467 Postblog LII: Saturday 1 – Tuesday 4 April, 1944

The fallout from Nuremberg continued with an article published in the Daily Mail on Saturday which was cut out and sent home by Gilbert Pate. Perhaps still shaken by the experience of watching a nearby Lancaster explode under a nightfighter attack, he noted in the margin, “I guess I’m lucky.”[1]

A period of poor weather now began at Waddington and, together with the increasing moon, this meant there would be no flying and most crews were on leave. Very little happened at the station over the next few days. Some personnel endured lectures and a film about security and there was very limited flying on Tuesday afternoon. One crew to do some flying was that of Flight Lieutenant Jim Marshall, who attempted a practice bombing flight in DV372 (‘Old Fred’) which was aborted because of poor visibility.[2] Later that night a dance was put on in the old Sergeants’ Mess and, despite a lot of the aircrew being absent because they were on leave, “it was difficult to move with the large number present,” according to the 467 Squadron Operational Record Book. The compiling officer – Flying Officer Alan McDonald – also recorded the welcome news on Monday that the 467 Squadron Commanding Officer, Wing Commander John (Sam) Balmer, had been awarded a DFC to go with his Order of the British Empire.

The crew of B for Baker were among those away, departing for eight days’ leave from Sunday 2 April. Gil Pate proceeded to London,[3] as, separately, did Phil Smith. Phil maintained a healthy interest in the goings-on in the sugar industry, in which he had been an industrial chemist before he enlisted in the Air Force, so as he had done in February, he looked up a company – Tate & Lyle – and arranged to spend a few days “pottering around a couple of their factories and most interesting it has been.”[4]

The Mosquito Light Night Striking Force still went out, of course, despite the Main Force being kept on the ground for the time being. 35 Mosquitos harassed Hanover on Saturday 1 April. On the same night, more Mosquitos hit Aachen and Krefeld and a flying bomb site at La Glacerie, on the Cherbourg Peninsula, Halifaxes laid mines off the Dutch coast and the Frisian Islands, four Mosquitos made Serrate patrols and ten aircraft made ‘special sorties’ over the Continent.[5] They did not fly on the 2nd or 3rd, but on Tuesday 4 April they were back up again. 41 Mosquitos harassed Cologne and smaller forces went to Essen, Aachen, Duisburg, Krefeld and La Glacerie. No bombers were lost.[6]

Next post in this series: 5 April

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] Transcript of newspaper comments in papers of Gilbert Pate, by kind permission of Gil Thew

[2] Easton, Arnold, Flying Log Book

[3] Pate, Gilbert, letter to Mother 14APR44

[4] Smith, Phil, letter to mother, 07APR44

[5] Night Raid Report No. 569

[6] Night Raid Report No. 570

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