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Thread: Before D-Day

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    Default Before D-Day

    I am trying to find out about actions that took place leading up to D-Day. In particular preparing secret fuel dumps in France prior to the invasion. A pilot who was involved spoke of delivering drums of fuel to the resistance who were preparing the dumps for the invasion. He also spoke of hiding from German patrols. As he is unfortunately no longer with us I cannot obtain any further details. Can anybody tell me what squadrons would have been involved and what type of aircraft used.

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    I think one of the primary units for operations where aircraft landed in occupied territory was 161 SD Squadron. SD indicating Special Duty units.

    I'll point you at the Carpet Bagger Museum for a bit of background.

    http://harringtonmuseum.org.uk/CarpetbaggerMuseumHomePage.htm

    http://harringtonmuseum.org.uk/HistoryTempsford.htm

    Dennis
    Dennis Burke
    - Dublin

    Foreign Aircrew and Aircraft Ireland 1939-1945
    www.ww2irishaviation.com

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    Phillip/Dennis,
    Intrigueing question(s). You have to remember that throughout Apr/May 44 the Allies were trying to convince the Germans that the invasion (and all were agreed there would be one!) would be in the Pas de Calais. Twice (if not more!) the bombing and interdiction aerial effort was directed to targets north of the R Seine as on to those in the Normandy area. The signals from Montgomery's HQ (nr Portsmouth) were actually transmitted by land-line to Kent before being radio broadcast. This apparent Kent location was noted by the Germans. It fitted their (and Hitler's) logical thinking!
    There is no doubt that the delivery of supplies to the Resistance was "beefed-up" prior to D-Day. However, if the Op FORTITUDE plans were properly co-ordinated (and there is little evidence that they weren't!!) then one would expect twice (at least) the Resistance supply delivery effort to be targeted N of the Seine as against that in Normandy and the Cotentin Peninsular. I will re-read the appropriate bits my "Struggle For Europe" by Chester Wilmot in an attempt to see if there is any mention of fuel deliveries - apart from the normal weapons, ammo, grenades, and explosives. The Resistance had few vehicles. The amount that could be delivered by air, if destined for the Allied forces, would probably have kept a tank going for about 200 metres!!!! Why then spend all that time and effort on PLUTO (Pipe Line Under The Ocean) to deliver fuel across the invasion beaches.
    This could be good, new, stuff but I have to say I treat such reports (at the moment!) with some scepticism!
    Tell me more.
    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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    Thank you Dennis and Peter. The problem is that this is at the very least third hand. This is from a Great Neice of the airman concerned. I am trying to identify the rank and squadron of the pilot. My understanding is that he flew bombers and transports, and that he was shot down into the English Channel in early 1945 after which he spent 7 months in hospital and never flew again.
    His name was Reginald E. Bell, he was born in December 1900, and he gained his RAF wings in 1918, I am uncertain if he remained in the RAF during the inter war period. Photographs of him taken about 1918 only show him in flying gear with no rank showing. I have not found any record of any WW1 medals.

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    Phillip,
    I really wish I could remember where I read it, but I definitely recall an account of taking fuel to the French resistance to enable them to carry out an operation during the period of FORTITUDE. I donít believe the quantity was specified, but the impression was of a small quantity, possibly just a couple of barrels. The fuel was ordinary pump gas for road vehicles, concocted to have the same octane and colouration as the standard French issue of the time.

    Much more likely, especially since the story is third hand, was that the timeline is muddled and the pilot concerned was taking fuel to the forward bases in the latter part of the war in Europe.

    I am of course just guessing, but possibly this is what your contact was involved with, rather than a 'secret' fuel dump for Allied use. Either way, it should be interesting so I hope you keep us up to date.

    Bruce

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    hello,

    I don't know for the R.A.F., and I'm sure fellow forumites will tell, but the U.S.A.A.F. flew fuel transport missions in september 1944. This must have been the aerial part of "Red Ball Express" which was by road. I have a Liberator, B-24H 41-28746, coded 2U-O, named "Jamaica", 466th B.G., 785th B.S., which crashed near Dunkirk on 25th September 1944 on the return leg from such a trip to Eastern France. 176 B-24s took off from U.K. to bring jerrycans on the continent, and flew back empty. The Americans labelled these "Fuel Trucking Missions".

    But this is well after D-Day, not before.

    Joss

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    Thanks again for everybody's help. Bruce, Operation FORTITUDE sounds most likely, he recounted having to hide from the Germans during the action. He never piloted an aircraft again after he was shot down into the channel in early 1945. It does sound as if he flew with one of the SD squadrons, which I will have to investigate further. Is there any list of RAF aircraft losses that may point me in the right direction?

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    Operation FORTITUDE was the deception scheme set up to make the Germans believe that the Allied landings would take place in the Pas-de-Calais and that any attack in Normandy would be nothing more than a diversionary feint that could be safely ignored. A look in the index of Roger Hesketh's book (FORTITUDE The D-Day Deception Campaign) yields nothing about fuel dumps or fuel supplies to the Resistance. There may well have been such fuel missions but they would not necessarily have been part of FORTITUDE.
    Ian Macdonald

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    I don't know the answer, but I would look at the claim very closely. If the pilot had been born in 1900 and gained his wings in 1918, he would have been 54 at the time of the alleged operation, and I suspect it would have been very unlikely that he was flying operationally (other than a desk) in 1944.

    Given the logistics of OVERLORD - the men and machines on the ground - I suggest that the operation described would be highly unlikely as it would involve considerable quantaties of fuel requiring large numbers of aircraft for its delivery. Not exactly the same thing, but consider how many aircraft were involved in the Berlin airlift.

    In this instance small fuel dumps would be neither here nor there in the grand scheme of things.

    The secrecy surrounding both NEPTUNE and OVERLORD was intense, and it is unlikely that the High command would have countenanced any minor operation that would have threatened the secrecy.

    I'm simply trying to look at it from a logical point of view, but so much has been written about both operations it would be surprising if details of this alleged operation had not reached the public domain by now.

    Brian

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    I'm with Brian on this one. The SD squadrons generally used bomber aircraft for the dropping of supplies to the Maquis and to have created fuel dumps of any worthwhile size would have involved many aircraft. Added to this is the logistical problem of transporting the fuel to the dumps from the drop zones. Resistance groups were always hard put to find sufficient transport for any operations they undertook and large numbers of aircraft dropping supplies suggests large numbers of vehicles to transport those supplies, i.e. convoys. I cannot imagine the Germans being unaware of such a large number of unauthorised vehicle movements.
    The security aspect, as pointed out by Brian, is also an important factor. When a crossword compiler in the UK underwent severe questioning from security personnel because the answers to some of his clues were codewords associated with Overlord, I am inclined to believe that the chance of the Germans intercepting quantities of fuel being transported in their territory would have been too much of a give-away for it to have even been considered.
    I have to say that I believe the only flight involved in this matter is, or was, one of fancy. However, I stand to be corrected by anyone who knows differently.
    Bill.

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