Harry Brabin memoir



Harry Brabin memoir


Harry joined the Royal Australian Air Force on 25 June 1942 as a wireless operator/air gunner and received his initial training in Australia before going to Canada for his trade training.

He sailed on the SS Johan Van Barneve to San Francisco and recounts a day sight-seeing before travelling by train to Edmonton where he became friends with a family of German descent.

He then went to No. 2 Wireless School, Calgary and he describes his social life, playing sports and his membership of the Young Men's Christian Association and a local United Church group. At Christmas he and two friends hitch-hiked back to Edmonton where they were invited into various houses for food and drinks.

Harry was then sent to Mossbank for his bombing and gunnery course. He learned about the Browning machine gun and practised air to air gunnery against a drogue towed by a C64 Norseman. On completion he was promoted to sergeant and posted to Halifax for further training. Around this time his trades were divided and he would never use his gunnery skills on operations.

At Halifax he developed appendicitis and had a busy social time on sick leave in New York, courtesy of American generosity. On completing his training at Halifax Harry travelled to Liverpool on the RMS Queen Elizabeth and then by train to Brighton.

On 17 August 1943, he was posted to No. 4 (Observer) Advanced Flying Unit, RAF West Freugh and learned astral navigation. He dated a girl in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force but narrowly avoided marriage by quickly taking leave he was owed.

On 20 October 1943 he was posted to 27 Operational Training Unit at RAF Lichfield to crew up and train on Wellingtons. During training they flew to occupied Paris, at night, to drop propaganda leaflets.

On 17 January 1944 they were posted to 1652 Heavy Conversion Unit at RAF Marston Moor to train on Halifaxes and were joined by a mid-upper gunner and a flight engineer. Harry says he learned the use of Gee and H2S and bemoans the poor condition of the training aircraft. On 30 April 1944, after 21 flights and a double engine failure that resulted in a forced landing, they became operational and were posted to 102 Squadron at RAF Pocklington.

Harry describes each of his 43 operations to Germany, the Netherlands and to France, supporting D-Day operations. He mentions various types of German radar and the upward firing cannons known as Schräge Musik. He tells us of his duties in the air using Fishpond radar, Gee, Window and Tinsel. After 35 operations Harry and some of his crew volunteered for a second tour.

After demobilisation on 8 May 1945, Harry says that he thought a lot about the death and destruction he had taken part in and that he struggled with civilian life, describing the anti-climax of sailing home and feeling lost, now that he was just a civilian again.

His memoir includes stories of fun, friendship and women; several poems written by him and a number of photographs relating to his service, social life and family. It also contains various lists and statistics of losses during his service.




106 page document with photographs


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Harry Brabin, “Harry Brabin memoir,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 22, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/47302.

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