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Thread: 23 OTU Cologne 30th May 1942

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    Default 23 OTU Cologne 30th May 1942

    Gents,

    Looking for details on 23 OTU operation against Cologne May 30th 1942, especially S/Ldr Moreton. The crew were attached to No.7 Squadron and claimed a JU88 fighter, 7 Squadron ORB makes no mention. Any details on this encounter most welcome.

    TIA

    Steve
    No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron Association Historian
    No.623 squadron Research

    ~~IN TIME ~~

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    Default 23 OTU Cologne 30th May 1942

    Hi Steve

    My Father, Squadron Leader Ernest Ryan Benson DSO DFC & Bar was at 23 OTU and took part in the Cologne operation. He was posted to 23 OTU training navigators having completed his first tour in 99 Squadron on Wellingtons. I have the ORB for this operation and Pilot - Squadron Leader Moreton is listed with his crew. 23 ORB Pershore contributed 34 aircraft - 15 of these operated from Stradishall, Bourne and Oakington. S/Ldr Moreton flew from Oakington in Wellington 'X3' DV653 with the following crew:
    P/O Shaw Observer
    Sgt Taylor W/Op
    Sgt Maddons B/A
    F/Lt Jell A/G

    They certainly did have an encounter with a JU88 fighter and the following is an extract from the ORB:

    "When our aircraft 'X' (Pilot S/Ldr Morton) was flying at 8,000 ft near the Dutch coast in the neighbourhood of N. Beveland at 0230 hours with the moon on the port quarter the Rear Gunner (F/Lt Jell) observed a Ju88 approaching from 800 feet above, on the port quarter. The E/A shadowed our aircraft at a range of 800 yards for about ten minutes, then dived and made an underneath attack, firing three bursts from 400 yards. A cannon shell exploded outside the rear turret, blew in the metal, holed the perspex and narrowly missed the rear gunner. The pilot took violent evasive action by corkscrewing, but the E/A climbed to attack again on the starboard quarter, and then made a third attack diving from astern. Meanwhile the navigator was following the course of the combat from the astrodome, aiding the pilot and rear gunner by instructions and comment. The bomber's rear gunner now fired three bursts which appeared to strike the starboard engine of the E/A. The engine and wing caught fire, the E/A rolled over and plunged to the sea."

    Norman Hood has kindly supplied me with a photograph of the staff at 23 OTU and S/Ldr R H Morton is on this A4 sheet as well as my Father prior to his promotion to S/Ldr. Leave me a message if you would like a copy and all of the pages of the ORB for Cologne - it makes interesting reading.

    Regards
    Mike

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    Dear Mike,

    A belated thank you for the information just returned from a four day break. Excellent news re the encounter. I am in contact with the rear gunner’s son so I would be delighted in any information you can supply from the ORB. Thank you.

    Regards

    Steve
    No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron Association Historian
    No.623 squadron Research

    ~~IN TIME ~~

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    Thought the following diary entries penned by a NZ F/Sgt pilot serving at 27 OTU, Lichfield might prove of interest. He was obviously getting sick of his job at the OTU, so the Millennium raid seems to have brightened up his life somewhat! I have added (in brackets) some addiitonal notes, which I have left in this version. I think most members will understand his abbreviations, but if anybosy needs help, just ask. This is a raw kind of diary! Quite detailed and a good mix of information on ops as well as off-duty time. Love the reference to the Red air force! As will be noted, he was attempting to get his warrant (Warrant officer rank) at the time.

    Monday 25th May 1942:
    Went on eight day leave last Thursday, but it didn’t last long – got recalled on Sunday – there is a bit of a flap on. We have all been crewed up ready for ops – don’t think it will come to anything, probably only a practice. (This of course was Operation Millennium, the first 1,000 Bomber raid).
    Am I bloody well fed up with this place; the G.C. has delayed my W.O. for 3 months for no reason whatsoever. Evidently Davis said he didn’t see why I should get it before Lisle and Allan although he told the Wingco there was nothing wrong with me, and I see no reason why I shouldn’t get it. One thing, I shall take less interest than ever in the Flight now, you don’t get any thanks for putting yourself out. Perhaps should join the Red Air Force. Still, it makes you wonder why you joined this lousy Air Force.
    Lisle’s commission came through today, went down to London to get his uniform. (Editor’s note; when an airman was appointed to a commission, he was required to purchase a tailor-made uniform, which became his personal property; for this purpose he was granted a uniform purchase and upkeep allowance. Mere airmen, including NCO pilots, were issued all uniform items on loan.)

    Wednesday 27th May:
    Our trip was put off tonight because of the weather – don’t know whether it is an op or an exercise, but whatever it is we will be up for about seven hours which is rather long for one pilot. Our bomb load is 3 SBC (Small Bomb Containers) and 1/800 which will be quite enough as it will take us all our time to stagger off with the old aircraft I’ve got. Have been spending the last three days getting the machines operationally fit.

    Sunday 31st May:
    Well, all the flap turned out to be of some use. Actually it was an op on Cologne – over 1,000 aircraft took part including O.T.U.’s and Squadrons. Everybody from Lichfield arrived back safely. Our bomb load was 4 SBCs (Small Bomb Containers) which we at one time reached 10,500 feet – we bombed from 9,000 though. The defence didn’t put up as good a show as I expected – evidently there were too many a/c for them to predict with any accuracy, the flak and S/L (Search Lights) just seemed to go in any direction, and was not concentrated. The town was certainly in a mess – just one mass of fires – shouldn’t think there will be much of the place left.
    It was a beautiful night – full moon – could see aircraft miles away. I think just about every type of machine in Bomber Command passed us on the way out. A Halifax shot a (Messerschmitt) 109 down about 200 yards away from us – Bill Willis (presume a staff Air Gunner at 27 OTU) was just getting ready to have a crack at him when the Halifax opened up with both turrets, and the fighter burst into flames – I saw him explode as he hit the deck. Only had one lot of flak close to us (and it was very close) and that was on the Dutch coast on the way home. Actually it was a fairly quiet trip, and the S/L belt was non-existent. We only carried one pilot and it took us 6¼ hours, which is too long for one pilot – think I just about had corns by the time I got back.

    Monday 1st June 1942:
    Were going to Hamburg last night, but the weather was bad so trip was cancelled. Not suitable tonight either, so are going to Essen instead. From all reports the raid on Cologne was a big success – 1,091 a/c took part, and nearly 900 apparently bombed the target. P.R.U. (Photographic Reconnaissance Unit) Mosquitos went over on Sunday to take photographs but smoke to 15,000 feet obscured the town so they dropped bombs instead. Tonight is the last night of the 1,000 plan so after tomorrow should be back to normal work. These two ops have certainly been a break, only I would much sooner have a faster aircraft; never thought I’d be doing any more ops on Ic’s. (Viz, Wellington Mk.Ic’s)

    Tuesday 2nd June:
    Had a very quiet trip last night – don’t think Jerry even knew we were there. Only had one hair-raising moment, and that was on (over?) the North Sea on the way home. A night fighter – a 109 I think – going in the opposite direction nearly hit us – just passed under our port wing. The S/L belt was a bit more active than the previous trip; it didn’t bother us, but saw somebody get shot down. There was a raid on Yarmouth while we were coming back – saw a Jerry get it – he broke up and came down in flames. Well, I think that finished our 1,000 plane effort for a while, unless we go again next moon period. We only lost 35 a/c last night – all the boys from Lichfield got back O.K.

    Thursday 4th June:
    The last two days the weather has been beautiful, the temp has been well over 80º – hope it lasts. Only wish we could wear a more comfortable uniform. Everything is back to usual now after our two ops – only want another hour for my 700 now; that C.F.S. course certainly put the tune up a bit.

    Friday 19th June:
    Just got back from leave last night, spent it with Mike King (presume RAF) at his home in Penarth near Cardiff. Had a jolly good time, in fact the best leave I’ve had for ages. Met quite a lot of people, went to a couple of dances, and also did some sunbathing, although the weather wasn’t anything startling. We went into Cardiff one day, had a look round the town and saw the castle, part of which was built in 1150.
    Mike’s people were very good to me; it was more like being at home rather than staying with people for the first time.
    Did some flying this morning, and am on again tonight, so will probably have most of tomorrow off.

    Tuesday 23rd June 1942:
    Weather has been quite good these last few days, have been doing a bit of swimming. There was (will be?) another flap on this month, suppose it will be another 1,000 a/c effort, although there is nothing definite about it yet. Have been doing quite a bit of night flying this month, and am on again tonight.

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    Hi David,

    Thank you for the post, a great read, thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

    Steve
    No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron Association Historian
    No.623 squadron Research

    ~~IN TIME ~~

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    Steve,
    I thought you would like it! My pleasure to post it.
    David D

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    Dear Mike,

    I recently read your post with great interest. Squadron Leader R.H (Dickie) Morton was my Uncle. Although he died when I was quite young - more than 30 years ago, I still have very fond memories of him. His widow recently found a clock in a cupboard which it seems was from his Lancaster that was shot down with the loss of all crew except
    himself and his co-pilot. Apparently they had to give each other morphine shots as they were both so badly injured. Anyhow, back to your post. I happen to have my Uncle's log book in which i found reference to the above incident. In it he confirms the JU88 being shot down off the Dutch coast along with the fact that the weather & visibility were good and all bombs fell on target. He signs off with the fact that it was his birthday ! I am struggling to find any information about him during his airforce days so if you have any pointers I would be extremely grateful. Also, I would love a copy of the print if possible and my Aunt (going strong at 93) would be thrilled. All best, Nick Angel.

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    Dear Nick

    Interested to read your post and thank you for your private message. Your Uncle, Squadron Leader R H (Dickie) Morton and my Father, Squadron Leader Ernest Ryan Benson were at 23 OTU at the same time in 1942. I note from copies from the Operational Record Books for 23 OTU that they both went on the first 1000 bomber raid to Cologne and subsequently on the raid to Essen. I will send you copies of these. I will also send a copy of the mugshots of personnel at 23 OTU kindly supplied to me by Norman Hood on this forum. which I would be delighted for you to pass on to your Aunt.

    With best wishes
    Mike

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