Ernest Athol Fayle, son of Ernest and Margaret Fayle, Hay NSW, Australia.

Ernest Fayle Jr was a Lancaster bomber pilot who served in England during WW2.  Information obtained from his official service record shows that his first operational posting was to No.467 RAAF Squadron at Bottesford, Leicestershire on 23rd August 1943 and information from 467 Squadron records shows that his first combat mission took place on 30th August 1943.  He subsequently transferred to No.463 RAAF Squadron at Waddington, Lincolnshire on 25th November 1943.  His aircraft was reported ‘lost’ during a bombing raid on Leipzig, Germany 3 months later.

It is recorded that his Lancaster departed Waddington RAF Base, Lincolnshire on the night of 19th February 1944 at 23:20 and that no further contact was ever established.  His aircraft was subsequently listed as ‘lost without trace’ with Ernie and his crew posted as “killed in action”.  No further information was ever provided by the military authorities and nothing further was known until investigations were commenced in 2006.

This particular raid incurred a record loss of aircraft and is described below.

The following article is a verbatim extract from the “RAF Bomber Command 60th Anniversary” Website:

 http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/feb44.html

19/20 February 1944

Target Leipzig:

823 aircraft participated (561 Lancasters, 255 Halifaxes, 7 Mosquitos).

78 aircraft  were lost (44 Lancasters, 34 Halifaxes), 9.5% loss rate.

This was a tragic raid for Bomber Command. The German controllers only sent part of their force of fighters to the Kiel mine-laying diversion. When the main bomber force crossed the Dutch coast, they were met by part of the German fighter force and those German fighters which had been sent north to Kiel hurriedly returned. The bomber stream was thus under attack all the way to the target. There were further difficulties at the target because winds were not as forecast and many aircraft reached the Leipzig area too early and had to orbit and await the Pathfinders [Mosquitos to deploy target identifying flares]. Four aircraft were lost by collision and approximately twenty were shot down by flak. Leipzig was cloud-covered and the Pathfinders had to use sky-marking. The raid appeared to be concentrated in its early stages but scattered later.

This was the heaviest Bomber Command loss of the war so far, easily exceeding the 58 aircraft lost on 21/22 January 1943 when Magdeburg was the main target.

NOTE

The reproduced extracts from 467 & 463 Squadron's "Operations Record Books",

appearing below, have easy-to-read transcriptions following each.

The blue font colour used throughout this presentation indicates verbatim extracts.

Ernie’s first combat posting was to 467 RAAF Bomber Squadron stationed at Bottesford, Leicestershire, UK on 23rd August 1943.  His first bombing mission over Germany took place one week later, acting as second pilot in another aircraft for familiarisation purposes.

It should be noted that the Lancaster, although a large and complex aircraft, was crewed with just one pilot. The flight engineer assisted the pilot with engine and fuel management procedures and also received basic pilot training so that a limited backup was available should the pilot become incapacitated.

The following 4 tables are verbatim extracts from; http://467463raafsquadrons.com

467 Squadron stationed at Bottesford, Lincolnshire 23/8/1943 ~ 25/11/1943

NAME

POSITION

AIR-FORCE

COMMENTS

F/S Fayle E.A.

Pilot

RAAF

Posted to 467  23.08.43.

Posted to 463  25.11.43.

Sgt Baker C.T.

Engineer

RAF

 

F/O Chappell F.

Navigator

RAF

 

Sgt Topham L.K.

Bomb Aimer

RAF

 

Sgt Farrell R.J.

Wireless Operator

RAF

 

Sgt Vickery A.L.N.

Gunner MU

RAF

 

Sgt Bennett B.P.

Gunner Rear

RAAF

 

 

DATE

TARGET TONIGHT

AIRCRAFT

COMMENTS

30/31.8.43

Munchen Gladbach

RD949

* 2nd pilot with

R. Harder

5/6.9.43

Mannheim

JA902

 

22/23.9.43

Hanover

ED621 PO.P

 

3/4.10.43

Kassel

JB140 PO.G

 

7/8.l0.43

Stuttgart

ED949

 

18/19.10.43

Hanover

JA902

 

20/21.10.43

Leipzig

JA902

Fighter attack A/C badly damaged.

22/23.10.43

Kassel

DV338

 

3/4.11.43

Dusseldorf

DV338

 

10/11.11.43

Modane

DV338

 

F/S Fayle E.A. and crew posted to 467 Sq 23.8.43, completed 9 ops and posted to 463 Sq on formation 25.11.43

The crew flew 9 more ops with 463 and went missing 20.2.44 on op to Leipzig.

 

463 Squadron stationed at Waddington, Lincolnshire 25/11/1943 ~ 19/2/1944

NAME

POSITION

AIR-FORCE

COMMENTS

P/O Fayle E.A.

Pilot

RAAF

KIA 20.2.44

Sgt Baker L.P

Flight Engineer

RAF

KIA 20.2.44

F/O Chappell F.

Navigator

RAF

KIA 20.2.44

Sgt Topham L.K

Bomb Aimer

RAF

KIA 20.2.44

Sgt Farrell R.J.

Wireless Operator

RAF

KIA 20.2.44

Sgt Vickery A.L.N.

Gunner MU

RAF

KIA 20.2.44

F/S Bennett B.P.

Gunner Rear

RAAF

KIA 20.2.44

 

DATE

TARGET TONIGHT

AIRCRAFT

COMMENTS

29/30.12.43

Berlin

DV338 JO-C

 

1/2.1.44

Berlin

DV338 JO-C

 

14/15.1.44

Brunswick

DV338 JO-C

 

20/21.1.44

Berlin

DV338 JO-C

 

27/28.1.44

Berlin

DV338 JO-C

 

28/29.1.44

Berlin

DV338 JO-C

 

30/31.1.44

Berlin

DV338 JO-C

 

15/16.2.44

Berlin

DV338 JO-C

 

19/20.2.44

Leipzig

DV338 JO-C

Missing

P/O Fayle and crew had completed 9 ops on 467 Sq when they were posted to 463 Sq on formation 25.11.43.

P/O Fayle and crew had played their part in the Battle of Berlin with 7 Berlin ops in a total of 18 *.

 

Details of Ernie’s promotions listed in documents recently obtained from the Australian Government Department of Defence, are at slight variance with the detail listed in the above tables.  According to his service record he was promoted from Flight Sergeant (Pilot), to Pilot Officer on 25/7/1943 just prior to his posting to 467 Squadron and he received further promotion to Flying Officer on 25/1/1944.

The Rear Gunner, F/S Brian P. Bennett was also an Australian (RAAF) with the other five crew being members of the RAF.  Brian's second and last posting was, together with Ernie and the other 5 crew members, to 463 RAAF Bomber Squadron at Waddington, Lincolnshire. It appears that Brian was promoted to the rank of F/Sgt (Flight Sergeant) from Sgt (Sergeant) upon his transfer to 463 Squadron.

The following section comprise a series of entries extracted from the Squadron’s “Operations Record Books” (ORB’s).  There are two sets of records, the first set refers to the period from 30th August 1943 to 11th November 1943 which covers the period that Ernie flew with 467 RAAF Squadron based in Bottesford, Leicestershire and the second set refers to the period from 29th December 1943 to 19th  February 1944 which covers the period he flew with 463 RAAF Squadron based in Waddington, Lincolnshire.

These RAAF records comprised de-briefing information typed up by the Squadron’s adjutant and signed off by the Squadron commander following each raid.  The first part of each entry on this web site immediately below displays a photograph of the original ORB entry and is immediately followed by an easy-to-read transcript.  The information in these entries was obtained from the pilot (captain) and comprised a verbatim transcript.

The actual photos of these ORB pages appearing in this section have been obtained from Peter Johnson’s web site; “467 463 RAAF Squadrons”.   http://www.467463raafsquadrons.com/L02Pgs/orbsTimeLine.htm

Each photographic entry has been transcribed to enable easier reading.

The ‘Diary’ extracts appearing below each entry were also obtained from the same web site.

Extracts from the official RAF “Operations Record Book” 467 Squadron,

Bottesford, Leicestershire (30th August 1943 to 11th November 1943).

Note

Each page extract reproduced below (white) has a

easy-to-read transcription following (in this style blue font).

 

Abbreviations:    S/Ls = Search Lights.  HC = High Capacity.  inc = Incendiary.

                                                Tis = Target Identifier.  R/G = Rear Gunner.  MU = Mid Upper Gunner.

                                               A/C = Aircraft.  u/s = unserviceable (unavailable).

                                              Flak = derived from a long German word describing ‘anti aircraft artillery’.

 

30/31 August 1943.  467 Squadron, Bottesford.   Take-off 23:35, Landed 04:08

Bombing - Munchen, Gladbach - sortie completed.

8/10ths thin layer cloud, about 8,000ft.  Vis good laterally.

Bombed red TI’s from 17,100 at 02:05 (1 x 4,000lb HC) (6 x 30 lb and 1,560 x 4lb inc).

Very large explosion 02:04.  Fires just beginning to get a hold.  Route in and out very quiet. Flak over target very moderate.

(Tis [flares] were colour coded to differentiate from German decoys.)

This was apparently Ernie’s introduction to bombing operations over Germany as he was acting as ‘second pilot’ with another crew for familiarisation.  The flight time of 4:13 derived from the take-off and landing times in the de-briefing notes above, indicate the raid was on Gladbach not Munchen (Munich) - perhaps as a planned contingency.  Five days later he commanded his first bombing operation.

 

5/6 September 1943.  467 Squadron, Bottesford.   Take-off 20:03, Landed 03:07

Bombing - Mannheim - sortie completed.  5/10ths layer at 10,000.  Vis good otherwise.

Bombed Target TI from 15,000 at 23:41 (1 x 4,000lb HC, 80 x 30lb and 900 x 4lb Inc.)

Attack seemed to be straying towards N and becoming more scattered at this later stage.

At 22:10 stbd inner went u/s.  Carried on and bombed at 15,000.  Very few S/Ls and flak very light.  Heavy flak on French coast returning.

Extract from: http://www.467463raafsquadrons.com/L02Pgs/diary02.htm

5/6-9-1943, Mannheim - Ludwigshafen:

467 Sq sent 12 a/c to join 605 bombers attacking the twin cities. The raid went according to plan. German war history records this attack in detail and declared it a catastrophe for the cities.

 

22/23 September 1943.  467 Squadron, Bottesford.  Take-off 19:04, Landed 00:25

Bombing - Hanover - sortie completed.  Vis good, no cloud.

Bombed centre of concentration of green Tis from 20,200 at 21:45 (1 x 4,000lb HC, 80 x 30lb and 1,560 x 4lb inc.)  Good thick smoke and good red fires seen burning on leaving target area.

Good trip. Very little flak over target. Approx. 70 S/Ls over target.  Some light and heavy flak on Dutch coast going in and also coming out.

 

3/4 October 1943.  467 Squadron, Bottesford.  Take-off 18:28, Landed 00:35

Bombing Kassel.

Sortie completed.  Clear.  Bombed centre of green Tis from 20,000 at 21:32 (1 x 4,000lb HC,

24 x 30lb and 1440 x 4lb incs).  Much smoke obscured target area. At ..... Y on way in, about a dozen A/C were seen to bomb white Tis.  From this point green TIs on target could be seen plainly.  Very quiet trip.  Very little flak and about 40 S/Ls.  One fighter followed us out of target but broke away after a few secs.

Extract from: http://www.467463raafsquadrons.com/L02Pgs/diary02.htm

3/4-10-1943, Kassel:

467 Sq had 9 a/c to join 547 bombers attacking Kassel. Ground haze and poor marking prevented a good attack but, more by luck than good marking, three aircraft factories were badly damaged. German war records claim that not one of the factories were marked. 4.4 per cent were lost. 467 Sq lost P/O G. Smith and crew: 4 KIA, (Killed in Action) 3 POW (Prisoner of War).  F/L Harty Locke, DSO, DFC and crew were attacked by two fighters, one from each side. After a spirited battle and evasive action the gunners fought them off. Both gunners were wounded, and the Lancaster was badly damaged. They reached Bottesford after a grueling flight and made a safe landing.

 

7/8 October 1943.  467 Squadron, Bottesford.  Take-off 20:37, Landed 04:35

Bombing Stuttgart.

Sortie completed. 10/10 cloud, low S.Cu., tops about 10,000 ft.

Bombed centre of green Tis from 19,500 at 00:22½ (1 x 4,000lb HC, 72 x 30lb and 990 x 4lb inc.)

Clouds lit up with considerable fires.  Very quiet trip; no S/Ls, very little heavy flak.  Attack seemed a little scattered.  Landed at Tangmere.

Extract from: http://www.467463raafsquadrons.com/L02Pgs/diary02.htm

7/8-10-1943, Stuttgart:

467 Sq had 17 a/c join all groups attacking Stuttgart. This raid is recorded as an outstanding success. On this raid 101 Sq used the ABC ‘nightfighter communication jamming device’ for the first time. This device involved carrying a German speaking crewman and broadcasting false information into the German fighter control system. Losses were 1.2 per cent. British airfields were fog bound when the aircraft returned. Most of 467 aircraft landed at Tangmere. F/S Mallan, rear gunner in S/L Lewis’ crew, was awarded an immediate DFM on return.

 

18/19 October 1943.  467 Squadron, Bottesford.  Take-off 17:21, Landed 22:36

Bombing Hanover.

Sortie completed.  10/10ths cloud, tops 17,000 ft.  Bombed red Tis from 21,000 at 20:20

(1 x 4,000lb HC, 104 x 30lb and 1260 x 4lb inc.).  Incs seen burning very scattered.  Very quiet trip.  About 50 S/Ls, moderate heavy flak.  Bombing looked very scattered on run in.  Flak and S/Ls on way home.  Bombing was started before zero hour.

Extract from: http://www.467463raafsquadrons.com/L02Pgs/diary02.htm

18/19-10-1943, Hanover:

467 Sq sent 16 a/c to join 360 Lancasters bombing Hanover. The defences were alert and 5.0 per cent were lost. 467 Sq lost F/O F. Davenport and crew: 6 KIA, 1 POW. F/S Wallace and crew were attacked by a fighter and the Lancaster was badly damaged. The gunners fought the attacker off and the F/E, Sgt Calderhead, and the MU gunner, W/O Ritchie, were wounded. They managed to reach Cottishall and made an emergency landing to get assistance for the wounded.

 

20/21 October 1943.  467 Squadron, Bottesford.  Take-off 17:39, Landed 00:27

Bombing Leipzig.

Sortie completed. 9/10ths cloud, tops approx. 16,000 ft. another layer above “W”.

Bombed red TI with green stars from 18,000 at 21:05½ (1 x 4,000 lb HC, 80 x 30lb and 900 x 4lb  inc.)  A few fires seen through gaps.  First difficulties were on reaching front which was stationed at approx. Hanover.  This necessitated flying in cloud and windscreen was completely iced over from there until an hour after reaching target.  At 20:01, 20 miles S.S.W. of Bremen, attacked by fighter from starboard quarter which resulted in R/G opening fire at same time as fighter.  Immediately another fighter from stbd. beam, fired a short burst and passed below nose.

R/G claims hits on first fighter.  Damage caused by fighter to rear turret and tail plane.

At approx. 20 miles north of Leipzig a Lancaster A/C opened fire (M/U) causing damage to instruments, burst oil pipe line causing flood of oil in A/C and slightly wounding bomb aimer.

During this attack A/C was uncontrollable and rolled over on to its back, but I gained control at 15,000 ft and continued and bombed target successfully under great difficulties with instruments u/s and windscreen covered with ice and A/C flooded with oil.

R/G’s oxygen was u/s for about ½ hour on return, which resulted in R/G being a dead loss for this period.  Fortunately he recovered after this period, none the worse.

Extract from: http://www.467463raafsquadrons.com/L02Pgs/diary02.htm

20/21-10-1943, Leipzig:

467 Sq sent 13 a/c in appalling weather conditions to join the attack on Leipzig. Nearing the target P/O Fayle and crew were attacked by two fighters working together. The tail plane of their Lancaster was damaged and the aircraft rolled right over. Control was regained and the crew pressed on to the target, where they were fired on by another Lancaster which damaged the instrument panel and hydraulic lines and wounded the Bomb Aimer. The crew managed to get the damaged aircraft back to base.

The bombing raid on Leipzig, described above, saw Ernie’s aircraft, JA902 badly damaged by both enemy fire (German Night Fighters) and by friendly fire (mistaken identity by MU Gunner from a nearby Lancaster).  The German fighter attacks occurred before reaching the target with Ernie and his crew wrestling the damaged aircraft onto target and successfully dropping their payload.  Then, with much difficulty, they returned to base.  On arrival home, the aircraft would have obviously been declared unserviceable until repairs were completed.  However, this did not deter Ernie and his crew as they embarked on a bombing raid to Kassel the next night with a replacement aircraft (see de-briefing 22/23 Oct Kassel).  This replacement Lancaster, DV338 JO-C was to carry them on their remaining 11 bombing missions with Ernie, together with his crew of 6 and DV338 JO-C being lost without trace on the night of 19/20 February 1944 during another raid on Leipzig.

This same event was recorded in the book “Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939~1943”

by John Herington and the relevant portion has been re-produced below.

“Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939~1943” -  by John Herington

“Leipzig, one of the chief commercial and manufacturing cities of Germany especially important to the aircraft and chemical industry, came within effective striking range of Bomber Command and suffered three attacks during the winter months.

 

The first attack was spoiled by appalling weather and did little damage.  Although twenty-eight of the Australian Lancasters are credited with attacking, in fact seven ran into difficulties in heavy cloud losing one, two or even three engines temporarily due to ice accretion, [1] and were forced to jettison their bombs over enemy held territory.  One of these Lancasters was so badly affected that the crew were ordered to abandon the aircraft, but the pilot regained control when the aircraft broke cloud at 3,000 ft.  Several of the bombers which did reach Leipzig were forced to jettison part of their loads in order to maintain height and incendiaries were seen burning throughout the route.  Only seven out of twenty-three Pathfinders dropped flares or target indicators so that the bomber stream had practically no aid.  One Lancaster of No. 460 squadron piloted by Warrant Officer Goulevitch (414019) circled the target for ten minutes and saw only one target indicator and then bombed the approximate centre of existing fires, but most Australians unashamedly bombed on ‘estimated time of arrival’.

It was a night to test the fortitude of all crews and Pilot Officer Fayle (412936) of No. 467 squadron, after shaking off two fighters near Bremen with only minor damage, was then attacked near the target by an over-anxious mid-upper gunner of another Lancaster who obviously mistook Fayle’s aircraft for a fighter approaching from above and astern.  Fayle’s bomb aimer was wounded and the Lancaster was heavily damaged and plunged down to 15,000 feet before it came under control once more.  Then with oil flooding the aircraft, the windscreen covered in ice and the flying instruments out of action, Fayle bombed and returned under great difficulties.”

This was the first of 3 raids on Leipzig during the winter of 1943/1944.

This first raid comprised a total of 285 Bombers, 13 from 467 squadron.

  Ernie and his crew were lost on the third Leipzig raid on 19th February 1944.

 

22/23 October 1943.  467 Squadron, Bottesford. Take-off 18:06, Landed 00:05

Bombing Kassel.

Sortie completed. Vis. Clear. Bombed centre of green Tis from 18,400 at 21:08 (1 x 4,000lb HC, 92 x 30lb and 1200 x 4lb inc.)  Many large and concentrated fires seen leaving target area.  Also heavy black smoke.  Very good trip except for bad weather on trip out and coming home very bad over sea and in England.  Very little flak, about 40 S/Ls.  Very large amount of fighter flares on way in and out of target.  Target looked very well bombed as it was very clear.

Extract from: http://www.467463raafsquadrons.com/L02Pgs/diary02.htm

22/23-10-1943, Kassel:

467 Sq had 15 Lancasters join 569 bombers attacking Kassel. The raid was a success, putting most of the aircraft industry of the city out of action. German war records list this attack as killing 5,599 people and injuring 3,587. The list of factories is 381 and dwellings not less than 3,000, some of which were already partly damaged. Losses were 7.6 per cent. 467 Sq lost P/O G.P. Goodwin and crew on their 27th operation: 7 KIA. P/O Buck Jones and crew were attacked by two fighters in their now classic attack, one on each side. Fast evasive action and good gunnery fought them off.  October finished with 467 Sq flying 121 sorties and attacking 9 enemy targets for the loss of 4 crews: 25 men KIA, 5 POW, 4 wounded and 3 in hospital with frost bite.

Temperature lapse rates vary a lot but average around 2 degrees C with each 1000 ft. altitude increase.  The temperature at 20,000 ft in these latitudes could often be as low as -40 C.  Electrically heated gloves, slippers and flying suits were used by some air-crew.  Gun Turret placements were remote from the main cabin area heating system and required special consideration.

 

3/4 November 1943.  467 Squadron, Bottesford.  Take-off 17:18, Landed 21:38

Bombing Dusseldorf.

Sortie completed.  No cloud, some haze.  Bombed centre of five green TIs from 18,000 at 19:53

(1 x 4,000lb HC, 108 x 30lb and 1290 x 4lb inc.).  Bombing concentrated and good fires seen, but tendency to creep back.  Very quiet trip except coned on run in to target for two minutes by about 12 S/Ls.  Very little flak and very few flares put down by fighters. Target clear and bombing looked very good.

Extract from: http://www.467463raafsquadrons.com/L02Pgs/diary02.htm

3 /4-11-1943, Dusseldorf

467 Sq sent 18 Lancasters to join 589 bombers attacking Dusseldorf. The operation was successful, although German war history does not give full details. 3.1 per cent were lost. 467 Sq lost S/L W.T. Lewis, DFC and crew: 3 KIA, 3 POW, 1 Evaded. Sgt Morley evaded capture and returned to the UK, reaching Waddington on 31 December 1943. F/O Patkin and crew were involved in a very determined attack by an ME 101 fighter. The gunners put up a spirited battle, finally shooting the fighter down in flames, confirmed by the other crew members.  Both gunners were wounded but, rather than leave their guns, they had not informed the pilot of their injuries.

 

10/11 November 1943.  467 Squadron, Bottesford.  Take-off 21:02, Landed 04:29

Bombing Modane.

Sortie completed.  Clear sky.  Slight haze in valleys.  Bombed red TI from 15,000 at 01:05

(1 x 4,000lb HC, 44 x 30lb and 840 x 4lb inc.).  Results of attack obscured by smoke from bursts.

Very quiet trip.  Moderate heavy flak over target.  Very cloudy on return trip.

Extract from: http://www.467463raafsquadrons.com/L02Pgs/diary02.htm

10/11-11-1943, Modane:

467 Sq sent 17 Lancasters to join 313 a/c attacking Modane. The operation was successful, but no German report has come to light. No loss from 467 Sq. This was the last operation from Bottesford for 467 Sq. They were in the process of shifting to RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire. The advance party had reached Waddington, then the aircraft flew over and were ready for operations by 17 November.

Extract from http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2-2RAF-c4.html

(Official History of New Zealand during the second world war 1939 ~ 1945 by H.L. Thompson)

“Several attempts were made by Bomber Command to hinder the flow of German supplies and reinforcements to Italy by cutting the railways on the Brenner and Riviera routes.  However, the most successful attack was that delivered by a force of 313 Lancasters in full moonlight on the night of 10/11 November 1943 against the rail marshalling yards at Modane near the French/Italian border. Tracks were torn up, buildings, including the engine shed were destroyed, and a German goods train standing at the station was wrecked.”

This raid on Modane was Ernie’s last sortie with 467 RAAF Bomber Squadron stationed at

Bottesford before transferring to 463 RAAF Bomber Squadron at Waddington

where he resumed combat operations 7 weeks later on 29th December 1943.

The Squadron’s “Operations Record Book”, in addition to recording the pilot’s de-briefing also carried a summary of events written up by the Squadron Commander and his Adjutant following each raid.  The following such entry (photograph of page) refers to the occasion that Ernie’s aircraft experienced an engine failure on the way to the target but was able to continue with 1 engine inoperative.  The pilot’s handling notes for the Mark 1 Lancaster stated that with one engine inoperative, height could be maintained, at maximum weight, at or below 10,000 ft.  Ernie’s de-briefing notes (see page 4) indicate that he was able to deliver his bomb load at 15,000 ft. following the engine failure.

I have noted the bomb release height for other No. 467 Squadron aircraft on this raid, and the indication is that 15,000 ft. was below the planned release height, but above the ‘engine-out’ ceiling of 10,000 ft.  The ability to limit his descent to 15,000 ft. may have been possible because the fuel load would have been substantially reduced after being airborne for some hours.  He may also have been relatively close to the target at the time of the engine failure and was thus able to limit the descent to 15,000 ft. during this period before bomb release.  Being designed as a heavy load lifter, the Lancaster had a substantial surplus of power when unladen and even with any 2 engines inoperative could maintain 10,000 ft. providing the fuel weight did not exceed half.   (See extract from the Squadron Commanders summary, below)

Extracts from the official RAF “Operations Record Book” 463 Squadron,

Waddington, Licolnshire (29th December 1943 to 20th February 1944).

Each  photographed page (white) has a easy-to-read transcription following.

                     abbreviations:    S/Ls = Search Lights.  HC = High Capacity.  inc = Incendiary.

                                               Tis = Target Identifier.  R/G = Rear Gunner.  MU = Mid Upper Gunner.

                                              A/C = Aircraft.  u/s = unserviceable (unavailable).

                                             Flak = derived from a long German word describing ‘anti aircraft artillery’.

 

29/30 December 1943.  463 Squadron, Waddington.  Take-off 16:56, Landed 23:53

Bombing Berlin.

Sortie completed.  Vis. Good, 10/10ths cloud about 12,000 ft.  Wanganui flare in sight at time of bombing 20,000 ft. 20:17 hrs. 1 x 4,000 HC, 900 x 4, 150 x 4 XIB, 56 x 30.  Cloud prevented assessment of bombing.  PFF flares well concentrated.  Very little glow could be seen on cloud.

Very quiet trip.  Moderate flak over target.  10/10ths cloud.

Bombs on marker flares from 20,000 ft.

Extract from: http://www.467463raafsquadrons.com/L02Pgs/diary02.htm

29/30-12-1943, Berlin:

467 Sq sent 13 a/c and 463 Sq 11 a/c to join 712 bombers attacking Berlin. Using a long approach route to the target the Halifaxes rejoined the attack. German reports say the raid killed 182, injured 600 and left 10,000 homeless in freezing weather.  2.8 per cent were lost.  467 Sq lost P/O B. Tait and crew: 7 KIA, F/O C. Reynolds and crew reported that they were hit by flak 200 miles before reaching the target, then on their bombing run they were hit again, and the incendiaries set on fire. They jettisoned the burning incendiaries and carried on to drop the 4,000 lb. ‘cookie’ on the markers although the aircraft was still on fire. The fire was put out by diving away from the target.

December finished with 467 Sqdrn flying 70 sorties to 6 enemy targets, for the loss of 2 crews: 14 men KIA. 463 Sq flew 51 sorties to 6 enemy targets without loss.

1943 was a long rough year for Bomber Command. November and December had presented some of the worst flying weather experienced in Britain for years. Almost half the days listed were fog bound and misty, with visibility bad to impossible.

(This was Ernie’s first Bombing Raid after transferring to 463 Squadron)

 

01/02 January 1944.  463 Squadron, Waddington.  Take-off 23:37, Landed 07:42

Bombing Berlin.

Sortie completed.  10/10 Strata Cumulus up to 10,000ft - above that, poor visibility owing to mist.

One Red Fair with green Stars cascading just prior to bombing (03:10 hours).

20,000ft. 03:11 hours, 1 x 4,000 750x4, 48x30 lbs. Inc.  Skymarkers were scattered over considerable area.  Fighter Flares before reaching Target but were soon in Target area.

Extract from: http://www.467463raafsquadrons.com/L02Pgs/diary02.htm

1/2-1-1944, Berlin:

467 Sq sent 10 a/c and 463 Sq 10 a/c to start the new year for Berlin, joining 421 Lancasters in a very effective raid. The raid is simply listed as very effective. 6.7 per cent were lost. 467 Sq lost F/O L.B. Patkin and crew, with F/S Mudie flying as 2nd pilot: 8 KIA. 463 Sq lost F/S Lawson and crew: 7 KIA.

 

14/15 January 1944.  463 Squadron, Waddington.  Take-off 16:38, Landed 22:07

Bombing Brunswick.

Sortie completed.  10/10 cloud about 10,000ft.  Centre of concentration of Wanganui flares 21,000ft 19:15 hrs.  1x4,000HC. 1,500x4 lb. 80x30lb.  PFF markers at first rather scattered, but later more concentrated as Lanc. left Target area.  Glow of fires could be seen on cloud which appeared to be concentrated.  Quiet trip.  Very few search lights over Target.  Mod. Flak.  Bombed centre of red flares with green stars.  9-10/10 cloud cover over Target.  Raid looked O.K. as we left Target.

Extract from: http://www.467463raafsquadrons.com/L02Pgs/diary02.htm

14/15-1-1944, Brunswick:

467 Sq sent 16 a/c and 463 13 a/c to join 496 Lancasters attacking Brunswick. The German running commentary was heard following the progress of the bomber force from a position only 40 miles from the English coast and many night-fighters entered the bomber stream. 38 Lancasters were lost, 7.6 per cent. No loss from 467/463 Squadrons.

 

20/21 January 1944.  463 Squadron, Waddington.  Take-off 16:32, Landed 23:59

Bombing Berlin.

Sortie completed.  9/10 cloud up to about 12,000ft. Vis. Fair above.

Centre of concentration of about 6 R/P flares.  21,000ft. 19:42 hrs. 1x4000HC. 900x4. 60x30 lb.

Red glow on cloud after leaving Target.  R/P flares were very well concentrated.  Very quiet trip.

Bombed centre of red flares with green stars.  Mod. Flak over Target.  9/10 cloud over Target North of Track on way home.  D.R. Compass [2] and GEE [3] u/s.

Extract from: http://www.467463raafsquadrons.com/L02Pgs/diary02.htm

20/21-1-1944, Berlin:

467Sq sent 15 a/c and 463 Sq sent 11 a/c to join 769 bombers attacking Berlin. In this raid the 264 Halifaxes rejoined the force. 22 Halifaxes and 13 Lancasters were lost: 4.6 per cent of the force. Berlin was cloud-covered and what happened in this raid is a mystery. The H2S  markers [4] claim to have accurately marked the city but PRU [5] evidence was impossible because of cloud. German reports deliberately dismiss the raid, probably to conceal the extent of the damage. Neither 467 Sq or 463 Sq lost aircraft, but F/L F. Merrill’s crew had oxygen trouble and the mid-upper gunner’s oxy valve failed and he, Sgt B. Turner, died from oxygen starvation.

 

27/28 January 1944.  463 Squadron, Waddington.  Take-off 17:24, Landed 02:34

Bombing Berlin.

Sortie completed.  10/10 cloud.  Tops about 9,000ft.  H.P.I. of 3 Wanganui flares. 21,000ft.  20:30 hrs.  1x4,000HC. 750x4. 15x4 ‘X’. 48x3).  Too early in attack to see any results.  Quiet trip. 10/10 over target and all the way home.  Bombed centre of green flares with red stars.  Mod. Flak over target.

Extract from: http://www.467463raafsquadrons.com/L02Pgs/diary02.htm

27/28-1-1944, Berlin:

467 Sq sent 15 a/c and 463 Sq 11 a/c to join 515 Lancasters attacking Berlin. Elaborate diversion raids were sent out to confuse the fighters, with some success, but 6.4 per cent were lost. German fighters who were not called away to the diversions met the bombers up to 70 miles out over the North Sea.  467 Sq lost F/O C. O’Brien and crew: 7 KIA. 463 Sq lost F/O E. Leslie and crew: 7 KIA.

 

28/29 January 1944.  463 Squadron, Waddington.  Take-off 00:20, Landed 07:38

Bombing Berlin.

Sortie completed.  10/10ths. One layer.  Visibility Good.

Flares in bombsights - Red with Green Stars.  Good concentration.  20,200 feet.  03:21 hours.  1 x 4,000 HC. 750 x 4.  150 x 4 ‘X’.  48 x 30.  Numerous fires.  Glow could be seen over one hundred miles away.  Quiet trip.  10/10 ths. Over Target very thin.  Bombed centre of Red flares with green stars, moderate flak over Target, and over Denmark on way IN and OUT.

Extract from: http://www.467463raafsquadrons.com/L02Pgs/diary02.htm

28/29-1-1944, Berlin:

467 Sq sent 13 a/c and 463 Sq 19 a/c to join 677 bombers attacking Berlin. 6.8 per cent were lost. The German report of Technischen Nothilfe Gau III - Berlin and Brandenburg, Berlin city archives, admits that this was the most concentrated attack of the period. A vast amount of damage was listed to technical buildings and 180,000 people made homeless, the casualties unknown. 467 Sq lost F/L I Durstan and crew: 7 KIA [6] 463 Sq lost F/L N. Cooper and crew: 7 KIA. Icing was severe and several aircraft had to jettison their loads and return. 

 

30/31 January 1944.  463 Squadron, Waddington.  Take-off 16:58, Landed 23:19

Bombing Berlin.

Sortie Completed.  10/10 cloud; tops around 18,000ft.  Centre of 7 Wanganui flares 20,500ft. 20:18½ hours.  1x4,000lb. HC. 1200x4.  64x30.  Cloud too thick to observe any results.  The Wanganui were dead over the middle of the area illuminated by searchlights.

Route considered good from point of view of coming more direct on return.  Moon too bright.  Lancasters could be seen clearly a mile away.

Extract from: http://www.467463raafsquadrons.com/L02Pgs/diary02.htm

30/31-1-1944, Berlin:

467 Sq sent 10 a/c and 463 Sq 14 a/c to join 534 bombers attacking Berlin. No diversion raids and a direct route to the city fooled the German controller for some time, but the fighters joined them over the target and 6.2 per cent were lost. Damage was effective, although the German efficiency in reporting was becoming strained and the listing started to lump areas together. Special mention is made that Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry and the transport system were damaged.

467 Sq lost P/O A.D. Riley and crew: 7 KIA. 463 Sq lost P/O P. Hanson and crew: 7 KIA (View the true tales page ‘A Diving Find’); P/O G.L. Messenger and crew: 5 KIA, 2 POW; and P/O. D. Dunn and crew: 7 KIA. F/O A.B. Simpson and crew of 467 Sq were attacked by a fighter. After a lively exchange of rounds the gunners claimed it was probably destroyed.

January 1944 ended with heavy snow. 467 Sq had flown 113 sorties, attacking 9 enemy targets for the loss of 8 crews: 56 men KIA, 1 POW. 463 Sq had flown 102 sorties, attacking 9 enemy targets for the loss of 8 crews: 53 men KIA, 4 POW. This was costly, but there was no respite. The German army was winning on all fronts, and the winter in Russia was just beginning to hold them up. In North Africa they were looking at Montgomery but still had to feel his teeth. The battle of the Atlantic was grim and food supplies to the UK were becoming a problem. Bomber Command was the only means of showing the Germans that war really hurt.

A successful raid such as that on 29/30 January on Berlin showed that at least 1,000 people were killed, 2,000 injured, 12,000 homeless from fire damage, 15 major factories gutted, and the transport system put out of action for weeks.

 

15/16 February 1944.  463 Squadron, Waddington.  Take-off 17:08, Landed 23:54

Bombing Berlin.

Sortie completed.  10/10 cloud; tops about 10,000ft.  Vis Good.  Centre of concentration of R/F flares with one flare in sight.  20,000ft. 21:10 hrs. 1x4,000lb  900x4.  60x30  150x4 ‘X’ Inc.

R/F flares well concentrated, no results observed owing to cloud.

A very quiet trip, bombed centre of Red flares with green stars.  Moderately heavy flak over target.  A lot of air to firing on way in to Target from starboard to Target.

Extract from: http://www.467463raafsquadrons.com/L02Pgs/diary02.htm

Winter flying conditions from England and over the continent were extremely difficult, and in early February 1944 only minor operations could be undertaken.

15/16-2-1944, Berlin:

467 Sq sent 18 a/c and 463 Sq 17 a/c to join the 891 bombers attacking Berlin, dropping 2,642 tons of bombs on the city. This was the largest attack to date and the first time more than 500 Lancasters had attacked a target. 4.8 per cent were lost, none from 467 or 463 Squadrons. 5 Group was now a major force under Air Vice-Marshal Ralph Cochrane, and was to remain so throughout the war.

 

19/20 February 1944.  463 Squadron, Waddington.  Take-off 23:20, Landed .....

Bombing Leipzig.

Aircraft failed to return.  No messages or signals received.

Extract from: http://www.467463raafsquadrons.com/L02Pgs/diary02.htm

19/20-2-1944, Leipzig:

467 Sq sent 17 a/c and 463 Sq 18 a/c in the 823 bombers attacking Leipzig. The German controller correctly estimated the target and massed his fighters en route. The bombers were under attack all the way. 9.5 per cent were lost. No damage report is available from Germany, and cloud prevented PRU assessment.

463 Sq lost F/O Fayle and crew: 7 KIA.

It is understood that Ernie and his crew volunteered for this last fateful mission.  Apparently, the calling

for volunteers from those crews not scheduled was a procedure adopted in some circumstances. [7]

Operations Record Book, No. 463 (RAAF) Squadron, Waddington

Squadron Commander's Diary page

February 1944

 

The following is a transcription of above:

1.2.44

2.2.44

 

3.2.44

 

4.2.44

5.2.44

6.2.44

 

7.2.44

 

8.2.44

 

9.2.44

10.2.44

11.2.44

12.2.44

13.4.44

14.2.44

15.2.44

16.2.44

17.2.44

18.2.44

19.2.44

20.2.44

21.2.44

22.2.44

23.2.44

 

24.2.44

 

 

25.2.44

 

26.2.44

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

27.2.44

 

28.2.44

 

29.2.44

 

Overcast.  No Ops.  Lecture and Films on Oxygen.

Overcast.  No Ops.  Lectures during morning.  Group Discussion Meeting held.  Sport in the afternoon.

P/O Saunders and crew proceeded on posting to 83 Squadron (P.F.F.)

Good morning.  No Ops.  Lecture on Americans and America given during morning.  Aircrew attended.

Four crew attended “Wet Dinghy Drill.  Visual Monica [8] Training and Security Film during afternoon.

Fairly clear to-day.  Air to Sea Gunnery Practice.  No Ops.  Sport during afternoon.

Very Windy To-day.  One aircraft slightly damaged whilst landing.

Low-lying cloud during morning. Very little flying. Visit from S/Ldr Vincent, RAAF Liaison Officer at

Bomber Command, and F/Lt Cartwright of No.5 Group H.Q.

Overcast. Cleared during afternoon training. Flying 11 Aircraft carried out Exercise, 14 taking off at

1930 hrs and landing at 23:30 hrs.

Bright sunny day. Commanding Officer and party of 20 visited A.W. Howes Ltd., Woodford.

Routine training.

Slightly overcast. Swimming in afternoon.

Cold and windy. No flying during morning. Routine training. Swimming.

No Ops. Routine Training.

Lecture by Group Naval liaison officer. Training.

Ops ON. 14 crews - SCRUBBED at 1600 hours. Kodak House Football Team visited Station.

No Ops to-day. Routine training carried out.

OPS ON - 17 crews. One early return - P/O Shouberg: Engines overheating.

OPS ON - Dismal morning - cleared up in the afternoon. OPS CANCELLED. Stand down at 14:30 hrs

OPS ON - Again cancelled.

OPS ON - Cancelled.

OPS ON. 18 aircraft. Target: LEIPZIG. F/O Fayle and Crew missing.

OPS ON again. 14 aircraft. Successful attack on STUTTGART. No losses.

NO OPS. Routine training.

Overcast. OPS ON. 17 Aircraft. Rain and Snow during afternoon. OPS CANCELLED at 1730 hours.

Overcast. Slight rain. NO OPS. Flying Training. Visit by Overseas H.Q. Public Relations Officer

S.Ldr Tart and S/L Jenison. F/Sgt Graham and Crew arrived on posting.

Bright Sunny Day. OPS ON. 17 Aircraft. P/O Mustard and Crew arrived on posting. F/O Kirkpatrick

departed on posting to East Kirby. Two waves take-off at 18:45 and 20:30 hours.

Target: SCHWEINFURT. F/Lt Martin and F/Lt Mortimer and Crews missing.

Slight Low Cloud. OPS ON. 13 Aircraft. Target: AUGSBURG. Successful attack. P/O McKnight and

Crew missing. P/O Smiths a/c damaged by enemy a/c. Enemy a/c (FW190) destroyed (confirmed).

Dull and slightly misty. No OPS. P/O Dechastel and crew arrived on posting.

Heavy fall of snow. NO OPS. Dinghy lectures during morning. Lantern lectures at 1400 hours on

P.F.F. Snow fatigues working all night.

Bright Sunny Morning. Snow lying about 12” to 18” thick. All ground crew on snow clearing. OPS ON.

OPS cancelled at 1845 hours.

Bright morning. All hands to snow clearing. NO OPS. Ground staff worked all night on snow clearing -

Three shifts: 2000-23:59hrs, 0001-0400hrs, 0401-0800hrs.

P/O Cassell and Crew, and F/Sgt Giddings and Crew arrived on posting.

 

 

RAAF 467 Squadron Bottesford, Leicestershire

 (30th August 1943 to 11th November 1943)

 

 

30/31

05/06

22/23

03/04

07/08

18/19

20/21

22/23

03/04

10/11

 

Aug ’43

Sep ’43

Sep ’43

Oct ’43

Oct ’43

Oct ’43

Oct ’43

Oct ’43

Nov ’43

Nov ’43

 

Bottesford

Bottesford

Bottesford

Bottesford

Bottesford

Bottesford

Bottesford

Bottesford

Bottesford

Bottesford

 

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

 

 Munchen (Munich) -Gladbach

Mannheim

Hanover

Kassel

Stuttgart

Hanover

Leipzig

Kassel

Dusseldorf

Modane

Return

1,244 Km

1,500 Km

1,428 Km

1,428 Km

1,678 Km

1,428 Km

1,830 Km

1,428 Km

1,104 Km

2,040 Km

Flight Time

4:13

7:04

5:21

6:07

7:58

5:15

6:48

5:59

4:20

7:27

RAAF 463 Squadron Waddington, Lincolnshire

(29th December 1943 to 20th February 1944)

 

 

29/30

01/02

14/15

20/21

27/28

28/29

30/31

15/16

19/20 

 

Dec ’43

Jan ’44

Jan ’44

Jan ’44

Jan ’44

Jan ’44

Jan ’44

Feb ’44

Feb ’44

 

Waddington

Waddington

Waddington

Waddington

Waddington

Waddington

Waddington

Waddington

Waddington

 

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

 

Berlin

Berlin

Brunswick

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Leipzig 

Return

1,882 Km

1,882 Km

1,506 Km

1,882 Km

1,882 Km

1,882 Km

1,882 Km

1,882 Km

1,806 Km

Flight Time

6:57

8:05

5:29

7:27

9:10

7:18

6:21

6:46

.......

The page reproduced below is representative of the standard pages in the RAF 'Operations Record Book'.

The preceding extracts were drawn from such pages.  This particular page, below,

contains the official "failed to return" entry for Ernie and his 6 crew members.

(Departed Waddington RAF Base 23:20 19th February 1944)

Transcription of one line entry in reproduced page below;

 "Aircraft failed to return.  No messages or signals received."

The adjutant has misquoted Ernies rank when typing up the last 5 de-briefing notes as

Ernie was promoted from Pilot Officer to Flight Officer on 25/7/1944

 

Footnotes:

1. "Ice Accretion" Airframe Ice Accretion presented a serious problem to Bomber Command as it was a common operational requirement to fly in low and mid-level cloud, an environment where ice accretion can occur.  The cruising altitudes of modern aircraft are generally above these levels and consequently the potential is far less prevalent to-day.  Also, aircraft are now better equipped should the problem be encountered at lower levels.

Ice Accretion can affect aircraft in two ways - (i) Air Frame & Propeller Icing and (ii) Carburettor Icing.

Piston engines have either a fuel induction system based on the carburettor or use a form of direct fuel injection.  Aircraft piston engines fitted with carburettors are prone to ice accretion in the venturi (air intake) and if this does occur it causes a substantial reduction in power with the risk of complete engine failure if the problem is not properly addressed.  The Rolls Royce Merlin engines fitted to Lancasters had carburetted fuel induction systems up till 1943 when fuel injection systems were introduced.  Prior to this change, carburettor icing presented a real hazard despite measures to address the problem being available (‘carby heat’).

Air-frame icing occurs when sub-zero temperature water droplets freeze on impact with airframe and propeller components  (‘super-cooled’ droplets at altitude remain in liquid form at temps below zero and solidify on impact).  Ice can build rapidly and has the potential to distort the aerodynamic design and efficiency to such an extent that the safety of the aircraft can be seriously jeopardised.  Many bombers had to jettison their bomb load if encountering severe icing conditions because of an inability to maintain height.

Glycol mixtures were used to combat ice accretion on the windscreen and bomb aimer’s dome.

Airframe icing can occure when flying in cloud and when flying in certain sub-zero temperature and encountering rain from an inversion layer above.  However, 'carburettor ice' may form at any time (inlcluding flight in perfectly clear air).

[Carburettor ice forms in the narrowed air intake throat of the carburettor known as the venturi passage.  Such ice accumulation is caused by a lowing of temperature consequent to pressure reduction (in the venturi passage).  This reduction in pressure is inbuilt and is designed to facilitate fuel being drawn from the carburettor's float chamber but also has the unwanted consequence of reducing temperature as well as pressure).  Carburettors fitted to aircraft engines invariably have a 'carburettor heat' facility to address this unwanted side-effect, however, there are further complications which limit its effectiveness.]

To return to same place in main text body (Ice Accretion), click here.

2.  "The D.R. Compass": was additional to the Pilot’s standard P type compass and was remotely located.  It had more refinement than the standard P type compass and it fed ‘repeater heads’ for the pilot, navigator and bomb aimer as well as providing information to the Navigator’s API device.

To return to same place in main text body (D.R. Compass), click here.

3.  "GEE" A receiver for a navigation system of synchronised pulses transmitted from the UK - aircraft calculated their position from the phase shift between pulses and was plotted on a chart of intersecting curves (range 480-650 Km).

To return to same place in main text body (GEE), click here.

4.  "H2S Markers" (radar):  was used in bombers of RAF Bomber Command. It was designed to identify targets on the ground for night and all-weather bombing.  To return to same place in main text body (H2S Markers), click here.

5.  "Photo Reconnaissance Unit":  To return to same place in main text body (Photo reconnaissance), click here.

6.  "F/L I. Durston & Crew":   A German Aviation Historical group first discovered aircraft wreckage in a wooded area 40 kilometres north of Berlin near the town of Oranienberg.  Initial excavation in 1999 recovered a quantity of remains and some personal effects. Identification of the aircraft and crew remained unclear and the remains were interred at Berlin War Cemetery as Unknown British Airmen.  Further investigation in 2001 identified the aircraft as that of F/L I. Durstan and crew.  To return to same place in main text body (F/L I. Durston & Crew), click here.

7.  This information obtained from a close family member.

To return to same place in main text body (Ernies last mission - Lost Without Trace), click here.

8.  "Monica" was a range-only, audible tail warning radar for bombers, introduced by the RAF in June 1943.

To return to same place in main text body (Monica radar), click here.

 

 

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Introduction

Chapter 2

Appendix

Epilogue

Notes

Addendum