Bomber Command in WW2
This is Mr. Doug Moore’s story, a wireless operator who served in Bomber Command during WW2. Doug still has his flight log book which provides us with a wealth of information on his wartime exploits in the air. He served in the 76 Squadron and the 192 Squadron.
He was born Douglas Holmes Moore during 1923 at Horncastle in Lincolnshire. At the outbreak of war in September 1939, 16-year-old Doug had become an agricultural worker, still living at his birthplace. Agricultural jobs at the start of the war were a reserved occupation, which made it difficult for Doug to leave agriculture and join the armed forces. He was already in the local ATC and so decided to apply to the RAF who were recruiting for desperately needed aircrew.
He reported to RAF Cardington in Bedfordshire to take his entry tests, mathematics, general knowledge and aircraft recognition etc. Cardington is probably more famous as the place where the ‘R’ series of airships were built and flown during the 1920’s, especially the R101.
He was successful, and so in 1942 he started on the path to become a wireless operator in RAF Bomber Command.
Doug was ordered to report to RAF Padgate near to Warrington in Cheshire on the 21st April 1942. He collected his kit, documents and received his service number, 1620298. His first impressions of Padgate was that it was like a prison camp, but thankfully, he was only there for one week.
Late April 1942, and to Blackpool to start Morse and wireless training at the signals school. The school turned out to be located on the top floor of the Woolworths sea front store. In addition to ‘square-bashing’ in front of the Cenotaph and outside the Metropole Hotel, the trainee aviators had to march to Cleveleys to practice riffle firing.
On 30th April 1943 Doug was posted to RAF Madley, Hereford, No. 4 Radio School where he started his airborne wireless training in Percival Proctors. Thankfully no ‘square-bashing’ while he was here.
June 30th 1943 and on to RAF Evanton, Scotland, for air gunnery training using Blackburn Botha aircraft. It was here that Doug received his ‘stripes’.
September 21st 1943, posted to RAF Staverton, Nr Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, for daytime airborne wireless training using De-Havilland Dominie aircraft.
November 30th 1943, RAF Moreton Valence in Gloucestershire which was originally opened as RAF Haresfield. It was designated a landing ground up until 1941 when it was rebuilt, upgraded and renamed RAF Moreton Valence. It was here that Doug underwent night flying training in Avro Ansons. He still remembers the manual undercarriage gear in the Anson as it took exactly 180 turns of the crank to raise or lower it!
The trainee aviators would catch their first sight of a jet aircraft. They were told that if they saw or heard anything unusual, they were to ignore it and not to discuss it with anyone. This was of course, a sure way to get their attention. They were soon to get their first sight and sound of an experimental Gloucester Meteor.
January 24th 1944 to February 12th 1944 at RAF Harwell. The name Harwell is probably better associated with its more recent use, the Atomic Energy Authority. During WW2, it was home to several squadrons in training such as 105, 107 and 226 squadrons. Doug was here with 15 OTU, training on Wellington Bombers.
It was here that he met the aircrew members (crewed-up) that he would spend the rest of the war with, and he was reacquainted with Crotch, now Flying Officer Crotch.
Pilot: Flying Officer Crotch – a solicitor in civilian life
Navigator: Fl/Lt Dimminger
Bomb Aimer: Vic Worsley – from Bolton
Flight Engineer: Anthony Martin – a Cockney lad
Mid-upper Gunner: Jack Lysaght – a Cornishman
Rear-Gunner: Tony Leonards – another Cockney lad
Wireless Operator: Fl/Sgt Doug Moore
RAF Yatesbury in Wiltshire was the radio and radar school where Doug underwent further signals training. He was there between July and November 1942.
RAF Church Lawford in Warwickshire, No. 8 Pilot Advance Flying Unit. His training here included point-to-point wireless. It was here that he first met Pilot Instructor Crotch. Crotch was in his mid-thirties and an extremely experienced pilot. He would eventually become Doug’s ‘skipper’.
March 5th 1944 to April 28th 1944 at RAF Rufforth. Newly constructed and opened on the 10th June 1942, RAF Rufforth was about 4 miles to the west of York. A new unit was formed there in March 1943, No. 1663 Heavy Conversion Unit, to train aircrew on the Handley Page Halifax Bomber. Doug and the crew trained here on Halifax Vs.
They undertook their first operation whilst here. On the night of April 27th, they were sent on a night operation, a diversionary raid to drop ‘window’. The aircraft used on this raid was a Halifax V, DG 297 of ‘C’ flight. Window or ‘chaff’ as the Americans called it, was a method of ‘jamming’ German radar by dropping thin aluminium strips cut to the wavelength of the radar transmissions. This gave false ‘returns’ and confused the German radar operators.
Log book entries show a range of training activities, three engine landings, one engine flying, beam approaches, steep diving turns, 20,000 feet climbing and air to sea firing.
Having completed their training, the crew were now operational.
Holme on Spalding Moor
April 28th 1944 to August 1944 with 76 Squadron at RAF Holme on Spalding Moor, No. 4 Group. This airfield opened in 1941 as a Bomber Command Airfield and was to become home to 76 Squadron, 101 Squadron, and later to 458 and 460 RAAF Squadrons.
With one sortie under their belts, the crew began a few days of familiarisation and practice before starting full operations on the 9th May in ‘B’ flight.
Doug’s flight log contains details of all the sorties, but the entries for the 1st to the 6th June 1944, tell a fascinating story of the part they took in support of the ‘D-Day’ landings.
1st June 44: Take off at 23.05 in Halifax III ‘MP-M’. The target was Cherbourg. Flight duration of 4hrs 5mins.
2nd June 44: Take off at 22.20 in Halifax III ‘MP-K’. The target was the railway marshalling yard at Trappes near Paris. Flight duration of 4hrs 56mins.
5th/6th June: Take off at 02.56 in Halifax III ‘MP-K’. The target was the Mont Fleury Battery. Doug made a note in his flight log, which says ’10 minutes before landings started – 6th June’. Flight duration of 4hrs 25mins.
6th June 44: Take off at 22.15 in Halifax III ‘MP-K’. The target was St. Lo. Flight duration 5hrs 10mins.
By the time that the crew had completed their tour with 76 Squadron, they had ‘notched up’ 13 sorties. An interesting detail in the log is that F/O Crotch became F/Lt Crotch from 31st May 1944 on wards.
Late August 1944 until the end of the war with 192 Squadron at RAF Foulsham. Foulsham was built during 1941-1942 for No. 2 Group Bomber Command and opened on 26th June 1942. It was one of the few airfields to be fitted with FIDO, the fog dispersal system. It was to become the home for 192 Squadron from August 1943 on wards.
192 Squadron, code letters DT and part of 100 Group, was specially formed to operate as a special duties unit, it’s purpose and existence remaining a secret during those wartime years. It was not until the mid-1970’s that the details about the German wartime radio navigation methods were revealed and the existence of our radio countermeasures unit.
The entire crew transferred to 192 squadron and remained together until the end of the war. It was on the 28 August that they began practising cross country flights and special duties training. The aircraft was Halifax III ‘DT V’, an aircraft that the crew would use more than any other for the rest of the war.
Five days later on the 27th August, they took part in their first sortie in this new squadron, sortie No. 14, special duty ops dropping ‘window’.
One of the missions was to the Arctic Circle searching for enemy radio traffic and took a staggering 14 hours with only quick re-fuelling stops in Scotland. Doug proudly displays the certificate issued by the squadron to commemorate this marathon flight. Many more sorties followed until the end of the war. The total number of sorties reached was 39, which far exceeded the expectation for a heavy bomber crew over enemy territory. Doug says that the reason for this high amount of sorties without casualties can only be explained by having a pilot with the experience and maturity of Crotch, who became Squadron Leader Crotch on the 28th August 1944.
It is well documented that RAF Foulsham suffered higher losses of radio counter-measures aircrew than any other station.
With the end of the war in Europe, the crew found themselves flying to former enemy bases such as Shleswig, sometimes-carrying high-ranking service personnel.
At the end of July 45, Doug received a commendation from the ACC in recognition of his double tour with 39 sorties.
His final duties in the RAF were on glider towing from Shobden, the last flight log entry being as a passenger on the 10th September 1945.
Doug says that he would like to have remained in the RAF and made a career of it, especially with the up and coming development in radio and radar technology. This option was not conducive to family life in those post war years, and so he came to settle in North Staffordshire and spent the next 35 years working at the Michelin factory until his retirement.
Life outside the RAF
During 1940, the North Staffordshire Regiment, ‘The North Staffords’ were billeted on the outskirts of Doug’s home town of Horncastle, Lincolnshire. It was here that his sister Christine met Sergeant Sam Tierney, a soldier from Trent Vale in Staffordshire. Sam had decided to billet himself at ‘The Black Swan’ public house on South St. in Horncastle and spent most of his free time there. Christine and Sam eventually married in 1941, Christine moved into Sam’s family home in Trent Vale. Shortly after starting their married life, Sam was posted to the Far East and was to spend the rest of the war away from home.
Doug would visit Christine at her new home whenever he was on leave. It was during one of these visits that he first met Joyce. They met at the Corner club on Grays Corner in Stoke and started to see each other whenever they had the opportunity. They waited until the war was over and eventually married in August 1945.
After the war, Sam moved to Horncastle with Christine. Doug decided to settle in Joyce’s home town of Shelton. They have lived in Shelton all the years since WW2, moving to a new home only recently.