In this enjoyable and informative account, based on family recollections and extensive research, Christopher McArthur pieces together the story of his uncle’s exploits as a Royal Air Force pilot during World War II.
After volunteering for the RAF in 1941, at the relatively mature age of 28, Fred Mortimore showed immediate potential as a flying instructor and this soon led to his involvement in the training of glider pilots for the newly-established Glider Pilot Regiment. He continued in this capacity until July 1943, when he underwent pilot training in twin-engine and four-engine aircraft types.
On the evening of D-Day, 6th June 1944, flying a twin-engined Albemarle with 570 Squadron and towing a Horsa glider containing members of the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry, Fred took part in Operation ‘Mallard’, dropping reinforcements in the River Orme area to bolster troops who had landed earlier in the day.
In the weeks that followed, he flew a number of challenging, low-level, night-time operations into central France, supplying members of SOE ahead of the Allied advance.
In September 1944, now flying a four-engined Short Stirling, Fred took part in Operation ‘Market’, the airborne assault at Arnhem, once again towing a Horsa glider and successfully returning to the UK after releasing it over the Drop Zone. The following day he was less fortunate. Returning to Arnhem to make a supply drop, his aircraft ran into massive enemy firepower and Fred was forced to make a crash landing. Soon afterwards he was taken prisoner. He was injured in the crash and later had a leg amputated in a German military hospital. He was to remain a POW until the end of the war.
Complete with details of the many aircraft and glider types he flew, plus numerous interesting research documents, the story of Fred Mortimore’s war is a remarkable one and a good read for anyone interested in World War II and aviation history.