7th Squadron Operational Sorties July 1944
6 July 1944 – Forêt de Croc V-1 Flying Bomb Site Lancaster lll ND460 MG-W (3.05) as Master Bomber.
7-Crew F/Lt Baxter, F/O Berry, F/O Morrison, P/O Bingham, Flt/Sgt Graham, Flt/Sgt Richardson, Flt/Sgt Reid
551 aircraft – 314 Halifaxes, 210 Lancasters, 26 Mosquitos, 1 Mustang – attacked 5 No. V1-weapon targets. Only 1 aircraft was lost, a No 6 Group Halifax from a raid on Siracourt flying-bomb store. Four of the targets were clear of cloud and were believed to have been bombed accurately but no results were seen at the Forêt de Croc launching site.
- Final Assembly: After moving the V1 from the storage area, the wings were slid/bolted over/to the tubular spar.
- Final Checkout: In the non-magnetic building, “compass swinging” was completed by hanging the V1 and pointing it toward the target. The missile’s external casing of 16-gauge sheet steel was beaten with a mallet until its magnetic field was suitably aligned. The automatic pilot was set with the flight altitude input (300–2500 metres) to the barometric (aneroid) height control and with the range set within the air log (journey computer).
- Hoisting: The V1 was delivered to the launching ramp via a wooden handling trolley on rails. A wooden lifting gantry on rails was connected to the V1 lifting lug to hoist and move it onto the launching spot at the lower end of the launching ramp.
- Fuelling and Charging: Via the tank filler cap, 1,133 lbs (140 gallons) of petrol (German: B-Stoff) were added (later longer-range models held more). The twin spherical iron air bottles were charged with 900 psi air to power the automatic pilot (Steuergerät). Air at 90 psi powered the pneumatic servo-motors for the elevators and rudder.
- Catapult setup: The starter trolley with the hydrogen peroxide and catalyst (potassium permanganate granules, Z-stoff) was connected to provide steam to the ramp’s firing tube, and the steam piston was placed into the firing tube with the piston’s launching lug connected to the V1.
- V1 Startup: While the steam-generating trolley was being connected, the Argus As 109-014 Ofenrohr pulsejet engine was started.
- Post-launch: The steam piston, having separated from the V-1 at the end of the ramp during launch, was collected for re-use (the site nominally had only 2 pistons). Personnel in rubber boots and protective clothing used a catwalk along the ramp and washed the launching rail with brooms.
The fate of this Lancaster Aircraft MG-W – Taking off at 22.08 hrs 7th Aug 44 from R.A.F. Oakington, Cambridgeshire to bomb targets in the Normandy Battle Area ahead of Allied Ground Troops. With 1,019 aircraft taking part in carefully controlled bombing points. 660 aircraft actually bombed causing damage to German strong points and roads. – Thought “probable” that it was shot down by either Hptm. Heinz-Rokker (4) 2./NJG2 at 23.29 hrs or by Uffz. Rolf Koch (5) of 4./NJG4 at 23.47 hrs. with the Lancaster crashing at Bolbec an industrial town on the Le Havre to Amiens Road
12 July 1944 – Thiverny Flying Bomb Site Lancaster lll PA964 MG-K (3.20) as Deputy Master Bomber (MB- W/C Baker) 9/10th cloud no result (with Flt/Sgt Turner added)
222 Aircraft – 168 Halifaxes, 46 Lancasters, 8 Mosquitos – of Nos 4, 6 and 8 Groups bombed a storage dump at Thiverny but the Target was cloud-covered and no results were seen. 18 Lancasters and 5 Mosquitos of No 8 Group used Oboe to bomb the Rollez launching site. No aircraft lost.
The V1 was capable of killing large numbers of people, inflicting terrible injuries and causing huge material damage to buildings and homes. The V1 caused blast damage over a wide area. It exploded on the surface, and a huge blast wave rippled out from the epicentre. As it did so it left a vacuum, which caused the 2nd rush of air as the vacuum was filled. This caused a devastating pushing and pulling effect. At the impact site houses or buildings were totally demolished. In inner London suburbs where terrace houses were packed together, sometimes up to 20 houses would totally collapse. Brick walls were pulverised into small fragments. Further out from the epicentre walls, roofs and window frames were ripped out exposing the contents and innards of the house. Further out still, all the windows were blown out and roofing slates were blown off. Every time a Doodlebug landed 100s of houses were damaged. Ranging from demolition to slight damage. This was a cold, wet summer and repairs would take many months. Londoners were de-housed in their 10s of 1,000’s or shivered in cold, damp and roofless houses. The blast area of a V1 extended across a radius of 400-600 yards in each direction. Anyone unlucky enough to be close to the impact site would be blown apart or suffer crush injuries from falling masonry. Others would be trapped below collapsed buildings and have to be dug out. Further away from the impact site awful injuries were inflicted by shards of flying glass. During the course of the attacks, the nature of the injuries changed somewhat. At the beginning, people were caught unaware on the street and injuries from flying glass were widespread. Later on, people had understood the necessity of shelter in safe(er) areas of their home e.g. under the stairs. However, this had the effect of less flying glass injuries but more crush injuries from people being buried in the ruins of collapsed houses. The toll of human suffering was approximately 6,184 people killed by V1’s and 17,981 seriously injured and maimed. Tens of 1000′s of others received lesser injuries. Countless more would suffer the pain of bereavement or from the loss of their home and treasured possessions.
The fate of this Aircraft MG-K – On Saturday, 10 June 1944, (a part of) the aircraft of the 7th Squadron (RCAF), took off for a mission to Scholven Power Station, Gelsenkirchen in Germany from a station (airfield) in or near Oakington. One of the crew members was Flight Sergeant W Parkin RCAF. He departed for his mission at 15:07. He flew with an Avro Lancaster (type III, with serial PA964 and code MG-K). His mission and of the other crew members was planned for Saturday, 10 June 1944. Failed to return.
Gelsenkirchen: was reputed to be most strongly defended the area in the Ruhr Valley. Defences consist of heavy and very accurate visually predicted flak
PA964 took part in the following Key Operations: As MG-D, Peenemunde 17/18th August 1943; Berlin 3/4th September 1943; Mannheim 23/24th September 1943; Hannover 18/19th October 1943; Berlin 22/23rd November 1943; Berlin 23/24th Nov 1943; Berlin 26/27th November 1943; Berlin 2/3rd December 1943; Brunswick 14/15th January 1944 (Aircraft struck by 1,000lb bomb and Incendiary bombs over the Target, causing fire and loss of fuel, but S/L LRD Campling succeeded in landing the Aircraft safely at Coltishall). Then repaired as MG-P, Frankfurt 22/23rd March 1944. Coltishall 1959
15 July 1944 – Chalons-sur-Marne Lancaster lll PA975 MG-K (6.30) 90 miles east of Paris as Master Bomber, Good Attack – Weather Poor
222 Lancasters and 7 Mosquitos attacked railway marshalling yards at Chalons sur Marne and Nevers. Both raids were successful. 3 aircraft lost, 2 Lancasters from the Nevers raid and 1 Lancaster from Chalons.
18 July 1944 – Cagny Lancaster lll NE123 MG-J (3.15) Support to Caen Troops
Operation Goodwood as Deputy Master Bomber with S/L Jones and S/L Dixon (MB-W/C Baker)
942 aircraft – 667 Lancasters, 260 Halifaxes, 15 Mosquitos – to bomb 5 fortified villages in the area east of Caen through which British 2nd Army troops were about to make an armoured attack, Operation Goodwood. The raids took place at dawn in clear conditions. 4 of the targets were satisfactorily marked by Oboe and, at the target where Oboe failed, the Master Bomber, Squadron Leader E K Creswell, and other Pathfinder crews used visual methods. American bombers also attacked these targets and a total of 6,800 tons of bombs were dropped, of which Bomber Command dropped more than 5,000 tons. Elements of 2 German divisions, the 16th Luftwaffe Field Division and the 21st Panzer Division, were badly affected by the bombing, the Luftwaffe Division particularly so. Operation Goodwood made a good start. This raid was either the most useful or one of the most useful of the operations carried out by Bomber Command in direct support of the Allied Armies. The aircraft bombed from medium heights, 5,000-9,000ft, but army artillery and naval gunfire subdued many of the flak batteries and only 6 aircraft – 5 Halifaxes and 1 Lancaster – were shot down. No German fighters appeared. Allied air superiority over the battlefield by day was complete.
(18 July 1944: Op 19: Lancaster R2: F/O Bennet/Crew)
Pilot’s comments: Caen battle area. A dawn attack on enemy lines. Very heavy gun barrage seen below. Bomb load 9000 lbs.
Navigator’s comments: (forward battle area). Our bomb load was 13000 lb H.E. We took off at dawn and bombed in daylight. Our attack was against German armour and infantry in a large cement works to the east of Caen. I understand that a large number of our troops (Polish soldiers) were killed in this attack as some of the target markers went awry. The bombing was later described as concentrated and very good. Years later, I saw on television an interview with a German Regimental Commander, and he described this heavy bombing, and said ‘My Regiment ceased to exist on that day’. We saw no fighters. I often felt that the use of a strategic bomber force in close support of ground troops was not a correct role. Although more than 1000 Lancs and Halifax Bombers took part, I believe the same effects, with less danger to our troops, could have been affected by rocket-firing Typhoons and fighter-bombers. The duration was 3 hrs and 45 mins.
Mid-Upper Gunner’s comments: Caen, France. Target Troop concentrations in front of our lines. Bomb load 25-500 pounder anti-personnel bombs. Bombed at 6000 ft in clear weather. No flak. This was the 1st real chance to help our boys in the front lines. Trip 3 hours 50 minutes. All Aircraft back. Weather – Cloudy, good visibility.
The Master Bomber was clearly heard giving his bombing instructions. Fairly heavy light and heavy flak were encountered over and before the target area. Five aircraft were seen to be hit in the target area and go down, although no enemy aircraft were seen.
38 Lancasters were detailed against troops and armour East of Caen prior to an attack by British 2nd Army troops. They were part of a force of 667 Lancasters, 260 Halifaxes and 15 Mosquitoes.
Weather – En route. Much low cloud over England with thick haze at English coast – clearing on Channel crossing. Target. No cloud, excellent visibility.
Bomb load 13,000lbs, 11 x 1,000lb and 4 x 500lb.
The 1st successful use of the technique was on May 6, 1943, at the end of the Tunisia Campaign. Carried out under Sir Arthur Tedder, it was hailed by the Press as Tedder’s bomb-carpet (or Tedder’s Carpet). The bombing was concentrated in a 4 x 3 mile area preparing the way for the 1st Army. This tactic was later used in many cases in the Normandy Campaign, for example in the Battle for Caen.
Flak negligible in the Target area, but accurate predicted heavy flak was encountered leaving the target area. No enemy fighters were seen. The cover was supplied by 2 Group. Marking and assessment of the attack. Marking was by low bursting Red TI’s from H-5 to H-1. Then by Yellow TI’s bursting at 4,000ft leaving a trail of white smoke. Markers were accurate and punctual, except for one which the Master Bomber identified as being 100 yards South. Bombing commenced 1 min. early and excellent concentration was achieved. The aiming point was soon obscured by dust and smoke, but the TI’s were still visible.
12/A W/C JD Nelson, Hit by heavy flak outside the Starboard outer engine, in the target area.
12/H P/O JF Murison, Hit by heavy flak in the target area, punctured coolant tank, cockpit perspex, and rear turret cartridge chute.
12/N Sgt. FB Small, Hydraulic system hit by light flak in target area.
626/A2 F/O AC Hicks, Hit by flak.
626/D2 F/O WD Wilson, A live 1,000lb bomb was found rolling about in the bomb doors after leaving the target. It was jettisoned.
626/E2 P/O AP Jones, Hit by flak.
626/S2 F/O A H Wood, Hit by flak in bomb doors and Starboard wing.
Cagny after Allied Bombing Raids
The fate of this Aircraft MG-J, Lost without a trace over English channel – On Friday, 25 August 1944, (a part of) the aircraft of the 7th Squadron (RAAF), took off for a mission to Brest in France from a station (airfield) in or near Oakington. One of the crew members was Flight Sergeant H Stenhouse RAAF. He departed for his mission at 22:24. He flew with a Avro Lancaster (type III, with serial NE123 and code MG-J). His mission and of the other crew members was planned for Saturday, 26 August 1944.
The Distinguished Flying Cross or DFC was in the main awarded to Officers of the RAF, and many members of Bomber Command were awarded this decoration with its distinctive diagonal blue stripe, 1 of 3 Flying awards having this distinct style of ribbon. The DFC could be awarded for a Tour of Operations or an immediate award for 1 Operation. Made from silver the medal did not carry the recipient’s number, rank and name but was only dated with the year that it was awarded.
AJL Craig Awarded DFC, 21 July 1944 for Services with 7 Squadron.
S/L Craig with a 7 of an Aircrew standing by Lancaster Reg No.NE 122 of 7th Sqdn this Crew may include (and not in any order)
F/lt Baxter, F/O Berry, F/O Morrison, P/O Bingham, Ftl/Sgt Graham, Flt/Sgt Richardson, Flt/Sgt Reid – there were normally 2 Navigators in support of a Master Bomber Pilot (only one Flt/Sgt apparent)
23 July 1944 – Kiel Lancaster lll NE123 MG-J (5.10) Not recorded in Digital Copy Log Book 2
Kiel: This was the 1st major raid on a German city for 2 months. 629 aircraft – 519 Lancasters, 100 Halifaxes, 10 Mosquitos – were dispatched. The elaborate deception and Radio Counter Measure operations combined with the surprise return to a German target completely confused the German fighter force and only 4 aircraft – all Lancasters – were lost, a rate of 0.6%. The city suffered heavily in this 1st RAF raid since April 1943 and its heaviest RAF raid of the war. The bombing force appeared suddenly from behind a Mandrel jamming screen and the local radio warning system only reported it as being a force of minelaying aircraft. 612 aircraft then bombed in a raid lasting only 25 minutes. All parts of Kiel were hit but the bombing was particularly heavy in the port areas and all of the important U-boat yards and naval facilities were hit. The presence of around 500 delayed-action bombs or unexploded duds caused severe problems for the rescue and repair services. There was no water for 3 days; trains and buses did not run for 8 days and there was no gas for cooking for 3 weeks.
Night raid to Kiel. The Master Bomber 1 was heard speaking to Master Bomber 2 for a while, but about 01.23 hours the Master Bomber 2 took over. Heavy flak in barrage form was encountered between 12,000 and 22,000 feet. One aircraft was shot down by a flak ship and another 3 seen shot down in the target area. One Dornier 217 was seen. The operation was considered a success and the flight plan good.
Lawrence ‘Nick’ Nicholson DFM., began his Pathfinder duty on 35 Squadron as a rear gunner in TL -J for ‘Johnny’ and his 1st Op was a daylight raid, on 23rd July 1944, to the U-Boat yards at Kiel. He was fortunate and survived a total of 57 trips. He is now a spritely 79 years old and lives in Leicestershire. – Peter Nicholson
The fate of MG-J ~ Lost without trace over English channel – On Friday, 25 August 1944, (a part of) the aircraft of the 7th squadron (RAAF), took off for a mission to Brest in France from a station (airfield) in or near Oakington. One of the crew members was Flight Sergeant H Stenhouse RAAF. He departed for his mission at 22:24. He flew with an Avro Lancaster (type III, with serial NE123 and code MG-J). His mission and of the other crew members was planned for Saturday, 26 August 1944.
24 July 1944 – Stuttgart (7.50) Not recorded in Digital Log Book 2
He was attacked by a Ju.88 50 miles from target, shot it down and evaded 4 others and logbook notes arrived 4 mins late with no damage sustained.
461 Lancasters and 153 Halifaxes to Stuttgart. 17 Lancasters and 4 Halifaxes lost, 4.6% of the force. This was the 1st of 3 heavy raids on Stuttgart in 5 nights and the only report available is a composite one for the 3 raids. The 3 raids caused the most serious damage of the war in the central districts of Stuttgart which, being situated in a series of narrow valleys, had eluded Bomber Command for several years. They were now devastated and most of Stuttgart’s public and cultural buildings were destroyed. The 2nd of the 3 raids, on the night of 25/26 July, was the most successful.
28 July 1944 – Stuttgart (7.00) Not recorded in Digital Copy Log Book 2
494 Lancasters and 2 Mosquitos of Nos 1, 3, 5 and 8 Groups in the last raid of the current series on Stuttgart. German fighters intercepted the bomber stream while over France on the outward flight; there was a bright moon and 39 Lancasters were shot down, 19% of the force.
30 July 1944 – West Villers Bocage (3.05) Not recorded in Digital Copy Log Book 2
Attack made at 2000ft Altitude.
East of Caumont. Allied heavy and medium bombers and fighter-bombers of the 2nd Tactical Air Force supported the ground attack, (Operation Bluecoat) although at 1st poor weather severely hampered Air Operations. In addition, the Bocage landscape comprised numerous small fields bordered by thick and tall hedgerows, between which ran narrow sunken country lanes. The terrain provided excellent cover for the defending German forces. 692 aircraft – 462 Lancasters, 200 Halifaxes, 30 Mosquitos – were sent to bomb 6 German positions in front of a mainly American ground attack in the Villers Bocage & Caumont area. The presence of cloud caused many difficulties and only 377 aircraft were able to bomb, on to Oboe markers, and only 2 of the 6 targets were effectively hit. 4 Lancasters lost. 2 Mosquitos carried out uneventful Ranger patrols.