Wartime Halifax operations



Wartime Halifax operations


Written for Cornish aviation society. Welcomes Philip Jenkinson and gives account of his training and operations on 10 Squadron Halifax. Describes being shot down and baling out. Mentions evading, capture and as a prisoner being on a tour of his target of Munich. Continues with account of prison camp, approach of Russians and being moved eventually back to Germany. Concludes with account of repatriation.



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[italics] Chairman: [/italics] D.J. Ellery, [redacted]

[italics] Hon. Secretary: [/italics] F.R. Andrew, [redacted]

[italics] Hon. Treasurer: [/italics] J.J.M. Helson, [redacted]

No. 184 7/97 (July)

[underlined] WARTIME HALIFAX OPERATIONS - Philip Jenkinson. [/underlined]

We were pleased to welcome Philip Jenkinson to our July meeting and learn of his remarkable experiences in Bomber Command as the mid-upper gunner in a Halifax. As the story unravelled we could be excused into thinking new ere watching a TV documentary similar to “One of our aircraft is no longer missing”, such was the meticulous research carried out.

In 1942 when 17 years old, Philip gave up his job of working on a farm at Constantine and reported to the Falmouth Recruiting centre, opting for service in the RAF. At first he was sent to Trebelzue where he was able to gain useful air experience in a number of aircraft types. The next move was to Bridlington ITW and then for aircrew trains to Canada. He was to have sailed on the Queen Mary but that ship’s altercation with a cruiser, hushed up at the time, resulted in a dangerous 19 day trip on a banana boat. After successful completion of the course at McDonald airbase in Manitoba, Philip returned to England and joined a Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU) flying Whitleys. By the summer of 1943 he had graduated to the Halifax and joined 10 Squadron at Melbourne, Yorkshire.

Over the next two months Philip took part in a series of raids including one of 11hr 40min to Italy. Other targets included Hamburg and Mannheim, but things did not go too well on his tenth trip to Munich when night fighters were encountered. Before the target was reached a Messerschmitt Bf 109 attacked and on the third pass was shot down. However revenge was at hand in the form of a Ju 88 which attacked from behind and below and ripped the Halifax apart with cannon shells, setting it on fire. The rear gunner was killed but 4 other crew members managed to bail out before the Halifax blew up. Philip found himself floating down towards the woods and lakes in an area some 100 miles SW of Munich.

Once on the ground Philip made contact with the bomb-aimer who was not a regular crew-member and not as well prepared as Philip for this contingency. Parachutes were buried and plans made to escape towards the southern border of Germany. Philip had to share his escape kit which would normally last a week with his colleague. During the day they would lie low and even at night villages and farmhouses were to be avoided. Directions were established by picking up the main railway line from Munich, through Landsberg towards Kempton in a general SW direction. Food was becoming a problem and receiving a railway worker of his snack found in a hut did little to alleviate the pangs of hunger. After 9 days when creeping through Immenstadt at the dead of night they were recaptured by an armed German guard, given food and put in the cells for the night. The next move was to Dulag Luft in Frankfurt for interrogation and thence to Stalag Luft VI in East Prussia.

Clearly the Munich raid had upset Goering who had the survivors taken back for an unprecedented tour of the city showing the devastation caused to historic buildings, hospitals and churches, but the aircrew were not too upset! Goering was to address the crews in the Opera House but fate intervened as he was waylaid by the escape from Sagan of 50 British Officers whom he ordered to be shot. One wonders what plans he had for the Munich rain survivors, but the event had never been documented by either side.

Philip was then returned to his prison camp on the Russian border but as the war progressed the Russians were approaching and the prisoners were next moved to Thorn in Poland and eventually taken in cattle trucks to a camp north of Hanover. Finally the Allied armies were closing in with bombing and shelling being carried out in the vicinity. Liberation came as the Desert Rats moved in with their tanks on April 17th 1945. The RAF prisoners were all kitted out as Army privates and on 27th April flown back to Cosford in a Dakota. The passengers, 18 on each side holding on to a rail, were pleased to be back. RAF uniform with all relevant badges was supplied and 3 weeks leave granted. Although he could have been released, Philip was passed fit for flying and expected to be on Lincolns destined for the Far East. With the end of hostilities, he converted

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“Wartime Halifax operations,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 28, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/30620.

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