Joe's Log Book
We are lucky to have this log because it gives as a second point of view of flying in Night Fighters
Who was Joe Carpenter that Dad spent so much time with? We don’t know very much and Dad can’t remember much more. He may not have known any more.
Apparently Joe had a background in accounting or some branch of finance and was from Montreal. He spoke fluent French which proved a considerable asset later when the squadron was on the continent. Dad also says that he was a considerable ladies man, to the point of sometimes embarrassing Dad who was a kid from the country, which Langley very much was in those days.
After the war they lost track of each other for a while but eventually made contact again. Joe was back in Montreal. He was married in the early 1950’s only to die on his honeymoon with his new bride. It was she who contacted Dad to tell him of Joe’s death and she gave Dad Joe’s logbook. Joe had no children and there was no close family to give it to.
Joes logs begin in January of 1943 with his training as a navigator and radar operator. He appears to have joined 409 Squadron in June of 1943 although he does not record his postings as clearly as Dad does in his logs.
His first flight with Dad was 27 July 1943 for air gunnery and single engine flying practice. Joe says it was in a Beaufighter Mk VIII Serial Number 854 and Dad records it as KP-S. This is where it gets interesting for aircraft identification because it ties serial numbers to squadron designations.
This first set of log pages follows Joe from the beginning of his training through to his first flight with Dad on 409 Squadron.
So far we have followed Joe through his early training. You will notice reference to 62 OTU. OTU is Operational Training Unit and this one was stationed at Usworth in Durham, near Newcastle-on-Tyne from 23 June 1942 through 21 June 1943 when it was moved to Ouston in Northumberland. It was here that much radar and navigation training was done on Ansons.
It is in June of 1943 that Joe is transferred to 409 Squadron who were flying Beaufighter Mk. 6’s at the time. You can see that in this period he is doing a great deal of familiarization and practicing in preparation for “Ops”. As we shall see, it is in July that he has his first flight with Grandpa.
And this brings us to the end of 1943.The Squadron is still flying the Beaufighter Mk. VI and Joe flies with Grandpa most of the time. Dad did say to me that he had a few unsatisfactory navigators before he found Joe and that once he found him they were almost inseparable in the air.
But things are about to change for Grandpa and Joe. They transition to Mosquitos, they fly in the Invasion, and they begin to operate in the skies of continental Europe.
And there is Joe’s log book. I do not think they met again overseas but they did connect again once they came home. I do not know how that came about but Joe died not too long after they had returned. I don’t know the circumstances. I wish we knew more, but, there you have it.