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Thread: What did RAF Coastal Command do during WW2?!

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    Default What did RAF Coastal Command do during WW2?!

    Is it me but... has RAF Coastal Command been over looked during the centenary celebrations of the Royal Air Force, particularly its role during WW11

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    Robin,

    Fighters (all glamour, red silk lined BD jackets, maps tucked into flying boots)
    Bombers (night after night bravely fighting their way through flak, searchlights, and the Luftwaffe, at enormous cost)
    Fighter-Bombers (supporting the gallant Army with CAS/FGA in the face of enormous odds)
    Any museumanista can make much of that with dioramas (if they still do them?) and lots of touchy-feely stuff.

    Coastal Command (lots, and lots, and LOTS, of long boring hours over a grey sea, in a grey sky, supporting a convoy they could only occasionally see, and interspersed with the odd panic. Killed a lot of crews (including my MAOs!) but not a very large number!).
    Not very interesting for a museumanista.

    Doesn't make for exciting, state-of-the-art graphics, and inter-action panels, etc, etc. Get my drift?

    I might have been a bit hard on the RAFM. But - as the teenager said when prised out of his bedroom into the real world - "I don't think much of the graphics"!!!

    HTH - but I doubt if it will!

    Peter Davies
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    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Peter
    Much more than that. Spectacular PR missions all over Europe, attacks on shipping all over the North Sea and off Norway. Was not ASR also subordinated to CC?
    Franek
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    yes air sea rescue,too, but that's another overlooked story

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    Hello Robin, you may find an old thread on 'RAF in Maritime War' of interest:

    http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/sho...was-it-written

    The thread is 'RAF in Maritime War' narrative at the N.A. When was it written?' from 2015. Your question has highlighted the lack of attention given to CC and the series of volumes in AIR41 at Kew makes very good reading. The volumes have been copied and are (certainly they were, I think still?) available as downloads:
    https://www.mlrsbooks.co.uk/bookstor...t/item867.html

    I have no link with MLRS. Posters in the RAFC thread I mention above found them useful but please read the whole thread as it explains the difficulty of following cited references.

    HTH
    Bruce
    EDIT: If I am not mistaken there were print versions of the series also, haven't seen any for ages.
    Last edited by bruce dennis; 14th May 2018 at 12:00.
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    My somewhat flippant response (at #2) was not meant to denigrate what CC did, and achieved, under the most appalling conditions and shortages, but to exemplify that the RAFM designers, etc, etc, were (probably) not even born by the time WW2 ended. They can, thus, have had no first-hand idea of the conditions under which the military, and civilians, had to work/live at the time. Their undoubted skills in 'museumery' are, therefore, several generations distant from the historical reality. I don't know what their remit was, but it does seem to have been that they should attract, by their displays, etc, the more modern 'museum goers'. My grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, - let alone my children - do not, and will not, look at the same historical problems that I had to look at through the same end of the same telescope. Some of my rellies died in WW2. I remember them!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
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    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Well, person born in 1945 would be 73 now. So it is natural, that they people employed in museums must be younger, but perhaps few volunteers.
    The problem is elsewhere, I believe. The general understanding of the RAF is the Battle of Britain, then Spitfire, then nothing, then fighters, then nothing again, then bombers, then a large gap, then Coastal Command, then another gap, then ferrying and training, and then the rest. There was no glamour in most of the job done by the RAF, and lack of glamour means lack of interest. I did some research on CC operations off Norway, and it was just fascinating, but there are few accounts, few photos, and no interest in general. Unless some interest is jogged by some sort of a block buster movie, nothing is expected to change. Then, the issue is, that there are no aircraft to make such a film. No flying Mossies, no Beaufighters, CGI still levaes a lot for desire. On the other hand, new films look like computer games and are not realistic in any way. I think the time for WWII films is ultimately gone.
    But of course it should look different in a museum. It should tell the story of development of the force, the story of the men, the story an importance of various branches. I have been at Hendon few years ago, and I can comment on the old exhibit only. My opinion is, that while it was an impressive collection of aircraft, it was not telling any story. I have not not learn anything, I just saw a number of old aircraft. Alas, there were no visitors in the museum, so who cares?
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    A Command tasked with recce for the Royal Navy in protection of trade routes outside home waters that in Sept 1939 was still fighting prolonged internal attempts by the FAA to recover RN assets transferred in 1919.

    Starved of investment due to the needs of first Home Chain then Bomber and Fighter Command pre war expansion Coastal Command started the war with less than 300 aircraft (only 170 operational) and was immediately plunged into a futile blockade action.

    Forced to take on additional tasking fumbled by Royal Navy in anti shipping and anti u-boat operations on the run up to Dunkirk, army close support for the evacuation and invasion support bombing missions to allow Bomber Command to conserve it's meagre force.

    When Fighter Command could not carry out their tasking for protecting home water shipping Coastal took on this task also along with long range fighter operations in support of Norwegian operations and then the Photo Recce role.

    Coastal operated from West Africa round the Atlantic, via Iceland to Russia the US Gulf to prosecute the anti shipping and anti uboat war - a wider theatre than all the other Home Commands covered.

    All while trying to retain assets constantly being diverted to Bomber and Fighter needs.

    By 1942 Coastal had taken over operational control of RAF marine craft and associated air sea rescue services - saving over 11,000 souls from the sea by May 1945.

    In 1944 to support D Day Coastal stopper patrols prevented the U;boats leaving French ports and getting into the landing forces.

    By April 1945 the Command that started the war with only 170 operation aircraft had so disrupted enemy shipping that it laid up in Fjords at daybreak. The northern scottish wings scoured in the coast sending outrider Mossies to find the shipping in the Fjprds then when found Warwick with airborne lifeboats would drop flare paths on the sea at dawn to lead in the single operation Wing of typically one Mustang Squadron , two Beaufighter squadrons and two Mosquito squadrons in one massed attack before withdrawing under Warwick AS/R cover.

    Waiting was a similar Wing with identical assets to continue the attack if needed.

    The motto of Constant Endeavour was upheld until Strike Command took over.

    Ross
    Last edited by Ross_McNeill; 14th May 2018 at 21:03.
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    thank you all for the feedback. Dad actually flew with Coastal Command and the MAEE during the war. I do feel that the exploits of Coastal Command is being overlooked during the centenary of the RAF. It deserves a memorial of some kind.

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    The lack of adequate aircraft when Coastal Command was first formed didn't help its reputation. They did undertake bombing missions using their Beauforts but it was usually coastal targets in the occupied countries. Things did improve with the Beaufighter and Mosquito and the formation of strike wings. I wonder if the general public are aware that the strike wings were Coastal Command?

    The anti-submarine war was a crucial part of their duties but I can't say I recall any stats regarding their effectiveness. However it should be said that the North Atlantic is a bit big bit of water and spotting a periscope or schnorkel in that lot is remarkable, actually sinking a submarine even more so. It has been said that the deterrent effect of air cover, both from Coastal Command and the Fleet Air Arm caused submarines to stay submerged during daytime.

    There is the sad side to those long missions where nothing happens for hours, many crews never returned and the reasons would never be known. Did they get shot down, did they sink a submarine or was it just mechanical failure? If they did manage to bail out and get to a dinghy how long did they survive before they died?

    One good thing though is that After The Battle produced a book on Coastal Command Airfields.

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