467 Postblog LXXII: Tuesday 2 May, 1944

The bombers returned to Waddington from last night’s raid on Toulouse between 05:00 and 06:00 this morning. Consequently they were stood down for today, despite it being “another beautiful day.” [1]

Phil Smith didn’t get out of bed until 15.00. He decided to write a letter home.[2] “You will be interested to hear that I have almost finished here now,” he wrote. “Weather has been quite good and we have been pretty busy lately.” Pretty busy was right. In the last week Phil had flown on four operations, and Toulouse had been the nineteenth raid of his second tour and his 48th altogether. Again, he wrote about the Bordeaux incident when B for Baker had been buffeted by an explosion over the target, though in his usual way there are no specifics:

“Not long ago I saw some terrific explosions at night which will stick in my memory as long as this war does.”

Also writing letters was Phil’s rear gunner, Gilbert Pate, this time to his wife, Grace.[3] “Last night we went to Toulouse and as we only landed at 7am”, he wrote (though B for Baker actually touched down at 05.13), “we have the day off. April was a very busy month for me and I managed 9 trips which is all that were on.”

This last statement is not entirely correct, as Gilbert was on leave at the beginning of the month and so missed the raids on Toulouse on the 5th and Tours on the 10th. His name only appears in the Operational Record Book against eight trips in April itself, but as this letter was written after last night’s Toulouse trip, which of course was actually in May, he may have inadvertently included it in his tally. However since his return from leave he had indeed gone on all of the available operations – three more than the rest of his crew did – and his personal score (not adjusted for the lower value of French targets) was now 23. “Expect to go on leave next month”, he finished, “and will take in London again.”

Bomber Command operations tonight followed the usual pattern used whenever the heavies were not out. 29 Mosquitos attacked Leverkusen, nine Stirlings laid mines off Holland and the Frisian Islands, two 192 Squadron aircraft flew special operations over the Continent and four Mosquitos made intruder patrols. And the marshalling yards at Acheres were attacked, by seven Mosquitos, for the fourth night in succession.[4]

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] 463 Squadron Operational Record Book, 02MAY44

[2] Smith, Phil, letter to Don Smith, 02MAY44. From the collection of Mollie Smith

[3] Transcribed in a letter Grace wrote to Phil Smith’s mother Edith, 12JUL44. From the collection of Mollie Smith.

[4] Night Raid Report No. 594