Aviation History and Nostalgia Whether working in aviation, retired, wannabee or just plain fascinated this forum welcomes all with a love of flight.

BOAC Mosquitoes

Old 4th Aug 2009, 10:25
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Abergavenny
Posts: 12
BOAC Mosquitoes

Ladies and gentlemen.

I seek information about the BOAC operations to Sweden using Mosquitoes.

My father, now long dead, was assigned to the rather innocuous Pay Corps as a Private, when he joined up in 1939. He finished up doing some rather odd things, in some rather odd Units, as the war progressed. He had a fund of very tall stories about happenings in Northern Europe towards the end of the war. I confess that during his life I treated his tales with a measure of scepticism. He claimed, for instance, that he had seen a V1 missile fitted with a cockpit; clearly nonsense, until I read that such things existed, and found a photograph of such a machine in his possessions after he died. He also claimed to have been strafed by a jet aircraft; also clearly nonsense, until I read that a few Me 262s had been equipped for ground attack.

Finally and this is the point of my message he claimed to have flown in the bomb-bay of a Mosquito, carrying a box containing something precious. Again, clearly nonsense, until one reads of the Leuchars Stockholm service; so he may have been telling the truth. His description of the flight experience, complete with oxygen mask, certainly rings true. However, to the best of my knowledge, he was never stationed in Scotland, and operated from 1944 to early 1946 in Belgium, Holland, and Northern Germany.

Could he have made such a flight? Once the Allied invasion had become established, was a Mosquito service established across the Baltic from Northern Germany?

Thanks,
Yarnsplicer
yarnsplicer is offline  
Old 4th Aug 2009, 12:14
  #2 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: down south
Age: 73
Posts: 13,229
Hello yarnsplicer.

A book by Gann mentions a number of pilots.

He mentions BOAC Captain John Henry White who in January of 44 flew from Stockholm to Scotland, then back to Stockholm and again back to Scotland for a total of 9 hours, 36 minutes flying time with only 45 minutes on the ground, making three crossings through enemy skies, all at night and all by hand flying on instruments.

He also details a flight by F/O Gilbert Rae in a Mark VI who with his Radio Op named Payne, was flying a passenger in the bomb bay. They were jumped by FW 190s and he is able to outrun them and escape to Scotland. There is comment about the lack of exhaust shrouds gives him extra MPH that probably saved him.

Try here:

www.abebooks.com

LM
Lightning Mate is offline  
Old 4th Aug 2009, 12:42
  #3 (permalink)  
Just another number
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: UK
Age: 72
Posts: 1,078
The Mosquitoes were operated by BOAC on the "Ball-bearing run" from Stockholm and Satenas in Sweden to Leuchars in Scotland. The ball-bearings, vital to the war effort were carried directly over enemy territory as the Mossie could outrun the German fighters.

Thirteen Mosquitoes were operated by BOAC, of which five crashed (not due to enemy action). They were HJ898, HJ985 and LR524 (not given civilian registrations, as well as G-AGFV, G-AGGC, G-AGGD, G-AGGE, G-AGGF, G-AGGG, G-AGGH, G-AGKO, G-AGKP and G-AGKR.

GD, GF, GG and KP crashed on landing or approach. KR went missing over the North Sea in August 1944.

Dave

Last edited by Captain Airclues; 4th Aug 2009 at 12:58. Reason: spelling
Captain Airclues is offline  
Old 4th Aug 2009, 12:50
  #4 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Chester UK
Age: 80
Posts: 930
The Ernest Gann book is Ernest K Ganns Flying Circus 1976 Isbn 0340206934 which has a chapter entitiled The Ball Bearing Airline. Also worth looking for is "Merchant Airmen" the offical WW2 civil aviation history 1946 which has a chapter on these operations including the picture of the accommodation shown here...........


one11 is offline  
Old 4th Aug 2009, 13:20
  #5 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 415
The atomic physicist Niels Bohr was extracted from neutral Sweden, after escaping from occupied Denmark, via this method in 1943. The story goes (from Wikipedia):

Passengers on BOAC's Mosquitos were carried in an improvised cabin in the bomb bay. The flight almost ended in tragedy as Bohr did not don his oxygen equipment as instructed, and passed out at high altitude. He would have died had not the pilot, surmising from Bohr's lack of response to intercom communication that he had lost consciousness, descended to a lower altitude for the remainder of the flight. Bohr's comment was that he had slept like a baby for the entire flight.
DaveW is offline  
Old 4th Aug 2009, 14:15
  #6 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 80
They were HJ898, HJ985 and LR524 (not given civilian registrations
I thought that the Mossies had to fly with civvie registrations and be identified as BOAC rather than RAF flights due to Sweden's strict neutrality during WW2. I think they were unarmed for the same reason. How did they get away with the RAF serials on those three or did they fly somewhere other than Sweden?
Panop is offline  
Old 4th Aug 2009, 14:28
  #7 (permalink)  
Just another number
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: UK
Age: 72
Posts: 1,078
Panop

Those three were Mosquito T Mk 111's, the training version, with dual controls. They did not fly on operations but were only used for training.

Dave

PS. HJ985 was used Nov 1943 to Jan 1944, LR524 was used Feb 1944 to Dec 1944 and HJ898 was used April 1945 to May 1945.

Last edited by Captain Airclues; 4th Aug 2009 at 14:35. Reason: To add dates
Captain Airclues is offline  
Old 4th Aug 2009, 15:37
  #8 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Chester UK
Age: 80
Posts: 930
Another reference says that the Mosquito service was terminated on November 30 1944 as it was considered safe to use DC-3s during the extended winter nights.
one11 is offline  
Old 4th Aug 2009, 15:57
  #9 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: glasgow
Posts: 304
Panop,
There were apparently some RAF Mosquito courier flights previous to the BOAC ones.
"Mosquito" by Sharp and Bowyer mentions DK292 in August 1942.All markings were removed and they crew wore civvies.
renfrew is online now  
Old 4th Aug 2009, 16:20
  #10 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: London UK
Posts: 6,430
There are several accounts around of the "ball-bearing" Mosquito runs from Leuchars. They took cash eastbound (only this was acceptable, presume US dollars) and brought the bearings westbound from the factory. This achieved two things. Firstly it made them available to UK manufacturers. Secondly, and probably more important, it deprived the Nazis of getting them for their own production.

I wonder why they had to take a passenger with them ? Could the aircrew not hand over the cash and do the paperwork ? Does this cash handling fit with what the Pay Corps did ? Concerned the crew would abandon the aircraft and make off with the money in neutral territory ?
WHBM is offline  
Old 4th Aug 2009, 16:40
  #11 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: glasgow
Posts: 304
BOAC used almost every type in their fleet on this route,Lockheed 14,Hudson,Whitley,CW-20,Dakota,York and Liberator.
It is almost tragic that a complete history of BOAC wartime operations was never written.
renfrew is online now  
Old 4th Aug 2009, 20:16
  #12 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Abergavenny
Posts: 12
Thank you all. It's tragic that this little episode of the war has not been properly recognised. For me. it's even more of a regret, because it seems that no-one knows if there was an operation over the Baltic from Germany in 1945. A special thank you to One11 for the picture; this fits exactly with what my father described - I can FEEL the trapped little space. It was the only flight he ever made, in all his life. He said that, in turbulence, the movement of the aeroplane was such that he could see the water below, as the bomb bay doors flexed. Lost memories.
yarnsplicer is offline  
Old 5th Aug 2009, 15:58
  #13 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 80
yarnsplicer - thanks for bringing this subject up. I hope someone's memory is eventually jogged about Germany as it certainly seems very possible that your father was telling it exactly how it was. You are not alone in leaving it too late to find out more about the stories that were handed down to you - there are so many (less exciting but still interesting to me) things I wish I had asked my father more about and we will be in good company there, I'm sure.

On a technical note - does anyone know roughly what quantity of ball bearings they were able to carry in a Mossie? I know they're small things individually but I would have imagined the British war effort would have needed some fairly serious amounts of them. Where/how did the Americans get theirs?

If the Americans had their own domestic supply, which presumably would have also been available to the UK, then it was definitely an issue of depriving the Germans of having them rather than British need as such.

In the (almost unthinkable) event of a repeat performance in this modern globalised world of ours this sort of issue would probably bring most countries to their knees quicker than actual hostilities as so much essential production and know how is now centralised in isolated specialist centres in much the way as the Swedes had the near monopoly on European ball bearings back then.
Panop is offline  
Old 5th Aug 2009, 19:32
  #14 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Chester UK
Age: 80
Posts: 930
It was the only flight he ever made, in all his life
Assuming this did not mean a return flight it begs the question of how your father got back and maybe supports the idea that the flight was from other than Leuchars.
one11 is offline  
Old 5th Aug 2009, 21:48
  #15 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Abergavenny
Posts: 12
Panop
Thank you for your kind and human remarks. Regrets when the previous generation passes away before we, young and superior, have deigned to listen to them.....affects us all, I guess.

One11
I suppose my account was less than rigorous. I never challenged him about a round trip, but the "feel" was always that it was a trip across the Baltic and back. He said that he carried a box of money, by the way.
yarnsplicer is offline  
Old 6th Aug 2009, 08:03
  #16 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: London UK
Posts: 6,430
Originally Posted by Panop View Post
I know they're small things individually but I would have imagined the British war effort would have needed some fairly serious amounts of them. Where/how did the Americans get theirs?
There are some substantial bearing manufacturers in the USA, of course, of which the Timken Corp from Ohio was probably the market leader at the time. Likewise in Britain, and presumably Germany. The point about SKF in Sweden is that they were one of the largest manufacturers but with a very limited home market, so unlike the others they worked mostly for export. Thus they had a substantial capacity which the sudden wartime demands formed a ready market for.
WHBM is offline  
Old 6th Aug 2009, 11:12
  #17 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Wiltshire
Age: 79
Posts: 184
BOAC Mosquitos

They flew from UK to Sweden, in camo with civil registrations and the odd 'speedbird' on the tail - now and again, when required they flew couriers and agents on the outward track and returned with ball bearings and any other small cargo needed, or agents. This is not personal knowledge but arises from an interest in this odd little operation that has been with me for over fifty years, the reference to exhaust stubbs is correct, in the later years they removed the exhaust stub baffles that hid the flames and gained another 16mph, which allowed them still to have the edge over the nightfighters. - This is a shot of one of the early ones (Rescued from a BOAC unit clear out! - in with a load of Imperial Airways junk!!).

Now - of course - as a totally new member, I find that I do not know how to attach the photo - would someone please be kind enough to tell me the method. Many Thanks.
Entaxei is offline  
Old 6th Aug 2009, 11:24
  #18 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: EGBJ -> ESSB
Posts: 64
Hmm as an ex-pat now living in Stockholm I feel the urge to go root around in the various archives here to see what I can find on these flights. BTW, wasn't one of the Ball Bearing Bombers actually on show at Hendon for a while?
HighTow is offline  
Old 6th Aug 2009, 11:36
  #19 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Abergavenny
Posts: 12
Try this for size. Probing further, I now see that the old man was stationed in Antwerp for a short time, and we all know what they do rather well in Antwerp.

Did the UK sometimes pay the Swedes for ball bearings with diamonds?
yarnsplicer is offline  
Old 6th Aug 2009, 11:45
  #20 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: UK
Posts: 137
As I also do not know how to paste photos onto the site I will just post this web site, which has a picture of BOAC Mossie G-AGFV

Image: BOAC Mosquito. MAP
Brit312 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.