At First Sight
At Second Sight
BEF Al Faw Video '05
At First Sight
Was It Flak Or Ack-Ack - Peter Mallender D.F.C
l. Target Walcheren. - Gun position SW A/P.
runs 2500/1000 ft. On 1st run Marker 2 dropped TI in sea 200 yards SE of A/P.
1st TI overshot into flood water. 2nd TI under- shot 80 yards and
extinguished Told M/F to bomb landward end of 8th breakwater from E. Bombing
as above. 2 runs 3000/1000ft - 1st TI not seen. 2nd TI 200 yards SE of A/P
This was a daylight affair when eight Mosquitoes marked four gun
positions and 102 Lancasters bombed. This was the last operation by
Bomber Command on Walcheren, which was attacked by Commandos, Scottish
and Canadian troops the following day. For me this sortie did not have
a particularly propitious beginning. My navigator, Wallace Gaunt was
concerned about the accuracy of ‘Gee’ and we decided that the method
having the least chance of error would be to make a ‘Time and Distance’
run up the island sea wall beginning the run from Flushing. We had been
told at briefing that the enemy had withdrawn from Flushing.
I was making a creditable effort at a steady turn which would line us
up nicely for our run when we were surprised to find ourselves in the
midst of some most unfriendly attentions by 40mm light flak. We
collected a hit through the port flap and the noise was quite
unnerving. Old “G” George DZ611 didn’t seem to be much affected by the
strike and I began our first dive after “Sandy” Saunders’ first TI had
undershot and was just visible in the water. Our first TI overshot but
burned in shallow flood water. The second TI undershot and went out
quite quickly in deeper water. (you will appreciate that the island was
flooded and the only land above water was the seawall and the beach -
at high water only the seawall, leaving very little dry space for
dropping TIs). In the circumstances the Lancasters were told to bomb
the gun-emplacement target at the land end of a specific breakwater and
they were accurate.
On our arrival back at Woodhall a very shaky old Mossie with a fairly
shaky crew must have provided the Control Tower with a laugh or two! We
wondered at the time what had gone wrong with Intelligence, we had been
told that the Commandos were just across the Westerscheldt and that the
enemy had abandoned Flushing, so we had assumed that the flak batteries
were inactive - was it flak’, or was it our ack-ack?
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