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An uneventful trip - for once

Secrecy was maintained and the crews were not allowed 'off base' that night. They spent their time familiarising themselves with the aircraft, which had been stripped of armament and all non-essential equipment. This way they could fly faster and climb higher. Also to make matters worse the RAF roundels had been removed, and replaced by the blue swastika, the insignia of the Finnish Air Force. This had been hurriedly white washed over, but the emblem still showed through and was a concern for them. As one crewmember said, "We will be fair game for any fighter, ours or theirs"

At 6 am on the 23rd February 1940 all twelve took off for the uneventful first hop to Dyce Airport at Aberdeen in Scotland. Rain en-route mostly removed the white wash but did not worry them unduly. Following an overnight stop and turn round by engineers they departed Dyce to fly across the North Sea to Stavanger in Norway. Here they all had their passports, duly stamped. The following day they flew on to Vasteras in Sweden. The following day February 26th, saw the last leg of the journey onto the frozen airstrip on Lake Juva in Finland; all twelve aircraft landed safely. They had been successful, they had managed to elude any sightings from enemy aircraft or ground units that could have had the flight in deep trouble. Much of Europe was already coming under the Jackboot but, at this stage, the Scandinavian countries were free.

Although Finland would negotiate a 'peace' with the advancing Russian Armies in some three weeks, to the people of Finland still desperately and stubbornly fighting, this gesture of help and co-operation must have been heartening.

Indeed the reception these young aviators received from the local population was so warm that it more than made up for the artic conditions they found on arrival on this frozen wasteland. Later they went by bus to Helsinki and were treated to a lavish luncheon party where each man was presented with a ceremonial dagger.

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This is page 3 of Some forgotten heroes of World war 2.
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The ceremonial Finnish Dagger presented to the crews.

The ceremonial Finnish Dagger presented to the crews.
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The Bomber Command poster

The Bomber Command poster
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The telegram that parents dreaded

The telegram that parents dreaded
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