420 Squadron Hampden Period
January 1, 1942 to July 31 1942
Handley Page Hampden
The Handley Page Hampden Mark I bomber was nicknamed the "flying suitcase". It was powered by two 1,000 hp Bristol Pegasus XVIII nine cylinder radial engines. The wingspan was just over 69 feet and it was 53 ft 7 inches long. Empty the aircraft weighed 11780 lbs. Its all up weight was 18,756. Maximum speed 254 m/hr with a ceiling of 19000 ft and its effective range bombed up with 4000 lb of bombs was 1095 miles. The aircrew totalled four; pilot, observer/navigator (nav), wireless operator/gunner (wop/ag) and rear gunner (ag). Defensive armaments consisted of six 0.303 cal guns. One fixed gun firing striaght ahead used by the pilot and a moveable nose gun operated by the observer/navigator. Twin guns were mounted above and below amidships behind the cockpit and operated by the wireless/gunner and rear gunner. Although the Hampden was faster than the Wellington with the same bomb load and it had served well in the early stages of the war it was considered outdated and by April 1942 and was taken out of the operational front lines except for 408 and 420 squadrons. 1,432 were built including 160 in Canada.
The Canadian Museum of Flight located at the Regional Airport in Langley, British Columbia, Canada, has the only existing static display of a complete restored Hampden bomber (RAF P5436 built in 1942).
A good reference for this period is Sainty, P. J. 1988. "Zig-Zag"- The Hampdens of 420 (RCAF) Squadron. P.J. Sainty, Derby, England.
Misc directives etc from the Squadron Records:
The following were mixed among the records for the Hampden period.
Regarding Gunners (Paraphrased some what from the original.):
The ability to use the proper amount of muscular effort should be developed in training and will be a great asset for the gunners working in the confined spaces of the the turret. "Sound lungs" are required and should be enhanced by physical activity such as swimming and cross-country running. Breathing exercises should be practiced so they will be used when under strain. "Temperance in the use of nicotine" shall be practiced by all aircrews and "temperance in other directions." Excessive drinking of alcohol especially through "treating", "apart from it being against the King's Regulations", must be kept in check. Choose your drinks as you choose your food. It is important to get enough sleep. There is no place for the "bleary-eyed". Team games are good for the development of crew morale. Gunner's training in the last war were usually the duties of the pilot. Now with aircrews and turrets the air gunner's responsibility is greater. Requirements for a gunner include excellent mechanical understanding of guns. And they should be able to readily fix stoppages. Dismantling and assembly of the guns should be practiced until it can be performed blind folded.
Navigator/Bomb Aimer Crew Cards:
A: Action Immediately Detailed For Operation.
1. Check aircraft
2. See that aircraft is fitted with the following: Drift Sight, Computers (Height, air speed and bomb sight), C.S.C, bomb sight, air speed scale for bombs to be carried, vertical camera if required, smoke floats and sea markers, quadrantal error card, dinghy.
3. Check personal flying kit.
4. Check headphones and microphone.
5. Check harmonization of gun sights.
6. Check first aid kit.
7. See food supply is arranged.
8. Check oxygen supply.
9. Clear pockets of all personal and other documents.
10. Find out time required in morning and arrange call accordingly.
B: Information required.
1. Aim of flight including probable duration and period away from base.
2. Obtain starting times from Crew Room Board.
3. Flight Plan.
4. Meteorological Report.
5. Tactical methods to be employed: Formation and air to air signals for; cruising, attack and defence.
6. Method of selection and release of bombs.
7. Details of other members in the formation ie formation and section leaders and plane letters.
8. Details of actions to be taken if separated from formation.
9. Details of free bombing area.
10. Details of own forces.
11. Signal information: movement serial indicator, ID signal procedure, colours of the day, letters of the day and challenge letter, code word.
12. Situation and letter of home lighthouse and station beacon.
Notes on anti-submarine bombing:
1. The bombs should be released in stick method.
2. This method provides the best chance of success if the bombs are spaced well and the attack is made as soon as the submarine is spotted so that it has not had a chance to dive deep.
3. From past experience it appears the submarines keep a look out for planes and rarely have any been caught on the surface. Uusually only the wake of the periscope or the submerging submarine is seen. Some oil may also appear where the submarine has submerged.
4. Guide to pilot:
a: On diving after about 30 seconds the surface bubbles are usually about 450 feet from the stern of the submerged submarine.
b: Oil on the surface is likely from a leak or intentional.
(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. Supplemental information from various sources and my comments are in green bold italic. I have also included the aircraft losses for the particular missions as documented in Middlebrook and Everitt (1990) bold (BC-#) at the end of each applicable entry.)
January 1, 1942: Waddington Squadron in process of formation. CO J. Collier is presently attached to 44 Squadron as its commander. As well as its first CO, 420 Squadron received a number of personnel from 44 Squadron and their Handley Page Hampden I aircraft. The twenty-one aircraft were divided into "A" and "B" flights and a maintenance flight. 44 Squadron was one of the first squadrons to convert to the new Avro Lancaster.
January 2: Everything is in short supply including aircrews, ground crews and support staff and even tools to service the aircraft.
January 3: Local flying and test flights had begun. The navigators and wireless operators were given an instructional lecture on the Marconi Navigators Loop.
January 4: Church parade followed by aircrew lectures. Local test flying for aircrews. Games were purchased along with wirelesses (radios) for aircrews. Ultraviolet ray treatment provided. Only twelve Canadians were in the squadron.
January 5: Six full aircrews now part of the squadron. Lectures for aircrew and local flying. The aircraft are still being serviced with borrowed tools. The final hangar decorations were completed. Because of the reallocation of four aircraft the total number available to the squadron is eighteen.
January 6: The signal officer provided lectures to the aircrews on Morse and Aldis Lamp. Local flying during the day. A seventh aircrew is now operational. Bad weather prevented night flying. Further lectures given to navigators on equipment.
January 7: Day and night flying cancelled due to bad weather. Armourers practiced bombing up aircraft with various bomb loads.
January 8: Bombing lectures for aircrews. Cross-country and local flying. Another pilot reported to squadron bringing the total aircrews to eight. Bad weather grounded all night flying exercises.
January 9: Bombing practice and cross country flying undertaken. Aircrews lectured on photography.
January 10: Aircrews lectured on Drem and Controlled landings. S/Ldr Campbell, a native of Alberta, reported to squadron. Campbell assigned as leader of "A" Flight and is second in command of the squadron. p/o Spurway, the engineering officer for the squadron, was put in command of the maintenance flight for the squadron. S/Ldr M. C. McCulloch, F/Lt Pagwin and F/Lt Speer from RCAF Headquarters London toured the squadron. Weather permitted flying practice all day and night.
January 11: Sunday church parade for ground crews. Aircrews lectured on bombing and navigation. Tools for ground crew have finally arrived. Planned local practice flying was cancelled due to weather closing in and reduced visibility.
January 12: Aircrews lectured on gunnery and signals. Local flying and bombing practice carried out. Snow reduced night flying.
January 13: Snow prevented all flying. Lectures for aircrews. A full-scale simulation of operational preparations was carried out involving the bombing up and preparations of nine aircraft. All departments were found satisfactory except the armourers who were too slow in bombing up the aircraft.
January 14: Bad weather did not allow flying in the morning so lectures were given on pyrotechnics. The weather cleared by afternoon enabling five aircraft to practice bombing. Night flying was also undertaken.
January 15: Lectures for aircrews followed by flying. In the afternoon six aircrews practiced gunnery. More equipment arrived for squadron.
January 16: Aircrew lectures on signals and meteorology. Low level bombing was practiced in the morning. The squadron was visited by Padre F/Lt Davidson and a liaison officer with the YMCA, Mr. Daveny, to discuss the organization of sports teams for the squadron.
January 17: Morning lectures on aircraft maintenance followed by local flying around the airfield. In the afternoon F/Lt Shore lectured on escaped POW's. Shore successfully escaped from a German camp early in the war. Night flying undertaken.
January 18: Church service for all. Squadron made a successful low-level mock attack on Scampton airfield to provide practice for the squadron as well as for the Home Guard gunners and spotters.
January 19: CO Collier lectured aircrews on operational preparedness. Professor Thomas lectured aircrews in afternoon on smoke screens. Although snow made visibility poor aircraft practiced bombing.
January 20: Aircrew viewed a film on dinghy operations. Snow and ice prevented any flying.
January 21: "A Red-Letter day." The first operational sorties for the squadron were undertaken less than one month after it's formation. The squadron was "keen as mustard" to begin operations. Six aircraft were prepared for the squadron's first sorties. Five were to bomb Emden, bombing point "A", and the sixth was detailed for a gardening operation to the Frisian Islands. Bomb loads consisted of 4x500 plus 2x250. Take off time was ~17:20. Visibility ranged from good to cloud cover. Crews bombed from 11000 to 12000 feet at ~20:07. One crew, flown by F/Sgt Pinney, bombed an alternate site in the town of Emden. Crews reported some explosions and fires in the target area. Heavy and light flak was intense over the target area. F/O Gibson's crew released their mine in the target area from a height of 700 feet. The rear gunner reported the parachute opened successfully. The five were part of 38 aircraft that attacked Emden, Germany. One of the squadron's aircraft, AE130 "S", failed to return. "S" was flown by S/Ldr pilot V.T.L. Wood (OC of B-Flight) and his crew of nav Sgt. D.D. Grealy, wop/ag Sgt D.G. Semple, ag Sgt R.L. Bott. All were later listed as POW's. (BC-4)
January 22: One aircraft flew a gardening mission to the Frisian Islands. To replace S/Ldr Wood, F/Lt G.L.B. Harris was promoted to S/Ldr of B-Flight. F/O Smith's crew flying Hampden 132 took off at 17:30 and successfully planted one mine from 500 feet. The aircraft was diverted on return.
January 23: Weather conditions were terrible with snow, rain, ice and mist. All flying cancelled. The aircrews were lectured on first aid by the medical officer. In the afternoon various plane drills were carried out.
January 24: Thawing occurred. Airfield unserviceable.
January 25: Church services were held. At night two planes practiced circuits and local cross-country.
January 26: Six aircraft flew a gardening operation to the Frisian Islands with one returning early due to engine trouble. Each plane was loaded with a single mine. Take off time was ~18:00. F/Sgt Pinney in AT136 "N", was an early returned due to a malfunctioning engine. The rest of the crews were successful in dropping their mines ~20:00. Drop height was 400 to 700 feet.
January 27: Snow and ice. Link training.
January 28: Aircrews were lectured by Signals Officer in the morning. One aircraft was scheduled for nickel drops over Paris. The flight, by a rookie crew captained by Sgt Beeston in 869 "L", lasted almost 6 hours. The pilot "thoroughly enjoyed his moonlight trip over the Seine." Another aircraft did local cross-country training.
January 29: Five aircraft were prepared for night ops. Weather closed in just prior to takeoff and ops were scrubbed.
January 30: Three aircraft and crews were detailed for mining ops but weather cancelled the operations.
January 31: Six aircraft were bombed up for ops. Three were to bomb Brest and three St Nazaire. Only one aircrew assigned to attack Brest was successful. One dumped its bombs in the sea and another attacked an airbase believed to be Lanveoc. Three of the two attacking St Nazaire bombed the primary target and one brought its bombs back to base. No results were observed due to haze. The crews detailed to attack St. Nazaire took off ~17:44 with bomb loads of 8x250 plus nickels (leaflets). Two were able to find the primary target through poor visibility. Crews bombed from 11000 and 12000 feet what they believed was the primary target. The other crew brought their bombs back The three detailed to attack Brest took off ~18:00 with bomb loads of 4x500 plus 2x250. One, S/Ldr Campbell attacked the primary at 20:34 from 13000 feet. P/O Topping's crew brought their bombs back as they could not reach a high enough altitude. And, F/Sgt Pinney bombed what they believed was Lanvroc aerodrome. The three aircraft of the squadron attacking Brest, France were part of a main group of 72 aircraft. In particular, the target was the German cruisers in the harbour. (Brest: BC-5)
February 1, 1942: Forty-four RCAF ground crew arrived today. Lecture to aircrews by Station Signals Officer. Link training.
February 2: Night practice flying. Runway snow removal was carried out by all available personnel working in three shifts.
February 3: Snow removal continued. Leaves cancelled. Seven aircraft prepared for day ops for the following day.
February 4: Aircrews on standby all day. Snow removal continued. RCAF Padre F/Lt Davidson visited squadron.
February 5: Aircrews remained on standby all day. Snow removal continued. Standby orders: Crews called at 05:15. Breakfast at 05:45. Crews to crew room 06:30. All aircrews confined to base. Those crews on standby were not required to assist in snow removal. For the ground crew: One Corporal to be by phone for each flight. Ground crews report for duty at 06:00 to run up and remove covers off aircraft.
February 6: Aircrews briefed for mining ops the following day. Bombs replaced with mines. Runways successfully cleared of snow.
February 7: Early takeoff of aircraft was not called for. Five aircraft took off in late morning to carry out mining operations in the Frisian Islands. Weather conditions deteriorated so flying was cancelled. Link training. Clay pigeon shooting practice. Payloads consisted of one #22 mine assembly. Take off time was ~11:45. Gardening in Nectarine (Frisian Islands). F/Sgt Pinney mined an alternate site due to poor weather at the primary site. Mines were successfully dropped from 500 to 800 feet. The weather was overcast with snow showers. No opposition was reported by the crews. The squadron's aircraft were part of a force of 32 Hampdens mining in the Frisian Islands. All aircraft from the squadron returned safely although three were lost to German fighters. (BC-3)
February 8: Two aircraft bombed up for daylight attack against shipping. Ops were cancelled. "A thaw set in making the drome rather swampy."
February 9: Seven aircraft for various operations but fog enveloped the base cancelling all flying.
February 10: Thawing conditions made the grounds "deplorable". Link training and flying carried out. Aircrew was lectured by Captain Patterson of the Midland Regional controllers Department regarding the German bombing of Birmington and Coventry. Air ministry reported that Friesland Germany broadcast on the February 7 listed S/Ldr V. T. L. Wood, Sgt R. L. Bott, Sgt D. D. Grealy (reported missing January 21) were POW's.
February 11: Six aircraft and crews prepared and on standby all day for enemy shipping attack. Night flying cancelled due to poor visibility.
February 12: 12:30 hours six aircraft were ordered to attack the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. Two aircraft took off one hour later with the same objective. A further 4 aircraft took off at 14:45 to attack the ships. One succeeded in finding the ships and dropped its bombs with no observed results. Three did not find the targets. Two aircraft were lost and all were confirmed killed. (pilot S/Ldr G.L.B Harris, nav F/O H.H. Miller, wop/ag F/Sgt A.H. Brunt, and ag Sgt P.V..E. Rothery: and pilot P/O J.R. Topping, nav Sgt F.W. Ashfield, wop/ag F/O E.G. Fowler, ag Sgt T.H. Mate.) A further two aircraft were prepared with mines but ops were cancelled. The first two bombers took off at 13:37. P/O Gibson's crew reported cloud cover dissipated over the channel and no fighter support was seen so the crew abandoned the search. P4400 flown by P/O Topping was reported missing. The second search by four aircraft took off 14:45. Only one crew, F/Lt Smith, found the cruisers and dropped 4x500 on the target. Cloud obscured the results. One plane, AE134 "K" flown by S/Ldr Harris did not return. This was the famous "dash" up the English Channel made by the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau.
February 13: Stand down day for aircrews. No ops or flying.
February 14: Ten RCAF aircrews reported to the squadron today. Three aircraft did local cross-country flying to practice army searchlights crews. Night circuits were practiced by all aircrew.
February 15: Church parade followed by CO lecture to aircrew on flying tactics.
February 16: Morning lecture by Medical Officer. Four aircraft prepared for mining with a single #22 mine. Each also carried 2x 250 wing bombs. The target was the Frisian Islands. One crew sent off to deliver nickels. Two crews practiced night bombing. All aircraft returned safely. Take off time was ~18:04. The weather was poor but the mines were successfully dropped from 500 feet. Three of the crews then used their wing bombs to attack targets of opportunity. P/O Kee, flying Hampden AD915 "F", dropped nickels over Paris in cloud. Reported some flak fire but not directed at them. These were a part of a force of 37 Hampdens and 12 Manchesters. (BC-2)
February 17: A film on the German Navy was shown to aircrews in the morning. Three aircrew practiced night infrared bombing. In true Canadian spirit a meeting was held to organize an ice hockey team to represent the squadron and for skating on the Grimsby ice rink.
February 18: Four aircraft were sent on ops with bombs and one mine each to the Frisian Islands. Two others were detailed to drop nickels. One plane reported missing. Planes were loaded with a single #22 mine. Take of time was ~18:11. Cloud base was at 1000 feet. Mines were dropped from 500 or 600 feet. P/O Smith's crew dropped wing bombs on flak guns. AD915 "F" reported missing. Pilot P/O R. Kee and nav Sgt W.H.J. Rutledge were reported as POW's. Wop/ag Sgt H. Baker and ag Sgt J.R.B. Adams were killed. 420's aircraft were part of a force of 25 Hampdens laying mines in Frisians, and around Wilhelmshaven and Heligoland. A talk on pigeons handling was given that morning. ) (BC-1)
February 19: No ops. Five aircrews practiced gunnery and compass swinging.
February 20: A film related to oxygen was shown to aircrews. Two aircraft were prepared for a night mission with 6x250 lb bombs. Ops and all flying practice were cancelled due to deteriorating weather.
February 21: Eight aircrews were briefed for various flying practices and one prepared for a nickel operation. Bad weather cancelled all flying.
February 22: Church parade held at 9:30 with CO in attendance. Three aircraft were bombed up with 4x500 lb bombs for an attack on floating docks at Wilhelmshaven. No results were observed or reported due to cloud cover. Two others carried nickels to France. Two crews for night cross country practice. All returned safely to base. Intelligence regarding movement of German battleships resulted in three aircraft being bombed up. The stand down order came at 1:30 hours. P/O Murray, 3149 "B", and Sgt Cybulski, 1187 "X", and their crews took off at 18:37 on a nickelling op over the Valencienes area. Each dropped 80 bundles of F117A nickels from 12000 and 13000 feet. F/Sgt Johnson, in 390 "Z", was to bomb the harbour at Emden but due to cloud cover the crew dropped there bomb load of 4x500 over the town from 9500 feet at 21:05. No results were observed. They also scattered 16 bundles of nickels. The attack on Wilhelmshaven was carried out by a force of 50 aircraft. Cloud cover over target resulted in bombs being released blindly. The diary for Wilhelmshaven does not indicate any enemy activity so the bombing was likely not successful. A carrier pigeon that had been released from AD951F, lost on February 18, with the message; "SOS Ad915F. Position Oosterbierum, Friealand Netherland. OZO", was recovered at Spurn Head. (There appears to be some confusion as to which pigeon and the exact details involved. It appears the pigeon was rescued by a Dutch person (resisitance ?) and the note was attached and the bird released (Sainty, 2008). From all the accounts I can find this message is attributed to a blue cock (Pigeon - NU.41.HQ.4373) named "Billy". Billy received the Dickin Medal (VC for animals) in August 1945, for his heroic effort. The citaion read "For delivering a message from a force-landed bomber, while in a state of complete collapse and under exceptionally bad weather conditions, while serving with the RAF in 1942.”) (BC-3)
February 23: A film and lecture on was given to aircrew on German Navy.
February 24: A search of the North Sea for the aircraft missing on February 18 was carried out by three aircraft but nothing was found. Night training flights of circuits and infrared bombing practice by five aircraft. Take off was 11:00. Sgt Dart (258"W"), F/Sgt Beeston (532"T") and F/S Johnson (390"Z") flew on a search for missing aircraft with out success.
February 25: A further search for missing aircraft was undertaken by two aircraft with no results. Fourteen air gunners carried out air firing drills. One aircraft, 136 "N", flown by F/Sgt Johnson was sent out on night mining op but was not successful due to very low cloud cover over target. The mine was brought back to base.
February 26: Squadron Engineer Officer gave lecture on aircraft maintenance. The Medical officer also gave a lecture. Trainee aircrew did cross-country flying. Four aircraft took off for night operations. One aircrew did local circuits. Two aircraft prepared for mining off of German ports and two for nickel drops over France. All returned safely. One landed at Lossiemouth. The nickelling aircraft flown by Sgt Hynam, 260 "O", and Sgt Kaufman, 399 "P", took off at 18:18 and reached Paris about 20:40 where they dropped 125 bundles. The crew of Sgt Kaufman had a hang up and had to bring 115 bundles back to base. P/O Murry flying 3149 "B" and Sgt Cybulski in 1187 "X" took off at 18:31 to mine Yams. P/O Murry's crew were not able to pinpoint their location and brought their mine back. Sgt Kaufman's crew was successful in laying their mine.
February 27: No ops for tonight. Trainees flew cross-country training. Day photography carried out.
February 28: Daylight search was undertaken by five aircrews, F/Lt Smith, P/O Murry, F/Sgt Beeston, WO Pinney and S/Ldr Campbell and crews over the North Sea with no results. Link trainer practice.
March 1: Waddington airbase was honoured by a visit from Viscount Trenchard of WWI fame. He gave a brief talk to the aircrew. Aircraft were prepared for night operations but these were subsequently cancelled. Night flying practice undertaken.
March 2: Lecture was given on distress Signals by the Armoury Sgt. Aircraft prepared but ops were cancelled due to bad weather. Night flying practice carried out.
March 3: A meteorological lecture was given by the Met Officer. Four aircraft were bombed up for ops. Four aircraft were prepared for mining and one for nickel drops. Both latter ops were cancelled. The aircraft were loaded with 1900 lbs of bombs. Take off time was ~17:46. The crews bombed ~21:05. F/O Dart, in 390 "Z", dive bombed the target with an initial height of 4000 feet and a release height of 2000 feet. Crews saw bomb bursts and fires burning after the attack. Flares, dropped by W/O Pinney crew flying 136 "N", were used to illuminate the target but the crews found them too bright and smoky causing some visibility problems. The crews returned to England flying at low level. Some encountered a small amount of inaccurate flak on the return trip. The four aircraft detailed for the bombing mission were part of a force of 235 aircraft sent to the Renault Works at Billancourt, France. It was deemed a successful attack with 300 bombs falling on the factory buildings causing it to be out of production for four weeks. This was a record-breaking night for Bomber Command in the number of aircraft sent to one target and tonnage dropped 412 to 470. This same night a gardening op of four Lancasters from 44 Squadron made the type's debut as a front line operational aircraft. (BC-1)
March 4: A-Flight S/Ldr Tench gave talk on ditching aircraft. Mining ops scheduled for the night were cancelled due to evening snowfall.
March 5: Snow fell through out the day cancelling all flying. A lecture by the N.C.O. pigeoneer was given regarding the proper handling of messenger pigeons. Link training was undertaken.
March 6: Wing CO Collier DFC went to a meeting of Squadron Commanders at RCAF Headquarters. The Navigation Officer gave a lecture to aircrew. A further lecture entitled "Political Economic Aspect of War" was also presented.
March 7: A film on meteorology was presented to aircrew. Weather prohibited flying so dinghy and cockpit drills were practiced. Link trainer was also used.
March 8: Daylight photography flights carried out. Two aircraft laid mines in the Frisian Islands (one not successful). Two aircraft were bombed up. Only one aircraft bombed the primary target. The other bombed Wessel. The mining crews took off at 02:35 and 03:10. Only P/O Murry's crew flying in 3149 "B" dropped their mine. However, it was dropped in the wrong area due to a navigational mistake. The other mining crew, Sgt Hynam in 260 "O", was unable to drop their mine due to very poor visibility and brought it back to base. F/Sgt Beeston in 869 "L" dropped their bomb load of 1x1000 plus 1x500 (1x500 hung up and was brought back to base.) on "Aiming point B in Mosaic 17 at Essen." The bombs were dropped from 8000 feet at 02:25 hours. A small fire was the result of the bombing. Eight bundles of G.1 Nickels were also dropped. W/O Pinney's crew flying in 136 "N" bombed a target of opportunity, a flare path, after a engine oil pressure drop made it impossible to continue on to the primary target. Bomber Command sent 211 aircraft detailed to attack Essen and the Krupps factories there. Gee was used by the leading planes but the overall raid was not successful. (BC-8)
March 9: Bombing ops through for four. Four aircraft were detailed to attack Essen. Bomb loads consisted of 1x1000 plus 4x250 or 2x500. Take off time was ~19:34. F/Sgt Johnson flying 390"Z" had to abort due to engine malfunction. The crew jettisoned the two 500 lb wing bombs and returned to base. Hampden 3149 "B" flown by F/O Gibson's crew could not pin point their position due to cloud so flew by DR until they saw fires burning at the appropriate ETA. Dropped bombs in a large unidentified town. They experienced some flak and searchlights. Starboard engine was running hot. F/O Dart, in 258"W", attacked what they believed was the primary target at 21:50 13500 feet. The target area had heavy flak and searchlights operating. The other aircraft, "U" flown by S/Ldr Tench, also bombed an alternate target due to poor visibility. They bombed on some fires from 10000 feet. They encountered accurate flak and searchlights over their target area and the aircraft received six holes but no damage to the engines or controls. Three squadron aircraft were part of a force of 187 aircraft sent by Bomber Command to again attack Essen. Damage to Essen was very light due to ground haze causing poor bombing visibility. (BC-3)
March 10: An exhibit of German equipment was displayed by F/Lt Morrison. Link training undertaken. Eight aircraft were detailed for night ops including 3 for nickelling in the Amiens area, 3 for bombing primary target at Essen and 2 for bombing a secondary target, the Boulogne dockyards. Cloud cover over Boulogne resulted in the bombers returning with their loads. Early take off. Planes were marshalled along Sleaford Road and then bombed up. Only the nickelling crews were successful. None of the crews detailed to bomb could find their targets and either bombed alternate targets or brought their bombs back. The main target for Bomber Command was Essen again. This made it the third consecutive night. This night 126 were assigned for the attack. It was considered a failure as only two bombs finding the target. (BC-4)
March 11: F/Lt Conner is to be posted to squadron as adjutant. Link trainer used.
March 12: Lecture on pigeon handling given to crews. Day photography carried out. Nine aircraft were assigned gardening ops around German ports along the coast. The "vegetables" were successfully planted. The planes were again marshalled by Sleaford Road prior to bombing up. Each plane was loaded with one of the following types of mines: Assembly 22, Ordinary, PDM1, or PDM4. Two were detailed to mine at "yams" (Heligoland approaches) and seven at "rosemary" (Heligoland). Each plane carried a single #22 mine. Take off time was 01:28. Three were early returns due to various mechanical malfunctions. The other five, four at "rosemary" and one at "yams", laid their mines successfully. The mines were dropped from 500 to 800 feet. (BC-0)
March 13: Four aircraft dropped nickels over Paris and one gardening in the Frisians. Due to a misunderstanding one gunner from an aircraft bailed out over England. Bombing Command Chief Engineering Officer, Group Captain C.E. Willams-Jones, D.F.C. inspected the maintenance facilities of the squadron. The mining operation, flown by P/O Carson in 128 "G", was aborted due to poor visibility. The nickelling aircraft took off ~18:45 with 104 bundles of F20 nickels. Nickels were dropped from 3500 to 8000 feet. The weather was poor, which compromised visibility and caused some icing. Sgt McDermid's crew, flying in 260 "O", experienced severe icing and the plane dropped 5000 feet. The pilot told the crew to prepare to bale out but the rear gunner Sgt Wilkinson baled out. Sgt McDermid was able to get the plane under control and returned to base. (BC-0)
March 14: No ops. Cross country flight training, cockpit drill and aircraft abandonment drills carried out.
March 15: Dunholme was used as a practice bombing target for three aircraft. Night cross-country flights and local circuits were undertaken by nine aircraft. Link trainer was also used. Waddington Station was inspected by RAF Air Chief Marshall Sir E.R. Ludlow-Hewitt.
March 16: The squadron CO gave a lecture on flying to aircrews. Mining ops involving eleven aircraft were cancelled due to weather. Formation flying was practiced.
March 17: Squadron Navigation Officer gave a lecture on "navigation flimsies". Day photography flights and four night cross-country flights were undertaken.
March 18: Morning lecture on maintenance was given by the Maintenance NCO. Night mining operations and army cooperation flights were cancelled due to weather. The station was visited by Padre F/L Davidson, RCAF and Mr. D?????? of the Canadian YMCA and two others from the YMCA and S/L Lee, Auxiliary Services Officer, RCAF HQ.
March 19: Station Signals Officer lectured aircrews on Lorenz use. Poor weather cancelled mining operations and search light practice.
March 20: Lecture by an NCO of the Signals Section was given on the use and care of Aldis Lamps. Mining operations were cancelled due to weather conditions. S/L Warner the Bomber Command Technical Officer made an inspection.
March 21: The CO gave a lecture on air tactics to aircrews. Air gunners practiced firing at clay pigeons. Weather was foggy resulting in no flying.
March 22: Twelve aircraft were detailed for mining ops but bad weather cancelled all.
March 23: Medical officer provided a lecture to the men. Five aircraft successfully mined target area "Artichokes" and then returned to Exeter. Nickelling operations by two aircraft were cancelled. The planes took off ~19:20 with a single #22 mine each or a single PIM 2 mine. All were successful. 128"G" flown by P/O Carson was coned by search lights on its initial mining run so had to escape the search lights and make a second run which was successful. (BC-0)
March 24: Bombing leader gave lecture on bombing. Air gunners practiced firing at clay pigeons. Bombing mission involving four aircraft was cancelled. Three aircraft successfully completed mining operations to Lorient. A Lancaster from 44 Squadron was lost on this mining operation. It was the first Lancaster to be reported missing on ops. (BC-2)
March 25: Air gunners not involved in ops practiced shooting clay pigeons. An airmanship lecture was given to aircrews by S/Ldr Tench. Five aircraft were assigned gardening ops in the Frisians, which they successfully completed. Four aircraft assigned to bombing mission. Three were successful. The fourth returned early with engine trouble. Take off for the mining ops was ~19:11. Each carried a #22 mine. All dropped their mines in the allotted area, code named "artichokes", from about 500 feet. A couple of crews also scattered some bundles of nickels. The bomber crews took off ~19:38 with loads of 1x2000 or 1x100 plus 2x500. F/Lt Smith, in 1187"X", was an early return due to a malfunctioning port engine. Two crews bombed shortly after 22:00 on aiming point "B" in Essen, W/O Pinney in 136 N, and the town itself, F/Sgt Tobias in 869 "L". One crew reported barrage balloons at 6000 feet. Another crew reported seeing dummy fires outside the Essen limits. Essen was also defended with flak that was exploding above the bomber height. A third crew, S/Ldr Tench flying 135 "R", bombed an alternate target. The squadron's bombers were part of a raid of 254 aircraft sent by Bomber command to Essen. Although conditions were good over the target, many of the bombers were lured away from Essen by decoy fires west of Essen. As a result Essen had little damage and very few casualties. (BC: Essen-9; Frisians-1)
March 26: Air gunners practiced clay pigeon shooting. Aircrew received lecture from Signals Officer. Link training practice. Five aircraft were detailed to drop mines off Lorient. Four were successful but one aircraft, AE298 "D", is reported missing (pilot Sgt W.R. Groff, nav Sgt L.O. Stalker, wop/ag Sgt R.H. D. Morgan and ag F/S A.F. Williams). Aircraft carried 2x250 bombs on wing hard points in addition to the mine (PDM 3, Ass22, PDM2, Ord). Four successfully deployed their mines and two dropped their bombs on targets of opportunity. All on board were killed in the crash. (BC:-2)
March 27: Air gunners practiced clay pigeon shooting. Navigation Officer gave a lecture on navigation to aircrews. No operations for the day.
March 28: Squadron pilots practiced in the link trainer. Aircrew was lectured on Intelligence by S/Ldr Sawyer. Eight aircraft were loaded with incendiaries. Seven aircraft from the squadron successfully bombed the target but the aircraft piloted by S/Ldr G.R. Tench and crew; nav F/S K.T. Hyde, wop/ag F/Sgt H. Thorne, and ag Sgt F.A. Durnam, was reported missing. Bomb loads were incendiaries (360X4) plus eight bundles of nickels. Take off time was ~21:08. The crews dropped their bombs ~00:45 from 6000 to 11000 feet. Crews were able to identify the target by the huge concentration of fires in the target area. A couple of crews encountered night fighters and searchlights. One, 3122 "F" flown by Sgt Hiley, was tracked by a ME109 25 miles from target. They successfully evaded the fighter. The main target for this night was Lubeck. Bomber Command sent a force of 234 aircraft. Overall the raid was successful due to good conditions with a bright moon and good visibility. About 190 acres of the town were destroyed. All from the missing aircraft were later listed as POW's. (BC:-12)
March 29: One aircraft successfully completed a mining sortie. A search aircraft was launched from the squadron to look for aircraft missing from previous night. On returning it was mistakenly shot down by Spitfires and crashed near Duffield without injury to the crew.
March 30: The NCO in charge of maintenance gave a lecture on carburetors and wing de-icing. Bombing operations and mining operations were cancelled. Night practice flights were undertaken by two aircraft. Eighteen new aircrew arrived at squadron. CO of the squadron, Collier has been posted to 97 Squadron. CO D. A. Bradshaw (RCAF) is to take over command of 420 Squadron.
March 31: Station Armament Officer gave lecture on Bombing. Air gunners practiced air firing. No ops.
April 1, 1942: Clay pigeon shooting by air gunners. Five aircraft bombed LeHavre and trains in the vicinity of Hanau and Lohrand N.W. Germany. Planes were loaded with 8x250. Take offs were spread out from 12:23 to 20:03. Sgt McDermid, in 258 "W", and Sgt Cybulski, flying 1187 "X", attacked the docks at Le Havre at21:30 from 10000 and 9000 feet. Cybulki's crew reported bombs hitting the docks and that IFF worked well against the searchlights. The other three bombers attacked moving trains. Sgt Hiley, in 3122 "F", dropped bombs on a moving train from 750 feet. The train stopped. The crew then returned twice and strafed the train. No fires were observed. Sgt Kaufman, flying 399 "P", bombed a train from 1000 feet and strafed same from 300 feet. No results seen but five bullet holes were found in the tail of the plane. W/O Pinney's crew flew 136 "N". They attempted to bomb a train but the bombs overshot. Crews observed many lights on the flight over Holland and doors opening and even people waving as the planes flew over at less than 500 feet. The attack on Le Havre by 56 aircraft was successful. However attacks on the trains were costly. Of the 49 planes detailed to undertake low level attacks on railway targets thirteen were lost. (BC: LeHarve-1; Train attacks-13)
April 2: One aircraft bombed up and eight aircraft loaded with mines. All ops successful with no losses. Sgt Cybulski's crew, flying 1187 "X", was the only aircraft from the squadron to be involved in the bombing of Le Havre. They took off at 19:30, loaded with 8x250 and bombed from 12000 feet at 21:25. The crew reported seeing lights similar to search lights but they appeared to be coming from planes. The mining sorties took off ~19:00. Mines carried included PDM1, Ass 22, and Ord. All were laid successfully. S/Ldr Campbell, flying 144 "A", flew over an aerodrome with single engined planes dispersed. The crew made three passes over the aerodrome machine gunning the planes. The single aircraft loaded with bombs was part of a force of 49 that returned to Le Havre. Crews reported successful attacks. The aircraft scheduled for mining were sent to the Quiberon Bay. (BC: LeHarve-0; Quiberon Bay-2)
April 3: Seven aircraft were prepared with incendiaries and bombs but mission was cancelled. Lectures were given on abandoning planes, dinghy drill, bombing and gunnery, to U/T aircrew. Clay pigeon shooting practice by air gunners.
April 4: Six aircraft sent on mining mission to the Frisians. Two laid mines successfully. Four returned to base with mines due to lack of cloud cover. U/T crews given lectures on air gunnery and navigation. New aircrew practiced flying with full bomb load. Clay pigeon shooting practice. Sgt Maitland, in 202 "K", and Sgt Cybulski, flying 3122 "F", were the only two crews to successfully lay their mines. (BC-0)
April 5: Beam flying practice for U/T aircrew. Link trainer practice and gunnery practice. Nine aircraft were sent to bomb Cologne. One did not take off and two returned before reaching the target. The remaining aircraft reported "successful" bombing of primary target. The bombers were loaded with 1x1900 plus 2x250 under the wings. Take off time was ~00:42. Hampden 260 "O" returned early because it could not reach altitude. Sgt Maitland returned also because of u/s compass and could not ascertain their location. The remaining crews attacked the alternate target, town of Cologne, rather than "aiming point "A", because of overcast skies. Cologne was bombed at 03:32 hours from 10000 to 12000 feet. Six nickel bundles were also dropped in the target area by each bomber. A large fire was seen by some crews from 70 miles away as a result of the attack. 3122 "F" flown by F/Lt Smith was hit by flak as the bombs were being dropped. The force of 263 aircraft was specifically to target the Humboldt works in Cologne. Although aircrews claimed success, the photographic results showed no bombs came within 5 miles of the Humboldt works. (BC-5)
April 6: Bombing and gunnery practice and lectures on flight control U/T crews. Gunnery practice with clay pigeons. Three bombers were prepared for night operations. Two of three aircraft from squadron bombed the primary target and all returned safely. Bomb loads consisted of 1x1900 plus 2x250 (det 36). Take off time was about midnight. F/Sgt Tobias, flying 869 "L", returned early due to static electricity build up which made R/T u/s. The two other crews, F/Sgt Johnson (384 "M") and W/C Bradshaw (144 "A") bombed on direct reckoning and timed run up due to the aiming point, "B" Essen, being completely covered by cloud. Bombing time was ~03:25 from 10000 and 11000 feet. Crews reported bad weather with static electricity and considerable icing. Defences were more intense with accurate predicted flak over the target and surrounding area. WC Bradshaw's plane was holed by flak over Ruhr and Ostende. Bomber Command detailed 157 to attack Essen. Stormy weather and cloud over the target resulted in less than a one-third of the aircraft bombing the primary target. (BC-5)
April 7: U/T aircrew received lecture on Signals and Navigation. Then practiced formation flying and link trainer. Clay pigeon practice. Cross-country practice by five aircrews. Ops cancelled.
April 8: Medical officer lectured U/T aircrews. Full bomb load flying practice by U/T aircrews. Clay pigeon shooting practiced. One aircraft was sent to lay mines but returned due to poor visibility. Seven aircraft were bombed up for operations. 399 "P", flown by Sgt McDonald returned without mining due to poor weather. Aircraft detailed for bombing departed at ~21:30 loaded with 1x1900 plus 2x250 wing bombs. Crews attacked Hamburg ~00:23 from 12000 to 15000 feet. Many of the crews reported intense predicted flak, searchlights and dummy fires. P/O Murry's plane, 1187 "X" was hit by flak over the target. Some crews were able to evade searchlights by flashing IFF. Overall most of the crews considered the raid disappointing due to too much cloud cover and bad weather. Hamburg was targeted by Bomber Command with 272 aircraft. Weather conditions were terrible with aircraft flying through severe electrical storms and icing conditions. The bombing efforts were not successful. (BC-5)
April 9: Ops not on for today. U/T aircrews were lectured on parachute use and handling messenger pigeons. Formation flying was practiced by U/T aircrews. Captured German aircraft visited the station and were inspected by aircrews.
April 10: U/T aircrew were lectured on a number of areas including bombing, air gunnery, ditching and dinghy drill. One aircraft was prepared for a nickel op and nine were bombed up for night ops. P/O Smith, flying 384 M, successfully dropped 80 bundles of F.17 and 32 bundles of F.29 in France. Those crews detailed for bombing took off ~22:10 carrying a single 2000 lb bomb or one 1900 plus 2x250 and, additionally, eight bundles of nickels. They attacked Essen from ~00:26 to 01:07 from 11000 to 15000 feet. Cloud cover hampered most from attacking the primary aiming point accurately so instead bombed on fires and defences in the town of Essen. Many saw scattered fires and large explosions reported by crews. Defences of intense heavy flak and search lights were accurate scoring minor damage on 869 "L" flown P/O Murry and F/O Dart. The plane "Q" flown by Sgy Cybluski lost an engine as it was leaving the French coast so diverted to West Malling. Bomber Command sent 254 to attack Essen. The bombing of Essen was poorly concentrated with the equivalent of only six planeloads landing in the city. A Halifax from 76 Squadron dropped the first ever 8,000 lb cookie. The results of its drop were not determined. (BC-14)
April 11: No operation flying. U/T crews were given lessons in sabotage and photography. Organized sports were played.
April 12: Six aircraft prepared for ops; one nickelling and five for bombing. Two aircraft turned back including the aircraft detailed for the nickel ops. Three remaining aircraft successfully bombed target. One aircraft, P1239 "Y" was lost with pilot F/Sgt Johnson, nav Sgt Butler, wop/ag F/S Black, and wop/ag Sgt Salmon. All were later confirmed killed. The nickelling crew captained by P/O Cook returned early due to engine malfunction. bomb loads consisted of 1x2000 or 1x1900 plus 2x250. The bombers took off ~21:26. The aircraft flown by Sgt Kaufman returned early due engine malfunction. Three crews bombed the primary target ~1:20. Bombing heights were 10000 to 14000 feet. Visibility was good with some ground haze. S/Ldr Campbell, flying in 144 "A", had the bomb hang up initially but it finally fell into a search light area. Crews reported many search lights. Essen was again the target for 251 aircraft from Bomber Command. Although the squadron records report bombing was successful, photos showed very scattered impacts. (BC-10)
April 13: New air gunners did clay pigeon shooting. Mining was carried out by seven planes. Five completed mission successfully. Two could not find target. All returned safely. Crews took off ~20:55. Mines used were ass 22, ass 42 and ord. Five crews deployed their mines on target from less than 700 feet. Two crews could not pinpoint their location due to bad weather so had to return with their mines. (BC-1)
April 14: Seven aircraft were prepared for a night bombing mission. One aircraft, AT219"C" crashed shortly after take off killing all the crew (pilot P/O WJ Murry, nav P/O WFM McGarthy, wop/ag Sgt AJ Keith and wop/ag Sgt KA Birch). One aircraft was an early return. Four aircraft "successfully" attacked the target, Dortmund. AT218 "G" did not return (pilot F/Sgt BW Johnson, nav Sgt HE Vosper, wop/ag Sgt JP Shipton and wop/ag Sgt CD McHardy). All were killed. The planes were loaded either with 1x2000 or 1x1900 plus 2x250 and eight nickel bundles. Take off time was ~21:38. "Q", flown by Sgt Cybulski was an early return due to engine trouble. Sgt Hynam, flying 260 "O", did not attack the primary target but attacked an aerodrome. The three that made it to the primary target area bombed ~21:42 from 12000 to 16000 feet. Crews reported area defended by accurate flak and many search lights. "N" flown by P/O Adilman was hit by flak. Bomber Command sent 208 aircraft to attack Dortmund. Examination of the bombing photos after the attack again showed very poor accuracy with bombs dropped over a 40-mile area. (BC-5)
April 15: No ops on for today. Air gunners shot at clay pigeons.
April 16: Five aircraft carried out mine laying and four scattered propaganda leaflets. Take off time was ~21:05. Mines carried included, ass 22, PDM5, and ord. All the mines were deployed successfully from 450 to 900 feet. Some flak from Quiberon was encountered. Nickelling air crews were successful in dropping 96 bundles of over the Lille area. These crews experienced some intense heavy flak over the drop area. One crew was able to spoof the flak by firing a gree flare. (BC-2)
April 17: Squadron was not on operations.
April 18: On plane flew cross-country. Six were prepared for mining op but the weather cancelled the mission.
April 19: Seven aircraft were detailed for a mining mission. Five completed it successfully. One crew brought mines back and the other released their mines into the sea. A plane on training flight crashed near Harmston killing all aboard (pilot Sgt H.H Davis, nav Sgt J.C. Pritchard, w/ag Sgt G.G. Laronde and ag Sgt G. C. Player.) Mines laid included ass 22. Take off time was ~ 21:19. P/O Smith, flying 3149 "B" returned fifteen minutes after take off with an u/s intercom. Sgt Johnstone, in 267 "V", aborted the mission and jettisoned the mine because of bad weather. The remaining crews were successful in deploying their mines. The plane 136 "N" flown by F/O Cook encountered flak ships near one of the islands but no damage reported. The Hampdens of 420 Squadron were part of a force of 51 aircraft that participated in mining around the Frisian Islands. (BC-2)
April 20: No ops today. The station was visited by Air Vice Marshall H. Edwards of the RCAF.
April 21: Link trainer practice. Air gunners practiced on clay pigeons. Fighter affiliation lecture was given the aircrew. Seven planes prepared for mining ops but mission was cancelled.
April 22: Air gunners practiced clay pigeon shooting. Link trainer was used by pilots. Mining ops were carried out successfully by five planes. A sixth aircraft returned early with electrical issues. The squadron was visited by the top Medical Officer of RCAF, Group Captain J. ? Hunter. Take off time was ~21:00.The planes carried ass 22 and ord mines. Sgt Johnstone in 267 "V" returned early with electrical problems. P/O Cock flying 136 "N" was unable to determine their exact location so aborted the mission. The rest of the crews successfully completed their assigned missions. Some crews reported encountering flak and searchlight around their target areas. Sixty-three aircraft were detailed for mining the coastal waters of Germany and Denmark. (BC-1)For four consecutive nights beginning on Apr 23, 1942, Rostock and the Heinkel factory were targeted by Bomber Command.
April 23: Eight squadron aircraft were bombed up and sent to the target. All made it back safely. The planes were loaded with a single 1900 lb bomb and eight nickel bundles. They took off ~21:50. The crews bombed the target ~02:10 from 3600 to 5000 feet. Some crews used a dive bombing technique starting at 8000 feet and dropping bombs at 5000 feet. A couple of the crews arrived early over the target. Wop's were able to spoof the search lights by flashing IFF. Sgt Hiley's crew flying in 267 "V" and W/O Pinney's crew in 384 "M", experienced some light and heavy flak in the target area. All crews considered the attack was concentrated in the target area. Bomber Command used 161 aircraft for this attack on Lostock. Although squadron records indicate the attack was successful concentration was poor and results were disappointing. (BC-4)
April 24: Eight squadron aircraft, again, participated in the raid on Rostock. Four planes made it back to base and three others were diverted. P5330 "J" piloted by Sgt J. Potter with nav Sgt J.H. Hicks, wop/ag Sgt J.H. Smith and ag Sgt G.W. Adams (POW) was reported missing. The planes were loaded with 1x1900 and also carried eight nickel bundles. Take off time was ~21:32. Crews attacked ~01:55 from 6500 to 10000 feet in good visibility. Crews reported seeing many dummy fires in the vicinity of the target area. Crews reported that it was a good raid. This night 125 aircraft attacked Rostock. Bombing accuracy was good with the town's centre heavily bombed but the Heinkel factory remained unscathed. The only loss was "J" from 420 Squadron. (BC-1)
April 25: Five aircraft from the squadron took part in the bombing raid on Rostock and two were sent to Dunkirk. One plane detailed to Dunkirk had to return early due to intercom problems. The planes detailed for Rostock were loaded either with 1x1900 or 32x30 lb incendiaries. Take off time was ~21:33. The primary target was bombed at ~02:00 hours from 6500 to 9000 feet. Crews observed many bomb bursts and fires in the target area. One crew witnessed an aircraft burst into flames while they were flying over Denmark. The two crews sent to Dunkirk took off at 21:50. Sgt Johnstone flying in 267 "V" was an early return due to a u/s intercom. F/Lt Halls' crew in 390 "Z" attempted to attack their primary target of Dunkirk. The crew dropped their bombs at 23:58 from 13000 feet in almost overcast conditions. The crew had to search for the target and were under fire from flak and searchlights through the clouds. No results of their attack were observed. Bomber Command sent a total of 128 aircraft to Rostock this night. Rostock was again heavily bombed and the Heinkel Factory finally sustained damage. (BC-0)
April 26: F/Lt R.N. Storey became the Medical Officer for the squadron. Ops through for seven to attack the Hienkel works in Rostock again. All planes from the squadron returned safely. Bomb loads consisted of 1x1900 plus 4x4 lb incendiaries. Nickels were also carried. Take off was ~22:02. Crews bombed ~02:50 from 6000 to 10000 feet in good visibility. Some crews reported flak ships off the coast. Defences over the target was reported as intense with both light and heavy flak active. At least one aircraft, 1257 "C" flown by P/O Storer was slightly damaged by flak. Most crews reported this as a "good trip." Over 100 bombers attacked Rostock for the fourth consecutive night. The four nights of "Terrorangriff" attacks resulted in 60% of the town being damaged or destroyed. Casualties numbered almost 300 over the four nights. (BC-3)
April 27: Two aircraft were mined up but neither was able to pinpoint their position so the mines were brought back. The plane, 260 "O" flown by F/Lt Halls was flying along the coast for 35 minutes trying to locate their position. A single engined fighter attacked the plane but a quick response turn into the attack resulted in the fighter overshooting without firing a shot. The fighter then disappeared. The two Hampdens from 420 Squadron were part of eight that went on mining missions this night. No losses were reported from this mission. This was the last night that Whitleys were used in the front line of Bomber Command. After this night they were relegated to training units and nickelling ops. (BC-0)
April 28: No ops today. Ground crew worked on planes while aircrew were involved in organized sports in the afternoon.
April 29: Ops through for nine aircraft to Genneivlliers. Crews considered it a very successful raid and all aircraft returned safely. The planes were loaded with 1x1900 plus 2x250. Eight bundles of nickels were also carried. Take off time was ~20:50. The moon was bright making visibility good over the target area. Crews bombed ~00:15 from 2000 to 10000 feet. Crews encountered intense light, to 9000 feet, and heavy flak, to 12000 feet, over the target area. W/O Pinney's crew, flying 136 "N", witnessed an aircraft shot down over the target and shortly after what looked like a collision followed by burning wreckage falling to the ground. All the crews reported that it was a successful attack. Bomber command sent a force of 88 aircraft to attack the Gnome and Rhone aluminium works at Gennevilliers near Paris. The attack was not successful as the main factory was not hit however a near by industrial area received substantial damage. (BC-3)
April 30: Ten planes were prepared for night ops but were cancelled due to bad weather. The first CO of the squadron, J. Collier, was replaced by D.A.R. Bradshaw. Bradshaw later became Group Commander.
May 1: No ops on. Practice was carried out. The squadron was visited by Bishop Neville Talbot (Nottingham).
May 2: No ops today/tonight. Air gunnery practice with clay pigeons. Three aircrews practiced night flying.
May 3: Three aircrews were involved in practice flying exercises. Clay pigeon shooting practice. Ops through for five to bomb Hamburg. Five aircraft loaded with incendiaries. Four successfully attacked the primary target and the fifth bombed the Freidrichskoog area. Aiming point was "D" Hamburg. The bombers were loaded with 360x4 incendiaries. Take off time was ~22:43. P/O Smith flying 132 "U" attacked the Freidrichskoog area (1 miles NE of town.) because the aircraft would not maintain or climb above 11000 feet. Other crews attacked Hamburg at ~01:55 from 10000 to 12500 feet into 10/10's cloud. Due to the cloud cover the crews estimated their bombing point based on ETA and intensity of flak and search lights. One crew noted a fighter, when coned by searchlights, fire a red star flare and flash its landing lights. This immediately stopped all flak and the searchlight cone dispersed. Crews could not definitely see any results but noted some fires in the target area. Bomber Command sent a force of 81 aircraft sent to attack Hamburg. Weather conditions were poor with Hamburg completely obscured. Fifty-four aircraft dropped bombs on Hamburg with many fires started and much damage done. A 4,000 lb "blockbuster" bomb destroyed or damaged over 370 apartment blocks and buildings and caused 120 casualties on its own. (BC-5)
May 4: Ops through for seven aircraft to Stuttgart. Twenty aircrew newly graduated from 16 O.T.U. at Hayford arrived at the squadron. They were given lectures on bombing, flying, medicine, and began flying practice circuits. The planes were loaded with 1x1900 plus 2x250 or 1x2000. Take off time was ~ 21:56. The target was almost completely cloud covered so the crews bomb the general city of Stuttgart. Bombing was carried out at ~01:40 from 8000 to 11000 feet. Stuttgart was heavily defended by all types of flak and searchlights as well as night fighters. Crews reported seeing the glow of fires through the clouds. P1314 "S" was hit by flak near Osterd on the way to the target causing one engine to catch fire and holing the aircraft in 42 places. The pilot, Sgt Maitland, was injured but was able to land successfully at Martlesham. 1187 "X" flown by Sgt Hiley was hit by flak over Luxemburg on its return flight. It was then attacked three times by an ME110. The Hampden was able to evade the first two attacks but the third slightly injured Sgt Hiley, killed the ag Sgt Halward, damaged the electrical and hydraulic systems, and set the starboard engine on fire which resulted in the propeller falling off. Return fire from wop Sgt Johnson hit the fighter on its third attack. The fighter veered off and was not seen again. Flying on one engine the aircraft crashed landed Great Bentley in Essex. Sgt Halward was the only casualty although the other crew members were suffering from shock of the crash. Bomber Command dispatched 121 aircraft to bomb Stuttgart. The attacks were to focus on the Robert Bosch factory in particular but the city was completely cloud covered resulting in very poor results. Bombers were also tricked into bombing a decoy site complete with fires, searchlights and flak near Lauffen. (BC-1)
May 5: No ops today or night. New aircrews were lectured on aspects of operational flying (bombing, gunnery, aircraft abandonment and dinghy drill). New aircrews had night flying practice. Gunners practiced clay pigeon shooting.
May 6: No ops. New aircrew lectured on navigation and gunnery. Air gunners practiced clay pigeon shooting. New aircrews practiced flying with full bomb loads. Night flying practice consisted of cross-country and local flying.
May 7: Ten aircraft were sent off on gardening missions to the Kiel Bay area code name "forget-me-not". Mechanical troubles caused the early return of three aircraft and one was reported missing. The others were successful in deploying their mines. An aircraft from the squadron was used in a search light exercise. New crews practiced flying with full bomb loads. Mines carried were ord, ass 22, PIM2. Take off time was ~22:38. "H" (4086), "A" (144) and "Q" were early returns due to engine malfunctions. Many crews reported encountering intense flak and searchlights from flak ships. AE389 "D" was listed as missing. Pilot P/O MF Carson was later reported as a POW and nav GC Williams, wop/ag Sgt AS Urquhart and ag Sgt WA McDonnell were reported as being killed. Bomber Command sent eighty-one planes to mine various areas of the coast. (BC-2)
May 8: Ops for seven aircraft came through to attack Warnemude. One was an early return and another was reported missing. The bomb loads for the mission were 1x1900. Take off was ~21:48. Sgt Cybulski flying "Q" returned early du to u/s port engine. Crews bombed ~01:47 from 10000 to 12000 feet. Crews reported seeing many explosions and fires in the target area. F/O Strour flying in "H" had a engine failure just at the target and had to jettison the bomb two miles from the target. The crew began to fly the plane on one engine back to England but the dead engine came started again as the plane approached the coast of Denmark. AT144 "A" flown by S/Ldr GC Campbell with nav F/Sgt RB Petersen, wop/ag Sgt RR Parry and ag Sgt GH Soper did not return from the mission. S/Ldr GC Campbell and ag Sgt GH Soper survived as POW's. Bomber Command sent 193 aircraft to attack the Heinkel factory at Warnemunde. (BC-8)
May 9: No ops on for the squadron. A sea search was conducted by four aircraft. New crews practiced circuits and cross-country flying.
May 10: Seven aircraft were prepared for night ops but were cancelled due to bad weather.
May 11: No ops for squadron today. New crews were lectured and practiced local flying. Night flying cancelled due to bad weather.
May 12: New aircrews practiced all aspects of flying and drills. Night flying cancelled due to weather.
May 13: New aircrews were lectured on navigation and signals and practiced full bomb load flying. Night flying was again cancelled because of the bad weather. Sgt F.S. Hiley and Sgt W. J. Maitland were awarded Distinguished Flying Medals.
May 14: New aircrews practiced flying on beams as well as link trainer and other aspects of operational flying. Five aircraft were prepared for ops but bad weather cancelled the ops.
May 15: Three aircraft were detailed for a mining mission to "pumpkin". All were successful in dropping mines and returning safely to base. The Air Ministry authorized a conversion flight of two Lancasters and two Manchesters. New aircrews were lectured on flying techniques and practiced local and cross countryflying. The planes took off between 04:30 and 06:15. Each was loaded with a single mine. All the crews reported good navigation and deployment with no flak. Bomber Command sent fifty bombers to the western Baltic to lay mines. (BC-8)
May 16: New aircrews practiced flying. Three aircraft were prepared for mining op but due to bad weather did not take off.
May 17: No operational flying due to poor weather. New aircrews were lectured on flying and ditching, then practiced flying with full bomb load. Gunnery practice using clay pigeons.
May 18: New crews taught about engine ignition and bombing. Although five planes were prepared for ops the weather cancelled all flying.
May 19: Ops through for two aircraft to go on a mining mission and three others on a bombing mission. All of the aircraft returned to base. Air Commander W.A. Curtis toured the station. New aircrews given lectures on operational flying. Clay pigeon shooting practiced by air gunners. Six aircrews did night flying. The mining crews were successful in laying the mines in the appointed areas of "rosemary". The bomber crews took off ~22:20 loaded with 2x250 plus 300x4. The Hampden flown by F/Sgt Maitland was an early return due to engine problems. The other two bombers were successful. They dropped their bombs ~01:15 from 10000 and 13000 feet. Large fires were reported by the crews. Crews noted some scattering of fires well beyond the city. Flak was very intense in the target area. Bomber Command sent 197 aircraft to Mannheim. The bombing attack was not successful with bombs scattered over a large area causing minimal damage. Mining crews were successful in laying mines off Nazerine. (BC-11)
May 20: CO instructed new aircrews on combat flying and the Medical Officer lectured them on hygiene. Eight aircraft were prepared for bombing but the weather conditions cancelled the ops. A Lancaster from 44 Squadron crashed into a 420 Squadron Hampden damaging both aircraft and killing one ground crew.
May 21: New crews were instructed on abandoning aircraft. S/Ldr D Penman arrived at the squadron to begin Manchester conversion flights. The weather cancelled ops for four aircrews.
May 22: New crews were instructed on abandoning aircraft. S/Ldr Porman?? arrived at the squadron to begin Manchester conversion flights. The weather cancelled ops for four aircrews.
May 23: New crews practiced air gunnery and clay pigeon shooting. They were also instructed on how to abandon the aircraft in emergencies. Night flying practice was cancelled due to bad weather.
May 24: Lectures on photography and intelligence were given to the new aircrews. Clay pigeon target practice by air gunners. Five aircraft were prepared for mining ops but these were cancelled due to bad weather.
May 25: No operations. Gunners practiced clay pigeon shooting and five aircrew flew night cross-country exercises.
May 26: No operations on for tonight. New crews practiced clay pigeon shooting. Weather cancelled all night flying.
May 27: Bad weather cancelled all flying. New crews practiced clay pigeon shooting.
May 28: Weather cancelled the mining ops of twelve aircraft.
May 29: Six aircraft managed to take off on ops after a period of bad weather. Only two aircraft from the squadron successfully dropped bombs on the target. The aircraft were loaded with 8x250 or 1x900 plus 2x250 and with eight bundles of nickels. Take off time was ~20:00. One returned early due to engine malfunctions and three were unable to find the target due to poor weather. The two that did bomb the target reported seeing their bomb bursts with in the target area. Bomber command sent a force of 77 aircraft to attack the Gnome and Rhone factory near Paris. The raid was not successful with no damage reported to the factory. Over 85 homes were damaged or destroyed and 200 French were killed or injured. (BC-5)
May 30: This was the first of "Bomber Harris's" 1000 bomber raids. The target was Cologne. 1047 bombers were gleaned from front line squadrons and operation training units to reach the "magic 1000." The damage to Cologne was extensive. About 5480 people were killed or injured. In the aftermath it was estimated that almost 20% of the population of 700,000 left the city. 420 Squadron put up 15 aircraft in an all out effort. All but one aircraft from the squadron dropped their bombs on target and all returned safely to base. One crashed on landing. The bomb loads were 360x4 incendiaries. Take off time was ~23:25. "N" (136) was an early return due to engine malfunction. Crews bombed from 10000 to 12000 feet at 01:30. Visibility was good. Most crews reported their bombs falling within the target area adding to the existing fires observed. Defences were not as intense as expected. A number of crews witnessed many aircraft being shot down. One crew reported close calls while trying to land in England due to the large number of aircraft in the air. F/Sgt McDermid crashed AE399 "P" into a Lancaster of 44 Squadron when he landed. He and the navigator were injured. (BC-41)
May 31: Another maximum effort was called for. The squadron prepared 14 aircraft for ops but due to weather conditions they did not take off. Bomber Command sent five Mosquitoes from 105 Squadron to photograph, and drop some nuisance bombs, the damage done by the 1000 bomber raid on Cologne. This was the first operational mission for the type. One Mosquito was lost.
June 1, 1942: This was the second 1000 bomber raid. The target this time was Essen. Only 956 aircraft could be mustered for the attack. The attack on Essen was not as successful as the previous attack on Cologne had been. There were about 100 casualties reported and fewer than 200 buildings destroyed or damaged. Ground haze made it difficult for the bombers to find the target so the bombs were dropped over a wide area. 420 Squadron contributed fifteen aircraft loaded with incendiaries. Thirteen bombed the primary or secondary targets. All aircraft returned safely. The bombers took off at ~23:12 loaded with 360x4 incendiaries. Some crews encountered searchlights and flak shortly after crossing the coast line. The crews bombed ~01:15 from 9000 to 13500 feet through mostly cloudy skies. Most crews were not able to pinpoint the aiming point so released their bombs in the general area on existing fires. Defences over Essen were mostly light and heavy flak with little search light activity. Some crews mentioned the defences seemed less than previous attacks. A couple of tethered balloons were spotted by some crews floating 10000 feet in the air over the industrial area. One aborted the mission due to a faulty intercom. (BC-31)
June 2: Ops through for four aircraft were to go on a gardening mission and another six on a bombing mission. Only two aircrews detailed to lay mines were successful and only three aircraft successfully bombed the primary target. One aircraft failed to return from the mining op. The bombers carried 360x4 incendiaries plus 2x500 on the wings. Take off time was ~23:32. "A" and "V" returned early due to engine problems and "G" returned early due to intercom u/s. The crews that made it to the primary target bombed between 01:40 to 02:00 from 11500 to 12000 feet. There was haze over the target making it difficult for the crews to see the aiming point. P/O Anderson flying 422 "J" had to jettison the two 500 lb wing bombs in order to reach a safe bombing height. Crews reported their bombs fell with the target area. The mining crews took off ~22:56. 258 "W" flown by Sgt Kennedy returned early. Two mining crews successfully deployed their mines and returned to base. Another was reported missing. The crew of the missing plane is; pilot Sgt E Harrison, nav Sgt JS Gething, wop/ag Sgt LC Nall, and wop/ag Sgt CJ Laing. Sgt Nall was reported as a POW and was the only survivor. The primary target for Bomber Command was again Essen. Command sent 195 aircraft. As usual the attack was not successful with bombs scattered over a wide area. Reports of damage were minimal. (BC: Essen-14; Mining-1)
June 3: Ops through for two to bomb Bremen and four aircraft on mining ops. The two detailed for bombing returned early. Only one of the mining crews was successful. The bombers 202 "K" and 422 "J" flown by F/Sgt Hynam and Sgt Johnstone returned early due engine problems. The only crew to successfully complete the mining mission was Sgt Hudson in 5332 T. But even this plane was reported to have engine problems. Bomber Command sent 170 bombers to Bremen. Although the crews reported mediocre results the city received substantial damage. There was damage done to many residential areas and to the dock area, warehouses and a docked destroyer. Over 330 casualties were reported from the raid. The mining operation consisted of seven aircraft. (BC: Bremen-11; Mining-0)
June 4: Three aircraft were detailed to bomb docks and shipping at Dieppe but poor visibility over the target cancelled the attacks. Clay pigeon shooting was practiced by air gunners.
June 5: Two aircraft were to be part of an attack of 180 bombers on Essen. Only one was successful. Three other aircraft went on mining operations and were successful. But one was damaged by flak although all returned to base. Air gunners practiced clay pigeon shooting. F/Lt Smith in 132 returned early from the bombing sortie due to engine trouble. F/Sgt Cybulski, in 1257 "C" attacked the alternate target of the town of Essen from 12000 feet with 32x20 incendiaries. The crew dropped the two 500 pound wing bombs earlier on an aerodrome because an engine was overheating. The crew encountered many searchlights effectively working with heavy flak over the target area. The mining crews successfully deployed two ass 22 mines and an ass 1 set 5, from 500 to 700 feet at the assigned location in the "nectarines". Bomber Command sent 180 aircraft to Essen. The attack was ineffective with the bombs being scattered over a wide area of the city. Damage and casualties were minimal. (BC: Essen-12; Mining Frisians-0)
June 6: Seven aircraft loaded with incendiaries were detailed to attack Emden. All returned to base safely. Air gunners practiced clay pigeon target shooting. Night local circuits were flown by one Manchester of the conversion flight. The primary target detailed was Emden "A". Planes were loaded with 2x500 wing bombs plus 360x4 incendiaries. Take off time was 23:21. Crews bombed from 11000 to 13500 feet at ~01:35. White flares were successfully used to illuminate the aiming point. Visibility was good. Sgt Townsend, flying in 4086 "H", bombed the city of Emden with incendiaries as the primary target area appeared to be fully engulfed. The crew had to jettison the wing bombs early due to the starboard engine overheating making the aircraft unable to climb. Large fires were reported. This night Bomber Command sent an attacking force of 233 planes. The raid appears to be successful with over 500 homes damaged to varying degrees along with damage to the dock facilities. (BC:-9)
June 7: A single aircraft succeeded in gardening operations at "nectarine". Clay pigeon target practice for air gunners. Bomber Command sent 43 aircraft to lay mines in the Frisian Islands area. (BC:-0)
June 8: 420 Squadron bomber up five aircraft. One aircraft from the squadron could not find the target. Another aircraft was listed as missing. Bomb loads consisted of 2x500 wing bombs plus 360x4 incendiaries. Take off time was about 23:12. Sgt Hudson, flying in 422 "J" was an early return when they got lost and could not pin point their position on the Dutch coast. Crews attacked the primary target or the alternate target, the city of Essen. The attack occurred at ~ 01:30 from 11000 to 14000 feet. Flares were again used to mark the target area. Crews reported intense flak and witnessed many bomb bursts in the target area and a large number of fires. 136 "N" piloted by IN F/Sgt Reid with crew nav Sgt AJ Crabham, wop/ag Sgt HR Copeland, and wop/ag Sgt CJ Bunn were reported missing. All the crew of "N" were killed. Essen was the primary target for 170 aircraft of Bomber Command. The attack was not successful with little damage to Essen being incurred. (BC:-19)
June 9: Squadron was stood down. F/Lt N.A. Mitchell became adjutant.
June 10: Five planes prepared for bombing mission. Ops were cancelled just prior to take off.
June 11: Eight aircraft were detailed for mining ops. Ops were cancelled. F/Lt. Conners attended a Court Martial at Grimsby. (Personal footnote: Bert Parker arrived at 420 Squadron.
June 12: No ops. Gunners practiced shooting clay pigeons.
June 13: Eight aircraft were to go on mining ops but these were cancelled due to bad weather.
June 14: No ops on today.
June 15: Weather was wet and cold. No flying.
June 16: One initiation flight and cross country flying were planned but all were cancelled due to bad weather.
June 17: Nine aircraft went on mining ops to "beeches" but only four were successful the other five brought their mines back. Five of the crews either could not find their exact location or had equipment malfunctions. Those crews that did lay their mines were appreciative of a bombing raid on St. Nazerine which diverted the flak and search lights from the mining mission. Bomber Command sent 46 off on this mining mission. (BC:-0)
June 18: Bomber Group asked for eleven aircraft from squadron. However, bad weather prevented any takeoffs.
June 19: Twelve aircraft were prepared, including two new aircrew, for ops. All aircraft from the squadron returned but F/Lt Ferris's crew and F/Lt Jacob's crew reported casualties. The aircraft were loaded with 2x500 wing bombs plus 360x4 incendiaries. Take off time was ~23:35. P/O Rayne flying in 390 "X" took off late, 00:15, because they had to change planes. They eventually turned around as their ETA over target would have been too late. P/O Burt, piloting 1314 "S" was an early return due to the port engine overheating. An error in the flare drop resulted in a number of crews bombing Osnabruck. Here the visibility was good and crews bombed from 10000 to 13000 feet. At Emden there were overcast skies. The crews bombed ~01:50 from 10000 to 12500 feet. The flare marking was only partially successful in setting the target due to the clouds. Flak was intense over the target and associated with many searchlights. Some crews experienced moderate flak from the Frisian Islands. P/O Anderson flew in a new plane, 225 "N". The crew found the new plane could not climb above 8000 feet with the wing bombs so these were jettisoned. They also had the engines overheat, generator u/s, lights u/s, and IFF u/s. On top of this the oxygen system was leaking. The Hampden, 786 "L" (or AE258 "W") with F/Lt Ferris' crew were attacked and damaged by a JU88. The attack injured gun, Sgt Collard, and wop Sgt Moris and caused damage to the starboard fuel tanks, wing, tire, undercarriage and propeller. 401 "Q" flown by F/Lt Jacobs was hit by two flak bursts from a flak ship while returning from the target. These injured the rear gunner Sgt RM Davidson and damaged the rear turret, wings, undercarriage and flaps. Sgt Davidson later succumbed to his injuries. Bomber Command sent 194 aircraft to Emden. The town received only minor damage. As it turned out some of the marking flares were dropped 80 miles away on Osnabruck causing at least 29 bombers to attack this center. (BC:-9)
June 20:: Two aircraft with new crews from the squadron were sent on ops. One aircraft did not return. The squadron also supplied four aircraft for a sea search mission. The crews took off at 23:08 loaded with 2x250 wing bombs plus 360x4 incendiaries. Sgt White, flying 390 "Z" bombed the alternate target, the town of Emden, due to overcast skies. The crew bombed from 12000 feet at 01:24. The second crew in 185 "A" flown by Sgt Ellis was not heard from again. Reported missing were pilot F/Sgt GH Ellis, nav P/O HG Waddell, wop/ag F/Sgt BD Nidelman and wop/ag Sgt LG Still. All the missing crew were killed. Bomber command detailed 185 bombers to attack Emden. The attack was only minimally successful. (BC:-8)
June 21: Eight aircraft, including a fresher crew, were detailed for a mining op to "artichokes". One was an early return. Two aborted. All aircraft returned safely. Mine loads were ass 22, or, ass 1 set #10. The crews also carried 2x250 wing bombs for targets of opportunity and eight nickel bundles. Take off time was ~23:05. AT 225 "N" returned early due to an engine malfunction. The crews of "V" and "P" aborted because they could not locate the designated drop area. AT132 "U" flown by F/Sgt Cybulski laid their mine and then dropped their bombs on aerodrome lights. These lights promptly went out. P/O Cook's crew, flying in P1314 "H", also dropped their bombs on an aerodrome but could not see any results. Sgt Cranton's crew, in P5332 "T", dropped their bombs on a flak ship just off Isle de Croix. Bomber Command sent 56 crews to mine off Nazerine. (BC:-1)
June 22: Squadron stood down. Two aircraft participated in a sea search for missing planes.
June 23: Nine aircraft, including one new aircrew, were detailed to mine Lorient. Two returned early. One aircraft crashed at Grantham. Funeral for Sgt Davidson was held in the afternoon. Mines were ass 22, or, ass 1 set #10. Nickels and 2x250 wing bombs were also carried. Take off time ~23:15. "R" and "Z" returned early due engine troubles. Another two lost their bearing and could not pin point their drop zones. The rest deployed their mines successfully although the Ferris crew in AT132 U had to lay their mine in an alternate position due to intense flak. Sgt Townsend flying in AT228 "P" dropped bombs on a cargo ship and P/O Burt's crew, flying in P1257 "C" dropped their bombs on flak/search light concentration. AD786 "L" piloted by Sgt FS Hiley had the starboard engine fail under full load. The aircraft would not maintain height and went into a yaw and crashed at Boothby Pagnall. Sgt Hiley was seriously injured and nav F/Sgt GH Germain, wop/ag Sgt GD Johnson and wop/ag F/Sgt KC Little were killed. This is an example where an aircraft clearly on ops crashed on English soil and therefore would not be reported as an operational loss. The official records only report two Wellingtons being lost. Such was the propaganda of the times. Bomber Command sent 52 crews to mine off Lorient. (BC:-2)
June 24: No ops for tonight.
June 25: All out effort. Twelve aircraft were sent off. All returned safely to base. The bombers were loaded with 2x500 plus 360 x4 incendiaries. Take off time was ~23:05. W/C Brashaw, in P1257 "C", had problems with an overheating engine so attacked what was believed to be Nordan with incendiaries. The crew had to jettison the wing bombs. Only one crew specified they attacked the primary target the Focke-Wuld factory. The other crews, due to poor visibility caused by cloud cover identified and attacked the general city of Bremen using ETA, flak/searchlight concentrations and glows from flares or fires Some crews encountered flak on route to the target as well as intense flak and search lights over the target. Fighters were also active in the target area. Crews bombed ~01:48 from 9000 to 13000 feet. Many crews reported seeing large fires developing as a result of the attack. A maximum effort required by Bomber Group to bomb Bremen. This was another all out effort similar to the "1000 plane" raids. Every unit was gleaned for crews and any type of aircraft that could be bombed up. The attack in the end consisted of 960 aircraft. As well as general area bombing specific groups/squadrons of planes were given particular targets in Bremen to attack ie the Focke-Wulf Factory, shipyards. The entire force was to complete the attack within just over an hour to ensure concentration and hopefully overwhelm the defences. During the raid Bremen was covered in cloud. Fortunately the navigational device Gee was used by the initial attackers, which marked Bremen blindly. Of the total force 696 aircrews were reported to have successfully attacked Bremen. Overall the attack was a reasonable success as an area bombing considering the cloud cover. About 6,600 homes were damaged or destroyed with about 570 casualties. However, the factories and dockyards received little damage. (BC:-48)
June 26: Five aircraft were sent on a mining op to "inner artichokes ie Lorient. Four were successful and returned to base safely. One aborted. Sgt White in AT228 "P" was attacked by defences and the pinpoint reading was lost so had to jettison the mine and bombs. Other crews were able to successfully lay their ass 22 mines at the prescribed locations. Sgt Kennedy flying P1314 "S" dropped wing bombs on flak and search light concentrations on the coast. (BC:-0)
June 27: No ops. The squadron sent five aircraft out on a sea search in the morning.
June 28: Not on ops again. Sea search continued with five aircraft taking off at 9:30 and returning about 15:30.
June 29: No ops. Night flying was carried out. Six aircraft took part in search light training and another four did infra-red photography.
June 30: Three aircraft involved in early morning sea search. Ten aircraft were requested for night ops but flying was cancelled due to bad weather.
July 1: No ops. F/Lt K.E. Brown arrived at squadron to become Deputy Flight Commander of A-Flight.
July 2: Thirteen aircraft were readied and took off on ops. Five aircraft returned early due to mechanical issues. Six reported attacking the primary target, but at a cost of two aircraft reported as missing. Bomb loads were 2x500 plus 360x4 incendiaries. Take off time was ~23:00. "K", "R", "P", "H" and "F" were early returned due to engine problems or other mechanical issues. One crew believed they attacked the primary target, Bremen "D", and the rest area bombed the town. Crews dropped their bomb loads ~01:40 from 10000 to 13000 feet. Visibility was good over the target but details were obscured by flares and bomb flashes. Defences included flak, searchlights and night fighters. Crews reported seeing many fires in the target area. P/O Rayne in AE390 "Z" made a glide bombing run beginning at 17000 feet bombing and 13000 and restoring power at 11000. AE248 "A" flown by pilot F/Lt KE Brown and crew, nav Sgt R. O. Williams, wop/ag Sgt J.N. Waddington, and wop/ag Sgt R.W. Whytock were reported missing. As well, P5332 "T", piloted by F/Sgt CG Wilde with crew of nav Sgt AD Bond, wop/ag F/Sgt TE Crothers and wop/ag F/Sgt JE Gibbs did not return. The pilot of "A", F/Lt KE Brown was later reported as a POW. The other members of Brown's crew and all the crew of "T" were killed. Bomber Command sent a force of 325 aircraft to Bremen this night. Although it appears much of the attack occurred south of the city limits those bombs falling on target appeared to be effective. 1,000 homes, four small factories, dock facilities and seven ships were damaged including the Marieborg, which was sunk. (BC:-9)
July 3: No ops. Three aircraft were involved in morning sea search. Two aircraft practiced infra-red bombing. Air gunnery practice was carried out. Sgt Forster arrived at the squadron.
July 4: Bad weather cancelled all flying.
July 5: F/Lt Jacobs became Flight Cmdr of "A" Flight due to the posting of S/L Forsyth to 61 Squadron. Training flights of local circuits (one aircraft) and infra-red bombing practice (eight aircraft) were carried out.
July 6: Eight aircraft were assigned to mine Lorient but no results due to poor visibility. No aircraft lost. "L", "R", "P" did not drop mines due to bad weather. Nickel packs were dropped over Pontivy, France. "L" dropped 2x250 wing bombs on flak battery at Quiberon, France from 7000 feet. Bomber Command sent 42 aircraft on mining missions to St. Nazarine. (BC:-2)
July 7: Eight aircraft again prepared for mining Lorient but operations scrubbed just prior to take off due to weather.
July 8: Nine aircraft were bombed up. Two aircraft returned early and seven completed the mission. All returned to base safely. Bomb loads for this mission were 1x900. Take off time was ~23:25. "J" and "R" were early returns because the aircraft would not climb to operational altitude. In once case this was due to icing. Crews attacked ~01:50 from 14000 to 16500 feet. The target was identified by navigation and by flares. The target was heavily defended by flak and searchlights. Some crews reported intense flak 50 miles out from route into target. Bomber Command assigned 276 aircraft to bomb the docks of Wilhelmshaven. The raid was not deemed successful as most bombs fell in the countryside west of the town. However, some did fall in the target areas causing almost 200 casualties and damage to buildings. (BC:-5)
July 9: Nine aircraft assigned to lay mines in the Frisians. Five were successful. Four returned with mines. Crews were to mine "nectarine III". Mine used were 13 set 3, 13 set 6, and ass 22. Two wing bombs of 250 lbs were also loaded. Crews of "N", "S", and "H" could not pin point their position so brought back their mines. "J" had engine trouble. The crew of AE202"K", flown by P/O Rayne, laid their mine and dropped their bombs on a flak ship. Sgt Kennedy's plane P1314 "S" was holed by flak. Bomber Command sent 53 aircraft to mine the water around Heligoland and the Frisians (BC:-1)
July 10: No ops. Night flying training and infra-red bombing practice.
July 11: No ops. Night flying practice was cancelled due to bad weather. So a "successful" party was held in Sgt's mess. Two Canadians, Sgt. McDonald Obs and Sgt Wilson pilot arrived at squadron.
July 12: Seven aircraft assigned to mine "artichokes", Lorient area. Five were successful in mission. One returned early and one failed to return. The planes took off ~23:28 loaded with 250 lb wing bombs and ass 22 or ass 42 mines. "K", flown by F/O Adilman's crew was unable to deploy their mine or bombs due to a technical failure. Another crew flying "F" could not locate their position so brought the mine back to base. AE390 "Z" flown by F/Sgt TJ Hannah with crew members, nav Sgt WJ Chapman, wop/ag F/Sgt PE Bull and wop/ag F/Sgt JA Thompson was reported missing. All the crew died in the crash. Fifty-five aircraft were sent to mine various coastal waters. (BC:-2)
July 13: Not on ops tonight. Training flights planned instead but these were cancelled due to bad weather.
July 14: Eight aircraft sent on mining ops to "beech" and "eglantine". One returned early the rest were successful. All returned safely to base. Sgt Holmaley, observer, arrived at squadron. Two pilots, Sgt Gattey and Sgt Cybulski were commissioned with rank of P/O. Take offs were between 23:07 and 23:44. Mines included assembly 13 set 3, 10, and 15, assembly 22 and assembly 42. "F" returned early after the engine cowling opened. "R" experienced such bad visibility that the crew had to return with the mine. The crews brought back their bombs as no targets of opportunity were found. Bomber Command sent 52 aircraft to mine coastal waters and the River Elbe. (BC:-0)
July 15: No ops. Night training flights were cancelled due to bad weather.
July 16: Six aircraft were assigned for night mining ops. Four aircraft practiced daylight bombing. Night flying and ops cancelled.
July 17: Six aircraft again prepared for night mining ops. Preparations were also made for night flying practice. All flying was cancelled but six aircraft were ordered to be ready for dawn takeoff.
July 18: A single aircraft piloted by P/O Burt took off at 4:30 as a meteorological flight and returned three hours later. A second flight occurred from 10:30 to 17:30. The squadron then was stood down due to the poor flying conditions.
July 19: Squadron not on ops for tonight. Flying practice of low level bombing, cross-country and circuits were conducted.
July 20: Six aircraft were prepared for daylight bombing raid tomorrow. Low level flying practice during the day but night flying was cancelled due to weather. Sgt Allan, observer, and Sgt Taylor pilot arrived at the squadron from 14 OTU.
July 21: Day dawned bright and cloudless so due to lack of cloud cover daylight ops were cancelled. Ten aircraft were prepared for night ops. One did not take off. Seven were successful in attacking either the primary target, aiming point "D", or the alternate of the town of Duisburg. All returned safely. The bomb loads for this raid were 1x2000. Take off time was ~23:40. P/O Burt in X3057 "C" returned early due to engine trouble. The Hynam crew, flying in AT228 "P" had to jettison bombs just prior to target area when the port engine began to fail. Crews bombed ~01:44 from 11,500 to 14000 feet. Flares were used to illuminate and mark the target area. Sgt Kennedy, flying AE422 "J" had the bomb hang up over the target and had to bring it back to base. Sgt White's crew in AE378 "R" had a hang up as well but were able to release the bomb on a second attempt. Bomber Command attacked Duisburg with 281 aircraft. Aircrews reported good success in bombing on target markers. It turned out the markers were, although dropped using Gee, not accurate and most of the bombs fell west of Duisburg. Yet town officials reported 350 homes damaged and 49 people killed plus damage to the Thyssen steelworks and two other factories. (BC:-12)
July 22: Bombing practice occurred in afternoon. Eight aircraft were involved in a sea search. A pilot, Sgt J.S. Thompson, arrived from 14 OTU.
July 23: Sgt Morits awarded DFM. Mining practice was carried out by two aircraft. Twelve aircraft were prepared for another attack on Duisburg. The ops were cancelled for the squadron.
July 24: Afternoon bombing practice. Twelve bombers were prepared and aircrews briefed but ops and night flight training cancelled due to bad weather.
July 25: Fourteen aircraft from the squadron were readied for an attack Duisburg again. Four returned early and the nine others attacked a secondary target. Only one aircraft attacked the primary target aiming point "D". All returned to base safely. The planes were loaded with 1x1900. Take offs were slated for just after midnight. "O" flown by F/Sgt Hynam returned early because of cockpit trouble. Sgt White in "R" returned as well due to "George" malfunction and loss of navigation. "C" was another early return because it could not climb. "Q" returned because of bad weather. The crews that attacked the targets bombed at ~02:00 from 10000 to 15000 feet. The target area was overcast so it was difficult to even pick out the town. Flak, searchlights and night fighters were active over the target area and along the route. At least one bomber received minor flak damage. They were to be a part of 313 aircraft detailed By Bomber Command for the attack. Thick cloud cover made bombing difficult and only light damage and casualties were reported from officials of the town. (BC:-12)
July 26: Ops through for fifteen aircraft to make an attack on Hamburg. Two aircraft failed to return. Sgt Shalospear and Sgt. Kirby arrived at the squadron. Bomb loads were 1x1900. Take off time was ~22:40. "G" and "T" returned early due to mechanical problems. "M" had a navigational error and could not pin point their location. "D" (P4036) was attacked by a JU88 night fighter on the way to target causing damage to the Hampden. The crew decided to return to base. The gunners saw bullet strikes on the fighter at 100 yards. The fighter dived steeply and was not seen again. Claim of a fighter damaged. Crews bombed the primary target Hamburg "D" or the city of Hamburg at ~22:50. Bombing heights ranged from 12000 16000 feet. Crews saw many bomb bursts and large fires in Hamburg. Two crews reported aircraft going down on return flight. AE202 "X" flown by P/O RN Rayne with nav P/O JH Timmis, wop/ag Sgt NF Axford, and wop/ag Sgt JR Elliott did not return. AE267 "V", with pilot Sgt AT Johnstone, nav F/S HN Law, wop/ag Sgt GE Tilling and wop/ag Sgt JJ Price, also was not heard from again. P/O RN Rayne was reported as a POW but the rest of the missing airmen were killed. Due to weather conditions over many of the bomber bases only 256 aircraft, a fraction originally assigned for the attack, were able to get airborne. Conditions deteriorated on route to the target with clouds and icing reported. But the skies cleared over the target and good bombing results were reported. Town officials reported extensive damage with over 5800 homes destroyed or damaged and over 1,300 casualties. (BC:-29)
July 27: Five aircraft from squadron were to be involved in sea search but rain cancelled flying.
July 28: Thirteen aircraft were readied for an attack on Hamburg but the operation was cancelled just as the aircraft were ready to begin taking off.
July 29: No ops for squadron tonight. Ten aircraft were involved in sea search. Regular training flight carried out.
July 30: Eleven aircraft prepared for night ops but these were cancelled, as the aircraft were about to take off.
July 31: Ops through for ten aircraft to attack Dusseldorf. One crew was missing. These turned out to be the last operational sorties by 420 Squadron in the Handley Page Hampden III. Bomb loads were 4x500. Take off time was just after midnight. "U" was and early return due to engine malfunction and "T" also returned early because of intercom u/s. Crews bombed from 12000 to 14000 feet at ~02:15. Crews reported many fires burning in the target area. Flak and searchlights were intense over the target and in pockets along routes. Some planes were holed. AE355 "A", piloted by F/Sgt WJ Kaufman with crew, nav F/Sgt RR Stewart, wop/ag F/Sgt WD Frost and wop/ag Sgt AJ Greenaway, did not return. All the missing crew was killed. This night Bomber Command attacked Dusseldorf with 630 aircraft, including over 100 Lancasters. Three quarters of the crews reported bombing the target with over 900 tons of bombs of various types. Damage was extensive in Dusseldorf and nearby Neuss with almost 20,000 homes suffering some form of damage and almost 1,300 casualties. (BC:-29)
August 1: Eleven aircraft readied for night operations but these were cancelled before the briefing was held. A "successful" dance was held in the Sergeant's Mess for the squadron leaving Waddington.
August 2: Nine aircraft were readied for main ops and three for fresher target. All ops later cancelled. Air Vice-Marshall G. E. Brookes and Wing Commander H. Campbell, both RCAF, toured squadron. P/O Porter arrived at squadron to be Gunnery Leader.
August 3 to August 6: On August 3 the squadron began the process of packing and moving to Skipton-on-Swale. The main squadron force marched to Waddington Station on August 6.