| 156|| 24/03/1945 || Harpenwerg || ME378 || Lancaster || Supporter. Task. HARPENWEG. Target attacked at 1627 hrs from 15,000 ft. No assessment of results possible owing to direct hit on bomb bay on bombing run. Crew orderd to bale out but only Navigator, Wireless Operator, and Mid-Upper Gunner did so. |
HARPENWEG 1626 hrs, 15,000 ft, 037. IAS 160. Bomb Bay hit N/F. Aircraft severly damaged. One photo attempted.
On the run up to the target F/O G.B. Hampson's aircraft received a direct hit in the rear of the bomb bay, but the bombs did not explode. Some of the bombs fell from the shattered bomb bay.
What followed was an episode of valour and courage which might never have been recorded had it not been for the superb airmanship on the part of the Captain, and the selfless devotion to duty of the survivors.
After the hit the Captain was informed that the aircraft was on fire, and as the aircraft was developing a dive and was full of smoke he gave the order to abandon.
In the meantime the Captain continued evasive action in view of the predicted flak. The Navigator 1 and Wireless Operator had baled out and the Mid Upper Gunner missing, but his parachute was still in the aircraft.
A large shell hole was near his turret and with the aircraft full of smoke, it may be assumed that he fell through this hole.
The Captain found he could control the aircraft and he signalled the Set Operator who was helping the wounded Flight Engineer through the escape hatch.
The Flight Engineer was wounded in the thigh and the bone splintered, but he continued "Windowing".
As the Flight Engineer was being dragged back into the aircraft another direct hit shattered his left leg at the knee, severing it except for a few tags of flesh, The Rear Gunner, who had clambered precariously from the rear turret, ove the gaping holes in the fuselage, and the Set Operator carried him to the flight deck beside the Pilot.
The Flight Engineer (an ex Medical Orderly) directed and assisted the dressing of his own wounds, and injected himself with morphia in the left wrist.
In spite of his wounds he continued giving advice to the Pilot regarding fuel state and changing fuel tanks, and dragging his maimed body nearer the switch board, continued giving instructions to the Pilot.
The Set Operator plotted a course for home, and the Rear Funner remained assisting the Captain.
The aircraft landed at Manston, and was graded Cat "E" (beyond repair).
[ED] - See CGM Commendation for Sgt Bowers.
[ED] - See DFC Commendation for F/O Hampson.
[ED] - See DFM Commendations for F/Sgt Reynolds & F/Sgt Mann.