Thumbs Up!

— is the "all well" symbol of the British these days.
C G Grey
Kingston-On-Thames, October 15th.
by special cable to Aviation magazine

The Marshal of The Royal Air Force, Sir John Salmond, when Chief of Airstaff after defense exercises five or six years ago, said that some of the enemy bombers will always get through. He is now using his high intelligence and great experience on the problem of stopping them. With him is associated Air Marshall Sir Philip Joubert Delaferte, whose broadcasts in England and the States have been among the most heartening and impressive of official utterances on the air war. Marshal of the RAF, the Viscount Trenchard, has all along preached bombing the other fellow to stop him from starting. That policy is also being actively pursued. The idea before the war was to develop sea interceptor fighters, but that was purely a defensive weapon and all here agree that defense is the first stage of defeat, as it was in France. Offense is the only reliable defense. Hit first and keep on hitting constantly.

In daylight and clear weather little harm is done to London or other important centers by Nazi bombs. Remember that London is not England, Scotland, Wales or North Ireland. When the Germans start in the early morning from France, Belgium, Holland, Germyny, or even Denmark or Norway, they are met often far out at sea by our fighters and brought down in the proportion of anything between three and ten Germans to one of ours. And every German brought down is dead or a prisoner. Most of our pilots escape by parachute. When clouds are thick and low, enterprising Germans sometimes get through and bomb wildly and disappear, but they are followed by sound locators and the anti-aircraft guns, working with predictor machinery. The sound locators fire at the sound through the clouds and box the raiders in a barrage which always drives them away. Above the clouds they are beset by the fighters. On clear moonlight nights the sound locators track the sound of enemy engines. Their course is plotted by a special staff at the fighter command. Heavily-armed night fighters are warned by radio to go in that direction and hunt for them. Searchlights show them up. The rest is easy. 0n thick nights things are not so good. Searchlights are useless and fighters cannot find the enemy without help from the ground, so the guns fire by sound through the clouds. But if the clouds are low, star shells and tracers show the whereabouts of the enemy to the fighter above, and they go looksee, often with good results. Without being over-optimistic I do believe that there are new weapons being developed which will enable the RAF to sink the enemy in the dark as well as in daylight. So far they are only being tried out experimentally. The Germans are trying all sorts of bombs, both big and little, high explosives, delay action, or time bombs, land mines, incendiaries, and a good proportion of duds that don't go off.

The real heroes of defense are the chaps who dig up the time bombs and hurry them to wide open spaces The other heroes are the amateur firemen, the ambulance folk, the gunners, searchlighters, and sound locators. Even the night-flying pilots have cushy jobs by comparison. But they all admire one another so the are all happy. London still carries on and is not noticeably altered in shape. If it were all destroyed England would still carry on. Sirens, however, are nuisance.

The roof-spotter system on factories and offices work directly with the listening posts and depends on individual judgment. The results have been excellent in keeping up man-hours and the production of munitions and in preserving life.

This article was originally published in the November, 1940, issue of Aviation magazine, vol 39, no 11, pp 30-31.
In the original article, p 30 is a page with 3 photos.
Photos credited to British Combine, Wide World, International.

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