Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: What was a 'Gaggle' Operation flown in 1945 by Bomber Command after V.E. Day?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    174
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default What was a 'Gaggle' Operation flown in 1945 by Bomber Command after V.E. Day?

    Anyone any idea what type of operation a 'Gaggle' operation was, flown post cessation of European hostilities in 1945 by Bomber Command? It is not a site seeing flight over Germany nor a 'Dodge' troop transport operation.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Wiltshire
    Posts
    2,497
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts

    Default

    A Google search brought up this link which contained the subsequent paragraph:
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peo...a2281033.shtml . It's a lengthy story and I had to search hard to find the sentence/paragraph.

    There was a rule of thumb for low level bombing that allowed one foot of height for every pound of the heaviest bomb carried, and since we always carried a 4000-pounder our' lowest safe' was 4000 feet. Kleve, near the Dutch border, about 10 miles from Nijmegan, was wiped off the map from this height in support of the British Army after operation Market Garden, and was one of the two instances when we flew at other than our usual height. The other occasion was a daylight attack on an oil target at Bremen. When the RAF resumed day bombing to a limited degree after D Day, it was done in the same way as night bombing: every crew did their own thing! However, when you could see where the other aircraft were, the tendency was to tuck in close and join the stream, and so evolved the Gaggle. Since everyone was going to follow the leader, the thing to do was to select crews with the best navigators to form a leading Vic. of three to lead the way. On the Bremen Op. mentioned above, we had the doubtful honour of being the starboard element of the leading Vic. It was one of those rare days in Europe when there was not a cloud in the sky, and the force of 104 Lancasters went in at 12000 feet. The reason was that a couple of miles to our left, 19 Lancasters of 617 (Dambuster) sqdn were heading in to attack a railway bridge with some heavy metal.

    It introduces the concept of Gaggle, albeit in a wartime situation.

    Could you provide your source and/or extract in which the word appears?

    Brian

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Northumberland, UK
    Posts
    3,587
    Thanks
    6
    Thanked 60 Times in 57 Posts

    Default

    A bit more here:

    https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.a...document/10044

    "This was no ordinary operation, 294 Lancasters from 1 Group plus the usual quota of Mosquitoes from 8 Group. At briefing we were told that as Bomber Command had been venturing into Germany and particularly Happy Valley in daylight, and, unlike the Americans, had not been attacked by large numbers of fighters, there was concern that because of our techniques in Bomber Command, each aircraft making its own way to the target in the Bomber stream, we might be very vulnerable to fighter attack. We could not possibly adopt the American system of flying in mass formations and do some boffin somewhere had come up with the ‘brilliant’ idea that we should indulge in gaggle flying. No practice, mind, just – this what you do chaps – get on with it. The idea was that 3 Lancasters would have their tail fins painted bright yellow and would be the leading ‘Vic’ formation. All other aircraft would take off, find another squadron aircraft and formate on it. Each pair would then pack in together behind the leading ‘vic’ and the lead Navigator would do the navigating with the rest of the force following. The route on the flight plan took us across Belgium crossed the Rhine between Duisburg and Dusseldorf then passing Wuppertal and North East into the target area. All went well until we were approaching the Rhine when the lead navigator realised we were two minutes early. It was important not to be early or we would arrive on target before the pathfinders had done their job. The technique for losing two minutes was to do a two minute ‘dog-leg’. When ordered by the lead nav, this involved doing a 45 degrees starboard turn, two minutes flying, 90 degree port turn, 2 minutes flying, 45 degree starboard turn and we were then back on track."

    Regards

    Simon

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Lancashire
    Posts
    524
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts

    Default

    There was much more to the painted tails than this one example. There was quite a large number of such painted patterns, and the usual term used to describe these aircraft was "Gee leaders", although I don't know when the term was coined.

    It should be added that the loose Bomber Command formations did prove vulnerable to German fighter attack when it did occur, although I don't know of any time when they encountered the full head on "Company attack", which may not have been still possible at that time anyway.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    174
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Thank you Brian, Simon and Graham. The term appears in the Staion Diary for RAF Kirmington (166 Squadron's base) in July 1945.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Shepperton
    Posts
    731
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    As it was July '45, clearly not a 'proper' op. A gaggle suggests just a loose formation. Are you sure it wasn't a mass sightseeing trip for groundcrew etc?

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •