Wednesday, 25 February 1942

The February-March moon-period starts with one sortie to Norway, two to Holland, and a Polish Air Force sortie to Poland.

Operation CATARRH

F/Lt Davies flies an operation to drop two containers to Thjis Taconis, who had parachuted in November with his wireless operator, Hubertus Lauwers. Taking off at 20.59, Davies encounters nothing but cloud beneath him, so he abandons the operation and returns, landing at 01.20.

Operation CARROT

P/O Smith has no more luck with the weather than F/Lt Davies. Taking off at 21.08, he flies via Southwold, past the offshore island of Vlieland, then across the Zuidersee to Zwolle. The crew is unable to distinguish detail on the ground beneath due to cloud, and so the operation is abandoned. They return by the same route, and land fifteen minutes behind F/Lt Davies.

Operation COLLAR

This an altogether more ambitious sortie, to Poland, with F/Sgt Pieniszek noted as the Captain of Halifax L9618. Like the others, he runs into continuous cloud along the route which persists until he is in the target area. He therefore abandons. He encounters heavy flak over Stettin (now the Polish city of Szczecin), Kiel and Sylt, but no searchlights. He lands back at Stradishall at 06.25.

It cannot be overstressed how hazardous it was for these Polish crews flying over Germany to their homeland. If shot down and captured, not only would their own lives be forfeit, but those of their families in Poland.

Operation CLAIRVOYANT

At 0950 a¬†warning order is issued: ‘Clairvoyant “on” tonight’. At 11.00 plans are made for two 138 Squadron aircraft to use Lakenheath, which has longer runways for a fully-fuelled Halifax. They plan to arrive there at 13.00.

At 18.57 S/Ldr Hockey takes off from Lakenheath in his Halifax L9613 ‘V’ for the Kjosnesfjord, inland from the west coast of Norway. But the target area was obscured by 10/10ths cloud and in freezing conditions it was only prudent to abandon the operation. They return to Stradishall, landing at 03.26.

Operation CLAIRVOYANT appears to have been a large programme intended to sabotage power supplies, targeting the water-pipes that supplied the hydro-electric stations. It appears to have never been carried out.

Newmarket: 161 Squadron

At 14.58 Stradishall Ops is warned by Newmarket that at 19.45 S/Ldr Murphy is to take off from RAF Newmarket in an Anson, letter “L”. It is routed via Abingdon to Tangmere, aiming to land there an hour later. Murphy actually takes off at 20.07, landing at 21.35.

Sources

Newmarket: 161 Squadron

TNA AIR 14/2530 Stradishall Ops Officers’ logbook