Posts

Showing posts from April, 2010

Wee Worries .......

Image
When I'm falling asleep..........
Hullo ma wee blog,

Thoughts in the night.......

If a dog broke a mirror, would it get 49 years bad luck?


Jings!

see you later....

Through These Portals Go The Bravest Of Men.....

Image
Plaque to 153 Sqdn. Scampton Church.
Hullo ma wee blog,

I'm not sure where this is going to go so you'll have to bear with me on this one. It may be a bit of a ramble. The title will have to come later.

When I started blogging about 153 Squadron I did so, not quite on the spur of the moment, but also not in a properly planned and organised way either. As I said in the first of those posts - and I can't believe there have been forty three since January - I was inspired by the way a fellow blogger, in the run up to remembrance day, had followed a relative across months of WWI experience using family letters. It was personal, but it also drew you into the timeline. I felt I too was almost waiting for the next letter, and found myself worrying, as if personally connected, looking forward to a bit of good news which tragically didn't come. I thought that if I could find enough information that perhaps something similar might evolve here. I didn't know much of Dad's…

On this day in history..........

Image
Inchcolm Abbey.
What an interesting day in history today was:

1124 - David I becomes King of Scotland - Alexander I, king of Scotland (1107-24), dies

1296 - Battle of Dunbar: The Scots are defeated by Edward I of England.

1646 - King Charles I flees Oxford

1650 - The Battle of Carbisdale: A Royalist army under Montrose invades mainland Scotland from Orkney Island but is defeated by a Covenanter army.

1749 - First performance of Handel's Fireworks Music in Green Park, London.

1773 - British Parliament passes Tea Act - ultimately leading to 'The Boston Tea Party'

1940 - Himmler orders establishment of Auschwitz Concentration Camp

1945 - World War II: The Völkischer Beobachter, the newspaper of the Nazi Party, ceases publication.

1950 - South Africa passes Group Areas Act segregating races {Apartheid}

1989 - Beijing students take over Tiananmen Square in China

1992 - Betty Boothroyd becomes the first woman to be elected Speaker of the British House of Commons in its 700-year…

153 squadron 25th April 1945 - This Time It's Personal

Image
Berghof Under attack
Continuing the story of my late Dad's Lancaster Squadron from Jan 1945 to the end of hostilities in May

On the 25th April (the day that the Russian and American armies met on the River Elbe) at the distinctly unsociable hour of 2.30 am, 153 Sqn crews were briefed to attack  Hitler's personal Alpine hideout, 'The Berghof ' including the nearby "Eagles Nest" -  both  houses located in a mountain complex at Berchtesgarden in southern Germany. The object was two-fold; to serve notice to the so-called 'Werewolf' movement that they would be ill-advised to try and create a southern stronghold dedicated to further resistance; and hopefully to catch the elusive Fuhrer at home. The news that the target had potential to be Hitler and some of his key party henchmen raised much determination and excitement. Finally the crews had a target with a face.
 This time, it was personal.
Berchtesgaden is located in the German Bavarian Alps, in the sou…

I hate the flu..........

Image
Hullo ma wee blog,

My razor-shredded throat wrenches yet another lung-destroying cough from a windpipe made of sandpaper raw flesh. My nostrils, stuffed full of tightly packed mucous laced with shards of glass, force pressure jets of pain back along my sinus to ears blocked with clay,  reverberating with every agonising whisper yet resistant to any attempt by external sounds to enter. My head is being beaten mercilessly by a Brazilian samba ensemble on speed and the drummer from Spear Of Destiny's nastier, but more rythmic, big brother. They seem to have been locked in competition inside my head for days. I force open eyelashes stuck with tapioca and let in blinding light to eviscerate my retinas with lightning bolts.

 Still alive then.

 I groan, in manly, near silent agony, shielding the worries from my nearest and dearest, who gather round in a candle-lit vigil, singing hymns, praying for the soul not yet departed. I heroically leave my deathbed propped on legs of straw and hea…

153 Sqn. 22nd April 1945 - Bremen

Image
20,000ft.
Continuing the story of my late Dad's Lancaster Squadron From Jan 45 to the end of hostilities in May.
By now allied forces were sweeping through Germany and it was clear that at last the end of the Nazi regime was in sight. There were still large numbers of German forces engaged in fighting a desperate defense of an ever decreasing homeland, as well as  the remains of the German army occupying a large part of north Holland,  including Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and other major cities, isolated as British and American forces outflanked them to strike into Germany itself. Years of Bomber Command and USAAF attacks had laid waste to rail and road infrastructures hindering movement of defending troops and preventing, where possible, consolidation of opposing forces in any coherent way. In the east, large numbers of civilians were evacuating themselves westward, alongside retreating forces, in an attempt to avoid the feared Russian Army,  to stay within German protection,…

Bye Bye Betty.............

Image
Hullo ma wee blog,

Do you know how, as a child,  sometimes you meet an adult someone in your life, a family friend, Mum or Dad of a pal, could be almost anyone really, but that someone, in some infinitely indescribable way makes a connection with you that up until then no other adult has. It's not a connection like you have with parents or aunts and uncles, it's not a connection like you make with teachers. It's not a physical attraction of male to female or anything like that.  It's a connection that makes you realise that for the first time someone is seeing you as you - as a person in your own right.

{sorry I don't think I'm describing this very well}

It's someone that doesn't relate to you by the connections you have to them but relates to the inner you and at the same time makes you realise that for the first time you are doing that too. Later in life of course it just happens, becomes the norm and isn't seen for the incredible thing it is, b…

153 Sqn. 18th April 1945 - Heligoland

Image
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. Th…

Sorry - it's political debate?

Hullo ma wee blog,

I haven't watched all of last nights 'world premier' party leader televised exchange of tormenting remarks - sorry -  debate  which I recorded last night. What little I did see struck me as too stage managed, too restrictive on an audience unable to clap, comment or respond in any way except to behave like weans and 'speak when spoken to'

How frightfully British and well behaved.

Sound editing too managed no doubt to silence the wailing of souls, gnashing of teeth and the torment of tongues firmly stapled to the roof of the mouth as we endured this national phenomenon.

Except of course, it wasn't. A national phenomena, that is.

What none of the three leading parties saw fit to remind us up here north of the border was that much of what was discussed in this debate about domestic affairs is that much of the content related only to England and Wales as we have devolved powers protected by The Scotland Act which leaves us firmly in control of …

Lothians Volcanic Sunset

Image
Hullo ma wee blog,

With all airports in the UK closed today due to a cloud of ash from the Icelandic volcano with an unpronounceable name, weather punters were telling us all to look to the sky tonight for a potentially dramatic sunset. So camera in hand I set of to document this predicted masterpiece and took the following photo's.












I hope you like them......

Listening to Pink Floyd  'A Great Day for Freedom'

153 Sqn. 14th April 1945 - Berlin.

Image
A Tail End Charlie Gets into Position


Continuing the story of my late Dad's Lancaster Squadron From Jan 45 to the end of hostilities in May.

The 13 crews attending briefing on 14th April could be excused their excitement on realising their target was to be Berlin. It mattered not that they would actually attack Potsdam - a pleasant suburb of the German capital - Berlin would appear in their logbooks. In fact, this was the first time since March 1944 that 4-engined Bomber Command aircraft would enter the Berlin defence zone. It was also the last - Russian troops would be fighting in the city's eastern approaches on 18th April and would completely encircle it by the 25th.

Clear skies east of the Rhine ensured ready identification of the target - nominally barracks and railway yards - and aided by accurate Pathfinder marking, combined with the absence of night-fighters or serious flak, bombing proved devastating. However, some crews could not resist the understandable temptation…

153 Squadron 13th April 1945 - Low Level Flying

Image
The whole squadron was intrigued by being ordered up on 13th April to practice low level flying and map-reading skills.

 No crew needed second bidding to comply, and great fun ensued belting around  - sometimes at the official height of 400 feet - but frequently very much lower. Some crews reportedly even flying under power lines.

 Dad recalled being terrified flying over lakes at full pelt having become more and more anxious as the Lanc got ever lower and lower, seeing the world streaming past his eyes at breakneck speed from the rear turret until his nerves made him snap at the pilot over the intercom that,

"if  you go any bloody lower I'll  have my bloody feet in the bloody water!"

He had of course already survived one crash landing and endured a painful spell in hospital recovering from injuries. { and when he told the story he didn't use the word bloody!}

Despite some speculation over the purpose of this practice, no official announcement or explanation was fo…

153 Sqn. 9th/ 10th April 1945 - Keil/Plauen

Image
Continuing the story of my late Dad's Lancaster Squadron From Jan 45 to the end of hostilities in May. For info, the story starts here


For 153 Sqn at Scampton, April 9th saw the arrival of Wing Commander Guy F Rodney, DFC, AFC to take over command of the squadron as replacement after the tragic loss of Wing-Co Powley. He had already completed two operational tours on bombers. Like his predecessor, he was a Canadian holding a regular commission in the RAF. One of his first tasks was to conduct a briefing of 17 crews (8 flying on their first operation) for an attack on Kiel that same night.

Kiel naval base faced the Baltic Sea. It housed three major shipyards as well as the Deutsche-Werk U- boat construction complex. With deep-water channels and easy access to the North Sea via the Kiel canal, it represented the last bastion of German naval power. Conditions favoured the attackers - clear visibility enabled positive identification of both the primary and secondary target areas, ena…

Icons of the Air............

Image
The Avro Lancaster

The Lancaster is one of the icons of British aviation. Along with the Spitfire and possibly the Hurricane, it's known to every boy of my generation and the one before at the very least. It's burned into the consciousness of the nation as one of the key aircraft of the second world war.  Like the Spitfire, with whom it shares it's power supply, just the sound of it's Rolls-Royce Merlin engines even now, sixty five years after the end of the war, can bring tears of nostalgia and evoke sentimental lumps in the throats of grown men.

Don't believe me?

Then go to any airshow where the Battle Of Britain Memorial flight makes an appearance and take a look at the reaction of the crowds. Their status is burned in the national psyche and the history of WWII, their names synonymous with courage and fighting spirit in the air.

And it's not just old airmen who react that way.  It's a  {certainly now declining}  number of people who remember those t…

Tag my Tenth Photo theme.......

Image
Hullo ma wee blog,

Kat, who writes a blog I follow, tagged me with one of these odd challenges that seem to reverberate around the bloggosphere.  It was to go into my photo folders open up the first folder,  publish the tenth photo from the folder regardless of what it is and give a wee explanation of what the photo is all about,  and then nominate 5 more folk to do the same.  In effect, a chain letter/email. I can't stand those 'if you don't do this something really bad will happen to a loved one' kind of nonsense so they all go into the bin - even if this isn't that kind of  rubbish, being simply the sharing of random potentially entertaining, or interesting, information.

Not sure if I want to get into lots of these -  though I did post one of my own about favourite films a while back in a moment of weakness  - I was none the less intrigued to go and see what the photo would be. It turned out that it was of my Lovely G, who has asked me to make sure that there are…

IT and Management.....

Image
Hullo ma wee blog,

A man in a hot air balloon, realizing he was lost, reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended further and shouted to the lady "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am!"

The woman below replied, "You're in a hot air balloon, hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You're between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude."

"You must be in IT," said the balloonist.

"Actually I am," replied the woman, "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you have told me is technically correct but I've no idea what to make of your information and the fact is I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help at all. If anything, you've delayed my trip."


"You must be in Management!" replied the woman.

"I am," replied …

153 Sqn. 4th April 1945 - Gardening/Lutzkendorf.

Image
Wing Commander Frank Powley {centre} S/Leader John Gee {2nd right}         photo courtesy of Frank Powley {W/C Powley's nephew}

Continuing the story of my late Dad's Lancaster Squadron to the end of hostilities in 1945.

On 4th April, 153 squadron were ordered to supply 5 aircraft for 'Gardening', as minelaying operations were known, and every other available machine for a 'maximum effort' night attack on the oil refinery at Leutzkendorf. Take-off by the 12 crews was timed to allow this long flight to be made in complete darkness. Cloud over the target was slight, allowing accurate marking and bombing although results were later assessed as only moderate. The attack was delivered from 12,500 feet; above the light flak barrage, and below the heavy flak busting at 15,000 feet! On all aircraft on the Lutzkendorf raid safely returning to Scampton, crews encountered a low cloud base with limited visibility hampering safe landing, but murky as it was, nothing could ma…

153 Sqn. 3rd April 1945 - Nordhausen.

Image
Continuing the story of my late Dad's Lancaster Squadron to the end of hostilities in 1945.

Bombing up crew on the job
For 153 Squadron, the first week of April was also the last of the Squadron's nine most critical weeks during which operation frequency increased and resulting losses of men and machine took a heavy toll on morale within this relatively small squadron.  Also "turnover" of crews continued unabated as experienced crews completed their tours of the increased 36 op figure and were posted out accordingly.

On the ground, with the allied armies advancing swiftly eastwards, and the Russian army matching progress on the Eastern Front,  operational targets became fewer.  All the signs indicated the prospect of an early end to the war in Europe , but  German forces were making final and furious resistance, pushed back as they were, onto German soil.  There was still work for the RAF to be done to bring about a swift and satisfactory conclusion.

In the intervening…