420 Squadron Halifax Period
Oct 1943 to June 1945
Handley Page Halifax
The Halifax flew its first bombing mission on the night of March 11, 1941, when seven from 35 Squadron bombed LeHavre. Over the course of the war from 1940, and post war to 1946, 6,176 Handley Page Halifax bombers were built. More than 75% of the operations undertaken by RCAF 6 Group during World War II were flown in Halifax bombers of various marks. The "Halibag" Mark III, considered by most to be the ultimate war time mark, became the standard bomber for 6 Group, and was the mark flown by 420 Squadron. The Mark III was powered by four 14 cylinder Bristol Hercules engines which could "pump out" 1,650 hp each. The wingspan was just over 104 feet and it was 70 feet long. The Mark III had an empty weight of about 39,000 lbs and an all up weight of 65,000 lbs with a range of 1260 miles. A full bomb load weighed 13,000 lbs. Maximum speed was 312 miles per hour. Ceiling was 24,000 feet. It had four guns in the middorsal turret and tail turret. Air crew consisted of: pilot, flight engineer, navigator, bomb aimer, wireless operator, mid upper gunner, and tail gunner. (The August 17, 1943 attack on the Peenemunde rocket experimental facility acquainted the aircrews with "jazz music" ("schrage Muisk") equipped night fighters. These were fighters with an upward aiming machine gun. This allowed the German pilot to fly underneath a bomber and fire into its unprotected "belly". Eventually such fighters became so common that an mid under gunner position was added to many Halifaxes and Lancasters to defend against these fighters).
Most information suggests the Halifax was the poor substandard cousin to the Lancaster thus minimizing the former's contribution to the war effort in the popular press of the day and since. (A similar relationship existed with the Hurricane and Spitfire.) While the Halifax seems to lack the glamour of the Lancaster, could not carry the same bomb load, or type of bomb load, and cost more to build, it was much closer to the Lancaster's equal than usually described and performed outstanding service for over a year prior to the Lancaster entering service. This period stretched over some of the most critical parts of the bombing campaign.
The Halifax, especially the Mark III, became loved by many crews who flew it. As written by J. McIntosh, DFC, in Garbetand Goulding (1992), whose crew converted from Lancaster II's to Halifax III's the latter had its good points which are paraphrased here: The cockpit was likely "designed by Hitler" with gauges and controls scattered everywhere. However, it could climb like the Lancaster and had a ceiling of about 4000 feet above the Lancaster II. In fact McIntosh admits his crew bombed from 29000 feet one night. The forward escape hatch was on the floor just forward of the pilot's seat while in the Lancaster the escape for the pilot was a tiny hatch above the cockpit. McIntosh points to this fact as why he likely surived the war! In the same vein another advantage was the wider fuselage of the Halifax compared to the Lancaster (Lake 1999). This enabled more rapid departures when seconds could mean the difference between life and death. The Halifax also was more adaptable to other roles such as mining, paratroop drops and meterological flights.
The National Airforce Museum of Canada at 8 Wing/CFB Trenton, Ontario and The Yorkshire Air Museum located in Elvington, just outside of York, England, have the only existing static displays of complete restored Halifax bombers. Efforts are underway to recover a second Halifax bomber by Halifax Rescue Canada.
An excellent read and one of only a few books to deal with 420 Squadron is: McKay, R. 1989. One of the Many.
Halifax Bomber Manual
Halifax MZ587 "C" for Champ. Painted by Floyd "Skip" Rutledge. For a time, PT-C was shared by the McAdam crew and the Torchy Pritchard crew [see Mac and Torchy going strong] by the pilot's window. "DARK EYES" was the wop position; the Gen Spot was the nav [window blacked out] and Randy and Dally were the Bomb Aimers. "C" was one of four "kites" my father, Bert Parker, noted as being under his care during this period. MZ587 PT-C's last op was to Cologne on Oct 30, 1944. On this mission it was flown by F/Lt Sefton's crew. It was then sent to Topcliffe on Nov 1, 1944.
(In the squadron records below entries summarized from the 420 Squadron Operational Record Books (ORB's) are in normal type. The actual bomb crew debriefings are indicated in brown bold italic. Entries taken from my father's diary (January 1, 1944 to June 1945) are indicated in blue bold italics. Supplemental information, mostly from Middlebrook and Everitt (1990) and Dunmore and Carter (1991), and my comments are in green bold italic. I have also included the aircraft losses for the particular mission as documented in Middlebrook and Everitt (1990) and Dunmore and Carter (1991) bold (BC-#; 6 Group-#) at the end of each applicable entry.)
November 8: W/C Coffee and S/Ldr Pidgeon talked to men about Victory Bonds. $10,150 were subscribed. Many sent signals to Canada to say they had arrived back in England. Rekitting in progress.
November 9: The London Ontario, Air Force Wives Association want adopt the squadron. The offer was accepted and a cable to Mrs. Pidgeon was sent to that affect. All luggage has arrived without any loss!! The Adjutant's bag did fall into the water but was quickly retrieved.
November 10: Arrangements were made to have pay parade at Dalton for the men and for the entire squadron to go on leave.
November 11 to 30: Rekitting progressed. 30,000 pounds sterling were paid out to men. Special rail cars were put on the train to accommodate 300 of the men to London. Essentially the whole squadron went on leave from November 17 to November 30.
December 1, 1943: Orders through to prepare for move to Tholthorpe on December 12.
December 2: Mail arrived. A number of air crew members received awards.
December 3 to 8: Forty-six aircrew are to be screened and posted as their tours are up. A 250 airmen were posted to Linton and Tholthorpe.
December 9 to 12: Five aircrews sent to 1659 Conversion Unit at Topcliffe to begin conversion to Halifax III. Preparations were made for move to Tholthorpe. Move commenced at 10:00 on December 12. A-Flight was allocated #6 Site and B-Flight #7 Site.
December 13 to 22: Busy setting up the various sections. A number of postings out of all trades. More aircrews were sent for conversion. A number of Halifax bombers began arriving at squadron.
December 23 to 31: Preparations were made for Christmas. Messes were decorated, menus prepared, dances were planned (Invitations to many young ladies from York were sent.) All festive activities were a great success.
January 1 to February 14, 1944: The squadron was going through a number of personnel changes of both aircrew and ground crew during this period. As well it was converting to the Halifax III which entailed an intensive series of training flights, when weather permitted, and lectures. On January 5 an inspection was carried out by Air Commodore McEwen. Pilot WO2 Wass was found to be too short to fly the Halifax and regrettably had to be posted to another squadron. By January 8 the squadron was up to its full operational strength of 20 Halifax III's. January 13 it was learned the ground crew would not be entitled to 1939-1943 ribbon for service in North Africa. On January 18 F/O Baker crashed at 1659 Conversion Unit in a Halifax II. Baker and two of the crew were taken to hospital in serious condition. ba F/Sgt Sharpe and gun F/Sgt Petry died from their injuries. On January 23 S/Ldr McKenna took over A-Flight. On January 27 thirteen pilots were sent to 426 and 408 Squadrons to fly as "second Dickey's" to Berlin.The squadron became operational on Halifax III's on February 10, 1944 but the ops were scrubbed. The first operational sorties occurred on February 15 with an attack on Berlin and the last operational sortie was April 22, 1945 but the planes did not drop their bomb loads due to instructions from the Master Bomber.
February 10, 1944: Bad weather cancelled all flying. A very nasty day. Wet snow off and on all day and still at it. Ops scrubbed. All kites anti-glowed. Got "A" in place of "J" this am. No mail.
February 11: The squadron is now operational with thirteen crews. A number of crews on bullseye tonight. A court marshall was held at the base today. A very busy day. Seven of our kites off tonight on bulls-eyes. Lots of panic. Had to change plugs in both "D" and "C". No mail.
February 12: Night cross-country flying of seven hours for eight crews. A fairly good day's work. All our kites returned OK. B-Flight had two return early. 425 Squadron had four return early and lost one over Birmingham. Two letters and a parcel from home.
February 13: Ops on for twelve aircraft. These were later scrubbed. Air crew members were being interviewed for comissions. An airman was injured today when he jumped from a moving train. He was taken to hospital. Was on duty all last night. Finished after 2 this morning, so it was to bed. Got the day off so slept all day and have a pretty stiff throat after last night. Ops scrubbed to night.
February 14: Two army officers were attached to the squadron for liaison purposes. Interviews for commissions. Very foggy and so things are all scrubbed and we have a half day, so Bert Berry, Skip, Squeak and I went to York. Ate three times in six hours and saw a show. Have a heavy cold. No mail.
February 15: This was the first night of operational sorties for 420 Squadron in the Halifax III. Ops through for twelve bombers to attack Berlin. "Boys are in high spirits." Base closed due to weather all bombers were diverted. Ops to-night after a heavy day's work. Changed several plugs on "D" and it got off OK. Sent six off from "A" flight. Got a letter from Aunty A. Heavy raids there lately. Eleven aircraft loaded with 264x30 lb, 7920x4 lb, and 990x1 lb X. LW418 was an early return due to u/s outer starboard engine. Bombs were dropped at 21:18 to 21:31 from 19,000 to 22,000 feet through 10/10's cloud. No results were observed although some crews reported seeing fire glow on the clouds. Defences were small amounts of heavy flak shot in barrages. Some searchlights were operating as well. All diverted on return. LW396 "T" piloted by F/O Dungaard crashed trying to land at base after completing mission, killing wop WO2 Whale and gun Sgt Downey. Bomber Command sent 891 aircraft to the German capital for this the last raid of "The Battle of Berlin". This was a large raid as all the aircraft were "heavies", 561 Lancasters and 314 Halifaxes. 6 Group contributed 150 aircraft to the total. Over 2600 tons of bombs were dropped which was a record for a single raid. The cat and mouse game played by Bomber Command and German night fighter controllers continued with a diversion attack not working but a "detour" over Denmark by the bomber stream caused many of the night fighters to break off their pursuit to refuel. Although Berlin was mostly covered by cloud it still received substantial damage. Over 1500 houses and shelters were damaged and about 320 people were killed. After so many raids on Berlin much of the population had left hence the low number of casualties. (BC-43; 6 Group-4)
February 16: Planes still diverted due to bad weather. Ops on but cancelled. Station Commander inspected sites #6 and #7. Social evening held in Sergeants' Mess. Everything was orderly and all enjoyed themselves. Kites were diverted last night and are still away. We lost "F" over target and "T" of B-Flight cracked up not far away, two killed. A very poor start for beginning ops.
February 17: Aircrews still diverted. Rather foggy and rainy all day and so our kites were still away. The ones here yet were scheduled for ops but it has been scrubbed. No mail today. Rather and chilly night.
February 18: Bombers are returning from diversion bases. Ops for tonight scrubbed. Had an evening out with some of the boys. Ops scrubbed. "F" is OK in southern England. Damaged by flak.
February 19: Ops for eight bombers to attack Leipzig. Only four were able to takeoff. The crews believe they successfully bombed the target, All returned safely. Ops tonight. So we've had a pretty busy day. Rather rainy off and on. No mail. The aircrews dropped their loads of incendiaries on target between 4:14 and 4:22 hours from 19000 to 23400 feet. Target was completely covered by clouds so bombing aiming was done with skymarkers. Defences included flak and searchlights. Both were not effective. Aircrews suggested decoy fires and marking were being used by the enemy. Fire glow in the clouds could be seen for 100 miles. Bomber Command targeted Leipzig with 823 aircraft. Of these 129 were from 6 Group. It was a slaughter with almost 15% of the Halifaxes, mainly Mark II and Mark V's, reaching the enemy coast being lost. The bomber stream was attacked relentlessly by a large force of German night fighters. Errors in forecasting the winds on route to target resulted in many bombers arriving early over target and had to orbit thus increasing their chance of being attacked by night fighters or coned by searchlights and flak. When the Pathfinders arrived Leipzig was covered by cloud and skyflares had to be used. No official reports of damage were reported. After this raid the two substandard Halifax Mark II's and Mark V's were removed from the front lines. (BC-78; 6 Group-18)
February 20: Ops through for six aircraft to attack Stuttgart. All took off. LW419 "F", flown by F/Sgt McKay, was an early return due to no oxygen. The remaining five reached the primary target and bombed. Defences were light. Aircrews observed many scattered fires. Four returned to base and one diverted to Harwell. Busy all day preparing for ops after last night's tough luck when "F" got stuck holding up all the rest and fouling plugs. A mix of incendiaries and bombs were dropped from 22000 feet in a ten minute period beginning at 4:09. Over the target was 50% cloud cover. Bombing was on skymarkers and target indicators (TI) released by PFF. Heavy flak bursting to 24000 feet and searchlights were the main defences. Aircrews observed many scattered fires around TI and fire glow could be seen from 100 miles. Stuttgart received Bomber Command's attention this night with 598 aircraft detailed for the attack, including 66 from 6 Group. Diversionary raids in Holland and to Munich by Mosquitoes plus a training exercise over the North Sea caused many night fighters to be diverted from the main bomber stream. The bombing was somewhat scattered over Stuttgart but many important facilities were damaged including the Bosch Factory. (BC-9; 6 Group-1)
February 21: Stand down. Funerals for Whale and Petry held at the Regional Cemetary, Harrogate. Ops went fairly well last night. A very late takeoff and so they got back at daylight. All our's OK. No mail today. Two kites on cross-country and so nearly all of us have a 1/2 day.
February 22: Ops were scrubbed for tonight. Dirty weather. "D" returned from south after first op. "E" is still away. One letter from home.
February 23: Stand down. Seven hour night cross-country by thirteen planes. No ops but cross-countries so lots of work tomorrow. One letter today.
February 24: Thirteen bombers were sent to Schweinfurt tonight. One early return due to overload u/s. All planes diverted on return. One reported missing. Lots of ops tonight, so lots of work when they return. Two letters today. Target bombed with high explosives and incendiaries from 23,000 to 25,000 feet in a ten minute period beginning at 23:10 in good visibility with slight ground haze. The target was defended by moderate heavy flak bursting to 23000 feet. Searchlights operating but not effective. Aircrews commented the bombs appeared scattered. LW 427 "C" piloted by F/O Long, and crew Sgt D Crawley, Sgt HE Hirst, P/O MA Knight, F/Sgt DB Richardson, Sgt W Botterill, and F/Sgt R Gile, reported as missing. All the crew of "C" was killed when their Halifax was shot down by a night fighter. Bomber Command sent 734 aircraft to attack Schweinfurt and the ball bearing factory there. The contribution by 6 Group was 143 aircraft. On this raid the bombers were split into equal waves. The second half attacked about 2 hours after the first attacks had finished. This was an attempt to exhaust the German night fighters and catch them returning to base for refuel and rearming thus enabling the second wave to bomb relatively unmolested. It appeared to have worked to some extent with apparently no bombers of the second wave being destroyed by night fighters. (BC-33; 6 Group-5)
February 25: Ops on for seven aircraft to attack Augsburg. One returned to base after completing mission. Remainder landed at diversion bases. One aircraft missing. Lost "C" last night, a very good crew. Snags on "J" mag and a broken priming line. "J" and "A" off again tonight. Last nights ops were 8 hrs. Weather fair. Target was attacked beginning at 1:15 with bombs and incendiaries from 22,000 to 23,500 feet. PFF TI's were well concentrated. Enemy night fighters were seen by some aircrews in the target area. Crews reported bombs were scattered over the town with many fires and columns of smoke to 16000 feet. Reported missing was LW420 "U", piloted by F/O Blakeney and crew of, F/O ED Patterson, F/O FA Arnston, W/O2 W Bourdat, Sgt P Burgon, Sgt HC Oswald, Sgt S Eden, F/Sgt GM Bessette. Of the crew of "U" only W/O2 W Bourdat survived as a POW. Augsburg was targeted by 594 aircraft, 65 were from 6 Group, which dropped more than 2000 tons of bombs on the city in clear weather. Again two waves of bombers were used plus diversionary raids resulted in only 3.6% loss rate. The raid was extremely concentrated and accurate with the city centre being destroyed and an aircraft parts factory damaged. Almost 8000 residents were destroyed or damaged leaving an estimated 85,000 without shelter and there were about 3200 people injured or killed. (BC-21; 6 Group-6)
February 26: Stand down. Three kites off again last night and haven't returned yet but are OK. Rained all day off and on. My night on tonight but nothing doing so don't have to work.
February 27: Stand down. Snowed off and on all day. Pretty chilly. Got "D" from repair and inspection (R&I). Check ran it and it was okay. No kites returned yet. Had half day off.
February 28: Ops on for tonight but scrubbed. Still snowing off and on today. Ops scrubbed after a hard day's work and we still have a dead mag on the port inner of "P" and "J" and on "D" port inner mag. So lots of work for tomorrow.
February 29: Stand down. Four on cross-country. One (LW366) crashed in Wales killing pilot F/Sgt HS Hardy ab Sgt RE Cunnings, nav F/O J Hedrick, LG Johnston, muag Sgt JL Nixon. "D's" mag was dead and got a mag change by R&I. I had to change one on "J". Did it OK, but missed pay parade. No ops tonight so wait until tomorrow. Rather chilly today.
March 1, 1944: Ops through for ten aircraft. One did not takeoff and another was an early return due to problems with oxygen. Seven were successful. "D" and "J" both OK today all signed up and ready for tonight's ops by 3 pm. Pretty windy today and so quite chilly. No mail. One year ago today Ed Townsend cracked up and Earny, Ken and Sam all killed. The primary target, Stuttgart, was attacked by seven bombers carrying loads of 40x30, 540 x50 and 9x4. Takeoff time was ~23:30. Target was entirely cloud covered with tops reaching as high as 15000 feet. Defences were rated at most as moderate. LW590 "R" was an early return with an u/s oxygen supply. Bomber Command sent 557 aircraft against Stuttgart this night. 6 Group contributed 60. Due to heavy cloud German night fighters were ineffective. Although the target was cloud covered the attack caused substantial damage to Stuttgart and factories there in and caused over 600 casualties. (BC-4; 6 Group-0)
March 2: Stand down. Ops went well last night. All returned. "J" got shot up but repairable. Wing CO well pleased. Held a small flight parade to tell us so. Little or no ops during the full moon but bullseyes and training.
March 3: Stand down. G/C GEM Scott, #6 Group, S/L AC Tufts 62 Squadron, F/L Burt from AIB Air Ministry and W/C FC Rolwand from Bomber Command HQ visited base. Two aicraft on bullseye. "D" and "F" got back last night. "G" and "J" are still away. Got "A" out of the hangar. Circuits and bumps today and one on cross-country tonight. Three letters. Fairly windy but sunny lately.
March 4: Ops on and then cancelled. Preparations made with RAF Sealands for the burial of F/Sgt Hardy and four crew members at Blacon Regional Cemetery on March 7. Not much doing in the morning besides a daily inspection on "A" and a 3.5 hour trip. In afternoon "D" and "C" came out so it looks like we will be busy tomorrow with four fitters. Snowed nearly all afternoon and is cold.
March 5: Flight training including bombing and air to sea gunnery tests. Rather chilly and a fair amount of snow in the morning which soon melted. "D" and the new "C" flew this am and "G" is still away. Squeak out of hospital.
March 6: Ops through for four aircraft. Three were successful. Pilot Sgt McKay landed at a dispersal base due to u/s compass. Rainy the best part of the day. "D", "A" and "C" Ok. No ops for awhile but they finally did go. Got a letter. Got the service ribbon and maple leaf today. Takeoff time was ~18:24. Three attacked Trappes with 10x1000 and 2x500. Bombing occurred ~20:50 from 12,000 feet. PFF marking was good. Clear conditions over target. "N" landed at Thorney Island without bombing due to a malfunctioning compass. Bomber Command attacked the railway yards at Trappes with 261 aircraft. 6 Group provided 116 aircraft. This was the beginning of the methodical bombing of railways throughout France and Belgium to disrupt the German transport system prior to the D-day invasions. The attack was very successful with a large amount damage to the rails and trains. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
March 7: Ops through for six aircraft. Five bombed target. One brought back bombs because it could not identify target as this was a target in France. Flight training. Response for blood donors quite good. Worked real hard all day without dinner to get "D" off tonight with six tons for "Jerry". She took off lovely after the engine trouble she had. Rained a little this pm. Sunny in the morning. Bomb loads were 6x1000 and 9x500. Takeoff time was ~18:40. Target was completely overcast with tops to 8000 feet. Bombing was late, ~21:30, due to late marking of target by PFF. As a result many aircraft had to orbit target area. The target for Bomber Command's 304 aircraft this night was Le Mans. Again the specific target was the railway yards. The bombing was very successful with only a small amount of collateral damage and less than 100 French civilian casualties. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
March 8: Ops cancelled. Ops scrubbed tonight on my night on so I had it pretty easy. Got mail. Weather pretty fair. Getting a wheel on my bike tomorrow.
March 9: Ops cancelled. Some flight training. W/C McIntosh to sick quarters due to cold. Ops scrubbed again tonight. Had a half day off so wrote some letters. Got my bike back today and it is in good shape.
March 10: Ops cancelled. X-country training. Ops on for awhile this morning but scrubbed later on. So "A" and "H" are on bullseyes. Gave blood donation at noon today. Blood tested A II. A fair day. No mail.
March 11: Stand down. Fighter affiliation and x-country training. Nothing on at all today. "A" went on fighter training, but nothing else doing so quite easy. Wrote letters in the YMCA. Rather a nice day.
March 12: Stand down. Bad weather has cancelled all flying. Ops again today but were scrubbed very early in am. Rainy all morning.
March 13: Ops through for eight aircraft. All successfully attacked the primary target and returned to base safely. Ops tonight. "C" went south for "G" and is on cross-country tonight. Very windy today with a little rain. Two letters from Manitoba. No luck on electrician course as I need math for it. All aircraft attacked the primary target, Le Mans. Bomb load: 6x1000 and 9x500. Takeoff time was ~22:28. Bombed in clear weather on red TI from 13,800 feet at 00:59. Smoke seen rising from target to 14,000 feet. "Y" landed at Hartford Bridge. Bomber Command attacked Le Mans again with 213 aircraft. On this night 6 Group contributed almost half of the aircraft. Reports from Le Mans show the Maroc Station and nearby factories were heavily damaged. Under 100 French casualties were reported and a large number of German soldiers were killed. (BC-1; 6 Group-0)
March 14: Stand down. W/C McIntosh out of sick quarters. Is going on seven day sick leave. S/Ldr McKeena will act as W/C in his place. Ops were on for tonight but then scrubbed. Cross-countries are on and I am on duty. Changed a mag on "D" and it still is u/s. A bit breezy but not too bad.
March 15: Ops through for twelve aircraft. Eleven successful but one is missing. Housing shortage for officers and NCO's is getting critical. Finished work at 3:30 this morning so did not get up until noon. Wrote some letters. Ops on tonight. Bomb loads were 6x30 IB's, 25x4 IB's and 60x4 IB's X type. Takeoff time was ~18:54. Crews bombed ~23:22 from 24000 feet. The target was covered by broken clouds. PFF marking was scattered as were the fires resulting from the attack. Fires were visible from 100 miles away on the return flight. LW418 "E" piloted by Sgt McAdam was hit by flak on route to target killing the nav Sgt Briggs, wounding McAdam in the legs and damaging a tire and making the starboard inner u/s. The crew continued on and bombed the primary target. On the return flight the bomb aimer, Sgt Ranson, navigated. The plane was again hit by flak and would not keep altitude. It managed to make it to Friston where it landed and ground looped with no further injuries to the crew. Four aircraft returned to base. Six diverted to Tangmere. LW426 "Q" was lost with pilot F/ODH Calder, eng Sgt WP Dunbar, 2nd pilot P/O CI Elsley, mdag P/O WH Heidman, ba F/O RH Jackson, nav P/O CA Ritchie, wop Sgt P Bethell, and ag Sgt E Lee. All the crew of "Q" was killed. Stuttgart was targeted by Bomber Command with a relatively large raid of 863 bombers including 130 from 6 Group. The cat and mouse game with the night fighters continued. The bomber stream was sent almost to the Swiss border before turning toward the target. This was to force the night fighter controllers to guess where the attack was going to be and any night fighters scrambled early would have to refuel. However, the controllers split the night fighters in two waves so there were fresh planes taking off once the bomber stream's diversion was complete and its intention known. As a result the stream was attacked with a vengeance just before Stuttgart. Thirty-seven heavies were shot down during the night including "Q" from 420 Squadron. "Q" was the only loss from 6 Group this night. The bombing was a relative failure with few bombs landing in the target area. (BC-37; 6 Group-1)
March 16: Stand down. Diverted aircraft returned. Practise flying. Not much doing today. Two on circuits and bumps. "D" ok now. A new distributor block I think! No mail. A very nice day.
March 17: Stand down. Normal flight training. Accommodations for new crews have been arranged. F/Sgt Keegan and crew returned to base by train from diversion of March 15/16 as their plane was u/s. Uninjured crew members of the F/Sgt McAdam crew returned by train also. No ops. Just local flying. On duty tonight again and got finished by 8:30 pm so it wasn't too bad. May go to York tomorrow. No mail. Weather lovely.
March 18: Ten on ops to Frankfurt. Nine landed at base and one at Thorpe Abbott. All safe. "F", which landed at Thorpe Abbott, piloted by F/S Caffey ran into a dispersed plane while taxiing causing damage to the tail on the dispersed plane and a propeller on "F". Reported for work but took the best part of the day off. Went to town with Woolet and left my great coat there to be fixed. Did nothing else but eat at a restaurant. Came home at 5:30. Bomb loads were 60x30 and 61x4. Takeoff time was ~19:20. Bombing occurred ~22:04 from heights of 21000 to 23000 feet. Skies were partly cloudy with some haze. Marking by PFF was on time. Many fires were observed in target area. Bomber Command sent 846 aircraft to Frankfurt. As its part 6 Group provided 119 aircraft. German night fighters were again separated into waves. One wave was successfully bluffed to pursue diversionary raids in Belgium and Holland but the other wave fell upon the main bomber stream just prior to target. These night fighters accounted for 22 heavies being lost. Accurate marking by the pathfinders resulted in heavy damage. Over 6000 buildings were damaged or destroyed and over 400 fatalities occurred. Another 55,500 people were left homeless. (BC-22; 6 Group-0)
March 19: Stand down. Routine flight training. F/S Briggs who was killed on March 16 will be buried on March 20 at Brookwood Cemetery Farnbourough. Kites did not return last night. Only "J" made it back. The rest arrived at base after dinner. "D" as per normal full of trouble once a daily inspection started. Worked pretty late changing points etc.
March 20:Stand down. Nothing doing at all today. Rainy and dull. Only worked until noon and am going to write letters.
March 21: Stand down. Normal flight training. Weather still bad so not much flying. No ops. Got "D" traded for "J". So now have "J", "C" and "A". Three pretty fair kites. Got a parcel in the mail.
March 22: Ops on for ten bombers to Frankfurt. All returned. Nine landed at base and one was diverted to Foulhem. Two planes on x-country. W/C McIntosh returned from leave. Ops on tonight. All off OK, "J", "C", "A", "D" and "B". Had pictures taken with Squeak and Glen. Is supposed to be in the Saskatoon, Star Phoenix. Bomb loads were 30x63 and 4x62. Takeoff time was ~18:50. Attacked at ~22:04 through partly cloudy to completely overcast skies up to 8000 feet. Bombing height was 21000 feet. Many fires were observed over target and 150 miles away they could still be seen. Bomber Command again attacked Frankfurt. This time 816 planes took part in the raid. 6 Group contributed 99. The main bomber stream again followed a circuitous route and diversionary raids were carried out trying to confuse the German controllers. The rouse worked with the fighter controllers thinking Hanover was the main target. Consequently few night fighters found the main bomber stream. Frankfurt was again hit hard. Casualties numbered over 1200 and 120,000 lost their homes. Many industrial areas also received substantial damage. (BC-33; 6 Group-0)
March 23: Stand down. Last night's operations to Frankfurt reported as successful. All kites got back OK. "J" landed south, short of juice and came back this morning. No ops tonight. Weather very hazy.
March 24: Berlin was the target for twelve of the squadron's aircraft. LW692 "V", flown by WO2 Leonard, returned early due to hydraulic malfunction. Ten returned, five to base and five to Collishall. One is missing. Night flying continued. Ops tonight and I am on. "J" got pranged by a tractor driver with a stand and I am a witness when he goes before the wing CO. What a mix up. Both "D" and "C" blew a feathering oil line on a check with motors going. Bomb loads were 66x30 and 1000x4 X. Takeoff times were around 18:50. Attack occurred from 22000 to 24000 feet at 22:26 to 23:10. Attack was through broken cloud on markers. Many fires observed around markers. With smoke rising to 10000 feet. Fires could be seen from 150 miles away when leaving target. Some crews resented the "language used" by the master bomber for the attack. LW373 "W" was reported missing with pilot F/O Rice, ab F/S Fraser, nav F/O Altic, wop WO1 Renwick, muag Lt Thomson, ag Sgt Boire and eng Sgt Bushell. Only the pilot, F/O Rice was killed in "W". The rest of the crew was taken prisoner. Bomber Command attacked Berlin with 811 aircraft. Of this number 113 were from 6 Group. Due to unforecast very strong winds the bomber stream was scattered all over Germany. Bombing was also scattered but still an estimated 20000 people lost their shelters. The winds created a nightmare for navigation and many bombers flew over concentrations of flak batteries which claimed about 50 of the 72 bombers lost this night. This was also the final large bombing attack of the war that Bomber Command sent to Berlin. (BC-72; 6 Group-13)
March 25: Two, "X" and "A", on ops to attack Aulnoye, France. Diverted aircraft returned to base. Two on x-country. Didn't get up till 6 am. "E", "L" and "C" returned. "E" was full of holes but crew OK. No word of "B", "D" and "K" but they returned OK this morning. Case comes up before Wing CO in the morning. Bomb loads were 6x1000 and 10x500. The planes took off at 19:08. The bombers dropped their bombs at 21:51 and 22:05 on the PFF TI's from low altitudes of 7500 and 8400 feet. Weather over the target was clear with some haze. A number of fires observed by crews. Bomber Command sent a small raid of 192 aircraft to Aulnoye, France to bomb the rail yards. 6 Group provided 73 aircraft to the force. The raid was not very successful due to poor marking by the pathfinders. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
March 26: Thirteen readied for attack on Essen. "X" and "N" early returns due to generator and engine malfunctions. Eleven attacked the target and returned to base. Two years ago today I arrived in Halifax after my embarkation leave. Ops again tonight. The case postponed until he has his leave and gets married. A real lovely day. Takeoff time was ~20:10. Crews bombed from ~22:08 at 24000 feet. Skies over target were entirely overcast. Black smoke from target area rising to 22000 feet. Defences were barrages of heavy flak bursting up to 24000 feet. Essen was attacked by 705 aircraft. The 6 Group contribution was 105 aircraft. Due to cloud cover Oboe mosquitoes marked the target. It turned out the target was accurately marked and bombings were accurate. Many factories were destroyed along with over 1700 residents. Over 2100 casualties were reported by authorities. (BC-9; 6 Group-1)
March 27: Stand down. Four planes took part in Operation Eric. All the kites returned last night OK. Start a week of duty crew this morning.
March 28: Stand down. All x-country flying cancelled due to bad weather. A little flying but no ops. Things are going fairly well and not much trouble with our three kites. Pay day and I drew 8 pounds.
March 29: Fourteen prepared for ops which were later scrubbed. Ops scrubbed tonight so the kites will be in good shape for tomorrow. Got mail today. Weather cloudy.
March 30: Fourteen on ops to Nuremburg. Two were early returns with oxygen and hydraulic malfunctions. Planes were diverted on return to Tangmeres, Thorny Isle, Ford. One force landed near Cranwell when it ran out of fuel. The crew was not injured. Ops on tonight so lots of work in the morning. Seems like a pretty important trip tonight. Got battle dress today and so work in battle dress now. Lost 96 tonight. Bomb loads were 50x30 and 100x4. Takeoff times ~22:08. "R" returned early due to hydraulics. "U" was an early return due to oxygen supply malfunction. Target was bombed ~01:20 from 20000 feet. PFF flares and markers appeared to be scattered. Some crews observed explosions other than bomb bursts. Clouds were in layers up to 2000 feet. MZ540 "H" flown by G. Ward forcelanded near Cranwell. Although the moon was near full Bomber Command sent 795, 118 from 6 Group, to Nuremberg mainly based on the prospect of cloudy conditions most of the way for the bomber stream. Even when the Met Mosquitoes checking out the prospective flight route reported no cloud cover Bomber Command went ahead with the attack. This turned out to be disastrous for the bombers and resulted in 95 bomber going down. This was the largest loss percentage (12%) for a big raid that Bomber Command would suffer during the war. The German night fighters began attacking the bomber stream before it reached Belgium and carried to the target. Night fighters brought down 82 heavies on their way to the target. Due to refuelling night fighters were less numerous as the bombers returned to base. The bombing was scattered over an extremely wide area, including a village 50 miles from Nuremberg, due to unforecast winds causing navigation difficulties and poor marking. Only minimal damage was reported from Nuremberg. (BC-95; 6 Group-13)
Toronto Star clipping regarding the crash landing of MZ540 "H" flown by Ward's crew. (Provided by R. Barclay).
March 31: Stand down. Normal flight training. Diverted aircraft arrived back at base. No ops tonight. I had the day off. Went to town with Nip. Took some films in and ate at a restaurant. A real nice day. All kites returned to England where "C" crew bailed out. All OK. Rest of the kites OK.
April 1, 1944: Stand down. Eric exercise on involving thirteen planes. Air flight training carried out during the day and two were on night training. P/O Codwell PRO was at the squadron to get information from crews regarding the Nuremburg raid. W/C Saunders from 6 Group HQ visited to get information on the crash near Cranwell by F/S Ward on March 31. Dance and social held in Sergeants' Mess. A nice day, no ops, but invasion practise. An oil cooler change on "J" and a starter on "A". Sent flowers for Easter today. Wrote letters. Got a pair of socks from the Y.
April 2: Stand down. No flying due to rain. "A" and "J" OK now. No ops as it has rained all day and nearly all night and is still raining. Finish duty crew tomorrow morning.
April 3: Stand down. No flying due to weather. Ground training. Still raining off and on so no flying today. No mail. Took a half day. First air raid sirens today for some time. Nothing much to worry about.
April 4: Stand down. "More April showers". No flying possible. A number of aircrew were interviewed for commissions. Another day of nothing to do. Rain, rain and still more rain. Will write some letters. All leaves cancelled indefinitely so I am wondering just when I will get mine.
April 5: No flying due to bad weather. Rained a little this morning off and on. Hazy all day. No flying at all. Ran up all kites and all OK. Got a parcel today.
April 6: Ops through for three aircraft plus thirteen on night cross-countries but all were cancelled. Some day flying including fighter affiliation. Informed that the C/O McIntosh would be succeeded by S/Ldr McKenna of A-Flight. A little flying today. A couple of Mosquitoes in today. Got a parcel today. B. had his charge today. Wing CO referred it to the CO and the CO gave him a 10 pound fine.
April 7: Squadron on Parade and Inspection by Base Commander Air Commodore Ross. All flying was cancelled today and tonight. Muster parade today. Inspected by Air Commodore Ross. Ops on tonight then scrubbed. Mail from home with pictures. Rather cloudy all day.
April 8: Two on fighter affiliation and 10 on night bombing practise. W/C McIntosh was replaced by W/C McKenna at a squadron parade. W/C McIntosh thanked the men for their support during his tenure. A lot of training flying today. Wing CO McIntosh gave over command to McKenna today. I think he will be pretty good.
April 9: Fourteen on ops to rail yards at Villeneuve St. George, France. All returned safely to base. Bombing photos taken indicated many crews hit the aiming point. Two on cross-country training. The Sixth Victory Loans are quite successful with many airmen signing up. On duty tonight and ops are on. All the kites we have. Weather very hazy all day but clear towards evening. Bomb loads consisted of 6x1000 and 8x500 mc. Takeoff ~21:00 with the attack occurring just after midnight. Bombs were dropped from 13000 to 15000 feet on target indicators laid down by PFF. Aircrews saw many fires and explosions. One large explosion was seen by many crews. Some crews experienced heavy flak just prior to target. Bomber Command attacked the railway yards at Lille and Villeneuve St. Georges with 239 and 225 bombers respectively. The squadron's bombers went to Villeneuve St.Georges. Almost half, 107, aircraft sent to Villeneuve-St-Georges were from 6 Group. Although the raid was considered successful by Bomber Command reports from the town indicate over 400 buildings damaged or destroyed with no indication of any damage occurring to the rail yards. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
April 10: Thirteen on ops to attack the rail yards at Ghent. One was a nonstarter. The rest were successful and returned to base safely. Routine flight training continued. Two members of the Canadian infantry were attached to squadron for a week to learn how a bombing squadron operates. Boy what a lot of work last night. Finished at 6:30 am. All returned safely. Slept until 5:00. Bomb loads were 9x1000 and 6x500 mc. Takeoff ~20:50. Aircrews bombed ~22:48 from 13,000 feet. PFF indicators reported as on time and concentrated. Crews reported many bomb bursts in the target area. Bomber Command targeted the railways in five communities in Belgium and France. The squadron's bombers were detailed to Ghent, Belgium. All of the aircraft for this target, 122, were from 6 Group. The rail yards received substantial damage but there was significant collateral damage including 1600 buildings damaged or destroyed and 728 civilian casualties. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
April 11: Stand down. Flight training continued. No ops but there is night flying training. Things going fairly well. Weather starting to get hazy.
April 12 to 17: Bad weather cancelled all ops and most flight training.
April 18: The squadron has 23 aircrews available for operations now. Op through for fifteen to attack the rail yards at Noisy. All returned safely. Four aircraft carried mid under gunners which was a first for the squadron. All returned safely. One was diverted to Ford and another to Bosworth. The one diverted to Ford had been struck by falling bombs. Ops on tonight. Got "J" fixed. Had trouble on "D" but its OK and all nine got away. This was the first time mid under gunners were used by the squadron. Bomb loads were 6x1000 and 9x500 mc. Takeoff was ~20:55. Bombs were dropped on target just before midnight from heights between 14,500 and 15,400 feet. PFF marking was on time and concentrated. "J" had one 1000 lb bomb hang up. Bomber Command attacked the rail yards of four towns on this night. The squadron's bombers were part of 181 sent to Noisy-le-Sec, France. Three quarters of the bombers were from 6 Group. While the bombing successfully damaged the rail lines and yards over 2700 buildings were damaged or destroyed and civilian casualties numbered over 820. (BC-4; 6 Group-4)
April 19: Three aircraft, "A", "R" and "S" were on sea search today. The planes took off ~10:30 and returned ~15:00. F/O AG Plummer awarded DFC for the attack on Stuttgart March 1, 1944. On route to target one engine stopped resulting in the bomber losing 15000 feet of altitude. The crew continued on to the target and bombed from 14000 feet. F/O Plummer then successfully brought the bomber back to England. Diverted aircrews returned to base. Interviews for commissions underway. Got up at 6 am to get kites ready for sea search after last nights ops. We didn't lose any though. Crew of "A" claimed to see an empty dinghy. Rained all day.
April 20: Ops through for thirteen aircraft to attack Lens, France. One missing. Ops on tonight. Seven off. No mail. Weather fair. Bomb load 9x1000 plus 6x500. Takeoff ~21:25. Most crews dropped their bombs ~23:45 from 10,500 feet but the Lapointe crew in "A" dropped from 17000 feet. The aiming point was again designated by PFF markers and comments from Master Bomber. Overall the crews felt it was a good attack with many reporting extensive fires and a few large explosions. LW692 "V" piloted by WO2 Leonard with ab WO2 Wilson, nav F/Sgt Warren, wop Sgt Wheelhouse, mugun Sgt Beureier, gun Sgt Anderson and eng Sgt Gough, was reported missing. Of the crew from "V" only Sgt Beureier and gun Sgt Anderson survived as POW's. Bomber Command attacked railways and industry in four centers in Germany and France. The 420 Squadron's bombers were part of the attack made by 175 aircraft on Lens. 6 Group as a whole provided 154 aircraft to this raid. The attack was successful with bombing concentrated around the rail yard.420 Squadron's "V" was the only loss on this raid. (BC-1; 6 Group-1)
April 21: Weather too bad for flying. Stand down. All kites returned from our flight OK. "B" flight lost one and 425 Squadron lost two. Jerry was over last night. Plenty of flak last night and today delayed action bombs going off. No ops tonight.
April 22: Ops for thirteen to attack Dusseldorf. All but one returned to base. One diverted to Coninsby short of fuel. LW386 "A", piloted by P/O Lepointe was damaged by flak and was considered unrepairable with routine maintenance. "B" flown by P/O Fenton was hit by flak over target area. It lost altitude and hydraulic fluid. On return "B" had to land with flaps up. The number of aircraft available for ops is thirteen. Ops on tonight so we had plenty to do again today. Mail from home. Bomb loads were 1x2000, 56x30, 480x4 and 60x4. Takeoff was ~22:50 with bombing ~03:50. Crews dropped their bomb loads are PFF TI's from 17000 to 20000 feet. Most crews reported good concentration and many fires that could be seen from 100 miles away. The main target for Bomber Command was Dusseldorf. It detailed 596 bombers to the city. 6 Group contributed 136 aircraft to the mission. Over 2000 tons of bombs were dropped causing significant damage to 56 factories, 2000 homes and casualties numbered over 1800. (BC-29; 6 Group-8)
April 23: Air to sea firing, fighter affiliation and cross country flying practise today and tonight. Training today and tonight. I am not on but I am supposed to be tomorrow. Have a sore throat so figure I am in for a tough few days. 425 Squadron lost one last night.
April 24: Ops on tonight for fourteen aircraft to attack Karlsruhue. Two returned early. "R" with Gee and upper turret malfunctioning. And, "G", flown by F/Sgt Pritchard, had the starboard outer engine u/s and could not maintain altitude so returned early. Rest of the aircraft diverted to Eastmoor, Linton, Croft and Chadburgh. Ops on again tonight. Everything on. Was a short trip but now its overloads up and filled. 425 Squadron lost two on fighter affiliation today. Went into a spin. Ten killed. One a ground crew Radar Cpl. Bomb loads were 1x2000, 40x30, 390x4 and 60x4. Takeoff was ~21:40. Bombs were dropped ~23:45 from heights of 14000 to 20000 feet. Crews reported a good attack with PFF indicating target and many fires. "N" and "S" had bombs hang up. "U" had air speed indicators u/s from icing over target. "X" had drift monitor u/s. Missing was MZ503 "L" flown by pilot F/O Watterson with crew, ba F/O Redmond, nav WO2 Webb, wop F/O Murphy, muag Sgt Tanner, ag Sgt Cassidy and eng Sgt Hansford. Sgt G. Tanner and Sgt B. Cassidy became POW's. The other crew members died in the crash. Bomber Command attacked Karlsruhe with 637 bombers, 137 were from 6 Group. Target marking and bombing was affected by strong winds and clouds over target resulting in bombs being spread over a large area, even to Mannheim. Bomber Command also sent over 200 bombers to Munich. (BC-19; 6 Group-6)
April 25: Ops were scrubbed as was flight training. Diverted aircraft returned to base. wop Smith taken to Northhallerton Hospital. We lost "L" last night. Our second since we started ops again. 425 Squadron lost two and their "J" belly landed. Bought a $100 bond today and will send it home.
April 26: Ops through for twelve aircraft. All returned safely. Ops on tonight and I am on. Six on with "D" as spare. Quite busy with ops every night but that is what we like. Bomb loads included 64x30, 570x4 and 60x4, or, 56x30, 480x4 and 60x4. Takeoff time was ~23:10. Bombs were dropped ~01:30 from 21000 feet. F/Sgt Pritchard's plane, "C", had an electrical failure over target and bombs could not be released. Bombing on PFF markers appeared to be good with many fires started. Some crews reported seeing fires from 160 miles away on return flight. Bomber Command sent almost 500 bombers to Essen. 6 Group's contribution was 117 aircraft. The attack was considered successful. Casualties numbered over 1500. (BC-7; 6 Group-1)
April 27: Ops through to attack Auloyne, France. All attacked target and returned to base. Got up at 4 pm. Sure had a long spell last night. Sent six and the spare. All returned OK with very few snags. Finished and got to bed at 8 am. Bomb loads were 7x1000, 8x500 or 9x1000, 4x500. Takeoff was around midnight for most planes. Bombs were dropped minutes after 02:00. Bombs were released from 5000 feet on PFF target markers. Some crews were told to orbit by the Master Bomber. Some crews complained the Master Bomber was talking too much and then changed the colour of the target indicators to aim on. Other crews mentioned the bombs were becoming scattered. "K" flown by W/C McKenna was holed in the starboard wing. Bomber command sent bombers to attack railway yards at three targets. The squadron's Halifaxes were sent to Aulnoye, France, as part of a force of 223 bombers. 6 Group provided almost half, 90, aircraft to the mission. The attack was successful with the rail yards receiving substantial damage. (BC-1; 6 Group-0)
April 28: Stand down. All aircrews were given a rest. Eight on ops last night. All returned OK. Lots of work today changing exhaust rings on "J" and on "D" and more on "D" soon. My back is hurting and stiff.
April 29: Stand down. Routine flight training all day. No ops today. Finished exhaust rings. "J", "D" and "C" all flew today. They all are OK.
April 30: Squadron is made up of 478 personnel including seven WAAF's. Ops on for sixteen aircraft to attack Somain. All took off on schedule with no early returns. One diverted to Linton due to fuel shortage. One missing, LW476 "J" flown by F/Ldr Northern was on the last sortie of his tour. He was with the squadron during its deployment in North Africa. Ops on tonight, everything on. An extra short trip by gas load. I suspect France. Weather very nice lately. Took several snaps today. Am to be on duty tomorrow. Bomb loads were 9x1000, 6x500 or 9x1000, 4x500. Takeoff ~21:30. Bombs were dropped from 7000 to 7500 feet at ~23:40. The attack was marked by PFF TI's with a Master Bomber instructing the bombers. Some crews were told to orbit and to switch aiming points from red indicators to yellow indicators. Most reported seeing bomb bursts in target area with much smoke and many fires seen up to 60 miles away. LW476 "J" reported missing. Pilot was F/L Northern (Deputy Flight Commander), ba WO1 Venber, nav F/O Morrison, wop F/S Ianes, muag Sgt Young, ag F/O Hall and eng Sgt Franklin. All the crew of "J" were killed. Bomber Command sent small, less than 200 bomber, to three French towns. 420 Squadron was part of 143 bombers sent to Somain. 6 Group made up almost all of the aircraft, 114. The target marking was inaccurate resulting in the bombs falling in the countryside. The only loss was 420 Squadron's "J". (BC-1; 6 Group-1)
May 1, 1944: For the month of April 420 Squadron dropped more tons of bombs than any other squadron in No 62 Base. Ops for fourteen to attack the rail yards at St Chislain, France. All attacked primary target. Routine flight training. Lost Ed in "J" last night. The only kite lost of 6 Group and it was his last trip too. War is hell in so many ways. Ops on again to tonight and I am on. Nine kites in all. Bomb loads were 9x1000, 4x500 or 6x500. Takeoff ~21:54. Bombs were dropped minutes after midnight from 6000 feet on red TI's. Master Bomber's instructions were good as was the PFF work and the route. Many crews reported fires and explosions in target area. Bomber Command continued wide spread attacks on transportation. 420 Squadron's bombers were part of 137 detailed to attack the railway yards at St-Chislain. 6 Group provided 115 aircraft for this raid. The attack was considered successful. (BC-2; 6 Group-2)
May 2: All kites returned OK. Finished and in bed by 6 am. Slept til 5 pm. No ops tonight. Weather pretty hazy.
May 3: Stand down. Night flight training of bullseye and cross countries. "F" MZ596 was reported missing from night training flight. (pilot P/O Lapointe, ba WO2 Monaghan, nav WO2 Michie, wop Sgt Beer, muag Sgt McDougall, ag F/Sgt Stobbbart, eng Sgt Ellwood, and mdgun Sgt Simmons.) Training flights all day and night. Fairly hazy and high winds. A ladder fell over and hit J. Christie on the foot. He is hospital but OK.
May 4: Squadron has been informed the following crew members missing on March 24/25 are POW's(nav F/O Altic, wop WO1 Renwick, muag 2ndLt Thomson. ag Sgt Boire, ab F/Sgt Fraser,eng Sgt Bushell Training again tonight. Pete la Pointe is missing in "F" from last night's training. Got receipt for $50 bond. Airmen having a party tonight.
May 5: Stand down. Routine local flying practise. No flying today. Wing overloads put up in "D" and "G" today. Dull again today.
May 6: Ops through for twelve aircraft. All were prepared and ready to takeoff when the ops were cancelled due to weather Things going fairly well. Ashford, our African Padre, is coming tomorrow and will preach. He is on a fighter base down south.
May 7: Eight aircraft were detailed for attack on St Valery en Cauk, France. All were successful in attacking the target. A lecture was given to the aircrew on photography. Ops on tonight, four and the spare went. Went to church. Went to hospital to see Jim and Redell. Both are pretty fair. A very nice day and nice night. Bomb loads 9x1000, 6x500. Takeoff time was ~21:40. Most of the crews bombed ~23:30 from 7500 feet. Some crews thought the bombing was accurate while others thought the bombs were moving to starboard and starting to scatter. Large fires and bomb bursts seen in and around the target area. "C" had a 1000 lb bomb hang up. The crew of "Y" had to manually close the bomb bay doors. "R" bombed the target but the rear turret was u/s. Bomber Command attacked a number of small targets. 420 was detailed along with 56 others from 6 Group, plus eight PFF Mosquitoes, to attack a coastal gun position near St-Valery. They were not successful. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
May 8: Ops for thirteen to bomb Haine St Pierre, France. All were successful. Night flight training. Didn't lose any last night. Ops again tonight. Eight on and two on cross-country training. A real lovely day today. Got mail from home. Bomb loads were 9x1000, 4x500 or 13x500. Takeoff ~01:20. Crews bombed ~03:25 from 8100 to 8300 feet. The Master Bomber and PFF were good. Many explosions and fires seen in target area. German night fighters were in the target area. Crew of "O" witnessed five night fighter attacks and saw many others on route to target. "O" was, itself, attacked by a JU-88. The mid under gunner, Sgt Masse, fired 100 rounds from 600 yds. No damage was reported to the bomber but some rounds were seen to hit the enemy aircraft's starboard wing as it veered off from the attack. Another bomber was also attacked by a JU-88. This one was fired upon and claimed as damaged by the rear gunner, Sgt Wearine. MX585 had 1x1000 lb bomb hang up. Bomber Command sent 123 bombers to Haine-St-Pierre to bomb the rail yards. Over half, 75, were from 6 Group. The attack was successful. (BC-9; 6 Group-6)
May 9: Twelve on ops for attack on Calais. All were successful with reports of good concentration around aiming point. Small amount of light flak around target area. Routine training flights were undertaken. All returned last night and ops again tonight. Seven on ops and two on cross country training. Pay parade got 2&8. Got a letter from home. "Cas" got his hooks. The bombers were loaded with a number of bomb loads; 1x1000 and 12x500, 9x1000 and 4x500, and one carried 13x500. Takeoff ~2142. The bombs were released from 11,500 feet at ~23:30 on red TI's. Clear skies enabled the crews to see many of the bomb bursts and the growing number of fires. Bomber Command sent 414 bombers to attack various coastal batteries in the Calais area. 6 Group contributed 53 bombers to the attack. Four gun emplacements were destroyed. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
May 10: Ops through for seven aircraft to attack Ghent. All were successful. Training flights undertaken. Kites returned OK from last night's ops. "D" didn't go and I have been working on it for some time on the starboard mag. Worked on "C", "G" and "D" nearly all day. Camera guy from Duxford taking pictures of WAAF drivers came out to see the squadron. Bomb loads were 13x500. Takeoff ~21:46. Crews bombed from 9800 feet at ~23:40 on yellow TI's. The skies were clear but ground haze made it difficult to see much detail. The attack appeared concentrated with many crews reporting large explosions and fires. The Master Bomber requested "O" to overshoot the TI's to spread the bombing. Bomber Command sent 506 bombers to various targets to attack transportation links and railways. All of 6 Group's 104 planes were detailed to Ghent. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
May 11: Stand down. Routine flight training. On duty tonight and only "K" on late cross-country training the rest finished by 8:30. So a pretty easy night. Intend on going to York tomorrow with Nip.
May 12: Fourteen to Louvain. All reached target and eleven bombed it. Three could not identify the aiming point. Interviews for commissions underway. Got to bed at 2:30 am and got up at 8:30. Went to York with Nip. Had plenty to eat and came home early. Ops are on for everything. Bombers were loaded with 13x500 bomb loads. Takeoff time 22:06. Most crews bombed from 7000 feet at ~00:30. Bomb bursts were seen to be concentrated around green TI's. The weather was hazy which made it difficult for some crews to identify the target. "D" had to orbit the target area three times while TI's were dropped. "E", "H", "K" could not positively identify the target so returned with their bomb loads. Bomber Command attacked the railway yards at Louvain with 120 aircraft this night. Almost all the bombers, 108, were from 6 Group. The railway yards were damaged but there was also over 360 casualties among the civilians. (BC-5; 6 Group-5)
May 13: Ops were planned then cancelled. Kites all returned OK. Very lazy day. Ops on tonight for everything.
May 14: Stand down. Normal flight training. Bad weather resulted in a stand down and no flying. Ops scrubbed last night. Training on today and tonight. A fairly nice day.
May 15: Bad weather resulted in a stand down and no flying. Not much doing only cleaning up and straightening around for MacKenzie King's visit. A tough ball game last night. 6 Group HG beat us 18 to 14. Reg is getting in shape fast.
May 16: Bullseyes scheduled for tonight were cancelled due to weather. McKenzie King visited station today. Rained nearly all day only cleared up late this afternoon. Seven kites on a cross-country display for Mackenzie King. All three kites in pretty fair shape now.
May 17: Stand down. Low cloud ceiling. Squadron carried out flight training. A little flying this am. Nothing much else doing. Had the afternoon off to write letters.
May 18: Bad weather caused a stand down and no flying. Rained a lot today. Had an oil cooler to change on "C". OK now. No mail.
May 19: Fourteen on ops to attack Merville-Franceville. One was an early return due to engine trouble. Rest were successful. Ops on for tonight but it looks pretty doubtful. It rained all last night and some this morning. Linton beat us 6 to 8. Bomb loads were 13x500 or 16x500. Takeoff ~23:27. MZ569 "R", flown by P/O Heimpel, returned early due to u/s starboard outer and the starboard inner was running rough. The bombs were dropped from 8500 feet at ~01:35. The bombs were dropped on a good concentration of red TI's. "T" was forced to orbit while PFF indicated the target. The TI's were dropped late by the PFF. Most crews considered it a good attack. Bomber Command attack a number of targets this night including Merville. The squadron's bombers were part of a force of 63 detailed to attack gun positions. 6 Group contributed 57 planes to this attack. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
May 20: Stand down. Routine flight training. Commission interviews continued. Things working pretty well now. Am on tonight. Two on cross-country. Weather isn't very good.
May 21: Stand down. Local flight training. Ten were on cross-country and then tested a new method of landing circuit. Having an easy day after getting to bed at 4:30. Got up at 6 pm for supper.
May 22: LeMans was targeted by fourteen aircraft. All reached primary target. On return one, MZ540 "H", was forced to land at Ford. F/Lt Deegan the A-Flight commander was promoted to S/Ldr and F/O Kruger, Deputy Flight Commander of B-Flight promoted to F/Lt. Working tonight. Ops on. So I will have plenty to do. On with "Moose". Got a letter from home. Bomb loads were 13x500 or 16x500. Takeoff time was ~00:10. MZ540 "H", piloted by WO2 Ward, collided with another Halifax at 02:30 at 7800 feet on the way to target. Damage to the port outer, upper turret, the starboard rudder and fin assembly caused handling problems with the aircraft. Stayed on route and jettisoned bombs. The crew of "H" were able to get the plane back to England where they landed at Ford airbase. The remaining crews dropped their bomb loads ~02:38 from 7800 to 8500 feet. The Master Bomber requested some of the crews to bomb to port of the yellow TI's. Most crews reported seeing many explosions and fires. The crew of "D" suggested the Master Bomber may have been shot down after reinforcing the markers as Master Bomber 2 could not contact them and took over bombing instructions. The crew of "X" could not see TI's and did not hear Master Bomber. "W" reported relatively intense light flak over target. "C" had a hung up bomb and had to bring it back to base. MX540 "M" piloted by WO2 Ward was hit by another Halifax on bomb run damaging port engine, aerial, upper turret and the starboard rudder and tail fin. The crew jettisoned bombs and were successful in making to Ford airbase. LW645 "T" piloted by F/O Kidd was attacked by a FW 190. The FW190 was identified by the mid upper gunner, Sgt Lowe, at a range of 600 yards. Sgt Lowe ordered an immediate corkscrew to port and fired 60 rounds at the aircraft. MZ625 "Q", F/O Whittall's crew was attacked by an ME109 from astern. The rear gunner, Sgt Spearing, ordered a corkscrew to starboard and fired 150 rounds from 400 yards hitting the fighter in the fuselage. Bomber Command continued attacking transportation centers. The squadron's bombers were part of a force of 133 to attack the rail yards at Le Mans. All but twenty-one crews were from 6 Group. This raid was considered a success. (BC-1; 6 Group-2)
May 23: Stand down. Routine flying exercises with one on cross-country. Two aircrews went to Ripon for dinhgy practise. Got finished and to bed by 7 am. "G" broke a line to the landing gear so didn't go. "H" got shot up and landed down south. 425 Squadron's "V" crash landed lost its tail wheel and damaged the wings, tail and props.
May 24: Stand down. Intensive series of training flights. A nice day. A training program only for today and tonight. 425 squadron also lost a kite on the ops of May 22 as well as the crash landing.
May 25: Ops were on for seventeen aircraft but the weather caused cancellation of the ops from the squadron. Christie on. A little trouble with "D" today. OK now. No mail. Weather pretty fair today.
May 26: Training this afternoon and I am on. All finished by 5 pm so I will get lots of sleep tonight and a good easy day off tomorrow.
May 27: Seventeen on ops for an attack on Bourg-Leopald Military Camp. Attack was successful. Ground fog at base required all aircraft to divert to other bases on return. Fifteen bombed target. One was attacked by a night fighter just prior to bomb run. One bomber is reported missing. Had a nice lay in this morning after no night flying last night on my night on. B-Flight lost squadron leader. Aircraft were loaded with either 16x500 or 13x500 bomb loads. Takeoff was ~23:55. The crews bombed the target ~02:12 from 8500 to 8800 feet. Crews saw many bomb blasts around TI's laid down by the Master Bomber. Many fires and large explosions seen. View of target area became obscured by smoke. A number of crews reported seeing night fighters on trip back to England. LW423 "G" piloted by P/O Kalle was attacked by a night fighter and electrical system was u/s. The pilot put the plane into a steep dive to put out the flames that had started to engulf the wings. The muag Sgt Elsliger likely thought the plane was going down so baled out over target area. He may have also been wounded. The dive put out the flames and the pilot was able to land in England after the bombs were jettisoned. The aircraft was so damaged that it was category A.C.. One aircraft, MZ502 "U" was reported missing. The pilot was B-Flight S/Ldr Beall, and crew, nav F/O Andrews, ba F/O Robison, wop F/O Woolley, ag Sgt Stainton, ag P/O Goodall, ag F/Sgt Mohler and eng Sgt Hickox). All the crew of "U" were killed after being shot down by a night fighter. Bomber Command sent 331 bombers to attack Bourg-Leopold and the German military camp there.6 Group provided just under half, 149, the planes for this attack. The camp received a great amount of damage. (BC-10; 6 Group-6)
May 28: Stand down. Lectures and routine training. All kites went and returned. "G"'s mid upper bailed out. "A" flight got two Jerry night fighters and a possible. Plenty of work to do on "C". Weather OK. Went for a swell bike ride this evening for a couple of hours.
May 29: Stand down. Lectures and routine training. Very hot today. Changing ignition harness on "C" of all things and it is a tough job. No ops but a little night training. Linton played ball here and beat us 5 to 1.
May 30: Ops cancelled tonight. Two aircrews went to the Spa Baths at Ripon for dinghy drill. Ops were on tonight but scrubbed early. Finished up on "C" and it check ran OK. No mail. Weather was very lovely all day. Koffy landed here today for dinner in a Lanc with Merlins.
May 31: Ops for fourteen to bomb the wireless station at Au Fevre, France. All successfully bombed the primary target and returned safely. Routine flight training. A fairly nice day today. Ops on tonight. Sgt Grant left today for Eastmoor on a posting. At present I have no one. Bomb loads consisted of 16x500. Takeoff was ~21:55. Attack was carried out ~00:18 from 10000 feet. The skies were mostly clear with some ground haze and localized thunderstorms over the channel. PFF and TI's appeared to be on time and accurate. Aircrews reported explosions and a great deal of smoke in the target area. "Q" had three bombs hang up. Bomber Command sent small raids to a number of targets to disrupt transport, communication and jamming facilities. 6 Group made up the entire main bombing force sent to Au Fevre, 125 aircraft. They were accompanied by four Mosquitoes from 8 Group to mark the target. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
June 1, 1944: Ops through for sixteen but later cancelled due to weather conditions. A number of airmen finished their tour of duty and were screened. Kites arrived back OK. 425 Squadron had "P" crash land. Very dull day. Ops were scrubbed tonight and I was on so am lucky.
June 2: Neufchateau was attacked by fourteen aircraft. All successfully attacked the primary target. Routine flight training carried out. News that the following aircrew missing on the night of April 24, ag Sgt Tanner and ag Sgt Cassidy are reported as POW's. Took a half day today. Got mail. Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff time was ~22:20. The crews bombed at ~00:17 from 7600 to 8000 feet. Attack was reported successful with good marking from PFF and a number of large explosions observed. The mid upper gunner, WO2 Surles, of "C" (MZ 587) spotted an enemy fighter about 800 yards. Corkscrew evasion undertaken with the rear gunner, Sgt Ross, firing 200 rounds at the enemy from 500 yards and as it closed to 250 yards. LW674 "E" also saw an ME109 from 600 yards. The mid upper gunner, rear gunner and under gunner all fired at the enemy aircraft as the pilot corkscrewed to port. "E" also had a port inner engine malfunction for part of its flight. Bomber Command bombed coastal batteries in preparation for D-day. 6 Group detailed 70 aircraft to attack Neufchateau. (BC-1; 6 Group-0)
June 3: Ops on for tonight and then scrubbed. Ops on tonight but I think they will be scrubbed. All kites returned last night OK. Started raining tonight.
June 4: Stand down. Ops were scrubbed last night. A little flying today but the weather was poor and now it is raining quite heavily.
June 5: Eighteen on ops tonight to attack a coastal battery in the vicinity of Houlgate, France. The target was successfully bombed and all aircraft returned to base. Squadron was confined to camp. Ops tonight and I'm on. Ten kites and have had quite a busy day so far. Invasion rumours everywhere. Aircraft were loaded with 16x500 bombs. Takeoff was ~01:55. The battery was bombed from 10500 to 11000 feet at ~03:50. Clouds prevented the crews from viewing their results. Bombs were dropped on TI's laid down by PFF. "K" had one bomb hang up. Most crews reported a small amount of icing. Coastal batteries were again targeted on the eve of D Day. Bomber Command sent just over 1000 aircraft to bomb coastal batteries within the invasion zone as well as outside the landing beaches to keep the invasion beaches a secret. 6 Group sent 106 aircraft to Houlgate. (BC-0; 6 Group-1)
June 6, 1944: D-DAY : Eighteen were sent to bomb a bridge at Coutances, France. All attacked the target and one crew was able to hit the bridge. All were diverted due to poor weather at base until conditions cleared. Invasion rumours were correct. Holland and France is where they started. All kites returned with tales of millions of fires and the channel full of ships. Kites off again tonight. I got to bed at 8:30 this morning. The weather is rainy after a lovely day. Bomb loads were 16X500. Takeoff time ~21:58. The crews bombed ~00:21 from 2500 to 5000 feet which was below the cloud base. All crews reported bombs falling on TI's and Master Bomber requesting slight adjustments to the aiming point relative to the TI's. Crews saw many bomb bursts. "E" had a malfunction with the bomb release and had to return with most of its bomb load. With the invasion much of Bomber Command's attention now shifted from strategic and area bombing to supporting the ground troops' break out attempts from the immediate areas of the beach heads with attacks on German troop concentrations as well as transport and communication targets in the area. Bomber Command was now large enough to send up aerial armadas of over 1000 heavy bombers, Lancasters and Halifaxes, and accompanying Mosquitoes. 6 Group provided 132 aircraft to the attack on Coutances, France. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
June 7: Ops through for eleven to bomb the rail yards near Acheres, France. The bombing was considered very accurate. One crew did not return. Routine training continued. Ops on again tonight but only six on. All returned safely from last night. Quite a heavy day's work today but things are going OK now. Weather was pretty cloudy today. Parcel from home. Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff ~22:58. Bombs were dropped by the crews ~01:22 from 5000 to 6000 feet below the cloud bases. The crews considered the bombing to be accurate on the TI's with a number of explosions observed. "J" reported missing with pilot F/O Jones, ba F/O Tilt, nav F/O Norton, wop Sgt Yates, muag Sgt Sammons, mundergun Sgt Hampson, ag Sgt Tanuck, and eng Sgt McGlade. All the crew of "J" perished. Bomber Command continued its attacks on communications sending 337 bombers to various centres. 6 Group sent 100 planes to Acheres. (BC-28; 6 Group-4)
June 8: Ten aircraft on ops to attack the rail yards at Mayenne, France. All attacked the target and on return were diverted due to heavy fog over base. One however, managed to land at Tholthorpe. Air flight training continued. Lost "J" last night but the rest returned OK. "R" from B-flight crashed on runway today. Six on ops tonight. Bomb loads consisted of 16x5000. Takeoff time was ~23:05. The bombs were dropped from 4000 to 7000 feet at ~01:48. Crews reported good concentration of bomb bursts in target area and around TI's. A number of fires were started with flames to 2000 feet. The mid upper gunner, WO2 Gordon, of "T" (645) observed an ME109 from 800 yards. A corkscrew to port was initiated by the pilot, F/O Bennett, and the rear gunner, Sgt L Johnson, and under gunner, Sgt W Johnson, fired 300 rounds at the enemy aircraft as it closed from 250 to 150 yards. No return fire was noted. Communication centres were again targeted by 483 bombers on this night. Seventy aircraft from 6 Group were sent to Mayenne. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
June 9: Ten aircraft ordered to attack an airbase to the southwest of Lemans, France. Attack was successfully completed. Flight training continued. All kites returned from last night's ops safely and five are away again tonight. Got a fruit cake from Auntie G. Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff was ~21:28. The crews bombed at ~00:20 from 4000 feet although "C" bombed at 2500 feet. The crews reported good visibility from bombing altitude and bombs dropped on TI's of PFF. Many crews reported explosions, bomb bursts and fires. Bomber Command sent 401 bombers to attack a number of airfields in France. 6 Group had an even 100 detailed for the attack. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
June 10: Ops through for ten aircraft to attack the rail yards at Versaille-Matelots, France. Nine were successful and returned safely to base. One is reported missing. Regular training flights on all day. All kites returned again from last night's ops and six more on tonight. Weather still showery and cloudy. Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff was ~22:10. The crews bombed at ~00:40 from 6000 to 7000 feet. The bombs were dropped on PFF TI's with instructions from Master Bomber. Crews reported good concentration of attack around TI's. W/C McKenna in "K" reported seeing a train smoking. Some crews reported seeing a number of night fighters. NA528 "G" piloted by P/O Kalle was fired upon by an ME109. The rear gunner spotted the enemy plane 600 yards away. It closed to 400 yards. A corkscrew to port was initiated. LW674 "E" did not return. The crew were; pilot P/O Holloway, ba F/Sgt Irwin, nav F/O Lancaster, wop F/Sgt Brakes, muag Sgt Waller, ag Sgt Harrop, eng Sgt Binnie, and under gunner Sft Chudzik. Two members of the crew of "E", Binnie and Brakes, were able to evade capture. The rest of the crew were killed. Bomber Command targeted various rail centers with 434 bomber. 6 Group provided 100 planes to the attack on Versailes. All attacks were believed successful. (BC-15; 6 Group-3)
June 11: Stand down. Morning flight training. Interviews for commissions were scheduled. An official stand down so we had it pretty easy today. Lost Luke Holloway in "E" on a Paris target last night. A pretty hot target.
June 12: Fifteen on ops to attack Cambrai Junction. Fourteen successfully bombed the target with one early return. Routine training flights continued. Not a great deal to do today as there was no flying yesterday. Ops tonight. Eight on and a fairly long trip. Mail today. Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff ~21:57. "F" piloted by WO2 Ward returned early with over revving engines and landed with a full bomb load. Crews had clear weather except around Amiens. Most crews felt the attack was well concentrated around the TI's. The crews bombed from about 5200 feet around 02:30. Master Bomber was adjusting attacks on markers. "K" had most of its bomb load hang up. "Q" piloted by F/O Britt was attacked by a twin engined night fighter. It was observed by the under gunner from 250 yards who saw the tracers from the enemy plane's guns and fired 25 rounds as a cockscrew to starboard was carried out by the pilot. "A", F/S McAdam's crew, was also attacked by an FW190 after flares were dropped. Tracers were seen coming from the enemy plane from 600 yards by the mid upper gunner, Sgt White, who fired 150 rounds beginning at 600 yards and as the enemy closed to 400 yards. The pilot made a diving turn to starboard. MX687 "L" piloted by F/O Aldred was attacked three times by night fighters. The first attack was by a JU88. Fighter flares were used to aid the enemy aircraft in seeing the bombers. The rear gunner was the first to see the enemy aircraft from about 480 yards away as it started firing on the bomber. He fired 50 rounds as the fighter closed to 400 yards. The pilot went into a starboard bank. The midupper gunner, WO2 McLeod, spotted the fighter, an ME109, at a range of 400 yards when it started firing at the bomber. The pilot put the bomber into a corkscrew starboard while the mid upper gunner fired 800 rounds at the enemy fighter as it closed to 200 yards astern. The enemy aircraft then exploded. The mid upper gunner claims one enemy aircraft destroyed. The third attack was from astern at a range of 400 yards by an FW190. The pilot put the bomber in a corkscrew to starboard and the enemy fighter was lost from view. Communications centers were attacked by 671 bombers. 420 Squadron was sent to Cambrai Junction along with 92 other aircraft from 6 Group. The target was hit successfully but some bombs were scattered into the town. On this night P/O A Mynarski, of 419 Squadron, won a VC for heroic efforts to save the tail gunner. Mynarski died from wounds he received when the Lancaster crashed. The tail gunner survived and reported the account. (BC-23 (all raids); 6 Group-9)
June 13: Stand down. Eleven aircrews took part in extensive flight training excercises. A bomb aimer from the squadron was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident today. No ops today but quite a lot of training programs for this evening as well as this afternoon. I am on duty. Rained this morning some and fair and windy in the evening.
June 14: The railway at St. Pol, France was targeted by fifteen bombers tonight. The attack was successful and all returned safely to base. Training flights continued. Got finished at 4:30 am. Got up at 3:30 pm. Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff time ~01:20. The crews bombed at ~03:18 from 11400 feet. There were clouds over the target to 10000 making it difficult to see any results. The bombs were dropped on TI's with the aid of the Master Bomber. Bomber Command continued its attacks on troop positions and railways. The overcast conditions reudcied the accuracy of the attacks. 6 Group sent 61 aircraft to bomb St Pol railways. (BC-4 (All railway missons.); 6 Group-0)
June 15: Ops through for thirteen aircraft to attack Boulogne, France. The target was overcast. Routine training flights. Ops last night, all kites returned. Ops on tonight, eight of them. Weather is cloudy. Bomb loads were 6x1000 and 4x500. Takeoff time ~20:55. The crews bombed at ~22:42 from 14000 to 16400 feet. The target was overcast so bombing was strictly on TI's. Many crews reported seeing good concentrations of bombs around the TI's and some very large explosions. Bomber Command sent 297 bombers to attack a naval build up of light ships in the Boulogne harbour. 6 Group contributed over half the aircraft, 162, to the effort. City reports this as the worst raid of the war to that date for the city. There was significant distruction to the port area and town and there were 200 fatalites. (BC-1; 6 Group-1)
June 16: Ops through for an attack on the Constructional Works at Santrecourt, France by sixteen aircraft. One, "G", was an early return with u/s under carriage. The rest bombed the target and returned safely. P/O Britt and crew were to fly an aircraft from Linton to base but it crashed shortly after takeoff injuring the navigator and air gunner. Training was carried out all day. Kites all returned safely and eight are on for tonight. Worked hard steadily on "A" all day on throttle and cs controls. Bomb loads were 16x500. Planes took off ~01:37. Crews dropped their bomb loads from 14000 to 16200 feet at ~22:47. Bomb bursts were concentrated around TI's through the clouds. Many crews reported a great deal of smoke around target area and some large explosions. The rear gunner of LW575 "F", observed an ME110 from 700 yards. The pilot, F/O Zavitz, corkscrewed the bomber to starboard and the enemy fighter was lost from view. Both the rear gunner and upper gunner fired rounds at the fighter. Bomber Command sent 405 bombers to flying bomb sites in the Pas de Calais area. This night four were targeted and all were bombed successfully. 6 Group contributed 102 to the force. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
June 17: Eleven aircraft were sent to bomb Oisemont/Neovule-au-Bois. All successfully attacked the target and returned safely to base. Routine flight training. Kites returned safely and a few on tonight. 425 Squadron had a pilot and gunner badly wounded over target. The bomb aimer brought the kite back. The pilot died. "C" and "D" are on training so we will have plenty of trouble. Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff was ~01:05. The crews bombed through cloud from about 12650 feet at ~03:10. Many crews saw bomb flashes and some large explosions through the clouds. The crew of "L" reported flak over southern England. "X" was fired upon by the rear gunner of a Lancaster over target area. Bomber Command detailed 114 bombers to flying bomb sites. All but twelve came from 6 Group. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
June 18: Squadron on standby with seventeen aircraft. Eventually scrubbed. Late evening cross countries carried out. "C" and "A" flew on training this morning. Everything called for ops by noon and then scrubbed. So three went on training. "D" came back and is away on training now.
June 19: Seventeen were prepared for ops but these had to be cancelled due to bad weather which cancelled all flying. Had a lot of work on "D" today but it is fixed.
June 20: Stand down and then an order came through for 20 aircraft to be readied for a dawn takeoff. These were prepared but at 01:30 this request was cancelled. The men were confined to base during this period. Confined to base again. Daylights in the morning I guess. Rumours of a 6 am takeoff.
June 21: Eighteen aircraft were bombed up and sent to St Martin L'Horteir on a day light raid with fighter cover. Sixteen were successful and returned safely to base. Two others did not drop their bombs because the could not see the TI's. Flight training continued. Daylights put to 13:00 then to 15:15 then finally they took off at 17:00. We sent nine. Weather fair. Bomb loads were 16X500. Take of time was ~17:20. The crews bombed at 19:46 from an altitude of 16000 to 16500 feet. Bombing was on green TI's which did not show up well for some crews. Master Bomber adjusted aiming point during the raid. Most crews reported seeing bomb bursts and explosions around the TI's. MZ587 "C" was hit by flak in the wings, fuselage and nose and had to corkscrew to try and avoid predicted flak. "N" and "G" could not see TI's and aborted their attacks. "Y" returned with two 500 pounders hung up. Bomber Command sent 322 bombers to flying bomb sites in France. Over half, 204, of the bombers were from 6 Group. Cloud cover resulted in two of the raids being called off. (BC-0; 6 Group-7)(Descrepency regarding number of losses.)
June 22: Stand down. Training continued. A request came through for eighteen aircraft to participate in a large formation training flight. All kites returned from daylight attack on buzz bomb sites. "C" with flak damage but will be out today. Worked late on "A" and found a collapsed fuel line. Weather murky.
June 23: Bientque bombed by seventeen of the squadron's aircraft. All were successful and returned to base safely. Extensive flight training was carried out all day. Formation training all day yesterday so ops tonight. "D" got pranged coming into the dispersal by a sprog crew. "C" repaired and on tonight. Weather fair. No mail. Four flying bomb sites were targeted by 412 bombers. 6 Group contributed 104 aircraft to these attacks. All sites were were damaged by the attacks. (BC-5; 6 Group-0)
June 24: Ops for sixteen to attack Bamieres. All returned to base. All returned from ops safely enough and are off again tonight. Nine on ops and "D" on cross country. Changed to oil seals in "D"'s two inners today. Weather pretty nice. Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff time ~23:00. The crews bombed through clouds on red TI's from 12800 to 13000 feet at ~00:45. Most crews found the route was good and the marking was done well. Bomber command attacked seven flying bomb sites successfully with 739 aircraft. 6 Group sent 103 bombers on this mission. (BC-22; 6 Group-1)
June 25: Sixteen aircraft were bombed up and readied on stand by until 13:30. A daylight raid was on for tomorrow. Flight training all day. Kites all returned safely from last night's ops and are on again tonight. "D" was OK from her cross-country trip of over five hours. I am on duty tonight but ops are scrubbed.
June 26: Bad weather conditions cancelled the daylight attack today. The squadron put on standby for tomorrow. Didn't get up until almost noon. All ops are scrubbed so they may be on tomorrow. Rained nearly all day.
June 27: Ops came through for sixteen aircraft to attack Foret D'Eawy. The aircrews bombed at ~00:33 from ~14000 feet. Bomb bursts were seen all around the target. The target was defended by inaccurate light flak and searchlights. Rained nearly all night and part of the morning. Ops have been on and off nearly all day. Going at 10 pm now. Did very little except change a starter on "C". Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff time ~22:28. The crews bombed from 14000 feet at ~00:30 through scattered clouds. Crews saw many bomb bursts in the immediate vicinity of the red TI's. Opposition was a small number of light and heavy flak with searchlights. But not very effective. MZ687 "B"(?) was attacked by a single engined fighter. The fighter was first spotted when it fired on the bomber from 350 yards. The rear gunner returned fire while the pilot evaded with a corkscrew to port. MZ505 "X" was fired upon by an enemy fighter from 250 yards. The mid upper gunner gave order to corkscrew to port while he and the rear gunner fired at the enemy plane which broke off its attacked at about 170 yards. Six flying bomb sites were attacked by 721 bombers. 6 Group provided 106 of these. (BC-3; 6 Group-0)
June 28: Ops were cancelled today. Training continued. All our kites returned safely. 425 had one run into a loaded kite of their own and it blew up leaving a hole 12 ft deep and 22 ft in diameter. Pieces of both kites all over the drome. Three other kites were damaged by flying pieces. All the crew members were able to escape relatively unscathed from the burning, exploding wreckage. The tail gunner was trapped but Corporal Marquet, F/Sgt St. Germain and Air Commodore Ross cut open the turret and rescued him. In the incident a piece of shrapnel injured AC Ross resulting in him losing his hand. AC Ross received the George Cross, and the other two received the George Medal.
June 29: Ops were on but cancelled late tonight. Bad weather cancelled flight training. No flying today or yesterday. Weather is very poor lately for any kind of flying. Our kites are in very good shape now unless rain gets in the mags.
June 30: Daylight ops planned for today were postponed until tomorrow because of weather. No flight training. No flying, no ops. Weather very poor. I tried to get leave but couldn't sent a telegram home.
July 1, 1944: Daylight ops through for eighteen to attack Biennais, France. All bombed primary target. One returned to Linton on two engines and crashed injuring the pilot and eng. No defences observed at the target. Pilot P/O Kalle and eng Sgt Burton received, respectively, immediate DFC and DFM for their efforts on May 27/28, 1944. No training flights. Kites finally got off at 2:30 am and returned about 7 am. "C" and "Y" came in on feathered engines. "K" cracked up at Linton, crew OK but flight engineer got a broken leg. Kite really smashed. I was on duty. Planes were loaded with 16x500 lb bombs. Takeoff time was ~14:50. The crews bombed from 12000 feet at ~17:00 hours. The target was cloud covered so the bombing was done using GEE, and "Square Mile" given by Master Bomber. Defences essentially non-existant. Results were not seen due to clouds. LW421 "K" piloted by P/O Cain had both port engines feathered and made a belly landing at Linton-on-Ouse. The only serious injury was to the eng Sgt Monument who had a compound fracture of the left leg. Attack on two flying bomb sites and storage site by 307 aircraft. 6 Group contributed 101 planes to the attack. The bombing was done with the aid of Oboe marking as all targets were cloud covered. No results were observed. (BC-1; 6 Group-0)
July 2: Ops for today were cancelled. No training. Off today so slept most of the day. When "K" crashed it killed two cows. Rained nearly all day.
July 3: Ops and training cancelled. Rain, lots of rain. No ops today. Kites in pretty fair shape I think.
July 4: Daylight ops through for seventeen to attack flying bomb sites located near Biennais, France. All returned to base. Routine flight training undertaken. Daylights again. We sent ten. All returned OK. Quite a lot of work but we are ready for ops again in the morning. Bomb loads were 16x500 lbs. Takeoff was at 11:45. Bombing was from 12000 to 13000 feet at ~14:00. Due to cloud cover bomb release point was based on GEE and Master Bomber 'Square Mile'. Very little opposition. Results were not observed due to cloud cover. Bomber Command sent 328 bombers to three flying bomb sites. 6 Group's contribution was 99 aircraft. Two of the three flying bomb sites targeted were successfully attacked through broken cloud. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
July 5: Ops through for seventeen to again attack flying bomb sites at Biennais. Attack considered successful. Training flights underway all day. German information received today indicates ba F/O Robinson and muag Sgt Stainton reported missing are deceased. Ops scrubbed off and on all day and are now on for late tonight. Still lots of work to do on the kites. Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff time was from 00:59 to 01:37. The crews bombed at ~03:37 from 11,000 feet. The bombing was concentrated around the TI's and many crews reported seeing bomb bursts, large explosions and fires in the immediate vicinity of the markers. Defences were almost non-existent. All the planes were diverted to Mildenhall on return. 6 Group provided 99 planes of the 542 aircraft Bomber Command detailed to attack the flying bomb sites. Two flying bomb sites and storage facilities. All were successfully bombed. (BC-4; 6 Group-0)
July 6: Diverted planes returned to base. A dozen aircraft were sent to bomb the constructional works at Coquereaux. All aircraft were successful and returned to base safely. Kites got off at 1:30 in the morning and are to go again tonight at 6:30 and then again early in the morning. All OK. Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff was ~19:07. The crews bombed at ~21:35 from 12600 feet. Visibility was good with some thunderstorms over England on the return flight. Crews reported very good concentration of bomb bursts near the TI's with large explosions and heavy smoke. The opposition was a small amount of inaccurate flak. "Y" successfully jettisoned a bomb after it hung up during the bomb release over target. Bomber Command sent 551 aircraft against five V-weapon sites. 6 Group detailed 150 aircraft to the mission. Four were considered to be bombed successfully. (BC-1; 6 Group-0)
July 7: Seventeen aircraft detailed to assist army in area of Caen, France by bombing German troop concentrations. The attack was successful and all aircraft returned to base. Training flights continue. A number of aircrew members were screened. Ops on tonight and so am I. Weather is fair so they may go and none went on daylights. Got mail. Bomb loads were 9X1000 plus 4x500. Takeoff time was ~19:50. Two were did not takeoff due to blown tires. Spitfires covered the raid. The crews started bombing at 22:20 and were finished by 22:29. The altitude ranged from 7600 to 8000 feet. The weather was clear so the crews were able to see the bomb blasts around the TI's and bombed on them along with instructions from the Master Bomber. Many fires produced smoke that obscured some of the target area. The German defences consisted of slight to moderate heavy flak. This raid was an attack by 467 aircraft, 88 from 6 Group, in support of the 1st Canadian and 2nd British armies who were struggling to get through German fortified sites around Caen. Unfortunately, though the bombing was very accurate, the target had been changed to avoid bombing allied troops by any wayward bombs, the bombing did not aid the ground troops much. (BC-4; 6 Group-0)
July 8: Ops through for fourteen aircraft but these were scrubbed at 13:45. No training today. Both "A" and "L" blew a tire each on takeoff last night so we have two none starters and one abortive as we had only one spare. Am off today.
July 9: Stand down. Preparations were made for daylight ops tomorrow. Training ongoing today. A pretty easy day, no flying, but a possible chance of ops late tonight. Rained nearly all day but fair this evening.
July 10: Daylight ops were cancelled but ops on for tonight. Sixteen were readied but these ops were also cancelled. Training on all day. Ops scrubbed but still find quite a lot to do on the old kites especially.
July 11: Ops were again cancelled for today. Flight training all day. Ops on and off all day and finally scrubbed around 6 pm with everything in good shape and on the marshalling line.
July 12: Ops through for sixteen aircraft to attack an ammunition dump at Thiverny, Fance. All aircraft claimed to attack the target. Overcast skies made it difficult to immediately assess results. All returned to base. Training on for today. Marshalled at nearly 10 am but did not get off until 6 pm. We will have plenty of work tomorrow. Bomb loads for the planes were 8x1000 plus 5x500. Takeoff time was ~18:25. The crews were over target releasing their bombs at ~20:24. Bombing was from 12000 to 15500 feet. Clouds obscured most of the target so bombing was on TI's and GEE. Some crews were instructed by the Master Bomber to over shoot the aiming point in order to spread the bombing. The target was defended by moderate heavy flak fired in barrages bursting a height of 14000 to 16000 feet. Bomber Command sent 230 bombers, 99 from 6 Group, to four flying bomb sites. All the targets were bombed accurately. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
July 13: Ops and flight training was cancelled today. Quite a little work this time after ops. Busy all day but all are ready. Had to change a mag on "A". Ops on for the early hours and I am on.
July 14: Ops cancelled for today. Flight training underway. The Deputy High Commissioner of Canada, Sir Patrick Duff, HA Jones, Director of PR Air Ministry and Air Commodore CR Slemon from 6 Group HQ were visitors at the squadron today. Ops scrubbed and on again for tonight but then scrubbed.
July 15: Ops on for sixteen aircraft to attack a German supply dump at Nucourt, France. Training flights continued throughout the day. All returned to base. Ops supposed to be on again late tonight but I doubt if they will get off. Now have four kites "A","D", "C" and "J" and nine men. The bombers were loaded with 8x1000 plus 5x500. 23:32 was the approximate takeoff time. The attack was made from 5900 to 11800 feet at ~01:45. A layer of cloud about 9000 feet meant those crews bombing at lower levels were in clear conditions. Aircrews reported good concentrations of bomb bursts around the TI's with several explosions observed. The target was defended by light flak to 6000 feet and heavy flak bursting to 10000 feet. Searchlights were also used. The squadron's bombers were part of a force of 234, 6 Group provided 91, aircraft sent by Bomber Command to the flying bomb site at Bois-des Jardins and the support facility at Nucourt. Bombing was considered accurate. (BC-1; 6 Group-0)
July 16: Ops cancelled but flight training ongoing. They went last night and returned OK. Lots of work on "D" today, exhaust ring and cooler change. Ops scrubbed again tonight.
July 17: Preparations for an after midnight takeoff for seventeen aircraft in a dawn attack on Caen. Training flights were carried out today. Lots of work. No ops and lots of training on now. Ops maybe tonight. Went for a short bike ride with Cyce.
July 18: Two sets of ops were on for this day. One was a dawn attack and then a regular night raid. Ops to attack the steel works in Caen, France at dawn. Two were did not takeoff due to leaks. The rest bombed and returned safely. Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff time was ~03:20. Crews bombed at ~05:50 from 7000 to 8,500 feet. The attack appeared to be concentrated around TI's with adjustments made by the Master Bomber. Crews observed many large explosions and at times smoke obscured the TI's. The site was defended by heavy flak bursting to 10000 feet. "Z" had 5x500 bombs hang up over target that had to be manually jettisoned. "R", piloted by F/O Heron, collided with a Lancaster that was gaining altitude. "R" banked to port to try an avoid the collision but its wing cut the Lancaster's wing off around the outer engine. "R" was later hit by heavy flak damaging the upper turret and fuselage. The crew was able to bring the bomber back to base. Bomber Command sent 942 bombers, 6 Group contributed 98 planes, to bomb five German fortified villages in the Caen area prior to an assault "Operation Goodwood" by the British 2nd Army. Bomber Command dropped 5000 tons on the targets with good effect. The recipients of the bombing, the 16th Luftwaffe Field Division and 21st Panzer Division, suffered casualties and lost equipment. (BC-6; 6 Group-1) Ops through for fourteen aircraft to attack Wesseling. Training program continued today. One diverted on return. Lots and lots of work. Kites returned safely and are off again tonight. Changed fuel tank on "D". Lots of trouble on "C". Had to be on till takeoff last night. Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff time was ~22:12. The crews bombed the target ~01:15 in clear skies. Bombs were released from 10000 to 14,500 feet. The crews reported a good concentration of bombs with much smoke and many fires in the centre of the TI's. The fires were observed from 50 miles away on return flight. A little flak was reported although it was not effective. 6 Group provided 153 planes of the 194 that Bomber Command sent to Wesseling. The target was the synthetic oil plant at Wesseling. Due to good marking and accurate bombing the plant received substantial damage to a number of important buildings. (BC-1; 6 Group-1)
July 19: Stand down with training flights taking place all day. One aircrew flying LK803 "Z", crashed while training. All were killed: Pilot F/O Joplin, wop WO1 Minchin, muag Sgt Barnard, eng Sgt Shand and ag Sgt Kent. Lots of work. Ops were good last night. All returned. Ops scrubbed tonight but lots of training. B-Flight's "Z" crashed after a roll and spin during fighter affiliation over the drome perimeter just a few yards from me. All were killed.
July 20: Seventeen on ops to attack the construction works at Ferme-du-Forestel, France. All returned to base. Training flights continued today. Had one on bullseye last night. Got finished at 6 am. Now "A" has an inspection and two inner exhaust ring changes. Ops on tonight. "Z" crashed by a farm house yesterday and badly damaged the house but no one was hurt in the house. Bomb loads were 16x500. The planes left base about ~19:24 and bombed at ~21:40. Crews bombed from 10000 to 15500 feet through clear skies with some haze. The aircrews reported good concentration of bombs around the markers with fires, explosions and smoke. Small amount of heavy flak bursting to 15000 feet. This was an attack on flying bomb sites. Bomber Command detailed 369 aircraft to bomb six sites. 6 Group provided 99 planes to the effort. (BC-1; 6 Group-0)
July 21: On standby for night ops but these were eventually scrubbed. Went to town today and had a good lunch then went to the York Museum. Kites returned OK from last night's ops. Training today and tonight.
July 22: Ops were cancelled but training flights continued all day. No ops last night and none tonight. "D" in for 300 hour inspection, "C" in for 200 hour and "A" in for 250 hour. So not a lot to do.
July 23: Ops on and then cancelled. Flight training all day including two aircraft on bullseye. Funeral for four aircrew killed on July 19 flying accident took place at the Regional Cemetery, Harrogate. Ops on and I'm on. Also bullseye so I guess I will be working tonight.
July 24: Ops through for thirteen aircraft to bomb construction at Ferfey, France. One reported missing. Training flights were continued all day. Ops on and two, "A" and "D", on bullseye. Bomb loads were 13x500. The bombers took off at ~22:10 Only two bombed the target the remainder were instructed to abort their attack by the Master Bomber who gave the code "Apple Tart". The target was completely overcast to 8000 feet and the TI's were very scattered. MZ713 "U" is reported missing with pilot F/Lt Trickett, ba F/O Heron, nav F/L Knight, wop F/O Monk, muag Sgt Sutherland, ag Sgt Cushman, eng Sgt Walton, under gun Sgy Hebert. All the crew of "U" were killed when the aircraft crashed into the channel. This was another attack on a flying bomb site by 112 bombers. 6 Group provided all but a dozen of the aircraft for this mission. The others were from 8 Group Path Finders. (BC-1; 6 Group-1)
July 25: Ops for fifteen to bomb Stuttgart. "E" was an early return due to fuel transfer from overload tanks malfunctioning. On return aircraft were diverted. Kites on a long trip tonight, 2200 gallons of juice. Lots of work. Bomb loads were 9x500. Takeoff time was ~21:15. Clouds over the target to 8,000. The aircrews bombed from 9000 to 19,500 feet. Opposition was moderate heavy flak. Many explosions were noted by the crews and some could see fires from the attack over 100 miles away on their return trip. A number of crews noticed decoy fires. "V" had to orbit once over the target. "D" (LW388) was damaged by a heavy flak burst. "Y" (LW676), piloted by F/O Aldred, was attacked by a JU88. The rear gunner, F/Sgt Robinson, opened fire as he ordered a corkscrew to starboard, but three of the guns jammed. He continued firing with his single gun until all 80 rounds were used up. The enemy aircraft broke off the attack and went into a steep dive, caught fire and exploded on the ground. The enemy aircraft was claimed destroyed. All planes were diverted on return. One, MZ505 "X", piloted by P/O McKay, is reported missing. Bomber Command sent 412 bombers to Stuttgart. 6 Group contributed 175 aircraft to this raid. (BC-12; 6 Group-4)
July 26: Stand down. Training flights continued. A number of airmen were screened today after completing their tours of duty. Halifax "X" piloted by P/O McKay, reported as missing on last night's raid, landed at Plumetot, Normandy when it ran out of fuel. The crew has refeuled and returned to base today. A very busy day's work on all our kites but we are getting it cleared up slowly. Kites all returned safely.
July 27: Stand down. Training flights are continuing. Notice came through to ready seventeen aircraft for an early morning takeoff and daylight attack. The men were confined to base. These ops were later cancelled and replaced with ops for tomorrow night. Rained quite a bit last night and again this afternoon. Finished up most of our work on the kites so am just about ready for ops.
July 28: Ops on for seventeen to attack Hamburg. One did not takeoff due to engine trouble. One is reported missing. Wop WO1 Bourdat who was reported missing February 24/25, 1944, is a POW as reported by German authorities. Worked takeoff for ops. Lots of work. "A" didn't go. Hydraulic supposedly u/s but OK. Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff time was ~22:05. Aircrews bombed from 17000 to 19000 feet through broken cloud. Most of the bombs were observed to fall within the area of the TI's. Many explosions were seen by the crews. Heavy flak was at times intense. Searchlights were operating but with little effect due to clouds. "G", piloted by F/L Kalle, engaged a JU88 night fighter with machine gun fire with no results observed. "G" also had to feather the port inner engine after leaving the target area. LW388 "D", piloted by P/O Beairsto, was also attacked by a JU88 night fighter. The rear gunner, Sgt Adams, noticed the enemy aircraft at 300 yards and ordered corkscrew to port. He and the upper gunner, Sgt Dennis, exchanged fire with the fighter until at 100 yards the fighter broke away and was not seen again. One aircraft, MZ645 "N" is missing (Pilot F/L Zavitz, ba F/O Hubbard, nav F/O Smithe, wop Sgt Unger, muag F/Sgt Wintmute, ag F/S Novack, eng Sgt Crackwell, and under gun Sgt Batt.) "N" was shot down by a night fighter. F/O Smith, F/Sgt Winemute and F/Sgt Batt survived the crash to become POW's. Bomber Command attacked Hamburg with 307 bombers. Three-quarters of the bombers, 234 aircraft, were from 6 Group. Fighters attacked the bomber stream on its return flight causing most of the casualties. In particular, of the seventeen detailed by 431 Squadron for the raid five were lost. The raid was not successful as most of the bombs fell into areas of the city that had been destroyed by attacks in 1943. (BC-22; 6 Group-22)
July 29: Squadron on stand by for ops all day. These were later scheduled for early the next day. Flight training continued through the day. B-flight lost "N" last night. Ours returned OK. "D" got cannon fire through a prop blade. Rained on and off all day. Ops on and off all day. Now set for early tomorrow. No mail.
July 30: Ops through for fifteen aircraft to attack Amy-Sur-Seulles, France. All reported to have bombed the target. Three crews landed away from base on return. One, NA 528 "G", piloted by F/L Kalle, crash landed at ATS HQ, White Waltham when it overshot the runway and burned. All the crew were injured except the muag. Wop F/Sgt Cusack later died from his injuries. A number of aircrew were screened after completing their first tour. Wop P/O Lefurgey was screened after completing his second tour. Night training flights were cancelled. Kites all returned OK. "G" crashed down south. One killed the rest in hospital. "C" and "Y" were missing but had diverted and showed up this morning. On for early morning ops again. Bomb loads were 16x500. The bombers took off from base ~05:40 and were over target by ~07:50. The crews dropped their bombs from 1900 to 3300 feet on markers and from instructions by the Master Bomber. The crews observed good concentration of bomb bursts in the target area and lots of smoke. Bomber Command sent 692 bombers to attack targets of German strength in advance of American troops in the Normandy battle area. To these missions 6 Group contributed 99 aircraft. Cloud cover resulted in only two targets of six being bombed and these were not very effective. (BC-4; 6 Group-0)
July 31: Ops through for thirteen aircraft to bomb the construction at Oeuf-en-Ternois, France. Two returned early. Seven diverted to other bases and four landed at base after the misson. Training on for today. Ops tonight and I am on. No times yet this morning so it is a late due. Weather fair. No mail. Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff 21:50. Crews released their bombs over target at ~00:07 from 12000 to 13000 feet through thick cloud. Crews bombed on TI's and instructions from Master Bomber. Many saw large explosions through the clouds. Opposition was a little heavy flak. "S" was an early return when the pilot, F/O Kidd, could not get the aircraft to climb above 5000 feet. The crew jettisoned the bombs and returned to base. "C" also returned early because the undercarriage would not retract. Bomber Command sent 202 bombers to attack two flying bomb launching sites and associated storage facilities. 6 Group contributed 76 to the effort. Only one site was significantly damaged. (BC-2; 6 Group-1)
August 1, 1944: Stand down. Training continued. Kites retuned OK but "E" and "K" diverted. Several hydraulic snags. "C" returned early as they could not get their wheels up. Am off now for 3 hours. Pay parade tonight.
August 2: Ops for the squadron were cancelled. A number of new crews arrived at the squadron. Some aircrew were screened after completing their tours. (Included in this group was P/O pilot Russell McKay who wrote "One of the Many" about his experiences flying with 420 Squadron and as an instructor.) Went to town today on my day off. Had breakfast of ham and chips. Saw the show "The Lonesome Pine" again after seeing it about 10 years ago. Got home about 10:30.
August 3: Ops through for nineteen aircraft to Foret de Nieppe. All bombed target and returned safely. Training ongoing. Ops on. We sent ten off early between 6 and 7 pm. Lots of work on "K", "J", "A" and "C" but got them off. Kites are all back now. Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff was ~18:30. Seventeen reportedly attacked the target from 13000 to 16000 feet. Bombs were released ~20:08. The crews reported good concentration of bombs but there was a great deal of smoke over the target obscuring the aiming points. The crew of "N" made three attempts to bomb but the aiming point and TI's could not be seen so they jettisoned their bomb load. "S" was unable to bomb as the bombs would not release. So they had to return to base with a full bomb load. Bomber Command launched a major attack of 1114 aircraft against flying bomb storage facilities in the areas of Bois de Cassan, Foret de Nieppe and Trossy-St-Maxim. 6 Group's contribution was 261 aircraft. Bombing of all targets was under clear skies and considered successful. (BC-6; 6 Group-0)
August 4: Fifteen on ops to attack Bois de Cassan. All attacked and returned safely. Training continued today. Pilot WO2 McAdam was awarded an immediate DFC. All kites returned safely. "C" was on three engines so didn't go again with the rest of them at 10 am. The kites are to return this afternoon. Worked on "C" on lead change. Parcel in the mail. Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff was ~10:45. The target was attacked at ~13:05 from 13000 to 15000 feet. Crews considered the attack successful with the TI's concentrated and accurate bombing on them. Some crews observed a very large explosion with lots of smoke over the target. Bombing instructions effectively given by the Master Bomber. Heavy flak fired in barrages was intense at times. Bomber Command attacked flying bomb storage depots again with 291 bombers Bois de Cassan and Trossy-St-Maxim. Almost three quarters of the aircraft, 211, were from 6 Group. (BC-2; 6 Group-2)
August 5: Twenty-one aircraft were detailed to attack St Leu D'Esserent. One, "L", returned early because of an hydraulic malfunction but the rest attacked the target. Flight training continued today. The funeral for wop F/Sgt Cusack, who died from injuries sustained in the crash of "G" on July 30, was held at Botley, Oxford with his parents in attendance. Got eleven off this morning. "L" returned early. "K", "J" and "F" hit with flak but no one was hurt. "L" and "A" on training tonight. Ops may be on tomorrow. Bombers were loaded with 9x1000 plus 4x500. Takeoff time was ~10:32. The crews dropped their bomb loads ~13:15 from 13000 to 17000 feet. The attack was made through broken cloud. Initial bombing appeared to be overshooting the aiming point. This was corrected by the Master Bomber and later bomb runs were concentrated around the TI's. Crews observed many bomb bursts and reported heavy smoke coming from the target area. Heavy flak was moderate and relatively accurate which possibly caused some scattering of the bombs. "A" had one bomb hung up which the crew was later able to jettison. "H" was hit by flak shrapnel. The flying bomb storage areas around Foret de Nieppe and St-Leu-d' Esserent were attacked by 742 bombers from Bomber Command. 6 Group provided 248 aircraft. (BC-1; 6 Group-1)
August 6: Stand down. Normal flight training continued. A number of new crews arrived from training units. No ops. Lots of training again with five new aircrews to train. Chosen for special parade and went to Linton-on-Ouse for a practice.
August 7: Ops through for twenty aircraft to attack LaHogue (Totalire "2"). All took off but only six bombed the target. Training continued again today. Bomb aimer Sgt Ranson was awarded an immediate DFM. Ops on tonight, all we have. "C" caught on fire during a run up. Weather fairly foggy lately. Bomb loads were 9x1000 plus 4x500. Takeoff time was ~21:00. All the bombers reached the primary target. Six bombed on TI's. But the TI's became obscured forcing the Master Bomber to use the abort code "Marmalade" resulting in the rest of the aircrews to abort the attack. Defences were very slight. Eighteen bombers were diverted to other bases, most were still carrying full bomb loads. One, "K" crashed on landing at the diversion base. Bomber Command sent a large contingent of 1019 bombers to attack five German targets in support of the advancing of ground troops. The master bomber only used bombs from 660 bombers. Over one third of the the force, 235 aircraft, was from 6 Group. The attacks were successful. (BC-10; 6 Group-1)
August 8: Diverted aircraft returned to base. Ops came through for sixteen to bomb Foret De Chantilly. All bombed target and returned to base. Routine flight training continued. Kites brought back their loads last night (By order just as they were about to drop them.) "K" pranged on landing. Kites are already returning this evening from tonight's ops. Bomb loads were 16x500 or 4x500 plus 9x1000. Takeoff time was ~18:30. The attack was made ~21:10 from 15000 to 17000 feet. TI's were accurate and bombs were concentrated around them. One very large explosion from the target area was witnessed. Some fires and smoke seen from 75 miles away after leaving the target. Heavy flak fired in barrages damaged some of the planes. Bomber Command sent 202 bombers to the oil storage facility at Foret Chantilly. Almost the entire force, 191 aircraft, was provided by 6 Group. Fires observed by aircrews. (BC-1; 6 Group-0)
August 9: Ops for twenty aircraft to attack Foret de Nieppe. All bombed the target and returned safely. Flight training on going. Nine off tonight. Ward's last trip and Shag went with him. Had plenty of work on the marshalling lines. One engine on "C" caught fire yesterday on a ground run up. The bomb loads consisted of 6x1000, 3x1000 and 4x500. Takeoff time was ~22:20. The crews bombed from 10000 to 13000 feet at ~00:18. Bombing on red TI's was somewhat scattered but when green TI's were dropped the bombing concentration improved. Many small explosions were observed and one gigantic one that started a large fire. No real significant opposition. Attack was considered very successful. Bomber Command sent the squadron's bombers to attack four flying bomb sites and storage dumps in the area of Fort-d'Englos. 6 Group provided 165 aircraft of the 311 detailed by Bomber Command. All the sites were bombed. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
August 10: Ops on for fourteen to bomb La Pallice, France. "A" was an early return with an u/s engine. Routine training continued. A large number of aircrew members were screend today after completing their first tour of duty. Quite a lot of work and ops as well. Weather fair. Had to weld the exhaust ring on "A"'s port outer. The parade for George and his missus is tomorrow. Bomb loads consisted of 15X1000 or 4x500 plus 11x500. Takeoff was ~1920. The crews bombed from 9500 to 11000 feet. Small fires and explosions were observed by the crews as a result of the bombing. The attack was considered reasonably successful. Opposition was moderate with very little heavy flak seen. Some crews reported the Master Bomber's commentary was being jammed. "G" had one 500 lb bomb hang up but the crew was able to jettison it after leaving the target area. Bomber Command sent 215 bombers to destroy the oil storage tanks at Bordeaux and La Pallice. 6 Group's contribution was 138 aircraft. The raids were successful. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
August 11: Not on ops for today. A number of airmen received their medals from King George at Linton today. Sixty men from the squadron from all ranks and sections were present at Linton. All kites returned safely. "A" was an early return due to engine trouble. Went to Linton on the King's parade. Saw them both and the oldest princess. The Queen is lovely. King gave out lots of medals to aircrew.
August 12: Daylight ops for fifteen aircraft to bomb Foret de Montrichard. All attacked the primary target with good results. The squadron was then detailed to ready ten aircraft for an attack on Falaise. Routine training also continued. Seven kites off on ops before dinner and returned OK excepting "M" in B-Flight whose nav (P/O Axford) got killed by flak. A Stirling crashed a mile away and burst into flames all were lost. Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff time was ~10:57. The crews bombed from 15500 to 17000 feet at ~14:00. The crews reported the bombing of Foret de Montrichard was well concentrated around the TI's with lots of fires burning and smoke. "A" and "V" reported bomb hang ups. The nav, P/O Axford, of W/C McKenna's aircraft "M", was killed by flak over the coast. The crew continued on and bombed the target before returning to base. The plane was holed in the nose. Bomb loads for the Falaise attack were 16x500. Takeoff was from 23:55 to 00:12. Bombing was at ~02:18 from 7000 to 8000 feet. Good concentration of bombs on TI's. A very large explosion was observed by some crews in the target area. Little in the way of opposition. One LW580 abandoned attack with two outer engines u/s. Bomber Command sent 117 bombers to the fuel storage at Foret de Montichard. 6 Group provided 104 aircraft to the raid. The attack left the target covered in smoke. (BC-0; 6 Group-0) The night time attacks for the squadron were as part of 144 bombers sent to attack German troops near Falaise. For this attack 6 Group contributed 48 aircraft. The attack was believed to be successful in disrupting the German troops and road transportation. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
August 13: No ops. Training continued. A number of crews were screened today. An air bomber sustained injuries when his bike crashed through an hedge. Ops again last night. We sent four with the spares. All returned OK. Had a little trouble with "J" and "A" but are again both ready for today.
August 14: Daylight ops through for seventeen aircraft to attack Tassilly. Two returned early due to u/s engine and u/s bomb site. Normal training excerises continued. A number of aircrew members were screened or posted today. Daylights today all returned safely. Daily inspections done tonight and ready to go again. Going on leave tomorrow and am going to try and get my pass tonight. Invasion of southern France by British, Americans and French troops. Bomb loads were a mix of 16x500 or 5x1000 and 8x500. Takeoff time was ~12:40. "L" had to turn back due to bomb sight and engine u/s. "R" also was an early return due to u/s starboard outer engine. Bombs were dropped over target from 8500 to 9000 feet at ~14:58. Bombing concentrated around TI's and instructions from Master Bomber. The crews saw a great deal of smoke around the target area rising to 5000 feet. The crews considered the attack successful with good visibility. The target was defended by only a little heavy flak. Bomber Command detailed 805 bombers to seven targets of German troop concentrations opposing the 3rd Canadian Division in the Falaise area. 6 Group's contribution was 225 aircraft. Target marking and bombing was accurate with good results. Unfortunately due to a mix up in colours the 12th Canadian Field Regiment released yellow smoke which was similar to the colour used by the pathfinders for marking the targets that day. As a result a number of bombers dropped their bombs on the smoke. The friendly fire incident resulted in over 60 casualties and a number of vehicles being destroyed or damaged. (BC-2; 6 Group-0)
August 15: Ops on for fifteen aircraft to attack Brussels Melbrook air field. Routine training continued. "X" overshot the primary target and bombed the air field at Louvain. All returned safely. Left for Gravesend on the 8:30 bus to York. Then the 10:15 train to King's Cross. Then to London Bridge and a train from #2 platform to Gravesend arriving at about 4:30. Saw lots of buzz bombs going just overhead and going off nearby. Bomb loads were 9x1000 plus 4x500. Takeoff time for the bombers was 09:40. The crews bombed from 13000 to 17500 feet at ~12:40. Very strong head winds, that were not forecast, caused the bombers to be late over target. Master Bomber was able to keep the bombs concentrated on target. Crews saw many bomb bursts in dispersal areas and on runways as well as fires and lots of smoke. The target was defended by moderate heavy flak fired in barrages. The flak caused some aircraft to take evasive actions. "D" had an engine u/s but was able to bomb the target. "G" and "H" received a few minor flak holes. Bomber Command sent over 1000 bombers to attack nine Luftwaffe airfields in Belgium and Holland that night fighters were known to operate from. 6 Group had 205 aircraft detailed for the attacks. The bombing was accurate and damaged all the targets. (BC-3; 6 Group-2)
August 16: Ops through for fifteen bombers to attack Kiel. Training continued. Nav P/O Axford was laid to rest at the Regional Cemetary, Harrogate today. Many from the squadron attended the funeral. One reported missing from ops. (Gravesend) My first day of leave and sirens going off every five minutes. Plenty of bombs all day. Bomb loads were 1x2000, 48x30 and 6 clusters #14 (Cap.C.6/10). Takeoff was ~21:18. Crews bombed from 17000 to 19500 feet at ~00:15. The bombs were dropped on red and green TI's laid down by the PFF. Many fires were started that could be seen 80 miles away. Smoke columns over the target reached 15000 feet. Searchlights were not effective. Slight to moderate heavy flak. "B" and "X" had bombs hang up. The plane, L?589 "N" piloted by F/O Kidd crashed into another bomber while returning from the target damaging the canopy, bent props of both port engines, and the starboard tailplane. F/O Kidd received cuts to his face which obscured his vision in the right eye and a broken right arm. He was able to land the plane at Carnaby air base without injury to his crew. One is missing: MZ687 "L" (pilot F/O Pritchard, 2nd Dickey P/O Davies, ba F/O Block, nav F/O Moffit, gun WO1 Surles, wop WO2 Lowens, ag F/Sgt Ronki, gun Sgt Boucock and eng Sgt Proud). All the crew of "L" died save eng EAJ Proud who became a POW. The squadron's bombers were part of a force of 348 bombers, 144 from 6 Group, sent by Bomber Command to attack Kiel. Although bombing was scattered the dock area received substantial damage. (BC-5; 6 Group-3)
August 17: Ops for the squadron were cancelled. Routine training continued. (Gravesend) Had a fairly quiet night but at daylight the buzz bombs came over every hour or less. Have seen several go down. One hit a balloon. Many are falling in open fields and villages.
August 18: Eighteen aircraft were detailed to attack Connantre rail yards. Some flight training was under taken. On return planes diverted to other bases. (Gravesend) Had a fairly quiet night but they started again early in the morning. Planes were loaded with 16x500 bombs. Takeoff time was ~20:32. The crews dropped their bombs at ~23:53 from 15000 to 18000 feet in clear weather. The attack was considered successful with good concentration of bombs around TI's. Aircrews reported seeing a number of explosions with resulting fires. LW392 "S" piloted by F/O McKeown was attacked by an ME210, which damaged the nose perspex and the underside of the fuselage. The fighter was first seen when it opened fire on the bomber from 400 yards. The pilot evaded with a corkscrew port and the rear gunner, Sgt Clifton and upper gunner, Sgt Anglin fired 260 rounds at the fighter. The fighter broke off the attack at 200 yards. NA579 "J", piloted by F/O Haslop, was attacked by a FW190. The rear gunner, Sgt Macdonald, spotted the fighter and ordered corkscrew port. The fighter fired a short burst at the bomber and then broke away. LI580 "U", had the hydraulics go u/s on return to England but landed safely. Bad weather over base caused all aircraft to be diverted. Bomber command sent 144 aircraft on this raid including 102 from 6 Group. The target was the railway yards at Connantre, France. Substantial damage was done to the railway. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
August 19: Stand down. No training. (Gravesend) Doodle bugs again this morning from 4 am to 7 am. Seem to be less during the day and night.
August 20: No ops today and all flying cancelled due to bad weather. Wop F/Sgt Brakes reported missing on the night of June 10, 1944 while flying in "E" was able to avoid being capture and made contact with the 2nd Army in France. He was able to return to England yesterday. A number of posting and arrivals of flight crews occurred today. (Riegate) Had more buzz bombs last night and several at 6:30 am. Several low and close by.
August 21: Stand down. Flight training on today. (Riegate) Plenty of doodle bugs going over and in the area. Some came over at 3 am.
August 22: Not on ops. Routine training today. Eng Sgt Binnis of "E" missing June 10, 1944 was able to connect up with the 2nd Army in France as well and returned to England August 20. (Riegate) Sirens nearly all night and doodle bugs. Got up at 6:30 and leaving on the 8 am train for Kings Cross. Arrived in York at 2 pm. Got to camp at 5:30. Mail waiting for me. All my kites are on inspection so will have it easy I guess.
August 23: Not on ops for today. Normal flight training program undertaken. Postings to and from the squadron continued. Not much doing. Wrote letters. "A" came out this afternoon so will have a good go at it in the morning. Paris fell today. Was taken by the French patriots. Torchy and his crew were lost in "L" while I was on leave.
August 24: Ops through for ten aircraft but this requirement was scrubbed. Training flights continued. Still not very much doing. "A" came back on three from training. Just a bolt gone in the layshaft. Ops on but scrubbed. So a pretty fair day off.
August 25: Ops on for sixteen aircraft to Brest. Flight training ongoing today. All diverted on return. Day off so went to town. Had several meals. Saw a show and came home. Ops on tonight seven took off from our flight. Bomb loads consisted of 9x1000 plus 4x500. Takeoff time was ~21:30. The crews bombed at ~01:05 from 12500 to 13000 feet. Attack was successful with many bombs concentrated around the TI's and adjusted as the attack progressed by the Master Bomber's instructions. "H" and "O" had bombs hang up. Crews observed many bomb blasts, explosions and fires in the target area. Very little defensive activity was seen. LW395 "P" was slightly damaged by flak. Bad weather caused all the bombers to use diversion bases. Bomber Command sent the squadron's bombers, along with 334 others, to bomb various areas within Brest. 6 Group provided 113 aircraft to the attack.The objective was the coastal guns there. The bombing was considered successful. (BC-2; 6 Group-0)
August 26: Ops were scrubbed today as was flight training. Diverted aircraft returned to base. A number of aircrew were screened today. All returned safely. Very foggy the kites did not return until 3 pm. Campbell and Fenton finished last night and are sure very happy about it. Ops are on again tonight but they were later scrubbed. Put the engine back in Dorres car and got in running. Now in the news it says fighting has broken out again in Paris.
August 27: Sixteen were sent to bomb construction at Marquise/Mimoyecques. More aircrews were screened today. One did not takeoff. All the rest bombed target and returned. Ops on tonight and all got off except "C". The radar altimeter was hooked up wrong. Rained a little today and this evening. Pulled the nose off the starboard inner and put in a new casket and it seems OK. Kites are returning now, 10:30. The bombers were carrying a mix of 16x500 or 2x1000 plus 13x500 bomb loads. The planes took off at ~18:25 and were bombing the target by ~20:15. The crews bombed from an altitude of 16500 to 18000 feet. All bombed the target on TI's. Target marking was concentrated as were bombs. Many fires and explosions noted by the crews. "U" had all but one bomb hang up but was able to jettison bombs on the return flight. Bomber Command sent 226 aircraft, including 200 from 6 Group, to attack a flying bomb site near Mimoyecques. The raid was successful. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
August 28: Ops were on for nine aircraft to attack two targets. Three were sent to Anerbelck and six to attack Isle de Cezembre All were sucessful in bombing the respective targets. Kites returned OK from last night's ops and are off again tonight. Raining off and on all day. No mail. The planes attacking Anerbelck used 7x250 plus 9x500 bomb loads. The planes took off ~18:16. One, NA594 "W" piloted by F/Sgt Reid was hit by flak seriously injuring the bomb aimer, F/O Kernaghan. The flak also damaged the bomb bay doors as they would not open so the crew had to bring the bomb load back with them. The other two bombers attacked the target from 14000 feet at ~19:57 with the crews reporting good results. The six bombers attacking Isle de Cezembre were bombed up with 9x1000 plus 4x500. They took off at ~18:40 and bombed the target at 21:10 from 12800 to 13000 feet. Crews reported good concentration of bomb bursts near TI's although some bombs were seen to fall in the water. A large explosion was noted by many crews. Flying bomb sites in the Pas de Calais area were targeted by 150 bombers. 6 Group contributed 77 planes to the attacks. Twelve sites in all were successfully attacked. This was the last night of raids on flying bomb sites in this area as the allied troops overran the area a few days later. (BC-1; 6 Group-0)
August 29: Posting of air men continues. Flight training ongoing. Kites returned OK last night. Quite a bit of work on them today. But are OK now. No ops tonight just training so I hope it is all cancelled. Pay parade tonight and I am going as I missed the last one while I was on leave. Going to write some letters tonight.
August 30: Stand down. Training today. No ops at all tonight. Weather getting rather chilly. Rumours we will be moving soon.
August 31: Daylight ops for fifteen to attack Isle de Cezembre again. All reached the primary target and returned safely. Ops on for 10 this morning. All returned OK. Went to a wee island near Brest. A cloudy day and weather fairly chilly. Letter from home. The bombers were loaded with 9x1000 plus 4x500. Takeoff was ~10:15 although "A" took off later at 10:56. The attack occurred ~13:08 from low altitude of 1700 to 3000 feet. The bombing was concentrated on the southwest tip of the island. No defences noted. Crews reported the island being engulfed in smoke at times. The squadron's Halifaxes were part of 165 that went to bomb coastal guns at Ile de Cezembre. 6 Group provided 23 of the bombers. Bombing was from 3000 feet resulting in success. (BC-1; 6 Group-0)
September 1, 1944: Ops were cancelled due to bad weather but training flights continued including figther affiliation, air to sea gunnery and cross countries. Quite a busy day with lots to do. I am working tonight. Ops were on for awhile and then off so we don't know what to do. The weather does not look good.
September 2: Ops were again cancelled today but training continued. Had a lot of work to do last night. All flying was scrubbed for awhile. "H" finally went on a cross-country at 8 pm arriving back at 12:30. We had to put an exhaust stub on while it was raining. Finished about 4:30 in the morning. So left five kites uncovered and there was plenty of trouble in the morning.
September 3: Ops on for fifteen bombers to attack the airfield at Volkel in Holland. Crews considered it a good attack with many fires seen in and around the airfield. Due to bad weather at base all were diverted including thirteen to Little Snoring. Today the war has entered its fifth year so we have hopes it will not see another. All kites on ops. Had lots of trouble with "C", water in mags. Mic Kaden went on his last trip. Jim Christie is working again tonight. So we should team up again for our next night on. Bomb loads consisted of 9x1000 plus 4x500. Takeoff ~15:30. The crews bombed through broken cloud from 12000 to 15000 feet at ~17:37. Most crews were able to bomb visually on runways and buildings. The crews generally thought it was a good mission. "B" piloted by F/O Beairsto was late over target and could not see bombing point so returned with bomb load. "B" also received some minor flak damage. "S" had one bomb hang up. Bomber Command sent 675 aircraft to attack six German air bases in Holland. All of 6 Group's 105 bombers were sent to Volkel. All attacks appeared to be successful. (BC-4; 6 Group-0)
September 4: No ops for today. Diverted bombers returned to base. Cross-country flight training for two aircrews. All kites returned safely to a diversion base. So Mic is now finished his first tour. We did hardly anything all day. Kites still away. Got mail today.
September 5: Stand down. Remaining diverted aircraft returned to base. Some flight training carried out. Weather rainy and chilly. Kites returned this afternoon except "G" and "H". Mic returned in "C" happy at this his last landing of his first tour. Starter change on "A" and it is now ready. Lots of rain.
September 6: Ops through for fifteen aircraft to attack Emden, Germany. Crews reported successful concentrated attacks with fires observed in the dock areas. All returned to base. Some air flight training carried out. Weather rainy and chilly. "G" and "H" returned late last night. Kites all ready for early this morning. We were called out at 3 am but did not go. Ready again for 11 am but still didn't go. Went at 4 pm. All ours went except "G" and "H". 425 Squadron didn't go at all. Kites are to return about 9 pm. Bomb loads were 1x2000, 636x4 inc plus 48x30 inc. Takeoff time ~16:20. Crews bombed from 18000 to 18500 feet at ~18:34. Crews reported most of the bombs falling on TI's with adjustments made by Master Bomber. Many reported fires and smoke billowing from explosions to 7000 feet. Some observed fires from the attack from 50 miles away. "X" was damaged by flak on the nose perspex. The squadron's bombers were part of a force of 181 sent to Emden. 6 Group contributed three quarters, 139 aircraft, to the raid. On this trip the bombers were covered by Spitfires and Mustangs. The city was attacked successfully. This turned out to be the last bombing of Emden during the war. (BC-1; 6 Group-0)
September 7: Ops scrubbed today. Ten on cross country training. S/Ldr Kruger was awarded an immediate DFC to go with his DFM. F/Sgt Robinson was awarded DFM. Weather poor. Ops scrubbed. Have work to do on "Y". Had a layshaft bracket break on "A". Jim Christie and myself are on all night.
September 8: Ops again cancelled for today. Flight training continued. Worked until midnight. Now "Y" needs a new distributor block so left it for Don. It rained nearly all night.
September 9: Ops through for fifteen to attack LeHavre. One did not takeoff. Others reached target but due to poor visibility returned with their bomb loads. Cross country training continued. Went on early ops this morning at 5:30. All kites returned and brought back their bombs as the target was 10/10's cloud. Had a bit of trouble with "C" and don't think it is still right. Got mail from home. Several kites on training tonight. Bomber Command sent 272 bombers to Le Havre. 6 Group provided 104 aircraft to this raid. The Master Bomber cancelled the attack due to cloud cover without any bombers dropping their bombs. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
September 10: Ops on for twenty bombers to make a daylight raid on Le Havre. Crews reported the attack was successful with large fires seen in the target area. Training continued. One aircraft on training had to return early due to a severed oil line. The boys, Nip and Squeak, returned from leave so we now have 10 men for our four kites. They went on ops at 3 pm returning at around 7 pm so we had daily inspections to do. Had quite a bit of trouble with "A", "C" and "J" so it was after midnight before we finished with "J". They are ready for the morning again. Weather pretty fair today. Planes were loaded with 9x1000 and 4x500. Takeoff time ~14:18. Bombed target at ~16:30 from 9500 to 10500 feet. Crews reported a very good attack with explosions and smoke rising to 10000 feet. "C", "E", "Z" and "Y" had bombs hang up which had to be brought back to base. Bomber Command sent 992 bombers to the Le Havre area to bomb eight German held centers. 6 Group had 207 detailed to this raid. Bombing was accurate with good concentrations and results. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
September 11: Daylight ops for fifteen to attack Castrop-Rauxel synthetic oil plant. Crews reported a successful attack with good visibility over target area until smoke from bombs and fires obscured the target. All attacked and returned safely. CO of 420 W/C McKenna went on leave and was replaced by S/Ldr Krugger. Cross-country training continued. Army officers visited the squadron to assist in liaison duties with the army. Weather pretty fair. Kites went off at 4 pm and will be back around 9 pm and no daily inspections I hope. Got four parcels in the mail today!! Lots of grub and a birthday cake from home. A kite crashed into the maintenance yard at Linton after overshooting the runway. Killed four of the aircrew and three ground crew travelling in a vehicle. Bomb loads consisted of 16x500. Take of time ~16:17. The bombs were dropped ~18:45 from 17500 to 18000 in clear conditions. The crews considered the attack accurate on TI's with adjustments made by the Master Bomber. Large explosions and a great deal of smoke billowing from the target to 10000 feet. Fires observed up to 30 miles from target. "D" and "I" had bombs hang up. Two or three crews were seen to bomb Dortmund. "V" was damaged by flak. "Q" was hit by flak on bomb run damaging the main circuitry so the bombs would not release. The crew jettisoned the bombs manually. Bomber Command sent 379 to attack three oil plants at Gelenkirchen, Kamen and Castrop-Rauxel. 6 Group provided 105 aircraft to attack Castrop-Rauxel. A smoke screen obscured the first target making accurate bombing difficult. The latter two targets were attacked under good visibility with good results. The bombers were escorted by twenty-six fighter squadrons. (BC-1; 6 Group-0)
September 12: Ops through for sixteen to make a daylight attack on Wanne Eikel. Crews observed large fires and smoke to 10000 feet. Attack was concentrated and considered successful. Almost all the bombers received some flak damage but all returned safely to base with no casualties. Training flights continued. A number of aircrew members were screened. F/L Plummer assigned to command A-Flight with F/L Ainslie as Deputy Flight Commander. F/L Motherwell became the Deputy Flight Commander of B-Flight. Kites went off again today after returning last night about 10 pm. "C" had the starboard aerilon changed and two exhaust stubs to change but it got away OK. Sent eleven kites. All returned by 6 pm and we got the daily inspections done so they are ready for morning. Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff time was ~11:15. Crews bombed the target at ~14:03 from 18000 to 19500 in clear weather. Crews reported many large explosions and fires. Smoke rising to 10000 feet. The crews felt it was a good raid with bombs concentrated around TI's and good instructions from Master Bomber. "I" had one bomb hang up and brought it back to base. A number of crews "ran into" heavy flak rising to 17000 feet over target. "O" piloted by F/O Caine was hit by predicted flak just prior to target and had to jettison bombs after evasive actions taken. The gunner was slightly injured and suffering from shock. Bomber Command sent 412 bombers to attack oil plants at Dortmund, Scholven/Buer and Wanne-Eickel. 6 Group sent 107 aircraft to Wanne Eikel. The latter two targets were obscured by smoke screens. All the attacks were considered successful. (BC-4; 6 Group-1)
September 13: Ops through for eighteen to make a daylight attack on Osnabruck. Four aircraft, "I", "J", "W" and "Q" did not takeoff because they could not be bombed up in time for takeoff. The rest bombed the target with the crews reporting good accurate bombing resulting in many fires and lots of smoke. One landed at East Anglia due to a flak injury to the under gunner, F/S Spilloway. Routine flight training continued. More aircrew members were screened today. All the kites returned safely. "E" blew a tire just after landing so that held up some. This afternoon's trip makes the third trip over happy valley in three days. Weather pretty fair. Got mail. Bomb loads consisted of 1x2000, 11 clusters No 14 MK 1C6/10 capsule or 1x2000, 3x1000 and 4x500 or 9x1000 and 4x500. Takeoff time was ~16:10. Fighters flew cover during the attack. The crews bombed at ~18:32 from 16,500 to 19500. The visibility was good enough for the crews to bomb visually as well as with the aid of TI's. Crews reported good concentration of bombs with many fires and a great deal of smoke. Smoke was observed 110 miles from the target. "C" had one bomb hang up over the target but the crew was able to jettison it on the return flight. Many bombers experienced flak. "X" ran out of fuel and landed at Backheath with some flak damage and its rear gunner F/S Spilloway was injured. "P" was damaged by flak in the inner starboard engine. Bomber Command sent over 100 bombers to attack the rail line at the town of Osnabruck. All but twenty were from 6 Group. Bombing seemed to be accurate but no results were confirmed. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
September 14: Ops not on today for squadron. Routine flight training. More air crew members screened. Worked until 3 am this morning. Slept until nearly 4 pm. No ops just training.
September 15: Ops on for seventeen to attack Kiel tonight. "B" was an early return due to hydraulic problems with the undercarriage. Crews reported the bombing was scattered although many fires observed. Normal flight training continued. Fourteen Lancs from 428 "Ghost" Squadron were diverted here and are going on ops with ours tonight. It is a late takeoff and a long trip. My four are in good shape. I hope they get off OK. My 27th birthday today. Bomb loads were 1x2000, 960x4, 120x4 X (phosphorus). Takeoff time ~22:00. The crews attacked ~01:29 from 19500 to 21000 feet. The visibility was good. Crews reported good bombing concentration on TI's. Fires and smoke seen in the target area. Some crews reported fires visible from 50 miles and heavy smoke visible 100 miles from target. Some crews noted many aircraft with navigation lights on after leaving England. "E" piloted by F/Sgt Tease was hit by heavy flak over target at 19500 feet. "W" piloted by F/L Motherwell ditched at 04:00 on return leg of mission after a major hydraulic failure caused under carriage, flaps and bomb doors to all come down on return flight. Sent out emergency message just prior to ditching with location. The rear gunner of "Q" saw an ME210 250 yards off starboard and opened fire on it as it closed in on the bomber. Nothing claimed. Bomber Command sent 490 bombers to Kiel. 6 Group's contribution was 201 to the total. The attack was very successful with good concentration of bombs in the center of the town. (BC-6; 6 Group-2)
September 16: Two aircraft, "P" and "X" were sent out in search of the ditched aircrew. The aircrew was spotted in a dinghy approximately 70 miles off the coast at 17:27. The crew was picked up by a rescue launch about 20:00 and transported to the Great Yarmouth Naval Barracks. All eight crew members were safe. Routine flight training carried out. A number of aircrew members were screened from active duty today. All kites returned OK. "W" in B-flight went down in the channel. Crew safe at Notherwell. "C" and "D" and a few others with flak holes. Two of the Lancs couldn't get off last night. Changed an exhaust ring on "C" and so pulled and put on my first prop. Anyway "C" is OK.
September 17: Sixteen on ops to bomb Boulogne. Crews reported good accuracy bombing on red TI's. Normal flight training of crews continued. Ops again before dinner so they returned in plenty of time for daily inspections before supper. All returned safely enough. Worked all night and had two on bullseye. We got finished about 12:30 am. Bomb loads were 4x500 and 9x1000. Takeoff ~10:55. Crews attacked at ~12:40 from 1900 to 3000 feet under cloud layer. Very good concentration of bombs. "H" was unable to identify target and aborted mission. German troop placements in the area of Boulogne was the target for 762 bombers. 6 Group provided 210 aircraft to the attack. This raid was in aid of subsequent advances by the ground troops. (BC-2; 6 Group-1)
September 18: No ops. Training flights continued. My day off but went out and helped Bill Platt pull a prop and put in new oil seals. Was back in the billet by 11 am for a nap.
September 19: Ops were scrubbed today. Training flight ongoing. Still on 24 hour stand by. Several NA kites. 428's Lancs with Merlins and about fourteen WL kites with Hercs we had to do daily inspections and send them off at 2 pm. Our kites are supposed to go tomorrow. No mail. Jim Christie's third came through today.
September 20: Bad weather cancelled all flying. All squadron personnel assigned to clean up their living quarters and work areas. Just heard an auction sale of racing colts over the radio from somewhere in England. One sold for 9,300 guineas and another for 17,000 guineas. This country is nuts! Nothing doing today. It rained nearly all morning.
September 21: Not on ops. Flight training undertaken. Lectures on new flying procedures given to air crews. Still very dull and no ops just some training. We did not even uncover the kites today. But will have to run up in the morning. No mail. A lot of spit and polish orders coming out now so I am thinking we are due for a move or something.
September 22: No ops. Lectures were given on Air Sea Rescue, Navigation, and Intelligence. Still no ops today. Ran all my kites this morning and they were OK. Training was on but then scrubbed. Got finished by 5 pm. May go to town in the morning if the weather is OK. No mail.
September 23: Ops were scrubbed. Flight training continued including dinghy drills. Day off today. Caught the 8 am bus to York and had a swell breakfast at Ma's. Walked around the town and bought fruit at the market. Had dinner at Ma's. Went with Russ and saw Broadway Rhythm. Then we came home on the 5:30.
September 24: Not on ops. Routine flight training. Still raining this morning. Nothing doing.
September 25: Ops through for twenty, twelve were from A-Flight, to bomb Calais. The target was difficult to identify and many crews had to orbit. The bombing was reasonably concentrated and the crews believed it to be successful. Flight training ongoing. All returned safely. An early call this morning at 6 and we had eleven off on ops before 10:00. All returned safely just after dinner and we now have them ready for the morning. There are nine on for the morning and ours are on again. Rained again this afternoon late. Bombloads 9x1000 plus 4x500. Takeoff time was ~09:28. Crews attacked at ~11:11. Bombing altitude was between 3000 and 6000 feet under clouds. Bombing was concentrated on TI's and adjusted by Master Bomber's instructions. Crews saw many fires and lots of smoke. "O" had a bomb hang up but was able to jettison it on return flight. Calais was targeted by Bomber Command with 872 aircraft. 6 Group contributed with 253 aircraft. Only about one-third of the bombers were able to attack the objectives, which were German defensive positions, due to cloud. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
September 26: Sixteen, ten from A-Flight, to bomb the Calais area again. This time the targets were clearly seen by aircrews and bombing was accurate. Some crews observed explosions in two large buildings. The attack was thought to be very successful. All returned to base safely although one plane received flak damage. Flight training continued. A number of air crew members were screend. A 4 am call this morning and they finally got off about 9:00. "J" couldn't go and "C" stopped on takeoff for electrical trouble but are now OK. Another early morning due expected tomorrow morning. The bomb loads were 9x1000 plus 4x500. Takeoff time ~09:00. Crews attacked the target at ~10:20 from 6500 to 7500 feet. The crews were able to identify and bomb the target visually. TI's and Master Bomber also aided in pinpointing aiming points. The crews reported the attack was concentrated. "E", piloted by F/Sgt Tease, had the leading edge of the port wing damaged. "N" had a bomb hang up but the crew was able to jettison it. Bomber Command sent 191 bombers to the Calais area. Almost the planes, 164, came from 6 Group. The bombers were successful in attacking the targets with good concentration. (BC-2; 6 Group-0)
September 27: Maximum effort of twenty-two planes to make an attack on Bottrop. "H" and "B" returned early. Crews reported the attack was scattered due to bombing through 10/10's cloud. One very large explosion was witnessed that sent smoke up to 10000 feet and many saw bombs dropping in factory area. A number of planes received flak damage. The pilot of "F", F/Ldr Ainslie, and eng Sgt Gibbs were injured flak and the aircraft diverted to Woodbridge on return. Routine training continued. A meeting at of station and squadron Adjutants was held at 62 Base HQ. Had a call at 3 this morning and got 12 kites of by 7 am from A-Flight and five of them were mine. McCarthy's end had "H" and "B" return early. "F" got shot up and the flight engineer is hurt. Landed down south. "I" got hit in rear turret. "C" in for 300 inspection. Worked till 8 pm on "D" and now we are ready for the morning again. Weather fair by very windy. Bombloads consisted of 16x500. Takeoff time ~06:58. Crews bombed ~09:32 from 17500 feet. The target was completely covered by cloud with tops to 10000 feet. Most crews bombed on DRI as instructed by Master Bomber. TI's were seen late after most crews had already bombed. Crews reported seeing billowing black smoke through clouds but could not assess damage due to clouds. Some suggested an alternate target should have been bombed. Crews believe the attack was not successful. "I", piloted by F/Ldr Jones, received flak damage to the starboard elevator and fuselage. Bomber Command sent 175 aircraft to attack the Ruhroel A.G. synthetic oil plant near Bottrop.6 Group provided 142 of bombers detailed to this target. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
September 28: Nineteen on daylight ops to bomb Cap Gris Nez. Heavy ground haze over target area resulted in very inaccurate marking and the mission was scrubbed by Master Bomber. Six of the squadron's planes returned with their bombs. A fair day but windy. Lots of ops on for this p.m., 12 from us. I am on all night. Kites returned at 9 so now we have them to gas and oil. Bomb loads were made up of 9x1000 plus 4x500. Takeoff ~16:24. Bombs were dropped at ~18:00 from low level, between 2000 and 3000 feet, before Master Bomber instructed the bombers to abort the mission at 18:03 due to poor visibility and six crews brought their bombs back. "I" piloted by F/Ldr Jones diverted to Carnaby due to lack of brake pressure. This was another attack on the Calais area to "soften up" German defensive positions. Increasing cloud cover caused the Master Bomber to cancel most of the bombing. Only 198 bombed out of 300 aircraft. 6 Group had 252 bombers on the attack but only 162 bombed the target. Germans troops in the area surrendered soon after the raid to Canadian troops. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
September 29: Not on ops today. Routine training continued. A number of aircrew screenings today. Got finished at 3 am this morning. "I" landed away but is OK. All kites ready for D.I.'s in the morning. Got up at about 3 pm for supper. Looks like an early morning call again.
September 30: Eighteen detailed to attack Sterkrade Holten. One attacked the primary target resulting in two factory tanks on fire. The remaining crews were ordered to bomb alternate targets. Visibility at alternate target was poor but some explosions were observed by the crews. All returned safely. Flight training continued. An early morning call at 3 this morning. We got 10 off by 9 am. All returned safely and are ready for the morning again. Have only three kites now as "E" has gone to the other end and "D" is in for her starboard outer engine change. Bombload was 16x500. Takeoff was ~09:50. "L" attacked the primary target at 12:22 from 18000 feet through mostly cloudy skies on TI's. The bombaimer observed bombs falling directly on factory through break in clouds. The Master Bomber ordered crews to attack alternate target at 12:18 with code word "lollipop". All the other bombers from the squadron attacked the alternate target. Bombing occurred on DR run at ~12:22 from 16900 to 19500 feet. The target was almost completely obscured by clouds with tops from 8000 to 14000 feet. Crews were unable to observe any results through the clouds and reported the raid as very unsatisfactory. Bottrop was targeted by 136 aircraft but due to heavy cloud over the target most of the bombers dropped bombs on estimated locations. 6 group made up 108 of the force on this attack. (BC-1; 6 Group-1)
October 1: Squadron stand down. Routine flight training. Wet dinghy drill conducted at Linton-on-Ouse. No ops at all today but lots of training and formation flying etc. D.I.'s ready for this morning. Have a kit inspection coming up so maybe a long move is in sight again. Went to church tonight for the first time in a long time and it was very good and I like the speaker.
October 2: No ops on but training flights. Nothing doing except for formation flying and practise bombing this pm. Worked till 7 so will have a pretty nice day off tomorrow.
October 3: No ops. Formation training and cross-country flights. Ops for early tomorrow morning. Didn't get up till noon. Washed clothes and cleaned billet. Wrote some letters.
October 4: Early morning ops by fifteen aircraft to attack Bergen "B". Call 1 am, eating 1:30, Nav Brief 2:00, Pilot Brief 2:45, Main brief 3:00. Seven bombed the primary site and eight attacked the secondary target. Four diverted on return due to low fuel. Crews reported bombing in harbour scattered. One loud explosion and resulting fire and smoke observed. Aircraft came under fire from ships in harbour. All returned safely. An early morning call at 2:30 and we sent seven off by 5:30 on a long trip. Back at 12:30 from Norway. D.I.'s are done for the morning. Some training scheduled for tomorrow. We are to have kit inspection at 9:30 in the morning. Bomb loads consisted of 9x1000 plus 2x500. Takeoff was at ~05:32. Those bombing the primary target (aiming point B) bombed at ~09:35 in clear weather from 12000 feet. Target was identified visually and with TI's. Fires and explosions observed. Some bomb aimers reported seeing submarines. Alternate target (aiming point A) was attacked due to primary target obscured by smoke. Attack was made at ~09:24 from 12000 feet. Crews observed ships being hit by bombs as well as fires and explosions in the vicinity of submarine pens. Fires and smoke seen by some crews from 100 miles away. NA630 "N" and LL574 "R" had minor flak damage. Bomber Command sent 140 heavies to attack the Bergen, Norway, U boat pens. 6 Group's contribution was 128 aircraft. Although the bombers successfully bombed the pens the results were mixed. The pens roofs had been thickened so no bombs made it through but the electrical systems were damaged as were various buildings in the immediate vicinity of the pens including three ships. However, there was some scattered bombing beyond the target area causing damage to Bergen, in particular a school and a air raid shelter, resulting in about 200 civilian casualties. (BC-1; 6 Group-0)
October 5: Stand down. Kit inspection for all personnel. Wrote two letters. Got mail. 425's kites returned this afternoon from diversion in Scotland after the Norway ops.
October 6: An all out effort was required for an afternoon attack on Dortmund. Twenty-three took off. MZ540 "H", had engine trouble on way to target and aborted mission. Crews reported the attack as reasonably concentrated with many fires observed in target area. One large explosion and resulting fire observed. Likely an a large oil tank. All aircraft were diverted and landed safely. F/O Kidd and F/O Aldred were awarded DFC. Very foggy but ops on and a very long trip, over 2,000 lb fuel load. We got 11 off. Had to repair port inner of "A". Went to York. Had good meal and returned by 11 pm. Bomb loads were 13x500. Takeoff ~16:10. Crews attacked target in good visibility on TI's from 17000 to 20000 at ~20:35. Good concentration of bombs on accurate TI's with many explosions and fires observed. One explosion sent smoke up to 10000 feet. Defences were very light. Many Crews reported that many French towns and cities had lights on. NA632 "E" received minor damage. NA579 "J" had port engine go u/s just prior to target. NA509 had u/s engine and had to abort attacking primary target and instead dropped bombs somewhere in Germany. Lancasters were dropping bombs through the bombing stream below. Bomber Command attacked Dortmund with 523 aircraft. This was the largest raid of the war so far fo 6 Group. The group contributed 293 aircraft to the effort. The attack was considered very accurate and the city sustained severe damage to infra structure and housing. Over 600 casualties were reported. (BC-5; 6 Group-2)
October 7: Stand down. Aircraft returned from diverted airfields. Victory Loan Campaign meeting held with goal of $25000 hoped to be raised by the squadron. All kites returned safely to diversion base and returned here before dinner. All OK. "I" got a little flak. All kites ready again for the morning. I am working again tomorrow. No mail. Weather cloudy and misty rain.
October 8: Ops on then cancelled till next day. Training continued. A number of air crew men were screened. Ops on and off all day. Finally scrubbed. "F" was on dual. Ops may be early morning, but doubtful. Weather very misty and raining.
October 9: Ops through for fifteen to attack Bochum. One did not takeoff. Thirteen successfully attacked the primary target but one was hit by flak and had to jettison its bomb load. Crews could not assess results of attack although some explosions and fires seen. Night fighters encountered over target and on return flight. Flight training continued. Got four letters. Kites took off at about 5 and are due back at around 11. "J" blew a tire on takeoff and ran into a bowser. So we had three none starters with "W". Bombloads consisted of 16x500. Takeoff time was ~1710. Crews bombed in mostly cloudy skies at ~20:30 from 17500 to 20000 feet. Crews not sure if marking was accurate. Marking was concentrated though and explosions were reported. One crew felt night fighters were able to anticipate target. MZ505 "M" was attacked by an ME110 and two ME109's. The gun F/Sgt Willoughby and mugun Sgt Nelson fired upon the fighters. ???? observed an ME109 at 250 yards. The rear gunner Sgt Copeland and the under gunner Sgt Smallbridge fired upon the gunner while calling for corkscrew port. LL605 "K" had a bomb hang up. Some crews got off route due to night fighter evasions. Slight icing conditions occurred as climbing through clouds. MZ933 "P" piloted by F/O Cox was hit by flak just prior to target causing instrument malfunctions. They jettisoned bombs and returned. Bochum was the designated target for 435 aircraft from Bomber Command. 6 Group contributed 209 aircraft. Fortunately for Bochum it was cloud covered and bombing was not concentrated. Minimal damage to residences but about 150 people will killed. (BC-5; 6 Group-3)
October 10: Weather cancelled all flying. Ground training carried out. F/Ldr Plummer of A-Flight became acting squadron leader. Kites returned OK. A few minor snags this morning. None of our kites flew at all today as there were no ops on and it was foggy all day. Pay parade but I have a lot of money out so don't need a pay parade.
October 11: Not on ops. Number of air crew men screened. General cleaning of buildings and grounds undertaken by personnel. No ops, no training, but we had a lot of work on "J" and it still is funny. No mail. Weather is very poor raining off and on all day and now, this evening, it is very windy.
October 12: Early morning ops for fifteen to attack Wanne-Eickel. Two attacked an alternate target and the rest attacked the primary target. Two bombers attacking the alternate targets were both hit by flak. The bombers going to the primary target experienced head winds resulting in the bomber stream becoming scattered and the bombers arriving late in the target area. Crews reported bombing fairly concentrated in the target area. Routine training undetertaken. Vicotroy Loans reached $13250. An early call this morning at 4. Kites got away by 7:30 returning between 12 and 1. "J", "K", "I" and "H" got flak. Ops on again tonight but they were scrubbed. So I was extra glad as I was on. So a nice day off tomorrow. Bomb loads were 7x1000 plus 4x500. Takeoff ~07:30. This was a formation attack but many crews felt the formation did not work well. Hazy over target and partly cloudy but crews were able to identify target railways visually. Crews bombed at ~10:20 from 17000 feet. Master Bomber instructed to bomb "Pickwick". Many fires and much smoke observed by crews. The target was defended by accurate heavy flak resulting in many bombers damaged. MZ587 "C" attacked alternate target (marshalling yards just short of primary target) because it was hit by flak on bomb run. MZ595 "M" had the wheel cowling u/s. "Q" along with flak damage and the mid uppper gunner, Sgt Cooper, receiving a fractured leg, also had port inner go u/s at French coast so landed at Volkal, Holland. LL574 "R" had to feather port inner during bomb run due to flak damage. Also damaged were the bomb bay doors and port flap. Bomber Command attacked the oil plant at Wanne-Eickel with 137 bombers. All the bombers were from 6 Group or 8 Group. One oil tank was directly hit and the GAVEG chemical works was destroyed. Casualties were about 100. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
October 13: No ops on for today or training due to bad weather. Ground training continued. Victory Loan total is now $29250 with only half the squadron asked. Fairly easy night last night. Got up about 10. Wrote a letter home. Spent most of day in YMCA. Went to fitters lecture in evening. Weather was very poor all day and still is.
October 14: Early morning ops through for eighteen to bomb Duisburg. Sixteen bombed the target. One aircraft had a malfunction with the bomb doors and could not drop their bomb load and another jettisoned their bombs. Some crews identified the target visually and reported many explosions in the target area with reasonable concentration of bombing. Fires from the attack were observed from 100 miles away. One crew landed at Woodbridge. A quick turn around was requested and night ops for another eighteen planes to return to Duisburg. One returned early with its bomb load due to u/s engine and another returned with control problems. Sixteen attacked the primary target in what was considered a scattered attack. Crews reported a few fires and explosions. One of the squadron's bombers was in collision with another aircraft resulting in damage to the fin and rudder. The pilot was able to land at Woodbridge. A number of air crew men were screened from ops today. Early ops again this morning. Takeoff at 6:30. All returned, several full of holes. 11 are scheduled to takeoff again tonight. Very windy all day, but fairly clear tonight. No mail. Bomb loads were a mixture of 1000 and 500 lb general purpose bombs. Most aircraft carried a total of 10000 lb. Takeoff ~06:30. NA630 "N" had engine trouble and aborted the mission. MZ747 "O" had to abort mission because the bomb bay doors would not open. Crews bombed at ~08:54 from 17000 to 19000 feet. Visibility was good for most crews through broken cloud. The crews identified the target visually using river and airport. Master Bomber instructed crews to bomb visually with code word "Freehand". Defences in target area were heavy flak plus some nightfighters. Crews reported seeing fires and explosions in target area. NA509 "V' had a hydraulic malfunction and could not close bomb bay doors. MZ540 "H" was damaged over target by haevy flak. Holed in fuselage, rear turret and starboard wing. MZ952 "I" received minor flak damage to windscreen of cockpit. NA579 "J" had the bomb aimers compartment hit by flak causing minor damage. LL574 "R" had the fuselage slightly damaged by flak. LW392 "S" observed an FW190 at 300 yards. A corkscrew starboard was ordered and the rear gunner, F/Sgt Clifton and the upper gunner F/Sgt Anglin fired upon the fighter. The second raid on Duisburg took off ~22:35 loaded with 13 clusters XIV Mk. I (470 lbs each). LW393 "W" aborted the mission due to u/s engine. The bombers attacked at 01:44 from 21000 feet. A few clouds were over the target area. Bombing was on TI's. Many fires observed expanding into larger ones. The flames could be seen from 100 miles away. Crews reported the attack as successful. MZ952 "I" had a u/s engine for part of the trip. NA579 "J", flown by F/O Haslop aborted mission after colliding with another plane at 00:48 hours which removed the top half of the starboard rudder. This was a "show of strength" series of raids known as "Operation Hurricane". The purpose was to demonstrate to the German Command the superiority of the Allied Air Force in Europe. It was a combined effort with VIIIth Army US Air Force. Bomber command launched 1013 aircraft against Duisburg early in the morning (6:30 takeoff time) with fighter support. The VIIIth Army attacked Cologne with 1251 bombers and heavy fighter escort. Bomber Command did a rapid turn around of aircraft and attacked Duisburg again the night of October 14/15 with 1005 aircraft. 6 Group contributed 258 aircraft to the morning raid and 243 to the night attack. Almost 9000 tons of bombs fell on the city in the two raids. (BC-4; 6 Group-0) (BC-21; 6 Group-5)
October 15: Ops on for eleven to attack Wilhemshaven. Two did not bomb target due to hydraulic malfunction. Nine attacked the primary target. The visibility was poor over the target scattering the bombing but some fires and explosions reported. On return the bombers were diverted to Foulsham. S/Ldr Edwards took over as squadron's CO. W/C Brickendam visited the squadron to assess how the City of London Women's Air Force Auxiliary could improve the welfare of the men serving with the squadron by supplying "comforts". Many pictures were taken to be sent to the women's auxiliary. Ops late last night were a success. "J" was hit by another and landed away minus one tail. Crew ok. Ops tonight so we are really busy. Having some carb trouble on "D". Hope to get it fixed tomorrow. Bomb loads consisted of 7x1000 plus 6x500. Takeoff ~17:40. LW575 "F" aborted due to a landing gear problem as did MZ505 "X". Bombing was through haze and thin cloud from 13000 to 18000 feet at ~19:52. Red and green TI's were used as the aiming point but some crews reported the PFF dropped these late and they were scattered. A large explosion was seen by some crews through the clouds and haze. Nothing observed due to clouds but a number of fires were seen through the cloud and up to 60 miles away. A JU88 was seen at 400 yards by upper gunner Sgt MacKenzie of LL580 "U". Corkscrew port was ordered while he and rear gunner Sgt Kastner fired at the fighter. Bomber Command sent 506 to the primary target. 6 Group had 134 aircraft on the raid. This was to be the last major attack by Bomber Command on this city. Although significant damage was reported by returning crews it appears damage was actually minimal. (BC-3; 6 Group-3)
October 16: Not on ops for today. W/C McKenna received immediate DFC and was sent to Wombleton. A number of aircrew members were screened. All kites were diverted last night and are still away. Changed the carb on "D" port inner and it seems OK. Got wet doing it as it rained nearly all day. No flying at all. No mail.
October 17: Bad weather so all flying scrubbed. All but one bomber that had been diverted Oct 15 returned to base. S/Ldr Kruger DFC, DFM was screened from ops today after his second tour. Kites returned from diversions OK. A little trouble on "C" but OK now. Dick Bird finished. Had an easy night on so off tomorrow.
October 18: Ops for sixteen scrubbed due to weather but some local flight training was done. Preparations made for eighteen aircraft for early morning ops. Arrived back from York. Five letters in mail.
October 19: Ops scrubbed at 4:45 due to weather. Some flight training undertaken. To quarter all aircrew on the same site. Men in site #7 were moved to site #6 and ground crew at site #6 were moved to site #7. Nothing doing at all today so had it pretty easy. Weather cloudy with drizzle.
October 20: Due to 420 Squadron having the least number of accidents in September for all of 6 Group the squadron received the "Handley-Page Minature Trophy" from AOC McBurny. All squadron personnel attended the ceremony. Raining all the time. Got a parcel from home.
October 21: Ops through for 20 to attack Hanover at 10:30. Two did not takeoff, "C" and "R". Aircraft recalled due to bad weather and returned by 19:15. Ground training continued. Squadron learned that eng P/O Proud who went missing on August 17 in MZ687 is a POW. A change of bomb load and fuel load stopped several going at the last minute.
October 22: Not on ops. Regular training continued. Nothing doing at the flight. Moved us to another hut so we had a busy afternoon as the hut had to be scrubbed out. Rumours of early morning ops.
October 23: Ops through for 20 bombers to attack Essen. MZ951 "L" did not takeoff. Two returned early and one bombed an alternate target. Ground was not seen so the crews could not assess the raid. NA509 pranged while landing at Wellesbourne damaging the starboard wing and landing gear. All settled in our new hut and site. No ops this morning but everything called on for this afternoon. Am trying to go to town on the 1:30. Bombloads consisted of 1x2000, 2x500, 1x1000 and 4x1000. Takeoff ~16:30. MZ587 "C" returned early with u/s engine as did LL580 "U". Crews attacked the primary target at ~19:36 from 19500 to 21000 feet. Conditions were completely overcast from 2000 to 10000 feet at target so bombing was on TI's anf flares. Some crews considered the attack to be a poor attempt although a large explosion was noted in the target area and fires were seen from 100 miles away. LW388 "G" damaged bomb bay doors when jettsioning a hung up bomb. MZ747 "O" was hit by flak in the tail and experienced some icing. NA509 "V", flown by F/O Young, crashed landed at Wellesbourne. Bomber Command sent 1055 bombers to attack Essen. 6 Group provided 272 aircraft for this attack. Notable is that Bomber Command could muster so many aircraft and all were either Halifaxes or Lancasters. This was the largest raid to date in the war. Over 500, 4000 bomb cookies, were part of the estimated 4538 tons of bombs, mostly high explosives, dropped on Essen. This was a shift from an incendiary mix because the planners felt there was not much left to burn in Essen after so many previous raids. Over 1400 buildings were damaged and over 1200 people were killed or injured. (BC-8; 6 Group-2)
October 24: Ops on for 13 aircraft but scrubbed after main briefing. No tea being served in officers mess. On standby till midnight. Morning ops for 18 aircraft. The following reported missing on August 15: F/S Batt, F/S Wintemute and F/O Smith are POW's according to German information released. F/L Zavits, F/Sgt Novack, F/O Hubbard and Sgt Crackmell reported as dead are now considered missing believed killed in action. An effort is underway to raise a $500 Victory Bond for the City of London via the London Women's Air Force Auilliary. Went to town yesterday afternoon and saw the show "Dr. Wassell" which was very good. Stayed all night returning on the morning bus to find plenty of work waiting me after last night's ops. "C" with an engine change and "A" and "J" back early. Ops tonight were scrubbed. Must go on pay parade.
October 25: Ops through for eighteen to attack Homberg in daylight. One was an early return due to u/s engine. LW386 "A" piloted by F/O Glover was hit by bombs over target. One bomb passed through the port wing causing fuel tanks to fall away and another hit the starboard elevator. The pilot was able to keep the plane under control. Crews reported bombing to be scattered due to the PFF indicators being dropped late and when they were dropped they could not be seen due to clouds. Germans passed on information that F/O Moffit's (nav of MZ687 missing on August 16) body was found on August 31. Stand by for early morning ops. On tonight and it looks pretty busy night. Kites took off about 11 and are due back at 6 pm. "D" and "F" didn't go. Weather still isn't very good. No mail. Bombloads were 6x1000 plus 8x500. Takeoff ~12:37. LW380 "B" flown by F/O Johnston had equipment failure and aborted the mission. Target was completely overcast. Crews bombed on skymarker TI's from 16000 to 18400 feet at ~15:49. Crews were unable to assess quality for attack but thought it was likely not very successful due to scattering of bombs, poor marking and confused Master Bomber. Bomber Command attacked Essen again, only 36 hours since the previous attack. This time 771 bombers dropped their loads on sky markers due to cloud cover. Reports indicate over 1100 buildings were damaged and 820 people killed. A smaller force of 243 aircraft, made up of 199 from 6 Group, was sent to attack Homberg. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
October 26: No ops on. The $500 Victory Bond has been sent to the London Women's Air Force Auxiliary. Lecture and aircrew training continue. A heavy night as we couldn't get a tractor until nearly 10 pm. Finally got done at about 3 am. Didn't get up until dinner time. Spent several hours in the YMCA. Sent roses home for Christmas.
October 27: Not on ops. Routine flight training carried out. The 7th Victory Bond campaign collected a total of $36500. A numbered of aircrew members were screened. Eighteen aircraft on stand by for ops tomorrow. No ops today but quite a little training. Duals in "D". Worked on "J" but it is good now. Ops were on but scrubbed until early tomorrow morning. Very clear and cold today. No mail.
October 28 Ops through for eighteen bombers to attack Cologne in daylight. The Master Bomber aborted the attack on the primary target and seventeen attacked an alternate target with good concentration of bombs and many fires and much smoke seen. Regular flight training continued. No ops this morning. "D" on duals. Ops at noon. Takeoff 1:30. About a six or seven hour trip. No mail. May go on leave in a few weeks. Kites now returning. One of Croft's kites crashed after going over our billet. The crew landed in chutes on our drome and one 100 yards from our billet. The aircraft carried 1x2000 plus 12x500.Takeoff time ~13:15. There was broken cloud over the target with tops up to 10000 feet. All but one of the crews, NA632 "E", attacked an alternate target in Cologne as instructed by the Master Bomber. Visibility was good and crews bombed visually at ~16:12 from 19000 to 21000 feet. Many fires and explosions seen with smoke rising from 7000 to 15000 feet. Some crews reported seeing explosions occurring in vicinity of a factory. Most crews considered it a fair raid. The bomb doors of NA632 "E" were slightly damaged by flak in the target area. LW380 "B", piloted by F/O Bonner, was hit by heavy flak over target resulting in some damage to the aircraft and a head injury to upper gunner Sgt Cochran. A number of aircraft diverted to other bases due to lack of fuel. Bomber Command sent 733 aircraft to attack Cologne in two waves. 6 Group's contribution was 231. The attack caused major damage and loss of life. Over 2500 buildings were damaged or destroyed and over 1800 dead or injured. (BC-7; 6 Group-1)
October 29: Not on ops. Training continued. Brussel sprout season started. Readied for early morning ops. All our kites returned safely. Was on training this afternoon. Nearly all our kites are scheduled for ops early morning. Croft's kite which crashed last night didn't kill any crew as they all safely bailed out.
October 30: Ops for eighteen aircraft to attack Cologne. NR141 "J" flown by F/O Haslop was an early return due to broken throttle rod. The pilot pranged on landing causing some damage to the plane. Crews were unable to provide any assessment of bombing results. All aircraft were diverted to other bases. LW388 "D" landed at Manston and the starboard landing gear collapsed. Before "D" could be towed off the runway it was hit on the port wing by a Lancaster that was attempting to land on one wheel. Routine flight training continued. An early call at 6 but it was scrubbed till nearly 6 tonight so won't be back till midnight. Weather pretty nippy today. Mail today. Bomb loads for this attack were 1x2000, 6x1000 plus 5x500. Takeoff time was ~17:14. The crews attacked on Wanganui flares at 21:00 from 17000 to 20000 feet through overcast. Crews reported a good attack if marking was accurate with fire and smoke seen through clouds. A number had hung up bombs that they had to jettison on return flight. LW380 "D" observed an FW190 from 900 yards. Corkscrew port was ordered and rear gunner F/Sgt shorin and F/Sgt Wilkison fired upon the fighter. The rear gunner of NA630 "N", F/Sgt Irwin, spotted an FW190 from 700 yards. A corkscrew to port was requested while F/Sgt Irwin and the under gunner, Sgt Baird, fired upon the fighter. MZ952 "I", flown by F/O Bonner, was attacked by a nightfighter from 300 yards. The rear gunner, Sgt Bragg, exchanged fire with the fighter while a corkscrew port was done. MZ375 "X", flown by F/O Glover, had the landing drop while in circuit to land at diversion base, Skellington. Landed safely. LW388 "D" piloted by P/O Macdonald landed at Maston due to fuel shortage. Bomber Command again attacked Cologne with 905 aircraft. Of this number 6 Group provided 243. The Pathfinders used Oboe to mark the target due to cloud cover. The suburbs received substantial damage and over 500 people were killed. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
October 31 Ops not on for today. Diverted aircraft returned to base. Kites all diverted. "D" pranged so we have had it and "C" is going to Topcliffe. So now we only have one kite. "J" was an early return due to a throttle control rod break. Everything OK now and ready for the morning. 425 Squadron had one land with a flat tire.
November 1, 1944: Ops through for eighteen to bomb Oberhausen. All were successful in bombing the primary target. The crews felt the attack was well concentrated. Defences were slight and searchlights were hampered by the smoke from fires and explosions. A number of crews reported night fighter attacks and claims of a ME109 by the crew of F/Ldr Sefton. LL605 "K", flown by F/L Sefton, was attacked by an ME109. The rear gunner, Sgt Waugh and upper gunner F/Sgt Thompson fired upon the fighter as a corkscrew port was carried out. The fighter veered off and crashed into the ground and is claimed as destroyed. The upper gunner of MZ540 "H" P/O Tomlin observed a nightfighter at 400 yards. He and the rear gunner, F/Sgt Adams, fired on the fighter while the pilot performed a corkscrew starboard. Kites are off again tonight. Have only "J" now as "C" went to Topcliffe this afternoon. Had a very soft day. No mail. Weather nippy but fair. Bomb loads 1x2000, 6x1000 plus 4x500. Takeoff time ~17:20. Crews attacked at ~20:34 from 20500 to 21000 feet on flare TI's. There was light overcast to 2000 to 5000 feet with ground fog over the target. Most crews reported bombing seemed to be concentrated although ground was not clearly visible. Many fires were observed through clouds and seen from 30 miles away. Bomber stream fairly concentrated over target. Overall, attack seemed succesful. LW380 "B" had problems with port outer engine. NA632 "E" had a bomb hang up and lost one bomb bay door. LW575 "F" had flak damage to both wings. MZ473 "G" had the hydraulics u/s causing the bomb bay doors to open on flight back to England. Bomber Command sent a small force of 288 bombers to Oberhausen. Most of the bombers, 250, came from 6 Group. The bombing was very scattered due to cloud cover. Little damage was reported. (BC-4; 6 Group-6) (Descrepancy in number lost.)
November 2: Seventeen were detailed to attack Dusseldorf. All successfully bombed the primary target. Defences over the target area were barrages of heavy flak, searchlights and night fighters. Most crews reported a successful attack with good PFF marking and many fires and explosions observed. NR123 "F" flown by F/O Shotton was damaged in a collision with another aircraft. The bomber landed at Manston on three engines. No injuries to the crew. Regular flight training continued. The rear gunner of NA632 "E", F/O Marvell observed a JU88 from 350 yards. The pilot, F/L McCarthy, corkscrewed starboard while F/O Marvell and upper gunner F/O Neil fired on the fighter resulting in the fighter catching fire and diving into a cloud. An FW190 was spotted by the rear gunner of MZ540 "H", F/Sgt Sherin from 800 yards. A corkscrew port was performed by the pilot, P/O MacDonald, and F/Sgt Sherin and upper gunner F/Sgt Wilkins fired on the fighter but nothing was observed and the fighter disappeared. The crew of "H" also engaged a FW190 fourteen minutes later. The fighter was first seen by the bomb aimer, F/O Centell, from 400 yards who fired on the fighter as the pilot evaded with a corkscrew starboard. No damge to the bomber occurred in either engagement. Due to work tonight and ops tonight so looks like I will be busy. Seven kites on and a spare. Bearisto finished last night and wants to take us on a party. Bomb loads were 1x2000, 6x1000 plus 2x500. Takeoff time was ~16:07. Good visibility over target. Bombed at ~1920 from 18000 to 20000 feet. The aiming point was marked by TI's. Good bombing concentration with many fires that grew into larger ones. Fires seen as far away as 100 miles on the return trip. Smoke became quite thick over target. Bomber stream fairly tight. LW589 "Q" had a bomb hang up. A large raid of 992 bombers attacked Dusseldorf. 6 Group contributed 222 planes to the attack. Bombing was concentrated resulting in substantial damage. It is estimated that over 5000 homes were damaged or destroyed. Casualties numbered over 1600. (BC-19; 6 Group-6)
November 3: Not on ops but flight training was continued. Got finished at 4 am. All kites returned safely. "F" landed down south. Got up at 5 pm and went to York. Went to Betty's Bar and a big feed at the Station Hotel. Came home at 10 pm. Got mail.
November 4: Ops through for sixteen bombers to attack Bochum. All took off and fourteen claimed to have bombed the primary target. The crews reported good marking, many explosions and fires, an overall good raid. LW380 "B" piloted by P/O Simonson, was an early return due to lack of engine power. MZ952 "I" could not retract wheels or flaps and also returned early. LZ589 "Q" and NP951 "Y" both ran short of fuel and landed away from base. F/O McKenzie awarded with a immediate DFC. Rained a little last night. Ops on tonight. "J" blew a carb seal on takeoff. Still only have one kite and lost two men to McCarthy. No mail today. Bomb load was 1x2000, 7x1000 plus 4 x500. Takeoff time ~17:23. Crews bombed at ~19:40 from 17500 to 18000 feet. Visibility was good. Bombed on TI's and skymarkers. Bombing was reported as concentrated around TI's with many fires. Fires observed from 100 miles away. Some crews reported the planned return route took them over a concentration of searchlights operating with heavy flak. Bochum was targeted by 749 aircraft by Bomber Command. 6 Group sent 214 aircraft on this mission. The attack was devastating to the city. The center of the town lost at least 4000 buildings plus damage to industrial sites and there were about 1000 casualties. (BC-28; 6 Group-5)
November 5: Bad weather cancelled all flying. Lectures were given on Air Sea rescues. Signal arrived in evening to prepare for early morning takeoff. George got away in "P" after "J" blew the carb seal last night. Repari and Insepection (R&I) changed the carb seal for us last night so "J" is OK. Got it back this evening. No ops or flying tonight.
November 6: Daylight ops through for sixteen to attack Gelsenkirchen. Fifteen, MZ540 "H" did not takeoff, took off around noon. Cloud conditions obscured target markers. Master Bomber ordered planes to bomb built up areas. Bombing was scattered but crews reported seeing some fires. A number of planes were diverted. A number of aircrew members were screened. Routine flight training continued. Takeoff was 11 am. "J" got off OK but has a bad oil leak. Went to town at 1:30 and got my shoes and a hair cut. Came home on the 8:30 with Bill Platt. Rainy weather. Bomb loads for this attack were 1x2000, 6x1000 and 4x500. Takeoff time ~11:40. Crews bombed target through broken cloud and haze. Bombs were dropped at ~14:12 from 19000 feet. Master Bomber ordered "Secondhand" as the raid started. Crews reported the bomber stream and bombing was scattered and the TI's were not seen by some. Many fires, smoke and some large explosions was seen. Most crews were could not evaluate if the attack was successful. Rhine defences of flak were active against the bomber stream. MZ473 "G" was hit by heavy flak at 18500 feet. LL605 "K" was hit by flak slightly injuring under gunner Sgt Roche. Bomber Command detailed 738 bombers for a daylight raid on synthetic oil plant at Gelsenkirchen. 6 Group provided 215 aircraft to the attack. The majority of the bombers successfully attacked the oil plant and area until smoke obscured the target. Remaining bombers "area bombed" the town. Damage in the town was substantial and over 500 people were killed. (BC-5; 6 Group-2)
November 7: No ops. Flight training carried out. Diverted bombers arrived back at base. An early call for daily inspections (DI's). "J" has a bad oil leak due to the carb change. A little training today and rumours of early morning ops. Got paid for leave on pay parade. Got my pass tonight and Nip has to get his tomorrow. Got a brand new "C" and an "A" with 16 hours on it.
November 8 to 17: On leave to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Nip got his pass OK so we caught the 10:30 bus to York had dinner at Ma's caught the 1:49 to Edinburgh and arrived about 7 pm. Reached the place before 8 pm. Had a swell supper of sausage (good ones) and an egg. Going to bed and am going to get plenty of sleep for nine days.
November 8: Signal came through for early morning ops on Nov 9 but these were cancelled. The aircraft were bombed up anyway. Flight training continued. Two army officers arrived at squadron to act a liaisons for a week.
November 9: Not on ops. Flight training continued.
November 10: Flight training ongoing. A signal came through to prepare twenty planes for early morning takeoff. These were cancelled just before midnight.
November 11: No ops on due to weather over target area. Flight training of aircrews continues.
November 12: No ops. Flight training continued today but due to weather was cancelled for tonight.
November 13: No ops. Flight training for seventeen crews were undertaken.
November 14: Weather cancelled all flying. A lecture on "fishpond" was given. WC held a general meeting of all section heads to discuss squadron's organization. Aircrews were involved in building maintenance and cleaning. F/Sgt Gilmore was awarded the DFM.
November 15: No ops but intensive flight training with fifteen aircrews involved. Information received that wop Sgt Unger reported as missing is now considered as have being killed in action.
November 16: Ops through for fifteen aircraft. Target is Julich. Bomb load consisted of 1x2000, 6x1000 plus 4x500. Takeoff time was ~13:20. Crews bombed at ~15:45 from 17000 feet. This was a ground troop support bombing mission. Many crews used a timed run to identify target area and visual confirmation of railway and rivers. TI's were also used to identify target and Master Bomber added further adjustments. Bombing appeared to be concentrated with many fires and smoke observed through out the target area. Most crews felt it was a successful attack. A number of crews experienced hung up bombs. NR139 "A" had 1x2000 and 2x1000 lb bombs hang up. On landing the bombs fell through the bomb bay doors. NR208 "D", flown by F/L Dailey, had minor flak damage. MZ540 "H" reported flak at 5130N by 0130E. NA630 "N", piloted by F/O Field, received minor flak damage to starboard wing and flap. LL574 "R", flown by F/O Waston, had a hydraulic malfunction and bomb bay doors were damaged by flak. Three towns, Duren, Julich and Heinsburg were attacked by 1188 bombers from Bomber Command. 6 Group contributed 204 of the 508 aircraft Bomber Command sent to Julich. These raids were in preparation for attacks by the American 1st and 9th Armies. All totalled, with attacks by 1239 American heavy bombers, over 9400 tons were dropped in the area. All three towns received substantial damage. The town of Duren had 3127 people killed. Although bombing raids were successful the ground troop advance was hampered by wet ground and proved very slow with high casualties. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
November 17: Ops through for early this morning but these were cancelled at 06:15 after aircrews up at 05:00. Bad weather cancelled flying. Medical officer gave lecture. (Glasgow) Got up early and caught the train to Edinburgh and then the 10:30 to York. Got to York about 2:30 and had dinner at Ma's. Got to camp at 5:30. Lots of letters. Lots of replacements.
November 18: Ops on for fourteen to attack Munster. All were successful. Bad weather over base resulted in all bombers diverted to Thornby. Limited flight training done in the afternoon. Takeoff at noon. Kites have been diverted so it will be fairly easy till they return. Quite a little work. Got five parcels today. Lots of milk and cocoa. Bomb load was 16x500 MC. Takeoff time was ~12:23. The target was overcast to 10000 feet. Crews bombed on skymarkers from 16000 to 17500 feet at ~15:06. The skymarkers initially were concentrated but these became scattered as the attack progressed. No views of ground to evaluate the results. Bomber stream was very compact. Bomber Command sent 479 bombers to Munster. 6 Group provided 200 aircraft for this mission. Attack was reported as scattered. (BC-1; 6 Group-0)
November 19: Bad weather cancelled training. At 11:30 an urgent signal received for ops early in the afternoon. However just as the crews were being briefed at 13:30 the ops were cancelled. Aircrews are still at Thornby. All aircrews at base on standby. Kites were diverted so only four kites on the flight. Have the main overloads up so gas is 2200. Looks like a long trip. I am on so maybe called tonight. Am off tomorrow.
November 20: Ops on then cancelled. Diverted aircraft finally returned to base. No flight training. A number of aircrew men were screened. F/Ldr Kelly and F/L Hawkins are to receive non immediate DFC. Kites arrived back. DI's done and ready for tomorrow.
November 21: Nineteen on ops to Castrop-Rauxel. Meals at 11:00, nav briefing 12:30, main briefing 13:00. One, NA630 "N" was an early return due to hydraulic malfunction that would not allow the crew to raise landing gear. Remainder bombed primary and on return were diverted to other bases. NX346 "U" flown by F/L Sefton crashed at Thrintaft near Leeeming injuring four and killing the air bomber F/O Yarush. Ops, takeoff at around 3:30. Tried to get back at 10 pm. One of 426 Squadron's kites crashed into our billets. The kite is spread over half a mile. Five aircrew killed and two seriously injured. Another kite crashed nearby but the crew were able to bail out safely. All our kites have been diverted due to the crash on the drome. Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff ~15:32. Visibility was good over the target area with clear skies and only a small amount of thin cloud. Bombs were dropped at ~19:00 from 19000 feet. Aiming point indicated by red and green TI's. Smoke billowing to 8000 feet over target area. Many fires and a few large explosions witnessed. Overall crews considered it a good raid. Bomber Command carried out over 1300 sorties to various targets. 420 Squadron was sent to attack the oil refinery at Castrop-Rauxel along with 273 others. Of this number 6 Group supplied 230 aircraft. The target was successfully bombed and information suggests the refinery was destroyed. (BC-4; 6 Group-4)
November 22: Bad weather cancelled morning training. By noon the weather was good enough for diverted bombers to arrive at base. Ops on for the afternoon but cancelled. Rained a lot last night. Kites returned by 3 am. Had to do DI's. Ops on but then scrubbed. Ready for the morning. A lot of trouble on "C" with a cooler, long shaft bracket and a problem with oil pressure. "U", Uncle, of B-flight crashed last night killing the bomb aimer.
November 23: Early morning ops were called for and then cancelled. No training due to bad weather. Several on training today. Ops were scrubbed. No mail. Got my bike fixed today.
November 24: Ops and training were cancelled due to bad weather. Funeral of F/O Yarush was held today followed by burial at the RAF Regional Cemetary in Harrogate. Training on for this morning was scrubbed so we changed centrifuges in "C" and "D". Ops on and then scrubbed. "J" went for an inspection and has an exhaust ring to change. Got a parcel from the Quill Lake Ladies Auxiliary.
November 25: Not on ops today and training cancelled due to low ceiling. Rained all night. Ran up "D", "A" and "C". No ops so got done early. Going to York tomorrow.
November 26: Not on ops. Flight training carried out but weather closed in on base and six aircraft were diverted to other bases. Squadron on stand down until midnight. Immediate DFC awarded to F/O Glover and an immediate DFM to F/Sgt Vaungh. Went to York and saw Miller.
November 27: Weather conditions marginal but a signal for a rush operation came through. Sixteen took off at 16:30 to attack Neuss. All attacked the primary target and were diverted due to weather on return. Flight training cancelled. A nasty raw day. "D" didn't go because pilot's jettison T was u/s which the armourers should have fixed long ago. "J" returned from training and we had to change feathering pump. Looks like snow tonight. Bomb loads consisted of 1x2000, 5x1000 and 6x500. Takeoff time was ~16:37. Crews bombed at ~20:26 through overcast skies with cloud tops to 5000 feet. Bombs were dropped from 15000 to 19000 feet on red and green/yellow TI flares. The crews reported a few large explosions in target area and good concentraton of bombs and bomber stream. A number of air craft had bombs hang up over target. NA632 "E" had a bomb hang up and the hydraulics u/s but landed safely. MZ540 "H" flown by F/O Stock had one bomb door ripped off by what the crew believe was a bomb that hung up and then dislodged. Bomber Command sent 290 bombers, 225 of these from 6 Group, to Neuss. The raid damaged or destroyed over 700 buildings. Casualties were light. (BC-1; 6 Group-0)
November 28: Not on ops. Weather still poor. In afternoon the weather improved allowing for limited flight training and some diverted crews to return to base. A party was held that was enjoyed by everyone attending. Sent "D" and "J" on training. "J" is ready for the morning. DI's to do on "A", "C" and "D" in the morning. Mail today.
November 29: Not on ops. A nice day. Lots of training. Everything is supposed to be on ops tomorrow morning.
November 30: Ops through but then cancelled. Night ops came through and twenty-one aircraft took off to attack Duisburg. One was an early return. The remainder attacked the primary target but were diverted on return. Bombing was done through clouds on skymarkers. Ops were supposed to be off early but they did not go until 4 pm. We sent eleven. Kites are to return about midnight. Bomb loads made up of 1x2000, 10 SBC (90X4 inc) and 2 SBC (90x4 X). Takeoff time ~16:42. S/Ldr Plummer in LL605 "K" was an early return because of a broken throttle on starboard inner. Crews dropped bombs at ~20:11 through overcast clouds with tops to 6000 feet. Target was marked by red and yellows Wanganui TI flares. Bombing was from 17000 feet. Crews reported TI's concentrated and the glow of many fires and explosions through the clouds. Due to clouds the crews could not fully assess results of the attack. Bomber Command sent 576 aircraft to Duisburg. 6 Group provided 243 bombers to the mission. Bombing was scattered due to cloud cover but substantial damage was done. Over 1300 buildings were damaged or destroyed and 240 fatalities. (BC-3; 6 Group-2)
December 1, 1944: No ops or training due to weather. Half the diverted aircraft were able to get back to base. "C" and "J" returned last night and "A" and "D" this morning. "D" is done and ready for the morning. A very easy night. Will go to York tomorrow.
December 2: Sixteen on ops to attack Hagen. All attacked target through clouds on skymarkers. All returned to base but one landed at Linton by mistake. A number of aircrew members were screened from ops today. Caught the 11 am bus to York. Had a haircut and ate at Ma's. Went in with Kirk, Skip and Youngy. Bomb loads consisted of 1x2000, 12 clusters No 14 Mk 1 inc (106x 4 lb each). Takeoff ~17:25. Target was overcast with clouds to 15000 feet. Icing was a problem for some crews. Gee and DR were used to identify targets. Crews bombed at 21:08 from 17000 to 18000 feet. No results seen other than bomb flashes and fire glow through the clouds. Some crews witnessed a large explosion. Bomber Command attacked Hagen with 504 bombers. 6 Group's contribution was 199 bombers. The village received substantial damage with almost 1800 buildings damaged or destroyed. Casualties were over 1500 dead or injured. The attack was successful in curtailing the production of many of the factories located in the village. (BC-2; 6 Group-1)
December 3: Ops through but then cancelled as was flight training due to weather conditions. More screenings today. Lectures were given to flight crews on radar, cameras, and H2S. Kites returned safely and we don't have any snags on our four kites.
December 4: Ops through for fifteen to attack Karlshrue. All attacked the target. Weather allowed visual identification of target. All returned safely. Worked fairly hard to get the kites all ready this morning for ops at 4:30 pm. Got ready to go to Sedgefield for Jim's wedding. Bomb loads were 2x1000 SBC 12 (960x4 lb inc plus 120 x4 lb inc X type). Takeoff ~16:45. Good visibility through broken clouds. Cloud tops to 12000 feet. Bombed on Gee and TI's. Target was bombed at ~19:35 from 17000 to 18000 feet. Crews reported a good concentration and fires seen up to 70 miles away. Karlsruhe was attacked by 535 bombers. An even 200 bombers were sent out by 6 Group. The attack was concentrated resulting in substantial damage to the city. (BC-2; 6 Group-2)
December 5: All aircraft were grounded in order for a throttle linkage improvement to be installed. After repairs ops through for sixteen to attack Soest. All took off. NA192 "Q" was an early return due to a hydraulic malfunction. The rest bombed the primary target and returned safely. Regular flight training continued. (Sedgefield) A quiet wedding. Had lots of fun and met Bessie. Decided to travel with her to Newcastle so we wouldn't have to travel alone. It seems I have found a friend in her. After I saw Bessie on the train last night I caught the 10:30 from the Central station and arrived in York at 1:30 am. Stayed in the Y overnight on a mattress on the floor. My father and Bessie continued writing to each other for the next 55 years until my father passed away in 2009. Bomb loads were 1x2000 plus 7x1000. Takeoff time was ~17:50. Target was identified with TI's and Gee. Crews bombed at ~21:27 from 17000 to 18000 feet in mostly cloudy skies. Crews reported an overall good raid with many fires and explosions seen. A number had bombs hang up. Bomber Command sent 497 bombers to attack the rail yards at Soest. 6 Group contributed 195 bombers to the attack. The raid successfully focussed in the area of the rail yards. Over 1000 buildings were hit as well. (BC-2; 6 Group-2)
December 6: Ops on for sixteen to attack Osnabruck. All took off. "L", flown by F/O MacDonald, returned early with faulty hydraulics and pranged due to collapse of port landing gear. Remainder attacked the target aiming on skymakers through overcast skies. No flight training today for a change. Got back to camp in the morning to find they had been on ops twice while I was gone and ops on for tonight. A few snags on "C" but we managed to get her away. Bomb load consisted of 1x2000, 7x1000. Takeoff ~15:57. Target was overcast with cloud tops to 10000 feet. Crews bombed on Gee and TI's at ~21:26 from 17000 to 21000 feet. Fires and smoke seen from 75 miles away on the return trip. Clouds over target obscured viewing of any real results. Bomber Command attacked Osnabruck with 453 aircraft. 6 Group had 199 on the mission. The objective was the rail yards but these were not significantly damaged however a number of factories did receive hits. The raid was only partially successful. (BC-8; 6 Group-4)
December 7: Bad weather cancelled ops and flight training. Lectures were given to crews. Signal came through that P/O Beer, P/O Stubbart and Sgt Ellwood missing on the night of May 4 1944 are presumed dead. A tough night for someone last night as the kites were all over the drome this morning. Couldn't get them back till dinner time. It rained today making matters worse.
December 8: No ops today. Night flight training for eight crews. Aircraft NA179 jumped its chalks on an engine run up and ran it a truck causing minor damage. Not much doing today. Training tonight. I am on tomorrow.
December 9: Not on ops. Fifteen air craft took part in "gaggle" formation flying excercise. Busy all morning. Had eight kites go on 6 Group formation training. Had DI's to do at night. Was on duty so worked on "B" and "I". We didn't get done until 3 am.
December 10: Snow fell for first time this year. No flying and aircrews were given lectures. W/Cdr Franke visited the squadron. Information was received that P/O Wheelhouse reported as missing on April 21, 1944 is presumed dead. Got up at noon for dinner. Went to the YMCA and wrote some letters. It is snowing.
December 11: Ops through and then cancelled. No flight training due to weather. Lectures given on hydraulics and navigation. NA184 was damaged by a civilian dump truck. Two army officers arrived for liaison purposes. Lots of snow and chilly. Ops on and off all day. Scrubbed finally. In trouble with my Sgt Duncan and it looks like I may be posted.
December 12: Not on ops. Gaggle formation practiced with other Group planes. Other flight training also carried out. Ops scrubbed but training in afternoon. Had another lecture from Ray and Duncan and won out, so I won't be posted. After it was over I learnt that all my fitters and the rest of the flight were going to ask for a mass posting if I got posted. It is the biggest compliment I have ever had.
December 13: Ops on but then cancelled just prior to takeoff. NCO's requested to clean barracks. Missing F/O Morrison is now considered as deceased. Ops cancelled. Put "H" back together and we were done by 8:30.
December 14: Ops on and then cancelled at briefing. No flying. Lecture on demobilization was given by F/L Kennedy. Got up at 11 am. Had dinner and then went to the YMCA to write some letters.
December 15: Ops cancelled again. Bad weather cancelled flying. Lectures were given. Ops were cancelled due to weather. Nothing doing.
December 16: Not on ops. Flying cancelled due to bad weather. Lectures on VD and first aid given to all airmen. Another chilly foggy day. No flying. Got mail.
December 17: No ops today. Limited training flights. Preparations were underway for early morning takeoff tomorrow. Nothing much doing. Finished putting new rods on the kites. Ops on for 2 am tomorrow with marshalling at 9 pm tonight. McCullough put C. in the brig because he didn't come out to work but was sick in bed. I wonder where it will end.
December 18: Early morning, 03:00 takeoff, ops through for seventeen. A plane from 425 Squadron crashed on takeoff resulting in delays at takeoff and over target. Two aircraft, "O" and "T" were not able to takeoff when the power failed putting out flare path. NP951 "Y" was an early return due to a broken throttle linkage. NR287 "C" flown by F/L McCarthy had a malfunctioning bomb bay doors which would not open so the bombs had to be brought back. Other crews successfully attacked the primary target. On return all but one used diversion bases. More ops came through in the afternoon but these were eventually cancelled. Most of the diverted bombers were able to return to base in the afternoon. Limited flight training. One of 425 Squadron's kites crashed a few minutes after take of at 2:30 am. It crashed near a town and blew up shattering about 1000 windows and even some at camp two miles away. Nothing left but pieces. Takeoffs were scrubbed tonight and now we have four on training. Bomb loads consisted of 1x2000 plus 11x4lb inc clusters No 15 MK I. Takeoff time was ~03:33. The target was overcast so bombing was on Gee and TI's. Bombs were dropped about ~06:25 from 17500 to 19000 feet. Crews reported glow through clouds but they could not assess the quality of attack. A few crews had to deal with hung up bombs. Rear gunner Sgt Smith, in NR123 "F" fired at a twin engined night fighter with no results. NA192 "Q" flown by F/O Watson had to "shake down" the landing gear due to malfunctioning hydraulics prior to landing. Landed safely. Duisburg was attacked by 523 aircraft from Bomber Command. 6 Group contributed 232 to the attack. Almost 900 houses were damaged or destroyed and about 100 casualties. (BC-8; 6 Group-2)
December 19: Visibility was poor and ops were cancelled. Foggy all day. No flying. Pay parade today and the kept my pay book and gave me 6 pounds so I don't know what I will get next time.
December 20: Base fogged in cancelling all flying. Aircrews were sent to take rocks to control tower to line parking spots and move fuel loads. Still foggy. Boys decorated the billet with Window and it looks quite good.
December 21: Ops came through and aircrews were briefed three times before the ops were cancelled. All aircraft still on diversion bases returned to base. Cleared up today. Ready for ops but it was scrubbed when the kites were on the marshalling line. "C" went on training flight at 4:30. Got lots of mail and Christmas cards.
December 22: Ops through for seventeen bombers but were scrubbed after crew briefings. Flight training was cancelled due to weather. Information came through that Sgt Botterill missing 25 February 1944 and Sgt Eden and Sgt Burgon missing February 25/26 are presumed deceased. Ops on but were scrubbed. So flight training on. Early morning ops on tomorrow. Wrote some letters.
December 23: Bad weather cancelled all flying. No ops today and some training. Ops on with a big load. But now have them with a light gas load. I will be working on Christmas.
December 24: Daylight ops through for sixteen to attack the airport at Dusseldorf. All attacked the primary target. The target was defended by concentrated flak which damaged many of the planes but none were lost. On return all aircraft were diverted. Kites got away on ops just before noon and were diverted. Had our first air raid warning in a long time last night. Heard the kites and the bombs fell very near. Went to midnight carol service. Bomb loads were 9x1000 plus 4 x500. Takeoff ~11:40. Target was identified visually and by TI's. Bombing was at ~14:51 from 15000 to 16500 feet. The target was defended by heavy flak. Crews reported good concentration of bombs with fires and smoke coming from the runways and hangars in the target area. Smoke caused some visibility problems. NA192 "Q" received minor flak damage. Bomber Command sent 338 bombers to German air bases. The squadron's bombers went to Dusseldorf as part of 6 Group's 150 aircraft. Attacks were successful. (BC-5; 6 Group-2)
December 25: Fog caused a stand down for the squadron. All enjoyed their Christmas dinner and festivities. Unfortunately all the crews were still diverted and could not enjoy the fun. Too bad the kites were diverted. Had a very good meal. A big party was had by the whole station.
December 26: No flying because of fog. Ops came through but were cancelled. A number of aircrew members were screened. Still foggy. They are trying to send the four kites we have left on ops, even called me in from my day off, but the ops were finally scrubbed. The kites are still away.
December 27: Fog continued through the morning cancelling all flying. In the afternoon there was some limited flight training. Four aircraft were prepared for ops tomorrow. Still foggy but had an early call. Ops were scrubbed after we had deiced the kites. "C" came back this afternoon with lots of flak holes and quite a bit of engine work to be done. Ops on for early morning.
December 28: Early morning ops for four to attack Opladen. One NA179 "B" could not get the bomb bay doors open over target and aborted the mission. The four returned to base safely as did all planes on diversion bases. The four kites took off at 4 am and returned safely. Diverted kites finally returned this afternoon after four days of being away. Went to town this morning and did some shopping. Came back to camp at 10 pm. Bomb loads were 9x1000 plus 3x500. Take of time was 03:31. The target was overcast with cloud tops to 2000 feet. Crews bombed on TI's and skyflares from 18000 to 20000 feet at 06:52. No results could be observed due to clouds. Bomber Command sent 328 bombers to attack the rail yards at Opladen. 6 Group contributed 150 aircraft to the raid. No results were confirmed. (BC-2; 6 Group-2)
December 29: Ops through for sixteen to attack Troisdorf. Fifteen were successful in attacking the primary target. One "C" flown by F/Ldr McCarthy bombed an alternate target. All returned to base. A chilly morning. Saw a V4 while going to work. It circled several times before the pilot, on a one way ride, aimed it straight down. It was a long way off so we don't know the results. This is an odd entry in my father's diary. The most plausible explanation of what my father saw is an aerially launched V1 that had a gyroscope failure and was flying in circles until it ran out of fuel. By all accounts the V4 program involving manned V1 rockets did not become operational. Thanks to J. Larder of the Yorkshire Air Museum for clarifying this for me. But still if the V4 was top secret and not operational how did anyone at the Tholthorpe base know about it let alone to even suggest it was a V4? Obviously the normal version of the V1 was well known by all the airmen so they would have recognized it easily. Also, I have not been able to find any information about a V1 attack in the area for this date. There was a well documented attack on Manchester and area on Dec 24, 1944 involving a number of aerially launched V1's but obviously this incident is a separate attack. Kites took off about 3 pm so won't be back until late. Likely will be diverted. Troisdorf bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff 15:40. Target was completely cloud covered. Crews bombed on TI's from 18000 to 20000 feet at 19:28. No assessment of damage could be made but it appeared bombs were concentrated on target markers. Bomber Command sent over 700 bombers to three targets, Koblenz, Scholven/Buer and Troisdorf (197). 6 Group bombers were sent to the last two targets in numbers of 48 and 149. It appears the railway yards at Troisdorf were not hit. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
December 30: Ops for sixteen to bomb Cologne. All attacked the target. "K" landed at a diversion base and the rest landed at Tholthorpe. Training flight continued. Information was received that F/O Jones and F/O Norten are presumed dead. Woken up at 1 am by an earthquake which rumbled and shook for several seconds. Enough to wake nearly everyone. But there was no damage from what we heard. Chilly morning. Kites returned safely and we worked all morning on them. They took off again at 5 pm. I am on tonight but I have a good crew. Bomb loads were 1x2000, 4x1000 plus 8x500. Take of ~17:35. The target was mostly cloudy. Crews bombed on Gee and skymarkers. Attack was made at ~21:05 from 18000 feet. Some crews noted fighter flares in target area. Overall the crews felt the raid was well concentrated and should be a good effort. A number of crews noted aircraft with navigation lights on the way to the target. Bomber Command sent 470 bombers to railways in the Kalk area. An even 200 were sent by 6 Group. Although clouds obscured the target bombing seemed to be accurate with reports indicating severe damage to the rail yards. (BC-2; 6 Group-0)
December 31: Ops not on so extensive flight training was carried out all day. Got finished and into bed by 7:30 am. Kites returned at midnight. To speed things up I drove a bowser which made it 2 hours shorter. Only a few snags so it won't be too bad in the morning. Did not get up until just before supper.
January 1, 1945: No ops due to bad weather. Pilots received a lecture on the Bristol Hercules engine from a Bristol representative. Two army liaison officers arrived. Got up at 10:30 this morning and managed to catch the 1:30 bus to town. Will stay overnight. Picked up some engraved spoons. Saw a show.
January 2: Ops through for fifteen aircraft to attack Ludwigshafen. All took off and attacked the primary target. All returned to base except "K" which landed away due to low petrol. Routine flight training continued today. Got up at 8:30 and had breakfast with Reg, Herb, and Skip. Rod and I played a couple of games of snooker. Saw a show. Dinner at Ma's. Caught the 5 o'clock bus to camp for pay parade. My pay is 3-6 and 2. Bombloads consisted of 1x2000 plus 9x15 clusters (158x4lb). Takeoff was ~14:50. The crews bombed through broken clouds (tops to 7000 feet) at ~18:56 from 18000 to 20000 feet. Aiming point was designated by red and green TI's. Some large explosions were observed. Most felt the attack was well concentrated. Bomber Command sent 389 aircraft to attack the chemical plants located in Ludwigshafen. 6 Group had 156 on the raid. Accurate bombing occurred with both plants sustaining significant damage as well as other factories in the immediate vicinity. Over 300 residences were damaged or destroyed. Casualties were very light with less than 60 people killed or injured. Bomber Command also sent over 500 aircraft to Nuremberg. (BC-1; 6 Group-0)
January 3: Ops were on and then cancelled just after briefing. Aircrews had dry swim practise. A-Flight F/Ldr McCarthy went to Cranwell for commanders courses. Night cross-country training for three crews. Ops on last night and all returned safely but I had plenty of trouble on "D" and "A". Worked till 9 pm changing a carb on "D" and the duty crew finished "A". It snowed a little tonight and the weather looks pretty rough.
January 4: No ops today. Intensive flight training carried out all day. Did a little boost adjusting on "A" and a little checking on "O". It looked like an easy night as even training was scrubbed, but one of the boys pranged the nose of "A" with the wing of "C" so we had to work all night putting a new nose on "A" and the wing tip on "C". Didn't get to bed until 8 am.
January 5: Ops through for fourteen to attack Hannover. Thirteen attacked the primary target but one "V" is missing. Night fighters were operating more than usual in the target area. Should be noted that this is the first aircraft missing from the squadron since August 17, 1944. Flight training ongoing. Got up at 11:30 and am going to town on the 1:30 bus. Went to town could not get Jim's laundry. Had dinner at Ma's. Ops tonight. "A" went and "C" went on training. Bomb loads were made up of 16x500. Takeoff time for the mission was ~16:50. The target was overcast with cloud tops to 6000 feet. Crews attacked on TI flares at ~19:30 from 17000 to 19000 feet. Crews were able to see some bomb bursts, fires and explosions through the cloud cover. Some crews had bombs hang up. Missing is MZ471 "V" flown by F/Lt L Brand, with crew of P/O G Walker, F/O R Landers, P/O J Vandenbergh, F/Sgt J Warren, F/Sgt D Palmer, and F/Sgt G Noble. From "V" F/Lt Brand, P/O Walker and P/O Vandenbergh were killed. The other crew members became POW's. On this night Hannover was attacked by 664 aircraft. 6 Group had 190 aircraft on the raid. The bombing damaged or destroyed almost 500 buildings and killed about 250 people. (BC-31; 6 Group-10)
January 6: Fifteen aircraft were sent to Hanu from the squadron. All took off and fourteen attacked the primary target. "Z" attacked a secondary target due to electrical malfunction caused by freezing. All returned safely to base. Routine flight training. A pretty busy day. Kites took off by 4. "D" is on training but the rest went. I think the trouble with "D" and "A" will blow over. From last night's ops 425 lost three and "B" flight, one. We are still lucky as our last loss was nearly six months ago. The aircraft were bombed up with 1x2000 plus 12 clusters MK.14 (104x4lb). Take of was ~15:10. Crews bombed through complete overcast from 17,000 to 19,000 feet at ~19:12. Aiming point was designated using skymarker flares laid down by PFF. Crews observed some explosions and red glows through clouds. Bomber Command detailed 482 aircraft, including 189 from 6 Group, to attack Hanu and the major railway junction there. Bombing appears to have been scattered throughout the town and neighbouring villages and countryside. However, 90 people were killed and about 40% of the town was destroyed. (BC-6; 6 Group-2)
January 7: Not on ops. Intensive flight training carried out. Got up pretty late this morning and missed breakfast. Had a pretty busy day as we had several prangs. All kites returned safely from last night's ops and we had six on training this morning. No ops tonight.
January 8: Heavy snows cancelled all flying and crew duties. Woke up to a windy, blustery, snowy day. At 10:30 it is still snowing with plenty of wet snow everywhere. Did a little work on "A" and "J" today and plan to do more in the morning. Everyone got plenty wet. Went to a show with Squeak called Captain Courageous.
January 9: Heavy snow continues. All flying cancelled. All aircrew detailed to assist in the removal of snow from runways. Lectures given on German tactics. A crew went to Ripon for wet dinghy drill. The following missing airmen are now considered deceased: F/O Calder, F/O Jackson, Sgt Dunbar, missing since 15/16 March, 1944. P/O Wilson missing since 20/21 April 1944. F/O Morrison missing April 30/May 1944. F/O Long missing Frbruary 24/25, 1944. F/O Arnaton, F/O Patterson, F/S Benette, F/O Murphy, F/O Waterson and W/O Webb. Still very nasty weather. Snowing off and on. Lots of panic sweeping of the kites. Now tonight they expect us to shovel off the runway. So far I have not been caught. Tomorrow I have to run up the kites as they have been standing some time now.
January 10: Snow continues. No flying. Airmen continue to clean runways. Still very nasty snowing off and on. Spent the day sweeping and shovelling snow. Ran all the kites up this morning and all are okay. Lots of guys shovelling snow again tonight. There are supposed to be ops in the morning. Slag's brother Cime in unexpectedly just now. Shall write letters tonight.
January 11: Bad flying weather continues. No flying. Pilots lectured by CO. Stand down granted. Still very nasty weather. Snowing off and on. Most of the snow is cleared away. Has rained too so everything is really sloppy. I am due to work tomorrow evening. Got some mail today. Last few days have been fairly easy.
January 12: Ops on but cancelled as the bombers were being marshalled. Flight training resumed. The weather has turned much warmer. So likely we will have ops tonight and I am on duty. A little work to do and everything is ready for a late ops. But now it looks like rain so doubt if they will go.
January 13: Ops through for seventeen to attack the rail yards at Saarbruken. All attacked the primary target. "Q" engaged a night fighter. No flight training. Got finished and to bed by 4 am. Takeoff was supposed to be at 11:30 but scrubbed at the last minute so we had several to bring back and cover all the kites. Had to gas three which came back from training. Got up at noon. Plan on catching the 3:30 to York. Bomb loads consisted of 8x500 plus 8x250. Takeoff time was ~15:22. Target was clear and marking was with TI's. Crews bombed ~19:17 from 17500 to 19000 feet. Although there were some scattered bomb bursts seen most crews felt the attack was concentrated and a good effort. NA192"Q" engaged a twin engined fighter. While the rear gunner, Sgt Little, was firing the pilot, F/L Watson, evaded with a corkscrew to starboard. Nothing claimed. Saarbruken was attacked by 274 bombers from Bomber Command. 6 Group provided 140 aircraft to the mission. The attack was considered very accurate with substantial damage to the railyards and only twenty casualities. (BC-1; 6 Group-0)
January 14: Seventeen aircraft through for ops to attack rail yards at Grevenbroich. All bombers were successful and safely returned. "M" had an encounter with a night fighter. A number of air crew members were screened today. P/O Lines who has been missing since 30 April/ 1 May, 1944 is considered deceased. Slept till noon today after getting back from York on the 10:30 bus. I sent Jim and Joan's spoons and had two swell meals and met Earl Leach in the YMCA. So had a good talk of home. The Halifaxes were loaded with 8x500 plus 8x250. Takeoff time was ~15:35. Bombing occurred ~19:40 from 17000 to 19000 on TI's. Skies were clear over the target with slight haze. Crews observed some small explosions. Night fighters were laying flares from French coast to target. Sgt Redwood the rear gun of NR183 "M" observed a twin engined night fighter from 450 yards. He fired while requesting a corkscrew port from the pilot, P/O Callahan. Bomber Command sent a small raid of 151 aircraft to bomb the railways at Grevenbroich. The majority, 136, of the aircraft came from 6 Group. The attack was successful. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
January 15: Not on ops today. Pilots were given lectures on flying by Group Captain Lecomte. A rigorous flight training program undertaken involving fifteen aircraft. Went out last night on the fuel bowser to help out as we had 10 kites on ops. All returned safely. 425 had one crash into the mountain and East Moor had one crash on takeoff. Linton had a bowser blow up while refuelling. Went to work this morning at 8 am. Have afternoon off.
January 16: Eighteen aircraft readied for ops to attack Magdeburg. All took off successfully. Thirteen are known to have bombed the primary target. NA190 "U" had to abort due to aileron malfunction. MZ378 "S" flown by F/O Field was hit by another plane as it was leaving the target area causing damage to the H2S, entrance door smashed and the oil cooler of the starboard outer engine was damaged resulting in the plane landing on three engines at Carnaby. Four are missing "L", "E", "Q" and "M". This was to be the worst night the squadron was to experience during the entire war. Four bombers went down with the loss of fifteen aircrew. The remaining men were reported as POW's. Ops scrubbed for early morning. But came on again for 5:30 and we sent nine at 6:30. It has been a fair day and tonight is a little windy. The kites are due back in the early morning so it will be a tough night. Got three letters today and a parcel of 48 chocolate bars. Wrote MO tonight. Wonder if she will answer. (Personal footnote: Bert married MO in 1947) Bomb loads were made off 1x2000 plus 12 clusters Mk 14 (104x4lb each). Takeoff time was ~18:40. The primary target was bombed at ~21:45 from 19000 to 20000 feet. There was good visibility with slight haze over the target area. The target was marked with TI's. Bombing appeared concentrated with large fires reported visible from 150 miles. Night fighters were active in the area. NR208 "D" engaged an ME109. The upper gunner W/O Marchand spotted the fighter from 400 yards while the bomber was on its bomb run. The rear gunner W/O Mclean and W/O Marchand both fired upon the fighter which broke away at 125 yards. Four aircraft reported missing: NR205 "L" flown by P/O R Harvey with crew, P/O J McCormick, Sgt P Morissette, F/O C Bryce, Sgt R Wilson, F/Sgt K Reid and F/Sgt A Little; NA188 "E", piloted by F/O R Ireland and crew of, Sgt R Hutchinson, F/O W Dennis, F/O W Webb, P/O L Penny, F/Sgt F Poole, and F/Sgt S Cameron; NA192 "Q" with F/Lt E Watson as pilot and crew members Sgt A Parker, P/O C Way, F/O Q Louie, P/O W Partridge, F/Sgt D Jacobi and F/Sgt T. Lynch; NA183 "M" flown by F/Lt E McCutcheon, and his crew of F/O T Jones F/O D Ritchie, F/O J Welk, P/O J Skidmore, P/O G Haacke and P/O D Mackey. P/O Harvey and P/O McCormick were killed in "L". The rest of the crew were POW's. "E" had five crew members killed when it was shot down by a night fighter. Only F/Sgt Poole and F/Sgt Cameron survived as POW's. Only two of the crew from "Q", F/Sgt Jacobi and F/Sgt Lynch, survived as POW's. "M" had three crew members killed, F/Lt McCutheon, F/O Jones and F/O Welk. The rest became POW's. Bomber Command attacked Magdeburg with 371 aircraft. 6 Group provided 125 aircraft to the attack. The raid supposedly wiped out 44% of the town and was therefore deemed successful. (BC-17; 6 Group-7)
January 17: Not on ops. Flight training continued. Bad breaks again. Lost six kites from the squadron last night. Three from Don's end, "E", "L" and "M" and B-Flight lost "Q" and two somewhere in England. Weather and fighters were the cause. It was a hot target near Berlin. Weather has turned foggy today so maybe I'll get it pretty easy tomorrow night. I hope.
January 18: Bad weather cancelled all flying. Pilots lectured on engine handling and navigation. A very nasty day. Expecting snow this evening after rain all day. They put a rigger on tonight so I am on tomorrow. Hope I have an easy night. Try and write some letters tonight.
January 19: Ice covered the runways cancelling all morning flying. Ops called for but then cancelled. A dry swim for pilots and navigators.A very windy day today. Had a lot of cold work to do on "A". Ops were on for 4 pm but were scrubbed. Hope we don't get an early call as it is bitterly cold. On duty. Got a parcel and a letter.
January 20: Bad weather has again cancelled flying. Pilots were given navigation lecture. Woke up to a cold, clear, crisp day with three inches of fresh fluffy snow. Got "D" back from the hangar so now have four kites again. Kites are in pretty fair shape I think. Had an easy night last night and so will be off all day tomorrow as well as half day today.
January 21: Taxi ways and runways were u/s in the morning. Ops through but cancelled. Limited local flying in the afternoon. Still clear and cold. Got up at 10 am. Weather is clear and cold with nice sunshine. Wrote some letters.
January 22: Ops through but cancelled. Cross-country training resumed. Notified that P/O Hansford missing since April 25, 1944 is considered deceased. Pretty nippy weather with another three inches of snow. Ops were on but then scrubbed. Quite a litte training on for the afternoon.
January 23: Weather terrible with 30 degress of frost and fog. No flying. Stand down issued for the squadron. All flying scrubbed. Still have plenty of work on "A". D.A. is finishing it up for me tonight so I hope it will get finished. It is still bitterly cold. Feels like it is 0 F degrees or lower. Got mail.
January 24: Low temperatures and foggy weather continues. Lectures given on PFF tactics. Still bitterly cold with the thermometer at 0 F this morning. Everything is covered in frost. Spent a very bitter day but there is no flying. Got a parcel and letter.
January 25: Bad weather continues to cancel flying. Pilots lectured on flying techniques. S/Ldr McCarthy is acting Squadron Commander while W/C Phelan is on leave. Still pretty cold and so there isn't any flying but we were ordered to run up the engines by McCullough. Slim blew two carb seals so there was plenty of hard feelings. We were lucky with our four and didn't have a snag. I am on duty tomorrow. Our electricity is off again tonight so we bought candles. Will try to write some letters tonight.
January 26: Flying cancelled in the morning because of poor visibility. Cross-country training resumed in the afternoon. Still pretty nippy today. "C" and several others on training this afternoon. Ops are supposed to be on for early morning. I was supposed to be on duty tonight but they changed me again. I am on duty tonight instead. No mail. Have a cold.
January 27: Ops were on but then cancelled as the planes began to taxi to the marshalling lines. Squadron notified that Sgt Bethell missing on 15/16 of March, 1944 is considered to have be killed. Took some aspirins last night and slept well. Plan on staying in bed a till noon. Cold is much better. Ops on but then scrubbed due to snow flurries
January 28: Twelve aircraft requested for ops against Stuttgart. One pranged on takeoff and the pilot was too unnerved to attempt another takeoff. One NA179"B" returned early due to u/s engine. The other crews attacked the primary target. All were diverted on return. W/C Phelan was screened today and S/Ldr McCarthy assumes his position. About 3 inches of snow fell last night so I guess the ploughs will be busy all day. Ready for Duty Crew starting at 8 tomorrow morning. Bomb loads on this trip consisted of 1x2000 plus 9x15 clusters (158x4 lb). Takeoff time was ~19:20. NR258"I" swung off runway on takeoff and had to abort mission. Mostly cloudy conditions over the target. Cloud tops to 10000 feet. Crews bombed on flares at ~23:36 from 18500 to 20000 feet. Crews reported the forecast winds were not correct. Bomber Command made its final significant raid on Stuttgart. The raid involved 602 aircraft. Of these 179 came from 6 Group. The aircraft were divided into two waves about 3 hours apart. The targets were the railways just north of Stuttgart in Kornwestheim and what was reported as a airplane engine factory in the Stuttgart suburb of Zuffenhausen. Due to cloud cover the targets were marked with sky indicators but bombing was still scattered. Some of the bombers dropped their bombs on dummy fires complete with flak batteries. (BC-11; 6 Group-4)
January 29: Bad weather and crews diverted so no flying. A couple of diverted aircraft made it back today. Two army officers arrived as liaison officers. Started Duty Crew this morning. Had an Oxford to send off. It has been fairly hazy all day so if it keeps it up maybe I will have things fairly easy. It looks like a dirty night now at 6 pm.
January 30: Stand down due to bad weather and crews still diverted. Slept until 10 am. The weather has turned much milder and it looks like our snow will go. We as duty crew had to go and shovel off the runway lights till noon and may have to do it again this evening. Got two parcels.
January 31: Weather continues to be too bad for flying. Squadron stand down. Notified that F/L Knight is considered deceased. Very mild today with rain and fog in the morning. We were to have a big Liberator diversion but the fog stopped them so we only got one in. It thawed all night and by noon today we have little or no snow. Our own kites are still not back from diversion yet so the boys are having it easy.
February 1: Diverted aircraft returned to base. Ops through for seven aircraft to attack Mainz. All attacked the primary target and returned to base. A very nice day. Kites returned from diversion and took off again at 4, returned here at 10:30. All of ours are OK. While I was up on top of control tower with search light a kite blew up somewhere between here and Middleton. Went to bed after midnight. Bomb loads consisted of 1x2000 plus 12 clusters No.14 (106x4). Takeoff ~16:05. Crews used Gee and TI's to bomb target which was essentially entirely covered by clouds with tops from 5000 to 10000 feet. Bombing time was ~19:34 from 18000 to 20000 feet. No results were observed by any of the crews due to cloud cover. Bomber Command had three major targets this night, Ludwigshafen, Siegen and Mainz. 420 Squadron was detailed to attack Mainz. A total of 340 aircraft were involved, including 86 from 6 Group. The target was marked by sky-markers due to cloud cover. A small amount of damage and a few casualties resulted from scattered bombing. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
February 2: Ops on for fourteen to attack Wanne-Eickel. All attacked the primary target and returned safely. One diverted to another base. Got up at noon. We had nothing to do. But was busy in the afternoon and until 4 in the morning with ops. Takeoff was at 8 and they returned at 2 am. KW (425 Squadron) sent 15 and PT sent 14 kites. Rained a little, everything is fairly waterlogged too. Bomb loads were 10x500 plus 6x250. Takeoff time ~20:05. Due to unforecast winds the crews had to adjust the planned flight path to reach the target on time. Completely overcast over target to 8000 feet. Crews used Gee, flares and red glow through clouds for target marking. Target attacked at ~23:19 from 18000 to 20000 feet. Some crews reported large explosions seen through clouds. The target for 420 Squadron bombers was Wanne-Eickel and the oil refinery there. Bomber Command sent 323 aircraft to this target. Of these 107 came from 6 Group. Bombing was not accurate due to cloud cover. Local authorities reported minimal damage. (BC-4; 6 Group-1)
February 3: Not on ops. Limited flight training today. Got up at 10 am to tend to a Spit. They have been coming in all day for fuel etc. Then four Hallies were ferried in and a Lanc landed just at dark.
February 4: Twenty planes were detailed for ops. Seven were to attack Bonn and thirteen to attack Osterfeld. All were successful and all returned to base save one which was low on petrol and landed away. Early morning ops were scrubbed as expected but they took off at 5 tonight and will be back around midnight. Got up at 10 am. Had one more Hally in for repair and inspection (R&I) and another Lanc, which took off again. This is my last night of Duty Crew so hope the kites return safely by midnight. Bomb loads for Osterfeld were 2x1000, 8x250 and 6x500 ANM64 or 6x250,7x500AN-M64 and 1x500. For Bonn the planes carried 1x2000 plus 11x #15 clusters (158x4). Takeoff time was ~17:44 for both targets. Osterfeld was attacked ~21:10 from 17000 to 19000 feet through overcast cloud using Gee and red glow seen through the clouds. Bonn was attacked through overcast conditions at 20:46 from 18000 to 19000 feet using Gee and PFF TI's. No results were observed at either target. Bomber Command sent the squadron's bombers to attack the benzol factory at Osterfield as part of a force of 123. The attack was not successful. Similarly, the attack on Bonn by 238 bombers was not successful with scattered bombing. 6 Group provided a total on 100 aircraft for each raid. Bonn:(BC-3; 6 Group-2) Osterfeld (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
February 5: Ops on and then takeoff delayed twice before cancelled. Flight training continued. New information states that a tour is now 36 trips. Finished Duty Crew this morning and spent the morning getting my blankets and stuff back to barracks. Got to bed at 2 am after the kites returned. All returned safely and are to go again at 8 pm.
February 6: Bad weather cancelled flying. Two crews went to Rippon for dinghy practice. A simulation of POW interrogation was practiced. A number of aircrew members were screened today. First day of work after Duty Crew which was very easy as tonight's ops were scrubbed but had to take down belly overloads just at dusk on "D" and "C". Rather nasty day due to it raining almost all afternoon.
February 7: Ops through for sixteen aircraft to attack Goch. Seven were successful but the rest aborted because of complete cloud cover over the target and the Master Bomber could not be heard. Got up fairly early and didn't have much to do as op were scrubbed last night. But they finally got off at 7 tonight so there will be plenty to do tomorrow again. Got a letter from MO today. Bomb loads were 8x250 plus 8x500. Takeoff time ~19:00. Those crews that did attack the target dropped their bombs ~22:20 from 10000 to 12000 feet through stratus clouds and haze on red and green TI's. Some crews reported fighter activity and flares in the targey area. Bomber Command sent 464 aircraft, 200 from 6 Group, to attack Goch in aid of the British XXX Corp. Goch was heavily fortified by the Germans as part of their line of defence to protect Germany. Although the target was covered in cloud the bombing was accurate because the Master Bomber brought the force below the clouds and bombing was carried out from about 5000 ft. The attack was called off after only half the bombers had dropped their bombs due to smoke and debris. Much of Goch sustained damage. Unfortunately casualties included about 150 forced labour prisoners who were brought in to the town. (BC-2; 6 Group-0)
February 8: Ops for sixteen to attack Wanne-Eickel. Takeoff delayed until early morning of February 9. Ops were on and off all day and are now rescheduled for 11 tonight. I am on so it looks like I will earn my keep. Have a pretty good crew on with me so it will be OK. Didn't get away today. Weather is only fair.
February 9: Planes took off at 3 am. All attacked the primary and returned safely. Further ops through at 10 but then cancelled. Kites took off at 3:30 am so we came back and went to bed and got up at 9:30 when they returned. All my four were in good shape and so I started a good 36 at noon today. No mail. It is raining again and it looks like it will be wet for awhile. One of Linton 426 kites blew up on takeoff. Bomb loads were 8x500 plus 8x250. Takeoff time ~03:00. The crews used Gee and TI's to identify the target area which was partially cloud covered. Crews bombed at ~06:20 from 18000 to 19500 feet. Crews saw many explosions and a considerable amount of smoke coming from the target area. Some crews reported icing conditions. 6 Group contributed 98 bombers of a force of 228 aircraft sent by Bomber Command to attack the oil refinery at Wanne-Eickel. Bombing was scattered with no damage reported to the refinery. (BC-2; 6 Group-1)
February 10: Not on ops. Flight training carried out during the day with five crews on cross countries. Party on tonight for air men of 420 Squadron. Much free beer and sandwiches. Got up at noon today. Played billiards and ping pong at the YMCA with George Young. Will write some letters. There is a squadron party tonight.
February 11: Bad weather cancelled flight training. Not on ops. Pilots and engineers were given lectures on engine oiling and one on opertions of 100 Group. Got up late. It was after 2 am before we got to sleep. No flying at all today. Had a good talk with McCarthy so maybe we will get some results and less trouble from McCulough. It snowed some last night and today and the weather still looks pretty poor. Wrote home.
February 12: Bad weather cancelled flying. Aircrews were lectured on army cooperation. Raining when we got up this morning. Rained off and on all day and night. So we did little work all morning and a stand down this afternoon. So I wrote some letters. Had a good game of billiards with Cam. The Big Three Conference ended.
February 13: Ops through for fourteen aircraft to attack Bohlen. All attacked the primary target. All were diverted. One, "J" flown by F/Lt McHolm is missing. Got up rather late and missed breakfast but got out to work on time. Weather fair but we had one on training this morning and sent eight on ops 5:30. Kites are to be diverted. B-Flight "X" was a no starter so "F" went. No mail. Missed pay parade tonight so will wait till next one. Raining a little tonight. Bomb loads consisted of 8x500 plus 4x250 or 4x500. Takeoff time ~17:50. The target was overcast (10/10's cloud) with cloud tops to 12000 feet. Target was marked with flares and Master Bomber adjusted the attack. Some crews orbited target to ensure bombing point identification. Crews bombed ~22:00 from 17000 to 20000 feet. Crews reported flares were somewhat scattered. Some reported seeing glow of explosions/fires through the clouds. All the crews diverted to Mendlesham. NR141 "J", flown by F/Lt McHolm, was running low on fuel so decided to land at Juvincourt in France to refuel. This bomber was initially reported as missing.
Below is the page from Sgt Wally Gibson's log book for the date and the telegram notification sent to his wife on February 14, 1944. This was followed the next day with a telegram saying the crew had landed in France and were all safe. Wally was the engineer for F/Lt McHolm (Provided by K. Gibson).
Bomber Command sent 420 Squadron's planes to Bohlen as part of a force of 368. 6 Group contributed 115 planes. The target was a synthetic oil plant. The crews were faced with clouds to 15,000 feet and icing. Bombing was scattered with no results. On the same night Bomber Command began Operation Thunderclap to attack a number of large centers (Dresden, Berlin, Leipzig and Chemnitz) critical to Germany's war effort. Just under 800 Lancasters accompanied by nine Mosquitoes attacked Dresden in two waves. Almost 1500 tons of bombs were dropped on the target. The resulting firestorm, similar to what Hamburg experienced in 1943, burned out many areas of the city and killed between 40,000 and 50,000 people. The night attack was followed by a daylight raid by 311, US B-17's to add to the destruction. (BC-1; 6 Group-0)
February 14: Nine aircraft through for ops to attack Chemnitz. All took off and eight bombed the target and returned. One "B" was an early return due to engine failure. It crashed. Only upper gunner F/Sgt Giles, survived. "J" flown by F/L McHolm reported safe in France after landing. Limited flight training undertaken. A fairly nice day. Kites returned at noon and "C" is right back on again at 4:30. Had a cooler to change on "A" and a lot of work on "D". Last night and tonight they went to the other side of Berlin. "B" of our flight returned early and undershot by half a mile and everything is spread all over. One of the crew got out. Pilot was Anderson I knew him well. My "J" was lost last night. Bombloads were 12x500. Takeoff time ~17:00. The target was bombed at ~21:10 through mostly cloudy (8/10's) conditions from 19000 to 19500 feet using red TI's as aiming point. Crews reported good concentration of fires. Also some fighter activity was noted. Killed in the crash of "B" were F/O W. Anderson, Sgt H. Evans, F/O J. Sinden, F/O L. Jones, F/O S. Hay, and P/O E. Sills. Bomber Command continued with Operation Thunderclap and sent over 700 aircraft, 118 from 6 Group to Chemnitz only to find it covered in cloud. Bombing was scattered with minimal damage to the target. (BC-13; 6 Group-3)
February 15: Bad weather cancelled all flying ops and training. F/L McHolm and crew returned in "J" from Juvincourt, France where they landed short of fuel. No ops after last night's "B" crash. "J" landed in France and returned tonight safely. Fairly foggy today so even training was scrubbed. So we worked hard on all the kites and now have them in pretty good condition. I work tomorrow so hope it is not too busy.
February 16: Bad weather again cancelled flying. Notification for early morning ops came through. A pretty hazy day all day so we didn't have even training but had to get ready for early ops and was called back to change fuel loads. So we look like having it fairly easy until called out early.
February 17: Fifteen through for ops. Fourteen did not attack target and brought their bombs back on orders from Master Bomber who cancelled attack due to visibility. All aircraft diverted. "X" flown by F/O Stock is missing. All were to be out by 8 am and they took off by 11:30 which was surprising as it is still pretty foggy. We sent 15 and 425 Squadron sent 13. I started a 36 at noon. Got mail. Bomb loads were 12x500. Takeoff time was ~11:30. Only one crew from the squadron dropped their bomb load before the attack was cancelled by the Master Bomber. "X" crashed in England killing pilot F/O M. Stock, Sgt B. Crollie, F/O R. Trout, F/O R. Floripe, P/O T. O'Kane, F/O D. Neil. Bomber Command sent almost over 300 planes, including 110, to Wesel. Due cloud cover the bombing was stopped just as it started by the Master Bomber. (BC-3; 6 Group-0)
February 18: All diverted aircraft returned to base. All the crew of "X" was killed except for rear gunner F/Sgt Beason. Jim came to see us today. George Mil??? came over from Linton. Went to see Reg in hospital. Lost "X" from B-Flight last night. It crashed in Scotland.
February 19: Bad weather cancelled flying today. W/O McCullough gave lecture to pilots and engineers on the hydraulic systems of the Halifax III. Fairly busy all day. The kites returned yesterday and "A" went in for an inspection. No mail today.
February 20: Thirteen aircraft through for ops to Monheim. All attacked primary target and returned safely. Flight training continued with check outs and x-countries. "A" came out of "Repair and Inspection" and this afternoon after a runup we had to change the port inner cooler. So with one thing and another have been busy all day. Got a letter from home today. Ops again tonight. Bomb loads 12x500. Takeoff time ~22:05. Target overcast so crews used Gee and TI's to bomb. Target attacked ~01:44 from 14000 to 16000 feet. Crews reported some fighter activity. 420 squadron was part of 112 aircraft sent from 6 Group to attack Monheim. This was essentially an all 6 Group show as only 16 aircraft came from other groups. The target was the refinery at Monheim. Bombing was accurate with damage to the refinery. (BC-2; 6 Group-2)
February 21: Fourteen aircraft through for ops to attack Worms. All successfully attacked the target and returned safely. Some crews were screened today. Kites all returned safely but nine have plenty of snags. I still have work to do on "D" tomorrow and "A" went tonight on ops even though it was not top notch. Weather foggy all day and still foggy at takeoff. 1x2000plus 8x#15 clusters (150x4). Takeoff time ~16:30. Crews identified target in good visibility by red and green TI's. Bombing occurred at 20:37 from 17500 to 18000 feet. Crews reported seeing extensive fires in the target area up to 50 miles away. Crews reported some fighter activity in the area. Bomber Command sent 349 aircraft to attack Worms. 6 Group contributed 111 aircraft to this number. Over 1000 tons of bombs were dropped on the target with almost 65% of the buildings in the community damaged or destroyed. Over 200 people were killed. (BC-11; 6 Group-6)
February 22: No ops for squadron. Limited training undertaken. Weather fair. Still trouble of low rev's on "A" but it went on ops last night OK. It is still the same after working on it all day. No mail.
February 23: Seventeen aircraft on ops for attack on Essen. All took off. Fifteen successfully attacked the primary target. One, "R", was an early return due to u/s hydraulics. Another experienced severe icing and had to abort the mission. All returned to base. Information through about the following airmen missing on the night of January 16, 1945. F/O Webb and F/O Welk are believed to have been killed and P/O Haacke, P/O Mackay and P/O Skidmore are POW's . An early call out and we got ten away by noon. They returned at six and we had to go out and work on "J". "A" is still the same. Will put jet boxes in tomorrow. No mail today. Bomb load consisted of 1x2000, 12x#17 AN-M clusters (110x4). Takeoff was ~12:00. The planes flew in "gaggle". The target was cloud covered so Gee was used to identify target area. Bombs were dropped ~15:09 from 16000 to 17000 feet. "C" received flak damage. Essen was the target for this daylight raid. Bomber Command sent 342 aircraft to specifically attack the Krupps works. 6 Group provided 119 aircraft. The bombing was very accurate. (BC-1; 6 Group-0)
February 24: Fourteen aircraft on ops to bomb Kamen. All took off and successfully completed the mission. Another early call to get them away by 1 pm. All returned last night. Finally got "A" back to normal. An American Havoc (night fighter) crash landed on the drome this evening. No one hurt. A "Fort" came in just before our own returned from ops. So had to look after it. Bomb load 16x500. Takeoff time ~12:50. Planes flew in "gaggle" formation. The target was overcast so crews determined aiming point by Gee. Target attacked at ~16:50 from 16000 to 17000 feet. 6 Group contributed 110 of the 340 aircraft sent by Bomber Command to attack the oil plant just north of Kamen. Damage was severe in the village of Bergkamen and the central part of Kamen. The oil plant appears to not have sustained any damage. Over 220 people were killed. (BC-1; 6 Group-1)
February 25: No ops or flight training. Link training and dinghy drills. Woke up to a very windy day but we did not have a great deal to do as there was no flying today. Had a little work to do on "C" in the morning. Plan to go to church and write some letters in the YMCA.
February 26: No ops today but thirteen on cross-country training. In the afternoon there was a parade where trophies were given to the squadron for Gunnery. Still rather windy but we had a few on training. Did very little today. There is a call out tonight so will be an early call tomorrow.
February 27: Sixteen aircraft on day ops to raid Mainz. All were successful and safely returned but "J" flown by F/L Ledingham was damaged by bombs falling from above. Early call this morning but the kites did not get away until noon so won't be back until 7 or 8 tonight. We sent ten of them so it will be a busy night and I am on so I could get away on my leave. Bomb load was 1x2000 plus 11 clusters MK14 (106x4). Takeoff time was ~12:56. Planes flew in "gaggle" formation with fighter cover. The target was completely overcast so target was identified by green smoke puffs. Bombs were dropped at 16:30 from 17000 to 18000 feet. Bomber Command sent a daylight raid of 458 aircraft to Mainz. 6 Group contributed 187 to the effort. The target was obscured by cloud so sky-markers were used for aiming points. The bombers successfully dropped over 1500 tons of bombs with good concentration. Almost 5700 buildings were damaged or destroyed in and around the city centre. Over 1100 people were killed. (BC-2; 6 Group-0)
February 28: No ops but extensive training with nineteen aircrews involved. All kites returned safely but "J" had about 6 feet of the port wingtip knocked off by a bomb. Bob Ledingham was flying it and he did well to bring it back as his aerilons were useless. We had two bowsers. I drove one so we finished by 1:30 which was good as they landed at 8 pm. Len and I got our passes and got the 1:30 to York and will leave tonight on the 1 am train.
March 1, 1945: Ops through for thirteen bombers. All were successful except for "E" flown by F/O Howard. Over the target it was found the bomb bay doors would not open. Information through that P/O Simmons who was missing on the night of May 3 1944 is considered deceased. Arrived at Gravesend in the afternoon. Bomb loads consisted of 1x2000 plus 11xMk14 clusters (106x4). Takeoff time was ~11:45. Planes flew in "gaggle" formation. Bombing was done at ~15:14 from 17500 to 19000 feet through complete overcast with cloud tops to 10000 feet. Master Bomber instructed crews to bomb on blue smoke puffs. No fighters. Bomber Command made an area bombing raid on Mannheim with 478 bombers. 6 Group contributed 160 aircraft. (BC-3; 6 Group-0)
March 2: Ops through for fourteen aircraft to attack Cologne. All were successful and returned safely. (Gravesend) The rocket bombs are pretty thick here and come in quite regularly. Bomb loads 16x500. Takeoff time 07:15. Crews bombed through mostly cloudy skies around 10:16 from 17500 to 18500 feet. Crews bombed on Gee and blue smoke puffs. Master Bomber instructed "pickwick" (Code for dropping bombs 200 yards short of markers.) Visibility was very good with ground features seen through breaks in cloud. Crews reported seeing many fires in the city. For its last attack on Cologne of the war Bomber Command sent 858 bombers including 182 from 6 Group. The bombing was very accurate. The city was essentially on the front lines by this time. It was occupied by American troops on March 6. (BC-9; 6 Group-1)
March 3: Ops were cancelled for today. New orders read to pilots. Training flights were carried out by fifteen aircraft. (Gravesend) A noisy night with sirens, buzz bombs and rocket bombs. Lots of American bombers going over.
March 4: Air raid during last night but appears to be a false alarm. Ops cancelled for tonight. Pilots attended lecture on new autopilot "George". Everyone went to church. (Gravesend) Got up late again. Another noisy night of planes, sirens, buzz bombs and rocket bombs.
March 5: Ops through for fifteen aircraft Chemnitz. NA184 "W" piloted by P/O Clark crashed, 1.5 miles NE of Dishforth, Yorkshire, shortly after takeoff killing Pilot P/O EW Clark, Sgt J Kirby, F/O W Oakes, P/O J Epoch. NA190 "U" with pilot P/O R. Sollie, Sgt R. Dinnen, P/O W. Gaba, F/O E. Kaechele, F/O R. Smith, P/O R. Battler crashed near Haslwood Castle, Yorshire. F/Sgt J Waugh, mid upper gunner baled out and was the only survivor of the crew. "R" flown by F/Lt McHolm was an early return due to icing. Three, "F", "V" and "H" landed in France because of fuel shortage. R144 "H" flown by P/O Manary crashed while attempting land but the crew was not injured. The rest of the planes diverted to the east coast of England due to fuel shortages. NP959 "N" flown by F/Lt Glover is missing. (Reigate) Left Gravesend for Reigate. Bomb loads 12x500. Takeoff time ~16:35. Crews reported severe icing between 4000 and 11000 feet on the climb to altitude over England. Crews bombed at ~21:55 from 17000 feet on red and green flares. A large explosion in the target area was seen by many crews. Some crews reported fighter activity on the route to target. A number of crews landed in France low on petrol. NP959 "N" flown by F/Lt V. Glover was missing. All the crew were later reported as POW's except P/O J. Kastner who was killed. Bomber Command sent 760 bombers to Chemnitz as a continuation of Operation Thunderclap. 6 Group contributed 183 aircraft. The attack started horrifically. Icing conditions caused nine crashes from 6 Group Squadrons shortly after takeoff. 426 was extremely hard hit with three Halifaxes going down. These losses were in addition to the 22 lost on the operation itself. The attack appears to have caused substantial damage to the city. (BC-22; 6 Group-6)
March 6: Crews diverted are returning to base. (Reigate) Had a relaxing day walking around and playing darts.
March 7: A dozen aircraft on ops for Hemmingstedt. All were successful and return to base safely. Crews that landed in France returned today. (Reigate) American 1st Army across the Rhine at Remagen. Bomb load 12x500. Takeoff time ~1830. Visibility good. TI's used to pinpoint aiming point. Crews dropped bombs ~22:03 from 9000 to 12000 feet. Crews encountered some heavy flak and some reported enemy fighter flares and searchlight activity. Bomber Command flew over 1250 sorties this night to various targets. The squadron's bombers were sent to Hemmingstedt, along with 281 others, to attack the refinery. The attack was unsuccessful as the bombs fell a couple of miles from the intended target. (BC-5; 6 Group-?)
March 8: Ops through for fourteen to Hamburg. All were successful and made a safe return to base. A number of aircrew members were screened today. Squadron was informed that P/O Surles who was reported missing on August 16/17, 1944 is presumed dead as is P/O Hansford who was reported missing on the night of April 24, 1944. (Norwich) Left Reigate to visit friends in Norwich. Bomb loads were 8x500 plus 8 x250. Takeoff time ~18:19. Target area was almost completely overcast. Crews identified target by PFF TI skymarker flares. Bombs were dropped at ~21:26 from 18500 to 20000 feet. A large explosion in the target area was reported by a few crews. Enemy fighter activity was seen by crews on both the inward and outward routes. Bomber Command sent 312 aircraft, including 85 6 Group bombers, to attack the shipyards at Hamburg in an attempt to disrupt the construction of new U-boats. Hamburg was covered in cloud and the raid was not successful. (BC-1; 6 Group-1)
March 9: Ops were on but then scrubbed. Very limited training. (Norwich) Had a relaxing visit and did little but stroll and eat.
March 10: No ops. On a check out flight "F" was crashed on diversion to Carnaby. Crew was not injured. Left Norwich for base. Arrived at camp to find B-flight had lost three kites and 425 Squadron lost six all in one night. Then a Jerry flew over one night and strafed the drome but no one was hurt. Another base had a number of kites shot up and a WAAF was killed.
March 11: Fourteen on ops for Essen. All crews attacked the primary target and returned safely. "J" is still away with the wing change. "A", "D" and "C" took off at 12:20 on a daylight so will be back by supper time. Kites returned safely and did DI's. Writing some letters. Bomb loads consisted of 10x500 plus 6x250. Takeoff time ~11:45. Good visibility above overcast clouds. Target marked by blue puffs of smoke. Crews bombed at 15:13 form 17200 to 19000 feet. Some heavy flak to 17500 over target. Bomber Command sent 1079 bombers to Essen. 6 Group contributed 196 bombers to this mission. Bombing was done on sky markers laid down with the assistance of Oboe. Essen was entirely cloud covered. Bombing was accurate with over 4600 tons of bombs dropped. The city essentially quit functioning. There is an indication that over 800 people were killed. This was the last raid by Bomber Command on this city. (BC-3; 6 Group-2)
March 12: Daylight ops on for fourteen aircraft to attack Dortmund. All were successful. One, flown by P/O Ford, had an engine failure on the way to target but was able to continue on and complete the mission successfully. Kites off again a noon and returned by 7 pm. They are now all ready to go again. Got some mail today. Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff time ~12:57. The target was overcast with cloud tops to about 6000 feet. Crews bombed on TI blue and green smoke puffs at ~16:48 with instructions from Master Bomber. Bombing heights were from 14600 to 18000 feet. "E" flown by P/O Ford had the starboard inner go u/s making it late over target. Crews reported billows of black smoke coming up through clouds from target area. Again this night Bomber Command was able to muster over 1000 bombers to attack a single target, Dortmund. 6 Group provided 192 aircraft for the attack. Damage was so severe that essentially all production came to a standstill. Over 4800 tons of bombs were dropped on the city. (BC-2; 6 Group-0)
March 13: Ops through for fourteen bombers to attack Wuppertal. "N" returned early because an engine was u/s shortly after takeoff. Another returned on three engines after completing the mission. Ops on again today. Takeoff was around noon. Had three exhaust stubs to change on "C". All returned by 7 pm. "E" and "M" on three engines. "N" of B-flight was an early return and one of 425's. Bomb loads 1x200 4x#17 AM-M clusters, (110x4) plus 6xMK14 clusters (106x4). Takeoff time was ~12:58. Target was almost completely covered by cloud. Crews bombed on blue smoke puffs as instructed by Master Bomber. Some reported marking was very poor. Bombing was done at 16:08 from 1900 to 20000 feet. No reports of enemy fighters. 6 Group provided 100 aircraft to the 354 sent by Bomber Command to Wuppertal. Cloud again interfered with the accuracy of the attack. The area of Barmen was heavily damaged with 526 fatalities. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
March 14: Zweibrucken was the target for fourteen aircraft. All were successful. Takeoff was at 16:00 so kites won't be back until 20:00. Lord Ha Ha has promised he will raid the "whiskey drinking lumberjacks" of 6 Group again so we will be expecting him. Bomb loads were 15x500. Takeoff time 16:50. Weather over the target was clear. Crews identified the target area using Gee and TI's. Crews bombed ~20:16 from 10000 to 14000 feet. Some crews witnessed a very large explosion and a number of fires in the target area. Enemy aircraft were not present. Bomber Command sent 230 bombers, 196 from 6 Group, to Zweibrucken to disrupt German troop movements in the area. The raid was successful with the town being devastated, 80% of its buildings were destroyed or damaged. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
March 15: Ten bombers on ops for a daylight attack on Castrop-Rauxel and then seven more for night op to Hagen. Both targets were successfully attacked and all returned. One aircrew in the raid to Hagen engaged a night fighter. Easy day. We were called out to "D". I helped gas up the kites by driving the bowser. I am on tomorrow. Castrop-Rauxel: Bomb loads included 16x500. Takeoff time ~12:55. Visibility was good with some haze over target. Planes flew in "gaggle" formation with fighter cover. Crews used Gee and TI's for identifying target. Bombing occurred ~16:06 from 18500 feet. Master Bomber instructed some crews to "pickwick" (Overshoot by 1 second). Crews reported smoke to 15000 feet and explosions in the target area. Smoke from the attack could be seen from 125 miles away. "P" and "K" were hit by flak over the target area causing slight damage. Hagen: Bomb loads consisted of 1x2000 plus 12 #14 clusters. Takeoff time 17:00. Crews used Gee and TI flares to identify aiming point and target area. Visibility was good with some haze. Crews bombed 20:35 from 17000 to 19000 feet. Crews reported observing many fires and explosions in the target area. Many enemy fighters launching flares on return flight. "V" exchanged fire with a enemy aircraft. Bomber Command detailed 188 bombers to two targets, Bottrop and Castrop-Rauxel to bomb the benzol plants. The raids were successful. On the night operation Bomber Command sent 267 bombers to Hagen. 6 Group contributed 70 aircraft to the effort. Bombing was successful resulting in an estimated 30000 people being left homeless. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
March 16: No ops. Fairly easy day with a little training. Got done work just before midnight.
March 17: Ops for fourteen were cancelled. Little going on today. Jerry came over about 10 and dropped some flares and we saw some tracers.
March 18: Thirteen planes detailed to bomb Witten. F/O Manery had to land his plane on three engines. One, "Q", reported as missing. Got up before noon and went to a lecture. Then went to church in the evening. Bomb loads were 1x2000, 4x#14 clusters plus 8x#17 clusters. Takeoff time ~00:20. Visibility was good over target with only a slight haze. Crews bombed at ~04:20 from 15700 to 16000 feet on Gee and TI's. Crews reported many fires and smoke in the target area. Fighter flares were abundant over target area. The rear gunner of NR138 "T" saw an ME110 from 800 yards and the pilot, P/O Trudell, performed a corkscrew starboard while the rear gunner and mid upper gunner fired at it. Hits were seen on the enemy plane and it was claimed as damaged. This crew faced a second enemy aircraft on this night. In this case it was an ME410 and the rear gunner, Thompson and upper gunner Fandrick fired on it while the pilot made a corkscrew to port. This plane was also hit by the machine guns and is claimed as damaged. MZ910 "Q" flown by F/O Keeper was reported missing. All the crew of "Q" were reported as POW's except F/O Armstrong who was killed. Bomber Command sent 324 bombers to attack Witten. 6 Group's contribution was 83. The town was devastated. Over 60% of it was destroyed or damaged. (BC-8; 6 Group-2)
March 19: Bad weather cancelled all but ground school. Fairly easy day but have a bit of work to do on "A".
March 20: Ops on but then cancelled. A signal came through that Sgt Jacobs(?) is a prisoner of war. Not much doing.
March 21: Fifteen bombers on ops. All crews were successful and returned to base safely. One landed on only two engines. Jerry came over last night but no trouble. Went on a gun lecture today and shot 60 out of 70. It was my first time handling a 303. Bomb loads 16x500. Takeoff time ~14:45. Clear weather with some haze over the target. Planes flew in "gaggle". Crews used Gee and yellow TI's to identify aiming area. Bombed at ~17:31 from 11700 to 12000 feet. Attack resulted in many small explosions and fires. Crews reported good fighter cover and a number of medium US aircraft. LV953 and "D" was hit by flak over target causing slight damage. NR290 was hit by flak causing the starboard outer to over rev and catch fire. Starboard inner was also damaged. Crew diverted and made a successful landing. Bomber Command attacked Rheine with 178 bombers. Half of the bombers came from 6 Group. The attack damaged the railways in the town. (BC-1; 6 Group-0)
March 22: Ops through for seventeen to bomb Dorsten. All got away but F/O Toderan was an early return with an u/s engine. One plane flown by P/O McKenzie had all their bombs hang up. Kites returned last night in fair shape. Had some flak but are going again today. "D" had a piece of flak in the #10 cylinder of the port inner so R&I have to change the engine. Also the rear pump seal had blown on "A" so I changed that. Bomb loads were 14x500. Takeoff ~11:55. Good visibility over the target. Planes flew in "gaggle" formation with fighter escort flying over head. Crews identified the target using Gee, visually and yellow TI's. Master Bomber adjusted attack as it went on. Bombing occurred at ~14:35 from 16200 to 16800 feet. Crews reported a number of explosions and lots of black smoke over target area causing visibility problems later in the raid. Bomber Command attacked Dorsten with 124 bombers. The majority, 100, came from 6 Group. The objective of the attack were the railways, canals and fuel depot. All targets were thought to be damaged. (BC-0; 6 Group-0)
March 23: No ops through for today but preparations were made for early, 04:00, ops tomorrow. Aircrews were sent to bed early in the afternoon. Worked on "A" and some work on our jack stands. "D" came out of R&I this afternoon. We still have not got "J". A gunner of 425 squadron was killed by a bomb truck and trailer. A horrible sight.
March 24: The bombers took off at 09:00. All returned safely. One aborted the sortie. Ops on again for the early morning. An early call and they took off by 9 am. "C" returned early with a blown prop seal. The rest returned OK. Had to change a cooler on "A". Worked steady all day. Same thing tomorrow. Monty crossed Rhine at Wesel. Bomb loads consisted of 16x500. Takeoff time ~09:15. "C" had an oil seal "blow" shortly after takeoff so jettisoned bombs and returned early. Visibility was hazy over target. The crews identified the target using Gee and visually. Bombed at 13:03 from 16200 to 17000 feet. Aiming points were marked with red and green TI's. Master Bomber adjusted the attack as it went on. Crews reported a number of explosions and smoke. "F" was hit by flak over the target. Bomber Command sent 175 bombers to Gladbeck. Again 6 Group contributed 100 aircraft to the effort. The town was virtually destroyed. (BC-1; 6 Group-0)
March 25: Nineteen were detailed for ops. Crews were awoken at 01:30 and takeoff was at 07:00. The bomber flown by F/Sgt Bryan swung on takeoff and the crew had to change planes. The bombers all were diverted until late evening after attacking the primary target. The aircraft flown by P/O Bagnell received flak damage. F/O Gordon landed his plane on three engines at Carnaby. I am on. Kites left at 6:30 but could not get back. Some went to Disforth and some to Middleton. Some of the boys and myself went to send them back when the fog lifted. They were a really green lot over there with regards to engines. At takeoff this morning one of Linton's lost control and the undercarriage buckled and caught fire and finally blew up. No one was hurt. Bomb loads consisted of 1x2000 plus 12x#14 clusters. Takeoff time was ~07:15. Clear visibility with some ground haze. A number of crews reported some icing. The target was identified by Gee, visually and by TI's. Bombed at ~10:15 from 18500 to 19000 feet. Crews reported smoke and explosions in target area. About half of the bombers were hit by flak causing slight damage. The crew of "L" reported seeing a bomber on fire and then exploding. Four chutes were seen. The same crew witnessed another bomber on fire but no chutes seen. This crew also had the port outer go u/s and diverted to Carnaby. Bomber Command sent a small force of 267 bombers to Munster. 6 Group provided 99 aircraft. The attack caused substantial damage. (BC-3; 6 Group-3)
March 26: No ops today. There are plans for a party for tomorrow night to be held in the Airmen Naafi. Had it easy. Got done about 11. So am planning to sleep a lot. Lloyd George died.
March 27: No ops but some limited flight training. A successful party was held. Another easy day. Big party for 420 Squadron. Argentina declares war on Germany.
March 28: No ops. Bad weather resulted in no flying. Order through for all instruments in planes to be changed from miles to knots. Got all my four kites back now so am trying to keep them nice as we are supposed to get Lancs soon. 420 Squadron had won the trophy for top efficiency of the group.
March 29: No ops for today. "Looks as if there are no targets left!" Rainy morning. Did not do much work. Changed a flame trap on "J" this afternoon. "C" went on training in place of "D" which blew an hydraulics line. Got two parcels in the mail. One from the Quill Lake Baptist Ladies.
March 30: No ops for today and then ops for eighteen for early tomorrow came through at 20:00. No ops but lots of training. "J"'s brakes went bad so she didn't go and it looks like R&I will get them done. Everyone called out for DI's. I am working tomorrow night so will have a 36 off soon.
March 31: Crews were called at 01:30 and took off by 05:50. All were successful in attacking the primary target of Hamburg. The crews dropped their bombs on sky markers as the target was completely overcast. Kites took off about 4:30 am and returned shortly after noon. All returned safely. My turn to work again so it was pretty good as we were all finished by 7 pm even though we had a cooler on "A" and "D" besides our other work. Bomb loads were 16x500. Takeoff ~06:15. Target was overcast. Planes flew in "gaggle" with fighter cover. Crews used H2S and blue smoke puff TI's to identify the target. Crews bombed at~08:54 from 17200 to 17500 feet. Mater Bomber instructed crews to bomb on red smoke puff TI's. "P" reported seeing eight ME626's in the target area. The U-boat assembly yards at Hamburg were attacked by 469 from Bomber Command. 6 Group's contribution was 200 aircraft. The target was cloud covered resulting in the bombing being scattered. (BC-11; 6 Group-8)
April 1, 1945: Not on ops due to bad weather. Limited training carried out. All air men were to attend a special Easter Service. S/Ldr went to inspect our first Lancaster which is undergoing modifications. Went to work this morning and finished a few odds and ends from the ops last night. Went to church which was full.
April 2: Day ops on but then cancelled. Night ops on then cancelled. Got hair cut. Got mail. Rumour of early ops on tomorrow. Played catch with some of the boys.
April 3: Ops through again but cancelled. Early call at 6:30 am but on standby all day. Had to change a mag on "J".
April 4: Ops on again then scrubbed. Finally ops through for seventeen. All attacked primary target and returned safely. Takeoff finally at 8 pm. I volunteered for the Far East today. Ole Austenson got his repat today and is going tomorrow. He is a good pilot and deserves it. Bomb loads 16x500. Takeoff ~19:48. Broken cloud with tops to 6000 feet. Crews bombed on TI's and flares at ~22:32. Bombing height was 17000 to 18500. Crews reported many fires and some very large explosions. Some flak was encountered by some crews on route to target. Bomber Command detailed 327 to attack the Rhenania oil plant at Harburg. The squadron's planes were part of a force of 90 6 Group aircraft involved in the raid. The attack was successful. (BC-3; 6 Group-0)
April 5: No ops for today. Some training carried out. All kites returned safely from ops. It rained heavily soon after they landed so the night crew did not get much done. Got three parcels in the mail.
April 6: Not on ops. Training carried out in afternoon. Officers had a beer party in the mess. Nasty day today with steady rain. Still plenty of training. Had trouble with "A" and had to change an ES control cable and case in the rain. No mail today.
April 7: Conversion ground school began. Ops through but then cancelled. S/Ldr Buchannan flew the squadron's first Lancaster. P/O Slipper, who was the engineer of F/Lt Glover's crew arrived at the squadron after being liberated from a POW camp in Germany. A little training today. Our first training Lanc PT "W" came in today. Mark I. Merlin 22.
April 8: All crews went to church. Evening ops through for fifteen. All were successful and returned to diversion bases. Ops on tonight with takeoff at 7 pm. It looks like they might be diverted on return. Cam Woolett and Brown got their clearance papers signed today. Bomb loads were 8000 lbs (16x500). Takeoff time ~19:24. The target was completely overcast with tops to 5000 feet. Aiming point was marked with TI flares and identified with the aid of H2S. Master Bomber adjusted the bombing as required. Crews bombed ~22:31 from 17000 to 18000 feet. Many explosions and were seen through the clouds. Fighters were dropping flares along the bomber stream. One crew observed an ME262 jet following the bomber stream out to the channel. Bomber Command, in its final attack on Hamburg, sent 440 bombers to again bomb the shipyards. 6 Group contributed 190 aircraft to this attack. Clouds caused the bombs to be scattered. (BC-6; 6 Group-1)
April 9: Planes returned from diversion. No training on today. At 19:00 ops through for maximum effort and then reduced to twelve planes with briefing at 09:00. The squadron was able to raise $10000 over its goal in its Victory Loan drive. Still foggy this morning and the kites did not get back until this afternoon. DI's are done and overloads up and ready for the morning.
April 10: Ops through for thirteen aircraft for a day light raid against Leipzig. One early return. On duty all day and it was a tough one as takeoff was at 2 pm so they didn't return till nearly 10 pm. All returned safely. "J" returned early with a broken reduction gear on the port inner. So now she is in for her 300 hour inspection. Things went well and we got done at 2 am. Call 07:00. Nav briefing 08:00. Main briefing 09:00. Bomb loads consisted of 12x500. Takeoff time ~13:54. "J" was an early return due to engine u/s. Aircraft flew in a gaggle. Crews attacked ~18:00 from 16000 to 17000 feet. Bombing was done on TI's and with assistance from Master Bomber. Many explosions were seen in the target area and smoke rising to 7000 feet. The railways at Leipzig were attacked accurately by 230 bombers. Almost all, 200 aircraft, of the attacking force came from 6 Group. (BC-2; 6 Group-2)
April 11: Squadron had a stand down. Ground school for Lancaster conversion. Saw Cam, Bill and Eavry off on their way home.
April 12: Not on ops. Bad weather cancelled morning flight training. Screening policy changes now state that 33 trips are required for pilots. "J" came out of the hangar so will have to do a lot of work on her tomorrow.
April 13: Ops through for twenty bombers. All but one crew in "P" was diverted. Worked most of the morning on "J" as Squeak went on leave and left early. Twelve on ops for tonight. Roosevelt died suddenly last night. Nav briefing 14:30. Main briefing 15:30. Bomb loads consisted of 16x500. Takeoff time was ~20:20. The target was overcast to 3000 feet. Master bomber instructed the crews to prepare to attack an alternate target and then to attack on green flares. Crews attacked at ~23:34 from 15,500 to 19000 feet. Crews reported large explosions from attack seen through clouds. Most crews reported no fighter activity. Bomber Command sent 377 bombers to Kiel and its ports and U-boats. Over half, 210 aircraft, were from 6 Group. The attack was unsuccessful. (BC-2; 6 Group-2)
April 14: No flying. Planes returning through duff weather. Victory dance was held at the station cinema. Kites were diverted and did not return until afternoon. Rained all afternoon so we were miserable. Victory dance on tonight.
April 15: No ops. Training was carried out. "A" came back at noon and "J" flew on training. Got another Lanc in. 425 took "E" and "G" from us today.
April 16: No ops. Routine training. Ops set for early morning. Lots of training and ops for early tomorrow. So we will be up for an early call.
April 17: Prepared for early ops but were scrubbed at the last moment. A number of air crew members were screened from ops upon completing their first tour. Ops on for early morning. Ops scrubbed and now only training is going on. Did DI's on "J" and that will do until Squeak comes back. Got my uniform back.
April 18: Nineteen on morning ops. All took off and eighteen bombed the target and returned safely. NP946 "L" flown by P/O Dunnigan is missing. Crews reported seeing an aircraft crash into the sea on the way to the target. This was the last bombing attack by the squadron during the war. NP946 "L" was the last battle loss of the war for the 420 Squadron. Ops on. Takeoff in the morning. Came back about 3 pm. Call 06:00. Meals 06:30. Nav briefing 07:00. Main briefing 07:30. Bomb loads consisted of 9x1000 plus 4x500. Takeoff time ~10:00. Aircraft flew in a gaggle formation. Visibility was good over the target. Target was seen visually and bombing was on TI's at 12:30 from 18400. Crews reported the target area was covered in dust and smoke from explosions and fires resulting from the attack. Some crews reported seeing a number of ME262's and some crews encountered flak over the target. NP946 "L" with Pilot P/O WJ Dunnigan, F/Sgt RA McDonald, F/Sgt GF Montgomery, Sgt LF Murphy, F/O DM Neilson, F/sgt DA Newman, and F/O DF Ross were killed. Bomber Command sent 969 bombers to the island of Heligoland. 6 Group provided 112 aircraft for this raid. The bombs successfully destroyed the naval base, air base and town. Sent to R&I today. (BC-3; 6 Group-2)
April 19: No ops. Training underway. First two Lancaster X's were ferried to squadron. Had a crew given to me yesterday and it was their day off today so I get it off too. Tomorrow I am to go on a two-day lecture. We now have three Lancs in and are to get another six in the morning.
April 20: No ops. More conversion lectures for airmen and flying carried out by aircrews. Some more aircrews were screened today. My first day on the Lanc course, which is quite good. Hope I can get as much out of tomorrow's lectures. I am to go back to R&I.
April 21: Conversion training continued and regular flight training carried out. No night flying as we are on for early morning ops. Finished lectures today and so start in the hangar tomorrow but may soon be in the lecture room. Got mail today.
April 22: Ops through for seventeen bombers. All took off safely. All returned with their bombs. Signals came through that the squadron would stand down for a period of time in order to finish Lancaster conversion. I am finally in the hangar doing R&I's. May as well make the most of it. Did a little work on a Parkard Merlin 224, which was quite interesting. Last Halifax op for 420. We are now converting to Lanc X's. Call 03:00. Meals 03:30. Nav briefing 04:00. Main briefing 04:30. Upon arriving at the target the attack was called off by the Master Bomber. Crews returned with their bombs. Bomber Command sent 767 bombers to Bremen to "soften it up" for an attack by the British XXX Corps. 6 Group provided 200 bombers for the raid. Due to cloud cover the Master Bomber stopped the bombing before any of 420 squadron's Halifaxes dropped their bombs. (BC-2; 6 Group-0)