Friday, 20 September 1940

RAF Tangmere

After several days of poor weather as forecast, the second attempt to drop Philip Schneidau is made on the night of 20-21 September. F/Lt Walter Farley, who had flown as Second Pilot on the first attempt, appears to be the skipper this time. He does not record the Second Pilot in his logbook. Sgt Savile, listed as Navigator, may also have been the navigator on the first attempt, even though Knowles had assured SIS after the first attempt that the NCO navigator would be replaced by a commissioned officer. S/Ldr Ross Shore and Sergeants Davis and Bernard are all in Farley’s crew. A crossed-out entry in Farley’s logbook lists Sgt Cameron in the crew; he would become the Flight’s first Despatcher, but at the time he was a corporal. (Farley’s logbook for this period appears to have been filled in several months later.)

This time they reach the target area, only to find it wreathed in low cloud. As anyone who has visited the Spa Francorchamps Formula 1 circuit can tell you, elevated forest land in early autumn tends to attract its own low cloud-system even when the surrounding countryside is in bright sunshine (or moonlight in this case). Though the target, a large quarry of white limestone sand, is visible from afar in clear weather, mist or fog renders it invisible within a few feet. even from above.

Farley’s logbook records the sortie as lasting 3 hours 55 minutes, and although Ross Shore’s logbook records a sortie lasting 8 hours (dated incorrectly to the 19th) with Farley as skipper, a reliable source states that take-off was at midnight on the 20-21st, with the aircraft returning at 04.30, after descending to 300 feet over the target area, a risky business given that the analogue altimeter would have been set at base; lower pressure over the target would have caused it to misread upwards. It is not stated where this sortie was mounted from, but it was probably from Tangmere.