RAF Bomber Command visits the ‘Big City’

17th January 1943: RAF Bomber Command visits the ‘Big City’ two nights running

Then I thought about the message from the Chief of Bomber Command which had been addressed to us tonight and read out at Briefing, ‘Go to it, Chaps and show them the red rose of Lancaster in full bloom.’ Someone behind a desk had given an order to a great organization and here we were a few hours later, one of the pawns in the game, sitting up over the North Sea with the temperature at minus 30° Centigrade, wondering if we would ever see England again.




The life of an ATS ‘Ack Ack’ Girl

27th December 1942: The life of an ATS ‘Ack Ack’ Girl

Fortunately I passed as a Predictor operator No.3 – which involved looking through a telescope, keeping the target on the horizon line. This demanded steady nerves under gunfire and we needed a lot of practice. At the end of the day, we were mentally and physically exhausted. We lost our voices as all orders were shouted as loudly as possible.




Low level daylight attack on the Philips plant, Holland

6 December 1942:Low level daylight attack on the Philips’ plant, Holland

It was midday, a lovely sunny day, virtually no cloud, so I set off across the Dutch countryside at high speed. I decided not to follow the given route out which was towards the coast of Holland and out into the North Sea. I decided that that’s where the fighters would be and therefore, I turned north, to the Zeider Zee. The fighters would all be directed to the main formation.




British War Cabinet monitors German morale

13th October 1942: British War Cabinet monitors German morale

” Hamburg is unrecognisable. It looks as if an earthquake has taken place.” ” Very soon there won’t be even ruins in our Duisburg.” ” If the Tommies keep on bombing us like this Western Germany will soon cease to exist.” ” I cannot understand what you are doing at the front that we should be bombed four nights in succession.”




‘Coned’ and shot down over Cologne

5th October 1942: ‘Coned’ and shot down over Cologne

The eerie purple light of the radio-controlled searchlight, the master search-light of the Cologne air defence system locked onto us and having seen this happen to other bombers I knew there would be no escaping it. No manoeuvring, no ’jinking’, no diving nor turning nor any amount of speed would shake off that relentless finger. With the range signalled to them from this automatic light the entire search-light complex now locked onto us and we were ‘coned’, the most dreaded thing that could happen to any bomber crew.




RAF bomb Gestapo HQ in Oslo

25th September 1942: RAF bomb Gestapo HQ in Oslo

An observer regretfully remarks that if the bomb had been only three metres lower it would have hit the centre of the front facade. He adds : ” German airmen and flak officers are impressed by the precision bombing, which was fantastically cleverly carried out; there are not so many German flags on the houses any longer.”




Bomber Command target Dusseldorf

10th September 1942: Bomber Command target Dusseldorf

Among them were six factories making steel products or machinery, two factories making steel tubes, one making machine tools and magnetic mines, two chemical works and many other factories producing a variety of commodities such as enamel, paper, boilers, wire, insulating materials, railway wagons and harvesting machinery.




The USAAF start to arrive in Britain

28th July 1942: The USAAF start to arrive in Britain

I thought I’d seen everything but this place takes the cake. The people are so backward it is pitiful. This seems to have been a wealthy place at one time. The homes and buildings are just like the pictures. The streets are narrow and very crooked. bicycles are the main means of transportation. There are very few cars the and traffic is left-handed.




‘Routine’ mining flight off the French Coast

25th July1942: ‘Routine’ mining flight off the French Coast

We were on the target now and I could hear the Navigator counting the seconds as the Bombardier released the mines. “One, two, three”. As the third mine left the aircraft a load of hell was hurled up at us from another flak ship, which according to the direction of the fire, was directly beneath us.

Before we had chance to avoid this second lot, we were hit all along the fuselage. Flames started to shoot past both sides of my turret. I immediately called up the pilot, but I received no reply.

Then suddenly to my horror, I realized the inter-com was dead, this being the only means of connecting me to the rest of my crew. From now on it meant that I had to work on my own initiative. I tried to rotate my turret but the hydraulics had been shot away. So I tried operating it manually.




Under Stuka dive bomb attack in the desert

12th June 1942: Under Stuka dive bomb attack in the desert

A solitary Bofors gun to the north loosed off a magazine clip of five. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. We knew only too well what that meant. The familiar prelude to an air raid. Someone shouted, ‘Coulu’ and Lieutenant Hester Hewitt, who was relaying fire orders form the O.P. yelled, ‘Take cover.’

We dived into the slit trenches. ‘The bastards are early this morning,’ said Ross, ‘they must have taken off in the fugging dark.’ The air above us was suddenly filled with a whirling confusion of twisting Stukas and Messerschmitts with their crooked crosses. There must have been a hundred or more and, once again, we were confronted with the devastating combination of Stukas and Panzers.

Wave after wave, black and menacing, like vampire bats, bombed and machine gunned targets all around us. Most of the dive bombers, with their fixed under carriage and with their sirens screaming, were concentrating on attacking Bir Hacheim to our south-west, but two sticks of bombs had exploded perilously close to the gun position and once again we experienced that choking stink of high explosives, sulphur and rotten metal.

Once again, we braced ourselves against the shock waves that stun the senses. The rocketing Bofors, joined by its fellows in a collective crescendo, continued to cough up a torrent of vicious air bubble explosions. Once again, in this wild war, we were scudding the pinnacle of awareness and challenge as lives were being snuffed out in this hideous orchestration of death.

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