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Matt Braddock or Biggles?

The rough working class bloke or the delicate posh one?

The "Other Ranks" or The Officer?

Braddock living where the work was or Biggles with the Mayfair flat?

Braddock the disregarder of rank and rules or Biggles where everyone knew their place?

Captain W.E. Johns or the anonymous author?


During the late 1950s and early 1960s I became aeroplane mad. This obsession was mostly fuelled by the adventure stories of Biggles and Braddock. I always enjoyed the two characters but it eventually occurred to me that they were very different characters and I started thinking about "class", status, lifestyle, etc.

Where were they born?


From "Braddock and the Flying Tigers" page 42 – set in 1942

Holton took Braddock’s full names - Matthew Ernest Braddock, his birthplace as Walsall, and his age as 30…………..

“ What was your mother’s birthplace?” snapped the lieutenant.

“ I think she came from Salop,” said Braddock.

“ Where?” exclaimed Holton.

“ Just put Salop,” said Braddock…………….


From Biggles Goes Home - Chapter 2 – A Tough Proposition Page 16

“TELL me, Bigglesworth, where were you born?”Air Commodore Raymond, head of the Special Air Police at Scotland Yard, put the question to his senior operational pilot who, at his request, had just entered his office.

“That’s a bit unexpected,” answered Biggles, pulling up a chair to the near side of his chief ’s desk. “India. I thought you knew that.”

“Yes, of course I knew. I should have been more explicit. Where exactly in India?”

Biggles smiled faintly. “I first opened my peepers in the dak bungalow at Chini, in Garhwal, in the northern district of the United Provinces.”

“How did that come about?”

“My father had left the army and entered the Indian Civil Service. He was for a time Assistant Cornmissioner at Garhwal and with my mother was on a routine visit to Chini when, as I learned later, I arrived somewhat prematurely. However, just having been whitewashed inside and out, the bungalow was nice and clean, and I managed to survive.”

Where did they go to school?


From BORN TO FLY page 24 of The Rover from 30th Oct 1971

“I’ve come to join the Volunteer Reserve,” said Braddock. “No one was about, so I walked in.” “We don't take mechanics,” replied Butleigh. “Our business is to train pilots.” “That’s what I’m here for,” retorted Braddock. “If I don't go solo quicker than A. F. G. Carrington ” – he made a gesture towards the blackboard - “ you can give me the sack.”………………….

“ Occupation?” “I’m a steeplejack,” said Braddock. “How frightfully interesting,”, remarked Butleigh.

“Where did you go to school?” “I went to an elementary school near Walsall,” Braddock answered. “I’m afraid that wouldn’t measure up to the required educational standard,” said Butleigh smugly. “Candidates must have received an education up to the standard required for the
Oxford and Cambridge school certificate.”……………….

From I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK (First series) The Rover from 4/10/1952
I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK (First series - repeat) The Rover from 26/04/1958
BRADDOCK MASTER OF THE AIR (Repeat of first series) The Rover and Wizard from 25/02/1967

“ Where did you to go school, Braddock ?” he asked. “ That’ll take a bit of remembering,” muttered Braddock. “ I went to schools in Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, Bristol, and Southampton. Oh, and I was forgetting - I put in a few months at Northampton.”
“You jumped about a bit, didn’t you ?” smiled Santon. “ Dad was a boilermaker, and he had to go where there was work,” explained Braddock.


While living in India he was educated by a private tutor.

At the age of 14 and a half Biggles was in England to attend Public School. He became a boarder at Malton Hall School in Hertbury. The school had previously been attended by his brother, his father and his Brigadier-General uncle.

From -
A public school is an older, exclusive and expensive fee-paying independent secondary school, located in England or Wales, which caters primarily for children aged from 11/13 to 18. Traditionally, public schools were all-male boarding schools.

Public schools have had a strong association with the ruling classes. Historically they educated the sons of the English upper and upper-middle classes.

In particular, the sons of officers and senior administrators of the British Empire were educated in England
while their parents were on overseas postings.

What was their lifestyle?


From BORN TO FLY page 24 of The Rover from 30th Oct 1971

Braddock had put his motor cycle back on the road when he got work again. Before he had obtained this job he could not have spared one and eight pence for a gallon of petrol. He had made the machine himself from second-hand parts he had obtained for a few pounds.

Braddock rode to a tiny house in Canal Road, where he boarded with Mr and Mrs Givens, both of whom received the old-age pension.


From Biggles Hits the Trail - page 10

"Exactly fifty-five minutes later Biggles's Bentley pulled up with a groaning of brakes outside the small country station of Brendenhall."

From Biggles Breaks the Silence - page 9

"The voice came from the other side of the room, where Sergeant Bigglesworth, head of the Department, was regarding the street below through the window of his London flat in Mount Street, Mayfair."

Mount Street, London W1K - 2 bed flat for sale - £4,950,000 in 2015 (zoopla)
2 reception rooms
2 bedrooms
2 bathrooms


Boys turning into men......


From BORN TO FLY page 22 of The Rover from 30th Oct 1971

ON an autumn morning in 1938 three men were working at the top of the new factory chimney at Billingham & Company’s works in Midhampton. The chimney, which was intended to carry away chemical fumes, soared to a height of 350 feet and there were many local arguments as to whether or not it was the tallest in the country……..

The face of a complete stranger appeared. It was that of a young man of robust
physique, though he had the hollow cheeks of someone who was not getting enough to eat. There were also signs of malnutrition in the pouches beneath his unusually large and luminous eyes. He wore a tattered pair of overalls………..

"I just need a job,” said Braddock. “1’ve worked in general engineering, l’ve done some bricklaying in my time and I can drive a lorry.” Jack Foster was impressed by
Braddock. At that time there was a considerable amount of unemployment and for
most jobs that were going in Midhampton there was a score of applicants, but this was the only reply to his advertisement for a steeplejack. “Where did you work last?" he
asked. “I was at the aircraft factory,” Braddock replied…………
“Why did you leave?” Foster inquired. “I didn’t hit it off with the charge-hand,“ said Braddock…………


From Biggles Learns to Fly - page 7

There was little about him to distinguish him from thousands of others in whose ears the call to arms had not sounded in vain. and who were doing precisely the same thing in various parts of the country. His uniform was still free from the marks of war that would eventually stain it. His Sam Browne belt still squeaked slightly when he moved, like a pair of new boots.

There was nothing remarkable or even martial, about his physique; on the contrary, he was slim, rather below average height. and delicate-looking. A wisp of fair hair from one side of his rakishly tilted R.F.C. cap; . now sparkling with pleasurable anticipation, were what is usually called hazel. His features were finely cut, but the squareness of his chin and the firm line of his mouth revealed a certain doegedness, a tenacity of purpose, that denied any suggestion of weakness. Only his hands were small and white, and might have been those of a girl.

His youthfulness was apparent. He might have reached the eighteen years shown on his papers. but his birth certificate, had he produced it at the recruiting office, would have revealed that he would not attain that age for another eleven months. Like many others who had left school to plunge straight into the war, he had conveniently ‘lost’ his birth certificate when applying for enlistment, nearly three months previously.


But all things must pass ......


From Braddock and the Black Rockets
The Rover and Wizard from February 15th 1964 - page 4

“Matt Braddock, a national
hero, especially dear to the
hearts of the people of his home
town, died today in a tragic
“A steeplejack by trade,
Braddock, the only living air
ace with a V.C. and Bar, fell
into the interior of a four-
hundred-foot-high chimney on
which he was working. A spokes-
man said it was unlikely the
body would be recovered.
“A special reception at the
Town Hall, Walsall, had been
planned for this evening, when
the town had intended to do
honour to its famous hero.
“Now, instead of speeches
and gaiety on a grand scale,
there will be widespread mourn-
ing for the sad loss of a man
who will be remembered as one
of the great personalities of
the last war."

The event was fictitious as the "death" was fake to cover up a secret mission to prevent World War Three!
Details of Braddock's later life were never published so, as the saying goes –

"Old soldiers never die, they simply fade away".


From Biggles: The Authorised Biography by John Pearson – page 310

" …… I was surprised to hear that he was going to the Battle of Britain anniversary celebrations, being held that year at Tangmere. He'd never gone before, but several of the former members of 666 were turning up, and he was invited as a guest of honour. As part of the celebrations, a rich American called Maberley had brought over a beautifully restored Mark VI Spitfire from Texas. It was a rarity, of course, a true collector’s piece, and, judging from the photographs I saw, perfect in every detail. Apparently, one of the young R.A.F. pilots had been scheduled to fly the Spitfire at the head of the fly-past of the latest British jets, and just before take-off, Biggles was standing next to Algy on the tarmac, examining the machines. No one will ever know what got into him — or how he managed it. Presumably the sheer temptation of that wonderful old aircraft standing there, ready for take-off, was too much for him. A momentary old man’s impulse, a brief resurgence of his youth — or had he somehow planned this all along? I wonder. He took everybody by surprise, including Algy. The pilots were just about to board their planes, when he darted forward, shouting, ‘Scramble, chaps!’ And before anyone could stop him, Biggles had swung himself with practised ease into the Spitfire’s cockpit, slammed back the canopy, and started up the engine. It happened very quickly, and from that point there was nothing much anyone could do to stop him. The Controller did his best, of course (he was entirely exonerated at the subsequent inquiry), but Biggles totally ignored the poor man’s frantic messages over the radio. All he replied was ‘O.K. 666. Prepare to intercept the enemy. Large formations of Heinkels and a pack of Messerschmitts coming in from northern France. Fourteen thousand feet. Do your best, chaps!’ Then the radio went dead, and the Spit?re slowly taxied past the crowds, none of whom realised what was going on. He made a perfect take-off, with the jets following him as planned. From the ground the fly-past seemed immaculate, with Biggles’ solitary Spitfire in the lead. Then the crowd saw the Spitfire turn, sweep back across the airport, flipping its wings in a salute, then climb towards the sun, and the coast of France. And that was the last that anybody saw of Biggles.
It was a little hard on Mr. Maberley, of course, after coming all that way from Texas, though presumably his Spitfire was insured, and they gave him back the bits of wreckage which some fishermen at Dover brought ashore a few days later. Of Biggles there was mercifully no trace, and the verdict at his inquest was quite simple — accidental death. His will left everything to the daughter of his old love, Marie Janis."


Was Braddock "Officer Material"?

From I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK (First series) The Rover from 13/09/1952
I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK (First series - repeat) The Rover from 05/04/1958
BRADDOCK MASTER OF THE AIR (Repeat of first series) The Rover and Wizard from 04/02/1967
“ So far as aircraft are concerned, then, the squadron is about finished,” Braddock said. “ There’s about one machine left that’s fit to fly.” “It was an expensive business last night,” Crosby said grimly." “ Still,we’re not here to discuss the raid. Have either of you considered taking commissions?” It was a question that came as a surprise. He was looking at me, so I answered first. “ It’s the first time I’ve been asked, sir,” I said. “ When I joined up I was shot straight off to a navigation school.” Crosby shifted his gaze. “ What about you?” he asked Braddock. A grin appeared on Braddock’s rugged face. “ I’d hardly be classed as officer material, would I?" he said. “ No, I don't think I’d like it.” “ You can’t think of things from a personal point of view when we’re scrapping for our lives,” Crosby retorted. “ A pilot of your ability, Braddock, might very soon be leading a squadron. “ You, too, Boume, might easily become a squadron navigation officer. I put it to you that you would be of more use to the Service and to the country in such a capacity than as mere members of a crew. “ I ’d like you to think it over. I’m not asking for a decision now. Brood over it a bit and then let me know if I can put your names forward.” His telephone rang and we went out. There was a scowl on Braddock’s face as we walked away. “ No, George,” he said abruptly, “ I can’t see myself as an officer.” “ There’s something in what he said,” I replied. “’There’s a war on and we can’t please ourselves.” "I’ll think about it,” Braddock answered brusquely.

From I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK (First series) The Rover from 27/09/1952
I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK (First series - repeat) The Rover from 19/04/1958
BRADDOCK MASTER OF THE AIR (Repeat of first series) The Rover and Wizard from 18/02/1967
BRADDOCK usually had no difficulty in making up his mind about anything, but now there was uncertainity on his rugged face.
"You've been straight with me, and I'll be straight with you," he said gruffly. ” I have to go my own way. I can get on with real flyers like yourself, but these red-tape types get my goat.“ Crosby laughed. He was a regular officer of the best type, devoted to the Service. “ Yes, I’m quite sure that at a ceremonial parade you’d be the one man out of step,” he said and the remark brought a grin to Braddock’s face. “ When you came here I thought you were one of these awkward characters. “Your disregard of discipline on the ground annoyed me agreat deal. But I’ve had reason to change my mind. The moment you’re off the ground, you’re the tightest disciplinarian I’ve seen. “ In every detail which concerns flying, you’re as meticulous as a Drill Sergeant on the parade ground.” “ Well, it’s only common-sense to leave nothing to chance,” grunted Braddock. “ What’s more you have a tremendous capacity for leading and inspiring others in the air,” Crosby exclaimed. “ It’s my honest opinion, speaking as man to man, that the Service can ask you to undertake the responsibilities of leadership instead of carrying on as, shall I say, a lone wolf.” “ Supposing I say yes, what will happen next?” Braddock demanded. “ You’d skip a stage or two. You wouldn’t find yourself at an Initial Training Wing,” smiled Crosby. “First you’d be interviewed by the Selection Board which, of course, would have your record in front of it. Then you’d take a short officer’s training course.” “ I’ll sleep on it,” answered Braddock. “ I’ll give you my answer tomorrow.” “ That goes for me, too,” I exclaimed. “ Fair enough,” said Crosby. Braddock gave me a wry grin when we got outside. “ He may be right, George,” he muttered. “ I’ve never thought about wearing an officer’s rings but if I can help others to fly their planes right, maybe I should do as he says. Still, we’ll see.”

From I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK (First series) The Rover from 4/10/1952
I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK (First series - repeat) The Rover from 26/04/1958
BRADDOCK MASTER OF THE AIR (Repeat of first series) The Rover and Wizard from 25/02/1967
At three o'clock that afternoon a clerk opened the door of an ante-room in the admitnistration block at Tungmore. “ Sergeant Braddock!” he called out. I pointed at Braddock’s tunic as he stood up. “ Your top button’s undone,” I said. Braddock did not bother about fastening it before going into the room where the selection board awaited him. With five other strained-looking men I settled down as best as I could to wait my turn. What happened in the room I learned afterwards. The clerk told me some of it and Braddock dropped other bits from time to time. The board was presided over by Air Commodore Framley. The members with him were Group Captain Riggs, Squadron Leader Santon, and Mr Wiggins from the Air Ministry. “ We understand you had some excitement on your way here, Sergeant !” he exclaimed. Braddock put his hands behind his head and leaned back comfortably. “ Yes, it was lucky for us that the German was a prune,” he said. Framley shuffled his papers. “ We have your war record here, of course,” he remarked. “ Extremely creditable it is, too. But you'll understand that we have to make up our minds as to whether or not you would make a good officer. It carries responsibilities, Braddock. An officer has to set an example. He has to be able to obtain respect from the airmen. High standards of conduct and bearing are expected from him.” “ You haven’t mentioned flying,” said Braddock. “ Isn’t that important ?” Framley frowned. “ That’s taken for granted,” he said huffily. “ I just wondered why you didn’t mention it first,” remarked Braddock. Riggs made his voice heard for the first time. “ Where did you to go school, Braddock ?” he asked. “ That’ll take a bit of remembering,” muttered Braddock. “ I went to schools in Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, Bristol, and Southampton. Oh, and I was forgetting—I put in a few months at Northampton.” “You jumped about a bit, didn’t you ?” smiled Santon. “ Dad was a boilermaker, and he had to go where there was work,” explained Braddock. Framley kept his gaze on his papers. “ I see that on enlistment you described yourself as a steeplejack,” he said. “Yes, it’s a job where bosses don’t worry you much,” replied Braddock.

Two buff envelopes I were delivered to Braddock and me in the morning. . . “ In these are the decisions of the selection board. They haven't wasted much time,” I said. Braddock stuck his thumb under the flap of the envelope and jagged it open. He started to read aloud; “' ‘ With reference to your application for a commission, I am directed to inform you that it is with regret:-’ ” He grinned broadly. “ Turned down,” he said. “ Just as well !” I opened my letter. It was to the same effect. I was going to stay a sergeant..............

Kempsey answered a phone call with a brisk, “ Yes, get cracking,” and then looked at us again. “ I’ve some news for you,” he said. “ You will both be gazetted as pilot-officers this week.” I stared at him in blank amazement. “We’ve just. been turned down by the board, sir!” I exclaimed, and Braddock drew the buff sheet of paper from his pocket. Kempsey smiled. “ My information comes from much higher up,” he said. “ I had a word on the phone about it, and was told that your promotions were made largely on the recommendation of Dr. Edward Cassidy, the physicist.” I’d heard the name of Cassidy. He was one of our top boffins, one of our greatest radar scientists. But, so far as I knew, I’d never met him, and that made the news startling. “ What have we done to him ?” Braddock gasped. “ He was a passenger in the Anson you landed on one leg,” answered Kempsey. “ Oh, the chap with the bowler,” exclaimed Braddock. “ I don’t think so,” replied Kempsey. “ I’ve seen him frequently and he always wears a cap.” Braddock uttered a chuckle.

From I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK (First series) The Rover from 25/10/1952
I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK (First series - repeat) The Rover from 17/5/1958
BRADDOCK MASTER OF THE AIR (Repeat of first series) The Rover and Wizard from 18/3/1967
Goff was talking to the Adjutant, Flight Lieutenant Barlett “’I shan’t be giving Braddock a recornmendation" he said. “He talked a lot of wild stuff after my lecture.” He gave Barlett who had the reputation of being a strict disciplinarian, an account of what had happened. "You ought to have shut him up,” "Barlett snapped. “We don’t want him putting such ideas in the heads of other cadets.” “I closed down as soon as I could,” Goff said. “But he showed that he isn’t officer material.” “ The Commanding Officer, unfortunately, won’t see eye to eye with you,” stated Barlett. “ Ever since Braddock fetched that Spitfire off the sandbank, he regards him as being in a class by himself.” It was a strange position. Braddock did not want to be an officer." Many members of the staff, like Goff, thought that he wasn’t the type to be an officer. But, at the top of the tree, high-ranking officers were pushing him forward.

From I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK (First series) The Rover from 8/11/1952
I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK (First series - repeat) The Rover from 31/5/1958
BRADDOCK MASTER OF THE AIR (Repeat of first series) The Rover and Wizard from 1/4/1967
“ I’ve made up my mind,” he said. “ I’m not going through with this course. It'll waste more time and, as I’ve said before, I don’t fancy being an officer.” “ I understand you’ve taken great exception to the Passing Out ceremony,” exclaimed Wallasey. “ Are you going on with it?” asked Braddock. “ Of course we’re going on with it,” said the C.O. sharply. “ But that’s besides the point. You baffle me, Braddock. You showed outstanding qualities of leadership during that raid last night and such are needed in command of our sections and squadrons. I'm still convinced that it's your duty to undertake these responsibilities.”
“No,” replied Braddock. “I'll stay as a sergeant. I'll get back where I belong - in the air.” “ That’s how I feel, too,” I said. The C.O. gave in grimly. “I’ll see you are returned to a holding squadron as soon as possible,” he said and curtly concluded the interview.
Braddock had a broad grin on his face when he got outside the room. “George, that’s a load off my mind,” he chuckled. “ I’ll never: be talked into going into this officer lark again.”

I’m not keen on gongs.......

From I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK (First series) The Rover from 20/09/1952
I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK (First series - repeat) The Rover from 12/04/1958
BRADDOCK MASTER OF THE AIR (Repeat of first series) The Rover and Wizard from 11/02/1967
Then the All-Clear was given and training resumed. Flight Lieutenant Berricker was the duty officer in charge of flying. He was in his room in the control tower with Group Captain Crosby when Flight Sergeant Hampton came in and saluted. “ I’ve made an examination of the Lysander, sir,” he reported. “All guns have been fired. As a matter of fact, they’re still hot.” “What have those fellows been up to ?” Crosby exclaimed. “ Braddock told Gooley they had been stooging around,” said Berricker harshly. “ You’ll have to come down on them hard, sir.” The phone buzzed. Berricker picked up the receiver. “ This is Fighter Sector, Intelligence Officer,” announced the caller. “We are trying to trace a Lysander which has been flying south of Buckworth.” “ I’m sorry to say a Lysander from here has made an unauthorised flight,” answered Berricker pompously. “ The pilot is under close arrest.” “ What?” gasped the Intelligence Officer. “ He is under close arrest,” repeated Berricker, thinking he had not been heard. “ You’ve arrested him !” shouted the Intelligence Officer. “ He’s shot down two Junkers, damaged another so that it made a forced landing, and put a Messerschmitt into a rookery.” Berricker nearly baled out of his chair. “ We’ve heard nothing about it,” he bleated. “Who was the pilot?” demanded the Intelligence Officer. “ Er —— Sergeant Braddock,” gasped Berricker. “ Sergeant Boume was with him.” “ By jove, yes, I should have recognised the Braddock touch,” exclaimed the Intelligence Officer. “ Thank you! You’ll be hearing from us again. The Air Officer Commanding Group wants full information as soon as possible.” I got a description of this incident from a clerk on duty. Apparently Crosby suddenly let out a tremendous guifaw, While Berricker’s face was as red as the back of his neck. “ You’d better hurry up and remove Braddock and Bourne from Gooley’s clutches,” the Station Master said. It was a flabbergasted Gooley who let us out. The Group Captain sent for us late in the evening. “ News has just come through to me that both of you have been given the immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Medal,” he said as he stood to shake hands with us. Braddock frowned. “ Do we have to take it ?” he asked gruffy. “ It’s a great honour,” ex claimed Crosby. “ I know, but I’m not keen on gongs,” growled Braddock. “ So many who earn ’em don’t get ’em. Some who’ve never earned ’em do.” “ In this case I feel that no mistake has been made,” said the Group Captain bluntly. “ Now, I’m going to admit that I’m just beginning to understand you, Braddock. I realise that you’ve no use for red tape, but I’m also convinced that the Service doesn’t possess a better pilot. Your abilities shouldn’t be restricted by a sergeant’s stripes, and I want to urge on you again and on Bourne that it’s your duty to allow me to put your names forward for commissions.” He looked at us inquiringly in turn. “ What do you say?” he asked. “ Will you let me recommend you as officers?”

Braddock and the Thunderbirds - The Rover and Wizard from July 31st1965
“ On leaving here you will report next door to the tailor," Wally instructed us. “ This station may be out in the wilder-ness, but we keep a good standard of discipline. ‘Week day parades are in denims, but on Saturday mornings you will turn out for inspection in serge and with web belt blancoed and brasses shining— understand ?” “ Ugh,” said Braddock. “ That is not an answer, my man,” rasped Wally. “But 1 take it you understand. Are you entitled to any campaign ribbons or decorations ? If so, you will draw them now for the tailor to sew on while fitting your uniforms.”
He stared at us ques-tioningly and became annoyed at not getting an immediate answer. Campaign medals had by this time been issued for service in certain theatres of war. Braddock and I were obviously too young to have earned any of the pre-war variety. But Wally knew we had been on our way home from the Far East so he naturally expected us to say we were entitled to the 1939-45 Star. “ Let’s be hearing from you,” Wally snapped. “ You, Sergeant Bourne-—what about it ?” “The ’39-45 Star,” ,I said reluctantly. “The D.F.M. as well, I suppose.” "‘ The Distinguished Flying Medal !” gasped Wally. He recovered quickly and gazed sternly at me. “You understand that we shall be able to check this in a week or so when your papers arrive here?” he rasped. I told him the award was recorded in my papers and Wally became almost friendly to me. He told the Q.M. to issue me with three inches of the ribbon and then he turned to Braddock and found himself confronted by a black scowl. Braddock said irritably that he never bothered wearing ribbons. “They make me feel like a blooming chocolate box soldier,” he growled. “ Besides which I don’t feel right going round plastered with glory when so many men have done as much and more than me and not got a sausage for it.” “ Your feelings do you credit, Sergeant Braddock,” said Wally with heavy sarcasm. “ But orders is orders. What are you entitled to—the 1939-45 Star ?” “ All right, since you are making such a big thing of it,” said Braddock, shrugging. “The 1939-45 Star—also, the Victoria Cross and bar, and the Dis- tinguished Flying Medal and bar. There are a few others, but they’re foreign decorations, and King’s Regulations don’t insist on my wearing them.” There was a sort of hush in the store when he finished speaking. Everybody I could see had stopped doing what he had been doing and was staring at Braddock. One man had frozen with a mug of tea halfway to his mouth and as he stared the mug tilted and tea began to slosh out with - out his appearing to notice. “ Omigorsh!” mumbled Wally Soames. I have often wished I could have taken a picture of Wally at that moment. His mouth hung open and his eyes seemed to have slid a quarter of an inch out of their sockets. Only his waxed moustache saved him from being a dead ringer for a dead codfish.

Who were the Authors?


Matt Braddock VC - originated in the D C Thomson comic "The Rover" and the author was given as "George Bourne". The actual authors were the D C Thomson staff writers who would turn their hand to several different characters as required.

The main writer was Gilbert Lawford Dalton who was born in Kidderminster in 1903, the son of a journalist. His first job was with the Coventry Evening Telegraph and became a part time writer for various DC Thomson comics. In 1936 he became a full-time author. He was reputed to write up to a million words per year. Dalton settled in Leamington Spa after war service, moving to the South Coast in 1958. He died in 1963 at Weymouth.

Birmingham born Alan Hemus (1925-2009) wrote later Braddock stories.

More details of the stories below......................


James Bigglesworth DSO MC (or Biggles) - was featured in magazines and almost a hundred books by Captain W.E. Johns - published between 1932 and his death in 1968.

As Biggles and W.E. Johns are well documented I will do no more than point you to........


I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK (First series) The Rover from 2/8/1952 for 31 weeks

I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK (First series - repeat) The Rover from 22/2/1958 for 31 weeks

BRADDOCK MASTER OF THE AIR (Repeat of first series)
The Rover and Wizard from 24/12/1966 for 31 weeks




Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories




The Rover - 22nd. Feb 1958 - Page 142

SERGEANT-PILOT MATT BRADDOCK, V.C. and Bar, was one of the greatest airmen of the Second
World War. He antagonised every other person he
met, but even those who regarded him with bitter
resentment and hostility admitted that in the air
Braddock had no equal.

l’m Sergeant George Bourne. I did my training in navigation,
wireless and bomb-aiming in Scotland and on May 25, I940 was
posted to Squadron l8B of Bomber Command at Rampton aero-
drome in South-East England. All I knew was that the squadron
few Blenheims.
I needn’t say much about
myself beyond the fact that if
it hadn’t been for the war I
I might have become a pro-
fessional footballer. While play-
ing in goal for our works
team in Birmingham, I had
two or three offers to sign for
League clubs and might have
done so when I’d finished my
apprenticeship in the toolroom.
However the Germans put the
snuffler on those ideas.
When I got to Liverpool
Street Station to catch the
train to Rampton, I found
myself‘ in the crush behind a
burly fellow, who was using his
shoulders to barge a way
through to the barrier.
There were indignant
protests from the people on
whose toes he trod, but he was
deaf to them. He had the
stripes of a sergeant on his
R.A.F. tunic. His pilot’s wings
hung by a few threads. He
carried a kitbag but wasn't
wearing a cap.
This fact was immediately
noted by two R.A.F. police on
duty by the gate and they
pounced on him.
“You’re improperly
dressed !” snapped the sergeant
policeman. “ Where’s your
cap ?
“ Where you ought to be,
over in Belgium !” said the
offender gruffly.
He didn’t keep his voice
down and there were murmurs
of agreement from the Service-
men in the crowd.
“Where are your papers?”

the sergeant policeman de-
manded. ‘
“ With my cap,” growled the
sergeant-pilot. “ I’ve only got
a railway ticket.”
The sergeant took out his
“ Name ?” he demanded.
“ Braddock,” drawled the
pilot. ,
“Number?” snapped the
“ How should I know ?”
muttered Braddock.
‘The policeman thrust his
notebook back into his pocket.
“ Fall in,” he barked.
“ You’re under arrest.”
Braddock uttered a scoffing
“ Come on,” snarled the
sergeant. “ Quick march---”
Braddock slung his kitbag on
to his shoulder. It could have
been accidental, but he caught
the sergeant a resounding slap
on the side of the head and
knocked his hat off".
The policeman looked as if he
were going to explode from the
violence of his emotions as he
picked up his hat. He closed in
on Braddock with his comrade.
Braddock turned and winked
at the onlookers. He made no
attempt to keep in step as they
marched him away.
“He’s for it,” remarked a
corporal. “ They’ll have him
for every crime in the
The gates rattled open and
there was a rush for the train. I
was out of luck. The train was so
crowded that the best I could
do was stand in the corridor of
a first-class coach, mostly
occupied by officers.
I was leaning out of the
window watching the platform
scene when a running figure
burst through the gateway. It
was the sergeant policeman. He
legged it wildly towards the
guard who was getting ready to
wave his flag.
He reached the guard and
pointed back agitatedly towards
the entrance.
I thought that at least an
air-marshal was on his way, but
it was Braddock who ambled on
to the platform.
His hands were in his
pockets. Behind him came the
other policeman carrying the
While the guard and plat-
form inspector were blowing
their Whistles, Braddock
sauntered along the train. He
stopped opposite me.
It was the first time I'd
really seen him face to face and
it was at that moment I became
aware of his amazing eyes. I
suppose you would have called
them blue, but it was almost as
if a light were shining through
them, for they were astonish-
ingly luminous. His chin was
strong. His mouth was big and
full lipped. The nose had a
distinct twist across the bridge
from an old fracture.
I opened the door for him.
He took his kithag from the
“ So long, suckers !” he said.
He got into the corridor and
I pulled the door shut. The
train immediately began to
move. He peered into a com-
partment in which there were
two group captains, a colonel,
a major, and two vacant seats.
He pulled the corridor door
open, entered the compartment,
heaved his kitbag on to the rack
and sat down. Then he gestured
me in.
“ Take the weight off your
feet,” he growled.
I’d come down from Scotland
and was train weary. I went in
and sat down. The major
glared at us.
“This is a first-class com-
partment,” he snapped.
Braddock yawned.
“ I can read,” he said.
The rnajor went red with
“ I’m ordering you to get
out l” he snapped.
Braddock stretched his legs.
“ When did you buy the
railway ?” he inquired.

The maior shot an infuriated
glance at him. The group
captains shifted uncomfortably.
“ I shall report you to your
commanding officer for dis-
obeying an order and for
insolence,” the major rasped.
“ What’s your name?”
“ Rhymes with haddock-
The two group captains both
gave a start. They looked at
each other and then at
As the train roared under a
bridge, one of than spoke to the
major. I could not catch what
he said, but the major didn’t
have another word to say. In
evident confusion, he opened a
newspaper and hid himself
behind it.
Braddock winked at me and
then put his head back and
closed his eyes.
The train put down most of
its passengers at Colchester.
Braddock and I were left with
the compartment to ourselves.
I took out my cigarette case.
I did not smoke a great deal,
iust now and then. As I opened
it, I became aware that
Braddock was gazing at me.
I was going to offer him a
cigarette but he spoke first.
“ Smokings no good for
you,” he said curtly. “ Put
your fags away.”
I was too taken aback to
protest, and he added, “Bad
for your eyes !"
I shut the case and returned
it to my pocket.
' Going to Rampton ?” he
" Yes !” I replied.
“ So am I ! Lousy hole. Used
to be full of spit and polish
wallahs, sort of twirps who
thought you couldn’t fly a
plane unless you’d had your
hair cut and your buttons
polished.” Braddock’s lips took
a sardonic droop. “ Ha, ha,
that’s where I got kicked out.”
“ Kicked out ?” I echoed.
“ I was a week-end flier in
those days,” explained Brad-
dock, “ and we went there for a
course. I lasted about twenty-
four hours. Then they pushed
me out.”
I saw a dot in the sky and
peered out at it. Braddock
followed my stare. The aircraft
was no more than a speck.
“ Fairey Battle,” he said.
Braddock was right though
more than a minute elapsed,
with the plane approaching us,
before I was able to identify it
for myself.
The Rover - 22nd. Feb 1958 - Page 143


BRIEFLY, what was happening
at Rampton was that a
fresh squadron of Blenheim
bombers was being hurriedly
scratched together. France was
in a state of collapse. Our Army
was falling back towards the
The need for air support was
desperate. There was no time
for a squadron to train for
active service. What was being
done was to provide experienced
pilots, and make up the crews
with types like myself.
I found myself allocated as a
navigator-bomb-aimer to Fly-
ing Officer Taylor. Sergeant
Ken Coe was our gunner. "I
noticed from the list that
Braddock had a chap named
Simley as his navigator.
There was so much hustle
and bustle on arrival that I did
not see Braddock again till next
morning when we were ordered
to the briefing room.
Since the war, many
“ inquests ” have been held on
the German tactics at Dunkirk.
There has always been a
mystery as to why the full
weight of the Panzer Divisions
(the tanks) was not hurled at
Lord Gort’s army. All sorts of
suggestions have been made as
to why the Germans seemed to
hold back.
I am now going to narrate
what to my mind provides at
least a partial explanation of
the riddle.
We straggled into the brief-
ing room where , Squadron
Leader Peter Pitcairn was talk-
ing to the Adiutant, Flight
Lieutenant Srnythe. I liked the
look of Pitcairn. He was a lean,
sinewy type, an R.A.F. regular
and as smart in appearance as a
Guards officer.
We were told to sit down. I
had a chair by Ken Coe, who
had had some operational
experience as a gunner. Flying
Officer Taylor, also an R.A.F.
regular, was iust in front of us.
The door was shut. Pitcairn
glanced at his Watch and moved
so that he was standing in front
of the huge wall map.
“ Today We have an
illustration of the old saying that
needs must when the devil
drives,” he rapped out briskly.
“ In the ordinary course of
events, I should have been given
six months to knock you into
shape. But, events aren’t
ordinary, far from it, and we’ve
got to be up and doing straight-
away. We’re suffering as a
nation because we’ve been
caught unprepared. For myself
I’ve no use for the policy of

Muddling through,‘ but that’s
what we have to do. There’s a
job to do today and that’s Why
you’re here for briefing——-—”
The door opened. I saw Pit-
cairn frown. It was Braddock
who strolled in. He shoved the
door shut with his foot and sat
at the back.
Pitcairn reached for a pointer
and there was a rustle of maps.
Taylor turned. and beckoned for
me to bring my chair up to his.
As I moved, I looked round.
Braddock wasn’t bothering to
open a map. ’
“ There’s some very grave
business on the right-flank of
our rear-guards,” explained the
Squadron Leader. “ Reports
have reached us within the past
half — hour that a Panzer
division is concentrating in this
His pointer moved to the wall
“We have nothing to stop
them with—-except water. If we
can demolish the lock gates at
Boustrecke, here, the Waters
will be released and flood the
low-lying ground between the

rearguards and the Panzer
He slid the pointer through
his hand and let it strike the
floor with a thump.
“ It’s our job to destroy the
lock,” he said. “ It’s going to be
a tough iob. The Germans know
just as well as we do that it’s a
key point. The lock is protected
by anti-aircraft batteries and we
shall also have to keep our eyes
skinned for German fighters.
“ In brief,” he went on, “ it’s
a sticky iob but one that must
be pressed home with the
utmost determination.’ The Met
people promise us some cloud
cover on the way over. We
shall attack in waves and bomb
from a thousand feet with the
sun behind us if there is any
The hush, except for Pit-
cairn’s voice, was broken by
the sound of snoring.
Pitcairn shouted in anger.
“ Wake that man up! Take
his name !”
“ It’s Braddock,” said the
The pale-faced Simley gave
Braddock a shake. Braddock

blinked and yawned.
“ Stuffy in here, isn’t it ?” he
“ So that’s Braddock, is it ?”
muttered Taylor. “ One bomb
Braddock !”
“ One bomb ?” I said.
“ The story goes that he blew
up three bridges in front of the
German advance, flying a
Battle, and used only one bomb
each time,” answered my pilot.
“ Maybe it’s just another
Now that Braddock had been
aroused, Pitcairn went on with
the briefing. It seemed like an
operation which promised very
little future for the men who
took part in it.


AN hour later, we were cross~
ing the Channel. At 4000
feet, we were over a thin layer
of cloud. From my seat on the
starboard side of D for Don, I
could see C for Charlie, Brad-
dock’s machine.
Forward was the bombing

station into which I should
lower myself when the time
came. Ken Coe was isolated
from us in the gun turret, mid-
way along the fuselage.
Our two Mercury engines
were giving us an air speed of
240 miles an hour. Taylor was a
good pilot and though it was our
first ride together, I felt con-
fidence in him. We were carry-
ing a stick of three 350 lb.
I was strung-up but not in a
funk. I’d been scared stiff of
making a hash of my job but
I’d settled down all right and
had a good pilot to nurse me
along. Before we took off, the
C.O.’s last words had been that
the attack must be pushed right
home, regardless of opposition.
The cloud lay over the sea
and we ran into clear sky on
approaching the coast. To the
north-east, vast columns of
smoke were rising.
Our target was twenty miles
inland. The canal, a railway and
a main road formed a triangle.
The village of Boustrecke and
the lock were at the southern

Taylor’s voice rasped in the
“ Where’s C for Charlie off
to ?” he snapped and, when I
glanced to starboard, I saw that
Braddock had broken away and
was going on his own.
From that moment onwards,
I was too busy to think about
Braddock. Ken yelled,
“ Fighters!” and I had a
glimpse of three Messerschmitt
109’s flash past, apparently on
their way to attack our following
We droned across a flat green
and dun landscape with dykes
and roads as straight as rulers.
Along one of the roads
crawled a motorised convoy,
seeming to stretch for miles.
I did a quick check-up and,
unless I'd made a bad mistake,
the converging railway lines I
could see indicated that we were
approaching Nieuval Junction
and that the target was five
miles ahead.
I reported this to Taylor. He
said, “ Nice work! You’d better
get down now.”
I unfastened my safety belt
and slid down into the bomb-
aimer’s station. I looked down
through the bubble of perspex
at the ground and had the old
queer sensation of floating in
I saw a huddle of houses, a
glint of water and a bisecting
railway line. A few moments
later, I saw the lock and a tiny
target it appeared.
Taylor’s voice was calm and
“ I am going to turn into the
target now,” he said. “ Bomb
doors open.”
“ Bomb doors open!” I
From that moment, it ceased
to be practice stuff. Tiny pin-
points of flame winked below us.
The air filled with the smoke
smudges of exploding shells. I
felt the Blenheim shudder as if
it had been flown into an
invisible obstacle and then
resume its forward progress.
I did not blink as I kept my
gaze glued to the bomb-sight,
my hand on the bomb release
Smoke wreathed us. There
was another crash, another
terrific vibration.‘ Our speed
increased as Taylor put the nose
down and levelled out. We still
seemed a long way from the
I saw a blazing plane, a
Blenheim, plunging like a
gigantic torch. I saw another
staggering away, leaving a trail
of oily black smoke.
All round us were flashes and
puffs of smoke. We nosed in
towards the target. My mouth
The Rover - 22nd. Feb 1958 - Page 144

was dry - steady, keep her
steady - then, as I pressed the
release - BOMBS GONE !
I felt the Blenheim given
leap. It shuddered again at the
moment of turning. Then I
saw columns of smoke and
flame gush up as our bombs
exploded. I shouted in bitter
exasperation. We had straddled
the lock without hitting it.
Taylor was throwing the kite
about as he tried to get out of
the barrage. In one of the turns,
we again saw the lock - un-
touched, penning back the
water that had to be released to
stop the tanks.
It was then I had a startling
glimpse of a Blenheim hopping
over the roofs of the village. Its
outline was blurred in the smoke
as it flew just over the canal
towards the lock. I saw that
Blenheim's bombs go down.
Then three flashes like forked
lightning sizzled in the smoky
murk, and I couldn’t see the
lock for smoke.
I heaved myself out of the
bomb-aimer’s station and
scrambled back to my seat. I
looked across the fields. The
lock had gone. There was a huge
gaping hole from which the
water was gushing like a
Louder even than the roar of
our engines was a terrific
explosion just under us. Our
Blenheim turned clean over.
The hatch was blown out.
Objects flew round me. We
looped the loop and when we
came out of it, the plane was
diving and Taylor hung in his
straps with his head lolling like
an apple on a twig.
I unhooked myself, reached
over, grabbed hold of the stick
and pulled it back, hampered by
Taylor’s limp body. I gritted my
teeth, braced my legs and put
my weight on the stick and it
shifted. The horizon started to
fall away..Slowly the Blenheim
came back on to an even keel.
Looking back, I don’t know
how I got Taylor out of his seat
and into 1t myself. I tried to
speak to Ken, but the inter-
com was not working. Nothing
seemed to be working. The
compass needle had jammed
and according to the altimeter
we were at 17,000 feet.
I had flown a plane before but
was nowhere near a pilot’s
proficiency. During training, I
had handled an Anson in the air
though I’d never landed or tried
Except that Belgium was
underneath, I’d. no clear idea
of my whereabouts. All my
charts had blown away through
the hatch.
The Blenheim was flying
erratically. It kept dipping and
rising, dipping and rising like a
car on a switchback.
Another Blenheim appeared
to starboard. It was C for
Charlie. I turned my head and
saw Braddock. He lifted a hand
and signalled that I was to
follow him.
He led me out across the
coast and over the sea. When I
had time to look, I saw there
were holes in his port wing and
the rudder was chewed-up like
a boxer’s ear. Just the same, it

was Braddock who nursed me
across the Channel and led me
to an aeroclrome.
My heart was in my mouth as
I pulled the lever to lower the
wheels. There was no red light,
no warning wail. Unless the
warning devices had also packed
up, the wheels were down and
locked. But, I should have
forgotten all about the flaps if
Braddock hacln’t flown ahead of
me and put his down.
Well, I made it. Beginner’s
luck, I suppose. I bounced the
Blenheim as I pancaked but the
aircraft squatted squarely next
time and we were home, chased
down the runway by the fire-
tender and ambulance.
They got Taylor out and
rushed him away. Ken Coe
pushed his head out of his
“A bit rough,” he said.
“ Once or twice I thought we’d
had it.” '
We watched Braddock land
his plane amid frantic apprehen-
sion from the firemen. They
needn’t have worried. He
wouldrft have spilled a cup of
tea had it been on the wing.
He dropped to the ground
and pulled off his helmet.
“Nice work, George,” he
said, unruffled, laconic.
“ Where’s the canteen ?I want
a cuppa.”
His navigator, Simley,
lowered himself from the cock-
pit. He was as white as a sheet
and could not control his
trembling. ’
Braddock turned his back and
strode away in search of the
canteen. Simley tottered
towards us. His eyes were big
and staring.
“ He’s crazy, crazy!” he
gasped hoarsely. “He flew so
low that the blast from our
bombs turned us over. We were
flying upside down not twenty
feet from the ground.”
Later in the day, We were
flown back to Rarnpton. We
arrived to hear that of the eleven
Blenheims which had gone out,
only five had returned to base
and all had been damaged.
But, thanks to Braddock, the
Panzers were held up.
It was on the following
morning that the tannoy loud-
speakers ordered “ Sergeant
Bourne ” to report immediately
to the Squadron Commander.
Squadron Leader Pitcairn
was alone in his office when I
went in.
“ You did very well yester-
day, Bourne,” he said. “ I’m
pleased to tell you that the
A.O.C. Group has sent his
congratulations on your bring-
ing the aircraft home---”
“ I guess it was the instinct
of self-preservation, sir,” I
He smiled and then became
“ We’re having to shuffle the
squadron about,” he said;
“ Sergeant Braddock has asked
for you as his navigator. Any
comments ?”
He did not give me the
immediate chance of answer-
“ Flying with Braddock isn’t
everybody’s cup of tea,” he
Went on to say. “ Some might
think there’s very little future
in it.”
I was hardly listening. I’d
already made up my mind. I
got a tremendous kick out of the
fact that Braddock had asked for
“ I’d like to be in his crew,” I
“You can have a night to
think it over,” replied Pitcairn.
“No, I’ll go with him,” I
That was how I became
navigator to Braddock.
Navigator - to a pilot with a
sense of direction like a homing
pigeon! It makes me laugh to
think of it. Still, what’s in a
name ? I flew with Braddock.
I found him in the Sergeants’
Mess slinging darts at the dart-
“ Do you play this game ?”
he asked.
I gave a nod. I was good at
“ The C.O.’s iust had me in
to tell me I’m going with you,” I
exclaimed. ‘
“ Fine,” grunted Braddock.
“ Ready ?”
I selected a set of darts. As
we were getting ready to play,
Flight-Sergeant Harman came
in. He was an regular, a
hard-bitten looking fellow of
The Rover - 22nd. Feb 1958 - Page 145

26 or 27. He sat on the edge of
a table and watched.
We decided to play 301 up,
starting and finishing, of course,
with a double.
Braddock hardly seemed to
take aim. His first throw was
the Double Twenty which set
him off. Then he threw a
Treble Twenty, went for it
again, just grazed the wire and
scored a Twenty—a total, of
Harman laughed.
“ You’ve caught a tartar,
George,” he said.
“ I shall see he gives me a
start next time,” I smiled.
The game was a foregone
conclusion. Braddock won
Harman had the next game
with him, but didn’t do much
better. Another pilot, Charlie
Black, saw rnost of it.
“ You’ll have to take your
darts down to the Hen and
Squirrel, Brad,” he said,
referring to the village inn.
“ They have a champion who
plays there.”
Braddock looked interested.
“ A champ, eh ?” he grunted.
“ He won some tournament
in Birmingham,” said Charlie.
“ They keep his cup in a glass
“I’ll have to have a game
with him,” remarked Braddock.
“ Forget it!” Harman ex-
claimed. “ The place has been
out of bounds for a week.”
“ Then it shouldn’t be,”
growled Braddock. “ I never
drink - it’s bad for the eyes -
but why should I be barred
from having a game of darts ?”
“ Because it’s - orders,”
retorted Harman. “ There was
too much careless talk. Walls
have ears and all that !”
“ Lot of rot !” said Braddock.
Harman dismissed the subiect
with a shrug.
“ Do I have to remind you
chaps that there’s a lecture this
evening ?” he exclaimed.
“ Attendance is compulsory.”
“ That’s a bind,” said
Charlie Black.
“ First I’ve heard of it!”
snapped Braddock.
“ It was given out in orders
and it’s on the notice board,”
stated the flight-sergeant.
Braddock made no comment.
He laid three darts on the palm
of his hand and propelled them
off with a flick. He scored three


TOWARDS l9.00 hours, seven
o'clock in the evening, there
was a. move towards the briefing
room in which the lecture was
to take place.
To me, there were many un-
familiar faces among the fellows
who were lining up to go in. In
addition to 18B, Rampton had
a second Blenheim Squadron
and a third was in process of
Harman and another flight-
sergeant ticked off our names as
we went in.
I was looking forward to the
lecture. It was to be given by

Group Captain Halder, a staff
officer at Group, and we under-
stood he was going to talk to us
about Bomber Command’s part
in the present emergency.
We all stood when Group
Captain Martingley, the Com-
manding Officer, walked in.
When I saw Group Captain
Halder I knew I’d seen him
before. He had been in our
compartment on the journey
from Liverpool Street.
Squadron Leader Pitcairn and
other officers moved to their
chairs. The doors were shut.
The Commanding Officer
briefly introduced the speaker
whom, he said, had just
returned to England after
liaison work with the French
Air Force.
Halder stood and moved
towards the blackboard.
“ First of all, I must con-
gratulate Squadron I8B on the
very good iob they did in

destroying the lock at Bous-
trecke,” he said crisply. “ The
Army are very pleased about
it. I hear that Sergeant
Braddock applied the finishing
touch . . . ’
He paused and looked round.
“ Is Sergeant Braddock
here ?” he inquired.
“ He should be,” said
Martingley and looked
questioningly across the room.
Harman’s voice rang out.
“ No sir, he’s not here,” he
reported .
There was a brief, tense
pause and then Halder started
to give his talk.
"We're in a tight corner ”
he said. “ In a few days’ time,
we shall have been thrown out
of Europe. The only attacking
weapon then left in our hands
will be that of Bomber Com-
mand. We are the only people
who can hurt the enemy on his
own ground. While Fighter
Command will be fighting hard
to withstand the inevitable
attacks by the Luftwaffe, the
German Air Force, we’ll still be
able to hit the Hun where it hurts.
“ Believe me, we’re going to
have a vital job in stopping

Hitler, the German dictator,
from becoming a modern
William the Conqueror. We
shall halt him, don’t fear that,
but only if we pull out all the
stops. First, we have to
help to get our army off the
Dunkirk beaches . . .”
I found Halder’s talk of
absorbing interest. He left us in
no doubt as to the grimness of
the situation. Our attacking arm
was weak. We had a few
squadrons of Whitleys and
Wellingtons for long-range
probes. ’We were fairly well off
for Blenheims, though Coastal
Command also needed them,
and replacements would be
meagre because of the demands
of Fighter Command.
“ Believe me, you are not
regarded as expendable,” he
said earnestly. “ It’s common-
sense, isn’t it? We are short of
machines, and we are short of
air crews. You won’t be sent

out on suicide operations, but
when you are given a mission
you must look on it as vital
and bang it right home.”
Much of the lecture was
technical. The recent air fight-
ing had provided much valuable
“ gen” about the Luftwaffe.
He told us, for instance, that
though the Messerschmitt 110
had great speed and rate of
climb, its manoeuvrability was
poor and its tail unit was
dangerously weak. .
He made the point that the
Germans’ ground to air com-
munications were poor. -
“lt’s extraordinary, but the
Hun appeared to think he could
do without ground control,” he
said; “Now he’s finding out
that he can’t. He’ll catch up in
time, of course, but it’s a weak
point at the moment.”
The lecture, with answers to
questions, lasted for fully two
hours. Discussing what we had
heard, we gradually filtered out.
I saw a motor vehicle, with
the label “R.A.F. Police” on
tihe windscreen, enter the aero-
Harman flung up an arm
and pointed at the truck.

“ Braddock’s been pinched 1”
he exclaimed.
I broke into a run and was
not far away when the vehicle
stopped outside the hut occupied
by the Provost Marshal for
the area and his staff".
Braddock, without a cap and
with his hands in his pockets,
got out. Two service policemen
closed in on him.
There was an angry scowl on
his face.
“ A chap can’t have a game
of darts now,” he groused.
“ Be quiet!” barked the
police sergeant. “Right turn.
Quick march!”
With Braddock out of step,
the three men vanished inside
the hut.
His few words gave the clue
as to what had happened, He
had dodged the lecture to
play darts at the Hen and
Squirrel and had been picked
up by the R.A.F. police.
It was about half an hour
later when Harman came into
our hut.
“ Where’s Braddock ?” I
asked anxiously.
“ They’re keeping him,” he
said. “ He’s in the cooler. He’ll
stay there, too. He’s stretched
out his neck a bit too far. The
C.O. is hot on discipline.
We’ve seen the last of Braddock
for a long time.”
“ Yes, they might have only
torn a strip off him for missing
the lecture, but they’ll take a
dim view of his breaking
bounds!” exclaimed Charlie
Black. "
I slipped a slab of chocolate
into my pocket. I knew Braddock
liked chocolate and since he had
missed his supper I guessed he
would be htmgry. Then I
ambled out.
By a bit of weaving, I came
up behind the brick detention
hut without being observed.
There were a number of small
windows, each covered by a
grille. Behind the bars, the
windows could be opened for
the sake of ventilation.
I found three or four bricks
to stand on and, by lifting my-
self on tip-toe, was iust able to
look through the first window.
It gave access to a narrow
cell. I saw a pair of legs stretched
out on the bed. When I tapped
the glass, the legs vanished. A
moment later, Braddock was
looking through the bars at me.
When I held up the chocolate
he grinned and pulled at the
window. It was stiff and, when
it did go, opened an inch or two
with a rasp.
I hurriedly pushed the choco-
late through to him.
“ Thanks, George,” he said.
“ Hurry up and beat it -”
I heard footsteps coming and
legged it in the opposite direc-
tion. As I banked on hard
rudder to turn the corner there
was a gruff shout of “ Got
him,” and a service policeman
with a grip like a gorilla flung
his arms round me.

He’s the greatest pilot of them
all, but he’s never out of
trouble. Look out for more
thrills with Matt Braddock in
“The Rover” out next



I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK (Second series) The Rover from 7th Mar 1953 for 22 weeks

I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK (Second series - repeat) The Rover from 11th Oct 1958 for 22 weeks

BRADDOCK MASTER OF THE AIR (Repeat of Second series) The Rover and Wizard from 26th Aug 1967 for 22 weeks




Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories


The Rover and Wizard 26th Aug 1967 - Page 7

Sergeant Matt Braddock, V.C., D.F.M.,
was one of the R.A.F.’s greatest pilots.
His story is told here by Sergeant George
Bourne, D.F.M., who flew as his naviga-
tor. At the time this new series of
episodes opens, Bourne had not seen
Braddock for three months. He’s had one
postcard from him which conveyed the
news that he was “in the pink,” but which
contained no further information. In Sept-
ember, 1941, Bourne received a posting to
Carstock, in Oxfordshire. This appoint-
ment came after he’d finished a course in
special aerial photography. The back-
ground of the war was that the German
armies dominated Europe and were
advancing far into Russian territory. In
North Africa, British troops had been
driven back by the Germans and Italians
into Egypt.

From the moment I arrived at
Carstock, I had the feeling
that I was a square peg in
a round hole. Two squadrons of
Spitfires used for reconnaissance
were stationed there. You don't
have to be told that the pilot of a
Spitfire flies on his own. There was
no need tor navigators there.
The Stationmaster was Group
Captain Renton and the squadrons
were commanded by Squadron
Leaders Lambourne and Trayle.
Since a sergeant-navigator was of no
importance, I kicked my heels about
for a couple of days.
Then a big excitement or “flap”
started. Several of the pilots had been
awarded decorations, and a Deputy
Secretary of State for Air, Lord Prender—
gast, was coming to present the medals.
It soon became evident that the officers
regarded this investiture as an important
occasion, and they began getting every-
thing and everybody poshed up.
The fuss started with long periods of
drill several times a day under the eagle
eye of Flight-Sergeant Grimes. To and
fro upon the concrete apron in front of
the main hangars marched the R.A.F.
Regiment, who were to provide the
Guard of Honour, and with them
everybody else who could be roped in.
I was careful to keep out of the way.
One morning, however, I was pounced
on by Grimes and forced to go on parade.
After three days of this misery the
morning of the ceremony dawned fine,
to the acute disappointment of those
who had hoped it would be rained off.
The band played and the bayonets
of the Guard of Honour flashed as the
important visitor appeared in the dis-
tinguished company of an Air Vice-
Marshal and other brass hats.
It was just as the Guard of Honour
was being inspected that a Harvard,
which could claim to be the noisiest
plane in the world, flew into the circuit.
Lord Prendergast pretended he could
not hear anything, but behind him some
scowling faces were looking up.
A rocket blazed from the control
tower with a woosh and burst into red
stars, warning the pilot off.
He flew overhead and his plane drowned
the band, went round, dived over the
perimeter track, pancaked, and taxied
from the runway to the side of the apron.
During this period the ceremony was
held up, since even Flight- Sergeant
Grimes could not make himself heard.
The engine wheezed, spluttered, and
stopped. ,Group Captain Renton, his
complexion red with rage, passed on
the order that the pilot was to be placed
under arrest.
I saw the cockpit cover open. A bulging
kitbag was dropped on to the wing. A
greatcoat fluttered after it, and then a
brown paper parcel.

The pilot who got out was Matt
Braddock in a shabby, unbuttoned tunic,
baggy trousers, and shoes without polish.
His face was hard and rugged and he had
amazing eyes. They were big and luminous
as if a lamp were burning behind them.
Flight Sergeant Keddy and Sergeant
Drax, of the R.A.F. Police, marched
towards him.
Just as they reached him the band
stopped playing and his voice was clearly
“ I can’t help it,” he was saying.
“ Don’t they know there’s a war on ?”
We saw Braddock pick up his kitbag,
greatcoat, and brown paper parcel and
trudge away with the two R.A.F. police-
For me, Braddock’s arrival provided
the clue as to why I had been posted to
Carstock. I would have bet all my cash,
which wasn’t much, that we were going
to fly together again.

The Rover and Wizard 26th Aug 1967 - Page 8

The ceremonial went on.
The only part which impressed
me was the presentation of the
medals. We marched past and
then came the word our feet
were aching for, “Dismiss,”
I inquired about Braddock
and nearly had an ear bitten
off by Sergeant Drax. Braddock
was in the guardroom and,
in the sergeant’s opinion, would
be lucky to get away with
less than three months in the
I was outside during the
afternoon when there was a
hum of aircraft engines
up above.
This was no returning Spit-
fire. I saw Group Captain
Renton and Squadron Leader
Trayle come out of the admini-
stration building and join those
of us who were looking sky-
A lovely-looking twin-
engined aircraft, flew into the
“ It’s a Mosquito, sir,” Trayle
“First I’ve seen,” Renton
said. “ Hello, he’s putting his
wheels down. He’s going to
land here.”
“ It’s not the Mosquito night
fighter which has a flat wind-
screen,” the Squadron Leader

“ It might be the Mosquito
Bomber with that transparent
nose,” declared the Station-
master. “It will only be a
visitor here. It can’t be for us.”
The Mosquito glided in
gracefully, watched by many
admiring eyes.
The door slid open. A tall
man with dark, wavy hair
and an arrogant expression
on his handsome face, jumped
down. He was wearing white
overalls and a striped tie.
“ Upon my word, it’s Wayne,
Hugh Wayne,” exclaimed
I knew that name. Who
didn’t? It was one of the
greatest names in aviation.
Wayne was both a designer
and a test pilot, one of the
leading figures in British
He stood by the plane while
Renton and Trayle hurried
towards him. His keen gaze
swept round.
“Where’s Braddock?” he
demanded. “ He should be
here to take over the plane.
Hasn’t he come?”

IF the Group Captain
had been asked if
there was an uncaged
tiger about the place he
could not have been
more surprised.
Wayne hitched back his cuff
and glared at his wrist watch.
“Has the R.A.F. messed
things up?” he snapped.
“ Sometimes I think you people
couldn’t run a whist drive.
You’re all flannel and no
action. I was definitely promised
by the Commander-in-Chief
that Braddock would be wait-
ing for me.”
Renton was still in a daze.
“ He was to fly here in a
Harvard,” went on Wayne.
“I was to go back in it.”
“He has arrived,” Renton
spluttered and t u r n e d
brusquely on Trayle. “ Send
Braddock here immediately,
Squadron Leader.”
Trayle left the scene at the
double. Renton offered his
cigarette case to Wayne.
Wayne shook his head.
“Nobody is to enter this
Mosquito except Braddock and
his navigator,” he said. “You
might as well know it’s the
first photo-recce Mosquito ever
made, and there are features
about it that we’re keeping
secret. We’re sending mechanics
from the works to service it.”
I saw hurrying figures in
the distance. Lagging behind

them was Braddock. His tunic
was unbuttoned and he wasn’t
wearing a cap.
He strolled towards Wayne.
“ Did you get the job done ?”
he asked.
Wayne nodded. .
“Yes, what you suggested
was an improvement,” he said.
“I told you it would be,”
remarked Braddock.
Then he beckoned to me.
“ Come on, George,” he
called out. “You’re in on
I hurried to join them by
the aircraft. Wayne gave me a
casual glance.
“ So he’s your navigator,
is he?” he said.
"‘ That’s right,” replied
Braddock, and gave me a wink.
I had better put in some-
thing about the history of the
Mosquito. The Mosquito was
of such splendid design that
the R.A.F. ordered bomber,
fighter, and photo-recce
versions before the first
Mosquito had flown.
It was originally intended
as a very fast, unarmed bomber,
but it was such a magnificent
aeroplane that it served
numerous purposes. The first
Mosquito Bomber flew in
November 1940, the Mosquito
Night Fighter in May I941,
and the Mosquito Photo-Recce
plane in June.
For a minute or two, Brad-
dock admired the plane.
Then Wayne said, “ It’s
yours to do the job.”
“ If the weather’s right, I’ll
do the job tomorrow,” replied
Wayne’s stare became un-
blinking and merciless.
“You know the orders,”
he snarled. “ If you’re cornered,
you’ll put this plane into the
ground, put it into the ground
so hard that if the Germans
spend a year on the job they
won’t be able to make any
sense of the bits. There’s
only one way to make sure
of smashing it to atoms and
that’s to stay in it and power
dive. Remember, if you’re
cornered, do that!”
“All right,” said Braddock
calmly. “Is that okay with
you, George?”
“Yes,” I replied.
Wayne just grinned, then
he turned and strode away.
With the curtest of nods to
the Stationmaster, he headed
for the Harvard for his flight
back home.
“Where are we going,
Brad ?” I asked.
“ Where do you think ?” he
“Berlin,” I joked. .
“George, you're a mind-
reader,” he said.
It was my turn to look
“By day ?” I gasped.
“That’s the idea,” said
Braddock. “ We want some
proper photos. You and me are
going to get ’em. Come on,
we’l1 have a trip round so that
you can get the feel of the
There were footsteps behind
us. The two police, Keddy
and Drax, were closing in on
He gave them a calculating
look. Keddy slapped a hand
down on his shoulder.
“ You’re still in custody,”
he snapped.
Braddock shook himself free.
“Come over here, please,”
he shouted to the Station-
Group Captain Renton was
already on the move.
“There will be no charge
against Sergeant Braddock,”
he said to the two police.
“ Wait a minute, exclaimed
Braddock. “These two cops
are to be shut up somewhere
by themselves and not let out
till George and I come back
“ I can’t do that,” spluttered
Renron. ,
“ I’m not asking, I’m telling
you,” said Braddock. “ If you
don’t, then the flight’s off.”
“Very well,” answered the
Group Captain after a pause.
I wish I could give a photo-
graph of Keddy and Drax
when they heard that they
were going to be put into
solitary confinement.
“Aren’t you being a bit
hard on ’em, Brad ?” I asked
as they walked away.
“They might have heard
you say Berlin,” retorted
Braddock. “ If a whisper leaked
out and got to the other side,
the Germans would be waiting
for us. We have over a thousand
miles to fly and, Well, you
heard Wayne say what we’ve
got if we’re trapped.
We’re not taking chances, that’s

WHILE we went to
kit up, sentries
kept guard over
the Mosquito.
“ It’s a grand plane, George,”
Braddock said enthusiastically.

The Rover and Wizard 26th Aug 1967 - Page 9

“ It’s tops. I’ve never flown
one half so good.”
“Have you been at the
factory these three months
since I last saw you ?” I asked.
“Most of it,” replied
Braddock. “ Do you know what
the machine’s made of ?”
“ Some light alloy,” I
“Have another think,” he
chuckled. “ It’s made of birch-
wood laths and balsa plywood
glued under pressure. The
wings and fuselage are covered
in doped cloth.”
“ Sounds flimsy,” I gasped.
“ It’s about the strongest
plane ever made,” he said.
“As for speed, we can cruise
at three-seventy-five miles an
hour at twenty—five thousand
feet. You can add another
ten thousand feet to get its
“ Some plane," I exclaimed.
“ It’s the war winner,”
declared Braddock. .
When I climbed the ladder
I found there was a wonderful
view from the cockpit which
was placed over the leading
edge of the wing. The seats
were practically side by side.
Under the nose was a little
compartment with a trans-
parent panel. From here the
two cameras, one on each
side, were operated. Instead
of being a bomb-aimer I should
be the camera-aimer, so to
I settled down comfortably,
fixed the straps, and put on
the oxygen-mask with its micro-
phone. '
Braddock started the engines
and we waited for them to
warm up. Then there was a
hiss of compressed air as he
released the brakes. The air-
screws kicked up the dust
as we taxied on to the runway.
I was able to watch Braddock
closely. He held the brakes
on hard while he ran each
“ Main !” he snapped.
I checked that the petrol
cocks were switched “on.”
“Main, okay,” I said.
Braddock released the brakes
and his hand moved on the
throttles. I felt the surge of
power, pinning me back in
my seat. In a few moments
our tail was off the ground.
Braddock jerked at a lever to
lift the stumpy undercarriage.
I unhooked my table and
let it down then. I made my
first note in a new log-book.
I settled down to get my
bearings. I looked at the gyro-

compass, which instantly re-
corded any change of direction,
the air-speed indicator and
the altimeter. They would
become my business when I
was navigating.
Then I looked up and uttered
a gasp of alarm.
“ Your port engine’s
stopped,” I exclaimed.
“ I was wondering whet
you’d n o t i c e,” chuckled
Then, to my amazement
with the port propeller still
stopped, he put the Mosquito
into a slow roll. '
My confidence in the plane
increased when we completed
the roll without any loss of
In addition to our marvellous
view ahead there was a good
view astern. l
“A Spitfire is chasing us
George,” said Braddock after
glancing in the rear—vision
mirror and then turning his
head. “Now you’ll see some-
I guess the lad in the Spit
had a surprise. No doubt
he was coming along to take
a close-up view of a new
plane. Braddock’s hand moved
on the throttles. I felt a “ kick ”
in the back from our accelera-
It was incredible, but we
were leaving the Spitfire behind
in level flight. We went away
from it with the greatest of
“ Gosh, Brad, there’s nothing
in the world to catch us,” I
By the time we turned back
for base, I had learned the
lay-out of the cockpit. I had
left my seat and been down
to the front compartment to
get the hang of things.
When we called the ’drome
on the radio, the Controller
stood us off. We saw that at
Anson was about to land.
“ I guess that Faithful Annie
Anson has brought our ground
crew,” Braddock said over the
“It’s a queer set-up,” 1
replied. “ I can understand
the Stationmaster being
“ Believe me it’s necessary,”
said Braddock. “ I had a talk
with a bloke from M.I.5.
He mighty soon convinced
me that we’ve taken some
hard knocks because some of
our chaps couldn’t keep their
big mouths shut.”
We were told by the Con-
troller to pancake. Braddock
made a silky landing, and
taxied to a bay under camouflage
It was there I met Frank
and Pete, the mechanics who
had come in that Anson, and
Harry Howard, who was to
look after the cameras. They
were to be the new Mosquito’s
ground crew.
Braddock took me a short
distance away from the aircraft.
“You go ahead and work
out your course for tomorrow
now, George,” he said. “ Lock
yourself up somewhere with
your maps and don’t open
the door for anyone less than
Winston Churchill himself.

THAT night, round
I about a quarter-
past ten, Braddock
and I were together in our
sleeping quarters. We had
been given a room with a
couple of beds to our-
I had spread my maps on
my bed. Across them I’d
ruled the thin pencilled lines
that marked the course we
had to follow on our flight
to Berlin.
Braddock went over those
maps inch by inch. We picked
landmarks in order to check
drift. .
By this stage of the war,
the enemy had his radar
stations in operation over wide
areas. Therefore we had
arranged several changes of
direction so as to mislead
their radar.
What Bomber Command
wanted from us was pictures
of Berlin’s new war factories
in the north-eastern part of
the city.
There were two forms of
aerial photography, the vertical

from high levels and the
oblique from low.
Low level “obliques” of
shipping, roads, bridges,
defences, etc., were of great
value to the ground forces.
“Verticals” gave the wider
view, and from them photo-
graphic maps could be con-
Braddock and I were after
“verticals,” and We should
take them in steady flight from
25,000 feet.
I knew this wouldn’t be a
piece of cake. We were bank-
ing on speed and surprise.
We should have to fly dead-
straight and level during the
Without warning the door
opened and Flight - Sergeant
Grimes stepped in.
“ Get out of here,” roared
Braddock, while I hurriedly
scooped the maps together.
Grimes strutted towards us.
Anger reddened. his face.
“The C.O. wants you
immediately,” he said.
I stuffed the maps into my
navigation bag.
“ Bring ’em along, George,”
Braddock snapped. “Don’t
leave ’em lying about.”
We left the hut and passed
through the black-out to the
administration buildings. Group
Captain Renton waited for us
in his office. The Adjutant
was with him.
Braddock spoke first.
“Before anything else is
said, sir, I must ask for Flight
Sergeant Grimes to be shut
up by himself,” he said gruffy.
“What are you talking
about ?” exclaimed R e n t o n,
while Grimes looked as if he
were swallowing a lemon.
“Tomorrow’s job is off
unless you do as I say,” said
Braddock. “ He came bursting
into our room while we had
maps exposed.”
Renton gnawed at his lip.
He was being asked to shut
up one of his most trusted
“I’m afraid you put your
foot in it, Grimes,” he said
reluctantly. “ You will be con-
fined to your room.”
With a scarlet face, and a
dirty look at Braddock, Grimes
did an about turn and marched
out, followed by Hopper.
'“I didn’t want to upset
the chap, but I want to bring
the Mosquito back in one
piece,” growled Braddock.
The Stationmaster uttered
a short, harsh laugh.
“The R.A.F. is being
The Rover and Wizard 26th Aug 1967 - Page 10

lectured about security, but
the factory mechanics sent here
to be the Mosquito’s ground
crew are the ones with loose
tongues,” he said.
“What have they done?”
inquired Braddock.
“Tonight they went to the
Rose and Crown,” rapped out
Renton. “ There was a police-
man in plain clothes mixing
with the crowd. He heard
Frank Harris arguing with Pete
Paull about the distance to
Bordeaux and back. The latter
answered that the new plane
would do the trip on half a
tank of fuel.”
“ What have you done about
it ?” Braddock asked.
“ They were arrested as soon
as they got back to their
quarters,” stated the Station-
master. '
Braddock grinned broadly.
“ Then you’d better let ’em
out,” he said. “They've done
a good job.”
Renton gave a jump.
“A good job ?” he echoed.
“Not half,” said Braddock.
“I'm not going to Bordeaux.
I can tell you that much.”
Renton leaned back in his
“ So it was intended to
deceive any enemy spy who
might hear it,” he muttered.
“That’s right,” said Brad-
dock. “ I put Frank and Pete
up to it.”

WE had breakfast just
as it was getting
light. My confi-
dence in Braddock and the
Mosquito was such that
my appetite did not suffer.
After his second cup of tea,
Braddock went off to phone
the “Met” office at Group.
He wasn’t away long. When
he came back he turned up a
“ It’s on, George,” he said.
“ I’1l give you the details in
a minute, but, in a nutshell,
We’ll have light cloud for part
of the journey. Clear sky is
forecast over the target.”
Renton was waiting for us
when we went out.
“The best of luck,” he
exclaimed. “When shall we
be seeing you again?”
“ Inside five hours with any
luck,” said Braddock.
With my navigation bag
over my shoulder, I climbed
up into the plane. I ought
to mention that the bag had

never left me. I’d slept with
it in my bed.
My last glimpse of the
’drome was when Braddock
did a broad turn. "
“Switch over, George,” he
I leaned over and turned the
petrol cocks from the main
to the outer tanks. It was
correct to take off on the
main tanks, but then to use
the fuel in the wing tanks
“Over,” I reported.
I gave Braddock his course
and told him we should be
crossing the coast in nine
Our plan was to fly low
across the Channel, to evade
the enemy radar as long
as possible, leapfrog in
over the French coast, and
later to zoom upwards.
We were not hurrying. Our
speed was no more than 250
miles an hour.

It was routine at first, but
when we passed over the
English coast Braddock dived
to within 20 feet of the water.
I could tell by Braddock’s
attitude that he was as wary
as a hare. You don’t sit back
and relax when you’re low
flying. One dip, and you’ve
had it. Water is as hard as
concrete when you’re flying
at 250 miles an hour.
The French coast came up
as a hazy line which rapidly
grew firmer. So far so good.
Our landmark, a large house
on a cliff, was ahead. I kept
my fingers crossed in the
hope that the German gunners
weren’t waiting to draw a
bead on us.
I saw a flash and I said,
“They’re shooting.”

“No,” grunted Braddock.
“ It’s a glint of sunshine on a
We swerved, straightened,
whisked over the sands, and
leapt the cliffs, and if anybody
shot at us we didn’t know it.
There were thin layers of
cloud ahead. Braddock said,
“I'm going up,” and drew
back the stick.
We went up like a rocket.
I switched on my oxygen as
we continued to climb. The
earth dropped away from us.
At 25,000 feet we levelled out.
I saw three dots away over
our starboard wing and flying
on a course that would intercept
us. .
“ Huns, Brad I” I exclaimed.
“Messerschmitt 109’s,” he
said as calmly as if they were
I hoped he had cause to
be calm. The Me. 109 was
the fighter most respected by

our fighter pilots during the
Battle of Britain.
The Messerschmitts took
shape and were streaking across
the sky like furies.
“ It’s almost too warm, isn’t
it ?” remarked Braddock, and
He made a slight change
of course. He opened the
throttles and our speed jumped
up with a shrill scream.
The Messerschmitts got no
nearer, and I soon realised
they were dropping back. With
our air speed verging on 400
miles an hour in level flight
we were leaving them.
I noted the time in my log
with the remark, “Three Me.
109’s sighted, but they soon
got out of breath.”
We sped on, penetrating

farther and farther over enemy
territory. The silver thread
below us was the Rhine. We
kept away from the industrial
haze hanging over the manu-
facturing areas. Towns meant
anti-aircraft guns.
The country was green and
featureless. We picked up the
landmarks we had fixed, a
railway junction, a lake, a
I took a look at my map
of Berlin. Ruled on it was
a rectangle. It respresented
the area that we wanted to
photograph. We had worked
out that we should need three
runs across the area to do the
job. .
Then I did. a check on
our position.
“ Berlin eight minutes ahead,
Brad,” I said.
“Okay,” he answered.
“ Better look after your cameras
now.” '
I unhitched myself and got
down. The camera controls
took the place of the bomb-
release apparatus. There was
nothing between me and
Germany except a panel of
glass. My shoulders were against
the curved plywood wall and
my legs stuck out of the
The two cameras were
adjusted so that. the area photo-
graphed by one slightly over-
lapped that covered by the
other. The film moved as
in a cine-camera, but with
an interval of three seconds
between exposures. Each photo-
graph had a big overlap over
its predecessor.
I checked over the gear,
gave each camera a brief run,
and saw that the correct speed
was indicated on the gauges.
“ Berlin!” growled Braddock.
While I had been busy, we
had closed up on the sprawling
I wondered how could the
gunners miss us as we flew
straight and level?
Braddock seemed to read
my thoughts.
“ Put yourself in their shoes,
George,” he said. “ We’re just
a dot in the sky to them.”
I picked up our pinpoint,
a railway bridge across a canal.
“Target coming up,” I
muttered, and started the

Braddock and Bourne are off
for a bash at Berlin. How
they got on you'll find out



I Flew With Braddock-3 for consistency – actually titled…

BRADDOCK FLEW BY NIGHT (Third series) The Rover from 19th Sept 1953 for 11 weeks

BRADDOCK FLEW BY NIGHT (Third series - repeat) The Rover and Wizard from 11th  May 1968 for 11 weeks

Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories


The Rover and Wizard 11th  May 1968 - Page 2

Many, many readers have asked for another story about the R.A.F.’s No. I pilot,
Matt Braddock. Here it is. IT STARTS TODAY.

HERE I am again, writing about the war-time exploits of one of the
greatest airmen of all time, Sergeant Mott Braddock, V.C.
I am Sergeant George
Bourne, and I flew as his navigator.
The story I now have to tell is
about the great bomber offensive
against Germany during the 1939-
45 war.

I had flown with Braddock in many
diiferent types of aircraft and on over
a hundred missions. First of all, we were
in Blenheims and Hampden bombers
and took part in many raids on the barges
Hitler was assembling for his I940
invasion of Britain that never came off.
Then, when the German raids against
Britain were at their height, we were
switched to the Beaufighters and had our
share of stalking and destroying the
German bombers at night.
After that we were given one of the
first Mosquito fighters and were used to
try out rockets, the new weapons.
Our last flight with a Mosquito showed
Braddock’s uncanny ability for finding
a target.
We were in our hut at Wanborough
Aerodrome that afternoon. The door
flew open and an aircraftman dashed in.
“ Could you get over to Flying
Control?” he panted. “ I don’t know
what’s happened, but there’s a big flap
on. The armourers are rushing rockets
over to your plane.”
Braddock fetched his flying coat off
the peg and picked up his helmet.
“ We’ll go and see what the excite-
ment’s about, George,” he said.
Twenty minutes later we were airborne
and headed seawards in search of a German
submarine--a U-boat—-that was known
to be limping on the surface towards
the port of Brest after a bombing attack
on it by a Sunderland flying-boat.
We knew the position in which the
U-boat had been attacked by the Sunder-
land, and it was estimated that its speed
after that was ten knots.
The clouds were low. We flew through
rain which cut down visibility to less than
a mile.
It was a day when sensible birds would
have walked. Even as low as a thousand
feet we flew in and out of dirty cloud.
Braddock asked for our position and I
gave him my estimate. For a moment he
considered it.
“ No, you’re a bit out, George,” he
said. “ You haven’t allowed enough
drift. The wind’s stronger than you
I added ten knots to the estimated speed
of the wind and gave my correction,
“ That’s more like it,” grunted Brad-
dock; “ We shan’t be far out.”
“ I don’t fancy our chances of finding
the submarine,” I said as we were struck
by a squall.
We roared on. It was blind flying most
of the time. I stared into the haze and
reckoned we might as well have stayed at
Braddock’s voice crackled on the inter-
communication set.
“ Arm the rockets, George,” he said.
“ I reckon we’re getting hot.”
Braddock tipped the Mosquito over in
a tight turn. In the gloom there were
sudden flickers and flashes.
Braddock chuckled grimly.
“ Somebody is shooting at us, George.
They’ve heard us coming.”
Ahead of us I saw the shape of a
trawler, and beyond it the slate-coloured
There were flashes both from the
trawler and the conning-tower of the
submarine. We whirled away, turned,
climbed a few hunmed feet, and then
Braddock pressed the button and I
saw the salvo of rockets, leaving fleecy
trails of smoke, striking the U-boat.
Eight sixty-pound warheads punctured
the skin of the submarine and exploded
inside its vitals. We saw a terrifc sheet
of flame shoot up from the cunning-
tower of the doomed U-boat and turned
Braddock broke radio silence and
called base. _
“Found it, sunk it,” he said. “ Our
time of arrival is seventeen-thirty. Put
the kettle on.”
At half-past five in the afternoon - or
seventeen-thirty to the tick—-we pan-
caked at Wanhorough. Five minutes later,
when we were having a drink of tea,
Braddock received a message that he was
wanted on the phone.
He gulped down the rest of his tea and
went to take the call.
I went over to our hut. An envelope
was waiting. It contained a pass to allow
me to go on leave.
Braddock catne striding back.
“ I’ve just heard on the phone that I’ve
to go to London, George,” he said.
“ We can travel together then,” I
Braddock nodded.
We travelled to London together and I
walked with him to the Air Ministry.
Braddock grinned at me.
“ This is where we say cheerio for now,
George,” he said. “ I’ll go and see what
the chap wants. It’ll be about some
flying job for me, but whatever happens,
I’ll be wanting you to be in it as my
Braddock went up the steps, and it
suddenly struck me that few sergeants
would enter the Air Ministry with a
tunic unbuttoned and a cap stuck under
the shoulder-strap. Braddock was always
a chap who gave no thought to the little
rules and regulations.
No sooner did he get his nose inside
the door than he was pounced on by a
glittering flight-sergeant with a waxed
“ Where have you come from, the
nearest gutter?” the flight-sergeant
snarled. “ What’s your name ?”
“ Braddock !”
A Flight-Lieutenant hurried across the
The Rover and Wizard 11th  May 1968 - Page 3

“ Come with me, Sergeant
Braddock !” he exclaimed, and
whisked Braddock out of the
clutches of the startled flight-
A minute afterwards Brad-
dock was ushered into the
presence of the Commander-in-
Chief of Bomber Command.
The Air Marshal stood and
held out his hand.
“We’ve got you back into
the bomber fold at last,” he
The Air Marshal smiled
“ Fifty men can win the War,
Braddock, and you’re one of
them," he said. “ At last we’re
starting to get the bombing
craft with which we can hit
the enemy hard—but we shall
never knock him out unless
we hit him in the right place.
Sit down! There’s a lot to
talk about.”
The ‘Commander-in-Chief
and Braddock were together, so
I heard later, for four hours.
That was the kind of flyer
Braddock was. Although only
a sergeant—because he had
always refused to become an
officer——he was the kind of
pilot that the big bosses them-
selves discussed plans with.

I HAD my leave and I
was then ordered to
take a course at the
A d v u n c e d Navigation
School, at Malwick, in the
At Malwick I was shown for
the first time a new instrument
called Gee. It had been made
to help bombers in finding their
target at night.
The idea behind this new
instrument called Gee was that
the navigator could fix his
exact position by means of
radio impulse signals coming
to him from headquarters
through the instrument.
The Commanding-Officer at
the school was Wing-Com-
mander Raught. He was a
ruthless, cold-blooded man and
kept us hard at it. There were
long lectures every morning
and afternoon and work to be
done in the evenings. He
allowed no leave into the town.
One warm afternoon Wing-
Conmander Raught had all the

classes assembled in the hall.
He then brought in a civilian.
“Help, it’s that Boflin
again,” muttered one sergeant-
navigator who had been put
back to take the course again,
having failed in the examination.
Wing-Commander Raught
demanded silence. He then
introduced Dr Stanhope
Studley, and the Boffn stood,
took a sip from the glass of
water on the table, and began
to talk.
“ I am here this afternoon to
talk about Gee, an instrument
which you will shortly be
using,” he said. “ Our aim has
been to provide you with the
means of bombing accurately
even when the ground is hidden
by cloud.”
He stood with his hands
behind his back and I wondered
if he’d ever flown in an aircraft
through cloud, rain, and fog.
“With the aid of Gee we
shall be able to attack seven
times more often than before,”
he stated.
The room was stuffy and I
just could not keep my eyes
open. The next thing that
happened so far as I was con-
cerned was a hard prod from
my neighbour.
“ You’re booked for going to
sleep,” he whispered, and I
became conscious of the Wing-
Commander’s angry stare at
me. “ He’s taken your name.”
After another half-hour of
dreary talk Dr Studley reached

the end of his lecture. He then
asked for questions.
I thought I could perhaps
get away with the explanation
that my eyes had been merely
closed if I asked an intelligent
“ What’s the range of Gee,
sir?” I exclaimed.
Dr Studley gave me a cold
“ I dealt with that in the
course of my talk,” he snapped.
“ I will, for your benefit, repeat
that Gee has an extreme range
of four hundred miles. A range
of three hundred and fifty
miles will be enough to make
sure of accurate bombing of
the industrial area of the Ruhr,
in West Germany.”
Within five minutes of the
end of the lecture I was stand-
ing on the mat in the Command-
ing Officer’s office.
I had a row of medal ribbons
including those of the D.F.M.
and the D.S.M., the latter
awarded by the recommenda-
tion of the Navy for assisting
Braddock in bringing a hard-
hit motor launch back from
“The trouble with people
like you, Bourne, is that you
get ideas of your own impor-
tance,” snarled Raught.
“ You will be put back
to start the course again next
Monday. Week-end leave,
which was to have been granted
you, will be cancelled. Dismiss!”
I marched out of the office
feeling wild.
On the following morning
there was a class on navigation
by the stars. It was taken by
Flying-Officer Taft, who never

used two words when he could
find ten to say the same thing.
He was nattering away when
a motor cycle came roaring up
the drive of the large house
where the school was held.
The motorbike stopped and its
hooter screeched.
I looked through the window.
The rider, still astride, pulled
his goggles down and I saw
the rugged face of Braddock.
He gave the hooter another
squeeze. He was in R.A.F.
uniform Without a cap.
“ I know him, sir,” I ex-
claimed. “ He’s Sergeant Brad-
“Then go and tell him to
report to the flight-sergeant
that he has interrupted classes,”
snapped Taft.
I hurried out. Braddock
“Hurry up and get your
things, George,” he said. “I
don’t want to hang about.”
I looked at him in surprise.
“ I have to stay here for at
least another three weeks,” I
exclaimed. “ I haven’t been
posted anywhere yet. In fact,
I’ve fallen out with the Wingco
and he’s set me back to begin
the course again.”
There were clattering foot-
steps. Out of the house hurried
Flight-Sergeant Prattley and
just astem of him was the Wing-
“ Stop that din !” snarled

The Rover and Wizard 11th  May 1968 - Page 4

“ Return to your class,
Bourne !” barked the Wingco.
Braddock pulled the motor
bike round.
“ Hop on, George,” he said.
I swung astride the pillion
and Braddock paddled away.
The engine roared. We accele—
rated like a Mosquito.
“ Where are we going, Brad?”
I shouted.
“ Craxby,” he answered over
his shoulder. “Headquarters of
5A Bomber Group.”
“ Bombers again!” I ex-
“ The Heavy Brigade,” Brad-
dock calledout.
We threaded our way through
the narrow streets of Malwick.
“ They won’t catch you now,
George,” he shouted.
I got a glimpse of the ‘speedo-

meter, and, as we were doing
ninety, no doubt he was right.

IN I942 the build-up of
Bomber Command
was slowly develop—
ing. It had had to wait for
aircraft and crews. ln
l940, when in vasion
threatened, it had been
necessary to turn out
fighter aircraft and pilots
fast for the defence
against the G e r m a n
In January of 1942, Britain
could only put 42 heavy
bombers into the air at a time.
When Braddock fetched me
away from Malwick in the
early autumn the position was

improving. The Whitleys and
Hampdens, which had done
such a good job, were being
withdrawn. The four-engined
Halifax and the Wellington
formed the bulk of the bomber
force. The Lancasters were just
beginning to arrive in useful
That day Braddock and I had
been on the road for a couple
of hours and were speeding
down a long straight road
in Sussex when Braddock closed
the throttle and braked.
I heard the roar of engines.
We gazed up at a big black
bomber that was flying at no
more than a thousand feet.
“There you are, George,”
exclaimed Braddock. “There’s
a Lancaster. It’s a real aero-
plane. It’s a treat to handle.”
“ So you’ve been flying
Lanks,” I said.
“ I’ve done a short course in
’em,” Braddock replied. “ After
it finished I received my post-
ing to Craxby.”
He pushed off again. We
sped along for another half-
The roof of a big house was
just visible among trees at
the side of the road. As we
passed the end of the drive I
saw a couple of R.A.F. sentries.
“ We’re nearly at the drome,”
Braddock exclaimed. “ That
house will be Group Head-
quarters.” '
“ Who’s the Commanding
Officer, Brad ?” I asked.
“ A bloke called Air Vice-
Marshal Pringell,” Braddock
responded. “ He has a good
We saw hangars ahead. We
ran alongside the barbed wire
fence at the side of the drome.
A Halifax was taxi-ing along
the perimeter track. I saw a
Lancaster on the ground.
Braddock turned into the
gateway and stopped opposite
the guardroom. A corporal
came up to us.
“We’re joining the Lan-
caster squadron,” Braddock re-
ported. '
“ I’ll have to see your
papers,” replied the corporal.
“ You can see mine, but
George’s posting hasn’t caught
up with him yet,” said Brad-
dock. “ It’ll be all right. We’ll
go and see the Adiutant.”
“ I’ll have to escort you,”
rapped out the corporal and
eyed rne suspiciously.
Braddock parked his bike
and the corporal marched with
us to the administration block,
a long brick building well
away from the hangars.
There was a lot of activity.
A fuel bowser rumbled past
us. A yellow tractor hauled a
string of trailers-—these were
for transporting bombs to the
planes. The Halifax we had
seen on the perimeter track
reached the runway and picked
up speed for the take-off
We were taken into an ante-
room. The corporal went on
into the office. of the Adjutant,
Flight-Lieutenant Parr. Then
we were called in. ,
It was a very tidy office.
Everything was in its place.
Parr looked very neat and tidy
himself. His complexion was
pale and he wore spectacles.
“ Which of you is Braddock?”
he snapped.
“ Me,” said Braddock. “ I’ve
brought George Bourne along
because I want him as my
navigator.” .
" This is all wrong,” barked
Parr. “ I’ve had no posting for
Bourne. I’ve never even heard of
Another door opened. A
Squadron-Leader looked in. He
looked young to have that high
rank, but the ribbons on his
breast showed he had been
awarded the D.S.O. and the
D.F.C. This was Squadron-
Leader Devenish, commanding
Squadron 57A, which was com-
posed of Lancasters.
“ Ah, Braddock, I remember
you from the days we flew
Blenheims,” he said, sticking
out his hand. “It gave me a
big kick when I heard you were
joining us” He fixed his
gaze on Braddock’s shabby
“Where’s your V.C.
ribbon ?”
Braddock shrugged.
“ I haven’t got around to
stitching it on yet,” he said.
“Three months is a long
time to get round to it,” ex-
claimed Devenish.
“ Braddock’s brought his own
navigator without any official
permission, sir,” Parr blurted
“ Whew, you can’t do things
like that,” gasped Devenish.
“ I’ve done it,” said Brad-
dock. “ George Bourne has
flown with me on over a
hundred sorties and he’s the
chap I want.”
Devenish glanced through the
window. Group-Captain Larke,
a tall, erect man with a sharp
pointed chin was walking
The Rover and Wizard 11th  May 1968 - Page 5

briskly towards the administra-
tion block.
“ There’s the Stationmaster,”
Devenish exclaimed. “I’ll ask
him about it.
Squadron-Leader Devenish
dashed out, intercepted the
Stationmaster, and entered into
a conversation with him. It
concluded when Group-
Captain Larke shook his head.
Devenish came back in.
“ He can’t help,” he stated.
“ Postings have to go through
the normal channels. They can’t
be side-tracked.”
Braddock moved to the desk_
“ Can I borrow your phone?”
he asked and picked up the
receiver. “ Put me through to
Group,” he said.
The operator at Group Head-
quarters answered.
“ I want to speak to the Air
Officer Commanding,” Brad-
dock exclaimed.
A horrified gasp broke from
“ You can’t speak to Air
Vice-Marshal Pringell,” he said
Apparently the telephone
operator was protesting.
“ My name’s Braddock,”
roared my pilot. “ Tell him!”
There was a slight pause
and he was through.
“ What d’you want, Brad-
dock ?” we heard Air Vice-
Marshal Pringell ask.
-“ There’s a bit of bother
because I’ve brought Sergeant
George Bourne along as my
navigator and he hasn’t been
posted here,” said Braddock.
“ All right,” replied the Air
Vice-Marshal. “ If he’s the
navigator you want, you can
have him. If there anything
else you want ?”
“ There are two other chaps
I’ve asked along,” he said. “ I’d
like Sergeant Ham Hancox to
be my second pilot and flight-
engineer, and Sergeant Tom
Tanner to be the bomb-aimer.”
“ That’s all right,” answered
the Air Vice-Marshal.
Braddock had picked the
crew he wanted to fly with
him, and he was only a sergeant.
But what a sergeant !

A KEEN wind blew
across the drome
when we
descended from our Lan-
caster, F Fox, after a test
flight two mornings later.
The Lancaster loomed vast
over our heads as we started

    to walk away. It had a wing-
span of I02 feet and the bomb
doors had a length of 33 feet.
The bomb bay could carry
a load of 20,000 lb. and the
four engines had the power to
fly high at a speed of 300 miles
per hour.
Braddock was pleased with
his new plane.
“ It ticked away like a clock,”
he remarked.
As we made for the canteen
we formed a straggling pro-
cession. Our crew numbered
seven. The radio-operator was
Nicker Brown, whose home
was in Northampton, and the
two gunners, Hoppy Robinson
and Les Howe, both belonged
to London. Their age was
about twenty.
We were all sergeants in F
Fox, but in bombers you could
have all ranks mixed in an
aircraft. The Lancaster K King
had a sergeant as pilot and a
Flight Lieutenant as rear
gunner. Rank didn’t count in an
aircrew—the pilot was always
the captain.
We were drinking tea and
eating buns - Ham complained
that the currants in his bun
were made of black lead—when
the loudspeaker of the tannoy
was switched on. The tannoy
was used for announcements
to be made all over the drome.
The order was for the pilots
and navigators of the Lancasters
to go at once to the briefing-
The first person we saw when
we entered the room was the
Air Officer Commanding, Air
Vice-Marshal Pringell.
He had the reputation of
being a fighting airman and he
was famous for his bad temper.
He had a determined mouth
and a brusque manner.
The second person I saw
took me back to my days at
the navigation school. Dr Stan-
hope Studley was with us. The
Stationmaster and the squadron
commanders were, of course.
in the room. _
The moment the door was
shut the A.O.C. spoke.
“ Your target will be Essen",
he rapped out.
He let the name of the famous
German industrial town sink
“ The great Krupps factory
is in the middle of Essen,” he
exclaimed. “ So far, we haven’t
hit it.”
He paused again.
“ Essen is a large town but
a difficult target,” he said.
“Visibility is always bad be-
The Rover and Wizard 11th  May 1968 - Page 6

cause of the smoke from factory
stacks. It’s strongly defended.
just the same, we’re going to
hit it—and hit it hard. The
Lancasters which are equipped
with Gee are going to lead the
way in tonight.”
There was tension in the air.
We were going raiding over
dangerous ground.
“ This is the plan,” the
A.O.C. stated. “The Lan-
casters will be loaded with
flares. You will use your Gee
instruments to locate the city
and drop the flares. You will
be followed in by a wave of
Wellingtons with incendiary
bombs. These should start
fires to guide in the main force
of Halifaxes with the big bombs.
Your flares will go down a
Dr Studley coughed drily.
“ You may place full reliance
in your Gee apparatus,” he ex-
claimed. “The Gee fixes will
guide you to the centre
“That’s what you hope,
said Braddock.
Dr Studley frowned.
“ In recent tests the apparatus
has worked perfectly,” he re-
“ No doubt,” said Braddock,
“ but in your tests the aircraft
would be flying straight with
no night fighters, searchlights,
or flak. It’s one thing to use
your fancy instruments on a
nice smooth trip. It’s another
to get your fixes when the plane
is being chucked about all over
the sky. Still, we’ll see.”

I HEARD Braddock say,
“Get ready to start up".
" O K," Ham answered.
Ready to start up."
" C on t a c t starboard
outer!“ Braddock snapped.
As Ham pressed the starter
buttons in turn the engines
crackled, spat, and thundered.
I looked down through my
window. Twenty feet below
men of the ground crew pulled
on the long ropes to move the
wheel chocks. I heard the hiss
of air as Braddock released the
brakes. Swaying and rumbling,
our thirty-ton bomber headed
for the runway.
As we approached, I saw a
Lank racing along the flare-
path. Squadron — Leader
Devenish in A Ack was taking
Ham called the control tower.
“ Hello, control. F Fox call-

ing. May we take off, please?
Over !”
“ O K! Take off!”
The roar increased. Braddock
released the brakes and there
was such tremendous accelera-
tion that I nearly went over
the back of the seat.
We went thumping along
till, with the air-speed indicator
showing 110 miles an hour, the
motion became steady. We were
airborne and on our way to
Braddock and Ham ex-
changed the routine iargon.
“ Climbing power, wheels up,
flaps up, cruising power.”
The air speed settled down
at 210 miles an hour. I came

into the picture when I gave
Braddock the course.
“ Ten minutes to the coast,
I said.
It was a dark night, clear
over England, but with a fore-
cast of clouds over the Contin-
Between the two front
windows was the large repeating
compass. I noticed how
Braddock’s eyes were never
still. He looked at the compass
and then at the air-speed
We were climbing as we
passed over the coast. Some-
where in the darkness were the
nine other Lancasters whose
job was to plant the flares on
the middle of Essen.
The Wellingtons and the
Halifaxes would also be air-
borne by now, coming from
various aerodromes. It was
going to take some skilful staff
work to bring them over the
target at the right times.
I returned to my cabin. In
front of me on the table was
the chart prepared for use with
the Gee instrument.
Braddock’s voice came
though on the inter-com-
munication phones.
“ How are you getting on
with Gee ?” he asked.
“ Fine,” I said. “It makes
my job easy.”

Just so that they wouldn’t
feel lonely in their gun turrets,
he called Hoppy and Les.
Hoppy didn’t reply on the
dot and Braddock demanded,
“ Are you all right ?”
“ Sorry, I had my mouth
full,” said Hoppy and, judging
by his splutter, a crumb had
gone the wrong way.”
“ You’ve started early,”
chuckled Braddock.
I took another Gee fix.
“ Enemy coast ahead,” I
Half an hour later we were
flying over broken clouds.
Through every gap glared the
searchlights. They were
There had been one or two
salvoes of anti-aircraft gun-
fire, but the heavily-defended
areas were still I5 minutes fly-
ing distance.
I took another Gee fix. I
plotted our position and
compared it with the course I
had set.
The clouds opened. The
searchlights blazed through. I
saw flashes flicking across the
sky. The ominous red winks got
nearer. Braddock started to
I watched the movements of
the compass and the air speed
indicator. We were lit up in
the, glare. There was no evading
it. We had to go through that
Braddock’s voice ripped
over the inter-com.
“ Fighter two o’clock and
above,” he snarled. “ Hold your
hats on.”
I was crushed by the pressure
of centrifugal force as our
Lancaster made a quick turn.
The note of the slipstream
screeched shrilly. I saw things
blurred by the red veil over
my eyes.
The pressure eased off. I
shoved my oxygen mask, which
had dragged down, back over
my face and gulped to fill my
“The German fighter has
lost us! He went the other
way,” Braddock said. “ Where
are we, George ?”
I tried to get it from Gee,
but the signal was weak and
“ Come on,” growled
Braddock. “What’s happened
to Gee?”
“ The signal’s weak and
wonky,” I said. “ By my own
reckoning we’re ten miles
south-west of Essen.”
Over the air, with his voice
crackling through the howls and
screeches of the static, Devenish
called us.
“ Things are a bit mixed-up,”
he said. “ The Gee doesn’t
seem to be working. Don’t drop
the flares, repeat, don’t drop
the flares unless you’re sure
you can place them on the
“ Hello, this is F Fox,”
Braddock answered. “ Look for
rny flares and then drop yours
on the same place.”
“ OK, but make sure of
y o u r target,” Devenish
“ I’ll find it,” retorted
Braddock called, “Bomb
doors open !”
Tanner answered, “ Can’t
see a thing!”
“ I’ll tell you when, Tom,”
Braddock answered. He stood
the Lank on a wing-tip, brought
us round, and levelled out.
“ Now,” he exclaimed.
“ Flares gone,” yelled
We turned and, on the ground
the flares blazed. In their light
I saw the dim shapes of build-
“Hullo, Leader,” Braddock
called. “ We’ve dropped our
fireworks slap across Krupps
Through that crazy pattern
of searchlights, smoke, and
flak we weaved away. As we
climbed, our flares started to
fade out, but then others
sprang up in vivid reds and
yellows to show that Squadron-
Leader Devenish and the other
crews were dropping their loads
on the target.
Even through the glare and
the smoke we could see the
flares. They cast a garish glow
on the clouds.
As we swung round to the
north, a fierce shout broke from
“ Where the blazes are the
Wellingtons ?” he snarled. “ If
they don’t get here quick, the
flares will have burned out.”
“ We dropped our flares right
on time,” I exclaimed. “ It was
midnight exactly when we lit
up the target.”
“ I know it was,” Braddock
snorted. “ Where are the
Wellhigtons with the incen-
diary bombs?”
The bright glow of the flares
was dying out, but there was
no sign of the incendiary bombs
going down.

Has the first raid been a com-
plete failure? Is the Gee any
good? The answers will be
supplied NEXT WEEK in a great



I Flew With Braddock-4 for consistency – actually titled…

I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK ( series 4 ) The Rover - 5 Dec 1953 for 54 weeks

BRADDOCK – MASTER OF THE AIR The Rover and Wizard - Repeat of the fourth series from 27th  July 1968 for 54 weeks.

Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories


The Rover and Wizard 27th  July 1968 - Page 27

After flying at night with the Pathfinders, Sergeant Matt Braddock, V.C., one of
the R..A.F.’s greatest pilots, received a temporary posting to Brinkley, the American
Flying Fortress Station. His navigator, Sergeant George Bourne, who tells the story,
went with him.
Some time previously Braddock had made a forced landing at Brinkley and had
nearly come to blows with Top-Sergeant Pete Lannigan, who saw no good in anything
Braddock was told he was going to fly a Fortress named the Yonkers Kid——and
Lannigon was a gunner in the crew.

WE headed for Brinkley on Braddock's motor-bike. We had been
told we were going on an important liaison job, The leaders
of the American Air Force knew that their men and them-
selves were novices in war, and were most anxious to get all the help
and advice they could from the R.A.F., which was the reason for our

Braddock had never once derided
what the Americans were doing.
He was for hitting the enemy with
both fists; in other words, to raid
them night and day.
We were getting very near to the drome
when Braddock stopped and I heard a roar
of engines.
, “ A Fortress,” he said, and we stared up.
“ A Mark Two judging by the turrets,”
I exclaimed.
“ That’s right,” said Braddock. “The
Mark One was under-gunned for a day-
light bomber. They’ve stuck a lot of armour
on ’em now and given ’em thirteen wal1op-
ing big machine-guns. It isn’t a weight-
lifter like our Lancasters, but it canfly six
and seven miles high. I’ll be interested in
their special bomb-sight.”
A jeep faced up and jerked to a violent
stop. The American police, in white
helmets, who sprang out reminded me of
tough guys I’d seen at the pictures.
“ Can’t you read ?” demanded a “ gor-
illa ” with a helmet on, and pointed to a

notice-board warning motorists not to
“ Yes, thanks,” said Braddock. Then he
added by way of explanation, “ We’re
The Yanks didn’t believe it. '
“ This road is under American con-
trol,” rasped the American policeman.
“ Leave the motor-bike and get into the
The police had guns and truncheons
which they seemed eager to use, so we
moved over to the jeep. At a reckless speed
the gorilla-like policeman drove it down
the road.
The entrance was closely guarded. As
the jeep stopped, another sergeant, looking
hot under the collar, hurried to the vehicle.
“ Have you seen anything of two R.A.F.
sergeants, Eli ?” he asked the driver of the
jeep. “ General Toft is asking for them.”
“ Here we are, Eli,” chortled Braddock.
“ You could have told me,” gasped the
“ I did,” said Braddock. “ Don’t apolo-
gise. Our service cops are also picked for
size, not brains.”
Our bike was fetched for us. We were
shown our quarters in recently-completed
huts, stripped our outer coverings off, had
a wash, and were rushed over to meet
General Toft.
Braddock got on with him from the word
“ go”. Up to that time, the Flying Fort-
resses had carried out several small raids
on targets in France. The results had been
patchy but promising.
“ Our tactics are to fly high and to pack
close,” said General Toft in the course of
the conversation.“ By flying at five or six
miles high we reduce the effectiveness of
the enemy anti-aircraft fire. By packing
close we can protect each other and put up
a tremendous concentration of fire against
It was a long talk, from which there’s no
need for me to quote, since much of the
information Braddock gave the General
was based on experiences I have already
recorded in my story.
“We’re giving you a plane,” and we
want you to fly with us,” said General
Toft. “ You’ll be in Colonel Cahey’s
group. He’s in London today, but it will
give you the chance to settle down.”
“ George and I reckon we’ve settled
down as soon as we’ve hung our coats up,”
replied Braddock. ‘
The General smiled.
“ And they talk about Yankee hustle,”
he said.
The Rover and Wizard 27th  July 1968 - Page 28

It was no doubt sur-
prising to the Ameri-
cans that the R.A.F.
had sent two sergeants on
the liaison job. The point
was this, that in any big
American plane, the pilot,
co - pilot, navigator and
bambardier (bomb-aimer)
were officers, and the
radio operator and gunners
were N.C.O.s
Braddock’s co-pilot was to be
Lieutenant Charlie Forde and
the bombardier was Lieutenant
Garry Hurd. Both were young-
sters and had done two or three
combat flights.
The kit issued for high-
altitude flying included heavy
underwear, an electrically-
heated flannel suit, fleece-lined
leather trousers, and a sheepskin
jacket. The gunners were the
men who really felt the cold, for
the heating arrangements at the
rear of the Fortresses were not
good. , when flying six miles
high a gunner could get frost-
bite if he took off a glove to
adjust a gun.
Bracldock’s request that we
should take off for a test flight
was at once granted.

I should make a note here
that Brinkley had been a regular
R.A.F. station and was well
As we rode out to the plane
in a jeep, I was amused at the
names I saw painted on the
Fortresses. Fighting Pappy,
Brooklyn Banshee, Fearless
Hank, and Flak-Happy Her-
man were some of them. The
naming of aircraft was not a
British custom, but I liked it. It
gives the planes personality.
It was when we reached the
plane called the Yonkers Kid
that we met Top-Sergeant Pete
Lannigan again. He was wearing
a cap of the baseball player’s
type stuck on the side of his
head, and his jaws chewed at a
wad of gum.
Now it must be said for
Lannigan that he had a tough
job. He was the ball-turret
gunner-—-and the ball-turret was
under the plane to cope with
fighters attacking from below.
The turret, which could be
swung in a complete orbit,
packed two .50 machine-guns.
When in his turret, the gunner
was connected to the inside of
the aircraft by a wire which
heated his flying-suit, an oxygen
line, and the inter—communica—
tion phone wire.
So the ball-turret gunners
could keep their sense of direc-
tion in the swirl of battle, the
Forts had red spots painted on
the underside of the port wing
and tailplane, with green spots
to starboard.
Lannigan’s big mouth opened
jeeringly. i
“ Hullo, limeys,” he said.
“ Huh, so you’re going to fly a
real aeroplane.”
“ I think I’ll manage,”
growled Braddock. “ I once
drove a tram.”
He left Lannigan to think that
out, and we climbed into the
Fort. I found that my position
was right in the nose with the
bombardier. There was nothing
between us and the open air
except the plexiglass windows.
While Braddock was going
through the detailed cockpit
drill, Garry Hurd introduced me
to the bomb-sight. It was a
clever piece of equipment, with
a device for calculating the
speed and drift.
“ When the cross-hairs are on
the target you pull the chain,”
said Garry, indicating the bomb-
release. “ In practice we can hit
a hundred—foot circle from
twenty thousand feet again and
again.” "
“ 1t’s different when the
flak’s coming up,” I exclaimed.
Garry grinned.
“ There’s a heap of differ-
ence,” he said. “ We did our
training in California, Where the
weather and visibility’s perfect.
Over here it’s rarely we seem to
get a clear day.”
He turned his thumb up to-
wards the cockpit.
“ We’ve heard a lot of stories
about Braddock,” he said. “ He
must be a master pilot."
“ I’ve flown on a hundred
operational sorties with him,
and he’s always brought me
home,” I said.
“Lannigan’s raw at having to
fly with Britishers,” Garry re-
marked. “ He’ll do all he can to
rib you.”
“ I think things will sort them-
selves out,” I said.
The engines started and we
settled down to the job. We were
to fly a couple of hundred miles
on a triangular course, and the
first turn was to be over Catter-
ick in Yorkshire. There was a
lot of cloud.
We taxied to the runway and
Waited for the O K to take off.
Braddock ran each engine up in
turn, and then let them tick over.
Lannigan’s voice rasped over
the inter-com.
“ Did you bring your lucky
The Rover and Wizard 27th  July 1968 - Page 29

rabbit’s foot, Sam?” he asked.
“ Yes,” said Sam Wooding,
one of the waist gunners.
“ Stroke it hard,” Lannigan
exclaimed. “ I guess we’l1 need
all the luck that’s going.”
A green rocket went up from
the control tower and we began
to move. Leaving a cloud of blue
smoke, we picked up speed, and
the concrete was a blur through
the plexiglass. I saw the ground
fall away. We roared over the
perimeter track and the road.
We were not carrying a load,
and Braddock took us away in a
steep, climbing turn.
“What’s the course,
George?” he asked.
“ Three three zero magnetic,”
I said.
There was a babble of idle
chatter and snatches of song over
the inter-com. Lannigan’s voice
was loudest.
“ I went into town last night,
Sam,” he said. “Talk about a
dump ! The dance hall was like
a morgue, with a band they
must have dug up from the
Braddock cut in sharply.
“ Get this clear,” he snapped,
“in this plane there’l1 be no
talking that isn’t necessary.
Anybody who natters will be on
the mat the moment the flight
ends. Gunners will identify and
report all aircraft sighted.”
“ Say, our limey skipper is
chucking his weight about,”
ieered Lannigan. " '
“ You’ve had your last chance
Lannigan,” snapped Braddock.
“ If there’s another bleat from
you I’ll put you out.”
Almost in the same breath he
called the top-turret gunner.
" 'Why haven’t you reported
the three aircraft at three
o’clock high?” he demanded.
Fields of fire and approach
were indicated by the clock face
system. The plane’s nose was at
twelve o’clock and the tail at
six o’clock.
“ Sorry,” gasped Sergeant Ike
Lewis. “ Haven’t sighted them
yet. Yep, 1’ve got ’em now.
Three dots!” -
“ What are they?” Braddock
rapped out. “ They’re near
enough to identify.”
“ I think they’re Spitfires.”
Lewis exclaimed.
“ They're Hurricanes,” snap-
ped Braddock as the fighters ap-
proached nearly head-on. “ If
they were Spits they’d have the
radiators under the starboard
wing instead of central.”
I looked down and saw a
couple of high-wing planes with

twin, radial engines and a lofty
fin and rudder.
At once Lannigan chipped in.
“ Two Bostons twelve o’c1ock
low,” he said.
“I'11 swear they’re Havocs,”
muttered Garry.
“You’re right, Lannigan,”
Braddock told the ball-turret
“Of course I’m right,” Lan-
nigan retorted.
It was smart identification,
because the only difference
between the Havoc night-fighter
and the Boston bomber was that
the latter type had a glass panel
in the nose.
We climbed high. It was a bit
stuffy in the congested nose. We
sped on. It was a routine flight,
and we made a turn at Catterick
for Stafford.
There had been a hush for
some time when Lannigan
started to hum a tune.
Then he burst into speech.
“ Say, Sam, how about
coming out with me tonight?”
he asked. “ The flicks and a
dance, what d’you say?”
Braddock did not chip in, and
Lannigan went on talking. I
observed that we were rapidly
losing altitude. ‘
“ Stand by,” Braddock ex-
claimed. “ We’re going to pan-
cake at Deep Dale.”
We came out of the clouds
over the peak district. We lo-
cated the big training drome at
Deep Dale, miles from a town.
In response to our flare, we
received rocket permission to
As I listened to Braddock and
his co-pilot going through the
drill, I thought the idea behind
the landing was practice. Flaps
down, wheels down, we touched
down, passed a score of yellow
Oxford trainers parked off the
runway, and pulled up. Brad-
dock kept the engines ticking
“ This is where you get out,
Lannigan,” he rapped out.‘ -
“ What?” yelled the husky
“ I warned you I’d put you
out if you started nattering,”
snapped Braddock. “ Out you
get.” '
“ You can’t do that to me,”
howled Lannigan.
“ It’s an order,” said Brad-
dock. “ Get out!”
The hush on the inter-com
was tensed But it was an order
that Lannigan dared not dis-
obey. He squeezed out of the
turret, and dropped to the
As soon as the door had been
secured, Braddock revved up
the motors and we started to
I had a glimpse of Lannigan
on the ground. He was staring
up with his face red, hands
clenched, bewilderment and
fury in his expression.
No comment was passed on
the inter-com at the marooning
of Lannigan a hundred miles
from his home base. It was up
to him how he got back. I didn’t
suppose he’d walk.
Garry turned to me and
winked. .
“ There are no flies on Brad-
dock,” he said.

LATE that night I was
out in the black-
out, heading for
our hut, when I heard a
couple of sergeants from
another crew talking in
the darkness.
“ Pete Lannigan has just
come in,” said one of them.
“ He thumbed rides most of the
way, but he had to walk from
the town. He’s mad.”
“He’ll get ribbed. Everyone’s
laughing,” was the answer.
“ That guy Braddock must be a
tough egg.”
“ He means to be the boss of
his own ship.”

“A good captain has got to
“ Sure,” was the final ver-
dict. “ Pete Lannigan had it
coming to him.”
That conversation just about
represented the general opinion.
Braddock made just one brief
comment to me.
“ I had to deal with him,
George,” he said. “ He can do
what he likes and say what he
likes on the ground, but in the
air he’s going to toe the line.”
“ You certainly picked a way
he’ll remember,” I replied.
“ What do you think of the
Fortress ?”
“ I don’t class it with the
Lancaster, but it’s a good aero-
plane, and will stand up to a
lot,” said Braddock. “ When the
Americans bring ’em over here
in thousands, the Germans will
soon start squealing.”
“ Thousands?” I exclaimed.
“ You’ll see I’m right,” said
I was going with Braddock to
breakfast in the morning when
We came face to face with
Lannigan. The Yank glared at
him truculently.
“ Speaking as man to man, it
was a cheap trick you played on
me,” he snarled.
“ So you hold your life cheap,
do you ?” retorted Braddock.
“ Whadya mean ?” demanded
“ You can’t keep a good look-
out and talk,” said Braddock.
“ Huh, it was only a practice
flight,” Lannigan scoffed.
“ That’s when you learn,”
said Braddock.
Lannigan shrugged. i
“ You limeys are all the same,
you’re smart Alecs,” he growled.
We went for another flight
that morning, and it was as well
behaved as a choir practice.
The afternoon Braddock
spent with Colonel Harry Cahey
who commanded the three
squadrons then comprising the
group at. Brinkley. He was a
lean, stern-looking man of about
thirty-five, and had been in the
U.S. Air Force for several years
before the war, and was a
expert on precision bombing at
high altitudes.
I inquired of Braddock what
his impressions were of our
American C.O. Braddock turned
up a thumb.
“ He’s as keen as mustard,”
he said. “ From the technical
side, he knows his job inside
out. What he needs——and he
knows it—is combat exper—
The Rover and Wizard 27th  July 1968 - Page 30

A grin spread across Brad-
dock’s rugged face.
“ You’d better turn in early,
George,” he chuckled. “ You’ll
be getting up at three.”

THE target was to be
a factory n e a r
Lille where muni-
tions were being manu-
factured for the Germans.
Two groups were to make
the raid, some sixty ships
in all.
At three o’clock in the morn-
ing we were aroused, and for my
benefit somebody exclaimed,
“ Wakey, wakey, rise and shine.”
Yawns mingled with groans.
I dragged on some clothes
after having a wash, and then
went out on the way to the mess
for breakfast. The sky was clear,
with the stars still shining.
After breakfast we went to the
briefing-room, which was dazz-
lingly lit. On the wall was a
great map on which the target
was indicated by a square of
transparent plastic, with red
route lines leading to it and
I listened to the comments.
“ Germany, here we come,”
was one remark I caught.
“ Who’s afraid of the blamed
Focke Wulfs ?” was another.
I need not give the details of
the briefing, which was ex-
tremely thorough and illus-
trated by pictures of the target
projected on to a screen.
“ On this mission we are
receiving fighter support from
Spitfire squadrons,” stated
Colonel Cahey.
Lannigan shrugged.
“ I don’t think much of Spit-
fires,” he muttered. “ You just
wait till we get our Thunder-
bolts across. They’re real
fighters-—yes, sir.”-
From outside came the sound
of motors being started and
tested. I went to an adjoining
office with the navigators, where
we plotted out the route on our
When we went out it was
starting to get light. I caught up
with Braddock, and we walked
towards the Yonkers Kid to-
Colonel Cahey’s aircraft,
Yukon Digger, moved slowly
from its bay and turned on to
the track. He was followed by
Captain Tarr’s Homicide
Bureau. We were the third to

It was a sight to see the thirty
Forts in their slow procession,
nose to tail, along the perimeter
track to the head of the runway.
Garry glanced across at me.
“ I suppose this is just routine
to you,” he remarked.
“ No,” I said; “ Every raid’s
a new battle.”
I kept an eye on my watch,
and at 7.0 precisely Yukon Dig-
ger started to move. The
ground crews watched tensely. I
could see rigid figures on the
balcony of the distant tower.
Thirty tons of aeroplane had to
be lifted of the ground. Other
groups had had crashes at the
I saw Yukon Digger start to
lift in a clean take-off. As it
cleared the boundary of the
drome, Homicide Bureau thun-
dered down the runway for the
Our ship vibrated and we
moved on to the runway. Our
motors roared in full power. Our
speed built up rapidly. Our tail
came up and the ground fell
Yukon Digger was sweeping
round the drome in a wide
circle. Homicide Bureau fell in
behind it. We linked up, form-
ing a triangle. -
We started to climb. Soon, all
over the sky, I saw other Forts.
The business of getting into
formation went on with parade-
ground precision. Our thirty
ships gradually united. Each
element flew higher or lower
and to the side of the element
Braddock called every mem-
ber of the crew in turn. He
received a surly grunt when he
asked Lannigan if he were all
Sergeant Ike Lewis chipped
“ The other group’s closing
in high from nine o’clock,” he
We teamed with the thirty
Forts from Wychford and con-
tinued to climb. At 10,000 feet
we went on oxygen. England
was still below us. Before we
crossed the Channel we should
be six miles high.
It seemed slow and tedious
as the motors pounded away.
From the moment we took off
until we had gained. operational
height just over the Channel
we had been airborne an hour
and three-quarters.’
Long before we passed out
over the sea we could see
France. Over us the sky was
black-blue dome.
Dots , to starboard swiftly
took the shape of Spitfires. I
looked at my watch. They were
on time to the second.
Looking to the north-east, I
saw feathery vapour trails form-
ing across the sky towards us.
They fanned out in lines too
numerous to count.
“ Here come the German
fighters, Brad!” I exclaimed.
“ There’s another lot at five
o’clock,” yelled the tail-
gunner, and then all the crew
seemed to be shouting together.
“ Come on, Fritz ! Come on,
Hans! Come on, you krauts,
I’m gunning for you!” Lanni-
gan bawled.
The Spits flicked away to
engage the enemy. The air
filled with vapour trails and
smoke. I saw a Focke Wulf 190
streak towards us with its
cannon flaming. The hammer-
ing of our heavy-calibre
machine-guns sounded clearly
through the roar of the motors.
The fighter flashed away with
smoke trailing.
“ Got it !” yelled Lannigan.
“Here’s another!” roared
A Messerschmitt 109 dived
past us. Another fighter ap-
“It’s a Spit!” Braddock
rapped out. “Lay off!”
The Spitfire pilot was un-
doubtedly shot at from the
bomber formation and tilted
a wing to show the R.A.F.
roundels. Another F .W.
whirled in, flicked over in a
half-roll and vanished. Then
I did see a Messerschmitt spin-
ning down in flames.
There was no doubt that the
fire power of an armada of
Fortresses was terriffic, and it
struck me that the German
pilots were uncertain what to
do about it. They also had the
Spits on to them, and I had a
glimpse of an F.W. racing
under the formation with a
Spit hot on its tail.
Brown srnudges of smoke
from anti-aircraft bursts
smeared the sky as we ap-
proached Lille.
In his big helmet and mask,
Garry looked like a man from
Mars as we closed on the target.
On the run-up the bombardier
had control of the plane with
the automatic equipment which
held the Fort steady and in
level flight.
Garry ordered the radio
operator to start the camera. He
turned a knob, and the plane
turned its nose a little to bring
it dead on to the factory, its
site indicated by railway lines
and a canal. He opened the
bomb doors and, as the cross-
hairs of the sight came on the
target, released the bombs.
A row of red lights went.out,
indicating that all the bombs
had gone.
“ Bombs away," he yelled
to Braddock. “ Lets go home.”

THE target was
smothered in
s m o k e as we
swung away. The chatter
was tremendous.
“We’ve flattened it.”
“Boy, what a bonfire!”
“ Hitler will chew up another
Braddock’s voice rasped out.
“We’re not coming home
from a school treat,” he
snapped. “ Stop nattering and
watch out.”
We turned for him, and there
was silence until Ike Lewis
reported that a Fort was dis-
abled and had dropped out of
the formation. I saw the big
ship flying on three engines
and with a tailplane darnaged.
I thought it would be all right,
as Spitfires were with it.
We met a fresh formation of
Spits before reaching the coast.
That the raid had been com-
paratively uneventful was due, I
was sure, to our having a con-
tinuous fighter escort. The
trouble would come when the
Forts passed beyond fighter
range in raids on Germany.
Our formation flew back to
Brinkley, and the elements
broke off. Two aircraft that were
slightly damaged landed first.
The others quickly came in.
“ What did you think of it,
Brad?” I asked after we had
left the ship.
“ We’re seeing the start of a
very big thing,” he said
gruffly. “ The formation-keep-

The Rover and Wizard 27h  July 1968 - Page 31

ing was first-class. Mind, the
anti-aircraft fire was feeble,
and the Spits held the fighters
off. The real test will come on
the first long-distance raid.”
We went into the briefing-
room to be interrogated. There
was a table for each crew.
Lieutenant Spragg, who wore
rimless glasses, was our interr-
“ Do you claim any enemy
fighters as destroyed ?” he asked.
“ Do we claim any ?” yelled
Lannigan. “ I got two myself.”
“ I shot down a couple,
Lieutumat,” boomed Ike Lewis.
“ I sent down a Messer-
schmitt in flames!” exclaimed
Sam Wooding.
“ I got one for sure and hit
another,” declared the tail-
“ Gee; you’ve been busy,”
chirped Spragg, his eyes gleam-
ing excitedly.
“ You can wipe the lot out,”
rasped Braddock. “We didn’t
shoot down a single Hun.”
The faces that turned on
Braddock were indignant and
“ Are you saying I'm lying?”
snarled Lannigan. “ A Focke
Wulf dropped away smoking.”
“ He dived under full control
with some smoke trailing from
the exhaust stubs,” snapped
Lannigan glared at him.
“ What about the second ‘Wulf
that turned over?” he de-
manded harshly.

“ The chap wasn’t touched,”
Braddock retorted.
“ Say, Braddock, you can’t
deny a Messerschmitt went
down in flames,’? Ike Lewis
“‘It fell through the forma-
tion,” Braddock stated. “ A
Spitfire shot it down.”
Lannigan stuck his jaw out.
“I get it,” he said trucu-
lently. “You want to claim
all the credit for the Spit-
Braddock shook his head.
“ An air battle’s a confusing
business with planes flicking
about all over the sky,” he said.
“ I don’t doubt you all genui-
nely believe you shot down
fighters but today you didn’t
and that’s all there is to it.”
I could see he was dis-
believed. He was as popular
as a snake at a picnic.
Even with our claims dis-
allowed by Braddock, the Group
decided they had shot down
twenty-five Germans. The other
Group claimed as many.
Colonel Cahey rang up the
Spitfire headquarters. It was
their estimate that five German
fighters had been destroyed
with five others possibly
brought down.
Round about one o’clock
Braddock and I went into the
mess for dinner. Meals were
taken on the help-yourselves
system. We took trays, went
to the long counter and collected
the food we wanted.
I looked round for a table
and saw Ike Lewis, Sam Wood-
ing, Pete Lannigan, and two
other members of the crew
sitting at a table at which there
were a couple of vacant seats.
I headed towards it fol-
lowed by Braddock.
As we sat down the others
got up, picked up their trays.
and took their food to another
“We’re unpopular, Brad,”
I said. “They’ve sent us to
Braddock grinned.
“They’re raw,” he said.
“ They’ll learn.”
But, there wasn’t an
American n.c.o. who would
speak to us, look at us or
acknowledge our existence ex-
cept when on duty.

THE German U-Boa-ts
were hitting us
hard. With France
in their hands, the enemy
had established bases at
places like Brest, Lorienr
and Bordeaux for their
Arlarntic raiders. With
German thoroughness, the
enemy built U -Boat
shelters, great concrete
boxes, in the harbours.
Round them were the
engineering shops.
Three days after the Lille
raid, we were briefed for a raid
on the submarine pens at
It was stated that three

groups of Fortresses were to
take part in the raid, from
Brinkley, Wyehford, and Brad-
We were warned that anti-
aircraft fire would be heavy.
The weather forecasters stated
that we should encounter cloud
on the way but that it should
clear over the target area.
The start was not so early. It
was ten o’c1ock when we took
On the ground the n.c.o.’s
continued to treat Braddock
and me as outcasts.
We roared away towards the
sea. In this raid we flew in
separate groups and ours
brought up the rear. The opera-
tion was under the command of
Brigadier General Brill who
was flying with the Wychford
At 20,000 feet, over the tops
of the cloud masses, we
thundered along. From the nose
of the Yonkers Kid I had a
clear view of Yukon Digger and
Homicide Bureau flying close to
We were soon over the sea
and the clouds looked as solid
as a tableland, unbroken by
fissures and stretching to the
I heard Charlie Forde re-
mark to Braddock that the
weather forecast had gone
The formations ahead of us
started to wheel. We cast round
twice in great circles searching
for a break in the murky clouds.
The radio crackled. The
Brigadier called his group
“ Owing to the one hundred
per cent cloud the Mission is
abandoned,” he exclaimed
harshly. “ Groups will return to
There was an outburst of
chatter among the crew.
“ It’s Hitler’s lucky day !”
Lannigan said.
“ We’ll be coming back,
krauts,” threatened Ike.
Braddock rapped out a sharp,
“ Keep your mouths shut.”
Then we heard him call Colonel
“ This is Braddock, Colonel,”
he said gruffly when he
received the acknowledgment
from our group leader.
“ There’s no need to scrub the
raid. I'll take you through.”

Braddock leads a bombing
raid on the U-boat pens in
Lorient. Don't miss NEXT
WEEK'S clash with Lannigan,
it's a real humdinger.



I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK (Fifth series) The Rover from 15th Jan 1955 for 49 weeks

BRADDOCK MASTER OF THE AIR (Repeat of Fifth series) The Rover from 7th Feb 1970 for 49 weeks





Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories


The Rover 7h Feb 1970 - Page 2

Braddock flies on a
routine mission and
comes back with the
most astounding report
of the war. Read about
it in this. new story!

NOW I am going to tell the story of
Braddock’s greatest exploit of the
war. It is a story that until now has
been shrouded in mystery, but at last
it can be told.
Sergeant Matt Braddock, V.C., had
already established himself as one of
the R.A.F.’s greatest pilots before this
story starts. I am Sergeant George
Boume, and I flew as his navigator.
Towards the end of an autumn after-
noon, I was waiting at Paddington
Station for Braddock. We had been
given a short leave and posted to
Ambleton, an aerodrome in the South-
West Midlands. I knew we should be
flying in Mosquitos again, but that was
about all I did know.
It was my guess that we should be
on reconnaissance flights, as Mosquitos
employed on long-range scouting
missions flew from that part of the
country. But it was only a guess.
Our train was due to leave at 4.10,
and that meant I could expect Brad~
dock to show up at about 4.8. He
wouldn't miss the train, but he
would not waste any time by arriving
Around the entrance to number two
platform there was suddenly a stir.
Policemen seemed to sprout from the
ground. Passengers, civil and military,
were shooed out of the way in a polite
but very firm manner.
A minute or so later the Great Man
walked from the entrance towards the
platform. You should have seen the
Military Police risking dislocations of
the elbow as they saluted, and many
civilians took off their hats -- and
looked pleased at having the oppor-
tunity to do so.
The Great Man was Mr William
Lorrimer, a person nearly as important
as the Prime Minister himself.
Even as he walked into a railway
station, he gave the impression of
having tremendous vitality and tre~
mendous force. His eyes, beneath bushy
eyebrows, seemed to take us all in at
a sweeping glance. I’d never seen such
a dominating forehead, such a massive
“Lummy, I wouldn’t like to get on
the wrong side of him,” muttered an
airman who was standing near me.
That was how the Great Man affected
you. He was merely walking to a train
and yet his overwhelming personality
could be felt.
It was small wonder that Admirals,

Generals, and Air Chief Marshals had
to know their briefs to the last full
stop before they appeared before him.
Otherwise, you could imagine them
being shot down in flames by the
blast of his scathing tongue.
He took no heed of the salutes and
hat-raising until he was near the
barrier. Then he paused, ‘half-turned,
removed his own hat courteously and
smiled-well, it was hardly a smile,
just a momentary relaxation of his
Followed by a retinue of police and
secretaries, he walked on towards the
train. Not until he was seated were
the ordinary people allowed to go on
to the platform.
I watched the clock, and with three
minutes in hand Matt Braddock came
towards the platform.
Was it mere fancy on my part that
as I watched him striding purposefully
towards me I sensed some sort of
bond between him and. the Great Man
I had just seen?

BRADDOCK wasn’t one of the
willowy, languid pilots. He was
tremendously rugged. His expression
was challenging with a hint of burning
impatience. His eyes were unusually
big and had that far-sighted, trans-
parent look you so often see in air
pilots and sailors.
He was wearing battledress with
greasy smears on the blouse and knees.
He had not buttoned the blouse down
on to his trousers, and so there was
a gap at the back through which his
shirt was visible.
I guessed that he’d packed in a
hurry, for what looked like a woolly
vest poked out of his kitbag. His
medal ribbons hung by a few threads.
“ Have you been having a roll in the
road? “ I asked him by way of greeting.

The Rover 7h Feb 1970 - Page 3

Braddock grinned.
“You’re getting fussy in
your old age, George,” he
retorted. “But, as a matter
of fact, I have been having
a roll in the road. A bloke’s
car dropped a track rod, and
I had to give him a hand
with the repair.”
Braddock was always a
kind of human magnet to
Service Police. Four or five
converged on him. A
sergeant, with a mouth like
the slit of a letter-box,
pounced first.
“Well, you’re an oil paint~
ing, I must say,” he said
with harsh sarcasm.
“ Out of my way!” growled
Braddock, and walked round
him. “I’ve got a train to
“Halt,” snarled the
sergeant. “Come back here,
Braddock r e a c h e d the
barrier, and the ticket
collector, with a Wink,
glanced at his travelling pass
and let him on to the plat-
form. I followed, and so did
the sergeant and a corporal.
They doubled to get in front
of him.
“ I’rn putting the hooks on
you for disobeying an order
and for your untidy appear-
ance,” snarled the sergeant.
“ Let’s see your papers.”
Braddock dumped his kit-
bag on the platform. He
fetched out his wallet and
produced his papers.
“ Hurry up and take what
you want,” he snapped. “If
I miss this train, it’ll be you
who carries the can.”
“ What can?” jeered the
“ You’ll blooming soon find
out,” said Braddock. “I’m
flying tonight—if you don’t
stop me catching the train."
The cop didn't like being
hustled, but he was a little
uncertain about things, and
hurriedly re a d out Brad-
dock’s name and station for
the corporal to put down in
his notebook.

Braddock grabbed his
papers back.
“They say there’s a fool
born every minute, George,
and they all go into the
police,” he snapped. ‘
Whistles were blowing as
we went along the train. It
was packed. There didn’t
even appear to be standing
room in the corridors.
Ahead of us on the plat-
form stood the station-
master, a Provost-Marshal
with the rank of Major, and
several policemen. We were
still being tailed by the
specimens who had held us
“It looks as if we’ll have
to ride on the engine,” I
“Here’s room,” Braddock
exclaimed, and suddenly
swerved between the police
and grasped the handle of a
first-class compartment in
which one passenger was

Man. Before I could utter
a warning, Braddock had
the door open.
Shouts of alarm rang out.
The Major with the red
armband leapt at Braddock.
A police sergeant got hold
of his other arm.
Mr William Lorrimer rose
from his seat and stood in
the doorway.
“Is it not usual, Major, to
salute a ho1der of the
Victoria Cross?” he asked.
The Provost-Marshal went
as red as his arm-band. He
released Braddock, stepped
back, and saluted him.
I nearly fell over back-
wards when the Great Man
gestured to us to get in with
him. From the adjacent first-
class compartment his secre-
taries stared out.
“ I’m sorry to butt in, sir,”
Braddock said. “The train’s
very full, and I saw the
empty seats.”
Mr Lorrimer chuckled.
“I have work to do, Brad-
dock,” he said, and pointed
to a stuffed brief-case.
“That is why I usually
travel alone. Is your com-
panion Sergeant Bourne?”
I was staggered that the
Great Man should know us.
As the train started and the
astonished faces on the

platform slid away, he
asked where we were going.
Braddock said we were
going to Ambleton to join a
squadron of Mosquito
bombers. This exploded my
idea that we were going to
a recce squadron. Mr Lor-
rimer knew all about the
purpose for which they were
A small specialist force
had been formed towards the
end of 1943 for long-distance
penetration over Germany
and attacks on difficult
The Mosquito could carry
a 2000 lb. bomb——before the
end of the war some of them
were adapted to take 4000
pounders — and possessed
such range and speed that
even in the short darkness of
the s u m m e r nights they
were able to get to Berlin
and back.
It was to this force that
our squadron belonged. I
found out most of this
Mr Lorrimer questioned
us both. They were not the
patronising, superficial sort
of questions that air crews
usually r e c e iv e cl from
politicians, but were shrewd
-and penetrating.
The questions m a d e me
wonder how he had found
the time to collect such
details as the difference in
horsepower between the
Merlin XX engine and the
Merlin LXI, and the com-
parative ranges of the half~
in c h calibre machine - gun
used in the Flying Fortresses
and Liberators and the
Germans’ 20 m.rn. Mauser
cannon. Yet he knew them.
Then, slowly and re-
reflectively, he spoke.
“War consists of'a series
of ups and downs, of attack
and counter-attack. At the
moment we are doing
reasonably well, and at such
a time it is necessary to be
doubly wary.
“We have surprised the
enemy with the Mosquito,
which you young men fly.
There is nothing more
certain but that in due
course the enemy will, in his
turn, produce an aircraft
which will fly higher and
“We have made bombs
which are ferocious in their
destructive power. What has
he up his sleeve?”
With a solemn shake of
his head, the Great Man
pulled some typewritten
papers from his brief-case,
put on his spectacles, and
started to read. Outside in
the corridor a burly man,
whom I took to be his
private detective, stood on
There was no more con-
versation. Mr Lorrimer Was
so absorbed in his p ap e r s
that we might not have been
in the compartment with
him. Often he frowned.
Occasionally he pencilled
r e in a r k s on the papers.
usually underlining them.
Braddock and I stretched
our legs out and had a
comfortable journey of an
hour or so. Then the train
slowed down and stopped at
our station.
Mr Lorrimer shook hands
with us and wished us a
safe return from our enter~
prises against the enemy.
We stepped out on to the
platform amid a p o s s e of
police, assembled to protect
the eminent traveller. There
were some astonished looks.
“Things will come out all
right With men like him at
the top,” Braddock said as
we walked to the exit.
We had travelled down
from London in a first-class
carriage with the Great Man.
We travelled the five miles
to the drome in the back of
a lorry with several
grumbling Joe Soaps.
At ten o’clock that night
we flew one of the five
Mosquitos sent to remind
Berlin that there was a war

IN the course of the next
month, Braddock and I
made fourteen long flights.
As I look back, my
principal recollection is of
their monotony. Six or
seven hours in the dark,
with the motors pounding
steadily away, made it a
tedious business.
In that month We never
got a glimpse of a German
fighter or were attacked by
one we didn’t see. We en-
countered anti-aircraft fire
occasionally, and search
lights chased us vainly. At
the job we were on, the
Mosquito was supreme.
The German Propaganda
Minister, Dr Goebbels,
alluded in his diaries, found
after the war, to the “ small
Mosquito machines which
are exceedingly hard to hit.”
The Officer in Command
at Ambleton was Group-
Captain Chimer, D.F.C. He
had three squadrons to cope
with from the administrative
angle, and he was inclined
to be a remote figure. We
were to come hard up
against hirn before we were
much older.
We were more directly
concerned with Squadron-
Leader Oliver Grane, D.F.C.
He had been a night-
fighter pilot through the

The Rover 7h Feb 1970 - Page 4

blitz period, and, when the
German raids on this
country dwindled, changed
over to the Mosquito
He was a quiet, pleasant
man, and his navigator
spoke well of his skill as a
pilot. Braddock said that he
was all right, but he allowed
himself to be pushed around
by the Commanding Officer.
I remember that it was on
a Friday morning that five
crews, including Braddock
and me, were summoned to
a briefing. Squadron-Leader
Grane waited in the room
with the Intelligence Officer,
Squadron Navigation Officer,
and a lot of other fellows.
“Munich!” he said. Then
he added, “I don’t hear any
loud cheers.”
The reason was that
Munich was a very distant
target, and that we were
faced with a long and ex-
hausting flight. I looked at
the weather forecast. It
seemed that the weather
most of the way would be
poor and that clouds were
to be expected over the
target area.
The Intelligence Officer,
Flight - Lieutenant Warke,
addressed us.
“I expect you educated
types know that Munich saw
the start of the National
Socialist cult, otherwise
Nazi-ism,” he said. “It was
in a beer cellar in Munich
that Adolf Hitler founded the
party that has given us such
a lot of trouble. Today is a
Nazi anniversary, and it’s
known that celebrations are
being held in Munich. It is
considered that it would be
a good thing to drop in on
the party and heave out a
few bombs.
“ It is proposed that you
should take off at intervals
of half an hour or so to
prolong the alarm as long as
Braddock, a scowl on his
rugged face, interrupted the
“ What’s the use of it?” he
demanded brusquely.
“According to the weather
forecast the city will be
hidden by cloud. We shan’t
get a look at the ground.
We’re just as likely to drop
our bombs in the Wurm
See ”—he referred to a lake
near the city - “as on a
worthwhile target. I call it
waste of time and waste of
It was his first outburst at
a briefing, and Warke looked
distinctly taken aback that
anyone should doubt the
wisdom of Group in the
selection of a target.
“ As for interrupting the

celebrations, what’s the point
of it compared with plant-
ing our bombs where they’ll
do some damage?” Braddock
asked. “Even if Hitler is to
make a speech, you can bet
your boots he’ll be out of
harm’s way.
“If the weather were any-
thing decent I wouldn’t pro-
test, of course, for the rail-
way junction makes a good
target. But, it's a lot of silly
childishness to bomb blind
when other towns will be
clear of clouds.”
The voice of Group'-
Captain _Chirner was the first
intimation we received that
he’d come in unawares.
“Your job, Sergeant
Braddock, is to obey orders,
not to dispute them," he
said harshly from behind us.
He strode to the front of
the room. He was a short,
stocky man, with a brick-
red complexion and a fierce,
dark moustache.
“We don’t want orators

in the Service,” he snapped.
“ Wait till after the war and
then you can stand on a
soap-box in Hyde Park and
natter to your heart’s con-
tent.” ' ‘
Some of the chaps grinned.
Braddock said nothing, but I
could tell he was very angry.
The briefing followed the
normal course. Our
Mosquito, F-Fox; was to be
the last to take off at 19.30
hours—7.30 in the evening.
It was as we went out that
Braddock made a pungent
“Have you ever noticed,
George, that the chap with
the biggest hat often has the
s m a 1 1 e s t brain?” he ex-
claimed. “ This raid is a silly
waste of time.”
For once Braddock was to
be proved wrong.

WE were airborne. The
runway lights fell away
beneath us. I sat at Brad-
dock’s side in the small
cockpit of F-Fox. He pulled
up a lever to retract the
wheels. -
I made my first entry in
the log — “ 19.31, airborne,
Engine-warmed air entered
the cockpit as Braddock
switched on the heater. Our
speed was steady at 260
miles an hour.
Braddock glanced at me
over his oxygen mask.
“Switch over now,
George,” he said over the
inter-communication system.
I stretched down and
turned the petrol cocks from
the main to the outer tanks.
In a few minutes we were
approaching the coast, and
climbing fast. The weather
over England was good, and
the stars shone clearly.
Our two Merlin engines

pounded away smoothly. I
switched on my oxygen. We
were at 18,000 feet when we
crossed the C h a n n e l and
passed over the F r e n c h
coast. Our course was
roughly parallel to the
French-Belgian frontier. We
should enter Germany near
the town of Baden, and then
fly over the Black Forest to-
wards Ulm, and on to
Mosquito bombers did not
carry guns. We relied on
speed to keep ourselves out
of trouble.
“No flak tonight, Brad,” I
muttered as we raced over
France. “No searchlights,
either. Isn’t their radar
working ?”
Braddock started weaving.
“ Could be they’re hunting

us with fighters,” he said
If his theory were right,
then a German controller
sitting in front of his radar
screen, radio telephone in
hand, was trying to put his
fighters on to us.
Braddock’s hand moved
on the throttles, and I felt a
shove in the back as speed
After about a minute he
put the Mosquito into a
tight turn.
We described a complete
circle. As we got back on
to course Braddock
“ That’s diddled ’em,
George,” he said. “They’ve
shot off the wrong way.”
“I didn’t see a thing,” I
“A couple of ’em were
playing about,” was his
calm answer.
Our danger that night
wasn’t to come from
fighters. We started to run
into bad weather as we
approached Baden. There
were clouds and squalls. It
wasn’t a nice night to be
As we flew over the Black
Forest the weather became
progressively worse.
Before we reached Ulm
we approached massive
cumulo-nimbus clouds.
You’ve seen them. Pos-
sibly you’ve called them
thunder clouds, great
masses soaring upwards like
mountains. The base of the
clouds appeared to be nearly
down to the ground.
“We’re going to have a
rough ride,” muttered Brad-
dock. “I don’t know that
we can find a way through,
but we’ll try.”
The cloud enveloped _us
and rough it was! The Mos-
quito started to bumpand
shudder. The speed on the
air-speed indicator fluctuated
by thirty miles an hour or
more, and the rate-of-climb
indicator wobbled crazily up
and down. _
It was like driving a car
over a series of hump-
backed bridges at full speed.
A powerful downdraught
caught us and we dropped
like a rock. There was a
savage jolt that lifted me
from my seat, and then we
were lifted by an uprush of
I glanced grimly at Brad-
dock. I saw that his arms
and wrists were braced as
he fought to keep the
Mosquito on an even keel.
We dropped and bumped
again. We shot up. We fell.
I had a nasty feeling that
The Rover 7h Feb 1970 - Page 5

the Mosquito would suddenly
break up.
There came a vivid blue
shimmer. Lightning began to
play around us and every
metal part sparked with blue
shafts of St Elmo’s Fire.
Another terrific shock
seemed to stop the plane.
We dropped and then lifted.
We were being tossed about
like a leaf in a gale.
Braddock nursed the
plane along in a wonderful
fashion. He seemed to
anticipate the worst of the
bumps and be able in some
way to reduce the shock a
bit. His hand continually
moved on the throttle.
A terrible streak of light-
ning seemed to split the
cloud like a red-hot scimitar.
There was a dazzling flash
and a thump. I thought we’d
had it.
The Mosquito shuddered
and then flew on. But some-
thing Was wrong.
“What’s happened?” I
shouted hoarsely.
“The port engine’s cut
out,” Braddock exclaimed.
“We shall have to turn.
back.” _
In the garish blue light
we turned, and I gave him
the course as nearly as I
could calculate it. As I made
the log entry, my pencil
slithered right across the

page as we lurched again.
Losing altitude, we
swayed back to the west.
Despite the tremendous
hammering it received that
wonderful Mosquito, made
of balsa ply, birchwood
laths, screws, and glue, held
We emerged slowly from
the storm area. The port
engine remained dead.
Laboriously, still losing
height, we battled along.
— My visions of arriving in
Germany clinging to the
webbing of my parachute
harness grew unpleasantly
“ Shall we make it, Brad?”
I asked.
His answer came promtly.
He’d made up his mind.
“We’ve got to lighten our
load,” he rapped out. “We
shall have to drop the
I unplugged my leads and
got down into the bomb-
aimer’s position. For once
there was nothing to aim at.
We were over the region of
the Black Forest, and all we
should do would be to make
a big crater among the trees.
I plugged in again. I
peered down through the
flat window in the nose. Like
the windshield, it had
double panels and a con-
stant stream of hot air
passed between them to
prevent misting.
“ Okay,” I said.
I heard a rumble as the
bomb doors opened.
“Bomb doors open,”
Braddock said. “Let it go,
George!” '
I pulled the bomb release.
Our toiling Mosquito gave a
buoyant leap as the bomb
We were then down to five
thousand feet. I remained
sprawling on my stomach
and waited to see the bomb
go off.
There was as blinding
flash from the ground and
then I heard a muflled
“There’s a thousand quid
or so wasted,” I said over
the inter - communication,
and the words were hardly
uttered when I saw an eerie
green flame spreading across
the ground.
A shout broke from
Braddock as a colossal ex-
plosion occurred beneath us.
It was as if a volcano had
blown its top off. We seemed
to be looking down into the
very interior of the earth
The crash of that titanic
explosion blotted out the
sound of our engine. Fire,
debris, smoke rushed up. A
terrific blast lifted the
Mosquito in its uprush.
The fire burned with a
vivid, crimson glow fringed
by all the colours of the
rainbow. Its heart became a
molten globe.
Braddock regained control
three thousand feet higher
than when we dropped the
bomb. He turned away from
the holocaust.
Now an immense cloud of
flame and smoke formed on
top of a monstrous column.
It looked like a huge mush-
room, and its garish light lit
up the ground for miles.
“ What on earth have we
touched off?” I gasped.
“ Get back up here and
mark the spot,” snapped
I forgot to unplug the
phone lead and nearly
yanked an ear off. I pulled
the lead out and scrambled
back to my seat. I marked
the spot on my map as
nearly as I could and entered
the time in the log.
The glow began to fade
as we circled the area, but
the tremendous column of
smoke and the mushroom
top looked solid in the ebb-
ing crimson glow.
“What’ve we touched
off?” I repeated hoarsely.
“Your guess is as good
as mine,” responded Brad-
dock, “ but it was something
special. We’ll get home as
fast as we can, George.
We’ve got news to tell!”

TWO hours or so later we
were back at Arnhleton.
Our one engine brought the
Mosquito home without a
falter. Once we had rid our-
selves of our bomb load in
such dramatic fashion we
were in no danger.
We heard that one Mos-
quito had not returned. The
other three had failed to get
near Munich because of the
weather and had dropped
their bombs near Ulm.
I sensed tension in the
briefing-room. A mission had
failed. -
Group-Captain Chimer
looked worse than narked.
Squadron-Leader Grane had
a worried expression. The
Intelligence Officers wrote
Chimer spoke as soon as
we trudged into the room.
“ Did you get to Munich?”
he demanded.
“No,” Braddock said
“ Then the lot of you have
put up a black,” snapped
“ Wait for it,” said Brad-
dock gruffly; “We dropped
our bomb over the Black
Forest, and it produced the
biggest explosion I’ve ever
seen and I’ve seen a few.”
“There aren’t words to
describe it,” I exclaimed.
“A green light played
across the ground and then
everything blew up,” said
Braddock. “It was some-
thing special!”
“I’ve known crews come
back with stories like this
before, after unsuccessful
raids,” Chimer insinuated.
“ Go and look at our Mose
quito then,” snapped Brad-
dock. “The paint’s blistered
by heat on the under~
surfaces.” "
Chimer looked at him
“You were evidently
lucky enough to blow up a
munitions dump,” he said,
and, leaving the Intelligence
Officers to get on with it.
walked out.
Braddock glared after him.
“Munitions dump, my
foot,” he exclaimed. He
turned on Flight-Lieutenant
“I tell you it was some-
thing special,” he said, and
thumped his fist on the
table to emphasise his
“Steady on, old boy,
you’ve spilled my tea,” said
Warke. “We’ll put down
what you say.”

The Rover 7h Feb 1970 - Page 6

A couple of mornings later
I was alone in the air crews’
mess having a look at the
newspapers. I observed that
they contained a report of a
speech made by Hitler an
Munich on the night we
failed to get there.
According to him the war
was as good as won by
Germany, and as soon as
new weapons became avail~
able the enemies of the
Reich would be crushed.
I was more interested in
the brief reports of some
football matches. If it hadn’t
been for the war I might
have become a professional
I had completed an
engineering apprenticeship
and was deciding whether to
become a draughtsman or
accept an offer to sign on as
goalkeeper for a Third
Division club when Hitler
invaded Poland and the
R.A.F. got me.
Braddock appeared to
have been a Jack-of-all~
trades before the war, and
his last job before joining up
had been that of a steeple-
jack. His spare time he spent
in flying light aircraft and

THE door opened and he
came charging in look-
ing like an angry bull.
“I’ve just had a look at
the Intelligence bloke’s
report on our raid,” he
roared. “He’s got about as
much intelligence as a
whelk. The C.O.’s as bad.
He’s counter-signed it.
“ All the report says about
the explosion is that one
Mosquito apparently
destroyed a munitions dump
in jettisoning its bomb.
“I’m not going to mess
about. Lend me your pen.”
I pulled out my fountain
“Who are you going to
write to?” I asked.
“Can’t you guess?” re~
torted Braddock, and went
over to a writing table.
He got a sheet of note-
paper and Wrote steadily. It
was a rare sight to see Brad-
dock with a pen in his hand.
Letter-writing was not a
favourite pastime of his.
I saw him take an envelope.
He addressed it and then
looked across at me.
“Does he stay at 12 or 14
Downing Street?” he asked.
“Who?” I squawked.
“Mr Lorrimer,” he
I nearly shot out of my
“You’re not writing to
him?” I gasped.

“Who’d you think I'm
writing to, the King of
Siam?” he snapped. “Don’t
you know the number?"
“It’s Fourteen,” I said.
Braddock crushed up the
envelope he’d used and
addressed another. He put
the letter in, stamped it.
and strode out of the room.
I looked after him in a
troubled sort of way.
In the R.A.F. any com-
munication followed a well-
established chain, from
Flight Commander to
Squadron-Leader, from
Squadron-Leader to Com-
manding Officer, C.O. to
Group, and so on.
Braddock had not only
skipped the lot, he’d jumped
the Air Ministry as well.
It was the same evening
that the tannoy summoned
Braddock to the Command-
ing Officer. The first thing he
noticed in the room was a
crumpled envelope lying in
front of the infuriated
Group-Captain. ~
“I want an explanation
of this, Braddock,” Chirner
barked. “It was found in a
Wastepaper basket in your
mess, and your writing has
been identified.”
“So somebody’s been
snooping, not that it
matters,” said Braddock.
“I’ve written to Mister Lor-
rimer to tell him about the
explosion, since nobody else
seems interested. That en-
velope found in a waste-
paper basket was my first
attempt at writing the
address. The second attempt
was more successful!”
Chimer rose inches oft his
chair and then sank back.
“Have you posted the
letter?” he asked.
“ Hours ago,” said Brad-
dock. .
“ My word, Braddock, this
ends‘ your Service career,”
exclaimed Chimer. “No
notice will be taken of your
letter, of course, but you
have broken one of the most
rigid regulations of the
Service. I shall have to con-
sider and, indeed, consult
with the A.O.C., Group,
about your very grave mis-
demeanour. Until then, in
order to prevent you from
committing any more acts
of wanton indiscipline, you
will be placed under arrest.”
It was soon all over the
station that Braddock was
in the cells and, as Flying-
Officer Bason was heard to
phrase it, had made the
biggest boob in the history
of the Royal Air Force.
How seriously his crime
was regarded was indicated
in the morning when the
news got about that Air
Vice-Marshal Grout was on
his way from Group H.Q.
It was round about eleven
o’clock that a Mosquito
swept into the orbit and
Group Captain Chirner and
many more officers were
out on the tarmac to receive
the Air Vice-Marshal. He
lowered himself from the
aircraft. He was a portly
man, rather pompous, rather
He pulled his tunic
straight and, gleaming with
braid and medal ribbons,
returned the salutes of the
reception party.
Treading heavily, he
stepped out with Chimer
towards the administration

THEN there was a silvery
gleam and on to the
tarmac glided a huge Rolls-
It stopped. The chauffeur
sprang out and opened the
A cigar stub was tossed
out on to the concrete. Mr
William Lorrimer got out of
the car and gazed round.
In his shadow Air Vice~
Marshal Grout and Chimer
were reduced to dwarfs.
They looked incredulous at
this unannounced visit.
“Where is Braddock?” he
asked. “I want to see
Sergeant Braddock, and I
don’t want to be kept wait-
Chimer gasped an order
in the ear of the Adjutant,
who left the scene at the
The Great Man fixed his
terrible stare on Grout.
“Did you read Braddockls
r e p or t, Grout?” he
“Ahum,” squawked the
Air Vice - Marshal. “ I
accepted the opinion of
Intelligence that an ammuni-
tion dump had been ex-
“I wonder how much
vital information is with~
held from me through
stupidity?” muttered Mr
Lorrirner. He moved towards
the administration buildings.
“ Come along, Peacock,
come along,” he said
Then the spectators ob-
served that a second man, a
scraggy man, had got out of
the Rolls.
One of his trouser legs
had got caught up to reveal
that he wore boots, reddish
socks, and long, woolly

pants. His moustache looked
like a tuft of mare’s tail,
and he wore huge spectacles
with bi-focal lenses.
Consternation continued.
It was the biggest flap in the
history of Ambleton.
Braddock strode into view
across the tarmac. He was
pursued by the Adjutant,
holding out his collar and tie
which must have been taken
from him. “
“Come on, George,” he
called out, ignoring the offer
of his collar and tie. “ You’ll
be wanted, too.”
Mr Lorrimer waited for
him by the doorway.
“I wish you had sent me
a telegram as soon as you
got back, Braddock, or
spoken to me on the tele-
phone," he said. “I fear we
have lost forty-eight most
invaluable hours.”
“ Well, I told them it was
something special,” replied
Mr Lorrimer cast a look
at the Vice-Marshal and
Group-Captain, which I can
only describe as baleful. He
then walked into the build-
ing and took possession of
the C.O.’s office.
“Now,” he said, “I want
you to describe to Sir Albert
Peacock precisely what you
“Sir Albert is what. you
would call a boffin.” He
chuckled gruffly. “In fact,
he is our top boffin and he
wants to find out, and so do
I, what the enemy have up
their sleeve.”
Sir Albert stabbed the air
with a bony finger.
“Did you see any emis-
sion of green light?” he
asked in a squeaky voice.
“ It was the first thing we
did see,” said Braddock.
Sir Albert pursed his lips
and gave a long, shrill
“Is it what you feared?”
Mr Lorrimer demanded.
“It is primary evidence,”
the scientist answered
“ Then Hitler may not
have been merely trying to
make our flesh creep when
he spoke of new weapons?“
pursued Mr Lorrimer.
“I will hear Braddock
fully,” said Sir Albert, “ and
then I shall be able to give
a fuller opinion, but the
green light could have a
very sinister significance’

NEXT WEEK Braddock Flies
on a dangerous task—to
bring back information from
the mysterious bomb crater!



I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK ( series 6) The Rover - 4 Feb 1956 - 1 Sept 1956
--- also BRADDOCK Master of the Air The Rover - 13 March 1971 - 9 Oct 1971

( see also the book "Braddock and the flying tigers")






Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories

The Rover - 13th Mar. 1971 - Page 23

FAIREY FULMARS and Skuas, with
wings folded, were pushed closely
together and I examined them with
interest as I waited for my pilot,
Sergeant Matt Braddock, V.C.
It Was not often that I had the
chance to look around the hangar of
an aircraft carrier.
Occasionally an order would be
barked over the loudspeaker system.
Fitters and riggers, in overalls and
rubber pumps, were busy on planes,
at the benches. They were as busy as
bees, but I observed the numerous
interested glances that were cast at
the aircraft standing on the lift.
It was a Mosquito and, in 1942,
that was an uncommon plane. The
few already in service with the Royal
Air Force, as fighters and reconnais-
sance planes, hacl been so succesful
that the Fleet Air Arm had decided to
try it out.
There on the lift it stood, a shapely
plane With its highly-polished blue
surfaces, polished to reduce air fric-
tion. In those days it was a revolution-
ary aircraft from ailerons to rudder.
It was fast because it was light and
it was light because it was built of
laths of birch and balsawood, glued
under pressure.
The coverings of wings and fuselage
were doped cloth. To this airframe,
apparently so fragile and yet so strong,
were fixed two powerful Merlin
This Mosquito, F Fox, had been
adapted for aircraft carrier operations.

It had folding wings and an arrester
I am Sergeant George Bourne, and
at that time I was a navigator in the
R.A.F. I had flown with Braddock on
many operations. Lately we had been
switched to Mosquitoes, and had
achieved such results with them that
the Royal Navy had asked that Brad-
dock should try the aircraft on the
special tests.
The carrier, the vast Royal Ark,
rolled and dipped ponderously. The
tests were being carried out not far
from the North Coast of Ireland, and
the weather was squally, with racing
clouds and visibility varying from fair
to dirty.
I pulled my cuff back and glanced
at my wrist watch. I was puzzled.
What was keeping Braddock? We were
near our Estimated Time of Departure
for the first trial flight.
A bearded chief artificer named
Harry Horne came along, and I bet
myself half a crown I knew what he
was going to say. He was a swarthy
fellow and wore earrings. You could
have imagined him as a topman in
the days of Nelson, but now he wore
dungarees and carried a spanner.
He halted, he looked at the
Mosquito and "shook his head.
“No, it won’t do,” he said. “I don’t
say you won’t fly it off, but 'you’ll
never fly it on again. It’s too fast and
it’s too fragile!”
He shook his head dolefully and
rolled away towards a Fulmar.
As he went, I caught sight of Matt
Braddock, a sturdy man of ordinary
enough appearance until you noticed
his eyes. The pupils were larger than
most and had a strange clearness,
almost as if a blue light were burning
behind them.
He was a Staffordshire man, he
came from near Walsall, and his last
job before the war had been that of a
steeplejack. He never talked much
about his past - for he was too con-
cerned with the present, with getting
on with the war—but I did know that
he had been a Week-end pilot in a
volunteer squadron, flying old single-
engined Fairey Battle bombers, until
he had a row and left.
Then he had flown only when he
could afford to hire an aero-club
machine and had done some gliding at
Wenlock Edge. On the first day of the
War he had joined up.
“ Our departure has been put back
half an hour, George,” he growled.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because of a couple of Yanks,” he
said. “The plane that flew aboard this
morning brought a three-star Admiral
and Commander aboard and they’re
having a natter about the Mosquito
with our folk. From What I’ve heard,
they’ve already made up their minds
that it would never be any use as a
carrier-borne plane.”
“ It won’t, neither!” growled Harry
Horne passing by. ‘
I chuckled.
The Rover - 13th Mar. 1971 - Page 24

He’s a bit old-fashioned
in his ideas,” I remarked.
“He’s the best blooming
rigger in this banana boat,”
said Braddock. "
He rarely used Air Force
slang, but “ banana boat”
was the term for an aircraft
Then, coming towards us,
we sighted a group of sailors
and civilians, including the
commanding officer of the
Royal Ark, Captain Shepper-
torn, D.S.O., a lean tall man.
Bustling along at his side,
taking two steps to each of
the Captain’s, arms going like
pistons, was an American,
Vice-Admiral Hiram Parker.
- He was short and thin. He
had a big, sharp nose and a
long, sharp chin. His lips
were so thin and indrawn
that they looked like the
edges of a couple of razor
Towering behind him was
Commander Watrous,
another American, and some-
how he gave the immediate
impression that he did not
think much of anything
I might remind you that
the Americans did not have
an independent air force
like the R.A.F. Their two
Air Arms came under the
Navy and Army respectively.

Commander Watrous wore
pilot’s wings.
Parker folded his arms and
looked piercingly at the
Mosquito. He did not say it
looked a nice aeroplane or
pass any other comment.
“What’s its range?” he
He got the answer from
Braddock. ‘
“ I’ve flown a Mosquito to
Berlin and back and had
petrol left, sir,” he said.
Watrous chipped in.
“ A flying petrol tank,” he
said with a jeering edge in
his voice. “What else was
there room for?”
“Well, we did manage to
find room for a two thousand
pound bomb, which is more
than your Flying Fortresses
could carry,” retorted
Braddock bluntly.
Captain Shepperton gave
Braddock a sharp, reprimand-
ing look. Watrous scowled,
but the Vice-Admiral cut in
as if vexed by the inter-
“ This Mosquito is not the
bomber type?” he rapped.
“It’s a fighter and recon-,
naissance plane,” said Brad-
dock. “It has four cannons
and as many machine-guns.”
“And could it also fly
twelve hundred miles?”
rasped Parker.
“ Any day or night,’,’ said
Parker went nimbly up the
steps and ducked through the
small doorway into the cock-
pit. Watrous squeezed after
him and Braddock stood on
the steps.
The Vice-Admiral fired
questions at Braddock and
r e c ei v e d quick, brisk
“What do you think of
the aircraft, Watrous?” he
“ It's not sturdy enough for
carrier work, sir, and I’rn
speaking as a pilot with three
hundred flying hours,” said
“What were you flying?"
growled Braddock. “You
don’t seem to know an aero-
plane from a packing-case.”
I saw the back of the
Commander’s neck go red.
As Braddock’s hackles were
well up, there might have
been a real barney, but the
Vice-Admiral intervened.
“ You're in my way, Com-
mander,” he snapped. “I
want to get out! We will
watch the landing tests from
the bridge.”

FIVE minutes afterwards,
Braddock and I sat side
by side in the cockpit wait-
ing for the lift to carry the
Mosquito up to the flight
deck. I did not speak as he
went carefully through his
cockpit drill. In everything
he did in the air, he was
extremely careful. At last he
looked at me.
“Did you notice how the
Admiral kept harping on
about its range?” he said.
“It was all he seemed to
think about,” I replied.
“ You can see what’s in his
mind,” remarked Braddock.
“The war in the Pacific
against the Japanese is being
fought at great distances,
and a plane with the range
of a Mosquito would give the
Commander of one of their
Task Forces a big advantage
over the Japs.”
I gave a grim nod as I
reflected on the situation in
the Pacific.
Following up their
treacherous blow at Pearl
Harbour, when devastating
air attacks from carriers had
sunk four battleships and
heavily damaged others, with
a loss of two thousand
American lives, the Japs
were sweeping across the
East while we were having
all our work cut to stop the
Germans in the West.
“I could see you having
the gloves on with the Com-
mander,” I said.

A scowl appeared on
Braddock’s rugged face.
“ He got my goat, George,”
rasped Braddock. “He’s one
of those big-mouthed types
A bell clanged and stopped
the conversation. There was
a rumble, and the vast hatch
covers above us slid open. I
could see the grey sky
and the racing clouds.
Ponderously the lift rose and
carried us up to the flight
The Royal Ark was turn-
ing into the wind. On both
beams destroyers, the Active
and the Shark, were whip-
ping up great bow waves
as they escorted the carrier.
The long deck glistened
Seamen pushed the
Mosquito to the take-o?
position and the maintenance
crew opened up the wings.
Braddock started the
engines and the Mosquito
became quivering and alive,
held back by the chocks.
The first flight of such a
fast machine from a carrier
was an event and there
were many spectators on the
I saw that the Commander
(Flying), called “Wings,”
had been joined on his
bridge by the Vice-Admiral
and Commander Watrous.
Captain Shepperton was on
the compass platform.
The petty officer in charge
of the deck party doubled
over to the deck officer to
report that all was ready,
and he signalled the bridge.
“Wings ” at once showed
a green flag, the signal for
the take-off, and the deck
officer ordered “Chocks
away!” ‘
“We’ll surprise ’em,
George,” grunted Braddock.
His hand moved over the
throttles and then let go the
brakes. I felt a tremendous
shove in the back. I had a
glimpse of the aircraft
carrier vanishing astern and
then, with plenty of deck
left, the Mosquito tookoff.
No doubt the short take-off
surprised the watchers.
Braddock provided another
surprise for them. He pulled
the stick back hard and the
Mosquito screamed for the
clouds in a vertical climb.
He levelled out and swung
round. The carrier, with its
long, frothing wake, had
dwindled to a dot.
Braddock dived. We
howled over the Royal Ark
and turned about a mile
astern. He lowered the land-
ing-arrester hook and we
circled the ship, waiting for
the signal to land.
The Rover - 13th Mar. 1971 - Page 25

I saw that the safety
barrier had been raised
across the deck. That was
what you ran into if your
hook did not catch one of
the arrester wires. .
Since I knew Braddock, I
did not doubt that he had
the skill to put the Mosquito
down in onepiece, yet his
judgment had to be spot on.
He had to lose all the speed
he could without risk of
stalling, but even then we
should be landing on the
carrier at twenty-five to
thirty knots faster than any
plane had done before.
“Look for the flag,” said
Braddock. “It’ll be on the
port boom as they call it.”
I saw a flutter. A red flag
with a white cross was
hoisted and rippled out in
the breeze. The Deck-Land~
ing Control. Officer, with the
“bats” he used for signal-
ling to pilots, was waiting on
his platform aft.
Braddock made a straight
approach, holding the nose
Well up."
I thought for an instant
we were too high. Then we
sank fast.
With the Mosquito hanging
on its propellers, we cleared
the stern and the deck
streaked under us. I braced
myself for the sudden check.
There was a jolt, a shudder
and a bounce, and the
Mosquito slithered to a stop.
On the bridge, I noticed
the Vice-Admiral talking
excitedly to Captain
“What’s the next item on
the programme, Brad?" I
“The experts will be
nosing round,” he growled.
“I told ‘em the Mossy would
stand up to the pull of the
hook, but they didn’t believe
me. When they’ve finished,
they’ll send reports in tripli-
cate to the Admiralty, the
Air Ministry, and, for all I
know, the manager of
Walsall gasworks. Then, in
eighteen nionths or so, the
Navy will start getting the
Mosquito or something like
it for carrier work.”

AT that time the Royal
Ark was working up to
fighting trim after a refit,
with a sea loch on the west
coast of Scotland as her base.
I have described in some
detail the first flight we
made. After official scrutiny
by engineers representing
the Admiralty and the Air
Ministry, we made several
more flights during the

course of the next day.
We did not see Vice-
Admiral Parker or Com-
mander Watrous again, for
they left the ship in a
Catalina flying-boat soon
after the first trial.
The Royal Ark was at her
moorings in the loch at dusk
about a week after our
arrival on board. Braddock
and I had a tiny two-berthed
cabin, and for a time we
stretched out and had a read
as a batch of mail and news-
papers had been delivered
when the ship moored.
Braddock yawned, folded
his newspaper and swung his
feet to the floor.
“ Let’s go and have a game
of darts, George,” he said.
“As a matter of fact, they’re

expecting us in the chief
petty offfcers’ mess.”
“You’d better do the
navigating,” I remarked as
we stepped out of the cabin.
Braddock and I descended
vertical ladders, ducked
through manhole doors,
arrived in the bakery by
mistake, reversed, turned a
corner, thought we were on
the right track at last, went
up a companionway, on
down a wider passageway,
pushed open a door and
found ourselves in the big
officers’ Ward Room, with
its plain but comfortable
There was no chorus of
welcome from the numerous
officers who were in the
Ward Room. Braddock’s
battledress tunic was hang-
ing open and his braces
were showing.
I should have gone
straight out, but Braddock
spotted the Sub-Lieutenant
who had been the Deck
Landing Control Officer on
the last occasion the
Mosquito was flown.
“Hold your horses,
George,” he said. “I wanted
a word with the chap who

was wig-wagging this morn-
ing and didn’t know where
to look for him till now?’
Sub-Lieutenant Burch, the
batman, blinked up in
surprise at finding Braddock
in front of his chair.
“ Don’t get up,” said Brad-
dock. “You were working
the bats this morning and
you gave me the signal that
I was coming in too high!”
“Er, this is hardly the
time to talk shop, Sergeant,”
Burch spluttered.
“Not the time to talk
shop?” snapped Braddock. “I
haven’t heard that the
Germans are having a half-
time rest! If more shop was
talked off duty maybe we’d
get the war over sooner. I
just want to point out that

next time you’re wig-wag-
ging you can expect me to
approach higher than your
Skuas and Fulmars.
“I’ve got more speed to
lose than they have and
need a bit more height to
help me judge the approach
and pull up-—-”
Across the room, With_a
scowl on his tawny-‘bearded
face, strode a Lieutenant.
His name was Mitchener and
he belonged to a Fulmar
He gave Braddock a sharp
tap on the shoulder.
“Out you go!” he said
Braddock scowled.
“ I’m talking business,” he
“This isn’t the place for
it,” snarled Mitchener.
“Where is the place for
it?” demanded Braddock.
“The briefing - room,”
snorted Mitchener. “You
can talk as much as you
like there, . and someone
might even listen, but when
on watch below stay in your
own quarters and keep out
of the ward room.”
Braddock glanced at
Mitchener’s fiery whiskers.

“I'll be glad to, Beardie,”
he said. “ Keep the room to
yourselves and you can
have nice chats about every-
thing except how to fly
aeroplanes and run your
The Lieutenant appeared
to be in danger of blowing
his top as, without hurry,
Braddock turned towards
the door.
We found the C.P.O.’s
mess at last, and there was
not a great deal of space in
At the table nearer the
door four weather-beaten
chief petty offfcers were
earnestly engrossed in a
game of ludo. This has
always been a great pastime
in the Navy. It was played
during the war and is played
even today.
At the far end, a game of
darts was being played.
Harry Home was looking on.
Braddock challenged him.
" Have you changed your
mind about the Mosquito?”
he demanded.
“No,” snapped Harry.
“ It’s too fancy for the Fleet
Air Arm. You’ve been lucky
so far, but one hard landing
will crack it up.”
Braddock took oft his tunic
when invited to take part
in the next game of darts,
and he startled the sailors by
starting with a double
twenty and then taking his
score to 160 with the next
two darts.
“Fluke,” commented
Braddock’s turn came
round again. The darts
flashed quickly from his
hand and all three of them
stuck between the treble
twenty wires.
“ Another blooming fluke!”
exclaimed Horne.
Through the din cut a
voice on the loudspeaker.
“Sergeants Braddock and
Bourne, of the Royal Air
Force, will report at the
Flying Control Office,” it
“That's for you,” said
Horne. “Commander Frew-
ing is up there, so you’d
better hop it.”
“We’ll finish the game
first,” replied Braddock.
His turn came round. His
side needed 37 to win, and
he got the points with a 17
and a double 10.
“I’ve never seen such a
fluker,” was Horne’s
Braddock grinned and put
on his tunic.
“How do we get to the
office without falling over-
board?” he asked.
“I’ll come and show you,
fluker,” said Horne.
The Rover - 13th Mar. 1971 - Page 26

We had a job to keep up
with him, for sailors seem
to fly up their vertical
ladders. The office was
under the bridge, and Com-
mander Frewing (Wings) was
alone except for a telegra-
“ Sit down, chaps,” said
the bronzed, beribboned
Commander affably. He
offered us cigarettes.
Braddock shook his head.
“No, thanks,” he said.
“Smoking is bad for the
Frewing slipped his cigar-
ette-case back into his
“You certainly sold the
Mosquito to Vice-Admiral
Parker,” he told us. “He's
demanded one for trials with
a carrier force in the Pacific
that he is shortly going to
“I could tell he was
impressed by it's range," said
“He’ll be coming to visit
us again, but this is the
point,” stated the Com-
mander, “ we shall provide
the crew and maintenance
party for the Mosquito. The
Admiralty have insisted,
quite rightly, I think, that a
British plane must have a
British crew to get the best
out of it.”
“ That’s sense,” said Brad-
“The crew have been
selected, and I want you to
brief them about the
Mosquito,” exclaimed Frew-
ing. “ Ah, here they come!"
The door opened and
Lieutenant Mitchener and
his navigator, Sub-Lieutenant
Gassell, walked into Flying

WITH Vice-Admiral
Parker and Commander
Watrous watching from the
bridge, Mitchener and
Gassell took off in the
Mosquito a couple of morn-
ings later. The Irish coast
was a faint line to port, but
the weather was closing in
rapidly and clouds piled up
to the west.
Braddock and I watched
from the lee of the island.
The Mosquito raced along
the deck and was airborne.
“It’ll be back to our own
mob for us tomorrow,” I
said. '
Braddock nodded. His gaze
followed the Mosquito, now
a dot in the sky.
“I would have liked to
have gone out to the
Pacific,” he said.
“ It would certainly be
warmer,” I replied with a

"That’s nothing to do with
it,” said Braddock. “We
want to give the Yanks a
proper demonstration of
what the Mosquito will do,
and that needs experience.
Nobody can pick it up in five
Mitchener , threw the
Mosquito about in a display
of aerobatics for a few
minutes and was then
called in. He made a good
enough landing, and then
visibility was reduced to no
more than a mile when a
sudden rain squall broke.
Mitchener and Gassell were
called to the bridge when
they left the Mosquito, no
doubt for a conference with
the Vice-Admiral.
After dinner I turned into
my berth for a read and a
snooze during the afternoon.
I was having forty winks
when I was disturbed by
“Show a leg there!" he

"exclaimed. "We’re flying!”
“Eh? Does the three-star
Admiral want another
demonstration?” I asked.
Braddock shook his head.
“ No, it’s just a test flight,”
he said. “The port engine
lost some of its revs when
Beardie Mitchener was
stooging about, and the
engineers have just asked me
to see if the trouble has been
When we took off there
was a glint of sunshine, but
it was a watery gleam and
horizontal visibility was no
more than three miles.
We roared away and the
carrier soon vanished in the
mist astern,
Braddock called the ship—
call-sign Collector--over the
radio telephone and got a
routine answer. We flew
under the clouds at about
2000 feet. Sunshine gave
way to another squall.
“Engine okay?” I asked.
“Yes, first class,” said
Braddock. “We’ll home on
the carrier now.”
He pressed the button on
the radio box to transmit.
“ Collector, Collector, this

is F Fox,” he called. “ Are
you receiving me? Over!"
There was no answer. I
shot an inquiring look at
him. _
“ Has the set packed up?"
I asked. ‘
“No,” rapped Braddock.
“ Why have they gone off the
“ Seems queer,” I said.
“Maybe,” grunted Brad-
dock, “but the ship would
keep radio silence if there
was danger about."
The wing dipped as he
turned. We flew over the
sullen sea.
Braddock looked/down and
I followed his gaze. He
pushed the stick forward.
Only when he told me what
to look for did I see a trail
of foam.
“Our blokes will still be
listening!” he exclaimed and
pressed the button. “ Collec-
tor, Collector, I have sighted

the periscope of an un-
identified submarine. I’m
going to orbit now. Over!”
Within seconds we got an
“Fox, Fox, try to keep
contact with submarine.
“I am still in touch,”
Braddock rapped back.
We cast round in circles
and watched the feather of
foam made by the periscope.
With skilful use of cloud
cover, Braddock took care
not to be spotted by the
While he was watching
the submarine’s periscope, I
saw a rakish grey shape
with a tremendous bow Wave
streaking out of the mist.”
“ Destroyer, Brad,” I
shouted, “I think it’s the
Active!” '
Braddock glanced towards
the racing ship.
“We’ll lead ’em to it,” he
rapped out.
He shoved the stick for-
ward and we dived. My eyes
searched for the feather of
foam, but it had gone.
“The sub’s ducked," I

yelled. “ Must have crash-
Braddock yanked us out of
the dive at no more than a
hundred feet, and then
tipped us into the tightest of
turns. ~
I saw the depth-charges fly
in an arc from the Active's
stern, saw the splashes as
they plunged into the sea,
and waited a breathless
The sea erupted in colossal
foaming fountains, and while
we were still turning, Brad-
dock uttered a shout of
“It’s been blown to the
top,” he exclaimed. “There’s
the U-boat! It’ll sink no more
of our shipsl”
Ten minutes afterwards,
the arrester wire dragged us
to a stop on the flight deck
of the Royal Ark. It was, of
course, because the ship’s
Asdic apparatus had detected
the presence of the U-boat
that wireless silence had
been kept. .
I looked up at the island
and saw the Vice-Admiral on
the compass platform with
Captain Shepperton. He
pointed down, and later I
was told what he said.
“That’s the crew I want,
Captain,” he snapped.
“ But, sir, they don’t
belong to the Navy,” pro-
tested Shepperton.
“I’m not asking for
sailors,” " rapped Parker. "I
want fliers, and these are
the boys I want to fly my
Early next evening Brad-
dock walked into the
C.P.O.’s mess.
“ Here’s the fluker,” jeered
“I’ll have a game with
you in a minute, Harry,”
said Braddock, “but George
and I are going to fly with
the Yanks, so how would
you like to come out to the
Pacific as chief of our
maintenance crew?”
Home glared at him.
“You can keep the
Pacific,” he snapped.
Braddock smiled.
“Then it seems I’ll have
to apologise, Harry, for I
asked for you, and your post-
ing is through,” he stated.
Horne leapt to his feet.
“What?” he spluttered.
“Do you expect me”—he
thumped his chest and
glared balefully at Braddock
-—“ to keep your matchbox
Mosquito flying?”
"_ Yes,” Braddock retorted.
“ You’re just the man.”

NEXT WEEK--Braddock finds
himself with a dying engine
and an aircraft carrier that
doesn't want him to land.



The Rover from 12th Jan 1957 for 17 (or 18) issues

The Rover from 30th Oct 1971 for 17 (or 18) issues

Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories



The Rover - 30th Oct 1971 - Page 22

ON an autumn morning in 1938 three
men were working at the top of
the new factory chimney at Billingham
& Company’s works in Midhampton.
The chimney, which was intended to
carry away chemical fumes, soared to
a height of 350 feet and there were
many local arguments as to whether or
not it was the tallest in the country.
There were two ways of reaching the
platform inside the chimney top.
The first was a ladder fixed in
sections to the interior brickwork.
The other was a hoist, worked by a
donkey-engine on the ground, turning
a drum on which a cable was wound.
The cable ran up inside the chimney
and passed over a pulley attached to a
tripod above the hole in the staging.
The steeplejacks always rode up and
down on the cable. It took a quarter of
an hour to climb the ladder.
The “topmen,” as those who work
on top of a chimney are called, were
going. to tar the inside of the stack
and were making their preparations
when the foreman, Jack Foster,
observed the ladder give a shake.
He looked through the hole. The
chimney was as dark as a tunnel but,
dimly silhouetted against the light
shining in at the bottom, he saw a
figure coming up the ladder.
“Hey, Cecil, somebody’s on the
ladder,” he said to his son.
Cecil, a lanky fellow of about 25,
looked down.
You’re right, Dad,” he exclaimed.
"Who can it be?”
Tom Yarnold, the other topman. also
took a look.
The ladder had an inward slant
because the chimney tapered from a
diameter of 25 feet at the bottom to
16 feet at the top.
“He’s coming up nice and steady,”
Yarnold said. “I can't think who it is,
As the unknown climber neared the
top, they could hear his quick

Cecil pulled away a plank at the
side so that their visitor could get on
to the platform.
The face of a complete stranger
It was that of a young man of robust
physique, though he had the hollow
cheeks of someone who was not getting
enough to eat.
There were also signs of malnutrition
in the pouches beneath his unusually
large and luminous eyes. He wore a
tattered pair of overalls.
He scrambled, breathing hard, from
the ladder to the platform and started
to rub his calves.
“It finds your muscles out, doesn’t
it?” he said.
Jack Foster stared at him hard.
“Who the dickens are you?” he
“Braddock,” replied the stranger.
“ Matt Braddock.”
“What d’you want? What are you
doing up here?” Foster demanded.
“I need a job,” said Braddock. “I
was looking through the paper at the
free library this morning and I saw
your advertisement for a steeplejack.”
“Oh, did you?” grunted Foster.
“ What experience have you had?”
“ None,” said Braddock, “but heights
don’t worry me. l’ll show you!”
The platform was fixed about a yard
below the chimney top and the coping
was 18 inches wide.
Before a hand could be stretched
out to stop him, Braddock got on to
the coping and stood up. People on the
ground below looked like ants.
Followed by the startled and appre-
hensive glances of the steeplejacks,
Braddock walked steadily round the
chimney top.
He completed the circle, with none
of them daring to make a grab for him,
before lowering himself on to the
“You’re daft, that’s what you are,”
shouted Yarnold.
“No, I'm not daft. I just need a
job,” said Braddock. “1’ve worked in
general engineering, l’ve done some
bricklaying in my time and I can drive
a lorry.”
Jack Foster was impressed by
At that time there was a consider-
able amount of unemployment and for
most jobs that were going in Mid-
hampton there was a score of appli-
cants, but this was the only reply to
his advertisement for a steeplejack.
“Where did you work last?" he
“I was at the aircraft factory,”
Braddock replied.
The factory could be seen from the
The Government, alarmed at last by
the rearmament of Germany under the
dictatorship of Adolf Hitler, had
financed the erection of seven large
factories in various parts of the
country for the manufacture of aero-
engines and planes.
“Why did you leave?” Foster
inquired. ,
“I didn’t hit it off with the charge-
hand,“ said Braddock.
Page 23

“ If you don’t hit it off
with me you’ll mighty soon
get the sack,” rapped Foster.
A grin spread across
Braddock’s face.
“It sounds as if I’ve got
the job,” he exclaimed.
“l’ll give you a trial,”
Foster said. “You can have
four pounds a week till l see
how you shape.”
“I’ll take it,” replied

IT was a week later that
Braddock drove the
Fosters’ two-ton lorry
towards the factory.
He had been to their yard
to fetch a new half-inch rope
and some other materials.
The lorry wasn’t one of
the latest and, the first time
he had. driven it, he had
found that the engine pulled
like a sick sheep and that
the brakes were poor.
It was characteristic of
Braddock that any machine
he handled had to be right,
and he had put in several
evenings and the Saturday
afternoon in getting it into
After a slow drive through
the narrow streets in the
middle of the city, he turned

into the wide, straight
Walsall Road.
It had tram tracks down
the middle and it was flanked
by terraces of small houses,
warehouses, and factories.
Braddock cast a glance up
a side road and saw a green
van standing there. Then he
looked into his driving
He scowled when he
observed the green van turn-
ing out after him.
“Cops,” he muttered.
At that time, in an attempt
to ensure safety on the
roads, two police officers
prowled the streets of Mid-
hanipton in a tradesman’s
van, ready to pounce on any
vehicle breaking the law.
Braddock watched his
speedometer and kept
moving at 28 miles an hour.
He could no longer see the
van in the mirror and he
knew it was close behind;
shadowing him until he
broke the 30 miles an hour
speed limit.
A tram ahead of him was
approaching a stop. Two
cyclists veered across the
There was plenty to
watch, but he did not miss
seeing a ball that came skip-

ping out of a passage and
into the road.
He gave a quick hand
signal for stopping and
stamped on his foot brake.
The lorry stopped in its
own length and, simul-
taneously, there was a crash
behind it.
A small boy raced out of
the passage and ran into the
road after the ball.
Braddock’s eyes gleamed
angrily as he jumped out and
strode back. The crumpled
radiator of the van was
wedged under his tailboard.
Two furious faces
glared at him. Both P.C.
Stoker, the driver, and
Sergeant Sturge were in
plain clothes.
“What were you playing
at?” snarled Braddock.
“ Didn’t you see my signal?”
“ You never gave a signal,”
spluttered Stoker.
“Oh, yes, I did,” retorted
Braddock, “ and you’d have
seen it if' you hadn’t been
following too close. We’ll
have a policeman in on this.”
Before Sturge or Stoker
could get in another word,
he stuck his fingers in his
mouth and whistled to
attract the attention of a
constable in uniform who
was walking along on the
opposite pavernent. A crowd

was assembling rapidly.
The two officers had red
faces. In a collision of that
nature the onus was on the
driver who was following.
Stoker should have been able
to stop.
“ This greengrocer has just
run into me,” Braddock
informed the uniformed
constable. “I made a sharp
stop because a kid’s ball
bounced into the road, and
he hit me. Maybe his brakes
need testing.”
The uniformed man un-
buttoned his breast pocket
and fetched out his note-
A quarter of hour later
when Braddock drove away,
he left the disgruntled cops
standing by their disabled
van waiting for a tow.
“I shall have to keep my
eyes skinned for bobbies,"
he muttered. “They’ll be
gunning for me now!"

THAT afternoon Braddock
spent tarring the inside
of the chimney from a
bosun’s chair slung from the
platform above.
It could be raised and
lowered by a pulley-chain.
When Jack Foster, the
foreman, called out that it
was nearly time to knock-off,
he drew himself up and
stepped on to the platform.
His old cap and overalls

Page 24

were black with tar, and his
face was spotted.
His head turned as he
heard the sound of an air-
craft engine. The plane that
was flying over Midhampton
at about 800 feet was a small
biplane with a radial engine.
It was painted red. -
“We often see him buzz-
ing about,” remarked Cecil
Foster. -
“It’s an Avro Tutor,”
Braddock said. “ It belongs
to the Flying Club.”
He watched the machine
keenly. Then he surprised his
. “I'm going to take up fly-
ing,” he remarked.
Cecil guffawed.
“What’s put that idea into
your head?” he asked.
Braddock made a strange
“There are two “reasons,”
he said. “I belong up there.”
“What’s your second
reason, Matt?” Jack Foster
“There’ll be war inside
twelve months,” said Brad-dock.
“Garn, there’ll be no war,"
scotfed Cecil. “ Hitler is too
smart to risk it.”
“I tell you he’ll overstep
the mark and then there’ll be
war,” retorted Braddock
grimly. “I'm sure of it!”
The plane came round
again. Cecil looked up at it
and grimaced.
“You wouldn’t catch me
in one of them things,” he
said. “ They ain’t safe.”
“Hey, Matt, how are you
going to set about this" fly-
ing you want to do?” Tom
Yarnold asked,
.“ I'm going to. have a
shot at joining the R.A.F.
Volunteer Reserve,” Brad-
dock replied. " ’
“I’ve made some in-
uiries, and chaps who are
accepted as likely pilots get
their training at the local
flying schools, I’m going
along to the Town Centre
tonight.” '
He moved towards the
cable as it dangled over the
pulley, and inserted a foot
in a link of a chain that
hung from the hook. He
held the hook with his
hands. .
Foster jerked the bell-wire
as a signal to the man down
below who was in charge of

The drum turned as he re-
leased the brake.
As Braddock felt the cable
slacken, he pushed himself
off the platform and was
lowered through the hole.
As soon as he was clear he
rested his disengaged leg
over the other knee. -
That was the riding posi-
tion ernployed by the steeple-
The hook was on a swivel,
and as Braddock went down
he spun like a top.
It had been a bewildering
experience the first time, but
he soon became used to
dropping and spinning
. His trip down the inside of
the chimney took about a
minute. He swung to the
ground and walked into the
open without any feeling of
Braddock .had put his
motor cycle back on the road
when he got work again.
Before he had obtained
this job he could not have
spared one and eight pence
for a gallon of petrol.
He had made the machine
himself from second-hand
parts he had obtained for a
few pounds.
Braddock rode to a tiny
house in Canal Road, where
he boarded with Mr and_Mrs
Givens, both of whom
received the old-age pension.
At about seven o’clock,
smelling slightly of paraffin
with which he had removed
the tar, he set out to walk
the half-mile to the Town
Centre, to the headquarters
of the R.A.F. Volunteer
,He had read that the
Reserve was open to men in
civil lifewho were prepared
to devote part of their leisure
time to being, trained as
The flying training, as he
had told the topmen, was
given at the local schools.
Candidates attended the
Town Centre on two nights a
Week for instruction in
gunnery, navigation, bomb-
ing, photography, and air-
craft maintenance.
The door was open and he
walked into the vestibule.
Nobody seemed to be
about and, after waiting
several minutes, he went on
into a hall. “
One wall was covered with
diagrams of different types
of aircraft - British, French,
German, and Italian. Fixed
to the opposite wall were
long blackboards.
At the side of each black-
board names. were firmly
chalked, A. F. G. Carrington,
K. L. Garland, F. T. Webb-
Foster. and so on.
.Againsteach name was a
long row of squares. Some
were filled in with blue
chalk, some with red, and
others remained blank.
Braddock was puzzled till
he noticed the key. Each
square represented an hour’s
flying, .
When a square was filled
with blue it indicated that a
pupil had completed an
hour’s solo flying. Red
represented dual instruction.
“That A. F. G. Carrington
must be a twerp,” muttered
Braddock as he counted the
red squares. “He’s had
twelve hours dual and hasn’t
gone solo yet.”
He turned and studied the
diagrams on the other wall.
While he was studying
them Flight Lieutenant But-
leigh, the adjutant, entered
the hall.
He was Wearing an expen-
sive pair of buckskin shoes
which went well with his
flannels and blue blazer. He
had an R.A.F. scarf round his
He was on the way to
his office to change into
uniform and looked in
surprised inquiry at
The latter pointed to a
diagram of a Junkers Ju 52,
a three-engined, low-winged
“Your picture isn't right,
mister,” he said. “ The tail
isn’t set high enough! I don’t
think much of your picture
of the Macchi, neither!” He
stabbed a finger at a
silhouette of the “Italian
fighter. “ The wingtips aren’t
round enough.”
Flight-Lieutenant Butleigh
blinked at him.
“These premises are
private,”. he exclaimed.
“ What are you doing here?”
“I’ve come to join the
Volunteer Reserve,” said
Braddock. “No one was
about, so I walked in.”
“We don't take
mechanics,” replied Butleigh
“ Our business is to train
“That’s what I’m here
for,” retorted Braddock. “If
I don't go solo quicker than
A. F. G. Carrington ” - he
made a gesture towards the
blackboard - “ you can give
me the sack.”
Butleigh coughed sharply.
“Come along to my
office,” he said. “ I’ll" spare
you a couple of minutes.”
“Thank you very much,”
growled Braddock.
Butleigh took him upstairs
to’ his office.
On the wall was a poster
inviting young men to join
the Volunteer Reserve.
"What’s your name??’ the
adjutant asked as he sat
down and picked up a pencil.
.“ Occupation?”
“I’m a steeplejack,” said
“How frightfully interest-
ing,”, remarked Butleigh.
“Where did you go to
“I went to an elementary
school near Walsall,” Brad-
dock answered.
“I’m afraid that wouldn’t
measure up to the required
educational standard,” said
Butleigh smugly. “Candi-
dates must have received an
education up to the standard
required for the Oxford and
Cambridge school certifi-
Braddock scowled.
“Isn’t there a way round
it?” he demanded.
“No,” replied Butleigh
flatly. “I - ahum - appreciate
your patriotic motives in
offering your services, and
my advice is for you to have
a shot at joining a squadron
of the Auxiliary Air Force
as a ground crewman.”
“I told you I want to fly,”
Butleigh shrugged.
Braddock interrupted_ gruffly.
"Then you should join a
flying club or take lessons,”
he said. “ But you’ll find. it
an expensive business. Every
hour in the air will cost you
two to three pounds and,
even if you were an apt
pupil, you’d need twelve or
fifteen hours before you
could take your ‘A’
Braddock knew that the
“A” Licence was the private
pilot’s licence. ‘
Without it a pilot might
not fly more than three miles
from his aerodrome.
Voices echoed in the hall
downstairs. .
"I'm afraid I can't spare
you anymore time,” ex-
claimed Butleigh. “Let me
repeat my advice to you to
enlist as a ground-crewman.
There, are usually excellent
club facilities——”
“You can stick the club
facilities down your neck-
hole,” roared Braddock. “ I’rn
going to fly.”

IT was on the following
Saturday morning that
Braddock walked out of the
police court after giving
evidence against P.C. Stoker.
On a summons for careless
driving, Stoker had been
fined £5 and ordered to pay
the costs.
The chief constable, Major
Brackett, who was in court,
appeared to be extremely
The reporters were the

Page 25

reverse of annoyed! The
green van was notorious.
Braddock had provided
them with a story that all
the newspapers would
splash. .
Braddock got on his motor
cycle and rode out to the
Midhampton Civic Aero-
drome for his first flying
He would not have the
motor cycle much longer.
He hoped to sell it for ten
or twelve pounds to help
pay for his lessons.
The aerodrome was not as
imposing as its name.
It was a grass field with a
factory hangar on one side
and a hangar and clubhouse
belonging to the Flying club
on the other.
Braddock could not afford
to join the Flying club, which
entailed paying a subscrip-
tion of £5 a year. He was
paying £2 15s for each
lesson, which included the
hire of the club’s trainer
plane and the instructor’s
He rode along a tarmac
path to the club premises.
He saw that the red Avro
Tutor was standing nearby.
A mechanic was taking in
some slack in the rudder
wires, watched by the
instructor, Leonard Robin-

The latter, a leathery-faced
man of about 40, was a
civilian ?

flyer and had never
served in the R.A.F.
For some years he had
been a bush pilot in
Canada. He had also been a
member of a ?

flying circus.
The Tutor had two open
cockpits in tandem and the
pupil sat in the back one. It
was, of course, dual-con-
Braddock had an excited
gleam in his eyes as he dis-
mounted. It was the day he
had been waiting for, the day
when he would first feel a
plane under his. hands.
Deep in him was the feel-
ing that he belonged up
there, that he was born to
At their first meeting,
when the lessons had been
arranged, Robinson had been
surprised by Braddock’s
knowledge of the lay-out of
the controls and instruments.
Braddock had told him he
had picked it up by reading
every book and magazine
about flying on which he
could lay his hands and by
watching and looking at air-
craft at every opportunity.
“Put your helmet on and
We’ll get cracking,” remarked
the instructor briskly.
“ When I have a new pupil I

fly him round for a start, so
just sit back and take it
“ No!” rapped Braddock.
“Let’s get on with it! I’ve
come for a lesson, not for a
joy-ride.” Robinson gave him
a surprised look.
“All right, have it your
own way,” he said. “This
will be the drill. I shall take
off and climb to 1500 feet.
Then I shall level out and I
shall want you to take
special notice of the position
of the nose in relation to the
skyline. It's a position that
has to be memorised.”
" Right,” grunted Brad-
“I shall then keep control
of the rudder while you have
the control-stick,” stated
Robinson. “You’ll feel the
effect of moving it fore and
aft and then from left to
right, Then we shall change
over, I shall use the stick
while you get the feel of
the rudder. Finally you’ll try
both controls together and
fly the machine straight and
“Right,” exclaimed Brad-
dock eagerly. “Let’s get a
move on.”
He put on a flying helmet
for the first time and climbed
into his cockpit.
Robinson watched while he
fastened his safety belt. The
mechanic waited to swing
the propeller.
“Will you try the
controls?” Robinson ex-
claimed. “You’ll find they
are very light. When you’re
flying, of course, they won’t
respond so freely because of
the pressure against the
control surfaces.”
“ Right! You can start the
engine,” said the instructor,
after Braddock had tried the
stick and rudder. “Switch
on and then just enough
throttle to keep it ticking
over. ’
Braddock pushed down the
“Contact!” he shouted.
“Contact,” echoed the
He swung the propeller.
The engine spluttered and
fired. Braddock held it to
an easy tick-over and Robin-
son moved forward to climb
into his seat.
With a tremendous roar
the engine accelerated and
the propeller became a blur.
The mechanic, who was
stooping to remove the
chocks, hurled himself flat as
the plane moved violently,
and Robinson also threw him-
self to the ground to avoid
being struck by the tail-
Page 26

The blast flattened the
grass so that it resembled a
wake astern of the rapidly-
moving aircraft.
Braddock shut the throttle
at the instant the engine
began to race. But it had no
effect, and he knew it had
sprung and then jammed.
He at once closed the
switches, but the engine
roared away, and the plane
raced across the drome
towards the factory hangar.
A new Whitley bomber
stood on the tarmac out-side
the lofty hangar, and ground
mechanics scattered as they
saw the Avro Tutor racing
towards them.
Braddock was not in a
flurry. He recovered in a
moment from the surprise of
having the plane run away
with him.
He knew that the first
thing to do was to bring
the tail up. He nudged the
control stick forward. Too
much! The nose dipped.
He was quick enough to
correct what would have
been a fatal movement had
the propeller dug into the
He felt the wildly career-
ing machine start to skid to
the left.
A steady pressure of his
foot on the right rudder
corrected it.
He had the quick wits to
move the tail trimmer lever
to compensate for the lack
of weight forward.
Members of the flying club
were rushing out of the club-
Robinson was shouting
that the crazy fool had gone
off on his own.
Braddock judged that he
had plenty of “revs” for
climbing and drew the stick
back between his legs.
The pounding of the
wheels on the ground
stopped. The motion became
The shadow of the plane
swept across the tarmac.
He used a bit more stick,
and the Tutor cleared the
Whitley and zoomed over
the hangar roof.
The sweating onlookers

watched the plane climbing
Robinson groaned that it
was due to stall at any
Braddock worked this out
for himself, but was fraction-
ally late in getting his
The left Wing dropped and
the plane seemed to sink
under him.
He was not the only one to
have a sinking sensation.
The spectators watched in
horror and, with clanging
bell, the fire-engine was
driven across the drome
towards a gateway.
A stall and spin were
about the worst combination
an unskilled pilot could
The tail lifted and the
plane whirled round and
round. The earth spun before
Braddockis gaze.
Braddock muttered. “ How
do I get out of this?” It was
instinct that supplied the
Because it was a left-hand
spin he used hard right
rudder and simultaneously
pushed the stick a little for-
The madly-spinning earth
slowed down in Braddock’s
The creaking aircraft came
out of the spin. He centred
the controls and the plane
dived smoothly.
He eased the stick back
and the nose of the
machine lifted and pointed
towards the sky.
Braddock, climbing less
steeply, regained 1000 feet
and levelled out.
He had decided that all he
could do was to “stay up-
stairs” till the petrol had
been used up. He meant to
stay within view of the
He started to bank for a
turn, overdid it, and began
to sideslip, corrected it, and
was in level flight again.
“Whew, I thought it was
going out of control,” Robin-
son said hoarsely. “He’s
making a beginner’s
mistakes and then finding the
Mr Neville Howard, the
chairman of the club, a
former Wing-Commander in
the R.A.F., and now a direc-
tor of the Midhampton Air-
craft Manufacturing Com-
pany, came striding out of
the clubhouse.
He was getting portly,
and his full moustache had
a grey tinge. He wore the
R.A.F. tie.
“I have been on to the
police,” he announced in a
full and somewhat fruity
voice. “A car is on its way.”
“The cops are less likely
to be needed than an
ambulance,” answered Robin-
son. “I't’s ten to one that
he’ll write himself off on
Howard thumped his fists
“Yes, and he’ll write off
our plane as well,” he ex-
claimed. “ I don't know how
you let him get away with
Robinson shrugged.
“He gave no hint of what
he was going to do,” he-_ said.
“He seemed a solid sort of
chap to me.”
Braddock had described
his fifteenth circuit when the
police car raced into the
It was driven by P.C.
Stoker, and he was accom-
panied by Sergeant Sturge.
This time they were in
“What’s the name of the
culprit, sir?” the sergeant
“ Braddock,” s n a p p e d
Neville Howard. “I believe
he’s a steeplejack.”
The police officers ex-
changed gleeful glances.
They came near to licking
their lips.
The engine banged and cut
out on Braddock when he
was flying over the east side
of the aerodrome. ‘
The breeze was from the
north-west and he instantly
turned into it.
He realised that he had
surplus height to lose if he
were to put the plane down
in the field and he came
down in fast S-turns.
The fire engine moved out
and the police car, with
Robinson and Howard as
extra passengers, followed it.
The ground hurtled up at
Braddock. He stopped turn-
ing and put the plane into a
glide. In a flash, as he felt a
dangerous flutter, he knew
he was approaching stalling
He gave the stick another
nudge. The nose dropped and
the stalling tendency ended.
He kept the glide going till
he was about twenty feet
from the ground.
No one had told him that
was the correct height. It
was a hunch he had.
He eased the stick back as
the plane dropped and by the
time it finally stalled, the
wheels were.only inches off
the ground.
It landed with hardly a
jolt and he kept it straight
with hard use of the rudder
till it stopped.
Braddock drew a deep
breath. He yanked off his
helmet and brushed the back
of his hand across his fore-
He grinned as he Watched
the approach of the fire
“They must have thought
I was going to bend their
aeroplane," he murmured.
The police car swerved out
from behind the fire engine
and skidded to a stop.
Braddock raised his eye-
brows as he saw the familiar
faces of the police officers.
“Come on, out of it,”
snarled the sergeant.
Braddock’s eyes became
“Don’t talk to me like
that,” he said.
Stoker clamped a hand
down on his shoulder to pull
him out of the cockpit.
Braddock pressed his open
hand over the constable’s
face and shoved.
Stoker’s helmet fell off as
he tottered backwards before
sitting down on the wet
“ I’ll have you for assault-
ing a police officer in the
execution of his duty,”.
bawled the sergeant.
“ He touched me first!
What’s all the fuss about,
“Fuss?” screeched Neville
Howard. “ You take our
plane away for a joyride
and ask what the fuss is
“ You’re talking out of the
back of your neck,” roared
Braddock. “The plane took
rne away! Look for yourself!
The throttle jammed and I
reckon sticking contacts
prevented me from switch-
ing off!”
With Robinson also
making an inspection,
Braddock searched for the
faults and quickly found
The throttle-wire had
stretched to a thread and
‘then knotted so that move-
ment was impossible. His
theory about the sticking
contacts was correct.
The two officers cast sullen
looks at Braddock as they
made off. Since he had his
back turned he did not notice
“Shouldn’t I get my ‘A’
certificate?” he asked Robin-
son, his eyes twinkling.
“By George, I reckon you
earned it,” exclaimed the
instructor. “ It was an in-
credible piece of flying.”
“I dunno, there isn’t much
to it so long as you you keep
your wits about you,” replied

* Braddock demonstrates his
flying skill NEXT WEEK when
he averts a mid-air disaster
with a brilliant piece of



The Rover from 11th May 1957 for 23 (or 22?) issues - last week of BORN TO FLY (see above)

The Rover from 26th Feb 1972 for 23 (or 22?) issues - first week of BRADDOCK OF THE BOMBERS



Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories


The Rover - 26th Feb 1972 - Page 18
ON a sumner’s day in 1939 Matt
Braddock, a steeplejack, was work-
ing six hundred feet from the ground
on a mast at a wireless station in the
A wire cable moved and the ‘mast
swayed a little as the lift started to
rise. He knew that Jack Foster, the
foreman, was coming back up.
The cage, which travelled up and
down inside the mast, came to a stop
and Foster stepped out on to the
narrow platform.
“Here's a letter for you, Brad,” he
said. “Cecil brought it in the lorry.”
Braddock, feet against a girder, a
safety-belt round his middle, opened
the letter and read it through. He
pushed it into a pocket. .
“I'm going, Jack,” he said. ’
"Eh? Where are you off to?" asked
“ The war,” said Braddock.
Foster blinked.
“ Has it started?" he exclaimed, as
if he thought Braddock had heard
distant gunfire.
“No, but it’ll come any day now,”
rapped ‘ Braddock.
“You can’t walk off the job,“
roared Foster. " I'm entitled to a week’s
“There isn’t time to work it out,
Jack," retorted Braddock. “Keep my
last lot of Wages instead.”
The foreman was flabbergasted. He
was among the majority of people who
hoped against hope that war would be
Adolf Hitler, the German dictator,
was threatening Poland, to whom
Britain and France had given a
guarantee of assistance, but the
average man thought that a solution
would be found.
“So long,” Braddock added. “ You
and me have got on well."
Foster, still bemused,lifted a hand
Braddock gave it a shake, stepped
into the cage, and jerked the signal
Braddock was not a man. of many
Words ........
The lift moved slowly and Braddock
took out his letter to read it again.
It came from Wing-Commander
Scott, of the Air Ministry.
They had met While the steeplejacks
were working at two radio-location
The Wingco knew Braddock’s flying
Braddock had been a pilot in the
Auxiliary Air Force until a day when
the German Graf Zeppelin approached
the east coast on what was un-
doubtedly a spying mission.
Braddock, flying a Hawker Demon,
had fired a burst of tracer across its
nose, whereupon the Germans had
retreated in haste.
The incident had caused a colossal
rumpus and Braddock had left the
A.A.F. before he could be pushed out.
He had reason to know that,
although his action was officially
deplored, it was secretly applauded by
officers who were working sixteen and
seventeen hours a day, and seven days
a week, to improve Britain's defences.
One of these officers was Wing-
Cornmander Scott, and he had
“Dear Braddock,—The war is
on top of_us.
Go at once to the R.A.F. camp at
Bargate and join the Service.
Show this letter to Squadron-
Leader Rhodes. He will push you
through to an operational
In great haste, .
- Best of 1uck,- ‘
W. R. T. Scott.”
“He's one of the best,” muttered
Braddock. “ He said he wouldn’t forget
me and he’s kept his word!’
Braddock reflected that it was a good
thing for the country that there were
plenty of top-notchers like the Wingco
on the R.A.F. staff.
In his opinion they made up for some
of the other sort, the spit-and-polish
type he had bumped up against
occasionally while in the A.A.F. -
The cage gave a jott and stopped.
It was fifty or sixty feet from the
It had a habit of sticking and on
the last occasion it had taken half an
hour to get it going again.
Braddock edged out of the cage on
to the lattice-work and descended
outstilde the mast. "
He was watched indignantly by Mr
Saslter, an official of the G.P.O., who
managed the station.
“Come here, my man,” snapped Mr
Salter, peering at Braddock from be-
neath the brim of his bowler hat,
Braddock turned his back on him
and strode away towards the hut at
the slide of which he had pairked his
motor cycle.
Mr Salter bustled after him.
-"‘ You broke the safety regulations!”
he exclaimed “I shall have to report
you ----
“You can go to blazes,” said
Braddock. “I’m off to the war.”
“Don’t be ridiculous” spluttered
Mr Salter.
If you haven’t built your air raid
shelter, see to it,” advised Braddock,
and stepped into the hut to get his
goggles and coat.

The Rover - 26th Feb 1972 - Page 19
A minute afterwards he
was astride the motor cycle,
a machine he had constructed
himself, and was riding away
from the station.
On his way north,
Braddock rode along the
Midhampton by-pass.
It was the city where he
lived, but he did not make
a detour to his digs to pick
up any of his belongings.
He went to war in his
working clothes.
In the middle of the after-
noon Braddock reached the
village of Bargate and
stopped outside the grocer’s

A YOUTH wearing an
apron that was white in
places was putting a box
of provisions into a cycle
“ Where’s the R.A.F.
camp?” inquired Braddock.
“ I dunno,” said the youth,
“but there are some huts
about half a mile up the
Just then a R.A.F. lorry,
coming from the railway
station, passed Braddock.

A dozen young men in
civies stood in the vehicle.
What was taking place was
that, although general
mobilisation had not yet
been ordered, the R.A.F. was
calling up it's reservists.
Braddock followed the
lorry to a large field along-
side the railway. A score of
huts had been erected and
others were going up.
There was a tarmac road
down the centre of the
camp, but the other paths
were no more than miry
Numerous vehicles, lorries
belonging to civilian con-
tractors, tradesmen’s vans,
and Service trucks, made
fresh ruts in the mud,
G.P.O. engineers were
stringing out wires. A rail-
way siding was being made.
Harassed n.c.o.s and airmen
were rushing about.
There were queues outside
many of the huts. An
awkward-looking squad in
new uniforms that fitted
where they touched was
marched along by a sergeant.
Braddock dismounted from
his bike and grinned at the
guard corporal.
“If you’ll tell me where
to find the canteen, I’ll sort
the rest out for myself,” he
“You’re the first who
hasn’t asked silly questions,”
grinned the corporal and
pointed to one of the huts.
“That’s the canteen, if
you’ll take a tip from me,
draw your bedding. There
won’t be enough blankets to
go round.

On the following day
Braddock was mustered
as an Aircraftman 2nd Class.

The producing of his letter
to a warrant officer did the
trick, and he was enlisted at
the camp instead of being
sent back to an enlistment
A warrant officer told
him that Squadron-Leader
Rhodes was the second-in-
He was very busy, and
Braddock was advised to get
kitted up and finish with
the Medical Officer before
trying to see him.
This appeared to be
sensible advice and, as a
result of standing in in-
numerable queues”— which
sorely tested his patience-—
Braddock acquired a pair of
boots that was half a size
too large, trousers that fitted
moderately well, a tunic that
had the constricting effect of
a straight-jacket when
buttoned, and two shirts.
One had a size fifteen collar
and the other was size six-
teen. Braddock’s size was
After Braddock had been
inoculated by a young
Medical Officer who used his
syringe as if it were a spear,
he decided to find Squadron-
Leader Rhodes.
It was his determination
to get to a squadron as soon
as possible and, if he had a
say in it, he knew which
This was a squadron of
Blenheim bombers com-
manded by Squadron-Leader
Braddock had flown with
him while at a camp with the
A.A.F. He knew the squadron
was stationed at Whitbeck.
As Braddock was sure that
official request to see the
Second-in-Command would
take a long time to
materialise, he did not bother
to put one in.
He went to the office and
knocked. As no one answered
he opened the door and
Squadron-Leader Rhodes
sat at a paper-littered desk,
with his collar unfastened
and his tie hanging loose.
He was grey-haired, and
had been fetched back from
retirement. At two trestle
tables, clerks were busy
punching typewriters.
Sergeant Scratchitt, who
had jumped in a fortnight
from the rank of leading-air-
craiftman intercepted
The Rover - 26th Feb 1972 - Page 20
“Who told you to come
in here?” he asked “Are
you on the list of appoint-
'“No,” said Braddock.
“ Then hop it,” snapped
“l’ve an Air Ministry
letter to show the Squadron-
Leader,” stated Braddock.
“It doesn’t matter if
you’ve a letter from Bucking-
ham Palace, you can’t come
in here without the proper
procedure being observed,”
said Scratchitt sneeringly.
The Squadron-Leader held
out a hand.
“Pass me the letter,” he
said. "
Braddock advanced, gave
his version of an R.A.F.
salute, and handed the letter
to Rhodes. »
The Squadron-Leader
glanced at it and nodded.
“I’ve had a memo about
you!” . he exclaimed “I’ll
initiate the necessary action
to get you posted.”
“Thank you, sir,” said
Braddock. “I hope I'm going
to Bomber Command.”
“Yes, Bomber Command
was stipulated on the memo,”
replied Rhodes, and groaned
as his phone buzzer sounded.
Braddock was well satis-
fied with the result of his
brief interview, and walked
towards the door. Scratchitt
glowered at him.
“ You’ve got away with it
this time, but don’t go taking
any more short cuts or
you’ll find yourself in hot
water,” he snarled.
“ Go and jump in the lake,”
advised Braddock on his way
The sun was shining now
and steam was starting to
rise from the mud.
Braddock unfastened his
tunic and collar since he was
Wearing the fifteen size shirt.
On rounding a corner he
met a moustache that stuck
upwards and was Waxed into
sharp points. it was on the
lip of Flight Sergeant
“D’you think you're going
to watch a cricket match?”
he demanded. Fasten those
Braddock said nothing. He
fastened the buttons.
“ Put your hat on straight,”
barked Batteridge. ‘
Braddock gave his cap a
push. Batteridge, after
another severe glance,
marched around the corner of
the hut.
The moment he had passed
out of sight Braddock un-
buttoned his tuniciand shirt.
He was just strolling on
when the moustache
Batteridge had dodged
round the hut in order to
meet him again.
“Got you!” he snapped.
"I knew what you were
going to do."
“I can see you winning
the first medal of the war,”
growled Braddock. '
The flight-sergeants
mostache quivered.
- ‘-‘You’re in the R.A.F.
now,” he began. ~
"I never thought it was
the fire brigade,” said
Braddock. -
“ We know how to handle
smart guys,” shouted
Batteridge. _
“ Tell me something,” said
Braddock. “ I’m dead serious!
Why d’you bother about
chasing a fellow for un-
buttoning his tunic on a
sweltering hot day when if
ever a place wanted organis-
ing it's this camp?”
“ I’rn not arguing,” snarled
Batteridge, “and you can
help with the organising by
reporting to Corporal Tagg.”
His complacent air showed
that he had thought of some-
thing to flatten Braddock.
A ten-ton coal wagon was
standing on the railway
siding, and Corporal Tagg’s
fatigue party, consisting of
defaulters, had the task of
unloading it into a lorry and
taking it to a dump on the
other side of the camp.
“I’d sooner hump coal
than hang about,” muttered
Braddock when he discovered
the nature of the fatigue.
“lt is doing something
Stripped to the waist, he
heaved coal from the wagon
to the lorry.
It was his first contribution
to the war effort on becoming
a Regular.

BRADDOCK heard nothing
more about a posting
for two days, during which
time he trod on the toes of
other n.c.o.s and humped
more coal, assisted to unload
stores, and did some paint-
On the third day the
alarming news was broad-
cast that Germany had
negotiated a pact with
' In effect,‘ this made Hitler
feel safe to pursue his
aggressive tactics against
‘Braddock was painting a
"5 Miles Per Hour ” notice
near the gates when his name
Was called on the tannoy
which had just been brought
into operation. ~
He was ordered to report
to Hut 3.
This was the office where
men received their postings.

Braddock stuck the brush
into the paint and strode
In Hut 3 he found
Sergeant Scratchitt sitting
behind a trestle table. -
“Your posting has come
through,” rapped the
sergeant. “ You will report
to Thirty~Four Group Head~
quarters at Watboro’ Aero-
“Okay!” replied Braddock.
“ You needn’t make me out a
railway warrant. I’ll go on
my motor bike.”
“You can please yourself
how you go,” retorted
Five minutes later Brad-
dock rode his motor cycle
towards the exit.
Flight-Sergeant Batteridge
had just discovered the
abandoned paint tin. Then he
saw Braddock.
“ Come back here,” he
Braddock responded with a
couple of toots on the hooter
and then roared away.
He was somewhat
surprised at being directed
to go to Watboro’. He knew
the drome from his civil
flying days and it was just
a small grass field.
It was his guess that the
buildings had been taken
over as headquarters for a
bomber group.
Bradock covered the next
fifty miles in five minutes
over the hour and
approached Watboro’.
It was a manufacturing
town and the sky was smoky.
He turned along the road
that led to the aerodrome.
As he looked over the
fence he saw that numerous
lorries, each equipped with
a winch. were parked in the
field. ‘
Braddock reached the gate-
way and pulled up. “H.Q.
No. 34 Group," was painted
on a noticeboard.
The guard corporal walked
up to him.
“ What’s going‘ on here?’
Braddock demanded.
“What’s it the headquarters
of?” ’
"Barrage balloons,” ex-
claimed the corporal. _
Braddock drew a deep
breath and pulled the motor
cycle round.
“ To blazes with the bar-
rage balloons,” he roared,
and accelerated fiercely
He did not dream of
returning to Bargate to try to
get the posting straightened
“I’m not being pushed
about any more,“ he
muttered. “ I'm off to Whit-
Late in the afternoon, at
the expense of another gallon
of petrol, he reached the
bomber station.
A Blenheim took off as he
was approaching the gate-
It was a Mark I, a short-
nosed, twin-engined aircraft
carrying a crew of three -
pilot, navigator-bomb-aimer,
and radio-operator-gunner.
Braddock’s gaze followed
“Me in the balloons?” he
growled. “They must he
crazy.” '
He decided that he would
write to Squadron-Leader
Rhodes and get his posting
Meanwhile, he would say
that his papers were follow-
ing him - which he expected
would happen.
That evening the Adjutant
went into Squadron-Leader
Crowther’s office. He carried
a. basket of papers.
“ You can put them on
the fire,” rapped Crowther,
a man with keen features
and penetrating eyes.
. “Wish I could, sir,” said
the Adjutant. “By the way,
there is an irregularity to be
cleared up. An airman named
Braddock has arrived here
without his documents.”
“Did you say Braddock?”
exclaimed Crowther. “To
blazes with his papers! Hang
on to him! I met the fellow
at an A.A.F. camp and, as a
bomb aimer, he’s uncanny!”

ON September 1 the
German Armies invaded
Poland. On September 3 the
Prime Minister, Mr Neville
Chamberlain, announced that
Great Britain was at War
with Germany.
Twenty-four hours' later
Squadron-Leader Crowther
faced his air crews in the
Braddock had achieved his

The Rover - 26th Feb 1972 - Page 21
purpose. Though officially an
AC2, he was going to fly
on the first "strike" of the
He was in the Squadron-
Leader’s own crew as
"German warships, in-
cluding a battleship, have
been reported in the Heligo-
land Bight and we’re going
after them," the Squadron-
Leader announced grimly.
"Unfortunately, the weather
has closed in so it will have
to be a low-level attack.
We're going to use five
hundred pound G.P.s with
eleven second delay fuses.”
A G.P. was a general pur-
pose bomb. Outside on the
drome, the armourers were
unloading the S.A.P. (semi
armour - piercing bombs)
from the Blenheims.
These could not be used in
low-level attacks.
Crowthers last words were
to the radio-operator
“If their fighters come
after us," he said, “don’t
shoot till you can see the
whites of their eyes.”
With that the crews dis-
persed to their planes.
Engines roared and one
by one ten Blenheims took
off, gained height, and
tumed towards the coast.
Braddock sat by
Crowther’s side in the cock-
pit. When the time came to
attack he would get down
into the “ bombing position ”
in front of his seat.
The cockpit had a trans-
parent sliding roof and gave
wide visibility.
The. aircraft carried two
machine-guns, One was
fixed and one was fired by
the pilot.
The rear gun was in a
retractable turret.
The aircraft was equipped
for dual control, but there
was no stick in the slot on
Braddock’s side, and a metal
flap folded down over the
rudder-bar and prevented his
feet from coming into
contact with it,
Over England the weather
was fair, but as the planes
crossed the coast they
approached clouds that
looked as solid as moun-
Crowther led the squadron
down to fly under cloud
base at no more than five
hundred feet.
Haze obscured the view
ahead. Visibility was
The Blenheims were well
strung out, and at times only
two or three could be seen.
Just under them was the
sullen sea.
Braddock used his pencil
and put another two-minute
tick on his map.
Rain slashed against the
plane as it struck a squall.
" We make our forty
degree tum in one minute,
sir,” he said over the inter-
communication phone,
Braddock, of course, had
passed his navigation oourse
with the A.A.F., but flying
over England and knowing
the theory was a different
thing to finding the way
through mist and rain.
At a word from the pilot,
Sergeant Ron Hammond, the
radio-operator, fired a flare
to signal the turn, and the
squadron swung on to the
new course towards the
Schillig Roads, where the
enemy had been reported.
There were times when the
Blenheims shredded their
way through banks of cloud
that seemed to touch the
It was a prolonged strain
on the pilots to fly so low in
such dirty weather. -
Crowther’s lips tightened,
a Sign that he was becoming
increasingly anxious.
Once or twice he glanced
sharply at Braddock as if
suspicious that his con-
fidence was just a pose.
Braddock glanced at the
instruments again.
He regarded the map
briefly. Then he looked
“We’re coming up to the
coast,” he said, and in the
same breath added, “vessels
For a moment the
Squadron-Leader could see
Then, out of the haze,
appeared the shapes of a tug
towing two lighters. ‘
Faces could be seen staring
up as the Blenheims roared
over the tug.
Crowther’s confidence
returned. The clouds were
lifting a bit. It was lighter.
He was able to take the
Blenheims up to 600 feet.
Braddock pointed down at
a buoy, another indication
that they were near the
He looked hard ahead.
For the first time there was
a rasp of excitement in his
“We’ve found them!” he
exclaimed.’ “Ships ahead!”

A LARGE merchant ship
lay at anchor, and
beyond it loomed the grim,
grey shape of the pocket
battleship, Admiral Scheer.
It was lying near the
coast, the low line of which
could be seen in the back-
ground. "
For a brief moment the
eyes of Crowther and Brad-
dock met.
There was elation in them.
They were fighting men who
had found their target.
The original plan, as out-
lined at the briefing, was for
the squadron to attack by
sections approaching from
different directions.
Braddock cast a glance
landwards and uttered a
warning exclamation.
“You’ll have to change
the plan, sir,” he rapped.
“ You can't turn overland.
Barrage balloons!”
Crowther peered up, and,
for the first time, saw the
dim shapes of the German
balloons forming a “ pin
cushion ” on the landward
side of the anchorage.
The Squadron-Leader used
his radio-telephone. Through

the whistles and howls of the
static he gave the order to
attack fore and aft and then
turn sharply to avoid the
As the Blenheims wheeled,
Braddock got out of his seat
and slid down into the
bomb-aimer’s position.
The Germans still had not
realised that the aircraft in
the vicinity were British,
and Braddock saw men
standing about casually on
the deck of the battleship.
Crowther opened the
bomb doors and straightened
out. The sea and the ships
leapt up as he put the Blen-
heim into shallow dive.
Only then did the Germans
appear to realise that the
aircraft were hostile and, as
he crouched gripping the
bomb-release, Braddock saw
a man rush along the deck
towards the guns.
A little more than mast-
head height, Crowther
roared in and felt the Blen-
heim give a leap as the two
500 lb. bombs dropped.
“Spot on," he snapped.
“We let her have it amid-
Crowther climbed and put
the Blenheim into a tight
Braddock had a glimpse of
smoke drifting up round the
ship and of another Blen-
heim swerving away.
Landward there were
flashes as ack-ack batteries
opened fire.
Braddock was about to
leave the bomb-aimer’s posi-
tion when he heard a muffled
explosion followed by a
tremendous bang.
A great blast of air swept
into the cockpit through the
shattered roof.
The nose of the Blenheim
jerked up and he saw that
Crowther had slumped right
back in his seat with his
head lolling.
As the aircraft swayed,
and seemed to be on the
point of stalling, Braddock
pulled himself into his seat.
He reached over, released
Crowther’s limp hands,
detached the control-stick
from the pilot’s side, and
thrust it into his slot. He
pushed up the flap and set
his feet on the rudder.
He was in control of the
plane with a dead or desper-
ately injured man at his side.



The Rover from 11th Apr 1959 for 28 issues



Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories


The Rover - 11th Apr 1959 - Page 11
AFTER calling in at the
Meteorological Office
at Brillford aerodrome to
get the latest weather
report, l walked across the
tarmac to look for my
pilot, Sergeant Matt Brad-
dock. l knew where I
should find him—over by
our aircraft.
lt was not that Braddock did
not have confidence in the
ground crew and armourers, for
in fact, he got on with them
splendidly, but when we were
marked up for an operational
flight, he made sure that every-
thing was right and just as he
wanted it.
I’m Sergeant George Bourne.
I’d flown as Braddock’s navi-
gator since the summer of I940
when the Germans had kicked
us off the Continent. Now it was
the late autumn of I944 and
the armies of Britain and
America were hammering at the
enerriy across the Channel.
Optimists declared that
Hitler, the German dictator,
was as good as licked, but it was
not the opinion held by those
at the heart of affairs.
It was certainly not the
view of the pilot wearing a grimy,
unbuttoned tunic who was
standing near a Mosquito Mark
XVI. It was a specially modified
machine, with an enlarged
fuselage in order to carry a big
bomb-load, and two 50-gallon
auxilary fuel tanks beneath
its wings.
Matt Braddock looked hard
at me. His eyes never failed to
amaze me. The pupils were
much bigger than those of a
person like myself with normal
eyesight, for his vision had an
exceptional range. Also, many
people held the opinion that he
could see in the dark.
Before the war, he had been
a mechanic in what was called
a Shadow Factory, making aero
engines, until he fell out with
the foreman. Then he had be-
come asteepleiack. During that
period he had learned to fly at
his own expense before getting
into an Auxilary Squadron.
When War broke out, he had
chosen to fly bombers. Fighters
were defensive, in his view.
Bombers could hit back. The
war would be won by the side
hitting the hardest. That was
his creed.
“ Where’s your navigation
bag ?” he snapped.
I smacked my heels together
and executed an about—turn
in parade ground style. This
was to let him see that the
navigation bag, containing the
maps and other documents
relating to the operation for
which we had just been briefed,
was hanging over my shoulder.
Braddock grinned.
“ It’s not the sort of thing to
leave lying around,” he re-
marked. '
Braddock was intensely
security minded. He believed
in the warning “ Walls have
ears !” His attitude went back
to the time when he had seen a
squadron almost wiped out
because of careless talk.
He turned to watch the
arrnourers. His grimy medal
ribbons hung by a few threads.
It was iust possible to see that
the. first was the ribbon of the
V.C. It had been awarded to
him for bringing a motor gun-
boat home from Norway after
most of its crew had been killed
in a fight with a German E-boat.
The armourers had run a
yellow trolley under the bomb
bay of the Mosquito. They were
getting ready to winch up the
colossal shape of a 4ooo lb bomb.
The Mosquito was the only
light bomber capable of operat-
ing with one of these vast
“ Blockbusters.”
It always seemed to me that
this marvellous aircraft, made
largely of balsa wood, plywood,
doped fabric, screws and glue,
was made for Braddock. '
‘With its two Merlin engines
our Mosquito, F Fox, could
fly 1400 miles with an economical
cruising speed of 300 m.p.h.
at 22,000 ft. On more engine
revs, though at the expense of
much heavier fuel consumption,
we could climb to 29,000 ft
Of course, with a smaller bomb
load, the plane could fly higher
Our Mosquito had another
feature. Under the fuselage,
forward of the bomb bay, there
was an inverted dome. This
meant that the plane was
equipped with the blind-bomb-
ing device called H2S. To
explain it simply, it was a
Radar Eye.
On a screen in the cockpit-—
like a television screen—a map
of the ground appeared. By
using H2S we did not have to
rely on the guiding methods in
which radio pulses, which
could be jammed by the enemy,
were employed.
Slowly and surely the
armourers raised the bomb.
Braddock watched until it was
secured, squatting on his
haunches to look up into the
A dapper offfcer with the
rank of flight lieutenant walked
towards us. His name was
Stinforth and he was the chief
Intelligence Offfcer at the
Braddock had a high gopinion
of many Intelligence Officers.
We should have been “ shooting
in the dark” without the
accurate briefings they gave us.
But he had not taken to Stin-
forth, though he seemed to
be effcient in every way.
' “ so that’s the big
cookie, he said in rather a
fruity voice.
Braddock raised his eyebrows
“ What’s a cookie ?” he asked.
Stinforth blinked.
“ Er, the bomb,” he
spluttered .
“ Then why not call it a
bomb?” growled Braddock.
“ Are‘ you coming, George ?
It’s’ time we had something to
We walked away. Braddock
very seldom made any use of
R.A.F. slang. He had a reason
for it. He believed it could be
confusing in an emergency.
We had quite a distance to
Walk to the mess. Brillford was
in the area of No. 8 Group,
Bomber Command, and was
situated in south-east Oxford-
Braddock halted abruptly. I
was half a pace astern and
bumped into him. He looked
over the hills. It was a clear day
and he pointed at a thin, hazy
smoke trail that, far away, was
soaring into the sky.
There's another of em,
George,” he said harshly.
“ A V-2 you mean?” I asked.
“ Yes,” rapped Braddock.
“ It’s been fired from Holland.”
“D’you think so ?” I said.
“ Should we see it from that
distance ?’
“ Certainly,” he snapped.
“ They’ve been seen from the
The trail soared into the blue
and we lost sight of it, but the
rocket was carrying a ton of
high explosive towards London.
It was a grim thought. .
Hitler’s first secret weapon
was the V-I, the flying bomb
nicknamed the “Doodlebug.”
That method of attack had
ended in September when the
advancing armies swept over
the launching sites near the
French coast.
Subsequent figures showed
that about 8000 Flying Bombs
were launched against London,
of which 2400 had got through.
Over 6000 civilians were killed
and 18,000 seriously wounded.
The damage to buildings was
A week after the V-I attack
had ended, the Germans
launched their first V-2 rockets
against London. They had a
greater range than the Doodle-
bugs and were fired from
Holland. Another sinister
feature was that, while the
Flying Bombs were very noisy
and gave warning of their
approach, the V-2.’s came
We had been told that the
missiles reached a height of
about 50 miles and attained a
maximum speed of 4000 miles
an hour. Such projectiles could
not be intercepted or shot down.
The Rover - 11th Apr 1959 - Page 12
The only defence was to stop
them being made and launched.
Our target for the night was a
factory where, Intelligence
stated, the Germans were
making the special pumps of
nearly I000 horse power re-
quired for forcing the propellent
fuel into the jet chambers of
the rockets.

WE had our meal then played
a quiet game of darts with
a couple of sergeant-pilots,
Reg Delaney and Pete Yatton.
Thanks to Braddock’s amazing
skill, we won hands down.
Our opponents were respected
as excellent flyers and both had
D.F.C.’s to their credit.
The time came for our final
briefing and I followed Brad-
dock out of the hut. Over
England it was a clear, dark
night but we had been warned
to expect clouds as we ap-
proached Germany.
We walked along a concrete
footpath and reached the
operational block. The lights
in the briefing room were on,
but we found nobody there
after Braddock had opened the
Hanging over an easel was a
map of the country round the
German city of Hanover.
Eighteen miles south of the city,
in open country, a red ring
marked our target.
The factory was near a hamlet
called Sundheim. Since the
development of day and night
blitzes by the U.S. Air Force and

the R.A.F., the Germans had
gone in for a policy of dispersal
and moved many of their vital
plants from the hard-hit cities.
Sudden anger blazed in
Braddock’s eyes. He said no-
thing to me, but whipped round
to_face the door as we heard
Flight Lieutenant Stinforth
came in with a folder under his
arm. He was followed by the
Met officer, by Squadron Leader
Marsh, who was our C.O., and
by a wing commender who did
not belong to the station but had
been slinking about for two or
three days. All I knew about
him was that his name was
He had a pale, flabby
face and, as he wore spectacles,
had probably finished with
flying, though he had wings
and a row of medal ribbons on
his tunic.
“ Who’s the blooming fool
who left the door unlocked?”
Braddock demanded and pointed
at the map. “ Anyone could’ve
walked in and found out where
we’re going, anyone!”
“ I had to nip back to the
office for the folder,” spluttered
Stinforth. “ I wasn’t any more
than a minute.”
“Then you must have run
like a blinking greyhound,”
snorted Braddock.
Squadron Leader Marsh,
D.S.O., D.F.C., snapped his
fingers. He was a fighting airman
and had Braddock’s respect.
“ You’ve made your protest,
Braddock,” he said. “ I agree
that the door shouldn’t have
been left unlocked.”
Wing Commander Sleeth said
nothing, but I observed that he
was watching Braddock with his
pale grey eyes. During the rest
of the proceedings he stood in
the background and worked on
his finger nails with a nail file.
We had had a full briefing, but
there were a few details to be
filled in.
“ If you fail to find your
target, the alternative is the
south railway junction at
Hanover,” stated Stinforth.
“ The main bomber force is
over the Ruhr tonight so you’1l
be well clear of them. Mosquitos,
as usual, will be visiting Berlin.”
“ I hope all goes well, Brad-
dock!” exclaimed Marsh. “ I
doubt if you’ve ever been sent
on a more important mission.
We’ve heard that a rocket that
hit London today killed over a
hundred people.”
“ Ay, and some fatheads say
we’ve won the war,” growled
Braddock. “ Ready, George?
It’s time we got out to the
The wing commander was
still manicuring his nails when
we left the room. He hadn’t
said a word.
“ I wonder who that bloke
is ?” I muttered when we were
on our way. ‘
“ That pale-faced porridge-
eater ? Oh, I suppose he’s come
along from some crack-pot
department at the Air Ministry,”
said Braddock. “ He’s probably
investigating if blokes with big
feet make good pilots.”
I chuckled.
“You can laugh,” retorted
Braddock. “ but nowadays the
R.A.F. is infested with comic
specialists. We managed with-
out ’em in 1940.”

CLOUDS smothered the plane.
We were flying over Ger-
many at 20,000 ft. but, with the
aid of our Radar Eye, we could
see the ground. The channel
of the river Weser showed up
The only other lights in the
cockpit were a faint amber
glow that illuminated the instru-
ments and a tiny shaded lamp

that I used for navigational
There was precious little
room in the cockpit of a Mos-
quito. I had heard the criticism
that they were intended to be
fown by dwarfs. Pilot and
navigator were nearly side by
side. My seat was set a few inches
back to make room for the flap
that I had let down to use as the
chart table.
We were bulky figures in
helmets, masks and flying kit.
There were handles, knobs, pipes
and hard edges all round us.
The sound of the motors was
“ Where are we now,
George ?” asked Braddock over
the inter-com and I told him.
I put another tick on the
chart to mark our position. The
Radar Eye was a great aid to a
navigator in providing-a check.
It enabled you to get a pretty
accurate idea of wind velocity
and drift.
The course we were following
was much the same as if our
destination were Berlin, 160
miles east of Hanover. No doubt
that was where the Germans
thought we were making for.
Our Mosquitoes drove the
Jerries frantic. They were too
fast and nimble for their night
fighters to catch. A solitary
Mossy, flying high, was an
equally difficult target for the
guns. “
All the same, Braddock was
right on the alert. Though he
looked physically relaxed with
his hand resting lightly on the
spade grip of the control column,
he was tuned-in for trouble.
I put another tick on the
“ Change course in two
minutes to one nine zero,” I
“ One nine zero,” repeated
Braddock. “ Roger!”
The code word “ Roger,”
meaning “ received and under-
stood,” had come into general
use. It was not slang. It was a
clear and unmistakable reply.
The change of course would
turn us towards the target. I
kept an eye on my watch. At
the end of the second minute, I
“ Change course now!” I
“ Roger!” responded. Brad-
dock and used stick and rudder.
It was iust at that moment
that the Radar Eye packed up.‘
The screen went completely
blank. There wasn’t a flicker.
We said nothing at the
moment. I manipulated the
tuning knobs, but did not
succeed inrestoring the picture.
“It’s gone, Brad!” I ex-
“ Ay, from the way it cut out
I didn’t think you’d get it
back,” he answered.
I switched off the power from
the Radar Eye.
“ I’l1 give you the course for
Hanover south junction,” I
said, naming the alternative
“ To blazes with Hanover
south junction,” retorted Brad-
dock, “ we’re not going to waste
our big bomb on blowing a hole
in a railway yard.”
This answer was so typical of
The Rover - 11th Apr 1959 - Page 13
Braddock I was not surprised.
“ We’re going to look for the
factory, then,” I muttered.
“ Ay, we’ll find it,” said
Braddock. “ Where are we now,
George ?”
He leaned across and looked
at the map as I pushed it to-
wards him. Then he swayed back
upright and eased the stick for-
ward. We started a glide.
Instead of using the Radar
Eye, we were going to use
Braddock’s eyes and instinct.
This entailed flying below the

WITH the engines popping,
we held our glide. A fast
descent through a moist atmos-
phere would have smothered
the plane in thick rime.
We had been briefed that
cloud base would be about
5000 ft, but that was not a
reliable prediction. It might
be more, it might be less.
We passed through a clear
belt and then plunged into
another layer of cloud. Our
guide to the location of the
factory, if the Radar Eye had
operated, would have been the
angle of a road with a tributary
of the Weser.
It was not much of a tributary,
only a sort of blown—up brook !
It was too dark to expect the
water to glimmer.
The altimeter recorded our
loss of height. At 3000 ft, we
were still .in cloud, but there
were no hills in the vicinity.
We found that the ceiling was
2000 ft. We emerged from the
cloud and Braddock levelled
out. There was not a glimmer
of light on the ground.
“ Shall I get down ?” I asked.
The bomb aimer’s position,
with the bomb release, was a
tiny compartment in the nose of
the aircraft.
“Not yet,” muttered Brad-
dock. “ Hit or miss is no use !
We won’t let the bomb go till
we’re sure.”
We roared along. There were
no gun flashes on the ground.
This did not mean there were no
guns. The Jerries were often

cagey. We were over open
country with few landmarks and
gunfire and searchlights could
give an indication of the direc-
tion of a target.
Braddock pushed the stick
over and we banked sharply.
“.We overshot by miles,” he
“Know where to look ?” I
“ Yes, I know where to look,”
muttered Braddock.
We went churning along. A
minute elapsed. He uttered a
satisfied grunt.
“ We’re over the target now,”
he rapped. “ We’ll turn and
hit it coming back. You can get
ready to bomb.”
“ You’ll have to tell me when
to drop it,” I said.
To me it was bombing blind,
and I had to depend entirely
on Braddock.
“ I’ll tell you,” he replied.
I folded the map and slid
my pencils and instruments into
the bag. Then I pushed the
flap up. Moving about in a
Mosquito was as tight a per-
formance as exchanging places
in a canoe. I slid out of my
harness and then pulled out
the oxygen and inter-com lines.
I was then able to get down
on my knees, lie down
flat and push my head and
shoulders into the bomb-aimer’s
compartment. I plugged in my
“Right, Brad, I’m ready,”
I reported.
I felt the Mosquito heel over
as he turned. The plane swung
back on to an even keel.
“ Bomb doors open!” he
I gripped the bomb release
“Roger!” I said. “ I’m all
I stared down through the
perspex panel into utter dark-
ness-—darkness that was trans-
formed in an instant to glare, as
the beams of several search-
lights were exposed.
It was grimly evident that the
commander of the ground
defences knew that the black-
out was insufficient and that
the factory was now directly
Fiery flickers on the ground
meant that the guns had opened
up. We were first lit up when a
star shell burst and then the air
around us sparkled with the
flashes of’ exploding shells.
I heard the sharp, cracker-
like reports of a salvo that came
very near to hitting us and then
got a whiff of the acrid fumes of
burned explosive.
I narrowed my eyes as a
searchlight hit me full in the
face. At the same moment,
Braddock’s voice vibrated in the
“ Okay?” he demanded, and it
was an essential question, for
the flak burst had been very
close and I might have been hit.
“ Okay, I’m still with you,”
I answered.
“ Stand by !” he exclaimed.
“ One . . . two . . . three . .now!”
I jerked at the release. We
knew in an instant that the
blockbuster had not hung up,
for the Mosquito, with its
burden gone, gave a buoyant
leap. .
Braddock threw us round,
engines howling. The plane
shuddered. It rocked and
swayed. We had been caught
in the blast as the bomb
He soon had the plane under
control. We screamed round in
an orbit.
The searchlights flogged
about and ‘guns still flickered.
From the ground, great masses
of lurid smoke were billowing
“ We’ve hit it, Brad,” I
yelled. “ We’ve done more than
set a haystack on fire.”
I heard his gruff chuckle
before I withdrew the phone
plug and started to crawl back
to my seat. By the time I got
there, we were climbing through
the clouds and heading for

BRADDOCK took a big gulp
from his steaming mug of
tea. I often thought he had an
asbestos gullet. We were back

in the briefing room after land-
ing at Brillford and much the
same people were there. Maybe
the wing commander had been
doing something to get his hands
dirty for he was using his nail
file again.
.“ Ugh !” Braddock grimaced,
but it was not because he had
burned his tongue. “ We must
be blooming short of sugar at
this station.”
Stinforth, sitting at the table
and ready to ask his questions,
opened his cigarette case and
held it out to us.
Braddock shook his head.
“ No, thanks, I don’t smoke,”
he said. “ It doesn’t help the
“ Did you have any trouble,
chaps ?” asked Squadron Leader
“ The Radar Eye packed up,”
I said.
Stinforth gave us a dis-
appointed look.
“ I suppose you went for the
railway at Hanover,” he said.
“ No, no, not after flying all
that distance,” retorted Brad-
dock. “ We found the factory
all right and hit 1t.” .
I observed that Sleeth stopped
filing his nails. He looked hard
at Braddock.
“ How on earth did you find
it ?” he asked.
“ I knew where to fly,” said
“ Are you sure you hit it?”
Sleeth pursued.
“ I’d have told you if we’d
missed,” snapped Braddock.
Next morning, Braddock and
I were called on the tannoy—-
loud-speaker system —- and
ordered to report at the Squad-
ron Commander’s office.
We met near the building.
Braddock had been working
round the plane with the ground
crew and was wearing a greasy
cap and smeared overalls.
We went along to the
squadron leader’s offfce. His
manner was genial.
“ Group are extremely
pleased with the job you did last
night,” he began. “ A recce
report has been received that
you planted the bomb in the
middle of the factory area and
The Rover - 11th Apr 1959 - Page 14
the A.O.C. Group sends his
“ I’m glad we gave it a bump,”
said Braddock.
Marsh lowered his voice. His
expression became stern.
“ I can let you in on this now,
I’ve been given permission to do
so, for reasons you’ll appreciate,”
he said grimly. “ It amounts to
this. There’s reason to fear that
the rockets that have hit London
are only sighting shots. ”
Braddock scowled.
“ We can expect a rocket
blitz, can we ?” he muttered.
“ It’s even worse than you’ve
guessed,” answered Marsh in a
voice of the utmost gravity.
“ The Government has been
warned that the Germans have
developed a new explosive that’s
to go into the warheads of the
V-2’s. It is said to be a hundred
times more powerful than TNT.
If Hitler is allowed to get going
with it, he can destroy London
and eyery town in the Home

BRADDOCK talked about the
Radar Eye as we headed for
the sergeant’s mess for lunch.
The fault had easily been traced.
It was very simple. A soldered
connection had come away.
“ The more gadgets there are
in a plane, the more there is to
go wrong,” I remarked.
“ Ay, they’re fine when they
work, but you don’t want to
rely on ’em too much,” was
Braddock’s answer.
We entered the mess and got
our food. We went to the table
that we usually shared with Reg
Delaney and Pete Yatton. They
were missing.
I looked inquiringly at Bert
Hollister, another pilot. He was
in the same dormitory hut as
Delaney and Yatton. ,
“ What’s happened to Reg
and Pete ?” I asked.
“ Can’t say,” said Hollister.
“I only know they’ve packed
up and gone.”
Braddock li s t e n e d inter-
“ They’re not the only ones
to disappear,” he said. “ Bill
Andrews and Ken Stacey have
gone from Andoverton and
when I looked in at Kempsford
no one could tell me what had
happened to Jim Cook.”
The names he mentioned
were those of other crack flyers,
pilots of long experience with a
great number of sorties to their
“ Do you think they’ve been
posted to a special squadron for
some hush-hush job?” I said.
“ You’ve probably hit the
nail on the head, George,”
replied Braddock and poked
his fork into an object on his
plate. "Is this a parsnip or a
dandelion root?”
The food at Brillford had
become unsatisfactory. There
was, of course, a severe food
shortage in the country, but it
was the way our meals were
prepared and served that caused
a lot of justified grumbling.
On the following evening,
F Fox took off again. Our mis-
sion was to drop a blockbuster
on a Dutch hamlet that had

become the headquarters of a
German Panzer Corps,
Except for some heavy flak
as we crossed the coast in both
directions, it was a routine
flight. The Radar Eye worked
perfectly, we dropped the bomb
and were back at Brillford at
nine o’c1ock.
At half past, we went into
the mess for supper. The other
crews were still on operations
and we had the big room to our-
A W.A.A.F. orderly brought
us at tray. The two plates were
covered. A
Braddock lifted the cover
from his plate and a look of
auger appeared on his face.
His supper consisted of one
charred sausage nestling in a
pool of lukewarm grease, some
lumpy mashed potatoes that
had long ceased to steam and a
few baked beans that had also
gone cold. My helping was
“ Come on,” he snapped.
He jumped up and picked
up his plate. I followed him
and we left the mess with the
orderly staring after us.
We went mro the administra-
tion block and down a long
corridor. We reached the office
door of Group Captain Heck-
ington, the Station Commander.
Braddock gave the door a
tap with his foot and then
burst in.
The group captain, a swarthy
man with a dark moustache,
sat at his desk. Three squadron
leaders, the adiutant and Wing
Commander Sleeth were in
in the room.
There were surprised faces
as Braddock advanced and put
his plate on the stationmaster’s
“ We’ve iust got back from
ops and this is our supper,”
he said angrily. “Not good
enough, is it? I say it’s only
fit to throw in the swill tub.”
“ Um, yes, indeed, it appears
to be unsatisfactory,” splut-
tered the group captain, “ but
you know you shouldn’t have
come bursting in on me like
Braddock gave a harsh laugh.
“ The usual channels get
bunged up,” he retorted,
“either that or everybody
passes the buck. We want some-
thing done about it and quick.”
Wing Commander Sleeth
said nothing, but I was aware
of his cold and fishy stare.

WE had a wonderful breakfast.
Those who did not know
about Braddock’s protest were
staggered by the quality and
quantity of the food.
Not long after breakfast,
Braddock and I were called to
our squadron leader’s office.
We anticipated that it was to
discuss a flight, but there was a
shock waiting for us.
“ I wish you hadn’t burst in
on the stationmaster with your
supper !” exclaimed Marsh. “ It
followed hard on your outburst
about the unlocked briefing
room and the result is that, before
you fly again, you’re going to
be vetted.”
“Vetted?" growled Brad-
dock. “ Just what do you
mean ?”
“The doctors will run the
rule over you,” stated the
squadron leader, “ and after
that you’ll be interviewed by
Wing Commander Sleeth.”
“ Who is that bloke ?” Brad-
dock demanded.
“ As a matter of fact he’s a
psychiatrist,” replied Marsh.
Braddock scowled. A psy-
chiatrist was, of course, an
expert in the prevention, treat-
ment and cure of mental illness.
“ George,” he snapped,
“ they think I’m barmy now.”
“ No, no,” exclaimed Marsh,
“ but there is a suggestion that
you’ve flown too long, that it has
told on your nerves and you
should be tested!”
“ Am I in this ?” I asked.
“ You carried your supper in,
too,” said the squadron leader,
“ and you’re down on the wing
coinmander’s list.”
Braddock glowered at him.
“ You say we can’t fly until
we’ve had the exam?” he de-
“ I’m sorry, but you’re
definitely grounded,” said
Marsh. _
Braddock’s eyes blazed with
anger. '
“ The exam’s a lot of rot,” he
stormed, “ but let’s get it over
and done with.”

Next week, Wing Commander
Sleeth and his team of psychia-
trists examine Braddock and
declare him unfit to fly! Find
out how the R.A.F.’s top pilot
fights against this decision in
next Thursday’s great story.



The Rover from 24th Oct 1959 for 14 issues



Picture - The Rover 1959/12/12 - page 18

Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories

The Rover - 24th Oct 1959 - Page 13
THE voice of Sergeant-Pilot Matt Braddock, v.c., twanged on the inter-com of our Mosquito fighter.
Hostile!" he exclaimed,
and swung the plane into a right turn.
Tracers came streaming past
us. I had a glimpse of a Focke-
Wulf 190 with a crimson
spinner. It dived out of my
view as we turned.
We were flying over the
Rhineland in Germany on
December 30, 1944. At the
moment when the Focke-Wulf
came at us out of broken cloud,
we were at 10,000 ft.
I’m Sergeant George Bourne
and I’d flown as Braddock’s
navigator since 1940.
Our Mosquito fighter, O-
Oboe, was equipped not only
with the usual four 20mm
cannon but also with a 57mm
Molins gun. This tremendous
weapon packed a punch
equivalent to that of a 6-
pounder field gun. It was re-
nowned for its work in
sinking German U—boats.
Fitted in the nose of a fast-
flying Mosquito, it could do
incredible damage.
I suppose that no other
sergeant-pilot was as well-
known as Braddock. His skill,
determination and blunt tongue
had become a by-word in the
He had first attracted
attention as a bomber pilot in
the early months of the war
when the R.A.F. was small. He
was one of the few pilots of
those days who had survived
till the last phases of the war.
Those who were still active
had mostly achieved high rank.
They had much to do with the
command of the vast R.A.F. of
1944 and, of course, they knew
Braddock, who had firmly
refused promotion. .
He hated red tape and useless
spit and polish. That was why
he would never accept a
But in the air, Braddock was
a born leader.
His powers of leadership in
the air had been used when he
was appointed to lead Force H.
This consisted of Mosquito
bombers and fighters and all
the crews were very experi-
Our task had been to destroy
an explosives plant that was
producing a new explosive for
the German rockets. That task
had been completed.
We had iust been to see the
result in the course of a recce
flight. A hill top had been
blown away. In its place there
was a huge crater.
The future of Force H had
not been decided, but it was
likely that we should be used
for special missions requiring
great accuracy in execution, as
compared with the tremendous
mass raids of the heavy
The big war news was that a
great German advance in the
south of Belgium had been
stopped—and none too soon. At
one time there had been a
definite possibility that the
enemy tank divisions would
break through. We had had to
leave the Belgian drome we
were using in great haste.
However, the advance had
been stemmed. Force H had
mustered at a new airfield, and
this was our first flight after our
hurried escape.
Braddock looked to star-
“ He’s coming in again,
George!” he exclaimed. “ He’s
no novice, either. This fellow
can fly.”
A few moments later, the
earth seemed to stand on edge
as Braddock flicked us on to a
wing tip. We completed a roll
and our guns kicked under the
floor as he fired. Cordite fumes
invaded the cockpit.
“ Missed it!” he snapped.
I saw the Focke-Wulf again,
this time close enough to notice
a red emblem on the side of its
cockpit. The emblem con-
sisted of a fist tightly clenched
round a long dagger.
There was some swift
manoeuvring. Braddock’s eyes,
larger than those of a man with
average sight, had a bright
gleam. He won the battle of
wits for position and snapped
off another burst of shells at the
Focke-Wulf 190.
The German came round in
a tight turn and then dropped
sharply towards a fleecy bank of
Braddock went spiralling
down after him. The Jerry was
wily. He throttled back to make
us overshoot and made a steep
turn to port.
Our four cannons snarled and
flamed as Braddock pressed the
trigger again. It was a short
burst at a wide angle. It had no
spectacular results but as the
German fighter continued its
dive into the clouds it left a
faint white trail.
“ Brad, it’s smoking!” I
“ No, I reckon that’s
glycol,” rapped Braddock,
referring to the fluid which was
circulated in an aircraft engine
to keep it from overheating.
“He’s in trouble, anyway,”
I retorted.
Braddock levelled out.
“He’ll get down all right,”
he growled. “ It’s no use
barging into the clouds. Put me
back on course.”
I looked at my map and the
instruments, fixed our position
and gave him the course on
which to fly to return to our
present base at Velmy-sur-
Seine, in France.
Braddock’s attitude was re-
laxed yet wary. His head was
never still. He looked ahead. He
looked to starboard and port.
He glanced in the rear vision
mirror. He looked at the
instruments and started on the
routine again.
“ Did you see the Red Fist
and Dagger?” he demanded
“ Yes, I suppose it was the
squadron badge,” I said.
“Maybe,” grunted Braddock,
“ but it used to be the symbol of
Baron von Werner.”
“ He was a fighter ace, wasn’t
he?” I guessed.
“Yes, he led their Fighter
Group Twenty-Seven,” replied
Braddock. “ We came up
against them during the Battle
of Britain and they were a hot
lot. When I last heard of them
they were on the Eastern From:
fighting against the Russians.”
Braddock had an astonishing
knowledge of the organisation
and personalities of the
German Air Force.
He read every scrap of infor-
mation issued by Intelligence
and remembered everything he
had read.
The movement of his head
stopped. He gazed up, eyes
slightly narrowed.
“ More hostiles,” he snapped.
“Starboard and high.”
Specks glittered high in the
sky. They were just nasty
looking dots to me but Braddock
was able to identify them.
“ Gustavs!” he added.
“ They haven’t seen us, but
we’ll dodge.”
Cloud swiftly enveloped us.
Gustavs were the Messers-
chmitt 109G’s——highly efficient
single-engined fighters.
"The reason for their nick-
name was that in the German
phoenetic alphabet G was
When we came out of the mist
there were no enemy fighters to
be seen. I thought we should
head for home, but Braddock
had a different idea.
“ I think there’s been a
forward movement of the
Jerry fighters!” he exclaimed.
“ It makes you wonder if
there’s anything in the wind. I
think we’ll take a look in at one
or two of their advanced
The Rover - 24th Oct 1959 - Page 14
WHAT was the general posi-
tion in the air War at that
time? I suppose the dominat-
ing thing was the round-the-
clock bombing by the heavy
bombers of the R.A.F. and the
United States Air Force. It
was in striving to check these
raids that the Luftwaffe, the
German Air Force, employed
most of its fighter strength.
The Focke-Wulfs and
Messerschmitt piston engined
fighters were getting increasing
support from the new Messer-
schmitt “ Tiger ” jets.
Allied aerodromes in Belgium
and France were the bases of
the Tactical Air Force. The
aircraft of this force had played
a close support role to the troops
on the ground. The T.A.F. had
achieved superiority partly
because the German fighters
were so heavily engaged in
their war against the big
Braddock decided to look in
at a drome about twenty miles
behind the front, a drome
which the Germans used as an
auxiliary base.
For the most part it was used
as an emergency landing ground
by planes needing to refuel
after attacking the Flying
Fortresses, long range American
We flew in and out of cloud
until we were three or four
miles away from it.
Braddock nudged the stick
forward. We swooped to about
100ft. when he levelled out.
Over fields and trees we
streaked towards the drome.
The ruins of bombed hangers
appeared on the skyline and
then appeared to leap at us. If
we had been much higher we
should never have seen the
numerous aircraft that were
concealed by camouflage. nets.
Though we were travelling
at a high speed, we saw a great
deal. Bomb craters had been
filled. in. Fuel bowsers and
lorries were tucked away in
corners. The aircraft were twin-
engined Messerschmitt 410s.
We took the Germans by
surprise, but before we were
clear of the drome, tracer shells
flickered up from gun em-
placements dotted round.
One salvo was unpleasantly
close for I heard, the sharp
crackle of exploding shells.
“ What did I tell you?”
Braddock snapped. “ There has
been a forward movement!”
There was another drome we
knew about not far away. It lay
in an area where there were
many trees. We sped towards
it over the firs.
The drome appeared under
our nose. There were just three
planes to be seen. They were
small Junkers transports. That
was all. There were no planes
concealed under, netting and
the roofless hangars were empty.
Nobody shot at us.
As soon as we were over the
trees again, Braddock , climbed
a short distance and started to
“We’ll have another look,”
he exclaimed, “and this time
we’ll look under the trees!”
What he did wast to cast
round the drome in narrowing
circles and I gave a shout when
I saw the shape of a Foike-
Wulfe 190 standing under the
“ There’s another,” Braddock
replied. “ George, the wood is
stiff with them!”
As puffs of smoke from ex-
ploding flak appeared above the
trees, he banked and swerved
“Are you going anywhere
else?” I asked.
“No, we mustn’t take risks,”
Braddock retorted. “ We must
get back with,the news of what
we’ve seen. ‘It’s of terriffc
A few minutes later, we had
crossed the fighting front in
cloud. We broke from it when
we were clear and, as we passed
over Belgium, had a glimpse
of several of our airfields. In
each instance, the planes were
so numerous that they could not
be widely dispersed.
The British and American
Air Forces had become over-
confident. That was the blunt
truth. Braddock made growl-
ing noises in the inter-com.
“ Look at those Tiffies,” he
complained as we flew past a
drome where Typhoons were
parked wing-tip to wing-tip.
“For crying out loud, they’re a
sitting target-—and you can
bet the Germans know all
about it. They’re not short of
At, the next airfield we saw
Spitfires in large numbers and,
at an American base, many
Mustang fighters were lined up
near the runway.
We flew on into France and
soon approached Velmy-sur-
Seine. We were sharing the
base with two squadrons of
Mitchell bombers belonging to
the Tactical Air Force.
A number of transport planes
were also at Velmy and, there-
fore, there were a lot of aircraft
to share the accommodation
It was not a spacious drome
and our Mosqnitos were almost
wing-tip to wing-tip.
We landed and taxied from
the runway.
Our breath made frosty
clouds as, we got out. Flight
Sergeant Watson stamped_to-
wards us. It was certainly
weather for cold feet.
“Flight, we must disperse
our planes!” exclaimed Brad-
dock. “I know we’re a long
distance from the front, but
from what we’ve iust seen
there’s a big air attack im-
Watson looked surprised.
“I’ll do the best I can,” he
rephed, “ but space is very
“ Rip a hole in the fence if
necessary and dot them round
the next field,” suggested Brad-
dock. .
“ That might be the answer,”
said Watson.
There was no doubt that he
The Rover - 24th Oct 1959 - Page 15
would take prompt steps to
disperse the Mosquitos. We
left him thinking it over and
turned towards the buildings.
“We’ll make our report to
the Intelligence Officer now,”
Braddock remarked. “ It’s his
job to push the news through
to T.A.F. headquarters.”
Several of our administrative
folk were either on leave or
sick. The severe weather and
the exposed conditions under
which we had been working,
had taken its toll. Among those
down with influenza was our
own intelligence officer, a top-
class fellow.
We reached a door marked
“Intelligence,” and I shoved
it open.
One of the functions of an
Intelligence Officer was to in-
terview air crews, extract all
possible information and pass
it on.
The only person in the room
was a bespectacled corporal
clerk who was doing a bit of
“ Flying Officer Parrett has
just gone across to the Mess,”
he said. “ He’ll be back when
he’s had his lunch.”
Anger blazed on Braddock’s
rugged face. He whipped round
and strode out. He headed for
the building that housed the
Officers’ Mess.
The Germans had until
recently occupied the drome,
and they had put it in very good
order. It had not been heavily
bombed during our advance and
did not lack comfort.
Braddock passed through the
vestibule and opened the door
of the Mess.
About twenty offfcers, poss-
ibly more, were having lunch.
They were being served by
stewards in white jackets. The
Stationmaster, Group Captain
Scown, was not in the big room
and neither was Squadron
Leader Kentish, who had come
with us from our former base.
But, those who were eating
included the squadron leaders
of the two Mitchell squadrons
and at least one wing comman-
der was present.
A draught blew in with
“ I want Flying Officer
Parrett and quick,” he roared.
“ He’s got a job to do.”
A young man with a flush on
his cheeks and a natty little
moustache on his upper lip
gave a start and then frowned
at Braddock.
“ Wait outside, Sergeant,” he
“ What? I won’t wait ten
seconds for you,” snarled
Braddock. “ If you’re not going
to do your job I’ll find some-
body who will.”
He turned towards the
frowning faces at the table
occupied by the squadron com-
manders and the wingco.
“ Your planes are too
bunched,” he said, “ and I’m
sure that Jerry is preparing a
grand slam.”
Flying Offfcer Parrett left
his soup and decided to return
to his office to take Braddock’s
In it Braddock reported what
we had seen and drew attention
to the way British and American
planes were crowded together
on many airfields in France and
“ We are asking for trouble,”
he concluded, “ and we are
going to get it within the next
few days.”

EARLY in the afternoon, Brad-
dock’s name was called
on the tannoy-the loudspeaker
system-and he was ordered
to report to Group Captain
We did not come directly
under Scown’s command. Our
A.O.C. was Air Vice-Marshal
Nolan Harland. He had been
severly wounded in the early
days of the war and had one eye
and two artificial legs. He will
he entering this narrative
The group captain, a man of
dapper appearance, pushed his
chair back and stood as
Braddock entered his office.
“ I’ve just seen your report,”
he stated. “What has aroused

your suspicions?”
He listened, intently as
Braddock gave him a personal
description of the hidden air-
craft at the forward dromes, of
our encounter with the Red
Dagger Focke-Wulf, of our
sighting the Messerschmitts off
their “ beaten track.”
“ Well, there’s only one thing
to think, Braddock, and that is
the German Fighter Command
are preparing a big attack,”
Scown said “The German Army
launched their surprise attack
and came very near to victory.
It may be the Luftwaffe is
planning an air offensive on a
large scale.”
“ I’m sure of it,” replied
Braddock. "The bad weather,
by keeping our big bombers on
the ground, has given the
German Fighter Command a
breathing space and they don’t
lack leaders who think that
attack is the best means of
“ We’ll be ready here,”
rapped the station commander.
“ We’ll disperse our aircraft as
widely as possible and I’d
like you to have your fighter
Mosquitos at readiness before
first light each morning until
further notice.”
Braddock came away from
the interview in a satisfied
frame of mind and, during the
day, there was intense activity
as the aircraft were scattered as
widely as possible.
His idea of extending the
area was accepted and tractors
towed several of the Mitchells
and our bomber Mosquitos
away into the adjacent fields.
An hour before first light
next day, on a very cold and
frosty morning, six Mosquito
crews were fetched out of their
Two of our pilots were Clem
Jagger, V.C., and Mike Moss,
D.F.M., whose huge mous-
tache must have been some
protection against frostbite.
We put on every available
garment and drank mugs of tea
to bursts of sound from out-
side as the engines were given
a run.
Braddock had turned down
a suggestion that the crews
should stand-by in the duty-
room till the order came to
scramble. “ That would cause
too much delay,” had been his
Because of this decision, we
went out into the biting cold
and gloom of that winter morn-
ing to wait in the aircraft.
Mike’s voice carried to us, as
no doubt it was intended to do.
“ Braddock’s after a gong,”
he said. “ He wants the Polar
Medal to pin on his chest.”
Braddock chuckled.
“You’ll work up a good
appetite for breakfast!” he
The ground crews had put
up tarpaulin sheets as wind
breaks and lighted braziers.
They stood round their fires
while we sat in the Mosquitos.
Dawn seemed reluctant to break
and time seemed endless before
it was fully light.
What happened? Nothing at
all. Not even a friendly plane
came near the drome before it
was fully light.
“ It seems the Germans stayed
in bed, Brad,” Clem remarked
as we walked stiffly back to the
“ Ay, but one day soon they
won’t stay in bed,” said
Braddock obstinately.
During the afternoon it be-
came necessary to fly B Baker,
Mike’s machine, on test. As
Mike was helping to organise
the New Year’s party to be held
that night, Braddock said he
would fly the machine and I
went with him.
We sighted the airfield
occupied by Spitfire squadrons.
Braddock snorted indignantly.
No defensive measures had been
taken. The fighters were parked
close together.
“ It’s not good enough,” he
exclaimed, “ and I’m going to
land and tell them so!”
He turned towards the drome,
put down our wheels and
landed. It happened that the
station commander, Group
Captain Strang, was walking
across the apron as we stopped
and he paused to see who had
The Rover - 24th Oct 1959 - Page 16
paid an unannounced visit to
the airfield.
Braddock was no stranger to
this officer. They had come
across each other as long ago
as 1940, when Strang had been
a flight lieutenant.
“ I’m sorry you haven’t
heeded the warning, sir,” began
Braddock in his blunt manner.
“What warning?” Strang
“ Holy smoke, George, it
hasn’t been circulated yet!”
Braddock roared. angrily.
The station commander kept
glancing at his rows of Spitfres
as Braddock told him what we
had seen.
“ My word, there’s been a
serious delay somewhere,” he
said tensely. “ I suppose there’s
a chance that headquarters are
seeking corroboration of your
report, but sometimes informa—
tion does take a long time to
get through.
“ I shan’t wait for it, no fear.
I’ll act on your warning and be
ready for anything.”
Our test flight became a
series of hops from drome to
drome with Braddock giving,
his word of mouth warning. At
only one airfield, where fighter-
bombers were based, did we
encounter a snooty attitude.'
"We are always at the alert
here,” snapped the second-in-‘
command, a_ portly squadron
Braddock. scowled at the
massed aircraft.
“ You couldn’t get that lot
off the ground in an hour and
a half,”' he, said. “Well, don’t
say you haven’t been warned!’
That night we were present
at one of the New Year’s Eve
parties to be held at Velmy.
During the festivities, the signals
o?ffcer came in and sought out
“ A general signal has been
issued to the effect that the
enemy maybe contemplating an
attack,” he said.
Braddock frowned.
“ The news has been late
in coming and the warning is
not strong enough,” he snapped.
“ Still, there are not a few
dromes now where we shan’t be
taken by surprise.”
It was a good party. We saw
the New Year in with appropri-
ate ceremonial. Then the general
festivities were resumed and
promised to go on for hours.
Braddock ambled over to
Mike, who was leading a chorus
by the piano and gave him a
nudge in the back.
“ I’m just going to bed,”
he said, “and so are you.”
“ Eh ?” gasped Mike, his
moustache fluttering. .
“You heard me,” retorted
“Okay,” groaned Mike.
“ Ours is a proper Task Force.”
Task Force was the American
phrase for what we might call
a striking force.
Thus, when the first dim
light of 1945 was appearing
on the horizon, we were at
readiness again, and all the
crews had had a sleep.
After completing our cock-
pit drill Braddock and I got
down and shared the brazier
with our ground crew.
It was a raw, cold morning,
cheerless to the last degree.
Objects gradually took shape.
It was observed that during the
night somebody’s trousers had
been hoisted to the top of a
mast. This was part of the fun
of the New Year celebrations.
The legs of the trousers
flapped in the northeeast wind.
In order to keep warm, some
of the chaps started a game of
tin can football. I saw Clem
Jagger and Mike Moss dashing
Woooosh! Bang bang, bang!
That game of football ended
abruptly when a rocket was put
up from the control caravan.
The rocket was followed, by
squawks on the air-raid siren.
Braddock pitched himself up
the steps and into the pilot’s
seat of O Oboe. Before the doors
were closed, before I’d strapped
myself in, the engines were
He raised a hand and the
chocks were pulled away.
Braddock swung towards the
runway. I looked round and saw
H Howe and P Peter, fighter
types flown. by Clem and Mike,
were in the queue.
The voice of the Controller
rasped in our ’phones.
‘You’re clear to take-off,”
he screeched. “ There’s a
general warning. The Jerries
are over in hundreds.”
We raced down the streaky
concrete ,and took off. Braddock
started turning as soon as he’d
raised the wheels.
“ Hostiles!” he snapped.
Three Focke~Wulfs, with
bombs under their wings, were
coming in at about 500ft.
Braddock went straight at
them, both hands on the stick,
peering through the ring sight.
The enemy planes broke
formation. I saw they carried
the Red Hand and Dagger
Our cannon flamed. First
burst hit the middle Focke-
Wulf and I saw pieces fly off
it. Its nose went down and
it struck the ground and ex-
ploded outside the drome.
I had a glimpse of another
Mosquito on the tail of a
FW190 before Braddock
zoomed towards another
enemy formation that he had
spotted. It consisted of six
Messerschmitt 410’s with
bombs hanging under the
They were almost in
position for dropping their
deadly load and I doubted if we
could reach them in time to
stop the bombs going down.
“Let’s try the big gun,”
Braddock muttered and a
moment or two later, he brought
it into iaction.
The Mosquito swayed. I felt
the jolt of the recoil. There was
a dazzling fash among the
Messerschmitts as the shell ex-
ploded. One of them blew up
and the others scattered.
I saw a large flight of air-
craft skimming along under the
clouds and their graceful
shapes made identification
easy. "
“The Spitfires are up,” I
"Ay” grunted Braddock,
‘Group Captain Strang
wouldn’t be caught with his
squadrons on the ground.”
The Spits dived. on the
scattered Messerschmitts and
we left them to it. As we flew
north-east, we saw smoke
rising from one of our dromes,
but in the vicinity of another
airfield, four German planes
were down in a large field.
Braddock thought they rnust
have been caught in a curtain of
gunfire as they tried to make a
low—level attack.
Our own share in the air
battles that were raging far and
wide ended after we had
interceped and shot down a
solitary Gustav that was
scudding back towards
Holland. ‘
We returned to Velmy. Not a
single bomb had been dropped
on the drome. Our Mosquitos,
at the cost of a little damage to
two of them had a score of
eight enemy machines definitely
destroyed .
In the late afternoon, Group
Captain Scown sent for Brad—
dock again.
“ I have some definite in-
formation about the battle,”
he declared. “ It was a daring,
reckless attack on the largest
possible scale and the Germans
have done a lot of damage, but
not what they hoped to do.
“ Braddock, it’s estimated
that‘ nearly five hundred
German fighter pilots have been
killed or taken prisoner. Their
colossal gamble failed and their
Fighter Command can no
longer exist as an effective
fighting force.”

I AM now going to describe
an incredible scene. It is
based on an eye-witness account
and diaries found after the war.
Two torches burned on the
wall of a cellar under a castle
in Rhineland Germany. They
sent out an eerie, flickering
Between the torches was a
crest, in brilliant red, fixed to
the stonewall. It portrayed a
clenched fist holding a dagger
that was plunged into the
broken back of a Mosquito.
The castle was the home of
Baron von Werner, a major in
the German Air Force, and it
has been used as the Fighter
Command Headquarters while
the New Year’s Day attack was
being planned.
There was a large group of
Fighter Command officers in
the hall. The atmosphere was
grim and brooding. There was
little conversation. They
seemed to be waiting for news.
Von Werner filled a glass with
wine and gulped it down. He
was a tall, gaunt man with hard,
determined eyes- Major Fuhr-
mann, one hand heavily
bandaged, sared moodily at
the fire, Captain Dolling
paced slowly to and fro.
All the offfcers in the hall
wore decorations. Von Werner’s
flying exploits had gained him
the German Gold Cross as well
as the Knight’s Cross With

Major Fuhrmann jerked
round suddenly.
“ Why did we fail?” he
demanded harshly. “ Why did
we lose the element of complete
surprise? My wing was
attacked by Spitfires while we
were still miles away from our
Captain Dolling stopped his
endless pacing.
"My attack on a bomber
field was successful,” he ex-
claimed, “but as we were
turning away, Tempests fell
on us. I am the only survivor.
My fine squadron was de-
“Fighter Command has
broken down,” said von Werner
hoarsely. “ I doubt if we could
put a single wing into the air
on the Western Front.”
The great door opened and
Captain Specht, another ace,
strode in.
“I come from the signals
office,” he said. “We owe our
defeat, the calamity that has
overtaken Fighter Command,
to somebody called Braddock.
I can find no trace of that name
in the fighter command of the
“ Braddock!” echoed von
Werner. That is a name we
know. It has often occurred in
the intelligence reports. He is
of low rank, but he is im-
“A message has been re-
ceived frorn an agent in France
that it was Braddock who de-
tected our preparations and flew
from aerodrome to aerodrome
warning the commanders to
be ready,” rapped Specht.
With his face working, Maior
Fuhrmann drew a dagger from
his belt and sprang up. His
eyes blazed and his shout
echoed in the hall.
“Revenge, We must have
revenge!” he shouted. “ We
must hunt down and kill this
man Braddock. His death is
demanded by the blood of our
comrades and the ruin of our
hopes !”
There must have been some-
thing like madness in the air,
but remember that those men
had seen all their hopes crash
that day.
“Death to Braddock! That
shall. be our oath!” cried von
Werner. “ We will swear by
the Red Fist and Dagger to
settle our account with him.
We still have our spies. We
shall find out where he is and
what he is doing. He shall not
escape our vengeance! Death
to Braddock !”
Each one of the officers
jumped up, drew a dagger and,
clenching it in his fist, raised it
high before the crest on the wall.
“ Death to Braddock!” was
the shout that echoed amongst
the stone walls of the huge
cellar. The remnant of the
proud German special force
was solemnly planning to use
its remaining strength in
vengeance against a sergeant-,

It’s one man against a squadron
next week, when the Red
Daggers set out to carry out
their vow of vengeance. Don’t
miss this gripping story!



The Rover from 30th Jan 1960 for 12 issues


Picture - The Rover 1960/04/02 - page 19

Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories


The Rover - 6th Jan 1960 - Page 9
glanced into the rear vision mirror of the
Mosquito he was flying over Belgium on a
March morning, in I945.
I sat in the other seat in the cramped
little cockpit. I'm Sergeant George Bourne and, with one or two brief intervals, had flown as his navigator since 1940. Braddock turned a thumb to starboard and his voice came rasping over the intercom.
“ Here’s the plane that’s
doing us out of a job, George,”
he said.
I looked to starboard, but the
plane he had spotted had not
yet drawn level and I couldn’t
see it. We were just cruising
along in the Mark XXX
Mosquito fighter that so
perfectly fitted Braddock’s skill
as a pilot. It had a top speed
of over 400 miles an hour.
Braddock was an amazing
man. Few pilots were better
known to the high-ranking
officers who ran the R.A.F.,
and yet he was only a sergeant.
It was his own choice. Time
and again attempts had been
made to persuade him to
become an officer but, no, he
would not bite. I think the
red tape and the paper work
that went with a commission
put him off.
Strange circumstances, how-
ever, had made him the flying
leader of Force H. This was a
small force of ace pilots and
navigators who few Mosquitos,
either fighter or bomber types.
Our C.O. was Air Vice-
Marshal Noland Harland, who
gave us our orders from Air
Ministry, London.
For some weeks, we had been
engaged in a campaign against
the “Tiger,” the German jet
fighter produced by the Messer—
schmitt company. In this
campaign, we had met with
considerable success and done
a great deal to prevent the
enemy from getting the deadly
little plane into squadron
service. In our last action we
had smashed the Tigers’ main
Braddock turned his head
my way. He had rugged, deter-
mined features, but dominating
his expression were his large,
far-seeing eyes. They had a
luminous quality as if a light
were burning behind them.
“ Here it comes,” he said.
The machine that drew level
was a jet fighter, a Meteor III,
with two jet engines. The pilot
raised a gauntleted hand in
The Meteor had first been
used against the Flying Bombs
that were directed at England
in 1944.
I watched as the Meteor
drew away from us.
“ It’s the first I’ve seen over
here,” I declared.
“ I heard iust before we took
off, that a squadron had joined
the Tactical Air Force,”
answered Braddock, “ and that
they were to be used against
the Tigers.”
“ Seems a logical thing to
do,” I said.
“Ay, but there’s more to
hunting Tigers than racing
them,” growled Braddock.
“You’ve got to use a bit of
What Braddock called a bit
of cunning I should have
described as superb flying. He
had stalked and shot down
several Tigers because of it.
We were on our way to
Germany again—~—to look for
Tigers. "If what he said was
right, and no doubt it was,
Force H would soon be at a
loose end. .
There were staff officers who
did not approve of Force H
because it was outside the
structure of the R.A.F. They
could be trusted to do their
best to break it up and return
us to squadron service.
“ What’s going to happen to
us?” I asked.
“ I dunno at the moment
except that it would be worse
than daft to disperse us,”
snapped Braddock. “ We have a
wonderful bunch of chaps, and
it would be blooming foolish to
split us up. We’d iust be lost in
the mob instead of being avail-
able for special iobs needing a
big punch.”
That ended our general
conversation. I gave Braddock
the position and, from 5000
feet, we climbed fast - we were
within a few miles of the fight-
ing front.
The British and American
Armies were advancing slowly.
It was a grim and costly busi-
ness because of the Germans’
savage resistance. In front of
our troops was the obstacle of
the Rhine.
I had heard it said that the
Rhine would be as much a bar
to the progress of our armies
as was the English Channel to
the Germans in 1940. This was
probably an exaggeration, but
there was no doubt it was a
very formidable obstacle.
There were many bridges
over the Rhine. It was known
that Hitler, the German leader,
had ordered that all of them
should be destroyed after his
troops had withdrawn across
the river.
It was through a break in
the clouds that I presently
established our position. We
were nearly over Coblenz, the
city which lies on the eastern
side of the Rhine. We were in
Tiger country again.
Braddock fixed his gaze on a
spot to the north-east.
“ Yanks!” he exclaimed at
the sight of numerous specks
in the sky. “ Their targets were
at Frankfurt. They’re on the
way back.”
We screamed towards the
formation of Flying Fortresses
and Liberators, the heavy
bombers of the U.S. Army Air
Force that were based in Britain.
They were escorted by swarms
of Mustangs.
At that time the aircrews had
more to fear from anti-aircraft
fire than from fighters.
On New Year’s Day, the
German Fighter Command had.
made a disastrous mistake.
Goaded into fury by our
constant air attacks, they had
swung over to the offensive and
raided our bases in Belgium
and France on a large scale.
But, thanks to some good
reconnaissance work by Matt
Braddock, the R.A.F. and U.S.
A.A.F. had been forewarned
and were ready for the big raid.
As a result, 500 German
planes and pilots had been lost.
This blow had greatly
reduced the enemy’s fighter
attacks against the bombing
raids of the U.S.A.A.F. by day
and the R.A.F. by night. But
the Tigers might still tip the
scales the other way. No amount
of escorts could stop them.
Their speed could carry them
through every time.
We were about two miles
from the formation, at 25,000
feet when Braddock switched
on his sight and flicked the
safety-catch up.
At the same instant he made a
violent change of course, and
slammed open the throttle. I
received a shove in the
back from the violence of the
acceleration as the Mosquito
hurtled forward.
“Tiger!” he rapped. “It’s
having a crack at the Forts.”
Smoke guided my gaze to the
middle of the formation. Then
I saw a small aircraft streaking
among the "Big Boys” with
its guns blazing.
Too fast to be intercepted by
the Mustangs, the Tiger had
dived at the bombers from
astern and was going through
them like a hot knife through
A hard-hit Fortress dropped
out of the formation, trailing
Braddock was racing to
intercept the Tiger, to cut it
The Rover - 6th Jan 1960 - Page 10
off ahead of the bomber feet.
Our Mosquito had a top
speed of over 400 miles an hour.
We were right up to it. The
chief impression of speed came
from the noise and the rate at
which the other aircraft grew
“ The German has got
another,” snarled Braddock.
He’s downed aLiberator . . .”
I knew that even if we
intercepted the jet plane it
could only be for a split second.
Its tremendous speed would
carry it out of our range.
The betting was on the
German getting away. With any
pursuer other than Braddock
he would have vamoosed clean
away into the empty sky.
As the Tiger came streaking
away from the formation,
Braddock prepared to fire.
If he fired just too soon the
German would get away. When
guns were fired, the recoil
acted on the plane like a brake.
We were at a wide deflection
angle, and at a range of several
hundred yards, when Braddock
pressed the trigger button.
Our cluster of four 20-mm.
guns flamed. The recoil caused
the Mosquito to shudder.
Bits flew from the high tail-
plarie of the Tiger and it
wobbled in flight before it went
into a tremendous spin. Its
nose went down. Braddock
dived after it, on full power.
I felt as if I were being
punched round a boxing ring
as our Mosquito jolted and
The Tiger started to break
up. It must have been near the
speed of sound in its dive and
the terrible stresses were more
than it could stand.
One of the stubby wings came
away and fluttered like a leaf.
The Tiger became a ball of
lurid smoke as it dropped.
It was a fact that a Mosquito,
made of balsa wood, fabric,
glue and tiny screws, withstood
the colossal strain of high speed
combat better than all metal
Braddock was the supreme
marksman of the air.

OUR base was at Vigny, an
aerodrorne near Brussels.
We were a few miles away when
Braddock looked at a distant dot
in the sky.
“Well, we shall soon know
our fate,” he said gruffiy.
‘ I don’t get it,” I admitted.
‘ Can’t you see Nolan Har-
land’s plane ?” demanded
“ I haven’t eyes like tele-
scopes,” I retorted.
Braddock chuckled.
“ It’s the old Hurri,” he
True enough, it was an early
model of the Hurricane fighter
that was heading for Vigny.
The air vice-marshal used it as
his means of getting about.
He lost height in a controlled
side-slip and landed just in
front of us.
We shared Vigny with an
American squadron of
Thunderbolts. At first, we had
not seen eye to eye with the

Yanks, but an end had been put
to that when we joined forces
in a battle against the enemy.
An American sergeant got
on to the wing of the Hurricane
and gave the usual assistance
to the pilot.
I saw the look of astonish~
merit on his face. Nolan Har-
land had a patch over a sightless
eye. He also had a maimed hand
and two artiffcial legs. He had
been shot down twice in I940,
when commanding a squadron
of Blenheim bombers and been
terribly injured. The controls
of the old Hurricane were
adapted for him.
“ I’ll give you a hand, suh !”
exclaimed the sergeant.
“Eh ?” snapped Harland.
“ I can manage myself,
Sergeant. I’rn not a cripple.”
Slowly, stiffly, painfully, he
got down by himself. He did
allow himself the aid of a stick.
He looked at the strips of
fabric hanging from our gun
“ Have you been Tiger
shooting?” he asked.
“ Yes, sir,” Braddock
answered. “ We knocked up
against one near Coblenz.”
You could hear Harland’s
legs creak as he walked. Major
Leroy, the American C.O.,
rushed out to receive him.
"' If I’d known you were
coming you would have been
properly received, sir !” he
“ I’m satisfied with things
as they are, Major,” retorted
Harland. “ I’ve come for a
conference with Braddock and
then I’m going to invite myself
to lunch in your mess.”
This plainly gave pleasure
to Leroy. We walked. slowly
towards the operations block.
Harland had heard, just
before he left London, that the
American First Army had made
some progress in battering a
way through the outer defences
of Cologne, the capital of the
Rhineland. .
Then he glanced at Braddock.
“ Seems a long time since
the Thousand Bomber Raid,”
he remarked. '
“A very long time,” said
On the night of May 30,
1942, when the war was going
very badly for us, and all the
news was black, an electrifying
thing happened.
The R.A.F. raided Cologne
with 1130 aircraft. People could
hardly believe it, but it had a
terriffc effect on morale.
“ What were you flying that
night, Braddock ?” asked
“ I had a Lancaster,”
chuckled Braddock, who had
been flying Bomber Com-
mand’s Heavies at that time.
“ That was a dangerous night—~
from the point of view of
collisions !”
Harland grinned. In order
to make it a Thousand Bomber
Raid, machines of Coastal
Command and even trainers
had been used.
“ I was there in a Welling—,
ton,” he said. “I dunno that
We did a greatl deatl of damage
but it certainly boosted our
Well, nearly three years had
elapsed since that historic
night and the war was not over.
Leroy left us. We went into
a room in the operations block.
Harland lost his grin. '
“ Braddock,” he snarled,
Force H is to be broken up
"I was afraid you had come to
tell us so,” Braddock said
harshly “ but what’s the sense
of it?
"There’s no sense in it at
all,” rapped Harland. “ I’ve
fought tooth and nail to try to
stop it, but I can’t get a reprieve.
The two men who might have
helped us have gone to America
for a Chiefs of Staff
Harland and Braddock ex-
changed looks of complete
At that time the R.A.F. had
so many aircrews that training
had been slowed right down.
Indeed, there were crews who
had been taken off flying
altogther and others that would
never fly on operations.
Mass production had done
its work splendidly. There were
crews galore to man the great
air fleets.
“ I argued that in these days
of mass raids there was as great
a need as ever for the small
specialist force capable of
searching out the tricky targets,
but for all the attention I
gained I might have been shout-
ing into space,” snapped Har-
land. “ They just wouldn’t
listen to me at the Air Ministry.
It makes me furious that pilots
like Clem Jagger and yourself
are going to be lost in a crowd.”
He referred to Clem Jagger,
V.C., Who came nearer to
Braddock’s standard than any
other pilot I knew. Mike Moss,
who had a moustache like a
flourishing hair fern, was
another pilot of outstanding
One of our very few
pilots with commissions was
Flying Officer “ Wink ”
Winkell, grabbed by Braddock
from a squadron of Lancaster
bombers because of exceptional
flying skill. Altogether, there
were a dozen crews in Force H
and, without shooting a line,
we were aces.
Anger glared from Harland’s
single eye.
“ The last officer with whom
I disputed the matter said that,
in his opinion, you had done
enough and that it was time
you had a rest,” he stormed. “ I
couldn’t get it into his head that
fellows like you wouldn’t be
able to rest until the Germans
were licked.”
Braddock nodded grimly.
“ I was in at the start,” he
said, “ and, if I last long
enough, I want to be in at the

OUR last day on operations
was to be March 8. After
that we were to leave the Tiger-
hunting to the Meteors.
It was a stormy morning
with unbroken clouds and rain
squalls, but the weather fore-
cast predicted some improve-
The news was that our armies
were close to the Rhine and
the Germans were destroying
the bridges. I had myself seen
landing craft being carried
towards the front on trans-
porters for use in attempting
the Rhine crossing.
Braddock was missing when
I entered our mess hut for
breakfast, but he usually got
up before anyone else. It was
my bet that he was in the
operations room getting up-to-
date with the war in the air.
Mike Moss came in with a
gloomy air.
“ The prisoner ate a hearty
breakfast,” he remarked in an
obvious reference to the im-
pending execution of Force H.
Clem Jagger raised a grin.
“ Don’t be so sure about the
hearty breakfast,” he said.
“ I’m iust wondering what they
put in the sausages.”
“ You can keep the sausages,”
retorted Mike. “ Stick them in
your bomb bay and use them.
to prang the Jerries. I'm going
to have spam.”
Braddock soon came in. He
was wearing an American cap
of the baseball type. It had a
long peak and he liked it.
After hanging the cap on a
nail he came over to the table.
“ Wc’rc going on ops at
thirteen hundred hours,” he
remarked. “ We’ll make another
attack on the Tigers’ lair just
in case the Germans are trying
to bring it back into use.”
“ I’ve an idea,” said Mike.
“Why not spare a couple of
planes to go and bomb the Air
Ministry ?”
Braddock grinned fleetingly.
“ That’s not a bad notion,”
he said.
Wink chipped in.
“ I often think we should’ve
won the war a lot easier with
much less organisation and red
tape,” he growled.
Braddock slammed a hand
on the table.
“We haven’t won the war
yet,” he snapped, “though I
agree with you about the red
tape.” . .
He dug his spoon into a plate
of porridge and lapsed into a
glum silence.
I asked myself if the R.A.F.
could afford to put such a pilot
on the shelf or merge him into
a squadron engaged in mass
raids in which his genius would

The Rover - 6th Jan 1960 - Page 11
be lost. Had the time come
when only numbers counted?
Evidently, there were men at
the Air Ministry, with power
in their hands, who thought so.
At 1300 hours—1.00 p.m.—-
we were in the first Mosquito
to take off from Vigny. Brad-
dock had chosen our code—sign.
It was Tumbrel.
I expect you know, that
persons who were to be
executed at the time of the
French Revolution were taken
to the guillotine in heavy carts
called tumbrels.
As the ground fell away, I
wondered if it were my last
operational flight with Brad-
dock? If so, would our luck
hold? I knew of many crews
who had not returned from the
final flight of a tour of opera-
But, as soon as Braddock
demanded the course, I
concentrated on the task in
The clouds were breaking
up. There were still solid
masses, but there were gaps
between them. We flew at
10,000 feet
The plan was for us to take a
look at the dromes from which
the Tigers had been operating
in considerable numbers. If
Braddock decided on a second
raid we should whistle up the
bombers. .
Through a wide gap in the
clouds we saw smoke rising
from a burning town. We were
passing over a region in which
tremendous battles had been
It gave me a landmark and
I checked our course. We were
going to cross the Rhine be~
tween the cities of Coblenz
and Bonn.
We flew into the clouds again.
Braddock broke a long silence.
“ Where are we ?” he asked.
“ We shall cross the Rhine
in two minutes,” I answered.
The cold mist gave way to
clear sky as we burst out of
the clouds, I looked down and
saw the Rh.ine like a silver
thread. The streets of a small
town were visible.
Braddock’s voice came
sharply over the inter-com.
“ W/here’s that ?” he
“Remagen,” I replied.
“ The bridge is still stand-
ing,” he rapped.
I looked down hard. It did
appear that the river bridge
was still intact.
“ It seems to be,” I said.
“ It may only look like it, of
course !”
His capacity to think fast
had never been more clearly
displayed. He had sighted the
bridge at a distance difficult
for average eyesight and had
instantly seized on its signifi-
“ We’ll soon find out l” he
He pressed the transmitter
on the radio box.
“ This is Tumbrel leader,”
he said sharply. “Orbit
Remagen until you hear from
me again. It looks as if the
bridge hasn’t been blown up.”
Then he pushed the stick
forward and we dived. The
ground rose towards us as at a
tremendous speed. Details took
form swiftly.
The wide Rhine flowed be-
tween hills. It was spanned by
the Rernagen railway bridge,
a massive steel structure
several hundred yards in length.
A great arch formed the central
“It seems to be in one
piece,” Braddock declared.
“ Maybe the Yanks have got
here,” I said, for we knew that
the American tst Army was
pushing forward in the locality.
“ They hadn’t captured the
bridge when we took off",”
retorted Braddock.
We did not go straight for
the bridge. Braddock pulled
out of the dive to the north
and turned over the river. He
flew just above the water
towards the bridge.
I saw gun flashes from the
eastern bank.
“ Flak !” I gasped. “ They’re
shooting at us !’
I looked ahead. The bridge
appeared to be intact.’ The
main span had not been dis-
lodged. There were no traces
of an explosion.
Braddock uttered a yell and
I saw a. small group of soldiers
in German uniform attaching
something to the steelwork of
the main span.
Braddock fired and our
tracer bullets went streaking
towards the Germans. They fell
away. At least one of them
dropped into the river.
We flew under the bridge. As
soon as we were clear Braddock
pulled the stick back and we
“What were they doing ?”
I demanded.
“I reckon they were fixing
fuses, and charges,” Braddock
replied. “ George, we’ve got
to stop the Jerries from blow-
ing up the bridge.”

BRADDOCK used the radio
telephone. “ Leader to
Tumbrel!” he exclaimed. “ The
bridge is intact. It is now our
objective to prevent the Ger-
mans from blowing it up.
Fighters will maintain a patrol
over the bridge. Bombers take
on the batteries when they start
“ Roger !” '
We heard Mike’s voice
acknowledging the order and
a few moments later spotted a
plane as he dived.
He fired at a number of
Germans who were running
along the railway line towards
the bridge on the eastern side
of the river.
' Again we flew under the
bridge in our swoop at a boat
chugging up the river. I saw
men throwing themselves into
the water as our guns blazed.
The boat was on fire as we
pulled away. Then, with a
sudden dazzling flash, it ex-
ploded and sank.
“ That was more than its
petrol going pop!” I exclaimed.
“It was carrying explosives,
There appeared to be no
doubt that the Germans had
left the bridge intact through a
miscalculation. It was later
discovered that orders had been
given to blow up the bridge at
four o’clock. We had arrived
shortly after 2.00 and by that

time the American vanguard
was approaching the town.
The next thing that happened
was an attempt by a German
heavy battery to destroy the
bridge by shelling it. There
were shell bursts near the
structure and the railway build-
ings at the eastern end.were
The guns were situated
behind a ridge about two miles
away from the town. Clem led
the attack on them and
plastered the position with
Mike’s cannon turned an
armoured car into a smoking
wreck as it made a dash along
the river bank road towards
the bridge.
He was fired at by machine-
guns and quickfirers on the
banks and left the scene of
action with holes in the fuselage
and tailplane.
Braddock spotted a file of
infantry making a cautious
approach towards the bridge
along the side of the, railway
on the western bank.
" Here come the Yanks,
George,” he shouted. “We’ll
cover them as they cross the
We saw two Americans run
on to the bridge. They dis-
connected other fuses and
charges before a company of
infantry advanced and took
over the defence of the bridge.
Braddock made a, longer
sweep to the west and we saw
Allied tanks and masses of
infantry converging on
“ It’s okay,” he said. “We’ve
grabbed the bridge! I reckon
it’s one of the best jobs we’ve
ever done.”
We flew away but a note
about subsequent happenings
will be of interest. When the
news reached Allied Head-
quarters that the bridge had
been captured it was regarded
as a near miracle because the
enemy had destroyed all the
other Rhine bridges.
The Germans shelled the
bridge heavily but under the
cover of a powerful air
“umbrella,” the Americans
took strong forces of men and
The Rover - 6th Jan 1960 - Page 12
materials across to the eastern
bank and within 24 hours,
established a foothold and
bridgehead that had a great and
unexpected effect on the
strategy of the Allied campaign.

TWO mornings later, the air
crews of Force H assembled
in the briefing room at Vigny.
We were to be addressed by
Air Marshal P. L. T. Lumbard,
C. B. He was one of the officers
who had decided there was no
further use for us.
The air marshal had been
accorded the honours due to
his rank by the courteous
Americans. Braddock came to
the meeting with his tunic
unbuttoned and wearing his
baseball cap.
We stood as Lumbard
entered the room with a small
retinue of staff officers. He had
a florid complexion and a dark
moustache. His medal ribbons
extended to four rows. He had
an air of great importance.
“ It is my privilege to say a
few words to you,” he wuffed.
“ I am charged by the Air Staff
to congratulate you on your
special, service during the past
few months, culminating in the
capture of the Rernagen Bridge.
This, as no doubt you know,
has drawn some very favourable
comments from the_ C-in-C,
Land Forces. Now the time has
come for you to disperse . . .”
“Why?” asked a voice, the
voice of Braddock.
Lumbard coughed and re-
peated the words as if he had
not heard the interruption.
“ Now the time has come for
you to disperse,” he said.
“ I asked why,” interiected
Lumbard glowered at him.
“ I should be more disposed
to answer questions if you were
correctly dressed,” he snarled.
“ I’m a pilot, not a tai1or’s
dummy,” growled Braddock,
“ and I want to know why
Force H is being broken up ?”
There were exclamations of
surprise as Nolan Harland
walked round from behind the
screen placed in front of one
of the doors.
“ I’ve iust arrived from
London, sir,” he said as he
creaked forward. “ Your
decision has been reversed.
Force H isn’t to be dispersed.”
Lumbard puffed out his
cheeks. .
“ Oh ?” he snorted trucu-
lently, “ who says so ?”
Harland had the perfect
answer and I shall never forget
his leer as he replied. .
“ The Prime Minister, I
presume,” he said. “ The order
comes from the War Cabinet.”

Lumbard blinked. He
coughed and spluttered. He had
been having a lovely time
throwing his weight about.
Now he had received a knock-
out from the highest level. It
was quite evident he was afraid
he had got into trouble with the
War Cabinet, and it only
needed a word from that level
for officers of the highest rank
to find themselves unemployed.
He changed his tune. He told
us how pleased he was that
there had been a change of
policy, and left almost im-
Braddock chuckled gruffly.
“ He seems to have caught his
foot in something and fallen
flat on his face,” he chuckled.
Harland regarded us with a
twisted grin. I
“It was the Remagen busi-
ness that led to the War
Cabinet decision,” he said.
"The news of your feat arrived
just as a matter of very great
importance was being discussed.
Force H has a new mission. In
brief, it is to prevent Hitler
and his Nazis from prolonging
the war indefinitely.”

ON the following morning,
after a long flight, Brad-
dock and I were flying over the
snow-capped heights and the
frozen lakes of -the Bavarian
Alps. It was a grim region.
Btaddock’s voice twanged in
the phones.
“ You can see what Harland
meant !” he exclaimed. “ A few
men could hold up armies, and
bombs would only knock a few

chips off the mountains.”
“Yes, it’s another Switzer-
land,” I said tensely, “ and
even Hitler never dared to
invade Switzerland.”
Braddock shifted the stick
and brought us swinging round.
Alarming information had
reached the War Cabinet.
With the Allied armies over
the Rhine and the Russians
advancing in the East, it
appeared that the end of the
war was only a matter of time.
Now there was evidence that
the Nazis had a plan to establish
a great fortified region in the
Bavarian Alps, to which
thousands of SS troopers would
be withdrawn and which might
be held indefinitely.
These last-stage troops called
themselves the “ Werewolves.”
They were certainly wolves of
Nolan Harland had been told
to use Force H to stop the
Nazis from developing this
plan. This meant hindering
them in every possible way,
seeking out their landing strips,
their secret arms dumps, their
battery sites and bolt holes.
Braddock spotted something,
a movement on a mountain-
side, and down we went in a
We dived through a cloud
and emerged in a narrow valley
hemmed in by precipitous cliffs.
A hundred feet from the base
of a cliifthere was a ledge. On
this ledge tackle had been
erected. At the moment when
we dived into the valley a
Bofors gun hung in space as
it was being hauled up on to
the ledge.
Hardly had I obtained a
glimpse of what was going on
than our guns flamed. Men on
the ledge scattered as our
shells burst among them.
The Bofors dropped like a
stone into the valley.
With its engines roaring,
the Mosquito hung on its
propellers and climbed.
“ Good shooting,” I blurted
out. “ It was no fairy story,
Brad! The Werewolves are
making a fortress.”
“ Ay, and we shall have our
work cut out to stop them,”
Braddock answered harshly.
“ The weather’s reasonable
today for a wonder, but most
of the time we’ll be up against
clouds over the mountains,
mist-filled valleys and snow-
storms. There’s a hard time

Next week, the sparks fly when
Matt Braddock and his ace
flyers strike at the Wolves of
War - using a new weapon to
penetrate their mountain strong-



The Rover from May 21st 1960 for 25 issues



Picture - The Rover May 21st 1960 - page 2

Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories



The Rover - May 21st 1960 - page 2
THE moonlight shone faintly through the mist as
three canoes crept up the wide Gironde River in
France on an October night in l94l. Two hours previ-
ously, before the moon came up, we had put away from
a submarine that had surfaced in the Bay of Biscay.
We were engaged in a raid of an unusual character. Our
purpose was to steal a Big Bad Wulf, a Focke Wulf Kondor long-
range bomber, from the Germans, who were then occupying
Keeping near to the south
bank, We paddled along in our
fragile plywood canoes.
We had survived a rough
passage in very choppy water
when we entered the wide
estuary. There were two men
in each canoe. With the
exception of our guide, who
was French, we all belonged
to the Royal Air Force.
In the leading canoe were
Sergeant Pilot Matt Braddock,
who was in charge of the raid,
and Corporal Maurice Joubert,
a young French soldier who
was a native of the city of
Bordeaux, 75 miles up the
river. He had come with us
from England and was the
My companion was Sergeant
“ Ticker” Tait, and he was a
radio operator. I’m Sergeant
George Bourne and I had
flown as Matt Braddock’s
navigator since the summer of
I940. I shall have much more
to say about his career very
The sergeants in the third
craft of our flimsy fleet were
Archie Stanhope, a bomb
aiimm, and Ian Wallace, a
The Big Bad Wulf was the
nickname given the Focke
Wulf 200. the giant Kondor,
the long-distance aircraft
employed by the Germans as a
commerce raider and helper
of the ‘U’-boats.
One of the bases used by the
Big Bad ‘Wulfs was Merignac,
the aerodrome of Bordeaux.
Merignac was our obiective. It
was from there that, if all went
well, we should fly away in a
We were skimming towards a
slight bend in the river where
a spit of sand stuck out into
the stream when Braddock and
Joubert ceased paddling. The
former held up his paddle in a
warning signal. It showed quite
clearly against the sky. We
glided together, forming a
“ There’s a big ship coming
down the river,” Braddock
whispered. “ It’s lucky for us
that we hadn’t rounded the
Joubert stared into the haze.
“ I do not think there is a
ship,” he muttered.
“ I'm sure there is,” Brad-
dock retorted. “ I can see the
mast head now.”
He pointed away over the
spit. No one else could see the
mast, but, knowing Braddock,
I took his word for it. He had
astonishing eyesight. His
pupils were wider than those
of a normal man and his vision
was extraordinary.
Braddock was a rugged
character with tremendous,
stamina. When I first met him
he had already been awarded
the Distinguished Flying Medal
for bombing and destroying a
vital bridge during the retreat
to Dunkirk.
Our first missions together
had been in Blenheim bombers
in day and night raids on the
barges that the Germans were
then assembling with the idea
of invading Britain.
Gradually, I found out quite
a few details about him.
A native of Walsall, he had
been employed as a fitter in
what was called a shadow
factory making aero engines.
After falling out with the fore-
man he had become a steeple-
Failing to get into the
R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve at
his first attempt, he had learned
to fly at his own expense.
He flew operationally from
the first day of the war, and had
chosen bombers because their
purpose was to attack the
enemy. Fighters were defensive
and did not tally with his
aggressive temperament.
Something like a couple of
minutes passed before we heard
the slow beat of the propellers.
“ You were right, Brad, there
is a ship,” said Archie Stanhope.
“Keep your voice down,
you’re not at a football match,”
Braddock growled.
“ Here it comes,” I breathed.
as a huge, dark shadow emerged
from the other side of the spit
and loomed up against the sky.
I suppose the ship was two
or three hundred yards away,
but we distinctly heard a sharp
command and the bell of the
engine-room telegraph.
Braddock gave us a warning.
“Be ready for the wash,”
he hissed. -
We hurriedly turned our
bows in the direction of the
ship and it was a good thing
We did. I heard the hiss of foam
and then the canoe I shared.
with Ticker nearly stood on
end as the waves created by
the ship caught us.
Icy spray whipped our faces.
The rough water tossed our
flimsy canoe about as if it were
a twig. The turbulence lasted
for three or four minutes and
was really severe.
I left it to Ticker to keep our
bow to the Waves for we were
in danger of sinking. We had
tied our baling tin to a cord
so that We could lay our hands
on it in the darkness. I baled
vigorously and we kept afloat.
When I had time to snatch a
look round, I was relieved to
see the shapes of the other
two canoes. Baling was going
on in each of them.
We drifted together. Joubert
spoke to us urgently.
“ We must get on the move.
We must not be late at the
rendezvous!” he exclaimed.
“ It would be dangerous for
the fishermen who await us
to hang about.”
The plan was for us to be
picked up by some fishermen
who were in the resistance
movement and be taken to
Bordeaux in their motor—boat.
We paddled hard, moving in
line ahead. A hum in the sky
to westward developed into a
roar. A big aircraft was coming
in from the sea.
In the direction of Bordeaux
a searchlight was exposed. Its
beam swung until it was in a
vertical position and then
remained stationary. Obviously
it was an aid in homing the
“ It’s a very heavy plane,”
Ticker Tait muttered.
“ Yes, too heavy for a Heinkel
or Dornier,” I said. “ I should
say it’s a Big Bad Wulf coming
in after a patrol.”
It had been discovered that
the Kondors were taking off
from Stavanger in Norway and
flying north of the British Isles
and out over the Atlantic in
search of our convoys of
merchant ships.
They were a double threat
to our life-line across the
The Rover - May 21st 1960 - page 3
Atlantic. They bombed the
ships and also reported their
whereabouts to the U-boats.
Having completed such a
mission, a machine would fly
on to land at Merignac, in
France, and there be prepared
for the return flight.
The plane roared over us
fairly low. We saw its shape
against the sky.
We had heard all about the
Kondors when a Wing Com-
mander Sankey had come along
to our Bomber Command
station in Lincolnshire, from
which we were flying Hampden
bombers, to lecture on the
Work of Coastal Command.
He had spoken about the
Gap, an Atlantic area south of
Greenland, where our convoys
were suffering many losses
from U-boats, largely because
no air cover could be provided
by our planes.
He stressed the point that
we did not possess an aircraft
with the range to cover the
Gap, even if flying from Ice-
land. In a wistful sort of way,
he had remarked that if we
possessed a machine with the
range of a Big Bad Wulf it
would save ships and lives. Up
spoke Braddock.
“ Why don’t we go and grab
one?” he demanded.
Our raid was the direct
result of that question. You
see, Braddock was taken at his
word. He had thrown out an
idea that the wing commander
had seized on eagerly.
A month had passed since
Braddock spoke. There had
been a great deal of organising
to do. "

NEARLY two hours passed,
then a. searchlight lit up the
river. Aimed from the bridge
of a German patrol launch, it
showed up the fishing boat in
which we were hiding under a
tarpaulin sheet. We had made
our rendezvous with the French
fishermen on their boat and had
sunk our canoes.
The skipper of the fishing
boat was a wrinkled old man
named Hugot. He had a one-
man crew consisting of his son,
Jacques, who was a thick-set
fellow of thirty or thereabouts.
The German patrol launch
sped towards us. Jacques shut
the throttle so that the engine
ticked over. Hugot spat over
the side and muttered to him-
self. How they hated the
Boche! That was the name
they always used for the
If any sort or search were
made of the fishing boat, our
discovery was certain, but a
plan had been made.
Leaving a foaming wake, the
launch closed in. It was armed
with a quick-firer and two
machine-guns and had a crew
of ten.
As the roar of its motor died
away, Hugot put a hand in the
fish basket containing the
catch, grasped a codling by its
tail and held it up.
“Ach! Have you made a
good catch?” bellowed the lead-
mg petty offfcer who com-

manded. the German launch.
Hugot shrugged.
“ I can spare a few for you,”
he responded as the launch
drifted alongside.
He tossed the codling across
and the other Germans laughed
when it landed on a seaman’s
chest. Jacques used both hands
to toss a sizeable skate aboard
the launch and followed it with
a small conger eel.
There was never any fear of
the Germans searching the
fishing boat. The leading petty
officer expressed gruff thanks
for the fish and the launch was
soon speeding away.
Bordeaux was too far away
for the journey to be completed
that night. Just as it was getting
light, the boat nosed through
an expanse of reeds into a
shallow creek.
There, well hidden by the
reeds and willows, was an old
boathouse. With the exception
of Joubert, who had a very
vital appointment to keep, the
members of the raiding party
were to get off the fishing boat
and spend the daylight hours
in the former sail loft.
Joubert, who wore a beret
and civilian clothes, was going
on to Bordeaux with the fisher-
men Who, of course, had their
catch to land. .
The day» passed without any
serious alarms. Speaking for
myself, I spent most of it
catching up with lost sleep.
After our evening meal We
heard a whistle. I lifted my
head cautiously and looked out
of the window.
“ It’s Joubert !” I exclaimed
as I saw the young Frenchman
picking his Way carefully along
the narrow, swampy edge of the
creek .
“ What’s he going to tell
us?” muttered Braddock.
Jouhert made his way up
the slipway, entered the boat-
house and climbed the creaking
“ I came back along the
road,” he said. “ I met an old
friend and got a lift in a farm
“ Have you seen Pieter?”
Braddock demanded eagerly.
“ Yes, I’ve seen Pieter,” the
Frenchman, answered. “He
said a Kondor will be ready
for you to fly away,” said

AT four o'clock in the morning
we waited for the man called
Pieter among the sand dunes
at Merignac on the seaward
side of Bordeaux.
The aerodrome, its marker
beacons twinkling, was only a
short distance away. The oil
flares of the flare-path had been
extinguished after being lit
earlier on when two Junkers
88’s had come in to land. The
Junkers 88s were fast, twin-
engined aircraft which patrolled
over the Bays of Biscay.
We had waded ashore from
the boat and Joubert had led
us to the spot where we were
to await Pieter.
Standing on top of the dunes
nearby was a leading mark for
river traffic. It consisted of a tall
pole with two cross-pieces. The

plan was that we should wait
near it for Pieter to locate us.
We knew very little about the
man called Pieter. Apparently
he was a Pole. At the time when
the Germans invaded Poland,
he was a sergeant mechanic in
the Polish Air Force.
Poland, of course, had been
overwhelmed with sickening
brutality by the armoured
legions of the Germans. Then,
it seemed, Pieter joined the
German Air Force as a
mechanic, getting away with
his deception because he could
speak German fluently.
Pieter. first came to the notice
of British Intelligence during
the Battle of Britain when a
German bomber crashed in
Kent but did not catch fire.
When it was examined, some
words written in Polish were
found on the rudder. The
translation ~ was “ This aero-
plane will not return.” The
signature was the letter “ P ”
enclosed in a diamond.
Subsequently, other crashed
German planes were found
marked in the same way.
Information of great value
started to come through and
eventually contact with Pieter
was established. At the time
when Braddock asked the
question, “Why don’t we go
and grab one?” Pieter was
already at Merignac.
A dim figure rose into view
by the leading mark. Braddock
stood and gave a low call.
Pieter trudged through the
soft sand towards us. He was
carrying a ponderous wrench
and wore a German forage
cap and overalls.
He was short and thick-set,
with dark hair and a sallow
complexion. His manner was
curt and he spoke good English
with a guttural accent.
“ I am Pieter. Who are
you?” he asked.
“ Matt Braddock !”
Pieter held out his hand.
“ It is a good name,” he said
gruffly. “ Have you a full
"There are five of us,”
stated Braddock.
“ You will need me,” Pieter
replied. “ I shall fly as the
“ Good!” said Braddock.
“ You have a plane waiting
for us?”
“Yes, it should have taken
off at midnight on an Atlantic
patrol,” answered Pieter. “ The
fuel tanks were filled, the bombs
loaded. It was then discovered
that there was a defect in the
radio. I was not surprised. I had
made the defect. The machine
is ready to take-off. Come
We plodded along behind
him and came to the fence
surrounding the aerodrome.
Several strands of barbed wire
had been snipped through,
“ What about the sentries ?”
Braddock whispered.
Pieter pointed down. A
German sprawled, face down-
wards on the ground.
“ He was a sentry,” he
answered grimly, raising his
ponderous wrench.
We stood in the shadow of
The Rover - May 21st 1960 - page 4
the Big Bad Wulf. It towered
above us like the side of a
house. In a long “blister”
under the fuselage were cannon
and bombs.
The machine stood on a
concrete track connected with
the runway and was not more
than two hundred yards from
the control tower and hangars.
‘Merignac airfield was pro-
tected by the guns of a light
anti—aircraft battery outside the
perimeter. Inside the drome
there were four or five machine
gun posts.
Work was going on in the
two big hangars. We heard
hammering and the scream of
Before entering the drome,
Braddock and Pieter had held a
discussion about starting the
engines. The latter had a
starter—truck by the Kondor.
He had left a message at the
Watch Office that the engines
would be started up on test
at about 4 a.m.
Pieter climbed a flight of
steps and opened the door in
the fuselage. We followed in
It was essential now for
Braddock to master the controls
and that called for a session of
cockpit drill. He went forward
with Pieter to the large cockpit.
The latter switched on the
instrument lights.
It was the first time I had
been in the “ office ” of so big
an aircraft and it was an
impressive sight.
The main instrument panel
extended the full width of
the cockpit and was an in~
tricate mass of dials and
switches. The controls-—the
throttles, mixture levers and
propeller pitch handles—were
in a central stand between the
pilot’s and co-pilot’s seats.
In front of this stand was
the block containing the auto-
matic pilot apparatus with many
knobs and switches. Behind
the seats was the engineer’s
space with more dials, knobs
and switches.
“ Right, let’s find out where
things are,” muttered Brad-
dock. “ The arrangement is
different from any plane I have
flown before.”
He entered into a technical
discussion with Pieter.
My task at that moment was
to acquaint myself with the
navigator’s instruments. I
found that my position was in a
small, open compartment at
the side of the cockpit. The
compass, air-speed indicator,
altimeter and other instruments
were arranged in an unfamiliar
pattern but showed up boldly.
When it came to the take-off,
everything would depend on
Braddock’s ability to handle a
huge and unfamiliar machine.
He would have to fly straight
away. He would not be able
to taxi the machine to and fro,
as would have been the usual
procedure to get the feel of
the controls.
Time was running short.
There were streaks of light in
the east.’ Dawn was approach-
Braddock moved the control
column backwards and forwards
and from side to side. With his.
feet, he tested the rudder bar.
“ Right, Pieter,” _ he said.
“ Start up’ the engines! I’m
ready to go !”

SOON afterwards, three
engines were roaring. The
din was terrific. It must have
disturbed many of the Germans
in the nearby huts.
Lights gleamed in the control
I stood by the starter-truck
with its cluster of heavy-duty
batteries. Pieter connected the
power cable to the plane.
Everybody else was in the plane.
From the cockpit, Braddock
gave me the thumbs-up sign
and I pressed the starter switch.
The fourth propeller began to
turn, but the engine was not
firing properly.
Pieter stood by me. He
seemed to be grinding his
teeth. He banged his hands
together in sheer exasperation.
The propeller continued to
Whizz round and round, but
the fourth engine would not
I jerked my head round. In
the dim grey light I saw figures
moving near the control tower.
I pointed them out to Pieter.
One engine on test would
not have attracted attention,
but the Kondor was making
such a racket that the Germans
had become suspicious at last.
Braddock’s head and
shoulders appeared in the side
window of the cockpit. He
gestured to us to shift the
chocks, pointing down towards
the wheels.
Pieter uncoupled the power
“ The plane is very heavy,”
he yelled. “ It will not take-off?"
with a dead engine !”.
“He’ll have a darned good
try,” I screeched. “ Come on!
Move the chocks.”
Careful to avoid the spinning

propeller of the starboard inner
engine, I got under the wing,
seized the handle of the massive
chock and dragged it away.
I shot a glance at Pieter. He
heaved the other chock clear
of the wheels. A running
German-—-the Watch Officer—-
was coming up, pistol in hand.
Pieter thrust a hand under
his overalls. He drew out an
automatic pistol and fired. The
German spun round and
pitched on to the concrete, but
others were within fifty yards
or so of the plane.
We ran round to the doorway.
Ian Wallace, wearing earphones
linked to the inter-com, gave
Braddock the okay as we
scrambled in.
Braddock released the brakes.
The huge aircraft lumbered
into movement, scattering the
troopers and mechanics who
were close up.
I followed Pieter through the
door in the forward bulkhead
into the cockpit.
Braddock had a load of some-
thing like 30 tons to get into
the air. The runway was barely
long enough for four-engined
machines to take off, even
when on full power.
Braddock turned on to the
runway. Pieter had rammed on
his phones and crouched over
his instruments, exchanging
comments with the pilot. I put
my phones on.
Tracer bullets from a
machine-gun formed fiery
tracks across the runway. A
second gun on the other side of
the drome opened fire. A
rocket wooshed up from the
tower and burst in red stars.
Halfway along the runway
we seemed to be moving very
slowly. I reckoned that with
its full load of fuel and bombs,
the Kondor required a speed
of at least 90 miles an hour for
the take-off.
With the beacon that marked
the end of the runway in sight,
the ground speed on my
indicator was 78
“ You will not do it,” Pieter
rasped hoarsely. “ I am sorry
I failed you”
Braddock pulled the control
column back. The thump of
the wheels on the concrete
stopped. The motion became
At that moment we were air-
borne, but there was still a
risk that the great plane would
stall and crash. I felt a
dangerous shudder.
Braddock’s voice cut through
the whines and whistles of the
“ Wheels up!” he exclaimed.
“ We’ve done it !”
In the grey light of the dawn,
having gained a height of about
4ooo feet, we droned out to
sea. Visibility was hazy. I hoped
it would stay that way for you
could be sure that German
fighters would be sent in pursuit.
A shout from Braddock came
ringing over the inter-com.
“ Stand-by,‘ bomb airner !”
he exclaimed. “ I can see a
submarine on the surface!”
“.I’m still looking,” Archie
said. “ I can’t see a submarine.”
“ lt’s dead ahead now,”
snapped Braddock.
I can see it: Pieter cried.
“ It must be a U-boat returning
from the Atlantic.”
' A smudge in the haze took
form as a submarine. Judging
by the bow wave, and _its
spreading wake, 1t was moving
fast towards the estuary of
the Gironde.
The appearance of a Big
Bad Wulf did not alarm the
I heard a rumble and then
Braddock announced :
“Bomb doors open!”
“We’re dead on the line,”
Archie rapped as he looked
down through the bomb sight.
“ Steady! Steady!”
“ It’s going to dive,” Brad-
dock rapped. “They’ve seen
the bomb doors open and have
taken alarm.”
“ We’re not on yet,” Archie
We went drumming along.
There was a great swirl round
the U-Boat. The bows went
under the water.
Suddenly the Kondor gave
a leap, a sign that the bombs
had gone. Braddock put the
aircraft into a turn and I saw
spurts of foam as the bombs
struck the sea.
They formed a ring round
the U-Boat Which, except for
the top of the conning tower,
was by that time submerged:
Pieter uttered a scream of
triumph When, just afterwards,
we saw the whole length of
the U-Boat. It had been blown
to the surface by the explosions
and was heeling over on to its
starboard side.
It went under again and
when we saw the heads of a
few men bobbing up to the sur-
face, and a widening smear of
oil, we knew that on its first
flight with an R.A.F. crew the
Bad Wolf had claimed a

Can Braddock get his captured
plane back to England? You’ll
find the answer and more thrills
of the air war in next week’s
suspense-packed instalment.



The Rover and Adventure from Jan 21st 1961 for 17 issues



Picture - The Rover and Adventure Jan 21st 1961 - page 2

Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories

Rover and Adventure -
Jan 21st 1961
- Page 2
ON a damp misty morning in the autumn of 1942 a sergent-pilot
named Matt Braddock was at the controls of a Wellington flying
over the Thames Estuary. Though the aircraft was at 500 feet, it was im-
possible to see either the water or the Essex shore.
As a type, the Wellington, which
had the nickname of Wimpey, was a
twin-engined, long-distance bomber.
But the machine flown by Braddock
was not on a bombing mission.
It had an extraordinary appear-
ance, being fitted with a hoop that had a
diameter of 48 feet. The purpose of the
hoop was to explode German magnetic
From the navigator’s position I called
Braddock on the inter-com. I’m Sergeant
George Bourne, and I’d flown as his
navigator since the summer of I940.
“ As near as I can judge the yellow
buoy is a mile ahead,” I said.
The buoy had been laid by a motor
launch after coastal posts of the Royal
Observer Corps had reported that a
German mine-layer had been flying over
the area during the night.
“ Okay, navigator,” replied Braddock.
“ ‘We’l1 go down and look for it.”
“ Keep your blooming fingers crossed,”
muttered Chopper Harris, our rear gunner.
“ I wish daddy had taught me how to
swim,” sighed Ticker Tait, the radio
Braddock chuckled gruffly. The note of
the slipstream grew keener as he put the
nose down. A Wellington normally had a
crew of six, but we were not carrying a
second pilot or bomb-aimer.
Down through the “ duck soup,” to
use the R.A.F. description for murky
weather, glided the Wimpey. I could not
see where the curtain of mist ended, and
the water began.
To make sure the electrically-charged
hoop could explode a mine by interference
with its magnetic field, the Wellington
had to be flown at precisely thirty feet
above the Water.
This demanded the greatest steadiness
and skill by the pilot, for a Wimpey was
a big machine, having a wing span of
86 feet and a length of 64 feet.
Our Hercules motors popped during the
descent. I turned in my seat and looked
at Braddock. I could only see the back of
his head and his burly shoulders but, even
so, his attitude was soothing to edgy
nerves. His attitude could best be des-
cribed as relaxed but alert.
In three weeks we had touched off 12
magnetic mines. No other crew in the
squadron engaged on this work could
equal our score.
Lower and lower we drifted. Now there
Wasn’t a whisper on the inter—com.

BRADDOCK eased the stick
back. The nose rose. I saw
the foam on a wave pass under the
mcrehine. Braddock's head turned
from side to side. He made a slight
change of course.
I had a brief glimpse of a yellow buoy
from which a red flag was flying.
“ Course !” Braddock snapped.
“ Zero nine zero,” I rapped back.
My compass needle flickered and then
became steady. At thirty feet we flew along
and waited for the woosh !
When a mine exploded you did not hear
a bang. It was muffled by the water and
the noise of the engines.
Woosh !
“ Got it,” Chopper yelled.
He was the member of the crew who

saw a vast column of water and spray
rise from the sea nearly under the tail of
the plane.
Water tumbled on the aircraft and the
blast hit us. The Wimpey lurched and
vibrated - a wing dipped. Braddock
whipped the stick over and brought us
back onto an even keel.
Woosh !Woosh ! In a matter of seconds
two more mines were touched off and
threw up so much water it was like flying
through the bottom of Niagara. The
Wimpey gave a great shudder. Water
obliterated our vision.
Woosh! A fourth went off. The great
plane jolted as if in an air pocket. One of
the motors gave a terrific bang. But when
the torrents had subsided we were again
flying steadily on an even keel.
“ Are you all right, rear gunner ?”
Braddock demanded.
“ No,” growled Chopper, “ I’m bloom-
ing well soaked.”
Braddock chuckled gruffly.
“ I think that’s the lot. There was only
one mine-layer,” he said, and started to
He levelled out at 500 feet and started
to radio our report to base.
“ Fisherman to Nursery,” he rapped.
“ Four mines exploded. Am returning to
base. Over !”
We heard the voice of the Controller,
Flying-Offfcer Smeeth.
“ Nursery to Fisherman,” he drawled.
“ Are you sure you can count ? Aren’t you
overestirnating it a bit, old boy ?”
I heard Braddock draw an angry breath.
“Pass on the information that we’ve
touched off four mines,” he rapped, “ and
then stick your silly head under a cushion
and ask somebody to sit on it. Out !”
‘I gave Braddock the course for base.
I could tell he was still bristling. During
the whole time I’d flown with him I’d

Rover and Adventure -
Jan 21st 1961
- Page 3
never known him make an
unfounded claim. He was a
man who hated every type of
sham and was incapable of
“ line-shooting” to use the
R.A.F.’s effective phrase for
He came from near Walsall,
and his last job before the war
had been erecting the masts
at one of our new radar stations.
Because the Royal Air Force
Volunteer Reserve had refused
to take him, he had paid for
flying lessons.
Later he had got into the
Volunteer Reserve but had
been shot out again for treading
on the toes of his superiors.
However, when war broke out,
he was back again at once. He
could have gone to Fighter
Command but had chosen
bombers--because bombers hit
the enemy on their own ground.
Braddock wasn’t handsome.
He had a rugged, determined
face with an outstanding feature.
His eyes were distinctly larger
than those of an average man
and had an exceptional bril-
It was not so misty as we
flew away from the river and I
was able to pick out my land-
marks. The Welhngton purred
It was a great plane and
remarkable for its immense
strength of construction. The
surface was composed of panels
consisting of a criss-cross metal
framework like trellis over
which the fabric covering was
The machine had a range of
over 2000 miles, a maximum
speed of 255 miles an hour,
and a ceiling of 18,000 feet.
We approached the drome
and, in curt tones, the controller
gave us permission to land.
With the, large ring that was
fixed to the plane, landing was a
test of skill. I did not watch,
but busied myself in
putting my coloured pencils,
protractor, dividers, and course
and speed calculators into the
green canvas satchel that I had
as a navigator. It had a pocket
for the log and maps and also
contained our signal cartridges.
By the time I had the bag
packed the Wimpey was safely
down and taxi-ing in. As we
climbed out the ground crew
corporal smiled broadly and
turned up a thumb.
“ I’ve just heard you popped
four off!” he exclaimed.
“ It’s what we claim,” I
“It’s confirmed,” chuckled
he corporal. “ The Observer
Corps have reported it. That
gives us sixteen. Proper cricket
At the time we looked on the
flight as just another job, but
there was soon to be proof that
special notice had been taken in
high quarters of the pilot whose
precision flying under poor
conditions had exploded so
many mines.
Two days had passed when
Braddock’s name was called
on the tannoy, the loudspeaker
system. He was ordered to
report to the C.O., Squadron-
Leader Robertson.
Since we were not flying, and
Braddock could not stomach
mere hanging about, he had
been giving the engine fitters a
hand. He was wearing grimy
overalls and there were drips of
dirty oil all over his face and
On his Way to the admin.
buildings he encountered
Flight-Sergeant Thorpe. His
appearance vexed the old
“ You want to get tidied up
to meet the C.O.,” he snapped.
“ So long as my ears are
clean,” said Braddock, “ I can
hear what he says.”
The Squadron-Leader had a
frown as Braddock entered his
office, but it was not caused by
Braddock’s overalls and dirty
“You’re leaving here with
your crew, Sergeant,” he said
angrily. “ I tried to get the
order reconsidered, but it didn’t
do any good. You’re to report
to Number 9A Squadron, at
Leefield, Scotland.
“ You won’t have to face a
long train journey. A ferry
plane will pick you up this
Braddock was in a cheerful
mood when he rounded us up.
“We’re going back to an
operational squadron,” he an-
nounced amiably. “ Popping off
mines won’t win the war. The
only way to knock out the
Germans is to bornb 'em.”
THREE afternoons later
Braddock and I were
admitted to the briefing
station near the east coast
of Scotland. It was just
three o'clock.
There was something dis-
tinctly mysterious about the
order We’d received to report
at the briefing room at 15.00
We had known during the
morning that the two squadron:
one the station—they were both
Wellington squadrons-—were
going on a raid that night. The
station had been sealed off and
preparations made to fuel the
aircraft and bomb up.
But while the general briefing
was called for half-past three,
we had to be there half an hour
I glanced at the big black-
board. At the top was chalked
“ Operation Jupiter.”
I looked at the wall map.
A broad red tape had been
pinned across it from Leefield
to Oslo, in Norway. A thinner
tape stretched from our drome
to a point in the mountains of
Norway north-east of Oslo.
There were only four other
people in the room. The
Meteorological Officer was
chalking the weather forecast
on the blackboard. Flight-Lieu-
tenant Brinton, the senior Intel-
ligence Officer at the station,
stood by the map, pointer in
In the middle of the room
stood the Station Commander,
Group-Captain Draxford. The
ends of his moustache were
brushed up. His batman must
have been an artist at polishing
and pressing. Draxford’s air
was aloof and haughty.
The fourth person was a
civilian who was seated on a
chair. He had a bald head and a
pale face. He sat with his knees
close together. On them rested
a briefcase.
“ Carry on, Brinton,” rapped
the Station Commander.“
The briefing officer raised
his pointer and rested it on
“ At twenty-two hundred
hours today bombers from this
station will attack military tar-
gets in the Oslo area,” he stated.
“ Though we hope the attack
will have good results it is a
feint. Its purpose is to conceal
from the enemy that the real
target is a power station among
the mountains, near a mountain
peak called Vemork.”
He paused to let these words
sink in.
“ You, Sergeant Braddock,
have been selected to attack the
power station,” he said. “ You
will fly in with the other air-
craft then break away. You
Won’t fly directly to the target.
You will fly on an erratic course,
as if lost.”
“ Is that clear, Braddock?”
wuffed Draxford. “ You will
put on a show of being lost.”
“He made it clear enough,
sir,” said Braddock curtly.
“ You will contrive to make
the attack appear accidental!”
exclaimed the briefing officer.
“ You’re lost. You want to get
rid of your bombs somehow.
You get a sight of the power
station in the moonlight and,
after wandering round a bit
more, return and drop your
The civilian coughed to
attract our attention.
“ My name’s Pinner,” he
announced. “ I have to tell you
that they will go in deep before
exploding, but they must be
dropped from the correct
“What about a bomb-
aimer ?” Braddock demanded.
“ Flying-Officer Billing, the
station’s Armaments Officer, is
flying with you himself as
bomb-aimer,” said the briefing
officer. “ You’ll fnd him in
there ”—he pointed to a side
door—“with a model of the
target and its surroundings.”
The Station Commander
wheeled round and spoke to
the civilian who was still sitting
with his knees pressed together
and supporting the briefcase.
“ Have you anything else to
add, Mister Pinner ?” he asked.
“No, thank you,” said the
civilian. “ Except to stress that
the operation is of the utmost
importance and must be carried
out successfully.”
Braddock glanced at me and
winked. Then we went into the
other room. we had to knock.
Then the door was unlocked by
Flying-Officer Billing. He was a
Rover and Adventure -
Jan 21st 1961
- Page 4
Regular officer with something
like ten years’ service in the
R.A.F. and wore the Half-
Wing of a bomb-aimer. He had
done many operational flights.
“ Here is the model,” he
said, turning towards the table.
We looked down at the model.
It was a jumble of mountain
peaks and deep valleys.
Billing pointed to the Vemork
peak. Below it was the power
station with four or five build-
ings. I seized on a landmark. A
bridge spanned a river just by
the target. It would be an aid
to navigation.
“ Umph, that’s all right,”
grunted Braddock, “ but what
about photographs ?”
Billing shook his head. .
“ No photographs have been
taken,” he said.

across the moonlit
sky in the vicinity of Oslo.
We could also see the red
blinks of exploding shells
above the capital. There
was a big flash from the
ground in the harbour
area as a bomb exploded.
Braddock gave a chuckle.
“ Now for getting ourselves

lost,” he said over the inter-
com. “ I.m breaking away now,
“ Okay,” I replied. “The
course is Zero Five Zero.”
I felt the Wellington, a
nearly new machine, heel over
as Braddock changed course.
We could not afford to get
really lost, of course, and
Braddock and I had plotted out
our wandering route. Though
We were going to change course
four or five times, each one
would bring us nearer the
I had a lot of work to do. I
watched the time intently. I
gave Braddock another change
of course and this turned us
towards the mountains.
We flew at about a thousand
feet over the snow-covered
mountains. I saw a glint of
water and it gave me a check.
We were passing over a fiord
that penetrated many miles
“ Stand by !” I called. “ This
is where we circle a couple of
As the Wimpey came round
the glow of the searchlights
seemed very far away. Fires had
been started. There was a ruddy
glare below the blaze of the
We completed the two wide
orbits and then went on again
towards the north-east I took
the top of my flask and had a
drink of coffee. It warmed me
up a bit.
Braddock never drank coffee.
There would be tea with plenty
of sugar in his flask.
I had just screwed the top
back on to the flask when a
large frozen lake showed up in
the moonlight. I reported it to
Braddock, not that he hadn’t
seen it for himself.';
“ Bomb-airner!” he ex-
clairned. “ Stand by to drop
“ I’m all set,” answered
“ Let ’em go” said Brad-
The string of flares we
dropped lit up a valley, a ridge,
and plateau. It was desolate,
savage country with not a
building to be seen, no railway
threading the valley and no
road. The dropping of these
flares at that point would con-
vince the Germans that we were
really lost.
Just in case there was a night
fighter playing about we put
on a spurt, speed rising to two
hundred miles an hour.
After four minutes Braddock
reduced speed.
“Steer on Two Two Five
degrees now!” I exclaimed.
“ Two Two Five,” repeated.
We were on the last leg, the
leg that would bring us on to
the target.

The plan was to drop
flares to light up the
target on the first run,
swing round and make the
bombing run.
Thanks to the moon I was
able to pick out landmarks.
After some of our smoky
nights over the German in-
dustrial area of the Rhur, when
it was very difficult to see any-
thing, the flight was what the
R.A.F. called a piece of cake-—
so far! .
Braddock gained height. We
were at 2500 feet on the
approach to the target
I had my head down over
the map and when
Ticker yelled, "flak!” I
whipped my head up I saw
the dazzling flashes of explod-
ing shells, high and to star-
board. The second salvo I saw
explode was nearer.

(Continued on page 6)

Rover and Adventure -
Jan 21st 1961
- Page 6
More flak came up. The red
and green darts of the tracer
shells appeared to climb very
slowly. Then they would sud-
denly seem to accelerate and
streak past us at a tremendous
“ Flares!” Braddock snapped.
Leaving a long string of
flares, we sped along. I saw the
river and then the line of the
The guns banged at us. There
were many ground flashes.
Braddock turned the Wimpey
in a sharp circle. Now we faced
the line of flares. They lit up
the ground in a yellow glow.
“ Bomb doors open !” he
“Left a bit,” Billing called.
“ Hold it !”
As We flew back I stared
ahead. I saw a steep, massive
cliff below us. It was vertical.
It bulged out. There was
evidently a vast overhang.
Braddock’s voice rasped on
the inter-com.
“ I can’t see the target, bomb
aimer,” he snapped. “ Can
you ?”
“No,” answered the bomb
aimer. “ It’s hidden by the
overhang. If I drop the bombs
as close as I can to the cliff we
may do some damage with the
“ Don’t drop the bombs,”
Braddock shouted. “ I’m turn-
ing away.”
Cr-ack, cr-ack, cr-ack! I
heard the reports, sharp and
threatening, of exploding shells
as Braddock made a hard turn
to the south.
There was a rumble as he
closed the bomb doors. The
flares still hung in the air,
though they had drifted low
beneath the parachutes.
“ The overhang wasn’t shown
on the model!” Braddock ex-
“ The model makers
wouldn’t know there was an
overhang,” stated Billing. “ All
they had to work on was a map.”
“ We’ll see if we can get at
it from the south,” Braddock
replied. '
He turned again. He opened
the bomb doors. We were over
a plateau. Then there was a
steep drop into the narrow
“ I still can’t see the power
station,” Braddock declared.
“ I’ll drop the bombs into
the valley,” Billing answered.
“ Keep your hand off the
release,” Braddock ordered.
“ We’re not going to drop the
“ But---—-” began Billing.
That was as far as he got
with his protest. Braddock cut
him short.
“Bomb doors shut,” he
snapped. .
Cr-ack, cr_-ack, cr—ack! The
gunners had another go at us,
but Braddock was wheeling
away so fast that the salvo
exploded astern.
“ I think you’re doing the
wrong thing,” said Billing
stiffly. ‘
“ No, the target’s impossible
under present circumstances,”
retorted Braddock. “Near
misses would do more harm
than good.”
“ Well, you’re the captain of
the aircraft,” said Billing. “ It’s
your responsibility.”
“Aye, and I’ll put it in
writing if you like,” snapped
Braddock. “We’ll do some
more wandering about as if
we’re lost and then drop the
bombs on a railway bridge or
something like that.”
Billing maintained an icy
They were certainly extra
special bombs. They inade
three tremendous flashes when
we dropped them near a railway
viaduct not far from Oslo.
I felt sure that when the
Germans studied our erratic
course they would decide that
the plane had been in the hands
of a green and nervous crew

AT three o'clock in the
mornings Braddock,
Billing and I, still in our
flying kit as we had come
in from the plane. stood in
the briefing room. .
Group - Captain Draxford
glared at us as we came in. It
almost seemed as if Mr Pinner,
the civilian, had not moved
while we were away. He was
still sitting with his knees to-

gether and holding his briefcase.
We had informed base in
code that We had not bombed
the target.
The first thing Braddock did
was reach for a mug of tea and
take a deep gulp.
“ So you failed, Sergeant,”
boomed the Station Com-
mander haughtily.
“ We succeeded in not giving
the show away,” answered
“ If I’d had my way, sir, we
could have dropped the bombs
very near to the target,” said
Braddock sniffed.
“Aye, and smothered it in
snow and dirt,” he scoffed. “ I
Wasn’t having near misses. The
target must have been of special
importance because of all the
hullabaloo about it and near
misses seemed worse than use-
less to me.”
Mr Pinner coughed and asked
a question.
“ Why was it an impossible
target?” he inquired.
Braddock swallowed the rest
of the tea, put down the mug,
and strode to the blackboard.
“ I’ll show you,” he said. “ It
was chiefly because the power
station was protected by a vast
overhang. This is the layout.”
He picked up a bit of chalk
and started to draw the peak
with its overhang and the pre~
cipitous cliff on the other side
of the valley.
While he used the chalk he
described the setting. Well as I
had come to know Braddock he
astonished me by the details
he had spotted and which he
was now able to put in.
Mr Pinner appeared to be
following him with the closest
attention, but the Group-Cap-
tain stood there and scowled.
Only incidentally did Brad-
dock mention the flak, but, as
soon as he did, the Group-
Captain burst in with an accusa-
“ Sergeant, isn’t the truth
of the affair that the flak pre-
vented you from flying low,
from flying under the overhang
in order to reach the target?”
he demanded.
I held my breath. I wondered
how Braddock would react to a
question that as good as accused
him of cowardice. I expected
him to flare up; There was a
distinct pause before he replied,
but then he spoke soothingly.
“ Of course, sir, you must
be very busy with office work,”
he said, “ and I can understand
why you haven’t been able to
find the time to read the dope
about the special bombs with
which we were armed.
“ If you read the instructions,
sir, you’ll see the bornbs have
to be dropped from at least two
thousand feet for ’em to gain
velocity and penetrate as
designed. So, if we had flown
below the overhang, the bombs
would have been dropped from
four or five hundred feet and
been useless.”
The colour was rising in
Draxford’s face while Brad-
dock was speaking, and by the
time he had finished the Group
Captain’s face was a deep shade
of purple.
Abruptly Mr Pinner moved.
He stood up.
“ I would like all Sergeant
Braddock has said to be re-
peated, taken down, and for-
warded to me not later than
noon tomorrow!” he exclaimed.
It appeared that Mr Pinner
was a very important person.
“Yes, indeed, you can rely
on it,” spluttered the Group
Mr Pinner turned to Brad-
“ I have to use the telephone,
but, before I go, let me say
thank you, Sergeant,” he said.
“ I think you did extremely
well and showed excellent judg-
ment under circumstances that
must have been very difficult.”
He tucked his briefcase under
his arm and walked swiftly
towards the door.
We had not finished with Mr
Pinner. We were soon to hear
more and to be involved,
because of him, in one of the
greatest operations of the war,
the further carrying out of
Operation Jupiter.

A single cargo ship lying in a
Norwegian harbour threatens the
whole Allied war effort, Next week
Braddock is given the task of
destroying it.



The Rover and Adventure from June 3rd 1961 for 12 issues



Picture - The Rover & Adventure June 3rd 1961 - page 2

Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories

The Rover & Adventure
June 3rd 1961 - page 2

A LANCASTER bomber approached over the coast of East Anglia after taking part in a raid on Hamburg. The captain of the aircraft was ca Sergeant Pilot, Matt Braddock, V.C. who had flown on the first day of the war in 1939 and was one of Bomber Command's most experienced pilots.
I was the navigator. George
Bourne is the name. and I had flown
with Braddock for three years, since
the summer of 1940.
There was no moon. We had been
able to see the stars during part of
the homeward flight, but clouds had
now drifted over and hidden them.
We were not carrying a second pilot
and the crew was completed by the bomb
aimer, flight engineer, wireless operator,
mid-upper gunner and the tail gunner.
It was our tenth raid on our present tour
of duty and every raid had become the
equivalent of going through a great
battle. It was good to be approaching
home again.
I pencilled another tick on the map
to indicate our present position. We were
flying in on a radio beam and I estimated
that we were twenty miles from the coast.
Braddock was a captain who had the
complete confidence of his crew. But he
was a perfectionist and insisted that every
detail should be correct. This made some
people dislike him.
Our four Merlin engines purred steadily
away. Without the inter-com we could
not have heard each other speak.
Two minutes passed and I put another
tick on the map. It was at that moment
that Braddock slammed out the auto-
matic pilot. This put the full control of
the Lank back in his hands.
His voice rasped on the inter-com.
“ Stand-by, gunners. Keep your eyes
open !” he snapped. “ A plane iust passed
us to starboard ! Didn’t you see it, middle
gunner ?”
When using the inter-com Braddock
never employed Christian names or nick-
“ No, Skipper, I didn’t see a thing!”
exclaimed Jack Langton from the middle
turret. -
“ I would have hollered quickly enough
if I’d seen anything,” said Chopper Harris,
the tail gunner. “ I guess it was another
Lank or a Halifax.” ‘
“ No, it was too small,” Braddock
retorted. “Don’t guess !”
“ It might have been a Mosquito,”
Langton suggested.
The Mosquito, of course, was a twin-
engined plane. It was very versatile. The
Pathfinders used them. Bomber Com-
mand also employed them for bombing.
Another version was a night fighter.
“ Maybe, but still the order is ‘ don’t
guess,” grunted Braddock. “ It was iust
a shadow.”
The one thing we did not doubt was
that Braddock had seen a plane. The pupils
of his eyes were larger than the average.
He said he could not see in the dark, but
there was no question about his night
vision being exceptional.
“Coast ten miles ahead,” l stated.
“ We shall cross just south of Cromer.”
“ Roger!” responded Braddock.
The R.A.F. used the code-word
“Roger” for received and understood.
I glanced at my wrist watch and saw
that the time was 3.10. We were due back
over base at 3.30. With the weather
reasonable we should receive permission
to land fairly quickly.
If the intelligence officers did not pro-
long the questioning, and Braddock had
a short way with them when he thought
unnecessary questions were asked, there
was a chance of being in bed by 4.15.

THE bomb-aimer shouted and
I looked ahead. There was
a fire in the sky, a fire that grew at
an incredible speed until it became
a great ball of flame that started to
descend in a fiery spiral.
“ It’s a bomber, Skipper,” gasped
little Danny Wright, the bomb aimer.
“ Must be a big ’un to burn like that.”
Braddock cut in urgently.
“ Keep a look out all round. Don’t just
gawp at the fire,” he snapped.
“ The plane you saw,” I remarked,
“ might be an intruder.”
“ That’s what I think,” Braddock
There was suddenly a feeling of great
tension and of lurking danger. So far
the Germans had not done a great deal
of intruding, of sending fighters over to
attack the homecoming bombers. When
they did, the attacks were usually made
when a bomber was about to land and
could be picked out against the marker
lights and the flare-path.
The glow was just dying away when
there was an eddy of sparks in the sky,
then a blaze.
“ Good grief, there’s another on fire,”
yelled Danny.
Danny was a first-class bomb aimer,
but he easily became excited.
“ Calm down, bomb aimer,” rapped
Braddock. “ Stand—by your guns!”
The Lancaster carried twin .303 guns
in the nose and mid turrets. There were
four guns in the tail.

The Rover & Adventure
June 3rd 1961 - page 3
I could tell from the swaying
motion that Braddock was weav-
ing. This meant that the Lan-
caster was following a cork-
screw course. It was one of the
best defences against night
fighters. I need not labour the
point now. I shall be dealing
with it again.
I stood under the astrodome
to help in looking out for any
attackers. A bright light shone
to the north. There was a terri-
fic flash, then it went out. I
was certain that a third air-
craft had blown up in the air.
A few moments afterwards
a fourth machine became a
mass of flames and drifted
down towards the sea.
The sky over England was
no longer dark. Searchlights
wig-wagged crazily without
forming any set pattern. As
we came in over the coast one
of the beams lit us up in its
dazzling glare.
Braddock did an amazing
thing. He flipped the giant
Lancaster on to a wing-tip
and side-slipped as if it had
been a fighter.
His prompt action carried us
out of the dazzling white light.
He did not say anything after
he had levelled out again.
On the ground, flames were
leaping up from a crashed
We were within radio tele-
phone range of Middingford
and Braddock called the station,
giving our number.
“You can’t land here. We
are having to divert you!”
replied the controller. You
will fly on to Cotsbury.”
He named a drome on the
west of England and repeated
“ Roger! Out!” Braddock
replied. “Did you hear that,
navigator ?”
I dumped myself back on
the seat and placed my ruler
across the map.
“ I’m working out the
course,” I retorted.
Braddock was still weaving.
He called the flight engineer,
Jock Mackenzie.
“ Let me have a fuel check,”
he snapped.
“We are all right for an
hour,” Mackenzie answered.
“ I guess we’ll need every
drop,” Braddock grunted.
“They’ll be stacking us up
over the West country dromes.
It’ll be economic cruising speed,
as economical as possible. Keep
me informed about the fuel.”
As soon as this conversation
ceased, Chopper came on to
the inter-com from the tail.
“ I’m afraid the Germans
have got another bomber,
Skipper,” he said. “ It’s a
long way off, going down over
the sea, I think.”
Braddock made a comment
that sounded like a casual
remark at the time, but which
was to gain greatly in signifi-
“ That’s the queer thing
about it,” he murmured.

ON the following morn-
ing. at about eight
o'clock, I stood in the
crowded canteen at Cots-
bury with a cup of tea in
one and and a sandwich
containing a tasteless round
of liver sausage in the
other. Braddock and Mac-
kenzie were not with us.
Cotsbury, a training com-
mand drome, had taken in over
thirty Lancasters and Halifaxes
during the early hours of the
morning. The bombers had
buzzed over the airfield like
moths attracted by a light.
The staff in the control
tower had done a fine job in
getting every plane down with-
out a smash.
They had picked out the
machines that were running very
short of fuel and called them
in first. We had been circling
for 45 minutes before our
turn came. Even then we had
been pushed away again after
a frantic statement from the
captain of O Oboe that his

tanks were dry.
There were no beds for us.
The best Cotsbury could do,
with over two hundred air
crew thrust on them, was to
supply us with blankets. I had
had a doze on the floor of the
sergeants’ mess.
“ Where’s Brad?” asked
Ticker Tait, our wireless
operator.. '
“ Can’t you guess?” I
laughed. “His idea is to get
away. I bet you that our Lank
will be the first to be refuelled.”
“ You’re right,” Danny
nodded. “ I saw Brad standing
on the step of a fuel bowser.”
The wireless was on and
there was a hush as the eight
O’clock news began. The third
item was of great interest to us.
“Hamburg was the target
for a large force of our
bombers last night. In
spite of stern opposition
the attack was pressed
home and many big fires
were started.
“ A number of our re-
turning bombers were
attacked by enemy in-
truder aircraft and the
Air Ministry reports the
loss of several machines.”
A babble of voices blotted
out the news reader’s further
announcements. Almost all the
crews had seen planes burning
in the sky over the east coast
and it had been the chief
topic of anxious conversation.
We all Wondered if our own
squadrons had sulfered losses.
There were three squadrons
of Lancasters at Middingford.
So far we had spoken to the
crews of four other Lanks from
our station.
“ How many does ‘ several’
mean?” somebody demanded,
and there were guesses that
ranged from six to sixteen.
The fellow who made most
noise during the discussion
was a sergeant-pilot from Mid-
dingford, named Rilling. He
had a large brushed-up mous-
tache. _
“ It was an absolutely wizard
prang on Hamburg!” he ex-
claimed. “It was a piece of
cake and then the Huns have
to spoil it with their intruders.”
At that moment Braddock
came in. He stood out in a
crowd because of his rugged
features and the penetration of
his eyes. He had the chin of a
fighting man.
It was his aggressive spirit
that made him a bomber pilot.
He regarded fighters as de-
fensive, but bombers hit back.
From the way he looked
round I could tell he was after
somebody’s blood. He fixed
his gaze on Rilling and
shouldered his way towards
“You’re the captain of O
Oboe, I think?” he snapped.
Rilling nodded.
“What about it?” he
“You ought to be sacked,”
Braddock roared. “ You’re
either blooming incompetent
or- a low-down creeping
There was silence as they
faced each other. Rilling had
an angry flush on his cheeks.
“I’m not taking that from
you,” he stormed.
“You told the controller
that your tanks were dry and
he allowed you to land imi-
mediately,” rapped Braddock.
“ I was ordered to get out of
your way, which I did.”
I noticed that Rilling shuffled
his feet uncomfortably.
“ You had at least a hundred
gallons left in your tanks, and
it registers clearly on the
gauges,” Braddock went on
grimly. “ I know because’ I’ve
just looked.”
“ Poor old Brad, he’s cross
because he was kept waiting,”
Rilling forced a smile.
“I was all right as it hap-
pened,” snapped Braddock,
“ but, for all you knew or
cared, other planes in the
queue might have been near
the limit of endurance.”
“ You’re quite right, Brad,”
declared another pilot. “ I came
The Rover & Adventure
June 3rd 1961 - page 4
in right on your tail with my
gauges registering zero.” .
“I——I shouldn’t have been
carried away by my sense of
humour,” spluttered Rilling.
“Well, you won’t be carried
away by it again because I’ve
reported you,” rapped Brad-
The air crew members
gasped. Rilling looked dumb-
founded. Probably a majority
thought that Braddock had
carried his protest too far.
“You’ve split on me?”
Rilling gasped.
“Yes, we’re not at school,
we’re at war,” Braddock re-
torted, “and it was more by
luck than anything else that
you didn’t kill some of your
He turned to us. ,
“ Come on,” he beckoned.
“We’re going!”
I have described this
incident for a very good reason;
It certainly made me realise the
depth of Braddock’s feelings
about the crews of Bomber
Command Who were his com-_
rades; It» was an attitude that
was to colour his outlook
increasingly in the days and
nights, immediately ahead.
We collected our belongings
and trudged out after him.
Langton remarked that he had
been rough with Rilling.
“ To blazes with Rilling,
there are other things to think
about now,” rasped Braddock.
“ I’ve been talking to duty
officer, a fellow I’ve known for
some time, and he’s shaken me
to the core.”
“ What’s he been saying ?” I
"The intruders shot down
not less than twenty-three
bombers,” Braddock growled.
We stared at him dumbly.
“ How did the Germans do
it? How did they do it ?” he
roared, thumping his fists
together. “How did they get
Within shooting range of our
bombers--not over the airfields,
mind you, but on the sea
approaches or over the coast ?”
“ I should say by using
radar,” I muttered.
“There’s more to it than
that, George” retorted
Braddock. “ The most up-to-
date A.I. sets”-- he meant
the air interception radar sets
carried, by night fighters,-
“ have a range of only about
four miles. You’ know the
procedure as well as I do.”
The procedure when a night
interception was to be
attempted was that the hostile

aircraft was first picked up by
long-range radar from the
The ground controller then
had the task of guiding his night
fighter within four miles of the
target. It was an intricate
business and full of the
possibilities of error.
Another important point was
that a controller could only
handle one target and one
fighter at a time.
“ It seems the Germans have
something special,” I granted.
“ My word, they have,”
Braddock replied. “ There’s a
tremendous lot to he explained
-—and, if it isn’t explained, we
might as well stop building
bombers because it will be too
darned dangerous for ’em to

TWO nights later. after
a raid on Hanover.
we flew towards England
again. It was another pitch-
dark night but Braddock
was already weaving. I
could feel the swaying
movements of the Lank.
“Navigator speaking,” I
rapped, “ coast twenty miles!
On our present course we shall
pass inland at Southwold.”
“-Roger !”_ snapped Brad-
There was a tense feeling in
the aircraft. No doubt this also
applied to every other bomber
crew. At the briefing we had
been told in what was meant to
be a reassuring manner that our
own night fighters would be
Our own squadron had
definitely lost three planes to
intruders two nights ago.
Our squadron leader, Rob
Findlay, had landed to find his
tail-gunner dead.
Findlay and Braddock
thought alike. It was that the
Germans were using something
entirely new to find our planes.
They did not rule out some A.I.
set improvement but believed it
was supplemented by another
device unknown to us.
Experts of the Air Ministry
were making investigations, we
had been told. This statement
had not been received with
three hearty cheers. Experts
usually took months to come
to their conclusions.
The C.O. of Rilling’s
squadron had rapped Rilling’s
knuckles. He had been demoted
and was flying as a second pilot.
I stood under the astrodome

and looked ahead. Far inland a
Searchlight beam stood
We had come through the
night without serious incident
though the German resistance
over Hanover had been intense.
I was just going to sit down
again when there was a fiery
splash in the sky. It went out
but, within a few moments, a
ball of fire burst into lurid light
and started to go down in a
blazing spiral.
Before it had reached the
ground another aircraft burst
into flames away on our star-
board beam.
“ They’re at it again,”
Braddock snapped. “No talk-
ing ! Keep your minds on your
jobs l”
I sat down again then
reported that we were ten miles
out and on course.
Our Lank swept along on. its
corkscrew course. We sighted
the coast within a few minutes.
Chopper yelled.
' “ Starboard!” he bellowed.
“ Fighter !” -
I reckoned we were turning
before he got the first word out
of his mouth. I was hurled
against the bulkhead and every
article that was loose, ruler,
protractor, pencils, fell off my
I felt the Lank make another
savage turn. Braddock shouted.
“Nose gunner!” he roared.
“ Shoot! Shoot! We’re on its
Rat-tat-"tat, rat-tat—tat! I
could not see a thing except the
flashes of Danny’s two machine-
guns as he opened fire.
The tracer bullets left fiery
trails. Then the darkness was
broken by a spurt of flame.
Sparks whirled back towards
Judging from the scream of
the slipstream Braddock was
diving the mighty Lank as if it
Were a fighter.
Rat-tat—tat, rat-tat-tat! The
mid turret guns began to
hammer as Langton opened
fire. A glow developed below
us. In its red light I saw the
outline of a twin-engined plane.
“ We’ve got it,” Danny
screeched. “ Crikey, I never
even saw it till you told me to
shoot, skipper.”
Braddock pulled the Lank
out of its dive. Chopper’s voice
came crackling over the inter-
“ I reckon it fell in the sea,”
he exclaimed. “ It was burning
The Rover & Adventure
June 3rd 1961 - page 6
like a bonfire, then_ went out
“ Aren’t ’ we _ ‘ overland ?”
Braddock demanded.
“ Yes, deefnitely,” I replied.
“ It must be down in the
“ I hope you’re right,” said
Braddock. “ It will give us’ a
chance to have a Look at it!”
“ Heck, skipper, it isn’t the
only fighter on the prowl !”
Chopper exclaimed. “There’s'
a big plane burning some miles

WE were again
diverted to Cots-
bury. Returning bombers
were stacked up and we
had to wait half an hour
before landing. There was
renewed alarm among the
crews and grim estimates
of the number of Lancasters
and Halifaxes shot down.
Braddock again worked the
trick with a bowser crew for
our Lank to be refuelled. He
was desperately anxious to get
back to East Anglia and at
break of dawn we were on our
Squadron Leader Findlay
just beat us to it. We saw his
tall spare figure as he waited
for us to get out of the plane at
“Congratulations, Braddock,”
he smiled. ‘You provided the
one touch of relief in a very bad
“ How many did the Ger-
mans get, sir ?” Braddock
“At least fifteen,” replied
Findlay. “ Two of our squad-

ron! I. understand that, the
plane you shot down was one
of the new Messerschmitt four-
“ D’you know where it is ?”
Braddook inquired.
“Yes, it fell near the village
of Belton - in - the Marsh,”
nodded‘ the squadron leader.-
“ You were right; Georgie !”
Braddock exclaimed; “ I’rn
going out there, sir.”
“ You Certainly have my
perrnission declared Findlay.
“Do you want a van or will
you ride that T.T, model of
yours?” '
He smiled as he referred to
Braddock’s motor cycle. It
was of no known make since
he had assembled it himself
from at variety of spare parts,
but it had a very powerful
engine. -
“Well go on the motor
bike,” he replied.
Before setting out, Braddock
took a look,at the road map.
There were no signposts as
they had all been taken down
to confuse the German spies.
We had thirty miles to go
and I sat on the pillion wearing
goggles and my flying jacket.
The lanes in the flat country-
side formed a maze.
There was a straight narrow
road along the top of a dyke.
I dug my head down behind
Braddock to get out of the
wind as our speed reached
80 m.p.h.
There was a Y-junction
ahead. We were in a no man’s
land of loneliness of low lying
fields and marshes, willow trees
and creeks.
Braddock took the right-hand
fork without slowing down. I
thought we should have gone
left, but kept my mouth shut.
About two minutes afterwards
we sighted the spire of Beltan-
in-the-Marsh church. ‘
Braddock slowed down before
we reached the hamlet.
“We’re there,” he shouted,
and I saw an R.A.F. lorry and
several cars standing in the
lane. ‘
Figures were moving about
in a marshy field with clumps
of reeds growing here - and
In the middle of the field
was the wrecked Messerschmit,
nose buried, tail sticking up.
It had a dark, mottled camou-
Braddock pulled up behind
the parked vehicles. Among
the persons in the field I saw a
wing commander wearing gum
boots and two or three men in
civilian clothes. One had a
bowler hat.
“ The Boffins have arrived,”
growled Braddock.
' “ Boffin ” Was the slang word
for a scientist.
A police constable stood near
the gate. At the gate was a
sentry, an R.A.F. policeman
armed with rifle and bayonet.
The policeman gave us a nod
but the sentry planted himself
in front of us.
“ You can’t go in,” he
“ Come on, George,” Brad-
dock said, and strode past him.
“ He won’t shoot us. They
would have him for murder,”
The sentry shouted and
chased us, A police warrant
officer and a corporal squelched
across the field to intercept us.
The wing commander and
civilians frowned at us.
“ Take another step and I’ll
arrest you,” snapped the
warrant officer.
“ Darn my socks, we shot it
down,” Braddock rasped.
The wing commander, who
had a brick red face and dark
moustache, came up.
“ Good show,” he snapped;
“ In due course, no doubt,
your station will be given a
broken propeller or something
similar in the way of a trophy,
but just now we are busy and I
shall have to order you to go.”
“ But I have some ideas
about the Jerry plane!” Brad-
dock exclaimed.
“ If you put them in writing
they will be considered,” said
the wing commander. “ See
them off the premises!”
“Out you go,” barked the
warrant offfcer.
Braddock drew a deep
breath. .
I’ve seen something already
I bet they hav'en’t noticed,” he
granted turning his heel.‘
He trudged away and I
followed him out of the field,
“ What did you ‘see I
asked. '
“ Use your blooming eyes,"
retorted , Braddock. “Look at
at the number' ,
'1 took another look“ at the
Messersclirnitt. Painted on —~the
fuselage was KG 101. l was
puzzled as to why Braddock
attached special importance to
“ The penny hasn’t; dropped,
Brad,” I admitted,
Braddock thumped. his fists
together; ‘
“I'm "sure that number is
significant,” he declared.
Then he reminded me that
when Britain was blitzeds in
1940-41, the German bombers
were led on to the target by a
formation of “aircraft belonging
to Kampf Gtuppe 101 -KG
101 for short.
In effect they were Path-
finders andthey used equip-
rnent that they called the ‘X
Apparatus.” It was a special
sort of radio beam and it took
our scientists over two months
to find a way of distorting it.
“Do you get it now,
George ?” demanded Brad-
dock,‘ “ I reckon a special
Group using some new appa-
ratus is shooting our bombers
out of the sky.”
“ I think you must be right!”
I exclaimed.
Braddock glowered across the
field at the Messerschmitt.
“ It makes me mad to think
they won’t let me get at it,” he
said savagely. “But a bunch of
nitwits aren’t going to stop me
finding out what I want to
know. I'm going to put an end
to this mysterious thing that‘s
menacing our bombers.”

Braddock continues his investiga-
tions next week-—and they cause
him to be arrested by the R.A.F



BRADDOCK and the Crimson Dart

Rover and Adventure - from 30th September 1961 for 16 issues

The Crimson Dart bursts out of a cloud - and Braddock has less than a second to avoid disaster!

SERGEANT MATT BRADDOCK. V.C., flew the rocket plane, the Crimson Dart, at 1,000 miles an hour over the North Sea. His altitude was 80,000 feet and he was on a test flight. London, Brest and Cologne were within his range of vision, but, in spite of a sun visor, he was considerably troubled by the glare of the midday sun. Braddock throttled back. He watched the turn and bank indicator on the instrument panel with concentrated attention as he started to make a very wide turn. It was at that instant that a small red lamp fixed in his large, plexiglass helmet lit up and shone brilliantly. The lamp warned Braddock of a failure in his oxygen supply before his senses had become conscious of the danger. He had only fifteen seconds in which to save his life.
That was all the time left to him before he lapsed into unconsciousness unless he could tap the reserve supply of oxygen. He had been warned that, if such a situation occurred, power diving would not be quick enough to save him. He hoped for just an instant that it was a false alarm, but the red lamp continued to glow. In front of Braddock were many small levers, switches and push buttons, in addition to the main controls. Because he was lying down, his feet did not control the rudder as in an ordinary plane. Simultaneously with the red light coming on, the turn and bank indicator showed that the starboard wing was too low. The Dart was a difficult machine to fly and was very temperamental. Without a trace of panic Braddock did first things first. With a light but precise movement he centred the control column and the Dart flicked back on to an even keel. It left him with 10 seconds.
His gaze fixed on the two oxygen valves. But, as he put out his left hand towards the small levers his eyes began to fog. A sudden exhausted feeling in his lungs made him gasp. His fingers closed over Valve 1 and shut it. A sharp pain stabbed through his temples and remained behind his eyes. His fingers moved to Valve 2 and opened it. If the auxiliary apparatus did not put matters right he had five seconds left. The red lamp blinked, then its glare faded away. Life-saving oxygen seeped into his exhausted lungs. The pain went and his eyes cleared, but he felt as weak as if he were getting over flu.
Braddock, of Bomber Command, had flown on many tours of duty since taking-off on the first day of the war in 1939 and had experienced many narrow escapes from death or serious injury. His sudden lack of oxygen had been one of the closest brushes with death he had ever had.
Three aircraft of the type had been constructed to the design of a genius who was years ahead of his time. He had been killed by an explosion that had destroyed the first machine during fuelling. The second had crashed on its first take-off and a skilled test pilot had been killed. Braddock had been fetched from his squadron and had agreed to fly the third Dart. He had had a very turbulent and dangerous flight, but had said he would continue to be the pilot. It was impossible at the moment to construct additional machines. Rare metals and alloys were essential and Britain's small stock of these materials was exhausted.
Far from the war being won the leaders of the Allies knew that the situation was menacing in that autumn of 1944. The Germans were bombarding London with V2 rockets fired from Holland. Now there was proof that V3 Titan rockets were being aimed at New York. One had come down in the sea only a hundred miles from that vast American city. }The Crimson Dart was intended to intercept and shoot down rockets and Braddock on his first flight and by a stroke of luck, had shot down a V2.

NOW that he was able to breathe again, Braddock concentrated on the task of getting back to Deningham, his isolated base in Essex. The flight was being made for three reasons. An alteration had been made to the tail-fins to try to improve stability, and this had to be tested. The second reason was the necessity to test the Dart's homing equipment. The machine had such a gigantic thirst for fuel that its endurance was limited to 20 minutes, which made accurate homing essential. The third reason was to give the radar control team, which would co-operate with Braddock in rocket hunting, an opportunity to practise. Except in case of emergency, radio silence was being maintained. The German monitor stations would pick up signals from space. No doubt their radar stations had detected an object at a vast altitude, but the controllers would be left guessing if there were no signals. It was typical of Braddock that he had not broadcast the oxygen incident. Only if the reserve supply had failed to operate would he have gasped out with his last breath the reason for his non-return.
As Braddock started to go down in wide spirals, he experienced some rough periods with jolts and vibration. He reduced speed to lessen the friction while descending through the " heat barrier." Through a gap in the clouds he saw the Essex coast. He started to check his approach by watching the " pips " on a small cathode ray tube at the left of the cockpit. The device was called Gee 2. He could get his position by the display in the tube. When the pips were centralised he was flying in on the beam. Braddock had fuel for five minutes left when he was down to 40,000 feet. This was satisfactory. But all the time he was having to make co-ordinated movements of the control column and rudder leader to keep the Dart in balance. The concentration demanded was terrific. He was at full strain all the time. He dared not relax for a second. He hardly dared to blink for fear of missing some vital signal on an instrument. He swooped to 30,000 feet and was still over the sea. His Gee 2 set was operating satisfactorily and giving clear signals. The alteration to the tail was an mprovement, but the plane still lacked stability. It was treacherous.
Braddock was now at the height at which he could call Deningham control. He switched on his R.T. His code-sign was " Slowcoach." " Slowcoach to Landmark !" he exclaimed harshly. "I'm on last leg of course and over clouds. I'm ready to approach and land. Over!"
The controller responded at once. " Landmark to Slowcoach," he answered. " Cloud base eight thousand feet. Visibility beneath clouds is ten miles. There is no change in baro-metric pressure, wind slight, nor' east. Over!"
The fact that barometric pressure was constant meant that Braddock did not have to reset his altimeter. Conditions were all he could have desired. " Roger !" he said and took the Dart into the clouds. Just for a moment there was a film of ice on the windshield, but it did not develop. At 15,000 feet he broke out of the upper cloud layer. He had a glimpse of the coast through } a gap before swooping into the lower stratus.
The controller called anxiously. " Slowcoach ! Slowcoach ! Look out!" he exclaimed. " Ten-plus Flying Fortresses and Liberators have appeared in landing area. They are returning from a raid and aren't in formation. Over!"
Braddock did not start complaining, although other aircraft had been " warned off" the Deningham area at that time. He replied with the one word " Roger," meaning that he had received and understood the warning. Braddock lined up on the drome ten miles on. As he reduced speed to 350 miles an hour the Dart started to shudder. Braddock expected this and was ready. It was due to the low wing-loading of the short swept-back wings at slow speeds. The shuddering increased with violent suddenness as the Dart threatened to stall.Braddock nudged the throttle open and put the nose down. Speed picked up instantly and Braddock regained control of the aircraft. Suddenly he burst through the lower cloud layer. A blink of sunshine was being reflected by the dome of a Flying Fortress's upper turret. Braddock dived under it and the shadow of the bomber's wings swept over the Dart. He was now too low to have space in which to manoeuvre and, when he was compelled to throttle back hard, it was touch and go whether he reached the ground by spinning into it or by landing the plane in an orthodox manner. Braddock won the struggle by a very narrow margin. As soon as he had steadied theplane he had to keep it in balance after dropping the wheels. The Dart touched down at 140 miles an hour and he released the bunch of four parachutes that provided extra braking power. The aircraft stopped and Braddock felt as limp and tired as if he had flown to Berlin and back. Mechanics ran to the plane to release him.

STANDING near the plane were the Station Commander, Group Captain Flewitt, blind in one eye from a shell splinter, and a civilian named Douglas Greer. The latter, a young man with a brooding, thoughtful face, had been chief assistant to the designer.Braddock trudged over to them.
" We saw your near miss, Braddock," rapped Flewitt grimly. " It was a bad show. The Americans were miles off course."
"Don't make an official complaint, sir," shrugged Braddock. " We both know what it's like to have a rough time on a daylight raid."
Flewitt gave a nod. The Americans were carrying out their raids in the teeth of a ferocious resistance. The Germans even dropped bombs into the bomber formations and attacked them with rockets. " You'd like me to turn my blind eye to the incident ?" he asked.
" Yes, let's forget it," replied Braddock.
Douglas Greer was anxious to question Braddock about the flight, but waited for the pilot to get out of his special flying kit. After a couple of reviving cups of tea, Braddock was ready to talk. The station commander was also present. " The tail alteration helped," Braddock began, " but, if it isn't going to take too much time, something will have to be done to increase the lift of the wings. " Mebbe you can do it by increasing the size of the flaps, I dunno, but if it isn't done there'll be a write-off sooner or later. I'm told the R.A.F. has a surplus of pilots these days, so I shouldn't be missed, but there's only one Dart.
We can improve it," Greer declared, "but it would take time, perhaps ten days or a fortnight."
"I'll take up the matter immediately," offered Group Captain Flewitt. " It will be for the War Cabinet to decide. Braddock has made his point, not only by what he's said but by his appearance."
"Eh?" grunted Braddock.
" I could tell when you left the plane that you were very tired," explained Flewitt, "and a tired man can make fatal mistakes."
Greer stayed with the station commander to provide an exact statement of what he proposed to do and Braddock went out, intending to go to his quarters for a rest.The sun had broken through the clouds and, in front of the officers' mess, Braddock saw a seat. He decided to rest in the open air. He sat down, put up his feet and pulled his shoes off. His battledress was old and shabby. With a firm tread a warrant officer with a spiky moustache bore down on Braddock. The former did not know that this untidy fellow who had dared to take his shoes off and loll outside the officers' mess was the pilot of the Dart.
" Get off that seat," he snarled.
"Why?" asked Braddock. " Isn't it meant for sitting on ? Most seats are."
The warrant officer, used to striking fear into N.C.O.s and airmen, trembled with anger. "I'm not going to repeat my order," he thundered.
Braddock neither moved nor spoke.
" I told you to get off that seat," the warrant officer burbled.
" You said you weren't going to repeat the order," remarked Braddock and yawned. " D'you mind moving over a bit? You're keeping the sun off me."
" I'll have you in jankers before you're five minutes older," spluttered the warrant officer and rushed off. Jankers was the R.A.F. word for the prison. The W.O. did not come back, however. Somebody told him who Braddock was. Braddock had half an hour to himself before the tannoy called him back to the station commander's office.
" The alterations have been approved, Braddock," said Group Captain Flewitt.
" I'm glad to hear it," nodded Braddock. " It will make the plane far more efficient."
" It will be a chance for you to take some leave," responded Flewitt.
Braddock shook his head, " No, sir, I don't consider myself as physically fit to fly in he Dart regularly."
Flewitt raised his eyebrows in surprise. Braddock had rugged stamina and he had never been known to smoke or drink. "Isn't there some P.T. course I could take ?" continued Braddock. " I want to harden up."
Flewitt's eyes twinkled, " We'll fix it," he chuckled.

IT was just getting light two mornings later when a squad of about twenty men in singlets and shorts doubled across the parade ground at Hasford, an R.A.F. establishment in the Midlands. They were the new intake for a P.T. course. In the usual way those who passed became P.T instructors themselves. A course normally lasted for four weeks.
Flight Sergeant Yorkston doubled along with the squad. He was one of the strictest instructors. He observed that one man was not in step and his eyes gleamed. He knew that the person in question was Matt Braddock. The arrival of Braddock to take the course had astonished the staff. Several of them, including Yorkston, had duelled with him at various stations in the past. Yorkston stopped. He let the squad double on for another twenty or thirty yards, then roared "Halt." "Right turn," he rapped. "Come here, you !" He beckoned to Braddock, who stepped out of the ranks. " At the double," roared Yorkston. "This isn't a rest home. We do everything at the double here." Braddock doubled up to the flight sergeant and halted. " Haven't you got a back-bone ?" snarled Yorkston. Braddock stiffened and put his shoulders further back. " I called you out to inquire if you know your right hand from your left," said Yorkston sarcastically.
" Yes, Flight, I do," replied I Braddock.
"You must have forgotten," taunted Yorkston. You weren't keeping in step."
" I'm sorry, Flight," said Braddock.
Yorkston had a keen ear for insolence, but failed to detect any such tone in Braddock's voice. " Tie a handkerchief round your right wrist to help you to remember," he roared.
Braddock took out his handkerchief and did as he was commanded.
" Return to the squad," rasped Yorkston. Braddock performed an about-turn and doubled back. Yorkston put the squad in open order and started on the first P.T. session of the day. All the squad were N.C.O.s down to the rank of corporal. As it happened, Braddock was unknown to the other members of the class and they were surprised by the way the instructor "picked" on him. If Braddock felt any resentment when he was called everything except handsome he did not show it.
After the breakfast break, the squad doubled out to the depot's commando course. The N.C.O. in command was an athletic-looking young sergeant named Hall. He had the rough tongue of all the instructors. The pupils were to be sent over the course as a trial run and as a test of their nerve. Warrant Officer Jaggard, the senior non-commissioned officer at the establishment, strode up to watch. Braddock looked along the course. There were drain pipes to crawl through, nets to climb, ravines to swing across on ropes, a rock face to ascend, and a barbed wire entanglement to be negotiated by crawling.
" What's the record for the course, sir ?" Braddock asked.
" Four minutes," snapped Hall. " You won't do it in ten minutes for a start."
" I'd like to have a go," Braddock spoke up.
"You'd like to have a go at the record, would you? jeered Hall.
"Let him , boomed Jaggard.
Braddock took off his denims, then he peeled off his singlet. He did this because he had observed that the drain pipe got very narrow. As a youngster Braddock had taken part in his school sports at Walsall but had not carried the on with athletics, as his spare time was devoted to gliding or flying. He had been a steeplejack for a while and, as his last job before the war had worked as a steel erector on the masts of one of Britain's new radar stations.
Jaggard fetched out his stopwatch." Are you ready he asked. " Go!"

BRADDOCK lay flat and squirmed into the first of the drainpipes. As he had twigged, it was a very tight fit. He wriggled through by pushing with his elbows and his toes. When he emerged at the other end there was a similar pipe to negotiate. His head and shoulders came into view. He pressed on the ground with his hands and prised himself out. He ran towards the edge of a ravine down which a stream splashed over rocks. A rope hung from a tree. He grabbed it, backed, ran forward to gain impetus, swung out over the ravine and let go. He dropped heavily on his hands and knees, bounded up and ran to a high net. Climbing the net was not dangerous, but the mesh sagged and it was a hard test for the muscles of the arms and legs. Braddock kept moving. He did not pause for a rest. He scrambled over the top, let his legs dangle and then let go in a long drop. He ran to a wider ravine across which a rope was tightly stretched. He gripped the rope and let his legs sway. An expert would have used his feet as well, Braddock relied on the strength of his arms as he started across hand over hand. In the middle he stopped, teeth clenched, just hanging on. Underneath was a pool.
" He won't make it, sir,"chuckled Sergeant Hall.
Warrant Officer Jaggard smiled grimly. "Get ready to fish him out", he declared.
Braddock shifted a hand then began moving again. Inch by inch he worked along till he a foot on the bank. With a gasp he let go. He panted for breath but scrambled up and hurried to rock face. Up he went. It s a hard scramble ending with a crack in the face which gave a toe hold. Braddock climbed doggedly and reached the top. He ran down the slope at the back and jumped a ditch. Faced by the barbed wire he lay flat down, the strands were pegged only fifteen inches above the ground. With his chin nearly the dust, Braddock kept moving and got through.
As he ran to the finish Jaggard stopped the watch, "Four minutes ten seconds", he announced. "You nearly got your record, Sergeant".
"Yes, sir, it was a good effort", gasped Hall in a very suprised voice.
Braddock massaged his biceps. "I'm finding some muscles I didn't know I had", he muttered.
Braddock was the subject discussion in the instructors mess that evening. "l've never known a man change his ways like Braddock", remarked Flight Sergeant Yorkston. " I was at Middingford aerodrome when he was with a Lancaster squadron and he boke every rule in the book. I've put the finger on him today and he's never uttered a squeak".
"When I came by the gym just now he was in there on his own swinging a pair of Indian clubs" said Hall.
"I wonder if he'll go on as he has started?" murmured have Warrant Officer Jaggard.
Ten days passed. On the eleventh morning the class paraded in uniform before an Inspection by the C.O. Flight-Sergeant Yorkston walked slowly along the ranks to look the parade over. He came to Braddock and looked him up and down. There was not a fault he could find. From the brightly polished badge in his beret to his glistening toe-caps Braddock was turned out parade style.While at the course he had picked up a deep tan. The Flight Sergeant was moving on when Braddock's name was called on the tannoy with an order to report immediately to the warrant officers' office. On getting permission from Yorkston, Braddock doubled away.
Jaggard had a signal form in front of him. "We're losing you, Braddock," he said gruffly. "I'm sorry you can't stay to complete the course because I'm sure you would have gained a First Class Certificate. You are to report at Deningham aerodrome today."
"You run a good course and I feel all the better for comming here," replied Braddock earnestly. " I was only half fit when I arrived."
Jaggard rose from his chair, Shook hands with Braddock and wished him the best of luck.

EARLY on the following day Braddock flew over the North Sea. His destination was Eastwick Aerodrome, in Scotland. He did not know why he was ordered to take the Dart to this isolated Coastal Command station. Braddock flew at 50,000 feet. The alteration made to the wings gave him much more confidence in the machine. It felt it had greater stability. He was within a short distance of his destination and co uld see both the Forth and Tay Bridges to his left when the radio buzzed.
"Slowcoach ! Slowcoach !" the voice of the controller was harsh with alarm. " This is Wickerwork." He gave the day code sign for Eastwick. " I have a warning for you."
"I'm listening, Wickerwork," Braddock responded. He wondered what was wrong. He could not believe that the drome, which was about ten miles inland, had suddenly become fog smothered. Visibility was good.
" This is the warning!" exclamed the controller. " You've taken off without the parachutes." (He meant, of course, the parachutes used for braking. }
" Don't panic," Braddock snapped. " I am equipped with parachutes. That's the sort of thing I check myself."
" You are sure ?"
" Certain," Braddock retorted. " You'll see for yourself in about two minutes."
Braddock was satisfied with the way the Dart handled on approach. When the wheels thumped on the concrete and pulled the lever there was a woosh and the four parachutes shot from their compartment and filled. There was no throng of air-men to watch the Dart land. Coastal Command had vacated the drome at twenty-four hours' notice.
The reason for the alarm was simply explained. A set of parachutes had been found at Deningham after a transport plane containing the ground crew responsible for servicing the Dart had left for Eastwick. The first person Braddock saw when he got out of the Dart was Group Captain Flewitt.
" I'm sorry for the unnecessary alarm," he apologised.
" It's better to be safe than sorry," replied Braddock. He looked round. The drome was situated on the coastal plain with hills in the back-ground. " Why have we come here ?" he asked.
Flewitt raised a hand and pointed north-east. " Evidence has come through that Firing Point X, the German name for their firing site, is in Norway," he replied.

Next week a Titan rocket takes off and Braddock and the Dart face their first real test!


The Rover and Adventure from January 13th to June 9th 1962 - 22 issues



Picture - The Rover and Adventure February 3th 1962 - page 25

Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories


The Rover and Adventure -
13th Jan 1962 -
Page 2
ONE by one the four Merlin engines of a new Lancaster bomber roared into life and Sergeant Pilot Matt Braddock, V.C.. the captain of the aircraft, gave the signal for the chocks to be pulled away. It was twilight on a late autumn day in 1942 and we had been told at the brief-
ing that a hundred bombers were taking part in the raid. The target was a synthetic rubber plant, some other factories and a power station in the
Ruhr, the heart of the munitions industry in West Germany.
I could see Braddock looking
down through the side window at
the ground twenty feet below. There
was still sufficient light to show the
rugged characteristics of his face.
His eyes were his most striking
feature. The pupils seemed to be
wider than average and sometimes
they had a luminous quality as if a
light were shimmering behind them.
The station from which we were taking
off was Mannington, in Lincolnshire.
Most of the crew had flown with Braddock
in Wellingtons before he got the Lancaster.
I am Sergeant George Boume, and I had
been his navigator since the summer of
On this flight we had a bomb aimer,
Flying Officer Durridge, who was new to
our crew. He was short and slight, with
a fair moustache that could be best seen
in a strong light. He had been on fifteen
raids in Wellingtons and Manchesters.
There was a delay. An airman was
pulling at the rope connected with the
big chock in front of one of our aircrafts
wheels. The chock had become wedged in
the ground and the airman could not drag
it away.
Flying Officer Durridge was standing
behind Braddock. There was no hurry
for Durridge to take up his position in
the nose because we had a long slow run
ahead of us along the taxi—track to the
The airman didn’t manage to shift the
chock with the rope and crept under the
wing. He lay on his back under the
vast propeller, sweeping round four feet
over his head, and tried to free the chock
by kicking at it with his heel.
There was a note of irritation in
Durridge’s voice as he spoke.
“ Why doesn’t he pull his finger out
and use his wits ?” he drawled. “Hc’s
delaying us! The clot ought to ---”
Braddock glared angrily at Durridge.
“I can’t see you lying on your back
in the mud under the blooming pro-
peller,” he said quietly. “ The chap’s
doing his best and I’m not having him
called a clot.”
Durridge’s jaw hung open for a moment.
If Braddock had aimed a back-hander
at him he could not have been more sur-
prised. He did not know Braddock as we
knew Braddock ! Our pilot always
championed the n.c.o.s and airmen of the
ground crews against unfair comments
and criticism.
The airman seemed to think he had
loosened the chock sufficiently to pull it
away. His overalls flapped in the slip-
stream as he crawled back. He got up,
seized the rope and this time hauled the
chock clear.
Braddock gave him a wave and there
was a hiss of air as he released the brakes.
The Lank went rumbling along the taxi
track. We carried a 4000 lb. bomb,‘ two
1000 pounders and dozens of incen-

The Rover and Adventure
- 13th Jan 1962 - Page 3
‘ HANCOX. the flight
engineer, who was sitting
by Braddock. ran the
engines up to full power
one at a time checking the
supercharger. the airscrew
pitch control and the
I looked at my wrist watch.
The time was 16.44. Our
estimated time of departure
was 16.45, that is a quarter to
five in the afternoon. The
target was approximately 400
miles away and we were due
over it at 2000 hours, eight
o’cl0ck at night.
In the early years of the
bomber offensive, results had
not been as damaging to the
enemy as had often been
claimed. There were known
instances of bombers navigated
by dead reckoning over clouds,
dropping their bombs 50 miles
away from the target !
A radar aid called Gee had
been introduced. It depended
upon transmissions from three
stations in Britain, one master
station and two “ slaves”.
The pulses of these trans-
missions were displayed on a
cathode ray tube in the air-
craft and the theory was that
the navigator could fix his
position from them.
Our Lancaster had not yet
been equipped with Gee. Other
aircraft in the squadron had
the device. At the briefing We
had been told to bomb where
the Gee-equipped planes had
put down their explosives and
Braddock had passed no
comment beyond raising his
“ Hullo, Control, Z—Zebra
calling !” he said into his face-
mask microphone. “May we
take-off? Over !”
There was a prompt answer
from the control tower.
“ Okay! Take off!”
I listened while Braddock
and Ham collaborated quickly
and precisely in the take-off
drill. Our loaded Lancaster
weighed 30 tons. It was a hefty
load that needed firm handling
to get into the air.
Only that afternoon, while
we were having tea, Braddock
had remarked that the first
bomber he had flown, a Fairey
Battle, had weighed under five
tons when loaded.
He was a Bomber Command
pilot by choice. Bombers
suited his fighting instincts and
his desire to strike a telling
blow at the enemy.
“ Okay behind; rear
gunner?” he asked over the
“ Okay behind, skipper,”
came the answer from Chopper
Harris in the tail turret.
The din was terriffc as, for
the first time, all the engines
were run up together. The
acceleration threw me back as
Braddock released the brakes.
The Lank went racing down
the runway. I had a pencil
in my hand and the log was
open on the table, but it was a
superstition of mine never to
enter the time of take-off until
the wheels were right off the
I thought it was tempting
providence to anticipate the
actual take-off. .
The flarepath became a blur.
The hangars made dim out-
lines in the fading light. With
110 m.p.h. showing on the
air speed indicator Braddock
pulled back on the control
column. The pounding wheels
lifted from the runway and the
motion became steady. As
Braddock called for “ Climbing
power,” I jotted down the
time in the log.
Z—Zebra was one of the air-
craft which was equipped
with a camera for obtaining
a target photograph.
Securing a target photograph
added to the dangers.
When the bombs had gone
the pilot had to hold the machine
on a straight and level course,
for another twenty seconds.
This was in order to keep
the plane steady, with the
camera lens directed vertically
downwards at the aiming point
until the photo flash lit up the
The run up to the target
and the continuation while the
photograph was taken was the
period when the enemy gunners
had their best chance of hit-
ting you.
“ Cruising power,” Braddock
said to Ham, then called me,
“ Course, navigator ?”
We were on our way.

WE roared along at
12.000 feet over
broken clouds towards the
Ruhr in Western Germany.
With the target area a
hundred miles ahead the
weather conditions were

reasonable and t h e r e
seemed to be a good
chance of seeing the
ground when the flares
went down.
The two squadrons from Man-
nington were in the third and last
wave of the attack. Both squad-
rons were equipped with Lan-
casters. Stirlings and Halifaxes,
the R.A.F.’s other four-
engined bombers, were also
taking part in the raid.
We were nearing the target
area when Durridge’s voice
crackled on the inter-com-
munication phone.
“ There’s a glare ahead,
skipper," he reported.
“ Searchlights, too,” chipped
in Hoppy Robinson, a gunner,
from the dorsal turret—the
turret on top of the fuselage.
I had a feeling of satisfaction
as I saw a faint red glow and,
on either side, the nearer
glare of searchlights.
The glow was not crystal
clear. It was smudgy. It was
what we expected. By the
time the third wave of an attack
came in there was sure to be
As we drew nearer, the glow
expanded and we saw the burst
of anti-aircraft shells flickering
over the target area.
The haze filled in the gaps
in the clouds so that the ground
was largely obscured. We were
to attack from the north-east.
A vivid flash lit up the sky.
The beams from the search-
lights swung about, making a
suffused glow on the clouds
and occasionally penetrating a
gap. The flak—anti-aircraft fire
—-danced across the sky. I
could smell smoke.
Flash after flash on the over-
cast indicated that bombs were
bursting below. The impression
you got was that the ground was
on fire for miles, so widespread
was the glare. It aroused Dur-
ridge to enthusiasm.
“Oh, boy, it’s a real fireworks
display,” he chirped. “ It’s a
wizard prang.”
Braddock snapped at him.
“ Stop talking rot,” he said,
then spoke to me. “ Navigator,
are you sure we’ve come to the
right place?”
“ It’s been dead reckoning
for fifty miles,” I replied.
“ We were on course when I was
last able to check with a land-
“ Then you’ve done all right
in getting us here,”. growled
Braddock, “ but I think they’re
shovelling out their bombs in
the wrong place.”
A moment later we got his
decision. _
“ We’l1 go down and look,”
he said.
He made a wide sweep away
from the glare, turned and
dived. We broke out of the
clouds at about seven thousand
feet. There was a lot of smoke
but some ground details were
visible in the glare.
Bombs were bursting rather
to the north of where we came
out of the clouds. Fires were
burning over a wide area and
were particularly intense in
one spot.
With searchlights probing
for us, Braddock levelled out.
I saw a waterway and inland
I shall never forget Brad-
dock’s shout of sheer exaspera-
“ Heck, they couldn’t hit
a cow with a banjo !” he roared.
“ They’re bombing in the
Wrong place!”
As he spoke, a stream of light
flak came curling up at us.
It flashed past with a nasty
whistling hiss and exploded
with a bok, bok, bok not far
Braddock threw the plane
into a bank as more flak came
up in colours of sinister pretti-
ness, blue, white and green.
Braddock swung the plane
away into an area where no
fires were burning. In the
Ruhr, town ran into town with
hardly a break.
Searchlights were exposed
and more flak came up. At
Braddock’s order “Nicker”
Brown, the radio operator,
went aft into the fuselage and
shoved our biggest flares down
the chute.
When we turned again the
ground was lit up and I saw
the shape of the cooling towers
at a power station.
It was about six miles away
from the area that was being
“ I knew they were wrong,”
snapped Braddock. “ That’s our
The Rover and Adventure
- 13th Jan 1962 - Page 4
target, George. That’s the
power station.”
He wheeled away while the
ground flares continued to burn.
I did a height check. We were
at six thousand feet. Though
we were a long way from the
fires the air was smoky. The
Germans in our vicinity now
regarded us as a definite menace.
A searchlight held us for what
seemed an eternity. Flak
streaked past with its eerie
whistle. The bok, bok, bok of
exploding shells was very close.
Braddock made another sharp
“ Listen, bomb aimer, we’re
low enough to aim at a bung-
hole and hit it,” he rapped.
“ The synthetic rubber factory
lies beyond the power station
and you’ll see the big process-
ing shop. Don’t drop the bombs
till you’ve got it smack in the
sight and if you can’t see it
first time then we’ll make a
second run! Is that absolutely
clear ?”
“ You’ve made it quite clear,”
gasped Durridge.
We had not yet been equipped
with the new Stabilised Vector
Sight which allowed a pilot to
take some evasive action until
the moment of release. We had
the Course Setting Bomb Sight
and the aircraft had to be main-
tained on a straight and level
Braddock turned us on to
the course and opened the
bomb doors. We were all on our
own. There was not another
plane anywhere near to draw
some of the anti-aircraft fire
off us. The flak was dazzling.
I could smell the explosive
from the bursting shells.
I hoped Durridge would be
able to see the target and let
his bombs go first time.
Braddock sat in his raised pad-
ded seat as calmly as if he were
driving a bus. He had his mask
clipped over his mouth so that
he could use his microphone
while keeping both hands on
the wheel.
The run seemed to be end-
less. You could not help setting
your teeth and waiting for the
shattering crash and the blaze
you felt must come.
“ Left a bit, left, hold it,”
Durridge ordered tensely.
“ Bombs gone l”
There was a red flash and a
sound like shot-blasting on
our wings. The Lancaster would
have gone up like a lift when the
bombs dropped if Braddock
had not held it in level flight.
I heard the mufffed crump,
crump, crump, of the bombs
exploding and a flash lit the
the sky.
Braddock pushed the throttles
forward and yanked back the
stick,‘ We went roaring away
through the smoke, climbing
for the cover of the clouds.
To the north the fires were
going well.
“ I think you hit the tatget
smack on the button, bomb
aimer,” Braddock declared.
“Well, skipper, it was no
blind‘ shot,” replied Durridge
hoarsely. “I could see the
Braddock called Chopper
Harris in his tail turret.
“ What d’you say about it ?”
he asked.
“ The bombs must have been
near the target,” the gunner
answered. “ There’s a dull
glow but no big blaze as yet.”
“I’m satisfied,” said Brad-
dock as we entered the clouds.
“ I’m always a bit suspicious
of fires that blaze up the
moment the bombs go down.
You’ve got to give them time
to catch hold.”
He pulled his mask straight.
It was hanging crookedly.
“ I reckon that most of the
crews have been had for
suckers tonight,” he added
grimly. “ Their bombs went
dowin on decoy fires. That’s
what I think.”

WHEN we approached
the east coast the

moon was rising. It was be-
ecause of the moon thai we
had tcrken off early. Its
light could be dangerous.
It had not always been so.
Right through 1940 and
the early months of 1941 you
heard talk of the Bombers’
Moon. Because defences were
inadequate the brighter the
moonlight, the better it was for
bombing. "
The Luftwaffe attacked
Coventry in November, 1940,
for instance, on a night of
brilliant moonlight.
But, by 1942, the planning
staffs tried to avoid. getting their
big formations caught in the
moonlight. They could be too
easily seen by fighters.
As we crossed the sea Brad-
dock had engaged George, the
automatic pilot. Our bombers
no longer carried a co-pilot.
It was in March, 1942, that
the second pilot was dropped
from all Bomber Command
crews and, to assist the pilot,
a flight engineer was introduced.
At the same time the navigator
was released from the duty of
dropping the bombs and a
bomb airner - or air bomber-
joined the crew. The wireless
operator no longer had to be a
Braddock called the control
tower on the radio-telephone.
There were other aircraft ahead
of us. We were held in the
circuit for about ten minutes
before receiving permission to
I listened anxiously to the
technical conversation between
Braddock and Ham. .We had
been through heavy shellfire.
Sometimes damage did not
reveal itself until the time came
to land.
“ Flaps twenty,” Braddock
I watched the air-speed indi-
cator Our speed dropped to
I65 m. p.h. as Ham put down
twenty .degrees of fap.
“ Revs up !” came, Brad-
dock's next command.
" The engines whanged their
tune and whined loudly as the
constant-speed propeller con-
trols were pushed forward.
“Wheels down!” Braddock
snapped. “ Close the radiators!”
Ham shoved a lever over and
I felt a lot happier when two
green lights shone from the
panel. "
“ Wheels locked down,”
growled Ham, “ and that’s
more than I blooming well
expected ”
Braddock chuckled gruffy
and called for “ Full flaps.” We
sank towards the flare-path
with Ham singing out the speed
and height. We floated over the
perimeter track at 50 m.p.h.
“Okay, throttle back,” said
Ham snapped back the
throttles and we scarcely felt
the bump as the wheels came
into contact with the concrete.
With the engines popping, We
ran to a stop in about 900 yards,
then chugged away to our bay.
I saw the faces of the ground
crew in the moonlight. They
were staring up at the starboard
We had been lucky. The
wing was riddled with holes
between the outer engine and
the wing-tip and yet nothing
vital had been hit. There were
also holes in the tailplane.
A vehicle came along and
stopped. It was a lorry which
was picking up the crews from
the dispersal points.
Squadron Leader Gammon
swung out of the lorry and
came over. He was a short,
thick-set man of thirty or
thereabouts. He was extremely
effcient. Braddock got on all
right with him.
“Hello, so you caught a
packet,” he remarked. “Any
casualties ?”
“ No,” said Braddock. “ The
Germans didn’t shoot quite
straight enough.”
“Where did it happen ?”
asked the squadron leader.’
“ It must have been over the
target,” replied Braddock. He
The Rover and Adventure
- 13th Jan 1962 - Page 5
kept his voice down. “How
did Gee work ?” he inquired.
Gammon shrugged ex-
pressively as he turned back
towards the lorry.
“ The jamming was bad,”
he said. “ We hardly got a fix
after we’d passed over the
Dutch coast.”
“I guessed as much,”
muttered Braddock.

HANCOX was ahead
of us as we reached the
briefing room doorway. On
returning from a raid.
crews had to report to the
Intelligence officers for
questioning before going to
Ham looked into the big
room, then turned a scowling
“ There’s a flipping brass-hat
here,” he grumbled. “ Why
can’t they stay away ?”
We filed into the room. Two

Intelligence officers and their
clerks were sitting at a long
table. Near one end of the
table stood the Group Com-
mander, Air Vice-Marshal
Blere, and the Station Com-
mander, Group Captain
At a table at the side of the
room, tea and sandwiches were
available. There were probably
thirty fellows in the room, all
back from the raid.
From the buzz of conversa-
tion, I judged that the general
opinion was that the raid had
been a big success. ,
' Braddock pulled off his flying
helmet and put it on a ledge.
He walked to the side table and
drank a cup of tea. Then he
reached for a sandwich, nibbled
it and scowled.
He opened the sandwich. It
contained a piece of Spam that
had gone dry and hard.
I knew there was going to be
trouble when he set out across
the room with the sandwich
clutched in his hand. Our
squadron leader was giving his
version of the raid to the
Intelligence officers.
Braddock startled the
squadron leader by holding
the piece of Spam just in front
of his nose.
“ What are you going to do
about it, sir?” he asked. “ Look
at it! I bet it came out of its
tin a week ago.”
The Squadron Leader looked
surprised, then angry. The Air
Vice Marshal and Group
Captain Stayner broke off their
conversation and looked
distinctly pop-eyed.
“ First things first,”
spluttered the Squadron
Leader. “ Let’s get the inter-
rogation over.”
Braddock tossed the bits of
Spam into a wastepaper
“ You’re wrong in saying you
arrived over the target area,”
he said. “The fires you saw
were in the wrong place.”
“ The wrong place?” echoed
Braddock nodded.
“ Z-Zebra was the only
plane to find the synthetic
rubber factory and bomb it,”
he said.
Air Vice Marshal Blere, a
big, burly officer, bore down on
Braddock, followed by the
scowling Station Commander.
“ Who flies Z—Zebra ?” he
demanded fiercely.
“ I do,” said Braddock.
Blere puffed out his cheeks.
“Are you actually claiming
that you found the target and
that over a hundred other crews
failed to do so ?” he rapped.
“ Yes,” said Braddock, “ and
when the target photograph has
been developed you’ll see that
I’m right.”

IT was quite evident
that the only persons
in the room who did not
think Braddock was guilty
of a terrific piece of line-
shooting were the members
of his own crew.
Braddock kept on with his
positive statements as he
answered the questions of the
Intelligence officers.
“ As soon as I saw the canal
and docks I knew the bombs
were going down in the wrong
place,” he stated.
“ What did you do, then ?”
asked one of the officers.
“ I passed the remark that
they couldn’t hit a cow with a
banjo and looked round for the

real target,” said Braddock.
The murmurings grew in
volume. The A.O.C. and
Station Commander Went out of
the room.
Nicker Brown edged up to
Braddock. He was the last of
the crew to come in.
“ You may be out on a limb,
Brad,” he whispered. “I
saw the camera as it was
removed from the plane.”
“What about it ?” snapped
“It caught a packet,” said
our wireless operator. “ It’s
damaged by flak.”
. Braddock sniffed.
“ I’m not worrying,” he said.
“We bombed the right target.”
’Half an hour passed and we
had gone over to our hut when
a messenger turned up. Brad-
dock was to report at the
Station Commander’s office.
He went striding away in the
moonlight to the buildings.
The A.O.C., the Station
Commander and the Squadron
Leader were in the office
together with a sergeant of
the photographic unit.
Braddock’s gaze fixed on a
photographic print on the desk.
“ I was told the camera
might have been smashed,” he
“ It’s badly smashed,” stated
the sergeant, “ but it took the
photograph first.”
Braddock saw the cooling
towers at the edge of the print.
Right in the middle of the
photograph the bombs were
bursting across the big pro-
cessing shop of the synthetic
rubber factory.
“Your claim seems to be
justified, Sergeant Braddock,”
said Blere harshly. “You are
very experienced. Can you
make any suggestions as to why
the majority of the bombers
were wide of the target?”
“Visibility wasn’t good,”
Braddock replied, “ and there
was a lot of smoke. I think the
first bombs went down on
decoys and the planes in the
second and third waves just
aimed at the fires.
“ Gadgets like Gee are all
very well when they work, but
when they don’t, it’s the skill
of your crew that counts. So
our bomber crews must be
trained to such a standard that
no obstacle or mechanical
failure can stop them from
destroying their target.”

Next week Braddock refuses to
press home an attack on a heavily
defended target and is accused
of cowardice.




The Rover and Adventure from September 22nd 1962 to January 19th 1963 - 18 issues



Picture - The Rover and Adventure from September 29th 1962 - page 2

Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories


The Rover and Adventure
22nd Sept 1962 - Page 2
THERE was a sudden glare of hard, white light as our Lancaster
bomber was caught in the beam of a searchlight. It lit up the
interior of the cockpit, and, from the navigator's position. I saw the
head and shoulders of Sergeant-Pilot Matt Braddock as he sat in the
pilot's seat, both hands on the wheel. He was pérfectly cool. master
both of himself and of the machine.
Cr-ack, cr-ack, cr~ack! Through
the roar of the four engines, I heard
the sharp, vicious explosions of a
burst of flak.
It seemed as if all fury had been
uncorked over the Ruhr on that June night
in 1943. We were on our homeward
course after dropping an 8000-lb. bomb
on an oil plant.
Braddock made a shift of wheel and
rudder and we slithered out of the light
into the red murk-—an eerie glow caused
by the clouds reflecting the raging fires
I thanked my lucky stars that I was
flying with Braddock. A veteran of
Bomber Command, Braddock had flown
on the first night of the war in 1939.
He was not a regular, having done his
training with the Volunteer Reserve.
Anyway, he had been called up in time
to take off on the first day of the war,
September 3, 1939.
Cr-ack, cr-ack, or-ack! There was
another series of explosions. I felt the
surge of the huge plane as Braddock
kept weaving.
Flak was bad. But in June, I943, the
night-fighters were even more dangerous
and were destroying more of our bombers
than flak-—wbich, by the way, is a con-
traction of Fliegerabwehrkanone, the
German word for anti-aircraft fire.
I am Sergeant George Bourne and I
had fown as Braddock’s navigator since
the mmmer of 1940.
The beam of a searchlight slashed
across us again. Then, the voice of Hoppy
Robinson, our gunner in the mid-upper
turret, crackled over the intercom.
“ Tracers, two o’c1ock,” he reported-—
using the clock code to indicate the
Tracer shells made fiery tracks in the
sky and indicated that a bomber was
being attacked by a night-fighter. The
shooting stopped and we hoped that
the bomber had escaped serious damage.
Tragically, this was not the case, and
it was not long before the tracers were
seen again. It was a kill. We were near
enough to see flames start to blow back
across the starboard wing of a Halifax
The flickers were fanned to a blaze
which quickly engulfed the wing and
started to spread. Even while it was burn~
ing, the Halifax flew on a straight course.
Braddock’s voice rasped on the inter-
“ Gunners, don’t gawp at the fire,”
he snapped. “ Keep looking around or it’l1
be our turn next.”
Braddockis warning was not necessary,
because he trained his crews to such a
high degree of efficiency that they were
always on their toes. That a gunner had
satisfied his instructors and received
his badge did not mean that he was
anywhere near the standard demanded
by Braddock.
Hoppy had once exclaimed in a
moment of exasperation that Braddock
expected his gunners to hit the target
with wide deflection shots while flying
upside down in a blinding blizzard.

SINCE I was not manning a
machine-gun turret. I watched
the end of the Halifax in desperate
anxiety. hoping that the crew would
have time to bale out.
Their last chance went when the flames
leapt from one end of the plane to the
other and the aircraft slowly heeled over.
The starboard wing broke away and
fluttered down on its own.
Now the Halifax became the centre of a
writhing, bubbling ball of fire that
left a long trail of smoke as it plunged
I noted the occurrence in the log.
It was the third bomber we had seen go
down. I checked our position. We had a
long run across the Netherlands before
we reached the comparative security of
the North Sea.
A yell from Chopper Harris, who
manned the four machine-guns in the
tail turret, warned us of imminent danger.
“ Starboard go!” he cried and he had
hardly finished speaking before the huge
Lancaster wheeled as Braddock acted on
the warning with lightning shift of wheel
and rudder.
“ It’s a Junkers Eighty-eight,” shouted
Chopper, who had seen the black out-
line of the attacking plane as it appeared
behind us.
Chopper brought his four guns snarling
into action as flaming tracer shells flashed
past us. Then Hoppy had a crack at the
German machine as it flashed past. Don
Durridge, in the front turret, did not see it.
Our Browning guns each fired twelve
shots per second. Over 95,000 rounds
were carried in the ammunition trays.

The Rover and Adventure
22nd Sept 1962 - Page 3
With eyes straining for the
fighter, we flew on. The Junkers
Ju 88, night-fghter version, was
a tough customer. It had two
I400-h.p. engines and a crew of
three. It carried one 20-mm.
cannon and three machine-
guns in the nose.
Two additional cannon were
carried in a detachable mount~
ing under the nose.
The German night-fghters
had A.I. sets——airborne radar
equipment for detecting and
intercepting aircraft.
A minute or so passed, then
Braddock spoke quickly.
“I can see the Junkers,”
he warned the gunners. “ It’s
ahead and below!”
“ I haven’t spotted it yet,”
Don muttered. -
Braddock always said he
could not seein the dark, but
there was no doubt that he
possessed exceptional night
vision. His large eyes were
set wide apart. By day he
certainly had a wider range of
vision than an average person.
“ Ah, I see what the German
is going to do,” he rapped. “ He
hopes to climb under us and
give us a kick in the tummy !”
This form of attack was a
favourite with the German
night-fighter pilots. They
climbed almosot vertically, then
fired and dived just as they
were on the point of stalling.
“ It’s under us now.”
Braddock snapped. “ We’1l
upset his blooming applecart!
Stand by I'm going to dive !”
He pushed the wheel hard
forward and down went the
Lancaster’s big, blunt nose.
The Junkers was climbing
and it must have given the crew
a tremendous shock when they
saw a huge Lancaster diving
towards them.
I was soon hanging by my
harness. The Junkers appeared
to roll over as the pilot took
evasive action, but Don hit it
with a hail of bullets from his
two guns,
Braddock pulled the
Lancaster oul of its dive.
There came a hoarse shout from
Chopper who had. been swung
about in‘the tail turret like a
conker on a string.
“We’ve got it, we’ve got
it,” he hollered. “The Hun’s
going down in flames !”

AT 18.000 feet we ran
on towards the
Dutch coast with its belt of
searchlights and guns.
Braddock kept weaving.

The moon was in its last
quarter and the sky became
lighter as it rose.
Hoppy broke the silence.
“Plane, three o’clock,” he
reported. “ It seems to be on a
parallel course to ours.”
“ Lank ?” Braddock snapped.
“No, it’s too small for a
Lank,” Hoppy said. “It’s
okay! I’m sure it’s a Beau-
A few moments passed and
Braddock set his seal on the
gunner’s identification.
“Aye, it’s a Beau,” he stated,
“and, from what we saw
tonight, the Beaufighters might
as well have stopped at home.”
“ The Beau isn’t the plane
for the escort job,” Ham
“No, of course it isn’t,”
snapped Braddock. “The
Beaufighter is a, good aeroplane
in many respects, but you
can’t tell me that it’s sufficiently
fast and nimble to intercept
the German night-fighters.”
With the enemy night-
fighters becoming more and
more numerous and effective,
the idea had been adopted of
sending out fighters to protect
our bombers.
The Beau had been selected
and fitted with a device for
locating the German fighters.
The idea was not working,
however. While the Beau was
itself an adequate night~fighter
there was a wide difference
between intercepting a bomber
and a fighter.
The maximum speed of the
bomber version of the Ju 88
was 273 miles an hour. This
compared with the 311 m.p.h.
top speed of a Ju88 night-
fighter of the type that had
taken a crack at us.
In addition to being nearly
40 m.p.h. faster, the fighter
was much more manoeuvrable
than the bomber.
We lost sight of the
Beau — which was often
called “Whispering Death”
because, by some quirk, a person
directly in front of it could only
hear its engines faintly. The first
warning of its approach on a
strafing run against the infantry
was when its bullets start-
ed mowing down the enemy.
German anti~aircraft shells
exploded as we ran the
gauntlet of the coastal defences.
Once through the defences,
I knew that we could relax
for a while when Braddock
handed the Lank over to the
charge of George, the automatic
pilot. Braddock unhooked his
oxygen mask and demanded
Braddock got his tea which, to
please him, had to be strong,
scalding hot, and sweet. He
never touched an alcoholic
drink and never smoked. He
reckoned that both were bad
for the eyes.
As we approached the coast
of East Anglia, we sighted a
searchlight beam. At first it
stood up straight. Then it
dipped and pointed inland.
The searchlight was pointing
at an emergency landing ground
near the coast. A returning
bomber was in trouble and
the pilot had sought this
In no trouble ourselves, we
crossed the English coast near
Cromer and headed for our base
at Trewington.
Braddock spoke to the
controller on the radio-phone
and had just received permission
to. “ pancake ” when another
pilot cut in anxiously.
“ Can I pancake
immediately?” he requested.
“ My machine has been shot
up and two members of the
crew are badly injured.”
Braddock chipped in.
“ I'1l give way,” he offered.
The controller at once
cancelled our landing
permission and called to the
other pilot to pancake.

WHILE we were cruis-
ing round, a distant
plane fired red flares. a
signal of distress. A remote
coastal searchlight started
to act as a signpost. Then
a fire sprang up some-
where else and it looked as
if another plane had
After every big raid, some of
the returning bombers limped
home, and there were inevitably

crashes, but never had we seen
so many signs that planes were
in trouble.
A flash on the northern
skyline increased our
anxieties. It was followed by a
red glow.
After a wait of seven minutes,
which I timed and logged, we
received permission to land.
Wheels down! Flaps down!
We passed through the “ gate,”
indicated by the marker lights,
and the concrete streaked under
our wheels after five hours in
the air.
When we had taxied to our
dispersal point, we heard from
our ground crew, that five of
the twenty Lancasters that had
taken off from Trewington were
still missing.
A tender picked us up. On
our way in we passed the
Lancaster to which we had
given way when landing. The
fuselage was riddled with holes
just aft of the wing roots.
Humping our parachutes, we
trudged towards the airfield
buildings, heading for a door-
way that provided a short cut,
through the administration
block, to the operational section.
We met a handful of lads
turning away from the door.
“ We’ve got to go round the
long way,” one of them said.
“ Our boots have been making
a mess of the office lino in the
administration block.”
Braddock kept on towards the
doorway, framed in which was
the figure of a burly flght-
sergeant of the disciplinary staff.
Just as the flight-sergeant
opened his mouth and started
to tell us to go round, Braddock
appeared to catch his toe under
the top step of the flight lead-
ing up to the entrance.
Thud! Braddock’s entire
weight hit the flight-sergeant
as he fell forward. Down went
the chiefy as if he had been
tackled on a rugger pitch. He
sat on the floor and gasped.
“ The step needs a new white
line,” remarked Braddock as
he recovered his balance and
walked on down the corridor.
Steps were painted White
so that they could be seen in the
black-out. _Braddock was
inferring that he had not seen
the step.
We followed Braddock,
while the flight-sergeant was
picking himself up and putting
his cap on. In a faint, breathless
voice he ordered us to come
back, but nobody took any
notice. Maybe our boots did
make some marks on the
The Rover and Adventure
22nd Sept 1962 - Page 4
linoleum, but we were saved
a detour of something like a
hundred yards.
Braddock glowered at me.
“How many planes have
we seen shot down?” he asked.
“ I’ve logged three I said.
“ I haven’t logged the crashes
we’ve seen since crossing the
“Yep, it’s been murder
tonight, and yet they worry
about marks on the lino,”
growled Braddock. “I’ve no
patience with them.”
However, when we entered
the operations room we were
right back in a grim and
anxious atmosphere.
I was glad to see that our
C.O., Squadron-Leader Hall,
had got back safely. The
Station Commander, Group
Captain Slingsby, was in the
room and there were two or
three offfcers who were strangers.
All had wings and decorations.
A Wing~Commander with
dark, straight, bushy eyebrows,
appeared to be particularly
The intelligence = officer
started to ask Braddock the
routine questions.
“ Did you see any enemy
night-fighters ?” he inquired.‘
Braddock nodded.
“ We saw one, a Junkers,”
he said. “We shot it down.”
I saw that Braddock’s
announcement, made in a
matter-of-fact voice, caused a
stir among the visiting officers.
At the end of Braddock’s
report, Wing - Commander
Farrow, the officer with the
prominent eyebrows, put a
question himself.
“ How many enemy fighters
have you shot down over
Germany ?” he asked.
“ I've never counted them,
sir,” Braddock responded.
“ Quite a few; but, don’t forget,
I’ve been flying a long time.”

BRADDOCK and I had
just finished a late
breakfast the next morning
when the loudspeakers oi
the tannoy crackled. We
heard our names called
out. We were ordered to
report to the Squadron
“ It sounds as if the flight-
sergeant is gunning for us,”
I said.
Braddock shrugged.
“ Mebbe,” he growled. “ He
seemed to be really worried
about the lino.”
But, on our way to the

squadron office we saw an
erk painting a fresh white line
on the step, watched by the
flight-sergeant. The latter did
not see us.
When we entered the office
we found that Wing-
Commander Farrow was in the
office with Squadron-Leader
Gammon rose from his chair.
He came round and leaned
against the front of his desk.
The atmosphere was informal.
“You’l1 be familiar with
the old saying about setting a
thief to catch a thief,” he said
to us. “You have both had
great experience of flying over
Germany and in the tactics
employed by the enemy’s night-
“ lt’s because of this that
Wing-Commander Farrow
seeks your posting to his
squadron of Beaufighters. To
this proposal, the A.G.C.,
Group, has given his consent.”
The silence was tense.
Braddock’s expression was set,
He was a bomber pilot by
instinct. Fighters, broadly
speaking, were defensive.
Bombers attacked.
Wing-Commander Farrow
broke the silence.
“ Counting machines that
returned to this country, then
crashed, Bomber Command,
lost thirty. aircraft last night,”
he stated. “ It is estimated that
eighteen of these losses were
due to attacks by German
night-fighters?’ _
“ Thirty,” Braddock gasped.
“ That’s terrible!”
The Wing-Commander
frowned worriedly. .
“ We sent out ten
Beaufighters last night,” he
said. “ With their special
apparatus most of them
contacted enemy planes, but
not one Beau managed to close
with a German fighter.”
“ I doubt if the Beau is
the plane for the iob,” Braddock
“ It is the plane we have to
use,” snapped the Wingco.
“ My crews are all fighter-
trained. I need a crew
accustomed to operating under
air-raid conditions to take
advantage of the new
apparatus with which the
Beaufighters are equipped.”
“ I don’t want to part with
you,” remarked our C.O.,
“ but the situation is critical.”
Braddock suddenly looked at
“What about it, George?”
he demanded. “You’d be the
The Rover and Adventure
22nd Sept 1962 - Page 5
fellow who has to use the new
My thoughts returned to the
burning Halifax. In my mind’s
eye, I saw it turned into a ball
of fire.
“ Let’s have a crack at it !”
I said.
* * * * *
On an evening in the follow-
ing week, Braddock looked
round at me from his seat in a
Beaufighter. It stood on the air-
field at Grimley in East Anglia.
A grin appeared on his rugged
“ You don’t half look
cluttered up,” he said.
“ I should like to go back to
Blenheims,” I retorted.
Braddock gave a guffaw. I
first flew with him in a
Blenheim bomber in which the
navigational gadgets were few
and simple.
Now I sat in a swivel chair,
surrounded by radar tubes
and other instruments. It was
necessary to have a seat that
swivelled so that I could tum
from the navigation equipment
to the interception equipment.
I had heard the comment
passed that the only item of
equipment lacking from the
observer’s cockpit was a kitchen
One of tlie radar devices
in the Beaufighter was known
as Serrate. I will not pause now
to describe how it was used.
The system was complicated
and I had had to do a lot of
homework in learning how to
use it.
The other members of our
Lancaster crew had all been
near to the end of their tour on~
operations and had been sent
on leave.
Braddock started to go
through his cockpit drill. We
were flying with the bombers
to Germany that night after our
brief period of training.
Our Mark VI Beaufighter
carried four 20-mm. cannon in
the nose and four machine-guns
in the wings. It had a range of
I500 miles that could be
increased with auxiliary tanks.
A figure in flying clothes
emerged out of the twilight.
Wing-Commander Farrow was
himself going out on the
operation. He halted under the
nose of our Beau and wished
us the best of luck.
The air was» full of engine
noises as bombers from
neighbouring clromes took off
and started their long climbs.
“ I like the Wingco,”
Braddock remarked after
Farrow had moved on, “and
I’d like to bring down a
German fighter for him. He
has commanded the squadron
for over a month and they
haven’t had a victory yet.”

WITH our two Her-
cules engines pur-
ring steadily away, we flew
over Holland at 20.000 ieet.
We were keeping five or
six miles away from the
main stream of bombers.
The Beaufighters were not
regarded as close escorts.
We were flying as hunters.
and the Junkers 88s and
Domier 217s were to be
our prey.
Braddock’s voice sounded on
the inter-com.
“Anything doing?” he
“Not yet,” I muttered.
Picture me if you can. An
obsetver needed to be a
contortionist. I had turned
the swivel seat so that I
could watch the radar tube
of the Serrate set. It was very
much like a small television
screen enclosed in a visor.
I had to lean forward so that
I could press my head against
a rubber pad on top of the
visor. I did this while wearing
an oxygen mask. “
The oxygen tube and the
flex of the inter-com dangled
from the mask. I needed both
hands to manipulate the
I was operating the Serrate
radar device which would
enable us, if we were lucky,
to home on the air interception
radar signals of a German
fighter. Our device picked up
not the plane itself, but the
pulses from its radar trans-
An important feature of
Serrate was its long range. It
was effective up to 100 miles.
However, it indicated the bear-
ing and not the distance of the
In the final stages of the
hunt I should switch over from
Serrate to the ordinary A.I.
radar set which picked up the
actual plane and was effective
up to four or five miles.
Thus it was intended that
Serrate should be employed
to bring the enemy within A.I.
range and that the A.I., as
in normal night fighting,
should bring the hostile plane
within range of the pilot’s eyes.
The same tube was used for
Serrate and ordinary plotting.

I know it sounds complicated
and it had to be attempted in a
swaying metal cockpit with
a background of engine noise.
With my face close up to a
flickering tube, my back bent,
and my oxygen mask rubbing
the skin off my face, I soon
became very uncomfortable.
I forgot all about the dis-
comfort and difficulties, how-
ever, when blips started to
dance across the screen.
“ Brad,” I whooped, “ we’ve
picked up a plane! It’s straight
ahead!” _
“ Okay, hold on to it,”
snapped Braddock.
So long as the blips-spots
of light kept dancing across
the screen we were bearing on
the enemy. Braddock knew
that it was impossible for me
to give him the range.
I switched over to the A.I.
set. Nothing! I switched back
again. It was complicated, but
intensely exciting. I kept
changing over and at last I
got what I hoped for, a big
blip on the short range A.I.
set. At last I could give
Braddock some real assistance.
“ Brad, it’s straight ahead and
a little below,” I reported.
“The distance is about three
thousand yards!”
Braddock put the nose down
and the Beaufighter started to
whistle. I believe it was the
Japs who gave it the name of
Whispering Death.
I kept the blip in the middle
of the tube by giving Braddock
instructions-Go right, go left !
Hold it!
“I can see it!” he rapped
and levelled out.
I lifted my head. I had spots
in front of my eyes, but I
could see the fiery streaks of
our tracer shells as Braddock
It wasa very short squirt.
“It’s diving,” he snapped.
“ Junkers.”
We were diving, too, diving
so fast that the whistling rose
to a howl. I nearly blacked out
when Braddock used the
trimmer to help him pull out
of the dive. He followed this
with a tight tum which pinned
me to my seat with crushing
I gasped out-—“ Can’t help
you,” for the blip was shooting
about the A.I. screen in a
crazy fashion and often went
right out of the screen.
“ It’s all right, I can see it,”
Braddock rapped. “ I think
it has lost the muffler from
its exhaust.”
No trick tried by the German
was successful in losing
Braddock. It was a fantastic
duel in the dark. We zoomed,
rolled, and dived again.
While hanging on to the
German, Braddock never gave
him the chance to get an
effective shot at us. My
impressions were very blurred.
It was difficult to tell how long
the manoeuvres went on.
The Junkers fired at us and
missed by a long way. Braddock
blazed off a short burst, then
there were more dizzy tums
and dives before he snapped,
“Got it!” and fired a long
burst that sent the German
fighter spinning down in flames.
* * * * *
The Wingco was back at
base before us. Other pilots and
observers had also returned
and were in the ops. room. They
all looked dog tired and glum.
“Did you have any luck?”
asked Farrow hoarsely.
“Aye, you can call it
beginner’s luck,” said Braddock.
“ We got a Junkers.”
Thus he announced the
squadron’s first kill and there
was a surge of excitement.
The Wingco slapped a hand
on Braddock’s shoulder.
“Well done,” he praised.
“Was it a chance inter-
ception ?”
Braddock shook his head.
“No, no, the instruments
worked well,” he said and
gratefully accepted a mug of
That was what Braddock said,
but, in fact, it was his superb
flying skill that prevented the
German from getting away.

A narrow escape from col-
lision, and guns that won’t
fire~—these are only two of
the things which happen to
Braddock and Boume, next



The Rover and Wizard from February 15th 1964 to May 9th 1964 - 13 issues






Picture - The Rover and Wizard from February 29th 1964 - page 21

Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories



Rover and Wizard
15th Feb 1964 - Page 2
AT last l can tell the truth
about the most astounding
flying operation ever carried
out in peace or war. Through its
complete success, and thanks to
the skill and courage of one man,
the lives of thousands were saved.
Perhaps even more important, the
precarious peace of Europe
immediately after the defeat of
Germany in 1945 was saved as
The man the world has to thank?
Sergeant Matt Braddock, V.C. and
Bar, D.F.M.
My name is George Bourne, and
during the war l flew as Braddock's
navigator. He was the finest pilot
ever to leave the ground. He was
the best friend a man could have,
if you won his respect. "
But I cannot pretend that Braddock
was without enemies. In fact, he
antagonised nearly every other person
with whom he came in contact. He got
my back up more than once, and I knew
him better than most men. - .
He was no respecter of rank or uniform,
and hated red tape as much as he hated
the enemy he fought. In the air, he was
unsurpassed by any other pilot, friend or
But that had been during the war, when
Braddock’s name was a household word.
In those days his success as a bomber
pilot was well known. He was more of a
national hero than he cared about.
Braddock had never been one to fuss
over his own success. He cared little,
openly anyway, about his decorations, and
his medal ribbons were usually hanging
from his tunic by a few threads.
But he was still a famous man, of
course. Stories about him often appeared
in the Press, and they made jolly good
morale-boosting material, I can tell you!
Which all underlines the extraordinary
secrecy of the job about which I can now
tell the story. Not a word about it has
ever been published. No medals were
given to those who took part. There are
no marked graves for the ones who
failed to return. This is unrecorded
flying history.
I was not in on it right at the beginning.
The war was over. Braddock and the rest
of us had been demobbed and were trying
to find our feet in civvy street again.
It was not until then that I had ever
wondered about Matt Braddock out of
uniform. It came as a surprise to discover
that in peacetime he was a steepleiack. It
was a job that would suit him, I realised.
While Braddock went back to Walsall,
his home, I retumed to Birmingham,
where I had been apprenticed in the tool
room before joining up.
And that, I suppose, would have been
the end of it until we met again and
exchanged our news and views.
In fact, a lot happened about which
I knew nothing at the time. Braddock
told me about it afterwards.
He had been back home in Walsall,
in his own job as a steeplejack, for two or
three weeks when the wheels began to
Braddock was working on the sulphur-
caked rim of a two-hundred-foot factory
chimney when his mate, a youngster
learning the trade, joined him with a
“There’s a bloke down there asking
for you, Mister Braddock,” he said.
“ Oh, is there?” growled Braddock,
and went on with what he was doing.
“ He told me to ask you to see him,”
added the lad.
“Well, he’ll have to wait!” snapped
Braddock. “ What does he think I am?
A jack-in-the-box to pop up and down
this stack for his benefit?”
He frowned to himself, adding, “ He’s
probably only one of these fool reporters
trying to make a story out of nothing.
I wish they’d leave me alone now the
war’s over.”
“ I don’t think he was a newspaper
man,” said the boy. '
Braddock grinned in spite of himself.
“ How do you know what a newshound
looks like, Tommy, eh ?” he challenged.
Tommy got confused after that, and
beyond reminding Braddock that the
stranger was still waiting, let the matter
When he was good and ready, and not
before, Braddock made the long climb to
the ground.
“ Matthew Braddock ?”
Braddock glared balefully at the man
who approached him. He was an under-
sized little man, insignificant and diffident.
He was not smart or dapper, but rather
seedy looking, and his clothes were un-
distinguished. The kind of man, Braddock
reflected, one would not notice at all
unless he dropped dead and caused a
traflic jam.
“ What do you want ?” Braddock
demanded, Without answering the ques-
“ You, if your name is Braddock,” was
the unruffled reply.
Braddock towered over the stranger.
Braddock was a big man, anyway, with a
strong chin, a full, heavy-lipped mouth,
and a dent across his nose where it had
been broken at some time.
“Perhaps you’d be interested if I
told you Air Marshal Sir Gerald Tops-
ham wants to see you.”

Rover and Wizard
15th Feb 1964 - Page 3
Braddock’s expression
changed when he heard the
Air Marshalls name.
“You're not joking?” he
demanded suspiciously. “ No,
of course you’re not. What’s in
the wind, eh, little man ?”
The stranger shrugged very
slightly. There was a sudden
impish twinkle in his lack-
lustre eye.
“ It jnst might have some-
thing to do with flying, Brad-
dock,” he murmured. “Will
you come with me straight-
away, please ?”
Braddock said nothing, only
gave a nod. The two men, one
the finest pilot in the world, the
other a member of M.I.5, fell
into step and were soon lost
among the passers-by on a
nearby busy street.
I have often wished I had
been present in London when
Braddock strolled casually into
the Air Marshall’s office. He
was still wearing his working
clothes, and carried a strong
smell of sulphur from the
factory chimney with him.
Outside the private office,
horrified clerks and uniformed
secretaries tried to stop him.
They thought he was a dustman
at first, A commissionaire
planted himself right in front
of the Air Marshal’s door and
ordered Braddock off.
“ The Air Marshal wants to
see me,” Braddock growled.
“ Go and ask him if you don’t
believe me.” .
The commissionaire turned
“ You must be mad, my
man !” he barked.
But at that moment the door
of the office opened and Sir
Gerald Topsham himself
“Ah, Braddock!” he said
sharply. “ Glad you got here.
Do come in. We’re waiting for
Braddock stepped past the
astounded commissionaire with
a sweet smile that was like a
stab in the ribs to the man’s
“ Pardon me, you slob,” he

HERE were four men
in the Air Marshal's
office. Topsham
himself, a very f am o u s
General, and two civilians,
one of whom Braddock
recognised immediately as
a very senior Government

Minister. The other he did
not know, but suspected
was a top-ranking member
of M.I.5, the Secret
It was this last man who was
given the job of explaining
why Braddock had been sent
“You tell him, John,” said
Sir Gerald gruffly.
Someone coughed a little
uncomfortably. The only one
in the room who knew Brad-
dock Was Sir Gerald. The
other three were thinking he
was a bit of a rough customer.
Something, Braddock was
told, was going on in a remote
part of Europe. All that was
known for sure was that certain
German scientists and engineers
as well as a number of first-
class German officers, had “ dis-
appeared ” shortly before the
“ They have not been taken
away by the Russians,” said
the M.I.5 man decisively.
“ All these men are known to
have been fanatically loyal to
Hitler, the German leader. It
is our belief they are working
on an advanced form of
weapon, such as a new rocket
missile, in some remote site
among the mountains some-
where in this area, here.”
He gave a stab with his
finger at a map.
Braddock glanced up sharply.
“ That’s the Russian zone,”
he said flatly. “ Aren’t they on
to this business ?”
“ We don’t think so, Brad-
dock. It’s a very isolated area,
thousands of square miles of
forest and inaccessible moun-
tain country. We don’t even
know exactly what the German
fanatics are up to, but we’ve
got to find out, and stop it
before they do anything _that
could start another war.
“ What’s more, it’s got to be
done in absolute secrecy. The
war may be over, but as you
know yourself, Braddock, the
countries of Europe are all
pretty much on edge. A spark,
an incident, a misunderstand-
ing arising out of this affair,
could start the whole disaster
over again.” stated the civiliian.
“ I see that,” said Braddock
grimly. “And the rest of the
German people must be kept
in the dark to prevent any
trouble there. What about the
Russians ?”
“ They must have no inkling
of our plans,” was the reply.
“ If these German fanatics
have a secret weapon,
the last people we want to get
hold of it are the Russians.
Braddock’s lip quirked in a
“ I can guess!” he growled.
“Very well, what exactly do
you want me to do ?”
“ Find out what is going
on, and if necessary destroy
any installation likely to
jeopardise the safety of Europe.
It will entail flying of the
highest order, possibly bomb-
ing, and certainly aerial recon-
“ You will, of course, operate
from a base in the British zone,
close to the Russian border.
I need hardly impress on you
the , importance of absolute
secrecy, and the vital need
not to be discovered by our
friends the Russians. I don’t
mean for your own sake, Brad-
dock. I mean for the sake of
peace,” ended the M.I.5 man.
Only one snag arose in the
talk. Sir Gerald asked if anybody
would miss Braddock if he
quietly disappeared from his
usual haunts.
“ I could make it right with
my firm,” said Braddock. “ But
there might be a shindig over
this absurd civic reception the
mayor and aldermen have laid
on for Saturday. Personally, I
should be delighted to vanish
and let them lump it!”
The men round the table
shook their heads.
“ That wouldn’t do,” said
the M.I.5 man decisively. “ We
shall have to think of something
that will explain your absence
in a foolproof way. Something
like—let me see—ah, would
you be prepared to fall off a
chimney, Braddock? For the
good of your country, I mean ?”
Braddock gave him a grim.
“I might consider falling
into one,” he said. “Not off
it, chum! There’s no future
in that!”
They did some more natter-
ing, and presently Braddock
said that if he was going to do
Rover and Wizard
15th Feb 1964 - Page 4
any flying on the job, he would
pick his own aircrew.
The Air Marshal glanced at
his companions in some exas-
peration, then turned back to
“Very well,” he said.
“You’ve made your point,
Braddock. Now we’ll arrange
the final details, shall we ?”
The first I knew about any
of this was when I opened the
evening paper one Saturday
to see how the local league
team had got on in their away
match that day, and spotted a
brief news item instead.
The heading attracted my
attention at once, but it was
only when I read further that
the sudden sick feeling of
dismay fairly choked me.
“ Famous flying ace killed,”
read the headline. “Tragedy
strikes on eve of civic recep-
I read on, full of incredulity
and dismay--
“ Matt Braddock, a national
hero, especially dear to the
hearts of the people of his home
town, died today in a tragic
“A steepleiack by trade,
Braddock, the only living air
ace with a V.C. and Bar, fell
into the interior of a four-
hundred-foot-high chimney on
which he was working. A spokes-.
man said it was unlikely the
body would be recovered.
“A special reception at the
Town Hall, Walsall, had been
planned for this evening, when
the town had intended to do
honour to its famous hero.
“ Now, instead of speeches
and gaiety on a grand scale,
there will be widespread mourn-
ing for the sad loss of a man
who will be remembered as one
of the great personalities of
the last war-"
'There was some more of
it, but I only skimmed the
Braddock dead! I found it
difficult to believe. He and I
had flown together so often
that I knew he would never
have made a careless slip and
killed himself by accident like
He was a man who only took
risks when they were necessary,
when the success of a bombing
raid depended on it, perhaps.
Nor was he ever forgetful of
his own insistence on the
highest standard of skill in
whatever he did, or expected
others to do.
Yet there it was in black and
white. Matt Braddock, twice
winner of theVictoria Cross,
was dead.

I FORGOT to look and
I see how Birmingham
had fared in the
match. My mind was
numbed. On the way home
I almost got run over by
a bus.
I had never realised how
much Braddock had meant
in my life until suddenly
it seemed he had been
snatched away.
It was not as though I
expected to see such a lot of
him, for we had lived a long
way from each other. But the
news of his death brought a
hollow, empty feeling.
And then, when I got back
to my digs, I found someone
waiting to see me. He was a
seedy individual with a grey
moustache tinged yellow from
cigarette smoke, and he wore
a drab suit with one odd
button. -
He gave me a nod and a gruff
word of greeting, and handed
me an envelope with my name
on it.
At sight of the handwriting
my temples throbbed. Brad-
dock had written it! But since
Braddock was dead it seemed
a grim stroke of luck indeed
that his note, whatever it was,
should have reached me now,
as I mourned, him.
But when I slit the envelope
and pulled out a folded sheet
of paper, I hardly knew what
to think.
“ Dear George,
Ignore anything you
read. Come straight to
where the bearer will bring
you, keep your mouth buttoned,
and don’t leave a forwarding
address. See you.”
It was unsigned, on purpose
I learned later, but the familiar
handwriting was good enough
for me.
“Ready ?” said my visitor.
“ You know who it’s from.”
“Yes,” I said slowly, still
bewildered. “ I don’t know
what it’s all about, but if he
wants me I’m ready to leave
at once. No one will miss me
“ I only moved in last week,
didn’t like it, and gave in my
notice the next day. I was
leaving tomorrow in any case.”
He nodded.
“ Couldn’t be better, Mister
Bourne. Your friend has work
to do. I understand he wants
a reliable—-er-—navigator. Satis-
fied ?” he asked.

Rover and Wizard
15th Feb 1964 - Page 5
I could not help but catch
my breath in a light gasp of
“Perfectly,” I said. “ Shall
we go ?”
I joined Braddock in a lonely
country house somewhere in
Southern England. The Air
Marshal was there, in civilian
clothes, of course, and another
man, I later discovered, was the
M.I.5 wallah.
Braddock’s greeting was
characteristic. He grinned and
waved a large hand.
“ Take the weight. off your
feet, George,” he said. “ Sorry
if you had a scare, but thanks
for coming along. Sir Gerald
here has given us as job. Top
secret. .
“ No medals, no kudos, not
even a headstone if you don’t
come back! All right?”
He went on to tell me what
it was all about, as far as any-
body knew. Sir Gerald pro-
duced all the maps we were
likely to need, and the four of
us got our heads together over
The accent was definitely on
secrecy. As the story unfolded
and the different possibilities
came out, I began to appreciate
the. reasons for the hush-hush
order. Even before we found out
what was going on in that
remote corner of Russian-
occupied Germany, I could see
we were handling dynamite.
Later, when we did know
What the German fanatics were
up to, and had to act to put a
stop to it, the expression
“dynamite” was too mild
by half !
But I am going too fast. At
that time we were groping in
the dark. Nothing could be
done until we knew more.
Rumour and supposition were
all very well, but facts were
badly needed.
“ There’s only one way to
get them, George,” Braddock
said. “We shall iust have to
make a few recce flights over
the area and see what it pro-
duces. We shall need an air-
craft. Say a Mosquito photo-
recce job. We shall have to use
a landing-strip not too far from
the border.”
Sir Gerald filled in the
details. There was an R.A.F.
squadron stationed in a con-
venient place for a move. It was
to send a detachment to a small
maintenance airfield that was
in an ideal spot for our purpose.
Braddock and I were to fly
out there at once.
“ You’re both re-enlisted in
the Royal Air Force, by the
way,” said the Air Marshal
briskly. '
So we were back in the R.A.F.
Had we known it at the time,
we were in for a secret war in
the midst of peace that was
to make the events of recent
years pale into‘ insignificance.
Perhaps it was as well that at
first we did not realise what
we were in for.
I need not go into how we
reached our base and reported
to the Wing Commander at
the lonely airfield in a valley
bottom some fifty miles from
the border with Russian terri-
How much the Wingco knew
I never discovered, but he soon
handed us over to the station
Intelligence Officer, a Flight
Lieutenant Jarvis. Jarvis knew
all about us, and promised all
He was also the soul of dis-
cretion, so that before we had
been on the station an hour We
were tagged as Air Ministry
survey personnel. This was for
the benefit of the rest of the
squadron detachment, and for
the time being would give us a
ready excuse for flying as and
when we liked in the photo-
recce Mosquito aircraft pro-
Braddock was soon in
flying kit. We had had an
early breakfast and were due
to take off in a few minutes.
Because it was new territory
to both of’ us, one or two
familiarisation flights were in-
dicated, just to get our bearings
and brush up our team work.
“ Let’s go and have a look
around,” said Braddock.
Flight Lieutenant Jarvis was
up early, too. He met us on
our way to the dispersal point,
where the ground crew were
warming up the Mosquito.
The Mosquito was one of the
best aircraft produced during
the War. It was made of ply-
wood, was very strong, and had
twin Merlin engines. It could
fly at nearly four hundred miles
an hour, and there were several
versions of it, ranging from
fighter bomber to unarmed
photo-reconnaissance machines.
“ ’Morning, you two,” said
Jarvis cheerfully. “ Going up ?”
Braddock nodded as Jarvis
fell into step beside him.
“By the way,” said Jarvis
quietly, if the Russians fly a
border patrol at four-hourly
intervals. They’re rather jealous
of us, I think. Always ready to
make something out of nothing.
“ I’ll give you the known
times of their flights, so that
you can sidestep them——or get
in between if you have to cross
the demarcation line.”
“ Thanks,” said Braddock
thoughtfully. “ It’s all moun-
tain and forest up there along
the border, isn’t it ? And
beyond ?”
Iarvis nodded.
“ Very much so. Very
sparsely populated region, too.
A few shepherds and goatherds,
a few mountain village com-
munities, that’s all.
“ You’ll have to watch your
navigation carefully, Bourne.
It’s tricky country, with one
peak or ridge looking very much
like another, and precious few
other landmarks to check on.”
“ We’ll try not to get lost,”
I said lightly.
Iarvis regarded me very
“ If you do,” he said, “ you’ll
get no help from anybody. You
probably know that. At all
costs, avoid trouble with the
Russians. We aren’t at War
with anybody, remember-—yet.
You’re on your own!”

BRADDOCK shrugged.
" Anything new?"
he inquired.
" Only what I told you
last night. Our monitoring
radio has been picking up
faint signals from some--
where in that direction
that indicate ground-to-air
communication similar to
that used by the German
Air Force during the war,”
replied Jarvis.
“ That’s interesting,” mused
Braddock. “ Sure it isn’t
Russian patrol aircraft talking?”
“Positive, Braddock. These
are Germans, and they’re being
very discreet about it. They
hardly ever call, just now and
then, breaking radio silence
apparently only in some emer-

gency. Not often enough or for
long enough for us to get a
fix, unfortunately,” ended
“Never mind,” said Brad-
dock. “But this means that if
there is some secret cell of
die-hard Germans over there,
they’re pretty well dug in,
aircraft and all.‘ Interesting,
eh, George ?”
“ Very !” I replied. “ I can’t
wait to get at the truth !”
We took off and climbed
steeply. Braddock tested the
machine thoroughly, while I
kept track of our position and
accustomed myself to the
rather specialised navigation
called for in mountainous
“ The Ruskies have gone,
George. Give me a course for
the border,” said Braddock
I could not help a quickening
of excitement as we flew high
and fast into Russian territory.
Even though we had no warlike
intentions, our very presence
outside our own zone would, if
we were caught, be sufficient
cause for the Russians to make
an international furore.
But it was not the Russians
with whom we had trouble that
morning. It was the weather.
But that led, indirectly, to
something much more irnpor~
It had been comparatively
fine when we crossed the border.
But before long we ran into
thickening cloud and were com-
pelled to go lower to see any-
thing of the ground. Visibility
got steadily worse, however,
and it was plain we were wasting
our time.
“ Course for home, George,”
said Braddock. “They didn’t
know this depression was
moving up from the east
obviously !”
I gave him the course, plotted
our position on the map, and
realised that unless it cleared
we should soon be flying blind.
“You’d better climb to
18,000 feet, Brad,” I said.
“ There’s a mountain range at
17,000 feet right in our path.
‘We came through a pass on the
way.” '
Braddock climbed, but a lot
had happened to the weather
between us and our base be-
tween whilesf We ran into a
freak snow storm at I 5,000 feet.
Almost in the time it takes to
tell, the aircraft began icing
up to an extent I would not
have believed possible. We
were on the wrong side of that
17,000 foot ridge, with zero
Rover and Wizard
15th Feb 1964 - Page 6
visibility and severe icing.
Braddock had some hard
things to say about the ground
crew responsible for the air-
craft. The de-icing apparatus
was out of action. ‘
The build-up of ice was so
rapid that Braddock had no
choice but to lose height in
search of a warmer layer of air.
The weight of ice was making
the plane sluggish.
He was losing height whether
he wanted to or not now. One
of the engines began to falter.
Ice had built up in the air
intake. The engine was being
starved of air.
“ Where are we ?” Braddock
“By dead reckoning, about
ten miles from the pass through
the range.”
Whichever way I looked at it,
the situation was ugly.
It was made doubly so a little
later when Braddock calmly
announced that he could not
restart the motor that had iced
“I , suspect ignition
trouble,” he said. “ Can’t
climb much I’m afraid.”
The cold was bitter now.
Thanks to another example of
poor maintainance by the
ground crew, part of the heating
equipment was faulty. I found
it difficult to hold a pencil to
mark my maps and plot our
courses as we groped our way
into the grey half-light.
Anyway, We got to the pass
safely. It was thirty or forty
miles on the wrong side of the
border, but once we were
through it there were only a
few major obstacles ahead of us.
The stalled engine still re-
fused to start. Our speed was
cut, and we could not climb.
It would be bad luck if we ran
into a Russian patrol, I thought.
Then I laughed at myself.
We could pass another aircraft
with a few yards to spare and
never know it in that weather l
“We must be in the pass
now, Brad!” I said.
“ just what I Was thinking,
George,” he replied calmly.
“ It should be plain sailing
after this.”
I gave him a slight course
correction to avoid a mountain
immediately outside the high
pass, followed by a fresh course
for our base.
But presently, as we threaded
a way among the swirling
eddies and “bumps ” among
the foothills beyond the pass,
I saw a paler patch in the
greyness, and suddenly there
was the earth.
“Hole in the cloud base,”
observed Braddock. “ Pretty
grim view though. Does it
check with what you expect,
George ?” '
“ Spot on for position, Brad,”
I said. I felt pleased at that. It
had not been easy to keep pace
with all the changes in our
course, especially in that
The ground we could see
was a west-facing slope thickly
covered in conifer forest, with,
here and there, patches of snow
showing little clearings.
We were just going to streak
into the murk on the other
side of the clear patch when
Braddock suddenly banked
steeply round and went roaring
back the way we had come.
“ Get a picture of that
slope!” he barked urgently.
“ I saw something there!”
We were flying at about
fifteen hundred feet above the
hillside at the time. I had seen
nothing worthy of notice, but
the urgency in Braddock’s
voice brooked no argument.
The plane was fitted with
cameras as part of its recon-
naissance equipment, and it
was the work of a moment to
operate them, both still and
We were just banking round
again, with Braddock saying—
“ Get it, George?” when I
caught a glimpse of a man
standing in one of the clearings
on the hillside. Behind him,
almost hidden in the trees, was
a log cabin. Half a dozen sheep
were huddled out of the weather
not far away. .
“ Did you get him ?” Brad-
dock demanded again.
“ Yes,” I said, disappointed.
I wondered why Braddock had
shown so much interest in a
mountain shepherd.
“ Good!” he said, evidently
“ I can’t see why you got so
excited about him ?” I grunted.
“ Then you’ll have to wait
till the films are developed,” he
chuckled. “ Your eyesight can’t
be as good as it was, George !”
He would say nothing more
about it, so that when we got
back, Without further incident,
I was burning with curiosity.
It seemed to take an age for
the photographic section to
develop and print my pictures.
In fact, they were smart on the
job, probably because word
had reached them that Brad-
dock had torn such a strip off
the ground crew for carelessness
that they were still wondering
what had hit. them.
Braddock and I were having
a cup of tea with Iarvis when
the still-wet prints were brought
We all craned over the main
picture. I heard Braddock give
a satisfied grunt. ‘
“ Just as I thought,” he
said. “ There’s your shepherd,
George. Complete with aircraft
spotters’ binoculars, see ?”
I whistled my surprise.
Certainly I had not noticed
that when We flew over the
clearing. But Braddock had,
and turned back to make sure.
“ A Russian watchdog, I
suppose?” I said.
“ Very likely, Bourne,”
agreed Jarvis, with a nod.
Braddock snorted.
“ Russian, my foot!” he
snapped. “ That’s one of your
German last - ditch fanatics!
“ Didn’t you notice how he
ducked for cover when we
flew over ? He was too late, as
it happened, but he did not
want to be seen. Had he been
a Russian he would have had
no cause to take cover.”
Jarvis and I exchanged a
“ I believe you’re right,
Braddock,” Jarvis said.
“ I'm sure I am !” said
Braddock. “ And what’s more,
George and I are going back
there as soon as those clots
have seen to the aircraft and
done their job properly. I want
to know more about that
shepherd-—-and who is at the
other end of his radio link !"’
“Radio ?” I gasped. “ How
do you--—-”
Braddock gave me a scornful
glance. ‘
“You need glasses,” he said.
“Didn’t you see the light
gleam for a moment on the
aerial wire he had strung
between the trees when we flew
over ?”
“ I did not,” I replied with
as much dignity as I could
muster. “But I'm quite pre-
pared to believe you. Could you
see his German swastika badge
as well, by the way ?”
Braddock grinned and took
a playful swipe at me.
He grew serious and turned
back to Jarvis.
“ It seems to me,” he went
on, “ that man is probably an
air spotter ready to warn his
pals if anything with wings,
Russian or British, heads in
their direction. Those radio
calls you’ve monitored, for
instance. They might have
been signals to warn of Russian
flights. I believe we’re on to
something already.”
“ Ye~es, so do I,” mused
Jarvis. “ Let’s hope they’re not
on to you, Braddock.”
“ We shall know that to-
morrow,” Braddock replied.
“When we take another trip
across those mountains !”

NEXT MONDAY -- Braddock
gets hold of a direction-
finding apparatus which can
lead him to the secret strong-
hold-but there are sensational
happenings when he tries to
use it!



The Rover and Wizard from November 21st 1964 to March 6th 1965 - 16 issues


Carrying out the perfect raid without permission leads to court-marshal – Gibraltar – Malta – Sudan and on to the battle of El Alamein.


Picture - The Rover and Wizard from November 21st 1964 - page 7

Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories


The Rover and Wizard -
21st Nov 1964 -
Page 7
THIS is another episode in the story of Sergeant Matt Braddock.
My name is Sergeant George Bourne. I have written a lot about Braddock. He was one of Britain's greatest pilots in the
Second World War,but he was often in trouble as a result of his
dis-regard for petty rules. I was his navigator in most of his flying.
The late summer of 1942 found
Braddock and me attached to a
Special Service squadron t h a t
operated from Wiltshire. It was an
undercover group known as the
S.O.E. (Special Operations Execu-
tive). Our job was mostly flying
agents into enemy-occupied Europe,
lifting them out, and making drops
of supplies.
The squadron flew little, high-wing
Lysander aeroplanes for landings in enemy
territory, and had a couple of double-
engined. Mosquito aircraft. For bigger
assignments we used our flight of Welling-
ton medium bombers.
The Wellington, otherwise known as
the Wimpy, had been in service from the
outbreak of war and at that time was being
pushed aside in favour of the powerful
new Halifaxes, Stirlings, Manchesters, and
Lancasters. But it was still a sturdy,
reliable aircraft and one of Braddock’s
“ It may not have the speed or ceiling of
the new planes,” he said. “ But you’ll have
to go a long way to find a plane you can
trust like a Wimpy. These old things can
lose an engine and be blown half apart
by flak and they will still come trundling
home across the North Sea.”
There were no fixed crews for the
squadron’s aircraft and Braddock either
flew solo in a Lysander or was navigated
by me in one of the bigger machines. This
state of affairs was due to the squadron’s
having more aircraft than crews and was
caused by the drain of men to Bomber
The big bombing offensive was getting
into stride at that time and even Training
Command was helping make up the
thousand bomber raids with crews of
One morning in the first week of Sep-
tember, the names of Braddock and myself
went up on the board in one of the three
Wellington crews alerted for operations.
That afternoon the petrol bowsers drove out
to the dispersal points and Braddock went
across to watch the fuelling of our Welling-
When helcame back I had news for
“ The Black Maria’s here,” I reported.
This was the nickname given to the van
that conveyed agents from.London to the
isolated Nissen hut on the station where
they were kept out of sight until the time
of their take-off.
“ So it’s a live drop,” he said. “ What 1
don’t get is why the whole flight has been
Braddock told me that, while our aircraft
was only being fuelled, the other two in
the flight were also being bombed up. The
bomb-trolleys were on the way to the
planes with a capacity load for each of
250-pounders, incendiaties, and flares.
“ Looks like being an interesting night,”
he commented.
It was usual for briefings to be delayed
until the last moment to lessen the chance
of a leakage of information.
Our call that night came at eight o’clock..
and, after we had trooped in and got
settled, Squadron Leader Harry March told
us that we were going to drop a team of
agents into the Orne district of Northern
“ Which is a sticky place for a drop,” he
He did not go further into this because
that was the job of the Intelligence Offfcer,
but nobody needed an Intelligence report
to know that the Orne district was a risky
place for an agent to go down. It was in
the back yard of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall and
was infested with German troops.

The Rover and Wizard -
19th Dec 1964 -
Page 19
“Well, what about it ?” in-
quired Tibbetts. “ Do you still
intend to slip stealthily ashore
and attempt to continue your
journey in a highly irregular
“That’s right" nodded
“Dressed like that you’l1
stand out like a couple of warts
on the end of a nose,” said
Tibbetts, looking us over.
“The clothing is khaki drill
in these parts. You’ll have
military police swarming over
you. Why not save all that
trouble by allowing me to pass
you over to R.A.F. Head-
quarters ?”
“ Not blooming likely !”
grunted Braddock.
“ You have committed no
real crime,” in u r rn u r e d
Tibbetts. “ You have actually
shown remarkable zeal in trying
to get to your new posting. It
is quite possible the R.A.F.
will decide to fly you the rest
of the way from here.”
“ They’re more likely to send
us back to England,” said
Braddock, “ then we’ll have to
start waiting all over again. No,
we’d sooner keep on the way
we are going. Right, George ?”
“Right,” I said.
“ You are a pair of obstinate
people,” commented Tibbetts,
getting to his feet. We rose with
him and he held out his hand.
“ But good luck to you,” he
said. “ And don’t forget to put
in for a transfer to the Senior
Service if you should ever
tire of the R.A.F. We can
always use gunners of your
“ The same goes for you if
you should ever get fed up
with the Navy,” Braddock said
cordially. “ You’d probably get
made up to sergeant in no time
in the R.A.F.”
Tibbetts chuckled and passed
us over to Chief Stubbs, who
passed us ashore in a launch
after supplying us with useful
information concerning R.A.F.
positions on the island.
It seemed there were two
fighter strips, one at Hal Far
and another at Takali, a bomber
field at Luqa, and a seaplane
base at a place called Kalafrana.
“ Luqa sounds our best bet,”
said Braddock. “ How do you
get there ?”
The chief gave us directions,
and then we said goodbye to
bins and climbed down into
the launch. Three minutes
later we climbed out of the
launch on to the 122
square miles of bomb-blasted
rock that was Malta.

WE walked through
the docks and then
down the narrow streets
of Valetta, and Tibbetts
was proved wrong, because
nobody bothered to spare
us a second glance. Malta
was very much a front-
line area, with everyone
too busy minding their
own business to worry
about that of other people.
We walked a lot and had a
couple of lifts and got to Luqa
at a time when sirens and
klaxons were sounding and
echoing all over the rocky
There appeared to be no one
on duty at the gate, but a lot
of bustle was going on out on
the airfield. We stood watch-
ing and made the interesting
discovery that various enormous
sandbagged mounds along the
fringes were actually pens for
“ That shows this place has
really been getting it hot,”
observed Braddock. “We
didn’t bother to do that. on
fields in England during the
worst of the blitz.”
"‘ Hey, you! What do you
want ?” called a voice. It
startled us, coming out of our
seemingly deserted surround-
We looked round and
discovered a couple of steel-
helmeted heads protruding from
a slit trench twenty yards along
the wire from the gate.
“ Hullo,” said Braddock. He
jerked a thumb towards the
field. “ We want to go in
“ Then go in,” snapped one
of the heads impatiently.
“ All right. Thanks,” said
Braddock, and he led the way
inside, ducking under the
barrier pole.
The sirens had ceased to
wail, the klaxons had stopped
hooting, and now the field had
a deserted look. All the figures
we had seen bustling around
appeared to have vanished. We
carried on in the silence until
we arrived at the administration

“ Oh, oh!” Braddock said
suddenly as We stood un-
decidedly outside one of the
sandbagged entrances. He was
gazing up at the northern sky
with his head cocked in a
listening attitude.
“Visitors!” he said.
“Dorniers—a flock of them.
You can’t mistake that broken
engine note.”
I was straining my eyes
up at the sky when another of
those mysterious voices hailed
“ Hey, you men! What are
you doing out there?”
We saw a face peering at us
from the entrance to a large
bunker, and we went across to
it before answering. The face
was surmounted by an officer’s
On the shoulders of this
officer were the tabs of a
Squadron-Leader. He was a
young man, but looked strained.
“ I know you,” said Brad-
dock. “You are Jeff Weston.
I knew you back in I940 when
you were a Pilot-Oiffcer.”
“ I’m blowed! If it isn’t
Braddock !” exclaimed the face,
crinkling into a grin. “ The war
out here must be getting rugged
if they’ve sent you out.”
“ Just passing through,” said
“ Come inside,” invited
Weston, and he moved himself
back away from the entrance.
Braddock climbed down, with
me closelbehind, and we found
ourselves in a long, narrow
gallery lined with wooden
double cots and with a series of
tables running along the middle.
Men were sprawled on some
of the cots, and other men sat
at the tables, reading, talking,
playing cards. I noticed one
man engaged in plaiting a
raffia lampshade.
“ Welcome to the happy
home,” drawled the young
offfcer, Weston. He caught
Braddock’s inquiring glance and
added with a wry grin, “ Down
here is about our only chance
of getting any sleep-—-and we
need some if we are to go on
flying five or six sorties a week.
“ For a whole year Jerry has
been giving us a truly fearful
pounding. We have had to fill
in so many bomb craters that
the level of the field must have
risen about three feet.”
“ Sounds t o u g h,” com-
mented Braddock. “What are
you flying?”
Weston told him that he led
one squadron of a wing of
Blenheim fighter-bombers and
that a squadron of Wellington
medium bombers and one of
Marylands also flew off the
The air strength of Malta
also included Swordfish and
Albacores and two squadrons of
“ Which isn’t much, but we
managed to chase the Italian
fleet back into its base at
Taranto when it tried to sneak
out to sea last June,” said
“ But what about you,
Braddock ? I didn’t know they’d
finally got round to sending us
some badly-needed replace-
“ It’s not like that. I haven’t
been posted here,” said Brad-
dock, and then lowered his
voice and told Weston our
story. Weston blinked and then
started to grin.
“ The same old Braddock!”
he chuckled. “ The same old
rule-busting sergeant! Well,
you can muck in with us here
if it’s any use to you. A transport
kite for the Middle-East does
put down here once in a while.”
“ That will do us fine,” said
At which moment the bunker
shuddered and earth started
filtering between cracks in the
planking as the guns on the
perimeter of the field opened up.
After half a dozen rounds the
firing stopped, but the walls
continued to quiver to ‘ex-
plosions in the distance.
“ The docks are getting it,”
decided Weston. “Those poor
civilians !”
The Rover and Wizard -
26th Dec 1964 -
Page 31
“I’m not
in the R.A.F. for a career—I
am a working pilot with a job
to do. So suppose we cut this
waffle and get down to talking
about our posting.”
“ I see,” Leonardson said
The impassive set of his
hawk-like face concealed his
feelings but I realised he had
been staring back at Braddock
all during the interview, and
this suddenly caused me to
respect him.
Not many. men could stand
up to the penetrating gaze of
Braddock’s strangely-glowing
“Yes, let us cut out the
waffle,” said Leonardson
calmly. “ Your posting has been
arranged. I have selected an
active service squadron for you
and Sergeant Bourne and the
papers are being made out.
You will leave in the morning.”
“ Thank you, sir,” said
Braddock, and this time there
was no hesitation about the
“ sir.” Leonardson went on
gazing at him, and of a sudden
there was a faint smile on the
hawk face.
“ You should make the
R.A.F. your career, Braddock,”
he said. “You might finish
up an Air Marshal provided
you were not court-martialled
and shot before you made it.
Welcome to the Middle East.”
“ Thank you, sir,” said
“ And aword of warning,”
added Leonardson. “ Don’t get
into trouble out here. You may
have a brilliant flying record,
but that won’t save you if you
try to run this war too much
your own way. Now dismiss.”
We went out and found a
clerk waiting to take us to a
quartermaster's store, where we
signed papers confirming we had
lost our kit in action and were
then issued with a complete new
set of everything.
The following morning we
were driven to Cairo Airfield,
handed a sealed buff envelope,
and ordered aboard an old
Hampden bomber converted to
service as a transport.
The engines were turning
over and as soon as we had
packed ourselves and our kit
among the crates filling the
fuselage the Hampden taxied
out for take-off. Braddock
opened the buff envelope and
took out the travel papers it
“ The 700 Danzig (Polish)
Fighter-Bomber Squadron,”
he read out. “ What and where
the dickens is that? Maybe
we’d better have a word with
the pilot.”
‘We clambered forward and
the pilot gave us some shatter-
ing information. He said he
knew the 700 Danzig Squadron
very well. The supplies in the
fuselage were for it and he
flew in a similar load once a
fortnight. He said it was
stationed in the Northern Sudan.
“The what ?” bellowed
“ The Nubiaxi Desert,” said
the pilot. “ A ghastly spot - all
sand and scorpions. The 700
patrols Southern Libya and
part of the French West
African border.”
Braddock and I crawled back
into the fuselage and talked
among the crates. Braddock was
grim and bitter.
“ They’re putting us out of
the way miles from the war,
George,” he said. “ They’re
putting us out to graze, that’s
what they are doing.”
“ That’s what it looks like,”
I nodded.
“ Well, it’s not going to
work,” snarled Braddock.
“ Somehow or other we are
going to get back into the war.”

NEXT WEEK Braddock and
Bourne find out that 700
Squadron is strictly a non-
fighting unit. But Matt has a
few plans to alter all that!

The Rover and Wizard -
16th Jan 1965 -
Page 25


reached back into
the cockpit, took a
grip under the armpits of
Mercenas, and begun to
He was a heavy, stocky man.
I pulled hard and he came out
slowly, his metal hand scraping
squeakily against the framework
and the skin of the fuselage.
I rested when I got him on
to the wing. I knelt by him
while I took in half a dozen
deep breaths of air free from
the taint of blood and oil.
Braddock had gone off by
way of the forward edge of the
wing, and was already some ten
paces away with the prince on
his shoulders in a fireman’s lift.
I slipped to the ground and
gathered up the limp Mercenas
in my arms. The lower part of
him from the hip pockets
of his khaki drill shorts down
to the soles of his flying boots

was plastered with a thick and
obscuring crust of blood and
I tried to avoid looking at
what had happened to his left
leg below the knee.
Braddock came back to
give me a hand after dumping
the prince, and between us we
laid Mercenas down beside his
fellow-countryman. For a
minute or two we squatted
panting by the two limp figures.
“ Doesn’t look as though it’s
going to brew,” said Braddock
jerkily, studying the Fulmar.
“ But it’s as well not to take
“ How’s the prince ?” I asked.
“ just a bang on the noggin.
He can wait,” said Braddock.
He moved over to kneel beside
“ But this poor bloke
Braddock stopped talking.
He stopped just like that in
the middle of a word. He was
gazing past me, and _his eyes
had gone hard.
“ What——?” I began.
I was turning my head as I
spoke, and what I saw caused
me to break off as abruptly as
Braddock had done. A man was
standing watching us and point-
ing a rifle at us from a few feet
“ Blimey !” I said weakly.
He was a short man who wore
an olive—drab uniform set off
by a double-pointed side cap.
The uniform sagged in folds
upon the man’s narrow frame
as though designed for some-
body a good deal fatter.
He had round and puzzled-
looking black eyes, black hair
that hung in greasy ringlets
below the side cap, and it
struck me there was a complete
lack of confidence in the way
he held the rifle.
“ Blimey !” he repeated after
me, his forehead furrowing
under the ringlets. “ But that
is English. I know it is an
English word.” '
He spoke in English, slowly
and carefully, and the odd
thing was that it was English
flavoured by a distinct Cockney
accent; He went on to inform
“For five years I work in
London and I hear it used
much by the common sort of
Englishman —- er, English
Braddock and I exchanged
bewildered glances. While get-
ting over the shock we had
both looked round, but without
discovering any other strangers.
There only appeared to be this
small man in his big uniform.
“ You are therefore English,”
he said aecusingly.
“ We are,” nodded Braddock.
“ So what ?”
“ Then I must do my duty,”
said the short man. He sounded
apologetic, but firm. “ I have
my orders. I must place you
under arrest.”
“ You must, huh ?” grunted
Braddock. “ You and who
else ?”
“ Please,” said the short man
quaveringly. “You are under
arrest. I beg of you to consider
yourselves under arrest.”
“ Now look, you nitwit,” said
Braddock raspingly. “ I have a
wounded man to take care of
and no time for fooling. I
suggest you put that rifle down
before I take it off you and
wrap it round your neck.”
The short man appeared
undecided whether to shoot or
burst into tears. He blinked
nervously at Braddock’s rock-
like countenance and gleaming
eyes and appeared to make up
his mind. He threw down the
“ I have done my duty,” he
said shakily. “ But what chance
have I when outnumbered two
to one. Sir, I have the honour
to surrender Balbo Field to
Even Braddock was startled
at this.
“You what ?” he said.
“I surrender to you,” said
the short man. He gave us a
jerky little bow. “I, Mario
Cabrucci, corporal of the
Seventh Foggia Engineers,
make formal surrender to you
of Balbo Field..”
“ Blowed if I know what to
make of this,” said Braddock
to me. “Hey, you~—er, What
did you call yourself?”
“ Mario Cabrucci,” answered
the short man, nervously smil-
“ Right-ho, Mario, I accept
your surrender,” said Braddock
grandly. “How many of you
are there ?”
“ There is only I,” the short
man told him. “ Once there
were three of us, but Darini
died of snake-bite. He was
bitten by a horned viper and
he swelled up and died. That
left Cipranu and me, until
Cipranu became mad and ran
off screaming into the desert.”

“WELL, I'm blowed,”
murmured Brad-
dock, exchang-
ing a abbergusted glance
with me. " We h a v e
stumbled on a queer kettle
of fish, George. How long
have you been h e r e,
“For two years,” was the
staggering reply. “ But I have
only been alone since last
Christmas. That was when
“Went mad and ran off
screaming,” interrupted Brad-
dock. He shook his head in
wonder, shrugged, and then
transferred his attention from
the short Italian to the wounded
Pole lying limp on the hard-
packed earth.
“ You’ll have to tell us about
it, but not now, Mario,” he
went on. “ At the moment this
laddie is the pressing problem.
Is there anywhere we can take
him out of this heat ?”
“ Ah, the poor fellow,” said
Mario, looking down at
Mercenas; “ Perhaps we should
take him to my quarters. The
fan does not work; since the
electricity was not installed,
but I have fashioned a punkah
which works from pulling a
cord. In the heat of the after-
noon I rest there with the cord
tied to my foot——” ‘
“All right, that sounds as
though it’ll do,”


Braddock and the Thunderbirds

The Rover and Wizard from July 10th 1965 to November 6th 1965 - 18 issues





Picture - The Rover and Wizard from July 10th 1965 - page 27

Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories


The Rover and Wizard
from July 10
th 1965 - page 27
THE other day I was called from my home in the Midlands to London
and a small, stuffy room in the Air Ministry where a little man
with grey hair and piercing eyes sat behind a paper-littered
desk. He was something big in R.A.F. lntelligencegbut I am not allowed
to say what or give his name.
" It's been a long time, Bourne,"
he said, and I agreed that it had
been. The last time we had met
had been a couple of years after the
war when he had not been so
important, but still quite high up
in the spy business.
He told me to pull up a chair, and while
I was doing so he resumed his seat behind
the littered desk, unlocked a drawer and
took from it a thick wedge of type-
covered paper. It was so long since I had
seen that mass of paper that I did not
recognise it until the little grey man
spoke again.
“ Some property of yours,” he re-
marked, and then I knew what it was.
In that moment of recognition my mind
strayed a long way from that stuffy
London office and I was back on the
Greenland ice, squinting into the glare
of the Aurora, hearing the keening of the
wind as I breathed through the veil of
muslin I had worn to prevent the sub-zero
temperature from freezing my lungs.
The little grey man brought me back to
the present.
“ Yes,” he said. “ The Thunderbird
Affair.” '
I took the manuscript from him and
curiously scanned the top half dozen
sheets. The typing was poor——uneven,
with a lot of erasures and over-typing.
The sight of it took me back to those long
evenings I had spent hammering with two
fingers on that second-hand machine with
the wobbly carriage.
“ I had almost forgotten about this,”
I said.
“ You can have it back,” he told me.
“ You can do what you like with it now.
The Thunderbird Affair is no longer on
the secret list.”
I stared at him and I saw he was serious
and that seemed to me so very funny that
I could not help letting out some splutters
of laughter. The little grey man watched
me seriously with his piercing eyes until
I had recovered my breath.
“ Do you mean to say that I, was
fetched all the way here to be told that ?”
I asked helplessly. “ For Pete’s sake, the
war has been over for donkeys’ years—-
it’s ancient history. So is the Thunder-
bird Affair.”
“Which is why it is no longer top
secret,” he said. “ The story can now be
told without damaging our security or
reviving bitterness. I thought you might be
interested. I hear that you have been
chronicling some of the exploits of
Sergeant Braddock.”
“ I’m blowed,” I said in surprise.
“ Do you mean, that you don’t mind me
writing about Matt Braddock? He
ruffled the feathers of a lot of bigwigs.”
“Perhaps they needed ruffling,” he
said with an unexpected smile. “I can
afford to say so now that the war is
ancient history. Yes, Braddock trampled
on a few toes and regulations--but the
fact is that he was one of our greatest
airmen in the Second World Wat. That is
why I am giving you this back.”
I had laid down the wad of manuscript
on the untidy desk. The little grey man
picked it up. He was still smiling as he
handed it to me.
“ It’s yours to do with as you wish, he
said. “ You can publish it, you can throw
it away—you can paper your house with
it if you feel so inclined. Good-bye,
I went out with a feeling of amusement
that drained away later, on the train north,
as I read that uneven, hit or miss

he Rover and Wizard
from July 10
th 1965 - page 28
typing and my own clumsy
words unlocked my memory
and brought back to me some
of the urgency and tension of
those far-off days at the end
of the war.
This is that story, which is
part of the stort of Sergeant
Matt Braddock V.C., D.F.M.,
and also concerns me because
I was with Braddock at the
time. I was usually with
Braddock. My name is George
Bourne, and for most of the war
I flew with Braddock as his

EARLY in February,
1945, Braddock
and I left Canada
in a Consolidated Liberator
bomber that was being
ferried across the Atlantic
by a crew of R.A.F. Trans-
port Command. r
We re-fuelled at the American
base at Thule and were about an
hour and a half out over the
Greenland ice-cap when mist
began to close around the air-
“ This isn’t so good,” re-
marked the pilot, an experienced
Atlantic flier. “ That’s a white-
out forming. They can get so
thick that a London pea-
souper is like a sunny day by
Braddock and I had gone
forward into the greenhouse — as
the glass-enclosed flight deck to
a Liberator was called—to escape
the freezing chill that got to
us back in the fuselage no matter
how many blankets we piled on.
There was a heater in the
greenhouse. There was also a

stock of hot coffee in flasks
supplied by the kindly Ameri-
-cans at Thule.
So we enjoyed the warmth,
sipped coffee, and Braddock
chatted with the pilot and co-
pilot about the problems of
flying in the Arctic Circle.
Outside, the mist became so
thick it was as though the
windows were covered with a
dirty-white shade of paint.
“Just look at it,” said the
pilot. “ White above, all round
and below. We’re all right in
a big bus like this that can
grab plenty of air room, but it
can be dicey with a kite that
doesn’t have de-icing or power
and has to stay closer to the
“ We had one bad crossing
like that in a whiteout,” put
in the co-pilot. “ Most of the
time we didn’t know if we were
up or about to hit the deck.
You. can’t trust an altimeter
over this cap.”
“ Changing air pressures.”
suggested Braddock.
“That has a lot to do with
it,” nodded the pilot. “ You also
get the sudden. changes of
ground level like over the
mountains. In the first place that
ice down there is packed well
above the sea height in ram-
parts of cliff like—well, like
jelly in a mould.”
“ Some mould,” said the co-
pilot. “ Six hundred miles
across, the way we are going.”
“Another thing is that the
ice is in constant movement,”
went on the pilot, ignoring the
comment. “ The average depth
of the stuff is seven thousand
feet and, as storms pile more
on top, there’s an overflow that
squeezes out over me edges &
the surrounding momuminm,
mainly to the north When tilt
icebergs break off into the sea.”
“ It’s a treat to listen to you,
Dick,” said the co-pilot. “ I
feel quite humble getting all this
education for nothing.”
“ What I’m getting at is that
the ice down there is not as
flat as the village pond,” said
the pilot, quite unruffled. “ It’s
as uneven as a stormy sea that’s
suddenly frozen over. There
are waves and billows of ice
hundreds of feet high and
threading them are crevasses
so deep that a man could die of
freezing while falling down
“ Doesn’t he talk beautifully
about—-—-?”began the co-pilot.
That was when it happened.
“ Break left,” snapped
Braddock suddenly, stridently.
“ Quick, man--break left.
I had moved to the back of
the flight deck and was un-
screwing a flask of coffee I had
fished from a locker. As
Braddock called I looked round
in surprise and almost at once
was slung hard against un-
yielding metal as the pilot
obeyed and banked the big
aircraft steeply to port.
“ Look out,” I heard the co-
pilot yell, and it seemed to me,
just before I slid sideways and
fell backwards into the ventral
tunnel that a streak of fire
lighted up the whitness of the
starboard side of the green-
The deck came level under
me and I scrambled to my feet,
aching and dazed and dripping
coffee. I came up close to the
entrance to the radio compart-
There was a lot of splutter-
ing and a tremendous lot of bad
language coming out of it, and I
looked in and discovered the
operator had been pitched from
his seat and wedged in a
corner with his feet waving in
the air.
“ Of all the crazy tricks,” he
snarled on sighting me peering
down at him. “ What do they
think this is—-—a flaming flying
circus ?”
I left him to sort himself out
and went forward on to the flight
deck. There I found the pilot
and co-pilot talking, both at the
same time in a kind of babbling
duet while Braddock frowned
out of the perspex into the white-
out on the starboard side.
“ Blooming odd,” remarked
Braddock, as I came along.
"What did you blokes make
of it?"
His calm voice cut through
the excitement like a knife,
The pilot and co-pilot stopped
gabbling and exchanged
seepish grins and then the
latter politely motioned for
the former to go ahead and talk.
"Thank you, Tom," said the
pilot, and then he talked. He
said it had obviously been a
plane, but he had only cought a
fleeting glimpse of it - a plane
on fire.
There were flames stream-
ing from both wings," he said.
"By George, but it was moving.
It must have dived past us at
around ?ve hundred knots."
“ Like a blessed metiorite,"
said the co-pilot.
“ It was an aircraft al right
nodded Braddock. "On fire, too
—although there was some-
thing odd about that fire, I
sighted the glow comming at us,
I thought it might be a reflec-
tion of the sun or the Northern
Lights, but I decided to let out
a yell instead of taking a
Lucky for us you did yell,"
said the pilot fervently.
that,” said Braddock slowly.
“ We broke quickly, but not
quickly enough. That plane
veered away from us as we
turned. It was on fire, but it
seemed to me to be under partial
control at least.
“ I wouldn’t know" said the
co-pilot. “ It all happened so
fast. Did you get any idea of
the size of the of the thing?"
“It didn’t seem big" said
Braddock. "Thats what
puzzles me. The impression I
had was only of fighter size, yet
what ?ghter would have the
range to tour over this ice-
cap ?”
“ It could have been a fighter
with long-range tanks," said
the pilot thoughtfully." Maybe
from the Bluey Base at Thule.
You never know what those
Yanks at Thule are messing
about with.”

The intercom crackled
at that moment,
and I Knew the
operator had sorted him-
self out and had plugged
in all his broken snatch-
plugs. He asked irately
what was going on, and
the pilot told him to pass
a message on the Bluey
Base frequency.
The Rover and Wizard
from July 10
th 1965 - page 29
“Tell them this,” he said.
“We have just come close to
colliding with a burning air-
craft that was going down in a
crash dive. Identification not
made, but the aircraft appeared
to be of fighter size.”
“Phew, right you are,
skipper,” said the operator in a
subdued voice. The intercom
fell silent for five minutes and
then the operator came on
“Bluey thanks us for the
information,” he said. “ It’s
not one of their kites, but they
are checking around. You have
them puzzled by saying it was
a fighter.” '
“Maybe you were wrong,
Braddock,” said the pilot. “ It’s
easy enough to make a mistake
when something comes streak-
ing at you out of a fog like that
out there.”
“It’s possible,” Braddock
“Anyway, it’s no concern
of ours,” said the pilot com-
fortably. “ We’ll leave Bluey to
worry about it.”
In this he was wrong, be-
cause ten minutes later the
operator reported that Bluey
was calling with an urgent
request to speak to the captain
of aircraft code name Happy
Wanderer, which happened to
be our Liberator.
“ Put him on the intercom,”
the pilot commanded, and a
moment later the greenhouse
fillled with an American voice
that was talking across four
hundred miles of Arctic air.
_“We have a Mayday—a
Mayday,” it said. “An air-
craft has force-landed in your
vicinity. Bad weather prevents
take-off from this base. Can you
assist ?”‘.
“ I have a long flight and
a tight reserve of fuel,” our
pilot answered. “Also, I am
flying on instruments in a
whiteout. Can you supply a
definite location?”
“These are the co-ordin-
ates,” said the man at Bluey.
He read out the figures of a
chart reference. “Our radar
is fogged by weather, but
you should be able to take a
radio fix from us.”
“We took it on your last
transmission,” said the pilot.
“ Keep a listening watch while
we work this out.”
He passed over control to the
co-pilot and went back to the
navigator’s compartment that
was across the ventral tunnel
from the radio operator’s.
Braddock and followed him.
The navigator had been listen-
ing on the intercom and was
already busy plotting.
“ Bluey seemed pretty
definite about that location,”
he remarked as he pencilled a
cross on the Perspex cover of
his chart. “ Blowed if I know
how they can be so sure in
conditions like these.”
“ They have some good
equipment at Bluey,” said the
pilot. “ A lot of it is new and
very hush-hush. I think we can
rely on what they say.”
They juggled with figures
relating to distance, time and
fuel, and then the pilot spoke
to Bluey again. He said we
were thirty miles from the
location of the crashed aircraft,
were altering course north to
make for it and our estimated
time of arrival overhead at an
altitude of fifteen thousand
feet was seven minutes.
“I can’t risk going any
lower,” he apologised. “ I have
to leave a safety margin or I’m
liable to end up scraping the
“ You should find conditions
clearer over the location,” said
the man at Bluey. “The
Mayday call stated that the
aircraft had gone down in a
hole in the whiteout. We haven’t
been able to raise the pilot
since he put out the call.”
“ Hold on,” said our pilot at
that point. “ I’l1 call you later.”
He headed back to the flight
deck with Braddock and me
trailing him. Braddock was
keeping very quiet. It must
have been irtitating to him to
be a bystander, but he never
interfered with a good man
doing a good job.
“Right, Pete!” said the
pilot into the intercom after
occupying his seat and taking
over control.
“ Change of course in half a
minute,” crackled the navigator’s
voice. “ Change to bearing five
degrees, thirty minutes-—I say
again, five degrees, thirty. Here
it comes. Fifteen — ten — five
—-change now.”
The pilot banked the Libera-
tor on to the new course and
dipped its nose to shed height.
The whiteout was still thick
outside the greenhouse. The
radio operator connected his
set with the intercom system
again and the pilot spoke to
Bluey Base.
“ Five minutes to go,” he
reported. “ I’m puzzled about
that aircraft. I’m puzzled as to
how an aircraft burning like
it was managed to get down in
one piece. Did the slipstream
put out the fire ?”
“ Maybe!” said the man at
“ Another thing,” said our
pilot chattily. “ Why didn’t we
hear that Mayday call ? We
should have done since we are
so close to the crash.”
“ Our equipment is a lot
better than yours,” said Bluey.
It seemed to me that there was
a curiously guarded note in his
voice. I glanced across at
Braddock and saw that he was
thoughtfully frowning.
“ Have you raised the pilot
again?” inquired our pilot.
Bluey said they had not and
it was most likely because the
pilot was in trouble. On the
Mayday call--the aircraft dis-
tress call—-the pilot had said
he was down safely, but injured.
Our own pilot became inquisi-
tive on hearing this.
“What about the rest of the
crew?” he said. “ There must
be at least three in the kind of
aircraft that would operate over
this cap. Or are you saying
that Braddock was right and it
was a fighter?”
“What’s that ?” snapped
“ One of my passengers,”
said our talkative fellow. “ He
caught a glimpse of the plane
and thought it was small
enough to be a fighter. What
have you got to say about
that ?”
Bluey did not appear to have
anything to say. He became
quiet and stayed quiet for a
whole minute and then he came
on the air curtly to request our
pilot to quit the waffling. Our
pilot was more intrigued than
annoyed by such bad manners.
“ Maybe I am making a mess
of radio silence,” he said to us
in the greenhouse. “But why
should he be worried? We
are miles away from the war.
You know, I can’t help feeling
there’s something odd about
this business.”
“ We should have heard
that Mayday call,” nodded the
co-pilot, and he and the pilot
were dicussing the American
fondness for creating mysteries
when Braddock interrupted to
say that the sky ahead seemed
to be getting clearer;
“ I think we’ve found that
hole,” he said.

HALF a minute later
he was proved
right when the
Happy Wanderer bored
out of the whiteout into
the pale twilight of the
Arctic winter day. Almost
at once we sighted the
golden glow down on the
ice a mile ahead.
“ Right on the button,” said
the pilot. .
We were over it by then, and,
for an instant I looked down
at this blob of molten gold
amid the whiteness and the
shadows. Then the pilot
took the aircraft into a wide,
descending sweep. There-
after I caught only occasional
glimpses until we were flying
with one wing dipped in a tight
circle about two thousand feet
up over the glow.
“ Some brew-up,” com-
mented the pilot. “He must
have been loaded with fuel.”
“ I’ve never seen" fuel burn
like that,” the co-pilot mur-
mured. “ I don’t get this at
all. He was burning when he
buzzed us. He must have gone
up like a petrol-soaked rag on
hitting, the deck--yet Bluey
said he sent out that Mayday
after landing.”
“ This is a heck of a peculiar
business,” said the pilot,
puzzled. “ What I don’t get is
.how he managed to make it to
here—fifty miles from where we
spotted him. Braddock, what
do you think?”
Braddock answered that he
thought we should go lower
because he thought he had
spotted something. He talked
over the intercom from the
nose compartment where he
had gone for a better view.
“ I think something moved
down there,” he said. “At the
edge of _the firelight. Let’s take
a look.”
“ That bloke has eyes like a

The Rover and Wizard
from July 10
th 1965 - page 30
kitehawk in search of its
dinner,” said the pilot to us, a
he took the Happy Wandere
down lower. He was joking
but it came close to the truth
I’ve never known anybody with
eyesight as keen as Braddock’s
We resumed circling at a
thousand feet and presently
we all sighted the movement
The tiny dot that was a man
was waving to us from the ice
He waved from a sitting posi-
tion beside another dot that lay
full-length and motionless.
“Pass this to Bluey,” said
the pilot over the intercom to the
radio operator. “ We are over
the grounded plane at the given
location. It is burning out. We
can see two men; one possibly
injured, one definitely either
dead or injured.”
“ Right, skipper,” said the
The intercom was quiet for
a moment and then the voice
of Braddock sounded on it.
Braddock wanted to know if
we had anything we could drop
to the possibly injured and the
possibly dead man on the ice.
“ I’ve been wondering about
that,” mused the pilot. “ The
Yanks are usually pretty
generous in the stuff they load
aboard these kites before hand-
ing them over to us. It might
be worth a look in those
lockers aft along the ventral
Braddock said he would take
a look, and I went back to help
him with it. We found plenty
of stuff in the lockers in the
tunnel that led through the
tapering rear of the fuselage
behind the bomb bays to the
rear-gun turret.
There were parachutes, in-
flatable dinghies, sleeping bags,
a first-aid kit, and four card-
board cartons labelled
“ How frightfully interest-
ing,” said the pilot when we
reported this to him. “ It’s so
reassuring to know they supply
parachutes with these kites.”
We heaved out everything
except the dinghies and
’chutes in two low runs over
the burning aircraft and after-
wards we resumed circling.
We became sure then that the
sitting man was injured. Some
of the stuff had fallen very
close, but the sitting man made
no attempt to move to get it.
“Poor blighter,” said the
We went on circling. and it
was like looking down on a
man in another world. It was
really another world down
there, a world of freezing
death from which we were
insulated in the heated green-
house of the big bomber. Only
one thousand feet separated
us from the sitting man, but it
might as well have been a
million miles.
“ Bluey says thanks for what
you’ve done, skipper,” the radio
operator reported. “ They’ll
send a Catalina here to try a
landing as soon as the weather
clears at Thule.”
“ That might not be for a
couple of days,” the pilot said
somberly. “That poor fellow
will most likely be dead by
morning. It’s probably around
sixty degrees below freezing
down on that ice.
“ Then there’s only one thing
we can do,” said Braddock.
We stared at him, and I felt
an upsurge of hope that
promptly subsided with his next
words. What Braddock said
next sent me into a state that
was a mingling of shock and
“ Somebody will have to go
down and give him a hand.”
Braddock said calmly. “
It was somehow bleakly com-
forting to see the effect on me
mirrored in the eyes of the
other two people in the green-
“ Down there ?” echoed the
“ It’s the only thing we can
do,” said Braddock, and sud-
denly and at the same instant
it came to us all that he was
right, that someone had to do
that fearful thing, and we got
around to discussing it. The
co-pilot suggested we all draw
“Because whoever goes
down there is in for a dicey
time,” he said. “ Remember
that crew that put down in the
northern ice in a Douglas C-54
last year ? They were there for
three months before Thule
managed to take them off in a
“You’re right,” said the
pilot. “We’1l draw lots. Put
me down as a volunteer.”
“And me,” I said, feeling
sick. I did not want to volun-
teer, but I was ashamed not to.
The co-pilot said that he
volunteered as well and then
Braddock took over the con-
versation with blunt words.
“ Let’s stop acting noble
and wasting time while your
fuel runs out,” he grunted.
“ You blokes have this aircraft
to take care of. The choice
falls on the odd bods--George
and me. Well, the idea was
mine, not George’s, so I am
blooming well going.”
“I’1l go with you,I’ I said
“Don’t be an idiot,” said
Braddock curtly. “ But you can
give me a hand with the ’chute
if you want to be useful.”

SO I went back with
Braddock and helped
him strap on a para-
chute. Then the pilot
made a run across the
burning plane at two thou-
sand feet and I gave Brad-
dock a shove out through
the hatch from which we
had dropped the supplies.
The pilot resumed cir-
cling while we watched
Braddock drift icewards under
the spread of silk.
“ Report to Bluey,” I heard
the pilot say over the inter-
com. “ Tell them we have put
a man down safely on the ice
to assist and are now resuming
our flight.”
The intercom box was on
the fuselage close to where
I shivered in the gale blowing
in through the hatch from
which Braddock had departed.
I stopped fumbling with a
strap and clicked it on to
as speak]:
“ Not just yet,” I said
urgently. “ Give me time to get
this ’chute on. I’m going down
after Braddock.”
“ Are you harmy ?” in-
quired the pilot. I
I was wondering about that

myself. I was about as eager
to plunge into that bitter world
outside as to dive into a fur-
nace, but I knew that I had to.
I knew that either I went out
through that hatch or I would
spend the rest of my life dis-
liking myself.
“ Almost ready,” I called
over the intercom. “You can
start your run.”
“ Barmy,” said the pilot
But he took the Happy
Wanderer up to a safe dropping
height and levelled out in a
run over the burning plane. I
waited with my feet on the
bottom rim of the hatch, one
mitted hand clamped on the
top and the other holding the
parachute pack.
“ Out you go, George,”
crackled the pilot’s voice in
the intercom. “ Good luck.”
I swallowed to clear a lump
the size of an ostrich egg that
seemed to have sprouted in my
throat, took a deep breath, and
heaved myself out into the
It was years since I had done
my training jumps. I remem-
bered you were supposed to
control yourself by sawing at
the lines. I did a little sawing
and eventually I was gliding
peacefully down and watching
the wings of the Happy Wan-
derer waggle a farewell before it
turned away east towards the
towering haze of the white-
Then the whiteness below
came rushing up and I tucked
my knees under my chin and
made ready to go into a neat
forward roll——-only it did not
work out quite like that.
I landed, on a patch of frozen
snow crystals as big as marbles
and went skidding over them
for about forty yards like a man
on a surfboard until the ’chute
collapsed and I ran into it and
got tangled up in silk and
‘By the time I finished sorting
myself out Braddock had
arrived on the scene and was
regarding me with a sour
“ Very clever,” he growled.
“ Would you mind doing that
again as an encore ?”
“ Haw, haw,” I said mirth-
lessly. “ Jolly funny.”
“ I suppose you think you’ve
been blooming noble,” said
he in a voice like a rasp going
over rusty metal. “ I suppose
you think you’re a regular
blooming hero, eh ?”
“ I think no such thing,”
The Rover and Wizard
from July 10
th 1965 - page 30
I said stlflly. ‘“ I am merely
watching over my interests.
don't forget you still owe me
that five dollars you borrowed
in Montreal.”
"Idiot !” rasped Braddock,
but then his hard face crinkled
in one of his rarer grins and he
helped me bundle up my
’chute. I had landed about
fifty yards from the burning
plane and Braddock took the
lead towards it while I followed
With my arms full of sllk.
“Tread in my prints and
stay a few paces to the rear,”
he instructed me as we set off.
" There may be crevasses
" There’s nothing like being
careful,” I said, a shade
sarcastically. “I can see from
your prints that you came along
at a real careful gallop to see
if I’d come down all right.”
“ I was after your parachute
he said callously. “ lt‘ll he use-
ful to fly-sheet the tent"
The heat reached out to us as
we came to where the sitting
man sat beside the man who
lay motionless with a chalk-
white face upturned to the
sky. The flames were dying,
but the skeleton of the aircraft
glowed red-hot and the snow
and ice bubbled under it.
We turned our attention to
the sitting mun because the
one who lay looking at the sky
was so obviously dead. The
sitting man was unconscious
and the peculiar angle of one
outstretched leg showed it to
be broken just above the knee.
Marks in the snow indicated
that he had dragged his, com-
panion clear of the plane and
then collapsed beside him.
“ He may have internal
injuries as well,” said Braddock.
“ But we can stop worrying
about them for now. What we
have to do is get him warm
and under cover.”
He said we should gather
the scattered supplies and he
warned me to move slowly and
not to exert myself. He said that,
in that cold, perspiration turned
to ice on the skin and could
freeze a man to death. He also
advised me to wear my scarf
across my mouth and nostrils
to keep my lungs from frosting.
“ Don’t go too far away
either,” he said. “A whiteout
can form fast and a man can
be lost twenty yards from
It took an hour to gather in
the supplies, and at the end of
that time I was so cold I felt
as though I would never
become warm again.
It took us another hour to
put up the tent, which was
an Arctic igloo type with a
floor and a double layer of
silken skin built over a frame
of thin steel rods. As soon as it
was up we dragged the sitting
man inside and tucked him
into a sleeping bag without
bothering to strip him of his
padded flying suit.
“ Warmth is the thing right
now,” said Braddock. “We’l1
give him first-aid when he’s
thawed enough for it.”
’ After that we spent a half-
hour pegging one of the para-
chutes over the tent to increase
the waterproofing and add
an extra layer of insulation. By
the time we had done this and
stowed the supplies inside I
was so chilled that my teeth
had stopped chattering and all
the feeling had gone from my
hands and feet.
“ In you go, George,” com-
manded Braddock in a voice
muffled by the hoar-frosted
scarf across the lower half of
his face. “ Slide into one of the
bags and get warm. You can
start a hot drink for when I get
back if you feel up to it.”
“ Where are you going?” I
asked through my own mask.
“ For a walk,” he said
I said irritably that he had
certainly picked a fine time and
place to go for a walk and then
I crawled into the tent and
tucked myself into a sleeping-
bag. Gradually my shuddering
stopped and, when Braddock
returned a quarter of an hour
later, my fingers had thawed
out enough for me to start
pumping a primus.
“ I had a look at that plane,”
he said when he was in one of
the bags and sipping soup that I
had served lukewarm because
it was impossible to boil it in
that temperature.
“ George, I'm going to take
a closer look at that plane in
a few hours when the fire’s
burned out,” he went on.
“ There is something very
peculiar about that aircraft.”
“ Such as ?” I inquired.
“That is what I am trying
to decide,” said Braddock, and
afterwards he became silent
and I did not bother to ques-
tion him because I was not
really interested.
At that stage I was not to
know that we had blundered
into the terrifying business
that was to become known as the
Thunderbird Affair.

NEXT WEEK-—Braddock and
Bourne do what they can for
the injured man and discover
something very unusual about
his clothing -— and his



The Rover and Wizard from March 19th 1966 to July 30th 1966 - 20 issues








Picture - The Rover and Wizard from April 23rd 1966 - front page

Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories


The Rover and Wizard
from March 19
th 1966 - page 2
The war against Germany is ending when
strange flying objects are seen in the skies
over Europe. What are they? Who flies them? Their menacing story is now told
for the first time!

THE Second World War should have ended with the Japanese sur~
render on the 15th of August in the year 1945. As for as most people are concerned, that is the date the war did end. The
history books say so.
It was called VJ. Day, and
people danced in Trafalgar Square
because they were so sure it was
true and the years of bitter struggle
were finally over.
They were wrong, of course, and I was
just as wrong as any of them. On VJ. Day
I was as sure as anybody else that it was
all over and that soon I would be able to
take off my uniform and start getting used
to civilian clothes and civilian ways. Well,
I was able to do that for a while, as it
My name is George Bourne and I had a

fairly hectic war because for rnost of it I
flew with Braddock—Sergeant Matt
Braddock, V.C., D.F.M., one of Britain’s
greatest wartime pilots. I was his
At the time of V.E. Day we were flying
with a Mosquito squadron based at
Eindhoven in Holland. V.E. Day came
before VJ. Day.
V.E. Day was on the 7th of May
and the letters stand for Victory in Europe,
the day the German generals surrendered
to the Allies on windswept Luneburg
That ended our war. There were still
the Japs to be defeated, but the only fight-
ing in Europe was the mopping up of
pockets of German troops who refused to
abide by the surrender.
These were mostly detachments of
hard-core S.S., the black-uniformed
Death’s-Head soldiers who regarded
themselves as more or less the private
army of Adolf Hitler, the German leader,
who then lay dead by his own hand in a
bunker in Berlin.
It was one of these groups we had to
deal with on the 10th of May, three days
after V.E. Day. There were about fifty of
them and they had ambushed an American
Army column in the Southern Bavarian
“ They gave the Yanks a regular shoot-
ing up,” said one Squadron Intelligence
Officer. A
He rested the tip of a pencil on the map.
“They’ve been traced to there,” he
went on, “ a valley, very small and high
up. The only approach is by this bridle
path. The Yanks were naturally a bit
narked about the ambush, but they acted
very decently.”
It was possible that the Germans in the
valley did not know the war was over. So
the Americans had dropped a note to
inform them and invite them to surrender.
The Piper Cub aeroplane that had done
the dropping had come under machine-
gun fire and had an uncomfortable time.
The pilot said he had seen men in black
uniforms running towards the canister
containing the note.
“ He flew back over the valley an hour
later,” said the Intelligence Officer. “ The
arrangement was that the Jerries would
lay out something white if they wanted to
surrender. The pilot radioed that there
were a couple of white shirts laid out on
the ground.”
So he took the little aeroplane down
lower and was promptly shot down. There
were only fifty Germans, but they had
some heavy machine-guns. They also had
mortars, as the infuriated Americans dis-
covered when they sent a fighting patrol
along the bridle path.
“ What the Yanks did next was launch
a fighter strike,” said the officer. “ They
hit the valley with a flight of Mustangs.
But those Jerries proved to be so snug
in such good positions it was just a waste
of cannon shells. So they asked for a
heavier strike and we agreed to help.”

The Rover and Wizard
from March 19
th 1966 - page 3
Our Mosquitoes could deliver
a very heavy strike, fast and
accurately from low level. They
were graceful, twin-engined
aircraft able to carry a 4000-
pound bomb load.
At that moment the two
destined to take part in this
particular strike were each
having four 250-pounders
winehed into their fuselage
bays and, eight 60-pound rockets
racked under their wings.
The Intelligence officer
finished briefing us and then
turned us over to the Squadron
The Squadron Leader was
a very young man who tried
to make up for his lack of
years by a constant act of being
very casual. He appeared to
come out of a light snooze when
the Intelligence officer
addressed him.
“Ah, yes,” he drawled,
stifling a yawn. He looked at us
—at Braddock and myself, and
at Pilot Offfcer Jonas and
Sergeant Grigg, the crew of
the other Mosquito.
“ Seems a cushy little trip
to me,” he said. Then he
proved he had been paying
close attention all the time by
reminding us of what the
Intelligence officer had said
about an overcast sky at some
eight thousand feet over the
target area.
“That’s high country,” he
said. “ That cloud only has to
drop a couple of thousand feet
to cover some of those peaks.
So you just watch it. Braddock,
you are flight leader.”
Braddock nodded. Jonas was
an officer, but it was quite
normal for a lower rank to be in
command in the air. I once
knew a Lancaster bomber com-
manded by a sergeant-pilot
who had four officers in the
crew under him.
“Any questions?” inquired
the Squadron Leader. We
shook our heads and he brushed
away another yawn and said we
were to take off as soon as
possible. He would radio the
United States Army Command
when we were on our way.
“ Have a nice party,” he said
in a fatherly fashion. Then
we went out to pick up our
Afterwards we lounged
about in deckchairs until the
ground erks had finished
making ready our aircraft.
“ Silly, isn’t it ?” I said to
I tried to sound as casual
as the Squadron Leader, but
I did not have his knack for
it. I was going to have to
take part in some quite un-
necessary killing and it caused
me to feel angry and a bit
“Those stupid Jerries,” I
said. “ Why can’t they give in ?
They must know they’1l only
get wiped out.”
Braddock did not answer
right away. He was gazing
absently across the vast expanse
of the airfield at the woods
that enclosed it on that side.
There was a story about the
woods around Eindhoven Air-
A lot of Germans were cut off
in the woods when we captured
the airfield in late 1944, the
previous year. Some of them
were awkward types who had
started sniping at a battery of
25—pounder field guns that had.
gone into a crash action out on
the field.
A couple of gunners had been
killed and a sergeant in
command of one of the gun-subs
had requested permission to be
allowed to deal with the snipers.
“ Go ahead,” he was told.
So he went ahead and what
he did was to level off his field
gun and fire a dozen shells
into the perimeter from which
the most irritating of the
sniping was coming.
The tiny impact of grazing
a twig can explode a 25-
pounder shell and fill the air
about it with a spreading
cluster of red-hot shrapnel.
I had seen the scars from
that shooting.
Branches had been ripped
off, great chunks had been
gouged out of trees. Some
of the thin pines had been
chopped in two by the flying
According to the story, five
hundred Germans had
stumbled on to the airfield after
that dose of 25-pounder
For over an hour they came,
waving white rags, yelling
“ Kamarad” and offering
fountain pens as souvenirs.
Then things had been quiet for
a while.
Then the sniping had started
again and another gunner had
been hit. It had taken a strong
patrol to winkle out the handful
of enemy who chose not to
Their graves were at the edge
of the woods. Most of them had
been black-clad S.S. troopers.
Some of them were boys of
fifteen or sixteen.
“ Silly,” I mumbled as I
thought of this futile waste of
life, and that was when
Braddock chose to answer me.
“ They are dreaming,
George,” he said slowly.
“ They prefer to die rather than
wake up and face the fact that
the impossible has happened
and Germany has lost the war.
Hitler fooled them completely.
“ I wouldn’t be surprised if
most of those trapped in the
valley don’t still believe that
Adolf Hitler is alive yet,” he
went on. “I’d bet some of
them think that he is still going
to win the war by use of
another and even more
incredible secret weapon.”
I grinned at that. It was what
people usually did at mention
of Hitler’s secret weapons. You
were supposed to display
amusement to show your
contempt of the boasting and
the threats screamed by Radio
Berlin—yet there had been
nothing very funny about the
V.1. flying bombs that had
landed on Southern England.
The giant V.2. rockets had
not been exactly amusing,
either. Nor the germ warfare
laboratory that was discovered
and destroyed just in time by a
powerful air strike.
The point was that Hitler’s
secret weapons had come very
close to winning the war for
However, they had not
succeeded, and now Hitler was
dead in that bunker in Berlin
with a bullet in his head and
Germany in ruins around him.
So my grin at Braddock was not
as nervous as it might have been
a month before.
“They’ll learn,” I said.
“ Maybe,” he nodded. “ But
it will be painful - and I
wouldn’t be surprised if we
come across quite a few more
who prefer to be killed

HE got up then and I
saw that Jonas
and S e r g e a n t
Grigg had already risen. I
looked over to the dispersal
point and saw the waving
arms of Flight Thomas. I
reached tor my parachute
pack and got up.
“How is it ?” inquired
Braddock when a jeep had taken
us to our aircraft.
“ Have no fear,” said
Thomas. “Everything is in
order. I have even counted your
engines. You have two, one on
either wing.”
“ It’s so reassuring to have
such a diligent and trustworthy
flight mechanic,” remarked
Braddock amid the sniggers
of the erks as he wandered
round the Mosquito and took a
look for himself.
I doubt if Braddock bothered
to count the engines, but he
certainly checked the tyre
Then he went down on hands
and knees to peer up at the
bombs in the open bay, glanced
over the racks of rockets and
then took a look over the
ground under the aircraft for oil
After that he joined me in
the cockpit and began’ his take-
off drill.
“ Go ahead, Grey Leader,”
said the control tower on the
radio. “Clear to line up and
take off.”
Braddock acknowledged and
taxi-ran the Mosquito round
to the end of the main runway.
It was a typical Braddock take-
off - fast and very smooth.
On course, we went on
climbing. We arrived at fifteen
thousand feet and Braddock
levelled off and throttled down
to cruise at three hundred miles
an hour. Through gaps in a
light overcast I caught blurred
glimpses of the ground.

The Rover and Wizard
from March 19
th 1966 - page 4
Holland was flat and puddled
with water. The Germans had
broken dikes; bombs and shells
had breached numerous canals
and rivers, and the released
water had spread.
Our Mosquitoes swept on
and now we, were over
We flew through several
patches of sunshine and were
beginning to feel hopeful about
the weather. But, in the
afternoon, an overcast closed in
low under us.
The tops of peaks stuck
up above it like currants stuck
on top of a mass of dirty-grey
rice pudding.
“We’re getting close,” said
Braddock, frowning down at
the dirty greyness. “ Have a try
at getting in touch with the
I tried several times on. the
radio, but mountains can block
air to ground radio contact.
At last I got a tuning whistle
when I pressed the netting
button. As I switched over to
radio-telephony, a polite, very
precise American voice filled
my headphones.
“ Hello, Grey Leader ! Hello,
Grey Leader! Report my
signals. Grey Leader-over.”
I reported that I could hear
him at strength four, which was
fairly good, and asked him if he
could hear our aircraft. The
American said he could hear us
clearly, but we were circling
a little to the east of him.
Braddock took us a little to
the west and started leading
the other Mosquito round in a
tighter sweep. Then I could
hear the ground at strength
five, which was very good.
Another voice came on the
air, a voice that was iust as
polite, but had a rasp of
authority in it. The owner
said he was “ Sunray,” which
meant he was the officer in
command of the American
troops down on the mountain.
I asked him how things were
going below.
“Those confounded
Krauts,” said Sunray. “ I sent
a patrol in to talk things over
and the Krauts shot them up.
You boys better watch it when
you go in. Those Krauts got a
couple of eighty-eight fak guns
up there.”
“ Blooming odd,” murmured
Braddock. “ A bunch of
retiring Jerries wouldn’t be
able to drag two heavy eighty-
eights over terrain like that
down there. It sounds to me as
if that valley was fortified some
while ago.”
He inquired what the
weather was like down below
and got the answer that it was
drab and drizzly with a little
dank swirling mist. Sunray
also reported that the over-
cast came down to within a few
hundred feet of the gap that led
into the valley.
“We can’t see the tops of
the peaks on either side,” he
said. “ They stick right up into
the cloud and mist.”
Braddock briefly thought
over the situation and then
inquired if anybody could see
what looked like a pocket of
clear sky about two miles off
to the west. I looked hard, but
the rice pudding mixture
looked much the same every-
where to me. Jonas and Sergeant
Grigg echoed my answer.
“ It could be a pocket,”
mused Braddock.
Nobody argued, because we
had all had experience of
Braddock’s remarkable vision.
Those eyes of Braddock’s
were large and well-spaced,
with a strange, luminous
quality as though a bright
lamp burned deep in their
“ We’ll try it,” he decided.
“ Grey Two, you follow, but
give me plenty of room. I don’t
want you treading on my tail-
plane if I have to do any quick
“Don’t worry,” said Jonas.
“I’l1 give you lots of room.”
“ Good luck, boys,” said
Sunray on the ground.
I did not really see
Braddock’s pocket until we
were nosing into it, and then it
was not my idea of a pocket.
It definitely was a break in
The Rover and Wizard
from March 19
th 1966 - page 5
the mixture, but very slight.
The Mosquito seemed to be
diving down a well with dirty-
grey walls that pressed in darker
and tighter as the descent went
on and on.
Braddock had to corkscrew
the aircraft to prevent its going
into a wing-breaking dive or
skidding off into the walls of
grimy fleece around us. We
spun down that well for exactly
three thousand, four hundred
and sixty—three feet.
I can vouch for this because,
apart from chewing my
knuckles, I had one eye glued
to the altimeter and the other
to the heights marked on my
I did not feel very happy.
Had there been a rug in the
cabin, I would probably have
crawled under it; But there was
not, so I just sagged there,
goggling at the chart and at the
“ Oh~oh !” said Braddock
He started to pull out and I
realised that the greyness below
had become a very pale grey and
that this paleness was spreading
up into the gloom about us.
We flashed into dull daylight
and began flying along the
underside of the overcast like a
fly on a ceiling.
We skimmed a ridge, crossed
a wide, shallow valley, and
went over on the outside wing
to sweep round the side of a
mountain that was wreathed in
hazy tendrils of mist and had
its upper part buried in cloud.
In my rear-view mirror I caught
a glimpse of Jonas’ Mosquito
boiling along after us.
“ There we are,” said
Braddock as we rounded the
mass of the mountain and the
ground opened out.
There was another wide
valley and beyond it a long and
steep rock-ribbed and boulder-
studded slope that ended in
scree slopes at the foot of high
There were moving figures
on the lower slopes, figures
in round helmets and
camouflage smocks. I saw the
white dots of faces upturned to
stare at us.
“ We see you now,”
crackled the voice of Sunray.
“ Boy, oh, boy, we now have
you in clear sight.”
“Keep off the air—we are
going in,” Braddock said curtly.
He made a delicate adjust-
ment of his hands and feet, and,
as the nose of the Mosquito
came round a couple of points,
I saw the gap ahead. It seemed
very narrow and the cliffs
on either side ran straight up
into the cloud.
“Drop your bombs in the
gap,” Braddock ordered Jonas.
“ That’s where the defence will
be. We’ll make a second run
with the rockets.”
“Right,” said Ionas.

BY that time we were
across the valley
and crossing above
the hillside and the up-
turned faces. A light
drizzle was smearing the
I did not see Braddock press
the stud to open the fuselage
bomb-bays, but suddenly the
warning light was glowing on
the panel.
We were about three hundred
yards from the gap and
approaching on a line two
hundred feet above it and just
under the overcast when the
flak guns opened up.
One shell burst somewhere
below and rocked us, the other
was a mushroom of black smoke
that drifted past a hundred
yards off our starboard wingtip.
“Eighty-eights,” remarked
Braddock, pushing the throttle
levers forward. “ What on
Earth are guns like that doing
up here?”
The Mosquito s u r g e d
forward and Jonas promptly fed
extra boost to his own engines
to keep his position behind our
The next two shells burst
well behind and then we were
streaking between the walls
of the gap. I felt the aircraft
give a little lift and then another.
“ Bombs away,” said
He was pulling on the column
as he spoke and we went up
steep and fast. I heard Jonas
report his bombs gone and then
I saw black rock loom ahead and
fall away. Suddenly we were
spearing up into the overcast.
The bomb bursts were red
flashes in the greyness below
as Braddock brought us round
in a climbing turn. We turned
so tight and sheer that the air-
craft seemed to stand on its
That was when it happened,
and it happened very fast. I
was pressed back into my seat
by the gravity of the turn and
suddenly there was this shape
ahead of us.
For an instant I thought
Jonas had pulled off an

impossible piece of flying and
put himself in front of us. I
thought in that fleeting instant
that we were going to ram
Then the cloud abruptly
thinned as we hit a freak pocket
and I got a clear view of the
shape. I saw that it was not a
Mosquito. It was not even an
aircraft as I knew them. It
was long and cigar-shaped and
flames seemed to be licking out
of its underside.
I also realised we were not
going to hit it, a point Braddock
must have decided a split-
second before, as he took no
avoiding action.
The shape was rising fast at
such a steep angle that it was
forty feet higher than us as we
bored into the air pocket. It was
also so big that I had gained a
false impression of how close it
It happened faster than I
can tell about it. How it went
was that this solid-seeming
outline loomed ahead. For
perhaps a half off a second I
had a clear view of it, then the
view changed.
The shape tilted on to its
edge and I was looking at some-
thing like a giant soup plate.
It was streaking upwards at
fantastic speed.
Then it had vanished in the
overcast, and I was shaking my
head and blinking my eyes.
The Mosquito passed
through the pocket into cloud.
I craned my neck and it seemed
to me that I caught a fading
glimpse of a red glow high
“ Matt --” I began and
that was when the mountain
blew up under us, an uprush
of blast striking us on top of a
fountain of flame. The
Mosquito began acting crazily
and went into a spin so tight
and steep that I blacked out.
“ Hullo, Grey Leader,” a
voice was saying. “ Report my
signals. Grey Leader-over.”
“ A n s w e r him,” said
Matt was making adjustment
to the trim of the aircraft with
the trimmer winder. We were
climbing, the sludge greyness
of cloud all round us. I told
Jonas we were all right.
“ What happened?” I asked
“ Blowed if I know,” he
answered. “ I never saw a bang
like that before. We were
lucky. We’d just cleared the
ridge, so we missed it except
for a backwash of blast.”
“ Boy, oh, boy!” Sunray
came on the air. He sounded
dazed. “ You British sure do a
thorough job. When you bomb,
you surely do bomb.”
Braddock nosed down. under
the overcast for a look, and we
had a shock. The small valley
had vanished. Half of the
mountain appeared to have slid
down and filled it in.
“ It’s more like an earth-
quake than an explosion,” I
marvelled. “ Great Scot, Matt,
it must have taken a few
hundred tons of explosive to
do that.”
“ There was something there,
George,” he said slowly.
“ Something that had to be
covered up. Well, it certainly
has been covered. It would take
months to dig through that
Jonas asked if he could
come down for a look. Braddock
said no, that we had taken
enough chances with the over-
cast and it was time to head
for home before we began to
run short of fuel. He told
Jonas to get going and said
we would catch up with him.
“Wilco,” Jonas acknow-
ledged disappointedly, mean-_
ing that he would. Then his
place on the air waves was
taken over by Sunray. Sunray
The Rover and Wizard
from March 19
th 1966 - page 6
still sounded dazed and dis-
“Thanks for the helping
hand, boys,” he said. “ But-
jeepers——what a hand you deal.
Boy, oh, boy !”
“ Cheerio,” grunted Brad-
We did not catch up with
Jonas on the way home, mainly
because Braddock ignored the
bearing I gave him and picked
one of his own that started us
on a longer return course.
I understood the reason
when he turned off the main
radio so that we could talk
privately by intercom.
“You saw it, George,” he
said. “I saw it. A blessed
flying saucer. We saw it but
who is going to believe us ?”
“ Jonas didn’t see it,” I
said. “ He wouldn’t have been
able to keep quiet if he’d seen
it. Maybe we should be a little
careful about reporting it.”
“We have no choice,” he
said. “It must be something
important. It’ll sound queer all
right, but we did see it, and
the high-ups should be told.”
When we got back we re-
ported having sighted a giant
flying saucer. It was just as I
feared. The Intelligence Officer
sniggered and said we were a
pair of jokers, and then he
realised we were serious.
He became serious himself
and started talking about the
strain of flying. Braddock
glared at him.
“ Listen, you,” rasped. Brad-
dock with utter disregard of
the man’s officer rank. “We
saw that thing, and either you
put it in your report or I shall
demand a court of inquiry.
I’ll even land myself with a
court-martial if I have to.”
“ Oh—-er, yes,” muttered the
officer, flinching and snatching
up his pencil. “ How do you
describe this thing? Like a
" More like two saucers
clamped face to face,” growled
Braddock. “About sixty feet
across and thick at the hub
with a gradual taper towards
the edges. There was a sort of
halo of fire round the edge.
It moved very fast and I got
the idea it was spinning.”
“How jolly interesting,”
said the officer weakly,
scribbling away.
The report went in, and I
supposed it was either filed
or torn up because we heard
nothing more about it officially.
However, we did hear a lot
from jokers who came to ask
our opinion on such matters
as flying plates, ?fling hat-
racks, or even flying steam—
At least I did. A glance
from those strangely luminous
eyes of Braddock’s had a way
of putting an abrupt end to
such ragging.

TIME passed and the
squadron prepared
to move to the Far
East, but VJ. Day put an
end to that. The Japanese
gave in, and, a month or
so later, Braddock and I
were posted to a holding
squadron to wait for
Braddock was due to go out
before me, but his age and,
Service group was not to be
demobbed until January of
1946, so it was naturally a
surprise when movement orders
arrived for both of us in
early November.
“ Get your kit packed at the
double,” said the warrant
officer in the office. “ There’s a
truck come for you.”
The truck proved to be a
fifteen-hundredweight job with
an R.A.F. policeman beside

the driver and another in the
The one in the back turned
out to be either dense or under
orders. He just stared. blankly
when I tried him with a few
The truck carried us to
London and through London
to Whitehall. It parked in a
courtyard guarded by R.A.F.
There was no delay. As soon
as we had descended from the
vehicle, our own two coppers
escorted us by way of a flight of
stairs and a series of echoing
corridors to a room containing
a lean man with a bony,
weathered face and iron-grey
“ Wait outside,” grunted the
iron-grey man to the policemen.
To Braddock and myself he
said “ Sit down!”
We sat down on chairs which
were drawn up in front of the
We knew this man. His name
was Wren and he had been in
command of a bombing mission
on which we had been engaged
in 1943- He had been an Air
Commodore at that time, but
now I saw from the extra
“ fruit rings” that he had gone
up to Air Chief Marshal.
“ It’s been a long time since
I last met you men, a long time
since the Reggie raid,” he
said to us. ‘ But I’ve kept tabs
on you. I suppose you are look-
ing forward to l leaving the
Service and making a start in
civilian life.”
We said that we were. I
remember that Braddock said so
quite frankly while I answered
in a kind of sheepish mumble.
The Air Chief frowned and
shook his head. .
‘ “ I am sorry about this,” he
said. “ But I cannot allow it. I
have extended your period of
service by one year.”
We stared at him
' “What the--!” began
Braddock, half-rising, but then
he remembered who he was
addressing and he sank down
again—-not because Wren was
an Air Chief, but because he
was a man Braddock had grown
to respect on that Reggio
“ I should like to know
why,” said Braddock bleakly.
“The war’s over, isn’t it ?”
“Think so?” said Wren.
We stared harder at him
because Braddock had not
intended the remark as a
question, but as a statement.
The war was officially over.
There had been V.E. Day and
VJ. Day and now the world
was at peace.
“ Look at this,” said Wren.
. He opened a folder and
pushed a photograph across the
desk at us. It was a rumpled,
scratched, slightly out of focus
picture of something I had seen
once before.
As, I looked at it I was
carried back nearly six months
in time and several hundred
miles in space. I was once again
in cloud layer over a mountain
that would presently explode
‘ “ You gave a good description
of it in that report of yours,”
I heard Wren say.
“Yes, it’s what we saw six
months ago,” Braddock said.
“ But what is it ?”
“ Hitler’s last secret
weapon,” Wren replied in a
tone so calm it was almost flat.
“ He launched it against us
before he died in that bunker.
It is still being used against us,
and it’s dangerous, very
dangerous !”

What's the answer to this fast-
flying German threat? Britain
must find one and find one
quick. Read NEXT WEEK how
Braddock is picked for a
dangerous job.


After the text stories in The Rover, Braddock appeared in picture strip format for various titles - including ---- Victor, Red Dagger and Warlord

Now for the first time since 1983 Walsall’s own flying ace Braddock VC is published again. Starting with Commando issue 5259 “Braddock” 7/9/2019

Well here’s a turn up tor the books and no mistake! That brilliant, no-nonsense bomber is back in comics for the first time since 1983, in a rendition of his earlier exploits as told by fellow-writer Ferg Handley. Starting with his challenging pre-war entry into flight training, the Auxiliaries and early days in the RAF, the artwork by Morhain and Defeo faithfully renders those beloved old kites he flew before we met,
and Keith Burns’ wraparound cover perfectly captures the feeling of those first bombing raids. I’m delighted. to see him back in the cockpit, but as Braddock himself would say, let’s cut the chat and get on with it.
RAF Sergeant George Bourne


So, Braddock’s the second geezer to make it back from the archives — and I hope you’re ready for him. If you’re sharp, then you’ll have guessed from Keith Burns’ tasty wraparound that my old mate Braddock is a bomber pilot with spades of attitude. I’m surprised he’s still allowed to fly, but I’ve got some juicy intel that he’ll be back in a kite in #5267 out 3rd of October. You don’t want to miss this one.
By direct order of the Quartermaster.





I Flew With Braddock - Printed and published by D.C. Thomson & John Leng. The author was given as "George Bourne". The book was based on the Rover comic text stories.
Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories

CHAPTER 1. The Name is Braddock page 9

MY name is Bourne, Sergeant George Bourne - and I flew with Braddock!

Sergeant-Pilot Matt Braddock, V.C. and bar, was one of the greatest airmen of the Second World War.
Many people disliked him, and some even hated him for the ruthless way in which he swept aside anything he regarded as red tape or useless discipline, but even his bitterest critics had to admit that, in the air, Braddock had no equal.

Those of you who have read my stories of Braddock’s earlier wartime exploits, will know how I first met him.
For the benefit of those who haven’t, I shall tell again briefly the story of my first encounter with this remarkable
man. I had just finished my training course in navigation, wireless and bomb-aiming when, on May 25, 1940, I was posted to 18B Squadron at Rampton in South-East England. The squadron flew Blenheim bombers.
When I got to Liverpool Street Station in London to catch the train to Rampton, I found myself in the crush behind a burly fellow. He had the stripes of a sergeant on his R.A.F. tunic. His pilot’s wings hung by a few threads. He carried a kitbag, but wasn’t wearing a cap. This fact was immediately noted by the two R.A.F. police on duty by the gate and they pounced on him. “ You’re improperly dressed !” snapped the sergeant policeman. “ Where’s your cap?”
“Where you ought to be, over in Belgium!" said the offender gruffly. -“ I’ve just come from Dunkirk. Maybe you’ve heard there’s been quite a battle there - against the enemy!”

page 9

He didn’t keep his voice down and there were murmurs of agreement from the servicemen in the crowd.
“ Where are your papers?” the sergeant policeman demanded.
" With my hat,” growled the sergeant-pilot. “ I’ve only got a railway ticket.”
The sergeant took out his notebook.
“ Name?” he demanded.
“ Braddock," drawled the pilot.
“ Number?” snapped the sergeant. T
“ How should I know?” muttered Braddock. “ Do you think l’ve nothing else to do but remember the answers to silly questions asked by Air Force cops ?” The policeman thrust his notebook back into his pocket.
“ Fall in,” he barked. “ You’re under arrest.”
Braddock uttered a scoffing laugh.
“ Come on,” snarled the sergeant. “ Quick march!”
Braddock slung his kitbag on to his shoulder. It could have been accidental, but he caught the sergeant a resound-
ing thump on the side of the head and knocked his cap off. The policeman looked as if he were going to explode from the violence of his emotions as he picked up his cap. He closed in on Braddock with his comrade. Braddock turned and winked at the onlookers. He made no attempt to keep in step as they marched him away. “ He’s for it,” remarked a corporal. “ They’ll have that poor mug for every crime in the book!” ..............


Braddock and the Flying Tigers
Red Lion in 1962.

Printed and published by D.C. Thomson & John Leng

The author was given as "George Bourne". The book was based on the Rover comic text stories.

Also see my Flickr album - Matt Braddock VC - boys comic stories

“ I’m sorry if anybody has got into trouble,” Braddock
said. “ But after all, we were never told about it.”
Koch gave him a worried look.
“ You are the boys who are in trouble,” he replied.
“ Colonel Beal will be investigating the matter himself and
he can be very bad medicine. Another flyer who got off-
course is under arrest for an unspecified period.”
“ Well, we shall have to wait and see the Colonel then,”
said Braddock.
Koch nodded. He was far from happy. Possibly he also
sensed a stormy interview with the Colonel ahead.
“ Did we see Colonel Beal in Flying Control last night?”
I asked. “ Was he a big man with a red face and quite a lot
of fruit salad?”
“ Fruit salad?” echoed Koch.
“ Medal ribbons,” I explained.
“ Yes, that was Colonel Beal,” replied Koch. “He has
seen combat service both in Europe and the Pacific.”
“ He must have spent a lot of time in travelling,” was
Braddock’s comment. l
When Koch left, Lieutenant Holton seated himself at a
desk and took a batch of forms out of a drawer. Four cops
stayed in the room to guard us.
“ I must proceed with your documentation,” Holton said.
“ Do you want to take our fingerprints?” asked Braddock.
“ Cut out the wisecracks, bud,” growled the huge sergeant
who loomed like a mountain beside us.
Holton took Braddock’s full names - Matthew Ernest
Braddock, his birthplace as Walsall, and his age as 30.
“ I see you have some decorations,” he said, regarding the
faded ribbons on Braddock’s tunic.
“ There’s no need to mention them,” Braddock growled,
“ and I’d like to know what all this has got to do with
getting on with the war.”
I thought for an instant that the sergeant was going to
bend his truncheon over Braddock’s head. Only a sharp
look from Holton stopped him.
“ What was your mother’s birthplace?” snapped the
“ I think she came from Salop,” said Braddock.
“ Where?” exclaimed Holton.
“ Just put Salop,” said Braddock.
“ How long have you been in the Royal Air Force?” was
another question put to him.
“ About three years longer than America has been in the
War,” said Braddock.
The noise like an air compressor leaking was made by the
sergeant. His jaw stuck out and he raised his truncheon over
his shoulder.
“ No, Sergeant !” exclaimed Holton.
Braddock turned to me.
“ It seems to be more dangerous in here than it would be
on Guadalcanal,” he remarked, mentioning an island in the
Pacific occupied by the Japanese.
I thought the sergeant was going to choke. The lieutenant
was getting angrier and angrier.
“ We’ll get on with the documentation,” he snapped.
Braddock shrugged.
“ I’ve answered all the questions I’m going to,” he said.
“ You can put down what you like from now on.”
Holton glared at him furiously.
“ Sergeant, I must remind you that you are now under
American military law and disobedience to an order may be
called mutiny,” he said.
“ All right, so I’ve mutinied,” retorted Braddock.
“ George and I have come over to fight, not to answer a lot
of silly questions. If it would. kill a single Jap I’d tell you my
life history, but it wouldn’t, so why worry?”
“ I feel the same !” I exclaimed. “ This is just a waste of
Holton flung down his pen and gestured to the sergeant
to come forward.
“ Lock ’em up,” he said grimly and then dropped his
voice. “ But no rough stuff, not yet. They have to be seen by
Colonel Beal.”
We were marched out. The sergeant glowered threaten-
ingly at us.
“ We’ve got ways of softening up wise guys like you,” he
“ Then why don’t you go and try ’em on the Japs?” asked
Braddock. “ I should have thought a big chap like you would
have been keen to do some real fighting.”
With a muffled snarl, the heavy-weight sergeant pushed us
into a cell.



Biggles Goes Home

Chapter 2 – A Tough Proposition

Page 16

“TELL me, Bigglesworth, where were you born?” Air Commodore Raymond, head of the Special Air Police at Scotland Yard, put the question to his senior operational pilot who, at his request, had just entered his office.

“That’s a bit unexpected,” answered Biggles, pulling up a chair to the near side of his chief ’s desk. “India. I thought you knew that.”

“Yes, of course I knew. I should have been more explicit. Where exactly in India?”

Biggles smiled faintly. “I first opened my peepers in the dak bungalow at Chini, in Garhwal, in the northern district of the United Provinces.”

“How did that come about?”

“My father had left the army and entered the Indian Civil Service. He was for a time Assistant Cornmissioner at Garhwal and with my mother was on a routine visit to Chini when, as I learned later, I arrived somewhat prematurely. However, just having been whitewashed inside and out, the bungalow was nice and clean, and I managed to survive.”

“How long were you there?”

“In the United Provinces? About twelve years. Then, as I was getting recurring bouts of fever

Page 17

I was sent home to give my blood a chance to thicken. I lived with an uncle, who had a place in Norfolk.”

“Do you remember anything of Garhwal?”

“One doesn’t forget the place where one spent the first twelve years of one’s life.”

“Did you like it there?”

“I loved every moment of it. After all, what more could a boy ask for? Elephants to ride on, peacocks in the trees and rivers stiff with fish.”

“You never went back?”

“I didn’t get a chance. I was at school when the first war started, and by the time it was over my people were dead.”

“You remember the country pretty well?”

“If it hasn’t changed, and I don’t suppose it has. When I say I know it I mean as well as any white boy could know it--that is, the tracks from one place to another. I doubt if anyone could get to know the jungle itself. The bharbar, as they call it, the forest jungle that covers the whole of the lower slopes of the eastern Himalayas, is pretty solid, and I reckon it’ll be the last place on earth to be tamed.”

“You did some hunting, I believe.”

“Yes, My father believed in boys making an early start. I used to go out with him and an old shikari who taught me tracking, and so on.”

“Ever get a tiger?”

“No, but one nearly got me.”

“It must have been a dangerous place for a boy.”

“Oh, I don’t know. It’s a matter of familiarity. Here, people are killed on the roads every day but that doesn’t keep us at home. The first thing the Italians, who live on the slopes of Vesuvius, do, every morning, is glance up at the volcano to see if it looks like blowing

Page 18

its top. The first thing I did when I got out of bed was turn my mosquito boots upside down to make sure a kraitl hadn’t roosted in one of ’em. Thousands of Indians are killed every year by snakes but that doesn’t make people afraid to go out. As a matter of fact a twelve-foot hamadryad lived in our garden.2 He didn’t worry us so we left him alone because he kept down the rats and ate any other snake that trespassed on his preserves. Here you get used to trafific; there you get used to snakes, tigers, bears and panthers, if you leave the beaten track. If I was scared of anything it was the Bhotiyas--not the tribesmen themselves, but their dogs. The men come down the mountains with sheep and goats which they use as beasts of burden to carry loads of wool and borax. The dogs, enormous hounds like shaggy mastiffs, wearing spiked collars, are trained to protect the herds from bears and panthers, but they’re just as likely to go for you. No. Malaria, the sort called jungle fever, is the real danger. Sooner or later it gets you. It got me.”

“Do you remember the language?”

“Probably. I had friends among the Garhwalis and Kumoan hillmen so I picked up quite a bit of their lingo. I can still speak Hindi and Urdu although it’s some time since I had occasion to use either.” Biggles’ eyes suddenly clouded with suspicion. “Here. Wait a minute. What’s all this about.”

“I was wondering if you’d care to go back.”

“You mean—for a holiday?”

“Well---er---not exactly.”

Biggles nodded. “So that’s it. I should have guessed

1 A small but very deadly snake.

2 This is not an uncommon practice in India. The hamadryad or king cobra can grow up to thirteen feet. Its colour is yellow with black crossbands.

Page 19

there was a trick in it. Before we go any further how about explaining this sudden interest in India?”

“I’m coming to that. I was just sounding you out to find out how much you knew about the country. We’ve just learned that a very good friend of ours is somewhere in the jungle of Garhwal, sick, and we’d like to have him brought here.”

“Presumably by me?”

“Of course.”

“Where exactly is he ?”

“I don’t know.”

Biggles’ eyes opened wide. “You don’t know ?”

“All I know is, he’s hiding in the jungle.”

Biggles looked incredulous. “And I’m supposed to find him ?”



Biggles Learns to Fly

Chapter 1 – First Time Up!

Page 7

One fine September morning in the war-stricken year of 1916. a young officer, in the distinsctive uniform of the Royal Flying Corps appeared ire the doorway of one of the long, low, narrow wooden huts which, mushroom-like, had sprung up all over England during the previous eighteen months. He paused for a moment to regard a great open expanse that stretched away as far as he could see before him in the thin autumn mist that made everything one
side a radius of a few hundred yards seem shadowy and vague.

There was little about him to distinguish him from thousands of others in whose ears the call to arms had not sounded in vain. and who were doing precisely the same thing in various parts of the country. His uniform was still free from the marks of war that would eventually stain it. His Sam Browne belt still squeaked slightly when he moved, like a pair of new boots. There was nothing remarkable or even martial, about his physique; on the contrary, he was slim, rather below average height. and delicate-iooking. A wisp of fair hair from one side of his rakishly tilted R.F.C. cap; . now sparkling with pleasurable anticipation, were what is usually called hazel. His features were finely cut, but the squareness of his chin and the firm line of his mouth revealed a certain doegedness, a tenacity of purpose, that denied any suggestion of weakness. Only his hands were small and white, and might have been those of a girl. His youthfulness was apparent. He might have reached the eighteen years shown on his papers. but his birth certificate had he produced it at the recruiting office, would have

Page 7
revealed that he would not attain that age for another eleven months. Like many others who had left school to plunge straight into the war, he had conveniently ‘lost’ his birth certificate when applying for enlistment, nearly three months previously.

A heavy, hair-lined leather coat, which looked large enough for a man twice his size, hung stiffly over his arrn. In his right hand he held a flying-helmet, also of leather but lined with fur, a pair of huge gauntlets, with coarse, yellowish hair on the backs, and a pair of goggles. He started as the silence was shattered by a reverberating roar which rose to a mighty crescendo and then died away to a low splutter. The sound, which he knew was the roar of an aero-engine, although he had never been so close to one before, came from a row of giant structures that loomed dimly through the now-dispersing mist, along one side of the bleak expanse upon which he gazed with eager anticipation. There was little enough to see, yet he had visualized that flat area of sandy soil, set with short, coarse grass, a thousand times during the past two months while he had been at the ‘ground’ school. It was an aerodrorne, or, to be more precise, the aerodrome of No. 17 Flying Training School, which was situated near the village of Settling, in Norfolk. The great, darkly looming buildings were the hangars that housed the extraordinary collection of hastily built aeroplanes which at this period of the first Great War were used to teach pupils the art of flying.

A faint smell was borne to his nostrils, a curious aroma that brought a slight flush to his cheeks. It was one cornmon to all aerodrornes, a mingling of petrol, oil, dope, and burnt gases, and which, once experienced, was never forgotten. Figures, all carrying flying-kit, began to emerge from other huts and hurry towards the hangars, where strange looking vehicles were now being wheeled out on to a strip of concrete that shone whitely along the front of the hangars for their entire length. After a last appraising glance around, the new officer set off at a brisk pace in their direction......................


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