Know Your Ally: Johnny Britain (US Department of Defence 1942)

1942 Creator(s): Department of Defence. Department of the Army. Office of the Chief Signal Officer.

US Public information film introducing Americans to the following:

British, Empire and Commonwealth forces.

Differences and similarities between American and British society, culture, political systems and German propaganda attempts to break the alliance

Confusion between the shared language

Life in Britain during the war and the home front.

Eagle Squadrons- American citizens who joined the RAF before Pearl Harbor

Nine American citizens are listed as pilots serving with the RAF during the Battle of Britain and some pretended to by Canadians in order to be eligible to join the RAF.

Several American pilots serving with RAF Fighter Command also supported the Canadians during the ill- fated raid on Dieppe.

After the United States entered the war the Eagle Squadrons were amalgamated into the USAAF and the pilots were allowed to wear RAF wings on their American uniforms.

Operation Jericho (aka Jail Breakers) February 1944

At the request of the French Resistance on 18 February 1944 British and Canadian Mosquito fighter -bombers with Typhoon fighter escorts were tasked with destroying SS barracks and machine gun positions whilst breaching the wall of Amiens prison to help facilitate the escape of 832 members of the resistance and other political prisoners due to be shot by the SS.

Shortly after the raid the following newsreel called Jail Breakers was shown in cinemas throughout Britain.

Film footage – USAAF Fighters escorting B17 Bombers over Germany 1943

Film made by USAAF showing airfields in England preparing for bombing raid on Germany. Part 2 American fighter escorts (P-47’s and P-38’s) and B17 Flying Fortresses’s battling German fighters and flying through heavy air defences.

Now it can be told: School for Danger (public information film)

The Special Operations Executive (SOE) was an ultra-secret branch of the British military and this public information film released in 1947, one-year after the executive was disbanded, is one of the first public acknowledgements of SOE’s existence during the war.

Every member of the cast were former members of SOE’s French Section, hence the poor acting, and each scene was based on actual events during the war.

Those familiar with this Section will recognise the two main characters: Harry Ree and Jaqueline Nearne whose sister Eileen also served with SOE and escaped from Ravensbruck Concentration camp.

War Memories of John Mellor, RAF Bomber Command

Through a chance encounter I came across 95-year-old John Mellor a veteran of RAF Bomber Command during WW2 who has just self-published his memoirs. John is one of the few who survived the bombing sorties and described himself as “one of the lucky.”

Over 76 years later few who served during WW2 remain alive and I believe John’s recollection of his war service is of major historical importance, and after receiving the following message from John I decided to do whatever I could to promote his war memoir ‘The Boy with one shoe’. 

“Thank you, Alan all proceeds go to the RAF Benevolent Fund, but for my sake I want this book to be read so that the sacrifice my friends made will not be forgotten or misunderstood.”

More information can be found at:

www. jhmeller.com

https://amazon.co.uk/Boy-Only-One-Shoe

The Mutin- SOE clandestine sea transport.

After being acquired by SOE the ‘Mutin’ (Mutineer) was based in the Helford Estuary in Cornwall. Its paintwork was aged and was disguised as a French tuner fishing vessel and the all British crew dressed as Breton fishermen. Part of her refit was a more powerful diesel engine and a wireless using RAF frequencies to support the illusion that transmissions were not from an ocean vessel and its long aerial was built into the rigging. There is an account from a Quartermaster in the Royal Navy who volunteered for clandestine operations without being told what these operations were. This new volunteer later said, on his arrival at the quay he saw Mutin which had just returned from Brittany after dropping off agents: “I saw heaps of sail on the deck covered in blood. Shipwrights were digging shrapnel from bow to stern and I thought, God what have I let myself in for”?… “I was later told, after dropping off agents Mutin was spotted by a German aircraft and raked by cannon fire during which the engineer was killed.

More details in my forthcoming book SOE in France

Special Operations Executive (SOE) Norwegian Section

Three-part television documentary describing a series of actions taken by  SOE Norwegian saboteurs during World War II to prevent the German nuclear energy project from acquiring heavy water which could be used to produce nuclear weapons.