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Thread: Meteorological Observations and Forecast March 5-6, 1945

  1. #1
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    Dec 2007
    Lions Bay, BC
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    Default Meteorological Observations and Forecast March 5-6, 1945

    On the late afternoon of March 5, 1945 severe local weather conditions in the vicinity of Tholthorpe and Linton resulted in the loss of 7 aircraft and 40 aircrew killed and 9 survivors.

    From the M.O. Form 2373, March 1-31, 1945 Daily weather report.

    March 5, 1945 General Inference: A large anticyclone is centred West of Ireland and a small depression off North Scotland is moving SSE. Weather will cloudy with local rain at first, but some bright intervals are likely later except in the N.W. It will be rather cold.
    Weather observations:
    Barometric Pressure at Leeming.
    March 5:
    Time Pressure
    00:00 33.3 m.b.
    06:00 31.6
    12:00 29.6
    18:00 28.8
    March 6
    00:00 29.8
    06:00 29.4


    Severe Conditions Over Northern England and Crashes

    Dad recalled "The weather was punk. It was rotten!" F/Lt. Geoff Marlow 434 Squadron remembered “…moments after take-off, we entered stratus cloud, and I began flying on instruments. We tried to climb above the clouds, but the heavily laden Lancaster simply would not go any higher. During one of these attempts I took my eyes off the instruments for a few moments, and when I looked at them again, they told me that we were losing height at 1,000 feet-per-minute and were in a 45o bank. As I got the plane under control and back on course, I felt a little embarrassed, but when I looked around at Frank Ferry sitting next to me, he seemed not to have noticed anything unusual, so I kept quiet, and set about trying to regain the lost altitude!”

    On the outward route over Yorkshire, aircraft from the stations at Tholthorpe and Linton were severely affected by severe local weather cells which caused severe icing beginning at 2,000’ . 426 Squadron (Linton) lost 3 aircraft: S/L Garret (7 killed), F/O Watts (7 killed) and F/L Emerson (6 killed+1 survivor) . 420 Squadron (Tholthorpe) lost 2 aircraft: P/O Sollie (6 killed+1 survivor) and P/O Clark (4 killed+3 survivors) . 425 (Tholthorpe) lost 2 aircraft: F/O Lowe (4 killed+3 survivors) and P/O Anderson (6 killed+1 survivor) . Take-off times for these aircraft were 1628-1648 hours. There were 9 survivors from these crashes and 40 crewmen were killed . Upon return to England, F/O. Reitlo and all of his crew were killed, and a Court of Inquiry concluded icing was believed to be a contributing factor.

    Further to this there was general criticism of the meteorological section on the expected weather over the return route over the French Coast:

    The 419 Squadron ORB records F/O Peter Tulk reported that the force should have returned over England at 8,000’ and F/Lt. Fred Dawson stated that the icing at the French coast was too high for briefing heights . S/L Dave Hunter offered the sarcastic and damming inditement that “route and tactics good if Met had been right! ” Dad opined that coming out from French Coast, briefed heights too low for icing conditions. The route called for heights of 5,000' descending to 2,500' at the French Coast. The navigation log for F/O Seale records Dad flew at 15,000'.

    A total of 88 aircrew from 6-Group were killed either in crashes or in combat over Germany. A further 17 Canadians serving with other units were killed on the operation to Chemnitz .

    I would appreciate any comment from the "Met Gen Men" on this forum on this event.

    Last edited by JDCAVE; 4th September 2021 at 22:02.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    Default Re: Meteorological Observations and Forecast March 5-6, 1945


    To be honest I'm not really sure how to answer as much of the post, and especially the para which starts The 419 Squadron ORB consists of vague comments which cannot be answered without access to the actual forecast. For example what is meant by F/Lt Fred Dawson stated that the icing over the French coast was too high for briefing heights. Then, conversely, Dad opined that coming out from the French coast, briefed heights were to low for icing conditions.

    I'm surprised at the reference to severe icing from 2000 ft in the second paragraph. I don't have any upper air data, but the surface temperatures at take-off were of the order of 9-10C, which would suggest a freezing level of 3000 ft (assuming a dry adiabatic lapse rate of 3C/1000 ft) or higher using a saturated adiabatic lapse rate. Interestingly F/Lt Marlow (first para) makes no reference to icing as the cause of his loss of control.

    One 420 Squadron crew (F/O Frassard) commented "Route and tactics quite good. There was more cloud and less icing than forecast".
    There is a suggestion in this squadron's ORB that the two aircraft it lost was due to a collision, with the survivor of Anderson's crew stating he "was thrown out of the aircraft after hearing a loud crash"

    I've not looked in detail at all the ORBs, but what little I have seen suggests other crews had different views on the operation.

    Last edited by Lyffe; 8th September 2021 at 09:15.

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