Brendan Bracken, centre, from the Ministry of Information, with some aircrew from the Augsburg raid. Ernest Deverill is not pictured here.
The wartime RAF was a consummate expert at PR. Spectacular Bomber Command operations were lavishly covered in the media, their reports being based on information and photographs released by the Air Ministry, working closely with the Ministry of Information.
One operation which was covered in great detail was the April 1942 Augsburg raid, carried out deep into Germany in broad daylight. It was undertaken partly to show off the capabilities of the new Lancaster bomber, but also to emphasise the great change in Bomber Command now that Arthur Harris had taken over command. The operation incurred heavy losses but the survivors were lionised. Amongst them was Ernest Deverill, whose full set of medals (including that awarded for Augsburg) are owned by the Archive. Deverill also flew on another of the great publicity-orientated raids, the Le Creusot operation of 17 October 1944.
Ernest Deverill, centre, with other 97 Squadron aircrew after the Augsburg raid.
The greatest publicity coup of the war was the Dams raid of 16-17 May 1943. Of the many spectacular raids, this is the one which is most remembered in modern times, mainly due to Guy Gibson’s superb book Enemy Coast Ahead and the 1955 film The Dam Busters, starring Richard Todd as Guy Gibson.
In one of the post-raid publicity photographs, Gibson can be seen below, fourth from the left, with fellow 617 Squadron aircrew who flew on the Dams operation.
The bomber aircrew were heroes to the wider public, and the press adored them for their photogenic and heroic qualities. Both can be seen in this 1943 coverage of the Pathfinders, pasted into a wartime scrapbook.