Cologne Bombing Map Essen Bombing Map
Pilot's Map for
Cologne Raid
Getting Ready for
the Cologne Raid
Pilot's Map for
the Essen Raid
I was still at the O.T.U. on May 31, 1942 when the first 1,000 plane raid was carried out. In order to get 1,000 planes, the R.A.F. used training planes from O.T.U.'s. Our target was Cologne and we got there without incident. I was amazed at the anti-aircraft shells they seemed to fill the sky. A large part of Cologne was already on fire and we dropped our bombs on our target and turned for base. Our pilot took evasive action throughout our flight.

It was a bright moonlight night and visibility was excellent. Our pilot was P.O. Skelley an R.A.F. pilot who had come from Training Command with "Pop" . The next night we were on operations again, this time to Essen. There was a fog layer about 11,000 ft. and it created a problem. If you flew above it the plane was silhouetted against the white cloud background, an excellent target for night fighters. Also, one could not see the ground for map reading and location purposes. Below the cloud you were an easy target for the anti-aircraft (ack-ack) guns. We had trouble locating the target, and our pilot Skelly decided to look for a target that was visible through the cloud. We found a large railway marshalling yard through a break in the clouds so we turned around, dropped down to about 8000 ft. for bombing accuracy and dropped our bombs onto this railway centre. We then climbed through the clouds and got on course for our return to Wellesbourne. A week or so later our crew was posted to #158 Squadron at Driffield on the East Coast. We picked up a new Wellington and we flew into Driffield. This station had just been bombed and the runways were cratered with holes and mounds of dirt. Some of the station buildings had been destroyed as well. It was decided to move the squadron to Marston Moor which was a satellite of a station at Linton-on-Ouse. Here we were converted to Halifax bombers.

They were a four engine heavy bomber with a crew of seven. So we had to augment our crew with a Flight Engineer and a Mid-Upper Gunner. The F.E. was Joe Gissing also peace time R.A.F. and he was an excellent F.E. The Mid-Upper Gunner was George Collins also R.A.F.. The conversion course was mainly for the pilot to get used to handling the newer four engine plane, also the F.E. with their backgrounds. Pop and Joe got through the conversion quickly and with no trouble. We went on a search over the North Sea for a plane from the Squadron which had been "ditched" after being shot up over Germany. But we had no luck. This was in daylight so you had to look below for a dinghy with men in it and also keep an eye open for enemy fighters.

Previous Section
Chapter Headings
Go Back to Chapter

Next Section