Tuesday, 6 May 1941


This is the second attempt, flown by the same crew. This time they are carrying two packets of ‘nickels’, which implies¬†neither pigeons nor bombs. The weather is considerably worse: after take-off they flew under 10/10th cloud to the Belgian coast, which they see through a break in the continuous layer beneath them. Flying above continuous cloud at 6,500 feet to the target area, they try to descend, but icing forces them to climb again. They achieve this ‘with difficulty’, and the operation is abandoned. On the return journey they see the mining town of Charleroi through a cloud-gap, and drop their leaflets before heading for the coast and home.

Bombs are not carried again on Special Duties operations for more than a year, and then the circumstances are quite different. It may have been decided that dropping bombs would put the valuable passengers at increased risk: a ‘Joe’ primed for dropping is the result of several months’ training; in some cases they were irreplaceable. The possible benefit to the war from a few bombs is negligible.

Operation COLUMBA

A pigeon arrives back in the UK on 7th May from West Flanders. This could have been one of those dropped by Jackson on 8 April, but a month would have been a very long time to keep a pigeon, unless it had been injured in dropping.