‘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.

Read the whole story at World War II Today




First Lancaster bombing raid

10th March 1942: First Lancaster bombing raid

The principal target on three nights was Krupps’ Works at Essen, a total of 336 aircraft dropping 397 tons of H.E. bombs (including 37 of 4,000 lbs.) and nearly 78,000 incendiaries. Our bombers included Lancasters, which were taking part for the first time in offensive operations. Fifteen of our aircraft are missing.




The RAF continues the attack on Brest

On the night of the 5th, 140 aircraft dropped 203 tons of H.E. bombs and 7,200 incendiaries on the dock area at Brest, and, on four other nights, a total of 126 aircraft dropped a further 186 tons of H.E. bombs and 12,680 incendiaries on the same objective. Visibility was generally poor, but, during the heaviest raid, occasional gaps in the cloud enabled the crews to observe bomb bursts in the dock and dry-dock areas and along the torpedo boat quay. They also saw large fires followed by explosions in the town and Port Militaire.




Bombing mission to attack Japanese Philippine landings

He ran from one side to the other operating the side guns in the tail. Gootee’d reload for him while he was busy on the other gun. Then one of the Japs got a bead on Brown while he was working over the mess with his gun, shot the sights right off the gun and got Brown in the wrist. Without stopping his relay race between the two guns, he tied a handkerchief around it — tight — and went on shooting.




Low level attack on Naples

‘Get the searchlightsi’ I yelled at the gunners, and took her down to rooftop height. We lost the searchlights, and the night-fighter as well; searchlights didn’t go down to street level, which was where we were now, and I guess the night-fighter had more sense.




A narrow escape over Bremerhaven

We had just finished a tight turn when it happened. There was a terric explosion somewhere at the back of my head… everything went black and then red, punctured with little green and yellow dots. I heard my radioman say ‘My God!’ Then everything was silent. In the silence I could feel myself thinking ’This is it! This is the end of your run. . . you have not done so badly. . . what’s this? The seventh raid? You’ve been lucky – some chaps don’t last seven trips…




‘Target for Tonight’ released in USA

The true, thrilling quality of it lies in the remarkable human detail which Mr Watt has worked into it — the quiet, efficient way in which each man goes about his job; the interjection of humor which even the grimmest task and danger cannot suppress, and finally the tremendous suspense of the routine bombing attack …




An airman’s first and last operational flight

During the early morning of the 30th of September 1941 the crew were well into their return leg of the flight and was more or less on course for their home base at Topcliffe. They crossed the Yorkshire coast at around 03.30hrs in the Middlesbrough area and a course was set for base at Topcliffe, at a height of 2000 feet to avoid striking the high ground they would have to cross over. There were no problems up to then in the flight.




Bomber Command target Hanover

Our Whitley leapt about 200 feet with the release of tons of high explosives. Now we flew straight and level for 30 seconds, the longest 30 seconds anyone will ever know, so that we could get the required photo of the drop for the intelligence officer back at base. Picture taken – now let’s get the hell out of here.