RAFMAF 'Spirit of the Battle of Britain' Banquet 2019

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‘Spirit of the Battle of Britain’ Banquet Thursday October 10, 2019 The Mayflower Hotel, Connecticut Avenue, Washington, D.C.

Honoring the 70th Anniversary of the RAF and USAF Operations during the Berlin Airlift


Together we defend freedom and deliver hope wherever we’re called. Boeing is proud to honor the Royal Air Force on the 70th anniversary of the Berlin air lift.

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WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION Major General (Ret.) Frederick F. Roggero USAF, President, RAFMAF



THE BERLIN AIRLIFT How the determination of the Allied air forces overcame the Soviet blockade of Berlin, which began in June 1948


THE CANDY BOMBER The inspiring tale of enterprising airman Gail Halvorsen, who helped raise the spirits of Berlin’s children during the blockade with the simple gift of candy


MERCEDES WILD How a young girl’s letter to the ‘Chocolate Pilot’ created a lifelong memory and led to an emotional meeting many years later


CAPTAIN DEREK HERMISTON A profile of the youngest pilot in command during the Berlin Airlift


REMEMBERING MI AMIGO The extraordinary story of how a chance encounter in a British park led to a flypast in memory of 10 US airmen THE SECRET SPITFIRES The true story of covert production of Spitfires during the Second World War, which stayed secret until being uncovered for the subject of a new film RAF MUSEUM REVIEW The RAF Museum reflects on its most successful year to date and shares its Vision to the year 2030 THE ROYAL AIR FORCE MUSEUM AMERICAN FOUNDATION SWORDS OF HONOR Recognizing the most outstanding RAF and USAF officers on exchange this year SWORDS OF HONOR 2019 CITATIONS Flight Lieutenant Dave Finn RAF and Lieutenant Colonel Tyler B. Smith USAF ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Cover: Citizens of West Berlin watch as a U.S. cargo plane arrives with vital supplies during the Berlin Airlift of 1948-49 Produced by Harfield Media Edited by Barry Davies Designed by J-P Stanway



Welcome and Introduction Major General (Ret.) Frederick F. Roggero, USAF President, Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation

THE ROYAL AIR FORCE MUSEUM AMERICAN Foundation (RAFMAF) is honored and proud to host the ‘Spirit of the Battle of Britain’ Banquet and would like to thank Air Chief Marshal Michael Wigston CBE, Chief of Staff of the Royal Air Force (RAF), for his and the RAF’s continued help in our efforts to preserve the heritage of the United States Air Force (USAF) and the RAF by keeping it alive in the memories of our two great nations. We are also delighted to welcome General David Goldfein, Chief of Staff USAF, to help us honor the outstanding service of the top RAF and USAF Exchange Officers of 2019. This year it is our great privilege to honor the 70th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift – the combined Allied operations that alleviated the blockade of Berlin, ensuring that the free people of the city could lead the lives they desired. In the following pages you can read how, during the 18 months of the Airlift, the inspiring Allied airmen flew over 92 million miles – almost the distance from the Earth to the Sun – and how, at the height of the operation, one plane reached West Berlin every 30 seconds.

Ultimately, however, it was the citizens of Berlin themselves who defeated the Russians. By their willingness to survive on a diet of dehydrated potato and to endure 20 hours a day without electricity and with precious little heat, the Berliners, inspired by the hope delivered by the Airlift, ensured that the Russians were defeated in the first major battle of the Cold War. We are very fortunate to have two of those airmen who delivered hope to the Berliners – Colonel (Ret.) Gail Halvorsen, USAF, also known as the ‘Candy Bomber,’ and Flight Lieutenant (Ret.) Derek Hermiston, RAF – participate in our celebration. Ms Mercedes Wild, who lived in Berlin as a child and was a recipient of these airmen’s efforts, will also take part in recognizing this celebration in the cause of freedom. It is also an honor for the Foundation to be able to recognize the continued close association between our active duty militaries by presenting two ceremonial Swords of Honor to the RAF and USAF Exchange Officers whose contributions have most reflected the values that our veterans, and the Foundation, share: Service, Excellence, Integrity and Courage. It is these values that we honor in our young women and men of today and encourage in the young people of tomorrow. Last year, we honored the pioneering ladies of the ATA and the WASP. During our research for that occasion we made a connection with film producer Ethem Cetintas, who had stumbled across the story of how 10% of the wartime production of Spitfires was carried out in secret in the English city of Salisbury. Mr Cetintas’s subsequent documentary has been shown in cinemas in the UK and, following an introduction by RAFMAF to the Foundation of the National Museum of the

 RAFMAF President Fred Roggero (right) with the late Wg Cdr Tom Neil, guest of honor at the 2015 Banquet



USAF in Dayton, Ohio, Secret Spitfires had its US premiere at their IMAX cinema in May and was shown at the Smithsonian in August. You will find the story of this documentary and Mr Cetintas’s research for the film later in this book. In pursuing its mission, RAFMAF continues to focus on education by supporting the RAF Museum Educational Learning Fund, to ensure that we can inspire the next generation by highlighting the shared values of the fighting airmen and airwomen of the past. Selected for suitability by the RAF Museum’s Chief Executive

Troops commemorate the Berlin Airlift alongside

the city’s memorial monument to the operation

Officer, the Fund’s works directly relate to and reflect the enduring joint relationship between the USAF and the RAF in war and peace. With our sponsors’ help, RAFMAF will continue to keep our combined and shared histories of air power alive. Thank you for attending tonight and for your continued support of the Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation.



Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston CBE ADC, Chief of the Air Staff, RAF

I AM DELIGHTED TO BE ABLE TO JOIN THE RAF Museum American Foundation’s annual ‘Spirit of the Battle of Britain’ dinner. It is an especial privilege to be able to commemorate the epic story of the Berlin Airlift, dining with the legendary Gail Halverson alongside one of our own veterans, Derek Hermiston, and Mercedes Wild, who, as a young Berliner, lived through those traumatic times. Words cannot do justice to the incredible effort of the Royal Air Force (RAF) and United States Air Force (USAF) during the winter of 1948-49. The Soviet Government had severed all surface access to Berlin and hoped to coerce the Western Allies to withdraw from the city altogether. The choice facing the West was to abandon Berlin or attempt to resolve the issue by force, potentially causing another World War. The almost inconceivable alternative was to attempt to sustain Berlin by establishing an airbridge to service the basic daily requirements for over a million people. In June 1948, scarcely anyone believed the task was possible. Over the succeeding 16 months, supported by crews from Australia, South Africa

and New Zealand, the RAF and USAF supplied 2.3 million tons of essential stores and equipment. The RAF and USAF created a Combined Airlift Task Force under the inspired leadership of General William H. Tunner. They sustained the airlift 24 hours a day, in all weather, innovating throughout with new technology and systems encompassing everything from traffic patterns and air traffic control to ground handling and aircraft maintenance. Everything the city required – from food, coal and petrol, to newsprint, bulldozers and steamrollers – was delivered by air. On September 23, 1949, the very last RAF aircraft to fly into Berlin had a biblical reference, Psalm 21 verse 11, painted on its nose. If the waiting groundcrew had a Bible handy they would have found the quote read: “For they intended evil against thee; they imagined a mischievous device, which they were not able to perform.” As we break bread together tonight, we can celebrate with enormous pride what our predecessors achieved in those dark days. It was one of the greatest humanitarian operations of the 20th century, delivered by sustained, determined and peaceful application of Allied air power.





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How the determination of the Allied air forces overcame the Soviet blockade of Berlin, which began in June 1948

The Berlin Airlift

AT HALF PAST SIX IN THE EVENING ON September 23, 1949 the wheels of a heavily laden Douglas Dakota transport aircraft of the Royal Air Force (RAF) lifted off the concrete runway at Lubeck airfield in the British Zone of Germany. Fifty-two minutes later, the aircraft landed in Berlin. As it rolled to a halt on the concrete apron at Gatow, the small huddle of men waiting to unload the aircraft’s cargo could see an inscription on the nose of the Dakota that read “Positively the last load from Lubeck, 73,705 tons”, conveying both the pride in a job well done and relief that many months of hard, back-breaking toil were over. For much of its flight from Lubeck, the Dakota had been flying in the airspace over the Soviet Zone of Occupied Germany. The air ‘corridor’ it flew along had been defined in written agreements made between the four occupying powers – Great Britain, the Soviet Union, the United States and France – in November 1945, and was some 20 miles wide. No such written agreement had ever been drawn up between the four powers

Known as ‘Operation Vittles’ in the US and ‘Operation

Plainfare’ by the British, the Berlin Airlift maintained supplies of food and fuel to a city of two million people

regarding access via land corridors to Berlin; the three Western Allies – the US, France and Britain – had not considered it necessary, since roads and railways were already in existence and no one had foreseen that the Soviets could deny their use to the Allies. That proved an expensive miscalculation when on June 23, 1948, the Soviets halted all rail and road traffic from the Western Zones of Germany to Berlin. In the early months of 1948, as the relationship between the four powers deteriorated, the British and Americans made contingency plans to support their garrisons in Berlin by airlifting supplies. In April, plans had been drawn up to fly in 65 tons of supplies per day, using two Dakota squadrons deployed from their base in England, and to fly out the families of the



Simultaneous loading and refueling of Airlift C-54s

was a routine operation at Wiesbaden Air Base 

The ‘Howgozit’ board at Fassberg kept personnel

informed of the number of flights and tonnage flown 

Flying the Berlin corridors required careful briefing

keep the West Berliners warm and fed. Stocks of food, petrol and solid fuel in the city were only enough for two to three weeks. No one seriously considered it a realistic prospect to provide food and fuel by air for a city of two million people over an extended period. The daily requirement for food alone was daunting: 900 tons of potatoes; 641 tons of flour; 106 tons of meat and fish; 105 tons of cereals, and so on, amounting to some 1,800–2,000 tons of food every day. A fully laden single Dakota could only carry about 2.5 tons.

garrison on the return flights. No consideration had been given to supplying the needs of the two million Berliners living in the Western sectors of the city. When the blockade was established, the problems faced by the Western Allies seemed dauntingly insoluble and the consensus opinion was that the option of attempting to force a land convoy through the Soviet blockade carried with it the real risk of precipitating a war with the Soviet Union. With no intention of a long-term attempt to counteract the blockade, but just to buy time for diplomacy, the Allies began the Airlift. The credibility of the Western position in Berlin hinged on the US and the RAF’s ability to

“SOMETHING MUST BE DONE” To do nothing was not an option, and when General Robertson, the British Military Governor in Germany, telephoned the Headquarters of the British Air Forces of Occupation on June 24, his message to the RAF was simple: “Something must be done, and something must be done at once.” As one of the RAF staff officers charged with




The last Operation Vittles flight was decorated

in recognition of the sheer volume of supplies that the United States Air Force had delivered to Berlin 

A total of 41 civil Halifax freighters were brought into

service during the Berlin Airlift, operating 4,653 sorties carrying freight and 3,509 carrying bulk diesel fuel

organizing the operation remarked, “Something at once” and “Do your best” hardly appeared to be the most well-considered instructions issued at the commencement of a military operation. It was to the credit of the newly formed United States Air Force (USAF) and the RAF that they were to prove their best was better than anyone in Berlin, London, Washington, Paris or, most importantly, Moscow, had a right to expect. The RAF portion of the operation was originally given the codename ‘Knicker,’ which prompted the humorists amongst the British Army in Berlin to tie underpants to the radio aerials of their vehicles. The name was soon changed to ‘Carter-Paterson,’ the name of a well-known British removal firm. This prompted the sarcastic and politically damaging comment that the British were intent on quitting Berlin, rather than helping the city. The codename was rapidly changed again to the more gentle ‘Operation Plainfare,’ and so it remained. The US codename for the operation was ‘Vittles.’ It was clear from an early stage that two squadrons of Dakotas totalling 16 aircraft would never be sufficient for the task. Bad weather, a lack of manpower and airfield infrastructure resulted

in a difficult start for the Airlift. The German weather contrived to produce thunderstorms, heavy, driving rain and continuous low cloud, even snow. When it wasn’t raining it was foggy, and it wasn’t until July 14 that the daily tonnage reached the target figure of 840 tons. FLYING BOATS On July 4, a new and unusual element to the Airlift was introduced. Two squadrons of Short Sunderland flying boats alighted at Finkewerder on the River Elbe amidst plumes of spray. The next day, any Berliner who happened to be strolling on the banks of the Havel close to Gatow in the early evening would have seen a large white aircraft swoop down over the shoreline and cut a neat furrow in the water. The Sunderlands had been stripped of much of their military equipment and were loaded with 10,000 lbs of supplies of salt, meat and cigarettes for the city. On their return they carried industrial goods or refugees.



more than 1,100 undernourished refugees, as well as the products of Berlin’s industry. The arrival of the Sunderlands, along with some Yorks, helped, but more aircraft were needed, and officialdom now turned to civil airlines. The initial need was for aircraft to fly liquid fuel into Berlin. Some drums of fuel had already been carried in on military aircraft, but this was both dangerous and inefficient.

The Russians protested at this unusual mode of transport, claiming that the flying boats had no right to be there. The RAF ignored their protests. The presence of the flying boats provided a muchneeded boost to the morale of Berliners in a city where entertainment was hard to find. Each day, especially Sundays, the banks of the Havel would be filled with spectators, curious to see these elephantine but graceful beasts landing and taking off. Their mere presence floating serenely on the water brought a measure of hope, along with the more tangible cargos in their bulging fuselages. By the end of the Sunderland operations six months later, the aircraft had carried 4,500 tons of food and brought out

FUEL SUPPLY The British turned to a specialist firm, Flight Refuelling Ltd, which was run by aviation pioneer Sir Alan Cobham, who had spearheaded the art of air-to-air refuelling in the United Kingdom and had available that rarest of commodities in 1948 – a fully equipped tanker aircraft. On July 27, the first civil flight of the Airlift was made by a Lancastrian tanker aircraft of Flight Refuelling Ltd, carrying a bulk load of petrol to Berlin. Flight Refuelling was not only first civil contractor to join the Airlift – with 12 aircraft and a crew of 32 men, who ferried in more than seven million gallons of domestic heating oil and diesel – it was also the last to leave. It was not only the delivery of fuel that became more sophisticated, but also the management of the whole operation. With aircraft from several different organizations – the RAF, the USAF, the US Navy and British Civilian airlines – it became obvious that a single coordinating authority was

American officers and crew from the Combined

Airlift Task Force at Tempelhof in July 1949 

RAF Dakotas on the unloading ramp at Tegel, the

Airlift terminal in the French sector of Berlin



necessary. A combined RAF/USAF headquarters, known as Combined Airlift Task Force (CALTF), under Major General William Tunner, was formed. This gave the Airlift a more recognizable and permanent status, and allowed the two air forces to plan a more rational use of their combined resources. At the start of the Airlift, aircraft were landing every 10-15 minutes, but after the introduction of rules and innovations by Tunner, by the end of the operation they were landing every three minutes. On the premise that Berlin’s industry would be vulnerable to a Soviet takeover, the decision was taken to fly goods out of the city on the return journeys to maintain their international markets. With the same rationale, and in order to ease the burden on the city authorities, around 150,000 people were flown out of the city, mainly the elderly, the very young and the sick.

A Lancastrian tanker aircraft from Flight Refuelling,

which carried bulk loads of oil and diesel into Berlin

available at the time was an arduous, dangerous and demanding task. Ultimately, however, it was the Berliners themselves who defeated the Russians. By their willingness to survive on a diet of dehydrated potatoes and to endure many hours a day without indoor light and with precious little heat, the citizens of Berlin, inspired by the Airlift, ensured that the Russians lost the first major battle of the Cold War. The Berlin Airlift officially ended on September 30, 1949, after 15 months. In total, the USAF delivered 1.8 million tons and the RAF half a million. The C-47s and C-54s together flew over 92 million miles in the process – almost the distance from the Earth to the Sun – and, at the height of the Airlift, one aircraft reached West Berlin every 30 seconds. Pilots came from the US, Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. A total of 101 fatalities were recorded as a result of the operation, including 40 Britons and 31 Americans – mostly due to non-flying accidents. The humor and spirit of the Berliners is exemplified by the comment of one who, when contemplating the difficulty of living in a blockaded city, turned to another Berliner and said: “Aren’t we lucky. Think what things would be like if the Allies were blockading us and the Russians were running the Airlift!”

SHARED SACRIFICES The British commitment to overcoming the blockade was illustrated by the diversion of grain ships from British to German ports, which resulted in the introduction of bread rationing in Britain – something that had not even happened at the height of the Second World War. But the sacrifices of British civilians in foregoing their daily bread cannot compare with the sacrifices made by the aircrews and people of Berlin. Flying around the clock on the Airlift in all weathers with the aircraft and equipment



The Candy Bomber The inspiring tale of how one enterprising airman helped raise the spirits of Berlin’s children during the blockade with the simple gift of candy

COLONEL GAIL SEYMOUR “HAL” HALVORSEN is a retired Air Force officer, pilot and spacecraft engineer known all over the world as the ‘Berlin Candy Bomber’ or ‘Uncle Wiggly Wings.’ He is famous for dropping chocolate and candy to German children during the Berlin Airlift. Born in Utah in 1920, he joined the United States Army Air Corp in 1942 after Pearl Harbor and earned both his Royal Air Force and US Army Air Corp wings in 1944. In 1948, after hearing that pilots were needed to circumvent the blockade by the Soviet Union of Berlin, he volunteered for the Berlin Airlift. While flying round-trips of C54s from the Rhein Main Air Base to Berlin’s Tempelhof

At his barracks, Lieutenant Halvorsen prepares

parachutes and candy for his next flight over Berlin

airfield, then Lieutenant Halvorsen met about 30 children who were lined up behind one of the barbed-wire fences in Berlin. They were destitute and asked for nothing, but told him to keep flying, saying, “because if we lose our freedom, we will never get it back.” As he left the children, he gave them two sticks of gum he had in his pocket. He told them he would drop some chocolate attached to parachutes for them the next day, and that they would know it was him because he would ‘wiggle his wings’.




The Candy Bomber and his fellow airmen dropped

their rations to the children using makeshift parachutes 

Halvorsen greets children waiting for him behind

the fence at Berlin’s Tempelhof airfield 

Pictured in 1948, Halvorsen visits children in a

hospital in Berlin and delivers candy

of candy were dropped into the city of Berlin and three more tons were distributed on the ground. During the 1950s and 60s, Halvorsen was assigned research and development duties with the Air Force Systems Command in aircraft research operations, and in the Air Force Space Program, while also continuing to fly. From 1970 to 1974, Colonel Halvorsen became Commander of Tempelhof Central Airport in Berlin and the United States Air Force Representative to the city of Berlin. He retired from the USAF in 1974.

That night Halvorsen, his co-pilot and his engineer pooled their candy rations for the next day’s drop and made three parachutes out of handkerchiefs. In the coming weeks, more parachutes were dropped and, eventually, the operation grew to include many pilots parachuting donations of candy. Halvorsen’s ‘Operation Little Vittles’ gained international attention, raised the morale of the Berliners during the blockade and won the hearts of the children. By the end of the Airlift, 20 tons



Since retiring from military service, Colonel Halvorsen has participated in countless commemorative events, school visits, met many world leaders and received numerous military and humanitarian decorations. He is Honorary President of the Halvorsen Foundation and is currently working to create a museum/STEMlearning center in Spanish Fork, Utah. Among his most prized medals are the German Bundesverdienstkreuz, 1974 and CAP Congressional Gold Medal, 2014. With his wife, Alta (deceased), he is father to five children, grandfather to 24, and great grandfather to 58. He lives in Utah and is married to Lorraine Pace of Arizona.

Colonel Halvorsen and wife Lorraine with President

George W Bush at Andrews Air Force Base in 2004

THE CANDY BOMBER: IN HIS OWN WORDS When I was a boy I would watch beautiful silver airplanes fly high in the sky, going to faraway places with strange-sounding names. I didn’t know then that when I grew up I would fly one of those silver birds myself. I never imagined I would fly food to boys and girls so they would not starve. My story is really about the people of Berlin, who valued freedom over food. The Russians promised them food if they agreed to live under Soviet rule, but they refused. They wanted to be free, even if that meant going hungry. Children felt this felt this way, too; “I can live on thin rations, but not without hope,” one 10-year-old boy told me. The Berlin children taught me to put principle before pleasure – to stand by what is important to you. The children I spoke to the first time did not beg for chocolate, although they had not had any for years. They were so grateful for flour they would not ask for more. Their pride and dignity moved me and I gave the 30 children all I had: two sticks of gum. That was just the beginning. All in all, my buddies and I ended up dropping over 20 tons of candy and gum during the next 14 months! Those two sticks of gum changed my life forever. I received many honors and gifts on behalf of the pilots who volunteered for the candy drops. However, all the gifts and other worldly things that resulted did not bring near the happiness and fulfilment I received from serving others – even serving the former enemy, the Germans, who had become friends. I had so much fun on my first drop of chocolate to the Berlin children. When I flew over the airport I could see the children down below. I wiggled my wings and the little group went crazy. I can still see their arms in the air, waving at me. I was able to give them a little candy and a little hope, but they were able to fill me up with so much more. Thank you to all those children. Prologue, written by Gail Halvorsen, from ‘The Story of the Berlin Airlift’s Chocolate Pilot’ by Michael O’Tunnell. Reproduced with permission.





Mercedes Wild How a young girl’s letter to the ‘Chocolate Pilot’ created a lifelong memory and led to an emotional meeting many years later

POST-SECOND WORLD WAR BERLIN WAS THE world in which Mercedes Wild grew up. It was still practically a war zone, even though the fighting had ended. The Russian Army exercised total control over city dwellers in its sector. Cigarettes were exchanged for shoes on the black market, even if they were different sizes. Eggs in Berlin in 1948 during the Russian blockade were more precious than gold and seven-year-old Mercedes looked after some white chickens in the small garden behind her apartment building. As the thundering planes of

the airlift roared overhead into Tempelhof airfield night and day, the chickens had simply stopped laying and, each morning, the nests were empty. Then the US bombers started dropping tiny improvised parachutes loaded with sweets. Mercedes writes: “Then, a little miracle happened. On the way to school, small parachutes came down from the sky. We were even allowed to go out during class if a lot of parachutes had landed in the schoolyard. When a plane arrived with sweets, it wiggled its wings. That was the sign. But I was always too slow, so I was never able to catch anything. One day, I came home crying and my grandmother told me: ‘Instead of whining, do something.’ “So I secretly wrote a letter and put it in the mailbox by myself, without any stamps! I wrote: ‘To my Chocolate Uncle, Tempelhof Airport. You fly over my house every day. You will recognize it because of the white hens. They do not lay anymore because they are afraid of planes. But when the little parachutes come, everything is alright.’ “After that, I did not get a parachute, but one day I received a letter addressed to Miss Mercedes Simon. The sender was Lieutenant Gail Halverson. I had seen a picture of him in the newspaper.

Mercedes at school during winter 1948-49




Mercedes’ first day

at school, wearing shoes of different sizes bought on the black market 

The letter Mercedes

received from her ‘Chocolate Uncle’ 

Mercedes and her

husband with Gail and two of her children at Tempelhof in 1972

“I found chewing gum and a very fl at lollipop inside the letter. I didn’t know chewing gum– nor the smell. It was peppermint. I didn’t like this smell. At that time, we had toothpaste without taste. That’s why I exchanged this chewing gum for a little glass ball at the children’s black market, a glass marble that I still own. “I kept the lollipop for Christmas. But the most important thing was the beautiful letter. I told my mother that I wanted to see this man, this pilot, my ‘Chocolate Uncle’, the one who wrote to me.” A few months later, in January 1949, Lieutenant Halvorsen flew out of Tempelhof for the last time at the end of his seven-month tour. He was sad to go, but knew the candy drops would continue with the help of trusted pilot friends. However, the Chocolate Pilot’s Berlin story wasn’t over – 22 years later, Halvorsen returned to Berlin as the new colonel in charge at Tempelhof and the U.S. Air Force’s representative to the city. One night, two years later, he accepted a dinner invitation from a young Berlin couple who lived in an apartment building near Tempelhof airfield. The young woman was also a pilot. From the cabinet

where she kept her treasures, she took out a letter. “Please read this,” she said to Colonel Halvorsen. The letter began: ‘Meine liebe Mercedes.’ “I ate the candy little by little,” Mercedes’ smile quivered as her eyes welled with tears of love and gratitude, “but I will keep the letter forever.” Mercedes showed Colonel Halvorsen the window where she had watched the planes and showed him the yard below where the white chickens had once lived. She had prepared chicken fricassee for dinner and Halvorsen asked her, “Is it from the hens you told me about?” She tried to tell him how much his gift had meant to her, but he knew. But how could he tell Mercedes the joy that had come to him from the two sticks of gum?



Captain Derek Hermiston A profile of Flight Lieutenant (Ret.) Derek Hermiston, the youngest pilot in command during the Berlin Airlift

DEREK’S FIRST FLIGHTS WERE WITH HIS father – Leslie, an ex-Royal Flying Corps pilot – when he was four years old. His love of flying was enhanced by the many aviators that visited their home, including Amy Johnson, Jim Mollison, Tommy Rose, Alex Henshaw, Fred and Blossom Miles and Air Commodore W Whitney-Straight CBE MC DFC. At school, Derek joined the Air Training Corps and managed to fly in Douglas Bostons, Albemarles, Oxfords and a Lysander, before joining the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1946. He was selected for pilot training and eventually elected to fly in Bomber Command. After the heavy conversion unit on Wellingtons, he was posted to 241 OTU to fly Halifaxes. The Halifax course was extensive and, after completion, being only 19 years old, he had to select his crew of six ex-wartime veterans, so he found himself in safe hands whilst in the air and educated into the nightlife of Manchester during the evenings. A chance meeting with Freddie Laker – who was forming one of the first charter companies, named Aviation Traders – resulted in a job offer and, on leaving the Service, Derek joined the company as a first officer flying a Dakota to and

Derek in the cockpit of a Gloster Meteor Mk 8, one

of 29 types of aircraft that he flew during his career

from Germany. This coincided with the Soviet blockade of Berlin. The UK Government chartered every available aircraft from the state-owned BOAC and independent airlines as the Allies commenced their logistical miracle of feeding, clothing and heating over two-and-a-half million people, a task perceived by many as impossible. Derek’s experience in flying Halifaxes was utilised by Laker’s new company, Bond Air Services, which had purchased 12 Halifax aircraft from the RAF. On emergency release from the RAF, he initially flew out of Schlegswigland to RAF Gatow as a co-pilot/navigator. After completing 85 trips over 248 hours, he was promoted to Captain and, in that role, completed a further 100 trips over 385 hours, flying from Hamburg into the French sector of Berlin to Tegel. During the Airlift, Derek flew a Halifax Mk 8 that was adapted to carry 45-gallon drums of gasoline and kerosene in the modified fuselage of the aircraft, and sacks of flour or sugar in the pannier underneath. The payload was seven tons.



Young Derek with movie starlet Lilian Hansen in 1935,

standing next to his father’s Avro Avian aircraft  

Derek with navigator Al Salvage (right)

Derek and fellow airmen in the Mess at RAF Dishforth

At Tegel during the Berlin Airlift, where Derek flew

aircraft chartered by the UK Government from BOAC

spanned several years, initially flying Dakotas into many parts of the world, until he was absorbed into British European Airways as a Captain. During an active flying career, Derek flew 29 types of aircraft and amassed 21,000 flying hours. As the youngest pilot in command during the Berlin Airlift, he received a decoration from Chancellor Helmut Kohl during the 50th anniversary celebrations in the city. Since the end of his commercial flying career, Derek has had a number of consultancy roles in working with the British Airports Authority and the Ministry of Defence, from which he retired in the year 2000.

The aircraft flew at the lower level in the Northern Corridor and were often buzzed by Russian MIG 9 and MIG 15 fighter. On arrival in Berlin, Derek was interviewed by Air Commodore Rex Waite (who devised the Airlift), who instructed him and two other tanker pilots to ditch their aircraft into the River Elbe or one of the many lakes surrounding Berlin in the event of engine failure or another serious malfunction. At the conclusion of the Airlift, Derek rejoined Laker to fly as a Line Captain and spent the winter of 1949-50 flying people to war graves throughout Europe, mostly families that wished to visit the graves of loved ones. Derek’s civil aviation career



Remembering Mi Amigo The extraordinary story of how a chance encounter in a British park led to a flypast in memory of 10 US airmen on the 75th anniversary of their tragic deaths

SHORTLY BEFORE 5PM ON 22 FEBRUARY 1944, Lieutenant (Lt) John Kriegshauser, a 23-year-old American pilot, found himself in grave danger: his B-17 Flying Fortress, nicknamed ‘Mi Amigo’, had been badly damaged by enemy fighters over Nazi-occupied Denmark. When Mi Amigo lost power over Sheffield, Lt Kriegshauser urgently looked for a place to land the damaged plane. The wide-open fields of Endcliffe Park presented the best emergency landing area, but, as the plane dropped rapidly, the crew saw that the park’s fields were full of children playing soccer. Narrowly avoiding the children, who mistook for waving the pilots’ frantic gestures to them to get out of the way, Lt Kriegshauser crashed

The crew of B-17 Flying Fortress Mi Amigo, who died

when the aircraft crash-landed in Sheffield in 1944

in mature woodland in the park. Smashing into a hillside, the aircraft exploded, killing all 10 airmen on board. No civilians on the ground were injured or killed. Had it not been for Lt Kriegshauser’s consummate skill – for which he was posthumously awarded the US Distinguished Flying Cross – it is assumed the death toll would have been considerably higher. Tony Foulds was eight years old that day, scrapping with his friends in the park. Later realising how he had misinterpreted the pilots’ gestures, he swore to honor the fallen airmen



The Mi Amigo memorial in Endcliffe Park, Sheffield

USAF Airman First Class Joshua Holsing cradles the

American flag at the memorial service for the crew of Mi Amigo, marking the 75th anniversary of the crash 

Members of the US Armed Forces salute at the

Mi Amigo memorial to honor those who lost their lives

and, for more than six decades, has visited the crash site to clear the memorial that was installed there in 1969, to plant flowers and to sweep away dead leaves. Tony’s story came to light following a chance encounter between him and BBC News presenter Dan Walker in Endcliffe Park, where Tony told the story and how it was his dream to see the men honoured by a flypast on the 75th anniversary of the crash. Walker went onto Twitter to ask a simple question – “How does one organise a flypast?” – and within 48 hours the momentum was gathering. The story took off around the world, particularly in the United States. On February 22, 2019, 75 years to the day of Mi Amigo’s fateful flight, aircraft from the United States Air Force and the Royal Air Force roared over the heads of thousands of people in Sheffield for a dramatic ceremony. Millions more watched online as the aircraft created a fitting tribute, not only to the heroes of the Mi Amigo, but to all US forces who died valiantly on foreign soil. Two days later in St Augustine’s Church, just minutes away from the memorial, a more intimate ceremony was held by the RAF Association (RAFA),

as it does every year, in recognition of the crew’s sacrifice. This year the local RAFA chaplain was presented with an American flag, flown in one of the F-15Es during the flypast, which will be raised each year in Endcliffe to mark the anniversary. There are numerous stories of servicemen who lost their lives in similar circumstances during the wars. On this occasion, one man’s dedication focused worldwide attention on the city of Sheffield and on the sacrifice of 10 American airmen who died 75 years ago.



The Secret Spitfires How the true story of covert production of Spitfires during the Second World War stayed secret, until finally being uncovered to become the subject of a new film

THIS IS WHAT THE FILM INDUSTRY WOULD refer to as a news scoop. A story that has been hidden away for over 75 years, known by very few, not even academic institutions. The story began in early 2015, when filmmaker Ethem Cetintas, who lives in Salisbury in the south of England, was told about a local historian, Norman Parker, giving talks about how Spitfires were built in the city. As this

had never been mentioned by anyone before, the claim was met with a degree of scepticism. Therefore, the first step was to research locally with those who had lived in the city during the war. It soon became evident that nobody had heard of a Spitfire being built anywhere other than Southampton, the location of the main Vickers factories that had been destroyed at the start of the war. After all, Salisbury was simply a small, rural cathedral city tucked away in the countryside of Wiltshire, with no connections with factories or industrial works. In order to clarify the story, a meeting was set up with Norman, on the assumption that it was ď °

New Spitfires, ready for the RAF. Around 10% of

wartime Spitfires were made secretly in Salisbury ď ´

Local historian Norman Parker with a Spitfire that

he worked on as a young engineer at Vickers RAF MUSEUM AMERICAN FOUNDATION


documentary film The Secret Spitfires, which would take more than four years to complete. In due course, more people who worked at the factories were found, along with details of how the decision was taken to disperse the manufacture of Spitfires to secret centres at Salisbury, Reading and Trowbridge, along with Southampton. There were 65 hidden units scattered around the south of England, with a workforce that never spoke about what they did, even to their parents and loved ones, until now. The Secret Spitfires has twice been shown in Odeon and Showcase cinemas in the UK, including a nationwide showing to celebrate last year’s centenary of the Royal Air Force. The RAF Museum and USAF Museum Foundation extended an invitation for the film to premiere at the USAF Museum’s IMAX cinema in Dayton for the 75th anniversary of D-Day in June, and the film had a further screening at the Smithsonian Museum’s IMAX cinema in Washington D.C. in August, to coincide with the Red Arrows’ recent tour.

only small parts that had been built in Salisbury for the war effort. However, following a few simple questions, it became clear that complete Spitfires had been built, in secret, right in the city centre – hidden behind facades of garages, bus depots, sheds, bedrooms and even a hotel. What was even more astounding was the claim that almost 2,500 – 10% of the total Spitfire war production – were built and flown out of Salisbury. Norman himself had been a Spitfire engineer who worked for Vickers, stationed at High Post, Salisbury – the final assembly and test unit, from where ATA women pilots flew Spitfires from its airfield. Even more surprising was that Norman’s photographs of the interior of the factories showed that the majority of the workforce were young girls and women working alongside boys, elderly men and a handful of Vickers engineers. Such a story of what ordinary people did in such extraordinary ways had to be told. Ethem and his film partner Karl Howman, known as Howman & Cetintas, went ahead to produce the



RAF Museum review

The RAF Museum reflects on its most successful year and shares its Vision to 2030

2018 MARKED THE CENTENARY OF THE Royal Air Force and the Museum was privileged to support it across the year as one of the partners in a formal Joint Venture with our sister charities the RAF Association, RAF Benevolent Fund and RAF Charitable Trust. Across both Cosford and London we had our most successful year since the Museum’s formation, welcoming a total of 989,000 people – a 39% increase. Of equal importance, the partnerships – and friendships – that have developed over the period give us a firm and inspiring foundation on which to build for the next chapter of the Museum’s history. The completed RAF Centenary Programme delivered four new exhibitions, developed as immersive learning spaces using innovative technology to engage visitors of all backgrounds and ages. Thanks to the support of the Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation (RAFMAF), we have been able to highlight the

importance of the US/UK global partnership across RAF history in our exhibitions, from the Second World War displays that include the magnificent North American P-51D Mustang, donated by Robert Charles Tullius, to the eyecatching presentation of a General Atomics MQ-1 Predator on loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force. The Programme supported the development of small-object conservation skills, additional apprenticeships and increased volunteering, and the continued sharing of over 1,479 items on loan. Our Access and Learning Strategy has driven the development and delivery of increased audience engagement with the RAF Story, whilst the priority has been to deliver activities and partnerships focused on STEM –science, technology, engineering and maths. The Cosford team, strengthening its partnership with the RAF, has worked on delivering innovative



The RAF is iconic to so many people in the UK and overseas, and we will continue to research and share its history and the stories of its global partners. Today’s men and women in the RAF are active on more fronts than ever in our increasingly complex world. We will ensure that these stories are at the top of our agenda through contemporary collecting and innovative programs that keep us relevant. By finding common interests and histories, we will connect with audiences that may not obviously identify with the RAF. This cannot be achieved in isolation, but rather by developing and nurturing meaningful partnerships around the world and investing funding strategically with partners that share our priorities. We look forward to continuing to work closely with RAFMAF to collect, share and celebrate the RAF’s enduring relationship with its closest international partner, the U.S. Air Force. To find out more about the RAF Museum’s Strategy 2030, visit: www.rafmuseum.org.uk/ about-us

programs such as the Summer Time Advanced Aeronautics Residential (STAAR). Our online community has grown through the delivery of projects such as RAF Stories – www.rafstories.org – where the experiences of RAF personnel, their families and global partners are shared. In 2019, this has included the addition of 25 stories about the Berlin Airlift, collected with the vital support of RAFMAF’s Learning Fund. AN AMBITIOUS, SHARED VISION Building on this success, the RAF Museum Trustees, our staff and our key partners have developed an ambitious, shared vision for our next 10 years to inspire everyone with the RAF Story, the people who shape it and its place in our lives. The Master Plan’s priorities are to complete the London transformation, while developing plans for our site at Cosford. Using immersive storytelling, we will continue to encourage reflection and debate across our spaces and programs to encourage curiosity in STEM.



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9/26/19 8:32 AM

Swords of Honor Each year, the RAF Museum American Foundation recognizes the contributions of Exchange Officers from either side of the Atlantic

IN 2009, THE FOUNDATION INSTITUTED the Sword of Honor, to be presented annually to the Royal Air Force (RAF) Officer on exchange with the United States Air Forces (USAF) who has contributed most in the previous year to relations between our two great nations and their air forces. In 2012, another Sword was added to recognize the most outstanding USAF officer on exchange with the RAF. The Swords, donated by RAFMAF Board member Tim Manna, are an embodiment of the Foundation’s mission to strengthen and educate present and future generations about the importance of the special UK/US relationship within the field of aviation. They symbolize the excellent work of Exchange Officers on both sides of the Atlantic. The original Sword is the same as that of a Royal Air Force Officer, made by British specialist Pooley’s Swords. It has a single-edged straight blade with a gold-plated brass hilt, white fish-skin grip, and a brass pommel in the form of an eagle. A stamped, gold-plated brass cartouche bears the bird emblem of the RAF. The Sword also bears the inscription: “Oh, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand”, a line from Francis Scott Key’s 1814 poem, The Star-Spangled Banner. It was flown from England to Everett, Washington, by RAFMAF Board member John Sessions in his Consolidated B-25 Mitchell Grumpy (which is particularly relevant this year, being an aircraft flown by so many WASP). This sword now hangs in the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. The second Sword, displayed in the Pentagon, is an exact duplicate, apart from the inscription from Winston Churchill regarding the RAF

At last year’s banquet, 2018 Sword of Honor winners

Squadron Leader Benjamin Durham and Lieutenant Colonel T Gwyddon Owen were presented with their awards by Air Marshal Stuart Atha (left), Deputy Commander Operations, RAF, and General Stephen W Wilson (right), Vice Chief of Staff of the US Air Force

pilots who came from many nations, including the United States, to fly in the Battle of Britain. It reads, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” Each winner of the Sword receives a miniature replica. Last year’s RAF Sword recipient was Squadron Leader Benjamin Durham, Director of Operations of the 94th Fighter Squadron, 1st Operation Group. The USAF Sword was awarded to Lieutenant Colonel T Gwyddon Owen, Military Advisor at the Ministry of Defence Science and Technology Laboratories (DSTL).



Flight Lieutenant Dave Finn 2019 Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation RAF Sword of Honor Recipient

FLIGHT LIEUTENANT DAVE FINN arrived at the 64th Aggressor Squadron in July 2016 as the RAF Intelligence Exchange Officer and quickly assumed the role of adversary doctrine, aircraft and tactics Subject Matter Expert (SME). As the Deputy and then Chief of Squadron Academics, he mentored and oversaw the certification of all personnel upgrading to the Aggressor SME standard. He has been routinely recognised as the top performing instructor within the 57th Adversary Tactics Group, and regularly delivered detailed, relevant threat analysis to all requesting units. Over the past three years, he has been personally requested to provide exceptional threat expertise to well over 1,500 personnel at more than 100 USAF, USN, USMC and Coalition units across the US, Europe and Asia. This included bespoke threat briefings for the US Air Warfare Center Commander’s initiative, the Australian Air Force’s 2* Air Combat Group Commander and the UK 3* Deputy Commander of Operations. In January 2019, Finn qualified as Red Force Mission Commander for the multinational Red

Flag Exercise, and has since been responsible for providing multidomain threat replication to its participants. He was instrumental in the delivery of the inaugural Nellis Aggressor Conference, for future air threat replication for the US Department of Defense, and in the creation and delivery of the first UK Intel training course for F-35. Finally, Finn planned and led the first 57th Adversary Tactics Group Mobile Training Team in five years, consisting of six Aggressor F-16s and 80 personnel, to provide adversary academic and flying training to USN and USAF units across California and Nevada. In summary, Flight Lieutenant Finn has been an outstanding ambassador for the RAF and the UK and has excelled as an Aggressor Threat Expert. His efforts have dramatically improved threat understanding of all the US and UK units he has taught, and he has fully embraced what it means to be an Exchange Officer. Flight Lieutenant Finn has been selected as the winner of the 2019 Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation RAF Sword of Honor.

Sponsored by





Lieutenant Colonel Tyler B. Smith 2019 Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation USAF Sword of Honor Recipient

LIEUTENANT COLONEL TYLER B. SMITH, Chief of Strategy, United Kingdom Joint Force Air Component (JFAC), was posted to the JFAC in July of 2017 and his Director, commenting on his exemplary work, said: “Lieutenant Colonel Smith was the most in-demand asset at the Royal Air Force (RAF) Headquarters.” Leveraging his experience as an F-35 instructor pilot, Smith furthered the understanding of fifth-generation aircraft capabilities and employment across the Ministry of Defence (MOD). He delivered tailored briefings to joint users from across the RAF, British Army, Royal Navy and Special Air Service on integrating fifth-generation tactics into current operations. Serving as JFAC Commander in the largest MOD wargame since the Cold War, he directed strategy and developed tactics that enabled fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft to tackle modern air defence systems and deliver close air support in high-threat environments. Smith developed, led, and evaluated a threeday, 60-event, air operations center command and control exercise with 100 staff members from the UK, USA and France that validated real-world

operational planning and strengthened coalition ties. Additionally, he led the offensive planning team for the 2019 700-participant NATO Exercise Ramstein Ambition, integrating 100 aircraft daily into six Air Tasking Orders and creating the first F-35 planning guide for NATO. Seconded to the Permanent Joint Headquarters, he led an operational planning team to develop a joint combat mission, which he presented to the Chief of Joint Operations. He authored a tactics improvement proposal for datalink operations in contested and degraded operating environments at the 2018 UK Weapons and Tactics conference, which was approved by the RAF Deputy Commander of Operations for development. The Sword of Honor represents the eternal brotherhood of RAF and USAF officers, and Smith personifies the spirit and purpose of the exchange program and has strengthened both the ties between our two nations and the shared role in building our allies’ strategic capacity. In recognition of his efforts over the past 12 months, Lieutenant Colonel Smith has been selected as this year’s winner of the RAF Museum American Foundation USAF Sword of Honor.

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Acknowledgments The Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation would like to thank: National Museum of the United States Air Force for providing photos and background www.nationalmuseum.af.mil Christopher Bennett for Spitfire pins www.tmbartmetal.com EthemMedia for photographic and video production www.secretspitfires.com/the-filmmaker The USAF Band, Airmen of Note for providing tonight’s entertainment www.music.af.mil



Board of directors PRESIDENT Major General (Ret.) Frederick F. Roggero USAF President and CEO, Resilient Solutions Ltd VICE-PRESIDENT Stuart K. Archer Director, Army Executive Travel, Headquarters Department of the Army

Kevin W. Billings Chief Executive, Legation Strategies; Honorary Group Captain, 601 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force Roberto I. (Bert) Guerrero Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Operational Energy Gary L. Halbert Partner, Holland & Knight LLP; Colonel (Ret) USAF

DIRECTORS Tim Manna Sir Stuart Matthews Fellow, Royal Aeronautical Society Lt Col (Ret.) Christine Mau USAF F-35 Contract Instructor Pilot, Lockheed Martin Craig McVay Vice President, Defense Relations, Rolls-Royce North America, Inc

John C. Michaelson Managing Partner, Michaelson Capital; Honorary Group Captain, 601 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force Charles S. Scaperotto Director, Boeing John Sessions Chairman, Historic Flight Foundation Scott Thompson Partner, Assurance Leader, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Matt Keegan President and CEO, SELEX Galileo Inc. – a Leonardo company

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Angela M. Coleman MRAeS DIRECTORS EMERITUS Alan Spence Robert Tullius EX-OFFICIO DIRECTORS Air Commodore James E. Linter OBE RAF Maggie Appleton MBE Air Attaché, British Embassy Chief Executive, Royal Air Force Museum RAF MUSEUM AMERICAN FOUNDATION


Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation One Metro Center, 700 12th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 Tel: +1 (202) 558 5121 Email: usfoundation@rafmuseum.org Web: www.rafmaf.com

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