467 Postblog LIV: Sunday 9 April, 1944

Operations were planned tonight – on Easter Sunday – but the misty and overcast conditions at Waddington forced a cancellation shortly after the squadrons had organised a battle order. The scrubbing was the “quickest on record for many months”, observed Flying Officer McDonald in the 467 Squadron Operational Record Book. Apart from some limited flying training, that was the end of Waddington’s day.

Other Bomber Command units were, however, in action on this date. There were the by now usual small groups of Mosquitos that went to the cities of Mannheim, Osnabruck, Duisburg, Dusseldorf and Cologne, bombed fighter airfields and made fighter patrols. Lancasters laid mines and other aircraft made special sorties over the Continent. Eleven aircraft were missing from these operations.

The heavies were out as well. More than two hundred of them bombed the marshalling yard in Villeneuve St George (near Paris), and another 239 attacked the marshalling yards at Lille.[1]

Both railway targets were hit hard, but it is the Lille trip in which we have a special interest. The plan was for the target to be marked by Oboe-equipped Mosquitos, with markers to be laid on two distinct aiming points. In a concession to the close proximity of French civilian homes and businesses, if no markers were visible, the crews were told to bring their bombs back home.

Fighter flares were dropped by the Germans before the bombers had even crossed the French coast but, apart from these and a small number of aircraft seen over the target, there was little fighter activity on this trip. The target area was clear of cloud with a slight ground haze. Both target indicators fell within 300 yards of the precise aiming point, and the Main Force proceeded to drop their bombs in a “fine” concentration around the markers. There was a little heavy flak over Lille, cooperating with some 20 searchlights, and only a single Halifax was lost.

The marshalling yards received heavy damage. Tracks were severed, repair workshops were destroyed, rolling stock was badly hit and an ammunition train blew up in a siding. For the time being, the Lille marshalling yards were out of commission. But railway yards are relatively easy to repair, and a month later they would need to be attacked again. Next time – critically for B for Baker and her crew – the attackers would not be so lucky.


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] Details of all operations on this day from Night Raid Report No. 575