It can prove to be an extraordinary journey, to follow history down the path of Time, and bring together a Family Tree. Tracing our ancestors can become addictive! But it is a necessary path, because our past defines who we are today, and the experiences which shaped us. It is only by understanding our past and experiences, that we can know ourselves that much better. On my mother's side, at least, I come from a long line of women of incredible personal faith, strength and endurance who weren't afraid to make a difference. I find that, not just remarkable, but also an enormous help, support and comfort to me now.
My latest publication brought out by Austin Macauley in December 2015 has drawn a huge amount of worldwide interest. Finally, it is bringing to people's attention another 'Family' who made a difference - that of RAF 100 Group, serving under Bomber Command during World War Two, based on Norfolk airfields in the UK.
They have remained in the shadows too long.
For over twenty years it has been my passion to preserve both their history and stories, to bring them forward into the light, so that people today can know their secrets, their tremendous acts of courage flying day and night deep into the heart of Germany. Their main operations were centred on identifying and jamming enemy Radar, using experimental and very secret equipment installed in their aircraft, used by a Special Operator. But they also intercepted communications between German Controllers and their airmen, flew 'spoof' missions designed to draw the enemy away from the real targets, working with the Resistance, SOD (Special Operation Duties), SOE (Special Operations Executives) and Bletchley Park, ultimately helping bring the war to an early conclusion. Yet when war was done, unlike Fighter Command, they received no recognition nor reward, neither were they included in Churchill's post-war speech. In the veterans' own words: 'we are the forgotten heroes'. Too many have already taken their secrets with them to the grave.
This is the reason why this book is so important, so vital. It is the first and only time for many to have shared their wartime experiences within its pages and represents my promise to them fulfilled.
Just as copies of my book 'Nina & Vic: A World War Two Love Story' was sent to the Queen and Prime Minister, being the first time I wrote about this Group; a copy of my latest publication was also sent, and a reply followed:
The book is a weighty volume, and includes not only the history and stories of RAF 100 Group, but also those of U.S 36th Bomb Squadron who flew alongside them. My sincere thanks to Stephen Hutton for including his writings in this publication (Stephen's father served with the U.S 36th Bomb Squadron, and he is author of 'Squadron of Deception', offering further information and history).
I was asked by 100 Group veterans to include a question with a copy of the book to the Prime Minister. A response followed:
I will be including these letters in our Autumn edition of the RAF 100 Group Association magazine. However, those I have shared them with already are delighted.
Stephen Hutton (Author of: 'Squadron of Deception') writes from America:
'Just a note to say how excited I was to receive your email message and letter from Buckingham Palace. How very special that is to be so recognized. Thank you most sincerely. I immediately notified the Commanding Officer of the 36th Electronic Squadron of this good news. Once again, hearing from you makes me so very proud of your extreme efforts to recognize and honor the Gremlins of RAF 100 Group and its Association. My hat's off to you!'
Veteran John Beeching, who served in 169 Squadron at RAF Great Massingham, Norfolk, writes from New Zealand:
'Well, what does one say to news like that? Congrats, to start with ...
Great news indeed, Janine, and it will be interesting to see what follows. I can't imagine that there could possibly be anything left involving the erstwhile 100 Group which could have anything secret about it at all. The gear we had would now be relegated to the Stone Age bracket. Nevertheless, it is all a step in a constructive direction, so we will watch this space.
Canadian Mosquito pilot George Stewart DFC, who appears sitting astride the front of the aircraft on the front cover of the book, shares his thoughts:
'Well, you've really done it this time, Janine, immortalizing all of us, including yourself !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a wonderful, well-deserved response from Her Majesty.
CONGRATULATIONS FROM ALL OF US WHO WERE THERE!!!!!!!
God bless you for all the hard work you did and do in bringing back those precious memories often otherwise lost.
Fondest wishes and thank you so much!!!
I remain inspired by all these wonderful people as well as those departed, including my mother Nina's wartime fiance, Vic Vinnell, who flew in Mosquito DK292 with his good friend Canadian Pilot Jack Fisher, serving in 192 Squadron, RAF 100 Group. Their story, as with so many, ended tragically, with the mystery of exactly what happened to them on the night of 26/27 November still remaining today.
We WILL remember them!!