627 Squadron in retirement

 

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At First Sight
Only A Short Stay - Wing Commander Brian R. W. Hallows, DFC. 

My tour as C.O. of 627 Squadron was, unfortunately, far from glorious, and ended when I had to go into Rauceby RAF Hospital for a minor operation.

I was posted from No.1668 Lancaster Heavy Conversion Unit, Bottesford, on 24th January 1945, to take over the Squadron, and on 29th January, having met the chaps, went on to RAF Barford St. John for a quick Mosquito Familiarisation. According to my log book this appears to have consisted of two trips, totalling 1hr 50min of dual instruction, including single engine flying and landings, flapless landings and circuits and bumps. I then went solo by day, and later by night, and returned to Woodhall Spa. I remember the change from Lancaster to Mosquito was quite startling. Back at Woodhall, on 3rd, 4th, 9th and l0th February, I was given some instruction on the 627 method of target marking by two of the experts - Rupert Oakley and Peter Mallender, and for ten days did some practice marking and general Mosquito familiarisation flights.

On 20th February I did my first night operation, to mark the Mitteland Canal. Low cloud prevented anyone marking the target and the raid was abandoned. The 5 Group force was diverted due to fog at their bases. I landed at Coltishall. On 21st February the raid was repeated, and the Canal was well and truly marked and clobbered. I did not drop markers, as the aiming point was well marked and backing up was not required.

On 24th February I was “Breeze Leader” with three other Mosquitoes, with the job of finding an accurate wind for the heavies in the Nijmegan area. There was much cloud but we got a good wind, however, the Lancasters had to abandon the raid due to the cloud, not wishing to cause unnecessary casualties to the Dutch population.

Between 25th and 27th February I did four more practice marking trips to the Wainfleet range, and Ken Tice, my very experienced navigator, pronounced me fit to join the ace marking team. The 27th February was my last flight until June, as I found I had ruptured myself- heaven knows how and when - and reported sick. I was still in Command until 17th March, when I was posted supernumerary to HQ 54 Base, Coningsby. I was fit again in June 1945 but was firmly told by Air Vice Marshall Constantine that my operational flying days were over, as no second tour pilots were going to the Far East on “Tiger Force”. In the event, of course, no one went there.

That was my tour with No.627 Squadron - twenty eight days in Command, two night and one daylight operations, and a hernia!

I have since made a nostalgic visit to Woodhall Spa, but I found that visitors are no longer welcomed. Having carried out a Lancaster tour with 97 Squadron from there and the above described short time with 627 Squadron, I should have liked to have had a walk around.





Copyright 1943-2012 627 Squadron in Retirement or as credited