Low level At Sea
Continuing the story of my late Dad's Lancaster Squadron From Jan 45 to the end of hostilities in May.
For the crews of 153 Squadron, targets were now proving elusive as the allied armies pushed ever onwards into German territory. On many days the squadron was stood down, occupying the time by continuing with low level flying practice and map reading, honing the various skills and reflexes needed to perform this safely for long periods at a time. So it was a relief of sorts to be returned to 'normality' when ordered to attack the island of Heligoland on 18th April.
A Near Miss
By 'borrowing' an aircraft from 625 Squadron, 153 Squadron was able to dispatch 19 crews to join almost 1000 aircraft attacking the naval base, airfield and town. This included 5 crews undertaking their first operation, 2 (F/Os Sinnema and Tobin) completing their tours, and W/Co Reddick (from HQ 1 Group) making a 'guest' appearance with the crew of F/O Red Penman. The 'payload' for each aircraft was an unprecedented 14,000lbs weight of high explosive bombs. The operation itself proved to be little more than a training exercise. Perfect weather meant clear skies all the way and the target was visible from 30 miles out. The attack was intense, accurate and lethal. Slight defensive flak soon stopped as the targets were overcome. The bomber stream was supported by Spitfires and Mustangs which were superfluous in the event.
It would probably have been some comfort to the men of 153 Squadron to be striking back at an airfield and naval base which was heavily involved in the defense of the Kattegat area and therefore potentially responsible for some of the difficult times and heavy losses the crews had experienced over the previous weeks on gardening missions
Rear Gunner Position
S/Ldr J C Day and his crew joined the squadron on 18th April to replace S/Ldr John Gee as Commander, 'B' flight when he was posted out of the squadron on the loss of his crew.
For the story behind this click here