467 Postblog VIII: Saturday 8 January, 1944

After a couple of days off, aircrew were woken early this morning for the ‘usual weekly parade’. The weather was cold and dull.[1] No operations were scheduled, but finally some flying happened for Phil Smith and his crew. It was a training flight to learn the 5 Group ‘Quick Landing Scheme’, the procedure used for recovering the Squadron’s aircraft in a safe and efficient manner following an operation.

The scheme was based around the lights of the Drem System which marked the circuit around an aerodrome. Arriving aircraft would call up on the airfield’s frequency and be told to orbit at specified heights (with newer arrivals ‘stacked up’ above aircraft that had been waiting longer). When it was their turn to join the circuit for landing, aircraft changed to a second frequency to report passing a number of positions around the circuit: ‘Upwind’, ‘Downwind’ and ‘Funnels’. After landing, they reported clear of the runway. The idea was that each following pilot would hear those reports and could therefore keep himself one position behind the one in front in the circuit. As each aircraft left the bottom of the stack circling over the aerodrome, those still waiting above it could be stepped down a level until they were at the bottom, and therefore next to join the circuit. It sounds complicated, but in practice worked very simply and effectively in reducing the risk of collisions over base and had an added benefit of speeding up the process so aircraft needed to wait as short a time as possible before landing. To learn the scheme, pilots attended a lecture in the classroom, and then a “demonstration on the ground with officers walking around an oval and calling at the checkpoints”.[2] Finally they gave it a try in the air. Phil Smith’s logbook records flying for almost an hour in Lancaster DB372.[3]

RAF Waddington Flying Control. From the Waddington Collection, RAF Waddington heritage Centre
RAF Waddington Flying Control. From the Waddington Collection, RAF Waddington heritage Centre

In the afternoon, the crew saw a lecture on “Raid Damage to Germany”, delivered by a visiting officer called Squadron Leader Morris.[4]

Later in the evening Gil Pate sat down and wrote a letter to his mother.[5] Like his pilot, he recently received a parcel of goodies from home, and was particularly looking forward to getting stuck into the Christmas cake that was in it.

Meanwhile, Bomber Command sent 23 Mosquitoes to attack various targets in Germany. One ditched in the ocean on the way home and one other was lost without trace.[6]

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] 467 and 437 Squadron ORBs, 08JAN44

[2] Description of the 5 Group Quick Landing Scheme is in Conway 1995, p.123

[3] This flight is referred to as ‘Quick Landing Practice’ in Phil Smith’s logbook. In Jack Purcell’s it is shown as a ‘N.F.T.’, or Night Flying Test – I suppose for the navigator it would have felt much the same!

[4] 467 Squadron ORB, 08JAN44

[5] Pate, Gilbert. Letter to Mother, 08JAN44

[6] Night Raid Report No. 507