German tank obstacles and many bodies.  The whole front

was pounded by .88mm guns, heavy artillery and other assorted weaponry.  Some time later,

having gathered together a motley assortment of airmen, US marines and Rangers, a medic and a

Naval Petty Officer.  A Rangers Captain received a signal to the effect that consideration was

being given to abandoning the beach, suggested they all remained where they were until dawn on

D+! at which time they would attempt a break out to either make contact with the British on the

eastern flank or with the Americans to the west on Utah beach.

F/Sgt R. Eckersall;  Recce on beach with Sqn/Ldr Norman Best.   

Sgt Hamble (Humble?); reported as being blinded.

Cpl W.E. Adderley;  Tuesday – Landed Omaha Red with US Army.  Pinned down on the beach.

Cpl John G Stevens (RCAF):-  a RCAF radar mechanic on GCI convoy 15082.   At the end of D-Day, 47 of the 120 men from our Unit were casualties, including our Commanding Officer, Wing Commander Trollope.  It would be a couple of days before our destroyed convoy vehicles would be replaced from England. 

Cpl Bill Firby:-  He was not in a lorry. Even though he was a driver, his orders were to leave the landing craft on foot and make his way ashore to join up with the rest of the 21 BDS group.  When he left the landing craft, he immediately was up to his chest in water. He had his rifle and a respirator. He also had a bottle of brandy! (May have been Scotch). He walked towards the shore, but instead of getting shallower, it actually got deeper. He could just touch the bottom, but was beginning to be pulled along the beach by the tide. He was completely wet and to keep afloat, he lost some of his equipment. He saw that the all the lorries from his LCT were drowned out and most were beneath the surface. He was particularly mad as he lost his bottle of Brandy. Bill was able to just keep his head above water and had his rifle held above his head to keep it dry and described it as “moon hopping”.  Bill drifted eastwards and was at least 200 yards away from the point of the beach that they landed, and was separated from his unit.  He remembers the noise of the guns and the mortars coming in. He landed and recognized another from his group, an RAF type who was another Radar Operator.  Bill thinks this mans name was Love.  Both of them found some shelter in a crater, some yards from the shingle wall.  Bill said he felt a flash of relief, as he was on his own and free from Authority. He could do what he wanted and no one could argue with him. It was his rebellious nature coming out and he was pleased. Even though he was under fire, Bill thought it fun and was amused that he had no one ordering him around. It was a type of freedom.  He saw many Americans around him, some dead and some injured but the bulk were lying along the shingle wall.  Once he got their bearings, he called out to them asking what was going on. He remembers not getting a reply. He called out again, and still no reply. This got him mad, and so he went up to the shingle bank, and was close to them when he saw that they were all dead.  It was at this time that he became aware of the danger and the isolation. He became aware that they were on their own, and he and the RAF Operator decided to walk along the beach towards where they could see trucks from 15082. There were many shells landing and they (the Germans) obviously could see what they were shelling as they hit many trucks and troop concentrations.  They were now cold as their uniform was soaking wet and they had lost much of their equipment. They were now becoming less sure of themselves. After walking about 200 yards, they saw some of their equipment shelled out but then came across a Padre. Bill has no idea where he came from and has no recollection of seeing him before, but he was a tall, thin, straight upright man. Calmly this Padre called out to them “This way boys”, and guided them off the beach, through a gap and through barbed wire.  The Padre was amazingly calm and assured, and just guided them off beach. He told them what to do and they followed his instructions.  They walked a short distance off the beach and passed a few houses. Shelling was still taking place and Bill had to jump into a shell hole. He saw a part of a pig in the crater, and jumped out of it and into another crater. There he hid and realised that what he had seen was not a pig but the rump of a man, burnt and dismembered. This shocked and scared him.  In a lull in the shelling, he moved up the road a bit. There was a shallow wall on the left and he walked passed an American Infantryman kneeling in the prone position, with his rifle pointing up the valley. Bill called out to him “What’s going on“? No reply. Bill called out again, keen for an answer. No reply. Bill flipped and lost his temper.  “Why can’t this guy tell him what’s going on?” He left his cover and went across to this GI and nearly reached him, when he saw his face was grey, covered in dust and motionless. He was dead. This made Bill very scared and remorseful.  Not much further on, he was walking past one of the lorries and was called to crawl under it by some others from his section. “Get under here. There’s room for you.” At that point he felt lost, bewildered and scared. He cannot remember seeing any NCOs or Officers and felt incredibly alone. He said that he stood his rifle up against the wall and crawled in under the lorry with his mates. Bill said that the gesture of standing his rifle up was like a sign of resignation of his position and the guilt he felt about being mad with the poor dead American.  It was here that Bill spent D-Day night. He heard a man moaning all night long on the far side of the road, and was told that the Medics were with him. He heard that he died that night. He also remembers the burnt-out lorries on the beach and thinks that there were about 6 or 7 lorries lined up where he was taking shelter. His NCO who was Muir Adair

Cpl E. Heathcote;  In first 21BDS Echelon on D-Day.  Dawn  – arrived off the coast of Normandy unmolested by the Luftwaffe.  First attempt at landing made at 1130.  Attempt impractical and LCT’s withdrew.  The warship ‘Texas’ bombarded Omaha beach.  21 BDS held up for about 5 hours.  Second attempt at landing made at 1700.  Beach was near St Laurent not intended for Colleville.  LCT landed too far out on a sandbank.  All vehicles ‘drowned’ except one which would not start.  Reported the Padre, Sqn/Ldr G.C. Harding, assisting the MO, Flt/Lt R Rycroft in tending to the wounded on the beach reconnoitred the hamlet of Les Moulins.  Reported it not under fire.  Sqn/Ldr Trollope ordered all 21 BDS Troops to move to western end of beach.  The unit took up position at Les Moulins village.  21BDS Operations Record Book reports the Padre, Sqn/Ldr G.C. Harding, assisting the  MO, Flt/Lt R Rycroft in tending to the wounded on the beach.

Cpl E.F. Middleton;  Stated by A.C. (Archie) Ratcliffe – Lost his life by ‘driving up and down’ until ‘shot up’ by heavy machine gun fire.

LAC J.Cubitt;  His passenger on disembarkation was the Unit MO (Flt/Lt Rycroft).  States that everyone in his LCT was seasick.  Also states that they ‘must have been three or four hours late as the tide was well out when the ramp was dropped’.  I was rather surprised to columns of water rise here and there as shells burst around the ramp, not too near fortunately.  Our engines had been warming up for some minutes.  In front of the boat there was a Diamond ‘T’ breakdown truck followed by the Co’s Jeep.  Jeeps were floating we noticed so ours was tied to the Diamond ‘T’ to stop it floating into the beach obstacles which were mined.  Off they went and I engaged the four wheel drive lowest gear and stamped on the accelerator.  The engine must not stall under water.  I pulled round the Diamond ‘T’ while the Jeep was being untied.  I now had the dubious honour of leading the column.  The Unit Medical Officer was my passenger for the trip.  On reaching the head of the beach I turned right.  My way up the sand was through the debris of war.  Bodies in various attitudes, radios, vehicles, rifles, equipment, tanks and half tracks blown up as they left the boats, and I was leading a column of ‘soft’ vehicles into this carnage.  We stopped, there was no way off the beach and there we had to stay under a steady barrage of 88mm shells.  There was a long curved line of vehicles stretching down to the water’s edge.  They began to take direct hits.  We had some diesel generators on lorry chassis, each had 40 gallon drums of diesel oil on board.  A direct hit on a drum of diesel sent smoke a hundred feet up, quite spectacular.  Men began to get hit and the MO and his orderly were getting to work.  I dived under my vehicle, a rather foolish move as two tyres were soon flattened by shrapnel and I moved out again.  The Padre walked into some dead ground looking for somewhere to move to and saw that there was a road out blocked by a bank o shingle.  Somewhere or other he found an armoured bulldozer and got the driver to doze away the bank.  On my right one of our airmen was lying on his face, his toes beating an agonised  tattoo in the sand.  I found out later that he had been hit in the kidneys and he was in great pain.  Further down the line a squadron leader was lying with his foot blown off.  A Flight Lieutenant assisting him heard another shell and shielded him by throwing himself on top of the wounded man and was killed by the shrapnel.  Quite close, propped up by another vehicle wheel was a sergeant also named John with a field dressing over his left eye .  He subsequently lost that eye.  Later on came the Wing Commander and he took a piece of shrapnel in the wrist.  The day was drawing on.  The Padre came along and told us there was now a gap in the shingle bank and we could move off the beach.  By now I had been joined by my driver Corporal, and John (the wounded sergeant) begged to go with us so we helped him into the cab.  My front offside tyre was flat and so was my nearside rear.  The drag of the front tyre pulled us to the right.  It was impossible to turn left off the beach, so assisted by the Corporal I drove past the exit and described a wide circle to the right and with the expenditure of a lot of sweat came back to the exit, just managing to straighten the wheel to get us on the road.  About a hundred yards off the beach in a protected sunken road we stopped in front of a house.  We put the wounded in the garden of the house and tried to make them comfortable.  It was obvious that we were not moving far until morning and the evening was approaching.  There was no question of going further as yet so I busied myself trying to help some of our wounded.  Personnel were gathering in two’s and three’s and odd vehicles joined us as the evening wore on.  Some American medics paid a visit on their way through and helped with dressings and sulphur and penicillin which was unknown to us at the time.  Our own medical staff were still fully stretched elsewhere.  We huddled by the garden wall all night.  I suppose we slept on and off, the day had been endless.  I had no sense of time, things just happened.   It took all night to gather the unit together and account for everyone.  During the night the front moved slowly inland and by morning we were over a mile behind the action.

LAC J. (John/Jock) Reid;  Commended by his MO for work carried out as Orderly during Beach landing on D-Day.

LAC R.C. Parr;  Landed with Eric Heathcote.  Killed on the beach.

A.C. (Archie) RatcliffeWe sailed about the same time on the evening of June 5th, 1944. Still rough and stormy. L.C.T. really thumping about. I haven’t mentioned the names of the others. I shall have to rely upon my memory. Bill Pilling, two Sandersons,  Dad Sanderson from Blackburn, Curly Sanderson from Manchester, A. Sullivan from Brighton, Tubby Rowberry, George Forshaw. Sea running very rough; tried to sleep on top of the load, but I did this unsuccessfully. I managed to get a little in the cab. A lot of apprehensive talk, some silly jokes from Dad Sanderson,  but very funny all the same. Underneath all the joking, was a lot of serious thinking, nerves and apprehension, not to say some of what would lie ahead.  The Commander of the L.C.T. called us together and told us that we to go to a beach under the name of OMAHA, and that we would be landing in the American sector, at H2 hours. Had a couple of scares that there were some E-boats about and possibly a submarine.   The sea was still running high and some of the lads were still feeling sea sick, and would be glad to get ashore. As it turned out, there would be a change of mind later. We had been at sea for 9 hours or so. As it was getting towards dawn we could hear lots of aircraft again, having previously  heard a large number during the night. An hour later, we could hear a lot of either bombing or heavy gunfire.  As it got lighter, we could see nothing but ships and boats of all sizes; battleships, destroyers, LST’s, LCT’s, LCI’s, and hundreds of them. What an incredible sight.  As we came in sight of Omaha beach, the noise was tremendous. We could see the American lads in LCI’s and  LCT’s going ashore. The scene was terrible. We could see there must have been a lot of trouble on the beach. There was heavy shelling and mortar fire, plus very heavy machine gun firing.  The Commander  of our LCT told us that we were to delay going ashore as there was quite some trouble for us getting ashore with the Yanky infantry through Jerry shelling and mortar fire, very heavily at all sea craft that were trying to get in. Now everybody  aboard our own LCT were getting more than a little anxious now. We had had several near misses already as we had been under fire for a few hours. We had been very close to an American battleship for most of the time, I  think it was the noise of it’s guns that was so deafening. Also, there was a couple of LCR’s (Rocket ships) close by that kept up an unholy noise.  I think the time was getting on for about 11:00-11:30. (Hand-written note added: PROBABLY LATER)  We had been hanging  about for several hours now, when we were told that we had to go now, or we would miss the tide and have to be dropped to far out. I happened  to be the first one in line that was to go ashore. As we got nearer to the beach, we could see the mayhem. There were bodies everywhere  in the sea, in burning LCT’s and LCI’s. We were dropped  about 100 yards from the shore.  As I came off the LCT, the sea filled my cab almost to the top of the steering wheel. The Corporal CPL with me said “Don’t you dare take your ‘so and so’  feet off that ‘so and so’ accelerator.” My mind was in quite a whirl during the run in. The mortaring and shelling was getting heavy again. The Corporal CPL said he could see and hear shrapnel and bullets hitting all around. With my load of line poles, I was concerned  that we might lose traction, and float, so being a sitting duck. Eventually, we arrived on the beach at last. The beach master was going potty signalling to come on, so I did through a large lake of water that was on the beach, which was either an old shell hole or a hole left by a mine as there was a lot of debris and bodies scattered about. My 2 front ‘wheels of the lorry went in an stopped very abruptly. As I was trying to get out, an ambulance cut in front of me he unfortunately hit a mine and brewed up, also taking some others at the same time. I never realised just how deep the beach was, I reckon it must have been between 400-600  yards deep.  There was utter carnage all around. I didn’t know where the other lads were; I didn’t know if they’d even got off the LCT. The noise was terrible, very smoky and smelly. The Corporal said he could see a large Yankee recce vehicle up near the bluffs to his left and suggested we make for it. I can’t remember having said anything all the time from leaving the LCT. We managed to get to the recce vehicle but he said I was swearing and shouting all the time, and that none of the Germans had no mothers and fathers… We dug in, in between the recce vehicle and my Crossley. Somebody must have been looking out for us as we all survived  the landings; Bill Pilling was dug in about 30 yards away. We were at various parts of the beach, but had managed to get up under the bluffs. Most had lost their vehicles during the mortar fire and shelling as the morning went on. Only mine and Bill’s were serviceable, but both had received plenty of shrapnel attention. Several times during that morning we went out to get the wounded under these bluffs for attention by the medics.  Things had quietened down for a while, but there was still plenty of activity about. It seemed to be bad a bit further along the beach, about 600 yards or so. We could see more LCT’s trying to get ashore. They were getting a hell of a beating. We could see that they were in battle dress, so we knew that it was the RAF Special Signals Unit that we were to join at the same map reference that we were given. It was 15082 G.C.I. Unit. We had been with them for a couple of days before we sailed, so we knew all of them. There was nothing we could do to help them. We could see them trying to get off the beach with their vehicles, but were getting heavily mortared and machined gunned. We knew they were getting casualties and losing vehicles; that’s how it went on for most of the day. Grateful that our lads had survived without any really serious injuries or wounds. Most of us had a few cuts and bruises. I had something stuck in my knee, a cut on my arm plus a bloody nose and very sore eyes. Most had very similar cuts etc. 15082 were not so fortunate.  They lost 8 killed and several wounded, some seriously. I think most of 313 lads were resigned that we wouldn’t survive the day. We were mostly in a state of shock during the first few hours. We didn’t get off the beach until about 10:00 hours when the Padre got us off to a concentration  area on top of the beach. That is where the American Cemetery is now, at St.Laurent-sur-Mer. Having got to the concentration  area, we found we only had 3 of our vehicles that were able to get there.  We had settled down for the night RAF personnel and the Americans altogether. The Americans had managed to get a few half tracks and tanks ashore. They were all very concentrated;   blokes with vehicles were sleeping under their wagons, others were lying beside the half tracks or in hastily dug slip trenches.

S. (Stan) Mallet: He and a colleague captured two ‘Jerries’, said they had had enough and threw away rifles.

Arnold Palin  Early in 1944, Arnold found himself attached to the American 1st Division (The Big Red One), his job being Ground to Air Communications. It was in that role that he landed on ‘D’ Day on Omaha Beach in Normandy. He was in one of the first waves of landing craft but as we now know the Americans were not able to get forward from the beach for some hours. All that Arnold and his American colleagues could do at this time was to get under whatever cover was available to them. This happened to be their own truck which contained all their radio equipment. It was soon clear that it would be safer to be further along the beach, so they made a dash for the next vehicle a few yards away. Arnold was the first to scramble under the truck with the Americans crowding behind him, but almost instantly, a mortar round hit the truck that they had just left and the explosion killed the American lads and wounded Arnold in the left knee. At the time and in the circumstances, he did not think much of it, his only thought being to get off the beach as there was no way back. When the American’s eventually began to force their way off the beach he decided to go with them, even though he had lost his radio equipment and as a result would not be of much use. It was clearly safer than remaining on the beach. His knee was not troubling him at the time.  He attached himself to a group of Americans and moved inland with them for a few days, but in the end his leg gave out and he could no longer walk on it. An American Parson found him laying by the side of a road and he stopped a truck so that Arnold could be transported back to the beach. Killed 11-5-1945 in Germany.

 

7-6-1944      (D+1)

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

No.15083 GCI in the British Sector of the bridgehead took over control of night fighters during the night of June 6/7.  No. 15082 GCI sustained casualties to both vehicles and personnel during the landing and is not yet operational.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

At 0500 hours, Squadron Leader Trollope went up the road to see if it was possible to move the Unit further inland as it was obviously in a very dangerous position where it was, apart from the fact that it was blocking the road should further transport be disembarked.  Actually, nothing was disembarked on this beach after 21 (B.D.) Sector till late the following afternoon.  The result of the reconnaissance showed that it appeared possible to move a mile or so up the road but just before this move took place, Flight Lieutenant Effenberger who was sent up this road to find a position to park the convoy, came back and reported that the road was now under cross machinegun fire and that he had been fired at a number of times, on one occasion having his steel helmet knocked off.  From later experience, this fire is considered to have come from the Americans, who were trigger conscious and repeatedly mistook the RAF Blue for the enemy.

            At about 1100 hours, the 88mm guns opened up on the beach with greater determination, as the Unit, after a further reconnaissance, moved up the road and pulled into a field about ¾ of a mile up as Transit Area No.3 was still not open.  This field was full of American snipers, who were firing over our heads into the wooded hill at random.  There was also a certain amount of return fire from the enemy snipers but nobody was seen to be hit.  At approximately 1400 hours, Major Kelakos, Intelligence Officer, 49th A.A. Brigade, contacted us in the field and he told us that General Timberlake suggested that the Unit pulled into Transit Area 2, at the top of the hill overlooking the next beach to the East and adjacent to his Headquarters.  This was the first official contact of any sort that had been made with the Americans since landing.

            The convoy moved out of this field almost immediately, through the village of St Laurent where terrific rifle fire was taking place and went to Transit Area No. 2 where it settled down for the night.  This place was pretty crowded but the troops managed to find room to dig foxholes for themselves to sleep in.  It was an extremely noisy position as there was cross shell fire going on overhead between the Navy and the 88mm guns which were again shelling the beaches.

            The military position during the whole of this period was extremely precarious, the bridgehead reported not to be anywhere more than two to three miles deep.  Wing Commander Anderson, who had been wounded in the wrist, and Squadron Leader Trollope contacted General Timberlake of the 49th A.A. Brigade in the evening and the position was reviewed.  It was decided to move the convoy next morning, June 8th, to field nearby so that the equipment could be examined to see if it was possible to get any of it operational.  By that time, Squadron Leader Best and the other technical officers who had worked unceasingly by salvaging equipment of all sorts from the beaches, ranging from vehicles down to small items of equipment from derelict vehicles and it was considered that it would be possible to set up and become operational if a site was selected, the original site still being in the hands of the enemy.  Squadron Leader Trollope again saw General Timberlake and a site was selected overlooking the cliff, just behind No. 2 Transit Area.  The convoy moved there in the afternoon and the equipment was set up ready to become operational on the following night.

Wg/Cdr A.M. Anderson;  Contacted Gen Timberlake re precarious position of the GCI.  Wg/Cdr

noted as wounded.

Sqn/Ldr F.J. Trollope;  At 0500 reconnoitred road further inland from Les Moulins.  With Wg/Cdr Anderson.  Saw Gen Timberlake, twice, re site for radar.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Wednesday – SE of St Laurent.

After a few hours sleep (we were dive bombed in our village about midnight by ten German planes – two of them shot down by Ack-Ack (Anti Aircraft Fire) on the boats) we were about at first light (0530).  No further landings were being made. Although there were plenty of craft standing out at sea getting ready to come in.  Some shelling and sniping was going on, but we did a bit of salvaging and with the aid of our friend the bulldozer, managed to pull out two diesel vehicles of the submerged Type 11.  One of ours had been hit – indeed all our vehicles had been more or less damaged on the beach, and standby diesels seemed very desirable  additions to our convoy.  We also salvaged theType14 aerial vehicle which had stuck in the sands and suffered from sea water damage.  The front line was said to be half a mile ahead of us but some of the American troops un-bottled from the beachhead had now fought their way round to the west until they had linked up with our neighbouring beachhead.  This positively ended our isolation and made us all feel a good deal better.  In the afternoon our convoy lined up and we left our village making east where, by the other beachhead, a transit camp had been formed and the landings were going well to schedule, complete with tickets, permission to invade and all. 

We met an American General there who had the radar outlook alright.  He wanted us to get on the air right away and showed us a flat field on he cliff overlooking the beachhead where we could set up.  Our proper site, some six or seven miles inland was still in German hands.  It was now the evening of D+1 and that night we slept like logs.  Our wounded had been cleared and taken back to England, we had the main part of the convoy, safe but battered, a couple of spare diesels (waterlogged) and a site.  50 yards away one of the first emergency runways on what had been enemy territory, was being constructed.

Flt/Lt E.H. (Ned) Hitchcock;  Up at dawn, some sodden biscuits, and off to rescue our Type 14 transmitter, caught in soft sand and then by the tide.  A dead American leaned against the wheel, seaweed draped over all.  We requested help from a bulldozer which was busy rescuing other bulldozers.  Shelling started, and the engineers removing beach obstacles took over.  The LST was shelled.  The bulldozer arrived, extracted the Type 14 like a cork from a bottle, and towed it, still sinking into sand, past the LST wreck.  Then came the sniper fire from the bluffs, and the driver prudently abandoned the tow: he was too good a target.  (We soon learned that walking briskly from cover to cover baffled the snipers – don’t stand still!)  It appeared that further landings had been abandoned.  Had it all been a failure?  Were we just a few stranded on an enemy shore?  Then came relief – American tanks advancing from the next sector (misnamed ‘Easy Beach’).  Then a little later came one of those indelible moments in the memory – a group of men crowded round a vehicle listening to the BBC news – to be told that the invasion had been successful and that men and materials were pouring ashore on the other beaches.  We carried on collecting our battered remnants and started the task of putting together what we could to become operational.  Later, we moved to a camp site nearby.

Flt/Lt Effinberger; Polish Technical Officer.  Looked for choice of site to set up GCI15082 on D+1. 

Fired at by the enemy after going up a road inland from Les Moulin. 

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman; Arrived at St Laurent Transit area.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO);  (Diary)  Up road from village in search of water. American orderlies in slit trench – civilians and fluttering fowl. 7 o’clock. Not anxious to leave after a few minutes. Snipers everywhere. Wounded round wall. Whiskey. Unable to leave because of snipers – just about to take my chance when they were rounded up (27 of them). May be a chance of living now. No food. Water for wounded only. No sign of evacuation facilities. Would they ever get away? Five o’clock last wounded away. Americans had turned up at last and had clearing station. Plasma [with] N.C.O. Away up road (my first visit) in Jeep with medical supplies. Transit area at last. Seemed dangerous. Few dead Germans on roadside. No sign of serious battle. “Minen” [Mines] signs. Some civilians. DUST. Dug in for night. Shared hole [with] [Flight Officer] Elias – very cramped. Good to be alive however. What next? No great amount of vehicles to be seen. Shells overhead → beach. Extent of Invasion unknown ?Spain ?Norway ?S[outh] of France.

Wounded moved by Jeep to a Casualty Clearing Hospital at Omaha

Beach.  Left Les Moulins village in search of water.  Water available for wounded only.  Several

US Medical Officers appeared and took over looking after wounded in the village.

Major (US)  Kolakos;  Intelligence Office, 49th A.A. Brigade visited with message from General

Timberlake.

F/Sgt F.M. Adair; About 0900 hrs cleared orchard of snipers under the US Rangers Captain and

about 20 assorted troops.  Asked for volunteers to salvage ‘drowned’ equipment.  Came across

some of the 2nd echelon of 21BDS who had come ashore after the 1st Echelon.  2nd Echelon had

had a reasonably successful landing.  The planned location of their first few days of operation was

found still to be in enemy hands.  There was an attached Signals Unit which, although in a

shambles, had a nucleus of personnel and enough open channels to report to the off-shore radar

control unit (presumed to have been one of the Fighter Direction Tenders (FDT’s) that there was

no way that 21 Sector (ie G.C.I.1 5082) could go operational or accept responsibility for fighter

control until further notice.  By this time, later in the day, a US American Ranger (Cpl Smythe) who

had been allocated to 21 Sector as Liaison, was able to establish spasmodic contact with his HQ

who advised that the beach areas, whilst still under some fire and subject to considerable sniper

activities, were pretty much under the control of the Allies.  F/Sgt Adair gathered together enough

volunteers to back to the beach and salvage anything that they thought might be useful.  Technical

gear, rations and clothing could all be used.  An assessment was also made on all vehicles to see

which were able to be saved or salvaged.  On the way down to the beach medics were observed

hard at work and the wounded were being assembled for possible evacuation.  Officers and NCO

were also in the process of organising fighting units.  Under a certain amount of small arms fire on

occasion three General Purpose (GP) trucks were located that were still serviceable and were

loaded with whatever was found to be useful, including jerry cans of water and petrol  They

eventually withdrew with their salvaged equipment when they were ‘found’ by two .88’s and a

81mm mortar.   During this visit to the beach it was confirmed that many G.C.I. 15082 vehicles had

been lost.  Upon regrouping the unit was advised by a US Rangers Colonel to remain where they

were and go operational from that location.  Technical staff were working to get equipment

repaired and operational, fitters were trying to get vehicles serviceable and the Orderly Room

Sergeant had started business with reports being prepared re damage, missing persons, etc.  One

of the Controllers had been named as Acting Co (Wg/Cdr Anderson had by then sustained his

wound) and he and his technical staff were attempting to use semi-workable Type 15 equipment. 

In addition, the General Duties Sergeant (Tommy Spears?) had got some sort of a domestic site

prepared in an adjoining field, beside a hedgerow, a field kitchen of sorts had been set up and

basic food of soup and ‘C’ rations was made ready.  Some semblance of order had been

established .  The expected German counter attack had not materialised and the beach were in

Allied hands.  Many of the airmen got their first sound sleep in three days!  It was established at

this time that of a total complement of 64 (plus an unknown number of ‘attached’ personnel there

were 47 either killed or wounded.  Most of the telecommunications equipment and all of the radar

equipment with the exception of the Type 15 GCI was lost as were 26 of the total of 34 vehicles. 

Reported no further German shelling in his area after the night of D+1.

Sgt T. (Tommy) Spears;  Regular RAF SNCO in charge of General Duties.  Responsible for

Kitchen on D+1 and provided hot meals for remnants of 21 Sector.

Cpl E. Heathcote; Maj Kolakos ‘suggested’ that the Unit move into Transit Area No 2 – Transit

Area 3 still not open.

Cpl W.E. Adderley;  Wednesday – Moved forward to St Laurent.

Cpl Bill Firby:-  On the morning of D+1, Bill cannot remember any type of organisation or orders. He seems to recall that they moved into a field and soon after that his NCO, Muir Adair, joined up with them and helped to organise the set up. He recalls that some time on D+1, Muir asked for volunteers to go down to the beach to reclaim drowned-out equipment. Muir asked Bill and another Canadian Jack (John) Stevens to go with him. It was still a dangerous place, subject to mortar and sniping attacks. He seems not to remember any Officers being involved. Eventually, that night they had a crude camp set up in this field and he slept in a bivouac  During the night he was awoken by a terrific bombardment, and such frightening and terrifying noise. On D+1, Bill recalls that their Technical Officer was a Pole called Effenberger (or the like). He was a good technician and was friendly and helpful. He recalled that he carried out a reconnoitre up the lane on D+1 to see if they could move the convoy further away from the beach and to a safer ground. He recalls that whilst carrying out this task, he was shot at and that it came from his own side. Bill cannot recall himself being shot at but the problem was that their uniform was too much like the German uniform. He recalls that they moved up from their overnight position to a field where he met up with Muir Adair.  That night sleeping in a tent and being woken by a terrifying barrage of shells and noise. From inside his tent, the flashes and light was terrifying and the noise unbelievable. He thought at any second he would be killed and was frightened. He had a strange sensation, as all he could think of was to grab his steel helmet and try and pull it as tight as possible over his head. He definitely had the sensation of trying to make himself into a ball and actually crawl into his helmet; such was the fear and terror of the occasion. This sensation has stayed with Bill ever since.  Only later did Bill find out that the noise and shelling was from his side going outbound, as a US Artillery Company was in the next field to them, and it was they who had mounted an Artillery barrage. Scarily for Bill, there was no sign of them in the morning.

A.C. (Archie) Ratcliffe;  I don’t know what time it was, but sometime in the very early hours, Jerry decided to give us a call by way of the Luftwaffe who started bombing and strafing The noise was incredible, not only from Jerry but from all the half tracks, machine guns and anti-aircraft guns that the Yanks had got ashore. All the boats at sea were joining in as well. The amount of shrapnel that was falling was unbelievable. It just showered down. Some spectacle after crawling out from under my lorry. Dick Sullivan called me to the back of my truck to show me that a cannon shell was embedded  in the iron stay of my tailboard.  The first thing in the morning was to bury our dead. Not a very pleasant job. The worst of the wounded had been taken to the casualty clearing station. The rest of that day was spent trying to sort things out. Our unit had lost six out of 8 vehicles. 15082 G.C.I. had only 1 signals van and 1 recce vehicle. News had reached us that 2 of our lads had been taken prisoner by the Americans because like us, they were wearing gas impregnated air force blue plus all the muck and dust that the uniforms had picked up during the fighting on the beach. They were thought to be Germans infiltrating. One was Tubby Dyer and the other was Titch ? – I forget his surname. Apparently they were sent back to England. After that episode the eight of us with other members of 15082 were sent to the Yanky H.Q. where we were kitted out with American uniforms i.e. shirts, vests, jackets, pigskin boots and  blankets. We were also supplied  with full cases of their compacts, cigarettes, chocolate etc. They were very generous  towards us, especially when they knew what our job was, that the unit was calling in airstrikes to cover their infantry.  Detailed to be the driver for F/Off Pine (Pyne?) who was a Signals Officer. Panzers and Tiger tanks no more than 300 – 400 yards away at this time.  States route taken from beach as Isigny, Carentan, St Lo, over the Mederat.  Floods at St Mere Eglise, Monterborg, Valognes and St Pere Eglise(main base until Cherbourg taken).

(Dick) Sullivan;  Found a ‘cannon shell’ embedded in the tailboard of Archie Ratcliffe’s lorry.

Mrs Moyna Heathcote, (wife of Cpl E Heathcote);  Relates that a full range of equipment turned

up! (before they had exited the beach).

 

8-6-1944    (D+2)

HQ 85 (Base) Group Operations Record Book

Records:-  No. 15082 G.C.I. having lost all its communications vehicles and equipment with the

exception of type 13 G.C.I. and 2 V.H.F. receivers an attempt was made to take in by sea No 1 Air

Transportable Signals Unit in order to supply skeleton communications pending the arrival of

replacement vehicles.  This attempt failed owing to the length of time wasted, after the unit was

loaded, in clearing the ship from Southsea.

 

A letter dated 8-6-1944, signd by Squadron Leader A.W.Slater, (for A.O. i/c Admin., HQ 85

Group, RAF)

Shows the following under the heading “Move of Units to Concentration Areas”:-

                        15072 G.C.I..              5142 ’Q’           582 ‘P’

                        15073 C.O.L.              5158 ‘T’           5113 ‘K’

                        15082 G.C.I.               5215 ‘H’           554 ‘B’

14038  A.M.E.S.         5276 ‘D’           585 ‘Q’

15083 G.C.I.               5006 ‘H’           5019 ‘L’

15129 C.O.L.              5131 ‘A’           5030 ‘H’

14039 A.M.E.S.          5157 ‘T’           5160 ‘T’

89 E.U.                        5164 ‘U’           5167 ‘U’

5132 ‘C’                       5228 ‘J’            5225 ‘J’

5141 ‘Q’                       5233 ‘P’           5231 ‘P’

                                    5318 ‘P’

Note.  Given that this listing is produced and signed by a member of 85 Group on behalf of the Air Officer i/c Administration, HQ 85 Group, RAF, it must reasonably be assumed that the above units all, eventually, arrived in Normandy via one of the American beaches (probably Omaha but possibly via Utah).

A.M.E.S.  -  Air Ministry Experimental Section

Following on from this, a further, similar, document (but undated) headed “85 (Base) Group Units Overseas (includes Units in Transit)” shows the following:-

(21 Base Defence Sector HQ, nr Tocqueville Q358254)

15072 G.C.I.               MSU’s:-           349MRU         5169 ’U’

15073 C.O.L.                                      545 ‘K’             5228 ‘J’

14038 A.M.E.S.                                  5132 ‘C’           5233 ‘P’

15074 C.O.L.                                      5136 ‘F’           5317 ‘P’

14037 A.M.E.S.                                  5140 ‘Q’           5318 ‘P’

15082 G.C.I.                                       5141 ‘Q’          

15083 G.C.I.                                       5142 ‘Q’

                                                            5158 ‘T’

                                                            5162 ‘T’

                                                            5215 ‘T’

                                                            5226 ‘J’

                                                            5227 ‘J’

                                                            5161 ‘T’?

                                                            5292 ‘J’

                                                            5006 ‘H’          

                                                            5131 ‘A’

                                                            5157 ‘T’

                                                            5164 ‘U’

 

A yet further such document (unfortunately also undated), shows the following Units as being part of 21 Sector:-

15072 G.C.I.               MSU’s:-           349 MRU

15073 C.O.L.                                      545 ‘K’

15074 C.O.L.                                      5132 ‘C’

15081 G.C.I.                                       5136 ‘F’

15082 G.C.I.                                       5140 ‘Q’

14038 A.M.E.S.                                  5141 ‘Q’

                                                            5158 ‘T’

                                                            5162 ‘T’

                                                            5215 ‘H’

                                                            5226 ‘J’

                                                            5227 ‘J’

                                                            5276 ‘D’

                                                            5292 ‘J’

                                                            5006 ‘H’

                                                            5131 ‘A’

                                                            5157 ‘T’

                                                            5164 ‘U’

                                                            5169 ‘U’

                                                            5228 ‘J’

                                                            5233 ‘P’

                                                            5317 ‘P’

                                                            5318 ‘P’

As a point of interest, the following are shown as belonging to 24 Sector:-

15083 G.C.I.               MSU’s:-           582 ‘P’

15129 C.O.L.                                      543 ‘K’

14039 A.M.E.S.                                  554 ‘D’

                                                            585 ‘Q’

                                                            5019 ‘C’

                                                            5030 ‘H’

                                                            5133 ‘C’

                                                            5139 ‘H’

(List incomplete)        

                                   

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Convoy moved this morning to ‘a field nearby’ so that the equipment could be examined.  Convoy moved in the afternoon from Transit Area 2 to a cliff behind it where the equipment was set up ready for operational use on the following evening.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Thursday – St Laurent-sur-Mere.  On beach salvaging.  Field site checked for

mines!

Flt/Lt E.H. Hitchcock;  The American commander said that we’d better get out of that RAF blue – it was too much like German field grey, and he couldn’t guarantee that his own men might not mistake us for the enemy!  And miraculously – in the middle of an invasion – our American allies produced from nowhere a miscellany of assorted khaki and we were instantly transformed into Americans – gum-chewing and all!   A suitable operational site have been selected and tested for mines by carefully backing of the Crossleys, some replacement gear arrived and we were on the air!  On the night of D-Day plus one, 1½ enemy aircraft were shot down – the first G.C.I. -controlled interception from the American beachhead.  (It sometimes happened that two aircraft or ground-based units attacked and brought down the same enemy aircraft, each claiming a kill.  Because it was impossible to decide whose fire had been the more successful, the credit was divided between them.  Hence a score of half an aircraft.)

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman; Moved to nearby (unidentified) site.  Bill (Sqn/Ldr F J Trollope) joined

them.  (Bill?).

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft;  (Diary)  Cramped everywhere. Shaved in Op[eration]s Wagon. Hard work.

My camp kit only one saved (Blood ++ however). Jeep towed from beach. Another field for lunch.

Slept afterwards. Washing in yard with dead American discovered wound in back (got with

Duggie). Later to C[asualty] C[learing] S[tation]. Talk of evacuating me? Searching for water cans

on beach – exhausted. Very noisy night but slept afterwards. Supplies rolling in.Searching for

water cans on the beach.  Supplies rolling in.  Further units landed.  Wetting due to inefficient LCT

command!

Flt/Lt A.G. McLeod:  Officer Commanding G.C.I. 15073.  Loaded 15073 mobile unit on to an LCT

in  Portsmouth.  Left at 0300. Landed D+3.

F/Sgt F.M. Adair;  First night slept in tents and had a proper hot meal.  Two ‘very good’ Cpl’s

began repairing equipment.

Cpl W.E. Adderley;  Thursday – Close to St Laurent.

Cpl E. Heathcote;  Unit moved to a field near to Transit Area 2.  Sqn/Ldr N Best and others

salvaging on the beach.  New Site selected overlooking the cliff and equipment was set up for

operational use.

 

9-6-1944      (D+3)

No.85 (Base Group Administrative instructions “Overlord”, Part VIII, Instruction 9, Amendment List No. 1

(PRO Ref:- Air 25-738, No 85 Base Group – Appendices Organisation)

Under the section headed ‘ Responsibilities for Safe Disembarkation’, para 4. (b) is shown the following:-

In his capacity as O.C. Troops he is to ensure that vehicles, personnel and other loads (if any) are disembarked safely.  To this end he will detail a member of his party who is a good swimmer to proceed on a line, wearing a lifebelt, from the craft to the shore to test the depth of the water.  The depth must not in any place exceed 3 feet 9 inches.  If the O.C. Craft Party is then not satisfied that the disembarkation can be safely executed, he is to refuse to disembark his load and request the Commander of the craft to find a more suitable place.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

By the afternoon of the 9th, the Military position in this Sector had improved  to such an extent, the bridgehead now being seven to eight miles deep, that a signal was received ordering G.C.I 15082 to start packing up immediately preparatory to moving the following morning to the original site selected for them to come to on ‘D’ Day, this area now being cleared of the enemy.  The work of packing up was started immediately, hence the Unit did not operate on the night of 9-6-1944 but moved to the new site on 10-6-1944.

 

Our camp was organised and the equipment was all put in order to operate at night.  Salvage work was still in progress on the beaches and personnel were employed obtaining equipment of all sorts to carry on with.  The water problem was still difficult as we had no water cans and the drinking water was some way off.  A certain amount of clothing was obtained for the troops as a number of them had lost everything they had and stood up in the clothes in which they had swum ashore.  The Americans continuously sniped at the RAF blue, so denims were given to as many of the troops as possible to avoid this.  There was considerable improvement in the Military situation during the previous 24 hours as a result of an Armoured Division having been landed and gone into action and the bridgehead was said to be something like 7 or 8 miles in depth and both Trevieres and Isigny were reported to have fallen and the Americans were still pushing on.  Reports from the British beaches were also encouraging, stating that Bayeux and Caen had both been captured by the British but all reports on the military situation are stated to be very unreliable and vague.

At approximately tea time a signal came in ordering G..C.I 15082 to pack up at once preparatory to moving first thing in the morning to the original site selected for the Unit to proceed to on D-Day.  The packing up was commenced and the Unit was non-operational that night.  There were the usual odd raids at intervals approaching the beaches and a terrific barrage of fire kept going up and one or two enemy aircraft were reported to be destroyed.

 

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Friday – St Laurent-sur-Mer.  More beach salvage.  Location St Pierre du Mont. 

On the air!  By nightfall two Hun shot down – 1st G.C.I. interceptions from American beachhead.

Flt/Lt A.G. McLeod;  Arrived Omaha 1000 and landed all vehicles safely and stayed overnight in

a park

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-  (Diary)  Saw American S[ick] Q[uarters]. Some chance of liaison. So

much better set up. Typewriter etc. Landing strip. Our food very dirty. No real organisation.

Prisoners. Wounded U.S. Correspondent John Chancellor].

F/Sgt Muir Adair  – From Canadians on Radar: RCAF 1940-1945

The remnants of the initial landing party from D-day, reinforced by members of the 2nd Echelon of

G.C.I. 15082  who had moved ashore some time after the 1st Echelon, located replacement

vehicles for those they had lost on D-day parked on a secondary road that led to the French

village of Carentan.  They knew that they belonged to them since they had G.C.I. 15082 scrawled

on the side of each vehicle but they did not know either how they got there or who put them there!

Cpl E. Heathcote;  Signal to move to a new site and set up again.

 

10-6-1944    (D+4)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The technical equipment of G.C.I. 15082 which was serviceable, left first thing in the morning for the new site (the one originally selected for D-Day) and the rest of the convoy followed on, after lunch, a distance of about 8 miles, leaving the Wing Operations room behind to remain until G.C.I. 15072 arrived.  The main convoy arrived at approximately 05.00 hours and the domestic site and cook-house were prepared.

A liaison visit was made to 70 Wing and the Type 14 was operational that night.  A few small raids kept approaching and in the course of the night, a score of one destroyed and one damaged was obtained.  Altogether, there were 16 contacts obtained but 7 of these turned out to be friendlies and the rest of the contacts were lost.  The new site was greatly appreciated by everybody as the Unit was completely on its own and free from the everlasting letting off of rifles by the Americans which was going on at the other sites.

D-Day Landing Report

Set up at the new site and operated that night and claimed one enemy aircraft destroyed and one enemy aircraft damaged.

            Up to and including the 9th of June, there were large numbers of snipers in the area around St Laurent and sniping was going on almost incessantly day and night, there was also a terrific barrage at intervals every night from the heavy guns when enemy aircraft were reported in the area.  On no occasion was there reported to be more than (unreadable) enemy aircraft over the beaches during the night.  These snipers were firmly established, some in underground tunnels, others in thick, jungle-like woods surrounding the village.  It is reported that some of these had secured themselves in trees by the means of nets and were firing smokeless ammunition and hence almost impossible to find until they gave themselves up when their ammunition had run out.  The total casualties of the Unit were one Officer, Flight Lieutenant Highfield and 9 Other Ranks killed, one (unreadable), five Officers (Wing Commander Anderson, Squadron Leader Harrison, Captain Rowley, Flying Officer Williamson and (unreadable) Barnes, US and 31 Other Ranks wounded.  

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Saturday – St Pierre du Mont.  Site recce with Ned (Hitchcock).

Flt/Lt E.H. Hitchcock;  Replacement radar put into use near Omaha and he was then sent to

Utah with a similar task.

Flt/Lt A.G. McLeod;  Reported sniper fire to CO of the de-embarkation area. Change to US khaki

ordered.  1000 moved out north, passed through Carenton, St Mere Eglise to ‘a small village 10

miles away.

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman;  Arrived at Longueville site.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-  (Diary)  Not able to clear much up. Muddle ++. Pilots in odd Spitfires

give us a touch of home. Try to pass letters. Paddy must be worrying after all this time. News in

evening at American M[edical] O[fficer] [Captain Ballou]. Colonel. My gin drunk (from Duggie).

Another noisy night. Dust real menace. No attempt to get clean – not worth it.

F/Sgt F.M. Adair;  Set up radar near Pierre du Mont on a site chosen by Flt/Lt Effinberger.  Stayed there until July.  G.C.I.15082 finally became operational in the hamlet of Les Moulins.

Cpl W.E. Adderley:  Saturday – Les Moulins, St Laurent, Longueville.

Cpl E. Heathcote;  Became operational and claimed first enemy aircraft destroyed and I

damaged.

 

11-6-1944     (D+5)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The day was more or less uneventful.  Sundry liaison visits from an to the Americans were made. 

The military situation in the American Sector had improved considerably and the Foret de Berlay,

where a Panzer Division was reputed to be, was captured.  There was no enemy activity from the

air during the night in this Sector.

 

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Sunday – St Pierre du Mont.  Set up Wing Ops Room.  Worked on ‘drowned’

Type 14.

Flt/Lt A.G. McLeod;  Returned to St Mere Eglise area and remained overnight.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-   (Diary)  Miserable feeling in morning. Damp [and] cheerless. Awful breakfast. Service at 10.15 – very moving. Wandering for rest of morning. Small lunch. Washing clothes for first time (? worth it yet). Dust everywhere to make it foul again. Trip [with] Padre to “82”. Wrong direction so saw much of countryside. [Sentence too rubbed to read] Quite a number of shops. Masses of troops marching. Fog of dust. Front much nearer than expected (10-12 miles). No sound however. Another service in “82”. Quiet English field – Stoke Canon might have been. Real butter for tea. Everyone cheerful. I seem to have nothing to do now but time goes quickly. Very hard to keep kit together – disadvantage of having too much. Things still disappearing. Quiet evening (dull weather). Chat with Padre about marriages he had done. Bed 11.0. Bath in evening! First since Salisbury. Not as dirty as I had expected. Dust must act as cleaner.

 

12-6-1944    (D+6)

Own Casualties

(PRO Ref:- Air-728, No. 85 Base Group Air Staff, June – Aug 44)

85 Group GCI’s

Two mobile GCI Stations took part in the Assault Phase and both are now ashore and working.  15083 GCI in the British Sector got ashore well and were operating on the night of ‘D’ Day since when they have had many successes.

15082 GCI had a difficult time and lost many vehicles and sustained several casualties.  However, they are now set up and have claimed their first successes.  This Memo was signed by a Squadron Leader (signature illegible), Group Intelligence Officer.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The military situation continued to improve and a straight line was now established from  a point around Caen to a point North of St Lo.  In the course of the night, G.C.I. 15082 were successful in having 3 enemy aircraft destroyed.  There were no big raids but odd single enemy aircraft kept coming up.  There was a certain amount of confusion at the beginning of the night as the F.D.T. (Fighter Direction Tender) handing over the fighters had R/T trouble and could not contact the fighters, thus, the first raid was over before this Unit was given a fighter.  Wg/Cdr Brown, Sqn/Ldr Best and Sqn/Ldr Tothill nearly got into the enemy lines near Carentan on their way to Utah beach, through taking a wrong turning.  The beachhead here is very narrow and these officers had grenades thrown at them as well as being sniped at.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Monday – St Pierre du Mont.  On recce near Carentan.  Tried to get to Utah

beach with Flt/Lt Hitchcock and (Wg/Cdr?) Brown.  Machine gunned and grenaded in Carentan.

Sqn/Ldr Tothill;  On recce near Carentan.

Flt/Lt A.G. McLeod;  0800 headed north again to an unnamed French village 10 miles away from

St Mere Eglise.  Headed for Cherbourg.  Found a suitable site about 4 miles south of the town. 

’on air’.

 

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft;  (Diary)  Weak through small meals. B[reak]fast [with] Americans. Quiet

everywhere. Dust everywhere. Very surprised to see small part of coast in Invasion – nothing past

Deauville. Had expected whole of N[orthern] France and S[outhern] France. Will there be a strong

counterattack. We should leave here as soon as possible. (Med[ical]Note. Bowels obstinately

regular in spite of small meals. Very public lavatory!) Not feeling very energetic – almost too much

trouble to walk along line to latrine. Food noticeably better but still very primitive.  Cemetery

service. Thousands of graves. Smell. Black troops guarding. 14 graves. Back by beach (Tidied

now). Tea with Americans – still very good. Gives strength. Dust terrible all day. Main worry now. 

Trip [with] Cap[tain] [Ballou]. Isigny. Worried about driving into German lines. (Still very ignorant of

general position.) Patches of really heavy warfare [and] then calm countryside. Find café at last.

White wine 200 F bottle. Chat with beret-ed proprietor. (Taxi driver from Paris.) See fiancée in

 

kitchen for burns [and] otosclerosis (ostiosclerocis?). Thoroughly enjoyed this pioneer evening

(only R.A.F. in district). The nearest I shall get to the front. Life will soon be stereotyped I think. I

don’t look forward to arrival of [S]ector H[ead]q[uarters]. They will be so much better equipped

[and] cleaner. In terrible condition after our expedition but it was worth it. Best memory here so far. 

States ‘not looking forward to arrival of Sector HQ’ but does not explain why. 

 

 

13-6-1944    (D+7)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Various liaison visits from and to the Americans took place.  In the evening Gp Capt Moseby, Sqn/Ldr McGrath, Ft/Lt Evans and Lt Madder (of Air Formation Signals) arrived as the advance party of the second echelon.  The night was quite uneventful, there being very few enemy aircraft about.  G.C.I. No. 15082 carried out nine patrols but all proved to be uneventful.  The military position in the American Sector continued to improve and the Utah and Omaha fronts were joined but there was only a narrow bridgehead in the Carentan area, the front line being within 3 miles of Carentan.  The other forces were within 3 miles of St Lo. 

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Tuesday – St Pierre du Mont.  New centimetre gear arrived from England to

replace Types 11 & 21 ‘drowned’ on D-Day.  Erected Type 13.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-  (Diary)  Still finding it very hard to keep even reasonably clean.

Wearing same shirt as on Thursday. Shaving every other day. Sunday newspaper seen – pictures

very like our show here (Curious sensation). Americans keeping me sane [and] balanced. War still

seems on small scale – small front and not very deep [and] yet it cannot be heard. Washing

session in morning has cleared air.  Excellent meal (tea) with Americans. Trip to Bayeux in Jeep.

Isolated signs of battle only – burnt out cars (one with “J” registration). Villages all blitzed. Avenues

completely peaceful (Exeter → Stoke Canon road!). Bayeux untouched. Typical French town.

Drunken American soldier in alley. Champagne (300 F). Goodish. English seen for first time.

Shops quite full. Onions. Scent wanted. News sheets. Ladies hats (Smartish). Perfect evening out.

Completely another war. Dust bowl was not pleasant to return to. Our camp one further step down

the grade. Getting organised – very contented really.

 

14-6-1944    (D+8)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Sqn/Ldr McGrath went on a recce visit to the Cherbourg peninsula to find a site for G.C.I. No. 15072 on which to set up if the military situation warranted it.  The A.O.C. (Air Officer Commanding) paid a visit to Sector Headquarters and spent most of the evening in G.C.I. 15082 Operations Room watching the Controller.  It happened to be a night with a fair amount of activity going on all the time and in the course of the evening, Operations got a Ju88, 1FW190 destroyed and 1 FW190 damaged.  In addition to this, there was a considerable number of contacts on friendlies.  The second echelon of 21 Sector and the remainder of the first echelon which had remained at the original set-up near the Omaha B beachhead moved into the site at T.595905 where G.C.I. No. 15082 had set up and this became Sector Headquarters for the time being.  The Sector Operations set up but was unable to become operational that night.  The military situation in the American Sector continued to progress and considerable advance was made in the Sector East of St Lo and the position was also improved considerably in the Carentan area which had been an enemy stronghold and up to this time was more or less in the hands of the enemy who were now pushed out about 3 miles from the town which closed the route to the Peninsula.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Wednesday – St Pierre du Mont.  New Type14 arrived with 15072 convoy. 

Found site near St Mere Eglise.

Sqn/Ldr McGrath;  Carried out recce in Cherbourg peninsula.

Lt Mills;  Controlling G.C.I. 15072.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft(MO):-  (Diary)  War seems distant [and] less vital. Stale sights everywhere. Diarrhoea in morning made me wretched. Sudden news of move – disappointed because we [Padre, George Samter, Laurie Slade, ‘Chappie’ Chapman and RNR] were just beginning to enjoy life. Shall miss American M[edical] O[fficer]s too. Last meal with them very good. Letter to Paddy via Northolt pilot – should get it Friday.  Expected some fuss over us at new site [82’s] but were greeted coolly. General disillusionment. Terrible feeding conditions made situation worse. Tent with people from old site – keeping with Padre I’m glad to say. No one else to equal him. Frank discussion after meal. To have Theological background. Very noisy night to my surprise [and] dismay. Seemed to be target on several occasions. Terrifying. Too tired [and] warm to get out of bed. Appeared to be awake most of night.

 

15-6-1944    (D+9)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Wg/Cdr Ian Herbert Arthur Hay posted to Sector (Operations) as replacement for casualty, (Wg/Cdr A.M. Anderson).  Flt/Lt Tasker  Posted to Sector (Ops ‘G’) as replacement for casualty.  Flt/Lt William Douglas (Bill) Wiseman Posted to Sector (Ops ‘G’) as replacement for casualty.    G.C.I. 15072 moved out to a position in the Cherbourg peninsular T.375940 but were non-operational at night due to VHF trouble.  The day was uneventful except that word came through that the twp LCT’s which were missing from the second echelon had landed safely on Utah beach and were to proceed to Headquarters the following day.  There was considerable enemy activity at but unfortunately the weather was bad over in England and 264 Squadron appeared to be about the only squadron which was operating and there was a great shortage of fighters in the pool, it being impossible to get the fighters which were required.  The results were very disappointing as out of 7 contacts on enemy aircraft, one only resulted in a combat and that a ‘damaged’ and all the rest were lost.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Thursday – St Pierre du Mont.  All now working to original plan and timetable. 

Met (Wg/Cdr?) Brown and AOC 859.  New site at Ravenoville. 

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-  (Diary)  We seem to be back in England in our back water. No sign of

any war. Time mainly spent in keeping clean. (No dust now luckily.) Arranging food with Padre

during morning. Met A[ir] O[fficer] C[ommanding] – very charming. Congratulated us coyly I

thought. He knows now what happened. C[ommanding] O[fficer]’s meeting at 4.0. Nothing very

much decided. Breaking up into units. Complications in sanitation expected. No materials (applies

to cooking also). Things will gradually settle if only we can get basic utensils etc.  Visit to U.S.

Hospital on motorcycle. As usual very nearly as good as civil hospital. Radio, electric light, nurses

etc etc. How I wish I could be attached to one instead of doing nothing. No sign of ambulance of

course. Complete waste of time medically – enjoying it however because weather is good. No

news today – no worry about that however! What matters anyway except the end of the war?

 

16-6-1944    (D+10)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The remainder of the second echelon arrived at HQ and the Wing Operations Room became operational.  It was also hoped that the G.C.I. 15072 at O.3904 would be operational by night but this was not so as there were communication difficulties with the lines.  The night was a quiet one with very little enemy activity but G.C.I. 15082 were successful in having a Ju88 and a FW190 destroyed.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Friday – St Pierre du Mont. 

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-  (Diary)  Feeling less settled since muddle seems to grow rather than

get less. Can’t do anything constructive because there seems to be no one in charge of sections

to advise. Lying in tent this afternoon trying not to worry. First letters came today (by hand of

latecomers). Two from my darling written on the Friday and Saturday – very brave [and] cheerful.

Made me love her all the more. A reminder of a world outside this wicked senseless muddle. Can I

stand much more of it? There’s nothing to go back on unfortunately. Paddy enclosed letter from

Flick at Culmhead. My worse fears are justified now I know they’re there. They have another

M[edical] O[fficer] too! Why did I have to leave? New W[ing] C[o]m[mande]r arrived today – Ian

Hay [Wing Commander Anderson had been wounded and evacuated]. It hardly seems possible

[RNR had known him at Cambridge]. He’s very charming and doesn’t try to put it across me.

Seems very efficient too. Sleeping with several others in a tent on floor. Time still going very

quickly. Hardly time to read even.

 

 

17-6-1944    (D+11)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Flt/Lt Tasker, Operations; Sqn/Ldr F.J. Trollope, Controlling;  Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman, Controlling.  The day was spent trying to improve communications with the Operations Room which, up to date had been very restricted.  The night proved to be a record as with enemy activity estimated at 15 to 20 aircraft the Sector were able to claim 7 destroyed. About 50%.  6 victories went to G.C.I. 15082, 3 Ju188’s, 1 Ju88 and 2FW190, 5 of these while Sqn/Ldr Trollope was controlling and 1 while under the control of Ft/Lt Wiseman.  Sector Operations claim 1 FW190 (Ft/Lt Tasker).  The military position was continuing satisfactorily.  About the only Sector of note, where there was any appreciable change, was in the Peninsula where St Saviour to La Vicento was taken early in the day, the troops were pressing on to cut the Peninsula.  An advance was also made in the Gaumont area, East of St Lo, where there was apparently very little opposition.  The position at Carentan was still rather doubtful, the enemy still being within 1½ miles of the town.  G.C.I. 15082, who had set up in the Cherbourg Peninsula became operational but only obtained one contact on an enemy aircraft which was lost.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Saturday – Ravenoville.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-  (Diary)  Up early at last after a quiet night (My worst fear now is a

noisy night). Shaved before breakfast for the first time I think. Sick parade at 9.30. Very few

people. Scabies rather a problem. Found myself thinking what a difference Culmhead would be.

Yesterday’s letters have shaken me. Sanitary round showed that conditions are slowly improving.

Can’t do anything about it yet because of lack of materials. I think it will gradually shake down.

Great thing is to avoid worrying. Hard when there’s so little doing during day. No news of war. No

mail. Complete isolation. Time hardly exists. Hard to tell day of week. Happy band in our tent. Not

worrying about rest of camp much. We’re still eating alone. Very well organised by Chappie

[Chapman] – milk, butter etc. Could go on for weeks like this.  Outing with Padre in afternoon on

m[otor]c[ycle]. A Saturday afternoon trip in perfect weather. What was my darling doing? I

wondered. Clear roads mainly. 30 mph very comfortable. Bayeux. Shops. Scent (175 F) seems

quite good. Tried to find book. Should I have bought scent for Mum [and] girls? I didn’t think I

ought to buy too much, but someone else will get it of course. Visited Cathedral – complete

antithesis of our field. Enquired after tapestry and were given rose by old lady [curator]. Very dusty

journey to T[actical] A[ir] F[orce] in orchard. Mail and newspapers! Very like England. Well

organised [and] happy. S[ick] Q[uarters] virtually complete. 2 M[edical] O[fficer]s. It didn’t seem

fair! Given me ideas but shall I be able to do anything with such a small staff. My outfit is a travesty

I’m afraid. Padre there very sympathetic. We left reluctantly. Nearly crushed by lorry coming back

– guardian angle at work again. Face very burnt. Wizard meal waiting for us, well up to American

standard. Missing Americans badly now – they add leaven to our life.  Future seems very boring to

me. I can’t see any hope of anything interesting. Just longing to get away to something more

substantial.

 

18-6-1944    (D+12)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Flt/Lt Nodes (Jerry) controlling G.C.I. 15082.

There was very little enemy activity during the night, the estimate being ten to twelve enemy aircraft over the area out of which a Ju188 and a Ju88 were destroyed by aircraft under the control of G.C.I. 15082 (Ft/Lt Nodes).

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-    (Diary)  Senseless pottering about in the morning. Writing to Paddy most of morning and afternoon. Some washing too – the constant worry! Came across Capt[ain] Ballou by chance when looking for S[ick] Q[uarters] for H2O2 [hydrogen peroxide: antiseptic and disinfectant]. Everyone very cheerful. Great relief to me to have outside interest again. Away in Jeep from 21 W[ing] after very good service. Carentan approached until warned about shelling ?beginning of counterattack. Hurried retreat by 3 M[edical] O[fficer]s. Shell on second bridge as we went back! (Postcards in [Duggie] Highfield’s kit)

 

19-6-1944    (D+13)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

This was again a quiet night the estimate being  12 enemy aircraft.  Five contacts were obtained but all were lost before combat took place, due either to “window” or excess speed.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Monday – Ravenoville. 

Flt/Lt R. Rycroft, (MO):-  (Diary)  Tea with Captain Ballou (US Medical Officer), – feeling depressed until they ‘made some drink’.

Sqn/Ldr G.C. Harding (Padre); Leaky tents – visit with Flt/Lt R. Rycroft, MO.,  to St Laurent. Found Flt Lt D.C. (Duggie) Highfield’s grave.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-   (Diary)  Rain all day. Serious problem with outside cooking [and] leaky tents. Hard to remain cheerful. Visit [with] Padre to St. Laurent [1000 yards to south-east of Les Moulins]. Cemetery very muddy [and] cheerless. [Duggie] Highfield’s grave found.  Day went very quickly in spite of rain. Lay on bed drowsily quite a bit – couldn’t summon up energy. War situation not being followed closely owing to lack of radio [and] papers. Still no mail – serious inequality with rest of forces (U.S. [and] British).  Tea with Capt[ain] B[allou]. Depression until we made some drink [and] retired to his tent. Reminiscences by “A” officer. Corner Club, Cheltenham. Ford R.A.F. Used to be in Canadian Army. Back 10.15 quite merry. Momentary relief anyway.

 

20-6-1944    (D+14)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Gp/Capt W.G. Moseby went on recce run up Cherbourg peninsula to see G.C.I. 15072, also to ascertain how near the proper site had been cleared of the enemy.  The military position was going ahead in this area and the Allied troops were within 4 miles of Cherbourg, Valognes having already fallen.  There was slight enemy activity at night amounting to 12 sorties, G.C.I. 15082 (Flt/Lt Wiseman) got 1 FE190 destroyed.  Three contacts were obtained and well held on enemy aircraft but all had to be broken off as the hostiles entered the IAZ.  The gunfire was so intense and could not be stopped that on all occasions the fighter was forced to break away. – nearly reached the Barfleur site.  Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman controlling G.C.I. 15082. 

Sqn/Ldr N. Best:  Tuesday – Ravenoville.  Gp/Capt (Moseby) went nearly up to Barfleur site. 

Sqn/Ldr G.C. Harding, (Padre);  Tea with Capt Ballou (US Medical Officer, M.O.) and Flt/Lt R

RycroftMO.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-  (Diary)  No rain – great relief. Wind very strong. Difficult to work

outside. Lunch [with] Capt[ain] B[allou]. Took Padre on cycle. Back soon afterwards because of

sick parade. Writing Paddy [and] Mum all afternoon. Contact [with] “82” at tea. (Wg/Cdr) Hay very

friendly. Couldn’t be more pleasant. Made medicine excuse to visit Capt[ain] B[allou]. Small tea

[because of] stomach ache. Quiet evening reading – very contented. Being passive about

medicine, but what else can one do? Keeping in with people well I think. War news vague. Slow

progress. Not very interested anyway. Night raids are only worry – and weather, which has been

poor recently. Future still seems pretty hopeless. Camp beds arrived today for destitute. Much

needed relief for the poor wretches. England seems hopelessly far away. I can’t take it really

seriously. Writing easily but not very intimately. No chance of return post as yet. (21 Wing.

Cinderella of A[llied] E[xpeditionary] A[ir] F[orce].) Main thing is that they’ve heard from me. I can

wait of course. Lack of equipment is really an advantage, less worry.

 

21-6-1944    (D+15)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Preparations were made for moving some of the Signals Units up into the Cherbourg Peninsula as the military situation in that area was fast being cleared up and Cherbourg was likely to fall at any time.  The night was an extremely quiet one, this being the first night since the Unit set up that no raids entered the Sector although a few raids were seen in the adjoining sector to the East.  The following are now the locations of the various Units:-21 Sector HQ, MSU5131A and G.C.I. 15082 near Longueville, Ref T.595905;  G.C.I.15072 and C.O.L.15073 near Ravenoville, Ref .03904;   C.O.L.15074 near Longueville, Ref T.595865.  Preparations made to move Signals Units in to the Cherbourg Peninsular.

Rumour that Cherbourg had fallen but turned out to have been false.

Gp/Capt W.G. Moseby;  Recce , am, with Sqn/Ldr N Best and ‘Mac’ (otherwise unidentified but

possibly Sqn/Ldr McGrath). 

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Wednesday – Ravenoville.  Montebourg (ruined), Valognes (taken earlier-on

fire), to within 10 miles of Cherbourg.  Find C.O.L. site near Quettelou, St Vaast, Barfleur,

Tocqueville.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-   (Diary)  Away in Jeep to British lines collecting NAAFI packs. Dull

weather, very high wind. Maze of notices. Base H[ead]q[uarters] looked very efficient. Offices with

phones and light. Contrast to our place. Attempt to settle mail question not successful. Only unit

without mail in Invasion. Lunch with R[oyal] A[rmy] S[ervice] C[orps]. Small mess as at Sopley.

Real bread, which we didn’t eat. Very tired when finally reached home – fan hitting engine [and]

making tractor-like noise. No real war news. Good to have seen some of English part – very much

better than I had anticipated. Maybe we’re not so bad at war. (Powder for Mum, M[ary] [and]

J[oan] and Mrs K[itto]. Good for conscience.)  Had to take patient round to Capt[ain] B[allou] as I

had no materials for suturing. Stayed for tea [and] then poker against my better judgement. Very

lucky to get away with 60 Fr. Very low hands all the evening. I felt out of my depth at first and then

bored. Rumour that Cherbourg had fallen was false. General feeling of boredom now. Times goes

very quickly however.

 

22-6-1944    (D+16)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Further recce’s were made to the Cherbourg Peninsula.  Flt/Lt Chapman, Flt/Lt Fountain and Mr Cox Recce went to Tocqueville to make the final arrangements for setting up the Sector Headquarters.  A chateau near Tocqueville selected and requisitioned for the  Headquarters.  Cherbourg had, as yet, not actually fallen, but the fighting in that area appeared to be comparatively light.  The night was again a quiet one, out of 6 raids reported as entering the Sector, one Ju188 was destroyed by an aircraft  under the control of G.C.I. 15082 (Sqn/Ldr Trollope).

Wg/Cdr I.H.A. Hay;  Met with R. Rycroft,  MO. in his tent and went on trip together to Bayeux. 

Stated by MO as ‘unable to due to eat- gastric pain’.

Sqn/Ldr F.J. Trollope;  Controlling G.C.I. 15082.  With Wg/Cdr Hay, Flt/Lt R Rycroft and Flt/Lt

Tasker on Bayeux trip. 

Sqn/Ldr N. Best; Thursday – Ravenoville.  To Barfleur. Rethoville. Quettehou, Rethoville site. 

Chateau Tocqueville (future HQ).

Flt/Lt E.H. Hitchcock;  Recce with Mac (Sqn/Ldr McGrath?) and Sqn/Ldr Best towards Barfleur

site.

(Wg/Cdr?) Brown;  Recce with Mac (Sqn/Ldr McGrath?) and Sqn/Ldr Best towards Barfleur site.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-  (Diary)  Feel lack of definite work badly. Time to worry about non

essentials (keeping uniform clean etc).  Small sick parade – very little I can do for them

unfortunately. Lack of desk and room in tent makes it awkward for working. Letter to Paddy most

of morning. Round to Capt[ain] B[allou] on m[otor]cycle. Lunch fair – not as good as before. Lent

Jeep to take back patient. Letter writing after 2 pm parade. Felt ill for a while afterwards (probably

due to boredom inwardly, I have plenty to do but subconsciously I’m unemployed.) Met Ian Hay at

his tent and became involved in trip to Bayeux. I had hoped to have supper with Americans [and]

had to return the Jeep quickly. Always happening that I have to make sudden decisions. Bayeux

trip was surprisingly productive. We found another shop and I bought some lipstick. Drinks at “Lion

d’Or” and then dinner (Soup Beef Peas Camembert 50 F). Not a brilliant meal but the first non-

service one I had had in France. Reminded one very much of holidays in France [and] Belgium.

Yellow wood furniture [and] gaudy painting. Surprised that we could have a casual meal. Mostly

Americans eating. Ian unable to eat – gastric pain. Lent me money very generously. Search for

Mag[nesium] Trisilicate [antacid] afterwards. At last located Gen[eral] Hospital. Looked very good.

Met Col[onel] I[n] C[harge] on way out. Didn’t mind my depredation. Watched our light bombers

going through flak. One hit but appeared to put out fire well. Perfect sunny evening made our

outing holiday-like. It was fresh country to (Wg/Cdr) Hay, [Squadron Leader] Trollope and (Flt/Lt)

Tasker and they were quite excited. I feel a very old stager now that it’s ten days since I first

visited Bayeux with Capt[ain] B[allou]. I feel now that I’ve had all the novelty I’m likely to get and

long for normal life in England. A pre war summer holiday in an unattainable heaven, which M

[and] D can still have! Future seems very bleak. No good worrying however.

 

23-6-1944    (D+17)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

G.C.I. 15072 moved to their new site at Rethoville.  The Third Echelon of 21BDS arrived at Utah Beach and went up to the site which was to be Sector Headquarters near Tocqueville.  The following morning, Gp/Capt Moseby and an advance party proceed to the Chateau to arrange the layout of the new headquarters.  There was very little enemy activity at night, the official estimate being 5 in this Sector, out of which ‘Jungle’ 25 claimed to have shot down a Ju188.  This was considered to have been a friendly aircraft, ‘Jungle 41’, which was seen to go down in flames at approx. the same position and time.

Gp/Capt W.G. Moseby;  Went With MO to visit Chateau near Tocqueville to arrange layout of new

HQ.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best; Friday – Ravenoville.  Moved to Rethoville; set up at Fermanville; back to

Ravenoville. 

Brown; (Wg/Cdr?)  Message to Sqn/Ldr Best that he had found a new site 1¼ miles west of

Tocqueville.

Chapman;  Rank Flt/Lt?  At new HQ Chateau near Tocqueville.

Flt/Lt E.H. Hitchcock;  Returned to Ravenoville at 2300 with Sqn/Ldr Best and Mac.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-  (Diary)  Lunch with Capt[ain] B[allou]. Not as good as usual but very

much better than our cookhouse. At least able to wash mess kit afterwards. Feeling very much at

a loose end in the afternoon – slept fitfully. Wandered round to “82” [and] as usual I picked

something up immediately – the G[roup] C[aptain] Moseby wanted me to visit to new Chateau

[Tocqueville]. Drove his heavily loaded Jeep after tea through Carentan. Very quiet in spite of the

nearness to battle. Up coast road e[ast] side of peninsula. Many smashed gliders – impressive

[and] depressing. Didn’t seem to have had a chance. Later came to site of naval bombardment –

complete devastation. Towards Barfleur we were practically the first Allied troops. Bouquets –

people almost hysterical. Small boy came in car to show us way to Reville. Wanted cigarettes

badly.  Chateau very impressive. Dusty. German notices. Villagers had plundered. Library intact –

ancient mostly. S[ick] Q[uarters] fair. Smell queer. Feathers everywhere. Some beautiful rooms.

News heard in garden when we could also hear battle noises from Cherbourg. Living in midst of

history. Slept in camp kit on mahogany bed in large room. Canopy above in gold. Very

incongruous. (Polish prisoner.) Chapman O[fficer] C[ommanding] cleaning etc. Wrote to Paddy

mentioning as much as I dared. Very hard to become used to such a historic place. Hard to fit in

one’s picture.

 

24-6-1944    (D+18)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Third Echelon arrived at the new Headquarters and commenced to settle themselves in although it was known that the enemy were only about 4 miles East and there were no friendly troops between them and the enemy. Various members of the Unit from the present headquarters went up to the chateau to see the lie of the land and to make arrangements for the setting up of their own sections.  The night was again quiet, the official estimate of enemy aircraft being about 6 in the Sector, out of which C.O.L. 15074 claimed one Me410 destroyed (F/O May) and one Ju188 damaged (Sqn/Ldr Ross)

Gp/Capt W.G. Moseby;  Suggests trip to Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO), to England to see about an

ambulance.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Saturday – Rethoville.  Hun in strength at Fermanville – pulled back to HQ. 

Entire convoy moved to Rethoville.

Flt/Lt E.H. Hitchcock;  Salvaged personal gear from shelled site with Sqn/Ldr Best

Sqn/Ldr Ross;  Controlling C.O.L.15074.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-   (Diary)  Up 7.30. Hot water. Tea. Scrappy breakfast. G[roup] C[aptain]

(Moseby) suddenly suggests England to see about ambulance. Sudden complete change of

outlook for me. When? Where? How? 11.30 back to original site in Piper Cub. Excellent view of

front. Felt slightly sick. Told to await instructions by G[roup] C[aptain].  Took Ingham to Bayeux on

m[otor]c[ycle] to buy book [for his girlfriend] – Arduous [and] dusty but felt I ought to do it.

Smothered in dust coming back. Tea [with] Capt[ain] B[allou]. Full of English visit. Went to 9th

[Tactical] A[ir] F[orce] to arrange trip. O.K. Still waiting for instructions.  Hard to settle down now

I’m afraid. Mail ++. 11pm.

 

25-6-1944    (D+19)

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

Experience in Normandy has shown the necessity for RAF Personnel in the American Sector to be kitted with Khaki War Service Dress.  3,500 suits are being issued to meet requirements.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

In the course of the night the enemy in the Cherbourg area started shelling the direction of G.C.I. 15072 and the new Headquarters.  G.C.I. 15072 were forced to pack up and make a hasty retreat during the night.  The shelling continued during the day and headquarters were ordered to disperse, which they did, leaving only a holding party.  In the course of the day the military position was well in hand and word came through in the evening that the Americans who had previously surrounded Cherbourg were now fighting in the streets from house to house.  The enemy activity at night was almost negligible, only 4 hostiles entered the Sector but no interceptions were made..

Gp/Capt W.G. Moseby;  Informed MO OK to go to UK to seek an ambulance.

Wg/Cdr I.H.A. Hay;  Went to St Laurent airstrip with MO.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best; Sunday – 73 (G.C.I.15073?) moved to Quettelou.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft(Diary)  Perfect summer day at last. 10 o’clock service enjoyed again. Almost

too hot then. Waiting anxiously for news of my job. G[roup] C[aptain] (Moseby) came at eleven

[and] gave me OK. Hurried packing – parcels letters [and] scents for people. Could I manage all

this in the time? No definite plans possible because I didn’t know where I was going in England.

Down to St Laurent strip [with] (Wg/Cdr) Ian Hay. Everyone very vague – 9th wouldn’t play. A

Col[onel] gave permission for his plane however – to Newbury. Wondered what good that would

be – no good trying anything else. Left at 3.45 feeling very worried about future [and] airsickness!

Had a very smooth trip, weather gradually got bad. Low cloud [and] rain in England. Wonderful to

see land untouched by war. Seemed impossible to be back again ([compare] Exeter last year after

Scotland). Immediately lift to Newbury. Where next?? London Leamington, Exeter? Suddenly

thought of Mary. In with Joan as luck would have it. Overjoyed. Trunk call to Paddy – very

surprised of course. Sherwood – bad line. G[roup] C[aptain]’s wife and Chapman’s [doctor]. All

very quickly. Just squeezed a bus with very chatty conductress. M[ary] and J[oan] waiting for me.

Drinks in pub – they couldn’t wait to hear all my news. Thrilled with powder. Saw Jo[an] off.

Headache when at Bucklebury. No supper. Worked hard at phone. Tangmere – Nye Timber.

Sherwood. Paddy. All pretty well arranged in the end. Bath at Mary s room!! Slept in gardener’s

cottage. Sheets! Wonderful.  Sudden change to England (French dust on boots [and] all that) was

very hard to believe. Excitement gave me headache I think. Tomorrow should be wonderful. Not

bothering about getting back. It’ll work out somehow. It always does.

 

26-6-1944    (D+20)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Wg/Cdr Maxwell of 604 Squadron arrived by air in the evening at the Sector Headquarters at

Longueville where he spent the night.  The evening was spent between G.C.I. 15082 and the

Operations Room but was quite uneventful largely due to the weather conditions as it rained in

deluges most of the night and was really non-operational.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Monday – Went to outskirts of Cherbourg with Flt/Lt Hitchcock and ‘Mac’.       

Flt/Lt E.H. Hitchcock;  Looking for site for C.O.L. near Cherbourg with Mac and Sqn/Ldr Best.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-  (Diary)  Anxious to start early. Phoned Nye Timber. Advised to try Old

Sarum. Better [and] better. A plan at last to work on. How to get to Salis[bur]y now? Mary drove

ambulance to main road. Series of excellent hitches to Salis[bur]y 10.30!! Haircut. Shopping.

Paddy 1 pm. Silent embrace. Much talk at lunch. * Afternoon in room, couldn’t wait. Tea with

duchess type (“Guards chapel you know” “Everyone killed you know” [The Guards Chapel

Tragedy, 18 June]). Waiting for M [and] D. Suddenly came on Pop at door of his room. Queer to

have our room now. Felt very superior. Dinner fun. Cathedral walk in dull weather, but they loved

it.  Back for news which didn’t materialise. Read diary in my room. Hair washed. Bed for 10

o’clock. New experience for us. Tried falling asleep together – not successful.

 

27-6-1944   (D+21)

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

Air Commodore H.M. Pearson CBE assumed command of No.85 (Base) Group vice Air Vice Marshall J.B. Cole-Hamilton CB, CBE.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book; (Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Wing Commander Maxwell went up to see Gp/Capt Moseby at the new Sector Headquarters near Tocqueville and spent the night.  News came through to this headquarters at approx. 1700 hours that the batteries and pockets had been cleaned up and that Cherbourg was now in our hands, except for the mopping up of a few snipers and an odd machine gun nest.  In consequence of this information, Sectors Headquarters personnel which had evacuated to Reveille were immediately moved back to Headquarters and G.C.I. 15072 moved back to their site and became operational at night.  The Commanding Officers of 410 and 488 Squadrons arrived at Sector Headquarters at Longueville in the evening and spent a considerable part of this night in the Operations Room, but there was practically no activity in the area during the whole night except for one or two odd raids which appeared.

Gp/Capt W.G. Moseby met Wg/Cdr Maxwell (604 Sqn) at new Sector HQ near Tocqueville.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-   (Diary)  Early awake. 6.30. * Bath. Walk round cloisters [and] Bishop’s

garden before breakfast. Papers in Pop’s room. Surprised at our early rising. (Shook us too.)

Anxious to get moving after breakfast. Attempt to get photo taken. But no luck. Padre prayer book.

“The Seasons” (Later sent home!). “Bayeux Tapestry”. No room in “Bay Tree”. Cadena. Time

going desperately fast. Beer for chaps [tent companions]. Back for lunch. Short drinks. Laughing

over greyhound racing stories at lunch – tears down face. Canal walk with M [and] D before they

left. Threat of rain. Dog left in water ?halfwit girl. Sad to say goodbye to Mum in room. Shopping.

Tea at “Bay Tree”. Strawberries – sad child given some. (Book etc) Saw our duchess type again.

Cinema 4.45 The Sullivans. A bit too near the bone, I thought. News recognised Carentan. A bit

apprehensive about tomorrow. Would G[roup] C[aptain] be hard to deal with? London trip

ordered? Would I be asked to account for time? Paddy very confident on evening walk that I

wouldn’t be questioned. (Close. New bridge. Caravan [and] pub) Decided to leave worrying until

morning. Early night after return from walk. Terrific noise from tanks 4 am. Slept again.

 

28-6-1944   (D+22)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Sqn/Ldr Trollope took the Commanding Officers of 410 and 488 Squadrons up to the new HQ at

Tocqueville and then all returned in the evening including Wg/Cdr Maxwell who went on to visit  C.O.L. 15074 and 24 Sector, where he spent the night.  There was again very little activity in the Sector, only 3 enemy aircraft estimated to have entered it out of which, a fighter controller of G.C.I. 15082 (Ft/Lt Wiseman) destroyed one Ju88.  Considerable activity was observed to the east in 24 Sector.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Wednesday – Rethoville – Moved 21(BDS?) convoy back to Rethoville site. 

Visited Fermanville radar station.

Wg/Cdr Maxwell;  Visited C.O.L. 15074 and 24 Sector.

Sqn/Ldr F.J. Trollope;  Took CO’s of 410 and 488 Squadrons to new HQ at Tocqueville.

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman; Controlling G.C.I. 15082.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-  (Diary)  Later than yesterday. * Bath. 9.5 B[reak]fast. Anxious about

phone call to Group. Booked call [and] then shopped (“Sausage?” at breakfast.) Rain ++ Back at

10.40 promptly ?right number. Through to S[quadron] L[eader] Howat. Very cheerful. “Your stock

is high here” G[roup] C[aptain]. Jeep booked. “Have a good leave!” Overjoyed in town. Dashing

about excitedly. Scarf for me. Nothing for Paddy! Small Shakespeare (1904 not 1944). Lunch at

“Bay Tree”. ?Thursday or Friday. Wandering contentedly round shops – no particular objective.

Lunch as good as ever – look forward to meals. It’s a very good hotel. My resistance to returning is

weakening. Result of our ever growing love and devotion on Paddy’s part.  Cathedral 3 pm. ?what

sort of music. Organ started show (Still can’t concentrate sufficiently. Music seems blurred [and]

out of proportion). Organist Sir Walter Alcock. Violin (Handel sonata) moving on other hand.

Played by May Harrison – obese [and] middle aged. Boy soprano very lovely at times – seemed

very cool [and] collected. Dean (with glasses) made much fuss about simple announcements.

Paddy recognised many faces from schooldays [Godolphin]. Catching glances at her during

programme – sweet and serene. Terrific rainstorm afterwards, horizontal sheets.  Tea at W[hite]

H[art] for first time – not impressed. Used own jam. Round to C S Ford in spite of rain afterwards. I

was set on it somehow. Seemed very pleased to see us. Looked very much the same – slightly

yellow. Away then to see if we could make Garrison Theatre (“I think married life must make you

placid” in Theatre when waiting. “Oh sausage!”) Getting in near back seats. Average thriller. Good

acting. Rain as usual when we came out. Still anxious about Friday in spite of Paddy’s advice and

reassurance. I think I’ll find it was O.K. when I get back. Wonderful joint experience after early bed.

Better and better. Seems hardly credible. Peace +++.

 

29-6-1944    (D+23)

85 (Base) Group Overseas Location Statement.

(PRO Ref:- Air 25-738, No. 85 Group, Appendices Organisation (Location Statement)

For some reason the actual physical locations are said to have been given in 83 Group and 2nd TAF Location Statements.

The Units comprising 21 Base Defence Sector are shown as:-

GCI’s/COL’s – 15072 GCI, Type 25.,  15073 COL.,  15074 COL.,  15081 GCI Type 25., 15082 GCI Type 25. and 14030 AMES Type 14.

Mobile Signals Units:- 349 MRU., 545K., 5132C., 5136F., 5140Q., 5141Q., 5142Q., 5158T., 5162T., 5215H., 5226J., 5227J., 5276D., 5292J., 5006H., 5131A., 5157T., 5164U., 5169U.,5228J., 5233P., 5317P., 5318P.,

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Nothing of interest occurred during the day and there was no activity at all during the Night although a few raids were observed in the adjoining Sector to the East.  It turned to rain in the evening and rained heavily off and on all night.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Thursday – Rethoville.  Set up Type 11 of 15072 at Fermanville.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-   (Diary)  More rain. Weather unfair to R[ycroft]s! No bath [because of] no vacancy. B[reak]fast 9.5. Reading papers. Long wait. ?How to make most of our last day. Weather very much against us. Walk in rain (pullover for Paddy at Jaeger shop). “Blue Bird” dullish. Sat on close with young woman and small girl. Chased birds and dashed about joyfully. Would we have someone as sweet, I wondered? Airgraph to aunt in B[ritish] C[olumbia]. Windy still. Excellent lunch again (my last unfortunately).  (“Fancy wondering!” Paddy. 7 pm.) Away to catch 2.5 bus for old times’ sake. Fordingbridge in very overcast weather. Early closing. Suspicious looking convoy with airborne troops. Walked up lane to station. English countryside again. Quite like Normandy I thought. Singing happily with my Paddy. Went back to S[alisbury] for tea as there was nothing likely in F[ordingbridge]. [Picked up] “Listener” reserved [earlier] at small shop. “Cadena” coffee [and] toast. Really enjoyed it. Rain made further travels impossible so went back to hotel. Rested. Paddy journeyed alone – dear little P[addy]. No drinks before 7 we discovered. Started stampede by entering dining room first – undetected however. Took gins to room for consumption later. Waited for 8.20 phone call to L[eaming]ton. Out! To ring in morning.  Walked to Godolphin – met Miss Smith in gardens (I was scared at first about entering grounds. Good old D.). Very chatty soul. Shown swimming bath (small frogs!) Then visited studio, form rooms, science block. Discovered Cherbourg had Brest peninsula to west. Wanted to use Wimshurst machine. Perfect summer evening at last. Hurried home to drinks in darkening room.  Godolphin cont[inue]d. Met budding medical student in library. Visited cloakroom [and] WCs. Scene of Paddy’s poems. Waiting list [to] 1949. ?Stalked to bathroom by Gunnings.

 

30-6-1944    (D+24)

Strength and Distribution of Medical Officers

(PRO Ref:- Air 49-88, No.85 Base Group, Medical History)

Under No. 21 Base Defence Sector is shown Flt/Lt Rycroft (Overseas) – the only MO so noted.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Gp/Capt Moseby went from the new Sector Headquarters near Tocqueville to the old site at Longueville to look around with Sqn/Ldr Trollope for a new site on the coast on which to set up G.C.I. 15082 as the patrol line for fighters controlled by G.C.I. 15082 was now over the sea instead of being south of the I.A.Z. where it originally was before they first set up.  The site was selected at T.577937 which is between St Pierre du Mont and Grandcamp.  During the night there was slight enemy activity on the eastern boundary of the Sector.  3 minelayers just entered the Sector.  A Ju188 was shot down by a fighter controller of G.C.I. 15082 (Ft/Lt Nodes).

Gp/Capt W.G. Moseby accompanied by Sqn/Ldr F.J. Trollope went from new HQ at Tocqueville

to old site at Longueville to seek a site to place G.C.I. 15082.

Gp/Capt Stewart;  Permitted Sqn/Ldr Best, Mac and Flt/Lt Hitchcock to leave on

1-7-1944

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;  Friday – End of ops duties; cleared from 21 Sector; to St Pierre Eglise.

Flt/Lt Nodes;    Controlling G.C.I. 15082.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-  (Diary)  Rang Pop 9.15. Out. He rang later. Wanted to tell me he was pleased. Packing – hard to fit everything in. Very heavy case. Bought bread [and] many papers. Read them in corner of “Bay Tree”. Life seemed good in spite of having to go back. Prepared mentally now. Rang Mum a farewell – cheerful. Last sit on close – drew Cathedral. Bus 12.10. Heat +++. Paddy away a W: 1.35. Sad, but deliberately forgot it. Chatting in S[tation] S[ick] Q[uarters]. Saw General. All fixed [and] then cancelled due to weather. Mad dash back. Reading John O’L[ondon’s]. Tea very welcome – met P[addy] coming along street. “Bay Tree” small table. Disappointed when rang M[iddle] W[allop] to ask about later journey tomorrow. Worried about early morning journey with no buses but felt I ought to attempt it. Couldn’t clear my mind of this worry. Very tired before news. Sat near window in our old “34”. Better after news. Listened to Invasion Service at 6.30 in Cathedral. Surprised by influx of ATS [and] Army during service. Prayers sounded dull. ?Any effect on individual’s protection. Discussion on way back. To ask Padre on return. Heavy rain prevented evening walk. Read notebook (part of this) and John O’L[ondon’s] in lounge until 8.45. Another “last bath”. Unable to remember much good about previous visit to “34”. To bed early because of early rise on morrow. Paddy kicked out of bed 1.30. I awake suddenly [and] think I’m in tent. Confusion [and] then giggling. Very amusing interlude.

 

JULY

1-7-1944      (D+25)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

G.C.I. 15082 moved their technical equipment to the new site selected for them between St Pierre du Mont and Grandcamp at (T.5496) and were on the air and fully operational by night.  There was more activity by night than there had been for some time, waves of hostiles appeared believed to be mine-laying.  There were estimated to be 6 aircraft in the first wave and 20+ in the second but unfortunately the weather had closed in very badly and there were no fighters on patrol at the time.  One fighter (219 Squadron) did arrive during the course of the raid and obtained a contact, but due to the fact that he was in cloud all the time, he was never able to obtain a visual.

Sqn/Ldr N. Best;-  Saturday – Left 15073 for Utah beach.  Boarded US LST 316 at 1200.

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman;  Moved Technical site to Grandcamp.

Cpl W.E. (Bill) Adderley;-  Saturday -Grandcamp.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-  (Diary)  Up 7.0 sharp. Not very depressed. Breakfast very fortifying.

Weather very poor. Spire in cloud even. Collection of papers – more by telling France story.

Waited at roadside 7.50 – 8.50. Not able to get lift. Very disturbing to be left in air. Phoned with

some trepidation at 9.15 and learned that no planes could go at moment. Jubilation. Bought

 

“Homage to Hymen” at Smith’s. “Bay Tree” front room reading it hard. Continued on close. Left

owing to spots of rain. Couldn’t very well complain however. Gunnings have drinks 12.15. Lunch

with them after. Fun talking with them. Beer made us sleepy. 2.30 rang up – would I have to go?

Arranged to go tomorrow afternoon. Real triumph. Still worrying about reaction at 21W[ing]

however. Have I overstepped the mark?  Walk to Mill [and] church beyond. Very muddy path. Had

to carry Paddy. Made notes about architecture. Ancient English. Read tombstones [and] condoled

with young deaths. Gave myself to 50 as a minimum. Tea room at Mill very gloomy – escaped.

Very long queue Cadena. Sat near queue head. Not very cheerful I’m afraid. Music playing above

us softly. The close afterwards. Paddy lectured about being depressed. Read our Hymen

anthology until wind rose [and] blew umbrella away. Back for news – not relayed. Letter to M [and]

D in writing room. Huge crowd for dinner. Wonderful meal (chicken. Beans Raspberries). Lounge

almost empty except for Australian F[light] L[ieutenan]t [and] ?nurse. Kept us interested. Rain

pouring down outside. To room 9 o’clock. Reading anthology in front of window. Quite late in end

when we went to bed.

 

2-7-1944    (D+26)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The weather was again bad but the number of enemy aircraft was estimated at three aircraft out of which one Ju188 was destroyed (Ft/Lt Nodes) and  an unidentified probably destroyed (Sqn/Ldr Trollope)  by fighters under the control of G.C.I. 15082. 

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-   (Diary)  Half awake 7 o’clock. Very confused [and] dropped off now [and] again. Pretty certain I’d be going today. Breakfast 9.0. Bath afterwards because of going back. Rang up “nothing yet”. On Close. Strawberries on seat, papers. “Rose [and] Crown” discovered. People waiting for 12 o’clock. Cowley atmosphere. Dalmation chases kitten in yard. Beer on small barrel table. Old women came in with jugs for dinner beer. Think of life in tent later in day. Seemed very likely I’d be going then. Early lunch. No movements expected. To Cathedral in heavy rain. Surprised at small congregation (40 or 50. R.A.F. in numbers). Service hard to hear from behind rood screen. Singing not good. Dean reads second lesson very clearly. Sermon by Army Padre – reconstruction after war. Platitudinous. Sudden ending. A depressing experience on the whole. Feeling very Sunday afternoonish. Crowd for tea. Went to far room without result. Finally begged tea after Gunnings. Theatrical people, were not inspiring and made us more depressed with our fellow men. Walk in rain to get away from closed atmosphere. No film worth seeing – crowds everywhere. Back to dinner which was civilised at least. Unable to go out afterwards. Sat in corner and idly looked through Sunday papers. Glad when 9 o’clock came and we were released. A sad day on the whole – mainly due to weather. (Paddy waltzed up [and] down pavement outside hotel and annoyed me because I wasn’t feeling in the mood for such things. Lecture when we reached our room!

 

3-7-1944      (D+27)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The day at Longueville was spent in packing up everything except the equipment that was wanted for the night’s operations preparatory to leaving the site as soon after 0600 hours as possible for the new Headquarters at Tocqueville.  The advance party of the WING were fully employed getting the new Operations Room rigged up ready for operations the following night.  The night was again fairly quiet with enemy activity estimated at only 6 aircraft , one of which, a Ju188 was shot down by a fighter controlled by G.C.I. 15082 (Sqn/Ldr Trollope).

Sqn/Ldr F.J. Trollope;-  Controlling G.C.I.15082.

Cpl H.J.M. (Harry) Warren;-  (Service Number 1610898).  Landed with a radar unit on Omaha

beach.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-  (Diary)  Better weather. Seemed just about possible. “Words [and]

Days” at Boots. “Bay Tree”, sitting near window reading sporadically. Caught 12.10 bus. Off at

“Pheasant”. Closed. (RAF mess). Bus away by then. Lift to fork. Miles [and] miles to walk. Found

baker and bought loaf. Ate it behind hedge and thoroughly enjoyed picnic. Seemed to be last bit of

civilisation before leaving. Given lift in lorry to Wallop village. Tea room with hot atmosphere and

radio, felt. out of place as officer. Rang up – still on. Walked to station – much too far after all our

walking. Guard room No planes today! Very unexpected release. Overjoyed. Difficult getting lift

with Paddy – U.S. wouldn’t play. Finish in great style, Major in Wolseley drives us to W[hite] H[art]

door! Quick wash etc and then Cadena for tea. Upstairs. My favourite coffee. Everything perfect

once again – no worries. Away to “Picture House”. Saw a really well done Nazi thriller “Fallen

Sparrow”. Tense all the way. Acting made up for weak story. Almost as good as a first class play.

Came out (6.0) into brilliant sunshine. A change in the weather at last. Our last evening would be

fine anyway. The Close looked wonderful – we walked to the Bishop’s palace by a road we hadn’t

been on before. Looked up at the light green leaves overhead. Had to sit on wall on way back!

Gunnings could hardly believe I was back again.  Perfect evening. Walked to “Rose [and] Crown”

via the Close. No beer. Some very foul orange cordial instead. Robbery. Sat on river edge on iron

seat and watched people in small rowing boat. Later two girls came to bathe. Very noisy and not at

all attractive. Seemed very late for such exercise. We didn’t envy them. Back to an early night in

our dark, smelly room. No sadness because we were determined to be cheerful [and] live in the

present.

 

4-7-1944      (D+28)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Sector Operations left Longueville at 06.30 hours for their new Headquarters at Tocqueville and arrived at 13.00 approx.  The rest of the day was spent unpacking and getting all the equipment ready for operating at night.  This was to be the first night of the changeover  from the Mobile Ops to Transportable Ops. Set up in a large room in the Chateau Tocqueville.  C.O.L. 15074 moved from Longueville to a new site near La Parnelle, (O.3620) where they set up and were operational at night.  The night was a quiet one with only a few minelayers in the Sector but no interceptions were made.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO);-  (Diary)  Clear blue sky – obviously going today. Breakfast on time. Had bath last night. Socks damp from washing but had to be put on – all I had with me. Good meal as usual. Paid bill (£8-8 since Friday). Shocked at first. Just managed to collect money between us. Unable to get many papers – everywhere sold out. Market day ?cause. Felt shabby after so many days delay. I was very clean on Friday of course. Lunch at “Bay Tree”. Last moments on Close. Looking for papers. Wretched old man kept pocketing copies he found on the seat. Aided by woman with lupus. Given Telegraph by kindly type playing with his stick. Bus caught well on time. Looked for yesterday’s landmarks on our way. Lunch past ’drome in cornfield overlooking O[fficers]’ mess. Last sweet moments with my darling. Walked back to Guard Room. No room this afternoon! Black despair. To ring up later. Did so at 1.45 “See what he could do”. Up road to teashop for cup of tea [and] cake. Radio playing. Hard to keep cheerful. Had to look out of the window occasionally. Didn’t dare to think of past few days. Separated at guard room 2.30. Hurriedly. After much talk was allowed a plane (4 G.I s came on later!!). Smooth journey. Reading John O’London’s. Coast appeared sooner than expected. Barfleur seen first. Shaky landing in heavy weather. An hour arranging a lift on truck. Last vehicle just leaving as I arrived old site. Just my luck. To “82” instead. Papers given out in lorry. (Not seen again.) Capt[ain] B[allou] 7 pm. Glad to see me. At Field Hospital with Graves. Compared evening with last evening. Anxious to get to 21 Wing. Quite cheerful. Slept on paliasse with only two blankets. Slept well in spite of everything. Tired..

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman;-  Moved Domestic site to Grandcamps.

Cpl W.E. (Bill) Adderley;-  Tuesday – Domestic site, (not identified).

 

5-7-1944    (D+29)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The day was spent working on the Operations Room as there was still a lot of work to put in and

improvements to be made to get things working to the fullest advantage.  Personnel were working

all the time under considerable disadvantage due to the lack of Communications with outside

Units.  There was the makings of a first class set up when everything was brought to perfection

which only time and experience could do.  The night was an extremely quiet one, the only enemy

activity reported coming from C.O.L. 15074 who reported that a fighter under their control had a

visual on a Do.217 (Dornier) but lost it.

Wg/Cdr I.H.A. Hay;-  MO, Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft,  waiting all day for him to arrive.  He arrived 19.30.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-   (Diary)  Up 7.30. First to breakfast – just about edible. Waiting all day

for Hay. Very wearing with nothing to do except read. Completely without kit for eating. No one

seemed to worry about my return. Just given up hope of reaching Wing when Hay turned up

(7.30). Good run back – ran over dog near Chateau. Everyone pleased at Chateau. Arrived 10.30.

Search for kit. Managed to find bed roll. Slept in Padre’s room on Cox’s bed.

 

6-7-1944      (D+30)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

A very quiet night and no enemy aircraft entered the Sector.  Locations of Units at the present time:-

Sector HQ, A.F.S., and 5131A in O.3626 Tocqueville.

G.C.I. 15072 – ).3229, Renaville;

C.O.L. 15073 – O.2626, Carnville;

C.O.L. 15074 – O.3620, La Pernelle;

G.C.I. 15082 – (T.5493).

Gp/Capt W.G. Moseby;-  Wanted written report from MO.

Flt/Lt R.N. Rycroft (MO):-   (Diary)  Surprised at good food at breakfast. G[roup] C[aptain] wanted

written report at first, then I explained. Very busy moving into S[ick] Q[uarters]. Cherbourg

afternoon. Chateau on way back. Reading letters.

 

7-7-1944    (D+31)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

G.C.I. 15081 moved to their new location T.053993 near  Barneville and expect to be operational on the 8th.  It was estimated that approximately 6 enemy aircraft operated in the area out of which G.C.I. 15082 destroyed a Ju88 and Me410.  ‘Jungle’ 28 who destroyed the Ju88 was apparently hit in combat and was forced to bale out over the sea but nothing was heard of him afterwards.

 

8-7-1944    (D+32)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No enemy activity appeared in the Sector at all during the night.  G.C.I. 15081 became operational.  Sqn/Ldr (Rev) C.J. O’Mahoney posted in to 21 Sector.

 

9-7-1944    (D+33)

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air 25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

Uxbridge.  Air Vice Marshall J.B. Cole-Hamilton CB, CBE. Re-assumed command of 85 (Base)

Defence Group

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

There was no enemy activity in the Sector but enemy aircraft which appeared to be mine-laying could be seen in the adjoining Sector to the East but we could not get much information about them as the telephone line was out and the only means of communication was over the R/T.P/Off L. Bigmore, P/Off C.M. Davis and P/Off B. Rose posted to 21 Sector for Filter duties w.e.f. 3-7-1944. 

 

 

10-7-1944    (D+34)

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

Uxbridge.  Air Vice Marshall C.R. Steele CB, DFC. Assumed command of 85 (Base) Group vice Air

Vice Marshall J.B. Cole-Hamilton CB, CBE.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

There were the usual patrols but no enemy aircraft activity occurred in the Sector during the night.  F/Off A.W. Henderson posted to 21 Sector for Signal duties w.e.f. 13-6-1944. 

 

11-7-1944    (D+35)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

There was originally reported to be enemy activity in the Sector but it afterwards transpired that one enemy aircraft apparently approached G.C.I. 15081 and dropped one bomb about half a mile from the site.

 

12-7-1944    (D+36)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

There was slight enemy activity during the night estimated at 3+ probably mine-laying about 20 miles East of Barfleur.  A fighter of 604 Squadron obtained a contact but lost it and no further  could be given by control on account of the concentration of ‘window’ in the area.  Captain Holloway and First Lt Gusten (US) Attached to 21 Sector for AA Liaison duties from 14 ADC.

 

13-7-1944    (D+37)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

There were no enemy aircraft plotted in the area but it is possible that there may have been two or three minelayers in the Sector.  A type 15 was set up S.E. of Jobourg.

 

14-7-1944   (D+38)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No enemy activity seen in the Sector.

 

15-7-1944    (D+39)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

There was no enemy activity in this Sector though a considerable amount could be seen to the East in the adjoining Sector with a fairly heavy concentration of ‘window’.

 

16-7-1944    (D+40)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Nothing of interest occurred during the day.  There was slight enemy activity estimated at three or four aircraft which entered the Sector but no interceptions were made.  A considerable amount of ‘window’ was observed in 24 Sector and there was a certain amount in this sector.

 

17-7-1944    (D+41)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Rather more activity was seen during the night than there had been for some time.  It was difficult to state the number as they were plotted as X-raids but the bulk of them proved friendly but one Ju188 was shot down by an aircraft of 604 Squadron when under the control of G.C.I. 15081.  A fighter of 410 Squadron had a combat but the result is not known due to R?T failure immediately after the combat.  The official number of raids was 10+ appearing singly.

 

18-7-1944    (D+42)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The AOC 85 Group visited the Sector arriving for lunch and stayed the night.  He first looked round Sector Headquarters and then accompanied by Gp Capt W.G. Moseby, paid a visit to G.C.I. 15072 during the afternoon and spent some time in the Sector Operations Room during the evening.  The night was quiet one only enemy aircraft being definitely plotted and this was damaged by an aircraft of 604 Squadron while under the control of G.C.I. 15081.  It is possible there may have been one or two more hostiles during the night which were plotted as X-raids and never identified.   C.O.L. 15074 moved to a new site at O.960287 which is S.E. of Jobourg.

 

19-7-1944    (D+43)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

There was considerably more activity during the night than there had been for some time.  At 22.45 hours 6+ enemy aircraft were seen by G.C.I. 15081 approaching from the south but in spite of the fact that a request had been made for fighters to be sent to the pool earlier there were none available.  Between 23.10 and 23.40 hours, G..C.I. 15082 reported enemy activity off the beaches estimated at 8-10 aircraft dropping fairly extensive ‘window’.  These were considered to be chiefly mine-laying.  At 23.50 hours G.C.I. 15082 reported ‘window’ being dropped by an aircraft going West towards Barfleur and shortly afterwards bombs were reported being dropped in the vicinity of G.C.I. 15072.

 

20-7-1944    (D+44)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The weather turned to rain about 1600 hours and continued to rain off and on most of the night.  There was no enemy activity at all during the night partly due to the weather conditions.

 

21-7-1944    (D+45)

9th Air Force Planning Document for “Overlord” 1st April 1944.

This is the date at which it was planned that the 21 Sector involvement would cease and hand over to the IX Air Defense Corps (ADC).

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Bad weather conditions continued and it rained hard most of the day with low cloud.  There was no enemy activity seen in the Sector during the night and only 4 fighters operated due to the weather being almost non-operational.  At 22.45 hours a low flying aircraft was reported North of this Headquarters and at 22.50 hours G.C.I. 15072 reported hearing a bomb drop but no damage has been reported.

 

22-7-1944    (D+46)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

A gradual improvement in the weather as the day went on and by nightfall conditions were reasonable and fighters flew uneventful patrols.  At approximately 02.45 hours, 4 enemy aircraft entered the Sector from the East where considerable enemy activity had been seen with extensive ‘window’.  The enemy aircraft had approached shipping from the direction of the Seine and mine-laying was suspected but no interceptions were made.

 

23-7-1944    (D+47)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Weather conditions had returned to normal and the normal patrols were flown.  There was rather more enemy activity during the night than there had been for some time.  At approximately 01.00 hours 10+ enemy aircraft entered the Sector from the East.  The aircraft appeared to be mine-laying over the battle front.  Extensive ‘window’ was used and no interceptions were made.  One fighter while under the control of G.C.I. 15081 should have had a contact as he was with an aircraft plotted as hostile for 20 minutes but at the end of this time he said his weapon was bent.

 

24-7-1944    (D+48)

85 (Base) Group Units Overseas (Includes Units in Transit).

(PRO Ref:- Air-738, No.85 Base Group, Appendices Organisation (Location Statement)

21 Base Defence Sector locations are shown as follows:-

Headquarters near Tocqueville (O.358254).

GCI’s and COL’s:-15072 GCI Type 25, (O.328295)., 15073 COL (O.2527)., 14038 AMES (O.2527), 15074 COL (N9527), 14037 AMES (N.9527), 15082 GCI (T.5493), 15083 COL (T.055933).

Mobile Signals Units:- 349MRU., 545K., 5132C., 5136F., 5140Q., 5141Q., 5142Q., 5158T., 5162T., 5215H., 5226J., 5227J., 5161T., 5292J., 5006H., 5131A., 5157T., 5164U., 5169U., 5228J., 5233P., 5317P., 5318P., 5283G. and 5247Q.

 

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

The issue of khaki battle dress for personnel of 85 (Base) Group on the Continent was approved by the Air Ministry.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The first detachment of 6 aircraft of 604 Squadron arrived at A.15 (Maupertus, now Cherbourg Airport, opened 4-7-1944, closed 22-12-1944.  Also the base of 422nd Night Fighter Squadron(P-61 Lightnings), 25th July to 28th August 1944) during the afternoon and had a state of readiness during the night out of which two went off on uneventful patrols.  The crews came to Headquarters, 21 Sector, for accommodation.  The night was another very quiet one, no enemy aircraft having been seen to enter the Sector.  There was ‘window’ seen in the extreme East of this Sector but it is extremely doubtful whether any hostile entered this area.

 

25-7-1944    (D+49)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

A quiet night with only one enemy aircraft seen to enter the Sector.  This enemy aircraft entered the Sector from the East, dropped ‘window’ and went straight out again.  Two fighters based at A.15 went on patrol.

 

26-7-1944    (D+50)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

A little more hostile activity was noticed during the night.  Very soon after it ot dark, at 22.40 hours,

3+ enemy aircraft approached from the South but no interceptions were made.  At 22.40 hours, 3+

enemy aircraft approached from the South but no interceptions were made.  At 23.30 hours a

single Ju88 suspected of mine-laying was intercepted by a fighter of 604 Squadron  (F/Off Truscott

and F/Off Howarth) under the control of G.C.I. 15072 (Ft/Lt Tasker) and was destroyed.  It is

possible there were a few isolated raids in Isigny Bay later in the night but it was impossible to

identify them.  Sector tried to home a Bomber Command Mosquito to Maupertus which had run

short of petrol due to going off course when his instruments became u/s from the effects of

lightning.  This aircraft however had insufficient petrol to make it, so the pilot ditched the aircraft

about 4 miles from land, 12 miles East of Cherbourg.  The pilot and navigator were both picked up

by the Navy with only minor cuts and bruises.

Flt/Lt Tasker;-  Controlling G.C.I. 15072. 

F/Off Hawarth                                     604 Squadron aircrew

F/Off Truscott                         604 Squadron aircrew.

 

27-7-1944    (D+51)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

A lone raider, a Ju88 was destroyed by a fighter of 604 Squadron (Ft/Lt Miller and W/O Catchpole) which was based at Maupertus; this was the first combat of night fighters based in France.  This aircraft was controlled by G.C.I. 15081 (Ft/Lt Smith).  A few other scattered raids intermingled with friendly bombers were observed in the Sector, but it was impossible to say how many.

 

Flt/Lt Smith;-  Controlling G.C.I. 15081. 

Flt/Lt Miller (Pilot?).and            604 Squadron aircrew                                  

WO Catchpole (Navigator?) -  604 Squadron aircrew

 

28-7-1944    (D+52)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

This marked a revival in the activity shown by the Hun.  At 22.40 hours 4+ enemy aircraft appeared from a south westerly direction and from this wave 2 Ju88’s were destroyed in T.24 and T.25 by ‘Derval’ 21 while under the control of G.C.I. 15081 (Sqn/Ldr Ross).  At approximately 22.40 hours the largest wave of enemy aircraft that had been seen for some time appeared from the East and operated over the battle area and the sea.  This wave was estimated at about 30+ out of which three were destroyed by fighters under the control of G.C.I. 15082.  ‘Dorval’ 23 claimed a Ju88 destroyed (Sqn/Ldr Trollope), Limestone 27 claimed a Ju88 destroyed (Ft/Lt Nodes) and Jungle 33 claims a Ju88 destroyed (Ft/Lt Wiseman).  At 05.00 hours hostile tracks appeared North of Isigny but owing to ‘window’ it was impossible to estimate the number of enemy aircraft.  Three fighters stationed at A.15 carried out uneventful patrols and Jungle 21 landed at A.15 due to engine trouble.

Sqn/Ldr F.J. Trollope;-  Controlling G.C.I. 15082

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman;-  Controlling (apparatus not identified).

Sqn/Ldr Ross;-  Controlling G.C.I. 15081.

Flt/Lt Nodes;-  Controlling.(G.C.I. 15082?)

 

29-7-1944    (D+53)

Siting of Radar Control and reporting Units – Responsibilities

(PRO Ref:- Air-728, No. 85 Base Group Air Staff, JunAug 44)

The above Letter from Headquarters, No.85 (Base) Group under reference 85G/S.3641/Rad, signed by Air Commodore H.M.Pearson for AOC, HQ, No. 85 (Base) Group. Gives the following instructions:-

  1. There appears to be certain conflicting opinions regarding the responsibility for siting No. 85 Group Radar Control and Reporting Units on the Continent.  In future, the following procedure will be adopted whenever a new site is to be chosen for one of these Units.
  2. Air Staff Headquarters, No 85 Group, will instruct the Commanding Officer of the Sector to which the Unit belongs of the need to install a unit on a new site and will also state the direction in which coverage is primarily required.
  3. The Signals Staff at Headquarters, No. 85 Group, in consultation with O.R.S. will give to the Sector concerned a list of theoretical sites in the area, which are expected to meet the conditions required by the Air Staff.
  4. The Commanding Officer of the Sector will arrange for a party to reconnoitre the proposed sites.  This party is to include a Radar Officer nominated by this Headquarters.  After reconnoitring the area, the Sector Commander will make his recommendations to this Headquarters.
  5. In making these recommendations, the Sector Commander will report on the suitability of the site which he proposed for selection taking into account the following factors:-
    1. The expected performance of the radar unit on the selected site.
    2. The suitability of the site from an administrative point of view (eg transport and accommodation).
    3. The landline communications which already exist or can be readily acquired.
  6. On receipt of the above report, which may be made by signal, the final decision will be made by this Headquarters.  In cases of emergency o where it is necessary to move to a new site at very short notice, a Sector Commander may set up a radar unit at a sit selected by himself.  Final approval for a site will, however, be given only by Headquarters, No. 85 Group.
  7. In the case of No. 85 Group Sectors operating in an American zone, the initial request for installing a radar unit at a new site will be made by the Commanding General, IXth A.D.C. to A.O.C. No. 85 Group.  This request will contain the details shown in paragraph 2 of this letter.  Thereafter, the procedure will be as already defined.
  8. For the present and until No.85 Group Headquarters is established on the Continent, the Air Staff Party attached to No. 24 Sector will represent this Headquarters, and will assume the authority mentioned in paragraph 2 above.  The Radar Officer to be nominated to accompany the reconnoitring party, in accordance with paragraph 4, will normally be Squadron Leader Radar 1 attached to 24 Sector.

 

Fighter Direction Tender – Plotting of Mines.

(PRO Ref:- Air 25-728, No. 85 Base Group Air Staff, Jun – Aug 44.

A letter from Headquarters, No 85 (Base) Group to AEAF, reference 85G/TS.20060/Air  also signed by Air Commodore H.M. Pearson on behalf of Air Vice Marshall, Air Officer Commanding, H.Q. No. 85 Group (Main). States:-

1  With reference to your letter AEAF/S.13146/Air dated 26th July 1944, it is agreed that an F.D.T would not be suitable for plotting the fall of mines.  The method outlined in your letter has been examined at this Headquarters, but before any action is taken, certain disadvantages which are inherent in this scheme are brought to your notice.

2  No. 15082 is an interception station which has had considerable success.  For example, last night, Night Fighters destroyed three enemy aircraft under control of this GCI.  The Type 13 station is the only means of height finding suitable for use in conditions of “Window”, and if this apparatus is to be employed on reporting of fall of mines, 15082 GCI will cease to exist as an interception unit.

3  There is no doubt that Type 13 Radar is capable of seeing mines dropped from aircraft.  In order to do this, however, one selected aircraft must be followed with the asicator of the P.P.I. tube of the affiliated Type 14 Station, so that its response in the Type 13 may be watched until a mine is dropped.  Enemy raids are concentrated in time, and it will only be possible to follow very few aircraft in this way.  The number of pin points of mines dropping which could be obtained, therefore, is hardly likely to be sufficient to justify the use of the Type 13 for this purpose while the rest of the GCI is rendered inoperative thereby.

4  With regard to paragraph 3 of your letter, it is pointed out that the following communications already exist and could be used for the purpose:-

a)  Direct landline communications between 15082 and 15083 GCI’s and thence to 24 Sector Operations Room.

b)  Direct V.H.F. R?T speech between 15082 GCI and 24 Sector Operations Room.

c)  Landlines and V.H.F. R/T from 15082 GCI to 21 Sector Operations Room.

d)  Two landlines and V.H.F. R/T between 21 Sector and 24 Sector, (one of these landlines was laid specially for Naval Liaison purposes).

5  It is strongly recommended that your instructions be reconsidered in the light of this letter; meanwhile no action will be taken until a further communication is received.  If Type 13 Stations are found to be the only means by which fall of mines can be accurately plotted, then it is recommended that additional ones should be provided at C.O.L.’s and Naval Type 14 Surface Reporting Stations in the Assault Area.  This would enable a large number of mines to be plotted, and the instruments could be devoted exclusively to this purpose without interfering with the Night Fighter operations.  Also, the communications direct to Naval Headquarters would be already in existence.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The Hun was again active during the night.  At 22.30 hours 5+ appeared from a Southerly direction but no interceptions were made.  There was then a long quiet period until 05.15 hours when a raid estimated at 25+ appeared and attacked the battle front S.E. of St Lo.  Dorvel 44 while under the control of G.C.I. 15081 (Sqn/Ldr Ross) claims 2 Ju88’s and 1 Do217 destroyed and 1 Ju88 probably destroyed.  Jungle 23 (P/Off MacKenzie) while under the control of G.C.I.  15082 (Ft/Lt Nodes) claims 1 Ju88 destroyed and as he was short of petrol landed at A.15.  Three fighters based at A.15 flew uneventful patrols.  Dorval 14 (Sqn/Ldr Bunting) while under G.C.I.  15082 was hit by enemy flak and crashed in T.8242 at 00.46 hours.

Sqn/Ldr Ross;-  Controlling G.C.I. 15081.

Flt/Lt Nodes;-  Controlling G.C.I.15082.

 

30-7-1944    (D+54)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

There was considerably less enemy activity during the night than there had been on the two previous nights.  The only enemy activity noticed in this Sector was at 01.00 hours when 5+ enemy aircraft were seen to operate over the battle area; out of these (Sqn/Ldr Maitland-Thompson) 604 Squadron claims 1 Ju88 destroyed while under the control of G.C.I. 15081 (Sqn/Ldr Ross) in T.46.  Three fighters based in France flew uneventful patrols.  Dorval 38 landed at A.15 at 22,43 hours with slight engine trouble and Tessa 23 and Nursemaid 29 landed at A.15 due to bad weather at base.

Sqn/Ldr Ross;-  Controlling G.C.I. 15081.

Sqn/Ldr Maitland-Thompson;-  604 Squadron aircrew.

 

31-7-1944    (D+55)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

A reduction in the scale of enemy activity probably due to the weather conditions.  After a very hot sunny day, fog started to rise just before dark and these conditions spread to the U.K.  At 23.50 hours 10+ enemy aircraft appeared from the South and operated mainly in the Cherbourg area and were reported to be dropping flares.  A Mosquito of410 Squadron( F/Off Maday and F/Off Walsh) claims a Ju88 destroyed while under the control of G.C.I. 15082 (Ft/Lt Nodes) at 00.01 Hours.  Between 00.30 hours and 01.00 hours a number of X-raids were plotted but none of these were actually identified as hostile.  At 01.00 hours al fighters were recalled as the weather in the UK was closing in fast.  Altogether 10 fighters operated but none of these were based in France.

Flt/Lt Nodes;-  Controlling G.C.I. 15082.

            F/Off Maday;-                         410 Squadron Mosquito aircrew

F/Off Walsh; -                         410 Squadron Mosquito aircrew.

 

AUGUST

 

1-8-1944      (D+56)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The Hun showed signs of becoming more active again probably partly due to s spell of bad weather in the UK and Northern France and the fact that he knew we should have difficulty in putting many fighters in the air.  Two waves came over of 10 and 15 respectively, the first wave operating in the Cherbourg area at about midnight and the second wave over the battle area ay 03.00 hours.  An aircraft of 488 Squadron (Ft/Lt Hall) while under the control of G.C.I. 15082 (Sqn/Ldr Trollope) destroyed a Ju88.  At 01.50 hours all fighters were recalled due to the weather deteriorating in the UK.  Another 9 fighters from the UK and 3 based at A.15 (604 Squadron) of which Ft/Lt Perry and F/Off Wall crashed on landing and were both killed.

Sqn/Ldr F.J. Trollope;-  Controlling G.C.I. 15082.

            Flt Lt Hall;-                   488 Squadron aircrew

            Flt/Lt Parry;-                604 Squadron aircrew crashed on landing – killed.

            F/Off Wall;-   604 Squadron aircrew crashed on landing – killed.

 

2-8-1944   (D+57)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Considerable enemy activity during the night and weather conditions even more in favour of the Hun than on the night before as his bases in Holland and Germany were reasonably clear while the UK and Northern France closed right in.  The first wave of enemy aircraft estimated at 20+ appeared from the South at 22.50 hours and out of this lot 2 fighters of 488 Squadron claim a Do217 destroyed (Sqn/Ldr Somerville) while under G.C.I. 15081 control (F/Off May) and Dorval 22 while under the control of G.C.I. 15082 (Sqn/Ldr Trollope)   The second wave of 12+ appeared at 0400 hours.  A fighter of 488 Squadron (W/O Maclay), while under the control of G.C.I. 15081 (F/Off May) claims a Ju188 and Ft/Lt Plumar, 410 Squadron, while under G.C.I. 15082 (Sqn/Ldr Trollope) also claims a Ju188.  Before this activity had ceased, fighters were recalled due to the weather closing in at base, but one fighter was sent off later but had no joy.  There were two further bits of activity of approximately 6 enemy aircraft operating over the battle area.  The Flight of 604 based at A.15 moved to A.8 (located at Picauville opened 26th June 1944, closed 15th September 1944). but nothing took off during the night owing to the weather.

 

Sqn/Ldr F.J. Trollope;- Controlling G.C.I.15082.

F/Off May;-  Controlling G.C.I.15081

            Sqn/Ldr Somerville;-  488 Squadron aircrew

            WO Maclay;-              488 Squadron aircrew.

 

3-8-1944      (D+58)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The night was fairly active mostly consisting of small raids of from 4 to 6 A/C which operated over the battle area.  The total estimate for the night was 28+, one raid just after midnight estimated at 10+.  One Mosquito (604 Squadron) based at A.8 (Ft/Lt Foster and F/Off Newton) claim one Do 217 destroyed while under G.C.I. 15081 (Sqn/Ldr Ross).  Ft/Lt Crossby (264 Squadron), W/O Patrick (488 Squadron) and Ft/Lt Jameson (488 Squadron) each claim one Ju88 destroyed and Ft/Lt Dinsdale (410 Squadron) claims one Me110 damaged all under the control of G.C.I. 15082 (Sqn/Ldr Trollope and Ft/Lt Nodes).  Ft/Lt Corbett, (219 Squadron) landed at A.8 uninjured after being with 24 Sector and shot up by a Stirling.  Ft/Lt Beverley and his operator after being in combat with a Ju88 under 24 Sector, baled out successfully on their way to A.8.  Both pilot and operator were uninjured.

This was the first night that ‘Black Widows’ of 422 Squadron based at A.5 (La Chapelle-en-Juger, opened 5th July 1944, closed 9th July 1944) operated under our control.  They had nine uneventful patrols.

 

Sqn/Ldr Ross;-  Controlling G.C.I. 15081.

Flt/Lt Nodes;-    Controlling G.C.I. 15082.

            Flt/Lt Beverley;-  Baled out after taking on a JU88 and landed uninjured.

            Flt/Lt Crosby;-             264 Squadron aircrew.

            Flt/Lt Dinsdale;-            410 Squadron aircrew.

            Flt/Lt Foster;-               604 Squadron Mosquito aircrew.

            F/Off Newton;-            604 Squadron Mosquito aircrew.

            Flt/Lt Jameson;-          488 Squadron aircrew.

            WO Patrick;-               488 Squadron aircrew.

 

4-8-1944      (D+59)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

There was a considerable decrease in the enemy effort compared with the previous nights.  The first wave of 3 enemy aircraft appeared at the extreme South of the Sector just after midnight and out of these, F/Off Dinsdale of 410 Squadron, claims one Feisler Storch destroyed while under the G.C.I. 15081 (F/Off May).  At 00.45 hours, the second wave of enemy aircraft appeared, estimated at ten, from the South East and out of these, F/Off Shaw of 488 Squadron, claims one Ju188 destroyed and one Ju88 damaged and Wg/Cdr Haine (488 Squadron) claims one Ju 88 destroyed, both under G.C.I. 15082 control (Ft/Lt Wiseman)  The third wave of three enemy aircraft operated S.E. of St Lo about ¾ of an hour later.  Night ‘Black Widows’ flew uneventful patrols. 

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman;-  Controlling GCI15082.

F/Off May;-  Controlling GCI15081.

            F/Off Dinsdale;-          Aircrew 410 Squadron

            Wg/Cdr Haine;-           Aircrew 488 Squadron.

            F/Off Shaw;-               Aircrew 488 Squadron.

Capt Hollway (US);-               Attachment ceased.

Capt Kay;-                               Attached from 42nd S/L Unit.

Capt Tamble (USAAC);-        Attached to 21BDS from 71st Fighter Wing.

 

5-8-1944    (D+60)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

G.C.I. 15081 moved to new site situated at T. 133327 and C.O.L. 15074 moved into 15081’s site atT.055933.  The activity during the night was again not very extensive, what there was, being in the St Malo area.  Ft/Lt Haddon and F/Off McIlvenny of 604 Squadron under G.C.I. 15081 (Sqn/Ldr Ross) claim one Ju188 destroyed.  Two Mosquitos of 488 Squadron, Dorval 21 & 27 claim one Do217 each while under G.C.I. 15081 (Sqn/Ldr Ross).  Eight ‘Black Widows’ flew uneventful patrols. 

C.O.L. 15074 moved the site vacated by G.C.I. 15081 (Barneville?).  G.C.I. 15081 moved to an unidentified site.

Sqn/Ldr Ross;-  Controlling GCI15081.

            Flt/Lt Haddon;-            Aircrew 604 Squadron.

            F/Off McIlvenny;-       Aircrew 604 Squadron.

 

6-8-1944    (D+61)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

There was a revival in the enemy activity and it turned out to be a pretty busy night.  G.C.I. 15082 plotted 20+ enemy aircraft in this area and due to communication difficulties, it was impossible to estimate the number of enemy aircraft in 15081’s area but there was considerable activity over the battle area.  Ft/Lt Surman and P/Off Weston claimed two Do217’s and one Me110 destroyed, F/Off Macdonald & F/Sgt Baird claim one Ju188 destroyed, Ft/Lt Hooper and F/Off Hubbard, all of 604 Squadron, under G.CI.. 15082 (Sqn/Ldr McGrath) claimed one Me410 damaged. But was hit himself and has not been heard of sinceWg/Cdr Hughes & Ft/Lt Dixon of 604 Squadron under G.C.I. 15081 (Sqn/Ldr Ross) claim one Ju88 destroyed.  A Mosquito of 410 Squadron, Sqn/Ldr Somerville under G.C.I. 15081 (F/Off May) claims one Ju88 destroyed.  Flt/Lt Jameson of 488 Squadron when under G.C.I. 15082 (Ft/Lt Wiseman) claims one Ju88 destroyed and another Mosquito of  488 Squadron claims one Ju 188 destroyed under G.C.I. 15081 (F/Off May).  A ‘Black Widow’ of 422 Squadron, Lt Axtell and F/Off Crew under G.C.I. 15074 (Ft/Lt Sharman) claims one Do217 probably destroyed.  Lt Garden and Lt Morrison in another ‘Black Widow’ claim a Ju188 as probably destroyed, as it dived through cloud when being chased and a terrific explosion was seen below although no guns were fired.

Sqn/Ldr McGrath;-                  Controlling G.C.I. 15082

Sqn/Ldr Ross;-                        Controlling G.C.I. 15081.

Flt/Lt Sharman;-                      Controlling C.O.L.  15074.

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman;-            Controlling G.C.I. 15082.  Returned to England.

F/Off May;-                             Controlling G.C.I. 15081.

            Lt Axtell;-                     Aircrew 488 Squadron (Black Widow).

            F/Off Crow;-               Aircrew 488 Squadron (Black Widow).

            Lt Garden;-                  Aircrew 488 Squadron (Black Widow).

            Flt/Lt Jameson;-          Aircrew 488 Squadron (Black Widow).

            Lt Morrison;-               Aircrew 488 Squadron (Black Widow).

            S/Sgt Baird;-              Aircrew 604 Squadron.

            F/Lt Dixon;-                 Aircrew 604 Squadron.

            Flt/Lt Hooper;-             Aircrew 604 Squadron.

            F/Off Hubbard;-          Aircrew 604 Squadron.

            Wg/Cdr Hughes;-        Aircrew 604 Squadron.

            F/Off Macdonald;-      Aircrew 604 Squadron.

            Flt/Lt Surman;-            Aircrew 604 Squadron.

            P/Off Weston;-            Aircrew 604 Squadron

 

7-8-1944      (D+62)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Another busy night.  F/Off Macdonald and Ft/Lt Elliott claim one Ju188 destroyed and F/Off Smith and F/Off Roberts both of 604 Squadron under G.C.I. 15081 (Sqn/Ldr Ross) claim two Do217’s destroyed.  Ft/Lt Cross and W/O Smith of 604 Squadron, under G.C.I. 15082 (Sqn/Ldr Trollope) claims one Ju188 and one Ju88 destroyed.  One ‘Black Widow’, 422 Squadron, (Lt Anderson and Lt Morris under G.C.I. 15082 (Sqn/Ldr Trollope) claim one Ju88 destroyed.  One ‘Black Widow’, 422 Squadron, Lt Smith and Lt Tierney under G.C.I. 15081 (Ft/Lt Smith) claim one Me110 damaged.  Jungle 19 under G.C.I. 15081 (Sqn/Ldr Ross) claim one unidentified.  The enemy activity was estimated at 20+ in the St Malo area and two waves of approximately 6+ over the battle area.

Sqn/Ldr Ross;-  Controlling G.C.I. 15081.

Sqn/Ldr F.J. Trollope;- Controlling G.C.I. 15082.

Flt/Lt Smith;- Controlling G.C.I. 15081.

            Lt Anderson;-              Aircrew 488 Squadron (Black Widow).

            Lt Morris;-                    Aircrew 488 Squadron (Black Widow).

            Lt Smith;-                    Aircrew 488 Squadron (Black Widow).

            Lt Tierney;-                  Aircrew 488 Squadron (Black Widow).

            Flt/Lt Cross;-               Aircrew 604 Squadron.

            Flt/Lt Elliott;-                Aircrew 604 Squadron.

            P/Off Roberts;-           Aircrew 604 Squadron.

            P/Off Smith;-              Aircrew 604 Squadron.

            WO Smith;-                 Aircrew 604 Squadron.

 

 

 

 

8-8-1944      (D+63)

No. 85 Group Operation Instructions.  Part II – Operation Instructions for Surface Control.

No.7  Surface Watching Control.

(Air 25-728, No. 85 Group Air Staff, Jun – Aug 44)

Information 

1. The responsibility for providing surface watching cover, is an Air Force commitment, vide, S.H.A.E/F. Operation Memorandum No. 31.  This responsibility has been delegated to No. 85 Group, R.A.F. in areas where Sectors of No. 85 Group are responsible for Air Defence and Air Raid Warning, and to the IXth Air Defence Command U.S.A.A.F. in areas defended by U.S. Air Forces.

Intention

2. To detail procedure for the siting and operation of Royal Air Force Radar Units used inn a surface watching role.  (This instruction covers all No. 85 Group Sectors whether deployed in the British or American Sectors).

Execution

Siting of Radar Units

3. The Radar Units in each Sector of 85 Group consist of three G.C.I.’s, made up of Types 11, 15 and 21, and two C.O.L.’s, made up of Types 11, 15, 14 Mark II (Naval Type 277) and one M.R.U.  The Type 14 Mark II equipment at C.O.L.’s  is most suitable for surface watching and will always be sited with a view to providing good surface watching coverage.

4.  Whenever a Type 14 Mark II Radar Unit is to be sited, the Air Officer Commanding No. 85 Group will be responsible for advising the Navy (through the Wing Officer in charge) whereupon the Navy will state whether they require to avail themselves of the surface watching facilities from that site.

5.  Whenever the British or the U.S. Navy have a special requirement for surface cover in an 85 Group Area an application will be made to the Air Officer Commanding No. 85 Group, who will examine the position with a view to re-siting a unit, or units, to provide the coverage required.

 

The Instruction goes on to lay down specifics relating to operation and co-operation.

 

Operational Directive – No. 21 Sector, R.A.F.

(Air 25-728, No. 85 Group Air Staff, Jun – Aug 44)

This letter from Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group to the Commanding General, IXth Air Defence Command (Advanced) and copied to O.C. No. 21 Sector under reference 85G/TS.20024/Air dated 8-8-1944 states as follows:-

1.  This Headquarters is in agreement with your Operational Directive, reference APO 632 U.S. Army, dated 26th July 1944.  There are, however, two points which you may consider should now be included therein.

2.  The Night Fighter Squadrons based at A-8 Airfield will hold frequencies which will enable them to work with both Nos. 21 and 24 Sectors.  Whereas these Squadrons are part of No. 21 Sector and come under your operational control, occasions may arise when rapid  reinforcements for 24 Sector are required.  Since No.24 Sector has no Night Fighter Squadrons based on the Continent, it is hoped that you will agree that such reinforcements be provided when they can be spared for the purpose.  Any request of this nature would be made from No. 24 Sector Operations Room direct to No.21 Sector Operations Room, and the aircraft be ordered off by the latter.

3.  Recently, the question of using Night Fighters farther south than the southern boundary line mentioned in paragraph 3 of your Directive has been discussed, and it is noted that Night Fighters operating under No. 21 Sector have already had successes in this area.  It is suggested that the regulations governing the use of Night Fighters in front line areas in the American Zone should be clearly defined in a Directive issued by your Headquarters when final dcisions in this matter have been taken.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The enemy activity was on a rather reduced scale.  There was one wave of 20+ that came in from the East about midnight and out of these, F/Off Wood and F/Off Leafe of 604 Squadron, while under the control of G.C.I. 15081 (Sqn/Ldr Ross) claim one Do217 destroyed.  A few enemy aircraft operated in the southern half of the Sector at approximately 02.30 hours and out of these, a ‘Black Widow’ of 422 Squadron, Lt Rurnens and Lt Maran, under G.C.I. 15082 (Flt/Lt Wiseman) claim one Ju88 destroyed.

Sqn/Ldr Ross;- Controlling G.C.I. 15081.

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman;- Controlling G.C.I. 15082.

Flt/Lt Twining;- Attached to C.O.L. 15074.

            Lt Maran;-                   Aircrew 422 Squadron (Black Widow).

            Lt Rurnans;-                Aircrew 422 Squadron (Black Widow).

            F/Off Leafe;-               Aircrew 604 Squadron.

            F/Off Wood;-               Aircrew 604 Squadron.

 

9-8-1944    (D+64)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

An Uneventful night with practically no enemy aircraft entering the Sector.

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman;- Returned to Normandy?.

 

10-8-1944    (D+65)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The first wave of enemy aircraft, about 6+, came into the Sector from the Eastern beaches at about 23.30 Hours and during this attack, F/Off Daber of 264 Squadron under G.C.I. 15072 (Flt/Lt Tasker) claims one Ju188 destroyed.  Wg/Cdr Hiltz, under the same controller also claimed a Ju88 destroyed.  There was no further activity until about 03.00 when a few isolated enemy aircraft appeared from the South a few miles East of Avranches.

Flt/Lt Tasker;-  Controlling GCI15074.

Wg/Cdr G.A. Hiltz (RCAF);-  Aircrew 410 Squadron.  Service Number Can C805.

F/Off Daber;-               Aircrew 264 Squadron.

 

11-8-1944    (D+66)

Allocation of Sectors and Wings to No.85 Group.  Policy.

(Air37-140, No.85 Group Base Defence Wings)

This letter from Headquarters, No. 85 (Base) Group to Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Air Force, reference 85G/S2001/2/Org, dated 11-8-1944mentions that a request for a fourth Base Defence Wing, needed to cover an ever expanding area of Air Defence responsibility, has been turned down.  (It is a lengthy explanation of the problems being faced in Air Defence, eg in paragraph 6 it states that one Sector of No.85 Group, with it’s limited facilities will be required to defend a coast 250 miles long to a depth of 40 miles and it graphically illustrates the headaches faced by commanders in carrying out their roles with what they clearly see as inadequate resources of manpower and/or materials/equipment that they are forced to confront Higher Authority with an appraisal of a situation which H.A would prefer did not come it’s way!).  Paragraph 4 of this letter gives details relating to Radar cover:-

  1. At Appendix ‘A’ is a map showing the area of territory for which I must endeavour to plan protection.  This map is reproduced from an Appendix to the Appreciation received under cover of letter AEAF/TS22556/Ops. Dated 29th July 1944.  On the map I have divided the Allkied occupied territory into five suggested Sector areas, three being allotted to 85 Group and two to IXth Air Defence Command.  Each of these areas will have in it the usual Sector Radar Installations, which consist of three GCI’s, two COL’s and one MRU.  These installations will be used for reporting and for interceptions within the area concerned.  The COL’s are specially sited for surface watching and low coverage along the sea coast, and will in most cases be complementary to a GCI Station and will not give any additional coverage.
  2. The letter is signed by Air Vice Marshall C.R. Steele, AOC-in-C, HQ No.85 Group.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

264 Squadron arrived at A.8 during the day and operated from there at night.  There was very little enemy activity during the night, but it is estimated that about five enemy aircraft made very scattered raids between 02.00 and 02.30.  Flt/Lt Miller and F/Off Catchpole claim a Do217 probably destroyed under G.C.I. 15082 (Flt/Lt Nodes).  Unfortunately he was involved in an accident when landing at A.8.  An aircraft of 264 Squadron (Flt/Lt Davison and F/Off Willmott, DFC) was engaged by flak and his R/T became u/s.  He came in to land at A.8, after making an unsuccessful attempt to land at A.15.  Flt/Lt Miller came down and not knowing he was there, owing to R/T silence, crashed into him.  F/Off Willmott DFC was killed and the other three members of the crews were slightly injured.  In view of the unserviceability of the runway after this accident, two aircraft of 604 Squadron landed at A.15 and one of 264 Squadron landed in the UK.

Flt/Lt Nodes;-  Operating G.C.I. 15082

F/Off Catchpole;- Aircrew – involved in accident when landing – Injured (F/Off Willmott killed)

Flt/Lt Miller;-  Aircrew – involved in accident when landing – Injured (F/Off Willmott killed)

Flt/Lt Davison;-            264 Squadron aircrew – involved in accident when landing – Injured (F/Off Willmott killed).

Flt/Lt Willmott DFC;-  264 Squadron aircrew – involved in accident when landing and killed.

 

12-8-1944    (D+67)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No enemy aircraft plotted in the Sector but considerable ‘window’ was seen East of Domfront, between 02.45 and 03.30 hours.  22 fighters patrolled uneventfully.

Flt/Lt McCarthy;-  Posted from 21 Sector to 85 Group.

 

13-8-1944    (D+68)

No. 85 Group Ground Control and Reporting Organisation in the Continent.

(Air 25-728, No. 85 Base Group Air Staff, Jun – Aug 44.

This lengthy letter from Headquarters No.85 (Base) Group to Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Air Force, reference 85G/S.606/Air dated 13th August 1944 is a major review of the organisation and layout of the Sector Operations Rooms and in part it emphasises the difficulties experienced by GCI’s and COL’s in reporting back to the Operations Room the movement of aircraft while at the same time being fully engaged in control and interception purposes.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Another quiet night with no enemy activity plotted but ‘window’ was laid west of Cotentan Peninsular.

Flt/Lt Fergusson;-  Posted in to 21Sector for Adjutant duties.

Lt Kelly;- Attached on temporary duties from AAAOD.

 

14-8-1944    (D+69)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The Hun was a little more active during the night and two waves were plotted, one of 12+ and the other of 6+.  Lt Gordon and Lt Marson of 422 Squadron, ‘Black Widows’, while under the control of G.C.I. 15072 (Lt Mills) had a combat with a Me177 which they claim as destroyed and were themselves hitF/Off Smith and F/Off Roberts, 604 Squadron in a Mosquito, had a visual on a Me410 dropping ’window’ but it peeled off in the flak and was lost before it could be engaged. 

F/Off G.F. Williamson;-  Re-posted for Signals duties from 84 Group. (He was one of the D-Day party who was wounded).

            Lt Gordon;-                  422 Squadron aircrew (Black Widows).

            Lt Marsan;-                  422 Squadron aircrew (Black Widows).

 

15-8-1944    (D+70)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

A quiet night with no enemy activity reported in the Sector. 

Capt O’Brian;-  Attached for temporary duty from 55th Brigade.

Capt Thomas;- Attached for temporary duty from 55th Brigade.

 

16-8-1944    (D+71)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Approximately 6 enemy aircraft entered the Sector from the East at 02.30 and were suspected of mine-laying.  Ft/Lt Corre and F/Off Bines of 264 Squadron in a Mosquito had a visual on an enemy aircraft and were unsuccessfully fired at but were themselves unable to open fire before overshooting and contact was lost.

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman;-  American M.E.W.  New American Radar?  Arrived?  Used M.E.W.

            F/Off Bines;-               264 Squadron aircrew (Mosquito).

            F/Off Corre;-               264 Squadron aircrew (Mosquito).

 

17-8-1944    (D+72)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Only very slight enemy activity in the Sector.  3 enemy aircraft entered the Sector from 24 Sector but no interceptions were made.  Weather closed in at A.15 and a ‘Black Widow’ diverted to Middle Wallop.

 

18-8-1944    (D+73)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Only one enemy aircraft was seen in the Sector and this a Do217 was shot down by a ‘Black Widow’ of 422 Squadron (Lt Kohler and Lt Test) while under G.C.I. 15082.

Lt Kohler;-                   422 Squadron aircrew (Black Widow).

Lt Test;-                       422 Squadron aircrew (Black Widow).

 

19-8-1944    (D+74)

Allocation of Sectors and Wings to No. 85 Group – Policy.

(Air 25-728, No. 85 Base Group Air Staff, Jun – Aug 44

This is another lengthy letter as a  follow up by Air Vice Marshall Steele to his letter dated 11th August 1944 (above) and the first paragraph will suffice to convey his feelings on the matter. 

I wish to draw attention to my letter 85G/S.2001/2/Org. dated 11th August 1944, on the above subject which I wrote to Headquarters, A.E.A.F. after I had been told that the number of operational Wings under my command was to be reduced from six to three, and that my previous request for the formation of a fourth Sector had been refused.  No reply has yet been received to the above-mentioned letter, but I have heard verbally that my remonstrations are unlikely to be successful.  I have, therefore, decided to put the whole matter to you in writing so that you will be in a position to assess the forces which are required for base defence and to see that these are forthcoming.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

A quiet night and no enemy aircraft were plotted in the Sector.  One aircraft was diverted to A.15 on account of the bad weather conditions at A.8. 

 

20-8-1944    (D+75)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Slight enemy activity was observed during the night.  Two small waves of approximately six enemy aircraft in each entered the Sector.  The first wave operated North of the beaches and the second one , the battle front, but although there were several contacts, no combats were reported.  The first sortie was made by a Walrus of 276 Squadron detached Flight, A/S/R  (Air Sea Rescue) stationed at A.23C (Location Querquerville, opened 6th July 1944, closed 8th August 1945).  The Walrus went in search of a F.47 reported in the sea but only found wreckage of a vessel thought to be the same size as a H.S.L. (High Speed Launch?).

 

21-8-1944    (D+76)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

It rained for practically the whole of the 24 hours with such low cloud, this was the first occasion since D-Day when no fighters at all either from France or based in the UK went on patrol.  The squadrons based in France had their state reduced to one at readiness and the rest at sixty minutes from the time they came to readiness.

 

22-8-1944    (D+77)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

A very quiet night with no enemy activity seen in the Sector.  The weather in the UK completely closed in and no fighters from that side operated, 24 Sector had to be reinforced from here.  In the course of the night the weather also closed in, in France so that there was no flying at all during the latter part of the night.

 

23-8-1944    (D+78)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Another quiet night with no enemy aircraft entering the Sector.  G.C.I. 15082 were non-operational as they were packing up ready to leave at dawn

 

24-8-1944    (D+79)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

G.C.I. 15082 moved at dawn to a new site at Auteuil Racecourse but were not operational that night.    There was (sic) no enemy aircraft seen to enter the Sector during the night.  One Walrus of 276 Squadron went on A/S/R patrol but saw nothing.  C.O.L. 15073 moved to15082’s old site.  (unknown but shown as T.5493).

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman;-  Left Grandcamps – arrived 10 miles west of Alencon.

F/Sgt F.M. Adair;-  Speaks of ‘eventually to enter the suburbs of Paris ahead of the liberating forces.  In later notes F/Sgt Adair states “…one of the most exciting but also tense times was when they were in Paris because they were quite close to the Germans and he wonders whether they should have been quite as close to the front line as they actually were.  To illustrate this;  whilst they were setting up at the Longchamp Horse Racing Track they had to destroy their orders as it was feared the Germans were about to counter-attack as they were still very close by”.  As an aside to the above, F/Sgt Muir Adair stated that when they did get an order they had little to do because there was very little or no enemy aircraft activity and it was not long before they moved on from Paris.

 

25-8-1944   (D+80)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No enemy aircraft were plotted as entering the Sector during the night but a ‘Black Widow’ of 422 Squadron, under C.O.L. 15073 control, claims a Ju188 as probably destroyed but this is thought to be a Mosquito of 488 Squadron which was fired on at the same position and time as alleged combat with the Ju188 took place.  The Mosquito was hit but managed to land safely at it’s base in the UK.  A fighter of 604 Squadron managed to contact G.C.I. 15082 at their new site at Auteuil and did a patrol with them.  Two Walrus aircraft of 276 Squadron did an A/S/R patrol in search of a Marauder crew nut nothing was seen.

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman;-  Arrived 10 miles short of Versailles.

Cpl W.E. Adderley;-  With Free French at Longchamps Racecourse.  2798 Rifle Squadron protecting RAF radar sites also secured Longchamps (poss landing site).

Cpl Bill Firby:-  Bill told of the story when they arrived in Paris, they were actually (in some cases) the first troops in and were also the first RAF personnel. They were ordered to go to Longchamps where the Germans had set up a Radar station and see if this would be a suitable site for 15082 to set up. They went to the site of the Racecourse and found much of the German equipment still intact. They had a bunker and Bill went searching in the bunker to find some tools. Bill had lost all of his tools when the lorries were lost at D-Day including some of his own tools that he had brought over from Canada. He had been scavenging tools ever since and saw the opportunity of getting some quality German tools. Just as he was about to pick them up, a GI who was also there shouted out to Bill not to touch them. Bill asked “why?”. And was told that they were probably booby trapped. And they were. The tools had been wired to detonators and would have exploded if Bill had picked them up.  The site was not a good one and they did not set up there but at a place called Morangis, on the outskirts of Paris. They had a wonderful reception when they entered Paris with lots of drink and kissing from the French. It was wild and also dangerous as the Free French were also after revenge with any collaborators. They did have time off and Bill remembers having a pass that allowed him a day and evening in Paris. He had a lot to drink but was sure that he got back to the pick-up point by the right time. However, there was no truck. So Bill went back and continued to drink, sleeping rough. When he did get back, (Sqn/Ldr) Trollope had him up on an AWOL charge and he was in deep trouble. This was not the first time Bill was on a charge. He was a firebrand and commented that the only time he seemed to see Officers was either on a charge or requesting leave. However, (F/Sgt Muir Adair) Muir arranged for him to be quickly transferred away to another G.C.I. unit and he was whisked away in a jeep, not knowing where he would end up. In the event, he had been transferred to G.C.I. 15081, who were with 15119 G.C.I. stationed on the Belgian border. He stayed with 15081 until the end of the war.

 

26-8-1944    (D+81)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The weather kept closing in at intervals during the night and only eight patrols were flown. 

G.C.I. 15082 moved again, this time to the Racecourse at Longchamps, Paris.

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman;-  Arrived Auteuil – to Longchamps (Racecourse?) by 12.00.

 

27-8-1944    (D+82)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Two Mosquitos, one of 604 Squadron and the other of 264 Squadron, flew A/S/R near Les Sept Isles in the morning.  There was no enemy activity plotted at night.  Thirteen uneventful patrols in the Avranches and Paris areas were flown by 604 and 264 Squadrons.  One aircraft had contact on an aircraft in the Paris area which was too fast for his and may have been hostile.

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman;-  Left Longchamp for (Misson? Undecipherable)

 

28-8-1944    (D+83)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Another quiet night during which no enemy aircraft were plotted in the Sector.  Fourteen aircraft of 604 and 264 Squadrons flew uneventful patrols in the Paris and Avranches areas.  Ft/Lt Sandeman and F/Off Coates (604 Squadron) reported possible contact in Paris area at 23.05 but his R/T then ceased. 

F/Off Coates;-             604 Squadron aircrew (Mosquito). Shot down and killed.

Flt/Lt  Sandeman;-      604 Squadron aircrew (Mosquito).  Shot down but landed safely (by parachute?).

 

29-8-1944   (D+84)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

 (re the above)The next that was heard of the aircraft was a report that the pilot had baled out and was safe.  He was on patrol in the Paris area under G.C.I. 15082 and had a combat in the course of which they were shot down.  Flt/Lt Sandeman was thrown out and landed safely but F/Off Coates was killed.

No enemy aircraft were seen to enter the Sector but a number of fires were seen in the Paris area.  There were only two patrols during the night due to the weather conditions and both these aircraft had to land at B.17.

Wg/Cdr O.A. Guggenheim;-  Attached to 2798 RAFR Squadron (2798 RAF Regiment Rifle Squadron?).

 

30-8-1944    (D+85)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Again no enemy aircraft seen to enter the Sector and it out to be a very quiet night.  No aircraft were able to operate from A.8 due to the runway being unserviceable and nothing being able to take off.  This was due to something being done to the runway and the equipment doing it breaking down and leaving it in an unserviceable state.  There were only four patrols in the Sector during the night, two aircraft based in 24 Sector and two from the United Kingdom.

 

31-8-1944    (D+86)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No enemy aircraft again entered the Sector during the night and a searchlight exercise was carried out.

 

SEPTEMBER

 

1-9-1944      (D+87)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Only one patrol was flown during the night and that was an unsuccessful attempt to contact G.C.I.  15082.  There was no enemy aircraft seen to enter the Sector.

Sqn/Ldr Lovell;- Posted to 21 Sector from Middle Wallop for Controller duties.

 

2-9-1944      (D+88)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

An extremely quiet night.  Due to the runway at A.8 being unserviceable, no fighters were able to take off but no enemy aircraft were plotted in the Sector.

 

3-9-1944      (D+89)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Another quiet night with no enemy aircraft entering the Sector.  The runway at A.8 was still unserviceable but three Mosquitos of 264 Squadron operating from B.17 (location Caen) patrolled the Cherbourg area.  A Walrus of 276 Squadron went on an uneventful A/S/R patrol during th day to search for the crew of  (Flying) Fortress but none was seen.

Capt Wakelin;- Attachment to 21 Sector ceased.

Capt D.H. Straw (RM);-  Attached to 21 Sector.

Lt H.M. Denny;-  Attached to 21 Sector.

 

 

4-9-1944      (D+90)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No fighters based in the Sector were able to operate due to the unserviceability of the runway at A.8 but one aircraft from 24 Sector and six from the United Kingdom reinforced the Sector but there was no enemy activity.  The weather was bad with hard showers at intervals all day and night.

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman;- Moved to L’Ecole de Mangans

 

5-9-1944      (D+91)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No fighters based in the Sector operated due to the runway at A.8 still being unserviceable but six aircraft from B.17 and one from the UK reinforced the Sector; there was no enemy activity.

 

6-9-1944      (D+92)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The weather was again very bad with intermittent showers most of the day and night.  Two aircraft from B.17 reinforced the Sector but there was no enemy activity.

 

7-9-1944      (D+93)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The weather still continued to be vary bad throughout the day and night.  A.8 was still non operational and three aircraft flew weather tests but found the weather unsuitable.  One aircraft was scrambled from B.17 to investigate an X-raid which was later identified as a friendly.

 

8-9-1944      (D+94)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Showery weather continued with very heavy, intermittent showers.  No aircraft were yet able to operate from the Sector due to the unserviceability of the airfield.  Six aircraft carried out uneventful patrols in the Sector operating from B.17(Caen) .  There was no enemy activity in the Sector.

 

9-9-1944      (D+95)

Medical History of War

No. 21 Base fence Sector.

(Air 49-88, No.85 Base Group, Medical History)

(1). Operational purpose of Unit.  Defence against night bombing of base during invasion of continent.  Threat from Luftwaffe has been considerably less than was expected.  Threat diminishes with the passing of each day and with the withdrawal of the German forces from France.

Unit is subdivided into:

(1). Sector Headquarters. 42. Officers.  260.  O.R.

(2). Five G.C.I. units, averaging 5 Officers. 80. O.R.

(3). Many small signal units.  Ranging from 4 to 20 personnel on each unit.

(4). I.M.R.U. 2. Officers. 30. O.R.

(5). I.M.S.S.U.  4. Officers. 35. O.R.

(6). 1. Company of Air Formation Signals attached to Sector H.Q. 9. Officers. 249. O.R.

The composition of the Sector is constantly changing and small units move with great frequency and are therefore difficult to keep under medical supervision.  When first posted to this Sector the arrangements of units is almost too difficult to visualise.  Quite unlike any other branch of the R.A.F.

 

(2). Sector was formed at Church Fenton Yorkshire in January 1944.

Many of the constituent units had been formed since the previous year and were experienced in camp life under canvas.  There was only one move in England before the overseas move.  This was to Sopley near Christchurch in 1944.  The movement to France was done in three main bodies.

(i).  One G.C.I. and attached bodies (Total. 190 Officers and O.R’s) landed on D-Day.  This unit wounded and killed.  (Killed. 11. Wounded. 33.)  The loss in technical vehicles was even heavier and as a result this unit was unable to carry out the job it had been landed for.

(ii). Further units landed on D+12 and had an uneventful landing except for a wetting due to inefficient landing craft command.

(iii). Sector Headquarters landed on about D+20.

Conditions in France.  Sector H.Q. living in Chateau (officers) and tents (men).  These were left by Germans who had headquarters in chateau.  Other units under canvas.  Widely dispersed from Sector H.Q. (2 to 100 miles).  Tendency for units to get further away from Sector H.Q.

Very hard to keep contact.

 

(3). Medical problems caused by preceding paragraphs

A Medical Officer was considered necessary for this unwieldy unit at the eleventh hour.  (Previously the sick had been taken daily to the nearest R.A.F. Station.)  After two years as a Squadron Medical Officer, a job that does not give one a command of paper work and organisation, it was my lot to be chosen for this task.  I arrived at the unit, then at Sopley, near Christchurch on May 23rd 1944.  It is hard to be dispassionate about the conditions one found, especially since one was told a move into “concentration” was expected daily.  Briefly the facts were as follows:

Equipment.  Medical panniers were still in Equipment Section together with rest of Z.I. equipment.

Ambulance. Arrived on May 24th.  Unserviceable for 24 hours because of sign painting and removal of grease from body work.

Tentage. Hospital was being used by Headquarters as office tent.  This was only discovered after four days, and then by chance.  It was not considered worth while using this tent because of daily expectation of moving.  Small tents had not arrived.

One was borrowed for immediate use.

Having had no experience of tent conditions and life in the field, conditions were very hard for making decisions.  The time given seemed to be so very short.  The main problem was vaccination and inoculation of the many scattered units.  The state of inoculation was very much below average, and Typhus vaccination was needed by every man in the Sector.  I had very considerable difficulty in collecting enough material for this, since R.A.F. Hurn had no supplies and the Mobile Field Hospital had short supplies.  All the material that was collected was injected, and after a week of incessant inoculations the state of the unit was satisfactory.  I was not able to complete all the inoculations because on June 2nd I was suddenly removed and put in the advance party which embarked that evening.

Another problem that had to be met was the non-existence of medicines, forms and paraphernalia necessary for the running of the smallest Sick Quarters.  This had to be collected by the “scrounging” method from the nearest R.A.F. unit.

Since my time was fully occupied by other more vital matters, I did not manage to collect many mixtures and minor requisites.  I am convinced that a more efficient method of obtaining the minimum supplies necessary for a Sick Quarters could be evolved.  A small cabinet containing the basic mixtures, forms and stationery would meet the case and is the method used by the U.S. Army in the field.  The day of the Boy Scout camping atmosphere has surely passed.  The contrast between the U.S. Field Dispensary and the R.A.F. Sick Quarters in the field is, to say the least, illuminating.

I have been informed that it is “uneconomical” to supply each unit with these mixtures, but since they have to be collected in the long run I cannot see the validity of this argument.  It would be a saving in transport, medical officers’ time, and a good deal of anxiety.  I have discussed this at some length because in an already difficult position it was a great source of annoyance and time-wasting.

 

(4). Sick Quarters Layout.

No experience of tented sick quarters in this unit.  Unit had taken over chateau at Torqueville by the time medical equipment arrived at end of June 1944.

German Sick Quarters taken over.  In a very confused state when first seen, Sick Quarters consists of:-

(1). M.I. Room. Well lit.  Concrete floor.  Roomy.  Only disadvantage is lack of drainage and water.  Water collected in 5 gallon drums from bowser.  Soakage pit outside Sick Quarters for water disposal.  Laborious but satisfactory.

(2). Ward. Similar to M.I. Room.  Well lit.  Ample room for four beds and can hold six beds.  Corner behind screen used for Sergeant’s office.  Provision for heating in winter by stove.

(3). M.O’s Office. Lies between M.I. Room and Ward.  Very satisfactory.

All rooms have electric light.  Radiant heat cradles left by  Germans are used daily.  Glass cabinets for instruments and medicines also procured from German sources.  The Sick Quarters as a whole compare favourably with those in Britain.  Ideal for this unit.  There is a bucket latrine in a small shed behind the main buildings.

 

(5). Medical arrangements.

The units within five miles of Sector Headquarters bring their sick in daily for 8.30 sick parade.  (Average number on parade all told is ten).  The outlying units have arrangements with American units for sick parades.  This works well and there have been no complications.

Dental treatment in all cases is obtained from American Dental Officers.  The nearest unit to Sector Headquarters is seven miles away.  Service has always been exceptionally good.

Hospital arrangements

298th General Hospital in Cherbourg (17 miles away) provides an adequate service.  Any cases that are likely to be in for more than 10 days are evacuated to U.K.  This is a complication that cannot be avoided.  So far we haven’t had more than half a dozen cases evacuated in this manner.

Transport to hospital is provided, if possible and if the case is suitable, by jeep.  The Fordson ambulance rides very badly on the uneven roads and is a very real ordeal for even a fit man.  It is absolutely unsuited for service in this part of the world, and is only used when conditions forbid the use of the Jeep.  The only advantage it has over the Jeep is that it is weather-proof.

 

(6).  Equipment.

The equipment provided for a mobile sick quarters would have seemed adequate in World War No. 1, but in this war it leaves a great deal to be desired.  Having seen at the same time the American equipment, and having had to work with both, one has the impression that the American stores have been carefully thought out to meet certain definite conditions, whilst the British have been collected piecemeal with no definite plan.  The Z.1. equipment, when analysed, contains bandages, cotton wool and gauze for innumerable wounds and fractures and beyond that it has only a few bottles of tablets.  The conditions that one meets in this part of the world call for medical stores rather than surgical.  (The provision of a dental case for instance is a sheer waste of metal.  The average Medical Officer has never used a dental instrument.)

Improvement could be made by supplying in the pannier now filled with bandages and splints:

(1). Quart bottles of necessary mixtures e.g. Mist Expect in concentrated form. Mist Magnesium Trisil. Mist Kaolin Sed. Linctus Codeine

(2). Ointments. Zinc Oxide. Benzyl Benzoate. – (No provision for scabies treatment in a field  unit). Sulphadiazine. Whitfields. Hydrarg Oxy.Flav.

(3). Agyrol 20% in drip bottle. Chromic acid 5% (Gingivitis very common and easily spread under field conditions) Hydrogen Peroxide Methyl Salicylate linament. Vaseline gauze for burns – common injury with petrol stoves and dry cleaning. Tubonic ampoules. Small number of sterile tubes for pathological fluids.

(4). Sulphadiazine tablets. Insufflator for sulphonamide powder.

These items would not take up a great deal of room and yet would give the Medical Officer a chance of treating most of the common diseases met in the field.

Some provision should be made for office equipment.  Forms necessary in the field should be available.  A typewriter is indispensable.  At the moment Sick Quarters depend entirely on the goodwill of the Orderly Room for envelopes and stationery.  Group policy letters were not held by unit and so one was very much in the dark about higher policy.

 

(7). Incidence of illness of particular interest.  -  Epidemic. Gastro-Enteritis.

(1). In common with all units in this theatre of war this unit has had a large number of cases.  Most cases conform to the 24 hour pattern with acute diarrhoea during that period.  Blood in stools has been seen in a minority of cases.  It is unusual for the diarrhoea to last more than 72 hours.  The number of people reporting sick is not an index of the numbers affected.  There can be few personnel who have avoided this trial.  Culture of a few cases has failed to produce an organism.  There is little doubt however, that this is a mild form of dysentery carried by the many flies in this area.  Anti-fly precautions are taken in the form of keeping all food not in use under cover.

(2). Injuries from anti-personnel mines and other enemy material.

The danger from mines still persists and there have been a number of accidents.  Fatal accidents have been rare fortunately.  The injuries are usually a matter of many small particles being driven into the skin.

(3). Burns

There have been a number of petrol burns of the arms and chest owing to  personnel using insufficient care with petrol burners for cooking and heating water.  Treatment has varied according to the drugs available.  The most satisfactory method I consider to be the combination of sulphanilamide powder and Vaseline gauze.  Gentian Violet was unavoidably used on one occasion and was very unsatisfactory.  Sepsis occurred under the coagulium.

(4). Epidemic.  Skin Diseases

Contrary to expectation the incidence of pediculosis and scabies has been very low.  Only half a dozen cases have been discovered in the whole sector.  Benzyl Benzoate is used for the scabies.  The U.S. Army insecticide powder proves efficient in the pediculosis cases.

There have been a large number of insect bites caused by an unknown insect.  Mosquitoes have been suspected, but are definitely not the main source.  Practically all personnel have had bites on the legs and abdomen.  The insecticide powder mentioned above appears to give some protection.

 

 

(8). Messing and Rations.

The U.S. Army food supplied to this unit is excellent and is very much more popular than the English counterpart.  The abundance of fruit juices and canned fruit is a very strong point.  There are practically no complaints about the cooking.  The only difficulty has been in washing the eating utensils after meals.  There is no provision of adequate water containers for the necessary hot water.  One unit has managed to obtain the American type of hub with immersion heater and has benefited accordingly.  Utensils are then able to be kept clean easily since the water can be kept boiling, and there is a good volume of water.

 

(9). Entertainments and Comforts.

The Sector Headquarters have had a small theatre since coming to Tocqueville left behind by the Germans.  Outlying units send parties in each day for a cinema.  The show is changed thrice weekly.  Films are obtained from the British Sector and are about up to average standard of service films.  (A great opportunity is missed in the services here – good films could become part of the life of the average man in the street instead of the “Boy meets Girl in glorious Technicolor” type.)

Stage shows have been provided by the men themselves.  During our stay in France we have seen one U.S. show here – a swing band.

It would have been thought that discussion groups and talks would have had an appeal for people cut off from the usual pursuits, but the usual apathy of the Serviceman has not changed and there has been little of this nature over here.  Again an opportunity is being missed – an Education officer is vitally necessary on a unit of this nature.

Up to the present cigarettes have been supplied free (140/week from the American “P.X” together with chocolate and toilet requisites.  The N.A.A.F.I. ration has seemed a little meagre compared with this.  Beer has been provided by the N.A.A.F.I. at a price that does not make it popular with the troops.

Mail on the whole has come through very well and complaints have been the exception.  For the party that landed on “D-Day” the first mail came on June 24th – an entirely unnecessary delay due to muddling by the Sector Headquarters in England.  This long delay was resented by this party and was the cause of much worry about relations in the Flying Bomb early days.  The non-arrival of mail is a very likely cause for lowered morale and should be avoided whenever possible.

 

 

(10). Morale.

The first thing that struck me when I arrived at this unit on May 23rd 1944 was the extraordinary feeling of frustration and confusion throughout the unit.  It didn’t seem possible that such an unprepared body of men could be going into the greatest expedition in this war within a matter of days.  Every seemed to have been left to the last moment – tents, transport, clothing etc.  The unit reached France and has gradually settled down, but still there remains that unusual, atmosphere, which is usually expressed by “This is 21 Sector, what can you expect?”

The diagnosis of this malady is not very difficult to arrive at, but the treatment, being of a radical nature, is beyond the scope of this communication.

 

(11). Hygiene and Sanitation.

The most usual form of sanitation is by the bucket latrine, the contents of which are buried each day.  Otway pits are in use in a number of units.

The main problem here is the disposal of waste water, since the subsoil is clay and is therefore non-permeable.  The solution has been to dig numerous soakage pits.  Water has not been a problem.  There is usually an American water point within easy distance of each dispersed unit.  The Sector Headquarters water comes from an Artesian well and is chlorinated locally.  There is apparently no water shortage in this part of France.

The flies have constituted a problem and have been combated by keeping foodstuffs in safes and fly-proof boxes.  Mosquitoes were numerous in July, but have decreased in numbers recently.  There have been no cases of Malaria in this unit.

The sanitary arrangements in this field depend very much on the carpenting (carpentry?) skill of the airmen in the unit.  There is a large variation in the ingenuity shown.  A professional carpenter in each G.C.I. unit would be a very useful addition to the personnel and would ensure that adequate accommodation was made at each site 

(12). Liaison with Americans.

The Americans authorities have been most helpful in the way of giving us stores and medical aid.  It was regrettable that my first contact with the U.S. forces we were to work with came after the landing on D-Day.  Liaison beforehand would have been very valuable.  Being single handed and unconnected with any other Medical Officer in the landing I did not know what to expect on the beach in the way of aid posts and casualty clearing stations.  (As it happened it didn’t matter since on that particular beach there were not any in action,)  It has been a very interesting and instructive experience to work with the American forces for two and a half months, and has made up for the late and unsatisfactory start as Medical Officer to this unit.

Signed:-  R. Rycroft. F/Lt.

Main Headquarters, No. 85 Group, Location Statement No. 5/44 (Overseas)

(Air 25-739, No. 85 Base Group, Appendices (Admin & Org), Aug-Oct 44)

Main HQ                                 St. Croix Grande Tonne. (T.898747).

Rear HQ.                                RAF Uxbridge.

21 Base Defence Sector.

            15081 GCI                  Vrasville (O.316294)

            15082 GCI                  Morangis, nr Paris.  (S.039271).

            15072 GCI                  Renonville. (O.313293).

            15073 COL.                Grandecamps les Baines.  (T.59993).

            15074 COL.                Barnaville. (T.055933).

            6342 L.W.S.                Tocqueville. (O.353252).

            349 MRU.                   Clitourps. (O.320233).

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No enemy activity in the Sector during the night.  Eight fighters of 604 Squadron based at B.17 flew uneventful patrols in the Cherbourg area. During the day,  604 Squadron moved from A.8 to B.17.  G.C.I. 15081 moved from Granville (T133327) to O-313293 (actual location not given).  Two Walrus of 276 Squadron A/S/R patrolled to take off wounded from a destroyer but found it impossible to lad due to the rough sea.

 

10-9-1944    (D+96)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

There was no enemy activity in the area during the night.  Eight fighters operated from B.17 and flew uneventful patrols in the Cherbourg area.  One Walrus of 276 Squadron carried out one A/S/R patrol in search of possible Minelayers or U-Boats near Sark.  Only five small fishing boats seen.  GCI15072 moved to Granville (T-133327).

 

11-9-1944    (D+97

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No enemy activity reported in the area.  Eight fighters of 604 Squadron flew uneventful patrols in the Cherbourg area from B.17.  G.C.I. 15072 moved back from Granville to O-313293.

 

 

12-9-1944    (D+98)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

No enemy activity in the area.  Seven aircraft of 604 Squadron based at B.17 flew uneventful patrols in the Cherbourg area.  G.C.I. 15081 moved from O-313293 to ‘an unknown destination in Holland’.

 

13-9-1944    (D+99)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The weather closed in  during the night and only two aircraft went on patrol in the Sector.  There was no enemy activity.    During the afternoon a Walrus of 276 Squadron took off on A/S/R patrol in search of a barge with ten men in it but saw nothing.

 

14-9-1944    (D+100)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The weather closed in during the early part of the night and only two uneventful patrols were flown in the Cherbourg area by aircraft based at B.17.  A third aircraft was airborne but returned to base with R/T trouble.  There was no enemy activity during the night.  A Walrus of 276 Squadron was ordered off on a A/S/R patrol by Sector as one of the D/F stations thought they heard a ‘Mayday’ given on a bearing of 3200 from A.15.  A search was made but nothing was seen.

 

15-9-1944    (D+101)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

There was no enemy activity in the area during the night.  Seven fighters based at B.17 flew uneventful patrols in the Cherbourg area. 

 

16-9-1944    (D+102)

Main Headquarters, No. 85 Group, Location Statement No. 6/44 (Overseas)

(Air 25-739, No. 85 Base Group, Appendices (Admin & Org), Aug-Oct 44)

Main HQ                                 St. Croix Grande Tonne. (T.898747).

21 Base Defence Sector.

            15081 GCI                  Vrasville (O.316294)

            15082 GCI                  Morangis, nr Paris.  (S.039271).

            15072 GCI                  Renonville. (O.313293).

            15073 COL.                Granville.  (T.150320).

            15074 COL.                Barnaville. (T.055933).

            349 MRU.                   Clitourps. (O.320233).

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

There was again no enemy activity in the area during the night.  Seven fighters patrolled the Cherbourg area uneventfully.  The first two fighters were late in taking off due to a Marauder crashing on the runway and hence the runway was unserviceable.

 

17-9-1944    (D+103)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

At 09.00 hrs a Church Parade was held for all officers and airmen not on duty, in celebration of the anniversary of the “Battle of Britain” Sunday.  The service was held in front of the Chateau.  There was no enemy activity in the area during the night and only three fighters went on patrol during the night as the weather closed in.  One Walrus of 276 Squadron was ordered of on an A/S/R patrol to investigate a position where a yellow flashing light had been reported but nothing was seen.

 

18-9-1944    (D+104)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

There was no enemy activity during the night and the standing patrols had been cancelled so there was no flying during the night.  One Walrus of 276 Squadron was ordered off during the morning on a A/S/R patrol to search for a Marauder reported in the sea but nothing was seen.

 

19-9-1944    (D+105)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

There was no enemy activity during the night and no fighters went on patrol in this area.

 

20-9-1944    (D+106)

HQ 85 Group Operations Record Book:-

Minutes of a meeting held at Headquarters 85 Group on 20th September 1944 at 14.00 hours to Discuss the Details of the Return of 21 Sector to the UK.

Present:-         A.V.M. C.R. Steele, C.E. D.F.C.                    AOC.

                        A/Cdr H.M. Pearson, CBE                             SASO.

                        A/Cdr D.W. Lane.                                           AOA.

                        G/Capt F.J. Taylor, CBE.                               D/AOA.

                        G/Capt C.M. Stewart.                                     CSO.

Wg/Cdr H.V. Campbell, OBE                         SPSO.

Sqn/Ldr J. Baines.                                          S/L Movements.

G/Capt W.G. Moseby, DSO, DFC.                OC 21 Sector.

  1. The AOC stated that 21 Sector was to be returned to theUKand that to economise in shipping space, certain items of equipment would be retained in (sic) the Continent.  It was epxplained that 21 Sector will be in a position to obtain replacements for such equipment when they are back in theUKif they are called upon to return as a Base Defence Sector.  The following decisions were taken at the Conference and at subsequent discussions:-
  2. RADAR EQUIPMENT

i)              15081 has been detailed for duties at Zeebrugge.

ii)             The 451, 462, 432A, 432D, 409 and 456A vehicles with the Type 25 spares from 15072 G and 15062G will be allotted to 15092C and 15093C C.O.L.’s in No. 25 Sector.  In addition, the Type 25 trained mechanics from 15072 will be posted to 15092 and 15093 C.O.L’s.  This will bring these C.O.L’s up to Type 25 specification and enable them to be used for reporting and interceptions.

iii)            The Type 14 Mark III, 14101, complete with spares and crystals from 15073C will be allotted to 15130C of 24 Sector.

iv)           The remainder of the 21 Sector Radar Units including 15082 will return to the UK.

v)            The 432A and 409 vehicles from the 15092C and 15093C will be returned to 15072 and 15082 GCI’s.

  1. SIGNALS EQUIPMENT

No Mobile Signal Units should leave the Continent Movements at present.

CSO to submit to 2nd TAF proposals for re-allocating most of these Units to 24 and 25 Sectors and to request disposal instructions for the remainder.

The CSO will arrange for the echelon of 309 MSSU, now with 21 Sector, to be split and added to the echelons added to 24 and 25 Sectors.

  1. SIGNALS PERSONNEL

No Signals personnel, other than those mentioned in para. 2 (ii) above, will be transferred to other Units.  It was decided, however, that No. 21 Sector Signals Officer is to be exchanged with No 25 Sector Signals Officer.

  1. AIR/SEA RESCUE

2nd TAF had been asked for a decision regarding the deployment of 276 Squadron and 32 and 33 Marine Units.  It was decided, however, that provisional arrangements will be made for the three MUU’s Type Q in 21 Sector and used for Air Sea Rescue to be allotted as follows:-

                        24 Sector        – 1 (taking their total holding to 2).

                        25 Sector        – 2.

      6.  AIR FORMATION SIGNALS

            Air Formation Signals are not part of 21 Sector, and Units and equipment will be withdrawn

            on the movement  of 21 Sector to the UK and used where not (sic) needed.  Vehicles Type

            301 (MTE21) will be retained in No. 2 Company, 16 Air Formation Signals and not returned

            to the UK.     

  1. METEOROLOGICAL SECTION

The Meteorological Section attached to No. 21 Sector Headquarters will be attached to 104TSF and be used to provide information for non-operational aircraft in the Western area of the British Zone.

  1. OTHER PERSONNEL AND GENERAL FIELD EQUIPMENT

All other personnel and Field Equipment will be returned to UK with No 21 Sector.  On arrival in the UK they will be sent ot IBSLEY and await further instructions.

  1. No. 142 WING

A proposal has been made to 2nd TAF that No. 142 Wing Headquarters should be retained in the Continent and used to accommodate Coastal Command Albacores used for Air/Sea Interception operations and also on Air/Sea Rescue detachment on an airfield in Belgium or Holland.  If this proposal is approved the Wing will remain with it’s Field Equipment and Transport (less transport on the establishment of the servicing echelons.

      10.  No’s 264 AND 604 SQUADRONS

             These squadrons, with their servicing echelons, will return to the UK and be based at     

              Church Fenton and Acklington.  They will operate under ADGB and be serviced by their

              present establishment in order to be available to return to No 85 Group if required.  While

              in the UK, these Squadrons will be re-equipped with Mosquito XXX aircraft.

  1. EXECUTIVE

The decisions taken at the meeting will be put in to effect on 23rd September 1944.

 

The Minutes were signed by Air Commodore H.M. Pearson, Senior Air Staff Officer, HQ No. 85 Group.

 

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

85 Group Police Unit moved to the Antwerp area leaving a small detachment at Cully.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Gp/Capt Moseby proceeded to 85 Group Head Quarters to attend a conference with the A.O.C. to decide on the future of 21 Sector as the commitment with the American Sector finishes on 23rd.  It was decided that the Sector Head Quarters would return to the UK with G.C.I.’s 15082, 15072 and C.O.L.’s 15073 and Col 15074 while the attached Signals Units would all remain on the Continent and be attached to other sectors..  There was again no enemy activity during the night and no fighters went on patrol.

Gp/Capt W.G. Moseby;-  To conference at 85 Group HQ with AOC to decide on future of 21 Sector.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

A start made on packing up ready to move at any time after 23-9-1944.

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman;-  Left L’Ecole de Mangans – slept under the stars at Evreux.

 

21-9-1944    (D+107)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

There was no enemy activity during the night but two fighters based in 24 Sector flew uneventful patrols in the Cherbourg area till the weather closed in.  A start was made on the packing up of the camp preparatory to moving at any time at short notice after the 23rd September.

 

22-9-1944    (D+108)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

There was no enemy activity during the night and no fighters operated in the area during the night.  This was the finish of the Sector’s commitment with the Americans and as soon as the night’s operations completed, the process of packing up was started ready to move as soon as the order came through.

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman;-  Arrived back at Grandcamps.

 

23-9-1944   (D+109)

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

No. 21 B.D. Sector with the residue of Signals and Radar Units returned to RAF Ibsley in the UK

where it is to be administered by ADGB.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book; (Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

 Packing continued throughout the day as it was considered

likely that the main party would move the following morning and everything was loaded before the

day was out ready to move at short notice.

 

24-9-1944   (D+110)

Organisation Memorandum on Moves of Sectors, Wings and Squadrons.

(Air 25-739, No. 85 Base Group, Appendices (Admin and Org) Aug – Oct 44)

21 Sector.

21 Sector Headquarters, (personnel 187, vehicles 20) will proceed to RAF Station, Ibsley, UK on

approximately 24th/35th September 1944 with the under-mentioned Units:-

15072 GCI

15082 GCI

15073 COL

15074 COL

349 MRU

Part of these Units are being absorbed into Units of 24 and 25 Sectors.  For full details see

S.A.S.O’s Minutes on meeting held on 20th September 1944 on the return of 21 Sector to the UK.

15081 GCI will remain on the Continent and it is now in the process of moving to Zeebrugge.

 

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

85 Group Air Staff moved to Advanced HQ 85 Group at Ghent, and all Air Staff matters are dealt

with by Advanced HQ.  Administration matters are dealt with by HQ 85 Group Main at St Croix as

previously.

Met Section of 21BD Sector moved to St Croix and attached to 104 T.S.F.

142 Wing Hq moved to Ghent.

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The main party waited all day for the order to move but this never came through.

 

25-9-1944    (D+111)

Operations Record Book, Headquarters No. 85 (Base) Group, Organisation Branch.

(PRO Ref:- Air25-723, No. 85 Group F540)

Two Type 14, Mark II units attached to COL Units 24 Section, following their detachment from 21 Base Defence Sector.

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Main party was ordered to set off for Utah beach.  All the troops’ kit was loaded up and everybody was ready to start when the order to move was cancelled and the bedding etc. for the night was unloaded again.

 

26-9-1944    (D+112)

Loose Minute by Sqn/Ldr E.F. Truscott, (Organisation 1A)

Sub paragraph d. of this Loose Minute states “ That No 21 Sector, together with it’s 2 squadrons – nos 264 and 604 – is to be transferred from 85 Group to ADGB. (Air Defence Great Britain)”.

Paragraph 4. states:- “ I have already taken action on item d., having issued instructions in AEAF Organisation Memorandum No 135/ORG/1944, and it now remains to clear items a., b. and c. above”.

Paragraph 5. states:- “G/C Org, 2nd TAF has asked me to obtain the agreement of Air Staff, AEAF to these changes, and I would accordingly be grateful if you would please confirm that they are in order and that you will leave it to me to arrange the effective dates with 2nd TAF and ADGB as appropriate”.

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Order to move came through again first thing in the morning and the party left Tocqueville for the United Kingdom via Utah beach at approximately 1030 hours.  All vehicles were embarked during the evening ready to leave on the morning tide..  Set off at 10.30hrs approx from Tocqueville for the UK via Utah beach.  All vehicles embarked by evening in readiness for a departure on the morning tide.

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman;- Embarked at Utah beach in glorious weather.

 

27-9-1944    (D+113)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The party was accommodated in 7 Landing Ship Tanks (LST’s) and I LCT.  The bulk of them left on the morning tide and after a very rough crossing arrived at Southampton the same evening and eventually got to RAF Ibsley at about midnight.  The rest of the party left Utah on the evening tide and did not arrive at Southampton until the following day.

 

A General Court Martial was held at the Chateau, Tocqueville at 1100 hours to try LAC Sissons of 15074 C.O.L. Unit.  The Court consisted of:-

            Wg/Cdr Barnett (Judge Advocate), 

            Wg/Cdr Ian Herbert Arthur Hay (President).

            Flt/Lt E. Urry (Defending Officer).

            Sqn/Ldr Lovell (Member).

            Sqn/Ldr Frederick Joseph Trollope (Member).

            Sqn/Ldr Peter Frank Travers Wakeford (Member).

            Flt/Lt Boughey (Member).

 

28-9-1944    (D+114)

Loose Minute by Sqn/Ldr E.F. Truscott, (Organisation 1A), ref AEAF/S17030/ORG 1A

The above states:-

“Ops 1. Further to my Loose Minute AEAF/S17030/ORG 1A dated 26 September, I have now been advised that 21 Sector is not to be disbanded after its transfer to ADGB.

  1. Could the reason for this please be stated, as I presume that a Base Defence Sector is not required in the ADGB operational control organisation, whereas the establishment resources which we can obtain by the disbandment of units surplus to requirements means that much assistance towards forming new units or meeting increases to establishments.
  2. In this connection, Org 2(i) has advised me that a request has just been received for a considerable increase to the establishments of the Base Defence Sectors remaining in 85 Group;  the establishment resources thrown up by disestablishment of 21 Sector would be a valuable contribution towards neeting these increases”.

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The remainder of the main party arrived at Ibsley and the day was spent getting everything ready for everybody to proceed on leave as soon as possible

 

29-9-1944    (D+115)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The day was spent getting Leave Passes, Ration Cards, etc., made out and all leave started the following day leaving only a small holding party till the rear party arrived who were to act as the holding party.

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman;-  Returned to UK, (Ibsley).

 

30-9-1944    (D+116)

Main Headquarters, No. 85 Group.  Location Statement 8/44 (Overseas).

(Air 25-739, No. 85 Group, Appendices (Admin & Org) Aug – Oct 44)

85 Group Holding Party.                     RAF Uxbridge.

21 Base Defence Sector.                   RAF Ibsley.(administered by A.D.G.B.)

15082 GCI.                                                                 “

15072 GCI.                                                                 “

15073 COL.                                                                “

15074 Col.                                                                   “

349 MRU.                                                                   “

 

Loose Minute by Group Captain A.V.R. Johnstone, Ops 1, ref AEAF/S.22619/Air

The above Loose Minute states:-

“ Reference your Loose Minutes S.17030/Org.1A dated 26th and 28th September 1944.  The items referred to in the former are agreed to with the exception of Para 3(d) which is the subject of your later Loose Minute.

The reason why it is not desirable to disband 21 Sector is that it is anticipated that this Sector may be required for operations in the Low Countries at a later date, and it is, therefore, desirable to maintain the organisation in as full an operational state as possible until such time as it may be required”.

(This seems to explain why 21 Sector spent such a lengthy period at Ibsley before it was actually disbanded?)

 

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Leave commenced.

 

OCTOBER

 

2-10-1944    (D+118)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Rear party arrived at Ibsley from Tocqueville.

 

3-10-1944    (D+119)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The rest of the main party which had remained at Ibsley proceeded on leave and left the rear party as a holding party.

F/Off Collier;-              Posted in to 21Sector for GCI Controller duties w.e.f. 12-9-1944.

Flt/Lt Dougall;-                         Attached to 85 Group w.e.f. 24/9/1944.

F/Off A.W. Henderson;-         Posted from 21 Sector to GCI15081 (in Holland?).

P/Off Jones;-                          Posted in to 21Sector for GCI Controller duties w.e.f. 12-9-1944.

F/Off Mansfield;-                    Posted in to 21Sector for GCI Controller duties w.e.f. 12-9-1944.

Sqn/Ldr O’Mahoney;-             Attached to 85 Group.

Flt/Lt Overbury;-                     Attached to 85 Group w.e.f. 24/9/1944.

Sqn/Ldr C.E. Spurgeon;-        Posted from 25 Sector to 21 Sector for Signals duties.

 

8-10-1944    (D+124)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Sqn/Ldr Harding (Padre) posted to 83 Group.

 

10-10-1944              (D+126)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Personnel of the main party who went on leave with the initial batch returned for duty.  As nothing was known for what purpose the Sector would be required, the job of completely overhauling all equipment was taken in hand and this is how the airmen were employed for some time to come.  This was a job urgently needed as most of the transport and technical equipment had had a lot of racketing (sic) about in France.

 

16-10-1944              (D+132)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Owing to lack of Operational duties the personnel of the Sector and sub-units were split into 12 Flights with two officers in charge of each one and the Flights commenced a course of training in Drill, PT, etc., also lectures and organised games.  Certain Flights were to be detailed for daily fatigues both on the Camp and in the District.

F/Sgt Muir Adair

When being interviewed he recalled that he was partly responsible for decommissioning the equipment ‘at an air force base somewhere in the South of England but he cannot recall where’.  (We know this now to have been at RAF Ibsley).  Most of the equipment which was decommissioned was stated by F/Sgt Adair to have been ‘C’ Class Stores which was in the expendable category.  This meant that when the equipment was issued the military forces did not expect it to come back.  As a result when they tried to return this equipment no-one wanted it!  He recalled that a great mound was thrown away with the aid of the Royal Engineers and a big hole!

 

 

19-10-1944              (D+135)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Sqn/Ldr F.J. Trollope;-  Attached to Chain Home Low Radar Unit (C.H.L.) Hopton.

 

23-10-1944              (D+139)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Wg/Cdr O.A. Guggenheim;-  Posted to 1308 Mobile Wing.

 

24-10-1944              (D+140)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Sqn/Ldr Lovell;-  Posted to No 3(P) Advanced Flying Unit (A.F.U.).

 

1-11-1944    (D+148)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The Sector still having no Operational commitments, the troops continued to be occupied by duties and training in Flights as was done from October 15th onwards. 

 

5-11-1944    (D+152)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Flt/Lt Nodes;-  Attached to RAF Hopton.

 

6-11-1944    (D+153)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Flt/Lt W.D. Wiseman;-  Posted to Hopton.

 

10-11-1944              (D+157)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

As from this date, the establishment for 21 Sector was cancelled but no decision had been arrived at as to what was going to happen to the personnel or to whom they belonged.  In the meantime, the normal routine was carried on till some further information was received as to what was going to happen.

 

12-11-1944              (D+159)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

Gp/Capt William George Moseby D.S.O., D.F.C., awarded the American D.F.C. as from 25-10-1944.

 

14-11-1944              (D+161)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The Commanding Officer, Group Captain Moseby, DSO, DFC, was attached to 51 O.T.U. pending posting.  Wg/Cdr Ian Herbert Arthur Hay;-  Assumed command of 21 Sector.

 

The London Gazette;-

Sqn/Ldr Norman Best  (Tech Signals, attached to 21 Sector);-   Gazetted for the award of Military Cross.

Sqn/Ldr Geoffrey Clarence Harding (21 Sector HQ, Chaplain);-  Gazetted for the award of Military Cross.

Sqn/Ldr Frederick Joseph Trollope  (15082 GCI);-  Gazetted for the award of Military Cross.

Flt/Lt Richard Noel Rycroft  (Medical Officer);-  Gazetted for the award of Military Cross.

F/Sgt Reuben Eckersall  (Radar Mechanic);-  Gazetted for the award of Military Medal.

LAC Reid (Medical Orderly):-  Gazetted for the award of the Military Medal.

 

 

19-11-1944              (D+166)

21BDS Operations Record Book;

(PRO Ref:- Air 26-40, No. 21 BD Wing).

The first batch of postings for airmen arrived and from this date onwards, odd postings were coming in at intervals.   Ops Record Book entries ceased as at this date.

 

 

JANUARY 1945

 

1-1-1945      

London Gazette;-

Flt/Lt R.H. Miskin;-  Mentioned in Despatches, (Page 70).

Sqn/Ldr Peter Frank Travers Wakeford;-  Awarded the O.B.E. (Page 21).  Injured on D-Day, St Valery.

Wg/Cdr Norman Best MC;-   Senior Technical Officer (STO) of 75 Wing.

 

 

JUNE 1945

 

 

London Gazette;-

Wg/Cdr E.C. Wolfe;-  Mentioned in Despatches, (Page 2992).

 

OCTOBER 1945

 

25-10-1945               

Wg/Cdr Ian Herbert Arthur Hay (RAAF);-  Awarded D.F.C. (Page 5235), Service

Number AUS250720.

 

JULY 1957

 

 

1-7-1957

Group Captain William George Moseby, D.S.O., D.F.C., Promoted to Group Captain (Presumed to be substantive rank from Wing Commander?).  Was Station Commander of RAF Driffield between 1955 and 1957.

 

 

——————————————————– O O O O ——————————————————

 

 

NOTES

a)    F/Sgt Fulton Muir Adair is quoted as saying that he knew a F/Sgt Eckershall who he trained with and said that he had a similar position with GCI15081 but did not know very well as there were no Messes and thus little opportunity to socialise.  He knew him as a technician, (a good and competent operator) but could not recall much more about him.  He expressed surprise, though, as to why F/Sgt Eckershall was at D-Day and assumed that he was a late draft into 21BDS as were so many others.

b)    Bill Adderley gives the following information, unfortunately not always with the exact dates,  regarding the route he took across France from Normandy and will help to give a very useful indication of the whereabouts of 21 Sector once it had started to move inland after the initial landing. 

6-6-1944          Landed Omaha Red with the US Army.

            7-6-1944          St Laurent.

            8-6-1944          near to St Laurent.

            10-6-1944        Les Moulins, – St Laurent – Longueville.

            1-7-1944          Grandcamp.

            4-7-1944          Domestic Site?

Journey to Paris, partly with General Patton thrust.  CO went off in a hurry taking us in a fast run to the front.  Waited outside Paris for the Free French to arrive.

Route, vehicle No 11 – Isigny;  St Lo;  Vive;  Tinchbray;  Domfront;  Alencon;  Le Mans;  Rendezvous point, Place du Jacobin, Le Mans.

26-8-1944        Longchamps Racecourse with the Free French.  2798 Rifle Squadron, which had been protecting RAF radar sites in one of the American Corps areas, was ordered to secure Longchamps racecourse in Paris as a possible landing site.  With guides from the French Maquis the squadron took a devious route into the city to reach it’s objective – thus becoming one of the first Allied units to enter the French capital.7

 

 

——————————————————– O O O O ———————————————————

Richard Rycroft, MO – Medical History of War

MEDICAL HISTORY OF WAR

No. 21. Base Defence Sector

 

(1). Operational purpose of Unit.  Defence against night bombing of base during invasion of continent.  Threat from Luftwaffe has been considerably less than was expected.  Threat diminishes with the passing of each day and with the withdrawal of the German forces from France.

Unit is subdivided into:

(1). Sector Headquarters. 42. Officers.  260.  O.R.

(2). Five G.C.I. units, averaging 5 Officers. 80. O.R.

(3). Many small signal units.  Ranging from 4 to 20 personnel on each unit.

(4). I.M.R.U. 2. Officers. 30. O.R.

(5). I.M.S.S.U.  4. Officers. 35. O.R.

(6). 1. Company of Air Formation Signals attached to Sector H.Q. 9. Officers. 249. O.R.

The composition of the Sector is constantly changing and small units move with great frequency and are therefore difficult to keep under medical supervision.  When first posted to this Sector the arrangements of units is almost too difficult to visualise.  Quite unlike any other branch of the R.A.F.

 

(2). Sector was formed at Church Fenton Yorkshire in January 1944.

Many of the constituent units had been formed since the previous year and were experienced in camp life under canvas.  There was only one move in England before the overseas move.  This was to Sopley near Christchurch in 1944.  The movement to France was done in three main bodies.

(i).  One G.C.I. and attached bodies (Total. 190 Officers and O.R’s) landed on D-Day.  This unit wounded and killed.  (Killed. 11. Wounded. 33.)  The loss in technical vehicles was even heavier and as a result this unit was unable to carry out the job it had been landed for.

(ii). Further units landed on D+12 and had an uneventful landing except for a wetting due to inefficient landing craft command.

(iii). Sector Headquarters landed on about D+20.

Conditions in France.  Sector H.Q. living in Chateau (officers) and tents (men).  These were left by Germans who had headquarters in chateau.  Other units under canvas.  Widely dispersed from Sector H.Q. (2 to 100 miles).  Tendency for units to get further away from Sector H.Q.

Very hard to keep contact.

 

(3). Medical problems caused by preceding paragraphs

A Medical Officer was considered necessary for this unwieldy unit at the eleventh hour.  (Previously the sick had been taken daily to the nearest R.A.F. Station.)  After two years as a Squadron Medical Officer, a job that does not give one a command of paper work and organisation, it was my lot to be chosen for this task.  I arrived at the unit, then at Sopley, near Christchurch on May 23rd 1944.  It is hard to be dispassionate about the conditions one found, especially since one was told a move into “concentration” was expected daily.  Briefly the facts were as follows:

Equipment.  Medical panniers were still in Equipment Section together with rest of Z.I. equipment.

Ambulance. Arrived on May 24th.  Unserviceable for 24 hours because of sign painting and removal of grease from body work.

Tentage. Hospital was being used by Headquarters as office tent.  This was only discovered after four days, and then by chance.  It was not considered worth while using this tent because of daily expectation of moving.  Small tents had not arrived.

One was borrowed for immediate use.

Having had no experience of tent conditions and life in the field, conditions were very hard for making decisions.  The time given seemed to be so very short.  The main problem was vaccination and inoculation of the many scattered units.  The state of inoculation was very much below average, and Typhus vaccination was needed by every man in the Sector.  I had very considerable difficulty in collecting enough material for this, since R.A.F. Hurn had no supplies and the Mobile Field Hospital had short supplies.  All the material that was collected was injected, and after a week of incessant inoculations the state of the unit was satisfactory.  I was not able to complete all the inoculations because on June 2nd I was suddenly removed and put in the advance party which embarked that evening.

Another problem that had to be met was the non-existence of medicines, forms and paraphernalia necessary for the running of the smallest Sick Quarters.  This had to be collected by the “scrounging” method from the nearest R.A.F. unit.

Since my time was fully occupied by other more vital matters, I did not manage to collect many mixtures and minor requisites.  I am convinced that a more efficient method of obtaining the minimum supplies necessary for a Sick Quarters could be evolved.  A small cabinet containing the basic mixtures, forms and stationery would meet the case and is the method used by the U.S. Army in the field.  The day of the Boy Scout camping atmosphere has surely passed.  The contrast between the U.S. Field Dispensary and the R.A.F. Sick Quarters in the field is, to say the least, illuminating.

I have been informed that it is “uneconomical” to supply each unit with these mixtures, but since they have to be collected in the long run I cannot see the validity of this argument.  It would be a saving in transport, medical officers’ time, and a good deal of anxiety.  I have discussed this at some length because in an already difficult position it was a great source of annoyance and time-wasting.

 

(4). Sick Quarters Layout.

No experience of tented sick quarters in this unit.  Unit had taken over chateau at Torqueville by the time medical equipment arrived at end of June 1944.

German Sick Quarters taken over.  In a very confused state when first seen, Sick Quarters consists of:-

(1). M.I. Room. Well lit.  Concrete floor.  Roomy.  Only disadvantage is lack of drainage and water.  Water collected in 5 gallon drums from bowser.  Soakage pit outside Sick Quarters for water disposal.  Laborious but satisfactory.

(2). Ward. Similar to M.I. Room.  Well lit.  Ample room for four beds and can hold six beds.  Corner behind screen used for Sergeant’s office.  Provision for heating in winter by stove.

(3). M.O’s Office. Lies between M.I. Room and Ward.  Very satisfactory.

All rooms have electric light.  Radiant heat cradles left by  Germans are used daily.  Glass cabinets for instruments and medicines also procured from German sources.  The Sick Quarters as a whole compare favourably with those in Britain.  Ideal for this unit.  There is a bucket latrine in a small shed behind the main buildings.

 

(5). Medical arrangements.

The units within five miles of Sector Headquarters bring their sick in daily for 8.30 sick parade.  (Average number on parade all told is ten).  The outlying units have arrangements with American units for sick parades.  This works well and there have been no complications.

Dental treatment in all cases is obtained from American Dental Officers.  The nearest unit to Sector Headquarters is seven miles away.  Service has always been exceptionally good.

Hospital arrangements

298th General Hospital in Cherbourg (17 miles away) provides an adequate service.  Any cases that are likely to be in for more than 10 days are evacuated to U.K.  This is a complication that cannot be avoided.  So far we haven’t had more than half a dozen cases evacuated in this manner.

Transport to hospital is provided, if possible and if the case is suitable, by jeep.  The Fordson ambulance rides very badly on the uneven roads and is a very real ordeal for even a fit man.  It is absolutely unsuited for service in this part of the world, and is only used when conditions forbid the use of the Jeep.  The only advantage it has over the Jeep is that it is weather-proof.

 

(6).  Equipment.

The equipment provided for a mobile sick quarters would have seemed adequate in World War No. 1, but in this war it leaves a great deal to be desired.  Having seen at the same time the American equipment, and having had to work with both, one has the impression that the American stores have been carefully thought out to meet certain definite conditions, whilst the British have been collected piecemeal with no definite plan.  The Z.1. equipment, when analysed, contains bandages, cotton wool and gauze for innumerable wounds and fractures and beyond that it has only a few bottles of tablets.  The conditions that one meets in this part of the world call for medical stores rather than surgical.  (The provision of a dental case for instance is a sheer waste of metal.  The average Medical Officer has never used a dental instrument.)

Improvement could be made by supplying in the pannier now filled with bandages and splints:

(1). Quart bottles of necessary mixtures e.g. Mist Expect in concentrated form. Mist Magnesium Trisil. Mist Kaolin Sed. Linctus Codeine

(2). Ointments. Zinc Oxide. Benzyl Benzoate. – (No provision for scabies treatment in a field  unit). Sulphadiazine. Whitfields. Hydrarg Oxy.Flav.

(3). Agyrol 20% in drip bottle. Chromic acid 5% (Gingivitis very common and easily spread under field conditions) Hydrogen Peroxide Methyl Salicylate linament. Vaseline gauze for burns – common injury with petrol stoves and dry cleaning. Tubonic ampoules. Small number of sterile tubes for pathological fluids.

(4). Sulphadiazine tablets. Insufflator for sulphonamide powder.

These items would not take up a great deal of room and yet would give the Medical Officer a chance of treating most of the common diseases met in the field.

Some provision should be made for office equipment.  Forms necessary in the field should be available.  A typewriter is indispensable.  At the moment Sick Quarters depend entirely on the goodwill of the Orderly Room for envelopes and stationery.  Group policy letters were not held by unit and so one was very much in the dark about higher policy.

 

(7). Incidence of illness of particular interest.  -  Epidemic. Gastro-Enteritis.

(1). In common with all units in this theatre of war this unit has had a large number of cases.  Most cases conform to the 24 hour pattern with acute diarrhoea during that period.  Blood in stools has been seen in a minority of cases.  It is unusual for the diarrhoea to last more than 72 hours.  The number of people reporting sick is not an index of the numbers affected.  There can be few personnel who have avoided this trial.  Culture of a few cases has failed to produce an organism.  There is little doubt however, that this is a mild form of dysentery carried by the many flies in this area.  Anti-fly precautions are taken in the form of keeping all food not in use under cover.

(2). Injuries from anti-personnel mines and other enemy material.

The danger from mines still persists and there have been a number of accidents.  Fatal accidents have been rare fortunately.  The injuries are usually a matter of many small particles being driven into the skin.

(3). Burns

There have been a number of petrol burns of the arms and chest owing to  personnel using insufficient care with petrol burners for cooking and heating water.  Treatment has varied according to the drugs available.  The most satisfactory method I consider to be the combination of sulphanilamide powder and Vaseline gauze.  Gentian Violet was unavoidably used on one occasion and was very unsatisfactory.  Sepsis occurred under the coagulium.

(4). Epidemic.  Skin Diseases

Contrary to expectation the incidence of pediculosis and scabies has been very low.  Only half a dozen cases have been discovered in the whole sector.  Benzyl Benzoate is used for the scabies.  The U.S. Army insecticide powder proves efficient in the pediculosis cases.

There have been a large number of insect bites caused by an unknown insect.  Mosquitoes have been suspected, but are definitely not the main source.  Practically all personnel have had bites on the legs and abdomen.  The insecticide powder mentioned above appears to give some protection.

 

 

(8). Messing and Rations.

The U.S. Army food supplied to this unit is excellent and is very much more popular than the English counterpart.  The abundance of fruit juices and canned fruit is a very strong point.  There are practically no complaints about the cooking.  The only difficulty has been in washing the eating utensils after meals.  There is no provision of adequate water containers for the necessary hot water.  One unit has managed to obtain the American type of hub with immersion heater and has benefited accordingly.  Utensils are then able to be kept clean easily since the water can be kept boiling, and there is a good volume of water.

 

(9). Entertainments and Comforts.

The Sector Headquarters have had a small theatre since coming to Tocqueville left behind by the Germans.  Outlying units send parties in each day for a cinema.  The show is changed thrice weekly.  Films are obtained from the British Sector and are about up to average standard of service films.  (A great opportunity is missed in the services here – good films could become part of the life of the average man in the street instead of the “Boy meets Girl in glorious Technicolor” type.)

Stage shows have been provided by the men themselves.  During our stay in France we have seen one U.S. show here – a swing band.

It would have been thought that discussion groups and talks would have had an appeal for people cut off from the usual pursuits, but the usual apathy of the Serviceman has not changed and there has been little of this nature over here.  Again an opportunity is being missed – an Education officer is vitally necessary on a unit of this nature.

Up to the present cigarettes have been supplied free (140/week from the American “P.X” together with chocolate and toilet requisites.  The N.A.A.F.I. ration has seemed a little meagre compared with this.  Beer has been provided by the N.A.A.F.I. at a price that does not make it popular with the troops.

Mail on the whole has come through very well and complaints have been the exception.  For the party that landed on “D-Day” the first mail came on June 24th – an entirely unnecessary delay due to muddling by the Sector Headquarters in England.  This long delay was resented by this party and was the cause of much worry about relations in the Flying Bomb early days.  The non-arrival of mail is a very likely cause for lowered morale and should be avoided whenever possible.

 

 

(10). Morale.

The first thing that struck me when I arrived at this unit on May 23rd 1944 was the extraordinary feeling of frustration and confusion throughout the unit.  It didn’t seem possible that such an unprepared body of men could be going into the greatest expedition in this war within a matter of days.  Every seemed to have been left to the last moment – tents, transport, clothing etc.  The unit reached France and has gradually settled down, but still there remains that unusual, atmosphere, which is usually expressed by “This is 21 Sector, what can you expect?”

The diagnosis of this malady is not very difficult to arrive at, but the treatment, being of a radical nature, is beyond the scope of this communication.

 

(11). Hygiene and Sanitation.

The most usual form of sanitation is by the bucket latrine, the contents of which are buried each day.  Otway pits are in use in a number of units.

The main problem here is the disposal of waste water, since the subsoil is clay and is therefore non-permeable.  The solution has been to dig numerous soakage pits.  Water has not been a problem.  There is usually an American water point within easy distance of each dispersed unit.  The Sector Headquarters water comes from an Artesian well and is chlorinated locally.  There is apparently no water shortage in this part of France.

The flies have constituted a problem and have been combated by keeping foodstuffs in safes and fly-proof boxes.  Mosquitoes were numerous in July, but have decreased in numbers recently.  There have been no cases of Malaria in this unit.

The sanitary arrangements in this field depend very much on the carpenting (carpentry?) skill of the airmen in the unit.  There is a large variation in the ingenuity shown.  A professional carpenter in each G.C.I. unit would be a very useful addition to the personnel and would ensure that adequate accommodation was made at each site 

(12). Liaison with Americans.

The Americans authorities have been most helpful in the way of giving us stores and medical aid.  It was regrettable that my first contact with the U.S. forces we were to work with came after the landing on D-Day.  Liaison beforehand would have been very valuable.  Being single handed and unconnected with any other Medical Officer in the landing I did not know what to expect on the beach in the way of aid posts and casualty clearing stations.  (As it happened it didn’t matter since on that particular beach there were not any in action,)  It has been a very interesting and instructive experience to work with the American forces for two and a half months, and has made up for the late and unsatisfactory start as Medical Officer to this unit.

Signed:-  R. Rycroft. F/Lt.

2.9.44

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John Stevens – from “Canadians on Radar: RCAF 1940-1945″

Taken from “Canadians on Radar: Royal Canadian Air Force 1940-1945″ edited by Robert F Linden and others

 Corporal John G. Stevens a RCAF radar mechanic on GCI convoy 15082, provides the following account of progress from Omaha beach to the city of Paris:

At the end of D-Day, 47 of the 120 men from our Unit were casualties, including our Commanding Officer, Wing Commander Trollope.  It would be a couple of days before our destroyed convoy vehicles would be replaced from England.

The move inland from Normandy to Paris provided some interesting moments.  As I was the only person in the unit who could speak and understand some French, our new Commanding Officer and I rode in the lead vehicle with the driver.  The other 35 or so vehicles were to follow as we headed out, this time for Paris.  We were “briefed” by our two American Liaison Colonels, being told where to go when the front broke, in order to get to Paris.  Unfortunately these two gentlemen were killed by a land mine a few days before our scheduled move.

We made our way around the east side of the Falaise Gap, aiming for Paris as instructed.  As all road signs had been removed or obliterated by black paint, we often stopped to ask the local people for advice as to which road to take to get to Paris.  They needed the unit operating as soon as possible in order to provide air cover.  This necessitated several stops and directions from the local people, who became more co-operative as we neared Paris.

Our instructions were to go to the Bois de Boulogne and set up the radar and communication equipment, make it functional, and contact London.  However, we were unable to reach the Bois de Boulogne, as each route we tried was blocked by upturned trucks piled up with paving stones taken from the roads.

Finally we stopped at one of these barricaded roads which we had hoped to use and it was agreed with our C.O. that I would go through the barricade and seek some advice, while the convoy awaited my return.  There was quite a bit of sporadic gunfire but nothing apparently organized.  The distance from the first to the second roadblock was one city block.  As I ran past the stores taking evasive action and dodging into store front, “someone” was firing inconsistently towards the first roadblock.  About halfway along the street I dodged into another doorway, where I met, much to my surprise, a well dressed French gentleman of about 50 years of age.  He was drunk and was holding two champagne glasses with the stems between his fingers.  He smiled happily to see me and extolled the glories of Liberation, peace and good fellowship, as drunks are wont to do – in French.  He then said “à boire messieur à la Liberation.” A drink of alcohol was something I did not want!  As somebody was still firing down the road, I hesitated going up the road long enough for my “new friend” to produce a bottle of champagne, half fill the glasses, and present one to me.  As the firing had stopped, I drank the champagne, thanked him while refusing any more, congratulated him on the peace and ran up the street to the other roadblock.

There was a sign on one of the buildings which said F.F.I. Headquarters (Free French Interior) Communist Section.  The proceedings there were apparently being run by a young woman about twenty five years of age, who wore a navy blue tailored jacket, navy blue skirt and matching tam hat.  She looked like a model.  When she finished giving orders to her troops she turned to me and in English asked what I wanted.  Before I could answer she unbuttoned her jacket and produced a 45 calibre revolver and called a man’s name.  When he turned his head she said in French, “I knew it was you” and pointing the revolver at him, gave orders to her minions to take him behind a billboard and shoot him – which I believe they did.

She put away the revolver, which you would never guess she was carrying, turned to me and asked again what I wanted.  I told her that our RAF convoy was on the other side of the second barricade and that we were trying to get to the Bois de Boulogne.  She had someone in her command go into their headquarters and bring a large detailed map.  There was no available route for us, so she suggested Longchamps Racetrack as an alternative; and sent me on my way with a head full of instruction like “tout à droit – tout à gauche, etc.”  Somehow we reached the racetrack and I went into the building, just inside the gates.  There was no one in any of the rooms, but there were indications that they had recently left: cigarette butts, warm coffee cups and a smell of cigarette smoke.

On returning to the gate, I found all the people laughing hilariously.  It is always sad to miss a good joke so I asked what was so funny, and was amazed at the answer.  They told me that this was the Gestapo Headquarters and that the Gestapo had gone out the back windows of the building when I went in the front door.  Members of the joyous crowd hoisted me on their shoulders and started moving through the crowded street.  Suddenly a small German tank, which I could see from my vantage point, began firing, and knocking chunks off the buildings, columns etc.  The lads lowered me and the crowd evaporated in seconds by running into all buildings with unlocked doors.  I don’t know who else in our unit got the short V.I.P. treatment.

Our equipment was moved to the middle of the race track, but due to the buildings and trees we could get no satisfactory results.  That evening two twin-engine German bombers came over the convoy and accidentally bombed the four five-storey tenements nearby.

On the second day we left the racetrack to move to a site which had a higher elevation located down the road to Fontainebleau.  On the outskirts of Paris we met some American Sherman tanks coming in our direction and pulled over to the side of the road to allow them to pass.  To my surprise the lead tank started to elevate its cannon.  I told our driver to turn our “lorry” across the road so they could see the huge RAF roundel painted on the side.  In a few minutes two very large, six-foot-six military policemen on motorcycles rode to meet us, and asked in a brusque manner what we were doing.  In a fit of sarcasm I told them we were in Paris for a couple of days and that it would be now safe for them to enter.  We pulled our vehicle over to the side and they passed us without further incident.

The equipment was set up in a farmer’s field, with his permission, and operated very well in this new location. There was little action from the German Air Force.  In due course an American Radar Unit, with very sophisticated equipment, arrived to take over the work. We were instructed to return to the Cherbourg Peninsular for repatriation to England.

The next day a dispatch rider on a motorcycle arrived with a telegram for me personally, from our Group Captain. He asked me to go to North Belgium to help with another microwave unit. Good grief !

John G. Stevens. North York, Ontario

 

 

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