The RAF and Me – and RAF airman's experiences in World War II

RAF World War II
ISBN 1-873203-56-X
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by Gordon Frost | Experiences of a former Short Stirling navigator with 570 Squadron at RAF Harwell during WW2

As the member of the crew of a Short Stirling bomber flying in a glider-towing role from RAF Harwell, the author participated in the large-scale airborne invasions of Operation Market Garden (the Battle of Arnhem 1944) and Operation Varsity (the Rhine crossing 1945) and his memories of these, pluses many other operational sorties with the squadron are of great historical interest and are accompanied by a number of archive photographs.

This RAF navigator from the Norfolk town of King’s Lynn had an eventful war.

His induction into the RAF took place at Lord’s Cricket Ground in 1941, after which he was sent to train in South Africa (at No 48 Air School, East London), travelling out in primitive conditions aboard the Moreton Bay, a converted cargo vessel, but coming home in style aboard the RMS Mauretania.

With his crew he trained in a variety of aircraft, including Oxfords, Ansons, Whitleys and Halifaxes – but they were to end up flying with 570 Squadron in the mighty Short Stirling from their base at RAF Harwell.

The most dangerous mission of their operational career involved dropping supplies to ground troops during ‘Operation Market-Garden’ (the Arnhem airborne invasion in September 1944). In the face of ferocious anti-aircraft fire, 570 Squadron alone lost 9 aircraft and 22 aircrew during this operation.

‘Operation Varsity’ involved towing a glider to its target zone at Wesel on the Rhine and other missions called for trips behind enemy lines to drop supplies to resistance groups in France, Holland and Denmark. Despite many close shaves, his crew’s luck held; they were never shot down.

After hostilities ceased they were employed in various ‘milk-run’ tasks such as flying ex-POWs home to the UK, venturing as far afield as Egypt, until finally, civilian life beckoned and their flying days were over...

There is a great deal of interesting material in this exceptionally well-written wartime memoir, which is also highly amusing in places.