156 Squadron Post War Activities
12th June 1945 Operation ‘Cooks Tour’ Lancaster GT-H
Known as “Cooks Tours” out of reverence for forgotten holiday’s abroad, the opportunity was taken up by many ground crew who wished to experience flying, many of whom had never flown before, but more importantly allowed many of those who had served in support of the Command’s aircrew to see for the 1st time the damage which had been inflicted upon the targets; to which to many had never been known of or had been merely names on a map or spoken of during a conversation
12th July 1945 Liberty Operation Flensburg Lancaster GT-A
During WW2 the Flensburg airport was used by the British RAF as Advanced Landing Ground B-166 Flensburg. From D-Day until the end of WW2 Continental airfields were identified by a letter prefix and code number:-
A = American
B = British – B.166 Flensburg/Schaferhaus 5446N 0923E
R = American airfields in Germany
Y = American and French occupied by troops advancing through Southern France.
15 Sep 1945 – A formation of some 300 aircraft flies over London in the 1st Battle of Britain Anniversary Flypast. The formation was led by 247 Squadron in their new Vampire fighters, the 1st time the public had seen the aircraft. This flypast was apparently led by Douglas Bader
27th September 1945 Lancaster 156 Sqdn GT-E (6.30) to Berlin – Operation Spasm
Operation ‘Spasm’ was run by Bomber Command out of RAF Mildenhall in late ’45, as some kind of sightseeing tour over Berlin. There doesn’t seem to be much recorded information on the operation. These were not tours for the general public- they were run to allow ‘ground personnel’ and others to see the damage that had been inflicted on Germany 1st hand. Three aircraft, one of which was piloted by the Squadron Commander, W/C AJL Craig DSO, DFC, flew to Gatow Airfield, GT-E carrying 13 service personnel including A/Cm Bottomley and S/L Burrel who were all permitted to stay in Berlin overnight and return the next day.
In May, the Gatow Airfield was overrun by the Red Army, who handed it over to the British Army on 2nd July 1945. Initially, Gatow was called Intermediate Landing Place No. 19, but on 19th August 1945 was renamed Royal Air Force Station Gatow, or RAF Gatow for short. RAF Gatow was on the edge of the West-Berlin zone. In fact, its closest neighbour was an East German National Peoples Army (german: Nationale Volks Armee, or NVA) Tank Battalion. The later Berlin Wall formed the western boundary of the airfield, which at the airfield was not a wall, but a wire fence. Officially this was a military courtesy of the East German Army to the RAF (which obviously no-one believed). After the Reunification in 1990 it was found out that the wire fence was indeed part of an existing attack plan to capture the airfield (Operation Centre) during the 1st hour of an attack.
RAF Station Gatow became the airfield for the British sector of Berlin, and the base for the only known operational use of flying boats in central Europe. During the Berlin airlift, Short flying boats were flying out of Lake Wannsee, operating from the Deutsch-Britischer Yacht Club in Gatow. Having been built for operations from seawater, they were the planes of choice to carry much needed supplies of salt to the besieged city. The airlift made Gatow a major airfield, the 1st transport aircraft of the airlift landed at Gatow on 28 June 1948. Gatow also played a major role in civilian air traffic, with BEA serving Berlin from 1946 until Tempelhof opened as the civilian airport in 1950.
35 Squadron Post War – Rank – Fl/Lt
RAF 35 Sqdn Graveley 15th May 1945 to 17th September 1946 PFF (Service Record).
In WW II the squadron’s Lancaster’s were coded “TL-“.
RAF Graveley had a standard Bomber Command layout with living quarters in a dispersed site away from the main airfield. Hut’s occupants. Residents were rather transient and many did not stay long. It was very sad to see the adjutant emptying the lockers of those who would never return. The huts at Graveley were of the wood and asbestos variety like those now used for battery chickens [Laing Huts]. They were “heated” by a stove (red-hot in the middle and freezing in the corners). They were nevertheless far better than nissen huts. Each held about 16 or so aircrew and last to arrive was assigned a bed in one of the arctic corners (as was the usual routine). As the losses mounted one graduated to beds nearer the centre, until in the end they had a bed with their feet towards the stove (very cosy). So warm indeed that when some tried to dry the ink of a log book it became badly singed which got me into trouble with the CO who had to sign it every month”
27th March 1946 – Operation ‘Jink’ – RAF Pomigliano Airfield (Nr Naples)
Lancaster TW869 TL-G (4.05?) (Jink and Dodge are clearly associated Ops)
One of the earlier operations Craig and his squadron were involved in was ‘Operation Dodge‘ in which large numbers of Lancasters were flown to Italy in the 2nd half of 1945 to help in the repatriation of soldiers of the 8th Army, some of whom had been away from home for 5 or 6 years, fighting in North Africa and Italy. One of the pick-up airfields was RAF Pomigliano, near Naples, and one of the attractions was a sight-seeing trip to Pompeii in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, which had erupted the previous year (1944), its last major eruption.
1n 1946 Pomigliano near Naples and close to Vesuvius was a Staging Post, handling mainly freight carried usually in Dakota’s. In this activity there were loading squads (German P.O.W’s) and there was an Air Freight Section/ Depot. There was some Mosquito’s based there and the crew members were officers and they sometimes flew to the UK. Personnel were changing all the time as demob dates became due. Pomigliano, it was a good unit and they lived well. There were no ships available to get Army troops home, so the powers that be ordered several squadrons of RAF Lancaster 4-engined bombers stripped of armament to bring them home 20 to each plane.
293 Sqdn (27 Jun 1945 – 5 Apr 1946)
No 1 Lancaster Servicing Unit (15 Jul 1945 – 15 Feb 1946)
No 111 Repair & Salvage Unit (24 Jul 1945 – 25 Feb 1946)
Pomigliano near Naples, with Mount Vesuvius on the landing circuit, which looked quite menacing – as at that time clouds of smoke were still being given out after the major eruption in 1944. The day after the landing was considered a rest day and was spent visiting the ruins of Pompeii, which at the time was considered a great experience and not to be missed. A matter of interest to the modern traveller – the trip out was 14-15 hours – much different to today’s travel by jet liner.