Discussion in 'Books and Films' started by Kyt, Jun 12, 2008.
Basic intro website to the book
Oooh, 105 Sqn. I'll see if there's any reference in Stuart Scott's Battle-Axe Blenheims.
Running through the website, it's quite possible he was with 105 in the Med as it appears he was with 82 when attacking across the Channel.
I've seen the website and it looks like a good book to read.
Okay, have some time to reference Frank Harbord in Battle-Axe Blenheims:
Page 91, July 10, 1941:
...F/L George Goode DFC, now recovered from his last operation on 1 May*, was promoted to acting squadron leader, and took charge of the lfight once again. He appeared with a new crew, Sgt Frank Harbord (O), and P/O Eric Applebee DFM (Wop/AG - 44982). They were eased back into operations during the next task which lay ahead.
*The May 1 action refers to Goode's part in the attack on oil storage tanks at Vlaardingen, just west of Rotterdam. A shell burst under the nose but a good run up and drop was made. Five '109s engaged, the gunner wounded and his turret damaged to the point of having to be turned by hand. Port engine pouring oil and prop fell off but Goode brought the aircraft back over the North Sea. Crossing the English coast, the starboard prop fell off but Goode managed a safe landing in field! Goode was injured in one hand, his observer, P/O Sam Hogan in the ankle and Sgt Geoffrey Rowland in his trigger finger! The officers received the DFC and the Sgt, the DFM. There's also a pic of the officers talking to HRH Princess Mary while convalescing.
Back to Harbord:
Page 117, late July sees 105 heading to Malta and our hero is quoted regarding the raids on the island:
At night the Italian bombers would come over, and as long as they did not come near to overhead, we would go and watch the flak and sometimes an exchange of tracer with the night fighters.
Page 122, swimming to escape the heat of Malta:
When we were not required at Luqa, we used to sunbathe on the slipway at Marsaxlokk, although we were always on call. We would swim in the creek where a Sunderland had been shot up and sunk by the Germans. It could be clearly seen through the water (anyone know of this one?). While we were there an attempt was made to move it: hawsers were fixed to it and powerful tractors pulled them, but they only succeeded in pulling bits off. Wlaruses would alight on the water in the creek, and as they approached, they would extend their wheels and taxi up the slipway to tha hangar.
Prior to the arrival of 105 Sqn, 110 Sqn had been operating Blenheims on Malta for 2 Group, and had taken a typical mauling throughout the duration of their stay. One of their number left a poignant reminder of this, and what lay in stor for the 'new boys'. Frank Harbord remembers: 'They left a notice over the ops room door for our benefit; it read, "Welcome to 105 - and how!". After a week or two on Malta we realized the depth of the feelings that made them put up the notice.'
Page 146, attack on nitrates factory in town of Crotone, south of Taranto on August 11, 1941:
Navigation by the other three aircraft proved more accurate, but for one crew in particular, the sortie was to prove traumatic*. The leader was S/L George Goode DFC, one of the longest-serving flight commanders in the squadron. HIs observer, Sgt Nichols, was standing in for Sgt Frank Harbord who had fallen victim to Sandfly fever and was laid up in the military hospital. As usual, the WOp/AG was P/O Eric Applebee DFM, a well-respected member of the squadron.
*Goode's crew was shot down and captured by the Italians. They ultimately, after the Italian capitulation, ended up at Stalag Luft III and were involved with the Wooden Horse escape. So, our hero had a lucky escape there and remained on ops.
Page 162, August 27, sweep of Ionian Sea:
...five crews were led out by both flight commanders. S/L Smithers' formation consisted of S/L Barnes and F/O C. Greenhill, both of 107 Sqn, and Sgt J Bruce and Sgt LT Weston of 105 Sqn.
The pressure on the Italian convoys off Tunisia was beginning to tell, to such an extent that the Italians started to send more and more cargo to the east, away from the suicidal shipping lanes west of Malta.
This sweep was to be a long, hot, boring journey...
An hour or so into the flight, S/L Smithers began to feel ill; he was suffering from the stroboscopic reflections of the bright sunshine off the waves. Clearly, he could not continue at less than 50ft to the target...His observer, Sgt Frank Harbord, set a course for home as S/L Smithers handed command...to S/L Barnes...The aircraft peeled away in a climbing turn from the formation and set off to the west at about 100ft. After half an hour...the pilot began to recover...having suitably recovered, S/L Smithers decided his bombs should be used and not returned for the next sortie; there was a job to be done and he was determined he was going to do it.
The nearest location likely to have a suitable target was the island of Lampedusa...They flew low and fast over the north shore...heading for Lampedusa Harbour where a 5,000-ton merchant vessel and four schooners were found to be waiting for them...intense machine-gun fire erupted...[they] had been noticed and the defences alerted...a barrage of accurate anti-aircraft fire met the crew on their run-in towards the ship, one burst of machine-gun fire scything through the port wing. The pilot dropped the bombs but...they landed short on the land. He struggled at the controls until suddenly, only 50 or 100 yards from the harbour, a shell exploded close beneath...A piece of red hgot shell splinter scythed its way through the thin metal nose...and embedded itself in Sgt Frank Harbord's thigh...By the grace of God and good flying skills, the crerw survived and set course for Malta.
Frank Harbord remembers the incident:
We were surprised at the quantity and quality of the ack-ack fire; 20mm cannons and machine-guns. We made off straight back to Luqa. S/L Smithers knew the hydraulics had gone, perhaps because there was no poer to the gun turret. We jettisone the forward escape hatch into the sea just before crossing the coast and landed straight away on the rough earth parallel to and about 50 yards to the side of the runway, routine procedure at the time [keep the strip clear]. The ambulance took me to sick quarters, where I had a bath and the MO prodded about to remove a bit of shrapnel from ym thigh. The small wound made a lot of blood. I stayed there a few hours and I presume S/L Smithers and our WOP/AG [Sgt Bob Lyndall] went to report to ops.
Lampedusa, where even the lighthouse-keeper was armed with machine guns! Hits in bomb bay (bombs gone!) hydralics u/s, Frankie Harbord wounded, no turret, no undercarriage, controls damaged and locked in +9 lbs boost. Returned over the Mediterranenan with the bottom hatch open, dinghy at ready and parachutes on. Approached Luqa for belly landing - too fast and went up again. Debate as to whether one could throttle back in +9 lbs boost withouth cutting the engines. Decide to risk it - successfully!
September 12, 1941, attack on a large convoy of five merchants and seven destroyers between Pantellaria and Lampedusa. The Blenheims of 105 worked in conjunction with FAA Swordfish and 38 Sqn Wimpeys. 105 sent out eight crews, lost three (one crew rescued by RN submarine) and heavily hit three of the merchants. Frank Harbord witnessed two of the crews go in:
That day we also lost S/L Charney. I remember a glimpes of his aircraft on fire and cartwheeling into the sea.
Sgt "Bill" Brandwood hit a troopship but was heavily damaged in return. This crew crashed into the sea after formating with S/L Smithers' aircraft on which our hero was the observer.
At 1425 hours Sgt Frank Harbord...watched as Sgt Brandwood's machine turned away, the fire still raging in the bomb-bay. Apparently out of control it plunged into the sea nose first. In Frank Harbord's words: 'It was while forming up was going on that Sgt Brandwood came up on our right as I remember for a minute or two, when he suddenly turned away from us at right angles and fell into the sea.'
Brandwood's crew survived and were rescued by submarine.
Last one, page 185, with W/C Hughie Edwards reluctantly leaving for a publicity tour of the US, CO of the recently departed 110 Sqn, W/C Donald William Scivier AFC, took over. He sent three on bombing practice to nearby Filfla Island. S/L Bryan Smithers took the lead...followed by Sgt Tommy Williams...and [wait for it!!!!] Sgt Ivor Broom.
The log entries of Smithers' observer, Sgt Frank Harbord,...confirm that the bombing lasted for twenty minutes.
Oct 27, 1941 saw the remaining crews of 105 return home courtesy of the RN.
Separate names with a comma.