Everybody has a book in them, or so it's said. But it's something else again getting it onto the page and to a place where it might be shared.

I have been writing since I was a young child. Always, my dream was to see my name on the spine of a book. Books gave me life, a dream to live by. Through their portals I could escape so easily into other worlds. Books also saved my life ... yes, really!

This is the story of my books and my journey as an author, including a very personal view of my journey through Life. I hope it will inspire and give hope to writers and readers young and old.

Getting published can be a waiting game. It's hard .. and getting harder. But then sometimes it can happen in an unexpected way and suddenly, we truly are living our dream. And we realise that it isn't after all the winning that is important, but the journey that is ours along the way.

I would love to hear from anyone who connects with what is written here. A signed copy of any of my books is available. You have only to write and ask:

Monday, 27 November 2017

192 Squadron: RAF 100 GROUP

Mosquito Night Intruder, equipped with Radar

On the night of 26/27 November 1944, Mosquito DK292 became one with the darkness as it took off from RAF Foulsham in Norfolk, England on a course which would take them into enemy-occupied territory. Its two-man crew, Canadian Pilot Officer Jack Fisher and Navigator/Special Operator Flt/Lt Vic Vinnell, were serving airmen under No.192 Squadron, the lead Squadron of RAF 100 Group, Bomber Command, their Headquarters at Bylaugh Hall, Norfolk.

Jack and Vic were valued airmen of this secret Group during World War Two, which was made up of hundreds of people, men and women, stationed on airfields built for purpose across Norfolk, together with a variety of aircraft. 192 Squadron went out in all weathers, gaining valuable insight and information used to plan future operations, working direct with Blechley Park and the 'Y' Service. They each had a role, with specific orders. Each was given separate Briefings and De-Briefings. They had their maps and tools of the trade, a destination and approximate time of arrival and return. Amidst the shroud of secrecy which covered RAF 100 Group, Jack and Vic were a small yet significant part of a much greater plan ... one which would ultimately change the world, and help bring the war to an early and successful conclusion. The work of RAF 100 Group as a whole was aimed at identifying and jamming enemy Radar, diverting enemy aircraft away from where attacks would really happen, confusing enemy Controllers by intercepting communications between them and their German pilots, using special experimental equipment with strange-sounding names such as ABC Cigar, WINDOW, Jostle, etc. generally producing as much mayhem and confusion as possible for the enemy, hence the Group's motto: 'Confound & Destroy'. The Group was also involved in dropping and collecting S.O.E. Agents, and working with the Resistance.

On the night of 26/27 November 1944, Jack and Vic were focused on the task in hand, going through the usual motions of ensuring their Mosquito was up to the task as they lifted off from Foulsham airfield, their sights set firm on the target. On their return, they were due to land at Ford in Sussex. But for now, their heads buzzed, their hearts beat faster, they were psyched up, adrenaline flowing, their eyes ever-watchful, peering into the blanket of darkness surrounding them, while maintaining radio silence.

Flt/Lt Vic Vinnell, 192 Squadron, RAF 100 Group
Born Henry Victor Alexander Vinnell on 21st September 1922, 'Vic' as he became known, was an only child. Prior to joining the RAF, he was employed as an assistant salesman in a wholesale grocers. But it was his keen interest in photography and radio which would have brought him to the attention of those secretly identifying and recruiting likely candidates into RAF 100 Group, and thereafter into his role as a Special Operator. In July 1942, he had already completed 13 sorties, and been transferred to No. 1 Radio School at Cranwell, before being posted to RAF Wheaton Aston pending a further posting to RAF Foulsham where Canadian, Flt/Lt Jack Fisher, became not only his Pilot, but a good friend. Their Mosquito, DK292, was named 'N for Nina', after Vic's fiance Nina Chessall - my mother. They met at the Christmas Eve dance of 1943 at RAF Wheaton Aston, Staffordshire, where Nina was stationed as a WAAF. Before Vic left  for RAF Foulsham, they pledged their love for one another in a country church at nine o'clock one evening, using letters and Leaves to plan their wedding due to take place a short while following this operation on 26/27 November 1944. Jack Fisher was to be Vic's 'Best Man'.

Pilot Officer Jack Fisher, 192 Squadron, RAF 100 Group
Jack Glen Millan Fisher was born on 30th August 1923 on a farm homestead in Canada. He was the eldest of seven children ... and the only son. His father had served during World War One in France and Belgium. Jack shared an interest in writing, reading and poetry with his friend Vic, and was always scribbling in a notebook verses which came to him through childhood and beyond. He took several jobs to qualify and finish High School, his first job following Graduation being with the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act, a Government Agency set up to improve farming methods. He joined the RCAF in 1940 in Regina, Saskatchewan, the same day his father rejoined the Army. Jack loved every minute of his Air Force training, joining 192 Squadron, RAF 100 Group, in August 1944.

The night of 26/27 November 1944 was the last time Jack and Vic were seen. Nothing was heard from them again. They have no known resting place to call their own.

This year, to mark the 73rd Anniversary of their deaths, Paul Bolsvert of the Gravelbourg & District Tribune, interviewed Gloria, Jack Fisher's sister. With a population of around only 900 in her local town, the newspaper is closing and at Gloria's request, they felt it fitting this year for Remembrance Day to include Jack and Vic's story:

Remembering the Loss of a Brother during WWII

It's something Gloria Douglas will never forget.

'I still remember the day the Telegram came', she said. She was only 15 years old. The message was about her brother, Jack Fisher, who was listed as 'missing believed killed' while on a secret operation into occupied Europe. It was the night of November 26/27 1944. Pilot Jack Fisher and fellow Pilot and Navigator/Special Duties Operator Victor Vinnell, left in their Mosquito DK292 named 'N for Nina' and never returned from a mission to Munich.

He was the only boy with six sisters and he had ambition.

'He wasn't going to farm like his dad. He was going to come back and go to University', said Gloria. She said it was just as well he had made up his mind to leave the farm since they soon found out it was located on an alkali flat. It was near Shaunavon, Sask, at a village called Instow.

Jack Fisher was a member of a Group known as RAF 100 (Bomber Support) Group, based at Foulsham, Norfolk. His story lives on in a book entitled: 'RAF 100 Group - Kindred Spirits', by Janine Harrington, published by Austin Macauley.

Janine Harrington is the daughter of the woman Victor Vinnell was going to marry the week after his fateful mission into Germany. Gloria Douglas was interviewed and her comments appear in the book.

Here is how the events of the flight were explained many years later:

'Mosquito DK292 took off at 02.58 hours on 27 November 1944, accompanying a Bomber Command attack on Munich, Germany. The aircraft was due to return to Royal Air Force Ford at 07.00 hours, but nothing was heard of it after take-off. The two crew members were: Pilot Officer Glen Millan Fisher (J88232), a Canadian; and Navigator, Flight Lieutenant Henry Victor Alexander Vinnell (123505). Information was later received that Mosquito DK292 crashed on the French coast at Vassonville, north of Le Havre at 6.30am on 27 November 1944. The wreckage was covered by the sea at high tide, but by the direction of the aircraft, it was assumed that it flew into a cliff and exploded on impact. The air-frame was completely disintegrated. As the beach was most probably mined, attempts to salvage the wreckage were impracticable. No vehicles could gain access to the beach. The only items recovered were a sock marked NBA Vinnell and an Officer's cap marked P/O Fisher 232.

The bodies of the two airmen were never found and from the description of the aircraft having exploded on impact and the disintegration of the fuselage, it was most probable that the remains of the crew were washed away by the tide. Consequently, both Pilot Officer Fisher and Flight Lieutenant Vinnell were recorded as Missing Presumed Dead - Lost at Sea.

Their names are recorded on the Runnymede Memorial on Panels 246 and 203 respectively.

Although Jack Fisher is recorded on the Runnymede Memorial, he is today one of the 3800 Servicemen named after one of the many bodies of water in northern Saskatchewan. The 3800 lakes, rivers and rapids were named after fallen Saskatchewan Servicemen by the province in the 1950s and 60s. Fisher Creek was named in memory of Jack Glen Fisher of Shaunavon, Saskatchewan. Location is 59*17'N, 106*30'W. The framed certificate held by his sister Gloria in the photograph includes the following wording:

'Royal Canadian Air Force Flying Officer, J88232 On Active Service To His Country, Killed in Action, November 27, 1944. Age 21. Le Havre, France. 

It is by no means certain that the official verdict of what became of DK292 and the Mosquito crew is actually what happened.

There remains certain discrepancies.

One official document has them shot down in Germany 'over Coesfeld'. Another story is that they had engine trouble which occurred in March that same year with that aircraft, and made an emergency landing on the French coast, not knowing the beach was mined.

However, the important thing is to remember them, to speak their names, to share their stories that their deaths were not in vain.

Vic wanted to become an author when war was done, and made his fiance Nina a promise that he would write their Love Story to celebrate peace in the world after so much destruction, chaos, killings and fear. Sixty years on from the date of their death, I had a book published in their memory which shares their love story through letters they wrote to one another, set against the background of World War Two. It took ten years to research and write, and my mother and I wrote it together, although she didn't live to see it finally in print. We also became founding members of the RAF 100 Group Association, and after fifty years, she was able to talk and share with those who had known and served with Vic, her wartime fiance.

A signed copy of 'Nina & Vic - A World War II Love Story' is available direct from the author, priced £12 + postage and packing:

We WILL Remember Them!

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