Airwar over Denmark

Airwar over Denmark

 By Søren C. Flensted

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Lancaster III PB302 ditched in the North Sea 27/8 1944.


The aircraft belonged to RAF 156 Sqn. Bomber Command and was coded GT-B.
T/O 20:21 Upwood OP: Kiel.


After having dropped the bomb load over Kiel the Lancaster was attacked by a JU 88 night fighter. Rear gunner P/O Syd Freeden managed to hit it with fire from his machineguns and it dived away. The Lancaster had however been damaged severely. The propeller on the right hand outer motor was missing and the inboard was on fire. In addition to this PB302 had been hit in several places on the fuselage and on the tail.
Pilot F/L R.M. Etchells flew across Denmark and headed out over the North Sea. The starboard inner propeller was feathered and the fire extinguished. The crew jettisoned the markers still onboard, but was not able to close the bomb-bay doors afterwards. Next the port undercarriage came down and they were not able to retract it again. It was decided to ditch the aircraft, and at 00:40 hours Pilot F/L R.M.Etchells set it down in the sea on position 54`40N 04`50 E which is approximately 230 kilometres west of the island of Sylt.

The Lancaster kept afloat for 4 minutes allowing the crew time to transfer to the Lancaster´s dinghy.
Around noon they were spotted by two search and rescue Hudsons. One of which dropped an airborne lifeboat. One of the parachutes failed to disengage and acted as a sail and pulled the boat away from the crew. The other Hudson dropped a rubber dinghy, which was retrieved along with containers of food and water.
 


                         (Imperial War Museum)

The crew in the dinghy

Later in the evening another Hudson arrived and dropped an airborne lifeboat, but this was lost in the darkness. After midnight the moon broke through the clouds, and the crew sighted the lifeboat and eventually reached it.
At 08:00 hours a Hudson arrived and scared off a JU 88 which was searching for the Englishmen. The crew started up the engine of the lifeboat and headed for England. The wind was getting harder and at 14:00 hours a heavy sea swamped the engine and the boat began to break up. The crew tied ropes to each other and hoped to keep afloat in their Mae West´s when the boat had gone.
 


                          (Imperial War Museum)

S 304 “Ove” of Skagen


Suddenly they spotted a Danish fishing boat that had been guided towards them by a Hudson. It was S 304 “Ove” of Skagen.
 


                         (Imperial War Museum)
 


                             (Imperial War Museum)
 


                       (Imperial War Museum)

The crew have transfered to the lifeboat and is about to transfer to "Ove"

 

The crew came onboard and the Hudson dropped a message stating: Steer 250 degree for England- Good luck. The crew were given food and dry clothes and bunks to sleep in.
On 29/7 at 17:00 hours S304 was met by a RAF Air/Sea rescue launch and the flyers transferred to it. They arrived back in Grimsby, England on the next morning.
The fishing boat and its crew were taken into custody by a Royal Navy launch and stayed in England for the rest of the war.

The crew of Lancaster PB302 were: Pilot F/Lt Bob Etchells, Flt. Engr. F/S Jock D. Gray, Navigator P/O John E. Goldsmith RCAF, Bombardier P/O Al J.C. Croome RAAF, W/Op W/O ”Bill ”E.W.Hay, Air Gnr. F/S John F. Stearn and Rear gunner P/O Syd Freeden.

 


                                  (Imperial War Museum)

Goldsmith with the crew of the Hudson

Pilot F/O Nicholsen, F/O Hollebone, Goldsmith, F/O Curtis, F/O Stevens
 


Sources: Letters from Goldsmith dated 8/9 and 15/11 1969, BCL, AIR27/1042

 

26/27 August 1944

Lancaster I LM127 crashed in the North Sea 27/8 1944

Lancaster III PB180 crashed the in Baltic Sea 27/8 1944

Lancaster III PB302 ditched in the North Sea 27/8 1944

Lancaster III ND807 crashed in the sea off the island of Sejrø 27/8-1944

Lancaster III LM652 crashed in the sea of Kattegat 27/8 1944

Lancaster III PB292 crashed Høgsholt near Vejle 27/8-1944

Lancaster III LM694 crashed Aastruplund 27/8 1944

Lancaster I ME650 crashed at Sønder Grene near Skarrild 27/8 1944


 

 

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