467 Postblog XV: Saturday 22 – Wednesday 26 January, 1944

While the weather did improve slightly from the snow and rain of the previous week or so, following the Berlin and Magdeburg trips last Friday there would be no operations scheduled for the crews at Waddington until next Tuesday.[1] On Saturday the Squadrons were stood down in the afternoon and many would have taken the opportunity to go across the road to the Horse and Jockey, a pub in Waddington village, for a few pints. Jack Purcell was not among them. He had taken ill and was admitted to the Station Sick Quarters this morning.[2]

The Horse and Jockey in Waddington, as it appeared in 2009

The Horse and Jockey in Waddington, as it appeared in 2009

There was some training carried out during this period, with crews attending lectures about Flying Control and Flight Engineering. Some got some Fighter Affiliation flights in on Sunday. This was a common training exercise whereby it was arranged with Fighter Command to rendezvous with a fighter at a given place and height. Once visual contact had been made, the fighter would begin a series of mock attacks on the bomber, and the gunners would simulate shooting at it with camera guns while the pilot tried to manoeuvre the Lancaster away from the fighter. Occasionally fighter affiliation was even carried out at night, when instead of the camera guns the fighter would flash its navigation lights if he got within shooting range of the bomber without being spotted by the gunners.[3]

An unknown 467 Squadron crew carries out some daylight fighter affiliation with a Spitfre. A remarkable photograph from the Waddington Collection, RAF Waddington Heritage Centre

An unknown 467 Squadron crew carries out some daylight fighter affiliation with a Spitfre. A remarkable photograph from the Waddington Collection, RAF Waddington Heritage Centre

Operations, finally, were notified for Tuesday, 25 January. The two Waddington squadrons briefed their crews and fuelled up their aircraft. Phil Smith carried out two air tests in preparation, one of 25 minutes in DV240 and a second of ten minutes in an unknown Lancaster,[4] but at 16.45hrs, when all were set to go, the operation was scrubbed.[5] It’s unknown who was intended to replace Jack Purcell, who was still in the Station Sick Quarters, for this trip.

A small force of Stirlings, Lancasters and Mosquitos did attack military constructions (probably flying bomb sites) in the Pas de Calais and on the Cherbourg peninsula, but the Waddington aircraft were not with them. Bomber Command also sent Mosquitos to Aachen again and carried out a weather reconnaissance flight, and once again training groups sent Wellingtons to drop leaflets over Northern France.[6]

The only other Bomber Command operations during this time were carried out on Sunday night (23 January).[7] 37 Mosquitos were sent to a range of mainly industrial targets in the Ruhr (including Dusseldorf, Derendorf, Koblenz and Aachen), eight Stirlings and Wellingtons laid mines off Le Havre, Brest and Cherbourg, and a Mosquito made a weather reconnaissance flight.

Some members of 463 Squadron had a sad duty on Monday, travelling to Lowestoft for the private burial of Sergeant Bertie Turner, the unfortunate mid-upper gunner who died of oxygen failure on the Berlin trip on January 20.[8]

 

Next post in this series: 27 January

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

Sources:


[1] 463 and 467 Squadron ORBs, 22-25JAN44

[2] NAA: A10605, 1047/1

[3] Dennis Over, a 227 Squadron veteran rear gunner, described fighter affiliation (and mentioned the night procedure) briefly in a post on the Lancaster Archive Forum, 12 September 2008. Also mentioned in Keith Prowd’s interview for the Australians at War Film Archive.

[4] Smith, Phil; Flying Log Book 1940-1945. Interestingly these flights do not appear in Jack Purcell’s logbook. Although Phil wrote “Crew” in his there are no names.

[5] 463 Squadron ORB, 25JAN44

[6] Night Raid Report No. 514

[7] All details from Night Raid Report No. 513

[8] 463 Squadron ORB, 24JAN44. Neither ORB records the intended target for this trip.

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