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Last episode (First series) taken from The Rover No. 1734 – September 20th 1958.


    Sergeant Matt Braddock, V.C. and bar, was one of the R.A.F.’s greatest pilots. His story is told by Sergeant George Bourne, who flew as his navigator and observer. In 1941, they were at East Saltney with Beaufighters, engaged in the campaign against German minelayers. Braddock considered he had proof that the C.O., Wing-Commander Rockner, had through recklessness, shot down at least two British planes. A camera was found after a Messerschmitt 110 had been shot down by Braddock. When the film was developed, it indicated that the enemy had located the radar and wireless station at Salterton, from which the campaign against the minelayers was directed. An attack on Salterton seemed imminent.

Before it was light next morning, and after only a few hours’ sleep, Braddock and I were having breakfast. We were under orders to take off on patrol at dawn. “The trouble about Salterton is that it’s so exposed,” Braddock said grimly. “It had to be located near the sea, of course.”

“I heard that some light anti-aircraft guns have been rushed there during the night,” I said. Braddock stirred sugar into his tea. “If we were a German air crew, George, I bet we could drop a stick of bombs slap across the place without hurt,” he said. We finished our meal and went out. We got into our flying clothes. The next step was to be briefed. “We’re putting you up to patrol on this line,” said the Briefing Officer, pointing to his chart. “You’ll notice that you’ll never be far from Salterton and that’s in case the enemy try to pull a fast one. Don’t fly over the place if you can help it, as it’s now protected by light ack-ack guns.” “Don’t the soldiers know a Beaufighter when they see one?” growled Braddock. “I wouldn’t bank on it,” smiled the Briefing Officer. Horizontal visibility was no more than two miles when we took off. We gained height and turned towards the estuary. Braddock switched over to the Salterton wireless channel. “Oliver” Twist was the Controller on duty. “It may be tricky if intruders come over,” he told us. “Look out for two convoys with air escorts.” We flew in and out of the clouds, above and below, as we stooged about. We were turning when Braddock gave the Beau more stick and rudder and moved us round fast. His hand moved on the throttles and our motors roared on a higher pitch. “Plane just went into big cloud!” he exclaimed. “Just saw its tail. Looked like a Junkers!” He called Salterton. “Hullo, Salterton, this is Searcher Four.” “Sorry, I’ve nothing for you,” Twist answered. “I have for you,” snapped Braddock. “There’s a Junkers heading your way. Sound your warning! It’s about fifteen miles from you now and flying through cloud.” There was a quiver in Twist’s voice. “Thanks,” he said jerkily. Braddock had us going full power. At Salterton the siren would be wailing to alert the men at the Bofors guns and to send men and women not on duty to the dug-outs. But those on watch, like Twist, would be sticking it out in huts protected only by some sandbags. Landward there was a break in the clouds. Braddock was racing for it. He was out to try to intercept the Junkers. Soon we approached the clear sky. “Where the blazes is he?” Braddock growled. “He could have turned back,” I said. “Mebbe,” muttered Braddock. “He may know we’re hunting him.” We raced on towards the low line of the coast. Braddock’s intention was to get into position to intercept the Junkers should it break from its cloud cover. “He could have sheered off,” muttered Braddock. “Or he may still be hanging about. It’s like trying to find a rat in a rick-yard.” As he was speaking, I saw puffs of smoke on the ground and then, through the roar of the engines, heard the sharp bok-bok, bok-bok of exploding shells. “They’re shooting, Brad,” I shouted. “The guns are having a bash at us!”


I didn’t need to tell him. At the first crack of the guns he’d started to take evasive action, throwing the nose down in order to gain speed rapidly. “Flares!” he snapped. Red and yellow were the recognition colours of the morning and I quickly pushed the appropriate flares down the chute.

In the instant before they burst into brilliant light astern of us, there was a bang like a clap of thunder and a grinding of metal. The Beau staggered. The plane shook as if we’d had a collision, I got a whiff of burning rubber and then Braddock was yelling at me to bale out. “Get out of it, George,” he roared. “Quick! Are you hearing me?” “Yes!” I exclaimed and pulled out the inter-com plug and released my straps. I opened the escape hatch and smoke was swirling round me as I heaved myself through, made sure that nothing was catching, gave another shove and was lifted away by the rush of air. I had a blurred glimpse of the tailplane and then I was falling. I pulled the ripcord of my parachute and, for a moment, nothing seemed to happen. As I saw the green fields and hedges coming up at me, I thought, “This is it!” It was a violent, hurried rush and I shuddered and shut my eyes, the parachute had opened and I was gliding down. I tried to remember the drill. I brought my feet together and gripped the cord of the chute firmly. I braced myself and then hit the ground with a bump that rattled every bone in my body. I pressed the release box of my harness and then lay winded. I could not see Braddock. I could not see a sign of the plane. I pushed myself up on to tottering feet. I’d narrowly missed some telegraph wires and a tree. I was on a hillock a mile or so inland from the sea. Not so far away were the aerials of Salterton. I hoped Braddock had had time to chuck himself out. I must have made my jump from little more than a thousand feet so his time had been limited. Then I heard the sound of aircraft motors. I gazed seawards and saw from where the sound came. The plane was flying beneath the clouds and, at first glance, I spotted it was a Junkers. Almost as I spotted it, flares fizzed from it and hung in space. One was red and the other a dazzling yellow. I shouted, not that there was anyone to hear. The enemy were giving out signal. The wily Germans in the Junkers were using our recognition colours which, I should make clear, were changed several times in the course of a day. The guns which had winged us stayed silent. The gunners thought the Junkers was one of ours while it was making its vital run-in. The plane dived. It screeched down on Salterton with its bomb doors open. Belatedly the guns roared but the shell flashes were far astern of the Junkers. I had a clear view of the bombs falling. There were three terrific explosions as the stick fell slap across the camp. The Junkers came out of its dive and raced away across country. I left the field and limped away down the lane. The Germans must have seen the shooting at our Beau and our use of the flares had tipped them off as to the colours to use. I saw three soldiers looking at me, from over a hedge. Three Bofors guns, with their bell mouths, were standing under camouflage nets in a small orchard. A young fellow in a steel helmet, with the pips of a second lieutenant on the shoulder straps of his battledress ran over. “Are you the chap who baled out?” he asked hoarsely. “That’s me,” I said grimly. “Thank goodness you got down all right!” he exclaimed. “What about the plane I came from?” I inquired tensely. “It was still flying when it went out of sight,” he said. “The starboard wing was down and it was smoking, but it looked as if the pilot had some control left.”


The young officer’s name was Kedgrow, I found out. He looked tremendously worried and concerned. “We’d just had a warning that an attack was imminent when we sighted you under the cloud,” he said. “It was a head on view.

We thought you were the Junkers and only had a few moments left to stop an attack so we fired. As soon as you dropped the flares we stopped, but it was too late.” “And then Jerry came along and foxed you,” I growled. He gave a dejected nod. I was torn by anxiety as we walked to the camp. The Beau had been in a bad way. It did not seem possible that even Braddock could have got it down safely. Through the smoke and confusion we saw a shattered hut leaning into a smoking crater and an overturned and burning radar caravan. Oliver Twist hurried towards us. “What’s happened to Brad?” I shouted. “I don’t know!” he exclaimed. “All out telephone lines are down.” “Has anyone been killed?” Kedgrow demanded harshly. “We don’t think so,” Twist answered. “Thanks to Braddock’s warning we’d got the crews into the dug-outs. Our mess hut got the worst of it. The bombs missed the transmitters and the operations room. It’s been a bad show.” “Don’t rub it in,” muttered Kedgrow. He took me back to the battery to wait for a vehicle and I had a mug of tea in the hut. A dozen aircraft models hung by strings from the roof. The wall was plastered with pictures of planes, our own and the enemy’s. “You see we didn’t slip up through lack of keenness,” Kedgrow said. “All the chaps are swotting up aircraft recognition, but the trouble is that we haven’t had much real practice. We were brought down here from the North-West, where the only planes we saw regularly were training types, Ansons, Oxfords and the like. I’d never seen a Beaufighter in the air before today.” I must have been with the Gunners for an hour when there was a shout that an R.A.F. van was coming down the lane. I hurried out stiffly and waved to attract attention. The van stopped by the gate and Braddock swung the door open and jumped out. “So there you are, George!” he exclaimed. “We’ve been out looking for you and found your parachute.” “What happened to you?” I asked. “I stayed in and got it down,” said Braddock laconically. “In one piece?” I inquired. “Yes,” he said. “I meant to join the birds along with you. Then I got a bit of response from the controls and decided to have a shot at getting home.” He stared round grimly. “Are these the chaps who shot at us?” he asked. “It was our first shoot,” Kedgrow said. “As I’ve been telling Sergeant Bourne, we were rushed down from Lancashire yesterday.” “They make good tea, Brad,” I remarked. “Then I don’t mind if I do,” chuckled Braddock. It was typical of Braddock that he had no sense of grievance when he found out that we’d been shot at by men who were inexperienced in aircraft recognition. “Don’t let it get you down,” he said to Kedgrow. “I know you only had a few seconds in which to decide whether to fire or not.” “Yes, you were moving fast,” replied Kedgrow. “Anyway they can’t complain about the accuracy of your shooting,” chuckled Braddock. It was a remark which the young officer accepted with a rueful grin.


Braddock and I squatted in the back of the van on the journey back to East Saltney. “Rockner’s after his scalp,” he growled. “After Kedgrow’s scalp, you mean?” I asked. Braddock nodded. “It comes well from him, doesn’t it?” he said.

“We know he’s shot down a Wellington and a Hudson, but now he’s kicking up a stink because those lads took a crack at us. They’re not to blame. It’s the brasshats who picked on them to guard Salterton who need their heads seeing to.” “So, Kedgrow is going to get the chop,” I muttered. “Not if I can help it,” said Braddock. “There’s to be an inquiry today. We shall be there.” The first thing I saw on getting back to the drome was our shattered Beaufighter. How Braddock had managed to fly it home and put it down baffled me. The starboard wing was hanging by a few strips of jagged metal and the tail had a kink in it. I had to go and see the doctor, who agreed that I was still in one piece, with all my bones in the correct places, but said he was going to take me off flying for a day or two. Our patrols were busy all day and we managed to get a poke back at the enemy when Squadron-Leader Jesson, our new second-in-command, intercepted and shot down a Heinkel mine-layer. I was having a laze on my bed in the late afternoon when Braddock came into the hut. “The inquiry is at six 0’clock,” he announced. “A brigadier is coming and, from all accounts, Rockner will be throwing his weight about.” “He’s going to be the big man, is he?” I exclaimed. “He means to shoot young Kedgrow down in flames,” growled Braddock. “He’s taking the line that his mistake was inexcusable.” The loudspeaker of the tannoy system gave an order: “Corporal Tann will report to the Duty officer when the epidiascope in room ten has been installed.” “Room ten,” echoed Braddock. “That’s where the inquiry is being held.” “Sounds as if we’re going to have a picture show,” I said, for an epidiascope was something like a magic lantern. Whereas a magic lantern was operated with slides, an epidiascope was far more flexible in it’s uses. It was of great use in teaching aircraft recognition. If you slipped a card into it, with a silhouette or picture of an aircraft, the image was greatly magnified and thrown on to a screen. Braddock surprised me by doing a swift about-turn and dashing out of the hut. I did not see him again until I went over to room ten in the administration buildings. The screen for the epidiascope had been put up. Flying Officer Hatherly, who flew as Rockner’s navigator, was going to work the apparatus. “Ha, ha,” he wuffed at me, his big moustache fluttering, “so you joined the Caterpillar Club today.” To be eligible for membership of the Caterpillar Club, a man had to do a parachute escape. “Stout effort,” said Hatherly. “But the Guns put up a filthy show, filthy!” Kedgrow must have heard, for he came in a moment later. His expression was strained. He was in a spot. I saw red tabs on khaki and Brigadier Kentish was ushered into the room by Rockner. I liked the look of the soldier. He appeared tough and hard bitten, but he impressed by his bearing and personality. Jesson and Braddock entered and the door was closed. Rockner, who was short and dapper, sat with the brigadier at a table placed at the side of the screen. “I am grateful to Brigadier Kentish for agreeing so promptly to my suggestion that we should hold a quick inquiry into the unfortunate events of this morning,” purred Rockner. “We want to get to the bottom of it, of course,” said the brigadier gruffly. “The facts are beyond dispute!” exclaimed Rockner. “One of my Beaufighters was shot at and severely damaged. It would have been written off except for the skill of its pilot. Then, within five minutes, a Junkers was permitted to unload its bombs without a shot being fired at it.” “Don’t forget it gave a false signal,” Braddock interrupted. “That would be enough to make the Gunners hold their fire.” “The Gunners would certainly have been wrong to have fired when the aircraft gave the recognition signal of the day,” said the brigadier. Rockner gave Braddock a cold look. “Let us get down to brass tacks,” he snapped. “There was confusion on the part of the Gunners. That their action in firing at the Beaufighter was in my view inexcusable will best be indicated by the use of pictures. Can we have the lights out, please?” I switched off the lights. The epidiascope threw its beam on to the screen. Rockner moved from his chair and stood by the side of the screen with a pointer. “Ready, Hatherly!” he exclaimed. Hatherly selected a card from the stack on the table, glanced at the inscription on the back and then placed it in the machine. On the screen appeared the photographs of two planes. The views were from below and head-on. Rockner pointed to the plane on the left-hand side. “Here we have a Beaufighter, Brigadier,” he said. “You will see,” he continued, “that there are pronounced differences when you compare it with the aircraft on the right, the Junkers 88.” “No, sir,” Kedgrow blurted out. “The one on the left isn’t a Beaufighter, no, and the other isn’t a Junkers.” “What?” snarled Rockner. I heard Braddock chuckle. The brigadier came in quickly. “Let’s get this sorted out, Wing Commander,” he said. “What do you say these aircraft are?” The silence was tense. Rockner had to say something. It was up to him! “Have you got the cards mixed up, Hatherly/” he spluttered. “No, sir,” gasped Hatherly. “Its what it says on the back, sir.” “That isn’t the point,” said the brigadier icily. “From my knowledge of aircraft I should say that the plane you’ve described to us as a Beaufighter is the new German Messerschmitt 210.” “That’s what it is, sir!” exclaimed Kedgrow. “I would like the Wing Commander to give us his version of the second machine,” Brigadier Kentish barked. “It certainly isn’t the Junkers 88.” “My mistake,” blustered Rockner. “On second glance I see it is a Blemheim. Stupid of me! Slip of the tongue.” “You’ve made two slips of the tongue,” said the brigadier coldly. “If a senior officer of the R.A.F., the commander of a fighter squadron, becomes confused, there is surely something to be said for this young man who admittedly made a mistake under difficult conditions and with only a few seconds in which to make up his mind. I don’t know if you wish to go on with your magic lantern show,” the brigadier went on. “It might perhaps be valuable if we did see a comparison between the types.” In sorting through the cards, Hatherly knocked some on to the floor. Braddock stepped to the table. He found a card and slid it into the epidiascope. The images thrown on the screen were tiny. “One’s a Beaufighter, and the other a Junkers,” stated Braddock. “This photo presents just about the view that Lieutenant Kedgrow had this morning.” “I know which is which now,” muttered Kedgrow. The brigadier looked inquiringly at Rockner. “Which is which, Wing Commander?” he asked. Rockner stared at the screen and there was a long hush. “Why, the Beaufighter is on the right,” he said. The answer was correct. But the brigadier had been keeping an eye on his wrist watch. “it took you twenty-one seconds to make up your mind, sir,” he said. “My young officer had far less time to decide this morning. I’m not seeking to excuse him but your own show strikes me as being extremely lame. The data will be of value in the preparation of the official report of the incident.” I put the lights on and Rockner’s face was red. So was the back of his neck. The inquiry which he had staged had backfired! Braddock scowled as we walked down the corridor. “It makes me see red to think Rockner letting down the R.A.F., but I had to do it, George,” he said. “You changed the titles on the back of the epidiascope cards, of course,” I muttered. Braddock nodded. “Rockner intended to put young Kedgrow on the rack and it wasn’t right,” he said.


Within an hour, the squadron was brought forward to readiness. The “gen” was that a German raid on a Midland target was anticipated. It was a strange thing how the enemy often gave their wireless directional beam across their proposed target.

I was grounded by the doctor and Braddock hadn’t a plane to fly. At about nine o’clock, I was in the sergeants’ mess. I had some letters to write and got down to it. Braddock had disappeared and I was on my own. The black-out curtains over the door parted and Braddock burst in. He was in flying-kit and carrying his helmet. “Come on, George,” he snapped “I want you! Bring that cushion!” “The cushion?” I gasped. “Come on, George,” he snapped, and whirled back towards the door, “I’ll give you the gen as we go along. Rockner’s in the operations hut. He’s going to fly.” I grabbed a cushion and followed Braddock out. He went striding along towards the bay where the C.O.’s Beaufighter was standing. The shape of the Beau loomed dimly in the darkness. Braddock whispered his instructions and I wasn’t sure that I liked them. We worked silently round until we were waiting between the operations hut and the Beaufighter. The engines in the aircraft in the next bay were started up. It was a warming up run and they were just ticking over when Braddock whispered. “Here they come! Do your stuff, George.” Out of the darkness, coming from the operations hut, were two figures. The difference in their height made it possible to pick out Rockner from Hatherly. “Is that you, sir?” inquired the voice of the flight sergeant. “Yes, we’re taking off now,” snapped Rockner. As the two of them turned towards the aircraft I stole up behind Hatherly, rammed the cushion over his face and pulled him over backwards. He kicked like fury but was not in danger of suffocating. Braddock, now wearing his flying helmet, climbed up after Rockner into the Beau. He was going to fly as his observer. Rockner had no idea that a substitution of observers had been made. He entertained no suspicion that Braddock was sitting behind him. Voices over the inter-com in an aircraft, with the engines making a thunderous sound come through like squawks. The Beau was flying under orders from Mittering Control. “Hello, Searcher One,” was the call. “Hostile planes are approaching the Humber. Your course is zero four five degrees, angels ten.” The plane roared on through the night, the only light the faint glow from the instrument panel. “Let’s hope for some good hunting, Hatherly,” said Rockner. “Yes, sir,” answered Braddock solemnly. Searchlights were exposed to the north-east. The Beau was closing on them when the controller called urgently. “Hello, Searcher One,” he rapped out. “There is an aircraft four miles in front. Identify and challenge!” “Flash!” snapped the Controller, giving the order for the A.I. (radar) equipment to be used. “Flashing!” said Braddock. “Aircraft slightly to starboard and below!” Rockner made the change of course. An excited shout broke from him as against the glow of the searchlights he saw the outline of a plane. “We’ll give it him in the guts,” he shouted and stabbed the firing button. There was a vivid flash and then Rockner snarled with fury because the guns had not fired. He turned back for East Saltney, raging all the way. It was when he landed that the show-down came. Squadron Leader Jesson met the C.O. as he descended from the Beau followed by Braddock. “You went without Hatherly, sir,” he said. “I’ve just come back myself and found him in the mess.” “Then who flew with me?” snarled Rockner. “I did,” growled Braddock. “I stopped another mass murder by altering the gun switch. The plane you were going to shoot down was a Wellington.” “You’re under arrest for tampering with an aircraft,” spluttered Rockner. “As for the plane being a Wellington, I identified it clearly as a Heinkel.” Braddock chuckled grimly. “You were carrying a camera tonight and that was a photo flash you let off when you squeezed the button,” he said. “You’ll see it was a Wellington—and others will see it, too. I don’t care a hang if I get smacked over the knuckles, Rockner, but you’ve finished with flying.”


I Flew with Braddock 31 episodes appeared in The Rover issues 1414 – 1444 (1952 - 1953)

I Flew with Braddock 22 episodes appeared in The Rover issues 1445 - 1466 (1953)

Braddock Flew by Night 11 episodes appeared in The Rover issues 1473 - 1483 (1953)

I Flew with Braddock 54 episodes appeared in The Rover issues 1484 - 1495 (1953 - 1954) 

I Flew with Braddock 59 episodes appeared in The Rover issues 1542 - 1590 (1955)

I Flew with Braddock 31 episodes appeared in The Rover issues 1597 - 1627 (1956)

Born to Fly 18 episodes appeared in The Rover issues 1646 - 1663 (1957)

Braddock of the Bombers 22 episodes appeared in The Rover issues 1664 - 1685 (1957)

Braddock and the Secret Weapon 28 episodes appeared in The Rover issues 1763 - 1790 (1959)

Braddock and the Red Daggers 22 episodes appeared in The Rover issues 1791 - 1804 (1959 - 1960)

Braddock and the Wolves of War 12 episodes appeared in The Rover issues 1805 - 1819 (1960)

Braddock and the Big Bad Wulf 25 episodes appeared in The Rover issues 1821 - 1845 (1960)

Braddock the Bomber 17 episodes appeared in Rover and Adventure issues 1 - 17 (1961)

Braddock and the Black Light 12 episodes appeared in Rover and Adventure issues 20 - 31 (1961)

Braddock and the Crimson Dart 16 episodes appeared in Rover and Adventure issues 36 - 51 (1961 - 1962)

I Bombed with Braddock 22 episodes appeared in Rover and Adventure issues 52 - 73 (1962)

Braddock and the Whispering Death 18 episodes appeared in Rover and Adventure issues 88 - 105 (1962)

Braddock and the Black Rockets 13 episodes appeared in Rover and Wizard issues 161 - 173 (1964)

The Battles of Braddock 16 episodes appeared in Rover and Wizard issues 201 - 216 (1964 - 1965)

Braddock and the Thunderbirds 18 episodes appeared in Rover and Wizard issues 234 - 251 (1965)

Braddock Fought the Flying Saucers 20 episodes appeared in Rover and Wizard issues 270 - 289 (1966)

The above list has not included the various repeats.

© D. C. Thomson & Co Ltd 

Vic Whittle 2004