Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 12

Thread: Air strikes on Munsterland - October 1943

  1. #1
    mark surridge Guest

    Default Air strikes on Munsterland - October 1943

    Pierre Clostermann flew with a Spitfire Squadron – 341 - but was part of the attack on the Munsterland in October 1943. In “The Big Show”, his personal memoir, Clostermann wrote : “Half of dozen belated Typhoons passed to my right like a school of porpoises, bearing down on the hell going on behind the long granite wall of the breakwater. ......A Typhoon vanished into thin air in the explosion of a bomb dropped by one in front."

    On October 24th 1943, the RAF launched two waves of air strikes trying to sink the German merchanman and bombs and rockets fired by Westland Whirlwinds of 263 Squadron and Hawker Typhoons of 257 Squadron hit their target but the Münsterland suffered only superficial damage whereas the RAF suffered heavy casualties from the murderous flak batteries. The Operations Record Book of 263 Squadron records, “Flak was fired at our aircraft from more than a hundred guns within range from harbour and ships”, and Flight Sergeant Beaumont added, “It was like a horizontal hailstorm painted red.”

    After further reconnaissance a second low level attack, "below mast height" was ordered by Churchill himself, and 183 Typhoon Squadron led by Gus Gowers claimed two direct hits on the enemy ship but the Cherbourg defences proved too strong and downed three Typhoons including that of Squadron Leader Gowers who was seen to crash in flames outside the Harbour Mole


    My two questions are :

    Did the orders come "from Churchill himself" as the Squadrons understood ?

    And in which wave did Klostermann fly himself ?

    If you can assist me in my researches I would be delighted to hear from you.

    Mark Surridge

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Aubers, France
    Posts
    2,385
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts

    Default

    hello,

    Pierre CLOSTERMANN was posted on 28th September 1943 from No. 341 "Alsace" Squadron to No. 602 "City of Glasgow". With the latter unit, he's credited with 22 defensive missions and 116 offensive ones, including attacks on ships, trains and flying bomb sites.

    So you have to look into No. 602 Squadron ORB, not 341. That's in AIR 27/2077 in The National Archives in Kew. I have extracts of it, but not october 1943.

    Joss

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Berkhamsted & Malta
    Posts
    74
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Attacks on Munsterland 24 October 43

    Mark

    It seems very unlikely that 183 Squadron’s attack was prompted by Churchill’s personal intervention as the day's programme against the Munsterland was planned from the outset as a three-part attack:
    Ramrod 94, a high-level attack by two squadrons of Mitchells escorted by 90 Spitfires of the Ibsley, Perranporth and Churchstanton Wings (Closterman presumably among them)
    Roadstead 77 Pt 1, low-level attacks by 263 Squadron’s Whirlwinds (escorted by 257 Sqn)
    Roadstead 77 Pt 2, low-level attacks by 183 Squadron’s Typhoons

    Note also, no rockets were used in this attack: the Whirlwinds never carried them and 183 Squadron’s Bombphoons were carrying 500 lb GP stores on this sortie.

    HTH

    Niall

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Cornwall/UK
    Posts
    316
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Munsterland attack - 24 October 1943

    Hi Mark

    At the time 602 squadron was part of 125 Airfield (later 125 Wing) and for 24 October 1943 the 125 Airfield ORB states:

    "The squadrons operated to-day from Bradwell Bay, carrying out two operations. Fighter opposition was spasmodic, but it did not evidence itself. During the first Op. escort cover to 72 Marauders occasional attacks were made by small groups of enemy aircraft taking advantage of the intense cloud prevailing. In the game of hide and seek which followed, only occasional glimpses of the enemy were seen and no contact was made.

    Better conditions prevailed later, immediately on their return the aircraft were refuelled and at 1600 hours took off again, escorting twelve Mitchells to the Amsterdam aerodrome Schiphol. Eight Me109s were spotted and engaged after the squadrons crossed the French coast, two were destroyed by 602 squadron, while the operation proceeded to plan.

    Altogether a successful trip, bombing was excellent, hits being made on the field and dispersals, though some tank trouble forced 5 of the pilots to return before reaching the Dutch coast."

    Thus it would have been impossible for 602 squadron to attack Cherbourg and the Munsterland on 24 October 1943 as they were operating from Bradwell Bay in Essex against targets in Holland.

    Although it is a full and interesting account of the days activities against the Munsterland 602 squadron were not part of either the Perranporth or Churchstanton wings.

    From 25 October until 31 October nothing other than local flying was allowed due to the adverse weather conditions, and before that date operations by 132 & 602 squadrons had been in areas other than Cherbourg, in the main operating from Detling, mainly as escorts to USAAF medium bombers.

    In "Fighter Command War Diaries part 4 - July 1943 - June 1944" by John Foreman he gives an excellent and comprehensive report of the activities of 24 October 1943."October 24th - a fairly typical day" as he calls it - the only mentions of 602 squadron confirm my report from the ORB. He lists 8 Spitfire squadrons in the 10 Group Ramrod 94 to Cherbourg and the Munsterland, and 602 is not one of these - 165, 222, 306, 331, 332, 402, 404 and 421. They are also not part of a later attack that day by Bombphoons of 183 squadron, escorted by Biggin Hill Spitfires.

    Clostermann's logbook for October 1943 - it shows 9 entries between 7 - 14 Oct, with a move to Detling from Newchurch on 12 October. Then it shows 5 entries from 16 - 20 Oct from Detling, with the last entry being on 20 October showing him flying IX 66 Q Abbeville - sweep - Arras. No further entries appear for October and it has a small, indistinguishable photo 2 lines under the last entry. Certainly nothing about Cherbourg appears on that page in any of the entries.

    cheers

    Allan
    Last edited by allan125; 31st October 2008 at 18:57. Reason: addition of information from FCWD & Clostermann's logbook
    Allan Hillman

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Cornwall/UK
    Posts
    316
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Munsterland attack - 24 October 1943

    Just noticed a typo from my entry last night - and before one of our Canadian experts takes offence! - please delete 404 from the list of 8 squadrons taking part in 10 Group Ramrod 94 and replace it with 403, sorry!!

    Joss - can you please let me know what parts of the 602 Squadron ORB you hold, either via PM or direct to allan(dot)hillman(at)btinternet(dot)com.

    many thanks

    Allan
    Allan Hillman

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Cambridge, UK
    Posts
    115
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts

    Default

    Hi Mark,

    As you may already know, 263Sqn made 5 further trips to hit the Munsterland: on 28 OCT 1943 with 8 Whirlwinds, 30 OCT 1943 with 7 Whirlwinds, 5 NOV 1943 with 7 Whirlwinds (Aborted, weather), 25 NOV 1943 with 8 Whirlwinds, 26 NOV 1943 with 5(?) Whirlwinds.

    Interestingly, while Clostermann seems to imply that his Squadron and the 36 Typhoons they were escorting were among the first to attack, he claims that "She succeeded two nights later in sneaking as far as Dieppe." Given that all 263Sqn's operations against the Munsterland were to Cherbourg, it leads me to conclude that the Op in his book is actually sometime in very late November or in December when 263 were non-op and converting to Typhoons. Does anyone have a date (Or, indeed, a definitive cause!) for when the Munsterland was finally sunk?

    Hope this helps,

    Jeff Beaumont

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    131
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post

    Default Fate of the Munsterland

    The Munsterland was repaired enough to resume its journey but only as far as Boulogne, where it was attacked and damaged by 198 Squadron Typhoons (using RP) on 1 January 1944. It was reported having left Boulogne on 20 January and 198 and 609 Squadrons went out to attack it mid-Channel. However when they located the ship it was already sinking, having been fatally damaged by the Dover coastal guns.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Aubers, France
    Posts
    2,385
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts

    Default

    hello Chris

    A French author described this rocket attack in a book, "le jour d'après", for Richard Curtis, the pilot who was one of the rocket pilots in the attack (the others were attacking the Flak position) crashed on 20th January 1944 near le Parcq. It was his grandfather who buried the pilot.

    Joss

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Cambridge, UK
    Posts
    115
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts

    Default

    Thanks Chris,

    I've seen the ship variously credited to Beaufighters, Typhoons, and the Dover guns, but no dates for the engagement(s).

    Jeff

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Cornwall/UK
    Posts
    316
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Munsterland attacks

    Clostermann's logbook for October, November and December 1943 make no mention of attacks on the Munsterland, or indeed Cherbourg. So, despite a very good write-up in "The Big Show" they show that he was not an actual participant in the attacks.

    The 125 Airfield ORB for January 1st and January 20th 1944 also show no involvment in any attack on the Munsterland

    On 1 January 1944 only 184 Squadron operated - with Hurricane IV's and fired 64 R.P.'s against Noball targets.

    20 January 1944 - only 184 Squadron was available and they "spent a non-flying day in Tank and a/c quiz". 602 and 132 had gone to Skeabrae and Castletown on 17 January and 453 and 118 had not yet arrived to replace them.

    cheers

    Allan
    Allan Hillman

Posting Permissions

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