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Thread: Details for Bergen October 4 1944

  1. #1
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    Default Details for Bergen October 4 1944

    I am putting together commentary from the primary historical documents to support my father’s audio memoirs of his first operation with his crew, to Bergen, October4, 1944. Dad commented that they took off late taking due to weather and a change in runway at Middleton St. George. Dad remembers his navigator telling him that they were very late and he advised that they should go directly towards Bergen which they did. I questioned dad’s navigator December 2018 (he is/was still alive) and he remembered that was the case. Dad recalled the course put them directly over Newcastle at a very low elevation and the guns of Newcastle opened up on them. This route would have put them at a very low level and well away from the route as shown here:

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Sr...8g&usp=sharing

    The 64-Base ORB indicated that the aircraft were early over the target: “All crews bombed from one to two minutes early. Winds dropped off 15 to 25 MPH, between point “C” and the target, and while the crews were wasting time the MB called them in to attack.” Note that aiming point “C” is Peterhead. Bergen is 320 miles from Peterhead at an initial bearing of 49 degrees T.

    http://heritage.canadiana.ca/view/oo...28/200?r=0&s=3

    The Master Bomber was S/L Swan of 635 squadron and the ORB for his entry is very thin on detail and there is no reference as to bombing time and no reference to “bombing early.” However the 8-Group ORB states: “With perfect weather conditions, the Master Bomber and Deputy had no difficulty identifying both aiming points and dropped their Red T.I. at the point detailed between the two. At 0926 hours the Master Bomber instructed the Main Force to start the attack.” Concerning A/P ‘A’, U-boat shelters under construction, “…The bombing was so well concentrated that the shelters were quickly obscured by smoke and the Master Bomber accordingly directed the remaining aircraft to bomb the centre of the smoke. Bombing continued very accurate, the whole area being finally covered with smoke. A large fire broke out immediately S.W. of the shelters at 0932 hours.”

    The ORB entry for dad’s aircraft (KB.762 “J”) states: “Identified visually. Bombed visually in the centre of smoke concentration. Indications of under and over shooting. A/C bombed at 0929 hrs from 12500 ft.”

    I have summarized all of the available bombing times for the squadrons that were detailed to bomb the U-Boat pens (419, 428, 431, 434, 424 and 433) and these show a very narrow window bombing times between 928 and 933.1, with 82% of the aircraft bombing in a 3 minute span between 929 and 932. Both the mean and median bombing time is 0930. Dad indicated his A/C had bombed quite late in the raid at 929 hrs, however, this is not supported by the records. Note that I have not as yet examined the bombing times of the 30 A/C detailed to bomb the shipping targets in Bergen (420 and 425 Squadrons). 14 of these attacked shipping and 15 attacked their secondary target (the U-Boat pens).

    I do not have a briefing document for this operation so cannot comment on the briefed bombing time. I suspect it might have been 0930 hrs.
    Does anyone have any comments or anything to add?

    Jim
    Last edited by JDCAVE; 26th August 2019 at 20:05.

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    This operation ended in tragedy as bombs hit Holen school, killing 61 children. In all 193 civilian lives where lost.

    Best regards

    John K.S.

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    Thanks John. If you look at the link of the route to Bergen, you will see that I have marked the location of Holten School. Its very close proximity to the target guaranteed it would have been hit during this raid. Very tragic! I cover the civilian losses in my summary of this raid.

    Do you happen to know if the school was rebuilt at the same location?

    Jim

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    Yes, the Holen school exist today, rebuildt in 1954. I do not know if it is on exactly the same spot.
    I know such things as stray bombing happend. My father was a Bomb aimer with 35 sqn.

    Regards
    John

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    Hi Jim
    Don't know if this will help but "Lancaster at War" Vol 4 is almost completely about 635 Sqn ops. If the Master Bomber was from that Sqn there may be indirect references to details from the raid somewhere in the narrative. The book was written by a 635 man unlike the 1st 3 Vols in the series but his name escapes me at the moment. Narrative references may not be confined to just 635 Sqn and the hitting of a school could feature if it was known about.
    Regards
    Dick

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    Hey. Thanks for that Dick. I have all of the Lancaster at War Volumes and I will look through Vol. 4. BTW, the author was Alex Thorne. While we are on the topic of Lancs at War, on page 28, Vol 1 is a really lovely photo of KB.762 J-"Jiggs" the A/C that dad flew to Bergen. I have a high resolution TIF of that photo that I obtained directly from the Canadian National Defense Image Library. I have been trying to identify the "Church" on the left side of the photo, without success. It will help me determine the dispersal pan on which the A/C is located at MSG.

    Jim

  7. The Following User Says Thank You to JDCAVE For This Useful Post:

    Dick (3rd September 2019)

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    Hi Jim
    Thanks for the memory jog!! I was loaned the Lancaster at War Vol 4 by a freind who's recently deceased father was a Nav on 635 in the final year of the war
    Regards
    Dick

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