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[RAF Elsham Wolds] [Resources] [Sources and Books]

Sources and Books Page. D Fell at Bretteville sur Laize 2014

Information and photos for all my work on the 103 Squadron, 576 Squadron and RAF Elsham Wolds Airfield web sites have been drawn from a very long list of sources..

I have been researching all these subjects since the early 80s and have met and communicated with a huge number of veterans, families, authors and other researchers in that time, far too many to count but it must be around a 1000. Sadly the vets are all gone now and that source has dwindled to nothing.

In the early days I submitted items to newsletters, magazines and newspapers which brought a good flow of info and photos. The Bomber Command Association helped me a lot in the 80s and into the 90s

In 1997 I had my first web site with Kevin Audsley who set up the site and this was a great step forward. For 5 or 6 years this enabled me to make many more good contacts world wide. As I became more experienced with the technology I started to produce my own web sites and have been active with websites ever since. I have an unbroken 20 year plus web presence.

The Official Archive sources like the National Archives at Kew, the RAF Museum and the Imperial War Museum have been a good source of documents and photos and I have visited those quite often over the years although not in the last 15 years. Much of it can be ordered on line now anyway and I know several people who are regular visitors who will look things up for me if required. Also the Archives of Canada and Australia are very helpful. The Belgian War Museum were extremely so in researching the four 103 Belgian aircrew. Also the Auckland War Museum and Australian War Memorial and a few more which I have used over the years.

I have submitted a lot of material to the IBCC at Lincoln for their archives but have not used their resources at the time of writing

I acquired the Operational Record Books of 103 and 576 on microfilm in the late 80s. 15 mm. At that time I had my own microfilm viewer. I am all digital now. From these a produced my own databases which was a very big job but has certainly been worth the effort and they are still being updated quite frequently. I also have digital copies of the 166 ORB and 1 Group ORB

Of the on line resources the Commonwealth War Graves site is very useful and also the London Gazette. Also the Daily Telegraph obituaries on occasions, the 103 Sqn WW1 site and Bart FM Droog€’s  RAF Battle of France site. Several others I have referred to from time to time. Several others I have referred to from time to time. I have also found the Air Safety Network website very useful.

The various books I have used over the years are listed below. There will be some I have missed but those are the main ones. If I recall any more I will add them to the list.

I have also used Google and Duckduckgo maps and Google street views quite regularly. I do take my own photos as much as possible but due to health and mobility issues I am restricted as to how far I can travel. Also I did not travel very far during the covid outbreak anyway.

Lastly and very importantly is the amount of new material, info and photos kindly sent to me by contacts and collaborators - old and new. This input is a considerable help for which I am always most grateful.

RAF Elsham Wolds Books

A notable book concerning RAF Elsham Wolds entitled An Erk’s Eye View of WW2  was written by the late Ted Mawdsley’s who served at RAF Elsham Wolds as ground crew. Mr Mawdsley produced an excellent insight into his life in the airfield which is very well written as one would expect from a gentleman of his calibre. It is still available on Amazon

Also Bomber Intelligence by Bill Jones who started his RAF life as an Intelligence Officer at Elsham Wolds. That is another good read. Hard to find now but seems to be still available on Amazon

576 Squadron Books of Interest

I have never been able to find anything that specifically relates to 576 Sqn. At least 2 have been published privately but are not generally available. There are two that are available that cover 576 Sqn in part. A rather interesting book by Reuben Ainsztein is available. It describes his wartime experiences and escape to England where he joined the RAF and served with 576 Sqn as an Air Gunner in late 44 early 45. Also one recently published book by Ken Trent who spent the first part of his tour with 576 Sqn has recently been published.

In due course it is possible a 576 Squadron Profile will be available similar to the 103 Squadron Profile mentioned below.

In Lands Not My Own: A Wartime Journey

Written by Reuben Ainsztein this is a fascinating account of his life and experiences as a Jew in Poland and Belgium, his escape to England and service with 576 Sqn as an Air Gunner. Available on Amazon

Bomb Doors Open.

Written by Ken Trent this book describes his wartime experiences, enlistment in the RAF and operational experiences with 576 Sqn and 617 Sqn. Available on Amazon

103 Squadron Books of interest.

Don Charlwood - Burgewood Books Publications.

No Moon Tonight:

2006 was the 50th anniversary of the publication of No Moon Tonight — Don Charlwood’s first book. In print continuously for those 50 years, it has received many accolades for its deeply personal and perceptive account of the Bomber Command experience during WWII. Charlwood was the navigator in a mixed English–Australian crew based at Elsham Wolds in England, at a time of very heavy losses. His account of the period and of the men of 103 Squadron, has been described as an elegy to the men of Bomber Command. Journalist Di Dempsey in the Brisbane Courier Mail included No Moon Tonight in her list of Five Great Australian War Books, and described it as one of Australia’s most moving war memoirs. It is published in England, and also available through Burgewood Books in Australia.

Journeys into Night:

This, the second book of the author's autobiography, was originally published in 1991 and is now published by Burgewood Books. It covers the years 1939 to 1945 — years of WWII. The author's Bomber Command experiences and those of the 19 men with whom he trained, are related in such detail that this book is much more than a memoir. Journeys into Night is notable for the clarity and power of its writing. Don Charlwood's wartime experiences -- travelling overseas, training, the tedium and terror of ops -- are recreated in vivid and moving detail. (Professor Elizabeth Webby). Journeys into Night won the Fellowship of Australian Writers (Vic) Christina Stead Award in 1991 and was the winner of the Fellowship of Australian Writers (Vic) Herb Thomas Award for biography, autobiography or memoir, also in 1991.

 Back Bearings - A Navigators Tale 1942 to 1974.

Eric Cropper’s RAF career started in 1943 and ended in 1968. It covered a period when the navigation of aircraft changed from astro, dead reckoning and drift bearings all plotted by pencil on charts, to press-button radio and satellite information that can instantly pinpoint a position anywhere on the planet to within 5 metres. The then vital skills of a good navigator are now mostly redundant. Ships, aircraft, trucks and cars seldom use maps let alone carry a navigator. This autobiography by one of the RAF’s top exponents of both the ancient and modern forms of the art explains in considerable detail how this rapid and revolutionary improvement occurred in the air. 
This is a fascinating memoir of one of the RAF’s senior navigational experts that explains both service life and the revolution in navigational techniques that took place during his service career.

Other prominent Elsham Wolds, 103 Sqdn related publications

Black Swan - Sid Finn. A history of 103 Sq. Long out of print but may be available on the second hand book market. Includes some interesting background and photographs but is ruined by mistakes. Not proof read/checked adequately or indexed.

Just A Survivor - Phil Potts. Woodfield Publications. Excellent account by a former 103 Sq. navigator and POW.

An Erk’s Eye View of World War 2 - Ted Mawdsley. Woodfield Publications. Absorbing story of life in the RAF from a former Instrument Mechanic at Elsham Wolds.

Evader - Denys Teare. Burford Books Inc. Extraordinary and gripping story of a former 103 Sq. Air Bomber on the run in Occupied France in WW2.

Only Birds and Fools - Norman Ashton. Crowood Press. A former 103 Sq. Flight Engineer writes with humour and sensitivity about his wartime experiences.

A Member of the RAF of Indeterminate Race - Cy Grant. Woodfield Publications. Cy, a West Indian originally from British Guiana, travelled to England to join the RAF in 1941 and, after undergoing flying training and qualifying as a navigator, was posted in 1943 to No.103 Squadron, based at RAF Elsham Wolds. He was shot down and taken prisoner. The book relates the war and life as a POW from his own personal and unusual perspective. Cy’s memories of his eventful RAF years are narrated with modesty, charm  and good humour and make for compelling and educational reading.

Shot Down – John Curnow. Pacific Press Publishing Assn. 103 Navigator 1942/43 POW and Escaper.

Flak and Ferrets – Walter Morison. Sentinel Publishing. 103 Pilot 1942 and POW and Escaper.

The Lives and Ken Wallis – Ian Hancock . Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum. 103 Pilot 41/42. A most interesting book about a fascinating man.

Corkscrew to Safety - Thomas Quinlan. Woodfield Publishing. 103 Rear gunner. 1944/45.

No Flying without Wings - Colin Bayliss. 103 pilot 1942 and POW

If the Flak Doesn’t get you the Fighters Will - Brian Stoker. Newton. 103 Navigator. 1943

The Dancin’ Navigator - Jack Harding. Astertisk Communications. 103 Navigator 1943

Birbeck’s War - Jack Birbeck. Welland Print Ltd. 103 Air Bomber 1943 and POW.

Have No Fear BG Is Here - B G MacDonald. Published by B G MacDonald. 103 Air Gunner 1944.

The Lives of Ken Wallis - Ian Hancock

A Selection of other books that give good general background to the history of Bomber Command in WW2.

Bomber Intelligence - Bill Jones. William Kimber. Intelligence Officer at Elsham Wolds Kirmington and Hemswell.

High Endeavour- The life and times of Sir Ronald Ivelaw-Chapman.by John Ivelaw-Chapman. For a short time RI-C was OC 13 Base. He was shot down in May 44 and became a POW till the end of the war.

A Shaky Do - The Skoda Works Raid 16/17 April 1943 by Peter W.Cunliffe.

Battle Under the Moon - Jack Currie Air Data Publications.

Massacre Over the Marne - Oliver Clutton Brock. Partick Stephens Ltd

Footprints in the Sands of Time - Oliver Clutton Brock. Grub Street Publications.

Evader - Oliver Clutton Brock. Grub Street Publications.

The Long Road: Trials and Tribulations of Airmen Prisoners from Stalag Luft VII (Bankau) to Berlin, June 1944-May 1945 - by Oliver Clutton-Brock, Raymond Crompton

By Day and by Night: Bomber War in Europe, 1939-45 - Ken Merrick. Ian Allan Publishing

RAF Bomber Command Losses - All 8 Volumes - Bill Chorley. Midland Publishing.

The Bomber Command Handbook 1939-1945 - Jonathan Falconer. Sutton Publishing.

Selected For Aircrew - James Hampton. Air Research Publications.

The Bomber Command War Diaries - Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt. Midland Publishing.

The Nuremberg Raid - Martin Middlebrook. Cassell Military Paperbacks.

The Peenemunde Raid - Martin Middlebrook. Cassell Military Paperbacks.

The Berlin Raids - Martin Middlebrook. Cassell Military Paperbacks.

The Battle of Hamburg - Martin Middlebrook. Cassell Military Paperbacks.

A Shaky Do - The Skoda Works Raid 16/17 April 1943 by Peter W.Cunliffe.

Battle Under the Moon - Jack Currie Air Data Publications.

Battle Under the Moon - Jack Currie Air Data Publications.

Massacre Over the Marne - Oliver Clutton Brock. Partick Stephens Ltd

By Day and by Night: Bomber War in Europe, 1939-45 - Ken Merrick. Ian Allan Publishing

RAF Bomber Command Losses - All 8 Volumes - Bill Chorley. Midland Publishing.

The Bomber Command Handbook 1939-1945 - Jonathan Falconer. Sutton Publishing.

Selected For Aircrew - James Hampton. Air Research Publications.

Fuel, Fire and Fear - Colin Pateman

Nachtjagd Combat Archives - Theo Boiten

Plus several books by Alan Cooper, Sean Feast and Norman Franks

Also several Ian Allen and Osprey books which have provided some good background info on occasions.

For Local Airfield information

 Action Stations - Wartime Military Airfields in Lincolnshire and the East Midlands - Bruce Barrymore Halpenny. For the background info to some of these items. This book was published in 1991 and is an excellent source as all all the volumes in the Action Stations series. All the Action Stations books which have been most useful.

Also Action Stations - Wartime Military Airfields in Yorkshires - Bruce Barrymore Halpenny

Other books of local interest I have used are :-

East Yorkshire Airfields - G Simmons

Flames in the Night - Mike Hodgson

Flying Through Fire - G Williams

Goxhill at War - Dixon and Parker

The Blackburn Aircraft Company - Malcolm Hall

Airfield Focus 12 North Coates - Bill Taylor

Aircraft Made In Lincoln -  Walls and Parker.

Robey Aircraft Production - Walls

Plus quite a few other publications I use or have used which I will add in due course.

David W Fell


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Bomber Command interest are the

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