Category Archives: Original documents

Pilot’s Flying Log Book for WO E.L. Britton

Log book for E.L. Britton

Read WO E.L Britton’s log book

BBC recording of Richard Hillary

Richard HillaryA pilot vividly recounts his experience of being shot down over the North Sea.

‘Hillary had a fine talent for writing and an interest in self-analysis. In this unusually reflective account he recalls the dogfight that was his undoing and gives a dispassionate account of his injuries and thoughts about death as he floated in the North Sea for three hours until he was rescued from the water.’

In listening to this calm, well-spoken account (taken from the first chapter of The Last Enemy), it is his age that particularly strikes me. The mature timbre of the voice belies the injured, lonely 22 year old boy sitting behind the microphone.

Listen to the interview, recorded in 1941.  

Was Churchill responsible?

Letter from Churchill to Harris

Excerpted from the National Archives:

“In 1992 the Queen Mother unveiled a bronze statue of Arthur Harris, the head of Bomber Command during World War 2. The event caused international criticism and people attacked the statue. They were protesting against the deaths and destruction caused by the bombing of Dresden.

As head of Bomber Command, Harris was responsible for bombing operations. However, he and his colleagues questioned and double-checked the decision to attack Dresden. Harris wrote in his autobiography: ‘I know that the destruction of so large and splendid a city at this late stage of the war was considered unnecessary even by a good many people who admit that our earlier attacks were as fully justified as any other operation of war. Here I will only say that the attack on Dresden was at the time considered a military necessity by much more important people than myself, …’. (Bomber Offensive, 1947, p. 242)

Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister and also the Minister for Defence when the policy of area bombing took place. He had a major input into military strategy. Historians debate whether he was directly involved in the decision to bomb Dresden. He wasn’t consulted about every bombing raid, but there is some suggestion he supported the decision to attack Dresden, perhaps as a result of a request from Britain’s allies, the Russians.”

Visit the National Archives website to read:

Air Ministry Comments on Harris

Letter from Churchill on area bombing

Harris’ view on Dresden, 1945

Wings over Alberta

On December 17, 1939, two months after joining World War II, Canada signed on to the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). Far from Europe and destructive German attacks, yet closer to Britain than Australia or New Zealand, Canada was the ideal training ground for Commonwealth air force recruits.

Dozens of training schools opened across Canada, including 18 in Alberta. They impacted the economic, political and social life of dozens of communities and left a lasting impression on the Canadian landscape.

In small prairie cities and towns such as Vulcan, Claresholm and Medicine Hat, young airmen from around the world arrived to train for the battle that raged in the skies over Europe.

 A digital collection, including first hand recollections of those who trained in Alberta

Wings Over Alberta explores a unique period in the formation of the plan and the role that it played in Canada’s contribution to World War II.

Although no longer updated, the site is owned by the University of Alberta and includes links to original documents, photographs and stories.

Bomber Command: The major raids

The most famous wartime raids carried out by Bomber Command, with cuttings of how the Telegraph reported them at the time.