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Berlin (2)

by frankreeve

Contributed by 
frankreeve
People in story: 
The Air-Crew of LANCASTER ZN-"B" BAR
Location of story: 
R.A.F; Station SYERSTON Nottinghamshire
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
A3392750
Contributed on: 
10 December 2004

12 hrs after landing from our first trip the crews were recalled to opps breifing room to be told that we were going to see Berlin again. At1655hrs we taxied to assembly and take-off, the second time in 24hrs; 170 Lancasters were dispatched, but this time something seemed different, but neither the Pilot or my-self could explain what. It was a brilliant moon-lit trip and as we passed over the Danish coast our friends below had marked out in the snow "Welcome RAF". As we flew on towards our target we could see the reception awaiting us. Flak Flares and Fighters. Our markers had been carefully dropped and we went into our bombing-run on Red-Amber-Green which placed us dead-on target. We saw several air-craft hit on our way in, the "Bombs gone" from our bomb-aimer seemed to be twice the usual time to come. The Lancaster lifted as we un-loaded, and we were flat out and on the way home. We flew out low over the coast to cut-out any possible attack from below. The Germans had planned for this by putting a string of gun-boats just out to sea. As we flew out they opened fire with the guns depressed to hit the surface of the water which bounced the shells, giving it half a dozen chances of making a lucky hit. All went well untill we neared our coast; a urgent divert order "land at air-fields nearest to London" dense fog in Lincolnshire. We changed directions to comply, this brought a challange from our own coastal guns and searchlights barring our path and waving us away from London. The situation became more serious when we heard warning squeakers that we amongst barrage ballon cables. Our Radio Operator was replying to a challange from our own guns when an American operator cut into the channel to ask us if we were going to land we said we would and were given permission to "land on the longest"?? When a few mins later we put the Lancaster down, the moment the wheels touched down I knew we were in trouble. I shone the Aldis lamp through the side window to find that they had allowed us to land on a newly laid run-way and we were up to the wheel rims in wet concrete, by the time we had persuaded the Lancaster onto firm ground an armed guard was either side of the door and a fleet of Jeeps and dozens of cycles had surrounded us. But rules had to be carried out, so we were driven to de-briefing and then to the mess for hot rum and punch. To end my night my last task was to release our two carrier pidgeons to fly back to Syerston, we had to resort to a long rail journey back. But I did tell you something was dfferent this trip. My self I will always remember HARDWICK. The rail journey was endless but we arrived back on camp late on Tuesday to learn the sad news that out of the 170 Lancasters that started the trip 19 failed to return.

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