The secret war heroes working to keep the country safe

Feature on RAF 100 Group. 36th Bombardment Squadron at Alconbury, May 1945. Credit USAF Historical R

Feature on RAF 100 Group. 36th Bombardment Squadron at Alconbury, May 1945. Credit USAF Historical Research Agency. - Credit: Archant

A new anthology shares stories from the RAF servicemen working on secret operations on Norfolk's airbases in the Second World War.

Feature on RAF 100 Squadron. 192 Flight Sqaudron, Foulsham. Credit Ted Gomershall.

Feature on RAF 100 Squadron. 192 Flight Sqaudron, Foulsham. Credit Ted Gomershall. - Credit: Archant

Their work was so secret, even their families didn't know what they were up to. But they played a crucial part in the Allies' victory in the Second World War.

RAF 100 Group, which operated on airbases across Norfolk, was a special duties group within Bomber Command involved in a new kind of warfare – identifying and jamming enemy radar signals.

While possessing an invaluable skill to the Allied Forces, the officers themselves were kept in the dark as to what their work was achieving –which included working with code-breakers at Bletchley Park and locating the German battleship Tirpitz.

With their signatures on the Official Secrets Act, many members of the 100 Group didn't talk about their experiences even after the war ended.

Feature on RAF 100 Group. Bomber Command Theatre of Operations. Credit Evelyn Bartram.

Feature on RAF 100 Group. Bomber Command Theatre of Operations. Credit Evelyn Bartram. - Credit: Archant

However, with the help of one woman, whose mother's young life was entangled with that of a 100 Group officer, the war heroes' stories are being shared for the first time.

Historical author Janine Harrington's latest book, RAF 100 Group – Kindred Spirits, is a anthology of stories from these military men which she has received in letters over the past decade, at a rate of up to 50 a week.

Most Read

The founding member of the RAF 100 Group Association estimates she spoke to hundreds of veterans, who worked with 100 Group's 15 squadrons at 12 Norfolk airfields including Swanton Morley, Little Snoring, Foulsham, West Raynham and Oulton.

Ms Harrington, 62, said: 'They were all based in secret airfields, with barbed wire fences and guards. Local people didn't know what was going on. It was a massive upheaval in Norfolk.

'This book is the first time many of the veterans have shared their stories, and they probably never will again. We are talking about wives who had no idea their husbands were flying deep into the heart of Germany, or working with the French Resistance. The men lived in fear of what they had done because it was so secret and experimental.'

One of the book's stories is that of a man known as Lucky Piggy.

During the war he was extracted from Europe and brought to a 100 Group base, where he worked in total isolation on a secret project.

Another is that of Stan Forsyth DFC of 617 Squadron, who correctly identified the position of the German warship Tirpitz – a discovery which had a great impact on the war.

Ms Harrington said: 'These men became brothers during the war. They talk and laugh about their experiences and you become a part of that.

'It is like stepping through a portal back in time.

'This book is the only living tribute to 100 Group.

'What they did was so secret they never received a medal. But they deserve that medal, and I am still battling for it on their behalf.'

RAF 100 Group – Kindred Spirits is available to buy from Amazon.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter