Behind the Scenes of a War

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Leslie Bruce Thomas (1921-2013) in RAF uniform

On the night of April 25, 1945 LAC (Leading Aircraftsman) Thomas was involved with the last operational mission for Bomber Command No. 35 Squadron based at R.A.F. Graveley in Huntingdonshire, England.  This last mission would provide tons of vitally needed medical supplies to the Allied men on the ground in Germany and occupied France prisoner of war hospitals.  Lancaster bombers were fitted with specially adapted medical supply baskets which were dropped by parachute behind enemy lines.  LAC Thomas, ground crew at RAF Graveley, was involved in the adaptation of the baskets as is indicated by the letter below, sent from the Group Captain Commanding the R.A.F at Graveley to the Station Armament Officer and on which LAC Thomas’ name and military number is written by hand.  The copy of the letter is poor but a transcription is below.

 

LeslieBruceThomas1921_MilitaryLetter

From: – Royal Air Force, GRAVELEY, Huntingdonshire.               LAC Thomas (896)
To:     – Station Armament Officer
Date:  – 27th April, 1945
Ref:    – GY/s.933/P.1

MEDICAL SUPPLY BASKETS

            The ingenuity and effort put forth by your section in adapting the Medical supply baskets for dropping by No. 35 Squadron on the night of 25th April, has earned glowing praise from higher places.

  1. Your section will no doubt be gratified to know that all the supply Baskets were accurately delivered to a prisoner of War Hospital housing British and American aircrew where the death rate had been in the region of eight to ten per day, due to shortage of medical supplies. This position is now relieved and I am sure your section will consider that fact just reward for their efforts.
  1. Would you please pass this information to the personnel concerned, along with my thanks for furthering Graveley’s reputation for reliability, ingenuity and initiative.

 

G.F. Grant (Sgd)
Group Captain Commanding
Royal Air Force,
GRAVELEY.  Hunts.

Not every man saw armed combat but many behind the scenes contributed just as much to the war effort.  The men and women of R.A.F. Graveley No. 35 Squadron participated in over 1000 bomber raids with many losses of life.  A memorial stained glass window of the Parish Church of All Saints in Offord Cluny, Huntingdonshire serves to honor the memory of all the airmen and airwomen who served with 35 Squadron at Graveley.

LeslieBruceThomas1921_pathfinder-window-aircraft
Stained glass window at All Saints Church from website https://allsaintsoffordcluny.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

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