Tuesday, 10 December 1940

RAF Stradishall

At 10.12 one of 419 Flight’s Whitleys took off for Henlow, though the reason is not known.

An exchange between Stradishall and 3 Group shows that 419 Flight kept its cards close to the chest, so far as operations planning went: at 2045 No.3 Group phoned Stradishall to ask that information about 419 Flight’s proposed operations should be provided ‘at an earlier hour’. The Ops Officer replied that Stradishall didn’t know themselves until late. The Ops Officer was told to instruct the Officer Commanding 419 Flt that information about proposed operations must be passed on as soon as the Flight knew it.

Bomber Command raids on Germany operated to a very tight schedule. Within an overall bombing strategy the targets were chosen the morning of the operation. Orders were passed down to the stations and their squadrons, and by early afternoon the aircraft were being prepared and the crews briefed. 419 Flight was dependent on orders received from the Air Ministry, often delivered in person at Stradishall. As the Air Ministry was dependent on SIS and/or SOE providing the necessary information, which was rarely forthcoming until the afternoon, 419 Flight could provide only a provisional estimate until mid-afternoon, or even early evening, that they would be operating that night.

Oettle and Keast took off at 23.05 on an operation to ‘Luxembourg, Belgium’. The weather was poor, and they abandoned and returned, landing after four hours.