Narrative of attack by Wellington E/621 on 2nd May 1944

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Title

Narrative of attack by Wellington E/621 on 2nd May 1944
Appendix E/2 to Form 540 No. 621 Squadron, May 1944
Re U582

Description

Account starts with crew names including Flight Sergeant Oliver Gomersal as navigator. Continues with front gunner seeing a wake which after following spotted a submarine. Detailed account of attack with depth charges and front gun and subsequent actions. Submarine surfaces and engages Wellington with anti-aircraft and main gun. Submarine trailing oil and attacked by another Wellington. Oliver Gomersal's crew return to base very short of fuel. Captioned 'Re U852'.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

1944-05-02

Contributor

Pat Allen

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

Two page typewritten document

Language

Identifier

MGomersalO139719-160530-02

Coverage

Spatial Coverage

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

[Inserted]Re U85] [/inserted]
Appendix E/2 to Form 540[Operations Record Book], No.621 Squadron, May, 1944
[underlined] NARRATIVE OF ATTACK BY WELLINGTON E/621 ON 2nd, MAY 1944 [/underlined]
Captain:- F/O [Flying Officer] Mitchell, R.H.
2nd. Pilot:- W/O [Warrant Officer] Riddell, H.
Front Gunner:- Sgt [Sergeant] Stevenson, W.R.
Navigator:- F/Sgt [Flight Sergeant] Gomersal, O.
W/T [Wireless/Telegraph] Operator:- F/Sgt Turner, J.
Rear Gunner:- Sgt Philip, A.R.
The Captain told 2nd. Pilot, who had been flying for 1 ½ hours at 5000’ [sic] [5000 feet] above 2/10 small cumulus cloud, to descend to 3000’ as cloud was increasing to 4/10 and there was a towering mass of cumulus ahead. 2nd Pilot had just re-engaged automatic pilot at cloud base of 3000’ when, 10 minutes after descent, front gunner acting as visual lookout in 2nd Pilot’s seat saw a wake at 8 miles 45 degrees to Starboard through the open weather window. Pilot dis-engaged auto. Pilot and turned 80 degrees to S’board [sic], and deciding that the cause of the wake could only be a Submarine owing to the relative size of wake to object causing it, told Navigator that he had so altered course to investigate probable Submarine. Captain immediatly [sic] went forward from astrodome and, looking through the front window, confirmed that object was a Submarine. He was not plugged into the intercom, but pushed the front gunner off the 2nd. Pilot’s seat and indicated to 2nd Pilot to close the throttles and leave the controls. W/T Operator sent SS 465 [sic] on operational day frequency, addressed to Aden [Port in Yemen] from his own callsign, and continued doing so up to attack. Captain had taken over controls at 6 miles range from Submarine. 2nd Pilot shut front turret door behind gunner and stood on Captain’s right. Rear Gunner put his guns to “fire” and prepared to observe the attack. Captain had descended with undercarriage down to 800’ at one mile range from Submarine, and had 80 degs.[sic] to turn to port to meet it head on. As he turned, the Submarine started to dive, leaving a heavy swirl and not more than 400’ to go in at 10 degs.[sic] to Submarine’s track. He knew, and had checked over on first handing over to 2nd Pilot, that all six depth charges had been properly selected and fused. Front Gunner opened fire giving long bursts with both guns with intervals of 1/2 second or less. He did not have to rotate the turret at all, and the tracer could be seen consistently hitting the base of the conning tower. On the run in, the Captain reckoned that the conning tower would only be showing when he arrived. Basing his judgement of distance on a target towed for practice at O.T.U. [Operational Training Unit] 150’ behind a launch, he aimed first depth charge to strike surface 250’ ahead of the still visible conning tower. The sun was low, but on the Port beam and did not cause glare. Both Pilots saw large bubbles in the foaming swirl of the conning tower, half of which was still visible when they passed over it. Front Gunner kept firing bursts until guns were fully depressed. The Navigator, standing in the astrodome, noticed the aircraft suddenly rise, and then saw all the depth charges hanging in mid air [sic]. They all fell dead in line with [sic], and the last one entered the swirl. Rear Gunner saw the tails of the last two depth charges hurled into the air, the others having gone off and left plumes of water. He saw the last depth charge had entered into the swirl. The Captain had the throttles closed during the attack; he increased RPM [revolutions per minute] and boost after release and immediately selected undercarriage up, and then bomb doors closed. He went into a climbing turn to Port asking “Have they exploded?” Tail Gunner answered “Yes”. Captain told 2nd Pilot to get the 8” [sic] [8 inch] camera.
[page number] 1
[page break]
He had reached 600’ one minute after release and turned through 180 degrees. Through the port window he saw the swirl with oil coming up in the middle and expanding over it. Navigator went straight to his table, worked out a DR [Dead Reckoning] position and noted the submarine’s estimated course and speed. He made out first sighting report within 3 minutes of release. Captain turned again more sharply through 180 degrees to Port and the 2nd pilot took two photographs of the oil patch through the open starboard sliding window. As he took them the Captain started turning to Starboard. Just before completing his third 180 degree turn, the Captain saw a white foaming ring beyond the oil patch with, apparently, the nose of the Submarine rising at 50 degrees to the horizontal. This was 5 minutes after release. The white ring expanded and it’s [sic] near edge mixed with the far edge of the oil patch. Captain told Pilot to get a photograph of the re-appearing nose for it seemed to him that it was going to slide back under. After the first photograph the nose sunk, but the whole Submarine surfaced. A second photograph was taken and Captain circled to Starboard for a third. Captain was at 400’, almost overhead, when he saw puffs of smoke from the conning tower and almost immediately tracer coming up in front of E/621. He turned to Port and made off into the sun taking corkscrew avoiding action.
Rear Gunner, being told by 2nd Pilot that they were being fired at, had his gun fully depressed and slightly turned to starboard, opened fire 4 seconds before the Submarine appeared underneath at some 200 yards range. He kept firing in two 15 second bursts, raking the deck and pouring tracer into the conning tower, until the Submarine stopped firing tracer. He then saw shells exploding in the water, and when range had been opened to 3 miles he saw a black puff from the Submarine and then another puff as a shell exploded two or three hundred yards behind in the water. He told Captain “they are firing big stuff”. One puff came every 20 seconds until range was opened to opened to 7 miles. Captain then turned to Port and patrolled round at 1500’. Every time he closed to 4 miles the Submarine opened fire. Submarine kept turning to keep on a course parallel to E/621, apparently fearing that a second bombing attack was imminent. Captain tried but failed to head Submarine to West and towards land. The oil trail left by Submarine indicated plainly that it had that it had made 1 3/4 circuits to Port inside the circuits of E/621, and that the mean line of advance was 170 degrees. Navigator got out the amplifying report 7 minutes after the first sighting report or 10 minutes after release. Submarine continued firing every five minutes. Two hours 10 minutes after release the W/T Operator told Captain that another aircraft was sending 465 [sic]. Captain looked at the Submarine and then saw another white Wellington about to attack and 2 or 3 miles closer than “E” to the Submarine – and it was too late to close and create a diversion. E/621 saw the other Wellington go in and release and being fired at 400 yards range. After 50 minutes more patrolling out of range “E” reached P.L.E. [Permitted Limit of Endurance] and returned to land at SCUSCIUBAN [airfield, Italian Somaliland], with 30 gallons of fuel only, all in the tank of one engine.
Signed,
R.H. Mitchell. F/O
[page number] 2

Collection

Citation

R H Mitchell, “Narrative of attack by Wellington E/621 on 2nd May 1944,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed August 13, 2020, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/6087.

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