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Thread: Operation Ashfelt 25/5/43

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    Default Operation Ashfelt 25/5/43

    Hi

    Any info on Operation Ashfelt would be fantastic.. This involved 12 Mustang squadrons
    My father (16 Squadron) wrote.....Tuesday 25th May 1943 Andover
    The Swan Song for Army Co-operation Command.
    Led by the W/C, we flew up the coastline abreast. Our task was to attack the power station on the edge of a lake from both sides at once.It was chaos. There was cloud on the hills, the squadrons got mixed up, the radio chatter was terrific and the operation was canceled. Three aircraft from No. 2 squadron got lost on the hills before they crossed the coast. I glad Army Co-op is being dissolved as it is all very out of date

    The map he has drawn seems to cover the area inland from St Brieve Bay He has marked Chateauxneuf de Faut? as the point furthest south and Carlais? But there seems to be no records of where the power station exactly was.

    Cheers Motherbird

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    Hello Motherbird,

    I have the following notes on No.2 Sqn.

    26-5-1943
    Operation 'ASPHALT'.
    No.2 Squadron

    'Ranger', to carry out offensive ops on rail movements in the Rennes-Le Mans-Chateaubriand-Blain-Redon area

    Mustang I AG550 'U'
    123600 F/O Norman John MILLER +

    Mustang I AG623 'W'
    11380 F/O David HIRST +

    Mustang I AP210 'Y'
    136693 F/O John Beaton McLEOD +

    All flew into high ground in fog, Kimmeridge, Dorset.

    Mostly, per:
    Second To None:The History of No II (AC) Sqaudron Royal Air Force 1912-1992.
    Onderwater,Hans
    Shrewsbury:Airlife,1992.
    pp.96-7

    Corrections/additions welcome.

    Col.

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    Thanks for that info.

    It seems that this was the same operation although Dad's spelling is different.

    Motherbird.

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    Hi
    The different spelling is probably because your father only heard the name of the operation and spelled it phonetically.The word Col has put is what you would find in a dictionary, most commonly pronounced "ashfelt". It is the tarry substance that covers driveways, carparks and road surfaces. Your father isn't wrong, in a perfectly natural rendering of what he heard, it just means he never saw the name of the operation in writing and had no reason to associate an "invented" name for an op, with the substance that probably covered the runway and was just as likely to be referred to as Tarmac anyway
    Regards
    Dick

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    Cheers Dick

    Spelling is not my hottest subject. Thank god for spellcheck!
    It also explains why there was nothing on the internet about it. With the correct spelling I see there is one post with names of the 3 pilots!

    Motherbird

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    Default Damp squib

    Sorry to say that Operation Asphalt seems not to have been a very successful finale to mark the disbandment of ACC. It was originally planned for 24/5/43 but abandoned because of bad weather; it was re-scheduled for 26/5/43 and again, in the end abandoned because of bad weather. Squadrons moved forward to bases in Southern England or on the South Coast so eg 2Sqn moved from Sawbridgeworth to Thruxton; 4Sqn moved from Bottisham to Warmwell etc. There is no indication that 16Sqn aircraft actually took off the ORB records for 24/5 and 26/5 simply "six aircraft at readiness for operational task".

    The bad weather consisted of a bank of sea fog in the Channel and along the South Coast. The three 2Sqn pilots who were lost were part of a formation of 10 aircraft that was heading out for France and were ordered to climb above the fog but the three pilots named by Col Bruggy failed to climb fast enough or high enough and crashed into St Albans head in Dorset. Not all sqns put up 10 aircraft often only 6 aircraft were assigned. The plan seems to have been to attack the French rail system across Northern France and each sqn was assigned a section of coast and hinterland to attack. I have not yet found any mention of a plan to attack a power station. The 168Sqn ORB seems to include the most comprehensive entry for 26/5/43:

    "The Squadron stood by for Operation Asphalt which after many stand-bys and stand-downs was finally scheduled for the evening; the French coast was to be crossed by all squadrons at 1800 hours. The AOC-in-C ACC came to Odiham especially to see 168Sqn take-off and he gave us words of encouragement before we went. Six aircraft of the Squadron were taking part. The formation were to attack railway targets in the Chartres - Paris - Damville - Mantes - Verneuil - Beynes area, each pair taking a respective stretch of line. Entry into occupied territory was to be made East of Cabourg and exit West of Dieppe. The formation was airborne at 1705 hours; the English coast was crossed at 1720 hours. Over the Channel there was a thick blanket of fog and after striking about 20 miles out to sea the operation was abandoned and the formation returned to base."

    Steve

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    Presson-itis at the Operational/Sqn Level often results in the loss of airframes (replaceable) and/or experienced aircrew (not so easily replaceable). [There are Old Pilots and Bold Pilots - but very few Old Bold Pilots].
    Presson-itis at Command Level - particularly in the face of specialist knowledge to the contrary - often results in the loss of both, plus the operational requirement is not achieved! A triple whammy (as we say in modern political parlance).
    There is a Master's Degree paper in Wartime Aviation Decision Making just waiting to be written by some bright spark.
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    I have some hand drawn maps of the area to be covered by 16 squadron drawn by my father but don't know if i can post pictures on this forum.

    My father definitely flew this operation with 16 Squadron on May 25th

    His entry records....
    Operation Ashfelt . The end of ACC. Flew to coast line abreast. Six a/c led by W/C Bowen. Chaos Cloud on hills.

    1hr 05mins

    Motherbird
    Last edited by motherbird; 31st May 2009 at 15:44.

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    Default 16 Sqn

    Motherbird

    Just to be clear I had no intention to question your father's records/logbook and if I gave that impression I apologise. My point was that the only record in the 16Sqn diary states that aircraft were held "at readiness" it does not even confirm that they took off. It is helpful to know that your father's logbook does confirm that 16Sqn took part if only, like everybody else, without a satisfactory outcome.

    I am sure it would be interesting for everybody to see your father's maps but as far as I know you cannot post attachments on this board.....but I am a bear of little IT brain.

    Steve

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    I would say that it is the best case to prove importance of such documents like Log Books, or unreliability of ORBs. In regard of posting images, it is possible to put them on another website, eg. for storage of photos, and then to post link here.

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