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Thread: Request to Met Team

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    Default Request to Met Team

    Dear Met Team
    I hope you find this and can help me. Namrondooh said that you may be able to help me with a weather report for 7-8 December 1941. Target Aachen.
    Yours hopefully
    James

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    James,
    Give us a couple of days but it looks, at first sight, as being the sort of night you wouldn't take the dog for a walk!!
    Yrs Aye
    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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    James,

    Not meant to be a silly question, but exactly what are you seeking? En route weather, target weather or weather at base on the return? I ask because some idea of the en route and target weather will probably be recorded in the ORB(s) of whatever squadron(s) were involved.

    As Peter suggests it looks like a pretty unsettled night and although we could dig something out of the Met Archives the crew reports might be more enlightening.

    Holding fire for the moment.

    Brian

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    Dear Peter and Brian
    Thank you for your replies.
    I am specifically interested in OL-Z of 83 Squadron. My great uncle, Tony Parsons was the pilot. You are right that the weather was bad that night which was a contributing factor to them being off course on return. After being hit by AA they ditched because the second engine froze on decent. 4 1/2 days in the dinghy in the North Sea didn't do them much good either!
    All the info on weather I have was from the survivors accounts, nothing from official sources.
    If you are able to find out anything it would be fantastic whether it be specific to the raid on Aachen or general weather for that night. The sea state was very choppy at 05.40 hrs on the 8th when they ditched. Yes weather for the outward trip and over the target would be greatly appreciated, and as they made it half way back when apparently the wind got worse that would be stunning.
    Basically anything you can get...... Please.
    Can you let me know the sources of any info?
    Thank you for your help
    James

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    Dear Peter and Brian
    The airctaft was hit by AA from the Dutch island of Walcheren. They ditched in the outer reaches of the Thames Estuary. I would also be interested in what the moon looked like at the time.
    Thank you again
    James

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    James,

    I'm assuming OL-Z was a Hampden based at Scampton, which suggests a straight-line route. If the ditching was at 0540 hours (do you know if that was GMT or BST) I'm guessing the aircraft left Scampton around midnight. Are my assumptions correct and, if so, what altitude was the outbound route?

    If the above is correct I should be able to provide a reasonable amount of info - but please confirm.

    I should add that if my initial thoughts are correct an angel must have been watching over the crew that night because the sea conditions must have been horrendous for a ditching.

    So far as the moon is concerned 81% of the moon's disc was illuminated; it was at its maximum altitude at 0305 GMT and it set at 1040 GMT. Wouldn't like to say anything about the effect of cloud cover at the moment, although I suspect there was quite a lot.

    Brian

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    Dear Brian
    Thank you again for your speedy response.
    Yes, OL-Z was a hampden flying out of Scampton. The target was "the Nazi Party Headquarters" according to the AHB, but the pilot was told (remembered 50 years after the event) by his CO that it was the "Post Office" or basically that it was a retaliation raid to flatten a bit of Aachen. I do not know what the bomb load was.
    Again from the pilot's memory they "probably did a dog leg over the North Sea, not a direct flight and we turned on ETA because the cloud was fairly heavy, about 8/10ths, so the vision on the ground, it was I think partially moonlit, was a bit difficult" He thinks that they hit the target but as the aircraft never made it back they never saw the photographs. He also said that the wind strengthened considerably after take off. They were unaware of their position when they were hit.

    I do not know the altitude for the outward trip, but they were at 17,000 ft when they were hit. They went into a stabalised yaw and pulled out at 1,000 ft, then with the second engine frozen they prepared to ditch.

    Timings are proving a little erratic but these are my findings so far... some do contradict eachother:

    Surviving gunners POW account gives "take off as 01.20 hrs" and "struck water at 05.50 hrs"

    Pilots log gives time of filight as 4.15 hrs long but there is no time of take off given.

    AHB give time of "take off as 02.13 hrs" "SOS received at 05.30 hrs" presumably just after they were hit. "Last known position was at 06.08hrs" (the key was strapped down on the morse as the aircraft sank)

    The times given by the AHB are the same as those in the 83 Squardon history by Low and Harper.

    I have a report from the battery on Walcheren (local times) which gives battery opened fire at 05.58,, 06.55 aircraft hit, 06.58 a Wellington was hit, 07.30 aircraft hit

    The Dutch MOD have a record that gives time of take off as 02.13 and time of crash at 06.40 though I do not know their sources. This is a post war record and I have not seen the original. I do not know if the crash time is UK or European time.

    It iscredible to think that not only did they pull out of the yaw, but they made a safe landing on the very rough sea. Incredibly the dinghy was undamaged as it was stowed behind the engine that had been hit and was on fire. All four members of the crew did survive the ditching, but one died after 2 days at sea and a second on the third day, both from exposure. The two survivors were picked up by a German escort vessel in the late afternoon on the 12/12/41 having ditched in the early morning of 8/12/41. At least "The Gods" stayed with two of the crew.
    Quite a story isn't it, though I am sure there are many similar ones that will never be told.
    Best wishes
    James

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    A remarkable story indeed, James. Thank you for all the additional data as it means I can limit the amount of data I request from the Met Office. Hopefully I will be able to post a reply in a week.

    Brian

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    Dear Brian
    Thank you very much for all your assistance. I really wouldn't have known where to start on the Met info. I always find it amazing how many records are kept, but it is knowing how to find them that counts. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
    Best wishes
    James

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    James,

    My apologies for the lengthy delay in providing the information you were seeking. There was actually a lot less information than I anticipated from my initial source but eventually found most of what I wanted whilst visiting the Met Office archives on another matter.

    The weather situation was dominated by a deep low drifting south across Denmark, which maintained a very unstable NNW'ly surface flow over the UK and North Sea.

    Conditions at Scampton on take-off were good - a WNW wind of about 20 mph, excellent visibility and very little cloud.

    Once over the sea there would have been 6-7/8 CUSC, tops around 6000 ft with moderate icing above 2500 ft - but on the outbound leg the Hampden would have been well above this.

    Conditions would have deteriorated rapidly as the aircraft approached the enemy coast with 7-8/8 CUCB and extensive layers up to 16000-1800 ft. This would have given outbreaks of moderate, locally heavy, rain or showers (hail and snow in cloud) and severe icing.

    Winds at 10000 ft would have been about NNW 35 mph, and at 15000 ft about NNW 45-50 mph - might have been a touch stronger.

    I estimate the surface wind over the sea at the time of ditching to have been NW 25-30 mph. Visibility would have been good at the time, and the cloud base 1500-2000 ft (might have been a touch higher.

    My apologies again for the delay.

    Brian

    Edit. As an after-thought I should add it's difficult to determine exactly where the crew would have encountered the thicker and more active cloud en-route, but Utrecht was reporting moderate rain at 0400 GMT, so that suggests the change would have been rapid.
    Last edited by Lyffe; 20th December 2009 at 12:03.

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