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Thread: My First Post - Researching 106, 57 and 35 Pathfinders

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    Default My First Post - Researching 106, 57 and 35 Pathfinders

    Hello all

    My first post - and very long - apologies but I wanted to get as much here as I could.

    I am currently finding out about my two Great Uncles. Brothers Flt Sgt Norman Gale D.F.M [Service No. 1297387] and Flt Sgt Stanley Gale D.F.M [Service No. 1319835].

    So far I know for sure that Norman served in 106 Squadron, 617 Squadron (briefly) and 57 Squadron out of East Kirkby. He was awarded his DFM after an incident in 1943 while serving with 106 Squadron as flight engineer. He was so brave - I have a contemporary newspaper report of what happened and the "ORB" reference to it in in the photobucket link at the foot of this post. My copy of the paper report is too large to attach, so here is the wording (copy also on photobucket):

    "PERSONALIA

    Flight-Sergeant-Engineer Norman Gale, of Bomber Command R.A.F, son of Mr and
    Mrs. Ivor Gale of Manchester Road, Sway, was decorated by the King with the
    Distinguished Flying Medal at a recent Investiture at Buckingham Palace,
    having won the decoration as an immediate award for conspicuous gallantry in
    an operational flight over Berlin.

    His pilot was wounded in the leg and arm and his rear gunner was severely
    wounded, while the bomber was extensively damaged, having a hole in it eight
    feet long through which young Gale nearly fell, as he went about tending his
    wounded comrades and seeing to the engines.

    The pilot bravely stuck to his controls, but at times Norman had to take
    over them when the pilot was overcome with faintness owing to loss of blood.
    Another "spot of bother" was that the tank had also been punctured by flak
    and petrol was leaking from it all the way on the 600 miles journey home,
    the tank being practically dry when the bomber reached England. The pilot
    had to make a forced landing and pancaked in a field but unhappily the
    crippled plane struck some obstacles and burst into flames, the pilot being
    killed.

    Flt./Sergt. Gale struggled miraculously unhurt from the wreckage, but
    despite his dazed and shaken condition he three times fought his way into
    the burning blane, and twice came out dragging injured airmen with him. The
    citation of the award stated: "This airman displayed exemplary conduct
    throughout and his gallant efforts in harassing circumstances were worthy of
    high praise."

    The Seventh son of the seventh son, Flt/Srgt. Gale is one of a family of
    twelve - eight sons and four daughters - and he worked for Mr D. V Cooper of
    Radio installations, Old Milton Road, New Milton, before volunteering for
    the R.A.F"

    The names of the crew he saved (and of the two poor souls who died) are on the ORB also. I will post that on the "main" board too to see if I can find out anything of those men. Sadly Norman was killed during the Revigny raids of July 1944 on board JB318. He is buried in Bassevelle, France. I am sure he must have been with other squadrons before 106 but I don't know what they were.

    Onto Stanley.

    Stanley completed 60 operations as a wireless operator at the end of the war was serving in 35 Pathfinder Squadron.

    A friend has been researching Stanley at Kew and the missions he took part in. His crew acted as "visual centerer" (what is that?). The last mission Stanley did for 35 Squadron on the microfilm reel was 29-30/12/1944 and my friend got as far back as 18-19/07/1944 between which dates Stanley had done 35 raids!! He is going to continue his research on Stanley soon.

    We have a newspaper report from May 1945 which says "he [Stanley] was now an instructor at Warboys (RAF school specialising in training Pathfinder aircrew), which school he himself passed through less than a year ago". I have sent a message to the Warboys reunion website with information in the hope that someone may remember him.

    We do not know yet which Squadron's Stanley was in before 35 - if any - more research required. But given he was training at Warboys the year before it seems that he may have just been in the one squadon?

    Basically I am at the beginning of a journey here and its fascinating and heartbreaking too. I am unfamiliar with all the lingo and terms and with how to go about researching things. I don't have either men's seevice records. I can get hold of Norman's as my mother and aunt are both his closest living relatives as he had no children and all his siblings have passed away. I have the address to write to and that's my next job. Stanley passed away in 1993 - he had children but - such as it is with familes - we have no idea where his son is now to get permission to get his records.. Stanley's son's name is Graham Gale (if you are out there Graham, please let us know if we can!).

    I will probably have questions from time to time and I'll post them on the "main" board. But this really is just what I am about and why I am interested. I have been in touch with Oliver Clutton-Brock also as he wrote a book about the raids in Revigny which mentions JB318 (Len Manning, one of the survivors, tells his story in that book). However after a recent visit to Normam's grave in Bassevelle I met a lady who has a HUGE amount of information about the crash, including contemporary photos of both the wreckage and bits of the plane that people had. She has written a local book about it, which includes contemporary documents, photos and memories of the villagers. It turns out she had been tracing all the crew for years and had succeeded save for Norman Gale. She was very excited to meet me!

    Finally (and sadly) I have very few photos of Norman - just newspaper clippings. I have a photo of Stanley too from a newspaper. We don't know what happened to Norman's medal either which is such a shame. I have listed him on "medaltracker" and will continue to do so as we would love to find its whereabouts.

    What would be a dream would be to find photos of them with the crew in a group shot. I would love that.

    Anyway, it is a wonderful board here (I have been following it for a few days). So many knowledgable people. I do hope that my post has sparked a memory for someone out there or that someone may be able to help my research along. I will definitely be posting on the "main" board as I've skimmed a lot of info here but wanted to give the facts of it all.

    Here is a link to my photobucket site with copies of the pictures, newspaper cuttings etc. All my files were to big to be attached here sadly! There are pictures of Norman's grave there along with a photo of the rememberance board at East Kirkby.

    http://s853.photobucket.com/albums/ab97/Roseland69/

    I will get my other picture of Norman and Stanley up on that site as soon as I can.

    RL

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    hello,

    Congratulations for your efforts. I see that you are doing it the right way, checking the records such as the Operations Records Book.

    About the different Squadrons, I understand your friend is going back in time, starting from the end of the tour of operations then checking in the past. It would also work to check from time to time, if his name appears in the form 541s, or to see if the "postings in " are shown, usually at the end of the form 540 for a said month. If they are (it depends on the O.R.B., some are detailed, others not), then you would have the previous unit. Either a Squadron in the case of the transfer from one to another, or a training unit (HCU for Heavy Conversion Unit), or sometimes a "base" which was more an administrative level.

    It would help to have the Service Record, as it would give you the postings and dates, especially for the training syllabus, which is usually not detailed in units' O.R.B.s. The pupils in each course are usually not named as all, they're only named when there's an accident (often fatal).

    There's a history published for No. 35 Squadron, "We act with one accord".

    No. 35 Squadron was part of the Pathfinder Force. It's likely he started operations with another Squadron of the main force, then was selected for the PFF. Although I have at least one case of the crew directly in a PFF Squadron from training.

    Joss

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    Thank you Joss.

    Yes, my next action will be to apply for Norman's service record (my mother is one of his next of kin as he had no children and his parents and siblings are now all gone). Sadly I can't apply for Stanley's as we don't know the whereabouts of Stanley's son Graham to seek his permission. It may just end up being a mystery which will be disappointing but there's nothing I can do.

    How long does it take to get the record. I've seen it written that waits can be lengthy.... Is it a "how long's a piece of string" type question!?

    I'd love to get a copy of the "we act with one accord" book. But having problems finding it for sale. May get in touch with my local library to see if they can help. Currently reading "Massacre over the Marne" about the Revigny raids, in which Norman and some of his crewmates lost their lives.

    I am also going to get in touch with the squadron associations to see if they can help me.

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    Hello Roseland,

    If you start with contacting the squadron associations,the 35 squadron assiciation war very quick and helpful in responding after a question from me some year and a half ago.I still have the e-mail address of this gentleman so if you are interested in getting it please send me a pm with your e-mail address then I will e-mail it to you.Maybe they could be of some help to you.

    Mike

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    Default Re your great uncle Stan Gale

    This could be your lucky day!

    My dad flew with 35 sqn in Lancaster TL - J for Johnny and his mid upper gunner was one Stan Gale. Now I know you said your uncle was a wireless operator but it seems too much of a coincidence that there should have been 2 Stan Gales in the same squadron?

    Also my dads crew flew their first mission in July 1944 - the same as your Stan - and the Stan my dad flew with died in 1993 so I recon this could well be your uncle!

    If it is he was my dads best mate and slept in the next bunk! I have a photo of my dad with Stan and Ted Herod - the wireless op at a reunion at Graveley around 1990. Sadly Ted passed away in 2005 but my dad is still alive and kicking at 85!

    They only ever flew with 35 sq as when they finished their training at Warboys their pilot, Kiwi Lawson (who was an exceptional pilot) was asked to volunteer for Pathfinder force and his crew all volunteered too!

    The crew all received DFM's or DFC's (for the officers) for their gallantry on the night of 23 Dec 1944. They were part of a top secret all pathfinder mission to Bomb Cologne - if you google that date and cologne you will find out all about it - in fact there is a book about the mission called 'Heroic Endeavors'

    Anyway before I go on get back to me if you think this is your Stan!

    Best regards

    Peter Nicholson
    PS my dad is Lawrence Nick Nicholson and you can read his story on the BBC archive website - just google w/o Nick Nicholson DFM 35 sqn

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    Hi and welcome, Peter. As you probably know, wireless operators also were trained as gunners and often you'll see them described as W/Op/A/G to show both trades.
    That could mean that they are the same.

    I'd suggest that you and roseland try reading the "Gaining a RAF pilots brevet in WW2" on PPRuNe (see: http://www.pprune.org/military-aircrew/329990-gaining-r-f-pilots-brevet-ww11.html) to see the sort of training pilots and other trades went through before being posted onto an operational squadron.

    However, BOTH had namesakes!!

    Name: GALE, STANLEY. Initials: S. Rank: Flying Officer (Air Bomber)
    Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Unit Text: 166 Sqdn.
    Age: 20. Date of Death: 28/11/1944. Service No: 154202
    Additional information: Son of Frederick Walter and Lily Gale, of Hull.
    Grave/Memorial Reference: 1. D. 26. Cemetery: DURNBACH WAR CEMETERY

    106 Squadron Lancaster Mark III, Serial Number: JB146; Squadron Code:ZN-?; Operation Berlin
    31st August /1st September 1943. Delivered 24th August and when lost this aircraft had only a total of 23 hours flying time. Took off approx 20:10 31st Aug 1943 from Syerston. Hit by flak over Berlin and, on return crash-landed 03:00 1st Sept 1943 on the Romney Marshes in Kent. F/O Ham and Sgt Weight were wounded when flak struck their aircraft and both died as a result of their injuries.
    Crew: F/O H.D. Ham (Died of Wounds); Sgt N. Gale; F/O C. Pitman; Sgt J E Jones; Sgt J.W. Weight (Died of Wounds); F/Sgt N.D. Higman; Sgt T. Waller Injured.

    Name: GALE, STANLEY CHARLES. Initials: S C. Rank: Flying Officer (W.Op./Air Gnr.)
    Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Unit Text: 526 Sqdn.
    Age: 28. Date of Death: 22/03/1945. Service No: 176940
    Additional information: Son of Harry Horace and Ellen Gale, of Brighton; husband of Ursula Jean Evelyn Gale, of Portslade.
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Block 2. Grave 1078. Cemetery: HOVE NEW CEMETERY

    Name: GALE, NORMAN HATHWAY. Initials: N H. Rank: Flying Officer (Air Bomber)
    Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Unit Text: 75 Sqdn.
    Age: 30. Date of Death: 08/09/1943. Service No: 151013
    Additional information: Son of Thomas Redstone Gale and Millie Gale, of Bristol; husband of Elizabeth Ellen Gale, of Bishopston. Bristol.
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Sec. J. Grave 278. Cemetery: BRISTOL (CANFORD) CEMETERY

    Name: GALE, NORMAN LESLIE ERNEST. Initials: N L E. Rank: Flight Sergeant (Flt. Engr.)
    Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Unit Text: 57 Sqdn.
    Age: 24. Date of Death: 19/07/1944. Service No: 1297387. Awards: D F M
    Additional information: Son of Ivor and Blanche Gale, of Sway, Hampshire.
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Row 1. Grave 1. Cemetery: BASSEVELLE COMMUNAL CEMETERY
    however, your Stanley survived the War, only passing into the blue in 1993.

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    RL/Peter,
    Both the same crew, i'm also in touch with the son of one of the other crewmembers, if you both contact me by the email address in my profile, i'll see if i can put you in touch with him. This crew were posted in to 35sqdn from 41 Base on 02/07/44.

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    I've been interested in this all my life and have spent the past 25 years researching my dads wartime exploits. It's been facinating! I spent many happy days with Ted Herod who was the Wireless Op on TL- J (Pauls father) - hello Paul if you're reading this! If there's anything you want to know I can probably tell you as I used to take your pop and mine all over the place; we regularly went to London for the annual cenataph march and on to the RAF club in Picadilly for Air Crew breakfast with The Pathfinder Association (sadly now disbanded as there were so few of the old gentlemen left!) We also went to the annual Pathfinder service at RAF Witton, so I was fortunate indeed to have met and chatted first hand with dozens of Pathfinders including one very special Lady - Lady Ly Bennett, the widow of Air Marshall Don Bennett, who I had the honour of sitting next to one year at the RAF club breakfast. She was increadable and obviously cared deeply for all her 'boys' as she called them. So I've been very fortunate indeed! But let me tell you one thing about all the old Pathfinders that Ive had the privilage of meeting; they were all, to a man, very humble gentlemen none of whom considered themselves heros. To them, they were just doing their job.
    Of course as far as I'm concerned they were, and still are, my heros!

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    Hi Peter,
    I have sent you a private mail, look forward to hearing from you.
    Paul (son of Ted-w/op TL-J)

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    Default RAF Register of Associations

    The contacts for the Sqns you are interested in (from the above website):

    35 Sqn I think some is sending you.
    57 Sqn Mr G Lodge, Tudor Gables, 28 Ghyllwood Drive, Bingley, BD16 1NF Tel 01274-565065 and email jgl@btinternet.com
    106 Sqn Mr D Thomas, Newby End, Newby, Penrith, CA10 3EX Tel: 01931-714007 and website www.airops.freeserve.co.uk/mavc/script/afld.htm

    Hope this helps. I have just been transcribing some ORBs for 101 Sqn and can confirm that movements to & from the Sqns are logged at end of month. They also list those who are missing etc plus any decorations so that will cut down your search a little. In the 101 ORB the captains of the planes were listed on op days so if you know the captain of your crew that will help too.

    Dee

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