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: 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
PA309 Returned Primary at 15000ft at 22.37hrs F/L R E G Waite (P)
F/O L S Johnston (P)
F/Sgt A G Johnston (F/Eng)
F/Sgt J H Marsh (Nav)
F/O R G McLean (A/B)
Sgt G Edwards (W/Op)
Sgt W Gray (MU/AG)
Sgt T Hume (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
PA309 Returned Primary at 18,500ft at 23.11 1/2hrs F/L R E G Waite (P)
F/Sgt A G Johnston (F/Eng)
F/Sgt J H Marsh (Nav)
F/O R G McLean (A/B)
Sgt G Edwards (W/Op)
Sgt W Gray (MU/AG)
Sgt T Hume (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
PA309 Returned Primary at 20,000ft at 22.51hrs F/L R E G Waite (P)
F/Sgt A G Johnston (F/Eng)
F/Sgt J H Marsh (Nav)
F/O R G McLean (A/B)
Sgt G Edwards (W/Op)
Sgt W Gray (MU/AG)
Sgt T Hume (R/AG)

Operation/Target: Heligoland (18 Apr 1945 - 18 Apr 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Heligoland 18 Apr 1945 18 Apr 1945 N 28 aircraft with crews took off in the usual 550 Squadron style at 10.10hrs to attack the German fortified island of HELIGOLAND. The crews were delighted at being able to participate in another daylight raid. The journey outward was uneventful and visibiity was excellent, the weather being that of a hot summer's day. Our contribution was part of a force of 950 aircraft. Bombing commenced a minute early and the absence of marking in no way affected the accuracy of the bombing. Indeed, the concentration of bombing was so tremendous that it was not thought that markers, had they been dropped, would have remained visible long enough for them to have been used as an aiming point. The island was so saturated by the weight of the attack that the crews met only negigible opposition from the ground defences. No enemy aircraft were encountered. A great number of excellent photographs were obtained giving proof of an outstanding attack. An aircraft carrying a movie-camera was present throughout the attack. P/O Town had to return early owing to engine failure. Eleven hours night flying training was also carried out.
Station Summary
OPERATIONS: A daylight operation took place on the defensive fortress of HELIGOLAND ISLAND. 28 aircraft took off from North Killingholme, one was abortive due to excessive coolant temperature in the port outer engine, and the remainder bombed the primary with excellent results.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
PA309 Returned Primary at 19,000ft at 12.38

Operation/Target: Bremen (22 Apr 1945 - 22 Apr 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Bremen 22 Apr 1945 22 Apr 1945 N It was a formidable force that Bomber Command detailed, with four separate aiming points - enemy strong points on the east side of Bremen, within a few miles of our troops. No. 1 Group had the honour of opening the attack, and 550 Squadron contributed 27 aircraft to this spearhead. All 27 took off at 18:00, but "G" (F/O Johnston) had an engine out on take-off and was saved the consequent "cross country". The remainder completed the course and the majority returned as full of eggs as when they departed. They had the chagrin of seeing most of Bremen clear of cloud but the target area itself covered by a thick patch and because our troops were so near the Master Bomber had no choice but to call the party off. Our crews held out the hope that conditions might improve for later waves, but it transpired that only our force fitted with special equipment could bomb. That, at any rate, was a gesture to our troops, who we hope realised, when they saw the bombers overhead that the promised assistance was only withheld so that they should not be imperialed. Return was more or less devoid of incident except for "M" (F/O Handley) which after touching down took off again for a flight, which, unfortunately cannot be counted as squadron training hours.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
PA309 Returned Mission abandoned

Operation/Target: -/MANNA (29 Apr 1945 - 29 Apr 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
-/MANNA 29 Apr 1945 29 Apr 1945 N MANNA mission. 16 aircraft with crews proceeded on their humanitarian mission at midday to deliver food to the Dutch people on German occupied Holland. Our two dropping areas were the Race course outside The Hague and an airfield near Leiden. The food, or Manna, as it is officially called, was dropped with precision to the great delight of the populace who had been acquainted with out intentions by Radio Luxemburg and whose appreciation could easily be seen in the form of vigourous flag waving since the aircraft flying at a height of 500ft.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
PA309 Returned Primary at 500ft at 13.31hr. MANNA mission.

Operation/Target: Valkenburg/MANNA (30 Apr 1945 - 30 Apr 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Valkenburg/MANNA 30 Apr 1945 30 Apr 1945 N MANNA mission. 28 aircraft with crews carried out another Manna mission to Holland. The aircraft took off at approx. 16.00hrs and were back in time to enjoy their normal evening meal and pleased that they had been privileged to do some good to our brave Dutch Allies.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
PA309 Returned Primary at 400ft at 17.43hr. MANNA mission. F/O K W Jeans (P)
Sgt M G Snowball (F/Eng)
Sgt G Bulman (Nav)
Sgt K G Thom (A/B)
Sgt G C Vincent (W/Op)
W/O H O Lowe (MU/AG)
F/O K C Reeve (R/AG)

Operation/Target: -/MANNA (02 May 1945 - 02 May 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
-/MANNA 02 May 1945 02 May 1945 N Once again 27 aircraft with crew took off at 12.30hrs to deliver more groceries to the Dutch people.
Station Summary
OPERATIONS: A "MANNA" operation was ordered, and 27 aircraft proceeded to the same area adjoining Rotterdam, dropped in all 60.453 tons of food and all returned safely without incident. Advice was received from Base operations that "MANNA" and "EXODUS" sorties are to count as operational trips for the purposes of compiling aircrew's tours.
Sport: Football - Station 2nd XI 5, Barrow 2.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
PA309 Returned Primary at 500ft at 14.10hrs. MANNA mission.

Operation/Target: -/MANNA (03 May 1945 - 03 May 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
-/MANNA 03 May 1945 03 May 1945 N 27 aircraft took off before midday on another "Manna" mission.
Station Summary
OPERATIONS: 27 aircraft were detailed for another "MANNA" dropping operation on the same area of Western Holland as previously, dropping 60.453 tons of food and all returned safely.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
PA309 Returned Primary at 500ft at 13.20hrs. MANNA mission. F/L R E G Waite (P)
F/Sgt A G Johnston (F/Eng)
F/Sgt J H Marsh (Nav)
F/O R G McLean (A/B)
Sgt G Edwards (W/Op)
Sgt W Gray (MU/AG)
Sgt T Hume (R/AG)

Operation/Target: Rotterdam/MANNA (05 May 1945 - 05 May 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Rotterdam/MANNA 05 May 1945 05 May 1945 N 26 aircraft delivered groceries to the Dutch.
Station Summary
OPERATIONS: The postponed "MANNA" dropping operation took place and 26 aircraft dropped 58.214 tons of food on the outskirts of Rotterdam, and all returned without incident.
Sport: Cricket. Two matches Station XI v Grimsby Town and a Station XI v Humber Graving Dock, both in Grimsby, were abandoned owing to rain.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
PA309 Returned Primary at 300ft at 08.19hrs. MANNA Mission

Operation/Target: Rotterdam/MANNA (07 May 1945 - 07 May 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Rotterdam/MANNA 07 May 1945 07 May 1945 N 30 aircraft with crews led by Wing Commander McWatters took off on a "Manna" mission. F/O Handley (K2) on his return flight was able to assist in the rescue of at least three aircrew members of a Fortress which came down in the sea. On sighting this aircraft the W/Op at once turned I.F.F. to "Distress", the aircraft being then practically submerged. Descending to 200ft the crew of K2 saw an American type dingy and believed they also saw a figure in it; on returning from their orbit, however, the dingy was seen to be upside down and no figure present. A tramp ship was then spotted some 6 or 7 miles south proceeding south away from the wreck. K2 flew over to this ship and signalled to it by Aldis lamp "S.O.S. follow us". The ship replied from the bridge by Aldis lamp and turned round and followed K2 back to the wreck. In the meantime the W/Op had been passing position, time, height details etc on M/F Section "G" and had received in return "Stand By" orders. On arriving back at the wreck the ship lowered a boat. Approximately 2 miles north of the wreck, K2 found airman No. 1 in the water with a parachute floating all around him but apparently without any Mae-West as no yellow harness was visible. A Mae-West was thrown to him by the rear-gunner from the rear turret, which was seen to fall near the airman and which he donned. A flame float was also dropped. By this time, several Fortresses had arrived on the scene and circuits had become somewhat congested. A second airman was then spotted east of the wreck and another Mae-West was dropped to him, and a Red Verey cartridge fired. A Catalina aircraft then arrived on the scene, alighted on the sea and picked up surviver No. 1. A Walrus aircraft also appeared, alighted and picked up airman No. 2. Still circling the area, K2 sighted a second dinghy which appeared empty; however one of the last remaining flame floats was dropped to mark it, also a Mae-West. Almost immediately a third survivier was seen in the water and by means of a red verey light and R/T instructions on "Darkie" frequency, the Catalina aircraft taxied over and effected another rescue. Further search was continued, but as no more survivors were visible and the area was now thoroughtly marked and patrolled, and as two more aircraft were seen approaching with airborne lifeboat and an escorting Spitfire, K2 left the scene and continued her homeward journey, well satisfied with the happy twist in circumstances that had enabled them to assist in the resuce operations, and, at the same time, considerably enlivened what otherwise woulhd have been a somehwat monotonous trip.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
PA309 Returned Primary at 500ft at 14.58hrs. MANNA Mission

Operation/Target: Brussels/EXODUS (11 May 1945 - 11 May 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Brussels/EXODUS 11 May 1945 11 May 1945 N 25 aircraft and crews took off at approx 15.45hrs for Brussels at very short notice after standing by for the most of the day. Ex-prisoners of war were brought back. Three of our aircraft "R", "A2" and "E2" landed at Westcott with their human cargo, but unable to take off owing to technical trouble.

[Ed: all flights flying with only 6 crew, one or other of the A/Gs being absent].
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
PA309 Returned EXODUS F/O F L Hern-Black (P)
Sgt J R Greening (F/Eng)
Sgt H R Young (Nav)
F/O J D Clark (A/B)
Sgt D R Gosney (W/Op)
Sgt J G Smith (MU/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 12
MAX Aircraft deployed
in single operation
1
(Kiel, 09 Apr 1945)

These details were last updated: 18 February 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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