On a cold, cloudy and slightly snowy day both Waddington squadrons briefed for a maximum effort operation for the coming evening. And for once, it was not to Berlin. The main force was bound for Leipzig, Germany’s fifth-largest industrial city at the time, situated some 100 miles south west of the capital. Every available aircraft and crew – eighteen in all from 463 Squadron and nineteen from 467 – geared up for a take-off scheduled for just before midnight.
It was not, however, an entirely uneventful preparation. The great hulking bombers started their engines and began trundling from their dispersals and onto the perimeter track some time after 23.00 hours. But then, in the words of the ORB, “one aircraft didn’t like the look of another and ran into it.” The two aircraft – both from 467 Squadron – were not severely damaged but it was enough to ground them for the night and both crews (those of Flying Officer Doug Harvey and Flight Lieutenant David Symonds) had to sit out the trip.
The first aircraft rolled down the runway at 23.25. Phil Smith, in EE143 (the same aircraft he had taken to Berlin four nights ago), took off at 23.47, and the last Lancaster disappeared into the cloud just under half an hour later.
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