History of Squadron

 

Chapter VII

The Advance to the Rhine

February - March 1945

A "cold deluge" descended in the afternoon of the 11th, diminishing to a drizzle that continued for 24 hours. When the weather finally improved a bit at midday on the 13th the impatient pilots got in four missions and followed up with a record nine on the 14th, St.
Valentine's day. 

The four sorties on the 13th were almost completely luckless; only one definite rail cut was reported, while
two aircraft were damaged. Cloud made it difficult to find targets or observe the results of the attacks that were made. One of the missions was an armed recce by four pilots to strafe enemy MET and armour moving north from Geldern to the battle area in the Reichswald. Shortly after taking off, Johnny Bullock had to
force land with a broken connecting rod. The other pilots flew above the clouds to Udem where they met a hot flak reception when they began to let down. Zooming up into cloud cover again, they flew on towards Wesel and once again Jerry was waiting for them as they broke cloud. A third attempt was likewise rebuffed and the discouraged pilots turned for home. Near Goch they saw two strange
aircraft which ducked into the clouds when the Typhoons gave chase. A most discouraging sortie! 

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Intentionally left blank

Another armed recce later in the day cruised around for half an hour, seeing nothing but solid cloud below. A rail interdiction job led by Staff Marlatt provided most of the day's excitement and its only claim. Climbing through a
hole in the clouds above Eindhoven, the section of four set course for their target, the rail line between Borken and Dorsten. At E.T.A. staff led his pilots down through thin cloud only to find another layer below which extended down to 2000 feet. One pilot had to pull up to avoid a collision; the other three continued through the lower layer, became tangled with a number of Tempests and the section was completely broken up. Individually the four pilots
dive bombed the tracks near Borken, scoring one cut. In doing so, WO Len Horrocks received a hit in the port wing which tore a large hole. Then, seperately, the four made their way homeward through and above the clouds,
keeping their eyes wide open for enemy aircraft that, were
reported in the Wesel area.

In contrast to this rather disappointing day's work the 14th was memorable not only for the weather ("a beautiful day with not a cloud in the sky early this morning"), the scale of activity(35 sorties on nine ops.), but above all for the results achieved. Eight rails were cut; a station was destroyed; a locomotive and seven cars were damaged; four freight cars were destroyed; a village was damaged; and to cap the day's performance two Me.262 jets were shot down in air combat.

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