Posted 8 months ago
British Army Film Photographic Unit steel helmet. WWII. Super rare. This helmet came with paper work for an authorised crossing of Berlin through the Russian zone at the end of WWII, for Reginald Pidsley, and two other war correspondents, allowing them to cross to the West German side. The helmet is rare enough, however the paperwork is also rare. Reginald Pidsley was one of the brave correspondents, who followed the front line, filming and recording front line action, he is most notably known as the sound recordest on a mission on a Lancaster bomber, the recording of which is still held in the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) archives. There is a mark on the recording cylinder which shows the exact point when the bombs were released, the needle digging into the cylinder when the aircraft suddenly rose when the weight of the bombs were released.
BERLIN RAID 3/4 SEPTEMBER 1943 30.45
On the night of 3/4 September 1943 BBC correspondent Wynford Vaughn Thomas and recording engineer Reginald Pidsley flew to Berlin on board Lancaster EM-F for Freddie of 207 Squadron, then based at RAF Langar in Nottinghamshire. On this mission the Lancaster was piloted by Flight Lieutenant Ken Letford.
The recordings were edited and broadcast within 12 hours of landing at Langar.
The attack on Berlin on the night of 3/4 September 1943 involved 316 Lancaster’s and 4 Mosquitoes, which dropped 'spoof' flares at a distance from the heavy bombers' route to mislead German night fighters. Although both marking and bombing mostly fell short, the industrial area of Siemensstadt was hit, as well as residential areas of Charlottenburg and Moabit. 422 people were listed as killed on the ground. 22 Lancaster’s were lost. During the war 207 Squadron suffered the fourth highest overall percentage losses in Bomber Command, and the highest percentage losses in 5 Group.
All the airborne actuality recordings were made using direct cut acetates, made on portable disc cutters which provided a sound recording that could be replayed instantly. At altitude in a Lancaster bomber, Reg Pidsley had first to place the uncut discs inside his flying jacket to warm them up, since otherwise the ultra low temperatures made the disc lacquer too brittle to cut.
On 3 September 1983 Reg Pidsley was reunited with surviving members of the crew and presented the original recorded discs to the Squadron. Wynford Vaughn Thomas also made a television documentary based on the recording, in which he explained that his voice sounded strange because there was a problem with his oxygen supply.