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BOAC Flights to Sweden 1942

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Hebz, Sep 24, 2017.

  1. Hebz

    Hebz New Member

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    I'm carrying out some research into SOE operations in Sweden during WW2. Can anyone help?

    Specifically, I need to learn more about BOAC commercial flights from the UK to Sweden. I have documentary evidence that such a flight took place on 9 November 1942 from Perth Airport, Scotland to Stockholm. What type of aircraft was used and how did it route to avoid the attentions of Axis aircraft? How long did the flight take?

    Any help would be much appreciated.

    Hebz
     
  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Later in the war an uncle of mine made a flight from Britain to Sweden. The flew at night in an unarmed, black painted, B-24. He didn't mention an exact date but I'm guessing late 44 or 45 so I'm not sure how relevant that was.
     
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  3. Hebz

    Hebz New Member

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    Thanks, lwd. What you describe sounds like a perilous undertaking. The late-1942 flight I mentioned took place shortly after the establishment of BOAC. (The BOAC website in unhelpful.) At some point the company operated flights from the UK to Moscow using DC-3s but I can find no information about the routing. Could they really have directly crossed Nazi-occupied Europe unscathed?

    I'm aware of another documented flight between the UK and Sweden. This took place on or about 24 March 1943. The ticket for the passenger was bought in Stockholm. I have no further information regarding type of aircraft and the route followed.

    Hebz.
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If they routed themselves around Germany there may not have been much in the way of radar coverage. You might want to look for maps with German radar sites and times they were established. Also planes flying to/from Sweden wouldn't be much of a threat night fighters were probably detailed more for defense vs bombers. I wonder if the flights to Moscow stopped in Sweden? I think the flight my uncle was on was in some way connected to the OSS. He did mention that they parked their plane at one end of the runway which was separated from a Norwegian internment camp by a single strand of barbed wire. They also had bench seats in the bomb bay but weren't suppose to look into it until they were back in the air. Imagine their surprise when it was full of Norwegians. My uncle only did one flight each way but apparently it was a fairly regular run. I wonder if some Norwegians accounts exist. He also mentioned by the time he flew there that the Swedes had set p to lines at customs and that they were speaking German in the other line. Likewise the restaurants and hotels were apportioned to either allied or German custom.
     
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  5. Hebz

    Hebz New Member

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    Hi lwd. Your suggestion that UK flights to Moscow might route through Stockholm makes a lot of sense. However, I'm a bit confused by your mention of a "Norwegian internment camp" being near the end of the runway in Sweden. Why would Norwegians be interred in Sweden?

    We have one UK National Archive files and are awaiting delivery of files from Sweden. My Norwegian colleague is on top of the situation in Oslo.

    BTW: Do you have a date for when the Germans established an operation network of radar stations?

    Again, many thanks for your help. Hebz.
     
  6. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Some Norwegians escaped from Nazi occupied Norway after the German invasion. If they were belligerents such as members of the Norwegian military they were required to be interned under international law. The Swedes also had internment camps for the allies and Axis forces but were much more by the book with them. I remember my uncle saying that the one US flyers were held in was well north of Stockholm. He did get to meet up with a friend of his who was interned there (passes were apparently available to visit Stockholm.

    As for German radar deployment I have seen maps and read articles but don't remember exactly when or where. Here's a link to the wiki article on Germany's early air search radar:
    Freya radar - Wikipedia
    Sounds like minimal early deployment to Norway or Denmark. More info is available here as well:
    Radar in World War II - Wikipedia
    and here:
    Kammhuber Line - Wikipedia

    I'll keep an eye out for more info although we may get some of the more knowledgeable members joining in soon as well.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2017
  7. Hebz

    Hebz New Member

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    Hi again, lwd

    Thanks for the "Norwegian camp" explanation. I'll get back to you when I've had a chance to read more about German radar.

    Hebz
     
  8. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Member

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    Hi Hebz

    I note on Wiki that BOAC started life in 1940 - and was also famous for the Ball Bearing runs it made to Sweden, so I would assume they were flying from Scotland to Sweden on a 'regular basis'

    British Overseas Airways Corporation - Wikipedia
    On 24 November 1939, BOAC was created by Act of Parliament to become the British state airline

    In late 1942, the new hard-surface airport at Lisbon permitted the use of civil registered Liberators to North and West Africa and Egypt. Arguably, BOAC's most famous wartime route was the 'Ball-bearing Run' from Leuchars to Stockholm (Bromma) in neutral Sweden. Initially flown with Lockheed 14s and Lockheed Hudson transports, the unsuitable Armstrong Whitworth Whitley "civilianised" bombers were also used between 9 August and 24 October 1942 ("Civilianised" meant that all the armaments and unnecessary guns and turrets had been removed, a legal requirement for operating a commercial civilian service to a neutral country). The much faster civilian registered de Havilland Mosquitoes were introduced by BOAC in 1943. The significance of the ball-bearings is debatable, but these night flights were an important diplomatic gesture of support for neutral Sweden which had two DC-3s shot down on its own service to Britain. Other types used to Sweden included Lockheed Lodestars, Consolidated Liberators, and the sole Curtiss CW-20 (C-46 prototype) which BOAC had purchased; these types had more payload, and some had the range to avoid the German-controlled Skaggerak direct route.

    Also worth looking at is:
    Ball-bearing Run - Wikipedia

    Ball-bearing Run was the nickname of a war-time flight Stockholmsruten between Stockholm and Leuchers, Scotland. The flight was run by the Royal Norwegian Air Force, but for political reasons operated as an ordinary BOAC Flight, aircraft having civilian registration and the Norwegian military crew wearing BOAC uniforms and British passports.[1]
    The Stockholmsruten was set up by the Norwegian Government, exiled in UK with the aim of transporting Norwegians having escaped from Nazi-occupied Norway. Several types of aircraft were used, but the backbone of Stockholmsruten was the Lockheed Lodestar
    Since the aircraft also carried ball bearings, of greatest importance to the British war industry, the flight got its nickname in UK

    TD

    edited to add:
    Mosquitoes were also used and as an assumption would possibly have carried SOE personnel.

    BOAC Mosquitoes - PPRuNe Forums
     
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  9. Hebz

    Hebz New Member

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    Hi TD

    Thanks for this. I had seen the BOAC entry before, but not the stuff about ball bearings. (The history pages in British Airways' website are not much use.)

    I'm fascinated by the idea of putting passengers on board a Mosquito. One assumes they had to modify the bomb bay. In the case of the flight I mentioned in my original post the passengers were a woman with a seven-month old baby. I think that would make a flight in an uncomfortable, unheated aircraft something of an ordeal.

    Hebz
     
  10. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Member

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    Hi Hebz

    Been celebrating my birthday so a little delayed in replying

    I think to be honest the 'comfort' was in removing oneself from a very uncomfortable situation in Nazi-occupied Europe, or Russian encroaching Baltic, a little discomfort goes a long way.

    TD

    edited to add:

    Mosquito Variants
    PR.IV Unarmed photo-reconnaissance aircraft. Like the B.IV, but with provision for cameras instead of bombs. A variant of the PR.IV was supplied to BOAC as the prototype Mosquito courier-transport. 'Accommodation' for the two passengers was on their backs in the felt-padded bomb bay.

    [​IMG]
    A passenger (right), who has been carried in the bomb-bay of a 'civilianised' De Havilland Mosquito FB Mark VI of BOAC on the fast freight service from Stockholm, Sweden, with Captain Wilkins and his navigator on arrival at Leuchars, Scotland
    de Havilland Mosquito operational history - Wikipedia
     
  11. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    On a somewhat related note. I distinctly remember , remember my mind will be 78 in January ! :) an article about the Swiss running a diplomatic flight at a precise time to Lisbon from Geneva with the knowledge of the Allies and Axis on a fairly often basis. Diplomatic types and pouches only, no military personnel.

    I have looked for months and cannot find anything about it now.. Anyone ever heard of such or am I going crazy :) !!

    It sounds plausible ., to both sides advantage, well depending on what time in the war, but could well be untrue .
     
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  12. Hebz

    Hebz New Member

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    A belated Happy Birthday, TD! 8)

    I just meant that a flight on a noisy Mosquito (brilliant aircraft that it was) would have been hell for a young woman with a baby. The passenger in the photo, a healthy adult male by the looks of it, is pretty well wrapped-up. If there was space for two passengers then a woman + baby would leave room for a teenager!

    Hebz
     
  13. Hebz

    Hebz New Member

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    Your memory does not fail you, gt. I read about the Lisbon - Geneva service. I can't recall where (I'm 73 in December!) but I'll try and track it down again.

    My Norwegian colleague tells me that, from late-1943 when it had become clear that Germany was going to lose the war, Sweden relaxed its controls and air-to-Sweden, by land-to-Norway became the preferred route for SOE, SIS and OSS agents getting to Norway. Doing it by sea had become far too slow and dangerous.

    Hebz.
     
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