Pleased to offer some unique items from a friend of mine who is lucky enough to work with many of the veterans on behalf of military artists, book publishers and documentary makers.Glossy book plate / card with biographical details
THE last surviving member of a secret RAF squadron who helped save Russia from defeat by Nazi Germany has finally revealed the truth about his wartime heroics.
Eric Carter was a 21 year-old fighter pilot in 1941 when he boarded a blacked-out train in Hull with his 81 Squadron and taken to Liverpool.
The young airmen were then ushered on to a waiting ship and set sail for the open seas, still none the wiser about their destination.
Eric was part of Force Benedict, a clandestine operation to save the strategically vital Russian port of Murmansk.
It was being targeted by the Nazis who were marching relentlessly towards Moscow.
The mission to protect the port and train Russian fighter pilots was top secret because Stalin did not want the world to know he needed British help to defeat the invading Germans.
And such was the secrecy surrounding the ultimately successful operation, that it was largely forgotten for nearly 70 years.
That is until the chance discovery earlier this year of a medal awarded to Force Benedict’s Wing Commander, Group Captain Henry Neville Gynes Ramsbottom-Isherwood.
He was one of only four non-Russians awarded the nation’s highest military award, the Order of Lenin, which was sold at auction in Sothebys this week for £46,000.
Eric, now 89 and living in Chaddesley Corbett, Worcestershire, revealed how he and his comrades were plunged into a grim battle of life and death in the skies above the port on the edge of the Arctic circle.
He said: “Force Benedict was a very well kept secret.
‘‘Stalin did not want his people to know that he had asked the West for help and we were threatened with a court martial if we said anything.
‘‘I was young and must have been mad, but perhaps we were just a tougher generation. I knew the average lifespan in the air was just 15 minutes but I was determined to volunteer after hearing the atrocities the Germans had carried out on the Russians.”
Eric had joined the RAF in 1939 and was initially posted to the famous 615 Squadron who were recuperating in Wales following the Battle of Britain in 1940.
He served with them for a year, defending the skies over Liverpool and Manchester, before being transferred to 81 Squadron. Alongside 134 Squadron, they made up 151 Wing which was sent to save Murmansk.
Eric said: “Murmansk was a pivotal point in the war. It was Russia’s Battle of Britain, the battle for their very survival, and we had to hold on to the port at all costs.
From the Sunday Mercury.net
Card measures 3 ¾” x 5 ¾”
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