Operational Flights (January 1942)
23. 2nd January 1942 ST. NAZAIRE (FRANCE)
Take off time 1735 from Skellingthorpe. Hampden 852. Crew: Pilot F/Sgt. Lord, Sgt. Yard, Sgt. Layne (Wireless Operator,) Sgt. Paul.
This aircraft was one of 36 Bomber Command aircraft detailed on a Gardening (Mine Laying) operation in the Beechers (St. Nazaire) area. Owing to poor visibility this aircraft was unable to pinpoint their exact position, however, the mine was planted in the general area from an altitude of 600 feet. The crew experienced some inaccurate light flak over L’Orient but the trip was otherwise uneventful. The aircraft made a landing at Upper Heyford after a flight time of 6.20 hours. The crew returned to their home base at Skellingthorpe the following day.
Bombing up a 50 Squadron Hampden in the snow
24. 10th January 1942 WILHELMSHAVEN (GERMANY)
Take off time 1655 from Skellingthorpe. Hampden 766. Crew: Pilot F/Sgt. Lord, Sgt. Yard, Sgt. Layne (Wireless Operator,) Sgt. Paul.
The crew was detailed to bomb the Main Railway Station at Wilhelmshaven. They reported a quiet trip out and on arrival at the target found it was obscured by cloud. As they were unable to identify their target the bombs were dropped from 15,000 feet onto the town of Wilhelmshaven but the results were not observed. Flak ships stationed in the harbour were active over the target area
The Lord crew were one of a total of 124 aircraft dispatched by Bomber Command to Wilhelmshaven on this night. A return landing was made at Coningsby after a flight time of 7.20 hours and the crew returned to base the following day. One 50 Squadron aircraft, AE 250 crashed in Cumberland after running out of fuel. Three crew members were killed, the squadron’s first casualties of the year.
25. 14th January 1942 HAMBURG (GERMANY)
Take off time from Skellingthorpe 1710. Hampden 766. Crew: Pilot F/Sgt. Lord, Sgt. Yard, Sgt. Layne (Wireless Operator,) Sgt. Denman.
Bomber Command sent 95 aircraft against shipyards and an aircraft factory. This crew was detailed to bomb the Blohm and Voss yards at Hamburg. This was an unsuccessful sortie as the crew had to return to base due to an intercom failure. They landed back at Skellingthorpe after a flight time of 2.05 hours. Two 50 Squadron crews were lost this night.
Skellingthorpe circa 1941-42.
26. 15th January 1942 HAMBURG (GERMANY)
Take off time 1400 from Skellingthorpe. Hampden 766. Crew: Pilot F/Sgt. Lord, Sgt. Yard, Sgt. Layne (Wireless Operator,) Sgt. Paul.
One of an attacking force of 96 aircraft, this crew was briefed to bomb Hamburg but the operation was unsuccessful owing to the navigator Sgt. Yard’s microphone going unserviceable. The pilot turned back before reaching the enemy coast and jettisoned the wing bombs in the sea before setting course and landing at Coningsby after 6.45 hours of flight time. The crew returned to base the following day. This was the second intercom failure on the same aircraft on successive raids.
When not on “ops” Wally enjoyed rough shooting. He is pictured on the left with an unknown colleague on a winter’s day at Skellingthorpe
Flying Log Book (January 1942)
Wally’s Flying Log Book for January 1942 reads as follows:
Operational Flights (February 1942)
27. 6th February 1942 TERSCHELLING (FRISIAN ISLANDS, HOLLAND)
Take off time 1152 from Skellingthorpe. Hampden 151. Crew: Pilot F/Sgt. Lord, Sgt. Taerum, Sgt. Layne (W/O Operator,) Sgt. Paul.
Bomber Command sent 13 Manchesters and 33 Hampdens on daylight mine laying operations in the area of the Frisian Islands. The Lord crew were one of seven crews from 50 Squadron who were detailed to lay mines in the Nectarine Area, (Terschelling.) Wangeroog was identified by the coastline, Terschelling was pinpointed, and after a timed run, the mine was dropped from 650 feet in a position 53 degrees 49 minutes North. 05 degrees 11 minutes East in conditions of good visibility and no cloud.
Heavy, fairly accurate flak was encountered at the West end of Wangeroog. The crew bought their wing bombs back as no target could be found for them. The aircraft returned to base with 3.50 hours flight time, at debriefing the crew reported it as a quiet and uneventful trip.
After completing his tour at 50 Squadron Sgt. Taerum was transferred to 617 Squadron and was W/C Guy Gibson’s navigator on the Dam Busters Raid. He lost his life on September 15th, 1943 in 617 Squadron’s operation against the Dortmund-Ems Canal.
The marriage of Wally and Joan
Having been granted permission to marry by his C/O Wing Commander Oxley, Walter Layne took a weeks leave to marry his fiance Joan Maunders. The marriage took place on February 15th, 1942 at St. John’s Church in Grantham. Taking advantage of a training exercise three 50 Squadron Hampdens, crewed by Wally’s friends buzzed the church just as the bride was about to enter the vestibule. She was so excited she threw her bouquet into the air.
Pictured on their wedding day Walter and Joan Layne. Wally borrowed his friend Woof Welford’s tunic for the occasion.
A reflective Wally Layne pictured at his sister’s house on his wedding day 15th February 1942.
This was the day Singapore fell and this news which had been received that morning cast a somber mood on the wedding celebrations.
More on the fall of Singapore can be read here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Singapore
Operational Flights (February 1942 [continued])
28. 24th February 1942 HELIGOLAND BIGHT (GERMANY)
Take off time 0326 from Skellingthorpe. Hampden 139. Crew: Pilot F/Sgt Lord, Sgt. Mclean, Sgt. Layne (W/O,) Sgt. Paul.
This aircraft was detailed to lay mines in the Heligoland Bight Area. Owing to a delay in taking off it was decided to proceed to the alternative area, where, in very poor visibility, a rough pinpoint was obtained from flak from the Frisian Islands. The mine was dropped from 900 feet on a dead reckoning position and the parachute was seen to open. 23 aircraft took part in this operation. An uneventful trip was reported with 4.20 hours flown.
29. 25th February 1942 HELIGOLAND BIGHT (GERMANY)
Take off time 2258 from Skellingthorpe. Hampden 151. Crew: Pilot F/S. Lord, Sgt. Yard, Sgt. Layne (W/O,) Sgt. Paul.
This aircraft was detailed to lay mines in the Heligoland Bight Area. Owing to low cloud and poor visibility and adverse weather conditions the crew could not determine their position so the mines were not dropped and were brought back to Skellingthorpe. Total time 4.20 hours.
30. 27th February 1942 KIEL (GERMANY)
Take off time 1740 from Skellingthorpe. Hampden 2094. Crew: Pilot F/Sgt. Lord, Sgt. Yard, Sgt. Layne, Sgt. Paul.
The crew was detailed to bomb the Battleship Gneisenau in Kiel Harbour. The mission was not completed, the aircraft turned back because of an intercom failure. A flight time of 6.20 hours was recorded. This operation was a failure; of 68 aircraft dispatched none could find the target due to cloud cover, although the general area of Kiel was bombed no bombs fell in the town. A raid on the same target the previous evening successfully damaged the Gneisenau enough to put the ship out of action for the rest of the war.
Flying Log Book (February 1942)
Wally’s Flying Log Book for February 1942 reads as follows:
Operational Flights (March 1942)
31. 9th March 1942 L’ORIENT (FRANCE)
Take off time 0210 from Skellingthorpe. Hampden 152. Crew: F/Sgt. Lord, Sgt. Yard, Sgt. Layne, Sgt. Paul.
One of 5 crews sent out by 50 Squadron this crew was detailed to lay mines in L’Orient (Artichoke Area.) The mine was dropped near the primary position from a height of 600 feet. Flak ships anchored in the target area caused the attacking crews concern. The primary target could not be definitely identified after a search of 30 minutes, therefore, the wing bombs were bought back. Returned to the base was made with a flight time of 6.45 hours.
32. 10th March 1942 ESSEN (GERMANY)
Take off time 0130 from Skellingthorpe. Hampden 2094. Crew: F/Sgt. Lord, Sgt. Yard, Sgt. Layne, Sgt. Paul.
An R.A.F. force of 187 aircraft was dispatched against Essen. The crew was detailed to bomb Aiming Point “B” in Essen. Thick ground haze obscured the target and the alternative target, the town of Essen was attacked from 12,000 feet. Bursts from the bombs were observed by the crew who returned to Skellingthorpe after logging 5.35 hours. This was the first raid in a series of 8 raids in 5 weeks against Essen.
33. 10th March 1942 ESSEN (GERMANY)
Take off time 1930 from Skellingthorpe. Hampden 147. Crew: F/Sgt. Lord, Sgt. Packard, Sgt. Layne, Sgt. Paul.
126 aircraft were scheduled for this operation. The crew was detailed to bomb the main square of Essen for the second time on this day. Visibility was poor but the target was identified by observing another aircraft attacking the town. The bombs were dropped from 9,000 feet into a built up area. Flak and searchlights were encountered over the target. The crew returned to Skellingthorpe with 6.50 hours of flight time. This raid was the last of a series of 3 raids on consecutive nights against Essen. The raids were mostly failures. One 50 Squadron aircraft (Hampden AT 173) with P/O Stone and crew abandoned their fuel-starved 50 Squadron aircraft over East Anglia and parachuted safely to the ground.
Hampden P 5304 when with 16 O.T.U. Later, serving as a torpedo bomber with 455 squadron, this aircraft was lost when if flew into a mountain on a ferry flight to Russia.
34. 13th March 1942 NORTH SEA DINGY SEARCH
Take off time 0720 Skellingthorpe. Hampden 140. Crew: F/Sgt. Lord, Sgt. Bee, Sgt. Layne, Sgt. Paul.
The crew was probably searching for 311 Squadron’s (Czechoslovakia) Wellington R1802 KX-P piloted by Sgt J Fina that had come down in the North Sea after an operation to Kiel. No information about this operation other than logged as “Dingy Search Unsuccessful” 3.20 hours of flight time was recorded.
35. 13th March 1942 COLOGNE (GERMANY)
Take off time 1713 from Skellingthorpe. Hampden 152. Crew: F/Sgt Lord, Sgt. Hudson, Sgt. Layne, Sgt. Paul.
This aircraft was detailed to bomb the City Center of Cologne. The crew found the visibility over the target area to be poor. They dropped their bombs on a fire in the center of the city which was illuminated by flares from 10,000 feet; five fires were seen to be burning in the city. The searchlight belt on way in did not cause much trouble however severe flak and searchlights were encountered over the target and the aircraft was slightly damaged by flak. Returned to base with 5.45 hours of flight time. The Gee navigational device was successfully used in this operation for the first time.
A brief description of Gee.
GEE The British GEE system was developed during World War II. GEE used a series of transmitters sending out precisely timed signals, and the aircraft using GEE, R.A.F.s Bomber Command heavy bombers, examined the time of arrival on an oscilloscope at the navigator’s station. If the signal from two stations arrived at the same time, the aircraft must be an equal distance from both transmitters, allowing the navigator to determine a line of position on his chart of all the positions at that distance from both stations. By making similar measurements with other stations, additional lines of position can be produced, leading to a fix. GEE was accurate to about 165 yards (150 m) at short ranges, and up to a mile (1.6 km) at longer ranges over Germany. Used after WWII as late as the 1960s in the RAF (approx freq was by then 68 MHz).
36. 23rd March 1942 L’ORIENT (FRANCE)
Take off time 1915 from Skellingthorpe. Hampden 152. Crew: F/Sgt. Lord, Sgt. Miller, Sgt. Layne, Sgt. Paul.
This aircraft was one of seventeen detailed to lay mines in the waters off L’Orient in the Artichoke area. On reaching the target area they made a timed run from L’Orient, skirting Ile de Croix. Mines were seen to hit the water in the primary position. The sky was moonlit with no cloud but hazy. Landed at St. Eval after 5.50 hours of flight time. The crew returned to base the following day.
Flying Log Book (March 1942)
Wally’s Flying Log Book for March 1942 reads as follows:
COMPLETED 200 HOURS OF OPERATIONS (A TOUR)