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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

Old 26th Jan 2024, 09:28
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Even though in Lincolnshire Binbrook wasn't flat. I had a look at the OS 1:50k map - there is a 113m point roughly where the threshold of 03 was, the 21 end was approx 97m so 370 ft to 320ft, you pays your money etc. When eating my Cathedral City at my lowly 55m I thought whoever stuck an airfield up there must have been totally bodmin, to use the venacular, maybe they thought it would normally be above the cloud. (Addendum: Cathederal City is manufactured alongside the former RAF Davidstow Moor - but I forgot to meention it was that airfield)

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Old 26th Jan 2024, 11:22
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In the latest post on the Chipmunk thread commenting on the photo Megan says 'Suspect the chap in the rear is instructor Jack Williams who was of very small stature, flew as a rear gunner in Lancasters engaged in spoofing during WWII.' I think he may be the same as 'H. J. (Jack) Williams RAAF, (who) was a Mid Upper Gunner who completed 30 missions in Laurie McKenna's SR-V (Venus) LL779' with 101 Sqdn. I came across some anecdotes related by his son.

'
A Movement card quoted in the book "RAF Lancaster LL779" says the aircraft had to be returned to the factory for a new airframe because of heavy damage over Berlin. Dad had related that during an attack VENUS flipped on its back…the "special" bailed out…..but the rest of the crew remained because Laurie was able to get LL779 back on an even keel.

Ironically Dad, retrained a former JU88 pilot for his flying licence after he migrated from Germany to Australia in the 60's…..they figured that they had probably met somewhere over Germany during the war.


(source: https://ww2aircraft.net/forum/thread...magna-uk.7500/)
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Old 26th Jan 2024, 16:44
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Airfield height presumably was a factor in the bitterly cold winds which swept the Wolds, as remembered by one who spent four childhood years at Binbrook. But they wouldn't concern me as much as the north-south alignment of Ludford's main runway. Given the prevailing winds from the west, encouraging the aircraft to weathercock to the left, the Lancaster's full power swing to the left on takeoff, and the crosswind component in effect shortening the runway, the loaded aircraft must have been a real handful. No wonder Ron and his crew were worried knowing that N2-Nan was down on performance.
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Old 26th Jan 2024, 18:54
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Pilot Officer Sam Brooks, London, Special operator, 101 Sqn, concludes his account of special operations from Ludford Magna in Lincolnshire

AS THE years have gone by life has of course developed in many other directions but I have always been reminded of Keith when a place, or a song, or some other thing has sparked a memory of our close but brief comradeship. He is the one I think of and shed a tear for on Armistice Day. Secretly, over the intervening years, I felt a need to find out where Keith was buried and to visit the grave to say a sombre and measured farewell.

The opportunity to follow that wish came on the 50th anniversary of the war's end approached. I made enquiries at the Ministry of Defence as to war graves and received a very speedy and helpful response. Keith was buried in a cemetery near Cambrai on the road that goes in the direction of Solesmes in grave B, row 31 -- all very precisely military. My wife and I crossed the channel to Calais early on the morning of 21 July 1994, the fiftieth anniversary of Keith's death.

We drove to Cambrai past some of the massive military cemeteries from World War One. Through the town we found the road to Solesmes and looked for our cemetery. The only one in sight was a German World War One cemetery, well tended and stark with granite crosses. We passed it by looking for the more familiar British headstones. On to Solesmes, still no other cemetery of any nation and we re-traced our steps towards Cambrai, thinking we had missed it.

The German cemetery was on the outskirts of Cambrai itself and in desperation we stopped there hoping to obtain directions. Inside a gardener was cutting hedges and I went to speak to him not knowing whether to try German or my more halting French. After my first words he replied to me in English. He was a Londoner, an employee of the British War Graves authorities. Apparently the gardeners did not always work in the cemeteries of their own nations.

Yes, he did know where World War Two RAF graves might be found. They were in a plot set aside in the civilian cemetery next door, only 100 yards from where we were speaking. We were quickly there, and sure enough we found a group of some 40 RAF graves. The dates on the headstones told their own sad stories. There were sets of headstones, side by side with the same date, clearly each set from the same bomber crew.

The group for 21 July 1944 had four headstones, one of them Keith's. I did not know the other names in that crew. There were two gaps in the line. I learned later that these probably represented the spots where bodies had been repatriated by relatives, probably to Canada. So that was it, two had survived, four were here, and two had moved on. The whole crew of eight were accounted for.

In my mind's eye, over the 50 years, I had imagined Keith as having been found, and his body, still in uniform, laid peacefully to rest. I looked at the headstone, and carefully carved at the top was the RAF crest, and at the foot the words 'Proud and treasured memories'. That must have been Florence's wording. I read the other words, 'Pilot Officer K. Gosling. Pilot. Royal Air Force. 21st July 1944. Age 19'.

Did I say that one should never go back to renew old acquaintances? Well, as you know Keith was a wireless operator like me. Why should it say pilot on the headstone? How much had they found to bury? I was strangely upset.


Pilot Officer Keith Gosling (19) alongside his flight engineer F/Sgt Ian Reid (21) rests forever among their Bomber Command comrades in the Cambrai cemetery. They were two of 1,176 airmen who gave their lives while serving with 101 (Special Duties) Squadron, Royal Air Force.
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Old 26th Jan 2024, 22:59
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How poignant are these military cemeteries. As Sam Brooks points out, always laid out in parade like rows and groups, whether in the large CWGC cemeteries overseas or the more intimate village churchyards of the UK. Just like Keith Gosling's grave, my father's has precise co-ordinates; Yokohama War Cemetery, Plot K, Row D, Grave 8, British Section. My mother received this information in a letter from the Imperial War Graves Commission, Melbourne, Australia together with a brochure containing photos of the different national plots there and and the Cross of Remembrance that overlooks so many such cemeteries worldwide. She was never able to visit it but I was fortunate enough to have a day off on a stopover at Tachikawa, then a USAF base near Tokyo, and was able to do so.

I took the short train ride to the Port of Yokohama and using the locality map in the brochure made my way up to the cemetery. It is laid out on a hillside above the town and, as one would expect, is immaculate albeit the grass had turned brown at the time. So I found the plot, then the row, and counted off the graves. Suddenly I was confronted by a bronze plaque bearing my name well, my surname and our shared first initial actually, together with the service number, rank, date of death, and the Royal Artillery badge (he was in a LAA TA battery). It really pulled me up short to be at his graveside having concentrated so much on getting there and finding it that I had given little thought on what I would feel or even do. I gathered myself, stood in silence (I forget, but probably at attention, it comes so naturally at times like this if you've served), said a few words, and took photographs of the grave and the cemetery for my mother. It was all eerily quiet despite the surrounding habitation, though Google Maps shows much more development since then, with a motorway on one side of the cemetery and a children's playground on the other so I doubt that is still the case. I signed the visitors book in the small stone shelter near the entrance and made my way back in good time to reassure my captain that he still had a full crew for our return journey to Changi.

Since then my wife and two sons have visited Japan and stood at the graveside themselves to pay their respects to a grandfather they never knew. War is an abomination and its curse lasts generations, but the CWGC does wonderful work worldwide to give solace to all who visit its sombre cemeteries. A noble duty and very well done!
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Old 27th Jan 2024, 08:47
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I read the other words, 'Pilot Officer K. Gosling. Pilot. Royal Air Force. 21st July 1944. Age 19'.
Did I say that one should never go back to renew old acquaintances? Well, as you know Keith was a wireless operator like me. Why should it say pilot on the headstone?
Perhaps not the first time the rank and role have been mistakenly correlated. Equally, as a "Special", perhaps secrecy was still being imposed?
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Old 27th Jan 2024, 09:03
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Indeed MPN. I wonder what the crews were briefed to say in the event they were shot down and all 8 were captured. Why would there be 2 WOP/AG on board? I believe some of the Specials were of German descent and perhaps also Jewish? 2 pilots were explained easily by a new skipper flying a second dickie trip or two, but two WOPs would be in for a difficult time with interrogators.

It'd be interesting to know the effect on the CofG and handling of all that equipment and another body in the rear fuselage, or what was traded off - the only thing I can think of would be the ammunition for the turrets, as there's not really any space up front to add anything to counter.
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Old 27th Jan 2024, 10:55
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In my possession is a War Office folder with a photograph of the temporary wooden marker and grave reference for my great-uncle who was killed in France in 1916, it enabled my brother and I to visit his grave eighty years later. We always go to visit his grave when we are nearby, having also visited French, German and American war cemeteries I think the CWGC ones have a particular solemn beauty. It long been my opinion that those politicians with responsibility for decisions on war and peace should be made to walk slowly around Tyne Cot, Étaples, Bayeux, Thiepval etc. reading the names.

As an addendum to P/O Brooks story: the other three crew (all RCAF) who died in the loss of LL862-SR-K are buried across the border in Belgium in the Adegem Canadian War Cemetery. P/O E E Boyle RCAF (J/91059) - AG, P/O G T Douglas RCAF (J/94225) - AG, P/O E Ianuziello RCAF (J/91057) - Nav. The others buried in Cambrai are P/O J E M Nixon RCAF (J/91096) - WOp/AG and Sgt I H M Reid RAFVR (1293545) - Flt Eng. (Sgt Ianuziello, WO2 Nixon, Sgt Boyle and Sgt Douglas were all posthumously commissioned with effect from 19 July 1944)

From what I have read the 600 lb ABC package was installed at the rear of bomb bay and the operator sat in the area of the rest bunk under the mid-upper turret and the bomb load was reduced by 1000 lbs. This appears to make sense as this would be close to the CofG. The Germans were aware of ABC and tried ineffective countermeasures. The transmissions increased the vulnerability of the aircraft and account for 101 having the highest casualty rate of any RAF squadron in WW2.

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Old 27th Jan 2024, 17:34
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What flying badge were `Specials` permitted to wear..? W/op,,,?
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Old 29th Jan 2024, 17:47
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Sycamore, as a pure guess depending on when initially AG plus wireless operator's sleeve badge or later S(ignaller) or perhaps whatever his previous entitlement had been. Flying Badges except for pilots seem to have been a complete dogs' breakfast in WW2. I refer you to Wg Cdr Jeff Jeffords' article THE LAW, AND LORE, OF RAF FLYING BADGES on pp103ff in the Royal Air Force Historical Society Journal no 52.

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Old 29th Jan 2024, 18:00
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Geriavator's posts about 101's special duties has prompted me to want to post about the career of the last wartime commanding officer of No.138 (Special Duty) Squadron, whom it was my privilege to know for the last twenty or so years of his life. The life of Wg Cdr T C Murray DSO, DFC* was documented, by Mark Hillier, in Suitcases, Vultures and Spies. Mark has kindly given me permission to quote from the book, which is in large part based on face-to-face interviews with Tucker (as I knew him) and other veterans.

First some background on Thomas Charles Murray. Born in 1918, he began his RAF career in 1937 as a member of B squadron no. 37-1 Entry at Cranwell graduating (or as he put in 'scraping' out due to injuries sustained as the passenger in a car crash ) in December 1938 at the end of the two year course, this was followed by a six week navigation course of which he said :
'Our recently won commissions had, I think, gone to our heads for I remember that we considered this training was no longer really necessary, that this navigation business was 'odd stuff' and not properly the job of pilots anyway!'
To misuse a cricketing metaphor, Thos Murray was one of the few who carried their bats through WW2 flying 'heavies'. Initially posted to 106 Squadron to fly Battles but by the outbreak of war the squadron had converted to the HP Hampden and assigned a training role. Within a short time, he was posted to 49 Squadron; where on 21 December 1939 he flew his first operational sortie as second pilot/navigator of Hampden P1177 flying to the Stavanger area unsuccessfully searching for the Deutschland which had been reported in the area and on which they were supposed to drop 500 pounders. His final op, on the 20 April 1945 - the 16th of his third tour, was a daylight raid on fuel storage in Regensberg flying PP675 one of 100 Lancasters involved. Sadly, less than three weeks before VE Day PA285 of 622 Squadron was lost, presumably to the heavy flak, 7 of her 8 crew were killed.

To take a step back, Thos Murray was the son of an officer who proceeded from the RNVR, through the Royal Marines, to the new Royal Air Force. His father had been involved in the establishment of the secretarial branch and by 1937 had risen to the rank of Group Captain. At the age of 11, when his father was serving at RAF Halton, Thos took his first flight in an Avro 504K. With the connivence of the flying staff and following a medical he began having flying lessons in an AW Atlas. In the final days of his career he flew Canberra T4s and B2s, doing so right up to hs retirement in April 1959. His final flight was on his 95th birthday:

After a gap of nearly 30 years, he … took to the skies once more in a Cessna 172 from Goodwood Airfield in West Sussex. Thos was at home at the controls and landed the aircraft back on runway 24 perfectly. He commented that ‘flying is like riding a bike, you don’t forget it’.
More to follow including a link to the author’s website and an invitation to download an unproofread version of the book in exchange for a donation to RAFA or the RAFBF.
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Old 30th Jan 2024, 16:34
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Wg Cdr Murray – Part 2

I shall follow Homer by starting in medias res with an example of Tucker’s mischievous and somewhat stubborn character. This was revealed to me when, in his late eighties, he told me how reluctant he was to comply with his family’s desire he adopt motorboating and stop single-handed sailing.

49 Squadron – RAF Scampton
‘I completed 39 operations with 49 Squadron before they tried to post me on a rest. They hadn’t invented tours by then, we reckoned we could keep going until the end, it was our war, and we began it the first operational crews. Suddenly in September four of us were posted to 14 OTU which had just been formed and we were horrified. Our very last operations had been bombing the invasion barges in the Channel ports and to be taken off ops at this stage was an insult. We were pretty tired by then. We just ignored the order and went down to flights carrying on in the normal manner. We managed to do a few more ops, there was a long silence from Group who didn’t know what to do with these mutinous crews. They eventually offered us three weeks tired crew leave. The chance of a rest was welcome news and we jumped at the change.
Little did we know, it was their opportunity to clear all our stuff out of our rooms and sent it down to 14 OTU. When we got back from leave there was a lorry waiting to take us all down to the OTU. I left 49 Squadron on the 25 September 1940.’
After 21 of these 39 operations, he had been recommended by his CO for the DFC, the recommendation was endorsed by the AOC of 5 Group, a certain AVM Arthur Harris, as follows:
‘most strongly recommended, an outstanding efficient and resolute pilot.’

14 OTU – RAF Cottesmore
14 OTU’s job was to convert pilots to the Hampden via the Anson. There was only one flying position meaning the students had to observe the instructor until the instructor had enough faith to let him loose.
‘This posting has a so called rest tour. We were the first operational pilots to be posted into the OTU as instructors. We were regarded with the utmost suspicion by the CFI and junior squadron instructors alike. We were expected to protest at the training syllabus and we did. We were doubtless arrogant and unruly but I think the unit benefitted nevertheless. I was not a good instructor and soon found to my disgust that each pupil invariably made the same mistake, thus making flying a monotonous affair.’
‘I was then selected for a squadron that was being formed entirely of second tour crews to man the new Avro Manchester’
Six months to the day of his arrival at 14 OTU Thos Murray left for RAF Waddington and 207 Squadron.

To be continued

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Old 31st Jan 2024, 20:33
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Wg Cdr Murray – Part 3

207 Squadron – RAF Waddington

The squadron had reformed on 1 November 1940 the CO Wg Cdr N C ‘Hetty’ Hyde had gone with a number of officers and NCOs to learn about the Manchester at Boscombe Down.
The first crews found it was very difficult taking a new aircraft and getting it read for operational use, as many design issues had to be ironed out and modifications made before it could take to the skies over Europe. On 24 February 1941, …
By the time Flying Officer T C Murray arrived on 5 April 1941, 207 Squadron had experienced technical faults and poor performance making it clear the Manchester was not the great leap forward promised. Things were made no better when the CO was shot down in a raid on Kiel, he was sent to Stalag Luft III where he assisted in the Wooden Horse escape. This was followed by the Manchester being grounded while the suspicion that the wrong alloy had been used to make the main bearings in the engines was investigated. On 1 May Thos had the first of six training sorties prior to his first operation flying L7381 EM-R.
My first operation was to Mannheim on the 9th May 1941, which was a successful operation. There were three aircraft operating from the squadron, two went to Berlin but as I was inexperienced I was sent to Mannheim on which I dropped a cookie (4,000 lb bomb). After the war I knew exactly what damage I did on the target as the Germans kept very good records of raids and the damage caused.
Troubles with the ill-fated Manchester were far from over.
‘On the 15th May, Thos picked up a Manchester from Boscombe Down but shortly after the whole fleet was grounded again, on the 17th May, mainly due to the same old engine trouble and it was decided to carry out intensive training flights to monitor engine behaviour. Thos took off on the 24th May on one such sortie.

‘By now losses were beginning to rise inexorably, so Group gave the unprecedented instruction that wireless operators, should it be possible, were to transmit in clear. FLK – for flack, FIT for fighter or ENG for engines to indicate the cause of their loss!

In that month it was decided to fly one Manchester (L7393 EM-V) continually on triangular cross countries around England until one engine failed with the hope we could get one back and Rolls Royce could analyse the cause.

It was the turn of my flight commander Squadron Leader Mackintosh to have a go, he had turned north of Land’s End towards the Isle of Man, when halfway to the Welsh coast the starboard engine failed, caught fire and he feathered the prop. The nearest airfield was Perranporth, a small fighter strip about 40 miles away. He couldn’t maintain height but he ordered the crew to chuck out the guns and drop the dummy bomb load to reduce weight. Fortunately, they just made it back. They roared down the runway where he retracted the undercarriage in an effort to stop. He careered through a hedge and finally the starboard wing hit a parked lorry which finally stopped them. So Rolls Royce had their engine. I had to fly down and pick the crew up the following day.’
The book contains and extend passage on Tucker’s view of the Manchester, I will just quote from the first two paragraphs.
We converted to type on the unit. My first impression was that it was a very big aircraft compared to the Hampden. Although it was pleasant to fly, light on the controls, it was colossally underpowered. The senior staff had a great belief in the engines. When they first did a run up when they were testing the aircraft they put barriers behind it to stop people getting blown over by the prop wash. In reality, nothing like that happened. Our training was on the squadron and not that methodical, we learnt as we went along. These were desperate times so the aircraft was rushed into service long before it was fit and whilst it had many teething problems. The Manchester was light on the ailerons, lighter than the Lancaster but unfortunately not at all reliable.

The first Manchester we had was the three tail variety; this had a problem with tail flutter. I had to return from one operation because the rear gunner got really worried that the tail was about to come off, although I didn’t feel it through the controls. A number of aircraft were lost because of it. Later they extended the fins and had just the twin tail adding about 12 feet to the tail. That was not the worst of the problem, the propellor feathering system was unreliable and could fail to feather or they would suddenly lock into fine pitch.’
Tucker was soon to get a vision of the future courtesy of the co-located 44 squadron.
‘A most welcome interlude occurred on the 4th October 1941 when Peter Burton-Gyles and I were able to get our hands on the prototype Lancaster which had just been loaned to 44 squadron as they were the first to be re-armed with the aircraft.

Lancaster BT308 was basically a three finned Manchester with the wings extended to accommodate its four Merlin engines. The extra throttle and pitch controls were just metal tube alongside the Manchester controls. With no turrets, radio or navigational equipment it was empty aa a shell an as light as a feather. It took off like a startled stallion. It flew happily on one of its four engines and in steep turns with both inside engines feathered. What a tonic after the lumbering Manchester.’
Tucker’s good friend Peter Burton-Gyles would go on the be CO of 488 squadron and of 23 squadron. He has been listed as missing in action since he failed to return from a mission flying Mosquito DB.VI HJ832 with P/O Eric John Layh RAAF on 10 December 1943. They disappeared over the sea en route to attack rail/road targets in the area of Genoa-Milan-Turin.

When Tucker told me the story of flying BT308 he imparted that using the additional throttles was painful, if I recall correctly drawing blood through his flying glove.

I will post more extracts but if you want to get ahead or indeed read the whole book, then you can download a pre-publication version of Suitcase, Vultures and Spies in pdf format from https://www.markhillier.net/about-the-book.php. You need to scroll down past the picture of the cover to find the link. Please note that this is a pre-proof reading (and I suspect pre-copyediting) version.

The hard copy of the book was sold to raise funds for the RAF Benevolent Fund, so I ask that you comply with Mark’s request to make a suitable donation to either RAFA or the Benevolent Fund.

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Old 1st Feb 2024, 16:53
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Thanks for the pointer Paul, this looks an interesting book, I haven't seen anything about Manchester handling although it was clearly bad news otherwise. Donation plus Giftaid made to RAFA.
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Old 1st Feb 2024, 17:16
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Page 54 on is where you will find it. The layout changed quite a bit in the final printed book e.g. Cuthbert Orde's picture of Tucker is full page. I am grateful to Mark for persuading Tucker to let him write it; as Mark said, Tucker wasn't one to line shoot and I only ever got hints, he was determined to live in the present, not the past, and keep active - partly out to duty to those friends and comrades he had lost and because, as he told me, he felt very lucky to have survived.
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Old 2nd Feb 2024, 11:34
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What a genius Roy Chadwick was, to turn this dangerous and utterly compromised aircraft into the war winning masterpiece it became!
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Old 5th Feb 2024, 17:58
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Wg Cdr Murray - Part 4

207 Squadron – RAF Bottesford

After his flight in BT308 Tucker flew a few more missions before the squadron moved to RAF Bottesford (roughly halfway between Newark-on-Trent and Grantham).
‘In November 1941 we moved to RAF Bottesford. After the pre-war luxury of RAF Waddington this was a severe shock to th system. Damp Nissen huts in dispersals for sleeping quarters, a central Nissen hut site for messes and ablutions, all separated from each other and the operations site by a mile or so of muddy paths. Woe betide you if you strayed of a perimeter track when taxiing out; the wheel would sink axle deep in mud, blocking any following aircraft. I was in short misery.
That month, the decision was made to cancel any further development of the Vulture engine, much to the relief of Rolls Royce. (…) there was no prospect of any improvement in the aircraft’s abysmal performance.’
After a quiet December, operations resumed early in the new year. The first was ‘eventful’.
‘On the 2 January 1942 I was back flying Manchesters and we had been briefed to do a low level attack on the Prinz Eugen in the harbour at St Nazaire. After some difficulty finding the target due to low cloud cover we started to run in through heavy flak at about 1,500 feet. I selected bomb doors open and the hydraulics failed. They only opened a little bit so we did everything we could to get these damn doors open, but as we roared over the battleship not doing any harm to it at all but getting all the attention. There was heavy flak and we were hit several times.'
'We got quite a bit of damage and the navigator was not any use at all. I’m not sure if the lights failed in his compartment, so I worked out a route home and the wireless operator got out a distress call. As we neared the coast, our searchlight batteries came on and pointed us in the direction of the nearest airfield which was Exeter. This was only a fighter station with a short grass strip. On approach I found that due to the hydraulic failure neither the undercarriage nor the flaps would come down so I had to blow down the undercarriage using the emergency system. We still had a full bomb load, I didn’t know if the bombs had fused or not. This meant a high speed flapless landing with the inability to retract the undercarriage should it be necessary to slow the aircraft down after landing. I managed to make full use of the landing run and fortunately the brakes still worked so I was able to avoid any further damage to the aircraft. That was the smoothest landing I ever did and the most nerve-wracking.’
The squadron operational record book notes it was the Navigator’s first op and ‘he had difficulty pinpointing himself’ over then target.

A week later Tucker was over Brest trying to bomb Scharnhorst or Gneisenau through 10/10 cloud.

January brought good news with the formation of 207 conversion flight. The flight had a dual role, training replacement crews and converting existing crews to the Lancaster.
‘Despite all the tinkering and alterations to the Manchester the engines were really never any good and caused the death of a number of crews. Thos reckons his chances of engine failure were reduced due to his method of handling the engines,
‘The technique those days was to fly with high boost and low revs which in theory gave the best range on the aircraft. It meant that the engines gave the best range on the aircraft. It meant that the engines were trundling around in top gear at low speed, so I reversed the procedure against standing orders and used to fly my aircraft at high revs and low boost, so it whined a bit and used more fuel but it seemed to be a bit happier and that’s why I reckon I survived much longer than other people.
At 1430 on 12 February the Channel Dash was in progress and Tucker was briefed for a bombing mission against the ships; on take-off hydraulic fluid sprayed into the cockpit. Tucker landed safely and thanks to the herculean efforts of the ground crew L7485/EM-D (the same aircraft as 2 January) took off at 2252 to go GARDENING at NECTARINE (drop mines off the Friesian Islands) another hydraulic failure meant S/Ldr Murray returned with a full load of mines at 0443. According to the ORB all four assigned crews had a frustrating night:

· R7596/EM-W, P/O Doble - dropped his ‘vegetables’ but they failed to fuse.

· L7392/EM-Y, S/Ldr Beauchamp - failure of hydraulics and manual release returned with mines.

· L7515/EM-S, F/O Leland - returned with his mines due to severe icing.

Tucker would complete the final three of his 20 ops in the Manchester before the squadron was stood down to convert to the Lancaster. His final Manchester operational flight was in L7378/EM-A to Essen. Some of the first wave were equipped with Gee and dropped flares followed by incendiaries.
'The night of the 8 of March was one of the worst trips I had to the Ruhr. I had been here many times before. The target was the Krupps factory at Essen and I could see the main force bombing a dummy target 10 miles north of Essen. I was watching these aircraft but I manged to drop my bombs at the Krupps factory, the actual target. My photo flash went off and I could see I was on target, but the intelligence people said the photo didn’t come out clearly as they wouldn’t dare admit that the main force had bombed a dummy target. At that point the whole of the Essen anti-aircraft defence opened up. Until then they had been quite hoping I would go away I think.
'Luckily for me one of the other members of the squadron was behind me so at least two aircraft got their bombs on target. I did everything I could to get out of that flak. I really thought we had had it, I dived down from 22,000 feet to 3,000 feet to get out, I threw all my experience at it, I actually wept at the time, not for me but for betraying the crew. I was an experienced operational pilot and everything I knew didn’t seem to work. Then all went quiet, they gave up or I got out of range and I flew back at low level. We got badly peppered and had quite a bit of damage when we got back. The Germans were good at setting spoof fires to distract the bombers it was quite common.'
‘Of those bombers who took part, 168 claimed they had bombed the target but in reality the brunt of the attack fell on the southern outskirts and the neighbouring towns of Hamborn, Duisberg and Oberhausen.’
The ORB record for L7378 on 8/9.3.43 says the target was identified after some difficulty by reference to the shape of the river and other landmarks. Flt/Sgt (?) Walker in L7491/ EM-O is recorded as using a pin-point on the river to identify the target so it may well have been the other aircraft referred to.

Last edited by SLXOwft; 5th Feb 2024 at 18:47. Reason: spe3lling
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Old 5th Feb 2024, 19:07
  #12898 (permalink)  
 
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"I actually wept at the time"

"I really thought we had had it, I dived down from 22,000 feet to 3,000 feet to get out, I threw all my experience at it, I actually wept at the time, not for me but for betraying the crew. I was an experienced operational pilot and everything I knew didn’t seem to work".


In reading all the previous posts about "Tucker" I had not warmed to his character at all, despite his obvious courage. How easy it is to make a judgement based on a laconic account without really knowing the man. Tonight's post has changed this reader's assessment - respect is due.

Ian BB
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Old 5th Feb 2024, 22:34
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And here's one who fully merits the title of this outstanding thread - airborne in a Spitfire at 102!

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Old 7th Feb 2024, 09:53
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Interesting that he operated the Vulture engines in direct contravention to the official procedure. It would seem that he didn't share his ideas with higher authority in order to extend others lives (never mind the engines!) as he did for his own crew. Was it because he would just be given a direct order to operate the engines as instructed? Rather reminiscent of Fighter Command's insistence on flying in tight vee formations, requiring total pilot concentration to do so rather than being free to sweep the skies for enemy aircraft. The cognoscenti soon learned to fly in a similar manner to their battle hardened opponents, leaving the more gullible as so much canon fodder. It seems that self preservation is a strong motivation in war. Yes, you do your duty of course, but with a determination to see that you can go on doing so for every subsequent day too!

It also seems that the Manchester had unreliable hydraulics as well as engines. Why should that be? Presumably it used the same components as other ME aircraft of the time; tanks, pumps, hoses, selectors, NRVs, actuators, etc. Why would it account for so many compromised missions as he lists? Icing, yes. The systems were prone to being overcome by heavy icing, no matter what the installed type was. Pulsating 'boots' that the enveloping ice simply ignored as it added more and more weight and disrupted the airflow, often bring the aircraft down out of control.
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