467 Postblog IV: Tuesday 4 January, 1944

As the weather was still poor and the moon period was beginning, no operations were expected for the Waddington squadrons over the next few nights so many crews were sent off for a short period of leave. Phil Smith’s crew were no exception. Rear gunner Gilbert Pate in particular got straight onto a train and headed for London.

There was no leave for Phil himself however. He had much work to do to get up to speed in his soon to be new role as Flight Commander, so he consoled himself by opening a tin of goodies that his mother had sent him for Christmas. Fudge… milk chocolate… caramels… all the things he was ‘particularly fond of’.[1] It made the foggy winter’s day go by that much quicker.

But just because there was a bright moon rising didn’t mean that Bomber Command stopped entirely. 80 aircraft – predominantly Stirlings with small numbers of Mosquitoes and Lancasters – headed off to attack a pair of flying bomb sites in France.[2] Mosquitoes raided Cologne and Krefeld. The usual ‘gardening’ (minelaying) and ‘nickelling’ (leaflet dropping) sorties were carried out over France. And Berlin, having been given a rest last night, was harassed once again, this time by a small force of Mosquitoes.

In all, 148 aircraft were involved in the night’s operations, for no losses (though one Stirling crashed on landing).[3]

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] Smith, Phil. Letter to his mother, 06JAN44

[2] RAF Bomber Command Campaign Diary, JAN44

[3] Details of the night’s operations are in Night Raid Report No. 503