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1941 Service

 

 

 

U-Boat Hunters

At the beginning of 1941 Flight Lieutenant Baker had already done 1000 hours of active service flying.

 

Coastal Command Sunderland, from CB 04050/41(9) Monthly Anti-Submarine Report September 1941

Coastal Command Sunderland2

 

"My Skipper, who taught me all I know about flying-boats, was a South African-Flight Lieutenant A. S. Ainslie. He won the D.F.C. He was the grandest chap I've ever known we used to call him Angel. Unfortunately he got shot down by a U-boat (June 29th, 1940),"

 

A U-boat of a Different Kind

6 January 1941

Reg met a U-boat of a different kind.

 

After flying through miserable weather for hours, rain and snow, they suddenly broke into clear skies. 

Reg in the Sunderland cockpit: 21 January 1941

It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen in my life. We stuck the nose of the aircraft into clear weather while the tail was still enveloped in clouds. As the second pilot and I blinked in the sudden light and looked ahead we both sighted a submarine at the identical moment, turned our faces to each other and howled in unison ďSub!Ēí

 

The U-boat was only a few miles away, on the surface. Reg dove for his enemy, recognising it as an Italian submarine, and men were clearly seen on the conning tower. These men quickly realised they were about to attacked, hastily returned inside the sub, the tanks flooded and the submarine began to submerge. But they were too late, with part of the stern still showing Reg Baker placed his explosives either side.

His rear gunner reported the sight

ĎThereís a sheet of metal about six feet by four, just been hurled out of the sea all torn and twisted. Ď

Fountains of water caused by the release of air gave further evidence of the submarines demise.

              

Photograph taken during the attack on a U-boat in the Bay of Biscay by Sunderland U/10 Squadron RAAF, June 1942. Taken from CB 04050/42(6) Monthly Anti-Submarine Report June 1942

Photograph1 taken during the attack on a U-boat in the Bay of Biscay by Sunderland U/10 Squadron RAAF, June 1942.

One of Regís crew is known to have remarked Ď

If we donít win this war, the crew of this aircraft will be in a devil of a mess

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Reg Receives his DFC

3 March 1941

 

Reg and Norma went to Buckingham Palace to receive from the King his DFC.

Norma and Reg at Buckingham Palace

Written on the back 'Collecting Reg's DFC from the King, 30 June 1941, my 21st birthday'

 

 

[click for larger image]

 

 

 

Reg with Susan

 

He is at least 6 feet two inches tall, with a spare figure, very blue eyes, a small fair moustache to set off a well-cut mouth and firm chin, and a natural wave in his fairish hair. Very modest, quiet of speech with a sense of humour.

 

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 April 1941

Reg travels with 14 others, all experienced operational pilots or observers to Ottawa, Canada, to attend a specialist navigation course.  He embarked on the ANC Derbyshire which took a route via Iceland to arrive in Halifax on 20 April. He was 'stooked' (commandeered) to act as the ship's adjutant for the voyage.

 

There then followed a two day train journey to Montreal.

 

On arrival Reg was told that he would not be attending the course after all, and probably be diverted to ferrying between Bermuda and England.

 

Reg's letter describes the frustration:

 

Mount Royal Hotel
Montreal
Canada

As you can see I am still stuck in this sink of iniquity!!!  In the usual Air Force manner I am not going on my course - they have decided to do something else with me.  As yet they haven't made up their minds.  Actually I am fairly sure they are going to put me into ferrying which means flying between Bermuda and England.

Incidentally I am sending this home by air - Jim Mollison (Amy Johnson's husband) is flying back in a few days.

Ramon Navarro is staying here too, and last night I had a drink with him - I must confess I wasn't very much impressed, although of course all the women simply stand and stare at him - it really is amazing.

 

5th May 1941

Reg writes home to say that he expects to be home in England within 14 days

23rd June 1943

Reg is still in Bermuda and writes:

....There is quite a good chance of my doing the course that I came over here originally for...

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Freedom of Doncaster

30 June 1941

Reg is given the Freedom of the borough of Doncaster.

 

 

Norma receives the Freedom of Doncaster on behalf of Reg

 

 

 

Reggies Freedom Certificate

 

[click for larger image]

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5th August 1941

Reg eventually arrives back in England

 

28th August - 15 September 1941

Reg travels back to Port Albert, Goderick, Ontario Canada by sea.  He was again 'stooked' to be the ship's adjutant.

 

 

Ontario speech

 

15 September 1941

Reg begins his specialist navigation course (until 26 December).

 

14 October 1941

Whilst there Reg gave numerous talks in Canada and the USA on the current state of the air war in Europe.

 

Reg addressed the Joint meeting of Kiwanis and Optimist Clubs of Sarnia (Ontario) and he made his feelings quite clear.

 

Excerpt:

My profession, since the war started is killing and I enjoy it. I donít know anything I like better than when I am killing Nazis. Some people say we are fighting for the countries Germany has defeated. We are not only fighting for them. We are fighting for our very existence. If we lose this war there will be no Britain. It will be all over for us. If you keep this in mind you will somewhat understand our cruelty and our feelings. We will fight to the bitter end.

 

Our job in the RAF is two fold. Any army that tries to operate without the cooperation of an air force is completely lost. This was shown in Greece in Crete and in France. I saw it myself in Norway. I saw troops go down the sides of mountains and be bombed 24 hours a day. They were completely helpless. Our primary task is to be ready when our army is ready to send out an expeditionary force. Then we will begin to wipe the Germans out of the sky. We look forward to nothing so much as this.

 

This war is a grim business, but you can get a lot of fun out of it. I started out with 39 other air force men. Now there are only three left. Only a few of them are prisoners of war. One of the things the Germans canít understand about us is the careless way we speak of our buddies who have been killed. We have to speak that way. If we kept thinking of them, we couldnít keep going.

 

He also intimated at the change of tactics since the Battle of Britain

 

We are rapidly arriving at numerical equality with the German Air Force. I donít think we have arrived there yet, but we have the superiority in the air. Last year the air battle line was over Britain. Now it is over France, well pushed back. Our boys have to go over there for a fight now. Air superiority canít be decided in a day and stay in the same position for a week. It changes every day.

[top]

 

The course goes well for Reg:

 

3rd November 194
Port Albert
Ontario
CANADA .

Nothing but work and more work...we have had a few examinations and my average is 85%......I have arranged for you to receive a parcel of food etc. every fortnight...

 

 

There was a small printed  slip with the letter:

Postal Censorship

YOU ARE REMINDED THAT IT IS NOT PERMISSIBLE TO RECEIVE A PARCEL OF RATIONED GOODS OR OF FOOD (WHETHER RATIONED OR UNRATIONED) FROM OVERSEAS, UNLESS IT REPRESENTS A GENUINELY UNSOLICITED GIFT RECEIVED ON AN ISOLATED OCCASION .

 

 

 

Reg returns to 210 Squadron

December 1941

 

Reg returns to the UK and goes back to 210 Squadron having passed his Specialist Navigation Course with 85% top mark for the course.

 

210 Squadron were now fully equipped with Catalina flying boats.

 

Catalina

 

 

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[to 1942]

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1. Taken from CB 04050/42(6) Monthly Anti-Submarine Report June 1942

2. Taken from CB 04050/41(9) Monthly Anti-Submarine Report September 1941

This page last updated:Monday 22 December 2008

 

Table of contents detailing updates added here
 
RAF Lasham 1942-48 - a project by Trinny.  Please click here to view

Victory Fighters: The Veterans' Story - Winning the Battle for Supremacy in the Skies Over Western Europe, 1941-1945
By Stephen Darlow

Victory Fighters is largely a collection of eye-witness accounts of the struggle that raged in the skies over occupied Europe after the Battle of Britain. Reg Baker is one of the six featured pilots.

Stephen Darlow has been a major support and contributor to this website do please visit the website of this excellent Military Aviation author.

[Link]


 



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