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#2820792 - 07/17/09 02:04 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]
RedToo Offline
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Registered: 11/01/05
Posts: 964
Loc: Bolton UK
Part 21.

August, 1940

HUDSONS’ MILLIONTH MILE

BY A SQUADRON COMMANDER OF COASTAL COMMAND

I am the Commanding Officer of a Squadron which has just completed a million miles of flying in Hudson aircraft.

A million miles is a long way—about four times the distance between the earth and the moon. Indeed, for most of our flying time, we might have been on our way to the moon for all that we saw of Mother Earth.

We clocked up our millionth mile quite quietly. It happened the other night when we had a number of aircraft out over the North Sea. After they came back we logged up the mileage, and found we were well over the million mark. Incidentally, we've used up enough petrol in those million miles to send a fleet of four hundred family-cars right round the world.

Our work is general reconnaissance—known in the Service as "G.R."—and we are a unit of the Coastal Command of the Royal Air Force. A reconnaissance really means going somewhere to see what is there. But while that is the essence of our job, there is actually a great deal more to it than that. For instance, we do a lot of bombing, and, when we run into enemy aircraft, we have to be fighters as well.

I would like to tell you first something about our day to day work, then about our aircraft, and finally about the men who compose our Squadron. I'm not going to try to shoot a line about hair-raising exploits in which our Squadron has played a part—not because we haven't had plenty, but because that would be putting such incidents in a false perspective. Our work is not spectacular in the main. It is a hard, plodding routine on patrols. Every day, in sunshine, rain or snow we go out over the North Sea to find out what's happening on the other side. With the long days of summer we put in plenty of flying hours, but winter, of course, is the biggest test. Think of a bare aerodrome in the bleak darkness of a frigid morning, a bitter wind whistling, and perhaps ice on the ground. Pilots, navigators, air-gunners and wireless operator stagger and slither to their aircraft, laden like Father Christmases with their bulky navigation bags, parachutes, flying kit, thermos flasks, packets of sandwiches, pigeon baskets and what-nots.

Flying towards the rising sun, it may be the navigator has just enough light to see the white horses on the grey sea as he lies full length in the nose of the aircraft calculating wind, drift, speed and position. The engines drone on for a couple of hours before the coast of Norway comes into view, or is found hidden in cloud or mist. It isn't uncommon for the crew never to see land in six or seven hours' flying, although they may be so close to the mountains of the Norwegian coast as to be in danger of running into them. If visibility permits, they go into the fjords to take photographs, spot shipping and note anti-aircraft positions and aerodrome sites. Such information is of the greatest importance to Coastal Command, and many a fruitful bombing raid has been made possible by the preliminary reports from my Squadron.

In the early parts of the war the Squadron did a good deal of U-boat hunting. There was scarcely a pilot who had not had a crack at one or more, and our total bag of enemy submarines is quite impressive. Even if a U-boat sees us coming and crash-dives as fast as it can, it may still be within reach of our bombs. They are timed to explode beneath the surface of the sea. Then a shuddering and a disturbance of the water, and masses of dark brown oil coming up. These tell what has happened in the sea below. Other U-boats, which we caught by surprise on the surface, proved easy prey. Some of my pilots have seen their heavy bombs burst right on the hulls.

Now that Germany threatens to invade this country from Norway, our work has become even more vital. If Germany should ever attempt a mass crossing of the North Sea, my crews may well be the first British subjects to find it out. It might be on their reports that the whole of our anti-invasion system of defence would spring into operation. Please don't think for a moment that a reconnaissance, say, of the North Sea or Norwegian coast is just a question of flying over there, taking a few photographs, making observations, and flying back. I wish it were as simple as that.

But the Germans have established a very excellent system of coast defences, specially designed to keep our aircraft from doing the jobs we want them to do. So we have to look out for such hazards as enemy fighters, patrolling the coast, and anti-aircraft fire which is of an accuracy not to be sneezed at. It is on such occasions that we use our Hudsons as fighters.
To match an aircraft built for reconnaissance work against a modern fighter is rather like putting a retired boxing champion against the newest holder of the title. The fighters have an advantage over us in speed, but we carry pretty useful armament, and our big aircraft can take an enormous amount of punishment.

You would be surprised if you could see the condition of some aircraft which our pilots bring home. One of my pilot-officers—who, by the way, has just received the D.F.C.—is making quite a habit of bringing back what one might describe as a bundle of shell holes held together by pieces of fuselage. I was aghast when I saw the holes in his last two efforts. You could crawl through the gashes in the wings and petrol tanks. In one case the undercarriage folded up as he landed. In the other, although it stayed in position, one tyre was shot to pieces and made the aircraft sink dangerously.

There's no doubt about it, our Hudsons are first-class aircraft for the job of reconnaissance. They have far more room in them than the average Service machine; indeed, there's the same internal space as in the Civil counterpart, the Lockheed 14 airliner, in which some of you have probably flown before the war. There is a row of windows in each side of the cabin, a folding bed, hot and cold air regulator—in fact, every modern convenience. The seats, of course, have been taken out, and there is a gun turret in the tail. The operational performance, too, is exceptionally good. The fact that we use these land-planes so much for long reconnaissances over the sea speaks for itself. Nobody ever worries about engine failure, which used to cause so much anxiety in the last war. A typical remark was made by one of my pilots as he taxied in the other day after a long trip. He turned to his navigator and said: "You'd think these blinking engines would go on turning over forever."

And now I'll tell you a little about the lads who do this work. They are the advance scouts of our defence system, and they accept gladly the risks of the scout—the danger of running into enemy forces and the prospect of lone flights with the odds against you, where you know that if you survive the fight, you have a long slog back, perhaps damaged, over the sea to your base.

There is little glamour in our work. It is rather like the northern patrols of the Navy—loneliness, monotony, danger of dirty weather. But it is a vital work, and the men of my squadron and other squadrons who do similar work include some of the most experienced pilots and navigators in the Royal Air Force. They have hundreds of hours of war flying to their credit, and many of them have been out on more than a hundred long range operational flights.

They are all grand types, and I should like to make special mention of the sergeant pilots and also of the wireless operators and air gunners, and the ground staff who are an indispensable part of the Squadron.

At nights when I go down to the aerodrome, waiting for the aircraft to come back from the sea, I often think of those in my squadron who have not returned. Their work has gone to build up our first million miles. I know they would wish us luck as we go forward to our second million miles.


A Hudson crew back from a patrol off the German and Scandinavian coasts. Left to right: Navigator, Pilot, Wireless Operator, Rear Gunner (with carrier-pigeons taken in case of wireless failure).


A Hudson back from reconnaissance over Norway with a shell hole in her wing.


Edited by RedToo (07/17/09 02:14 PM)
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#2824583 - 07/22/09 02:09 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]
RedToo Offline
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Registered: 11/01/05
Posts: 964
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Hi all,

As they say in the quiz thread over at UBI: It's Intermission Time! I'm off on holiday tomorrow and internetless for two weeks. I will be here:



A German seaplane base during the war. Anybody guess where? See you all in a fortnight.

RedToo.
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#2824984 - 07/23/09 01:26 AM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]
Blackdog_kt Offline
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Registered: 01/26/08
Posts: 681
Looking at the location info under your username i suppose you'd probably be going somewhere warm to enjoy the sea during the summer, so i guess a seaplane base in Norway is not a likely spot rofl

Putting two and two together, is it in the channel islands? If i'm not mistaken they were the only part of the UK to be occupied by Germany during the war. Failing that, it could also be in France?

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#2837222 - 08/08/09 03:30 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: Blackdog_kt]
RedToo Offline
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Registered: 11/01/05
Posts: 964
Loc: Bolton UK
Hi Blackdog. You were right first time - Norway. Specifically the seaplane base at Stavanger. It looks quite different today. There is an excellent little plane museum on the site now - Sola FlyMuseum which contains quite a bit of WWII stuff. They are rebuilding an Italian bomber which was based at Stavanger aerodrome during WWII and a 109 G1 that was pulled out of the sea a few years ago. Anyhow on with the stories.

Part 22.

August, 1940

A BOMBER BAGS A FIGHTER

BY A CANADIAN PILOT OFFICER

It was the first time I had ever been chased by German fighters, but the observer and gunner were sergeants of long experience. They were grand and kept their heads well, and I am proud to be in the same crew.

We were on our way home from a daylight raid one day last week. We had already been fired at by A.A. batteries near the Zuider Zee, and apparently the crews of the batteries had wasted no time in reporting our presence to the German fighter squad¬rons, for we had been heading west for only about five minutes when the enemy fighters caught us up. Two of them broke off and came for us—a Messerschmitt 109 and a Heinkel 112. We were about 6,000 feet up at the time, and as there was no cloud to dodge into, we dived down to nearly sea level so that both of our opponents would be obliged to attack us from above.

We had crossed the coast by this time and they followed us out to sea, both firing, and our rear gunner firing back. For a while we seemed to be doing nothing else but turning either to port or to starboard. After about fifteen minutes of skimming around just clear of the water the aircraft suddenly became rather hard to control, and we found that one of the ailerons had been shot away.

Just about the same time the gunner got the Messerschmitt. He had put in a good burst at him as he was coming up at us from above and astern, about 300 feet up, and the German fighter just put his nose down and dived straight into the North Sea. That left us with only the Heinkel to reckon with, and he stuck to us and continued to exchange bursts with our own gunner.

At this time I was taking evasive action mainly by watching the pattern the Heinkel's tracers were making on the water and banking out of the line of fire thus revealed. The gunner was still giving me directions, but the intercommunication had been damaged, so the observer came and assisted me by making signals with his hands to show me which way to turn. It was quicker than talking and we didn't have much time to spare.

Suddenly I heard a yell of fury from the gunner, followed by an awful volley of language. It didn't take long to find out what had happened. Oil started spraying around in the front cock¬pit and we knew the hydraulic system had been put out of action. This meant that the gunner instead of being able to manipulate his gun mechanically had to do it manually, which is no easy matter in an aircraft which is making violent movements. Meanwhile I couldn't see much out of the front window which had become smeared all over with oil, but I was trying to keep roughly to a westerly course all the time.

After about thirty-five minutes' chase, the rear gunner stopped firing and called out, "You can take it easy now, sir, he's cleared off". That was a relief and we climbed up from the water to a safer height and made straight for the aerodrome. We knew we were in for what we call a "Belly landing"—that is to say landing on the body of the machine with the wheels up, because with the hydraulic system out of action the undercarriage wouldn't come down.

Having jettisoned a few things that might have added to the danger of landing, we circled the aerodrome several times to warn the ground staff to have the ambulance and fire-engine ready. But they weren't needed for she parked down all right, and that is about all there is to it. Nobody was hurt; and we are still together as a crew.



A Wellington heavy bomber sets off.
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#2841488 - 08/14/09 03:50 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]
RedToo Offline
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Registered: 11/01/05
Posts: 964
Loc: Bolton UK
Part 23. In colour!

August, 1940

GATE-CRASHING A GERMAN BALLOON BARRAGE

BY A PILOT OFFICER OF A HEAVY BOMBER SQUADRON

We had a bit of excitement a few nights back when we ran slap into the middle of a German balloon barrage. Our luck was in. Not only did we get away with it, but we brought one of the balloons down.

Our target that night was a synthetic oil plant at a place called Gelsenkirchen which is in the middle of the Ruhr. It was a dark night—very dark—and we had come down to about 6,000 feet to find the target. We dropped our flares and located and bombed the works, then we climbed and went back to see what results we'd had. My second pilot was flying the plane. I'd been down in the bomb aimer's position, which is in the nose of the aircraft, doing the bombing.

Suddenly I saw a long dark shape silhouetted against the clouds; then, as the searchlights played across them, I saw three more. They looked rather sinister and they were on the port beam and port quarter about a hundred yards away. By now I'd gone up from the bomb aimer's position and was standing beside the second pilot. I gave instructions to the gunners to open fire at the balloons and we started to turn away to starboard to get away from them. Immediately afterwards the second pilot threw the aircraft into a very steep right-hand turn for he'd seen another balloon coming straight up in front of him. It had loomed up out of the darkness dead ahead and our wing tip just caught the fabric. If the pilot hadn't yanked the aircraft over quickly we should have flown right into it, the envelope would have wrapped itself round the plane, and that would have been the end of the trip, but all that happened was that the aircraft bucked a bit, then there was a terrific explosion which we could hear even above the roar of the engines and I imagine the Germans were minus one balloon, though we couldn't see what happened.

After the explosion, when we climbed up higher, we found we'd been flying along a row of balloons right in the thick of 'em. It was pretty amazing that we hadn't hit a few more, for when we'd been bombing, we must have been among all the cables. I knew there were balloons in the area—we'd been warned about them before we started—but the only way to find the target was to come down fairly low, so we had to take the odd chance. When we examined the aircraft the next day we found it hadn't been damaged at all.

Another raid which I shan't forget in a hurry happened just before this balloon incident. On this occasion we were bombing the railway marshalling yards at Hamm. There's an important railway traffic centre here and it seems to be selected as a target most nights in the week. When we took off, the weather was pretty poor and at 7,000 feet it was freezing. Over the North Sea we struck heavy banks of cloud. I climbed to 14,000 feet, but even at that height we couldn't get out of it—so we just carried on flying through cloud; there was nothing else we could do about it. When we were about fifteen minutes away from our target, the port engine began to splutter and the engine revolu-tions dropped. This time again I was down in the bomb aimer's position preparing the bomb sight. I realized that we'd probably got ice in the carburetter, so I came back to the second pilot. The starboard engine spluttered and soon both engines ceased to give any power at all. Our air speed indicator packed up, so did the altimeter. We didn't know whether we had flying speed or how high we were. The second pilot and I were flying the machine between us while he was fixing the warm air control which had become disengaged. This is an arrangement by which the air, instead of being sucked straight in, is warmed up by the heat of the engine before being passed through to the carburetter. He'd got both his hands on the warm air lever, forcing it down as far as it would possibly go and he'd got his feet on the rudders while I grabbed the stick, keeping the aircraft on an even keel. I could tell by the feel of it that we were going down very quickly.

We were heavily iced up; the wings had a thick layer of ice on them and one couldn't see through the windscreen because that too was covered in ice. It didn't matter very much about that because it was so dark and we were still in cloud, so we wouldn't have been able to see anyway. I decided that if the engines didn't come on within another four or five seconds, I'd give the order to abandon the aircraft. I'd got the words on the tip of my tongue, when the port engine spluttered a couple of times and began to pick up again. It would still have been impossible to maintain height with the amount of ice we had on the aircraft, but I decided to hang on a little longer before giving the order to bale out. The starboard engine picked up, and after a bit more spluttering, both engines started working normally again.

We flew on for another half minute or so and then the altimeter started registering. I looked at the height and found it was approximately 4,000 feet, that meant that we'd come down in a dive about 11,000 feet. We were just recovering from this when we ran into an electrical storm. The effect was so weird that I began to wonder whether we hadn't arrived in another world. The others said afterwards that they began to think the same thing too. Everything seemed outlined in a blue haze. The pro¬pellers made shining spinning circles. The two guns in the front turret were pointing up in the air and there was the same blue haze round them too. The front gunner reported that there were sparks jumping from one gun to another. The rear gunner after¬wards said, that for a minute he thought his guns were actually firing and he couldn't understand it. As I looked at the second pilot's face, I saw that it was ringed with blue. The tips of his fingers had the same blue haze around them. It covered the instrument panel and ran along the leading edges of the wings. That lasted about two minutes. It was one of the weirdest experiences I have ever had. I was very glad when we got out of the storm.

We flew on and arrived over our target area. The cloud was still so heavy that it was impossible to locate the marshalling yards, so we turned and came back, and on the way we bombed the alternative military target which had been allotted to us.

Three fighters picked us up near Rotterdam. First of all the rear gunner reported one enemy aircraft apparently trailing us, then he was joined by a couple of his pals. We got all set for a bit of a scrap but nothing happened. They didn't attack and we arrived back at the base without further incident.


Last minute preparations on a Whitely Bomber.
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#2845697 - 08/21/09 03:20 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]
RedToo Offline
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Registered: 11/01/05
Posts: 964
Loc: Bolton UK
Part 24.

August, 1940

STORY OF A FIGHTER SERGEANT PILOT

Here is a story of one of those fighter pilots you read about quite a lot —a sergeant pilot. This young man—he will be twenty-three next November—has been in the R.A.F. since September, 1935. After getting his wings he was posted to his present squadron in August, 1936. He has fought with them in France, over Dunkirk, and over the Channel, as well as, of course, over this country. He has been in action at least thirty times, and in addition to many enemy aircraft damaged he has a bag of six definitely destroyed. He was fighting last Wednesday, the day seventy-eight German raiders were destroyed.

OUR squadron had a very enjoyable time last Wednesday before breakfast. We had a lovely party somewhere off the Isle of Sheppey in the Thames estuary. It was a beautiful morning, and twelve of us were flying very high over Beachy Head. We were told to patrol below clouds over Dover and then we had orders to intercept enemy aircraft between us and the North Foreland. So we went down to about 3,000 feet just below clouds. We turned north and came over the Thames estuary. It was very misty so we went up again above the clouds to about 6,000 feet. The sun was coming up from the east—and so were the enemy. We saw two formations of bombers—two lots of twelve aircraft, one behind the other, with about two miles between them. They were 1,500 feet lower than we were, so we had an immediate advantage. Our squadron leader gave his orders quickly, and clearly, over the radio telephone. He would lead his flight of six Hurricanes round the back of the first formation, and the other flight of six, which included myself, was to deliver a head-on attack.

As soon as the leader of my flight went down towards the first formation, the enemy darted down for the clouds. I should have explained, by the way, that the squadron was in four sections of three each in line astern. The CO. led the first two sections, and I was leading the last section of three. It is one of the duties of the last section to give warning of approach of enemy fighters.

Anyway, when the Dorniers went into cloud, I led my section down after them, and when we emerged at the bottom of the clouds I found we were ahead of them. So I swung completely round and led a head-on attack on the second formation of Dorniers which had now appeared. I'm sure they got an awful shock. They didn't expect an attack from the front like that. You could see that they didn't like it.

My section came up from below and slightly to one side of the bombers and we blazed away for all we were worth. It was impossible to miss them. We simply sprayed them with bullets, and then we broke away to the left. One of them was badly hit and he broke away. I pounced on him right away, fired from dead astern, and after another pilot had fired at him I believe he went down to crash into the sea.

In a battle you don't often have time to see what happens to every enemy aircraft you shoot at. But you usually have a chance to look round and see what is happening near you. I looked around after my head-on attack and saw a grand sight. My flight-leader was leading his section up at the bombers head-on. I could see their machine-gun bullets spurting from their wings, and I could see the Germans losing their formation under this terrific fire.

After that we began to look for odd enemy bombers which were now wheeling about in the sky and trying to form up to¬gether. I went up above the clouds again with another pilot and we saw three Dorniers, looking very sorry for themselves, head¬ing for home. We took one each, and the one I fired at shed a lot of pieces from his wings and fuselage. I saw the other pilot —another sergeant, as a matter of fact—later when he landed. I asked him how he got on, and he said: "Fine! I got him nicely. First the rear gunner baled out and then I saw the Jerry plane go into the sea."

We had quite a good breakfast that morning, for including what we got the squadron's bag contained four certainties and a number of others probably destroyed or damaged.

I think my best day—by which I mean the day I enjoyed most —was one over Dunkirk during the evacuation of the B.E.F. Our squadron was patrolling Dunkirk at more than 10,000 feet —I doubt if our troops could see us at that height—when we saw a formation of about twenty Heinkels in. High above them were a lot of Messerschmitts 109 acting as a fighter escort. We were told to attack the fighters, but before we could reach them they sheered off, and left the bombers to us. We went down on them like a shot.

I got two of the easiest enemies of my life that afternoon. I dived on one Heinkel and gave him an incredibly short burst of fire. My thumb was still on the gun button when both his engines immediately caught fire. He put his nose down, and to my sur¬prise, I must confess, he went straight down into the sea with a tremendous splash. He just went straight in from 10,000 feet.

I climbed up a bit and looked round. Then I saw another Heinkel going east, having attacked shipping in Dunkirk harbour. I started chasing him, climbing after him all the time. When I got fairly near I just crept up to him—we were doing just over 200 m.p.h.—that is what I call "creeping" in a Hurricane. Any¬way, I crept after him for a few minutes and I'm sure he didn't see me until I opened fire from close in. I just let him have it —a long burst of five seconds. The rear gunner opened fire at me almost at the same moment that I started firing. He was silenced immediately, yet he managed to put half a dozen bullets into my aircraft. The Heinkel began to emit black smoke and dived vertically towards the sea. I watched him crash.

There was another day in France when we ran into ten Messerschmitts and only one of them got away. That was a good scrap. If I remember rightly, it was our first morning in France, too.

One afternoon, in France, when on patrol, we saw anti-aircraft shells bursting high above us. I spotted a German aircraft and reported it to the leader of the squadron. He as good as said, "Well, go and get it then, if you can see it". I went up to 15,000 feet and found it was a Dornier 17. I attacked from behind and below and in a few moments the machine caught fire and a second or two later, began a dive which ended on the ground. Then I rejoined the rest of the squadron to continue the patrol. I was just lucky to be the one who happened to see the enemy.

I have about 850 flying hours altogether on my log book, half of them on Hurricanes. As a matter of fact, I have been with the squadron longer than any other pilot. A few have joined since the war, but most of the pilots came in two or three years ago. There isn't one of them who hasn't got a Hun. It's a grand squadron to be in, I can assure you.

Dornier Do 17Z-1 bombers heading for England.


‘There he was, right in front of me...’ Adolf Galland describes his latest ‘scrap’ to Hauptmann Pingel of 1.JG 26. Pingel force-landed near Dover on 10 July 1941, and was captured with a total of twenty-six victories.
_________________________
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What can we do, except try to do better?

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#2850040 - 08/28/09 05:33 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]
RedToo Offline
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Registered: 11/01/05
Posts: 964
Loc: Bolton UK
Part 25.

August, 1940

ATTACK ON THE DORTMUND-EMS CANAL

BY A FLIGHT LIEUTENANT

The speaker is a twenty-seven-year-old R.A.F. bomber pilot. A member of one of the squadrons taking part in the exploits which he describes in this broadcast, was this week-end awarded the Victoria Cross for most conspicuous bravery.

Our target on this raid was the old aqueduct carrying the Dortmund-Ems Canal over the River Ems north of Münster. This canal is of great importance to the industrial area of the Ruhr. There is also at this point a new aqueduct, but when that was blown up as a result of previous raids the Germans had diverted all traffic to the old one. The operation had been most carefully planned. Five aircraft detailed for bombing, were to slip in and carry out their work. Two of the five, I am sorry to say, never got back.

Timing was an all-important factor. For a reason I cannot mention it was imperative that the five of us should all attack within a very short period.

At three o'clock in the afternoon we were told that we were going and at six o'clock that evening we were given the details of the operation. Aircraft from two squadrons were taking part. Having been there before, most of us knew the place pretty well. The actual briefing of the crews took about three-quarters of an hour. The whole place was carefully gone through with special maps and plans.

We synchronised our watches and the clocks in the aircraft before starting. Everybody got away right on time. Just after we took off, I saw one of the others in the air, but we soon lost sight of him. The timing had been worked out so as to allow us a ten-minute margin in case we got slightly off our course or had any trouble in getting into the target area. My navigator did a very fine job of work and we arrived at a point north of the target with our ten minutes in hand, so we circled round there for a bit.

Going out, there hadn't been any excitement, but we were not looking for trouble anyway. There were clouds on the way over but they cleared beautifully just on the edge of the target. The moon was about half full. We were relying on the moonlight reflecting on the water to give us our direction for the run up.

We being the last of the five were due to go in at 23.23. Two minutes before that time we came down to about 300 feet. We were then still several miles north of the target. Gradually we lost height as we came along the Canal, following its course all the time.

The navigator was in the nose of the aircraft doing the bomb-aiming. Everything was quiet until we got to the point where the Canal forked just before the two aqueducts. I was doing the run up to this point when the navigator was taking over the directing. We must have gone off a bit to the left because he called out "Right", then immediately after, when we had turned a bit to make the correction, he called out "Steady".

Then, suddenly, everything started at once—searchlights and all the anti-aircraft fire. It was unfortunate from our point of view of course, that the enemy knew pretty well the direction from which we must attack. They had disposed their defences so that they formed a sort of lane through which we had to pass. It seemed to me that they had strengthened these defences a great deal since the first raids.

The searchlights were blinding, and we were flying entirely on the bomb aimer's instructions. I had my head down inside the cockpit trying to see the instruments, but the glare made even that difficult. Our instructions were not to rush it too much because of the need for extreme accuracy. Before we started, the rear gunner had asked if he could fire at something or somebody and he was shooting at the searchlights as we went past.

Almost at the same moment as we bombed I felt a thump and the aircraft lurched to the right. A pom-pom shell had gone through the starboard wing. Then another shell hit the same wing between the fuselage and the engine. They were firing pretty well at point-blank range. It was all over in a few seconds. The navigator called out "O.K. finish". Then we turned away again. The ground defences were still after us but the tracer was dying out a bit by this time.

When we had got away and set course for the base the rear-gunner reported that oil was coming into his cockpit. Then the wireless operator reported that the flaps were drooping. I tried to raise them but found that they wouldn't come up. What had happened was that the hydraulic system had been damaged. We discovered too that the undercarriage indicators were out of action.

Not having landed without flaps before I didn't like to try it that night with a crew aboard, so we cruised around a bit doing a few local "cross countries" for about two and a half hours. We waited till dawn and then we came in all right.


Bristol Blenheim Bombers.
_________________________
My 'Waiting for Clodo' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

What can we do, except try to do better?

Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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#2854873 - 09/04/09 05:44 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]
RedToo Offline
Member

Registered: 11/01/05
Posts: 964
Loc: Bolton UK
Part 26.

August, 1940

A BOMBER SHOOTS DOWN THREE ENEMY FIGHTERS

BY A SERGEANT WIRELESS OPERATOR AIR GUNNER

The speaker is a sergeant wireless operator air gunner in one of our heavy bomber squadrons, who was recently awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for gallantry in operations against the enemy. He comes from Derby. He was the rear gunner in a bomber which was attacked by three enemy fighters. In the engagement which ensued, the sergeant shot down two of them and the third broke off the fight. In the official announce¬ment of the award, reference was made to the "high degree'' of skill, com¬bined with clear thinking and quick judgment which he displayed in successfully dealing with this attack.

It was on the way back from a raid in the Ruhr that these three fighters had a go at us. We had been flying for about a quarter of an hour after bombing our target when we were picked up by searchlights. I called up the pilot on the intercommunication set and told him that the lights were dazzling me. They held us right across the town of Wesel, which is to the north of the Ruhr; then, on the other side of the town, the pilot finally got out of them.

There was no anti-aircraft fire, so I was keeping a particularly sharp look-out for fighters. Suddenly, tracer bullets started flying past the turret and I saw three fighters coming in at us from the rear. One was coming in from the starboard quarter and below us; the second was above and practically dead astern; and the third was five or six degrees to port, and he—like the one on the other side—was also attacking from below. To me it seemed that all three were converging on the rear turret.

The one on the starboard quarter seemed to be pretty close, so I had first shot at him. The first burst seemed to hit. If you can get your first burst all right, you can usually guarantee to get your following ones in too, unless things are particularly awkward; so I just kept pumping quick bursts into him—six or seven altogether. He was hitting us too. Some of his shots went through the tail plane, the rudder and the wireless mast, and an explosive shell from his cannon hit the armour plating of my turret. I didn't realise at the time that the shell had actually hit us. I thought it had exploded just outside. Anyway I know the bang deafened me for thirty-six hours afterwards.

The fighter got to within about one hundred or a hundred and fifty yards of the rear turret; then he pulled up like an aircraft pulling out of a dive. He seemed to hang there for a bit and I got in a few more bursts right into the belly of the machine. I saw him turn over and then I swung the turret on to the second fighter which had been closing in all this time, firing his four guns. I could see four streams of tracer coming at us. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed the first fighter go down in flames. He exploded in the air or when he hit the deck—I couldn't say which.

This second aircraft was the one which was flying slightly to port. I missed him with the first three bursts, because I was misjudging his speed, but the fourth burst hit him all right and after that I just kept repeating the performance. He was pretty deadly, too, and did further damage to our plane. The navigator got hit in the leg—not badly though—but nobody else was hurt. Then the fighter curled away out of my field of fire and that was the last I saw of him, but the second pilot said he saw him go down out of control.

After this the third enemy fighter came down on us. He closed in to about three hundred yards but wouldn't come any closer. I got a bit fed up with this so I fired a good long burst in his direction and he sheered off. We didn't see him again.

Altogether, I've done just over twenty raids over Germany, but that was the most exciting one of the lot. I've got my twentieth birthday coming along in a few days' time and I hope to be over Germany that night.


A Bristol Blenheim Bomber.
_________________________
My 'Waiting for Clodo' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

What can we do, except try to do better?

Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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#2859088 - 09/11/09 05:33 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]
RedToo Offline
Member

Registered: 11/01/05
Posts: 964
Loc: Bolton UK
Part 27. Barrage Balloons.

August, 1940

WORK OF A BALLOON UNIT

BY AN AIRCRAFTMAN

"The Commanding Officer congratulates the Flight on the rapidity with which operations were carried out at dawn to-day."

That message was signalled, not so long ago, to the flight headquarters of a Balloon Barrage Squadron on the South-east coast. It was then conveyed personally by the flight commander to the three crews concerned. Their balloons had been shot down at dusk the previous evening, when Jerry had sent over hundreds of planes. The crews had inflated at the break of day, and new balloons were flying well before breakfast, when Jerry came over again. If he had expected to find a gap in the barrage, as I am sure he did, he was sorely disappointed.

The flight was having its "baptism of fire". For months we had been kicking our heels on the Commons and parks of London—flying balloons in all sorts of weather, in frost and snow, in gales and in scorching sunshine—and yet nothing much had happened, a real test of patience if you like. No wonder some of the crews had been "browned off".

Then all at once the war flared up in the South-east. Our flight was ordered to be ready to be off at once. We were mobile again. Twelve months ago we started up the winches and drove out of our centre—yes twelve months ago, all but a week or two, for we auxiliaries were mobilised on August 24th last year. Now we were on the move again. Well, we left our sites on the commons, and before breakfast next morning, Jerry woke to face a balloon barrage on the cliffs—a challenge to repeat his dive bombing if he dared!

Well, in the days I was there he seemed to think dive bombing a trifle too dangerous. But, of course, he was out to destroy the barrage, with his machine-guns, cannons, and bombs. Our days of inactivity had ended. The crews soon had to learn all about improvisation. Sometimes a balloon, when shot down, would fall over the cliff into the sea, and could not be recovered.

There were no elaborate beds. Concrete blocks and ringbolts were a memory of quieter days, but one was made out of heavy baulks of timber, around which were bound wire strops, to which the snatch blocks were fastened. For practical ballooning, service under war conditions, on a cliff edge, with the enemy intervening, is the best training for would-be L.A.C.s.

Only the high Command can form an accurate estimate of the military value of the balloon barrage on that coast. All I know is that the civilians gave full marks to the balloons. Jerry did not stop his bombing raids, but he had to fly above the balloons and was dropping his bombs very wide of the mark. Gunners of the anti-aircraft units were not quite so enthusiastic about us at first. One voiced his complaint to me in these words: "Since your balloon men came we haven't been able to have a smack at Jerry." However, I am glad to be able to say that before we left, the gunner had all the smacks at Jerry that any man could desire, and he made good use of his opportunities. Indeed, co-operation between balloons and anti-aircraft gunners was developed with deadly effect. Some of the Jerry airmen were full of courage—let us acknowledge that. They would fly down at the balloons and run straight into the barrage of anti-aircraft fire, paying for their bravery with their lives. It was certainly brave but seemed so foolish, that I can only conclude that Jerry was desperate to get rid of the balloons. I cannot see that he gained much, for even if one German plane shot down as many as four balloons—really a fantastic supposition, for he could never do it—and lost his plane as a result, the price was immense, for whereas we never suffered casualties in personnel with our lost balloons, Jerry and his crew were either killed or taken prisoner. Which seems to suggest that Hitler has not the slightest regard for the lives of his men.

Balloons, it was found, are not so vulnerable a target as Jerry had hoped. It does seem so easy to hit a balloon with a machine-gun. But in practice it is not so easy to make a balloon a casualty. Jerry could put a whole burst of gunfire into a balloon, but the bullets went in one side, and came out of the other, leaving only the most minute holes. Then when the balloon came down for the daily inspection and topping up, it did not take long to apply patches of fabric. An ample supply of solution and fabric pre¬vented gas escaping, or purity decreasing. Later Jerry tried small cannon shell, most delicately constructed to explode on the slightest impact, but some of these failed to do so. A word of advice: When one falls near your balloon, and fails to explode, surround it with a wall of sandbags and call in the experts to remove it. Don't touch it yourself if you value your skin.

Our transport men did wonderful work. They hauled the trailers backwards and forwards, over fields, along cart-roads, only yards from the cliff edges, never making a mistake, seeing that every site had sufficient gas to deal with every eventuality. Food and rations went out automatically, under front-line conditions.

It was the front-line. We saw much of the Army, the Navy, and the Merchant Service to inspire us. We were proud to wear the uniform of Royal Air Force—colleagues of the brave pilots that fought the Germans almost miles above our balloons. But above all, we were glad that the balloons had justified themselves in fierce aerial warfare. The long hours of training, the practice obtained in the quiet months of waiting, have served their purpose.

In warfare the balloons have stood up to the enemy, and our boys in the crews have proved that they can stand up to every¬thing that Jerry can send over—and get on with the job of helping to win the war.

Of course barrage balloons were tended by women as well as men ...









RedToo
_________________________
My 'Waiting for Clodo' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

What can we do, except try to do better?

Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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#2863239 - 09/18/09 06:03 PM Re: While we're waiting for BoB SoW: WWII BBC RAF Broadcasts [Re: RedToo]
RedToo Offline
Member

Registered: 11/01/05
Posts: 964
Loc: Bolton UK
Part 28.

August, 1940

A HUDSON'S ADVENTURES

BY A PILOT OFFICER OF COASTAL COMMAND

I was the pilot of a Lockheed Hudson reconnaissance aircraft of the Coastal Command which attracted the unwelcome attention of seven Messerschmitt 109s over the North Sea. The fact that I'm here to tell you about it now is the best possible tribute to the skill of my crew and the fighting qualities of the American-built aircraft we were flying.

We were patrolling near the Danish coast early in the afternoon, flying just below the clouds at about 2,000 feet, when we sighted two enemy supply ships ploughing along in heavy seas. We decided to attack.

Those of you who have seen Hudson aircraft, or their civil counterpart, the Lockheed 14, would hardly believe that these converted air-liners could do dive-bombing attacks. It's rather like an omnibus in a T.T. race. But they can do it—and quite successfully, as the enemy no doubt realises by now.

So I put the nose down, straight for one of the ships, and we dived 1,000 feet. We released the bombs as we pulled out, and they fell a few yards ahead of the target. I was busy climbing and turning for another attack, and the observer saw the bombs swamp the ship in foam. They exploded just under its bow, and must have damaged it considerably. There was some A.A. fire at us, but it was weak and inaccurate.

We came round again for a repeat performance, and started another dive. Just as we were whistling down nicely, I got a bit of a shock. Coming towards us from the east was a formation of seven enemy fighters—Messerschmitt 109s. They were in "V" formation, and looked to me like a swarm of angry bees out for trouble. I decided that was no place for a solitary reconnaissance aircraft, and increased my dive down to sea level.

The seven fighters closed on us, and then the fun began. My crew immediately went to action stations. I opened up the engines as we switchbacked and skimmed over the waves. Each time we turned, the wing-tips were almost in the water. The Messerschmitts came up, four on one side of us and three on the other. They were a good deal faster than us, and kept flying in turn at our beams, delivering head-on attacks.

Our guns were blazing away, and I remember looking behind me into the smoke-filled cabin to see how things were going. One thing sticks in my mind. It was our carrier-pigeon, slung from the roof in its basket, looking down at all the racket with a very upstage expression. The pigeon seemed to be saying: "I suppose all this is necessary, but please finish it as soon as possible."

However, the fighters were still going strong and so were we! I kept track of their approaches by glancing over my shoulder. Each time a Messerschmitt approached I gave a slight movement to the controls which lifted us out of the line of fire. I could see the cannon shells and bullets zipping into the water, splashing and churning up foam. . . . Not that we were unscathed! Four holes suddenly appeared in the window above my head, and shrapnel and bullets were coming into the cabin pretty steadily. I was flying in my shirt-sleeves, and had hung my tunic in the back of the cabin. When I took it down afterwards there were four nice clean bullet holes through the back, sleeves and side. I was glad 1 hadn't been in it!

From the continuous rattle of our guns, I thought we had sustained no casualties, but after about twenty minutes when I looked back I found that the wireless operator, who is a veteran of the last war, had a bullet wound in the arm. But he carried on until the enemy broke off the engagement.

Up till then, I hadn't had much chance of using my front guns. But a change in tactics by the Nazi fighters gave me a chance of getting in some bursts. The seven Messerschmitts weren't get¬ting much change from side-on attacks, so they began to come from ahead. That was just what I wanted. By turning my Hudson at them I got home several hundred rounds.

By this time we were climbing up towards the scattered clouds, where the fighters still continued their attacks and turned the battle into a grim sort of hide and seek. At last we shook them off, and were able to take stock of our position. The fight had then lasted just over half an hour.

The wireless operator came to have his wound dressed by my navigator, and the rear gunner asked permission to leave his turret. When he came forrard we found he had been wounded in the leg and, like the wireless operator, had carried on without saying anything about it.

They had seen most of the fight, and as their wounds were being bandaged I shouted above the noise of the engines, "Any luck?" The gunner held up one finger, then pointed straight downwards and grinned. Then he held up another and pointed slantingly down. This meant that one Messerschmitt had gone down for certain, and he had seen another gliding down to the sea apparently out of control. The wireless operator confirmed our successes.

We had a long slog back to England—about two hours in a damaged aircraft. In spite of the hard tousing I had given the engines they were behaving perfectly, but I knew we would have trouble with the undercarriage. Sure enough, when we tried to put it down to land, it would only go halfway. We signalled to the aerodrome's staff that we were going to make an emergency landing. I sent all the crew to the back of the machine to ease the trim. Then we came in. The wheels supported us a little, and we landed quite sweetly. The wounded members of my crew are O.K.


A Hudson’s pigeon getting ready for action.
_________________________
My 'Waiting for Clodo' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

What can we do, except try to do better?

Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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