148 Squadron, (Special Duties-S.O.E.) Group

Discussion in 'SOE & OSS' started by Black Panther, Dec 21, 2009.

  1. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Well-Known Member

    So, a quick squint through the 148 Sqdn ORBs shows F/Sgt Carlson on operations in February 1945 with the Smith crew on the 16th, 18th, 24th and 26th. All these were to drop zones in Yugoslavia, and were daylight ops (as was the norm by that period).

    I can't see the pilot or F/Sgt Carlson in the January records so I wonder if they arrived as members of a sprog crew out from the UK, or perhaps a more experienced crew transferred from another squadron? Will look at March and April ORBs when I get a chance (the squadron was operating flat out by the end of the war, so further entries may reasonably be expected).

    Cheers, Pat

    Edit: actually, it looks like the pilot was F/O G.H. B-Smith, so hyphenated - I may have missed him in scanning personnel lists for Nov 1944 was trying to see if he was an established member of the squadron prior to F/Sgt Carlson's arrival), so will recheck if I get a chance.
  2. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Well-Known Member

    F/Sgt (Warrant Officer by April) Carlson and the Banks-Smith crew flew another six ops before VE Day with 148 Sqdn: 1st, 6th, 15th March; 12th and 19th April; 1st May 1945. All drop zones were in Yugoslavia, I believe.

    The ORB Summary for January 1945 records the posting of F/O Banks-Smith from 56PTC with effect from 31.12.44 which chimes with W/O Carlson's arrival on squadron; alas, non-officers were not deemed worthy of such records, and F/O B-S was the only officer in the crew. 56 PTC ("Personnel Transit Centre") was in Portici, near Rome, and essentially a holding pen for as-yet-unposted officers, I believe.

    Interestingly, W/O Carlson's record refers to "70 hours operations". I've seen the Banks-Smith crew recorded on (counts off on fingers carefully) ten ops in all, and at this stage and to these drop zones I'd say a very rough average of perhaps 5 or 6 hours a trip might be guessed. Accordingly, there are three possibilities:

    1) They might have been on operational service with another squadron previously, and transferred to 148 in December 1945;
    2) W/O Carlson may have undertaken other ops with different crews, not an unusual occurrence for aircrew on the squadron, which would have boosted his personal tally of hours on ops, and could be checked by a more painstaking trawl through the ORBs for his name (I've lazily just looked for the crew);
    3) error on my part, either by missing some instances of the crew's ops or by inaccurately estimating average hours per operation.

    Food for thought, anyway. Hope this is of help/interest.

    Cheers, Pat
  3. Paul Carlson

    Paul Carlson Member

    Dear Pat

    Fantastic news I'm really trying to find out as much as I can about my Fathers operational flying during WW2.

    I have attached two documents which may be relevant.

    Many thanks

    Paul Carlson

    Attached Files:

  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member


    Re the hours - it may be totally wrong but looking at the Record of Career - specifically section 21 under the heading:

    Number of Hours Flown


    Total on Operations - 32 Hours

    Maybe this makes a difference to your calculations ??????

  5. Paul Carlson

    Paul Carlson Member

    Hi All

    Boy you guys really seam to have your finger on all the information - fantastic work - Im trying to do this between meetings etc???

    thanks so much for the information it really fills in all the gaps for me.

    Can i get information as to my Fathers actually operational flying - what they actually did on the 10 ops - where did they fly - crew etc??

    thanks to all

  6. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Well-Known Member

    Hi carlsonp - check your inbox, I've sent you a PM regarding RAF records you can access which will give you some (though not all that much) detail of what your father's operations involved. I'd strongly suggest joining the RAF Commands forum - it's a mine of information and expertise about all things RAF, and I've received veru generous help from those on there in the past (as indeed I have from those on here, too). As your father's operational service coincided with the end of my uncle's, I can give you a thumbnail sketch based on my own research - however, I'd welcome correction, much of this is from reading between the lines. I'll include it in this (now enormous) post as it might be of some general interest:

    148 Sqdn was a Special Duties squadron, dropping supplies and agents into the Balkans and southern Europe. Your father will probably have lived in a tent, up to his eyes in mud (it was a very bad winter indeed), and socialised mostly with his own crew as security meant that crews were kept apart as far as possible. One veteran of the squadron believed this was also to keep morale intact at times of heavy losses - he'd flown in the summer of 1944 when the squadron sustained very high casualties supplying the Warsaw rising. Operations were scheduled for most, in fact almost all, days and some nights, but frustratingly were often cancelled at short notice due to weather or reports from the field; this must have increased the strain on aircrew.

    At the time your father was on ops the drops were mostly made into Yugoslavia, with some in N Italy, Austria, etc. From autumn 1944 drops were predominantly made in daylight as the fighter opposition was limited by then (unlike flak and small arms, though), usually in mountainous areas from very low level, and often in poor conditions, which involved considerable skills and danger to aircrew. Operations usually involved single aircraft or small groups. Spitfire and Mustang fighter escort was sometimes available from other Balkan Air Force squadrons (the BAF was the "regional" air force, much like the Desert Air Force had been in N Africa, etc). Aircraft relied on visual signals from the ground (often an agreed letter in morse or a pattern of small fires), and by 1945 use was being made of radio communication with S-phone and Rebecca devices - as Wop/AG this would I believe have been your father's responsibility - I'm afraid I don't know much about it, but there's no doubt lots on the internet out there.

    Your father's ops were in support of Allied military missions to Tito's partisans at a time when the Germans were desperately trying to disengage their forces from Yugoslavia; in addition to the delivery of clothing, weapons and medical supplies "nickelling" was undertaken on almost every op, being the dropping of psychological warfare leaflets aimed at the morale of the German troops who were hard-pressed and retreating. The day-to-day situation on the ground, not to mention the politics of the region, was messy and on at least one occasion 148 Sqdn aircraft sustained fire from Soviet ground forces; rival partisan groups shooting at them wasn't unheard of either. Aircrew who crashed or were shot down would seek out partisan groups and some survivors were returned to duty via airlifts from drop zones, or small boat pickups form the coast; however, those taken prisoner by the German/Axis forces could be treated with the extreme brutality which characterised the war in the Balkans. SD squadron aircrew typically took the secrecy of their work very seriously indeed, and it's clear many never mentioned details of their war service at all throughout their lives.

    TrickyDicky - you're right, problem solved! Nice work.The entry says "HCU & operations" of 70 hours, I had assumed wrongly from the original post there were 70 hours on ops only. Yes, 32 hours would fit W/O Carlson's service with the Banks-Smith crew nicely, so 148 Sqdn was almost certainly his only operational posting as a member of a sprog crew in January 1945. Given the weather conditions, 10 ops is about what would be expected of a crew at this point in the war - it's clear that weather was the biggest determining factor in the squadron's "effort".

    Cheers, Pat
  7. Paul Carlson

    Paul Carlson Member

    Hi Pat

    Outstanding thanks so much.

  8. Paul Carlson

    Paul Carlson Member

    Hi Pat

    I haven't received anything to my inbox - please send it to carlsonp@who.int.

    thanks so much.

  9. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Well-Known Member

    Blimey, not my week for technology! Have emailed you, PC.

    Cheers, Pat

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