467 Postblog LXVII: Thursday 27 April, 1944

Yesterday’s air test clearly yielded no good results, so again Squadron Leader Phil Smith took to the air in EE143, the ‘dog’ of the ‘A’ Flight, 467 Squadron fleet. Another “Air Test for A.V. Roe’s”, this time he flew for an hour and twenty minutes. It’s possible that it was in fact a return from Syerston, where he had landed yesterday, but there is insufficient detail in his logbook to be sure. Again, he did not record the names of any crew who went along with him, but as the navigator and both gunners of his normal crew all operated last night and did not land until around 06.00 this morning, it’s unlikely that they were on board. The flight certainly does not appear in Jack Purcell’s logbook. It is most likely that, despite the maker’s assurances, Phil was still unhappy with the aeroplane and sent it back to Bracebridge Heath for another inspection.

Meanwhile other personnel were being flown between various airfields all over Britain. It will be remembered that last night Pilot Officer Dudley Ward of 463 Squadron force-landed at Tangmere on two engines on the way home from Schweinfurt. He and his crew were still stuck there with a busted aeroplane, so Squadron Leader Bill Brill took a Lancaster, filled it with ground crew and went down to see if the broken one could be repaired. On the way they stopped at Skellingthorpe, another 5 Group airfield close by Waddington, to pick up some staff who had been posted to Tangmere, and after dropping them and most of the ground staff off Brill continued to Ford to deliver another fitter who had been posted to 453 Squadron based there. After lunch at Ford Brill flew back to Tangmere – only about seven miles away – to find that the engineering staff had declared the broken aeroplane ‘Category A/C,’ meaning it was beyond the ability of the operational unit to repair on site. Three engines had suffered flak damage during the Schweinfurt trip and the fourth had been overcooked in attempting to compensate. Leaving the aircraft to the attentions of maker Avro, Brill flew home with his groundstaff and Pilot Officer Ward’s crew in the back.[1]

467 Squadron reported the arrival of a new crew, led by Flight Sergeant John Wright. The only other recorded flying at Waddington were three ‘Bullseye’ training sorties, though one of the crew involved (Pilot Officer John Sayers) were attacked by fighters four times and reckoned it was “harder than ops.”[2]

Bomber Command was still out in force. More than 320 bombers were sent to the city of Friedrichshafen, on the shores of Lake Constance. Again the bomber stream was routed over Switzerland on approach to the target. Being so far south meant that the bombers were on the very edges of the German air defence system and they managed to reach the target and deliver a highly effective attack which levelled some two-thirds of the build-up area of the town, but the fighters arrived while the attack was in progress and eighteen bombers were lost. Even so, the Night Raid Report called the losses “relatively light for so deep a penetration.”

Elsewhere,[3] railway targets were hit at Aulnoye (one bomber lost) and Montzen (on the Belgian border with Germany, very close to Aachen), causing great damage at the former but only hitting part of the latter. The Montzen force was intercepted early by fighters and fifteen bombers were shot down out of 144 dispatched. Finally, a large force of training aircraft carried out a diversionary sweep over the North Sea, mines were laid off Brest and Cherbourg, Mosquitos made a feint attack at Stuttgart and there was the usual assortment of Serrate patrols and special sorties. One further Serrate Mosquito was added to the casualty list. In all, 35 aircraft were lost out of some 961 sorties – a busy night for Bomber Command.

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] This story related in Blundell, HM 1975, They Flew From Waddington, p.21

[2] 467 Squadron Operational Record Book, 27APR44

[3] Details of other operations from Night Raid Report No. 589 and from the RAF Bomber Command Campaign Diary, April 1944.

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