For reasons that remain unclear, on 17 March F/Lt Oettle writes a formal report on S/Ldr Keast’s attempt to drop Philip Schneidau on 10-11 February 1941. It would suggest that someone, either at SIS or at the Air Ministry, has asked for a report on the sortie, but Keast is now in a POW camp and unable to submit one. At the time of the operation (i.e. in mid-February) Jack Oettle had been stranded in the Shetlands after dropping an agent over Norway, so knew nothing of Keast’s sortie first-hand. Still, someone gets their report.
From:- Officer Commanding, 1419 Flight, Stradishall
To :- Squadron Leader Knowles
Date :- 17th March 1941
Report on operation “Felix” – 11.2.41 – Unsuccessful
S/Ldr Keast (Captain)
S/Ldr Mulholland (2nd Pilot)
F/O Baker ( Pilot u/t )
Sgt Davies (W/T)
Sgt Bernard (Rear Gunner)
Cpl Cameron (Despatcher)
I have the honour to report on the above operation :-
S/Ldr Keast took off at 00.30 hours and reached the French coast at 02.45 hours. The whole route, however, including the objective, was obscured by 10/10ths cloud extending to 5,000 feet, accordingly the operation was abandoned, and the aircraft returned to base, landing at 06.00 hours.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient Servant,
A.J. Oettle, F/Lt Officer Commanding, 1419 Flight, Stradishall.
In fact Keast had submitted a report before he was shot down, as follows:
FROM: F/Lt. F.J.Keast, 419 Flight, Stradishall.
TO: S/Ldr. Knowles, Air Ministry.
Operations on Night 10.2.41.
Aircraft was airborne 00.40 hours and course set for Abingdon and Selsey. The night was clear and fine, but on approaching the French coast at Caen at 10000 feet cloud was seen to be forming ahead. A descent through cloud on E.T.A. was made approaching Chartres the cloud extending from 6000 feet to 2000 feet. It was impossible to locate position exactly due to poor visibility below cloud until we arrived at Chartres where we were engaged by light flak and machine guns and picked up by searchlights. We circled Chartres to locate position and then set off for Fontainebleau. At Etamps we were again picked up by searchlight and it took several violent alterations of course to shake them off. On approaching Fontainebleau visibility became extremely poor and it was found impossible to map read, whilst cloud was observed to be right on the ground in patches. After about 30 minutes search it was decided to abandon the operation, and course was set for Stradishall where we landed at 06.45.
Crew: Capt. & Nav. F.L. Keast.
Pilot S/Ldr Mulholland.
F. Gunner F/O. Barker
R. Gunner Sgt. Bernard
W/Op Sgt. Davies, Cpl. Cameron, 1 Pass.
(Sgd) F. J. KEAST.