Saturday, 29 December 2012

Foo Fighters 1945

In December 1944 weeks of dreadful weather closed in over Europe. Major raids were few and far between. The Germans took advantage of the bad weather to launch their offensive through the Ardennes that came to be known as the Battle of the Bulge. Although the initial breakthrough was impressive, the attack foundered due to a combination of determined American resistance at key points, and a lack of fuel for German motorised columns. It was a quiet end to the year for the men flying from Lincolnshire.

In January 1945 the skies over Europe cleared for the first time in weeks. Bomber Command was ready to return to the offensive. The Luftwaffe was also ready for the renewed struggle. As well as the uprated Messerschimitt 110 models, they could also deploy the jet fighter Messerschmitt Me262, codenamed “Schwalbe” or “Swallow”. the new fighter was horribly effective in shooting down bombers and became a dreaded nightmare for the crews of Bomber Command. Fortunately few of these magnificent aircraft were completed before the war ended.

The cause of another worrying feature of night flying over the Reich at this time has remained a mystery. Bomber crews were reporting that their larger formations were being accompanied by small glowing balls of light. These seemed to be circular aircraft that kept pace with the bombers, occasionally diving, climbing or changing direction. At first they were thought to be German weapons or remotely controlled monitoring equipment of some kind. The crews dubbed them “foo-fighters” and tried to shoot them down. None seem to have been damaged by gunfire and soon the crews gave up trying to damage this strange craft. After the war, studies of the German files showed that they were just as mystified by the “foo-fighters” as were the British and thought they must be some kind of navigational aid flown by the British. What they really were has never been discovered.

from "Heroes of RAF Bomber Command - Lincolnshrie" by Rupert Matthews.
Buy your copy HERE

Book Description

3 Nov 2005 1853069442 978-1853069444 1st Edition
At the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, such was the build-up of men and materials in the R A F that Lincolnshire was already known as 'Bomber Country'. Its four main airfields - Hemswell, Scampton, Waddington and Cottesmore - were home to eight squadrons of Bomber Command under the legendary Arthur 'Bomber' Harris. Night after night the skies of Lincolnshire reverberated with the sound of aircraft taking off and landing. For the aircrews the missions were very dangerous and physically exhausting. The chances of surviving a full tour of 30 operations were only 50/50, less in the first five sorties while aircrews gained valuable experience. Their targets were roads, railways, bridges, harbours, dams, factories and oil installations. Many medals were won - some of them posthumously. On the Dambusters Raid alone, 36 were awarded; a VC for the leader Guy Gibson, five DSOs, 14 DFCs, 12 DFMs and three Conspicuous Gallantry Medals. In this well researched and excellently written book, Rupert Matthews - himself the son of a Bomber Command sergeant who fought in the Second World War - describes many of the operations in detail and tells the story of courageous individuals who, despite the odds, flew mission after mission - heroes every one of them.

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