Arthur Loudon - Bomber Command navigation
Department of Veterans' Affairs
You were told it was on not where you were going. You were told the briefing would be a certain time, so you'd go down to the briefing room and all the crews that were going were in there. Whoever's in charge of the squadron would show you on a plan up in front what was on, which route you were taking and then you'd have the weather report and everything so that you had all the information you needed and then the navigator would then go and sit down, draw up his chart as to where we were going with the information you got, work out your courses because when you're flying, you're not just going from one point to another, the wind, which ever way it comes, is knocking you off course.
If you don't allow for the wind, you want to go this far and the winds coming this way, you're going over this way so you have to make a fix every so often to make sure that you're going to the right place. If you find that the wind has changed, well, then you've got to get the skipper to alter course so that he's heading back to where he has to got to go.
Radio beams in various parts of England but they were never really reliable. They had what they called a G-Box in the aircraft. Lot's of time it didn't work properly but it was like a small screen which came up with calibrations on it that you could read and transfer and tell you where you were on the map, so that was one and later on we got what you call a H2S which, underneath the belly of the aircraft behind the bomb bay was a bubble, and that was a radar thing that sent a beam to the ground and when it hit the ground the beam would come back.
It showed you the exact shape of towns. If it hit water, it wouldn't come back so you could see where shorelines were. It was later in the war that we got that. We used that extensively on mining trips mainly, where, if you dropped your mines more than half a mile from where they were supposed to go the whole mission was aborted because they reckon a half mile would allow a big ship to get through.