97 Squadron, Historic, History, World War 2

some pictures of Just Jane

97 Squadron, Historic, History, World War 2

97 Squadron, Thorpe Camp and the International Bomber Command Centre

On Saturday I had the emmense pleasure to meet and spend the day with veterans from 97 squadron, the RAF Path Finders Squadron. From the visit to Thorpe Camp to the AGM and Meal it was full of insights and wit. Please do take a minute to visit the links in this piece as the sites they support need your help to continue and are great causes close to my heart.

As I have mentioned before I have been researching my friends Uncle Tom who was a bomb aimer with 97 Squadron in 1943/44 and flew with Charles B Owen’s crew. (I was told by Jim Wright that you were known by who your pilot was not your own name). And I have previously posted the picture of his bomb aimer brevet though I don’t think he ever wore them as he is pictured wearing his original Observer brevet which I was told again by Jim was called a flying arsehole! And with pride too he also chuckled when he said the Americans wanted to know when would he get his other wing? Apparently the Americans have two wings for their flyers I never knew that!

So it was lovely to meet Tony the Chairman of the 97 Squadron Association and his wife Jo. Jo’s dad sadly died whilst on his 28th sortie and I hope I can add more about that here at a later date. who introduced me to Ernie Groeger who was with both 97 & 617! He is a wonderful man and eage to share his experience including the signature he put on the ceiling of the Blue Bell Inn in 1942! 


And how he built Thorpe Camp which is a brilliant Meuseum that has an area dedicated to 97 Squadron displaying pictures and stories of the men and machines of the squadron and the most precious item of all the book of rememberence for the fallen. It is dedicated to Ann Savage who was the secretary and I am told most loved person in 97 squadron Association and mother to Gail who made me feel so welcome even though I pestered her for days on email for information about the visit.

The day moved from Thorpe Camp and the Blue Bell Inn to the AGM and meal at the Admiral Rodney. Where the guest speaker Air Vice Marshall Paul Robinson came to talk about the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincoln and please check the webpage link as the site has so much information I couldn’t do justice to here and the absolute need for the completion of this monument to all those who lost their lives in Bomber Command.  But of the 125,000 Aircrew of bomber command 55,573 were killed! 

I learnt another fact and again please get behind this campaign too is that the Aircrew of bomber command are passionate about the fact that they never got a campaign medal as did the other armed forces at the end of the war or since. They sacrificed so much and feel betrayed by this act. We need to right this wrong and also put to rest some of the myths about bomber command. 

I will finish this for now with the pictures of the 97 Squadron memorial at Thorpe Camp and the links to the sites mentioned.



Thorpe Camp

International Bomber Command Centre
97 Squadron Association

The Blue Bell Inn

97 Squadron, Books, Family, fire by night, History, World War 2

Coincidence is so cool and the Kevin bacon game

So it dawned on me on the drive home from work last night when listening to the Audible copy of The Last British Dambuster how small a world we really live in. I started to think of the Kevin Bacon game in which it is surmised by the fact that all people in the world can be connected by 6 or less people. So by the Kevin Bacon game It could be that there is a connection to Johnny Johnson in 3 moves.

1. me to Nigel via work
2. Nigel to Tom “Nigel” Leak via Tom is Nigel’s great uncle
3. Tom to Johnny Johnson via they both fly in 97 Squadron

And then I got to thinking some more with how using the same game who else it would work for, Guy Gibson in 4? And so let me know what connections you can make?

My last one would be Jennie Gray who’s webpage led me to her book Fire By Night: The Dramatic Story of One Pathfinder Crew and Black Thursday, 16 December 1943 Paperback – 19 May 2011 and works out like this

1. me to Nigel via work
2. Nigel to Tom “Nigel” Leak via Tom is Nigel’s great uncle
3. Tom to Joe Mack via Tom fly in 97 squadron and looks as well as if flew in the plane that Joe crashed in the mission before!
4. Joe To Jennie via Joe being Jennie’s father

And that is also coincidence as without trying to find out more about Tom and his RAF days I wouldn’t have found all these links!

The Last British Dambuster, by George Jonny Johnson
Jennie Gray
Fire By Night: The Dramatic Story of One Pathfinder Crew and Black Thursday, 16 December 1943 Paperback – 19 May 2011

97 Squadron, History, World War 2

Bomb Aimer Brevet

I am able to post a picture of Tom’s Bomb Aimer Brevet this he would have got after April 1942 and would have replaced the “O” observer brevet he is pictured wearing in the photo on Jennie Grey’s web page RAF PATHFINDERS the picture however is later than 1942 as he is wearing the DFC and looks like 1939/45 France German Star which he got in February 1944 and his temporary award of the PFF badge. Any help would be great on the ribbons in the photo, I really must get plans together to visit the Thorpe camp museum as it has lots on 97 Squadron.


97 Squadron, fire by night, History, World War 2

Thank you’s and acknowledgements for information

Sorry I haven’t updated for a while but I have been doing a lot of reading from several sources in my hunt for information on Tom Leak.

First I would like to thank Jennie Gray who’s webpage led me to her book Fire By Night: The Dramatic Story of One Pathfinder Crew and Black Thursday, 16 December 1943 Paperback – 19 May 2011 (available on amazon as well as kindle) and the 97 Squadron (Straights Settlements) web pages ( more below). The information she had on her webpage allowed me to look for both Tom and his pilot Charles Owen. I thank Jennie for the insights and would like to acknowledge in advance the help her research and book have given me and I will be referencing her materials when used.

Secondly I would like to thank Kevin Bending and Gail Savage-Smith for their help and allowing me to join as an associate member the 97 Squadron (Straights Settlements) it is an honour. I have used their webpage and transcripts of the squadron operations books to map out Tom’s missions and career. As well as the great history of 96 Squadron by Kevin, Achieve Your Aim: The History of No. 97 (Straits Settlements) Squadron – A WW2 Pathfinder Squadron Paperback – 1 May

Finally I am doing this for my friend Nigel Scott who’s Uncle Tom was, and he loaned me a video of Tom talking of his war time experiences I hope to review it further as the quick glance I gave it answered a few questions but left more! I cannot thank him enough for allowing me to share in the knowledge of his uncle and all who he fly with.

As today is Remembrance Sunday I would like to finish with.

their name liveth for evermore