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13 Ops

 

From 16 November 1944 through 28 January 1945, Gaven Henry’s crew based at 103 Squadron, Elsham Wolds, Lincolnshire, completed 13 operations, of which 2 were mine-laying in Polish and Danish waters and 11 were bombing ops on German targets.  Pilot Gaven Henry, Navigator Stoney Mitchell, Bomb Aimer Merv Bertie, Wireless Operator Mac McGinn, Mid-Upper Gunner Harvey Porter, and Rear Gunner Jack Grice flew all 13 operations.  Flight Engineer Ken Foster flew 11 of those 13 ops but was replaced by A. J. Dowie on 7 and 14 January due to illness.

Poor weather conditions on 21 December 1944 resulted in all returning 103 Squadron aircraft being diverted to RAF East Fortune in East Lothian, Scotland.  Henry’s crew arrived back at Elsham Wolds on 23 December and went on ops the next day, but poor conditions that day once again resulted in all 103 Squadron aircraft being diverted, this time to USAAF Old Buckenham in Norfolk late on Christmas eve.  Henry’s crew did not get back to their home base until 30 December.

Continuing bad weather in January 1945 resulted in few operations.  Lancasters from the 103 Squadron flew bombing operations only on 2, 5, 7, 14, 16, and 28 January. The Monthly Summary for No. 13 Base, which encompassed RAF Elsham Wolds, RAF Kirmington, and RAF North Killingholme reported “January saw only 9 operations, 7 bombing and 2 mining.  In addition, 13 bombing operations and one minelaying mission were ordered and subsequently cancelled.  On 15 days no operations were ordered at all. (TNA Air 29/850).

In late January 1945, Gaven Henry broke his wrist while cranking Stoney Mitchell’s car to get it started on a cold evening.  On 2 February, Henry was posted to duties at No 13 Base and flew no further operations.  By the time Mitchell, Bertie, Foster, and Porter flew together on their 14th and final operation on 12 March 1945 Mac McGinn and Jack Grice had flown in other crews and been killed in action.  See In Memoriam

Stoney Mitchell’s activities in February and early March 1945 included a week of ground training on new navigational equipment at 158 Squadron at RAF Upwood and three test flights from Elsham Wolds to the Alkborough bombing range.

13 operations by Gaven Henry crew 16 November 1944 through 28 January 1945

 

Op # Date Aircraft Target Time Up Time Down Hours flying Comments in Mitchell log book
1 1944-Nov-16 LM131-V DÜREN 13:04 17:50 4:46
2 1944-Nov-21 ED888-M2 ASCHAFFENBURG 15:44 22:12 6:28 Returned on 3 engines. Stbd outer lost 45 min before delta
3 1944-Nov-27 ME698-U FREIBURG 15:58 23:16 7:18
4 1944-Nov-29 NN758-Q DORTMUND 11:54 17:29 5:35
5 1944-Dec-04 NG360-F KARLSRUHE 16:35 23:12 6:37
6 1944-Dec-06 ND861-N MERSEBURG (Leuna) 16:37 0:31 7:54
7 1944-Dec-12 LM682-O ESSEN 16:19 21:50 5:31
8 1944-Dec-21 NN766-R POMERANIAN B (Pölitz, Stettin Bay) 15:18 23:55 8:37 Directed. Landed at East Fortune. 3 engines.
Return to base on NF999-T on 23 Dec
9 1944-Dec-24 NF999-T COLOGNE (Nippes) 14:47 20:56 6:09 Directed. Landed at Old Buckenham. Returned to base by truck 30-12-44
10 1945-Jan-07 NN758-S MUNICH 18:25 3:22 8:57
11 1945-Jan-14 NN758-S MERSEBURG (Leuna) 19:03 3:32 8:29
12 1945-Jan-16 NN758-S AARHUS BAY 20:37 3:24 6:47
13 1945-Jan-28 NN758-S STUTTGART (Zuffenhausen) 19:42 2:57 7:15

 

Additional information on above Ops

Op

#

Date Target Bomb load Bombing time and height Bomber Command War Diaries excerpts Lancs
# on op
#lost
(#crash)
1 1944-Nov-16 DÜREN 1 x 4,000 lb. H.C.
6 x 1,000 lb. G.P.
7 x 500 lb. S.A.P.
P/O. HENRY
bombed M. B. inst. at 1534 hrs from 10,000 ft
1,188 Bomber Command aircraft attacked Düren, Jülich and Heinsburg in order to cut communications behind the German lines. … the 3 towns were virtually destroyed. … The American advance was not a success. 485

3

2 1944-Nov-21 ASCHAFFENBURG 1 x 4,000 lb. H.C.
16 x 500 x 4 lb. G.P.
P/O. HENRY
bombed the glow at 1920½ hrs from 13,500 ft
The object of this raid was to destroy the local railway yards and lines. … 50 bombs fell in the railway area, causing much damage to the marshalling yards ad railway workshops but the main through lines were not cut. Many other bombs fell in the centre and north of the town. 274

2

3 1944-Nov-27 FREIBURG 1 x 4,000 lb. H.C.
14 x 500 x 4 lb. Cluster
4 x 60 x 4 lb. Incendiary
P/O. HENRY
bombed the markers at 2012½ from 12,000 ft
Freiburg was not an industrial town … It was attacked on this night because it was a minor railway centre and because many German troops were believed to be present … Photographs showed that the railway targets were not hit but that the main town area was severely damaged. … The high casualty rate suggests that the population were taken by surprise 341

1

4 1944-Nov-29 DORTMUND 1 x 4,000 lb. H.C.
14 x 500 x 4 lb. Cluster
2 x 60 x 4 lb. Incendiary
F/O. HENRY
bombed at 1502 hrs from 20,000 ft
Bad weather caused the marking and resultant bombing to be scattered but fresh damage was caused in Dortmund. 294

6

5 1944-Dec-04 KARLSRUHE 13 x 1,000 lb. S.A.P. F/O. HENRY
bombed the markers at 1936½ hrs from 19,500 ft
The marking and bombing were accurate and severe damage was caused in the southern and western districts of the city. Among individual building destroyed were the important Durlacher machine-tool factory 369

1

6 1944-Dec-06 MERSEBURG
(Leuna)
1 x 4,000 lb. H.C.
3 x 1,000 lb. M.C.
5 x 500 lb. M.C.
nickels
F/L. HENRY
bombed on H2S at 2039 hrs from 18,500 ft
This was the first major attack on an oil target in Eastern Germany; Leuna was … 500 miles from the bombers’ bases in England. There was considerable cloud in the target area but post-raid photographs showed that considerable damage had been caused to the synthetic-oil plant. 475

5

7 1944-Dec-12 ESSEN 1 x 4,000 lb. H.C.
15 x 500 lb. M.C.
2 x 500 lb. L.D.
F/O. HENRY
bombed the markers at 1941½ hrs from 19,500 ft
This was the last heavy night raid by Bomber Command on Essen … Albert Speer … paid a compliment to the accuracy of this raid on Essen 349

6

8 1944-Dec-21 POMERANIAN B
(Pölitz, Stettin Bay)
6 x 1,500 Veg. F/O. HENRY planted his veg at 1940 hrs from 12,000 ft … attacked the synthetic-oil refinery at Pölitz, near Stettin. Post-raid reconnaissance showed that the power-statin chimneys had collapsed and that other parts of the plant were damaged. 207

3 (5)

9 1944-Dec-24 COLOGNE
(Nippes)
1 x 4,000 lb. H.C.
6 x 1,000 lb. M.C.
8 x 500 lb. M.C.
F/O. HENRY
bombed the markers at 1834½ from 18,500 ft
The Oboe marking and the resultant bombing were extremely accurate. … railway tracks were severely damaged … an ammunition train blew up 97

5 (2)

10 1945-Jan-07 MUNICH 1 x 4,000 lb. H.C.
7 x 150 x 4 lb. Incendiary
2 x 60 x 4 lb. Incendiary
1 x Monroe
F/O. HENRY
bombed the markers at 2231 hrs from 17,500 ft.
Bomber Command claimed a successful area raid, with the central and some industrial areas being severely damaged. 645

11 (4)

11 1945-Jan-14 MERSEBURG
(Leuna)
1 x 4,000 lb. H.C.
9 x 500 lb. G.P.
1 x 500 lb. L.D.
1 x Monroe
F/O. HENRY
bombed the markers at 2359 hrs from 22,000 ft.
… two attacks, 3 hours apart, on the synthetic-oil plant. The attacks caused severe damage throughout the plant. 573

10

12 1945-Jan-16 AARHUS BAY 6 x 1,800 Veg. F/O. HENRY
planted at 2345 hrs from 12,000 ft.
Minor Operations: 8 Lancasters minelaying off Oslo and in the Kattegat. 8

0

13 1945-Jan-28 STUTTGART
(Zuffenhausen)
1 x 4,000 lb. H.C.
10 x 500 A.N. M.64
1 x 500 L.D.
1 x Monroe
F/O. HENRY
bombed Wangannui at 2336 hrs from 19,500 ft
602 aircraft … This raid was split into 2 parts … the second was against the north-western Stuttgart suburb of Zuffenhausen, where the target is believed to have been the Hirth aero-engine factory. The target area was mostly cloud-covered for both raids and the bombing, on sky-markers, was scattered. 258

6

 

Sources:
H.A.S. Mitchell Log Book:  Gail Michener personal archive
H.A.S. Mitchell war-time letters:  Gail Michener personal archive
No. 103 Squadron Operations Record Book Forms 541:  TNA Air 27/816
No. 103 Squadron Operations Record Book Forms 540:  TNA Air 27/816
R.A.F. Station Elsham Wolds Operations Record Book Form 540:  TNA Air 28/255
Base 13 Operations Record Book Form 540:  TNA Air 29/850
Middlebrook, M. and C. Everitt 2011 The Bomber Command War Diaries An operational reference book 1939-1945

Links:
http://www.13baseraf.co.uk/

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