Tony Rudd (Mosquito Nav.) Battle of Britain Blog.
Wed Apr 25, 2018 13:10

Some time ago in 2010 I corresponded for a while with a former wartime Navigator on Mosquitos. His story and that of his pilot is below. His name was Tony Rudd, who is also an author of Winged Victory, a book based upon his successful 2010 Battle of Britain Blog website who did an "On this Day in the Battle of Britain" post for every day of the Battle of Britain- 70 years on the the very same day, on a daily basis. I commented many times and gave good reviews for this and helped suggest a book be made, which was then done. Since then, and at the same time, I used to post On this Day type posts which is How I found out he was doing a similar thing. Tony Rudd is mentioned in this excellent account of flying a Mosquito in wartime, by his pilot, and also an account of baling out. Thanks To BBC Peoples War:Flight Lieutenant Reg Everson AE. KZ. AM..... October 1944 I was posted to No. 2 Group Support Unit at Swanton, Morley, Norfolkshire for a conversion course onto Mosquito aircraft. I flew Mosquito Mark 3 and Mosquito Mark 6 Fighter Bombers. I was “crewed-up” with a navigator, Sergeant Tony Rudd (ex University Air Squadron), and as we could “get along” with each other on the ground and in the air we agreed to fly together for our operational tour. On the course we concentrated on low level flying at day and night, air-to-ground and air-to-air gunnery, bombing, and “Gee Navigation” - a form of radar.

On the 10th December Exercise Peashooter, an army co-operation exercise against army tanks, was held. We were detailed to fly No. 2 to Squadron Leader Tennant. The exercise involved attacking tanks at low level with .303 machine guns. Unfortunately Squadron Leader Tennant flew so low that his aircraft hit a tank, burst into flames and he and his navigator were killed instantly. Observing this made us realise that flying too low can be a dangerous business! We reported the accident on the radio and the exercise was then cancelled. We had to give evidence at the enquiry and were offered the opportunity of taking a rest from flying; this we declined.

France 1945-We were posted to 305 (Polish) Squadron at Epinoy, France on 7th January 1945. The airfield was snow bound and we spent the first two weeks clearing the runways. Our first flight was an air test on 23rd January.

Let me tell you something of the type of operation (mission) that we were engaged on. 305 Squadron was part of 2nd Tactical Airforce and our main task was to bomb and disrupt enemy transports. Apart from one daylight operation all the other flights were at night. In the late afternoon or early evening we would be briefed by Wing Commander Grodzicki- giving details of patrol areas and enemy activity to be expected, bomb load carried and take off times. The Meteorological Officer would give details of the weather and possible diversions if the weather was bad on the return to base. The Intelligence Officer gave details of enemy troop and transport movements and the “bomb line.” This was the line between the enemy and the allied troops. No bombs were to be dropped or any attacks made on our side of the bomb line. Routes to the patrol areas were suggested to avoid major “flak” areas. After briefing Tony and I would plan our route and study a topographical map noting any high ground or major obstructions, and any known flak areas.

We would take off singly and fly at 4,000ft to an area behind enemy lines. Here we would patrol for about an hour when another Mosquito would take our place. During the patrol we would search out signs of any movements on the ground. Once we spotted something we would go down lower and investigate. If the movement proved to be a train, lorries, tanks or barges we would then attack from low level with 500lb bombs, .303 machine guns or cannons. This could sometimes be a bit “scary” as there was always a danger of going too low. Most of our losses were due to hitting the ground or obstructions such as trees or power lines, and sometimes the object being attacked. If my navigator thought we were too low he would shout "Up!" I never argued, but immediately pulled back the stick to gain height as quickly as possible.

9-10th January 1945: cloud-bombed a railway at Puderbach.

3rd February: flew a Mosquito NS 844; patrolled Puderbach, Siegburg, Betzdorf, and Hagar. Bombed an enemy transport

10th February: cloud-bombed a railway junction at Daun. 10/10ths cloud at base at 200ft above ground. We were offered a diversion, but declined as the Gee (radar system) was now not working. We made a “dodgy” approach and landing (all in one piece) while everyone held their breath.

22nd February: flew a Mosquito HR202 in a daylight operation called Clarion. We flew a formation of 18 Mosquitoes (I was Number 18, the most vulnerable). As we crossed the enemy lines at 4000ft, we were fired on from the ground. We broke formation and re-formed again as soon as possible. We patrolled Stadt, the River Elba, and the River Weger. We bombed railway trucks and encountered some flak, but avoided any damage to our aircraft. We left the area flying formation on W/O Smith, who flew over a German gun emplacement and was hit, crashing to the ground in flames. We decided that it might be safer to fly at about 4,000ft, which proved to be true although we did run into heavy anti-aircraft fire over Bremerhaven. We managed to avoid getting hit, and returned safely back to base in France.

One particularly memorable operation took place on the 8th April 1945. My aircraft was unserviceable so I flew a Mosquito Letter V “borrowed” from Flight Sergeant Earle who was on leave (he never ceases to remind me that I lost his brand new aircraft).

After briefing we took off to patrol Leipzig, Berlin, Magdeburg, and the Braunsweig area. Due to the distance from base and the length of time for the flight we had to carry wing tanks with extra fuel. On patrolling the Berlin-Magdeburg road we saw some movement. We circled round and dropped flares on what was an enemy transport. We attacked them with machine gun and cannon fire. The transport stopped and appeared damaged, but the flares went out before we could assess the full extent of the damage. Returning at economical cruising to save fuel and flying at 4,000ft at about 2.00am, we were attacked by a night fighter. It fired a long burst of cannon fire and I immediately took violent evasion action, however the port engine caught fire.

Tony (Rudd) operated the fire extinguisher and I “feathered” the propeller. A further bust of gunfire and the starboard engine caught fire. I throttled back and operated the fire extinguisher but as the fire did not go out I ordered Tony to bale out. He clipped on his parachute, jettisoned the door and successfully abandoned the aircraft. During this manoeuvre the aircraft was losing height rapidly. I struggled out of my seat, having some trouble getting my left leg passed the control column and pulling the seat pack of my parachute clear of the bucket seat, at the same time trying to keep the aircraft on an even keel. With some difficulty I reached the doorway and dived through the opening. I pulled the ripcord as soon as I was clear of the aircraft, the parachute opened and I hit the ground almost simultaneously.

I landed at the bottom of a valley and saw my plane crash a short distance away. I was very close to a road and could hear vehicles moving along it. I kept low and attempted to crawl away but before I had moved more than a few feet I heard voices calling, "Commen Sie heir". I ignored this and continued to crawl away. With much shouting and shining of torches, six or seven German soldiers circled my position and started firing revolvers at me. Realising that I could not escape I stood up and raised my hands. I was searched and cigarettes, matches, penknife and comb were taken away from me. A German officer placed me under guard and we marched until daybreak. I was then put in a barn under armed guard. Later that morning a German Officer arrived on a motorbike and tried to question me. Finding me uncooperative he rode off. Later that afternoon one of the guards said, "Your comrade kaput." Suspecting this was a trick to get me to talk, I ignored this remark.

At about 5.00pm I was taken to Gestapo Headquarters in Gummerbach where I was interrogated. Again the officer who spoke perfect English gave up and told me he had lived in Purley, England, and worked as an Insurance Agent. He chatted for a while, presumably hoping in vain for an unguarded comment from me. I was then taken to a Prisoner of War Camp, Stalag 6G, where they returned my comb- with escape compass in it! I was put in a wooden hut with a number of American airmen who had also been shot down.

After a few days we were roused one morning at 2.00am, given a mug of Ersatz coffee and marched away under armed guard. During the day we were in column along roads when we attracted the attention of American Lightning fighters, which attacked us from time to time obviously thinking that we were German troops on the move. Each time we were strafed we took cover in ditches beside the road. After each attack the German guards tried to check that no prisoners were missing. A few did disappear into the woods on scavenging expeditions, rejoining us later to the confusion of the guards. Eventually they gave up trying to count us and we arrived at a P.O.W. camp near Enbach. Here chaos reigned. The guards were inefficient and we did not help as we moved about while they tried to take a roll call. Food at this time was: Breakfast- Ersatz coffee; lunch- soup (water that vegetables had been cooked in, but no vegetables); supper- black bread and “margarine.”

As it became increasingly clear that the advancing American troops were getting near the camp, administration of the camp was gradually taken over by the prisoners. By the time the 78th Division American Infantry arrived at 14.00 hours on the 12th April, the German guards had already handed over their rifles and revolvers and we were in complete control. Fresh food arrived shortly afterwards; fried chicken and real coffee were much appreciated.

The next few days were spent in Medical Checks, delousing, and checking identities. When this was completed we were taken to Giesen by truck and then to Paris by Dakota aircraft. In Paris we were looked after by the American authorities who supplied us with clean clothes, cigarettes and an advance of pay. We were allowed to roam free in Paris when we were not being interrogated and “processed.” For a few days I managed to get “lost” among the Americans until the R.A.F. discovered my presence and I had to report back to my unit at Epinoy.

I reported back to Squadron on 19th April 1945. They were surprised to see me. Not many “missing crews” survived and returned. I had to report to Air Vice Marshall Sir Basil Embry and tell of my experiences. He then informed me that I had been Commissioned as Pilot Officer from the 7th April (the day before we were shot down). I had resisted taking a Commission up to now, preferring the less formal life in the Senior N.C.O.'s Mess, but pay and the extra comfort of the Officer's Mess persuaded me that the time was now right to accept the Commission.

When Tony Rudd arrived back he was able to provide some interesting details of our last flight. He was able to pinpoint the location and time of our being shot down. A US P51 (Black Widow) night fighter put in a combat report claiming to have shot down a JU88 at precisely the position and time of the incident. British Intelligence proved that there were no enemy aircraft in the vicinity at that time. Air Vice Marshall Sir Basil Embry was not happy that one of his aircraft had been shot down by “friendly fire.”

Tony Rudd and I went on leave and when we both got back we started flying together again. On 8th July 1945, together with all the other English Crews from 305 Squadron, Tony and I went to 107 Squadron. We moved up to Gutterloh, Germany, as part of the Occupation Forces, and continued flying together until our last flight on 21st September 1945. It was discovered that I had “double vision,” and I was then engaged on ground duties, as Technical Adjutant, until discharged on 14th June 1946. I remained in the R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve until 1962 and was awarded the Air Efficiency Award to go with the Polish Gold Cross of Merit (First Class) and the Polish Air Medal. (End)

I was honoured to talk with Tony Rudd online many times and also to meet another Mosquito Navigator in Barton Garden Centre, Near Preston, on a day when the coach, he and some other wartime RAF and WAAF vetereans were passing a Spitfire Replica there whilst on a coach going somewhere. I managed to find a stall selling books and found one on the Mosquitos with some of the raids he had been on over Berlin etc inside. He was delighted when I gave this to him to read on the coach and said I would write of him, which I did some years ago now.

Tony Rudd I did some reviews for and my comments are also on his site for Battle of Britain Blog by Tony Rudd from 2010.Tony had joined the RAF in 1941 when he was just 17 years old. After completing his Navigator training in Canada he found himself posted to the 2nd TAF (Tactical Air Force) training unit at RAF Swanton Morley. It was here that he was crewed with his pilot Reg Everson. The pair trained to provide Air Cover to Ground Troops, a role very similar to one of the many carried out today by the Tornado GR4’s when they deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Herrick.

Once fully trained they were posted to 305 Polish Squadron ‘B’ Flight to fly the Mosquito 6 Aircraft. They would fly their missions mainly at night patrolling the skies at 1,500 – 2,000ft. Just a month before the end of WWII the Mosquito aircraft flown by Tony and Reg was shot down by friendly fire near Berlin. With the engine and one of the wheels on fire Tony managed to put on his parachute and open the door of the aircraft and bail out. He was followed a few minutes later by Reg. Tony recalls watching his aircraft heading towards earth in a fireball as he floated into the top of a rather tall tree. Tony was captured by German soldiers and remained in custody with a group of approximately 50 others until they were freed by the Americans ten days later. At this point neither Tony or Reg knew that each other had survived.

Tony remained in the RAF until 1947 finishing his service at RAF Gutersloh in Germany and his visit to RAF Marham was the first RAF base that he had been to since then. When asked how it felt to be back on an RAF Station he said “ It feels really familiar and it is an honour and a pleasure to be here”. In fact the personnel of 31 Squadron agreed that the honour and pleasure was all theirs!

Reg Everson and Tony were reunited after the war and remain firm friends to this day. Reg had been due to accompany Tony to RAF Marham in 2012 but unfortunately was unable to due to a recent fall.

Tony Rudd Battle of Britain Blog from 2010 is here:

Winged Victory - 1940 (Paperback – 11 Nov 2010)
by Tony Rudd (Author) It was an honour to speak with him via EMail and posts in 2010. Best wishes

Paul Davies

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