I Didnt Know That

#1
Just read a book called "On and off the flight deck" by Henry Hank Adlam. That in the "battle of britain" two FAA Hurricane squadrons fought !! and 65 FAA pilots fought in RAF squadrons
 
#3
scouse said:
Just read a book called "On and off the flight deck" by Henry Hank Adlam. That in the "battle of britain" two FAA Hurricane squadrons fought !! and 65 FAA pilots fought in RAF squadrons
Get your hands on 'bring back my stringbag'. by Lord Kilbracken. ISBN number,0 85052 495 4. Excellent.
 

Ninja_Stoker

War Hero
Moderator
#5
In addition, as I'm sure most are already aware, it would probably be worth reminding our xenophobe site visitors, that of the 2353 young men from Great Britain who fought in the skies, 574 came from overseas, amongst them over 150 Polak pilots.
 
#6
If you want a list of those that took part by service/country it scrolls up the screen at the end of the film BoB.























Not that I'd watch crab propaganda you understand
 
#7
Ninja_Stoker said:
In addition, as I'm sure most are already aware, it would probably be worth reminding our xenophobe site visitors, that of the 2353 young men from Great Britain who fought in the skies, 574 came from overseas, amongst them over 150 Polak pilots.
Splendid point N_S, I didn't know the exact figures but very pertinent - thanks.

Wonder what Geordie Nazi or whatever he's called has to say about that.
 
#8
Guzzler said:
Ninja_Stoker said:
In addition, as I'm sure most are already aware, it would probably be worth reminding our xenophobe site visitors, that of the 2353 young men from Great Britain who fought in the skies, 574 came from overseas, amongst them over 150 Polak pilots.
Splendid point N_S, I didn't know the exact figures but very pertinent - thanks.

Wonder what Geordie Nazi or whatever he's called has to say about that.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/7854877/Foreign-fighters-who-did-Britain-proud.html
 
#10
Ninja_Stoker said:
In addition, as I'm sure most are already aware, it would probably be worth reminding our xenophobe site visitors, that of the 2353 young men from Great Britain who fought in the skies, 574 came from overseas, amongst them over 150 Polak pilots.
And Czech and...
 
#11
Heard a story about an American called Wolff, came over to join one of the crab eagle sqns. anyway, hes in his spitfire over the NW approaches somewhere, and has a tech problem and has to pancake in the Irish republic.hes interned, as they did at the time. the regime in this camp is fairly good. they still get pay'd and get an allowance from the Irish. they also get weekend parole, to go to races, cinema, shagging etc,all run on a word of honour basis.So first weekend our man gets he hops across the border to Belfast and reports to crab HQ,where he gos for debrief by some Sqn ldr Dickey Fitztightly type. When your man hears that he broke his parole, he throws a right wendy, word of a British officer and all, and sends him back!!. When he gets back he gets filled in by his mates because the parole system was suspended because of him. he was released a few months later as was the general rule. but you can imagine how the poor bugger felt. comes all this way to fight the perfidious hun and ends up in an Ealing comedy.
 
#12
SARKING said:
Heard a story about an American called Wolff, came over to join one of the crab eagle sqns. anyway, hes in his spitfire over the NW approaches somewhere, and has a tech problem and has to pancake in the Irish republic.hes interned, as they did at the time. the regime in this camp is fairly good. they still get pay'd and get an allowance from the Irish. they also get weekend parole, to go to races, cinema, shagging etc,all run on a word of honour basis.So first weekend our man gets he hops across the border to Belfast and reports to crab HQ,where he gos for debrief by some Sqn ldr Dickey Fitztightly type. When your man hears that he broke his parole, he throws a right wendy, word of a British officer and all, and sends him back!!. When he gets back he gets filled in by his mates because the parole system was suspended because of him. he was released a few months later as was the general rule. but you can imagine how the poor bugger felt. comes all this way to fight the perfidious hun and ends up in an Ealing comedy.
Maybe he should have consulted his comrades before shooting through?
 
#13
Its a well known fact that the Americans won everything for us. They even intervened to ensure victory for William at hastings.

On subject of good books on Battle of Britain however, must recommend Sky Spy by Ray Holmes. Had the priviledge of meeting him and getting a signed copy a few years before his death. Well worth a read.
 
#14
21_Man said:
Ninja_Stoker said:
In addition, as I'm sure most are already aware, it would probably be worth reminding our xenophobe site visitors, that of the 2353 young men from Great Britain who fought in the skies, 574 came from overseas, amongst them over 150 Polak pilots.
And Czech and...
1 Israeli???
According to the list given in the credits at the end of the BoB film a citizen of a country 8 years from being created entered a Time Machine and warped back to help defeat the Hun in the sun.
Perhaps Jewish Palestinian didn't sound quite right. :roll:
 
#15
Scouse_Castaway said:
Its a well known fact that the Americans won everything for us. They even intervened to ensure victory for William at hastings.

On subject of good books on Battle of Britain however, must recommend Sky Spy by Ray Holmes. Had the priviledge of meeting him and getting a signed copy a few years before his death. Well worth a read.
Liked Jonseys quote to a yank, from dads army..'the only thing you's charged in the last lot, was intrest on the money you's loaned us' :lol:
 
#16
scouse said:
Just read a book called "On and off the flight deck" by Henry Hank Adlam. That in the "battle of britain" two FAA Hurricane squadrons fought !! and 65 FAA pilots fought in RAF squadrons
I'm afraid that either your book is incorrect Scouse, or you’ve mis-read it.

804 and 808 sqns were attached to Fighter Command during the Battle and both are officially recognised as having been in the Battle; their crests appear on the excellent BoB Memorial on the Thames Embankment. However, both flew Fairy Fulmars rather than Hurricanes with 804 converting to Grumman Martlets (Wildcat) in late October (31 Oct being the closing date for what the UK recognised as the BoB). Both sqns were based in the North of Scotland defending Scapa Flow and other Naval facilities and hence did not see any combat.

However, you are correct that RN pilots (around 50 iirc) augmented RAF fighter sqns, gaining kills in both Spitfires and Hurricanes with some paying the ultimate price. This was part of a general effort to increase the numbers of aircrew available to Fighter Command. I suspect that the (relatively) experienced Sea Gladiator, Fulmar and Skua pilots were far more welcome to hard pressed fighter sqns than many of the highly inexperienced RAF replacement pilots! Other pilots were transferred from RAF Army Cooperation, Coastal, Training and even Bomber Commands in addition to the large numbers of foreign pilots that are generally well known. Incidentally, the list of aircrew numbers and nationalities at the end of the BoB Film is inaccurate.

Finally, I could also point out that the RAF contribution to Taranto is arguably even less well recognised post war than that of the FAA in the BoB!! :wink:

Regards,
MM
 

sgtpepperband

War Hero
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#17
More fuel to the fire... :wink:

Torygraph: "Battle of Britain was won at sea said:
The Battle of Britain was not won by the RAF but by the Royal Navy, military historians have concluded, provoking outrage among the war's surviving fighter pilots.

Challenging the "myth" that Spitfires and Hurricanes held off the German invaders in 1940, the monthly magazine History Today has concluded that it was the might of the Navy that stood between Britain and Nazi occupation.

The view is backed by three leading academics who are senior military historians at the Joint Service Command Staff College teaching the future admirals, generals and air marshals.

They contend that the sheer numbers of destroyers and battleships in the Channel would have obliterated any invasion fleet even if the RAF had lost the Battle of Britain.

The idea that a "handful of heroes saved these islands from invasion" was nothing more than a "perpetuation of a glorious myth," the article suggests.

"Many still prefer to believe that in the course of that summer a few hundred outnumbered young men so outfought a superior enemy as solely to prevent a certain invasion of Britain. Almost none of which is true," reports Brian James, the author.

Dr Andrew Gordon, the head of maritime history at the staff college, said it was "hogwash" to suggest that Germany failed to invade in 1940 "because of what was done by the phenomenally brave and skilled young men of Fighter Command".

"The Germans stayed away because while the Royal Navy existed they had not a hope in hell of capturing these islands. The Navy had ships in sufficient numbers to have overwhelmed any invasion fleet - destroyers' speed alone would have swamped the barges by their wash."

Even if the RAF had been defeated the fleet would still have been able to defeat any invasion because fast ships at sea could easily manoeuvre and "were pretty safe from air attack".

While admitting it was an "extremely sensitive subject", Dr Christina Goulter, the air warfare historian, supported the argument. "While it would be wrong to deny the contribution of Fighter Command, I agree largely that it was the Navy that held the Germans from invading," she said.

"As the German general Jodl put it, so long as the British Navy existed, an invasion would be to send 'my troops into a mincing machine'." Any challenge to the long-held theory that the 2,600 pilots of Fighter Command defeated the might of Germany would be subject to "more than a modicum of hostility", she added.

The Battle of Britain was "a sacrosanct event" for the RAF, like Waterloo for the Army and Trafalgar for the Navy.

It inspired Churchill to say: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

Although six destroyers were lost during the evacuation of Dunkirk in May 1940 this was due to them being stationary as they picked up troops.

Tackling capital ships would have been an even greater task because at the time the Luftwaffe, unlike the Japanese during the destruction of the fleet at Singapore, did not have armour-piercing bombs, the article says.

It has been argued that German minefields strung across the Dover Straits would have prevented the Home Fleet, based at Scapa Flow, from destroying slow troop barges.

But Dr Gordon disputed this saying that Britain had 52 minesweepers and 16 minesweeping trawlers arrayed against four German minelayers.

The disparity between the navies was huge with Britain having 36 destroyers close by and a similar number two days away. The Navy also had five capital ships on hand, whereas the Kriegsmarine had lost or had damaged their battleships.

"Anyway, in an emergency, the Royal Navy steams straight through minefields as they did when pursuing the Scharnhorst," Dr Gordon said. "They have a drill, following line astern. 'Each ship can sweep one mine' is the rather grim joke."

Can you imagine the RN's targets? An invasion fleet of Rhine barges, moving at about two knots over the water, with a freeboard of a few feet. . . an absolute field day for our navy. So that was the nightmare for the German navy. They knew it just couldn't happen."

Prof Gary Sheffield, the JSCSC's leading land warfare historian, said while some Germans might have got ashore it would have been near impossible for them to be re-supplied with the Navy so close by.

The article also argues that while the RAF had 644 fighters to the Luftwaffe's 725 at the beginning of the battle by October 1940 Britain was far out-producing the enemy.

It also said that after the defeat in France in early 1940 it was vital for Britain to have a victory to reassure the public it was winning the war and the RAF fighter pilots were an obvious choice. "In 1940, the total acceptance of the story's simple broad-brush strokes was very necessary," the historian Richard Overy said.

Dr Gordon added: "The RAF's was a substitute victory - a substitute for the certain victory over Sealion, had the Germans been mad enough to attempt invasion."
[Source]
 
#18
There was a fairly lengthy thread on Dr Gordon’s thesis either on here or ARRSE when it was published. Interestingly, the JSCSC academics involved have subsequently stated that they were taken out of context somewhat by the Torygraph.

My own view is that there are very few victories (or indeed losses) which can be ascribed to a specific Component. The RN was most certainly a major factor in German plans and Raeder is on record to that effect. However, some of the assumptions above are deeply flawed if not disingenuous. Whilst the Luftwaffe lacked armour piercing (AP) bombs, Crete less than a year later showed what happened when the Luftwaffe got let loose on surface combatants (one destroyer was sunk by a single bomb from a single low flying bf109!) and much of the damage inflicted on PoW and Repulse by the Japanese was achieved with non-AP weapons and torpedoes. Ironically, the FAA were responsible for the first sinking of a surface combatant by aircraft; this was achieved by Skuas in Norway and I believe that these too did not use AP. Moreover, Germany also possessed torpedo armed aircraft in the shape of He-115s. All would have harried an RN force during the long transit south from Scapa Flow. Significantly, Dr Gordon also conveniently neglects to mention the U-Boat threat or the danger of the Italian Fleet sending assets (although I acknowledge that the latter were largely fixed by the Mediterranean Fleet and would have had to get past Gib).

WWII is littered with examples of what happens to surface combatants lacking air cover and I think it’s pretty naïve to suggest that the RN would not have been subjected to enormous losses before and during engagement without air superiority.

Arguably a greater factor is that I do not think Hitler was ever really serious on an invasion and saw Stalin as his principle target. Moreover, German amphibious capabilities were virtually non-existent with the principle landing vessels also being significantly eroded by Bomber Command low level strikes along the Channel ports (a fact which Raeder persistently complained to Goering about). The only hope for Germany would have been a Crete style airborne assault to seize an airfield and port/beaches followed by a rapid seaborne insertion of troops.

In summary, the RN was a factor in 1940. However, without air cover, Norway, Crete and Force Z suggest the outcome of an RN intervention in any German invasion would have been very different to that proposed by Dr Gordon.

Regards,
MM
 

Seaweed

War Hero
Book Reviewer
#19
I've just finished (re-) reading Ian Cameron's 'Wings of the Morning'. If you ever want to feel proud of the Branch this is the book for you. He gives fair credit to the RAF where due (e.g. reconnaissance of Taranto) and deals fairly with the appalling consequences of the RAF wrecking the development of the FAA between the wars (to my mind partly by taking out of the RN all those young air-minded NOs who would have been in senior positions twenty years later and able to influence the non-aviators), and in particular the RAF refusal to reconnoitre Bergen for the Bismark. I could go on and on - but read the book.

Found my copy £2.50 second hand. Like buying a bag of gold dust.

btw Cameron explains how the FAA invented Pathfinding, in the Western Desert after the RAF had abandoned night bombing because they couldn't hit anything at night other than our own troops.
 
#20
The wholesale centralisation of UK Air Power under a single service in 1918 was undoubtedly a mistake. However, I would suggest that it was an understandable one given that the UK was leading the way in the formation of an independent air force and there was no previous example from which to draw lessons. One of the principle reasons the RAF was formed was to provide a single, cohesive focus for UK Air Power and overcome the overlapping capabilities and appallingly wasteful conflictions in procurement and production that developed between the RFC and RNAS during the latter half of WWI. That the initial answer was a ‘right of arc’ all or nothing one was therefore perhaps no surprise (it could be argued that there are parallels today as the US military struggles to grasp how best to absorb space and cyber).

Realisation that there was still a need for organic air power was reflected in the diverging career structures of RAF personnel and the formation of the Service’s Fleet Air Arm in 1924. However, it must be remembered that both the RN and Army were arguing extremely aggressively for the disbandment of the RAF throughout the 1920s. This was equally flawed and undoubtedly forced the RAF to adopt a ‘siege mentality’ and resist moves for its FAA Branch to be returned to the Admiralty for fear of a wider land grab. Once the FAA was formed properly, a large proportion of RAF FAA Branch officers transferred to the RN.

As far as the FAA use of ‘pathfinding’ over the Western Desert goes, I would suggest that the dropping of flares over targets by a few Albacores and Swordfish hardly equates to the complex electronic warfare and navigation techniques which were already being introduced by Bomber Command by 1942 and which later led to the formation of the Pathfinder Force. Meanwhile, it is a shame Seaweed that you seek to score the usual inter-service points. RAF (and the predominantly land based FAA ops) over North Africa developed rapidly into an exemplar of what would now be called Air Land Interface (ALI) and were widely praised by Montgomery. These tactics subsequently provided the template for most Allied ALI in Burma and Europe.

I sincerely hope that the lessons of the last century are not lost on the authors of the current SDR.

Regards,
MM
 

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