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"Back in the mess we'd say, 'Here's to the health of so-and-so and here's to the next one to die'"

Flight Lieutenant Rusty Waughman was a 21-year-old pilot flying Lancasters with 101 Squadron on 4 June 1944. Their mission was to listen in on German Fighter Control's instructions and jam broadcasts to their fleet. In 1944 he safely landed a Lancaster following a mid-air collision over Belgium with another Lancaster, saving all of his crew. After the war he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Rusty says: "You never really knew what operation you were flying on until the last minute. We had no idea our operations preceded D-Day, no idea at all.

Rusty Waughman"On 4 June 1944 when we got to the aircraft the NCO told us we had full fuel tanks with overload tanks but no bombs and I thought "Where on earth can they be sending us to?" Of course, for any bombing raids you'd have full fuel tanks and bombs so we knew it wasn't that."

"We had a Special Duty Operator on the aircraft that night called Ted Manners who spoke German and our Lancaster was fitted with a special radio counter measure devise called ABC (Airborne Cigar) which enabled us to listen in on the German Fighter Controller's instructions to their night fighters. Ted was able to listen in on their instructions and jam their broadcasts.

"On the 4/5 June I was on a bombing raid over Sangat - a diversionary raid to make the Germans believe the invasion was coming over Calais.

"Of course, when you’re young you don’t think about the dangers, although you were most likely to experience casualties in your first five raids. Back in the mess we'd have a drink and say, 'Here's to the health of so-and-so and here’s to the next one to die' – you just never knew if you were going to come back.

"The RAF played a major part prior to D-Day and that should never be forgotten, there were a great many missions and many casualties. Looking back I feel a great deal of pride about my involvement in D-Day but also sadness when I think about the souls that suffered on the ground."

This blog is in memory of all those men who did not return.

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