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Thread: A Bomber Command Mystery please help

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    Default A Bomber Command Mystery please help

    Squadron Leader Richard Kemp Wildey was with 78 Squadron in the summer of 1940 and wrote home to his wife that an article had been written in the Sunday Express, 15 September 1940 about one of his Ops. The Ops in question was a raid on Berlin and the title of the article was 'I bombed Berlin'.

    The mystery is this...the Ops was not recorded in Richard's log book. It was also not recorded in the Squadron's ORBs either. So when did he bomb Berlin? It must have been between the 26 August 1940 and 15 September 1940 because this is the only time frame into which he could have been on such an Ops.

    Could it be that he was given instructions not to record this Ops? I am really stuck on this one and would really appreciate some help.

    I have the log books, letter and Sunday Express article. If you think you could help please send me a private message.

    Thank you.

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    According to Bomber Command War Diaries, 17 Whitleys attacked the Potsdamer Station in Berlin and Bremen Docks 0n 10/11 Sep 1940.

    Malcolm

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    Can confirm, from ORB, that Wildey never went to Berlin on any occasion between July and Sept 15th. The squadron sent out 7 aircraft on the night of 10/11th Sept, 4 to Berlin, and 3 to Bremen. Wildey was one of the three who went to Bremen. Of the 4 that went to Berlin, 2 found their target, 1 bombed Hamburg Docks, 1 bombed Hanover Railway station. Of the 3 that went to Bremen, Wildey and another found the target, and 1 bombed the BMW works at Spandau. But Wildey never went to Berlin at any time leading up to 15th Sept.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanW View Post
    Can confirm, from ORB, that Wildey never went to Berlin on any occasion between July and Sept 15th. The squadron sent out 7 aircraft on the night of 10/11th Sept, 4 to Berlin, and 3 to Bremen. Wildey was one of the three who went to Bremen. Of the 4 that went to Berlin, 2 found their target, 1 bombed Hamburg Docks, 1 bombed Hanover Railway station. Of the 3 that went to Bremen, Wildey and another found the target, and 1 bombed the BMW works at Spandau. But Wildey never went to Berlin at any time leading up to 15th Sept.
    Hi Alan,

    I understand this as I have read the ORB but Wildey wrote to his wife the following, "Did you see the Sunday Express yesterday? Godfrey Winn has written a very fine account of my flight..." The article in question goes on to explain that he was piloting a Whitley that bombed Berlin; the article starts thus, "I am the Captain of a Whitley Bomber. Two nights ago we bombed Berlin. There were five of us in my aircraft. My air gunner was a Scot, the second pilot was a Canadian from Calagary, the radio operator was an Irishman, the navigator hailed from New Zealand. I am a Londoner myself..."

    It doesn't make sense for him to have made up the entire article but I am puzzled because neither the ORB nor his log books record him as being on a Berlin Raid between 26 August and 15 September 1940, but according to his letter to his wife and the article he was certainly on a raid over Berlin.

    What is the liklihood that his involvement was not officialy recorded?

    Thank you.

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    There is no reason for his involvement in a raid to Berlin, not to be recorded in the ORB. Why cover his trip up, when others from the squadron who went to Berlin, were recorded. I cannot comment on his letter to his wife, but never believe what you might read in a newspaper, especially in WW2, (come to think of it, and nowadays) as stories are not only made up, but often blown out of proportion. The way he describes his multi national crew list also has a slight "tinge", of propaganda in it, but who knows ! and there is also the fact, that he did not record it in his logbook, and i can't think of a valid reason why he should omit it, unless of course he forgot, which is very doubtful. I can only suggest doing, what you may have already done, and that is to match dates listed in his logbook, against his ops recorded in the ORB. It may be, that the ORB is wrong, and that he went to Berlin on 9/10th Sept, and not Bremen as recorded, but if he has Bremen in his logbook for that night, then that is exactly what he did.
    Last edited by AlanW; 24th August 2013 at 06:23.

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    Could it also be that he did describe his raid on Bremen but the newspaper decided to change his target to Berlin, because that would make for better reading with the British public.

    Just a thought.

    Alex

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    Alex

    agree with you newspaper reporter prob at Sqn to record "mission to Berlin" interviewed Widley on return assumed all crews to Berlin and wrote that down


    Would make since 10/11 raid to hit Sunday 15th publication

    It my limited experience dailys had about a day gap to report incidents they physically reported on (i assume to allow censor clearance) however if they reported Air Ministry bulletins could be quicker but these were prepared in house by RAF so clearance probably faster

    Paul
    Last edited by paulmcmillan; 24th August 2013 at 10:16.

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    Ok, so the article reads: "The Potsdam railway station and all its sidings was our main objective...we had made three runs across the city..As we turned we could see the wide road they call the East-West Axis, amazingly clear in the moonlight and the Tiergarten spread out below".

    I can email the article if people send me a direct message.

    Cheers,

    Daniel.

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    Default The Times; 12 September 1940

    It would be interesting to know what the ORB says about conditions, as The Times for 12 September carried a rather different story.

    All the bombers encountered heavy (overcast?) cloud up to 10000 ft over the North Sea which thinned to 'a certain amount of broken cloud and heavy haze" over Berlin. "The reflection of the moon on the city's lakes enabled the pilots to obtain their bearings with little difficulty".

    The report continues "Arriving over the Potsdam Station and its network of sidings, the pilots dropped flares by which they identified their targets." The attack started at 23.45 (BST?) - There was 68% moon and I calculate the moonset was at 23.09 GMT.

    During the attack on Bremen "several hits on the docks were made , in spite of bad weather."

    Brian

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