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: Weisbane (02 Feb 1945 - 03 Feb 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Weisbane 02 Feb 1945 03 Feb 1945 N 28 aircraft and crews were accepted and briefed to attach WEISBANE where enemy troops were reported to be resting and being re-fitted preparatory to a move to the Eastern Front. Of the 28 aircraft, only 26 aircraft took off, 2 aircraft were non-starters owing to one developing engine trouble and the other being bogged due to a temporary failure of some perimeter track lighting. The weather again was our chief enemy. Cloud up to 20,000ft had been predicted over the Channel only, but in point of fact the worst conditions were over the target where there was layer cloud up to this height and over. Markers were completely obscured and in the circumstances it hardly seems likely that a concentrated attack could have been made. Flak was very ineffective but three of our aircraft saw enemy fighters and opened fire on them without response or conclusive result. All our aircraft returned safely one landing at Kirmington.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
RA503 Returned - F/L C M Irving (P)
F/Sgt G D Vine (F/Eng)
F/SO J S White (Nav)
F/O G A Heather (A/B)
P/O H C C Bontoft (W/Op)
Sgt J H O'Leary (MU/AG)
Sgt W N Chew (R/AG)

Operation/Target: Kieve (07 Feb 1945 - 08 Feb 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Kieve 07 Feb 1945 08 Feb 1945 N 27 aircraft and crews were the Squadrons contribution to an attack on KIEVE a road centre where six routes meet, also a rail junction linking the Ruhr and those area still held by the Hun in Holland north of the Rhine - the object being to blot out the town, thus denying the enemy the main route into that part of the battle area. All aircraft successfully took off without incident in the usual Squadron style at approximately 18.30hrs. F/L Pickles in "Y" very reluctantly had to abandon his mission when over France owing to his bomb sight being unserviceable. F/L Rhude had the galling experience of going all the way to the target and then found his bombsight u/s. He made the correct decision, refrained from bombing and brought his bombs back. The route to the target was practically cloud free but the target ware was covered by 9/10-10/01 cloud about 3000ft thick. The Master Bomber had the matters well organised and brought the main force down beneath the cloud where they found the ground marking concentrated and easy to follow. The crews were unanimous that the bombing was very concentrated with "cookies" bursting all around the markers. Flak was negligible only a few spasmodic bursts being observed.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
RA503 Returned -

Operation/Target: Politz (08 Feb 1945 - 09 Feb 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Politz 08 Feb 1945 09 Feb 1945 N The Squadron stood by for a skylight operations, which was however cancelled at approx. 13.30hrs presumably owing to adverse weather. 28 aircraft were later called for an attack on a synthetic oil plant at POLITZ 3 miles north of Stettin. Owning to mechanical defects developing at the last moment only 24 aircraft took off at approx. 19.00hrs. The weather along the unfamiliar route fufilled our worst suspicions, but on approaching the Reich the waether improved considerably and the target area was found to be practically free from cloud, consequently the flares and markers were dropped punctually and accurately. The target had been attacked two hours earlier and the fires started were still visible and our boys brigthened them up considerably. Many explosions were seen and a particularly vicious one at 23.17hrs which lit up the whole area and was said to have been the best ever. All our aircraft returned safely although one, F/O Parsons in "N" landed at Carnaby with defective hydraulics. Good photographs were obtained. F/O Lohrey and four members of his crew who baled out after their attack at Ludwigshaven on the 1st Feb returned to the Squadron.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
RA503 Returned -

Operation/Target: Chemnitz (13 Feb 1945 - 14 Feb 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Chemnitz 13 Feb 1945 14 Feb 1945 N 22 aircraft and crews were briefed, and successfully took off at approximately 20.00hrs to attack CHEMNITZ the Bradford of Germany with important rail junctions through which reinforcements from the west, country and southern Germany would have to pass on their way to the Eastern Front. The weather was good over England but deteriorated on approaching the target which was found covered with 10/10th cloud with tops up to 18,000ft. Markers could not be seen and crews were instructed to bomb on Navigational aids. The concensus of opinion seemed to be that the attack was rather scattered. An aircraft that had bombed however went below cloud and reported that the sourhern part of the town was burning but the northern part was untouched. Flak was slight and there were no searchlights. Photographs reveal nothing. All aircraft returned safely to base after their nine hours trip.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
RA503 Returned Primary at 16,000ft at 00.43hrs

Operation/Target: Dresden (13 Feb 1945 - 14 Feb 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Dresden 13 Feb 1945 14 Feb 1945 N 27 aircraft and crews were called upon for operations, 28 crews were briefed, one extra being held in reserve. After some effort 26 aircraft took off at approximately 21.15hrs to attack DRESDEN. The journey across England was unfortunately marred by a fatal accident in which one of our aircraft was involved (B2 - F/L Allen). It appears that an aircraft from 300 Squadron collided with ours near Appe by Manor Lincs, soon after setting course and the wreckage of both planes was scattered over a wide area as a result of explosions.
The weather en-route was better than expected. After a long journey across the continent the target was seen some 180 miles before E.T.A looming up as a dull red glow of fires still raging from a previous attack. The Bombing run was clear which enabled the crews to see the markers and a further concentrated contribution of cookies and incendiaries again made the rear reflecting against the clouds, warming the hearts and feet of the rear gunners. The defences protested, but it was only a feeble attempt. Photographs show an encouraging quantity of fire and incendiary glare and in short show that the attack was a highly successful one.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
RA503 Returned Primary at 18,000ft at 01.43hrs

Operation/Target: Dortmund (20 Feb 1945 - 20 Feb 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Dortmund 20 Feb 1945 20 Feb 1945 N 27 aircraft and crews took off without incident to attack once again the heavy engineering manufacturing town of DORTMUND. F/O Ferguson in "L" unfortunately returned early with his starboard inner engine u/s. The remaining aircraft found good weather along the route until approx. 0530 degress E when a low layer of thick cloud gradually built up to 4000 feet, until at the target the markers were barely visible as they dropped into it. The marking was punctual and an adequate number of ground markers, as well as some sky markers were dropped, However, the latter were somewhat scattered and although some encouraging concentrations of incendiary and fire glows were seen indistinctly under the cloud, the illuminating explosions, there was quite a lot of scatted bombing and it must only be considered, from first accounts, as a moderately successful raid. Ground defences were reproted as being only slight to moderate in a loose barrage, with one or two aircraft receiving some predicted attention. Night photographs show a good diplay of incendiary and fire tracks, but clouds have again prevented only plotting. Good shows were put up by F/O Franklyn in "G" who had his port outer engine u/s and had to feather it when over the Bexhill area on the outward journey. F/L Dale in E2 (taking F/L Sarll and crew on their initial operation) had trouble with his port outer engine which was u/s from 0500 degrees outward forcing them to bomb at 13,000 feet. F/O Mearns also had trouble with his starboard outer engine which was partially u/s for the trip.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
RA503 Returned Primary at 20,000ft at 01.16 1/2hrs.

Operation/Target: Duisburg (21 Feb 1945 - 21 Feb 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Duisburg 21 Feb 1945 21 Feb 1945 N [Ed: Target not listed in ORB. Duisburg assumed.] 24 aircraft and crews were detailed and all took off, including "B" (F/L Sarll) whose first independant trip was made with the rear turret u/s. The operations had an unhappy end in the failure of "A" (W/C Bell with the F/L Luger and his crew) to return to base. Everyone will be sorry to lose W/C Bell whose cheerful, forceful personality has been an inspiration to all members of the Squadron and Killingholme generally. It is feared that this layer cloud over the target marred the accuracy of the attack. Marking was punctual, but reports such undershooting, there were, however, large fires and several explosions around the aimers points. Flak at the target was only slight to moderate, fighters on the other hand were much in evidence, "A" F/O Smith the only aircraft to report a combat can claim a suspected ME262 as probably damaged. Owing to the thin cloud none of the photographs succeeded in showing ground details. Congratuations to F/L Harris and crew on the completion of a voluntarily extended tour, without an abortive.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
RA503 Returned Primary at 16,000ft at 23.15hrs

Operation/Target: Pforzheim (23 Feb 1945 - 24 Feb 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Pforzheim 23 Feb 1945 24 Feb 1945 N 27 aircraft and crews were called for to attack PFORZHEIM and took off at approx. 16.00hrs without incident. Weather at take off was 10/10 low cloud down to 600 ft, but broke up over the continent and the target was quite clear, with some "dangerous moonlight". The markers were accurately placed and the bombing was correspondingly concentrated and the attack has every appearance of being a hightly successful one, fires could still be seen 150 miles away on the homeward journey. Very slight light flak was encountered over the target but night fighters were much in evidence. "C" (F/O Grundy) failed to return from this operation. F/O RD Harris in [NF998] despite a damaged port outer engine which caught fire over the target and severed tube caused by incendiaries, limped back and landed at Manston. One of the crew was injured but not seriously.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
RA503 Returned Primary at 10,000ft at 20.04 1/2 F/L A J D MacLachlan (P)
W/O D J Kettell (F/Eng)
F/O J G Barcley (Nav)
F/O F Parkinson (A/B)
Sgt D Lloyd (W/Op)
Sgt D Drake (MU/AG)
W/O R Lazzell (R/AG)

Operation/Target: Cologne (02 Mar 1945 - 02 Mar 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Cologne 02 Mar 1945 02 Mar 1945 N 26 aircraft with their crews took off at approximately 06.45hrs in the usual Squadron style to attack the approaches to the Rhine bridges at COLOGNE to prevent the retreating Huns from escaping to the east of the Rhine. For once the weather was kind. 5/10ths cloud was encountered until approximately 20miles short of the target which was clear. Visibility was good and crews had no difficulty in identifying the aiming point visually. Bombing was reported to be concentrated with a few hundred yards of aiming point. A generous fighter escort was supplied which discouraged the Luftwaffe from putting in an appearance. Flak over the target was moderate and accurate. Five aircraft from the Squadron were damaged. Photographs confirm that the aiming point was well and truly hit.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
RA503 Returned -

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
RA503 Returned Primary at 17,000ft at 21.48

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
RA503 Returned Primary at 15500ft at 22.11 1/2hrs

Operation/Target: Kassel (08 Mar 1945 - 09 Mar 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Kassel 08 Mar 1945 09 Mar 1945 N The Squardon was again called to operate and 23 aircraft took off in quick time without incident at approximately 17.20hrs. The target was Kassel. All the aircraft bombed the primary target indicated including "H" (F/O Cowper) whose port inner engine caught fire and was feathered some 200 miles short of the target. 10/10 cloud covered practically the whole of the continental route, but was broken immediately over the target, which was clearly visible through only a thin layer. Bombing was heavily concentrated, the incendiaries tooks a firm hold and the resultant fire glow could still be seen when aircraft were crossing the Rhine over 100 miles away. Flak over the target was light to moderate and there was little sign of fighter activity - a happy contrast to the previous night's experience. All the Squadron's aircraft returned safely to base, where at interrogation the crews were sleepy but satisfied. One aircraft and crew completed a night flying training drill lasting 2 3/4 hrs
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
RA503 Returned Primary at 19,500ft at 21.38 1/2hrs

Operation/Target: Dortmund (12 Mar 1945 - 12 Mar 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Dortmund 12 Mar 1945 12 Mar 1945 N 23 aircraft took off without incident at approx. 12.50 hours on what was in almost every respect a repetition of the previous days effort. The only difference, the target was DORTMUND. The colour of the sky markers was changed and the time of the attack about tea time, but the same big dome of dark smoke mushroomed up through the cloud tops. Flak was not up to the usual Ruhr standards, and the only fighters seen were our own, and so the raid appeared to be highly satisfactory. Our 23 aircraft returned to base and landed safely with no fuss or botther at all. The crews of F/O E. M. Smith and F/L Edlund completed their tour of operations with this sortie. Two aircraft and crews completed a flying training detail involving 9 1/2 hours total flying.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
RA503 Returned -

Operation/Target: Herne Oil Plant (13 Mar 1945 - 14 Mar 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Herne Oil Plant 13 Mar 1945 14 Mar 1945 N The Squadron was required to provide 12 aircraft for a night attack on the Erin Benzole Plant at HERNE which is in the north central area of the Ruhr close to the Rhine-Herne canal. All 12 aircraft took off neatly and without incident at approx. 17.15 hrs.

MORE DETAILS TBA ...

F/O Summons, F/O Ferguson and F/L Rhude, had with their crews, all completed their tours.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
RA503 Returned Primary at 16,000ft at 20.29 1/2hrs F/O D D S Ferguson (P)
P/O D A McLeod (F/Eng)
F/O J C Nicoll (Nav)
F/O F D Leith (A/B)
F/S D A Jones (W/Op)
W/O M J Moran (MU/AG)
Sgt G Reading (R/AG)

Operation/Target: Hanau (18 Mar 1945 - 19 Mar 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Hanau 18 Mar 1945 19 Mar 1945 N Squadron detailed 18 aircraft to attack Hanau. "M2" (F/L Sarll) aircraft developed ignition trouble in the port outer engine and did not leave its dispersal. The other 17 aircraft took off in quick succession, commencing at23.50 hours. The route was moderately quite, athough approaching the target and coming out of it, there was evidence of night fighters. Cloud varied in amount, but over the target it was thin. The marking was carried out punctually and in text book fashion. Bombing was reported as well concentrated and the effects were visible from 85 mils distant on the return journey. "D2" (F/O Lukies) reported a combat with a JU.88 and claimed it as damaged. Reports of other crews confirmed this. F/L Dale and crew completed their tour with this op. "Q" (F/L Burrows) aircraft failed to return. Five members returned to the Sqdn after baling out over no-mans-land and spending exciting days with the 12th US Army. Three aircarft and crews flew 14 1/4 hours on training details.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
RA503 Returned Primary at 11500ft at 04.34 1/2hrs

Operation/Target: Bremen (21 Mar 1945 - 21 Mar 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Bremen 21 Mar 1945 21 Mar 1945 N 15 aircraft from the Squadron were detailed for operations. All of them took off safely without incident at approx 08.00. The target was the Deutsche Oil Refinery on the North West outskirts of BREMEN. The route was direct across North Holland, ideal weather conditions were experienced and no flak appeared. Marking was vary accurate and the Master Bomber had a firm and clear control of the attack. Very quickly a pall of smoke, of varying shades, enveloped the target. Along the bombing run the aircraft had to fly through a lane of hot, quite accurate, heavy flak and several aircraft were hit, but none vitally. "K" (P/O Screen) was hit in the port outer engine and limped back to base on three engines. All of the Squadron aircraft landed safely at base. 3 aircraft and crew flew 10 hours flying training.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
RA503 Returned Primary at 14500ft at 10.00hrs

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
RA503 Returned Primary at 14,000ft at 22.36 1/2hrs P/O R H Digby (P)
Sgt J H Walker (F/Eng)
F/O A E Lewis (Nav)
Sgt A E McLeod (A/B)
Sgt D Crabtree (W/Op)
Sgt J L Perrigo (MU/AG)
Sgt R D Hager (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
RA503 Returned Primary at 18,000ft at 23.11hrs

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
RA503 Returned Mission abandoned

Operation/Target: Wachenfeld (25 Apr 1945 - 25 Apr 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
Wachenfeld 25 Apr 1945 25 Apr 1945 N After two day of non-operational flying the Squadron was called upon for operations. The honour of making the front-page headlines was given to Nos 1 and 5 Groups. No 5 Group were attacking the Eagle's Nest, the Wachenfeld, and the SS Barracks in three separate attacks, some with 12000lb bombs, at 09:00 and No 1 Group followed up at 0945 with the main weight of the attach with the aiming point on the SS Barracks. MUCH MORE DETAIL TBA

CONGRATULATIONS: to F/O Screen on his immediate DFC - won on the Hanover raid of 25th March last after a good show on 3 engines.
And congratulations to F/L Browne on his immediate DFC - achieved on the Plauen raid on 10th April and equally good show on two engines.
And finally congratulations to F/L Parsons and his crew on completing their operational tour.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
RA503 Returned Primary at 18,000ft at 09.52hrs

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
RA503 Returned 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
RA503 Returned Primary at 500ft at 17.46hrs. MANNA mission.

Operation/Target: -/MANNA (01 May 1945 - 01 May 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
-/MANNA 01 May 1945 01 May 1945 N 27 aircraft with crews took off at 14.00hrs with a further supply of food.
Station Summary
OPERATIONS: A "MANNA" operations, i.e. food dropping, was ordered, on a dropping zone north east of Rotterdam, 27 aircraft were detailed, all of them took off, dropped 60.453 tons of food, and all returned without incident. The Dutch inhabitants of the area evinced the usual enthusiasm, many flags being noticed and convoys of vehicles proceeding to the dropping areas.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
RA503 Returned Primary at 550ft at 15.35 1/2hrs. 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
RA503 Returned Primary at 380ft at 13.24 1/2hrs. MANNA mission.

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
RA503 Returned Primary at 500ft at 08.17hrs. MANNA Mission
[Ed: ORB says RA503/"T", is "C" meant?]
Sgt G Evans (MU/AG)
P/O J S Percival (P)
Sgt E W Ward (F/Eng)
F/Sgt S E Whyte (Nav)
Sgt N R Knipton (A/B)
Sgt C J Nileman (W/Op)
Sgt I Rees (R/AG)

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
RA503 Returned Primary at 500ft at 14.55 1/2hrs. MANNA Mission F/O F J A Cox (P)
P/O S J Jackson (F/Eng)
F/O A Davidson (Nav)
F/O P M Fletcher (A/B)
Sgt R Townend (W/Op)
Sgt E J Chick (MU/AG)
Sgt H W E Gee (R/AG)

Operation/Target: -/MANNA (08 May 1945 - 08 May 1945)

Operation Summary
Target Out Back Aborted
(Y / N)
Comments
-/MANNA 08 May 1945 08 May 1945 N MANNA mission. 8 aircraft with crews took off before midday on another "Manna mission". The remainder of the Squadron stood down for the day to celebtate "VE" day. Games and cinema were organised. Mrs. Bell phoned to that Wing Commander B. Bell had arrived in the country from POW Camp.
Aircraft Deployed Servicemen Deployed
Aircraft Service Number Returned
or FTR
Comments Crew Details
RA503 Returned Primary at 500ft at 13.03hrs. MANNA mission.

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 27
MAX Aircraft deployed
in single operation
1
(Weisbane, 02 Feb 1945)

These details were last updated: 06 May 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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