Squadron Operations: Summary Information

Overview

There follows below a list of the all of the operations flown by 550 Squadron and the aircraft involved on each. The information used to build this page was taken in the first instance from the lists provided on the original Squadron Association web-site, but has been augmented by new information gathered since that time (squadron operations logs, individual aircrew log books, and other sources).

This information is not yet complete: it has been build from the a number of sources (documentary and people) and compilation of complete lists is an ongoing task that is expected to take quite some time to complete. So please don't shout just yet if you spot an omission - work continues to build a more complete, and accurate, list.
Do however shout if you spot an error! Please email any corrections or information to the contact details in the link at the bottom of the page.

Operation Summary: The column headers should be fairly self-explanatory. The term "aborted" as used here covers a number of possibilities:

Aircraft Deployed: When a link to a particular aircraft is given, this indicates aircraft known to have taken part in this raid (in the records currently available to the web-site author). A record of whether the aircraft returned or failed to return (FTR) is also logged.

Servicemen Deployed: Names of the crew in the operation.

Station Summary: This section is the information from the RAF North Killingholme Station Record Book for the operational date (if available).

Definitions of the abbreviations used are available: here.

Manageable Lists

The amount of data in the database is growing and this is resulting in the "all operations/targets" list getting rapidly bigger and thus slower to generate. There are options to display shorter, more quickly generated, reports if you want to home in on something specific. For example, there are options to generate reports on operations to a single target, or by single aircraft (to all targets) or by single aircraft to a single target. There is, on the database-reports summary page, a short user guide (PDF format) on how to do this.


Operation/Target: Chemnitz (05 Mar 1945 - 06 Mar 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Chemnitz 05 Mar 1945 06 Mar 1945 N 26 aircraft, including the reserve, as it was apparant immediately after take-off that "E2" (F/L Dale) would be abortive with a port engine unserviceable, took off at approximately 16.45hrs as part of a force of over 700 Lancasters and Halifaxes detailed to attack CHEMNITZ. The trip to the target was without incident, with a layer of 10/10 cloud beneath most of the time. On reaching the target area it was quickly seen that the cloud prevented anything other the sky marking which was called for by the Master Bomber. His broadcasting was much distorted by static interference, but he was generally heard. The first release point flares went down 3 minutes before "H" hour; they were plentiful and well grouped but fell into the cloud tops rather quickly and later there was a gap when no flares were seen. Detailed results could not be seen but judging from the incendiary glow and the bursts of the cookies, bombing appeard to be concentrated. There was only very slight heavy flak over the target area, but the Leipzig defences were active and the night fighters were in evidence, both over the target and along the first two legs of the homeward route. Three aircraft reported combats but none claimed any night fighters destroyed. 22 aircraft landed safely at base; "J" (P/O Findlay) landed at Benson, "O" (F/O Harris) at Carnaby, with flaps unserviceable, and "F" (F/S Wilson) at Tempsford, with damage sustained in combat but no casualties.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
ME503 Returned - P/O S W Nielson (P)
Sgt A Finnigan (F/Eng)
F/Sgt B M Trowbridge (Nav)
Sgt R Kerr (A/B)
Sgt J H Stuart-Ritson (W/Op)
Sgt R F Stevens (R/AG)
Sgt R D Hager (R/AG)

Operation/Target: Dessau (07 Mar 1945 - 08 Mar 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Dessau 07 Mar 1945 08 Mar 1945 N 27 aircraft took off at approximately 17.00hrs on operations, but not without incident. "E2" (W/O Lukies) proved most fractious. The starboard outer engine cut on take-off. The aircraft swung dangerously but the pilot by masterly handling avoided a hanger and other obstacles, proceeded to the jettison area and returned safely. The other aircraft set course on the long route to DESSAU. Cloud amounts variable. Opposition was lively, both from flak and night fighters, but the former was not so strong over the target. Some crews bombed ground markers through 3/10 cloud with a clear view of the town and River Elbe; others had to rely on sky markers owing to 10/10 cloud. General opinion was that the attack was well concentrated and that the target was set, well and truely, ablaze. "M" (S/L Pickles) had it's "Gee" unserviceable from Southern England outwards, but the crew pressed on and after some meandering found themselves near to the target. They bombed in solitary state, a healthy concentration of fires left by their comrades. Two crews reported inconclusive combats with night fighters. Three aircraft "V" (F/O Jones), "O" (F/O Harris) and "R" (P/O Nielson) failed to return and it was with deepest regret that they were reported missing. Nothing was heard from any of them after take-off. Three aircraft and crews carried out flying in training involving over 7 hrs flying.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
ME503 FTR Missing - no news after take-off. P/O S W Nielson (P)
Sgt A Finnigan (F/Eng)
F/Sgt B M Trowbridge (Nav)
Sgt R Kerr (A/B)
Sgt J H Stuart-Ritson (W/Op)
Sgt R F Stevens (R/AG)
Sgt C A DeLaveleye (MU/AG)

Operation/Target: Hannover (25 Mar 1945 - 25 Mar 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Hannover 25 Mar 1945 25 Mar 1945 N 6 aircraft were called for operations. "M2" (F/S Wilson) had to "scrub it" with an unserviceable tacometer on the starbroad inner engine, but the other five took off with further mishap at approx. 06.50 hours. The target was HANNOVER and the route out uneventful apart from a front which had to be negotiated somewhere between 03.00 degress and 05.00 degress East. The bombing was accurate and well concentrated. No enemy aircraft were seen and flak was slight. "Y" (P/O Screen) had to feather the starboard outer over the North Sea outbound but pressed on through the front. In response to a request for fighter assistance 4 Mustangs came along and took them to the target, after which they were joined by three more. Some little distance away, on the return, they were subjected to predicted flak, which however they managed to avoid. All the aircraft landed safely at base. The Flight Lieutenants Franklyn R and J have, with their crews, completed their tours on consecutive days. 4 aircraft and crews flew a total of over 10 hours on a day flying training programme.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
ME503 Returned Primary at 18,000ft at 09.48hrs

[Squadron CO W/Cdr McWatters pilot]
W/Cdr J C McWatters (P)
F/O F S Adley (F/Eng)
P/O R J Moran (Nav)
F/O L D Browning (A/B)
F/Sgt E M Watkins (MU/AG)
F/Sgt J Tasker (R/AG)
F/Sgt G E Collinson (W/Op)

Operation/Target: Paderborn (27 Mar 1945 - 27 Mar 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Paderborn 27 Mar 1945 27 Mar 1945 N The squadron was called upon to provide 18 aircraft to participate in an attack on PADERBORN. The aircraft took off without incident at approx. 14.50 hours in the usual efficient manner. 10/10 cloud covered the target and most of the route, which according to the crews had the semblance of a "cross country". No enemy fighters were seen, there was no flak over the target and very little along the route. The cloud layer prevented any assessment of the bombing accuracy but a large mushroom of smoke came up through the cloud tops to 12000ft. So something caught fire somewhere! All the aircraft returned and landed safely at base, although "J" (F/O Percival) had the misfortune to be stuck by incendiaries from an aircraft flying just above. A training programme involving 4 aircraft and crews and a total of hours day flying was carried out.

[Ed: Although there appears to be 1 aircraft missing from the listing in the ORB battle order.]
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
ME503 Returned Primary at 17,000ft at 17.35hrs F/L F J Mitchell (P)
W/O N J Horsley (F/Eng)
Sgt M H Levy (Nav)
F/O B A Hulse (A/B)
Sgt D J Bailey (W/Op)
F/Sgt A W W Coltman (MU/AG)
Sgt R B Nicholson (R/AG)

Operation/Target: Hamburg (31 Mar 1945 - 31 Mar 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Hamburg 31 Mar 1945 31 Mar 1945 N 16 aircraft with crews took off at approximately 06.20 to attack HAMBURG. The weather conditions were bad - 10/10 cloud all the way and over the target. The bombing on sky markers, which were rather scattered, was not considered to be concentrated and the results are awaited. Flak was moderately heavy and two of our aircraft were damaged without casualties. All aircraft returned safely to base just before mid-day to enjoy a good luncheon. Flying training programme was carried out during the afternoon and evening. The Squadron has enjoyed a good months work although unable to put into the air large numbers of crews through crews becoming tour-expired so quickly in succession.

MESSAGE FROM AIR OFFICER COMMANDING No. 1 GROUP.
The month of March 1945 ends with No. 1 Group breaking all records for sorties flown and for bomb tonnage lifted against the enemy of reaching the figures of 3674 (sorties) and 17902 (tons). These achievements truly reflect the energy and determination both of the aircrews and of the ground crews to strike hard blows against the bewildered enemy. I congratulate you all on this magnificient effort and am confident that, should you be called upon to repeat and perhaps even exceed these figures in the Month of April, none will be found wanting. Blucke.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
ME503 Returned Primary at 17500ft at 08.49hrs F/L F J Mitchell (P)
W/O N J Horsley (F/Eng)
Sgt M H Levy (Nav)
F/O B A Hulse (A/B)
Sgt D J Bailey (W/Op)
F/Sgt A W W Coltman (MU/AG)
Sgt R B Nicholson (R/AG)

Operation/Target: Lutzendorf (04 Apr 1945 - 04 Apr 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Lutzendorf 04 Apr 1945 04 Apr 1945 N 20 aircraft took off without incident to attack oil plant at LUTZENDORF. Mets briefing had made a courageous attempt to prove that the clouds would not be as black as they were painted, forecasting "after a good look at the map" generous breaks over the target in the threatened 8 - 10/10 cloud. The forecast was triumphly justified by a cloud free target with visibility only marred by a slight haze, although 8/10 cloud persisted to a point under 50 miles from target. Mets assurance, however, that umbrellas would not be required on return was not so happy. Markers after a somewhat slow start were plentiful and crews who were able to identify visually reported that they were actually placed. Bombing was well concentrated and although fires were not impressive much black smoke rose from the target early in the attack, so much so that the Master Bomber at H+3 ordered the crews to bomb smoke. Numerous explosions, with one particularly large one, in the target area were reported. Ground opposition consisted of slight to moderate H/F, a slight amount of light flak and about no ineffective searchlights. There was some enemy figher activity and "P" (F/S Williams) had a tussle with an ME.109 short of the target. The enemy aircraft was first seen 300 yards aways and "Ps" rear gunner immediately opened fire seeing numerous strikes before Jerry broke away without returing fire. Generally the route was trouble free. We regret to report that "X" (F/O Hayes) failed to return, no news being received after take-off.

[Ed: target alternatively spellt Lützkendorf (2 miles east of Mücheln) (i.e. the original ORB entry missed a "ü" and "k"). Also known as Krumpa.]
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
ME503 Returned - F/O C G K Edlund (P)
F/L F J Mitchell (P)
Sgt M H Levy (Nav)
F/O B A Hulse (A/B)
Sgt D J Bailey (W/Op)
F/Sgt A W W Coltman (MU/AG)
Sgt R B Nicholson (R/AG)

Operation/Target: Kiel (09 Apr 1945 - 10 Apr 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Kiel 09 Apr 1945 10 Apr 1945 N 23 aircraft and crews took off at approx. 19.40hrs without incident to attack KIEL, and joining the other aircraft from neighbouring bases, made an impressive picture as they streamed away to their target. The trip was uneventful for the outward jounrney, and the Met. proving accurate with some cloud en route but clearing completely in the target area, an excellent attack developed. The marking was clearly visible in spite of slight ground haze, and with some details of the Fjord and the coastline visible, appeared accurate. The Master Bomber was faint and difficult to hear, but most crews heard enough to understand the bombing instructions. Bombing appeared very concentrated and soon a pall of black smoke was billowing up with numerous explosions occuring underneath, while the cheerful sight of the glow of fires was seen for upwards of 90/100 miles on the homeward route. Flak varied from slight to intense and several fighters were seen over the target, although none of our aircraft was involved in combats. 22 aircraft attacked the primary target, one aircraft "N" (F/L Parsons) having to abandon soon after take-off due to some of the instrunments going u/s (a good attempt was made to cope with a piece of string as an artificial horizon but without avail). All our aircraft returned safely, including S/L Newitt and his crew who are to be warmly congratulated on finishing their second tour. The photographs shows some excellent ground detail, one or two of them being the clearest received for some time. The best for clarity was that of "R" (F/L Mitchell) which has been plotted as 600yards from the A/P - taken in the early part of the operation it shows that the main weight of the attack fell slightly to the N.E. of the A/P, but sufficiently near to make a successfull attack.
Eight hours night flying training was carried out by two new crews, F/S Thomas and F/S Banahan with their respective crews.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
ME503 Returned Primary at 14500ft at 22.32hrs F/L F J Mitchell (P)
W/O N J Horsley (F/Eng)
Sgt M H Levy (Nav)
F/O B A Hulse (A/B)
Sgt D J Bailey (W/Op)
F/Sgt A W W Coltman (MU/AG)
Sgt R B Nicholson (R/AG)

Operation/Target: Plauen (10 Apr 1945 - 11 Apr 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Plauen 10 Apr 1945 11 Apr 1945 N No. 1 Groups attack last night on Plauen therefore might be regarded as a gesture of "no favour shown". PLAUEN a town about the size of Huddersfield 60(?) miles SSW of Leipzig is a junction where the main line from Berlin and Dresden to the south splits, one branch going S.W. towards Schweinfurt, threatenend by the American forces, and another to Nuremberg, Munich, and the Salzberg area, where Hitler is known to be concentrating material and his most fanatical followers for the "Last Round-up" The attack thus has a dual purpose - to prevent the sinews if was getting to the forces opposing the Americans and to delay the withdrawal to the Bavarian Alps by smashing Plauen's rail facilities. This and the trend of Bomber Command's future targets were indicated by the A.O.C No. 1 Group (Air Vice Marshall R.S. Burke DSO DFC) when he honoured 550 Squadron by attending its briefing. With the heavy influx of new crews, 550 Squadron is now regaining its former scale of effort.

Twenty-seven aircraft were detailed, of these 26 took off, "U" being cancelled because of engine trouble. Weather en-route was cloudless and with only a slight haze at the target many crews were able to identify visually the built-up area of the town. P.F.F were punctual and markers were dropped plumb in the centre of the town. So concentrated was the bombing that it completely obliterated the marking with dust and smoke, and immediately after "H" hours, the Master Bombert ordered bombing on the centre of the smoke which was seen billowing to 8/10,000feet. Several explosions were reported and fires were started which could be seen for upwards of 100 miles on the return journey. Ground defences were negligible at the opening of the attack, but increased to slight to slightly scatted H.F mainly below the bombing height band. There was some slight fighter activity but none of the our aircraft was engaged in combat. At interrogation crews were surprisingly full of beans after their long trip. One of the best pieces of back chat came from a Navigator and a Rear Gunner who differed over the amount of flak encountered over the target. The Navigator took the honours with the final and cruel retort "anyway we were home by the time you got to the target". "J" (F/L Browne) landed back at Manston on two engines after a trip that was full of incident. Soon after crossing the French coast outward and when at 3000ft J's starboard engine caught fire and had to be feathered. Although there was no hope of gaining the briefed bombing height, the Captain decided to carry on to the target which was reached on time, and at a height of 11500ft, well below the main force bombing height. Preferring to wait for the end of the attack to going in under the open bomb doors of the main Force "J" orbited the target area twice. Then 2 1/2mins after the close of the main attack J's air-bomber dropped his bombs on an Emergency sighting angle - the bomb sight was u/s owing to the failure of the starboard inner and the crew had the satisfaction of seeing them drop close to a blazing factory. On the camera run, with the bomb doors still open, "J" was hit by flak which damaged the tops of the bomb bays. Control of the aircraft was not affected but J's troubles were by no means over. In the region of Frankfurt while at 9000ft the port outer engine, which had been giving cause for anxiety, failed. Height was maintained, but the area of the Rhine I.A.Zs had to be crossed at 9000ft and these opened up. Fortunately, they broke off as soon as the colours of the period were fired and a safe landing was made at Manston, Photos confirm that the bombing was concentrated. F/L MacLachlan and crew completed their tour of operations.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
ME503 Returned Primary at 16,000ft at 23.10 F/L F J Mitchell (P)
W/O N J Horsley (F/Eng)
Sgt M H Levy (Nav)
F/O B A Hulse (A/B)
Sgt D J Bailey (W/Op)
F/Sgt A W W Coltman (MU/AG)
Sgt R B Nicholson (R/AG)

Operation/Target: Potsdam (14 Apr 1945 - 15 Apr 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Potsdam 14 Apr 1945 15 Apr 1945 N The Squadron supplied 25 aircraft with crew as their contribution towards a force of 400 to attack POTSDAM. They took off without let or hinderance and Londoners could have seen them flying serenely over the Metropolis - cloud and other things being equal. The journey across France, Luxemburg and Western Germany was as uninspiring as it was lenghty. There was a certain amount of flak on approaching the target and on the way out, but considering it was the heart of Germnay and only 18 miles from Berlin, the defences, to use an Americanism, seemed about "tapped out". May they remain in this conciliatory state! Several decoys were seen but did not swerve us from our main purpose. The target was found to be clear of cloud and was identified visually by the adjoining lakes. Markers were plentiful and with the Master Bomber giving explicit instructions, the attack developed along the right lines. The journey back was just a long, long trail and all out aircraft landed safely at Base in the "wee small hours". Our three Musketeers again produced plottable photographs and our congratualtions are extened to F2 (F/O Town) on obtaining an A/P - a fast pace, which we hope can be kept up. Details of all plottable photographs are given, but this in no way detracts from the merits of the others. They are merely devoid of ground details and full of exuberance of smoke and fire.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
ME503 Returned Primary at 18,000ft at 22.50hrs F/L F J Mitchell (P)
W/O N J Horsley (F/Eng)
Sgt M H Levy (Nav)
F/O B A Hulse (A/B)
Sgt D J Bailey (W/Op)
F/Sgt A W W Coltman (MU/AG)
Sgt R B Nicholson (R/AG)

Summary Statistics

Based on the data in the lists displayed above, and keeping in mind that data is still being updated and thus not yet complete, the following statistics are generated:

Aircraft Deployment Statistics


Aircraft deployments 9
MAX Aircraft deployed
in single operation
1
(Chemnitz, 05 Mar 1945)

These details were last updated: 10 October 2018


Note

this list is still being built and will take some time to complete
what is currently displayed is believed accurate but much more is still to be added

This note describes the options currently available to produce a smaller, more manageable list and also describes planned future enhancements to the reporting facility.


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