ER James War Diary



ER James War Diary


A detailed diary of ER James' operations. On the first pages are a photograph of his crew and their names. Included with the text are several aerial photographs and newspaper cuttings.




38 page handwritten diary


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[Front cover of notebook]

[page break]

[rubber stamp of retailer] Loxley Brothers Ltd.


[photograph missing]

Left to Right.
1 A Costling 2 P Raynor 3 JT Smith 4 J Brown 5 DN Reid 7 F Docker 6 R James.


The Gen Crew.

[Black and White photograph]

Wop RG Mog Pilot Set Op Eng. Nav.

[page break]


Wop ALEX. R. Gun. Mid upp. J Smith. Pilot J Brown BA. D Reid Eng. R James Nav Dockar.

[page break]


[picture of Air Chief Marshall Arthur Harris]


Elsham Wolds. 576 SQD
KEIL night
23 July 1944
In The Old J2

Medium to light flak.
Very few searchlights
never saw a fighter.

Quiet A nice trip took 5-30 hrs
Receiver in Wireless went u/s but okay after changing valve. Used emergency working.

No damage to aircraft at all.
Saw no kites Shot Down although a few were.
Good prang saw fires through thick clouds.

[page break]


576 Squ
2nd operation
24 July 1944 Night
in J2
Concentrated heavy flak over the aiming point and along the bombing run
Very few searchlights
Bags of fighters one flew alongside of us. Bags of panic

No damage to the kite at all but quiet [sic] a few were shot down.

Not a bad trip but too many fighters knocking around and 9-15 hrs is too long for me to be in the air
A really good prang

[page break]


576 Sqd
3rd Operation
28th July 1944 Night.
In J2.

More flak than last time and more fighters yes sir a lot more fighters
Few searchlights.
Bags of chop fighters escorted us over France right to target and back again and they were not ours

Last time we couldn’t have pranged it so good but this time I dont [sic] think we will have to go again for a bit.
Rear gunner shot a fighter rocket down.
67 Lancs were lost.
We got away without a scratch.

[page break]


576 Sqd.
4th Operation.
31 July 1944. Le Havre day.
In R2
1st Daylight raid.
Target port installations and U boat pens.
Bags of predicted flak.
Saw kite in front shot down in flames. That shook me.
No fighters
Afterwards learned that two destroyers were sunk in the harbour.
Actually saw bombs raining down on target.

We suffered no damage at all.
Starboard outer had to be feathered going out.
We were diverted to Lindholme because of bad weather
Trip lasted 4-30.

[page break]


5th Operation. 576 Sqd
3 Aug 1944 Trossy/St Maximin Day.
2nd Daylight Raid.
Flying bomb main depot.
Bags of predicted flak
Saw two kites shot down
No Fighters. Had spitfires escorting us.

Had good view of France
Went quite a way in just north of Paris actually.
B.A. Saw one kite knocked out of the air with some one elses bombs.
Not a very good prang.
It took 4-40 hrs.
Kit was R2.

[page break]


576 Sqd
6th Operation
Pauillac. Day.
4th August 1944. 3rd Daylight
Back again in J2

Target was an oil refinery. Escorted by Mosquitoes and Spitfires.
Real good trip and a real smashing prang smoke up to 10,000
Not one burst of flak and no fighters.
Saw huge flames after oil tanks had been hit.
Two tankers were hit.
Went out about 100 ft above the sea.
Altogether the best trip up to now although it took 8-15 hrs.

[page break]


576 Sqd
7th Operation
Blave Day
5 August 4 Daylight in J2

Target another oil refinery.
Escorted by spitfires and Mos

Quiet [sic] a decent trip similar to Pauillac just opposite side of river.
Just a bit of flak
One JU 88 got into stream but was last seen heading east with a few Mos on his tail.

Not quiet [sic] as good a prang as yesterdays but a nice trip
It took 8-25 hrs.
Diverted to Worksop.

[page break]


576 Sqd.
8th Operation.
Battle area (Nr Caen)
7th august 1944 Night attack.
Target. German defences holding up our troops.

Just light flak.
A few enemy night fighters.
Rear gunner saw one but it didnt [sic] see us. Thank the lord.

Very unsatisfactory raid
PFF ran out of target indictors.
We brought all our bombs back.
Trip took 4-10 hrs

Kite was J2.

PS. That was our last trip from 576 Sqd. and as PFF had boobed on the trip above we thought we would try our hand at it.

[page break]

[newspaper cutting]

Little Staughton PFF 582 Sqd.
Stettin. Night.
29th August 1944. 9th Operation.
Target was the Town & Docks
In another J.

To show there was no ill feeling we went right over Sweden and boy their lit up towns sure looked good. Their light flak look very pretty too.
Over Stettin there was one huge belt of searchlights and more flak than I have ever seen before
Quite a few fighters around but we weren’t attacked.
Actually we were the first kite over Stettin.
Not a bad trip but I think rather too long.
It took 9-20.

[page break]


1st Rhur Trip.

11-9-44. PFF 582 Sqd.
10th Operation. Day.
(Castrop Rauxiel)
In the Rhur. Five miles from Dortmund.
Synthetic Oil Plant.
Kite was E

First kite over target again and plenty of flak to welcome us. It was just like one solid wall. bits of flak hit various parts of kite including the starboard outer engine
No fighters were seen and only nine aircraft were lost. Every kite on our squadron had some damage due to flak.
Trip took 3¾ hours
Did two bombing runs as no Tis were down when we first arrived and that was no picnic

[page break]


13 Sept 1944. PFF Sqd 582
11th Operation.
Day. Target Osnabruck
Big railway junction.
Kite was E.

Slight flak
No fighters

Quite a good prang bags of black smoke looked as if some oil had been hit.
Cruised round target to watch the main force bomb. Saw the old cookies going down.

A real good trip
It lasted 4 hrs 5 mins.

Want rest of trips like this one

[page break]


[newspaper cutting]

PFF 582 Sqd.
12 th Operation.
15 Sept. Kiel Night.
Target was the town.

Medium flak
Few searchlights.
Night fighters just a few
Kite was O
First kite over target again
Saw Jerries spoof target indicators going down.
Quiet [sic] a decent prang bit that I saw of it.

The kite was in a terrible condition and I never expected it getting to Kiel never mind getting us back.

Trip lasted 5 hrs 35 mins. Similar to last Kiel raid.
First Electric storm we had experienced and it was quite interesting to watch.

[page break]


PFF 582 Sqd.
13th Operation
5 Oct. Saarbrucken .
Target was town which is a supply base for the Siegfreid [sic] line.

Medium flack
Plenty of fighters
As we were late we had to retain our flares.
Not a very eventful trip it lasted 5-10.
Seemed to be a very good prang bit what I saw of it.
Attacked by a JU88 but we evaded okay.

[page break]


2nd Rhur Trip
[newspaper cutting]
7 Oct. Saturday morning.
Just been out to the kite and up to now they have found 60 flak holes in her. The No 1 fuel tank (starb) had been holed and starb inner feathering pipe line almost in two

PFF Sqd 582
14th Operation.
6th Oct 1944 day.
Scholven (Rhur).

The most intense heavy predicted flak we have ever seen.
Every one of the engines hit. So many holes in kite that we couldn’t count them. Me and bomb aimer in the nose when nose was hit. Piece of flack hit him and went in his shoulder he is now in hospital. Gee what a feeling when that lump hit us.
We now have some respect for Jerries gunners.
No fighters
Trip lasted 3-45

[page break]


3rd Rhur Trip.

PFF 582 Sqd
15th Operation
12th Oct 1944. Day.
Wanneikel (Rhur.)

Worst trip we have had.
Not much flak but deadly accurate and we seemed to be the target all the time.
We were it on the way to the target but no extensive damage was done then we were hit on the bombing run. After bombing we were hit and the port inner started to smoke after it was feathered the starboard inner packed up and we found we couldn’t feather it.
The starboard outer had a bad oil leak and the temp went up to 130. With only two engines running we lost height down to 4500 and coming back away from the target they let us have it again this time hitting

[page break]

the oxygen supply lines.
We tried to get a landing field in Belgium and France but it was no good and we knew we should have to get it back to England. So we went south down France and across where the channel was the narrowest and obtained permission to land at Manston their emergency run way. With a deadly cross wind we got the undercart down with emergency air and managed to feather the starb inner engine. Then to finish things off in a fine style we found the starb wheel was flat. Well, on landing we swung over to starboard and ripped off one of the wheels. Then the kite caught fire and boy I reckon no one ever got out of a kite so quick as us. So after all the trouble we had, we had the pleasure of seeing the kite burn after one of the tanks had exploded and I guess that was the end of Apple.
But it was pretty hot and we didnt [sic] feel safe until we had two feet firmly on the floor.
Well thats [sic] the third time we have been shot up over the happy valley and believe me the Rhur is no picnic at night so in daylight as can be guessed it’s pretty grim.
Gee it was a close one.

[page break]


[aerial photograph]

Confirmed not only biggest RAF daylight raid but the heaviest raid ever on any target in the war (up to now). We dropped more than 4500 tons in 25 minutes.
BBC reporter gave very good description of the target as he saw it.

4th Rhur Trips.
16 Operation: PFF 582 Sqd.
Oct 14 1944. Day (Morning).
Bombed at 0907.
Duisburg. (Happy Valley).

Another Rhur trip but much more pleasant.
Flak didn’t hinder us at all got quite a real good bombing run and the target was well ablaze before I bombed.

Was the biggest show put on by Bomber Command in daylight over 1,000 bombers took part.
This was why the flak didn’t bother us very much.

No enemy fighters. We had 16 squadrons of fighters escorting us.
Very good trip it lasted 3 hrs 35 mins.
We carried incendries.

[page break]


5th Rhur Trip.

PFF 582 Sqd.
17th Operation.
Duisburg. Night.
Attacked at approx 0320 on morning of 15th Oct 1944.

Saw blaze from fires started in last raid about 100 miles from target and when we were coming back they were still visible 150 miles away.

The target was one huge blazing inferno but the flak was still rather active.
Saw no fighters

Didn’t’ fly with my crew I went with a crew whose engineer was on leave.
Not a bad trip picture of Lanc. dropping incenderies over Duisburg.

[page break]


18th Operation. PFF 582 Sqd
15 Oct. Night.
Attacked at 1535 sat night. Naval base. Was the target.

Not a great deal of flak but it was pretty accurate.
Had to bomb on DR as we were first on and no Tis were down when we were there.

We were attacked by a fighter but rear gunner saw it coming in and we did evasive action and lost it.

Quite a good trip it lasted 4 hrs 10 mins

Kite was “B”eer

[page break]

16 Day Oct 1944.
Daily Express reporters impressions of the two Duisburg.

[newspaper cutting]

[page break]


6th Rhur Trip

PFF. 582 Sqd.
19th Operation
25 Oct. 1944. Daylight.
Target Homberg. Rhur.
(Opposite side of river to Duisburg)

Flak rather intense mainly from Duisburg.
No Fighters

Quite a sight to see all the bombers going out to Essen and to our target.

Couldn’t see results of the attack because of the thick cloud.

Saw one kite or what was left of it burning might have been a scare-crow.

Trip lasted approx 4 hrs
Kite was “E”asy.

[page break]


[aerial photograph]

PFF 582 Sqd.
20th Operation. 28 Oct 1944.
Dutch Island.
Target Defence Positions.

No flak.
No fighters.

Bang on attack
bombed at 4,700

Perfect run in and got an aiming point.

Wouldn’t mind rest of trips like this one.

It only lasted about 2 hrs.

First time we have had icing as bad as this.

[page break]


PFF 582 Sqd.
21st Operation. 30 Oct 1944.

Bags of predicted flak. Quiet [sic] a few fighters around
No searchlights.

Almost a full moon. 10 cloud. Bombed on Wanganowi [sic] flares.
Flak was shooting them out of the sky.

Hit in both starboard fuel tanks lost a lot of fuel. Both generators went for a burton and the 1196 us.
It lasted about. 4-40.

This is another trip I’ve done with another crew.
900 aircraft on.

[page break]


BBC reporter Richard Dimbleby flew with our squadron on the way back they were calling up George and asking if Richard was alright I didnt [sic] hear them call up and as if we were okay in L London though

PFF 582 Sqd.

22nd Operation. 31st Oct 1944.

Not very much flak. Bags of fighters and quite a lot were the new jet propulsion type
No searchlights.

full moon made almost like a daylight operation.

Were not hit at all by flak

Saw one kite shot down by flak over the target.

500 aircraft took part.

Went with same crew as last time.

[page break]


[indecipherable word] aiming point.

[newspaper cutting]

PFF 582 Sqd

23rd Operation 16 Nov 1944.
Target “Julich”.

Medium flak
No fighters seen

Had to feather port outer just out of target area. But not through enemy action. Made two runs over target.

Over 2,000 aircraft on these targets today. Most important raids since D day. Said this was the beginning of end of the Third Reich as the Americans were to advance across Rhine. These raids were prelude to the advance.

No flak damage this time again.
Trip lasted 4 hrs.

[page break]


[aerial photograph]

Caught a packet.
Saw no kites shot down but the bombing seemed rather haphazard.
Trip took 3 3/4 Hrs.

7th Rhur. PFF 582 Sqd.

24th Operation 18th Nov 1944

Target “Munster”.

No fighters.
Medium Flak.

Biggest daylight penetration by RAF Bomber Command and fighter opposition was expected but none were met.
Pretty accurate flak at points into the target but nothing to worry about. As we approached Munster we saw a bit of flak coming up and then it stopped all together
Had some trouble with Gee at take off and just before the target a hatch blew off and with the noise it made we thought we had

[page break]


8th Rhur trip PFF582 Sqd
25 th Operation. 21 Nov 1944.
Target Castrop Rauxiel [sic]
Synthetic oil plant.

Medium flak.
Few fighters.
Bags of searchlights.

Got hit last time we went there but didn’t this time. Although the flak seemed pretty accurate.
The searchlights coned us once but we soon got away and I wasn’t sorry either.

We had no trouble with the fighters.
Not a bad trip saw bags of activity as we passed over the front line.
trip lasted 4 1/2 hrs approx.

[page break]


9th Ruhr Trip.

PFF 582 Sqd.

26 Operation. 27 November.
Target. Neuss.

Slight heavy flak.
No fighters.
Few searchlights.

No trouble at all on this trip one of the quietest trips we have had.
Saw bags of activity on the front line and they were firing at us with light flak but it caused us no trouble.

Trip lasted approx. 4 1/2 hrs.

[page break]


10th Rhur Trip

PFF582 Sqd.

27 Operation. 30 Nov.

Target. Duisburg.

Medium heavy flak
Very few searchlights.
No fighters.

a real good trip no trouble at all and it seemed quite a decent prang.
Use ground and sky markers but cloud hid ground Tis quite effectively.

Trip lasted 4 1/4 hrs.

[page break]


PFF 582 Sqd.

28 Operation. 3 Dec 1944.

Target. Heimbach.
Dam Busting.

Flak Nil.
Fighters Few. (ME 262)

Tactical Target.

Unable to bomb covered with cloud which was 1000 ft base so had to cancel raid. Brought all bombs back
Very disappointing raid
Raid lasted 4 1/2 hrs.

[page break]


PFF 582 Sqd.

29th Operation. 6th Dec 1944

Target: Leipzig.
Oil Refiner.
Bags of heavy flak.
Bags fighters.
No Searchlights.

Being the second largest oil refinery in Germany it was very well defended.
Were attacked by fighter. But we evaded them okay. Thanks to gunners spotting him.
Saw a target which was pranged earlier on by Bomber Command and boy was it blazing. This trip tired us out more than any. Maybe because we are used to the Rhur.
Trip lasted. 6 3/4 hrs.

[page break]


11 Rhur Trip.

PFF 582 Sqd.

30th Operation. 13 Dec 1944
Target Essen.
Rail Centre.

Very heavy heavy flak.
Lot of fighters.
No searchlights.

Not a bad trip but the flak was pretty heavy and very accurate

Quiet [sic] a few jet fighters knocking around but we wern’t [sic] attacked.

saw two kites shot down over target.

Trip lasted approx 4 hrs.

[page break]


[aerial photograph]

PFF 582Sqd.

31st Operation 15 Dec

Target. Ludwigshaven
Chemical Industry.

Slight heavy flak.
No fighters.
Lots of searchlights.

Feathered engine going to target after it had caught fire. That was after I had feathered the wrong one. I sure had my finger jammed then. Had a little difficulty on landing with choosing the grass to land on instead of the runway. Finger trouble again. Looked a real good prang.
Trip lasted approx 5 hrs.

[page break]


12th Rhur Trip.


PFF 582 Sqd.

32nd Operation. 18 Dec.

Slight heavy flak.
Few fighters.
Few searchlights.

Flak did cause us to alter course coming out of the target but other than that it caused us no trouble at all.
One fighter crossed just above us from starboard to port but he didnt [sic] see us.
Coming out of the target we were attacked. Rear Gunner let him have it. but he didnt [sic] return our fire and we lost him. Not a bad trip.
It lasted 4 3/4 hrs.

[page break]

End of Tour.

No of trips 32
German 26
French 5
Dutch 1.

No of Daylights. 14
No of Nights 18

No of Rhur Trips 12

Total No of Points 152.

Pilot. JE Brown (three engine Brown they call me)
Navigator. F Dockar
Bomb Aimer. M Reid
Wireless Operator.
Mid Upper Gunner. J. D. Smith
Rear Gunner. [signature]
Engineer. [signature]


E R James, “ER James War Diary,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 24, 2024,

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