7th Squadron Sorties ~ Sept 44 ~RAF Oakington
1 September 1944 – Lumbres (Nord Pas de Calais) Lancaster lll NE123 MG-J (2.25) as Master Bomber
Crew: F/lt Baxter, F/O Berry, F/O Morrison, P/O Bingham, Fl/S Graham, Flt/Sgt Richardson, Flt/Sgt Reid
121 aircraft – 97 Halifaxes, 15 Mosquitos, 9 Lancasters – of 4 and 8 Groups bombed V2 Rocket storage sites at Lumbres and La Pourchinte without loss. Both raids were successful, the Lumbres attack particularly so.
Five liquid oxygen plants in France and Belgium were attacked, and on 31st August/1st September Bomber Command dropped 2,897 tons on 9 suspected storage depots. As soon as the enemy began to fire the rockets it was the intention of the Allied High Command to add bridges to the general list of targets to be attacked. If some 30 of these on or near the frontiers of Belgium, France, and Germany could be cut, the supply of rockets would soon fall away.
3 September 1944 – Venlo Lancaster lll PB454 MG-J (3.15) as Master Bomber. Came back on 2 Port engines landing at Woodbridge with 15 miles fuel left
675 aircraft – 348 Lancasters, 315 Halifaxes, 12 Mosquitos – carried out heavy raids on 6 airfields in Southern Holland. All raids were successful and only 1 Halifax was lost from the Venlo raid.
“On 3rd September 1944, Squadron Leader Craig was detailed to mark a target at Venlo Airfield and to act as Master Bomber. On his marking run, at the opening phase of the attack, the aircraft received a direct hit by predicted heavy flak which damaged the starboard fuel system causing a serious petrol leak and defective engines. Disregarding this he pressed home his attack and accurately marked he target. “Despite the fact that fuel was leaking into the fuselage causing considerable discomfort, Squadron Leader Craig continued giving his instructions until, when the position became acute, he handed over to his Deputy. By this time it was found that the fuel system was damaged to such an extent that the starboard engines could not be run from the port tanks. The aircraft at this time was at 5,000 feet and he decided that the only way to bring his damaged aircraft safely back on the 2 remaining engines was at very low engine conditions which would probably mean loss of height. “He decided to set course for an emergency landing field in this country involving a long sea crossing during which time height was gradually lost and to maintain the aircraft in the air all moveable and jettison-able equipment was thrown overboard. By supreme efforts Squadron Leader Craig, although at an extremely low height over the sea, completed his hazardous flight by making a safe landing with his wheels down. It was found on inspection after landing at RAF Woodbridge that sufficient fuel for only 15 miles flying remained.
Author: Hugh A Halliday
“In September 1944, Squadron Leader Alan J L Craig and Warrant Officer John Edward Davidson were Pilot and Flight Engineer respectively of an aircraft detailed to attack an enemy airfield (Venlo). Whilst over the target the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire. The starboard fuel system was damaged, causing a serious leakage of petrol. Despite this, Squadron Leader Craig pressed home his attack. The 2 starboard engines were now useless. Nevertheless, this pilot set course for home. The enemy coast was safely crossed but, whilst over the sea, height was gradually being lost. All movable equipment was jettisoned to assist in maintaining height and finally, a landing was made at the nearest airfield. Throughout the return flight, Flight Engineer, Warrant Officer Davidson well proved his engineering skill and his efforts were of immense value to his Captain. In perilous circumstances, these members of aircraft crew displayed the highest standard of coolness, courage and determination. Squadron Leader Craig has completed a very large number of sorties and has proved himself to be an inspiring leader. Warrant Officer Davidson has also participated in many bombing missions and has always displayed the greatest keenness and devotion to duty.
Public Record Office Air 2/9160 has recommendation drafted 7 September 1944 when he had flown 55 sorties (219 hours 30 minutes) of which 27 sorties (115 hours 45 minutes) had been since his previous award. Craig was awarded the DSO for this Mission and Davidson received a DFC – both London Gazetted 24th October 1944
CRAIG, Allan John Laird, S/L – 441024 – citation – 7 Sqdn – DSO
Alan’s 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, Allan John Laird, S/L, DFC (103561, Royal Air Force) – No.7 Squadron – Enlisted 1940. Commissioned 1941.
Woodbridge Emergency Landing Ground (lower left) was specially built as the 1st of 3 Bomber Command emergency runways for damaged allied aircraft returning from operations over Europe. It was opened in No. 3 Group, Bomber Command, on 15 November 1943 and was administered as a satellite of RAF Bentwaters (upper right). Dispersal loops, onto which crashed bombers were taken and serviceable aircraft parked, adjoin the south side of the single large runway (3,000 yards long x 250 yards wide), the size of which should be compared with those of the airfield at Bentwaters.
RAF Woodbridge (above-lower left)
In 1943, Woodbridge was constructed in the south-east as 1 of 3 Airfields set up to accept distressed Aircraft returning from raids over Germany and was therefore fitted with extra-long, heavy-duty runways (the other 2 being at RAF Manston in Kent and RAF Carnaby in Yorkshire). These Airfields were intended for use by returning bombers suffering from low-fuel and suspected damage to their pneumatics (wheel brake) and/or hydraulics (Control surface) systems. All 3 airfields were equipped with a single runway, 9,000ft (2,700 m) long and 750ft (230 m) wide. (5 times the normal width) There was a further clear area of 1,500ft (460 m) at each end of the runway. At each of the 3 Airfields, the runway was divided into 3 x 250ft (76 m) lanes. The northern and central lanes were allocated by flying control, while the southern lane was the emergency lane on which any aircraft could land without 1st making contact with the airfield. It was initially called RAF Sutton Heath. The site at Woodbridge was chosen as it was ‘nearly fog-free and had no obstructions for miles; although more than a million trees had to be cleared from Rendlesham Forest to take the new base.
About 30% of the emergency landings were caused by bad weather, especially fog which could be dispersed by Fog Investigation & Dispersal Operation (FIDO) where up to 450,000 litres (99,000 imp gal) of petrol per hour was pumped through a system of pipes along the side of the runway and burnt to produce a wall of flames which would lift the fog. Fuel was transported to Melton Railway Station before being piped to the airfield. By the end of the WW2 4,200 aircraft had made emergency landings at RAF Woodbridge.
“This action is typical of the spirit consistently displayed by this gallant officer, whose example, at all times, has been outstanding and who has, throughout his operational tour in this squadron, given distinguished service. “This officer has proved himself to be an outstanding captain of aircraft. He has been employed in the capacity of Master Bomber and Deputy Master Bomber on 30 occasions, by day and night. “On all raids that this officer has controlled, which have varied between such heavily defended targets as Kiel and tactical targets in support of the Army, he has shown outstanding fearlessness, coolness and judgement. Every attack he has controlled has been highly successful and the success of these operations, often in difficult circumstances, can be attributed in no mean way to Squadron Leader Craig’s masterly handling of all situations. “He has, by disregard of personal danger, carried out his own marking with accuracy and precision and he has carried out all his instructions with the utmost sincerity, having one thing in mind at all times – to ensure that the raid should be, at all costs, a success.”
5th September 1944 – Le Havre Lancaster lll PB454 MG-J (2.40)
a daylight raid on Le Havre as Army Support. Master Bomber
6th September 1944 – Emden Lancaster Vl JB675 MG-J (4.00) Master Bomber – Good Attack
The. 6 September 1944 was a beautiful, warm and almost windless day in late summer. At 18.00 clock Fliegeralarm was given. The population of Emden went for the 100th time to the bunkers, over 3 years Emden was often the target of air raids as Emden was the test flight corridor of the Allied air forces. Once there, hell broke loose over Emden, a 20-minute bombardment that seemed to last an eternity – the Miterlebenden. In several waves the Allied planes dropped approximately 1,500 high explosive bombs, 10,000 incendiary bombs and 3,000 phosphorous bombs. Five 100 years of architectural history of the city went up in flames. What was once a “Venice of the North” became a landscape of rubble.
Inspired by the Lancaster Mk lV with 4 x 1219kW (1635hp) Merlin 85 engines each driving a 4-bladed propeller the Lancaster B.Mk Vl was a development of the Lancaster Mk lll, with the same powerplant and an airframe that was changed only by the omission of the nose and dorsal turrets. The prototype conversion made it’s maiden flight in the spring of 1944, and another 6 aircraft followed. Only 4 of the aircraft were used operationally by Nos 7 and 635 Squadrons. They were used in the electronic warfare role with radar jamming and ‘window‘ chaff equipment, and even these were withdrawn in November 1944. JB675 7,106,635 Sqs F2-U
JB675 Mk III converted to Mk VI prototype at Hucknall Nov ‘43. At Hucknall for development of Merlin 68, 102, 150, 620 (fitted outboard for tests for Canadair 4), 621, 630, 641. Dismantled, by road to Cosford, scrapped July 1948
9th September 1944 – Lancaster Vl JB675 MG-O Le Havre Master Bomber Army Support
10th September 1944 – Lancaster Vl JB675 MG-O Le Havre Master Bomber Army Support 1
10th September 1944 – Lancaster Vl JB675 MG-O Le Havre Master Bomber Army Support 2
Aircraft of the RAF dropped 8,200 long tons (8,300T) of high explosive bombs on the City between September 5 and September 7. Operation Astonia was the codename for the Allied effort to capture the German-held Channel port of Le Havre. Fought from 10-12 September 1944, its objective was to secure the fortress City’s harbour facilities intact to aid the Allied supply system on the Continent. However, due to extensive damage, the port was not ready for use until mid-October 1944, a partial tactical failure.
11 September 1944 – Kamen Oil Refinery and Storage – Lancaster Vl JB675 MG-O Master Bomber, Good Attack
Between Dortmund and Munster – Weather conditions were favourable and some crews were able to identify the target by landmarks. The bombing was done visually in accordance with the Master Bomber Graig’s instructions. Clouds of black smoke rising to 15,000 feet were reported and a very successful raid ensued. Opposition from slight but accurate heavy Ack Ack Fire was met from ground defences. No fighters were encountered.
12 September 1944 – Frankfurt Lancaster Vl PB454 MG-J Primary Visual Marker TI’s on A/P
14 September 1944 – Keil Lancaster Vl JB675 MG-O – Kiel Shipbuilding Yards. Primary Visual Marker – Tactics just beat the smoke screen
17 September 1944 – Boulogne Army Support Lancaster Vl JB675 MG-O Master Bomber
The decision was made to use heavy bombers to crater the field in order to provide cover, but the bombers had trouble with heavy winds in the target area and several were shot down. The Regina Rifles’ history notes that at one time 13 Halifax and Lancaster Bombers were observed to be in flames in the sky.
20 September 1944 – Calais Army Support – Area C Lancaster Vl JB675 MG-O Master Bomber
25 September 1944 – Calais Army Support Lancaster Vl JB675 MG-O Master Bomber
26 September 1944 – Calais Army Support Lancaster Vl JB675 MG-O Area C Master Bomber
27 September 1944 – Calais Army Support Lancaster Vl JB675 MG-O Master Bomber
28 September 1944 – Calais Army Support Lancaster Vl JB675 MG-O Long Stop Master Bomber – The ‘Long Stop‘ was a ‘grand’ Master Bomber‘ whose role was to monitor – in other words, they were there till the very last of the raid. The length of a raid depends on how far away it was and normally it could be anything from 5 to 20 minutes.
Long Stop: Originally this referred to yellow markers carried by the Master Bomber; it then became a PFF task in its own right. These markers would be dropped in a line to indicate a limit or boundary for the bombing area and was used effectively during the Normandy Campaign when Bomber Command was tasked in support of the Allied ground forces. These markers were dropped to ensure the bombing did not accidentally stray into areas held by Allied troops. Additionally, in many cases, these yellow markers were dropped on top of inaccurate markers to effectively cancel them.
The Lancaster Mark Vl
Nine aircraft converted from BIIIs. Fitted with Merlin 85/87 which had 2-stage superchargers, giving much improved high altitude performance. The Merlin 85/87 series engines were fitted with annular cowlings similar to the post-war Avro Lincoln and 4 bladed paddle-type propellers were fitted. Often used as a “Master Bomber” the Lancaster B VI’s allocated to RAF Bomber Command (2 being retained by Rolls Royce for installation and flight testing) had their dorsal and nose turrets removed and faired-over. The more powerful engines proved troublesome in service and were disliked by ground maintenance staff for their rough running and propensity to ‘surge and hunt‘, making synchronisation impossible. This ‘hunting’ is caused by variations in the fuel/air mixture and could over time eventually damage the engine. The BVI was withdrawn from service in November 1944 and the surviving aircraft were used by Rolls Royce, the Royal Aircraft Establishment and the Bomb Ballistics Unit (BBU) for various testing and experimental duties. As has already been said there were only a few of these aircraft built, the ones used as Master Bomber Aircraft were fitted with an airborne jammer called “carpet sweeper“, which was an adaption of the jammer “carpet”. This may be where the idea of them being EW aircraft comes from, the only external evidence of “carpet sweeper” is approximately 6 small dipole antennae on each side of the nose of the aircraft. (Airborne jammer of German Wurzburg ground radar 300-600 Megacycle band. AN/APQ-1 electronic transceiver.)
Jamming Device aimed at German GCI and AA Radars in the 500 to 600 MHz range, later it was extended to operate between 200 MHz and 1.2 GHz. Developed by the TRE the installation consisted of one TR 1621 transmitter/receiver, one type 210 indicator unit and one Type 315 or 315A ½ wave vertical aerial. The 100 MHz band was swept automatically (when the set was modified to cover the range from 200 MHz to 1.2 GHz the band was swept in 40 MHz sections) every 2.5 seconds and on receipt of a signal the sweep was stopped and noise modulated jamming was transmitted for a period of 8 minutes. At the end of the period of transmission, the search sweep started again.
Was an American development of Carpet with much higher power output. An aircraft installation consisted of 6 AN/APQ 9 transmitters (each with its own power supply), one AN/APR 4 search receiver and four AS-69 \u2018fish hook\u2019 aerials. An operator swept the 200 MHz to 1.2 GHz band and when an appropriate signal was heard, the sweep was stopped and one of the transmitters was tuned to the correct frequency and jammed. The sweep was then resumed until all 6 jammers were in action.
British modification of Carpet II with 2 AN/APQ 9 transmitters slaved to a Type 1674a receiver. Automatic in action like Carpet and significantly lighter than Carpet II, was fitted as standard to Avro Manchester\u2019s from May 1942 onwards.
Designed to operate against both decimetric and centimetric AA radar; consisted of one TR1667 transmitter/receiver, one TR1882 transmitter/receiver and one Type 212 indicator unit, aerials were Type 500 series. Was standard fitting on all Main Force Bomber Command aircraft by the end of the war.
American modification of Carpet II to operate against both decimetric and centimetric Radars. An aircraft installation consisted of six AN/APQ 19 transmitters (each with its own power supply), one AN/APR 7 search receiver and 6 x AS-69 \u2018fish hook\u2019 aerial arrays. An operator swept the 200 MHz to 4 GHz band and when an appropriate signal was heard, the sweep was stopped and one of the transmitters was tuned to the correct frequency and jammed. The sweep was then resumed until all 6 Jammers were in action.