7th Squadron Sorties ~ Oct 44 RAF Oakington
05 October 1944 – Alt-Saarbrucken Lancaster Vl JB675 MG-O Primary Visual Marker
Crew: F/lt Baxter, F/O Berry, F/O Morrison, P/O Bingham, Fl/S Graham, Flt/Sgt Richardson, Flt/Sgt Reid
Night – the Royal Air Force massively raided Saarbrücken on October 5, 1944, in order to destroy supply lines, especially the railway. The 531 Lancasters and 20 Mosquitos achieved these goals, losing 3 Lancasters but destroying large parts of Malstatt and nearly all of Alt-Saarbrücken. From January 13 to January 14, the Royal Air Force raided Saarbrücken 3 times, targeting the railway yard. The attacks with 158, 274, and 134 planes, respectively, were very effective.
06 October 1944 – Schloven – Buer (Gelsenkirchen-Horst ) Lancaster Vl JB675 MG-O Master Bomber
A daylight operation to bomb the Hibernia AG synthetic oil plant at Scholven-Buer. Another operation was being carried out at the same time on the plant at Sterkrade. The weather was very clear and reports state that the bombing proved accurate although we have no details of the damage/losses on the ground. 10 aircraft were lost on these 2 raids. Three quarters of Gelsenkirchen was destroyed and many above-ground air raid shelters such as at Hans-Sachs-Haus downtown and the town hall in Buer are still in nearly original form. This large daylight raid had, as its aiming point, the Nordstern synthetic-oil plant.
Gelsenkirchen was reputed to be most strongly defended area in the Ruhr Valley. Defences consist of heavy and very accurate visually predicted flak
RAF 7 Sqn. PB241 MG-X Missing on operation to Scholven Buer, synthetic oil facility of Gelsenberg Benzin AG. Crashed at Wissel, 3 miles from Emmerich, 25 miles from Arnhem. Crewmen Wireless operator Archibald Davidson and Rear Gunner Walter McWilliam KIA. McWilliams body was found with the wreckage. Davidson was seen to fall to the ground with the parachute aflame and entangled in his legs. His body was found within a 5 minute walk of the wreckage. All other crew became POWs
GELSENKIRCHEN:- The centre of the synthetic oil industry. Population 332,000. Residential area devastated and the oil plants severely damaged. This was one of the most heavily defended places in Germany. Another synthetic oil plant with severe damage and bomb craters surrounding it for miles.
07 October 1944 – Emmerich Lancaster Vl JB675 MG-O Longstop Master Bomber (MB – W/C Foster) Town wiped out.
340 Lancasters & 10 Mosquitos of 1, 3 and 8 Groups were sent to Emmerich, in Ramrod 1319. Three Lancasters were lost at Emmerich. Emmerich was 91% destroyed on October 7, 1944
The Lancaster just behind us was hit by flak and we could see the crew bailing out. We had no sooner opened our bomb bay doors than we had a direct hit by flak. We dropped our bombs and headed home, with the plane performing well. Back at base we checked the damage and could see the bomb bays holed from the inside to the outside. We were lucky as the bombs protected us from the flak. The damage was from the front turret down the fuselage to the rear turret. The ‘Cookie’ had a thin casing, but withstood the flak, so we were lucky it did not explode.
Craig’s award of a DSO (441024) was gazetted on 24 October 1944 (Gazette No 36761 4th supplement to 20 October 1944) which gives no citation but ranks him as an Acting Squadron Leader, still of No 7 Squadron. CRAIG, Alan John Laird, S/L, DFC (103561, Royal Air Force) – No.7 Squadron – Enlisted 1940. Commissioned 1941.
On 17th October 1944 while on deserved leave Craig received a letter signed from Paul (Adjutant?) at 7 PFF Squadron, Oakington, that a posting for him had come through transferring him to 3 Group (at Exning). (WEF 26/10/44). As a result his Wing Commander rather than letting his crew continue on Ops without him as Captain would ask the Group Commander to consider them ‘tour expired’. The same letter advised that his crewman F/O Morrison had been promoted to Flight Lieutenant.
At this point S/L Craig appears to have been rested with his Ops Tours Summary for No.7 PFF Sqdn performance from 9/4/44 to 25/10/44 recorded as ‘Exceptional‘ by the normally understating Officer in Command W/Cdr D M Walback? DSO