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Thread: Berlin Raid 3/4th Sept 43

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    Default Berlin Raid 3/4th Sept 43

    Hi,
    Just out of curiosity, can anyone tell me which squadron/aircraft, Wynford Vaughan Thomas recorded his broadcast from on the Berlin Raid of 4/4th Sept 43.
    tia........Alan.

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    Hi Alan
    Google images-wynford vaughan thomas, brought up a photo of Thomas in front of a Lancaster of 207 Sqn,"EM-F", ED58? standing with his sound recordist who also went on the flight. 207 Sqn has it's own website and it gives the captain as F/Lt Ken Letford and confirms the a/c as the one from the Berlin raid
    Regards
    Dick
    Last edited by Dick; 2nd August 2011 at 20:04.

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    Thanks Dick, much appreciated

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    Hi Alan/Dick,

    Might be an opportune time to broach this subject. Can anyone fully identify the crew of No.207 Sqn Lancaster ED586:EM-F on 3/4-9-1943 ?

    I have these bits and pieces:

    132892 F/L (Pilot) Kenneth Harold Francis LETFORD
    1101124 -?- (Flt. Engr.) Charles Edward Dean STEWART
    - ? - - ? - (Nav.) "Con" CONNELLY AUST./RAAF ?
    130209 F/O (Air Bomber) William Charles Thomas BRAY ?
    - ? - - ? - (W.Op.) W. SPARKES
    - ? - - ? - (Air Gnr.[MUG]) J FIELDHOUSE
    1452873 Sgt (Air. Gnr.[Rear]) Henry Charles DEVENISH

    BBC War Correspondent - Mr Wynford VAUGHAN-THOMAS
    BBC Sound Engineer - Mr Reg PIDSLEY

    Corrections/additions welcomed.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 3rd August 2011 at 13:07.

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    Hi,

    207 Sqdn Lancaster ED586 EM-F piloted by F/Lt Ken Letford (Acting F/Lt Kenneth Harry Francis Letford 132892 RAFVR). BBC Correspondent Wynford Vaughan-Thomas
    was accompanied by BBC outside sound engineer Reginald Pidsley.

    'bombed Berlin 23.28 hrs (B.S.T.) from 20,000 ft. At same time as bomb run, attacked by an unidentified enemy aircraft, which was claimed shot down by RG Sgt Devenish and MUG W/O Fieldhouse (Devenish reported u/i e/a as 'Bf109' in combat report, but subsequent BCHQ Monthly Supplementary Narrative of Ops acknowledges claim as against 'unidentified enemy aircraft').

    Sgt Devenish was subsequently awarded a DFM, F/Lt Letford a DFC (gazetted 10 Sep '43) and a DSO (gazetted 26 Nov '43, primarily for his actions during a very 'shakey do' on 20-21 Oct '43).

    Cheers

    Rod
    Last edited by RodM; 3rd August 2011 at 02:42. Reason: added info

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    Hi,
    Taking up Dick's suggestion of Google, brought up several forums that discuss whether or not the recording was faked, because of the lack of background noise from the engines, someone even claimed it was not a Lancaster in the photo, but a Manchester, they obviously did'nt do their homework on the serial number.
    I not only have all of this recording, but several others for Stettin, Essen and Kleve. The Essen op of 03/04/43, does have the engines faintly in the background, plus the noise of flak bursts, and at one stage, the sound of shrapnel hitting the a/c, which does bring up the thought, why can we hear the flak and the hits of shrapnel, but not the deafening noise of four Merlins. So what are your views on the fakery accusations, i myself, like to think that the recordings were real.

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    Default Authenticity

    Hi Alan,

    I don't believe the recording was faked either.

    It should be remembered that the recorder was plugged into the intercommunication system and that the sounds were those picked up by the microphones in the oxygen masks that were (no doubt) firmly attached to the faces of the crew members. It becomes a question on whether or not the carbon microphones enclosed within the rubber oxygen masks would necessarily pick up the sound of the engines, or if the recording parameters could be adjusted to not pick up the sound of the engines (let's give the BBC engineer's some credit!).

    I have heard several other (RAF and non-RAF) recordings that are fake and many of these feature the sound of the engines, one of these being of uncertain Canadian origin in which the engine noise and flak exposions can be clearly heard! My point here is that if the original Pidsley recordings had been articfically produced then engine noises would most-likely have been added during the production (as they were in other artificial recordings made for training purposes).

    Probably the first question that needs to be asked before any consideration can be made as to the authenticity of the recordings is: are the surviving digitised recordings faithful to the original master acetate disks? Were any sound effects added during the original post-production process prior to BBC broadcast? From the original acetate masters, copies were made, and the recordings were then prepared for broadcast. After broadcast the parts of the recordings were also pressed onto commerically available LPs that were sold as part of the wings for victory campaign.

    Secondly, what set-up did Pidsley use? i.e. besides plugging into the intercom, were any other microphones installed to record ambient sounds? The BBC did at some point make ambient recordings within the fuselage of a Lancaster in flight that does strongly pick up the sound of the engines. For the 3-4 Sept '43 flight, Vaughan-Thomas did make commentary recordings seperate from the intercom recordings. Of course, the question is whether Vaughan-Thomas recorded these within the aircraft at the time or in a studio after the flight. What is clear is that the Vaughan-Thomas commentaries do feature the sounds of the engines, but these could have been added later.

    Having heard all of the series of Pidsley recordings, the only 'fake' aspect of the entire venture appears to be that the various crews were mostly mindful of what they said while recording was in progress and I expect that they may have been briefed to say such things as 'right on the button' and 'direct hit' and that sort of bullocks after bomb release.

    Cheers

    Rod

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    Hi Rod,
    Thanks for your opinion, and informative explanation. On the subject of the crew being briefed as to what to say, this is where the 83sqdn crew recording differs, you can feel the tension in their voices at one point, and at one stage, the captain says quite clearly (with a bit of venom) "the bastards" this is in reference to the searchlights trying to pick them up. This recording was made on the night of 3/4th April 43, according to the ORB, and not the 25th as stated on the recording, the sound equipment being operated by a Flt/Lt Sweeney.

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    Hi Alan
    On the matter of possible faking,take another look at Thomas on the Google images and there is a photo of him with a BBC mic. in his hand.These were designed to be very directional and could well have cut out any extra noise other than his voice.He could have used it without losing contact with his oxygen mask and the Recorder would have been designed to work with that mic.As to engine noise,I have never flown in a Lancaster, but I do have about 1000 hrs in the derivative Shackleton and the loudest noise in that a/c was the constant hissing of the airflow over the airframe with the engines as a much fainter background.I doubt if there was any soundproofing on the Lanc.,there certainly wasn't much on the Mk1 and 2 Shackletons!! It certainly doesn't mean that there was any faking simply because the engines can't be discerned.The absence of much background noise on the intercom speech may indicate that this was added later as the airflow noise would have been obtrusive when picked up by the mic.in the oxygen masks
    Regards
    Dick
    Last edited by Dick; 3rd August 2011 at 09:07.

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    Hi Alan/Dick,

    yes, the 83 Sqdn recording is probably the most revealing of all, as the tension over such a hot target couldn't be hidden in the voices of the crew. One crew member, in reaction to some of his comrades comments, does say, "steady up a bit"...

    I found it interesting that this Apr 1943 recording was pressed on to a commerical available LP (side one featured a recording of the Harris "reap the wirldwind" speech) during the war, which the public could purchase.

    As far as I'm aware, the only modern commerically available segment of Apr 1943 recording (i.e. that made by and released by CD41 Recordings) was taken from the LP, whereas the full recording was much longer. The original "Colour of War" documentary features a segment of the recording not from the LP, where the navigator says, "The only way to attack this target is through cloud," or some such words.

    Dick, I think you've hit the nail on the head. Unless we understand the technology used (i.e. noise-cancelling or directional mics) and the set-ups, then it is impossible to comment on the authenticity based solely on an absence of engine noises over the intercom.

    What does exist in the recordings are the bumps when the recording head bit into the acetate disks during manouvers.

    Cheers

    Rod

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