Two disturbing incidents



Two disturbing incidents


Incident 1. Describes ground loop on engine run up for take off. Pilot subsequently posted away.
Incident 2. Describes watching another aircraft taking off when its flaps fell down and bomb doors opening as it reached take off speed on the runway. Manage take off but took airfield fences with it and subsequently landed wheels up. Problem ascribed to hydraulic problem due to flak damage. Goes on to describe an incident with his own aircraft where a piece of flak shrapnel ricocheted through aircraft causing several different things to happen to mid upper gunner, pilot and the aircraft. Concludes with description of a fire arms incident he was involved in at Moreton-in-the-Marsh where he was an instructor at a later date.




Temporal Coverage



Three page printed document


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Flying Officer Thomas and Crew, "C" Flight 102 Squadron, Pocklington Yorkshire


Incident One

It was an August 1944 daylight operation. Take-off was early afternoon. The aircraft preceding ours turned onto the runway, straightened, performed engine run-up, then at two thousand revs opened the throttles to full power, 3100 revs and immediately went into the most visious righthand groundloop possible rotating a full 360° almost on the spot and then ran backwards 50 meters [sic] along the runway, came to a shuddering stop, all four engines stalled. While this frightening performance was taking place the Halifax was vibrating violently and the slipstream from the airscrews was visible curling upwards like a willy-willy. Next day the pilot was posted to fighters our C.O saying "He can kill himself but he is not killing anyone on my squadron.”

Incident Two

It was a late October 1944 afternoon, dusk not far away. Our Halifax V-Victor turned onto the runway and the preceding aircraft was well down the runway and close to take-off speed, suddenly the flaps fell down, the bomb doors opened and 1000lb bombs were bouncing about all over the place. The quick thinking pilot selected undercarriage up and the aircraft disappeared down the dip at the end of the runway, crossed the Hull/York Road takingt [sic] both boundary fences with it and went into the area known as the "butts" where time expired ammunition was fired-off. After some delay while the bombs were moved and declared safe V-Victor was given the green light and proceeded to take-off. As the scene became visible we saw the Halifax in its belly-landed position clear of any obstacles and the crew standing around looking at their aircraft. Hydraulic failure was the cause but no logical explanation was offered as to the reason. Over the years I came to the conclusion that the aircraft had suffered Flak damage, the skin had been repaired but bruising of an adjacent hydraulic [inserted] line [/inserted] had not been observed. Under full pressure associated with take-off failure had occurred.

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{3} The episode described herein happened on operations but I relate it because of the extraordinary behaviour of a piece of shrapnel [flak] from an 88 mm anti-aircraft gun.

On leaving the target, Munster, we were within the range of a bursting anti-aircraft shell [it sounds like a pride of lions roaring] We heard the bangs as it pierced the starboard rudder and fuselage, then hit the quick release lever of the mid-upper gunner's seat and tipped him out on the floor protesting loudly. It then ricochetted [sic] onto the plywood floor and bounced forward hitting the pipe spar supporting the windscreen and ricochetted onto the top of my leather helmet [pilot] I felt the sudden heat, grabbed it, and feeling the heat through my leather glove, dropped it on the floor. I felt for blood on my head but could only feel a cut in the helmet. Back at base examination revealed a 60 mm cut in the leather but the chamois lining of the helmet was undamaged. The piece of flak was about the size of a Darrel-Leas square chocolate but a little thicker and had veneer from the plywood floor embedded in the underside.

[The mid-upper gunner's protest accused the bomb-aimer of hitting the seat quick release because the latter had a habit of doing so when going to the rear of the aircraft. On this occasion it drew a plaintive "What have I done?" from the bomb-aimer located in the nose of the aircraft]

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Having completed a tour of operations I was posted to Moreton-in-the-Marsh as an instructor. The Officers quarters were located near the southern boundary well away from any other buildings. In order to supplement my food intake I found a local farmer who sold me eggs; on this occasion duck eggs. After a few days I discovered one of the eggs was rotten and I decided to dispose of it.

[It was about the end of February 1945. Von Rundsteds winter offensive and the "battle of the bulge" were over and many German pows including troublesome SS were in a number of camps close to the airfield. There had been attempted break-outs by SS and we had been issued with Smith and Wesson pistols, and warned to be on the alert at all times] So this dark night I went to the boundary and threw the rotten egg into the adjoining woodland: it landed and there was a loud bang and I rushed back into my hut. From the next hut Pilot-Officer Jack --- an RAF flight-engineer raced out and challenged "Who goes there?" No answer, so he promptly fired off two shots and after several minutes returned to his hut, satisfied no one was there.

The following morning I looked over the fence and about 15 meters [sic] in from the boundary was a rusted 44 gallon drum, the only rubbish in the area. I had scored a direct hit. At breakfast I sat next to the flight-engineer and asked "Did you shoot any SS last night?" Then I told him about the rotten egg. The only reply "you bastard."



J H Thomas, “Two disturbing incidents,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 23, 2024,

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