467 Postblog XLIII: Tuesday 21 March, 1944

For the third day running, the Waddington squadrons were told that operations were on tonight. For the third day running the ground crew prepared the aircraft. For the third day running the aircrew sat in the briefing hut to learn their target. And for the third day running, the operation was scrubbed. “The boys are getting plenty of briefing hours in, but that’s all,” lamented the 467 Squadron Operational Record Book.

The Light Night Striking Force was operating however. Mosquitos attacked Cologne, Aachen and Oberhausen, while other aircraft laid mines or dropped leaflets. Three Serrate aircraft from 100 Group went looking for enemy fighters but failed to find any.[1]

Meanwhile, one of 467 Squadron’s aircraft had been causing problems on operations. Allocated to ‘A’ Flight, R5485 was one of the relatively older Lancasters at Waddington. Previous pilots (including Flying Officer William Felstead, who took it on the Frankfurt operation three nights ago) had complained that, when loaded, the aircraft could not climb to reach a normal operating height. The groundstaff had been unable to find any physical fault so it fell to Squadron Leader Phil Smith, as Flight Commander, to see if he could diagnose the cause by taking the offending aircraft on an operation himself. In preparation for this, he gathered up his entire crew and all went down to the dispersal to check over the old aeroplane. “We found all to be in order,” he later wrote,[2] but we removed quite a lot of rubbish, which had accumulated over several years of operations.”

But then the planned raid was cancelled. The mystery of what was wrong with R5485 would have to wait for another day.


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] Night Raid Report No. 559

[2] Smith, Phil, undated. Recollections of 1939-1945 War, p.22