After the build-up, training and flying the Marignane operation, and then recovering all the diverted aeroplanes from Cornwall, the Waddington crews would not fly operationally again for a few days. Both squadrons had recently been joined by some new crews so, mainly for their benefit (though everyone else joined in as well), a certain amount of training was carried out: Bullseye exercises on Saturday, night flying on Sunday and again on Monday and some more training and cross-country exercises on Tuesday. Phil Smith logged 1.40 hours on the Monday on a night-time High Level Bombing sortie, though the flight does not appear in Jack Purcell’s logbook.
Otherwise, very little happened at Waddington. 463 Squadron Commanding Officer Rollo Kingsford-Smith went on leave for a few days, to be temporarily replaced by Squadron Leader Bill Brill. Three 467 Squadron officers received promotions to Flight Lieutenant, among them Dan Conway. The RAF Film Unit was still hanging around on Saturday taking some more footage. Phil Smith wrote to thank his family for a telegram he had received a few days earlier to celebrate his 27th birthday (which was on Monday 13th). A Church Parade was held at Waddington on Sunday and the usual Squadron Parade on Tuesday. Later that same day 467 Squadron aircrew were shown a film about ‘Pre Flight Inspection of Aircraft.’ Life was, for the moment, about as normal as it got on a bomber airfield.
Of course, other Bomber Command units were continuing the fight. A look at Saturday night (11 March) gives a good overview of the various sundry activities that were carried out on most nights throughout this period in the war. Twenty Mosquitos were sent to Hamburg, eleven to München-Gladbach, five to Krefeld, seven to Aachen and four to Duisburg. 43 heavies laid mines off the French Atlantic ports and the Frisians. Twenty Wellingtons and Whitleys dropped leaflets over France, three Mosquitos carried out Serrate patrols and 10 Stirlings went out on ‘special operations’. One Stirling minelayer was the only casualty of the night.
On Sunday night (12 March), eleven Mosquitos went to Aachen and three to Duisburg, for no losses. On Monday, 222 Halifaxes and Mosquitos attacked marshalling yards at Le Mans, for the loss of one heavy bomber, the Mosquitos were out again, making harassing raids on Frankfurt and the Ruhr and other aircraft laid mines off the French coasts, attacked enemy airfields and dropped leaflets. One minelayer and one fighter were lost. Finally, on Tuesday night thirty Mosquitos were sent to Dusseldorf. Another Mosquito made a weather reconnaissance flight and five other aircraft took part in special operations. All aircraft returned safely.
Next post in this series: 15 March
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