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 http://raf-pathfinders.com 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 http://raf-pathfinders.com
Fire By Night: The Dramatic Story of One Pathfinder Crew and Black Thursday, 16 December 1943 Paperback – 19 May 2011


Looking for information on Thomas Leak

I am looking for information for my friend about his uncle DFC LEAK, Thomas William Leslie PO 172951 RAFVR LG 17.10.44

He was a bomb aimer on lancasters in 97 squadron part of the Path Finder Force. Most of the information so far comes from the squadron web page http://www.97squadronassociation.co.uk/ so please check them out.

I will upload what I find here please feel free to contact me with any info you might have.


The DFC Medal was awarded to RAF Airmen for the below
“an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy”



The Medal and Ribbon

From the notes above it appears Thomas was awarded his on 17/10/1944 I will check the ops book to see if I can find what mission it was for. If anyone can help please comment.