Sunday, 7 February 2010

153 Sqn. Feb 7th 1945 - Kleeve

Late over target

These posts follow 153 Sqn operations from Jan '45 to the end of hostilities in real time.

An attack on the small town of Kleeve, designed to clear the way forward for troops of the 15th (Scottish) Division of XXX Corps in their push to the Rhine, took place on 7th February. Because of the need for precise visual bombing, the master-bomber ordered the force to drop below the cloud base, which was under 5,000 feet. At this remarkably low altitude, crews were able to see the opposing armies artillery fire; the aerial flares combined with the reflected light from ground explosions off the cloud base, presented an extraordinary sight, which was recorded for posterity by Richard Dimbleby - then a respected war correspondent - who was flying in NG 184 (P4-U) piloted by S/Ldr John Gee. His graphic account of the operation appears, in full (on pages 159/163) in John Gee's book 'Wingspan', which also relates the difficulties of fitting the bulky Dimbleby, his recording engineer, and all the extra equipment, into 'U'.

A tailpiece to the above. This was the 16th (and final) operational flight made by Richard Dimbleby. Thereafter he was attached to the staff of Field Marshall Montgomery to report on terrestrial advances.

Ironically, the complete devastation of Kleeve created so many barriers to progress for XXX Corps, that their advance was severely hindered.

All aircraft returned safely

Home safe

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