467 Postblog II: Sunday 2 January, 1944

The Berlin trip last night was of mixed success. Thick cloud covered the target so the force instead bombed cascading skymarker flares dropped by the Pathfinder Force. The diversionary raid to Hamburg failed to have the desired effect. German fighter controllers were “never in doubt as to the identity of the main objective”, said the Night Raid report,[1] and the fighters had a field day. 28 bombers were lost.

Twenty aircraft left Waddington last night, but only eighteen came back. Both absent crews were from 467 Squadron. One finally arrived at Waddington late today, that of Pilot Officer Ross Stanford, who had run short of fuel and diverted to Ford. But Leo Patkin never returned. His aircraft crashed and exploded in a field near Hanover in Germany. There were no survivors.[2] The second dickie on Patkin’s aircraft was James Mudie, who it will be remembered arrived at Waddington just yesterday. His crew were now ‘headless’ and would be posted back to a Heavy Conversion Unit a week later.

But despite having arrived back at Waddington very early this morning, there was no rest for the crews. They were briefed, once again, for Berlin. Some air tests were flown during the day to check the aircraft over, but only eight from each Squadron were ready for take off in time.[3]

Elsewhere, aircraft of Bomber Command were being prepared for more precision attacks to Duisberg and Bristillerie. They would also lay mines off the Frisian Islands and complete intruder patrols over France and Germany, and a small force went to France to drop leaflets.[4] By far the largest force, however – 383 aircraft in all – were off to the German capital.

Phil Smith and his crew, still settling in, were not on the battle order tonight. They watched as the first aircraft took off into the darkness at two minutes past eleven o’clock.

This post is part of a series called 467 Postblog, posted in real time to mark the 70th anniversary of the crew of B for Baker while they were on operational service with 467 Squadron at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire. See this link for an in-depth explanation of the series, and this one for full citations of sources used throughout it. © 2014 Adam Purcell


[1] Night Raid Report No. 500

[2] Storr, Alan 2006

[3] 463 and 467 Squadron ORBs. Note the 463 Squadron ORB Form 540 for this day clearly states 6 aircraft on, but the list in the back (Form 541) lists eight aircraft taking part. Of these, two made early returns so perhaps the implication was that they got six aircraft away to the target.

[4] Night Raid Report No. 501