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August 09 , 2010

Arctic Airmen

The RAF in Spitsbergen and North Russia, 1942


<div>In 1942 a Catalina crew of 219 Squadron, based in the Shetlands, was selected to carry out a series of top secret operations, including a flight to the North Pole. They were made at the same time as a Norwegian expedition to Spitzbergen to keep the Germans out of the area. The flights were over 24 hours long and reached the limits of human endurance in the extreme cold. Later, the Squadron provided cover for the Russian convoys. Ernest Schofield was the navigator on the crew and retained the logs. These were extraordinary missions and on 21 September one ended with a Ju88 attack and tragedy: "The pilot's cockpit was dulled with smoke. Tim was falling from his seat... We gave him a shot of morphia, for what help it might have been..."</div>

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