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Eight Minutes to Beuningen.


TIM BARLOW


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN

Eight Minutes to Beuningen They gave their today for our tomorrow; for honour and distinction.

Tim Barlow.

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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

This book contains material protected under UK & International Copyright Laws. Any unauthorised reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, projecting audibly or visually or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author.

Copyright Š 2012-5, Tim Barlow timothydbarlow@gmail.com


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN

Foreword Tim Barlow’s research into the life and untimely death in action of his great uncle, Jack Osborne, has led him into areas rarely covered in books about war; and for the student of WWII these chapters certainly make very interesting reading. He reveals the lives and backgrounds of the crew members of Lancaster LM325 who lost their lives on the night of 22/23 June 1943, as well as uncovering the incredible tale of the sole surviving crew member. He also chronicles the impact of their missions at home and abroad and of the crash on their family, friends and residents of Beuningen in Holland; where six of the crew died. He has met an eye witnesses to the crash, the surviving protagonists and been given a sculpture made of LM325’s last remains that was made in 1943. Furthermore he has shown some quite remarkable truths and coincidences throughout his investigation. Highlighting the fact that the majority of Bomber Command aircrew were not only young but that they came from a wide variety of backgrounds; in this case using their own pictures, letters, documents, family stories and all of the surviving original and official documents pertaining to the event. He has righted wrongs and introduced forgotten family members to their successors and has discovered the incredible story of the German anti-hero. The reader will be mindful that I joined 101 Squadron as a Navigator two days after Lancaster LM325 was lost and can confirm that Tim’s description of squadron and operational life is accurate. I completed sixteen trips and an additional one that we had to abort due to oxygen failure. On our fifteenth trip we had a bit of a hairy time and all of the crew received immediate awards, two Conspicuous Gallantry Medals, one Distinguished Flying Cross and four Distinguished Flying Medals. On the sixteenth trip I sustained a perforated eardrum, finishing up in hospital. My crew continued without me and three trips later were shot down over Belgium, most were killed. Only the Pilot, Wireless Operator and the replacement Navigator survived. After six months on the ground I got a restricted (8000ft) flying category and went onto air/sea rescue. The end of hostilities came and in my case and this investigation; luck played an enormous part in survival. 101 Squadron’s WWII veterans can still be numbered in double figures, although sadly we are reducing each year and at the time of writing the future of 101 Squadron is in doubt. But whatever the outcome of the current review the Squadron Association along with the Annual Meeting and Memorial Service at Ludford Magna, newsletter and works like this, we will continue to remember.

Geoffrey Whittle, DFM, Navigator, Squadron Leader (retired). August 2012. (See Appendix page 524 for more on the ‘hairy events' on his fifteenth trip).

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Dedication I am delighted to pass on this book and do so dedicating it to the memories of all those men and women who rose to the challenge of their generation and the paid the ultimate price.

Preface I have been intrigued, enchanted and awed during my journey investigating Jack Osborne’s life: An investigation that contains, and which has been made possible by, a series of the most incredible coincidences. On 23rd June 1943 an RAF Lancaster bomber on an outgoing mission was shot down over Holland, all but one of the crew were killed. This narrative looks at their pre-war lives and missions along with the story of the survivor and the work that has continued to this day to preserve their memorial; keeping alive the memories of the crew and those dark days of the 1940’s. Eight Minutes to Beuningen has been written by Tim Barlow, whose Great Uncle, Jack Osborne, was the Flight Engineer and one of the crew that lost their lives.

Introduction I would not have started this if it had not been for my brother; I could not have finished it without finding the relatives of those involved. It has been woven together from original primary evidence, archived material, and first-hand accounts from those involved. By meshing the elements together I hope I have been able to document Jack’s experiences and build a picture of what he, with his crew and all of Bomber Command, did in the name of their King. Consequently I profoundly and wholeheartedly thank all of the families, websites and organisations who have given their permissions to include articles, commentary, interviews, photographs and facts for my story.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN Section

Title

Page Number

Foreword

5

Acknowledgements

6

Jack Osborne

9

Places of interest in the UK

11

1

Who was Jack Osborne?

13

2

101 Squadron

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101 Squadron’s contribution to the Allied Bomber offensive in May and June 1943

99

4

This is what they flew to do

117

5

Eight Minutes to Beuningen

131

6

What happened next?

135

7

Visiting Beuningen

205

8

Meeting Ton and Diny Las

235

9

Meeting Pam Williams

243

10

Meeting Harry Chisnall

277

11

Meeting Ivy May Dalby

297

12

Meeting Sallie Davies

337

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Meeting Laraine Sugden

377

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Meeting Peter Ronald Cooper

383

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Meeting Shirley Nicholas

409

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Jack’s unknown sweetheart

417

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A long overdue return to Ludford Magna

423

18

101 Squadron Reunion & Memorial Service

435

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Reynolds. F. G

471

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Werner Baake

477

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Memorial Service 2012

483

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Only Birds and Fools, by J. Norman Ashton

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Geoffrey Whittle’s ‘hairy event’

524

Invaluable sources and resources

527

The Lancaster

531

Links to Lancaster archive footage

555

Stalag Luft VI

557

Jack’s, and the crews, Decorations

559

The real cost of war

563

Rupert Brooke war poem

573

The crew of LM325

574

LM325 SR-J

575

Osborne family grave

577

Index

579


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Jack Osborne: 1st June 1922 – 23rd June 1943.

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Robert Osborne = Edith Higson

-

Cyril Smith = Doris Osborne

John Barlow = Jennifer Smith

Tim (author)

Simon - Karen

Blake

Jack Osborne


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Places of Interest in the UK

Holme-On-Spalding Moor Lindholme Hindley

Ludford Magna

Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Hereford Caerphilly Rochester Abertillary Reigate Hereford

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EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN Section 1

Who was Jack Osborne?

As a child I remember my Nan regularly saying, “He’s just like Jack”. She wouldn’t elaborate on anything I did that sparked the comments and she never spoke about him to anyone else. All I knew was that he was a light in her life and although he shone for a brief period, he shone brightly. He was a lively, fun and outgoing young man. However, in the early twentieth century life was hard, the world was at war and nothing could be taken for granted. Her words stayed with me and over time I managed to piece together a few fragments about him, but whilst in conversation with my brother at Christmas, it became apparent he didn’t even know Jack had been born. He was already being forgotten. This once treasured sibling was vanishing from our family’s conscience and I felt compelled to discover more about the man of whom I reminded her. Jack was born on the 1st June 1922 at 6 Algernon Street, Hindley, North West of Manchester to Edith, Robert and big sister Doris. At seven years his senior she remembered him being passed around the table just after his birth. He attended St Peters Primary School in Hindley before moving onto Argyle Street Secondary school whereupon he obtained a scholarship into Wigan Technical College. Life had been normal for this family until one day in June 1932. By this time living at 5 Byron Avenue, Hindley, Jacks’ father, Robert, came home from work one day, sat in his chair and died. He had been the Assistant Under Manager of Parsonage Pit, Leigh, near Hindley. This is after working as a medical orderly in hospital ships coming back from Malta during the First World War. Edith never worked after Roberts death on account of a breakdown she suffered and despite looking rather fierce, was a kind and gentle lady. Edith tried to work, however Doris and Jack became quickly the bread winners. Doris worked as a pattern cutter in a Tailors shop making uniforms for the Birmingham Bus Service and United States Infantry by day. By night she taught adults at sewing and tailoring classes and took on extra sewing jobs. After school Jack earned his contribution through a wide variety of part time jobs. Life wasn’t easy but like everybody else they got on with it. Jack graduated from Wigan Technical College and took up a career with the printing firm “Mr J R Rudd, Printers and Stationers”. Performing the duties of a ‘Printers Devil’ and working under J. Norman Aston, his Master Printer, he contributed what he could to the family pot. He was a keen member of St Peter’s Church Boys Brigade and a regular in their football team. He and his friends, Harry, Jock and Greg occupied themselves doing those things boys do, particularly knock and run, cycling, walking in the hills and roller-skating. Doris always said that Jack was a light-hearted character and always full of fun. She remembered that he once tied up the family’s Christmas parcels and ran the strings all around the house, pulling at them as someone came close. On the 10th July 1941 Jack enlisted into the Royal Air Force; at the age of 19 he made the decision to join up because, being single, he thought he had the opportunity to save a wife or a child the loss of a husband or father if he was killed in their place. Jack was due to come home on leave for his 21st birthday party but sadly he didn’t make it.

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Doris and Jack c1923.


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Jack’s first day of school.

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The family letters suggest that they spent most of their holidays on the Isle of Man. However, I am not sure where this picture was taken.


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Jack, Edith and Robert.

Jack as a Red Indian, Doris as a tea set.

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Jack, Edith, Doris with Robert and his cousins in the background.

Jack and Doris with cousins Higson.


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Ernest Higson, Doris, Jack.

Doris, Edith and Jack.

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. Jack and cousins Higson.


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“I thought Jack was a nuisance, but we really loved each other” Doris Osborne.

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Robert and Edith c1920. Jack lived, worked and played within a few hundred yards of his home and became an avid member of the Boys Brigade from St Peters Church. The church was built in 1866 and contains a famous Edmund Schulze organ, one of only four in the United Kingdom. A local man called Mr Pennington had the church and school built for the staff of his mills at his own expense to appease his workers. However philanthropic his decision may or may not have been, the community had a focus. In 1916 it was felt that some organisation should be created to cater for the boys and young men of the Hindley Parish. A committee was formed and the "1st Hindley Company" of the Boys Brigade was set up. It was an immediate success and through the post war years it became well established as one of the most thriving Boys' Brigade companies in the District. Each Brigade was associated with a Church and was a key part of the community. The founders had wanted to create an environment where the boys had instilled in them ‘good solid values’ that would help them throughout their lives. On the next page Jack appears front right of the picture in front of St Peters Church, but he does not appear overly keen at this point, whereas the vicar clearly does.


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St Peters Church, Hindley.

Jack, front right, on Boys Brigade duty.

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Jack, back left, as part of the Boys Brigade football team.

Blackpool in 1938/9.


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Jack with his Higson cousins.

Jack (right), Harry Chisnall (centre) and also in the RAF. I believe Jock is on the left and that the picture was taken around September 1941You can see Jack is pulling Harry’s arm out of his pocket at the moment the picture was taken in an attempt to raise a smile on his friends faces. Having followed his lifelong friend, Harry, in joining the RAF Jack found that his former Master Printer and friend Norman Ashton had also enlisted and that together they were to undergo training to become Flight Engineers. On the 16 November 1942 they made their way to RAF St Athan. They decided that as best they could, and as much as the RAF and Germans would allow, they would stick together. Smoking Player ‘Mediums’ on the train journey through Wales, they made great plans for the future and assured each other that honour and distinction would be theirs in the fullness of time.

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A pencil drawing of Jack and drawn in April 1943.

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Jack and J. Norman Ashton


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Doris, Edith, Jack.

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TIM BARLOW 5 Byron Avenue, the house with the car in the drive, pictured in 1990. Below the back of the house as it was in 1937 and 2012.


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EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN Having signed his volunteer papers at the Ritz in Wigan he went home and waited for his ‘call up’, he went about life quietly and did not tell his mother. Once he was ‘called up’ he was sent to a selection camp on Heaton Park in Manchester with over 200,000 other recruits. Having been filtered and processed he was bound for Blackpool for ‘square bashing and drill practice’. Having proven himself able to survive the RAF’s initiation, he, along with other prospective Flight Engineers were sent to RAF Hednesford, in Wales, to initially train as a flight mechanic.

Aircrew Roles Because of the wide variety of aeroplanes and bombers that the RAF used a number of roles were created that could standardise the training of the crews. The following categories of aircrew were established: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Pilot. Flight Engineer. Air Bomber (and Nose Turret Gunner). Navigator — with sub-categories of Navigator (B) (Bombing); Navigator (BW) (Bombing Wireless); Navigator (W) (Wireless); Navigator (Radio). 5. Wireless Operator (and Mid Air Gunner). 6. Air Gunner—with sub-categories of Air Gunner in the tail gun (Wireless Operator Mechanic); Air Gunner (Flight Mechanic) (Primarily for Coastal Command Operations). -

Jack was not a frequent corresponder, nor on this occasion wordsmith.

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Engineers under inspection at their graduation ceremony from a Flight Engineers training manual found at www.futurepd.org/les/Documents/PDFs?RAAFPilot%20Engineer.pdf. After his initial training at RAF Hednesford and more latterly at St Athan Jack was awarded his brevet, promoted to Sergeant and posted to 1656 Heavy Conversion Unit to commence in-flight training on Lancaster’s. Up to this point and apart from a thirty-minute flight in an Anson during training, he would not have spent much time in the air. From now on his life was to change. After checking in at various departments and collecting his flying gear he was now ready to go to war. At the HCU the newly promoted Engineers had to "crew up"; this was done, quite simply, by putting thirty pilots and flight engineers into a hangar and being told to sort themselves out or it would be done for them. Familiarisation with the Lancaster would now begin in earnest with circuits and landings, corkscrews and steep turns, practice bombing and fighter affiliation. Amongst the childhood memories and books that occupy the shelves at my parent’s house is an RAF survival case. It contains maps made of silk, essential Arabic phrase books and a compass for those unfortunate enough to crash in the Middle East during the war. Over dinner with my parents someone suggested we look at it for something, and to our amazement, safely tucked away inside it for over twenty five years was Jack’s Engineer Brevet. I remember having it as a child and thought it had been lost forever, although it conveniently turned up when I needed it.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN

We also found these, ‘sweetheart’ wings in my Nan’s possessions after her death. Jack gave them to her once he had been made operational. A decision made and funded by the RAF to save their dress insignia and unit badges from becoming trinkets of affection, and given to loved ones.

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TIM BARLOW Jack’s Service Records.


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EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN Section 2

101 Squadron

“Mind Over Matter”

101 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, was formed at South Farnborough, Hampshire, on 12th July 1917 as a night-bomber squadron and from August 1917, until the Armistice operated on the Western Front. Its duties included bombing of enemy billets, railway communications and airfields, machine-gun attacks on troops and special patrols to drown the noise of tanks assembling for battle. Its pilots were credited with many outstanding actions: including Captain Halford's three trips to Bray, France in one night when he personally dropped fifty two bombs by hand on enemy dumps and billets. The squadron returned to England in March 1919 and was disbanded. Nine years later it was needed again and re-formed at Bircham Newton in March 1928. At that time 101 became the only operational squadron to have Sidestrands, and later (from 1935) Overstrands which were the first RAF bombers with enclosed and power-operated nose gun turrets. 101 Squadron was given its Royal Seal on the authority of King George VI in February 1938. Its badge is of a tower and a demi-lion guardant. The squadron adopted the battlements of a round tower as symbolic of its claim to be the first squadron equipped with an aircraft fitted with a poweroperated rotating turret (the Boulton Paul Overstrand) with the lion being a fierce fighter and symbolic of the unit's fighting spirit by its position in the tower. During the Second War came the introduction of an increasing variety of aircraft. This caused a slight problem for the RAF because their crews had been trained on one particular type yet would be needed to use quite another. A number of Heavy Conversion Units (HCU) were created that took in crews from all areas of the RAF for conversion training. Jack and many of the crews from 101 Squadron came through RAF Lindholme HCU, which was built on the Hatfield moors about 5 miles east of Doncaster, about 1 mile south of the small village of Hatfield Woodhouse. Work began on this ‘expansion aerodrome’ in the spring 1938 taking in approximately 400 acres of pasture for both airfield, camp and support facilities. Several squadrons

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RAF Holme on Spalding Moor When war broke out in 1939 the squadron was at RAF West Raynham flying Bristol Blenheims and it was with these that it made its first bombing attack on Germany, in July 1940. It operated by day at first but in mid-August switched to night operations, a high proportion of its attacks being directed against enemy invasion barges in the Channel and North Sea ports. In April 1941, a flight of the squadron's Blenheims was detached to Manston in Fighter Command's No 11 Group, and from there, operating with a fighter escort they began a sustained attempt to close the Straits of Dover to all enemy ships during daylight. In this modest fashion, 101 inaugurated the Channel Stop - an operation which, with enlarged resources, soon became as good as its name. 101 Squadron was based at two main airfields during the war and six miles south-west of Market Weighton and a mile south of the village for which it was named is their first. On the east side of the A614, this airfield was one of the early wartime bomber stations with hard runways. Construction began in the winter of 1940-41 with three concrete runways, a perimeter track and 36 hard standings laid by the following summer. The runways were extended from the original planned lengths before completion of the airfield, the main 12-30 ending up at 1,800 yards, 04-22 at 1,200 yards and 08-26 at 1,100 yards. A single Type J hangar was erected by the technical site, situated on the north-east side beside the public road, with two Type T2 added alongside in the later stages of construction. Bomb stores were off the northwest corner of the airfield. The dispersed camp sites to the north-east of the airfield catered for up to 1,941 males and 381 females. During May and June 1941, 101 Squadron converted to Wellingtons and in September it paid its first visit to Italy and successfully bombed Turin. Holme-on-Spalding-Moor, more frequently referred to as Holme, even in official documents, was first occupied by flying units in August 1941 with the arrival of No. 458 (RAAF) Squadron, which was being built up to fly Wellingtons in No. 1 Group. The first offensive operations from Holme took place on the night of October 20/21 with ten Wellingtons attacking Antwerp. One aircraft was lost Sergeant Philip Crittenden being the first Australian serving in Bomber Command to be killed from a RAAF Squadron. Another Australian squadron No. 460, established at Holme, began training at its satellite, RAF Breighton, in November. Tentative plans to convert both units to the Halifax were never brought to fruition, No. 1 Group taking to the Lancaster instead, No. 458 Squadron's operational career in Bomber Command being terminated at the end of January 1942. After a few weeks spent re-equipping, No. 458 was sent out to the Mediterranean theatre to meet an urgent requirement for anti-shipping operations. During its time at Holme, the squadron flew 65 sorties losing three aircraft. On the night of November 20/21, 1942 and in May and June 1942, it took part in the celebrated 1,000-bomber raids on Cologne, Essen and Bremen; on each occasion all its aircraft returned safely. In October 1942, the squadron got its first four-engined aircraft Lancaster and before the year ended paid four more return visits to Turin. In the New Year it added Milan and Spezia to its Italian targets and in between supporting the ever-growing offensive on German industrial targets, mine laying. On the night of 17/18th August 1943, twenty of the squadron's Lancaster’s took part in the epic raid on Peenemunde and, despite a lively night-fighter defence, all the aircraft got back.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN 101 flew from Holme until June 1943 when a re-assignment of bomber stations in the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire region saw Holme-on-Spalding-Moor transferred from No. 1 to No. 4 Group. No. 101 Squadron moved to Ludford Magna 

RAF Ludford Magna The station was constructed by George Wimpey with concrete runways on a 650 acre site in June 1943, on the site of High Fields Farm, and originally assigned to No. 1 Group RAF, headquartered at RAF Bawtry. Six T2 and one B1 hangars were eventually erected on the airfield. There were three concrete runways, one north-south main at 2000 yards and two 1400 yard runways in a standard triangular layout. It was the highest bomber airfield in England at 428 feet above sea level, costing £803,000 and was built in 90 days. No. 101 Squadron RAF arrived on 15 June 1943 from RAF Holme and the squadron would remain the primary occupants during the airfield's operational history during World War II. The squadron was declared operational three days later on 18 June 1943. The third of their airfields had its gate on Sixhills Lane in Ludford Magna. Due to the condition and poor drainage of the airfield it quickly acquired the nickname Mudford Magna. It had accommodation for 1,953 male and 305 female personnel, although the accommodation sites were inconveniently situated north of the village and widely dispersed on various agricultural fields. The station’s technical site was located on the north western edge of the station. Bombs for Ludford Magna's Lancaster’s and for many other local airfields planes were supplied from RAF Market Stainton (233 Maintenance Unit). The airfield's bombs were stored widely spaced along the edge of Caistor High Street to avoid a sequence of detonation if the base was attacked or sabotaged. Ludford Magna was also one of a small number of RAF stations equipped with an early experimental Fog Investigation and Dispersal Operation (FIDO) system. The station was provided with seven large fuel tanks, which pumped petrol into two large pipes running up either side one of their runways. Once open, flame burners along the length of the main runway were ignited, the intense rising heat would lift and disperse the fog leaving a fog free and illuminated runway. Not all RAF stations were FIDO equipped and when dense fog affected the county it was not unknown for aircraft from other stations to be diverted to Ludford Magna for a safe landing, returning to their home stations when the poor weather cleared. Volunteer observers at the surrounding Royal Observer Corps posts were specially trained and provided coloured rocket flares (Code named Granite) to guide any aircraft lost in thick fog towards the limited number of FIDO equipped stations. The only other airfields in Lincolnshire fitted with FIDO systems were RAF Fiskerton, RAF Metheringham and RAF Sturgate and there were only 15 FIDO stations in the UK, mostly on the east coast. The first operation from Ludford Magna was on the night of 21 June 1943, (in which Jack took part) with a raid on Krefeld in North Rhine-Westphalia, with the first of many Lancasters (ED650) from the base not to return home to their new base, crashing near Mönchengladbach. During the war a total of 113 Avro Lancasters from the base failed to return, the highest number from any single squadron.

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TIM BARLOW A secret task fell to the squadron on 7/8th October 1943 and for the remainder of the war the nature of their assignments was a closely guarded secret, when it was used operationally. This new apparatus searched out and then jammed enemy radio frequencies and it was operated by a speciallytrained German-speaking operator. The special Lancasters which were readily distinguishable from normal aircraft by their two large dorsal masts and carried a normal bomb load less the weight of the operator and the ABC apparatus. Due to the nature of the equipment, the enemy was able to track the aircraft. The addition of the ABC to 101 Squadron made them particularly vulnerable to German air defences and by the end of the war 101 Squadron had sustained the highest losses of any Bomber Squadron in the war. In the autumn of 1944, 101 Squadron was the first in the RAF to use the ‘Village Inn’ Automatic Gun-Laying Turret. From October 1944 No. 100 Group RAF, stationed in Norfolk, took over most of the electronic jamming role. On 4 March 1945 it suffered its first attack from enemy bombers. The squadron continued to visit Germany regularly and presented its compliments to Berliners on New Year's Day and on four more nights before the end of January 1944, in which month it dropped nearly 600 tons of bombs in the course of over 900 operational flying hours, as well as continuing its R/T jamming operations and dropping large quantities of Window (aluminium foil). As the year wore on 101 became concerned with attacks on railway communications and airfields in North-West Europe in preparation for Overlord and on the night of 5/6th June it put up 21 Lancaster’s solely for the purpose of jamming enemy wireless communications in order to prevent night-fighters being directed against the airborne invasion forces. In late April 1945, came the last of 101's offensive missions during World War II, an attack on Berchtesgaden, Hitler’s mountain top retreat, which proved to be a symbolic end to Nazi control over Europe. Just over a month before this operation, on 23rd March, the squadron was unfortunate enough to lose a distinguished aircraft: Lancaster Ill DV245 "S-Sugar" (or The Saint as it was named), a veteran of 118 operational sorties was shot down by enemy fighters during its 119th sortie, a daylight raid against Bremen.

Further Information "Serial range LM301 - LM756, were among 350 Lancasters ordered from A.V.Roe (Yeadon) as Mk.111s except for the first ten (LM301-LM310), delivered from October 1942 to October 1944. Mk.1s had Merlin 20 engines and the Mk.111s Merlin 38 engines initially installed. LM325 was delivered to No.101 Sqdn 31 May 1943.

Bomber Command Formation Typical composition of Bomber Command formations. The RAF split into Bomber, Fighter, Coastal and Training Commands. Below Bomber Command were Groups.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN Group In 1939 there were 6 groups in Bomber Command, 5 (No 2 Gp to No 6 Gp) the United Kingdom and a sixth (Advanced Air Striking Force - AASF) in France. HQ No 5 Gp was based at RAF Grantham for most of WWII. Groups were normally commanded by an Air Vice Marshall. In 1942 an additional level of command was added below the Group, the Base.

Base The Base was added to simplify command, normally grouping 2 'satellite' airfields to a main airfield. The Base was commanded by an Air Commodore. Below the Base came the stations. Bomber Command expansion to meet the wartime offensive needs in 1942-43 put a severe strain on organisation administration to the extent that the intermediate level of command between Group HQs and Station - the Base - was introduced in March 1943. A Base consisted of a Base Station with one or two sub-stations. Each Base was initially identified by the name of the Base Station and the role of the Base, e.g. Topcliffe Training Base, Leeming Operational Base. However, from September 1943 Bases were re-designated by a two-number identifier, the first number indicating the Group and the second the number of the Base within that Group, the first in each Group being the Group's training Base.

Station Each station was a separate airbase from which flying squadrons could generate flying sorties. Stations were commanded by a Group Captain. Each station usually hosted 2 flying squadrons.

Squadron Each squadron was commanded by a Wing Commander and normally comprised 2 or 3 Flights.

Flight A Flight would normally be equipped with 8 aircraft and have a Squadron Leader as Officer in Charge.

Sources: www.wartimememoriesprojects/com, www.lincsaviation.co.uk www.raf.mod.uk., www.ludford.org.uk, www.raf.mod/organisation/101squadron.cfm, www.homepage.ntlworld.com/billchurley/Ludford.html, en.wikipedia.org, www.aircrew.org.uk, www.156squadron.com/101default.htm, www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/101_wwII.htm.

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The original copies of the next four slides are reduced from A3 so do lose some of their detail. They were produced in 1943 and detail every aspect of the airfield and marked ‘Secret’!


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A Flight

B Flight


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C Flight

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TIM BARLOW Lancaster Aircrew - The following passage is included with the permission of: 'Wartime Memories Project’. Regardless of rank, the pilot was always in command of the aircraft and behind his head was the only piece of armour plating that a Lancaster carried. Invariably all were very young and a man of twentyfive would likely be referred to as the "Old Man" or "Grandpa." They were of different ranks, came from all walks of life, and often from more than one country. However, they quickly bonded together to form a very special, tightly-knit group. This camaraderie was crucial to maintaining morale and efficiency in the air. Most felt that their crew was one of the best in Bomber Command. They also generally spent many of their off-duty hours together as well as the first day or two of a leave. Starting at the nose, the bomb aimer had two positions to man. His primary location was lying prone on the floor of the nose of the aircraft, with access to the controls for the bombsight in front, with the bombsight computer on his left and bomb release selectors on the right. He would also use his view out of the large transparent perspex nose cupola to assist the navigator with map reading. To man the Frazer Nash FN5 nose turret, he simply had to stand up and he would be in position behind the triggers of his twin .303 in (7.7 mm) guns. The bomb aimer's position contained the nose parachute exit in the floor. Moving back, on the roof of the bomb bay the pilot and flight engineer sat side-by-side under the expansive canopy, with the pilot sitting on the left on a raised portion of the floor. The flight engineer sat on a collapsible seat (known as a "second dickey seat") to the pilot's right, with the fuel selectors and gauges on a panel behind him and to his right which was hinged to permit crew to travel to and from the bomb-aimer's compartment in the nose of the aircraft. He assisted the pilot on take-off and landings by handling the throttles. In flight he was constantly checking his panels to monitor oil, fuel and pressure gauges to assess engine performance and fuel consumption from the Lancaster's six wing tanks. Although flight engineers were generally trained to fly the aircraft "straight and level" they had no formal pilot training and hoped that they would never have to try to land the aircraft. Behind the pilot and flight engineer, the navigator worked in a curtained off compartment so that the lights he required would not give away their position to enemy fighters. Few navigators had the time, or the inclination, to leave their station during a raid. They were constantly plotting the aircraft's course and making adjustments for wind and other factors. As electronic navigational aids developed during the war the navigator's work load became even greater. His position faced to port with a large chart table in front of him. An instrument panel showing the airspeed, altitude, and other details required for navigation was mounted on the side of the fuselage above the chart table. The radios for the wireless operator were mounted on the left-hand end of the chart table, facing towards the rear of the aircraft. Behind these radios, facing forwards, on a seat at the front of the main spar sat the wireless operator. To his left was a window, and above him was the astrodome, used for visual signalling and also by the navigator for celestial navigation. The wireless operator's station was just in front of the main spar, in the rear part of the cockpit section. In addition to his official duties related to the radio equipment, the W/Op was also expected to have a working knowledge of the navigator's equipment, understand the aircraft's electrical and intercom systems, and administer first aid as necessary. As well, he was generally on duty in the astrodome in the event of contact with enemy fighters and over the target. The astrodome was a dome shaped piece of perspex which protruded above the aircraft's fuselage in order that the navigator could take star shots. As well it provided an excellent viewpoint.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN Behind the wireless operator were the two spars for the wing, which created a major obstacle for crew members moving down the fuselage even on the ground. On reaching the end of the bomb bay the floor dropped down to the bottom of the fuselage, and the mid upper gunner's Frazer Nash FN50 or FN150 turret was reached. His position allowed a 360° view over the top of the aircraft, with two .303 in (7.7 mm) M1919 Browning machine guns to protect the aircraft from above and to the side. The mid-upper gunner had perhaps the most uncomfortable ride of all the crew, as he was seated on a rectangle of canvas that was slung beneath the turret. Once the gunner had occupied his position he could be required to occupy this seat for up to eight hours at a time. To the rear of the turret was the side crew door, on the starboard side of the fuselage. This was the main entrance to the aircraft, and also could be used as a parachute exit. At the extreme rear of the aircraft, over the spars for the tail plane, the rear gunner sat in his exposed position in the FN20, FN120 or Rose Rice turret, who entered through a small hatch in the rear of the fuselage. Depending on the size of the rear gunner, the area was so cramped that he would often hang his parachute on a hook inside the fuselage, near the turret doors. In the FN20 and FN120 turrets, he had four .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning, and in the Rose Rice turret he had two .50 in (12.7 mm) Browning. Neither the mid upper or rear gunner's positions were heated and the gunners had to wear electrically heated suits to prevent hypothermia and frostbite. Many rear gunners also insisted on having the centre section of perspex removed from the turret to give a completely unobstructed view. Of the 2500 personnel which were housed on a wartime Bomber Command airfield, only ten percent were aircrew. Dozens of others were required to prepare each Lancaster for flight and the ground crew were most appreciated by the aircrew. Generally working outside the conditions especially in the winter were often windswept, wet and cold. Their contributions to the successes of the effort cannot be overemphasized. The ground crew which were associated with each aircraft took immense pride in "their" aircraft and would joke that they were only "loaning" the bomber for a few hours and that the aircrew were "not to break it." Should they run into trouble the only real escape procedure the crews had was the ‘corkscrew’ manoeuvre.

Corkscrew manoeuvre - lancaster-archive.com

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TIM BARLOW Transcript of what was said during such a manoeuvre. Perhaps different squadrons had slightly different ‘patters’ between the rear gunner and the pilot in going through the corkscrew manoeuvre; but the patter we learnt would start with the rear gunner shouting, “Corkscrew port, Go!” (If the fighter was coming in from the port side; otherwise it would be, “Corkscrew starboard, Go!”, and the patter would change appropriately). The pilot would immediately put the aircraft into a steep diving turn to port saying as he went, “Down port!” He would keep this diving turn going, until he had lost some 600 to 1000 feet. Then he would say, “Changing!” as he pulled out of the dive and converted to a steep climbing turn to port, saying, as the climb started, “Up port!” At the top of that turn, by which time he would have regained maybe some 700 feet of the height lost in the initial dive, he would say, “Rolling!” as he converted to a climbing turn to starboard, saying, as the climb commenced, “Up starboard!” At the top of this climb he would have regained all the height lost and then it would again be, “Changing!” as he changed to a diving turn to starboard and went through a similar manoeuvre with appropriate patter on the other side of his track. From the start of the initial dive until the time he changed to the dive on the other side there would have been a lapse of about half-a-minute; his airspeed would have fluctuated from, say, 140 knots at which he would have been cruising to a peak of 250 knots at the bottom of the first dive and back to about 160 knots. All of his patter would have been significant to the gunners who would change their aim and deflection accordingly through each stage of the manoeuvre. In practice, particularly at night, the fighter was usually lost in that first dive. He would have concluded that there were easier pickings than continuing to tangle with a bomber that was well aware of his presence.

The following account was found at www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar and is included with their permission. It describes a day in the life of a wireless operator, flying the same missions in the same areas of Europe at the same time as Jack’s crew.

How would the average day begin? Well, you’d get up in the morning and go and have breakfast and wander down, it was a pretty, I wouldn’t say undisciplined, but you were left to yourself. You didn’t have a lot of ‘bull’. You just wandered down to the flights and went off to your various sections and hung about there. We had cartons of raisins everywhere, of which we helped ourselves. The Signals Officer was sitting behind the desk and the rest of you were just sitting there. We waited for the news of what was going to happen that day. The phone would ring at around about ten and, of course, he would pick it up. You were all sort of… well, you can imagine, you were thinking: ’Oh, Christ, what’s the score?’ He’d say: ‘Working.’ Right. So, of course, my friend and I would get back into the hangar, get out of the door, and then we’d cycle down to the Spring café. We did this every morning, whether we were working or not. We’d get the Daily Express, sit down with a cup of tea and do the crossword. Then we’d get back, go out to our aircraft. One of the wireless operator’s jobs was to change, every day, the accumulators for your intercom. They were glass and you had two of them. You disconnected them, having brought two fresh ones with you on your way out to the aircraft. Then, what I used to do was check my trig stop, to make sure we were all set up properly. You had different frequencies and you wouldn’t know what you would be using that night. Check that the equipment is working. Sometimes the pilot


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN would think you would need to do an air test. You might have had something done to one of the engines, some little thing done and you wanted to check that it was all right. You couldn’t just take it on yourself to do that, you’d have to get permission. You’d go on an air test and see that everything was OK.

What feelings would you have when the signals officer said: “You’re working tonight!”? The problem was that there was this intense fear. That was the truth but we obviously didn’t show it. We all had different ways of hiding it. Some blokes would crack jokes. Others would tend to be very quiet. We all had to find our own way of trying to remove as much of that fear as we could. I’ll give you an example. I found, walking down to the flights one particular night, on a particular raid, meant going past the station cinema. It was about seven o’clock in the evening and there were all these blokes and erks and whatever, queuing up to go the pictures. Now that was a completely normal peacetime sort of happening, wasn’t it? This made no sense. There we were, going down to pick up our gear. So from then on, I used to take a walk out of my way to avoid seeing them, because it only made me think. The other thing I noticed was that was that most chaps smoked. I didn’t, even though cigarettes were free for operational aircrew. There was invariably a bomb trolley at our dispersal and it was useful to sit on it. We would be sitting on this thing, some of us smoking. The Medical Officer would come round, asking: “Anybody for wakey-wakeys?” These were pills to keep us awake. I had them once, but all they did was keep me awake when I got back after a raid and I just wanted to sleep. But there would be seven of us sitting on this trolley and there would be very little conversation. We’d maybe sit there for half an hour, waiting for the signal to climb in your aircraft and start up.

Briefing At about 3.00 in the afternoon, the navigators and the pilots would go for a briefing. A bit later on, it would be the bomb aimers’ turn. We wireless operators would go to our section, where our signals officer would give us the frequencies that we were using that particular night. These would be on rice paper. Then it was back to the mess for a bit of tea. Then all aircrew would go down the main briefing room, where the whole squadron would be briefed. It would start off with the Group Captain. As you walked into this briefing room, there was an enormous map on the rear wall. You didn’t know where you were going until you got to this point. They’d pull back this curtain. You did know if you were going on a long trip by the amount of petrol they put in the aircraft. Maximum petrol load meant you were going a fair way. If it was 1500 gallons, you’d think ‘the Ruhr’, and you were usually right. But when you got to the briefing room, it still came as a shock whenever you looked up and saw Nuremburg, or Berlin. The Old Man would just give a bit of a ‘pep’ talk and then the Group Wing commander would say how many ‘waves’ there would be and you would be told what wave you were in. He’d then give you the headings, the ETAs and heights for bombing and so on.

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TIM BARLOW Then the weather bloke would come on and give you a pretty false prediction of what you were about to encounter. Then the Squadron Leader would discuss the tactics for the night. For example, if we were going to Berlin, we wouldn’t take off and go straight to Berlin. We’d change course at various points to try and fool the Germans as to where we were going to finish up so they wouldn’t know which towns we were going to bomb. We would try and avoid areas of intense flak. And search lights. There were certain areas that were pockets of this stuff and the Squadron leader would explain all this to us. He would ask us to stick to certain headings. The reason for this was common sense, to try and avoid collisions. If we were coming in from a similar heading, it created a stream, whereas if we came in from different directions, it caused collisions, which used to happen occasionally. We were also told what height to bomb at. And then the heading out of the target. And that was it – it was down to us to get back home.

Bombing up Now you had to be bombed up. In my case, I would help the gunners take their guns back to their section where they would clean these six Browning 303s. Then they would take them back out to the aircraft again. Then it would be lunchtime and so we would have a bit of lunch.

What was it like when the signal came to get in and start up? When the rockets went up for us to get in and start up, I found I just had this feeling in my stomach – the whole thing just turning over. We got into the aircraft in the same order: the bomb aimer first, then the pilot, the flight engineer, the navigator, the mid-upper gunner, the rear gunner and me. I found that I used to ‘tighten up’ as I got in. I’d get into my position, climbing over the two spars, get to my desk and go through my bits and pieces. I’d check the frequencies for the night and so on. Then he’d start the engines up, the noise was unbelievable with those four engines. We would taxi round to the end of the runway, with all of our aircraft getting ready for takeoff. In our case, it was thirty-six of them, two squadrons.

Did you ever do anything that might be called ‘superstitious’? We all did. The Pilot had a koala bear hanging up in the cockpit – he wouldn’t take off without it. I used to take a photograph of my wife, which we weren’t supposed to do. Take Off: There would be this great crowd of people standing by the signals truck, the chequered wagon at the end of the runway, waving us on. There might be as many as fifty people from the station. We would turn on to the runway and wait for the bloke in the wagon to give us the ‘green’. Every minute or two, there was somebody taking off. I used to stand up in the astrodome as we took off and I used to look at the tail plane of the Lancaster and think: “that’s going to bloody fall off one day!”


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN The bloke I used to fly with (PO V.A. Baggott) used to hold it down on the ground until the last possible minute to gain as much speed as he possibly could, so that the aircraft virtually took itself off. I used to think: “come on, get this bloody thing off the ground!” The navigator used to call out the speed – “70, 75, 80, 85, 90, 95…” I thought: “crikey, we must be coming up to those big sheds at the end of the runway” Then we could feel it come off the ground and we’d think that at least we were airborne!

The outward journey I would now get back down into my seat, switch my gear on and check that everything was working all right. This in itself gave a sense of satisfaction. Everybody would call up each other and make sure we were all in touch. Of course, I only had to look round the corner to see the navigator. We would be climbing all the time, at about 155 airspeed. We used to try and get up to about 20,000 feet, which we usually managed getting us away from the light flak. By the time we got to the Dutch coast, if we were going that way, we would be at our desired height, because we had a good aircraft.

First encounters Once we got across the enemy coast, we would start to see aircraft going down, the attacks on us had begun. The Germans at that time had overrun virtually the whole of Europe and so were everywhere, they had fighters stationed just inside the French and Dutch coasts. There were night-fighters and flak batteries ready to meet us. So, as soon as we crossed the enemy coast as it was, it ‘started’. The night-fighters were always a menace. They were there all the time we were over enemy territory and back here, because they would sometimes follow us home. Those fighters were an ever-present danger, for which we had to keep alert all the time. It was this that kept us alive. We had to be on our guard from take off to landing. The adrenalin just flowed.

What was flak? Anti-aircraft fire. You’d come back and find that you had tiny little holes in the aircraft. Tiny pieces of shrapnel would pierce the aircraft’s skin that you wouldn’t necessarily be aware of. Night fighters shot down most people. You had to be unlucky to get a direct hit by flak. It would look worse than it really was. You would avoid getting caught in the searchlight beams if you could. Once you got in a searchlight beam, it was a job to get out. One would get you and two others would come on to you quickly, because they were radar-controlled. You would dive, but it was difficult, because they had got to make only a small correction to pick you up again. We usually managed to get out if we got caught. You usually knew where these areas were. The whole sky was dark and then, suddenly, the night was illuminated with these searchlights. Hundreds of them. But we were aware of that. The navigator would say that we were coming up to the searchlight area and the pilot used to try and avoid it, because ‘intelligence’ knew where they were, of course. But you couldn’t always avoid them. Plus the fact that, the Germans would move them from time to time, as we did. So if you were caught, you dived, twisted and turned and hoped you could get out of it. And sometimes, you could hear the flak, like fireworks from a distance. The aircraft would shudder a bit, from the dispersal of the air, I suppose. But it was the night fighters who were the biggest threat. If you were over the 69


TIM BARLOW target night fighters very rarely shot you down, because it was too dodgy for these planes to encroach on that area. Because there was an awful lot of flak about and they would have been risking their lives unnecessarily. So over the target, it was flak and searchlights and a general sort of tension.

Survival strategies Corkscrewing - the idea is that if you have an aircraft coming at you from behind, you turn into it, so you are increasing the closing speed and then bring it back the other way.

How did that feel, to be in a corkscrew? Murder. But I don’t think it mattered, because you are trying to save your life. It comes back to that, its self-preservation, so that sort of thing doesn’t bother you too much in those circumstances. But that was one of the things, well, the only thing you had, really. Some chaps used to throttle back, quickly, so the aircraft would almost shudder to a stalling speed. That was, in a sort of way, a good manoeuvre, because a fighter coming at you, going at maximum speed, and suddenly something stops, he overshoots you see. But most blokes used to go into a corkscrew. Of course, all the way to the target, once you got over enemy territory, you weaved. You would turn one way and then the next, which would give the mid-upper gunner a chance to look down. Some didn’t, but we did. So instead of flying straight and level, you turned it slightly. The mid- upper gunner, looking down, could spot enemy fighters, because they used to come up at you. These were just basic manoeuvres; they were the only things you could do, because you were a sitting duck, really. If you had a good navigator you stayed in the stream with safety in numbers because their raiders would pick up the stragglers. If you got off course and you were out of the main bombing stream, it was quite easy for their equipment to pick you up and home a fighter in on you. If the navigation was good and you stayed in that main stream that made all the difference to your survival. Obviously it was common sense and we had a good navigator so we tended, most times, to stay on course and stay in the stream. But that didn’t always mean that you didn’t get attacked. Most of the time it meant that you could go on a raid, come back and apart from seeing other aircraft shot down, and it was like Dante’s Inferno over the target area, you’d come back and hadn’t been attacked at all, apart from the flak of course.

Bombing Run You had to keep the aircraft straight and level, with bomb aimers now taking it over, who would wait for their horizontal lines to come to the position they wanted, to ‘make the cross’ before they pressed their release switch. Once this was pressed, it set a camera of automatically which would take five shots. Two before the aiming point, the aiming point itself and two after. On that film would be shown your heading, so what you couldn’t say, for instance, when you got back, that you’d followed instructions and went in on the heading that you were told to because it would be detailed on this strip of film.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN You did have a ‘creep back’, because what used to happen was that obviously you wanted to get rid of your bombs, because it was quite a frightening few minutes, when your bomb doors were open and the aircraft was very vulnerable. You were making these corrections and the aircraft was going at a minimum speed, with the open doors adding to the drag and everyone is getting at the bomb aimer to get rid of the bombs. Some bomb aimers, and ours, would at times, instead of getting to the centre, drop their bombs on or behind certain fires that had been created by people that had gone before you. So you did tend to get this ‘creep back’. I think it was fear, as much as anything and wanting to get the job done. There was a tremendous amount of flak around some of these targets. You would see the shapes of aircraft silhouetted in the enormous fire. You could see them below you and you were anxious to get these bombs away. When you did, you would go up, as if someone was pulling you up with a string. The bomb doors would close; the bomb aimer would shine a torch down the bomb bay to see if there were any ‘hang-ups’. You could hear the pilot saying: ’Ron. What’s the heading out of the target?’ You can imagine it – the adrenaline’s flowing, you want to get away. The aircraft’s speed would be increased enormously, because of the loss of weight, and you’ve used a lot of petrol. So, you get up to two hundred knots, you see, even more so if you went slightly downhill. Everybody was of that mind – get in and get out.

What sort of dangers lay in wait for you, from bombing to getting home? Obviously, the night fighters were waiting, but the thing was you were going much faster. You were more confident, because of this added speed. So the fighter had to be on his mettle because, though they were faster than you were, with the Junkers 88 being supercharged and capable of about twofifty, you had more chance. You were alert, you were sort of charged up by the fact that you had survived what you considered to be the major part of the job that is bombing the target. Now you were on a sort of survival course. You wanted to get home, so all seven of you were absolutely focused. I used to watch the radar screen for fighters. I would never take my eyes of it. As soon as I saw a blip come up, I’d inform the gunners immediately and they would pick it up. Most times we’d take evasive action. The night fighter, if he knew he had been spotted, he would tend to go off for some easier prey.

Could these night fighters steal up on you unawares? Yes, they could. This was the problem, coming back to being alert. They’d come up behind you or up underneath you and fire upwards. If you were alert, you could probably pick him up before he got to that point, on your radar screen. This instrument covered the whole of the aircraft apart from the front. The fighters wouldn’t attack from the front. It would be too dangerous for them. The equipment we had covered that. So if the wireless operator was alert, you’d see it. It was a round Cathode ray tube with a centre line. The background of the tube was green. The centre line was calibrated. An aircraft would show up in the form of a blip on that centre line. If it were one of yours, which more often than not it was, it would be moving at the same speed as you were. So it would stay put. But if it were a fighter, with the intention of attacking you, it would be coming in much faster. So if the line was in the middle of the blip, the bloke was dead behind you. But if was to one side or the other, in the port quarter or the 71


TIM BARLOW starboard quarter, which it invariably was, you’d see it coming down the screen, at a fair speed, and you could say: ‘Aircraft approaching from starboard quarter.’ The gunners would train their eyes in that particular area and they’d spot it, long before the fighter could attack you. So, that’s what happened. They’d spot it. You would take evasive action. They wouldn’t fire at it, because the tracers from your guns would give your position away. It was a question of evasion if you were sensible. So, we just evaded and when we did have this problem, we got away with it. There were times when they did fire and you saw the tracer rockets they used, going over the top or underneath you. Most times, they did not bother to persevere, because there were so many other bombers about.

Was there ever an occasion when an enemy fighter did persevere? Yes, we did have one from the whole tour, who followed us all the way to the Dutch coast. He made a number of attacks. It must have meant that their radar was picking us up and he was being guided onto us. But our rear gunner had wonderful eyesight. He was very fortunate as his night vision was fantastic. So, with the help of the radar equipment that I was operating, we were able to pick him up before he fired his guns. But then they would fire at a greater distance, so they had less chance of hitting you. This is what happened to us and we were turning the aircraft all over the sky. The pilot, a big, strong Australian chap was doing this, who said: ‘Even if he follows us all the way back to bloody Waddington, he’s not going to get us.’ In the event, we lost him. He obviously went off over the Dutch coast. We’d had about half an hour of this bloke. We were all at our ‘limit’, bearing in mind we were tired, because we had been flying for about five or six hours.

What were your chances of survival if hit by a night fighter? Not a lot. We might be lucky and get blown out of the aircraft. We had only then to pull our ripcord and we might be home and dry.

What happened when you finished the raid? We didn’t just get out of the plane and go to bed. It was actually very difficult to describe the feeling of touching down. It was a fantastic sense of elation. I’m speaking for myself now, but I’m sure other chaps felt the same. We’d taxi round our dispersal to the ‘frying pan’, switch off and get out. There would be a truck there to take us back for briefing. When we got back to the briefing room, everybody would be talking at once – mostly nonsense. We had this very attractive WAAF officer, who had been a film star. She would be there with this great urn of tea, laced with rum. This was the first thing presented to us. We looked around and there would be all these chaps coming in. We would all have this black ring over our noses. It was from our oxygen masks, where the rubber had melted a bit, with perspiration and heat. So there would be this babble, an excited babble.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN Then we would be called to a table, all seven of us. There would be a couple of intelligence officers, who would do the de-brief. They would want to know: how much fuel we’d used; what we’d encountered with night-fighters and flak; had we seen any aircraft go down – the navigator would answer this, giving the lat and long, and the time when these aircraft were shot down. They then asked about the target, whether the flares had gone down on time and so on. Most of what they wanted was just factual stuff. They’d ask us if we went in on the heading, for example. This would be shown on the photograph, so there was no point in lying. We would just detail what had happened to us, as a crew. They’d ask me if I had received all the Bomber Command messages, about wind speeds, for example. These I would pass on to the navigator. And that would be that. Then we would get rid of our gear, go back to the mess, have some eggs and bacon and then go to bed. We’d wake up the next day and go to lunch. We rarely operated two nights in succession – it wasn’t possible, really. Because we had to work on our aircraft all day meant that we couldn’t do it. We would often be on the day after, but invariably it would be a two or three daybreak.

A Tour Thirty was the recognised number of Ops on a tour. But sometimes we would do short trips, which would only be counted as half a trip, such as a jaunt into France. In any event, we did thirty-six raids, because amongst those we did some short trips, three-hour jobs, for example. Then we would have six months rest. We would go back for a second tour of twenty. On average the Lancaster crew could only be expected to remain in combat for 3 weeks and fly over the skies of Europe five times, before being shot down.

Life in the RAF Once Jack was made operational in the majority of cases a single plane was assigned to a single crew. Interestingly it appears that due to the relentless nature of the bombing campaigns in effect a single plane might be shared amongst crews. Furthermore, it was also common for crews to be mixed and matched to ensure that any operational requirements were met by the squadron because the raids needed to happen. This can be clearly seen from referencing Jacks’ log books with those records from Chorley, provided by Colin Goddard, who I met via an internet chat room on the topic. Now assuming that the Chorley records are correct I am lead to believe that if a more experienced crew was in need of a plane one would be reassigned from a less experienced or tired crew. Another reason for this could have been that the planes could have had damage either from a heavy landing or flak or fighter damage. The plane would be repainted with its new marking and temporarily reassigned and life and operations would carry on. This might in part explain why Jack has so much time whilst being operational, but not actively flying. Indeed the Chorley records suggest that the crew that died in LM325 had flown perhaps four or more different planes with different crews, such was the mix and match nature of keeping the aircraft airborne. Whatever the truth of how many planes or which missions they flew on, everyone was subject to unexpected changes to be a part of what was needed to take the fight back to Germany. 73


TIM BARLOW For me the surprising thing is the amount of time they were not flying. In June 1943 Jack spent four hours and thirty five minutes in the air and only ten hours in the air in total with the squadron. Whilst a crew was not flying, sleeping, socialising or eating they trained. They learnt a mixture of RAF and flying related skills. Interestingly I have been told that all persons on base would give classes or sessions from their specialist knowledge and the trade that they had brought in from civilian life. One clear advantage of doing this is that time was spent more productively than worrying about the impending horror of their situation. Also that the populous was giving itself the chance to ensure that their collective learning and skill sets were passed on. In their off times they went out and socialised, and Jack has suggested he liked Doncaster in a number of his letters home.

A Night to Remember by Ron Homes - Source: www.ronaldhomes.co.uk It's the morning of the 12th August 1944, on the RAF Bomber Station, Ludford Magna in Lincolnshire. The village of Ludford Magna is completely surrounded by the RAF Station with the living quarters on one side of the main road which runs through the centre of the little village and the massive aerodrome on the other. We RAF types feel completely integrated with this rural community, the slow steady pace of the countryside infusing us with a sense of security. The sun is shining, the weather looks fine and the morning air is heavy with the scent of new mown hay and life seems very sweet. With a jolt we wake to reality. Our names are on the Operations Board for tonight. There it is. Aircraft N2 (Nan squared) Pilot P/O Homes, Navigator F/O Kabbash, Flight Engineer Sgt Waind, Bomb Aimer Sgt Wade, Wireless Operator Sgt Davidson, Special Operator Sgt Holway, Midupper Gunner Sgt Reynolds, Rear Gunner Sgt Smith. Oh hell. That means that our own Lancaster L-love, is still unserviceable. We've done our last two ops in N2 and we don't really like it. You develop a fondness for your own aircraft, it just feels right and although on the face of it all the aircraft appear identical they feel different and you get the "feel" of your own. Perhaps it's the confident relationship one builds up with your own ground staff, for you know that they are totally conscientious in their work and they are truly a part of your team. The change of aircraft does nothing to settle that nasty empty sinking feeling in the stomach, and the thoughts of whether you will see this sunshine tomorrow have to be quickly dismissed. Don't think like that. Think of something else. Anything, but don’t show your fear!!! Right. Let's get the crew together and cycle out to the aircraft and give it a flight check All the crew must check over their equipment to make sure that it's fully operational for tonight, and the aircraft may have to be flown to make sure she is completely airworthy before she is loaded up with fuel, bombs and ammunition for the trip. The butterflies in the stomach seem to be settling down a bit, now that we have a job to do to take one's mind off the coming night. Our proficiency in our respective jobs and the camaraderie between us helps to build up our confidence. The jokes are a little too loud and a rather forced, but they will get worse as the day goes on as the anxiety gnaws at our insides and we strive to put a brave face on it. The aircraft is OK but we still have the rest of the long day to get through before briefing at 19.30hrs. So let's go and have some lunch but somehow I don't really feel like eating.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN We set off around the perimeter track on our bikes and already the bowsers, heavy with fuel, are approaching the aircraft to fill up their tanks with thousands of gallons of 100 octane fuel. Following them come the 'trains' of bomb trolleys with the various bombs on board and being towed by tractors. We try to find out what the fuel and bomb loads are, and from that, get some idea of what the target might be, but it's not very conclusive. We shall just have to wait until we get to briefing to find out. Back at the mess the smell of food being cooked is a bit hard to take and I would rather go to the bar for a stiff drink but I need to keep off the booze in order to keep a clear head for tonight. Just take a deep breath and go into the dining room and try to do justice to the steak and kidney pie and mash and boiled cabbage, oh dear.. More banter and jokes around the table helps to renew the flagging appetite and the meal begins to seem quite appetising and with a full stomach I might be able to manage a little sleep this afternoon. I really should try, because it will probably be near dawn tomorrow before I have a chance to sleep again. Oh dear, I wonder what will happen between now and then? I wonder if there will be a "then". Back in the "Nissan hut" accommodation, all is surprisingly quiet; maybe everyone is trying to get some sleep. It's pleasantly warm with the sun shining on the corrugated iron roof; sometimes it can get unbearably hot, and sometimes damned cold. I can hear the birds singing outside and the low drone of Merlin engines being run up on the other side of the village. It has a comforting sound, powerful and warm and reliable. The noises in the next room wake me, it's just before four o'clock, I've been asleep for an hour and a half, I'm feeling drowsy and comfortable and then I remember that damned sinking feeling hits my stomach again. Briefing is at seven thirty, which leaves just two and a half hours before we get our pre-ops meal of egg and bacon. It’s just a short walk down a gravel path to the Mess in the warm August afternoon sunshine and somewhere behind all the Nissan huts further up on the hill a tractor is working in one of the fields and its muted engine noise joins in with the bird song and the warm air is full of the heavy smell of new mown grass. Life seems so good and you wouldn't think there was a bloody war on but for the increasing noise of activity from the airfield on the other side of the village. I wish I didn't have to fly tonight. The Mess is very quiet with everybody subdued and deep in their own thoughts, most of the armchairs are occupied with lounging figures pretending to read well thumbed copies of Flight and Picture Post or yesterday's papers, but finding great difficulties in concentration. Two or three chaps are at the small tables around the edge of the room, writing letters, sometimes gazing into space seeking inspiration. What can you write about other than what fills your mind; tonight’s operation and the chances of survival but that must not be mentioned. There's a copy of Tee-Em and an empty armchair which I soon make use of and get lost in the antics of 'Pilot Officer Prune', the feather brained pilot who puts up every flying 'black' in the book. Then suddenly I'm drawn back to the real world by my Navigator sinking into the next armchair with his friendly Canadian greeting 'Hi'. "Hello Alex, have you been sleeping", "Awe no" he tells me, he's just taken a walk down to the farm to see if there were any jobs to do, but Mr Martin was out in the fields, probably driving the tractor that I heard earlier, I guess it filled in a bit of the time for him in these long empty anxious hours before an operation. The minutes drag by until it's time for the six o'clock news on the Home Service of the BBC. The radio is switched on and the precise well rounded voice of the announcer tells us of the successes of 75


TIM BARLOW the armies as they push their way into France, and that, last night a strong force of Lancasters and Halifaxs attacked targets in the Ruhr and extensive damage was done to oil refineries and marshalling yards. I wonder where we shall be going in just a few hours time. Soon it's time for the eggs and bacon. The faces begin to look less worried for everybody knows that it's the other chaps that don't come back, not you. Anyway the food is comforting and the atmosphere is full of high spirits, even though a little false. "B flight bus is outside" shouts somebody from the dining room door. A hundred or more chair legs scrape the floor and a crowd make for the door to grab their hats in the scrum in the hall. It's amazing how most people manage to get their own hats when they all look alike. Outside the sergeants are streaming out of their Mess across the road and gathering together in groups with their officer crew members and a lively chatter of speculation develops as they board the buses to take them down to briefing. Not long now to find out what the target is. As we all file into the briefing room all eyes go to the big map on the wall to see where the red ribbon goes to. Where is it? Frankfurt? Mainz? The loud general chatter and the scraping of chairs as the crews get themselves grouped together at the tables is suddenly silenced by the arrival of The AOC, The Base Commander G/Cap King, and the Squadron Commander W/Com. de la Everest. Everybody stands until brought to ease by the Squadron commander who steps up to the briefing platform with the words "Tonight's target is Russelsheim here between Mainz and Frankfurt" as he points to the spot on the map, with a long pointer. "It's the Opel motor works that we have to flatten gentlemen, in order to reduce Hitler's already shortening war supplies ever further". "There will be 450 aircraft on the raid and as usual this squadron will be timed to be spaced evenly through the bomber stream. Start engines at 21.00hrs for take-off at 21.30hrs. Climb on track for Skegness where you will join the main stream at your allotted times. Climb on track again to be at this point on the Dutch coast at 18000ft, then on to the next turning point here (again the stick taps the chart) when you should be at your bombing height of 21000ft" and so on. Then follows the Met man with news of fair weather, then the Navigation leader emphasising the importance of staying on track and in the stream and on time to the half minute, then the Intelligence officer with warnings of heavily defended areas to avoid, "the run into the target will be from the north-west between Mainz and Frankfurt so hold your track to avoid these areas". Then the Bombing leader and the Flight engineering leader and the Gunnery leader all with their instructions and words of warning, set your watches, and finally a word of encouragement from the AOC, "hit the target hard and good luck chaps". There's a look of determination on some of the faces now. We know the job and how to do it. This is what we have been trained for and we feel confident. The general chatter gets louder as we all file out of the briefing room to walk to the Locker Room to get kitted up for the trip. For most of the crew it's just flying boots, a sweater and silk scarf, Mae West and a parachute. Let's hope that we don't have to use them. The gunners and special-operators have to put on heavier, warmer gear. It's colder in their part of the aircraft. Pockets are emptied of letters, bus tickets, cinema tickets and anything that could be of use to enemy intelligence in the event of being shot down. I notice Smithy, our rear gunner, slip his 'lucky' wishbone into his top pocket before he struggles into his thick, yellow, electrically heated suit and he catches my eye with a shy grin on his face. I hope it works. I mean the wishbone. All kitted up and ready to go we file out to the crew buses to take us out to the aircraft.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN The buses trundle around the perimeter track full of noise and ribald remarks. Nerves are stretched to breaking point now. It's funny how you feel chilly and a little shivery at this point regardless of the temperature, but it will be all right when we get on board the aircraft. We drop off the crews at their respective aircraft with loud shouts of "farewell" and "good luck" and "see you in the morning". Then the shout of "Nan Squared" means that we have arrived at our dispersal. In the cool half light of the evening, the aircraft stands there, big, black and menacing against a turquoise sky. The ground crew greet us with small words of assurance as to the airworthiness of the aircraft and Stan, our Flight Engineer, and I go around the aircraft doing the external checks. Pitot head covers removed, all cowlings, inspection panels and leading edges secured. Check tyres for creep. We climb aboard to our respective positions, checking escape hatches, inside the aircraft there's that familiar smell of cellulose, oil and 100 octane fuel. Checking more equipment in the fuselage as we climb the steep slope forward and struggling over the main spar, our minds are beginning to get to grips with the task ahead. Settling into the pilots seat on the parachute, buckling it on and doing up the seat belt, my hands are shaking a bit and none of the buckles seem to go together easily. The seat seems a bit hard and a bit too low. I adjust it and that seems to be more comfortable. Helmet on, plug into the intercom and connect the oxygen, check the instrument panel, switch on radio and check the intercom. 20.50hrs, ten minutes to start up and all the crew are now in their positions with their equipment checked. Switch on intercom, "Pilot to Rear gunner OK?" "Rear gunner OK Skip", "Pilot to Mid upper OK?", "Mid upper OK", "Pilot to Special OK?, "Special OK", "Pilot to Wireless Operator OK?", "OK Skip", and so on checking on each of the other seven crew members in turn. "OK Engineer it's 20.58hrs and we're ready to start up". "OK Skip ground/flight switch to Ground, Trolley Acc is plugged in, Engine controls set, Fuel OK". “Right start up number one", the big prop turns slowly with a whining noise, it kicks, and with a cloud of exhaust smoke it bursts into life with that deep throated roar. Number two- three- and four. All engines running now, all gauges OK. "Ground/flight switch to FLIGHT” set engines to 1,200rpm to warm up. Temperatures and pressures building, check hydraulics, Gunners check the movements of their turrets, Wireless Operator checks the radios, Navigator checks the Gee, compass. All the crew are working like clockwork now, going though the actions that they have been well trained to do. With the work in hand, you can feel the confidence building and the butterflies are being flushed out. Set each engine to 1,500rpm and check magnetos, open up all four engines in turn to zero boost and check the superchargers, check constant speed units. Open up each engine in turn to takeoff power and check boost, rpm and magnetos. The whole aircraft shakes and trembles like a huge animal coming to life. All OK throttle back to 1,200rpm and ready to go. "Pilot to Rear gunner, all OK?" "Rear gunner OK Skip", "Pilot Mid upper OK?", "OK Skipper" and so on checking on all the crew in turn once again, a procedure that will be carried out over and over again during the trip. “Right Chaps, we are ready to taxi”. It's now 21.20hrs and the light is beginning to fade and other Lancasters are starting to roll along the perimeter track, big and black with their navigation lights on, towards the takeoff point. Thumbs up to the ground crew and wave the chocks away and we get a good luck wave back as we open up the throttles and trundle forward onto the perimeter track to take our place in the queue for takeoff. The usual group of well wishers are gathered by the signals hut at the end of the runway. All ranks, Officers, Airmen and Waafs, all with friends and loved ones taking off into the evening sky, perhaps, never to be seen again. An experience that could be shattering in any normal times, but they have all 77


TIM BARLOW learnt to steel themselves and put on a cheerful smile and a wave to give us confidence, and they repeat this performance night after night. All pre-takeoff checks have been done; we now roll heavily forward to the hold position straight and lined up with the runway and brakes on. The cockpit is flooded with a green light from the Aldis lamp as the signals hut gives us the OK to takeoff. The following letter was written by Jack and features a number of interesting and personal messages to Doris and Edith. I wanted to include it because it shows a personal side of war that is very easily forgotten.


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TIM BARLOW Any planes that bear the markings ‘SR’ are from 101 Squadron (Jack’s Squadron) and were referred to as ‘Southern Railways’. I have illustrated this section with surviving photographs and memories that I have found from all over the internet. Credits where they are known are attributed to, and come from, 101 Squadron whilst at Ludford Magna.

RAF Lindholme 1943 – This is one of the last official pictures taken of 101 Squadron before their move to Ludford Magna and it is likely Jack and the crew of LM325 are in this picture. *See Appendix for the crew together – p574

Norman Ashton (left) and his crew of W-William, from 103 Squadron.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN The following four photographs are all of 101 Squadron Lancasters have been reproduced with the permission of www.ww2images.com.

A 101 Squadron Lancaster at dispersal with the additional radar antenna clearly visible.

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SR-Z thunders towards its target.

A 101 Squadron Lancaster at dispersal.

I met Colin Goddard via a message posted by a friend of his in an RAF/Lancaster Bomber internet chat room. Colin, for many years and to his wife’s credit, has amassed a great wealth of information about the crew members of 101 Squadron. He also has a personal connection to these men of a bygone era and is doing his part in refreshing their names in pages of history. Having first tracked down and recorded his Father’s and Uncle’s missions, he has set about recording the missions and base activity for every member of 101 Squadron. He very kindly forwarded copies of his work that meant something to me. Colin has been an incredible help by providing insight, references and records that have helped me piece the story together.


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EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN Section 3

101 Squadron’s contribution to the Allied Bomber offensive in May and June 1943

The Squadron Log is the ‘local’ record of their wartime activities. I have highlighted the specific actions that we know Jack was involved in, during June 1943 along with one or town noteworthy entries. By looking at Jack’s flying Logs and Bomber Commands Campaign Diary we can build up a picture of their brief operational career.

Beuningen Approximate Flight Paths Krefield

Wuppertal

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Mulheim


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25/05/1943 Tuesday

A Flight:- Put up 4 Crews for air firing and 2 Dusseldorf for practise bombing and detailed 8 crews to attack DUSSELDORF. Sgt Shattock returned with a u/s turret. B Flight:- Sent out five crews for practice bombing and two on air firing. 8 crews detailed to attack DUSSELDORF, all of which carried out this duty successfully C Flight:- 3 Bombing details, two air firing and one test. 7 Crews were ordered for Operations. Nothing was heard from Sgt Tindale after takeoff and the Squadron lose another good crew. Sgt. Waterhouse and crew posted in from 1656 Conversion Unit. F/Sgt. McPherson and crew posted in from 1656 Conversion Unit. P/O Freeman (Pilot) attached from No. 9 A.F.U. (P)

26/05/1943 Wednesday A Flight:- 8 Crews were detailed for Operations which were cancelled B Flight:- 8 Crews were detailed for Operations which were cancelled. C Flight:- 7 Crews were detailed for Operations which were cancelled. Sgt. Hurst and Crew, Sgt. Lane and Crew, P/O Day and crew, all posted from 1662 Conversion Unit. 27/05/1943 Thursday

A Flight:- Sgt Cunningham tool 'D' for air test and crashed on takeoff beyond the end of No. 6 touchdown. 8 crews were detailed for operations on ESSEN. F/O Hull and Sgt Cunningham were cancelled and the remaining 6 crews completed their duty.

B Flight:- Detailed 8 crews for operations, and all carried out their duty successfully.

C Flight:- Detailed one crew, Sgt Waterhouse for a cross country 'day' and the


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same crew also did a night cross country. 7 crews were detailed to attack ESSEN and all carried out their duty successfully.

28/05/1943 Friday

A Flight:- F/S McPherson carried out local flying in 'G' and F/O Hull did air firing. B Flight:- Sgt Lane and Crew did local flying and Gee training C Flight:- P/O Day and F/S Hurst carried out local flying and Gee training.

29/05/1943 Saturday

A Flight:- 2 aircraft on bombing, two on air firing and 7 crews detailed to attack WUPPERTAL in the Ruhr and all successfully completed their duty B Flight:- 7 Crews were detailed for operations. Sgt Johnson returned early owing to engine trouble, the remaining 6 aircraft successfully completed the trip. C Flight:- 3 aircraft did air firing, including 'Z' Sgt Evans which also carried out an acceptance test, one other crew did bombing. 8 crews were detailed for operations to attack WUPPERTAL a 'new target', carried out successfully.

30/05/1943 Sunday

No flying today.

31/05/1943 Monday

A Flight:- Sgt Cunningham carried out an air test on 'D' B Flight:- Sgt Johnson carried out an air test on 'Q' C Flight:- 2 Crews were detailed for a bullseye, but this was later cancelled owing to weather conditions.

101 Squadron Log Date

Weekday

Activity

Target

1/06/1943

Tuesday

A Flight:- Two crews on Air Firing and one on Air Test. B Flight:- Two Crews were detailed for Gunnery, one crew on local flying and one on Air Test. C Flight:- Four 101


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crews on Air Firing and one of which 'Z' also carried out an Acceptance test. HOLME ON SPALDING MOOR: Rhod. 778109 Sgt. F/Eng C.H. Mortimer posted from 1656 C.U. w.e.f. 25/5/43. 1332130 Sgt. W/op AG Witham H.W. 1389934 Sgt. A/B Tiller M., 1816110 Sgt. A/Gun'r Heap E. posted from 1656 C.U. w.e.f. 22/5/43. 1108652 Sgt. F/Eng Wordley T.K, 1147597 Sgt. Pilot Athey S.T., 1183352 F/Sgt. Nav (B) Mark A.C., 1313383 Sgt WO/AG Hutchins G.D., 1317859 Sgt. A/Bomber Laurence C.J., 1467914 Sgt. A/Gunr Scott R.E., 1810528 Sgt. A/Gnr Hall L.R., posted from No.1656 C.U. w.e.f. 30/5/1943. P/O J.W.T. Deane 133334 - Nav, F/O G.A.J. Frazer-Hollins pilot - posted from No. 1656 C.U. w.e.f. 28/5/43 2/06/1943

Wednesday C Flight:- Five crews on Air Firing. B Flight:- Three crews on Bombing at Mission. A Flight:- One crew (Sgt. Athey) detailed for a day Cross-country. One crew carried out Bombing at Mission. 'A' completed an Air Test and Air Firing. P/O R Matthews detached to C.G.S. Sutton Bridge for No. 60 G.L. Course. F/L E.W. Eagleton and F/L G.W. Whitbread Mentioned in Despatches.

3/06/1943

Thursday

C Flight:- Six aircraft carried out Fighter Affiliation. B Flight:- Three aircraft carried out Fighter Affiliation. A Flight:- Sgt. Athey and crew detailed for a Night Cross-country. 1357389 Sgt. A/Bomber Sparks A.R. posted from No 103 Squadron w.e.f. 3/6/1943

4/06/1943

Friday

A Flight:- 3 Crews were on Fighter Affiliation. 'M' on Air Test. B Flight:- 2 Crews were on Fighter Affiliation C Flight:2 Crews were on Fighter Affiliation, 1 on Air Firing, 1 on Air Test. P/O ?.T.W. Anderson posted from H.Q. 1 Gp for Engineering duties. P/O F.C. Caish posted (supy) R.A.F. Holme. 1337938 Sgt. Nav (B) A/B Rowland M.L. posted to No 81 O.T.U. w.e.f. 4/6/1943. 1027696 Sgt. WO/AG Hove D.T. posted to No 12 Squadron w.e.f. 4/6/1943. 130471 P/O R.T.W. Anderson Tech posted from Headquarters No. 1 Group on cessation of attachment to No. 199 Squadron. P/O F.C. Caish 122531 - Tech -


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posted supernumerary to R.A.F. w.e.f. 4/6/1943. 5/06/1943

Saturday

A Flight:- 2 Crews flew with the Wing Commander in formation over York and 3 Crews carried out Fighter Affiliation. B Flight:- 1 Crews detailed for Fighter Affiliation C Flight:- W/Cdr Reddick led a formation of 3 aircraft over York as part of Wings for Victory celebrations. One aircraft was on fighter affiliation. F/S Syme D.J.F. & crew posted from No. 1656 C.U. F/S Slade, H.F. (P) posted from No 103 Sqdn. 10454066 Sgt. A/Gnr. Judge R.C. , 1312335 Sgt. WO/AG Freeman L.J. , 1337978 Sgt. Pilot Syme D.J.F. , 1377112 Sgt. F/Eng Hazell V.B, 1391361 Sgt. A/Bomber Campbell D.S. 1452702 Sgt. A/Gnr Dyson G. 1575036 Sgt. Nav Hill J.W.R. posted from No. 1656 C.U. w.e.f. 5/6/1943 1384275 Sgt. A/Gnr MacNewin H.F. posted to No 166 Squadron w.e.f. 5/6/1943

6/06/1943

Sunday

Once more Operations were detailed and cancelled on account of weather. F/O Fleming & F/O Hull promoted to the acting rank of Flight Lieutenant.

7/06/1943

Monday

A Flight:- 2 Crews carried out Practice Bombing and 2 on formation over York. B Flight:- 1 a/c flown by W/Cdr Reddick led the formation over York. C Flight:- 2 Crews detailed for Bombing & 2 for air firing, 1 on air test. 2nd/Lt F Bergan attached from Film Prod. Unit.

8/06/1943

Tuesday

A Flight. Rested as also did C and B. Weather again.

9/06/1943

Wednesday A Flight:- 2 Crews carried out Air Tests - 8 crews detailed for the customary scrub. C Flight:- sent up two aircraft on air test and detailed 9 crews for the scrub. B Flight:- did 4 air tests and detailed 10 crews for Operations. F/L A.E. Bigelow posted to No. 1667 C.U. 1202901 Sgt. WO/AG Fryer L.J. , 1220944 Sgt. Nav (A/B) Waters V.G. posted to No. 1667 C.U. w.e.f. 9/6/1943 and attached to No. 1656 C.U. w.e.f. same date. F/L A.E. Bigelow 42788 - Pilot - posted to 1667 C.U. w.e.f. 9/6/1943.

10/06/1943 Thursday

A Flight:- Carried out one air test and put up a formation of 3. C Flight:- sent up a 103


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formation of 3. B Flight:- put up one aircraft for air firing and three for formation flying. F/L A.E. Bigelow posted to No. 1667 C.U. 1321985 Sgt. A/Gnr. Polden D.B. posted to 1667 C.U. w.e.f. 10/6/1943. 11/06/1943 Friday

The weather permitted Operations. A Flight:- Sent out 8 crews of whom six completed the mission. F/S Gray K.D. and Sgt Claydon R.G. who were compelled to return early. DUSSELDORF was the target. A very successful attack. C Flight:- Did two air tests and ordered 8 Crews to operate. all of which were successful. B Flight:- did one air test and sent one aircraft on air firing. 10 Crews were ordered to operate. Unfortunately F/S Naffin R.G., after finding his own aircraft and the reserve u/s was not able to take off and F/O J.C. Day was compelled to return early. All the others were successful. F/O D.G. Knight ceased attachment to No. 1 A.A.S. Manby

12/06/1943 Saturday

Again the weather was good and we raided BOCHUM. A Flight:- Detailed 7 Crews to take part in the Operations. Sgt Claydon R.G. and Crew failed to return. A good crew lost to the Squadron. B Flight:- 7 crews took part in the operation as ordered. C Flight:Detailed 9 Crews for the Operations who were successful. 657781 - Sgt. Nav Metland H. posted from R.A.F. Station (NE) Lindholme w.e.f. 12/6/1943.

13/06/1943 Sunday

Squadron Stood Down.

14/06/1943 Monday

A Flight:- Put up one air test and one X country. C Flight:- did 4 air tests and included some check dual and landings on the beam. B Flight:- did 2 air tests.

15/06/1943 Tuesday

We moved to LUDFORD MAGNA. A Flight:- sent 9 aircraft C Flight:- sent 12 aircraft B Flight:- sent 10 aircraft. The movement of the whole Squadron as well as the S.H.Q. was accomplished without a hitch and it was noticed that all sections buckled in a whole hearted attempt to make the best of what will no doubt prove a very long job. The incorrigibles of course, operated the first night. A very low level attack was staged on Louth. The Mason's Arms being the target.

16/06/1943 Wednesday All dig in and find that the Crew building


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can be utilised to accommodate the Squadron offices very well, and in time will be a good thing. 924324 F/Sgt. Nav(B) Yates G.S. posted from 1656 C.U. w.e.f. 16/6/1943. 621162 F/Sgt. WO/AG Dove G.E. posted to 1481 B.G. Flight w.e.f. 169/6/1943. 17/06/1943 Thursday

A Flight:- Sent one aircraft on air test, and two on a Bulls-eye. Every one else still digging..

18/06/1943 Friday

Digging still goes on, with the odd visit to Louth for sustenance. F/O D.G. Knight posted to No. 1481 B & G Flight. Binbrook. F/S Kelly F.J. (Pilot) posted from N.E. Holme. 1313171 Sgt. Nav. Caseley A.T. posted to No. 1667 C.U. w.e.f. 17/6/1943.

19/06/1943 Saturday

see 18th. 936411 F/Sgt. WO/AG Armstrong G. posted to R.A.F. Station Eastchurch w.e.f. 19/6/1943

20/06/1943 Sunday

A Flight:- Sent up 9 Crews for local familiarisation and the Squadron begins to look operative again. B Flight:- put up 9 Crews for local flying. C Flight:- put up 7 Crews for local flying. 936411 F/Sgt. WO/AG Armsten G. (Name indistict) posted to R.A.F. Eastchurch w.e.f. 19/6/1943.

21/06/1943 Monday

Sgt Edwards, I.L, Sgt Bakewell H.H., were Krefeld appointed to the commissioned rank of Pilot Officer. KREFELD was the target given for the nights operations. A Flight:- Put up 8 crews all of which successfully attacked the target and returned. C Flight:- sent four crews local flying and sent up eight crews on operations, all of which successfully attacked and returned. B Flight:-did one air test and detailed 10 Crews to operate. Sgt Groome A.D. returned early on three engines and Sgt Brook D.N. with F/Lt W.J. Sibbald, our signals leader, failed to return. A good crew, a very old friend missing. The other crews were successful. S/L R.T. Sturgess lost the use of his Starboard Outer 40 miles before the target. In all the Squadron obtained at least 5 aiming points.

22/06/1943 Tuesday

A Flight:- Put up 8 crews to attack Mulheim MULHEIM, 5 operated successfully. Sgt Jefferies F/Engineer was wounded and the aircraft holed in the process. Sgt. 105


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Cunningham T., and Sgt Quarterman, R. were compelled to return early. S/L J.R. St John was attacked by two fighters over the Dutch Coast and was compelled to return to base with most of the tail unit shot away. Petrol tanks holed, starboard outer u/s and a gaping hole where the door used to be. It must have been a formidable task to bring the aircraft home in that shape. No one was injured. C Flight:- Ordered 7 Crews to attack target. We lost another good crew in Sgt. Waterhouse R.A.. It is recorded that W/Cdr D.A. Reddick had his Gee aerial taken away by another aircraft whilst circling the 'drome. B Flight:- Operated with 9 Crews. F/S Foran M.T. and Sgt Lane J.E. were compelled to return early. S/L R.T. Sturgess was caught by flak just up to leaving the target and the Rear Gunner was wounded. 23/06/1943 Wednesday A Flight:- Rested and licked its wounds. C Flight rested as also did B Flight. A further attack however was carried out on Louth. It is very pleasing indeed to note that Sgt.Newby A. Cpl. Coyle E. Sgt. McGowan P.J. Sgt. Cowell P. of the ground staff have been mentioned in despatches for their good work. F/O D. ?. Webb posted to No. 103 Squadron. 530149 Sgt. F/Eng Hall J posted to Ludford w.e.f. 23/6/1943. 24/06/1943 Thursday

C Flight:- Sent up one aircraft for air test and Wuppertal sent 2 crews in 'V' to bring back 'N'. 7 crews detailed to attack WUPPERTAL, 1 of which were scrubbed before takeoff. A Flight:- Put up two aircraft on air test and detailed 8 crews for operations. S/L J.R. StJohn was attacked again by two fighters over the North Sea and reduced height to 4,000ft before shaking them off. The aircraft was compelled to return to base. B Flight:- Sent up one crew for training and two on local flying. 8 crews were ordered to operate, but one was cancelled before takeoff and Sgt. Lane J.E. failed to return. P/O D.G.L. Higgs (Nav) and F/O T.W.Rowland & Crew posted from No 165(?) C.U. Sgt Fawcett G.R. and crew and F/S Marsh N.A. and crew posted from No 1656 C.U. P/O R.N. Faulkner (A/B) & P/O L.W. Moore (A/B) posted from 1656 C.U. F/O D.A. Webb 46314 A/Gunr.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN

posted 10 103 Squadron w.e.f. 23/6/1943. 949540 Sgt. A/Gnr Glendenning G. , 1320702 Sgt. A/Gnr Watson D.J. , 1330062 Sgt. WO/AG Ince D.W. , 1501077 Sgt. Nav Kaye C.G. , 1604775 Sgt. F/Eng Potts G.F. , posted from 1656 C.U. w.e.f. 24/6/1943. 992744 Sgt. F/Engr. Greig F.R. , 1131917 Sgt. WO/AG Widd L. , 1436829 Sgt. Pilot Fawcett G.R. , 160384 Sgt. A/Gnr. Andrews D.W. , 1652043 Sgt. A/Gnr. Griffiths R.J. , 632703 Sgt. A/Gnr. Bateman R. , 646029 Sgt. F/Engr Anderson R. , 930816 Sgt. A/Gnr. Harris R.K. , 963499 Sgt. F/Engr Wilks P.M. , 1089585 Sgt. A/Gnr. Bell A. , 1377494 Sgt. F/Sgt WO/AG Showan H.F. 1384535 Sgt. WO/AG Lamprey P.H. , 1396497 Sgt. Nav Halperin R. , 1436512 Sgt. A/Bomber Yuill R. , 1479684 Sgt. A/Bomber Hooper R.B., 1573051 Sgt. A/Gnr Clements H.G. , posted from 1656 C.U. w.e.f. 24/6/1943. P/O R.W. F??llman 136883 A/Bomber posted from 1656 C.U. 25/06/1943 Friday

A Flight was unfortunate that 2 aircraft of Gelsenkirchen the nights effort were u/s and had to be cancelled. F/L W.D. Austin was compelled to return with an engine failure. The other crew successfully attacked the target which was GELSENKIRCHEN. B Flight Detailed 6 aircraft for the operation. We suffered a serious loss when F/S Banks I.W. failed to return. One air test was carried out in the afternoon. F/S McLellan W.G. (A/Bomber) finished his tour. C Flight Detailed 6 crews for the operation, of which one, Sgt. Hay G. and crew failed to return, new members of the Squadron but a promising crew. F/S Smith F.P. was compelled to return on three engines. F/O J.P. Mahoney & Crew, F/O F.E. Phillips, P/O P.J. Ryan posted from no. 1656 C.U. F/O F.S. Buck & crew and F/S A.J.S. Walker & crew posted from 1656 C.U. 747909 F/Sgt WO/AG Woodgate J. E., 1269266 Sgt. A/Gnr Hill A.E.T., 1324774 Sgt. Nav. Walder D.M., 1497432 Sgt. F/Engr Lowe J.W., 1040284 Sgt. F/Engr. Mayer S., 1066653 Sgt. A/Gnr Stott R., 1076266 Sgt. WO/AG Coulter K.B., 1315458 Sgt. WO/AG Hebditch R.A.,

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1206892 Sgt. A/Gnr Clarke H.T., 1321959 Sgt. Nav Fuller G.W., 1380714 F/Sgt. Pilot Walker A.J.S., 13971666 Sgt Nav Whittle G.G. (Serial No incorrect s/b 1397166), 1411197 Sgt. F/Engr. Madecai K.D.S. , 1716019 Sgt. A/Gunr. Hicklin K.N., 1534177 Sgt. A/Bomber Sparkes J.N., 1803966 Sgt. A/Gunr. Gudson K.W. posted from 1656 C.U. w.e.f. 25/6/1943. P/O A.W. Gadd 136884 A/Bomber posted from 1656 C.U. w.e.f. 25/6/1943. 133333 P/O D.G.J. Higgs posted from 1656 C.U. w.e.f. 17/6/1943. 127942 P/O T.W. Rowland posted from 1656 C.U. w.e.f. 24/6/1943. 129466 F/O J.B. Mahoney (Pilot) 136525 P/O F.H. Phillps (A/Gnr), F/O R.J. Ryan 135110 (Air Bomber, posted from 1656 C.U. w.e.f. 25/6/1943. 134665 P/O L.W. Moone A/Bomber posted from 1656 C.U. w.e.f. 24/6/1943 26/06/1943 Saturday

Several targets in the immediate vicinity of the aerodrome were attacked from low level during the evening. 577846 Sgt. F/Engr Milton A.M. , 1309272 Sgt. WO/AG Crabble E.S. , 1332766 Sgt. Pilot Wilkins C.W. , 1399459 Sgt. A/G Lobb R., 1434782 F/Sgt Nav(B) Holman H., 1473128 Sgt. A/Bomber Cloud A., 1600368 Sgt. A/Gnr Cahill A.J. , posted to No. 156 (P.F.F.) Squadron w.e.f. 26/6/1943

27/06/1943 Sunday

A Flight:- Sent up aircraft on local flying Gardening and detailed one crew captained by F/O T.W. Rowland for the Gardening Trip as ordered. It was a successful trip, but the aircraft was diverted on account of weather. B Flight:- Put up 8 aircraft for local flying, air test, and air firing and detailed 3 crews for the Gardening. F/O F.S. Buck failed to return, this was his first trip. C Flight:- Did two air tests and scrub. 2 crews on the operation, both were successful.

28/06/1943 Monday

A Flight:- Did one air test and 4 training flights. Gunnery & Fighter affiliation. 6 crews were detailed for operations on COLOGNE and all crew successfully completed the mission. B Flight:- Sent up 5 aircraft on air test and air firing and detailed 5 crews to operate. F/S Foran M.T. was unable to take off owing to generator


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN

trouble. C Flight:- Put up 5 crews for training purposes and detailed 6 crews for the operation and all were successful 29/06/1943 Tuesday

A Flight rested, so did B and C F/Lt A.F. Beechey DFC attached to No.1481 (B G. Flt.

30/06/1943 Wednesday The Squadron put up 8 aircraft for air test and for air firing. The weather was very poor and the firing was not done. 1233251 Sgt.Nav. Reynolds F.G. posted to R.A.F. Eastchurch w.e.f. 30/6/1943

Eight crews were lost in Jacks four operational weeks and his crew was the second to be lost from their new base at Ludford Magna. In the same period three RAF volunteers were sent to RAF Eastchuurch with the charge of Lacking Moral Fibre with them. Nearly 190 new volunteers took their place.

Campaign Diary – Bomber Command May / June 1943

29/30 May 1943 – Wuppertal: 719 aircraft - 292 Lancasters, 185 Halifaxs, 118 Stirlings, 113 Wellingtons, 11 Mosquitos. 33 aircraft - 10 Halifaxs, 8 Stirlings, 8 Wellingtons, 7 Lancasters - lost, 4.6 per cent of the force. This attack was aimed at the Barmen half of the long and narrow town of Wuppertal and was the outstanding success of the Battle of the Ruhr. Both Pathfinder marking and Main Force bombing was particularly accurate and a large fire area developed in the narrow streets of the old centre of the town. It is probable that this fire was so severe that the first, small form of what would later become known as a 'firestorm' developed. Because it was a Saturday night, many of the town's fire and airraid officials were not present, having gone to their country homes for the weekend, and the fire services of the town - in their first raid - were not able to control the fires. Approximately 1,000 acres - possibly 80 per cent of Barmen's built-up area - was destroyed by fire. 5 out of the town's 6 largest factories, 211 other industrial premises and nearly 4,000 houses were completely destroyed. 3 OTU aircraft on leaflet flights to France were recalled

1/2 June 1943 - Mine laying: 23 Wellingtons and 10 Stirlings laid mines in the Frisians, off Texel and off the Biscay ports without loss.

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TIM BARLOW 2/3 June 1943 - Mine laying: 21 Wellingtons and 14 Stirlings laid mines off the Biscay ports without loss.

3/4 June 1943 – Minor Operations, Minelaying, Leaflet Dropping: 24 Wellingtons and 15 Stirlings mine laying off the Biscay ports, 16 OTU leaflet flights. 1 OTU Wellington was lost in the sea.

5/6 June 1943 - Minor Operations, Minelaying, Leaflet (Nickel) Dropping: 12 aircraft mine laying in the Frisians, 5 OTU sorties to the Vichy-controlled area of France. No aircraft lost.

9/10 June 1943 – Minor Operations: 8 OTU Wellingtons on leaflet flights to France. 1 aircraft crashed in England.

10/11 June 1943 - Minor Operations: 5 Whitley’s and 1 Wellington from OTUs on leaflet flights to France. 1 Whitley lost.

11/12 June 1943 – Düsseldorf & Munster: 783 aircraft - 326 Lancasters, 202 Halifaxs, 143 Wellingtons, 99 Stirlings, 13 Mosquitos. The Pathfinder marking plan proceeded excellently until an Oboe Mosquito inadvertently released a load of target indicators 14 miles north-east of the target area. This caused part of the Main Force to waste its bombs on open country. But the main bombing caused extensive damage in the centre of Düsseldorf, where 130 acres were claimed as destroyed, and this proved to be the most damaging raid of the war for this city. 38 aircraft - 14 Lancasters, 12 Halifaxs, 10 Wellingtons, 2 Stirlings lost, 4.9 per cent of the force. Münster: 72 aircraft - 29 Lancasters, 22 Halifaxs, 21 Stirlings - were dispatched on an interesting raid. All the aircraft were provided by No 8 Group and it was really a mass H 2S trial. 33 of the aircraft carried markers or flares, the remaining aircraft acting as the bombing force, although the marker aircraft also bombed. The marking and bombing were very accurate and the whole raid lasted less than 10 minutes. Photographic reconnaissance showed that much damage was done to railway installations in Münster as well as to housing areas. Unfortunately the raid was expensive for the small force involved; 5 aircraft - 2 Halifaxs, 2 Lancasters and 1 Stirling - were lost, 6.9 per cent of the aircraft involved.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN 3 Mosquitos to Duisburg and 2 to Cologne, 23 OTU sorties to France. 1 OTU Wellington was lost.

12/13 June 1943 – Bochum: 503 aircraft - 323 Lancasters, 167 Halifaxs, 11 Mosquitos to Bochum. This raid took place over a completely cloud-covered target but accurate Oboe skymarking enabled the all Lancaster/Halifax Main Force to cause severe damage to the centre of Bochum. 14 Lancasters and 10 Halifaxs lost, 4.8 per cent of the force. Mine laying: 34 Wellingtons to the Frisians, Lorient and St Nazaire. No losses.

13/14 June 1943 – Minor Operations Dusseldorf, Cologne: 13 Mosquitos - 6 to Berlin, 4 to Düsseldorf and 3 to Cologne - but all targets were cloud-covered and only estimated positions were bombed. 18 Wellingtons and 12 Stirlings were sent mine laying off the Biscay ports and there were 8 OTU sorties. 1 Wellington minelayer lost.

14/15 June 1943 – Oberhausen: 197 Lancasters and 6 Mosquitos to Oberhausen. This target was also cloud-covered but once again the Oboe skymarking was accurate. 17 Lancasters lost, 8.4 per cent of the force. 2 Mosquitos to Cologne, 29 aircraft mine laying off Brittany and in the River Gironde. 1 Stirling minelayer lost.

15/16 June 1943 – Berlin: 6 Mosquitos carried out a nuisance raid to Berlin without loss.

16/17 June 1943 - Cologne: 202 Lancasters and 10 Halifaxs of 1, 5 and No 8 Groups to Cologne. The marking for this raid was not by Oboe but by 16 heavy bombers of the Pathfinders fitted with H2S. The target was cloudcovered and some of the Pathfinder aircraft had trouble with their H2S sets. The skymarking was late and sparse, and the bombing of the all-Lancaster Main Force was thus scattered. 14 Lancasters lost. 3 Mosquitos to Berlin, 4 OTU sorties. No losses.

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TIM BARLOW 17/18 June 1943 – Ruhr: 7 Mosquitos, 4 to Berlin and 3 to Cologne and the Ruhr. No aircraft lost.

19/20 June 1943 – Le Creusot, Montchanin: 290 aircraft - 181 Halifaxs, 107 Stirlings, 2 Lancasters - to bomb the Schneider armaments factory and the Breuil steelworks at Le Creusot. The tactics for this raid were that the Pathfinders would only drop flares and that each crew of the Main Force was to identify their part of the target by the light of these flares. The Main Force crews were then to make 2 runs over the target area, dropping a short stick of bombs on each run from altitudes between 5,000 and 10,000ft. By this stage of the war, however, Main Force crews were used to bombing target indicators and many had difficulty in making a visual identification of their target. Lingering smoke from the large number of flares was blamed for most of the difficulty. Bombing photographs showed that all crews bombed within 3 miles of the centre of the target but only about one fifth managed to hit the factories. Many bombs fell on nearby residential property but no report could be obtained from France to give details of casualties. 2 Halifaxs lost. 26 of the H2S-equipped Pathfinders who had released flares at Le Creusot were intended to fly on to drop flares over the electrical-transformer station at Montchanin. By the light of these flares, a further 26 Lancaster bombers of No 8 Group were to attack this second target. Most of the attacking crews, however, mistook a small metal factory for the transformer station and bombed that target instead. A few aircraft did identify the correct target but their bombs scored no hits on it. 6 Mosquitos to Cologne, Duisburg and Düsseldorf, 12 Lancasters of No 3 Group mine laying in the River Gironde. 1 Lancaster was lost.

20/21 June 1943 - Friedrichshaffen: 60 Lancasters to attack the Zeppelin works at Friedrichshafen, on the shores of Lake Constance (the Bodensee). This factory made Würzburg radar sets which were an important part of the Germanfighter interception boxes through which Bomber Command had to fly every time they attacked a target in Germany. This was a special raid with interesting and novel tactics. Like the recent Dams Raid, the attack was to be 'controlled' by the pilot of one of the Lancasters. This feature would later be known as 'the Master Bomber' technique. The plan was formulated by No 5 Group which provided the Master Bomber - Group Captain LC Slee - and nearly all of the aircraft involved; the Pathfinders sent 4 Lancasters of 97 Squadron. Group Captain Slee's aircraft developed engine trouble and he handed over to his deputy, Wing Commander GL Gomm of 467 Squadron. The attack, like the recent raid on Le Creusot, was intended to be carried out from 5,000 to 10,000ft in bright moonlight, but the flak and searchlight defences were very active and Wing Commander Gomm ordered the bombing force to climb a further 5,000 ft. Unfortunately the wind at the new height was stronger than anticipated and this caused difficulties.

The bombing was in 2 parts. The first bombs were aimed at target indicators dropped by one of the


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN Pathfinder aircraft. The second phase was a 'time-and-distance' bombing run from a point on the shores of the lake to the estimated position of the factory. This was a technique which No 5 Group was developing. Photographic reconnaissance showed that nearly 10 per cent of the bombs hit the small factory and that much damage was caused there. Nearby factories were also hit. The bomber force confused the German night fighters waiting for the return over France by flying on in the first shuttle raid to North Africa. No Lancasters were lost. 4 Mosquitos to Berlin and 1 to Düsseldorf, 15 aircraft mine laying off La Pallice and in the River Gironde. 3 OTU sorties. No losses.

21/22 June 1943 – Krefield: 705 aircraft - 262 Lancasters, 209 Halifaxs, 117 Stirlings, 105 Wellingtons, 12 Mosquitos. 44 aircraft - to Krefeld. 17 Halifaxs, 9 Lancasters, 9 Wellingtons, 9 Stirlings - were lost, 6.2 per cent of the force. This raid was carried out before the moon period was over and the heavy casualties were mostly caused by night fighters. 12 of the aircraft lost were from the Pathfinders; 35 Squadron lost 6 out of its 19 Halifaxs taking part in the raid. The raid took place in good visibility and the Pathfinders produced an almost perfect marking effort, ground-markers dropped by Oboe Mosquitos being well backed up by the Pathfinder heavies. 619 aircraft bombed these markers, more than three quarters of them achieving bombing photographs within 3 miles of the centre of the target. A large area of fire became established and this raged, out of control, for several hours. 1 Mosquito to Hamborn, 15 OTU sorties. No losses.

22/23 June 1943 – Mulheim: Mülheim: 557 aircraft - 242 Lancasters, 155 Halifaxs, 93 Stirlings, 55 Wellingtons, 12 Mosquitos. The Pathfinders had to mark this target through a thin layer of stratus cloud but reports indicate accurate initial marking. In later stages of the raid, the Pathfinder markers and the bombing moved slightly, into the northern part of the town; this had the effect of cutting all road and telephone communications with the neighbouring town of Oberhausen, with which Mülheim was linked for airraid purposes. Not even cyclists or motor-cyclists were able to get out of Mülheim; only messengers on foot could get through. The post-war British Bombing Survey Unit estimated that this single raid destroyed 64 per cent of the town of Mülheim.

Source: www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/diary.html. The Bomber Command War Diaries (Middlebrook & Everitt), www.156squadron.com/101display_squadronlog.

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The view from the Flight Engineers window.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN Section 4

This is what they flew to do

The war weighed heavily on everyone as their minds, bodies and consciences were tested with one impossible situation and scenario after another. Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris was trying to lead his force in the best way he could, by taking advantage of their technological advances and superiorities. And the Joint Chiefs of Staff were in agreement; that to win the war without having to perform an invasion of mainland Europe was preferable. It was decided a sustained bombing campaign against the industrial and civilian heartland of Germany should be tried in an attempt to reduce them to submission in the build up to invasion. The idea raised many moral and military arguments for and against and Harris had been told by those in opposition that, “he will never win the war through the bombing of German cities”, replying on camera he said, “It has never been tried, so we will see”. They duly did. It is interesting to think that at this stage those in command had known that the same basic strategy had not worked during the Blitz earlier in the war, but were prepared to try it against the enemy anyway. From the flying logs Jack and his squadron kept we know that on each of his sorties his plane dropped 1x4000lb HC Bomb, 600x4lb Bombs and 48x30lb incendiary bombs, on a combination of industrial and domestic targets. The RAF sent up to 1000 bombers in a single raid, for months at a time. They did terrible damage and the retaliative bombing of German targets resulted in the killing of four times as many German civilians than the British lost throughout the war, in all of the Blitz and from all German bombing. After the war the British and Amercians received criticism of their policy to bomb civilians.

Battle of the Ruhr The Battle of the Ruhr was a five month long campaign of strategic bombing against the Nazi Germany Ruhr Area, which had coke plants, steelworks, and ten synthetic oil plants. The campaign bombed twenty-six major targets. They included the Krupp armament works (Essen), the Nordstern synthetic-oil plant (Gelsenkirchen), and the Rheinmetal-Borsig plant in Düsseldorf. The latter was safely evacuated during the Battle of the Ruhr. Although not strictly part of the Ruhr area, the battle of the Ruhr included other cities such as Cologne which were within the Rhine-Ruhr region and considered part of the same "industrial complex". Furthermore some targets were not sites of heavy industrial production but part of the production and movement of material. In total 364,514 operational sorties were flown, 1,030,500 tons of bombs were dropped and 8,325 aircraft were lost in action with between 2 and 10 crew onboard.

Offence and defence The British bomber force was made up in the main of the twin-engined Vickers Wellington medium bomber and the four-engined "heavies", the Short Stirling, Handley Page Halifax and Avro Lancaster. The Wellington and Stirling were the two oldest designs and limited in the type or weight of bombs carried. The Stirling was also limited to a lower operational height. The Bombers could carry a range of bombs - Medium Capacity bombs of about 50% explosive by weight, High Capacity 115


TIM BARLOW "Blockbusters" that were mostly explosive and incendiary devices. The combined use of the latter two were most effective in setting fire to urban areas. British raids were by night because the losses in daylight were too heavy to bear. By this point in the war, RAF Bomber Command was using navigation aids, (the Pathfinder force) and the Bomber Stream tactic together. Electronic navigation aids such as "Oboe", which had been tested against Essen in January 1943, meant the Pathfinders could mark the targets despite the industrial haze and cloud cover that obscured the area by night. Guidance markers put the main force over the target area, where they would then dropping their bomb loads on target markers. The bomber stream concentrated the force of bombers into a small time window, so it would overwhelm fighter defences in the air and fire fighting attempts on the ground. The USAAF had two 4-engined heavy bombers available: the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator - neither carried a bomb similar to the blockbuster bomb and USAAF raids were by daylight. The closely-massed groups of bombers would cover each other with defensive cover from fighters meaning that between them the Allies could mount "round the clock" bombing. The USAAF forces in the UK were still increasing during 1943 and the majority of the bombing was by the RAF. During the battle of the Ruhr, Bomber Command estimated about seventy percent of their aircraft losses were due to fighter activity and by July 1943 the German night fighter force totalled 550. Through the summer of 1943, the Germans increased the ground-based anti-aircraft defences in the Ruhr area; and by July 1943 there were more than 1,000 large flak guns in position. This equated to about one-third of all anti-aircraft guns in Germany and six-hundred thousand personnel were required to man the AA defences. The British crews called the area sarcastically "Happy Valley” or the "valley of no Return".

Outcome In his study of the German war economy Adam Tooze stated that during the Battle of the Ruhr, Bomber Command severely disrupted German production, with it falling by 200,000 tons. The armaments industry was facing a steel shortfall of 400,000 tons even after doubling production in 1942, actual output of steel increased only by 20 percent in 1943. Hitler and Speer were forced to cut planned increases in production and the disruption caused resulted in the zulieferungskrise (subcomponents crisis). The increase of aircraft production for the Luftwaffe also came to an abrupt halt and monthly production failed to increase between July 1943 and March 1944. "Bomber Command had stopped Speer's armaments miracle in its tracks". At Essen after more than 3,000 sorties and the loss of 138 aircraft, the "Krupp’s works and the town itself contained large areas of devastation". Krupp’s never restarted locomotive production after the second March raid. Krupp’s made amongst other items, the feared 88 and 105mm guns.

Casualties Overall, Allied bombing of German cities claimed between 305,000 and 600,000 civilian lives and this point has been one of contention ever since. Until 1942 navigational technology did not allow for any more precise targeting than at best a district of a town or city by night bombing. All large German cities contained important industrial districts and so were considered legitimate targets by


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN the Allies so new methods were introduced to create "firestorms". The single most destructive raids in terms of absolute casualties were those on Hamburg (45,000 dead) in 1943 and Dresden (25,000– 35,000 dead) in 1945. Other large raids on German cities which resulted in high civil casualties included Darmstadt (12,300 dead), Pforzheim (17,600 dead) and Kassel (10,000 dead).

Regarding the legality of the campaign, an article in the International Review of the Red Cross stated: In examining these events (aerial area bombardment) in the light of international humanitarian law, it should be borne in mind that during the Second World War there was no agreement, treaty, convention or any other instrument governing the protection of the civilian population or civilian property. The conventions then in force dealt only with the protection of the wounded and the sick on the battlefield and in naval warfare, hospital ships, the laws and customs of war and the protection of prisoners of war. Bomber Command crews also suffered an extremely high casualty rate: 55,573 killed out of a total of 125,000 aircrew (a 44.4% death rate), a further 8,403 were wounded in action and 9,838 became prisoners of war. This covered all Bomber Command operations including tactical support for ground operations and mining of sea lanes. A Bomber Command crew member had a worse chance of survival than an infantry officer in World War I. By comparison, the US Eighth Air Force, which flew daylight raids over Europe, had 350,000 aircrew during the war, and suffered 26,000 killed and 23,000 POWs. Of the RAF Bomber Command personnel killed during the war, seventy two percent were British, eighteen percent were Canadian, seven percent were Australian and three percent were New Zealanders. Taking an example of 100 airmen:     

Fifty Five were killed on operations or died as result of wounds. Three injured (in varying levels of severity) on operations or active service. Twelve taken prisoner of war (some injured) Two shot down and evaded capture. Twenty seven survived a tour of operations.

The "balance sheet" Bomber Command had an overwhelming commitment to the strategic bombing offensive against Germany, and it seems appropriate to judge its contribution to the Allied war-effort primarily in that context. The ostensible aim of the offensive, breaking the morale of the German working class, must be considered a failure. The scale and intensity of the offensive was an appalling trial to the German people and the Hamburg attacks, particularly, profoundly shook the Nazi leadership. However, on balance the indiscriminate nature of the bombing and the heavy civilian casualties and damage stiffened German resistance to fight on to the end. Sir Arthur Harris himself believed that there was a relationship between tonnage dropped, city areas destroyed, and lost production. The effect of Bomber Command's attacks on industrial production is not so clear cut. A US survey was little concerned with the RAF area bombing campaign. It pointed to the great success of the USAAF's attacks on Germany's synthetic oil plants starting in the spring 117


TIM BARLOW of 1944 - which had a crippling effect on German transportation and prevented the Luftwaffe from flying. Albert Speer, Hitler's Minister of Armaments noted that the larger British bombs did much more damage and so made repair more difficult, and sometimes impossible. Shortly after the war's end, Speer was unequivocal about the effect of this: “The real importance of the air war consisted of the fact that it opened a second front long before the invasion in Europe. Defence against air attacks required the production of thousands of anti-aircraft guns, the stockpiling of tremendous quantities of ammunition all over the country, and holding in readiness hundreds of thousands of soldiers, who in addition had to stay in position by their guns, often totally inactive, for months at a time” - Albert Speer (1959). Relying on US gathered statistics the British survey found that actual arms production decreases were a mere three percent for 1943, and one percent for 1944. However they did find decreases of forty six and a half percent and thirty nine percent in the second half of 1943 and 1944 respectively in the metal processing industries. These losses are attributed to the devastating series of raids the Command launched on the Ruhr Valley. This apparent lack of success is accounted for in several ways. The German industrial economy was so strong, its industrial bases so widely spread, that it was a hopeless task to try and crush it by area bombing. Further, up until 1943 it is undoubtedly the case that Germany was not fully mobilised for war, Speer remarked that single shift factory working was commonplace, so there was plenty of slack in the system. It has been argued that the RAF campaign placed a limit on German arms production. This may be true but it is also the case that the German forces did not run out of arms and ammunition and that it was manpower that was a key limiting factor, as well as the destruction of transport facilities and the fuel to move. Some positive points should be made. The greatest contribution to winning the war made by Bomber Command was in the huge diversion of German resources into defending the homeland; which was very considerable indeed. By January 1943 some thousand Luftwaffe night fighters were committed to the defence of the Reich – mostly twin engined Me 110 and Ju 88. Most critically, by September 1943, 8,876 of the deadly, dual purpose 88 mm guns were also defending the homeland with a further 25,000 light flak guns – 20/37 mm. The 88mm gun was an effective AA weapon, it was a deadly destroyer of tanks and lethal against advancing infantry and would have done much to augment German anti-tank defences on the Russian front. To man these weapons the flak regiments in Germany required some 90,000 fit personnel, and a further 1 million were deployed in clearing up and repairing the vast bomb-damage caused by the RAF attacks. To put this into perspective General Erwin Rommel's German forces defending Normandy in 1944 comprised 50,000 men, and their resistance caused the Western Allies grave problems. This diversion to defensive purposes, of German arms and manpower, was an enormous contribution to winning the war. By 1944 the bombing offensive was costing Germany thirty percent of all artillery production, twenty percent of heavy shells, thirty three percent of the output of the optical industry for sights and aiming devices and fifty percent of the country's electro-technical output which had to be diverted to the anti-aircraft role. From the British perspective it should be noted that the RAF offensive made a great contribution in sustaining morale during the dark days of the war, especially during the bleak winter of 1941-42. It was the only means that Britain possessed of taking the war directly to the enemy at that time.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN

The following towns and cities received attention from the RAF: Kiel, Neumünster, Stralsund, Bremerhaven, Emden, Wilhelmshaven, Hamburg, Neubrandenburg, Neustrelitz, Prenzlau, Bremen, Hannover, Rheine, Osnabrück, Hildesheim, Braunschweig, Magdeburg, Berling, Potsdam, Frankfurt/Oder, Bocholt, Münster, Kleve, Wesel, Dortmund, Hamm, Soest, Krefeld, Mönchengladbach, Düsseldorf, Aachen, Düren, Bonn, Köln, Siegen, Koblenz, Trier, Bingen, Bad Kreuznach, Mainz, Worms, Kaiserslautern, Pirmasens, Karlsruhe, Pforzheim, Stuttgart, Freiburg, Friedrichshafen, Ulm, München, Augsburg, Straubing, Heilbronn, Nürnberg, Ingolstadt, Bayreuth, Mannheim, Ludwigshafen, Darmstadt, Offenbach, Hanau, Frankfurt, Gießen, Schweinfurt, Würzburg, Gießen, Kassel, Nordhausen, Merseburg, Leipzig, Chemnitz, Eilenburg, Halberstadt, Magdeburg, Gelsenkirchen, Oberhausen, Witten, Duisburg, Hagen, Wuppertal, Solingen, Neuß, Remscheid, Brilon and Aschaffenburg. The allied plan failed and hatred towards them grew. It’s known that bomber crews that had to bail or ditch over German territory were often killed by the angry mob waiting for them. It is also documented that the German ground forces were inclined to inflict horrific injuries and slow deaths on allied soldiers that they encountered as revenge for the burning of the German cities and civilians.

A 101 Squadron Lancaster emptys it’s Small Bomb Containers.

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A 101 Squadron Lancaster drops a Cookie and incendiaries.

Note the explosion blast, centre, caught on camera.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN

Wuppertal – One of Jack’s targets and successful missions In May and June 1943 the "Battle of the Ruhr" increased. In two attacks on the city of Wuppertal more than 6,000 people lost their lives. The attack on Wuppertal in the night of 29/30 May 1943, caused the first example of a firestorm. The German firemen were not able to fight the great fires. Other examples of extreme firestorms as a result of Bomber Command area raids were caused in Hamburg (July 27/28, 1943: c. 40,000 deaths), Pforzheim (February 23/24, 1945: c. 17,000 deaths) and Dresden (February 13/14, 1945: c. 125,000 deaths). All in all, over 150,000 people were killed in the "Battle of the Ruhr". Among them were numerous foreign slave labourers, prisoners of war, and inmates of concentration camps, who worked in the industrial plants in the Ruhr cities and town, but the RAF Bomber Command suffered losses too, more than 5,000 airmen lost their lives in "Ruhr raids" between March and July 1943.

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Completing their missions was dangerous affair for everyone with death coming from every direction, in the air and on the ground and even from your own side.

German fire crews fight fires in Wuppertal June 1943. Source www.historischescentrum.de/index.php?id=415 I discovered an interesting coincidence when a work colleague of mine told me she comes from Wuppertal and her Grandmother had passed on a number of horrific accounts of what it is like to be bombed by the RAF.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN She tells the story of people being set alight by the burning phosphorous and then running into the river Wupper in an attempt to extinguish the flames. Once they stepped out of the water, thinking they were out of danger, the chemicals would reignite and continuously burn the flesh from their bodies. She also told me that the civilians had to help clear the bodies and that her Grandmother’s husband, who was a Nazi, had his wife arrested because he thought she was a communist. That accusation had arisen because one person at her acting group was a communist. She was sent to a labour camp for three years and at the end of the war she was so poor that the only place she could go back to was her husband, which she did.

A German ’88 gun crew defend their sector.

Krefeld - One of Jacks targets and successful missions On 22 June 1943 a large part of the town was destroyed by an air attack, including the church, parsonage, and the Mennonite home for the aged. 705 aircraft participated - 262 Lancasters, 209 Halifaxs, 117 Stirlings, 105 Wellingtons, and 12 Mosquitos. 44 aircraft were lost - 9 Lancasters, 17 Halifaxs, 9 Stirlings, and 9 Wellingtons - 6.2% of the force. The raid was carried out before the moon period was over and the heavy casualties were mostly caused by night fighters. 12 of the aircraft lost were from the Pathfinders: 35 Squadron lost 6 of its 19 Halifaxs taking part in the raid. The raid took place in good visibility and the Pathfinders produced an almost perfect marking effort, ground markers dropped by the Oboe Mosquitos being well backed up by the Pathfinder heavies. 619 aircraft bombed these markers more than three quarters of them achieving bombing photographs within 3 miles of the centre of Krefeld. 2,306 tons of bombs were dropped. A large area of fire became established and this raged, out of control, for several hours. The whole centre of the city approximately 47% of the built-up area, was burnt out. A total of 5,517 houses were destroyed, according to the Krefeld records, which was the largest figure so far in the war. 1,056 people were killed and 4,550 injured. 72,000 people lost their homes; 20,000 of these were billeted upon families in 123


TIM BARLOW the suburbs, 30,000 moved in with relatives or friends and 20,000 were evacuated to other towns.

A picture taken in Krefeld following the bombing in June 1943.

Bodies await identification and burial after another night of slaughter which would have been done by civilians and any available slave labour. Picture taken in Mulheim 1943.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN

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Mulheim - The planned route LM325 was taking that night was “base – Noordwijk – MULHEIM – 5125N/0630E – Noordwijk – Base”. Jack and LM325 didn’t make it to this target.

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TIM BARLOW The first purposeful attack on Mulheim was minor, and took place on May 13, 1942. By the end of the war, 1,305 civilians in Mulheim died from allied bombs, with the strongest attack killing 530 on June 23, 1943. 557 British bombers attacked Mulheim city centre and industrial areas to the north in three waves, destroying 64% of the city centre. Mosquitos, in low-altitude flight, disengaged the fire protection and police channels. This was an unwarned attack. Marking of the city centre first by the "pathfinders" was a well rehearsed, accurate art by now, so that bombs of the first wave fell into the targeted city centre. Both hospitals and the ancient churches of Petri and Marienkirche were completely destroyed. 530 civilians were killed, 1,630 buildings were totally destroyed, and the firemen had to struggle with 150 major fires, 700 medium fires and 2,250 small fires. 40,000 civilians were suddenly shelter less with no gas, water or electricity. Werner Baake, pictured below, flew and tried to stop the Allied aircrews getting through.

Sources: www.historiches-centrum.de, www.exulanten.com/ruhr.html, www.bombercommand.info/acrhur.htm, www.aprohead.com, www.encyclopedia.com, www.iwm.org.uk, www.aircrewrememberancesociety.com, www.exulanten.com/bombg2.html, en.wikipedia.org, www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/jun43.html, www.historyofwaronline.com/ww2-2.html, www.ww2dbm.com, www.flickr.com/photos/imlsdcc/4120717764/, wn.com/night_bombers, www.airmuseum.ca/mag/exag0103.html.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN An extract from "Flak and Barbed Wire" by Gordon Stooke RAAF

Even though the events in this story took place a long time ago, they are still vivid in my memory. Perhaps the setting down of this one of many experiences may help to exorcise some lingering effects. The target for the night of the 24th June 1943 was the German city of Wuppertal in the Ruhr valley. Dusk was falling and with propellers lazily ticking over, my bomb laden aircraft was one of 15, queued nose to tail, at RAAF Station Binbrook, Lincolnshire, waiting its turn to take off. During 1943-44, raids by RAF Bomber Command into Europe increased in frequency and intensity. At the same time, so did the effectiveness of the German defences. Luftwaffe night fighters used sophisticated radar locating devices to find attacking bombers in the dark and the aim of electronically predicted anti-aircraft guns and searchlights on the ground, became unerring. Even though German location techniques were countered to some extent by British radar disrupting devices and diversionary measures, the inevitable result was an ever increasing toll on RAF aircrew and aircraft. Losses, sometimes as high as 90 bombers (e.g., Berlin), were generally about 30 aircraft or 210 aircrew per raid. Only 10% of those shot down were reported as becoming Prisoners of War. Aircrew were required to carry out 30 raids to complete one tour of operations before being rested. During a tour 900 aircraft, i.e. 30 raids X 30 aircraft per raid would have been lost. As there were about 750 attacking aircraft in each raid, survival it seems, was arithmetically impossible. For all that, a rare few even finished a second tour of a further 20 operations. It was said that after completing 10 operations, just maybe experience became a plus factor making the following 20 a little less hazardous. How did an aircrew maintain morale in the face of such unacceptable odds? Maybe it was because we were all so young and with the optimism of youth, never believed "it" would happen to us. Infallible youth? Overconfidence? Pride? Maybe we just shut our minds to reality when in real and constant danger. Even under the most adverse circumstances, few were willing to dwell on the fact that we could well lose our lives. Anyway over enemy territory we were too preoccupied to consider such things. Later, after the danger had passed, then maybe a nervous witticism or two or possibly fake bravado, revealed unexpressed fears and mute relief. In a sad, paradoxical sort of way, I suppose, with sword in hand, we came to accept our own dire peril and the shock of mates "getting the chop" as part of life in those irrational and dispassionate days. At 2223hrs a green flare from the Duty Pilot and the first Lancaster rolled forward, turned left, then accelerating, disappeared over a crest in Binbrook's peculiar runway, to appear again, thankfully, as it struggled heavily laden into the air. Directly in front of us was G for George, later incredibly surviving 95 operations, then flown to Australia and installed as a permanent exhibit in the War Museum, Canberra. One by one, 460 Squadron became airborne. All the while we waited, with our engineer watching engine temperatures like a hawk. Too high and we would have to shut them down to cool them off. G-George took off and then it was our turn on the runway. First a burst of throttles, then I turned left 127


TIM BARLOW and lined up with the runway. I put down 10 degrees of flaps, pitch full fine, mixture rich, trim controls centre. Now brakes on. Throttles to 1000 revolutions. A green from the Duty Pilot's Aldis lamp and I released the brakes. D-Donald trundled forward as I opened the throttles, slowly at first, then accelerated. A slight swing to the left was corrected by leading the left two throttles in advance of the right. Control column forward to raise the tail as the slipstream increased. 50mph reached. Direction control established using rudders. Throttles fully forward. Handed them over to the engineer who made sure they were fully home, He tightened the friction nut, locking them. Engines 3000 revolutions per minute (R.P.M.), boost +14lb/sq.in. Speed 110mph. I eased back on the control column. D-Donald reluctantly heaved itself, 1500gls of fuel, 11,000lbs of bombs and seven human beings into the air. 130mph, undercarriage up. 140mph, flaps up. 160mph, engines down to +9lbs/sq.in. boost, 2850rpm. We checked oil and coolant temperatures. All OK. I trimmed the control surfaces for climb. We were at 500 feet. "What's the course for the rendezvous point, navigator?�,"150 degrees magnetic, Skipper. Estimated time of arrival (ETA) at rendezvous point 2251hrs at 10,000ft�. "On course now, D-Donald dragged itself up, ever higher, engines roaring with the toil of it. Dusk became night as the sun finally disappeared over the western horizon. On reaching the rendezvous point, I asked the navigator for a course to the Dutch coast. "120 degrees magnetic and climb on to 20,000ft, Skipper. ETA Dutch coast 2355hrs," he answered. We had been routed over Grevelingen (waterway) between Rotterdam and Antwerp. This course avoided the anti-aircraft defences concentrated around these two cities. Nevertheless the Luftwaffe night fighter squadrons based in Holland would certainly be on the lookout for us, so the gunners had to keep their eyes skinned. I checked with them over the intercom. "We were all eyes long ago, Skipper," the rear gunner said. "20,000ft and the Dutch coast five minutes away," the navigator reported. Soon below us was Holland's southern coast. The moon's reflection on the water outlined two large peninsulas jutting out into the North Sea. To the south was Shouwen and Walcheren and to the north, Voorne, "Cruising revs. +4lb/sq.in. boost and try 1800rpm," I told the engineer. Straight and level, D-Donald cruised at 160mph indicated air speed (I.A.S.). "Course change Skipper," the navigator reported. 104 degrees magnetic, distance to Wuppertal 145 miles, ETA 0035hrs. We'll be passing between Duisburg and Dusseldorf just before the target so it'll get pretty hot." Over to our left and at about the same height, I saw a bright flash of light that slowly faded and finally vanished. "Probably a collision between two friendlies." I shuddered. "Another 14 airmen gone." I said nothing to the crew. Collisions between attacking aircraft accounted, we were told, for an increasing number of losses in Bomber Command. Aircraft were scheduled to arrive over the target in waves two minutes apart and at various heights. Even so, bombers were sometimes late in arriving or were at other than their allotted heights, maybe due to navigational or mechanical problems. So your life and the lives of thirteen others depended on the vigilance and competence of all. Quite a responsibility for 20 year olds.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN I saw another explosion, this time on the ground, far below. Most likely a bomber, attacked by a fighter, crashed, bombs and all. I hoped the crew parachuted before the aircraft hit the ground. Fat chance. We could see Wuppertal, ablaze, in front of us and still ten miles away. Dozens of searchlights speared skywards around the familiar box barrage of exploding anti-aircraft shells. Green and red target indicators confirmed the presence of our Pathfinder force. Heavy bombers were as thick as flies, thankfully all going in somewhat the same direction. Some above us, possibly early or late arrivals, were getting ready to drop their bombs on the target and on D-Donald as well. Others below us, silhouetted against the fires, were positioned to accept our load. The seemingly impregnable wall of fiery anti-aircraft bursts were closing fast. Probing searchlights seeking their prey, flashed by much too close. Only a few Luftwaffe fighters, though. Too dangerous over the target for them, I guessed. Most attacked the bombers before the target or afterwards on the trip home. Only the bravest and most dedicated member of a Nachtjagdgeschwader faced his own flak. Possibly we were too close to Dusseldorf. Or maybe it was just that "Jerry" was everywhere that night. Suddenly night was turned into day. We were coned by searchlights. The evasion procedure was:- nose down, throttles wide open, go like hell. The faster you go the harder you are to hit. Get out of the area as quickly as possible. I dived D-Donald and it flapped its wings, its motors screamed in agony and its fuselage shook violently. The navigator reported our air speed as "over 400mph." Heavy with bombs, we quickly dropped from 20,000ft to 15,000ft and were just about clear when I saw two bright yellow flashes, in quick succession, over the nose of the aircraft. I heard the "clump, clump" of two exploding flak shells. Then a noise like hail on a tin roof. I swore I smelled cordite. We had received multiple direct hits from a German anti-aircraft battery. "Bloody hell, the starboard inner engine's on fire, Skipper," yelled the engineer. I glanced to my right. Tongues of red hot flames were already straddling the wing and number two fuel tank. High octane petrol could explode at any moment. "Kill it fast, NOW!!" I ordered. The engineer immediately throttled the engine back and feathered its propeller. He quickly pressed the red fire extinguisher button for that engine. Thank Heaven the extinguisher did its job and the fire went out. The port inner engine had simply stopped. Two left out of four. "Feather it as well," I ordered. Hell, what next? Quickly I opened the bomb bay doors. There was an ominous glow coming from the area where the cans of incendiaries were hanging. "Jettison the bomb load FAST, I think the incendiaries have been hit and are alight." The bomb-aimer did not have to be told twice. I felt the Lancaster jump up as 11,000lbs of bombs fell away. There was no doubt we had jettisoned them just in time. Suddenly we were free of the searchlights. Maybe they could not hold us any longer. Perhaps they knew they had clobbered us and went looking for other game. "Anyone hit?" I checked the crew. All OK up front. None hurt. "Gunners OK?" God, no reply! Fearfully I sent the wireless operator back to check. They were all right. The intercom to the gun turrets were out. We were down to 12,500ft as we flew over the target. At this height we were as vulnerable as Wuppertal down below. We could have been hit by any one of thousands of bombs and incendiaries raining down on us from our own bomber force 7000ft above. "Skipper, the bomb bay doors are still open," the bomb-aimer reported. There was no way of closing them on this aircraft with both inner engines stopped. "And I can see the starboard undercarriage hanging half way down," the engineer said. "The port under-cart too," said the navigator looking 129


TIM BARLOW over my shoulder. "We can't retract them without hydraulics," I said. Corkscrewing was 'out'. Even flying straight and level, we were losing height. The extra drag of the open bomb bay and the undercarriage was the problem. The two remaining engines were flat out. Boost +9lb/sq.in, 2850rpm. (1 hour limit). Desperately we tried other throttle and pitch settings but D-Donald continued to lose height. We jettisoned everything moveable, even some of our fuel. Later we released the carrier pigeon with a message. Maybe it would find its way back to England. I doubted it. The Lancaster could hold its height at 10,000ft on two engines according to the pilot’s notes. I had done this as an exercise plenty of times at the Conversion Unit. But not with bomb bay doors open and wheels half down. The crew reported extensive fuselage damage, mostly holes and rips in the aluminium skin. Possibly the wings were holed as well. Someone must have been looking after us, we were very lucky. We had taken two simultaneous direct hits by anti-aircraft shells, both our inner engines were knocked out one of them was on fire. We had taken considerable damage to the fuselage and the wing surfaces. It seemed that the incendiaries had burst into flames but the thin-skinned, 4000lb 'cookie' which could have blown us to kingdom come and back with the help of even the smallest piece of shrapnel was un-damaged. We were still flying and under control, albeit losing height. Nobody had been seriously hurt although if we were attacked by a fighter, the gunners had no way of contacting me with evasion instructions. "Unfeather the port inner engine. Maybe it'll rotate fast enough to generate hydraulic pressure and raise the bomb bay doors and under-cart." No joy!! We lost height even faster. "Feather the bloody thing again," I said. Straight and level, we flew around Cologne and at 0125hrs we crossed over the German/Belgian border. Ever losing height, we were now down to 3500ft. I could make out features on the ground below through the darkness. Thankfully no fighters, they were most likely taking care of the main stream above and in front of us.

Source: www.gordonstooke.com/460squadron/books/fbw.htm.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN Section 5

Eight Minutes to Beuningen

In the early hours of 23rd June 1943 LM325 was flying at about 20,000 ft with good visibility and as part of a stream of bombers six hundred strong. England had passed out of view and from the Dutch coast they could see their targets ablaze beyond the horizon. After nearly two years of training and two successful missions to the Ruhr; Jack and the crew of LM325 were seizing their chance of adventure and taking the fight back to Germany. As they drew closer to their targets the realisation and the ever real threat of death would have increased. The intercom crackled with messages and updates about their course and imminent dangers, searchlights swept the night sky, puffs of exploding flak and tracer fire everywhere, the smell of cordite filling the air; and all the time while they flew in an unheated aircraft with temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius. They may have already been hit; they may have seen friends go down. They were about to be shot at and shot down. Also flying was Werner Baake, circling his beacon and waiting for his chance to pounce on the stream making its way to Germany. Werner had shot down six planes before LM325, one of them an hour earlier. That night he had returned to base, refuelled, rearmed and continued hunting. He was an ‘Ace’ in the making and he had found LM325. Ab Bruisten (pronounced ‘Browston’); both of his parents and seven of their ten children were at home in Beuningen, Holland. They were sleeping but their father, Bart, woke them and said: “that we go outside and lie down in a trench beside our house because there were German fighters in the air and airfightings going on.” An, Leen, Toos, Harry, Wim, Gerrit and Ab came outside with Bart and their mother Coba and began to watch a series of events that would change their lives. The roar from the engines was everywhere, fear gripped them all and the innocence of youth was about to be snatched from them. From below and behind up Werner flew, taking aim and firing his cannons, raking the fuselage with cannon fire. Crippled; fire took hold from the bomb bay to the nose within seconds. Werner recorded details of his position and confirmed it with his crew before flying off to find another target, fifteen minutes later he was to strike again. On feeling the attack Ted Williams recoiled in shock. Coming round he jumped up from his prone position as aimer to dance an uncomfortable quick step with the waist high flames throughout his position. He grabbed his parachute and beat the fire with it that separated him from Jack and Roy. There was silence over the intercom and the fires were still burning in the cabin. Ted managed to put the flames out but his parachute, flying suit, face and lucky doll had been burnt. Hit, on fire and flying over Beuningen Ted asked for the bomb bay doors to be opened and he opened his escape hatch. The atmosphere in the cockpit is incomprehensible. They will have had the worry and very real threat of killing innocent people on their minds, yet they knew they must get rid of their bombs before they exploded onboard. Those that could would have been struggling with their roles, their evacuation procedures, their fire fighting kit, their fear, their duty, their human nature, their desire to avoid killing people unnecessarily and their own mortality. “Bombs gone!” As the bombs were dropped LM325 leapt in the as their weight left them. At any other time that feeling would signify the aim of their mission and the start of their return journey. This time it was simply one less thing that could kill them. While the Bruistens were lying in the ditch they saw that one of the planes was on fire. They “watched it circle and drop its bomb-load in the fields around Beuningen”. Thankfully, through luck or good judgement the crew succeeded in avoiding the builtup areas of the village. 131


TIM BARLOW Ted looked up at Jack and Roy and received orders to “Go Go Go”. He turned, eyed up his escape hatch and jumped. “Not bothering with the steps”. He was away from the plane, he tugged his chord, falling, he blacked out. When Ted came round he refused to look up at his parachute, terrified that it might still be on fire or full of holes. He crossed his fingers, held his doll and fell to Earth. He had survived the jump and was about to start an equally challenging period as he headed towards the garrisoned town of Nijmegen. LM325 flew a right hand arc through the night away from him, on fire and descending to Earth and at forty feet per second. He lost sight of their ride home and being a non-swimmer he said his prayers for winds to blow him away from the mighty and rapidly approaching River Waal. Beavan Tomkins clambered in his bulky flight suit, past Jack and Roy towards the nose escape hatch while Sugden in the tail gunner’s position stood almost no chance, isolated and cold, trapped and scared; if he was still alive. Vin Sugden, the mid upper gunner, must have been hit due to the proximity of his escape hatch and the fact he did not escape. The same is true for Ted Smith, being seated next to Beavan he could have easily reached the nose had he been able. Beavan jumped. Still they were on fire, still they had bombs caught up in the bomb bay and still they knew their time was coming. For eight minutes LM325 circled Beuningen, burning, it completed nearly three circuits of the picturesque countryside town. The aeroplane became harder to fly, more unwieldy, descending; the crew were fighting for their lives. Burning items were seen falling from the plane as they circled Beuningen. Beavan did escape the plane but did not survive the jump. He landed several miles from the eventual crash site of LM325 in a village called ‘Hees’ near Wuurt. His body lay undiscovered for a couple of days and it would be reunited with those of his crew. As they drew closer to the ground the villagers saw the plane veer away from the built up area. Altering their collision course at the last moment toward a field, they were to succeed in avoiding causing any serious damage for the second time that night. Roy and Jack were in position at the controls and battling to keep the engines working and LM325 flying. As the battered hulk came closer to its resting place Ab heard the engines cut out, an action that would never have been sanctioned by Roy and opposite to everything that Jack would have been working towards. Their fight was nearly over and they knew it. The control panel and airframe that had held them so safe before was about to ruin their fragile bodies. Around them their plane still burnt. Ab heard them screaming. LM325 crashed and exploded in an enormous fireball that lit up the whole sky. Such was the blast that Ab could see the next village (Wychen) four miles away from the light given off by the mixture of burning fuel, phosphorous and high explosive. “I saw the silhouette of the cows running through the meadows in panic, through the barbed wire. When I see a great fire that image is always coming up. That unwieldy plane that is laying there in the meadow is a wreck”. The fuselage broke into two large pieces and scattered debris, shrapnel, and clothing several hundred metres apart. Bomb craters and unexploded bombs littered the crash site. They breached fences and hedgerows and they did scare some cattle. They would have died on impact with the ground or very shortly afterwards as they had no seat belts, no air bags and they had not escaped. Dick Augustinus remembered a burning parachute billowing down on his roof. The next morning, the 23rd of June, Eef’s father and brother Hennie, who owned the land around the crash and who were also eye witnesses to the air battle, went milking their cows and found their meadow covered with parts of a wing and its wreckage. A short distance farther was the major part


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN of the plane and the bodies of five air men; one of whom was trapped under an engine and another who had been thrown fifteen meters in the blast. A German guard was placed at the crash location and the burnt bodies were placed on the wing and searched by the Germans for paperwork, identification tags and trinkets. It was also Abs’ father’s birthday and that day before school Ab, his three brothers and also children from next-door went through the meadows to see the wreckage. On their way they saw the wounded cattle in the streams and rivers. “I saw for the first time German soldiers on motorbikes with guns. They were wearing goggles that looked important. Before this I had seen in Beuningen only one German who made the telephonelines. The 3000 inhabitants of Beuningen were for the first time confronted with the horribleness of the war. There was talk of the crash for days and the whole village went to ‘de Steeg’ to have a look. The guards had guns on their shoulders; and they were merry and laughing, acting as if nothing bad had happened. We weren’t allowed near the plane, but I saw part of a dead human body”. At that moment Ab Bruisten lost his innocence and all he saw for a long time was the cruelty of people and war. The five members of the crew remained uncovered for a short period; to be buried in the corner of the field by their German guards. Eef’s brother spoke with a soldier and received a photo of him in exchange for some eggs from their farm; their father was never told about the trade. The photo is still in the possession of Eef’s family and hopefully will be found for inclusion.

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EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN Section 6

What happened next?

Translation Article I (on following page) - Air –raid alarm and emergency conversations around the 23 June 1943 a.m. Bomb crash with burning plane at 23 June 1943 – 1.45 hrs between Beuningen and Nijmegen Police Offices.

At 23 June 1943 a.m. 1.49 hrs. Got a message from the L.B.D.post town hall that signal air-raid alarm is given, there a burning plane with brisant bombs (incendiaries) is crashed nearby “de Steeg” behind the “Hutgraaf”. At 1.50 hrs this message given through to Doctor Kock with order to organize a help-hospital. At 1.53 hrs I was there at the town hall, where I’ve met the mayor, who directly phoned with the Ortskommandatur in Nijmegen and gave the message, above mentioned, (talk of 3 minutes) At 1.58 hrs asked for an urgent call 4xLodewijk. Was busy. At 1.59 hrs phoned the Polizei Offizier in Arnhem (call lasted about 8min) Message: at 1.45hrs.there is crashed a burning plane, probable in a meadow, near de “Hutgraaf” on the way Beuningen – Wijchen. A while before the plane crashed, there are probable some brisant bombs exploded. There are no further details. The terrain there will soon be railed-off (closed) by some members of the order service LBD. The Ortskommandatur in Nijmegen already has got information. Some Polizei officials are already by motor to the place of the accident. At 2.07 in connection with 4 x L. in den Haag. (Urgent call about 10 min). In addition to the head LBD air-raid alarm was ordered that has been given. At 1.52 hrs. Many planes above Beuningen. Damage still unknown. Some men of the German Police will soon be here on that place. By receipt of further orders a message will be send. At 2.30 hrs received a message from F.Burgers, the plane has crashed in a meadow about 50 m distance of the road Beuningen – Wijchen between the houses of Hermsen and P.Jansen. Some parts of the planes have come down along the ditch on the other side of the mentioned way, about the opposite of the plane. Perceived (observed) no pilots. There was much smoke. By my way I’ve met the German Police. Have not seen damage, and no civil victims. At 2.35 and at 2.45 this message by phone call given to the Polizei officer (call lasted 3min) and to 4xLodewijk (urgent call of 9 min). At 2.42 received message that alarm “safe“ is given. At 2.45 hrs the command post at the town hall again taken, there was also the head of the LBD present. At 3.30 hrs went home. Further messages, which should come in the morning, would be passed on by Mr. de Koning. At the 25th of June1943 send a message to the Ortskommandantur, that 2, unexploded fosfor bombs are found in a meadow behind Bosgoed in Beuningen at about 500 meter distance off the plane. Ortskommandantur allowed that these bombs shall be transported to the place, where the plane lays, Provided that the German heaker ( I don’t know this word) this allowed and in other way to the town hall , this all for their own responsibility The guard of the 4 fosfor (Phosphour / incendiary) 135


TIM BARLOW bombs in the Reekstraat is by agree of the Ortskommandatur ended at 3hrs p.m. at the 24th of June 1943, after the head LBD has asked here for by the Ortskommandatur, because of The farmers in this municipal had to do much work. These bombs, by permit, are brought by a car of Romviel to the bike-shed near the town hall and there been put away in a case.

Local Beuningen boys on US Army vehicles some time between 1944-45.

Eef and Hennie Leenders in 1956.


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TIM BARLOW Translation Article II – Local Military Report of Events

Military Police Arnhem Area Druten. Post Beuningen.no.10 OFFICIAL REPORT Of a crashed plane in Beuningen in the night of Tuesday 22- to Wednesday June 1943. . OFFICIAL – REPORT In the night of Tuesday 22- to Wednesday 23 June 1943 at about 1 hr and 45 min. is by me Bernardus Gerhardus Koster, former village-policeman of the municipality Beuningen, at the same time, unpaid state-police, now police-sergeant Military-Police of the group Druten, post Beuningen, seen and perceived that in “de Steeg”, in municipality Beuningen, crashed down a burning plane and sometime before I’ve heard some loud cracks [ our bangs ]. Immediately after that the L.B.D. [airraid precautions ] got the order to give the sign air-raid alarm. The mayor of Beuningen has immediate announced this to the Ortskommandant in Nijmegen and I went to “the Steeg” in Beuningen, where the Plane was crashed. The German forces were as well at the same time at that place. Then I saw in a meadow of “Geurts” about 50mtr.from the public way “the Steeg” in the municipality Beuningen at a distance about 300 metres from standing houses, there laid a burning plane, probable of British nationality. Then I saw lay in this plane three pilots who were deceased and partial burnt. At a distance about 250 metre. From this plane, on the opposite of the public way “the Steeg” in Beuningen. I saw also there laid a part of this plane, under which one or more deceased and partial burnt pilots. At a distance of about 200 metre from this plane is fallen an brisant bomb, which has exploded and there came a hole in the in the ground of the meadow about 12- or 15 metres across and 6- or 7 metres deep. Further there are at distance of about 150 metres from this plane 3 holes in the ground of about 1 metre deep and 25 – 35 cm where in probable not exploded bombs. Further there is a hole 5- 6 mtr across and two metre deep in the ground of “C.Pouwer”, situated at a distance of about 200 metre from the plane in “The Steeg” in Beuningen. In a parcel oats and in a hole in the meadow of “C.Pouwer”in Beuningen, situated at about 250 metres from the plane, while there is also a hole in the ground in the meadow of widow “S. v.d.Pol” Beuningen about 6 metres wide and three mtr.deep. These holes come probable by brisant bombs. At a distance about 100 metres from the plane, I found 2 not burned fire bombs. At several places in these meadows layparts of this plane, while one engine lie about 100metres from this plane. There are no personal accidents and no more fire. Well is a horse that was in a meadow, the owner is H.Rambach, it has a badly wounded on his left foreleg. The wound is 25x15 cm. and probable come from a bomb splinter or from the barbed-wire of the meadow. By several houses in Beuningen are crashed some of the panes as result of the fallen bombs and there are damaged some roof tiles. “W.Augustines” living in Beuningen, has found in the night of Tuesday 22th to Wednesday 23th of June a parachute and a part of the plane at a distance about 500 metres from the plane.”H.Krijnen”, living in Beuningen, has found on the 23th of June, at a distance about 300 metres from the plane, a


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN boot. These objects are brought by me to the plane in Beuningen and put at the disposal of the German forces. At about 2 hr and 40 min. that night the signal alarm-safe” was given The L.B.D. was in function that night. The mayor of this municipality has this all announced at the 25th of June 1943 to the Polizei Officier beim beauftragte des Reichskommissaris fur die provins Gelderlandin Arnhem To the Ortskommandant in Nijmegen and to the headinspector of the L.B.D. in ‘s Gravenhage. The Military Police of group Druten has blocked the roads there and shall the plane until further notice be guarded, while further examination will be continued by the German Polizei and forces. I’ve made from all this, under oath of office, this official report and have signed andclosed it at the 23th of June 1943.

The Police-Sergeant B.G.Koster. Seen at the 23th of June 1943 and send on. Mayor as named, M.G.Broekman [Z.B]

Bernardus Gerhardus Koster pictured before the war.

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Edith and Doris must have known something was wrong somehow because less than ten days after he crashed they had already written to and received a reply from the Red Cross.

And then the inevitable notifications.


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Edith’s reply was drafted on the back of the letter.

Norman visited Edith and Doris and tried to reassure them as best he could. Knowing Jack as he did, he told that that if anyone could escape and evade the enemy on their own turf, Jack could.

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Doris and Edith promptly placed the following notice.


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I know that when Doris died my mother found a silver pencil amongst some other ‘treasurerable items’. I like to believe that this pencil belonged to Jack and is the one referred to in the notice.

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Despite nine months passing since the crash, the grief was obviously sufficiently strong to stop Edith and Doris from returning the signed inventory. *Osborne family grave see Appendix – p577.

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Jacks grave in Uden cemetery shortly after his internment c1944.

Uden Cemetery c1948.


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One of the townspeople of Uden had taken it upon them self to tend Jack’s grave, as the letters and photographs show. This rose was with the following letter and the picture shown above. 169


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TIM BARLOW Translation from Article III by Hetty which follows the translation

To the war graves-committee, Keizersgracht 442 Amsterdam. 1671

Information names of the crashed Pilots 24 Juni 1950

I may ask you an early reply, if possible, to will inform us about the following. We make up our mind to put up in the recently finished park near the town hall a plane-propeller as a lasting memorie to the acts of war (force of arms) in the years 1940 – 1945. The propeller comes from an English 4 engines bomber, which at 23 June 1943 at 1.45 a.m. in this municipality has crashed. In the plane were found the bodies of five members of the crew; one man went down and died by Hees by Nijmegen While a seventh occupant has landed safe there by parachute and was made a prisoner of war. The mortal remains were by German military carried of, as they say, to Uden to become buried there.

On the plane were the following, still readable distinctive: On the wing:D.F.D.314, S.Cuber S.R. Here D.F.D. 275/399, 24 G. 12 A.no R.S. 13-20; In red painted: R 3/L – B 13313, Laid – SOM; Further a big red stripe, a small white stripe and a wide bleu stripe. Probable on a part of the engine: 13.D.3815 y – D.F.D. 330, 1 x 2 4 G. Hercules, P.P. 222688. Port ou - *see note 1.

There it is our meaning to bring a stone by the propeller, with the names of the crashes pilots; it would be appreciated to hear if you can look after to trace their names. Also we are considering to invite the relations and also the only survivor to the official unveiling of the propeller. These is for the present appoint for the17th of September, the day that Beuningen was liberated. Perhaps it is possible for you, to recover the addresses by an English instance or department, as yet the ones who are concerned in, (be involved in it) keep them in ignorance of the object of information. They could be billeted by the locals and at the same time visit the graves of their Relatives, as far as the bodies are still in the Netherlands.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN I’m pleased to be informed, if – and so yes, on which way in the cost can become to meet and how we can ask for the possible compensation.

The mayor of Beuningen. Netherlands War-grave Committee Amsterdam, 30 June 1950 Your Worship, Mayor of the Municipal Beuningen.

*Note 1. ‘Port ou’ or ‘Port outer engine’ – see Page 261.

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EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN In reply the following letter was sent to the Mayor of Beuningen

Your Worship,

Referring to your letter of 24 June 1950 nr. 1671 about the names of the members of the crew, from the on 23 June 1943 in your municipal crashed British bomber, we can tell you the following. The names of the died members of the crew are as following:

Sgt. J OSBORNE 1539830 Sgt.

E SMITH

P/O T B TOMKINS

RAF

-

Sgt. R B COOPER

1335912 RAF

1312690 RAF

-

Sgt. V SUGDEN

131879

-

Sgt. R A WATERHOUSE 1338722 RAF

RAF

1481508 RAF

All buried on the Briton Military Cemetery in Uden. The addresses of relatives are un-known to us, no more than the name of the only survivor. We have made contact with the related authorities in London and shall announce you if we get more information. Might it be possible to invite the close relations, to be present at the ceremony in your municipal, then our committee will be willing to pay the costs for this in the Netherlands We hope to be able to message you shortly. With most respect

Netherlands War Graves Committee.

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Edith had remarried by this time to a Chris Bradley, the travel documents reflect this.


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TIM BARLOW Doris and Edith and marked with an ‘X’ at the unveiling of the memorial in 1950, with Ted laying flowers in front of them.


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The memorial is created out of bricks and the remains of the crashed Lancaster bomber at 23 June 1943 near Beuningen. The memorial is located near the Van Heemstraweg, at the side of the H. Corneluis church in Beuningen. The text on the memorial reads: This propeller is the sad remains of an English Lancaster-bomber which crashed 23-6-'43 in Beuningen. Six R.A.F.-heroes died by this crash: P/O T.B. Tomkins - Sgt. R.B. Cooper Sgt. J. Osborne - Sgt. V. Sugden Sgt. E. Smith - Sgt. R.A. Waterhouse We honour this heroes and all citizen who gave their lives for our freedom 1940-1945 Beuningen 17-9-1950.

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TIM BARLOW The 1950 ceremony


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An article describing the ceremony and memorial service, a hand written translation follows.


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This plaque, inside St Peters Church, commemorates the lives lost by their Boys Brigade. It was erected shortly after the war.


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Jack posthumously received a number of medals. *Criteria for receiving these awards can be found in the Appendix – p559.

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Article V is translated on the following page.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN Article V. The story about Ted Williams, translated from the newspaper article on the previous page, by Hetty Bruisten.

Photo Ted; Ted Williams visited in 1983, after the crash his Lancaster bomber forty years earlier, for the first time the Netherlands. Ted Williams didn’t understand why he was the only person to survive the crash. In Beuningen, by a propeller of the Lancaster, his six lost comrades will be honoured. War persecuted Williams. Ted Williams was the only flyer who survived the crash of the Lancaster bomber in Beuningen. That preyed on his mind, was a gnawing grief. His Dutch friend Ton Las (sometimes referred to as Tony) tells about the war scarred, flyer. Exactly forty years after the English flyer Ted Williams jumped out of a burning Lancaster bomber, above the village “Hees” by “Nijmegen”, and returned in Beuningen. Williams, who had to unload the bombs, survived as only member of the crew in 1943, but the results of the war he carried with him his whole life, tells Ton Las from Helmond. Las and his wife Diny built up a solid friendship with the English flyer. The war had left him with traumas. Ted couldn’t understand that he had survived and the others were perished. Over that he had a kind of feeling guilty. We didn’t want to talk over the war every time, for then tears came in his eyes, but he often spoke about it. Las met Williams and his wife Pam in 1981 during a vacation on Mallorca. They came to talk. Las (82): We told we came from the Netherlands. Williams said he was in the war landed by parachute in the Netherlands. I told I came from Nijmegen. A world opened. Williams send a photo that was made in Hees after the landing. To the utter amazement of Las, who had moved to Helmond, the photo was taken at about 300 metres of his old house on de ”Molenweg”. Las reconstructed the events on the 23th of June and visited the concerned persons. Las said: Ted was fallen down on the clothes-line in the garden of the family Jansen. He was wounded on his ear. The family Jansen called the neighbour on the opposite. He spoke English and called for help and also Jansen. Doctor van de Made gave first aid; he was also our own family doctor! Quickly the Germans were on the doorstep. Las: It was quick enough known that an English flyer was landed there. The Germans have taken him to the police station in Nijmegen. From there Williams is brought to a prison camp in Germany. Las: There he escaped with the help of an American. Back in England, he thought he had all his life the Germans were pursuing him. Also physically, Williams had suffered much by being in the prison camp. He never drank a drip of alcohol. Las says: When eating he has to pay attention to his stomach. He couldn’t eat any fat and was very thin. He was also quickly unwell. All that was the result of the prison camp. In 1983, Pam and Ted Williams came for the first time to the Netherlands. That visit was all in the sign of the Second World War. We have visited all those people he has met. The doctor recognized him immediately and the meeting with the family Jansen was very emotional. They were very enthusiastic. They showed him the spot in the garden, where he landed, forty years ago.

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TIM BARLOW Williams visited also Beuningen, where the Lancaster was crashed and the cemetery in Uden, where the crew of the bomber is buried. Las: He said after the visit: It was not a vacation for me but a sort of pilgrimage. Since the visit the families Las and Williams kept in contact. He wrote nearly weekly letters of 4 or 5 sides. After the war Williams married to Pam. They got one daughter: Bridget. The couple worked till their retirement together in an office for a building-contractor. Williams lived till his death in 2004 in a village in the neighbourhood of Reading. Las: It is a very big coincidence I’ve met Ted. I am grateful I could do so much for him –article ends.

Ab stands in front of the crash site.

Hetty’s email continued with the following piece of writing: The war began on the 10th of May 1940 and lasted till the 5th of May 1945 in Holland and for all those years we were occupied by the Germans. Here in Holland there was a nickname for the Germans, we called them the Moffen. I searched and have found the following answer: The Britons name the Germans “Jerry”, the Americans and Australians’ name them “Krauts”, the French people “Bocke”. the Britons are mentioned “Tommy”, Americans “Yankees” or Ämi’s” The Dutchman “Käseköpfe”, Italians “Spagettis” and the Russians Ivans”. The conclusion is: in Europe it is wellbalanced. Often one thinks that this kind of terminology goes back to the second world-war, but many nicknames are much older. The nickname ‘Mof’ was already used in the sixteenth age. It comes from the word Muff, still a German word. Probably it is allied to the Middle Dutch word moffelen, cheek to a person, have a big mouth. The original comes probable from the old-Irish word gairm or garm,


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN that means cry, scream, bawl. So a ‘Mof’ is a bawler. (Today the word can evoke an emotion ranging from casual racism, taken, in good humour, to being downright inappropriate). The feelings toward the Germans were very hostile for very long times of years. The people here had so much suffered those five years and also some more time after the war. But life is going on and the new generation is growing up. You can’t ever blame them for what Hitler and his followers did. But we forget never. It’s history now. Ab thinks in that way, we have to go forward. First you have to know his family lived in a farm. His parents had 10 children, 5 girls and 5 boys. His 2 eldest sisters were working in the housekeeping by nun and came home only in the weekend. His oldest brother as young boy transported to Germany. He must go there to work, like all the young boys and men in the Netherlands above 18. They were put to work in the factories in Germany during the war-time. The brothers of Ab came home safely after about two months but a lot of men died there by bombs. His four brothers have all passed-away now and also three of his sisters. That’s the way of life. In 1946 the first memorial and silent march went to the site where the plane crashed. The remembrancemarch was organized by the Municipality and the Mayor of Beuningen. The townspeople, children of the school and sport associations walked together in a line after the music society to pay their respects and lay flowers. Ab bared a wreath and laid it down before a black cross. Ab thinks that the cross was there probably there until the propeller was placed in the park in front of the town hall in 1950. Ab has been involved with the march and the memorial every year since 1946. About 1980 the memorial is replaced in a park in front of the church in Beuningen. That is close to the place our house is situated. Ab found out on Thursday 24/3/11 about 16.00 pm that the bronze plaquette on the memorial, with the names of the pilots was stolen. The thieves here in Holland are stealing complete statues and rain pipes, made from bronze and copper, to sell. Ab went to the police and town hall and there they are doing now everything to make a new plaquette before the 5th of May, our official memory-day. Ab is the chairman of the Liberation Committee, which organizes the memorials and ceremonies. The date of the memorial here is the 4th and 5th of May every year. On the 4th is the memorial service and on the 5th we celebrate the liberation. The National Liberation day is on the 5th of May because on that day 1945 the whole land was free. Our area here around was liberated on the 17 of September 1944, the rest of the land on several dates a bit later. The West part, near by the sea, was still occupied the whole winter 44/45. That period of war is named the hunger-winter, for people had nothing to eat, they have been eating bulbs of the tulips to stay alive. Ab is an architect and got the project to design and build the new memorial in 1984. They needed the park where the propeller was lying to build an extension to the town hall, and Ab thought that the best place to replace the propeller was in the park before the church. From that time there came a Liberation-committee and Ab became chairman.

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Ab pictured in 1944

In 2010 Ab and Hetty celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary with their children and grandchildren.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN Section 7

Visiting Beuningen

In January 2011 it was decided that the school children of Beuningen should take ownership of the memorial. The school governors and townspeople thought it important that the previous generation’s exploits were not forgotten. On the anniversary of Holland’s liberation they would have a ceremony to hand it over. As Ab, Hetty and I got to know each other I asked if I would be allowed to attend and give a copy of what I had prepared to the school children and the Mayor. I thought it important that the memorial had an accurate history attached to it. I was delighted to be welcomed and made a guest for the ceremony. Because of the coincidence of my project running concurrently and the timing of their memorial Ab contacted one of their regional papers. The reporter is father to one of the school children adopting the memorial, and was very interested in what I had done. He also thought it should be written about. The article discusses how I managed to meet Ab through the internet and how we he was able to help me with my investigation. It also tells the story of the night in question and his relationship with the events.

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This is Ab’s family house; with his cousin’s daughter who lives there now. LM325 flew towards at us on the right of the picture and circled the house (and village) in an anti-clockwise direction, crashing after its second full circuit.

On the right of the hedge was the ditch that they lay in on the 23rd June 1943.

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LM325 crashed into this field, in it’s far left hand corner. The farmer that owned that land at the time of the crash, and that hid the propeller, died four weeks before my visit.

Ab and Hetty.


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Ab gave me a memorial medal which was given out at the time of the memorial services.

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Ab and I raise the flag to half mast in front of the church and memorial.


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Hetty told of the plaque being stolen, they did manage to replace it in time for the service, but with a spelling mistake to Jack’s name!


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(At the front of ) The silent march to the memorial ceremony.

Me (centre), talking to Bertil (Ab’s son) with the Mayor (left), during the silent march.

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The Music Society and male choir.


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The next morning the school adopted the memorial and I was given a chance to be involved. Their local paper continued the story.

Ab’s fathers grave.

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BEUNINGEN, 6 Mei 2011 - Woens- dagochtend 5 Mei hebben leerlingen van basisschool de Triangel gehol- pen bij het hijsen van de vlaggen bij het bevrijdingsmonument aan de Van Heemstraweg in Beuningen. Het bevrijdingsmonument in Beuningen is een propellor dat afkomstig is van een vliegtuig dat in de oorlog hier in Beuningen neer- geschoten is. Tim, een nabestaande van een van de piloten van dat vliegtuig heeft uitgezocht hoe het zijn oudoom vergaan is en heeft dat verhaal opgeschreven. Het boek daarover heeft hij aan basisschool de Triangel en aan de burgemeester overhandigd. Montessorischool de Triangel heeft het monument sinds dit jaar geadopteerd en dat geeft hoop voor de toekomst dat er straks mensen in grote getale, en met name ook de jeugd, aanwezig zullen zijn bij deze plechtigheid. Een docent van de school: "Wij vinden het als team belangrijk om aan de kinderen mee te geven wat er 60-70 jaar geleden gebeurd is. En vooral ook dat we alle kinderen nodig hebben om te voorkomen dat dit in de toekomst opnieuw gebeurd. Daarom hebben we dit monument geadopteerd en om in de lessen heel veel aandacht hieraan schenken."

Translation: BEUNINGEN, May 6, 2011 - Wed May 5. “The liberation monument in Beuningen is a propeller that comes from an airplane shot down in the war in Beuningen. Tim, a relative of one of the pilots of that plane has investigated how his greatuncle perished and has written that story. Today he handed the book about the Triangle propeller to the school and the mayor. Montessori has adopted the monument this year that gives hope for the future that there will large numbers of people, and especially the youth, will be present at this ceremony. A teacher from the school: "We find it important as team sports to give the kids the knowledge what happened 60-70 years ago. And especially that all children need to prevent this happening again in the future.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN Therefore, we adopted this monument and the lessons, very much attention will be given to it, the crew and the war�.

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The British flag was attached incorrectly and did not unfurl properly, now somehow I am not surprised.


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I gave their school and their Mayor a copy of the story as it was at time of writing. The head teacher is explaining that one of the crew was my ’oud omm’ (great uncle). I am pleased with this picture because it is the moment when the head teacher tells the student how I am related to Jack and his picture is visible.

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The school children, their parents, their Mayor and me.

The Mayor, the School Directors and Memorial committee members all came back to Ab’s house and we enjoyed a delightful morning together.


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And visited the war grave in Uden that afternoon.

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On the way home we visited two of the bridges that feature in the film, ‘A bridge too far’. They also told me that the scene of the British surrender in front of the country house is where it actually happened and we visited there.


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Grave Bridge.

Nijmegen Bridge.

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The artefacts associated with war are remembered everywhere as permanent memorials and museum pieces.

Still bearing the scars of battle, a German defensive position.


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Part of Hell’s Highway.

Anne and Mien Bruisten with the scraps and splinters from LM325s crash site. Whilst I was there, they decided that I should have these parts of the Lancaster because it obviously had an important significance to me. Two days after this photograph and the gift being made, Anne died. The name given to items made out of war related material, by anyone involved or affected by a war, is called ‘Trench Art’.

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Airport security didn’t even ask what it was.


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Whilst they had troops billeted with them during the war they had the soldiers write poems and messages to them. They kept the scrap book and here are two of them. Anne and Mien had never understood the English rhymes; I explained them, much to the amusement of everyone there.

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Map of Holland from their Liberation museum near the German border. Beuningen and Nijmegen lie very close to the numeral XI. They key is on the following page.


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TIM BARLOW Ab and Hetty told me that Beuningen had a population of around 3000 in 1943. In the years after the war it has grown to approximately 17,000 as it is part of the planned expansion of Nijmegen. The fields around Beuningen grow the strawberries that Wimbledon use (they are excellent) and they used to supply turf to Wembley. After courting Hetty every Wednesday night for a year by travelling to Nijmegen from Beuningen by bicycle, they married and started a family settling in Beuningen. Their house is one hundred metres from the church and memorial and they live on ‘Poppy Way’. During his career Ab became qualified as an architect and set up his own very successful and still family run architect business. He also played for their football team for sixteen years, was the chairman of the Church committee, football club, tennis club and memorial committee, a director of the local school, chairman of the band, father and grandfather, he has also been appointed as “Servant of the House of Orange-Nassau”. Hetty made sure Ab could and did everything he took on.

. Leaving my new friends.


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In 1943 the town only took up one quarter that it does here and only occupied the top right and quarter of the map used. I have marked on their approximate flight and crash path along with where Ab thinks LM325 caught fire. I have also picked out the areas where the bombs were dropped on the first pass of the town and where they subsequently came to land. Note, Ab has told me LM325 made two complete circuits of the town before crashing. *Data on the real cost of war see Appendix – p563.

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EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN Section 8

Meeting Ton and Diny

Before my visit to Beuningen, Hetty had given me the name of ‘Ton Las’ who had been a friend of Ted Williams. She contacted me with some extraordinary news:

Hello Tim, Bertil called me about an hour ago, he had found nothing over Ton Las in Helmond and around there in the phonebook. What now I thought? I’ve looked in the phonebook of Nijmegen and saw two times the name Las. The first number I tried was right! I spoke with a nephew. Ton Las is his uncle. He did know a little over the story in the newspaper and his contact with Ted Williams and gave me his address and phone number. I’ve asked him if I could phone Ton Las to talk and tell something about all. His answer was yes, he is good. He is 80 and helps the elderly in his town and is busy with life. So I tried, but could not get in contact, he was not there, I think. I do it again tomorrow and will tell your story. If I’ve heard more, I mail it. Hetty.

Hetty did get hold of Ton who still lives with his wife Diny, and he was only too happy to speak with me and help my investigation. She gave me his number and I spoke with Ton, immediately agreeing to a meeting whilst I was in Holland. After Leaving Ab and Hetty I set off to meet Ton and Diny. I learned that in 1943 Ton lived in Nijmegen and had two sisters and four brothers. He was a Baker’s son and had a job in the local bank after which he attended night school, until half past eight every evening. He and his family managed to hide his oldest brother for the whole war. Despite being searched “many, many times across four years” Ton said. They hid him in the floor boards when the Germans came searching, the whole family was at risk of punishment. They took the chance and got away with it, many did not. They were not allowed to listen to radios but did so with family members or friends posted as sentry. They also had an eight pm curfew but Ton’s class did not finish until half past eight, so he had special papers that allowed him to be on the streets at that time. He was constantly being searched. His lasting memory of that period was of being shelled by the Germans as he walked to and from work. They could hear the shells coming over and sometimes they were close, sometimes not. He remembers both the V1’s and V2’s (Hitler’s Vengeance Weapons) hitting Nijmegen whilst they were occupied. Diny told me that not all of the occupying soldiers were cruel. The majority were, but some were forced to be in the army and just doing what they had to do to survive. Diny was a Butcher’s daughter, she had four brothers two sisters and worked in the family shop until they were hit by US bombers. Her sister, brother, uncle, aunt and cousin who was pregnant all died in the bombing or from infections caused by bomb splinters. They lost their house, their business and their family.

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TIM BARLOW They moved in with other members of their family who had the space. Still in the suburbs of Nijmegen, they set about surviving the war. The lasting memories that she was prepared to share with me included how they had hidden from the air raids by hiding in the basements. Camp beds and bedpans ready, with a homemade radio to keep in touch with the outside world. Diny remembers at one stage hiding members of S.O.E (Special Operations Executive). She had helped cover the spy with grass, having dug a shallow fox-hole with him. They also on occasion slept in their attic. These were Churchill’s’ spies and were shot without trial along with those that had helped them. Later in the war they had allied soldiers billeted in their house. Diny and her family would sleep in the basement and with a smile told me they used to trade biscuits, chocolate and tea. Ton and Diny married after the war and Ton worked in a textile factory before taking a role at Rank Xerox, which he kept for twenty five years until his retirement at sixty. Now in his eighties, he helps the (more) elderly in his community through an organisation called ‘Sunflower’. Diny worked as a nurse and they never had children. They had already spoken to Pam about me, how this meeting came to be, and they had prepared articles and pictures along with a number of slides. The story of how Ton and Ted came to meet and what Ted remembers of the 23rd June follows:


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EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN Section 9

Meeting Pam Williams

Ton and Diny had already told Pam of my contact and she also expressed her interest in meeting me. The night I returned from Holland I called her. We spoke for a moment before the conversation turned to what the other knew of the night in question. We met and this is what I learnt: Edward. A. Williams, (known as Taffy) was born and raised in Caerphilly. His family were poor and worked hard to provide for each other. Ted had impressed at school and excelled in English Literature and Language, hoping to become an English teacher he read widely and wrote poetry. When he left school at seventeen the reality of life forced him to scour long and hard for work. After weeks of trying to find work he announced to his mother, “I’m not coming back until I have a job”. He strode away and knocked on hundreds of doors offering his services, willing to accept any form of employment. After a couple of days and nights away he came home and with it his first job; carrying wood and sweeping yards. It was not the career he hoped for and he enlisted to the RAF. I came to learn tales of Ted’s passage to Canada for training. When there was a queue at any point on the ship, it was customary to join it. Sometimes the queue would have been for the loo, sometimes for food. Either way, you knew that you had to be a part of the queue! At one point on the journey to their training base in Canada, Ted was put in charge of the group and made responsible for their safe arrival. The documents and orders he carried are included with pictures of his journey, which almost didn’t happen because of a burlesque show that kept them entertained for a little longer than it should. One amusing tale Pam shared with me was on Ted’s first flight in a Tiger Moth. The instructor said “Jam your feet under that bar and we’re off”, pointing to a thin metal rod at his feet. The problem was that he couldn’t get his feet under the bar. Ted was not small man and struggled to stay in the plane as his instructor began a series of rolls. He managed to jam one, then both sets of toes under the bar as his bottom left the seat. He looked towards Earth and saw the airfield below them, he was falling out. Reaching desperately he grabbed the metal stanchions between the wings, he cut his hands but, he was safe. Ted was going to be a spitfire pilot until an order was sent around that required bomber crews be trained urgently. The men were instructed to organise themselves into crews and report for training. By the time Ted became operational, he was married although they were not destined to stay together. Similarly, Pam, although slightly younger, was also married which had given her a daughter, Bridget, but it was a very unhappy marriage. Times were very hard for her young family; she left her husband and set about surviving in London. Ted had never been able to drink alcohol, something that was tested early into his RAF training when his drink was spiked. He spent two weeks in hospital recovering from a violent bout of a mystery and intermittent illness that lasted his lifetime. After the war Ted told that his crew always looked out for him when they went out together. He returned the favour by ensuring he got them home safely being the only sober man in the crew. Ted had said that one of the crew was not supposed to be there that night. He was covering for a regular because of an illness of some sort. From the flying records I think that Tomkins was the one 243


TIM BARLOW drafted in and I am now compelled to ask; who was their regular navigator and what became of him? He survived a very close shave with disaster that night, but did his luck last? Ted didn’t talk about his experiences or troubles much, but he did wonder why he was the only person that escaped the plane. Knowing that if a Lancaster got into a sharp spin the centrifugal force would pin you to the wall, making movement impossible. He lived thinking that perhaps they could not escape and for a long time lived without knowing their fate. Ab describes the plane circling, rather than being in a spin and the question remains, why didn’t more of the crew escape? Ted had told Pam, that he remembered being given the order to “GO, GO, GO”, by Waterhouse and that he jumped off his step and out through the previously opened escape hatch. As Ted jumped clear of the plane the chords of his parachute tangled around his neck. As the canopy tried to fill with air they had nearly ripped his ears off. Unconscious but alive he drifted towards Nijmegen. Having come round and gathered his bearings he returned to earth leaving deep, flying boot imprints in a freshly dug flowerbed. The owners of the garden, Tiny and Wim Jansen, watched in amazement. His arrival had been noted by a number of the local townspeople and the doctor (Mr van der Made) was called to tend to the quite serious ear wounds. The doctor could only insert gold hoops in the loose pieces of skin, holding the wound together which would then drop out over time as it healed. As a result he would need no further medical attention, which Ted would never have received. Only one man could speak English in the house, a young man of about sixteen who had seen Ted land and decided he could not miss out on the chance to help. The conversations were short, frantic and ominous. Ted decided to give his cigarette case to the stand-in translator, because “he was never going to let the Germans have it”; the young man graciously accepted the gift and vanished in to the night. Teds’ captors drew closer; his freedom was coming to an end. His arrest came courtesy of a fresh faced and eager young German with a very sharp bayonet. He was taken away and locked in a cell and with it several days of interrogation and torture followed. His captors taunted him with identification discs of his crew although he never saw those belonging to Tomkins, he always believed his crew were alive and in other camps and for the rest of the war he was left to wonder what their fate had been. He was transported to Stalagluft 6 and given the number 364. His SS guards continued to torture him (and everyone else) physically and mentally and his health suffered. His SS guards had made him drink something, and he blamed that drink for the loss of his sense of taste, that lasted his lifetime. Whilst in captivity he put his writing skills to use and became a master forger of passports for escape attempts. And just like the movies he helped disperse the mud from tunnels through drawstring bags inside his trousers. I explained that Ted was married to a woman briefly during the war. Whilst he was in the camps, all of his letters were censored; all that was left were the start, ‘Dear Ted’ and the close, ‘Love Mum’, all of the lines of the letter were blocked out with a thick black line. For two years they cruelly played with his mind. Until one day when he received a completely legible letter. He read it with great interest until it became clear the letter was a ‘Dear John’ letter. Many other men shared these experiences and suffered break downs. Ted used to say that the men with ‘soft minds’ would survive; because they could bend the reality of their position and project themselves to a faraway place. Some used to tie string to a stick and ‘fish’ in the dirt outside their barracks, some truly went mad, Ted was in the camp for two years.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN Eventually rumour that the allies were close swept the camp and the men were herded up and forced to march away from their prison. These marches lasted weeks and the men made their way across Germany. Almost immediately Ted had seen their guards put men up against a wall and shoot them. He was convinced that he would receive the same treatment and waited patiently for a chance to escape. Days went by and eventually he took it, jumping behind a pig shed at the side of the road. The column marched on and he lay so very still, barely daring to breathe until all sounds of his fellow prisoners had gone. These forced marches and executions were common place across the Reich’s territory and Ted escaped for the second time. When he thought the prison guards were far enough away he crept in the direction they had come from with a friend of his who had done the same. With ‘Slim’, an Australian, they made their way towards what they hoped was their freedom. After a couple of days on the run Slim finally accepted he was not well enough to carry on and that he slowed them down too much. He forced Ted to leave him and make a clean escape bid so that at least one of them would make it. Ted left his friend to an unknown fate, surviving off the land he made his way to what he thought would be his freedom. Two days later he came face to face with an enormous column of tanks. Panic gripped him tightly. It became clear it was a column of British Shermans. He had made it. Although their commanding officer led a tense standoff as they tried to ascertain the identity of a ‘grubby, 6 foot 4 inch Welshman’. The commanding officer sent forward a member of one of his tank’s crew who was Welsh, with instructions and tests. Ted passed the tests and began his freedom with cheers from the column as they rumbled passed, one tank crew gave him a Christmas pudding, (in April!), and Ted was dreaming of flying home. Some weeks later he was to meet up again with Slim at a medical centre and they would keep in touch for many years after the war. He was processed and set for his return home, which had been a wild fantasy for so long but was now drawing very slowly closer, he took his place in a Dakota cargo plane of liberated men. The pilot began his taxi along the runway home, then steered them into a bomb crater so large that only the wingtips were keeping them from crashing to the floor of the crater. Curses and laughter abounded the almost free men. They clambered out of the plane thanking the pilot for his efforts and left with him requests for a more successful take off next time. Once they got back to England they began their long rehabilitation. Pam recalled that those men recovering from near starvation were only allowed one meal a day and redeemed it with a token. Some men saved their tokens and gorged themselves with more than their recommended meal sizes, they died. In 1972 Pam was a single mother and finding life hard in London. One day she was walking home from work near Marble Arch and bought a bag of chestnuts. An old gypsy lady next to the merchant looked up and mused, “why so sad young lady?” Pam briefly let out that luck had not been shining on her, to be told “Do not worry my dear, you’ll meet a tall handsome man soon, he was saved just for you”. Three months later Pam met Ted, a 6 foot 4 inch Welshman and the only survivor of LM325. They courted and went on to marry on the 23rd June 1974, his lucky day. Pam wasn’t sure about the choice of date, but Ted knew that it had to be for it was his lucky day, having been given another chance to live. Ted struggled emotionally and physically after the war and he never left the country until one day he pushed Pam into a travel agency and they booked a holiday to Majorca. It was on this trip he would meet Ton and Diny and whether it was an ingrained fear of ‘that night’ or a claim that he didn’t trust anyone else’s flying; Ted had refused to leave the country for over forty years. Serendipitously 245


TIM BARLOW meeting Ton gave Ted someone in whom he could confide. In the years after their meeting, and therapeutically, Ted and Ton wrote letters to each other. Ted went on to visit his crew’s graves and developed links with 101 Squadron Association and his wartime contemporaries. Forgetting the past was never his intention, living with it what he had gone through was his modest wish; sadly, nightmares troubled him all his life. We have learned from the accounts provided by Ton and Diny that the reason for Ted and Bridget stopping their bike ride was because Ted was tired. Pam assured me that Bridget harassed him for days to take her out for a bike ride. They hired bikes with the most uncomfortable and impractical broken pedals. After several hills, and with sore feet, Bridget ran into a pot hole and gauged her leg with the said pedal. Ted sat her up on a wall and started to dress the bloody leg while an unknown Ton and Diny were passing, who offered their assistance. Ted, thinking they were German, declined and set about the leg. Ton and Ted eventually came to understand each other and that they were Dutch and from Nijmegen, the rest is history. It does make you think that somehow Ted was meant to meet Ton and Diny on that holiday. During one of his trips to Holland he met the Doctor that tended him, the boy whose garden he landed in and councillors, ex-resistance fighters and townspeople. It was decided that Ted should be awarded the Erasmus Medal (a Peace Medal) by the Dutch government. I watched a recording of the ceremony where he made a very eloquent and appropriate speech and very graciously accepted the medal on behalf of his crew. It was at this point when Pam visited his crews’ graves that everything became real for her. Up until then it had all been words; Pam describes the feeling and the realisation surrounding the events of the night in question, and the impact they had had on Ted as “bloodcurdling”. At one stage of their trip Ted and Pam were taken to a farmhouse where they were led up some “impossibly steep” stairs with who they later came to understand were former members of the Dutch Resistance. When they reached the attic a large table big enough for twenty five seated places greeted them. On the table were a mass of ledgers and journals, books and logs with one open to a particular date, the 23rd of June 1943. Around the table were about forty members of the resistance. It was made clear that they had always known six bodies were accounted for from the wreckage but no-one knew anything about the seventh. To their delight they had now found out that the man was alive, had survived and had escaped from captivity. Pam says the men treated Ted as if they had won him in a raffle and cheered and hugged him joyously. The news of Ted’s visit and reunion with his crew quickly hit the local newspapers. On cue came forward a Dutchman that remembered the night in question. A message came back to Ted via the newspapers and Ton, a man was claiming to have the cigarette case given to that night him and he wanted to give it back. The men got in touch with each other, had a very emotional conversation and Ted got his cigarette case back. Ted gradually lost touch with Slim in the 1960s. A number of changes of addresses he claimed were the reason for the loss, but Pam had an idea. Unbeknown to Ted, she wrote a letter describing the circumstances and mission to find, ‘Slim’, and sent it to the largest newspaper in New Zealand, Slim’s last known location. Within a week Slim had seen the article and been reunited with his coescapee. The men did not lose touch again. During the 1990’s Ted was contacted by the British government and offered the chance to face his German captors, as civilians in peace time. Ted declined the offer because the wounds were still too fresh in his mind. Having being on the receiving end of some nasty treatment he thought he might


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN not be able to control himself ‘and go for’ his SS guards. He would never give any details as to what he endured but it affected him greatly. Pam did tell me that Ted made a particular effort to be upbeat and enjoy life wherever he could. “He did it for one reason, well six really, he tried to live for all six of his lost comrades”. After the war Ted was diagnosed as having an overactive thyroid and prescribed a mild dose of radioactive iodine. Over time the condition eased up and he was advised to stop taking his medication until one day after several weeks of being under the weather. His doctor decided to give him a single dose of the iodine, four times stronger than he usually took, to “knock it on the head for good”. It gave him septicaemia and he died. Ted was buried in his uniform.

A young Ted Williams.

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Ted and his younger brother and grandfather in Wales.


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Ted’s parents.

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Ted, left, with his father and brother.

Making his way across Canada.


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Square-Bashing.

Ted’s first flight.

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Target Practice.


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His class before graduation.

Ted, back right.

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Amongst Ted’s pictures and letters were these postcards.

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Again with his class, front row, right of centre.

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Ted having passed his Observer exams.


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This doll flew with Ted, got burnt with Ted, parachuted to ground and suvived nearly two years as a prisoner of war before finally coming home.

LM325: The first time I saw the crew with their plane was when I met Pam and she very kindly gave me her second copy. From left to right: Jack Osborne, Reynolds F. G or Ronald Cooper, V Sugden, Ted Smith and, Ted Williams. Roy Waterhouse, Ronald Cooper or Reynolds F.G could have taken the picture. *Note 1: Page 173: The Port outer engine and propellor that was found; is the engine and propeller missing here.

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The telegram everyone feared.


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This is the cigerette case that found its’ way home, still with Ted’s intials still visible.

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Ted’s prisoner ID tag.

This picture was taken on his return to England after his liberation.

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Ted and Pam.

Some of 101 Sqaudron’s survivors. The man second from left was a tail gunner. His Lancaster crashed in a town and his rear gunners position ended level with a pub’s front door. They made their way in the pub and gathered themselves together and went on to fly out the rest of the war without incident.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN On a hand written page of the Operational Record Book, that Pam had, displayed the name of the plane as is shown as it is below, along with their names and “missing on operations”. The crews would oftern name their planes loosely around the ID’s the plane. Roy Waterhouse and crew were assigned to SR-U and their plane was christened ‘U-Bar’, having it painted on the nose. However the history books show that SR-J went down on the 23rd of June 1943.

U The aircraft they were assisgned to was lost on operations on their first day in the squadron, crashing in Vught in Holland although the Squadron Logs detail the crews original ID. The ‘bar’ was added by the squadron to double the number of cal signs available. Crews and controllers could therefore communicate with “U” and “U-bar” allowing them to double the number of aircraft a squadron could send at a time with their alphabet based call signs.

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I took the Trench Art to show Pam and we reunited the crew’s memories. The Erasmus Medal that Ted received is sat at the front of the Trench Art


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Left to right: Ton Las, Pam, Ted, Diny Las during their first visit to Nijmegen after their chance meet.

Left to right: Bridget, Pam, Wim Janssen, Tiny Janssen, Ted. This is the garden in Nijmegen Ted landed in. Runner beans now replaced by flowers. The property is owned and lived in by Wim who has lived here all his life, and who helped Ted on the 23 June 1943.

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The last time Ted left this house he was on the end of a ‘winkle picker being waved about by a frightened young German soldier’.

Left to right: Pam, Ted, Mr and Mrs van der Made, Bridget. Mr van der Made was the doctor who tended Ted’s wounds and who had been Ton Las’ family doctor.


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Left to right; Diny, Mr Gerhards, Ted, Bridget, Mrs Gerhards, Pam. Mr Gerhards was then the Burgomaster (Mayor) of Beuningen.

On a lighter note in Nijmegen park.

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Pam and Ted on their wedding anniversary in Nijmegen before they travelled to Beuningen on the anniversary of that fateful night.

Pam, Bridget and Ted with the propeller in Beuningen. Pam gave me two DVDs which detail their trip. The DVD’s were transferred from VHS recorded in 1984. The following images have been captured from that video footage.


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The crew are buried in a line across two rows. Ted and Pam, remember them.

Ted receiving his Erasmus Medal from the Mayor.

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TIM BARLOW In later life Ted wrote the following prĂŠcis of his exploits for his work newsletter. Pam very kindly forwarded this onto me after our first meeting.


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EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN Section 10

Meeting Harry Randle Chisnall, ‘Nipper’

Harry was born on the 6th March 1922 in their family home and shop opposite St Peters Primary School in Hindley. His family ran a furniture business specialising in prams and three piece suites. They were religious and Harry’s father was the stand in organist at St Peters’ church. He had an older brother who died from meningitis, he went on to have a brother and sister, ten and nine years younger. Being a year younger than Jack they went to the same primary school and church until they were thirteen. Life was hard for Harry’s family as it was for everyone in the North West and he fondly remembers having a pair of roller skates and playing knock and run. Harry was given a bike for passing his school tests at eleven and the boys had been inseparable. They had a third partner in crime, Greg O’Nions. Greg’s father had been a manager of a colliery on Atherton Road, Hindley and the three boys were never far away from each other until they left primary school. I learnt that on one occasion Harry’s father caught them smoking woodbines at the back of the war memorial, across from St Peters Church (that they had purchased at the price of two for one penny). His father said, “If you’re smoking you might as well smoke in the house”, he was twelve. Harry obtained a scholarship to the Grammar School and was also a keen member of the Boys Brigade, playing for their football team with Jack. They walked in the hills around Rivington Pike and spent each weekend together enjoying football, tennis and taking girls for tea. At one time the three of them spent time with a group of girls called the “three Joans”; Joan Atkinson, Joan Glenister and Joan Lord who were all from Hindley. The conversations were always fun, because the girls always thought that they were being spoken to. As is only right the boys bought the teas but on one day the girls brought their money boxes and emptied them out on the table to pay, much to the amusement of everyone. As was the tram journey to Wigan, because when it travelled round corners the wheels would come off the tracks, landing with a bump. After Harry had finished Grammar School he studied at Wigan Technical College with Jack and they were once again inseparable. Aged sixteen his father bought another furniture shop, this time in Leyland and the family moved. The mines and mills were closing around Hindley and it was always assumed that he would go into the family business. He duly did and spent two years working between Hindley and Leyland making, selling and delivering furniture. In his spare time he made bullets in Bradley Mills in Standish, Lancashire, which made him exempt from conscription. He told me that Jack worked as a ‘Printer’s Devil’ and carried on chuckling. His shop was opposite Walter Hurst the cobblers and Rudd’s the printers were Jack worked and; apparently it was also next door to a fantastic pie shop. Greg joined the 49th West Riding Field (Artillery) Regiment and Harry volunteered into the RAF in October 1941. He received his papers within a few weeks and was off to Blackpool for ‘squarebashing’. During his test flight he became violently airsick, earning an assignment with Special Duties in the Operations Room for 9 Group in Preston. Harry was involved in the coordination of fighter defence. Receiving radar information, interpreting it and issuing flight detachments to the correct airfield, who had to get their Spitfires and Hurricanes and later Beaufighters and Mosquitos attacking the enemy with the sun behind them as quickly as possible. They protected the area from Birmingham to Scotland and across to Yorkshire and they orchestrated the advantage that Radio Direction Finding gave them. They were instrumental in our war effort. 9 Group were sent orders that they would land with the 1st Army in North Africa. He and his two friends Les Leach and Tommy Wilson were posted together and sent on a draft towards their 277


TIM BARLOW destination. At the time they were to leave Tommy was not well and they had their travel documents changed. The boat they missed was attacked en route and sank before it reached its destination with heavy losses and men and equipment; the three friends had a very narrow escape. For the next two years Harry would be in the thick of it. He and his comrades landed on the beaches at Algiers and advanced along the North African coast on to Bone. At one point they were strafed by a roaming fighter and they all dived for cover in the ditch, “keeping your bloody head down too”. There had been a great coat left hanging on a wagon, when they checked it was full of holes. They arrived at the Italian Air force’s buildings, settled in and got about their work. He proudly showed me a letter detailing why his flight was awarded commendations. Their decisions and team work brought about the shooting down of three hundred and twenty German aircraft in eight months. During that time they came under attack from shelling by night, but they couldn’t work out from where. Had they been hit or worse killed, the implications would have been very serious for a great many people, losing their aerial advantage. Finally they learnt the Germans had dug a tunnel from their positions on the Adriatic coast and up within range of the RAF position. The gun was raised and lowered as required and very skilfully camouflaged, a trick learned from the British Army in the First World War who did the same with flame throwers in the trenches. The RAF pilots eventually found and destroyed it. He also remembers a group of Germans being found in British uniforms in the British lines; they were court martialled and shot. On another occasion one of their Spitfires had been shot down in the desert. Harry and two others were ordered to find it and guard it until being relieved. When they got to the plane it had already been stripped of dials and fabric, guns and glass, it was a hulk. Unfortunately they didn’t have enough provisions for their enforced away break and their officers were to forget they were there. After a day or so Harry took matters into his own hands. Sten gun in hand he stalked an Egret, hunger, excitement and heat taking their toll. He took aim and fired the trusty weapon. “The head exploded and its innards went everywhere”, they had dinner. Harry spent five years in the RAF and loved every minute. After the War he returned home to his parents business, married Peggy and lived above one of their shops working all hours they could. By this time his younger brother was working for them and together they serviced their two shops. He lasted two years in the family business before deciding to work for Kendal Mill and later Stag. He was a representative for furniture factories all his life and retired at the age of sixty. They have one son Michael, who was born in their shop, and two grand children. He spoke with great fondness of Jack, showing obvious signs of regret that they lost touch when they joined up. He apologised so much for not being able to remember more about that section of his life but he is now eighty eight. He has had cataracts in both eyes, he developed an ulcer from his love of pies, chips and cigarettes (or so his doctor said), he had septicaemia, serious vertigo, gall stones a prostate operation and bladder cancer. Six months ago at the time of writing this he had a very small stroke which left him without some of the use of his right hand. Peggy has stood by her man and helped him with everything that he needs. Over dinner she said to Harry, “It’s been quite a life”, winking and smiling at her lifelong partner in crime. Harry knew nothing of the circumstances around Jack’s death until I contacted him one week ago. After the war a message came back through the families that had blamed him for Jack’s death because Edith thought he had put the idea in Jacks head to join up. I knew he was remembering details of the time, but he was tight lipped and respectful. I showed him that Jack enlisted three months before he had, so in no way could he have been to blame. We both smiled as Harry realised he had nothing to do with his best friend’s death. He had carried the guilt and sadness for nearly seventy years. I was delighted to have been able to right the wrong done to him.


EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN Harry’s son lives in South Africa and along the way has introduced his father to a certain type of South African red wine and it is very nice. We drank several bottles of it that evening; we chatted and giggled about their lives and experiences for many hours. Harry finished by saying that Jack had been “a truly great friend”.

Harry in 1941.

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His watch whilst based in Preston.

His favourite planes, Spitfire Mk IX & Mosquito below.

*


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A series of pictures taken from his Operations Room in Bone, North Africa.

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EIGHT MINUTES TO BEUNINGEN North Africa had its good and bad points including overly hot nissan huts and sunbathing, WAAFs and poker. Their shifts were long, hard and lasted for three years with no leave. When they were on duty they were responsible for the RAF’s air superiority.

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Harry didn’t remember what he was doing, but he was fairly sure that they shouldn’t have been doing it.

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Harry enjoyed the social side of wherever he was based.


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TIM BARLOW

Eight minutes to beuningen jan 2015 deel 1  
Eight minutes to beuningen jan 2015 deel 1  
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