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coloured parachute flares over it. We bombed the flares. Krupps was shown by later reconnaissance to have been grievously stricken by this ‘Wanganui’ raid – for ‘Wanganui’ was what the technique had been named. We were coming up to the final episodes of the war in the air. In March my


crew and I went out on four raids between the 2nd and the 13th. Only one was by night, again on the oil refinery at Kamen in the Ruhr, when we had to report slight flak damage on our return. That was the only time we had been hit, up to that moment, and it had only affected the tailplane with no risk to the sturdy Halifax. The daylight sorties were to Cologne, Dortmund and Wuppertal. Although my operational posting had been to a squadron where, as a


long-serving and senior Flight Lieutenant, it was expected I would get early promotion, the premature disappearance of one Flight Commander almost as soon as I had arrived had robbed me of that chance, for I had then almost negligible experience as a bomber pilot, and so remained a Flight Lieutenant through the coming winter. Then, at the end of the first week in March 1945, my own Flight Commander, S/Ldr Harold Bridges, completed his required complement of 36 raids and left the Squadron. When I first went to Full Sutton that complement had been set at 30 sorties, but this was increased before the end of 1944. So I now found myself appointed to command ‘B’ Flight of 77 Squadron. This meant promotion to Squadron Leader, a promotion which had to be gazetted in No. 4 Group HQ PORs (Personnel Occurrence Reports.) I took over the Flight on March 10th 1945.


One of the responsibilities of my new job was to detail which crews of the Flight should fly on each operation the Squadron was called on to join. A Flight would provide five or six crews, depending on aircraft serviceability and the extent of Air Chief Marshal (‘Bomber’ or ‘Butcher’) Harris’s requirements announced from his HQ in our old home town of High Wycombe. As the new O/C I felt I should in no way take advantage of my newly-acquired powers and leave myself and crew off the list of any imminent raid, but that I should set an example by putting us on that list for each and every sortie at least for the next week or two. So I listed myself and crew for the Dortmund expedition on the day of March 12th and for Wuppertal the following day. It was at the start of the first of these that we had an amusing couple of


minutes. We had been taken out by the ‘tumbril’ to the dispersal point where my Halifax ‘J’, which I’d flown on the last two trips, was awaiting us. There we found a gang of half a dozen Irish navvies wielding picks and shovels on some repair to a bit of the concrete surface of the perimeter track. My NCO crew members got into conversation with them. ‘What do you get paid for a day’s work like this?’ ‘A pound,’ was the reply.


We all almost laughed – almost. Here were my NCOs about to take off and fly over Germany and back for something over six hours, get themselves certainly


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