Posts

Showing posts from February, 2010

153 Sqn. Feb 28th 1945 - Neuss

Image
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.

Mandrell

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 woul…

Ruler of All I Survey............

Hullo ma wee blog,

I'm here at the kitchen table, coffee in hand, having dropped off the lovely G at Dunbar station for her usual morning train. Instead of heading off to work as normal though, she is heading on out to the airport for a weekend at her aunts house in Switzerland as her aunt is currently laid up after an operation to her foot. This means I have the weekend to myself and I am therefore ' master of my own destiny' for a couple of days.

So after coffee and breakfast I will be heading off across country to Irvine and my solicitor brother to help him with some important research. There has been a small micro brewery opened up near him and its critical that they get some product testing done and some feedback on the quality of their merchandise.

Tough job but someone's got to do it.

see you later.

Listening to Suzanne Vega 'My name is Luca'

153 Sqn. Feb 23rd 1945 - Pforzheim

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


Unfortunately for Pforzheim, a town on the northern edge of the Black Forest, the 23rd February was a clear night when it received its sole Bomber Command raid. Despite some nightfighter activity, the attack went in at 8,000 feet, resulting in devastatingly accurate bombing; the rail yard was totally destroyed, as was some 80% of the town's built-up area.

The paragraph above is how 153 Sqn records the raid on Pforzheim.

The following paragraph is how Bomber command recorded it.

The total raid was conducted by 367 Lancasters and 13 Mosquitos of Nos 1, 6 and 8 Groups and a Film Unit Lancaster carried out the first, and only, area-bombing raid of the war on Pforzheim. 10 Lancasters were lost and 2 more crashed in France. The marking and bombing, from only 8,000 ft, were particularly accurate and damage of a most severe nature was inflicted on Pforzheim. 1,825 tons of bombs were it dropped in 2…

High Flight.

Image
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter silvered wings,
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun split clouds - and done a hundred things you
Have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung,
High in the sunlit silence, hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air,
Up, up the long delirious blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark nor even eagle flew,
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod,
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

written September 1941
by John Gillespie Magee Jr
19 year old pilot officer, Royal Canadian Air Force
died 11 December 1941.

Write, right?..............

Image
Hullo ma wee blog,

When I started blogging, like most of us I suppose, I was looking for an outlet, a means of getting something out there. At the time I had just had huge upheaval in my life as Dad had recently died after the most intense 18 months of effort and emotion that my brother, G and I had ever expended to keep him independent but safe and supported as his health visibly declined. Then, to top that all off, two weeks later I was made redundant, out of the blue and in what I was later able to prove was an unfair manner. This in turn led me to a battle with my employer, initially forcing them to delay redundancy for almost two months after most of my colleagues had bitten the dust and then on through an unfair redundancy claim and legal battle on the road to an industrial tribunal.

Oh, and I was looking for a job.

At the time I started blogging I needed something to give me a release from the pressure I was feeling, a diversion away from the problems and a way of expressing mysel…

Beautiful She sleeps.........

Image
Hullo ma wee blog,


I stretch slowly as my eyes open, enjoying the feel as muscle slowly tightens to push nights sleep away. Dawn is come and the lovely G is warm beside me. Beautiful she sleeps, her face is perfect peace. Hair, tousled and spread around her, billows softly across jaw and pillow. Beneath, closed eyes stretch long lashes down to kiss her cheek. I gaze in awe at a face so comfortingly familiar yet so exciting and can't resist the urge to reach and push a stray hair from her face. Still sleeping, she frowns and her expression turns soft pout, the gentlest of breathy whimpers crosses her dreaming lips. A hand comes up to touch her nose and, drained of energy, is left beside her face. She shrugs covers closer around her, her other hand touches mine and clasps me instinctively. Connected, I lay perfectly still, watching and content. Smiling, as beautiful, she sleeps.

see you later

A Cinema Sunday.............

Hullo ma wee blog,

Today we took off for Edinburgh to make best use of our 'unlimited' monthly tickets for cineworld. We enjoyed a couple of marvellous films and a decent wee lunch in between! All things said, its been a good day.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend either of these movies to you. Both are a feast for the eyes, ears and heart. Both are brilliantly cast, superbly written and directed and credibly performed. Both are a couple of hours that pass in a flash.

Invictus tells of Nelson Mandelas use of The Springbok national rugby team to unite South Africa in overcoming the stranglehold of entrenched attitudes left by apartheid and in establishing South Africas international credentials. A great depiction of the ideal of politics.

The Last Station covers the last year of Tolstoys life and the tangled threads of love, greed and politics.



See you later.

Listening to Duffy 'Warwick Avenue'

153 Sqn. 20th and 21st Feb 1945 - Dortmund/Duisburg

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

The raids against Dortmund (20th Feb) and Duisburg (21st Feb) were linked in that for each it was their final major Bomber Command attack. Because of adverse weather, specific targets at Dortmund were not identifiable, and results were inconclusive. However, nightfighters were very active: among those shot down was NN 785 (P4-2ndD) on only its second operation, which crash-landed at Stefansbogge, near Hasslinghausen, some 10 miles south-west of Dortmund. Four Canadians, including F/Lt Holman the pilot, his navigator, bomb-aimer and rear gunner, survived to become POW's. Four others (three of them RAFVR, including a second pilot, P/O Peter Thorne, whose name appears nowhere else in squadron records) were killed.


Airborne 2125 20Feb45. Cause of loss not established. Crashed at Stefansbogge. Those killed were taken to the Hauptfriedhof at Dortmund. They have been subsequently re-interred i…

An anniversary

Image
Gadgirth Brig by Phil Williams {creative commons licence}

Hullo Dad,

It's a year today since you died. I miss you so much, you old bugger! It really hurts sometimes you know? But I know I'm being selfish when I say that. I know that it was your time, you were desperately tired and there was no way back. I'm really glad you waited for us to be there. I was so far away when Mum died and that was hard to take. I'm glad too that Gordon changed his plans and got to the hospital and that he grabbed Adam and brought him with him. Although you were heavily sedated you were able to open an eye when Gordon said we were there and your breathing changed when I stroked your head. You could only stay a moment or two but I'll always hold them close. At the end it was all the Robertson boys together. I know you would have loved that.

You know, Gordon and I worried so much about you and Mum. You were so frail compared to her and we worried how we would cope with her blindness if anyth…

The Silence Of The Drams........

Image
Greenan Castle, Ayr.

Hullo ma wee blog,

It seems I've been abandoned to a rare night of solitude with the lovely G being off to see The Noisettes in concert in Edinburghs fair toon with a bunch of colleagues from work. I was given the chance to go but don't really fancy them for some reason. {taste probably}

So here I am all alone in Robertson Towers, the servants have the night off and the drawbridge is set to auto for when the lovely G's carriage approaches. { I hope she makes it before midnight, that whole pumpkin and mouse things is so frightfully passe don't you think.....} Night is drawing near with cold promise on her lips and may arrive bedecked with coat tails of softest white {according to the BBC weather report that is.}

I have set some logs upon the fire and descended to the kitchen in the bowels of chez nous to rustle up some notably creative dish suitable for a man with a taste for fine wine and time to spare in the making. A solitary dinner awaits. I have a…

A photo for Kat

Image
Hullo ma wee blog,

A challenge from one of the blogs I follow to post a favourite photo of spring or summer. This one Loch Leven looking towards Ballachulish with the Pap of Glencoe on the left. A favourite spot. {Ballachulish. Gaelic - town on the narrows, pronounced Baal a hoolish}

For you Kat, with my compliments.

and a wee song to go along with it.....




see you later

Parcels In The Post

Image
hullo ma wee blog,

Its was a busy day the other day for the local postie as he had to lug two books and a nice parcel of photographs to the door. It made a nice change from bills anyway, looking from this side of the doorstep.

In search of more, and particularly relevant info on 153 Squadron, I had found and ordered a couple of books off the internet; 'Wingspan' by 153 Squadron leader JW Gee and 'Nothing heard since takeoff - The story of a 153 Squadron Lancaster crew' by Ronald Hayne. the story of a plane and crew lost over occupied Slovakia. The last a particularly poignant story for me as one of the men lost was from Dalmellington, a small Ayrshire village near where I was brought up and where I spent 20 years playing in the village band. But made more poignant as he was a member of 137 {Ayr} Sqn Air Training Corps, which he and Dad served in at the same time and so would have known each other well. {I also joined 137 Sqn ATC many years later and was involved for some…

Fear. Reflected..

Image
As I become more and more engrossed in researching the 153 Squadron posts covering Dads last few months of WWII  I come upon the stark reality of  loss of life. I'm trying to understand how these men managed to come to terms with the fear that must have been part and parcel of daily life then. To be honest, living as I do in an age where danger isn't part of my existence, I've been struggling to understand how anyone could cope with having to face prolonged fear, and I mean fear, not the anxiety that's the closest I can find to relate to it from my place down the years, cloaked in modern comforts and affectations, protected by nurture, education and lack of experience.

I'll never forget the first time I walked right up to the end of a Lancaster, past the twin dorsal fins and with Dads rear gun turret coming properly into view. I remember that frisson of boyish excitement, the pull of an adults curiosity and a very acute personal sense of sadness and regret that I …

Dear Tech Support...............

Image
Hullo ma wee blog,

I have been thinking of making changes to my operating system so I contacted our wonderful Technical Support people to see if they could do anything to help me. They gave me some invaluable information which has helped inform my choices. This is probably more critical information for some of you out there rather than others but I thought I would share with you all just in case.

Here's the information I gave them which describes the issues I have been experiencing for some time.

DEAR TECH SUPPORT.

I have been using your system for several years now and find that I am experiencing some difficulties which I hope you can support with a resolution.

I originally installed Girlfriend 1.0 and over time I successfully upgraded through versions 2.0 to 7.0. I then installed Fiance 1.0 and after a fairly short and trouble free period I installed the optional Wife 1.0 upgrade to this system. Its at this point that things slowly began to go wrong.

I found that Wife 1.0 began…

153 Squadron, 14th February 1945 - Chemnitz/Gardening

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

The following night after Dresden, 14th February, the squadron supplied 9 aircraft to join a raid of 797 aircraft on the city of Chemnitz, again deep in eastern Germany and not far from Dresden, which received its first major Bomber Command attack, but due to extensive cloud cover, allowing the use of sky-marking techniques only, bombing proved mainly scattered and ineffective with the bombs falling predominantly on open countryside. The group left Scampton at 2000hrs and included 5 crews who had returned from the Dresden raid only 13 hrs previously. These crews recorded some 19 hours operational flying in just 32 hours and must have been both physically and mentally exhausted to have spent so much time under the strain of combat conditions.

The Squadron suffered another loss when NN 803 (P4-2ndO) crashed over East Germany, whilst on its first operation - in fact, it had recorded only 64 hour…

This one goes out to the one I love..........

Hullo ma wee wife,

My darling, wonderful, lovely G.

This is for you.

It's exactly where I am.

Sonnet 29.

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

I love you forever and four weeks.

Happy Valentines Day....

Alistair.

153 Sqn. Feb 13th 1945 - Dresden

Image
Dads Crew - Dad bottom right.

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

On 13th February, 15 aircraft of 153 sqn were sent to attack Dresden. Departure time was 2100 and after climbing clear of the airfield they made for the bomber stream collection point and on out over the coast at beachy head. Although afterwards it became the subject of considerable and continuing debate due to the enormous damage, high civilian casualty rate and that the end of war in Europe was in sight, as far as the crews were concerned this was just another attack in aid of the Russian armies, on which (because of the distance involved), only a comparatively small bomb load could be carried. Thus each crew took 1 x 2,000lb bomb plus 1,800 incendiaries. In clear weather and aided by gale force westerly winds, it took just over four hours to reach and bomb the target. There could be no argument over the effectiveness of the attack - a massive firestorm (more…

The Delicate Sound Of Thunder..........

Or....A short afternoon rant on the telephone..........

Hullo ma wee blog,


While I was busily typing away at the last attempt at a post the telephone rang. It was the lovely G giving me my usual how are you getting on call and checking through some of the day to day stuff that we all deal with; shopping to do, finances, what's going on in each others day - and had I had a hair cut yet. We are off out tonight for a birthday meal with a couple of friends, M and J - M my lorry driving pal with the broken leg and they of the new years blackout post. J and the lovely G travel together by train every day to work in different parts of our fair capital, have found much in common, from a distinctly odd sense of humour to a shared love of a glass or two of wine on the train home on a friday after work to de-stress them after a hard week. {that's their joint excuse anyway}

Before the call ended the lovely G asked me to give one of our credit card companies a call as she had gone online …

Sorry to bang on about this again......

But I,m going to. {and I'm not THAT sorry really}

Hullo ma wee blog,

This is a video clip from Channel 4 news where one of our Scots MP's is interviewed on air about the fact that police are investigating possible fraudulent expense claims.

{ Having some recent personal experience of 'fraudulent' expense claims, it kind of grabs my interest}

Jim Devin is a former psychiatric nurse and election agent for MP Robin Cook until his sudden death in 2005, after which he took over the seat

THE CHARGES:

July 2008 - April 2009: Allegedly dishonestly claimed £3,240 for cleaning services using false invoices
March 2009 - Allegedly dishonestly claimed £5,505 for stationery using false invoices

He has been barred by Labour from standing again in connection with other expense claims not connected to these charges, which cannot be reported for legal reasons.

What really grabs me here is the missed point from both parties that 'if' there is the ability to move money from one budget to …

Stick to Embroidery......

Hullo ma wee blog,

I'd like to disrespectfully dedicate this to the lady who nearly took the front of the car off yesterday when she pulled in on me far too bloomin' early because she had pulled into the fast lane to overtake without indicating, checking her mirror or realising the car behind was going so much faster than she was and then panicked.

Please learn how big your nice, shiny 4x4 actually is BEFORE coming out on the road!

or,

For Pity's Sake - Don't Drive.....

Nuff said.

see you later....

listening to Talk Talk 'It's my life'

153 Sqn. 8th Feb 1945 - Politz

Image
How not to impress the CO....

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

From Dads squadrons base at Scampton on the 8th February, 15 aircraft were sent to Politz - a small town north-east of Berlin, on the German/Lithuanian border, midway between Stettin (aka Szezcin) and the Baltic sea - which housed a synthetic oil plant; it was also within 30 miles of the advancing Russian forces. Taking off into a cloud base of only 600 feet, the force flew through continuous cloud and atrocious weather until east of Denmark - a nerve-wrecking 2 hour experience. Fortunately, clear skies over the target assisted by a relatively low (i.e.14,000 feet) dropping height enabled a very accurate attack to be mounted; no further supply of oil was produced by Politz.

Naughtily, the homeward flight was routed over neutral Sweden. The Swedes fired A/A but, as noted by P/O Tom Tobin "they aimed to miss by miles."

All aircraft returne…