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F/O Burton and W/O Butcher were scrambled when enemy activity over Hull called for action. They obtained an A.I. contact, but the interception led them into the intensive Hull anti-aircraft barrage, from where they had to break away. No action resulted, and they returned to base as the weather was deteriorating rapidly.
F/Lt Haviland took off in bad weather conditions in an attempt to intercept two enemy aircraft off Orfordness. No action resulted and he landed back at Wittering to land by the Beam Approach system.
Lectures and continuous trials using the Beam Approach System for landing in restricted visibility had been going on for some time as part of routine flying exercises, and this practising certainly paid off for F/Lt Haviland. Wittering was one of those airfields where local conditions were favourable for Beam Approach, there being no local factors which could cause deflection of the transmitted beam.
A Mosquito Turbinlight was delivered to the Squadron, arriving from Heston where it had been fitted out. This aircraft had the searchlight nose, A.I., and four cannons of 20 mm calibre. The Squadron experience with Turbinlights had been far from positive. The arrival of this machine drew unguarded comments from the experienced crews of the Squadron. Its very use was limited, and it soon became quite isolated on its parking spot. Night interception on dark nights and the success rate that was achieved when combat took place spoke for itself, and it did not need a high level of analysis to show that the aircraft was redundant as far as design concept was concerned, the blunt nose restricting its handling capability.
Enemy air activity started to increase, and on this particular night Lincoln was the target. Squadron aircraft were scrambled and vectored northwards.
F/Lt Haviland had a good contact, but his A.I. set blew up before an interception could be completed.
F/O Rayner got a contact on a low flying target but lost it when it started carrying out evasive action.
Sgt Knight and Sgt Roberts were more successful. This was their first operational flight. The weather was clear with a half moon which gave good visibility. The interception took place under the control of Patrington G.C.I. station. Contact was made at an altitude of 10,500 ft. The target was taking restrictive evasive action, but at a range of 3,000 ft, Sgt Knight obtained a visual on a Do 215. On the first burst, as the enemy aircraft started to dive, the port engine of the Dornier was hit, and at the same time it opened up with return fire from the dorsal turret. A second burst hit the starboard engine and at this instant the return fire ceased. A third burst hit the fuselage and this caused bits to fly off the target. The Mosquito was hit by these bits, causing superficial damage. With its engines on fire, the enemy aircraft went down and crashed into a field where it exploded.
Claims for the night were:-
1 Do 217 destroyed
Sgt Knight, known to his colleagues as
"Tex", was a Canadian who was always keen to carry out his duties to the limit.
He said that he had been a soldier in the Spanish Civil War, and claimed that
when taken prisoner by one side, he negotiated with his captors to fight for
them at a higher rate of pay.
This was a night of raids on London, when, out of a total of sixty enemy aircraft taking part in two waves of thirty aircraft each, ten of them were shot down, eight of them by 29 Squadron. The squadrons which were operating in the south east and south of England had been equipped with a new type of A.I. which was more exacting in operation, and which allowed interception to take place at very low altitudes. This higher degree of flexibility in the operation of the new A.I. was certainly paying off in the south, whereas 151 Squadron had to "soldier on" using the older type of equipment which had altitude/range limitations.
About this time, and with the Squadron becoming impatient for action, Group Captain Smith recalls that:
"By the end of 1942 there was little "trade" to be had. I started agitating for approval to go intruding with A.I. but was always refused on security grounds. However, in early 1943 I obtained approval for an extra six aircraft without A.I. so that the Squadron could start taking an offensive role. I had only one opportunity to fly on an offensive sortie (one train destroyed) before I was posted to H.Q. Fighter Command."
Seven new crews arrived from 538 Squadron at Hibaldstow. This particular Squadron had been equipped with Havoc Turbinlights, and these had been grounded because of structural defects caused by continually taking off and landing with the effect of a full bomb load at all times, the load being due to the weight of batteries in the bomb bay. It is understood that from around this date, all Turbinlight Squadrons were disbanded and their crews dispersed.
The crews arriving at 151 Squadron were:-
F/Sgt Parr & Sgt Spencer
F/Sgt Kemp & Sgt Maidment
Sgt Goss & Sgt Cottrill
Allocated to "A" Flight
F/O Anderson & F/O Ferry
P/O Depper & P/O Hollis
F/Sgt Humphries & P/O Lumb
Sgt Playford & Sgt Kelsey
Allocated to "B" Flight
All these crews were experienced in
Night Fighting tactics and the pilots were fully trained on twin engined
aircraft. Conversion to Mosquitoes was quickly carried out using the dual control
machine which was on Squadron charge. Some of these crews were posted out to
balance the Squadron strength.
Night cross country exercises were now being undertaken with a view to future operations, these exercises being at low level and aimed at developing skills in low level navigation and target identification at night.
News came through that S/Ldr Darling, who had been posted to Bomber Command a few months earlier, had been shot down when undertaking a spectacular raid on Berlin in daylight. F/O Wright was not flying with him at the time and no other details are available.
The new crews were put through their
training programmes, the pilots having completed their conversion. Navigators
flew with operational pilots so that they could rapidly become familiar with the
cockpit layout of the equipment that concerned them, and the rapid response to
instructions. The latter was a feature of the Mosquito compared to the speed of
response of the Havoc Turbinlights.
All crews were assembled for a lecture by W/Cdr Smith on the future role of 151 Squadron on Intruder operations. These operations were to be undertaken in addition to the night fighter role which still had to be maintained.
These intruder operations were to be known as "Rangers". The sphere of operations was to be north west Germany, with operations being undertaken both day and night against aircraft in the air, aircraft on the ground and transport such as trains, barges, road vehicles etc, in fact anything that moved. In the first place these operations were to be carried out at night, and any daylight operations were only permitted when there was suitable cloud cover for protection against day fighters which could be put up in strength, and against which the Mosquito would not have much chance of survival.
This diversion in operations required a full understanding of what was to be expected. Most crews had experienced a baptism of fire from heavy anti-aircraft barrages over our own towns and cities where they had got a bit mixed up, or where ground defences had got a bit "trigger happy", but flying at night was going to be at low level, and this would expose crews to light and medium anti-aircraft fire. Intelligence studies of German gun batteries, balloon defences etc, now became a necessity.
Air firing and camera gun exercises now became important aspects of the daily flying routine since success in combat was the Squadron's objective.
The first Ranger took place, the crews taking part being:
S/Ldr Pennington & P/O Donnet
F/O McRitchie & P/O James
P/O Cartwright & W/O Charnock
The following are extracts from the debriefing reports:
S/Ldr Pennington & P/O Donnet:
The patrol was Eaden-Rheine-Osnabruck-Oldenburg, and they were over enemy territory from 2015-2045 hrs.
They crossed the English coast outwards at a height of 1,500 ft dropping to 200 ft to cross the sea, and continued at this height until three minutes before crossing the Dutch coast. Landfall was made at Terschelling at a height of 5,000 ft. They crossed the Zuider-Zee and flew over Holland at a height of 500 ft. Many white lights were seen coming from barges and houses.
After crossing the Ems Canal at Aschendorf they flew to Roldorf, and then set course for base, climbing into cloud at 3,000 ft, re-crossing the Dutch coast at Vlieland. No opposition was encountered and no ground targets were observed.
F/O McRitchie & P/O James:
The patrol was also Emden-Rheine-Osnabruck-Oldenburg, and they were over enemy territory from 2205-2235 hrs. After crossing the Dutch coast searchlights were seen. A train was seen to be approaching Meppen from the north and the Mosquito dived to attack. Due to frosting of the windscreen and temporary darkness caused by clouds suddenly obscuring the moon, F/O McRitchie misjudged his attack and flew over the town where he encountered medium anti-aircraft fire. He evaded the flak, and as they re-crossed the town to have another go at the train, medium flak was again thrown up, but the train could not be found. There was cloud and rain over the whole area.
P/O Cartwright & W/O Charnock:
They crossed the Dutch coast at Terschelling and course was set for Papenberg. Expiring of the E.T.A. did not show up the Ems Canal and P/O Cartwright was not able to get a fix. At 015F hrs they saw a train drawing into a small station near a town and circled to attack. A searchlight flicked on twice in the direction of the Mosquito. A second beam then exposed, illuminating the aircraft and light flak from what appeared to be 20 mm guns opened up. The searchlight doused immediately but the guns continued to fire. The Mosquito took evasive action and course was set for base, as the patrol had terminated.
Although the first Rangers had not
produced positive results, 151 Squadron had established an extension to their
Night Fighting capability. The Mosquitoes used for these operations were those
sent to the Squadron after pleas from W/Cdr Smith and were without A.I.
A signal was received from H.Q. Fighter Command which read as follows:
"Heartiest congratulations on blazing a fighter trail into Germany - Leigh Mallory."
F/Lt Haviland carried out a Ranger into Germany, but the weather conditions were so poor that targets could not be seen. He returned to base with nothing to report.
The following awards were made:
S/Ldr Pennington D.F.C.
F/O Wagner D.F.C.
Because of appalling weather during the
rest of the month, no offensive operations were undertaken, but routine patrols
and exercises were maintained.
W/Cdr Smith with F/O Marsh, and F/Lt Bodien with F/O Booker took off on a daylight Ranger, the first of its type to be attempted by the Squadron. Meteorological reports had indicated that there would be adequate cloud cover should shelter be required from the opposing forces. About 20 miles from the Dutch coast, the cloud became thin without giving any cover so both crews curtailed the operation and returned to base.
Night Rangers were carried out in good clear moonlight conditions by W/Cdr Smith with F/O Marsh, F/Lt Bodien with F/O Booker, and F/Lt McRitchie with P/O James.
W/Cdr Smith was successful with an attack on a train at Geringhausen and saw strikes in front of the engine firebox, the engine blowing up.
F/lt Bodien found no targets.
F/Lt McRitchie shot up two buildings
which were claimed as being of some significance.
Night Rangers were undertaken with the following crews partaking: F/O Paton with PlO Hanson, F/O Atkinson with W/O Primer, and F/O Rayner with P/O Hartley. All three crews ran into trouble as indicated in the reports that were made:
F/O Paton & P/O Hanson.
This crew crashed on landing on their return to Wittering and were both killed. From the remains of their flight log, it seemed as though they had been through some flak and on approaching base they called for a priority landing as the aircraft had little aileron control. They made one circuit without a landing approach, and on the second circuit went in from about 200 ft.
F/O Rayner & P/O Hartley.
They attacked a train south of Verden from where light flak was experienced, causing some damage to their aircraft. The R/T was unserviceable and P/O Hartley passed all instructions to F/O Rayner by writing with his finger tip on the windscreen.
F/O Atkinson & W/O Primer.
Although they did not claim attacks, their operation took them over Bremen at roof top level, getting very low to avoid the intense anti-aircraft fire which was being thrown up at them. They reported flak of all types and in taking evasive action, F/O Atkinson felt a sharp tug at the wing of the aircraft, On his return to base, the ground crews found a piece of domestic wireless aerial wrapped round the mainplane. This was a tough experience and was indicative of the type of opposition the Squadron was up against.
This was a very rough night for the
Squadron in their new offensive role, but it showed the shape of things to come
for this type of operation which was to be undertaken very widely in 1944
Postings of personnel were announced as follows:
W/Cdr Smith to H.Q. Fighter Command. He had been with 151 Squadron since July 1940 and had been responsible for the re-emergence of the Squadron as a Night Fighter Squadron.
S/Ldr Pennington and P/O Donnet were posted to No 51 0.T.U. for instruction duties.
W/O Charnock was posted to Usworth, again for instruction duties.
Incoming were P/O Bushen and Sgt Ferguson who had just completed their training at No 54 0.T.U.
F/Lt Bodien was promoted Squadron Leader to become Flight Commander of "B" Flight.
Another daylight Ranger was attempted. S/Ldr Robertson with P/O May-Thomas took off from Wittering at 0F00 hrs. They saw a steam vessel and two fishing vessels off the Dutch coast. Cloud cover reduced as they penetrated into Holland where light flak was encountered. The cloud cover was not sufficient for the operation to proceed further so they returned to base.
During the month, integration of new crews into the operational roster took effect, and their gaining of operational experience was considered a task of major importance. Whilst enemy night activity was, for the time being, absent, consolidation of Ranger tactics through exercises was a necessity.
"GEE" navigation equipment arrived. Since 151 Squadron were now operating with offensive sorties as well as defensive, an update in navigation techniques for long distance operations was a requirement. Gee was to help in this update.
Gee was simple in theory and
application, requiring no transmissions from the aircraft carrying it.
Transmissions could help the enemy to home in. The system consisted of three
radio stations on the ground situated as far apart as geographically possible
and transmitting pulse signals simultaneously. The middle station was known as
the "Master" and the other two as "Slave" stations, these being
the master. The Gee apparatus contained in the aircraft received these pulse
signals and measured the difference in time of receipt between each slave and
the master, this difference being directly proportional to the distance of the
aircraft from the master station. This, in effect, meant that the aircraft lay
on a line of constant path difference between the master and one slave, and on
another line between the master and the other slave. By reference to charts
known as "Gee" maps, the point of intersection of these lines could be read off
to determine the ground position of the aircraft.
The operating range of this equipment was proportional to the height being flown. As an aid to navigation on Ranger operations its use was limited, its limitation being just sufficient to give a coast crossing fix. Beyond such a range the low level of the operations put the system out of effective range.
W/Cdr Ivins arrived to take over command of the Squadron following the posting out of W/Cdr Smith. His navigator was F/O Marsh.
There were to be other postings in and out of the Squadron during the month as the operational strength was adjusted.
Rangers were attempted by W/Cdr Ivins with F/O Marsh, F/O Sparrow with F/O Brown and F/O Turner with Sgt Bolton. Visibility was very poor and the first two crews turned back, but F/O Turner and Sgt Bolton pressed on and penetrated into Germany. They saw an isolated train which had taken shelter in a deep cutting but they were unable to attack, the poor visibility impairing their judgement. Some light flak was thrown up and searchlights attempted to illuminate them in the vicinity of Amsterdam.
A night Ranger was attempted by S/Ldr Bodien with F/O Booker, F/O Sparrow with P/O Brown and Sgt Lucas with P/O Elvin. Again the weather was poor. F/O Sparrow turned back but the other two aircraft pressed on and successfully penetrated a short distance into Germany. S/Ldr Bodien shot up a motor vehicle and Sgt Lucas shot up three trains, hitting two of them and, he thinks, also hitting the third.
A day Ranger was attempted but there was insufficient cloud cover to give the aircraft the necessary protection. The aircraft called off the operation and returned to base.
At night four more crews took part in a night Ranger, these crews being W/Cdr Ivins with F/O Marsh, F/O Yeats with P/O Howlett, F/O Sparrow with P/O Brown and F/O Boyle with Sgt Friesner.
F/O Boyle found nothing to shoot at but met severe opposition from searchlights and ground defences.
W/Cdr Ivins shot up four trains.
F/O Yeats, like F/O Boyle, found no
targets but met severe opposition from the ground defences.
F/O Sparrow and P/O Brown failed to return. Apparently, whilst crossing the coast line via the Frisian Islands, F/O Yeats saw an aircraft coned in searchlights with a lot of anti-aircraft fire being sent up to It. The aircraft was shot down and F/O Yeats had good reason to believe that it was "Dicky" Sparrow and Vic Brown going down.
Three crews took part in Rangers. F/O Yeats and P/O Howlett claimed one train attacked in Germany with strikes being seen on the engine. F/Sgt Knight and Sgt Roberts claimed two trains attacked, but W/O Kneath and W/O Leyland returned to base before crossing the enemy coastline, because of instrument failure.
A dusk Ranger was carried out by W/Cdr Ivins with Sgt Friesner. A lot of flak was encountered on both the outward and return journeys but no damage was suffered. No ground targets seen.
151 Squadron left Wittering after a stay of two years and four months for Colerne, which was to be their base for the next few months.
The Squadron strength was now as follows:
Commanding Officer W/Cdr Ivins
Adjutant F/Lt Woodcock
Intelligence Officer S/Ldr Marlowe
Engineering Officer F/Lt Watts
Medical Officer F/Lt Leggett
Signals Officer P/O Wood
Navigation Officer F/O Marsh
|S/Ldr Robertson & W/O Smith
|S/Ldr Bodien & F/O Booker
|F/Lt Stevens & Sgt Aldridge
|F/Lt Gregory & P/O Thompson
|F/O Yeats & P/O Howlett
|F/O Atkinson & W/O Primer
|F/o Boyle & Sgt Friesner
|F/O Raynor & P/O Neville
|F/O Turner & Sgt Bolton
|P/C Humphries & P/C Lumb
|P/O Furniss & P/O Ferguson
|F/O Zykmn & F/Lt Kalinowski
|P/O Armstrong & F/Sgt Daly
|F/Lt Coombes & P/O Ashworth
|W/O Kneath & W/O Leyland
|F/O Morris & F/O Fisher
|W/O Butcher & Sgt Spencer
|P/O Bushen & Sgt Ferguson
|F/Sgt Lucas & F/O Elvin
|w/O Flight & F/Sgt Mackins
|F/Sgt Kemp & Sgt Maidment
|F/Sgt Penman & Sgt Phillips
|Sgt Campbell & Sgt Phillips
|F/Sgt Knight & Sgt Roberts
|Sgt Lavelle & Sgt Griffiths
|Sgt Playford & Sgt Kelsey
|Sgt Heath & Sgt Cottrill
|Sgt O'Connor & Sgt Webb
Now being stationed in the South West
of England, Ranger operations were generally designed for France, but because of
German air activity by night over the South coast, full night readiness had to
The first day Ranger over occupied France was attempted by W/Cdr Ivins with Sgt Friesner, and F/O Yeats with P/o Howlett. As they crossed the English Channel the cloud cover diminished rapidly giving them virtually no protection, so both crews returned to base, cancelling the operation.
W/Cdr Ivins with F/O Sampson, and S/Ldr Bodien with F/O Booker, undertook a dusk Ranger. W/Cdr Ivins attacked and damaged a transformer station, but S/Ldr Bodien did not locate any satisfactory targets.
A night Ranger by F/Lt Gregory with P/O Thompson, and F/Sgt Knight with Sgt Roberts, only resulted in the shooting up of a beacon. Severe light flak was experienced but neither aircraft was hit.
A day Ranger into Northern France was carried out by F/Sgt Lucas with P/O Elvin. They penetrated about 20 miles inland, but lack of cloud cover prevented them from making a deeper penetration. They encountered severe light flak as they crossed the coast on the return journey as a result of which the starboard engine was hit and put out of action. The hydraulics were also shot up and they returned to the south coast on one engine and were compelled to make a "belly" landing at Hurn. No casualties resulted.
This was a day of "Spit and Polish" when Sir Archibald Sinclair, the Secretary of State for Air, visited the Squadron. This visit was considered an honour, and he was introduced to and spoke to the individual crew members of each Flight.
During the next week several attempts
at day Rangers were made, but on all occasions, whilst there appeared to be
adequate cloud cover over southern and
south western England and into the
English Channel, the cloud cleared over France. All the attempts at operations
had to be cut short because cloud cover diminished as the crews flew south, and
the risk of engagement with single engined fighters was too grave.
Night Rangers were carried out over Holland and Belgium. In these sorties, S/Ldr Robertson & F/Sgt Daly shot up a train in Belgium and a motor boat on a Dutch canal. F/Sgt Knight & Sgt Roberts got strikes on the front and rear of a goods train in France and brought it to a halt. On the way back their aircraft was hit by light flak, causing damage to the fuselage and rudder controls, but a safe landing was made.
Night Rangers were carried out by S/Ldr Robertson with F/Sgt Daly, F/Sgt Lucas with F/C Elvin, and F/O Yeats with P/O Howlett. Apart from light flak which was now always troublesome, and the knocking out of a beacon and a searchlight, the operation was uneventful.
S/Ldr Robertson with F/Sgt Daly did another night Ranger over France and were successful in the shooting up of three trains and a solitary locomotive. One coach of one of the trains was left on fire.
German aircraft started to appear in the Sector. In the early hours of the 18th, F/Sgt Kemp with Sgt Maidment were scrambled. They got airborne at 0240 hrs and saw searchlights and anti-aircraft fire in the vicinity of Cardiff. Fires were also seen burning on the ground. They proceeded towards Cardiff at an altitude of 10,000 ft to investigate a searchlight cone. They got an A.I contact at 8,000 ft which they followed through with a successful interception and obtained a visual on a Ju 88. At a range of 400 ft, F/Sgt Kemp fired a short burst, as a result of which bits of the Ju port engine came away, and black smoke was emitted. Another burst from the Mosquito hit the starboard engine, which blew up and caught fire. At a range of 150 ft, and from dead astern a final burst was given, just as the Ju 88 began to go into a steep climb. A mass of oil covered the Mosquito windscreen, thus obscuring view. There was no return fire experienced from the enemy aircraft, but after investigation later, some machine gun bullet and cannon shell holes were found in the port flap and in the fuselage. The Ju 88 crashed in open ground near Minehead and all the crew were killed. Token parts of the crashed aircraft were obtained as Squadron trophies.
W/Cdr Ivins with F/Sgt Daly set out on
a night Ranger, but failed to return. W/Cdr Ivins had only been with the
Squadron for a few weeks but he had been very keen to get the Squadron's role on
offensive operations firmly established, this role having been
initiated by his
predecessor W/Cdr Smith. No details are available as to the details of the loss.
W/O Flight with F/Sgt Mackins carried
out an Intruder sortie to Eindhoven. This was a support sortie for the raid led
by W/Cdr Guy Gibson on the Moehne and Eide dams. No contacts were made and no
ground targets were observed.
(As many night fighter crews had passed through O.T.U. at Cranfield during 1942, where W/Cdr Gibson was i/c Flying, there was some "togetherness" about the Dam Busting raid. W/Cdr Gibson had already done a tour on night fighting operations with 29 Squadron).
Claims for the night were:-
F/Sgt Kemp & Sgt Maidment 1 Ju 88 destroyed.
P/O Humphries with P/O Lumb and W/O Flight with F/Sgt Mackins carried out an Intruder operation to a German Night Fighter aerodrome. P/O Humphries damaged a Ju 88 on the ground, but apart from the usual reception by ground defences there was nothing else to report.
F/O Morris with P/O Fisher had to make
an emergency landing when the port engine caught fire whilst in the Colerne
aerodrome circuit. F/O Morris saw, that when he was about to over-shoot on
touching down, promptly retracted the undercarriage and neatly "belly landed"
the aircraft. They both got out safely but the aircraft was completely burnt
W/Cdr Richards arrived to take over command of 151 Squadron.
with Sgt Ferguson were carrying out a routine daylight calibration exercise for
the ground defences when their aircraft got severely iced up when flying in the
vicinity of towering cumulus cloud. Due to the severe conditions the Mosquito
became uncontrollable, as a result of which
it went into a spin and disintegrated. Sgt Ferguson was
thrown out of the aircraft, but not having his parachute attached, he was killed
on impact with the ground. (Navigators had a chest
parachute which was only attached in an emergency). P/O Bushen was more fortunate. Being dazed when the
aircraft disintegrated, but fortunate in having his parachute attached, he was
lucky to regain consciousness just as he broke cloud, pulled his rip-cord, and
just had sufficient height for his parachute to open and for him to land safely.
He was worthy of his membership of the "Caterpillar
Club" after this episode. Following this escape, P/O Bushen was the guest of the De Havilland Company for
a couple of days whilst the Company carried out their own investigations into
stresses and strains of the main aircraft structural members.
Abortive day Rangers were undertaken on
several days at the beginning of the month. Due to the lack of cloud cover over
Northern France, planned incursions into enemy air space could not be carried
Three crews were despatched to Predannack on the Lizard point for Instep patrols. These patrols were carried out in conjunction with Coastal Command, the objective being to give cover to convoys in the sea lanes west of the Bay of Biscay, which were en route to the Mediterranean. The crews which formed the detachment were
S/Ldr Bodien & F/O Sampson,
P/O Humphries & P/O Lumb,
F/O Boyle & Sgt Friesner.
At Predannack, they joined up with
other detachments from other 5quadrons to up a full strength unit for standing
patrols. At the same time 151 Squadron had to keep up their defensive
commitments as well as carrying on with their Ranger activities.
In an Instep patrol, the 151 Squadron detachment engaged a Focke Wolf 200 aircraft over the Bay of Biscay. In the fight which followed, the enemy aircraft was shot down with the victory being claimed as shared.
Claims for the day were: -
Shared 1 FW 200 destroyed.
This type of aircraft was the first of
its type to be shot down by Mosquitos. It was a large aircraft used in bombing
operations against convoys and carried appreciable armament.
F/O Yeats with P/O Howlett carried out a successful Ranger attack against transport targets and damaged three trains in these attacks.
On Instep patrols the 151 Squadron
detachment was again in action, this time engaging a formation Of Ju 88's. In
the fighting which took place, three crews were successful, but no actual combat
detai1s are available in the Squadron Diary.
Claims for the day were:-
S/Ldr Bodien & F/O Sampson 1 Ju 88 destroyed
F/O Boyle & Sgt Friesner 1 Ju 88 probably destroyed
P/O Humphries & P/O Lumb 1 Ju 88 probably destroyed
P/O Humphreys and P/O Lumb were lost over the Bay Of Biscay. Apparently, on returning from a patrol sortie, P/C Humphreys misjudged his position in coming into formation with S/Ldr Bodien, as a result of which there was a collision. In the airborne tangle, a rubber dinghy became released from the fuselage of one of the aircraft, and wrapped itself around the rudder of S/Ldr Bodien's aircraft. P/O Humphries and P/C Lumb crashed into the sea and did not survive. S/Ldr Bodien and F/O Sampson returned safely to base. At the time it was felt that fatigue was responsible for the misjudgement, as this type of sortie, which involved total low level flying for long periods, was extremely tiring.
F/O Morris with Sgt Bradwell, and F/O
Yeats with P/O Howlett, went to Predannack, and F/O Boyle and Sgt Friesner
returned to Colerne.
With the Squadron now becoming deeply
involved in offensive operations, it was now made clear to all aircrew that in
the event of being shot down over enemy territory, it was their duty to evade
capture, and if captured, to escape. A series of lectures and informal talks
involving personnel who had evaded capture, and escapees who had returned to the
U.K were held, so that their experiences could be noted.
The only information to be given on
capture was Name, Rank and Service Number. To assist in evading capture,
aircrews were issued with escape aids, these taking the form of compasses in
various disguised forms. They were also issued with an "escape pack" which
contained malted milk tablets, hard tack biscuits, protein preparations, a razor
and a small, stick of shaving soap, and Benzedrine tablets to ward off fatigue.
On each operation over enemy territory, aircrew were issued with a "travel pack"
containing currency of the country over which they were flying, and a map of
Europe in the form of a silk scarf. Extra survival food was stored in the inner
pocket of the battledress top, this food again being malted milk tablets and
barley sugar, sufficient for about three days' consumption. A suitable container
for this food was the condom which was waterproof if one had the misfortune to
come down in the sea. Smokers could also carry a few cigarettes and a mini box
of matches in this device.
Night Rangers took place on most nights
of the month with attempts being made to make deeper penetration into occupied
F/O Yeats with P/O Howlett penetrated to the outskirts of Paris and were subject to searchlights and flak for about an hour. In spite of all the opposition which was continuous, and the time spent in the target area, their aircraft was not damaged. No suitable target was found for them to attack. They just caused agitation amongst the German ground forces. The visibility was not very good and this hampered the search for suitable targets.
F/Lt Ellacombe again joined 151 Squadron, having successfully converted to twin engined aircraft, and he was now fully operational for the type of operation which the Squadron was undertaking.
During the month the Squadron started
re-equipping with Mark Vlll A.I. This type of A.I. was operational with other
Squadrons on night defence and it was welcomed by the Squadron navigators who
would not have height restriction in their interceptions. With the transmitting
and receiving aerials being enclosed within the nose of the aircraft, the
armament was reduced to 4 X 20 mm cannons, but experience had shown that this
could meet all operational requirements.
August was to be a quiet month. The
poor weather of July followed through into August. There was posting in and out
of crews, and restricted Ranger operations took place.
F/O Morris with F/Sgt Bolton shot up a train over France, but F/Sgt Playford with F/Sgt Kelsey, who were operating over Brittany, did not find any suitable targets. Both crews had light flak thrown up at them at many stages of the operations.
151 Squadron moved to Middle Wallop to take over the Sector from No 456 Squadron, an Australian unit.
It was decided to form a separate Ranger and Intruder flight - "C" Flight , under S/Ldr Roberts and the following personnel were selected for the first two months, after which period there would be a change of crews:
S/Ldr Roberts & P/O Joyce
F/Lt Gregory & P/O Thompson
F/O Furniss & F/O Ferguson
F/C Morris & F/Sgt Bolton
P/O Knight & F/C Doyle
F/Sgt Lucas & F/O Elvin
W/O Flight & F/Sgt Mackins
The Ranger and Intruder Flight was disbanded. The Squadron was committed to keep ten aircraft on readiness each night for defensive work.
F/Sgt Lavelle, flying with Corporal Friend on an air test, found lack of control with the elevators of the aircraft under test. They were flying over the sea and because of lack of control, they were compelled to abandon the aircraft. Corporal Friend bailed out and his parachute opened, but regretfully he went missing. F/Sgt Lavelle bailed out successfully from a height of about 1,000 ft and was picked up after about an hour in his dinghy.
Operationally, the month was very
A lot of practice flying took place to get all crews fully operational on the new aircraft, equipped with the Mark Vlll A.I. This was not without its problems. F/O Boyle had engine failure on two occasions, requiring him to carry out single engined landings. F/Sgt O'Connor also had the same experience.
There were more postings in and out of
the Squadron as crews became "tour expired" . This was to be a regular feature
to maintain a fully effective Squadron strength:
S/Ldr Bodien was posted to
O.T.U. at Cranfield on rest.
S/Ldr Pennington and F/O Donnet returned from rest.
F/O Atkinson was posted to Canada as a Gunnery Instructor, thus ending a four year connection with 151 Squadron, having been with them since the outbreak of the war. (He was later killed in a flying accident in Canada.)
S/Ldr Frank Marlowe, the Squadron Intelligence Officer, and regarded as the "Father and Mother" of the Squadron, was Mentioned in Despatches for long and meritorious service.
F/O Boyle with P/O Friesner, and F/Sgt Playford with F/Sgt Kelsey, were posted on detachment to No 68 Squadron at Coltishall. 68 Squadron was equipped with Beaufighters, but East Anglia was being subjected to "hit and run" raids by the fast flying Me 210, Me410 and FW 190 aircraft, which were too fast for the Beaufighters to catch.
F/Sgt Playford and F/Sgt Kelsey were
scrambled to intercept bandits which had shown up in the Sector.
An A.I. contact
was obtained but interference on the A.I. screen showed that "window" was being
dropped. The night was very cloudy with the cloud being at such a level that a
target could easily hide if it was being followed. Eventually,
a visual on a Do
217 was obtained but it went into cloud just as the Mosquito was getting into
the firing position. The contact was lost and could not be recovered.
On landing, and after de-briefing, Specialists from one of the Ministry's Scientific Departments arrived for a further de-briefing of F/Sgts Playford and Kelsey.
Postings in and out of the Squadron continued. The Commanding Officer W/Cdr Richards was posted to Warmwell as Station Commander, and Command of 151 Squadron passed to W/Cdr Goeffrey Goodman.
Postings out were:
|S/Ldr Roberts & F/O Joyce
|No 141 Squadron
|No 2 Group
|No 9 Group
|No 169 Squadron
Postings in were:
|S/Ldr Bryant Fenn & F/Lt Hayden
|No 264 Squadron
|Sub Lt Madeley (F.A.A.)
|No 60 O.T.U.
|Sub Lt Bliss
|No 60 O.T.U.
|No 60 O.T.U.
|Sub Lt Maggs
|No 51 O.T.U
F/C Boyle with P/C Friesner were scrambled from Coltishall and an A.I. contact was picked up from a searchlight cone. Interception led to a visual being obtained on a Me 210. The visual was obtained at a range of 3,000 ft silhouetted against cloud just below them.
They closed to a range of about 300 ft
and from dead astern and just below fired a one second burst which resulted in a
large explosion. The enemy aircraft climbed steeply with its starboard engine on
fire, then dived away to port. Another two second burst was given as it dived
past. It then went into a vertical dive and was witnessed as going down by a
member of 68 Squadron who was in the vicinity.
In the action the starboard engine of
the Mosquito was put out of action, and the perspex nose completely shattered.
An emergency landing was made at Church Fenton.
Scrambles from Middle Wallop also took
place during the night.
Claims for the night were:-
F/O Boyle & P/C Friesner 1 Me 210 destroyed
Ford was being used quite frequently as a forward base in order that some tactical advantage could result.
F/Lt A.J.Stevens recalls
that, on one occasion, he and F/C Aldridge
were diverted there. A girls' school (Tortington College) was used as the Mess.
They slept in the girls' dormitory (no girls present) and over the bed was a
notice which read, 'If a
mistress is required during the night, please ring'.
When they rang they drew a blank.
The Squadron was on a completely
defensive role, at least for the time being, but this did not permit any let up
in low level exercises for the new crews who had been posted in to the Squadron.
F/Sgt Heath had the unfortunate experience of having the perspex nose of his aircraft shatter when he fired his guns on an air to air firing exercise. However, he made a good single engined landing at base, the starboard engine having been damaged by the debris.
151 Squadron moved back to Colerne.
The weather had started to deteriorate, and this night in particular it was just filthy. A typical English fog spread over just about the whole of the country, but there were small gaps in the south and south west. Colerne, being on the top of a hill, had very low cloud and limited visibility, and crews were on 30 minutes' readiness. This was hastily brought to the immediate state, and at 2005 hrs two Mosquitos of 151 Squadron were scrambled. One of the aircraft was recalled, but the other was taken over by Durrington G.C.I. and vectored on to approaching bandits.
The Mosquito with F/Sgt Playford as
pilot and F/Sgt Kelsey as navigator was ordered to proceed to an altitude of
25,000 ft where three bandits were reported approaching the
south coast, and
travelling in a northerly direction. An A.I. contact was obtained at 25,000 ft
range, the target passing from starboard to port In the radar chase which
followed, with the enemy aircraft taking severe evasive action. After a chase of about
15 minutes' duration a visual was obtained of the target's exhaust. The aircraft
pulled away, and the Mosquito opened to maximum boost to catch up with him.
The target was identified as a Me 410,
and at a range of about 400 yds a one second burst was fired but it missed. A
second burst from about the same range and from the starboard quarter resulted
in a violent explosion between the cockpit and the wing root, and large portions
of the aircraft came away. The height was now about 11,000 ft and the enemy
aircraft rolled over on to its back and went into a vertical dive, disappearing
into a low cloud bank at about 2,000 ft, but it was still going down vertically.
A dull glow was seen through the cloud. The aircraft was seen to hit the water
43 miles south of Worthing by W/Cdr J Cunningham, thus confirming the success.
Control then vectored the Mosquito to intercept another bandit going in a southerly direction away from the south coast. A contact was obtained and a successful interception of relatively short duration led to a visual on a FW 190. The Mosquito had to use maximum boost to catch the FW. At a range of 150 yds, the Mosquito fired a burst from astern and slightly above, hitting the back of the FW cockpit. A violent explosion and burst of flame resulted, and the enemy aircraft dived steeply to port. Another burst missed the target, which then pulled up and appeared to loop. The movements of the FW were so violent and erratic that the Mosquito was unable to follow the aircraft which appeared to be out of control, finally going vertically downwards. By this time the Mosquito was near to the French coast and was recalled.
Claims for the night were:-
|F/Sgt Playford & F/Sgt Kelsey
1 Me 410 destroyed
1 FW 190 probably destroyed
F/Sgt Clouch, a pilot in the United States Army Air Corps, and Sgt Tickle joined the Squadron which now had Fleet Air Arm and the U.S.A.A.C. operating with them.
To combat "hit and run" raids which had
appeared over the South Coast, 151 Squadron had two crews on forward readiness
at Ibsley (near Bournemouth), these crews being there for immediate scrambles
only. Ibsley was a bit spartan in that readiness accommodation was on the ground
floor of the Control Tower.
The nightly use of Ibsley commenced, with an aircraft flying there from Colerne in the afternoon using the flight as a night flying test, and if not scrambled, flying back the following afternoon.
F/Sgt Playford and F/Sgt Kelsey were scrambled during the festive lunch to investigate an "X" plot over the English Channel. They were recalled shortly after take-off and setting course, the pilot of the plot having turned back. They were then stood down. The flight served the double purpose of getting at least one aircraft through its night flying test, and perhaps frightening the enemy aircraft back to base.
Sub Lt Madeley and Sub Lt Hooley were killed when returning from Ibsley. They crashed into the side of a hill near Come Golf Course in very bad visibility. W/O Kemp and F/Sgt Maidment, the other crew at Ibsley, did not take off.
The weather during the month was very poor. The Luftwaffe was not very active, only sending out the occasional weather reconnaissance aircraft in the direction of mid Channel.
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