467 Postblog LXXIX: Tuesday 9 May, 1944

Good news came to Waddington today.[1] Two officers, one from each squadron, found out that that had been awarded immediate Distinguished Flying Crosses for actions on operations over the last couple of weeks. For 467 Squadron, the lucky man was Flight Lieutenant John Kennedy, the bomb aimer who flew to Munich with Walter Marshall’s crew on 24 April. The aircraft was hit by flak which punched a small hole in the bomb aimer’s Perspex dome – and also put a small hole in the bomb aimer himself. Kennedy kept quiet about the resulting wound, which was under one arm, and carried on with his job until the aircraft landed back at Waddington. The 463 Squadron recipient was Pilot Officer ‘Dud’ Ward. On an operation in April Ward had lost an engine after bombing and shortly afterwards two more stopped. Losing height, the crew manned ditching stations but Ward managed to cross the Channel at low level and they landed safely at Tangmere. There is a little confusion about precisely which operation it was on which he earned his decoration (the Operational Record Book states 6/7 April but nothing happened on that night) but it seems most likely that it was Schweinfurt on 26 April. Even then this is not certain because though the story is related in the monthly summary of operations in the 463 Squadron Operational Record Book on 26 April, there is no corresponding sortie record for Ward on that night.

In any case, for most crews of the two squadrons there were no operations for tonight. Some high level bombing practice was prescribed instead. Wireless operator Dale Johnston described the task in a letter[2] to his brother Ian (who was serving with the RAAF in Australia) as being for the benefit of “our ‘best passenger’, Jerry Parker the bomb aimer.”

Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, Dale described a typical raid for his crewmate:

Like many more of his comrades we carry them thousands of miles to drop eggs, after that they sleep peacefully and generally ask us if there was any flak about – back home.

They flew, in B for Baker, for an hour and twenty minutes, out to the bombing range at Wainfleet, about 35 miles east of Waddington. And when they got there, wrote Dale:

…we dropped 6 bombs (11lb practice) on a target on the coast, then looked around for a playmate. As we couldn’t find a Mossie or a Spit, we got into a Stirling. It’s real fun, pal, diving port, climbing port, diving starboard etc., and is the best means of shaking off a Jerry night fighter.

A high level bombing flight also appears in the logbook of Arnold Easton. And, unusually, just one 467 Squadron crew went on operations tonight. Flight Lieutenant Walter Marshall took the camera ship ED953 to a suburb of Paris called Gennevilliers. 55 other Lancasters and eight Mosquitos went there to attack a metal-working factory, which was heavily damaged by very accurate bombing. Accurate it might have been, but Marshall thought it was not too spectacular and so was “useless for [the] camera operators”. A bomb sight fault meant that the aircraft could not carry any munitions, and indeed his bomb aimer stayed home on this trip, so Marshall felt it had been, for them, a “wasted effort.”[3] Five bombers were lost.

As had become the pattern over the last few weeks, there were more raids of about 30-50 aircraft each tonight against targets throughout France. A ball bearing factory was attacked at Annecy and gun batteries at Merville, Calais, Mardick, St Valerey, Morsalines, Borneval and Cap Gris Nez. One aircraft was lost from Mardick. 30 Mosquitos attacked Berlin, six went to an ammunition dump at Chateaudun and the usual small forces carried out minelaying, leaflet raids, special operations and fighter sorties. Four more aircraft were lost from these subsidiary operations.[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

Sources:

[1] Operational Record Books of both 463 and 467 Squadrons

[2] While the original has been lost, Dale’s letter, dated 9 May 1944, was transcribed by Phil Smith’s father, and a copy exists in the collection of Mollie Smith.

[3] 467 Squadron Operational Record Book

[4] Night Raid Report 601

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