- Contributed by
- Chepstow Drill Hall
- People in story:
- Harry Reade
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Royal Air Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 01 June 2005
Flight Sergeant Harry Reade – Instrument Technician
34 Recce Wing 1941 – 1944
34 Wing was made up of Spitfires, Mosquitoes and Wellington Bombers
My job pre-war was as an instrument technician and I wanted to be an aircraft technician.
When I enlisted there were 50 of us and no aircraft, by time 34 Wing was put together there were 2,500 of us and many aircraft.
34 Recognisance Wing was put together to take photographs of the Normandy Peninsular so that the cartographer could put together accurate, up to date map of the area. These maps would be used for the D-day landing and the ensuing battles, which lead to the liberation of Europe.
The aircraft would fly at 40,000 ft to take the photographs and were painted blue to blend with the sky – there were two aircraft painted white, these were called dicers and they used to take low-level photographs flying in and out of the clouds for cover, a very risky job
Aircraft from 34 Wing were also used as spotters for the artillery bombarding the coastal targets prior to and during the D-day landing.
34 Recce Wing followed the army across Europe and got to Brussels 2/3 days after liberation.
Just before Christmas 1944 the German made a counter attack, the Ardennes offensive to break through the American line, this was to be the battle of the Bulge. It was during this time with the Germans only 10 miles away that the officers issued us with rifles and machine guns and told us to be ready if the Germans broke through. This was very scary time as we had received very little firearms training. We had a very late Christmas that year in fact we didn’t have it until well into January 1944.
At the end of February we were uprooted and followed the army across the Rhine and on to VE day.
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