- Contributed by
- Location of story:
- In the skies above Berlin, and Bourn in Cambridgeshire
- Background to story:
- Royal Air Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 19 August 2005
I remember this one quite well. It was Bomber Command’s worst night in the War. 97 Squadron had the highest losses for one night. At this time we were at Bourn in Cambridgeshire, Altogether Bomber Command lost 68 Aircraft, and 97 lost 9 Lancasters out of 21 which took off. It was the night of December 16/17th. 1943. Known as Black Thursday.
Target Berlin. Weather forecast was it would hold until they got back about 1-30 am in the early hours and fog would then descend. The fog descended at before Midnight and got thicker, as Lancasters were returning, they were running out of Fuel. They were told to ‘stack’, which means keep flying round in circles above the Airfield but each Lancaster as it returned was to fly 500 feet higher than the one in front. They couldn’t see the Airfield so they started to chance their Arm and attempt Landings. I can hear the crunches now as they ploughed into Woods and fields. Some landed at other Airfields, and some of those crashed there, others pointed their Lancasters’ seaward and chanced baling out. It was awful! I think we only lost a total of 6 Lancaster over the target Berlin all the others were lost trying to land as fuel ran out they had no alternative but to try their luck.
Thursday December 16th/17th.1943 was probably the worst night for 97 Squadron.
This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Becky Barugh of the BBC Radio Shropshire CSV Action Desk on behalf of Des Evans and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
See more of Des’s stories:
- Bale out!
- Missions from Woodhall Spa
- Tracers coming through the thatch
- I didn’t quite get the chop
- Little humour in adversity
- Ted Porters Crew
- The ‘Augsburg Raid’
- S/L Sherwood’s recommendation for the Victoria Cross
- The worst night of the War (Part 2)
- The worst night of the War (Part 3) - Crew
- The worst night of the War (Part 4) - Losses
- The worst night of the War (Part 5) — Extract from ‘the Berlin’ Raids’
- The worst night of the War (Part 6) — Bombers over Berlin
- The worst night of the War (Part 7) — Combat Report
- A Dedication to Skipper Wing Commander Ted Porter - Pause for Thought
- A Dedication to Skipper Wing Commander Ted Porter — A Navigators View of the Route to Heaven
- Did you know?
- Flight Operations carried out with Sgt. D.C Plaunt
- Flight Operations carried out by Sgt. J.J Johnson
- The experiences of ‘Taffy’ after baling out on 9th — 10th June 1944
- The experiences of ‘Taffy’ after baling out on the 9th - 10th June 1944 - Continued
- The experiences of ‘Taffy’ - 11th June 1944
- The experiences of ‘Taffy’ - 12th — 15th June 1944
- The experiences of ‘Taffy’ - 16th - 18th June 1944
- The experiences of ‘Taffy’ - 19th — 23rd June 1944
- The experiences of ‘Taffy’ — 24th August 1044
- ‘Our Heroes’
For further stories read ‘ACHIEVE YOUR AIM’ by Kevin Bending
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