Prior to June 13th, 1944 the British had never sent women to a combat zone. On that day, Myra Roberts, Lydia Alford and Edna Birbeck became the first of around 200 “Flying Nightingales” who risked their lives to bring home what would amount to 100,000 wounded men from mainland Europe over the remainder of the war. This is their story.
In just 37 days between 1 May and 6 June 1944, No.140 Squadron, RAF flew 143 PR sorties over France. The foresight they helped provide saved countless lives on D-Day and after. This is the story of how they did it.
G-George flew 89 sorties over occupied Europe with No.460 Squadron during a period when most operational Lancasters were shot down before they had even reached 20. In 107,085 total sorties flown by Lancasters, 2,687 went missing. Remarkably, G-George brought its crew home alive from every operation it flew on.
The Photo Recon pilot had no wingman, no flight, no formation. He flew alone in radio silence for hours at a time, navigating on dead reckoning all over mainland Europe; in his unarmed Spitfire he had only its altitude and speed, along with his wits and airmanship as protection.
If you read to the end, a sense of fatigue wouldn’t be unexpected. It will pale though when compared to the fatigue these men must have endured. I don’t know how they did it.
One Christmas my parents gave me Chaz Bowyer’s “The History of the RAF”. Within its pages is a captivating photo of a pilot resting on the ground, smiling. The pilot’s name was S/Ldr Ernest M. Mason DFC, known to all as “Imshi”. This is his story.
The largest single-day air engagement of the war; simultaneously a tactical loss and strategic victory.
I present my first previously unpublished Feature Article. The subject is F/O Les Clisby and his Hawker Hurricane Mk.1. This remarkable Australian fighter pilot was noted for his aggression, both in the air and on the ground… “Remarkably, Clisby landed nearby, drew his service sidearm and chased the German crewmen across the field as they tried to escape! He captured one in a rugby tackle…” I hope you enjoy the article.
While Tamiya’s new tool Spitfire gets all the attention, here’s one of the old tool version…
“In late May, 1940 the BEF was forced from continental Europe by the Germans at Dunkirk. The now famous retreat was covered in part by Spitfires of No.19 Squadron. Flight Sergeant George Unwin was already an experienced Spitfire pilot by this stage of the war…”
Ray Hanna served as Red Leader for three consecutive years until 1968 and was recalled to supersede Squadron Leader Timothy Nelson for the 1969 display season, a record four seasons as Leader, which still stands.