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Jim Harris 234Sqdn & 3Group

Jim Harris 234Sqdn & 3Group
Author: SteveB
Time Stamp:
14:01:11 Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Post:
Dirk

I did not see your earlier post on 21 November (family wedding) and for other readers this post links to "234 Sqdn book" on the "Useful books and research material".

The 234Sqdn ORB records for 7 February 1945:

"In the afternoon the Squadron set out on Ramrod 1454 to escort 150 Lancasters to a synthetic oil plant at Wanne Eickel, in the Ruhr. Owing to severe icing conditions encountered over the Continent, in cloud that extended from 1000 to 33,000 feet, rendezvous was not made with the bombers and the whole show had to be abandoned. At about 1515 hours W/Off Harris, who was flying as Gin 4, disappeared whilst in cloud and his body was found later near Louvain, no more details being available at the moment. Two other aircraft from the Station are also missing and the worst is feared. W/Cdr Bird Wilson who was leading the Wing iced up and lost height from 24,000 to 7000 feet before he recovered. In all it was a very shaky do. W/Off Steedman, with F/Off Bell as escort, landed at Ursel with a suspected Glycol leak, returning back to Base later in the day. Squadron landed back at Base at varying times between 1530 hours and 1600 hours mostly in Sections."

Bomber Command War Diaries (Middlebrook and Everitt) records that this was a 3 Group operation involving 100 Lancasters and that the wintry conditions scattered the bomber force and only 75 Lancasters bombed the target. It may be that Steve Smith can help with more info from his 3 Group studies.

The records seem a bit confused about the a/c Harris flew. The ORB records that he was flying FB229 but the Form 78 records that FB115 was the a/c lost on this date. FB115 was coded AZ*E. I am not an aero engineer but if Harrisís body was thrown out of his a/c it may be that your eye witness heard the noise of the a/c breaking up and perhaps saw two large pieces of airframe?

Steve



RE: Jim Harris 234Sqdn & 3Group
Author: Steve Smith (Guest)
Time Stamp:
19:14:59 Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Post:
Hi Steve,

I will have the No.3 Group reports for you on Thursday if that's OK. Currently away from my files.

Regards

Steve


RE: Jim Harris 234Sqdn & 3Group
Author: pointedefleche
Time Stamp:
22:05:56 Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Post:
SteveB - Thank you very much for the ORB account. Your input is much appreciated.

According to a second witness, Harris's Mustang produced a cracking noise and its engine sputtered while flying over Heverleebos - a forest bordering to Vaalbeek in the north. This witness concluded that the fact that his parachute was hardly unfolded Harris must have bailed out too late. The unfortunate pilot got his legs stuck deeply into the ground. The Mustang lossed one of its wheels about 1 kilometer before it struck the ground. Did Harris try to performe an emergency landing? Was his landing gear lowered and did one of the wheels accidentally hit the tree tops? One will never know for shure.

According to the 'Report On Flying Accident or Forced Landing Not Attributable To Enemy' enclosed in Harris's casualty report, Harris was flying Blue 4, February 7th 1945. How does one reconcile Blue 4 with Gin 4 (ORB states Gin 4 )?

Is it possible for an aircraft to brake completely up in the air as a result of icing?

Steve Smith - I'm eagerly looking forward to your information about No. 3 Group, February 7th 1945.

Many thanks,

Dirk



RE: Jim Harris 234Sqdn & 3Group
Author: Steve Smith (Guest)
Time Stamp:
19:50:51 Thursday, December 14, 2006
Post:
Steve,

3 Groups effort for the day.

Regards

Steve

Wednesday 7th February 1945

Wanne-Eickel (Synthetic Oil Plant)

Day

101 Avro Lancasterís Dispatched

SQUADRONS

622 Sqdn (14) 15 Sqdn (13) 90 Sqdn (12) 218 Sqdn (16)

149 Sqdn (15) 186 Sqdn (12) 195 Sqdn (19)

DETAILS

Time Over Target :1517hrs-1541hrs

Bombing Height :18,000ft-24,000ft

GH Aircraft :36

31 Base :12

32 Base :16

33 Base : Did Not operate

Methwold :8

Damaged by Fighters :0

Miscellaneous damage :0

Cancelled :1

Abortive :2

Lost :1

Tons dropped :340.4

ROUTES

31 Base 5115N 0026E

32 Base 5115E 0018E

Methwold 5115E 0018E

Base 0013E-BEACHY HEAD-5020N 0340E-5000N 0410E-5020N 0435E-0520M 0648E - 5116N 0706E-TARGET-5150N 0712E-5147E 0642E 0420E- 5108 0240E - THE NAZE-BASE

Forming up tactics refer to 30g/S.2274/Opís.

TIMING

Time at Fighter R.P -1400hrs

0500E on track at bombing height.

DETAILS

As one of the heavy mobile GH stations was out of position, the aircraft were obliged to track along a light mobile pulse at considerable range. Consequently the groups effort was reduced. No.33 Base was stood down. The attack can hardly be described as successful, as cloud was up to 23,000-24,000ft reduced visibility. Formation keeping was almost impossible, scattered bombing resulted.

A number of aircraft abandoned the operation due to severe icing. Flak in the bombing area was slight, no fighters were seen.

FIGHTER ESCORT

Provided by 5 Mustang and 4 Spitfire squadrons over route and target. There will be 3 Mustang and 3 Spitfire squadrons sweeping the route. Fighter rendezvous point 0500E on track

Solingen

3 Unknown Avro Lancasterís Alternative Target



RE: Jim Harris 234Sqdn & 3Group
Author: pointedefleche
Time Stamp:
19:09:59 Saturday, December 16, 2006
Post:
Steve Smith,

I thank you very much for the detailed information regarding No. 3 Group, 7 Feb. 1945.

May I ask you the exact name(s) of the source(s) you consulted?

Is it possible for you to shed a light on some of the abbreviations or codes used in the document(s) you consulted?

-What does the abbreviation GH mean (e.g. GH aircraft, GH Base)?

-I guess Base 31 and Base 32 respectively refer to Stradishall and Mildenhall ?

-What does THE NAZE BASE mean?

-Are the routes references in latitudes and longitudes?

-'Time at Fighter R.P-1400hrs.' Does R.P. mean Rendevous Point?

Many thanks,

Dirk



RE: Jim Harris 234Sqdn & 3Group
Author: SteveB
Time Stamp:
12:41:58 Sunday, December 17, 2006
Post:
[font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 17-Dec-06 AT 12:43 PM (GMT)[/font][p]Hi Dirk

I don't think I can help you much more with the detail in this story.

I cannot explain the difference/confusion between Blue 4 and Gin 4 but I can say that the record in the ORB is quite clear as "Gin 4". Where I have the information from my research the 12 a/c of a squadron formation were usually formed into three sections that were given colours: Red Section, Yellow, Blue, White, Green etc. I have seen examples where the section which included the CO had a different title. For example in 19Sqdn the lead section was known as "Dick" section when the CO was Dickie Durrant; the other two sections were White and Green. At the time of your incident the 234Sqdn CO was Major Werner Christie (although he did not fly on 7 February) perhaps Christie liked gin?

The callsign for 234Sqdn in February 1945 was "Hatstand".

I am not an aero engineer but I believe that severe icing can cause an a/c to stall into an uncontrolled dive and the effects of the dive or the efforts of the pilot to regain control of the a/c could cause the a/c to break up in the air. Photos of crashed Mustangs tend to confirm that it was a very robust airframe but when it broke up it usually broke immediately behind the cockpit. I would think it is quite likely that if an a/c broke up then the impact on the hydraulic system is likely to cause the undercarriage to drop.

You need to talk to an expert.

Steve