"As one of the survivors, I was brought up to have faith in the Lord, and one of my favourite sayings is, It takes a lot of faith to be at peace with this world."""
The fascinating story of the start of modern electronic warfare, World War II, 1943. Everett Hepton, RAF Squadron, Alton, Norfolk, England. R182001, Hepton, J. E., Warrant Officer, 1st Class.
In World War II, not many people are aware that a squadron of American-built B-17 bombers operated with the RAF on night opps, with Commonwealth crews. Early in 1944, a new weapon was introduced to protect our crews and confuse the enemy. We at 214, 100 Group, at Alton, Norfolk, operated as bomber support, taking part in the thousand plane raids over Germany. Our bomb bays were filled with electronic gear and transformers to jam the enemy communications, ground to air, or ground to ground. We carried a crew member fluent in the German language, to confuse the enemy night fighters and ground defences. It was our duty to circle the target for some twenty minutes, jamming the airwaves at our maximum height of about 27,000 feet. I can recall looking up one time from my turret, seeing a Lancaster flying above and towards us with her bomb bays wide open. What a feeling!
The Lancs and Stirlings could fly both higher and faster, even carrying a blockbuster. From my perch, I could see the devastation of the bombs bursting - great fires, searchlights all about us, bursting shells called flak, and the smell of TNT, and the night sky was lit up like false daylight.
The B-17 was called the Flying Fortress. Rightly so, because of our heavy armament. We had five air gunners, with eleven 50-calibre machine guns. The German night fighters stayed out of our reach. Sometimes shadow us, but not attack. The odds were fairly even, but our losses were about twenty percent, the same as Bomber Command.
Another one of our tactics was to drop tin-foil that had been cut in strips, size and length technically designed. The two waist gunners had a shoot at their gun position to drop the bundles at designated times, in sequence. This tin-foil showed up on the enemy radar. Five of our aircraft could simulate a thousand plane raid.
My longest trip was eleven hours, to the city of Stettin, some forty miles from Berlin. The most frightening was the city of Kiel. I can recall hooking into my parachute. I thought, "This is it." But our cool pilot zig-zagged the flack, and we got out of that jam.
By December, 1944, I'd flown thirty-four trips over enemy territory, after which I was repatriated and sent home on the Queen Mary to New York. What can I say? My mother-in-law, God bless her, said to me, "The Lord wouldn't take me, and the Devil didn't want me." As one of the survivors, I was brought up to have faith in the Lord, and one of my favourite sayings is, "It takes a lot of faith to be at peace with this world." Everett J. Hepton, Royal Canadian Air Force.