Memories of a Lancaster Bomber Raid



Memories of a Lancaster Bomber Raid


An account of an operation to Trondheim, Norway. The attack was aborted because of the danger of hitting Norwegian civilians. On the return they hit the sea and lost the tailwheel and H2S radar dome.




Temporal Coverage

Spatial Coverage



Two typed sheets


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MGanneyK1324929-170301-050001, MGanneyK1324929-170301-050002


On the night of November 22nd 1944 flying in DX-C 57 Squadron we went to bomb U Boat Pens in Trondheim, Norway. After circling the target for some time, the Master Bombing leader decided that he could not mark the target accurately enough to ensure avoiding local civilian casualties. The raid was aborted, and we were instructed to return to Base.
In the middle of winter the North Sea is rather on the dark side and there is little to occupy one’s mind and, as bomb Aimer in the nose of the Lancaster, I became somewhat bored – and sleepy!
I was suddenly roused into ‘action’ by (our Mid Upper Gunner) George Hillier, shouting to the skipper – “Pull up Jack we’re hitting the sea!!”
After several bumps we pulled up in a very steep climb to about 5,000 feet.
As Bomb Aimer, I then suggested to our pilot that we were bound to have lost our tail wheel and that we ought to jettison the bomb load prior to landing.
However, according to the skipper, pilots had been briefed that, in the event of the raid being aborted, they should bring the bombs back as they were getting scarce – My reply was “So are people like me!!”
The bomb door was then opened to see if any bombs had infact [sic] come loose. The pilot shook the aircraft about a bit, but everything appeared OK as far as I could see.
On landing back at East Kirby we soon found that we had lost the tail wheel when we started to drag the rear turret along the runway and the rear fins began to sheer off.
Sparks flew from the rear turret with our Canadian rear gunner shouting “What the Hell goes on? – My Goddam arse is on fire!”
After dragging the Lancaster off the runway on to the grass, the Pilot shut down the engines and the crew began to disembark – no ladder was needed!
The pilot, a Geordie from Newcastle, shouted out in his best Geordie accent “Is there much damage?” – and the Wireless Operator, also a Geordie, shouted back down the fuselage – again in a lovely Geordie accent, - “Away man Jack, you’ll hardly notice it!!” – except that in addition to the tail fins and the rear turret we had also lost the radar H2S bulge underneath.
Our Skipper died many years ago, but, the week before he died, George Hillier (Mid-upper Gunner), our original rear Gunner and myself visited him
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and I said to him “What were you doing the night we hit the sea Jack?” and in a very weak voice he replied, “I don’t know Man, but not a lot of people have done it!!”
I believe that he had forgotten to reset his altimeter to indicate his correct height above sea level prior to leaving Trondheim – so how long we had been flying just a few feet above the sea – we’ll never know!
On 23rd December 1944 he was instructed to take his log book to Station C.O, apparently Jack thought he would be getting a GREEN endorsement for bringing the aircraft safely back!! However, the Air Officer Commanding 5 Group directed that his log book be endorsed in RED as follows:
“Disobedience of orders – failed to fly at briefed height on returning from operations and damaged his aircraft by allowing it to hit the sea”
RAF Station, East Kirkby
23rd December 1944
Scan in endorsement
Keith Ganney
57 Squadron
East Kirkby, Lincs



Keith Ganney, “Memories of a Lancaster Bomber Raid,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 16, 2024,

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