V Group News, November 1944


V Group News, November 1944
5 Group News, November 1944


Five Group Newsletter, number 28, November 1944. Includes a foreword by the Air Officer Commanding, and articles on the end of the Tirpitz, gardening, operations, signals, navigation, this month's bouquetes, radar navigation, tactics, air bombing, incendiary attacks, war effort, training, gunnery, leave it to Smith, second thoughts for pilots, accidents, armament, the proof of the pudding, aircrew safety, flying control, equipment, education, engineering, photography, decorations, war savings, and volte face.

In accordance with the conditions stipulated by the donor, this item is available only at the University of Lincoln.



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MStephensonS1833673-160205-20 nov 44



NOVEMBER 1944 No 28

[Drawing] [9 and 617 Squadron Crests] TIRPITZ

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Foreword by A.O.C.

In sending Christmas greetings to all ranks of 5 Group, I do so with the greater pleasure because through their combined efforts over the past months, the hitting power of the Group has been raised to a new high level, and greater harm inflicted on the enemy than ever before. In November the Group completed the destruction of the Tirpitz, an event which brought in messages of congratulations from all branches of the Service and from many of our Allies. In November also, the Group again cut the Dortmund Ems and Mitteland canals thus ensuring that an overwhelming burden of traffic should continue to be thrown on the German railways. While to ensure that this task should be made even more difficult the Group also took part in the general campaign against railway centres, achieving highly satisfactory results.

These results were made possible by the steady improvement in the efficiency with which attacks are undertaken, and in the greater numbers of aircraft available. To give two examples of this improved efficiency. In November last year, the average Squadron error in practice bombing from 20,000 feet was 310 yards; this November it is 160 yards. This means that the number of bombs which may be expected to fall within the central area of a target is now four times as great as it was a year ago, and this is borne out by photographs. Similar improvements in airmanship and crew discipline are shown by the reduction in landing times and in the lower accident rate. A year ago the average interval between aircraft landing at night was 3.18 minutes, and the best Station in November, 1943, only achieved 2.56 minutes. These times have now been halved, with a consequent reduction in the hazards of landing after an operation in conditions of poor visibility or low cloud, or when intruders are active.

Improvements on a like scale have been achieved in all other branches and sections and the serviceability rate is now higher than ever before, while the percentage of technical failures leading to early returns has been halved. These are most gratifying results deserving the highest praise; yet in no branch of Group activity have we yet reached the summit of our abilities or fulfilled our maximum expectations.

It is clear that the War will not now be over by Christmas although we can be fairly confident that this will be the last Christmas of the War in Europe. What is required therefore is a firm resolve to do everything in our power to reduce the number of days during which the War will continue to drag on. As a start I would ask air crews to aim at a reduction of the bombing error from 160 yards to 120 yards, and ground crews to determine that no aircraft shall remain on the ground if it can possibly be got ready in time to take off on operations. Although the ultimate release of the bombs is the province of the aircrew, the scale of their effort depends


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[Underlined] FOREWORD BY A.O.C. [/underlined]

upon the exertions of everybody on each Station, and it is to everyone, aircrew and ground crew, that I send this Christmas message urging them to put forward their every endeavour so that in spite of all that winter weather means, we continue to increase our pressure on the enemy, and thus hasten on his collapse.


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[Drawing] THE END OF THE TIRPITZ [Drawing]

That moment when the Admiral Von Tirpitz was suddenly enveloped in smoke and flame and spray, from a cascade of Tallboy bombs was not merely the T.O.T. of an operations; it was the culmination of two months planning, training, toil and patience. After the abortive attacks on 15th September, and the 13th October, there was universal determination to try again. Statistical analysis of bombing results showed thatthree [sic] hits, and several near misses, could be anticipated, if the Bomb Aimers could get their graticules on the ship; the designers and users of the Tallboy were confident that the weapon would sink any battleship.

Time and the weather were the chief adversaries. Tromso is in the Gulf Stream, and the prevailing Westerly wind causes persistent Stratus cloud. The sky is only clear when the wind is Easterly, and about five such days could be expected in November. The end of November was the expiration of the time limit for a daylight attack this year. On the 26th of November, the sun does not rise above the horizon, and for a few days after, there would be enough twilight at mid-day to bomb. After that there would be no light until the Spring. It was obvious that there was a nice problem of long range weather forecasting, and that the slightest opportunity could not be wasted.

On the 5th of November, there was a false start, because the fickle weather set fair, and then deteriorated, but on the 11th the force once more flew to its advance bases. As this was the third week-end in succession that this avalanche had descended upon them, the inhabitants if the advanced bases had mixed feelings, which they courteously concealed. The force consisted of 36 Tallboy Lancasters, the Film Unit Lancaster, a meteorological reconnaissance Mosquito, and Transport aircraft. The Lancasters had been specially modified for the previous attempt. After the experience of the Russian operation, it was clear that the all up weight could safely be increased to 70,000 lbs. Merlin 24 power units, and extra tanks in the fuselage to bring the petrol capacity up to 2,400 gallons, had been installed. Mid-turrets, and every removeable item of equipment not needed for this operation, had been taken out. The all-up weight for take-off was then between 68,000 and 69,000 lbs. This was a most formidable striking force - - - 36 aeroplanes which could attack a target 1100 miles away, with 12,000 lb bombs.

The force took off to attack the Tirpitz for the third time at 03.00 hours on 12th November. The preliminary forecast had been poor, threatening convection cloud over the Norwegian coast, with a low freezing level, and high icing index, while there was no guarantee of the target being clear of Strato-cumulus, the meteorologists’ hoodoo. The met. reconnaissance Mosquito landed at Lossiemouth two hours before take-off, and improved this forecast, but not much. There was no convection cloud, but there were patches of Stratus. Remembering how they were cheated by the weather on the previous occasion, crews were determined, but not optimistic.

The flight plan was to fly low, less than 2,000 feet above the water, to a turning point at 65.00N 06.47E, then turn due East and climb to cross the Norwegian mountains, then lose height and turn North, flying


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[Underlined] THE END OF THE TIRPITZ [/underlined]

East of the mountains. It was expected that this would prevent detection by the German radar system along the Norwegian coast.

The weather was fine and clear for take-off, in pleasant contrast to the previous occasion, when it had poured with rain. This was to prove an omen. The force was distributed over three airfields to avoid congestion, and aircraft set course without delay for the rendezvous point at North Unst. All aircraft burned navigation lights to assist keeping together, and flew at 185 R.A.S., the most economical cruising speed for the first part of the flight. The engine settings were 1800 R.P.M. and about 4 1/2 lbs boost, giving a consumption of almost exactly 1 A.M.P.G. The route was studded with flame floats, which crews were using diligently for checking drift.

It was twilight at the Norwegian coast and map reading, after a long period of D.R. navigation, soon put all aircraft back on track. By the time the mountains were crossed, it was broad daylight, and large areas of Strato-cumulus were depressingly evident, while every lake was covered with Stratus. Map reading in the mountains, particularly when they are snow-covered, and the lakes are frozen, is tricky. The rendezvous, Akka Lake, was only recognisable because the sheet of cloud which covered it conformed exactly to its shape. The first view of Tromso therefore, with no cloud and no smoke, and of the Tirpitz in her anchorage, massive, black and unmistakeable, was better than any crew had dared to hope for, and the job was then as good as done.

Flak was plentiful but inaccurate, and there were no fighters. The only impediment to the bombing was the smoke which hung, black and brown over the ship from the first bomb strikes, and the guns. It was impossible to be certain of results through that smoke, but fairly late in the attack, a plume of white smoke shot up two or three hundred feet like a jet. The last aircraft to leave watched the ship heel slowly on to one side. The Film Unit aircraft was able to take photographs of the ship throughout the entire action, and the last photographs showed that the attack had been a complete success, and that the Tirpitz had capsized. This was confirmed by a reconnaissance aircraft, less than two hours after the attack, who reported the bottom of the ship just above the water.

Why the Tirpitz was not adequately protected by fighters, the only protections against high level bombing, can at present be only a matter for conjecture here, and may be being more thoroughly investigated by the German High Command. The ship must have been aware of the approach of the force, at least half an hour before the attack, once the climb to bombing height was commenced from the rendezvous. It may be that the German Navy did not rate the bombing accuracy of the Royal Air Force as high as it does now, or that fighters were despatched to intercept, but too late. After the attack, which was delivered by 29 aircraft, 18 of 617 Squadron and 11 of 9 Squadron, all aircraft dived towards the sea, and until well out of range of Norwegian fighter bases, flew low. No fighters were seen at all on this operation, or for that matter on the two previous ones. All aircraft landed without incident with the exception of one, of which the crew is known to be safe.

Thus was brought to an end the inglorious career of one of the largest and most heavily armed and armoured ships afloat.

The following gives a brief outline of the career of the Tirpitz:-

(i) April 1st, 1939. Launched at Wilhelmshaven.


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[Underlined] THE END OF THE TIRPITZ [/underlined]

(ii) March, 1942. Attacked off the Loften Islands by Naval aircraft of H.M.S. Victorious. (Unserviceable for four months)

(iii) July, 1942. Attacked by a Russian submarine. (Undergoing repairs at Trondheim until December).

(iv) After a complete refit, the earlier months of 1943 were spent in trials, cruises, and the training of the crew for naval operations.

(v) September 9th, 1943. Tirpitz raided the Island of Spitzbergen in the face of negligible opposition.

(vi) September 22nd, 1943. Midget submarines of H.M. Navy attacked and badly damaged the Tirpitz in Alten Fiord. (Next six months spent in Alten Fiord undergoing repairs).

(vii) April, 1944. Tirpitz once again ready to go to sea, when she was attacked by Naval aircraft and once again sent into retirement.

(viii) July 17th, August 22nd, 24th and 29th, 1944. With signs of completion of repairs, Tirpitz was once again attacked by Naval aircraft, this time by Barracudas, and was again rendered unseaworthy.

(ix) September 15th, 1944. Attacked by 5 Group Lancasters flying from Russian bases. Damaged by at least one hit.

(x) October 29th, 1944. Attacked by 5 Group Lancasters. On this occasion cloud over the target rendered the attack inconclusive.

(xi) November 12th, 1944. Attacked in clear weather by Lancasters of No. 5 Group carrying Tallboy bombs, and capsized at her berth West of Tromso.

The coup-de-grace was delivered without the loss of a single life of the attacking force. The success of this attack cannot be measured in terms of the thousands of gallons of fuel used, hundreds of hours flown, or the number of 12,000 lb bombs dropped. The mere existence of the Tirpitz in her Northern berth has threatened all our convoys to and from Russia and North Atlantic shipping, and has cost the lives of a number of Fleet Air Arm crews who have attacked her, and has tied down a not inconsiderable force of the British Home Fleet in Northern Bases.

As the Commander-in-Chief himself has said, there was no doubt about the ultimate fate of the Tirpitz once the crews were able to draw a bead on her, and those who took part have received many congratulations on their magnificent achievement.


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[Drawing] gardening

German Ports and their approaches have been the main target for our Gardeners this month; the remainder of the Command effort continued to be directed against the Kattegat area.

Penetrations to the enemy’s door step were evenly shared by all squadrons, and P.P.I. photographs reveal neat patterns of well planted vegetables in their allotted positions. 126 vegetables were successfully laid, and it is already known that great disturbances were caused off a certain German harbour; shipping came to a stand still for several days, while the local harbour master was at pains to find a safe channel “out” or “in” for his concentrated shipping traffic jam.

No.627 Squadron have now joined the Group Gardening Force, and were most unfortunate in their first sortie, owing to unexpected weather conditions in the target area. But like true Gardeners they returned to base with their valuable load. Well done, and better luck next time.

[Tables Showing Command and Group Summaries of Vegetables Planted]


Some German captains of coal ships are reported to have opposed successfully attempts to make them sail to Western Norwegian ports from Oslo. Colliers sent from Germany cannot be unloaded – as the coal dumps in the Oslo area are full, and therefore lose valuable time while waiting for discharge. This shows weakness in administration if ships are in fact allowed to leave Germany for places where coal is either not wanted or cannot be discharged.

It is reported that in various ports, Norwegian crews have refused to sail, and in some cases foreign crews have left their ships.

The enemy has been short of crews for his merchant ships for some time. There is little chance of his being able to find substitutes for crews which refuse to sail. If these reports are true, then dislocation to shipping must be considerable.


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[Drawing] operations

[Underlined] HOMBERG – 1ST NOVEMBER. [/underlined]

Master Bomber:- S/Ldr. Smith

Operations opened with a daylight attack by 226 aircraft on the synthetic oil plant at Homberg, a few miles to the North West of Duisburg.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined] By the time the main force reached the target area, the target itself was covered by a layer of 10/10ths cloud, 8,000 – 10,000 feet. Gee reception was poor, and the wind-finding was consequently not up to the usual standard. The first wave arrived over the target about two minutes before the Wanganui flares went down, and were unable to attack. This illustrates the importance and the difficulty of accurate timing when marking is by Oboe. They brought their bombs back. 158 main force aircraft bombed the sky markers, which were reported as scattered. 54 were abortive, and twelve bombed alternative or last resort targets.

[Underlined] REMARKS [/underlined] (i) The chances of success of this operation were still further prejudiced by an aircraft which had its V.H.F. transmitter switched on during the entire period of control. The Master Bomber’s orders were jammed, and very few crews were able to hear his instructions. The pilot of the aircraft concerned, was gripping the press-to-speak switch continuously in the target area. Arrangements are now in hand to substitute the bombing switch on the control wheel for the existing press-to-speak switch. The bombing switch cannot possibly be operated accidentally.

Incidentally on each occasion on which intercom. has been inadvertently radiated during an operation, much unnecessary chatter has been heard, and the crews have addressed each other by their Christian or nick-names. This not only displays a low standard of crew discipline, but is also contrary to Ni.5 Group Air Staff Instruction TRG/18 which reads as follows:-

“To obviate the risk of confusion over the aircraft intercommunication system, members of aircrews are to address each other according to their duty in the aircraft, viz:-

Bomb Aimer
Wireless Operator
Tail Gunner”

(ii) Fighter Command reported that the formation was good, reasonably compact, and easy to escort.


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[Underlined] OPERATIONS. [/underlined]

[Underlined] DUSSELDORF – 2/3RD NOVEMBER. [/underlined]

187 aircraft of the Group took part in a combined Command attack on Dusseldorf, the chief administrative centre of the Ruhr. An undamaged portion of the built-up area on the eastside of the Ruhr was selected for attack.

[Underlined] PLAN [/underlined] Marking was to be carried out by Oboe aircraft of the P.F.F. using both ground and skymarkers. Crews were to use their own navigation winds for bombing. A mixed load of H.E. and incendiaries was carried. Possible cloud cover of as much as 6/10ths – 9/10ths cu. and strato cu. was forecast in the target area, and crews were given separate aiming instructions for attacking the Wanganui flares.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined] The weather over the target proved to be clear, with the normal industrial ground haze. 177 aircraft attacked the primary target, aiming at the ground markers. Marking was reported as accurate, and the bombing was believed to have been well concentrated, with the exception of a few aircraft whose photographs showed that they bombed short. The sorties of these crews have been cancelled. Reconnaissance has revealed that a very heavy concentration of bombs fell in the Northern suburbs which were the target, and the whole area was virtually destroyed. This practically completes the entire destruction of Dusseldorf. In addition, all the important industrial plants in this area, including the large Rheinmetal-Borsig armament works, were severely damaged, and scarcely a building has escaped either complete destruction or heavy damage.

[Underlined] DORTMUND-EMS CANAL – 4/5TH NOVEMBER. [/underlined]

Master Bomber:- S/Ldr Smith
Deputy:- S/Ldr Churcher

The importance which the Germans attach to the Dortmund-Ems Canal as one of their main transport arteries was amply demonstrated by the fact that both branches of the canal, breached and emptied by the 5 Group raid on 23/24th September, were repaired within less than six weeks, and in full working order. The same stretch of canal was therefore attacked for a second time, by 176 main force aircraft on 4/5th November.

[Underlined] PLAN [/underlined] The aiming point, on the narrow island separating the two branches of the canal, was to be marked direct by Mosquitoes of No.54 Base with Red T.I’s. All aircraft carried a bomb load of 14 X 1,000 G.P’s and crews were ordered to aim the centre bomb of the stick at the red T.I’s.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined] There was no cloud in the target area, and visibility was good. Illumination and marking was punctual, but the markers fell some two hundred yards N.N.E. of the marking point and these, together with the T.I’s dropped by the backers up, formed a concentration at which the main force aimed their bombs.

The resulting concentration was the best the Group has yet achieved. An analysis shows that all but 5% of the bombs are contained in a circle radius 530 yards about the M.P.I. This works out at 25 bombs per acre per 1,000 bombs dropped around the M.P.I. and far exceeds any previous results. Both branches of the canal were once again breached and drained, and where the eastern arm crosses the river Glane bombs have penetrated through the bed of the canal.


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[Underlined] OPERATIONS. [/underlined]

[Underlined] REMARKS [/underlined] This attack pulverised the Eastern subsidiary channel but only the fringe fell over the Western area with the result that the damage was soon repaired. It draws attention to the serious effect of even a slight vector or marking error when attacking such small targets.

[Underlined] MITTELLAND CANAL – 6/7TH NOVEMBER. [/underlined]

Master Bomber:- S/Ldr. Smith.

This canal, which joins the Dortmund-Ems canal at Gravenhorst, connects the Ruhr with Osnabruck, Hanover, Brunswick, Magdeburg and Berlin. A section of it near Gravenhorst was selected for an attack by 248 aircraft on 6/7th November.

[Underlined] PLAN [/underlined] Mosquitoes were given a point to mark up against the embankment on the Northern side of the canal. A tolerance of 200 yards to either side of the embankment was allowed. Winds were to be found by aircraft of the flare force, and a vector broadcast to the main force by this Headquarters, to shift the bombing some 300 yards along the canal to the North East. With a surface wind from the West, it was hoped to lay a lozenge shaped concentration across the canal at an angle of approximately 30°.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined] Owing to a combination of unforeseen circumstances, this attack was abortive, and the Master Bomber ordered the force to return to base with their bombs. This operation is an example of how things can go wrong, in spite of careful planning. The snags encountered are listed below:-

(i) There were 7 H.2.S. failures amongst the aircraft of the Blind Marker and Flare Forces, an altogether exceptional number.

(ii) The target area winds were found to be much stronger than forecast, although accurate in direction. The flares were consequently scattered and too far to the East, and although two Mosquitoes found the canal junction there was insufficient illumination for them to identify the marking point.

(iii) One of the Mosquito markers eventually identified the marking point, and succeeded in dropping a Red T.I. close to the bridge nearby, but it unfortunately fell into the canal, and was extinguished before any backing up could take place.

An additional cause of confusion was the choice of Green T.I’s for both the route markers and the Primary Blind Markers, and in future different colours will be used.

[Underlined] HARBURG – 11/12TH NOVEMBER. [/underlined]

Master Bomber:- W/Cdr. Woodroffe.

A force of 245 aircraft was despatched to attack the oil refinery and storage installations and the town centre at Harburg, on the South side of the River Elbe, opposite Hamburg.


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[Underlined] OPERATIONS. [/underlined]

[Underlined] PLAN [/underlined] There were four aiming points, A, B, C, and D, the first three in the dock area to the North-West of the town and the fourth (D) in the town centre. All aircraft were to approach on a heading of 143° T. Approximately 70% of the force carried on H.E. load: (those attacking the oil plant) and 30% an incendiary load (for the town area).

A suitable marking point was selected, upwind of the target area. At H – 11, blind markers were to drop T.I. Green on the target, these were to be followed by flares, in the light of which Mosquitoes were to drop T.I. Red on the marking point.

[Underlined] Primary Method. [/underlined] Aircraft on aiming points A, B and C were to aim the centre bomb of the stick at the T.I’s releasing without any delay. False vectors were to be applied to the bombsight to bring the bombs onto the aiming points. Aircraft on aiming point D were to aim the centre bomb of the stick at the T.I. Red, on the ordered heading, delaying the release for 26 seconds.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined] The weather was clear, except for a thin layer of stratus at 8,000 feet, and the Master Bomber decided on the primary plan. The flares were rather late, but they were dropped accurately, and Marker 2 dropped a Red T.I. estimated as 80 yards West of the aiming point. These were backed up by further Red T.I’s in positions assessed as 200 yards North and 200 yards South. The actual positions of the markers cannot be identified on the night photographs. The main force was instructed to attack the resulting concentration of Red T.I’s according to plan. Bombing in the early stages was reported as rather scattered, but a good concentration developed later, and at the end of the attack, both target areas were well alight.

[Underlined] REMARKS [/underlined] Both these targets had previously been attacked on daylight by aircraft of the U.S.A.A.F. on three recent occasions previous to the 5 Group attack, and although considerable damage by H.E. is seen in the oil refinery area, and damage to residential and business property, and the marshalling yards in the Northern half of the town, no precise statement of the damage inflicted by this night attack can at present by [sic] given.

[Underlined] DUREN – 16TH NOVEMBER. [/underlined]

Master Bomber provided by P.F.F.

Duren lay on the main road between Aix la Chappelle and Cologne, and therefore on the direct route of the Allies’ advance to the Ruhr in that sector. The entire town was a fortified area containing troops, munitions and other supplies. A force of 214 aircraft, was despatched to destroy the buildings, their contents, and the defences, and in addition to block the roads and crossings. No.1 Group also provided a force of over 200 aircraft to attack the same target.

[Underlined] PLAN [/underlined] In view of the weather conditions en route, Bases were ordered to form up in “gaggles” on a time basis, and a leader was appointed for each pair of Squadrons. Marking for the attack was controlled musical parramatta, provided by No.8 Group. Primary markers were to mark the aiming point with Red T.I’s and other P.F.F. aircraft were to keep the aiming point marked with T.I. Red and Green throughout the attack. If the T.I’s became obscured, the Master Bomber was to give aiming instructions with reference to the upwind edge of the smoke.


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[Underlined] OPERATIONS. [/underlined]

In view of the proximity of American troops, very strict orders were given that bombs were not to be dropped unless:-

(i) The T.I’s could be clearly seen.

(ii) The target could be positively identified.

(iii) A timed run could be made from a positively identified position not more than 3 miles from the target.

The Master Bombing Switch was used on this occasion, as an additional precaution against the premature release of bombs. Aircraft were also ordered to home on Gee along the ‘B’ lattice line on the last leg into the target, with the release-point co-ordinated set up.

[Underlined] RESULTS [underlined] The weather was clear over the target, but there was ground haze and smoke from a previous attack. The attack was carried out according to plan. Marking was accurate and the bombing very concentrated; crews bombed either the T.I’s or the upwind edge of the smoke, according to the instructions of the Master Bomber whose controlling was reported to have been excellent. The centre of Duren was entirely devastated, only a few walls being left standing. To the South and East, scattered buildings were largely gutted or destroyed, and all roads were rendered impassable. The town marshalling yards, previously damaged in a U.S.A.A.F. raid, received a further severe mauling.

[Underlined] DORTMUND-EMS CANAL – LADBERGEN – 21/22 ND NOVEMBER. [/underlined]

Master Bomber:- S/Ldr. Stubbs.

Reconnaissance revealed that the Germans were making strenuous efforts to repair the damage inflicted on this canal by 176 of the Group on 4/5th November. It was decided to attack this target in the same place once again, to prevent this repair work from being carried out and if possible to add to the damage caused in the previous attacks.

[Underlined] PLAN [/underlined] Illumination and marking in normal sequence. Mosquitoes to mark aiming point with Red T.I. Main force crews to aim the first bomb of the stick at the Red T.I. or as ordered by the Master Bomber. Bomb load maximum load 1,000 lb. A few aircraft carried 6 X 1,900 lb G.P. bombs.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined] 123 Lancasters and 5 Mosquitoes attacked. The weather in the target area was 6 – 9/10ths strato cu. base 4,000 feet, with good visibility below. Flares were accurate and on time, and the Mosquitoes were able to identify and mark the aiming point. The Master Bomber called the main force in to bomb as planned and the attack was concluded without a hitch.

A very satisfactory concentration was achieved round the markers, and subsequent reconnaissance shows that very great damage has been done. Both branches of the canal have been breached where they cross the River Glane, and both arms have once again been drained, flooding considerable areas of surrounding countryside, and leaving many barges high and dry. The Western embankment of the main canal has been breached in one position for about 150 feet. The subsidiary arm of the canal has been so heavily cratered that its outline can scarcely be recognised. Once again a long stretch of this important canal has been drained, many barges have been destroyed, and others lie with their cargoes high and dry on the canal bed.


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[Underlined] OPERATIONS. [/underlined]

[Underlined] MITTELLAND CANAL – GRAVENHORST – 21/22ND NOVEMBER. [/underlined]

Master Bomber:- W/Cdr. Woodroffe.

The Mittelland canal, which runs from East to West from Berlin to the Ruhr, joins the Dortmund-Ems canal (which runs South to North, to connect the Ruhr with the North Sea) a few miles East of Rheine. A section of this canal, just East of its junction with the Dortmund-Ems, was selected for attack with the intention of severing both these important arteries.

[Underlined] PLAN [/underlined] A bridge across the canal was selected as the aiming point and a suitable position near the bank some 500 yards to the S.W. as a marking point. The illumination and marking plan was as usual, but in this case the markers were not to be attacked direct, but crews were to aim the centre bomb of the stick at the Red T.I’s dropped by the Mosquitoes, and a false vector set on the bombsight was calculated to bring the bombs onto the aiming point. Ordered bombing height was 8 – 9,500 feet.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined] Illumination and marking were punctual and accurate, but 8/10ths to 10/10ths strato cu, base about 4,000 feet, was encountered in the target area, and the Master Bomber ordered the main force to bomb below cloud. 137 Lancasters and 6 Mosquitoes attacked. A good concentration developed, but there was some undershooting, which was inevitable owing to the change in height and the difficulty of vectoring when so low. Nevertheless, the canal has been breached on the West side for a distance of some 50 feet immediately South of the bridge, which was the aiming point. The canal itself has been almost emptied in this stretch and many barges are stranded. In addition many barges have been damaged by direct hits, and both banks of the canal have been heavily cratered.

[Underlined] TRONDHEIM – 22/23RD NOVEMBER. [/underlined]

Master Bomber:- S/Ldr. Stubbs.

A force of 178 aircraft took off to attack the submarine pens.

[Underlined] PLAN [/underlined] A suitable marking point was selected near the pens. The usual blind marker and flare sequence was ordered, and in the light of the flares, Mosquitoes were to drop Red T.I’s to mark the marking point. A false wind vector was to be used to shift the bombs onto the aiming point. Bombing heights, 9,000 to 12,000 feet.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined] Weather conditions favoured a precision attack such as this: the target area was located without difficulty, and flares and two blind marker Green T.I’s were dropped accurately. Unfortunately the enemy was able to put a smoke screen into operation, which effectively obscured both the marking and aiming points, and the Mosquitoes were unable to mark. Unfortunately the target lay immediately outside a Norwegian town, thus precluding blind bombing, and the Master Bomber was reluctantly obliged to order the force to return to base with their bombs.

[Underlined] MUNICH – 26/27TH NOVEMBER. [/underlined]

Master Bomber:- S/Ldr. Stubbs.

Weather conditions over the target promised to be ideal for an attack on Munich, during the night of 26/27th November, so a maximum


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[Underlined] OPERATIONS. [/underlined]

effort was ordered. The weather at bases and en route was very tricky, and the decision to go ahead with the attack was not made until the last possible moment. 278 aircraft took off, many with a visibility in the region of 1,000 yards and cloud base 600 feet. A fine achievement.

[Underlined] PLAN [/underlined] Two major sectors of the town were selected, one radiating between 019° T. and 060° T, from the marking point, and the other between 081° T. and 150° T. The aircraft in the first sector to carry 1 X 1,000 MC/GP plus maximum ‘J’ incendiary clusters, and those in the second sector 4 lb incendiary clusters, with 50% of them carrying 1 X 4,000 lb bomb.

The two major sectors were sub-divided, and sector headings and appropriate delays were allotted in the usual way. No. 9 Squadron aircraft each carrying 1 X 12,000 lb H.C. bomb were spread throughout all sectors.

Illumination and marking in the normal sequence, bombing heights 16,000 – 20,000 feet.

With freezing level at 2,000 feet and a front lying approximately over the English Channel with tops generally at 20,000 feet, with occasional cu. nimb. Up to 25,000 feet, the flight plan presented a difficult problem. It was eventually decided that, after take off, aircraft should fly South over England below 2,500 feet, maintaining this height until the front had been crossed. Aircraft were to fly over the top of the front on the homeward route, losing height behind it.

The route to the target was chosen to give the enemy as little warning as possible: it lay South of Switzerland, crossed Lakes Maggiore and Como, and then went N.N.E. to the target, across the Alps. This plan was entirely successful, and the defences did not come to life until the attack was well under way.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined] The Master Bomber was delayed taking off, so Marker I, who was the deputy, conducted the opening phases of the attack. Illumination and blind marking went as planned. At H – 7 a Red T.I. was dropped, and assessed as almost on the marking point. At this moment the Master Bomber arrived, assumed control, and confirmed the accuracy of the Red T.I. Backers-up were called in, and marking was completed by H – 1. One Red T.I. which was assessed as wide to the North was cancelled by a Yellow T.I. The main force was then ordered to attack as planned.

Pilot’s reports were very enthusiastic about the success of this attack, but a large proportion of the night photographs plotted show ground detail to the South of the target, and it is now clear that the point marked was some 2/3,000 yards too far South. Nevertheless at least half of the attack went into the town and Southern suburbs and considerable damage should have been caused.

[Underlined] REMARKS [/underlined] This was the first occasion on which the Group as a whole has used Loran, and the results were very satisfactory. The concentration on the return route showed a marked improvement on the degree of concentration previously achieved.


[Page break]

[Drawing] signals

[Underlined] WIRELESS OPERATOR (AIR). [/underlined]

[Underlined] CONTROLLED OPERATIONS. [/underlined]

W/T operating by the W/T link operators throughout November maintained a fairly high standard, and reception of their transmissions by the Main Force operators was also of a high order. 54 Base again supplied all the W/T link operators and both squadrons are to be congratulated on their efficiency. This result has been accomplished by hard training.

Two interesting incidents which took place on the night of the 11th and 22nd respectively are worthy of mention. On the night of the 11th, four minutes before the first bombing wind was due to be transmitted back to Group, sever ‘jostling’ was experienced on the frequency. Prompt action by the C.S.O. enabled this frequency to be cleared just in time for controlling to commence. We again realise just how effective this countermeasure is. On the night of the 22nd propagation conditions were such that reception at all the Group Ground Stations was practically impossible, yet when crews returned it was found that ait to air reception was perfect and 100% reception accomplished.

The Link 1 and 2 operators who carried out control duties during the month were:-

Night 4th F/O Booth 83 Squadron Link 1
F/O Chapman 83 Squadron Link 2
Night 6th F/Sgt Manderson 97 Squadron Link 1
F/Sgt Whitehead 97 Squadron Link 2
Night 11th W/O John 97 Squadron Link 1
F/Sgt Utting 97 Squadron Link 2
Night 12th F/O Ward 617 Squadron Link 1 )Tirpitz
Sgt Morgan 9 Squadron Link 1 ) attack
Night 22nd Sgt Smith 97 Squadron Link 1
Sgt Moroney 97 Squadron Link 2
Night 27th W/O John 97 Squadron Link 2
F/Lt Summerscales 83 Squadron Link 3

[Underlined] W/T CONTROLLERS’ TESTS. [/underlined]

During the month 61 Wireless Operators took part in the test as detailed in 5G.S.I. No.13 and out of this number 54 passed as fit for W/T Link duties. Tabulated below are the number of operators per squadron who took part in these tests.

[Table of Numbers of Wireless Operator Tests by Squadron]


[Page break]

[Underlined] SIGNALS. [/underlined]

[Underlined] GROUP W/T EXERCISE. [/underlined]

The Group W/T Exercise during last month was disappointing, due to a number of squadrons not yet having all their equipment installed in their new training rooms, Signals Leaders are asked to exert pressure in the right direction to hurry along the completion of these training rooms so as to enable advantage to be taken of this organised and highly profitable training. We extend a hearty welcome to the Heavy Conversion Units of No.75 Base to take part in these exercises, and hope they will find the exercise interesting and of instructional value.

[Underlined] POINTS FOR SIGNALS LEADERS. [/underlined]

During regrading tests throughout the month it was distressing to find that very few Wireless Operators (Air) knew anything at all about the V.H.F. equipment TR.5043. Now this is definitely Signals equipment, and all Wireless Operators (Air) should know at least sufficient about the installation to enable them to rectify any simple fault which may occur in the air, such as the replacing of fuses, power leads, aerial connections etc. Particular instruction should be given to the drill for checking whether the set is on transmit or receive.

The introduction of the Bomber Command Diversion Schedule has filled a long felt want, and will be much appreciated by all Wireless Operators (Air). Like all other publications it will only fulfil [sic] its rightful purpose if it is always kept amended up to date, and the responsibility for amending all copies lies with the Signals Leader. He should ensure that all “Wilmot” signals are received and any amendments to the Bomber Command Diversion Schedule are embodied immediately.

[Underlined] SIGNALS FAILURES. [/underlined]

The total percentage of Signals Failures against sorties flown for the month of November, was 1.82 which shows a decrease of 0.497 against the figure for October. It will be seen from the Signals Failure Monthly Circular that there was also a decrease during October, the percentage decrease for both months being 0.619. This achievement is really outstanding when one realises the unfavourable weather conditions the servicing personnel have encountered over this period. It all goes to show that IT CAN BE DONE – good show chaps!

There is also a bouquet this month for the Wireless Operators (Air) – there were no manipulation failures; an excellent state of affairs.

During the month not one sortie was cancelled (Class A) as the result of a signals defect. How many realise that this record has been maintained over the past 5 months?

[Underlined] I.F.F. COURSES. [/underlined]

Five courses involving 57 Wireless Mechanics drawn from all stations in the Group were held at Morton Hall during the month. Great keeness [sic] was shown and the instructor, Sergeant Ryder, reports very favourably on the standard attained. The Chief Signals Officer took the opportunity of discussing with each course the problems connected with aircraft servicing and was able to obtain some useful ‘gen’. The fact that a vast majority of our Group 1 tradesmen are still looking forward to an early return to civilian occupations was once more confirmed, and was countered by a graphic description of life in the peace-time airforce which it is hoped may have the effect of changing some of their minds.


[Page break]

[Underlined] SIGNALS. [/underlined]

[Underlined] V.H.F. R/T – TR.5043. [/underlined]

[Underlined] SERVICEABILITY. [/underlined]

The TR.5043 gave good serviceability during November, there were ten failures reported against more than 2,000 sorties. Four of the failures (all in one Base) were “NOTHING HEARD – NO FAULT FOUND”. Are Signals Officers doing all in their power to prevent this type of defect? There were two cases of Aerials Type 147 breaking; this is a decrease in comparison with the figure for October.

During the month, exhaustive experiments were carried out at Metheringham by 3 R.A.E. specialists in connection with aerial breakages. The result of these experiments is, that [underlined] all [/underlined] Lancaster aircraft TR.5043 aerials (including H.2.S. aircraft) can safely be fitted in strict accordance with B.C.S.P. No.10.

[Underlined] VOLUME CONTROLS. [/underlined]

Three different types of volume controls for operation by the pilot are now undergoing test in various Lancaster aircraft in the Group. Results to date are somewhat varied, some pilots stating that the new control in ‘bang on’ whilst others aver that the minimum position still permits incoming V.H.F. R/T Signals to interfere with intercom. We are determined to find the ideal before launching a general fitting programme.

[Underlined] V.H.F. R/T COURSES. [/underlined]

No.1 Radio School, Cranwell, has undertaken to give all Signals Officers in the Group a four-day course on the V.H.F. R/T set TR.5043.

The first two courses report enthusiastically on the efficiency with which this course is being run and they thoroughly enjoyed the brief opportunity to be immune from telephone calls and other diversions whilst learning all there is to know about this interesting set.


Yet another case has occurred of crew intercom. being radiated on V.H.F. R/T in the target area. This resulted in serious inconvenience by jamming to some extent the R/T traffic. It had been considered that all possible action had been taken to prevent this sort of thing happening. All Main Force aircraft have a switch fitted in the H.T lead to the V.H.F. Transmitter, and this switch is locked in the ‘Off’ position prior to take off. All aircraft which may be called upon to transmit on their V.H.F. R/T, have this switch in the ‘On’ position, but are equipped with a Neon light indicator positioned near the navigator which lights up whenever the V.H.F. set is transmitting. In spite of these precautions, however, an aircraft of the illuminating force inadvertently radiated intercom. on V.H.F. It seems that it will be necessary to reposition the neon indicator, and also make use of the pilot’s bomb release switch in lieu of the existing press-to-speak switch which unfortunately is in such a position on the control wheel that it can be gripped, and pressed, in the ‘On’ position accidentally. The Pilot’s bomb release switch is fitted on the control wheel in such a way that it cannot possibly be actuated accidentally.

[Underlined] RADAR. [/underlined]

[Underlined] LORAN. [/underlined]

The closing days of the month saw the final stages of the Loran fitting programme. This fitting programme almost brought back reminiscences of the Monica Mark V days, and much credit must be accorded to the wholehearted efforts of the Engineering and Radar personnel who installed the bracketry and equipment in double-quick time.


[Page break]

[Underlined] SIGNALS. [/underlined]

The successful use of the equipment on the Munich operation on the night 26/27th gave a very useful fillip to enthusiasm, and effectively squashed the mutterings of the “doubting Thomases”. The serviceability figures, in view of the usual manipulation troubles and initial “bugs”, are promising. It has been found that the indicator becomes unusually temperamental when damp, but waterproof covers should clear this trouble.

Shortage of the main boxes and lack of spare components were sources of complaints, but both will be cleared almost directly.

[Underlined] A.G.L.(T). [/underlined]

Despite the spring tides at Fulbeck which threaten to engulf the Radar workshop, the A.G.L.(T) situation is well in hand. No physical success has been claimed, and the shortage of equipped aircraft is acute, but much useful data has been brought to light, which should do much to assist the final development of this device.

[Underlined] H.2.S. MARK III. [/underlined]

Progress at Coningsby is steady. The scanner trouble has been cleared, gaps in the polar diagram have been filled in by a simple modifications [sic] which consists of strategically mounting a 16” X 6” sheet of perspex on the mirror. We [underlined] know [/underlined] it does the job all we want to know is [underlined] how [/underlined] it does it. Improvements to the scanner testing equipment have effected considerable economy in flying hours.

[Underlined] MONICA. [/underlined]

The addendum to Monica to defeat the Hun, reached its flying trials this month which were very encouraging, and earned official sanction for the Group to experiment with Monica. All credit for this device must go to F/O Tovey of 53 Base. His prototype made all Walt Disney’s conceptions look very ordinary but he continued to work on the idea tirelessly and patiently, and with T.R.E. assistance brought forth a very workable unit, of which we hope a lot more will be heard.

[Underlined] SECURITY. [/underlined]

This month has seen the introduction of the long awaited Bomber Command Diversion Schedule. As the tag has it “The mountains shall labour and bring forth a ridiculous little mouse”. In this case at least, an eighteen month gestation has produced a noble offspring. There is one note of ridicule, introduced we imagine by some frolicsome “printer’s devil”, and this defect in the Schedule required one of the three following ‘mods’ for its eradication:-

(i) The Schedule to be mounted on a bracket and swivel fixed to the W/Op’s (Air) table.

(ii) All W/Op’s (Air) to be fitted with swivel vertebrae above the shoulders.

(iii) The even numbered pages of the Schedule to be printed “the other way up”.

The last of these three ‘mods’ has been requisitioned, and until it appears we wish you good luck and happy diversions.


[Page break]

[Underlined] SIGNALS. [/underlined]

[Underlined] YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. [/underlined]

The Field Security Police have a multitude of duties,
And amongst other things these precious beauties
Sit in post offices and monitor calls,
And lap up every word that falls
From the lips of Service folk;
This is by no means a joke,
Though it may seem to be at first.
The police laugh simply fit to burst
Whenever they hear some solemn voice say,
“This is an Ops. circuit so we needn’t scramble, heh?”
And the other bloke
Says, “Oke!”
When this happens you might guess,
They take it down in shorthad, [sic] (more or less),
And after a court-marital –
To which they’re very partial –
The perpetrators of the crime
Do “time”,
Or they may, it is feared,
Be cashiered!
It all depends upon the rank,
AC Plonk or Flight Lieutenant Blank.

The moral is by now quite clear, I’m sure.
NO circuits can be trusted as secure.
When secrets must be spoken, your preamble
Must always be the magic words, “Please scramble!”
Ops. circuits only give you what you need,
And that is NOT security but Speed!


[Page break]

[Drawing] navigation


A good navigator may be summed up as one who works hard all the time, uses his intelligence constantly and makes a conscious effort to be on track and on time throughout every operation.

Do you think you fill that category? To assist you in answering the first question, below is a self analysis chart for you to complete. Be honest with yourself in answering these questions.

[Underlined] SELF ANALYSIS CHART. [/underlined]

[Underlined] QUESTIONS. [/underlined]

(1) Do you [underlined] always [/underlined] work to a system, and a regular time interval?

(2) Do you [underlined] always [/underlined] make a “snap” alteration of course immediately you ascertain you are off track?

(3) Do you check your ETA’s [underlined] regularly [/underlined] every 15 minutes?

(4) When coming into Gee range to you [underlined] always [/underlined] believe the first Gee fix you obtain and act on it?

(5) When no fixing aids available, do you [underlined] always [/underlined] obtain a D.R. position every 15 minutes?

(6) Do you [underlined] always [/underlined] “home” on your Southern or Eastern Lattice lines as instructed.

(7) Do you [underlined] always [/underlined] check your compasses every 20 minutes?

(8) Do you [underlined] always [/underlined] find a w/v over the ideal period of time, i.e. between 15 and 40 minutes.

(9) When necessary to you [underlined] always [/underlined] dog leg or alter IAS so as to arrive at each turning point exactly on time?

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but if you answer all the questions frankly, you will obtain a good assessment of your own ability. If you can say “Yes” to only 70% or less, you are below average; 80% you are average; 90% ad above you can consider yourself a good navigator.

Make a note of the points on which you lose marks, then rectify them [underlined] immediately [/underlined]. Further lists will appear in the next two summaries, so keep a note of your results on this test and by January you will have a complete assessment of yourself.


[Page break]

[Underlined] NAVIGATION. [/underlined]

[Underlined] WINDFINDING. [/underlined]

The importance of finding accurate w/v’s, [underlined] and using them, [/underlined] has been stressed constantly for the last five years. One would therefore think that, as a result of all this “binding” every Navigator would now realise the importance of windfinding. BUT, unfortunately this is not so, Why?

We now have four “gen boxes” given us to assist in finding really accurate w/v., i.e. Gee, Loran, H.2.S. and A.P.I. All these instruments have been tested very thoroughly and have been proved accurate. All Navigators acknowledge the accuracy of these instruments and trust individual fixes and A/P’s obtained, but when it comes to joining two of these positions together, i.e. fix and Air Position, and obtained a w/v, many Navigators automatically become dubious. If the w/v obtained agrees fairly well with that forecast, or the last few w/v’s found, it is considered accurate. BUT, on the other hand if it differs by any appreciable amount, then in 7 out of every 10 instances a Navigator will say he got a “duff fix”, or else the A.P.I. is overreading!! In other words many Navigators just haven’t the confidence in themselves. Are YOU one of these? If you are, then reform yourself!

It is not generally appreciated that, even with a so-called steady wind the direction is never constant to within 30°, and the speed is never constant to within 10 or 15 miles an hour, so how can you expect to find idential [sic] w/v’s, and in any case how are you to know that there hasn’t been a sudden wind change caused by an unpredicted front or other reason?

Therefore in future, do not mistrust your fixes, A.P.I. readings and resultant w/v’s. Take great care in obtaining these readings and in plotting them accurately, but once you’ve got them treat them as correct – and [underlined] USE [/underlined] the resultant w/v!

[Underlined] COMPASSES. [/underlined]

Do [underlined] YOU [/underlined] always check your Compasses every 20 minutes? This question has been asked already, but it will bear repeating. There are now 3 instruments dependent on the serviceability of the D.R. Compass, namely H.2.S., A.P.I. and Mk.XIV Bombsight, besides of course the safety of the aircraft itself. It is, therefore, of paramount importance that the D.R. Compass is fully serviceable all the time.

A recent analysis showed that very few Navigators ever pay sufficient attention to their compasses. Are YOU one of these people who take the Compasses for granted, or do you carry out your checks methodically. Do you for example, ever go out to your aircraft and assist in the swinging, or do you even ask the Compass Adjusters on their return how your compasses are? Do you always carry a compass key in your pocket? Have a look and make sure before you answer the last question. Are you thoroughly conversant with the symptoms of a toppled gyro, and do you know the procedure to be adopted to correct the gyro? [Underlined] But above all, [/underlined] do you know that you should never return early because one of your compasses is unserviceable?

An analysis is carried out after every Group concentration plan has been completed to ascertain why certain aircraft are off track. On every occasion the answer for [underlined] AT LEAST ONE AIRCRAFT [/underlined] is that vague phrase “COMPASSES U/S”, which, on further examination, means nothing more than “Compasses desynchronised”.

The safety of an aircraft and its crew was therefore jeopardised because the crew [underlined] forgot to check their compasses! [/underlined]


[Page break]

[NAVIGATION. [/underlined]

Longer range targets will be the the priority this Winter and that means deep penetration into a heavily fortified Germany. Accurate Navigation will therefore be absolutely essential and this is directly dependent on the accuracy of your compasses. Be compass minded then – learn all you can about them, know your drills and manipulation procedures off by heart – and above all [underlined] CHECK YOUR COMPASS REGULARLY. [/underlined]

Use the Astro Compass when there is any discrepancy between the P.4 and D.R. Compasses.

Station and Squadron Navigation Officers must continue to drive hard on this subject, checking all new crews on their arrival See that they are thoroughly conversant with the drills, faults, remedies and manipulation procedures, and make it clear to them that on no account do they return early if one compass is unserviceable.

[Underlined] PRACTICE BOMBING VECTOR ERRORS. [/underlined]

The average vector error obtained by the squadrons this month is 3.8 m.p.h. This is excellent. This figure shows a decrease of .5 m.p.h. We have achieved our goal of an average vector error below 4 m.p.h. Can we now possibly reduce this error to below 3 m.p.h.? If we can then all navigators can truthfully say they are contributing to very largely to the high standard of bombing we are achieving. Go to it! and see what records you can break this month.

[Table of Average Vector Errors by Squadron]

It will be noted that three squadrons of No.53 Base occupy the first three places this month, the two “old faithfuls”, Nos. 9 and 50 Squadrons, still retaining their lead on the rest of the Group. No. 56 Base Squadrons are all down towards the bottom of the list. They can, and have, done very much better than this. Com on No.56 Base, let us see you at the top next month!

Apologies to No. 57 Squadron for last month. Their average vector error was inadvertently shown as 4 m.p.h., whereas it should have read 3.5 m.p.h.


[Page break]

[Underlined] NAVIGATION. [/underlined]

[Drawing] THIS MONTH’S Bouquets [Drawing]

The names of the eight navigators who submitted the best work this month as [sic] set out below. They have been chosen for their consistently accurate and methodical work, which includes good track-keeping and timing, constant wind velocity checks and checking of E.T.A’s and log and chart work of a very high order.

F/O Hart – No.467 Squadron
P/O Briggs No.83 Squadron
F/O Martin No.106 Squadron
F/O Skinner No.189 Squadron
P/O Searle No.227 Squadron
F/Sgt Shapman No.207 Squadron
F/O Kay No.630 Squadron
F/Sgt Murray No. 50 Squadron

Note that P/O SEARLE appears for the second time. Good work SEARLE – keep it up!

[Underlined] TIMING. [/underlined]

In last month’s summary a long article was written on the slackness of timing on the return journey. Three causes of this “timing spread” were suggested and you were asked to eliminate them and so bring about a much needed improvement in the return journey concentration. Base, Station and Squadron Commanders and Navigation Officers were also asked to have a “drive” in this direction. Only one operation has been carried out since this letter was sent, and on this raid there was a very big improvement. In fact the concentration on the return journey was better than that going to the target!! This is good, keep it up, and make it your aim to achieve the concentration we desire, i.e. “an area covering not more than 50 miles in length and 10 miles in width” – and no more.

[Underlined] UNION NEWS. [/underlined]

F/Lt. Markham – No.463 Squadron to be Squadron Navigation Officer.
F/Lt. Martin – No.61 Squadron to be Squadron Navigation Officer.
F/Lt. Bennett, D.F.M. – No.617 Squadron Navigation Officer to be Station Navigation Officer, Woodhall. (now S/Ldr.).
F/O Bayne, D.F.C. – No.617 Squadron to be Squadron Navigation Officer.
F/Lt. De Boos, D.F.C. – No.627 Squadron Navigation Officer, tour expired, posted to No.7 Group.
F/Lt. Tice – No.627 Squadron to be Squadron Navigation Officer.
S/Ldr. Kelly, D.F.C. – Station Navigation Officer, Fulbeck, missing on operations.


[Page break]

[Drawing] radar nav:

[Underlined] LORAN. [/underlined]

This new navigational aid has only been used to any great advantage on one operation this month. Despite the difficulties in training and the short time since the introduction of the Loran equipment, operators made full use of the facility it affords, and it has proved without doubt a useful addition to our navigational equipment. The fact that to the present time no interference has been encountered which would make fixing difficult does not imply that the Hun will not attempt to jam the equipment and with this fact in mind every possible operator must use Loran to its fullest advantage whilst it is still possible.

There are one or two points which have arisen in the manipulation and use of this equipment which must be stressed. They are:-

(i) Loran operators are not spending sufficient time in the recognition of signals – particularly differentiation between 1st and 2nd Hop E sky waves. Perseverence [sic] and close watch of the signals on Sweep Speed 3 will ascertain whether the signals are the correct ones. It is appreciated that very little, if any, training can be carried out on the S.S. Loran Chain and operators must endeavour to use time on operations for sky wave training. If you are uncertain as to the appearance of sky waves your obvious remedy is to visit the Radar Training Room after 1630 hours any day and you can get all the gen on the sky waves by using the S.S. or North Eastern Loran Chain on a bench set. Why not make this a nightly feature until you are sure in the identification of all signals.

(ii) No system of taking position lines at regular intervals is being followed. It is no use taking a position line from one rate and keep transferring it along track for an undeterminable number of times to give you fixes with position lines from the other rate. Try taking position lines at regular intervals of say 10 minutes e.g.:-

Rate 4 at 2010 and 2020 and so on.
Rate 5 at 2011 and 2021 and so on.

(iii) The time base readings are easily upset by movement of the fine strobe control during the switching of the Sweep Speed Control through position 5, 6 and 7. Watch this carefully or else you are going to get false fixes. If necessary use your left hand for switching the Sweep Speed Control.


[Page break]

[Underlined] RADAR NAVIGATION. [/underlined]

(iv) Several operators reported the four dividers out of alignment but a few using commonsense [sic] and initiative correctly aligned the dividers and obtained full use of the equipment. As the dividers, particularly A, B, C and D are very critical, alignment checks must be made:-

(a) After switching on procedure has been carried out.
(b) Every two hours when LORAN is in use.
(c) After any large changes of temperature or pressure.

An Aircraft Drill has been produced and is available at all units, detailing the alignment procedure. Loran operators must know this procedure fully and screwdrivers have been made a general issue to all navigators in order that alignment corrections can be made in the air. It is important, however, that operators should know the symptoms of incorrect alignment before they attempt any correction at all. Loran Instructors or Radar Officers will supply all the “gen” on this.

A slight modification to the Loran set is being introduced shortly which enables operators to change the basic rate so that the new North Eastern Loran Chain can be used. This North Eastern Loran Chain the details of which will be available shortly, gives coverage over the whole of the North Sea and should be very useful on Northern trips. It is, however, emphasised that as this Chain is not as accurate as the Norther Gee Chain, Gee must be used to the limit of its coverage. The present charts are to a scale of one to three million and therefore hopeless for Bomber Command navigation. Representations have been made for larger scale charts and these will be distributed as soon as they are received at this Headquarters.

[Underlined] GEE. [/underlined]

Welcome changes have been made this month in the Continental Gee Chain frequencies with the intention of giving far better facilities from the Ruhr and Rheims Chains. However emphasis is placed upon the correct setting up of the R.F.27 tuning dial to obtain the best reception. Great care is therefore to be exercised in setting the dial correctly when changing from one frequency to another.

The Rheims Chain continues to give excellent results with ranges reported as great as 0930E. Interference is slight and on most occasions non-existent. On the Munich operation the Chain could have been used to considerably greater advantage if suitable charts had been available in time.

The Ruhr Chain is still producing disappointing results and below the standard of the Rheims Chain. A and C Station signal strengths are fairly good. The B and D signals are weak limiting the operational value of the Chain. Sine wave jamming and Heavy Grass has been reported in the Brunswick and Cologne areas.

The Eastern Chain gave excellent results on the Harburg operation, many operators obtaining fixes in the target area. This indicates either the meteorological conditions were favourable for Gee that night, or that the enemy has transferred his jamming to other frequencies.

Representatives have again been made for the production of miniature lattice charts for the Continental Chain as the navigator nowadays has to carry no less than eighteen topographical lattice charts if he is to be prepared for any emergencies. The total area covered by these topographical lattice charts can be reproduced on approximately four miniature lattice charts.


[Page break]

[Underlined] RADAR NAVIGATION. [/underlined]

[Underlined] H.2.S. [/underlined]

H.2.S. silence is still being maintained on the Group with total restriction on the use of H.2.S. Mark II and part restriction on H.2.S. Mark III. With the risk of early warning of operations, and until the efficiency of the enemy night fighter equipment is definitely ascertained, it is the policy of this Group to give the enemy as little help from H.2.S. sources as is possible.

H.2.S. operators are reminded that although the use of H.2.S. Mark II is almost totally restricted it may be possible that at some future date consent will be given to its use again. H.2.S. Mark II can be used from the enemy coast on the return journey. This relaxation of the restrictions is intended for training purposes and operators should make the best use of this time to raise their standard of efficiency. H.2.S. is and will remain the most efficient navigational aid over enemy territory because it cannot be jammed efficiently, and with the introduction of new Marks it will again come into general use. All Marks of H.2.S. are manipulated in a similar manner and thorough knowledge of Mark II will ensure more efficient use of the later Marks.

54 Base still continue to make great strides in the use of H.2.S. Mark III as an efficient bombing aid and trials are continuing to ascertain the accuracy of individual sets of H.2.S. equipment by means of ground Radar plots at positions of bombs gone on various targets. Complete analysis of every run is being made to ascertain the errors due to equipment and to the human element. Those due to the equipment can be eliminated. It is up to the individual operators to eliminate the inaccuracy due to human error.

H.2.S. Photography is proceeding satisfactorily throughout the Group, although all main force photographs, except those from 106 Squadron, are of landmarks in this country. From these training photographs it is evident that the standard is improving, and operators are taking a little more time in the manipulation of the camera. There are, however, still one or two unsatisfactory details which can be overcome:- For instance, some operators still persist in having a 10 mile zero as big as a half crown thus distorting the photograph obtained. Remember is should be the size of a sixpence. Others persist in having lights on or letting the daylight into the compartment when taking the photographs thus wasting negatives and printing material. If you persist in making these mistakes during training, far more may be made during an operational sortie due to operational stress. 54 Base have produced some excellent operational photographs, particularly those taken on the operation to Munich. These photographs show the lakes and valleys in the Alps as clearly as on a relief map. The photographs also indicate that the target and lakes nearby are very well defined on the H.2.S. Mark III P.P.I. and will no doubt prove useful for any future attacks.

Squadrons of 55 Base and 106 Squadron have carried out several mining sorties during the month, the results of which have been excellent. The importance of this work cannot be too highly stressed and H.2.S. training on these squadrons is being carried out with this type of operation in mind. There are several convenient landmarks on the East Coast which can be used for mining runs and the number of P.P.I. photographs which have been received indicate that some operators are making use of them during training. The important fact is that all operators on these squadrons must be able to release mines accurately on H.2.S. We cannot afford to lay them outside the normal channels, where they may be a danger to our own shipping.


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[Drawing] tactics

This month the German Night Fighter Force has again failed to offer effective opposition to Bomber Command’s night offensive. The German fighter controllers have been bewildered by the profusion of Window spoofs, Mosquito raids and Intruders, combined with the main attacks, and have failed to intercept the bomber stream with an effective number of fighters. Night fighter are, however, still the biggest danger, and there is no reason to suppose that, once they have contacted the bomber stream, they are any less efficient than they were last Winter. A night fighter, particularly if equipped with upward firing cannon, is a formidable adversary, and a crew must be on the top line to combat it successfully. Good crew discipline is essential. In particular, intercommunications between the pilot and gunners must be clear and concise. Idle chatter and the use of Christian names on the intercom. may mean attending interrogation at Dulag Luft instead of Base.

There are indications that the enemy may, in the very near future, send up fighters against our daylight attacks, particularly on the deeper penetrations we shall be making in the coming months. The fighter escort will deal with what it can, but crews must be prepared for small formations of enemy fighters to get through the escort. This will provide a quick and decisive answer to the ever recurrent problem of stragglers. The enemy may well use jet fighters for these attacks, but crews should remember that, although their speed is very high, there is nothing miraculous about these aircraft. In an attack they behave like conventional fighters and should be treated as such. Although they are armed with 30 m.m. cannon, these have such a low muzzle velocity that, for accurate shooting, they are not effective over 400 yards, which will give gunners a good chance of shooting back.

A final warning. A case has come to light recently where a captain admitted letting his rear gunner leave his turret over France and the sea when returning from the target. This is criminal. German night fighters are often ordered to follow the bomber stream across friendly territory, and well out to sea, and captains must remember that an operation finishes in dispersal, and not a moment sooner.


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[Drawing] air bombing

The activities of the Group in the operational sphere have mostly been intended to destroy small targets rather than to bomb areas of large cities.

Despite unfavourable weather conditions on frequent occasions, the results have been reasonably satisfactory from the Air Bomber’s point of view and the necessity of maintaining a high standard of precision bombing must be apparent. Obtaining the best possible results on precision targets at night, when visual identification is impossible, necessitates a thorough knowledge of the tactical plan and the ability to carry it out to the letter. The plots of the incendiary attacks on sectors illustrate that the majority of Air Bombers are doing their best to guide the aircraft over the marking point, but it must be realised that after the dummy bombing run on to the marker, it is essential that the aircraft should be on the briefed track as quickly as possible. As soon as the marker comes into the intersection of the bombsight graticule and is reported by the Air Bomber, the immediate reactions of the bombing team are as follows:-

(a) The Navigator commences to count off the required number of seconds consistent with the basic delay plus the delay for the incendiary bombs.
(b) The Pilot turns on to the course given by the Navigator prior to reaching the target area, and confirms that he is on the correct course.
(c) The Air Bomber does a last minute check of the bombing panel and releases the bombs on the executive word from the Navigator.

The correct observance of this procedure will ensure that the required incendiary concentration falls in the areas where the maximum amount of damage can be caused.

Now that Winter has arrived, all Air Bombers must be prepared for icing in the bomb-bay. The only preventative measure that can be undertaken is to see that the release slip heater for No.13 station is switched on at take-off, but by a careful examination of the bomb-bay after landing, it will be possible to see if any incendiaries have fallen from the S.B.C’s on to the doors and the ground crew will know what to expect when they open the bomb-doors. A careful examination of the bomb-bay after the aircraft has been flying below freezing level for some time will help to prevent any accidents on the ground after landing. It should be remembered that there will be no indication of bombs hanging-up due to icing, when the Air Bomber does his lights check.

The importance of switch drill, and accuracy in bombsight settings, must be frequently stressed by Bombing Leaders at every possible opportunity. An error of one or two degrees in bombsight levelling will give a large error on the ground, and despite the difficulty in setting the correct levelling figure on the computor [sic] box, every effort must be made to see that it is correct to the nearest degree. Constantly check your switches and bombsight on the way to the target, and remember that your target is not a town or city, but a small area in that town or city, and to hit is successfully you must be accurate as if bombing a practice target.


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[Underlined] AIR BOMBING. [/underlined]

[Underlined] NOVEMBER’S OUTSTANDING CREW ERRORS. [/underlined]

[Underlined] SQDN. PILOT AIR BOMBER NAVIGATOR ERROR AT 20,000 FT. IN YARDS. [/underlined]

9 F/O Newton F/Sgt Flynn F/Sgt Grant 71
F/L Marsh F/O Carr F/Sgt Haydon 66
F/O Coater F/Sgt Boag F/Sgt Black 57
F/O Williams F/Sgt Gold Sgt Lockerbie 53

50 F/O Jones Sgt Jarmy Sgt Davis 77
F/O Ling F/Sgt Howard F/O Rutland 68

83 F/O Inniss F/O Morrison F/Sgt Dormer 73
F/L Weber Sgt Summers Sgt Thorn 76

97 F/O Greening Sgt Nutt F/Sgt Cairn 72
F/L Brooker F/O Pearce F/O Brown 42
F/O Ryan Sgt Kirkby F/O Sabine 56
F/O Royston-Piggott W/O Bate F/Sgt Madley 73

106 P/O May Sgt George F/Sgt Barling 61

207 F/O Rose Sgt Weaver Sgt Bell 75

617 F/O Ross P/O Tilby F/O O’Brien 63
F/O Gingles W/O Hazell F/Sgt Johnson 70
F/L Sayers P/O Weaver F/O Strom 73
F/O Martin F/Sgt Day F/Sgt Jackson 54 54
F/O Joplin F/Sgt Hebbard F/Sgt Fish 71

630 F/O Baker F/Sgt Leyden F/Sgt Taeuber 66
F/O Miller F/O Banks W/O Wildey 74

F/O Martin and crew, No.617 Squadron, have for the second successive month, obtained two crew errors of less than 60 yards at 20,000 feet. These results are obtained only by concentration on the part of Pilot and Air Bomber and are commendable efforts.

F/L Brooker and crew, No.97 Squadron, obtained the excellent result of 42 yards using the Mark XIV Bombsight.

[Underlined] BOMBING LEADERS. [/underlined]

P/O Willmot, No.49 Squadron, obtained fifth place on the Bombing Leader’s Course, being awarded a “B” Category.

There have been no changes in the squadrons during November.

All Bombing Leaders are asked to make a point of seeing that their returns are forwarded to Group Headquarters as soon as possible after the end of each week and month.


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[Underlined] AIR BOMBING . [/underlined]

[Underlined] SQUADRON BOMBING COMPETITION. [/underlined]

[Underlined] SQUADRON AVERAGE ERROR [/underlined]

1 9 65 yards
2 ) 97 70 yards
2 ) 619 70 yards
4 630 71 yards
5 49 72 yards
6 83 73 yards
7 44 74 yards
8 207 86 yards
9 463 87 yards
10 57 88 yards
11 50 100 yards
12 467 114 yards
13 106 124 yards
14 61 125 yards
15 189 126 yards

The top place in the Group Competition has again changed hands, 9 Squadron having improved on their last month’s entry by 8 yards, and they are well ahead of the next six Squadrons who submitted entries all within 6 yards.

No. 9 Squadron are to be congratulated on their excellent bombing and it is hoped that they can hold their place against the strong opposition which will be provided by other squadrons during December.

No.55 Base have repeated their recent consistently good bombing and all five squadrons are included in the first ten, 619 Squadron showing the greatest improvement with a decrease of 23 yards on their October result.

[Underlined] CREW CATEGORISATION. [/underlined]

[Table of Crew Categorisation by Base]

Crews are categorised on the average crew error of their last three practice bombing exercises and the following limitations apply to the various categories:-

A+ 85 yards or less
A 140 yards or less
B 210 yards or less
C 280 yards or less
D Over 280 yards.


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[Underlined] AIR BOMBING. [/underlined]

[Underlined] HIGH LEVEL BOMBING PRACTICE. [/underlined]

[Table of High Level Bombing Practice Results by Squadron]

No. 627 Squadron dropped 409 bombs at heights lower than 1000 feet with an average error of 71 yards.

172 T.I’s were dropped producing an average error of 191 yards.


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[Underlined] AIR BOMBING. [/underlined]

[Underlined] QUIZ. [/underlined]

1. If you find you are getting no air supply after switching on the air control what is the first thing to check?

2. Which pistol is liable to operate even though the bomb has been released “SAFE”?

3. What is used to indicate the presence of Allied troops during close support attacks on targets near the front line?

[Underlined] BIGCHIEF COMPETITION. [/underlined]

The two entries received in this competition have both been sent in from Strubby.

G/Capt. Jeudwine – 138 yards at 20,000 ft.
W/Cdr. Milward (619 Sqdn.) – 205 yards at 20,000 ft.

[Underlined] LEADER COMPETITION. [/underlined]

The solitary entry for this competition came from 55 Base.

F/Lt. Linnett (57 Sqdn.) – 104 yards.

F/Lt Rumgay (617 Sqddn.) has completed several excellent exercises using the S.A.B.S. which unfortunately, cannot be included in the competition.

[Underlined] PRACTICE BOMBING. [/underlined]

The total number of practice bombs dropped during November shows a considerable decrease when compared with October’s figures (2577 against 3898). Adverse weather conditions made practice bombing impossible on many days during the month, but some Squadrons made maximum use of the available opportunities.

The average crew error, although slightly higher than last month, is very satisfactory and special mention must be made of 9 Squadron’s efforts which produced and average error of 122 yards.

There are occasions when considerable congestion has been caused at Bombing Ranges because of the large number of aircraft attempting to bomb at the same time. It is only possible to allocate two targets to each Base and this congestion should be reduced with closer co-operation between Squadron Bombing Leaders, and the staggering of Bombing times allocated to each aircraft.

Bombing Leaders are also reminded that night practice bombing programmes should be transmitted to Ranges before 1800 hours if possible.


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incendiary attacks

[Underlined] BRUINSWICK – 14/15TH OCTOBER [/underlined]

It is probable that with the limited time available before an operation, crews may not appreciate the complete picture of the plan of which each squadron forms a component part. It is proposed, therefore, to take one of the incendiary attacks which this Group has carried out, giving in broad outline the intention, plan and execution of the attack.

The target chosen is Brunswick, which was selected for attack by this Group on the 14/15th October. Appended is a P.R.U. photograph of the town of Brunswick, showing the damage inflicted by the attack, bounded by the red line. The smaller areas bounded by green lines represent damage prior to the 14/15th October. The attack was highly successful but nevertheless illustrated how even small deviations from the agreed plan can jeopardise success.

[Underlined] INTENTION. [/underlined]

Brunswick has always been an important communications centre due to its position on the trade route from Hamburg to Southern Germany and its importance increased with the development of inland waterways and railways. Its pre-war major industries were swiftly placed on a war footing to supply the German armed forces and the beginning of the war also saw the rapid development of major aircraft and engineering industries in the town, particularly in the Northern and Southern suburbs.

It is not surprising therefore that this town, lying as it does within range of bases in Great Britain, has received regular attention from the Allied Air Forces. Since the strategical bombing of Germany began, a total of 6129 tons of bombs have been reported as dropped on the town by Bomber Command alone. But in common with a few other towns, like STUTTGART and FRANKFURT, it bore an unusually charmed life. While bombing depended upon visual methods of target finding, this was partly explained by the lack of good water landmarks near the town, but the difficulty of finding and bombing the target persisted after the introduction of RADAR aids, as will be seen from the following summary of major Bomber Command raids this year, including two by this Group, which left the town almost unscathed.

14/15th January – 472 aircraft
22/23rd April – 256 aircraft
22/23rd May – 211 aircraft
13/14th August – 350 aircraft

These raids are additional to several A.S.A.A.F. raids directed specific factories which were in the main successful.

[Underlined] PLAN. [/underlined]

There are two main alternative methods of carrying out an incendiary attack on a town of this nature. The first is to put the T.I’s on the centre of the town and to bomb these direct. This method


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[Underlined] INCENDIARY ATTACKS [/underlined]

has a number of disadvantages the most important being that T.I’s in a built up area will seldom show up as brightly as those dropped on open ground, so that any markers which may be wide of the target will almost certainly attract the bombing. This occurred on the first attack on Konigsberg. Moreover, as soon as bombing starts the markers become obscured by incendiaries and smoke, and have to be continually backed up, this adding to the risk of inaccurate markers falling outside the town.

The alternative is to select a marking point which us likely to be easily recognisable by the marker force and located somewhere on the upwind side of the target. Provided visibility is reasonable all markers should fall within 300 yards of the marking point. If each crew is then given a heading on which to fly and a number of seconds to delay the release of bombs, the whole target area should in theory be covered with an even density of incendiaries and thus be totally destroyed.

It should be noted that this system entails the most precise bombing by each crew otherwise some areas will receive too many incendiaries and others will be left unburnt. The method by which each crew is to pass precisely over the markers and thus get on to the exact heading is laid down in Air Staff Instructions, and must be known to all.

[Underlined] NARRATIVE [/underlined]

(i) [Underlined] Weather. [/underlined] The weather at the target was clear with slight ground haze.

(ii) [Underlined] Marking. [/underlined] At H – 11 the first green T.I. dropped blind as a proximity marker, went down followed almost immediately by the first flares. At H – 8 the second flare wave dropped and by this time three more green T.I’s had gone down. Mosquito Marker No.3 gave a “Tallyho” and went in to mark, his T.I. being assessed as 200 yards to the North of the marking point. The Master Bomber ordered the remaining Mosquitos to back up 200 yards to the South. The backing up eventually resulted in 2 T.I’s roughly on the marking point, one 300 yards S.E. which probably fell in water and quickly went out, and one wide marker 800 yards to the West. This error was due to a variety of causes of which undue haste was probably the major. At H – 1 the markers were ordered off the target and the main force instructed to attack. The illustration shows the positions of the Red T.I’s in relation to the marking point as assessed from night photographs.



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[Underlined] INCENDIARY ATTACKS. [/underlined]

(iii) [Underlined] Main Force Bombing. [/underlined] The attack went mainly according to plan although the Master Bomber had to instruct crews to steady down as there were some wide sticks in the early stages. These few loose sticks are a regrettable feature of all attacks, and it is hard to understand crews who have carried their loads all the way to the target can allow themselves to release them in open country on the edge of the target when a few more seconds would enable them to be placed on the aiming point. At H + 8 the main force were instructed to complete bombing and return to base.

[Photograph – missing] This photograph is a still from film shot by a 463 Squadron Lancaster equipped with cine apparatus. The photograph was taken six minutes after the main force bombing started, and can be clearly picked out on the P.R.U. cover as the North East corner of the sector allotted to Nos. 50 and 61 Squadrons.

[Underlined] DAMAGE ASSESSMENT [/underlined]

The greater part of the central core of the town was contained in the central sector shown on the tracing overlay. The two boundary sectors also contain a portion of this central core, all of which was fully built up and therefore highly vulnerable to incendiary attack. Whilst the primary intention of the raid was to destroy the central core of the town, two squadrons were allotted to an area to the East and North East which is less fully built up, as a trial to see what damage could be achieved by a small force.

An examination of photographs shows that of the three markers remaining after Marker D had become extinguished, only A showed up clearly, and that markers B and C became covered by incendiaries from a load released short, and may not have been clearly visible to bomb aimers. This left the extreme Westerly T.I. clearly visible throughout the attack and as a


[Page break]


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[Photograph with Overlay Showing Bombing Sectors] BRUNSWICK 14/15 OCTOBER.

[Page break]

[Underlined] INCENDIARY ATTACKS [/underlined]

result all incendiary loads had a tendency to fall in the Westerly part of a central sector or else in the Western sector, or even West of this. There was also a tendency for loads to overshoot rather more than planned. As far as it is possible to estimate from available data about 90% of the loads other than those which were dropped loosely outside the area, fell within the central core of the town but only a few scattered sticks on the N.E. area. This was clearly due to crews using the Westerly marker as their datum point, thus shifting the whole area of attack some hundreds of yards to the West.

[Underlined] CONCLUSION [/underlined]

It can be seen that the greater part of the central core of the town has been completely destroyed, and that there has also been some damage in the more Northerly sectors. Damage in the North East sector is slight due to the shifting of the marking point. The attack therefore illustrates the manner in which any marker wide of the concentration will draw on itself undue attention. It also illustrates the harm that can be done by loads of incendiaries dropped on the markers thus making them difficult to see. Apart from these two points the attack was extremely well carried out, timings were accurate, winds found were excellent and the great majority of aircraft attacked exactly on the headings laid down. Incidentally one reason for the marker which went wide was the tendency on previous attacks for some crews before H hour. As a result of experience the Mosquito markers who are marking from below 1,000 feet like to be clear of the target with a minute or two in hand. It is obviously essential that the markers should not be hurried in their task and crews must on no account bomb before H hour unless the Master Bomber calls them in earlier.


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war effort

[Table of Sortied Carried Out with Results by Squadron]

[Underlined] NOTES: [/underlined] Squadrons are placed in the above table in order of “Successful sorties per aircraft on charge”. In view of their special duties, Nos. 9, 49, 83, 97, 617 and 627 Squadrons are shown separately. In cases where a crew has flown in an aircraft of another Squadron, the sortie is divided between the two Squadrons.

Squadrons above establishment are calculate on an establishment of 20.

[Drawing] training

[Underlined] CATEGORISATION OF PILOTS. [/underlined]

During the month the scheme for the Categorisation of Heavy Bomber pilots in the Group was issued. Full details are contained in this Headquarters’ letter reference 209/Trg. dated 18th November, 1944. The success of this scheme depends on co-operation between Squadron/Flight Commanders and the Squadron Instructors to see that crews are available for their initial and 10 and 20 Sortie Checks so that a Category can be awarded or revised.

The Squadron Instructor has a vital responsibility. He must be thoroughly familiar with Pilots’ Notes for the Lancaster, relevant Air Staff Instructions and in particular No.5 Group Aircraft Drills. Some Squadrons have already completed a number of Category Tests, which incidentally are done in the New Crew Check and 10 and 20 Sortie Checks. No separate test is necessary.

A preliminary examination shows that some of the Category Test Proformas have been completed accurately, others show a definite tendency to overmark. An [underlined] A+ [/underlined] Category should not be lightly awarded because it amounts to an “Exceptional” assessment. One proforma showed 100% marks for Captaincy! Section No.8 requires special care. A pilot scoring full marks for Captaincy must be faultless (and we’re all human).

The number of pilots categorised in the ten days following the introduction of the scheme is as follows:-

[Table of Pilot Categorisations by Base]

A total of 177 New Crew and 10/20 Sortie Checks were done during the month (including the Category tests in the above table), leaving 101 checks outstanding. Nearly half the outstanding checks were in 56 Base, where a temporary shortage of aircraft, absence of dual sets and a deficiency of a Squadron Instructor, gave the Base more than its share of problems.

Total squadron training hours amounted to 4,000 hours day, and 1,300 hours night – about 700 hours less than the previous month. (We blame the weather again). Now that the Winter is on us the old skeleton (“No training – aircraft are bombed-up”) is rattling its ancient bones. Lock it up. We’ve heard the jingle before. If the Met. gives half a chance of training, get a couple of aircraft per Flight de-bombed as soon as the operation is cancelled.


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[Underlined] TRAINING. [/underlined]

[Underlined] FIGHTER AFFILIATION AND 1690 B.D.T. FLIGHT. [/underlined]

Fighter affiliation results are encouraging. Squadrons did a grand total of 1105 exercises on 500 details – nearly two exercises per gunner in the Group.

Night affiliation by squadrons continues to climb to higher figures. This time it totalled 314 exercises of which 76 were done with 100 Group Mosquitoes, and the remainder with 1690 B.D.T. Flight. This was the fourth successive month to show an increase.

1690 B.D.T. Flight during the month was reduced from 26 aircraft to 12 by the withdrawal of the Spitfires and Martinets. It continued, however, to assist No.7 Group with day and night details for 75 Base, and a few night details for 72 Base. The Flight flew 560 hours on 670 details. Pilots averaged 23 hours, the Hurricanes 33 hours, the Spitfires 16 hours and the Martinets 9 hours.

Night affiliation by the Flight was the highest ever, rising from 94 details in October to 139 in November, thus exercising nearly 300 gunners in the hours of darkness; (a first rate performance bearing in mind the persistent bad weather).

It is satisfying to hear on the hook-up that on one night the Flight booked 33 night details. They were not all done owing to the weather, but on the night of 28th November, 22 details were completed – a record night for the Flight. On five nights on the last week of the month, 89 details were done. This shows what can be achieved when the weather is fit. Incidentally, the moon was up. Bear in mind that affiliation on dark nights provide the real test.

[Underlined] 5 L.F.S. TRAINING. [/underlined]

Unusually bad weather during the month affected No.5 L.F.S. Only two days during the month were fit for full flying, but despite this, and repairs to the perimeter track, full advantage was taken on of every opportunity and 5 L.F.S. completed the training of 92 crews for squadrons and had 11 crews within a day of finishing their course at the end of the month. The total of 92 crews was 6 crews in excess of Command estimate.

The Unit flew a total of 1344 hours. The average hours flown per aircraft on charge was 48. There were two avoidable accidents during the month. The rigorous policy of “quality and not quantity” is being followed and three crews have already been put up for disposal on the grounds of poor captaincy.

The crews posted during the month averaged 12 hours 35 minutes training at the Unit, nearly 2 hours more than the previous month. This was largely due to extra time being given to the short cross country exercise to give additional navigational instruction. Loran training has also been introduced and crews are getting 7 hours ground training on their course.

12 Instructors were recategorized by E.C.F.S. during the month. Two obtained A2 Categories and the remainder B Categories ([Underlined] Note: [/underlined] These Categories have no relation to the Pilots’ Categorisation Scheme introduced by 5 Group). The Examining Flight expressed the opinion that the standard of instruction at 5 L.F.S. was slightly above the average for Four Engined Training Units.

The next month’s commitment for 5 L.F.S. is 100 crews, less wastage. If the weather is reasonable, the Unit can do it as it always has in the past.


[Page break]

[Underlined] TRAINING. [/underlined]

[Underlined] INSTRUMENT FLYING (LINK). [/underlined]

[Underlined] NEW EXERCISES. [/underlined]

The exercises in the Instrument Flying Syllabus on the Link are being revised to include exercises designed to cover operational procedure, and to practice more thoroughly and stimulate the pilot’s interest in keeping his I.F. up to scratch.

[Underlined] NEW LINK TRAINERS. [/underlined]

When installation of the new Link Trainers is complete, there will be one available for each squadron in the Group. This will put the ideal squadron monthly total times for pilots (50 – 60 hours) within reach of every squadron. Many squadrons will have double the amount of Link Time available. This extra time can only be used efficiently if a Link Trainer Programme is organised and kept going by the officer detailed by the squadron for co-ordination of I.F. and Link Training (Air Staff Instruction TRG/3 refers).

[Underlined] PRIMARY OBJECT OF THE LINK TRAINER. [/underlined]

Units whose Flight Engineers have done double the time of the Pilots seem to have lost sight of the primary object of the Link Trainer; that is to keep pilots in constant practice in all forms of instrument flying. The ideal is for pilots and flight engineers times to be equal.

[Underlined] LINK TIMES. [/underlined]

Squadron Link hours generally are improving. The total pilot times were [underlined] DOUBLE [/underlined] the previous month. There are, however, still weak places in the chain, which are easily visible from the training return. Two squadrons in both 53 and 54 Bases and one in 55 Base have done less than 20 hours pilot time per month.

[Table of Link Trainer Times by Base and Squadron]

GRAND TOTALS: Pilots – 742 hours. Flight Engineers- 764 hours. Other Aircrew – 101 hours.


[Page break]

[Drawing] gunnery

[Underlined] “DECLINE AND FALL OF THE G.A.F.” [/underlined]

[Underlined] DESTROYED. [/underlined]

2.11.44 – “D” – 207 Sqdn. – FW.190 C.
2.11.44 – “D” – 227 Sqdn. – JU.88 C.
4/5.11.44 – “L” – 227 Sqdn. – 2 Jet A/c.
6/7.11.44 – “R” – 630 Sqdn. – FW.190 C.
6/7.11.44 – “X” – 61 Sqdn. – JU.88 C.
6/7.11.44 – “X” – 61 Sqdn. – Jet A/c.
6/7.11.44 – “J” – 467 Sqdn. – Jet A/c.
6/7.11.44 – “R” – 227 Sqdn. – Jet A/c.

[Underlined] PROBABLY DESTROYED. [/underlined]

4/5.11.44 – “S” – 207 Sqdn. – ME.109 C.

[Underlined] DAMAGED. [/underlined]

6/7.11.44 – “B” – 189 Sqdn. – JU.88 C.

Claims annotated ‘C’ have been confirmed by Headquarters, Bomber Command.

From a total of 84 combats during the month, 7 were claimed to have been with jet propelled aircraft of which 5 were claimed as destroyed. The other claims stand at 4 destroyed, 1 probably destroyed, and 1 damaged, all of which have been confirmed by Headquarters, Bomber Command. The correct identity of the reported jet aircraft is now under consideration by the experts and no claims are being considered until a decision has been reached as to whether these phenomena are in fact jet propelled aircraft or some form of jet projectile.

Two aircraft were surprised by under attacks. The first warning being when the aircraft was hit by cannon fire. In both cases the aircraft were extensively damaged and casualties to the crew incurred. The answer to these under attacks is 100% crew co-operation and correct and frequent “Banking Search”.

[Underlined] RESULTS OF C.G.S. COURSES. [/underlined]

W/O HANSON 97 Sqdn. Cat. ‘B’
F/O KETHRO 5 L.F.S. Cat. ‘B’.


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[Underlined] GUNNERY. [/underlined]

[Underlined] AIR TRAINING. [/underlined]

[Underlined] FIGHTER AFFILIATION. [/underlined]

[Underlined] ORDER OF MERIT. [/underlined]

[Tables of Fighter Affiliation Results by Squadron]

Note: Figures in the above table represent “Points”.

[Underlined] TOTAL OF AFFILIATION EXERCISES FOR NOVEMBER:- 1105. [/underlined]


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[Underlined] GUNNERY. [/underlined]

The Order of Merit will, in future, be based on a points system, points being allotted as follows:-

Night Affiliation with Camera and Infra Red Film 10 points
Night Affiliation without Camera 8 points
Day Affiliation with Gyro and Camera 5 points
Day affiliation with Camera 3 points
Day Affiliation without Camera 1 point

The total of night affiliation exercises continues to increase and it is hoped that the Gunnery Leaders will co-operate with Squadron and Flight Commanders to ensure that the maximum number of details are flown whenever operations and weather permit. The importance of this exercise cannot be over emphasised and the aim of every Squadron should be to achieve at least one exercise per crew per month.

It is apparent from the training returns that certain Squadrons are not making the maximum use of their Gyro camera assemblies during day affiliation exercises. These assemblies must be fitted on every possible occasion. Gunnery Analysis Officers are now established on each Squadron and it is their duty to assess the films taken during these exercises and to keep a proper for future reference for categorisation etc.

No. 53 Base are to be congratulated on setting the pace as regards outdoor night vision training. Each Squadron within the Base has fitted up a simple obstacle course which has been in use regularly by Squadron gunners. Other Bases would be well advised to follow the lead of No.53 Base in this simple, but very effective, practical form of instruction.


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Leave it to Smith [Drawing]

“Pass over yesterday’s fighter affil. reports will you Bill, and let’s see how some of those new crews are panning out. – Correct directions given – Range usually 800 yards – Range O.K. corkscrew appeared slow – Range 700 yards, corkscrew very good – Ranges generally good 600 to 650 yards – Range good – Range varied from 300 to 900 yards – gunners poor – corkscrew good. Who on earth was flying ‘N’ Nuts yesterday Bill – with two clueless gunners the crew can’t be anywhere near fit for operations?”

“One moment Dick – ‘N’ Nuts – that Clarkson – a new crew with only a Mid-Upper, but we put old Smith in there as Rear Gunner as he wants to get finished and since his old skipper went sick he’s had no crew; he only needs a half dozen to finish his second tour.”

“Smith always seems to have wads of clues, he’s certainly been operating for ages without getting himself bumped off. Quite a lot of the time as a spare too – the pilots seems to like to have him in the aircraft.”

“I suppose Bill, that Smith is O.K. Somehow we always seem to have taken it for granted. I must say he seemed very rusty when we gave him that Sighting test, didn’t he, but as he said, he’d only just come out of Sick Quarters and wasn’t feeling at all himself. We were going to give him another shot later on but somehow we never have. Let’s do it right away and clear our consciences. See if you can find him in the Gunnery Section as he’s not down for D.I. this morning, and as you go you might hand down the questions!”

Bill put his head into the Gunnery Section, W/O Smith, who was sitting by the fire greeted him enthusiastically. “Good morning, Sir, anything doing today?”

“Haven’t heard of anything as yet Mr. Smith, but in the meantime the Gunnery Leader wants you in his office.”

Mr Smith entered the Gunnery office not quite so enthusiastically. “Good morning Mr. Smith, come in and sit down. It seems a good morning to give you that sighting test again, but before we start that, what on earth happened in your fighter affil. show yesterday? – Look at this report – Range varied 300 to 900 yards. It’s appalling, isn’t it Mr. Smith?”

“Very bad indeed Sir, very bad indeed. I’ll go and chase up that new gunner in the Mid Upper right away, tell him to pull his finger out, Sir. You leave him to me Sir, I’ll see he’s ‘bang on’ in a few days.”

“But you know, Mr. Smith, he got a very good report from his Gunnery School, really a very good report. Of course, I know none of the crew have had any operational experience as yet, but that wouldn’t affect his range estimation would it?”

“Well Sir, you know how they turn them out these days, they’re not trained like us old stagers were. You leave him to me, Sir – a couple of ops and he’ll be quite O.K., in fact if you don’t mind, Sir, I’d like to start on him right away, no time like the present, Sir!” – Brr - Brr – Brr – Brr –

“One moment Mr. Smith while I answer the ‘phone” – “Gunnery Leader speaking – What – Maximum effort tonight – Flight planning at


[Page break]

[Underlined] LEAVE IT TO SMITH. [/underlined]

twelve. Right you are, thank you. Sorry Mr. Smith, I’m afraid you’ll have no time to teach your other gunner to-day as your crew is sure to be on the battle order and I’m afraid we’ll have to leave your sighting test over to another day as well, as I’ve got plenty to get on with at the moment.”

“Sorry about the sighting Sir, I was feeling just in the mood for a bit of sighting this morning. I’d have surprised you, Sir. Oh, and about that Mid Upper Sir, don’t you worry. I’ll be there myself Sir, and I’ll look after them all. You leave it to me, Sir. ‘N’ Nuts our aircraft again, Sir?” “Yes.” “Thank you Sir.”

‘N’ for Nuts was homeward bound. Her crew was feeling elated. They had bombed – they were well on the way back. The coast line showed ahead and beyond it the sea, pale in the moonlight.

“O.K. Mid Upper?”
“O.K. Pilot.”
“O.K. Rear Gunner?”
“On the job skip.”
“Good – we’re trusting to you Smithy if we get in trouble!”
“Skip, in this visibility, I could see a Jerry take off. Just leave it to me.”

‘N’ for Nuts was overdue. ‘N’ for Nuts was missing. In the Gunnery Section someone said “Poor old Smith, all the ops he’s done and then gets himself bumped off by flying with a sprog crew.”

Far away Unterleutnant Hans Hoffman was buying beer. His Gruppen-Fuhrer was pleased with him. He stood in front of the fire, a tankard in his hand. “Three time before I chase Lancaster, Lancaster see me coming, Lancaster corkscrew, I fire, I miss. Lancaster fire back, sometimes he hit me, sometimes not but always I miss. I am sprog. But last night things different. I see Lancaster, I chase, range 800 yards, 600, 500, 400, 300 yards, Lancaster still no corkscrew, no nothing. I press the button, I cannot miss – Lancaster go ‘pouf’. Lancaster fall in the sea. I feel I am no longer sprog. Lancaster sprog. I give my Lancaster a name to remember it by, I think of an English name, very English, I call my Lancaster ‘Schmidt’.”


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Second Thoughts for Pilots


I TAXY CAREFULLY – use the landing lamp at night.

II ON TAKE OFF – open the throttle slowly, easily & smoothly.


IV AVOID CUMULO-NIMBUS CLOUD – it’s the hazard of the overcast.

V BEFORE LANDING – always get a corrected Q.F.E.

VI WATCH THE APPROACH ACROSS THE BOUNDARY – 105 – 110 m.p.h. without bombs – 115 m.p.h. with bombs.

VII DON’T HAVE ACCIDENTS – [/underlined] OF ANY KIND!! [/underlined]


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[Blank Page]

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[Drawing] accidents

26 aircraft were damaged in accidents in the Group during November. 11 were totally destroyed, 4 are CAT. B, 7 CAT.AC, while 4 were only CAT. A. There is the possibility that two of these aircraft were lost as a result of enemy action, but out of the remainder, 21 were either destroyed or damaged [underlined] in accidents which were avoidable. [/underlined] L.F.S. damaged 2, leaving 19 to be chalked up against the squadrons. October produced 14. The Group, therefore, damaged 7 more this month. Bad weather or not, this is going the wrong way.

Here is the month’s list of avoidable accidents. Some of these accidents damaged more than one aircraft, so that the accident and damage totals do not tally:-

[Tables of Accidents for Squadrons and L.F.S.]

[Underlined] Q.F.E’S AGAIN. [/underlined]

Last winter a number of Lancasters crashed on return from long trips because pilots took no account of the dangers attending a large drop in barometric pressure after take off. Altimeters not reset to the lower pressure engendered a false sense of security and the aircraft either hit the sea when returning at low heights or undershot in bad visibility. Consequent upon these accidents Air Staff Instruction FC/19 dated 17.1.44 was issued, but what was thought to be a bogey well and truly laid has popped up again this month. Two aircraft were damaged, one in fact totally destroyed, in accidents of this nature.

One returned to a diversion airfield in very bad weather and crashed 300/400 yards short of the flarepath. The pilot says that just before hitting the ground his altimeter was reading 400 ft. He had tried to get a Q.F.E. by R/T but bad reception nullified his efforts. He then proceeded with his approach and good fortune alone prevented a fatal crash. No use was made of W/T to obtain the necessary Q.F.E., which on this particular night had dropped many millibars in a short time.

The other aircraft hit the water while making a long sea crossing on return from an operation. The pilot had been briefed that at certain positions the barometric pressure would be much lower than at the target or at base, and details were given. He came down low beneath cloud (contrary to orders at briefing which stipulated a return height


[Page break]

[Underlined] ACCIDENTS. [/underlined]

of 2500 ft) and hit the sea, with his altimeter still indicating some hundreds of feet. The pressure at the target was still on the instrument.

Read Air Staff Instruction FC/19 and get this Q.F.E. business buttoned up. Remember that falling pressures spell trouble. Talk to the Met. Officer anyway. You can’t know too much. Incidentally, the second of these two accidents again shows the danger of ignoring the flight plan.

[Underlined] COLLISIONS IN THE CIRCUIT. [/underlined]

Two aircraft from the same airfield returned from operations one night last month, and collided at the entrance to the funnel. – Fourteen lives were lost. The evidence put forward at the subsequent investigation was sufficient to show that the aircraft which called up first either made a very wide circuit or contacted Flying Control before reaching the call up position. The second pilot likewise, called up at the wrong positions and, further was at the wrong height when he did so. These digressions led to tragedy. The moral needs no pointing. 5 Group Quick Landing Scheme must be followed [underlined] to the letter, [/underlined] and any pilot who disregards this instruction in any way is a menace to his colleagues, who are just as keen as he is to get down to “bacon and eggs”. The importance of good flying discipline on the circuit cannot be too strongly impressed on pilots. Keeping a good lookout until the aircraft is safely back in dispersal with engines stopped is part of it.

[Underlined] TAXYING. [/underlined]

It is apparently impossible for a month to go past without a serious taxying accident. A feature of such incidents recently has been the failure of pilots to warn Flying Control that they are about to leave dispersal. Consequently, as happened in one particular incident this month, Flying Control did not have the chance to control the traffic on an airfield at night. This, allied with disobedience of taxying instructions and the absence of taxying lights or aldis lamp led to a bad collision at night. Sever disciplinary action is bound to follow accidents of this kind. There can be no excuse.

[Underlined] OBSCURE ACCIDENTS. [/underlined]

There are four obscure crashes this month still under investigation. At present there is insufficient known about them for the cause to be commented upon.

[Underlined] STAR AWARDS. [/underlined]

The table below gives details of avoidable accidents by squadrons for November. This table is not final. It only contains those accidents which are known definitely to be avoidable. A few will remain undecided till the results of investigations now in progress are known.

[Table of Avoidable Accidents and Star Awards by Squadron]


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[Drawing] armament

[Underlined] A VISIT TO FRANCE. [/underlined]

An account of the visit of a representative of this Headquarters to France will be of interest to all Armament personnel. This item under the heading “The Proof of the Pudding….” will give Armament personnel a very good idea of what devastation is wrought when bombs are delivered to the right place.

[Underlined] ARMAMENT BULLETIN. [/underlined]

The Armament Bulletin of December contains much valuable information, not only of interest to Armament personnel but also to Air Bombers and Air Gunners. In fact this issue contains much of particular interest to Air Bombers, so circulate your copy.

[Underlined] BOMB STORE – SUPERVISION. [/underlined]

Tour expired Aircrew Officers have become available for supervision work in bomb dumps. These officers have undergone a course of training and should be of great assistance to Armament Officers, and a further improvement in the general condition of the bomb dump is expected.

[Underlined] INCENDIARY STORE HOUSE. [/underlined]

The trials with the large incendiary store house which are being carried out at East Kirkby are now almost completed, and in the near future details of the most satisfactory lay-out will be available to Units.

[Underlined] ARMAMENT FAILURES. [/underlined]

The Armament failures table would have shown considerable improvement had it not been for Col. ‘C’ – ‘Icing’. Col. ‘F’ – ‘Obscure’ is however, still far too popular. An improvement has been shown over last month with 23 as against 29 obscure failures. These obscure failures are causing more concern to the armament staff at this Headquarters than failures which are classed under other headings, because steps can usually be taken to remedy a known fault, whereas if the fault remains obscure it may well recur frequently before it is finally diagnosed. It is, therefore, essential that greater efforts be made to obtain all possible information regarding these obscure failures, thus tracking the “gremlin” to his lair where he can be dealt with. Column ‘A’ tells its own tale and is a matter which should be brought to the attention of Bombing Leaders.

[Underlined] CO-OPERATION. [/underlined]

The armament staff at this Headquarters are always out to help the armament staffs at Bases and Stations in every way possible, but it is felt that many of the questions passed direct to this Headquarters concerning equipment and transport etc. could well be dealt with by the appropriate branch at Station and Base level. The equipment chapter of this number of well worth reading.


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[Underlined] ARMAMENT FAILURES TABLE [/underlined]

[Table of Armament Failures by Squadron]


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the proof of the pudding….

We assembled at Headquarters, Bomber Command, for a final briefing on the programme we were going to carry out. The object of the visit was to examine French targets which had been subjected to concentrated bombing by Bomber Command aircraft.

The targets visited included the following:-

ISLE D’ADAM – storage site.
ST. LEU D’ESSERENT – flying bomb storage site in limestone caves.
WIZERNE – storage and probable firing site for flying bombs, situated in a chalk quarry.
WATTEN – probably intended for the storage and manufacture of hydrogen peroxide.
MIMOYECQUES – site tunnelled into solid chalk and probably intended for V2, or some other unknown weapon.
JUVISY – Marshalling yard.
TRAPPES – Marshalling tard.

From Le Bourget we travelled to Paris by road in two cars which had been put at our disposal by S.H.A.E.F. and which were to remain with us for the rest of the visit. Our first job in Paris was to visit the Army Headquarters and obtain sufficient rations to tide us over for five or six days, since we were not permitted to purchase food from French cafes or restaurants. We then travelled to a very comfortable hotel situated near the Arc de Triomphe, where we were to be the guests of the American Forces for our first night in Paris, and although the majority of buildings in France are without any form of heating we were lucky enough to be billeted in a hotel which had all the comforts of home. The following morning at 0930 hours we loaded our kit in the cars and set off for Isle d’Adam.

[Underlined] ISLE D’ADAM [/underlined]

This site consisted of a number of wooden storage huts with reinforced brick chimney stacks and situated in thick woods. The huts were sunk approximately 12 to 15 feet below ground level and the surrounding earth had been reinforced with sloping brick walls.

The whole site had been subjected to concentrated bombing with medium calibre bombs, all huts having been severely damaged. The majority in fact were completely demolished apart from the brick chimney stacks which were still standing. Approximately 3/4 of a mile from the storage huts was a large chateau reputed to have been used by the German officers controlling the site. This chateau had also received damage from several 1000 lb. bombs and although not entirely uninhabitable, a great deal of damage had been done to one side of the building exposing a maze of twisted steel girders and blasted concrete. The woods in which this site was situated were dotted with numerous one-man foxholes sunk approximately 4 feet deep, carefully boarded up to form a small firing aperture and provided with a small and very uncomfortable wooden seat. Having satisfied ourselves that no above-surface storage huts


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[Underlined] THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING… [/underlined]

could withstand concentrated H.E. bombing, we ploughed our way back through the mud, and set off again for St. Leu d’Esserent.

[Underlined] ST. LEU D’ESSERENT. [/underlined]

This site had been constructed some years ago by tunnelling into the limestone and had been cleaned up in recent years and used for the storage of flying bombs. The whole cliff area had been excavated to form two main tunnels and numerous intercommunicating passages and storage bays covering many hundreds of yards. So complicated was the layout inside these tunnels that the Hun had found it necessary to number all passages and bays, and to paint arrows on the walls to prevent anyone from becoming lost; in spite of this, we did experience a certain amount of difficulty in finding our way into daylight again.

Bomber Command’s attack had resulted in three separate subsidences of the tunnel roof, one by a Tallboy hit which had completely sealed one the main tunnel and crushed two flying bombs complete with warheads. The remaining two had apparently been caused by multiple hits with 1000 lb. bombs. Unfortunately it was not possible to make a complete examination of the damage due to the presence of mines.

Many bomb trolleys and hydraulic jacks were found, the majority of which were badly damaged although there were some serviceable items. The entire area between the caves and the River Oise had been very heavily hit by H.E. and French labour was being employed in clearing up the devastation to railway lines, roads etc. The empty case of a 250 lb. Red T.I. was seen approximately 50 yards from the railway lines between the railway and the caves. Unfortunately the village of St. Leu d’Esserent was very close to the site and as must invariably happen, had received considerable damage.

Having decided that we had seen enough for one day we set off again for Amiens where we were to be billeted for the night. The procedure for obtaining a billet is very simple. Each town in France has its Town Major who is responsible, amongst other things, for the billeting of all troops either staying in or passing through the town, and it was he who furnished us with the necessary chits to obtain a night’s lodging in the official hotel. Unfortunately Amiens is one of the towns without heating and those of us who had brought additional blankets found that they came in very useful. At first we were billeted two in a room and each pair had to toss up as to who would be the lucky one to sleep in the bed, the unlucky one having to spend the night on the floor!! Fortunately several rooms were vacated later in the day which enabled us all to spend the night in comparative comfort. No food was provided at the hotel and once again we had to resort to the use of our tinned rations – hash, meat and beans.

We left Amiens at 0900 hours intending to visit the sites at Wiserne and Watten and push on to St. Omer for the night. On the way to Wizerne however, we came across a temporary flying bomb launching ramp at Crepy only 20 yards from the main road, so we took the opportunity of checking up on this structure. The ramp had been bombed and badly damaged by H.E. and, in addition, the Hun had taken the precaution of demolishing the loading end of the ramp. Nevertheless, it was possible to get a very good idea of what the finished job looked like. The ramp itself was approximately 2ft. 6 inches wide and mounted on small steel girders at an angle of approximately 35° to 40° to the horizontal. The ramp had been snapped in the centre and it was not possible therefore, to estimate to what height it had originally projected. A large crater some yards from the end of the launching ramp was mute evidence of a flying bomb which had “returned early” and two incomplete flying bombs were also seen some yards from the launching ramp.


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[Underlined] THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING… [/underlined]

[Underlined] WIZERNE. [/underlined]

The Wizerne site situated in a chalk quarry, is reputed to have been constructed by several thousand prisoners assisted by Italian labour and work was commenced in the Summer of 1943. The centrepiece of the site is a large concrete dome approximately 300 feet in diameter and 12 feet thick on the circumference. This thickness was undoubtedly greater in the centre of the dome, and at the time of his departure, the Hun was in the process of dumping an additional layer of soil on top of the dome. Around the circumference of the dome was a collar approximately 25 feet wide reinforced by huge concrete buttresses. It is not known whether these buttresses supported this collar round its entire periphery or whether they were utilised as additional supports at the front of the quarry where the collar protruded slightly over the quarry edge. Three such buttresses were, however, plainly visible as the result of a Tallboy hit on the face of the quarry just below the collar, and which had brought down part of the cliff face.


Just below and slightly to the left of the dome is a concrete structure (pointing in the direction of London) which was presumed to be a launching ramp as its vertical walls were grooved for the mounting of launching rails. This launching tunnel has been canted over several degrees by the Tallboy hit referred to above.

A series of tunnels approximately 18 feet across, had been cut through the chalk and extended inside the quarry for approximately 500 yards. These tunnels formed the workings, the main entrance of which was along the railway track below and to one side of the dome at normal ground level. At the end of these tunnels a vertical shaft approximately 100 feet deep extended to the surface. This shaft was permanently reinforced with timber and may probably have been intended as a lift shaft.


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[Underlined] THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING… [/underlined]

It was in the neighbourhood of this shaft that a Tallboy had hit the edge of the quarry face and buried several hundred workers. Royal Engineers, who were making a survey of this site, were faced with the difficulty and unpleasant task of removing tons of rock and chalk to ascertain whether the bodies inside contained any useful information.

The whole area outside the excavations, which was littered with railway lines, machinery, cranes and subsidiary buildings, had been very badly damaged by H.E.

It was interesting to note that the concreting of the tunnels was in sections and no effort appeared to have been made to interlace the various sections. Consequently a hit by a 1000 lb. bomb upon the entrance had penetrated and blown one complete section of tunnelling (approximately 12 feet thick) several feet away from the rest of the tunnel.

One member of the party was fortunate enough to have paid a previous visit to this site and was able to take us to a cottage nearby where the good lady heated up our rations for us and also provided a very welcome bottle of beer with our lunch and the usual bowl of black coffee.

[Underlined] WATTEN. [/underlined]

We left Wizerne soon after lunch for the site at Watten, a building which produced one of the biggest mysteries of the trip and provoked much argument as to its intended use. The site consisted of a reinforced concrete building located at the edge of a vastly wooded forest. The building is approximately 50 feet wide and contains four floors each divided into numerous rooms, and storage bays all heavily reinforced with concrete. The whole structure is built around a skeleton of steel girders supported internally by the numerous dividing walls.

One Tallboy hit on top of the main structure had dislodged a huge piece of concrete reputed to weigh approximately 300 tons and had dropped it on to a small concrete outbuilding. Attempts had been made to repair the damage caused to the roof by this Tallboy hit, and the majority of the concrete had already been relaid. A Tallboy crater whose edge was only a few feet from the main building and which was approximately 100 feet in diameter, had apparently caused no damage to the structure.

This site had to be approached on foot and the devastation on the way to the target was indescribable. Hundreds of trees had been torn up in the forests and large areas had been completely cleared of the timber as a result of this concentrated bombing.

It was interesting to note that the Hun had made some effort to camouflage the entrance of this site, particularly over the rail track.

We arrived at St. Omer in the early evening and once again the Town Major did his stuff and found us a billet in a French hotel, again without heating. Our first job was to hand over our rations to our landlady who served these up for us on a large table in the centre of what in this country would be the public bar, the locals sitting around in their chairs taking a very great interest in all that was going on. Our entertainment that evening was provided for us at the hotel, as luckily a dance had been laid on. We were amazed to see how much the French idea of dancing differs from ours.


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[Underlined] THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING… [/underlined]

[Underlined] BOULOGNE. [/underlined]

On Sunday morning we set off for Mimoyecques but made a slight detour on the way and inspected the docks at Boulogne. Destruction in the dock area was very heavy, some of which had been caused by bombing, but the majority by demolition. In spite of this several large unloading points had been established. The town of Boulogne was also very badly hit, presumably by shelling, and whole areas of the town had been completely flattened. Several concrete pill-boxes were seen in the dock area, all of which were marked with a large red cross and it was believed that they were used for the German wounded.

[Underlined] MIMOYECQUES. [/underlined]

Our next target, Mimoyecques, consisted of one main tunnel approximately 1000 yards long which runs from S.E./N.W. into the chalk hillside, and running throughout the full length of the tunnel is a railway track. Lateral tunnels branch off from this main tunnel at regular intervals, all of which are approximately 16 feet wide and have cemented dome shaped roofs. These lateral tunnels join up with a further passage parallel to the main tunnel and from this passage several inclined shafts led up to what was presumed to be the firing platform. On top of the hillside are six vertical shafts descending to the bottom floor, two of which had received direct hits from small calibre bombs (the tail unit of a 500 lb G.P. was found nearby) The general appearance on top of the hill was that of a ploughed field and it was almost impossible to define individual craters. Several Tallboy craters were, however, seen, one which had pierced and blocked the tunnel in which the labourers had been working.

Here again the Major in charge of the surveying party informed us that several hundreds of workers were known to have been trapped in the tunnel, thinking that the safest place during a raid was this “bomb proof” excavation.

Engineers had just commenced to survey this site and were busy collecting all papers etc. which had been left by the Hun. One of the papers discovered was a roll of personnel employed on the construction of the site and included Russians, Flemish, French and Spanish workers and it is understood that large numbers of Russian women were employed as slave labour on this site. Several of the rooms in the hillside had been used as dormitories and heavy locks on the doors suggested that some of the workers had been locked in at night to prevent their escape. A further room had been set aside for use as a sick quarters and it was interesting to see that crepe paper bandages had been in use.

Our next two targets being Juvisy and Trappes marshalling yards both in the Paris area, we decided to return to Paris direct from Mimoyecques and not, as had previously been intended, to spend a second night at St. Omer. The fact that night life in Paris was in full swing and that our comfortable hotel was still at our disposal had nothing, of course, to do with our decision.

[Underlined] JUVISY AND TRAPPES. [/underlined]

Our first impression on visiting the marshalling yards at Juvisy and Trappes was that both targets had been very much saturated by bombing and it is impossible to give any idea of the complete devastation of the entire areas covered by the marshalling yards. It is estimated that it will take the very minimum of 12 months to bring any semblance of order into either of these targets. Locomotives had been hurled one on top of the other, lines had been turned up and flung against rolling


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[Underlined] THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING… [/underlined]


stock, repair sheds, engine rooms and other buildings had been severely damaged. The French were rather annoyed to think that we had attacked the yards at an angle, resulting in severe damage to a neighbouring village, and not up and down the lines. Our French not being particularly good we did not make any effort to teach them the theory of bombing.

The following day we were due to return to this country but were able to spend a few hours in the morning shopping in Paris. This may sound attractive but on looking at prices in the various shops a few thousand francs did not go very far. If one wishes to purchase any small gold object such as a brooch, it is first necessary to surrender the equivalent amount of gold by weight before the purchase can be made; thus you pay a very high price for workmanship involved and not for the quality of the gold.

Transportation throughout France is very difficult. No issue of petrol is made to civilians and what few cars are seen all provide their own fuel (producer gas), and it is a common sight to see a car pull up and the driver get out and stoke up the fire before proceeding!! Taxis in Paris have completely disappeared and have been replaced by cycle taxis and handsome cabs, the cycle taxis consisting of a home made carriage of numerous designs and towed by a bicycle.

Many of the famous monuments in Paris, including the Arc de Triomphe are badly bullet scarred from snipers who held out after the city had been occupied and several incidents of street to street fighting would be seen at several points.

At 1530 hours we took off from Le Bourget for Croydon. This time the trip was far more interesting as the weather was comparatively good and we were able to get a final aerial view of bomb scarred France.


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[Drawing] aircrew safety

Two known ditching incidents occurred this month – a Lancaster of 83 Squadron accidentally struck the sea in the Wash and finally came to rest on a sandbank, the crew of six being saved; a Mosquito of 627 Squadron having contacted Sundburg airfield in the Shetlands, on V.H.F. disappeared without trace.

The Operational Research Section at Bomber Command Headquarters has been studying the incidents of ditching within the Command, and a copy of this report has been sent to each station under cover of letter reference 5G/251/26/ASR dated 20th November, 1944.

The report, on very sound arguments, draws the conclusion that the proportion of Command’s losses over the sea to the total can be as high as 26%. It is clearly shown that many more rescues have been made of crews who have used radio than of crews who have not, but at the same time it is pointed out that more rescues could have been effected had the crews concerned carried out the [underlined] correct [/underlined] W/T procedure and started this procedure at the [underlined] first sign of trouble. [/underlined]

The waste of valuable crews will continue until captains of aircraft realise the necessity of quick radio action when in trouble (this can always be cancelled should the emergency pass) and the need for more and more Dinghy Drill practice.

There are no grounds to suppose that aircrew are any more prepared for emergency abandonment by parachute than they are for ditching, so that a large number of casualties must also occue [sic] through lack of practice in Parachute Drills.


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[Drawing] flying control

American Hight Lighting is now installed at 15 U.S.A.A.F. stations and at a few stations in Bomber Command. It is essential that aircrews should be acquainted with the lay-out of this “high intensity lighting for low visibility”. Senior Control Officers should ensure that the information is given to aircrews at lectures, in case any station with the installation uses it on diversion.

On this matter of diversion, keep up your lectures on the Bomber Command Standard procedure. There are still occasions when diverted aircraft are said to use “any method except the Standard procedure”. Local divergences create hazards. If even one reply on R/T is varied, if some unusual auxiliary lights are laid, if the Airfield Lighting is misused, hazards are created for visitors, and even greater hazards for your own aircrews. They become so accustomed to the local variations that, when they are diverted, a standard lay-out “foxes” them, reduces landing times and may even imperil other aircrews if the visibility is clamping down. Overhaul the whole of your local lay-out, ensure that it complies with A.P.3024, and Air Staff Instructions, and above all, see that even if it does comply, it has not little local “extras” which will deceive a visitor.

If you have any ideas that, in your opinion, would help, submit them, but do not put them into practice until a test has been agreed upon. Remember, that however good and practical your idea may be [underlined] for local application [/underlined] it may be unsuitable for universal use and may be turned down on those grounds alone. Remember, too, that almost all existing lighting and power circuits are loaded to capacity. A few extra lights here or there may not seem much, but may turn the scales sufficiently to impair the use of the operational teleprinter at your Headquarters.

Landing times for November, set out below, are based on returns received from Stations. “Dead” times have already been deducted in accordance with instructions from Headquarters, Bomber Command.

[Underlined] LANDING TIMES FOR NOVEMBER [/underlined]

[Table of Landing Times by Base and Station]


[Page break]

[Drawing] equipment

[Underlined] EQUIPMENT AND HOW TO GET IT. [/underlined]

Once upon a time, a man, who laboured in the town of Wadd and was named Serg Armt, finding he lacked something for the machine he worked with, straightaway sent a message to his superiors at Wadd, his Overlords at Mort and the Kings of Wick, asking for this something which his machine lacked.

But alas! – all Serg Armt received was a message from the Kings of Wick, saying “We are not a Maintenance Unit”.

Nevertheless, the men at Mort, who received the original message, immediately spoke words to Equip of Wadd who as once went and gave Serg Armt the something he required. Thus the machine had been repaired before the message from the Kings of Wick arrived at Wadd.

[Underlined] MORAL. [/underlined]

They say two sides of a triangle are together longer than the third. So in future ask the Station Equipment Officer first. That’s why he’s there.

[Underlined] RADIATOR SUPPLY. [/underlined]

Equipment Officers will see that the Radiator Group Pool system is to continue. We hope now that Command have control of issues the difficulties in getting radiators will be lessened.

[Underlined] URGENT DEMANDS. [/underlined]

A.M.O. A.481/43 has been added to by A.M.O. A.1109/44. Equipment Officers should draw the attention of all Specialist Officers to this new A.M.O.

[Underlined] NEW REGISTERS. [/underlined]

This month sees the introduction, at two Bases, of the new Manifold Voucher Registers. It is too early to give any comments on these Registers, but we hope by the end of the year to sum up their usefulness, and to overcome any faults. Base Equipment Officers should keep a watchful eye on their use, and report to Group any major difficulties that might arise.


A considerable amount of unnecessary discomfort is being given to airmen who have been posted without their laundry. Equipment Officers are to make sure that an airman, when posted, has been issued with kit to replace items at the laundry. Bomber Command letter BC/3000/13/E.2 dated 18th August, 1944, deals with this type of issue in detail.


[Page break]

education [Drawing]

November 15th was the date by which the Air Officer Commanding required Discussion Groups to be “in full swing”. Most stations have reorganised their teams of Group Leaders which had been allowed to become somewhat out of during the Summer. It is on these leaders that the success or failure of the schemes depends, since, properly led discussion groups are popular. So often does it happen, that an officer claims that meetings are regarded by the airmen and airwomen as a ‘bind’, - when really it is his own inadequate leadership that has made his group a failure.

Leaders must make some effort to find out what the scheme sets out to do, and the best way of achieving its aims. A great deal has been written about the object of the scheme, and if officers are still in doubt about how to set about running their group, they should contact their Education Officer and find out, rather than grope blindly into the work and only obtain average results. To new group leaders – your group will improve as they get to know you, and you learn by experience how to handle them, so don’t be discouraged if your first attempt is not as successful as you would have wished.

On December 16th, there is a Group One Day Course at the Usher Art Gallery in Lincoln on “National Insurance”. Speakers are men and women who have theoretical and practical knowledge of the scheme and should provide a great deal of useful information. Leaders, apart from those detailed, are invited to attend providing they give their names to their Education Officer.


[Page break]

[Drawing] engineering

[Underlined] GENERAL. [/underlined]

During the month of November only an average number of sorties was carried out by the Group but the hours flown were quite extensive, as also was the work carried out by the maintenance staffs.

The outstanding achievement of the month was the manufacture and fitting of the necessary parts for the fitment of Loran, all aircraft being completed within three weeks.

[Underlined] OPERATIONAL FIALURES. [/underlined]

C.T.O’s are reminded that the signal reporting failures must be sent off the day following the operation, and when the signal stated that the defect is under investigation, this must be followed up by a further signal when the cause of failure is known. If C.T.O’s do the reporting correctly, much telephoning will be avoided.

The operational failures increased over the previous month and were 1.77%.

The ‘Big Hand’ goes to Nos.9, 50 and 617 Squadrons for having no operational failures due to engineering during November, this being their second trouble free month is succession.

[Underlined] GROUND EQUIPMENT. [/underlined]

An improvement is noticeable throughout the Group in the maintenance of Group Equipment, though in some instances the equipment is still far short of the desired standard.

[Underlined] INSTRUMENTS AND ELECTRICAL. [/underlined]

The introduction of the Gyro Gun Sight into general service has necessitated the training of Instrument Repairers in the maintenance of the sight. A short course was instituted at Fulbeck which was attended by representatives from all Bases who profited well from the experience gained by Fulbeck personnel during the past 3 – 4 months. Details of the test equipment necessary for efficient maintenance has been circulated to all Bases and Stations, and these test sets must be manufactured locally as they are not yet available from Service sources.

The high light of the month was the sinking of the Tirpitz, and this cannot be allowed to pass without a special word of praise to those Instrument Repairers of Bardney and Woodhall who have tirelessly maintained the Bombsights. They can fell that they played their part with the aircrews in achieving this success.

[Underlined] TRAINING UNIT SERVICEABILITY. [/underlined]

[Table of 5 LFS Aircraft Serviceability]


[Page break]

[Underlined] ENGINEERING. [/underlined]

[Underlined] FLIGHT ENGINEERS. [/underlined]

In the near future all Flight Engineers will be categorised on their ability in the air and on the ground. It is hoped that by this categorisation the standard of Flight Engineers will be improved.

The categorisation will be divided into two parts – Air and Ground. The first part, Air, will consist of the 5 Group Lancaster Drills, log keeping, a technical examination and an examination on airmanship.

The second part, Ground, will be a practical test on refuelling aircraft, Daily Inspection Airframe and Daily Inspection Engines. It is appreciated that many Flight Engineers have not had the opportunity to learn as much about their aircraft from the technical aspect as would be desired; to overcome this, instructions on Airframe and Engines will be given in each squadron. When Flight Engineers have completed the second part they will receive a Certificate of Proficiency.

Keen competition is anticipated and it should be the desire of every Flight Engineer to obtain at least an ‘A’ pass; no doubt many will get the maximum – an ‘A+’ pass.

Instructions have been issued by Headquarters, Bomber Command, with regard to the flap operation of a Lancaster. Now that a standard drill has been laid down, Flight Engineer Leaders must instruct all their Flight Engineers to use this drill on all occasions, at the same time advising them always to check the flap gauge when flaps are selected fully down; if there is a tendency for flaps to creep back, the flap control should be brought back to the neutral position, and then reselected to the fully down position. Under no circumstances should the flap control be taken to the “up” position on the final approach as this may cause the aircraft to sink.

[Boxed] [Underlined] INTER-BASE SQUASH COMPETITION. [/underlined]

A/Cdr. Pope, D.F.C., A.F.C., Base Commander. 56 Base, has very kindly offered a silver challenge cup to be contested for within the Group in an Inter-Base Squash Competition on the American system.

Details of this latest 5 Group “Racquet” have already been circulated around the Bases, and it is hoped that the battles will be well under way early in the New Year, to decide who is to wrest the Trophy from the clutches of 56 Base.

In the meantime decision of the Competition is in the lap of the Gods. But there is no doubt that, as the bridegroom said some years later “The Best Man always wins”. [/boxed]


[Page break]

[Drawing] photography

The failures this month for night photography increased to 13.18% as compared with 4.92% for the previous month. This is a serious increase and while it is fully appreciated that inclement weather, particularly the incessant rain, is bound to have caused a certain number of failures, it cannot be stated that the increase quoted above entirely resulted from this cause.

During Winter months it is imperative that maintenance is thorough, and that efforts are made to eliminate all causes of technical failures, particularly those which are known as “avoidable”. Every photographer must bear in mind, that cameras are carried on operations for one purpose only, that is, to being back film which has been exposed over the target, and which, when processed, will result in plottable ground detail photographs from which the success of the raid can be assessed. Photographic personnel whether engaged upon camera maintenance or processing can, if they will make the necessary effort, reduce the number of technical failures to a much smaller figure.

In vetting the photographic failure reports which pass through this Headquarters, it is noted that when aircraft have not operated for several days there is always an increase in the failure rate immediately after a Stand Down period; furthermore, there are still too many unexplained failures, and in many cases the report is so obscure that it is of little value, mainly because the photographic personnel have failed to assess the evidence of the film correctly. This results in misleading other specialist officers to whom the film is passed. It should be the effort of all concerned to produce a photographic result which will be useful to the Air Staff, and when failures occur, get down to the proper cause and report it accurately.


[Page break]

[Underlined] ANALYSIS OF PHOTOGRAPHY. [/underlined]

[Table of Photographic Failures by Squadron]

[Page break]

[Drawing] decorations

The following IMMEDIATE awards were approved during the month:-

[Underlined] 9 SQUADRON [/underlined}


[Underlined] 44 SQUADRON [/underlined]


[Underlined] 83 SQUADRON [/underlined]


[Underlined] 617 SQUADRON [/underlined]


[Underlined] 627 SQUADRON [/underlined]


The following NON-IMMEDIATE awards were approved during the month:-

[Underlined] 9 SQUADRON [/underlined]


[Underlined] 44 SQUADRON [/underlined]


[Underlined] 49 SQUADRON [/underlined]


[Underlined] 50 SQUADRON [/underlined]


[Underlined] 57 SQUADRON [/underlined]


[Underlined] 61 SQUADRON [/underlined]


[Underlined] 83 SQUADRON [/underlined]



[Page break]

[Underlined] DECORATIONS. [/underlined]

[Underlined] 97 SQUADRON. [/underlined]


[Underlined] 106 SQUADRON [/underlined]


[Underlined] 207 SQUADRON [/underlined]


[Underlined] 463 SQUADRON [/underlined]


[Underlined] 467 SQUADRON [/underlined]


[Underlined] 619 SQUADRON [/underlined]


[Underlined] 627 SQUADRON [/underlined]



[Page break]

[Drawing] war savings

[Table of War Savings by Station]

NOTES: In column (a) above, A indicates the number of pence saved per head of strength.
B indicates the percentage of personnel saving.
and C indicates the total amount saved through the Unit Savings Group.

In column (b) above, the sum indicated as saved by Syerston, also includes the savings by deduction from Pay Ledgers for Fulbeck and Balderton.

In column (c) only stations with Class ‘A’ Camp Post Offices are included.


[Page break]

[Drawing] volte face

For day after day, and for year upon year
Of this utterly futile inordinate war
We’ve fought the unspeakable Gremlin;
From aircraft and engines, wherever they were,
We’ve harried and hounded and chased them galore,
And prevent the brutes from assemblin’.

Our aim was unvaried and clearly defined,
No quarter or mercy was ever displayed;
No cavilling, fear, or dissemblin’.
Undeterred by defeat, in our ranks you would find
A resurgence of effort – the foemen were made
To cower in their shelters a-tremblin’.

Yet with ultimate victory looming in sight,
The powers that rule us have altered their stand
And ordered a truce with the Gremlin;
And the tribe’s C.in C. is respectably dight
As a uniformed “wingco”, an officer grand,
(Or something quite closely resemblin’).

ANON. (CIRCA 1944).

[Boxed] The cover for this month’s News has been designed by Sgt. Morley of this Headquarters. Suggested designs are still invited from all personnel within the Group. [/boxed]


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“V Group News, November 1944,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 23, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/18550.

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