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.

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Saturday 8 June 2019


Normandy Invasion, June 1944

Landing ships put cargo ashore on one of the invasion beaches at low tide during first days of operation. Among identifiable ships present are USS LST-532 (centre); USS LST-262 (3rd LST right); USS LST-310 (part visible far right); USS LST-524. Barrage balloons overhead. 
Army ‘half-track’ convoy forming up on beach. 
Source: Archives Normandie 1939-1945, Ref: P012623Copyright expired.

Troops landing on the Normandy beaches came from the United Kingdom, Canada and the US, with many other countries also participating—Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Poland.

To support these troops there were 11,590 aircraft. In support of the Invasion, Bomber Command committed 82 Squadrons—consisting of 1,681 serviceable aircraft. During the invasion period, virtually all Bomber Command’s operations were occupied in supporting the assault and beachhead. On 6 June the order came through from the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, Dwight D. Eisenhower:

Halcyon Y plus five finally and definitely confirmed’. 

‘Halcyon Y’ meant ‘1 June’; this coded message indicated D-Day would fall on 1 June plus five, meaning 6 June 1944.

75 years on, we read of Anniversary Events taking place in Normandy and elsewhere, watching and listening to the many Memorial Services and Acts of Remembrance on the TV. Yet still there is one Group never mentioned - a Group covered in layers of secrets, like an impenetrable fog, hiding truths that can never be known. And worse, the hundreds of people who made up this Group, who were there, both in the days and weeks leading up to D-Day, as well as on the day itself, preparing and putting in place safeguards for a battle which would ultimately turn the war around ... cannot be remembered. Their names are not spoken, and by the majority they remain faceless and unknown. Yet their work was crucial to the success of D-Day and all that followed.
RAF 100 (Bomber Support) Group, serving under Bomber Command; remain in the shadows, yet played such a vital role in the Battle of Normandy that, without their assistance in the planning and preparation of the assault, it could never have taken place at all.

 Operation Halcyon showing 5 Normandy Beaches

Diagram showing Radar Countermeasures for 5/6 June 1944
National Archives: DEFE 2/502

During April and May the weather was settled and calm. It allowed bombing to intensify as Allied Forces focused on all routes linking to Normandy. Bomber Command flew a wide variety of operations, attacking rail and road communications to slow down the Germans as they advanced towards Normandy to defend themselves against the Allies. German troop and gun positions were attacked, together with ammunition and fuel dumps and French ports, where German Navy fast-attack E-boats and other coastal vessels were concentrated. Bomber Command aircraft dropped personnel and supplies to support Special Operations Executive (SOE), Resistance, and Special Intelligence Service (SIS) operations in connection with the invasion.

Key railway targets in Malines and Chambly were hit, with both raids incurring significant losses—at Malines a total of 132 aircraft were lost, 110 of these being Halifaxes. At Chambly, 120 aircraft went down, including 96 Lancasters. However, by dropping 500 high explosives on the railway area, they caused damage throughout, putting the depot out of order for ten days.

Other, smaller raids proved successful — an attack on Berliet Motor Works involving 75 Lancasters from 1 Group, none of which were lost. The factory received significant damage, as did a nearby railway and factories. At Tours, 46 Lancasters and 4 Mosquitoes from 5 Group completely destroyed aircraft-repair workshops.

German Military Camps and airfields also made up a number of important targets, as on 3 and 4 May, when 346 Lancasters, with 14 Mosquitoes from 1 and 5 Group, set out to bomb a German Military Camp near the French village of Mailly. On this occasion the raid failed to go according to plan. While Marker Leader Wing Commander Cheshire ordered the main force in, the Main Force Controller, Wing Commander L. C. Dean, was unable to transmit the order because his incorrectly-tuned radio was drowned out by an American Forces broadcast. As a result, German bombers had time to arrive on the scene; the ensuing battle resulted in heavy casualties. The battle culminated in 1,500 bombs being dropped on 114 barrack buildings, 47 transport sheds, and ammunition buildings. In total, 102 vehicles were destroyed, including 37 tanks. However, 42 Lancasters were shot down in the confusion; the most significant losses were suffered by 1 Group, who made up the majority of the second wave of bombers.

A further raid on an airfield at Montdidier—involving 84 Lancasters and 8 Mosquitoes—caused further damage to buildings and installations on the north of the airfield. Only 4 Lancasters were lost during this bombing.

In order for the Battle of Normandy to be successful, it was crucial that Radar Stations along the coast of France were neutralised to prevent them picking up on the invasion. 39 Lancasters and 5 Mosquitoes from 8 Group attacked a Radar Station at Monte Couple on 19 and 20 May, when one Lancaster was lost.

The night of 27–28 May, Bomber Command committed over 1,111 aircraft to the Campaign, bombing a range of targets including military camps, airfields and railway yards; 162 Lancasters and 8 Mosquitoes from 1, 3 and 8 Groups attacked the Rothe Erde railway yard, causing severe damage and significantly affecting all through traffic, which had to be halted. 12 Lancasters were lost during this raid.

However, it wasn’t just the British taking casualties that night—German night fighters suffered huge losses at the hands of gunners defending the bombers. A Me110 attacked ‘F-Freddie’, piloted by FS Coole of 166 Squadron, as they returned from the raid. With the aircraft damaged and rear gunner Sergeant Ashworth hit in the leg by cannon fire, the mid-upper gunner fired several rounds into the underbelly of the attacking aircraft as it flew overhead, causing it to dive vertically. The crew of the Lancaster crash-landed at Woodbridge with minor injuries.

Actions described above were all obvious actions, which people could see happening all around them. It was a nightmare in the making of which everyone there became an intrinsic part. Yet there were hidden layers of which few were aware.

Operation Halcyon marked the first application of airborne radio countermeasures (RCM). These were what RAF 100 (Bomber Support) Group were all about. It was their forte. With so many aspects of the German war machine needing to be attacked—by land, sea, and air—RAF 100 Group’s specialist and top-secret equipment became the only means by which all links in the chain could be effectively disrupted. To cover all eventualities, three specific countermeasures had been developed: 

1. a 'Mandrel' screen to cut down enemy early warnings; 
2. communication Jammers;
3. Airborne Interception (AI) Jammers.

Stirlings from 214 and 199 Squadron (both under RAF 100 Group) were converted from bombers into mobile Radar-jamming units using the 'Mandrel' device, while other Squadrons practised precision manoeuvres—accustoming to new and often bizarre equipment. Most of RAF 100 Group’s heavy aircraft were also equipped with chutes to enable the use of 'Window', whereby strips of tin foil were pushed down the chutes, out into the air. The effect was staggering as, on German Radar screens, many hundreds of aircraft could clearly be seen, rather than the few which was the reality.

RAF 100 (Bomber Support) Group were living up to their motto admirably: 'Confound & Destroy'. 

As final orders were given that the Normandy Invasion would take place the following day, specialist RCM aircraft from RAF 100 Group — Lancasters and Halifaxes, including USAAF B-17 Fortresses of 803 Squadron, which was attached to 100 Group, working together flying combined operations — prepared to set up a Radar-jamming 'Mandrel' screen to cover the invasion fleet from the ‘eyes’ of German Radars that had survived earlier attacks by Allied fighter-bombers.

RAF 100 Group aircraft were first in the air, taking off at dusk on 5 June 1944. They took up their stations along the south coast of England, from Dorset to Dover, at intervals of 15,000 feet. Flying at precisely determined intervals, heights, and bearings, they effectively jammed German Radar across the entire central and eastern English Channel, masking the invasion fleet. Throughout the month they flew a number of nights, working also as ‘Spoofs’. However, with a lack of aircraft, only a small screen could be put up; this meant RAF aircraft flew in pairs to give full coverage. The U.S. aircraft flew singly, but did not cover as wide a frequency band. Despite early misgivings, the RCM proved to be a success, working far better than theoreticians had dared hope. Its success at diverting German defences also meant that, in July, 192 and 199 Squadrons were converted into the so-called ‘Special Window Force’ (SWF) within 100 Group. Their mission was to divert attention away from the main bomber force by pretending to be a second major force and raid a different target. Crews referred to this task as ‘Spoofing’.

Meanwhile, 214 Squadron—operating 'Airborne Cigar' (ABC) — headed east to fly over Calais and along the Somme Valley, depositing specially designed 'Window'. This set up a false echo on German Radar sets, simulating a mass of bomber aircraft heading for targets that would be chosen if the invasion were taking place near Calais. To add to this illusion, the 'Serrate' anti-night-fighter Mosquitoes of 141, 160 and 239 Squadrons were present over the Somme, attacking any night fighters they could locate. Simultaneously, 85, 157 and 515 Squadrons attacked Luftwaffe bases as far east as Holland, again to give the impression that Calais, not Normandy, was the invasion target. 

All these Squadrons were part of RAF 100 Group, which again, lived up to their motto ‘Confound and Destroy’.

On the night of 5–6 June, a few short hours before the D-Day assault on Normandy, five of 100 Group’s B-17 Fortresses, together with a similar force of Lancasters, were given the unusual task of flying back and forth across the Channel, penetrating 80 miles into France before turning around. On each inward journey, bundles of 'Window' were tossed out as quickly as possible. Just ten aircraft managed to create a bomber stream of hundreds of non-existent raiders on German Radar; this was again designed to confuse and distract the Nazis’ attentions from Normandy. The decoy bombers also jammed German radio using on-board transmitters. An electronic wall that blocked all German communications was successfully established for several hours over northern France, masking the presence of 1,000 Allied transport aircraft.

Joseph Charles ‘Joe’ McCarthy DSO DFC and Bar, the RACF’s American Dambuster, flew with the Squadrons as they followed racetrack-shaped circuits with three-minute turns, 800 feet off Calais, dropping 'Window'. This duped the German coastal Radar into thinking a large surface fleet was approaching Pas de Calais, while the real force was approaching Normandy, far to the west.

Many different ‘mini’ operations were flown under the umbrella of the larger one, each aimed at deflecting German attention away from the intended target. The hope was that the enemy would believe an invasion was happening elsewhere. Time was of the essence. Given the weather conditions, everything had to happen during this window of opportunity.

At around midnight, 149 Squadron went into action with the task of dropping ‘Ruperts’—half-sized dummy parachutists armed with fireworks, which would explode as the dummy landed to simulate machine-gun fire. They were dropped at various locations to confuse German defenders as to where real parachute troops were landing. It proved a resounding success.

The dangerous, yet secretive nature of RAF 100 (Bomber Support) Group's work was reflected in medals awarded in the aftermath. On 27 June, for example, Sergeant Harvey Allin of 192 Squadron was awarded a DFM for unspecified acts of ‘cool courage and ardour whilst engaged on special duties’. Even in the awards given, secrecy remained.

Back on the night of 5–6 June, again as part of the air cover for invasion forces, Sqn Ldr R. G. Woodman of 169 Squadron (100 Group) was flying a Mosquito, patrolling over France, hunting for enemy night fighters that might spot invasion forces crossing the Channel. Ironically, he described the evening as ‘the quietest night of the year’, which made the sight of the invasion fleet from the air all the more astounding. It marked the prelude of what was to come.

Apart from RAF 100 Group’s ongoing secret work, additional deception sorties were flown by Bomber Command, each with their own code and modus operandi ... as illustrated in the diagram showing Radar Countermeasures above.

Operation Taxable

Sixteen Lancasters of 617 Squadron dropped precise 'Window' patterns at low level, in conjunction with a Royal Navy deception operation, to simulate the incoming convoy approaching the coast at Cap d’Antifer.

Operation Glimmer

Six Stirlings from 218 Squadron conducted a similar 'Window'-dropping operation to 617 Squadron’s, simulating an invasion convoy approaching Boulogne.

Operation Titanic

A force of 40 Hudsons, Halifaxes, and Stirlings dropped dummy parachutists, rifle-fire simulators, 'Window', and two SAS teams to simulate airborne landings away from the invasion area. 200 dummy parachutists dropped near to the base of the Cotentin Peninsula, with 50 more east of the River Dives and 50 to the south-west of Caen. 200 dummy parachutists and SAS teams were dropped at Yvetot, 30 miles south-west of Dieppe. The SAS had orders to allow some of the enemy to escape and spread alarm by reporting landings of hundreds of parachutists. Two Stirlings were lost in this operation. Dummy parachutists were crude cloth representations of a human figure — a simple series of cloth bags and strips connected in a roughly cross-like shape, giving the impression of a parachutist; they were certainly not the accurate rubber figures suggested in some accounts. Equipped with a device to prevent the enemy discovering they were a deception, an explosive charge destroyed the cloth figure, setting it on fire, suggesting the supposed man had burnt his parachute and lay hidden, ready for action or sabotage.

The Somme Estuary

Over the Somme Estuary, 24 Lancasters from 101 Squadron and five B-17 Flying Fortresses of 214 Squadron established an ‘Airborne Cigar’ (ABC) ground-air radio-jamming and 'Window' barrage along the line. They sought to distract enemy night fighters away from transport aircraft carrying airborne troops. One Lancaster was lost.


Over Littlehampton, 16 Stirlings from 199 Squadron and four 8th Air Force B-24 Liberators established a jamming screen using ‘Mandrel’ Electronic Warfare Radar Jammers. The screen was established between Littlehampton and Portland Bill to hide the real invasion fleet from German EW Radar.


Less than one week after the first RAF 100 Group flight, on 11 June the beaches were fully secured. Over 326,000 troops, more than 50,000 vehicles, and some 100,000 tons of equipment had landed at Normandy.

The Germans had taken comfort from the poor conditions — which were worse in northern France than over the English Channel — believing that no invasion would be possible for several days. Some troops stood down, and many senior Officers went away for the weekend. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel took a few days of leave to celebrate his wife’s birthday. Dozens of Division, Regimental and Battalion Commanders were away from their posts, conducting war games prior to the invasion. It left the Germans in confusion and disarray, especially with the absence of celebrated Commander Rommel, who was away on leave.

Hitler initially believed the invasion was a feint, designed to distract the Germans from an attack north of the Seine. He refused to release nearby Divisions to join the counter-attack. Reinforcements had to be called in from further afield, causing delays. Hitler also hesitated in calling for armoured Divisions to help in the defence. Moreover, the Germans were hampered by effective Allied air support, which took out many key bridges and forced the Germans to make long detours; this was in addition to efficient Allied Naval support, which helped protect advancing Allied troops.

Over ensuing weeks, the Allies fought their way across the Normandy countryside—including a dense landscape of marshes and hedgerows — in the face of determined German resistance. By the end of June, the Allies had seized the vital port of Cherbourg and had landed approximately 850,000 men and 150,000 vehicles in Normandy. They were now poised to continue their march across France. By the end of August 1944, the Allies had reached the Seine. Paris was liberated, and the Germans were removed from north-western France; the battle for Normandy was at an end.

RAF 100 Group had been the secret eyes in the skies, identifying and jamming enemy Radar, equipping and working with the U.S. 8th Air Force as well as the Resistance, SOE, and SOD, creating a hidden layer of defence. They were the Guardian Angels of those on the Front Line, and their work was key to this turning point of the war.

Working with these Veterans over the past 25 years, it has been both a privilege and pleasure, as well as a humbling experience. They share their stories with one another, while there are many who still say nothing at all, replaying the secret role they played throughout the Second World War silently in their heads. Too many have taken their secrets to the grave. And till my final breath I continue to campaign on their behalf, passionate that their history and voices should be heard. They do not call themselves 'Heroes', simply saying they had a job to do, and they did it to the best of their ability. However, given their work was so secret yet so crucial to the success of the Second World War, they need to know their legacy will live on into the future ... and yearn to receive the respect and recognition due to them.

We WILL Remember Them!

One Final Note

There are many many books written about The Second World War. However, my books focus on RAF 100 (Bomber Support) Group ... Guardian Angels of the Skies. To understand more about the role they played during D-Day and the Battle for Normandy, working with the U.S. 8th Air Force, as well as other operations in which they played a key role; you can read:

Published by Fonthill Media
Available from AMAZON, price currently: £8.34 (hardback)

I would also make the point that it was the publishers, Fonthill Media, who omitted all photographs, maps and diagrams which originally went with the writings. I have had many complaints about this issue as well as Reviews which express the same, saying that including these would have enhanced the book greatly in illustrating its writings.

I totally agree!

However, the book does tell in great depth the story of RAF 100 (Bomber Support) Group operations, and includes the personal writings of Veterans. In sharing their story it shows their remarkable achievements, and how electronic warfare won the day.