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Thread: Was FIDO used at Graveley on 24/12/1944?

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    Default Was FIDO used at Graveley on 24/12/1944?

    Was FIDO used at Graveley on 24/12/1944?

    Do the met forecasts still exist for that day? I am trying to establish if FIDO was used to assist the take off of ten 35 squadron Lancasters target Cologne. It is the day they lost PB366 (A T Kenyon ) and crew. The Aircrew Remembrance Society site suggests it was, but the ORB records do not record its use. If it was in use it could possibly explain why a relatively inexperienced crew crashed about a mile from the runway just after take off, or engine failure could account for it. The aircraft hit the roof of a farm house as it crashed sending debris into a nearby house, noted to be an oil cooler by the occupant. The wings were torn away by some tall trees and the aircraft disgorged its bomb load with them rolling into the ditch along the St.Neots to Offord Road, one hitting another farmhouse. Fortunately whilst primed they had not been activated by the usual free fall from bombing height, but all the crew perished.
    Any information or potential source of such would be gratefully received.
    TIA
    Paul H.

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    Default FIDO at Graveley on 24/12/1944?

    Hi Paul

    Very short answer (sorry, late for leaving for work - will look for more detail later unless others reply beforehand) - according to "Flying through Fire" about FIDO, yes it looks like FIDO was in use, first on the morning of 24th (overnight 23-24), and then again during the daytime on 24th.

    Regards

    Ian

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    Paul, Hi,
    It is very, very, unlikely that the detailed forecast issued either by Group to Graveley, or by Graveley to it's Units will have survived. The CoI may, however, contain references to the forecast. A very generalised forecast for the whole country was issued, daily, by the Met Office during the War (but Restricted).
    It is probable that the Graveley Met Office Daily Register of Observations survives in the Met Office Archives (I'm trying to find out). If it does then it is possible that the Observer will have noted variations in Visibility in the Remarks Column. The synoptic chart for 24 Dec 44 shows a very slack anticyclonic situation, which often causes widespread fog. And bear in mind that most domestic heating in those days was by coal/coke - much pollution!
    Lot's of 'ifs' and 'buts', but I'll let you know as soon as I hear anything.
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Hi

    If you go on line to the national archive there is a piece AIR 14/2777 which covers apparently, although I have'nt looked, FIDO operation from Jan 44 to Sept 45.

    Thanks for this............never realised it was used for take off as well................must have been pretty exciting!
    regards Peter

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    Paul

    Stumbled across this forecast for London 1944 (http://www.london-weather.eu/article.85.html), suggesting that freezing fog was a factor over the Christmas period (although I recognise that Graveley was not in the London area):

    December - Cold and dry with near normal sunshine.
    Mean Temperature 3.6C
    Monthly Highest 12.5C Total Rain 30 mm
    Monthly Lowest -4.9C Total Sun 41 hrs
    The month began with mild, changeable weather, and on the 3rd the maximum temperature rose above 12C. At the end of the second week a quieter spell of weather developed with some dense fogs occurring. However, a short unsettled interlude on the 17th produced nearly 12mm of rain. On the 20th, the fog was very dense, and over the Christmas period there was freezing fog. On both the 26th and 29th the maximum temperatures were only minus 0.8C.

    Regards

    Pete
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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    Default Graveley, 24/12/1944

    Hi again Paul

    A couple more thoughts ...

    1. You say the 'ORB' doesn't refer to any FIDO-assisted take-off. Do you mean the 35 Sqn ORB? Have you checked the Station ORB as well? I'd think that might be more likely than the Sqn ORB to mention it if FIDO was being used.

    2. In my research on RAF Woodbridge I found (well actually it's pointed out in the aforementioned "Flying Through Fire") that there are files down in the archives at the Imperial War Museum which contain things called "FD1" Reports which I think the different airfields were supposed to fill out whenever they fired up FIDO. I don't recall seeing any a/c take-offs shown in the Woodbridge FD1's, but then I have only been researching 'arrivals' there. The reports are quite interesting. They seem to have been official forms, and generally (although the level of detail varies a little bit) include details on weather conditions, visibility (before and after firing-up FIDO), times on/off, gallons of petrol used (phenomenal amounts!), and for quite a few of them a list of aircraft (certainly ones landing in my case). As I recall it they have files from the different airfields so I'm sure they'll have papers for Graveley.

    As you might know, you have to pre-book to go to the IWM Archives, but it was a very useful day as far as I was concerned. Unfortunately you can't photograph the papers but you can pay them to take photocopies for you.

    Hope this helps

    Ian

    ps Although Peter refers to an 'AIR 14' file at Kew, I haven't come across any FD1's there. That's not to say they haven't got any, I just haven't found them if they are there and mine were at the IWM. I suspect Peter's file might be about FIDO usage in general terms and won't contain (many, if any of) the more-specific FD1 reports produced by the individual airfields. But I'd like to be proved wrong on that.
    Last edited by ianh; 7th September 2012 at 13:54. Reason: 'ps' added

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    ianh, Hi,
    When I first joind the Met Office in the early 1950's I was posted to Wittering. Wittering, at that time, had Lincolns (not too dissimilar, from a Pilot's viewpoint, to a Lancaster?). We used to get the same sort of clag (sometimes freezing) as was clearly at Graveley for this Op. We had a Wg Cdr Flying (a full-blooded early native Canadian - or whatever they call them) who, on one these foggy mornings roared down the runway in his car (at close to Lincoln take-off speed!) and came back into the Met Office (where the crews were 'muttering') and said "I could see 3 runway lights, I could keep it straight, off you go!". It is just that I'm a bit surprised about the use of FIDO for take-off.
    It might just be that this accident was entirely technical - and not involving airframe, and/or carburettor, icing. But I suspect that the Met made a "Crash Observation" - or should have done! - and that (if the Daily Register survives) it should be in the archives.
    Would like to see the detail of this one exposed!!!!!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Last edited by Resmoroh; 7th September 2012 at 16:56.
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Default Fido

    Hi Peter

    Like the story! : )

    I entirely agree. I'm sure FIDO was initially designed to allow a/c to land safely in poor conditions, so take-off's may well have been comparatively rare. But I've only studied Woodbridge which of course was an emergency landing ground (so no squadrons based there, taking off on ops), so I can't say what it would have been like on those operational bases where they had FIDO.

    I guess it's quite possible that they did use FIDO to permit operational take-off's from those bases, but I wouldn't know how frequently. Presumably it would have depended on how widespread - or local - the fog was, and what the forecast conditions were for return.

    Ian

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    Hello All,

    Met Off Library Archives confirm that the Daily Registers for RAF Graveley are in their possession from Apr 43 - Sep 46. But we have a problem. The Met Team on this forum use Brian (Lyffe) as the PoC with Met O Lib. His computer suffered a serious malfunction a few days ago. It's in dock (prob boiler-clean, and even the horses may have to be re-shod!). He should have it back by next week! We'll keep you in the picture!

    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Last edited by Resmoroh; 11th September 2012 at 16:59.
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
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    Thanks for update Peter, it was 68 years ago so a few more days doesn't seem too bad.
    Paul h

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