A Flight Lieutenant’s Archive
belonging to Flight Lietenant G.G. ‘Gil’ Graham DFM, including annotated map of the bombing missions of 614 Pathfinder Force Squadron, 1944-45
An exceptional archive of three log books, related photographs and ephemera including a unique hand annotated map of missions flown by 614 Pathfinder Force Squadron assembled by Flight Lieutenant GG ‘Gil’ Graham, D.F.M., Royal Air Force.
Graham flew two tours in the Mediterranean theatre as a Rear Gunner in Marauder aircraft with 14 Squadron out of Tunisia, and in Liberator aircraft with 614 Pathfinder Force Squadron out of Foggia. One of the RAF’s most successful air gunners in the Mediterranean, with a number of aircraft to his credit, his experiences are recounted in Alan Cooper’s ‘Air Gunner’ (2008); Cooper notes that ‘at that time air gunners were only surviving six or seven trips on average’. An obituary was published in the Daily Telegraph in 2009.
The archive includes a rare original photograph of one of the most remarkable bomber-to-transport aerial combats of the war, which occurred in July 1943, during Graham’s first tour. On a reconnaissance sortie off the Italian coast near Leghorn, as part of the crew of Wing Commander Maydwell’s aircraft, they sighted a six-engined Me 323 ‘Gigant’ transport aircraft. Described by the navigator as resembling a “block of flats” and similar in size to a modern-day Boeing 747, it was the largest land-based aircraft of its day. Maydwell’s aircraft attacked, putting the Me 323’s nose guns out of action, and Maydwell then manoeuvred his Marauder just ahead of the lumbering transport so that Graham could bring his guns to bear. This he did with great effectiveness, and the giant crashed on a Corsican beach. Miraculously the German crew survived, and in 1984 Graham met his former adversary, the German pilot.
His second tour when with 614 Squadron as Gunnery Leader was no less eventful, and he added 24 missions and at least one further enemy aircraft to his tally. Of his surviving log books, the one of his time with 614 Squadron is distinguished by personal touches including photographs, calligraphic flourishes and descriptive commentary. His striking hand-annotated bombing map of 614 Squadron’s sorties between October 1944 and April 1945 belongs to this period.
Gil Graham went on to see extensive service post-war and eventually retired in 1971, having also spent a period on secondment with the Southern Rhodesian Air Force. The Cumberland and Westmorland cycling champion for four years during the 1930’s, he had a wide range of talents, becoming the Rhodesian amateur ballroom dancing champion in 1948-1949, a formidable hockey player who represented three different RAF Commands and two counties in the sport between 1946 and 1959, and a driver in a number of international motor rallies between 1958 and 1965. During a posting to RAF Gan on Gan Island in the Maldives in the mid 1960s, he found the opportunity to be a disc jockey on the local radio station, a hobby which he returned to the mid-1980s with Radio Carlisle.
The archive comprises:
- Royal Air Force Flying Log Book for Navigators, Air Bombers, Air Gunners and Flight Engineers, issued to F/O. Graham D.F.M., covering the period from 7th August 1944 through to 30th April 1945.
- Royal Air Force Flying Log Book for Navigators, Air Bombers, Air Gunners and Flight Engineers, issued to G.G. Graham, covering the period from 3rd August 1952 to 21st October 1956.
- Royal Air Force Aircrew Flying Log Book, issued to G.G. Graham, covering the period from 20th June 1963 through to 21st June 1964. This covering his time spent with No.631 Gliding School.
- An original sketch for a recruitment poster for the Rhodesian Air Training Group (Royal Air Force) for Southern Rhodesia in 1948. A3 size, hand drawn in pen and ink, giving necessary size reductions for future printing, and signed ‘Gil Graham’.
- An original sketch for a recruitment poster titled ‘Flying with the Royal Air Force’ for the Royal Air Force Recruitment Centre at Government Buildings, Marston Road, Oxford, advertising vacancies for Pilots, Navigators and Signallers. A3 size, hand drawn in pen and ink, undated, however the depiction of jet aircraft dates it to late 1940’s, as drawn by Gil Graham, with pencil annotations.
- British Government ‘Goolie Chit’ for aircrew who required rescue or assistance in regions people by Arabs, printed on canvas, and dating from Graham’s time spent with No.3 Middle East Training School at Amman in Trans-Jordan in 1942.
- Two different versions of the propaganda leaflet titled ‘Wolkiger Beobachter’ (Cloud Observer), as dropped by the Royal Air Force onto German occupied countries. These both being a part of the run printed ‘1. Jahrgang Nr.5’ and printed in 1939. The first time print run of propaganda leaflets was used was on 18th January 1939 and the last use was on the night of 1st/2nd February 1940, 3,165,000 leaflets of this time having been dropped by aircraft, the main drops being made on Vienna in Austria and Prague in Czechoslovakia. One of the two depicts a side by side image of the hairstyles and moustaches for both Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin.
- Geographical Section General Staff Map: Europe (plotting series), Adriatic, Sheet NE 41/10, London: War Office, 1940 (this edition printed April 1944). Sheet size: 79 x 106.5 cm, printed in red, old folds, pinholes to corners, blank verso. Covering Italy, Austria, and the Balkans on a scale of 1:1,000,000, the map has been annotated to show the missions of 614 Squadron, Pathfinder Force (not just those of Fl. Lt. Graham), when operating out of Foggia between October 1944 and April 1945. Each target has been carefully named with appears to be an early form of Letraset, and marked with a symbol of a bomb, one for each sortie (for example, four for Verona), with flight courses additionally plotted. A clipping describing the Warsaw raid, pasted to the upper part of the maps, appears to be from a 1944 issue of ‘Flight International’. Not all missions were bombing raids – some involved dropping supplies to partisans – but these are not differentiated on the map.
- A scale 1:500,000 map of Palestine as published with the permission of the Director of Surveys 1941, printed in colour, and printed in Palestine by the Azriel Press, Jerusalem; 55 x 38 cm, blank verso, lacks wrappers.
- A facsimile photo-print of a squadron plaque as drawn by Gil Graham, this dated 6th May 1941, with his facsimile signature clearly visible.
- A casual group photograph relating to his time in training as an Air Gunner.1942 Amman in Trans Jordan:No.3 Middle East Training School at Amman in Trans-Jordan, Aircraft Recognition Instructor Course group photograph taken in April 1942. Graham amongst those taken. 2 different versions.
- Photograph of a Sunderland Flying Boat at Amman, taken on 15th July 1942.
- 2 x photograph believed taken in Amman.
- Photograph printed as a photo card for sending home to his wife ‘Marg’, this taken ‘at a railway staton in Palestine’. Undated.
- Photographs relating to time spent with 14 Squadron in North Africa (1942-1943):2 x Photographs of the Marauder aircraft named ‘Cap’n Blood’ showing markings for 45 bombings sorties completed and 4 enemy aircraft destroyed by the crews of this aircraft.
- Photograph of the Marauder aircraft named ‘Devil’s Playmate’ showing markings for 45 bombings sorties completed and 5 enemy aircraft destroyed by the crews of this aircraft.
- Photograph of the Marauder aircraft named ‘Dominion Revenge’.
- Photograph of the Marauder aircraft named ‘Dominion Thunderer’, taken in Tunisia in August 1943, this show’s the crew of Wing Commander Maydwell, Gill Graham identified second from right, all crew named as they were known to each other within the crew. Another photograph believed of the same aircraft shown from the right side.
- Two aerial photographs of warships on the sea, believed taken from a Marauder in the Mediterranean.
- Three photographs from Graham’s operation service when a Sergeant with 14 Squadron, two showing the damage from flak to his aircraft, one of him personally putting his arm into the flak hole.
- Two photographs of Graham posing in front of a German FW190 fighter, taken at different times, they are however both of the same aircraft, from which bits having been removed as souvenirs in the meantime. Both images annotated on the reverse.
- Aircraft photographs of engagements with enemy aircraft.
- Aerial photograph of a Ju90B German transport aircraft passing low over the sea off Corsica, annotated on the reverse ‘Junkers JU90 B destroyed off Corsica’. Taken of the enemy plane under fire, bullet splashes clearly seen in the sea beyond the aircraft as it attempts to makes its escape. This was taken from Graham’s aircraft and is of the aircraft he and his crew shot down at the time of the Anzio landings.
- Rare original aerial photograph of the engagement described above, when Graham’s aircraft shot down an Me 323. The reverse of the photograph is annotated: ‘Attacked & destroyed in August 1943. Messerschmitt 323 German Transport’.
- Photographs relating to his time in Liberator’s with 614 Squadron, Pathfinder Force, operating from Foggia:7 original photographs relating his service in Liberator’s, some taken in flight, another indicating that one of the aircraft he flew in was named ‘Small Fry’.
- Aerial photograph of a Liberator in flight, this annotated on reverse: ‘A “Lib” just after dropping supplies in Yugoslavia’.
- Aerograph Birthday Greetings to his wife at 50 Lorne St, Carlisle, Cumberland, bearing 14 Squadron badge, dated for November 1942.
- Royal Air Force Service and Release Book, this issued to the Graham’s wife, Leading Aircraft Woman M.R. Graham, dated 22nd August 1945.
- Polish Armed Forces Comforts Fund Card.
- A quantity of other correspondence and related paperwork from his service, and that of his wife.
A Flight Lieutenant’s Archive
GRAHAM, Flight Lieutenant GG
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