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Thread: Boozer

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    Default Boozer

    A few years ago, I was given a copy of the aircraft loss card relating to my uncle who was killed on operations to Hanover during 27 September 1943 in Stirling Mk. III: EF118-EX:O while serving with 199 Squadron. On the card, the special equipment listed was GEE and BOOZER. I have a number of books where GEE is described in some detail but I am trying to find out more about BOOZER. The only information I have is that it was some sort of warning device to alert crews if their aircraft was being tracked by radar.

    Could anyone give me more information re BOOZER including where it was likely to be positioned in a Stirling Mk. III? I would also be interested to find out if BOOZER was used to detect ground based or airborne radar and whether it was considered to be a success by bomber crews.

    Thanks

    Douglas

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    Hi Douglas,

    Boozer was a small red light that lit up when airborne radar illuminated the aircraft.

    The extent of the courage to provide the frequency for detection is astounding.

    The following is the report of the flight and loss of Wellington DV819 on 3rd Dec 1942.

    Special duty flight.
    Operation took place across the N. coast of France to an area near to Frankfurt. The aircraft was engaged on the 18th sortie on a particular investigation, which necessitated the aircraft being intercepted by an enemy nightfighter and up to this sortie, all efforts to get such an interception had failed.

    At 04:31 hrs, the aircraft was in position 4954N 0739E and set course for position 5030N 0737E. The Special Operator, P/O Jordan, had been reporting that he had been receiving signals on his special wireless equipment which he thought were the ones requiring to be investigated. He warned the crew to expect a fighter attack. On this Northerly leg the signals grew stronger and Jordan repeated his warning. A code had previously been arranged, so that if the signals were picked up, the frequency would immediately be sent back to base, it being absolutely vital that this information should reach base at all costs.

    Position 5030N 0737E was reached at 04:42 and the aircraft set course for the homeward leg. The Special Operator passed the coded message to the Wireless Operator for transmission to base, giving in the message the required frequency and that this frequency was very probably the correct one. Jordan warned the crew that his receiver was being saturated and to expect an attack at any moment. Almost simultaneously the aircraft was hit by a burst of cannon fire. The rear gunner gave a fighter control commentary during the attack and identified the enemy as a JU88. Violent corkscrew turns were used as evasive action. Jordan was hit in the arm on this first attack and realising that now there was no doubt at all about the signal being the correct one, he changed the coded message, a change that would tell base that the frequency given was absolutely correct and that it applied without a doubt to the signal being investigated. Although hit in the arm, he still continued to work his sets and to note further characteristics of the signal. The Rear Gunner fired about 1,000 rounds on this attack, but his turret was hit and made completely unserviceable and he was wounded in the shoulder. On the second attack, Jordan was hit in the jaw, but he still continued to work his sets and low the results and told the captain and crew from which side to expect the next attack.

    On the third attack, the front turret was hit and the Front Gunner wounded in the leg. The Wireless Operator went forward to let him out of the turret but he was hit in both legs by an exploding shell and had to return to his seat. P/O Barry, Navigator, then went forward and let Grant out of the turret. Jordan was hit once more, this time in the eye, and although he continued operating his equipment and noting further details of the signal, he realised that he could not continue with the investigation much longer, owing to his condition and seeing that his inter-comm had also been shot away, he went forward and brought back the Navigator and tried to explain to him how to continue operating the equipment and so bring back some more valuable information. By this time he was almost blind but although he tried hard to show Barry what to do, he realised that it was an impossible task and in the end gave up the attempt.

    F/Sgt Vachon had by this time come out of the rear turret and had taken up position in the Astro Hatch, from where he continued to give evasive control but he was hit again in the hand and Barry went back and took over from him in the Astro Dome. During this period the aircraft had lost height from about 14,000 feet down to 500 feet above the ground, violent evasive action still being taken by the captain. After 10 or 12 attacks the enemy aircraft broke off his engagement and disappeared.

    Hits had been scored on the Wellington in 5 or 6 of the attacks, resulting in the following damage:- 1. Starboard Throttle Control shot away (starboard engine stuck at +3 boost all the way home). 2. Port Throttle jammed. 3. Front and rear turrets unserviceable. 4. Starboard Ailerons unserviceable and trimming tabs having no effect at all. 5. Air Speed Indicator reading zero in both positions owing to the pitot head or pipes being holed. 6. Starboard petrol tank holed. 7. Fabric shot and torn away on starboard side of fuselage. 8. Hydraulics unserviceable, 9. Both engines running irregularly. The Wireless Operator Sgt Bigoray, in spite of his injuries, transmitted the coded message back to base but receiving no "R" for it continued to send it in the hopes that it would be picked up. It was received at 05:05 hours.

    The Captain kept the aircraft on the course for home and managed to climb up to 5,000 feet, at which height he came back. At 06:45 hours the aircraft crossed the coast at about 10 miles N.E. of Dunkirk, where searchlights tried to pick it out but these were dodged by evasive action and coming down low over the sea. When they were switched off, the Pilot again managed to gain height. The Wireless Operator put the I.F.F. on to Stud 3, sent out an S.O.S. and a message to the effect that they had been attacked by an enemy aircraft. He again transmitted the coded message in case it had not been received the first time. At approximately 07:20 hours the English coast was reached. The Pilot tested the landing light to see if he could ditch using it, but decided it was impossible. He decided to wait for daylight before ditching and asked the crew if anyone preferred to bail out rather than ditch. The Wireless Operator stated that he preferred to jump, as one of his legs had stiffened up to such an extent that he thought he would not be able to climb out of the aircraft in the water. He made his way to the escape hatch in the rear of the fuselage, from where he intended to jump, but having reached that position he remembered that he had not clamped down the transmitting key and in spite of his injury he returned to his set, clamped the key down, and warned the crew not to touch it. He jumped out over Ramsgate and made a safe landing.

    The pilot ditched the aircraft at approximately 08:24 hours about 200 yards off the coast at Deal. The dinghy inflated but had been holed by cannon fire. The Special Operator tried to make it airtight by holding some of the holes but it was impossible and the crew got out of the dinghy and climbed onto the aircraft. About 5 minutes later a small rowing boat appeared, took them off and rowed ashore.

    The following signal has been received from the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshall Sir Charles Portal, G.C.B, D.S.O., M.C., for P/O Jordan, P/O Paulton, P/O Barry, F/Sgt Bigoray, F/Sgt Grant, F/Sgt Vachon:-
    "I have just read report of your investigation flight carried out on Thursday, 3rd. December and should like to congratulate you all on a splendid performance."
    AIR27/1156

    Regards
    Ross
    The Intellectual Property contained in this message has been assigned specifically to this web site.
    Copyright Ross McNeill 2015/2018 - All rights reserved.

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    Default Boozer

    Hi Ross

    Thank you for your very extensive and interesting reply. It is quite humbling to think this crew were leaving themselves open to attack to enable the frequency to be confirmed. Obviously as BOOZER was brought into service and aircraft were shot down over Occupied Europe and Germany, I would assume that the Germans would have noticed this new aid and then taken steps to counteract its effect. Would the Germans then have started to change the radar frequencies?

    If any other forum members have additional information to add or can answer any of the other points at the start of the thread, I would be very interested to hear from them.

    Best wishes

    Douglas

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    Default Boozer

    Hi Ross

    Thank you for that most interesting report

    Was the Chief of Air Staff's signal followed by more tangible recognition?

    Regards,
    Aubrey

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    Hi Aubrey,

    Yes DFMs and DFCs all round as appropriate.

    Gazetted Feb/March 1943.

    Douglas,

    Not just this crew but all the others on the 17 previous sorties that had joined the main force stream with the sole purpose of being attacked by enemy nightfighters.

    It was soon known by the Luftwaffe that Boozer existed but as the airborne sets were designed to operate and receive on a design frequency they could not be easily changed until superseded by a new design of radar which took about 6 or 9 months.

    This was the first generation of what is now the RWR (Radar Warning Receiver) that still warns pilots of the lock on of missile radar and guides the use of flare and chaff countermeasures,

    Regards
    Ross
    The Intellectual Property contained in this message has been assigned specifically to this web site.
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    Default Boozer

    Hi Ross

    And how well deserved

    Team spirit at its best

    Regards,
    Aubrey

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    Aubrey,

    Most of the crew were Canadian.

    For more info on them and the award try putting their names into Hugh's award database.

    eg Vachon
    http://airforce.ca/honours-awards/search-awards-database

    Regards
    Ross
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ross_McNeill View Post
    Hi Aubrey,

    Yes DFMs and DFCs all round as appropriate.

    Gazetted Feb/March 1943.

    Douglas,

    Not just this crew but all the others on the 17 previous sorties that had joined the main force stream with the sole purpose of being attacked by enemy nightfighters.

    It was soon known by the Luftwaffe that Boozer existed but as the airborne sets were designed to operate and receive on a design frequency they could not be easily changed until superseded by a new design of radar which took about 6 or 9 months.

    This was the first generation of what is now the RWR (Radar Warning Receiver) that still warns pilots of the lock on of missile radar and guides the use of flare and chaff countermeasures,

    Regards
    Ross
    Ross

    I have nothing but admiration for all those crews. So, would you say that BOOZER was a success overall or as with something new, e.g. as with the Stirling as the first of the four engine heavy bombers, only partially successful? Maybe if there are ex RAF bomber aircrew on the forum, they could give us their thoughts about this.

    Regards

    Douglas

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    Default Boozer

    Douglas,

    I have a copy of "WAR IN THE ETHER-Radio Contermeasures in Bomber Command" a typescript issued by Signals Branch, H.Q. Bomber Command in October 1945.

    Many of the the technical details of BOOZER are revealed therein, however my typing skills are not up to reproducing all of them here.

    Here is the final paragraph regarding BOOZER in the above-named typescript:

    `` There is no question but that the BOOZER idea held great promise and should have been more fruitfull. It was, however, a failure from the design stage for two reasons. First, owing to the quite understandable lack of technical data on the enemy equipment against which it was to work. It was not until a German night fighter aircraft fitted with Lichtensein arrived in this country, enabling practical trials to be carried out, that the design error was discovered. After that, production was complicated by the necessity of further modification, with the result that production sets were never up to the specification, which called for a maximum warning range of 10,000 feet. Secondly, it was found that the p.r.f. in the G.L. and G.L.C. section of the receiver had been incorrectly set up, and it is doubtful if these warnings ever had any real value.``

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    Default Boozer

    Ken

    Thank you for the additional information. It would appear that BOOZER was a good idea but not of as much practical use to the bomber crews as had first been hoped. To complete this thread, do any of the Short Stirling experts on the forum know where BOOZER was positioned in the aircraft and where the warning light was located?

    Regards

    Douglas

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