|by Bill Bawden, PRO|
19 August 2008
Flying in the Secret War
The recent meeting of the AirCrew Association at Fairoaks Airport included an illustrated talk by Woking resident Bill Moore who, as an RAF navigator in World War II, flew secret missions to take agents to and from occupied Europe.
The "Special Duties" squadron to which Bill was assigned was equipped with a variety of aircraft including Whitleys, Stirlings, Halifaxes, Hudsons and Lysanders. The first three types were used to parachute agents and supplies and the other two actually to land to deliver and collect the people engaged in these perilous activities. Security was intense and, to ensure their mutual safety should either be captured, there was minimal contact between aircrews and their passengers. It was only later that Bill discovered that one of the agents he had delivered into occupied France had been Odette Samson who was captured by the Gestapo, imprisoned in Ravensbruck concentration camp, but survived and was subsequently awarded the George Cross.
At the end of the war Bill's duties switched to taking part in "Operation Manna", the parachute-dropping of food to the starving population of the Netherlands, and the repatriation of freed British prisoners of war.
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