Jeff Smith, MP for Manchester Withington, has launched a search to track down the relatives of a Second World War pilot as part of a wider campaign to commemorate the pilots and navigators of the Photographic Reconnaissance Units (PRU), who served during the Second World War.
The PRU was formed on the 24th of September 1939 and throughout the Second World War it operated highly dangerous, clandestine photographic reconnaissance operations over all theatres of operation, and captured more than 26 million images of enemy operations and installations during the war.
The purpose of the PRU was to provide up-to-date intelligence to strategically plan the Allied actions in the war. Flying Spitfires and Mosquitos, the intelligence it gathered was used by all the armed forces, giving same day intelligence on enemy activity.
The intelligence provided by the PRU was used in the Cabinet War Rooms – now the ‘Churchill War Rooms’ located underneath the Treasury – and was instrumental in the planning of major operations; D-Day and the Dambusters Raid, the monitoring of major shipping movements such as the Bismarck and Tirpitz, and the locating of the site of the V1 and V2 rocket launching site at Peenemünde.
Due to the clandestine nature of their operations – they flew solo operations, unarmed and unarmoured – the death rate was nearly fifty percent. However, despite having one of the lowest survival rates of the war – life expectancy in the PRU was around two and a half months – there is no national memorial to the PRU.
The ‘Spitfire AA810 Project’ has therefore led the campaign to establish such a memorial in central London.
Among those who served in the PRU was Ronald Prescott.
F/Lt Ronald Clare Prescott DFM was from Chorlton, Manchester. He served in 540 Photographic Reconnaissance Squadrons, being awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for his actions in October 1943.
He is understood to have survived the war but sadly no further information on him and would like to learn more.
Supporting the campaign for a national memorial is local MP, Jeff Smith, commenting:
“I am delighted to support this fantastic campaign to commemorate those who served in the Photographic Reconnaissance Units.
This includes Ronald Prescott, who served admirably under exceptionally difficult conditions, and whom we would be keen to make contact with his relatives and find out more about his life and service.
I look forward to working with the Spitfire AA810 Project to establish this memorial and I look forward to being able to pay my respects there once it is completed.”
If there is anyone related to Ronald Prescott, or if anyone know someone who served in the PRU during the war, please go the Spitfire AA810 Project website (www.spitfireaa810.co.uk), or get in touch with Tony Hoskins, Tony@spitfireaa810.co.uk.