Thursday, 18 March 2010

153 Sqn. 17th/18th March 1945 - Nuremburg/Hannau

My Dad, who died last year, spent his WWII active service as a tail gunner in RAF Bomber Command flying in Lancasters in 153 squadron. These posts follow Sqn operations from Jan '45 to the end of hostilities in real time.

For the what would turn out to be the last heavy bomber raid against Nuremberg on March 17th, the Squadron was able to contribute 10 aircraft. Extensive low cloud cover extended for much of the route, but this cleared at the target, allowing an extremely devastating attack to develop resulting in major fires in the Steinbuhl district and the complete obliteration of the city's gasworks. Conditions favoured the defenders and German night-fighters found the bomber stream on its way to the target, and shot down 24 Lancasters (10.4% of the total No1 Bomber Group force) including PB 642(P4-W) which had been grounded just before takeoff on the previous mission due to engine failure, being flown by P/O Peter Parsons and crew on their first operation. Total Lancasters lost that nights two raids was 31.

Airborne 1720 16 Mar '45 from Scampton. All are buried in the Durnbach War Cemetery. Their average age was twenty-two. P/O P.J.Parsons KIA F/S J.K.Finlayson KIA Sgt S.D.Wager KIA Sgt A.R.Quinton KIA F/S M.Swap KIA Sgt E.Finch KIA Sgt W.S.Keenleyside KIA "

Nuremberg was a showpiece creation of the Nazi regime and therefore heavily defended. As a result during the raid, as usual at this target, flak was intense and heavy.


On the run-up to the target, Sgt Dave Broughton, F/Eng in NK 556(P4-3rdJ) was seated on the de-icing tank in the nose step dispensing 'window' whilst the Bomb-aimer was doing his job, when the skipper, F/O Joe Sharp announced that the S/O engine was on fire. Dave returned to his seat to find that although the engine instruments showed no indication of trouble, flames reached back to the tail plane. He feathered the engine and, since the flame gradually diminished, he did not activate the extinguisher which would have rendered the engine inoperable until after repair. (thereby preserving the engine for possible restart). Once the bombs were dropped on target they set course for base, but worryingly, considering the fierce activity of night fighters on route to target, constantly lost ground on the mainstream whilst Dave watched his dials and balanced the fuel tanks. On landing gratefully back at Scampton it was found that a number of incendiaries had landed on them, one of which had lodged next to the starboard outer engine self-sealing oil tank, luckily missing all fuel lines and controls but burning several holes through the bottom cowling. The engine was undamaged!

An incredibly lucky escape......

On March 18th, Hannau was attacked at the unusual hour of 4.30am, leaving the main industrial area ablaze. It was a textbook operation with no losses or exceptional circumstances reported.


Unknown said...

As always, I find these posts interesting. I love the old planes and am fascinated with what it took to keep them in the air. The names and dates just make it all more real.

Anonymous said...

My great uncle Peter was the pilot of the 153 squadron which went down. We know very little about him and posts like this are a great help!

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