(23 June 1921 – 22 March 2012)
“recognised as the RAF’s finest low-level navigator of the Second World War, leading ‘daylight spectaculars’ on targets including three separate Gestapo headquarters and on Goering and Goebbels themselves”
“The Operation was regarded as one of the most dangerous operations in World War Two”
“The difficulty was to achieve this kind of success without killing a lot of people,” wrote Sismore. “It was a very difficult decision of what to drop and how much to drop.”
‘Goering had stepped up to make a radio broadcast on Sunday 31 January 1943 during a weekend of celebrations of Hitler’s accession to power 10 years earlier. Hitler had cried off with a sore throat hours before, so to Goering fell the task, at 11 a.m., of telling the Germans what towering achievements the Reich had made.
‘Flags flew, soldiers gathered to listen, as ordered, communally, and over the airwaves from the headquarters of Grossdeutscher Rundfunk, the state radio station, in Berlin’s Wilhelmstrasse sounded a fanfare of trumpets. They had not reckoned on Sismore, painstakingly plotting his course with a primitive tin-box calculator several times bigger than a present-day mobile phone, a ruler, a map, dividers, and a mental picture in his head of landmarks as seen from a Mosquito aircraft flying at wave-top and then tree-top height to avoid detection. The aircraft was in constant danger not only from anti-aircraft fire but from bird-strikes.
‘Sismore and his pilot, Squadron leader Reggie Reynolds, were that morning leading three of the De Havilland plywood planes that had been introduced to the R.A.F. little over a year before. Sismore picked up landmarks easily and half way through the five-hour trip emerged on course over the Berlin lakes, guiding Reynolds to arrive over Wilhelmstrasse dead on 11 a.m. As the trumpets faded the Mosquitos dropped their 500lb. bombs close to the radio building. The explosions were heard across Germany and by monitors in Britain, and caused the speech to be delayed for an hour…’ (The Independent obituary for Ted ‘Daisy’ Sismore).
“Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, head of the Luftwaffe, had just stepped up to the microphone when the 500lb bombs started falling nearby. Their explosions were heard across, thanks to the microphones of the Grossdeutscher Rundfunk. Goering was not best pleased as he had told the German people Berlin was safe from air attack.
‘Air Commodore Edward Barnes Sismore, DSO, DFC & Two Bars, AFC, AE was a British air navigator and fighter pilot during World War Two.
‘At the beginning of the war, he was involved in flying Bristol Blenheims in anti-shipping sorties. Then, in December, 1942, he joined No. 105 Squadron. There, he navigated a De Havilland Mosquito, with pilot Squadron Leader Reginald Reynolds. During their time together over the next year and a half, they would fly tirelessly and make some of the most audacious targeted raids of the war and which helped to build Sismore’s later reputation as one of the Air Forces’ finest low-level navigators.
‘On January 30, 1943, the pair led the first of two daylight Mosquito raids on Berlin which aimed to embarrass Hermann Goering and Joseph Goebells, the Propaganda Minister, as they made speeches to the nation. The pair led three Mosquito B Mk. IVs from 105 Squadron and, flying low across the terrain leading into Berlin, attacked the city‘s main broadcasting station at 11:00, when Goering was about to address a parade commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Nazis‘ accession to power. The mission gave the lie to Goering‘s claim that such a mission was impossible.
‘Shortly after silencing Goering, Sismore and Reynolds led eight Mosquitoes on the most penetrating low-level daylight attack on Germany ever. The targets were the Carl Zeiss optical factory and the Schott glassworks near Leipzig. But, as is to be expected with any low-level mission, the planes are particularly vulnerable to anti-aircraft fire, and they were hit by heavy flak as they attacked their targets. They struggled back to base, despite Reynolds having been injured and the plane damaged. Sismore was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Reynolds a Bar for his earlier DSO.
The recommendation read:
“On 27th May, 1943, this Officer was Navigator of the leading aircraft of a formation of 14 detailed to attack targets at Jena, Germany, in daylight. The total distance was 1,100 miles, over 500 of which were to be covered at very low level in daylight, through strong defences, both from the ground and the air, in occupied and enemy territory. Weather conditions were not as expected, being very clear over the first part of the route, but deteriorating badly towards the target. Visibility was reduced to less than a mile for the last 150, and was not more than half a mile for the last 40.
“In spite of these difficulties, Flying Officer Sismore navigated with extreme accuracy, and finally brought the formation up to the target along the pre-arranged run. The attack was made at low level in the face of very heavy anti-aircraft defences and balloons. Over the target itself, a light anti-aircraft shell burst in the cockpit, wounding the Pilot. Flying Officer Sismore coolly rendered First Aid, and helped the Pilot to maintain control of the aircraft. He then continued his accurate navigation, and the aircraft returned safely to base.
“This Officer was Navigator of the leading aircraft of a formation which attacked Berlin in daylight, arriving precisely at the scheduled time. Since then, he has completed 11 successful sorties, all of which have called for the highest degree of navigational skill at low level. All crews of the formation which carried out the attack on Jena are unanimous in saying that it was a magnificent navigational feat in face of difficulties.
“I strongly recommend the immediate award of the Distinguished Service Order.” (Traces of War)
‘In 1944, Sismore was awarded his second DFC in recognition of a raid on the Gestapo headquarters at Aarhus, and a third on the Gestapo HQs in Copenhagen and Odense, Denmark. The latter raid was done at the behest of the Danish Resistance. Some of their people were being held in the building and they hoped the raid might allow them to escape; but they also hoped that it would destroy much of the documentation on Danish people and the Resistance that the Gestapo held there, thereby frustrating Nazi attempts to punish or imprison them. On both fronts, they were successful.
‘Citation for the 3rd:
“In March, 1945, Squadron Leader Sismore was the navigator in the leading aircraft of a large formation detailed to attack the Gestapo headquarters at Copenhagen. The operation, necessitating a flight of more than 1,000 miles demanded the highest standard of navigational ability. In this direction, Squadron Leader Sismore’s work was outstanding and contributed mat
erially to the success obtained. Again, in April, 1945, this officer flew with great distinction in an attack against a similar target at Odense. This officer, who completed much operational flying, has rendered very valuable service.” (Traces of War)
‘After the war, Sismore remained in the RAF, qualifying as a fighter pilot and occupying several senior officer posts. In 1947 he and former Dambuster pilot, Squadron Leader ‘Mickey’ Martin, broke the London to Cape Town flying record, covering the 6,717 miles in only 21 hours and 31 minutes.’ (MJH)
‘As soon as the war was over, Sismore joined AVM Embry and others to meet Danish resistance survivors and to visit the damaged school in Copenhagen. Some months later Sismore was appointed a Knight of the Danish Order of Dannebrog. He also received the Air Efficiency Award.’ (Daily Telegraph Obituary)
Stunning footage of Operation Carthage (the Shell House Raid)
Operation Carthage (a.k.a. Shell House Raid)
(Sismore on Mosquito missions)
An IWM Oral History by Sismore: https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80010764