153 Sqn. Feb 28th 1945 - Neuss
These posts follow 153 Sqn operations from Jan '45 to the end of hostilities in real time.
The last day of February saw 15 aircraft set off in atrocious weather for a daylight attack on Neuss. They were recalled before reaching their target, and had to land (with all bombs aboard) in the same unfriendly conditions. Because they had not crossed the Mandrell screen, despite the distance flown, this sortie did not count as an operation.
In the first six months of 1944, unlike the USAAF, RAF Bomber Command's offensive was struggling against the renewed German efforts to outsmart the British in the technological war. Bomber Command introduced 'Window', known to the Germans as 'Düppel', consisting of small aluminium strips would be dropped by formations to blanket German radar and make it difficult for the defences to pick out the real position of the raiders. The German's introduced the Wilde Sau tactics, in which roving single-engine fighter aircraft would attack formations alone. The tactics had limited success. To combat these new German tactics, Bomber Command shortened its attacks over the target by five minutes to reduce chances of interception. This was followed by spoof routes, used to feint the routes of attacks. Later the use of "Mandrel" airborne jamming screens were used to send the enemy into the wrong area and deny the German fighters the chance of reaching the target bomber stream in sufficient strength.
landing with bombs on board is not something the aircraft were designed to do. The weight of bombs increased the speed of the aircraft on approach and significantly reduced maneuverability. These factors, added to the possibility of bombs releasing and detonating accidentally on landing, especially if an aircraft made a last minute forced landing, would have weighed heavily on the crews mind.
If an aircraft was returning damaged or with a malfunction which would impede or complicate landing, then bombs on board could be jettisoned while at sea if permission was granted, or if necessary at the pilots discretion.