V Group News, December 1944

Title

V Group News, December 1944
5 Group News, December 1944

Description

Five Group Newsletter, number 29, December 1944. Includes a foreword by the Air Officer Commanding, and articles on tactics, operations, gardening, signals, navigation, this month's bouquets, radar navigation, air bombing, engineering, training, second thoughts for pilots, gunnery, armament, flying control, photography, aircrew safety, accidents, equipment, education, decorations, war savings, it happens every day, and war effort.

In accordance with the conditions stipulated by the donor, this item is available only at the International Bomber Command Centre / University of Lincoln.

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

1944-12

Contributor

Anne-Marie Watson

Rights

This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Format

68 printed sheets

Language

Type

Identifier

MStephensonS1833673-160205-18

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

V GROUP NEWS

[Stamp]

No 29. December, 1944

[Page break]

V GROUP NEWS

No 29. December, 1944.

[Page break]

Foreword by the A.O.C.

In this foreword I say Goodbye to 5 Group after two years of command, covering a period when the Group, in common with the other Groups in Bomber Command, has seen much hard fighting and very great damage inflicted on Germany. In particular, the Winter campaigns of 1942/43 and 1943/44 will be looked back upon in future years as outstanding examples of sustained courage and endurance on the part of the crews, some of whom made 12 or more attacks on Berlin alone. In those days neither the training organisation nor the factories could maintain a sufficient flow of crews and aircraft to keep pace with losses, and Squadrons were often 25% below establishment; but it was those campaigns, with the parallel campaigns by the U.S. forces, which were then arriving in strength, which finally put Germany on the defensive in the air. They forced her to turn over her production from bombers to fighters and to draw off for the protection of her industries many hundreds of aircraft which she badly needed to support her battle fronts. They marked the beginning of her decline as an Air Power.

During 1943 the new equipment which was beginning to come along was still far from perfect. There were no A.P.I’s to watch over course keeping; Gee and the D.R. Compass were still being introduced, and H.2.S. was yet to come; while systems of target marking were in their infancy. The past two years have, therefore, been periods of development and training which have had to be continued while a major campaign was in progress. In spite of the hard knocks which the Group has had to take, progress has been steady until, nowadays, targets are seldom missed when conditions are reasonably satisfactory.

The special technique against small targets which has been built up in this Group, based upon low level marking and off-set bombing, has achieved results which, in terms of bombs per acre over the target area, are unsurpassed by any other bombing force in the World. For this state of affairs, all in the Group share the credit – the aircrew for having down to a heavy training task at a time when they might hope that their period of arduous training lay behind them – the ground crews who have never failed to get an aircraft into the air if it was humanly possible to do so – the specialists in every branch for their ingenuity in servicing highly complicated mechanisms – and finally the whole body of personnel whose determination that the Group should never pull less than its full weight has been a great incentive to me personally and I believe to all the other senior officers throughout the Group.

It is, as a team, that the work has been done, and in saying Goodbye to its members, I include every officer, airman and airwoman in the Group. I thank you all for your extraordinary exertions over two difficult years and ask you to accept that the honour, which H.M. The King recently bestowed upon me as Air Officer Commanding, is a tribute to the growing list of targets destroyed and thus to the work of everyone in the Group.

I wish you all Good Luck.

V” group news. No. 29. December, 1944.

[Page break]

[Drawing] tactics

December has been marked by the first serious attempts by the G.A.F. to intercept Bomber Command aircraft in daylight. On two separate occasions formations of 30 to 40 ME.109’s and FW.190’s attacked bomber gaggles and succeeded in destroying several bombers before the fighter escort came to the rescue. The enemy fighters showed a marked disinclination to attack the main gaggles which tightened formation when attacked, but concentrated on picking off stragglers and aircraft in the thinly spaced parts of the bomber stream. Although corkscrewing by stragglers proved effective in some cases, the main gaggles carried out no combat manoeuvres. Several fighters were claimed destroyed or damaged, including a claim by one mid-upper gunner of two destroyed – a good effort.

Although during these attacks some bombers fired a few Green Verey cartridges the fighter escorts never saw them. Crews should therefore in future continue firing Greens until it is obvious that the fighter escort has seen and engaged the enemy.

German night fighters are still expending considerable energy and fuel without achieving much success, and have again failed this month to offer effective opposition even to deep penetrations. There are signs, however, that the lack of success over Germany may tempt the enemy to resume intruder activity over this country. With the large number of aircraft now operating and with no IFF in use it will be very difficult to detect intruders returning with the main stream, particularly if the return route to the Group area is from the North Sea. Suitable action is being taken to deal with this danger, but crews must remain on the alert over this country, particularly when circling the airfield lights preparatory to landing, and should view with extreme suspicion any twin-engined aircraft seen, even if it is burning navigation lights.

V” group news. No. 29. December, 1944.

[Page break]

[Drawing] operations

[Underlined] HEILBRONN – 4/5TH DECEMBER, 1944. [/underlined]

Master Bombers:- Town - W/Cdr. Smith
Marshalling Yards – W/Cdr. Shorthouse.

A force of 292 aircraft took off to attack the town and marshalling yards. Nos. 53 and 55 Bases and 106 Squadron were detailed to attack the town. Aircraft were spread over an 85° sector, and crews were to aim at the red markers, delaying release as ordered.

No.56 Base was to attack the marshalling yards, which were to be marked with Yellow T.I., aircraft to aim at the T.I. and delay release dor4 seconds.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined]

[Underlined] TOWN [/underlined] Weather over the target varied between no cloud and 5/10ths alt. cu. at 12/14,000 feet. Illumination and marking went according to plan, and the marking was assessed as accurate. The markers cannot be plotted on the night photographs. An initial tendency for the bombing to undershoot was corrected by the Master Bomber, and a good sector attack developed. An area of 2000 X 1500 yards has been wiped out, and on the West side damage is severe and widespread. Only the outermost suburbs to the South and West have escaped lightly.

[Underlined] MARSHALLING YARDS [/underlined] One Yellow T.I. was assessed as 100 yards South of the Marking Point, but the Master Bomber was unable to distinguish it from flares burning on the ground, so did not issue any instructions. Crews also had difficulty in identifying the marker, and approximately 50% attacked the town instead. Subsequent reconnaissance has revealed only limited damage to the yards.

[Underlined] GIESSEN – 6/7TH DECEMBER, 1944. [/underlined]

Master Bomber:- S/Ldr. Benjamin.

Target – Marshalling yards and town some 35 miles North of Frankfurt. Force 265 aircraft, the majority on the marshalling yards.

[Underlined] PLAN [/underlined] Normal marking and illumination were used. The marshalling yards were 1 1/2 miles South of the town, thus presenting a difficult marking problem. The solution was to select a common marking point to the South of the yards, and issue the marshalling yard force with two false wind vectors calculated to spread the bombs up the centre of the yard. The force on the town was to carry out normal overshoot procedure on a common heading.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined] Blind marking and illumination were good. One Red T.I. dropped visually is known to have been placed accurately on the marking point, while another has been plotted about 1 1/2 miles East of the town. It is apparent that the majority of crews attacked

“V” GROUP NEWS. No. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

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[Underlined] OPERATIONS. [/underlined]

the accurate T.I. while a small minority (which proved to be inexperienced crews) were attracted by the inaccurate marker. Photographs have shown that two sticks of incendiaries fell across the accurate T.I., one in the early stages of the attack, and another later. Only careless and slipshod bombing drill and failure to adhere strictly to briefing instructions could have been responsible for this.

Fortunately these loose sticks did not obliterate the accurate marker and a good concentration developed.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined]

[Underlined] MARSHALLING YARDS [/underlined] A heavy concentration fell on these yards, which almost entirely destroyed the round houses, and cause very considerable damage to rolling stock. At the Southern end of the yard, three tail bridges over the roadway were destroyed or very badly damaged, as were also the important fly-over bridges. The standard of concentration was equal to that on French marshalling yards.

[Underlined] TOWN [/underlined] The town has suffered heavily throughout, the main city area to the North being almost completely devastated by fire. Included in this devastation were a rubber works, the arsenal, the gas and water works, engineering works, and the power station.

[Underlined] URFT DAM – 8TH DECEMBER, 1944. [/underlined]

The Urft Dam lies a few miles south of Duren. In the event of an enemy withdrawal, he might well blow up the dam and flood the surrounding country, thus seriously impeding Allied ground forces.

206 aircraft were despatched in an attempt to breech the crest of the dam overflow, and so forestall any action by the enemy at a critical period. The dam itself was too strong to be destroyed even by ‘Tallboy’ bombs.

[Underlined] PLAN [/underlined] The main force were to attack in pairs of squadrons at five minutes [sic] intervals. Crews were to bomb visually.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined] Unfortunately 6 – 9/10ths cloud at 6 – 8,000 feet was encountered over the target, and only 128 aircraft identified and bombed. Due to weather conditions bombing was scattered and although hits were claimed, the dam was not breached.

[Underlined] URFT DAM – 11TH DECEMBER, 1944. [/underlined]

This target was again attacked in daylight by 233 aircraft.

[Underlined] PLAN [/underlined] Similar to previous attack, though the overall T.O.T. was shorter. Aircraft carrying 12,000 lb bombs were to attack last.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined] Once again the weather for bombing was bad, cloud being 5 – 9/10ths at 6 – 8000 feet. 176 aircraft bombed through gaps in the cloud, and claimed hits. Army ground reports claim six hits on the spillway, bit the hoped for erosion had not taken place, although some reduction in the water level was apparent.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] OPERATIONS. [/underlined]

[Underlined] OSLO FIORD – 13/14TH DECEMBER, 1944. [/underlined]

Master Bomber:- S/Ldr. Benjamin.

Sixty-one aircraft of No.54 Base were detailed to attack enemy shipping in Oslo Fiord. The chief target was the cruiser Koln. It was known that this ship had been very active recently, but the chief difficulty lay in locating it, as it returned to different berths after each operation.

[Underlined] PLAN [/underlined] No.54 Base provided their own illumination and marking. In the light of flares, Mosquitoes were to mark a selected position near the supposed anchorage of the ship, and the Lancasters were to aim visually.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined] The target was reported to have moved North from the briefed position. This made visual identification extremely difficult, and bombing results were not observed. The force started to bomb in the vicinity of the proximity markers. On instructions from the Master Bomber, bombing was shifted to a large merchant vessel in the centre of the harbour. A little later, a cruiser believed to be the Koln was identified lying some two miles West of the marking point, and those crews who had not already bombed were ordered to attack the new target. Bomb splashes were observed round the cruiser, but no damage has been established.

[Underlined] MUNICH – 17/18TH DECEMBER, 1944. [/underlined]

Master Bomber:- S/Ldr. Stubbs.

289 aircraft took off to attack this very important target, determined to atone for the last attack which was only partially successful. The illuminating and marking plan was normal, except that the visual Red T.I. were to be backed up with a White T.I. flashing ‘V’. The attack was to be in two man sectors, and bombing on the Red markers with overshoot as ordered.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined] Weather over the target was clear with good visibility. Marking and illumination went according to plan, and a good concentration of Red T.I. was achieved. Except for an initial stick of incendiaries which fell across the markers, crews reported good bombing and a successful sector attack. Although the town is of more substantial construction than other targets attacked successfully by this Group, day cover shows very considerable areas of severe damage spreading out from the main station, and covering the old centre of the town.

[Underlined] GDYNIA – 18/19TH DECEMBER, 1944. [/underlined]

Master Bomber:- W/Cdr. Woodroffe.

This large Polish port is the main base for what remains of the elusive German Fleet, and at the time of the attack all except two of the larger operational units were present, as well as a large concentration of U-boats, and merchant shipping. 227 aircraft attacked the target.

[Underlined] PLAN [/underlined] The target was out of range of Mosquitoes, so all marking was carried out by Lancasters. The target was to be illuminated blindly, and by the light of these flares a picked force of

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] OPERATIONS. [/underlined]

the best bombing crews were to attack the pocket battleship LUTZOW visually. Marking for the main attack was to be a stick of Red and Green T.I. dropped visually at the South Western side of the docks. The Master Bomber was to select the most accurate of these T.I’s and instruct the main force to bomb it with a false wind vector.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined] Weather over the target was clear, but with moderate visibility and a smoke screen late in the attack. A few crews identified the LUTZOW and bombed her, and the remainder joined in the main attack. Illumination and marking was good, and the most Southerly T.I. was accurately backed up. Due, however, to an error of calculation before take-off (a reciprocal wind was used), the Master Bomber’s navigator issued a strong wind vector, and the main weight of the attack fell to the North and West of the berth where the main naval units were lying. Although day photographs show no damage to the main fleet, and old SCHLESIEN class battleship is down by the stern, and damage is visible to warehouses, floating docks and merchant shipping.

Instead of an outstanding success the Group achieved some slight damage incommensurate with the weight of the attack. This attack affords a good example, which all should note, of the far reaching effect of small mistakes.

[Underlined] POLITZ – 21/22ND DECEMBER, 1944. [/underlined]

Master Bomber:- W/Cdr. Woodroffe.

207 aircraft took off to attack the synthetic oil plant, one of the most important and most heavily defended targets in Germany. It had already been attacked by American heavy bombers, but was back in full production at the time of the attack.

[Underlined] PLAN [/underlined] The target was to be marked blindly with Yellow T.I. and White flashing ‘V’. In the light of flares, the marking point was to be marked with a stick of Red and Green T.I. The Master Bomber was to pick out the most suitable T.I. and order main force to bomb it with a false wind vector set on the bombsight.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined] Weather at the target was clear, but an extensive smoke screen was in action which made visual identification of the target very difficult. In addition to this, a number of flares did not light until they struck the ground, and others ignited just above the ground. These were confused with the Yellow proximity T.I. and added still further to the difficulties of the Master Bomber and visual markers. Nevertheless, Marker I, identifying what he considered to be the marking point, dropped his stick of Red and Green T.I’s. The Master Bomber called for an assessment, and three separate and independent assessments were made, two of 200 yards North, and one of 200 yards N.E. On the basis of this, the Master Bomber instructed Link I to work out a wind vector assuming the T.I’s to be 300 yards North of the marking point. This was then issued, and the main force called in to attack.

Night photographs show that the markers were centred some 2,000 yards North of the target and the main weight of the bombing was displaced accordingly.

The bomb aimer of the marker aircraft which dropped the stick of Red and Green T.I’s claims to have identified visually the marking point in relation to three well defined pin points, and there is no evidence to show why the markers fell so far North.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] OPERATIONS. [/underlined]

[Underlined] ST. VITH – 26TH DECEMBER, 1944. [/underlined]

Master Bomber:- Provided by 8 (P.F.F.) Group.

The target was a concentration of armour, troops and supplies inside the salient made by the new German thrust on the Western Front. Conditions for take-off were bad with very poor visibility, and only 26 aircraft took off for the attack.

[Underlined] PLAN [/underlined] Target was to be marked by Oboe aircraft with Red T.I, backed up with salvoes of Red and Green T.I. Bombing was to be direct on the markers, or as ordered by the Master Bomber.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined] Crews reported marking accurate and on time, and bombing was well concentrated.

[Underlined] RHEYDT – 27TH DECEMBER, 1944. [/underlined]

Master Bomber:- Provided by 8 (P.F.F.) Group.

44 aircraft took off in conditions of poor visibility to attack the marshalling yards South of Munchen Gladbach, which were handling a large volume of military traffic for the German thrust on the Western Front.

[Underlined] PLAN] [/underlined] The method was controlled Oboe ground marking. The aiming point was to be marked initially with Red T.I., backed up with salvoes of Red and Green T.I. A Master Bomber was to direct the bombing.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined] Weather over the target was clear, and the first wave had no difficulty in identifying visually. The target was soon covered in a dense pall of smoke which tended to obscure the markers, but all crews reported a good concentration of bombing. P.R.U. cover shows severe damage in the yards, with a slight spread of bombing into the town area.

[Underlined] OSLO FIORD – 28/29TH DECEMBER, 1944. [/underlined]

Master Bombers: S/Ldr. Benjamin and W/Cdr. Petty.

Two forces totalling 67 aircraft took off to attack shipping in Oslo Fiord. The larger force had for its target the cruiser Koln, lying off Horten on the West side of the Fiord, and the secondary force was to bomb any shipping seen off Moss on the Eastern shore.

[Underlined] PLAN [/underlined] Due to the very bright moon it was decided to dispense with flare illumination. The marking force was to drop Wanganui flares and Flame Floats near any large vessel seen, and the main force was to attack visually, running up-moon.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined] Weather over the target area was clear, but a thin layer of cloud at 15/20,000 feet diffused the moonlight, and made deceptive shadows on the water. Neither force could identify shipping clearly, but several large ships were bombed with unobserved results. One large merchantman off Moss may have been damaged by several near misses, and a small ship seen on the early night photographs had disappeared by the close of the attack.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] OPERATIONS. [/underlined]

[Underlined] HOUFFALIZE – 30/31ST DECEMBER, 1944. [/underlined]

The target was a concentration of enemy armour, troops and supplies concentrated In and around a village a few miles North of Bastogne. 156 aircraft took off for an attack in the early hours of the morning.

[Underlined] PLAN [/underlined] The aiming point was to be marked with Red T.I. by Oboe aircraft, and crews were ordered to bomb direct. Due to the proximity of friendly troops, crews were ordered not to bomb unless the Red T.I. were positively identified.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined] 5 – 8/10ths cloud was encountered at the target, and only 90 aircraft bombed, reporting a good concentration of bombing around the markers. The remaining aircraft were unable to identify the Red T.I. so brought their bombs back to Base, as ordered.

[Underlined] OSLO FIORD – 31ST DECEMBER, 1944. [/underlined]

A force of 28 aircraft took off in search of shipping, especially the cruiser Koln, in the Fiord, including 12 aircraft of No.617 Squadron carrying 12,000 lb Tallboy bombs.

[Underlined] PLAN [/underlined] Marker aircraft were to illuminate the area and mark the ships and cruiser with Wanganui Flares and Flame Floats. Bombing was to be visual in the light of further flares. The Tallboy bombs were fused .5 seconds delay so that they would explode 100 feet under water. The remaining aircraft carried 1000 lb MC/GP bombs fused TD .025.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined] Weather over the target area was clear, and the cruiser, together with several merchantmen were claimed as identified. The cruiser was under way during the attack, which made marking and bombing very difficult. Results of the attack on the cruiser were unobserved, but a near miss on a large ship by a Tallboy swung her 90° to starboard and brought her to a standstill.

[Underlined] SPECIAL OPERATIONS. [/underlined]

[Underlined] IJMUIDEN – 15TH DECEMBER, 1944. [/underlined]

The target was the concrete E/R boat pens, and was attacked by No.617 Squadron carrying 12,000 lb Tallboy bombs. Hits were obtained and the pens suffered further severe damage.

[Underlined] ROTTERDAM – 29TH DECEMBER, 1944. [/underlined]

No.617 Squadron carried out another precision attack with 12,000 lb Tallboy bombs, the target being the concrete E. boat pens. Crews reported concentrated bombing, and P.R.U. cover confirms a heavy concentration of craters on and around the target, and two out of the three sections of the pens have been severely damaged by direct hits.

[Underlined] OSLO – 31ST DECEMBER, 1944. [/underlined]

No.627 Squadron celebrated New Year’s Eve by a pinpoint attack by 12 aircraft on the Gestapo Headquarters in Oslo. The attack

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] OPERATIONS. [/underlined]

was carried out in two waves of six aircraft, and all the first wave reported successful bombing. The second wave was hampered by smoke and dust from the bomb bursts, but two aircraft identified the target and bombed. Flak was intense and all the aircraft were hit, but returned to base safely. Rumours current in Stockholm suggest that the attack was highly successful.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Diagram] gardening

Unfavourable weather caused many operations to be cancelled at the beginning of the month, but when conditions improved on the 14th December the Group Gardeners ‘set to’ at such a pace that our previous record of 520 vegetables was in danger of being beaten before the end of the year.

Reviewing the month’s activity, all Gardeners have been most decidedly successful in planting 415 vegetables by 84 sorties in little over a fortnight. This total, 35.6% of the Command effort (1162), places 5 Group well in the can of Gardening operations, and is a commendable achievement befitting the end of a hard but memorable year of war.

[Underlined] 55 BASE [/underlined]

55 Base evenly distributed their effort by most Squadrons operating nine sorties each, visiting a selection of Kattegat and Eastern Baltic areas. On one occasion this was combined with a Group bombing force on an important Naval Base, which, in conjunction with 106 Squadron’s lay, a few days before, produced some highly satisfactory results, denying the use of the Port to the enemy and closing his Exercise Areas for U-boats and surface craft outside. Southern Norway also received attention in co-operation with other Groups, directed primarily against the movement of troops and material for the Wehrmacht from Norway to Denmark. There is conclusive evidence to show that shipping in the Fjords was seriously held up. The closing of the main ports and the consequent dislocation of traffic, had an even greater importance than the actual number of casualties caused.

[Underlined] 54 BASE. [/underlined]

54 Base have surpassed previous records by the excellent performance of 106 Squadron and the Mosquitos of 627 Squadron.

[Underlined] Fine Work by Metheringham. [/underlined]

R.A.F. Station, Metheringham, have repeatedly succeeded in lifting eleven maximum loads under difficult conditions, and on one occasion raised their record to fifteen Gardeners loaded at short notice and ready by ‘take-off’ time. These results cannot be obtained without the co-operation and hard work of the Ground and Armament staffs, who are to be congratulated on a fine month’s work.

[Underlined] 174 Vegetables Planted by a Single Squadron. [/underlined]

106 Squadron have had the busiest month of any Gardening Squadron on record, and have successfully planted a total of 174 vegetables for 36 sorties.

[Underlined] An Outstanding Operation. [/underlined]

Quite the most outstanding operation performed by 106 Squadron was their lone visit to the Eastern Baltic in the Privet and Spinach areas, when 15 Gardeners delivered their loads off an enemy port on a round trip of 1810 miles. Taking into consideration that no other Gardeners were in operation on this night, it stands as one of the greatest Squadron penetrations, and all who took part are to be congratulated on their effort.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] GARDENING. [/underlined]

[Underlined] Mosquitos. [/underlined]

627 Squadron were able to perform their first operation with Mosquitos on the 29th December, when Gardeners were briefed for an important river target, high on the priority list. Four Gardeners were very successful in planting their vegetables in the correct area without opposition, while three others unfortunately had difficulty in the area and returned with their loads. This unusual method of Gardening promises well for the future, as specially selected areas can be planted where it is bound to cause the greatest inconvenience and damage to enemy traffic. The results of this small scale planting were most effectively obtained for the cost of eight Vegetables. Time, opportunity and weather permitting, will tell its own story with regard to the menacing effects of Mosquito Gardening in the forthcoming year.

[Underlined] SQUADRON SORTIES. [/underlined]

[Table of Gardening Sorties by Squadron]

[Underlined] 5 GROUP CALENDAR – 1944. VEGETABLES SUCCESSFULLY PLANTED [/underlined]

January 25
February Nil
March Nil
April 388
May 520
June 30
July 64
August 260
Sept. 77
October 316
November 126
December 415

[Underlined] Total Planted – 2221 [/underlined]

[Underlined] GROUP MONTHLY SUMMARIES – DECEMBER, 1944. [/underlined]

No.5 Group 415
No.6 Group 232
No.1 Group 212
No.3 Group 168
No.4 Group 135

[Underlined] GARDENING POINTS. [/underlined]

(i) Only one Vegetable had to be jettisoned “Safe”. This was done in the correct manner.

(ii) All Gardeners unable to pin-point their target by H2S or ‘Visual’ returned with their load in the correct manner, or laid in Secondary Gardens.

(iii) 97.4% of the Vegetables dropped were planted successfully.

(iv) 12 Gardening areas were visited this month, covering a mileage flown of 98,230 miles in 7 nights.

[Underlined] CONCLUSION. [/underlined]

Although it is difficult to appreciate the results of our efforts without conclusive proof of sinkings or damage, it is firmly believed that many plantings have brought great success. It is estimated that at present the rate of sinking and/or damage, to enemy ships stands at 46 Vegetables per ship. It can therefore be satisfactorily assessed that, by planting 2221 Vegetables in the past twelve months, 5 Group alone have accounted for no less than [underlined] 48 ships SUNK [/underlined] or [underlined] DAMAGED. [/underlined] This figure gives at least one ship per week, and does not take into account the dislocation of shipping caused through closed ports, ships waiting to be discharged, extensive minesweeping operations and heavy

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] GARDENING. [/underlined]

repair work, combined with the feeling that it will be for ever unsafe to travel at sea until the bitter struggle ceases.

In conclusion it may be safely be said that it has been a splendid Gardening Year, and that all Gardeners have indeed maintained their high standard of efficiency; let us continue to do so, and face the year of 1045 with ever increasing zeal to destroy and annoy our enemy’s shipping.

[Underlined] THE FOLLOWING CASUALTIES HAVE BEEN REPORTED. [/underlined]

A German steamer was mined and sunk five miles SW of South Langeland about 15th November, 1944.

German BRYNGE was mined and sunk in Kalundborg Fyord in Summer of 1942. This ship was reported as mined in July 1941.

German MAGDELINE VINNEN (4594 G.T.) was in dock in November, 1944, for extensive repairs after mining.

German TELDE was under repair after being mined. This ship was reported as mined on 13th October, 1943.

Danisg VIBORG (2028 G.T.) was mined (i) on 1st September, 1944, (ii) on 17th September, 1944. The vessel reached port under her own power and as far as can be seen she is undamaged.

A Danish broadcast of 13th December, 1944, reported that wreckage of the motor vessel GRETE (51 G.T) was found North of Laeso in the Kattegat.

The Danish PHONIX (895 G.T.) struck a mine and grounded off Hals on 4th November, 1944.

An unidentified German vessel was also damaged by a mine off Hals on 4th November, 1944.

The German steamer CONSTANZA was heavily damaged by a mine off Kullen on 1st December, 1944.

Several overlapping reports give the following casualties in Oslo Fjord during November, 1944:-

(a) A tug mined and sunk in Horten Inner harbour on 29th November.
(b) The SVEIN (119 G.T.) damaged by a mine off Gulholmen on 16th November.
(c) Two M.T.B’s sunk by mines in the harbour at Horten on 29th November.
(d) A small merchant ship mined and sunk near Veslos, Horten.

An unidentified Finnish vessel of about 1000 G.T. was damaged by a mine in Oslo Fjord on 14th December, 1944.

A Swedish broadcast on 18th December reported that the Norwegian EGORVUS arrived at Bergen on 4th December. The ship was badly damaged aft, probably by a mine.

A German ship HERMINA was sunk by a mine in Stettiner Haff on 19th August, 1944.

The German S.S. ARION (2297 G.T.) was damaged by a mine near Nordenham in the Weser estuary during October, 1944.

The German hospital ship MONTE ROSE (13,882 G.T.) arrived Moss in Oslo Fjord on 12th November following repairs at Akers to make good damage caused by mining.

The Norwegian NINA (1,487 G.T.) was damaged by a mine off Schultzegrund on 27th October, 1944.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Drawing] signals

1944 was a memorable year in the Signals life of the Group, and we can look back with satisfaction on such accomplishments as the general installation of V.H.F. R/T equipment and Loran into all aircraft in the Group; the improvements obtained by the Coningsby Radar Development Party in the performance of H2S Mark III; and the evolution of the ideal technique of W/T control in the target area. Let us take each of these four items in turn, and see if there are any lessons to be learnt.

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

When No.617 Squadron were carrying out training for their famous attack on the German Dams, it became obvious that the existing bomber R/T (T.R.1196) was incapable of providing the efficient inter-aircraft R/T communication required, owing to severe interference experienced at night on the frequency band used. The V.H.F. R/T set T.R.1143 was therefore fitted, and gave excellent results. V.H.F. R/T was used by 617 Squadron for several other special operations. In April, 1944, 5 Group began operating as a separate force on special targets – carrying out their own marking and controlling. It was decided that aircraft of the Illuminating and Controlling team should be equipped with V.H.F. R/T and the remainder of the force be controlled by W/T.

[underlined] H2S Interference. [/underlined]

All Lancaster aircraft of Nos.83 and 97 Squadrons were, therefore, equipped with T.R.1143 V.H.F. R/T sets. This was the first occasion on which V.H.F. R/T sets had been fitted to aircraft carrying the H2S equipment, and on the first operation it was found that very severe interference was caused to the V.H.F. R/T by the H2S. Test proved that the interference was being picked up by the base of the V.H.F. aerial which protruded through the aircraft skin near the H2S set. All V.H.F. aerials were immediately mounted outside the aircraft skin and this cured the trouble.

[Underlined] Main Force Fitting Programme. [/underlined]

In June 1944 it was decided to fit all the remaining aircraft of 5 Group with V.H.F. R/T, and by the end of July this fitting programme was completed – thanks to the good work of a small 26 Group fitting party, and to the enthusiastic support of individual Squadron Signal Sections.

[Underlined] Removal of S.B.A. [/underlined]

To ease the burden on these sections and to put an end to much useless waste of energy and material, S.B.A. equipment was removed from all 5 Group aircraft.

[Underlined] Inadvertent Radiation of Intercomm. [/underlined]

Airborne R/T equipment is normally operated by the pilot, and he must be able to change from receive to transmit with the

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

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[Underlined] SIGNALS. [/underlined]

minimum of trouble. A small “press to speak” switch is therefore mounted on the control wheel, the mere pressing of which actuates a relay which causes the V.H.F. R/T to radiate. Occasionally relays come out of adjustment and occasionally pilots squeeze the “press to speak” switch unknowingly. It is not surprising, therefore, that we soon had cases of crew intercomm. being radiated continuously in the target area – almost completely ruining the control R/T. The ease with which the unwitting culprits were tracked down by their nicknames indicated a somewhat lax crew discipline.

The first countermeasure was an order to the effect that all transmitter crystals were to be removed from main force aircraft. This action proved to be an effective cure, but placed an added burden on the Wireless Mechanics. Bardney produced the answer – the fitting of a simple switch in the transmitter H.T. circuit – accessible from inside the aircraft. In all main force aircraft this switch is sealed in the off position after each D.I. check. In aircraft which may have to transmit the switch is placed in the on position. This scheme still left 20 or 30 aircraft liable to radiate intercom., and in spite of careful briefing and especial care of relays, the inevitable occurred and another operation was nearly ruined by one of the Illuminating Force radiating intercom. throughout the attack. Woodhall Spa produced the cure this time in the shape of a neon indicator which illuminated the words “Check VHF” everytime [sic] the V.H.F. R/T set was in the transmit condition.

[Underlined] Enemy Freya Interference. [/underlined]

During an attack in September, unusually severe interference was experienced from enemy Freya transmissions occurring on our V.H.F. R/T frequencies. With the prospect of an increasing number of operations over Freya Territory, this interference constituted a serious threat, and Headquarters, Bomber Command, made immediate arrangements for R.A.E. Farnborough to find a cure. Tests soon proved that the inclusion of a simple device known as a “series limitor” would completely eliminate Freya interference.

[Underlined] All aircraft change over to American SCR.522 sets. [/underlined]

Fortunately for 5 Group this modification coincided with the decision of higher authority to refit all our aircraft with the American V.H.F. R/T set SCR.552. This new set was already fitted with the series limitor. During the night of the 16th October the colossal task of setting up and changing 350 aircraft V.H.F. R/T sets was accomplished without a hitch. All pilots expressed themselves as highly satisfied with the excellent performance of the American sets, but there was a general complaint regarding the fact that the incoming V.H.F. R/T signals tended to swamp crew intercom. We were told to adjust the pre-set volume control in the set!

[Underlined] Effect of Icing on V.H.F. R/T Aerials. [/underlined]

The advent of winter and resulting increase in icing risks was brought home on the night 19/20th October when a large number of V.H.F. R/T aerials broke off. Our friends at R.A.E. once more came into the breach and quickly produced a modified form of mounting for the whip aerials so that they really could whip and thus prevent ice accretion. All aircraft are now being so modified as fast as the necessary parts arrive.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

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[Underlined] SIGNALS. [/underlined]

[Underlined] Pilots’ Manual Volume Control. [/underlined]

No matter how carefully the pre-set volume control was adjusted it was found that it was impossible to cater for all requirements, and pilots continued to complain of the loud V.H.F. R/T signals jamming vital crew intercom. As a result of a unanimous demand from Bases made at the November Group Signals Conference, a number of volume controls were received for trial. These trials resulted in an immediate plea for general fitting throughout all Group aircraft, and this was acceded to.

[Underlined] R/T Speech Training. [/underlined]

The best R/T equipment – like the ordinary trunk telephone must be met half way with properly articulated speech. The average airman does not possess a natural telephone voice but the excellent R/T speech training unit at Woodlands, Stanmore, soon remedies this. During 1944 [underlined] 140 [/underlined] pilots of 5 Group have benefited from the instruction given by this School.

[Underlined] FINALE. [/underlined]

The closing days of 1944 thus found the final chapter of our V.H.F. R/T story completed – a pilots’ volume control – no more inadvertent radiation of intercom. – no more Freya or H2S interference – no more broken aerials – just perfectly clear R/T at a strength to suit all pilots.

It has been an interesting story and it is hoped that those about to sample the joys of V.H.F. R/T in bomber aircraft will benefit from our experiences.

[Underlined] THE DEVELOPMENT OF W/T CONTROL TECHNIQUE. [/underlined]

At first sight it would appear to be a simple matter to arrange for one aircraft to control 250 other aircraft in the target area by W/T. The T.1154/R.1155 W/T equipment carried by our Lancasters is very efficient and easy to manipulate, and the W/T frequencies available to the Group are as clear of interference as one can expect these days. It was found by grim experience, however, that the accuracy of tuning by the average operator was below the standard required for control purposes. On more than one occasion, we regret to say, the control operator was as much as 30 kc/s off frequency – with the result that few aircraft received the control signals.

[Underlined] Crystal Monitor. [/underlined]

It was found that the only certain way of ensuring that the control operator was precisely on frequency was to resurrect the crystal monitor type 2, and make him tune the transmitter by plugging his phones into the crystal monitor and tuning his transmitter to the dead space.

[Underlined] Crystal Controlled Transmitters. [/underlined]

This scheme proved a complete cure, but was rather cumbersome and profiting by Binbrook’s experiments, a number of Controllers’ W/T transmitters were modified for crystal control. All that was necessary was to plug the appropriate crystal into the master oscillator grid circuit. This certainly simplified the tuning problem, but deprived the operator of listening-through facilities, and also his ability to hear his own morse. This latter failing resulted in the transmission of poor morse, so the scheme was abandoned and we reverted to the crystal monitor.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

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[Underlined] SIGNALS. [/underlined]

[Underlined] Transmission of Perfect Morse. [/underlined]

The job of finding W/T operators capable of transmitting perfect morse under rather nerve wracking conditions was slightly more difficult that the problem of accurate tuning. Operators who produced copy-book morse in the Squadron Training Room were sometimes found to possess nerves when they remembered that 250 other operators and several ground stations including Group Headquarters were hanging on every dot they made. A special test for Controller Operators was therefore introduced, covering morse, tuning ability, and correct procedure. During 1944, a total of 170 W/T Operators in the Group successfully passed the rigorous test, and many of these operators have since proved themselves on actual controlled operations.

[Underlined] Control Procedure. [/underlined]

To ensure that all aircraft W/T receivers are accurately tuned, the control operator transmits six callsigns a few minutes before target time. This transmission also enables the deputy control operator to check the tuning, and also to take over control if the transmissions are not heard. Thereafter throughout the attack, the control operator transmits two callsigns every minute unless control code signals are being handled. This scheme was evolved to enable W/T operators to concentrate on their tail warning device without missing any W/T signals.

[Underlined] Control Code. [/underlined]

To ensure speed and security, a special three-letter code covering all eventualities likely to arise during the illuminating, locating, marking and destroying of targets was evolved. A new code is used for each operation.

[Underlined] Deliberate Enemy Jamming. [/underlined]

To counter possible attempts by the enemy to jam the control frequency, an elaborate system of alternative frequencies and W/T guards is laid on for each operation, but happily, so far (touching wood) we have only been ‘jostled’ into doing this on two occasions and each time the scheme worked satisfactorily. We now realise just how effective 100 Group’s Countermeasure ‘Jostle’ really is!

[Underlined] Enemy Spoofing. [/underlined]

The Hun is quite capable of attempting to spoil a controlled attack by putting out spoof transmissions on our frequencies. To counter such attempts operators are reminded of the challenge procedure used with SD.0182 verification tables. No such attempt has, however, ever been made.

[Underlined] RESULTS [/underlined]

With the experience of 170 successful controlled attacks behind us in 1944, it can be said that we now have a system which is guaranteed to produce excellent morse, precisely on frequency and at the exact time required. It has resulted in the birth of a brand of wireless operator of an efficiency far exceeding that attained in the old days of perpetual W/T silence. The never failing manner in which diversion signals, wind messages and ‘target attacked’ signals are handled reflects the effect which the 5 Group Signals procedure has had on its wireless operators. Their morale was never higher and their keenness never greater. They are a credit to the Radio Schools, O.T.U’s and Conversion Units who produced them. May they keep it up in 1945.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

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[Underlined] SIGNALS. [/underlined]

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

In August, 1944, it was decided to exploit the blind bombing potentialities of H2S Mark III to the full, and resultant action took two parallel courses, viz:-

(a) An intensive training programme for set operators, with the object of thoroughly familiarising them with the equipment.

(b) Considerable cleaning up of the equipment to obtain increased accuracy, improved presentation and high sensitivity. This latter programme consisted of the selection of the most efficient units from the available H2S equipment and their embodiment into one aircraft installation, coupled with a detailed bench setting procedure.

This work naturally clashed with the prevailing shortage of Radar Mechanics. This was overcome by attachments from the Headquarters, Bomber Command, Radar Development Party, and from No.53 Base, as a result of a decision to curtail the fitting of H2S within that Base. Bench and workshop accommodation was extended in sympathy with the manpower increase.

Flight tests and H2S photography soon demonstrated that the scanner was a definite weakness in the equipment. Severe gaps appeared in the P.P.I. presentation, which made an accurate bombing run exceedingly difficult. Two mechanics under T.R.E. direction constructed a scanner tester with which the scanners could be tested on the ground. The gaps in the polar diagram were filled in by means of a sheet of perspex mounted on the face of the mirror, the ideal position of which was fond by trial and error. This treatment was successful with approximately 50% of the scanners.

[Underlined] The Perfect Scanner. [/underlined]

At this time a perfect scanner was loaned to Coningsby by T.R.E., and flight trials soon demonstrated that the adjective “perfect” was not an exaggeration. As a result, action was taken with our local manufacturer to cast a mirror to the perfect mirror. Trials with the cast mirror were carried out with the resultant paradox that the polar diagram was an improvement over the original. The production of cast mirrors was extended, and operational results proved that the presentation obtained was the best ever.

This labour reaped its dividends in no uncertain fashion; the ability of the operators to obtain best results from the equipment under operational conditions, coupled with the increased efficiency and accuracy of the equipment, were producing remarkably low bombing errors. Figures of a 300 yards error on the live bombing range were by no means uncommon. A still more satisfying substantiation, of course, came from the raid results.

[Underlined] H2S MARK IIIE. [/underlined]

In parallel with this improvement programme, two mechanics have been attached to T.R.E. to construct two sets of H2S Mark IIIE under T.R.E direction. Their work was completed in November, and the equipment transferred to Coningsby, where flight trials proved that it was vastly superior to H2S Mark III, and possessed the added advantage of requiring a less detailed setting up procedure. It is hoped to continue this story at a later date.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

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[Underlined] SIGNALS. [/underlined]

[Underlined] LORAN. [/underlined]

As the operational policy of ‘evasion’ developed, Radar transmissions became more and more restricted, and as a reult [sic] it was decided to install Loran in all aircraft of No.5 Group. This was a bold decision, because the equipment had not been adequately proved operationally, and the prospects of jamming were menacing.

The fitting was carried out in two phases, as equipment became available. Firstly in Nos. 53 and 54 Bases, and finally in Nos. 55 and 56. Each programme was completed rapidly as a result of excellent co-operation between the Engineering and Signals Branches.

[Underlined] Teething Troubles. [/underlined]

Initial results were not so good; Loran required longer manipulation than Gee, and while targets were within Gee coverage, the new equipment did not offer much temptation. Furthermore, the divider circuits were temperamental and suitable areas for training were too far away to allow training flights to be carried out. However, a successful raid on Munich proved the worth of the equipment, and instated it as a very necessary aid outside the limits of Gee coverage. Each navigator was issued with a screwdriver and was instructed in the art of setting dividers in the air.

The trailing aerial was a nuisance. One very vicious specimen, which brought matters to a head “collected large lumps of Window, which jammed the aerial when the wireless operator attempted to wind it in when approaching the target. He succeeded in cutting it away whereupon it jammed the bomb doors; it was cut loose again and it wrapped itself around the rear turret”. Experiments were carried out, as a result of which it was found practicable to use the 27 ft. forward suspension of the T.R.1196 aerial and a suitable loading unit. This modification has been passed to Bomber Command.

A similar aerial was developed for Mosquito aircraft, for which the internal aerial for Loran had proved unsatisfactory.

H2S interference has been experienced. A modification to suppress the receiver during the H2S transmissions has been found successful on the bench, and is undergoing air tests.

[Underlined] Prospects. [/underlined]

It is a simple device to maintain, and in these days of acute shortage of Radar Mechanics, that is an important factor. It does not radiate any energy and is therefore quite safe to use on our deepest penetrations. We look forward to doing great things with Loran in 1945.

[Underlined] TELECOMMUNICATIONS. [/underlined]

1944 saw the final completion of the Base organisation, and the resolution of all queries concerning the positioning of Ops. switchboards and the occupation of Secon huts – both of which caused a considerable amount of heartburn and one time or another. The year saw only one new change, and this was the introduction of a new scheme to speed up the passing of operational information to Bases and Stations. New? We were told that we were going back to 1939 by introducing this scheme but whether new or old it has served one purpose very well.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

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[Underlined] SIGNALS. [/underlined]

Prior to January, 1944, all operational “gen” had been passed by “scrambler” to Base or parent stations, and passed on by the latter to stations or satellites, and a very cumbersome and doubtful method it was. On at least one occasion the omission of the word “if” nearly wrecked an operation. Delays were excessive and the whole system needed a thorough overhaul.

It was decided, therefore, to enlist the aid of the teleprinter network, and the first move at Group was to put an ops. teleprinter in a specially built cubicle adjacent to the Ops. planning room. Bases and Stations were then asked to take similar action, which by hook or by crook they speedily carried out. The final step was to arrange for a simultaneous broadcast to all Bases and Stations and this presented some difficulties, because half the Group was still in the parent/satellite stage. Nevertheless, the difficulties were soon overcome, and the scheme became a working proposition.

The advantages have been manifest from the outset. Messages are handed to the teleprinter operator as soon as they are written out, and are teleprinted at once. The broadcast remains set up as long as planning continues, and handles no other traffic; it is strictly unidirectional. The moment messages are received at Bases and Stations they are handed into the Ops. Room. Thus the overall delay has been cut to the absolute minimum. At the same time speech circuits and “scrambler” phones have been relieved of a tremendous load, and are free for conferences and for the passing of sudden changes of planning detail. In addition to these points, the broadcast network has proved so efficient that operations can now be laid on at extremely short notice, e.g. thirty minutes between time of laying on and time of Flight Planning, a state of affairs quite unthinkable more than 12 months ago.

[Underlined] SIGNALS SECURITY. [/underlined]

Now that the Hun has lost his radiolocation network in France and the Low Countries, it is more than ever necessary that the maintenance of R/T, W/T and Radar silence should be strictly applied in accordance with briefing instructions. He must also never be allowed to note the difference between an operational and a non-operational day. In this connection, the following inadvertent radiation of intercom. on H/F R/T was actually heard by Waddington during a recent daylight operational take off:-

First Dim Wit: “What is going on down there?”

Second Dim Wit: “It is an Ops take off.”

First Dim Wit: “Where are we?”

Second Dim Wit: “Waddington.”

First Dim Wit: “I suppose their satellite is u/s.”

Needless to say, callsigns were not employed in this tea-time chatter otherwise there would have been most serious repercussions for someone.

[Underlined] CODES AND CYPHERS. [/underlined]

1944 saw a radical change in the cypher policy in Bomber Command. In January all cypher facilities were withdrawn from Stations, and Group assumed the responsibility for this traffic, transmitting it to Bases in plain language either by “scrambler”, teleprinter or postagram.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

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[Underlined] SIGNALS. [/underlined]

This released two Section Officers from each Base, who were replaced by one Flight Officer, who became a librarian of all secret and confidential publications.

Early in the year R.A.F. Cypher Sergeants were posted into the Group to gain experience before overseas service, and they are now doing vital work in our forward communications in the battle zone.

Life went on uneventfully at Group until shortly before ‘D’ Day, when only the chosen few and the cypher officers knew the actual time and date of the invasion.

And then again, from early in September until the sinking of the Tirpitz, the Group Cypher Office enjoyed a spell of heavy traffic. After some difficulty in obtaining speedy transmission of messages, direct communication was obtained with Archangel, thus making it possible to deliver in Russia deciphered messages within one hour of origination.

It is occasions like these that relieve the dull monotony of a Cypher Officer’s life – the perpetual routine messages and amending and checking of documents – and make them feel that they are perhaps of some slight use.

[Underlined] WIRELESS OPERATORS (AIR) [/underlined]

Throughout December a large decrease in the number of W/T Controllers’ tests, due to adverse weather conditions, has shown that every available opportunity must be taken by the wireless operator (air) to carry out these tests. This requires good co-operation between the Signals Leader and the Squadron and Flight Commanders, and Signals Leaders must ensure that they carry out their part in placing all their requirements before these people, who will do their best to meet these requirements.

During December, 20 tests were carried out, and of these, 16 passed as fit for W/T Controller’s duties. The Squadrons who carried out these successful tests were:-

83 Squadron – 4
97 Squadron – 1
44 Squadron – 2
57 Squadron – 4
630 Squadron – 2
227 Squadron – 1
50 Squadron – 2

Controlled Operations.

Reception of W/T messages transmitted by the W/T Links was again very satisfactory. The standard of operating by the Link operators was quite good, though there is still room for improvement in procedure. Study of 5 Group Air Staff Instructions Sigs/1, and constant practice will eliminate these small mistakes. The transmission of the “Target Attacked” signals presents no problems to our operators, and we are

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

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[Underlined] SIGNALS. [/underlined]

happy to state that up to date there have been no failures in this respect – keep it up.

[Underlined] Group W/T Exercise. [/underlined]

Despite the re-arranging of sections and times of this exercise, the results are far from satisfactory. Signals Leaders must have a drive on getting every Wireless Operator (Air) in their squadrons to take part in at least one exercise per month. The number of crews per squadron are such that, even if they have been operating the previous night there should still be available a quota of operators to carry out these exercises the following morning. If they are being detailed for other duties, point out the requirements of this exercise to your Squadron Commander. He will co-operate.

[Underlined] Points for Signals Leaders. [/underlined]

During the past year, Wireless Operators (Air) of this Group have shown that they can carry out most duties assigned to them, but a summary of the year’s work reveals that there are still a few loopholes in their work which require filling up. For instance, the number of manipulation failures for the year was 20. Now this is a very small percentage of the sorties flown, but it can and must be reduced until in 5 Group such a thing as a manipulation failure ceases to exist. Never let it be said that the equipment is better than the man. Also, the reception of, and action on, diversion messages still leaves much to be desired. These, and other weak points can only be overcome by proper instruction and practice.

[Underlined] Categorisation. [/underlined]

Now that the majority of Squadrons have an Analysis Officer attached for categorisation duties, the results of their labour should soon be forthcoming and all Wireless Operators categorised when they arrive on the Squadron, and at their 10, 20 and 30 sortie checks. The standard categorisation paper has met with universal approval and it now rests with the Signals Leader and his assistant to ensure that these tests are carried out as instructed.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

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[Drawing] navigation

[Underlined] REVIEW OF NAVIGATION FOR THE YEAR, 1944. [/underlined]

During the past 12 months many innovations and improvements in Navigation have been initiated by No. 5 Group. The most notable of these are:-

(i) Introduction of the A.P.I. attachment, which ensures more accurate windfinding for bombing.

(ii) Introduction of the A.P.I. and A.P.I. attachment windfinding drills.

(iii) A reduction in the practice bombing vector error from 9 m.p.h. in January to 3.4 m.p.h. in December as a result of (i) and (ii) above. Also a corresponding decrease in the operational bombing wind finding errors, although this fact is difficult to determine for obvious reasons.

(iv) New log and chart work procedure, in which all duplication of work is eliminated.

(v) Introduction of the Categorisation scheme.

(vi) Appointment of Navigation Analysis Officers.

(vii) Reduction of the “Spread” of aircraft on operations from a concentration box 100 miles x 50 miles in January to a concentration box 50 miles x 25 miles in December. (Room for still more improvement here).

(viii) Elimination of Astro and a consequent increased amount of time available for teaching more essential subjects.

The most notable of these new activities were the Categorisation Scheme, coupled with the appointment of Analysis Officers and the monumental decrease in bombing wind finding errors. They have greatly increased the standard of navigation and bombing accuracy.

This improvement in navigation must continue and be accelerated. Suggestions as to how the present standard and technique can be further improved will be welcomed. So, go to it, and don’t be afraid to voice your opinions and suggestions – and make sure that 1945 is a year of Victory.

[Underlined] IMPORTANCE OF ACCURATE TRACK KEEPING AND TIMING. [/underlined]

The general standard of track keeping and timing which was achieved on the shorter range operations is still being maintained on the longer range sorties we are now undertaking. There are [underlined] STILL, [/underlined] however, a few STRAGGLERS. No matter what is said or done either by Group Headquarters or the Station and Squadron Navigation Officers the percentage of stragglers still remains the same. A few of them are unavoidable, e.g. genuine compass failure, late take off, failure of all Navigation instruments combined with sudden wind change; but the majority are due either to poor and indifferent navigation or else a lack of understanding of modern tactics.

Aircraft in the concentration enjoy first the protection afforded by other aircraft, second the protection of “Window” and

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

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[Underlined] NAVIGATION. [/underlined]

third the protection of the countermeasures provided by No.100 Group aircraft. It is therefore impossible for a fighter, once he has got into the stream, to home on to an individual aircraft in that concentration. On the other hand, it will be very simple for the fighter to home on to any straggler, because that aircraft will be isolated from the concentration and will therefore stand out. This applies to aircraft who are out in timing, as well as off track.

Concentration in both track keeping and timing is also a safeguard against flak. It is obvious that a compact mass of aircraft will completely black out a Cathode Ray tube, and make it impossible for any one aircraft to be singled out for attack. Also it is equally obvious that the chance of being hit is considerably diminished as all aircraft are passing through the defended area in a very short space of time.

So now you know!! Keep on track and on time throughout the whole operation and minimise tour chance of being shot down.

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

The average vector error obtained by squadrons this month is 4 m.p.h. exactly. This figure is an increase of .2 m.p.h. on last month’s figure. It is only fair to state, however, that much of the practice bombing this month has been done by the new crews, and this fact may account for the slight increase in the vector error. Remember the goal we set ourselves last month – an average vector error of below 3 m.p.h. Can we achieve it? The answer is YES – but only if EVERY navigator does his very best on every exercise. Let us start the New Year well and achieve our goal in the first month.

[Table of Average Practice Vector Errors by Squadron]

97 Squadron have been rising rapidly in this table and have now reached second place. Well done, and it is hoped that your ambition does not end there, but that you will go on and beat 9 Squadron, who have held the lead for seven consecutive months.

No.56 Base are still in the bottom half of the list. Next month we hope to see all their squadrons at least six places higher. What about it, No.56 Base?

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

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[Drawing] THIS MONTH’S Bouquets [Drawing]

The names of the eight navigators, two from each Base, who submitted the best work this month are set out below. They have been chosen for their consistently accurate and methodical work, which includes good track keeping and timing, constant wind velocity and ETA checks and log and chart work of a very high order.

F/Sgt. Leigh – 106 Squadron
S/Ldr. Burnside – 97 Squadron
F/O. Reeves – 61 Squadron
F/Sgt. Edwards – 467 Squadron
F/Sgt. Treadwell – 189 Squadron
Sgt. Smith – 49 Squadron
W/O. Rose – 619 Squadron
F/Lt. De Friend DFM – 57 Squadron

P/O Searle, 227 Squadron, who has appeared in the last two summaries and W/O Murray, 50 Squadron, who appeared in the last summary, have both again submitted work of an exceptionally high standard. This is an excellent performance on the part of these two navigators and we congratulate them.

They have been omitted from this month’s list however, so as to give the remainder of the Group a chance!

[Underlined] UNION NEWS. [/underlined]

F/Lt. De Friend, D.F.M. – No.57 Squadron Navigation Officer, to be Station Navigation Officer, Fulbeck. Now S/Ldr.

[Underlined] ANALYSIS AND CATEGORISATION. [/underlined]

The Navigation Analysis is going very well. Analysis Officers on all Squadrons are doing an important job in a very efficient manner. Theirs is a tiresome and tedious job, but, if it is done conscientiously and well, it will pay handsome dividends in the form of better and more accurate navigation. It is to be hoped that all navigators are taking advantage of this extra service and are liaisoning [sic] with the analysis officers. Listen to what they have to say, note where you lost marks on your last sortie, and then follow their recommendations, and those if the Station Navigation Officer.

Lack of system is causing an appreciable loss of marks to some navigators, this applies particularly to the new crews. Working to a system will halve your navigational difficulties. The time to complete each cycle of operations is left for you to decide, but it is always best to work on an easy fraction of an hour, e.g. 10, 12 or 15 minutes. No system should have a time interval of more than 15 minutes.

The categorisation scheme has been in operation for 4 months

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

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[Underlined] NAVIGATION. [/underlined]

now and is well established. It is interesting to note that over this period, the number of “A+” and “A” category navigators has risen from 116 (12 Squadrons) to 203 (14 Squadrons), and the number of “C” and “D” category navigators has been reduced from 63 (12 Squadrons) to 28 (14 Squadrons). These figures are very encouraging. We should, however, have NO “C” or “D” navigators in the Group. Station Navigation Officers and Analysis Officers must concentrate on these crews until they reach at least the “B” category.

[Underlined] BRIEFING. [/underlined]

It has often been said that a really first class briefing is half the operation. Whether that statement is strictly accurate or not is difficult to say, but it is a fact that a well briefed crew has a far better chance of completing a successful sortie, no matter how adverse the conditions, than a badly briefed crew.

One or two navigation briefings which have been attended during the last month have been below the standard required. Station and Squadron Navigation Officers must pay particular attention to this aspect of their work. The most noticeable faults of briefing officers are:-

(i) Speaking too quickly;
(ii) Not raising their voice;
(iii) Speaking with a cigarette or pipe in the mouth;
(iv) Rushing through important details and not repeating them at least once;
(v) Failing to give a little advice on navigational details, particularly to the inexperienced navigators.

Navigation officers, do any of these faults apply to you? If so, then remedy them immediately, and give your navigators a chance. Squadron Navigation Officers should detail two deputies and train them to give a good briefing, so that a high standard will always be maintained.

Navigators do you always get the most out of each briefing? Do you listen to all the valuable information and advice given you and do you use it, or are you one of those people who knows all the answers and just don’t listen to the briefing officer. If so, then revise your ideas immediately. No matter how rushed you are, always listen to the Briefing Officer and make notes of all the important points. That extra 10 minutes attention in the briefing room will save you many a headache on the operation. Once you are airborne it is too late to remember something which you forgot to ask in the briefing room.

[Underlined] SAFETY HEIGHTS. [/underlined]

With the present tactics of flying low over parts of the Continent, it is essential to know the safety heights along the route. Do YOU always note the safety heights along the track and also for a distance 20 or 30 miles either side of track, just in case? Mark the spot heights in feet, on your plotting chart. This will act as a double check.

Several reports have been received from crews in recent weeks of aircraft crashing into high ground when flying low. None of these reports have yet been corroborated, but they may be true. So take warning and don’t end your days on the side of a mountain. It’s too cold this weather anyway.

Remember that spot heights on a topographical map of the Continent are always given in metres, with the exception of the Straits

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] NAVIGATION. [/underlined]

of Dover sheet. All spot heights for Great Britain are given in feet.

[Underlined] SELF-ANALYSIS CHART. [/underlined]

Here is the second analysis chart fir you to complete. If you missed the fist one for any reason look it up now and answer those questions too.

(i) Have you read and do you know all the Air Staff Instructions and 5 Group Drills which apply to YOU?

(ii) Do you know all your compass drills?

(iii) Do you know the maximum coverage of each Gee chain and which is the best chain to use over (a) North Western Germany, (b) Southern France, (c) Frisian Islands, (d) Paris area, (e) North West Denmark?

(iv) Do you know the maximum height at which H2S should be switched on?

(v) Do you know the position on the return journey of an operation, from which you are allowed to relax your timing? Do you know why you are allowed to relax timing from this position, and why this position was chosen?

(vi) Do you know [underlined] all [/underlined] the Group flight plan speeds for climbing, diving, straight and level flight, with and without a bomb load?

(vii) Do you always fill in your Form 2330 correctly and hand it to the Me. Officer on return?

(viii) Do you always pass the drift to the pilot after each alteration of course, especially on the run up to the target?

(ix) Do you always check your altimeter with the pilot’s when descending, and do you regularly check your A.S.I. with the pilot’s? When there is a discrepancy between the two A.S.I’s which do you take as being accurate?

(x) Do you always make allowance for time of turn when altering course, e.g. 1/4 minute before E.T.A. for turns up to 30°, 1/2 minute between 31° and 60°, and 3/4 minute between 61° and 100°

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Drawing] radar nav:

[Underlined] REVIEW FOR THE YEAR 1944. [/underlined]

During the past 12 months considerable strides have been made by No.5 Group both with the introduction of new Radar navigational aids, and in the use of those that existed prior to the beginning of the year. The most notable have been:-

(i) The introduction of H2S MK.II into Nos. 44, 207 and 619 Squadrons.

(ii) The introduction of H2S MK.III into No.54 Base.

(iii) The introduction of an H2S categorisation scheme at Coningsby in order to ascertain the most efficient blind marker crews.

(iv) Experiments at Coningsby to determine the efficiency of H2S MK.III and the production of specially selected MK.III equipment to give far more efficient blind marking than before.

(v) Incorporation of the 184 indicator in H2S MK.III, which has enabled a blind bombing technique of releasing direct on the response to the developed to a high standard of proficiency. [sic]

(vi) The introduction of H2S photography both on MK.II and MK.III squadrons from which it has been possible to ascertain the positions of release of mines and T.I’s and also give us considerable H2S cover of the Continent.

(vii) The introduction of the R.F. Unit 27 for use with the Gee receiver.

(viii) Consequent upon the invasion of Europe, the introduction of Continental Gee chains which give more accurate coverage over Western Germany.

(ix) The introduction of Loran, which has resulted in long distance fixing, and a consequent improvement in D.R. navigation.

(x) The appointment of Station Radar Navigation Officers who are responsible for the application of, and training in, Radar Navigational aids throughout the Group.

Most notable of the above activities were the experiments at Coningsby, which have resulted in a considerable decrease in blind marking errors, and have produced equipment which has given far better responses on the H2S MK.III P.P.I. than ever before. Coupled with this is the introduction of Loran into the whole of the aircraft in No.5 Group, which has further raised the standard of navigation, and resulted in fixes being obtained over various areas of enemy territory with considerable success and without enemy interference of any kind. This was an ambitious scheme as it involved the fitting of all aircraft and the training of all navigators within a period of six to eight weeks, and great credit is due to the Radar sections and Loran Instructors for carrying it out without a hitch.

This improvement in navigation must continue and be accelerated in the forth coming year, not only by the introduction of new Radar

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] RADAR NAVIGATION. [/underlined]

navigational aids, but by the raising of the standard of efficiency of the present equipment. Suggestions as to how this can be done will be welcome. Do not be afraid to let us have your ideas and opinions. No matter how trivial they may seem to you, they may have far reaching effects if applied throughout the whole Group. If you do this far better Radar navigation facilities may come into being, and possibly help to win the victory this year.

[Underlined] LORAN. [/underlined]

The majority of operators have made good use of this aid during the month and much information has been obtained on the operational value of the chain.

A summary of results obtained on the three long range operations is as follows:-

[Underlined] MUNICH [/underlined] Rate 4 signals, particularly the Master signal, were weaker than usual with considerable splitting, thus decreasing the value of the S.S. Chain as a whole on this particular sortie. Rate 5 signals were much stronger than previously reported, perhaps due to the southerly route taken. Investigations have been made into the possible causes of the difficulties experienced and have rather indicated that weather conditions were the primary cause of the Rate 4 signals’ weakness, as the worst meteorological conditions lay between the Rate 4 Master Station and the route taken. A plot of the first and last fixes taken on this operation indicates, however, that despite the difficulties outlined, Loran could have been used from 0400E on the outward route on 0700E on the return route. It is apparent from this plot that many operators did not make full use of this aid, and it can only be assumed that they did not persevere with the equipment to ensure fixing at frequent intervals.

The procedure of watching the signals and taking readings between splitting cannot be too highly stressed. A visit to the Radar Section at night now and again and watching the S.S. Loran Chain on the bench set will prove of great value if you wish to become really efficient on this excellent navigational aid.

[Underlined] GDYNIA & POLITZ [/underlined] Much to the surprise of the majority of Loran operators exceptional coverage was obtained on these attacks. Although the routes lay mainly outside the service area, signals were strong and fairly easily recognisable, and a considerable number of operators were able to obtain fixes from the Danish Coast to the target and return. Once again, however, the first and last fixes plotted indicate that operators are not persevering. It is appreciated that many little difficulties crop up in flight but when Loran is the only aid available there can be little excuse for not endeavouring to use it.

It should be possible to obtain a first and last fix plot which shows a concentration of fixes at the point of entry into the service area and another concentration at the target. Whether or not this can be achieved is entirely up to the skill and initiative of every individual operator.

The main snags encountered on operations this month were:-

(i) Incorrect alignment of dividers.
(ii) Dampness.
(iii) H2S interference.
(iv) Difficulties with the trailing aerial.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] RADAR NAVIGATION. [/underlined]

Divider trouble appears to be an inherent fault of this equipment and has occurred more frequently in the past few weeks due to dampness. Switching the set on and leaving it for a little while to dry out may cure the trouble due to dampness. If the set does not react, then it is up to the operator to carry out the correct alignment procedure. Screwdrivers are trickling through slowly, and when all operators are equipped failures due to divider trouble should be things of the past.

In addition to divider trouble, there are still some operators who report equipment unserviceable although on check nothing can be found wrong. In the majority of these cases the remedy is simple such as turning up the brilliance, switching on the master switch, or checking and replacing blown fuses – small points but essential ones, and if you know your Loran Aircraft Drill you should have little trouble from this source.

As regards snags (ii) to (iv) the Radar Sections are working out means of counteracting efficiently the snags which have cropped up from these sources, and we expect to hear of their solution any day. 55 Base are busy with a fixed aerial which has already been used on operations with success.

Further trials are to be carried out and if successful it is intended to adopt this aerial throughout Group.

[Underlined] GEE. [/underlined]

Gee has again proved the most valuable navigation aid during the month, although from maximum fix plots it is evident that operators are still failing to obtain maximum coverage from the Continental chains.

With little or no jamming reported on the Continental chains there should be little difficulty in obtaining fixes to maximum range, and the spread between maximum fixes obtained by squadrons should be less than 1/2 a degree and not 3 degrees as is the case at the present time. The fact that all squadrons are also using Loran should not prevent operators from obtaining an occasional Gee fix as a check.

Due to circumstances beyond control, one of the Ruhr Gee Chain Stations has had to be moved away from the vicinity of the front line. This Stations [sic] has been re-sited and the Ruhr Chain has been renamed the Cologne Chain. Topographical Charts have been issued but once the front line is again stabilised it is anticipated the Ruhr Chain will once again come into being.

News has also been received of new lattice charts to a scale of one million. These charts covering the London-Berlin and London-Munich areas will give the lattice lines for the Continental Gee chains and they should be in general use by the end of January.

Navigators are reminded that the Eastern Chain is now phased for a point in the North Sea, and that inaccuracies occur in the chain South of a line Calais to Frankfurt. If you are flying below this line remember the fixes you obtain should be from either the Ruhr or Reims Chain and [underlined] not [/underlined] the Eastern Chain.

[Underlined] H2S [/underlined]

H2S Mark II have been used on two occasions during the month, and operators, despite their various activities with Gee and Loran,

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] RADAR NAVIGATION. [/underlined]

managed to obtain good results on the equipment. This is evident from the excellent P.P.I. photographs which have been produced both of the targets and landmarks on track. It is, however, evident from H2S reports that many operators are still failing to use H2S (when they can) for a check on the target. Although you are bombing visually, there is no reason why you should not set up your H2S for blind bombing – the Air Bomber’s remark “Bombs gone” will serve as an admirable check on your estimation of the release point on H2S.

The highlight of this month’s activities with H2S Mark III has been the introduction of H2S Mark IIIE which gives much more clearly defined response and incorporates sector scan. So far blind bombing errors on this equipment have averaged .4 of a mile. In addition a new scanner has been manufactured which is practically perfect, and it is anticipated will give far better reception on the P.P.I. than before. Further tests are being carried out before any general statement as to its efficiency is made.

Intense interest has been shown in this Group’s challenge to 8 (P.F.F.) Group for an inter-Group Blind Bombing Competition which 8 (P.F.F.) Group have accepted.

The final details of the competition are almost complete and the contest will take place during January on the neutral Bombing Range. Good luck 54 Base and may the best side win.

H2S Photography has improved considerably during the month with both Mark II and Mark III squadrons producing excellent results. Revised H2S Photographic Instructions have been issued, and every operator should visit the Photographic Section and acquaint himself with the provisions laid down in these instructions.

Once again the reputation of the Group has been maintained on Gardening sorties. Both photographs and plots indicate that plantings have been in the correct furrows. These results indicate that despite restrictions, operators can still use H2S efficiently when required.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Drawing] air bombing

1944 has been a year of exceptional progress from the bombing aspect of the activities of the Group. The average crew error for December 1943 was 295 yards at 20,000 feet, and our present results have not been achieved without a sustained effort on the part of everybody concerned to reduce that figure to the present error of 171 yards at 20,000 feet.

Changes have taken place in equipment and methods of training during the past year, and all possible means of improving the bombing accuracy of the Group have been investigated and, where possible, put into operation. The more important changes were as follows:-

The introduction of a completely new method of Bombing Analysis and the provision of a tour-expired Air Bomber to conduct the analysis on each squadron.

The categorisation of all crews on their ability to bomb accurately.

The installation of the Mark XIVA Bombsight.

A drive on the crew aspect of bombing training and the installation of Automatic Observers and sensitive skid recorders in selected squadrons to determine the errors due to inaccurate flying.

Permission to build two new targets at Wainfleet was obtained, and clearance for local dropping of T.I’s was granted.

A quarterly inter-squadron bombing competition was started, the winning squadron to hold a splendid trophy presented by Lord Camrose.

Crews were instructed to bomb on briefed tracks to provide training in operational methods.

An extension of flashlight targets took place early in the year but other commitments have caused the reduction of flashlight facilities at the present time.

Improved methods of transmitting bombing results from ranges has provided means of early analysis and assessment.

The two most notable events were the introduction of the new form of bombing analysis and the system of categorisation of crews on their ability to bomb accurately. Bombing analysis provides a method of determining the source of errors and has produced an excellent standard of wind finding, and bombsight maintenance, but it will not provide the maximum benefit until every captain studies the analysis of the exercises completed by his crew, and ensures that everything possible is being done to eliminate errors.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] AIR BOMBING. [/underlined]

The categorisation of crews, although based on practice bombing only, does give an indication of a crew’s ability on operations. When a crew obtains an A+ or A category it proves three things:-

(i) The Captain can make an accurate bombing run with no skidding turns or sudden changes in the flying attitude of the aircraft.

(ii) The Navigator can find a good wind.

(iii) The Air Bomber knows how to use his bombsight correctly and can guide the bombsight graticule [underlined] on [/underlined] to the target and not merely in the vicinity of the target.

It is reasonable to suppose that a bombing team displaying these qualities on a practice target can reproduce similar efficiency on a real precision target, but it would be unreasonable to suppose that a crew obtaining ‘C’ or ‘D’ category results during practice will obtain better results on a real target. Therefore it is essential that Squadron Commanders and Flight Commanders make every effort to provide these low category crews with as many opportunities as possible to improve their position.

The weather experienced recently, plus unavoidable commitments has reduced the time available for training, but a study of the summary of practice bombing illustrates the disparity in the number of bombs dropped by various squadrons.

During the coming year it will be more necessary than ever to maintain steady progress in bombing accuracy, targets will grow smaller and more valuable to the enemy. It is certain that the Hun will make strenuous efforts to defend them; his defences can be outwitted, but it is all of no avail if the percentage of bombs required to demolish a target fails to hit that target. A continuance of progress already made, and a repetition of the excellent co-operation existing between our crews, armourers and bombsight maintenance staffs will make an early end to the War something more than wishful thinking.

[Underlined] BOMBING RANGES. [/underlined]

The lifting of black-out restrictions on certain areas is causing some confusion in the identification of bombing ranges at night, and it is only by good fortune that serious accidents have been avoided. Bombing Leaders must make sure that crews taking off on a night bombing detail are conversant with the lighting arrangements at the Practice target. The installation of illuminated signal arrows on all Bomber Command ranges should eliminate any doubts concerning identification, and it is expected that all crews know the provisions of 5 Group Air Staff Instruction BL.24.

Another point which is not receiving the necessary attention is the firing of smoke-puffs during a practice bombing exercise. At least one smoke-puff [underlined] must [/underlined] be fired during every exercise, and to enable the range staff to find an accurate wind the smoke-puff must be fired directly over the range signals area. Some smoke-puffs intended for Epperstone have been fired over Nottingham, and the Hill’s Mirror (Observation) is not sufficiently mobile to cope with these approximations.

[Underlined] THE “LORD CAMROSE” TROPHY. [/underlined]

The trophy, awarded to the squadron producing the best average crew error over a period of three months, is leaving Skellingthorpe

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] AIR BOMBER. [/underlined]

for Bardney. No.9 Squadron has achieved an outstanding result with an average crew error of 127 yards for 570 bombs, during the months of October, November and December. No.50 Squadron made a gallant attempt to retain the trophy for the third successive occasion, but their average crew error of 139 yards for 420 bombs during the same period only took them to second place.

No.9 Squadron’s success was made possible by the hard work and co-operation of all concerned with the bombing effort, and it will be necessary for other squadrons to obtain extraordinarily good results if the trophy is to change hands at the end of March.

Well done No.9 Squadron!!!

[Underlined] BOMBING ANALYSIS. [/underlined]

56 Base (S/Ldr. Walmsley) is making efforts to find ways and means of obtaining a true wind for purposes of bombing analysis. The method now adopted seems promising and after an extended trial it might be worthy of adoption by all Bases. A smoke-puff is fired at the commencement of the exercise and the wind found is recorded at the range. At the end of the exercise, when times and headings are passed to the Range, the A.P.I. wind used for the exercise and the A.P.I. wind found from the positions recorded during the exercise are both transmitted to the Range. All three winds are then sent on the same signal as the bombing results e.g.

SP 300/40
API 290/39
MAPI 305/42

If a squadron carries out four exercises it can be seen that twelve winds are easily available for analysis purposes.

[Underlined] SQUADRON BOMBING COMPETITION. [/underlined]

[Underlined] SQUADRON AVERAGE BOMBING ERROR FOR 8 EXERCISES. [/underlined]

1st 97 80
2nd 463 87
3rd 9 89
4th 630 95
5th 50 97
6th 467 106
7th 207 107
8th 619 108
9th 49 116

The remaining squadrons did not complete sufficient exercises to submit an entry.

No.97 Squadron have headed the Group competition after being placed second last month. Their effort during this month was undoubtedly the best in the Group, both in numbers and quality, and the Squadron is to be congratulated on the results. The efficiency of a squadron is reflected in the condition of its various Sections, and the Bombing Section at 97 Squadron H.Q. is an example of what it should be.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] AIR BOMBING. [/underlined]

[Underlined] DECEMBER’S OOUSTANDING CREW ERRORS. [/underlined]

SQDN. PILOT AIR BOMBER NAVIGATOR ERROR AT 20,000 FT. IN YARDS

44 F/O Daggett F/O Sharpe F/O Hindlay 55

50 F/O Lillies F/O Skinner Sgt Tye 71

189 F/O Herbert F/O Cottier F/O Skinner 43

207 F/O Cook F/S Boddy F/S D’Arcy 75

227 F/O Skipworth Sgt Steadman Sgt Ward 72

617 F/O Leavitt F/S Oldman F/O Withams 49
F/O Flatman F/O Kelly F/O McKie 53
F/L Dobson F/O Johnstone P/O Knight 55

619 F/L Brown F/S Meakin F/O Thanes 68

5 LFS F/O Blair F/S Bethune F/S McShane 74

[Underlined] CREW CATEGORISATION [/underlined]

[Table of Crew Categorisations by Base]

Crews are categorised on the average crew error of their last three 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

All A+ crews can be congratulated on the exceptional standard of accuracy and efficiency attained by the bombing teams. It is not just luck which produces results, methodical work and attention to detail is the basis of accurate bombing.

[Underlined] AIR BOMBER QUIZ [/underlined]

1. What are the safety heights for the release of a 4000 lb. bomb over land and water?

2. What suction recordings must be obtained to ensure full bombsight serviceability?

3. What prevents condensation on the lens of the collimator?

4. Is it possible to do a “lights” check with bomb doors closed?

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] AIR BOMBING. [/underlined]

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

[Table of High Level Bombing Practice Results by Squadron]

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Drawing] engineering

[Underlined] SUMMARY OF ACTIVITIES FOR THE YEAR 1944. [/underlined]

On the completion of the first full year of Base Organisation, progress can now be reviewed. For inclusion in this Summary such a review must necessarily be very brief, but it is the intention to produce one in detail under separate cover so that lessons learnt during the year can be made clear, and faults can be analysed and suggestions made for improvements.

53 and 54 Bases have completed a full year unhindered by unheavals [sic]. 51 Base after a long period of excellent work in the Group transferred their affection wholly to 7 Group on formation of the separate training group. 56 Base, which was the original 52 Base at Scampton had unfortunately to break down their organisation at Scampton and rebuild it on new ground at Syerston. This did not retard progress to a great extent, but the smooth running efficiency of the Base Organisation was some weeks getting into its stride again. 55 Base is our only Base which is formed on a war-time station, and has been functioning as such for the latter half of the year; the problems of the economical and efficient running of this type of Base vary from those which are housed on stations built to peace-time design.

The basic principle behind the original scheme of Base organisation is the economy in man power, material and equipment, and this economy has been implemented in the Bases in 5 Group since their formation.

Conservation of equipment is the key note of serviceability. The least line of resistance is to remove an unserviceable item of equipment from an aircraft and fit a new item from the main stores caring little of what happens to the unserviceable item removed, which is returned to the main stores for ultimate transfer to a Repairable Equipment Depot. There is no doubt that up to a point, serviceability can be maintained with this short-sighted outlook; but by this means much equipment is en route between stations and R.E.D’s and between R.E.D’s and repair contractors, and much more is heaped up outside these various places waiting repair. So there must come a day when many particular items are in very short supply. By taking full advantage of the Base organisation and the repair facilities of the Base Major Servicing Sub-sections, the unserviceable item removed can be repaired and kept in circuit. It can be used time and time again, maintained in a serviceable condition, and a good Base can pay a dividend rather than rely on a subsidy. Such conservation of equipment has been made possible by the formation of the Base specialist repair bays, i.e. hydraulics, pneumatics, tyres, brakes, sparking plugs, propellers, metal repairs, modifications, power plants, instrument and electrical sections.

Much thought has been given to the building and improvement of these specialist bays and, for instance, the spark plug cleaning is now in its correct perspective. Due to a large amount of pressure and powers of local purchase being brought to bear, ideal cleaning and test equipment is available in Bases in this Group, and Bases are

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] ENGINEERING. [/underlined]

capable of catering for cleaning and testing up to a thousand plugs a day. As Base organisation was a scheme devised subsequent to the building and planning of stations, no designed housing for the various sections was available; therefore improvisation of certain other rooms, buildings and sections has been necessary by local initiative. The equipment required for the repair and testing od the hundreds of components has not been available through Service sources, as the requirement at the time of Base sub-section organisation was not known to higher authority. Therefore local initiative was brought to bear again, and Base major servicing sections are now in possession of excellent test equipment which will cater for the efficient testing of the various services.

[Underlined] TRAINING UNIT SERVICEABILITY. [/underlined]

[Table of 5 LFS Serviceability]

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Drawing] training

[Underlined] PROGRESS DURING THE YEAR. [/underlined]

There were numerous changes and developments in training throughout 1944 to meet operational requirements and to deal with new equipment, particularly Radar devices. As a background to all that was new there was a constant pressure on basic flying and operational procedure in an endeavour to improve standards and enable crews to raid successfully in more rigorous conditions.

On other pages of this Summary, developments in training are dealt with in detail. The main task has been to produce sufficient crews of a good standard to do the job, and at the same time to form new squadrons.

The year opened with the Training Units in the throes of conversion to Stirling aircraft and the L.F.S. in its infancy. This 2-type training on 4 engined aircraft created many problems which made the life of aircrew under training extremely strenuous. New, at the end of the year a change-over is again in progress, but squadrons fortunately have a surplus of crews to help them through the Winter months until “all through” Lancaster training is in full swing.

Among the many new features introduced into training, the Categorisation of aircrew members was perhaps the most interesting and represents an attempt to increase the individual efficiency by frequent detailed tests of his ability and analysis of his results. As an essential part of this policy, various instructors and Analysis Officers were appointed to squadrons and the value of their work was soon evident.

Crew members thus have the opportunity of finding out quickly where they are wrong, why they are wrong and what they can do to improve their efficiency. Squadron Commanders and Specialist Officers can also place their fingers quickly on the weak spots in crews.

The year also saw the introduction of No.5 Group Aircraft Drills, Check Lists in aircraft, and the addition of several new and important Air Staff Instructions; one of the latest and most important being “Precautions against Hazards in Conditions of Cumulo Nimbus Cloud”.

Other new features were the production of the new Lancaster Aircrew Quiz and the standard No.5 Group Link Trainer Syllabus which was produced to meet the particular requirements of four engined pilots. All these things provide sufficient material for crews to “find the answers” if they are in doubt and give instructors the facts necessary for the production of high standard crews.

Figures are not the final measure of effort, and “figure chasing” invariably defeats its purpose. They do, however, provide a basis for comparison and do indicate if an effort is being made. The final measure comes in the assessment of raid damage, the casualty lists and the squadron record of early returns and abortive sorties.

It is interesting to note, therefore, that parallel to the

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] TRAINING. [/underlined]

increase in sorties flown and bombs dropped, training hours and figures have also improved. The total of practice bombs dropped has increased and the error has gone down. Assessable fighter affiliation exercises have more than doubled themselves, and in particular, night affiliation grew from nothing to a satisfactory total of nearly 350 exercises in the first month of the Winter. Navigation errors came down. Link Trainer hours rose steadily and instrument flying standards improved – a little slowly perhaps but the ground was ploughed.

There must be no relaxation in training during 1945. It has no saturation point.

[Underlined] EVENTS DURING DECEMBER. [/underlined]

The exceptionally bad weather during December made regular training difficult, but despite this, Squadron Instructors completed 102 Category Checks, leaving 159 Category Checks to be done to give every pilot in the Group a Category. There are now 185 pilots in the Group holding Categories. Nos. 54 and 55 Bases are well behind the other Bases in their category tests. The following table shows the state of categorisation of pilots in the Group:-

[Underlined] CATEGORY OF PILOTS. [/underlined]

[Table of Pilot Categories by Base]

Total squadron training amounted to 2200 hours – a very big increase on the previous month owing to the weather. Of this total 1650 hours were by day and 550 by night. The average per squadron was 122 hours. Six squadrons were very low on the list – No.61 Squadron did 50 hours; 189 Squadron 58 hours; 227 Squadron 64 hours; 630 Squadron 65 hours; 44 Squadron 85 hours. It is hoped all these squadrons will double their efforts during January.

[Underlined] NO. 5 L.F.S. REPORT. [/underlined]

No. 5 L.F.S. produced 73 crews for squadrons at an average of 13 hours per crew. The Unit flew 1100 hours. Loran training was given during December, and bombing results showed improvement on November.

[Underlined] 1690 B.D.T. FLIGHT. [/underlined]

The Flight was “grounded” by weather for 14 days, but they flew whenever squadrons asked for details. A total of 252 day details and 91 night details were flown. This included 97 da details and 41 night details for No.75 Base.

Total hours for the Flight were 323, and the average hours per aircraft on charge was 24. Pilots averaged 18 hours per month.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] TRAINING. [/underlined]

[Underlined] INSTRUMENT FLYING AND LINK [/underlined]

During the Winter of 1943 there was definite evidence that the standard of instrument flying was not sufficient to meet all the requirements of operational flying in conditions of adverse weather, and special attention was paid to this phase of flying throughout 1944. A summary of the action taken to improve instrument flying throughout the Group is tabulated below:-

(i) More flying on primary instruments, by the inclusion of specific exercises in the Heavy Conversion Units, and the inclusion of a test on this point in the Pilot’s Category Check.

(ii) A revival of the use of the “hood” to provide more genuine I.F. practice in the air in day light.

(iii) The issue of a standard 5 Group Link Trainer Syllabus to meet the particular requirements of pilots of four engined aircraft (corkscrew on instruments, and flying on primary instruments only, etc.).

(iv) A modification to the Link Trainer to enable the Artificial Horizon and Directional Gyro to be “toppled” during an exercise.

(v) The introduction of a new type Artificial Horizon with a reduced turn error.

(vi) The acquisition of additional Link Trainers and Instructors towards the end of the year, which now gives each squadron one machine and one instructor.

The effort made is revealed by the fact the Squadron Link Trainer hours rose from 495 hours in December, 1943, to 1804 hours in December, 1944 – just short of a four-fold increase. The new squadrons and new Link Trainers now make more practice easier, and the acid test is the squadron average spread equally over all pilots and flight engineers on strength, and most of all, the quality of the instrument flying.

December was the best month to date and congratulations go to Nos. 49, 467 and 50 Squadrons for having reached the target for pilots on the Link Trainer. This was the third consecutive month in which No.49 Squadron has reached their target. No.44 Squadron went very close to the squadron target of 132 hours, but the bulk of the time was done by the flight engineers, the pilots being below the average with a total of 44 hours.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] TRAINING. [/underlined]

[Underlined] LINK TRAINER TIMES. [/underlined]

[Table of Link Trainer Hours by Base and Squadron]

GRAND TOTAL – 1804 hrs.
ACTUAL AVERAGE PER SQUADRON – 78.8 hrs.
REQUIRED AVERAGE PER SQUADRON – 132 hrs.

+ SQUADRONS WHERE LINK TIMES ARE FAR TOO LOW.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

second thoughts for pilots

[Underlined] SWINGING ON TAKE-OFF. [/underlined]

There have been two swinging accidents on take off recently and on each occasion the Pilot flagrantly ignored the Lancaster Swinging Drill (No.5 Group Aircraft Drill No.5). Read the Drill through carefully again and make sure that both you and your Flight Engineer know it thoroughly.

[Underlined] FIDO LANDINGS. [/underlined]

The average hold-off tends to be too long and the landing too far up the runway. This is largely because Pilots, having an exaggerated idea of the bumpiness in the box, come in at too high an airspeed – 115 m.p.h. I.A.S. is quite sufficient. Check this tendency particularly when returning with full bomb load.

On the circuit “glare” makes it difficult to see other aircraft on the same level, or slightly above. Ensure a careful “circuit look-out” normally is maintained and that navigation, upper and lower identification lights are on.

Turn your cockpit lighting on full before entering the funnel. This will enable you to read your instruments in the glare on the approach.

[Underlined] OVERSHOOTING. [/underlined]

The following are the commonest causes of overshooting:-

(i) Airspeed too high on the approach into wind. It should be 120m.p.h. with a moderately laden aircraft on the initial approach, and [underlined] 105 – 110 m.p.h. over the boundary. [/underlined] With an all up weight of 55,000 lbs to 58,000 lbs. it should be 120 m.p.h. on the initial approach and [underlined] 115 m.p.h. over the boundary. [/underlined]

(ii) Too high over boundary. You should not be above 25 – 50 feet over the boundary by day or in the Green of the G.P.I. by night.

(iii) Throttles left open too long after the initial check thus prolonging the float.

[Underlined] LOSS OF CONTROL. [/underlined]

Straight and level instrument flying is fairly sound with the amount of practice that the average pilot has during training and operations, but instrument flying with Artificial Horizon or A.S.I. u/s, steep turns, combat manoeuvres, etc. are known to be weak through lack of practice. There is no reason why this weakness should exist as there are ample opportunities for instrument practice on N.F.T’s and training flights generally.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] SECOND THOUGHTS FOR PILOTS. [/underlined]

[Underlined] CUMULO NIMBUS CLOUD. [/underlined]

Take special note of the new Air Staff Instruction Trg/6 – “Precautions against Hazards in conditions of Cumulo Nimbus Cloud”. This instruction contains three main points:-

(i) A Safety Area for climbing and descending.

(ii) A maximum height above which the aircraft is not to fly until it enters the Safety Area.

(iii) A minimum ”cross country” height above the cloud after climbing in the Safety Area.

Make sure you can see clear skies above by day or stars by night before climbing in the Safety Area. Do not fly in Cumulo Nimbus cloud. Turn round and fly clear.

[Drawing] Do [underlined] you [/underlined] always catch the “LATTICE LINE SPECIAL”

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Drawing] gunnery

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

[Underlined] DESTROYED [/underlined]

4/5.12.44 “P” – 106 Squadron – JU. 88
4/5.12.44 “Q” – 61 Squadron – ME.410
4/5.12.44 “M” – 189 Squadron – JU. 88
6/7.12.44 “V” – 630 Squadron -JU. 88
6/7.12.44 “B” – 57 Squadron – ME.110

[Underlined] PROBABLY DESTROYED [/underlined]

6/7.12.44 “L” – 97 Squadron – JU. 88
6/7.12.44 “F” – 463 Squadron – ME.110

[Underlined] DAMAGED [/underlined]

4/5.12.44 “A” – 619 Squadron – FW.190
4/5.12.44 “W” – 207 Squadron – JU. 88
4/5.12.44 “B” – 463 Squadron – JU. 88
6/7.12.44 “S” – 227 Squadron – JU. 88
6/7.12.44 “D” – 463 Squadron – JU. 88
6/7.12.44 “S” - 44 Squadron – ME.410
6/7.12.44 “O” – 619 Squadron – ME.110
6/7.12.44 “D” – 49 Squadron – FW.190

All the above claims have been confirmed by Headquarters, Bomber Command.

There was a marked increase in the number of combats this month, though the majority took place on the first two operations of of [sic] the month; the targets being Heilbronn and Giessen respectively. These two nights contributed 82 combats to the total of 101 for the whole of the month, and it will be noted that all the successes claimed were registered on these two nights.

Five enemy aircraft are claimed as Destroyed, two Probably Destroyed and eight Damaged. Five cases were noted of gunners firing on enemy aircraft attacking another Lancaster, and in one case the fighter was destroyed. In all the other cases the enemy aircraft broke off his attack. These gunners are to be congratulated on their vigilance and offensive spirit. See the fighter first and shoot first are the two best axioms for gunners; it has been proved that they pay.

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

F/O MacIntosh – 207 Sqdn – Cat. “B”
F/O Van Beck – 619 Sqdn – Cat “B”
F/O Ray – 97 Sqdn – Cat. “B”
P/O Hansom – 83 Sqdn – Cat. “B”
F/O Burnham – 467 Sqdn – Cat. “B”
P/O Annandale – 50 Sqdn. – Cat. “B”

It is good to note that the standard of candidates selected

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] GUNNERY [/underlined]

for C.G.S. courses has been such as to show a return of 9 Cat. “B”s out of the last 9 nominations. Keep this up Gunnery Leaders, and submit to your Base Gunnery Leader any gunner who possesses the necessary qualifications for C.G.S. Gunners who have been categorised as “A+” on Squadrons should be automatic selections as candidates for C.G.S.

[Underlined] REVIEW OF ADVANCEMENT IN EQUIPMENT AND TRAINING DURING 1944 [/underlined]

1944 marked the advent of new training equipment and new ideas on training, which have resulted in a marked improvement in training on Squadrons.

The most important items are as under:-

1. Standard Free Gunnery Trainer.
2. Flash Trainer.
3. Turret Manipulation Assessor.
4. Skeet Ranges.
5. Self-towed Drogue.
6. Categorisation of Air Gunners.
7. Gunnery Analysis Officers.
8. Infra-Rad Photography on Night Fighter Affiliation Exercises.
9. A.G.L.T.

Of the above items, Categorisation of Gunners has gone ahead in Conversion Units and on Squadrons and every Squadron gunner now has a category. 92 Group have now followed suit and are now categorising gunners on similar lines.

Gunnery Analysis Officers were instituted on the basis of one Officer per Squadron, whose duties are to supervise and co-ordinate all training, both practical and theoretical, on Squadrons. These duties include Skeet Range shooting and assessment of all cine gyro assessor films. Each Officer has attended the Skeet Range Shooting Course and an Aessment [sic] Course at 1690 B.D.T. Flight.

[Underlined] GUNNERY AIR TRAINING [/underlined]

[Underlined] FIGHTER AFFILIATION – ORDER OF MERIT [/underlined]

The Order of Merit is based on the following system of marking:-

Night Affiliation (Camera and Infra-Red Film) – 10 points.
Night Affiliation (without Camera) – 8 points.
Day Affiliation (Gyro and Camera) – 5 points.
Day Affiliation (Camera only) – 3 points.
Day Affiliation (without Camera) – 1 point.

[Table of Fighter Affiliation Order of Merit by Squadron]

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] GUNNERY. [/underlined]

[Underlined] SUMMARY OF AIR TRAINING EXERCISES. [/underlined]

[Table of Air Training Exercises by Squadron]

[Underlined] TOTAL OF AFFILIATION EXERCISES FOR DECEMBER – 502 [/underlined]

Bad weather and operational commitments have brought the total of Fighter Affiliation details for the month down with a rush; this month’s total being less than half of the total for November. Even with this low total, it is very satisfactory to note that [underlined] Night Affiliation exercises totalled 111, [/underlined] eleven of which were with Infra Red film. It is to be hoped that squadrons will fit the camera to the maximum number of aircraft carrying out Night Affiliation.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Drawing] armament

This year 1944 has seen the introduction into the Group of many new items of equipment and stores; a review of the changes and the part taken by Armament personnel in producing the right answers, or getting the inevitable gremlins out of new equipment will not come amiss in this issue.

[Underlined] BOMBS. [/underlined]

This subject is overshadowed by Tallboy; the introduction of this large egg has been most successful but has entailed a lot of hard work and hard thinking for armament personnel. Other bombs which arrived are the American series A.N.-M.44, 58, 59, 64, 65 and 76.

[Underlined] CLUSTER PROJECTILES. [/underlined]

The long awaited incendiary clusters have arrived in the form of Nos. 4, 14, 15 and A.N.M.17. So far these clusters have proved a mixed blessing, and have not yet replaced our old friend (or enemy) the S.B.C.

Handling clusters in the open resulted in many attempts to devise a satisfactory lay-out, but no really satisfactory method, providing adequate protection against weather and damage during handling, was evolved.

The A.O.C. came to the rescue with the Large Incendiary Store House Scheme. Successful trials have been carried out which indicate that this scheme will solve all our troubles, and damaged clusters will become a thing of the past, or a case of excessive handling.

[Underlined] BOMB GEAR. [/underlined]

The introduction of hydraulic winches has saved much sweat and many man-hours.

Modification No.74 has been incorporated to enable 18 bombs (20 when No.13 Station adaptors is available) to be dropped in one stick.

The Type N. Release slip arrived fortunately in small numbers, as snags were soon found to exist. No.53 Base have done a lot of work and finally produced a modification which it is expected will eliminate the danger of accidental release during bombing-up and de-bombing.

[Underlined] MARKER STORES. [/underlined]

Since No.5 Group has carried out its own target marking, many stores have been introduced, considerably complicating armament work in No.54 Base, and calling for local modifications to meet ever changing operational requirements.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] ARMAMENT. [/underlined]

[Underlined] FUZES AND PISTOLS. [/underlined]

The introduction of new stores has brought with it a corresponding increase in the variety of Fuzes and Pistols. The quantity necessitated the approval of an additional storehouse.

[Underlined] BOMB HANDLING AND STORAGE. [/underlined]

Stacking trucks have made their appearance, and have proved useful tools. The cry is for more and we hope to see more during 1945.

Equipment for handling S.B.C’s including the heavy transporter (once again modified) is arriving, and all stations should be fully equipped early in 1945. Some of this equipment can be used in handling cluster projectiles and mines.

[Underlined] MINES. [/underlined]

The variety has increased and is still increasing, calling for carefully planned storage so that any type can be made available at very short notice.

[Underlined] TURRETS. [/underlined]

The F.N. 121 has arrived in small numbers. No.56 Base found some snags in the Servo Feed and initiated remedial action.

[Underlined] GUNS. [/underlined]

Great strides were made at the beginning of the year in solving the gun freezing problem. Experiments were carried out with various types of anti-freeze oil, both for the turret hydraulic system and for the guns themselves. Gun ejection seals were introduced and extensive firing trials carried out on operations to ascertain whether, in fact, it was the accumulation of ice on the breech block which caused failures, or the freezing of static oil in the Palmer Firing Gear. Attempts were made to raise the internal temperature of the turret by the use of first, the Galley heater, which proved unsuccessful, and secondly, with ducted heating both to the rear and mid-upper turrets. This type of heating has proved more successful, and is being incorporated in production aircraft, many of which are already in service.

[Underlined] MODIFICATIONS AND IMPROVEMENTS. [/underlined]

Apart from those already mentioned, Armament personnel were responsible for many bright ideas, some of which are reported below.

A de-belting and cleaning machine for .303 ammunition was designed an manufactured by R.A.F. Station, Swinderby. It is understood that Bomber Command is interested in this machine which has been working satisfactorily for some months.

The enlarging of trigger guards to enable gunners to have easy access to the triggers when wearing thick gloves. Now a Bomber Command modification.

Modification to F.N. 120 turrets to enable gunners to wear the pilot type parachute submitted by R.A.F. Waddington, now as a Command Modification.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] ARMAMENT. [/underlined]

Heating for the Palmer Firing Valve Box, submitted by East Kirkby and issued as a Command modification.

Re-positioning of the MK.IIC C.G.S. Junction Box to enable the ‘C’ type parachute to be used in F.N.121 turrets. Submitted by R.A.F. Station, Waddington, and issued as a Bomber Command modification.

Improvements of Bomber Command Mod. No.3 to increase the Gunner’s vision, submitted by R.A.F. Waddington, and at present being investigated by Bomber Command.

All electrical firing gear in turrets. This modification submitted by Metheringham was at first turned down due to the inability to obtain the necessary solenoids. M.A.P. have recently shown interest in this modification and have requested full particulars.

The re-positioning of F.N. 50 Solenoids and the shortening of the Bowden Cable. This modification was submitted by R.A.F. Station, Bardney, as a means of preventing the Bowden Firing Cable from catching on the armour plating and causing run-away guns. Although not accepted, an alternative modification was incorporated in production.

East Kirkby were responsible for a modification to the No.44 Bomb pistol which facilitates the fitting of safety wires. Now a Command modification.

R.A.F. Station, Bardney, were responsible for the design and manufacture of a triple adaptor to enable 3 X 500 lb. bombs to be carried on the four centre stations of the Lancaster bomb bay. This modification aroused great interest both at Headquarters, Bomber Command, and at the Air Ministry, but was eventually turned down as the Ministry of Aircraft Production had, at this time, a similar development under way to achieve the same purpose. This adaptor took the form of a quintuple carrier slung across the bomb bay. It is understood that progress with this development is satisfactory.

Due to the delay in the manufacture of the new Heavy S.B.C. Transporter a protective plate to prevent damage to 4 lb. incendiary bomb tails when carried in S.B.C’s was introduced by R.A.F. Station, East Kirkby, and has since been issued as a Bomber Command modification.

[Underlined] BOMBING RANGES. [/underlined]

To meet the increased number of bombing targets required for practice bombing, personnel at Wainfleet Range erected two additional targets at Ingoldmells and Wrangle, the former was initially used as a dive bombing target. The range personnel worked hard to keep this target in repair and put up a tough fight against the sea assisted by well aimed bombs.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] ARMAMENT FAILURES TABLE. [/underlined]

[Table of Armament Failures by Squadron]

A – MANIPULATION B – MAINTENANCE C – ICING D – TECHNICAL E – ELECTRICAL F – OBSCURE

[Page break]

[Drawing] flying control

A year ago, the “5 Group Quick Landing Scheme” was introduced, following trials at Skellingthorpe. During the year developments in the scheme have speeded up the landing times. In September, 1943, the Group average was 3.67 minutes. On the introduction of the scheme this average fell to 2.66 minutes in January, 1944. Since May, 1944, when it fell to 1.99 minutes, the figure has remained below 2 minutes and in December, 1944, reached its lowest level, 1.61 minutes.

The main alteration to the original scheme took place at the end of September, on the introduction of the Command Standard Landing Procedure, when the Group scheme was amended to bring it into line with the Command Scheme by advancing the initial call-up point to the funnel, increasing the height at the initial call and renaming the calling positions.

Developments in airfield lighting have assisted in this reduction of landing times, mainly in conditions of poor visibility. Sodium lights in the funnel and on the flarepath have been of great value. Speedier clearance of the runway and perimeter track have been assisted by the introduction of directional arrows and illuminated dispersal numbers.

Tarmac and asphalt used in the surfacing of runways and perimeter tracks have improved serviceability, though considerable difficulties have arisen in the case of satellite airfields carrying two squadron traffic.

Radar developments during the year foreshadow and entire change in flying control methods, when much of the present use of lighting will be subordinated to control through Radar. The increased heavy traffic in all areas of Bomber Command makes such development vitally necessary.

[Underlined] LANDING TIMES FOR DECEMBER, 1944. [/underlined]

[Table of Landing Times by Base and Station]

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Drawing] photography

[Underlined] ANALYSIS DAY PHOTOGRAPHY – DECEMBER, 1944. [/underlined]

[Table of Day Photographic Analysis Ranked by Squadron]

[Underlined] ANALYSIS NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY – DECEMBER, 1944. [/underlined]

[Table of Night Photography Analysis Ranked by Squadron]

This photographic inter-squadron ladder is produced on the number of failures (excluding “Target Conditions” “T.C.”) incurred during the past month, as a percentage of the number of events.

+ 617 and 627 Squadrons are omitted from the ladder in view of the relatively low number of attempts of each.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Drawing] aircrew safety

[Underlined] THE PAST YEAR. [/underlined]

The drive to save lives of ditching bomber crews and crews forced to bale out or crash land was continued. It is hard to establish how many lives were lost due to ignorance of procedure, Safety Drills or equipment, but a review of successful incidents shows a trend towards better knowledge and understanding of the drills and a decline in the number of stupid mistakes.

The year saw the ‘K’ type personal dinghy come and go. It also saw the completion of successful trials in 5 Group of the prototype Back-type parachute, which it is hoped will soon be available to all heavy bomber crews. As an interim measure the Seat-type parachute was made compulsory for Pilots and Rear Gunners.

An ingenious “Warning horn” for emergency in the air was devised within the Group and tested successfully. It has been forwarded to Bomber Command for approval and general adoption. The horn gives audible warning to all crew members to bale out or prepare for ditching when the intercomm. has failed.

[Underlined] INTO THE SEA. [/underlined]

One known ditching occurred in the Group during December – an aircraft (believed to be of 189 Squadron), returning to a diversion airfield after attacking Politz, came down in the sea about 5 miles N.W. of Banff. No signals were received from this aircraft, the incident being reported from land, and in spite of an extensive search no survivors were picked up though an aircraft wheel was seen.

[Underlined] CRASH STATIONS. [/underlined]

There have been several crashes recently in the vicinity of airfields during return from operations in bad weather. Captains of aircraft are reminded of the “Crash Landing Drill” (Appendix ‘C’ to Drill No.8 of 5 Group Aircraft Drills refers). This Drill says “The Pilot is to order ‘Crash Stations’ as soon as a crash is imminent or probable, i.e. landing in bad visibility or when the aircraft has suffered damage which is likely to make a normal landing difficult”.

[Underlined] PARACHUTES. [/underlined]

It has been noticed that a lot of pilots and rear gunners are still not using the Seat-type parachutes on all flights. This is now compulsory. See Air Staff Instruction Trg./7.

[Underlined] DRILLS. [/underlined]

A reminder that Saturday morning is still the Safety Drill morning. Get a practice done once a week and you won’t get your feet wet if you have to ditch. It’s cold in the North Sea these days.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Drawing] accidents

In reviewing flying accidents for the past 12 months, it is only fair to record what the Group has achieved in effecting a reduction in the actual rate of accidents during the period. This is best shown pictorally by means of the following graph:-

[Graph of Aircraft Damaged per 10,000 hours through 1944.]

The graph is self-evident and the consistent decrease in the rate throughout practically the whole year is something of which we can be proud. At the same time, without wishing to belittle the efforts of the those who have been responsible for achieving this reduction, we must not be misled by these figures into thinking that the accident rate is by any means satisfactory.

The hard fact still remains that in 12 months 360 aircraft were seriously damaged in flying accidents. Of these4 125 were totally destroyed including 60 cases in which one or more members of the crew received fatal injuries. In squadrons you can probably recall a fatal crash and perhaps a taxying collision and you may even have been involved in an accident yourself. We at Group as onlookers see most of the game; the accidents we can call to mind are not just isolated instances and it is for this reason that the above figures are quoted: to emphasise the serious consequences of accidents and to make quite clear that great effort is still required if we are to fulfil our aim of entirely eliminating unnecessary loss of lie and unnecessary damage to aircraft.

[Underlined] CAUSE AND PREVENTION. [/underlined]

If you have read past issues of ‘V’ Group News you will have seen repeated references to taxying accidents. It is not surprising therefore, that when examining all the avoidable accidents which have occurred during the year, we find that no less than 32% occurred whilst taxying. Barely is there the slightest excuse for this type of accident, particularly as Air Staff Instructions give adequate advice as to the means of safe taxying. Read Flying Control 24.

Overshoots and heavy landings together accounted for 22% of the avoidable accidents. These two causes have been linked together because

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] ACCIDENTS. [/underlined]

the root cause of each often lies in the approach and a good approach is dependent to a very great extent upon speed. Remember that when landing heavily laden there is no need for an excessively high final approach speed: 115 m.p.h. but never faster.

The next most serious cause from the point of view of numbers was swinging during take off and landing, accounting for 16% of the total. Once again we repeat the warning to open throttles slowly, easily and smoothly, and do not open up to full throttle before travelling 500 yards down the runway irrespective of your load.

A reminder to Squadron Commanders. Do not forget Air Staff Instruction Ops.2/47. This will help materially in the general drive to keep accidents down to a minimum.

[Underlined] THE NEW YEAR. [/underlined]

Thank you for the results achieved in 1944. You have proved what can be done and it only remains for this success to be continued and bettered in 1945.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Drawing] equipment

[Underlined] USE OF EQUIPMENT. [/underlined]

The Powers that Be are becoming very anxious about the large quantity of Service Equipment which is being mis-used. Instances quoted are Navigation Bags used for weekend holdalls, blankets as table coverings, etc. Equipment Officers can help the Station Commanders to stop this mis-use by pointing out any irregularities that come to their notice.

[Underlined] DISCREPANCIES IN BARRACK INVENTORIES. [/underlined]

Attention is drawn to Headquarters, Bomber Command, letter BC/50816/E.1 dated 19th December, 1944. If the station has not already broken down the Barrack Inventory into site inventories, under A.M.O. A.559/43, this should be done at once.

[Underlined] IN RETROSPECT. [/underlined]

The Equipment Officers and their staffs very rarely see the result of their work. Nevertheless the work they have put in during the last year has certainly helped the Group’s achievements. Without their good work this Group would not have done as much as it has. The New Year motto for the Equipment Section is “We get ‘em, you smash ‘em – we getcha some more!”

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

education [Drawing]

During December, Bomber Command opened its own E.V.T. school at Bourne. The aim is to train instructors for E.V.T. work after the cessation of hostilities with Germany. Groups are being asked to supply 10 instructors for each course, so that it is essential that a steady influx of volunteers is forthcoming from stations. Lists are submitted from Stations monthly, and the last two or three returns have not brought in nearly enough names to ensure the success of the scheme. There should always be publicity on stations asking for volunteers, and the importance of the work must be impressed on suitable candidates. It is realised that some men are put off by the fact that conditions of service have not yet been published, and by the idea the E.V.T. work might postpone demobilisation. It is thought that conditions of service will not be unfavourable, and great emphasis must be laid on the fact that no one will be kept in the service after they are due to be demobilised. It is clear that to postpone demobilisation after a person’s group is named to leave the service would destroy the whole foundation on which the scheme has been built.

The end of December makes a logical break in the winter programme, when the work of the last three months can be reviewed. Many stations have produced fairly good results, no station has done all that can be done even under present conditions. Classes at Lincoln have been well attended, there have been successful classes on stations. Some very good work has been done with aircrew cadets and handicraft and music clubs have flourished. There are still many deficiencies however. There are some stations where no classes are organised for Matriculation. It cannot be that on a station of strength 1000, there are not six people who want to take this important examination. The only explanation is bad publicity and lack of drive on the part of the Education Officer. Some stations have, as yet, no facilities for woodwork, while suggestions for the formation of cookery classes and instruction in Home Nursing for W.A.A.F. have brought little result. In some cases there is an inclination to wait for this Headquarters to arrange lectures and not enough initiative of the part of stations to obtain good lecturers themselves.

To an outside observer, the difference in the standard of News Rooms is very surprising. It is realised that some stations have better facilities for display and more comfortable furniture than others, although this is not always the fault of circumstances, but rather a lack of interest and initiative. Sometimes this deficiency is not on the side of the Education Officer, but often that officer is to blame for not making the best of his opportunities. There should be a frequent alteration of display material, with news and topical articles up to date. There is not enough variety of topics and far too many maps reproducing the same localities. One large map of Europe and one of the Far East are sufficient for keeping the War Fronts up to date. The large number of airmen using the News Rooms is a proof that far more time and attentions should be given by the officers concerned in making the rooms really first class.

The service as a whole has shown a greater realisation of the importance of education in the last six months. It is up to Education Officers to take advantage of this increased interest and to make their work attractive and appealing to the personnel of their station.

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Drawing] decorations

The following IMMEDIATE awards were approved during the month:-

[Underlined] 9 SQUADRON [/underlined]

F/O R.L. BLUNSDON DFC
P/O A.F. JONES DFC
F/O R.C. LAKE DFC
F/L E.F.A. JONES DFC
S/L A.G. WILLIAMS DFC
F/SGT A.H. HORRY DFM
P/O J.E. STOWELL DFC
P/O E. SHIELDS DFC
P/O D. MacINTOSH DFC
P/O W.D. TWEDDLE DFC
F/O R.C. HARVEY DFC
F/O F. SOWERBY DFC

[Underlined] 57 SQUADRON [/underlined]

A/F/O J.H.C. BRAHAM DFC

[Underlined] 617 SQUADRON [/underlined]

F/O A.J. WALKER DFC
F/O T.H.J. PLAYFORD DFC
W/O L.J. HAZELL DFC
P/O N. EVANS DFC
A/F/L R.E. KNIGHTS, DFC DSO
F/O A.E. KELL, DFC BAR TO DFC
W/C J.B. TAIT, DSO & 2 BARS, DFC & BAR 3RD BAR TO DSO

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

[Underlined] 44 SQUADRON [/underlined]

P/O S.J. BRISTOW
F/O N. STOCKWELL DFC
SGT H. McKNOX DFM
F/SGT A.J. FROST DFM
F/SGT E.R. BOLAND DFM

[Underlined] 49 SQUADRON [/underlined]

F/O H.F. ARNOLD DFC
F/O L.M. PEDERSON DFC
P/O J.C. FLEMING DFC
P/O J.A. CASTLES DFC
F/SGT E.R.G. HAINES DFM
F/SGT J. CHRISTIAN DFM

[Underlined] 49 SQUADRON (CONTD) [/underlined]

SGT J. SKIDMORE DFM
SGT J.A. RICHARDS DFM
W/O L.W.J. THOMAS DFM

[Underlined] 50 SQUADRON [/underlined]

A/S/L R.N. QUINN, DFC BAR TO DFC
P/O F.N. DAVIS DFC
F/O W.J. DAVIS DFC
A/F/O N. BALLANCE DFC
F/SGT F.A. KIRBY DFM
F/SGT E.T. MANNING DFM
F/SGT H. LEWIS DFM

[Underlined] 57 SQUADRON [/underlined]

F/O O.C. THOMAS DFC
F/O W.F. MARTIN DFC
F/SGT M.J. THORNE DFM
F/O K.E. BLY DFC

[Underlined] 61 SQUADRON [/underlined]

P/O D.W. SIMMONS DFC
W/O V.G. BURGESS DFC
F/SGT J.H. KEENAN DFM
W/O A.F.C. HARROW DFC
SGT J.A. LYON DFM
P/O E.J.H. ROBERTS DFC

[Underlined] 83 SQUADRON [/underlined]

W/O P.W. ALLWOOD DFC
A/F/O P.C. CORNISH DFC
F/O T.P. JUPP, DFC BAR TO DFC
F/SGT I.O. HARRIS DFM
F/O L. HATCHER, AFM DFC
F/SGT G.S. HAZELTINE DFM
F/O R. HOBBS DFC
F/O R.E.H. FOOTE, DFC BAR TO DFC
A/W/O W.G. TROTTER DFC
F/SGT M. BRENNAN DFM
W/O J.E. HUDSON DFC
P/O V.J. ROBLEY DFC

[Underlined] 97 SQUADRON [/underlined]

F/O J.A. PEARCE DFC
A/W/O G.D. MOIR DFC
A/F/L N.N. PARKER DFC
A/F/L G.H. LAING, DFC BAR TO DFC

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Underlined] 97 SQUADRON (CONTD) [/underlined]

F/SGT G. BROWN DFM
W/O A.J. CROLL, DFM DFC
W/O F.H. GREEN DFC
A/F/L G.H.R. POLSON, DFC, DFM BAR TO DFC
F/O P.J. HUMPHREYS DFC
F/SGT D.S. NICHOLLS DFM
F/SGT J.D. McINGLIS DFM
A/S/L T.H. MAKEPEACE, DFC BAR TO DFC
F/SGT W. MANDERSON DFM
F/SGT R. MOORE DFM
P/O A.A. AVELINE DFC

[Underlined] 106 SQUADRON [/underlined]

A/F/O J. NETHERWOOD DFC
F/O L. COEN DFC
A/S/L J.W. ALLINSON

[Underlined] 207 SQUADRON [/underlined]

F/O W. McINTOSH, DFM, DFC BAR TO DFC
F/O E. OAKES DFC
P/O C.B. SUTHERLAND, DFC BAR TO DFC
P/O G.D. CHESWORTH DFC
P/O J.S. COOK DFC
W/O G.W.J. AINSWORTH DFC

[Underlined] 617 SQUADRON [/underlined]

P/O W.G. EVANS DFC
W/O T.J. McLEAN, DFM DFC
A/F/O J. GINGLES, DFM DFC

[Underlined] 627 SQUADRON [/underlined]

F/L R.L. BARTLEY, DFC BAR TO DFC

[Underlined] 630 SQUADRON [/underlined]

A/S/L R.E. MILLICHAP DFC
F/L J.W. MARTIN DFC
F/O J.W. LENNON DFC
F/O M.A.J. BEAUDOIN DFC
A/F/L D.E. HAWKER DFC
F/O G.J. BATE DFC
F/O L.A.V. WOOD DFC

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

[Drawing] war savings

[Table of War Savings by Station]

[Underlined] GRAND TOTAL NATIONAL SAVINGS FOR DECEMBER, 1944 - £6,476. 7. 11d.

A- Approximate number of pence per head.
B – Approximate percentage of personnel saving.
C – Total savings.

[Page break]

It Happens Every Day!!

When A.C.W. Mary Jones arrived at Station Z,
She saw the Station Signals Off., and unto him she said,
“I’ve nine days leave to come, good sir, and it would be a boon
“If I could have it right away. My boy friend’s sailing soon”.
Without delay the woeful Waaf was whisked upon her way,
And when her time was up she sent a message reading “Pray
“Extend my leave a further week; the ship is still in port”.
The Signals Off. agreed to this – he was a decent sort.
But when the girl requested yet a further forty-eight,
He quite forgot his decency and telegraphed, irate,
“Return at once to unit”, but the errant maiden tarried,
And wired “I want another fortnight more, for I am getting married,
“The church is fixed; the guests are warned. This afternoon at two
“By special licence we’ll be wed. Our hours of bliss are few
“So please agree”. Defeated he confirmed this new request,
And fourteen days ensued of peace, with no word from the pest.
On day fifteen a gentle knock upon his office door
Announced that Mary Smith (nee Jones), was back in camp once more,
And wished to have an interview, which he with some elation
Agreed to give, because he wished a fuller explanation.
The genial soul was quite prepared to overlook the past;
A little talk was his intent, and so he gently gassed,
And maundered on, and moralised for quite a lengthy spell.
‘Mongst other things – “My dear”, he said, “I’m pleased to see you well;
“And now that you are back you’ll do your very best I know.
“The section’s very under-staffed. We need you ever so!”.
He stopped at last. The girl then spoke. (You’ll guess her purpose maybe).
“Oh sir” I’d like my ticket please” I’m going to have a baby!”

ANON. (Circa 1945.).

“V” GROUP NEWS. NO. 29. DECEMBER, 1944.

[Page break]

war effort

[Table of Aircraft and Sorties Carried out by Squadron]

[Underlined] NOTES: [/underlined] Squadrons are placed in the above table in order of “Successful Sorties per average 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 calculated on an establishment of 20.

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Collection

Citation

“V Group News, December 1944
,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed October 14, 2019, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/18664.

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