Fonthill Media, RAF 100 Group

Title: RAF 100 Group... 
Author: Janine Harrington
Publisher: Fonthill Media
ISBN: 978-1-78155-458-6

... The Birth of Electronic Warfare

This is the story of the first real use of airborne electronic countermeasures to any large extent.  A joint effort between the USAAF and the RAF, it was formed in 1943.  The author is a founder member and secretary of the 100 Group Association, founded as a way of remembering members of the largely unknown group.  The work they did in the war was covered by the Official Secrets Act, which they took very seriously, and many who lived on after the war took any account of their role in the war with them when they passed.  With some of the work covered by a limit of 100 years within the Official Secrets Act, those elements remain hidden from us to this day.  That isn't the case with many of the stories though, and this puts that work down to tell us what the Group as a whole got up to, along with telling us the various roles and equipment they undertook and the individual stories of a number of the people involved.

Early in the book there is an Order of Battle, a table listing the various squadrons, when they joined the Group, the aircraft they flew, and the bases they operated from, all of which were in Norfolk.  An interesting variety of aircraft, with Wellington, Stirling and Halifax, B-17 and B-24, Beaufighter Mosquito and P-38.  Other lists include the various types of equipment, mostly developed by the TRE, the Telecommunications Research Establishment based in Malvern.  Some names will be familiar, like that of Window, but others less so, and these include Airborne Cigar, Jostle, Mandrel and Airborne Grocer among others.  These include Jammers, Spoofers and Homers.  They would interfere with enemy radars, interrupt communications between enemy fighter controllers and pilots or allow fighters to home in to enemy fighters using their radar.  One of the weirdest in my mind, is who thought of putting microphones in the engine nacelles of the bomber, and then broadcasting that noise as interference to enemy communications.

The story is split across 23 chapters, which tells the Group's story from the original formation of the Group onwards.  Their early missions are remembered by a number of aircrew, their briefings and their operations.  They didn't always accompany the main raids but flew their independent missions in support of the main force, providing interference to the enemy defences, drawing them away from the bombers.  They supported the so-called Big Week, D-Day, Market Garden, raid on the Tirpitz and many others along with the memories of aircrew who took part in these missions giving first hand accounts of what they did.  These are accompanied by plenty of detail of the individual operations as well.

Overall an interesting read about a Group of aircraft, equipment and men which has remained largely in the shadows, covered for many years by the veil of secrecy, so it is good that their story has been told in this new book.

List Price in the UK is £25.00.

For details of this and other books by Fonthill Media, do check their website.