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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?


A work in progress ............ Latest addition 3/4/2017 - I FLEW WITH BRADDOCK ( series 5)


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.

Where did they live?


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 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.


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?”

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



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






BRADDOCK AND THE RED DAGGERS - The Rover from 24th Oct 1959 for 14 issues

From The Rover 26th. Dec 1959 page 5/6

A Mosquito roared over the drome, flying low. It made a sharp turn, the wheels came down and it landed. With spray rising from the glistening runway, it sped towards the apron. It was a lovely bit of flying. “ Say, who’s the ace?” Clayton exclaimed. Braddock’s eyes twinkled. “You’ll see him in half-a-minute,” he chuckled...........

The inner door was pulled open, and the pilot started to back out of the plane. He was wearing baggy grey flannels and a pair of cycle clips prevented his trouser bottoms from flopping about. He wore a tweed jacket with bulging pockets. He had taken off his flying helmet and stuck on an old, disreputable, cloth cap. “ Hey, the guy is a civilian,” gasped Clayton. “ He belongs to the Air Transport Auxilary,” I explained. “ Both men and women are in it. They do the delivery jobs.” The pilot reached the ground and turned. He had a wrinkled face, a grey moustache and a pipe stuck in his teeth. He looked at Braddock and gave a sniff. “ So this is where you’re hanging out, is it ?” he said. “ Unk ” Simpson was the pilot’s name. The Americans looked staggered at the age and appearance of the man who had flown from England in bad weather conditions, found the drome without any trouble and landed the plane with a master
hand. Braddock reckoned that Unk - who, like himself, came from Walsall was one of the greatest pilots of all time.........

He struck a match to relight his pipe. A big American sergeant legged it towards him. “ Hey, put that pipe out,” he roared. “ Smoking isn’t allowed.” Unk puffed away. “ I don’t suppose it is,” he said, “but I didn’t make the rule so I don’t take much notice of it.” He turned his back on the perplexed and scowling sergeant and walked away with Braddock..........











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!













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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