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World War II: Jewish RAF Special Operators in Radio Counter Measures with 101 Squadron

(September 1943 - May 1945) by Martin Sugarman

Much of the history of the secret telecommunications war against the Germans during the Second World War is still classified and shrouded in mystery, including the Radio Counter Measures (RCM) of RAF Squadron 101. Originally founded at Farnborough in 1917 as part of the RFC, Squadron 101 served as a night-bomber squadron on the Western Front, [1] was demobilized after the Armistice and re-formed at Bircham Newton in 1928. By 15 June 1943 it was based at Ludford Magna, near Louth in Lincolnshire, as part of No. 1 Group, Bomber Command, having already taken part, for instance, in the 1000-bomber raids on Germany, attacks on Italian targets and, soon after, the raid on the V1 sites at  Peenemunde in August 1943.

At Ludford a far more dangerous task was assigned the squadron. Many Allied bombers were falling victim to German night-fighters guided by ground controllers scrutinizing radar screens. [2] An Allied counter-measure named ‘Window’ partially upset this, but the Luftwaffe responded by coordinating the commentaries of several controllers at different locations, and delegating overall command to a single master controller who guided the night-fighters towards the Allied aircraft. The British Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) at Malvern developed a response to this that was tested by 101 Squadron. It was called ‘Airborne Cigar’, or ABC, a battlefield version of  ‘Ground Cigar’, [3] and its original code name was ‘Jostle’. [4] Using a receiver and three 50-watt [5] T.3160-type transmitters, the German VHF frequency – and language - was identified and then jammed. [6]   The jamming caused a loud and constantly varying note running up and down the scale of the relevant speech channel. [7]

For this purpose, a German-speaking eighth crew member was included in the crew of especially fitted Lancaster bombers. He was known as the Special Duty Operator, ‘Spec. Op.’, or SO. All were volunteers from various aircrew trades. Since the enemy often gave phoney instructions to divert  the jammers, it was essential that they know German reasonably well. In addition, if the Germans changed frequencies the SO would have to be skillful enough to do likewise. [8] The SO had to recognize German codewords – such as Kapelle, for ‘target altitude’ -  and log any German transmissions for passing on to Intelligence at the post-flight debriefing. Jewish veteran Flight Sergeant Leslie Temple recalls the Germans trying to distract the SOs [9] by using screaming female voices or martial music. Some sources allege that the SOs were trained in ‘verbal jamming’, that is giving false information in German, but this was very little used. [10]

After trials on 4-6 September 1943, the first operational use of ABC was on a raid over Hanover on 22 September, although other sources mention the night of 7-8 October. [11] The system worked, but the first aircraft using it was lost the following night on another raid. More Lancasters were modified, and by the end of October most of the squadron had been fitted with ABC. The only signs of special equipment were two 7-foot aerials on top of the Lancaster fuselage, another below the bomb-aimer’s window and a shorter receiver at the top-rear of the fuselage. Because of the weight of the radio equipment and extra crew member the aircraft had a reduced bomb load of 1000 lbs.

The SO sat just aft of the main spar on the port side of the aircraft, immediately above the bomb bay, at a desk with three transmitters and a cathode-ray screen. He was cut off completely from the rest of the crew except for his intercom, and was in darkness with no window to observe what was going on. His nearest human contact were the boots of the mid-upper gunner, 4 feet away. In order to avoid distraction the intercom had to be switched off, and only a red ‘call light’, operated by the pilot, was available should there be an emergency. [12] Since there was no room for the SO in the heated forward section of the Lancaster, he, like the mid-upper and rear gunners, had to wear bulky electric suits, slippers and gloves, dangerous if a rushed exit were required. At 20,000 feet over Europe in winter, temperatures often fell to minus 50 C, so the SO would have to wear gloves even though these made it difficult to operate switches. He would lose the skin of his fingers if he attempted to touch metal without them. [13] It was common to have to pull off chunks of frozen condensation from oxygen masks during the flight. [14] The concentrated work of jamming kept the SO’s minds off minor discomforts for most of the flight. [15]

From October 1943 until the end of the war all main-force attacks on German targets were accompanied by Lancasters of 101 Squadron, sometimes up to twenty-seven in one raid. The ABC aircraft were stationed in pairs at regular intervals in the bomber stream so that if one were shot down, other parts of the stream would still be covered. [16] As losses mounted it was thought that German fighters were homing in on ABC aircraft, but no definite evidence for this has been found. However, on 18 November Flying Officer McManus’s Lancaster was brought down over Berlin and examined by the Germans, so it is possible that German ground stations knew enough to vector their fighters onto the Lancasters when ABC was transmitting, making them more vulnerable than other aircraft. [17] SO veteran Ken Lewis, DFM, [18] described how the SOs were nicknamed ‘Jo’s or ‘Jonah’s’ by the other crew members, alluding to the storm unleashed by the biblical character on the ship in which he was a passenger. On the other hand, the losses could have been caused by the rise in 101 participation on raids.

The Special Operators included a high proportion of German-speaking Jewish refugees who were especially at risk if captured, as were any of their surviving families in the Reich. One source tells of a crew member who committed suicide when captured by the Germans, [19] perhaps for this reason. There were also British and Commonwealth Jewish RAF personnel, many of whom spoke German or Yiddish at home. Special Operator 1811224 A. J. H. Clayton was captured on the night of 30 March 1944 when his Lancaster was shot down and was probably tortured to death for information on the SOs. [20] Some allege that the SOs were never to be questioned by the rest of the crew about their work. [21]

The Squadron’s casualties were enormous. Between 18 November 1943 and 24 March 1944, for example, seventeen aircraft of 101 Squadron were lost in battles over Berlin. In the Nuremberg raid, five crew members of one Lancaster were lost, including Flying Officer Norman Marrian, the SO, who was badly wounded by friendly fire from a Halifax. He had baled out, but was found dead, suspended by his harness from a tree, two days later, [22] according to a survivor, Sergeant Don Brinkhurst, mid-upper gunner. [23] Sergeant Luffman describes how an SO’s parachute failed to open fully and he died of his injuries. [24] A further four planes were lost over Nuremberg, making six in all, almost one-third of the surviving Squadron. An additional five were lost in the successful raids running up to D Day over France. But only one was lost on D Day itself, when twenty-four Lancasters of 101 helped deceive the enemy into thinking the landing was to take place in the Pas de Calais by forming an ABC barrier between the Normandy beaches to the south and the German fighter bases in Holland and Belgium to the north. Other aircraft simulated airborne landings elsewhere and jammed enemy radars. Countless lives were saved in this ‘Battle of the Ether’, fought by a squadron of which the motto was appropriately Mens Agitat Molem, ‘Mind over matter’. [25]

After D Day, 101 continued using ABC in raids on German reinforcements, V1 launch sites and German industry. Losses continued, with six Lancasters destroyed over Brunswick in August 1944. On 25 April 1945, in their last mission, twenty Lancasters helped attack Hitler’s last redoubt at Berchtesgaden. Since October 1943, Squadron 101 flew 2477 sorties with ABC from Ludford Magna. They dropped 16,000 tons of bombs between January 1944 and April 1945 alone and flew more bombing raids than any other Lancaster squadron in Group 1, losing 1094 crew killed and 178 POWs – the highest casualties of any squadron in the RAF. [26]

Jewish Special Operators[27]


Flight Sergeant (later Warrant Officer) 2209350 Peter D. Kaye, a non-Jewish SO veteran from Wirral whose tour finished on 30 June 1944, explained that at any one time there might be thirty-three SOs – one for each Lancaster in the squadron – but that many more would have passed through, as casualties occurred or tours of duty finished – making perhaps as many as 150 or 200. He told the author [28] that he knew three Jewish Special Operators. One was 1398898 Reuben (later Ron) ‘Herky’ Herscovitz/Herscovitch, also known as Hurst, [29] who died in August 1997 aged seventy-five. His Jewish chaplain card states he was born on 20 August 1922, the son of Mr J. Herscovitz of 53 Bellott Street, Manchester 8, was married to Phyllis and that he had volunteered on 11 November 1941. Another was Flight Sergeant John Hertzog, also known as Hereford. A third was Flight Sergeant G. P. (?) Herman. The AJEX museum has 60,000 - about 95 per cent - of the cards relating to British Jews serving in the Second World War. These were compiled and updated by Jewish chaplains throughout the War, and information is still added as it comes in.

Before one mission, Special Operator J. A. Davies, a life-long friend of Herscovitz (a Yiddish speaker at home) [30] asked him why he carried a pair of civilian shoes slung around his neck on each of his thirty-six missions, and was told, ‘My friend, if you are shot down, you will either be killed or taken to a proper prison camp under the control of the Geneva Convention. I am a Jew, and as the Herrenvolk would like to liquidate my race, I aim to get away from the wreckage as soon as possible. How can I possibly do that in heavy fur-lined flying boots?’ [31]

John Davies recalls how [32] ‘Ron and I  first met at Hixon in Staffordshire and were designated SOs and sent to101 Squadron together. Seven young sergeants were deposited outside the guardroom at a dark, snowbound airfield at Ludford – Bull, Bryant, Davies, Dockerty, Fergus, Neille and Herky. Within a few weeks Neille left, Fergus was sick, Bull and Bryant were dead and I was a POW after two missions. In the meantime and without any warning, one night, on 15 February 1944, mine and Herky’s names appeared on Battle Orders for the big raid on Berlin, with 891 aircraft. It was frightning, but Herky showed no emotion and indeed injected a spirit of optimism on life in general. He wrote for Davies’s book, ‘An hour before take-off, behind us lay the ops meal with its privileged eggs, and some stressful hard to kill hours in the hut during which we smoked, read magazines, talked or wrote letters, the while keeping private fears to ourselves. Jim Davies wrote to his parents…an emotional letter of apology. Four days later on 19 February we flew to Leipzig and Jim failed to return. When it was clear the aircraft was overdue beyond hope … I left the Operations Room, went back to hut 8 and told the others. The next day I posted Jim’s letter to his parents in Wales and watched as two police Corporals packed his kit. At 2345 hours that night I took off for Stuttgart.’

Davies continued to describe how Herscovitz volunteered for a second tour at the height of the bomber offensive – a courageous act given the low survival rate of SOs. He was not given a medal, but was an inspiring member of the bomber crew and, aware of the consequences should he be captured, was determined to have personal revenge on a system he despised. He had been in a reserved occupation on a Zionist Kibbutz farm in Somerset, but went back to Manchester to join the RAF. In Davies’s words: ‘he was an incredibly brave man and the only member of the Squadron I wanted to contact after the war. I searched but failed. Then in the late 1940s, on an escalator in Wood Green Underground, he was coming down and I was going up. There was instant recognition and shouts of joy and our friendship lasted without a break until he died … After the war he became a much respected expert in civil aviation, [33] but, conscious of his lack of  a formal secondary education, at the age of  seventy, he entered St Cross College, Oxford, to do a PhD in History. He died just before the awards ceremony. Later at the College we held a ‘Celebration of his Life’ and it was my privilege to speak of his wartime heroism; he was my hero in war and peace.’

Jewish RAF veteran Aubrey Wilson was a close friend of Herscovitz after the war and remembers some of the stories he had recounted. [34] In a letter to the present writer Wilson recalled one incident described to him. ‘On the way back from one raid, the crew heard an object rolling about in the fuselage. Ron [Herscovitz] was sent to investigate and discovered one of the high-powered target flares (a photoflash) rolling loose and coming apart. Ron had to cradle this in his arms for several hours and on return carry it gingerly down the steps of the Lancaster and hand it to a WAAF armourer to disarm. He described the sheer horror of  … holding a highly volatile explosive device on a long and shaky journey at 12,000 feet, which, had it gone off, would have blown the aircraft apart. Ron said that it went off minutes later on the runway, after the WAAF heard it make a strange sound and threw it away. In another incident Ron described  how his intense fear over targets was amplified as he could understand precisely what the German fighter pilots and controllers were saying – they shouted that they could see a certain Lancaster and were going in to attack, while Ron would sit and await a stream of machine-gun bullets to cut him apart or a cannon-shell to explode in his aircraft. When it did not, he knew someone else had bought it. Constantly being aware that you are a target in this way must have been almost unbearable.’

Herscovitz himself recounted [35] how Air Vice Marshall Saundby once gave a handshake to each man as they entered the debriefing room after a night raid. When Ron came, the Air Vice Marshal was so taken aback at such a small chap in flying kit that he looked down and gently patted him on the head.

Another comrade, Bruce Lewis, remembers the following: [36] ‘When I had joined the RAF … at Padgate camp with an odd assortment of fellow civilians … the first person who had spoken to me was a little, thick-set man with black curly hair. Clutching a battered fibre suitcase in one hand he had raised a clenched fist under my nose and said: “Greetings Comrade!” He was Ron Herscowitz … . All his family had disappeared into Nazi camps. The best way he could think of getting back at the Germans was to join Bomber Command. We had gone different ways during training, but now here he was again, a “Special” at 101 [Ludford]. He had already established himself as a “squadron character” with a boisterous sense of humour.’

Group Captain John Rees said that not only were most SO’s Jewish, [37] but that they formed a separate cohort at the base due to the secret nature of their task, and constituted a sort of a ‘group within the group’. Many had come via Palestine as volunteers and helped improve the German of the non-Jewish SOs. Most changed their second names. Felix ‘King’, [38] for example, who reached the Squadron via Palestine and Canada, [39] was remembered by a fellow crew member  - 1084425 Flight Sergeant Ken Fitton - as being nicknamed ‘Happy’ and of ‘living up to his name’. Ken Fitton recalls that his family had had an optics or lens business in London, but that the crew made no effort to learn his real name, aware that in the event of capture they would then be unable to give any information about him or, indeed, his work. [40] King told him he had been born in Berlin, that his father had been arrested by the Gestapo and never seen again, and that his mother had taken the rest of the family to Palestine where he joined the RAF as soon as he was of age.

Brookes [41] rightly points out that German Jews were ‘taking a treble risk … . They were SOs, bombers and Jewish - very brave men.’ Their very attempts to conceal their origins makes identifying Jewish SOs difficult today, however. In addition, many remain keen not to reveal their true background, having first been excluded, humiliated and expelled from their countries of birth and then, on arriving poverty-stricken in Britain, been mistrusted and interned before being allowed to serve only in non-combattant units such as the Pioneer Corps. Only later were they permitted to strike back at their oppressors - in many cases the murderers of their families - by enlisting in fighting units. Such experiences have in some cases left their emotional mark to this day. Once in 101, they soon integrated and became close friends with their crew-mates, even though they arrived later than many others who had trained together, and had in some cases already had special training for secret work. [42] Few if any questions were asked about religious affiliation.

1893650 Flight Sergeant Leslie Temple, [43] born in 1925 to Jane and Solomon in Stepney, joined the RAF in January 1943 aged eighteen, but had served in the Air Training Corps from the age of fourteen. He received initial air training at Bridgenorth in Shropshire on De Haviland Dominees and Proctors, radio training at Madley, acclimatization on B17s at Sculthorpe in Norfolk, and a Lancaster conversion course at Lindholme in Yorkshire, before being sent as a full Flight Sergeant aged nineteen to join 101 Squadron at Ludford. He had learnt German at school and spoke fluent Yiddish at home, but the SO work was so secret that he had no idea until he arrived in Ludford why he had been sent there. He completed thirty missions between 22 June (against the Rheims marshalling yards) and 28 October 1944 (Cologne). Others from his still-prized log book include Essen, Frankfurt, V1 sites, troop concentrations after D Day, Caen, Hamburg and Scholven.

SOs worked concentratedly on the journeys out and home for several hours, but over the target could only watch. Once the bombers were near the target it was obvious to the enemy where they were going, so jamming was superfluous. Leslie Temple explained that the rear gunners in ABC Lancasters had heavier machine guns than usual, because the planes were especially vulnerable transmitting over enemy territory.

His worst moment was over Kiel on 23 July 1944, ‘a date that will live in my mind forever … . We took off from Ludford just before midnight, at 2355, for the heavily defended German naval base at Kiel. The Lancaster was blown slightly off course over the North Sea, so the bomb aimer had to ask that they fly round for a second time over the target to ensure accuracy – which was always extremely hazardous. As we did not jam over the actual target I could watch everything from the astrodome. There was a solid curtain of bursting, hellish flak, a wall of searchlights across the sky, other bombers all around waiting to release their bombs and predatory German night-fighters spitting cannon fire. Finally we dropped our bombs on target, but were suddenly nailed by a master searchlight on the way out. Immediately a dozen others “coned” us at 20,000 feet, extremely heavy German flak opened up and we were showered with shrapnel which simply passed through the airframe; our two port engines burst into flames … . I feared the worst, as we could not bale out over the North Sea at night … . Our quick-thinking Canadian skipper (Eric Nielsen, who was given the DFC for this operation) nosed the Lancaster down and pulled out of the beam at 5000 feet. The pilot and flight engineer managed to extinguish the flames over the North Sea, using the internal extinguishers, and despite no power for the directional equipment because of the two cut engines, our skilled navigator used his sextant and stars training to get us home on two engines. We crash landed at Woodbridge in Suffolk, a special crash-landing base, at about 4 am, with over 100 holes in our Lancaster. After debriefing I laid on my bed and could not stop shaking for twelve hours. The MO said the best cure was simply to get back up again soon – and of course we did. No counselling in those days.’

Some of the dangers experienced by SOs were common to all fliers, as Leslie reports. ‘We were taking off for a raid on the Ruhr at Volkel [14 August 1944]. As we tore down the runway, our starboard outer engine cut out. We had a full bomb bay, full fuel tanks and full boost on the engines for take off. Our pilot and engineer laid hard back on the stick together and we cleared the runway by just 50 feet. Over the North Sea we dropped our bombs and went home as an aborted sortie.’ ‘Sometimes we had to rendezvous with 800 or 1000 other aircraft over England and there were many dreadful accidents. I was horrified to witness one of my best pals from Barnsley (Jack Whitely), killed in a mid-air collision [23 September 1944]. I still have the letters from his family explaining when his body was washed up near Felixstowe. I stayed in contact with them for years after, as they treated me like a son. Over the target there was often confusion and some aircraft were hit by friendly bombs from above them. Landing at night was hazardous, as aircraft came in very close behind each other. … But we were young and fatalistic and made jokes about dying.’ ‘I put my faith in the Almighty and recited the Shema [the Jewish creed] before every take-off; I am sure this carried me through. I count my blessings that I survived.’

After serving in 101 Leslie was told to take a long leave and thereafter worked as ground crew. He married Cynthia in 1950 and had a large family, now living in Ilford as an active member of the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women, and the101 Squadron Association and Bomber Command Association. Nightmares concerning his missions began some years after the war and still recur. His brother Arthur (Queens Royals) was captured at Abbeville before Dunkirk and posted as missing for some months. He was a POW for five years.

Leslie - who has the 1939-45 and  France and Germany Stars and War Medals – is unfortunately ineligible for the Aircrew Europe Medal because he, like many others, began bombing later than others in the war. The cut-off date for the medal is the beginning of June 1944, probably due to a misguided political decision connected with Bomber Harris’s campaign. As a result, many veterans wear the Aircrew Europe Medal who never flew under such life threatening circumstances as Leslie and his comrades.

Flight Sergeant Gerhard ‘Harry’ Heilig was born 19 April 1925 to a prominent Jewish journalist from Vienna, one of the earliest held by the Gestapo in a concentration camp following the Anschluss. He spent thirteen months in the camp and escaped to England just two weeks before war broke out. His mother was Jewish and from Hungary. Gerhard arrived on a kindertransport in December 1938, went to a Quaker school in Yorkshire and studied to be a telephone engineer in Leeds and London. He volunteered for aircrew in early 1943 because, as he says, ‘I was only too aware that Britain had saved my life, … and I wanted to put a nail in Hitler’s coffin’. [44] As an eighteen-year-old ‘Friendly Alien’ he had to make a special application to the Secretary of State for Air, and on 17 July was posted to the Initial Training Wing (ITW) at Bridgenorth, Shropshire. He was trained as a wireless operator at Madley (Number 4 Radio School) on De Havilland Rapides and Proctors, and then sent in March 1944 with John Hertzog to 214 Squadron (100 Bomber Group) at Sculthorpe to work in Radio Counter Measures. They were told that the whole thing was so secret that not even the CO knew what it was about. He remembers two other Jewish SOs, named Isaacs and Lander. On arrival he and Hereford were called to the adjutant’s office and advised that their German names would put them at risk if they were captured. Hertzog took the name ‘Hereford’, but Heilig was reluctant. ‘First, they would have to shoot me down, … second, I would have to survive … and third, they would have to catch me. … I decided to follow my father’s example when arrested by the Nazis … and bear my name with honour and trust to providence.’ [45] The old hands welcomed them as they trained-up, but when, after one month, they were about to leave the base for some leave, they were called urgently to the CO and told they must go on the Squadron’s first operational flight in its new role, in B17 ‘Flying Fortresses’. His was SR386 BU-N. Heilig was ‘particularly happy to be able to deliver my own worst regards in person on Hitler’s birthday’, 20 April, [46] on the Paris rail-marshalling yards at La Chapelle. The flight, which took place a day after his nineteenth birthday during the prelude to D Day, was uneventful. The next day they took their planned week’s leave.

On 16 May he moved to Oulton, from where he took part in raids dropping ‘Window’ - aluminium foil - to deceive German radar and give real raids on Germany a clear run while German night-fighters chased them. On one raid his crew used window to attract German fighters into an ambush by waiting Mosquitoes. On another they forced German fighters up in bad weather causing many of them to crash on landing. In July 1944, after his tenth operation, Heilig, with Hereford and RAAF SO ‘Bluey’ Glick, who was also Jewish, was posted to Ludford with 101 Squadron to fly as an SO in Lancasters. Hereford writes: ‘I was friendly with Glick, and as only service personnel living in London were allowed there on leave, Bluey came as my “cousin” to my home in Finchley. … On 19 September 1944 I flew to Rheydt in the Ruhr (“Happy!”) Valley. The Master Bomber was Guy Gibson VC of  “Dambusters” fame. I heard his last words – “We are going down to 500 feet”. The Deputy Master Bomber then lost contact. Gibson and his crew were killed on that raid.’ [47]

Heilig records that after the bombs had been dropped his crew often threw out bundles of propaganda leaflets. He discovered only later that his father, by then working for the American OSS propaganda department, had actually written some of them, and was delighted with the coincidence.

Gerhard Heilig remembers bringing back from one raid two pieces of German anti-aircraft shell which had pierced the fuselage a yard from where he sat. On 18 August 1944 over Sterkrade in the Ruhr the starboard inner engine was shot out of action. On 5 September over Le Havre they were hit again by shrapnel, and once more on 12 September over Frankfurt when the starboard inner engine was hit and cut out. On 5 September they had to return with their bombs owing to poor visibility over Le Havre, and the heavy load caused brake failure on landing. As they headed for the wreckage of an old aircraft at the runway end at an alarming speed, Heilig rolled himself up into a ball for a belly landing with the undercarriage up. On halting, the crew ran for the aft door and exited, but the plane did not explode. He later found he had grabbed two parachutes and helmets, calculating in a split second that the paperwork resulting from the loss of such items would be unbearable.

Flight Sergeants Heilig and Hereford completed their thirty missions on 25 October 1944. Heilig was posted to Transport Command in the Far East until 1947, became a pilot and returned to work in Austria in 1965 where he now lives with his family.

Graham Boytell, an SO from Australia, [48] recalls SO Hans Schwartz, a German-Jewish refugee who had been ordered to change his name by the RAF before being allowed on operations, and was therefore known as Henry Blake. Graham, who met him in 1944, vividly recalls Hans’s joy in the mess at Ludford at being on Battle Orders for the night of 12 August. ‘I have never seen anyone so happy to be going on ops as Henry was that night. It was the Brunswick raid and his first. Sadly he failed to return.’ Flight Sergeant Bob Hopes remembers Schwartz as ‘a most pleasant lad with dark, curly hair’, and suspected from his looks that he was ‘not really a Blake’. [49]

Navigator Ken Scott first met Augustus Tomachepolsky, known as ‘Tomo’ to his crew mates, at the No. 2 Squadron ‘A’ Flight 6 ITW (Initial Training Wing) at Aberystwyth where they both graduated in May 1942. They went on to Anstey, but failed the flying course and met up again at Ludford in October 1943. In November witnesses saw the rear of Tomo’s Lancaster torn apart by night-fighter cannon shells as it plunged in flames into the suburbs of Dusseldorf. Three crew members survived as POWs, but Tomo was killed. Ken Scott describes Tomo as ‘a remarkable chap, … an accomplished artist who drew amazing portraits of his comrades. His family were in the fur business. I was on the same raid; we took off a few minutes earlier at 1700 hrs. I noted in my log book four-tenths cloud, leaflets carried, uneventful trip, duration 4 hrs 35 mins. … Such are the fortunes of war.’ [50]

Pilot Officer Adrian Marks [51] (RAAF), another Jewish SO, vividly remembers the Nuremberg raid of 30-1 March 1944: ‘At briefing we were advised by the met. officer we would have some cloud cover to and from the target. But it was a bright full moon with little cloud cover. Our usual aircraft, G for George, was not serviceable at the time, so were allocated another Lancaster, J2,  whose crew were on leave. Once airborne we found we had a real problem. The aircraft could not gain altitude at the speed of the bomber stream, so we had a choice: to keep up with the others and be well below their height, or to climb to the height of the others, but fall well behind and risk arriving over the target alone. The crew discussed the options over the intercom and agreed to gain the operational altitude of the stream rather than have bombs from our own aircraft falling around us and possibly on us, and to accept the risk of being alone to and from the target. Some twenty-five or so minutes prior to the time the raid was scheduled to begin, I picked up on my ABC receiver the message, “Achtung Nuremberg”, the target having been identified. I warned my crew that we could expect more night-fighters than usual. As usual it was a zig-zag course to and from the target, and I often wondered if someone back home had been careless in their conversation and that it had been picked up by an unfriendly person and made known to the Germans. We arrived over Nuremburg some 20-25  minutes late, all by ourselves, but at the correct altitude. The city appeared to be on fire in several areas, as I could see the target once the bomb doors were open. We dropped our bombs and got the hell out of the area and headed for home. At no stage did we encounter any enemy aircraft, despite the fact that ninety-five aircraft did not return that night. It was the heaviest loss recorded by RAF Bomber Command on any one night.’ [52] Of 101’s twenty-six aircraft, six failed to return and one crash-landed at Welford, Berkshire. Forty-seven men were killed, eight captured and one - Sergeant Don Brinkhurst – escaped. [53]

SO Sergeant Henry van Geffen [54] mentions in his diaries an SO Sergeant Rudy W. Mohr or Mahr, who was probably Jewish and who was killed on 7 March 1945 over Dessau while bombing the railways supplying the Junkers jet-engines testing base. Another name is Pilot Officer O. Fischel/Fischl, killed in action with the crew of Pilot Officer McConnell in Lancaster III DV-236 SR-G-George on 15 February 1944 over Berlin, five of the eight crew baling out and becoming POWs. [55] Chorley says the records show that Fischl was not one of those killed, as is confirmed by his Jewish chaplain’s card at the AJEX Museum. [56]

Another Jewish SO was 1895899 Flight Sergeant Wolf Herman Engelhardt, born in Leipzig, of Polish nationality, on 9 November 1920, [57] who escaped via Berlin to England on 3 April 1939. His Jewish chaplain index card says he volunteered for Special Duty on 24 May 1943 as AC2, but was later promoted to Flight Sergeant. Details of which chaplains he met are given, and the fact that his next-of-kin was his brother at 9 Thirlecroft Road, Horsham, Surrey. It also states that he was killed in action on 28 July 1944 in Lancaster III LM462 SR-V2, having taken off at 2145 hrs for a raid over Stuttgart. He is buried at Rebrechien, 11 kms northeast of Orleans, in a communal grave with others of the crew. When his brother, Stephen Ellis, recently asked the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to add a Star of David to the grave they declined, but they did allow him to add some Hebrew lettering. [58] The rest of the crew details are also known. [59]

Jewish personnel in other electronic warfare sectors

Another counter-measure involving German-speaking Jewish refugees, code-named ‘Corona’, involved the use of RAF ground listening and broadcasting stations in England from which German-speaking RAF men and WAAF women broke into German fighter-controllers’ radio frequencies and broadcast false instructions to the fighters. [60] On one occasion, [61] over Ludwigshaven on 17 November 1943, a broadcast in German ordering ‘All butterflies go home’, caused many of the German fighters to land. [62] Only one British bomber was lost that night.

J. A. Davies describes how the ABC teams were monitored from a ground station at Kingsdown near Canterbury, a major RCM centre, staffed mainly by German-Jewish refugees. [63] Former RAF Flight Sergeant 1456538 Sidney Goldberg of the RAF ‘Y’ Service (Mobile Field Units) radio deception/interception teams, who served in North Africa, Sicily and northwest Europe, and is at the time of writing an active AJEX member, knows that many RAF squadrons employed German linguists in activities such as intelligence gathering and Radio Counter Measures and that a high percentage were, like him, Jewish. They included German refugee volunteers, German Jews from Palestine - he remembers Flight Sergeants Freddie Adler,  J. Rosenthal, Herman, Kon and Englard - and British Jews who knew enough Yiddish to understand German. Dozens of other Jews worked on Radio Counter Measure schemes.

Aileen Clayton names WAAF Flight Officer Rosemary E. Horstmann (perhaps also known as Mrs H. Waters) and RAF Flight Sergeant R. Fresco-Cuba. [64] Peter Leighton-Langer [65] names WAAF Edith Perutz (later Smith), born 1918 in Vienna, and recalls many others. Gerhard Heilig remembers meeting a Czech WAAF sergeant while on leave at an émigré club in London who told him how false instructions in German were transmitted to the enemy at her ground interception station. One evening they guided a lost German pilot to the Woodbridge airfield in Essex and found he was flying a Junker 88 with the latest equipment - a major catch for British Intelligence. [66]

Former RAF wireless mechanic John Marks 3005273, born in Shoreditch on 28 July 1924, served with Sid Chandler, a fellow Jewish operator, at No. 80 signals wing at Sizewell, Suffolk (now the power station). They operated diesel-powered transmitters from horse-drawn caravans for three shifts of eight hours, recognizing and jamming German fighter-aircraft communications over the Ruhr, a major Bomber Command target. Sizewell was the closest mainland point to the Ruhr industrial area.

RAF Flight Sergeant Jack Burston [67] served in a Special Intelligence Unit (SIU) made up of German speakers, based first at Beachy Head, then the Isle of Wight and later off Normandy on D-Day, intercepting enemy-aircraft and naval radio traffic. In his small unit alone were eight Jewish personnel, besides himself, some of them from Palestine.

Jock M. Whitehouse, historian of 214 Squadron, confirms that many other squadrons had German-speaking crew members engaged in RCM against enemy night fighters. In the case of 214, equipped with Boeing Flying Fortress IIIs, many were Jewish. [68]

The death on active service of the British-born radar and electronics expert, Alan D. Blumlein, killed in a Halifax bomber crash on 7 June 1942 with two colleagues, was described in The Daily Telegraph as a national loss. Air Chief Marshall Sir Phillip Joubert described it as a catastrophe for the war effort, and Sir Archibald Sinclair, Secretary of State for Air, wrote that ‘it would be impossible to over-rate the importance of the work on which they were engaged’, which had undoubtedly saved thousands of lives. [69]

R. V. Jones [70] pays tribute to the many Jewish refugee scientists who contributed to the electronic war against the Nazis. One of them, RAF Flight Sergeant Jack Nissenthall, volunteered to take part in the attempt to break into the German radar station at Pourville near Dieppe in August 1942. He was accompanied by a dozen Canadian snipers with orders to shoot him if he was in danger of capture. The raid achieved an important part of its mission, but only Jack and one other made it back to Newhaven. His courage was recognized only many years after the war, by which time it was considered too late for a decoration to be given. [71]

Among many Jewish cryptographers at SOE (including Leo Marks, Chef de  Codage in the French Section) and code breakers at Bletchley Park, the code and cypher centre which eventually broke the German ‘Enigma’ codes, were Professor Max Newman of St John’s College, Cambridge, the mathematician who developed the ‘Colossos’ computer which penetrated the notorious Lorenz codes of the German High Command. [72] There was a large Jewish input in both radio interception and code breaking at Bletchley, and the AJEX archive contains a large section on this which is to be researched for future publication.

There is little doubt that outside the small circle of 101 Squadron veterans, few know of the important and dangerous work of the Special Operators and their Lancaster crew comrades, less still the role of the Jewish SOs. It is to be hoped that this study will bring deserved if belated recognition to this brave band of brothers.


I would like to thank the following former SOs of 101 Squadron: Flight Sergeant Graham Boytell RAAF (of Australia), Dr (Flight Sergeant) Jim Davies, Flight Sergeant Ken Fitton, Flight Sergeant Henry van Geffen, Flight Sergeant Peter Holway, Flight Sergeant Bob Hopes, Wireless Operator Peter D. Kaye, Pilot-Officer Guy Meadows, Group Captain John Rees, Flight Sergeant Ken Scott and Dr (Flight Sergeant) Aubrey Wilson.

I would like to thank a number of other individuals for their help and encouragement in completing this study. The staff of the reading Room at the Imperial War Museum, Lambeth, of the Public Records Office, Kew and of Battersea Park Library in Wandsworth have been particularly helpful. Gabriel Kaufman, former National Chair of AJEX, started me off on the trail of the Jewish SOs of 101 Squadron, RAF. I am grateful also to Stephen Ellis, brother of the late Flight Sergeant Wolf Engelhardt, RAF, killed in action over France as an SO on 28 July 1944. Sydney Goldberg, former National Vice Chair of AJEX and RAF ‘Y’ Service veteran, put me in touch with the veterans of RCM. I am grateful for the personal contributions of Gerhard Heilig of Vienna, John Herzog/Hereford of Faversham, RAF radar veteran John Marks, Mrs Shirley de Solla (widow of SO veteran Henry de Solla) of Enfield and Leslie Temple of Ilford.


SOs identified as Jewish in chaplain cards or elsewhere. [73]  


Addendum – Henry Morris,We Will Remember Them–  an Addendum (London 1994).  

AJEX – Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women of UK.

Australian Jewry Book of Honour - G. Pynt, The Australian Jewry Book of Honour (Australia 1973).

Canadian Jews at WarCanadian Jews at War (Canadian Jewish Congress, Montreal 1947 and 1948).

WWRT –  Henry Morris, We Will Remember Them - The British Jewry Book of Honour of  WW2 (London 1989).


Flight Sergeant Auer, possibly 788094 H. Auer, known as ‘Mish’, originally of Czech 310 Squadron, for whom there is an AJEX card. [74]

Flight Sergeant R. Blitz RAF (information from Gp. Capt. John Rees)

J96217 Flight Sergeant Murray Cohen RCAF, born 1921 in Toronto, son of Aaron later of Chicago, volunteered 1941, with three brothers in the forces, captured on his fifteenth mission, 29-30 December 1943, in Lancaster III LM371 SR-T over Berlin. Crashed at Schillerslage, 4 kms northwest of Burgdorf and sent to Stalag 4B. POW No. 269756. Information from Canadian Jews at War 120.

1800983/187083 Flight Sergeant, later Pilot Officer, Henry John de Solla, husband of Shirley and son of B. de Solla, 52 Hainault Court, Forest Rise, London E17, volunteered 6 January 1942. Information from Leslie Temple, AJEX card and correspondence with family.

Flight Sergeant R277148 John O. S. Fochs or Fuchs or Fosch, RCAF. Information from AIR 27 records at PRO and Canadian Jews at War.

AUS 434631 Flight Sergeant P. ‘Bluey’ Glick, RAAF. Shot down and captured, August-September 1944. Known by Heilig and Van Geffen, with whom he was posted to 101. Information in letter of 29 May 2000. Named in Australian Jewry Book of Honour.

1892246 Flight Sergeant Gerhard Heilig, son of Bruno Heilig, 2 Windsor Court, Moscow Road, London W2, volunteered 12 March 1943. Crashed on 6 September 1944 in Lancaster III  ND983 SR-B after the Le Havre raid, take-off 1737 crashed 2055 (Chorley p. 410). Information from AJEX card, personal correspondence and interview.

1398898 Flight Sergeant Reuben ‘Herky’ Herscovitch, also known as Ron Hurst, son of Mr J. Herscovitch, 53 Bellot Street, Manchester 8, volunteered 11 November 1941. AJEX card.

1868978 Flight Sergeant John Hayman Hertzog, 60 Finchley Court, Ballards Lane, London N3, also known as Hereford. Information in letter to author October 2000 and AJEX card.

Flight Sergeant Isaacs, possibly the same as 656562 Flight Sergeant, later Pilot Officer, Ralph Isaacs, and possibly killed in action. Information from Heilig’s letter of 19 May 2000, WWRT  206 and AJEX card.

Flight Sergeant Felix King, also known as Flight Sergeant Felix? Probably 1282123, son of Mrs G. Abrahams, 121 Castle Hill, Reading. Information from Flight Lieutenant Guy Meadows and AJEX card.

187155/1548852 Flight Sergeant Israel L. Lander, son of Mr D. Lander, 14 Bentley Road, Liverpool 8, volunteered 17 October 1941, Information from Heilig’s letter of 19 May 2000 and AJEX card.

Flight Sergeant Lipfriend (Chorley, p. 367, Vol. 4), perhaps not an  SO. Three surviving RAF men with this name appear in AJEX cards, one injured in the crash on 31 July-1 August 1944 of Lancaster I LL849 SR-O, take-off Ludford 1922, which clipped treetops and crashed 0242 near Litchfield, Staffs.

Flight Sergeant, later Pilot Officer, Adrian M. Marks RAAF. Named on battle order of 101 Squadron 5 June 1944 sent by Jeff Gascoigne to author, July 2000. Without a number it is impossible to identify which of several RAF and RAAF men named Marks appearing on AJEX cards he may be.

1157751 Flight Sergeant Montague Phillips of 23 Leigham Hall, Streatham, London SW, volunteered 20 June 1940. Information from AJEX card.

Flight Sergeant D. J. Rubin, crash-landed Woodbridge 16 June 1944 in Lancaster I LL273 SR-D en route for Sterkrade, take-off 2310, hit by flak, no casualties. AJEX card not located.

533809 Flight Sergeant Joseph M. Starr RCAF. POW in Lancaster 1 ME613 SR-M2, 21-2 June 1944 over Weselling, take-off 2314, crashed Drunen, North Brabant, east of Waalwijk, Holland. Four POW, four killed. Appears in Chorley and Canadian Roll at AJEX museum.

1893650 Flight Sergeant Leslie Temple, son of S. Temple, 7 Wellington Road, London E10. Flew 30 missions with 101 from 22 June 1944 until 28 October 1944. Information from AJEX card and interview.

1891610 Flight Sergeant M. Vangelder, son of Mr H. Vangelder of 143 Golders Green Road, London NW11, volunteered 26 February 1943, taking part in frequent raids, such as on 3, 4, 7, 10, 14, 18, 30 April and 1, 2, 3, 7, 10 May 1945, and also in operations such as ‘Manna’ (dropping supplies to Dutch and Belgian civilians) and ‘Exodus’ (returning liberated POWs to UK). Information from 101 Operations Book, AIR 27 at PRO, and AJEX card.

1896373 Fl. Sgt. Henry Eric Wells aka Heinz Erich Feldstein, son of Israel/Felix and Annie nee Kozak, enlisted 1943 – did one complete tour Sep. 1944- Feb. 1945; later served RAF Intelligence BAOR Denazification. Full story in Sugarman, JHSE Vol 43 , 2011



1864380 Flight Sergeant Monty Barss RAFVR, of 258 West End Rd., Ruislip, son of Daniel and Lily, of Ruislip, Middx. Volunteered 10 December 1941. Killed in action 12-13 August 1944 in Lancaster III LM598 SR-M2 over Braunschweig, take-off Ludford 2120. Buried Hanover, allegedly first in a Russian cemetery. Information from WWRT 186 and Addendum 26, SO Flight Sergeant Leslie Temple and AJEX card.

164909 Pilot Officer Cyril Cousin RAFVR, son of Julius and Rachael of Hackney. Killed in action aged twenty on 29-30 August 1944 over Stettin in Lancaster III LM479 SR-F, take-off 2130, crashed Dejbjerg, 3 kms south of Lem in Denmark. Buried Dejbjerg. Information from WWRT 192 and AJEX card.

1895899 Flight Sergeant Wolf Herman Engelhardt, brother of Siegfried Engelhardt (later Stephen Ellis) of 9 Thirlecroft/Thistlecroft Road, Hersham, Walton-on-Thames, volunteered 24 May 1943. Killed in action 28 July 1944 in Lancaster III LM 462 SR-V2, take-off 2145 to Stuttgart, buried Rebrechien near Orleans. Information from AJEX card and correspondence with family.

169599/1457154 Pilot Officer Otto Fischl or Fischel, son of Mr Fischl of Natwood, Bowness, Westmoreland, volunteered 2 September 1941. Chaplain informed father and Jewish Chronicle on 11 April 1944 that he had been killed in action on 15 February 1944 over Berlin in Lancaster III DV 236 SR-G George, five others having bailed out and been captured. But on 16 April 1944 the Air Ministry reported he was POW No. 3528 at camp L3. The AJEX card says he was missing in action 15-16 February 1944, and a POW.

1253600 Flight Sergeant Leslie Henry Fox, son of Sydney and Sarah Fox, husband of Mrs A. Fox, of 144 Walm Lane, London NW2, volunteered 29 November 1940. Killed in action 27 November 1942, reported 12 February 1943, buried Hamburg. This information from WWRT 196 and AJEX card. But Chorley (see entry date for casualty) says he was in Lancaster III JB128 SR-U2, shot down over Berlin on 2-3 December 1943, take-off Ludford 1648, and was POW No. 269770 at Stalag 4B.

1396497/162792 Pilot Officer Ronald Halperin DFC, son of Frank and Yetta  nee  Siegler, with a sister B. Halperin, 71 Chiltern Court, Baker Street, London W1, and an uncle P. H. Halperin, 38 Heath Drive, London NW3, volunteered 22 September 1941, gazetted 15 February 1944, detached from 156 Squadron. Killed in action 21 February 1944 aged 22, buried Rheinberg. Information in WWRT 202 and AJEX card, but not Chorley.

1897268 Flight Sergeant George Kesten, parents perished in Poland in Holocaust, cousin of  B. Marguiles, 20 High Street, Waddesdon, Aylesbury, volunteered 12 July 1943, trained at Madeley. Killed in action 4 November 1944 aged 22 in Lancaster 1 ME865 SR-K over Bochum, take-off 1738, buried Rheinberg. Information in WWRT  208 and AJEX card.

1892478 Flight Sergeant Rudolf or Ronald D. King RAFVR, volunteered 11 October 1943. Killed in action 28 December 1944 aged 19 in Lancaster III PB634 SR-U over Bonn, take-off 1522, buried Rheinberg. Information from WWRT  208 and AJEX card. J. Van Geffen, in a letter of 3 June 2000, identifies him from the register of the Commonwealth War Graves Commision as son of Adolf and Helen Kempner, nephew of David Kempner of Golders Green, London, and of  D. King, 340 Andrews Road, London NW11, buried in Joint Grave 5 D18-19.

J92571/J36315 Pilot Officer Phillip Leeds RCAF, also known as Leibowitz, born Montreal  28 December 1917, son of Morris and Rose Leibowitz of 2781 Hampshire Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, graduate of Western University, brother Ben in US Army. Volunteered at Windsor, Ontario, 19 June 1942, reached UK October 1943, member of Caterpillar Club, having once parachuted from a crashing plane. Killed in action 6 November 1944 in Lancaster 1 PB692 SR-K2 over Gelsenkirchen, take-off 1200, crashed near Wanne-Eikel, buried Reichswald. Information from Canadian Jews at War  44.

J27285 Pilot Officer Moie Marder RCAF, born in Regina, son of  I. D. Marder, 1352 Bay Avenue, Trail, BC. His brother, Flying Officer Ben Marder, also in RCAF. Volunteered in Edmonton July 1942, killed in action 30 January 1944 in Lancaster I DV303 SR-U over Berlin, at Teltow, 16 kms southwest of Berlin, buried Berlin CWGC cemetery. Information from Canadian Jews at War 49.

162590/1040284/1040484 Flight Sergeant, later Pilot Officer, Stanley Mayer CGM, gazetted 1 November 1943 and Jewish Chronicle. Killed in action 26 November 1943 in Lancaster III  DV285 SR-Q over Berlin, take-off 1715, shot down Liege, buried Heverlee, Leuven. Information from AJEX card.

J39972 Flying Officer Morley Ornstein RCAF, son of Mrs E. F. Ornstein of 563 Euclid Avenue, Toronto. Killed in action 23 March 1945, in  Lancaster I DV245, on its 119th sortie, take-off 0711. Hit by flak and exploded  at 1000 between Moodreich and Stuhr 7 kms east-southeast of Dolmenhorst over Bruchstrasse (?), buried Osterholz, Becklingen, near Belsen, Germany. Information from Canadian Jews at War 53, and PRO AIR 27. [75]

2220929 Flight Sergeant Heinz George Popper, son of Jules and Eugenie Popper of 165 Westrow Drive, New Upney, Barking. Killed in action 29-30 August 1944, buried Malmo, Sweden. Information from AJEX card.

1144632 Flight Sergeant Anthony Ezra Rosen, son of  John Henry and Farmy E. Rosen of 35 Jamieson Road, Winton, Bournemouth, volunteered February 1941. Survived crash on  23 September 1943 in Lancaster I W4923 SR-N2 after Mannheim raid, near Ludford, take-off 1835, returned 0335. Killed in action 18-19 November 1943 in Lancaster III LM 370 SR-K2 over Berlin, take-off Ludford 1721, buried Schoonebeek, 14 kms southeast of Drente, Holland. Information from WWRT  222 and AJEX card.

1876107 Flight Sergeant Hans Heinz Schwartz or Schwarz, also known as Henry Blake, son of Erich and Elli Schwartz of 17 Mapesbury Court, Shoot-up Hill, Cricklewood, London NW2, volunteered 25 April 1943. Killed in action aged 19 on 12-13 August 1944 in Lancaster III PB258 SR-V over Braunschweig, buried Haverlee, Leuven, Belgium. Information from AJEX card.

R151355 Flight Sergeant Samuel Lewis Silver RCAF, husband of Violet Silver of 229 Catherine Street, Ottowa. Killed in action 24 May 1944 in Lancaster I DV389 SR-X  over Aachen, crashed Olzheim, 10 kms northeast of Prum, buried Rheinberg. Information from Canadian Jews at War 69.

416574 Flight Sergeant Richard Maitland Singer RNZAF, son of Richard Arnold and Dorothy nee Nicol of Auckland. Killed in action on 9 Nov 1944, buried Oosterbeek, Arnhem. Included in Addendum 30 by present writer from personal visit to Oosterbeek. But he is perhaps Wireless Operator R. J. or J. H. Singer RAAF, Lancaster III  JB149 SR-R2 over Berlin, take-off 1947, shot down 3-4 September 1943, POW No. 222845, Stalag 4B, the only Singer to survive as POW (see date entry in Chorley).

1309934/158600 Pilot Officer Henry Tiller, son of Herman and Esther Tiller, 66 Wellesley Street, London E1. Killed in action 2-3 December 1943 aged 23 in Lancaster III LM363 SR-P over Berlin, take-off Ludford 1641, crashed Diephulz, buried Rheinberg. Information from WWRT  230 and AJEX card.

172574 Flying Officer H. Taylor, son of Mrs B. Taylor, 201 East 35th Street, New York, nephew of M. Doniger, 16 Laverton Road, St Annes’s, Lancashire, killed in action, 30 July 1944. Information from AJEX card. [A family relative says that Taylor did not die in the raid]

1620582/1389282 Corporal, later Flight Sergeant, Favel Tomas, also known as Tomachepolsky/Tomachopolski, husband of Mrs M. Tomachelpolsky, volunteered 14 November 1941, killed in action 2 November 1943 in Lancaster III DV265 SR-F over Dusseldorf, take-off Ludford 1713, buried Reichswald. In formation from Addendum 31 and AJEX card.

951320/182094/51330 Pilot Officer Aubrey Arnold Weldon DFM, son of Bernard L. W. and Alice Weldon, 56 Lord Street, Southport and Thurcroft, Yorkshire. Had been with 150 Squadron. Chorley says he was killed in action on 2-3 December 1943 with PO Tiller (listed above). Buried Rheinberg. Information from Addendum 105, AJEX card and Jewish Chronicle 5 December 1941.

J43864 Pilot Officer Benny Yellin RCAF, killed in action 14 October 1944 in Lancaster 1  1174 SR-U over Duisberg, take-off 0222; Runnymede Memorial. Benny was from Montreal, 5319 St Urbain Street – Canadian Jews at War p.81

J43636 Pilot Officer Bernard Zimring RCAF, son of Samuel and Elsie of 4527 Harvard Ave., Montreal, born 1924 in Kenora, Ontario. Killed in action 4 November 1944 in Lancaster 1 NF936 SR-F over Bochum, take off 1709; buried  Reichswald. Canadian Jews at War p.84


The following names, appearing in R. Alexander’s 101 Squadron, Roll of Honour (London 1979) and Chorley’s six-volume Bomber Command Losses World War Two  (London 1997-8), might be Jewish, but no AJEX Jewish chaplains cards could be found for them. In some cases the identifications are supported by eye-witness reports. Since many Jewish fliers took aliases in case they were taken prisoner, or even claimed to be Church of England when enlisting in order to avoid being identified as Jewish on their ID tags, the roll probably does not include all the SOs of Jewish origin who were killed in action.

Flight Sergeant W. R. L. Hart, killed in action 16 January 1945.

Flying Officer G. W. Hess, killed in action 13 March 1945.

Flight Sergeant G. P. Herman RCAF, killed in action 18 November 1943, with A. E. Rosen.

Pilot Officer W. E. M. Kon RCAF, killed in action 5 October 1944 in Lancaster 1 LL758 SR-A over Saarbrucken, take-off 1706, crashed at Trembleur near Liege, 5 kms east-northeast of Herstel, buried at Hotton.

Flying Officer J. M. Lyons, killed in action 29 November 1944 in Lancaster III LM755 SR-N over Dortmund, take-off 1208, buried Reichswald.

J/95545 Flight Sergeant Rudy W. Mohr/Mahr RCAF, son of John and Anna Mohr of Winnipeg, killed in action 7 March 1945 aged 19 over Dessau, bombing the railways supplying the Junkers jet engines and testing base, in Lancaster I PD268 SR-O. Memorial at Runnymede.

Flight Sergeant A. W. Schneider, killed in action 14 January 1944 in Lancaster III DV 287 SR-N over Braunschweig, shot down by night fighter at 1830, crashed at Klezieraneen, Drenthe, 10 kms southeast of Emmen, Holland.

J86922 Pilot Officer and Flight Sergeant Gerhard Edgar Herbert Schultz RCAF, killed in action 27 April 1944 in Lancaster II ILM 493 SR-X over Friedrichshafen, take-off Ludford 2140, shot down over Oberwinden near Eizbach, buried Durnbach. K. Scott, a 101 veteran from Kings Lynn, [76] who knew Schultz well, relates that he joined 101 at Ludford in October 1943, sharing hut 13 with Mr Scott and his crew. A quiet Canadian from Medicine Hat City, he was always playing ‘Red River Valley’ on his mandolin. He joined the crew for their twelfth mission on 8 October to Hanover, take-off 2250, returning after 5 hours and 40 minutes. Schultz went to another crew to finish his own tour of missions while Mr Scott’s crew went on leave on 24 February 1944, and soon after Schultz was killed. His grave has a cross on it, but his name suggests he may have been Jewish or of Jewish origin and that, like many others, he kept this secret in case of capture. (Photo of the grave from Ken Lewis.)

Wireless Operator C. H. Woelfe RCAF, killed in action 20 July 1944 in Lancaster 1 W4976 SR-P over Courtrai, take-off 0006, crashed over town, buried Wevelegem, Belgium.


Probable Jews who survived, extracted from PRO  802/3/4/5 File AIR 27 

Pilot Officer Berg RAF

J43539 Flight Sergeant R. P. Berg RCAF

R180913 Wireless Operator N. M. Berger RCAF

Flight Sergeant A. D. Block RAF

R218506 Flight Sergeant M. Gorbowitsky RCAF

Flying Officer Grauman RAF

AUS429920 Flying Officer J. A. Kurtzer

J40415 Flying Officer Lobsinger RCAF

Flight Sergeant H. Lyon RAF

J42681 Flying Officer A. L. Scheafer RCAF

J29097 Flight Lieutenant W. G. Schenk RCAF

Pilot Officer Snyder (spelling?)

J38295 Flying Officer J. R. Weinfield RCAF

J41384 Flying Officer J. E. Zittrer RCAF


Martin Sugarman, Reprinted with Permission

[1]   J. J. Halley, Squadrons of the RAF and Commonwealth (London 1988 ) 175-6 and P. Moyes, Bomber Squadrons of the RAF (London 1988) 135-8.

[2]   101 Squadron Website article sent to the author by the nephew of  Flight Sergeant W. H. Engelhardt, Special Operator, see below.

[3] Journal of  St Cross College, Oxford (1996) Record No. 14, pages 36-8,  article by former 101 SO Reuben Herscovitz.

[4] A. Brookes, Bomber Squadron at War - 101  Squadron (London 1983) 97.

[5] Letter from former SO R. Crafer, November 2000.

[6] Moyes (see n. 1) 135-8.

[7]   The Germans called this note Dudelsack, 'bagpipes', see P. Hinchliffe, The Other Battle (London 1996) 196.

[8] Some reports wrongly suggest SOs broadcast false messages, but their job was chiefly to disrupt German transmissions. See P. Otter, Maximum Effort - Part 1 (London 1990) 23, see also note 10 below.

[9]   Interview  with Flight Sergeant Leslie Temple, 13 May 2000.

[10] M. Streetly, Confound and Destroy (London 1978) 22.

[11] B. B. Halpenny, Action Stations 2 (London 1981) 130-3.

[12] Brookes (see n. 4) 227.

[13] Letter from SO Sam Brookes, July 2000.

[14] Interview with Flight Sergeant Leslie Temple, 13 May 2000.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Otter (see n. 8) 24.

[17] Halpenny (see n. 11) pp. 130-3

[18] Letter and telephone conversation, November 2000.

[19] 101 website (see n. 2); Brookes (see n. 4) 235 may refer to a different incident.

[20] Telephone conversation with his brother David in Canvey, August 2000.

[21] Streetly (see n. 10) p.22

[22] M. Middlebrooke, The Nuremberg Raid, March 30-1 1944 (London 1973) 135.

[23]   Telephone conversation with his cousin, Raymond Barran, 24 July 2000.

[24] Middlebrooke (see n. 22) 171.

[25] Halpenny (see n. 11) pp. 130-3

[26]   M. Middlebrooke and C. Everitt, Bomber Command War Diaries (London 1985) 736.

[27] The PRO 802/3/4/5 records of 101 Squadron, AIR 27, give little more than crew names and brief raid reports, but many Jewish-sounding names emerge, such as Corporal G. Cohen and Herscovitz, listed in the appendices below. See Brookes (see n. 4) 227; R. Alexander, 101 Squadron (London 1979) appendices, and the six volumes of W. R. Chorley, Bomber Command Losses in World War Two (London 1997-8).

[28]   Telephone conversation, 27 April 2000.

[29]   J. A. Davies, A Leap in the Dark (London 1994) 2-13.

[30] Journal of St Cross College, Oxford (1997) Record No. 15, pp. 40-2, Herscovitz obituary.

[31] Davies (see n. 29) 22.

[32] Correspondence and telephone conversation with J. A. Davies, OBE, LLD, August 2000.

[33] Newspaper obituary of August 1998, sent to author by J. A. Davies. Unknown source.

[34] Letter to author, August 2000.

[35]   See n. 30.

[36]   Bruce Lewis, Aircrew (London 2000) 137.

[37]   Telephone conversation, 27 April 2000.

[38]   Also referred to by H. Guy Meadows in a letter of November 2000, who says Felix came via Canada as well.

[39] This may be 1892478 Flight Sergeant Rudolf King, whose AJEX card states he was killed, according to Alexander (see n. 27 - appendices), on 28 December 1944.

[40]   Letter to author, November 2000.

[41]   Brookes (see n. 27) 227.

[42] Leslie Temple interview (see n. 15).

[43] Interview at his home, 13 May 2000.

[44] Unpublished Heilig autobiography, sent to author, June 2000 - now published.

[45] Ibid. and interview.

[46] Letter from Heilig, living in Austria, 19 May 2000.

[47] Letter to author, October 2000.

[48] Letter from Queensland, Australia, August 2000.

[49] Telephone conversation, November 2000.

[50] Letter, October 2000.

[51] G. Pynt, The Australian Jewry Book of Honour (Australia 1973) 213 mentions thirteen airmen named Marks, but it is unclear which one is referred to here.

[52]   T. Boiten, Night Airwar (London 1999) 137.

[53]   Ibid.

[54] Telephone conversation, 1 May 2000. He unfortunately died in 2001.

[55] H. Morris, We Will Remember Them - an Addendum (This is an addendum to We Will Remember Them - The British Jewry Book of Honour of WW2 ) (London 1994) 26.

[56]   Chorley (see n. 27) - see entry for casualties on that day.

[57]   Passport and other documents lent by the family.

[58]   Letter in AJEX archives.

[59] Flight Sergeant E. R. Brown, Flight Sergeant T. Crane, Pilot Officer P. J. Hyland, who lived in Entre Rios, Argentina, Flight Sergeant J. Hodgson, Flight Sergeant J. T. V. Moore, Flight Sergeant C. E. Smith, Pilot Officer A.W. Tuuri, RCAF.

[60]   Middlebrook and Everitt (see n. 26) 418.

[61]   D. Webster and J. Frankland, The Strategic Air Offensive Against Germany, 1939-45 (London 1961) 2:202.

[62]   Ibid. 61, the Nuremberg Raid, 30-1 March 1944.

[63]   Davies (see n. 29) 6.

[64] Aileen Clayton, The Enemy is Listening - Story of the Y Service (London 1983, Cressy 1993) describes German-speaking Palestinians serving in this field, but fails to mention that they were Jews.

[65]   Peter Leighton-Langer, German, Austrian and Other 'Enemy Aliens' in the Allied Forces in World War Two subtitled The King's Own Loyal Enemy Aliens (Berlin 2000) -  this is a manuscript in English held at AJEX archives. The original German volume is called X steht fur unbekannt and was published in Berlin in 1998.

[66] Heilig's autobiography.

[67] Jack Burston, 'Listening to German Fighter Control', AJEX Journal (November 2000) 13.

[68] Letter, 17 May 2000.

[69]   R. Burns, The Life and Times of A. D. Blumlein (London 2000), Foreword. The plane crashed at Welsh Bicknor, Ross-on-Wye, and he and his crew are buried at Ross and Whitchurch cemetery (CWGC information).

[70]   R. V. Jones, Most Secret War (London 1978) index.

[71] James Leasor, Green Beach (London 1975) tells the whole story, updated by Martin Sugarman in a paper entitled 'Jack Nissenthal - the VC Hero who Never Was', Orders and Medals Research Society Journal (London, Summer 1998) 155-65, republished in Military Advisor (California, Summer 1998) 16-22.

[72] Max Herman Alexander Neuman, born 7 February 1897 in Chelsea, London, son of Herman and Sarah Neuman, served in the Great War, became a Cambridge Mathematics don and in September 1942 was summoned to Bletchley Park where he developed the 'Collossos', the world's first programmable computer. This was used to break the 'Lorenz' codes, an advanced version of 'Enigma', used between Hitler himself and his High Command. A display at Bletchley Park Museum and St John's College, Cambridge, explains his contribution to the war effort. He died in 1984.

[73] 101 Squadron Lancasters were coded 'SR'.

[74]   Telephone conversation with SO comrade Peter Holway of Leeds.

[75]   Chorley (see n. 27) 6; p. 82: says it was Lancaster III DV245 SR-S and was over Bremen.

[76] Correspondence, October 2000.