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Thread: Route Turning Point at Reading

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    Default Route Turning Point at Reading

    Hello All,
    I have noted, over the years, that the town of Reading features very often as a TP in the Bomber Command outbound routes when on their way to targets in occupied Europe.
    It is sometimes followed by Beachy Head. Now Beachy Head is easily distinguishable (even on the very early airborne nav radars!). Reading is not so easily distinguishable.
    Was some form of marker in place at Reading?
    Clearly, any electronic/radio beacon/marker, if/when switched on, would alert the Luftwaffe that they were about to have a visitation? So was the marker visual? Perhaps one (or more) searchlights coned at the TP. This would work on a night of few clouds and good vis. But what if Reading was covered in winter clag?
    Now I live on the outskirts of Reading, and am reputed to have been a military meteorologist. There were a number of RAF sites in/near Reading. They were mostly HQs filled with “scribblies” doing their best during the day. The airfields were at Woodley and Theale (both Trainers).
    I might have sufficient energy/enthusiasm to go and look for any ‘marker’ sites (and report back!).
    Does anybody know how Reading (in total blackout?), as a TP, was actually marked so as to be distinguishable from the air on the traditional “Dark and Stormy night”??
    TIA
    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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    Default Re: Route Turning Point at Reading

    Peter: On the raid to Chemnitz, March 5/6, 1945, dad’s navigator’s logs confirmed they passed over Reading at 1755 hrs on a route pretty much due south. They passed over the English coast at 1818 hours. Fixes over England using Gee were “plentiful” for want of a better word. In a 50 minute stretch from north of Reading to the English coast Seale recorded 7 fixes.

    The bigger problem was over Germany, outside of Gee range. It was all about H2S at that time, and although some researchers claim it wasn’t used, it was. Only 5 Group had LORAN and from what records I have looked at there were equipment and beam issues with tat as well.

    Jim
    Last edited by JDCAVE; 29th September 2021 at 16:39.

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    Default Re: Route Turning Point at Reading

    Jim,
    Tks that. By 5/6 Mar 45 there were plentiful electronic navaids. They were "on" 24/7, so could give give no warning of any impending raid. I am more concerned with the earlier period when such navaids were not yet invented, or in their infancy. I've actually flown (many years ago) on a night NAVEX in a Lincoln over Reading. Could see it from miles away! Even, at night, the curve of the River Thames was visible! Was the "Blackout" actually all that efficient? The reason for my query was that I assumed that the Nav would want to be absolutely certain he was actually o/hd the TP (Reading) to check all his instruments before launching out into hostile territory.
    We'll see what turns up!
    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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    Default Re: Route Turning Point at Reading

    Peter,
    I have just received a copy of the book "The Pilot Walked Home" by Dennis Hornsby DFC; an ex 78 Squadron pilot who moved to 76 Squadron and was shot down on the night of 3/4th November 1943 and evaded capture and made it back to the UK with the aid of evasion lines.

    He recalls the fateful night and mentions Reading as a turning point, stating that they have to be at 16,000 feet by the time they reached Reading. He doesn't mention any electronic aids in finding it and refers to it as "a smudge below showed us to be over Reading." He then states "The searchlights were up and made a cone to show us the concentration point."
    From a general navigation point, he mentions checking a crib card of expected positions, times etc, with output from the Navigator, and comments that his findings are within a few minutes of the Navigators findings.

    Daz
    Last edited by 78SqnHistory; 29th September 2021 at 17:56. Reason: Additional info

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    Default Re: Route Turning Point at Reading

    Tks for all the info!
    So it looks as if the TP was marked by a searchlight cone. OK.
    Now was this just at Reading? Or were the other regular raid outbound TPs similarly marked?
    So who controlled the searchlights for RAF Nav purposes. Must be some files hidden deep in TNA on the subject?
    I don't need them (the searchlight cones answers my question!), but somebody might?
    Many years ago I did a considerable amount of work for DOBDA (Defence Of Britain Database & Archive). That located (to my memory) a lot of the HAA gun-sites. Did it 'do' the search-light locations as well?.
    Thanks to all for their helps!
    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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