where brother John had been born in 1941. I was given four days leave to see the new baby and the family. In December we were engaged on only three sorties, as I have recounted; Soest on the night of the 5th, Osnabruck again by night on the 6th and Duisburg not until the 18th.
They all had their excitements, and they all had their similarities. I suppose we thought daylight raids were safer – German reaction to raids was confined during the day to flak and their fighters were nowhere to be seen. There was little chance of collision even in a crowded raid. And there was none of the adrenalin which the sight of a line of searchlights on the black horizon ahead always managed to produce. Searchlights were a feared hazard. There was little a heavy four-engined bomber could do to escape from their grasp if once picked up, for as soon as a single beam hit an aircraft every neighbouring searchlight concentrated on it, and it was ‘coned’ by whatever batteries on the ground could direct their beams to it.