Now that the UK is losing the Data Protection that its citizens and residents have enjoyed while being within a European jurisdiction, Greedy Google has snapped up the opportunity to transfer its users to US jurisdictions. In preparation for exiting Google, as a mark of my dire disapproval of this grab, this morning I revisited the DuckDuckGo search engine, and tested it by repeating some of the searches that I have recently made using Google. I was impressed by the relevance of the search results with the advantage of no promoted results (i.e. adverts) heading the search results. The very first search result took me to a page I had not come across before. For that reason, I recommend that you repeat searches using other search engines.
If you are the relative of one of the aircrew based at Foggia, or a military historian unfamiliar with the South African role in the Relief of Warsaw and the dropping of supplies to Italian partisans, you might find this list a starting point for further information. Remember to check out footnotes, acknowledgements, bibliographies and source lists. Some of those will be useful to you, and cut some corners, though you may well find yourself adding to your research load as you explore them!
Bowman, M[artin] W., Bombers Fly East: WWII RAF Operations in the Middle and Far East, Barnsley, 2016.
Orpen, N., Airlift to Warsaw: The Rising of 1944, Slough, 1984.
South African Air Force Museum, ‘The SAAF] and the Warsaw Flights’, https://saafmuseum.org.za/398/, accessed 21/2/2020.
This web page consists of an article published in 2008 by Anne Lehmkuhl and updated in 2019 by Cameron Kirk Kinnear. It lists all the aircrew involved in the Warsaw flights, listing those who lost their lives and also those who survived.
South African Military History Society, ‘The Warsaw Airlift: a triumph of South African bravery’, Vol.13, No.1, June 2004, http://samilitaryhistory.org/vol131pm.html, accessed 11/2/2020.
Suggestions for further research
1. Finding out ‘what happened’
Research is often difficult if you’re not based in South Africa and unable to make use of SADF research facilities. If you’re become stuck in your research into a particular person, search for other members of the aircrew on the fatal flight. You may find that another researcher, interested in someone else on the plane has put information online about the incident. Remember also that the Liberators usually had a crew of eight, mostly from the South African Air Force, but including one or two crew from other Commonwealth Air Forces. When I began researching KH-152 some years ago, I found that, of the five who died, three were SAAF, one was RAF and one RAFVR. There was an Ipswich man on KH-152, and the Ipswich War Memorial website had information about his fate, enabling me to put together an account of the final flight.
Ipswich War Memorial, ‘Geoffrey Frederick Ellis’, https://www.ipswichwarmemorial.co.uk/geoffrey-frederick-ellis/, accessed 11/2/2020. The Ipswich researchers credit extra information and photographs on Geoffrey Ellis’s page, by courtesy of Dòminik Koscielny, with additional help from John Allan.
If you don’t know who else was on that particular flight, search the CWGC database by date of death and the country concerned i.e. the country over which the aircraft was shot down or crashed.If there’s something that puzzles you, search the online military forums. There is a, for example, a Luftwaffe and Allied Forces Discussion Forum. The link below consists of a thread about the German pilot, who is thought to have been responsible for the loss of KH-152.
Luftwaffe and Allied Forces Discussion Forum, ‘Ofw. Maisch’, http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/archive/index.php?t-3137.html, accessed 30/12/2019.
The website Air Crew Remembered is an example of material that is available online. My new favourite, DuckDuckGo, however, flags the site up as insecure. When I discovered the wreath laid for KH-158, I found the web page set up, and impeccably researched, by Anne Storm, the daughter of F/O Thomas Roberts Millar RAAF.
Storm, A.E., ’31 Squadron SAAF KH158′, http://www.aircrewremembered.com/urry-selwyn.html, accessed 21/2/2020.
2. Diaries, Letters,
The Diary of Lieutenant Charles Searle Stuart Franklin, SAAF has been uploaded to the Facebook Group 34 and 31 Squadrons SAAF through the generosity of his son, Jonathan Franklin. I wanted to know when, and how, these pilots had reached Italy, and this diary covered their time in training on the Liberators in the Middle East. I wondered about the effects on morale of these long flights, with relentless regularity, and whether and how they were able to cope with the challenges. It was quite overwhelming, comprehending in even a small way, at a distance of 75 years, the sheer exhaustion, the stress and the mental state of the surviving airmen as crew after crew failed to return. When I first read the diary, I was thinking of the period up to mid October in terms of the fatigue and stress of the crew of KH-152, whom I was then researching. It was only when my curiosity extended to the crew of the second aircraft (EW250/L) lost on 16/17 October, that I realised that Charles Franklin had been its pilot on that flight. The mission of both aircraft was to drop supplies at Radomosko; neither plane returned to Foggia. Be prepared for pangs.
3. Interviews and Oral History Recordings
Check out also for videos, recordings and tributes:
South African Air Force Heritage Site WW2, https://biltongbru.wixsite.com/ww2-saaf-heritage, accessed 21/2/2020.
There was a second Liberator (EW250) that was lost on 16 October, with only one survivor: Sgt Ronald Pither, RAFVR. He made some recordings, omitting the names of the Polish people who helped him, in order to protect the identity of those who had helped him. If you listen to the recordings, please read the message from his family, so you will understand what was omitted and that these were private memories, intended for his family.
Memories Pither, http://www.liberatorew250.com.pl/szkolenia/historia-srzanta-pithera/memories-pitcher.html, accessed 22/2/2020.