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Thread: Advice Needed - Plotting Routes in/out

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    Default Advice Needed - Plotting Routes in/out

    Would someone be so kind as to tell me where best to find plots of the routes to and from a raid? I presume they're somewhere in the National Archives.

    What I'm basically trying to do is to establish, from the location of a crash site (or graves), where along the route to/from the target an aircraft went down. If it was approaching the target or on the way home, or if it was on its own, outside the bomber stream.

    Would I also be right in assuming that somewhere there are summaries of the results of raids - including if the whole bomber stream was, for example, off-track due to high winds or incorrect route-marking?

    I'm familiar with looking up Squadron ORBs and so on, but not with the records of higher formations, such as Groups, where I presume this information can be found.

    Any pointers much appreciated!

    Bob.

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    Bob,
    Have you got a particular a/c and raid.
    Alan

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    There are two in particular I'm looking at. Both are men from a memorial I'm researching:

    1. W4886 Lancaster. 106 Sqn. 5 Group. Captain - F/O Curtain. Crashed near Furth during raid on Nuremberg 25/02/43.

    2. JB726 Lancaster. 97 Sqn. 8 Group. Captain Sgt Hodgson. Raid on Brunswick 14/01/44. I believe from Middlebrook's Bomber Command War Diaries that the formation was attacked by night fighters and lost steadily throughout the op. I don't know, however, where this aircraft came down. One of the crew is buried in Hanover War Cemetery, if that gives any clues.

    I am aware from the CWGC site that Hanover War Cemetery contains largely graves of men brought in from other small cemeteries etc in the surrounding area, which leads to another question - would the CWGC have a record of where they were originally?
    Last edited by Willywombat; 1st September 2010 at 09:51.

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    Hello,

    There are actually several places where it's possible to find the routes for specific raids.

    1) R.A.F. Museum Hendon, in the Bomber Command "loss card" for a specific bomber, there's a box with the route planned. But, with multiple losses on a same target in a same night, the compiler, at the time, would sometimes fill in the box for the first card, and in the subsequent cards, he would write "see xxzzz", so you have to refer to the loss card of this other bomber to find the route flown.

    2 ) TNA, in the appendices of the Group ORBs, in the AIR 25 series if my memory serves me well. Easy to locate in the online catalogue. I made up my own list to have all the references on a single sheet of paper, but I don't think I still have it in computer form.

    3 ) TNA, in the "interception and tactic reports", but the references evade me just now. Others will be able to complete. The latter are usually interesting because of the analysis done at the time to separate, as much as possible, losses due to Flak from losses due to fighters, and the area when the night fighters were active.

    HTH

    Joss

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    Joss - brilliant, just the sort of thing I'm after. Thanks.

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    Default Raid Route Plotting

    Hi Willy

    As already mentioned the Interception and Tactics Reports in AIR 14 up at Kew (basically a 'post-mortem' analysis of the raid) will be a very good place to start and should give you a lot of information about the raid 'as planned' and 'as executed' including notes about aircraft sightings and combats to cross-reference with other sources.

    In the Group ORB's (AIR 25? - can't quite recall offhand) you may also find the pre-raid telexes sent to the different Groups involved, giving them their orders for the night's raid: numbers of a/c involved, bomb loads, and (I 'think' - again can't recall and don't have a copy to hand) route details too.

    You may find, especially with the earlier raid if things were not so technically proficient at that stage of the war, that the bomber "stream" was in practice, somewhat larger than we might think from general descriptions and nice neat arrows on maps.

    I bought a big chart covering the North Sea and over to beyond Denmark and plotted on it all the 'actual' routes mentioned in the post-raid I&T Report for the Lubeck Raid in March 1942. About 250 a/c were involved in that one (so a small raid by later-war standards) and it was relatively early days in the campaign, but allowing for the a/c leaving from different points on the UK coast, wind-drift, and poor navigation, the routes taken by different a/c seem to cover half of the North Sea rather than a nice neat condensed strip of it! Nevertheless a fascinating exercise and well worth doing. But if the in and out routes were fairly close, this spread could mean you won't be able to tell from the crash location itself whether the a/c was on its way to or from the target. It might not be that obvious.

    If you can find the crash times when these two a/c were lost, you might also check in the Squadron ORB's to see what other a/c 106 and 97 Sqn's sent up on those two nights. These ORB's will give you the take-off times for all the sqn's a/c involved and, for the ones that returned, what time they bombed and what time they got home. You may be able to work out from those times whether 'your' a/c was outbound or homebound when it was brought down. This analysis gets harder with losses closer to the target but if the Squadron's 'average' take-off time was say 8.00 pm, bombing time say around midnight, and then home at around 4.00 am, the crash of 'your' a/c say at the mid-route point would probably be around 10.00 pm on the way out or 2.00 am on the way home. Once again, not foolproof, but another analysis tool you can try.

    Another point to bear in mind is that if you're going to be comparing German and British reports of any losses, check what times they're using. For a lot of the war 'German' time was the same as 'UK' time but it wasn't always so and potentially a '10.00 pm' German Report might in fact correspond to a '9.00 pm' British one.

    Good luck with whatever you try.

    Cheers

    Ian
    Last edited by ianh; 1st September 2010 at 12:20.

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    Bob,
    Just a slight word of caution on using plotted raid tracks. You have to remember that not every a/c stuck religiously to the track. This (on the outbound leg) may have been because the Nav didn't know where he was and/or the forecast track winds may have been in error (remember that forecasting upper winds deep into Germany was still, basically, in its infancy). On the return leg the above still applies but if the night fighters had got in amongst the stream then the occasional a/c skipper may have decided to go deliberately off-track to avoid them. On a very few raids we've looked at some of the crashed a/c came down almost 100 miles off track!! (admittedly that was a very unusual event, but just bear it in mind).
    HTH
    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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    Here's 97 Squadron Orbs for that night.


    14/15 January 1944 – Brunswick

    JB299W S/L C.P.C.de Wesselow, P/O Perkins (2nd Pilot), F/Sgt W.S.Bamlett, F/Sgt S.Carlyle, F/O W.G.Cooper, F/Sgt F.White, W/O G.Muckart, F/O J.J.Saynor. Up 1702 Down 2153. 16 flares, 3 x TI, 4 x 1000lb. Brunswick attacked from 19,000’. Vis good. 10/10ths cloud. Bombed on H2S. No results seen.
    ND421S F/L K.M.Steven, F/Sgt A.C.East, F/Sgt S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, F/Sgt W.C.Gadsby, W/O C.J.Skinner, Sgt L.N.J.Laver. Up 1646 – missing.
    ND535T S/L E.F.Cawdery, S/L J.Simpson (2nd Pilot), F/Sgt J.L.Pearson, F/Sgt K.Swale, F/O C.Peden, F/Sgt A.J.Tindall, F/Sgt J.R.McGregor, F/Sgt E.H.Hansen. Up 1651 Down 2201. 16 flares, 3 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 4 x 1000lb. Primary target attacked in fairly good visibility. Bombs released in center of concentration of Wanganui flares. Majority of Wanganui flares scattered.
    JB361B F/L J.Pelletier, F/Sgt G.E.Dunning, F/O J.J.Conley, F/L A.E.Carlton, F/Sgt A.W.Burnell, F/Sgt F.R.Watson., F/O G.Polson. Up1644 Down 2141. 16 flares, 3 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 4 x 1000lb. Brunswick bombed from 18,000’. Poor visibility, 10/10ths cloud. TIs seen below cloud. No results observed.
    JB726H F/O J.H.Nicholls, Sgt R.M.Lane, F/L R.Easson, F/Sgt J.A.Jolley, Sgt J.Gardner, F/Sgt W.Ogilvie, F/Sgt A.Whitehead. Up 1647 Down 2209. 16 flares, 3 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 4 x 1000lb. Primary target bombed by aid of H2S. Wanganuis fairly well concentrated. TI green seen below cloud but not distinctly. No results observed.
    ND359M P/O C.Snell, Sgt G.Taylor, P/O O.Olintott, P/O N.J.Smith (AB), W/O W.Parker (Spec AB), Sgts J.Grieve, C.J.Green, O.D.Wood. Up 1657 Down 2203. 3 flares, 8 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 3 x 1000lb. Brunswick primary target bombed from 17,500’. Vis good. Bombs released on Wanganui flares well backed up. 10/10ths cloud over target.
    JB353L F/L C.T.Wilson, P/O C.A.Wakley (2nd Pilot), Sgt T.W.Smith, F/L G.W.Borthwick, F/L R.M.Nelson, F/Sgt L.G.Jones, F/Sgt G.Harper, F/Sgt H.J.Pleydell. Up 1701 Down 2213. 4 flares, 4 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 6 x 1000lb. Brunswick bombed from 19,500’. Target identified by Wanganui flares and bombs dropped in center of concentration. Green TIs seen through cloud.
    JA857G S/L W.Riches, P/O G.Winter, P/O E.W.Watts, F/Sgt E.H.Pack, F/Sgt J.Wrigley, F/Sgt R.W.Lowe, F/L W.N.Booth. Up 1703 Down 2157. 4 flares, 4 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 6 x 1000lb. Primary target bombed. No results of bombing seen. Three small fires seen burning.
    JB356X F/O J.Billing, F/Sgt F.W.Hope, P/O J.E.Moriarty, F/L E.E.Osler, F/Sgt J.Campbell, W/O R.D.Curtis, F/Sgt J.V.Findlay. Up 1652 Down 2149. 4 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 6 x 1000lb. Brunswick bombed from 18,500’. Target identified by Wanganui flares. Vis poor. 10/10ths cloud. Large white glow seen below cloud.
    JB659J F/O L.Wheble, Sgts D.Burt, R.E.Page, F/O J.H.Gordon, Sgts G.T.Levick, J.J.Reid, R.C.Pitcon. Up 1705 Down 2205. 4 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 6 x 1000lb. Vis good over target which was bombed from fries seen reflected below cloud.
    JB300D F/O C.S.Chatten, Sgt C.Baumber, F/O T.Campbell, F/Sgt I.G.Stephens, Sgts W.A.Reffin, G.Leonard, W/O J.Ferguson. Up 1654 Down 2218. 4 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 6 x 1000lb. Brunswick bombed from 20,000’. Target identified by Wanganui flares. Bombs dropped in center of 12 flares. No results observed.
    JB312A F/L R.S.Emerson, F/Sgt J.Newell, F/O I.Worth, P/O J.Bartholomew, W/O R.Dickie, Sgt G.Duncan, F/Sgt G.W.Wood. Up 1656 Down 2221. 4 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 6 x 1000lb. Primary target identified by Wanganui flares. Vis good over target. 10/10ths cloud. Red glow observed below cloud in target.
    JB708R P/O L.V.Hyde, Sgt F.E.Putt, F/O E.Palmer, F/O J.Craig, F/Sgt E.Hill, Sgt D.Sweeney, P/O G.Lund. Up 1648 Down 2227. 1 x 4000lb, 6 x 1000lb, 2 x 500lb. Bombs dropped in center of concentration of green TIs over Brunswick. Vis hazy. Green TIs seen through break in cloud. No results observed.
    JB422N S/L D.Mansbridge, Sgt W.C.Whitbread, F/O J.Cruwys, F/Sgt W.C.White, W/O E.Hanson, F/Sgt E.Hambling, F/Sgt P.A.Walder. Up 1706 Down (not shown). 1 x 4000lb, 6 x 1000lb, 2 x 500lb. Primary target bombed from 20,000’. Bombs dropped in center of Wanganui flares. Orange glow seen reflected in cloud.

    JB726Y Sgts W.Hodgson, N.R.Smith, D.H.Cook, J.B.Nicol, P.J.Bennett, M.E.Mottishaw, R.W.Gooch. Up 1650 – missing.

    JB683C P/O W.N.Roberts, F/Sgt V.Davis, F/O A.W.Weston, F/L L.C.Jones, F/Sgt D.E.Harvey, F/Sgt J.R.Chapman, W/O E.L.Wright. Up 1658 Down 2215. 1 x 4000lb, 6 x 1000lb, 4 x 500lb. Brunswick bombed from 20,000’. Target identified by wanganui flares. 8/10ths cloud tops at 8,000’. Vis good. Incendiaries observed spread over target area.
    JB731F F/O W.H.Benton, Sgt J.Rimmington, F/O J.I.Rogerson, F/O J.Skingley, Sgts L.Hornsby, A.Holbrook, F/Sgt C.Fernandez. Up 1700 Down 2207. 1 x 4000lb, 6 x 1000lb, 4 x 500lb. Primary target attacked from 20,000’. Bombs released on H2S. No Wanganui flares seen on run up. Glow of fires could be seen from 50 miles away.
    ND367K P/O N.J.Callan, Sgt J.W.Scholey, F/Sgt H.Tait, F/Sgt J.Gomersall, F/Sgt W.A.Davies, Sgts D.Tunbridge, R.A.Read. Up 1708 Down 2220. 1 x 4000lb, 6 x 1000lb, 4 x 500lb. Bombs released in center of three green TIs over primary target Brunswick. A single pall of black smoke observed hanging over target. Large explosion seen to the south of town.
    ND346V F/L C.B.Owen, F/L P.J.Roberts, F/L W.G.Wishart, Sgts T.W.Leak, K.Knowles, K.Forrest, F/Sgt M.Hamment. Up 1707 Down 2145. 1 x 4000lb, 6 x 1000lb, 4 x 500lb. Primary target bombed from 19,800’. Vis fair. Target bombed on H2S. Glow of fires observed from a great distance away.
    JB353Q F/L E.S.Clarke, Sgt D.Bowerman, F/O J.Carpenter, F/Sgt W.C.Law, Sgt G.Ridley, P/O T.E.Charles, F/L R.P.Wishart. Up 1703 Down 2157. 1 x 4000lb, 6 x 1000lb, 4 x 500lb. Brunswick bombed from 20,000’. Vis 10/10ths cloud. No results were observed but glow could be seen through clouds.
    LM346O P/O H.Van Raalte, Sgts G.Coxhead, D.Williams, F/Sgt A.L.Lambert, Sgts E.H.Peace, R.Davies, F/Sgt L.G.Laurie. Up 1704 Down 2226. 1 x 4000lb, 6 x 1000lb, 4 x 500lb. Brunswick bombed from 19,500’. Bombs released in center of concentration of Wanganui flares. Vis good. No results of bombing seen.
    Last edited by David Layne; 1st September 2010 at 13:02.

  9. #9
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    I don't know what to say (apart from "thanks"!) - a wealth of information and advice, for which I am very grateful indeed!

    Although 13 of the men I am researching were killed on air ops, all but these two are fairly well documented for various reasons. For that reason it is only for these two that I'll be ferreting around in the National Archives for information on.

    The help and advice you've given is invaluable.

    Thanks again,

    Bob.

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