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Thread: RAF 151 Wing

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    Default RAF 151 Wing

    I am searching for any records of the personnel who went to Murmansk with Hurricanes destined for the airfield at Vaenga in 1941. I know that a film 'Hurricanes to Murmansk' exists and that this was made by a MA film student at Kingston University, has anyone seen it, and if so does it include information about the ground crews and radar experts who went?

    I believe that my relative, Frederick Anderson, went on the first Arctic convoy code-named Dervish, which sailed on 21st August 1941, that the aircraft went on HM aircraft carrier Argus, and that personnel went on board the other cruisers and destroyers. Churchill had sent RAF Wing 151 at Stalin's request but later the story of 151 Wing was suppressed by Stalin and buried in the United Kingdom because of the Cold War. Veterans were all sworn to secrecy and threatened with a court martial if they ever said anything, and this makes it very difficult to discover more.

    Any help much appreciated,

    Pauline.

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    There have been a number of works published on this trip, but the emphasis is understandably on the fighter pilots. The most recent and most thorough is Operation Benedict, by Eric Carter with Anthony Loveless, but your relative does not appear in the index. Published by Hodder and Stoughton ISBN 978-1-444-78513-5, it contains a very useful list of references. I suggest a letter to Mr Loveless care of the publishers is your best way to obtain help.

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    Thank you Graham,

    It is kind of you to try to help. Operation Benedict certainly sounds like a good read so I shall have to acquire a copy, but I doubt if Antony Loveless will know any more as he was the ghost writer, and I really am interested in the operations on the ground without which the aircraft would not have been able to fly. My relative, Andy, was according to my cousin, a guard escort for the spare parts which went with the Hurricanes, one of the 550 RAF and ground crew who made the airfield at Vaenga their home for four months.

    I am extremely proud of Andy and can hardly believe that I actually knew such a brave young man. He later served in Bomber Command and was killed on a raid to Dusseldorf 11/12 June 1943.

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    I know a pilot, who went with the wing, but perhaps the best way would be to obtain his service record from MoD? You would need next of kin agreement, I guess.

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    Thank you Franek,

    Yes, you are right, my cousin could ask for her husband's service record free of charge, but so far I have not liked to ask her to do this as she is now 92 years old and in poor health so I am trying to fill in details of what I already know myself. This particular query really arose because of my interest in the history of 151 Wing and the journey to Murmansk which your pilot friend must have experienced. From what I have read conditions on the convoy were horrendous, and my cousin does say that they came under attack.

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    Pauline,

    I don't know if this will make you change your mind in respect of the service record, but it would not contain any personal details such descriptions of operations or voyages in which an individual took part. It consists, basically, of a list of stations and units at which the person served (together with dates), sometimes medical details (ie in hospital for, say, treatment to burns), awards and assessments. It would be similar to the example which can be seen in the sticky "Service Record Thread" at the top of this page (alternatively http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/sho...-Record-Thread ).

    Brian

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    Brian,

    It is kind of you to respond and what you say is the reason why I have not, thus far, tried to obtain Sgt Frederick Anderson's service record. I know, as I have my own father's service record, that it does not help at all with regard to operations or voyages, and those are really the things that I am interested in. I know, from what my cousin has told me and from a letter written by Andy to my mother and me, that he went to Murmansk with the Hurricanes in 1941, that he was later at Branscombe in Devon until the first week of October 1942, that he then went to 14 ITW at Bridlington, and then to 1660 CU at Swinderby. The next record of him is as Sgt Norbert Clement Keefe's gunner in March 1943 at Wickenby.

    I do know that Sgt Keefe flew Lancaster PH-G into Wickenby from Beaulieu on the 19th April 1943 and it is assumed that Sgt Anderson would have been with him on that occasion but ops records for Wickenby for April 1943 are thought not to exist. It is likely that the aircraft had been on a mission to Pizen from Wickenby on the previous day.

    I have already asked lots of questions about all of this on the forum so I apologise for doing so again but I am ever hopeful that a new member may know more. I understand, from my cousin, that Andy was a member of an Australian crew and that they all wore a kangaroo badge, she also says that he had a friend, Norbert, so this presumably ties in with Sgt Norbert Clement Keefe who was Australian. Sgt Keefe was lost without trace on a raid to Stettin on 21 April 1943 but Andy was not a member of his crew on that occasion. The next record of Andy that I have is on the raid to Dusseldorf 11/12 June 1943 when Lancaster W4373 was lost. It was his first flight with the crew of Patrick Ford who had flown four previous missions with three other MUs JOLLY on 23 May 1943, HATCH on 25 and 27 May 1943 and WALKER on 29 May 1943. I would be interested to know why there was such a high turnover in mid upper gunners and whether this was normal.

    Many thanks for the help.

    Pauline.

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    Default 151 Wing NA file

    My apologies if you have already followed this, Pauline, but AIR 8/840 is titled Murmansk: No 151 Wing Operations, and covers 1 August 1941 to 28 February 1942.

    Brian

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    Many thanks Brian, that certainly sounds as if it would be worth following up, I didn't know about it before so I am very grateful to you.

    Pauline.

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    I would not dismiss value of personal files so easily, but it is important to request copies of original documents, and not a summary. If you can get them for free, then get them. I understand, that you can prepare paperwork for your cousin just to sign it, so it should not make any trouble for her.

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